Sunday, 18 March 2012

Sensai The Lipstick 21 Shirafuji review and swatches

Ever since I posted paper swatches of the Kanebo The Lipstick range, an internal clock has been counting down to my inevitable purchase. With the help of a £20 voucher from Harrods to halve the £40 price, I chose 21 Shirafuji, a versatile neutral bright rosy pink -- which will count as three of twelve.
To thoroughly test out its anti-ageing skincare claims, I wore this lipstick continuously over two sets of five days in a row (in very cold early February and once again in warm mid-March)... and saw absoutely no improvement in the condition of my lips after either period. Honestly not a shocker given the fairly standard ingredients list (note that the much touted koishimaru silk extract comes right at the end, just before the parabens, and that the gold is just an afterthought):
I'm sceptical of any makeup that claims to replace skincare anyway so the absence of any longer-term effects isn't a dealbreaker; though it's a nice bonus when they do improve the condition as well as look of my lips, e.g. Suqqu Creamy Glow, Fresh Sugar, Lanolips Tinted. More disappointngly, The Lipstick doesn't deliver any spectacular cosmetic benefits either. It doesn't emphasise my vertical lip lines (structural), but nor does it blur them. It doesn't make my lips look dessicated, but it doesn't make them look plumped and pillowy either. If my lips aren't in the best condition, it will highlight flakes and chapped areas, though less than some other formulas. And I absolutely need a layer of lipbalm underneath.

Shirafuji applied, emphasising the chapped area on my lower lip:
 (Suqqu EX-07 quad from the Lilac Allure set)

And on lips in dry but unbroken condition:
That said, it's a perfectly nice formula and the tone of this review would be pretty different if the retail price were around £25. Medium pigment, elegant satin cream finish, scentless, weightless feel, good lasting power fading to a light, even stain after a meal (although a darker shade may last/stain better). The packaging has a nice heft and looks sleekly, quietly luxurious, and it's not as GOLD! as I'd feared based on picture.
(Surely I'm not the only one who cares about this very important element. The YSL has been depotted, btw)
The shape of the bullet itself is also well thought-out; there isn't a 'front' and a 'back' but two gentle slopes tapering to a slim horizontal line, which makes for precise touch-ups. And you get a plush black velvet pouch which is -- oh Japanese attention to detail -- a perfect fit (I hate opening my bag to find that a heavy lipstick has abandoned its designated costume and wreaked havoc on my phone/camera/kindle/ipod).

Okay, you know it's desperate times when a serial depotter compliments packaging in an attempt to be fair. Here are some comparison swatches so you can see where this shade lies in relation to some other roses (next to red, my favourite shade):

From left to right and cool to warm:
Kanebo Lavshuca Dramatic Memory Rouge RS-1
Sonia Rykiel Sublime Lipstick 24
Kanebo Sensai The Lipstick 21 Shirafuji
Suqqu Creamy Glow 02 Kyoganoko
Guerlain Rouge Automatique Chamade
Hourglass Femme Rouge Fresco
Rouge Bunny Rouge Colourburst Whim of Mine

Obviously, I have no complaints about the shade, which changes a bit depending on lighting, but is equally flattering on lips and cheeks, and has enough slip to work beautifully as a dewy cream blush:
(Chanel Beiges on eyes)

In conclusion, Kanebo Sensai The Lipstick is, at £40,...

Not as good as: By Terry Rouge Terrybly (£31), Suqqu Creamy Glow (£27) or the best Guerlain Rouge G's (Gigolo, Girly and Garçonne, £29.50), Guerlain Rouge Automatique (£24.50)
On the other hand, better than: Serge Lutens (£53), Cle de Peau Lipstick ($55+) or Tom Ford (£35)
On par with: Hourglass Femme Rouge (£22), the best Chanel Rouge Allures (Genial, Super £24)

Thursday, 15 March 2012

New Lancome and Estee Lauder foundation swatches

To cut to the chase: Estee Lauder Invisible is an awesome formula that's impressed me more than any other in a long time -- a lightweight, applies-perfectly-with-fingers-and-without-a-mirror milk that seems to give a natural satin finish on almost all skintypes, and good medium+ coverage while hardly adding any texture to the skin. All this without any of the drying, irritating alcohol with which the likes of Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua and most popular Japanese milk sunscreens are filled.

Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra 24Hour...not so much. Full of alcohol yet dragging upon application and setting to an unflattering flat matte finish, while offering only marginally more coverage than Invisible, it actually seems to me to be a barely evolved version of Estee Lauder's most dated formula, DoubleWear. It does however beat Invisible in offering a much wider shade range -- I've swatched the palest shades from both formulas, with some other foundations for context.

foundation swatch Bobbi Brown Moisture Rich Foundation 00 Alabaster Make Up For Ever Mat Velvet+ 15 Lancôme Teint Miracle 005 Teint Idole Ultra 24 Hour 005 (007 is a little darker and quite a bit pinker) Estee Lauder Invisible 1N1 Estee Lauder Invisible 1CN1 Laura Mercier Silk Creme Soft Ivory Suqqu Frame Fix Cream 101
Bobbi Brown Moisture Rich Foundation 00 Alabaster
Make Up For Ever Mat Velvet+ 15
Lancôme Teint Miracle 005
Teint Idole Ultra 24 Hour 005 (007 is a little darker and quite a bit pinker)
Estee Lauder Invisible 1N1
Estee Lauder Invisible 1CN1
Laura Mercier Silk Creme Soft Ivory
Suqqu Frame Fix Cream 101

I wondered before sampling why Invisible didn't have a 1W(arm)1 shade as other Estee Lauder foundations do... and now I know it's because both the 1N(neutral)1 and 1C(ool)N(eutral)1 shades run warm yellow. If you wear another EL foundation, I'd recommend 'sizing cool' in this one -- if you wear W, try N. If you wear N, try CN. If you wear C... best of luck but don't get your hopes up.

For your amusement, here is me testing an extremely light layer of Invisible 1CN1, with further washing-out by my camera:
(I don't know why but I thought some other slap would mitigate the horror: Magie Deco Shadow Brilliance II DC030, Majolica Majorca Lash King mascara, Sensai The Lipstick 21 Shirafuji.)

Seriously, Lauder Corp, pale shades we can haz?

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Sleek Blush By 3 Comparison swatches

You know the drill by now -- context and comparisons and armfuls of stuff I thought would be similar but turned out to be barely related once swatched or even more embarrassingly, uncannily exact dupes.

See my original swatches of the complete set of Blush By 3 palettes here. I've since read that these will be made permanent and available to buy from the Sleek website later this year :)

All pictures taken in natural light with flash. Shades are all from Sleek unless otherwise specified.

363 Pumpkin 
Lantern is a brighter, more shimmery version of Furnace from the Flame trio. Becca Strawberry Beach Tint has more red and less orange/gold than these two.

Squash is a cool candy pink, slightly warmer than Addiction Amazing powder blush in its base, but cooled down by a silver sheen. They only look so warm set against extremely blue pinks like Nars Gaiety and Pink Ice from Pink Sprint....

The closest thing I own to violently orange P Pie is actually Sugarpill Flamepoint eyeshadow, which is darker and rustier and less 'o hai, I'm pumpkin!' Chantilly from the Lace trio looks like a wishy washy peach next to it. (According to Rouge Deluxe P Pie is a dupe for the limited edition Aruba single from last summer.)

 364 Sugar
Demerara is a slightly more saturated version of the permanent single, Flushed. Rouge Bunny Rouge Florita offers a cooler, pinker take on the dusty-berry-red theme.

Muscovado is the exact shade of the permanent single Sunrise, but in a smoother and more evenly pigmented formula.

Turbinado is deeper, more muted and browned than the true peach of Illamasqua Lover. It also lacks the bright coral lift of the limited edition single Pan Tao.

365 Flame
One armful as I found no real dupes except for the resemblance between Furnace and Lantern from Pumpkin trio (which you saw a few scrollings ago...) Becca Geranium Lip&Cheek Creme is the only muted warm red I own, but next to it Molten is so browned it looks almost orange. Becca Strawberry Beach Tint is a bright warm red to contrast with the more neutral Bon Fire -- a perfect replacement for the discontinued Scandalous single, btw.

366 Pink Sprint
Another not-quite-right armful. Becca Raspbery Beach Tint comes closest to Pink Parfait shade-wise but lacks the 'softness' it shades with shades like Florita or Rubens, both from Rouge Bunny Rouge. I adore Pinktini's rich rose-berry shade and own nothing similar -- it makes the jewelled Pomegranate (my favourite Sleek single blush, and one of my favourite blushes overall) look worn and dusty in comparison.

Pink Ice is a more saturated, matte and borderline-fuchsia version of my favourite kind of cool hot pink, of which Kevyn Aucoin Liquifuchsia and Addiction Amazing cheek stick are gel and cream examples. See, texture differences! Ahem, no dupes here. Move along now.

367 Lace
This palette was the hardest to track down for me and many makeupalleyers. Having finally acquired it through a lovely lady.... I realised I owned two very close dupes in Sleek single shades. GAH. Chantilly is a slightly more saturated, warmer version of Pan Tao (limited edition) while Guipure is an exact replica of Rose Gold, but swatched slightly smoother (maybe just because it's newer).

But! The palette is worth it for the awesome third shade, Crochet, a complex red-with-dangly-bits, more coral than Rouge Bunny Rouge Orpheline, less red than RMSBeauty Moment. Next to the true red Bon Fire from the Flame trio, you can see its coral and pink tones more clearly.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Sleek Blush By 3 Trio swatches and monochrome FOTD

Sleek make some of my favourite blushes at any price point. Texture-wise you won't be getting something creamily unctuous like RBR or impossibly silky like Suqqu or Shiseido. But they are excellent, pigmented, drier formulas which I find superior to the more comparable Nars, Illamasqua and MUFE -- the tightly packed powderiness of Sleek doesn't ever translate to chalkiness or free-floating glitter on my skin, perhaps because their intensity means I can get away with a few molecules per cheek... I'm a big fan of the almost texture-less vibrancy of pigment they give, and their unusual, ambitious shade range.

To which there are limits. There are quite a few dupes for permanent Sleek singles in these trios -- comparison swatches here.

Unlike the eyeshadow palettes (which I don't care for), and like Sleek's blush singles, these Blush By 3 Trios are made in Taiwan. Each palette contains an incredible 20g for £9.99 and are limited edition, exclusive to Superdrug.

363 Pumpkin
Sleek Blush by 3 trio pumpkin swatch lantern squash p pie
Lantern is a red-gold satin shimmer; Squash a cool bright pink with a sheen; P Pie an intense neon orange matte.

364 Sugar
swatch Sleek Blush by 3 trio sugar demerara muscovado turbinado
Demerara is a rich, warm red with a sheen; Muscovado a stunning duochrome shifting between ruby/plum and copper/gold; Turbinado a matte muted terracotta.

365 Flame
swatch Sleek Blush by 3 trio flame molten bon fire bonfire furnace
Molten is a soft brick red with a sheen; Bon Fire (sic. why.) an glow-in-the-dark bright true red matte; Furnace a warm orange-red satin.

366 Pink Sprint
swatch Sleek Blush by 3 trio pink sprint pinktini pink ice pink parfait
Pinktini is a saturated raspberry-rose with a sheen, Pink Ice a fun blue-fuchsia matte, Pink Parfait an elegant demi-matte warm plum.

367 Lace
swatch Sleek Blush by 3 trio lace chantilly guipure crochet
Chantilly is a soft clear apricot matte (sheered out it gives me that platonic peaches&cream complexion), Guipure is another rose-gold Orgasm-a-like shimmer, Crochet is a softly sheeny complex red-coral-pink in the RBR Orpheline/Illamasqua Hussy vein.

I made heavy swatches with sponge applicators to show the colours and undertones as clearly as possible -- in practice, they all apply smoothly enough to use as eyeshadows, and even the most shimmery shades translate as a soft even sheen e.g. in this quick monochrome look using the Sugar palette (all 3 shades on eyes, and Muscovado on cheeks):
nat light

with flash -- see, no glitter on cheeks!
Lips: Kanebo Sensai The Lipstick 21 Shirafuji
Face: Laura Mercier Silk Creme Soft Ivory mixed with RBR Sea of Tranquility, Ellis Faas concealer.
Eyes: Shu Uemura white pencil, Rose of Versailles liquid liner, Majolica Majorca LEFP mascara, Shu H9 Seal Brown brow pencil.

NB you eagle-eyed twelve-resolution-monitors: I received four of these as a personal gift, and bought Lace to replace a finished Becca Rosebud cream blush.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Suqqu Spring Blend Eyeshadow Palette comparisons

As promised, comparison/context swatches for the three spring eyeshadow quints (permanent, £45 each), after which I will shut up about Suqqu for a while, honest. There are belated Sleek Blush By 3 swatches on my conscience, and I also fell off the twelve-buy wagon at a Shu Uemura masterclass earlier today...

All pictures in natural light unless otherwise specified and clickable to enlarge as usual. Original swatches of all three palettes here. I skipped the bottom right base shade for these comparisons.

1. Suqqu 09 Usumoegi with:
  • Suqqu EX-05 Tandou (LE from Autumn 2009)
  • top left pale green from Suqqu 02 Kokedama (DC)
  • top left light taupe from Suqqu 03 Matsukasa (DC)
  • KATE Deep Trap Eyes GN-1 (DC)
  • bottom golden taupe from Guerlain 2 Place Vendôme
  • top right golden taupe from Sonia Rykiel Quatre Eyeshadow 10
  • deep green from Hourglass Visionaire Duo Dune
Being a bit of a green and yellow-taupe eyeshadow fiend, I expected this to be the easiest palette to 'dupe'. Actually, Suqqu played a typical trick by resting the three main shades on an unusual dusty sepia base, giving them that balanced cool-and-warm feel that this brand does so well.

with flash

Usumoegi with its closest shades swatched above it: the icy lime from Tandou is very similar to but sheerer; the taupe from Matsukasa is cooler and less golden-iridescent; the second-deepest KATE shade is sheerer and has more of a grey base, while the Hourglass green is more of a standard forest green and lacks Suqqu's refined texture (looks positively gritty here although it isn't in the grand scheme of things).

2. Suqqu 10 Kozuecha with:
  • Guerlain 407 Bal de Minuit (LE Holiday 2009)
  • bottom golden taupe from Guerlain 2 Place Vendôme
  • Visee x Smacky Glam Glam Glow BR-7 (LE Holiday 2011)
  • Rouge Bunny Rouge Angelic Cockatiels
  • top left light peach from Suqqu 01 Kakitsubata

Another study in balance: Kozuecha looks like cool minky taupes next to Visee's brighter peach-bronze and RBR Cockatiels' honeyed copper (neither of which are too warm for me to wear). Set against the greyer Guerlains, it looks distinctly yellowy-brown. I think this would make a flattering neutral palette for a wide variety of skintones, beautifully sunny.
with flash

Closest shades: the pale peach from Kakitsubata is more pigmented and a delicate shimmer rather than the sheer iridescent of Kozuecha. The Guerlain Place Vendôme taupe shares the cool yellow-that's-almost-olive base of Kozuecha's taupe, but takes it even further into khaki grey territory; when angled right, the two shades throw off almost identical reflects. The Visee brown sits somewhere in between the two Suqqu browns but is sheerer than either, with more shimmer.

3. Suqqu 11 Himesango with:
  • top left pink from Suqqu 08 Mizuaoi
  • top right taupe from Suqqu EX05 Usumomokurumi (LE Holiday 2011)
  • Shiseido Luminising Satin Trio RD711 Pink Sands (LE Summer 2011)
  • light taupe from Hourglass Visionaire Duo Exhibition
  • Guerlain 407 Bal de Minuit (LE Holiday 2009)

Are you sick of seeing this Guerlain quad-you-can't-have yet? :P I think it's a handy way of illustrating why Suqqu palettes are my neutrals-with-a-kick of choice -- the Guerlains look almost drab next to the complex Suqqus, and all four shades share an identical smooth metallic finish, unlike Suqqu's thoughtful mixture of textures and light-reflecting effects. In colour terms Himesango is another one of those carefully balanced neutrals: more pink/plum than the warmer beachier shades to its left, and more peach/gold than the purple taupe of Hourglass Exhibition.

with flash

The Shiseido peachy-pink is similar to but slightly warmer than the Himesango pink. It's also more muted and gives less of an illusion of 'depth' than the Suqqu which has a greater variety of shimmer particles. If you missed out on last Christmas' limited edition quads, Himesango has a slightly cooler, more plum/silver version of the taupe in the pink Usumomokurumi palette.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Suqqu Spring Blend Eyeshadow Palette swatches

Three new quints were just released and will be joining Suqqu's permanent collection; like the quads, they are priced at £45 each. They will however be replacing three of the current lineup of Blend Eyeshadow Palettes -- 02 Kokedama, 03 Matsukasa and 05 Sakurakaba will be discontinued, so if you've had your eye on any of those, it's time to decide whether to pull the trigger.

Unlike palettes 01-06 (which feature two mattes, a delicate satin shimmer, and a shimmery metallic) and unlike 06 and 07 (one matte, two iridescent sparkles, and a satin), these new quints include:
  • top left: sheerish iridescent sparkle
  • top right: pigmented iridescent metallic (almost molten-creamy, extremely impressive)
  • bottom left: split pan with two very pigmented shades, an iridescent satin and a matte with very sparse microshimmer
  • bottom right: standard Suqqu matte primer/base shade
I was underwhelmed by the early pictures/swatches but as always, Suqqu's attention to detail (unusual undertones, neutrals made complex by multi-dimensional shimmer) and constantly improving textures (a step up in pigmentation without sacrificing any of the silky smoothness) won me over when I played with these in person. With thanks again to the friends who let me sample their precioussesses for the blog, I present: swatches! (Comparison swatches here.)

All swatches are one swipe with the included sponge applicators.

09 Usumoegi, natural light
Suqqu Blend Eyeshadow 09 Usumoegi palette

09 Usumoegi, with flash
Suqqu Blend Eyeshadow 09 Usumoegi palette

09 Usumoegi, natural light
Suqqu Blend Eyeshadow 09 Usumoegi palette swatch

09 Usumoegi, natural sunlight (!)
Suqqu Blend Eyeshadow 09 Usumoegi palette swatch

09 Usumoegi, fuzzy flash pic to show iridescence
Suqqu Blend Eyeshadow 09 Usumoegi palette swatch

10 Kozuecha, natural light
Suqqu Blend Eyeshadow 10 Kozuecha palette

10 Kozuecha, with flash
Suqqu Blend Eyeshadow 10 Kozuecha palette

10 Kozuecha, natural light
Suqqu Blend Eyeshadow 10 Kozuecha palette swatch

10 Kozuecha, natural sunlight
Suqqu Blend Eyeshadow 10 Kozuecha palette swatch

10 Kozuecha, fuzzy flash pic to show iridescence
Suqqu Blend Eyeshadow 10 Kozuecha palette swatch

11 Himesango, natural light
Suqqu Blend Eyeshadow 11 Himesango

11 Himesango, with flash
Suqqu Blend Eyeshadow 11 Himesango

11 Himesango, natural light
Suqqu Blend Eyeshadow 11 Himesango swatch

11 Himesango, natural sunlight
Suqqu Blend Eyeshadow 11 Himesango swatch

11 Himesango, fuzzy flash pic to show iridescence
Suqqu Blend Eyeshadow 11 Himesango swatch