Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Crystals and Jam

Following my review of Get Your Number from Mariah Carey's first collaboration with OPI, I'm finally posting about another polish from the Liquid Sand minis set I was given for my birthday last March, Stay the Night. Despite looking moody and alluring in the bottle, a jet black base packed with gleaming cranberry glitter, most swatches I'd seen were a letdown. It resembled red-flecked pebbly tar, like charred muck stuck onto the nails with generic sparkly bits peeking through.

With Stay the Night, I'd have to wholeheartedly agree with Cassie's review that only loads of topcoat salvages things. One coat isn't even enough to bring the polish alive, I find I need at least two. Even then, it's still relatively bumpy and uneven in texture. The actual look however, is transformed from ugly and dull to eye-catching and complex, like crushed up ruby crystals in semi-set black jam. The contrast between the colourful, dense glitter and the dark base is amped up, accentuating the appearance of partially translucent layers that give the illusion of depth. The effect was enough for me to describe it as "alarmingly pretty" the first time I wore it, particularly in direct sunlight.

Monday, July 7, 2014

June Favourites

I did a lot more cooking/eating and obsessing over clothing (unusual for me) than indulging in makeup in June, which probably accounts for the lack of posts during the month. Having the house to myself as my parents were overseas also meant exploring my more domestic side, sometimes to laughable results, sometimes in ways that were pleasantly surprising. I can now pan fry a salmon fillet skillfully enough that I wouldn't want to order it at a restaurant. On the other hand, I still can't bake anything successfully the first time. The oven is a temperamental beast.

Chloé Love, Chloé
I don't think I could have anticipated just how much I love this fragrance. It's not like anything from the fruity or floral family that I traditionally gravitate toward. It's distinctly powdery and soapy, but sophisticated, feminine, warm and enveloping. It wears extremely well in colder weather. In the summer, it might be a tad overpowering mixed with heat and humidity. The lasting power is incredible which is always a big plus.

Paddywax Gardenia & Tuberose Jar Candle
I can't even tell you how good this candle smells. If you enjoy gardenia scents that lean a little on the green side, you need this candle in your life. The scent fills the entire room and the wax burns forever. I debated for months whether to buy this after first stumbling upon it at a gift shop last December, but I'm so glad I ended up purchasing it. One of my absolute favourite candle discoveries.

Too Faced Chocolate Bar Eyeshadow Palette
I told myself repeatedly I didn't need this. That I had enough eyeshadows. That I probably already had all the colours in the palette already. When it first came out, I was disinterested and determined not to fall for the hype. But we all know how the story ends — with me forking out $68.95 at Kit Cosmetics one weekend. But you know what? I don't regret it. Yes, some of the colours have annoying fallout (Gilded Ganache, Black Forest Truffle), they're not uniformly smooth and pigmented, I'd rarely wear some of the shades (Strawberry Bon Bon, Candied Violet) and I probably don't need two massive highlighting pans, but overall, this palette has impressed and delighted me. My newest favourite eyeshadow combination is Crème Brûlée (such a standout, slightly dirty yellow gold) and Hazelnut, though I appreciate the inclusion of versatile matte shades for less shimmery options.

Bourjois Little Round Pot Blush in Rose Éclat
While rounding up my top autumn/winter blushes, I rediscovered this little gem from Bourjois. I'd previously overlooked it in favour of other shades of the round pot blushes like Rose D'Or and Rose Coup de Foudre, but I've been reaching for Rose Éclat in the mornings to add some much needed life to my pastier-than-usual complexion. This one has just the right amount of warmth and rosiness without bordering on being too red/ruddy or fuchsia/cool-toned.

e.l.f. Studio Blush Brush
Most of my other well-loved blush brushes like the Ecotools by Alicia Silverstone Blush Brush or Real Techniques Multi Task Brush are round and fluffy, but this one provides a useful point of difference. With its significantly smaller size and flatter shape, it's excellent at placing your blush exactly where you want it, avoiding spreading colour over too large a surface and overdoing the intensity. Although it's quite flat, it still blends well and diffuses pigmented blushes with ease. At $8, you won't be breaking the bank.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Fall Flush

Seasonal makeup can be a little clichéd (summer's all about bronzed, glowy skin and brights, winter is matte textures and darker, moodier colours), but part of me always looks forward to the weather cooling down and the days getting shorter just to bring out my autumnal blushes, lipsticks and nail polishes. Last year, I loved the trend of wine/dark berry lips, but lately I've been itching to bring out the more plummy and rosy blushes in my stash that mimic the flush of briskly walking in the chill.

l-r:Benefit Dallas, Rimmel Genuine Plum, NARS Sin, Bourjois Rose Éclat

Benefit Dallas
I've always associated Dallas with cooler weather as I find it a bit too dark and brown-toned for summer. This is one of those blushes I always wonder why I don't wear more often each time I reach for it. It looks a bit blah in the pan, but I think the colour really suits Asian skin tones and the rosy tan shade gives a subtle sculpting effect while adding a touch of luminosity to the complexion. It almost doubles up as a wintry bronzer while the colour remains relatively neutral (think NARS Douceur), but still earthy and enlivening.

Rimmel Lasting Finish Soft Colour Mono Powder Blush in Genuine Plum (170)
This was a blush I purchased without having access to a tester because I loved how it looked in the pan. It was the most pure, medium-toned, slightly purplish but bright berry colour that just screamed autumn. On my cheeks, I find it fairly similar to NARS Angelika, except that it's matte, slightly darker and more fuchsia. I'm usually not partial to these kinds of darker, berry pinks, but Genuine Plum is such a quintessential autumnal colour that there's definitely room for it in my blush drawer.

One of the most famed blushes from NARS, I wanted to love Sin but I really struggle to make it work for me. It is the single most pigmented blush I own, and not in a good way. I need only the lightest touch and furious blending to avoid the appearance of muddy, bruised cheeks. I was hoping that the distinctly purple tone and gold shimmer would elevate Sin to something special, but to the degree I have to blend it, the shimmer's mostly lost and it just looks like an ordinary berry red. Lasting power however is excellent, consistent with my experience of NARS blushes in general.

Bourjois Little Round Pot Blush in Rose Éclat (15)
Less reddy pink/fuchsia than Rimmel Genuine Plum, Rose Éclat is like a combination of Genuine Plum and Benefit Dallas. It still has a bit of that burnished, warm, earthy quality that autumnal blushes are known for, but it's a bit more rosy-neutral and brown than something more berry or mauve/purplish. The texture with this baked blush is slightly patchy and on the dry side, not as smooth or pigmented as the previous three. There is a barely detectable shimmer running through but it's predominately matte.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Custard Cover

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer seemed slated to be perpetually out of stock. Every time I stepped into Mecca Cosmetica and enquired about it, I left empty-handed. When I finally managed to take home a tube after months of intermittent searching, rather than feeling triumphant, I was almost underwhelmed. I mean, how good could a concealer really be that justified that kind of persistence in tracking it down?

One of the major selling points of the Radiant Creamy Concealer was surprisingly, the price. It retails for $35 at Mecca Cosmetica, which isn't that far off the US price of $29 (with tax and currency conversion, it's almost the same). I'm not sure why NARS has decided to price the concealer the way it has, but I'm hardly complaining. In comparison, NARS Sheer Glow is $68 here compared with $45 in the US, while an eyeshadow duo is a whopping $55 compared with $35.

For the longest time, I convinced myself I needed the second lightest shade Vanilla, but I finally came to my senses and accepted I'm not as pale as I want to be, so Custard it was. The reality is I fall somewhere between those two shades, but I suppose with concealer, I'd rather go for something slightly darker than lighter. I don't use concealer to brighten any darkness under the eyes (which Vanilla might be a better choice for), but mainly to cover up blemishes or redness. I find Custard matches well with NARS Sheer Glow in Fiji. If I opt for a paler base (like when I mix a bit too much of CoverGirl Outlast Stay Fabulous 3 in 1 Foundation in Buff Beige with Rimmel Wake Me Up Foundation in Soft Beige) and don't blend the concealer well enough with the surrounding skin, the mismatch between the two can be obvious, particularly in natural daylight.

As for the actual product, it does live up to the hype. Maybelline Fit Me Concealer in Sand is a decent drugstore dupe (very similar packaging and texture), but the NARS is superior in terms of coverage and longevity. What I love most about the Radiant Creamy Concealer is that you can dab it onto problem areas with your fingers and it doesn't immediately smear and smudge all over the place. I find with other cheaper concealers like the Maybelline Fit Me or Rimmel Wake Me Up Concealer, I have to take extra care and usually use a brush to lightly stipple over my spots/scarring so that the product evenly covers and disguises the blemish. With the NARS, the concealer covers at first instance and adheres to the skin even when you dab over it. It sets well and lasts the whole day.

You only need a small amount each time, so I imagine the tube lasting quite a while. A few touches of the Radiant Creamy Concealer instantly rescues skin that looks a bit rough and in need of some perfecting. Even placed over foundation that's faded and slipped off at the end of the day, it doesn't look cakey. A new makeup bag staple.