Sunday, December 4, 2016

Colourpop Lip Haul (+ Rant)

Colourpop recently had free international shipping, so I caved and put in a modest order. My friend however, showed no such restraint, and ordered 18 lip products. That's right, 18. She chucked whatever took her fancy into her cart without the requisite, thorough research us beauty bloggers might do, and based her choices purely on the product photos on the Colourpop website. BIG MISTAKE. When the goods arrived, it didn't take long to realise many of the colours on the lips were much deeper than how they appeared in the tube. Soon I found myself the beneficiary of some of her discarded shades: Ultra Matte Lips (UML) in Beeper, Wild Nothing and Teeny Tiny, Ultra Satin Lips (USL) in Frick N' Frack and November, and mini USLs in Stud, Mess Around and Toolips. In my own order, I bought just Matte X Lippie Stix in Hotline because I'd heard raves about the Matte X formula.

Matte X Lippie Stix in Hotline

Colourpop lip haul, Beeper
November, Wild Nothing
Teeny Tiny, Frick N' Frack
Mess Around, Toolips
Stud, Hotline

Beeper is a dark plummy brown. November is a medium warm rose pink. Wild Nothing is a deep chocolatey plum. Teeny Tiny is a darker, more purple version of Wild Nothing. Frick N' Frack is a deep, mauvey berry. Mess Around is a dark brown grey. Toolips is a blackened plum. Stud is a fractionally browner/darker Frick N' Frack. And I mean fractionally...

Top lip Stud, bottom lip Frick N' Frack

Come on. They're basically indistinguishable. They're both also the Ultra Satin Lip formula so not even different in finish!

l-r: Wild Nothing, Teeny Tiny, Frick N' Frack, Stud, Beeper, Mess Around, Toolips

l-r: Wild Nothing (UML), Teeny Tiny (UML), Frick N' Frack (USL), Stud (USL), Beeper (UML)

Here we can see just how similar these colours are. Sure, Teeny Tiny is more purply and darker than the rest, Beeper is a bit lighter, Wild Nothing is perhaps a touch deeper and browner than the redder Frick N' Frack and Stud, but the differences aren't enough to justify half of these shades being separate and distinct. You'd hope that a brand would consciously avoid having dupes or near dupes within their own collection, but maybe Colourpop has other priorities.

This was also my first time trying out the Ultra Satin Lip formula. I find them a lot more comfortable to wear than the Ultra Matte Lips which are drying and suck all the moisture from your lips. The fluffier applicator on the USL is noticeably more plush and cushiony than the UML which feels harder and not as giving, perhaps to facilitate a harsher, more precise edge. The Ultra Satin Lip dries down to a more matte finish anyway, so they just feel like a more moisturising version of their Ultra Matte Lip. I find the Ultra Matte Lip colours fare better with a coat of lip balm underneath, an initial layer of product that's dabbed on with the fingers, then a second coat applied the same way after the first has dried. This helps create a more even finish and gets around needing a super precise application. If given the choice, I would abandon the Ultra Matte Lip in favour of the Ultra Satin Lip for any future purchases.

Top to bottom: November, Hotline

The Matte X Lippie Stix was pretty much what I was expecting: a full coverage but lightweight, extremely matte lipstick. I bought Hotline after seeing this blog post because it looked so perfect on the blogger. It's not as love-at-first-sight on me, but it's a nicely done warm peachy nude. Probably what I'd hoped Revlon Matte lipstick in Smoked Peach would be. Reminds me of a more orange, lighter Wet n Wild MegaLast Lip Color in Bare It All or Maybelline Color Drama Intense Velvet Lip Pencil in Nude Perfection.

I was kind of excited for November since it's distinctly not like the other vampy shades and I do like KathleenLights. But I think it's a bit too syrupy for me? There's something simultaneously neon yet old-fashioned about it. Not the hugest fan, but could work if not at 100% opacity.

Once again, I'm not particularly thrilled with Colourpop (see previous posts here and here). I do stand by what I said before, which is they're a good place to go if you want to try out trendy, daring, bold, fun shades at an affordable price point. I mean, I'm probably never going to wear Toolips or Mess Around out, but at least the option's there and I've seen what they look like on. I also give them props for making colours that look great on darker skin tones. But I was majorly annoyed by 2 things with this latest batch of products. These observations seem to be more a criticism of their business model than the quality of their products per se.

First, not every consumer will be bothered or savvy enough to properly research the colour accuracy of their shades. If they purchase, like my friend, based upon photographs of the products on the Colourpop website, they will be sorely disappointed. The colour in the tube isn't the colour on the lips, and that's a problem. See for example, reviews on Frick N' Frack and Toolips respectively:
One complaint is that Frick N Frack (and pretty much all ColourPop's lipsticks) look much darker in reality than in their pictures. I'm giving 4/5 because I think it's beautiful, but they need to be more honest with their pictures, because it does disappoint some people. For example, I would rather have a lip colour like the picture than the actual frick n frack but it's still beautiful (oh_yeez_itzz_kylizzle on Nov 7, 2016)
I was super excited about this beautiful fall/winter color, but ended up being disappoint with how dark it turned out. It turned out to be dark brown when applied and even was mistaken to be a black lipstick by my friends. However, the color does last without rubbing off for almost the whole day. Just was not what I was expecting from the pictures. (Sav on Oct 27, 2016)
Yes, they do have swatches on their website as well, but when you have so many colours in your range, it would be much more helpful if similar-appearing colours were swatched together (a la Makeup Geek eyeshadows), rather than disparate shades in a "collection". That way, at least people have a chance at avoiding duplicate colours, or at least will be more aware of the differences, no matter how small.

Secondly, I don't think a company should be producing nearly identical colours like Frick N' Frack and Stud under different names in the first place. The fact that those two shades, plus Wild Nothing, Beeper and Teeny Tiny were just so similar, leaves a very bad taste in my mouth. Sure, no one put a gun to anyone's head to buy them all, but you'd hope if you bought FIVE different colours, they'd at least have some point of difference on the lips to not make it all feel like a massive waste of money. This coming from someone with a gazillion same pink lipsticks and bronze eyeshadows.

A third minor complaint I have is the lettering on the packaging of their products fades unbelievably quickly. I'm talking in a matter of days with ordinary handling, or after a single trip in the handbag. What's the point?

I think Colourpop could be so much better if they sorted their shit out. I haven't experienced any of these issues with any other brand. Perhaps these problems arise because they favour pushing out fresh new product even if the formulas, shades or aspects of packaging aren't perfected. Having said all that, somehow I've accumulated a sizeable collection of their stuff even though I'm not super happy with most of it. I guess they must be doing something right.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Colour Seduction

Peeking into other people's makeup bags is not a good idea. It's like innocently going into a favourite shop just for a browse. My friend had a few Revlon Ultra HD Matte Lipcolors in her bag and I dug out the one that appealed to me the most, HD Seduction (630). I tried it on and suddenly was overcome with that familiar irrational NEED that takes over when I come across a lip colour I like. It was like this was the shade I'd been searching for my whole life. It was the shade I couldn't let get away. Literally 20 minutes later, I hopped into the nearest chemist, zeroed in on the Revlon stand and bought it.

I'd heard of these when they first launched a while back, but they didn't arouse any interest at the time. I was probably at a lipstick saturation point, particularly with Revlon releases. I do recall reading mainly positive reviews about them though, consistent with my general experience with Revlon lip products (I went crazy with their Lip Butters in 2012, have collection posts on their Super Lustrous, Matte and ColorBurst lipsticks, and bought a bunch of the Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stains — original and matte).

The Ultra HD Matte Lipcolor isn't completely matte despite the name. They're certainly not bone dry and moisture-sucking like your traditional liquid lipstick (e.g. Colourpop Ultra Matte Lips). To me, it's initially like a lip gloss and takes a long time to mattify, and even when it does, it's more of a slightly sheeny matte lip cream. The consistency is reminiscent of the NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams. They're a more forgiving formula, aren't remotely transfer-proof, but once blotted, are slightly staining. Longevity is nothing to write home about, especially since the product can easily fade off the lips. The applicator is excellent (great shape, easy control, distributes just enough product) and feels really plush and cushiony on the lips.

Revlon Ultra HD Matte Lipcolor in Seduction

l-r: Face of Australia Sundae, Colourpop Midi, Revlon Seduction, Revlon Elusive, Rimmel Notting Hill Nude, Maybelline Nude Perfection

Seduction is a light-to-medium pinky nude that I think suits Asian skin tones well. I like that you can build up your desired opacity with the wand. I prefer the look of the product lightly applied. When it's more full coverage (like in the pictures below), it looks more like your conventional rosy pink and loses some of its magic as an ideal "my lips but better" shade.

Compared with other nude lipsticks in my collection, Seduction is a pinker Rimmel Moisture Renew Lipstick in Notting Hill Nude or a more uniform Face of Australia Sheer Gloss Lip Crayon in Sundae, which is sheerer, patchier. Colourpop Ultra Matte Lip in Midi is more cool-toned with a touch of purple. Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm in Elusive is a much warmer, brighter pink. Maybelline Color Drama Intense Velvet Lip Pencil in Nude Perfection is a darker, browner nude.

Seduction isn't super unique but the combination of the colour, formula and sleek packaging makes it my current go-to lip product when I feel in the mood for a lil somethin' on the lips but nothing too out there or loud. It's the quintessential "pretty" shade that's safe, unassuming and easy to wear. It adds a touch of muted, natural rosiness that's not too pink or brown, dark or pale. Bonus: the stuff smells like delicious baked goods.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Blonde Buy

Priceline recently had their 40% off cosmetics sale and I only really wanted to buy NYX Lip Lingerie in Bedtime Flirt after reading this article. It was out of stock everywhere I looked (though of course was back in stock right after the sale) so I settled for this el cheapo brow gel from Essence that I recall KathleenLights talk about. She described Make Me Brow as "the same as Benefit Gimme Brow", so how could I go wrong? Plus it was next to nothing at $3.06 after discount.

First mistake I made was my total ignorance at the 2 shades they offer: Blondy Brows (01) and Browny Brows (02). I thought they only had one colour so I didn't even bother checking what shade I picked up. Turned out to be Blondy Brows which was a fail on my part since it is way too light for my colouring.

The only other brow mascara I have is the L'Oréal Brow Artist Plumper in Medium/Dark (also bought during a previous Priceline 40% off sale), which I've been reaching for lately any time I want a more complete makeup look. I used to never care about brows (when writing this post, I realised I don't even have a brow tag on the blog), but increasingly I'm discovering the merit of brow products, especially for occasions where I know I'll be photographed.

Despite purchasing the Medium/Dark shade in the L'Oréal Brow Artist Plumper, I remember trying Light/Medium in the store and quite liking the effect. It completely changed the colour of my brows (it was like I had dyed them a lighter, warmer brown) and in turn, altered the appearance of my whole face. I was hoping that Essence Blondy Brows would be similar, but it's a much lighter, cool-toned ashy blonde than a warm chestnut brown like L'Oréal Light/Medium.

Essence Blondy BrowsL'Oréal Medium/Dark

The wand on the Essence is tiny tiny (much smaller than the L'Oréal Brow Artist Plumper) and there's small fibres that are meant to give more body to your brows. I have pretty full brows already, so the small fibres don't do that much. The minimal difference could be more the wrong shade though. Because of the size of the wand, it distributes less product than the L'Oréal, which may be a good or bad thing depending on your preferences. All in all, it's a much quieter, subdued product.

Bare brow

With Blondy Brows

You can see the product doesn't really make much of a difference. If there is any, it's extremely subtle. There's just a bit more colouring overall and the tip of the brow has a touch more definition.

I haven't tried Benefit Gimme Brow but Essence Make Me Brow does seem like a nearly identical offering at literally a fraction of the price. I definitely am curious about the darker Browny Brows shade and feel it would do a much better job at filling in small gaps in my brows and giving a more defined, polished look than Blondy Brows. Having said that, if L'Oréal could make a shade in between Light/Medium and Medium/Dark, and shrink the size of their wand, I'd have my perfect brow mascara.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Magic Revealed

A while ago, Beautylish kindly sent me this 15ml sample of Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream. I used it sparingly over the course of about a year and only recently finished the small pot. I had such a curiosity about this cream before I tried it and now that I have, I have mixed feelings. In short, I like it, but I probably wouldn't repurchase.

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Homosalate, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Ethylhexyl Salicylate, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, Octocrylene, Cetyl Alcohol, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, Phenoxyethanol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Steareth-21, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, Carbomer, Dimethiconol, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Chlorphenesin, Caprylyl Glycol, Xanthan Gum, Hydrolyzed Viola Tricolor Extract, Allantoin, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Disodium EDTA, Tocopheryl Acetate, Camellia Oleifera Seed Oil, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil, Rosa Damascena Flower Water, Sodium Hydroxide, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Michelia Alba Leaf Oil, Sodium Lactate, Coco-Glucoside, PEG-8, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tocopherol, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Plumeria Rubra Flower Extract, Ascorbic Acid, Citric Acid, Nicotiana Sylvestris Leaf Cell Culture, Linalool, Citronellol, Geraniol.

First, let's talk the price. This stuff ain't cheap. On the Australian Charlotte Tilbury website (there are yet to be any physical stockists of the brand in this country), it retails for $125 for 50ml. Meaning that 15ml pot was $37.50 in value. The price is certainly a major deterrent to repurchasing. In that price bracket, we're talking luxury face creams. I don't think I've spent more than $50 on a face cream, so double to triple that is not something I've entertained. The ~$50 face creams I have tried (e.g. Trilogy Rosapene Night Cream, Clarins Multi-Active Night) have been perfectly adequate for me. I haven't had any particular curiosity about whether a vastly pricier product would also be vastly superior in performance.

The legend with Magic Cream, long before Charlotte Tilbury set up her own line of products, was that as a makeup artist, she mixed up her own face cream that she would slather onto her models' faces backstage before she made them up at the fashion shows. This mysterious, self-concocted cream was supposedly so revitalising and transformative on the models' tired, dull, in-need-of-TLC skin that it was dubbed the "magic cream". Of course when Charlotte Tilbury established her brand, it had to be one of the star products of her range.

The first thing I noticed about Magic Cream was that it was distinctly white (perhaps due to the presence of SPF). The second was that it was thick and a little hard in texture. The third was that upon contact with the skin, it melted and spread out easily, becoming quite greasy to the touch. The skin was left with a slight white cast once the product had been rubbed in, but in a way that was brightening to the complexion. It's not one of those creams that's immediately soothing and gives the skin the sensation of having a big drink of water. It's too emollient and heavy for that. Having said that, it doesn't leave your skin like a total greaseball. There is a certain refinement to the way it's absorbed into the skin even for a rich cream. Once absorbed, it reminds me a lot of Alpha-H Daily Essential Moisturiser. It's not a scented product and the only smell it has is really of sunscreen.

Due to the presence of SPF, I've only used Magic Cream in the day. It sits well under makeup and despite its richness doesn't break up foundation or anything like that. On bare skin, it does give a bit of a plumping effect due to all the oils it's delivering to the skin. It's certainly not an oil-controlling cream, so I don't know how oily skin types would fare with this. On my normal to dry skin, it was on the heavy side and only something I'd reach for occasionally, when I felt my skin required it. It wouldn't be something I'd be inclined to use daily.

At $125, I much prefer Eve Lom Brightening Cream ($144 for 50ml) for everyday use, my jar of which I've tragically just used up. It's a lot more pleasant to use (the jammy rose scent is gorgeous), it's comforting on the skin, not greasy but still hydrating, great under makeup, and I actually feel like it improves my skin. Not things I can say unequivocally about Magic Cream.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Split Devotion

Long time, no blog. SORRY. There's no excuse, except I had a major life change so a lot of time and energy in the past few months was spent attending to that. Now things have settled down a bit, so I can finally update this ol' thing. I thought I'd ease back into it with a review of my newest makeup acquisition, Becca x Jaclyn Hill Champagne Splits Shimmering Skin Perfector Mineral Blush Duo in Prosecco Pop/Amaretto. When the Jaclyn Hill Champagne Collection Face Palette came out, I instantly wished they would release Prosecco Pop separately. I already had Champagne Pop, and of the three blushes, only Amaretto appealed to me as a potential purchase, so I passed on the palette. When I saw these split plans with the two shades I wanted in the palette, I didn't hesitate. In general, I've been very restrained with the skin care and makeup additions, but I still think there's merit in being excited about a product and buying nice things for the sake of it.

I bought my split pan in the city Sephora store. I believe it was $65. The Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed portion (3.69g) is slightly less product than the Mineral Blush (4.25g) section. Doesn't really bother me, as I can't imagine using up either. I prefer having smaller pans but more variety, than a huge amount of a single product. The standalone Champagne Pop highlighter is 8g, I've had it since September last year and I've only made a shallow dent about the surface area of my index finger.

I've been using Prosecco Pop/Amaretto religiously since I bought it six weeks ago. Especially Prosecco Pop, which I'm enjoying quite the love affair with. I prefer it to Champagne Pop, though they are super similar. I sometimes find the reflection of Champagne Pop to be too white/pearly, but Prosecco Pop is a warm yellow gold through and through. It's bronzier, a little darker, and screams of J-Lo glow and summer.

I find the texture and quality of Prosecco Pop to be basically identical to Champagne Pop. I haven't noticed any discrepancies simply because of the split pan format. I can't comment on the Mineral Blush since Amaretto is my first experience with the formula. It is a drier texture reminiscent of NARS blushes. My preferred brush to apply Amaretto has been Wayne Goss Brush 14 or Morphe E4, while I've almost been exclusively using the Morphe M501 for Prosecco Pop.

Becca Prosecco Pop

l-r: Becca Prosecco Pop, Becca Champagne Pop, theBalm Mary-Lou Manizer

As the swatch shows, Champagne Pop is more orange than Prosecco Pop, which is more yellow. Champagne Pop also has a more white gold finish than Prosecco Pop which is more uniform in colour composition. theBalm Mary-Lou Manizer is a lot lighter and more of a pale white gold.

Becca Amaretto

l-r: Becca Amaretto Pop, Too Faced Baby Love, NARS Madly, Clinique Nude Pop

Amaretto appears quite brown in the pan, but applies more of a terracotta peach. Next to Too Faced Love Flush Blush in Baby Love, it's considerably more orange. Baby Love is distinctly more of a cool-toned pink. NARS Madly is closer, but more tan/brown and not as warm. Clinique Cheek Pop in Nude Pop has a similar undertone but is lighter, not as intense, and with a more satin finish than the matte Amaretto.

Overall, highly recommended. The idea of combining a coveted blush and highlighter in one compact is brilliant and when well executed like this one is, great bang for your buck. If I didn't have a full size Champagne Pop already, I probably would've snapped up Champagne Pop/Flowerchild as well.
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