Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Rocaille Swatches: NARS New Lover Velvet Gloss Lip Pencil

Sephora always gets me with their cute selection of deluxe samples you can receive with your online order; recently, I just couldn't pass up their 'Classic It Kit' that came with a mini NARS Velvet Gloss Lip Pencil in New Lover ($24/ 0.09 oz for a full size). I'd never tried a lip product from NARS before so I was really curious to test it out!
Firstly, I really like how the mini size also came packaged in a cardboard box but I also wish the name of the shade were printed on the pencil itself, not just the packaging. The Velvet Gloss Lip Pencil is a fat crayon type of product but unlike Clinique Chubby Sticks or Revlon Balm Stains, it is non retractable and thinner - you do actually have to sharpen this one, which is going to be a pain.
New Lover is a sheer peachy pink with golden pearl; the particles are smaller than shimmer even which is a big plus for me - no grittiness on the lips! The finish is more satin than glossy and for me, the product spreads out much more easily with a lip balm as a base. The product claims to moisturize with Vitamin E, hyaluronic spheres and phytosterol esters but on me, it feels neither moisturizing nor drying. I have to do a good couple of passes for the shade to show up on my pigmented lips and even built-up, I would still qualify this as a nude shade. I believe New Lover is supposed to be a lip counterpart to their cult Orgasm powder blush.
Compared to some of my other peach lip products with a gold sheen, New Lover looks and swatches a lot more pink than all of the other shades. In the bullet, it looks quite a bit like Revlon Lip Butter in Peach Parfait but it swatches more pink and the gold pearl is much finer in NARS. Both NYX Round Lipstick in Indian Pink and MAC lipstick in Jest are more pigmented and a lot more warm-toned than NARS New Lover.

L-R: Nars New Lover, Revlon Peach Parfait, NYX Indian Pink, MAC Jest
Here you can see a close-up lip swatch (see how smooth and even it looks?) and a face shot; I find this shade to be a good companion to a more golden smokey eye. As expected for a sheer product, the wear time is not great - I would say probably 2-3 hours without any meals or drinks.

All in all, I'm glad I got to try this mini NARS Velvet Gloss Lip Pencil free as it's a great on-the-go product to keep in your purse but now I wouldn't go out of my way to purchase another one of these, unless I was completely in love with a shade. I really wish this was retractable too! Have you tried any of the NARS Velvet Gloss Lip Pencils? What are your thoughts?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Primer Pragmatics: Murad Skin Perfecting Primer Matte Finish

For reasons unknown to me, I've accumulated a fair number of primer samples in the past couple of months - so what better time to start posting a little round-up series which I decided to call 'Primer Pragmatics'. In linguistics, pragmatics are the rules of social language, or a study of 'the ways in which context contributes to meaning'; I feel that applies very well to make-up primers where context is key to finding your perfect product (can you guess the language geek in me here?). Anyways, let's get cracking!
If you know me and my make-up habits, I'm not a big fan of make-up primers at all. My combination skin doesn't agree with most primers in the slightest and even though I have a lot of shine coming through during the day, a primer usually doesn't mattify my oily zones for more than an hour or so. However, today's contestant is a very pleasant surprise: Murad Hybrids Skin Perfecting Primer Matte Finish* ($35 for 1 fl. oz.) does in fact do what it says on the bottle!
Murad Hybrids Skin Perfecting Primer Matte Finish is an 'oil-free primer [which] creates a delicate powder finish that is shine-free'. It's supposed to 'balance oil production while a universal shade provides the perfect skin tone match. Minimize the appearance of pores'. The product is housed in a hygienic bottle with a controllable pump and comes out as a creamy tinted lotion. I would say that the tint is the only aspect of this primer I don't really understand; contrary to Murad's claims, the pigmentation is not enough to even out my skintone but because the shade is not a good match for my skin, it throws of my coloring a bit. I spoke to a dark-skinned friend who's testing it as well at the moment, and she said it made her look ashy; so I wish they just skipped the tint altogether. I've yet to encounter a tinted product that comes in one shade only where the color is truly universal.
L-R: Murad Hybrids Skin Perfecting Primer Matte Finish unblended then blended, Murad Hybrids Skin Perfecting Primer Acne and Shine Control unblended and blended. They're the same shade, bluntly speaking.
Other than this one qualm though, the Skin Perfecting Primer Matte Finish really delivers on its claims. It spreads out quite easily on the skin (but can have a tendency to roll on top of more gel-based moisturizers), providing an instant matte effect that blurrs out my pores and uneven skin texture. Most importantly, it really stays put - on top of a more matte foundation, it lasts a good 5-6 hours without any shine coming through. My more luminous bases last a bit shorter than that, which is to be expected, but is also stops the base from breaking down; a lot of the times my dehydrated patches just end up eating my foundation and I haven't observed it that much with this primer. I also like how the product doesn't feel too silicony and slippery, it's more of a soft powder/dry finish. It looks absolutely beautiful as a base for mineral foundation. If your skin is combination like mine, I recommend using just a little bit on the T-zone as it can look very flat all over, or adding a bit of highlighter on the high points of your face.
Compared to Murad Hybrids Skin Perfecting Primer Acne and Shine Control, a sample of which I received in my Sample Society beauty box, I much prefer the Matte Finish version. For me, the Acne and Shine primer 1) doesn't help my acne, 2) doesn't stop the shine. It feels a lot drier on the skin to the point where it's uncomfortable; so if you're debating between the two, I would definitely go for the Matte Finish. You can see it in all its glory on my skin below - not too bad compared to my normal porous self!
All in all, I've been really enjoying using this primer for the past week and I'm feeling a bit sad to have to leave it behind due to the necessary testing of other primers for this series. Who knows, maybe I'll grow to love make-up primers and will start using them every day? Do you use make-up primers? What is your Holy Grail?

*Manufacturer's sample received free of charge as part of my employment for participating in a Murad training session. All opinions are my own, as always.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Lipstick Bandit Vamps: Dark Cherries

This time, our Lipstick Bandit crew decided to tackle a very important subject of vampy lipstick. Also, this time I get to be the enfant terrible of the band because of my indecisiveness and have not one, but two lipsticks to show you in this post!
To be honest, vampy lips is something I don't really go for and as you all know, I'm not one to shy away from a bold lipstick. I think that due to my fair skintone, wearing a very dark lip often ends up in me looking literally like a vampire - drained face and bruised lips, which is something I prefer to reserve for Halloween. But I believe I've found my solution: using a classic ultra vampy shade, Revlon Black Cherry, to darken other bold lipsticks up, like this long-time favorite, Sleek Cherry. It's a double cherry WHAM! (So I'm never gonna dance again, The way I danced with you, ooh…)
I've only got my hands on Revlon's Super Lustrous lipstick in Black Cherry very recently and I do admit it's one of the more difficult lipsticks to work with; it has a tendency to spread unevenly, on its own it clings to dry patches, on top of lip balm it just slides around. Black Cherry is a beautiful, beautiful mulberry shade though that reminds me of chocolate covered cherries, so I am willing to overlook the imperfect formula. Just pair it with a creamier lipstick and it does look wonderful and smooth!
I featured Sleek True Colour lipstick in Cherry a few times already, so there's not much left to write about that - I still love this dark cool-toned red and wear it frequently in the fall/winter season. If you wanted to stick to the dark cherry theme, Revlon's Black Cherry also looks fantastic paired with Revlon's Cherries in the Snow, another pinky red; ultimately, the combination of a berry red with darker purple tones of Black Cherry is my perfect vampy lip that I still feel comfortable wearing out.
Here you can see some arm swatches for comparisons between shades and the combos I came up with; this whole mixing business makes me feel very much like an artist...
L-R: Revlon Black Cherry, Sleek Cherry, Revlon Cherries in the Snow; Black Cherry + Cherry, Black Cherry + Cherries in the Snow
And here's Revlon Black Cherry and Sleek Cherry paired with a simple daytime smokey eye; I wore this look yesterday to work. It's definitely not for the faint-hearted but I think it's not too much for a vampy lip - what do you say?

Don't forget to check out other Lipstick Bandits' posts on their favorite vampy lip shades:
Beauty Reflections
Call It Beauty
Eye Heart It
Getting Cheeky
Glitter Geek
Makeup Morsels
Messy Wands
Musing on Beauty
My Funny Valentine
My Women Stuff
theNotice: a beauty blog 

Do you ever wear a vampy lip? What is your go-to vampy lip product?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Nails of the Week: China Glaze Champagne Kisses

Here's a little fact about me: for the longest time, I'd resisted the appeal of both glitter nail polish AND anything rose gold - because I can be stubborn like that with things everybody seems to love. (Case in point: I stopped eating chocolate when I was 14, and then a family friend gifted me at least 10 boxes of chocolate truffles for my 16th birthday. Because friends can be perverse like that.)
I've since mended my ways though and now I enjoy chocolate truffles and rose gold glitter nail polish, like China Glaze Champagne Kisses from their new Holiday 2012 collection. This is one of those rare manicure shades that I get asked about constantly and... wait for it... everybody seems to love, myself included - shock horror!
My mani here is actually one coat of Orly Rage, a metallic rose gold, topped off with one coat of China Glaze Champagne Kisses. Excuse any unevenness and slight gaps here and there, I think it's my Essie top coat that did this - I added two coats and the polish still has a noticeable dull glitter finish. But I can live with that.
I've swatched all of the China Glaze Holiday 2012 LE as well as the Essie and OPI Holiday offerings, and I think this and one more shade, to be revealed at a later date, are my two absolute favorites. Have you seen any of the Holiday nail polish collections yet? What are your picks?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Current Lip Love: Revlon Balm Stain in Crush

If you're sick of seeing swatches of dark burgundy lip products, I strongly suggest you stop reading at this point - because it's what this post is going to be all about. I've proclaimed my love for the Revlon Kissable Balm Stains back in August, and the color Smitten was practically the sole product I'd been using the two weeks I was on vacation. It's no different with Crush, a blue-toned wine shade, which I acquired quite recently. As much as I love my vampy lipsticks, they do require a lot of upkeep so the Balm Stain formula is a great easy to wear alternative.
There's not much to say other than sharing product close-ups and swatches in the hopes you'll all go and check this one out; I love this range of stains and already have two more colors on my wishlist. In terms of applicaton, they can sometimes go on slightly patchy, especially at the outer edge of my mouth, so I always make sure to smooth it out and blend with my finger. Yesterday I put Crush on at around 3pm and it was still definitely there when I was removing my make-up at 11pm; that goes to show that these really stick around for a long time. The downside is that by the end of the night, my lips do start to feel quite parched but I think it's also the change in the weather that's contributing to the overall dryness of my skin and lips.

Crush is very similar in tone to my other autumnal drugstore gem, Wet'n'Wild Dark Wine, although the Revlon stain is much lighter in terms of intensity so a lot more subtle and less vampy. You can also see the difference in texture in my arm swatches; Wet'n'Wild is creamier, Revlon more waxy, while the Fresh tinted balm in Plum is a lot more oily and glossy.
L-R: Revlon Balm Stain in Smitten, Revlon Balm Stain in Crush, Fresh Sugar Treatment in Plum, Wet'n'Wild Silk Finish lipstick in Dark Wine
Lastly, here I am wearing Crush on my lips with a simple neutral eye courtesy of the Balm Nude'Tude and Milani Berry Amore baked blush on my cheeks. Very classy, don't you think?
What is your favorite easy to wear dark lip? Which shades of Revlon Kissable Balm Stains do you think I should add to my wishlist?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Rocaille Redes: How to Shop for Clothes

Browsing through my closet recently, I've realized that I made a lot of clothing purchases this year - firstly, I had some more money than previous years and secondly, I needed a lot more work-appropriate options. However, looking back at the clothes and accessories I acquired, I came to the conclusion that only a portion of my buys were necessities and out of these, also not all are the things I love and wear regularly. Since going through a big closet clear-out these past two days and thinking through my clothing buying habits, I've decided to establish and enforce some 'clothes shopping rules' to spend my pennies more wisely and enjoy my purchases more. This is maybe a little different for my blog but it's something that's been on my mind a lot lately, so I figured I'd share and maybe get some more tips from you guys in exchange; how does that sound?
 1. Be yourself. Take a good look at what you have and think about the things you like to wear the most - allow yourself to be you and enjoy your favorite things, no matter what other people are buying; follow only the trends that you like. For me, I've always preferred more fitted t-shirts to the larger boxy designs that are all the rage right now and also, I'm on my feet a lot so heels can only be a special occasion shoe for me, even though I love how glamorous they look on others and how much they elongate the legs.

2. Don't hesitate to buy things with a very specific purpose if you need them. I'd put off buying rain boots for 3 years even though I live in the Seattle area and I have one old battered swimming suit that doesn't fit because 'Oh, I don't really need it all that often'. This is just plain ridiculous.

3. Splurge on staples and classic wardrobe pieces. Why do I still use a $2 fraying pleather belt with my dress pants? It's alright to spend more on things you wear regularly and which don't go out of style for a long time, like a timeless white oxford shirt (that I personally still don't have), black slacks, good quality camis, opaque black tights.

4. Only settle for the best when shopping for your staples. Trendy little pieces can come and go but don't buy the basic building blocks of your closet because 'they're ok, I guess'. They need to be perfect (in your respective price range, of course!).

5. Before going out to shop, take a last good look at your closet; pay attention to colors, fits, lenghts, textures and patterns of the pieces you own. It will help you avoid buying very similar things to what you already have as well as allow you to visualize possible pairings and outfit ideas. Also, keep a running wishlist that reflects what your wardrobe might be currently lacking; try to shop more for necessities rather than immediate likes.
6. Only buy if a piece fits (almost) perfectly and feels comfortable on (that means trying things on, and occasionally returning an item, peeps). Remember how your favorite clothes and shoes are the ones that fit like a glove! This year alone I've bought two pairs of ballet flats that simply don't fit my very narrow feet, what a waste :(

7. Every once in a while, identify a group of items that you're banned from purchasing; i.e. things that you already have a lot of. It's fine to have more of the things you wear regularly, like tank tops or scarves for me, but realistically, how many do you actually need? Going through my drawers, I officially don't need any more long-sleeved tops or Victoria's Secret bras - so I'm giving up buying these items until I decide to downsize what I already have.

This is it for now - I'm sure I'm forgetting something but it's a start. I'm thinking of posting similar shopping 'rules and regulations' for make-up, as well as a separate guide on downsizing your stash and making the most of your collection; I have more deep thoughts, people! Let me know if that is something you'd be interested in reading, and don't forget to share your best shopping tips in the comments :)