Friday, October 31, 2014

'Stay sane inside insanity...' Rocky Horror Picture Show Collaboration

'I said hey listen to me. Stay sane inside insanity, but he locked the door and threw away the key.' - Columbia, Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

Happy Halloween, my dears!!! I hope you're having fun gallivanting around in your fantastic costumes (who did you go as? Please share in the comments!) while me and husband are stuffing ourselves with take-out sushi and watching a movie on Netflix - yes, you guessed correctly, we're not that into dress-up parties. But I do love theatrical Halloween make-up, and my blogging pal Liz from So Lonely In Gorgeous suggested we transform ourselves into characters from the cult movie Rocky Horror Picture Show for the occasion. Here's the result of my efforts:
Something a bit different after all these boring neutral FOTDs I've been posting, huh? :) I also thought it would be fun to take a few shots of the process - it did take me an inordinate amount of time to complete my look as it was my first time attempting to erase my eyebrows. Well, lots of swearing, fallen brow hairs and half a glue stick later, I think the result is quite decent for my first try.
While I was changing myself into Columbia, I reflected that it's generally a very convincing look for fair-skinned redheads, and I know there's a fair number of you reading this blog; so maybe a costume idea for next year's Halloween party? I decided to skip a full product breakdown for you, but I will say that Graftobian Hi-Def foundation in Buff made my life a whole lot easier for this look. I've also used La Femme blush in Mocha for the cheeks and MAC's Cockney lipstick (interestingly enough, my wedding lipstick shade).

Please check out Liz's take on Magenta - I, for one, can't wait to see her transformation.

Don't Dream It, Be It!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

From the Enchanted Garden: Rouge Bunny Rouge Eye Shadow Palette in Chronos

Oh, Rouge Bunny Rouge Raw Garden Eye Shadow Palette in Chronos ($59 for 0.355 oz/10 g, available on in the US), you're a thing of beauty. I included a little teaser about this Limited Edition palette in the Fall 2014 Beauty Wishlist post and some readers were interested in my thoughts on it, so I'm trying to be good and churn out my review before the product actually sells out. And yes, that did happen in the past. I still went ahead and posted about a discontinued product. Ahem. Moving on.
The Raw Garden Eye Shadow Palette in Chronos features five all new shades in a plastic compact. The product comes packaged in a cardboard box, which mirrors the flowers & hummingbirds design of the top of the compact. Now, the fact that this first ever eyeshadow palette from Rouge Bunny Rouge seems to have an actual shade name (Chronos) vaguely suggests that maybe there are other colorways in the works; pretty please, RBR?
The most amazing and unique feature of the actual compact is that it's magnetized and refillable; as you can see in the photo below, there are pin holes on the back of the palette which you can use to remove the pans from the compact to store in a different palette, or to store other RBR eyeshadow refills in the compact. The pans in the Chronos palette are the exact same size as regular individually sold RBR refills. As for the quality and feel of the actual compact, I wish it was a bit more luxurious: the plastic looks a bit cheap and the beautiful design on top doesn't stand out as much as I would like it to. On the upside, the palette is very lightweight, doesn't scratch easily, and has a large mirror on the inside - all those features would be very handy for travel.
However, while all these packaging considerations are important and noteworthy, it's the inside that really counts - am I right? Let's to the typical Rocaille Writes in depth shade analysis and comparison, which is not only time-consuming, overly verbiose and nit-picky, but also probably useful to... well, no one. No, I know you all secretly love it. If not - indulge me.
The first two shades from the left, Champagne Pewter Highlight, described as a peachy metallic champagne, and Metallic Rosy Brown, described as a peacock pink and gold shade, look deceptively similar in the pan but swatch very differently on the skin. While I usually find RBR shade descriptions to be pretty spot on, these are rubbish - and why no pretty birds' names on these shades? :( At any rate, both of these shades lean cool and have a high shimmer/ metallic finish - when picked up with a finger, they seem to almost have a foiled effect.
The Champagne Pewter Highlighter, a mid-tone platinum beige, is lighter and slightly warmer of the two, while the Metallic Rosy Brown is a muted taupe leaning purple and grey. In the arm swatch, you can see that compared to RBR Bohemian Waxwing, both of these shades are significantly cooler and more reflective. Fyrinnae Feisty Fennec Fox, swatched on the far right, comes pretty close to Champagne Pewter, but I don't have a good dupe for Metallic Rosy Brown.
L-R: RBR Champagne Pewter Highlighter, RBR Metallic Rosy Brown, RBR Bohemian Waxwing, Stila Diamond Lil, Fyrinnae Snow Leopard, Fyrinnae Feisty Fennec Fox.
Aged Bronze, the middle khaki brown shade described as an interchanging, cool olive metallic, is my unexpected favorite of this palette. Now, on my skintone and to my eyes, this shade isn't cool-toned and it isn't metallic. I'd describe it as a darker warm brown leaning yellow green with a luminous/ low shimmer satin finish. If you look closely in the palette close-ups, you can tell that this shade (and Midnight Blue Gunmetal on the far right) have a different texture in the pan than the other three shadows, which also reads as a different finish on the skin: smoother, less reflective but not flat by any means. I'm very happy that Rouge Bunny Rouge included two different finishes in this palette, as it's very difficult to build a well-balanced look using just metallic shadows. Aged Bronze and Midnight Blue Gunmetal give a lot more textural variety to the Chronos palette.
L-R: RBR Aged Bronze, Fyrinnae Green Envy, Laura Mercier Black Karat, L'Oreal Infallible in Emerald Green
Now, the last two shades on the right, Aubergine Gunmetal, described as a dark, gold-tinged eggplant grey metallic, and Midnight Blue Gunmetal, described as a deep, smoky blue-grey metallic, conversely to the first two shades, are deceptively different in the pan but swatch very similarly on the skin. I have to say that Aubergine Gunmetal is my least favorite shade in the Chronos palette: upon swatching, I lose nearly all of its purpley undertones and instead I'm left with a shimmery charcoal. This shade has the same multidimensionl metallic finish as the first two but unfortunately suffers from the same major drawback as the Metallic Rosy Brown: there's a lot of fallout. The first time I used this shade I did my base first, and my entire under eye area and tops of my cheeks were covered in charcoal specks after I was done packing on this eyeshadow on the lids - imagine my disappoinment!
Midnight Blue Gunmetal is a satin gunmetal shade with navy/teal shift. It has the same smooth, luminous finish as Aged Bronze - there's less shimmer and more sheen to these two. In the comparison swatches below, you can see that Aubergine Gunmetal is a darker, more charcoal cousin to RBR Eclipse Eagle, while Urban Decay Gunmetal is lighter, more metallic steel than Midnight Blue Gunmetal. The Rouge Bunny Rouge interpretation of a gunmetal shade is a lot prettier and more complex than the UD!
L-R: RBR Aubergine Gunmetal, RBR Delicate Hummingbird, RBR Eclipse Eagle, RBR Midnight Blue Gunmetal, UD Gunmetal from the original Naked palette
Now for the look: I decided to do a simple smudgy cat eye using Champagne Pewter Highlight all over the lid and in the inner corners, with Aubergine Gunmetal smudged upwards on top of a black eye pencil (Pixi Endless Silky Eye Pen in Black Noir). You can see that on my eyes, Aubergine Gunmetal leans blue, and brings out the warm tones in my eye color. As mentioned above, I've had fallout issues with both Rosy Brown Metallic and Aubergine Gunmetal, but apart from that, all five shadows in the Chronos palette are pigmented, silky smooth to the touch and blend out easily. The three metallic/high shimmer shades need to worked into the skin more (as opposed to patted on) to achieve a smooth finish, so perhaps a blending brush would be preferrable to a flat shader when working with these.
You can find a lot of placement suggestions for this palette on the Rouge Bunny Rouge website (no, seriously - A LOT). As for my final thoughts: I'm glad that I bought the Raw Garden Eye Shadow Palette in Chronos and I find the shades within really complex and beautiful, but I've had such high expectations for it that inevitably, some aspects of it fall short for me. I do think the compact could have a bit more of a high-end feel, but more importantly, I'm quite annoyed at the amount of fallout on the Rosy Brown Metallic and Aubergine Gunmetal. I also believe that in terms of shade selection, there could be more of a difference between the two Gunmetal shades, and wish the palette included one lighter shade I could use as a highlight; on my fair skintone, Champagne Pewter Highlight is definitely more of a medium-depth shade.
See? No brightness in the inner corners -_-
One thing I haven't experimented with quite yet is using these shadows wet - they're a wet/dry formula, and most likely using the shades that are prone to fallout wet would mitigate a big part of the problem. However, that's true for all eyeshadows, high and low end, and since I rarely use my eyeshadows wet, I mostly wanted to see how the Chronos palette performed with my usual techniques. Have you tried this palette from Rouge Bunny Rouge? If not, are you thinking of picking it up any time soon?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

My Fall 2014/ Sephora VIB Sale Beauty Wishlist

You know nothing, Jon Snow Monika.

This quote pretty much sums up my wishlist this time round. I've been very strict with my beauty purchases for the past two months in anticipation of the annual Sephora 20% off VIB sale and other online retailers' discounts. In the meantime, I've been editing and re-editing my picks, going in circles and chasing my own tail for so long now that I don't know anything anymore. Is this product cool? Do I need it?! More importantly, do I even want it?! I DON'T KNOW.

Let's try to start with the actual necessary purchases, meaning skincare.
First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads ($30 for 60 pads): I've reviewed these in my acid toner/ exfoliating pads overview here, and stated these were among my absolute favorite daily chemical exfoliants I've tried thus far, which is why a repurchase is in order. I'm currently finishing up the St. Ives pads and still have the Peter Thomas Wroth Un-Wrinkle backed up in the stash, but prefer the latter for the evenings, or at least to rotate with a milder option like the FAB pads.
Kate Somerville Goat Milk Cream ($65 for 1.7 oz; wait, wasn't this $55 just a couple months back?!): I'm down to using deluxe samples for my night moisturizer and also detest my current daytime option, so I'm hoping the Goat Milk Cream, which comes highly recommended from Caroline Hirons, will fit somewhere in my routine. I'm kind of balking at the price, but if I don't love it - cheers to Sephora's awesome return policy.
Pixi Glow Tonic Beauty Elixir with Aloe Vera and Ginseng ($29 for 8.5 fl. oz): Another recommendation from Caroline, a relatively clean acid toner with a fantastic price point. The Paula's Choice 2% BHA liquid I'm using now in the evenings is on its last legs, so I want to try the Glow Tonic as a replacement. Belly, I hear you're using this now - any thoughts?

Now, for the heart-wrenching wants, meaning make-up.
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush Palette ($58 for 3 x 0.11 oz): I've been meaning to pick up one of the Hourglass Ambient blushes and then they released this palette, and I love all three shades. Except, I have this feeling deep down in my gut that as soon as the VIB sale launches online, this is going to be sold out. Maybe I could track it down in store... but maybe I'm too lazy for that. We shall see.
Benefit Gimme Brow in Light/Medium ($22 for 0.10 oz): Yeah yeah, I know that Maybelline has a good dupe for this fiber brow gel - but I've also heard the spoolie is impossible to work with. I guess I prefer to shell out more money and get a product I know I'll love (or do I?). Currently, I have no brow gels in my stash, and I feel that having one would amp up my brow game.
Rouge Bunny Rouge Raw Garden Eyeshadow Palette in Chronos ($59 for 5 x 2g): Spoiler alert, I've already got it :) What can I say, BeautyHabit had a $10 off coupon and I jumped. Review coming next.
Urban Decay Naked Basics 2 ($29 for 6 x 0.05 oz): This is THE product on this wishlist that makes me want to pull my hair out. I would really, really like some good cool neutral matte shadows all in one palette. Naked Basics 2 sounds perfect in that case, I hear you say. Except, the lightest shades are more like medium shades on my skintone, and only half of the palette is really truly cool-toned. So ultimately, I don't think I'll get this one, even though I love the concept. I have a few ideas on how to satisfy my matte craving: a) gather all my neutral mattes in one Z-Palette and use that instead, b) press some of the matte bareMinerals loose shadows I have, c) buy some individual mattes from Inglot and/or KIKO. I may or may not combine all three options *evil laugh*.
Guerlain Rouge G de Guerlain Jewel Lipstick Compact ($51 for 0.12 oz): I had this *genius* idea I could finally get one of the Rouge Gs with the $15 off coupon Sephora usually sends out in early December. Except, it now seems that Rouge Gs are online only - and looks like they may be phasing them out entirely?! So, maybe not so genius after all :(
Chikuhodo PS-1 Passion Series Powder Brush ($64): I don't actually own a decent powder brush, and have never owned anything better than a cheap drugstore one. So I think the time has finally come to upgrade, and the price point on the Chikuhodo Passion Series seems not to excessive. I may wait with this purchase until early next year though to space out my spending at least a little bit - or, you know, not have to explain myself too much to the husband.

Now, time for you to spill the beans: what's currently on your beauty wishlist?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

How To Blog Through A Blogging Crisis

We all know how it usually begins: you're feeling slightly lazy one day and opt for an evening of Sherlock instead of photo editing and writing, then the next day something comes up and you run out of time, then you're suddenly no longer in love with your original post idea... Before you even realize where the time has gone, a week/ a fortnight/ a month has passed and you've completely lost any inspiration and/or motivation to blog. Poufff! Your blogging mojo is gone - just like that.

I've been blogging for six years now and I've experienced major blogging crisises a good number of times. However, as you can see, I'm still here - so there must have been some strategies I've been using to deal with my posting malaise. This post was actually inspired by a Twitter conversation with Charlotte, and while I do not aspire to offer some incredibly innovative advice here, I hope someone somewhere will find my mind tricks at least amusing, if not helpful.

Let's start with an easier case of blogging idleness: you still really love posting, you've just fallen off the wagon and don't know where to start again. You know, I firmly believe there's nothing wrong with typing up some random nonsense to be completely scrapped later on, just to get you back in touch with your writer's voice (or in my case, hitting 'Publish' on it in a strange moment of bravado that I'm going to deeply regret some day). There are two choices you can opt for in terms of subject matter: either safely fall back on an easy feature you've done before, like a monthly favorites round-up, a tag, or an empties post, or if that feels too boring, go the opposite way and post something you've never talked about before: a recipe, a travel journal, maybe a book review. Or experiment with your photography, change up your lighting, angles, background, whatever.  It's YOUR freakin' blog - you can post whatever YOU like. I also find that keeping a notebook with post ideas is immensely helpful when I scrabble around for something to talk about; whadd'ya know, this is exactly where the post you're now reading originally comes from.

Now, for the exponentially more serious MAJOR blogging crisis, by which I mean feelings somewhere along the lines of: 'I hate my blog', 'I hate posting', 'I can't stand social media', and, of course, 'I'm a lousy writer' (no judging: I've definitely been there before, my friends - still occasionally am). This is the stuff that makes people abandon their blogs overnight, to linger in a limbo of half-finished series and interrupted conversations. But how do I go back to loving blogging again?

Don't try to guess the ultimate reason behind the hulking mass of a writer's block - there can be many. It doesn't always help to try to pin it down, despite what psychotherapists may lead you to believe. Writing is not like childhood trauma, or Oedipus complex: it's such a twisting, intertwining nucleus of creativity, emotion and discipline that not only are any efforts at untangling the knot bound to fail in the end, they may actually hurt 'the magic' more than help it along. In the rare case of knowing exactly what's stopping you from blogging, go ahead and get it off your chest: I find that a good rant always feels good. But otherwise, leave the thicket for now. Don't poke at it.

For me, the first step of finding my way back to writing is in fact to disconnect from it entirely. Go, stand up from the blank laptop screen, get out there. Take a trip, go see an art exhibit, talk to new people, or an old friend. I've learnt again and again that ideas strike when you least expect them, especially when you're actually thinking about something else completely - and then when they strike, don't force them, just store them for later, to have just in case. In a more practical sense, disconnect from the elements of the blogging world that frustrate you, like maybe those rapid-fire reviews of just released products on multiple blogs, accounts from press events, instahauls, page view and follower counts. Just don't look at them - stop reading, tweeting and instagramming for a while. And please, please, under no condition try to compare yourself to other bloggers. It NEVER helps.

What fundamentally helps me to enjoy blogging again, is connecting with you, my Dear Reader. No, not readers, the strangely anonymous crowd of blog visitors: a singular Reader. I know you - you've left comments before, and from these, I've gathered glimpses of your personality, and I've kept them close to my heart. I know you're an amazing, critical-thinking, kind, unique human being, and I try to imagine my posts as personal letters to you, snippets of a longer conversation with a wonderful, caring friend somewhere out there, miles and days apart. I imagine we're sitting at a cosy cafe, drinking chai lattes, and I'm spilling my heart out to you, and you listen, you understand, and then you further contribute YOUR thoughts to my story. I'm sorry if this sounds vaguely stalkerish - I didn't mean it that way. This is just to say that I never cease to want to talk to (or with?) you, and yet it boggles my mind that you even exist. Because blogs are very much unlike books or magazines with their 'target audience' and 'ideal readers', because you're a real breathing person who brushes her teeth in the morning, NOT a concept, and definitely not a business venture, or an obligation. Reminding myself that you're there for me is enough to dispel the worst case of a writer's block. I just need to keep reminding myself. We all need to.

Monday, October 20, 2014

My Eyeshadow Palette Collection

... where I show you my slightly outrageous eyeshadow palette collection, as well as share my deepest thoughts on buying make-up palettes and sets in general, especially in perspective of the freshly launched Holiday Limited Edition collections and upcoming beauty sales. So, are you ready for some palette p0rn?
Just to clear some particulars: this is my entire larger eyeshadow palette stash, meaning trios, quads and quints are not included. I've decided to go ahead and share both my freeform/custom eyeshadow palettes as well as premade ones, with the latter reviewed previously on the blog for the most part, so I'll link separate posts with swatches where possible. Also... I like neutral eyeshadows. I make no excuses.
Let's start with the freeform/ personalized palettes. First off, the old school classic in every make-up fanatic's eyeshadow stash: MAC Pro Palette Eye Shadow X15. As you can see, I own the old version of the palette (I had gotten the new but disliked how bulky it was and sold it in a blog sale), and mine features a mix of MAC shadows as well as discontinued INGLOT round pans and an odd Annabelle shade. I do tend to switch things around here and there as I have more round pans in my collection that fit in this palette, but for the most part it looks like in the photo. I do still like my MAC palette and reach for it fairly often; it's my second go-to after the large Z Palette shown below.
I currently have two Large Z Palettes in my collection: an older (and fuller) one that houses my most used eyeshadows, and a second back-up palette which has other, less used eyeshadow pans, as well as some La Femme blushes. I do occasionally rotate shadows between the two palettes or even the MAC palette for added variety. My main Z Palette features a mix of pressed Fyrinnae eyeshadows, Rouge Bunny Rouge refills, some Inglot square pans, depotted Burberry shadows, as well as random Stila, Too Faced (depotted Natural Eyes palette), Shu Uemura, Yaby and Annabelle. I absolutely love my Z Palettes and also have an empty smaller one on hand for travel.
Now, the two lower-end freeform palettes in my collection: a anothersoul Book of Shadows from Etsy, filled with depotted Wet n'Wild trios, and an eBay 12 round pan, filled with pressed NYX and Barry M pigments, extra round Inglot pans, and a stray Elf shadow. Out of all the palettes I'm showing you today, I use the random round pan palette the least: it's mostly storage for eyeshadows that have fallen out of favor. I do however enjoy using the DIY Wet n'Wild palette, even though I haven't reached for it in a while. I should get back to it!
As for the ready-made portion of my eyeshadow palette collection, let's start with the two most hyped-up neutral palettes I own: the Urban Decay Naked 1 (old tutorial using the original Naked here) and theBalm Nude'Tude. From these two, I generally prefer UD Naked, although it has some shades I never reach for (Sidecar, Half-Baked, Gunmetal). However, the undertones of Nude'Tude don't suit me very well, and the palette lacks good matte medium depth blending/transition shades - maybe with the exception of Sultry, which is a touch too warm and dark for my skintone. But all in all, both of these are fantastic buys, especially for make-up beginners.
Here are my two Stila eyeshadow palettes. I don't own any other products by Stila apart from the eyeshadows, and while some shades in these palettes are slightly dry and not as pigmented as I would have liked, overall I do like them and I do still reach for them on occasion. The Stila 'In The Moment' palette occupies an interesting niche in my collection: it has both cool-toned purples as well as warm peach and bronze shades. The E! Live from the Red Carpet neutral palette is another great neutral staple; I'm pretty sure this one has been discontinued, but if you can find it, I think the quality is on point - I just wish they omitted the Convertible Color cream pan from the powder line-up.
Sleek MakeUp i-Divine Mineral Based Eyeshadow Palettes are some of the best powder eyeshadows you can find in a drugstore; unfortunately, not an American one, but I hear that Sleek online ships worldwide and the shipping charges are not too extortionate. I own two: the classic Storm 578 (top of the photo) and Oh So Special 658 (bottom, a spring look featuring Oh So Special here). I've definitely used Storm more but I've also owned it longer, and have fond memories of using it on my honeymoon. I haven't pulled these out in ages, but I like them too much to purge: in fact, I have gotten rid of one in the past - the warm yellow tones in Au Naturel didn't suit me very well at all, even though the quality was stellar.
Last but not least, the newest member of my palette stash, the bareMinerals READY Eyeshadow 8.0 palette in The Finer Things from the 2012 Holiday Collection. Here's a full review, but in short, I absolutely love the texture of bareMinerals READY shadows and the cooler undertones of The Finer Things suit me very well. I used to own The Power Neutrals palette too (swatched and reviewed here) but didn't like the shade selection even half as much, so I've passed it on to my warmer-complected best friend, who continues to use it daily.

And that's it! I like to think that I'm keeping my eyeshadow palette addiction under control by weeding out palettes I don't use very often: like I mentioned above, I purged the Sleek Au Naturel palette, bareMinerals Power Neutrals, and an empty new MAC large custom palette a while back, as well as a whole host of various eyeshadow pans I wasn't using. I'd also wanted to sell my old Too Faced Natural Eye palette, but due to lack of interest, I depotted it in the end and stuck the pans in my Z-Palettes. I'm still in two minds about doing the same to my Stila palettes in hopes of remembering to use them more often.
As for my reflections on expanding my palette collection/ buying make-up sets in general, I'm quite proud to say that I haven't bought a larger eyeshadow palette or a set in over a year. Here's my gripe with ready-made palettes: while I usually really like SOME of the shades, I never like ALL of the shades enough to warrant having the whole palette - same for various value sets and such. So before pulling a trigger on a new one, I think long and hard whether I like and need ALL of it, and 95% of the time, the final answer is NO. Which is precisely the reason I haven't bought Urban Decay Naked 2 &3 in the past, or the Laura Mercier Artist palettes, or the Lorac Pro 1 & 2, and of course the new Mega Pro (also - too big to fit comfortably in my drawer). Not that I wasn't tempted - I really was - but ultimately I'm glad I haven't sprung for either. I'm still tempted by all the value sets Sephora has now been putting out for the Holidays, but probably won't get anything in the end. And coming back to eyeshadow palettes in particular, I now have my eyes on smaller ones, five or six pans maximum, that fill a specific gap in my collection - this way it's a lot more likely I'll use and enjoy all the shades in a palette.

I hope you enjoyed this stash inventory post; of course, let me know if you have any additional questions or maybe would like to see my custom MAC or Z-Palettes in more detail. Do you also collect eyeshadow palettes? What are your criteria for getting a new one? What are your thoughts on make-up value sets?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Glittery Glimmers: Shu Uemura Eyeshadow in IR Pink 115

Uhmm, no, not done with glitter quite yet, my dears. I will admit that I went through a difficult phase of glitterophobia about two years ago - any glittery make-up product I touched would either leave my lips dry and gritty, or form a trail of sparkly dandruff all over my cheeks, and was always, always, an absolute b*tch to remove. But I'm over my fears now, as you may have deduced from my last nail-centered post: I've found glittery make-ups that WORK. Well, I do still avoid glitter on the lips though.
So let me present a perfect example of a glitter that works: Shu Uemura Silk Smooth Eyeshadow Refill in IR(idescent) Pink 115 ($15 for 1.4 g/0.049 oz), another stellar recommendation from Driveller Kate. Here's what Shu's IR Pink 115 is and isn't: it IS a fine fiery opal glitter, shifting between pink and orange, and it IS NOT a pigmented base with some chunky glitter thrown in for added interest. Iridescent Pink 115 is meant to be a glitter topper, to be layered with another, more opaque shadow underneath - very much like many other glitter eyeshadows from Asian brands.
Shu Uemura IR Pink 115 eyeshadow shot at different angles.
WHICH is also the reason why Shu's Iridescent Pink turned out to be nearly impossible to photograph accurately. But, instead of giving up completely, I thought I could at least try to show you a textural difference between some other glitter eyeshadows in my collection as well as a satin finish transforming shadows from the recent Shiseido release. I hope that in the arm swatch, you can see that Shu's IR Pink 115 is very similar in texture to the glitter shade in Visee Bitter Brown quad, and very much texturally different from something like Too Faced Nude Beach eyeshadow from the old Natural Eye palette (another example: Urban Decay's Sidecar shadow from the first Naked palette). Shiseido's Static trio is a similar concept to Shu's glitter, but a luminous satin finish instead of glitter. Shiseido's shadows can also be used alone without the need for layering, since they do have a colored base.

L-R: Shu Uemura IR Pink 115 on top of a plum base, Shu IR Pink 115 alone, glitter shade from Visee Bitter Brown quad, Too Faced Nude Beach, pink shade from Shiseido Static trio
In terms of application and wear, Shu Uemura's Iridescent Pink adheres very well on top of another shadow or a cream base, and doesn't migrate all over my face - no, seriously, I couldn't find any glitter specks on the rest of my face at all. It also doesn't hurt my eyes, and it's not difficult to get off, even with a micellar make-up remover. The texture is creamy & smooth and the glitter quite dense, so patting on with a brush is a piece of cake.
In the arm swatch above, you can see how absolutely stunning IR Pink 115 looks on top of dark shades: I used the Avon Extra Lasting Eyeshadow Pencil in Smoky Plum for the base. In the face shot below, I opted for a lighter base, using the Avon Extra Lasting shadow stick in Amethyst, and the effect was more subtle, but still very pretty, especially in the inner corners where the light hit the glitter at just the right angle.
I really wish more of the Shu glitter eyeshadows were available in the US; I guess for now, we have to console ourselves with the sparkly shades in the Tom Ford and Charlotte Tilbury quads. What are your thoughts on glitter eyeshadows? Do you love them, hate them, only wear them for special occasions?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

My Five Favorite Fall Nail Polishes

Burgundies, plums, purples - give me all the vamps for fall. While I like the cheerful colorfulness of warm weather nail polish shades, I've really, really missed the moody darker shades of fall and winter. I thought it was only appropriate to share my current favorites with you; mind you, none of these polishes are new but in my mind, that's for the best: you can often find these older treasures online for a lot less than MSRP.
Let's start with a bang - the darkest of five polishes I'm swatching for you today. This is China Glaze Naughty and Nice, originally released with the 2012 Holiday collection and first mentioned on the blog here. As you can see, I still have it and it's definitely been well loved, both worn on its own or as a dark base for glitter toppers. With two coats, it's basically a reddish black with a high glossy finish: simple and stunning. After two years, the formula is still on point, even and just the right thickness.
For a newer favorite, I thought that OPI Muir Muir On The Wall from the 2013 San Francisco Collection was just too beautiful to pass up. It's a charcoal black base with green, copper and burgundy shift - I had not really seen anything like it before and it really reminds me of the changing foliage in the fall. Unfortunately, the multichrome effect is not as strong on the nails as it is in the bottle and the formula is a bit on the thin side, but ultimately still worth it in my opinion.
From the same collection, I also got Lost on Lombard, a warm darkened red with a cream finish. Warm reds usually are not very flattering on my cool skintone, but Lost on Lombard works for some reason, and I quite like the brown undertones - I think it's a great red for fall, a bit more muted and subdued than the sparkly festive reds of the Holiday season. The consistency is on par with my other OPI creams and these polishes also last very well on me.

Jem was the first nail polish from Zoya that absolutely stole my heart: I ogled swatches online for a good couple months before finally deciding to pull the trigger. Jem is a dark plum base with copper and gold foil - the shimmer particles are bigger than those of OPI Muir Muir On The Wall. It looks absolutely stunning in the bottle, but again, the beautiful shimmer is much subtler on the nail than in the bottle, and there's not much shift between gold and copper. But, the delicate foil gives Jem some depth and I still find myself reaching for this shade again and again. The formula is easy to work with but not as long-wearing as the OPI shades.
Lastly, a bit of fun: this is Zoya Payton, an eggplant purple jelly base with holographic micro glitter. The holo effect in Payton isn't very strong: at most angles, it reads as scattered silver shimmer, but when light catches it just right, the micro glitters turn all the colors of the rainbow. I previously swatched Payton here, and I still very much enjoy wearing it; I also like it a bit better than Zoya Aurora, another purple with fine holo glitters. I layer two coats of Jem for full opacity and I find it wears very well on me.
You most likely haven't noticed, but the top of my index finger has been cropped out of four of these photos - it's not because I can't shoot a good frame (well, maybe - but it's irrelevant here) but because the cuticles and nail bed on that finger are thoroughly f*cked up. Here's what happened: in August, I started getting particularly bad eczema flare-ups on that finger, so much so that I had to resort to using topical steroids again. Now, I'm used to steroids absolutely destroying the skin and cuticles on my fingers (think, 90 year old's hands), but this time, the nail got damaged as well, and it's been looking very, very wrong for at least a month now. I'm telling this sickening story not to make excuses for the quality of my swatch photos, but rather to inform my fellow eczema-sufferers, and in hope that maybe something similar has happened to one of you (in which case, I'm sorry!) and you could share your experience. I don't know if my nail & nail bed will go back to normal eventually - I'm hoping the damaged nail will just grow out in time. And speaking of eczema on my hands, would you guys be interested in a separate post on triggers and things I try to keep it at bay?
That huge tangent aside, I hope you enjoyed looking at these stunning fall polishes. Do let me know what you're wearing on your nails right now, or your all-time favorite shades for fall - I can never have enough of these vampy varnishes!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Rocaille Raves: Pixi Endless Silky Eye Pens

You know my regular reticence to buy into any sort of product hype? Yeah, I prefer to quietly wait for the bandwagon to pass, smell the roses, ponder things in my own time, and then maybe, MAYBE, pull the trigger. So when opportunity arose to snag some Pixi Endless Silky Eye Pens ($12 for 0.04 oz, or $18 for a set of 5 smaller pencils + sharpener) via Belly's blog sale and some poorly rationalized Asos order, I finally pulled. The trigger, that is.
From the utterly unsuspenseful title of this post, you already know that I'm really, really liking these Pixi eye pencils (not pens!). So much so that I like them better than the Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-on liners, and better than the NYX Slide-ons. And I like them just as much, or maybe even a teeny, tiny bit more than the Sephora 12HR Wear Contour pencils - I don't know yet, the verdict is still out on that one.
I hear you ask 'But Monika, what is so special about these boring old pencils?'. Weel, let me tell ye (not sure why this had to be said in a Scottish accent): apart from the pure awesomeness of the shades, they're unbelievably soft, creamy, pigmented and long-lasting. The brand also claims they're non-transfer and waterproof, giving the effect of liquid liner in a handy pencil form. I actually mostly use eyeliner pencils in lieu of liquid or gel liners ('cause, lazy), so I was excited about the level of pigmentation on these Endless Eye Pens; I find them more intense and opaque than the cult UD pencils and the NYX dupes of those. They do also wear like iron; I find that they can transfer a bit when applied in the waterline (sometimes they do, sometimes they don't) but otherwise there's no smudging, running or flaking.
I have five shades now: Black Noir (pure matte black), Black Tulip (dark indigo pearl over a black base), Deep Plum (eggplant with very fine multidimensional shimmer, similar but more intense than Urban Decay Ransom), Copper Glow (reddish brown with gold micro glitter) and Sage Glow (golden olive with gold micro glitter). They're all equally smooth and creamy with the exception of Sage Glow, which is the most glittery shade - the consistency of that one seems a bit drier and not as intensely pigmented, but I remember from my UD liners that their glittery shades (like UD Gunmetal) suffered from a similar issue. That minor flaw aside, the glitter in Copper Glow and Sage Glow is small enough to give just a twinkle of light on the eyes, and stays put without migrating all over the face; I even applied Sage Glow to my waterline with no irritation whatsoever.
L-R: Black Noir, Black Tulip, Deep Plum, Copper Glow, Sage Glow. The bottom photo shows the tenacity of the Silky Eye Pens - this is what I was left with after vigorous rubbing with a cotton pad soaked in a micellar make-up remover. A good cleansing oil/ waterproof make-up remover is a must with these pencils.
You will obviously see these pencils quite often in the upcoming FOTD posts and such (actually, I used Black Noir here already), but I wanted to show you a simple micro glittery look with both Copper Glow and Sage Glow. I was worried that Copper Glow would be too warm of a brown for my complexion, but you can see it works beautifully as a liner on my top lashline. While I rarely wear greens on my eyes, I love the subtle olive accent of Sage Glow on my lower lashline and waterline - like I said, I had absolutely no issues with the glitter moving or getting in my eyes (and I do wear contact lenses).
To complete the look, I'm wearing MAC Patina eyeshadow all over the lid and smudged on the lower lashline, with Soft Force to highlight the inner corners. For my blush I chose  NARS Douceur, and I have MAC Viva Glam V lipstick on my lips. All in all, I'm really happy I've decided to pick these Pixi liners up - they're some of the best pencil eyeliners I've ever had the pleasure of playing around with. Have you recently got anything you're loving to pieces?