Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Spring Collections Swatches -- Givenchy and Armani

Unless otherwise specified, all pictures were taken in natural light. 

Givenchy Instant Bucolique was one of my most anticipated releases this season. Unfortunately the textures proved to be disappointing, so I will stick to riffing/ripping off the ad image from other products in my stash. As always, tastes differ (mine often differ from themselves within the space of an hour); you can see several of the products looking absolutely beautiful on Musing on Beauty.

The blushes (£31) were both on the sheer and shimmery side (too shimmery for me -- as you can see, they emphasise textural issues). These swatches are each five layers of the shades swirled together, applied with a goat-hair brush.
No. 1 Bubolic Rose // No. 2 Bubolic Poppy

The eyeshadow quad, Le Prisme Yeux Quatuor No. 79 Bucolic Blossoms (£35) consists of four satins, again rather sheer. While applying smoothly, I found them to look quite dry on my skin (drier than some mattes) and despite making my swatches on the second day of release, I noticed that the tester was already crumbling in places, again a sign of drier texture. These swatches are three swipes with a sponge applicator.

Lip products consisted of a sheerish orange-red jelly lipstick, Rouge Interdit No. 54 Bucolic Poppy (£21) and a pigmented bright red cream gloss, Gloss Interdit No. 32 Bucolic Poppy (£19). At my counter there was also a very sheer pink gloss-balm Gelee Interdit (£19) in the display, so I swatched that too. All of these share a candied fruit scent.
Rouge (3 swipes) // Gloss (1 swipe) // Gelee (1 swipe)

Quad and Lip shades again, taken with flash:
Also part of the collection were a red nail polish (Vernis Please! Bucolic Poppy No.177) and face powder (Le Prisme Visage Bucolique in Bucolic Blossoms, £36.50), which blended completely into my skin leaving a very subtle hint of shimmer, much like other perfecting powders (Guerlain Meteorites for example). All items in the collection are limited edition.

Now for Armani Luce D'Oro, which was a Reader Request (you can always send these by comment-form or email). Again, all shades are limited edition.

Hotly anticipated, the cult creamy-gel-like Waterproof Eyeliner Pencils (£18) from previous collections are released in two new shades, 4 Antique Gold and 5 Copper, both smooth metallics. According to the Armani Sales Associate, brown and black shades of these are due to join the permanent line-up later this year. Swatches are one smooth sweep :)

The blush (Tourmaline Pink) is an extremely sheer light peachy pink with quite a hefty dose of silver shimmer. It took three heavy swipes with a sponge applicator for this to show up on my very pale wrist.

with flash (sorry for terrible quality, but it shows the shimmer)

Both eyeshadow quads consist of four frosts. Medium pigmentation, but the colour-combinations and lack of textural variation made these another easy pass for me. Two swipes each with a sponge applicator.
Luce D'Oro #1

with flash

Luce D'Oro #2

with flash

Finally, four shades of Gloss D'Armani (£21). These were all creams (no shimmer) and seemed to be on the sheer side (sheerer than Chanel Extrait de Gloss or Ellis Faas Glazed, anyway... I don't have too many gloss reference points).
Pink 508 Blush // Beige 105 Greige D'Armani // Brown 201 Caffeine // Rouge 405 Wild Rose

Monday, 23 January 2012

This Is What A Phase Looks Like: Orange

Okay, I lied. It's been a whole week, but I'm still loving this shade. If catwalk trends could blog, they'd snark that influencing me is like shooting fish in a barrel.

Being on the pale, neutral side, the shades I've found most flattering for lips are bright, clear juicy oranges; I still avoid pastel orangina or toasted brownish/terracotta shades. For eyes, my usual rule of Complexity Trumps All applies -- throw in some interesting light-refracting-as-well-as-reflecting glitter and even rusty shades become somewhat wearable. Although my personal preferences tend to the coral and clear again.  Blush, I admit, still defeats me. Any suggestions of shades to try, and subsequent shades to pair it with, would be much appreciated, o wise and beautiful commentsphere!

Currently in rotation:
(All pictures taken with natural light, no flash. Click to enlarge.)

Visee x Smacky Glam BR-7 Bitter Brown quad (top left)
Suqqu 06 Komorebi quad (top left)
Suqqu EX-04 Toukaede (top right)
Sleek Pan Tao blush
Sugarpill Burning Heart palette (top left, Flamepoint)
Fyrinnae Electro-Koi, swatched on bare skin and then over Pixie Epoxy primer

Etude House VIP Girl OR 204
Hourglass Femme Rouge Muse
Illamasqua Intense Lipgloss Temper and Mistress
Ellis Faas Glazed Lips L307 and L306

And another look mixing a few of these elements. More for spring-time compared with the last summery look.
Face: Paul&Joe Light Cream Foundation S 00, RBR Sea of Clouds highlighter, Ellis Faas concealer S201
Eyes: Suqqu EX04 Toukaede quad with an ancient Shu Uemura blue P 610 (first generation) single, Helena Rubinstein Lash Queen Feline Blacks waterproof mascara, KATE brow gel BR-3.
Cheeks: Sleek Pan Tao (which applies as a soft peach, not that my camera can tell...)
Lips: Ellis Faas Glazed Lips L306
eye close-up

then the sun came out!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

And now for something completely tasteless

I've been keeping it pretty classy lately with mostly Suqqu, and there's more yet to come as I work through all my quads for reviews/swatches. This has been seeping into all other aspects of my frivolous life, leading to an impulsive final-cut-absolutely-no-returns sale purchase of a dress which is far too ladylike for me to feel comfortable in. I wore it last night anyway, and tried to undercut it with The Power of Makeup. (With a Little Help from Clompy Shoes.)

Dries Van Noten, S/S...ages ago. Nod to the geta to play off the dress' play on origami and qipao? Uh, it was, like, a cultural-appropriation-themed party?

Apologies in advance for quality of all pictures, hastily snapped in the bathroom.

Fyrinnae Pixie Epoxy
Fyrinnae Wake Not the Dead on the lid in a fairly rounded shape and under the eye, orchid-pink base with holographic glitter -- blue, green and gold. At least. :D
RBR Grey Go-Away Lourie in the socket for a cut crease...until I changed my mind and blended it out a bit with Papyrus Canary. Unforgettble Oriole in inner corner.
Shu Uemura Eyelight white pencil on lower waterline
B&C Makemania super fine eyeliner (it sets GREY! do.not.want.)
Eyelure Girls Aloud Cheryl falsies (the old style, not the new -- see here)
KATE eyebrow gel BR-3

more evenly lit angle, but even more derp.
 Other Products
Suqqu Makeup Base Creamy
Graftobian HD Glamour Creme Lady Fair -- bit pale for me at the moment but not too obvious at night-time. No need for concealing, I even look less freckly!
Chanel Rouge Allure Laque Dragon

 Overall effect, or as much as I could capture in the bathroom mirror. It would've been nice if I'd left time to do my nails... neon orange perhaps. ;)
Things wot I learned 
1. Falsies + uneven eyes = eyes that look even more uneven. Even. After spending last year mastering application... sigh. Also, heavy. Also, needs balancing on the lower lashline.
2. Strong eyes and strong lips = needs more contouring.
3. Clothes shopping when on a makeup diet = bad plan.
More lessons / constructive criticism would be very welcome! Save me from myself etc.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Suqqu Creamy Glow Lipstick stash swatch

As I may have mentioned once or twice, this is my (a profligate fly-by-night lipstick-ho's) favourite lipstick formula ever. Because:
  1. Intense pigment. I tried and failed to make sheer swatches for reference; the lightest swipe deposits pure, full-coverage colour.
  2. The most moisturising formula I have ever tried (i.e. they actively boots moisture in my very dry lips, rather than just not drying them out further) -- I can skip balm under these on all but the coldest of winter days, and wear them even on chapped, cracked skin.
  3. But not too much slip. For me, the ultra-creamy YSL Rouge Volupté formula just results in mess and migration. It would feel faintly blasphemous (okay, not really. I'm just lazy.) to use a dry lipliner base under these luscious Suqqus so I'm glad they have enough traction? heft? to stay neatly on the lips without it. (Seriously, I've found Rouge Volupté smears on my earlobe. Possibly because the scent makes me flail wildly in 'get it off me!' frenzy...)
  4. Scent- and taste-free. Not unscented because that usually means crayony and vaguely bitter-oily and gross, these really don't taste/smell of anything.
  5. Flattering finish. Just because something is emollient doesn't mean that it will necessarily look good on dry lips. Even the paler/milkier and darker/brighter shades in this line do a great job of smoothing out my vertical lip lines. (Pretty Jess' too.) The fact that all eighteen shades are creams, with no hint of any microshimmer anywhere, also helps.
  6. All this talk about moisture and creaminess might lead you to think they are heavy balms like Chantecaille Lip Chics or buttery creams like Rouge Bunny Rouge Colourbursts, but once applied, the Suqqus feel weightless. This alchemy starts as soon as you pick up some colour from the bullet, when the creamy solid changes into the consistency of very thin single cream; once 'set' on the lips, they are like water.
  7. Good wear. Vanishingly few long-wearing formulas work for my picky lips; I'd rather have lips that look nice and plump even if the colour has gone after a few hours than lips that stay coloured all day and look dry and cracked (which is what Rouge D'Armanis, MAC mattes and Illamasqua lipsticks do). The Suqqu lipsticks apply as very slightly glossy creams. After two hours the glossiness fades to a soft sheen but the colour stays true, and after five hours the colour will usually fade leaving moisturised, evenly-stained lips -- no outer ring of death or leprous mottling. They won't stand up to a meal, but I always reapply my lipcolour afterwards anyway.
Now the negatives. Niggles really:
  1. I need a lipbrush to apply the bolder shades. Not a big deal as I always prefer a lipbrush anyway, but it's not optional with the brighter shades in this extremely silky formula.
  2. The severe shortage of bolder shades. I know, I know, it's not really Suqqu's métier but really, I wouldn't complain about six browny roses if there was just one measly fuchsia or eye-searingly bright coral-pink... how am I to build an entirely Suqqu lip wardrobe, PTB?
Everyone who read this far gets a cookie. And pictures.

My stash
Suqqu creamy glow lipstick 1 saebana 2 kyoganoko 6 umegasumi 12 hiwada 18 karakurenai
Suqqu creamy glow lipstick 1 saebana 2 kyoganoko 6 umegasumi 12 hiwada 18 karakurenai
1 Saebana // 2 Kyoganoko // 6 Umegasumi //12 Hiwada //18 Karakurenai

Arm swatches, natural light
swatch Suqqu creamy glow lipstick 1 saebana 2 kyoganoko 6 umegasumi 12 hiwada 18 karakurenai

1 Saebana
swatch Suqqu creamy glow lipstick lip lipswatch 1 saebana

2 Kyoganoko
swatch Suqqu creamy glow lipstick lip lipswatch 2 kyoganoko

6 Umegasumi
swatch Suqqu creamy glow lipstick lip lipswatch 6 umegasumi

12 Hiwada
swatch Suqqu creamy glow lipstick lip lipswatch 12 hiwada

18 Karakurenai
swatch Suqqu creamy glow lipstick lip lipswatch 18 karakurenai

Over the next few weeks (sun allowing) I'll be comparing these to older shades from Suqqu and to the lipsticks I own from other brands, to give a better idea of where they lie on the shade-map.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Guest Post: Shu Uemura 10 Natural and Kolinsky 11 Comparison by toto850

Another great head-to-head comparison between one of my favourite brushes (#10 natural) and one I've long been curious about (#11). Thanks again, toto!

Shu Uemura #10 Natural vs #11 Kolinsky comparison by toto850
Let us start with the difference between the type of hairs. Shu Uemura always put sthe name of the hairs on their brush handles, so everyone would know the difference between each brush.
The #10N is a mixture between Kolinsky and Sable hairs, which makes the brush very firm and a bit stiff. The #11 is made from pure Kolinksy (hence the hefty price point) and it's more flexible (and less stiff) but still firm like the #10N.

Also the shape of these 2 brushes are different. The #10N is more rounded and tapered, while the #11 is more square like with rounded edges (if that makes any sense). As you can see on the pics the #11 is also bigger than the #10N
I find the #11 a little bit denser than the #10N, b/c it's longer and contains more bristles. The biggest advantage from Kolinsky brushes is that the bristles won't splay as much like other natural hair brushes tend to do.
I tried to push both brushes down to see if there is a differene in resistance between these brushes. 
Because the #10N is shorter, a bit stiffer and has less bristles, so it gives more resistance than the #11 brush. The longer and softer hairs makes the #11 more bendable, so it's better for blending than the #10N.
The #10N pushed down:

The #11 pushed down:

I will be brief about the application of e/s colour. Both are firm enough to pack on a good amount of colour with great pigmentation.
Here is swatch comparison of the purple colour in the Suqqu #06 Ginbudou quad. On the left I swatched the colour with the #10N brush and on the right I swatched the same colour with the #11 brush. Not really much of a difference.

And last but not least: here is comparison with the MAC 252 and MAC 242 brushes as a reference for the differences in sizes.
The MAC 242 is definitely shorter than the #10N and the MAC 252 is a little shorter than the #11 in length (but wider sidewise).

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Suqqu Creamy Glow Lipstick paper swatches

Due to the popularity of the YSL Glossy Stain paper swatches, I now offer up the Suqqu Creamy Glow lipsticks. (BTW, thanks so much to everyone who reads, links, comments, or emails me about the blog -- I'm a little frazzled/fragile at the moment and honestly they cheer me up like nothing else.)

These come in 18 shades, released in Autumn 2010 in Japan and March 2011 in the UK. They replace the previous Blend Lipsticks and Creamy Lipsticks, and combine the strengths of both those formulas.

Unlike the YSL stains, these do look very different on paper than on lips -- in a separate post I'll be swatching the shades I own on arm and lips and writing more about the formula. In brief: these are my favourite lipstick formula ever, and one of the few I can wear on my very dry, picky lips without lipbalm even in winter.

natural light
Suqqu Creamy Glow Lipstick complete swatch 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Pink: 1-3 are all clear pinks: 1 Saebana is a neutral/cool cherry-blossom shade, 2 Kyoganoko is a brighter, deeper candy pink, 3 Tsuyazakura adds some peachy warmth.
4 and 5 are more muted pinks: 4 Yamamomo softened by beige and mauve, 5 Suzumecha warmed and rounded by peach and rose tones.
7 and 8 are both lightly browned (toasted?) roses: 7 Asasuou is warmer, more muted and has more red, 8 Keshiaka is brighter and heavier on the pink.

Peach/Coral: 6 Umegasumi is a soft, neutral coral, 9 Hanarenga is a brighter and warmer peach. 10 Urumishu is a warm, bright "persimmon coral" (as FrontRowBeauty excellently put it) and 11 Sharegaki is its more muted sister with additional brown warmth.

Brown/Nude: 12 Hiwada is a neutral beige with balanced peach and rose tones.
13 Tsukushiiro is a warm yellow-peach beige and 14 Amairo an even warmer orange-peach beige -- both have strong brown undertones.
As do 15 Kogarecha, a cool browned rose, and 16 Akanecha, a richer, deeper browned rose with more red in its base.

Red: 17 Ichijiku is a vampy warm brick red. 18 Karakurenai is an uncompromisingly loud'n'clear neutral red.

You can see all eighteen shades on the beautiful cinnamongal here, though as with all lipsticks, they will look different depending on the skintone and the shade of your bare lips.

Suqqu is currently only available in Japan, the UK and Bangkok, Thailand. In the UK the Creamy Glow Lipsticks retail for £27 each. International readers can order from Selfridges (by phoning the counter on +44 207 318 3809) or from Dollyleo online.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Halcyon Fakes

As fellow UK'ers will know, it's just gone all wintry over here, so naturally I'm, like, so over those vampy plums and reds and all about bright oranges and beachy corals! Well, until next week...

Becca is my go-to brand for that effortless beach girl/angel thang, and I've been resisting their Halcyon Days palette since its release last summer. Their palettes usually manage to be both pitch-perfect combinations of flattering shades and textures and to dexterously conjure up mood, scene and story through those combinations. And while they don't offer the innovative and inspiring juxtapositions of brands like Suqqu, Shiseido or Addiction, sometimes an old tale told simply and well is just what's needed.

Shu Stage Performer mixed with RBR liquid bronzer as foundation
RBR liquid bronzer mixed with Sea of Tranquility highlighter as blush
Visee x Smacky Glam Glam Glow Eyes BR-7 Bitter Brown* (peach/coral on the lid, dark brown to line, bronze-taupe on lower lashline)
Ellis Faas Glazed Lips L307
Helena Rubinstein Lash Queen Fatal Blacks waterproof mascara
(not pictured: Ellis Faas concealer S201, KATE brow gel BR-3)

natural light

after about six hours of wear, artificial light with flash (becuase that's all the sun ration we're allowed)

I apologise for the excessive amounts of posiness / derp in these. My hair was even more wayward than usual and kept flopping into my face and hiding the bronzer/highlight which I especially wanted to show.

*Which swatches like this:

Saturday, 14 January 2012

YSL Rouge Pur Couture Glossy Stain paper swatches

Remember how I love these? (Still do, and I can now report that a few day's wear doesn't worsen the condition of my picky lips.) They are now available to buy from for those in the US, and have also been released in several European countries (Ireland, Germany and Denmark for sure). In the UK they will remain exclusive to Selfridges until Feburary.

To help you early adopters and online shoppers (my brethren and sistren!), here are the paper swatches I was kindly allowed to make at my counter... which didn't receive a tester of #19. But huzzah the blogosphere, you can see that one on beautIE, which also reports that shades #2 and #20 are limited edition.

paper swatches, natural light

Purple: #1 Violet Edition is a cool, vampy plum. #4 Mauve Pigmente is a wamer, more muted berry. #16 Poupre Preview a bright, cool pinky orchid-purple.

Brown: #2 Brun Glace is a dark warm brick red, #3 Brun Cachemire a cooler browned rose.

Pink/Rose: #5 Rouge Vintage is a deep romantic rose, #17 Encre Rose a blue-based bubblegum rose and #18 Rose Pastelle a soft rosy nude.
#11 Rouge Philtre is a bright reddish fuchsia and #14 Fuchsia Dore is cooler, more muted and more purple.
#12 Corail Fauve is an fluoro-bright coral pink, #13 Rose Tempera a bright coolish rosy pink, #15 Rose Vinyl a warmer and clearer watermelon pink.

Orange/Coral: #6 Camel Croisiere is the warmest, a brownish rust. #7 Corail Aquatique a muted, slightly dusty orange. #8 Orange de Chine is a no-holds-barred, juicy clear orange.

Red: #9 Rouge Lacque is bright, clear, and warm. #10 Rouge Philtre is bright, clear and cool. #20 Rouge Enamel is neutral and more muted than the other two.

A closer look at the reds (what? you all know my ways by now...)
natural light with flash -- a much better representation of the texture. They're all this lacquered.

For my Violet Edition lipswatch and FOTD, click here.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Highlighters -- rambles and swatches

To bring a little light into your Friday the thirteenths, highlighters to complete this series of RBR swatches and to supplement my earlier post about base makeup.

I was born with very dry skin with absolutely no natural glow, and a perverse and stubborn nature. This means that I've been trying to fake a glow for over a decade -- coupled with my extreme pickiness and absolute intolerance of any visible shimmer on my face (in direct sunlight, viewed in a magnifying mirror), this means in fact that I've also been failing to fake a glow for over a decade.

You name the illuminating product, and I'll bet you a lipstick I've tried it and found fault with it.

Then, with a suitably fairytale twist, came Rouge Bunny Rouge Seas of Illumination highlighters. And they are simply perfect. Extremely blendable cucumbers-and-roses-scented light liquids, they offer a wide range of finishes and effects used alone and mix very well with foundations/primers or with eyeshadows. Fellow tinkerers and makeup 'rules' breakers may like to know that they layer excellently OVER as well as under powders.
I own Sea of Clouds and Sea of Tranquility (two on the left), and the liquid bronzer As If It Were Summer Still (on the right). The two pots in the middle are Sea of Showers and Sea of Nectar, free samples (!) ordered from zuneta.

Paper swatches, natural light with flash

I found these beauties impossible to swatch realistically without becoming totally invisible to my camera, so first up we have some moderately heavy swatches:
natural light with flash

dark with flash

And then, some extremely heavy swatches, using about ten times my usual amount. Seriously, a faint breeze would leave ripples in these stripes.
natural light with flash

dark with flash
Notice how the bronzer texture is even more refined than that of the highlighters? And its total lack of orange/ruddy tones even in the stupidly heavy swatch? Even at my wintry palest, I can use this ALL OVER MY FACE, yo. I know people from NW5 to NC40 who love it equally. Magic.

It's taken me over a year of using these highlighters almost daily to decide, but I now think the RBR Seas are uniquely effective because of the refinement, variety and complexity of the shimmer particles within, and the way they're integrated into the opalescent bases. Most highlighters rely on:
  1. all-out bling through glitter (Nars multiples, Lunasol illuminating powders and most of the MUFE uplights and Armani fluid sheers)
  2. densely-packed, finely-milled metallic frost (Laura Mercier Rose Rendezvous, Dior Amber/Rose Diamond, Bobbi Brown Shimmerbricks)
  3. a shimmer-free glossy 'wet' look or sheen (MAC cream colour bases or strobe, Benefit Moon Beam, other Armani fluid sheers, Illamasqua Lies).
The first two finishes don't work for me because I'm a shimmerphobe (except for eyes) and my skin texture is not up to having every bump, flake, pore and hair magnified. The third, while superficially the most attractive option, doesn't work either, because:
  1. I'm not vapid/fabulous enough to walk around with my face angled precisely just so that they catch the light (I save that for FOTDs, ahem)
  2. highlighting down the centre of my face is more flattering than tops-of-cheekbones-and-browbones. A 'sexy' glossy effect usually just translates as 'greasy' when it's manifesting down someone's nose, forehead and inner cheeks.
  3. this one also took ages to work out, but for a highlighter to actually highlight (add dimension as well as glow), it needs to be noticeably paler than my skin. Most sheeny products blend out to a clear glossiness -- great for photography, when that contrast will translate as dimension, but not enough for real life (especially subject to the vagaries of London sun, flourescent supermarket/office lighting etc.)
My collection is subsequently very highly edited. Firstly, whites.
Rouge Bunny Rouge Sea of Clouds (refined shimmer)
MAC Cream Colour Base Luna (sheen)*
Illamasqua powder blush Intrigue (matte)
Shiseido Luminizing Satin Face Colour WT905 High Beam White (satin)

natural light

dark with flash

You may have to do some monitor angling to see these -- sorry! MAC Luna is starred because it didn't make the final cut -- too similar to Shiseido HB White which I prefer. It is however hopefully useful to see how the sheen of Luna throws back light in a more solid way than the delicate shimmer of RBR, which is much more flattering on imperfections (like the complex light-reflecting particles in such cult undereye illuminators like Touche Eclat). Illamasqua Intrigue looks a little chalky here, and honestly it kind of is, but you need so little of this pigmented stark white that the chalkiness doesn't really translate on to the face.

Next, pinks:
RBR Sea of Tranquility (refined shimmer)
Guerlain Parure de Nuit LE holiday 2011 (satin)
Shiseido Luminzing Satin Face Colour PK107 Medusa (satin)*

natural light

dark with flash
Guerlain is the palest and subtlest once the overspray has been thoroughly swept off (it looks just off-white here, but is a very pale pink in reality), and the only one I use as a highlighter. As I've said before, Shiseido Medusa functions more like a blush topcoat/mixer for me, while RBR Tranquility is mainly a foundation-mixer/colour-correcting primer, enabling me to wear more pink- and red-based shades.

Long post is long. But hopefully somewhat helpful.

Post script down under:
My favourite highlighters before discovering RBR were by Becca. I completely agree with this excellent review on visionarybeauty -- the finer microglitter particles in Becca Shimmering Skin Perfectors are more densely packed and uniform, so while they swatch 'better', they look less refined and flattering than RBR in practice.