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'OrĂ©al 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?

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Colourpop Lip Haul (+ Rant)

Colourpop recently had free international shipping, so I caved and put in a modest order. My friend however, showed no such restraint, and ordered 18 lip products. That's right, 18. She chucked whatever took her fancy into her cart without the requisite, thorough research us beauty bloggers might do, and based her choices purely on the product photos on the Colourpop website. BIG MISTAKE. When the goods arrived, it didn't take long to realise many of the colours on the lips were much deeper than how they appeared in the tube. Soon I found myself the beneficiary of some of her discarded shades: Ultra Matte Lips (UML) in Beeper, Wild Nothing and Teeny Tiny, Ultra Satin Lips (USL) in Frick N' Frack and November, and mini USLs in Stud, Mess Around and Toolips. In my own order, I bought just Matte X Lippie Stix in Hotline because I'd heard raves about the Matte X formula.







Matte X Lippie Stix in Hotline

Colourpop lip haul, Beeper
November, Wild Nothing
Teeny Tiny, Frick N' Frack
Mess Around, Toolips
Stud, Hotline

Beeper is a dark plummy brown. November is a medium warm rose pink. Wild Nothing is a deep chocolatey plum. Teeny Tiny is a darker, more purple version of Wild Nothing. Frick N' Frack is a deep, mauvey berry. Mess Around is a dark brown grey. Toolips is a blackened plum. Stud is a fractionally browner/darker Frick N' Frack. And I mean fractionally...

Top lip Stud, bottom lip Frick N' Frack

Come on. They're basically indistinguishable. They're both also the Ultra Satin Lip formula so not even different in finish!

l-r: Wild Nothing, Teeny Tiny, Frick N' Frack, Stud, Beeper, Mess Around, Toolips

l-r: Wild Nothing (UML), Teeny Tiny (UML), Frick N' Frack (USL), Stud (USL), Beeper (UML)

Here we can see just how similar these colours are. Sure, Teeny Tiny is more purply and darker than the rest, Beeper is a bit lighter, Wild Nothing is perhaps a touch deeper and browner than the redder Frick N' Frack and Stud, but the differences aren't enough to justify half of these shades being separate and distinct. You'd hope that a brand would consciously avoid having dupes or near dupes within their own collection, but maybe Colourpop has other priorities.

This was also my first time trying out the Ultra Satin Lip formula. I find them a lot more comfortable to wear than the Ultra Matte Lips which are drying and suck all the moisture from your lips. The fluffier applicator on the USL is noticeably more plush and cushiony than the UML which feels harder and not as giving, perhaps to facilitate a harsher, more precise edge. The Ultra Satin Lip dries down to a more matte finish anyway, so they just feel like a more moisturising version of their Ultra Matte Lip. I find the Ultra Matte Lip colours fare better with a coat of lip balm underneath, an initial layer of product that's dabbed on with the fingers, then a second coat applied the same way after the first has dried. This helps create a more even finish and gets around needing a super precise application. If given the choice, I would abandon the Ultra Matte Lip in favour of the Ultra Satin Lip for any future purchases.

Top to bottom: November, Hotline

The Matte X Lippie Stix was pretty much what I was expecting: a full coverage but lightweight, extremely matte lipstick. I bought Hotline after seeing this blog post because it looked so perfect on the blogger. It's not as love-at-first-sight on me, but it's a nicely done warm peachy nude. Probably what I'd hoped Revlon Matte lipstick in Smoked Peach would be. Reminds me of a more orange, lighter Wet n Wild MegaLast Lip Color in Bare It All or Maybelline Color Drama Intense Velvet Lip Pencil in Nude Perfection.

I was kind of excited for November since it's distinctly not like the other vampy shades and I do like KathleenLights. But I think it's a bit too syrupy for me? There's something simultaneously neon yet old-fashioned about it. Not the hugest fan, but could work if not at 100% opacity.

Once again, I'm not particularly thrilled with Colourpop (see previous posts here and here). I do stand by what I said before, which is they're a good place to go if you want to try out trendy, daring, bold, fun shades at an affordable price point. I mean, I'm probably never going to wear Toolips or Mess Around out, but at least the option's there and I've seen what they look like on. I also give them props for making colours that look great on darker skin tones. But I was majorly annoyed by 2 things with this latest batch of products. These observations seem to be more a criticism of their business model than the quality of their products per se.

First, not every consumer will be bothered or savvy enough to properly research the colour accuracy of their shades. If they purchase, like my friend, based upon photographs of the products on the Colourpop website, they will be sorely disappointed. The colour in the tube isn't the colour on the lips, and that's a problem. See for example, reviews on Frick N' Frack and Toolips respectively:
One complaint is that Frick N Frack (and pretty much all ColourPop's lipsticks) look much darker in reality than in their pictures. I'm giving 4/5 because I think it's beautiful, but they need to be more honest with their pictures, because it does disappoint some people. For example, I would rather have a lip colour like the picture than the actual frick n frack but it's still beautiful (oh_yeez_itzz_kylizzle on Nov 7, 2016)
I was super excited about this beautiful fall/winter color, but ended up being disappoint with how dark it turned out. It turned out to be dark brown when applied and even was mistaken to be a black lipstick by my friends. However, the color does last without rubbing off for almost the whole day. Just was not what I was expecting from the pictures. (Sav on Oct 27, 2016)
Yes, they do have swatches on their website as well, but when you have so many colours in your range, it would be much more helpful if similar-appearing colours were swatched together (a la Makeup Geek eyeshadows), rather than disparate shades in a "collection". That way, at least people have a chance at avoiding duplicate colours, or at least will be more aware of the differences, no matter how small.

Secondly, I don't think a company should be producing nearly identical colours like Frick N' Frack and Stud under different names in the first place. The fact that those two shades, plus Wild Nothing, Beeper and Teeny Tiny were just so similar, leaves a very bad taste in my mouth. Sure, no one put a gun to anyone's head to buy them all, but you'd hope if you bought FIVE different colours, they'd at least have some point of difference on the lips to not make it all feel like a massive waste of money. This coming from someone with a gazillion same pink lipsticks and bronze eyeshadows.

A third minor complaint I have is the lettering on the packaging of their products fades unbelievably quickly. I'm talking in a matter of days with ordinary handling, or after a single trip in the handbag. What's the point?

I think Colourpop could be so much better if they sorted their shit out. I haven't experienced any of these issues with any other brand. Perhaps these problems arise because they favour pushing out fresh new product even if the formulas, shades or aspects of packaging aren't perfected. Having said all that, somehow I've accumulated a sizeable collection of their stuff even though I'm not super happy with most of it. I guess they must be doing something right.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Colour Seduction

Peeking into other people's makeup bags is not a good idea. It's like innocently going into a favourite shop just for a browse. My friend had a few Revlon Ultra HD Matte Lipcolors in her bag and I dug out the one that appealed to me the most, HD Seduction (630). I tried it on and suddenly was overcome with that familiar irrational NEED that takes over when I come across a lip colour I like. It was like this was the shade I'd been searching for my whole life. It was the shade I couldn't let get away. Literally 20 minutes later, I hopped into the nearest chemist, zeroed in on the Revlon stand and bought it.




I'd heard of these when they first launched a while back, but they didn't arouse any interest at the time. I was probably at a lipstick saturation point, particularly with Revlon releases. I do recall reading mainly positive reviews about them though, consistent with my general experience with Revlon lip products (I went crazy with their Lip Butters in 2012, have collection posts on their Super Lustrous, Matte and ColorBurst lipsticks, and bought a bunch of the Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stains — original and matte).

The Ultra HD Matte Lipcolor isn't completely matte despite the name. They're certainly not bone dry and moisture-sucking like your traditional liquid lipstick (e.g. Colourpop Ultra Matte Lips). To me, it's initially like a lip gloss and takes a long time to mattify, and even when it does, it's more of a slightly sheeny matte lip cream. The consistency is reminiscent of the NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams. They're a more forgiving formula, aren't remotely transfer-proof, but once blotted, are slightly staining. Longevity is nothing to write home about, especially since the product can easily fade off the lips. The applicator is excellent (great shape, easy control, distributes just enough product) and feels really plush and cushiony on the lips.

Revlon Ultra HD Matte Lipcolor in Seduction

l-r: Face of Australia Sundae, Colourpop Midi, Revlon Seduction, Revlon Elusive, Rimmel Notting Hill Nude, Maybelline Nude Perfection

Seduction is a light-to-medium pinky nude that I think suits Asian skin tones well. I like that you can build up your desired opacity with the wand. I prefer the look of the product lightly applied. When it's more full coverage (like in the pictures below), it looks more like your conventional rosy pink and loses some of its magic as an ideal "my lips but better" shade.

Compared with other nude lipsticks in my collection, Seduction is a pinker Rimmel Moisture Renew Lipstick in Notting Hill Nude or a more uniform Face of Australia Sheer Gloss Lip Crayon in Sundae, which is sheerer, patchier. Colourpop Ultra Matte Lip in Midi is more cool-toned with a touch of purple. Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm in Elusive is a much warmer, brighter pink. Maybelline Color Drama Intense Velvet Lip Pencil in Nude Perfection is a darker, browner nude.



Seduction isn't super unique but the combination of the colour, formula and sleek packaging makes it my current go-to lip product when I feel in the mood for a lil somethin' on the lips but nothing too out there or loud. It's the quintessential "pretty" shade that's safe, unassuming and easy to wear. It adds a touch of muted, natural rosiness that's not too pink or brown, dark or pale. Bonus: the stuff smells like delicious baked goods.
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