After washing and moisturising my face (I've been loving a sample of the hydrating but not oily Innisfree Perfect 9 Repair Lotion), I start with the eyes. While usually one of the most enjoyable aspects of makeup for me, I've ditched all my powder eyeshadows or need for brushes in favour of one product only: KIKO Long Lasting Stick Eyeshadow. I alternate between two shades, Rosy Brown (for a more cool-toned, mauvey taupe option) and Golden Brown (more neutral bronze). Touted as a dupe for By Terry Ombre Blackstar Cream Eyeshadow, these are quite simply the best shadow stick I've come across. The quality is superb for the price. They're strongly pigmented, very metallic but not gritty or patchy, long lasting, easy to apply and blend, and most importantly, flattering on the eyes. So quick, fuss-free and reliable. I just whack some onto the lid and blend out the edges with my finger. I also run the stick along the lower lash line. It takes about 30 seconds per eye and the eyeshadow is done.
l-r: KIKO Long Lasting Stick Eyeshadow in Rosy Brown (05), Golden Brown (06)
Next is eyeliner. I've been trying out the affordable Essence Eyeliner Pen Waterproof which I used my $5 birthday voucher from Priceline towards. It's only so-so. The colour is pleasantly black, but it's the shape of the tip that doesn't work for me. It doesn't give me enough control when extending the line and drawing the flick. It's more of a hard felt tip rather than a flexible but firm thin brush like my superior Japan-made Creer Beaute La Rose de Versailles liquid eyeliner, which I'd use all the time except that it's running out. The Essence also dries in a way that if you go over the dried eyeliner, it'll flake off.
After eyeliner, I follow with whatever mascara I have available. The two I've been reaching for are in their final stages and nothing to write home about. I'm more or less waiting for them to be finished entirely before cracking open one of the many brand new mascaras I have waiting in the wings.
Next comes skin. Some days if I'm interested in an injection of extra glow, I'll apply a small amount of MAC Strobe Cream all over like I would a luminising primer. I'm having something of a lovefest with Strobe Cream at the moment and think it's incredibly underrated despite its cult product status. The colour is beautiful, the texture is great, it's so multifunctional and compared with other liquid highlighting products like Chanel Le Blanc de Chanel Sheer Illuminating Base or Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Liquid, it's not that expensive. I find applying Strobe Cream to my bare face before foundation results in a more natural, subtle effect than if I mixed it into my foundation. I am slightly paranoid that smoothing it over my nose and forehead has a tendency to break me out, but it seems fine over the cheeks.
Recently, I've been sticking to one pump of Dior Diorskin Nude BB Creme in Fair (02) mixed with a drop of Tarte Maracuja Oil applied with my Zoeva Silk Finish brush for my base. I don't know if the texture of my Dior is a bit off, but I don't really like it. It feels slightly moussey and thicker in consistency than most liquid foundations I'm used to. Coverage is definitely on the light side, which wouldn't be too much of a problem if my skin was in good shape, but lately I've had some dryness, redness and break outs which call for concealer after the foundation is applied. Otherwise, you can see most of the underlying blemished and uneven skin peeking through. Even with the drop of oil mixed in and thoroughly buffed in with my brush, the BB Creme doesn't meld or sink completely into my skin. I do notice, especially if I examine my skin closely in the mirror, parts that still sit on top of the skin, especially around the nose. The finish isn't as brightening or dewy as I'd like, though it's not exactly matte. It's just a bit flat, albeit "natural" (though the colour is a little too pink-toned for me). Additionally, as the day goes on, the foundation starts to break up on my skin, especially visible on the cheeks. It's not as effectively skin-perfecting, illuminating or easy to work with than the much cheaper Garnier BB Cream Miracle Skin Perfector Combination to Oily Skin. However, I'm persevering with the Dior because it was pricey and if I don't force myself to use it, it'll never be touched.
Last we have another favourite aspect of makeup for me apart from the eyes — blush. The two I've been loving lately have been Benefit Rockateur and Max Factor Creme Puff Blush in Nude Mauve. The Benefit is a brightening, shimmery pinky peach that's more girly, summery and warming, whereas the plummy brown, satin-finish Nude Mauve is more cool-toned, sculpting and polished. Nude Mauve is a versatile hybrid bronzer and blush that I can just whack on without being concerned about placement or overdoing it, since the colour payoff is on the subdued side. It has a softer baked texture and blends without any issues. I'm still loving my Wayne Goss Brush #14 for blush, though I've also been reaching for my angled Zoeva Luxe Sheer Cheek Brush.
l-r: Benefit Rockateur, Max Factor Nude Mauve
Depending on time constraints and whether I feel like it, I'll highlight and/or powder after blush. I did go through a phase of preferring certain colour-shifting eyeshadows (Kat Von D Metal Crush Eyeshadow in Thunderstruck, Makeup Geek Duochrome Eyeshadow in I'm Peachless) to dedicated powder highlighters for my cheek highlight, but I've found the texture of them usually isn't as forgiving on the skin. They're not as easily blended and can emphasise pores and sit on the skin in an obvious manner. I've been mostly using Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Champagne Pop (can't beat the colour and the BAM! HIGHLIGHT effect) or Dior Diorskin Poudre Shimmer in Amber Diamond (probably the most refined highlighter I have, along with Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow), applied with a Burberry No.09 Socket Line Brush. Powder has been Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Powder in N°20 which I actually really like, except I suspect that might have more to do with the fact it's Chanel than anything else.
As a final step, I'll put on some lip balm. I do this for an odd purpose — it's not to hydrate my lips, but rather, to get rid of any foundation on my lips. I'll remove the lip balm with a tissue which removes any foundation. I've been rediscovering the cult product Lucas' Papaw Ointment. My tube is God knows how old, but it still works perfectly. The shine it gives the lips is super pretty and it's an excellent multipurpose ointment that soothes, protects and moisturises.