Sunday, July 29, 2012

July 2012 Favorites

Haven't seen a favorites post here for a while, have you? I will say that I'm way too much of a creature of habit to be able to churn out a list of favorites every month - well, that, plus I have trouble getting my timing right...
While I'm frantically packing the last bits to head out for an Oregon road trip with my family, you get to see my favorite beauty products of the past couple of months; not too bad of a deal, heh? You might have noticed that a lot of posts this month were scheduled in advance, the reason being that my mother-in-law plus my two adorable sisters-in-law are currently visiting and I never get the chance to do any blogging when the family is in town - been there, done that. I'm really proud of myself that this time I actually managed to come prepared so that you guys still have something to read!
Anyway, back to my July Favorites; it's a bit of a mish mash, but there goes. I don't have that many make-up bits to show you this time since most of them I already featured in my Summer Face Routine post, and that's primarily what I'm packing with me for our vacay. Some more things that I have been reaching for every other day are Laura Geller's Blush-n-Brighten in Apricot Berry that I indicentally loved around the same time last year; it just gives the most perfect glowing tan to your cheeks! I've also been wearing Maybelline's First Class Fuchsia lipstick ever since I got it - also because it matched my favorite manicure color this month, Essie Cute as a Button. In terms of skincare, I've just incorporated a new product to my nighttime routine - Reviva Labs Skin Energizing Gel*, a Hawaiian algae extract-based gel that improves the absorption and effectiveness of your night cream, but can also be used alone for a softer, more hydrated skin. It feels very refreshing and cooling on hot summer nights!
As I mentioned in my routine, I use Rimmel's Match Perfection 2-in-1 Concealer & Highlighter every day under my base to even out any darkness or redness in my skin; it feels very light and looks invisible yet covers very well. I sometimes use the bdellium 776 crease brush (supposedly a dupe for MAC 217) to blend it out but I love this brush even more for quick one eyeshadow looks.
Something I forgot to mention in my Sun Protection Must-Haves: Alterna Bamboo Color Care UV+ Fade-Proof Fluide with organic bamboo and kalahari melon. Your hair gets a lot of damage during summer, especially if it's color-treated, and since I got my copper highlights, I've been a lot more careful not to expose my hair to sunlight unprotected. This little oil shields from damage, extends the life of your color, conditions and smells absolutely divine, like tropical fruit cocktail!
I've also been obsessed with my travel-size Healthy Sexy Hair Soy Renewal Beach Spray. It's a conditioning and texturizing spray with argan oil that's supposed to bring out the natural texture of your hair - waves, curls, whatever you've got. The thing is... my hair has no natural texture - it's just straight. I still love this though, as it smells very aquatic, and gives more grip and definition to my sometimes too silky strands. Also, if you use it at the roots, it almost works like a root booster/dry shampoo - the matte effect of the spray gives some lift at the crown and keeps the hair looking less greasy. I'm almost out of it already, sad times!
For fragrance, I've gone back to Carolina Herrera 212 Eau de Toilette. I absolutely loathe the double tennis ball packaging (I mean, what the heck?!), but there's something about this soapy white floral that makes it very suitable for the summertime. The more prominent notes include orange blossom, bergamot, freesia and gardenia with a lot of musk and some sandalwood at the base. It feels very clean, refreshing and feminine when I wear it, plus the lasting power is really good, no doubt due to the massive synthetic musk content. Nothing groundbreaking and slightly too 'administrative assistant' most of the time for me, but I still reach for it over my other perfumes in the hot sunny weather.
My favorite candle of the moment is Slatkin & Co. Jungle Kiss - I haven't really been burning it though, I just enjoy sniffing that fragrance every time I take a bath (I keep it at the edge of the tub). I love its bright coral color and the notes of tiger lily, peach, sandalwood and coconut; it's a sweet fruity scent that I wouldn't normally go for, but somehow like in a home fragrance.

Phew, that was a lot! I hope there have been some things that caught your eye in this very long-winded post! What have you been loving lately? Please share in the comments!

* denotes a PR sample. I am not compensated to feature it on my blog nor am I affiliated with the brand. All other products featured were purchased by me or given to me as a gift. All opinions are my own and 100% honest, as always!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Review & Swatches: Fyrinnae Lip Lustres in Shangri-La and Visual Kei

Continuing with the promised Fyrinnae Lip Lustre review; see how good I am? Despite what you might have gathered from the past couple reviews, I'm very skeptical when it comes to independent make-up brands - I definitely believe in product development and mixing a couple pigments on your kitchen counter will not cut it for me. However, Fyrinnae was such a pleasant surprise for me; I loved their eyeshadows... and I think I love their Lip Lustres even more.
According to their website, Fyrinnae Lip Lustres ($6 for 8 ml) are 'non-sticky lipcolour, leaving moisturizing colour on your lips but no goopy tackiness' so nothing like a regular lipgloss. Even though they come packaged in lipgloss tubes, they feel more like a liquid lipstick, although much less creamy. To be honest, they feel a lot like what their ingredients suggest they actually are - a mixture of natural butters and oils with densely packed pigment. The consistency is rather on the dense side as well, but the product spreads very evenly and thinly on the lips.

The two shades I ordered, Shangri-La and Visual Kei, are some of the more wearable options to choose from; Fyrinnae also make turquoise, blue, mint and lavender Lip Lustres, but I'm not that brave really. Both of my Lip Lustres have a very yummy vanilla cupcake scent to them and are richly pigmented.

Shangri-La is very vibrant warm purple shade, no shimmer. It's not some wimpy purple-tinged lip shade like Milani's Sweet Grape; no, it's a super punchy pure purple. Weirdly enough, it looks a lot better on than it might seem in the tube, and a lot better on me than something like the aforementioned Sweet Grape. It's a very flattering shade that doesn't make your teeth white. Two thumbs up for Shangri-La from me, even though I'm not daring enough to wear it in the daytime.
Visual Kei is described on Fyrinnae's website as 'a rather bright pink with a slight shimmer', but to me the shimmer part is pretty much indiscernable. Visual Kei is a very hot yellow pink to me, a bit too warm to be called a fuschia. Again, this is a beautiful flattering shade, though not quite as unique as Shangri-La.
Both Shangri-La and Visual Kei are long-wearing and non-fading on me as well as non-drying. What I would say, however, is that after a couple hours wear they 'gunk up' a little on the edge of my mouth, so I have to make sure to dab that away with a napkin or something and reapply some product for more glossiness. They do however feel more comfortable and lighter on the lips than a typical lipgloss or lipstick.

Overall, I'm very happy with all of Fyrinnae's products that I've tried so far and their Lip Lustres specifically occupy a unique niche in the lip product market. Have you tried Fyrinnae's Lip Lustres? What is the most unique lip product formulation you've come across?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

My Summer Face Routine

I really enjoyed reading Larie's summer face routine here, so I thought why not share my own? I have been doing my make-up a bit different the past couple of weeks, and haven't posted a proper Face of the Day in ages, so here goes! I've included the links to products I reviewed previously if you'd like more in-depth information about something I'm mentioning.
In the morning, I start off by washing my face using Origins Checks and Balances Frothy Face Wash - feels quite refreshing on the skin, but overall I don't care for it and I'm trying to use it up. Then I follow up with my prescription acne cream (not pictured), let that sink in a couple minutes, and apply my favorite Devita Solar Protective Moisturizer SPF 30+ as well as Clarins Sunscreen for Eyes SPF 30 under my eyes.

I'm trying hard to cut back on the amount of time I spent on my base, so lately I've been either using the Estee Lauder Double Wear Light foundation in Intensity 1 topped off with Physicians Formula Healthy Wear Powder Foundation SPF 50 when I want more coverage (mostly for work), or just the powder foundation on its own. When I go for powder only, I dab the Rimmel Match Perfection 2 in 1 Concealer and Highlighter in Ivory under my eyes, around the nose and on my chin before I buff the foundation into my skin, and then conceal any blemishes and hyperpigmentation with Becca Compact Concealer in Sherbet and a stiff eyeliner brush.
For my cheeks, I apply the Bourjois Délice de Poudre Bronzing Powder on the high points of my face: along my cheekbones, on the temples, around the forehead and a tiny bit on my chin and the tip of my nose. I also blend it down slightly - my neck is the palest of pale! Then I sweep a warm coral, peach or apricot blush on the apples of my cheeks, like the Laura Mercier blush in Nectarine. I love bright juicy lips for summertime, so lately my lip products of choice have been Revlon Balm Stain in Smitten, Revlon Colorburst gloss in Strawberry and Giorgio Armani Rouge d'Armani Sheers in Coral, a vibrant mix of cool and warm shades.
Bourjois Bronzing Powder, Laura Mercier Nectarine blush, Revlon Smitten Balm Stain, Revlon Strawberry gloss, GA Coral Rouge d'Armani Sheers

I've been keeping the eyes very simple most days with just a cream eyeshadow and a thin line of pencil eyeliner. I've been mostly reaching for either the Benefit Creaseless Cream Eyeshadow in Slippin n Dippin, a rose gold, or Maybelline Color Tattoo Cream Eyeshadow in Bad to the Bronze, a bronzy taupe. My everyday eyeliner this past month has been the Annabelle Smudgeliner in Rich Chocolate, a very dark brown, and sometimes when I want to mix it up a little with some color, I go for Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-on Pencil in Electric, a bright turquoise. No eye look can be complete for me without polished eyebrows, so I fill mine in with the Wet'n'Wild Khol for Eyes and Brows in Taupe. Obviously, I also apply 1 to 2 coats of black mascara, but currently I haven't got a favorite.

Benefit Slippin n Dippin Creaseless Cream, Maybelline Bad to the Bronze, Urban Decay Electric liner, Annabelle Rich Chocolate Smudgeliner, Wet'n'Wild Taupe Eye Khol

And voila! That's how the above mentioned products look on my face. Very quick and easy! I find that I have no patience for more complicated looks when it's hot outside - my skin needs to breathe.
I hope you enjoyed this little insight into my morning routine and please share your own summer favorites in the comments!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Review & Swatches: 4 Fyrinnae Eyeshadows

This post is a testament to my shameful blogging practices - I actually received my Fyrinnae order in... March. That would be 4 months ago, you know? One thing is certain, I've had a lot of time to make up my mind about these.
Fyrinnae is an independent Washington-based make-up company, most famous for their Pixie Epoxy (a loose eyeshadow glue type of primer), Lip Lustres (unique lip cream type of product) and loose eyeshadows - all three of which I decided to purchase, with a Lip Lustre review coming soon. Being rather lazy about using my pigments, I opted for 3 eyeshadows in the sample size ($2.00 for 1/4 tsp): Kurisumasu!, a metallic brownish rose, Sacred, an antique gold, and Damn Paladins, a duochrome blue brown. I also received a sample of Crimson Ghost, an opalescent pink, as my gift with purchase.
The mini eyeshadows come in clear screw-top jars with a label on the bottom, no sifter; simple and easy to use. According to Fyrinnae, the sample size amount of eyeshadow is enough for 20-40 applications, and let me tell you, it's plenty - I think I run the risk of forgetting about having these rather than running out.
Let's start with Crimson Ghost, part of their 'Ghost' series of eyeshadows, described as a sheer iridescent colors which are more like pure shimmer for layering rather than a base color. In the jar, Crimson Ghost looks like a ballerina pink, but when swatched, it appears to be a sheer wash of opalescent lavender pink shimmer, a bit similar to Inglot 142 AMC Shine eyeshadow - very beautiful and delicate, no obnoxious glitter in sight. I find that layering 2 to 3 layers work best on my eyes.
Kurisumasu!, a brownish rose with pearl/metallic finish (described as medium shimmer on the website) akin to Urban Decay Toasted or Too Faced Push-Up, appears to have some silver microglitters running throughout, but these are not at all visible when swatched. This kind of shade is one of my favorites for a one eyeshadow type of look; deep enough to provide definition in the crease, but not too dark for daytime. Kurisumasu! is beautifully soft and highly pigmented, just a joy to use really.
Damn Paladins, a blue/brown taupe duochrome (described as 'dualcolour'), could probably be compared to something like MAC Club eyeshadow. Applied dry, Damn Paladins seems more of a straightforward (but beautiful!) cool taupe, but when applied on top of Pixie Epoxy or foiled, it looks a lot more grey blue. This shade again requires a bit more layering to achieve opacity, but it's well worth it - such an amazing shade!
Lastly, Sacred (metallic sheen) is quite a chameleon shade as well; a shimmery bronze taupe in the jar, it applies more like an antique gold/ golden olive on the skin, a bit like the golden green shade from the Wet'n'Wild LE Dancing in the Clouds trio. Very smooth and pigmented, it's a beautiful shade for the summer season.
 Top, artificial light: Crimson Ghost, Kurisumasu!, Damn Paladins, Sacred; Bottom: with flash, same order

Judging from the shades I ordered, I am very much impressed by both the quality and originality of Fyrinnae's eyeshadows. At $2 a pop, I can see myself purchasing a few more of their mini eyeshadows - they're just too hard to resist!
Fyrinnae Sacred eyeshadow on the lid, bareMinerals Fate in the crease, Maybelline First Class Fuchsia on the lips

Have you tried anything from Fyrinnae? What is your favorite independent make-up brand?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Drugstore Gem: Maybelline First Class Fuchsia Lipstick

Out of all the drugstore brands, I very rarely pick up something from Maybelline - I don't really know why, as their Volume Express mascara used to be my favorite in high school. But since the summer really started here, I've made some changes to my daily make-up routine and decided I wanted to get the much raved about Color Tattoo cream eyeshadow, and because Maybelline was BOGO 50% off at RiteAid, I started to peruse the aisles looking for the second item to put in my basket.
And that's how I stumbled upon the Color Sensational High Shine Lipstick in First Class Fuchsia no. 115 ($7.49) from the Summer 2012 Exotic Escape collection. I wasn't really looking for a fuchsia (God knows I have way too many), but when I sneakily opened a space-age looking tube, the shade appeared very similar to what I was wearing on my nails that day... Essie Cute as a Button, a beautiful pinky coral.
The Color Sensational High Shine formula is a light gel type of lipstick that is just made for the summertime. The pigmentation is a bit sheerer and more glossy than that of a typical 'creamy' lipstick, somewhat reminiscent of Revlon's Lip Butters in terms of pigmentation, but thinner and more comfortable on the lips. I expected the High Shines to be somewhat alike the Giorgio Armani Rouge d'Armani Sheers lipsticks, but they're a lot more pigmented and more stain like in comparison. First Class Fuchsia appears more satiny than glossy on the lips, applies very evenly without accentuating any lines and lasts a good 6 hours on my lips, looking a bit more matte and stain-like after some 3 hours.
Maybelline First Class Fuschia, Catrice Call the Ambulance, Wet'n'Wild Hot Paris Pink, Revlon Strawberry gloss 
When swatched next to some of my other summer favorites, First Class Fuchsia is a vibrant warm corally pink, a beautiful bright shade to compliment my cool-toned complexion. It's a pinkier and better-formulated version of another summertime favorite, Wet'n'Wild Hot Paris Pink. It's simply stunning!
I have to admit that for the past couple of weeks, I've been abandoning my lipstick collection in favor of lighter lip glosses, but Maybelline's First Class Fuchsia makes me want to whip out my colorful tubes again. I like it so much that I might go back and pick up another shade - Parisian Pink looked beautifully understated and flattering on the display.
Have you tried Maybelline Color Sensational High Shine lipsticks? Any exciting finds at the drugstore lately?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Sun Protection Must-Haves

Even our forever-rainy Pacific Northwest has been blessed by some much needed sunshine the past couple of days, which prompted this little 'essentials' post about my sun protection must-haves. Being very fair and cool-complected, I don't tolerate sun very well; I get burnt very easily and at the best of times, my unprotected skin just gets lots of freckles and hyperpigmentaton, on top of which some of my medications don't allow for me to go out in the sun (check if yours might make you photosensitive as well!). Thus, products with a good SPF (Sun Protection Factor) are my absolute best friends.
Let's start with products than can be used on both face and body; although I mostly use them on my face, I still haven't found a satisfactory SPF for the body (I'm trying to use up the Badger's one reviewed here). Every day before I put on my make-up, I apply a good layer of Devita's Solar Protective Moisturizer with Hylaruonic Acid SPF 30+ ($12.99 from VitaCost for 2.5 fl oz), a zinc oxide based sunscreen. Let me tell you, this is the best SPF for the face I have tried so far and a very strong HG material. The texture is nothing like your typical SPF; it's a light gel that spreads easily, leaving your face smooth, matte and with absolutely no residue. It's also hydrating enough for my oily skin so that I don't have to use an additional moisturizer (love me some Hyaluronic Acid!). I just can't recommend this one enough!

To top up during the day or just to set my make-up, in case I'm not using a mineral foundation, I like to use the Peter Thomas Roth Instant Mineral SPF 30 for Oily Problem Skin ($30 for 0.15 oz). It's just a titanium dioxide and zinc oxide translucent powder with some salicylic acid to help fight imperfections in a handy packaging with a brush for applications on the go. I think that having the option of reapplying your sunscreen throughout the day without having to disturb your make-up is simply indispensable, and this one works pretty well; although the packaging doesn't feel as sturdy as I would like for keeping in your purse.
Lastly, I use the California Baby SPF 30+ Sunblock Stick ($14.99 for 0.5 fl oz), a titanium dioxide based sunscreen, as my 'emergency' sunscreen for my purse as well as a 'blocker' for my moles and hyperpigmentation areas. You know how you sometimes realize once you get outside that you've missed some exposed area - like the tops of your feet, shoulders, ears? That's why I like keeping this small stick on me at all times. This one feels quite sticky and leaves a bit of a white residue, but it does block UV rays very well; a white patch on my shoulder blade where I have a small mole is a witness to that!
Ingredients list for Devita Solar Protective Moisturizer and Clarins Sunscreen for Eyes
For more targeted sunscreen, I enjoy using my Clarins SPF 30 Sunscreen for Eyes Wrinkle Control Cream ($28 for 0.7 fl oz) under my eyes every morning. It's a titanium dioxide based eye cream that goes on without leaving a white cast. I purchased this one after I've noticed a lot of freckles under my eyes and along the tops of my cheekbones - while I don't really mind the freckles themselves, I'd like to stay protected from the sun damage. It layers very well under concealer but when I feel my eye area is especially dry, I like to apply another more moisturizing eye cream beforehand.
Lastly, to protect my lips from the sun, I always reach for my Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm SPF 25 ($7.50 for 0.25 oz). On top of being one of the best lip balms I've ever tried, it shields your lips with a chemical sunscreen (Octinoxate and Avobenzone). While I definitely prefer mineral over chemical sunscreen, as you might have observed (it's been proven as more effective and safe in protecting against for UVA and UVB rays in clinical studies), so far I haven't found anything better that doesn't irritate my lips (Softlips!) or break me out (Nivea!).
That's it! While I'll definitely keep on trying new products with SPF, I feel that this little group would continue to be a great fall-back for me every summer and something that I can honestly recommend to you. What are your favorite sunscreens? Any tips on how to stay protected?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Bare Truth: bareMinerals Ready Eyeshadow Quad in Truth

There's something about a good quality, well-edited eyeshadow quad that cannot be excelled; is it the simplicity of just 4 shades, the symmetry of design, the harmony of hues and textures? I'm not entirely sure, but one thing I know for certain: bareMinerals READY Eyeshadow 4.0 in Truth ($30 for 5 g/ 0.17 oz) is absolutely irresistible.
I picked this neutral browns eyeshadow quad as part of the bareEscentuals Friends & Family sale a few weeks ago after having had it on my wishlist for a couple months. You all know that I love me a great neutral palette, and I've been hearing raves about the texture and pigmentation all over the blogosphere, so I swiftly jumped on the bandwagon.
First of all, let me say that I haven't seen such wonderfully designed make-up packaging in a very long time. The box is a simple envelope style with differently textured cardboard and ingredients list on the back, as well as details about the eyeshadow formulation inside - the shadows have a SeaNutritive Mineral Complex in them which supposedly revitalizes the eye area. The compact itself is black and rubberized with rounded edges, and it really reminds me of a black stone polished by the sea, making it feel quite zen. Also, I love how the little plastic cover says 'Hello' on it, much like a friend's car that says 'Zoom Zoom' and 'Hello' when you put your key in the ignition.
The four shades inside are Serendipitous, a shimmery yellow beige, Magnetism, a warm pearl taupe, Fate, a shimmery medium warm brown and Apropos, a cool darker satin brown with microglitters. The texture of these eyeshadows is very soft and smooth and they blend out effortlessly on the eyes. Because of how soft they are, it's quite easy to incidentally pick up a little too much on the brush, however I haven't noticed any fallout when I apply. I couldn't be happier with how easy these are to use.
In terms of color selection, my least favorite is Serendipitous, just because it doesn't show up on me all that well - I think it's too close to my skintone in depth, though a lot more yellow. Magnetism is definitely a strong favorite as I love my taupes, and it's a great eyeshadow for a one-shade type of look.
In the photo below (sorry about the weird lighting!) you can see all four shades on my eyes: Serendipitous in the inner corner, Magnetism on the lid, Fate in the crease and Apropos in the outer corner and along the lashline. The 'Truth' quad is perfect for subtle everyday definition, wearable daytime smokey eyes as well as dramatic night looks.
All in all, I enjoy using the 'Truth' a lot and I'm already thinking of picking up some more Ready eyeshadows from bareMinerals. Have you tried their pressed eyeshadows? Which quad or duo is your favorite?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Review: Face Atelier Ultra Foundation

Since I got my skin under control, I noticed that I have been drawn to foundations a lot more than in the past; definitely, long gone are the days when I owned one liquid base and one powder. So to go along with my 'Arabesque' Facade lip & cheek stain, I also purchased the Face Atelier Ultra Foundation in the 'PRO' size (20ml plastic travel-friendly bottle, $32). I obviously went for the lightest cool-toned shade in the line-up, Porcelain, which is a great match for my NW10/15 skin.
Just to give you the idea how small the bottle actually is for the price you're paying, here it is being held between my thumb and the rest of my digits. I understand the idea behind this, especially for professional make-up artists on the go, but still I was a little bit underwhelmed - even more so when after just a handful of applications, I've noticed the level of liquid going down rather quickly. Oh well; maybe at least it'll be the first foundation I'll be able to use up before it expires?
But, getting back to the nitty gritty: the Face Atelier Ultra Foundation is a medium but buildable coverage foundation with a natural dewy finish (no shimmer). Due to the significant amount of silicones in the formulation, it's one of the primer + foundation 2 in 1 type of bases, and the effect on the skin is truly flawless - it simply glides over fine lines, pores and imperfections without settling and emphasizing any unevenness. It's barely noticeable once it's on, and it stays on without fading for about 6 hours on my oily skin.
And here's where the cons come into play - it's definitely not the longest wearing foundation for me. Also, as you can see in the face shot, the initial finish is way to dewy on me; the shininess just emphasizes my pores, even though there's no product sitting in them, so setting with powder is definitely a must for me.
Face Atelier Ultra Foundation in Porcelain, Revlon Colorstay Foundation in Ivory, Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua Foundation in BR10
Overall, it's a beautiful foundation, even if for just a couple of hours. I think for the price, I will probably not repurchase; my next venture into the world of multitasking foundations might be a BB cream instead, I'm quite tempted by Lioele. Have you ever tried Face Atelier Ultra Foundation? What is your favorite multitasking base?