Sunday, April 27, 2014

Flakie Fantasy

There hasn't been a nail polish in recent memory that I've become so unreasonably fixated on than Essie Shine of the Times. You may recall my Essie collection post, where I mentioned it was the one absent polish that prevented me from feeling my collection was "complete". I recall trawling through pages and pages of Google search results, trying desperately to find an online stockist, even making an order from a random website, only to have them email me the next day to say they hadn't updated their inventory and Shine of the Times was actually out of stock. My last option was eBay where I found one seller willing to ship internationally, but at a considerable cost (for a nail polish, at least). Enter Liz, the brains behind one of my favourite beauty blogs Beauty Reductionista, who so kindly offered to send me her unloved bottle from Canada. It was almost a surreal moment when the package arrived in the post and the darn thing was finally in my hands. My eternal and heartfelt gratitude to her for making it happen.

l-r: Essie Shine of the Times over Rimmel Aye, Aye, Sailor, Nails Inc. Porchester Square, Revlon Cloud, Sally Hansen Jaded

Essie Shine of the Times over bare nail

Having (over)familiarised myself with Shine of the Times from my intense Googling, I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. Thankfully, when I applied this on my nails the first time, it was exactly as I'd anticipated, sky high bar and all. I think what makes Shine of the Times truly unique is how concentrated the flakie effect is, and the way that the polish spreads over the nail in a packed, scaly/mottled pattern.

There are probably similar iridescent glitter polishes like Revlon Heavenly (said to be a dupe of Deborah Lippmann Stairway to Heaven) and China Glaze Snow Globe, but the appearance on the nail isn't the same. Heavenly consists of square/hexagonal glitter and Snow Globe smaller, rounded dots of glitter, but I'm inclined to categorise Shine of the Times as an entirely different beast altogether. With the Revlon and China Glaze, I can still spot the individual glitter pieces, and they produce a kind of scattered or pebbled look. They're both somewhat gloopy formulas that apply relatively thickly (and potentially unevenly) as well. The Essie, on the other hand, is more like a thin but remarkable overlay on the nail that applies incredibly smoothly. There isn't any added texture if you apply it as a top coat, it's completely flat on the surface of the nail and just adds this colour-flashing, shimmering effect. Come to think of it, the closest match I have is Australis Crystal Colour Top Coat in Speck-tacular, albeit at literally 1/10th the density, more distinct, sparse shreds, and more of the blue/purple end of the spectrum.

I loved experimenting with different base colours to see what combination I liked the best. While a dark creme like the blackish navy Rimmel 60 Seconds Nail Polish in Aye, Aye, Sailor had the highest contrast, there was a bit too much orange/green in there for my liking. I preferred it over lighter, more pastel shades, where the effect was toned down and more delicate. Over the bare nail and paler colours, it flashes more peach, pink and gold, compared with more copper and lime over dark colours. There does appear to be more noticeable blue and purple in Revlon Heavenly and China Glaze Snow Globe, but Shine of the Times certainly isn't lacking because of it. My surprising favourite base to pair it with was Nails Inc. Porchester Square, which I thought might be a nonevent as it's such a tame neutral. Somehow, it serves as the perfect canvas to showcase Shine of the Times in all its glory.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Stylish Selma

Blogging is proving to be a serious obstacle to any conscientious attempt at resisting material indulgences. The latest proof: this navy Michael Kors Large Selma Top-Zip Satchel that I spotted on The Mod Mermaid several weeks ago. It was instant obsession. Suddenly, I felt like I had been living under a rock all this time, oblivious to the beauty of this bag. I had vague recollections of seeing it before, possibly in other variations (colours, detailing, sizes), but I'd never paid much attention, dismissing Michael Kors bags as "not my style". I normally have a strong preference for slouchy leather (my last major bag splurge was the Mulberry Alexa), but recently I've found myself warming to more structured pieces. Blame it on the popularity of the Céline Luggage and Prada Saffiano Totes, but I wanted a piece of the action.

The main aspect that sealed the deal for me was the relatively affordable price tag. By no means is this a cheap purchase, but compared with luxury brands like Céline or Prada, the Selma is within reach. It's part of the more affordable diffusion line MICHAEL Michael Kors and retails for $459 in Australia ($358 in the US). I actually made a hasty visit to the Michael Kors store at Westfield Sydney but they only had the brown, black and a bright blue. I was fixated on the navy as the only option I'd consider, so I had to resort to purchasing it online. Shopbop didn't have the navy, Bloomingdale's never sent me my 10% off code after I'd signed up to their mailing list, so it was Nordstrom all the way. I did have to pay over $40 for international shipping, but in the end it worked out roughly the same price as the Australian retail after factoring in shipping costs and US currency conversion.

I'm genuinely so pleased with the Selma, and despite the unexpected splurge, I think it's one of my more savvy bag purchases. It's a beautifully made bag that looks more expensive than it is. A lot of people have commented or complimented me on it the first few times I've worn it out. The leather and gold hardware are refined and understated, and the bag appears more luxurious and higher quality than its price might suggest. My pet peeve with expensive bags is gold hardware/detailing that looks gaudy, overly shiny or "fake", but thankfully the Selma has no such problem. The stiff, structured leather also seems like it would wear well over time and not become a crumpled mess when stored away like some of my slouchy bags (though I'm partly to blame for not stuffing them). It's not the roomiest of bags and I find the base is fairly narrow (at least compared with the bottomless caverns I'm used to), but it fits all my daily essentials. The additional strap gives it extra versatility and functionality, as the bag can be carried over the shoulder, cross body, in the crook of the arm or by the handles.

With its structured look and clean, elegant design, I think it's an ideal office/work bag, or an accessory that makes any outfit more sophisticated and polished. I see this being a timeless, classic piece that I can keep in my wardrobe for years to come — provided I keep it in fairly good condition!

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Medicinal Approach

I've been increasingly hearing more about First Aid Beauty, mainly through Ingrid of missglamorazzi, so when I spotted the Forever Fab Kit on sale at David Jones, grabby hands ensued. (Thanks goes to Cherie for the heads up in the first place that F.A.B. was being discontinued and marked down to be cleared at DJs.) Containing a small tube of Ultra Repair Cream (56.7g), Detox Eye Roller (8.5ml) and Facial Radiance Pads (60 pads), the three-piece set seemed to be an ideal introduction to the brand. I was also hoping to find the Ultra Repair Instant Oatmeal Mask raved about by Fleur De Force but there weren't any left.

Ultra Repair Cream
I'm guessing this is one of the star products in the F.A.B. range, so I was excited to try it out and hopefully be impressed. At first I thought it was a face cream, but it's actually an all-purpose cream for dry skin which can be used for the body as well. Since I only have a small tube of this but litres of combined random body moisturisers I've yet to use, I've reserved the Ultra Repair Cream for my face only. To me, it's a fairly simple, straightforward, well-formulated cream. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of bells and whistles or potential nasties with it, and it has a distinctly medicinal feel and scent. You need only a small amount for the face and once it's absorbed, it leaves the skin soft and moisturised without feeling greasy. I'd pick this for sensitive skin that might be suffering from breakouts or other irritations, or skin that's drier than normal, for example during the winter. It's free of mineral oil and relatively affordable compared with say, Trilogy, Jurlique or Antipodes (the 56.7g tube is $12 in the US), so I can see this being a repurchased staple for those with an uncomplicated approach to their skin care (men included).

Facial Radiance Pads
These are smallish, bumpy/textured circular pads soaked in solution. There's all the good stuff you'd expect in exfoliating pads, including lactic and glycolic acids, as well as cucumber, Indian gooseberry, lemon peel and licorice root. I've read that some people cut the pads in half to double the number of uses, since the pads do hold a lot of product in them. I have tried that, and while there's more than enough to do both the entire face and neck, I found moving a small semicircle around my face to be pretty awkward. At the same time, using one with so much product still left on it does seem somewhat wasteful. These have a slightly unpleasant chemical smell and they feel kind of harsh and drying on the skin, a complaint exacerbated by the textured surface of the pad which seems to be a form of exfoliation in itself. Perhaps that's just the exfoliation working effectively (Alpha-H Liquid Gold leaves a similar sensation), but I much prefer using something more gentle and hydrating like Pixi Glow Tonic.

Detox Eye Roller
Paula Begoun was not a fan, and while I take her opinion with a grain of salt, it did make me slightly wary of this product. She makes the point that it contains irritants such as witch hazel and menthol which can worsen eye-area problems rather than assist them. I'm not a huge believer in eye creams and treatments in general as I don't really comprehend the need for different or specialised products for that area compared with the rest of the face. This Detox Eye Roller is just something I use if I remember. I have accumulated quite a number of eye creams, balms and gels, and most are neglected purely due to laziness, forgetfulness and a sense of their redundancy. I do enjoy the cooling sensation from the menthol, but apparently that's my skin reacting to an irritant rather than any beneficial effect occurring. The instructions state to roll the metal tip from the inner to outer corners of the undereye area 2 to 3 times. From experience, that number is overkill and dispenses way too much product. Just once is enough for me.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Correcting Claims

Of course I wasn't planning on buying a new foundation, but Lisa Eldridge's terrible influence and Priceline's 40% off sale proved to be a persuasive combination. Along with the good reputation Bourjois enjoys when it comes to their base products, I figured $15 wasn't too steep a price to pay to hopefully be blown away. As usual, the hardest part was selecting the right shade. Annoyingly, there wasn't a tester for 32 Light Beige, so I settled for 33 Rose Beige after trying some on and not noticing any major issues.

Bourjois 123 Perfect CC Cream SPF 15 has a lightweight texture and is decently hydrating, though I'm not sure about the "24 hour hydration" claims. It reminds me of a slightly more fluid, sheerer version of Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum, but instead of the juicy apricot smell, the fragrance is cloying and powdery. It also isn't anywhere near as glowy, with more of a subdued, skin-like finish. I definitely feel it's less coverage than Healthy Mix Serum, though around the same wear time. With its sheerer coverage, runnier consistency, and thin, long nozzle, I also find it reminiscent of Garnier BB Cream Miracle Skin Perfector (Combination to Oily Skin). The Bourjois is easier to work into the skin than the Garnier, but it's not as dewy and illuminating.

Rose Beige is far from the perfect colour match for me which is a major downside. It's darker and more pinkish tan than my skin tone, which leans more yellow/beige. At the same time, I doubt the shade lighter would have matched me exactly either. This seems to be a recurrent issue I have with Bourjois foundations, since I also fall in between 52 Vanille and 53 Beige clair in Healthy Mix Serum. It's unfortunate that Bourjois can't be more subtle with their shade gradations, but I suppose the lack of variety and colour specificity is to be expected of more affordable brands. If I sheer it out, it's not so much an issue, but it's obvious when I focus on the difference between my face and noticeably paler, yellower neck.

Despite being touted as "anti-fatigue", "anti-redness" and "anti-dark spots" (with counteracting apricot, green and white pigments respectively), I didn't notice any colour correcting properties. For me, the coverage simply isn't there for it to camouflage any redness. I could still see all my patches of irritation and blemishes after applying one layer. As far as being brightening, both Healthy Mix Serum and the Garnier BB Cream give far more luminosity to the complexion. This CC Cream isn't exactly matte, but it's not distinctly radiance-boosting either.

On top of all that, my main issue is that it doesn't seem to set very well, especially when paired with a thicker moisturiser like my Antipodes Vanilla Pod Hydrating Day Cream. It's almost still wet after it's applied and I need to powder all over to mattify my skin. Even then, an hour later if I press a tissue over my face to minimise unwanted transfer and blot away any shine, a significant amount of foundation comes off on it — much more than what I'd consider normal. It's almost like the foundation hasn't absorbed or worked into the skin properly and is primarily just sitting on the surface, easily rubbed off.

For now, I'm still using it daily as it's a solid pick for an easygoing daytime base that looks quite natural, but it's certainly no love affair. It's probably most suited to those with already good skin slightly on the drier side. Otherwise, pass on this if you're looking for more coverage, a more budge-proof, transfer-resistant formulation and a glowy finish.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Brush with e.l.f.

With Kmart beginning to stock e.l.f., the affordable US cosmetics brand recently became widely available in Australia. While everything was predictably more expensive than in the States, the sad reality is the price point for the range remains inexpensive by local standards. I wasn't interested in any of the makeup (trying to honour my New Year's beauty resolution of buying less, despite early slip ups), but I wanted to give their brushes a go. I've always heard good feedback about their brush line, especially being so budget-friendly. The Essential line of brushes are $3 a piece here (compared with $1 in the States), while the brushes in the Studio line are $8 (compared with $3 in the States). Despite the triple markup, I purchased the Essential Eyeshadow Brush, Essential Blending Eye Brush and Studio Blush Brush to try.

l-r: e.l.f. Essential Eyeshadow Brush, e.l.f. Essential Blending Eye Brush, e.l.f. Studio Blush Brush

l-r: Sportsgirl dual-ended brush, Real Techniques Domed Shadow Brush, e.l.f. Eyeshadow Brush

l-r: Ecotools Smudge Brush, e.l.f. Blending Eye Brush, Ecotools Blending Brush

The two eyeshadow brushes I picked out seem to be the most popular and well-received of e.l.f.'s Essential range, so my expectations were fairly high despite how affordable they were. Before anything, I gave them a good wash with Daiso Detergent for Puff and Sponge and not a single hair shed which was a positive start. After they'd dried and I'd used them for the first time, I was pleased at how soft the bristles were without being floppy and hard to control.

The Essential Eyeshadow Brush seems designed for the basic job of packing on a single colour all over the eyelid. It picked up a good amount of shadow, especially with the lighter shade I used, without resulting in too much fallout. The only issue I had was the length of the bristles which I found a bit too short. Occasionally I'd feel the cold, hard ferrule on my lid rather than the actual brush hair.

The Essential Blending Eye Brush was excellent at concentrating a deeper colour on the outer-V of the eye and blending into the crease. It fits really snugly into the crease (or disappears into the skin fold, if you have monolids) and deposits colour accurately. The smaller, rounded shape allows for better control and placement compared with something much larger and fluffier, like the Ecotools Blending Brush from the Bamboo 5 Piece Brush Set. Together, the Eyeshadow Brush and the Blending Eye Brush make eyeshadow application a simple, approachable 2-step process that even eyeshadow novices can master.

l-r: Real Techniques Setting Brush, Real Techniques Contour Brush, e.l.f. Blush Brush, Ecotools Blush Brush

Out of the Studio line, I was tempted by the gigantic Kabuki Face Brush but in the end, I had to go with the Blush Brush. Mainly, I was intrigued by the shape of it, which is significantly smaller than what I'm accustomed to in a blush brush. It actually reminded me of the SUQQU "Kitten Paw" Cheek Brush beloved by Lisa Eldridge, though that could be more because both are all black than anything else. Notwithstanding other major quality/materials/craftsmanship/price differences, the SUQQU appears more fluffy and rounded, whereas this e.l.f. one is mainly flat.

Of course, I had to try the brush with e.l.f.'s own Studio Blushes. I whipped out my oft-neglected Pink Passion, a colour I've struggled with and been frequently intimidated by as it's so bright and pigmented. Using the Studio Blush Brush, with its flat edge and smaller shape, gave me far greater control as to placement and opacity. I could concentrate the colour exactly where I wanted it on the cheek and build up the pigmentation slowly with each layer. I think the Studio Blush Brush has the potential to make more accessible any strongly pigmented blush that more traditional blush brushes would overdo. I don't have anything similar in shape, so it's a welcome addition to my brush collection.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Shop My Stash #3

Whenever I reach a point of makeup saturation, I'm always encouraged to have a good rummage through my storage in an attempt to bring back to my attention products I've neglected or have long forgotten about. There's nothing quite like methodically working your way through the contents of each drawer (yes, including those decade-old eyeshadows, barely used palettes and that random blush from ALDI) to confront the reality of one's addiction and excesses. At the same time, I often rediscover items that deserve either a second chance, or the opportunity to shine and be loved once more. Here, I've pulled out seven things I hope to reignite my enthusiasm about and use more frequently in the coming weeks.

Benefit Ultra Plush Lip Gloss in Dallas
Out of the whole High Flyin' Glosses set, I remember Dallas surprised me the most. Named after the plummy-leaning blush, I didn't think the colour in the tube was anything inspiring. On the lips however, it's a different story. Firstly, there's no sparkle or shimmer, so it's more a tinted lip cream with a thin, glide-on consistency. The shade is a medium rosy nude with just the right mix of red and brown to remain flattering and sophisticated, rather than dated and mature-looking. The sheerness and the soft sheen that it leaves also make it super easy to throw on casually and reapply.

NYX Eye/Eyebrow Pencil in Dark Brown (903)
I originally bought this thinking it would be an excellent eyebrow pencil. And it very well could be, except I rarely ever fill in my brows. Hence this pencil is almost in a brand new condition despite purchasing it probably a couple of years ago. It seems like such a waste of a perfectly good product, so I've decided to give its other function a whirl and use it to define my lower lash line. It's a bit warmer than my usual brown/taupe picks and slightly red-toned on me, but it'll do the job just fine.

Bourjois Blush in Rose Coup de Foudre (16)
In retrospect, I probably could have stopped at 2-3 of these round pot blushes from Bourjois when I saw them on sale at Target, rather than madly grabbing 5. I find some of them to be virtually indistinguishable from each other when blended onto the cheek. Having said that, I remember getting home after hauling them, trying on each of the shades and feeling Rose Coup de Foudre was the definite standout. I loved the glow that it gave me and how I suddenly looked fresher, healthier, more radiant. Annoyingly, these blushes do seal and I have to comb the surface with a toothpick to release any pigment. I've effectively scratched off the top layer in anticipation of some proper wear very soon.

Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré
This French moisturiser has such a cult reputation that I was compelled to fork out $28 for a 75ml tube from Scotty's Makeup at the Spa & Beauty Expo. I found myself preferring to use it as a primer rather than moisturiser, or layering it over other moisturisers in winter, but I ended up abandoning it after a while mostly due to concerns about its mineral oil content. After experimenting with more "natural" products and not being entirely convinced about their superiority, I'm now a lot less bothered by mineral oil in my skin care. I want to give this moisturiser another go, if only to finish the tube since it's fairly old. Plus, the allure of a product purportedly used by models, makeup artists and celebrities can't be denied.

Laura Mercier Mineral Powder SPF 15 in Real Sand
My sole glaring issue with this mineral powder is the shade. Too light for me. Which might not even be that big of an issue for a liquid foundation, but a powder one? That's tricky. I'm determined to make this work though, because it's too good of a product to rarely ever use. Perhaps a light dusting of this all over using a soft stippling brush (Ecotools by Alicia Silverstone Finishing Brush comes to mind) as a final perfecting powder.

Rimmel Match Perfection Cream Gel Foundation in Soft Beige (200)
I know this is a favourite of Emma's and I can see why. If your skin is cooperating, this provides good coverage, blends easily, feels lightweight and cooling on the skin, sets quickly and dries to an almost matte finish. My main problems with it are the colour match (Soft Beige is a touch too dark for me), the fiddly jar it's contained in (I have to scoop out the product each time with fingers which seems unsanitary, even if they've been freshly washed) and the mostly matte, drier finish which at times looks quite flat on the skin. I also had a particularly bad skin reaction after using this foundation not long after I first bought it which put me off using it again. I did recently give it another go and felt it was a solid performing base. It does have better coverage than most of my other everyday foundations which are sheerer, dewier and more liquid in consistency, so I might also try spot concealing with it using a small brush like the Real Techniques Accent Brush.

Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow in Birthday Suit
Ahhh, Birthday Suit. I wanted to love you bad. But it just didn't work out the way I hoped. I'm not ready to give up entirely though. Maybe I can find a way to accept you for who you are and work with it. In a nutshell, Birthday Suit is a light chrome base with gold shimmer. Honestly, not the best on sallow, yellow-toned complexions, especially those with an olive tinge. While it might not be my dream eyeshadow, I think it works well for quick, casual and fuss-free makeup, like on weekend coffee dates with friends. Something similar in function to my beloved Essence Eye Soufflé in Pas des Copper, which I rarely wear on weekdays while I'm at the office, but I frequently reach for at all other times (weekends, days off, holidays) for the speediest one-wash look that adds sparkle and definition without ever going overboard.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Taking a Shine to China Glaze

Following on from my Essie nail polish collection, I thought I'd dedicate a post to my smallish stash of China Glaze polishes. To the best of my knowledge, I don't even think China Glaze is stocked in any major Australian stores or chemists. I personally have only purchased my polishes online (Luxe and Lush, IV, It's a Trap-eze!), from Paddy's Markets (Stellar, Snow Globe, Techno), or random discounted pro nail stores (Swing Baby, For Audrey). If they weren't so hard to find and buy, no doubt I'd have a lot more.

l-r: Techno, For Audrey, Luxe and Lush, Swing Baby

This was one of the first crazy glitter polishes I bought, so back then when the concept was still fairly novel, it was absolutely irresistible to me. Techno glimmers and dazzles like a billion-faceted disco ball in the bottle. On the nail however, it's a bit less exciting. Pedestrian, even. It's basically small holographic, hexagonal glitter, with holographic normal glitter in a clear base. I've previously paired it with Revlon Blue Lagoon, and while the density of the glitter grabs your attention, it's all a bit too much. With Techno, I think less is more. I'd be more inclined now to paint just one coat over a creme base for added festivity.

For Audrey
Probably among the best known China Glaze shades (if not the best known), and a polish on my wishlist for a considerable length of time before I managed to get my hands on it. I already have an entire post on For Audrey here, and my thoughts haven't changed much since. If you like the idea of wearing the iconic Tiffany & Co. blue on your nails, this is the polish for you.

Luxe and Lush
When swatches of the The Hunger Games Capitol Colors Collection started popping up, the only must-have for me was Luxe and Lush. At the time, the idea of a shredded flakie was completely new to me, so it opened my eyes up to a whole new world of layering possibilities. I tried it with a black base but the shards of glitter appeared predominately yellow, green and orange, which I didn't particularly like. I much prefer glitter/flakies that flash more pink, purple and opalescent, or at least a mix of everything. I think I might try it over a light blue base like Sinful Colors Cinderella next, as demonstrated by Jen. I find the glitter in Luxe and Lush to be very dense, almost to its detriment as it can get slightly lumpy and chunky, especially with its thicker formula.

Swing Baby
Back when I was obsessing (literally, not figuratively) over Orly Rage, I looked up reviews online and read that Swing Baby was similar. Naturally, if I frustratingly couldn't source Rage anywhere, I needed the next closest thing (because, you know, Revlon Crème Brûlée, Chi Chi Go Go Girl and Ulta3 Envy didn't cut it). Now that I have both Rage and Swing Baby, I can say that Swing Baby isn't even that close. Rage is lighter, more of a warm gold, with rose gold tones. Swing Baby is darker, more taupe and pewter, with a distinct greenish tinge to my eyes. It's not really the kind of colour I normally go for, so it now just sits in the nail polish category "Failed Polishes I Bought to Fill the Orly Rage Void".

l-r: Snow Globe, Stellar, IV, It's a Trap-eze!

Snow Globe
One of the most delicate and whimsical glitter concoctions I've encountered and very aptly named. Undoubtedly one of my favourite nail polishes ever. Snow Globe can simply be described as beautiful, though I summed up the colours I see in it before: "turquoise, peridot, amber, peach, cornflower blue, lavender". The base isn't completely clear, it's more slightly milky and white, which makes it even more reminiscent of an actual snow globe.

I picked this up on a whim almost two years ago along with Techno and Snow Globe, and to be honest, I think I've only worn it once since. This is a nude/beige shimmer with a silver fairy dust overlay. It's not super reflective though, the overall effect is more subdued despite the metallic sparkle. I like how it looks next to IV, so I think I might incorporate the two polishes next time, perhaps in an attempt to replicate this gorgeous manicure by Ashley.

I saw this on a colleague's nails one day, asked her what polish she was wearing, and pretty much ordered it off BeautyBay right after. IV is a soft pinky coral that I find really complements my skin tone. It's described as a carnation pink creme, but it leans quite peachy on my nails. According to Reika, it's very close to Chanel Morning Rose (IV is just missing the gold shimmer). A shade that I genuinely look forward to wearing and one that I'm happy found its way into my collection.

It's a Trap-eze!
Featured recently in my March Favourites and with a whole post dedicated to it here, there's not much further I have to say except that there's been no dip in enthusiasm. I'm lamenting I didn't receive this as a full bottle, because the prospect of running out is already giving me anxiety. A unique, playful and incredibly well-executed glitter that I never want to be without.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Lipstick Limit, Part 3

My Revlon lip crayon collection is getting out of control. Totally makes sense then to purchase not zero, but four of the new ColorBurst Matte Balms during my latest trip to Priceline (someone please, impose a life ban on me from entering that store). Four seems to be the magical number of lipsticks that I tend to haul whenever lipstick fever overcomes me, after which I'm left feeling uncomfortably aware of my problem. At the very least, these were purchased for half the retail price of $17.95 each, as Priceline are currently having a buy one, get one free promotion on the newly launched (in Australia, at least) Matte and Lacquer balms.

l-r (top row, then bottom row): Complex, Elusive, Showy, Unapologetic

l-r: Complex, Elusive, Showy, Unapologetic

While both the Matte and Lacquer balms were on offer, I tried on a few of the Lacquer shades that caught my eye, but they all shared the same glaring problem: extreme glitter. The kind that still sticks to your lips in a shimmery mess when you try to take off the product. That was a huge no-no, so I promptly moved on and set my sights firmly on the Matte Balms only.

Predictably, I settled on two "daytime"/"wearable" colours, and two brights. The only colour I was certain I needed was Unapologetic (Cassie, Coco and Alix convinced me), though I was increasingly warming to Showy (mainly thanks to Emma, who likened it to Revlon Matte Lipstick in Stormy Pink, a shade I've been close to purchasing a few times, but doubts about the drying, patchy formula stopped me). Complex seemed promising, with quite a bit of coverage from ViviannaDoesMakeup and Amelia Liana, and Elusive looked so perfect on Christine of Temptalia that it was worth closely investigating. The best, most comprehensive overview I've found of each of the Matte Balms is from Emma of milkteef, whose face pictures of all the shades were super helpful. The bright coral Audacious was definitely in the running, but in the end it was too similar to Unapologetic to justify buying both (notwithstanding the multiple similar colours I have at home).

Complex is a light-to-medium nude, quite brown but with a peachy/orange tone. Elusive is a medium, warm, rosy pink with a touch of brightness. Showy is a bright, strongly blue-based pink. Unapologetic is an incredibly vivid, almost neon coral red with a watermelon pink tinge. This was the only shade that I found slightly staining, the rest of them could be removed almost completely with a tissue.

The formula of these were surprisingly good, though not completely uniform. Complex was clearly the most drying and patchy, with Unapologetic being the most creamy, smooth and pigmented. In general, these feel more hydrating than most matte lipsticks I've encountered, with a creamy but still lightweight texture that applies effortlessly onto the lips with no tugging or resistance. The colour payoff is impressive and on par with the NARS Satin Lip Pencils.

Overall, I'm pleased with the four shades I selected and I'd struggle to find anything negative to say about these lip crayons. They do have a faint peppermint smell and sensation when applied that might bother some, but I don't find it very noticeable and I personally enjoy anything minty/menthol in my lip products. If you have an extensive lipstick collection, then you probably already own very similar colours and could pass on these. If I had to recommend just one, I'd probably say Elusive. I find warm, everyday, medium pinks hard to come by, and there's a slightly dusty, retro vibe that makes it that extra bit girly and complexion-brightening.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

March Favourites

March was barely distinguishable from February, with the only difference being I officially turned a year older. There was no shortage of cheesecake this month, partially sabotaging my attempt at a "lifestyle change" by eating more cleanly and trying to get in some exercise (and by exercise, I mean run on the treadmill 1-2 times a week while feeling close to puking, and random made up floor exercises in the comfort of my own room). In terms of beauty products, there was a bit of a mixed bag this month, but more items than usual. I had not one, but two favourites for foundation, nail polish and moisturiser.

Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal in Taupe (004)
I dismissed Taupe the first time I picked up one of these eyeliners (in Bronze) because it seemed so similar to Maybelline Color Tattoo in Tough as Taupe, which I never use. But with Priceline's most recent 40% off cosmetics sale, I was suddenly inspired to give Taupe a go. I've been reaching for it almost exclusively this past month to define my lower lash line instead of my usual bronze eyeliners. What I like most about it is that it's quite hazy and soft when it's applied, and it wears in much the same way. The lasting power is impressive, but even when it's faded by the end of the day, it doesn't look patchy like some metallic eyeliners can. The overall look is more understated and natural because the colour is matte, very neutral and not as harsh as a black.

Rimmel Wake Me Up Foundation in Soft Beige (200) + CoverGirl Outlast Stay Fabulous 3 in 1 Foundation in Buff Beige (825)
These two mixed together (usually half and half) have been working really well for me. At first, I combined them out of necessity because the Rimmel is too dark and the CoverGirl too light. Sometimes in the morning rush and with less than ideal pump control, I get the proportions out of whack and my face doesn't match my neck, but the freedom to customise your own shade remains one of the biggest perks of having too many foundations. The creamy, thick consistency and occasional over-dewiness of the Rimmel is tamed by the CoverGirl, which has much superior coverage but a drier, more satin finish and runnier, lighter texture. Worked in with my Real Techniques Buffing Brush, this drugstore foundation duo ticks most of the boxes: good coverage, radiance-boosting, sets properly and doesn't overly transfer, excellent lasting power, oil control ... and shade match (when I get it right).

LUSH Snow Fairy Limited Edition Shower Gel
I know this is a popular product from LUSH, especially around Christmas, but despite hearing constant raves, I hadn't tried it until recently. At first, I wasn't blown away (it just smelled of banana lollies to me), but after squirting generous amounts on a shower puff and lathering it all over a couple more times, I saw the light. Yes, it's extremely sugary, but somehow not in an overwhelming, sickly way. I think it might be tamed by the musk in there, but whatever it is, the unbridled burst of edible sweetness is an absolute pleasure. It honestly feels like I'm bathing in lollies. In the past month alone, I've used up about two thirds of my tiny 100g bottle and I'm now majorly regretting not buying a larger one when I had the chance.

China Glaze Nail Lacquer in It's a Trap-eze!
I wore this over Nails Inc. Porchester Square for a whole week, which is almost unheard of when you're as fickle about nail polish as me and frequently change nail polish daily. It's a Trap-eze! is a glitter masterpiece. The overall effect is more speckled egg than bling overload, so it's perfect for any upcoming Easter-themed manicures. Still annoyed BeautyJoint shipped me a half-used bottle though.

Australis Nail Colour in K-Pop
The nail polish colour du jour seems to be Essie Splash of Grenadine (popularised by Estée), which reminded me of this gem from local brand Australis. As soon as I saw K-Pop on the stand, I knew I had to have it. It's such a unique, eye-catching colour (also very fitting with the Pantone Colour of the Year "Radiant Orchid") and the formula is close to impeccable. Here's a shot of the colour on my nails. I like that it has this injection of neon which makes it a bit fresher and more youthful than similar colours that are darker and more dusty.

Trilogy Rosapene Night Cream
I've tried a few products from Trilogy and I can't say my skin has loved everything, but this night cream is a definite winner. I have a mini 25ml jar from the Rosapene Day and Night Collection which I bought during Priceline's 40% off skin care sale around Christmas. This is essentially the evening version of their Vital Moisturising Cream, in that it's slightly thicker and more hydrating. I think the texture is an improvement (closer to Antipodes Vanilla Pod Hydrating Day Cream), it absorbs well, instantly comforts and adds moisture to the skin and smells pleasant and soothing. Dare I say I prefer it to the funky-smelling Antipodes Avocado Pear Nourishing Night Cream (of which I have a small 15ml tube from the Anti-Ageing Minis set)?

Jurlique Arnica Cream
I was fortunate to receive this as a birthday gift and immediately incorporated it into my skin care routine as my daytime moisturiser. The smell reminds me of slightly off, sweet yoghurt and it has a thick texture that requires a tad more effort to spread onto the face, but this stuff sinks deep into the skin and provides amazing hydration and softness. I used to struggle with dry patches, especially around my nose, which would be apparent when I applied my foundation, but since using the Arnica Cream, I don't have those issues anymore. It serves as a perfect base for my foundation because it provides a smooth, richly moisturised platform, but it's not greasy or slippy on the skin. It's almost matte in texture when absorbed. It also doesn't begin to seep through your foundation, emerging as an oily mess a couple of hours later. Yes, there's a bit of shine, but it's positively restrained compared with other products, plus blotting with a tissue ensures the skin is sufficiently mattified for the remainder of the day.
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