Tuesday, August 27, 2013

August in Photos

I'm back from vacation, lovelies! I bet you didn't even know I was gone - yes, I'm really proud of my post scheduling skillz this time. I haven't been very active on the social media front recently due to a family visit, and ensuing travels: we went to Portland for a couple of days, and then took a trip to Whidbey Island, both of which were spent lounging about, taking long leisurely walks, eating well and generally having fun. Here are some holiday snaps captured by yours truly and my sister-in-law's phone lenses:
Portland's Pearl District/ Favorite coffee shop/ Powell's Books/ Vodoo Donuts at night/ Deception Pass, WA/ Deception Pass bridge/ Walking on the beach at Whidbey Island/ And some more walking.../The mist coming in from the ocean made for beautiful photos/ Oak Harbor, WA/ Fort Ebey State Park/ Back at home, playing Monopoly

While I was gone, Rocaille Writes was featured on Karen's Make-up And Beauty Blog - if you haven't checked out my interview and a guest post on my favorite eyeshadows, you can do so here and here. I also mention some books I really recommend reading, if you're a fellow bookworm!

I have a big backlog of beauty bits to write about now, and can't wait to get around to it, so be on the lookout for lots more posts coming your way in September. A huge thanks for your lovely comments, tweets and general awesomeness in the past few weeks - you guys rock! Let me know what you've been up to in the comments, I love hearing from you :)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Current Everyday Make-up Staples

When it comes to make-up with a lot of color variation like eyeshadows, liners, blushes and lip products, I do own a significant collection and I'm always looking for new interesting shades to add on to my stash. But when it comes to real basics, I have only a few and use even fewer; in the morning hustle and bustle I prefer to take the guesswork out of my make-up routine and go with a selection of tried and true products. I thought it'd be fun to show you what is on my face 90% of the time when I'm wearing make-up so we can compare our notes!
First off, prep and prime: I'm sure you're tired of me talking about this Devita Solar Protective Moisturizer SPF 30+, but I do wear it under make-up (or alone!) every single day. I tend to skip make-up primers as I haven't found one I really liked yet, although I nearly always prime my oily eyelids with NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base, my absolute favorite and Holy Grail eyeshadow primer. I also like to dab a bit of Jack Black lip balm SPF 25 on my lips and let it sink in before I apply any lipstick.
Now for the base: on a day-to-day basis, I prefer wearing mineral foundation over liquid and my favorite for the past couple of months has been Laura Mercier Mineral Powder SPF 15, reviewed in detail here. For a quick perfecting base, I first apply the Rimmel Match Perfection concealer under my eyes and blend with a finger, then buff on some Laura Mercier powder foundation with a kabuki brush, concentrating on the areas that need more coverage. In the summer, I enjoy using The Body Shop Honey Bronze Bronzing Powder in Fair Matte (unfortunately, the lid of mine completely broke off!) on the high points of my face for a bit of a sculpting glow; this bronzer is my favorite for a quick, subtle and natural look on fair skin.

Lastly, I spot conceal with Becca Dual Coverage Compact Concealer in the shade Sherbet - I think I've never talked about this product before even though I use it every single day! It's a thicker cream with a medium coverage and opaque coverage concealers in the same split pan; honestly, I find that both sides work almost the same for me but possibly the left (medium coverage) is slightly easier to blend. It does a good job of covering unsightly blemishes and pigmentation although it can appear cakey on the skin; I think that all in all I prefer the performance to price ratio of MAC Studio Finish concealer.
For the eyes, I always have to have an eyebrow pencil on hand; I'm currently using the ybf Automatic Universal Eyebrow Pencil I received in a Birchbox a long time ago. I'm not sure how truly universal this shade is, but for my eyebrows it works like a charm and is nearly undetectable. I usually apply a little bit in short strokes mostly to my arches and then brush out with the included spoolie for a softer look. When in a time crush, I always reach for my favorite simple yet defining eye combo: Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze all over the lid and blended into the crease with some smudged dark eyeliner at the lashline - either GOSH Velvet Touch Eyeliner in Black Ink or Annabelle Smudge Liner in Chocolate. I think both of them are slightly dried out now and not as creamy as they used to be, but I'm determined to use them all up.
Now for some swatches, left to right: Rimmel Match Perfection concealer in Ivory is slightly darker and more yellow than my skintone but still blends in nicely under the eyes. Becca Compact Concealer in Sherbet is a quite good match albeit a bit on the yellow side, and Laura Merciel Mineral Powder in Tender Rose blends right into my skin. The Body Shop Honey Bronze powder in Fair Matte is great for a sunkissed look on fair cool-toned skin although it does have a tinge of orange to it.
 Eye products, left to right: Maybelline Bad to the Bronze (again!), Annabelle Smudge liner in Chocolate, GOSH Velvet Touch Eyeliner in Black Ink (umm... maybe more of a dark charcoal) and ybf Universal Eyebrow Pencil. Below, this is how it all works together on my face, obviously with the addition of mascara (Bobbi Brown Everything Mascara in Black), blush (NYX Mauve) and lipstick (Revlon Superlustrous Shine in Kissable Pink).
I hope you enjoyed this quick look at my current make-up staples - I think it'd be fun to do another one in maybe a year to see which products will stay and which will change. Do you tend to use the same basics for everyday looks or do you prefer to rotate them? What are your everyday staples?

Monday, August 19, 2013

June-July 2013 Empties

MOAR beauty stuff has been emptied - high five! The more I use up, the more I can't believe how many backups of products I'd managed to accumulate in various cupboards and drawers without actually having any risk of running out at the time. Take this round of empties: I have finished three different toners, I have a nearly full one on the go and another untouched one still waiting to be cracked open. Boy, I really have enough of stockpiling these skincare backups!
Boring stuff out of the way first: haircare and an antiperspirant. Similarly to Redken Body Full Shampoo mentioned here, the Body Full Light Conditioner has failed to impress me - even for my fine and relatively healthy hair, this doesn't do much to condition. On the other hand, Nioxin Scalp Therapy Conditioner 3 is actually a very decent product for fine hair, if you don't mind the minty smell. Husband approves, too. The Degree Ultra Clear Antiperspirant in Red Satin was a complete fail: it did leave white marks on my shirts, and the scent was of the awful floral kind that seems to make you smell even worse than skipping an antiperspirant altogether.
Bath & Body: no significant mentions, no planned repurchases. The Bath & Body Works Bubble Bath in Dark Kiss is a solid product that does give you mounds of fluffy white bubbles and packs a lot of scent - the Dark Kiss was just OK though and it has to be said that this contains loads of SLS. For Haus of Gloi body scrubs, I do prefer the Bubbling Scrub formula over this Emulsifying Scrub in Picaroon, which was not as soft and very oily. The two Fortune Cookie Soap items, the Spray Lotion in I Wet My Plants and the Jelly Body Shot snot-thingy I actively detested and promptly unsubscribed from the Soap Box service; I'm not dissing all of their products, but the stuff included in the sample subscription was not for me and most scents were misses as well. Not pictured, but I also used up Lush Dorothy Bubble Bar and the Rose Jam Bubbleroon, both reviewed here.
More interesting stuff: skincare! I promise, I'm not a crazy toner lady; there's a reason there are three toners in this round of empties! Truth is, I've used up the Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Rosewater a while back, but was using the spray bottle for my Thayers Rose Petal Witch Hazel (mentioned here) - I was down to a half when the rest separated in the bottle and was too suspicious looking to use any longer. The small bottle of Palindaba Lavender Hydrosol (reviewed here) took only a couple weeks to use up. The John Masters Organics Vitamin C Anti-Aging Serum won't be repurchased for reasons listed here, and the Chanel Ultra Correction Line Repair Eye Cream sample was ok, but not $85 worthy. The Neem Oil from Alaffia (click!) just had to be chucked - couldn't stand the smell.
Some samples: the Dr Dennis Gross Extra Strength Alpha Beta Peel wipes are really good, if a bit scary. I do get quite a bit of tingle from the glycolic but surprisingly, my skin doesn't get very red and irritated and doesn't peel too much over the next day - I quite like these. Oscar Blandi Jasmine hair oil was nothing special, as was the L'Occitane Concentre de Lait body lotion, but I did like my little Sephora sample of Laura Mercier Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer and I might purchase the full size next spring/summer season.
More samples, of the scented nature: my favorite from the three was Diptyque Vetyverio, woodsy, earthy vetiver with floral notes of ylang-ylang, rose and geranium. I would say it read a bit masculine on me, which I didn't mind at all, and I liked the fresh, citrusy opening and the muskier, woodsy drydown; however, I probably wouldn't splurge on the full size without exploring other vetivers out there. Prada Infusion D'Iris is a lot more feminine, etheral and powdery - too softly floral for my tastes, although I do appreciate the drier notes of the base. I won't purchase the full size, but I also have a full rollerball to further analyze the scent. Lastly, L'Occitane Vervaine EDT was just bad - more lemon drops than true lemon verbena, and for the life of me I don't know where there's rose in this. In my opinion, not worth the second look.

And that's it, more beauty clutter has been succesfully cleared! I do feel like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now and it's nice to finally see some more space emerge in my various drawers and secret beauty compartments. Have you finished a lot of products this summer? How are your stash-reducing efforts coming along, if you have any?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Feminine & Flirty: Revlon Super Lustrous Shine Lipstick in Kissable Pink

As much as I was able to curb my beauty spending in the past couple of months, I just can't get rid of the urge to pick up a new lipstick here and there; case in point, the new Revlon Super Lustrous Shine release. The regular Super Lustrous formula is one of my drugstore lipstick favorites, so when I spotted this new Shine range at my local Bartell's, I just couldn't say no. And I didn't.
'Lightweight Color, Moisturizing Shine. A silky lightweight formula that lets you indulge your decadent side. Available in 10 new luxurious shades [...] Exclusive LiquiSilk™ formula with mega-moisturizers seals in color and softness' (from Revlon's website). The Revlon Super Lustrous Shine Lipstick in Kissable Pink ($7.99 for 0.15 oz/ 4.2g) is a sheer, buildable light neutral pink with some white pearl shimmer and a glossy finish. I do love me some sheer wearable pinks for daytime, so I couldn't pass up this shade, and it does look beautifully effortless on the lips.

The formula of this Super Lustrous Shine lipstick is definitely thinner and more lightweight than regular Super Lustrous lipsticks, and the pigmentation is also on the light side, as expected. Compared to some other sheer lipstick formulas I've tried, it's less creamy and soft than Revlon Lip Butters, glossier and less opaque than the Covergirl Gloss Balms, firmer and more satiny than Giorgio Armani Sheers and probably the most similar to Chanel Rouge Coco Shines from anything that I own in my lipstick collection. Revlon Super Lustrous Shine goes on smoothly and evenly, wears comfortably on the lips with only minimal drying out of my pout and lasts 2-3 hours on average; the sheerer formula can't stand up to any meals, that's for sure.
Kissable Pink seems like a great crowd-pleaser shade that is both feminine and flirty. The light to medium intensity of the shade and neutral undertones should suit a variety of skintones, and it's a great versatile option for fans of pinkish nudes. I usually shy away from light pinks (for example, the cult classic MAC Angel lipstick looks rather sad on me) but I think the sheerness and good balance of undertones in Kissable Pink work for me this time. The pearl finish is overall not too noticeable and definitely miles away from the dreaded frosty lip look.
Compared to some other light to medium pinks in my collection, Revlon Kissable Pink (far left) is decidedly lighter and less blue than Guerlain's Rouge Automatique in Shalimar (middle left), less peachy than Covergirl Jumbo Gloss Stick in Watermelon (middle right) and lighter and less rosey than Revlon Lip Butter in Berry Smoothie (far right).
I've also included a photo and some swatches of my other Revlon Super Lustrous lipsticks, so that you can see the difference in the finish more clearly. From left to right, we have Kissable Pink, Cherries in the Snow and Black Cherry.
I've been reaching for Revlon Kissable Pink a lot the past couple of weeks, especially when I'm in a hurry and want just a hint of pretty pink to my lips; strangely enough, overall I haven't been wearing a whole lot of lipstick lately. In the photo below, I paired it with some neutral shades from my new bareMinerals The Finer Things palette and the standard NYX Mauve Powder Blush. Oh, and I forgot to mention... I have had my hair permed recently!
I'm really happy with my new Super Lustrous Lipstick pick and the little browse in the Revlon section has inspired me to look for some other interesting shades in the range again. Which shades do you love the most in the Super Lustrous range? Have you tried the new Shine finish already?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Tools of the Trade: bdellium Make-up Brushes

For a beauty blogger, I think I have slightly atypical collection of brushes; in fact, I only own one MAC and one Sigma brush and they're by far not my favorites. I do however own a lot of Ecotools, Real Techniques and bdellium brushes, and since the latter aren't the most talked about, I thought it'd share my stash and some mini reviews for those intersted in more affordable, mostly cruelty-free (synthetic) brushes.
bdellium tools (the all lower case spelling is starting to bug me now) brushes are professional make-up brushes in 4 different ranges: Maestro Series (the luxury line, animal hair with antibacterial treatment, durable nickel plated brass ferule, black handles) Studio (animal and synthetic hair treated with antibacterial agents, anodized aluminum ferule, long yellow handles), Travel Line (identical to Studio, but shorter handles), and three Bambu lines: Green, Yellow and Pink (colorful synthetic bristles non treated with antibacterial agents, colorful sustainable bamboo handles).

I only own brushes from the Studio and Green Bambu lines. Common denomination between all of these: they haven't shed a single hair, they don't leek dye, they wash well and the bristles seem immune to stains - I've been using these for well over a year now and they have lasted tremendously well.
Starting with the eye brushes: 760(S) Liner/Brow, all synthetic bristles, $7.04 at bdellium online store/ Amazon. I bought this brush primarily to use with a gel eyeliner for cat eye flicks, and it works very well for that purpose; the tip is very fine so you can get a very thin line towards the inner corners, just how I like it. I haven't used it for brows, but it works well with powder eyeshadows too. No complaints here - it's my favorite eyeliner brush and I prefer it over standard liner brushes like Sigma no. as well as angled brushes.
No. 772(B), Small Shadow, $8.02. I use a small eyeshadow brush every day for lining my eyes with a darker shade or deepening the outer corners. The 772 works well with its shorter, firmer bristles - it blends out the color well but it's not scratchy or pokey. I maybe wish the handle was slightly slimmer for storing purposes, but I'm nit-picking here.
No. 776(S) Blending, Full Soft Natural Bristles, $7.92. My most used eye brush ever - I already know I want a second one of those. The 776 is supposed to be a MAC 217 dupe, but I can't really compare since I don't own the MAC version. What I do know is that the 776 is perfect for both all-over shadow applications as well as placing colors in the crease, and it works well with both powder and cream eyeshadows. It has a rather fluffy, rectangular-shaped tip, so it can be used flat to apply color and then vertically to blend it out. I love it. You need it.
No. 778(S) Large Shadow, Optimized Soft Natural & Synthetic Mixed Fibers, $7.92. I love using a large paddle brush to apply concentrated shadow to the lid and sometimes also to diffuse it into the crease. The 778 is dense enough to pick up powder but also fluffy enough to blend it out, feels soft on the eyes and holds its shape well through brush laundry. A really great brush all around.
Onto the face: no. 957(S) Precision Kabuki, Full Synthetic Fibers, $14.52. I bought this brush to use with liquid and cream foundations, and it works reasonably well for that, although I find the bristles a bit too dense and firm for blending out - it works well for stippling motions but circular and lateral movements with this brush seem to drag the product around a bit too much. I would personally skip this one, but it might work if you need something for stippling, or maybe pressing setting powder onto selected areas.
No. 975(B) Mixed Powder, $14.96. This brush is recommended for finishing touches, though I like it better for applying bronzer and contour rather than setting powder. It's not really a round dome, I would say it's definitely flatter and thus better suited for applying a line of product when placed horizontally and then blending out when held vertically. It feels wonderfully soft and blends like a dream - what more would you want?
No. 995(B) Kabuki, $18. This is a rather large, very dense kabuki with dome-shaped bristles. It's quite soft and so well suited for blending out powders. Personally, I find the size a bit too large for me (it barely fits into the lid of my mineral foundations), although it works like a charm when I'm pressed for time and do need something bigger. Also, because the bristles are so so dense, I sometimes feel like some of my foundation disappears somewhere within the depths of the brush. I also like to use the 995 for setting powder or blending out an excess of blush on the cheeks.

Overall, I enjoy using my bdellium tools brushes and definitely plan to pick up more in the future; I especially want another eye blending brush and maybe something for blush as well. I think the price to quality ratio and the size of the range of these brushes are something to look into if you're a make-up brush enthusiast. Have you ever tried bdellium tools? What are your favorite brush brands?

Friday, August 9, 2013

Current Manicure Staples

I'm often asked how I keep my nails long without breaking or how I paint my nails to prevent them from chipping - and truth be told, apart from just having really good nails naturally (which isn't too helpful if you ain't got that, is it?), my answer would be using a good base coat/ strengthener and top coat. For me, a manicure is simply not complete without these two extra steps; heck, I would rather skip the nail polish altogether rather than skip my staples.
Currently, I am using the Nail Tek Hydration Therapy III For Dry, Brittle Nails ($14.95 for 15ml/ 0.5 fl oz) as my base coat and nail strengthener of choice. I don't necessarily have very brittle nails but I do have strong, nearly unflexible nails that tend to get very dry from house/work chores and well, wearing nail polish all the time. I think it's the lack of moisture that causes the tips of my nails to split as well as some peeling on the surface of my nails. In the past, I've used the regular Nail Tek II strengthener as well as OPI Nail Envy, which I both liked but find that Nail Tek Hydration not only keeps my nails from getting too dried out and for some bizarre reason, really helps my nail polish to adhere better and prevents chips.
Essie Good To Go! Fastest Drying Top Coat ($10 for 15ml/ 0.5 fl oz) is what I've been using to seal a finished manicure. I don't really have a whole lot to say about it, other than the fact that it gets the job done without any fuss. I previously used both Seche Vite Fast Drying Top Coat as well as INM Out The Door and I think that from these three, Seche Vite dries the fastest and the shiniest but is also the most stinky and gloopy, and given that Out The Door is half the price of Essie, I'll probably stick to that next time.
Do you always use a base coat and a top coat when you do your nails? What are your manicure staples?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

My Morning Skincare Routine

For a beauty blog with an over four year lifetime, I've only written about my skincare routine once before, at the very humble beginning. Quite a bit changed since then so I thought I'd be more than appropriate to update you, first on the morning goings-on and the evening and special treatments in the near future. Most of the products featured here have been already reviewed at one time or another, so I'll link the respective posts where possible. Let's have a look, shall we?
My morning routine philosophy is that it has to be simple, quick and lightweight. I need to prime my skin for make-up application as well as protect it against harmful UV rays and other environmental aggressors. Since my skin is definitely oily in the T-zone but currently on the dry side everywhere else, I want to keep it hydrated but not overloaded with products - so there!
First, I cleanse my skin from nighttime oils with Dermalogica Ultracalming Cleanser, recently reviewed here; it's a perfect soothing and non-drying cleanse to start off the day. In the morning, I usually skip using any type of washcloth or flannel as to avoid irritation and redness - I just splash off the cleanser with lukewarm water. I gently pat with a towel and mist my damp face with lavender hydrosol from Palindaba Lavender, whose farm we visited a couple weeks ago on our weekend trip to San Juan Island; unfortunately the lavender fields were not yet in bloom! If you're not sure what hydrosols are, they're basically a by-product of essential oil extraction process - they are sometimes called flower waters and contain mostly water with a minimal percentage of the essence. The smell of this lavender hydrosol is very calming and herbaceous, and lavender EO has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. I follow this up with a dab of eye cream; currently I'm testing out YSL Forever Youth Liberator Eye Creme; but if it's really sunny out, I'd swap it out for Clarins Sunscreen For Eyes Wrinkle Control Cream SPF 30, mentioned here.
On the areas where I've been breaking out the most recently, I pat on some Dermalogica Overnight Clearing Gel, a clear lightweight gel with 2% salicylic acid which helps to gently heal acne spots and prevents the new ones from forming. I let it dry and then apply Murad's Skin Perfecting Lotion as a light daytime moisturizer (click!); but if I'm in a hurry or if my face seems more oily, I skip it and go straight to Devita Solar Moisturizer SPF 30+ (mentioned here). This is still my favorite mineral facial sunscreen - incredibly weightless, non-sticky and non-greasy, and it simply wears beautifully under make-up.

And there you have it! Fairly straightforward, isn't it? What are your morning routine principles? Any skincare heroes that help you cut down on the getting ready time?

Friday, August 2, 2013

A Month in Nail Polish: July

I'm always very hesitant about writing 'Nails Of The Day' posts on here; I don't know exactly why but it just seems too little content to devote an entire post to - and well, my skillz are nothing to write home about either. However, since I've been trying to be a bit more creative with my nails lately, I thought it'd still be fun to share here and there, so I decided to just cull all my nail polish picks from a given month into one post for your viewing pleasure :)
I started the month with my first nail art experiment: a pastel ombre. I painted on a base of OPI Alpine Snow and then on top bounced a make-up sponge with three stripes of color - OPI Alpine Snow for the top, Essie Absolutely Shore (pictured) in the middle and Orly Gumdrop for the tips. I really loved the mint gradient effect and plan on doing more gradients in the future!
For my second pick, I tried to do a glitter ombre, although I think the glitter I chose was slightly too sparse and chunky to really perfect the look. As a pink base, I painted on two coats of discontinued CQ Purple Passion and then layered some a lot of OPI Polka.com (pictured) with a sponge at the base of my nails. Overall, this wasn't my favorite look; I'd probably try the same glitter next time with a darker navy base and maybe only as an accent.
My last choice went to the fairly new OPI Liquid Sand polish from the Bond Girls collection - a sparkling sky blue Tiffany Case. I'm still a bit on the fence as far as the whole textured/ liquid sand/ sugar coated thing goes but I do like me some shimmery blue, and Tiffany Case with its mix of smaller blue/teal particles and bigger silver glitter looks amazing in the sunlight.

Now, you might ask why only three nail looks in July; truth is, I was too busy (or lazy) to remove that second glitter look and actually wore it for full two weeks. Yes, it looked pretty awful, but definitely better than what you would normally expect from a two week wear - it actually started chipping at the tips more so because my nails were splitting underneath rather than from actual wear and tear.

What nail polishes have you been wearing lately? Have you ventured into nail art this month?