Friday, September 6, 2013

Up in the Air

Travelling abroad in September seems to be turning into something of a tradition for me. Last year was all about experiencing New York, this year's agenda involves a few more stops and a more foreign flavour. If all goes well, I'll be seeing the sights in London, Paris, Rome, Florence and Milan, all in the space of 3 weeks. I haven't ventured very far outside of Australia in terms of places I've visited internationally, so needless to say, I'm looking forward to exploring parts of Europe like the blatant, inexperienced tourist I am.

As usual, I'm hideously underprepared, with no itinerary sorted, no concept of how to read maps or navigate myself around, not even a rudimentary grasp of any language apart from English, and doubts about the weather-appropriateness of the clothing I've packed. I did give some thought to my makeup travel bag (and this year, slightly more attention to skin care as well), but in the end, settled for 90% of the same stuff I brought with me to New York. I figured adhering to an elaborate makeup routine isn't a huge priority while on holiday. With the Australian dollar tanking somewhat, I'm not anticipating any mega cosmetics spending spree like in the US, but we'll see what happens when I get back at the end of the month. See you in October!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Pitch Perfect Pink

As a lip product junkie, when the Maybelline Color Sensational Color Whispers hit our shores, I was immediately intrigued. Attractively slimmer than the regular Color Sensational line, these lipsticks seemed to be Maybelline's answer to the Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butters. I tried on all of the 8 shades at Priceline (we didn't get all 20 available in the States), but nothing particularly stood out except for Lust for Blush (25). One Size Fits Pearl was basically clear, and the other pink and fuchsia shades weren't all that flattering on me. I wasn't tempted enough to spend $14.95 on one, but with Priceline's half price sale on Maybelline the other week, I couldn't resist snapping up Lust for Blush, along with a Color Tattoo eyeshadow in Barely Branded.

Lust for Blush is one of those finds that I wasn't expecting to like as much as I do. It's an unassuming, everyday pink that doesn't pull too cool on me, which is an extraordinary rarity. Under certain light, it can look slightly purplish on my lips, but for the most part, it stays relatively neutral and subdued. The formula is a bit strange — it's almost too creamy for my tastes and does slip and slide a little. It's not entirely comfortable on the lips, especially the more that you apply. I imagine if you had quite dry lips, this would definitely settle into lip lines. It also has a tendency to separate around any cracks in the lips, so I need to press my lips together to blend the lipstick several times. It has an inoffensive sweet scent and you need only a very small amount with each application (I've used it at least 5-6 times and it looks brand new). Being on the sheer side, you do need a couple of layers to build up the pigmentation, and this isn't a lipstick that will stain or wear for a long time. It's dark enough so that it's not a milky, baby pink, but it's still overall on the light side.

l-r: Maybelline Lust for Blush, MAC Creme Cup, Australis Jive, Revlon Primrose, Maybelline Juicy Bubblegum

I rummaged through my ridiculous pink lipstick collection and picked out several shades that I thought would be close to Lust for Blush: MAC Creme Cup, Australis Color Inject Mineral Lipstick in Jive, Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Primrose (668) and Maybelline ColorSensational Lipstick in Juicy Bubblegum (140).

To my eyes, Lust for Blush resembles a cross between MAC Creme Cup and Australis Jive. It's more a light-to-medium neutral pink, not as bright or cool-toned as the others. MAC Creme Cup is more yellow pink and nude (beige/peach), paler and milkier. Australis Jive is very similar, but more purple and darker, also more opaque and less glossy. Revlon Primrose is a more pigmented blue-based pink with less of an earthy tone, also with less berry/pinky red. Maybelline Juicy Bubblegum has a similar texture (sheer, glossy) but feels more comfortable, lightweight and moisturising on the lips. It's darker, more mauve-pink, with slight grape tones in comparison.

Lust for Blush is a good pick for those looking for something subdued, easy to wear and on the conservative side. It's light in pigment with just a single swipe but certainly buildable, and the colour is enough to add a bit of tint to the lips, but nothing opaque or obvious. It's not hard to see why this is probably one of the most popular colours in the Color Whisper range.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Five Face Oils

I've been meaning to write this post for a long time, but have always slacked off on it because, simply put, these different face oils I use are practically indistinguishable to me. I use them in exactly the same way for exactly the same purpose with more or less the same results. Clearly, this is not going to be some verifiable scientific breakdown of each of them. None of these are miracle workers, but having converted to face oils roughly this time last year with the purchase of Josie Maran Argan Oil, I can say that generally, my bare face has become more presentable in public, and somewhat ironically, my skin is overall less oily now.

Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil
My first face oil, and in a way, my sentimental favourite. I bought this at Sephora in New York while on vacation. I started my foray into face oils by mixing 2-3 drops of this with Nivea Soft and applying it day and night for the 3 weeks I was in NYC. I don't know if it was the lack of stress or the increased exercise from walking around on holiday, but I swear, I look back on pictures from the trip and my skin has never looked better. I've rationed this 15ml travel size bottle for a good year, though I've almost finished it. What I love about the Josie Maran is that it's completely scentless and seems to be one of the more refined oils I've tried. The skin just drinks it up, and it softens and soothes. I've contemplated ordering another bottle from Sephora via the overpriced Tarazz multiple times, but eventually settled for the argan oil from Garden of Wisdom. I'm hoping it'll be exactly the same thing.

Sukin Certified Organic Rose Hip Oil
One of my most recent additions, after being convinced I needed a rosehip oil in my life after repeated exposure to Trilogy Rosehip Oil on beauty blogs. Never mind that I already had the Antipodes Divine Face Oil which has rosehip in it. I needed the unadulterated stuff. The scent of this oil always reminds me of fish oil capsules. Not my favourite, but the smell at least doesn't linger. I find this is quite rich in that if I apply 2-3 drops to bare skin in place of a regular moisturiser, my skin will have a slight greasy residue after a couple of hours. I'm not sure whether it's because it doesn't absorb as readily, or whether I just use too much. It's very hydrating and seems to work overnight to restore the skin and give it back some suppleness and smoothness. However, I don't think it did anything significant in reducing scarring from spots.

Antipodes Divine Face Oil Organic Avocado Oil & Rosehip
I do like this and find it very similar to the Sukin, in that it's a bit on the heavier side. I'm not a fan of the scent which I always think of as a little hippie and musty (almost like pee, dare I say?). It has avocado oil, macadamia nut oil, jojoba oil, rosehip oil, vitamin E and essential oil fragrances of ylang ylang, sandalwood and jasmine. I really love the packaging of this, with the patterned dark green label, amber bottle, quirky Antipodes font and contrasting gold ring at the top. I've used about half of the 30ml bottle, but given that it acts very much the same way as pure rosehip oil, the smell is off-putting to me and I'm a bit on the fence about the added essential oils, I'm not sure whether I'd repurchase. If I didn't have the Sukin though, I'd be content using this daily, either applied to a freshly cleansed face or mixed in with my regular moisturiser.

Sanctuary Spa Therapist's Secret Facial Oil
This one has a whole bunch of ingredients, including sunflower seed soil, rosehip oil, wheat germ oil, jojoba seed soil, rosa centifolia (cabbage rose) flower extract, frankincense and rosa damascena flower oil. I have no idea what half of those things are or what they're meant to do. The liquid is much paler than the Sukin (which is amber) and Antipodes (dark yellow). This one is much nicer on the nose with a faint sweet rose smell. I find the oil lighter and slightly more readily absorbed than the Sukin and Antipodes, closer to the Josie Maran in the way it feels on the skin.

Caudalie Divine Oil
This French multipurpose dry oil comes in a large 100ml cylinder with a pump dispenser and can be used for body, face and hair. The primary ingredient is grape seed oil, said to be high in omega-6 and vitamin E, but it also contains sesame seed oil, shea butter extract, sunflower seed oil, hibiscus seed oil, argan oil and tomato extract. This one is heavily, heavily perfumed, to the extent you could easily use it purely for the fragrance, especially if applied to the ends of the hair. Those sensitive to strong scents may not want this anywhere near their face. One squirt gives you a decent amount, I would say equivalent to at least 4-5 drops of the other oils. This one is the fastest absorbing and doesn't leave much of an oily residue, but it doesn't feel immediately hydrating or soothing either. I find the smell too rich for the day so I only use this as part of my nighttime routine, in combination with my Trilogy Very Gentle Moisturising Cream, or as a final layer of treatment/hydration over any moisturiser/oils I've already slapped on.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Peachy Boost

I first heard of the Bourjois Color Boost Glossy Finish Lipsticks from Sandra back in June and soon enough, they started popping up everywhere. I didn't know if I wanted to cave and buy my 327th lip crayon, even if one of my favourite brands was producing it. When they were released in Australia, I resisted buying one immediately, but with 25% off Bourjois this week at Priceline, I caved. I already had tried all four shades and knew that Peach on the Beach (04) was my clear favourite.

The Bourjois Color Boost Glossy Finish Lipstick is more or less identical to the Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stains in packaging and size, maybe just slightly shorter in length. The actual product inside is surprisingly quite different. The Revlon crayons are hard and drier in texture and relatively transfer-proof, while the Bourjois is very emollient (kind of oily, even), soft and glossy, almost like it's melting upon contact with the skin/lips. Although it's sheer in the sense that it doesn't apply opaque like a traditional lipstick, it's still really pigmented. While it claims to have a "bare lip sensation", it feels more like a creamy lipstick coating the lips rather than something closer to a balm stain that sinks into the lips and is weightless.

Peach on the Beach is a pinky coral that is borderline neon. The more you apply, the greater tendency it has to settle into lip lines, so I normally blot once and then press my lips together to blend. If I don't want a full-on lip, I dab a small amount on the centre of my lips and then blend out with my finger for a subtler look. It imparts a reddish pink stain when it's taken off, though nothing like the crazy staining properties of some of the darker, brighter Revlon shades. It purports to be waterproof and provide 10 hours of "comfort and hydration", but those claims are ambitious to say the least. There's SPF 15 which is a bonus.

I thought I'd surely have something close to identical to Peach on the Beach among my vast peach/coral lipstick collection, but pleasingly, nothing was an exact match. I pulled out Revlon Super Lustrous lipstick in Melonade (180), Maybelline ColorSensational Vivids in Shocking Coral (910), Australis Colour Inject Mineral Lipstick in Honky Tonk and Sportsgirl Pout About It! Lip Colour in Fruit Tingle to compare.

l-r: Bourjois Peach on the Beach, Revlon Melonade, Maybelline Shocking Coral, Australis Honky Tonk, Sportsgirl Fruit Tingle

The Bourjois is clearly the most sheer and glossy of the bunch, but still pigmented. It's more peachy and 'wet'/glossy look than the rest, and also the lightest, almost with a pastel tone. Revlon Melonade is more orangey red and significantly darker. Maybelline Shocking Coral is more watermelon pink, redder, bolder, more intense. Australis Honky Tonk is the closest colour match, though slightly darker, more opaque, less glossy and sheer. Sportsgirl Fruit Tingle, like Melonade, is more of a fiery orange, but matte.

Though I'm becoming more selective about any new lip product purchases I make because of the insane number of lipsticks, lip crayons, lip butters, lip stains, tinted lip balms, lip glosses etc. that I have, the Bourjois isn't an unwelcome addition. I still enjoy the jumbo lip crayon look for the child-like novelty of wielding a fattened pencil, and the emollient, spreadable texture makes it easy to sport a summery slick of bright-yet-pastel colour.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

August Favourites

August was a bit of a strange month for me. The net result was a couple of weeks of relative inner turmoil which amounted to pretty much nothing in terms of changing my situation. My upcoming planned holiday to Europe couldn't come at a better time. I need a change in scenery and some distraction/space to reevaluate things. Makeup-wise, I'm beginning to appreciate why cult classics are just that. I suppose my makeup tastes are in a way becoming increasingly higher end, not because of any attraction to luxury brands, but because I'm sick of buying multiple cheaper, inferior quality alternatives to the real deal which ultimately are a waste of money. Usually, there's good reason why popular products are often raved about, relied on and well-loved, and though I might stray now and then, I always come back to what I know actually works.

Real Techniques Expert Face Brush
This brush has been somewhat overshadowed by my affection for the Real Techniques Buffing Brush, but I've been using it for the majority of August, and my feelings steadily grew to definite love. This is just excellent for slapping on any base — from a tinted moisturiser (more on that later) to a more full coverage foundation. The shape reminds me of a cross between a kabuki brush and a traditional foundation brush. I use it in downward and sideways strokes, rather than in circular motions as I would the Buffing Brush, but it still blends the product effortlessly due to the density of the bristles. You can also use it in a stippling motion to get rid of any streaks. The best thing about this brush is the way it can navigate tricky areas like around the nose or the edges of the mouth. The more precise, straight edge (as opposed to rounded) really lets you to get right in there for a seamless finish. It's also brilliant for cream blush and, I imagine, contouring with a cream pigment or bronzer, though I haven't personally tried it for that purpose.

NARS Bronzing Powder in Laguna
I don't know what took me so long to get my hands on Laguna, but I'm so glad I did. Since this arrived with my NARS Lose Yourself Set, I've been thoroughly obsessed. While I don't really care for the Angelika blush that comes with the blush/bronzer duo, I know the Laguna side will get a tonne of wear. I've firmly incorporated Laguna in my daily routine since receiving it, using my Models Prefer Mystique Angled Blush Brush for a soft contour, or the Real Techniques Powder Brush for more of an all-over bronzed effect. It's sheerer and more of a warm, golden tone than the darker, slightly muddier Benefit Hoola (which I prefer for more serious contouring), which makes it ideal for everyday wear. The texture is really easy to work with and the colour just seems to agree with me. For now, I can't imagine finding anything that will top Laguna in my book, though I'm always open to the possibility of being proven wrong.

NARS Pro-Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base
A sample size was included with the NARS And God Created the Woman Eye Kit, and I was eager to see how this eye primer (a favourite of Lisa Eldridge) stacked up against others I'd used, like Urban Decay Primer Potion, LORAC Behind the Scenes Eye Primer, or even just regular cream eyeshadows from MAC, Revlon and Maybelline. While it's quite the challenge to get any product out from the tiny tube, I can see why this primer would be very effective for those with oily lids. Once you whack this on and place a powder eyeshadow on top, it's not going to budge. If I've blended a very small amount of this primer over my lid, and make a minor mistake with my eye makeup, like drawing my eyeliner too far, I can't just rub it off with my finger as I normally would because the primer is making that eyeliner cling on for dear life. It's almost like it works by drying out the texture of anything placed over it so it's virtually stuck to the lids.

Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser SPF20 in Nude
This stuff is truly amazing, to the extent that I would say it's approaching HG status. I haven't tried the oil-free version to compare (though I'm curious to, given it seems to be the more popular choice among beauty bloggers), but I'm completely content with the original one. The shade I have, Nude, is slightly too dark for me at the moment, but nothing too noticeable. This just gives the most natural finish to the skin while perfecting it in a very subtle but powerful way. I've already devoted an entire post to it, including a side-by-side before and after comparison. This is now my preferred base if I'm going out on the weekend, replacing my Garnier BB Cream Miracle Skin Perfector (Combination to Oily Skin) which previously was part of my go-to low-key makeup. It's superior to the Garnier in every way, the most significant of which is the way it blends into the skin. The Garnier is quite liquid and requires a decent amount of effort to be thoroughly worked into the skin. The Laura Mercier just melts into the skin with barely any effort. I even wore this to work one day which is completely unheard of, since I've always used a proper foundation. It held up from morning to night just fine, if not better, than some of my regular, albeit lighter coverage foundations, like Benefit Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow SPF 25 and Neutrogena Healthy Skin Liquid Makeup SPF 20.

Maybelline EyeStudio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner in Blackest Black
For whatever reason, my eyes began to get irritated when I used my Australis 10 Hour Waterproof Eye Pencil in Bombastic Bronze to define my lower lash line. At first I thought it might've just been a one-off thing, but when the problem persisted over the course of several days, I ditched the Australis and reverted to my trusty ol' Maybelline gel eyeliner using a Manicare angled brush. If anything, I like the result more than the bronze eyeliner pencils I'd been exclusively wearing. I always make sure to lightly dip my brush into the pot and then draw the first few strokes on my hand to soften the intensity of the black before applying it on my lower lash line. Using a minuscule amount of product, I get a much more precise, thin line which lasts the whole day and doesn't look harsh or too dark at all. I've had this pot for ages. It hasn't dried out and there's still 90% left.

Benefit Hervana
Benefit seriously know how to make a good blush. Sure, they might not be the most daring, fashion-forward, bold or unique colours, but they're universally flattering, girly shades that just look good on the skin. Hervana was something I was so excited to buy when I was in the States last year, since there was slim chance I'd be willing to part with $51 for it here. I'm not sure whether I love it as much as Sugarbomb, but it comes pretty damn close. This is one of the very few pink blushes that I don't hate on me. It's a perfect specimen of an everyday blush that I really don't show enough appreciation for. A gem in my blush collection.

l-r: NARS Pro-Prime, NARS Laguna, Laura Mercier Nude, Benefit Hervana, Maybelline Blackest Black
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