Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 In Review: Evaluating, Editing and Reducing the Stash

In January, as part of my New Year's resolutions, I decided to challenge myself and try to reduce the embarrasing size of my beauty stash. The specific stipulations of my 'No Back Ups Challenge' can be found here, and as we're just a day away from the end of 2013, I wanted to sum up my collection reducing efforts, show you the last empties of the year, as well as briefly touch on my success, or lack of thereof, in the other areas of blogging and beauty resolutions. 'Tis the time to reflect!
Generally speaking, I'm giving myself a big pat on the back for sticking to my rule of allowing myself to buy no more than 2 products a month; sure, there have been some temptations I couldn't resist, like the Into The Gloss sample sale, or some Friends & Family sales in November, but overall I didn't do too terribly. I also mostly resisted buying products from the 'no back-ups' categories I listed in the original post, like specific types of skincare, bodycare, and primers, mascaras, liners and foundations for make-up products - again, I slipped here and there with a cheeky purchase of a new cleanser or a body butter, but I definitely did limit myself in purchasing those things. One aspect I didn't factor in my resolutions was various gifts (from friends as well as PR samples), so the while the overall size of my stash is smaller, I still have quite a few back-ups left in most of my skincare categories. Can't complain about this!

My resolutions also challenged me to adopt a much more critical approach to the products I already owned as well as new acquisitions. I evaluated a lot of the products I owned, decided to toss a good amount, gave the lightly used and unloved ones away to various friends (and also organized my first blog sale!), and separated some I wanted to make a more concentrated effort in using up. The result is that I'm now much more satisfied with what I own and I appreciate all the great products I have in my collection a lot more than previously. I'm proud to say that not only is the size of my stash smaller and more manageable, but also in the process I discovered a lot of amazing products, which you can read all about in my last post on Best Beauty Buys of 2013.
And now, for the last empties of the year 2013; not that many products this time around because I have a good number of things that just refuse to die. In terms of bodycare, I have quite a lot of samples we used while in the process of moving to NYC: some shower gels from Bath & Body Works, a Fortune Cookie Soap body scrub, a sample of Loma's Repairative Creme Shampoo and Reconstructor (conditioner) that I enjoyed very much, and a small size of L'Occitane Almond hand cream; I actually prefer the original shea to this one.
Just three meager skincare products: the cheekily purchased Dermalogica's Ultracalming Cleanser, reviewed here, a dried-up bottle of Mario Badescu's Drying Lotion (it was all right but didn't work miracles on my breakouts, so I wouldn't repurchase), and a sample of Dermalogica Age Reversal Eye Complex - good eye cream with lots of vitamins and retinol but not moisturizing enough for the winter time.
My big success would be the completely empty bottle of Cacharel Amor Amor EDT; I purchased this a long time ago after remembering I had enjoyed a sample even a longer time ago, and shortly after purchasing, decided that I actually wasn't that fond of the scent, so I pretty much had to force myself to use this up. For full sizes of make-up, I tossed a couple products: a dried-out Prestige Total Intensity liner that was causing major flakes, ditto for Kjaer Weis mascara, and a shattered pot of lime green Inglot eyeshadow I wasn't even using. I also used up samples of Buxom Buxom Lash (big thumbs up), Tocca Stella perfume (very nice!) and Prada Candy (purchased a full size last year).

Lastly, as for my other blogging resolutions: I'm quite happy with what I managed to achieve on the blog this year. While this wasn't the most prolific year in my blogging history, it was also quite consistent and most of the time, I did manage to bring you about 2 posts per week, often by preplanning and scheduling posts in advance (like now, for example). I'm also glad that I experimented a bit more with product photography and hopefully, you enjoyed the final shots as much as I did. If you wanted to look at Rocaille Writes in numbers, it now boasts over 600,000 page views, more than 1,100 subscribers and we have also passed the big 500 posts mark - not bad, huh? Here's to the New Year bringing even more surprises and opportunities!

I also wanted to take time (or, uhm, cyber space) to thank all of you for your readership, continuing support, amazing, funny and touching comments, and fabulous interactions via email, Twitter and Instagram. I'm blessed that I have so many of you as real friends: some from my past that have unexpectedly become readers, some fabulous beauty bloggers I met through Rocaille Writes and then had a pleasure of meeting 'in real life' for coffee and cakes, some that I still only know through the aether but are close to my heart nonetheless. Big hugz to all of you, guys... and have fun at those New Year's Eve parties! I'll toast to you for sure! And yeah... thanks for putting up with the cheesy soppiness of this post - it just had to be done :)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Best Beauty Buys of 2013

The year 2013 is now drawing to a close; I hope you spent your Holidays well with your loved ones and now that you're slowly emerging from a food coma, it's time to think about the glamour of New Year's Eve! I might be able to help in your party preparations with my selection of best make-up products I've tried in 2013. These are not actually items that were newly released in 2013, just bits that I personally started using or rediscovered this year - basically, a yearly favorites of sorts. Majority of these products have been previously reviewed, so if you're interested in more details and swatches, please click on the provided links. Let's get cracking!
Starting with base make-up, this was actually the hardest part to include in my favorites. I suppose that throughout the year, I used my Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum foundation the most and now I've very nearly finished my bottle, but I came to the conclusion that it's a very difficult product to get right; if my skin is too much on the oily side, it slides right off, if it's a bit dehydrated, it clings to all the dry patches. So, contrarily, for its ease of use, the 2013 award goes to Laura Mercier Mineral Powder SPF 15 (review and swatches of my shade, Tender Rose, here). This mineral foundation is quick and easy, gives good coverage and disguises both enlarged pores as well as dry flakes. I only wish they made a travel jar as well!
Onto the eyes (I know, no blush in my round-up; quelle horreur! I just wasn't very loyal to any particular formula or brand although I've tried some lovely ones this year... Maybe a blush favorites post in the future?): I actually have two eyeshadow formula favorites. First up, and it's no surprise, bareMinerals READY Eyeshadows. My favorite all-round color combo is this palette in The Finer Things (LE, sorry! But... click here anyway?), although you can also find great neutral choices in The Power Neutrals palette or Truth quad.
Secondly, nothing can beat the price point and unique shade selection of Fyrinnae loose eyeshadows (swatches here and here, eye looks here and here, notes on pressing samples here). Admittedly, they require a bit more effort if you wish to save space and application time by pressing them, but for me the payoff is absolutely worth it. I can also credit Fyrinnae shadows for more colorful eye make-up experiments this year. I undoubtedly see myself expanding my collection of their shades in the future. As a side note, I love using my Z Palettes for all the loose eyeshadow and blush pans and much prefer them to any other free form palette I've tried thus far.
Eyeshadow sticks and eyeliners: Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Colors (especially the shade Grey Pearl, swatched and reviewed here) and Sephora Contour Eye Pencil 12HR Wear respectively (shades Flirting Game and Surfer Babe here). 2013 was a grand year of cream eyeshadows for me, which I'm sure some of you noticed from the abundance of posts on the subject. Laura Mercier Caviar Sticks still stand out as overall winners, and the Sephora Contour pencils are the best pencil eyeliners I've tried in a long time; the available shades of both products are beautiful too. You just can't go wrong with either formula.
This past year was a jolly good time for my lashes, mostly due to the amazing thickening and lenghtening powers of LiLash Eyelash Serum (full review here). I'm still clinging to my first tube and scraping up the bottom for the very last bits; as you can see in the photo, I do have a back-up, but I want to get the most mileage partly because of the price, but mostly because it's sadly no longer in production. I might cry when it runs out. As for mascara formulas that worked the best on my full fringe, Laura Mercier's Full Blown Volume Lash Building Mascara ($24 for 0.4 oz) was a very pleasant surprise (I have another deluxe sample here in the photo), but honorable mentions should also go to Bobbi Brown's Everything Mascara ($25 for 0.2 oz) and Buxom's Buxom Lash ($19 for 0.37 oz).
 Aaaah, lip products. I have to say this year I turned to more high-end formulas and generally, as my lips got a lot drier, became significantly more picky about the formulas. Three that emerged as comfortable, line-filling, hydrating winners: Guerlain Rouge Automatique (the only shade I own, Shalimar, photographed and swatched here - but I'm already scheming to purchase more shades) for a proper, pigmented lipstick, Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Treatments (older review here; my favorite shade was Rose but I also really like Passion) for a sheer, juicy formula, and lastly Buxom Lip Cream in Cherry Flip (clickety click!) for a gloss.
For nail polish favorites, my regular rotation of OPI and Essie polishes was joined by Zoya Professional Nail Lacquer (no links, but you can look up swatches in my 'Month in Nail Polish' posts). I came to really enjoy their solid 5-free formula and I can't blame the shade range either. I especially like Zoya's more adventurous approach to finish; you can find creams, duochromes, subtle pearls, holos, sand texture and even bar glitter in their line-up. I like!
Wow, congratulations if you got this far! That was quite a bit of overly enthusiastic make-up musings, wasn't it? You might notice that I featured a lot of these favorites in my recent 'What's In My Make-up Bag?' post; what can I say, I really do like have my favoritest and trustiest products with me when I travel. I also decided to exclude any skincare or haircare products from this list for a variety of reasons, most of them having to do with the fact that it's a more difficult subject matter to evaluate objectively and thus, probably less helpful to you. Anyway, I do hope you enjoyed reading about my best beauty buys of 2013 and stay tuned for 2013 in review post!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Month in Nail Polish: November & December

Merry Christmas Eve to all of you, my dears! As an intermission to all your festive preparations, I have some nail p0rn for you. November & December were another two months of nail care laziness chez Rocaille Writes; I think the fact that nail polish wears so well on my nails is both a blessing and a curse, as I get to be rather forgetful about my manicures without having to endure terrible chips and broken nails.
Turn It Around is the first Rescue Beauty Lounge nail polish I've ever tried, and I was quite smitten with this khaki green full of fiery copper flecks; it rather reminded me of turning leaves and thus was a perfect fall nail shade. This is two coats but I think the color would benefit from three; again, I'm too lazy for that. It wore well for at least a week without any chips and just minor tip wear.
At Halloween, I took advantage of Zoya's promo and bought 2 polishes for the price of one with free shipping. I chose Payton (pictured) and Mosheen (swatches to come) from their new Winter collection. Zoya Payton is a gorgeous deep grape jelly with holographic glitter. This is two coats again; sorry for the uneven ring around my cuticles, but I think my bottle of Essie top coat has a tendency to shrink now.
December brought with it some obligatory holiday parties, and I decided to go all out red sparkles with Orly Star Spangled, pretty much an identical dupe to China Glaze Ruby Slippers. To shake things up a bit, I've kept my nails longer, and accented my ring finger with China Glaze Mrs. Claus silver and pink glitter topper. I couldn't stop staring at my shimmery ruby talons!
For my flight back home, I settled on a slightly more neutral, but nonetheless festive manicure with OPI Don't Burst My Bubble pale pink jelly for the base color, topped with OPI Ski Slope Sweetie opalescent pale white gold. The latter is a very difficult polish to capture on camera (which is why you get two photos in slightly different lighting), and it can also look very different on top of various shades, but I wanted the softness of pale pink underneath to compliment the shifting colors of gold, orange, fuschia and lime shimmers.
I like travelling with more neutral colors on my nails, because even though it's now been one week since the application, there are absolutely no chips and you can barely see any tip wear! Speaking of travels, thank you all kindly for your good wishes; I got home safely but not without some delays at the airport - New York was so snowy on the day of my departure! But I'm here, properly spoilt with delicious food and comfy blankets by my parents, and happily snapping away on my camera so that I'd be able to bring a little piece of Poland to you as well, as requested. Sending lots of love your way, and... Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Bath Treats with Neom, Haus of Gloi and Hugo Naturals!

Just four sleeps till Christmas for me! For all my non-Polish readers out there, we Poles start celebrating one day early, on Christmas Eve, first with a fast until the first star shines bright in the sky, and then with a feast of 12 dishes. Christmas is not quite here yet but we're sure already preparing for it; my infallible mum is cooking (and baking!) up a storm in kitchen, my dad is braving the cold and the heights to decorate the house, and I'm wrapping all those presents and trying to be a good helper to everyone else.
But, after a good work's day, I like to relax with a cup of tea next to the fireplace, and then tiptoe upstairs for a warm, relaxing bath. This year I somehow managed to accumulate quite a few Christmassy bath treats, and I wanted to show you what I'm using in case you needed a last minute gift inspiration or just wanted to pick up something for yourself.
While I was purchasing a Christmas set of Neom Organics candles for a hostess gift, I spotted this mini set of three Neom's bath oils called Three Nights of Peace ($17 for 3 x 5ml on I've actually never tried anything from the brand and also haven't tried very many bath oils (bubbles are usually my jazz), so I didn't hesitate long to plop it in my basket. The box is beautifully made with a thick, textured paper, and the mini bottles are frosted glass, which adds to the lovely presentation. 
The set comes with the scents Complete Bliss (Moroccan Blush Rose), Real Luxury (Lavender, Jasmine, Brazilian Rosewood) and Tranquility (English Lavender, Sweet Basil and Jasmine). So far I've tried Tranquility, which was calming, slightly herbaceous and very spa-like, and Real Luxury, which was warm, sensual and yes, luxurious. I only used about 1/4 of a bottle per bath (because I'm a cheapskate) but I find that even this small amount was enough to impart a beautiful scent and give the bath water some moisturizing properties. Big thumbs up from me; oh, and the little vials are also perfect for travel!
Speaking of travel-friendliness, these adorable Butter Bombs from Haus of Gloi ($2.50 for 1 oz each) would be great to take with you too; I sure packed one... or more in my suitcase! Doesn't the canvas baggie they came in look like a miniature Santa's sack? Anyway, these little scoops are meant to be both fragrant and moisturizing with cocoa and mango butter. They have a much softer, crumblier texture than regular bath fizzies (compared to LUSH, they remind me more of bubble bars than bath bombs) and turn the water slightly milky and foamy.
You can see here that Butter Bombs really do look like little scoops of ice cream! Gingerbread, which is the first scent I tried, is absolutely amazing: rich, spicy sweet, decadent. Again, because I'm cheap, I only crumbled about 1/3 into my bath, which gave off a lot scent, a bit of moisture but no slip in the tub. Next time you order your Pumpkin Butters from Haus, do give these a try as well!
Lastly, as if one marzipan scent from Haus of Gloi couldn't be enough for me, I also picked up this Fizzy Bath Cupcake from Hugo & Debra Naturals ($4.99 for 6 oz) at my local Whole Foods. I've only tried Hugo's bath salts previously and I heard these bath fizzies are really good, so I had a good look at their Christmas offerings (I believe there are two other scents available, Cranberry Pomegranate and Vanilla Peppermint) and came up with the Marzipan scent. Unfortunately, this cutesy cupcake is the black sheep of this post; I really was not impressed with the product. Once out of the protective plastic film, it immediately crumbled into loose chunks, and even when I just about put my nose in the product, I couldn't smell more than a faint, sugary scent with a trace of almond. It did turn my bath water a cheery pink though...

I do feel spoilt rotten with all these bath treats; but that's what the Holiday season is all about, isn't it? Do you take more baths in the winter? What are your favorite bath products?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Last Minute Gift Idea: bareMinerals READY The Power Neutrals Eyeshadow Palette

We all know my love for the bareMinerals READY eyeshadow formula (well, if you don't, you can read my previous reviews of Truth quad here and The Finer Things palette here); so when I spotted The Power Neutrals palette ($40 for 8 g/ 0.28 oz) at a sample sale, I didn't hesitate and snagged it before someone else decided to pounce. Those sample sales are like a veritable battlefield, I tell you!
The Power Neutrals eyeshadow palette, released as limited edition for the summer 2013 but still available at Sephora, comes in a gold compact this time; and as usual features a large mirror inside as well as shade names on the bottom. I don't really intend to yet again wax lyrical about the superior formula but I'd rather concentrate on the shade selection to give you a better idea whether to buy or skip this palette, according to your personal make-up tastes.
 The Power Neutrals is predominantly a matte eyeshadow palette. There's a good range of light, medium and dark colors but it's probably the most suited for defining daytime looks for office or school environment. This palette is also definitely on the cool, greyish end of the neutral spectrum; there are some warmer shades but if you love more bronzey, metallic shades a la Urban Decay Naked 1, you'll be disappointed with this selection.
You can see the shades pretty acurately in the photos, but I wanted to add my *feels* about the overall tonality and functionality of this palette for me. Let me start by saying that even though I love cool-toned neutrals more than any other eyeshadow shade range, this palette doesn't really vow me. There's one metallic golden taupe in this palette that's absolutely stunning (Schmooze), a couple interesting greyed tones (dark purple grey of Exec, medium olive grey of Honeymaker, lighter matte greige of Payday) but apart from those, The Power Neutrals is a bit snoozy for this shimmer lover.  The two matte browns on the far right are good quality, but certainly not unique, and the two lightest shades leave a bit to be desired as well; Boss Lady, a light pink beige with silver shimmer, has a strange grey cast that's not illuminating enough for my fair skin, and the matte yellow beige Magnate wouldn't work for my skintone for anything except as an eyelid vein-concealing base.
For me personally, the shade selection in The Power Neutrals palette is simply not exciting enough. But one can absolutely work around it, either pairing with other eyeshadows or by adding a liner, or a glitter topper... As you can see below, I decided to add interest by way of colorful liner on the waterline (Sephora Contour Liner in Surfer Babe, recently reviewed here). I used Schmooze on the lid, blended it out in the outer corner with Get Ahead, highlighted the inner corners with Boss Lady and lined the lower lashline with Honeymaker. Lips are NYX Round Lipstick in Tea Rose, topped with their lipgloss in Beige.
But, one woman's snooze is another woman's treasure. While I'm a terribly spoilt cool neutrals collector, my mum, who barely uses eyeshadow, would probably love and use all the shades here. Due to the prevalence of mattes, I think it would be a good last minute gift idea for more mature make-up wearers; an aunt, an older cousin, and yes, your mum. This shadow formula, apart from being super blendable and long-wearing, actually contains an anti-aging complex too, making it a perfect choice for the slightly older crowd.
Have you tried the bareMinerals READY eyeshadows? What are your favorite shades? Do you gift make-up to your family and friends?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

What's In My Travel Make-up Bag

Every December, me and my husband fly out to Poland to spend Christmas with our families. It's just such a magical time of the year and there's no way we could miss being with the loved ones, with our heaps of delicious Polish food, Christmas carols, crackling logs in the fireplace, and of course, mountains of presents under the Christmas tree.
This year I'm actually flying home quite early, and as you're reading this post, I'm in the midst of packing my suitcase and counting the time until the departure for JFK airport. I usually dread flying, but since we moved to the East Coast, Warsaw is so much closer than before - just one 8-hour flight away! But anyway, while I'm packing I thought I'd show you what's in the make-up bag I' bringing with me (you can also check out the contents of my last year's carry-on pouch here). Shall we take a peek inside?
I recently got this 'Beauty on the fly' bag from Sephora so that I could stop using those ridiculous ziplock baggies; I'm not planning on packing my make-up in my carry-on, but I wanted to show you the design and how roomy the bag actually is. First off, let's start with base: I like to travel with smaller and/or more compact make-up products, so I chose the small bottle of Face Atelier Ultra Foundation, Bobbi Brown Corrector for under eyes and Becca Compact Concealer for blemishes. I was thinking for the longest time about taking a mineral foundation as well for days when I don't need as much make-up, but decided against - in the case my skin will be behaving particularly well (which it never does during the Holidays), I could try to sheer the foundation out with some moisturizer. I also packed a travel size of Stila Convertible Color in Lillium, my natural warmer blush option and an Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Diffused to set everything.

For my eyes, I decided to overpack my eyeshadows a bit; I feel like I haven't played with eye make-up enough recently and hopefully with some holiday downtime, I'll have more time to experiment while I'm away. I filled my small Z Palette with a lot of shimmery neutral Fyrinnae shadows, Rouge Bunny Rouge Unforgettable Oriole and Eclipse Eagle, one cool matte brown from Inglot to blend out edges, and a La Femme blush in Flamingo Pink for the more vibrant, cool-toned blush option.
I also REALLY want to take my bareMinerals The Finer Things palette although I realize it's probably a bit of eyeshadow overkill. We'll see if I have enough space to squeeze it in! I'm also taking a NARS eye primer, a Laura Mercier Caviar stick in Grey Pearl for lazy days, some eyeliners (fun colors from Sephora and a boring black from GOSH), and a sample size of black mascara. I forgot to include my brow pencil in the photos, but that obviously has to come as well.

Lastly, for lips I've managed to be quite restrained and only pack three products: a Guerlain Rouge Automatique in Shalimar for a cool bold pink, a MAC Viva Glam V for a pinky neutral, and a Fresh Sugar Treatment lip balm in Passion for a sheerer juicy red. I might also pack a neutral lipgloss like Clarins Lip Perfector in Rose Shimmer in my carry-on for shine and hydration on the go.

And that's it! Well, ok, I realize it's actually quite a lot of make-up - but I'll be gone for about three weeks and also need to be prepared for Holiday parties, family gatherings, theatre outings and similar special occasions. As you can see, I like to still have options when I travel, especially for my eye make-up, but otherwise I try not to take colors that are very similar or that I know I don't like wearing often. I'll focus on making an effort to take lots of photos while I'm in Poland and I'll be posting them on my Instagram, or maybe I'll even eke out enough time to write an actual blog post - well, apart from regular blog programming I have scheduled for you when I'm gone.

Do you pack light or are you a make-up overpacker? What is your system for packing cosmetics and skincare? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Taupe for the Holidays: Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow in No Pressure

Remember when I said I shouldn't be really buying any more taupes? Well, it was already a bit late to be saying that, since I still have at least few taupe eye products that I haven't featured on the blog yet, like this Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow in No Pressure ($20 for 0.16 oz), a warmer brown taupe with gold microglitter that's just perfect for this Holiday season.

My old pot of Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow in Skinny Jeans was actually one of the first more high-end products I added to my growing make-up collection a couple years ago. I do still have it and use it, which goes to show that these Benefit cream eyeshadows do not dry out as fast as some other brands. They have since been repackaged into this slightly smaller plastic pot that comes in the world's smallest hatbox with the brand's usual vintage-themed design. The new packaging might look like it doesn't hold the same amount of product but in fact it does, and while I feel a slight nostalgia for the dove print on the cap, I appreciate that the new version is more travel-friendly.
I'm not sure if it's due to the age of my jar of Skinny Jeans, but the formula seems slightly different now. My older Creaseless Creams are denser, so that one dip into the cream gives me a lot more product - and I actually remember them being like that from the start, they're just slightly drier now. The new jar of No Pressure behaves differently: the product is thinner and more melty (as in, firm in the pot but softens up with the warmth of my fingers), so that it applies in thinner, slightly sheerer layers that are easier to blend out. I don't really have a preference for the old versus new formula, as both give me the same long-wearing result with very good pigmentation.
Now, for the painful comparison against my other taupe eyeshadows, cream and otherwise. As you can see in the swatches below, Benefit No Pressure is quite a well-balanced medium brown taupe with some sheen as well as gold microglitter. It's similar depth to Maybelline 24hr Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze, but the Maybelline shadow is more metallic with some silver flashes. The Crease shade from Wet'n'Wild Walking on Eggshells trio is similar tone, but flatter finish and slightly warmer. Both my Inglot no. 402 and MAC Satin Taupe eyeshadows are significantly cooler, more plummy and metallic in finish. Overall, I have to say that Benefit's No Pressure isn't terribly unique a taupe, but because of it's neutral, not too warm, not too cool tones, it makes for an excellent base for my other taupe powder eyeshadows, and would probably suit just about any skintone (and thus make a great Christmas gift!).
L-R: Benefit Creaseless Cream in No Pressure, Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze, Inglot AMC Shine no. 112, Fyrinnae Witchy Woodland Creatures, Wet'n'Wild Brown from the Walking on Eggshells trio, Inglot Pearl no. 402, Elf Custom Eyeshadow in Moondust, MAC Satin Taupe
Here's a very simple look showcasing Benefit's No Pressure Creaseless Cream Eyeshadow on my eyes. I blended about two layers of the cream shadow on my lids and out in the crease and then deepened the outer corner slightly with bareMinerals pressed eyeshadow in Chateau, a cool steel grey, from The Finer Things palette. I also highlighted the inner corners with Five Star, matte white, from the same palette. I finished off the look with some mascara and voila! If you enlarge the photo, you'd really be able to see the gold glitters running through No Pressure.
Have you tried the new repackaged Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadows? What are your favorite shades? Is there an eyeshadow color that you especially like wearing during the Holiday season?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Bar Soap for Your Face?! Osmia Black Clay Facial Soap Review

Uhm, yeah, I know. Even I, a seasoned and fearless skincare roadtester, audibly gulped at the sight of Osmia's top selling Black Clay Facial Soap bar ($22 for 2.25 oz), recommended for normal, problem and combination skin. But there are very little things I wouldn't do in the name of blogging (that, and good skin), so I focused on the redeeming qualities - it's adorably small, it's funky-colored, it has clay and it smells great - and I decided to go for it.
If you haven't heard about Osmia Organics (what kind of blogs do you read under that rock of yours?!), it's a small Colorado-based skincare line that blends luxury with simple, natural and deliciously-scented ingredients. They have a well-edited skincare line but also make great body and lip products; more on that in future posts. The basic principles of Osmia not only tick all of my boxes, but I'm also totally jelly of beautiful mountain scenery shots which Sarah, the brand's founder, posts on her Instagram profile every day as I slowly wither here in the concrete jungle that is Midtown Manhattan. I may or may not be a bit of an Insta stalker.
But, back to the soap: as you can hopefully see, it comes beautifully packaged and a delicious scent of citrusy essential oils wafts even through the paper, and manages to scent up my whole medicine cabinet. The size of Osmia's Facial Soap is more or less half of a regular soap bar but so far, I've found it to be extremely efficient - I've been using mine for a couple weeks now and can't notice it having gotten smaller at all. I also received a clear rubbery soap saving dish to help dry the soap properly between uses and thus preserve it for longer.
In terms of use, I slightly dampen my face and hands with warm water, do a couple of passes with the soap on my hand and then lather it up on the face. It gives quite a generous, creamy white lather that feels lush on the skin and doesn't make it feel stripped or tight after rinsing; quite the opposite in fact, I find that while I'm rinsing, there's almost a slightly slippery barrier left behind. The soap does not transfer any of its color on the skin, a disappointment I'm still coming to terms with - I totally wanted to scare my husband with a black clay face one evening.
Compared to some other clay cleansers, Osmia Black Clay Facial Soap is a lot less drying than the Claymedix French Red Clay soap (I only dare to wash my hands with this one and even for that, I find it rather unpleasant) but quite similar in result to a non-foaming REN ClearCalm 3 Clarifying Clay Cleanser, reviewed here. I would say it's a bit quicker to use because it lathers and rinses more easily than the REN, which has to be massaged into the skin and then rinsed/wiped rather thorougly.

In terms of overall results, I'm not quite convinced that this facial soap is more effective than my preferred method of cleansing with a non-foaming balm. I haven't found it to be particularly acne-reducing or shine-minimizing. I was however pleasantly surprised at how comfortable my skin feels after using it; not too tight, not too oily, calm and mostly without redness, which makes it a perfect choice for the mornings in my book. I will continue to use and enjoy my little black bar but I'm not sure if I'll repurchase; I guess I shall have to take more long-term results into account before adding it to my shopping cart in the future.

Have you tried any bar soaps for cleansing your face? What are your favorite Osmia products?

Disclaimer: The product featured is a press sample I received from Osmia Organics for review consideration  All opinions are 100% honest and unbiased, no matter if the products featured were purchased with my own monies or provided as a free press sample. All links are non-affiliate and simply provided for your convenience. Thank you for reading!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Tag: 5 Product Face

I was tagged by the awesome Seattleite (not satellite, mind you) blogging friend Larie from Eye Heart It to do a full make-up face with only five products, and since I haven't done any tag posts in donkey's years, I decided to go for it!
I particularly like this tag because not only does it show everyone's bare make-up necessities, but it also forces you to really get the most out of your products by multitasking as much as possible. For me in particular, the 5 product limit also means being very strategic towards my base; I don't have perfect skin by any means so skimping on coverage is absolutely out of the question - on normal non-tag days, doing just my base takes at least 4 products. Can you see the difficulty?
But, well, sacrifices must be made in times of desperate need (or, blogging frenzy): the Graftobian Hi-Def Glamour Creme, due to its opacity and denser formula, can be used as both foundation and concealer. For the foundation part, I tried to sheer it out as much as possible with a very damp make-up sponge, and for the concealer, I dabbed with a blending brush on any offending spots and under the eyes. I decided to use Rouge Bunny Rouge Unforgettable Oriole eyeshadow on the eyes to brighten and disguise veins, and I dusted some on top of the cheekbones and Cupid's bow for a good measure as well. I also couldn't skip doing my brows with the trusty ybf Universal Brow Pencil, which also doubled as an eyeliner on my upper lashline. I then applied copious amounts of mascara (Guerlain Cils d'Enfer Maxi Lash... no wonder they refrained from literal translation from French - Lashes From Hell, anyone?); I feel that any minimal make-up attempts warrant liberal use of black mascara. I finished off my face with theBalm Stainiac in Beauty Queen on lips and cheeks.
Some notes on the look: a minimal eye + berry hues read very porcelain doll on me; not necessarily a bad thing but I would say the Stainiac was a bit too sweet-looking for my liking, so I would play some more with other coordinating lip/cheek shades next time. The Graftobian Creme foundation unfortunately looked quite cakey under my eyes and a touch too shiny on the rest of the face, but hey - I do normally use a separate under eye concealer and set my face with powder. But overall, I thought this wasn't too bad for a first attempt. It's also worth observing that while this look might be minimal in products, it's not necessarily quicker than a more elaborate routine.

What would your 5 Product Face look like? Do the tag or let me know in the comments, please!