Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Grey Twist

Remember my lipstick ban that I decided to embark on at the end of March? I'm pretty chuffed to report I've done better than expected in sticking to it. In fact, apart from the acquisition of Wet n Wild MegaLast Lip Color in Bare It All (which I'm not counting because a) it was cheap b) I don't have an exact dupe c) I've wanted it for ages and it didn't disappoint), I haven't bought any new lip products. I even resisted adding any of the Colourpop Lippie Stixs to my order. *pats self on back* In recognition of my restraint, I permitted myself to seek out and purchase Essence Longlasting Lipstick Nude in Come Naturally (03), a shade I first saw on Angela's blog that I immediately was compelled to hunt down.

Come Naturally is a very of-the-moment shade. As the salesgirl at Priceline said to me when she asked to look at the shade of lipstick I bought, these "purply nudes" are "in right now". Yes. Yes they are. It's tempting to attribute their popularity to Kylie Jenner, since her name has almost become synonymous with the colour trend. I've never particularly liked medium-toned, plummy/rosy/mauvey/brownish shades as I find them unflattering, overly mature-looking and dated (i.e. reminiscent of the '90s, and not in a good way), but something about Come Naturally feels like a cool, casual, modern interpretation with a twist.

That twist being the subtle injection of grey. Overall, the colour is still fairly light and pigmentation isn't super strong, so it's not too out there or intimidating. It's cool-toned, but not to the extent it drains all life from the face. There's still a good amount of pink and nude to balance out the purple and grey.

l-r: Revlon Honey, Australis Samba, MAC Plumful, Essence Come Naturally, Revlon Sugar Plum, NYX Bare It All

Compared to the shades I already have that I thought would be most similar, there's nothing that comes close. This pleases me immensely and in my mind, completely justifies my purchase. Everything else is a lot more red, fuchsia/magenta-ish, or brown. Though I do now see how similar Australis Colour Inject Mineral Lipstick in Samba and Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter in Sugar Plum are (the latter is a tad darker and glossier). Wet n Wild MegaLast Lip Color in Bare It All is a more traditional nude, MAC Plumful is a lot brighter and more pink, while Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Honey is like a cross between Australis Samba and MAC Plumful.

All in all, I'm adoring Come Naturally. It's an interesting shade that I don't already have in my overstuffed lipstick collection, it's on trend but still very easy to wear, plus it's cheap ($4.70, thank you very much). It has a subtle sheen and is comfortable feeling on the lips, very lightweight and decently hydrating. The pigmentation isn't too intense, so it can be worn lightly for a barely there tint, or built up for stronger colour payoff. If you're interested in trying for yourself these muted, mid-tone, slightly greyish/purply nudes, Come Naturally is an ideal place to start.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

No Miracle Worker

I'm a huge fan of Garnier BB Cream Miracle Skin Perfector Combination to Oily Skin, so when Garnier Miracle Skin Cream launched, I was immediately curious. It retails for $19.99 for a 50ml tube in Australia, which isn't hideously steep but not dirt cheap either. Thankfully, a full tube was included in the recent Priceline skin care gift bag. (It was a real struggle waiting for stock to be replenished to be able to redeem the gift bag voucher for it, but that's another story.) I couldn't wait to slap some of the stuff on my skin and see how it performed. The first day, I tried it as a brightening/skin tone-evening primer underneath my normal makeup, but immediately started noticing issues with how it blended into the skin. Later that day, I was Googling reviews and came across MakeupAlley, where it has a whopping 2.5/5 score. Hmmm...

Most of the reviews on MakeupAlley were negative, some quite scathing. I can understand why, since I'll cut to the chase. There are major problems with Garnier Miracle Skin Cream. Major. I know with any skin care/makeup product, it ultimately comes down to individual experience, but at least from reading others' thoughts, I know I'm not alone.

Marketed as an "anti-ageing skin transformer" that "smooths, evens and illuminates skin", "reduces wrinkles, dark spots and pores" with "micro-pigments [that] automatically adjust to your skin tone" and "an anti-ageing complex with 7 actives [LHA, Pro-Retinol, Vitamin C, Vitamins B3 and B5, Peptides, Antioxidant Ginger] plus SPF15 protection", this is basically a tinted moisturiser where the tint forms upon contact with the skin. It comes out white with some fine granules in it, then blends out to this smooth, orangey tint. I guess you could call it the drugstore/affordable equivalent to Origins VitaZing SPF15 Energy-Boosting Moisturiser.

Firstly, the scent is absolutely overpowering. It's a kind of artificial, sweet, "fresh" but cloying fragrance that is entirely off-putting. But I can overlook an unwanted scent if the product performs brilliantly. If you've ever tried a tester tube in a shop and rubbed some of the cream on your hand, you might be fooled like I was into thinking this blends out well. On the face, it's a different story.

Here's a before and after shot of my bare, freshly washed and moisturised skin, then when I attempted to apply Garnier Miracle Skin Cream. I used Trilogy Balancing Face Lotion beforehand, which is a slightly sticky, quite mattifying moisturiser. The Garnier didn't work well with it to say the least. It started out okay when I applied it mainly to my cheeks and forehead, but things took a steep dive when I applied it on the nose and chin. It was picking up dryness I never knew I had. It was accumulating in areas and not blending out. It was bunching up together in patches. Undeterred, I tried squeezing a bit of the Garnier into my palms, rubbing them together, then smoothing my hands over my face. That only exacerbated the problem. I tried using a very emollient moisturiser like La Roche-Posay Toleriane Riche over the top to fix it and dissolve the patches and unevenness, but it was a lost cause. It was impossible to remedy.

A necessary close-up. Hot mess.

I'd never had a base product be that bad that the only solution was to wipe it all off and start all over again. It wasn't just that it didn't blend out properly and accumulated in patches, it was also that it made my face feel tacky and gross. I started out with fresh, bare skin that was clean, balanced and properly moisturised, and then I undid all that effort and transformed it for the worse, not better.

I ain't a quitter though, so I decided to give it another chance. After rubbing my face with a Simple Cleansing Facial Wipe and then liberally spritzing with Avene Thermal Spring Water, I thought a different moisturiser might be the solution. Clearly, the Trilogy was not cutting it, so I opted for something far more hydrating, watery and plumping. With my face still partially wet from the Avene, I used some Laneige Perfect Renew Emulsion_EX. With some trepidation, I began applying the Miracle Cream again.

This time, the results were much better. Not perfect, but a vast improvement.

I still had some issues with blending out the cream seamlessly, especially around the nose and mouth, but nothing I couldn't live with. Having said that, for the work required in terms of skin prep, ensuring the right moisturiser is used underneath, diligent application and blending with the fingers, and mindfulness not to over-blend lest disaster strike, it's all a bit too much effort for something that delivers the same results as any good, luminising, tinted moisturiser. My skin right now isn't even in bad shape in terms of texture and blemishes. I can't imagine how inappropriate and ineffectual this product would be on problematic skin.

When it works, the coverage is akin to something like Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser and the finish Garnier BB Cream Miracle Skin Perfector Combination to Oily Skin. It does give me a bit of colour and glow and evens out the complexion, though I wouldn't say it's entirely undetectable because of application and blending issues which makes the product visibly sit on top of the skin. The tint isn't too dark for me, though it is a bit on the orange side.

Overall, too much effort for not enough reward. Not that it matters that much to me, but I can't even comment on the promised anti-ageing/"skin-transforming" benefits since it's unlikely I'll use this consistently enough to notice a change, if any happens. Ain't no one got time for something this temperamental. Maybe if I had no comparable products, I'd continue to use this on good skin days after prepping my face with lots of moisture and finding the best moisturiser to pair it with through trial and error, but when a product is this fundamentally unreliable, it has no value to me other than for occasional experimentation. A new, everyday workhorse base this isn't.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Spliced Nails in the Bag

It's not every day that your nails unintentionally match your bag. A couple of people thought my manicure was a deliberate reference to my new Gorman Casato Splice Tote, but I assured them it wasn't planned. Perhaps it was entirely subconscious. Either way, pink/peach and pale gold is a foolproof combination that's equal parts girly and dressy, with a bit of pizzazz but nothing gaudy. I was considering painting just a single gold accent nail but decided I needed something more elaborate. I used Essie Van D'Go, China Glaze Stellar and trusty ol' sticky tape to achieve the look.

The same people that commented that my nails matched my bag also were stumped at how I painted the triangles. I was quick to point out I really didn't put in that much effort and the sharp edges certainly weren't freehand. Tape is the answer and it makes things super easy. Paint your nails with the pink/peach colour as you would normally, let that dry, get two pieces of sticky tape and place on either side of the nail to form a triangle shape in the middle, paint over that area with the gold, let the polish settle for a couple of minutes, remove tape. Apply a generous layer of top coat to lock it all in and ensure a smooth, glossy, even surface. Simple as that.

The Gorman obsession just won't let up. Since my Pom Pom Pom Scarf, I may have made some other sneaky purchases. The damage to my wallet is real. I saw the Casato Splice Tote a few months ago, but I couldn't bring myself to spend almost $200 on two flaps of leather, especially since the bag lacked any zips. One day, I noticed it disappeared from the Gorman website, so I figured it had sold out and it wasn't meant to be. To my surprise, I checked a couple of days later and it was there, plus on sale. If past experience had taught me anything, I knew I had to act quickly. There was no room for hesitation if I didn't want to miss out. Sure enough, after I bought mine, it once again sold out. The perfectionist in me could nitpick at a minor scratch and small dint in the gold leather when the bag arrived, but given it was probably the last one, I'll content myself at managing to secure it.

If I really did want to channel inspiration from my bag, I'd probably have picked a pale, slightly lavender pink like OPI Panda-monium Pink rather than the pastel peachy-pink of Essie Van D'Go. China Glaze Stellar is pretty close to the gold section of the bag, but a better match would be something brighter and more yellow (I thought about OPI GoldenEye but that's way too in-your-face and orange). Plus, I missed the black altogether. Maybe I could incorporate some additional texture similar to the pebbled leather by painting OPI Black Shatter over black nail polish. Manicure idea for next time.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

High End Highlighter Wardrobe

Highlighter seems to be having a resurgent moment, despite never truly dropping off the radar. Still, with the release of Becca x Jaclyn Hill Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Champagne Pop (purportedly breaking Sephora records for sales of a new item) and talk of "strobing", highlighting seems to be back bigger than ever. I've always loved highlighter (the obsession started at the very beginning of the blog), and still regard it as one of the most enjoyable aspects of makeup. Here, I've rounded up my high end powder highlighters. Among them are some of my favourite makeup items ever.

theBalm Mary-Lou Manizer
Generally regarded as one of the best highlighters out there, and for good reason. For anyone remotely into highlighter, the Mary-Lou Manizer is a must have (chances are, you already own it). This is the strongest, most visible highlighter out of the 5 I've featured. The texture can't be faulted: smooth, soft and buttery, almost creamy, not powdery in the slightest. It blends effortlessly. As it's so pigmented, it requires a light hand and applies best with a small fluffy brush like the SUQQU Cheek Brush.

Napoleon Perdis The Ultimate Contour Palette Highlight shade
Recently included in my January 2015 Favourites, there's been no loss of enthusiasm since. This one is special because it's glowy as opposed to shimmery or metallic. It's also the most refined in that you can't detect any shimmer particles — it just projects a luminous sheen. Excellent texture and quality.

Stila All Over Shimmer Powder in Kitten
I was fortunate to win this in the Stila Party in a Box set that also had a Lip Glaze in Kitten. Since then, I admit I haven't reached for it very often. I do like the colour, but texture-wise it's a bit chunky and not as finely milled as the others. The shimmer is more frosty on the skin and looks slightly gritty and dry.

Dior Diorskin Poudre Shimmer in Amber Diamond
One of those products I'm so thankful to have in my makeup collection, because I'm not sure how I could get my hands on it now. Christine of Temptalia calls it her "all-time favourite highlighter", though that declaration was 7 years ago. Still, I can understand why. As it's a gradated strip, there's more choice and versatility with the colour selection. Overall, it produces a very flattering, softly glowy effect that instantly adds radiance and dimension to the face. It has a slightly harder texture than the others so I prefer using it with a flatter, firmer brush like the Real Techniques Setting Brush. A softer, fluffier brush might not pick up enough product and distribute it in a concentrated enough manner along the cheekbones. Full review with swatches here.

Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow Highlight shade
Ahhh, the Filmstar Bronze & Glow. Such an incredible contouring palette and worth every penny. The Highlight shade in this duo is powerfully luminising but not greasy or pore-accentuating. Being so smooth and soft in texture but not crumbly, it blends with hardly any effort. I almost exclusively apply it with the Charlotte Tilbury Powder & Sculpt Brush which places and diffuses the product brilliantly.

l-r: theBalm Mary-Lou Manizer, Napoleon Perdis Highlight, Stila Kitten, Dior Amber Diamond, Charlotte Tilbury Highlight

l-r: theBalm Mary-Lou Manizer, Napoleon Perdis Highlight, Stila Kitten, Dior Amber Diamond, Charlotte Tilbury Highlight

Colour-wise, theBalm Mary-Lou Manizer is the most yellow-leaning/champagne. The Napoleon Perdis is an ethereal pearly pink and the lightest. Stila Kitten is a rose gold/pinky bronze with a touch of frostiness. Dior Amber Diamond (mixed together) leans the most orange/copper, though the exact colour obviously depends on what section of the strip your brush is dipped into. (The lightest shade to the left, a pale yellow gold, is a stunning inner corner highlight.) The Charlotte Tilbury is like a peachier Mary-Lou Manizer, with glints of yellow, orange and pink when inspected under the light.

There's just something about highlighter that injects instant glamour and lift to the face. It literally brings light to the complexion and is that final, beautifying step that ties everything together. I don't wear it every day, but when I do, I'm reminded how much an impact it does make. Plus, it's just fun. Who doesn't want to cheat higher, more prominent cheekbones or give themselves a touch more glow? Since I took photos for this post, I may have purchased theBalm Cindy-Lou Manizer and pre-ordered Becca Champagne Pop. I'm still looking to eventually add Kevyn Aucoin Candlelight to my collection. And while it's not a powder, I think I need some of the MAC Cream Colour Bases. I was fixated on highlighter in the early stages of the blog and I'm still hunting down highlighters now. Some old loves show no signs of fading.
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