Saturday, April 27, 2013

Priceline 40% Off Haul

Last Tuesday and Wednesday, my most frequented store Priceline was having a 40% sale off all cosmetics, both in store and on their website. Two non-beauty obsessed friends even text messaged me about it, such was the rarity and excitement of such a sale. In an effort to not get swept away by the oncoming mania, on Monday night I attempted to make a modest list of things I hoped to pick up the following day. I actually was still awake and surfing the Priceline website when the clock ticked over to Tuesday, but couldn't see any price reductions, so I gave up on the notion of shopping online. A part of me was contemplating waking up earlier that morning so I could browse my local Priceline before going to work, but when my alarm rang, continuing to sleep for an extra twenty minutes seemed infinitely preferable.

I popped into the Priceline in the area that I work during my lunch break, and it so packed I could barely move past the aisles or take a look at the stands. From what I'd written down the night before to buy, I couldn't find Australis Lambada lip gloss, but I managed to grab Australis Glitter Strikes Back nail polish. I was about to pay for it, but decided to leave empty-handed when I saw the length of the queue.

I ended up buying everything after work from the Priceline closest to where I live. Unfortunately, my local Priceline doesn't stock Face of Australia, otherwise I would have picked up a few of their newly released Glitterati nail polishes. The store also didn't have any more of Australis Glitter Strikes Back, which made me regret not buying it earlier in the day. Instead, I opted for the neon pink of Australis #Totesamaze and one of the Maybelline Color Show nail polishes in Twilight Rays (240).

Australis #Totesamaze is an incredibly bright, bordering on radioactive, highlighter/fluorescent pink. The picture shows the colour to be more muted than how it appears in real life. It's such a loud colour that I was nervous I might even be reprimanded for wearing it to work.

Maybelline Twilight Rays, which I first saw featured on Kate's blog, is the only polish (along with perhaps Wined and Dined) that really caught my eye from the Color Show collection. I was excited to paint my nails with it the very night I bought it. It's a black polish with the added interest of greenish-gold glitter flakes that really come alive in direct sunlight. I can see myself wearing this a lot in the coming cooler months.

Despite hating myself for having just bought four Maybelline ColorSensational Vivids lipsticks, I found myself purchasing two more lipsticks, including one more from the Vivids range. What can I say — it's nothing short of a horrendous compulsion. I had to get Savvy by DB Long Lasting Matte Lipstick in Bali after seeing it on Angela. Lately, I'm finding myself drawn to deeper, almost vampy berry reds slightly out of my comfort zone. It's probably not a shade I'll wear often, but I don't mind spending $4.17 just for the fun of experimenting. I'd previously agonised over whether to buy Maybelline Vivid Rose or Hot Plum, and while I ultimately picked Hot Plum, I still wasn't sure I made the right choice. At least with 40% off, I rationalised I could feel a teensy bit better about making Vivid Rose mine and removing the need to choose altogether.

I was thinking of picking up a Savvy by DB bronze eyeliner, but they'd all sold out. Then I remembered that I'd been curious to try the Australis 10 Hour Waterproof Eye Pencils I'd seen a few Australian beauty bloggers write about, including MishelleKaren and Michaela. Despite reservations that I already had about 5 bronze eyeliners at home (more on this in a post to come), I took Bombastic Bronze to the counter.

I hoped that Real Techniques would be included in the sale (for no other reason than to purchase a backup of the Core Collection), but it wasn't. Apparently only brushes by Models Prefer and Nude by Nature were 40% off. I'd always wanted to buy an angled blush brush, but the only options I'd considered were either too cumbersome (Sigma F40 — didn't want to pay for the shipping or wait a month for it to be delivered) or out of my price range (MAC 168 — I didn't even want to pay $35 for it while I was in the US, let alone $65 in Australia). Enter this angled blush brush from the Models Prefer Mystique range. It didn't look amazing quality, but the shape seemed promising, and it was just over $10. I thought I'd give it a go.

l-r: Maybelline Vivid Rose, Savvy by DB Bali, Australis Bombastic Bronze

Overall, I spent just under $40 for these six products. While not exactly dirt cheap, I'm fairly pleased with my purchases and the variety of what I bought. Afterwards, I asked myself whether it would've been better to have spent the money on one luxury item (I've been intently eyeing the Clarins Eye Quartet Mineral Palette in Odyssey from StrawberryNet). At least when I posed the question, I felt my preference was to have more to play with. At the end of the day, I didn't need any of it, and I don't need another expensive eyeshadow palette either, but that's what you get for being an addict.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Faint Sin

Sometimes after I've bought something and had it sit in my pile of makeup for a while, I can no longer remember the driving factors or feel the same haze of desire that led me to purchase it in the first place. I vaguely remember being introduced to NARS Sin in a tutorial by Tanya Burr, but can't for the life of me pinpoint which one. I'm sure what must've happened is that after watching a video of her wearing it, I suddenly became hooked on the idea of a plummy blush threaded with gold shimmer. Sin seemed unusual yet sophisticated — something different to the pink and peach blushes I usually pick.

NARS Sin on the cheeks, NARS Douceur to contour

The first thing that struck me about Sin is that to describe it as "pigmented" simply doesn't cut it. Anything more than a feathery touch to the pan is too much. It's one of those blushes that's naturally heavy. I always go over the blush I've applied with a kabuki or buffing brush (usually the one I've used for my foundation) to soften the colour and blend out the edges. I find that the more the blush is blended out, the more it transforms into a warm berry shade that gives an earthy rosiness to the face. However, if applied straight to the cheeks and a little too heavily, it looks very obvious and harsh, even bordering on muddy. It can take on a hideous ashy/dirty appearance if too much is put on.

While you can detect a soft gold shimmer to Sin, I don't find it to be very noticeable once worn. The shade is distinctly autumnal to me, though it's probably more versatile than I give it credit for. Sin was really more my experiment in more purple-leaning blush, but the only way I can wear it is if it's sheered out considerably, at which point it loses its mauve edge and becomes more of a reddish colour. Despite those issues, I love the quality of NARS blushes, the way they apply to the skin and the wear time, so I still consider Sin a worthy addition to my blush drawer.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Dusting of Rose

I've had Illamasqua Naked Rose since September last year, but still find myself on the fence about it. It's a blush that I want to, and thought I'd love, but in truth rarely gravitate towards. This was yet another New York holiday purchase (it's unbelievable I'm still blogging about stuff I bought during that time), and I remember when I first swatched it at Sephora, I thought I'd found the shade of my dreams. It looked like the perfect everyday neutral pink that I could easily envision being elevated to top position in my blush collection.

l-r: NARS Douceur, Illamasqua Naked Rose, Tarte Exposed, Illamasqua Zygomatic

Naked Rose is the only Illamasqua powder blush I own, and I find it very smooth, soft and pigmented. Other blushes I have can be almost impossible to decently swatch with my fingers unless I've gently scratched the surface with a toothpick first, but Naked Rose has no such problem. The surface of the blush never hardens. In fact, I would even say it's on the powdery side because the pigment is so soft. It's easy to loosen the powder so it's almost crumbly, especially if you come at it with a slightly spiky brush. For that reason, I wouldn't dream of using it with a stippling brush. The texture reminds me more of an excellent matte eyeshadow (think Laura Mercier) than what I'm typically used to for a blush.

It's one of the most pigmented blushes I've come across (probably rivaled only by the ridiculous NARS Sin), so I need to make sure my brush makes minimal contact with the blush. I normally use the fluffy, tapered Real Techniques Blush Brush, because anything else risks overdoing it. Maybe because it's extremely tricky to get right, most days I just can't be bothered. The colour itself I don't find to be anything special. It's just a medium, slightly reddish, dusty matte pink. While not particularly unique, it's a versatile, universal shade that could complement a whole range of makeup looks. I can't really tell if it's more warm or cool, as that seems to differ depending on one's skin tone. If there's any redness to your cheeks, Naked Rose will draw attention to that. For me, it only works paired with flawless, evened out skin, and if I get the application spot on. Otherwise, it can look messy and ruddy, and almost like my skin is having an allergic reaction to the blush.

I purchased this in the States back when Illamasqua blushes were still $42 in Australia. Kudos to the brand for dropping their prices — a blush now retails for $28, almost the same price as the US if you include sales tax.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Trap-eze Track Down

When I first laid eyes on the China Glaze Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away Collection, I zeroed in on It's a Trap-eze! and declared that it needed to be mine. For the first couple of weeks, I searched eagerly for it online, only to find it out of stock everywhere. Then Australis released their Milky Way polish which I hoped would be a good enough dupe to temporarily satiate my craving. As fun as it was to play around with, it didn't quite match up to the real deal. Over time, my interest waned and I'd more or less given up on finding It's a Trap-eze! until Sammi mentioned she discovered BeautyJoint had it back in stock. That night, I contemplated long and hard whether I was going to pay $9.45 shipping on a $3.99 polish. You bet I was.

Despite finally having in my hands something I'd wanted for so long, I couldn't help but be irked by the fact the bottle I received had definitely been used. There was that telltale ring of dried up polish around the opening of the bottle. Additionally, when I peered into the bottle itself, it looked about two-thirds full. The level of the polish was suspiciously low for what was supposed to be a brand new product.

Initially, I was actually a little disappointed with It's a Trap-eze!, and not just because I hadn't received it in pristine condition. I'd reached my glitter tolerance. I felt underwhelmed at how superfluous acquiring another glitter polish seemed, especially one that I'd previously been so enthusiastic about. Now that I had it, it didn't seem half as appealing as when it was just a distant object to covet and admire.

But I tried it on, and soon enough I found myself warming to it considerably. There is something special about It's a Trap-eze! that makes it unlike any other glitter I've come across. Firstly, the density of glitter is ridiculous. Not just the density, but the variety. I see very small to small hexagonal glitter in a multitude of colours: red, orange, yellow, cyan, green, magenta, and silver/white in a sheer, slightly blue-tinged white base. The semi-transparent base is what this polish so versatile, as it's not so opaque that it covers up or overwhelms the glitter. Rather, it lets the glitter shine through, even with multiple layers. You can apply this over a bright polish to make the base colour pastel. The glitter is relatively small-sized, so from a distance, the overall effect on your nails is more like a crazily speckled egg than a super-reflective, multifaceted disco ball.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Convertible Convert

Remember that night I was trying to resist buying another cream blush? Well I failed. Miserably. After months of holding out, I gave in to the allure of finally adding a Stila Convertible Colour to my blush collection. I'm not sure I could even count myself as a cream blush aficionado without having at least one of them in my stash. I knew that I wanted to get Gerbera after seeing it on Louise and Jennie May, and I was debating whether to get Lilium as well. In the end, I thought Lilium might be too close to Illamasqua Zygomatic, so I did well in settling for just Gerbera (not that I'm lacking shades similar to it).

l-r: NARS Deep Throat, Benefit Coralista, Stila Gerbera, Bloom Coy

Since it arrived, Stila Convertible Colour in Gerbera has become my go-to cheek product. It's effortless and goes with everything. I love that I can apply it with either my fingers or a brush (I've been using the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush) without any issues. Sometimes cream blush can be a little daunting if it's overly pigmented or goes on a little patchy, but Gerbera simply sinks into the skin to give a softly luminous, healthy-looking, natural flush. Pigmentation is excellent (you really only need a small amount each time) and the texture is non-sticky and a little bit thick, but easy to sheer out and blend. It does fade by the end of the day, but it's also perfect for popping into the handbag for any touch ups you might want to make, especially transitioning from day to night makeup.

Gerbera strikes the ideal balance between peach and pink and has a pastel quality while still remaining relatively bright. NARS Deep Throat is more pinky-red with a subtle gold sheen, while Benefit Coralista is more orange with a slightly frosty, luminous gold pearl. Swatched alongside Bloom Sheer Colour Cream in Coy, it's hard to tell the two apart, except that Coy is perhaps a fraction more red and not as pastel as Gerbera. On the cheeks, Coy appears slightly darker and more red-toned, and isn't as smooth and uniform in application as Gerbera, perhaps due to a drier texture that doesn't blend as evenly.

Although the Convertible Colours can be used for both lips and cheeks, I found Gerbera much too pale and very unforgiving and drying on the lips. On the cheeks however, this is probably the best cream blush I've tried, and if the staying power were longer for this particular shade, it would be faultless. It's definitely exceeded my expectations and I'm looking to pick up one or two more shades in the future, especially the newly released Sweet Pea, thanks to Tiffany's extremely convincing post.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Lipstick Limit, Part 2

I acknowledge the rational part of my brain stopped functioning long ago on matters relating to makeup, but how I ended up buying 4 of the new Maybelline ColorSensational Vivids lipsticks escapes me. When I first saw swatches on Tram's blog, I was comforted by the fact no particular shade was calling out to me to immediately rush out to buy. I felt like I already had a lot of the colours in my existing lipstick collection. I convinced myself that I didn't need any of them. That I'd exercise restraint. But then gradually, they began popping up on the blogs I frequent. They looked so pigmented and bright. YouTubers were talking about them. I swatched them at Priceline to see what the fuss was about. They started looking awfully tempting.

l-r: Pink Pop, Fuchsia Flash, Hot Plum, Shocking Coral

l-r (top row, then bottom row): Pink Pop, Fuchsia Flash, Shocking Coral, Hot Plum

l-r: Maybelline Pink Pop, Australis Lick the Icing

I thought Pink Pop would be very similar to Australis Lick the Icing, but it's considerably warmer and darker, which makes it a lot more wearable. It's still a theoretically unflattering shade, but one that I was hopelessly drawn to. I probably wouldn't apply multiple layers straight from the tube as it can look jarring against my yellow-toned complexion, but I like this sheered out for a cool, pale but bright purplish-pink. This one has a silver pearl to it that I didn't even notice until I took off the lipstick and saw a load of shimmer left on my lips.

l-r: Maybelline Fuchsia Flash, Revlon Lollipop, Innoxa Pink Peony, MAC Chatterbox, MAC Viva Glam Nicki

Fuchsia Flash was the one shade that I felt I didn't have any dupes of in my collection. Surprisingly, Innoxa Pink Peony is quite close, though more pink and a touch darker. It's also more matte in texture. I keep forgetting I have this lipstick given how opaque and intensely pigmented it is — I really should show it more love. Revlon Lip Butter in Lollipop is a lot darker, nowhere near as bright and more purple with silver shimmer. Both MAC Chatterbox and Viva Glam Nicki are far more pink.

l-r: Maybelline Shocking Coral, Sportsgirl Fruit Tingle, Sportsgirl Rosie Posie, Revlon Melonade,
  Maybelline Mango Diamonds, Maybelline Coral Crush

Shocking Coral looked so pretty when swatched, though I was hesitant to buy it because of how many orangey-pinky-coral lipsticks I have already. It's closest to Sportsgirl Rosie Posie, though Rosie Posie is matte in texture and slightly more muted. Still, pretty damn similar. Sportsgirl Fruit Tingle, Revlon Melonade and Maybelline Mango Diamonds are all more orange, rather than pinky-red like Shocking Coral. Maybelline Coral Crush is darker and more orange-red, not as pink.

l-r: Maybelline Hot Plum, Revlon Smitten, Revlon Raspberry Pie, Australis Limited Edition 1
Lime Crime Airborne Unicorn

I was tossing up between Hot Plum and Vivid Rose, but since I'm on a purple/deep berry lipstick kick at the moment, I had to go with Hot Plum. It's very similar to Fuchsia Flash — they're basically the same colour but Hot Plum is a bit darker and a smidgen more purple. It's closest to Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Smitten, a shade I recently purchased during said "purple lipstick kick". Revlon Lip Butter in Raspberry Pie is darker, more of a berry red. Australis Limited Edition 1 is a dark grape. Lime Crime Airborne Unicorn is a cool-toned violet and clearly nothing like the previous shades, though it's so nifty to layer on top of any pink lipstick to make it instantly more purple. Hot Plum stains like crazy, which could be a good or bad thing, depending on what you're after.

l-r (top row, then bottom row): Pink Pop, Fuchsia Flash, Shocking Coral, Hot Plum

The only shade that I think is a standout from this range is Fuchsia Flash. The rest I probably could've done without, but being devoid of self-discipline, they're now the newest additions to my already out of control lipstick collection. Still, being relatively affordable (especially if you manage to get them on sale) "drugstore" lipsticks, they are impressive. I love how truly bright and saturated in colour they are. I've always favoured Revlon lipsticks, but Maybelline have really stepped up their game with this launch.
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