Thursday, June 28, 2012

Purple Persuasion

It's been a while since I bought Revlon Scandalous (761), and though I painted one nail in a previous post, I didn't get around to wearing it on both hands until just last week. I have to say the result exceeded my expectations, and then some. I love this polish. I didn't want to take it off. I kept admiring how it perfect it was in ways that I couldn't have anticipated just looking at the bottle, or painting a single nail. The blackish-purple base is dark enough to add drama and contrast, but somehow has enough body and depth so it's not dull and flat. The dense fuchsia glitter is sandwiched and set in the polish itself, almost giving a gradient effect as the glitter becomes marginally less concentrated at the tip of the nail. It's vital you paint a top coat (as I've done here with my now beloved Sally Hansen Insta-Dri), as it prolongs wear time and makes everything smooth and shiny. And with a polish as special as this one, you'd want to make it last.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Pen Light

I guess you could say YSL Touche Éclat is the only luxe beauty product I own. I believe it sells for $55 at Myer and David Jones, but I bought mine from Chemist Warehouse for $30. This "complexion highlighter" barely needs an introduction. It's a cult beauty product touted as "the secret of makeup artist and models", said to work miracles to inject life and light back to tired, dull-looking skin. The cylindrical pen feels sleek and luxurious, a shiny gold bullet inscribed with the elegant YSL logo. Removing the cap, you click the nub at the base to disperse product onto the brush. What I usually do is wipe the product off the brush onto my clean hand and then use my fingers to apply and blend. I have shade #2 (Luminous Ivory). It's significantly lighter than my natural skin tone, but looking at swatches of the other available shades, I think I made the right choice (that, and there weren't that many to choose from at Chemist Warehouse anyway).

l-r: natural skin, same area after applying Touche Éclat

When I first bought this, I was on the fence about it. I tried it mostly around where I have uneven pigmentation on my face (namely the sides of my nose and around my mouth), and I did notice that it brightened up those areas significantly, almost to an unnatural extent. A little goes a long way. Three clicks is sufficient to get quite a bit of product, and you only need a small amount, blended out, for a noticeable effect. However, I found the formula to be slightly on the dry side. It wasn't as emollient and creamy as I expected, though I didn't experience any major issues with blending or having it settle into fine lines.

Recently, I had the random urge to revisit my Touche Éclat, this time to see how it fared as an under eye concealer. As the second last photo shows, it somewhat helped to conceal the darkness under my eyes, but mostly what it did was lighten my overall complexion. I tried to take the side by side photos more or less at the same time with the same lighting and same camera settings, and I was surprised at just how much whiter and lighter my skin looked with the Touche Éclat. It doesn't specifically conceal dark circles, but rather just lightens the face in a powerful way. Even though #2 is much lighter than my skin tone, a thin layer carefully blended helps to perfect my skin by brightening the darker areas of my face, evening out the complexion and counteracting dullness. Having said that, this isn’t a product I reach for on a regular basis. It’s something I’d use on special occasions if I wanted a really flawless, highlighted face, or as a concealer for more laidback days when I still want a bit of coverage but not a full face of foundation.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Face, Body and Hands

This year, along with the Beauty Bag, Priceline has also released both a hair and skin care bag. I passed up on the hair one (mainly because I don’t do anything with my hair except wash it every couple of days and spray some dry shampoo in between washes), but this skin care one was just so stuffed with goodies, I couldn't resist. In order to claim one, you need to spend $50 on skin care across the participating brands (which include Avene, Dove, Neutrogena, Nivea, Sukin, Biore, Vaseline, Palmer’s, Yes To Carrots and others).

My bag contained 20 items housed in a Models Prefer black patent mock croc tote. There’s all the skin care I need for the next couple of years in here. Body lotion, hand cream, face cream, face treatments, face masks, face mist, blemish sticks, cleanser, facial towelettes, perfumed deodorant and sunscreen. Granted, I probably wouldn’t actively go out and buy any of the contents (except maybe the Avene Thermal Spring Water), but I guess that’s the appeal of a freebie bag: being able to sample so many full-sized products that I normally wouldn’t purchase.

Here’s what’s inside (and my thoughts on a few):

Apivita Express Beauty Mask With Carrot

Avene Thermal Spring Water (50ml)
It’s really just water (and nitrogen) in a can, but somehow I kind of love it. Spritzed on, it feels genuinely refreshing and calming, and adds a touch of dewiness to the skin if used as a makeup setting spray. The nozzle is a thing of wonder because it disperses a truly fine mist.

Biore Clean Things Up Gel Cleanser

Dove Silky Nourishment Body Cream

Innoxa SOS Skin Tissue Oil Aerosol
This is an oil in an aerosol that you can use on either your face or body. It claims to moisturise dry skin and minimise scarring, stretch marks, wrinkles and uneven skin tone. I’m not convinced about rubbing oil into my face, but it doesn’t seem any greasier than a rich cream, so we’ll see how it goes.

Neutrogena Ultimate Sport Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30+
Pleased about the inclusion of this because I’m lacking a good sunscreen. It’s something that I usually neglect as an individual step (relying instead on the SPF in my day cream), because sunscreens I’ve tried are usually greasy, chalky and leave a white cast. But this one feels light and non-greasy, like I could substitute it for my daily moisturiser.

Nivea Intensive Nourishing Hand Cream
Pretty standard hand cream infused with the Nivea Crème smell, which I find unpleasantly pungent and overpowering.

OXY Emergency Zit Blitz Gel
I just realised it says at the top “engineered for male skin”. You’re supposed to apply the gel directly from the tube at the first sign of a spot appearing. I've been having minor breakouts fairly consistently, so I'm curious to see if this will work the next time I get a pimple (which can't be too far off).

Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Fragrance Free Body Lotion
I wouldn’t say this is completely fragrance free, it smells like a much lighter version of the rich, buttery and chocolatey original. I don’t mind the scent of the normal one, but this fragrance-free version seems a bit fresher and lighter.

Playboy Play It Rock Body Spray
Not a fan of the scent. I sprayed it on my hand to test it and then wished I hadn't.

Pure Therapy Intensive Moisture Repair Gel
Not sure how much use I’d get from this as it’s a treatment for those with very dry and flaky skin.

Puretopia Glowingly Smooth Body Polish

Softlips Vanilla SPF 20

Skinvitals Hydraflex Flex-Cloth Face Mask

Sukin Facial Moisturiser (125ml)
I have a 50ml bottle which was another freebie. Wish it had SPF because then I could use it as my daily moisturiser. Otherwise, I sometimes use this at night, but it’s not my preferred choice. I like the feeling of my skin drinking up moisture from my cream (especially in winter), but this is quite watery and light.

U Little Beauty Hand Cream

Vaseline Total Moisture Aloe Fresh SPF 15 Daily Light Lotion

Witch Blemish Stick
Same purpose as the OXY Emergency Zit Blitz Gel but in the form of a stick rather than a gel, and with witch hazel.

Yes To Cucumbers Soothing Hypoallergenic Facial Towelettes
I’ve heard good things about these towelettes and they’re also an Allure Best of Beauty 2011 Award winner, so I’m looking forward to trying them out.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My Own Whimsy

Revlon Blue Lagoon (092) is gorgeous in the bottle, but I was left disappointed with the application. The formula is sheer and prone to streakiness, which usually means I have to paint at least 3 thick layers to eliminate any bald spots. Having to paint multiple coats wouldn't be so much of a problem if the colour didn't become increasingly less appealing with each layer. It goes from a pale baby blue with a resplendent white microshimmer to almost a flat sky blue by the third coat. I was really hoping for something lighter and more pastel. After only a day I was already bored of it, so I decided to jazz things up with a bazillion coats of China Glaze Techno (which I'd been itching to wear properly since I bought it from Paddy's Markets). The result reminded me of a super blinged up version of Revlon Whimsical, which was completely unintentional, and because of that, all the more pleasing. Techno on top manages to soften the brightness of Blue Lagoon. I'm loving the larger holographic hex glitter in Techno and how it gives the illusion of multicoloured glitter. I think the effect would be even more pronounced over a dark base, which I'm keen to try next.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Gloss Goss

Despite the increasingly disturbing amount of lipstick I have, I'm not a huge lip gloss girl. It's just not something I reach for or feel like I want to use all that much. The main reason is I don't quite get the appeal. If I want some colour on my lips, I'll reach for a lipstick. If I want some hydration, I'll reach for a balm. What I don't find myself wanting a whole lot is shiny lips. Especially when said shiny lips attract stray hairs that later stick on your face or glasses. Every now and then (most crucially, when I'm not exposed to wind or my hair is up), I'll whip out a lip gloss and wear it for fun. Something about the colour, or glossiness, or mintiness, or smooth and lush feel of them will redeem my opinion. Here are five of my favourites.

l-r: PK 24, Red Riot, Mauve Pout, Jammy, Who Are You Wearing?

VOV Hi-tech Lip Polish in PK 24
This is the prettiest light pink that just seems to work with the natural pigmentation of my lips. It feels smooth and luxurious when applied (I'm not sure if it's something to do with the sponge applicator or the formulation, or both) and smells of juicy strawberry candy. It's glossy but not in a shiny way, and moisturising without being too sticky or liquid.

CoverGirl Wetslicks AmazeMint in Red Riot (630)
It looks like the most incredible red in the tube, but is actually very sheer. On the lips, it gives the slightest cherry red tint but the colour is barely there. I actually like the fact it's not very pigmented, as it feels light and fresh on. Something easy to just slick on for a bit of understated gloss and tint to the lips. I absolutely love the sweet mint smell and the cooling, tingling sensation it leaves when applied.

Revlon Super Lustrous Plumping Lipgloss in Mauve Pout (07)
Probably the most pigmented lip gloss that I have, I appreciate that it's pure colour and contains no shimmer (so there's no grittiness). I'm not sure why the shade is called Mauve Pout as I don't detect any purple whatsoever. It looks more like a dark rosy pink with brown and coral tones. The formulation is excellent and feels like that of a higher end brand. Super smooth, high colour, glossy, a little on the thick side, but very comfortable on the lips.

Rimmel Sweet Jelly Sheer Lipgloss in Jammy (050)
I've almost used up my tube and repurchased this gloss a few times before it was discontinued. I believe that they were replaced with Royal Gloss Delicious Lipgloss, which I have in Yummy (121). Both are very similar, but I still infinitely prefer Sweet Jelly. Like the CoverGirl Wetslicks, these are very sheer and not very pigmented. While I find the scent of the Royal Gloss cloying and overpowering, Sweet Jelly has more of a juicy fruity smell. Additionally, Sweet Jelly literally has a sweet taste. Not that I make a meal of my lip gloss, but from experience, most lip glosses either taste like nothing or are unpleasant to inadvertently digest. Not Sweet Jelly. There may have been the odd occasion where I found myself licking my lips a little more often when I had this on.

Benefit Her Glossiness in Who Are You Wearing?
I forgot I had this lip gloss for the longest time, it's embarrassingly ancient and I was debating whether or not to include it in this list as it has its flaws. I'm not a fan of the artificial, sickly sweet scent and I find it slightly stings my lips. But the colour is everything. I wish I could find a lipstick equivalent. It's a hot pink but due to its consistency and sheerness, it applies like a warm, slightly brightening but still natural pink. As a gloss, it cancels out the purple of blue-based pinks and adds pigmentation to paler pinks.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Smoke and Storm

I think I've found my new favourite wintry nail polish: Sportsgirl Smoke. I've had my eye on it for a while, but for some reason didn't feel compelled to purchase it. As much as the colour appealed to me, I had reservations about whether it would work with my skin tone. After being alerted by Tezza that it was now on sale, I made sure to stop by my nearest Sportsgirl the next day to pick it up. I'm glad I did because it's the perfect concoction of mushroom, taupe, light grey and purple. I'd describe it as a slightly puttyish, smokey grey with dusty purple undertones that become more prominent depending on the light.

The main reason I was drawn to Smoke was because of its similarity to one of my favourite nail polishes, Storm (also by Sportsgirl). I've previously compared Storm alongside Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear in Wet Cement, and I'm still trying to find a polish as close to it as possible. Swatching Storm and Smoke next to each other, Storm is noticeably darker and more blue-toned, with almost imperceptible silver microshimmer. Smoke is much more grey and warmer. I'm liking the lightness and neutrality of Smoke, with the touch of purple that adds interest and sophistication. Storm needs only one coat for opaque coverage, but Smoke was still a little patchy even with 3 coats.

l-r: Sportsgirl Smoke, Sportsgirl Storm

l-r: Sportsgirl StormSportsgirl Smoke

Most accurate colour representation of Smoke (with Storm on my ring finger)

Monday, June 11, 2012

One Infallible, One Not

A few things I bought on Sunday, determined to go out despite the dreary weather. I'm trying to be more selective about my beauty purchases because I already have too much. I'm determined not to purchase any more lipstick for a while (as much as Maybelline ColorSensational Fuchsia Fever and cheap, discounted Revlon Beyond Natural Protective Liptints were calling out to me), but I haven't been so stringent with my two other big weaknesses, eyeshadow and nail polish. I ended up taking home a new night cream, two eyeshadows and one complimentary eyeshadow brush. And two wool hats in forest green and chocolate from Dotti that were $7 each, even though I have enough hats to run a costume shop.

Target was having 50% off all Nivea products so I figured I might as well take advantage of such a large discount. The shelves were practically cleared by the time I got to them, but there were a few scattered items here and there, including a couple of remaining boxes of Nivea Visage Daily Essentials Rich Regenerating Night Cream. I've been alternating between Nivea Soft and Elizabeth Arden Perpetual Moisture 24 Cream for my face at night, and was looking for something more specifically labelled as a night cream. Though this is said to be for dry and sensitive skin, I found it odd it's scented with that familiar Nivea Creme fragrance. In fact, I'm not entirely sure it's all that different to Nivea Creme. It feels on the light side, yet it's also somewhat greasy (if that makes any sense). It does seem to get soaked up by the skin to leave it feeling softer and more moisturised. I'm not a big fan of the scent though, and I don't sense any particular difference between this "night cream" and the ordinary moisturisers I've been using.

Also at Target, there was 40% off L'Oréal, and I couldn't resist one of the new Color Infallible eyeshadows in Metallic Lilac (037) from the L'Or Electric Collection for Cannes Film Festival 2012. There were two other new shades available, Cosmic Black (which seemed too similar to Bronze Goddess, but with more gold glitter and less shimmery olive gold pigment) and Magnetic Coral (a really pretty orangey coral, but totally unwearable). I now have 6 of these Infallible eyeshadows, and I remain seriously impressed by just how intensely pigmented and shimmery they are. I just wish they were a little easier to manage, as I often find that brushes don't pick up pigment as well as fingers, and unscrewing the lid and removing the conserver just to get to the pigment can be quite fiddly. Metallic Lilac is a blueish, silvery grey with cool lilac tones. It's similar to Flashback Silver, which is lighter, more silver and less blue/purple. The eyeshadow came with a free flat eyeshadow brush that seems purpose-built for these little pots. I haven't tried it yet, but I have high hopes.

I also picked up this Revlon ColorStay Mineral Eyeshadow in Midnight Garnet (03) from Kmart for $6.05. I hate to say bad things about Revlon, as I have something of a love affair with their products usually, but I'm going to go on a little rant about this eyeshadow. This thing sucks. Sucks. It could be the worst eyeshadow I've come across. I had to literally scratch a chunk of the eyeshadow out just to swatch them on my hand. Even then, it was powdery and chalky, like I had put a bit of condensed flour on my hand and was desperately trying to rub some colour from it. I'm not sure what possessed me to buy it, because even if the pigmentation and texture were excellent, I already have countless similar shades. But I remember reading ages ago someone raving about the brown in this trio being particularly gorgeous, so I was hoping to be impressed. Maybe it's the mineral nature of these shadows, but they're very sheer and flat in dimension. The two lighter shades barely show up, and I even went to the effort of trying them wet, something that I almost never do with my eyeshadows. To top it off, the glue that seals the mound to the base has dried up, so it's completely loose in its mold. I could potentially make the dark brown work if I really tried or wanted to go for a barely-there look, but the colour itself is nothing extraordinary and I have plenty of superior eyeshadows that don't require as much effort. This one's going to be buried somewhere alongside all my other abandoned eyeshadows that I've bought and barely touched again.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Slouchy Oak

When the Mulberry Alexa first came to my attention at the beginning of 2010, it was instant obsession. I knew that I couldn't justify the hefty price tag, as much as I loved the satchel design, beautiful tan colour and effortless charm it exuded. I'd just splurged on a Balenciaga bag a few months prior, and was still dealing with having spent so much money for a bag. The Alexa remained on my mind as an object I admired and wished I owned, but always thought beyond my reach. Last week, an opportunity came my way to purchase the bag on sale, and I caved. I'm a little bit wary of "It bags", but I feel that the Alexa has a timeless quality. It's not super trendy, it doesn't scream designer, it's relatively unassuming. I'm telling myself it's an investment piece. I'm happy to have the real thing, and I'm looking forward to using it for years to come.

My two favourite images of the Alexa:

 (via hanneli)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Nude Parade

This post is somewhat overdue. I did my pinks and corals, now here's a rundown of my nude lipsticks. I don't wear nude lipstick often, though there's something inherently appealing about them. Maybe because when I think of nude lipstick, I imagine dark, sexy, smokey eye makeup and smouldering night time looks. We've all been schooled that a nude lip is the obvious companion to heavier eye makeup so that the eyes aren't competing with anything else. The main issue I have with nude lipsticks is that they take more effort to look good. I find they work best with a flawless, glowy base and strong, neutral eyes. Given that kind of makeup isn't exactly my everyday face, I don't have that many opportunities to wear nude lipstick. For the daytime, I usually prefer something with a bit more colour, or nothing at all.

My nude collection, from left to right in the pictures below:
  • Revlon ColorBurst in Soft Nude
  • Rimmel Moisture Renew in Nude Delight
  • Face of Australia Lip Quench in Iced Almond
  • BYS Longwear Lipstick in Beautifully Bare
  • BYS Lipstick in Champagne Rain
  • Australis Colour Inject Mineral Lipstick in Mambo

l-r: Soft Nude, Nude Delight, Iced Almond, Beautifully Bare, Champagne Rain, Mambo

It's kind of impossible to describe each individual colour, as they're all fairly similar and consist of varying amounts of beige/tan, pink and peach. Soft Nude is hands down my favourite. It neutralises and lightens my natural, medium reddish-brown lip colour to a soft, slightly peachy nude, while still working with my overall skin tone. I favour the texture and pigmentation of the ColorBurst lipsticks as I find that they apply to the lip really well without emphasising fine lines. I'm not a fan of really creamy lipsticks, as the product usually just sits on the surface of the lip and smears and smudges. Nude Delight is my second favourite, it's basically Soft Nude but darker and peachier. Iced Almond looks almost identical to Soft Nude in the swatch, but it's actually a touch lighter and has more pink, which looks slightly more brown when worn. Beautifully Bare is more of a medium brownish-pink, though it's still a distinctly nude lipstick on my lips. It's quite a wearable and natural looking colour. Champagne Rain is very close to Beautifully Bare, but the tiniest bit darker and more brown. It also has a hint of frostiness which I don't love. Mambo is utterly unflattering on me as it's way too brown and very much a skin colour. I'm sure it has the potential to look good on someone else, but on me it manages to remove the natural redness of my lips so all that's left is a dull, lifeless brown. If I really want to wear it, I need to apply a bright pink lip gloss over it to add some colour and warmth.

Monday, June 4, 2012

For the Highlight

I bought the Ecotools Bamboo 6 Piece Eye Brush Set on sale a few months ago from Priceline for about $16. At the time, I was unaware of iHerb, where you can purchase it for $7.22 (you can probably get it for even cheaper on eBay). The set consists of 5 brushes, with the 6th item being a hemp and cotton case with a mirror that I chucked in my bottom drawer and never looked at again. There's a Large Eye Brush, Angled Crease Brush, Petite Eye Shading Brush, Highlighting Brush and Smudge Brush. Like most Ecotools brushes, they're pleasingly soft, though some are firmer than others. I've ended up not using these brushes to apply my eyeshadow (I'm sticking with cheap, dual-ended Sportsgirl ones to do that), but I do use two of them all the time, one for blending and the other for slightly smudging out my lower lashline.

l-r: Highlighting Brush, Large Eye Brush, Angled Crease Brush, Petite Eye Shading Brush, Smudge Brush 

Large Eye Brush ("Blend")
This brush is wide (just under 2cm across), flat and soft. It reminds me of a mini foundation brush if anything. Given its size and shape, I don't really know who would be using this for blending, or to apply a wash of eyeshadow over the lid. It seems like you'd need a lot of eye space to get use from this brush. I guess it would be better used to apply and blend concealer under the eyes, or possibly as a brow highlight.

Angled Crease Brush ("Crease")
I have a similar brush from this Ecotools Alicia Silverstone set I purchased a while ago, but slightly smaller and firmer. An issue I've found with this kind of brush is that it doesn't pack on colour well. It's large, fluffy and better for blending than applying eyeshadows. The angled shape of this brush is ideal for blending out the outer corner of the eye, especially if you've applied a darker shadow for a gradient effect.

Petite Eye Shading Brush ("Shade")
It goes from one extreme to another in this set. This brush is ridiculously tiny (7mm across). It's also really thin and flat. How it's supposed to do anything (let alone "shade") is beyond me. The only purpose I can think of is lining the lower lashline (but even then, this wouldn't be the best brush as even though it's small, it's too thin and flat), or highlighting the inner corner of the eye.

Highlighting Brush ("Highlight")
The clear standout of this set and probably the only reason I bought it as I was specifically looking for a brush like this one. Ignore the "highlight" label. This is your standard fluffy blending brush. I alternate this brush with a similar shaped but slightly softer and larger one from the Ecotools 5 Piece Brush Set. It's perfect for blending eyeshadows and softening any harsh edges.

Smudge Brush ("Smudge")
My second favourite of the set, I use this to smudge eyeliner and/or eyeshadow applied to the lower lashline so it's a little more blended out and not so harsh. The pointed shape gives precision but is also still soft. Even if the brush only has one function, it serves it perfectly.
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