Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Merry Christmas! I'm taking a break.

Merry Christmas to all of you who are celebrating! I hope your holiday season is filled with joy and wonder and you get to spend it with your loved ones. The three of us wish you all the best from the bottom of our hearts :)
Coincidentally, spending this special time with the family is the reason I've decided to take a little break from blogging. I have lots and lots of new amazing products I'd like to tell you about and other beauty-related thoughts to share, but I won't lie to you - I just can't do this right now. While I may have thought that 2 months would be enough to pull my shit together with baby Julian on board, that has simply proven not to be the case. Sleep deprivation has hit me pretty hard and I can barely muster enough presence of mind to make myself a cuppa most days (wait, did I put the kettle on? Oh, I did - an hour ago. Well then... Have I already put sugar in this tea? Oh, seems like I did - more than once...), much less be able to take precious time out of my day to pour words onto the page.

I'm definitely not complaining though - while some days are rather challenging, spending time with my little one is infinitely rewarding and I wouldn't have it any other way. I just need to focus on what's essential in my life right now, which is taking care of my family - and myself. I love this beauty blogging business to bits, but helping the boy grow and showing him this strange new world is my topmost priority at the moment.

I shall return in the New Year - not really sure when exactly, but that's just how it's going to be for a while now, taking one day at a time. I'm hoping to post little life updates and snippets on Instagram/ Twitter in the meantime if you're interested. Thank you, dear readers, for another beautiful year together, and I will see in you in 2017! How crazy is that, huh?

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Luminous Nude Cheeks: Surratt Artistique Blush in La Rosée du Soir

Time for blogging is rather sparse these days, but I had to come on here to show you the newest member of my blush stash, the Surratt Artistique Blush in La Rosée du Soir ($32 for 0.14 oz/ 4g). After trying the Surratt pressed powder 'slurry' formula via his eyeshadow in Scintillante (reviewed here), I was really interested in trying a blush from the line, and I was finally enabled to do so by the Sephora VIB rewards card - even though I really do not need any more blushes in my life.
In the same manner as his eyeshadows, the Artistique blushes come in single resin pans which can be glued into a Surratt custom palette, available separately. For the time being, I'm too cheap to actually spring for that beautiful compact and just use the pans as is - luckily they're more substantial than a regular metal pan and also come with a sliding plastic lid to help protect the powder inside. The shade name is printed on the back label, which is also a sticker you'd use to secure the pans in the palette.

Well, since my window for blogging isn't very long at the moment, let me keep this post brief and just say that I really, really like the formula of this Surratt blush. It's just as pillowy soft as my Scintillante eyeshadow and applies like a beautiful glowy cloud of color to the cheeks. I feel like La Rosée du Soir certainly isn't the most pigmented blush formula out there, but that's my preference - I find opaque blushes very difficult to work with on my fair skintone.
The texture is creamy and blendable and looks natural on the skin; there's no trace of powderiness (is that a word? Don't think so...) once applied. The subtle luminous finish is also incredibly believable. I would compare it to one of my HG blush formulas, the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blushes - it's the same amount of ethereal glow without obvious shimmer or, God forbid, glitter. However, I may even like the formula of the Surratt blush better, because it feels less dry than the Hourglass both on the skin and in the pan.

L-R: Surratt La Rosee du Soir, Hourglass Mood Exposure, NARS Douceur, KIKO Trio Blush in no. 1 Natural Rose
I know what you're going to say - La Rosée du Soir isn't a terribly unique shade. In fact, I have an almost exact dupe in my stash already. But the finish and tactile feel of the Surratt blush is unique enough for me to warrant keeping it, and this nudey rose color family is my favorite at the moment, so I don't mind having several to choose from. I've swatched it here against three other similar blushes to give you an idea of the shade if you're planning to order sight unseen. I've seen La Rosée du Soir described as a nude pink (Sephora says it's a rosy nude) but I would keep in mind that this shade pulls rather warm, especially on a fair skin tone. I would even say it looks a bit more like a nude muted peach on me; it's definitely warmer than NARS Douceur and less rosy than something like KIKO Shade Fusion Trio Blush in Natural Rose (here).
So while this purchase was definitely superfluous for my collection, I'm really pleased with Surratt La Rosée du Soir, and I would gladly buy more shades from the newly expanded range. It's also worth mentioning that yes, the brand's Cheek Brush (reviewed here) works exceptionally well for picking up and blending their blush formula. Have you tried any of the powder products from Surratt Beauty? What is your favorite everyday 'goes with everything' nude blush?

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Customized Lashes: Pacifica Beauty Dream Big Mascara* Review

Have you ever tried one of those customizable mascara wands? You know - like those brushes that are actually two in one - a large one for volume, and a small one for definition - or a newer version, where you twist the top of the cap to change the length of the wand and the distance between the bristles. While I'd always been curious about this type of mascara, I've actually never pulled the trigger to try it, fearing it would be more of a gimmick than a useful feature. So I was quite skeptical yet interested when I was given a chance to test the new Pacifica Beauty Dream Big Lash Extending 7 in 1 Mascara in the shade Black Magic* ($16 for 0.25 oz).
Right of the bat, let's choose to ignore the '7 in 1' claim. Pacifica is basically trying to convey this mascara will change your make-up life: on top of volumizing, lengthening and lifting up your lashes, the Dream Big mascara contains a conditioning lash serum. There are two settings you can use for the wand - the 'Length' setting elongates the brush and moves the bristles more further apart, whereas the 'Volume' setting shortens the wand and makes the bristles more dense.
Left: Wand at the Volume setting, right: Length setting
I'll get right to the heart of this review: I quite like this Dream Big mascara, despite my initial wariness. HOWEVER. Frankly speaking, I don't see any difference in terms of look or performance on my lashes between the Length and Volume settings. In both cases, the result of applying two coats of this mascara is pretty much the same: nicely separated lashes with a bit of extra volume and length. If you like va-va-voom lashes, this is not a mascara for you. It definitely gives more of a natural daytime look, and if your lashes are already pretty good or you dislike to see product on your lashes, I'd say to give it a try. But if you're hoping for a more dramatic effect, I think the Dream Big would leave you disappointed.
Top: bare uncurled lashes, bottom: two coats of Pacifica Dream Big Mascara
The formula itself is perhaps a bit on the wetter side, and I tend to get a glob of product on the tip of the wand every time I open up the tube. But thanks to the rubber bristles, it doesn't clump up on the lashes too much unless I really rush my application. The mascara also wears well throughout the day; I don't get the dreadful smudging under my browbone but I've noticed it can sometimes flake a little bit, especially if I happen to touch my eye area by accident.
All in all, if you're looking for a natural - both in terms of effect and ingredients' list - mascara, the Dream Big from Pacifica is a great option. Like all Pacifica's products, it's also vegan and cruelty-free. Green beauty addicts, what is your favorite brand for mascara? From what I understand, mascara is a more difficult product to get right if you want something with clean ingredients, so I'd love to hear some recommendations from you!

Disclaimer: Product featured in this post is a press sample I received from the brand's PR for review consideration. All links are non-affiliate. All opinions are 100% honest and unbiased, no matter if the product featured was purchased with my own money or provided free of charge. Thank you for reading!

Monday, December 5, 2016

What's In My Daily Make-up Bag: Mom of a Newborn Edition

I can't believe my tiny baby bean is 2 months old already! It's really fascinating to watch how Julian changes right before our eyes - and while those fast changes can be quite challenging to adjust to, we're constantly being rewarded by his toothless smiles and new skills. But focusing all the attention on our very, very small gentleman often entails forgoing a lot of my own needs; so to practice a little bit of self-love and increase my well-being, I've been trying to put a little bit of make-up on most days, and I thought I'd share some current 'busy mom' favorites.
These are the products I've decided to pull out for the ultimate quick, easy and rather minimal make-up routine. I've opted to arrange them in the order of priorities; if I don't have time for anything else (Julian suddenly waking up from a nap or some other unexpected occurence), I only apply a fine layer of BB cream (Missha Perfect Cover BB, reviewed here) all over my face with my fingers and call it done. I've actually taken to storing my base product of choice in the bathroom cabinet (separately from the rest of my make-up, which I keep at my vanity in the bedroom) and I'll usually apply it right after my serum instead of a moisturizer; however, this may not work all that well in a few weeks when the weather turns a lot drier and colder.
If my timing is right though, I'm able to go for a few more steps; I keep all of those products in a little make-up bag (they call it a Multi Pouch) from a Korean brand Pour Vous. My next order of business is concealer; these days I mostly use it to conceal dark under eye circles and skip trying to spot conceal any little marks or blemishes, which thankfully have become quite rare. I'm doing my best to use up what's left of my NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Chantilly; I feel like it's a lot drier now and I dislike how crepey it looks under the eyes. I'll then set my T-zone with a little bit of powder; I'm quite surprised actually by how much I like the bareMinerals Mineral Veil loose powder (just finished my deluxe sample, which is why it's not in the photo).
Next up are my brows: I reach for either my Holy Grail Shu Uemura Seal Brown pencil (reviewed here), or a new product in my stash, the Essence Make Me Brow in Browny Brows. It's basically a much, much less expensive version of the Benefit Gimme Brow, which I wasn't a great fan of (mentioned it here); however, maybe because I went for a darker shade this time, I don't hate the Essence gel, and it definitely has a leg up over the Shu brow pencil in terms of speed of application.

Then, if I'm running out of time or will to play with more steps, I'll just do a quick swipe of powder blush - I've gone back to my Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush Palette, which is still love - and then dab a bit of a lip product on. I've been wearing sheer lip glosses in nudey pink or mauve shades a lot more than lipsticks, maybe because I feel like they're a bit kinder on dry lips and don't make me look overly made up when paired with the rest of my barely there face. I have a couple favorites I've been rotating; in fact, I keep my lip glosses in a couple different locations (vanity table, purse, stroller, next to where I feed the little dude) so that I remember to apply or, if I'm lucky, even reapply throughout the day. Both Maybelline Color Elixir in Caramel Infused (reviewed here) and the Buxom Lip Cream in Dolly (here) are old stand bys, but I've also been happy with a new addition to my stash, the Aveda Nourish-mint Rehydrating Lip Shine in Chuparosa* (available here) from their F/W 2016 collection.
Some swatches; L-R: Benefit No Pressure, Pixi Deep Plum, Aveda Chuparosa, Maybelline Caramel Infused
For whatever reason, making up my eyes is the lowest on my priorities list (well I guess I know the reason - I'm too tired and lazy to spend extra time removing eye make-up at the end of the day...). If nothing else, I'll do either a little bit of mascara (currently switching between the L'Oreal Voluminous*, reviewed here, or Pacifica Dream Big*, here), or tightline with Pixi Endless Silky Eye Pen in Deep Plum (here), or both. Now, if I'm really going for it, I'll even do a little something something on the eyelids, usually in the form of Benefit's Creaseless Cream shadow in No Pressure (reviewed here), and the same pencil eyeliner along the lashline. And then if by some miracle baby boy is still not up yet and I'm feeling super indulgent, I may even play with some powder eyeshadows. But in all honesty, that's not a part of my regular routine but rather a rare treat these days, so no point in telling you about it :)

There you have it; here's what I try to do to make myself feel more human between feeding, changing diapers and rocking little prince to sleep. Speaking of - I better wrap this post up, someone just woke up hangry :) What's the most important step in your basic make-up routine that you don't want to do without?

Disclaimer: Products marked with an asterix (*) are press samples I received from the brands' PR for review. I purchased all the other products myself. All links are non-affiliate. All opinions are 100% honest and unbiased, no matter if the products featured were purchased with my own monies or provided free of charge. Thank you for reading!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Black & Gold: Clio Gelpresso Waterproof Liner in Golden Black no. 7

Believe it or not, but for a while this year, I didn't have a single black eyeliner pencil in my stash. While I used to consider black an absolute essential, I actually don't find a huge difference on the eyes between black or any other darker eyeliner shade, be it navy, plum or deep green. However, when I found these Clio Gelpresso Waterproof Pencil Gel Liners ($15 for ) on a deep discount at a sample sale, I couldn't resist picking up the shade Golden Black no. 7, a creamy black shot through with black microglitters.
Clio's Gelpresso Liners are close to cult classic status for many K-beauty lovers, so I was curious to see how they compared to my favorite Pixi Endless Silky Eyeliner Pens (reviewed here) or even Urban Decay eyeliners. The first major difference is the packaging: Clio's pencils are retractable and come with a built-in sharpener at the end. In theory, I'd consider this to be an improvement (because uhm, LAZY), but in practice, I kinda miss that freshly sharpened tip to my pencil liner; yes, you can make the tip a bit finer by using the provided sharpener, but it's not as precise.
I believe there are multiple shades in this range, including neutral and bold shades, in both cream and shimmer/ microglitter finishes. The black base of the shade Golden Black isn't quite as deep and inky as my Marc Jacobs Highliner in Blacquer, especially when smudged or blended out, but I don't really mind that.
In terms of texture and wear, after about a month of use, I have to say this Gelpresso Liner hasn't surpassed the Pixi liners or Marc Jacobs Blacquer for me. For whatever reason, it's just not as smooth and creamy as the other two formulas; it drags and skips just a little bit on the lashline. On my upper lashline, it wears well throughout the day, but for tightlining, it transfers down and smudges at the outer corners within a couple hours (which the Pixi and MJ do as well, but at least feel softer to line with).
I've also tested how well the Gelpresso in Golden Black could withstand vigorous removal with a cotton square soaked in micellar water, and as you can see below, it faded A LOT more compared to the Marc Jacobs Blacquer. It also seems to wear off more when rubbed with a finger, so that's something to consider if you tend to rub your eyes accidentally throughout the day.
For me, while I do find the quality of the Clio Gelpresso in Golden Black to be quite decent, it's definitely not my favorite gel eyeliner pencil I've ever tried. If you like the convenience of a retractable pencil and you can find these on sale somewhere, I think they're a nice option, but I wouldn't go out of my way to seek them out in the future. I would also be interested to see whether the cream (no shimmer or glitter) finish pencils in this range perhaps feel a bit creamier and smoother; in my experience, pencils with microglitter tend to have a somewhat drier texture. Have you tried any of the Clio Gelpressos? What is your favorite black eyeliner pencil?

Monday, November 21, 2016

Aveda Fall 2016 Fōklôr Make-up Collection: Single Eye Colors* and Eye Definers* Review & Swatches

Even though I haven't been wearing a lot of eye make-up lately, I was instantly inspired by the eyeshadows in the Aveda's Fall/ Winter 2016 Foklor Make-up Collection to try some new color combinations on my eyes. The Fōklôr Collection was designed with two eye looks in mind: Sage Smoke, using the Petal Essence Single Eye Colors* in 981 Balsam and 980 Dusted Sage, and Risør Rose with Eye Colors in 982 Chia and 983 Rose Quartz ($15 for a single pan).
I've actually never tried any make-up products from Aveda or even heard much about them in the blogosphere, so I was even more interested to test out the contents of the PR package I was sent. First of all, I was plesantly surprised to see that Aveda's Single Eye Colors are available in pan form - I pretty much depot all of my singles into a free form palette anyway, so to me, single pans without a compact are the most convenient.
Let's start with the Risør Rose color scheme. Chia no. 982 is a very dark brown aubergine shade with a matte finish. In the pan, it looks more like a satin, but it applied matte both in my arm swatch and on the eyes. Out of the four eyeshadows I tested, I was the least impressed with the formula of Chia. The texture is quite stiff and dry and overall, I find this shadow poorly pigmented. I couldn't achieve any depth of color on the eyes even despite multiple layers, and I felt like what I did manage to apply faded significantly throughout the day (tested on top of Too Faced Shadow Insurance).
Rose Quartz no. 983 fared a bit better, although I would also classify it as a rather lightly pigmented shadow. It's a warm rose shade with gold and orange shimmer/ microglitter particles, which gives it somewhat of a rose gold feel on the eyes. Again, the texture wasn't very creamy and I had to press my brush quite hard into the pan to get enough powder on the bristles.
I had much better experience with the two eyeshadows from the Sage Smoke colorway. Balsam no. 981 is a cool-toned dark emerald green with a matte finish. In my heavy arm swatch (applied with a finger), this shadow looks very uneven and patchy, but I found that it applied quite well on the eyes, although again, it's not the darkest, most pigmented green out there. The formula is still quite dry but softer and easier to pick up from the pan.
I was possibly the most excited to try Dusted Sage no. 980. The name of this shadow is spot-on: it is indeed a muted, silvery light sage with a satin or a lightly pearlized finish. However, I was a bit underwhelmed with this eyeshadow's performance: again, it's very lightly pigmented and also quite hard and dry in the pan, which makes it difficult to build it up on the eyes. On my cool-toned skin, it also surprisingly turned a bit more warm than I expected; I couldn't see much of that silvery sheen.
I also received two shades of Petal Essence Eye Definers* ($17 each for 0.04 oz/1.14 g) included in the Fōklôr Collection: Gypsum Gold no. 981 and Slate Shimmer no. 980. Gypsum Gold is a warm gold (pearl/ metallic finish), while Slate Shimmer is a deep charcoal with silver shimmer. In terms of formula, Aveda's Eye Definers seem to be the more standard khol formula for an eye pencil; they're quite firm and don't glide on nearly as easily as the gel-like formulas (e.g. Urban Decay or Pixi) I usually go for. This formula also doesn't really set, although I didn't have issues with either Gypsum Gold or Slate Shimmer migrating throughout the day.
Again, I wish both of these eye pencils were a bit more pigmented; I had to go over my lines several times for the colors to show up properly. I used Gypsum Gold to brighten inner corners of my eyes in combination with the two shadows from the Risor Rose look; however, the overall effect was so sheer and subtle that it didn't even register properly on my camera. I had better luck with Slate Shimmer, which I used in my interpretation of the Sage Smoke look below; I applied a very fine line along my upper lashline and to tightline. I don't think you can really see the silver shimmer all that much but I used it very sparingly - it would show up if I drew a thicker line or blended it out with a brush.
I had a lot of fun playing with eye products included in Aveda's Fall/ Winter 2016 collection, but I have to say I wasn't overly impressed with their performance. I understand that not all eyeshadows have to be deeply pigmented and a lot of make-up wearers prefer sheerer washes of color, but even so I found the dry and hard texture quite difficult to work with. I also prefer the newer gel-like eyeliner pencils to the khol formula, although if you like khols, I think these are a nice option and I love the subtle silver sparkle in the Slate Shimmer shade.
In the photo above, I'm wearing Dusted Sage all over the mobile lid with Balsam in the outer corner; I blended out the crease with Velvet Revolver from Too Faced for a more seamless transition. Like I mentioned earlier, I applied the Eye Definer in Slate Shimmer in a fine line along my upper lashline. On the rest of my face, I'm wearing Clinique Cheek Pop in Heather Pop on the cheeks and Aveda's Nourish-mint Rehydrating Lip Glaze in Pink Lupine* on the lips together with NYX Lip Liner in Nude Suede Shoes. For the base, I used Missha Perfect Cover BB Cream set with bareMinerals Mineral Veil, and NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Chantilly under the eyes, and defined my brows with Shu Uemura Hard Pencil in Seal Brown.

What eyeshadow shades have been inspiring you lately? Are you all about the warm neutral trend, or do you wear bolder color accents?

Disclaimer: Products featured in this post are press samples I received from the brand's PR for review consideration. All links are non-affiliate. All opinions are 100% honest and unbiased, no matter if the product featured was purchased with my own money or provided free of charge. Thank you for reading! 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Cheap Thrills: Essence Lipliner in Satin Mauve

When was the last time you bought a make-up product at the drugstore for less than $2? I feel like the days of finding awesome deals at the drugstore are coming to an end, and there's just a few brands left that offer truly inexpensive products that work well. Fortunately, one of these brands is Essence, and when I felt the itch to experiment with lining my lips again, I decided to take my two bucks and invest in their Lipliner in Satin Mauve ($1.99 for 0.035 oz, I bought mine at Ulta).
Just for the sake of comparison, at the same time I also ordered the NYX Slide On Lip Pencil, which costs $7.99. Eight dollars for a drugstore lip liner is getting up there, am I right? Anyway, back to the Essence Satin Mauve. This pencil looks like the most classic, old-school lip liner in the world - it has the standard wood casing (don't you just love the smell of these?) and it's definitely NOT one of the newer generation 'gel' pencil formulas; just your typical firm pencil that takes a bit more work to apply to the lips.
In terms of texture and pigmentation, it's not as good as the NYX Slide On, especially when you're swatching one next to the other on the back of your hand. The Essence Lip Liner is not as smooth or creamy and it doesn't just glide on the lips with the slightest pressure. HOWEVER. In terms of actual performance and feel on the lips, I really like it. While it may look a bit patchy in the heavy arm swatch, I find it applies evenly on the lips, and feels a lot thinner and more lightweight than the NYX; in fact, I can't even tell I have it on. The finish is completely matte so yes, it will exaggerate all your vertical lip lines, but I don't think it's uncomfortable or drying in itself. In terms of wear, I also feel like it transfers less and lasts better than the NYX.
L-R: Essence Lipliner in Satin Mauve, NYX Slide On in Nude Suede Shoes, Maybelline Color Sensational Lipstick in Warm Me Up, BITE High Pigment Lip Pencil in Rhubarb
In terms of the shade, Satin Mauve is - finally! - a true mauve shade on my fair skintone with cool undertones. There's a lot of purple to this shade and it even pulls a little grey, which seems to be right in line with the current lip color trends. I was hoping it would be a bit lighter in depth but on me, it's more of a My Lips But Better (Darker) than a nude shade. When I use it to lightly line the lips, it works well even when paired with a lighter nude lipstick, as long as it's more of a cool undertone as well.
Overall, I'm pretty happy with this extremely inexpensive find - I mean seriously, it was two bucks. It actually makes me wish I bought two of the Essence Lipliners instead of that $8 NYX one. I would definitely recommend it if you're looking for a cheap lip liner to play with, and the shade Satin Mauve would be a great way to try out that 'purpley mauve with a hint of grey' lip trend without spending $20 for a liquid lipstick. What is your favorite inexpensive product at the drugstore - do you usually go for Wet n'Wild or something from Essence and/or Catrice?