Sunday, February 24, 2013

Stop My Stash

I haven't done one of these posts on the blog yet, but the idea is immensely appealing. It's so easy to keep using the same few products or get fixated on the newest, shiniest thing, while neglecting a whole heap of makeup purchased a while ago that's just sitting there taking up space. There's nothing particularly wrong with these unloved items — they've just been consistently overlooked for options I favour more. Unearthing them has reminded me I really should inject some variety in my product selection.

Revlon ColorStay 12 Hour Eye Shadow in Coffee Bean (02)
Seriously good palette. It contains some of the best "drugstore" mattes I've encountered. Sophisticated, really wearable and versatile shades. You could use the same four colours for a whole range of looks to take you from day to night, from subtle contouring to the dramatic and smoky. I used the second colour on my lid here with the Essence Hidden in Sakura Garden false eyelashes.

Models Prefer Eyeshadow in Famous
I rarely stray from neutrals, but the blue in this quad used to be on relatively high rotation when I first started to wear eyeshadow regularly. I also like the third colour, a complex and gorgeous pinkish/purplish brown. I don't touch the first two shades, but this palette overall has amazing pigmentation. The shadows have a unique spongy texture that can be a little crumbly, but give off vibrant colour payoff with a metallic finish.

L'Oréal Infallible eyeshadow in Bronzed Goddess (024) and Metallic Lilac (037)
I have eight of these Infallible eyeshadows but barely use them most of the time. Sahara Treasure was a colour I desperately searched for, but once I tracked it down and tried it on, I found that it really didn't flatter me, even though I loved the colour on its own. I do use Bronzed Taupe and Endless Chocolat more often than the rest, but don't see myself reaching for Hourglass Beige or Flashback Silver pretty much ever. Burning Black is too dark for anything but smoky, nighttime looks. That leaves Bronzed Goddess and Metallic Lilac.

Bronzed Goddess is passable as an all-over lid colour, but it leans very greenish gold on me, to the extent that I can't really detect any brown/bronze as its name would suggest. Metallic Lilac is a little too cool and silvery for my yellow skin tone, but fares better applied just to the lower lash line. I have such a love/hate relationship with the L'Oréal Infallible eyeshadows. They're undoubtedly excellent quality in terms of texture, pigmentation, vibrancy and staying power, but I frequently struggle to make them work for me.

l-r: Third and fourth colour from Models Prefer Famous, L'Oréal Bronze Goddress, L'Oréal Metallic Lilac

l-r: e.l.f. Pink Passion, Essence Prima Ballerina Blush Soufflé 

e.l.f. Blush in Pink Passion
This is so shockingly bright that I find myself deterred from using it. I've always preferred my blushes to not be super pigmented (in contrast to my eyeshadows) because of the extra difficulty in applying a strong colour lightly, and the fear of overdoing it. Pink Passion is surprisingly wearable (dare I say, even natural?) once that mental hurdle is overcome. Works best with the Real Techniques Blush Brush, as the tapered end and fluffiness allow for greater precision and blending.

Essence Blush Soufflé in Prima Ballerina
I forget how nice this is. It's very light and has a whipped texture which is airy and silky. It almost instantly dries on the skin once applied to a powder finish. It gives an angelic, soft pink flush to the cheeks, and while pale in colour, can be built up in intensity. My only gripe is that its staying power leaves much to be desired, but the small pot is convenient to keep in the handbag for touchups once it's faded.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

10 Products I Would Repurchase

I've seen the title of this post in the form of a tag, with the premise being that you've lost your entire makeup collection and need to choose 10 products to first buy as you rebuild from scratch. That thought exercise didn't seem as engaging to me as showing products I'd actually repurchased, or am convinced I would repurchase once finished. Of the products selected, I have physically repurchased 7 of the 10, some of them numerous times and often with more than one backup stowed away. I've omitted a few items I've previously harped on about, mainly Maybelline Baby Lips in Relieving Menthol, Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk, Avene Thermal Spring Water and Sally Hansen Radiant Hands, Nails & Cuticles Creme.

Real Techniques Buffing Brush
I adore Real Techniques brushes and can't imagine applying my makeup without them. The Buffing Brush is my absolute favourite. I use it almost every day for my base. It's just a phenomenally good brush. It doesn't soak up product, it blends foundation in effortlessly and efficiently, it's super soft and just the right density. It's held up remarkably well after nonstop use and regular washes for over a year. After it's freshly washed, it could almost pass as brand new. I don't recall it ever shedding a single hair. The thought of buying another Core Collection set as a backup (despite having both the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush and Sigma F82 to potentially replace my Buffing Brush) has crossed my mind many times, but I've managed to resist for now.

Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze
Forgive me for rambling about this cream eyeshadow ad nauseam. Already repurchased even though I don't see myself finishing my existing pot for at least a year. It's now an established part of my default makeup when I can't be bothered to think about what to slap on my face (which is most days). I'm thrilled something that performs so well and is such a flattering, neutral shade is so readily available and affordable.

Korres Lip Butter
Now that Cosmo Cosmetics stocks the 3 pack of these for under $20, these Lip Butters (normally $18.95 each) are no longer out of my price range. They're plush, moisturising and non-sticky on the lips, and shades like Mango and Pomegranate provide a fresh, summery tint. My collection reviewed in detail here.

Bourjois Liner Feutre in Noir
It's time for me to repurchase this again as my current one has run out. I've tried a few felt tip and liquid eyeliners (including Revlon ColorStay Liquid Eye Pen, Sportsgirl To the Point Liquid Eye Liner and Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner), but Bourjois Liner Feutre is still the best. Easy and quick to use, it's fast drying and stays put the whole day with only minor fading. And while it's long lasting, I like that it's also relatively easy to remove with my normal cleanser.

NARS Sheer Glow in Fiji
Out of all my foundations, this is the one I would purchase if my makeup collection disappeared. I previously used this as my everyday foundation, but now want to reserve it for special occasions, or when I want my skin to look extra nice. I love the illuminating, perfected finish it gives, while still looking relatively natural. It's easy to apply with both a brush or fingers, and unlike Make Up For Ever HD foundation, I've never experienced it clinging to dry spots or being difficult to work with.

Josie Maran Argan Oil
I wish I'd picked up a larger bottle when I had the chance, as I'm not sure how easy it'll be to replenish my supply once I use up my 15ml travel size bottle (there's less than 40% left). I actually think I prefer this to my Antipodes Divine Face Oil, which is still good but not as effective or pure. With 2-3 drops in my regular night cream, my skin is more hydrated, plump and smooth in the mornings. I also feel that continued use has helped with oil control and minimising breakouts.

Bioderma Créaline H₂O
Best makeup remover, hands down. It's basically like water but super effective at taking everything off without disturbing or irritating the skin. I use this as sparingly as I can (mostly for eye makeup removal) because it's precious stuff. Like most things, it's incredibly overpriced in Australia and not that easy to come across. Thankfully I have a backup bottle courtesy of my dad and his Parisian travels last year.

Dove Essential Nutrients Day Cream SPF15
Repurchased countless times. It's the cream that I keep returning to because it just works for me. It's hydrating without being greasy or heavy, feels comfortable on the skin and is readily absorbed, doesn't have any kind of offensive or overpowering scent, and works well as a makeup base. It's a touch rich for a daily moisturiser, so it might be a little too much for those with really oily skin, particularly in summer.

Dove Cleanser & Toner in One
Like the Dove Essential Nutrients Day Cream, this has been repurchased too many times to count. I've been using this for years. I honestly didn't know how good it was until I tried out a few other cleansers and discovered how woefully inadequate or downright terrible they were in comparison. This foams well, is gentle and non-drying, and removes makeup effectively. Best of all, it's the only cleanser that I can rub along my lower lash line to get rid of eyeliner without stinging my eyes — and it takes it all off.

Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Anti-Chip Top Coat
Forget Seche Vite. Tried it, didn't like it. It smelt disgusting, shrunk around the edges and gave off a yellow tinge which totally discoloured my nail polish. I don't know whether that was a dud bottle, but my one experience with it was so underwhelming I never bothered to give it another go. Insta-Dri, on the other hand, is a godsend for someone like me, who regularly paints their nails but is too impatient to wait for each coat to dry, and who probably does 2-3 coats more than required each time. What I've found is that is effectively creates a kind of hard, sealed top layer for my nail polish, so that even if the bottom layers aren't completely dry because I've heaped too much polish on, they're protected from dents and smearing by the Insta-Dri coat. It also just speeds up the whole drying process, and leaves a smooth, glossy finish which makes any polish look better. When Chemist Warehouse had their 50% off Sally Hansen, I purchased 3 backups. Yes. Three.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Cool As Taupe

I've been eyeing Max Factor Earth Spirits eyeshadow in Burnt Bark (107) for possibly over a year, but it took Priceline's current Max Factor sale to finally convince me to add it to my collection. The main fascination with Burnt Bark was this post favourably comparing it to a number of taupe eyeshadows, including MAC Satin Taupe. I have no idea whether my refusal to spend $15 on Satin Taupe while in the US last year was a remarkable act of uncharacteristic restraint and sanity, or whether I was ultimately stupid to have resisted it, finding myself still interested in barely cheaper dupes when I could've bought the real thing and have been done with it. This happens a lot (see NARS Orgasm, Urban Decay Naked2).

Burnt Bark is a cool, mushroomy brown with a a touch of purple and grey which gives it a slightly murky quality. It needs about 2-3 layers to be built up to very good pigmentation. It has a soft satin finish with only a hint of frostiness. It's probably a little bit too dark as an all-over lid colour for everyday wear, but can be applied more sheer and blended out around the edges. I had a look at similar shades I had and found three that were all fairly close, but not identical.

l-r: Max Factor Burnt BarkL'Oréal Bronzed Taupe, NYX Iced Mocha, Savvy by DB Iced Coffee

In direct sunlight

L'Oréal Infallible eyeshadow in Bronzed Taupe (890) is vibrantly metallic, buttery and smooth. Amazing quality eyeshadow — it's a total mystery why this shade isn't available in Australia as I'm sure it'd be popular. Lighter than Burnt Bark and not as grey or purple. More a traditional bronze, but distinctly cool-toned and with a tinge of grey.

NYX Iced Mocha is the lightest of the three, though still taupey and greyish. Revisiting it today after months of neglect, I found it incredibly powdery and relatively weak in pigmentation unless built up in intensity, which was surprising. It's closest to Bronzed Taupe but a bit warmer and a fraction more yellow, not as dark or shimmery.

Savvy by DB in Iced Coffee is more of a chocolate brown with slightly more red than the rest. Like most baked eyeshadows, it's not the best in terms of pigmentation or lasting power. Compared to the other three, it looks flat, fades easily and has a thin, soft texture.

Burnt Bark is my pick over NYX Iced Mocha and Savvy by DB Iced Coffee, though I feel that L'Oréal Bronzed Taupe stands in a league of its own. However, Bronzed Taupe is insanely shimmery and doesn't have as much complexity in its colour as Burnt Bark, with its mix of brown, purple and grey.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Mermaid Glimmer

Tom Ford Eye Colour Quad in Emerald Lust is a departure from my usual neutrals, but with emerald as Pantone’s 2013 Colour of the Year, now is as good a time as ever to experiment. When it comes to green, I normally opt for goldish khaki shades or deeper, metallic olive greens with a touch of bronze, but rarely venture out of my comfort zone to wear unadulterated, bright colour.

Emerald Lust is one of two new eyeshadow quads from the Tom Ford Fall 2012 collection, the other being the neutral Enchanted. These new quads have been reformulated for wet and dry application, and contain 6g of product compared to 10g in the original release.

Can we take a minute to just admire the packaging? Architectural, slightly masculine and very serious. There’s no cheap frivolity or tacky excess here. In short, it feels and looks expensive.

The quad contains a silvery white with a touch of champagne, a light emerald green with silver sparkles, a blueish teal, and a deep navy with sapphire shimmer. The shadows are imbued with a kind of diamond dust that makes them multifaceted and richly saturated, though I did take 2-3 swipes of each for the opacity pictured. Applied wet, I’m sure they’d be even more intense.

Rather than using all the shades at once, I’d be inclined to concentrate either of the two middle shades on the lid, then blend the edges or crease with a softer neutral for a more wearable look. Lisa Eldridge also showed the colours worn over a darkened navy or black base for a colourful smoky eye. There’s always the option to just use the shadows as green or blue eyeliner for a more understated pop of colour.

Yes, it costs a a small fortune ($100 from David Jones, or £62 less VAT from Harrods), and I’m sure there are plenty of inexpensive near dupes (Wet n Wild Blue Had Me at Hello comes to mind), but there’s no substitute for the undeniable luxe factor of Emerald Lust. That’s the funny thing about pricing — the more prohibitive, the more seemingly attractive and desirable a product becomes. I haven’t ventured very far into the world of prestige cosmetics, but until my next splurge, I can always fantasise about the Cheek Brush, Golden Mink Eye Colour Quad or a Tom Ford lipstick.

(Product was provided to me for review.)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Top 10 Nail Polishes

I was looking through my hot mess of a nail polish drawer this morning, and had an idea to do a post on my favourite ten polishes. Unsurprisingly, there's a lot of glitter featured. Glitter just holds my attention. There's more detail, more interest, more festivity in a glitter polish. But a good creme can't be overlooked (mainly pastel in persuasion, and from the green, blue or purple family), as well as intensely vibrant golds and reds.

l-r: Essie Absolutely Shore, Revlon Whimsical, Revlon Popular, Essie A Cut Above

l-r: China Glaze Snow Globe, Sportsgirl Storm, OPI Teenage Dream, OPI GoldenEye,
OPI The One That Got Away, Revlon Scandalous

l-r: Essie Absolutely Shore, Sportsgirl Storm

Essie Absolutely Shore 
The perfect pale seafoam green, which is one of my favourite colours. What I love about this polish is that the colour on your nails is exactly how it appears in the bottle.  That's always been a pet peeve of mine when it comes to pastel polishes, as I find they often apply darker and flatter on the nails. Even though I need 3 coats for completely streak-free application, the formula itself is very smooth and easy to work with.

Sportsgirl Storm
I'd go so far as to say this is my favourite polish, ever. It was discontinued ages ago and I barely can use it now because I've already gone through 50% of the bottle and it's seriously gloopy, but something about the colour is just so perfect to me. There are probably similar shades out there (Essie Cocktail Bling, maybe), but nothing will match the exact lightness/darkness and mix of grey and purple of Storm. It's simply foolproof.

l-r: OPI GoldenEyeOPI The One That Got AwayEssie Absolutely Shore, Sportsgirl Storm

OPI GoldenEye
Already raved about here, but there's been no loss of enthusiasm. All other gold polishes can just go home, because GoldenEye can't be trumped.

OPI The One That Got Away
I really fell in love with this polish the last time I decided to wear it. There's a beautiful brilliance and depth to this slightly vampy raspberry with a glass fleck finish. Has to be seen in real life to be fully appreciated.

l-r: China Glaze Snow Globe over Sportsgirl StormRevlon Whimsical over Essie Absolutely Shore

China Glaze Snow Globe 
So, so pretty. My glitter dreams in a bottle. The iridescence of the different glitter particles is incredible (see more here and here). It's basically crushed opals on the nail, and I absolutely love the colours that it reflects.

Revlon Whimsical
I was ecstatic when I finally tracked this down in the US. It still hasn't made its way to Australia, and I'm not exactly holding my breath. I'm now berating myself for not buying a backup bottle when I had the chance. The composition is simple enough, with a sheer greenish blue base and pink and blue hexagonal glitter with smaller bits and blobs. But it's just so childlike and delicate. When this runs out, I may have to fork out for the Deborah Lippmann option because I can't be without it.

Essie A Cut Above over OPI Teenage Dream

OPI Teenage Dream
One day I will probably grow out of liking pink and sparkly things. In the meantime, I'll continue to exalt Teenage Dream. The circular holographic glitter in this is everything.

Essie A Cut Above
See above. I love the generosity of glitter and how relatively easy it is to spread uniformly around the nail. I usually wear A Cut Above on its own, though it's perfect for layering and gradient effects.

l-r (pinky and ring finger): Revlon Scandalous, Revlon Popular

Revlon Scandalous
To be honest, I haven't worn this polish in a while, but I remember the first time I painted this on my nails and how it exceeded all my expectations. The base colour is opaque in 2 coats and the glitter is plentiful. The blackish purple and magenta glitter combination is darkly alluring for autumn and winter.

Revlon Popular
An ethereal and super girly polish. Very pale pink base with packed silver microglitter and silver hexagonal glitter that appears almost white when layered. Another polish ideal for layering, though the base isn't as sheer as Revlon Whimsical. Because of the lack of contrast between the pink and the silver glitter, and the overall lightness of Popular, there's an understated quality to it that's in direct contrast to the exuberant bling of OPI Teenage Dream and Essie A Cut Above.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

I Love Perfume Tag

I've seen this tag floating around (most recently on noiredame and Boho Vanity) and have always wanted to do it myself. Long before I became interested in clothes or makeup, I was fascinated by and drawn to fragrances. Perfume was my first love, so to speak. As a child, there was just something inherently alluring and grown up about perfume. I love how it powerfully evokes memories and moods, how the same scent can smell different depending on the individual, how there's a fragrance to suit every emotion and occasion. Perfume can instantly uplift the senses, bring you comfort, make you feel sensual and enigmatic, and invite both nostalgia and escape. (In addition to simply smelling nice.)

1. What was your first perfume you ever purchased?
That would be Ralph Lauren Ralph. I remember when it first burst onto the scene with Lonneke Engel appearing in the ads and on the covers of all the teen magazines. I was obsessed.

2. What's your signature perfume?
I don't really have one because I frequently change up my perfume depending on what I feel like. I do wear the following quite a bit as my everyday fragrance: Elizabeth Arden PrettyLiz Claiborne Liz, Chloé Chloé, Estée Lauder Pleasures, Ralph Lauren Romance

3. What's your most recent perfume purchase?
Versace Bright Crystal, and before that, Lady Gaga Fame. Bright Crystal smells kind of samey to me (reminds me of Burberry Brit Sheer and DKNY Be Delicious Fresh Blossom, which are pink as well). I'm much more enthused about Fame.

4. What perfume would you wear at nighttime/date night?
Mariah Carey M (potent, sweet and spicy), Lolita Lempicka Lolita Lempicka (a little out there with the liquorice note, but feminine and whimsical), Chloé Chloé

5. What's your favorite spring/summer perfume?
Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue (wish the fresh citrus top notes lasted longer), DKNY Be Delicious Fresh Blossom (combining two of my favourite scents, grapefruit and cassis)

6. What's your favorite fall/winter perfume?
Narciso Rodriguez For Her EDP. A really special perfume to me.

7. What's your favorite scent category (fruity, floral, fresh, oriental, woody)?
Probably floral, or more accurately fruity florals

8. What perfume are you currently lusting after?
I have a few, including Kai perfume oil, Chanel Coco Mademoiselle, Christian Dior J'adore (a long-time fav), Estée Lauder SensuousChloé Love, Chloé, Marc Jacobs Daisy Eau So Fresh

9. What fragrance/cologne do you like on your significant other?
I don't know that many men's fragrances, but I like Chanel Allure.
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