Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Young Forever

OPI Teenage Dream. The name says it all really. It's unabashedly pink and glittery and girly, evoking images of tiaras and princess costumes and cotton candy. I remember when I was first experimenting with nail polish in primary school, my favourite polish was something very similar to Teenage Dream. It seems my tastes haven't progressed very far in the intervening years, because this polish is one of the most treasured in my collection. It's a silver/sparkly pink microglitter packed with uniform larger, rounded holographic glitter. Wear it as a party nail, for summer fun, or just to feel twelve again.

Monday, August 27, 2012

I Wish I Never Bought You

Being weak of will when it comes to resisting shiny new things, it's inevitable that over the past few months of buying way too much makeup, I've taken home some major duds. Some products purely underperformed and didn't meet my expectations, others I regret to the extent that I simply didn't need them and already had superior options at home. The net outcome: wasted money, foiled expectations, unloved and superfluous products cluttering up my precious space, but that I still can't bring myself to simply chuck out.

Revlon ColorStay Mineral Mousse Makeup in Light (030) 
If I remember correctly, I bought this to redeem a gift with purchase promotion at Myer. I needed to spend $39.95 or more, so this plus a nail polish seemed to be the closest combination. I think I've used it once or twice, and have never gone back to it again. I don't like matte foundations. I'm not a fan of the mousse texture. It has a faint but unpleasant chemical smell. I have much better foundations that I infinitely prefer to this one, so it's been sitting in my drawer collecting dust and edging rapidly closer to its expiry date, 99% full. To add insult to injury, not long after I'd bought it, I saw it in Priceline for $7 as discontinued stock, and then $4.90 when Priceline had 30% off Revlon. Revlon ColorStay probably would've been a better choice.

Australis Mineral Powder Brush 
Granted, it was only $2.95, but even then, I wish I hadn't bought it. The main reason being when I first washed it, a truly disconcerting amount of black dye came out of the brush. I'd never actually experienced anything like that before, so it made me think twice about ever putting it on my face. Maybe I'll use this as a body brush for bronzer in the summer, but let's face it, the chances I could be bothered are slim. I'll stick with my beloved Real Techniques.

The Body Shop Candied Ginger Lip Balm
I bought this around Christmas last year as it was a limited edition holiday flavour. There's nothing particularly wrong with it, but it serves to demonstrate my fundamental weakness when it comes to lipsticks/lip balms. I had absolutely no reason to buy this, other than I was doing my Christmas shopping for others, and I felt I couldn't go home without treating myself to a little something. But I don't need it. I don't even love it. It smells more like Coca-Cola than the more exotic candied ginger it purports to be. It's colourless and the texture is a lot thinner and waxier than the popular fruity Born Lippy tinted lip balms.

Revlon Matte Eyeshadow in Aubergine (008), Tempting Teal (006), Riviera Blue (007)
I had particularly high hopes for these but they don't do anything for me. They're dull and flat on the lid. I don't seem to have much luck with matte eyeshadows as my eye shape gets along better with satin or shimmery eyeshadows that have a bit more dimension. The texture of these is more on the chalky side, they're quite powdery and seem to lack lasting power, and while they're not complete failures of pigmentation, I needed to go over them several times for the swatch.

Revlon ColorStay Mineral Eyeshadow in Midnight Garnet (03)
Read my extensive rant here (it's the last paragraph). I dislike this so much that I deliberately keep it separate to all my other eye products in my makeup storage. Objectively, it's not totally awful, but I just hate the fact I bought it when I already have countless eyeshadows that perform better and that I won't ever use up. 

Revlon Soft on the Eyes in Sublime (770)
This is now shaping up to be a Revlon eyeshadow bashing post, so let me just clarify that I'm actually a huge fan of Revlon in general, as reflected in the fact that I buy quite a lot of their products. In turn, there's a higher chance that I'll be less than thrilled with a few of their offerings, especially as they release new products and discontinue others so often. I picked this up from the bargain bin price at Priceline a while ago, fully knowing the chance of being blown away by this colourful loose eyeshadow palette was minimal. If you're fair, have huge eyes and a visible crease, these soft wash eyeshadows could be pretty on you. For me, having monolids and no visible socket line, I can't really do much with them. The fact you can only access the pigment through a small hole that you dip the included brush into and the general messiness of loose eyeshadows also don't help.

l-r: Innoxa Summer Matte lipstick in Sugar Frosted, LUSH Lip Tint in Celebrate

Innoxa Summer Matte Lipstick in Sugar Frosted
If there was a candidate for the most unflattering lipstick ever, this would be right at the top. Don't let the swatch fool you, on the lips it's laughably gross, like a whitish purple. A prime example of not selecting a lip colour based on how it looks in the tube or on your hand. It's no one's fault but my own that I foolhardily took this to the counter, fully knowing how chalky and ridiculously light and unwearable it was, but convincing myself I could somehow make it work.

LUSH Lip Tint in Celebrate 
It's not a complete disaster, but like The Body Shop lip balm, I simply didn't need this. It's literally gritty in texture, difficult to apply to the lip smoothly (you really need to exfoliate and moisturise in advance), settles into fine lines and doesn't last long. Not something I enjoy putting on my lips. I tried to salvage it as a highlighter and wasn't impressed.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Bit of Prestige

I recently picked up Prestige Mono Eyeshadow in Champagne (C-93) and rather than doing an individual review, I thought to dedicate a post on the three Prestige eyeshadow singles that I have. In addition to Champagne, I have Topaz and Bacchus. While each eyeshadow retails for $13.50 in Australia, I bought Champagne at a chemist for $6, Bacchus was fished out of a bargain bin for $3, and I didn't pay a cent for Topaz as it was included in a Priceline freebie bag a couple of years ago. Each shade has good, buildable pigmentation, even if the texture isn't exactly buttery and rich. I still had to do a few swipes for the swatches, and I find that the eyeshadows can be a bit thin when first applied and you need to go over a couple of times to deepen the colour.

l-r: Champagne, Topaz, Bacchus




l-r: Champagne, Topaz, Bacchus

l-r: Bacchus, Topaz, Champagne

Champagne (C-93) I'm not exactly sure what drove me to purchase this because I can tell immediately it's a shade that I would have trouble wearing. I guess I wanted to take a risk, hoping for the best case scenario, especially as it isn't a safe neutral or a colour I'd normally be drawn to. While the name Champagne suggests a kind of shimmery light beige, this is definitely more a warm peach with golden shimmer. Built up, it starts acquiring slightly more of a bronze tone, but remains distinctly orange. It reminds me quite a bit of Urban Decay Chopper from the Naked2 palette, except Chopper is darker, more bronze and vibrant. (I just swatched the two alongside each other, and honestly, the quality of the Urban Decay eyeshadows is just incomparable.) On my lid, this isn't totally a disaster, but it's nothing remarkable. I don't love the orangeness, but it's light enough that it's not too unwearable. If anything, it doesn't really show up that well. It could be nice as a light wash of slight colour for summer, but I don't see myself reaching for it much, if at all.

Topaz (C-94) Topaz seems so promising, but simply doesn't flatter me. I've returned periodically to it to see if I can somehow make it work, but remain underwhelmed. The colour is a little difficult to describe. It's like a muddy, khaki brown. It does nothing for my eyes and dulls up my whole complexion. While this has been invariably described as a taupe (and lightly swatched on my hand, appears as such), it definitely has more of a dirty olive tone (than brown or grey) when applied.

Bacchus (C-233) I think this is a super pretty colour, but it has limited use, being so dark. It's a deep purple with plum shimmer, similar to L'Oréal Infallible eyeshadow in Burning Black (but Burning Black is more blue toned and slightly blacker). I see no other purpose for this shade except for a purple smokey eye (or deepening lighter purple eyeshadows). But considering I have Burning Black and the Sleek Bad Girl i-Divine Eyeshadow palette, I definitely didn't need Bacchus as well.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bottled Tiffany

A few years ago, I went through a period when I was obsessed with finding the perfect seafoam nail polish.  I remember coming across this image of Alexa Chung wearing the nail colour of my dreams paired with her turquoise YSL Arty ring and feeling like my life's mission was to track down that exact colour. People discussed what polish she was wearing, and amongst them, China Glaze For Audrey (though too dark and not green enough) was mentioned. During my obsessive phase, I bought so many variations of blue and green nail polish, constantly searching for that elusive pale blue with a mint/aqua tinge. But it continued to elude me. So I gave up, as by then, I already had a new nail craze, namely, orange/tangerine polish. However, For Audrey always stuck in a mind as an iconic nail polish that I needed in my collection.

There's not much to say about this polish except that it is a true Tiffany blue. My parents bought me a Tiffany & Co necklace for my 21st birthday and I compared the box to the nail polish on my fingers. 100% match. If you love the robin egg blue of the Tiffany packaging, you need For Audrey. For such a pigmented colour, it was surprising that I still needed 3 coats to get a streak-free finish, but the shade itself is so special that I forgive relatively minor formulation and application issues.

Monday, August 20, 2012

High Maintenance

I had high hopes for Make Up For Ever HD foundation given glowing testimonials I've read and the fact it’s my first real foray into more expensive/high end foundation. I also very much wanted to like it considering I spent $42 on it (still a discount from the usual $59), which is about twice as much as I'd normally be willing to shell out for a foundation, an element of makeup that I'm not even all that interested in (the only thing I care about less is filling my eyebrows, lip liner and lip gloss).

Thin layer of HD applied with Real Techniques Stippling Brush

I tried very, very hard to make it work. I pretty much tried every way I could think of applying it, including:

The only method I haven’t tried is with a sponge or Beautyblender, because I can’t be bothered with sponges and I’m not completely sold on the Beautyblender given the cost and how fiddly it seems.

The first few days trying this foundation were real disappointments. It looked unnatural, cakey, clung onto dry patches of skin that I didn’t even know I had, and basically I wanted to give up on it. I also hated the fact it dried matte and not glowy or semi-matte. It’s often been compared to Revlon PhotoReady (a foundation that I loved, until it randomly started caking on me), but I find PhotoReady much, much glowier and brightening. HD could be classified as semi-matte, but is definitely more on the matte side for me, especially when first applied. But it's one of those rare breeds that actually looks better as the day goes on and it settles into your skin.

I found the trick to making this foundation work is MOISTURISE LIKE CRAZY. I don’t even think my skin is dry, but maybe it’s because it’s winter, or I haven’t been drinking enough water, or the air conditioning in the office is drying my skin out, but the foundation sat on my skin horribly. It was only after I more or less slathered my whole face in Nivea Soft the night before, concentrating on the dry areas at the tops of my cheeks and around my mouth, then washed my face with only water the next morning and moisturised with my Dove Essential Nutrients Protective Day Cream with equal zeal, that I found results. I used about 3/4ths to 1 pump of the foundation on the back of my hand, dipping my Real Techniques stippling brush lightly into the product and working it into my skin as gently as I could in circular motions.

I never use the stippling brush for my foundation, but it was literally the last resort after trying everything else. And it worked the best, though coverage was on the sheer side. Minimal clinging to dry patches, natural finish, lasted the whole day without oiliness or caking around my nose (an issue I've experienced with almost every foundation I've used), looked good under every lighting condition. However, the next two days I tried the same method, and found my skin increasingly start to flake off weirdly as I was applying the foundation. Almost like the brush was exfoliating my skin, forming little shavings that stuck to my face and were impossible to wipe off completely without making it worse. So, back to square one.

At best, this foundation is natural looking, long lasting, doesn’t cake, a good colour match for me, and gets slightly glowier as the day goes on. At worst, it’s the worst foundation I’ve used.

It takes a lot of effort to make work. It's temperamental. I haven't found any rhyme or reason to why it works one day, and fails spectacularly the next. I don’t recommend it for those with dry skin. But when it works, it really impresses, and while I haven’t worn it to an occasion where I've been photographed, I’ve heard that one of its primary selling points is that it photographs beautifully.

I’m feeling like I have the foundation bug now, because I’m really curious to try some other very popular foundations that are on the pricier side, like Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua and NARS Sheer Glow. Even with mixed results, Make Up For Ever HD has had the unexpected side effect of elevating foundation a few notches up the ladder of my makeup interests.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Tint For Eyes

These Becca Eye Tints are a good example of why I don't really get high end makeup. I'd never buy them at their retail price of $42 each, but since Gilt and Vicuna are Madison magazine freebies this month, I grabbed both. I thought they were a bargain considering the magazine is about a fifth of the cost of one Eye Tint.

Vicuna is described as an "opal" shade but it just looks like a slightly peachy, very light goldish beige to me. I didn't really see any dimension or special lustre to the colour. It wasn't particularly complex, gorgeously shimmery or unique. On the eyes, it didn't do much but create a barely noticeable sheen. I'd recommend this shade only for those with quite fair skin, as I'm not exactly tan or dark skinned, but the colour hardly showed up on me. I can only imagine using Vicuna as an eye primer, or possibly as a highlighter for the face.

Gilt is slightly more promising in that it's a darker shade, a warm, chocolatey bronze with gold shimmer. It's able to give more definition to the eye without looking too heavy because of the sheerness of the colour. This is something you could still wear during the day, despite it looking quite dark in the tube and having the potential to be built up in intensity.

l-r: Vicuna, Gilt

Indirect sunlight

Direct sunlight

Gilt over lid

I'm not enamoured of these Eye Tints for a couple of reasons. First, I noticed when I first squeezed out a bit of Vicuna that there was some clear liquid (oil?) coming out, before any pigment. The product had separated. You have to shake the tube somewhat vigorously to try to prevent this from happening, or squeeze out a bit more of the product to get to the pigment. Second, the colours of the Eye Tints are on the sheer side and they have a slightly runny and thin consistency. They're not creamy and super pigmented, which are two qualities that I'd normally want in my cream eyeshadows. These are far more liquid and easily spread, but in turn, you lose the pigmentation factor. I found it difficult to build up the colour, as the product is both sheer and takes a while to set, so you end up smearing or trying to pat on more product on top of existing product that hasn't fully set or dried.

I feel that I have several other cream eyeshadows from brands like Maybelline, Essence or even Revlon that perform better and that I prefer, so I'm not impressed by these and I can't see how they're superior to justify the much heftier price tag. On the plus side, the packaging is attractive and quite unique, it seems to have decent staying power once it's set, you only need a very small amount, the colours are all very wearable neutrals, and they're relatively quick and easy to apply with fingers. For the price I paid, I'm satisfied that I bought these, if only to have two Becca products in my possession for a fraction of their normal price, but whether I'll actually end up using them over my existing cream shadows is another story.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Glitter and Hype

I attended the Spa & Beauty Expo as a guest of my friend and took advantage of the trade-only event as best as I could (i.e. spent way too much money). I bought 3 OPIs (Dulce De LechePirouette My WhistleNothin' Mousie 'Bout It), 3 Button London nail polishes (Tart With A Heart, No More Waity, Katie, The Black Knight), Orly RageEmbryolisse Lait-Crème Concentrè, Make Up For Ever HD Invisible Cover Foundation (#118) and NYX blush in Taupe. A few of these products are much hyped but difficult to get a hold of (the foundation and Embryolisse in particular), so though they were much more than what I'd usually spend, I willingly handed my credit card over like the chump I am.

l-r: NYX blush in Taupe, Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentrè, MUFE HD Foundation in 118

I have on my thumbnail OPI Nothin' Mousie 'Bout It (over Ulta3 Brandy Wine), index finger is Button London Tart With A Heart, middle finger is Butter London No More Waity, Katie, fourth finger has on Butter London The Black Knight, and pinky is OPI Pirouette My Whistle over OPI Dulce De Leche.

I'll do individual reviews on some of these products separately, but here are some first impressions. I still think OPI is the best nail polish brand. I couldn't decide on which Butter London shades to get and in retrospect, maybe I shouldn't have selected three glitters. It's difficult to fish out the heart-shaped glitter in Nothin' Mousie 'Bout It, but it's an adorable polish regardless. NYX Taupe thankfully isn't too ashy and clashing on my yellow-toned skin (but whether I can pull off contouring still remains to be seen). The Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentrè seems to owe its popularity more to the fact it acts like a makeup primer, rather than being a superior moisturiser. Even though I think I chose a relatively light shade in the Make Up For Ever HD foundation, for some reason it still seems quite dark and yellow. Coverage also seems to be a little higher than what I normally go for. I'm looking forward to trying it out properly and giving a more detailed review.
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