Saturday, December 23, 2017

Best of 2017

I haven't been inspired to do a yearly favourites in a couple of years, but felt motivated to put together something this year. Maybe because it dawned on me I've now been blogging for 6 years (craaaayyy, even with the significant drop in posts from 2016), maybe after reducing my exposure to a relentless reel of influencers' monthly favourites, hearing about what people have been enjoying and reaching for is genuinely interesting again, maybe because at the end of the day, I still just really like makeup, skin care, candles, fragrances, the whole shebang. I had a look through my blog posts, Instagram, and stuff lying around at home, and picked up the following 11 products as my standouts of 2017.

NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Abu Dhabi
Might as well say it. This is my favourite lip colour. The shade is perfection to me for a natural, beautifying, effortless pout. I even bought a backup because when you've found the one, you don't ever want to be without.

Revlon Ultra HD Matte Lipcolor in Seduction
A close second to Abu Dhabi, Seduction is a touch pinker and darker. Very similar texture, application and feel on the lips, which is to say it's soft, velvety, and gives the polish and relative longevity of a matte without sucking all the moisture from the lips. Full review here.

Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer in Bronzer
Haven't stopped using this since it came into my life. I went from skipping/total disinterest in bronzer for at least half a year (only using blush or a bronzer/blush hybrid like NARS Madly or Max Factor Creme Puff Blush in Nude Mauve) to using this with my Charlotte Tilbury Powder & Sculpt brush daily. It's so smooth, virtually blends itself, the shade isn't too dark so it's tricky to work with but pigmented enough that definition is easy to achieve. The colour is just the right mix of warmth for that summery, healthy glow and shadow for a believable contour.

Clinique Cheek Pop in Nude Pop
Just the perfect, everyday, neutral peachy-nude blush. The cheek equivalent of NYX Abu Dhabi. Goes with everything, instantly lifts a dull, tired complexion and makes you look fresh and alive. Creamy, non-powdery, satin texture that looks lit-from-within. Works a treat with the Morphe E4 patted up and down the cheekbones and onto the apples of the cheeks.

Nudestix Magnetic Eye Color in Night
This is one of those somewhat boring, unsexy products that I use all the time and haven't encountered a better version of. A fat, jet black, matte crayon like this is a great tool for monolids since it can draw a thick line quickly. I first do a winged liner with a fine, felt tip/brush eyeliner like Maybelline HyperSharp Wing Liquid Liner, then use this when I want to thicken and even out the shape my eyeliner from the inner corner to the beginning of the wing, giving the appearance of more rounded, larger eyes. The staying power is absolutely phenomenal. On the couple of times I've been naughty and slept in my makeup, pretty much everything is gone the morning after but this.

Benefit Creaseless Cream Eyeshadow/Liner in My Two Cents
I've been eyeing Charlotte Tilbury Eyes To Mesmerise in Bette for forever, but why would I spend $44 (not even including shipping) on it when I have My Two Cents? This is the perfect shimmering goldy-bronze on light-to-medium skin tones. On days I wear contacts, this is my go-to cream shadow paired with Rimmel ScandalEyes Shadow Stick in Bad Girl Bronze. I even picked this My Two Cents/Bad Girl Bronze combo for my eye makeup to an interstate wedding. Never fails.

l-r: NYX Abu Dhabi, Revlon Seduction, Clinique Nude Pop, Benefit My Two Cents, Physicians Formula Bronzer, Nudestix Night

Laura Mercier Fall in Love Illuminator Collection
I've been meaning to do a review of this for ages, but since it was limited edition from late last year, I felt there was kind of no point. I thank my lucky stars every time I use this that I took the plunge and purchased it, because usually I shy away from expensive items. This houses 4 of their highlighters in the shades Indiscretion (rose gold), Addiction (more conventional yellow gold), Devotion (an icy purplish shade) and Seduction (bronze). I usually go for Indiscretion or Devotion, as Addiction is a bit boring to me (still beautiful though) and Seduction is way too dark for a highlighter (great for eyeshadow/workable as shimmery bronzer). They are a drier, more gelée type formula (what I recall/imagine ABH So Hollywood to be like), and don't emphasise skin texture or pores. They don't go on extremely blinding at first instance, so can be built up to desired intensity. Best of all, I really do like that there's a bit of glitter in the mix. I just think it makes the shades that touch more interesting and eye-catching.

l-r: Indiscretion, Addiction, Devotion, Seduction

Tarte Tartelette in Bloom
At the beginning of the year, I was debating between Tartelette in Bloom and Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance. The latter was sold out, so deciding which to buy came down to the one that wasn't out of stock. I ended up buying Modern Renaissance at the tail end of the year thinking I *needed* it, and now I can definitively say I prefer Tartelette in Bloom. Why? Simply, the colours. In the mornings when I'm doing my makeup for work, I don't really gravitate toward bright/dark pinks, reds and vibrant oranges. The rest of Modern Renaissance is also cool-toned (read: muddy and dull on my lids). But almost every shade in Tartelette in Bloom is flattering, office-friendly and foolproof. It's a complete palette with smooth, pigmented shadows that are a breeze to blend. Full review here.

Too Faced Hangover Primer
A fairly recent find given I only bought this in September, but I think I've finally found the primer for me. I don't think it does much in terms of oil control or improving longevity of your base, but it does create a more moisturised, plump, soothed canvas for your foundation to go on. On good skin days, coupled with this primer, my skin looks positively glowing and baby smooth. The coconut scent is delish, it's a pleasure to use and feels like a treat on the skin.

Crabtree & Evelyn Spiced Earl Grey Hand Therapy
Truly one of my favourite discoveries of 2017. The travel size lives in my makeup bag. I loved the tester so much in the shop I also bought the 100ml, but gifted that my mother. I'll have to resort to eBay to replenish my stock since this was sadly limited edition from last Christmas. I wish they would bottle the scent in a perfume. The smell is exactly as the name suggests. I didn't think earl grey in a hand cream could be done this right, but I'm happy to be proven wrong.

Gucci Bloom EDP
My current scent obsession. I can't even remember the last time I purchased a 100ml bottle of perfume (from a department store at that, not even Priceline/Chemist Warehouse/online), but it's a testament to how much I lurrrvee it. I also have the body lotion and rollerball, so I can live out my dreams and douse myself in the stuff. It's a somewhat old fashioned white floral that's been reimagined in a modern way. I like that it's not too dry or green on my skin, with a certain sweetness and creaminess that's been missing in other white florals I own (Estee Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia, Kai perfume oil). The dreamy ad campaign with Dakota Johnson, the millennial pink bottle, I'm a sucker for it all.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Brights and Vamps

NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencils have been on my radar for years, but they never seemed like an essential product I had to have. I had a somewhat disappointing experience with their Satin Lip Pencils, so I wasn't rushing to add more NARS lip pencils to my collection. Don't get me wrong, the quality is generally excellent, it's more the price and the shades I'm iffy about. Recently, I saw in Mecca Maxima a duo of travel-sized Velvet Matte Lip Pencils in Train Bleu and Intriguing for $28. Considering one 2.4g lip pencil is $39, and the minis were 1.8g each, the set represented far better value, plus you had more variety. I tried Train Bleu in the shop and really liked how it looked as a stain, so I researched my options if I wanted to purchase it and came across selling the Velvet Matte Lip Pencils for $26 each. (I just checked the website and Train Bleu is currently further discounted to $21.) I had a coupon code with Catch, so I ended up buying two lip pencils for $41. I would've preferred the two minis for $28, but I really wanted to order the shade Red Square along with Train Bleu as it's been on my wishlist since 2014.

l-r: Red Square, Train Bleu

Red Square is a bright, vivid, orangey red. Train Bleu is a vampy dark purple with burgundy tones. Both are non-staining (though Train Bleu sticks around longer than Red Square) and can be wiped off with just some lip balm and a tissue. Lasting power is not as good as a lip stain or liquid matte lipstick, but still better than a conventional lipstick.

l-r: Revlon Strawberry Suede, NARS Red Square, NARS Train Bleu, Revlon Black Cherry

l-r: Revlon Strawberry Suede, NARS Red Square

I'd long suspected Revlon Matte Lipstick in Strawberry Suede to be very similar to Red Square, and that hunch proved correct. Strawberry Suede is probably a touch pinker than the more orangey/fiery Red Square, but the tone and vibrancy is comparable. The Revlon is also a tad shinier in finish compared with the more matte NARS.

l-r: NARS Train Bleu, Revlon Black Cherry

I didn't have anything as similar to Train Bleu as I did Red Square, but Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Black Cherry probably comes the closest. Black Cherry is more glossy and not as pigmented as Train Bleu, plus more berry/burgundy red as opposed to blackened purple.

NARS Red Square

NARS Train Bleu (as a stain)

NARS Train Bleu

Red Square delivers a glamorous retro/supercharged summer look and applies very smoothly to the lips without accentuating texture or dryness, whereas Train Bleu does the complete opposite and highlights every dry patch that previously never existed. Despite the striking, gothy, nighttime colour, Train Bleu is patchy and tricky to apply evenly ... you need a steady hand and considerable patience to get it looking semi-decent. I do like how you can control how opaque and dark you want it to be. I much prefer it as a lighter stain, with the pencil dabbed onto the lips then the product blended with the finger. It looks far fresher and prettier against my complexion, and less harsh and intimidating that way.

Like the Satin Lip Pencils, I appreciate how little product is required for full pigmentation. You'd have to wear the pencil many times for it to reduce down to the point where it needs its first sharpening. I can't imagine how long it will take to use up, hence why the product contained in the minis would've been more than sufficient for me. At the discounted price I paid (just over $20 each), I don't have too many complaints, however I'd likely be singing a different tune if I paid the retail price of $39 for one.
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