Saturday, February 27, 2016

January/February 2016 Declutter and Empties

My blog ramblings have been fewer and farther between lately because there's been a lot going on outside of what I share online. But I've still been diligent in hoarding my empty containers and regularly combing through my collection to weed out the unwanted items. I've been getting increasingly good at letting go of unloved makeup in my collection. Now, that doesn't mean I'm giving away all but three blushes or anything. Nonetheless, I'm steadily streamlining my stash nearly every month which is a good thing. For these posts the photos serve as little reminders to myself of what I've had and let go or thrown out. If I don't provide a mini review for a particular product, feel free to ask me in the comments if you'd like to know my thoughts on something.

Above are some of the latest makeup bits I've decided I won't miss and will get more use from other people. In particular, I'm patting myself on the back for destashing the Catrice blush in Apropos Apricot because I had all six blushes in the range and I used to have a hard time breaking up a "completed" set. The Physician's Formula Shimmer Strips Eyeshadow in Smoky Hazel Eyes was featured in a recent eyeshadow rediscoveries post but the colors didn't look flattering on my eyes. I'm passing on two nude lip liners from Make Up For Ever and Kevyn Aucoin because I don't ever reach for colored lip liner.

I don't really have any makeup empties aside from a dried up Maybelline Lash Sensational Waterproof Mascara. But I am decluttering a bunch of products that should go in the bin due to old age. The Dr. Jart BB Cream samples are expired which I'm actually upset about because I really like the Water Fuse one. I've had the Clinique eyeshadow duo for ages and I loved the shades so I might repurchase it sometime. The sample Laura Mercier powder actually isn't an empty -- it shattered so I mashed up the pieces into a powder and added it to my jar of Nars Translucent Setting Powder.

I have a couple of non-makeup products that I rarely use anymore that I think my friends would enjoy more. The Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Cleanser seemed like a really great deal and it's not a bad product but I just don't reach for it. The Number 4 Blow Dry Lotion and Beauty Protector Argan Oil were gratis that I don't use anymore either. I have more hair oils than I can count so I'm passing these on.

I also rummaged through my sample stash and weeded out the things I won't use. Some of these things I have in full size, I've tried them before or just have no interest in. There's simply no reason for me to hold onto things I don't find joy in using.

Now for the actual empties. A lot of these were really good products that I would purchase again actually. I regularly use the La Roche Posay Toleriane Moisturizer and the First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream is one of my favorite body lotions. I've been through many packs of Shiseido Facial Cottons and don't see myself switching back to drugstore cotton anytime soon. The Clark's Botanicals Smoothing Marine Cream is a really pricey moisturizer meant for the face but I used it mostly on my body because I hated the scent.

Skincare is always the easiest thing to use up since I regularly apply it whereas I have plenty of no makeup days. I love the First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads and need to restock in my next Sephora order. I've also repurchased the Origins Super Spot Remover numerous times and think it's the best for zapping pesky pimples. I didn't like the Clarins Blue Orchid Facial Oil for my face because it never felt like it sunk into my skin and it seemed to make me break out. I used it up on my body instead. The Yes to Pomegranates Lip Balm was awful because it leaves a white cast on the lips and didn't moisturize.

After taking the pictures for this post, I actually found a couple more items I want to let go of but I'll put those to the side and share them next time. Over the past few years I've found a lot of skincare that works for me and I'm going to try to stick to those products instead of acquiring 189218723 samples for the sake of trying something new every other week. I need to stop buying sets of things just because they're a good value. Hopefully by the end of 2016 my declutter and empties posts will look quite different!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Shiseido Synchro Skin Foundation: Review with Before/After

If I wanted to give this review a clickbait-y title, I would have written "My New Favorite Foundation That Nobody is Talking About". So you can already guess I like the newly launched Shiseido Synchro Skin Lasting Liquid Foundation*. I was fortunate enough to get my hands on Shiseido's latest base makeup release a few months ago and I've been itching to tell you guys about it.

According to Shiseido, this is "an oil-free and long-lasting foundation with medium buildable coverage that beautifully enhances your complexion by harmonizing with your skin for a natural-looking finish". It's also supposed to feel airy and silky on the skin. The foundation is also formulated with SPF 20 to protect the skin.

The foundation comes in a heavy frosted glass bottle with a pump (yay!). It's not great for traveling but I like how the bottle looks. My one minor complaint with the packaging is that the plastic cap attracts fingerprints easily, as you can see from the photo above, and it doesn't securely fasten onto the bottle. The foundation retails for $45 for 1 oz.

There are 11 shades in the range which are split into three undertones: neutral, rose and golden. I was originally provided Neutral 4 which is the darker swatch above. Clearly it doesn't suit my winter skintone so I asked for a shade lighter, Neutral 3, which you can see is the lighter swatch. I'm happy to report that Neutral 3 is a darn good match for my face! I was surprised to see the stark difference between the two shades even though they are right next to each other on the spectrum. For the summer I definitely will be able to mix the two shades together to get a perfect match.

You have to make sure you shake the foundation well before you pump out product because it does separate. It is a very liquid formula but packs a surprising punch of pigment. There have been a lot of new foundations recently that have high coverage in a watery formula. I use the tiniest dot of this foundation on a buffing brush and it blends into the skin seamlessly. I always make sure to have a nice layer of moisturizer and primer on beforehand to avoid accentuating dry spots. This foundation doesn't feel hydrating or moisturizing at all but it's not drying either. It simply blends into the skin and enhances it.

Now it's time for the most telling part of the review: the before and after! In the before picture I already have on the Clarins Beauty Flash Balm, which is a transparent primer, and my beloved Laneige Cushion Concealer under the eyes. The foundation evened out a lot of the redness along with the yellowness around my nose and mouth areas without looking heavy or mask-like. The difference around my nose and mouth areas really show how much coverage this gives with just a drop of foundation.

This foundation lasts very well on me throughout the day and doesn't separate or crack. As I stated before, I do make sure to moisturize well before applying the foundation to ensure I have a nice canvas to work with. I also powder my face lightly with translucent setting powder but you can see in the after photo that the foundation has a natural matte finish. If you have normal or dry skin, you can probably skip the powder entirely!

I usually opt for a BB cream or tinted moisturizer but I'm really loving this foundation. It's both comfortable and beautiful on the skin. Even though it's on the pricier side, a little goes a very long way so one bottle will last me ages. I highly recommend you try this foundation out if you come across it in a department store or Shiseido boutique as I think many people, especially those with oily or combination skin, will enjoy it.

* This product was provided by PR for consideration. This is not a sponsored post and my opinions are 100% honest and my own.

Monday, February 8, 2016

An Amazing Red Lipstain for Chinese New Year

Happy Lunar New Year to all who celebrate. I hope everyone had a good day and hope that the year ahead is full of good things. I rummaged through my lip products to find a nice red that would match the festivities. You might remember that I raved about the Cynthia Rowley Lipstain in Sugar awhile back and I've had a mini in the shade Heartthrob sitting in my backup stash for about a year. In an effort to make good on my advice to myself for the new year, I'm trying to use products that I've stashed away and I'm so glad I whipped this out.

Since I wrote my review of the shade Sugar, they've added three shades for a total of six in the Lipstain line. These retail for $20 and contain .17 oz of product. This is neither a drying matte lipstain or your typical shiny lipgloss. I would say this is a hybrid of a stain and a gloss. It has a light, almost whipped feeling that is never drying. It's really comfortable and I had forgotten how much I liked this formula.

Heartthrob looks like an intense red in the tube but as you can see, it's really soft strawberry red. It's a really gorgeous color and so fitting for any time of year. The stain lightly tints the lips so that after the sheen fades away, you're left with an even color on your lips, another reason why it's perfect for all the Chinese New Year snacking.

I'm pretty stoked that I rediscovered this and need to make a mental note to repurchase Sugar some time in the future. I've also dug up a few other red lippies for Chinese New Year and hope to test them out in the next two weeks (Chinese New Year is 15 days long) so I hope to report back on those soon!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

8 Essential Eye Brushes

I'm of the mindset that good brushes are a key element in great makeup application. I wanted to do a quick post on the types of eye brushes I find essential in my collection to share a few specific recommendations and to help out anyone who is looking to build up their personal kit. Keep in mind that not all of these are my favorite brushes and there are other amazing brushes that I haven't included in this post. Rather, this is an overview of different types of brushes that I find valuable for doing a complete eye look.

Classic Eyeshadow Brush
Shown here: Chikuhodo GSN-09
Everyone needs a simple flat shader brush that can deposit shadow to the lid. I love the GSN-09 because it's made of ultra soft squirrel hair and works great for a wash of color. If you prefer more oomph from your eyeshadows, opt for the Mac 239 which helps pigment adhere better to the lid.

Crease Brush
Shown here: Wayne Goss 04
A good fluffy crease brush can be used to both apply shadow and blend it out. The Wayne Goss is super soft and I can use it as a one-and-done brush if Im going for an easy look. That being said, I prefer this for applying color on the lid as opposed to blending because it's a smidgen too soft to blend colors quickly.

Blending Brush
Shown here: Mac 217
To be honest, crease and blending brushes pretty much serve the same purpose. They're multipurpose brushes that get the job done. The Mac 217 is probably the most popular eyeshadow brush in the beauty universe because it's just an all-around workhorse brush. I prefer this brush to blend around the edges.

Small Detail Brush
Shown here: Zoeva 237
Out of all the brushes, this is probably the least necessary but it's still a nice to have. I mostly use this brush to tap a brightening highlight shade on the inner corners of my eyes. This Zoeva brush in particular is the perfect size but it's actually a bit scratchy so I'm on the hunt for something better. If you have any recommendations, please let me know!

Smudger Brush
Shown here: Zoeva 226
A smudger brush is perfect for smoking out pencil liner for a sultry slept-in makeup look or just placing eyeshadow carefully. I tend to use this kind of brush to push dark eyeshadow along my lashline.

Pencil Brush
Shown here: Zoeva 230
If you're tight on money or just want to cut down on having too many brushes, just skip the detail and smudger brushes and go for a pencil brush. You can highlight the inner corners with this and smudge out eyeliner or eyeshadow. But my favorite use for this particular brush is for applying dark shadow to the outer corner of my eye to get a precise placement. Then I'll go in with a blending brush to dust away harsh edges. I also use this brush to place eyeshadow along my lower lashline.

Angled Eyeliner Brush
Shown here: Zoeva 322
This is actually a brow brush but I love it for gel eyeliner. I almost always wing out my eyeliner and have been using angled eyeliner brushes for years. This one in particular is very short and stiff which makes it really easy to control, but it's still soft so it doesn't tug on the lids.

Pointed Eyeliner Brush
Shown here: Sigma E05
Yes, I'm including another eyeliner brush because I love using both of these interchangeably. I don't really see anyone talk about pointed eyeliner brushes but I find them super easy to use and they are great for winging eyeliner. Between this and the angled eyeliner brush, the latter is more versatile because you can use it to set pencil liner or for your brows.

Hope this post was helpful and I'll do a post on essential face brushes at a later time. I've really invested in some great brushes over the last year or so and am still steadily building my collection so I would like to share more about brushes. Let me know your favorite brushes in the comments so I can get some recommendations!