Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Best of 2013

And here we are at the end of 2013 and another year of blogging. This blog has steadily grown in its second year and I truly appreciate every single one of you who visits, reads and comments. Your support and the connections I've made with all the lovely people whose blogs I've had the pleasure of following throughout the year continually inspire and motivate me to not only keep this thing afloat, but carve out an evolving space where we can be brought together by a subject that is both our common weakness and happy place.

Here are 17 products that I count among the best of 2013:

Benefit Sugarbomb
If I'm after a little something on the cheeks, but nothing major, Sugarbomb is what I reach for. It reminds me of a toned down, less intense in colour NARS Luster, with a beautiful golden pearl that negates the need for a separate highlighter.

Stila Convertible Colour in Gerbera
Checks all the boxes and exceeded all expectations. What I love most about it, apart from being one of few pinks that isn't a flop on me, is the dewy, healthy-looking radiance it imparts when blended into the skin.

Clarins Eye Quartet Mineral Palette in Odyssey
Aside from the impeccable packaging and the inclusion of three classic neutrals, it's really the stunning gold leaf shade that is my everything. It is to the eyes what OPI GoldenEye is to the nails.

Real Techniques Buffing Brush
I want to sing it all the love songs. I can't live, if living is without you. No one else comes close. I can't imagine applying foundation without this brush. Well, I can, but why would I want to.

NARS Blush in Luster
This slightly bronzy tangerine with gold shimmer is simply purdy, goes with almost anything, and unlike most pink blushes that look attractive in the pan but not so much on my face, it works with my skin tone. It's almost like a bronzer, blush and highlighter in one, making it an ideal choice to sweep over the cheeks for an illuminating, sunkissed flush.

NARS Bronzing Powder in Laguna
There's a reason why this is a cult product. Somehow other bronzers just don't compare. Since I bought it in a blush/bronzer duo with Angelika, I've used almost nothing else when it comes to warming up the face for the illusion of a more summery glow (and incidental, mostly futile attempts at 'contouring').

Essence Eye Soufflé in Pas des Copper
Time to start penning those letters to Essence, imploring them to re-release this inexplicably limited edition gem. An innovative, spongy, creamy, glide-on texture does all the work for you and the shimmery champagne/coppery shade is near perfect. Also impressive is that almost two years in, this shows no sign of drying out or hardening.

Revlon Matte Lipstick in Strawberry Suede
I never thought I'd pick a red lipstick given my weakness for pinks and peach/corals (not to mention that major borderline vampy berry lip phase in winter), but this was something of a revelation to me. Each time I wear it, the vibrant, retro-ish, orangey-red just makes me happy. Isn't that what lipstick is all about?

Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze
The love affair continues. Ultra metallic, pigmented and long-lasting with an eminently wearable shade to boot, this versatile cream shadow continues to be my go-to choice on countless mornings when nothing else comes close to offering up competition.

KIKO Long Lasting Stick Eyeshadow in 06
Though only purchased in September, this cream eyeshadow stick has quickly risen to the top of my most reached-for eyeshadows. For an effortless, quick and flattering one-product look, it stands almost singular in my collection.

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner in Black
Despite a somewhat shaky start, this is my favourite eyeliner of 2013. The fine tip, though prone to slight fraying, delivers a precise, thin line, and with practice, the occasionally daunting task of eyeliner is sorted in about 10 seconds. Contrary to reports that this runs out quickly, mine lasted several months with near daily use.

NARS And God Created the Woman Eyeshadow Palette
I couldn't have orchestrated a better first foray into NARS eyeshadows than this gorgeous neutral palette. No other product this year incited manic, unrelenting pangs of desire in me that I simply could not ignore.

Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk
Given my laziness and overarching disinterest when it comes to anything to do with hair, this is nothing short of a lifesaver. A can't-be-without-it miracle product that instantly revives greasy, weighed down, lifeless locks, making them appear soft, volumised, and practically newly washed. The best in its field that I've tried.

Caudalie Divine Oil
Used alone or mixed in with moisturiser, this luxurious multipurpose dry oil (with grape, sunflower, hibiscus, sesame and argan oils, as well as grape seed and tomato extract) helps improve the skin's texture and condition. I often supplement my regular night cream with a spritz of Divine Oil to ensure the extra goodness works its magic overnight.

Clarins Multi-Active Night Youth Recovery Cream for Normal to Dry Skin
My most favoured night cream. Comforts and hydrates the skin with a soothing, refreshing and non-cloying scent and combines nicely with a few drops of your chosen face oil for added moisture and nourishment.

Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser in Nude
HG. I can't say that about many foundations, if any. Works into properly moisturised skin effortlessly and provides the most natural, subtly illuminating, undetectable canvas.

Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Anti-Chip Top Coat
A manicure essential. Avoids those pesky morning-after bed sheet marks for those bored-at-home, late night paint jobs. No shrinkage around the edges and goes on absolutely clear. Makes every nail polish look richly glossy and smooth.

Friday, December 27, 2013

December Favourites

With the obligatory annual "best of" lists that pop up at the tail end of each year, I wasn't planning on posting a December Favourites. However, I came across a good number of products this month that I felt deserved their moment in the spotlight. Most were new acquisitions that I found myself genuinely pleased with, while others were rediscoveries of previously neglected products that I managed to put to good use.

Caudalie Make-Up Remover Cleansing Water Organic Grape Water & Camomile
My Bioderma Créaline H20 was leaving my skin feeling a little dry when I used it remove makeup from my face. Then I remembered this micellar water from Caudalie that came in the Must Have Set I purchased in March from Feel Unique. I find this cleansing water more refreshing and distinctly more moisturising than the more clinical, no-nonsense Bioderma, even if I still use Bioderma to get rid of more stubborn eye makeup. It has a "green" scent that reminds me of something vegetal but sweet. With a finishing spritz of Avene Thermal Spring Water all over, my skin feels hydrated and plump, like it can finally relax and breathe.

Topshop Blush in Head Over Heels
I've been putting off buying this cream blush for probably a couple of years and recently finally caved. It's a fairly affordable $12 and the packaging is compact, functional and adorable. I have no shortage of similar shades (or rather, I have no non-similar shades), but the texture is what impressed me. It reminds me a bit of the Chanel Le Blush Crème de Chanel cream blushes. It's not wet or emollient, it's more thin, dry and on the powdery side, but super easy to blend out, not patchy and very pigmented.

Napoleon Perdis Cream Blush
I was prepared to largely disregard this unnamed cream blush that was a freebie with the November issue of Australian InStyle magazine, dismissing it as generic and unexciting, but seeing it pop up in a couple of Monthly Favourites posts from Tashi and Kat made me revisit it. I was surprised at how this looked patted onto my cheeks after foundation — dewy, fresh and an instant complexion pick-me-up. Not too red, not too brown. A rare thing: a pink that I can pull off.

Rimmel Wake Me Up Concealer in Classic Beige (030)
I've heard good things about this concealer from Tanya Burr and I enjoy the Wake Me Up foundation (despite buying about 3 shades too dark), so this was another thing I picked up during Priceline's 40% off sale. As I mentioned in my outback packing post, I've had to tackle a lot of random dark spots on the lower half of my face from pimples that have diminished but left their mark. This concealer, while slightly lighter than my skin tone, works well to cover the spots so they're almost undetectable. It has a texture similar to Maybelline Fit Me concealer, except a bit more liquid, thinner and radiance-boosting. It also neutralises redness around the edges of the nose and brightens darker areas around the corners of the mouth.

Maybelline Volum' Express The Falsies in Blackest Black
I've been meaning to try this mascara for an age and finally picked up a tube from Chemist Warehouse when they had a 2 for $20 deal on Maybelline mascaras. I'm happy to report this mascara is a breeze to use and I've been reaching for it almost every day since I opened it. The wand isn't overly wet or overloaded with product and it provides good separation and length for a defined, natural look. I've experienced no noticeable issues with clumping, smudging or flaking. The curved wand helps lift the lashes upward from the roots and it's one of the best mascaras I've tried for the lower lashes, second only to Max Factor Masterpiece Max.

DKNY Be Delicious
I'd almost forgotten I owned this perfume but on a whim one morning decided to spritz it again. I don't know why I haven't worn this more because it's so much better than I remembered. It's comforting, sophisticated and warm, with top notes of grapefruit, cucumber and magnolia, middle notes of apple, tuberose, lily of the valley, rose and violet, and base notes of white amber and woods. Oddly, I don't detect that much green apple. It's a little sweet, a little tart, clean and mellow. Longevity and projection are excellent.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Bauble Bounty

Another Christmas, another festive nail art. This year, I felt a strong pull towards red which I ordinarily never wear. I've recently enjoyed sporting both OPI The Impossible from the first Mariah Carey collection and OPI The Spy Who Loved Me from the James Bond Skyfall collection, which I purchased as part of The Bondettes Mini Nail Lacquers set. I came across these Christmas nail designs from Amy and was particularly drawn to the Christmas tree. I've attempted my own take on it, of course with ridiculous amounts of bling.

To achieve my look, I first started with a base of OPI The Spy Who Loved Me, a bright, juicy red with subtle gold shimmer. I then stuck two pieces of sticky tape diagonally to either side of the nail to create a triangle shape in the middle. Inside that area outlined by the sticky tape, I painted Sinful Colors Envy (960) to form my tree. After two coats of the dark green polish, I carefully and slowly peeled off the sticky tape to reveal clean, straight edges for the tree. I then painted a small dot at the apex of the tree (right in the middle just below the the tip of my nail) with the spectacular OPI GoldenEye to make my star.

Next comes the labour-intensive, patience-testing part of 'decorating' the tree. Essentially I used two glitter polishes in a clear base, OPI The Living Daylights and OPI Polka.com, and fished out the glitter pieces in each with a toothpick. I then dotted them onto the green section of the nail as evenly as possible to mimic the look of shiny baubles hung from the tree. I probably was a touch overenthusiastic with the glitter and ended up with a higher density of glitter than ideal, in effect obscuring much of the green background of the tree. But whatever, it's Christmas. Excess is all part and parcel of the holiday season.

As if that wasn't enough razzle dazzle, I then painted a layer of the gold flake topper Essie As Gold As It Gets for that extra touch of luxe. To finish, I applied a generous coat of my favourite top coat ever, Sally Hansen Insta-Dri, to smooth things over, lock everything in place and impart an ultra-glossy finish.

I normally don't go for anything this elaborate but I figured when else but Christmas. I've received numerous compliments (from girls) and some teasing for evidently having too much time on my hands (from a guy). As I mentioned last year, my family isn't big on Christmas and we've certainly never had a Christmas tree in our home, so I'll have to be content with these ones on my nails. Hope you all have a lovely Christmas with your nearest and dearest!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Packing for the Outback

I'm headed for a short trip to Alice Springs and Uluru a few days after Christmas and a part of me is already anticipating scorching temperatures, rainfall, flies and sunburn. With my face melting in those conditions, makeup isn't exactly a top priority. Still, I figured packing a few items "just in case" wouldn't go astray. The only criteria the products needed to meet were to be able to withstand or assist in controlling heat.

Sun protection is vital so my La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Fluide Extrême SPF 50+ is the first thing I'll be packing. Not forgetting the lips, I've also included ChapStick Ultra SPF 30+. For my base, I picked Garnier BB Cream Miracle Skin Perfector (Combination to Oily Skin) in Light, previously featured in my February Favourites and as one of the five products in my Go-To Low Key Makeup look. I could've opted for Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser instead, but I'm giving it a rest after taking it with me to Europe. The fluid-like Garnier is lightweight with decent coverage and a brightening finish, as well as excellent oil control. I've developed a somewhat alarming number of dark spots around my chin from pimples that have left scarring, which I've been attempting to selectively conceal where foundation hasn't provided enough coverage. Maybelline Fit Me concealer in Sand is a fairly good match for my skin tone which is especially important for camouflaging imperfections, and its creamy texture is easy to blend and doesn't cling to dry patches.

For eyes, I've decided on the absolute minimum (for me, at least). I doubt there'll be time for brushes or powder shadows or even cream shadow pots, so I've chosen Rimmel ScandalEyes Shadow Stick in Bad Girl Bronze for my lid and/or lower lash line, Savvy by DB Luxury Liner in Shimmering Slate for defining the upper or lower lash line, and Revlon CustomEyes mascara, which is just something I'm trying to use up. The Savvy by DB pencil is nicely black, has good staying power and is much easier to wield than a felt tip, gel or liquid eyeliner. The Rimmel eyeshadow crayon may be a bit too dark for the daytime, but used sparingly and blended with the fingers, it should be a quick and fuss-free way to add some depth to the eyes.

In summer heat, Avene Thermal Spring Water is a thing of beauty. This fine mist is refreshing, soothing and cooling. It's probably counterproductive to restoring the skin's hydration to have water evaporate off your face, but I don't care. The instant, calming relief this provides is addictive. It feels like the skin taking a drink of water from a pristine source. I use it for pretty much everything: when I can't be bothered washing my bare face, as a revitalising pick-me-up for dull or tired skin, after hair removal, after makeup removal, to cool down in hot weather, to dampen the skin in preparation for face masks or Bioré nose strips. It does it all. Another staple I'm planning on bringing with me is a mini bottle of Bioderma Créaline H20 to take my makeup off and refresh and cleanse the skin, short of properly washing it as I usually do in the shower before I head to bed.

I'm bound to get shiny no matter how oily/combination skin-targeted my foundation is, which is where The Face Shop Oil Control Film comes in. This is the proper, soft, ultra thin, filmy, blue facial blotting paper. None of that segments of baking paper that other brands manufacture. Finally, I thought to pop in Korres Lip Butter in the reddish-coral Pomegranate for an easygoing slick of colour on the lips. Pomegranate can also double up as a cheek tint, not that I imagine requiring any kind of blush when it's 40°C outside.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Tastes of Summer

When Priceline had another 40% off cosmetics sale last month, I exercised even less self-restraint than the first time. One of the first things I set out to buy were a couple of the "new" Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butters. I'd been waiting for a major discount to pop up since they're a ludicrous $21.95 each in Australia. I'd first heard of the four Summer 2013 shades (Pink Lemonade, Juicy Papaya, Sorbet and Wild Watermelon) from US blogs early in the year (Tiffany did a fantastic, comprehensive review) and decided I needed Juicy Papaya. I was more on the fence about Pink Lemonade, but when it comes to me and milky pinks, hope springs eternal.

l-r: Pink Lemonade, Juicy Papaya

l-r: Revlon Pink Lemonade, Maybelline Lust for Blush, MAC Creme Cup, Sportsgirl Beauty Queen

Pink Lemonade is one of the most aptly named products I've encountered. It reminds me exactly of the colour of the drink it was named after — pale pink with a dash of orange and an overall watery, washed out kind of quality. It's very sheer which makes a potentially challenging colour a bit more wearable. Even with multiple layers, you can still see your natural lip colour underneath.

Maybelline Color Sensational Color Whisper in Lust for Blush is darker, more purple/mauve in tone. MAC Creme Cup is darker, more opaque, more neutral or warm toned than Lust for Blush, and with more of a dusty quality. Sportsgirl Beauty Queen has a similar shiny, sheer finish, but is more pigmented than Pink Lemonade, brighter, darker, more of a cool strawberry bubblegum pink.

l-r: Revlon Juicy Papaya, L’Oréal Shiny Grapefruit, Bourjois Peach on the Beach, Revlon Melonade

Juicy Papaya absolutely called out to me as the must-have shade of the "new" releases. I loved the way it looked on Cassie, Jane and Sandra. It seemed like such an easy colour to throw on but at the same time effortlessly flattering. It's not exactly a "my lips but better" shade or a nude, but it's not super vivid or loud either. There's a brightening touch about it, but it remains fairly toned down and casual.

L’Oréal NutriShine by Colour Riche lipstick in Shiny Grapefruit is more berry pink with diamond shimmer. Bourjois Color Boost Glossy Finish lip crayon in Peach on the Beach is brighter and more opaque, more of a coral/watermelon pink. Revlon ColorBurst lipstick in Melonade is much more neon and fiery red. Juicy Papaya is the most subdued, almost pastel and sheer in comparison, more of a brown-toned peach.

Comparing the new shades with the original line up of Lip Butters, Pink Lemonade reminds me of a pink version of Creamsicle and Juicy Papaya is like non-glittery version of Peach Parfait. Pink Lemonade is probably a touch too light for my skin tone as an everyday colour, but as a deliberately pale pink, there are worse options. Juicy Papaya on the other hand, is one of my new favourite lip colours. Despite having a multitude of similar peachy/coral shades in my collection, I've promoted it to makeup bag staple.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Alpha-H Discovery Set

A few months ago in the midst of my burgeoning interest in skin care, I ordered the Alpha-H Anti Ageing Discovery Collection from BeautyBay. I primarily was interested in it because of the inclusion of their much-hyped Liquid Gold in a 50ml size. The 5-piece kit was about $45 while a 100ml bottle of Liquid Gold alone is $49 on Adore Beauty, apparently a 15% discount off the retail price. The other items in the set weren't too stingy in size and the cost-effectiveness and convenience of being able to trial a variety of Alpha-H products at once appealed to me more than having twice the amount of their "star" product.

As currently described on BeautyBay, the Anti Ageing Discovery Collection contains:
  • Liquid Gold (50ml) – An overnight resurfacing and firming lotion.
  • Micro Cleanse (30ml) – A granulated exfoliator which smoothes and clears skin.
  • Balancing Cleanser (30ml) - A gentle, creamy cleanser suitable for all skin types which clears skin of impurities, oil and makeup.
  • Daily Essential Moisturiser SPF 50+ (30ml) – A weightless, highly protective cream which locks in moisture and hydration.
  • Essential Hydration Cream (15ml) – An aromatic soothing cream which hydrates and restores vitality.

Instead of the Essential Hydration Cream, I actually received the Absoluté Eye Complex (15ml). When I notified BeautyBay, they asked me to send pictures to prove I'd been sent the wrong item which was way too much effort. It wasn't a huge deal that a eye cream was sent to me rather than a richer, more nighttime appropriate face cream (after all, they were the same size, and I'm guessing the eye cream is the pricier product), but it was just somewhat annoying I didn't get what I thought I'd ordered.

The Absoluté Eye Complex is a clear gel which has a cooling sensation once applied. It's very lightweight and almost watery, and you need only a very small amount for the whole eye area. I find that when it comes to eye treatments, I prefer more traditional creams than gels or serums (the Murad Hydro-Dynamic Ultimate Moisture for Eyes is my favourite so far). They just feel more richly moisturising and comfortable on the skin than a gel, which is almost too liquid and not as hydrating. I've tested out a small number of eye creams but none of them have wowed me or done anything particularly noticeable. Then again, my under eye area isn't overly dry and I don't have lines or wrinkles yet (knock on wood). This Absoluté Eye Complex is just passable to me. Nothing remarkable about it but nothing prominently negative either.

The Daily Essential Moisturiser is Caroline Hirons approved ("really light, absorbs brilliantly and doesn't clog pores"), despite containing her most reviled ingredient, mineral oil. In her words, it's not too far up the ingredients listing so it doesn't stress her too much. It has SPF 50+ which provides necessary sun protection after using a product like Liquid Gold due to alpha hydroxy acids increasing the skin's sensitivity to the sun. Despite the high SPF, it leaves no white cast or chalky residue. I packed this 30ml tube to Europe with me in September and really enjoyed using it. It's not exactly what I'd describe as "really light" — it's more like a typical thicker cream which skins into the skin well and gives an immediate sense of comforting hydration, but at same time feels slightly greasy and heavy. It's an ideal base for tinted moisturiser or foundation (possibly due to the mineral oil component).

The Balancing Cleanser is a fairly straightforward product with an uncomplicated ingredients list. It reminds me quite a bit of a thicker version of Cetaphil with a faint chemical smell. It's like rubbing in a watered down moisturiser onto the skin. It doesn't foam but isn't rich enough to be a cream cleanser. The blurb on the back says it removes all traces of face and eye makeup, an ambitious claim at best. I don't see this taking off waterproof mascara and long-wearing eyeliner. I only use this to clean my face in the shower if I haven't worn any makeup for the day. Washed all off, the skin is left feeling nicely cleansed and not stripped or dried out.

Micro Cleanse is a supercharged exfoliator with a double whammy of AHAs and physical granules to really polish the skin. It smells like a mix between candy canes and mouthwash, and feels a bit like rubbing toothpaste loaded with slightly coarse granules onto the face. There's definitely a tingling sensation paired with mintiness from the peppermint oil. This is a product with immediate results. The skin is left scrubbed, fresh and radiant, and feels incredibly smooth and soft afterwards. It's just not something I'd use on a frequent basis due to how potent it seems. I normally reach for it only when my skin is in particular need of strong exfoliation, either due to congestion or flakiness/dryness.

Liquid Gold is one of those oft-raved about skin care products that I've been curious to try for a very long time. For a while, I didn't know exactly what it was. It's not what you'd normally characterise as a toner, moisturiser, exfoliator, serum or treatment, though I suppose it has elements of all of those things. I've been using it as instructed, at night before heading off to bed, poured onto a cotton pad until it's adequately moist (but not soaked) and smoothing it all over my face, and then placing nothing on top.

It took a good deal of trial and error to determine how much I should be using each time. The first time I used too little and couldn't feel anything. The second time, I used just enough to dampen the face a little bit. The third time, the cotton pad was 70% soaked and I had enough to cover the neck as well. My face started to radiate heat for about half a minute which was not a pleasant experience.

Liquid Gold has an almost overwhelming smell of alcohol, akin to subjecting the face to an antibacterial wipe. It leaves a slight sticky residue and a very slight feeling of tightness. Like Micro Cleanse, I am a bit paranoid of the strength of this product and am hesitant to use it on a regular basis. This is a product that delivers noticeable results. In the morning after I've applied this before bed, my skin appears smoother, softer and clearer, like a layer of dead skin cells and dullness has been polished off. Whenever I feel my skin is in need of extra overnight exfoliation and rejuvenation, Liquid Gold is my pick.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Proper Plum

I am unfortunately prone to impulse buying and and frivolous purchases when it comes to makeup, but I treat each of my MAC lipstick acquisitions as thoroughly thought out and significant decisions. The fact there are just so many individual shades to choose from, some more popular and well-known than others, makes picking a lipstick a somewhat vexed exercise. I would be very hesitant to shell out $36 for a MAC lipstick here in Australia, but $15 in the US or £15 in the UK is more palatable. I'd already bought 4 lipsticks during my New York holiday last year (Shy Girl, Creme Cup, Viva Glam Nicki and Chatterbox) and had decided on two more for my trip to Europe this September: Patisserie (already reviewed here) and Plumful.

Every time I visited the MAC counter at Myer, Plumful would always call out to me before I could even pick up the lipstick and turn it upside down to confirm what shade it was. I'd already been heavily persuaded it was a must-have with Estée calling Plumful "probably [her] favourite MAC lipstick of all time", and this post by Cassie only added fuel to the fire. Even a somewhat negative review from Pam did little to dampen my resolve. It was only a matter of time before Plumful would be mine.

l-r: MAC Plumful, Australis Boogie Woogie, Revlon Soft Rose, Revlon Sugar Plum, Korres Wild Rose

Back in the day when Sarah Michelle Gellar modeled for Maybelline, I ventured into the world of lipstick for the first time, invariably finding myself drawn to some kind of unflattering, ageing (for a 13 year old), dark plummy rose colour. I can't help but feel that Plumful is like an updated, improved version of those lipsticks. The colour just seems very mature-looking and doesn't fit the mold of the pastels or brights I normally go for that I associate with being fresh, youthful and fun. I view lipstick as generally falling into two categories: "my lips but better" (some subdued peachy-pinky-nude shade), or an easy way to experiment with colour and sport something a little bold, unusual and attention-seeking. I don't tend to gravitate toward the more conventional, conservative shades that darken the lips beyond the MLBB spectrum, but not in a loud way.

Having said that, I was genuinely surprised at how many shades I have in my collection that are very similar to Plumful. Take Australis Colour Inject Mineral lipstick in Boogie Woogie — can we say dupe? The only difference to my eyes is the Australis is more opaque, not as glossy and sheer, slightly lighter and brighter with less purple. Otherwise they are the same. Revlon ColorBurst lipstick in Soft Rose is more brick red than Plumful, also a tad more brown. Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter in Sugar Plum is similar in texture, but not as magenta/fuchsia as Plumful. It's closer to Soft Rose in colour, more of a dull, slightly purplish, rosy red. Korres Lip Butter in Wild Rose has that same bright fuchsia tone of Plumful but is sheerer, more glossy with a tinted lip balm consistency, otherwise very close in colour.

I feel Plumful is perhaps more flattering on pink-toned, paler complexions (it looks stunning on Emma for example) than warmer, more yellow skin tones. For those uncomfortable with statement-making brights or chalky pastels that can potentially wash the face out, this lipstick might be an ideal pick. The main thing I like about it is the Lustre finish, which I find hydrating and lightweight, non-staining, sheer but buildable to full colour without feeling drying, and softly glossy without being overly shiny and reflective. It gives the lips a kind of saturated, plump appearance, especially with multiple coats. Plumful was a little on the drier side initially than the also Lustre Patisserie, but became softer and more "melty" with continued use. It's what I'd wear to run errands on the weekend or for a job interview, but not to a party, concert or evening out.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Nightlife Sparkle

I wasn't sure if I was tiring of glitter polishes when OPI Polka.com came out from their Spring 2013 Euro Centrale Collection. After buying all the polishes from the limited edition Face of Australia Glitterati Collection, I felt a bit over glitter (shock, horror). There was something cheap, tacky and increasingly unimaginative about them — not to mention being a total nightmare to remove. David Jones recently had a buy one, get one free offer on OPI nail lacquers. The last time they held the same promotion, my friend and I selected a polish each for half the normal price and I picked the nude OPI Loves David Jones. This time around (possibly inspired by Mishelle's picks), I felt a strong pull back towards my glitter roots.

Polka.com consists of turquoise, hot pink and royal purple hexagonal glitter of uniform size with royal purple glitter dots in a clear base. Here, I chose to pair it with a dark navy base (two coats of Rimmel 60 Seconds nail polish in Aye, Aye, Sailor). I wanted a more indigo, slightly brighter (but still deep) blue, but the inky Aye, Aye, Sailor was the next closest thing.

I'm often immediately drawn to how a glitter polish looks like in the bottle and want to replicate the same effect on my nails. For that reason, I often prefer to wear glitter polishes on their own, even if the process calls upon a great deal of patience in painting multiple coats to achieve the density of glitter required. Polka.com however, seems more suited to being a glitter top coat. Its unique mix of coloured glitter can subtly transform the look of an entire manicure depending on what colour is selected as the base. I feel darker colours really complement and harmonise with Polka.com, giving the illusion of depth, compared with lighter, more pastel colours where the glitter appears disjointed, busy and very flat on the nail.

I've always been impressed with the superior quality of OPI glitter polishes (Teenage Dream, The Living Daylights and Lights of Emerald City are some of my favourites) and Polka.com is no exception. It may be a random observation, but the polish paired with Aye, Aye, Sailor brought to mind the bokeh-inspired packaging of the Revlon Lash Potion by Grow Luscious mascara (minus the green). It's a glitter concoction that recalls the energy of modern nightlife and the multicoloured lights of the city after dark.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Eye Drawing

I tend to go through major makeup phases: matte eyeshadows, cream blushes, deep berry lips, bronzer, and now my latest fad, eyeshadow crayons. It started innocently enough with the casual purchase of the KIKO Long Lasting Stick Eyeshadow in 06, then quickly escalated with several new acquisitions in a short period of time. I've long recognised the ease and efficiency of cream eyeshadows, but packaging them in a jumbo pencil has only elevated their convenience factor. If you're after quick + minimal effort, look no further.

The only downside to eye crayons is the need to constantly sharpen them, which is the price you pay for the product not being contained in a pot (like the Maybelline Color Tattoos, Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow/Liners, MAC Paint Pots or Face of Australia Budge Proof Eyeshadows) or squeezable tube (BECCA Eye Tints). The only one of the 5 eyeshadow crayons I have that comes in a twist-up mechanism reminiscent of the Laura Mercier Caviar Sticks is the KIKO. The others require sharpening whenever the tip starts to become blunt, which I find wasteful as quite a bit of product is discarded with the shavings.

l-r: KIKO 06, Max Factor Caramel Rage, Rimmel Bad Girl Bronze, Models Prefer Down to Earth, Models Prefer Oh Fudge!

In direct sunlight

My pick of the bunch is the KIKO Long Lasting Stick Eyeshadow in 06 and not just because it's the one that never requires sharpening. It excels every other way: from the bronzy, slightly old gold shade, to the vibrant metallic finish, to the lasting power, to the ease of application and blending, to its versatility as both an all-over lid colour and to add definition to the lower lash line. What I love about all these pencils, especially the darker shades, is that a single product can double up as both eyeshadow and eyeliner to create a whole look sans mascara (and possibly a flick of black eyeliner on the upper lash line if so inclined). And no brushes required — just draw onto your lid straight from the stick and blend the edges out with your fingers.

The Max Factor Wild Shadow Pencil 2-in-1 Gel Shadow + Liner in Caramel Rage (05) has a bit of a harder texture to the KIKO and isn't as pigmented or metallic. It doesn't glide on as smoothly or have as rich colour payoff. I also don't love the colour alone on my lids — I find it comes off as overly cool, greyish/muddy and dull, so I liven it up with a warm, coppery/peachy shade on top, usually Max Factor Wild Shadow Pot in Auburn Envy (35) which otherwise would be too orange by itself.

Rimmel ScandalEyes Shadow Stick in Bad Girl Bronze is basically a fatter version of the multitude of bronze eyeliners I use mainly to define my lower lash line. It's also fairly close to Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow/Liner in Busy Signal, except not as dark and in stick form. For those reasons, it's a completely superfluous purchase (what isn't at this stage), but when I needed to touch up my makeup for the office Christmas party after work, popping this pencil into my makeup bag made it possible to apply eyeshadow using only my fingers on a moving, peak hour train. Somehow I don't see that happening with a pot.

The two Models Prefer Infinite Colour Shadow Pencils in Down to Earth (greyed lilac with silver shimmer and bronze base) and Oh Fudge! (dark, muddy brown with frost finish) were recent purchases made during Priceline's 40% off cosmetics sale. I was unexpectedly impressed at how glide-on smooth and richly pigmented these swatched in the store. They're on the more emollient side, almost too soft and probably a disaster on oily lids. Mine are on the dry side, and even then, I experienced some patchiness with Oh Fudge!, purely because I'd applied a touch too much and the product hadn't had time to set properly. Still, Down to Earth is a pleasingly complex and relatively unique shade for the "drugstore", and pairs well with the deeper Oh Fudge! for a fuss-free, lazy weekend option.
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