Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Current Makeup Menu #4

I was meant to be on a makeup spending ban for 3 months from the end of January, but it all collapsed at the halfway mark when Anastasia Beverly Hills released the Amrezy highlighter. Before I spectacularly caved (because the purchases didn't just stop at the highlighter), I'd been trying to content myself with my already overstuffed makeup collection. My current favourites include rediscovered gems in my stash, as well as a new concealer that seemed to be in every single Best of 2017 video I watched.

Benefit That Gal Brightening Face Primer
This mini was in the First Class Flirts travel set purchased in September 2015, and I've been trying to use it up as it's too good just to let expire in my makeup drawers. It's a pearlescent pink with a lightweight moisturiser feel that provides a brightening, smoothing effect. The scent is also a pleasantly fruity one that makes it enjoyable to apply in the mornings on top of my moisturiser but before makeup. I like that the skin enhancement effect is more subtle and not achieved through overwhelming shimmer particles that can leave you looking like a greaseball. It imparts more of a soft focus, pearly glow that lifts the complexion. I get very minimal pilling with this (occasionally a tiny bit near my chin if I rub a touch too enthusiastically), but generally it absorbs into the skin with no issues. Best of all, to my surprise, the full size product contains 11g compared with the 7.5g in the mini. The full size also has some weird gluestick-with-a-sponge-tip packaging, whereas the mini is a simple squeezy tube. I definitely know which one I prefer, especially for what I paid.

Too Faced Semi-Sweet Chocolate Bar Palette
Previously featured in my April 2015 Favourites, I've been using this almost daily and my appreciation only grows. As more and more eyeshadow palettes are released and the market becomes completely saturated, I'm beginning to feel nostalgia for a simpler time, when a major palette release from a brand would conjure genuine hype — because the product was actually good. Semi-Sweet has all you need ... those gorgeous light-to-medium neutral mattes (Nougat, Mousse, Peanut Butter, Puddin'), beautiful shimmers in pewter, copper and gilded peach, darker, high performing matte and shimmer shades to deepen your looks (Licorice, Truffled, Hot Fudge, Cocoa Chili), a pop of colour, big highlight and cream matte pans, and an angelic glitter top coat. The only downside is some of the darker shades do have A LOT of fallout, but if you do the eyes first then wipe the mess away with some Bioderma on a cotton pad, it's not a big deal. Bonus points: smells positively edible.

Milani Baked Blush in Luminoso
I don't love this 100% on its own (I find it a bit too light for my skin tone and the colour is too much of a pale orange as opposed to a more flattering, summery coral), but I find it adds a gorgeous goldy-peachy sheen on top of a darker blush that's applied first. Somewhat like a shimmery blush topper, if you will. The texture is beautifully smooth and the powder blends out effortlessly with my Wayne Goss Brush 14.

Bourjois Little Round Pot Blush in Rose Coup de Foudre
Speaking of darker colours to apply with Milani Luminoso, the one I've been pairing it with lately is Bourjois Rose Coup de Foudre. It's darker and more pink than Luminoso, but still has that same gold thread running through it that perks up and beautifies the complexion. The only problem is the entire surface of the blush regularly seals, so I periodically have to run a cotton bud across the dome to loosen the pigment. I also use a slightly stiffer brush (at least compared with the long-haired and floppy Wayne Goss Brush 14) in the form of my Zoeva Luxe Sheer Cheek Brush to apply it.

NARS Soft Matte Complete Concealer in Medium 1 Custard
I adore the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, and every blogger under the sun put the Soft Matte Concealer on their yearly favourites, so I was convinced I needed the Soft Matte Concealer in my life. I purchased mine for $44 from Mecca Maxima with little hesitation. It hasn't disappointed. While I'm not totally convinced it is better than the Radiant Creamy Concealer, it's up there among the best concealers I've tried. It's been living in my handbag for daily late afternoon touch ups when my foundation is losing its staying power and sliding off my face. It's a drier, higher coverage, longer lasting formula than Radiant Creamy Concealer, and hence I find targeted to more oily/combination skin. However, it still blends really easily with the fingers, sinks into the skin, and the shade match is good, albeit slightly too light if I go in a bit too heavily around areas of redness I want to even out. You get 6.2g of product which should last an eternity, as you only need a tiny amount each time.

Benefit Posie Tint
These Benefit liquid tints are underrated in my opinion. Posie Tint is one of the more forgiving ones (compared with the other two I have, Cha Cha Tint and Benetint), in that it's not too difficult to work with, doesn't last 4 days on your skin after showering and scrubbing, and has some blendability. I really want Lollitint, because I'm actually obsessed with all things orchid. That's right, I'm still into the Pantone Colour of the Year 2014, people.

I've been enjoying Posietint worked into the cheeks for a pretty, youthful flush that isn't too cool-toned and doesn't immediately draw attention to the red in my face as pinks tend to do. I also love it on the lips (dabbed on with the fingers over slightly moisturised lips for a fresher, less "done" look) for a long lasting, truly kiss-proof pout. Full review with how it looks like on my cheek here, where you can also see what a pristine bottle looks like before everything scratched off in the ensuing 3.5 years.

l-r: NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Custard, NARS Soft Matte Concealer in Custard, Bourjois Rose Coup de Foudre, Milani Luminoso, Benefit Posietint

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Little Glow Pots

I don't know about you, but my highlight craze won't let up. I've accumulated so many highlighters now that my collection could last several lifetimes. My newest obsession has been cream highlighters in a pot. One day, I just found myself returning to an item that has been on my radar for YEARS, rms Living Luminizer. I've heard about this product virtually since I started blogging in 2012, but could never justify the price tag. Even today, at $55, I still can't bring myself to spend that much on a tiny pot of mainly solidified oils and beeswax. I started the hunt for potential dupes and remembered seeing something very similar to the Living Luminizer at Priceline in the form of Luma Illuminating Highlighter. Soon enough, I found myself buying the Luminous Light shade for $26.95. Then my friend gave me her unloved Mecca Cosmetica Enlightened Lit From Within Illuminating Balm, so suddenly I had two of these babies.

Luma Illuminating Highlighter in Luminous Light

What drew me to purchasing Luma Illuminating Highlighter was how incredibly similar its ingredients list was to rms Living Luminizer. Observe:

rms Living Luminizer
Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Cera Alba (Beeswax), Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary) Extract, and may contain [+/- Titanium Dioxide CI77891, Mica CI 77019]

Luma Illuminating Highlighter
Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Beeswax (Cera Alba), Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Pearl Powder, Tocopherol, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax, Mica, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxide (CI 77491)

Same first three ingredients, which surely means they're basically the same thing. The Luma has additional jojoba, sweet almond, grape and soybean oils, along with "pearl powder" and Vitamin E, while the rms has just the addition of rosemary extract.

They also both contain 5 grams of product.

Mecca Cosmetica Enlightened Lit From Within Illuminating Balm

I wasn't able to locate a full ingredient list for the Mecca, but their website mentions it contains jojoba oil, coconut oil and castor seed oil. It's a smaller size to Luma and rms at 3g. To the touch, it feels slightly thicker than the Luma, but applies very similarly and has more or less the same effect on the skin. They're obviously different shades, in that Luma Luminous Light is more of a pink-toned, whitish colour, and the Mecca is more peachy/rose gold. The Luma Illuminating Highlighter does come in two other shades, Moonlit Ivory (more champagne) and Golden Glow (more of a darker bronze). The main difference between the Luma and Mecca I find, apart from the colour, is that the Mecca is quite strongly scented. The smell whacks you in the nostrils as soon as you open the lid, and still smells once you swatch it or apply it to the face. I was instantly reminded of the fragrance in Missha M Perfect Cover BB Cream, though I haven't used that BB cream in years, so that comparison might not be super accurate.

l-r: Luma Illuminating Highlighter in Luminous Light, Mecca Cosmetica Enlightened Lit From Within Illuminating Balm

I picked Luminous Light over the other two shades Moonlit Ivory and Golden Glow because it was the one that popped most on my skin. It's borderline whitish if applied too heavily or if the edges aren't blended well enough, but the shade does predominately appear pearly with an angelic soft pink tinge. I thought it might be too similar to Benefit High Beam, but when I compared them, I found High Beam to be even more dramatic and brightening. High Beam is a liquid highlight, so it's more versatile in that you can use it under foundation, mix it with your base, or use it over your foundation as you would a traditional highlighter.

The Mecca Enlightened Lit From Within Illuminating Balm is less contrasting with my skin and much closer to my natural skin tone. In that respect, it's more muted and subtle when applied, though still gives plenty of glow. It's a bit tackier in texture compared with the Luma and I feel looks oilier, which reinforces the dewy effect. I use both everywhere I'd normally place highlight, i.e. on the cheekbones, down the bridge of the nose, under the browbone and on the cupid's bow.

The appeal of these cream pots is that they're on a different level than powder highlighters when it comes to looking natural and blending into the skin. Most of the powder highlighters I have derive their glow from shimmer particles, whereas these cream ones offer more of a sheen with no detectable shimmer. As I apply them with the fingers (though they can be applied with a synthetic brush or sponge), the warmth of my fingers helps to seamlessly blend the product into the skin. Unlike a lot of powder highlighters, you can't see any demarcation between where you've placed your highlight and the rest of your face. The cream texture also makes layering easier if you want a more pronounced effect, whether that means multiple layers of the cream highlight or layering a powder highlight on top of the cream. I often find at the end of the day, a powder highlight can look like it's sitting on top of the skin, and look chunky and dry, but no such thing occurs with these cream pots. If anything, it softly fades away, as one of the downsides to cream formulas is they tend not to last as long as powders. For the natural, undetectable, ethereal glow they provide, that's a tradeoff I don't mind.

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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