Sunday, 4 December 2011

Drivel About Frivol

Recent discussions on makeupalley and thought-provoking posts (on arsaromatica for example) have helped me crystallise some things about What Makeup Is To Me (right now, subject to drastic change in the next five minutes).

It all boils down to this: taste is a verb as well as a noun.

Some see playing with makeup as a series of edits to evolve the ultimate repertoire of 'individualised tweaks' to suit your natural canvas (which for me includes not only physical features but lifestyle and preferences): experimentation is a means to an end, and ultimately taste acts as a concentric force, drawing in the best and discarding the inferior. There is much pleasure to be had in this process of refining -- nothing like a bit of asceticism to sharpen certain aesthetic pleasures.

Excentric is the physical opposite to concentric, and exerts its own pull. It can be thrilling to escape the self through makeup, to let it wear you, to enjoy it as a costume, to throw yourself into a new trend which does not remotely flatter and perhaps most subversively of all, to employ the deliberately deceptive potential of artifice in 'no-makeup' looks, to make yourself look subtly more right for whatever situation.

Ultimately, this hobby is capacious enough to contain both types of potentialities and many more besides; my own keyword of choice sits at an angle to both excentic and concentric tendencies and intersects with both -- eccentric. And, likewise with a long and very English history, amateur with its Latin root amāre, 'to love'.

To pervert Oscar Wilde, lipsticks are both the elements of autobiography and the instruments of fiction.

Two recent looks
1. Inspired by catwalk minimalist trends, dispensing with some of my preferred elements (bright blush and lipstick, dewy skin) and comfort-blanket 'flattering' tricks (curled lashes, mascara, liner, additional shades of eyeshadow to contour and create the illusion of more symmetrical features).

I look bloody miserable because it's fashion, innit?
Kevyn Aucoin SSE SX-01 over blemishes and lips
Suqqu loose powder Natural (not the most matte of powders, but I did the bet with what I had)
KATE brow gel BK-3
THREE dark green cream eyeshadow from 4D palette 02 (top right) applied in a vague haze

2. Experimenting with false lashes (which I've worn less than three times in my life) and an uncompromised mix of stark brights.
Shu Uemura Stage Performer Instant Glow and Nars Sheer Glow Siberia
Lunasol Undereye Concealer 00
Sugarpill Dollipop as blush, taken up to the temples
Sugarpill Buttercupcake, Flamepoint, Poison Plum and Bulletproof on eyes
Shu M White gel liner on waterline
Shu Tutu Flare lashes and Ultimate Natural mascara
Laura Mercier bright peachy pink lip glacé (freebie with Allure Korea)

Friday, 2 December 2011

Majolica Majorca Eyeshadow swatches -- singles and new quads

Japanese drugstore brands can come and go in the blink of an eye and Majolica Majorca (launched in 2003 by Shiseido) ranks as a veteran by now. Although it was one of my gateways into Japanese makeup, and their Lash Expander Frame Plus mascara remains a staple, its competitors Lavshuca and KATE (from Kanebo) and Visee (from Kose) have since supplanted it in my affections.

Swatching some of the newer releases, I was struck by how improved the eyeshadow formula was -- in terms of pigment and buttery feel, not far off the best textures from other drugstore lines, like KATE Dual Blend Eyes, Lavshuca Melting Eyes or Visee Glam Nude Eyes.

All swatches patted on with a fingertip.

BR793 and GR791, two permanent quads originally released in Autumn 2010. These are nominally in the Jewelling Eyes series, but are completely different (richer and more pigmented) from the rest of that range, as well as featuring more interesting colour combos. HK$138 for 4g.

artificial light

artificial light + flash

Unusually for a Japanese drugstore brand, MM also continues to make singles -- Eye Shadow Customize, retailing for HK$52 each. While certain cult shades like SV821 (supposedly a 'dupe' for Shu ME Silver 785, though I didn't find them too similar) have been discontinued, there are still some gorgeous neutrals to be getting on with.

artificial light

artificial light + flash
WT920 is pinker and has a less intense frosty/metallic finish than WT963
BE286 a delicate neutral rose gold
GD822 extremely buttery warm old gold
BR665 olive bronze with gold shimmer
BR784 cool yellow-based brown
BK922 gunmetal satin base with iridescent grey, blue and silver shimmer

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

A bit of fun (and absolutely no originality)

A friend wrote that it was a pity Addiction Revenge powder blush wasn't as multipurpose as the cheekstick, as she preferred its pink tinge. So I present: Revenge powder blush as eyeshadow!

The entire look was shamelessly -- shamelessly -- lifted wholesale from Lisa Eldridge's latest video.

All pics in artificial light without flash because I expected it to be hideous but it ended up being surprisingly bloggable. Sorry for the weird angles -- I was circling my brightest lightbulb like a particularly vapid moth.

Still, the front view shows it's never going to be the most flattering look on my asymmetrical eyes. Unless you lovely readers should have some advice...?

Addiction Revenge powder blush on eyes and (very lightly) on cheeks
KATE gel liner BK-1
Helena Rubinstein Lash Queen Fatal Blacks Waterproof mascara
Lips are a mix of Guerlain Rouge G Girly and Sonia Rykiel Sublime 02
Lunasol Undereye concealer 00
Nars Sheer Glow Siberia (man, this is yellow. I always forget that.)

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Addiction by Ayako blush swatches and another simple FOTD

Apologies for being all "ooh, shiny eyeshadows" and neglecting to swatch the three blushes that also formed part of my Addiction haul. Those who frequent MUA will know I am head-over-heels in love with these and have been wearing them almost exclusively for the last three weeks.

I reviewed the cheek stick earlier, and those giddy these-are-like-soooo-awesome rantings still hold true. In the interests of Beauty Science and fitting into-my-jeans-again, I have recently been going up to seven whole hours at a time between meals, and can now report that both shades wear indelibly with no fading or movement for at least that long. The silicone content has a very flattering plumping effect on my vertical lip-lines, and I do not need to layer balm on top as I do with Beauté stains or Becca Beach Tints after a while.

The powder blush is the smoothest, creamiest matte texture I've ever encountered, far superior to Shu Uemura, Nars, Illamasqua, MUFE, etc. It feels like a Burberry or Rouge Bunny Rouge, but is much more pigmented than the former, and less sheeny than the latter (it seems easier to create buttery-feeling powders with the addition of some shimmer). Despite the bold pigment, the powder is also extremely blendable and looks smooth even on my dry cheeks, with no patchy fading or dryness even after 14 hours of wear.

Amazing cheekstick blended and unblended (one swipe)
Revenge cheekstick blended and unblended (one swipe)
Revenge powder blush applied with brush (two layers) and sponge applicator (one swipe)

natural light, direct sun
Sorry for reiterating the one-swipiness but hey check out that pigment in just one swipe! You can of course sheer these out much further, but I a) don't trust my camera to pick up subtlety and b) am of the go bold or go home bordello school of blush application anyway.

You may have noticed that Revenge powder is slightly lighter and pinker than its namesake cheekstick. This subtle yet exquisite nuance was of course the reason I bought both. It was a highly considered decision which had nothing to do with an inability to resist red blush.

As far as I can remember, the only other shimmer-free shades in the range are Good Girl and Amazing powders, and Rose Bar and Suspicious cheeksticks; all four of those are currently at the top of my makeup wishlist / letter to Santa. Dear Ayako, more please!

Another simple look built around a cheekstick, this time Amazing rather than Revenge, on both lips and cheeks.

Other products:
Shu Uemura Stage Performer Instant Glow
Chantecaille Total Concealer Alabaster under eyes
Kevyn Aucoin SSE SX01 on blemishes
Suqqu EX-05 Usumomokurumi -- pale pink and grey shades only
Majolica Majorca LEFP
KATE brow powder BK-05

Thursday, 24 November 2011

By Terry Foundation comparision swatches -- paler shades

Those who frequent makeupalley might know that earlier this year, I embarked on a slightly deranged scheme to swatch the paler shades of foundation from as many brands as I can get my hands on. Here is a belated comparison of the two new foundations from ByTerry (Cover Expert and Sheer Expert) with the rest of the line.

Patter summary (in case those links threw you into a where's-my-big-red-pen tailspin): Both foundations retail for £44 for a 35ml squeeze-tube and are imbued with "the futuristic I.M.C® Technology (Intensive Mimetic Camouflage)," hyaluronic acid and other unspecified "regenerating active ingredients." Both promise a 'velvet' matte-yet-light-diffusing finish with shine control and moisturisation suitable for all skintypes. Cover Expert offers more coverage.

My first impressions: the scent is very strong and very sweet rose with a hefty dose of powder. (If you're familiar with the ByTerry line, it is the powdery roses of the Blush Velouté rather than the cleaner tea roses of the skincare.) Both foundations had a great deal of silicone-y slip and texture-wise are somewhere between Armani Face Fabric foundations and Becca Beach Tints; both set completely matte on my dry skin.

I can't comment further because the shade range starts off too dark -- much darker than that of the recently-discontinued Lumiere Veloutée, which provided my only near-match in the line.

natural light
foundation swatch By Terry ByTerry Cover Expert 1 Fair Beige Cover Expert 2 Neutral Beige Sheer Expert 1 Fair Beige Sheer Expert 2 Neutral Beige Teint Délectation 1 Milky Vanilla Touche Veloutée concealer pen 1 Porcelain Light Expert foundation brush 101 Beige Light Light Expert foundation brush 1 Rosy Light

Left to Right:
Chantecaille Future Skin Porcelain (as a reference, because Chante was the next counter over)
The rest are all ByTerry:
Cover Expert 1 Fair Beige
Cover Expert 2 Neutral Beige
Sheer Expert 1 Fair Beige
Sheer Expert 2 Neutral Beige
Teint Délectation 1 Milky Vanilla
Touche Veloutée concealer pen 1 Porcelain
Light Expert foundation brush 101 Beige Light
Light Expert foundation brush 1 Rosy Light

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Shiseido Luminizing Satin Face Colour swatches

Shiseido is a brand that is finally gaining some recognition among beauty junkies, but whose makeup still flies very much under the radar, if my usually somewhat forlorn counters are any indication. That is a crying shame, because while the makeup has always of good quality, the textures and colour combinations have been consistently exquisite and inspirational since Dick Page took over as artistic director.

These powder blushes and highlighters come in at a generous 6.5g each, with a usable portable brush and sleek black plastic compact. The shade selection is a tightly-edited line-up of wearable, elegant shades (no candied lavenders or flourescent oranges here), which err on the warm/muted side, and all shades are imbued with an extremely fine, pearly sheen.Texture-wise, they are so finely milled so as to feel like creams (and are some of the few powder blushes that are tolerable on my dry skin in winter) but my oily-skinned friends also report that these wear on them without fading or oxidising. Basically, they're bigger, better versions of Shu Uemura Glow Ons.

Not all shades are available in all markets. (If you ask me, not enough shades are available, full stop. I NEED MORE.) HK retail is $260 each.
Here are the shades at my counter, two swipes each.
BE206 Soft Beam Gold
GD809 Shell
OR308 Starfish
RS302 Tea Rose
RD401 Orchid
RD103 Petal
PK304 Carnation
PK107 Medusa

natural light
swatch Shiseido Luminizing Satin Face Color BE206 Soft Beam Gold GD809 Shell OR308 Starfish RS302 Tea Rose RD401 Orchid RD103 Petal PK304 Carnation PK107 Medusa

artificial light+flash (this is as shimmery as they can possibly look)
swatch Shiseido Luminizing Satin Face Color BE206 Soft Beam Gold GD809 Shell OR308 Starfish RS302 Tea Rose RD401 Orchid RD103 Petal PK304 Carnation PK107 Medusa

I'm sorry the Medusa swatch is barely visible on me -- I like to use it layered over other blushes to add an oysterish pink sheen. For a glimpse of its true beauty on someone darker, please check out temptalia's glowing (harhar) review.
Shiseido's WT905 High Beam White (swatched/blogged here) makes a better highlighter for me.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Addiction by Ayako Aurora Reflection Eyeshadows

Belated swatches of all the shadows released in the Autumn 2011 collection, none of which I could resist after seeing them in real life. Hopefully you'll be able to see why...

Some product shots as an experiment; I'm not experienced in or skilled at taking photographs but as these are just that pretty in the pan.

052P Horizon -- dusty mauve with pale blue, gold and silver glitter

053P Poetic -- mint green with white and blue iridescence

054P Deep Forest -- forest green/teal duochrome with emerald green shimmer

055P Blue Moon -- bright cornflower blue with lighter blue and white sparkle

056P Pink Python -- blackened green with lime, pink and blue sparkle

057P Ice Storm -- icy blue with iridescent white and blue glitter

058P Silent Scream -- vivid grass green metallic with intense yellow-gold and pink shimmer

Each eyeshadow retails for ¥2100, all of these shades will join the core collection.
natural light
swatch Addiction eyeshadow 052P Horizon, 053P Poetic, 055P Blue Moon, 054P Deep Forest, 055P Blue Moon, 058P Silent Scream Aurora Reflection

natural light, sunny
swatch Addiction eyeshadow 052P Horizon, 053P Poetic, 055P Blue Moon, 054P Deep Forest, 055P Blue Moon, 058P Silent Scream Aurora Reflection

And some notes, because what are pictures without ALL TEH THOUSANDS OF WORDS? Poetic and Ice Storm are much sheerer than the others, and make pretty transparent veils alone or to add complexity patted over a more pigmented shadow (or cream base, or pencil).
Horizon and Ice Storm feature the largest shimmer particles, but they don't feel gritty or look unrefined at all. Ice Storm in particular, applies like a 'flakie' nail polish. I experience fallout with Horizon, but with none of the others in this collection.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Sunday Scary to Simple

Not much gets me out of bed and into makeup during daylight hours on a Sunday, but dimsum happens to be top of that list. And as I helpfully woke up with a lunch date, a week's worth of sleep-deprivation showing around my eyes AND a derptastic O_o expression, I thought I'd traumatise you all with some before and afters featuring my new Lunasol concealers.

Product pics with some other base makeup

Swatches in natural light
(The Lunasol undereye concealer is layered heavily here -- it's not so dark once blended out.)

Kevyn Aucoin's Sensual Skin Enhancer is my holy grail face/blemish concealer. Full-coverage, creamy enough to blend but dry and long-lasting once set and an excellent match for my skintone in depth terms, while being slightly yellower (a cool yellow) to help cut redness. Only a miniscule amount is needed, which is why I packed a tiny decant instead of the full pot.

Because of the very dry skin under my eyes, and my dark circles and redness (partly genetic but also aggravated by insomnia and allergies), I need a separate concealer for that area. Chantecaille Total Concealer kind of fit the bill -- it's blendable, offers good (but not opaque) coverage, is yellow-based with some peachy warmth and a shade darker than my skintone -- I find going darker offers better coverage, mimics the natural shadow under the eyes and avoids both the reverse-panda look of too-pale concealer, and the unnaturally flat look of an exact match. Unfortunately as Hong Kong gets cooler, it's starting to look cakey and emphasise my fine dehydration lines throughout the day.

Lunasol is famous for their base makeup, and as they recently expanded the shade range of their concealers in my direction, I thought those'd be worth a shot.

Scary naked face

Scary close-up of eyes

With Lunasol Eyelid Base N 02 over upper lid

Lunasol Eyelid Base N (¥2940 for 2.5g) ROCKS. It's sheer and so creamy so that it blends out to invisibility using a fingertip and you think it can't possibly be doing anything until you step back and realise you look human all of a sudden. Unlike most eyelid primers/bases, it doesn't promise to control oil or mattify but emphasises hydration, correcting dark pigmentation, and helping eyeshadows to blend and last on ALL lids, not just oily ones. Shade 01 (the original) is better for shades NC20 and above.

With Lunasol Underyes Concealer 00 below eyes and on outer corner
Lunasol Undereyes Concealer (¥3150 for 6.5g, doefoot applicator) is... also very good. The best thing about it is the texture -- if you've ever tried Lunasol's cult classic Water Cream foundation, this shares its incredible spreadability, natural finish, and ability to keep skin looking plump and hydrated throughout the day. This shade (00) is a good, yellow-peachy colour that minimises the worst of my redness and bruisey-ness. It doesn't provide enough coverage for 'flawless' looks, but for simple day-to-day ones, I'm satisfied. There are two darker shades (01 and 02) and two colour-correctors too (yellow and orange).

You can purchase both Lunasol concealers from adambeauty.

To complete the look: curled lashes, a coat of good old Majolica Majorca Lash Expander Frame Plus mascara and a slick of Addiction Cheek Stick in Revenge onto cheeks and lips.

Blended out, Kevyn Aucoin SSE on areas that needed it (the concealer-after-blush tip is from Lisa Eldrige) and brow powder added.

Probably not to everyone's taste, but I can only go so minimalist on the eyes without wanting to smear red blush all over mah face. Only tools used: Chanel curler, Shu 4R sable (to blend concealer), Illamasqua Highlighter brush (to blend cream blush). 

Lips were blended out with a pinkie finger because that's how glorious these Addiction cheeksticks are. As lipsticks, they are not at all drying while being matte and opaque in one coat -- the downside is that you will need to touch up after a meal, but they are normal-lipstick-sized so easy to bring along. Addiction officially kicks Lipstick Queen, Becca and Illamasqua's arses in the multi-purpose lip-and-cheek product contest. If you know of any other contenders though, please do share in the comments :)

Friday, 11 November 2011

FOTD and reviews -- Addiction Dewy Glow foundation, KATE Art Dial mascara

Prepare for another bloated lets-see-how-many-pictures-I-can-fit-into-one-post exercise. To anyone reading this on your phone, I'm so sorry.

Addiction Dewy Glow Foundation (5 shades, ¥4725 for 30ml)
This was released in September 2011 and is Addiction's version of the moisturising, radiant foundations prevalent in Japanese autumn/winter collections. It provides SPF20 PA++ (bah) and contains rose centifolia extract and rosehip oil to boost moisture. Fragrance-free.
Nice hefty frosted glass jar, with a black screw-top lid. Very NARS, right down to the no-frills gaping-hole dispenser.

Addiction Dewy Glow Foundation 01 Wafers

It's an excellent paler-than-MAC, neutral shade. I've swatched it between Nars Sheer Glow Siberia and Addiction Tinted Moisturiser No. 1 (which a friend very kindly allowed me to try).
(As you can see, Ayako parted ways with François over the rubberised plastic filth-magnet material. Good call.)

Foundation ingredients
Translation is still a work in progress but it does contain mineral oil, silicones and alcohol (as the 7th ingredient down).

TM ingredients (English translation over at ratzillacosme)

Okay, no putting it off further. Here's my bare face with just eyeshadow done and curled lashes.
Note uneven pigmentation, red marks from eczema patches (forehead, nose) and cystic pimples (cheek, chin) past. Also I scalded my lip a few days ago.

With one layer of Dewy Glow foundation (applied with fingers).
It takes care of my blotchiness and minor imperfections (forehead marks) with concealer still needed under eyes and over the worst of the redness around nose, lips and cheeks if we're shooting for flawless; I would call this good, medium coverage.
The most impressive aspect of this foundation is the genuinely weightless feel and perfectly-balanced texture. My dry skin means that most foundations (e.g. Nars Sheer Glow, MUFE Face and Body, Chantecaille Future Skin) set almost immediately and start dragging and refusing to blend smoothly. The rich cream formulas I find most comfortable (Suqqu Frame Fix Cream, RMS Beauty 'Un' Cover-Up, Laura Mercier Silk Creme) are too emollient and full-coverage to be slapped on quickly; while I personally find it quite soothing to 'feel' them on my face throughout the day in London winters, they are a no-go in summer and tropical/humid/hot climates like Hong Kong. Addiction hits the sweet spot -- it has enough slip to be extremely blendable but once set, it feels like bare skin both to wear and to touch.
On my dry skin, it doesn't offer much dew or glow but gives a balanced satiny, skin-like finish which does not change or budge through a fourteen-hour day, without powder.

With concealer (Lunasol Undereyes Base 00), KATE brow powder BK-5, Addiction Revenge powder blush and Boots 17 Mirror Shine lipstick in Belle:

KATE Art Dial Mascara (¥1680) More details on their site.
You may know that I'm a big fan of both KATE eye products (liners, shadows, brow stuff) and weirdness so when I spotted this new mascara on sale in a Tokyo drugstore, I pounced.
Consists of a dainty, flexible rubbery comb applicator atop a sleek plastic click-tube full of glossy black lash-juice.

The click-mechanism works very well (and sounds satisfyingly clicky. I hate it when clicks are all miserly and muted) -- no extra product continues to ooze out after you stop turning the dial.
4 clicks pretty much loads up the comb

size/shape comparison with my beloved Majolica Majorca Lash Expander Frame Plus (R)

My eye with Addiction Horizon on lid, Concrete Jungle in outer v/crease, Deep Forest smudged over KATE gel liner BK-1 to line the upper lashline and Silent Scream on its own to line the lower. Lashes curled with Chanel curler.

With one coat of KATE Art Dial mascara (and flash)
Lashes are thickened, a glossy black, and more defined. Look not for curl, the curl is gone. Yeah. Dealbreaker for me. If you have naturally curly lashes or ones which don't wilt from 95% of mascaras, this is worth a try. The applicator is very well designed and user-friendly and it really does allow you to coat on as much mascara as you want without layering or clumping. No fibres as far as I could tell. I experienced no smudging, fading or irritation, but a little flaking -- and that could purely be because I committed the cardinal sin of re-curling AFTER mascara.
With mascara, recurled

Shouldn't have bothered. By lunchtime they were poker-straight again, and by the end of the day:
artificial light+flash
(but hey, look how vibrant and in-place those Addiction eyeshadows still are!)

And here's the full-face at the end of the day. I look Dewier-Glowier (and sallowier) not because the foundation changed, but because the lighting did.
(artificial light+flash)

Review written on day 3 in-a-row of wearing this foundation. I'm normally sensitive to alcohol in any quantity, so we'll see. Cross some appendages for me, because it looks beautiful on.