Saturday, March 28, 2015

Two New-ish Shiseido Cream Shadows & A Favorite Taupe Combo

Last year I reviewed four shades of the Shisheido Cream Eye Colors* and I'm happy to report they've added a few new colors for this spring. I was given BR727 (Fog) and VI226 (Lavande) and I was so excited to see a taupe and lilac added to this range. As a quick recap, these shadows contain 6 grams of product for $25. There are currently 27 shades in the line up to choose from.

If you haven't felt the Shiseido Shimmering Cream Eye Colors, you should try to find a counter to swatch these. The texture is very lightweight and silky so the cream never drags on the skin. These are still the smoothest cream eyeshadows I have had the pleasure of swatching. The color payoff is quite sheer compared to other cream eyeshadows. You can see above that one swipe of each color yields mostly shimmer with a bit of pigment. This is not necessarily a bad thing because the shimmer is not chunky or glittery. I can't feel the shimmers on my skin when I wear these shadows. The shadows reflect light in a way that makes the eyelids shine but without looking garish or oily. 

My preferred method of wearing these is under powder eyeshadow. Fog is a rather cool toned taupe that doesn't always look great on my warm skin tone so I layered it under the bronze taupe in the Nars Kalahari Eyeshadow Duo. I apply the cream shadow all over my lid, blend the edges with the darker color in the Nars duo and generously pat the bronze shade on the lid where the cream shadow is. I love this combination so much that I've been wearing it pretty much everyday this past week. This look lasts about 10 hours on my eyelids before I noticed creasing.

This is my current favorite taupe combination at the moment. On the left is Shiseido's Fog, the right is Nars' Kalahari (left side of duo) and the middle is Kalahari over Fog. How gorgeous is that metallic taupe? The shade is not too cool nor warm and doesn't lean purple like most of the taupes in my collection. Now I need to find a shadow that looks like this combination....

I'm happy to report the new shades of the Shiseido Shimmering Cream Eye Colors are worth a look. They might not be everyone's cup of tea given the somewhat sheer payoff but the formula and fine sparkles give these a special place in my collection. Have you tried the Shiseido cream eyeshadows? What do you think of my new-found taupe combination?

*These products were provided by PR. I was not obligated to review these and all opinions are my own.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Adorably Mini High-End Lipsticks: Marc Jacobs, Givenchy and MUFE

They say the best things in life are free and while I don't always believe that saying, I'm not one to complain about free stuff, especially when it comes to makeup. I'm prone to getting sucked into rewards points and all of those promotions that retailers offer and while I know the Sephora Beauty Insider point system is a bit of a rip-off, they have some great gifts sometimes. I always save up my points and trade them in for the high end makeup samples that I probably wouldn't use up the full size of anyway. Two of these lippies were Sephora 100-point perks and the Make Up For Ever one was last year's birthday gift.

Besides being incredibly cute, mini lipsticks are a fantastic way of trying out a formula and color that you might not usually go for. This is especially important when it comes to the pricier brands since I would never use a tester on my lips. The Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Creme in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is the newest release out of the three. This was my first time trying a Marc Jacobs makeup product and I love that the mini looks like the full size tube. The color in the photo looks more warm than the lipstick appears in real life. It's actually more of a midtone mauve plum. I read a lot of good reviews about the Givenchy Le Rouge Lipsticks and Rose Dressing is a gorgeous vibrant, creamy pink. Most of you probably have MUFE's Rouge Artist Natural Lipstick in N9 as it was the Beauty Insider birthday gift last year. It's a brown color that looks pretty intimidating in the bullet.

Above are skin swatches to give you an idea of the color payoff and finish of the three lipsticks. I believe Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Rose Dressing were both one swipe where as N9 needed two or three passes. The Marc Jacobs lipstick has a semi matte finish and goes on extremely pigmented. The color is deeper than what I normally would go for so I haven't reached for it much. The Givenchy lipstick is also very pigmented but the finish is more creamy and lends a bit of shine. On me, the lipstick looked very bright and a bit garish. The formula was very moisturizing and seemed to sink into my lip lines a bit. Surprisingly, the MUFE lipstick is the most wearable as it's less opaque in one swipe and has a more balmy texture. The color deepens my lip color and it's an interesting look I've never tried. My boyfriend thinks I look like a librarian when I where it though so it definitely ages me.

None of these lipsticks were total standouts or must haves for me but I'm glad I got to try them without having to pay upwards of $30 for one. I highly recommend saving up those Sephora points and waiting for things you wouldn't necessarily buy so you can venture out of your comfort zone without fear of wasting money.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Project Make a Dent: 3.5 Month Update

At the beginning of December, I took on the Project Make a Dent challenge, not knowing how successful I would be at sticking to a handful of products for an extended period of time. Not surprisingly, I haven't made a ton of progress in three and a half months although that doesn't mean I haven't made any.

One product has completely vanished from the picture, the Physician's Formula Gel Liner became too dry and flaky after awhile and I had used up most of it. I threw that away and started using the Mac Fluidline in Blacktrack which I'm enjoying much more. I've used the Korres Lip Butter in Jasmine maybe a dozen times or so and it looks the way it does because I wanted to get a better idea of how much product I had left in the tub. Turns out I have a lot more product left to whittle down.

I haven't used the Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream much but somehow I've used up almost all of it and only have a bit left. I squirted it all out into a tiny sample jar to see how much I had left. I like to mix this BB cream with other foundations and BB creams to get a bit more coverage and staying power. I'm excited to finally chuck this empty tube and it's rare for me to finish a base product in its entirety.

Now for something more exciting: pan! After months of dedication toward Benefit's Hoola Bronzer in the mini size, I finally hit pan last week. Since I took the picture a few days ago, the pan has gotten a bit bigger. This is the Benefit Powda Wowza Palette which came out a few years ago. I've been using Coralista, the peachy shade, quite often as well and suspect pan is not too far off. Even though these are only .1 ounce pans, they last a very long time, even when I generously load up my brush with product. I still think Benefit's powders are too powdery for a high end product but Hoola has grown on me and is a nice contour shade for my complexion.

I switched up some of the shades in my Z-Palette since my initial post. I kept the Rimmel Santa Rose Blush, Wet n' Wild matte eyeshadows, shimmery peach Wet n' Wild shadow and Revlon burgundy shade. At one point I put in a few Mac eyeshadows as well. I was very loyal to Santa Rose for a few weeks because it goes with everything and is a pleasure to use. I've used enough of it to the point where you can't see the crown logo anymore. The large neutral shadow pan is Revlon's Nude Slip, one of my all time favorite eyeshadows ever. It's a shame that Revlon discontinued this color because it looks stunning. The formula is velvety smooth and the shimmer is refined. It seriously rivals my high end shadows and I can't get enough of it. I wouldn't say I've made a dent in Nude Slip but you can definitely tell it's gotten some love. 

I'll do another update in a couple of months and hopefully by then Hoola will be completely done and I can add in a new bronzer to this challenge. I don't think I've slowed down the rate at which I'm accumulating products but at least I'm using some up! 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Shiseido Ibuki Multi Solution Gel: Secret to Bouncy Skin?

When I think of Shiseido skincare, I usually think of anti-aging or brightening products but one of the brand's newest arrivals is meant to combat acne and other skin troubles. The Shiseido Ibuki Multi Solution Gel* is meant to soothe roughness, heal acne and diminish the look of pores. I'm very acne-prone so I was interested to see if this gel would be strong enough to tackle some of my tough spots. 

The gel is housed in a tiny capsule jar and costs $38 for one ounce of product. The jar is admittedly adorable but not the most efficient way of handling an acne treatment due to the possibility of contamination. I think this gel would have been better packaged in a squeeze tube. Shiseido claims this gel will help your skin "bounce back" and the jar packaging does show the interesting consistency of the product which is why I think they chose it over a more efficient tube. 

It's hard to describe the bouncy texture of the gel but essentially, when you dip your finger in or cause an aberration in the pot, within seconds, the gel will "heal" and return to its smooth state. It's quite fun to look at. The gel is lightweight and does not feel greasy or very much like silicone (although dimethicone is one of the ingredients). The gel smoothes onto the skin easily and is meant to be used as the last step of your skincare routine. You can also use it over makeup in case you feel a breakout about to make an appearance. I personally have not used this over makeup but can imagine it being light enough to not disturb foundation or powder if you use a small amount of gel. I find that this gel dries down quite slowly and remains wet for a minute after application. Thus, I don't tend to use it under makeup and use this only at night or on no-makeup days. This leaves no visible trace on the skin so it's perfect for those who want to reapply throughout the day. The formula feels very gentle to my skin and doesn't bring about any tingling or burning sensations that some acne treatments cause. 

This gel is handy for minor clogged pores and very small acne situations but not something suitable for pimples or larger problems. The main active ingredient is .5% salicylic acid so this is a good option for those who cannot tolerate higher doses. While I don't think this is a holy grail acne treatment for me and it doesn't work quickly enough to help my skin bounce back from emergencies, it's something worthwhile for more sensitive skinned people to take a look at.

*I was provided this product for free by PR and was not obligated to review it. All thoughts are my own and 100% honest.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Barneys Beauty Haul: Nars, Tatcha and the Spring 2015 GWP

Run, don't walk, to your nearest Barney's to get ahold of their spring beauty event gift with purchase - today is the final day! With a $200 purchase, you get a slew of deluxe sized samples. I placed my pre-order weeks ago with the manager of the Nars counter at the New York location and had a great experience. Here's a look at the gift with purchase and all the mini goodies you get with a roomy travel bag. Sometimes I've found gift with purchase bags to be shoddy and ugly but I actually really like this one. It has a denim exterior and a plastic lining on the inside which makes it easier to clean. I think this is a very well-rounded bag because there's not too much of one category. I'm particularly excited to try the makeup and the skincare products. The Rituals shower foam is a full size and you might remember I named it a favorite two years ago. It's the same exact scent that I bought the first time around so smelling this again reminds me of when I studied in Amsterdam, bonus! 

I didn't need anything but I wanted to take this opportunity to purchase some Nars goodies that I've been eyeing for a long time. Also, I figured now would be a great time to purchase a full size of the Tatcha Gentle Enzyme Powder because I loved the sample so much.

Have you ever bought a makeup product just because of the shade name? That's the reason why I couldn't stop thinking about Nars' eyeshadow duo in Kuala Lumpur for literally years. My parents were born and raised in Malaysia so an eyeshadow with the name of the country's capital needed a place in my stash. Luckily for me, the shades are a wearable rose gold and a lovely burgundy so I can justify the purchase. There's a duo called Kauai, the Hawaiian island my boyfriend and I fell head over heels for last year, but the shades are not ones I would reach for regularly.                     

I have a few Nars blushes but none of their bronzers so I opted for the Contouring powder in Paloma which is a lovely cool toned bronzer and a flesh toned highlight. Honestly I don't know if I'll use the highlight shade as I prefer ones with some shine but the darker shade is just perfect for chiseling out some cheekbones.

My final Nars purchases were two of their relatively new Audacious lipsticks. I purposely chose a wearable peachy shade, Julie, and a bright red, Carmen, to see how the shades compare. I have this need to own even numbers of products whether it be two or ten of the same product but in different colors. Only after I purchased these did I realize these two shades are exclusive to Barneys which is perfect. 

I received a few gift with purchase goodies on top of the gift bag for purchasing over $125 in Nars products as well. I'm super stoked about the mini blush in Orgasm because it's probably the most well-known blush of this decade and I've never tried it before. The Satin lip pencil in Rikugien will be interesting to try out as well since I've restrained myself from getting any of those in the past due to the lack of twist-up packaging. Rikugien is also the shade of one birthday gifts from Sephora this year. I also received a mini Orgasm lipgloss, nail polish, sample eye primer and brightening serum in addition to a small travel bag.

This was my first time participating in the Barneys beauty event and I have to be honest that I was somewhat anxious due to the whole pre-ordering bit. But everything turned out to be amazing and I had such a good experience with the Nars manager who helped me out. Barneys does a fall beauty event as well so if you're not ready to plop $200 right now, just wait a few months. I'll be sure to keep an eye out for that event and perhaps stock up on some Tatcha skincare. Hope you liked this peek at one of the largest all-in-one hauls I've done in a long time and stay tuned for separate reviews and swatches of all my new Nars goodies!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Beauteque March 2015 BB Bag

Asian beauty products never fail to surprise or confuse me and I'm usually game to try the newest fad. I was pretty stoked when I was contacted by a company called Beauteque to see if I wanted to try out their monthly beauty bag. The Beauteque BB Bag is a monthly subscription service that includes seven to eight full sized Asian beauty products in each bag. Each month costs $24 plus shipping which is a pretty good deal considering the number of products you receive. 

This month's bag included seven products from skincare to makeup. The package itself arrives in a bubble mailer which isn't the best form of packaging for this kinds of shipments. You can see the postcard above is a bit bent from transit. Some of the smaller products were placed inside a reusable makeup pouch. This month, the pouch had lipstick motifs on it which isn't exactly my style. The bag itself also smelled strongly of chemicals or some kind of manufacturing scent which was off-putting. These negatives aside, the products that arrived in the bag are quite intriguing. There were two full sized skincare items from The Face Shop, a well known Korean beauty brand, which is quite impressive. There were also two single use sheet masks for the hands and hair which is great for those who like to try out Asian masks. 

The two products that caught my attention the most were the Beauteque Pore Control Blackhead Brush and Etude House Eyeshadow. I've seen these pore brushes before but never bought one because I wasn't sure if it would work. The synthetic bristles are very soft and the brush itself is well constructed. I'm excited to give this a go and see how it works at exfoliating my blackheads away. 

The Etude House eyeshadow is from their Look at My Eyes Cafe series and is in the shade Sweet Potato Latte. It is a very unique shade that I don't have in my collection already. The finish is satin and I surmise this would make a very interesting crease shade. The pigmentation is good, not buttery rich and amazing, but definitely usable.

The strangest product in the bag was the Mizon Firming Simple Modeling Cup Pack. Maybe it's just the awkward translation that has me confused about this product. It's essentially a powder that you mix with water to transform into a gel mask. Mizon is famous for their snail skincare and is a pretty popular brand so I'm not too adverse to try this. 

If you're looking to dip your toes into Asian beauty, especially Korean brands, I think the Beauteque BB Bag is a good way to try a range of products. I like that they include well-known brands as well as several full sized products. I do think $24 and shipping is a tad much for a monthly subscription but the value in the bag is more than the price you pay (as with most subscription services). What do you think of Beauteque? Which of these items would you be most excited about?

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Beautylish Haul: Chikuhodo and Rae Morris Eye Brushes

I recently gave away and threw out old brushes in my collection that just weren't cutting it anymore. After purchasing my first Japanese-made brushes by Hakuhodo, Wayne Goss and Chikuhodo last year, I couldn't stop thinking about expanding my brush collection to include more blue squirrel and goat hair brushes. Beautylish just started carrying Rae Morris, an Australian brand founded by a famous makeup artist by the same name, that I have been eyeing for a long time but never ordered from due to the pricey international shipping. Forty-eight hours after placing my order, I had four new eyeshadow brushes to try out! 

**UPDATE 3/14/15: In the end, I sent the Rae Morris brushes back to be returned. I just couldn't justify the cost of two sub-par, scratchy brushes that were a literal pain to use.**

First off, let's look at the size comparisons between Rae Morris and Chikuhodo as compared to a Mac brush. The Chikuhodo GSN series features a very long white handle and a gold ferule. I love the white and gold combination but I don't like such a long handle. The Rae Morris brushes are absolutely teeny in comparison. I like the wooden looking handles but they're not weighty at all. At the end there is a metal component which helps it stick onto the magnetic plate that Rae Morris designed so that you can stick all your brushes upright. The magnets of the brushes actually stick together so sometimes when I grab one from my brush holder (not the plate), it will pull out the other brush as well. This is quite annoying and not a feature I find very useful. 

Rae Morris has excellent packaging for her brushes. Each brush comes in a plastic airtight sleeve with some information about the brand on the back. I wish Rae Morris would have stated where these brushes were manufactured more clearly. I had mistakenly assumed that these were Japanese brushes but I had to go on her website to investigate. It turns out the brushes are manufactured in China. This information is nowhere to be found on the packaging or on the Beautylish website from what I saw.

Onto the individual brush reviews and comparisons.... My favorite brush out of the four is the Chikuhodo GSN-09. This blue squirrel brush is $25 and as soft as my Wayne Goss eyeshadow brush. The shape is a cross between the Mac 239 and Mac 217 brushes. In the above picture, you can see the brush compared to the Mac 217. It has a long flat shape that makes it good for sweeping shadow all over the lids. It does not fan out so it doesn't make a great blending brush if you have more than one color on the eyes.

The Chikuhodo GSN-10 brush is a goat hair brush that I thought was similar to the Mac 217 however it is more rounded and not pinched at the ferule. This $21 brush is actually more similar in size and shape to my Wayne Goss 04 brush but obviously not as soft due to the hair. The GSN-10 is a good all over blending brush and I've used this as a last step blending brush. 

I wanted the Rae Morris #12 Lash Line Smudger brush because I thought it would be nearly identical to the Mac 239 brush. As you can see, the two are very similar. The Rae Morris brush is $22 and made of blue squirrel hair. However, with both the Rae Morris brushes I purchased, the blue squirrel hairs are definitely not as soft as my Wayne Goss or Chikuhodo blue squirrel hairs. With the Rae Morris #12, the soft-factor isn't as important since I use this brush to pack product onto my eyelids. 

However, with the Rae Morris #9 Detail Point Shader, the lack of softness is an issue. Here I've compared the Rae Morris #9 (right) to the Wayne Goss 04 brush. The Rae Morris brush is $25 but I'd say save that money to buy the Wayne Goss brush for $28 instead. Although both brushes are blue squirrel, the Rae Morris brush feels scratchy on the eyelids at times whereas the Wayne Goss brush is like silk. I wanted the Rae Morris #9 because it's more narrow and smaller so it would be great for placing color into my small socket area. It works but it's not great and for the price, I was expecting better quality.

Watch the video below to see the brushes in more detail!

I have to be honest and say I was disappointed in the Rae Morris brushes. The bristle quality was not what I was expecting and it's not nearly as good as other brands in the same price range. I'd say the Chikuhodo GSN-09 brush is worthy of a spot in everyone's brush collection and I'm happy to have it in mine. I hope to purchase some Hakuhodo brushes in the near future so hopefully I'll have better luck with those. What are your favorite eyeshadow brushes?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Additions to My Inglot Eyeshadow Stash: A Duo or Quad?

Inglot is one of those makeup brands that was hyped up for a period of time only to be forgotten by beauty bloggers and Youtubers a few months later. I purchased my first 10 pan palette exactly four years ago when it cost $50 and was only available in the elusive Inglot free standing stores. Now it's $86 for the 10 pan palette and available online and even at Macy's. I've been meaning to build another Freedom System eyeshadow palette with some matte neutrals and finally willed myself to go to Macy's and spend a gift card that I had been saving. 

My main purpose for building this palette was so I could have a few staple mattes for traveling. I find most palettes to be too bulky or lacking in matte shades for the crease and outer corner so I wanted a small compact that I could pair with other shimmery singles or duos. 

The Inglot Rainbow Eyeshadows are a fantastic space saver because it feature three shades in a single pan. These hold 2.5 grams of product and cost $9. I chose the shade 107, a trio of brown neutrals that will be perfect for a simple eye look. I could even use the darker shades to fill in my brows. For my other pick, I went for a shimmery beige called AMC Shine 154. The regular pans cost $7 each and the AMC Shine shadows contain 3.2 grams. The palette itself cost me $8 so in total this duo (or quad) was $24.

The shimmery beige is a beautiful all over lid color with a slightly metallic finish. It is not glittery whatsoever and swatches smooth and buttery. The matte shadows are also pigmented and smooth but not nearly as buttery. They lack the rich, blendable texture that I've felt in Tom Ford or Hourglass' matte eyeshadows. You can see how the color kind of sits where I started swiping my finger whereas the shimmer shade blends out more evenly. But considering the price for three shades, I'm still very pleased with these.

I wanted to wrap up this review with a little note on the Inglot packaging. They've definitely made some slight adjustments since I bought my first palette. The shadow pans used to be housed in plastic clamshell packaging like most other shadow pans. Now they are enclosed in vacuum sealed plastic pods like medicine. I kind of like this packaging as I imagine the shadows are safer in transit and it prevents contamination. The palette itself is also ever so slightly different. The older palette I have seems to be slightly heavier and the magnets are stronger. The magnets now are weaker which is good because it's easier to open and close the palette but it can pose a problem if the lid comes off in transit. Hopefully that won't happen....

Another thing to point out is that for some reason I never thought of taking a magnet from my fridge to pop out the shadows from the palettes. I did a whole post about how I used a small pin to depot my first palette since the sales assistant placed my shadows in without asking me how I wanted them. This time around I asked the sales assistant if they sold a special magnetic tool to get the shadows out. She told me any magnet would do and it hit me that while I've tried the whole lid trick as some people have showed online, I don't think I've ever come across someone who suggested just using a strong magnet from your fridge. Well, lo and behold, I had a pretty strong magnet and it did the trick! So now I can interchange the shadows I already had into my duo palette for travel! Let me know if I was the last person on the planet to think about using a regular magnet.... I honestly love this mechanism for keeping the shadows in the palette because it's so seamless and clean rather than having wells or pop-out mechanisms.

What do you think of Inglot's Freedom System concept? Have you tried any of their eyeshadows?