Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Girl in Blossom

It was a triumphant moment when I walked into a Priceline and saw both the blush and paper lashes I wanted from the Essence Cherry Blossom Girl Trend Edition in stock. I wasn't too keen on the eyeshadow palette in Dreaming Under a Cherry Tree as the only shade I saw myself wearing was the brown, and I felt I already had most of the lip crayon and nail polish colours. Granted, it's not like I have a shortage of peach/coral blushes like the one I picked up, but I couldn't help myself. And the paper lashes were a must.

l-r: light side, dark side, blended

I'm really pleased with the Asian Sensation blush. It's nicely pigmented, the texture is soft, smooth and not powdery or chalky at all. I'd probably be able to appreciate it more if I didn't already have so many similar shades (like NARS Deep ThroatBourjois Rose Coup de Foudre, Benefit Coralista). The darker side is a bit too orange, the light side is very similar to Benefit Sugarbomb, but blended together, the balance is just right. The pretty embossed floral design is eye-catching and more attention to detail than I'd expect from something that only cost $5.95.

The false eyelashes in Hidden in Sakura Garden make the paper lash trend accessible and affordable. I've known of Paperself lashes for a while (as seen on Courtney and Jennifer), but I wasn't prepared to shell out $20 for something inherently frivolous and impractical. But $4.50? You bet. I don't know when I'd ever wear these, except maybe a special dinner or event. I was mainly curious to just try them out and see how they'd look, especially after being swayed by how well Kate wore them. Application was a little tricky, but it didn't turn out too wonky. They were slightly uncomfortable at first, but more just stiff rather than scratchy. I didn't have any issues with taking them off, and with care, they could probably last multiple uses.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sugar Sample

I really didn't expect to like Benefit Sugarbomb as much as I do. I’d always dismissed it as too light, more of a highlighting shade than a serious blush. After buying way too much at Benefit in Bloomingdale's on my New York holiday, the sales assistant threw this sample in as a freebie. I managed to not open it until now, and it was love at first swipe.

l-r: Essence Asian Sensation (light peach side), Benefit Coralista, NARS Deep Throat, Benefit Sugarbomb

Sugarbomb is a soft tan and sherbet orange mix, with a pale gold pearlescent finish. The combination sounds a little strange, but it makes sense when I think about it. Pink can always lean too red, orange can look a bit too bright, unnatural or red again, and a more nude/tan colour just isn't too exciting or fresh. But a soft orange tinged with brown and a touch of pink mimics the skin and blends seamlessly. I find the shimmer isn't as crazy as Coralista. However, while it imparts a luminous glow, it will also highlight imperfections or pores.

What I love about Sugarbomb is that the shade, application and pigmentation make it just so easy. The colour is soft and subtle (except for the obvious shimmer), which I prefer for everyday wear as I’m always cautious not to overdo my blush. It’s not super noticeable you're wearing anything, but it does give your face that extra warmth and colour in a natural, easygoing way. You can brush it on quite haphazardly and not have to worry about putting on too much, or perfect placement, or needing to tone it down after. It just works the first time. For a relatively light shade, I find the wear time to be pretty impressive, which isn't something I’ve felt with Benefit boxed powders in general.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

You Furry Thing

This Too Faced Powder Pouf brush has been on my wishlist forever, but the hefty price tag always put me off. It currently retails for $47.95 at Kit, which I think is actually a reduced price as I remember it being more expensive in the middle of last year. The thought that I could buy two Real Techniques brush sets over this single brush made me question whether it was really value for money. Even if it is overpriced for what it is, something about the girly and adorable design and luxuriously soft bristles proved irresistible. After months of contemplation and hesitation, I finally caved.

I don't know whether it's possible to feel affection for a makeup brush, but I do for the Powder Pouf. I almost don't want to use it for fear of tainting its pristine state. The pastel pink, the tiny removable black bow, the smooth, rounded handle, the fluffy, touchably soft "Teddy Bear Hair" bristles. It's just too precious. It might not live up to the brilliantly functional Real Techniques Buffing Brush, which I use almost every day and is still the best brush ever, but it's a delight to simply have in my collection and look at. The bristles are longer and not as dense as the Buffing Brush, making it better suited for loose or compact powders rather than blending any creams or liquids. The dark tips helpfully let you to see just how much product you have on your brush. I bought mine for just under $35 from Beauty Bay.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Out of This World

New from Australis: a chunky, multicoloured glitter polish called Milky Way. I grabbed this shade when I saw it on display at Priceline as it looked like a potential dupe of China Glaze It's a Trap-eze!, a nail polish I've coveted since I first laid eyes on it. After trying out Milky Way, It's a Trap-eze! still seems like a superior polish, but for now, I'll have to make do with this not fully satisfactory substitute.

Milky Way is a white base polish with a tonne of glitter: there's blue, yellow and green microglitter and hexagonal glitter of varying sizes in all the colours of the rainbow (I could see orange, pink, purple, green, yellow, red, blue, as well as white and silver). The white base looks slightly blue but I'm not sure whether it's more just the fine blue glitter that's distorting the colour. I needed 2-3 coats to get an opaque base, which creates a sandwich effect as glitter from previous coats gets buried underneath the top layer. It's not that the glitter isn't generous, it's that you can't see it all with multiple coats because the white isn't sheer enough. The formula was on the thick side and would probably take an age to dry, but I used liberal amounts of Sally Hansen Insta-Dri to significantly speed up the process. I only wish that the base was either more of a jelly (so multiple layers of glitter show through), or a pastel blue rather than a stark white, which looks slightly odd. But the generosity and variety of the glitter in Milky Way is a step above similar polishes.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Set to Shine

I'd never expected to win another giveaway so soon after Sue's, but I was lucky enough to win first prize in Amanda of Thai Tales's Christmas/150 followers giveaway as well! I was super excited to receive the Benefit High Flyin' Glosses set, which houses 6 x 6.5ml Ultra Plush lip glosses. The travel set is an ideal way to own every one of these new glosses from Benefit without spending a fortune in buying them all at full size. Each gloss is meant to be partnered with the boxed powder of the same name. I can't imagine myself getting through a whole 15ml tube, so I love that I can sample all the shades in these cute mini versions.

l-r: Coralista, Dallas, Bella Bamba, Sugarbomb, Hoola, Dandelion

Coralista was the only lip gloss that I'd already been exposed to, as a mini tube was featured in the Go TropiCORAL Lip & Cheek Kit. You can't go wrong with this summery coral shade. It's just the right mix between orange and red and I like that it's sheer and not heavy on the lips.

Dallas is the most pigmented of the lot. It's a browny rose that could almost pass as an extremely moisturising, slightly liquid lipstick. While more of a mature and conservative shade, it's also flattering and understated.

Bella Bamba is similar to Coralista in that both are very glossy and sheer with no shimmer, but rather than coral, it's a watermelon pink. Another shade that's tailor-made for summer.

Sugarbomb is a light pinkish brown with a lot of silver/diamond shimmer. In indirect light, it gives more of a frosted finish which I'm not the hugest fan of, but in sunlight, it has the prettiest sparkle and dimension.

Hoola is a golden nude with gold shimmer. It's the lightest shade of the six, but because of its sheerness, it doesn't wash me out like a nude lipstick might. It's close to being clear and really only gives a slight tint, but the gold shimmer adds something special.

Dandelion is a light nude pink with silver shimmer. Very sheer like Hoola with similar amounts of shimmer (Sugarbomb is the most shimmery), the pearly pink gives a very girly look.

l-r (first, second, third row): Coralista, Dallas, Bella Bamba, Sugarbomb, Hoola, Dandelion

While I'm not a big lip gloss girl, I feel like these six tubes have all my lip gloss needs covered. I love the variety of the set and how there's a good mix between levels of pigmentation, shimmer and colours, though overall the glosses lean more on the sheer and neutral (pink/nude) side. Each gloss is easy to wear, comfortable on the lips, moisturising and not sticky. There is a strong artificial sweet smell to these that I find quite cloying, but it's not a major complaint. Thank you Amanda for this lovely giveaway. I love reading her blog for reviews of Australian products and awesome nail art tutorials!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Pure Glitter

I didn’t really go crazy in the post-Christmas sales, but I did have a good look around the beauty section of department stores, Mecca Cosmetica and Kit. I spotted NARS Enchanted cream blush on sale at Mecca for $23 (from $45). It’s probably not a NARS blush I’d set out to buy at full price (Laguna and Luster are next on my wishlist), but discounted NARS isn’t something I see very often (at least in physical Australian stores), and there was only one left, so I was reluctant to pass it up.

Swatches of Enchanted are misleading — it looks like a decently pigmented soft peach with gold shimmer. On the skin, unless you're extremely pale, there's next to zero colour payoff. It fails spectacularly as a blush. Not only does it require 3-4 layers for just a subtle peachiness to come through, but the amount of glitter for such minimal pigmentation is overwhelming. Not shimmer, but glitter. You can see the gold/diamond particles, but what's extraordinary about Enchanted is there are larger chunks of glitter that remind me of miniature glass shards. They’re predominately gold but flash clear or almost white in the light. You can kind of brush them off after the product has set, as the pieces sit on top of the cream and don't adhere to the skin very well.

Enchanted is more an extremely festive cream highlighter better suited for parties and special occasions. The glitter factor is way too much for everyday wear, but you might be able to away with it if lightly and sparingly applied. Just be prepared to see a lot of glitter on your face every time you look in the mirror, particularly under artificial light. Otherwise, I imagine you could use this as a cream version of a shimmer powder on the body, mainly to add sparkle to the d├ęcolletage, shoulders and neck, kind of like The Body Shop The Sparkler. This might also work as a cream eyeshadow, either as a sparkly base or lightly dabbed on top of powder shadows to add a finishing dusting of glitter.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Essence of Disney

Whenever Essence launch a limited edition collection, there’ll usually be one or two standout products that are understandably popular and sell out really quickly. On my latest trip to Target, hoping to snap up the Asian Sensation blush and paper lashes from the new Cherry Blossom Girl range, instead I spotted an almost full stand of nail polishes from the Snow White Trend Edition. I remember seeing swatches of some of them on Kate’s blog and being impressed with the glitters in particular, so I knew I had to take some home with me.

l-r: Evil Queen, The Huntsman, Bashful, Sleepy

I’m not the hugest fan of medium green polishes, but something about Bashful called out to me. It reminds me a lot of OPI Live and Let Die with the fine gold shimmer, but the green base is much warmer and lighter.

I have a bazillion nail polishes like Sleepy, but ultimately I was sold on the unique blueish-purple sheen running through the airy, slightly dusty baby blue. On my nails, the shimmer is undetectable and the blue is darker and flatter than in the bottle, a perennial issue I have with these kinds of shades (see Revlon Blue Lagoon). I really like this paired with The Huntsman for a classic gold-flecked turquoise.

l-r: Bashful, Sleepy

Evil Queen technically isn't anything all that special, but come on. Just look at all that glitter packed like fish scales in the bottle. It’s purple hexagonal glitter in a clear base, hard to apply evenly without making it so thick it takes about 3 hours to dry, but when it comes to nail polish, I have abundant patience.

The Huntsman is the must-have in this collection. It’s a gold glittergasm. What makes it special are random foil shards that almost look like bits of shiny candy wrappers stuck to your nail, similar to the shreds in China Glaze Luxe and Lush.

l-r: The Huntsman over Sleepy, Evil Queen over Bashful

The Special Effect Toppers are $3.95 for 10ml which I think are excellent value. The smaller bottles are 5ml and $3.25. They're so affordable that even though I didn't really need any of them, I still felt my $14.40 was well spent. I was lucky to come across a decently stocked stand, since limited edition Essence tends to sell out quickly. Even though there was no sight of the Cherry Blossom Girl collection at my local Target, at least I didn't miss out on Snow White.
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