Saturday, December 27, 2014

Collage Consumption

Every now and then, I get the urge to make a wishlist. There's just something so therapeutic and satisfying about compiling a visual representation of my current material wants. Adult scrapbooking, you could call it. It's also fascinating to look back on past wishlists and see how my tastes have developed from 3 years ago, what items I ended up purchasing, which products I still want but don't have (Charlotte Tilbury The Dolce Vita palette, I'm looking at you) and things that were just passing fancies. The usefulness of wishlists lies in how they make concrete the products you really want and would be willing to splurge on, distinct from stuff that just happens to be on sale, or buying for the sake of being bored and wanting to splash some cash. Bringing to mind your current wishlist is a means of insuring against impulse shopping, minimising waste and regret, and ensuring considered purchasing decisions.

1. Tom Ford Private Blend Café Rose Eau de Parfum
I casually sniffed this the other day and it was instant infatuation. Boozy sweet, seductive and expensive. One slight problem: a 50ml bottle is $295. There's just no way I could justify that, especially since there are more affordable rose perfumes out there (Jo Malone Red Roses comes to mind). I'm also eyeing the limited edition Ecoya Rose Blush and Cedarwood candle exclusive to David Jones to satisfy my rose kick. On the topic of Ecoya, their scrumptious Guava & Lychee Sorbet candle is also eminently covetable.

2. Bobbi Brown Face Blender Brush
I've watched a few videos where Tanya Burr used the Face Blender to apply her foundation (usually NARS Sheer Glow). Since switching to my Real Techniques Multi Task Brush from the Buffing Brush to apply my base, I'm now convinced of the advantages of a softer, fluffy, rounded brush over a more dense, flat top kabuki-style one. I don't need this, but it's basically a fancier version of the Multi Task Brush that I'm sure I'd reach for on a near-daily basis.

3. MAC Pro Longwear Paint Pot in Groundwork
This is one of those more utilitarian products I have a gut feeling I need in my life. I have one Paint Pot in Rubenesque which is the wrong colour for me, but I can't fault the creamy and smooth texture. While I have lots of metallic and shimmery cream shadows housed in pots (favourites include Maybelline Bad to the Bronze, Face of Australia Bronze Sphinx and Essence Pas des Copper), I'm missing a mid-tone, neutral, matte option. I'm counting on Groundwork to be an ever-reliable staple that I can hastily apply as a wash over the lid for fuss-free but polished definition.

4. Kate Somerville Goat Milk Cream
I've yet to really find "the one" when it comes to a holy grail moisturiser, but on that front, I'm keen to experiment and eternally optimistic. Although I've cautioned myself against buying more skin care until I use up my existing tubes and bottles (along with makeup, candles, soaps/shower gels, makeup brushes and pretty much everything that interests me shopping-wise), this moisturiser is top of my list when I do allow myself to buy, or cave and break my "ban". Caroline Hirons-approved, it sounds gentle, non-irritating, beautifully hydrating and soothing on the skin.

5. Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Colour in Grey Pearl
After my little Caviar Stick swatchfest recently, Grey Pearl stood out to me as a must-have for defining the lower lash line. And thankfully, it's not bronze! The last thing I need is yet another addition to the multitude of nearly indistinguishable bronze eyeliners I have. Rather, it's a beautifully hazy purplish grey that reminds me of the kind of colour I most love wearing on my nails (see Nails Inc. Porchester Square, Sportsgirl Storm). I find taupes/greys to be more understated and sophisticated on the lower lash line than darker bronze or copper shades that "pop" more but can lack subtlety for the daytime.

6. Zoeva Rose Golden Luxury Set
This was something I stumbled upon a couple of weeks ago and felt immediately compelled to buy. I mean, just look at it. Look at that shiny rose gold perfection and those gorgeously shaped, fluffy, versatile brushes that I know I'd use with love and care. Don't tell me money can't buy happiness. Even the pouch looks well made and stylish. Though it's not cheap at about $100, for 8 brushes, it works out to be pretty good value. I don't know all that much about Zoeva, but the general impression I have is affordable quality. The only thing that's stopping me from adding to cart and entering my credit card details is my attempt at adhering to my no-buy list (see point 4). Do. Not. Need. More. Brushes.

7. NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Red Square
Revlon Matte Lipstick in Strawberry Suede is my favourite red lipstick and this is the closest thing I've found to it. I've tried the tester a couple of times at Mecca Cosmetica and each time, I come away fully convinced Red Square will be mine one day. It's not a matter of if, only when. I rarely wear and arguably don't even like reds, but I love this one. It's the only kind of red I can pull off and perks up my whole face.

8. Narciso Rodriguez Narciso Eau de Parfum
When perfume God Luca Turin (co-author of the ingenious Perfumes: The A-Z Guide) gives a newly released perfume 5 stars in his "Message in a Bottle" column for Arabia, you bet I will hunt it down and I will sniff it and I will want it. This perfume is heady, enveloping, soapy, powdery, musky, creamy, warm and feminine, especially when left to meld with one's skin. I don't know when I became partial to expensive-smelling, refined, big soapy fragrances, but I can't seem to get enough.

9. L'Occitane Almond Shower Oil
A cult product from the brand, I feel like I've been reading about this shower oil on blogs for an eternity. I'm convinced that if I did buy it, I won't be disappointed. I'm fascinated by the concept of an oil that foams up when it's applied to the skin. Everything about it, from the ingredients, packaging, scent and the way that I imagine it would feel on the skin, promises an indulgent shower experience.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

2014 Favourites: Skin Care

Time for the yearly roundup of best-loved products, and this time I'm dedicating an entire post to skin care (beauty favourites to follow). Some of these products I discovered this year, others were purchased the previous year but continued to serve me well throughout 2014. The funny thing about skin care is that unlike makeup, where I can usually tell straight away whether something will be a hit with me or not, it's not uncommon for me to develop a deeper appreciation or understanding of a product weeks or months after forming an initial lukewarm, or perhaps even slightly negative, opinion. Perhaps the key is continued use and the patience to stick with a routine that eventually pays off with results.

DHC Deep Cleansing Oil
Silky, slippery and nourishing, this olive-oil based cleanser gets absolutely everything off efficiently, while your face receives a relaxing massage every night when this is smoothed onto the skin in circular motions. When washed off, it doesn't leave any trace of greasy residue, nor does it feel drying.

Antipodes Joyous Protein-Rich Night Replenish Serum
A wonder product for dry skin, this can be worn alone before moisturiser as a serum, or mixed in with your regular cream for an extra hydrating, skin-loving boost. Lately, I've been slapping onto my face 3-4 drops of this with a small dollop of Nivea Soft before bedtime and waking up to smooth, soft and visibly rested skin. If you buy the 10ml size in the $20 Anti-Ageing Minis set (which also contains a 15ml tube of Avocado Pear Nourishing Night Cream), it's terrific value.

Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask
My go-to product to fix dry skin, stat. It's deliciously fruity and feels calming and instantly thirst-quenching, minimising any flaky patches and generally restoring moisture to the skin overnight. My only (slight) complaint is that it does feel a bit sticky and doesn't absorb entirely, especially when applied liberally, so there might be a bit of transfer on your pillow if you rest your cheek on it.

Emma Hardie Amazing Face Moringa Cleansing Balm
After initially not being all that enthused, I finally saw the light in February this year when I started using this as a morning cleanser. Now, it's hard to imagine being without what is undoubtedly the most luxurious skin care product I own. With a heavenly fragrance that demands to be inhaled deeply, this ultra-nourishing and skin-plumping balm wakes up the senses with its premium ingredients and pampering feel.

Omorovicza Queen Of Hungary Mist
Yes, it's an eye-watering £46 (or $91) for 100ml, and the main appeal might be the glamorous name and elegant packaging rather than what's inside. I wasn't completely convinced it was worth the price at first. But now? I'm leaning towards repurchasing when I run out (I'll definitely need a discount code though). Firstly, like all sprays (except Avene Thermal Spring Water, which I go through like toilet paper), it takes ages to be used up. I've had my bottle for 16 months and it's still about 50% full. Granted, I'm not religiously spritzing it every hour of every second, but I'm not exactly rationing it either. But more to the point, when I follow with this after an exfoliating toner, my skin loves the injection of hydration and suppleness. It feels properly prepped to receive and absorb the benefits of any serums/face oils/creams that are subsequently applied.

Pixi Glow Tonic
Along with the Emma Hardie and Omorovicza, this is yet another Caroline Hirons recommendation I simply had to take up. I remember the sheer joy of finding this in stock at the Pixi shop off Carnaby Street on my London holiday in September 2013, back when you couldn't purchase it online and it was notoriously difficult to get a hold of at the physical store. Although I've been alternating Glow Tonic with the excellent First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads for my post-cleanse exfoliating toner, I find the Pixi more economical and gentler, more hydrating. Consistent use helps to improve the texture of my skin and forms part of a more complete skin care routine when paired with a hydrating toner before moisturiser.

NUXE Rêve de Miel
I was a naysayer at first. Now the backup's already in my drawer, waiting to be utilised the second my existing tub is emptied. If you've never tried this before, then it probably won't be like anything you know. This is a weird thick paste with exfoliating BEADS. The trick is to apply a small amount and really work it into the lips, letting the heat of your skin almost melt the product so it starts to sink in. I use this every evening as an overnight lip treatment to banish dry, flaky lips, but also whenever my lips are calling out for some intensive repair.

Dove Triple Moisturising Deep Nourishing Body Wash
You know what? Forget about philosophy or Lush and all those fancy shower gels with their gourmand or oriental scents. This stuff is simply the best. While I love a bit of bathing in a foamy cloud of cookies or spice, most of the time, you just want to keep it simple. This is pristine, soapy goodness. The actual product and the way it feels on the skin is positively luxurious for something seemingly so pedestrian. It's lusciously thick, lathers like a dream, feels slick and intensely nourishing and washes off without leaving the skin feeling dry or slippery.

Grown Mandarin and Rosemary Leaf Body Cream
I never thought I would use up a 500ml bottle of body moisturiser, but 18 months later, here we are. Let this be a resounding testament to how good this stuff is. Dare I say it almost makes me look forward to moisturising my body after I step out of the shower? The formulation is perfection. It has a herbal, somewhat citrusy scent that isn't too heavy, and is the furthest thing from sugary and cloying. But best of all, this is a body cream that actually absorbs into the skin. There is no stickiness or dampness after you've applied it, which I find nothing short of a miracle given the deep hydration it provides.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Beachy and Undone

I don't do hair. But when Sephora opened up in Sydney, I found myself oddly drawn to the hair care section. With all the testers just begging to be abused, I grabbed whatever was in front of me and started spritzing liberally. The result was nothing short of revelatory. My boring, flat, lifeless mop of hair was suddenly transformed into a tousled, voluminous, bed head vision. I literally had to rush back to the store the following day, determined to pick up the two products that impressed me the most: Sachajuan Ocean Mist and amika Un.Done Texture Spray.

I couldn't find any of the amika Un.Done Texture Spray at Sephora (the nice lady I spoke to said that the "amika girls" had recently done some kind of event at the shop and that specific product might not even be stocked at Sephora, but merely something they left behind), so I had to purchase it online. But the Sachajuan was there for $35. That's kind of a lot for what appears to be salty, alcohol-laced water in a coolly designed, minimalist bottle, but by that stage I was already converted and couldn't hand over my money fast enough.

The Sachajuan Ocean Mist and amika Un.Done Texture Spray have now joined Morrocanoil as the only hair products I own apart from shampoo and conditioner. I've been enjoying using the both of them together on second day hair to amp up volume, emphasise any natural waves from tying my hair up in a bun a lot of the time, and generally create a messy, slept-in, effortless look.

The Sachajuan has more grit and a subtle stickiness to it that feels like I'm deliberately dirtying my hair to generate texture and body. As it's just a spray rather than an aerosol like the amika, it comes out more like a squirt of liquid than an ultra-fine mist. For that reason, when it's spritzed, it tends to be concentrated in a particular area rather than dispersed evenly and thinly over a larger surface. I spray it a few times all over, then go in and rub, twist and scrunch sections of my hair together with my hands to better distribute the product and essentially tease and mess my hair up.

I then follow up with the amika all over and once again, tease my hair with my hands to "activate" the product. The Un.Done Texture Spray is what gives the hair that grungy, bed head appearance, building lots of natural-looking volume but in a touchable, weightless, invisible way. I have read that it's the closest dupe to Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray on the market. Though I haven't tried the Oribe myself (and at the prices it sells for, I don't foresee that changing any time soon), upon inspecting the ingredients of the two, I can see why that claim might be true.

amika Un.Done Texture Spray: Hydrofluorocarbon 152A, Butane, SD Alcohol 40-B, Disiloxane, VP/VA Copolymer, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Starch, Zeolite, Glycerin, Triethyl Citrate, PEG/PPG-18/18 Dimethicone, Fragrance, Hippophae Rhamnoides Extract, Water

Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray: Hydrofluorocarbon 152A, Dimethyl Ether, SD Alcohol 40-B (Alcohol Denat.), VP/VA Copolymer, Zeolite, Glycerin, Acetyl Triethyl Citrate, PEG/PPG 17/18 Dimethicone, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Extract, AMP-Isostearoyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Benzophenone-4, Water/Aqua/Eau, Mangifera Indica (Mango) Fruit Extract, Passiflora Incarnata Flower Extract, Actinidia Chinensis (Kiwi) Fruit Extract, Hedychium Coronarium Root Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Linalool, Citral, Limonene, Hexyl Cinnamal, Parfum/Fragrance

I'm no expert on chemicals, but apart from the added extracts in the Oribe, it looks like the two are more or less exactly the same thing. Given the Oribe is far more than what I'd be willing to shell out on a hair product, I'm happy to have discovered the Un.Done Texture Spray if it gives a very similar effect but at a much reduced price.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Gold Standard

Despite having more than 80 lipsticks at last count, I've only recently purchased my first one from Yves Saint Laurent. I've long admired these gilded bullets of magnificence, but at $55 a pop, I wasn't sure I could justify the splurge. Enter the utterly enabling environment of duty-free airport shopping, and the Rouge Volupté Shine in Corail Intuitive (15) was mine. As always, picking the shade was a difficult task, but Jennifer convinced me to go for something on the bright and peachy side.

l-r: Revlon Juicy Papaya, Lancome Blush Classique, YSL Corail Intuitive, Revlon Peach Parfait, Maybelline Mango Diamonds

I predicted I'd have a few similar shades to Corail Intuitive and it's no surprise that I absolutely do. The closest is probably Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter in Juicy Papaya. It's brighter in tone, slightly more neon, and also thicker in texture and less emollient. Lancome L'Absolu Rouge in Blush Classique (337) is very similar texturally to the Rouge Volupté Shine, but distinctly more pink in colour and more shimmery. Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter in Peach Parfait is grittier in texture due to the chunky gold shimmer, and more beige/rosy in colour compared to the YSL, which is more orange/coral and slightly lighter. Maybelline ColorSensational "The Shine" Lipstick in Mango Diamonds (445) is darker yet brighter in tone, more red-leaning and not as sheer.

There's not much to fault with YSL Rouge Volupté Shine in Corail Intuitive. I'm a fan of the fruity, sweet scent, it has a sheer, lightweight, moisturising formula that glides on but doesn't settle into lip lines, it's not super pigmented making it ideal for everyday wear but can also be built up in intensity for a punchier look, it imparts the lips with a soft, plumped up sheen that isn't overly glossy, and then there's the packaging. I'll be the first to admit it was about 85% of my motivation to purchase. It's an object of art to be appreciated when placed on your vanity or retrieved from your purse for touch ups. Without a doubt, this is the single most glamorous lipstick in my collection.
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