Monday, February 27, 2012

Simple Is Best

Beauty looks from the 2012 Oscars ceremony and afterparties.

Jessica Chastain

 Natalie Portman

Brooklyn Decker

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Inspiration and Appropriation

Three items I picked up at Lovisa recently. I'm probably too old to shop there considering how many junior high schoolers were wandering around in the store. Other than these two rings and the pair of earrings, I've only ever bought one necklace from Lovisa (which I've still yet to wear out), but overall the merch seems like a slightly more grown up, refined Diva. It's interesting that these youth-oriented costume jewellery shops have scored quite high profile models, like Bambi Northwood-Blyth for Diva, and up-and-coming Australia's Next Top Model Season 7 winner Montana Cox for Lovisa.

 l-r: Yves Saint Laurent Arty Enamel ring, Lovisa Dotted Stone Drop ring

And before any fashion purists get all up in arms, yes, Lovisa's Dotted Stone Drop ring is an unabashed YSL ripoff. However, it was practically free given that there was a 3 for 2 offer store-wide, and I was curious to try a cheaper approximation to see if I'd even like such a huge and gaudy ring before potentially shelling out for the real thing. While the price tag for the Arty rings isn't super prohibitive ($US250), my tastes tend towards the more dainty and understated, so this Lovisa copy is mainly for trialling purposes and the novelty factor. The Triangle Drop earrings are also reminiscent of House of Harlow, but I suppose they're a little less blatant and more "inspired".

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Weekend Goodies: FOA and Essence

Thanks to the heads up from Michelle, I managed to get myself to a Big W to take advantage of the sales they had for Face of Australia products. I picked up the Face Base Primer that I've only read raves about and another Lip Quench lipstick in Iced Almond (I would've also bought Pink Champagne, but there weren't any left). I also headed to Target to take a look at the Essence selection they had. Luckily, they still had a few pots of the bronze gel eyeliner I previously lamented missing out on. I also noticed a stand showcasing the Ballerina Backstage collection which I'd hadn't seen before. There were these so-called "eye soufflé" and "blush soufflé" jars that immediately intrigued me. I purchased the eye soufflé in Pas Des Copper and the blush in Prima Ballerina.

l-r: Pas Des Copper, Prima Ballerina, BBC All Night Brown, Iced Almond

With flash

Face of Australia Iced Almond looks quite peachy in the photos, but it's really a nude lipstick. I would consider it a variation of Lychee Crush, except lighter, not as pink, more beige and slightly peachier.

The Essence soufflé pots really surprised me in terms of quality and innovation. The blush is a medium dusty pink that is airy and lightweight in texture, gliding on and blending effortlessly. I may or may not have been subconsciously lured into buying it after watching this morning Lisa Eldridge's most recent video centered around pink cheeks. The blush is very light in terms of intensity of colour and the creamy product almost instantly absorbs into and dries on the skin without any residue or stickiness.

Pas Des Copper is a warm, slightly pink-toned shimmery copper cream eyeshadow. It could be easily introduced into one's daily routine, dabbed all over the lid with the finger for a fuss-free, daytime neutral eye. I imagine it would also work well as a base for powder shadows, as would the other shade in the collection, Dance in the Swan Lake, a pinkish milky white.

The gel eyeliner in BBC All Night Brown (I don't get the name either) is pleasingly dark enough to really define the eyes, but light enough so it's not a stark black. Like the other Essence gel eyeliner I have in London Baby, staying power is excellent, bordering on a little too good (in terms of the extra effort required in taking it off).

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Purple Silver Green

Not Like the Movies from the OPI Katy Perry Collection is one of those polishes I tend to forget about and neglect, only to be reminded when I dig it out that it's a pleasure to wear and one of my favourites. I adored the whole Katy Perry Collection and bought 4 of the 5 polishes in the range (all but Last Friday Night). Initially, I didn't think I'd like this shade because of how green and murky it looked in the bottle. But on the nail, it's a gorgeous metallic duochrome with a shimmering finish, a grey-based lilac with silver microshimmer that flashes green at certain angles. The unique colour combination is odd but striking. It applies like a dream, needs only 2 coats for complete coverage and has excellent wear time. This chameleonic, lighter shade also serves as the perfect base for Black Shatter.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Subtle Lustre

In case it hasn't been made apparent already, I'm quite the Pixiwoo fan. And if you've ever watched one of Nic or Sam's videos, chances are you've seen this product being used. It's the Jemma Kidd Dewy Glow All Over Radiance Crème in Rose Gold. It honestly seems that this cream highlighter was single-handedly catapulted into the consciousness of the beauty blogosphere by the makeup guru sisters, especially Sam. It's been used to beautiful effect in numerous videos (see this J.Lo Healthy Glow look, Sam's tutorial promoting her Real Techniques Core Collection set, this recreation of Sam's Rodial Awards makeup, or this Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen tutorial, also the look Sam wore to the IMATS).

I found it really difficult to capture the highlighter in pictures, possibly because the effect it gives isn't really obvious and the colour blends into my natural skin tone. When applied to the face, it gives a subtle, slightly golden lustre without any clearly distinct shimmer particles that some highlighters have. The texture is very smooth and non-sticky, but quite thin. I'm not sure where the "Rose" in Rose Gold comes from, because I didn't pick up any pink tones whatsoever. To my eyes, it's a pure warm gold colour.

I feel that this cream highlighter would ideally suit fairer complexions. It may just be a matter of personal preference, or the fact my skin is a touch too tan at the moment for the highlighting effect to be most effective, but it's almost too subtle for me. Not to say that an understated glow isn't desirable, but there's a fine line between understated, and barely detectable. It does show up on my skin, but I'm not entirely convinced it works for me as a highlighter. Maybe it's just a matter of needing to play around with it more in the coming weeks to figure out how to achieve the best effect. I do think it's a quality product and I'm pleased to have it in my hands. The packaging is well done and the mirror inside is really useful for touch ups on the go. I bought my All Over Radiance Crème for around $25 from BeautyBay.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Foiled Again

My newest nail polish acquisition is Chi Chi Go Go Girl, a predominately silver foil with bronze/gold tones depending on the light. It fluctuates between a silver-based old gold and a bronze-tinged pewter. I was hoping it would be a more rose gold but it leans more brown than pink, and overall is very silvery.

The finish is super reflective and shiny, to the extent it's almost blinding in direct, strong sunlight. For me, the polish is too loud and blingy for everyday wear, but it's a good alternative to glitter for a party/NYE nail. Application was fairly smooth and only very slightly streaky. It has an almost spongy texture when half to near dry that helps to even out the polish over the nail.

Chi Chi, Go Go Girl

With flash

Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear, Celeb City

Celeb City on index finger, Go Go Girl on middle finger

Compared to the other foil polish I have, Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear in Celeb City, Celeb City is clearly a more whitish silver. However, given how silvery Go Go Girl is, the two are very similar. I'm sure you can find a cheaper dupe of Go Go Girl (possibly Ulta3 Envy), but I've no complaints about the formula or application. I just wish it were not as overpoweringly silver and more saturated in terms of colour.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Giving Essence a Whirl

I found myself at Target the other day and no surprise which section I gravitated toward. You guessed it. The cosmetics area. In particular, I headed to the Essence stand. This budget European brand is stocked exclusively in Australia by Target. I'm a fan of their Kajal pencil in Teddy which I've been using on my lower lashline for quick and fuss-free definition. I previously hadn't really explored the rest of the range, but this time I decided to have a closer look. Essence are known for their themed capsule collections, mostly recently the Bondi Beach Sun Club and Vampire's Love Limited Edition Range. I recall the last time I visited Target, the Sun Club range was stocked in full. I contemplated getting the bronze gel eyeliner, but decided against it (as I thought the Savvy by DB Brilliant Bronze Luxury Liner that I already had was similar). Really regret that decision now, as everything but a lone, tampered eyeshadow palette was left from the Sun Club range. They restocked some products from Vampire's Love collection, but nothing especially caught my eye.

I picked up 3 single eyeshadows (Blue Mission, Taupe of the Pops and Mystic Lemon), another Kajal pencil in All I Want (I would've bought a back up of Teddy, but there was only one left and it looked like it'd been used and sharpened), and a gel eyeliner in London Baby.

 l-r: Mystic Lemon, Taupe of the Pops, Blue Mission, All I Want, London Baby

With flash

Taupe of the Pops is a "shimmer effect" shadow, Blue Mission is a matte and Mystic Lemon is dubbed a holographic eyeshadow, but I don't see it. The packaging isn't exactly high end, but it does the job. I wouldn't normally wear or buy a colour like Blue Mission, but it was such a gorgeous cornflower blue/periwinkle when swatched that I couldn't resist (the $3.25 price tag also helped). You'll probably have to prime the eye well and lay out a white base to really get the colour to pop, as it is a little chalky and tends to lose its vibrancy patted/blended onto the lid. I was intrigued by the "holographic" label of Mystic Lemon and wanted to try it out at home since there weren't any testers for that shade. You really need to pack it on to see any effect, but it does give a pretty, yellowish light gold sheen, more suited as a highlight than eyeshadow. Taupe of the Pops is the most wearable of the bunch, a cool-toned, mushroomy, slightly greyish pewter that isn't overly shimmery.

I thought I'd use the Kajal pencil in the waterline, but it's too much of a "dead" colour to give any natural brightening effect. The colour is a cool-toned biege, akin to a dark concealer shade. Not very flattering. I'll be on the hunt for a warmer, light peach or yellow instead.

The star of the show is definitely the gel eyeliner. It has an unexpected mousse-like texture and consistency. It's very soft and almost airy. The colour London Baby is a dark brown/charcoal with just a hint of silvery shimmer, a little less intense and something different to your usual black. This stuff lasts. I swatched a fine line onto my hand for the above photos and tried to take everything off with makeup remover. The shadows and pencil eyeliner melted away instantly, but the gel eyeliner wouldn't budge. My wrist currently looks like I marked myself with a black Sharpie. At $5.95, for my money, it's the best gel eyeliner on the market for the price.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sleek Storm

I've never really been into shopping online (I'm impatient, don't want the hassle of lost or faulty shipments and hate paying for shipping), but my growing beauty habit changed all that. Living in Australia means not only are cosmetics overpriced, but we simply don't have access to a lot of popular international brands and products. While I still struggle with my impatience (and wonder incessantly about my orders in transit, and why they haven't reached me yet), the reality is, even with shipping costs factored in, a lot of online purchases still turn out to be better value, notwithstanding the fact you're getting something you want that's not available in stores.

I've read so much about the high street UK makeup brand Sleek and was fairly keen to try out a few items in their range to see if they lived up to all the positive reviews. As Sleek can't be purchased here, I ended up ordering 2 i-Divine palettes (Storm and Bad Girl) and the Rose Gold blush. I wanted to get the Au Naturel palette as well, but it was (and still remains) sold out on their website. I choose Storm because from swatches I'd seen, it looked right up my alley, and Bad Girl because the dramatic, dark shades seemed ideal for going out/nighttime, and the Pixiwoo girls have featured the palette in a couple of their videos (e.g. Rock Chic, Lea Michele at the Golden Globes 2012). I'll make posts about the Bad Girl palette and Rose Gold blush later, but for now I'll focus on the Storm palette.

With flash

Storm contains 9 shimmery/metallic shades and 3 matte shades (a light tan, medium brown and black). Much like the Naked palette, the matte shadows don't really attract me and I don't don't anticipate I'll use them very much. The pigmentation of the mattes isn't as good as the shimmery shades, the light tan is too similar to my skin tone to make any impact and the black is nothing special. My favourite colour in the palette is probably the 7th from the left in the above swatches, great for a smokey bronze eye. The colours in the first row are generally quite light and orange/yellow-leaning, and might be a tad too warm for my skin tone. I prefer the darker metallic shades in the second row, though they're a little heavy for daytime wear. The shade second from the left looks like it might be useful for highlighting, but it's quite frosty and white, so I wouldn't recommend it for that purpose. Overall, the shadows didn't disappoint in terms of pigmentation and texture, and I was pleasantly surprised by the streamlined and compact packaging. The large mirror is a bonus and great for travel.

I purchased my i-Divine palette direct from the Sleek website, where it sells for $US10. While shipping is $13.50, it still works out to be cheaper than if I purchased through Crush Cosmetics (though you'd have to wait longer). Sleek don't provide tracking links for orders, which isn't ideal, but not uncommon. I made my order on 26 January, it was despatched on 2 February and arrived 17 February. Not exactly speedy, but reasonable for standard international delivery. At the very least it got here, which is more than can be said for 2 other orders I made from other websites around the same time. Did I mention my love-hate relationship with Internet shopping?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Emerald and Granite

I was curious to acquire Revlon's Black with Envy after reading comments that it was a potential dupe for Chanel's Black Pearl. Not having Black Pearl, I can't do a direct comparison, but I noticed that Black with Envy was very similar to an existing polish I have, Sportsgirl's Berlin. While both are metallic dark green polishes, there are slight differences that ensure the two aren't completely identical.  

Revlon Black with Envy

Sportsgirl Nail It! Berlin

Berlin on index and ring finger, Black with Envy on middle finger and pinky

Berlin on index finger, Black with Envy on middle finger

Berlin is a dark emerald green while Black with Envy is more a forest green with granite tones. The shimmer in Berlin is a gleaming, eye-catching emerald. Black with Envy has more imperceptible, silvery shimmer. Overall, Berlin is more vibrant and jewel-like, while Black with Envy is more muted and grey-leaning with finer shimmer. I don't clearly prefer one over the other, and to me, they're similar enough to only need one. Black with Envy, being more subdued and sophisticated, seems more suited for the office, and Berlin, a little louder and more saturated, for a night out.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Luxe For Less

Savvy by DB Luxury Liners are a revelation. They're creamy, richly pigmented, glide on effortlessly, stay put and last. I swatched each of them onto my arm and rubbed my finger over the lines I drew and they didn't budge. No transfer, no smudging. I don't know much about the Savvy by DB brand, except that Priceline stocks it and the whole range has been on sale for a while, possibly because everything's being discontinued and they're starting from scratch. They better not stop producing these German-made liners because they might be the best eyeliner pencils I've used.

From memory, they retail for $8 each for 1.2g of product, but I purchased the 6 available colours when they were 50% off. I also stocked up on the black liner (Shimmering Slate) at a later sale when everything was $3. The fine silver shimmer particles differentiate it from an ordinary opaque black and Shimmering Slate has now become my default pencil eyeliner on days when I don't feel like using a felt tip or gel eyeliner. My other favourite is Brilliant Bronze, especially pretty on the lower lash line.

 l-r: Glistening Green, Pearlescent Plum, Glitzy Gold, Shimmering Slate, Illuminating Indigo, Brilliant Bronze

 In direct sunlight

My one gripe about these liners is that because they're so creamy, they're difficult to sharpen to a nice point. The tip is quite soft as well, which means they're not the best for precision work. This doesn't overly bother me, as I use other products when I need a fine line, but it does make it slightly more difficult to use without constant sharpening. Despite that, these eyeliners are truly high quality and exceptional value. Highly recommended.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Pale Gold

When it comes to nail polish, I can't get enough of creme pastels (especially if they're of the green, blue or purple family), feminine nudes and chunky, packed glitters. I'm not usually drawn to foils or frosts, traditional reds, brights or darker colours as much. Regardless, variety is the spice of life and having more options is always better than sticking to the same old. The upside to having a whole drawer of nail polish is that I can change up what I'm wearing depending on my mood. Right now I'm sporting Revlon Crème Brûlée, the closest thing in my collection to Orly Rage, a shade that I stumbled upon recently and now wish I possessed. Crème Brûlée is a metallic champagne, a kind of goldish light beige colour with a fairly subtle sheen. It certainly isn't as shiny and shimmery as Rage, and much lighter and more yellow-leaning in colour, as opposed to a bronzy rose gold.

Natural light 

With flash

Application was smooth and this is 2 coats with a clear base coat. Normally this isn't a colour I'd gravitate towards, but after testing it on one of my nails at Gloss, I literally returned to the shop about 10 minutes after leaving it just to buy it. The shade and finish make for an understated neutral that still has some interest. I like that the fine shimmer isn't silver-based so it's not frosty, and the colour itself is a more subdued champagne than a straight up, yellow-based gold. It'll have to be the closest substitute in my collection for that perfect rose gold I've yet to find.
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