Sunday, March 27, 2016

Current Makeup Menu

I've been super lazy with my makeup lately. I've also decided to stop doing regimented monthly favourites posts and instead do ad hoc posts of the products I've been reaching for whenever an update might be of interest. Most mornings during the past couple of weeks, I've adhered to a fairly pared down routine (from my previous standards at least). A lot of it is motivated by the desire to stay in bed for as long as possible, which naturally cuts into the time I have to get ready.

After washing and moisturising my face (I've been loving a sample of the hydrating but not oily Innisfree Perfect 9 Repair Lotion), I start with the eyes. While usually one of the most enjoyable aspects of makeup for me, I've ditched all my powder eyeshadows or need for brushes in favour of one product only: KIKO Long Lasting Stick Eyeshadow. I alternate between two shades, Rosy Brown (for a more cool-toned, mauvey taupe option) and Golden Brown (more neutral bronze). Touted as a dupe for By Terry Ombre Blackstar Cream Eyeshadow, these are quite simply the best shadow stick I've come across. The quality is superb for the price. They're strongly pigmented, very metallic but not gritty or patchy, long lasting, easy to apply and blend, and most importantly, flattering on the eyes. So quick, fuss-free and reliable. I just whack some onto the lid and blend out the edges with my finger. I also run the stick along the lower lash line. It takes about 30 seconds per eye and the eyeshadow is done.

l-r: KIKO Long Lasting Stick Eyeshadow in Rosy Brown (05), Golden Brown (06)

Next is eyeliner. I've been trying out the affordable Essence Eyeliner Pen Waterproof which I used my $5 birthday voucher from Priceline towards. It's only so-so. The colour is pleasantly black, but it's the shape of the tip that doesn't work for me. It doesn't give me enough control when extending the line and drawing the flick. It's more of a hard felt tip rather than a flexible but firm thin brush like my superior Japan-made Creer Beaute La Rose de Versailles liquid eyeliner, which I'd use all the time except that it's running out. The Essence also dries in a way that if you go over the dried eyeliner, it'll flake off.

After eyeliner, I follow with whatever mascara I have available. The two I've been reaching for are in their final stages and nothing to write home about. I'm more or less waiting for them to be finished entirely before cracking open one of the many brand new mascaras I have waiting in the wings.

Next comes skin. Some days if I'm interested in an injection of extra glow, I'll apply a small amount of MAC Strobe Cream all over like I would a luminising primer. I'm having something of a lovefest with Strobe Cream at the moment and think it's incredibly underrated despite its cult product status. The colour is beautiful, the texture is great, it's so multifunctional and compared with other liquid highlighting products like Chanel Le Blanc de Chanel Sheer Illuminating Base or Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Liquid, it's not that expensive. I find applying Strobe Cream to my bare face before foundation results in a more natural, subtle effect than if I mixed it into my foundation. I am slightly paranoid that smoothing it over my nose and forehead has a tendency to break me out, but it seems fine over the cheeks.

Recently, I've been sticking to one pump of Dior Diorskin Nude BB Creme in Fair (02) mixed with a drop of Tarte Maracuja Oil applied with my Zoeva Silk Finish brush for my base. I don't know if the texture of my Dior is a bit off, but I don't really like it. It feels slightly moussey and thicker in consistency than most liquid foundations I'm used to. Coverage is definitely on the light side, which wouldn't be too much of a problem if my skin was in good shape, but lately I've had some dryness, redness and break outs which call for concealer after the foundation is applied. Otherwise, you can see most of the underlying blemished and uneven skin peeking through. Even with the drop of oil mixed in and thoroughly buffed in with my brush, the BB Creme doesn't meld or sink completely into my skin. I do notice, especially if I examine my skin closely in the mirror, parts that still sit on top of the skin, especially around the nose. The finish isn't as brightening or dewy as I'd like, though it's not exactly matte. It's just a bit flat, albeit "natural" (though the colour is a little too pink-toned for me). Additionally, as the day goes on, the foundation starts to break up on my skin, especially visible on the cheeks. It's not as effectively skin-perfecting, illuminating or easy to work with than the much cheaper Garnier BB Cream Miracle Skin Perfector Combination to Oily Skin. However, I'm persevering with the Dior because it was pricey and if I don't force myself to use it, it'll never be touched.

Last we have another favourite aspect of makeup for me apart from the eyes — blush. The two I've been loving lately have been Benefit Rockateur and Max Factor Creme Puff Blush in Nude Mauve. The Benefit is a brightening, shimmery pinky peach that's more girly, summery and warming, whereas the plummy brown, satin-finish Nude Mauve is more cool-toned, sculpting and polished. Nude Mauve is a versatile hybrid bronzer and blush that I can just whack on without being concerned about placement or overdoing it, since the colour payoff is on the subdued side. It has a softer baked texture and blends without any issues. I'm still loving my Wayne Goss Brush #14 for blush, though I've also been reaching for my angled Zoeva Luxe Sheer Cheek Brush.

l-r: Benefit Rockateur, Max Factor Nude Mauve

Depending on time constraints and whether I feel like it, I'll highlight and/or powder after blush. I did go through a phase of preferring certain colour-shifting eyeshadows (Kat Von D Metal Crush Eyeshadow in Thunderstruck, Makeup Geek Duochrome Eyeshadow in I'm Peachless) to dedicated powder highlighters for my cheek highlight, but I've found the texture of them usually isn't as forgiving on the skin. They're not as easily blended and can emphasise pores and sit on the skin in an obvious manner. I've been mostly using Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Champagne Pop (can't beat the colour and the BAM! HIGHLIGHT effect) or Dior Diorskin Poudre Shimmer in Amber Diamond (probably the most refined highlighter I have, along with Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow), applied with a Burberry No.09 Socket Line Brush. Powder has been Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Powder in N°20 which I actually really like, except I suspect that might have more to do with the fact it's Chanel than anything else.

As a final step, I'll put on some lip balm. I do this for an odd purpose — it's not to hydrate my lips, but rather, to get rid of any foundation on my lips. I'll remove the lip balm with a tissue which removes any foundation. I've been rediscovering the cult product Lucas' Papaw Ointment. My tube is God knows how old, but it still works perfectly. The shine it gives the lips is super pretty and it's an excellent multipurpose ointment that soothes, protects and moisturises.

Monday, March 14, 2016

High End Let Downs

Higher prices tend to command higher expectations, so it's more of a downer than usual when expensive products turn out to be disappointments. I don't like to keep any products I actively dislike, but when they cost a pretty penny, it's harder to bring myself to get rid of them. These six items mostly just take up space and spark the occasional moment of regret and annoyance when I see them.

Kevyn Aucoin The Sculpting Powder in Medium
I thought this would be the be all and end all of contouring powders. The price put me off, but after encountering many a rave and seeing The Sculpting Powder work its magic on people's faces, I bit the bullet. This doesn't look right on me. I think it suits pink-toned, pale complexions only. If you're more yellow and light-to-medium, it pulls very cool brownish grey (read: muddy). I've tried every brush under the sun, I've tried a light application, heavier application, different placement. It's not flattering or believable. It either is too subtle and therefore useless, or makes me look like I have a dirty stripe where I wish my cheekbone was. Swatches here.

MAC Eye Kohl in Powersurge

MAC Eye Kohl in Powersurge
There's nothing hugely offensive about this pencil eyeliner, except it's so unremarkable and overpriced for the quality. I was willing to pay a premium for the colour, but once I actually tried it on my lower lash line, I realised it wasn't anything special. A medium khaki-ish (greeny) gold. I have plenty of similar coloured eyeshadows which I could apply with a pencil brush to my lower lash line if I wanted identical effect. Pigmentation is not woeful, but could be better. The metallic quality is relatively subdued and not particularly intense or lustrous. The main problem is the texture. It's fairly hard, doesn't glide on and isn't that creamy. Lasting power is also extremely ordinary. There are SO many cheaper eyeliners that are superior in every respect (e.g. Savvy by DB Soft Glide Eyeliner, Kiko Glamorous Eye Pencil, Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal) that nothing can justify the $32 price tag for the MAC. I wish I'd bought another 217 Blending Brush instead.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Dim Light
I weep a little thinking about the $62 I bid farewell to when I bought this powder. I was expecting this to be a skin-perfecting finishing powder, but it's so BROWN and PINK and DARK that it's virtually unusable. It's not even something I can use to "warm up" or darken my skin if my foundation's too light, since it doesn't match my natural skin colour anyway. It's far too pink-toned. It also doesn't impart any brightening luminosity to my face except the subtlest whitish pearl. I more or less never reach for Dim Light since I have other powders that do the job I wanted it to (Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Powder, Guerlain Météorites Compact Light-Revealing Powder). I should've bought Diffused Light instead. Original review here.

Estée Lauder Sumptuous Extreme Lash Multiplying Volume Mascara
Granted, this was a magazine freebie, but I was super excited to try out a high end mascara since I don't tend to buy them. Sadly, this was a complete flop. This mascara did absolutely nothing for my lashes. No curl, no lift, no volume, no separation, no lengthening. All the times I've applied it, I've either hated it, or abandoned it mid-way to grab something that actually works.

l-r (top to bottom row): Caught in the Act Courtney, Feisty Felicia, Insane Jane, Bossy Bobbi, Makeout Mary, Just This Once Jamie, Mischievous Marissa, Tempting Tara, Devilish Danielle

theBalm Shady Lady Vol. 2
I truly dislike this palette. The first two darker shades with glitter (Caught in the Act Courtney and Feisty Felicia) are dry, patchy, poorly pigmented and have huge amounts of fall out. Some of the other shades (Mischievous Marissa, Tempting Tara, Devilish Danielle) are really powdery even if they have strong colour payoff. But the main problem with Shady Lady Vol. 2 is none of the colours are flattering on me. None. This isn't a palette I want to reach for. It's not a palette that houses colours I'm excited to use. Since it came into my possession, I don't think I've ever used it, except maybe the darker shades to deepen an eye look. Also, the shade names are gross (Makeout Mary? Just This Once Jamie??).

l-r (top to bottom row): In the Buff, Birthday Suit, Pink Cheeks, Pillow Talk, Like a Virgin, Satin Sheets, Unmentionables, Lap Dance, Stiletto

Too Faced Naked Eye Palette
I possibly dislike this palette more than Shady Lady Vol. 2, which is saying a lot. At least the eyeshadows in Shady Lady Vol. 2 are visible on my lids. Almost half of the shadows in Naked Eye are invisible, including all 3 of the larger pans. In the Buff, Birthday Suit, Pink Cheeks and Pillow Talk are rubbish. Maybe if you're very fair, they'll have some kind of effect, but on my light-to-medium (NC 20 to 25) skin, they're useless. (Looks like I'm not the only one that feels that way.) I bought Naked Eye early on in my "makeup journey", back when I didn't realise cool-toned eyeshadows and I don't mix. Lap Dance and Unmentionables swatch nicely, but are so dirty/ashy/muddy on my lids and drain my complexion. Satin Sheets is admittedly very pretty and super pigmented, but I wish it were more of a gold-pink rather than a bright white gold on me. Like a Virgin is the only shade I use in this whole palette, and even then, it's a cool-toned grey that isn't as flattering as a warmer brown shade with yellow or orange tones. Given I love both my other Too Faced (Chocolate Bar) palettes, Naked Eye seems especially a waste.
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