Monday, April 30, 2012

In My Shopping Bag This Month...

That's what self-imposed limited make-up budget does to a beauty addict...

Cat-eye sunglasses: Nine West at TJMaxx, Sunglasses case: Corinne McCormack at TJMaxx, Elemis Tranquil Touch Exotic Stars set at Nordstrom Rack (candle, bath oil, body wash, body cream)

Elemis Tranquil Touch candle, Thierry Mugler Angel mini perfume at eBay, Clinique Gel Eyeliner in True Black at, feather necklace at Forever 21

O.P.I Nail Lacquers in Panda-Monium Pink, A Oui Bit of Red and The One That Got Away (all three currently being discontinued), Revlon Colorstay nail polish in Calla Lily, Color Club nail polish in Metamorphosis at RiteAid

bdellium tools brushes: Precision Kabuki Airburshed Effect Brush no. 957, Large Overall Shadow Eye Brush no. 778, Shading Blending Eye Brush no. 776, Precision Eye and Brow Brush no. 957 at

Sam Edelman Purple Calypso Quilted Flats at Nordstrom Rack, The GAP Tri-Blend Raglan Ts in Casual Coral and Blue Iris, The LOFT mint tank top, Ann Taylor Petite Back Zip Striped 3/4 Sleeve Top

Grey and apricot skirt at Camaieu, apricot scarf, crochet lace front cardi at Mojito (all gifts from my parents back at home)

What have you been shopping for this month?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Review & Swatches: YSL Glossy Stain in no. 15 Rose Vinyl

I acquired this Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture Vernis À Lèvres Glossy Stain (which is quite possibly the longest name for a lip product in the history of time) in no. 15 Rose Vinyl as a present to myself for getting a new job; but really, any excuse would have been appropriate. The YSL Glossy Stains have been 'the thing' for a while now, and after a not-so-subtle nudging from Suka & Spice ('Get it! Get it!!!'), I knew I wanted in.

The YSL Vernis À Lèvres (lip laquers, $32 for 0.2 fl oz.) are a curious hybrid of a stain with a gloss with the texture of a sticky liquid lipstick. The glossy stain definitely feels quite peculiar on the lips and make the wearer ponder the mysteries of modern cosmetic chemistry; or it could be just me. My favorite way of applying the stain is to put on a sheer coat and smooth it on the lips with a finger, and then top off with a more generous second coat. The effect is a gorgeous glossy pout that lasts for at least 4 hours in mint condition - I can't really attest to the wear above that, because a girl has to eat. It also lasts reasonably well through nibbling, but a larger meal would require some consequent touch-ups.

I'm a big proponent of the packaging - for once, it looks stylish, for twice, it features a window enabling you to see how much product is left in the tube, for thrice, the applicator is pure genius. How lush... and furry.

The shade 15 Rose Vinyl is a medium yellow pink; rather bright, but definitely in the everyday category in my book. It has teeny tiny shimmers running through, so fine that I can't really detect their color at all. To me, Rose Vinyl seems like an excellent universal pink, wearable on both cool and warm skintones. Very, very pretty. In the arm swatch, Rose Vinyl is on the right, compared to Sleek Pout Polish in Pink Cadillac on the left, the only vaguely similar shade in my collection; and I have a lot of pinks, believe me. As a side note, it seems that both Sephora and Nordstrom each have a shade that's exclusive to their counters.

In the lip swatches, the top one is one layer worked in with a finger, the middle is two coats, the bottom is what's left of the stain after vigorous removal with a tissue.

Lastly, as a bonus, myself wearing both YSL Glossy Stain in Rose Vinyl AND a pair of glasses; how dapper...

Have you tried YSL Glossy Stains? What is your favorite shade?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Review: Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum Foundation

Until recently, I wasn't really into foundations at all. Sure, I wore one or another all the time to cover my problematic skin, but I think because of the fact that I had so much to cover, I would just focus so much more on having a good concealer rather than the foundation I was using.

However, since my skin has been a lot better for the past couple of months, I started looking into foundations a lot more; which is why I bought this Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum foundation (~10 pounds for 30ml/ 1 fl oz.), especially after hearing so many great things about it in the online beauty community. I thought my collection could use a lighter coverage, more natural finish base, and this seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum is a light to medium coverage gel foundation with a semi-matte finish. The texture is more of a gel when it initially comes out of the bottle, but once you start buffing it in, it becomes a lot more liquid. It has a fresh fruity/apple scent that doesn't really linger on the skin but that is quite noticeable during application.

The foundation feels very lightweight on the skin and looks rather natural too with its satin, skin-like finish. Unfortunately, it definitely has a tendency to sink into the pores a little bit, as you can see in the photo below where I'm wearing just the foundation alone. I find that even wearing a silicone-based primer underneath doesn't really prevent that, so up-close it's not the greatest on me. The amount of coverage is just what I was looking for - it evens out the skintone nicely, but doesn't cover blemishes/hyperpigmentation completely, which is what I use my concealer for. Still, my biggest gripe with the product is that I tend to get shiny when I wear it very quickly; 1-2 hours into wear, it almost seems like it provokes oil production in my skin because I usually don't get shiny that quickly. Set with a powder and blotted throughout the day, it doesn't completely slide off by the end of the day though.

L-R: Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum in no.51 Light Vanilla, Revlon Colorstay in Ivory, Estee Lauder Double Wear Light in Intensity 1
Despite these drawbacks, I still like wearing Healthy Mix Serum when I'm out and about for just a couple hours; it's just so quick and easy to throw on. I like applying it with a buffing brush/flat top kabuki, but fingers work well too. In terms of shade selection, it seems to be rather standard for Bourjois - Light Vanilla no.51 looks too dark and too yellow in the swatch, but because the formulation is more sheer, it appears to adapt to my cooler skintone nicely (I'm about NW15 in MAC for reference).

Have you tried any Bourjois foundations? What is your favorite skin-like foundation?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Review: L'Oréal Colour Riche Balm in Rose Elixir

I was quite intrigued when I heard L'Oréal had been coming out with their version of a tinted lip balm, the Colour Riche Balms. In all honesty, Revlon Lip Butters haven't entirely satisfied my criteria for the perfect tinted balm, so I decided to pick up one Balm in the shade Rose Elixir, one of the lightest shades in the range. What can I say, I was going through a nude make-up phase (and clearly being delusional, that idea never works out for me).

I'm quite keen on the packaging - I like transparent caps reflecting the shade of the lip balm inside, and the gold is rather elegant too. Sadly, that's the only thing I liked about this product.

The problem with Rose Elixir is simple: the pigmentation is extremly sheer. What you see below in the swatches is the shade at its full opacity, meaning at least seven swipes and really packed on the lips. The result? It pretty much looks like a clear lip gloss. Not a clear lip balm, mind you, since it seems the Balms have a nice sheen to them, no shimmer.

My other gripe was the scent and the taste; the Colour Riche Balm has a floral perfumey scent that translates into that horrid soapy aftertaste in your mouth, maybe because these also have an SPF of 15. As expected, it also didn't last on the lips in the slightest. Basically, my verdict would be that Rose Elixir is for gals who only like clear glossy balm on their lips, but want to make themselves feel experimental and sophisticated. Just... no. Stick to that tube of Chapstick and save yourself some pennies.

Have you tried L'Oréal Colour Riche Balms? What is your favorite sheer lipstick/ tinted lip balm formula?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

New Hair... Again!

I've just realized I hadn't shown you my new haircut yet; I got it last Monday! My slowly-growing-out hair was simply driving me crazy and I couldn't wait any longer, so I decided to have it cut in a style at least approximate to what I'm aiming for - a 1920's straight bob.

On the sides, you can see that my hair is still not quite long enough, so there are some strange pieces sticking out, but it's a huge improvement from my hair just 'being there', as my husband observed. I've never had a straight full bangs before and wasn't quite sure whether my face suited them, but I'm really happy with how it turned out. It looks quite vintage, but not old-fashioned... I think!

On my stylist's suggestion, I also made a big overhaul of my haircare; to be honest, I'd never given much attention to my hair and hair products, but I've found that using things suited to your hair type and style really does make a difference. I don't particularly like styling my hair, but with my new haircut, it only takes about 15 minutes, is super easy and makes a big difference to how my hair looks and holds on throughout the washes (I wash my hair every two days).

Oh, and just a quick note about my hair color, since I got a lot of questions the last time I posted something hair-related. This is my natural hair color and I've never had my hair color-treated, apart from some highlights a couple years ago. In the photos, it looks quite red, but really the color changes quite a bit depending on the lighting - it varies from dark blonde, through ashy brown, to reddish chestnut color. I wish it would actually appear more red-toned more often!

Have you ever gone for a straight bob? Do you like your natural hair color?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Massive Empties!

I always put off posting my empties updates in hopes of finishing up a couple more products, which results in my stack just getting bigger and bigger! I managed to use up quite a few products in the last three months, no?

Starting with haircare, me and Mr. painstakingly used up that dreadful jumbo Garnier Fructis shampoo - Mr. got it last year I think, didn't like it and just put it under the sink; that's his usual strategy when something he buys doesn't work out for him. I really wanted to get rid of that bugger though, so I dug it up. I also used up the Finesse Clean + Simple shampoo I got around Christmas when eczema on my hands was really acting up; my mum actually suggested it might be because of the shampoo I was using. That theory didn't prove right in practice, and the shampoo was ok, nothing special. Lastly, I finished off the Bumble & Bumble Bb Tonic (Lotion?) - I'd say this is a very expensive water spray with a bit of tea tree oil mixed in. In short, it did absolutely nothing for my hair (again, it was initially Mr.'s, but he got bored with it too).

Now for bodycare, my empties are mostly misses as well. I hereby vow to never ever again buy a Philosophy shower gel/bubble bath/shampoo; I find it smelt very chemically sweet and was rather drying. The Ophelia's Apothecary Whipped Soap is definitely not on par with Haus of Gloi's products, plus the texture was quite lumpy. Shikai Borage Therapy Hand Cream did not deliver on its promises either, I like that it was unscented though. As for the Vaseline Sheer Infusion body lotion, I actually think it's a pretty good drugstore body lotion - sinks in fast and feels quite hydrating on. I was also surprised with Tom's Crystal Confidence deodorant; this stuff really does work! I since switched to much more expensive La Vanilla's natural deodorant, but so far I can't get it to work for me. Lastly, my last bottle of Joanna's body exfoliant bites the dust now.

I also emptied some long overdue skincare and make-up items: mostly samples, but a few full-sized products as well. Starting with samples, I very much enjoyed using the Bellefontaine 24H Repairing Perfect Serum and the Lift Lab Lift & Fix High Potency Solution, although both are a bit too pricey for me to invest in a full size right now. The Clinique All About Eyes eye cream layered nicely under concealer, but after just a few hours, my undereye area would feel bone dry. I'm still planning on reviewing that Estee Lauder Sumptuous mascara, so watch out for that!

As for full-sized skincare products, I really do not get the hype around these Yes to Cucumbers Facial Towelettes. For once, I'm not a huge fan of make-up wipes, but these in particular really stung my face, and they're supposed to be soothing! I'm really happy to see The Body Shop Yes! Yes! Yes! Tantalizing Lip Butter go - it looked dreadful on my lips, was not moisturizing at all, and tasted absolutely terrible - I had to use it up on my elbows and knees. The Sweet Beauty lip balm was just ok, I won't repurchase, and lastly the Angel Face Botanicals Blemish Soother hasn't been used up, but needed to go anyway; I didn't really find it to be very effective either.

And there you have it! A lot of products I'm really happy not to have in my collection anymore - using them up really was quite a challenge for me. The experience of using up products has definitely taught me to be much more selective in my shopping choices; I love having a more streamlined collection!

Have you emptied a lot of products recently? What has been the most difficult product to use up?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Lipstick Bandits: Universally Nude

Just to make things clear, this is not a post in which Lipstick Bandits undress together to pose for a charity calendar or something: it is about a universally nude lipstick, of course!

We'd been racking our brains for the longest time on this one - how do we find a lipstick that is beautifully wearable across our very different skintones and also readily available around the world? There have been many suggestions, but finally Tracy came up with our perfect lippie, which is nude to boot!

Ladies and gents, I present you MAC Viva Glam V. I'm not entirely sure what it is about this lipstick, but I walked past Viva Glam V every time I visited the counter, even though it's one of the most popular shades and I support MAC's AIDS cause with all my heart. So when I came home with this after our final decision, I wasn't too impressed to be honest. I mean, just look - it's... brown. With sparkles.

And then, it just looks so right on! As you can see in the lip swatches below, MAC Viva Glam V definitely leans more pink on my pinky lips; worn sheer as in the top swatch, it lets a lot of my natural lip color show through, worn opaque it covers all my lip imperfections, and worn with a nude pink gloss on top (Stila Guava) it shimmers with gold and glides over the lip. I've been wearing this bottom combo for the past week, and it's a great work appropriate lip look!

Compared to other nudes in my collection, it's most similar to Maybelline Color Sensational lipstick in Caramel Kiss, but a bit lighter. It's still a close enough dupe if you're looking for a less expensive alternative.

In the daylight full face shot, you can also see that Viva Glam V is definitely not a dark shade - it looks very subtle, but never washes me out, as most nudes tend to do. I have a lot of Lustres in my MAC lipstick collection, and this formulation doesn't disappoint in Viva Glam V either - the golden shimmer is very fine and provides just a bit of extra shine and dimension to the color.

To see how MAC Viva Glam V looks on other Lipstick Bandits, make sure to check out the links below!

Which lipstick do you find universally flattering? What is your favorite nude lip product?