Saturday, February 27, 2016

Eve Lom at non-Eve Lom Prices

It pays to have a fellow skin care-obsessed colleague who also is a bargain-hunting shopaholic. I would've never heard of this quite incredible deal if it weren't for her. Post-Christmas, Eve Lom were having 50% off some of their gift sets, including "The Perfectors". Normally £90, the set was slashed down to £45. Still a lot of money, but considering it contained 3 full size products that purchased on their own in Australia would've cost $377, it simply was too good of a deal to ignore. As further incentive, they were offering a free 15ml sample of their Rescue Mask (about a $20 value given the 100ml is $135), plus free shipping. Though still a splurge, I didn't want to miss out on a rare opportunity to secure luxe items for less. All up, I paid just under $95 for the Brightening Cream (50ml), Cleanser (100ml) and Flawless Radiance Primer (50ml). These products retail for $170, $128 and $79 respectively, so paying just over $30 on average a piece was a steal.

Brightening Cream
Absolutely lovely texture and scent, but not the most hydrating night cream I've encountered (even something like Trilogy Rosapene Night Cream with a few drops of argan oil fares better). I don't feel like adding a face oil to it like I would any other night cream since the product is so eye-wateringly expensive. It doesn't feel right to change the composition, you know? It should be perfect already and the stuff of miracles if it's $170! It does feel very soothing, moisture-boosting and plumping on the skin, and it's a pleasure to use. It gives the impression of being expensively made, well formulated and nicely packaged. I just can't get over the price. There is no way in hell I would pay the normal price for it (not simply because I can't afford it, but because I don't think it's in any way justified by the actual composition), though I do acknowledge the enjoyment derived from using a luxury product should count for something. I'll be rationing mine and treating myself to it when my skin needs a little pampering, but I certainly don't anticipate lining up to repurchase.

Ingredients: Aqua (water), Dimethicone, Propanediol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Polyglyceryl-6 Distearate, Crambe Abyssinica Seed Oil, Glycerin, Divinyldimethicone/Dimethicone Copolymer, Betaine, Phenoxyethanol, Cetearyl Olivate, Jojoba Esters, Astragalus Membranaceus Root Extract, Bupleurum Falcatum Root Extract, Sorbitan Olivate, Atractyloides Macrocephala Root Extract, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Glyceryl Stearate SE, Allantoin, Cetyl Alcohol, Polyglyceryl-3 Beeswax, Sodium Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Glyceryl Dibehenate, Carbomer, Tribehenin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Isohexadecane, Ethylhexylglycerin, Tocopherol, Glyceryl Behenate, Sodium Hydroxide, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Disodium EDTA, C12-13 Pareth-23, C12-13 Pareth-3, Polysorbate 80, Rosa Damascena Flower Oil, Citronellol, Methyl Undecenoyl Leucinate, Geraniol, Linalool, Eugenol.

I was so curious to finally try out this cult product. I've heard lots of mixed reviews, from the ~controversy~ with mineral oil being its first ingredient, to people swearing by it after trying many high end cleansers. It has a distinctive herbal, medicinal smell which initially caught me off guard. It's not intolerable, but certainly is a defining part of the experience. The texture is probably closest to Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm of all the cleaners I've tried, except not as thick and oily, and it doesn't irritate the eyes or leave a film on the skin. But essentially, it's a semi-solid that dissolves into an oil upon contact with the skin. I like that it feels very smooth on the skin, it's easy to dissolve (no small lumps unlike with Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm), it feels luxuriously balmy, not thin and greasy. It's like administering a spa treatment to your face each time you use it. You do need to go over the eye area several times to get rid of mascara and eyeliner, but it does take everything off. It might not be as quick and effective in removing eye makeup as Bioderma Créaline H20, but it still does the trick.

The proper way to use it is with a muslin cloth (a whole elaborate routine is described on the jar), but I usually can't be bothered and just rub it all over my face in circular motions before washing it off in the shower. It doesn't leave any residue or dry out my skin, and I don't find any remnants of makeup on my face after I step out of the shower. Surprisingly, I liked this cleanser more than I anticipated. It's one of the best balm/oil cleansers I've used in terms of efficacy and enjoyment. A big part of that is the fact I paid significantly less than retail price. If I paid $128, I probably would be harsher in my judgments.

Ingredients: Paraffinum Liquidum (Mineral Oil), Peg-30 Lanolin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Bis-Diglyceryl Polyacyladipate-2, Aluminum Stearate, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Peg-75 Lanolin, Phenoxyethanol, Eugenia Caryophyllus (Clove) Leaf Oil, Humulus Lupulus (Hops) Oil, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Oil, Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil, BHT.

Flawless Radiance Primer
I don't really get primers, and I've yet to encounter one which I find genuinely effective. The closest is probably Laura Mercier Foundation Primer - Radiance, and even then, the difference isn't huge or essential to my makeup routine. It's more an extra step for special occasions as added insurance that the complexion's looking its best. The Flawless Radiance Primer doesn't seem to do much in terms of improving makeup application or prolonging wear time. The consistency is on the liquid side and it's more or less like putting on a hydrating, lightweight moisturiser. The texture is undoubtedly very pleasant. It's smooth, blends out easily and absorbs well while leaving a protective, moisturised barrier in between the skin and your foundation. I think it does assist foundations with a thicker texture (whether naturally or because they've dried out a little over time) to apply in a less cakey, patchy manner. It also helps slightly with luminosity, but pretty much any good moisturiser will also do that, plus I tend to pick foundations with a dewy finish anyway. I do appreciate tremendously that this is foremost a hydrating primer that feels more like a moisturiser, rather than something mattifying/velvety and designed for oily/combination skin (like Benefit POREfessional, which I've never been a fan of). The packaging also goes some way in justifying the price tag, with a weighty cap and the smart long, thin nozzle that prevents excess product from being wasted or contaminated.

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Hydrogenated Polydecene, Glycerin, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Dimethicone, Cetearyl Alcohol, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Niacinamide, Glyceryl Stearate, Nylon-12, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Dicaprylyl Ether, Squalane, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Behenoyl Hydroxyproline, Ethylhexylglycerin, Polysilicone-11, Sodium Carbomer, Chlorphenesin, Xanthan Gum, Mica, Tocopheryl Acetate, Behenic Acid, Disodium Edta, Sodium Hyaluronate, Retinyl Palmitate, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Pancratium Maritimum Extract, Rosa Centifolia Flower Extract, Bht, Rubus Idaeus Leaf Cell Culture, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891).

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Morphe Brushes: Worth the Hype?

At the end of last year, after seeing Jaclyn Hill's Favourite Morphe Brushes video, I finally caved and put in an order for four Morphe brushes: the M527 (Deluxe Pointed Powder, goat hair), M439 (Deluxe Buffer, synthetic), E4 (Angled Contour, synthetic) and M501 (Pro Pointed Blender, sable). I paid $44.17 USD for the brushes (after a 15% discount), but shipping was $16 USD, bringing the total to $60.17 USD ($84.85). At over $21 per brush on average, they're not even that cheap, but I genuinely was curious to experience them just in case they lived up to the hype.

l-r: M527, M439, E4, M501

I'll just cut right to the chase. After using these for over a month and a couple of washes, here are my general impressions:
  • Worse quality than Real Techniques, Zoeva and Sigma, materials/manufacturing feel cheaper
  • Brushes shed more than I'm used to (both natural and synthetic hair)
  • Goat hair brushes that I thought had all white bristles have lots of black hairs in them
  • Elite Collection (brushes beginning with 'E', like the E4) are better quality than normal line
  • Sable hair feels plasticy and a little scratchy, goat hair is admittedly pretty soft
  • Functionally, they by and large do the job
  • Not the best value for your money given the high shipping cost from US to Australia (about $23 for 4 brushes, goes up with weight), but some brushes may be worth considering buying if on sale and/or if you live in America.

I've also included comparisons with other brushes in my collection and some comments about each individual brush.

Top to bottom: Morphe M527, Wayne Goss Brush 00

I was most excited about the M527 Deluxe Pointed Powder because a) it's rumoured to be a dupe for the MAC 135 Large Flat Powder Brush, popularised by Desi Perkins as she frequently uses it to apply MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural in Give Me Sun! b) it's made of goat hair and I'm partial to a white goat hair brush. When this came, believe it or not, I spent like an hour trying to remove all the odd black hairs with tweezers. Definitely not recommended (or smart), but I couldn't help it from an aesthetic point of view.

The closest thing I have to the M527 is the Wayne Goss Brush 00, though they're basically nothing alike except for the fact both could be categorised as powder brushes and are made of goat hair. Clearly, there's also no comparison in terms of quality, which you'd expect given the Wayne Goss retails for $85 USD and the Morphe $15.99 USD. The M527 is okay for a diffused touch of bronzer over a relatively large surface area, but when do I ever need to do that, really? I could also see this working for a feathery application of powder all over the face. Quality wise, it's not up to scratch for me to enjoy having it in my collection (same could be said for all 4 brushes). It is at least nicely soft, so I'll give it that.

Top to bottom: Morphe M439, Real Techniques Buffing Brush, Sigma F82

l-r: Sigma F82, Real Techniques Buffing Brush, Morphe M439

The Morphe M439 Deluxe Buffer was sold to me as the ultimate foundation buffing brush. Um, not really. I don't find it any better than the Real Techniques Buffing Brush or Sigma F82 Round Top Kabuki function-wise, and it's inferior quality-wise. I see so many errant black hairs sticking out from the top of the brush, a problem I've never experienced with Real Techniques or Sigma. It also shed alarmingly after I washed it for the first time (we're talking the ability to pull out entire clusters of hairs). On the plus side, shape-wise, it's bigger than both the Real Techniques and Sigma. It's also a little fluffier than the more condensed, tightly packed F82 and has a more domed shape than the flatter Buffing Brush, but these differences aren't huge, and don't make up for the differences in quality. Still, it doesn't hurt to have an extra buffing brush since they're such a staple.

Top to bottom: Morphe E4, Models Prefer Mystique Angled Blush Brush, Zoeva 127 Luxe Sheer Cheek

l-r: Zoeva 127, Models Prefer Mystique Angled Blush Brush, Morphe E4

Now the E4 Angled Contour I'm pretty happy with. The appearance, cut and feel of the bristles is definitely better than the other three brushes I bought, which was intentional on Morphe's part since the brush is part of their higher priced Elite Collection. The brush to me is reminiscent of IT Cosmetics (I feel like the E41 Round Deluxe Powder would be very comparable to the IT Cosmetics Live Beauty Fully Complexion Powder Brush #225) or Sephora Pro line.

While I do have a couple other angled blush brushes, I don't have a purely synthetic version. I like that the E4 has more body and density than the floppier Zoeva 127 or Models Prefer Angled Blush Brush, and therefore you can pat/tap the product onto the cheeks rather than having to apply and blend in circular motions. The result is less patchy and more even colour application that melds into the skin. I'm happy with the size and shape of the E4, which is a big ask when one has a large, flat face like me.

It's funny how the brushes we doubt the most from the outset turn out to be the winners. I was very much on the fence about whether I needed the E4 given I had two other angled blush brushes, but luckily Jaclyn Hill's OTT pitch in her Favourite Morphe Brushes video pushed me over the edge ("This is the most perfect blush brush in the world. I wish I made it myself. It's SO good. I just feel like it was meant for me. It is all my dreams come true in a blush brush. I never think I'm going to use another blush brush again. I have no desire to try one.")

Top to bottom: Morphe M501, Burberry No.09 Socket Line Brush, Models Prefer MPA104 Airbrush Concealer, Real Techniques Setting Brush

l-r: Real Techniques Setting Brush, Models Prefer Airbrush Concealer, Burberry No.09, Morphe M501

I was expecting highlighter brush perfection with the M501 Pro Pointed Blender, but it didn't wow me. It's not that soft, the shape isn't that ideal, and the bristles could do a better job. I feel like it's a bit too splayed out for a precise, controlled application on the tops of cheekbones or down the bridge of the nose. The bristles pick up a lot of product but don't necessarily apply the product in a concentrated enough manner. It's fine for super pigmented highlighters and a quick, somewhat sloppy blending job, but I find there are better options. The Models Prefer Airbrush Concealer makes more direct contact with the skin's surface and really blends product flawlessly, while not spreading it out over too large an area. The Burberry No.09 brush is like a smaller, superior version of the M501. The Real Techniques Setting Brush has a flat, tapered shape that lets you place the product exactly where you want it, but the soft, synthetic bristles make blending easy and foolproof. I almost feel like the M501's true calling is actually as a precise contouring brush than for highlighter.

Monday, February 1, 2016

New Skin Care Additions

About two months ago, I purchased a couple of new skin care products that I've now had time to properly trial and talk about: Edible Beauty No. 3 Exotic Goddess Ageless Serum and Muji Cleansing Oil. I bought the Edible Beauty serum at Sephora (the 15ml travel size was cheaper than the full size and a safer bet in case it didn't work for me) while the Muji oil was bought from The Galeries store ($10.95 for 200ml, surprisingly not too expensive).

I'd finished my DHC Deep Cleansing Oil and was using Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm, but wanting something entirely liquid for ease of use. I was hoping the Muji would be a cheaper but equally effective alternative to DHC.

Ingredients: Hydrogenated polyisobutene, PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate, ethyl oleate, sorbitan oleate, olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, helianthus annuus (hybrid sunflower) oil, dipropylene glycol, citrus aurantium dulcis (orange) flower water, water, butylene glycol, tocopherol, prunus persica (peach) leaf extract, prunus armeniaca (apricot) juice, glycerin, propylparaben, butylparaben

Compare that with the DHC Deep Cleansing Oil.

Ingredients: Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Sorbeth-30 Tetraoleate, Pentylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Tocopherol, Stearyl Glycyrrhetinate, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil

We have to get through the first four ingredients of the Muji before we reach the first ingredient of the DHC, olive oil. Still, close enough, right? Especially when the cleanser's main purpose is simply to remove makeup at the end of the day as efficiently as possible.

I usually use 2 pumps for my whole face, though sometimes I feel generous and do 3 (which I then spread onto the neck as well). It gets rid of makeup fine, including stubborn eye makeup. However, I don't think it's as good as DHC in two ways. First, it doesn't get really deep down into the pores and help minimise blackheads and refine my skin's texture as the DHC. Second, while both cleansers get into my eyes as I'm trying to scrub away mascara and eyeliner, the Muji is harder to wash out and really stings my eyes after I get out of the shower. That's even when I spend more time and effort trying to thoroughly rinse my eyes and wash away any trace oil that may have accumulated around the waterline (both upper and lower) and tear duct. I only feel like I can get rid of the oil from my eyes with a good dose of my beloved (and tragically emptied) Rohto eye drops.

I recently used up the Edible Beauty No. 3 Exotic Goddess Ageless Serum and already miss it. This one I had no complaints about. After cleansing at night, I would put 2 drops on my face and follow with Trilogy Rosapene Night Cream mixed with 3-4 drops of argan oil. In the morning, I'd wake up to smoother, softer, calmer skin that looked well rested and supple. While I was using it, I was generally happy with the condition of my skin, the way it looked bare-faced and how my foundation applied. No pesky dryness, flakiness or rough patches indicative of skin care that isn't working.

Ingredients: Aqua, Citrus Aurantium (Water), Glycerin, Sodium Hyaluronate (Hyaluronic Acid), Beta Glucan, Leontopodium Alpinum (Edelweiss) Extract, Terminalia Ferinandiana (Kakadu Plum) Extract, Syzygium Luehmannii (Lilli Pilli) Extract, Camellia Senensis (White Tea) Extract*, Acerola Malpigia Punicifolia (Acerola), Davidsonia Pruriens (Davidson Plum) Extract, Sclerotium Gum, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Lonicera Caprifolium (Honeysuckle) Extract, Populus Tremuloides Bark Extract, Gluconolactone

I find that I'm partial to watery, liquidy serums like the Exotic Goddess Ageless Serum or Antipodes Apostle Skin Brightening & Tone Correcting Serum rather than gel-like or oily ones. They're absorbed quickly and generally feel more hydrating, refreshing and soothing on the skin, rather than sticky or greasy. My only gripe with them is because they literally feel like water, it's easy to get through a bottle quickly. The size of the bottle was a bit misleading as the actual product contained was only 15ml, but the bottle was closer to a 30ml size. I did use it regularly for about 1.5 months for a $25 spend, so from a cost perspective it's not prohibitive, but it's not hugely economical either. If I bought the full size, it would last about 3 months, whereas something like a bottle of rosehip or argan oil takes me forever to use up (I'm talking over a year with generous use).

There are definitely cheaper serums on the market, but whether I'll like them as much remains to be seen. I've just currently begun testing out Sugar Baby Vita+Skin Super Serum High Potency Nutrient Complex and Rosehip by essano Collagen Repair Serum (Priceline 40% off skin care purchases, of course), and first impressions are that both aren't as good as Edible Beauty. Maybe you get what you pay for.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...