Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders: My Thoughts on Diffused & Luminous Light

The Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders ($45 for 0.35 oz) were undoubtedly one of the biggest make-up releases of 2013, and it seemed everyone was lemming, buying and loving at least one. I had been very much skeptical in the beginning (baked highlighters? what's so special about that?) but after reading so many reviews, I decided to jump on the bandwagon as well - pretty late at that, as the Ambient Lighting Blushes are just being released this month. But, are these Hourglass powders actually worth the hype?
I've snagged two shades: Diffused Light (left) and Luminous Light (right), and they're very different both color and texture-wise. Diffused is 'a soft, warm, pale yellow that reduces redness, eliminates shine, and gives skin clarity' while Luminous is 'a champagne pearl that creates a soft, incandescent candlelit glow—day or night'. 
As you can see, Diffused has a very smooth, uniform appearance in the pan with no veining and hardly any microshimmer particles visible. I've picked this one up to use as my setting/finishing powder - I definitely need something to counteract the redness in my cool-toned skin, and this satin, fine powder seems to create a blurring veil on the skin, diminishing some of the texture - lines, pores, scars, you name it. In terms of color-correcting and smoothing effect, I'm very happy with it, although I can't say that it has the best oil control: it tones down the shine from a freshly applied foundation and seems to prolong the matte/satin finish for a couple more hours, but it's not going to do well if you're very oily or looking for a blotting powder. The finish on the skin is a dimensional, skin-like satin, no cakiness in sight.
Luminous Light looks more like your typical baked powder - you can see the darker veins in the pan, as well as fine pearl/shimmer. I've heard it being touted as the most universal Ambient Lighting powder, as the shade is more skin-tone like for most folks, and many use it both as a finishing powder and highlighter. In the heavy arm swatches below, you can see that Luminous is actually darker than my skintone, but more importantly, it's definitely more on the shimmery side and thus tends to slightly accentuate skin texture. On my porous self, I can only use it as a highlighter, and sparingly at that. While the darker shade still works on my pale skin when used lightly, the amount of shimmer doesn't perfect my skin's textural flaws. Mind you, compared to a standard highlighter, Luminous Light is more refined and subtle, so I can see how some use it all over, especially if they favor a glowy skin finish.
In the swatches, you can clearly see the textural difference between Diffused (left) and Luminous (right). For a closer look at Luminous used as a cheek highlight, see this post; there wasn't much sense in showing you how Diffused looks on my face as the effect is very subtle and hard to capture in a photo, especially when used on top of foundation.
Overall, I do feel that Hourglass did a great job with these Ambient Lighting Powders, and I can see myself using Diffused in my regular rotation (it's probably the best finishing powder I've ever tried... but I haven't tried that many); less so for Luminous, as I tend to shy away from highlighters most of the time. However, I don't feel that these powders are particularly unique or innovative; Guerlain has had that fine perfecting powder thing down with their Meteorites for years, and many brands are now turning in this direction as well. Which is why I won't be rushing to buy the Ambient Lighting Blushes - it's not like we haven't seen soft-focus, radiant blush formulas from other brands, be it baked or undercooked.

What's your take on Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders? Are you planning to purchase anything from their newly released blush line?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

30 Random Facts About Me

Following on my New Year's promise to bring you more personal content, here's a rather rambly post that I was tagged to do by the lovely Kar Yi at Angelic Betrayal. Get yourself a cup of tea (or a glass of something stronger... consider yourself warned) and dig in!

1. According to old wives' tales, I'd been fashion-obsessed since the tender age of three. My mum remembers that I loved playing dress up and would try just about anything on, preferrably all at once: ski hats, long scarves, dresses, coats, sunglasses - size really wasn't an issue. Having switched my attention to make-up, I can't quite say I still display the same attitude towards my clothing... but I do have some interesting choices in my closet.
Apparently, I also loved unique headgear, and liked to smirk from a very young age.
2. I don't watch horror and war movies because I get too scared. I always get very emotionally involved in whatever I'm watching (or reading), I just can't help it. I am the person who uncontrollably weeps in a movie theater; but hey, at least I'm a silent weeper.

3. I hate people leaning on or even just touching the back of the chair I'm sitting in; it makes me want to pull my hair out. Oh, and the worst of all: tapping or kicking my chair... I think the feeling of vibrations travelling through the wood into my body because of someone's mindless habit is just pure torture. I need space, man!

4. When I was in primary and middle school, stationery was my crack. I loved visiting various stationery and craft supply stores in the neighborhood, looking at pens, pencils and notebooks, and sometimes buying a silly knick knack. I especially loved cute erasers; I remember having a stiletto-shaped one, a neon coral one and a set of eraser tools - a hammer, a screw driver and a paint roller. I still love beautiful stationery and prefer handwriting notes and lists whenever possible.

5. I'm a coffee snob and I fully admit it. My favorite kind of coffee is a classic latte with a teaspoon of sugar, no flavored syrup, no caramel sauce on top (coffee drinks are something I tend to frown upon). I'm very particular about the quality of espresso shot (love my crema!) and the quantity and perfect consistency of foamy, velvety milk. The best latte I've had so far in the United States was at Stumptown Coffee Roasters, and I use their Holler Mountain beans at home to make my coffee. I'm not a caffeine addict though, so if I can't have my coffee just the way I like it, I generally prefer to skip it altogether.
Photo from my Instagram (shameless plug): the only time I ever succeeded at creating latte art, and yes, it was a complete accident.
6. My heart beats quite a bit faster than an average person's, especially when I'm running or hiking. I actually started to be a bit worried about it, so I went to see a doctor, was treated like a proper hypochondriac and in the end learnt that some people's (mostly women's) hearts are just naturally set to a higher heart rate. For this reason, I dislike the whole theory that a person's heart only has a preordinate number of beats to use up in their lifetime.

7. When I was a little girl, I really wanted to be an actress; my dad actually used to be an actor so that's probably where I got the idea. I went to different acting classes for a good couple of years, won first prize in a recitation contest when I was 8, and even got a tiny part in a Polish movie when I was 12. Around the age of 14 though I became too introverted and uncomfortable on the stage to continue my acting passion. I turned my attention to writing and drawing, which required a lot less public attention.

8. I'm neither city folk or country mouse. I grew up in big Polish cities, but moving to Pacific Northwest marked me with a deep appreciation and awe of the natural world; I still think Vancouver, BC, Olympic Penninsula and the San Juan islands are some of the most scenic and breathtaking places you can visit. I do love living in New York though and revelling in all of its unique culture and history, and I can't wait to get to know East Coast a little bit better.
In the Olympic Penninsula. Yes, it's that beautiful.
9. In the past year or so, I experienced a couple instances of sleep paralysis. In case you've never heard about it, Wiki describes it as a phenomenon in which people, either when falling asleep or wakening, temporarily experience an inability to move. My bouts of sleep paralysis have always occurred when I was napping (another good reason not to) because of jet lag, always upon waking up. The feeling of being trapped in your own body is quite possibly one of the most terrifying experiences I've ever had.

10. I like to think I'm a decent cook and I definitely come from a long line of excellent cooks: my mum, both of my grandmothers and even my paternal grandpa can all cook (and bake!) absolutely delicious food. The challenge in my kitchen though is having to adapt to my husband's food allergies, which include but are not limited to cow's dairy, eggs and garlic. I think I can still do an ok job, even with these limitations, although I tend to get very bored of my own dishes. I like variety!

11. Libraries are some of my favorite places to hang out. Although I generally research what I'd like to read at a given time and then place a hold for my book online, I sometimes like to roam aimlessly and get lost between the shelves. There hasn't been a library I visited so far that I didn't like - be it a tiny local library at my parents' suburban town, a majestic Warsaw University Library with its rooftop gardens, or my current Midtown Manhattan library, right next to the historic 5th Ave Stephen A. Schwarzman building.

12. Although I'm not a very small person (I'm 5ft 6', or 167cm), I'm often regarded as one. I think it has to do with the fact that I have quite small upper body and a small head, and combined it can somehow give the impression of frailty. I'll never forget when a much shorter friend, hugging me hello in the highschool classroom, would exclaim 'You're so tiny!'. I'm much curvier now but I used to be quite willowy as a child/teenager.

13. My best friend's name is Mariya and she lives in Seattle. She's the most beautiful, smart, funny, kind, positive and compassionate person and I'm very grateful to have her in my life. For me, one of the biggest cons of moving to NYC was being separated from her and I still very much miss her, even though we try our best to talk on Skype at least once a week. Love you, Mashenka!
14. The subject of my highschool graduation presentation in literature was the poetic tools utilized by French Symbolists, and the subject of my master's thesis was translation errors in children's literature on the basis of Polish translations of 'Just Patty' by Jean Webster. I still very much enjoy Symbolist poetry, and my favorite poet is Rainer Maria Rilke. I also still very much like, read and reread children's books. So there.

15. I am by no means an atheltic or physically active person. Although I occasionally hike, play tennis and snowboard with my husband, my preference is to bury myself under a warm blanket with a good book, and maybe stretch my muscles by reaching for the tea mug. From different sporty activities I've tried in my life, dance/cardio classes like Zumba were my favorite, and I also like taking long walks.

16. My feet get cold very easily, which is why I love wearing fuzzy slippers at home and like to buy my winter boots in Poland, where you can get real leather honest-to-God cute boots with an insulating fuzzy on the inside (my newest pair has a sliver of silver on the toe cap and an exposed silver zipper at the back, and they're very high).

17. I have one brother who's older by 5 years and lives in Warsaw, and he's currently starting his own law practice. In terms of looks, none of us took very much after our parents and we don't really look much alike either, but we're always told that we have the same smile. I'll take that because I think my brother has a really cute smile - doesn't he now? I wish I had his blue grey eyes and loose curls too!
18. For a woman with a small-ish frame, I have a pretty good tolerance for alcohol. I've never tested it fully to the point of passing out (and I don't intend to, ever!), but I can hold my liquor without making a complete fool out of myself, be it wine, champagne or vodka. I'm quite sure it's all thanks to my Eastern Slavic genes passed along from my dad's side of the family. All that being said, I very rarely drink any alcohol at all.

19. My Zodiac sign is Virgo, and while I don't take much stock in horoscopes, I have to agree that I share some of the typical characteristics of this sign: I'm more of a rational, analytical thinker that needs to bring order to chaos (or you know, organized to the point of OCD), I'm quite independent, and I like to be precise and reliable in what I do. In the Chinese zodiac, my animal sign is Tiger, which is supposed to be a charming, self-possessed, courageous but rather sensitive and moody personality. I can definitely agree with sensitive and moody, but not so much with the 'charismatic leader' part. Well, Virgo & Tiger is an interesting combo anyway!

20. I like sour foods a whole lot; my favorites include lemonade, freshly squeezed orange juice, raspberries, red currants, kiwis, gooseberries, a bunch of those weird Polish fermented foodstuffs like sauerkraut, dill pickles or sour rye soup (especially zalewajka), and I love things marinated in vinegar, like cornichons, sunomono, wild mushrooms, plums or pears spiced with clove. Yum! (I'm sure half of you is salivating right now, while the other half is seriously grossed out #sorrynotsorry)
Recent Whole Foods acquisition - tastes great in salads.
21. I often can't say my exact age from the top of my head. It's something that started when I was in my early twenties, and when I'm asked about my age, my mind tends to go blank for a second or two - am I twenty-six? Or twenty-eight? Oh right, I'm still twenty-seven. I had always been very aware of my current age when I was a teenager but I guess now it just doesn't matter that much anymore; that, or I'm in denial.

22. For a beauty-obsessed person, I very much dislike having things done in the grooming department; I hate facials because I stress out and hold onto the esthetician's bed for dear life, barely tolerate pedicures because my feet are tickly, object to hair styling because duh, boring. I do like beauty rituals in the safety of my own bathroom though, and I like relaxing in a hot tub or sauna.
Squirrels in Poland are definitely red, with a super fluffy tail and extra tufty ears.
23. My highschool friends nicknamed me Squirrel, or rather Polish variations on the word, like Wiewióra, Wiórcia, Wiórka, Wiórek (the Polish language seems to have almost infinite possibilities for diminutives, which I love) - it was allegedly because of my beady brown eyes and a bushy reddish ponytail. When I was little, I was also called Mysza (mouse) for my small size and buck teeth, and in the family, I've been called different variations of my first name: Monia, Monisia, Nisia, Niśka or even Nizioł (from niziołek, which is Polish for hobbit).
And a surreptitious drawing of a hobbit, from David Day's book.
24. I love me a good comedy TV series, and we have many favorites in the fam: obviously Monty Python, 'Allo 'Allo, Fawlty Towers, Wings, Keeping Up Appearances, As Time Goes By, My Family, and more recently, Frasier. Well, truth being said, I just love a good TV series full stop; on Kate's recommendation, I've just started watching Miss Korea. I'm always on the lookout for new ones to add to my list, so let me know if there's something I absolutely have to watch!

25. Often when I'm thinking hard (or just lost in thought, aimlessly staring into space), I tend to move my feet subconsciously: I wiggle and turn my ankles, rock my leg from knee down, tap my toes on the floor. Funnily enough, my dad and brother do it too, and we jokingly compare it to the leg movements of a chirping cricket (uhm, I stand corrected: apparently crickets chirp by rubbing one wing against the other, not their legs... who knew?).

26. When I was in college, I learnt by way of an experiment at a non verbal communication class that I sometimes intimidate people by staring them down when they're speaking. I was quite confused to learn that anyone at all can find me intimidating, and I don't do it on purpose in the least - I think I just listen a bit too intently to what the other person has to say, and it helps me to understand their meaning better if I can look at them - which is one of the reasons I hate talking on the phone.
I swear I don't mean to stare... or do I? 
27. I enjoy collecting obscure and phonetically interesting words in different languages, like tchotchkes (which comes from Yiddish through Polish!), zarzamora, kerfuffle, Saperlipopette!, małżowina or harapuć. I also have a separate list of interesting town names, especially in Poland: Czachy Kołaki, Krzyczki Żabiczki, Tłustomosty, and obsolete first names: Mściwój,  Krzywosąd, Apollonia, Scholastyka or Melchisadek, Digory, Eulalia, Kerenhappuch. What are your favorites?

28. Speaking of collecting, I had some very interesting collections when I was a child: stickers, pages from cartoon notepads, little toys from Kinder Surprise, stamps, printed napkins, seashells, silver necklace charms, small tins and giftboxes. I'm obviously a collector at heart but I now try to avoid amassing too many things; apart from make-up though, I like buying tea cups, books, scarves and earrings, and we also receive a variety of fridge magnets from our families' travels in Europe and beyond.
Newest addition: a tiny espresso cup, handmade in Bolesławiec
29. I'm more of a dog than a cat person (sorry to all of you cat people out there, I'm allergic!). When I was maybe six or seven, my family adopted an incredibly friendly and energetic Welsh terrier puppy, Dina. She was a bit of a naughty but intelligent dog, and she used to greet me with a wagging tail, jumps and doggy kisses every morning and every time I came home from school. We loved her. She sadly passed away at the venerable age of 14 and she's buried in the woods behind my parents' house.

30. I carry a scale from our Christmas carp fish in my wallet for good luck. Every year, my mum puts some scales aside for us at the request of my dad, who then makes sure they're being carefully stowed away in wallets and purses. I'm not a superstitious person but I regard it more as a family tradition that I'd like to pass along one day.

Gosh darn it, this was hard, you guys - hopefully you're not bored to death now and at least you had a good laugh looking at pictures of me as a kid. I don't usually tag anyone, but I'd love to see some random ramblings from Driveller Kate at drivel about frivol, Bellyhead at Wondegondigo, Liz at Beauty Reductionista and everyone who feels like it. Spill it, ladies!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Lip Crayon Craze: Bourjois Color Boost in Red Sunrise

Just when you thought I couldn't possibly buy any more lip crayons... Oh, the neon bright packaging from an old favorite brand that's unavailable in the States just whispered my name seductively from a 40% off promo display (and those sales never happen in Polish drugstores!), and there was no stopping me. But anyway, look at this beaut: it's the Bourjois Color Boost Lip Crayon in Red Sunrise ($14.80 on
I thought the claims on this lip pencil were quite interesting: 'A new generation formula that provides a bare lip sensation thanks to its light and non-sticky texture. With it silk extract formula, Colour Boost brings comfort and hydration to your lips for 10 hours. Its waterproof colour and SPF 15 make Colour Boost both practical and beautiful'  (from Bourjois website). I believe these crayons are available in six shades, including quite a few punchy options like this Red Sunrise color I purchased.
The Color Boosts are supposed to be more on the sheer side, but I actually found Red Sunrise rather vibrant going on, although it has a thinner, lighter feel than a standard cream lipstick. The crayon has a glossy finish and a slight jelly translucency when swatched on my arm, but you can't really discern that once it's on the lips. It wore comfortably and stayed put reasonably well without drying my lips out. I wouldn't exactly call it waterproof though; it does leave a slight stain behind but it still transfers and wears off in the middle like any other lipstick. I find it less tenacious than Revlon's Just Kissable Balm Stains but also more comfortable/less drying to wear.
Red Sunrise is a very pretty watermelon red shade with some pink tones lurking underneath. I don't really have a red in my collection that's a similar color (yay!): MAC's Viva Glam Cyndi is in the same family, but more muted, while a cool pinkish red like Revlon Super Lustrous in Cherries in the Snow lacks the coral undertones. You can also see that both of these lipsticks have a heavier, waxier formula that's more prone to accentuating skin texture.
L-R: Bourjois Color Boost in Red Sunrise, Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Monte Carlo, fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment in Passion, MAC Viva Glam Cyndi lipstick, Revlon Superlustrous in Cherries in the Snow
I apologize for the poor quality of this lip swatch - the warm, sunny afternoon lighting effectively killed all the pink aspects of this color. On a different note though, I'm wearing the remnants of lash extensions I got done while I was in Poland. My overall thoughts on this experiment is that the extensions can be quite fun and save you some mascara application time in the morning, but overall they're just not my style - I thought they overwhelmed my eye shape, felt too heavy and looked too obviously fake. A couple days ago I got so annoyed with the wonky little buggers, I pulled almost all of them out, and now I'm furiously applying my LiLash, waiting for my own fringe to grow out. Le sigh.
I'm now officially vowing to not buy anymore lip crayons for a good while, even though more brands are still coming out with their versions, especially at the drugstore. Would you be at all interested in a comparison/overview post on the formulas I've tried so far? Because you know, they would look so pretty arranged together in a photo...

Monday, January 20, 2014

Project Make A Dent #1

I've decided to join in the Project Make A Dent fun! This idea to make a concentrated effort to use up a selection of make-up products was started by Lola from lola's secret beauty blog (read her original post here), and so far Gummy from Gummy Vision and Joyce from Bronzer Bunny have jumped on the bandwagon.

I actually try to use a similar principle in my day to day make-up choices; I usually single out specific items to use up and supplement them with other fun varying bits from my collection to avoid make-up boredom. So I've been slowly but surely making a dent in some of these products you see here at least since last year - but still I'd like to monitor my progress more and maybe finally have the satisfaction of completely using up some of these. I've linked my reviews for the products where possible if you'd like to read more about them.
For my base, I have the last 1/3 of Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum left to use up; if I succeed at that in a reasonable amount of time, I'll probably replace it with Face Atelier Ultra Foundation as my next denting victim. I've also selected two blushes, NYX Powder Blush in Angel and NYC Blushable Creme Stick in Plaza Pink, and I'm already feeling a bit worried at how well I'll be able to focus on using them up without completely ignoring my sizeable blusher stash, but hey - it's supposed to be a challenge!

I'd also like to finally use up my Annabelle Smudge Liner in Rich Chocolate; you can see I already have a small stub left, but I've been trying to finish it for a very long time now. Moreover, I want to see how fast I'll be able to hit pan on Annabelle's Eyeshadow in Vanilla Chilla, which now has a nice dip on the side.
Lastly, two lipsticks: Rimmel Moisture Renew in Soft Coral and NYX Round Lipstick in Tea Rose. With both of these, I quite like the shades but dislike the formula; Soft Coral has significant amounts of gritty silver glitters, while Tea Rose covers the lips unevenly, sinking into vertical lines.

All of the products I selected for my Project Make A Dent are older items from my collection that don't get much love anymore, but should be finished so I can move onto newer, better formulas - I guess the perspective of getting brand new pretties is my carrot in this case. I'm giving myself a full year for this project, and I plan to update you on my progress quaterly. Do you have items in your collection that you'd like to finally use up? Join us in the Project Make A Dent fun so we can cheer each other on!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Rosier Cousin to Exposed: Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush in Dazzled

I like to think I have a generous spirit and give products second (and third... and fourth) chances; you know, that, or I just can't stop acquiring things. Anyway, the blush lemming struck again around the Sephora VIB sale season, and I caved in and gave the Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-hour Blushes ($26 for 0.2 oz) another chance; my first shade purchase, Dollface (reviewed here) turned out to be extremely similar to another shade I owned and so went back. This time, I opted for a natural rosey brown hue: Dazzled.
I don't think I need to introduce the product to you or comment on the packaging too much, as I'm pretty sure all of you own at least one of these Amazonian Clay blushes. Well, this post would be completely superfluous if not for the following points: 1) Dazzled seems like a less popular shade, and I wanted to give it a proper shout out, 2) I just can't stop rambling about my new blushy friends. Thank you, I now feel justified.

Oh-oh, gold sparkle alert... (but it looks purdy in the photo!) Worry not, the gold shimmer running through the blush mostly disappears when blended onto the cheeks; I would say the overall finish of Dazzled is satin.
L-R: Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush in Dazzled, Inglot Face Blush no.72, NARS Douceur, NARS Sin, Stila CC in Lillium
Compared to other neutral/ rosey brown blush options in my collection, Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush is the most similar to Stila's Convertible Color in Lillium - Dazzled is maybe a touch cooler, and obviously there's a difference in finish. NARS Sin is deeper, plummier and more shimmery, NARS Douceur is lighter, more brown and flat. Inglot Face Blush no. 72 (dupe of Tarte Dollface) is lighter, cooler, a lot more pink.
Can you spot the Driveller Kate inspired eyeshadow tweak? (Stila In The Moment eyeshadow palette in action here, lips are Revlon Lip Butter in Peach Parfait) I'm so proud of myself, you guyz.
Here it is on my face: the sheen you can see on my cheekbone mostly comes from Hourglass Ambient Powder in Luminous Light (sorry if that's misleading!). I feel that Dazzled is a very user-friedly shade that would be universally flattering on many different skintones - it seems to pull the whole make-up look together, be it cool or warm-toned, or schizophrenically mixed. You don't absolutely have to run out and buy it, but if you're looking for a pretty rose blush, Dazzled is your man.

Have you tried Tarte's Dazzled? What are your favorite Amazonian Clay Blush shades?

Monday, January 13, 2014

January Beauty Detox

Ugh, January blues are striking yet again; I'm sure that after Christmas holidays, I'm not the only one who feels a little nostalgic for all the festive fun we'd had. Well, sad, but also quite overindulged, be it from all the delicious but not too healthy food I've had, or just from burying myself under a woolly blanket for the better part of December.
Generally speaking, December and January also tend to be the most difficult months for my skin and hair; it's probably part travelling, part stressing, part frigid weather + heated rooms. Here's a little edit of detoxifying products I've been reaching for to remedy spots and dehydration.
Starting with some 100% natural beauty products: there are very few things better than bentonite clay and Manuka honey, in combination or separately. I've reviewed this Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay before, so let me just say that I still do use it - sometimes on larger areas, more often just as a spot treatment. I like mixing it with equal parts apple cider and water, and sometimes I add in extras like honey, natural base oils or a drop of an essential oil. Also, if you dislike the pulsating, tightening effect of the product (which does tend to lead to some redness afterwards), just keep misting it with a toner/ water spray so that it doesn't set on your face. I usually alternate the clay with my Manuka honey to avoid excessive dryness - it's great on spots but also dry, cracked lips.
Cleansing is probably the essential part of a successful skin detox, and currently I'm using the Elemental Herbology Purify & Soothe cleansing balm, reviewed here. I feel that this helps to both get rid of every last trace of make-up and sebum but also nourishes the skin at the same time. The massaging action really helps to get the circulation going and effectively buffs away little flakes of dry skin. To further quench my poor abused skin, I like using the Avene Thermal Water spray; one tip to get the most out of this product would be to avoid letting it dry completely on your skin - I like to seal in the moisture by using a moisturizer or an oil when my face is still damp. On mask days when I don't feel like whipping out my whole powder clay mixing kit, I go for Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal mask.
Lastly, little miscellanous beauty bits: my hair tends to get overloaded with product easily, especially when I'm traveling, resulting in limp, oily strands. Every 2-3 weeks, I switch out my regular shampoo for MoroccanOil Clarifying Shampoo to get rid of the build-up and add a boost of volume. If you're looking for a good clarifier, I can safely recommend this one: it's color-safe (no sulfates) and less stripping than regular purifying shampoos as it contains a little bit of argan oil, but still very effective. I'm also currently giving my nails a bit of a break from constant manicures (no A Month in Nail Polish post this January!), and I'll be strengthening with my trusty bottle of original OPI Nail Envy. Lastly, my lips also deserve some much needed pampering, and I've been reaching for the fresh Sugar Lip Treatment SPF15 the most - it's really fantastic, if a bit (a lot!) overpriced.

Are you on a beauty detox right now as well? What is your detoxifying routine?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Winter Flush: Tarte LipSurgence Skintuitive Tint

We're back home in NYC, m'dears! I'm taking a little break from frequent laundry trips, darting out for groceries and other general unpacking to bring you the first make-up review of 2014. I'd been meaning to try Tarte lip products for a very long time, and even before I got the Amazonian Butter Lipstick in Pink Peony, reviewed here, I had trialled this little guy: Tarte LipSurgence Skintuitive Tint in Energy ($24 for 0.1 oz, deluxe sample size in the photo).
The Skintuitive Tint is the same idea as Dior's Lip Glow or Smashbox's O-Gloss - it's a sheer lip color that's supposed to adjust to your lips' pH levels, turning a proprietary shade of pink. I don't really know how much I trust the 'proprietary shade' part; I think these probably look very similar on everyone, with the shade difference having more to do with the natural pigmentation of your lips, as all of these products are more on the sheer side. Anyway, I do like the twist-up crayon packaging for its ease of use on the go, and a slight minty scent of the Tarte version.
In the bullet, the LipSurgence tint is a translucent milky pink. On my arm, it swatches as a light, clear pink, leaning slightly cool. You can see it below compared to some other sheer light pinks that I own; in the arm swatch, it's probably the most similar to the ultra-feminine Revlon Kissable Pink. However, on my lips, the Tarte tint tends to set to a darker, bolder hot pink with a smooth, glossy finish - the effect on the lips is really very fresh and pretty!

L-R: Tarte LipSurgence Skintuitive Tint in Energy, Bobbi Brown High Shimmer Lipgloss in Bellini, NYX Mega Shine in Beige, Revlon Super Lustrous Shine in Kissable Pink, fresh Sugar Treatment in Honey
While I do like the shade of Tarte's Skintuitive Tint, I have a couple gripes with the formula. The LipSurgence range is supposed to be full of lip-nourishing ingredients like plant bionutrients, vitamins and essential oils (uhm, ok, I don't get that last one...), but on my dehydrated lips, it seems very drying. The glossy finish of the crayon disappears within an hour, and while the color lasts (and lasts... and lasts... so that I have some trouble removing it at night), it appears uneven and unattractive. I'm not sure why this LipSurgence crayon and the Amazonian Butter lipstick, both marketed as moisturizing products, don't work for me, but for now I don't really plan more experiments with Tarte's lip products.
Have you tried Tarte's LipSurgence pencils? Do you buy into the 'skintuitive' claims of these type of products?

Friday, January 3, 2014

2014 New Year's Resolutions

Happy 2014! I hope you guys had a lot of fun partying - I certainly enjoyed my old soul's ways of drinking very little, going to bed quite early and having my belly massaged by a wandering cat (hey, I know I'm not alone in this! Don't you laugh now!).
I figured that some New Year's resolutions are de rigueur; well, who am I kidding, I actually enjoy making my resolutions and trying to stick to them throughout the year - my will power is probably the only thing I like to excerise. To be honest though, I haven't made any Earth shattering realizations as of late... for once, I'm quite content with how the things are going here on Rocaille Writes. In 2014, I'd like to continue on the same blogging path, both frequency and quality-wise. In terms of stash-reducing efforts, I think last year's rule of 2 products per month proved to be a doable challenge that's worth sticking to this year as well, and I'll keep on trying to use up my stash and bringing you quaterly empties posts this time.
One thing I would like to work on is including you guys more in my life overall, not just its blogging aspects. You might be surprised to learn that for a blogger, I'm quite a private person and have an innate dislike for public bragging and self-promotion. However, I do feel that oftentimes I'm missing out on getting to know you, my fantastic readers, and the first step to knowing you would actually be to show myself a bit more. So, practically speaking, you can expect a bit more random posts throughout the year 2014, be it tags, photo collages or travel journals. Where possible, I'll also try to show beauty through other angles, bringing you more variety in reviews and make-up looks.

Here's to an amazing and abundant 2014!