Sunday, September 29, 2013

Time For a Reality Check: The Year Long Ban

A fraction of the makeup portion of my collection...
I've known that my beauty shopping habits have become an addiction for awhile now. My makeup stash is out of control and I have way more product than I will ever use up. The picture above shows about 65% of my makeup collection. I'm too ashamed to show my entire collection in this post so you don't see my drugstore eyeshadows, blushes, bronzers, highlighers, base makeup and palettes. Don't get me started on the skincare backups, nail polish or pile of samples I have stowed away....

I spend not only an exorbitant amount of money on beauty related purchases but also a gross amount of time researching products and adding to a never-ending shopping list. Honestly it's embarrassing to own the amount of makeup I do which is one of the biggest reasons I hesitate to tell people in real life about my blog. I think of all the money I could be allocating to better causes and how much I am wasting since a good portion of my collection will expire before I can use it up.

I've embarked on things like Project 10 Pan and no buys before but those attempts have been mostly futile. This time is different though. I'm serious about actually using up products and halting my hoarding. So my year long beauty ban will start today. I am banning myself from buying all kinds of eye, cheek and lip makeup. I will also abstain from purchasing base products unless for some reason I happen to run out of a type of product like concealer or foundation (highly unlikely). 

A year and a half ago my lip product drawer was mostly empty....
After a year, I can only purchase something in the eye, cheek and lip categories if I have finished a product from said category. For example, I can only purchase a new cheek highlighter if I use up one from my collection. This will be extra incentive for me to stick to a few products and get them out of my stash. Exceptions to this ban are any press samples or sponsorship products that I am sent as well as any gifts or giftcards I might accrue from my birthday or Christmas. I might work retail and if I get discounts on cosmetics you know I'll use 'em! If I happen to travel abroad (this is probably very unlikely), I'll allow myself an exception as well. Also, I've been wanting to attend IMATS for years but never got a chance. If I attend the 2014 IMATS which will be in April, I'll allow myself to purchase some goodies. Perhaps whether I go to IMATS or not will depend on the success of this ban....

At the moment I am feeling very confident about this challenge (bar the exceptions) and hope this continues for the upcoming months. I know that even after a year I will hardly make a dent in my makeup drawers so perhaps this will be an ongoing project. But for now, here's to hoping that my collection does not grow for a year!

Do you ever think you have way too many beauty products? Did you ever consider a buying ban? How do you keep your beauty products from multiplying and growing out of control? 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

ELF Small Stipple Brush: The $3 Highlighting Brush

If you're starting out with makeup or you simply don't have a big beauty budget, some of the E.L.F Studio brushes are affordable and good quality enough to warrant a peek. I was looking for a small duo fiber brush for applying a light wash of face highlighter and knew that the E.L.F Small Stipple Brush was probably a good option. This brush is easily found at Target for a measly $3 or you can purchase it directly from the E.L.F website (where they often do discounts). 

The brush is indeed small and is the perfect size for placing color exactly where you want it on your face. I use this almost exclusively for cheek highlighting but you can also use this to place blush in a very small area of the face. The synthetic hairs are of medium density. They don't splay out everywhere when you press the brush against your face but aren't too stiff to make blending difficult. The beauty of a duo fiber brush lies in that the longer white bristles are the only ones that touch product, giving you better control over highly pigmented formulations.

Now, for $3 I can't really complain but you can tell this is not the highest quality brush. The shape of the brush is a bit off in that the hairs are sometimes arranged a bit wonky and not perfectly circular. The handle is lightweight which doesn't feel luxurious and the ferrule on some other E.L.F brushes have come apart before (nothing a little nail polish can't fix, though). If you're on a budget or don't care for pricey brushes, the E.L.F Small Stipple Brush is a great addition to your collection. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

In My Stash: (French) Hand Creams

Winter is coming. No seriously, winter is coming.... Well, fall has to arrive first but you get the idea. The temperature has been swiftly dropping in New York City and as someone with very dry body skin (had to specify body because my face is oily,. combination to dehydrated), I need to always have a tube of hand cream in my bag to prevent flaky, cracked skin. As it turns out, I have accumulated quite a few hand creams (none of which I actually bought) and they all happen to be French! Let's see what I think about each of them.

First we have the L'Occitane hand creams which I have used up time and time again. L'Occitane regularly has offers for a free hand cream so I got both of the ones shown above for free. The original Shea Butter Hand Cream is an oldie but a goodie that moisturizes well without leaving a slippery residue. The scent is nothing special though so I wouldn't buy the full size. The Pivoine Flora (Peony) Hand Cream is a much lighter consistency than the Shea Butter and has an amazing floral scent that I adore. The peony variation isn't as moisturizing but the scent and almost gel-like texture make it a dream to apply. Both of these tubes are the 1 ounce travel sizes and retail for $12. The 5.2 ounce full size tubes retail for $28.

The Clarins Hand and Nail Treatment Cream was a gift and not something I normally would have gravitated towards. The packaging is classic Clarins, rather plain but still elegant and it gets the message across. The cream smells like baby powder which I really like. It's a rather basic hand cream that gets the job done. The 1.7 ounce tube is $10 (not bad at all!) and the 3.5 ounce tube is $30. It's actually more worth it to buy three of the smaller tubes than to buy a large tube....

The Caudalie Hand and Nail Cream came in a gift set and it wasn't one of the main reasons why I wanted the set. Turns out, my lack of excitement was quite justified as this isn't one of my top picks for a moisturizing lotion. The formula is a cream but once rubbed into the skin, it seems to disappear. While it's a good thing my hands aren't greasy or slippery, my fingers don't feel much more moisturized. For a luxury brand, this was quite disappointing. A 2.5 ounce tube is $15.

Last but not least is the Nuxe RĂªve de Miel Hand and Nail Cream which was also part of a gift set. This hand cream is strongly fragranced like all the other Nuxe products in the line which you might love or hate. I'm quite ambivalent towards the scent but find it a tad too much. The cream glides onto the skin nicely but feels greasy for a minute or two before it fully sinks in. A 2.5 ounce tube is $19 which makes it quite expensive!

L'Occitane and Clarins both make hand creams that I would actually purchase and recommend to others. The Caudalie and Nuxe hand creams let me down and the price isn't backed up by the quality. Not all high end hand creams are made equal! What is your favorite hand cream?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Catrice Sun Glow Matt Bronzing Powder: Europe's Answer to NYC's Sunny Bronzer

I've said it before and I'll say it again but bronzer isn't a "must have" beauty product for me on an everyday basis. If I'm in a rush or I'm just not feeling it, I'll pass on bronzer and just apply some blush. But other times I get into the habit of wearing bronzer for weeks at a time and it's hard to put it down. The Catrice Sun Glow Matt Bronzing Powder was a surprising gem and one that I reached for days on end while I was testing it out. I've never tried NYC's Sunny Bronzer, the American drugstore cult favorite, but I like Catrice's bronzer so much that I don't really feel inclined to give Sunny a go.

The Catrice bronzer retails for about €5 (~$7) which is very reasonable for the quality of the product. The plastic case is sturdy and simple with a clear lid to help you quickly identify what shade you're reaching for. I appreciate the clear labeling on the back of the packaging with English translations. You get a good amount of product as well, 9.5 grams or .33 ounces. For comparison purposes, a Nars bronzer is only .28 ounces. 

Catrice offers their bronzer in two shades, 020 Deep Bronze and 030 Medium Bronze. Despite the numbering, 020 is actually the darker color and I chose it because 030 looked like it would have only suited me for a very brief window of time when my skin is very pale during the winter. I suppose 030 would suit fair skinned people in Europe a lot more since Catrice is a German brand and sold mostly in drugstores in Europe.

I mostly use bronzer to sculpt my cheekbones and nose to create more depth to my face rather than trying to make myself look darker. For this purpose, a matte bronzer is ideal because it creates a more natural illusion. Like the name suggests, the Catrice bronzer is indeed matte but not flat or dusty. The color is quite warm, almost veering into orange, but not so much that I look like an oompa loompa.

The powder is very finely milled and pigmented but not powdery or chalky. The consistency feels very high quality. A little goes a long way so you can really stretch out that €5. I like to swirl a fluffy brush into the compact and tap off excess product before buffing it into the hollows of my cheekbones.

Here you can see a full swipe of product on the left and how it looks sheered out on the right. Clearly the bronzer looks very stark against the inside of my arm (because who gets tan there?) but doesn't look too obvious once blended. In the summer time when I'm a bit tanner, this bronzer adds just enough color to make my face look more naturally contoured. It makes the slightest difference but one that I can see and really like.

For the lucky ones in the EU who have access to Catrice, I highly recommend the Sun Glow Matt Bronzing Powder. It's an affordable bronzer that is great for contouring and adding some warmth to your complexion. I almost wish I had started using this earlier in the summer so that I could have worn it more when I was a tad darker. What are your favorite drugstore bronzers? How do you like to apply your bronzing products?

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Fortnight Face #4: A Study in Contrasts

It's hard to believe that I've already been sticking to The Fortnight Face series for almost two months and I actually find myself wishing I can keep using certain products from the last pile of makeup picks. For the rest of September I'll be playing with some slightly contrasting shades and finishes that should still be easy to pull off. I find myself having only something like 15 minutes to put my face on these days so I'm often haphazardly slapping on product and hoping for the best. Thus, neutrals seem to be dominating yet another fortnight face. 

For cheeks I selected a matte muted plum blush, Wet n' Wild's Mellow Wine, and a shimmery peachy pink one, Becca's Flower Child. I opted for a sheer powder highlight in the form of Revlon ColorStay's Mineral Finishing Powder in Brighten and a matte bronzer, Bourjois' Delice de Poudre Bronzer. The highlighter is really subtle and looks nice paired with the matte blush. When I'm in a rush, a quick sweep of Flower Child should give my cheeks enough glow that I can skip highlighter. I don't see myself using bronzer a whole lot at the moment but I added it to the mix just in case and it multitasks as an eyeshadow.

For eyes I chose the MUA Undress Me Too Palette and the Bobbi Brown Cream Eyeshadow in Galaxy. The eyeshadow palette is a great mix of both warm and cool tone shades although cool tones seems to dominate a tiny bit more. For liner I picked out an old neglected E.L.F Essentials Shimmer Eyeliner in Boldly Bronzed (one of the first things I ever reviewed!) as well as my standard Physician's Formula Gel Liner in Black if I want a very clean liner look. I can also use the matte black eyeshadow in the palette for a smudgy liner look.

I'm rather excited about the lip products for this fortnight as it's all about going brightly bold or nicely nude. Firstly I had to toss in the Becca Ultimate Colour Gloss in Hotel California because I have yet to try this lip gloss that I chose from my last Apothica sponsorship shipment. This gloss is an incredibly seductive shade of red and I think it's so perfect for this time of year. I plan on wearing the gloss alone so I hope it's quite pigmented. In contrast to this daring red, I went for a sweet and safe old favorite, Mac's Cremesheen Glass in Fashion Whim. I usually want at least one non-fussy lip product that I can apply without constant touch ups and Soap & Glory's Sexy Mother Pucker Gloss Stick in Fuchsia-ristic is one I've been wanting to go back to. Last but not least is Nar's Cruising Lipstick which I will layer under Fashion Whim.  
How are you transitioning your makeup routine for fall?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Dry Flaky Lips Be Gone: Fresh Sugar Lip Polish

Fall is quickly approaching and with the dry air comes parched skin and flaky lips, two things that I do not want to have this year. Skincare is a whole 'nother post but for now I'll share an easy peasy lip treatment that will help your lips feel conditioned and smooth.

Way back when, Sephora was offering a mini Fresh Sugar Lip Polish with online orders so I jumped on the chance to try this for free rather than shell out the normal retail price of $22.50, yikes! A little goes a long way though so I suppose it might be worth your money if you enjoy a good lip exfoliant.

Brown sugar is blended with oils like jojoba and castor as well as shea butter and some other nourishing ingredients. The scrub is balmy in texture and the particles stick together so you won't get sugar scrumbs flying all over the place. The sugar is abrasive enough to get rid of small particles of dry skin but not painful as long as you gentle use your fingers to rub the product in circular motions.

The oils leave a Vaseline-like feeling on the lips that doesn't immediately rinse away with water. I would suggest using this in the evening or during the day if you don't plan on applying makeup right away. There is a greasy film that envelopes the lips and surrounding skin that will cause makeup to go on unevenly. The scrub smells similar to the Fresh lip balms, a nice citrus-y smell, which lingers for about as long as your lips are greasy.

While it's not a bad lip scrub by any means, the Fresh Sugar Lip Polish doesn't wow me enough to justify the price tag. It does it's job but the greasiness makes it hard to use in a jiffy if I want to get on with doing my makeup immediately. If you enjoy luxurious basics and like the scent of Fresh lip balms, you might enjoy this very much. What are your favorite lip scrubs? Do you think it's worth it to shell out the money for a sugar scrub that you could probably make in your kitchen?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Zoya Godiva: The Office Appropriate PixieDust

I've mentioned the office lady style here and there but I hadn't really thought about being an office lady, at least not at this point of my life. It turns out that I'll be swapping in my distressed denim and baggy sweaters for form fitting dresses and button ups for my new internship. When I think of an OL, I think of a classy, well kempt woman who wears her hair in a smart up-do and has a different pencil skirt for every day of the week. Working in a professional work place doesn't mean you have to dress in drab outfits but there are certain boundaries that should be observed. That being said, I present to you the fun Zoya PixieDust in Godiva, a subtle hint of sparkle to jazz up an OL's ensemble! 

Godiva was part of the Fall 2012 collection and is available on the Zoya website for $9. This was one of the shades I was most excited to try when Zoya had sent the collection to me because it goes with a lot of my neutral outfits and makeup looks. Unfortunately, Godiva is the sheerest PixieDust polish I have tried yet and needed four coats to be opaque. Usually I can get away with two coats and do a third for good measure with the PixieDust formula. The fourth coat meant a longer drying time and the thicker layer increased the odds of smudging or denting my polish.

If you like the sparkle of PixieDust polishes but aren't a fan of loud colors, Godiva might be worth getting. It looks very pretty in the sunlight which makes up for the sheer formula. I love that I can wear a bit of bling on my nails without drawing too much attention. What do you think of Godiva? What's your favorite PixieDust shade that you've seen or tried?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Intro To Asian Eyeshadows: Kate Shiny Eyes in BR-1

Many of the first Youtubers and bloggers that I learned from at the start of my foray into beauty were Asian and unsurprisingly they featured Asian cosmetics brands from time to time. I lusted after brands like Kate, Majolica Majorca, Visee and others but it was difficult to get a hold of these elusive products without the help of the internet or a friend from abroad. So I waited and waited and eventually my fascination with Asian makeup subsided a bit in favor of brands I could easily find at Sephora or boutiques around New York. Thus I made it a mission to scour Asia for makeup products that I have been waiting to buy for literally years!

Kate is a Japanese drugstore brand that can be found throughout Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong but comes with a somewhat hefty price tag. Makeup is not cheap in Malaysia or Singapore at all (Hong Kong fares a bit better), even if the brands are from the drugstore. I picked up the Kate Shiny Eyes trio in a department store called John Little in Singapore. The palette retails for 23.50 SGD but John Little was offering 20% off all cosmetics so I paid 18.80 SGD ($14.65). Kanebo (the parent company of Kate) sells the trios for $23 (shipping not included) on Amazon but Adam Beauty has the best price of 90 HKD ($11.60). I should I have done more research before making my purchase but at least I didn't have to wait for shipping nor deal with the anxiety of having packages shipped from across the globe. There is 3.2 grams of product in total but it seems like the middle shade has a bigger pan than the other shades so I am not sure how much each individual shadow weighs.

Asian eyeshadows are typically very luminous and shimmery. Mattes are not very popular in Asian cosmetics while glitter is not uncommon. I think the popularity of shimmery finishes has something to do with the flatness of Asian faces and the desire to bring out the features using iridescent colors. Color schemes are often very neutral and wearable in Asian palettes as well.

I chose BR-1 because I could see myself wearing all three colors everyday. The first shade is a tan brown shade with fine shimmers and a smooth texture. The middle shade is a glittery pale pink that has a bit of fall out but nothing a few taps of a brush can't fix. The right most shade is a very deep brown with gold flecks of sparkle. All three shades are buttery and pigmented when swatched. I like to use the tan shade all over the lid, the pale pink in the inner corner and the darkest shade as liner. Wetting a liner brush and dipping it into the darkest color produces a very nice liner. I prefer to add a matte brown shadow in the outer corner and slightly in the crease to offset all the shimmer.

The Kate Shiny Eyes will not be everyone's cup of tea, especially not in the US market, due to the super shimmery finish of every shade. The quality of these shadows is good if you don't mind tapping off your brush to get rid of glitter particles. The price is a bit high compared to drugstore products in the states but it's comparable to the prices of cosmetics in Asia. While I'm not rushing out to haul all the colors in this range, I can definitely see myself using the BR-1 palette quite a lot and am happy to have finally added a Kate product to  my collection!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Etude House Sweet Recipe Cupcake All Over Color in Orange Choux

Etude House designs incredibly adorable cosmetics and their Sweet Recipe Cupcake All Over Colors are a really nice addition to any collection. The All Over Colors are meant to be multi-tasking and can be used on the eyes, lips and cheeks. I can't speak much about the effectiveness of this product on the eyes or lips but as a cream blush, it's great!

The Sweet Recipe Cupcake All Over Colors come in five shades: lilac, pink, red, orange and tangerine. I chose the tangerine shade as it seemed the most wearable for my warm toned skin. I purchased mine in the Etude House boutique in Kuala Lumpur's Time Square shopping mall for somewhere around $10. Sellers on Amazon offer the All Over Colors for around the same price.

The packaging is extremely adorable and each tub is color coordinated with the shade of the product. However, considering cream products have a tendency to dry out, this metal container is not conducive to keeping the product moist. I prefer flip top packaging for my cosmetics as I think it makes opening and closing things quicker and more efficient. You get a whopping 10 grams of product which is more than double that of a normal cream blush. The blush has a really pleasant peach scent.

The texture of the product is quite firm and dry compared to other cream blushes I have tried. But rubbing gently with a finger yields nice color payoff and has a nice translucent, jelly-like look. My preferred method of application is with the Real Techniques Stippling Brush because it picks up just enough product and blends it into the skin seamlessly. I like to take a bit of product and blend it in so that there are no harsh edges before building up the color. This can definitely be a dramatic blush if you want it to be but one layer of product creates a very natural look. The blush lasts practically all day on my skin with minimal fading.

Overall, I really enjoy this adorable product from Etude House. The price is decent and actually very generous considering how long this product can last you. The Orange Choux color is probably the easiest to pull off for those with a similar skin tone to me but I can see the Pink and Tangerine variations to be quite practical as well. Have you tried anything from Etude House? What cosmetics products have the cutest packaging?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Asia Beauty Haul Pt. 3: Lashes, Tools and Misc. Items

Finally here's the last installment of my collective Asia beauty haul and I'm happy to get this belated post finally up! The rest of my beauty haulings are comprised of accessories and miscellaneous things that I mostly stocked up on because they were either Asia exclusive or really well priced.

I got some Sasatinnie Cotton Puffs and Suzuran Attirer Puffs because I prefer Asian cotton pads. The Sasatinnie ones are pretty meh because the wool falls apart easily but the pack was about $2 so I can't complain too much. I have more hope for the Suzuran puffs which are highly raved about and also around $2.

I ran out of blotting papers in Malaysia so I just grabbed the Cosmos Oil Blotting Sheets from Sasa. They get the job done but I much prefer the Clean & Clear Oil Blotting Sheets. I bought two packs of the limited edition, Asia-exclusive pink grapefruit scented Clean & Clear sheets as well as one pack of the regular ones. The Clean & Clear sheets are only about $2 in Asia whereas they're $6 in the states!

I got two kinds of the Rohto Eyedrops in moisture and cool for contact lenses. I usually find myself with irritated eyes and no eye drops in sight so I thought I would try these out. The cooling version imparts a minty (burning) sensation while the moisture one is like regular eye drops. I love the packaging on these!

My Koji Eyelash Curler has served me well for about four years so I picked up a Shiseido Eyelash Curler at Bonjour for less than $10! It's pretty much the same as the Koji lash curler in my opinion but it's nice to try something new once in awhile. I should have also bought the Shu Uemura lash curler because it sold for only 90 HKD (a little more than $10).

I started watching Hong Kong beauty Youtubers a few months back which is where I found out about Three Pretty Makeup Sponges. I bought the medium and large sized sponges from Sasa and they were incredibly inexpensive. The medium sponge was less than $1 and the large was just a tad over $1. These are really great sponges and I will probably feature them on the blog again at some point.

Lastly I stocked up on some lashes because they're plentiful in Asia and quite inexpensive. In Malaysia I bought three pairs of Daiso Lashes. Everything in Malaysia's Daiso is RM 5 ($1 = RM 3) so three pairs of lashes cost me $5. All three pairs I chose were criss cross type and seem pretty natural. At Bonjour in Hong Kong I thought the Luminous Change Eyelashes in 01 looked quite nice and picked them up since they were only a bit more than $10 for five pairs of lashes. In Argyle Center mall in Mongkok, I luckily found a store selling three boxes of Taiwanese Handmade Lashes for 50 HKD! What a bargain! That's $6.45 at the current exchange rate and each box has 10 pairs of lashes! I wish they had more natural styles to choose from but I ended up choosing three types of wispy lashes that kind of all look the same. I guess I'm set in the lashes department for years to come!

Watch the haul video to get a better look at all of the products!

What looks the most interesting to you from this haul? Do you usually haul a lot of beauty goodies when you go abroad?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Fortnight Face #3: Back in Business

My last fall semester of school has just started and it's always important to make good first impressions so I've gathered mostly neutral, tried-and-true products to get me through the first few weeks. I'm also beginning a new internship so I want to look put together but not overly made up for the office. The first two fortnight faces featured mostly peaches, oranges and warm tones to celebrate the last of summer but as fall comes around, a cooler color scheme is needed. Let's see what I have to work with for the next fortnight!

I whipped out my Too Faced Enchanted Glamourland Palette (LE from Holiday 2010) because it simply hasn't gotten much love in three years. The blush in the palette is La Vie En Rose, a shimmery pink that will pair nicely with any natural look and the Sun Bunny Bronzer will function as my highlight. I threw in the Catrice Sun Glow Matt Bronzing Powder in 020 Deep Bronze so I can contour as well as the Majolica Majorca Creme de Cheek Blush in PK312 in case I want a non shimmery blush. 

The palette also holds 15 eyeshadows that I can liven up my looks. The matte shades will be perfect for daily wear, specifically In The Buff, Velvet Revolver, and Teddy Bear. The fun purple, pink, teal and smokier shades will be fun to play with on the weekends.

To go with the shadows in the palette, I have some staple eye products that are non fussy and fool proof. I haven't used the Revlon Satin Single Eyeshadow in Nude Slip in awhile but it's one of my favorite drugstore neutral shadows. I've also sang my praises for the Kiko Long Lasting Stick Eyeshadow in 05 Rosy Brown time and time again so it needs no introduction. Lastly is the Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow in RSVP which I have used so many times yet have failed to make a dent in. For eyeliner I'm keeping things basic with the Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On Pencil in Zero and the Milani Liquif'Eye Pencil in Brown

I'm keeping the lip products to a minimum and only have given myself the choice of two lipsticks and a single lipgloss. Mac's Supreme Sheen Lipstick in Bare Again just screams OL (office lady) to me and goes perfectly with an abundance of looks. If I want a brighter but still wearable lip color I'll opt for Dior's Addict lipstick in Dior Kiss. When I tie up my hair I fancy a bit of lipgloss because I don't have to worry about my locks smearing sticky product all over my face so I chose Mac's Plushglass in Ample Pink. I'm curious to see how Ample Pink will look over the lipsticks as I've only worn it by itself in the past.

Fortnight Faces have been really fun to put together and it's nice to pare down my collection and focus on a few products for a few days. It's so easy to get lost in the clutter of a beauty addict's collection and at times I've struggled to put together a look because I have way too many choices. How are you transitioning your makeup from summer to fall this year?