Wednesday, May 20, 2015

ColourPop Curious

ColourPop is having a moment in the beauty world. After resisting for a while, inevitably, I reached a breaking point (probably around the time KathleenLights came out with her Where the Light Is set). I was uncharacteristically good and stuck with my self-imposed lip product ban, limiting myself to the Super Shock Shadows only. (Unfortunately, the new highlighters hadn't been released at that point, otherwise a couple definitely would've ended up in my cart.) The hardest part was of course, deciding which shades to order. After an eternity of Googling, reading blog posts and watching YouTube videos, I settled for Smash (satin), Amaze (metallic), So Quiche (metallic), Sequin (metallic) and Game Face (ultra metallic). I was contemplating Bill and Desert as well, but decided to omit both. My total order came to $43.91 USD ($58.78), of which a large chunk (we're talking $18.91 USD) was devoted to shipping. That's 75% of the total cost of the five shadows. Bummer.


Top row, then bottom row: Game Face, So Quiche, Amaze, Smash, Sequin






l-r: Smash, Amaze, So Quiche, Sequin, Game Face

Top to bottom: Game Face, Sequin, So Quiche, Amaze, Smash

l-r: Smash, Amaze, So Quiche, Sequin, Game Face

l-r: Smash, Amaze, So Quiche, Sequin, Game Face

Smash

Smash is a slightly dirty, slightly warm-toned, light goldy beige. On my lids, because it's not that much darker than my skin tone, it's barely detectable (even less so with glasses). On a paler person, I can picture this being an all-over lid staple, but on me, it's entirely wasted. It reminds me a little of Burberry Pale Barley, but Pale Barley is darker, cooler-toned, more grey/taupe with slight purplish tones in comparison. They do have a similar finish though, both with a subtly shimmering goldish overlay.

Amaze

Amaze was one of the shadows I was most looking forward to, but ultimately, it failed to excite. It's a light, ultra-reflective, shimmer-packed rose gold. The primary sheen it gives off is whitish/silvery, which I don't find flattering. Sheered out, it's almost intolerably glittery. Don't get it anywhere near your face unless you want the world's most sparkly highlighter. It's almost impossible to build up to full opacity, so I'd recommend it more as glitter top coat or dabbed on the centre of the lid for extra dimension and interest.

So Quiche

So Quiche is a dirty olive green base with purply-pink sparkles. I'm sure there's other colours of glitter in there, but purply-pink is the gist of it. With one swipe, it's not as strong in terms of pigmentation as the others. A sheerer application really brings out the beauty of the glitter (truly eye-catching and gorgeous), but doesn't give much definition or depth in terms of the base colour. Conversely, when built up, the green comes through stronger but a lot of the detail in the multi-coloured glitter is lost.

Sequin

Sequin is a super pigmented, super glittery, russet (orangey, pinky, coppery, reddish) stunner. I can thank Angela for introducing me to it. This is the only shade out of the 5 I bought that I can and do wear all over the lid, though it's not one to reach for if you're after subtlety.

Game Face

Game Face is a very warm, mid-tone, rich glistening bronze with a goldish, coppery lustre. To the uninitiated, this shade seemed to be a clear standout in the Super Shock Shadow range and the only one I didn't remotely hesitate to order. It's not so much shimmery as it is metallic. Pigmentation is excellent though oddly, I found it swatches better on the hand than when applied to the lids.


I've been playing with the shadows for around 3 weeks now and overall, I like them but I'm not completely won over. For me, the main problem is convenience and wearability. While the round white pots are certainly distinctive, the individual packaging of the shadows somehow makes me less inclined to reach for them. In their own containers, the lid of which you have to physically unscrew just to see and use the shadow, they're not as accessible compared with say, a quad or palette where everything is laid out in front of you, ready to be utilised.

While I painstakingly attempted to minimise disappointment in the shades I picked, some of them simply don't work for me the way I hoped. They're either not dark enough, oddly sheer and somewhat patchy despite strong pigmentation, difficult to layer and achieve full opacity, overly glittery (and this, coming from someone who wears shimmer/metallic finishes on a daily basis) or not the most flattering colour against my skin tone. The biggest success of the lot is probably Sequin. I could've done without Smash (Desert likely wouldn't have fared any better). Amaze is beautiful but a total glitterbomb, too light to be used over the lid and too reflective in the inner corner. So Quiche is pleasingly unique and I love the contrasting glitter and base, but it's the sheerest of the bunch and difficult to pull off. Game Face is an absolutely stunning shade but its beauty doesn't translate on the lids, where it appears borderline muddy, a bit too dark and too warm.

Much has been said about the unusual texture of these shadows. They're thin and emollient, but packed with pigment. They're definitely closer to a cream shadow than a powder, but at the same time, they're drier to the touch and not as wet and creamy as traditional cream shadows like the Maybelline Color Tattoos, Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadows or MAC Paint Pots. ColourPop recommends applying them with your fingers, and most reviews seem to agree. I wouldn't bother with brush unless it's a relatively stiff, flat, synthetic brush like the Ecotools Concealer Brush from their 5-Piece Bamboo Brush Set. On my non-oily monolids, I don't seem to experience any noticeable issues with wear time or creasing, though a primer underneath these shadows seems like a good idea to increase the vibrancy of the shadows, make them stay on longer and ensure they don't move around.

ColourPop advises that the lids on these shadows need to be secured tightly after each use. It makes me wonder what alchemy was involved in their formulation, to what degree they would change in pigmentation or texture naturally over time, and how long it'd take until things get really bad. It's not uncommon for certain cream shadows to dry out terribly after a year or so (my Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze is basically unusable now), but it seems they've been mindful to design the packaging in a way that reduces the chances of that happening.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Fruity Accent

With the recent release of 8 new shades of Clinique Cheek Pops (Heather Pop and Fig Pop are calling my name), my attention refocused on the original lineup. I'd previously overlooked the four existing shades as being too generic, but countless raves about the impeccable and unique formula encouraged me to have another look. Peach Pop seemed to be the most popular shade and the one I'd get the most wear out of, so it seemed to be the natural choice. These retail for $40 in Australia, but I purchased mine duty-free from Narita Airport for around $25.











l-r: NARS Deep Throat, Clinique Peach Pop, Hourglass Diffused Heat, theBalm FratBoy

I suspected I'd have a not insignificant number of similar blushes to Peach Pop, and sure enough I pulled out three near dupes. NARS Deep Throat does have more golden shimmer that's detectable on the skin. I don't reach for theBalm FratBoy very often, mainly because I'm not a huge fan of the overly powdery texture and I find it leaves much to be desired when it comes to wear time. It's also extremely pigmented and red-based, which leaves me running scared as I preferably want to avoid patchy, inflamed cheeks. Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Diffused Heat is the closest to Peach Pop colour-wise, though it has the addition of subtle pale yellow shimmer. It's softer and more powdery in texture than the Clinique, but similarly blends seamlessly into the skin and injects a healthy glow to the complexion.



Texture-wise, these Clinique Cheek Pops avoid any suggestion of powderiness and have zero fall out. I have heard them being described as somewhere between a powder and a cream, with a slight bounciness to them. They definitely have no wetness and aren't emollient like a cream blush, but they're not hard or dry in any way (unlike NARS blushes or Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blushes). They're dense to the touch but have a slight creaminess to them. You could definitely apply and blend the product with the fingers if no brush was around. Pigmentation is buildable and not as strong as you might think given how bright and colourful the blush looks in the pan. On the cheeks, there's no chalkiness or patchiness, and the product doesn't sit on top of the skin, but rather, sinks in and melds with your skin for a natural-looking, healthy flush. Lasting power is fairly good (it stays on for about three-quarters of the day) but not remarkable. I still find my Benefit, Hourglass and NARS blushes to wear longer.

Bonus points for the adorable, compact packaging that manages to make thick plastic encasing look refined and classy rather than cheap and nasty. The flower imprint is a cute touch that gives these blushes an instant visual signature. At $21 USD, these are also more affordably priced than comparable brands. I may or may not be mentally scheduling to add a couple more to my blush stash next time I'm in the States…

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Radiant Touch

In my last Korean Beauty Haul post, I mentioned YSL Le Teint Touche Éclat as my #1 foundation love of the moment, so I thought it would be fitting to dedicate an entire post to it. I've been using it basically non-stop for 3 weeks now and it's yet to let me down. Part of me always regretted not buying it duty-free when I was at Narita Airport in September last year, so when a friend was holidaying in Japan recently, I asked that she buy a bottle for me. YSL Le Teint Touche Éclat retails for a ridiculous $85 in Australia, $57 USD (about $72 pre-tax) or ‎£31.50 ($61), but I paid about $56 for this bottle from Japan. That's probably at the upper limit of what I'd ordinarily be willing to pay for a foundation, but I'd already tried it on a couple of times before and liked the result, so it seemed like a safe investment.






I opted for the shade B40 as it seemed to be a good match for between NC 20 and NC 25. Now I'm thinking whether I should've opted for BD40 instead. YSL Le Teint Touche Éclat comes in 3 different undertones: BR for pink, B for neutral and BD for yellow. B40 isn't a 100% match for me by any means (it leans more pinky brown than I'd like), but at the same time, BD40 seemed slightly lighter than B40 and I wasn't sure if that would've been an issue. In any event, B40 — while not perfect — is certainly good enough, and any mismatch isn't glaring or problematic enough to detract from my enjoyment of the foundation.


YSL Le Teint Touche Éclat in B40

l-r: Benefit "Cheers to Me" Champagne, NARS Fiji, YSL B40, Make Up For Ever 118

You can see that B40 is distinctly more orangey than some other foundations I frequently use. I already thought Benefit Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow in "Cheers to Me" Champagne was one of the warmer and darker foundations in my stash, but B40 looks to be darker and more golden brown still. NARS Sheer Glow in Fiji and Make Up For Ever HD Foundation in 118 are both lighter and more yellow-toned.


A "before and after", if you will. I applied a light layer of product mostly to my chin area and assembled side by side shots to show the coverage and finish of the foundation compared with bare skin. I'm not sure if you can tell, but I can definitely see in the photo on the right the point where I stopped applying/blending the foundation onto my cheek (I was only intending to demonstrate the effect of the foundation on the central lower half of my face). There's an area that's slightly more orange and darker than the more neutral and paler neighbouring skin, which shows how B40 is a bit off the mark for me.


My chin is the most problematic area for me in terms of small bumps, scarring, and uneven pigmentation and texture. The foundation isn't heavy and painted on in the slightest, but rather, makes my skin still look like skin while brightening the complexion, providing light-to-medium coverage and diffusing the appearance of imperfections. One pump is just the right amount of product to do my whole face.

YSL Le Teint Touche Éclat is extremely comparable to Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum. To me, the two are very, very similar. I'd say the Bourjois is probably a bit dewier and weaker in staying power, but it still manages to mirror the best aspects of the YSL. Both foundations are particularly kind to dry skin, which I strongly appreciate, especially coming into winter. They're hydrating foundations that camouflage or alleviate dry patches rather than accentuating or exacerbating them.

The consistency of Le Teint Touche Éclat is somewhat serum-like in that it feels weightless, melds seamlessly into the skin, and is on the thinner side (though by no means runny or watery). The finish it gives reflects its high price point and makes this foundation worth the money for me — radiance-boosting, skin-perfecting, soft-focus, but still natural and not at all mask-like. It also doesn't leave me unbearably shiny throughout the day, though I do usually blot at the 2 hour mark like I do with all my foundations, focusing on my T-zone which can get overly sheeny. If paired with a primer like Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer, oil control is even less of an issue. While coverage does fade a little by the end of the day, especially since I don't use face primers or setting sprays, most of it's still on and it wears off in a natural, non-cakey manner that doesn't emphasise pores or dry out the skin (something I've started noticing with my previous everyday foundation Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua now that the weather's colder and I'm sitting in a dehydrating air-conditioned office all day).

I initially was applying YSL Le Teint Touche Éclat with the Zoeva Silk Finish from the Rose Golden Luxury Set, but switched to my trusty Real Techniques Multi Task Brush and haven't looked back. I definitely prefer a softer, fluffier brush over a denser, firmer buffing brush. It's less work, feels nicer and there's less tugging on the skin, but it distributes and blends the product into the skin just as effectively. Set with a layer of Guerlain Météorites Compact Light-Revealing Powder using my ultra soft IT Cosmetics Live Beauty Fully Complexion Powder Brush, and I've been very happy with my foundation routine of late.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Korean Beauty Haul

This one was a long time coming. I've been very keen to try out more Korean makeup and skin care, especially with the advent of the newest "it" product: cushion compacts. My Queen Lisa Eldridge kicked things off, but it was watching this video from Shaaanxo that finally pushed me over the edge. Right after watching her video, I placed an order. I bought everything from Beauty Net Korea since that's where Shannon shops from (plus she said the shipping was fast).

When a colleague from work recently vacationed in South Korea, she told me that it was a beauty lover's heaven. Rows upon rows of dedicated beauty and skin care stores that one could easily spend days immersed in. I'm almost afraid to ever go there knowing any travel companion would probably want to slaughter me by the end of our trip. That's if they could ever drag me out of the shops.



I probably spent at least one whole hour trawling through the website, figuring out what to buy. I had never tried any of the products before, so everything was a blind buy. In the end, I purchased (all prices are in US dollars):

  • Innisfree Water Glow Cushion in True Beige (#23) ($22.49)
  • BBIA Downy Cheek in Downy Lavender (#4) ($6.29)
  • Etude House Bling Bling Eye Stick in Little Bear Star (#10) ($5.99)
  • Holika Holika Jewel Light Marble Cushion Eyes in Orange Cappuccino (#4) and Brownie Brown (#5) ($7.99 each)
  • Skin Food Black Sugar Mask Wash Off ($10.49)
  • Tony Moly Tomatox Magic Massage Pack ($10.54)

For some reason, they gave me a 10% "membership discount" so the total came to $64.66 USD. All up I paid $87.78 via PayPal for 7 items. Shipping took between 2 to 3 weeks, so not what I'd call speedy. But passable for free delivery.

I was looking forward to receiving the fabled shit-tonne of samples that come with a Korean beauty haul (especially since I made a fairly large order by my own standards), but I was somewhat disappointed to get a few tiny sachets of stuff that didn't particularly interest me. Maybe a contributing factor was I had the parcel shipped to my dad's work address, so I received unisex/male-oriented samples. The best of the lot was the Tony Moly Banana Hand Milk sample. Nice texture and truly smells of bananas. A+ for novelty.

Now that I've had a good play with everything, I'd say my order was only about 60% successful. There's nothing that I super love, a boo-boo from the vendor, and one MASSIVE fail on my part.


These Holika Holika Jewel Light Marble Cushion Eyes were the main reason I was compelled to place an order. When I saw Shaaanxo rave about them (describing them as "phenomenal", "not even showing up as beautiful on [her] hand as they do in real life" and likening them to Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill shadows), I was overcome by NEED. Unfortunately, I don't think I share Shannon's enthusiasm. They're fine and all, but nothing special. The thickish plastic packaging is adequate but still feels and looks on the cheap side. The entire chunk of shadow in my #4 came dislodged from its pan and was stuck to the lid, so I had to manually press it back into the pan.

These have a very smooth, creamy but not dense and wet, cushiony, emollient but not greasy, silky texture. I find the pigmentation does need to be built up as it's easy to sheer out to the point it becomes mostly whitish shimmer. The glitter in them does flash different colours up close, but I don't know if it's that apparent on the lids.

Holika Holika Jewel Light Marble Cushion Eyes in Brownie Brown (#5)

Brownie Brown looks relatively cool-toned on me with hints of taupe and pewter, which I'm not overly thrilled about. I much prefer warmer tones on my eyes as I find them easier to wear and more flattering with my skin tone. It reminded me a lot of Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze, except Bad to the Bronze is more metallic than shimmery, with more intense pigmentation and lasting power, and perhaps slightly more neutral.

Holika Holika Jewel Light Marble Cushion Eyes in Orange Cappuccino (#4)

Though it's not a usual choice for me, I'm a bit happier with Orange Cappuccino. This one seems more eye-catching and unique than the usual bronzes and browns that dominate my eyeshadow collection. It's a very spring/summer shade that I can imagine paired with bronzer and a bright lip (this tutorial by Karima McKimmie, where she uses the similar-looking MAC Paint Pot in Coral Crepe, comes to mind).

l-r: Orange Cappuccino, Brownie Brown

l-r: Orange Cappuccino, Brownie Brown

l-r: Urban Decay Chopper, Holika Holika Orange Cappuccino, Holika Holika Brownie Brown, Maybelline Bad to the Bronze

l-r: Urban Decay Chopper, Holika Holika Orange Cappuccino, Holika Holika Brownie Brown, Maybelline Bad to the Bronze

Innisfree Water Glow Cushion in True Beige (#23)




Of course I couldn't make a Korean beauty order without placing one of these into my cart. Beauty Net Korea stocked a few brands offering cushion compacts, but for some reason I was drawn to Innisfree. I really don't know why, especially considering it was one of the pricier options on the website.

I did my requisite preliminary research before putting the Water Glow Cushion (SPF50+/PA+++) in True Beige (#23) into my cart. True Beige was the darkest colour, and despite reading a review that specifically estimated it to match NC 15, I went full steam ahead anyway. The darkest shade out of three shades only matching NC 15? That couldn't possibly be right, I told myself. Surely it would be at least NC 20. Ideally, between NC 20 and NC 25 which is where I sit.

FAIL.

This is way too light for me. Not wearable. The only way I can make it work is if I go in with Chanel Soleil Tan de Chanel Bronzing Makeup Base over my entire face with something like the Ecotools Retractable Kabuki Brush. Then what's the point? I can never judge the cushion on its own merits when I'm effectively covering it with a totally different product. The whole process of using the included sponge to apply my base, then carefully and diligently buffing cream bronzer all over takes about 5 times longer than applying a liquid foundation that actually matches me with my Real Techniques Multi Task Brush. No thanks.

As for the product itself, I'm not won over. In line with the Korean beauty ethos of youthful, dewy skin, I was expecting almost intolerable levels of glow, bordering on shininess (or as Lisa E. observed, "gwang"), but the result was far from it. Honestly, more than anything, it reminded me so much of Jouer Matte Moisture Tint in Linen. A foundation I recently chucked in the bin because a) I almost never used it b) it was too light for me (had to also bronze with the Chanel) c) it always felt like it dried up my skin and highlighted any dry patches or areas of uneven texture d) I disliked the matte finish e) the packaging said it expired in September 2014, possibly due to the inclusion of sunscreen.

No doubt this cushion will eventually suffer the same fate as the Jouer. That, or I'll try to give it away to a paler-skinned friend. But seriously, I did not get dewiness or hydration from it, contrary to what a name like "Water Glow" would suggest. I get much more of that with my Western foundations, like Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum or my #1 foundation love of the moment, YSL Le Teint Touche Éclat.



I was sent the wrong BBIA Downy Cheek cream blush (Downy Peach rather than Downy Lavender). I would normally select a shade like Downy Peach, but I specifically attempted to venture out of my comfort zone by picking a milky purple which seemed slightly more editorial/experimental. I guess this is the universe's way of telling me to stick with what I know?

I contacted Beauty Net Korea who were apologetic and offered to send me the correct shade or refund my money. I replied and requested the first option but never received a further response or confirmation the right product has been shipped. I guess I can only wait and see if a package shows up eventually.


l-r: Stila Gerbera, BBIA Downy Peach, Revlon Pinched

Predictably, Downy Peach is very similar to cream blushes in my stash. Colour-wise, it's a cross between Stila Convertible Color in Gerbera and Revlon Photo Ready Cream Blush in Pinched. Gerbera is more pink but a similar lightness to Downy Peach. Pinched is lighter in colour, sheerer, less pink, with a subtle golden sheen. Texture wise, it's thinner and more emollient than the Stila Convertible Colors, which are thicker and creamier. They're closer in feel and consistency to Illamasqua Cream Blushers. Downy Peach blends seamlessly and evenly into the skin and is a complexion-beautifying bright-but-pastel colour.



For something called the Skin Food Black Sugar Mask, this smells nothing like its name would suggest. If you were hoping for a scrumptious raw sugar scent, prepare yourself for disinfectant lemon instead. Fragrance aside, the mask is effectively exfoliating. The instructions say to apply to a damp, cleansed face and leave on for 10-15 minutes. Your skin feels very soft when you're washing it off, though I can't help but feel slight paranoia that the granulated texture might be too harsh.



The Tony Moly Tomatox Magic Massage Pack stung like a mofo when I applied it. I endured the pain and after a few minutes, it subsided. It has a borderline-cloying light floral scent which reminded me of Pond's night cream or something. Apparently it can be used as both a mask or cream, though given the stinging, I'd hesitate to wear it as a cream. I left it on for 15 minutes before washing it off. I've only tried it once so I can't really comment on any noticeable benefits, but on first impressions it seemed like a decent all-rounder. It somewhat pepped up my skin, clarified it and provided some hydration, though I definitely had to moisturise afterwards. Packaging-wise, anything that could double as a food prop gets a tick from me.

Etude House Bling Bling Eye Stick in Little Bear Star (#10)



l-r: KIKO 06, Etude House Little Bear Star

I bought the Etude House Bling Bling Eye Stick in Little Bear Star hoping it would be similar to my beloved KIKO Long Lasting Stick Eyeshadow in 06, so you can see what a success that was. Having said that, though the colour match is way off, this is one of the better products in this haul. It is similar to the KIKO in the sense both are smooth-applying, convenient twist up shadow sticks with great pigmentation. The colour reminds me a bit of my equally adored Essence Eye Soufflé in Pas des Copper. It applies to my lids as a warm, lustrous, light-to-medium gold. Not dark enough to provide adequate definition on its own like the KIKO, but a good base or option for a deliberately lighter, pared down, lazy weekend look.
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