Sunday, January 29, 2012

Everyday Neutral Eye

My daily makeup routine has gone through various stages, but through experimentation and tweaking I've managed to settle on something that I find strikes a good balance between looking polished but not overdone. I went through a (short-lived) period of applying a face full of foundation, but found that my skin reacted poorly and the product on my skin felt uncomfortable. Now I've reverted to applying a very small amount worked into specific areas of my face (edges of my nose, corners of my mouth, chin, a bit on my forehead) where I need evening out. I concentrate mostly on eye makeup because it's what makes the largest difference to how I look.

Here are the products I've been using lately for my eye makeup:
  • Sportsgirl Time to Shine Bronze Cosmetic Palette
  • Models Prefer The Must Have Shadows Compact
  • Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner in Blackest Black
  • Revlon Illuminance All-Over Palette in Passion Fusion
  • Maybelline Define-A-Lash Mascara in Very Black
  • Bourjois Liner Feutre in Ultra Black
  • Shiseido Eyelash Curler

l-r: Models Prefer silver (first in second row), Sportsgirl bronze and dark brown

I start by applying with my finger the lightest cream eyeshadow in the Revlon palette all over my eyelid. The colour is a very subtle light pink which basically doesn't show up on my lids. I use it more or less only as a primer and base for my shadows. I own a few Revlon cream eyeshadow palettes that I use for the same purpose. For me, it's always worked quite well (no problems with creasing and makes my eyeshadows more vibrant and long-lasting).

Next, I apply the bronze colour in the Sportsgirl palette all over my lid with a small eyeshadow brush. I've tried quite a few neutral eyeshadows and I've found this shade is suitably understated for everyday wear and works well for my skin tone. With a different eyeshadow brush, I apply the darkest shade in the same Sportsgirl palette, a dark brown/chocolate shade with fine bronze glitter, as if to line my upper lid. I blend upwards and smudge it out a little bit to give some depth to my eyes. As I have a monolid, I don't have a visible socket, so I have to keep looking up every now and then to check where I should stop blending the darker eyeshadow. Usually I apply it so it's just peeking through and it's mostly the bronze colour that's visible when I open my eye.

Next, I line my upper eyelid with the Bourjois felt tip eyeliner, making sure to stay as close to the lashline as possible. I extend the line a little past where my eye ends and wing it out a little bit, but not too much. I apply some of the Models Prefer eyeshadow (the shade first in the second row, a sparkly metallic light grey) to my lower lashline to give a brightening effect. I use an angled brush lightly dipped into the Maybelline black gel liner to softly line my bottom lashes. Finally, I curl my lashes and then apply mascara to the top and bottom lashes. The mascara I've currently been using, Define-A-Lash, has an effective wand which is curved and separates lashes well while coating them with just the right amount of product for visibly darkened and thicker lashes.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Captured By Coral

Amongst my peach and coral lipsticks are some of my favourite lipsticks of my entire collection. My coral lipstick infatuation began with Revlon's Melonade sometime in the middle of last year and I haven't looked back. Coral shades encapsulate what lipstick is ultimately all about for me: fun and experimentation. A pop of vibrant colour on the lips brightens the whole face and is the colour for the warmer months.

From left to right in the pictures below:
  • Revlon ColorBurst in Rose Nectar (sheer pinkish coral with visible gold shimmery particles)
  • Sportsgirl Pout About It! in Fruit Tingle (super pigmented, vibrant matte coral)
  • Australis Colour Inject Mineral Lipstick in Honky Tonk (pink leaning coral)
  • Revlon Matte in Smoked Peach (warm orange with a bit of a brownish tone)
  • Sally Hansen Natural Beauty Color Comfort Lip Color in Sunburst (darker pink coral with subtle gold gleam)
  • Barry M Lip Paint in Peachy Pink (bright, matte coral with soft peachy tones)
  • Revlon Super Lustrous in Melonade (watermelon coral)

Most these lean more pink than orange, in particular Sunburst (which isn't orange enough to be a true coral but too dark to be a pink), but also Rose Nectar, Honky Tonk and Melonade. Smoked Peach is the most pure orange, followed by Peachy Pink, which is almost a neon orange when applied heavily.

 l-r: Rose Nectar, Fruit Tingle, Honky Tonk, Smoked Peach, Sunburst, Peachy Pink, Melonade

I find this colour spectrum suits my skin tone more than pink, though I'd consider some of these a little too loud for everyday wear. They're the ones I'd reach for if I'm headed somewhere fun and summery, like a festival or the beach, or just hanging out with friends on the weekend. The great thing about bright lipsticks is that you can vary the intensity of colour depending on the application. For a lighter and more subtle look, I'll dab these on with my finger for a stain of colour that's still fresh and pretty but not attention-seeking or overpowering.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Coming Up Peaches

Tony Moly Peach Anti-aging Hand Cream is a delightful and unique product. Packaged in a realistic plastic peach exterior, you twist the top off to reveal a white, peach-scented hand cream inside. Aside from the novelty factor (which is guaranteed to reel me in), the cream itself is highly moisturising and smells of sweet, juicy peaches. You can collect a whole fruit basket of other Tony Moly products with the cherryblueberry, tangerine, red applegreen apple and tomato. I've seen the peach hand cream available at Morning Glory for $10, otherwise, you can purchase them online.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ladylike Allure

Pretty much everything is overpriced in Australia compared to the US or UK, but thankfully we have Ulta3 for super affordable nail polish. These polishes aren't just cheap, they're also high quality, well pigmented and smooth applying. When I first discovered the price and the sheer variety of colours on offer, I was compelled to embark on a mission to visit any Ulta3 stockists close to me. I'm practically an expert now in rummaging through a huge mass of Ulta3 polishes to find shades that I don't already have, or trend-based, newly released colours. At around $2 a pop, it's a collection I can afford to cultivate.

I've been trying to find Earl Grey and Spring Blossom for a while, but they've eluded me and I've more or less given up. However, I did recently manage to acquire another shade I've been on the lookout for, Allure. It's a kind of eggshell/nude/beige, a lovely neutral which is classy, feminine and understated. The colour is what I'd expect a high end brand to release, and the creamy formula applies opaque in two coats, quite an achievement for something so light. I can see myself wearing this year-round when I'm tiring of the garish and glittery and want a more subdued and refined look.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Dramatic Wing

Three celeb brunettes in dark, dramatic, winged out eye makeup, paired with a softer lip.

 Emma Watson at the premiere of HP7, 11 July 2011, NYC

Jessica Alba at the opening of the Armani Hotel Milano, 10 November 2011, Milan, Italy

Kristen Stewart at the premiere of Breaking Dawn Part 1, 16 November 2011, London

Sunday, January 15, 2012

More Bang For Your Buck

BYS is a cheap Australian brand that, until recently, I never paid much attention to. A while ago I bought one of their nail polishes in Shadow Puppets which I thought would be the perfect light grey, but it took way too many coats to become opaque, bubbled terribly and smelt awful. I haven't used it since. I decided to take a chance on their other products after reading a few positive reviews about their lipsticks and blushes. Gloss stocks the most extensive range of BYS cosmetics, so after a few unfruitful attempts to find the specific products I wanted at Kmart and two dollar shops, I headed to the QVB store to have a look. I picked up two lipsticks (Flamingo Pink and Champagne Rain) and a blush in Coral.

l-r: Flamingo Pink, Coral, Champagne Rain

At $3.95 for each lipstick and blush, you can afford to take home whatever catches your fancy from the wide range on offer. On the downside, the packaging is quite flimsy (the plastic cap of one of the lipsticks has already cracked) and I find the blush has an unpleasant chemical smell, similar to what turned me off the Shadow Puppets nail polish, but not as strong. Having said that, the lipsticks are quite creamy and well pigmented. Flamingo Pink is a fun, bright fuchsia and Champagne Rain is a flattering pinkish nude. The blush is a very pigmented, so you only need the tiniest amount to add a shimmery coral wash to your cheeks. Application with such a strong colour can get a little tricky because you don't want to end up looking like a clown or crustacean. With blush, I find it's better to err on the side of caution and have a little less on than too much. I like how Lisa Eldridge applies a coppery cream blush in her Navy Smokey Eye tutorial (at 6:30) to the model's face with just the smallest amount. The colour looks barely there, but it's enough to add noticeable warmth to the complexion and perfectly complement the cool, dark blue tones of the eyes.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

For the Camera

Revlon PhotoReady Liquid Foundation

Revlon PhotoReady Makeup liquid foundation has been on the market for a while now and there's no shortage of opinion online about it. I first tried this product with a 15ml sample in 005 Natural Beige that was part of a Revlon gift with purchase promotion in 2010. The shade is too dark for my skin tone, but I only used a small amount around the edges of my nose and my forehead (which is naturally darker than the rest of my face) and blended thoroughly, so it wasn't too noticeable. Back then, I was just getting into makeup and didn't really have any particular opinion on the foundation, except that it seemed to apply smoothly and covered my areas of redness and unevenness well. I didn't notice any shimmer at all, probably due to the fact I used so little. In fact, it wasn't until a friend pointed out that she'd read reviews of people complaining the foundation made them look like Edward Cullen in sunlight that I even noticed it contained fine shimmery particles.

Now that I have purchased and used quite a number of foundations, I can give my thoughts on PhotoReady with more consideration. Overall, I think PhotoReady is a wonderful product, but it works best if you already have quite good skin. I'm not sure if something happens in terms of your skin's response after you use a foundation for a while, but for several months I used PhotoReady exclusively and daily without any issues, until one day, it started to accentuate my dry areas quite badly. Maybe this was because the condition of my skin had worsened, or my skin had become used to the foundation and no longer responded well to it. A problem that I have with most foundations, PhotoReady included, is that although it looks dewy and fresh when first applied in the morning, come the afternoon, it starts slipping off, flaking and drying up on my skin. At the same time, if you apply the foundation all over your face and you have combination or oily skin, you'll end up quite shiny in your T-zone.

On a day to day basis, I don't generally reach for PhotoReady anymore because of the problems I'm experiencing with it accentuating my dry areas and drying up on my skin, unless I'm having a good skin day, or I've moisturised with a rich cream beforehand. However, if I'm attending an event where I know I'll be photographed, PhotoReady is the one foundation I'll use. That's because the product does truly live up to its name. I don't pay much attention to what apparent scientific reason there is in the formulation, but from experience, this foundation photographs beautifully. It just gives a radiant glow to the face that no other foundation I own can achieve. PhotoReady also gives a pleasing dewiness to the skin when freshly applied which doesn't look or feel oily or heavy. Another huge plus is the shade 004 Nude is the closest match to my skin colour of all the foundations I've tried.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Pink Overload

Remember when I said pink wasn't my best colour? That inconvenient fact hasn't stopped me from seemingly buying every single pink lipstick that comes into my sight. My pink lipstick collection is rivalled only by my coral lipstick collection. You could say I have a bit of a lip product problem. It started with my first Passionfruit Lipsmacker as a kid, then progressed to Caboodles lip gloss and The Body Shop lip balms in junior high school (the Kiwi flavour in the old school 15ml tub was the best ever), and finally lipstick in my teens. Until about half a year ago, I'd always been more interested in lip balm/gloss than lipstick. I'm not sure what sparked it, but since the middle of last year, my lipstick collection grew from a select few that I mostly purchased years ago, to having enough lipstick to last several years. Aside from the reason of my burgeoning preoccupation with makeup in general, I think my newly formed preference for lipstick had something to do with my attraction to the way a lipstick colour could transform a whole face.

My pink lipstick selection (featured in the pictures below, from left to right):
  • Revlon ColorBurst in Petal (sheer, shimmery, slightly dusty medium pink)
  • Sportsgirl Pout About It! in Beauty Queen (sheer, glossy, light-medium pink)
  • Revlon Super Lustrous in Primrose (cool-toned pink with purple tones)
  • Maybelline Color Sensational in Plaza Pink (darker pink leaning towards mauve)
  • Revlon Matte in Pink Pout (similar to Primrose but warmer and not as purple)
  • Revlon Matte in Sky Pink (soft bubblegum pink)
  • Australis Colour Inject Mineral Lipstick in Jive (blue-based medium pink)

They're all quite similar, with the exception of Plaza Pink, which is clearly darker than the rest and more a rosy brown, and Sky Pink, which is the lightest shade.

l-r: Petal, Beauty Queen, Primrose, Plaza Pink, Pink Pout, Sky Pink, Jive

Seven lipsticks later, I still don't think I've found the pink for me. That could just be because they simply don't work with my yellow skin tone and my already decently pigmented lips. Of the ones I have, Petal, Primrose and Pink Pout probably are the most wearable. Sky Pink is my favourite colour in and of itself, but when applied, washes me out and accentuates the yellowness of my skin because it is such a vibrant pastel pink. At least I know if my skin magically turns paler and cool-toned, I'll have all the pink lipstick I could possibly need. In the meantime, there's always my coral lipsticks...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Rock That Hue

I'm not really a jewellery-inclined girl. I could count the pieces of proper jewellery I own on the fingers of one hand, mostly gifts from my parents. I used to collect cheap earrings when I was younger, but most of them never saw the light of day. My ears have been pierced since Year 4, but they're usually unadorned, except for a period when I wore simple studs, or special occasions where I bring out a dangly pair. I tend not to wear necklaces or bracelets, partly because I simply don't like any of them enough to want to wear them, and partly because I find them superfluous and hard to coordinate with the rest of my outfit.

It's only when I find myself drawn to something that I begin to envisage the possibilities. I become convinced that I need a certain piece in my possession to coordinate and complete my wardrobe. When something just accords with my exact tastes, I'd want to wear it all the time. Enter this ring from Magnolia Silver Jewellery.

A simple, thin sterling silver band designed to showcase a round, multifaceted pale jade stone. The size, colour and slight translucence makes it look quite novel, almost like a ring pop, but the shape, cut and materials add refinement and quality. Best paired with an eggshell, cream, dove grey or taupe nail polish and ideal for adding a tranquil element of colour to my primarily neutral-based wardrobe.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Gold Flecked

When I saw Sportsgirl All That Glitters nail polish in the QVB store last week, I couldn't resist the way the bottle called to me, with its light-reflecting hexagonal gold glitter suspended in a gold flecked clear base. This polish doesn't apply glitter densely like these 2 OPI ones, so it seems intended more as a top coat that disperses a few pieces of glitter atop a nail for added interest. Knowing me, a few measly pieces of glitter just couldn't do. I had to go all out and do about a bazillion coats to achieve the effect I desired. After more time than I'd care to admit, I finally had the loud, blingy, OTT nails I wanted. Just a suggestion though ... this is not a process to attempt if one has a life.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Beauty Favourites

A few products that I really love, in no particular order. 

1. Klorane dry shampoo with oat milk I tend to wash my hair every second day at night. This product is a lifesaver for those times when I cannot gather the energy nor inclination to wash my hair, and when sleeping as soon as possible is a higher priority than clean, shiny hair the following morning. I shake the bottle and spray some of this stuff on my roots in the morning, wait a couple of minutes and brush through. It makes my limp, oily and dirty hair look freshly washed and effectively soaks up my greasy scalp for the whole day. An incredible time and effort saver, this dry shampoo can also be used on clean locks to add volume and texture, especially in combination with backcombing.

2. Maybelline Baby Lips in Relieving Menthol My go-to lip balm, I take this everywhere I go. Ever since this was released in Australia, I've gone through several tubes and need to stock up again. It glides on smoothly and distributes the right amount of balm to the lips, instantly providing minty relief. I wear this lip balm overnight and I do find that in the morning my lips feel soft and moisturised. It can be applied before lipstick as a base to prep the lips, or over lipstick for extra moisture and to add a subtle sheen.

3. Korres Lip Butter in Pomegranate This creamy, coral-tinted lip balm softens the lips while adding a pop of colour and comes in an elegantly designed pot. It is fairly pigmented so I sometimes use this on my cheeks as a cream blush for a healthy, rosy flush. It is a little pricey (retailing in Australia for $18.95) compared with most lip balms, but for the high quality and beautiful packaging, it's well worth it. I'd love to collect these in the other shades available, particularly Jasmine, Quince and Wild Rose.

4. Jurlique Rose Hand Cream Smells heavenly like Turkish Delight and a small amount goes a long way. Non-greasy and fast absorbing. My favourite hand cream, hands down. I'm also a fan of Jurlique's Rosewater Balancing Mist which I liberally spray to my face when I feel like a refreshing, hydrating spritz.

5. Bourjois Liner Feutre in Noir Part of my daily makeup routine, this eyeliner is long lasting and inky, with the felt tip enabling easy and precise application for creating a winged eye.

6. Shiseido Eyelash Curler A step that I rarely neglect before applying masara is curling my lashes. This curler fits well with the shape of my eye and gets very close to the base of the lashes, forming a noticeable upwards curl. Mascara then becomes easier to apply and has a greater effect.

7. Swisspers Cucumber Facial Cleansing Wipes Convenient, generously sized and damp with enough product to remove a face full of makeup. Leaves the skin feeling cleansed and toned. These facial wipes also have a refreshing and clean scent that isn't overpowering or unpleasantly synthetic smelling.

8. Revlon ColorBurst Lipstick in Soft Nude Finding that elusive perfect nude lipstick can be a lengthy, disappointing and costly process. Thankfully my search is over. This balanced nude is warmed by tones of pink and peach, resulting in a flattering, understated and very wearable colour. The ColorBurst lipsticks easily rival higher end brands, with beautiful shades, a creamy and moisturising formulation that applies well to the lips, and sophisticated quilted packaging. What's not to love.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Disco Nails

No one does glitter nail polish like OPI. Other glitter nail polishes are typically disappointing, requiring a tedious number of coats to cover the nail (or needing specific application to even out coverage). They also tend to be quite boring, consisting of the same type of glitter in clear nail polish. Not OPI. These nail polishes are positively packed with different kinds of glitter that apply densely to the nail, resulting in the ultimate eye-catching, sparkling party nails.

Rainbow Connection, "The Muppets" Collection

Teenage Dream, Katy Perry Collection

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sweet Tooth

A few sugary goodies that I indulged in during Christmas time...

There's just something about dainty miniature cupcakes and colourful macarons that peps the spirit and reminds one of the simple pleasures in life. As Tommy Haverford would say, treat yourself.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Colour Inject

A few months ago, I managed to collect 6 Australis Colour Inject Mineral Lipsticks in a matter of days on some crazed spending spree. In hindsight, as attractive as the colours are on offer, half of them are either completely superfluous or almost unwearable. I'm often drawn to lipstick shades for the way they look in the tube, only to find they're less than flattering when applied. Unfortunately, this was the case for the beige/nude Mambo, which is too similar to my skin tone, making me look pallid and lifeless. Samba and Boogie Woogie are nearly the same colour on my lips, the only difference being Samba is a more muted rosy brown, while Boogie Woogie is a brighter version with fuchsia overtones. Foxtrot is a dark plummy shade, ideal for an autumnal statement lip. Limited Edition 1 literally looks like a dark purple crayon, but is actually a reddish grape colour. I probably wouldn't wear this applied directly to my lips, but surprisingly it's one of my favourites as it leaves a gorgeous berry stain when taken off. Jive is a medium pink that is passable on me, though I think it would better suit fairer, cooler skin tones. As much as I gravitate towards pink (especially the lighter end of the spectrum), I need to accept the reality that it's not my best colour.

 l-r: Limited Edition 1, Jive, Foxtrot, Mambo, Boogie Woogie, Samba

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Another Teddy

Essence Kajal Pencil in Teddy. A smooth-gliding, rich, dark brown with a slight metallic sheen. I've read this could be considered a dupe for MAC's famed eyeliner of the same name, though from memory MAC's Teddy has more gold shimmer and appears more multidimensional. However, considering MAC Eye Kohl retails for 16 times the price, this alternative more than fits the bill if you're looking for something similar.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Lychee Crush

I have way too much lipstick as it is, but when I spotted Face of Australia's Lip Quench lipstick in Lychee Crush, I couldn't resist. The shade is a nudeish peachy pink perfect for the summer. It's an understated colour which fills the void in my collection between my bright corals/tangerine (like Revlon's Melonade and Sportsgirl's Fruit Tingle) and my pinks. The formula is SPF30+ and contains shea butter and jojoba oil, but the lipstick tends to accentuate any dryness and lines, so if your lips aren't in the best condition, it'd be a good idea to exfoliate and moisturise beforehand for smooth application.

Makeup Brush Collection

My current collection comprises:
  • Real Techniques Stippling Brush
  • Real Techniques Core Collection (Detailer Brush, Pointed Foundation Brush, Buffing Brush, Contour Brush)
  • Real Techniques Powder Blush
  • Real Techniques Blush Brush
  • Ecotools by Alicia Silverstone Brush Set (Finishing Brush, Blush Brush, Angled Eyeshadow Brush, Lash and Brow Groomer)
  • Rimmel Foundation Brush (gift with purchase of Match Perfection Cream Gel Foundation)
  • Australis Mineral Eyeshadow Contouring Brush 
  • Models Prefer Small Eyeshadow Brush
  • Sportsgirl 'Brush with Fame' Eyeshadow Brush
  • Manicare Angled Brush

The Real Techniques brushes were purchased recently at S A Hair Nail & Beauty Supplies in the Dymocks Building on George Street, while the Ecotools set was bought at Priceline many months ago.

I use the soft and dense Real Techniques Buffing Brush to apply liquid foundation to my face by moving the brush in a circular motion. I tried the Rimmel Foundation Brush once and that was such a streaky mess I had to abort the process midway and ended up just blending with my fingers. I primarily use the Real Techniques Contour Brush to apply powder highlighter to the top of my cheekbones and the Detailer Brush to apply shimmery light eyeshadow to the inner corners of my eyes (though it could also be used as a lip brush). I haven't found the need to use the Pointed Foundation Brush yet, but I think it would be handy for applying concealer under the eyes. The Blush Brush is gorgeous to look at and super soft, but I find it a little difficult to evenly blend powder blush with it, perhaps due to the shape of the brush. I prefer the Ecotools Blush Brush as I get better results.

The Real Techniques Stippling Brush I originally thought I'd use in the same way as the Buffing Brush, but I find that it applies liquid foundation quite streakily if used in a circular, buffing motion. I need to lightly dapple it over my face to minimise streakiness which I don't particularly like, as I find the tips of the bristles harden when damp due to the liquid foundation, so it feels prickly on my skin. In that sense the Stippling Brush has been a relative disappointment for me, given the rave reviews I've read about it. It is ideal however, for applying and blending blush and highlighter. I prefer the Ecotools Finishing Brush to apply bronzer and powder (and occasionally blush), as it is a much softer, larger brush that doesn't pick up as much product but disperses it beautifully. The large and fairly dense Real Techniques Powder Brush feels soft on the skin and applies loose and pressed powder well, especially to mattify the dewiness of freshly applied liquid foundation and give a more polished finish.

I use a cheap Sportsgirl Eyeshadow Brush to apply my eyeshadow. They can be purchased for $2.95 and I own several brushes. The synthetic bristles aren't the softest ever but they do the job and I like how the brush is double ended, with a smaller brush on one end and a larger one on the other. The larger brush can be used to blend eyeshadows, apply a sheer wash of colour to the lid and highlight the brow bone. I use the Manicare Angled Brush with gel eyeliner to define my lower lashline, and to line and wing out my top lid on days when I don't feel like using liquid eyeliner pen.
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