Friday, May 22, 2015

Summer Sheers: Lancôme Shine Lover Lipstick in 323 Effortless Pink

So far, I've been really picky this year about my new lipstick acquisitions. Maybe it's the realization how long it takes to use up a lip product after rotating through the same couple of options in my Project Make A Dent, maybe I just haven't really been blown away by any of the new releases... Either way, I knew that I wanted a new sheer lipstick for the summer. The combination of a bright shade in a more translucent formula has been my go to in the warmer months for the past couple of years, so when Lancôme released their new range of sheer lipsticks, after much hesitation, I decided to pick up one: the Shine Lover Vibrant Shine Lipstick 8H Moisture in 323 Effortless Pink ($25 for 0.1 oz).
Let me just say that I really appreciate how Lancôme decided to keep their hydration claims on the reasonable side with 'just' 8 hours of moisture. After foundations claiming to last anywhere from 16 to 20 something hours, I like that they aren't joining the game of the most ridiculous claim around. The Shine Lover lipsticks come in a pretty silver outer box with the shade NAME of the lipstick, however, the bottom label on the lipstick tube only lists the shade NUMBER. I guess it's not a big deal for most people, but I'd prefer to have the shade name of the sticker as well.

Speaking of the lipstick tube, I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the box. From looking at photos and promo images online, I expected the white tube to made out of a flimsy lightweight plastic, but it's actually a lot heavier and sturdier in my hand, and the white has a pretty opalescent finish. I also like the minimal design with silver stripes and Lancôme's rose on top of the cap.
Effortless Pink no. 323 is a sheer cool-toned hot pink shade in a lightly glossy finish, no shimmer. In the tube, it looks scary bright, but applies very, very sheer on the lips with one swipe; the intensity can be easily built up though. In that, it reminds me most of the discontinued Giorgio Armani Rouge d'Armani Sheers, but maybe a hair more pigmented and less glossy. Among my collection of other bright pinks, it's the most similar to Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment in Tulip, but even more vibrant. The Shu Uemura Rouge Unlimited Supreme Shine PK331 is warmer and contains micro shimmer particles.
While the shade itself is nothing terribly unique, I do find the Shine Lover formula to be quite unlike other sheer lipsticks/ tinted balms in my collection. It's incredibly smooth and lightweight on the lips; so much so that I actually forgot I was wearing it, and started devouring a watermelon slice without removing it first, which could have ended pretty Joker-like with any other lipstick - but since the Shine Lover formula is so thin, it didn't really migrate from my lips at all. It does seem to stay put quite nicely, and when the subtle shine wears off, Effortless Pink leaves behind a bit of a stain; I still had on a pretty pink flush after dinner.

L-R: 1 swipe of Lancome Shine Lover in Effortless Pink, 5-7 swipes of Effortless Pink, Guerlain Rouge Automatique in Shalimar, Fresh Sugar in Tulip, Shu Uemura PK 331
One thing that may be a bit of a let down for some is that the Shine Lover finish is in fact not very shiny at all. It has comparable shine/ gloss level to a standard creamy lipstick; to give you some examples for reference, the Shu Uemura Rouge Unlimited Shine and the Fresh Sugar tinted balms are both more glossy on the lips. I personally don't mind - from browsing online swatches, I expected a lower level of shine - and I think that's also the reason why the Shine Lover stays better on the lips than other sheer formulas.
The scent on these is a very delicate fruity floral; I can only smell it a little in the tube and the fragrance doesn't linger whatsoever. As for the '8H Moisture' claim, I can't wear any lipstick for that without touching up, but I will say it's certainly not drying, which is already a huge accomplishment on my flaky lips. When applied, it also doesn't catch on dry patches, and while it doesn't plump up all the fine lines, it doesn't gather in them either, making the overall appearance of my lips more smooth and healthy.

I'm really happy I decided to try out this new lipstick from Lancôme; so far, I'm pretty impressed with it, and it's one of my new favorite lip product formulas. Even though the shade is so cheerily bright in the tube, it looks very naturally pretty on the lips; truly, an 'Effortless Pink' color. Have you tried these Shine Lover lipsticks already? What is your favorite sheer lipstick formula?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A Week in Faces of the Day

Things haven't been particularly interesting in these parts when it comes to new make-up acquisitions, so I figured I could just show you a couple (well, five) make-up looks I've been sporting recently. These are my usual 'a tweak here, a tweak there' everyday looks, so it's not anything you haven't seen before, but still, maybe you'll find an element or two inspiring or fun to incorporate into your routine. Enjoy!
This is one of my go-to looks, featuring a brighter lip color (Inglot Gel Lipstick no. 58 from my Project Make A Dent) and a slightly winged out eyeliner - I believe this was possibly the last of my Urban Decay Rockstar eyeliner, also from the Project. I wanted to multitask my denting products, so I layered a Michael Todd lipgloss in Natural under the berry lipstick, and I did not like that effect at all - you can see a little bit in the photo, but basically it caused most of the pigment from the bright lipstick to migrate towards the outside of my mouth, almost giving the look of a darker lipliner. Don't try this at home, kids! I was unsatisfied with this look enough to have another go at it later in the week, which you'll see below.
This was my attempt at a lazy but glowy weekend look. I say lazy, because I skipped a product here that I very rarely omit from my make-up routine: a spot concealer. In fact, a spot concealer is the one product I always said I couldn't do without. But my skin has been looking pretty clear recently, and I haven't had the need to do as much pinpoint concealing as I used to. For my base, I applied Dermalogica's Sheer Tint SPF20 in Light (which turned out to have no coverage whatsoever), and layered Laura Mercier's Mineral Powder in Tender Rose over the top, which gave my skin a lightweight, dewy look with most of my freckles peeking through. On the eyes, I played with Urban Decay Electric on the waterline, and made sure to add plenty of black mascara. Cheeks are Laura Mercier Lotus Pink, lips are Revlon Superlustrous gloss in Coral Reef.
Now, I've recently been lemming a lavender blush to add to my collection. I think it's the result of craving something new to play with, and browsing Korean make-up products on eBay; it seems that pastel purple blush is a big trend in Korea. But, I've exhausted my make-up low buy allowance for this month, and I also expected said blush wouldn't get to me in time to be seasonally appropriate (not with the hot and humid weather we've been having in NYC recently), so I shopped my stash instead, and came out with La Femme Powder Blush in Flamingo Pink and NYX Mega Shine Lipgloss in Dolly. I thought they complemented each other nicely, and I did a very basic eye with the Dior quint in Earth Reflections coupled with a more interesting dark teal liner by way of Sephora Contour pencil in Surfer Babe.
Here's another rendition of that first failed berry lip look. This time, I decided against a cat eye, opting for a very fine line right against the lashline instead for some extra definition; the eyeshadow look was also rather subtle thanks to the lighter shades in the Dior Earth Reflection. I've used quite a bit of Stila Convertible Color in Lillium (also from Project Make A Dent) on the cheeks to offset the darker lip, and patted my Inglot no. 58 over a layer of Milani Anti-Feathering Transparent Lip Liner to achieve a more matte look. I thought it turned out much prettier than the first attempt!
Lastly, here's my version of a daytime smokey eye. I decided to wear my Rouge Bunny Rouge Chronos Eyeshadow Palette on the eyes, using the navy charcoal shade in the outer corner. I also bronzed up my face a little with Too Faced Milk Chocolate Soleil, dabbed some of that Stila Lillium on the cheeks, and swept a small amount of Laura Mercier Baked Highlight on top of the cheekbones - that's where that subtle glow is coming from. On the lips, I used only the nude Michael Todd lipgloss. Overall, it wasn't my favorite look either - I think I'm looking a bit tired and sallow here, and maybe a slightly darker My Lips But Better shade would have counteracted that. Well, you live, you learn, right?

Which one of these looks is your personal favorite? I hope this wasn't terribly boring, you guys - I always enjoy seeing what people actually wear on their faces from day to day, so I thought it was worth sharing. Let me know what make-up look you've been sporting most recently!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Cult Classics: Caudalie Beauty Elixir Review

Caudalie's Beauty Elixir ($18 for 1 oz/ $49 for 3.4 oz) mist is one of those cult products I'd always wanted to try for myself and see what the raves were all about. So, after finishing a bottle of Skindinavia Make-up Setting Spray, I went ahead and ordered a bottle of the Caudalie to replace it. I could just imagine misting my face with the refreshing Beauty Elixir on a hot summer day... What a relief that would be, right? And so luxurious...
Well, my Caudalie dream hasn't quite come true though. Here are the good things about it: the mist is very fine (not squirty at all), the frosted glass looks beautiful on my vanity, and it does feel cooling on the skin for the 3 seconds before it dries. Aaand that's about it when it comes to what I like about this product.
Here's what I don't like: guys, what is the point?! Does this give my skin an amazingly glowy finish? Nope. Does it smooth or tighten the pores? Nope. Does it contain effective skin-loving ingredients? Nope. Is the smell absolutely amazing? Nope, more like spraying your face with a gentle mouthwash (combination of alcohol + peppermint scent). What the heck am I missing here?!
If I sound a tad angry at all, it's because I am. I feel that Beauty Elixir is Caudalie's golden egg-bearing goose: they put some water, alcohol, fragrance (why?!) and a few essential oils in a pretty bottle, and it rakes in amazing profits. No skincare profit for me though - I'd much rather use something like Andalou Naturals 1000 Roses Floral Toner, which actually does contain beneficial ingredients and retails for between $10-13 for a 6 ounce bottle. You can use it the exact same way as the Beauty Elixir, it just doesn't claim to be a 'part-toner, part-serum mist' - but it sure does perform better.

Beauty Elixir fans, tell me, what am I missing? Is there some magical way to make this work? I have to say that so far, my experiences with Caudalie have been less than satisfactory every single time: I strongly disliked the popular Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet, and found the S.O.S. Serum very sticky. Do you have any favorites in the Caudalie skincare range?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Understated Elegance: Dior 5 Colour Iridescent Eyeshadow in 609 Earth Reflection

I've recently come to the realization that I may have finally gotten big eyeshadow palettes out of my system. It's not that I don't reach for the ones I have in my collection - I do all the time - but at some point, you just start accumulating doubles and triples of the same shades over and over. So, I think I'm done on that account (watch me as I pick up another neutral eyeshadow palette in a couple months' time...), which of course doesn't mean I'm not interested in eyeshadows anymore. I've simply switched my attention to singles, duos, trios, quads and quints, like this one: the Dior 5-Colour Iridescent Eyeshadow in 609 Earth Reflection ($62 for 0.21 oz).
I've actually had this on my mental wish list for a very long time, but just couldn't quite pull the trigger. Last week, I spotted it on an Instagram sale (watch out, blog sales, there's a new kid on the block!) for $30 with shipping, and so I wasn't able to resist it any longer.
Here's the deal: from swatching Earth Reflection multiple times in-store and reading reviews online, I knew it wasn't going to be anything earth-shattering (har har) in my collection. I could probably find near dupes scattered among my other palettes and singles. But! But there's just something so luxuriously elegant about Dior quints. From the simple packaging to the effortless formula inside, they're oh so very chic. They're not trying hard to impress with their pigmentation, texture, complex shimmers or uniqueness. They just are what they are. And I quite like that.
After playing with the palette for a couple days, here are my general thoughts: it's a great basic palette for fair and light skintones. I believe medium and dark skintones may have issues getting a complete eye look out of the palette, due to the fact that it contains three very light shades and the darkest shade is more or less the same depth of MAC Satin Taupe, which I know is a lid shade for most (I've always used it in the crease and outer corner in the daytime on my fair skin).

All five eyeshadows in Earth Reflection are shimmers, or pearl/frost finish (not metallic, not glittery, just smooth sheen). While for some it may be a deal-breaker, I was able to get a balanced look using just the quint, since the darkest shade I used in the crease isn't very reflective when blended out on the eyes. Another thing worth noting is that the three lightest shades (a warm champagne, pale pink in the middle, and ivory pearl) come across quite similar on the eyes - I wish especially there was more variation between the pink and ivory.
But other than those slight drawbacks, I very much enjoy Earth Reflection. The two taupe shades are absolutely stunning, and I was happy to see that I could use the lighter taupe on the lids quite easily for an everyday look. As you can see below, for this post I did more of a smokey eye using the darkest shade to add drama, but you could also get a barely there look with this quint using the champagne on the lid and the light taupe in the crease; quite similar effect to my beloved Shiseido Luminizing Satin Trio in Nude. The texture is smooth, easily buildable and blendable, and I haven't noticed any fallout on the eyes during application or wear time.
Dior 609 Earth Reflection swatched clockwise from top left corner, with the pink in the middle swatched last
I don't know you guys, there's just something about this that I deeply enjoy. I can definitely see why these Dior quints are so popular - they're just so effortless. I already know that I'll be taking Earth Reflection with me when I travel, simply because you can do a whole eyeshadow look in minutes without thinking about pairing shades together or their careful placement.
In the face shots, I'm wearing lighter taupe on the lids with a bit of champagne layered over it in the centre, darker taupe in the outer corners in a more cat-eye/ elevated shape, lightest ivory in the inner corners, and the combination of taupes on the lower lashline. I've also tightlined my upper waterline with Pixi Endless Silky Eye Pen in Black Noir. I'm wearing Josie Maran Coconut Watercolor Cheek Gelee in Getaway Red with Too Faced Milk Chocolate Soleil on the cheeks and Essence Stay With Me Lipgloss in Candy Bar on the lips, since the weather suddenly turned very summery here in NYC.
Do you own any of these Dior 5-Colour Eyeshadows? What is your favorite colorway? Do you prefer smaller palettes like this or the larger ones with 10+ shades?

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Quartet of Peachy Pinks: Marcelle Quad Blush in Ultimate Pinks

One of the awesome things about having beauty blogging friends, besides being able to talk their ears off about all the latest make-up excitements without being completely ignored or hit in the face with a flying pillow, is that you can swap products that are not immediate loves between each other. Me and Kar Yi have recently taken to ferrying a couple goodies here and there between our make-up stashes, and thus I became a happy recipient of Marcelle's Quad Blush in Ultimate Pinks ($16 for 0.16 oz/ 4.6 g, in the US available at Birchbox.com).
 Eeeee, iz sooo pretteh! When I first laid my eyes on this sleek blush compact, I was super excited to swatch all the shades and play with different combinations on my face. Because what's not to love? I just love the idea of customizable blush with complimentary hues of pink, and I think the design of the product is really neat, although I could do without the brush compartment underneath - I don't ever use the implements that come with make-up products, and so I don't appreciate the added bulk.

The blush itself looks and swatches completely matte. While I do love my satins, a good matte is nice to pair with a more visible highlighter, or to wear on those days when you have some unwanted texture on the cheeks. The four quadrants look like very distinct shades in the pan, but I was surprised to find that the nude and the peachy shade right underneath it look very similar on the skin. Both the hot pink and the baby pink pull cooler, with the lightest shade having the least amount of pigmentation.
I'm not sure how well it's coming across in my close-up and arm swatches, but all of these shades have some amount of a white base to them, making them appear more pastel on the skin. This is probably the reason this blush didn't work for darker and warmer complected Kar Yi; but as you know, I love pastel shades on me. I will generalize here and say that Ultimate Pinks will probably work the best on a fair, cool skintones, and may appear too pale and chalky on darker skintones.
Speaking of chalky... This Marcelle Quad Blush is indeed a bit chalky. What a bummer, right? The pigmentation is medium at most in my opinion, and when you attempt to build up the color on the skin, it gets a bit powdery and obvious. You can probably see that a little bit in my heavy arm swatches.
Shades swatched separately clockwise from the close-up photo; the last swatch on the right is all the shades mixed together.
Ultimate Pinks still look pretty on the cheeks - as you know, I just love peachy pink blushes on me. But I do wish the formula was a bit better; it just doesn't meld into the skin as well as some of my other favorite matte or satin formulas. So ultimately (har har), I'm not sure if I'll keep this Quad Blush in my stash or pass it on to a more appreciative friend or relative.
Canadian friends, what do you recommend from Marcelle's make-up range? I think I've only ever tried their moisturizer with sunscreen when I lived in Vancouver, and it was just okay. Are there any hidden gems? Everyone else, what is your favorite multi-hued blush? I have to say Marcelle's Quad Blush is the first one I've ever tried!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Project Use Up Those Freakin' Samples: Introduction

The time has come to finally clamp down on those stacks of sample sachets and deluxe minis I seem to hoard in various drawers and pouches. I hinted in my last empties post that I was thinking of doing this project - and then I thought that it would be too much work and maybe using up samples would just happen organically - and now I'm back thinking it won't, so at least I can give this my best shot and see how it goes.
I'd contemplated a total halt on my full-sized products and focusing solely on the samples for about a month, but in the end, I don't feel comfortable doing that; I do think it would be too much of a bother, and I don't want to risk my skin freaking out on me. So instead, I've decided on a more gentle approach: I will incorporate as many samples as I can, substituting some, but not all of the products in my regular routine, and I will switch back and forth depending on how I feel, especially with regards to potentially less troublesome body and haircare.

For the sake of my sanity and enthusiasm for this project, I would like to focus more on discovering some new favorites through using my samples, or at least squashing some lemmings. If it turns out I absolutely hate a given sample - no pressure, I'll just toss it. In the end, its purpose is exactly that: to allow me to try a product out, and if I dislike it, there's the end of that. I'd prefer not to think of this project as some using up race where I need to bang out foil packets with the speed of light in order to succeed.
Since I generally use very little of any given product (maybe except for sunscreen), I'm giving myself two months to focus on this project; one-use sachets usually last me between 2 to 4 uses, so it may take a while before I make any significant progress. I will do a Project Finale towards the end of June to show you the final sample empties count, but in the meantime, if I find some outstanding products, I may do a separate favorites round-up. What do you think? Also, if this sounds appealing to you in any way, I'd be over the moon if you wanted to join me! You don't have to be a fellow blogger, just post on Twitter or Instagram and tag me, or use a hashtag... Why, #useupthosefreakinsamples, of course.

Monday, May 4, 2015

You Win Some, You Lose Some: Heroine Make Volume & Curl Mascara and Mascara Remover

I'm feeling very blah towards this review; but this is the mascara I've been using, so may as well share my thoughts on it with you, right? Last year, Jenni brought this mascara over for me from Hong Kong, saying this was one of her favorites and a must-try from Asian brands. We're talking about the Kiss Me Heroine Make Volume & Curl Mascara in Black (about $8-11 on eBay and Amazon, or $15 for the set) from Isehan, a Japanese company which is very popular in Asia. I had other mascaras I wanted to use up back then, but I was super excited to try it and filed it away for next summer since I had heard that Japanese mascaras were super longwearing as well as water and sweat-proof.
She actually picked up this duo pack for me, which also came with a mascara remover; I saw my dear friend Claire talking about mascara removers on her blog, so I was also curious to see how that would work for me. The packaging is a little excessive for two small tubes and maybe a bit too kawaii for my tastes, but hey - I won't judge a book by its cover. It's the mascara inside that counts.
Let's start with the Volume & Curl Mascara, shall we? As you can hopefully see, it's a typical wire-type brush in a somewhat conical shape that tapers at the end. It's a flattened cone though; the bristles are only longer on two sides when viewed in profile, not all around. The brush is just the right size for my eye, which is to say, it's a bit smaller than the length of my actual eyes, which makes it quite easy to manipulate.
The brush has a tendency to pick up a huge glob of mascara at the very tip, which usually results in my getting said glob on some part of my eyelid, while not holding a whole lot of product on the rest of the wand - quite annoying. It wouldn't be a deal breaker though IF I liked the formula of this mascara, but unfortunately, I don't. Despite the name, I don't find it particularly curling or volumizing, unless you mistake large clumps and spidery lashes for volume; can you tell I really wasn't impressed?
I'm not sure if maybe this would fare better on different lashes than mine; but on my relatively long, full, curly lashes, Heroine Make Volume & Curl actually gives the appearance of fewer lashes by clumping the existing ones together into uneven spider legs. Just to show you exactly what I mean, I've compared two coats of Heroine Make in the top photo to two coats of Laura Geller GlamLASH Dramatic Volumizing Mascara on the bottom - see the difference in fullness and definition? Mind you, Glam Lash is one of the better mascaras that I've tried in a while, but once you find a really, really nice mascara, it's a bit hard to accept something subpar. As for the longwearing part, I actually still find that the Heroine Make sometimes transfers onto my browbone and/or flakes slightly throughout the day (just like the Glam Lash); however, it also gives me stiff, crunchy lashes and is impossibly difficult to remove, unless you're using...
... their fabulous Mascara Remover. This unassuming plastic applicator with little grooves works incredibly well to coat the lashes with a clear make-up remover, which I then let sit on my lashes for a minute or two while I massage the rest of my face with a cleansing oil. I will then apply the small amount of cleansing oil I still have on my palms to my lashes, work it in for a while, and then all of my eye make-up comes off easily when I emulsify and rinse the cleanser with warm water. If you think that maybe it's my cleansing oil that's doing all the work here, you're wrong. I've tried using my Shu Uemura Anti/Oxi oil alone to remove the Heroine Make mascara, and it barely budged. Add the Mascara Remover to the equation - everything can be removed quickly and easily without losing precious lashes in the process.
All in all, I guess you win some (Mascara Remover) and you lose some (Volume & Curl Mascara). My pal Citrine has recently reviewed the Long & Curl version and had slightly better results, so maybe that's something worth looking into. However, after this first foray, I don't place a lot of trust in the Heroine Make brand; I may try a different company next time to see if there's another Japanese mascara I may like.

Have you tried any Japanese mascaras? What are your three top favorite mascaras of all time - because I know choosing just one is nigh on impossible :)