Sunday, June 25, 2017

Colour Philosophy

While I've largely been sticking to the same products for my daily face these past few months, the not-yet-retired makeup enthusiast in me still isn't immune to the temptation of a cheap, novelty item. Enter Essence Glitter in the Air Velvet Lipstick in Life Is Too Short For Boring Lipstick (01), something that inexplicably called out to me on a recentish trip to Priceline. As its defiant (or defensive?) name might suggest, the colour's pretty out there.

Life Is Too Short For Boring Lipstick is a cool-toned, dark greyish purple. Under certain light, it looks more like a browny plum. In any event, it's the kind of colour that one might say evokes the effects of hypothermia or screams "goth". But I don't care. It's a shade that I don't have and one that I normally wouldn't go for, given cool-toned colours rarely look good on me. But I tried the tester on at the shop (yes, I'm one of those disgusting people) and I didn't hate it. In fact, I was sold.

l-r: Essence Life Is Too Short For Boring Lipstick, Revlon Black Cherry, Colourpop Mess Around, Colourpop Toolips

I compared it with the most similar colours in my lipstick collection, and as expected none were close enough to be considered a dupe. Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Black Cherry is distinctly more of a vampy, deep merlot, though the texture is comparable to the Essence (i.e. undeniably patchy but not impossible to work with). Black Cherry is also more of a satin finish than the more matte Life Is Too Short For Boring Lipstick. Both Colourpop shades are more brown-toned than purple, though Toolips is about the same darkness. However being liquid lipsticks, they arguably don't have the same versatility and ease of use as a conventional lipstick, though are smoother and more even in application.

Here, I've applied it fairly opaquely à la ~dramatic statement lip~, though I prefer wearing it as a light stain for a touch of something unusual and moody. I usually just dab some product with my finger onto my lips (often primed with some kind of balm underneath) and then press my lips together to blend. Even in minuscule amounts, it never fails to elicit comments ("Are you wearing lipstick?"). The texture is on the waxy, hard side and isn't as emollient or smooth as a traditional lipstick, possibly because darker matte colours have inherent formulation limitations. But it's an issue that can be overcome so long as a little more time and care is taken with the application.

Overall, I'm liking Essence for affordable, "trend" products that one can experiment and have some fun with. At such a low price point, I appreciate the small details (like how the lipstick is cut into an interesting diamond-faceted shape which I failed to photograph in its pristine state — but this blogger did), and I feel the baseline quality is good, despite room for improvement. Life may be too short for boring lipstick, but ultimately makeup is about personal preference and what gives you confidence and enjoyment.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Quick, Full Face Makeup

I don't know about you, but I'm fairly hopeless when it comes to fast makeup. Fast for me is 10-15 minutes (and let's face it, it's always more 15 minutes). Lately, I've been trying to simplify my routine so I can get away with less effort as I'm getting ready, all the while maintaining a full face approach, using few brushes as possible and placing a premium on products that will last the distance. Here's what I've been reaching for:

I start with a cleansed face and one pump of my current daytime moisturiser, Botani Boost Balancing Moisturiser. I purchased this moisturiser during Priceline's last 40% off skincare sale and have been liking it so far. Consistency-wise and in terms of application and how it dries on the skin, it reminds me of a more fluid, less tacky Trilogy Balancing Face Lotion. It's not as rich, instantly hydrating and soothing as La Roche-Posay Toleriane Riche, my favoured moisturiser for this time of year as the weather starts to cool down. However, the Botani has its advantages in that it is almost primer-like once absorbed into the skin, with a slight stickiness and no oiliness whatsoever which helps to prolong whatever foundation is placed on top of it.

Speaking of foundation, I've been squeezing a dollop of Bobbi Brown BB Cream in Fair into my hand, pressing my palms together and slapping the product onto my face. It's the quickest way to apply my base and does away with brushes entirely. When I first tried the Bobbi Brown BB cream in summer, I was disappointed with it as it sat on top of the skin and transferred/moved around crazily. But now that it's approaching winter and my skin is getting drier, plus with the primer-like Botani applied before, the BB cream just blends into and sticks to my face marvelously. In fact, I have to work relatively quickly to get it all on and blended evenly with my fingers before it starts to set. I'm most pleased with the product not balling up or getting blended away to nothingness even with fairly vigorous circular and smoothing hand actions, as has been my experience with similar products like Garnier Miracle Skin Cream. It gives a truly natural, soft focus and brightening finish, but is a light veil rather than anything heavier or more effective at hiding blemishes and perfecting skin tone. Occasionally, if I need a boost in coverage, I'll go over areas of redness or in need of highlighting (mainly T-zone and under the eyes) with my trusty NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Custard, still the best concealer I've tried.

For eyes, I've been also doing away with brushes and using just one product for eyeshadow, Maybelline Color Tattoo in Creamy Beige, supposedly a dupe for MAC Paint Pot in Groundwork which I've been meaning to buy for years. The midtone mushroom/taupe/putty shade provides just the right amount of definition, particularly for glasses wearers, without appearing too heavy or unnatural. The colour leans neutral enough that it doesn't drain the complexion like a lot of grey-leaning shades can. Next comes the hardest part which is doing my eyeliner with Dolly Wink Liquid Eyeliner, the results of which vary on a daily basis (not from the product itself which is brilliant, just from my unreliable hand). I'm back on an old fave, the tragically discontinued KIKO Eye Pencil in Glamorous, to define my lower lash line. The bright metallic copper complements deep brown eyes and contrasts well with the matte greige eyeshadow. I've been loyal to Essence I Love Extreme Crazy Volume Mascara, featured in my last makeup menu. I've already purchased a backup and can't picture myself using anything else. It's so affordable, very black, long lasting, lengthens, curls, adds volume, doesn't flake, serves margaritas and gives back massages.

l-r: Maybelline Creamy Beige, Clinique Nude Pop, KIKO Glamorous, Dolly Wink eyeliner

Finally, for cheeks, I've been rotating between NARS Madly, Benefit Rockateur, and Clinique Cheek Pop in Nude Pop, with the latter receiving the most love. Since the rest of the face is fairly minimal and dull, the warm peachy-beige Nude Pop perks the complexion right up and injects enough colour without being too red or orange. This is the only product I apply with a brush, being the angled, synthetic Morphe E4. It's natural, flattering, lasts longer than most blushes, and the spongy, bouncy Cheek Pop formula melds invisibly into the skin rather than sitting on top of it.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Current Makeup Menu #2

I was contemplating doing a "Best of 2016" post, but ultimately decided against it as I had no clue what would be on the list. I didn't blog for 3 months and averaged about 2 posts a month, so my engagement with makeup and product discoveries were all a bit plodding and piecemeal. Usually I look back on what I blogged about to get a sense of the stuff I enjoyed in the past year, but nothing stood out to me when I reviewed what I'd written about. Rather than force the issue, I thought I'd do a current makeup loves post instead. On that topic, I do have something to say.

I've switched back to Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua after persevering quite joylessly with Dior BB Creme. I forgot what an absolutely incredible foundation this is. It's in my top 3 all-time favourites alongside NARS Sheer Glow and YSL Le Teint Touche Eclat. Definitely a better summer foundation than for the colder months (the YSL is better for winter as it's more hydrating/forgiving), but I haven't experienced any issues with it highlighting dry patches as I have occasionally in the past. Could just be my skin's in decent condition at the moment. Not too dry, not too oily, more or less unblemished (knock on wood). With an unproblematic canvas, Vitalumiere Aqua works super well. It's immediately flattering but believable. Makes the skin look softly luminous, lifted, more plump and youthful. It blends in effortlessly, never sitting on top of the skin, and doesn't ever look too heavy or obvious. Just a high quality, high performing foundation that I must remember to repurchase when I run out.

I've also been turning to Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Powder to set my face with my Wayne Goss Brush 00. Previously I didn't think it did much, but I probably was just using it all wrong. I find the key is not using too much product, finding the right brush, and applying only a light, thin layer. It takes down unwanted shine a notch or two without totally mattifying the skin, and minimises the need to blot my face down the track (I still do it, but less product comes off). I like that it's undetectable on the skin and doesn't weigh it down with the appearance of a powder caked on top.

Pixi Glow Mist is a product I've been meaning to try for ages, especially after hearing it being compared with Tatcha Dewy Skin Face Mist, the price of which I could never justify, never mind it's not even sold in Australia. (Seriously, $48 USD or $70 for 40ml of liquid you spritz on your face for fun. Can't do it.) To me, the main things I look out for in a mist are a) if it feels good on the skin, i.e. isn't noticeably drying, irritating or otherwise uncomfortable b) if it does the job, i.e. makes my makeup look fresher and my complexion dewier if I've overdone it with the powders or my foundation's too matte/flat c) if there are any ingredients I should be wary of, like alcohol or menthol. Glow Mist ticks all the boxes, plus it was a far more affordable price point for double the amount you get in the Tatcha at 80ml (I bought it in a pack with Glow Tonic on sale from ASOS for about $45).

I've heard good things about Essence I Love Extreme Crazy Volume Mascara (especially from ozproductjunkie), so I purchased a tube during one of Priceline's 40% off cosmetics sales. I finally opened mine up a few weeks ago, and I really like it. It reminds me so much of Benefit They're Real, but is a fraction of the price. The wand, formula, application and effect are very similar. My only minor gripe is that it could do a better job at getting to the outer lashes, but I can overlook that shortcoming since it does everything else so well for being so affordable. I honestly don't know why I'd buy any other mascara from now on when this is $5.75 and so effective. As its name suggests, it builds up lots of thickness and volume in the lashes, without looking too spidery and clumpy. Separation is good, curl is good, lasting power is great and it does a good job on the bottom lashes as well without smudging too much throughout the day.

In a recent Colourpop free shipping promo, I ordered Mr. Bing Liner (a collaboration with YouTuber KathleenLights). The purchase was mainly spurred by curiosity more than anything, since Kathleen raved so much about the formula and I haven't been overly impressed with all that many pencil eyeliners I've tried. Since it arrived, I've been using this to define my lower lash line daily. I like the warm chocolately brown colour, wear time is excellent and it doesn't budge. The fine tip allows for precise application and the twist up mechanism is convenient (no pesky, wasteful sharpening ever!). The formula isn't completely soft and gel-like, but it's not totally dry and hard either. It's a little waxy, but still has a bit of give upon contact with skin.

l-r: NYX Abu Dhabi, Colourpop Mr. Bing, NARS The Multiple in Orgasm

My friend gave me her unwanted mini of NARS The Multiple in Orgasm and I've been reaching for this as part of my "quick" makeup with minimal (for me) products. Basically using it as a substitute for Stila Convertible Colour in Gerbera in my go-to low-key makeup post (ditching the cream pot eyeshadows for my beloved KIKO Long Lasting Stick Eyeshadow and swapping pencil eyeliner for liquid felt tip eyeliner). This product is a faithful interpretation of Orgasm powder blush but in cream blush form. The golden sheen comes out a touch more than in the pressed version, but there's still that distinctive warm, translucent, corally baby pink. I literally draw on a few strokes onto my cheek and then use my fingers to blend out the edges. The lasting power isn't as good as the powder blush and you have to be a little careful so it's not patchy upon application as the formula is on the thin side but quite emollient (not greasy however). I love the small size and the fact it doesn't require a brush to use, making it super portable and ideal for travel.

Lastly, we have NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Abu Dhabi. To me, this is possibly the most perfect nude I've encountered. If you're light (NC 20-25) and Asian/yellow-toned, I highly recommend you seek out Abu Dhabi and try it. It's like MAC Patisserie on steroids (or the bolder, fully matte version). The only minor downside is it does settle a little bit in the lip lines, but I usually just rub the product in with my finger or blot with a tissue or the back of my hand. The lasting power isn't amazing, but perhaps to be expected for a light MLLB colour. I couldn't find this shade individually to purchase in any Priceline or Target, so I had to buy it in a set called "The Nudes" with Simply Nude Lip Cream in Sable and Intense Butter Gloss in Chocolate Crepe. Worth it.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Pretty as a Flower

Compared with previous years, I didn't buy all that much makeup in 2016. However, I couldn't let the year pass without purchasing at least one of the seemingly universally heralded two best eyeshadow palettes of last year: Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Palette or the Tarte Tartelette in Bloom Palette. I was kind of leaning towards the more ~editorial~ ABH, the one with the artistic cred, but during Sephora's last 20% off sale, it was sold out. So I satisfied myself with the more conventional, less exciting but more "practical" Tarte offering instead.

l-r: Charmer, Jetsetter, Rocker, Smokeshow, Flower Child, Smarty Pants, Firecracker, Activist, Funny Girl, Sweetheart, Rebel, Leader

l-r: Charmer, Jetsetter, Rocker, Smokeshow

l-r: (Smokeshow), Flower Child, Smarty Pants, Firecracker, Activist, (Funny Girl)

l-r: Funny Girl, Sweetheart, Rebel, Leader

This is one pretty palette, both inside and out. I think I prefer the packaging of the Tarte to ABH. It's nicely thought out and executed, decently sleek and compact, the squareish shape is fairly original in a world of mostly rectangular eyeshadow palettes, and it comes with a huge, good quality mirror.

The colour selection is nothing earth-shattering or out of the box, but still a well-considered edit of neutral mattes with differing undertones and depth, plus a sprinkle of metallic and shimmer shades. I really appreciate the way that the palette is laid out, with each individual row basically acting like its own quad (centered around a colour family), and each column grouping together similar depths of shades, ranging from lightest to darkest.

One criticism I have heard about this palette is that the deepest shades (Smokeshow, Activist and Leader) are all a bit samey once applied to the lids. Smokeshow and Activist I would probably agree, since the former is just a greyer version of the browner latter, but I think Leader is sufficiently reddish to act as a point of difference.

In terms of the shadow quality, the lighter to medium mattes pass the test. They're nicely pigmented, soft but not crumbly or powdery, and blend easily. However the deeper mattes can get a little patchy and don't have the most intense colour payoff I've come across (the LORAC Pro Palette still takes that title by a loooong shot). The quality is certainly not awful nor disappointing, but didn't absolutely blow me away either. It'd say it's above average, which you'd expect from a palette of this price. Honestly though, some of the mattes in my 28-pan Morphe Jaclyn Hill Favorites Palette perform just as well.

I do really love the bronze shade Firecracker, of course. The definite standout of the palette and a large reason why I bought it. Undeniably pretty on the lid with superior pigmentation and texture. Funny Girl is more of a shimmery champagne topper as it has a kind of spongy, drier texture, so sometimes I like dabbing a bit of it to the centre of my lids with my finger to add some sparkle and light. Overall, the palette is predominately warm-toned except for the distinctly cooler-toned first row of shades. I almost wish the mid-tone brown Jetsetter was even cooler than it is, say a light, slightly dove grey taupe, but then I remember I can't pull off cool eyeshadows and content myself with its current form.

Overall, I've been enjoying Tartelette in Bloom and don't regret adding it to my collection, but if you have myriad neutral palettes already (and if you're reading this, I imagine you do), you definitely don't *need* it. It's kind of similar to Urban Decay Naked3 (though Naked3 is more exuberant in the rosey/mauvey/coppery shades still), Maybelline The Nudes, even L'Oréal Color Riche La Palette Nude in Beige. Having said that, you can more or less pick any combination of shades in Tartelette in Bloom and come up with something you can wear for most occasions. It's a very complete palette that's beautifully packaged and produces looks that, for lack of a better word, are simply pretty. What more really, do you need?
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