Sunday, 15 April 2012

Ladurée Les Merveilleuses Pressed Cheek Colour 11

Through the generosity of lovely ladies Jamilla and  Charisse, I recently managed to acquire one of the exquisite cameo-embossed Ladurée Les Merveilleses pressed powder blushes. Currently exclusive to Japan, each 4g blush single retails for ¥3990 with cases sold separately for ¥1575 -- if like me you find the packaging mildly hideous not your tasse de thé, it's essentially a depotter's discount :D

(Justifications aside, this counts as my fourth purchase of this year's twelve.)

Obligatory packaging porn, such as it is:

Lovely thick, textured paper box

Contents: Plastic oval encasing the pan, and a clear plastic lid to protect the surface

The pan feels pleasantly hefty (heavier than Addiction and definitely no flimsy Illamasqua-esque tins) and has a magnet attached to its base

Shade-wise I opted for a safe raspberry-rose no. 11

Comparison Swatches
Becca Beach Tint Raspberry Rouge Bunny Rouge cream blush wand Rubens RBR powder blush Florita Sleek Pinktini and Pink Parfait from Blush By 3 Pink Sprint trio Ladurée Les Merveilluses Pressed Cheek Colour 11

Natural light
blush swatch Becca Beach Tint Raspberry Rouge Bunny Rouge cream blush wand Rubens RBR powder blush Florita Sleek Pinktini and Pink Parfait from Blush By 3 Pink Sprint trio Ladurée Les Merveilluses Pressed Cheek Colour 11
Becca Beach Tint Raspberry
Rouge Bunny Rouge cream blush wand Rubens
RBR powder blush Florita
Sleek Pinktini and Pink Parfait from Blush By 3 Pink Sprint trio
Ladurée Les Merveilluses Pressed Cheek Colour 11

In both shade and pigmentation, Ladurée 11 is closest to Sleek Pinktini -- if you are familiar with the brighter Sleek shades, you'll know this makes Ladurée pretty.damn.pigmented. Its finish is on the matte side of satin, glowier than Illamasqua mattes but not as sheeny as RBR powders.

However, as my swatch hopefully shows, the texture of Ladurée is far smoother and the pigmentation more evenly dispersed over one heavy swipe. It's an odd phenomenon I haven't quite worked out yet but the Ladurée texture seems to be extremely blendable without being exceptionally creamy or silky feeling. It is finely milled and tightly pressed, but no more so than my favourites formulas (RBR, Burberry, Shiseido) and it lacks their immediately 'smooth' feel.

The first tap of (any) brush on cheek actually makes the blush look patchy on me -- it's only after continuing to blend that the colour takes on a smooth, demi-matte finish which nonetheless manages to appear lit-from-within. The blending itself is a breeze -- this powder never drags even on my Saharan-dry cheeks and I can go back and smooth over any edges even hours after application.

A simple look with Ladurée 11, Guerlain Rouge G Gigolo blotted down to a lipstain 
and Topshop Crayon Mystical on eyes (review to come)
Base: Paul&Joe Light Cream S 00 mixed with RBR Sea of Tranquility with Ellis Faas 
concealer under eyes. Lancome Hypnôse Drama WP mascara.
Pictures taken in natural light, such as it was....

So I've blathered about shade, texture and feel... the look this blush ultimately gives is that of a cheek stain in powder form. And working backwards, I think this explains both its odd spreadability-without-creaminess and its matte and pigmented yet translucent finish.

And like the Beauté liqui-gel stains which it most closely resembles, this is not as flattering on flaky, dehydrated skin as Rouge Bunny Rouge powders or RMSbeauty creams -- it will remain a warm-weather-only formula for me.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Skincare Not-So-Routine

Or, even more products what I use to supplement my not-so-basic basic skincare routine.

So, delicatest of delicate little lotus blossoms that I am, I have skin that is sensitive, thin and slow-healing, a combination that makes exfoliation both tempting (slough off dull flaky bumpy bits and make scars fade faster? woot!) and risky (irritation ahoy! yet more flakes and redness? what fresh hell? etc.) 
I now find it best to avoid all physical exfoliators,* instead relying on a thin layer of REN Glycolactic Mask about once a fortnight (once a week max) -- its fruit acids, like, completely resurface my skin in ten minutes, bestowing a makeup-less(!) glow for the next day or so. It does sting slightly while on and absolutely reeks of fruit roll-ups but what price beauty, eh? It doesn't make my skin red, sore or flaky afterwards.
A localised dot of Paula's Choice 2% BHA Weightless Body Treatment overnight usually takes care of any isolated clogs. (I originally bought this to deal with some psoriasis bumps on upper arms / backs of thighs -- it's a rare example of a product that works so well it rendered itself obsolete before the end of the tube.)
*not just the notoriously abrasive St. Ives Apricot Scrub but also everything from the Asian rub'n'peel gels like Cure to gentle enzyme-based Dermalogica Microfoliant to the finest muslin cloths. I tolerated pink clay konjac sponges quite well, but only in summer / hot climates.

Moisturising Masks
If I exfoliate less often than your average pamered poodle groomed woman, I bet I 'mask' more often -- at least twice a week, always after exfoliation, and daily if my skin's particularly picky. It's always fun to try whatever's flavour of the month when I travel to E. Asia (currently bee venom, apparently; previous trends have included platinum, pearl, red wine and of course, SK-II's pitera) but the no-frills drugstore fragrance-free, alcohol-free Mandom Beauty Barrier Repair Super Moist sheet masks have remained my favourites for years. Like my 'holy grail' serum from the same brand, it does a simple job (hydration) exceptionally well, leaving me with plumped, soothed and ridiculously soft skin after 20 minutes' wear. The sheet itself is also thick and cut larger than many other brands', and tears down the middle for an even better fit.
I babble a lot about Japanese drugstore gems, but Boots Botanics is a reliable source of homegrown ones -- their lightly honeyed Intensive Moisture Mask makes an excellent overnight spot-treatment for dry patches and doubles as my gankin massage cream -- most of it's usually sunk in by the time I finish, but any excess is easily patted in, so there's no rinsing / double cleansing / wiping to deal with.
DHC Revitalising Moisture Strips proved to be my favourite of all the Asian eye masks I tried last year -- laid over whatever eye cream you're using, they noticeably depuff and brighten the undereye area overnight while boosting its moisture, and the effect lasts at least 24 hours. (On their own they don't moisturise sufficiently for me.)

During brief windows in which I have unbroken, relatively happy skin I like to tempt fate Erase the Passage of Time incorporate some more 'active' ingredients into my basic 'keep skin hydrated and moisturised' routine (which frankly takes too much work as it is).
The Body Shop Vitamin C Radiance Capsules is the more effective of the only two vit. C products on the market which didn't burn my face off (the other is the very watery MAP-based DHC Vitamin C Essence). The individually packaged doses (30 per jar) are a clever way to keep the active ingredient fresh (vit C in its L-Ascorbic Acid form is notoriously quick to degrade) and they make any acne scars/marks fade noticeably faster and give brighter-looking skin overall applied as a morning serum.
I've professed my love for Olay Regenerist Fragrance-Free Serum before and it's still my nighttime serum for barrier-repair and redness-minimising (it's best not to layer l-ascorbic acid and niacinamide as the two ingredients work best at different pHs).
Note: both of these actives come in very siliconey bases to 'buffer' them for my very sensitive skin; I'm sure there are more potent offerings out there for those with normal or resistant skin.

My response to any skin emergency is to moisturise the hell out of it. This applies to breakouts as well as the more usual dry-skin woes (chapped, peeling, cracked, tight or lined skin). I rarely get spots but when I do they're inevitably those giant, painful stress/hormonal underground cysts -- and for those, moisturising and not-picking/squeezing are for me the best way to:
  1. bring them to a head quicker (if they are to come to a head, most of mine seem to get reabsorbed after a month or summat...*)
  2. keep the surface smooth and flake-free to ease concealer-application
  3. ameliorate future scarring, a little
Avène Cicalfate Repair Cream is perfect for this, because as well as being bland, fragrance-free, and antibacterial, it's also thicker than most of their creams so adheres well to localised patches and can be applied in a thick mask-like layer overnight. The metal packaging is hygenic and psychologically soothing, though I admit I wish it came in awesome test-tubes like the old Tolérance Extrême...
La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Baume B5 is a new product I first read of on Musing On Beauty. Its ingredients resemble Avène's Cicalfate (unsurprisingly as the two brands and product lines are direct rivals) unlike the original LRP Cicaplast which is more of a cosmetic primer. First impressions are that it is much more matte and almost waxy in comparison to the Avène; I'll be giving it a more thorough testing through an East Asian hot summer.

*dermatological expertise: I haz it. In spades.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Pattern Recognition

Nah, not another knitting post, but I wanted to make public the embarrassment I felt upon recently reorganising my makeup collection and discovering just how many versions of the same damn thing I possessed.

Obviously, having devoted a sizeable chunk of my frivolities budget to makeup for over a decade, it wasn't exactly a smelling-salts-required! level of shock, but I'm sure I'm not the first or only beauty lover to wonder where the line sits between "knowing your own tastes" (as I'm assured all the reeeeeally stylish folk must) and turning into Consumerist Drone Mark II No.23756920?

In hopes of some recouped cash if not an answer, I'll be uploading a spring blogsale tomorrow (with some clothes and accessories too). In the meantime, some patterns for posterity:

Sonia Rykiel Quatre Eyeshadow 09, Suqqu 01 Kakitsubata, Suqqu EX-04 Douku (LE), Lunasol 04 Smoky Ocean, THREE 02 My Blue Heaven, Esprique Blend Dimensional Deep B-5

Chanel Stupendous (LE), Guerlain 409 Ombres Perlées (LE), EST Emotional Aura Eyes 03 (DC), Suqqu EX-05 Usumomokurumi (LE), Suqqu 11 Himesango

Cosme Decorte Magie Deco DC024 Luminous Star, Suqqu 09 Koju (DC), Suqqu 04 Keshizumi, Coffret D'Or Trance Deep Eyes 04 Gray Variation (DC), Integrate Accent Eyes VI 710

Now I'm no minimalist, and I particularly enjoy premade palettes because they tell stories in ways that single items don't. In practical terms, on rushed mornings I find quads in particular easier to throw on than single eyeshadows (which I usually find need pairing with a liner -- but which liner? and WHERE HAVE ALL THE LINERS GONE?! etc.), and they also make the best travelling companions. Felt I had to point that out. But honestly the wankier reasons are the more important, especially when combinations of texture, finish and all the spiralling distinctions of nuance come into play...

....I have no excuse for my bad buying habits when it comes to single items. A maybe-explanation though: I'm more tactile than visual, and so picky about texture that once I do find one I like, critical faculties aren't tossed aside lightly but thrown with great force.

Guerlain KissKiss Gloss Stick (DC) in Rose des Sables and Corail des Mers
Lavshuca Dramatic Memory Rouge in RS-1 and RD-1
Guerain Rouge Automatique in Chamade and Nahema
Hourglass Femme Rouge in Fresco and Muse

Shiseido Perfect Rouge in PK417 Bubblegum and RD514 Dragon; Tender Sheer in RS628 Natural Wine
Guerlain Rouge G in Girly, Garçonne and Gigolo
Addiction Cheek Stick in Amazing, Revenge and Suspicious
Sonia Rykiel Sublime in 03, 02 and 24

Kevyn Aucoin Creamy Moist Glow in Tansoleil, Pravella and not-Patrice
Chanel Extrait de Gloss in Liberté, Confidence and Fatale
Nars Velvet Gloss Pencil in Happy Days and Frivolous; Velvet Matte Pencil in Pop Life
Becca Beach Tint in Guava, Watermelon and Strawberry
RMSBeauty lip2cheek in Smile, Modest and Rapture
Becca Lip and Cheek Cream in Petal; Cream Blush in Amaryllis and Geranium

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Majolica Majorca Lash King Mascara review

Anyone who read the last post will know that I owe you a sizeable backlog of mascara reviews -- so many in fact that I'll be posting them in, well, clumps. But Lash King, the latest release from Shiseido's drugstore line Majolica Majorca, makers of my current (Lash Expander Frame Plus) as well as my all-time favourite mascara (the discontinued Lash Enamel Glamour Neo), deserved a considered post of its own.

Spoiler for those too lazy/busy to scroll: Having played with Lash King for two months, Lash Expander Frame Plus remains my favourite.

Lash King packaging

Majolica Majorca Lash King mascara ingredients

Tube next to Lash Expander Frame Plus (loathe the cheap-looking new colour-scheme)
Majolica Majorca Lash Expander Frame Plus Lash King mascara comparison
Majolica Majorca Lash Expander Frame Plus Lash King mascara comparison

Lash King has a traditional bristle brush head, bigger than LEFP's double sided plastic comb. And many more fibres. SO.MANY.Fibres.
Majolica Majorca Lash Expander Frame Plus Lash King mascara comparison

For reference: LEFP (wand brushed through upper lashes once)
Majolica Majorca Lash Expander Frame Plus mascara

Lash King: wand brushed through upper lashes once
Majolica Majorca Lash King mascara

The most obvious difference is that Lash King gives more volume than LEFP.
Both mascaras are equally: waterproof/smudgeproof, lengthening, capable of holding a curl for days, difficult to remove (requiring Heroine Make Mascara Remover before cleansing oil).
But unforgivably, Lash King's drier formula combined with its, uh, exuberance of fibres means that I experience flaking throughout the day, ending up with a speckled semi-circle of soot under my eyes, which is indelible as only Japanese mascaras can be...

Aside from the flaking issue, Lash King looks best when applied in one clean coat, as above, but I for one am incapable of ever calling it a day after one swipe of mascara (and risk leaving a fraction of inner and outer lashes nude?!), and this formula starts clumping lashes together right from the second pass. Here's a more realistic application with actual eyeshadow on (Suqqu Koju quad, Nars Gaiety under brow), having brushed the wand through about three times:
Lash King gives a very obviously mascara'd look, which becomes all-out clumpy if I try to layer two coats proper (redipping the wand in between). Obviously this is entirely down to personal preference; for me the versatility and wetter / less fibrous formula of LEFP -- which looks better after a few extra coats -- wins out.

I ordered Lash King from ct_taiwan for around £12; it's now also stocked at adambeauty, ichibankao and the usual suspects.

Monday, 2 April 2012


A thousand apologies for my lazy nonblogging ways -- illness and exhaustion meant that I wasn't wearing any interesting makeup in any case and barely even fulfilling the basic social do-not-traumatise-impressionable-children-in-the-street-with-vision-of-haggard-future-to-come contract.

I'll be returning to a more regular posting schedule now, and hopefully improving the quality of my pictures courtesy of a shiny!new!Canon 600D -- it sees "no makeup" makeup, yo! And probably dead people too.

So, some frivolous updates.

Spring clean
Beauty bits I've finished up / given up on this year:
(I have a mascara problem, I know)

Laundering and putting the things I made this winter into storage (except the red top, which will transition into spring, and the 'whimsical' purple bonnet which I will try to foist upon an unwary school's drama department).

Rose Red beret (this is my 5th? 6th? People keep commandeering them off my head)

Meret with extra slouch (using up some wool/mohair leftover from a wrap cardigan)

Doomed bonnet is doomed (tweed left over from a peplummy jacket)

 Red textured sweater (100% merino, not thrilled with the fit on the shoulders, hey ho)

Aran tunic nightmare (I made this three times to get it to fit, lost the vintage ivory buttons I'd carefully hunted down, semi-permanently stained my hands with the appropriate shit-coloured organic vegetable dye that kept.leeching.out of the organic local British wool the trauma... and finished it just as the temperatures rose above 20ºC. I will wear it to death next winter.) 

  The slouchy beanie you've seen already, and I forgot about this scarf, started in Hong Kong late last year (Italian mohair/nylon):

For spring, I've decided on two bluegreeny tops -- a lacy pullover pattern from the 1940s in exquisite merino/silk (R) and a quirky cotton/milk protein cardigan (L) for candy-coloured colourblocking purposes.

Comfort reading 
People who know me almost very well tend to say I'm addicted to books when my actual addiction is to story -- books are just my preferred short-cut. When convalescing or generally in need of comfort, I like even shorter-cutting, which usually means rereading stuff I pretty much have by heart.
(The Princess Bride and Cold Comfort Farm have been staples since childhood and I tend to cycle through Pratchetts, Wynne Joneses and Fry's (or Wildes and Shaws and Restoration comedies))

More broardly my shortest-cut genres are children's/young adult fiction or books-in-series (bonus if it's a series of children's books), the best of which provide an intravenous drip of well-written story, relatively uncluttered by scaffolding and obtrusions and other such yawnsomes.

Not photographed (because I felt like enough of a knob snapping books, I really aint going to photograph a kindle screen): The Hunger Games trilogy, which I gulped down in its entirety in one night, and then drooled for a week over all the glorious visual interpretations.

In a world without Cinna's aid to Beauty Base Zero, these potions kept me vaguely human-looking and -feeling. Illness makes my skin even more dry and sensitive so I've learned from experience to slather on the blandest moisturiser and richest lipbalm I own every couple of hours (Avène Tolérance Extrême and RBR Kiss Elixir) and if any peeling/cracking does occur, to supplement them with Avène Cicalfate and Blistex Relief Cream.

The latest shade of Shu Uemura's Underbase Mousse primer (Pink Purple) is the perfect neutral lilac to knock out post-illness sallowness and redness without leaving me looking more zombielike (cheers, traditional green/purple primers!) or tangoed (trad pink/orange). Having finished a Graftobian HD cream foundation and Ellis Faas concealer, I'm now mixing various things with Suqqu Frame Fix Foundation 101 and layering things over Bobbi Brown Corrector in Light Bisque (of which the Shu 4R sable brush applies the perfect amount).

Eyes have consisted of simple washes of a cream eyeshadow: RBR Atlas Swallowtail, Laura Mercier Mercury, MUFE Steel and Bobbi Brown Beach Honey all have a subtle silvery sheen to flatter discoloured eyelids. Sometimes with an iridescent pigment dabbed onto the centre of the lid for more dimension: RBR Sleeping Under a Mandarin Tree and Wishing for Wings, MAC Night Light, Suqqu Kyokkou.

Obviously, lips need to be bright and saturated to provide the greatest impact : effort ratio. By Terry Rouge Terrybly Cherry Cherry and Hot Cranberry, Chanel Genial, Bite Beauty Pomegranate, THREE Ruby Mist are all in heavy rotation and work well on lips in less than perfect condition.

Aside from the return of old favourite Mad Men, current flirtations with The Walking Dead and Once Upon A Time (though by now, I watch mostly for the lipstick/hat inspiration and Robert Carlyle's unholy charisma), I'm most eagerly anticipating the second season of Game of Thrones... which comes on in about five minutes so let's see how much drivel I can type until then.

I've been watching the first season's dvd commentaries, oh yes, and OMG, like, DIEING at the deliciously silly and geeky Lena Headey (Cersei) on episode 2 and Harry Lloyd (Viserys) on episode 6, and of course the adorable Stark kid actors on episode 3 (how preternaturally asute is Maisie Williams?) Essential viewing if you haven't already.

Also essential viewing (though you probably have already... I've fallen behind on memes trying to avoid spoilers):

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

St Patrick's Day and Night

I've been a lackadaisical blogger lately and this post is embarrasingly late. (Okay, also because I took the night pics after coming home, and most of the photos were hazy artistic renderings of my bathroom ceiling / left earlobe.)

Daytime pictures in natural light. Nighttime ones in artificial light + flash.

Rouge Bunny Rouge's delicate lime Resplendant Quetzal as an accent in a girly springtime look. RBR pigment in Sleeping Under a Mandarin Tree (I recently received a decant of this holographic marigold-shifting-to-lemon from a generous friend) all over the lid and under the inner part of lower lashline, with Chestnut-Napped Apalis in the socket. A perky flick with KATE gel liner BK-1 and a basic volumising daytime mascara, Maybelline Falsies wp. [Not pictured: GOSH white kohl]

Paired with one of the new Shu Uemura Rouge Unlimited lipsticks (CR330) and RBR liquid bronzer on high points to add warmth. Base is Shu Stage Performer and Underbase Mousse Pink Purple as a base, with custom concealer (RMS 11 + Illamasqua white) as needed.

Standard issue green smokey, incorporating as many of my new toys (from swaps! and gifts! honest....) as I had time for with utter disregard for clashing of undertones and other such canards.
Make Up Store pencil in Sparkling Smaragde as base and taken under eye with a dab of Green Card in the inner corner. On the lid: the two greyed greens from Kevyn Aucoin Essential Eye Palette #6 with Addiction Pink Python closest to the lashline [not pictured, impulsive addition] and Collection2000 Glam Crystals glitter eyeliner Pizzazz on the upper lashline. Waterline rimmed with MUFE Aqua Eyes 0L and clumptastic lashes with two coats of Majolica Majorca Lash King.

Paired with cool petally pinks rather than the more usual coral/peach -- Addiction Miss You More lipgloss and Shu Uemura Sakura blush. Same base as for day with the addition of Paul&Joe Light Cream Foundation S 00 -- you can see my custom concealer didn't quite hold up on the mutant boil I'm currently cultivating in between my eyebrows. Back to the lab....