Monday, August 27, 2012

Rocaille Swatches: 5 Nude Glosses

Somehow, not being a huge wearer of lip glosses and not being big on nude lips either, I've managed to accumulate five different nude glosses over the course of the past couple of years. I surprise myself sometimes, you know.
 Anyhow, I thought I'd quickly share some swatches and thoughts about these in case you're looking for a nice nude lip gloss to add to your collection; and just to be completely clear, you really only need one, as they all look very similar on the lips - which is why I've also decided against including any lip swatches (that, and I was being a bit lazy).
1. Michael Todd Crème Glacé(e?) Lipgloss in Natural. I initially reviewed it here, and despite faulty packaging, I very much enjoy using this gloss, mostly because of the delicious scent and comfortable wear on the lips. It's more of a warm, peachy nude with very fine gold shimmer that feels very light and non-sticky on the lips.
2. Lancome Juicy Tubes in Rio Mango. I'm pretty sure most of you are familiar with the Juicy Tubes formula, but if not, it's a thicker, more sticky consistency that manages to stay on the lips for a decent amount of time. This particular shade/flavor is an almost transparent light peach with extremely fine opalescent shimmers - you can't even see them most of the time but they do add dimension to the lips.
3. Clarins Instant Light Natural Lip Perfector in Rose Shimmer. I've decided to purchase this gloss after hearing all the raves on the blogosphere but to be honest, it doesn't really strike me as anything unique. It's a bit thinner balmy consistency and the shade is a translucent pale pink with almost invisible shimmers. The gloss gives a nice even mirror shine and fills in the lines beautifully but can sometimes look a bit washed out against my fair skin. Oh, and it smells of vanilla frosting if that's your thing!
4. NYX Mega Shine Lip Gloss in Beige. Also reviewed previously, this one is probably the least nude lip gloss of the bunch - it's more of a neutral pink that seems to work on a range of skintones. Although the fake cherry scent is not the most glamorous, it's a gorgeous shade if you're scared of paler nude pinks and a comfortable, not too sticky formula with no shimmer.
5. Clinique Long Last Gloss Wear SPF 15 in Bamboo Pink. This is just a deluxe sample I've only had for a couple months now, and probably the least favorite of the five glosses mentioned here; it's a very thick, quite sticky almost clear formula with silver shimmer. It's fine for adding dimension to a more pigmented lipstick but definitely not something I reach for to wear on its own.
And here are some swatches for you: top photo was taken under studio lights, bottom taken with flash to show off the shimmers.
Have you tried any of these and if so, what are your thoughts? What is your favorite nude gloss shade and formula?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Favorite Make-up Look of the Moment

Just a couple quick shots this time; I've just wanted to show you my favorite look of the moment. I'm usually not the gal who goes for heavier eye make-up and a neutral lip but that's what I've been liking a lot this week: a charcoal and plummy brown smokey eye with a tawny cheek and a subdued, shimmery lip.
I really like the contrast between the cool and warm shades on the eye and I'm planning to explore that even further with some navy blue on the lid and warm browns in the crease. The products I used for this charcoal/plum look are GOSH Waterproof eyeliner pencil in Black Ink smudged on the lid and a mixture of Clinique plums in the crease and to blend the edges. I also have Benefit Eye Bright in the waterline to make my eyes appear bigger, which is always my concern when I go heavier on the eyes.
I used a sample of Lancome Teint Idole 24H foundation in Ivory for the base and my usual BECCA and Rimmel concealers. The back of the cheek was contoured lightly with Benefit Hoola bronzer, and I also blended some NARS Douceur onto the apples of my cheeks. Lips are Revlon's Lip Butter in Peach Parfait.
On a different note, I've been having a lot of trouble getting back to blogging recently; I don't know what it is about this time of the year but for some reason it's a bit nostalgic for me. I'm suddenly starting to feel a lot more detached from my family, my friends and you, my readers, and I wish I could figure out something to put me on the right track again - probably a good load of energy, enthusiasm and creativity. But since right now I'm a bit lacking, let me know if you have any blogging requests for me; I'd be happy to oblige!
What's been your favorite make-up look recently? Are you feeling the end-of-summer nostalgia as well?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Products I Regret Buying Vol. 2

Nothing like a good rant to get me back into the swing of things, right? Normally, mediocre products don't really manage to get me worked up - I just shove them to the back of the drawer where they don't see the light of day for another couple months... if not years. But since I'm trying to downsize my stash and stop just hoarding countless beauty products, I've been working my way through these unloved bits and bobs, and let me tell you - some of them are just absolutely INFURIATING.

 1. Wet'n'Wild Natural Blend Lip Shimmer in 104 ($0.99 for 0.11 oz) - the actual name of the shade was probably printed on the plastic wrap, as usual, but it seems to be Berry. I don't know what to say, ladies - I guess I was impressed that you could have a Natural Products Association Seal on a $0.99 lipstick. It's a glittery mess, though, and stays put for maybe an hour at its best. I could have gotten a gallon of mineral water instead.
 2. Avon Lipstick in Metallic Blush. The story of how I got this is quite peculiar; I ordered a different lipstick altogether from my mum's colleague, an Avon lady; and then, a month later, got this instead, because the one I wanted was not available (or something). I mean... huh? Again, a fruity-scented glittery mess. If someone ever describes a lipstick to you using the adjective 'metallic', just run.
 3. LAVANILA The Healthy Deodorant in Vanilla Passion Fruit ($18 for 1.7 oz). I've been looking for a more natural deodorant that's not a crystal, and Suka&Spice recommended this; I really liked the packaging and the scent, so didn't hesitate much to grab it. However, it's just not effective on me - don't know, maybe I'm just a real stinker but I can't wear this if I want to make sure I stay odorless throughout the day. Sad face.
 4. Skindinavia No More Shine Make-up Finish Setting Spray ($19 for 2 oz). A glowing review online convinced me to try this but as above, this just does not work on me - I think I might be actually getting oily even faster when I spray this on. I've tried using it a couple different ways, before my make-up, after my make-up, both, shaking the bottle for what feels like eternity; still, just doesn't work. Don't waste your money, people.
 5. Physicians Formula Organic Wear 3-in-1 Powder, Bronzer and Highlighter Trio (seems like it's been discontinued - thank God!). I got this probably two years ago when I was really into more natural products; I also thought it could be a great multitasker to take on a trip. However, the problem is that this face trio has absolutely no pigmentation, and the surface is quite hard, so even the face powder doesn't perform at all. I did like the leaf embossing, though!
 6. Stila Forever Your Curl Mascara ($22 for 0.24 oz). This was a deluxe sample I got in my Sample Society box a while back (and, on a positive note, I'm still really enjoying that subscription service!) that definitely failed to impress - for one thing, this curling mascara actually straightened my lashes, even after using a lash curler, but even more importanly, it flaked off terribly; it wouldn't even get through a short shift at work. Bleh.
 7. Peter Thomas Roth Max Sheer All Day Moisture Oil-Free SPF 30 ($42 for 1.7 fl oz, mine was a Gift with Purchase). See, I even have here a sunscreen that doesn't work; no mean feat, right? This sun protective moisturizer not only feels very heavy and greasy on my skin but also doesn't shield from the sun all that well either - I've definitely got a good tan while wearing it on my chest and shoulders; well, at least I didn't burn. Not sure why this is so popular.
8. Lush Porridge Bar Soap ($6.95 for 3.5 oz). I know, it looks like a moon rock of some kind - the thing is, it feels the same way on your skin. The abundance of hard and scratchy oat grains makes it impossible to enjoy even on my feet, and the pleasant scent is long gone too. The sparse amount of soap that holds it all together is harsh and drying as well. I think that might have been my last bar soap from Lush... like ever.

Good news is that since taking photos for this post, I've given many of these products away to my family - hopefully someone will get to enjoy them... or at least will try it a couple more times before chucking away. For the rest, I'm still working my way through as a punishment for careless money-spending; no more impulse-buying for me anymore, no siree!

What has been recently added to your 'Products I Regret Buying' list? Anything I should steer clear off in the future?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Cleansing Staple: Clarins Extra-Comfort Cleansing Cream

Good news: I'm back! The family has gone back home and I'm free to take up my blogging duties again! Having them here has allowed me to gain a bit of a much-needed perspective against my make-up loving habits but I'm also happy to get back to my normal life and more spacious and quiet home. Expect a lot more posts to come!
I'm sure you've heard me taking before about The Beauty Mouth's weekly skincare clinics; she's an amazing resource if you've got problematic skin. Caroline convinced me to step away from harsh foaming cleansers and look for a cleansing balm to incorporate into my skincare routine; however, it seems that the US market doesn't have a large part of the options she was suggesting on her blog. Which is why, as soon as I've heard her talking about the Clarins Extra-Comfort Cleansing Cream for Dry or Sensitized Skin ($40 for 200 ml), I jumped onboard and ordered this gigantic tub of the stuff.
The packaging is a simple white plastic jar with a screw-on lid and a stopper inside; it also came with a clear plastic spatula. Compared to a normal moisturizer tub, this is at least twice as big, so not very handy to take along on any trips - you could always decant though. Inside, there's a thick cream that reminds me a lot of peach yogurt but with a scent evoking an old-school moisturizer like Nivea.
Clarins suggest to scoop out a small amount, warm it up in your palms, press evenly into the skin and then lift your hands off of your face, creating something like a suction to lift off the impurities. I also tried simply massaging it into the skin and both methods seem equally effective. I then remove the remnants with a warm damp flannel cloth as per Caroline's suggestion, and I find that I like the flannels much better than the muslin cloths, which feel thinner, more abrasive and loose heat a lot more quickly than the flannels do. I just ordered a pack of 15 flannel baby wipes on Amazon - so that even with changing them after every use, they still last for over 2 weeks.
My face does feel very soft, supple and moisturized after I use the Clarins Cleansing Cream and there are absolutely no traces of dirt or make-up left on my skin; although I do use a separate eye make-up remover since the Clarins cream tends to 'cloud' my vision a bit. The whole experience feels very luxurious and pampering, like being in a spa. That being said, I only reach for the Clarins Cleansing Cream in the evenings; I find that I have no time or patience for the whole routine in the mornings so I use a soap-free face wash then.
 Overall, I think that my skin really benefits from a thorough cleansing routine in the evenings, especially given that I wear both make-up and sunscreen practically every day, which may tend to clog your pores a bit more. I would prefer if the Clarins Extra-Comfort Cleansing Cream wasn't quite as heavily scented and removed eye make-up a bit better, but other than that, the product performs very well. I'll still be on the lookout for an even better balm cleanser but for the time being, I enjoy using the Clarins cream.

Have you tried cleansing with a balm before? What is your favorite evening face cleanser?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Lipstick Bandits: Sheer Love for Revlon Balm Stains

When our Bandit Chief announced 'sheers' as the theme of this month's collaboration, my heart sunk a little; I already wrote a post about my favorite sheer coral lipstick last time round... But I sat down to mentally peruse my collection, biting my lips in distress (as you do), and dug out a recent favorite: Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Smitten ($8.99 for 0.09 oz), a beautiful cool berry pink, which as it happens, is also sheer!
I'm pretty sure that by now, everyone and their cat is not only familiar but also raving about these Revlon Balm Stains, a curious mix between a tinted lip balm and a stain. I can't quite comment on how (dis)similar they are to their look-a-likes, Clinique's Chubby Sticks but certainly the Revlon Balm Stains are a fantastic product in their own right. The color selection is beautiful, the price very reasonable (especially if you wait for a discount) and the formula is pure perfection!
Revlon Balm Stains are packaged in a twist-up fat crayon type of tube, which makes applying the product to the lips a breeze - you literally just paint it on. The shade glides easily and evenly on the lips, which is a no mean feat for a stain, and has a slightly glossy appearance of a tinted lip balm - but, with a staying power of a liquid stain that we've all come to know (and, in most cases, hate). The glossiness fades after a couple hours, but the product is still comfortable and most importantly, non drying on the lips.
I've decided to do a little comparison with two other traditional stains from my collection, The Body Shop Lip & Cheek Stain in Rose Pink and theBalm Stainiac in Beauty Queen, a sheer berry pink. As you can see, all three products are quite similar in shade, but very different in formulation. Even on my arm, you can see that the Revlon Balm Stain in Smitten (left) is by far the smoothest application, with both The Body Shop stain (centre), which is a liquid product, and Stainiac (right), which is a gel, being quite streaky and uneven. When I wiped the swatches down with a tissue, all three left about the same amount of pigment on the skin. So, without a doubt, the Revlon Balm Stain is a clear winner here for the evenness of application and a staying power on par with the conventional stains.
The Revlon Balm Stain in Smitten is also a perfect product for summer holidays - in fact, I'm intending to pack this and little else in terms of lip products for our family road trip (which, at the time you're reading this, I'm actually on!). It's a fast, easy and durable way to perk up a sun-kissed face, and I dare say it pairs rather well with my freckles, as you can see in the photo below.
Make sure to check out other Lipstick Bandits' picks by clicking on the links:
Have you already tried Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stains? What is your favorite sheer lip product of the moment?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Review & Swatches: Stila In the Moment Eyeshadow Palette

I promise this will be my last eyeshadow palette purchase in a while! I was feeling a bit more adventurous, probably due to all the bright summer colors, and decided that my collection could use a versatile purple palette - hence, say hello to my new Stila In the Moment Eyeshadow Palette ($39 for 0.49 oz/14 g, available at!
When I first opened the little cardboard box/sleeve it came in, I was absolutely delighted with the packaging: it's a slim cardboard palette in a satiny deep lilac color, which makes it super easy to find in the stack of eye palettes in my vanity drawer. Inside, there is a Smudge Stick Waterproof Eyeliner in Tetra, a glittery deep purple, and 10 eyeshadow in a variety of finishes:
Instinct, a pearly off-white;
Impulse, a very light shimmery lilac;
Glance, a satiny bright blurple (blue purple);
Improvise, a satiny dark plum;
Cataclyst, a matte black with magenta microglitter;
Desire, a matte pink ivory;
Wonder, a shimmery warm champagne;
Spontaneous, a metallic cool gold;
Whim, a shimmery coppery bronze;
Captivate, a satiny dark taupe brown.
I've tried to capture the palette in both natural daylight as well as in artificial 'studio' lighting so that you get a better idea of how beautiful these shades are - I hope that helps!
Top and the photo above: daylight, bottom and the rest of the photos in this post: artificial lighting

The cardboard sleeve also comes with a shade diagram on the back, and there's also another shade layout diagram on the back of the palette itself. In the box, I've also found a little booklet with a variety of eye look suggestions - quite handy if you don't feel that creative yourself.
 All of the shades feel very soft and smooth to the touch, but have varying levels of pigmentation; as per usual, the metallic/shimmery shades are the most pigmented, while more satiny and matte shades, like Glance or Desire, are a bit more sheer (with the exception of matte Cataclyst, which is nice and dark). The eyeshadows blend like a dream over the eye and have very little to no fallout. They also stay put throughout the day over an eye primer with minimal fading or creasing. I have to say that so far, I'm really impressed with Stila's eyeshadows!
The Smudge Stick in Tetra is a nice enough shade but to be honest, I could also do without it - it's neither very pigmented or very smooth to apply, and as for longevity, I usually don't have problems with my eyeliner smudging, so I can't really comment on whether it withstands a lot. I do however like the microglitters in the shade, it makes it a bit more interesting without being too adolescent.
Here's a look I did using the darker end of the palette, just to give you a bit of a change from all the subtle looks I usually go for. I used Captivate all over the lid and blended it up in the crease, and then I added some Cataclyst at the lashline and blended it upwards and outwards into Captivate. I also smudged some Improvise under the lower lashline, but you can't really see that in the photo. I finished off with Desire in the inner corner and under the brow and a creamy black eyeliner smudged into the lashes. I got a lot of compliments at work on this more dramatic but still daytime appropriate smokey eye!
I'm very pleased with my new Stila palette but I've also started to realize that I might have way too many palettes that I can reasonably use on a day to day basis; I have a couple of gorgeous palettes that I regrettably haven't reached for in at least couple months. So, In the Moment is my last palette purchase for this year, I think, and I can't wait to put it to a good use!

Have you tried Stila eyeshadows before? What is your current favorite eyeshadow palette?