Thursday, October 31, 2013

Festive Flush

Rimmel Santa Rose is a blush that I avoided buying for a very long time. After repeatedly seeing Tanya Burr call it her favourite drugstore blush in countless videos, I was pretty much set on buying it, but every time I picked it up at the shop, it just looked so dull and uninspiring that I put it right back. The colour appeared to be such a generic, slightly muted orangey-brown light pink, that I thought to myself, surely I have at least 10 comparable blushes at home? It wasn't until I stumbled across this video from Alix of I Covet Thee where she uses Santa Rose in a Keira Knightley makeup look that I was 100% sold. Never mind the piles of NARS and Benefit and Bourjois I have on standby, I needed Santa Rose and I needed it immediately.

I bought Santa Rose (010) from Boots in London while on my Europe trip. It was such a thrill to be in a Boots (after all, it's mentioned only in just about every second post on all the British beauty blogs I read), perusing all the UK-exclusive makeup brands and checking out items not released in Australia.

It looks like the Rimmel blushes have been repackaged recently, as I remember they used to be in a smaller, much slimmer trapezoidal pan. The product is now housed in a thicker, sturdier-looking square, though I'm guessing the formulation and colour remain unchanged. I'm not sure if the shade Santa Rose has been discontinued in Australia, but the "Lasting Finish Soft Colour Blush" here is different to the blush of the same name in the UK. For one, my Australian-bought Genuine Plum (170) is 4.5g, but Santa Rose is 4g. Genuine Plum also has a rectangular plan and then a compartment for the enclosed mini brush, making the packaging much larger than Santa Rose.

Rimmel Santa Rose is a satiny, soft peachy-pinky-coral. Can't say much else about the colour — it's nothing remarkable. I don't find it particularly glowy or illuminating, but it's not exactly matte either. It looks like it would have almost a golden sheen, but the shimmer isn't that noticeable when swatched or applied to the cheeks. This wouldn't be my pick if I wanted a radiant, healthy-looking flush as the finish is relatively flat and it dangerously verges on ruddy if I apply a fraction too much. That's the main thing that surprised me — how red it is, as I always thought it was a more neutral/borderline 'nude' blush. Despite that, I think the primary appeal of Santa Rose is that it's fairly understated and unassuming, especially if used with a light hand. It's a good choice when you still want to wear a bit of colour on your cheeks, but nothing too tricky, bold or that could potentially compete with the rest of your makeup. The texture is very soft, smooth and easy to blend, though a touch powdery. Staying power is average.

l-r: Benefit Sugarbomb, Rimmel Santa Rose, NARS Luster, NARS Orgasm

Benefit Sugarbomb is probably the closest colour match, but lighter, not as red, with a refined and beautiful golden pearl absent from the Rimmel. Santa Rose in comparison is dustier, more brown-toned, nowhere near as luminous. NARS Luster is more of a sunburned orange with gold shimmer — darker, much more pigmented. NARS Orgasm is significantly pinker (not as orange/peach as the other three), sheerer, and with an inbuilt golden highlight. In my eyes, all three are superior to Santa Rose, not just in terms of the shade but also quality, ease of application and staying power. Did I need Santa Rose? Nope. But it's a safe, non-threatening everyday blush that's affordable and easy to wear. Rimmel 3 in 1 Powder Blush in Autumn Catwalk is still the best blush the brand has put out though.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Confection Perfection

I've found my new favourite lipstick: MAC Patisserie. I tried to limit myself to just two new MAC additions while on holiday in London, Patisserie and Plumful. While I'm a bit on the fence about Plumful, I have nothing but love for Patisserie. I wasn't expecting to be as delighted with it as I am. I feared it might be one of the following things: too light, too brown, too boring, too mature, too similar to existing colours in my collection, not right for my skin tone, and myriad other potential causes for disappointment. Turns out it's a lipstick crafted so perfectly that not only do I have nothing quite like it, there's nothing about it I would change.

l-r: Revlon Honey, Revlon Pink Truffle, Revlon Blush, MAC Patisserie, Sportsgirl Pretty Please, Face of Australia Sundae, NARS Biscayne Park

MAC Patisserie is the first Lustre finish lipstick that I've tried, and I think it might be my favourite MAC lipstick finish for everyday wear. I like it a lot more than Cremesheens which despite their name, I find are a tad drying and have a tendency to tug on the lips. The Lustre finish is very comfortable on the lips, sheer and glossy but very much buildable in pigmentation. Patisserie seems unassuming and nothing particularly special or unique, but it's the truest 'my lips but better' colour I've come across. It's a light (but not pale or pastel) nude with a bit of salmon pink and peach, and the faintest gold shimmer which isn't all that visible on the lips. It imparts a soft sheen that's not too shiny or reflective. Some people have described the colour as partly mauve but I don't see it. It's very neutral in tone, not cool at all and not particularly warm either.

I pulled out a whole bunch of shades that I was interested in comparing alongside Patisserie. Ultimately, nothing came close enough to being considered a dupe. Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Honey is darker, more purplish/raspberry. Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter in Pink Truffle is the darkest of the shades I swatched and more of a brick red. Revlon ColorBurst lipstick in Blush is like a lighter version of Pink Truffle. Sportsgirl Pretty Please, which I originally thought might've been similar to Patisserie, is actually nothing like it — darker, more berry pink and opaque. Face of Australia Sheer Gloss Lip Crayon in Sundae is probably the closest match to Patisserie in terms of both colour and texture, but more brown, less blush pink, a touch darker. Finally, NARS Biscayne Park is a more pigmented peachy nude, not as pink, sheer or glossy.

Patisserie is the ideal lipstick for those that enjoy lipstick, but don't necessarily wear it a lot of the time. It's a virtually failproof option for the daytime when you want a little something on your lips that's natural, subtle and easygoing. It won't compete or clash with your existing makeup. It won't announce itself when you enter a room. It'll just make your lips look better. I liked this lipstick so much that when I began using it during my holiday, I seriously contemplated buying a backup. In the end, I talked myself out of it (Real Techniques Buffing Brush first), but I can easily see this as a perennial repurchase should I run out.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

White Florals, Powder & Musk

Recently, I've started to get back into perfume in a major way. I don't know what triggered it ... maybe I'm a bit over makeup and it's only natural that I return to my first love. In my I Love Perfume Tag, I mentioned that my favourite scents were fruity florals. Since then, my stance has definitely evolved. I'm way into white flowers now. Gardenia, tuberose, jasmine, orange blossom, honeysuckle, frangipani, the whole shebang. I think my obsession with Kai perfume oil was the start. I've even pulled out the ol' Perfumes: The A-Z Guide by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez that I rushed out to buy when it first hit the bookshops. One night, I found myself reminiscing fondly about the fragrant white flowers that I smelled as a kid visiting Shanghai and Beijing. The ones arranged in bracelets and sold by old ladies on the street (after some stab-in-the-dark Googling, I think it's called Michelia × alba or white champaca?). I had this sudden longing to smell them again, though I doubt there exists a readily available perfume that authentically replicates their scent. Despite that, I've been uniformly thrilled with my three latest fragrance acquisitions.

Estée Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia

Top notes: neroli, lilac, rosewood
Heart notes: gardenia, tuberose, orange flower, jasmine, white lily
Base notes: carnation, vanilla bourbon

Luca Turin describes this perfume as one of the few fragrances that actually achieves a real gardenia smell. In his words, the "tuberose note in PCTG is very quiet, while the rest of the fragrance is an utterly lovely gardenia accord on a refined, radiant white-flowers background." I've read other reviews online that express an opposite opinion that this is mainly a tuberose perfume. As much as I try to educate myself on the difference between tuberose and gardenia, the reality is they're probably not that hugely far apart, at least to a casual consumer like me. PCTG retails for a ludicrous $150 for the 30ml eau de parfum bottle in Australia, but I purchased mine from StrawberryNET for $90. It's definitely the most I've forked out for a perfume of that size in recent memory, but worth it. The opening is somewhat sharp and slightly bitter, but give it a bit more time and it's the middle notes that really shine. They're beautifully creamy (no dilution or wateriness here), sweet but not overly so and not at all artificial-smelling. If you like gardenia, you need this. It's a very ladylike, classic fragrance that would be perfect for a spring wedding. Lasts a decent amount of time on the skin as well.

Chloé Love, Chloé

Top notes: orange blossom, pink pepper
Heart notes: hyacinth, iris, lilac, wisteria, heliotrope
Base notes: musk, talc, rice powder

I remember when this first came out in 2010. It wasn't like anything I was used to smelling at the department store. I wasn't quite sure if it was my type of fragrance, but the more I sprayed it, the more it grew on me. There are a few perfumes that I've liked for a long time (and eagerly reach for whenever I encounter a tester), but haven't taken the plunge to purchase. I'm so glad I finally bit the bullet with Love, Chloé because I've ended up surprisingly loving this. At first, it announces itself as a distinctly powdery, almost soapy fragrance (a little bit like the original Chloé from 1975), but it takes on a more complex quality the more it melds with the skin's chemistry. There's just something about it that I can't put my finger on. I find it comforting and mellow, not typically sweet, floral or fruity, but slightly woody on a musky, powdery cloud, very clean smelling without being sharp or green, womanly, soft and sensual. The bottle is also pretty close to perfection.

Jo Malone Orange Blossom Cologne

Top notes: cedrat, green notes, clementine leaf
Heart notes: orange blossom, water lily
Base notes: orange blossom, lilac

I've been eyeing a Jo Malone fragrance for ages, but I wasn't prepared to spend $90 for a 30ml bottle here. I finally allowed myself to splurge in their boutique in the Marais, Paris, where it's €45.00 or about $65. It was truly a battle to pick out just one, but in the end I opted for Orange Blossom because it was one of the first Jo Malone fragrances I heard about from Allison of amarixe in her April 2012 Beauty Favourites video. This perfume is quietly glorious. It's bright, fresh, fruity, zesty, sweet, uplifting and a little soapy in the best way. Spraying it on a thin cardboard strip at the shop (with a few other fragrances competing for your attention) simply won't do it justice. It needs to be spritzed onto skin and worn in isolation for the whole day to be properly appreciated. I don't think I have anything in my collection that tops this as the ultimate springtime scent. The tall, rectangular bottle is also particularly handbag-friendly.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pairing Rage with Envy

I've only tried three things from Max Factor in recent memory: their Masterpiece Max mascara (excellent, an old favourite), Burnt Bark eyeshadow and Fantasy Fire nail polish. For whatever reason, much like CoverGirl, their products don't really call out to me the way that comparable brands like Revlon, Bourjois, Maybelline or Rimmel do. I've heard they're aiming for a younger market with the release of the latest Wild Collection (mainly from Emma of milkteef), so when I spotted it at Priceline with a blanket $7 off the whole Max Factor range, I couldn't resist picking up (what else) two neutral options that seemed promising: the Wild Shadow Pencil 2-in-1 Gel Shadow + Liner in Caramel Rage (05) and Wild Shadow Pot in Auburn Envy (35).

l-r: Max Factor Caramel Rage, KIKO 06, Essence Coppy Right

Since picking up KIKO Long Lasting Stick Eyeshadow in 06 from Milan, the idea of a cream eyeshadow stick/crayon has been increasingly appealing. Though there weren't any testers around, I decided to take a chance on the Max Factor Wild Shadow Pencil in Caramel Rage. I'm glad I did, because it hasn't disappointed. Although not as glide-on smooth, richly metallic or pigmented as the KIKO, it's a good option in the mornings for whacking on the eyelids for a softer, more daytime appropriate look. I like that it's not super shimmery, with more of a satin/subtle frost finish. It goes on fairly evenly (unlike the criminally patchy and half shrivelled up Essence Stay All Day Long Lasting Eyeshadow in Coppy Right) and lasts all day without much fading. The colour is your run-of-the-mill greyish browny taupe — a little bronze, a little champagne, a little silvery, definitely more on the neutral to cool side rather than warm. On its own, I find it a tad dull and uninspiring, but it really comes to life paired with the other product I purchased alongside Caramel Rage.

l-r: Max Factor Auburn Envy, theBalm Mischievous Marissa, LORAC Garnet, Urban Decay Chopper, Urban Decay YDK

The Wild Shadow Pot in Auburn Envy is packaged identically to their regular Earth Spirits eyeshadows, and it seems the formulation is pretty much the same as well. Auburn Envy definitely swatches more copper/orange than how it appears in the pan, though it doesn't completely translate on the lids. I find the main problem is that the glitter is quite chunky and the shadow requires multiple layers for it to really shine. Maybe I just haven't found the best brush to use with it. I've read that these eyeshadows can also be used wet to amp up the colour payoff and vibrancy, but I haven't tried them that way or felt the need to.

Compared to other shades I thought would be similar, it's clear that theBalm Mischievous Marissa from the ShadyLady Vol. 2 palette and Urban Decay Chopper from the Naked2 palette are much more warm golden orange than Auburn Envy, which is slightly darker and more brown. LORAC Garnet from the PRO Palette is significantly darker, more of a rich bronze in comparison to the other shades, but I've always found it particularly reddish orange on its own. Urban Decay YDK isn't all that close  almost looks pewter in comparison and surprisingly light, though I think that might just be because of how shimmery it is. If Chopper and YDK were superimposed, the end result wouldn't be too far off Auburn Envy, though a bit more gold. It's worth mentioning the Urban Decay shadows only require a single swipe, whereas I had to build up the Max Factor with 3-4 layers to achieve the same level of pigmentation.

My new favourite eyeshadow combination in the mornings is Caramel Rage applied all over the lid, then a bit of Auburn Envy patted mainly onto the centre of the lid. The two meld together and bring out the best in each other, forming an easy to wear light-to-medium taupe with a bit of understated sparkle. The slight dullness of Caramel Rage with its relatively soft pigmentation and cool tone is counteracted with the warmth and diamond dust of Auburn Envy. The cream shadow of the Wild Shadow Pencil additionally doubles as a base for the powder eyeshadow, prolonging wear time through layering and by giving Auburn Envy something to cling to (also reducing fallout), all the while making the colour appear more vibrant and complex.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Oh So Girly

Since purchasing Sleek i-Divine eyeshadow palettes in Storm and Bad Girl early last year, it's always been at the back of my mind to pick up some more. I was extremely tempted by Au Naturel (being a neutral fiend) and intrigued by the limited edition Me, Myself & Eye, but ultimately decided that if I were to limit myself to just one more, it had to be Oh So Special. I wasn't keen on ordering online from either the Sleek website or a local stockist, so when I found myself in Superdrug while holidaying in London, I pounced on the opportunity to buy Oh So Special without needing to pay for shipping or wait for it to be delivered.

l-r: Bow, Organza, Ribbon, Gift Basket, Glitz, Celebrate (top row)
Pamper, Gateau, The Mail, Boxed, Wrapped Up, Noir (bottom row)

l-r: Bow, Organza, Ribbon, Gift Basket, Glitz, Celebrate

l-r: Pamper, Gateau, The Mail, Boxed, Wrapped Up, Noir

What initially attracted me to Oh So Special were the feminine and aesthetically pleasing shades. I mean, just look at those two bright and playful matte pinks. Or that glimmering duochrome pale lavender-pink which flashes gold. Or the warm, coppery bronze of Gift Basket, which was basically my primary motivation for buying the palette. I remember stumbling across this eye look using the Oh So Special palette and adoring everything about it, notwithstanding the fact my eye shape/colour/everything bore no resemblance to the model, so the possibility of successfully recreating it was slim to none.

Like Storm, some of the mattes in Oh So Special aren't anything to write home about. Bow was chalky, dry, very difficult to get any colour payoff. Almost like a translucent face powder, though I found using a brush picked up more pigment than when I attempted to swatch it with my finger. The Mail fared a little bit better, but the dark brown Boxed was also largely uninspiring. The swatch says it all, and that's with several swipes. Wrapped Up and Noir were passable, though I can't see myself getting much use out of them. Surprisingly, the two matte pinks, the coral-leaning Ribbon and milky peachy pink Pamper, were very impressive in texture and pigmentation. I'm not sure when I'd ever wear them or how I'd incorporate them in a look, but at least the option's always there. I've read those two could even double as blushes, which could be especially convenient if travelling and requiring just one palette for both eyes and cheeks.

Consistent with my experience of Sleek eyeshadows, it's the shimmery shades that really stand out. They're seriously vibrant and almost spongy to touch, somewhat reminiscent of the texture of the powder-cream L'Oréal Infallible eyeshadows. Organza, Gift Basket and Gateau are stunning, though Gift Basket is possibly a touch too warm for my skin tone (it almost looks orangey/reddish on my lids). Glitz and Celebrate are equally metallic and rich in colour payoff, but being more nighttime, dramatic colours, they're not the most unique. The slate grey Glitz is very similar to Gunmetal from the Urban Decay Naked palette and Slate from the LORAC PRO Palette (but lighter, more blue than cloudy grey), while the eggplant/reddish burgundy Celebrate brings to mind L'Oréal Infallible eyeshadow in Burning Black (which is darker, with more of a black base) and Prestige Bacchus (more purple, not as brown).

It's not hard to see why the i-Divine eyeshadow palettes are popular. For £7.99 (or about $13.40), you get twelve shades, a mix of matte and shimmer, light and dark, versatile/safe/neutral and punchy/unique/daring to experiment with. Some of the mattes could've been smoother and more pigmented (particularly Boxed), but on a whole, the colour selection and quality of the shimmery shades easily rival much pricier counterparts.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Nourishing Nuxe

I've been loyal to my Maybelline Baby Lips in Relieving Menthol for the past couple of years, but if there's one lip balm that's tempted me to stray, it's NUXE Rêve de Miel. (The other two, BY TERRY Baume de Rose and Christian Dior Crème de Rose are simply out of the question price-wise.) Despite losing count of the number of rave reviews I'd read, I managed to resist satiating my curiosity about it ... until I saw it at a French pharmacy while in Paris. I was set to only stock up on Bioderma and get my hands on some über-hyped La Roche-Posay Serozinc, but I suddenly recalled my repressed interest in it, and grabbed one to take home.

Ingredients: Cera Alba/Beeswax, Olus Oil/Vegetable Oil, Lecithin, Behenoxy Dimethicone, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter) Extract, Mel/Honey, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Dimethicone, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Caprylic/ Capric Triglyceride, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Rosa Moschata Seed Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, Tocopherol, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Peel Oil, Candelilla Cera/Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Allantoin, Alendula Officinalis Flower Extract, BHT, Citric Acid, Citral, Limonene, Linalool [N0802/C].

NUXE Rêve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm wasn't what I was expecting at all. I'd read that it was 'matte' finish, so I'd prepared myself for that, but what I didn't prepare myself for was pretty much everything else. For one, it's thick but it's not sticky. It's more like a paste consistency. It smells like food, kind of a cross between honey and apricot jam. You need only the most minuscule amount, spread thinly across the lips, otherwise you've put on too much. The jar is 15g and would last an eternity.

Once applied, it feels a bit heavy and slightly mask-like on the lips, at least in the sense that I can detect some kind of balm sitting on top of my lips like a protective coating. It doesn't give that immediate, gratifying sensation of cooling, soothing hydration that my Maybelline Baby Lips in Relieving Menthol does — but maybe I'm just partial to menthol/mintiness in my lip balms. It's closer in texture to something like Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream (but without the greasiness) than a plush, ultra smooth, cushiony lip balm like the Korres Lip Butters. When I press my lips together to try to blend or work in the product, there's a lot of friction. It's not a balm that glides on and feels slippery or glossy in any way.

That's not to say it's a bad lip balm. It's just not what I'm used to. I think it would make an excellent lip primer (especially for slightly drying matte lipsticks) because the finish is non-shiny and it leaves the lips soft and well-prepped. Otherwise, I'd be inclined to use it as an overnight lip treatment, or an effective salve for particularly harsh weather conditions. On a more superficial note, I find the packaging really appealing, especially the weighty glass jar. Though NUXE Rêve de Miel hasn't become my new favourite lip balm, it's well worth checking out for those still holding out.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Stand Still, Look Pretty

I've never owned anything Chanel until recently, when I picked up the Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Powder SPF 15 / PA++ in N°20. I was never going to fork out $80 for it in Australia, but it was considerably cheaper at Changi Airport so I caved. I'll readily admit that I was gradually sucked in by Gisele's fresh, slightly sunkissed, naturally perfect skin in the ads, numerous glowing reviews I'd read, and the packaging. Oh yes, the packaging. I had visions of nonchalantly whipping out the gorgeous compact from my bag in a swanky restaurant bathroom and touching up my makeup. If I can't afford a Chanel bag, at least I can afford their powder.

Les Beiges had me intrigued very early on. I first saw it used by Lisa Eldridge in a video she did on Chanel's YouTube channel. She essentially used it with a kabuki brush to buff the powder onto clean skin for a sheer base. She also demonstrated a different purpose in a separate video where she uses it on top of her liquid foundation for a more all-over bronzed look and also a bit of contouring.

From what I gather, Les Beiges is intended to be more of a sheer bronzing powder that can be used all over the face for a subtle bronzed glow. For that reason, it's probably a good idea to buy a shade up from your natural skin tone. I decided that it would be more use to me as a traditional powder (i.e. to mattify any shine, set my makeup, provide a tad more coverage on top of foundation, or be buffed into the skin on exceptionally good skin days), so I went for the shade that matched my skin, rather than a darker colour.

It comes with a half moon brush made of natural hairs that's quite soft. It's convenient for travel or if you're on the go, but otherwise it's too thin and flat to be all that useful. There's a circular lid for the powder which doubles as a compartment for the brush. It's a bit annoying to have to put aside the brush and lid each time just to access the powder, but it's a necessary evil to make Les Beiges completely purse-friendly. I've been relying on my Too Faced Powder Pouf brush to apply the powder, though I'm sure any kind of larger powder/kabuki brush would do the trick.

l-r: Laura Mercier Real Sand, Bourjois 52, Chanel Les Beiges N°20

Compared to a couple of other powders I have, Laura Mercier Mineral Powder in Real Sand is creamier and denser with a satin sheen. It's also more pigmented and slightly pink-toned. Bourjois Healthy Balance Unifying Powder in 52 Vanille is much softer and smoother in texture and more of a pale beige compared to the orange-leaning Les Beiges. For whatever reason, the surface of my Chanel has sealed except for a small circle in the centre. The same thing happens to a lot of my other powders, e.g. Benefit Hoola and most of my NARS blushes, and it's super annoying (not to mention unsightly).

The main thing I noticed about Les Beiges is that it's very sheer, borderline translucent. The swatch shows what I built up with 3-4 layers and it still almost disappears into the skin. The powder itself is scented with some kind of generic-but-pleasant, indistinguishable smell — it's a bit sweet, somewhat fruity. To be perfectly honest, I didn't see Les Beiges doing anything particularly amazing for my skin. I glanced at the ingredients list and nothing looked exactly revolutionary. After all, talc and nylon-12 are still the first two ingredients. When I applied it in the morning over my liquid foundation, my T-zone still experienced shine about 2-3 hours later. Sure, my skin looks a little more polished and 'soft focus' immediately after using it, but it's not an effect that lasts, and it's not an effect unique to Les Beiges. One thing I can say is that because of how sheer the powder is, you definitely won't experience any cakiness. 

Maybe I would've been more enthused if I bought N°30 and used it as a light all-over bronzer, but overall, I'm well aware that the main reason I purchased it was because of the packaging. I wasn't expecting any miracles from Les Beiges, so I'm neither disappointed nor pleasantly surprised. Its primary function to me is to sit there looking pretty, which it does very well. Its secondary function as a powder proved far more ordinary.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...