Saturday, July 26, 2014

Backup Worthy

You know you really like a product when you've bought it again before the one you're currently using has even run out. Sure, we have those ever-repurchased staples (mine include Avène Thermal Spring Water, Klorane dry shampoo with oat milk, Sally Hansen Insta-Dri, Daiso Cotton Puffs, Cutex Nourishing Nail Polish Remover, and of course, Bioderma Créaline H₂O), but every now and then, a product you've newly discovered feels so valuable and indispensable, you can't help but want to stock up.


The easiest way to ensure a routine shower becomes a pampering experience is to get your hands on a simply irresistible shower gel. As soon as I featured philosophy Cinnamon Buns Shampoo, Shower Gel & Bubble Bath from the The Cookbook set in my April 2013 Favourites, I was already intent on restocking the full size bottle from StrawberryNET. And I wasn't even halfway done with my existing 120ml bottle. The creamy, sugary, slightly spicy, doughy goodness was like having dessert in the shower. On the other hand, LUSH Twilight Shower Gel is less food-like, but still intensely sweet, with a hefty dose of calming lavender. Unlike the philosophy, the relaxing, bedtime-priming scent stays close to your skin and lingers even after you've stepped out of the shower. Being limited edition, I rationed my first tiny 100g bottle for months, so naturally I pounced when I saw LUSH selling Twilight again last October.


Taking a couple of minutes to treat yourself to a good hand cream can be a simple but effective pick-me-up during a day at work staring endlessly at a computer screen. The distinctive, heady and bright scent of Crabtree & Evelyn Pomegranate, Argan & Grapeseed Hand Therapy lifts the spirits while providing relief to dry hands. Another fixture in my makeup bag are the Korres Lip Butters. Softening, hydrating, attractively packaged, not too intimidating in terms of colour payoff, as well as multipurpose (I've used Pomegranate many times as a cream blush), there's a reason why I've collected almost all the shades.


Occasionally, a deal will strike me as such good value that repurchasing not only seems prudent, but almost essential. When I calculated that the full size versions of the products contained in the Antipodes Anti-Ageing Minis set would have to be nearly half price to give me equivalent value, I rushed out to buy another box. (The threat of a 'limited edition' label probably played a role too.) Antipodes isn't the cheapest of brands, so on top of the satisfaction of scoring a good deal, I readily incorporated both the silky smooth, deeply hydrating Joyous Protein-Rich Night Replenish Serum and rich, thirst-quenching Avocado Pear Nourishing Night Cream into my evening skin care routine.


Daiso Detergent for Puff and Sponge was such a revelation the first time I used it, I had to secure myself a backup bottle ASAP. No more bending over the sink, scrubbing and scrubbing brushes using my open palm and baby shampoo. Make no mistake, this stuff is life-changing.

The final three repurchased items now seem questionable to me, given the likelihood I'd ever finish up the original product. More to the point, I've either cooled my enthusiasm, a once scarce product has now become widely available, or I've since found superior or equally excellent alternatives.

There was a time when the prospect of welcoming Revlon Whimsical into my nail polish collection seemed as elusive and dream-like as its name might suggest. The moment I stumbled across a bottle at Rite Aid while holidaying in New York City was one of quiet, triumphant joy mixed with disbelief. When Whimsical finally made its way to the shops here, I undid my regret at not buying another bottle when I had the chance in NYC. Despite needing to tediously paint about 4 coats for complete opacity, and wearing it more than any other polish I own, my current bottle shows no signs of being completely used up for quite some time. I may get to opening the backup in 2016.

Savvy by DB Luxury Liner in Shimmering Slate was one of my earliest eyeliner discoveries, and being super affordable at $3 on sale, I bought a bunch a couple of years back. Since then, I've moved on to the efficiency, precision and ease of use of felt tip eyeliners for my upper lash line. I also avoid black on my lower lash line where I'd normally use a pencil, preferring instead taupe or metallic browns.

Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze still remains one of my most adored eyeshadows, but my existing pot has largely dried out, making the texture challenging to work with. While I have a backup right there, I'm hesitant to open the new one when the old one is only about 30% used up. Which really just makes me wonder under what circumstances I'd ever open the brand new one, given solid use over 2 years only diminished a third of the product, and I've put off 'fixing' my dried out cream eyeshadow for months. Time to utilise a backup for precisely its purpose, methinks.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Crystals and Jam

Following my review of Get Your Number from Mariah Carey's first collaboration with OPI, I'm finally posting about another polish from the Liquid Sand minis set I was given for my birthday last March, Stay the Night. Despite looking moody and alluring in the bottle, a jet black base packed with gleaming cranberry glitter, most swatches I'd seen were a letdown. It resembled red-flecked pebbly tar, like charred muck stuck onto the nails with generic sparkly bits peeking through.





With Stay the Night, I'd have to wholeheartedly agree with Cassie's review that only loads of topcoat salvages things. One coat isn't even enough to bring the polish alive, I find I need at least two. Even then, it's still relatively bumpy and uneven in texture. The actual look however, is transformed from ugly and dull to eye-catching and complex, like crushed up ruby crystals in semi-set black jam. The contrast between the colourful, dense glitter and the dark base is amped up, accentuating the appearance of partially translucent layers that give the illusion of depth. The effect was enough for me to describe it as "alarmingly pretty" the first time I wore it, particularly in direct sunlight.

Monday, July 7, 2014

June Favourites

I did a lot more cooking/eating and obsessing over clothing (unusual for me) than indulging in makeup in June, which probably accounts for the lack of posts during the month. Having the house to myself as my parents were overseas also meant exploring my more domestic side, sometimes to laughable results, sometimes in ways that were pleasantly surprising. I can now pan fry a salmon fillet skillfully enough that I wouldn't want to order it at a restaurant. On the other hand, I still can't bake anything successfully the first time. The oven is a temperamental beast.


Chloé Love, Chloé
I don't think I could have anticipated just how much I love this fragrance. It's not like anything from the fruity or floral family that I traditionally gravitate toward. It's distinctly powdery and soapy, but sophisticated, feminine, warm and enveloping. It wears extremely well in colder weather. In the summer, it might be a tad overpowering mixed with heat and humidity. The lasting power is incredible which is always a big plus.


Paddywax Gardenia & Tuberose Jar Candle
I can't even tell you how good this candle smells. If you enjoy gardenia scents that lean a little on the green side, you need this candle in your life. The scent fills the entire room and the wax burns forever. I debated for months whether to buy this after first stumbling upon it at a gift shop last December, but I'm so glad I ended up purchasing it. One of my absolute favourite candle discoveries.


Too Faced Chocolate Bar Eyeshadow Palette
I told myself repeatedly I didn't need this. That I had enough eyeshadows. That I probably already had all the colours in the palette already. When it first came out, I was disinterested and determined not to fall for the hype. But we all know how the story ends — with me forking out $68.95 at Kit Cosmetics one weekend. But you know what? I don't regret it. Yes, some of the colours have annoying fallout (Gilded Ganache, Black Forest Truffle), they're not uniformly smooth and pigmented, I'd rarely wear some of the shades (Strawberry Bon Bon, Candied Violet) and I probably don't need two massive highlighting pans, but overall, this palette has impressed and delighted me. My newest favourite eyeshadow combination is Crème Brûlée (such a standout, slightly dirty yellow gold) and Hazelnut, though I appreciate the inclusion of versatile matte shades for less shimmery options.


Bourjois Little Round Pot Blush in Rose Éclat
While rounding up my top autumn/winter blushes, I rediscovered this little gem from Bourjois. I'd previously overlooked it in favour of other shades of the round pot blushes like Rose D'Or and Rose Coup de Foudre, but I've been reaching for Rose Éclat in the mornings to add some much needed life to my pastier-than-usual complexion. This one has just the right amount of warmth and rosiness without bordering on being too red/ruddy or fuchsia/cool-toned.

e.l.f. Studio Blush Brush
Most of my other well-loved blush brushes like the Ecotools by Alicia Silverstone Blush Brush or Real Techniques Multi Task Brush are round and fluffy, but this one provides a useful point of difference. With its significantly smaller size and flatter shape, it's excellent at placing your blush exactly where you want it, avoiding spreading colour over too large a surface and overdoing the intensity. Although it's quite flat, it still blends well and diffuses pigmented blushes with ease. At $8, you won't be breaking the bank.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Fall Flush

Seasonal makeup can be a little clichéd (summer's all about bronzed, glowy skin and brights, winter is matte textures and darker, moodier colours), but part of me always looks forward to the weather cooling down and the days getting shorter just to bring out my autumnal blushes, lipsticks and nail polishes. Last year, I loved the trend of wine/dark berry lips, but lately I've been itching to bring out the more plummy and rosy blushes in my stash that mimic the flush of briskly walking in the chill.



l-r:Benefit Dallas, Rimmel Genuine Plum, NARS Sin, Bourjois Rose Éclat


Benefit Dallas
I've always associated Dallas with cooler weather as I find it a bit too dark and brown-toned for summer. This is one of those blushes I always wonder why I don't wear more often each time I reach for it. It looks a bit blah in the pan, but I think the colour really suits Asian skin tones and the rosy tan shade gives a subtle sculpting effect while adding a touch of luminosity to the complexion. It almost doubles up as a wintry bronzer while the colour remains relatively neutral (think NARS Douceur), but still earthy and enlivening.


Rimmel Lasting Finish Soft Colour Mono Powder Blush in Genuine Plum (170)
This was a blush I purchased without having access to a tester because I loved how it looked in the pan. It was the most pure, medium-toned, slightly purplish but bright berry colour that just screamed autumn. On my cheeks, I find it fairly similar to NARS Angelika, except that it's matte, slightly darker and more fuchsia. I'm usually not partial to these kinds of darker, berry pinks, but Genuine Plum is such a quintessential autumnal colour that there's definitely room for it in my blush drawer.


NARS Sin
One of the most famed blushes from NARS, I wanted to love Sin but I really struggle to make it work for me. It is the single most pigmented blush I own, and not in a good way. I need only the lightest touch and furious blending to avoid the appearance of muddy, bruised cheeks. I was hoping that the distinctly purple tone and gold shimmer would elevate Sin to something special, but to the degree I have to blend it, the shimmer's mostly lost and it just looks like an ordinary berry red. Lasting power however is excellent, consistent with my experience of NARS blushes in general.


Bourjois Little Round Pot Blush in Rose Éclat (15)
Less reddy pink/fuchsia than Rimmel Genuine Plum, Rose Éclat is like a combination of Genuine Plum and Benefit Dallas. It still has a bit of that burnished, warm, earthy quality that autumnal blushes are known for, but it's a bit more rosy-neutral and brown than something more berry or mauve/purplish. The texture with this baked blush is slightly patchy and on the dry side, not as smooth or pigmented as the previous three. There is a barely detectable shimmer running through but it's predominately matte.