Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Eyes of Fashion: Irving Penn

"Sensitive people faced with the prospect of a camera portrait put on a face they think is one they would like to show the world. ...Very often what lies behind the facade is rare and more wonderful than the subject knows or dares to believe." —Irving Penn, 1975.

Irving Penn, New York, 1951

Irving Penn was born in 1917 and graduated from the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art in 1938. His career began with the publication of his drawings in Harper's Bazaar, but he became truly famous for his fashion photography in Vogue from 1943 onwards. His style was very calm and simple: he was one of the first photographers to pose his models against a grey or white backdrop. His models seemed as if isolated from the real world. Subjects portrayed in this manner included Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, Ingmar Bergman, Simone de Beauvoir and Marcel Duchamp. This clarity and economy of technique earned him the admiration of not only the fashion lovers, but also art collectors. He died at the age of 92, leaving behind the numerous books featuring his work and documents of his working methods.

Marlene Dietrich, New York, 1948.

Girl in Bed on Telephone (Jean Patchett), New York, 1949

Girl Drinking (Mary Jane Russell), New York, 1949

Black and white Vogue cover, 1950

Mouth for L'Oreal, 1986

Kate Moss, 1996

Gisele, New York, April 1 1999

What is your favorite photograph by Irving Penn?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Modest e.l.f. Haul

Tempted by the recent Oxford Jasmine's video featuring her collection of e.l.f. products, I decided to place my first order with the company to try some goodies I'd been eyeing for the longest time (especially their Studio line brushes and mineral lipsticks).

First off, I have a little rant regarding my order: before placing it, I scoured the interwebs trying to find a coupon to save on shipping, which was more or less 40% of the total price of my order. Alas, none of them worked, so I resigned to paying full price ($6.95 FYI). Who knew that about 2 hours after the order has gone through, e.l.f. would send me a coupon code for 25 cents shipping? That really pissed me off.

Another thing that pissed me off was that it took 13 days for my order to arrive. It was packed and shipped 6 days after placing the order and then took another 7 to deliver. I ordered a palette from Hong Kong about the same time and it arrived earlier. I mean, e.l.f., really? 13 days?!

These difficulties aside, I'm quite happy with my goodies as only one item turned out to be crappy. Here's what I got and my initial thoughts:

1. e.l.f. Flat Top Powder Brush ($3)
Number one on my wishlist. I agree with everything that's been said so far about this brush. It is pretty amazing. I haven't washed it yet, so I can't say anything about that, but it being made of taklon should guarantee great results with both powder and cream formulas. It's also dense and stiff enough to help blend cream and liquid foundations in nicely. Get yourself one of those if you don't have it already!

2. e.l.f. Mineral Lipstick in Rosy Raisin ($5)

Again, I've heard so many good things about e.l.f. Mineral Lipsticks that I just had to try one. First of all, I really like the design of a cardboard box it came in: simple and elegant and much more luxurious feeling than the usual e.l.f. plastic packaging. The formula of the lipstick is a bit harder and more waxy than most of the lipsticks I own, which also means the pigmentation is more on the sheer side, but buildable. I don't think it's a bad thing though: the lipstick gives a very natural, soft effect, wears for quite a long time and doesn't dry my lips out. The shade I chose, Rosy Raisin, is the perfect neutral lip color for me - a brownish pink with no shimmer. I imagine it becoming a staple in my collection.

3. e.l.f. Liquid Eyeshadow in Sultry Satin ($1)
Unfortunately, there's nothing sultry about this product. While the champagne shade looks promising in the packaging, in transfers on the lid as a patchy, chunky glittery mess with no pigmentation. The only good thing I can say about this is that it dries quickly and stays put. I'll be passing this one to the younger members of the family.

4. e.l.f. Hypershine Gloss in Flirt ($1)
I quite like this sheer peachy pink. A bit sticky and not the most long-lasting, but I like the brush-on applicator and vanilla-candy scent. I'd be definitely more inclined to repurchase the e.l.f. lip gloss rather than its Clinique equivalent (Vitamin C Lip Smoothie Antioxidant Lip Colour) retailing for $17.50.

5. e.l.f. Custom Eyeshadow in Moondust ($1)
Smooth and pigmented brownish taupe. For your enjoyment, I've swatched it beside MAC Satin Taupe and Inglot no. 402 Pearl eyeshadows - it's a touch more brown than the MAC shadow and a bit darker than the Inglot one. But still, pretty close, and the cheapest of the bunch too.

Given my experience, my advice for online shopping at e.l.f. would be to 1) definitely wait for some decent coupon codes, 2) shop very cautiously and not be fooled by low prices. And that's the moral to this haul, lovely blogettes :) Happy Thanksgiving weekend! x

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rocaille Redes: How to Save on Beauty Products

All of us beauty junkies feel a shopper's remorse all too often after another spree on skincare or make-up which we didn't exactly need (raise your hand if you don't!). I feel that especially around Christmas, with all the necessary spending on travel, food and gifts and then also those hard to resist Holiday offers (hello Black Friday), one's budget may prove to be a little too tight. Or maybe you'd simply like to regain control over your spending on beauty products or just shop more wisely and consciously. With all this in mind, I've attempted to compose my list of beauty shopping tips to try and save you (and myself!) some cash. I know this long list looks a bit daunting, but just take from it whatever suits YOU best.

Before we start, I've recently found this amazing quote and thought it particularly relevant to this post:

'People above the line of base subsistence, in this age and all earlier ages, do not use the surplus, which society has given them, primarily for useful purposes. They do not seek to expand their own lives, to live more wisely, intelligently, understandingly, but to impress other people with the fact that they have a surplus... spending money, time and effort quite uselessly in the pleasurable business of inflating the ego.'
(by Stuart Chase, taken from 'Your Money or Your Life' by Vicki Robin & Joe Dominguez, which I recommend, by the way)

It certainly rings true with me! Ok, let me get off my high horse and finally get right to it:

- First and foremost, try to think about your 'needs'. Of course, in case of beauty products which are frugal most of the time, it's mostly about what you want rather than need. Anyhow, prioritize your wants and write down your wishlist.

- When composing your wishlist, think about what you already own. Maybe you don't need another black eyeliner before the one you already own starts running out? How many face creams can one person be using at once? Compare the shades of cosmetics you want to get with the ones you have already by using online swatches or bringing your make-up to the store to compare - it will prevent you from owning two (or more) very similar products.

- This also brings us to researching before you buy. Check the online reviews for ratings, look at the swatches, read the ingredients' lists carefully if you're allergic to a certain ingredient.

- Check how much product you get for the price and how much product you need to use for it to be effective, especially in the case of everyday products such as shower gels or moisturizers. The cheapest is not always the most cost-effective!

- Check the 'dupe' lists (the most extensive one I've found can be browsed at Temptalia) for highly hyped up products you'd like to get. Maybe you don't 'have to have' the exact product but still enjoy a very similar shade and finish for less than half a price from a less expensive brand?

- Inversely, when shopping for 'essentials', it may often be more cost-effective to buy more expensive, high quality products. Good quality brushes, tweezers or hair tools will last you ages saving you money in the long run.

- Similarly, multi-purpose products (3-in-1 face cleansers/exfoliators/masks, lips & cheeks stains etc.) also give you more bang for your buck.

- Think about how long you can go on using a certain product before replacing it with a new one. Maybe you could use that tube of mascara a month longer before opening a new one? Maybe you could still use your powder until it's completely gone even though the pan's already showing? Try to really use up what you have before buying the new product. If you can't help yourself and already have 5 foundation back-ups sitting in your drawer, join an X Pan Project!

- Now, think if maybe some of the items from your wishlist could be given to you by the loving ones as birthday/anniversary/Christmas presents. For the rest, think how much you can/want to spend on beauty products in a given period, for example a month. Then you can decide what products from your wishlist you want to spend the allocated sum on.

- Stick to your wishlist! Do not buy something you don't need just because 'it's an amazing deal'! My husband often says: 'I don't care it's 20% off, if I don't buy it, it's 100% off.'

- Look for sets of products, especially around Christmas time. They are often a great value for money and allow you to try lots of different products for a lower unit price. Do not however get a whole set for just one product; if you know you're not going to use the rest of the set, why pay the higher price?

- For drugstore products, follow the weekly ads and opt to buy when a product goes on sale, be it your favorite shampoo or a lipstick. I very rarely buy drugstore make-up full price, I always wait for a good deal and get it 40-50% off!

- Shop around. Don't just get the product at the first place/website you see it. Comparing prices using tools such as Google Shopping can save you a good couple of bucks. Also, check if the product is available on eBay (but wouldn't recommend that option for high-end products) or Amazon; oftentimes you'll find the latter has better prices or shipping costs than the manufacturer.

- If you plan on buying a product online, join the company's mailing list first: some etailers offer introduction deals such as 10% off or free shipping, and you'll get the inside scoop - latest promotions, GWPs (Gifts With Purchase), new items on clearance or coupons.

- Similarly, follow a given company on Twitter or Facebook to get access to their latest sales (and giveaways!), some of which are only valid for a day

- When you need/want to purchase something online right away, search for coupons online; many websites specialize in listing active coupons for different etailers. These coupons might not always work (joining a mailing list is definitely a safer bet), but they're definitely worth trying.

- Plan ahead and save on 'necessities': if you repurchase a certain product regularly, make sure to buy it at the lowest price possible during the sales rather than when it runs out and you just have to get it. A good example would be stocking up on your favorite perfume during Sephora's Friends & Family sale or buying 2 packs of cotton rounds when they go BOGO at your local drugstore.

- Join a private sales website (e.g. HauteLook). While the incredible deals can sometimes prove too tempting and result in harming your wallet, if used sensibly, they may save you a lot of money on high-end brands.

- If you have unloved and unused products cluttering your drawers, try to swap them for something you might enjoy using beauty community websites such as Makeup Alley. If you have a blog, you could also organize a blog sale for your readers. If all else fails, pass the product to a friend or family member; it still much better than allowing something to go to waste!

- Take good care of your possessions so that they last you longer. Wash your make-up brushes regularly, twist the jars of cream products tightly, try not to expose your nail polishes to high temperatures and so on.

- Try to fix broken items before you throw them away: press broken eyeshadows, add some thinner to old gloopy nail varnishes, mend the plugged pumps or pour the product into a different container.

- Similarly, try to give a new life to products you no longer use: try applying a bit of old facial moisturizer to the ends of your hair or rehouse your various single eyeshadows in one free form palette. Shop your stash!

- Remember, all those saved dollars and cents (or pounds and pennies, or złote and grosze) do add up! If you don't believe me, write down how much you saved off the original price everytime you buy something for less and add these up at the end of the month. Impressive, huh? Maybe now you could spoil yourself with a lovely beauty-related reward... ;)

If you have some other tips, please share them in the comments below! Hope this was helpful to some of you! x

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Top 7 Lipsticks for Winter

... that is, 7 until I find some more shades I love! I'm a 100% lipstick girl, glosses just don't do that for me even though I'm prone to dry, chapped lips, especially in the wintertime. However, I find the following formulations (and shades, of course!) comfortable enough even in the colder weather. Let's get right to it!

For reference, my skin is very pale with a pink undertone (think MAC NW 15) and my lips are quite pigmented naturally. All of the products were applied straight from the bullet on previously moisturized lips. These are in the order of shade intensity, starting with the lightest, sheerest tints up to darker, more vampish colors.

1. Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey ($14)
This sheer brownish red is my current make-up bag favorite. More of a tinted lipbalm than a lipstick, this formula glides on the lips leaving them soft and moisturized but doesn't last long on the lips.

2. Palladio Herbal Tinted Lip Balm in Rosey ($4)
This soft rosey pink lip balm gives the Clinique's equivalent a serious run for their money. Firstly, it's actually more pigmented than Clinique's 'lipstick', and secondly I find it more moisturizing. It sports an impressive ingredients list too, including coconut oil glicerides, shea butter and herbal extracts. And... is still there after a 40 minute treadmill workout with frequent sips of water!

3. Wet'n'Wild Mega Last Lip Color in Wine Room ($1.99)
This is opaque yellow-based pink is definitely the most long lasting and the most drying formulations of the ones I've chosen. It's also more of a matte finish than the others, which undoubtedly contributes to its longevity. It's not a neutral shade, but still very appropriate for day time and not too bold.

4. MAC Frost Lipstick in Viva Glam IV ($14.50)
I bought this deep blue-toned pink last winter and still love it. It is the most berry-toned of the bunch and the only one containing shimmer. I don't find it chunky though, I am quite fond of MAC's Frost finish which is quite subtle and not gritty at all. Plus, I just love the vanilla scent...

5. Rimmel Lasting Finish Lipstick in True Vintage ($5.29 at Walgreens)
How long have I sought thou! This lovely pink-based wine color just called my name, though it most definitely doesn't stay on your lips for 8 hours as the producer claims. It's a very good starter darker shade for very pale complexions; it makes a statement, but won't make you a centre of attention.

6. Maybelline Color Sensational Lipstick in Plum Perfect ($7.49)
Very similar to Rimmel's True Vintage, but a touch more red/brown toned. The coconutty scent and soft formulation are just lovely, but I can't really justify the 2 bucks price difference compared to Rimmel's formula. A bit pricey for a drugstore product, but still worth getting if you can find it on sale.

7. Sleek Makeup True Colour Lipstick in Cherry (~$7)
A gorgeous, opaque blue-based cherry red I wore last Christmas. This shade definitely turns heads and while a bit much for everyday, it's absolutely amazing for a night out. As you can see from the swatch, you do need at least a lip brush if not a matching lip pencil to apply it evenly, but the result is well worth it.

What are your favorite winter lip shades? x

Thursday, November 18, 2010

NOTD: China Glaze 'Naughty and Nice'

Since my China Glaze Holiday 2010 Nail of the Day featuring Mrs. Claus is enjoying quite a bit of popularity, I thought I shouldn't slack and present you the other nail polish that comes in the 'Merry Mint' gift set, 'Naughty and Nice'.

It's one of those colors that appear to be a different shade in the bottle than they are in reality. At the first glance, I was sure the shade was a very dark brown color, quite like a bar of good dark chocolate. But when I sat down to apply it, this is what I saw:

Can you see this vampy burgundy color coating the neck of the bottle? (You should, it took me no less than 40 tries to capture it.) Based on this evidence, I guess 'Naughty and Nice' should be called a burgundy-based black. The polish applied evenly and I found the brush to be very precise and easy to work with. I got a random chip on the third day, but that's after scrubbing the floor of my oven (don't ask). I am loving it, I'm just not so sure whether this is such a Christmassy shade. What do you think?

On a different note, when I popped into Sally's a couple of days ago intending to snatch another bottle of holiday varnish, I spotted an Orly holiday/winter collection for 2010 including a shade called... Naughty and Nice, which is an almost black burgundy/brown. Sounds familiar? Can someone explain how it is possible for two different brands to release the exact same shade with the exact same name? Oh the convoluted ways of nail polish manufacturers...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Food Friday: Tricolor Roasted Veggie Pasta

It's been a while since I posted a recipe, and we all know that sometimes food has priority over make-up; especially on one of those windy, drizzly, greyish evenings when you just want to curl under a blanket with a good book, which is mostly what I do come November.

I'm pretty sure most of you have seen/eaten something similar before, but it's sometimes nice to be reminded of a classic, no?

Tricolor Roasted Veggie Pasta (for 1)

1 1/2 cup tricolor pasta (I used fusilli)
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup broccoli florets
1/2 cup sliced carrots
1/2 bell pepper
1/2 cup diced butternut squash
1 garlic clove
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp oregano
feta cheese (as much as you want)
salt and pepper

1. Grease a ceramic baking dish with olive oil and spread the veggies evenly. You can use either fresh or frozen veg, anything you have, really. Drizzle some oil on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, paprika, oregano and a finely chopped/ minced garlic clove. Cover the dish with aluminium foil.

2. Pop in the oven at 350F for 20-25 minutes covered with foil, then remove the cover and roast for 10-15 more minutes.

3. In the meantime, bring water in a medium sized pan to a boil and cook your pasta.

4. Drain the pasta and put it in a bowl. Take the veggies out of the oven (careful!) and put on top of the pasta. Drizzle the dish with the olive oil left over from roasting the veg. Sprinkle liberally with feta. Voila!

Very Mediterranean and summery, I loved the burst of color and the garlicky taste; oh, and did you know that garlic helps to strengthen your immune system?

What's your favorite comfort food for the cold season?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Review: Physicians Formula Healthy Wear SPF 50 Powder Foundation

What a mouthful! When I first spotted the bright orange compact in early July, these two words sucked me in: 'healthy' and 'SPF 50'. This product is one of the very few foundations on the market which offer such a high degree of sun protection and I was delighted at the prospect of skipping another step in my routine, especially given that my skin doesn't take layers of cream products well due to its oiliness.

What does it claim to do? (from Physicians Formula website)
- Delivers maximum SPF 50 broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection and full coverage with a soft-matte finish.
- Protects- SPF Boosters and Mineral-based sunscreens provide SPF 50 protection without residue or greasiness.

- Prevents- Potent antioxidant blend helps prevent future UV damage and premature signs of aging.

- Restores- Licorice Extract & Tomato Derivatives help brighten skin and diminish the appearance of sun spots.

On top of that, the product is hypoallergenic, fragrance free, paraben free, non-irritating, dermatologist approved, non-comedogenic and oil-free. The compact containing 0.34 Oz./9.6g of product retails for about $15. Sounds too good to be true? Let's see how it performed.

The Good:
- first of all, I looove the packaging. It might not be to everyone's taste, but I find it quirky, clever and easy to use. As you can see in the photo, the compact houses a decent sized mirror, a powder pan and a make-up sponge underneath it; basically, everything you need to apply it on the go.
- the application: I found three different methods that work well with this product. You can use it with the sponge pressing the powder gently onto moisturized skin, which gives you the most coverage but a surprisingly natural finish (my favorite technique). You can also apply it like a mineral foundation, using a kabuki brush and buffing the product into the skin. And then you can also use it as a setting powder on top of another liquid/cream foundation for the least amount of coverage.
- the coverage: while the marketing blurb is obviously stretching the truth here stating that the coverage is full, I'd describe it as light to medium, which I find much more wearable for everyday
- the texture: finely milled, silky powder that glides over the skin
- the finish: not exactly matte, it looks more satin on my skin - just fresh and natural with no shine.

The Bad:
- sun protection: in my experience, the amount of product that I usually apply is not enough to provide the protection this product promises. Yes, I have slightly burned my forehead wearing it to the beach and have had some new freckles appear on my nose. I believe that for a powder product to deliver such a degree of protection, you'd probably have to pile it on in a thick layer and then reapply throughout the day, which I don't want to and can't be bothered to do.
- longevity: even though it promises to be perspiration and water-resistant, somehow, by the end of the day, it simply disappears from my oily skin
- since my skin is very pale (the shade I have is Translucent Light), this doesn't look obvious or ghostly on me, but I can imagine it could be a problem for someone with a darker skintone
- it does contain talc (it's the first ingredient listed), so won't be suitable for anyone with the allergy
- it also contains dimethicone (a silicone), which is known for clogging the pores (it didn't clog mine though, but I'd still prefer it to be silicone-free)

Will I repurchase? Maybe. I like it as a powder foundation, but the SPF claims haven't worked out for me, I'd obviously need another product for that. Being a curious make-up addict, I'll probably discover another powder foundation I'd like to try after this runs out. However, I'm glad to have it and will continue to use it.

What is your favorite foundation with a higher SPF?

Friday, November 5, 2010

NOTD feat. China Glaze 'Mrs. Claus'

November might be a tad too early for this manicure, but it's too beautiful not to share... Plus it may give you some ideas for festive nails, and such important things should be planned in advance, shouldn't they?

I don't think I had ever featured Barry M 'Raspberry' on the blog before, which is a shame, because it's such an amazing polish - definitely one of my favorites. It's not a coincidence that it was given to me by one of my favorite bloggers, Loveaudrey, and that for this NOTD I've decided to pair it with a gift from another favorite bloggette, Suka&Spice (do I need to tell you to go check them out like NOW if you haven't already?). The moment I laid my eyes on China Glaze 'Mrs. Claus', I was in glitter heaven. I couldn't stop twirling the bottle in my fingers, admiring the beautiful sparkles and trying to figure out how the heck China Glaze made this so awesome. Just look:

(click on the photo to enlarge)

The above combo was achieved by layering two coats of 'Raspberry', two coats of 'Mrs. Claus' and a coat of Seche Vite to secure it all in place. After a very close inspection, I decided 'Mrs. Claus' must be silver glitter suspended in a red gel base, which lends the sparkles a pinkish appearance. I haven't tried it on its own yet, but I reckon you'd need a good couple of coats to achieve a more 'opaque' look. I can't wait to layer it over some more nudish shades.

'Mrs. Claus' is a part of China Glaze Holiday 2010 collection 'Tis the Season to be Naughty and Nice' and is available both separately as well as in gift sets; I was given the 'Merry Mint' set which also comes with another holiday polish, 'Naughty and Nice', and a Peppermint Cuticle Oil. Expect more reviews/ NOTDs to follow.

Do you like glittery nails for the festive season? What is your idea of the perfect holiday manicure? xxx

Monday, November 1, 2010

Rocaille of the Day: Halloween Edition

Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado...

Mad Hatter

Base: Revlon Colorstay foundation for oily/combination skin in Ivory, set with matte white eyeshadow from Coastal Scents 56 Piece Blush and Eyeshadow Palette
Eyes: Benefit F.Y...eye primer, eyeshadows and blusher from the CS palette, Covergirl clear mascara for brows
Contour: CS palette and NYX Powder Blush in Taupe
Lips: Inglot Gel lipstick no. 58 (review and swatches here)

Hat: Halloween City
Silk scarf: a gift from my mum
Black vest: Urban Outfitters
Orange shirt: Pierre Cardin
Pants: Nike
Knee-high socks: a checkered sock is from a random shoe store, a striped one is from Calzedonia
Red sneakers: Puma

... and Alice

Base: Revlon Colorstay foundation for oily/combination skin in Ivory, MAC Studio Finish concealer in NW20, NYX Powder Blush in Peach

Eyes: Wet'n'Wild Khol Eye Pencil in Taupe, Benefit F.Y...eye primer, Annabelle eyeshadow in Vanilla Chilla, Annabelle eyeshadow in So Foxy, Benefit Eye Bright on the waterline, Covergirl Lash Blast Length mascara (review and close-ups here)
Lips: The Body Shop Lip and Cheek stain, Inglot Gel lipstick no. 58

Dress: Carry
Belt: RE Reserved
Thighs: Calzedonia
Mary Janes: Adalberto
Dogeared 'Pearls of Wisdom' necklace
Sweetwater pearl stud earrings

What did you dress up as? xxx