Thursday, April 28, 2011

April Favorites

I thought that taking two months between my Favorites posts is going to guarantee a lot of products worth talking about, but no... I've been very lazy with my make-up these past two months and most days, I honestly only use a bit of blush and lipgloss. Am I mentally preparing myself for the warmer months?

However, these beauties definitely stood out among my neglected make-up products:

1. Urban Decay Naked Palette: Yes, I caved, and I don't regret it. It is amazing and it's going with me to Poland next month... along with my Z Palette. I'll be soon posting a look with tips for almond-shaped eyes featuring the Naked Palette, so watch out for that.
2. Shiseido Eyelash Curler: You can read the whole review here; before I got it, I could rarely be bothered with using a curler, and now that I have it, I can't imagine not using it every time I apply my mascara - it makes a world of difference to my lashes.
3. NYC Blushable Creme Stick in Big Apple Blush: I've raved about this formulation before, and I love this shade for layering purposes. The dusky rose tones go perfectly with most of my pink blushes, but it also looks beautiful on its own.
4. Revlon Colorburst lipgloss in Strawberry: I wasn't so sure about this at first as it seems to be packed full of glitter; however, it feels smooth and comfortable on the lips and wears off evenly. And of course, the shade is just perfect for the season.

Make-up aside, I've also been enjoying some other small pleasures:

Weekend walks in the sun... or, more often, rain and wind (here you can see all products mentioned above in action, plus a tinted moisturizer that's making me orange).

Old library books with their card sleeves and inscriptions... (benefit of writing an MA dissertation).

Cupcakes!!! If you ever visit the Seattle area, you have to check out Cupcake Royale. Like you HAVE TO.

What's been your favorite this month?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

3 Neutral Lipsticks for Pale Skins

I've already done the blushes, now it's time for lipsticks! If your skin is pale like mine, you're probably not a fan of true nude lips; by taking the pigment out of your pout, they just make it blend into one with the skin, washing you out and giving the dreaded 'dead' look. That's why I don't do true nude lips - there, I've said it. There's still a couple of these shades lurking around in my drawers, but by now I do my best to avoid them when shopping.

Instead, I've turned to the quest for that perfect neutral lipstick - you know, the kind that goes well with every eye look and can be just smeared on without a mirror. Here's my little selection:

(L-R) e.l.f. Mineral Lipstick in Rosy Raisin, Maybelline Color Sensational in Caramel Kiss, Bourjois Docteur Glamour in Brun o p'tits soins

(L-R) Bourjois Docteur Glamour in Brun o p'tits soins, Maybelline Color Sensational in Caramel Kiss, e.l.f. Mineral Lipstick in Rosy Raisin

Bourjois Docteur Glamour in Brun o p'tits soins is a lovely warm brown with a touch of orange, no shimmer. It has a soft creamy consistency, possibly thanks to the addition of mango butter, and isn't drying on the lips. The warm tones make it most suitable for those with yellow undertones, however it's still wearable against my pinkish skin. My mum got this for me in Paris a long time ago, and I'd been wearing it a lot the first years of university.

Maybelline Color Sensational in Caramel Kiss (how could you resist such a name?) is more of a brownish mauve with fine golden shimmer. It glides on the lips easily, wears comfortably and evenly throughout the day. All Color Sensational lipsticks have this particular coconutty smell, which I actually enjoy a lot, but that's something you might want to bear in mind before purchashing. This shade is best suited for those with pink undertones like me, but again wearable across different complexions as well.

e.l.f. Mineral Lipstick in Rosy Raisin is a brownish neutral pink with no shimmer. The texture of the lipstick is somewhat harder and more waxy than the other two, and the color looks the most subtle out of the three on my lips - kind of like a balm. That said, it goes well with absolutely everything and therefore is a staple. You can see a daylight swatch on my lips here.

Last but not least, some arm swatches side by side:

(L-R) Bourjois Docteur Glamour in Brun o p'tits soins, Maybelline Color Sensational in Caramel Kiss, e.l.f. Mineral Lipstick in Rosy Raisin

If I had to choose just one, I'd probably go for the Maybelline 'Caramel Kiss' lippie - it suits my undertones the best and never, and I mean never, washes me out. The subtle shimmer looks amazing on its own as well as under a gloss. It's just lovely!

What is your go-to neutral lipstick?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Review: Bath & Body Works Shea Cashmere range

You're going to laugh at me, but the heroes of this review are actually my first purchase ever at Bath & Body Works. What can I say, me and my European vagaries...

Anyway, back to the review: I'd wanted to try something from BBW for a long time and after hearing many good things about their Shea Cashmere hand cream, I've decided to get that... along with some other products from the range, since it was on 3 for 2 offer - and let me tell you, surprisingly Mr wasn't too impressed with the total on our receipt after all. We bought the Shea Cashmere & Silk hand cream ($10), Shea Cashmere shower cream ($15) and Shea Cashmere body lotion ($15) (Mr had a strong preference for the pump packaging, so the body butter was a no-no).

I've been using the products for a good couple of weeks now and here are my thoughts:

The scent of the whole line is to die for. The girl in the shop claimed it smelt of cupcake batter, but my cupcake batter doesn't smell like this at all... To me, this is more of a sweet, milk, honey and almond type of scent, so if you like foodie scents, this will be definitely for you. Very comforting and not too overpowering, just enough to make you feel good about how nice your skin is smelling.

The shower cream, very aptly named, is a rich, smooth and creamy consistency that feels very luxurious on the skin. It doesn't lather much on the skin, but cleanses well without overdrying. My only gripe is the packaging; I hate that twist-off lid, it's impractical in the shower and takes ages to screw on with wet hands.

The body lotion has a spot-on thickness for me as well: it feels very moisturizing, but is thin enough to spread easily on the skin. It sinks in fast, leaving you with lovely & soft body... And that smell! Yum.

However, the hand cream is a stand-out product for me: while I don't think it permanently infuses moisture into my skin (but I do have quite nasty eczema flare-ups on my hands), it leaves them feeling silky smooth right after application. I think it must leave some sort of film on the hands, making them feel so, so soft... Overall, it just feels so nice and luxurious to use, very much different from my workhorse Neutrogena.

Do I think it's worth the money? Yes and no. I will repurchase the hand cream, but the rest of the line... it's nothing special. It feels lovely and luxurious, though I think next time I'll stick to my Haus of Gloi bath and body goodies.

Have you tried the Shea Cashmere range? What are your favorite Bath & Body Works products?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

NOTD: Easter Egg Nails

Easter is this weekend already, so what a better time to post an Easter egg inspired nail design! Well, it's not much of a 'design' really: I've basically used China Glaze 'Lemon Fizz' nail polish as a base color and painted China Glaze Crackle polish in 'Crushed Candy' diagonally on top of that. Here's the result:

I applied Seche Vite top coat both on top of the base color and then on top of the finished nails (the crackle polish dries matte), and I was quite surprised how well it lasted with no chips and little tip wear - basically a whole week!

However, while I think the color combination worked well and my nails really reminded me of a crackled Easter egg, I'm still on the fence as far as crackle/shatter polishes go. It's a fun look, don't get me wrong, but going into so much trouble to make something look... uneven and crackled? In my mind, these polishes will just never look elegant and sophisticated, not in a thousand years.

What's your take on shatter polishes?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Bright Lips Trend: My Product Picks

As a follow-up to my Fendi SS 2011 inspired look, I'd like to share with you some of my favorite bright lip products that won't break the bank. I've tried to include different color families, textures, finishes and pigmentation, so that everyone can find something for themselves.

Let's start with the bolder group:

Wet'n'Wild Silk Finish lipstick in 'Hot Paris Pink' is a curious hybrid between pink, coral and red - depending on your coloring and lighting conditions, it can turn a slightly different shade. It's my absolute favorite, and not only for the beautiful color: it's ridiculously cheap, silky smooth, non-drying and wearing for a decent amount of time. If there was just one bright shade you could buy this Spring/ Summer, go for this one.

Inglot Slim Gel Lipstick in no. 58 is a bold darkened fuschia with a cream finish. It wears very comfortably on the lips and looks beautiful on cooler complexions. It's a staple in my collection, you can see it paired with a simple cat eye in this post.

Revlon ColorStay Mineral Lipglaze in Continuous Coral is more orange than coral, but still fabulous and wearable even against my pink undertones. I've expected this to be a lipgloss, but it's more of a liquid lipstick with tiny gold shimmers. Again, it feels very comfortable on the lips, but it smells strangely of cough syrup and I know this can be too much for some.

Now, the options for the more timid among us:

The Body Shop Lip & Cheek Stain in Rose Pink is a blue-toned bright pink that applies as a sheer wash of color to the lips (or cheeks). It gives me a natural and fresh just-bitten look, but tends to cling to any dry patches.

Sleek Make-up Pout Polish in Scandal is a balmy classic red which can be applied sheer for just a touch of color or full on, as in this post. Unfortunately, I'm scatter-brained, so instead of Scandal, you're getting a lip swatch of Pink Cadillac, a neutral and super flattering pink that doesn't leave my handbag.

And, last but not least, Revlon Superlustrous Lipgloss in Coral Reef. Yep, it's just as beautiful as everyone says it is: light peachy coral that feels smooth and moisturizing on the lips. Coral Reef is also neutral enough to be worn with almost any make-up look and it's definitely work appropriate.

Just to wrap everything up, some arm swatches for you:

(L-R): Inglot no.58, Wet'n'Wild Hot Paris Pink, Revlon Continuous Coral, The Body Shop Rose Pink, Sleek Scandal, Revlon Coral Reef.

What is your favorite bright lip product this season?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

FOTD: Fendi SS 2011 Inspired Bright Lips

Not surprisingly, bright lips are in again this Spring/ Summer season and I had to put my spin on the look using some very affordable but fabulous products. It's a super simple, yet very polished look that when done right, suits almost everybody. This is my interpretation:

I kept the eyes quite simple using a shimmery warm gold cream eyeshadow and a sparkly brown from my Sleek Chaos palette to emphasize the lashline (it seems however that I must have forgotten to blend it properly afterwards ;). I put a fair coating of mascara on, added a hint of blush... and painted that bright pink coral on my lips!

Products used:
Smashbox Photo Finish Light Foundation Primer
Coastal Scents Honey Light Flawless Finish mineral foundation
Inglot Perfect Concealer stick in green
MAC Studio Finish concealer in NW20
Stila Cheek Color in 'Hint'
Benefit Creaseless Cream Eyeshadow/Liner in 'Slippin 'n Dippin'
Sleek i-Divine palette in 'Chaos'
Maybelline Full 'N Soft mascara in Very Black
Wet'n'Wild Silk Finish lipstick in 'Hot Paris Pink'

I will follow up this post with my recommendations for brightly colored lip products ranging from the boldest hues to some more toned-down options, all from very affordable brands. There's also going to be another swatch of the Wet'n'Wild lippie in slightly different lighting conditions, so stay tuned! Do you do bright lipstick for Spring and Summer?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

3 Neutral Blushes for Pale Skins

I can still remember the times when blush was one product completely absent from my make-up routine; as a person struggling with a lot of redness on my face I used to not understand the point of using a blusher - make-up should hide the 'rosiness' and surely not add to it, right? In fact, I have a lot of girl friends firmly believing in this train of thought who make faces at the sheer sight of a blush pan.

Well, they are (and I was) wrong. Using a high coverage base to hide all areas of redness results in a flat, uninteresting complexion. What's more, us pale girls start to look like we've just seen a ghost: pasty, sickly, exhausted. While on some areas of the face such as nose, chin or between the brows redness is certainly uncalled for, rosy cheeks are a must in avoiding the dead look.

However, if you're super pale like me, saturated blush shades require an extremely light hand and still can sometimes be too much. With this in mind, I've decided to show you some neutral options perfect for everyday wear to office or school.

These blushes are (clockwise from the top): No7 Natural Blush in 'Soft Damson', Stila Convertible Color Dual Lip and Cheek Cream in 'Lillium' and Stila Cheek Color in 'Hint'.

In the skin swatches you can see that Stila 'Lillium' is a very neutral pink with a touch of brown, Stila 'Hint' is more like a brownish peach with a bit of pink, while No7 'Soft Damson' is simply a pure neutral pink leaning neither too cool or too warm. All of these blushers are matte or slightly satin finish. I think all three would work on pale skin no matter the undertone (FYI, mine is pink). In terms of texture and pigmentation, the cream formula of 'Lillium' is surprisingly pigmented, smooth and easily blendable; 'Hint' is very soft, quite sheer and a bit powdery (my least favorite formula of the bunch) while 'Soft Damson' is beautifully soft, smooth and pigmented.

Cheek swatches:

No7 Natural Blush in 'Soft Damson' - somewhat less vibrant than the color my cheeks turn in the cold, but very close.

Stila Convertible Color in 'Lillium': doesn't it look fresh and lovely?

Stila Cheek Color in 'Hint': a hint of natural tan that would compliment well the more dramatic, colorful looks. It requires a couple layers to show up well on the skin, but the advantage of this is that it lasts the whole day without fading.

What is your favorite blush for just a hint of color?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Rocaille of the Day: Rainy Weather

Despite the fact that it's already April, the weather has decided to ignore the sun and warmth traditionally associated with spring time and greet us with rain and cold instead (or, as a non-native Washingtonian, I'm just being picky). Anyways, this is what happened one lovely Saturday:

Don't know why, there's no sun up in the sky, stormy weather...

We've been debating whether to head outside for a good hour, since the sun was shining sporadically through the clouds but the forecast predicted downpour. And when we finally found ourselves outdoors in the beautifully blooming Bellevue Botanical Garden, rain first drip-dripped its way down from the heavy clouds to our slight annoyance, and then slushed full force behind our collars making us dash madly for the car.

Dress: Zara
Jacket: Zara
Boots (non waterproof!): Ecco
Purse: H&M
Scarf: Tally Weijl
Belt: H&M
Body suit: Forever21
Tights: ?

I love this dress and have worn it on numerous occasions, even though it has a tendency to slide upwards in the back and emphasize panty lines, as witnessed in the first photo. I wish we had Zara somewhere around here! On a different note, the weather has me seriously pondering a purchase of rubber boots. As a yet another side note, I've posted the first photo specifically for Kajal Couture - I might be a wrinkly old lady in the future but I sure smile a lot :)

How's the weather in your neck of the woods? Are you all wearing pretty Spring dresses and sandals or raincoats and umbrellas?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Top 3 Pastel Nail Polishes for Spring

Yes, it's time to dig out those pastels again from the back of your drawer! I do like pastel colors for Spring a lot, and while they can be tricky to incorporate into an everyday make-up look, I think on the nails these fresh milky shades look good on nearly everybody.

After a lot of thinking, I've picked the following three shades to show you: Essie 'Splash of Grenadine' from Resort Collection for Summer 2010, ChinaGlaze 'Lemon Fizz' from the 'Up and Away' for Spring 2010 and again Essie 'Van D'Go' from Art of Spring 2010 Collection. Yes, all of these are last year's, but 1) the trends haven't changed that much since last year, 2) you can get them for a lot cheaper online than the current collections.

Splash of Grenadine is a light pink purple, which almost looks a bit Barbie doll on me but is just short of being tacky. Probably the most girly shade in my collection. This is 2 coats with a layer of top coat, no problems during application. I like Essie's brush a lot for my nails, it's skinny enough to get near the cuticle on the sides and allows for more precision.

Lemon Fizz is a gorgeous cool pastel yellow - much cooler and whiter than an actual lemon. It pops out a lot against my pale pinkish skin. This was a bit harder to apply with 3 coats, but still very decent for such a light shade.

Van D'Go is a very light milky peach/ salmon pink. It almost looks very mod on me; it's bright, but not to the point of being the centre of attention. The shade also feels very romantic and feminine and would look gorgeous paired with a flowery top and grey flowy scarf, which I accidentally have in my Spring wardrobe. I've read some very bad reviews on the formula; my bottle however must be a good one, since I only needed 2 coats and haven't noticed any patchiness or streaking. Overall, my absolute favorite of the bunch.

What are your favorite pastel polishes for the Spring?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Review: Michael Todd Crème Glacé lipgloss in Natural

I've already mentioned the Michael Todd Crème Glacé lipgloss in this haul, but decided it deserved its own post with swatches; especially that I haven't seen many reviews on these in the blogosphere, so this might actually be useful to somebody for a change.

What is it?
This Michael Todd favorite has the coverage of a lipstick and the shine of a gloss that adds sensual glow and a flawless texture. Our Creme Glace wears beautifully at night and protects during the day with SPF 15. (from Michael Todd's website) The gloss retails at $17 and comes in 27 shades.

What I like about it:
- I like how comfortable the gloss feels on the lips: non sticky, incredibly smooth, non drying. It glides over any little crevices and leaves my lips looking moist and plump. The shimmers are just perfect: non gritty, not too frosty, just catching the light in all the right ways. It has a rather average wear time, but I don't mind reapplying.
- The smell!!! I've already mentioned in my previous post how much I love it: it's deliciously reminiscent of vanilla strawberry ice cream.
- I find the simple and sleek design of the tube very appealing.
- I like the tongue-in-the-cheek name that ties in with the scent.

What I dislike about it:
- 'the coverage of a lipstick'? Really? I find it to be rather sheer, it lends just a hint of color to my pigmented lips, nothing more than that.
- Unfortunately, the beautiful packaging has a rather serious flaw: not enough product finds its way on the wand, but there's plenty gathering at the top, near the 'handle', as you can see in the first photo. Maybe it's just my tube, maybe it's not.
- It does seem quite pricey to me; there are some incredible glosses out there available for much less.

That said, it's still my current favorite and I tote it around everywhere with me - the shade looks great on top of every lipstick I might be wearing on the day. Have you tried Michael Todd's cosmetics? What are your impressions?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Rocaille Raves: Shiseido Eyelash Curler

It took me forever to finally take the plunge and splurge $19 on this bad boy... And I'm so so glad I have it in my possession now, also thanks to the amazingly detailed review comparison by Citrine and delicate nudging from Suka and Spice on our swatching trip to Sephora.

What is it?
A redesigned Eyelash Curler that firmly catches each lash at the root and leaves them beautifully lifted and curled. With just one squeeze, you will instantly glamour-eyes your lashes with this new and improved curler from Shiseido. The broad curve curls lashes from the inner to the outer corner and the edge-free design prevents pinching. (from Sephora website)

What I like about it:
- It works. Simple as that. Mind you, I have naturally a bit of a curl to my lashes, but this is another story. The curler hugs beautifully the curve of my lash line, gripping every single hair, and curls without pinching. My lashes look lifted and my mascara goes on easier coating all my lashes evenly. The curl does drop a little during the day, but it might also have something to do with the mascara I'm using (a dying tube of Maybelline Full 'N Soft). Just take a look:

- I really like blackened silver color of it, I think it looks simple and elegant!
- The spring is rather powerful so that you don't have to squeeze very hard
- The rubber pad feels nice and squishy... Citrine really does explain it a lot better.
- The handle is comfortable to use
- It comes with one replacement rubber pad, and additional ones can be purchased for $6
- I think currently it's more widely available than the Shu Uemura curler and it's a tiny bit cheaper

What I dislike about it:
- Hmmm... That's a tough one! Maybe it could cost a bit less? Or the fact that it curls my lashes so well that it makes it difficult to put mascara on my lashes without smearing it under my browbone (yes, my lashes touch my browbone when I look up... not because they're that long, I just have rather small lid space)? I don't know. It's simply fantastic.

If you're still unsure whether a more expensive eyelash curler is worth the money compared to a cheaper one, here's the proof:

Can you see the difference between the curve of the silver no-name curler and the Shiseido? That's what makes it work so damn well. Maybe you can find a cheaper curler that does the same thing - in which case I congratulate you - but I love my Shiseido. Now and forever.

What is your favorite eyelash curler?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

FOTD: Etro SS 2011 Inspired Lilac

It's April already! What's a better way to celebrate than posting a fun Spring look for you, lovelies!

Today's FOTD has been inspired by the Etro SS 2011 collection look, which I came by browsing a men's style magazine while Mr was getting a haircut. As soon as I saw it, I knew I'd have to recreate it in the safety of my make-up station...

I love the juxtaposition of cool vibrant purple on the eyes and warm soft peach of the lips and cheeks. It's a super simple look and I think also quite wearable; if you're afraid of going all out, just choose a more muted shade of purple and/or limit the color to the lid. I didn't have a lip shade to match the one used on the catwalk, so I just tried to use the closest one I had.

Products used:
Coastal Scents Honey Light Flawless Finish mineral foundation
MAC Studio Finish concealer in NW20
Wet 'n Wild Ultimate Minerals bronzer in 'Amber Glow'
Annabelle 'So Foxy' eyeshadow lightly through the brows
a mixture of purple and matte white eyeshadows from Coastal Scents 76 Eyeshadow & Blush palette
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-on Eyeliner Pencil in 'Ransom' (swatches and review here)
Maybelline Full 'N Soft mascara in Very Black (review with close-ups here)
Benefit Eye Bright on the waterline
GOSH Velvet Touch lipstick in 'Darling'
Barry M Lip Paint in 147 'Peachy Pink'
e.l.f. Hypershine gloss in 'Flirty' (lip swatch here)

What is your favorite way of wearing lilac on the face?