Saturday, February 28, 2015

Pouting Pink

As mentioned in my last lipstick post, my newest lipstick additions didn't stop at two She lipsticks. Yet again, I was swayed by a buy one, get one free offer. This time it was the L'Oréal Colour Riche line. L'Oréal lipsticks are a ridiculous $21.95 each in Australia, so the BOGOF placed them at a much more reasonable price point. Initially, I contemplated one of the celebrity-endorsed nude lipsticks ("Collection Exclusive Nudes"), specifically Eva, but I found the formula to be drying. The colour also wasn't anything amazing — it reminded me of a less pigmented, more beige Colour Riche Extraordinaire in Nude Vibrato. I then spotted the Colour Riche Moisture Matte range and began swatching the shades on display. Sakura Petal (P501), a bright but pale, yellow-based pink, immediately drew me in.

l-r: Sakura Petal, Cherry Crush

L'Oréal Colour Riche Moisture Matte Lipstick in Sakura Petal (P501)

Let me tell you something about yellow-based pinks. I'm always on the lookout for them. I find them to be the rarest breed of pink at the "drugstore". There are many, many, cool-toned pinks, from your milky lavender/sheer baby pinks, to mid-tone purplish pinks, to fuchsia/hot pinks and deep berry/plummy shades. But I don't see warm pinks around very often, unless they're vibrant coral pinks like Revlon Matte Lipstick in Pink About It or Sportsgirl Rosie Posie.

The only drugstore yellow-based pinks I can recall are the limited edition Revlon Matte Lipstick in Sky Pink (one of the very first lipsticks I purchased at the start of my makeup obsession — at an obscene $21.95 too), Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Pink in the Afternoon and Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm in Elusive. Along with MAC Viva Glam Nicki, those are probably the only yellow-based pinks I have. It doesn't help that the natural pigmentation of my lips turns almost any pink more blueish and cool-toned, especially if the formula is sheer.

When it comes to lipstick, I'm all about brights and the novelty of the colour itself. Sakura Petal is one of those crazy grandma shades in that it's both old-fashioned and clownish. It also makes my teeth look frightfully yellow. But I don't care. It's magic.

l-r: L'Oréal Sakura Petal, Revlon Sky Pink, Revlon Pink Lemonade, Sportsgirl Beauty Queen, MAC Creme Cup

Revlon Matte Lipstick in Sky Pink is close to Sakura Petal but lighter. Sportsgirl Beauty Queen looks similar but due to its sheerness doesn't translate as very yellow-toned on the lips. MAC Creme Cup is more pastel and dusty, not as neon as Sakura Petal. Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter in Pink Lemonade is much paler and more of a milky peach.

Speaking of coral pinks, I tried on Cherry Crush (P502) from the same Moisture Matte line and was sold. What was happening — two warm pinks?! The texture is a lot smoother and it's more forgiving on the lips than the drier, patchier Sakura Petal which requires a perfectly primed pout.

l-r: L'Oréal Cherry Blossom, Revlon Pink in the Afternoon, Maybelline Vivid Rose, Sportsgirl Rosie Posie, MAC Chatterbox

Annddddd I think we've found our "drugstore" MAC Chatterbox dupe. Chatterbox might be a touch more pastel, but we're splitting hairs. Of course, the finish is entirely different — Chatterbox is creamier, with a satin rather than matte finish. Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Pink in the Afternoon is more peachy nude in comparison. Maybelline ColorSensational Vivids Lipstick in Vivid Rose, which I thought would be similar, is hugely more neon and saturated in high-intensity pigment. Sportsgirl Rosie Posie is more orange/coral, less dark pink.

Now that we're done with that, it's evident I need to consider a serious pink lipstick ban. I was going to say lipstick ban period, but let's not be overly ambitious. Baby steps.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wet Foil

When Australis first launched the limited edition AC/ME Eyeshadows, I had a cursory swatch and dismissed them as nothing "must have". Sure, the colours were accessible, crowd-pleasing neutrals, they were cream shadow pots (my weakness), and the price was right, but they didn't seem unique or special enough to warrant a purchase. It wasn't until Shaaanxo mentioned them in her 2014 Drugstore Favourites, specifically the shade Bronzonce, that I was compelled to give them another shot. Of course by that stage, they became increasingly difficult to track down. I finally found them at a Priceline near me, but had to ask the sales assistant whether I could buy the tester for Bronzonce since it had sold out. Granted, the tester was barely used, but I'll be the first to admit that was some next level desperate.

l-r: Plum Diddy, Bronzonce

l-r: Australis Bronzonce, Benefit My Two Cents, MAC Rubenesque, Max Factor Auburn Envy, Urban Decay Chopper, Maybelline Bold Gold

Bronzonce looked so dazzling in swatches I'd seen and didn't disappoint in real life. The foil quality and sparkle factor is super intense. It's more ultra-reflective, concentrated shimmer than any underlying pigment, in that you really have to layer the product to achieve strong colour payoff. When it's blended/sheered out, it looks like gold, copper and diamond sparkles on a transparent base. I don't have anything like it, at least not in the form of a cream shadow. The spongy gold leaf shade in my Clarins Odyssey quad is probably the closest thing in my stash.

I would say Bronzonce is like a cross between MAC Paint Pot in Rubenesque and Urban Decay Chopper. It's definitely more of a copper gold than a yellow gold like Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bold Gold. This kind of shade usually is fairly light on my lids (MAC Rubenesque barely shows up if applied in a thin layer), but the sheer density of shimmer (and hence pigment) creates a glimmering, foiled finish.

l-r: Australis Plum Diddy, Maybelline Pomegranate Punk, L'Oréal Burning Black, Rimmel Bad Girl Bronze, theBalm Caught in the Act Courtney

The other shade I picked up, Plum Diddy, is surprisingly complex, at least when swatched. On the lids, especially when sheered out, it loses a lot of detail. Plum Diddy appears to my eyes closer to a dark chocolate brown with red, copper, gold and diamond sparkles. The red sparkles are what gives it a plummy appearance, but the actual base colour looks more like a deep brown than purple.

The texture of these shadows is unlike anything I've encountered. They have a very wet formulation that's not quite mousse-like, but similar. There isn't that air-whipped consistency of mousse shadows, but there is a certain sponginess to them. They aren't firm to the touch whatsoever, yet I wouldn't describe them as "creamy" in the thin, emollient sense like the MAC Paint Pots or Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadows. Honestly, they kind of feel like rain-soaked mud. Sludge. You only need to very lightly dip your finger into them to pick up a lot of product. You will move the product around or dent it if you make contact with the surface, either with your finger or a brush. Essentially, treat them delicately.

I found the best brush to use these with is the Ecotools Concealer Brush (from the Mineral 5 Piece Set, the one that comes with an eye blending brush, mini kabuki and small powder brush). It's already my preferred brush to use with my Maybelline Color Tattoos and it works brilliantly with the unusual formulation of the AC/ME Eyeshadows. Importantly, it doesn't pick up too much product, but applies whatever it has picked up in smooth, even, buildable layers. I can achieve full, dazzling opacity with two coats. Due to the wet texture of these, they do feel like they could slip and slide all over the place. My lids are on the drier side, but even I felt a primer was an absolute must.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Otherworldly Glow

As we all know, blogging is bad for the wallet. Case in point: casually reading Liz's latest post, seeing the beauteous Guerlain Météorites Compact Light-Revealing Powder (it was love at first sight), purchasing said compact the moment I saw it at David Jones. It was a wild impulse buy by my standards, considering it was $78 (gulp), I didn't know of the existence of the product until 3 weeks ago, and the original spherical Météorites never particularly appealed to me. But something about the elegant silver packaging, pastel mosaic pattern and promise of skin-perfecting glow was an irresistible combination.

In natural daylight (note, I've packed it on for swatch purposes)

Under lamp light

Under fluorescent light

The Guerlain Météorites Compact Light-Revealing Powder is basically the pressed version of their original powder pearls. Guerlain did have an existing compact version called the Météorites Voyage, but it was prohibitively expensive at $191. It looks like the Météorites Compact is essentially an updated version of the Météorites Voyage at a lower price point. The new compact isn't as weighty or fancy (the silver is actually plastic), but judging from Temptalia's reviews, the product inside is more or less the same.

I tested the three available shades in the store and immediately dismissed Clair (02) as too white. The darkest shade, Dore (04), seemed entirely different to Clair and Medium (03), in that it had a distinct pinkish cast. I settled for Medium (03) as it seemed to be a safe bet. There's 10g of product which seems standard for a powder. When you open up the compact, there is a moderately strong sweet floral fragrance, but it doesn't linger when the powder is applied to the skin.

My main gripe about powders is that the surface ALWAYS seals. This happens to almost every single powder I own, blush and bronzer included. You can see in the pictures it's already started to occur. I'm guessing this happens because when I use the powder over foundation that's not completely set (and really, when does a foundation completely set so that subsequent contact with the skin results in zero transfer), I dampen the surface of the compact as I dip my brush into it. Those areas then harden, which 'seals' the powder and makes it difficult to pick up product later on. It also destroys the aesthetic of the mosaic pattern (which let's face it, was a primary motivation to purchase), given patches of brown are polluting the surface. At the moment, the problem's not so bad that I'm unable to pick up sufficient product with my brush, but it is an issue that I find nearly impossible to avoid entirely.

Onto the powder itself. This is a finishing powder, so it's not designed to set your foundation. It can be used after a separate setting powder, directly after foundation, or on bare skin. I prefer to use it over foundation all over the face, occasionally after a dusting of Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Powder. The luminescence the Météorites Compact provides is a kind of ethereal pearly white. Under certain lighting conditions, scrutinising my face up close, it's straight up glittery. By "glittery", I mean I can clearly detect tiny white sparkles and ultra-fine shimmer on a translucent base. This is most noticeable under bright department store lights. The sparkles appear mainly white, but once again, depending on the light, they can also appear gold or peachy. On the skin however, the illumination remains white in character. Staying power is very good considering I can still detect the powder on my skin at the end of the day, though whether it's still providing any radiance at that point is questionable.

I'm still in the process of experimenting with the best brushes to use this with, and so far the Ecotools by Alicia Silverstone Finishing Brush is winning. It's basically a super soft stippling brush that diffuses and blends product to an airbrushed finish. I tried the Charlotte Tilbury Powder & Sculpt but found it on the small and stiff side, applying the product in too concentrated a manner. The Real Techniques Blush Brush was on the opposite end of the spectrum — a bit too large and floppy. My SUQQU Cheek Brush fared well, but it seemed such a waste to limit my use of it to a single finishing powder. I prefer to use it for blushes and highlighter, but I can't have remnant blush pigments in the brush tainting the surface of the Météorites Compact or subtly changing the nature of the powder. Beauty obsessive problems.

Overall, I suspect the Météorites Compact is comparable in purpose and effect to other luminosity-adding powders I've been eyeing: NARS Light Reflecting Pressed Setting Powder and Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Diffused Light. Both are less expensive (the NARS is quite a bit cheaper at $46, while the Hourglass is $59), though the Guerlain wins in the packaging stakes. I'm slightly on the fence about the white tint and the shimmer/sparkle factor (though it could just be my heavy-handedness), but the effect from a distance is noticeably illuminating and diffuses the appearance of imperfections.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

She Likes Lipstick

I have a sickness. It's called lipstick addiction and it damages lives. It's so horrendously irrational I don't know where to start. On a recent, seemingly innocuous trip to Priceline (first mistake there), I was only planning on checking out the new Maybelline Colour Drama Lipsticks, but I spotted a buy one, get one free offer on She lipsticks. Nothing sucks me in faster than a good ol' BOGOF. I haven't heard much about the She brand and never paid particular attention to it. But when it comes to lipsticks, I'm an equal opportunity lover and judge not on hype, popularity, or packaging, but the product itself. So long as the shade's right and the texture/formula works, then it's a winner in my book. I started swatching...

After an abnormal amount of deliberation (seriously, my hand was COVERED in lip product swatches), I decided to purchase Hush and Angel. Which is hilarious because they're the quintessential peach and pink shades I perpetually gravitate to. It's like each time I shop for a lipstick, I conveniently forget the multitude of nearly identical colours I have at home.

The She lipstick range comprises mainly safe, "wearable", not too in-your-face shades. I steered clear of the frost finishes and was momentarily tempted by the milky, pinky-lavender Atlanta until I came to my senses. The gold exterior reminds me a teeny bit of the YSL Rouge Voluptés, but thinner, paler, more streamlined — not as weighty and decorative.

Both Hush and Angel are somewhat glossy in finish and decently moisturising on the lips. They're not uber pigmented, but have fairly good colour payoff with one layer. I would say the texture/finish is comparable to MAC Lustre lipsticks, though the She lipsticks are thicker in formulation. They do have a tendency to settle into lip lines, which is why I prefer to apply a thin layer straight from the tube then dab my lips with my finger to work the product in. My other gripe is they have a distinct "old lipstick" smell. (Probably because that's what they are, given I doubt they were flying off the Priceline shelves.) When I first opened them, they had a pleasant lavender fragrance, but now they mostly have an off-putting plasticy-floral smell. It's not so strong that it's intolerable, but it's definitely a downside.

l-r: Hush, Angel

l-r: She Hush, L'Oréal Nude Vibrato, MAC Shy Girl, Revlon Juicy Papaya, Revlon Smoked Peach

Hush is a light-to-medium, peachy nude with salmon pink. On the lips, there's a slight pearl to this which I dislike intensely, but it's not too noticeable (the lip swatch doesn't capture it at all). I find Hush to be most flattering with quite a flawless base, which is surprising given it seems to be a fairly low maintenance, "throw on" shade. If my skin isn't concealed and there are still areas of natural redness showing through, Hush seems to draw attention to that.

The colour is right up my alley but admittedly, not very unique. I'm actually surprised I don't have more existing dupes of it (unlike the next shade — you'll see what I mean). Hush is basically the same shade as L'Oréal Colour Riche Extraordinaire in Nude Vibrato except slightly dustier and darker, and without gold microshimmer. Obviously the textures are different — the L'Oréal is a liquid lipstick, so wet and shiny. MAC Shy Girl is a lot paler and more pastel, less red/pink. Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter in Juicy Papaya is brighter in tone, more neon orange. It also has a more emollient and glossy finish. Revlon Matte Lipstick in Smoked Peach is more of a burnt orange, not as pinky-peach and also somewhat more neon in quality.

l-r: She Angel, Maybelline Juicy Bubblegum, Revlon Primrose, Revlon Pink Pout, Australis Jive

Angel immediately makes me think whether there's any reference to the MAC lipstick of the same name. It's your typical slightly mauvey, dusty, cool-toned pink. When I tried this on in the store, I was overcome with a "had to get it" feeling, despite the vague notion I already owned similar shades.

Honestly, mega fail. Forget "similar shades", they're the same! I'm not even going to convince myself they're different. But here we are. Angel is probably the warmest in this family. It's barely distinguishable from Australis Colour Inject Mineral Lipstick in Jive, except Jive is a touch more muted/dusty. I always thought Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Primrose and Revlon Matte Lipstick in Pink Pout were the same, but Pink Pout seems slightly more yellow-toned. But let's face it. I have a problem.

The funniest part of all this is I left Priceline that day with not two, but four new lipsticks. That's right, on top of these She lipsticks, I bought two more lipsticks from another brand. And get this ... both pink. All will be revealed in a blog post in the near future, but in the meantime, I need to learn self-control. It's just increasingly difficult with monstrously hyped lip launches (hello Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Lipsticks) and my new favourite YouTuber KathleenLights doing an entire "Lip Swatch Week" (is there a colour she can't pull off?). Maybe the trick is reorganising my entire lipstick collection so I can better see and remember what I already have. At least so next time, I don't buy the same shade of pink five times over.
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