Friday, May 27, 2011

FOTD: Summer Sunset

Warm oranges and corals are very much in right now, so I thought I'd share my going out make-up from a couple weeks ago. Most of the time, I tend to mix warm and cool shades on the eyes to introduce a bit of a contrast. Orange and purple are a divine combination which reminds me a lot of a beautiful summer sunset, hence the title of this post!

I even managed to color coordinate my nail polish, which is by Essence by the way. I also used my favorite matte coral lipstick, Wet'n'Wild Hot Paris Pink that I wrote about earlier, and La Femme blush in Pink Velvet. I was struggling with a lot of dry bits, so I just stuck to my regular mineral foundation.

On the eyes, I used MAC All That Glitters all over the lid, Inglot purple shade no. 439 in the outer corner and slightly into the crease, Inglot matte orange/red no. 366 to blend the purple inwards and NYX Ultramania Pearl pigment in Oro right above my pupil. Oro and that Inglot glowing purple are simply to die for!

You can see the warmth of the coppery shades making my dark brown eyes appear more hazel.

In other news, excuse my less frequent posting these days; I'm mostly busy studying, translating, and trying to settle everything at my faculty. Thank you for all your lovely wishes! My skin is taking the toll a bit at the minute, but I'll be posting more looks soon, together with some Polish cosmetics hauls and maybe outfits of the day. Does that sound good?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Rocaille Raves: La Femme Blush on Rouge

There are those days in the life of every woman when she feels a strong craving for a new blush. For some, these probably just come about every couple years, but for me, they occur more often than not. A couple of weeks ago I was feeling particularly peckish, watched another Wayne Goss' video and promptly decided I needed some La Femme in my life.

As you already know from the title of this post, I cannot find a fault with these beauties. Retailing for the bargainous price of $2.50, these beauties are one of the most pigmented, smooth and long-lasting blushes in my collection. The pan holds a generous 5.5 grams of product and is slightly bigger than a Stila eyeshadow/ blush pan. The shade and finish selection is immense, and so far I have managed to accumulate six.

Clockwise from top: Pink Velvet, Coral, Mocha, Flamingo Pink, Orchid Ice, Mandarin Red

Pink Velvet is a matte bright pink; it has slightly more warm than cool tones and would probably suit all complexions.
Coral is a matte orangey red; compared to Benefit's CORALista, it's much deeper in hue and has less pink. Still, it looks great even against cooler undertones and is possibly my favorite with a tan.
Mocha is a rosey brown with slight golden shimmer, quite beautiful in a very understated way.
Flamingo Pink is a very cool matte pink, almost leaning on purple. It's very brightening, but would possibly look a bit odd against warmer undertones or on deeper skins.
Orchid Ice is a berry pink with blue shimmer, quite similar to the NYX Mega Shine gloss in African Queen, but in a blush form. The shimmer does translate quite well on the skin, giving the blush a lot of dimension. Such a unique shade!
Mandarin Red is a corally/ peachy pink with golden shimmer, again very beautiful on the cheeks and probably wearable for most complexions. It's perfect for the warm season and I reach for it whenever in doubt.

(L-R): Pink Velvet, Mandarin Red, Coral, Orchid Ice, Flamingo Pink, Mocha

In fact, I love these babies so much that I took only them with me on my month and a half trip to Poland! I stuck them in my Z-Palette and I'm reaching for them every day. So far, I'm still not bored.

As you can see in the swatches, the colors look quite beautiful on the skin. Some colors are slightly more pigmented than the others, with Pink Velvet being possibly the least vibrant of the bunch. However, this still means you need to tap off the brush on the back of your hand if you want to avoid extremely dolly cheeks! The matte shades are also a bit less smooth and more powdery than the shimmer ones, but still very blendable and easy to work with.

Have you tried La Femme blushes? Which colors are your cup of tea?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Review: Manly 120 Eyeshadow Palette

I've torn myself away from the books (ok, and my garden chair bathed in sunshine) to review this beautiful new gem of a palette for you, which includes so many bright and juicy colors it'll make your head spin! It did mine anyway, and I was happy to play and come up with some vibrant looks, like the chartreuse and brown Elie Saab inspired make-up.

Although the packaging states 'eyeshadow and blush', I wouldn't use the palette for blusher due to the size of the pans, unless you have very small cheeks (and blush brushes). It's one of those double-stacked palettes, which comes with two inserts, 60 shades each, housed in a solid black plastic case. I like this solution, because it saves a lot of space without compromising the size of the eyeshadows, which is approximately 1cmx1cm.

Bottom insert

Top insert

But what about the pigmentation, I hear you ask? Well... it's good and it's bad. Some shades, especially the darker ones with a pearl finish, perform amazingly well with a strong and smooth shade application. Others, like the light colors with a matte finish, need a couple layers to build up the instensity, and seem a lot more powdery and dry than the frosts and pearls. It is not very surprising to me, given that most of my matte shades perform worse than the shimmery ones, which I'm sure has something to do with the ingredients.

Dry swatches of shades across the palette, no primer, including matte, satin, glitter and pearl/frost finishes.

The palette retails for $23.46, which is comparable to other similar palettes on the market. Compared to my Coastal Scents Eyeshadow and Blush palette, I feel it is just as good in terms of quality, but lacks a wider selection of neutral shades. This makes it perfect for the more adventurous looks I like to create for the blog, but not that useful for everyday wear. If you're a fan of brights, I feel this is worth investing in, otherwise I would probably look for something else.

What is your favorite palette for the more colorful looks?

Disclaimer: The eyeshadow palette was provided to me for review consideration by I am not compensated to feature them on my blog nor am I affiliated with the brand. All opinions are my own and 100% honest, as always!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Ins & Outs: Travel Edition

I haven't done of these in ages, and thought it'd be a good way to give you a little update on my life in the next 6 weeks...

- winning two giveaways! I won a copy of Can You Get Hooked on Lip Balm? book from Katie's blog, and a surprise package from Delyteful Speaks (who, btw, deserves way more subscribers, so go show her some blog love!). How cool is that?
- subscribing to Birchbox! If you're not familiar with the idea, it's a monthly $10 subscription service where you're sent deluxe samples of different high-end beauty products. I've just received my first box, and will be reviewing its contents in due course.

- Spring cleaning! I've cleared out our hallway closet from winter coats, snowboarding jackets, knee-high boots, hats and scarves to make some room for spring and summer clothes and accessories. It looks so much more organized now!
- homemade fruit smoothies! Into this one went a slush of orange juice, frozen strawberries and mango. Yummy...

- Haus of Gloi Milkmaid Whipped Soap: I use it every other day in my bath and absolutely love the subtle, clean floral scent. It's very feminine and perfect before bedtime, so relaxing. I like the texture a lot too, it reminds me of a meringue.
- shopping at TJ Maxx and DSW. Me and Mr. managed to score some amazing deals, including a gorgeous yellow genuine leather handbag. Unfortunately, not for me; nearly all of the things we bought were gifts I'm taking with me to...
- the big news: travelling to Poland again, for a month and a half. I can't wait to meet my family and friends, taste my mum's delicious cooking, enjoy the warm sunny May weather (unlike the rain and cold here in Seattle) in my parents' luscious green garden, haul some Polish make-up, including but not limited to Inglot... As you're reading this, I'm probably already scouring some duty-free make-up counters at Sea-Tac.

- travelling to Poland. The reason for my trip is that I'm taking my finals and defending my MA thesis at Uni, and the stress of that long stretch of exams is not making me happy. In fact, I had a slight panic attack Sunday morning, which I spent trailing tears into my scrumbled eggs. I'm better now though and believe I CAN do it.
- less and less time to myself (see above). I hope that my trip won't disturb my blog too much, and I've already got a couple posts scheduled ahead for when I won't be able to sit down to write, as well as a tonne of photos that need editing. However, should any irregularities occur, please bear with me; I'm graduating! Also, I'll return home together with my parents, who'll stay for another 3 weeks, so that might influence regular posting as well.
- the flight. I really don't like these 17-hour transatlantic journeys; luckily, this time my Polish friends have booked the exact same flight, so I'll feel less lonely in their company!
- skin woes. My skin went a bit haywire these past two weeks, going from extremely dehydrated to broken out, but I believe I'm already on the mend.

What are your Ins & Outs this week, my lovelies?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

FOTD: Elie Saab SS 2011 Inspired Chartreuse

Another Spring/Summer 2011 runway inspired look for you, this time based on Elie Saab's bold chartreuse and brown smokey make-up. I totally loved this look and found it a very wearable way to rock some bolder yellow and green hues (and yes, I went grocery shopping in it as well).

I used a new 120 eyeshadow palette from Manly for the look, which I'll be reviewing in detail later this month. But it's not bad, right? I've kept the cheeks and lips very neutral, with a touch of my Stila 'Hint' blusher and NYX Megashine lipgloss in Beige lightly patted on.

I couldn't keep myself from posting this cheeky shot - plus you get to see the eye make-up quite well here.

Do you ever incorporate chartreuse into your looks?

Disclaimer: The eyeshadow palette was provided to me for review consideration by I am not compensated to feature them on my blog nor am I affiliated with the brand. All opinions are my own and 100% honest, as always!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Review: Graftobian Hi-Def Glamour Creme Foundation

Graftobian Hi-Def Glamour Creme Foundation seems to be all the rage these days and has been rumoured to be worn by Kate Middleton on her big day. I actually ordered it some time before the Royal Wedding on Wayne Goss' recommendation and have been testing it for a while now to see whether it lives up to the hype.

Grafotbian claims this foundation is 'arguably the number one HD creme foundation on the market [...] being used and loved by professionals throughout the makeup artist industry across the globe'. It promises ultra-light application and there are 64 shades in the range to cater for every shade and skintone. The foundation comes in a compact 1/2 oz. dish with a clear screw-on top ($9-$14.99), as well as undertone-coordinated palettes ($19.99-$23.99).

I ordered mine, along with some La Femme blushes (review coming soon) from MakeUpMania, who seem to have the lowest prices on Graftobian and La Femme products online. Initially I was very happy with the customer service, who responded promptly to my request to alter the order and include something extra. But then... I waited 2 weeks and my parcel was still not shipped. No one replied to my message. Just when I started thinking my order might not be happening, it was shipped with a tracking number and arrived a couple days later along with some freebies to (I guess) make up for the wait. I also got a follow-up message from the company saying they were sorry for the delay and giving me a discount coupon code for my next purchase, which I used soon after. My second order was shipped within 2 days. What I'm trying to say is basically that while there were some issues with my order, I'm happy with how the company addressed and resolved them. All in all, I can definitely recommend their website.

Online ordering aside, I really like the Graftobian Hi-Def Glamour Creme foundation. It has quite a dry consistency that melts upon contact with the skin, making it very easy to apply - no streaks and even coverage that can be sheered out to almost nothing, which I enjoy since I don't like wearing foundation on the sides of my face. The finish is semi-matte and the coverage medium but buildable. Set with powder (MAC Blot Powder), it lasts extremely well on my oily skin. I wore it for over 12 hours yesterday and by the time I removed it around 1 am, my nose was a bit shiny, but the rest of the face was basically intact. It's the longest wearing foundation I've ever tried and the best at controlling the oils, though it's not waterproof. Although it makes my skin look a bit drier than it really is, it still looks and feels very much like healthy, smooth skin and not at all mask-like.

On that last note, its biggest drawback is the fact that it WILL accentuate every bit of dryness you might have on your face. It will cling to dried out blemishes and unexfoliated skin, making them more prominent. I've tried it with a primer, I've tried applying with a damp sponge, I've tried setting with a hydrating mist - the dryness is still there. For this reason, I would not recommend it to people struggling with dryness and dehydration or active breakouts (but then, my dry bits are being pretty nasty at the moment).

I initially ordered Buff, the lightest cool shade they used to make before the introduction of extremely light shades. Buff is slightly too pale on me, which makes me think it must be somewhere around MAC's NW10 range. Since then I also got Aurora, which is 2 steps up and somewhere around MAC NW20-NW25. The mix of predominantly Buff with a touch of Aurora is perfect for me this time of the year, and I love how easy it'll be to customize my shade throughout the summer. While Buff is a very pink based shade, Aurora seems to have more peachy tones, which makes sense as it's exactly the color my skin tans to naturally. Here's a shade comparison for you:

Overall, I'm very happy with the product and will most probably repurchase. You'll see me wearing the Graftobian HD Glamour Creme very soon in an upcoming bright make-up look, so stay tuned for that!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Etsy Find: Edor Jewelry

Whenever I have some spare funds in my PayPal account, I go browsing on Etsy for cute jewelry. In the past, I'd had mixed luck with my purchases; while some pieces looked beautiful in the photos, in person the craftsmanship was far from perfect with different shades of metal and a rough finish.

Not so this time! When I came by Cindy's shop, I instantly fell in love with her pieces. Subtle, dainty, well-designed - it was exactly what I was looking for! After a lot of thought, I ordered Sentiment Hammered Gold necklace and impatiently awaited the little parcel. When I finally opened it, I was blown away by the beautiful workmanship and ordered two more necklaces, another Sentiment for my mum and silver Pure for myself. Just look how lovely they are!

Sentiment necklace with hammered gold fill ovals

Pure silver necklace with a clear quartz gem

As you can see, the packaging is also very nice and elegant, Cindy's customer service was helpful and shipping prompt and secure. I believe that if you're ordering more than one piece, Cindy ships your parcel with signature confirmation to make sure it reaches you safely.

I can't recommend Edor enough and surely will be back for more of her designs - I'm wearing my two necklaces in constant rotation, yet there are no signs of wear. If you like delicate everyday pieces in the spirit of Dogeared, you'll love her store... and it's reasonably priced too!

What's your favorite piece of jewelry these days?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Review: L'Oreal Volume Million Lashes Mascara

Another one in my quest for the Holy Grail mascara... L'Oreal claims this little gaudy tube will "millionize your lashes" with a "millionizer brush for a fanned out effect" and "excess wiper for no overload, no clumps" - someone at L'Oreal got a bit too happy with neologisms. Silly marketing blurb aside, let's see how it performed on my lashes.

- The packaging. I actually really like it and don't find it that tacky compared to some other offerings... The tube is sleek, has a unique shape and looks quite elegant on my vanity.
- The brush; I usually prefer the rubber bristles as I find them to be more separating than the classic ones. The shape and length of the bristles allows to grab and coat even the baby lashes and the corner lashes.
- The color. I think the shade I picked out is called The Blackest Black or something like that, and I do find it sufficiently dark without fading.
- The application. One coat looks nice and voluminous without clumping and doesn't require a lot of time or effort. There's also some lengthening action, which I appreciate.

- On the second coat, you can see some clumping action appearing at the very tips of my lashes, which is something I hate and find myself picking at whenever there's a mirror in sight.
- It flakes. Oh boy, it does. When you remove it by the end of the day, it also comes off in little flakes, quite similarly to a tubing mascara. Interesting.
- The "excess wiper" is nothing else than a fancily named stopper, and there's still some excess product at the tip of the brush, which has to be scraped off on the sides of the tube.
- The smell. As far as I remember, all L'Oreal mascaras have this particular scent, which I personally don't mind but would prefer a non scented version due to possible irritations.

Top: one coat of mascara, bottom: two coats.

Would I repurchase? From the L'Oreal family, I think so far my favorite's been the Telescopic and Volume Million Lashes hasn't managed to overthrow it. It's a very decent product, minus the flaking, but still not nearly a Holy Grail material. So, no, I wouldn't repurchase for now. The quest continues.

Which mascara would you like to see reviewed next?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Rocaille Redes: Make-up Tips for Almond-Shaped Eyes

This post has been suggested by the lovely Fleur-de-Lis, who admitted she had problems with applying her eyeshadows because of having a rather small lid space. For a Caucasian, I have rather small lids as well with not that much of a crease; my eye shape somewhat resembles that of an almond, which can be tricky when it comes to eye make-up. I feel that for this particular shape, many tips on Asian/monolid eyes apply better than the standard make-up rules.

To help some of you who might have the same problem, I've prepared a little step-by-step tutorial featuring Urban Decay Naked Palette and EcoTools brushes. If you don't have that, just grab any neutral shadows you might have and your favorite eye brushes; the principle remains the same.

1. Start with a well-primed eye, or just dab a bit of foundation on the lids to even out the skintone. I'm using Benefit F.Y.eye primer.

2. Apply a champagne base color like UD Sin all over the lid up to the crease.

3. In the crease, apply a small amount of a matte light/medium brown, like UD Naked mixed in with a bit of UD Buck. This step is optional; I'm just doing it to warm the skin up a little. Also, apply the same shade at the lower lashline, going about half of the way in.

4. In the outer V (the very outer corner of the eye at the lashline and a little bit into the crease), apply a darker grey/brown shade like UD Darkhorse. Blend inwards.

5. With an angled brush, apply a bit more of the darkest shade (Darkhorse) at the lashline and flick it out at the outer corner slightly.

6. Apply a light cream satin shade like Virgin to the inner corners. I've skipped applying the eyeshadow under my browbone as I feel it often looks a bit too much on me.

7. Curl your lashes, add your favorite mascara and you're done!

The basic rule I follow is not to go too far in with my crease color, or in most cases, just skip the crease altogether and just apply the darker shadow to the outer V/ outer third of the eye. Also, I very rarely use a dark pencil to fill in my waterline; it just looks way too harsh and makes my eyes appear smaller. Instead, I prefer lining my upper lash line with a little flick at the end. It further accentuates and elongates my eye shape. That's it; nothing ground-breaking, but I hope it helps, or at least you know how I use my Naked Palette for an everyday neutral look.

What is your favorite eye make-up tip?