Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Recreating the Rouge Bunny Rouge Summer Look with Visée Bitter Brown Quad

To be honest, this post is probably useful for just about no one, since the star of this Rouge Bunny Rouge-inspired eye look is a Japanese Limited Edition Kosé Visée feat. SmackyGlam eyeshadow quad that's no longer available - no, not even on eBay. I could of course extrapolate and say that today's post is about taking inspiration from current trends and recreating a make-up look with what you already have without needing to purchase anything new; blah blah blah. I don't know. I had numerous ideas on how to feature this look, but in the end it boils down to this: I very much like the Rouge Bunny Rouge Summer 2014 look, called Chance. I also very much enjoy using the Visée BR-7 Bitter Brown quad, which was a gift from the one and only Belly. So, here are the two together. I hope you like.
A simple make-up look featuring a cobalt blue eyeliner in an otherwise neutral color palette makes me a very happy camper. Cobalt blue (or ultramarine, however you prefer to call that) is my favorite color; and as a bonus, it looks good on my fair cool skintone, AND makes my dark brown eyes stand out. The hint of vibrant blue paired with gleaming golden browns is a perfect summer eye combination.
Here's what I picked from my stash to recreate the Rouge Bunny Rouge Chance: for the eyes, I used Maybelline Color Tattoo in Barely Beige as a base and inner corner highlight, the golden brown from the Visée Bitter Brown quad on the lid, blended up into the crease and along the lower lashline, the dark shimmery brown smudged along the upper lashline.
I lined my upper waterline and inner corner with the Sephora Nano Eyeliner pencil in Azur Blue, and applied Benefit BadGal Lash mascara in black. On the cheeks, I'm wearing Too Faced Milk Chocolate Soleil bronzer and bareMinerals Ready Blush in The One, on my lips I have the Revlon Lip Butter in Peach Parfait. The base is my standard Estee Lauder Double Wear Light set with MUFE HD Powder.
L-R: Four shades in the Visée Bitter Brown quad, Sephora Nano Eyeliner Pencil in Azur Blue, Maybelline Color Tattoo in Barely Beige, bareMinerals Ready Blush in The One, Revlon Peach Parfait Lip Butter
Even though I have not used all the shades in the Visée Bitter Brown in this look, I'll still offer up my thoughts on the formula, and my general usage of the quad. All four of these eyeshadows can be called shimmery, however each has a different finish: the pinky white is a mostly gold glitter (with some silver, light blue and baby pink flecks as well), the peach is shimmery with small flecks of golden glitter, the golden brown has a regular pearl/frost finish, while the dark brown is almost a satin. The textural variety in the Bitter Brown quad allows for some more interesting but still neutral looks, and the formula of the shadows is smooth, creamy and pigmented. If you like glitter and shimmer on the eyes, the Bitter Brown quad is perfect - although even for a shimmerphile like me, using all four at the same time without any mattes is a bit of an overkill.
 What has been your favorite look this summer? Have you ever tried any eyeshadows from Visée?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Pastel Peach: The Face Shop Coral Cushion Blusher

You've probably figured it all out by now: I live for peach shades on cheeks and lips. Not that I don't like a fresh pink on the cheek, or a vampy red lip - but peaches, you can never go wrong. Summer, winter, day wear, evening wear; when in doubt, go for the peach. So please excuse me while I revel in the cuteness of the newest peach in my stash, The Face Shop Lovely ME:EX Pastel Cushion Blusher in 02 Coral Cushion (~$6 for 0.17 oz/5g).
How adorable is this packaging?! Yes, a mini fluffy powder puff instantly makes a product that much more exciting. As you can see, the blush comes in a cardboard box with a puff resting on a little plastic film insert, which I removed to avoid the glare in photos. As adorable as the puff might be, I don't actually use it to apply the blush - I prefer the precision of a cheek brush, and disliked the idea of getting the puff dirty, but it's definitely an option when you're on the go.
Now, as for the 'cushion' part: The Face Shop Pastel Cushion Blusher is just a standard, pressed powder blush, nothing like the currently popular BB Cushion compacts - which, if you've never heard of them, are liquid foundations in a compact equipped with a saturated sponge that you press down with an applicator sponge to dispense the product. So the name of The Face Shop blush is definitely quite misleading; it seems that the brand is simply trying to take advantage of the 'cushion' trend to sell more.
Clockwise, starting with The Face Shop Coral Cushion Blusher: NYC Blushable Creme Stick in Plaza Pink, Laura Mercier Lotus Pink, NYX Powder Blush in Peach, Laura Mercier Lush Nectarine
In terms of the Pastel Cushion formula, the blush feels smooth and silky in the pan and it's quite tightly packed/ doesn't kick up any powder. There's a slight fragrance to it in the packaging, but it doesn't linger on the skin. It blends evenly on the cheeks, doesn't emphasize any texture, and lasts quite well on me - although mind you, most powders as well as creams wear fine on my cheeks.
L-R: The Face Shop Coral Cushion, NYC Blushable Creme Stick in Plaza Pink, Laura Mercier Lotus Pink, NYX Powder Blush in Peach, Laura Mercier Lush Nectarine
My gripe with The Face Shop Cushion Blusher is the level of pigmentation; the Coral Cushion is very, very sheer, and what appears to be a medium depth pinky peach shade in the pan swatches as a very light peach on the skin - the above swatch was about five layers of the product. It barely shows up even on my fair skin, and requires a lot of building up on the cheeks, although the final result is in fact a subtle, luminous flush that instantly brightens up the face. In the pan, Coral Cushion has some fine pearl running through the powder, but on the skin it has a glowy satin finish.
Base: Bobbi Brown Natural Finish Long-Wearing Foundation in Porcelain (discontinued) set with MUFE HD Powder, Eyes: Clinique Chubby Stick in Ample Amber on the lid with Laura Mercier Caviar Stick in Sugar Frost on the inner corners and lower lashline, Benefit BadGal mascara, Lips: Essence Stay With Me Lip Gloss in Candy Bar
All in all, I wouldn't exactly recommend you run out and buy The Face Shop Pastel Cushion Blushers - from reading other reviews online, it seems that all shades are very light and sheer. I quite enjoy using the Coral Cushion when I have some time to faff around with multiple layers, but I think for darker skintones, it could merely serve as a very subtle highlight. Have you tried any make-up from The Face Shop? What are your thoughts on the whole 'cushion' trend?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Top 10 Beauty Products Under $6

Yeah yeah, I know - six dollars is kind of a random price. Why not good ol' five bucks? Because, my dear smartypants, kindly observe that there's some sort of beauty product pricing policy in place that makes brands always charge just a little bit over $5; like maybe in our make-up obsessed minds, $5.99 is actually close to five bucks, so we happily spend the extra $1?! I  don't know - I don't make the rules. Under six dollars it is. So, in no particular order:
1. INM Out The Door Fast Drying Topcoat ($4.95 for 0.5 fl. oz/15 ml) I've used Seche Vite, I've used Sally Hansen, Essie, OPI - I really tried my fair share, and Out The Door is the only one I've repurchased. Mostly, because it's inexpensive and works just as well as the rest - and gets gloopy slightly less quickly than the others. I could always find it in Bartell's Drugs in WA, but haven't tracked it down yet in NY; you could always order online, especially that Amazon has some giant sizes of this for much less per ounce.
2. Epic Blend Hemp Lip Balm in Coconut* ($3.49 for 0.15 oz /4.2g) I hadn't used stick lip balms in a while, but they're an absolute make-up bag essential - and you can't go wrong with the mineral oil- and paraben-free Epic Blend Lip Balms. I was sent the entire range of 12 balms to try, and from the three varieties they offer (Hemp, Vegan and More Moisture) the Hemp ones were my favorite, especially the Coconut and Vanilla scents - yum. I find that the Hemp range applies easily on the lips but has a slightly heavier consistency than the Vegan and More Moisture balms, which makes them last better on my dry lips. My mom's favorite was the More Moisture Lip Balm in Grape, which she liked for its lightweight, non greasy feel.

3. Essence Stay With Me Long Lasting Lip Gloss in Candy Bar ($2.99 for 0.13 fl. oz/ 4 ml, swatched and reviewed here). I still really, really like this lip gloss, and Candy Bar is such a beautiful coral shade. It's almost hard to believe that you can make such a great gloss for such a low price - and I actually can't believe how come they don't come in a huge variety of shades... I'm actually slightly worried that it's no longer available on Ulta's website - has anyone heard any rumors?
4. Fyrinnae Eye Shadow Minis ($2.25 per sample 1/3tsp, my notes on pressing and swatches here). Did I mention that not all my inexpensive finds are from the drugstore? Because sometimes you  need to go on a quest to find the really good ones - well, not really a quest, more like just shopping online. I've pressed my Fyrinnae loose eyeshadow samples into these dinky pans, and now I use them every time I do my make-up: their neutrals are so unique, the brights wonderfully complex, and the glitters... Oh, the glitters.

5. Yaby Eyeshadow Refills ($3.15 for 3g). Speaking of dinky eyeshadow pans, I also really enjoy using my Yaby eyeshadows in Antique and Pottery, swatched and reviewed here. So if you have an aversion to pressing pigments and can't deal with the little jars of Fyrinnae shadows, these Yaby ones are another great option - and they also have a good variety of neutral mattes.
6. Orly Mani Mini Nail Polishes ($3 for 0.18 fl. oz/5.7 ml). It seems like that these nail polish minis from Orly may not be the easiest to get hold of, but if you see some, grab a shade or two - they're the regular awesome Orly formula, just in a smaller size bottle that you may hope to actually use up in your lifetime. My most used shades are the rose gold Rage, a China Glaze Ruby Pumps dupe called Star Spangled, and a pastel mint Gumdrop. If only more nail polish brands jumped on board the mini size train!
7. Wet n'Wild Color Icon Eyeshadow Trios ($2.99 for 0.12 oz) Nope, no inexpensive finds round-up can be complete without some Wet n'Wild eyeshadow love. I've depotted mine into a handy-dandy magnetized palette that makes them even easier to use, and as you can see from the state of these pans, they're well loved. Seriously, if you don't have the budget to buy shadows from high-end brands, these are very, very good for the price, and come in a wide range of neutral and bright shades in shimmery and matte finishes. I still remember the thrill of tracking down their Limited Editions...

8. NYX Powder Blushes ($5 for 0.14 oz/4g; Mauve is the shade pictured in the first photo). My NYX blush swatchathon is still one of my most popular posts on the blog, and we all know why: NYX Powder Blushes are a drugstore classic. You know, sometimes you get caught up in the product hype and later regret buying multiple shades of something, but I've never regretted building my collection of NYX blushes - I still reach for them all the time.
9. EcoTools Flat Eyeliner Brush ($5.29 ea; it seems the new version of this brush on EcoTools website has a different shape, but you should still be able to find the older one as well). This was the first EcoTools brush I ever bought, and it started my love for the brand; I always have at least a couple of their brushes in my everyday rotation. This is a very straightfoward brush, but I find the bristles just right for defining my eyebrows or lining my lashline with powders. I believe I've had mine for close to five years now, and it's still just as good as the day I bought it.

10. Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge ($5.99 ea) Finishing strong with the tools, you guys. I've devoted a whole post to my review and demo of this bright orange sponge, so I won't repeat myself too much, apart from reiterating that you need it - and after trying the famous Beautyblender, I confirm that there's no reason to shell out nearly four times the price for one (also, my BB sponge still leaks that neon pink dye! Grrrr). The Real Techniques sponge is perfect for making higher coverage foundations blend seamlessly into the skin. It also looks fun :)

If you still can't get enough of these inexpensive beauty finds, you can check out my Top 10 Drugstore Make-up Favorites - there are some repeat products, but I've tried to avoid too much overlap. What are your favorite beauty buys for under six bucks?

*Disclaimer: Product marked with an asterix (*) is a PR sample I received free of charge for review consideration. All links are non-affiliate. All opinions are 100% honest and unbiased, no matter if the products featured were purchased with my own monies or provided as press samples. Thank you for reading!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Korean Sheet Masks: Etude House Collagen Essence & White Pearl

Just a quickie today; as you may know from a previous post, I'd recently become a very happy hoarder of various Asian sheet masks *gives the squishy packets a quick hug*. However, I realize that just hoarding isn't very helpful for you guys, so I've decided to start using them, and give you a quick rundown of my thoughts, organized per brand. First off: Etude House.
The Collagen Essence Mask (under $2 per mask, 0.67 fl. oz/20 ml of essence, on eBay or Amazon + shipping) is a firming mask, and the ingredients include glycerin, hydrolyzed collagen, rosemary leaf extract, hyaluronic acid, soothing betaine and antioxidant arginine.Unfortunately, this mask also contains alcohol - and if your skin is sensitive, you can definitely feel some stinging after application. It has a pleasant, slightly sharp floral scent, and enough essence in the pouch to last two applications. Both of the Etude House masks are made of quite thin but resistant paper and come without the plastic backing, but are easy to smooth over the face - I just find that the shape of the nose area definitely does not fit my rather pronounced nose :)
Anyway, the Collagen Essence Mask was not my favorite: it didn't seem all that moisturizing, felt a bit uncomfortable on because of the stinging, and my skin felt incredibly sticky after I removed it, and the stickiness would not go away; so much so that I ended up washing it off after about an hour. Interestingly enough, Etude House makes two more Collagen sheet masks: one in the Moistfull (sic!) range, and one in the Alphabet range, which the White Pearl mask is also a part of.

The White Pearl Sheet Mask from the I Need You!/ Alphabet range (under $2 per mask, usually sold in three packs on eBay) is brightening, and contains pearl extract, arginine, glycerin and natural extracts of Indian lotus and Chinese plum. This mask had a fresh soapy scent to it, and it was satured enough for me to able to use it twice - although the second time it started drying out a bit as I was wearing it. Now, I definitely noticed some results after using the White Pearl mask: my face felt cool, soothed and hydrated, and it calmed down redness and irritation, making my skin look more even. For the price, I give it a big thumbs up - and now I really want to try other masks in the Alphabet line, because really - how cute! Elder Flower, Fig and Mango sound especially appealing :)

Have you tried any sheet masks from Etude House? What are your favorites, and where do you usually order yours from?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Underwhelmed: Too Faced Melted Lipstick in Melted Peony

Liquid lipsticks seem to be all the rage these days - I still remember the first liquid lipstick I've ever tried, and actually wore to my middle school prom at the tender age of 15. It was a rusty brown Avon number that I nicked from my mum, and the shade was so, so wrong on me, but I felt all grown-up and glamorous applying it. Oh the memories...
So when the liquid lipstick trend rolled back towards the end of last year, I thought that a) I must be getting on in years if I can already observe recurring beauty trends, b) it's quite cool to see brands release new products, but I don't really care if my lipstick is solid, or liquid, or gaseous - although that last one would be kind of awesome. That being said, when I received an email offer from for a free sample of Too Faced Melted Liquified Long Wear Lipstick in Melted Peony ($21 for 0.4 oz) with a purchase, I didn't exactly resist taking advantage of it.
The deluxe sample comes in a smaller version of the full-size packaging, which is a squeezy tube with a sponge tip applicator, much like the Clarins Lip Perfector glosses. There are five little holes in the applicator, wherein the product oozes out - I find it quite easy to control the amount this way, although the packaging gets quite messy in the process; definitely not an OCD-approved design. There's some raspberry candy (Mamba fruit chews?) type of scent to the product, but it doesn't linger too long on the lips.
The actual formula of the Too Faced Melted lipstick isn't very thick and it feels quite creamy with a bit of slip, and very little stickiness. It applies easily and evenly on the lips, and it has a standard cream finish right off the bat, just like your regular lipstick would have. So far so good.
My issues with this liquid lipstick start as soon as I'm done applying. I simply find the texture of Too Faced Melted really, really unflattering on the lips. While I can get an even layer of product that doesn't cling to dry patches too badly, the lipstick just sits heavily on the lips, exaggerating every little lip line I have, and some that I didn't even know existed - I hope you can see this in the close-up shot (and please excuse the upper lip peach fuzz). I actually find this texture very similar to the cheaper than chips NYX Round lipsticks that I now wish I'd never purchased.
In terms of wear, the Too Faced Melted Lipstick lasts okay when left alone, but drinking or, heavens forbid, an actual meal, obliterates it within minutes - again, pretty much exactly what you could expect from any mediocre lipstick. It also does not wear comfortably; my lips start feeling tight and dry pretty much right away, and are in a state of an absolute mess when I finally can't stand it no more and decide to remove the dastardly thing from my face. Why so dry?!
The shade I have (Melted Peony) also doesn't help the texture issue. On my arm, it swatches nicely enough along some of my My Lips But Better nude pink shades - it's not as brown but still quite warm, and it has a pretty vibrancy to it. On my lips however, the white base in this shade becomes a lot more apparent, and to my eyes, looks borderline pornstar pink. It's almost that universally abhorred concealer lip, just in light pink instead of beige.
L-R: Too Faced Melted Peony, NYX Tea Rose, Maybelline Color Sensational in Warm Me Up, Revlon Lip Butter in Berry Smoothie
I really wish cosmetic companies spent more time perfecting their textures and bringing out truly innovative products, instead of just going with a new gimmicky format - look, it's melted! Yeah, that's also what happens to any old lipstick if you leave it in a really hot space, Too Faced. I'm sorry, but melting a lipstick is definitely not enough to hold my attention these days. NEXT!
Have you tried any of the new liquid lipstick formulas? Are they all same old, same old, or have you found some favorites?

PS. In case you're (still) interested in giving the Too Faced Melted lipstick formula a try, there's currently a promo on Sephora for a free Melted Peony mini with $25 purchase - the code is LIPMINI.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Cult Classics: Emma Hardie Amazing Face Moringa Cleansing Balm

If there was one stellar example of a product that was launched from nothingness into the spotlight by a beauty blogger, it would be the Emma Hardie Amazing Face Natural Lift & Sculpt Moringa Cleansing Balm ($63 for 100ml, available on with free worldwide delivery), recommended so often and for so long by Caroline Hirons that I did absolutely cave myself, even if it meant ordering from the UK. This post also offers a glimpse into my crazy hoarding habits: I believe I orderded this two years ago during Christmas, which I was spending in Poland, and then when it didn't arrive in time to be packed for our return trip to the US, I picked it up a year later and took it home - at which point I still didn't crack it open, because I had other things that needed finishing. But now... at long last... it's all mine to enjoy!!!
First off, a rant - I really dislike the packaging. I believe the design has been slightly altered since I got my pot, but it doesn't change the fact that using it is simply a pain in the backside. Sure, it looks luxurious with the double layer of plastic and has a nice heft to it; which would also make it a nightmare to travel with. But more than that, the product is a BALM - and surprise surprise, balms melt in warm weather - and then the oil seeps in between the layers of plastic, kind of ruining the luxurious effect. The product also comes with a plastic stopper/lid which I can never properly fit onto the opening of the tub, causing the oils gathered on top to ooze out the sides; oh, and I also CANNOT screw on the lid properly. I don't believe it's just a sudden deteroriation in my motor skills, although husband claims my dexterity only extends to being able to walk straight on a sidewalk and chew gum at the same time... anyway, eff that stupid jar. I hate it.
I'm only putting up with the idiotic packaging because the product inside is so LOVELY. The texture of the Emma Hardie Cleansing Balm is soft and very smooth - a lot smoother than the other cleansing balm I'd been using, the Elemental Herbology Purify & Soothe (although this brand actually managed to figure their packaging out). It melts and spreads on the skin very easily, and even more importantly, when removed with my standard hot cloth, leaves absolutely no residue, just soft, clean, nourished skin. I can tell the Emma Hardie balm is much easier to remove and lighter than the Elemental Herbology even when I rinse my oiled palms under the tap - it just comes off right away, which balm/oil products rarely do in contact with water. For this reason, I think the Moringa Cleansing Balm would be a great gateway cleansing balm for a balm cleansers' beginner.
I mainly use the Emma Hardie balm as my second cleanser on make-up wearing days; I prefer to first remove the slap with a cleansing oil and then nourish the skin with the Emma Hardie; I also use it as an only cleanser on make-up free days, or in the mornings. I absolutely do not find it too rich or heavy for morning use; in fact, I think it leaves my skin refreshed and prepped for make-up application. I actually disregard the instructions, which tell you to emulsify the product with water in your hands before applying - I just go straight in with the balm on a dry face, massage it in, concentrating on congested areas, and then remove with a damp hot cloth. Voila!
One other important thing to mention is that the Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm smells absolutely divine - like jasmin and mandarin oranges, which makes the cleansing process so much more enjoyable. There's quite a lot of essential oils in this formula, and even though citrus essential oils often irritate my sensitive skin, I have no issues with the product, and get very minimal redness when I cleanse with it - more so from the hot water and facial massage than the actual balm.

So yes, I'm happily joining the gazillion other beauty bloggers who rave about the Emma Hardie Cleansing Balm - it's just really, really good. I do wish it was easier to get hold of outside of the UK, and the price point was lower - but I can't help loving it. Definitely worth the splurge (although knowing myself, I'll try something cheaper/ more easily accessible once I'm finished with my jar - which won't be for a long time, hopefully).

Have you tried this cult cleansing balm? What is your current favorite cleanser?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

My Summer-Proof Make-up Routine

You know how everyone bitches about their make-up melting, smudging and smearing all over in the summer heat and humidity? I never used to get that; sure, I'd slightly adjust my products for summer, opting for easier, more lightweight formulas and brighter shades, but I wasn't terribly bothered. Yeah... and then I moved to New York - and now I really get it. So here's a quick rundown of make-up bits I've been using recently, with a very simple look at the end, in case you're looking for some everyday summer face inspiration.
First off, base products. I don't think I've ever reviewed Estee Lauder Double Wear Light Stay-in-Place Make-up ($37 for 1 oz) on the blog (the shade I have is Intensity 1; I would have preferred to have 0.5, but 1 works in the summer), and I had actually neglected it for a long time - which is a shame, because it's a beautiful base for summer. The coverage is definitely on the light side, but can be built up to medium - though I prefer to do a thin layer all over the face and then spot conceal my scars/blemishes. When used over a more emollient moisturizer, it blends out seamlessly with a buffing brush, and retains quite a dewy finish, without pooling in the pores or fine lines. And you guys, this thing lasts - I sure do get a little shiny/sweaty in my T-zone as the day goes on, but Double Wear Light never goes patchy or slides off the face, which I consider a big accomplishment.

Also previously not mentioned on the blog, NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Chantilly ($29 for 0.22 oz) is my weapon of choice for masking any imperfections. It's seriously pigmented, and long-lasting; it blends out very easily when applied on the skin, but after a moment, sets and doesn't move around, which is especially important for concealing blemishes. My preferred application method is to apply a bit on the back of my hand, and then use a separate brush to pick up product and dot it around the face, which I then blend out with my fingers for a thin, invisible layer - a bit labor-intense process, but I find that applying it on the face straight from the wand globs on way too much product. To be perfectly honest, for my under eye area I still prefer to use the Bobbi Brown Corrector - but the NARS will do in a pinch. In terms of shade selection, Chantilly, the lightest shade in the range, looks very, very fair in the tube - though it does oxidize a bit darker on the skin and matches my skintone quite well in the end.

As you can see, no primers included in the line-up, however I do experiment with face primers here and there, and sometimes even spritz my face with Skindinavia No More Shine Make-up Finish (reviewed here) - but I don't find those added products do anything in making my base last any longer. The only primer I reach for every time I do my make-up is NARS Pro-Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base - my eyeshadows never crease when I use it, and my eye make-up stays intact for an entire day.
Speaking of eyes, I have less patience for elaborate eyeshadow looks in the summer - and I also like a bit of color. Enter some waterproof eyeliner pencils; my long-standing favorites are NYX  Slide-ons (reviewed and swatched here) as well as Sephora Contour Eye Pencils 12HR Wear (reviewed and swatched here). Most often, I use them to line my upper lashline for a subtle cat eye, but I also enjoy using the darker shades to tightline, or wearing the lighter shades in the bottom waterline. In the face shots below, I attempted a gradient flick with NYX Esmeralda on the inner half and Sephora Surfer Babe on the outer part, with some matte shadows on the lid for more definition - but overall, I keep things very quick and easy.

Now, I've been experiencing more mascara fails recently than I care to admit - one big drawback of having long lashes (and not a lot of lid space) is that my mascara-ed lashes now touch my brow bone, and most mascaras transfer within the first 15 minutes of doing my make-up. Which is why I busted out a deluxe sample tube of Anastasia Lash Genius Clear Waterproof Topcoat ($21 for 0.19 oz)- I didn't really have high hopes for this, but you guys, it's pretty brilliant. The brush on the Lash Genius is a standard wiry type with lots of bristles, which makes distributing the product on top of mascara a breeze, and there's no weird residue or globs visible on the lashes - it looks like it's not even there. Oh, but it works - no browbone transfer, no smudging, no flaking, and at the end of the day, it comes off easily with a cleansing oil. Big thumbs up!

For lips and cheeks, I honestly switch things up a lot, but I thought I'd show you some products I haven't featured in a while. Inglot AMC Cream Blush no. 88 ($12 for 5.5g/ 0.19 oz) is always my go-to in the summer: the neutral rosey brown hue goes well with both warm and cool-toned looks, and the satin/matte finish stays put thoughout the day. And you guys know I love bright shades on the lips: the Bourjois Color Boost Lip Crayon in Red Sunrise (reviewed here) claims to be waterproof, and I have to admit that it does wear quite well throughout the day, but not as long as Beaute's Liqui-Gel Stain in Flouron (VERY recently reviewed here, lol), or other lip stains in my collection. But in the end, I don't really mind reapplying lip products, so I rotate my choices daily.
Here's what these products look like on the face: I also used the pencil end of Revlon Brow Fantasy through my brows (rant here), and set my T-zone with Make Up For Ever HD Powder. Very simple, but with some fun, brighter colors. If you're interested to see which staple products I was using in my last everyday summer make-up routine, click here.

How do you switch up your make-up routine for the summer? Do you reach for more waterproof and long-lasting formulas, or use different shades?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Loving the Orange Lip: Revlon Colorburst Matte Balm in Audacious

I know, I know, by now Revlon Matte Balms are old news - but it takes me a while to decide whether to jump or not on a particular product bandwagon. I mentioned a couple months back, while extolling the orangy red virtues of OPI Red Lights Ahead... Where? nail polish, that was interested in trying a similar shade on my lips, even though warm reds rarely look good on my skintone. So yeah, I really went there - instead of trying an orange red, I actually decided to try a pure bright orange in a matte formula: Revlon Colorburst Matte Balm in the shade Audacious ($8.99 for 0.09 oz/ 2.5g). Because I'm not a lipstick wuss. Also, I figured that if it was a complete shade fail, at least it'd been at a drugstore price point.
But a fail it's definitely not - in fact, it's pretty fantastic, and I'm just slightly obsessed with Audacious. Gimme all the ORANGE! I think the reason this looks so audaciously bright (har har) on my fair cool skin is the shade's white base, which gives it a more neon appearance. Muted, brown-based oranges on me? A complete flop. Vibrant, white-based or clear almost fluorescent orange shades? Sign me up.
Compared to my other orangey lip products, Revlon's Audacious is the most decidedly orange - Giorgio Armani Rouge d'Armani Sheers in 301 gives just a hint of peachy orange on the lips, recently reviewed Beaute Liqui-gel Stain in Flouron is a lot more pink (and neon!), while Chanel Rouge Allure in Conquise has a more muted, rosey quality. Beaute's Flouron is the only other matte in this line-up, but because of its creamy gel stain formula, it sinks into the lips and wears a lot more closely than Revlon's heavier, more traditional matte lipstick formula; as you can see in the arm swatch, the textures are quite a bit different.

L-R: Revlon Colorburst Matte Balm in Audacious, Giorgio Armani Rouge d'Armani Sheers in 301, Beaute Liqui-Gel Stain in Flouron, Chanel Rouge Allure in Conquise
Speaking of textures, I usually detest mattes and try to avoid them in my lip products, but the Colorburst Mattes are surprisingly quite good. They're even more matte in finish than Givenchy Le Rouge, another matte-ish lipstick I tolerate; I'd say Revlon walks the line between very matte and chalky, but manages to stay on the good, wearable side. The matte finish aside, the Revlon's Balm has a creamy feel with a lot of slip (no dragging!) for easy application, and after a couple minutes seems to set a bit on the lips, which means no accidental color migration and good longevity. There's quite a bit of a refreshing mint scent to the product, which makes it tingle very slightly for a couple minutes after application - a welcome bonus in the summer heat.
Similarly to their Kissable Balm Stains (which are another favorite of mine), the Matte Balm wears very comfortably on the lips, and while it's not moisturizing enough on its own on my dry lips, it doesn't suck out all the moisture either. I would however recommend prepping your lips before applying the Matte Balm (exfoliating, a thin layer of lip balm), as it seems to go a little patchy around dry flakes or other areas that are still healing. But I think Audacious is worth the extra effort - I just really love this shade, and taking the size of my lip product collection into account, it's quite a surprising discovery.

Are you loving the orange lip trend as well? What are your orange lip favorites?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Japanese Jellies: Canmake Cream Cheek Blushes in CL03 and CL04

Another beauty blogging pals inspired acquisition - I'd been lemming these Canmake Cream Cheek blushes for months (around $10-12 on eBay), so when Jenni from Life and Lens of Beauty offered to pick up some Asian make-up bits and smuggle them in her suitcase for me, I was pretty ecstatic. On that note: 1) Blogging is such a solitary hobby that I often forget people actually read me, and I'm always beyond surprised to learn some people read me in faraway places, like... Hong Kong!, 2) Jenni was incredibly generous and brought a LOT of things for me to try, including candy *evil cackle*, 3) As a result, expect a slew of Asian beauty product reviews - also because Kar Yi showed me around Asian beauty stores in Flushing, Queens, and inevitably, shopping ensued.
Now that we have the most random intro in the history of blogging out of the way, let's focus on the jellies. The main reason I really wanted to try these Canmake cream blushes (besides the adorable dinky packaging; note that the silver motif on the lid and the shape of the clasp are different on the two shades) was the formula/finish: a squishy, shimmer-free jelly. Now, the Canmake Cream Cheek blushes come in two shade ranges: regular (labelled with numbers only) and clear (labelled as CL + number). I have two shades from the Clear range to show you: CL03, Clear Orange and CL04, Clear Pink Joy - I suspect the finish on the blushes from the regular range differs, but I haven't personally tried any.
Apart from the product name and the shade, I have no idea what the labels say about the product - but if you speak Japanese, feel free to pitch in. The blush compacts are small and made of lightweight clear plastic - they do feel slightly flimsy, so I wouldn't bash them around too much for fear of breaking the hinges or something, but I do like that you can easily see the shade within, and the size is very portable.
Now, I understand that if you've never tried any make-up or nail polishes with a jelly finish, it may sound pretty confusing. Jelly shades are vibrant, clear, transparent colors with a glossy or glowy finish - they go on the skin slightly sheer but provide a bright pop of color. What I mean by 'clear' is that there's no white base mixed into these, and formula allows for both a light veil of color, or can be layered for more opacity and shade depth. I hope that the comparison swatches below show the difference more clearly! *pun not intended*
L-R: Canmake CL03 swatched heavily and blended out, Canmake CL04 heavy & blended out
In terms of texture, Canmake Cream Cheek blushes are quite a solid gel/cream in the pan, but melt when rubbed with the fingers and transfer on the skin very easily. Both shades I have are very blendable; my favorite application method is to pick up some product with my fingers, dot it on the skin, and then blend out with a small stippling brush. The finish is dewy, but the blush doesn't feel heavy or sticky on the skin, and lasts all day on me without losing its pretty glow.
Clear Orange CL03 is a somewhat reddish orange on me, or what I'd call a ruddy peach. The tone is quite similar to Face Atelier Facade in Arabesque, although the latter is more muted (due to the white base), and the finish differs significantly as well - the Facades are a smooth matte formula. As you can see, both Laura Mercier Lush Nectarine and NYC Blushable Creme Stick in Plaza Pink are lighter, and achieve the glowy finish by the addition of shimmer particles: gold in Lush Nectarine's case, white pearl for Plaza Pink.
L-R: Canmake Cream Cheek CL03, Face Atelier Facade in Arabesque, Laura Mercier Lush Nectarine, NYC Blushable Creme Stick in Plaza Pink
 Clear Pink Joy CL04 is a medium warm pink. I pulled out my most vibrant pink blushes to compare the shades, but both Revlon PhotoReady Cream Blush in Flushed and NYX Powder Blush in Pinky are definitely cooler, with Pinky leaning almost lavender - and both have some of that white base. Stila Convertible Color in Blushing is significantly more muted and leans mauve, and sits heavier on the skin than the Canmake formula.
L-R: Canmake Cream Cheek in CL04, NYC Powder Blush in Pinky, Revlon PhotoReady Cream Blush in Flushed, Stila Convertible Color in Blushing
Here are the two Canmake Cream Cheek blushes swatched on my cheeks. The lighting in both photos is a bit different, but I hope that you can see that Clear Orange gives a warm, peachy hue to my skin, while Clear Pink Joy has that naturally flushed look to it that compliments my cool skintone rather well, if I dare say so myself. I do think that both shades are very wearable, and should suit a wide range of complexions - the undertones are very well balanced and pull neither too warm or too cool. I'm wearing Estee Lauder Double Wear Light foundation in both photos, and the blue lashline experiment on the left was done with Fyrinnae London Mod eyeshadow and Urban Decay 24/7 pencil liner in Electric.
So yes, I'm slightly obsessed with these Canmake cream blushes, and now I really want the red shade, Clear Red Heart. My blogging pals were right - they're fabulous, and the jelly finish, while quite popular in Japan, is very hard to procure among the Western brands. For more swatches and raves about Canmake Clear blushes, check out Driveller Kate's review here, and Haru at Rouge Deluxe swatches them here. Have you tried these, or any other Canmake products?