Friday, February 27, 2015

I Couldn't Resist: bareMinerals The Posh Neutrals Eyeshadow Palette

Admittedly, I've become a bit of an eyeshadow palette snob: these days it takes a spectacular one to set my heart aflutter. But, you know my love of bareMinerals READY eyeshadow formula, documented here, here and here, so as soon as I saw that they had released two more Limited Edition colorways in their Neutral 8.0 range, I knew I had to get my hands on one.
After much deliberation, I settled on READY 8.0 Eyeshadow Palette in The Posh Neutrals ($40 for 0.24 oz), which I belive has the most clear cool undertones out of the three variations. The name is a bit ridiculous and reminds me of my Spice Girls fan days, but I guess that doesn't really matter - for inside the sleek rose gold compact, you find eight beautiful neutral eyeshadows in a variety of depths and finishes.
The shiny compact comes in a simple cardboard envelope with the names of the shades on the back (though notice the inaccurate shade representations both on the outer box and the back of the palette itself) and three eye look suggestions on the inside. I like the packaging of these palettes, even though they're a bit of a finger print magnet - the compacts are small but sturdy and come with a big mirror inside, which makes them the perfect travel eyeshadow palettes. I traveled with both The Finer Things and The Posh Neutrals now (I took it with me on our recent trip to Colorado) and I was very happy with my choice.
I like the rose gold theme, however now it slightly bothers my collector's soul that I have given away the yellow gold Power Neutrals palette, because together with the silver Finer Things, they would have made a beautiful precious metals trio. But, alas - I'll have to deal with the fearful symmetry of just two READY 8.0 palettes.
Now for the important part - the eyeshadows inside. Similarly to The Finer Things, The Posh Neutrals has quite a range of different formulas and textures. Here we have a silky matte (warm beige Promise), mattes with microglitter (Curtsy, white with silver flecks, and Romance, blackened aubergine with gold and copper glitters), satins (light peach Debutante, dusty mauve Waltz and silver sage Caviar & Cake), and high shimmers/ metallics (warm taupe Valet and Sizzle, a light bronze with silver microglitter).

It's a bit difficult to spot those differences in finish in photos, so I've decided to include a couple shots in full sunlight, hoping to capture the more complex shimmers. In terms of pigmentation and texture, these shadows differ quite a bit between the finishes, with the one matte and two metallics being the most opaque and soft, the satins equally soft but less pigmented, and the mattes with microglitter the most sheer and dry in consistency. None of these shadows are bad though - I find all quite easy to work with, even if I have to layer to get more pigmentation. Overall, I like all of them, but find the darkest Romance and bronzy Sizzle the most problematic, as the microglitters have a tendency to migrate and fall down my cheeks.
Shades swatched in diffused natural light in the same order as in the palette.
Swatches in direct full sunlight.
In terms of shade selection, I think The Posh Neutrals is going to suit light to medium skintones the most, both on the cool and warm ends of the spectrum. You can absolutely create a complete eyeshadow look with just this palette, although I wish there was one more medium depth transitioning/blending shade; in lieu of that, I've been using Promise, the only matte in the palette, to soften the edges and tone down the shimmer of other shades. I find the satin shades, especially the muted tones of Waltz and Caviar & Cake, to be the most unique and difficult to replicate, although fans of bareMinerals READY taupe shades will be very content with Valet and Sizzle as well.

Here's a shot comparing The Finer Things and The Posh Neutrals - you can see that the latter has more watercolor tones and less contrast than The Finer Things. I'm sorry I don't have The Power Neutrals anymore to give you an idea of differences between the two, but from my memory (and photos), The Power Neutrals was both a bit more grey and warm. On my fair cool skintone, I do prefer the muted pastel shades in The Posh Neutrals palette.
My favorite eye look using The Posh Neutrals palette is the silvery sage Caviar & Cake on the inner two thirds of the lid with plummy Valet in the outer third and softly in the crease, further blended out with matte beige Promise around the edges. I also applied flecky white Curtsy in the inner corner, light bronze Sizzle along the lower lashline, and used the darkest Romance wet to line my upper lashline. It's quite subtle, but luminous and pretty, and when I tilt my head, you can just about see the copper microglitters of Romance between the lashes.

I hope this was helpful to anyone trying to decide between The Posh and The Sexy, or just generally on the fence about these two new palettes. From what I've seen on Temptalia, they are supposed to be limited edition, although The Power Neutrals was a limited release at first too, and then became a permanent part of the range. Have you been tempted by the new READY 8.0 palettes?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Minimalism in Manhattan

Woe is me you guys, we're moving in approximately a month - and it's stressing me out. Let me tell you, the apartment hunt in NYC is rather painful, the basic truth of which was recently highlighted by our friend moving from San Fran to Boulder, Colorado, where apartments are big, aplenty, energy-efficient and about a third of the price of renting here or in SF. We're actually moving OUT of Manhattan and into Brooklyn, but it doesn't really make a difference when it comes to what most apartments available for rent in our price range look like.

'Cause they're generally SMALL. I know it sounds kinda quirky and 'sooo New York' when a character in a movie is forced to sleep in what is basically a glorified walk-in closet, but no, it's not fun in real life when you're trying to find a comfortable place to live. Obviously, one of the solutions is to move farther away from Manhattan where you can get a bigger space in your budget, but Mr doesn't want to commute for over an hour and a half every day of the working week, and I don't blame him - he's already working so much that a longer commute would probably have to mean cutting out things like the gym or some relaxation time late in the evening.

However you look at it, if you live in or close to Manhattan, you better get used to having very limited space for your stuff. When we first moved here a year and a half ago, we already had to let go of a number of things: some furniture and lots of sports equipment like a crash pad (a mattress for climbing and bouldering), Mr's older snowboard, his mountain bikes had to go into storage in a remote location. Now that we're preparing to move again, I've begun the long process of culling our stuff again, trying to decide what's indispensable and what I can do without.

It's a bit of a different decluttering process - I'd say that generally, I'm quite organized and don't hoard completely useless stuff, so the decisions I've been faced with have proven quite difficult. Here are some examples: our bookshelf started to overflow thanks to some Christmas gifts and Mr's growing collection of programming books, so I had to donate some of my novels to the local libary (the knowledge that they're not going in the trash was what made it possible for me to say goodbye). I went through our kitchen cabinets and put aside pots and pans as well as foodstuffs that I wasn't reaching for regularly anymore. I have a separate bag of clothing, shoes and accessories in the closet that I keep adding to before finally donating the whole lot. The remnants of rarely used sports equipment lingering in the closet are regularly given the side eye, although I don't know if I can convince my husband to let go.

Some may say that this forced minimalism in Manhattan is a good thing because it teaches you how little you actually need for day to day functioning. I'm in two minds about this: on one hand, I dislike holding on to things I don't need or enjoy using, so yeah, that's great - no room for clutter anyway. But on the other, I also feel that these living space limitations are holding me back from things I may benefit from, or are making me feel wasteful for having to let go off things I'm still using but won't have enough space to keep.

To give you two tangible examples of what I'm talking about: I've wanted a Cuisinart mixer for years, but truth is, the kitchens in the apartments we've seen so far have so little counter space that it's just not doable right now, and at any rate, having so little space for someone who cooks from scratch every single day is pretty tough. To illustrate the latter problem, I feel pretty sad that I probably won't be able to keep my vanity table; it already had to be put out of our small bedroom and into a dark hallway in our current apartment, so I've gotten used to doing my make-up elsewhere, but I wish I could have that small space all for myself and my beloved make-up stash.

Let's try to stay positive: maybe I could embrace the tiny apartments, and attempt to live a minimalist lifestyle. In that vein, I've been mulling over the practicalities of capsule wardrobes that I've seen many fashion bloggers experiment with in the past couple of years. I have very little fashion sense so I sincerely doubt if I'd be able to put together satisfactory outfits from just a handful of things, and I guess my questions are pretty dumb: 'But what if you live in a climate that experiences both extremely hot and cold weather, and everything in between (like New York)?', 'What if you're into sports and need specialized gear for that?'. 'Do you have to throw away something you own every time you buy something new?', 'Do you just not buy any new clothes until something older falls apart?', and 'How do you not get bored out of your mind?'.

So I don't know if true minimalism is the way to go for me - right now it just feels like a panicky getting rid of a whole bunch of stuff. I can't help but feel wasteful for my past purchases that I have no use for anymore, even though when I first got them, my living conditions and needs were a lot different. I also realize that what I'm doing is not the fun 'I'm clearing out my closet for Spring, and now I can go shopping to fill all that extra space!', it's the 'I have no space for new stuff - from now on it's a strict "one in - one out" only'.

But even disregarding the whole limited space issue, I've been thinking about how much stuff we accrue over the years, where it's coming from and where it's ultimately going. I'm questioning whether in this day and age (in the first world), anyone wears out their things anymore - and so with the constant influx of the new and trendy, the old must end up being thrown or given away (and then I suppose it's mostly recycled into home insulation or something of the sort). The image of myself as a greedy monster continously devouring and spitting out goods doesn't sit well with me; but at the same time, I want to enjoy both thoughtful acquisition of new and possession of the old. I don't want to bar myself from the joy I feel from shopping for a small treat, and I don't want to force myself to use something I hate just to avoid the feelings of being wasteful. Where exactly do I strike the balance? I believe this is something I'll keep experimenting with, and doing what feels right in this moment is probably my best strategy, realizing that things will change as I grow.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this post anymore, so I guess that means it's time to wrap it up. I don't want you to come away from this post thinking that I'm complaining or feeling sorry for myself - I think what I'm trying to say is that I need to change a lot of lifelong habits and it's making me feel a bit apprehensive. I realize it's going to be a challenge, and I need you guys to hold my hand for a bit - but deep down, I know it's a good thing, and I'm going to enjoy it.

Have you attempted or are you currently living a more minimalist lifestyle? If so, please let me know your experiences in the comments - I'd love to know how it's been working out for you! I'm aware that a lot of you are working on decreasing the size of your make-up collections this year by purging unloved bits and/or Project Pan/ Project Make A Dent, but I'd love to know if that mindframe also spilled over to other areas of your life. Inquiring minds want to know!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Color Of the Year: Marsala Inspired Face Of the Day

Well, TWO Faces of Two Days, to be specific. I have to admit that neither of these looks turned out exactly how I imagined them to be in my head, but it's not necessarily a bad thing - you know, sometimes it's fun to enjoy the journey too, not just the destination. But without further ado, here are the looks I created using my Marsala product picks from the previous post:
To get the boring stuff out of the way, the staple products I used in both looks were the same: Dr Brandt Pores No More face primer, Face Atelier Ultra Foundation in Porcelain set with MUFE loose HD Powder, NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Chantilly, Annabelle So Foxy brown eyeshadow set with Benefit Gimme Brow Light/Medium through the brows, NARS Pro Prime Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Primer, Tarte Lights, Camera, Flashes mascara in Black, NYX Powder Blush in Taupe to contour.
For the first look, I used the Inglot Eyeshadow Trio with a mustard yellow and rusty brown, and lined my upper and lower waterline with Pixi Endless Silky Eye Pen in CopperGlow. I also smudged some of that red burgundy shade from the Sleek Storm palette under the lower lashline. Lessons learnt while working with red tones on the eyes: you absolutely need to conceal all of undereye purpleness and veins, and defined lashline and lashes to set off all the red are a must as well. On the cheeks, I used Laura Mercier Matte Radiance Highlight and bareMinerals READY blush in The One, because I thought it complimented Bite Beauty High Pigment Lip Pencil in Rhubarb rather nicely. I actually loved Rhubarb the most out of this look - I will definitely be reaching for this shade more often from now on.
The second look was a bit of a fail because I wanted to showcase Fyrinnae eyeshadow in Purgatory. However, it absolutely refused to layer over a black liquid eyeliner I used (actually, that liner - LORAC Front of the Line PRO - also refused to layer over itself... not fun to work with), so I cheated by substituting Purgatory with Chanel Illusion d'Ombre in New Moon, which has microglitters in copper and plum tones. The cheeks are Laura Geller Blush-n-Brighten in Boysenberry and the lips are Maybelline Color Sensational in Plum Perfect.
Tell me, have you been incorporating marsala shades into your make-up routine? Do you prefer to use these earthy red tones on your eyes, cheeks or lips?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Shopping My Stash: Marsala Product Picks

I'm generally NOT a very on-trend person, be it fashion or beauty. I like what I like, and if it happens to be trendy, so be it - and if not... *shrugs*. Because of that, I mostly view the whole 'Pantone Color of the Year' thing as another marketing ploy, and I get a good laugh out of conflicting opinions on which product is marsala and which one is not. From what I've seen online so far, Sephora isn't very clear on the idea either, selecting both rosy mauve as well as rusty red shades for their marsala picks. The whole conundrum makes me want to visit a store just to be able to drill an innocent sales associate with 'Is this marsala?', 'Is this?!', 'Is deez?!' while pointing at half of the products on display. I won't though - I'm also generally a NICE person.
Either way, let's just treat the Color of the Year trend as another excuse to rummage through the existing stash and come up with stuff that hasn't been touched in a while - I don't often gravitate towards warm earthy red shades because they're not very complimentary on my cool skintone. But still - I found quite a few options. You will notice that my product picks are not all the same shade; I just took the marsala trend more as an inspiration than a canon law.
Starting with eye make-up, it was quite challenging to find eyeshadows in my stash leaning not burgundy purple but more rusty wine instead. I'm guessing something like MAC Cranberry would be a nice pick, but I don't own that - I have this deeply rooted fear of crazy red rabbit eyes when reaching for reddish eyeshadow. Unsurprisingly, two of my picks are parts of bigger sets: the anonymous shimmery plummy red in the Sleek Storm palette and satin rusty brown in a very old Inglot trio (no shade name - no idea if they even make this anymore, it's that old). Fyrinnae eyeshadow in Purgatory would be a black-based version of an earthy wine, and the pinky brown tones of Pixi Endless Silky Eye Pen in Copper Glow also seemed marsala-appropriate to me.

L-R: Inglot matte rusty brown from the anonymous trio, a burgundy copper from Sleek's Storm Palette, Fyrinnae Purgatory swatched over Pixie Epoxy, Pixi Endless Silky Eye Pen in CopperGlow
When it comes to lips, I deemed Maybelline Color Sensational Lipstick in Plum Perfect the most accurate marsala pick in my stash - previously featured here. For a more subdued daytime marsala lip, I also chose Bite Beauty High Pigment Lip Pencil in Rhubarb (a browny mauve), and Make Up For Ever Rouge Artist Natural in N9 (a reddish brown neutral), which was part of the Sephora Beauty Insider Birthday Gift last year. I don't reach for any of these lipsticks very often because it's a bit too much brown for my taste, but I know they look beautiful and natural on warmer skintones.

L-R: Maybelline Color Sensational in Plum Perfect, Bite Beauty High Pigment Lip Pencil in Rhubarb, Make Up For Ever Rouge Artist Natural in N9
Lastly, a gorgeous nail polish pick: OPI Nail Lacquer in Lost on Lombard from the San Francisco collection, previously swatched here. While this is a warm shade with some brown undertones, there's still enough red in it to compliment even my pasty white hands. I'm also cheating a bit by including a rather color-inaccurate blush, the Laura Geller Blush-n-Brighten in Boysenberry, reviewed separately here. It doesn't have enough depth to be considered marsala, but it has that earthy ochre quality, so I think it pairs nicely with reddish browns on eyes and lips.
My next post will feature these products in action on the face, so stay tuned if you're curious about how clashy they look on a porcelain skintone, har har. Tell me, do you get sucked in by Sephora's Color of the Year marketing and buy marsala everything, or do you pick out products from your existing collection? Or maybe you just don't care?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Inexpensive & Effective: Zoeva Make-up Brushes Review

When I first started seeing Zoeva's brushes on a multitude of YouTube channels, I immediately assumed it was another make-up brush company just like Sigma. Sigma, when it first started, became popular for making inexpensive dupes of MAC brushes right down to the same numbering system, then affiliated half of available beauty gurus, got greedy due to the success it's been having, and gradually increased their prices. I wouldn't even mind all that if the quality of their brushes was any good - but it's not, and I also have no patience for gimmicky products like a brush-cleaning oven mitt. So, by the same token, I had absolutely zero interest in trying Zoeva brushes.
But then I watched Lauren's overview of Zoeva brushes that she ordered and paid for herself, and she was very satisfied with the quality and performance even compared to brands like Hakuhodo. And then I started watching a Polish beauty channel where Zoeva's brushes were reviewed in detail and used regularly for a variety of looks. Those two things, combined with Zoeva's reasonable pricing and a wide variety of brush shapes and types available, made me finally pull the trigger and order five different brushes to try for myself.
Zoeva is a German cosmetics and brush company; currently their products are only available for US folks via Zoeva's own website. The biggest downside of ordering from Germany is that Zoeva charges a flat shipping fee of $16. That's quite steep if you just want to try a couple brushes; you could of course convince a friend to place an order with you and divide the cost that way, but it's a bit of a pain. Good news is that my package was dispatched very quickly and arrived in New York about a week later. More good news is that if you're in Europe, not only are Zoeva's own shipping fees much lower, but they also distribute their brushes through a lot of domestic online stores - for example, Zoeva's retailers in Poland charge about $3 for the shipping. You do have to pay VAT though, unlike us here in the US.
The brushes came packaged in a (slightly ripped) cardboard box with a company logo, padded with some additional tissue inside. Each brush has its own ziplock pouch, and the bristles are further secured with a little plastic sleeve. You could absolutely reuse that paraphernalia for travel, the pouches especially seem very sturdy and useful - I thought it was a nice touch.
I orderded two face brushes and three eye brushes. Let's start with the face: I got the 105 Luxe Highlight ($15.50) and the 109 Luxe Face Paint ($15.50). Both of these brushes are a blend of natural (I'm thinking goat) and synthetic hairs, and the bristles are very fine and soft, with a comparable feel to my goat-bristled Hakuhodos but perhaps a touch more springy/ resistant. I was actually hoping to use the Luxe Highlight for both highlighting and setting with powder on smaller areas of the face, but the more elongated and slightly tapered shape is definitely better suited for highlighting or contouring (I use the more domed Real Techniques contour brush for setting). I like that the brush head is on the smaller side, so that I can highlight only the specific areas that I want targeted.
I don't have another brush even remotely similar to the 109 Luxe Face Paint, which is the reason I was particularly excited to play around with it for contouring my face. It's a flat brush with a blunt edge, and the bristles form an oval shape when you look at the brush in profile. I suppose it's very similar to the popular NARS Ita brush, or the new Real Techniques Bold Metals 301 Flat Contour, although significantly cheaper than both of those. I also decided to get Zoeva's version because I'd heard that the NARS bristles are a bit scratchy, while the RT is a bit too dense and stubby and not flexible enough to allow for blending. The Zoeva Face Paint doesn't poke my sensitive skin and allows for both precise placement of a contouring powder directly under the cheekbone as well as some light blending, especially when you turn the brush vertically. If you like very subtle and diffused contour or have a larger face, it may not be your favorite - but I've really been enjoying mine.
Onto the eye brushes: whenever I order brushes from a new to me company, I can't resist purchasing their version of a staple crease/ blending brush (a MAC 217 dupe, if you will), which in Zoeva's case is the 227 Luxe Soft Definer ($9.50). Again, this is a natural and synthetic hair mix, and the design is a bit different than my favorite Bdellium Tools 776: the bristles are slightly longer and fan out more, giving it more of a paddle shape. Functionally though, it performs exactly like the 776, and it's great for both placing shadow in the crease and blending it out. In comparison, the Wayne Goss 06 is more pinched and flat, while the Sigma E25 has a rounder shade and unsurprisingly, a lot scratchier bristles.
I also purchased another crease brush, the 231 Luxe Petit Crease ($9.50). At the time I was placing my order, I didn't realize this brush was a Zoeva fan favorite, but I can definitely see why: the natural bristles are soft but resistant and cut with great precision, with all the hairs perfectly aligned and coming to a point. I find the Luxe Petit Crease to be an incredibly versatile brush as well: it could be used for precise placement in the crease, or as a softer pencil brush, or for placing and blending out inner corner and under the brow highlight (which is what I've been using it for). It's more flexible and tapered than the Bdellium Tools 781, and longer and slightly bigger than my trusty Posh (sic!) Crease brush (I believe Essence of Beauty makes a brush duo that comes with a similar brush).
Lastly, I also needed a new angled eyeliner brush, so I ordered the 317 Wing Liner ($8.50). It doesn't specify on the Zoeva's website, but I believe this a syntethic brush, with a small head and a very fine edge, allowing for precise lining of the upper lashline and drawing cat eye flicks with both powder and cream/gel products. In comparison, my beloved but discontinued EcoTools brush has a thicker edge, so it's better suited for brows rather than eyeliner. I'm still playing around with the Wing Liner, but so far it's been great - it really makes eyeliner work a lot easier.
I have already cleaned my Zoeva brushes a couple times both with soap and water as well as MAC Brush Cleanser, and they wash up beautifully with no shedding or staining of the white bristles (in fact, the bristles look cleaner and whiter than my Hakuhodo goats). I've dried them mostly using the Brush Guards, and they keep their shapes well between washing - no problems there at all. All of the ferrules fit very tight and snug on the handles, and so far I haven't experienced any issues with the letters rubbing off the handles (hello, Wayne Goss 06!).

As you can probably tell, I'm very happy with my purchase, and I enjoy using all of the Zoeva brushes I ordered. They are without a doubt better quality than the Sigma brushes I own, or even than my thus far unparalleled affordable favorite, the Bdellium Tools. I also think Zoeva has an edge over many other brush companies due to the variety of interesting brush shapes they have on offer, and they continue to further expand their brush line (for example, they now also offer many of their brushes in vegan bristles). I will definitely try to get my hands on some more of their brushes, maybe by requesting a couple from my mom in Poland for a birthday or Christmas gift - I'd rather not pay $16 in shipping again if I can avoid it ;) Have you tried Zoeva make-up brushes? Which ones do you reach for the most often?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Universal Lip Pencil: Milani Anti-Feathering Lipliner in Transparent

It seems that February would be the month of me going back on my word: 'I don't see the point of highlighters!', and yet I'm loving Laura Mercier Matte Radiance. 'I never use lip liners!', and here I am, launching into a lip pencil review. Please stay tuned for an upcoming rave on eyelash curlers and how I can't imagine my life without them... Just kidding, no, I'm still not converted to lash curling - but I almost had you there! ;)
Here's why I felt the need to fork out for this Milani Anti-Feathering Lipliner in Transparent 01 ($4.49 for 0.04 oz/ 1.2 g). As you may remember from this year's installment of Project Make A Dent, I've been trying to use up my Inglot Gel Lipstick no. 58, a bright berry shade. I don't have much problem with rocking bold lips even on an everyday basis, but I do have an issue with darker colors wearing off unevenly or slipping around too much on the lips. If I'm going to wear my bright raspberry without fear or second thought, I need to make sure it's not going anywhere - which is where a lip liner must come in.
I say 'must', because I've never been a fan of lining my lips; it takes more time, effort and expense (to buy matching lip liners to all your bold lipsticks? No thank you, I prefer to just buy more lipstick), and on top of that, most lip pencils are incredibly drying and uncomfortable. But you know what, this Milani Transparent Lipliner is really cool - clear, so it matches everything, quick and easy to apply, feels good on the lips, and definitely extends the wear of my bright lipsticks.
Milani claims this pencil can be used to outline your lips but also to fill them in, and that it can double as a lip primer; you do end up going through the pencil rather quickly this way. The texture of the product is quite hard in the bullet (it can crumble when freshly sharpened if you press down too hard!) but warms up as you're putting it on the lips, and it has a smooth but almost tacky feel to it. Think of it as a glue between the skin of your lips and the lip product you're putting on top: it's not oily or balmy but instead forms a layer for lipsticks or glosses to cling to. Throughout the day, it doesn't seem to wear off or absorb into the lips, making the creamy product worn on top feel more solid and less slippery, and depending on the lipstick formula, sometimes it can even slightly mattify the finish. There's no scent to the product but you do unfortunately have to sharpen your pencil.

Another huge advantage of this universal Milani Lipliner is that it doesn't exacerbate vertical lip lines and it doesn't dry out the lips - I wouldn't say it moisturizes them either, but due to high silicone and wax content, it acts almost like a seal to trap moisture inside your lips. Even with more drying lipstick formulas, I feel that by layering the clear lip liner underneath, my lips feel less parched by the end of the day.
Wearing Milani Anti-Feathering Lip Liner with Inglot Gel Lipstick no. 58. I'm not sure if you can see that, but the finish is a bit more satin than by wearing the lipstick on its own.
Overall, I wholeheartedly recommend this, and now I think I can't be without a lip priming product to wear with brighter shades. If you dislike the high maintenance that comes with fuschias, reds and burgundies, definitely look into the Transparent Anti-Feathering Lipliner - and even if doesn't turn out to be an absolute must-have for you personally, it's a small investment versus some other options from brands like MAC, Too Faced, Dior or Bite Beauty. How cool that Milani made such a product available in the drugstore, right?

How do you feel about lip liners and lip primers in general? Have you ever tried a clear lip liner, and if so, which brand is your favorite?

Monday, February 9, 2015

What I've Learnt About Myself Through Decluttering My Make-up Stash

After my last post in the Capsule Collection series, where I talked about my lifelong habit of saving my favorite things for later and trudging through blahs in the meantime, some of you lovely people suggested that maybe I just shouldn't use (and own) those mediocre products, full stop.
I can't lie, it's a valid point - so it prompted me to do another make-up and nail polish purge. But this time, I thought that instead of just documenting the stuff I'm getting rid of, I'll try to actually learn something about my product preferences in the process, so I may hopefully avoid poor purchasing decisions in the future. Here's what I've found out:
As a sweeping generalisation, I have a hard time getting rid of 'so-so' products - you know, the ones that don't suck really bad, but don't do if for you either - like this Murad Skin Perfecting Primer in the Matte Finish, but pretty much all of the things shown in this post fall in that category. Another important lesson: I don't use loose mineral products for cheeks or eyes (but I do make an exception for loose face powders or foundations). If it's in a messy little pot and I haven't yet been bothered to press it, it needs to go, as exemplified by the miscellaneous Coastal Scents blushes in the photo above - I actually used them a lot when I first got them, but they haven't been touched in 2 years probably!
The next lesson covers my shade selections: I don't look good in pigmented plummy blushes (NYX Powder Blush in Raisin). My skin has enough of a cool almost purpley undertone, so anything leaning plum/ purple makes me look a bit bruised. I also don't use or look good in warm bronze shades, which is why I'll be passing on my untouched sample of the Rouge Bunny Rouge Bronzing Glow Liquid.
Staying on the topic of cheek products, I haven't been able to part with this Bourjois Pastel Joues Blusher in Rouge Corail for years, even though I'm afraid to actually put it on my face. I stole this blush from my mom years ago, who purchased it in Paris even longer ago - I want to say this blush is now 16 years old? I was keeping it for sentimental reasons: it's the first blush I ever owned, and it came from my mom, and it had that delightful old school make-up scent... But I figured that if I wasn't able to wear it (because it was just too old for my tolerance levels, not because the formula changed), I should let it go, and that my photos are enough to convey the memory of this product forever without it taking space in my collection.
Now for the eyes: again with the warm gold and bronze tones (also... red eyeshadow?!), they just don't look right on my cool-toned skin (Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On Pencil in Eldorado, Wet n'Wild Khol in Bronze, a shimmery gold eyeshadow from Inglot) and I don't use loose mineral eyeshadows (Fyrinnae Kapir). There's also no sense in keeping eyeshadow dupes in an inferior formula (Annabelle Vanilla Chilla, a purple Wet n'Wild shade from one of the trios) - when am I ever going to reach for them? Certainly not when I finally use up the better eyeshadow these are dupes of, because... I never finish any eyeshadows.

I also need to remember that both cream eyeshadows and eyeliner pencils do dry out - so I shouldn't be stockpiling multiple shades. Ideally, I should only have as many on the go as I am able to use up within a year to two. Older than that, they become hard, stiff and difficult to apply. I'll be working on downsizing my eyeliner and cream eyeshadow collection further this year.
As for lip products - again with the dupable shades in an inferior formula (Wet n'Wild lipstick in Hot Paris Pink is nearly identical to my beloved Maybelline Color Sensational in First Class Fuschia), I'm just not going to get to them before they expire, so may as well let someone else enjoy them. As for lip glosses, my goal is to only keep a few around as I wear them much less often than lipsticks. My gloss preferences are as follows: I don't like lip glosses in pots where you have to dip your fingers in, I generally prefer no shimmer or glitter in my glosses unless it's undetectable on the lips, and I don't wear pigmented glosses in bold shades (NYX Mega Shine in African Queen) - they're just too messy.
Lastly, not too many lessons glimpsed through decluttering my nail polish stash - just again not to keep multiples of the same shade around, and that buying nail polish in little sets is a tricky business, because there's usually a shade or two in there that I don't like. For the same reason, I'm generally against beauty subscription services - you'll always end up with lots of minis that you have no idea what to do with, and they accumulate so fast; I still have my Birchbox samples that I received three years ago! I'd much rather save the money I would be spending on a subscription and just splurge on one full size product of my own choosing that I really want to try.

I've also realized, mostly through using up my make-up primer and perfume samples, that I tend to use very, very little product in one application. A 1 ml primer foil packet lasts me about 2 weeks, meaning that a standard 1 ounce/ 30 ml primer tube would be lasting me over a year of everyday usage, and I don't wear make-up every day; I'm sure the same applies to foundation for me. If I can only finish at most 1 bottle of foundation and primer in a year, I don't think I should be keeping more than two on hand at any given time. I don't know how realistic that is - I love trying new foundations, and I like to have different shade and finish options; but maybe having three would be an achievable middle ground? Either way, I need to keep in mind how slowly I go through my make-up products.

That's about it for now; it's amazing how many things you learn about yourself when you analyze your habits. Looking at my little list of preferences, I'm able to squash some lemmings in the bud: no Colour Pop eyeshadows until I use up some (at least two or three!) of my creams, none of these new liquid lipstick thingies from Anastasia or NYX because they're just too high maintenance! Do you also try to reason with yourself in a similar way when new products are being released? Have you observed that you now know more about your personal tastes than when you first started collecting make-up?

Friday, February 6, 2015

More Of a Good Thing: Rouge Bunny Rouge Eyeshadows in Snowy Egret, Sweet Dust Seriema and Chestnut Napped Apalis

Because having more of Rouge Bunny Rouge When Birds Are Singing Long Lasting Eyeshadows is... L♡VE? RBR eyeshadows were among some of my favorite make-up products I've tried in 2014, so I couldn't resist getting a few more when the brand debuted on HauteLook a couple months back. I had longed to try their Matt (sic!) formula, so I purchased Sweet Dust Seriema and Chestnut Napped Apalis ($25 for 0.08 oz/ 2.4g each), as well as another shimmery shade, Snowy Egret ($19 for 2g).
You have probably spotted right away the difference in size and price between these eyeshadows. The two matte shades I purchased are only available as single compacts, while Snowy Egret is available as a refill pan. All the shimmery shades from Rouge Bunny Rouge have slightly smaller pans than the matte single compacts. It's a bit confusing, and while in theory it's nice to get more for your buck, I wish the matte shades were the same standard size of a MAC eyeshadow, so I could plop them in my custom palette. As it is, I've depotted the single compacts and keep shuffling my two RBR mattes between different Z-Palettes (as a side note, melting the plastic underneath and piercing it with something sharp to wedge the pan up and out has worked great for me; I was also able to peel the labels off and stick them to my depotted pans without any problems).
Before we start swatching and comparing, I apologize for a slight lighting/ white balance discrepancy between the photos; I took these shots on two separate days and I'm guessing the temperature of the natural light I was working with must have been different. But I think that also shows you different aspects of these shades, no?
Let's begin with Snowy Egret (described as smoked palest gold iridescence), which is at once easy and difficult to review. Easy, because I knew right away that I would love the formula, having already experienced and loved four of the When Birds Are Singing Eyeshadows previously (click for my review and swatches of the shades Unforgettable Oriole, Bohemian Waxwing, Delicate Hummingbird and Eclipse Eagle). Difficult, because it's a rather complex shade. I would describe it as a very pale platinum with a white gold sheen.
When I took it out of the packaging, it immediately reminded me of Surratt Beauty Eyeshadow in Scintillante, and while they're not too far apart, Snowy Egret is warmer and has a stronger reflective quality, while Scintillante is more cool pink/ grey (well, for a white gold shade, anyway...) and has more of a subtle scattered sparkle finish.
L-R: RBR Snowy Egret, RBR Unforgettable Oriole, Surratt Scintillante, MAC Vex, NYX White Pearl
I'm sorry these swatched don't stand out very clearly on my skin, but I'm fair and they tend to blend in quite easily. You can see here that RBR Unforgettable Oriole is warmer, deeper and more of a champagne tone, but Snowy Egret is not a stark white either, compared to NYX White Pearl. I also shot these swatches in direct sunlight to show you the intensity and tone of shimmer in these shades (my usual swatches are in diffused natural light, by the way).
L-R: RBR Snowy Egret, RBR Unforgettable Oriole, Surratt Scintillante, MAC Vex, NYX White Pearl

Let's discuss matte Sweet Dust Seriema (semi-opaque cool dusty mauve taupe) next. I was very much looking forward to owning a basic cool-toned transition/blending eyeshadow shade, as many of the often recommended shades for that purpose run too warm and orange on me. But Sweet Dust Seriema is seriously cool-toned; it has that grey aspect of a natural shadow on the skin, but with enough mauve/ purple undertone to balance it out. It pairs beautiful with cooler shades on the lid, and I think that for pale and cool toned skinned like me, it could even work as a cheek contouring shade (because see how much cooler it is than NYX Powder Blush in Taupe?).
Now, in terms of formula and performance, the Rouge Bunny Rouge Matt eyeshadows really are as stellar as everyone else made them out to be. The texture of the powder in the pan is incredibly silky and smooth, so they apply and blend on the eye without any effort, and last an entire day. Compared to my other favorite matte eyeshadow formula from Inglot, the RBR shadows are slightly less opaque but also not as soft and powdery (less powder kick-up when picking the powder up with a brush or a finger). I'm not sure if I necessarily like them MORE than the Inglot; Inglot single pans are $6, RBR are $25. Both are stellar formulations, and I like how complimentary the RBR shades are compared to my Inglot counterparts. But if you're on a budget or don't have easy access to Rouge Bunny Rouge, you'll still be good with your Inglot Freedom System choices.
L-R: RBR Sweet Dust Seriema, Inglot Matte no. 337, Red Apple Lipstick Clean Slate, NYX Powder Blush in Taupe

Lastly, Chestnut-Napped Apalis (semi-opaque chestnut puree with a hint of cocoa dust... Say what?) is a fantastic neutral blending shade, running neither too warm or too cool. While I forgot to include that comparison in the photos, it is in fact a very similar shade to that NYX Taupe contouring shade - so yes, I'm sure it would double as a face sculpting powder on just about any skintone as well.
Compared here to some warmer matte medium brown shades, it stands out as the most cool-toned, but you could see how warm it looks against Sweet Dust Seriema. It's just a staple neutral brown, I think a must-have in a good eyeshadow collection. The formula is just as good as Sweet Dust Seriema. Love, love this shade, even though it seems like such a boring color - but it's hard to find something that's just right!
L-R: RBR Sweet Dust Seriema, Too Faced Velvet Revolver from the Natural Eyes palette, Annabelle So Foxy (similar to MAC Charcoal Brown), a medium brown from Physicians Formula Canyon Classics quad, Inglot Matte no. 344.
As you can probably tell, I'm very happy with the new additions to my Rouge Bunny Rouge eyeshadow family - I don't know if I need to have them all, but I can't rule out getting a few more shades in the future, even if that means depotting and defiling the beautiful packaging. I haven't yet met an RBR eyeshadow I was disappointed in. I hope this post was helpful to anyone looking for good transition mattes as well; I realize that my shade comparisons are somewhat limited as I can only compare to other things I own, but hopefully that gives you some idea about the shade depth and warmth. Rouge Bunny Rouge newbes, do you have any of these shades in your stash? RBR collectors, which shades am I missing from my line-up?