Saturday, March 31, 2012

Twice Naked

Being devoid of self-control, it was inevitable I'd cave in and buy the Urban Decay Naked2 palette. Let me just say upfront: I don't regret it. In fact, I kind of wish I hadn't held out for so long. I've purchased so many cheaper "alternatives" in the hope of replicating some of the shades in the palette, when really I should've just bought the real thing months ago.

It's natural to compare Naked2 to the original Naked palette. Naked2 comes in a far sturdier and heavier tin case, which I find a little thick and clunky. On the surface, the packaging seems a lot more impressive than the cardboard of the original, but when it comes to usability, I actually prefer the thinner and more lightweight design of the first Naked palette. The magnetic strip which satisfyingly clicks when you close the front flap makes the eyeshadows more readily accessible than the tin casing of Naked2, which requires a bit more effort to open and close. Included is a dual-ended brush which is quite stiff and synthetic-feeling. I'm not interested in using it as I prefer smaller and much softer, fluffier brushes. There's also a mini Lip Junkie gloss which has a nice cooling mintiness, though the travel size Primer Potion that came with the original Naked would've been a more popular inclusion.

Minor complaints about the revamped packaging aside, the colours of Naked2 are absolutely gorgeous. I dare say I prefer them to the the original Naked palette. I bought the first Naked palette two months ago and while I do love it, I find the overall shade selection to be on the darker side. For everyday wear I've been using a combination of Smog/Darkhorse or Toasted/Hustle, the lighter colour over the lid and the darker one closer to my lash line and blended out. Occasionally I'll use Sin and/or Virgin as an inner corner highlight or Gunmetal over the lid for a smokier eye. I basically haven't touched the two matte shades (Naked and Buck), Half Baked, Sidecar or Creep. Half Baked is repeated in Naked2, which has drawn understandable criticism. It's a pretty shade, but being a very warm, yellow-leaning, shimmery gold, it's not versatile enough to get much use on a day-to-day basis. It could just be the excitement of the new, but I just feel that there are more standout shades in Naked2 (Suspect, YDK, Snakebite and Busted) that are the type of colours I consistently find myself searching for, and that I'm truly glad to own in this palette. The colour selection is also more tailored for everyday wear.

Naked and Naked2 are sufficiently different to justify having both, especially if you're a neutral eyeshadow fan. If anything, rather than being a deterrent, one of the main attractions of these palettes is the price. You're looking at $50-60 for 12 superior quality eyeshadows in an array of wearable and more dramatic shades. Having both palettes would comfortably satisfy most of your eyeshadow needs.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Peachy Match

I've previously mentioned Revlon Top Speed in Peachy, but it deserves a post of its own. Judging from the bottle, I was a little concerned this would be too bright and neon, as opposed to having that milky pastel quality I favour. I find Peachy to be quite unique, in that it's very much like a bright orange polish, but with a distinctive pastel peach tone. Rimmel's I Love Lasting Finish in Apricot Punch, which I initially thought would be very similar, is clearly darker and more red-toned. I needed 3 coats of Peachy to get saturated and smooth coverage. Formula was a little on the thick side, but dry time was reasonable.

With flash

Botched attempt at rudimentary nail artwork (the wonky ring finger ruined it)

I've noticed that I've been wearing a lot of bold, colourful polishes lately, possibly in a modest attempt to brighten up the office drudgery of my weekdays. Purely coincidentally, my blazer and nails one day were an uncanny, perfect match. Evidently my brain can't get enough of this colour.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Less Than Adored

Sportsgirl’s beauty products have always been a little hit and miss. I have a heap of their nail polishes, and while the formula isn’t amazing, it’s perfectly adequate for the price point ($7.95, but often on sale for $4.95 or cheaper). The large array of shades are constantly updated to deliver the latest trends and there's one to fit every occasion and mood. I use their dual-ended eyeshadow brush every day and I’m a fan of their liquid eyeliner pen and matte lipstick in Fruit Tingle. Some of their lip glosses were huge disappointments though, with very little pigmentation, synthetic smell and taste, and gimmicky packaging (I don’t really need my lip gloss opening up and emanating blue public toilet lighting).

I spotted this Work of Heart eyeshadow palette few months ago when it was on sale. The cute packaging and the combination of wearable and bolder shades made me curious to give it a go. There wasn’t a tester in the store and while I’m usually a little wary of cheap eyeshadow palettes, I'd been using two neutral shades in Sportsgirl's Time to Shine Bronze Cosmetic Palette almost on a daily basis, so I had fairly high hopes I'd like at least a few of the colours.

For the sake of taking a photo, these were swatched like my life depended on it. To cut to the chase, as pretty as they look, these eyeshadows are not good. They're powdery, chalky, lacking pigmentation and devoid of staying power. I wiped these off my arm with a tissue without a trace of residue. There are more matte and light shades here than in the Bronze Cosmetic Palette, which probably accounts for why Work of Heart is chalkier and less pigmented. If you were so inclined, you could try to make these work with a primer and a white base, but that's too much effort for me.

Notwithstanding the fact I can't imagine myself wearing the more colourful shades (that red on the end looks especially challenging), the fact that they're so underwhelming in quality effectively makes them useless. The second and third shades from the left (the glittery peachy gold and lilac-toned silver) are the only workable ones that aren't complete duds in terms of pigmentation and texture. They're actually quite nice colours and I did wear them out once when I first bought the palette. Not sure whether it's worth keeping the whole thing just for them though. Either way, for affordable makeup, Sleek this ain't. I'll definitely need to be convinced from swatching available testers at the store if I decide to take another chance on Sportsgirl eyeshadows in the future.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cheeks, Lips, Eyes

Revlon's Multi-Use Palette was one of the better bargain buys I've made. I picked it up at Priceline for $4.9, when it was reduced to $7 and they had a 30% off all Revlon sale. Apparently Gucci Westman, who had a hand in its design, likes this limited edition palette for "a little contour". It consists of two cheek shades (a shimmery highlight and a peachy blush), two eyeshadows (a reddish/dark brown and blueish medium grey), and a lip colour in a bright, raspberry-toned red.

Direct sunlight

Cool, indirect light 

 Close up of the shimmer in the highlight shade

I really appreciate the versatility of this multifunctional cream palette but I wish the two eyeshadows were different shades, as I don't feel the colours are all that flattering on me. The grey is slightly muddy-looking, and I can't seem to make the brown work at all. I usually use Revlon cream shadows as a base for powder eyeshadows, as they're not the most pigmented or long-lasting on their own.

The cheek shades redeem the palette for me. The orange gives a warm, peachy flush which applies effortlessly and looks natural. The white highlight shade doesn't look like much at first glance, but contains the most gorgeous golden shimmer. It might be too glittery for some and I wouldn't wear it during the day, but it's something special on top of the cheekbones for a night out. The lip colour is a vibrant but surprisingly wearable berry red. It's rare to find a red that is both flattering on my skin tone and not too intimidating. It's matte, long-lasting and doesn't transfer. Buildable in intensity, I'd only wear this as a stain, but there's always the option to go all out and layer the colour on with a lip brush for precision and maximum effect.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Taupe and Tan

I don't have many NYX products, just two single eyeshadows in Iced Mocha and Sparkle Cedar, two eye/eyebrow pencils in Sapphire and White Pearl, and a Jumbo Eye Pencil in Milk. I know you can order NYX off Crush Cosmetics and Cherry Culture, but I haven't resorted to online shopping just yet. All my NYX purchases have come from chemists or random cosmetics stalls and shops, which has at times made me question their authenticity. (Though it doesn't really make sense to me why anyone would want to produce fake NYX products, considering how affordable their range is.) What confuses me about the pair of single eyeshadows I have are the inconsistencies in packaging, weight and the ingredients listing between the two. Firstly, the "NYX" branding at the front of Sparkle Cedar is slightly different to Iced Mocha, with the font being less spaced out and bolder. Iced Mocha is made in China and 2g, but Sparkle Cedar is made in South Korea and 2.7g. Confusing times. I can only suppose they were manufactured in different batches, one being to newer specifications and the other older.

l-r: Iced Mocha, Sparkle Cedar

In sunlight

Being boring and unadventurous, I naturally gravitated towards these two neutrals for everyday wear. I never noticed how similar these two shades are until I swatched them side by side. Iced Mocha has been tipped as a dupe to MAC's Satin Taupe, but somehow I doubt that. It seems too one-dimensional and the texture is a little on the chalky side. It is however a unique shade to my collection, namely a cool-toned brown. Sparkle Cedar is lighter and more like a sparkly, cool-toned beige. This has a very frosty finish in that the silvery glitter seems to lie on top of the shadow when it's applied. If you apply more, the colour doesn't necessarily intensify, but rather the shimmer on top which can get scaly. Generally however, these eyeshadow singles are well pigmented, easy to apply and good quality for the price. If I had better access to them, I'd most likely have a few more.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

More of the Same

A horrible thing happens to human psychology when something goes on sale, namely we manage to overlook the basic unsuitability of an item and other flaws as soon as it gets slapped with a discounted tag. Or maybe that's just me. Related to that, I think I will have attained makeup transcendence when I embrace the fact I already have too much, and accept that what looks good on others or by itself doesn't necessarily look good on me. And then not buy it.

Unfortunately, last week was not one where any of those points where observed. I managed to buy Revlon's Top Speed nail polish in Peachy, Face of Australia Lip Quench lipstick in Pink Champagne, BYS Longwear Lipstick in Beautifully Bare, Sportsgirl Nail It! nail polishes in Fresh, Iceberg and Cornflower, and a compact mirror from Cotton On Body. I also bought the Simba blazer from Cotton On in Desert Blush, but only because it was the only colour in my size though I really wanted the black.

l-r: Sportsgirl Nail It! Cornflower, Iceberg, Fresh

l-r: Face of Australia Lip Quench in Pink Champagne, BYS Longwear Lipstick in Beautifully Bare

Need to stop buying the same products over and over again: blue-based pink lipstick, nude lipstick and pastel nail polish (mint, baby blue, peach). I've been wearing Cornflower on my nails since I bought it, a bright medium blue which could probably be a little more on the periwinkle side rather than primary blue. Still, it's a vibrant hue that adds a pop of colour while still being relatively toned down for a bright. Face of Australia Pink Champagne was a lipstick that I've had my eye on for a while, but resisted buying until now. Even at 20% off, I have way too many similar shades to warrant the purchase. It looks quite yellow-based in the tube, but once worn is more of a slightly sheer, pastel purplish-pink which doesn't complement my colouring. On the other hand, BYS Beautifully Bare is one of the more wearable nudes I've come across, with its warm pink tone undertone. The bow-decorated compact mirror was a bargain at $2 and is reasonably sized for travel. It beats the smaller Sportsgirl one I purchased for more than triple the price, which has a magnifying side that I try to avoid at all times.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Night and Day

If there's a single rule I adhere to when it comes to skin care, it's the importance of changing it up. No matter how effective a product is, I always find that it doesn't work as well if I use it nonstop for a few weeks. Once I switch to another product (often returning to ones I've neglected or put aside), my skin generally appreciates and responds positively to the shake up. I'm truly unfussy about the creams I put on my face and haven't really tried any higher end or specialised skin care brands. I just need SPF in my day cream and pretty much anything will do for my night cream (though bonus points if there's some hocus pocus marketing buzzwords in the ingredients so I can delude myself into thinking "science" is working its magic on my skin while I sleep). Here's a few products I've been rotating:

Day creams

Dove Energy Glow Brightening Moisturiser I bought this cheaply at Priceline when it was on sale. I'd been using and liking Dove's Energy Glow Night Cream, so I was hoping that I'd feel similarly about the day lotion. While the formula is quite similar, I don't tend to use this one in the mornings. Firstly, the artificially sweet scent is cloying and off-putting. There are shimmery particles in this which do give a brightening effect, but I'm not convinced that I want my moisturiser to be glittery. If there's one thing I do like, it's that there is a slight white cast to this lotion which effectively lightens the complexion.

Dove Essential Nutrients Day Cream The product I continue returning to, I've used this for years and gone through numerous jars. It's very moisturising in a way that can exacerbate oiliness of the T-zone, so I usually just use this on my cheeks. I appreciate the fact it has a light scent in contrast to Energy Glow. It also makes a great base for foundation because the moisturising properties of the cream eliminate any dry areas and really help to absorb the foundation into the skin and blend it smoothly.

Neutrogena Healthy Defence (Combination/Oily) This was a freebie with InStyle a couple of months ago which I thought was a good deal since the moisturiser retails for $17 and the magazine was about $8. Initially the main thing that attracted me to it was the high SPF. I'm used to relatively thick creams so I found the runny and thin consistency of this lotion a bit unusual. This isn't all that moisturising, but it is genuinely effective in terms of minimising oil production during the day. It's light and quickly absorbed without any greasiness. It forms a kind of slipperiness to the skin which helps foundation to absolutely glide on. I use this around my nose, chin and forehead, but Dove Essential Nutrients on my cheeks. Because I'm weird like that.

Night creams

Nivea Soft I've used this since I was a kid. The perfume is a little too strong and it's extremely greasy, but it's just easy. When I can't be bothered, I'll take a generous dollop of this onto my palm, rub my hands together, close my eyes and massage my whole face. Instant hydration, and then I get to sleep. At the end of 2010 while I was in Shanghai in the midst of a terribly dehydrating winter, Nivea Soft was nothing short of a lifesaver. I keep a small jar of this in my bag in case I notice my foundation has become a little cakey on parts of my face. A dab of this rubbed over the area removes any unsightly dry patches.

Dove Energy Glow Night Cream An old favourite and one I repurchased constantly, but I think it's been discontinued so I'm most likely down to my last jar. Somehow, the scent of the Energy Glow night cream isn't as overwhelmingly sweet as the day version. While the day lotion can get a little chalky and I really need to work it into the skin for it to be absorbed, the night cream is more moisturising and readily absorbed. It's still relatively light for a cream and non-greasy. I wish they still made this one.

Elizabeth Arden Perpetual Moisture 24 Cream Picked this up a while ago at Chemist Warehouse while it was on sale for $19.95 (RRP is $80 or something ridiculous). Considering it was only a few dollars more than the Dove and Nivea I normally use, I decided to give it a go. At first it seemed a lot like certain cheaper hydrating/cooling/cucumber/"aqua" type lotions I'd used in the past. But after using it for a few months, I find it really works in bringing dry skin back to life. This has been my go-to night cream of late, though it's not marketed as such. It's seriously hydrating but still light, non-greasy and quickly absorbed. You really only need a small amount for the whole face. I also like that it has a refreshing, green scent that isn't sickly sweet or overpowering.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

All About OPI

A recent attempt at organising all my beauty products revealed that my weakness definitely lies in nail polish. I seem to have litres of the stuff. While my Revlon nail polish collection continues to grow, my OPI collection remains modest but treasured. Part of the reason why I don't have that many OPI polishes is the exorbitant price of OPI in Australia. The limited edition, chunky, dense glitters that I'm generally drawn to can also be a little hard to find. (Still lamenting the fact I never managed to track down Mad as a Hatter from the Alice in Wonderland collection.) If price and availability weren't an issue, my whole nail polish stash would be OPI. It's just better.

From left to right: Rainbow Connection, You Don't Know Jacques!, Parlez-Vous OPI?, Teenage Dream, Not Like the Movies with Black Shatter (which dries matte) and clear top coat.

You Don't Know Jacques was the first ever OPI polish I bought, after seeing it on Rumi's nails and deciding that I had to have it (she sells it so well in this picture). It's a dark mushroom/taupe which shouldn't be flattering or even interesting, but somehow just works. Parlez-Vous OPI? was a spontaneous purchase, I was immediately drawn to this slightly dusty, medium-dark purple. This was before my nail polish habit blew up, so I didn't have anything remotely like it. I probably didn't even have a single purple polish. I don't wear this in warmer weather but it's the perfect polish for the colder months.

I've already waxed lyrical about OPI's glitter polishes. Teenage Dream encapsulates everything I love about nail polish. I must scout a backup bottle. I'd recommend painting Rainbow Connection with a light, neutral base coat (shimmer or creme), because I don't think it looks as good over a naked nail, which I've done in these swatches. I usually don't have issues removing glitter polish, only because after a few days I find it comes a bit loose by itself and I just peel it off.

The same polishes as the previous picture, but substituting the index finger with My Private Jet and the middle finger with The One That Got Away. My Private Jet is supposed to have holographic glitter but it doesn't really show except under flash photography. A friend remarked it's reminiscent of a granite kitchen benchtop which is extremely accurate. The One That Got Away is much richer and deeper than the picture shows, a jewel-toned garnet/wine metallic with raspberry shimmer. If Katy Perry did anything right, it was her OPI collaboration.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Back to Bare

Much like my makeup organisation, my skin care routine is fairly abysmal. I pretty much just cleanse and moisturise twice a day, morning and night. Every now and then I'll exfoliate and even less frequently, I'll put on a mask. I use this Dove Cleanser and Toner in One every day. I haven't tried any higher end brands but this one does the job for me. I've been using it for years and while I wouldn't recommend it for removing heavy makeup, it's sufficient for removing light, everyday makeup and leaves the skin feeling cleansed without any tightness or dryness. What I most love about it is that unlike Dove's Foaming Make Up Remover which stings like a mofo when I use it around the eye area, I can literally almost rub this into my eyes and I barely feel anything. No mean feat.

The Bioderma Créaline was something I had to get after discovering its cult status as a staple in the kit of makeup artists and amongst models. I first saw it in action in Lisa Eldridge's Makeup Removal video and was amazed that a cotton pad soaked in some of the solution could remove most of her heavy eye makeup (false eyelashes included) in one swipe. When I first tried it out, admittedly I wasn't really enthused by it. It worked fine, but I couldn't really see the fuss. Given that it's not cheap or readily available, I'd guess most people would use Créaline primarily as an eye makeup remover (as opposed to the rest of the face as well), since it makes sense to use better quality, gentler products on the most sensitive and delicate area. But in terms of effectiveness, I thought there were probably other less expensive and more accessible options that could perform just as well (for example, Neutrogena's Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover which I'd been using).

The more I used it though, the more I started to see its worth and the qualities about it that made it far superior to ordinary makeup removers. The micellar solution is basically like water that effortlessly dissolves makeup when you soak a cotton pad with it and hold it up to the eye area for a while. There's no smudging, smearing or oiliness. It's extremely gentle and non-drying, a lifesaver when the eye or the surrounding area is irritated, sore or otherwise in need of extra care. Really, I should probably be using this to remove my eye makeup everyday, period. If only it were a little more affordable and easier to get a hold of rather than having to order it online.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

How Gucci S/S '11

Two Rimmel polishes I’ve been sporting on my nails lately, 60 Seconds Lucky Lilac (670) and I Love Lasting Finish Apricot Punch (053).

Apricot Punch is a vibrant, pinkish-orange creme. It's more orange (with salmon pink tones) than your standard coral, but not purely a bright mandarin either, like Rimmel’s Tangerine Queen. This is a great polish if you’re looking for a pop of colour that isn't too neon-looking, a problem I've had with brights in the past. Complete opacity requires at least 2 coats, though the formula brings out bald spots which strangely don't disappear with more layers. It isn’t too noticeable though, so I’m not overly bothered by it. The sweet, fruity scent when the polish dries is an added bit of novelty and fun.

With flash

Lucky Lilac is my latest nail polish acquisition. It applies opaque in one coat, but the colour is significantly more purple (and less pink) the more coats you apply. The formula can get a little gloopy and thick but dries reasonably fast. I prefer cooler-toned purples to the colour of Lucky Lilac, which is a very pinkish violet, or grape-leaning fuchsia. Still, this shade is unique to my collection and I can’t get enough of purple polish, so it had to be mine.

With flash

Totes this outfit, but in nail polish form
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