Friday, 24 August 2012

Summer Blogsale

*all gone*

And yes, this means that out of the EIGHT items I've purchased so far (discounting replacements) for my twelve-a-year pledge, I've fallen out of love with FOUR (Ladurée 11, Shiseido Fire, Kanebo Sensai Shirafuji and Suqqu Himesango).

But overall, despite taking a free month of hauling at will in June, my collection has shrunk to about half its size at the beginning of the year. Carry on with what feels like a bit of a pointless exercise or pat self on back for keeping to the spirit if not the letter? Would love to here your thoughts :)

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Field Notes: Autumn 2012 Swatches

A mixed bag of recent dabblings in department stores: Chanel Blue Illusion, YSL Rouge Pur Couture Les Mats, and Estée Lauder Vivid Shine collections.

1. Chanel Blue Illusion was previewed at the Haute Couture SS 2012 show and I'd been anticipating the two new (limited edition) Illusion D'Ombre cream shadows (both blues! one light, one dark) ever since -- given the idiosyncrasy of fashion seasons, we're talking months of calf-eyed mooning over backstage closeups here.
And after swatching them repeatedly over the past month? Resounding meh.
Swatches fom least to most light (natural):
swatches Chanel Blue Aerien Illustion D'Ombre Apparition Destination
The liner (Blue Aerien) is a moderately pigmented mid-tone blue matte with sparse silver shimmer that's only visible once blended out (second swatch). As with all non-shimmery Chanel pencil liners, I found it to apply patchily and to tug on my dry skin.
Both Illusion D'Ombre Apparition (deep blue-grey with silver, green and very sparse pink microshimmer) and Destination (silvery blue with the same microshimmer) are softly shimmery, moderately pigmented mousses like Rivière rather than the creamier, denser, more pigmented and much sparklier original lineup of shades (or the latter releases Abstraction and Vision).
All shades are limited edition and are available in the Oxford Street John Lewis and Selfridges in London -- may be able to order these by phone.

2. YSL Rouge Pur Couture Les Mats is a new, permanent collection of six shades of modern matte lipsticks: touted-as-moisturising, with a good bit of siliconey slip to ease application, but long lasting and highly pigmented, corrective satin rather than flat matte -- cf. Chanel Rouge Allure Velvets or Lancôme Colour Design Mattes.
I found these very impressive -- in particular 202 Rose Crazy, 203 Rouge Rock and 204 Rouge Scandal were intensely and smoothly pigmented -- although the darker 205 Prune Virgin (!) and 206 Grenat Satisfaction looked a little patchy on one swipe, and 201 Orange Imagine needed three-four layers to reach the opacity of the other shades.
YSL Rouge Pur Couture Les Mats matte lipstick swatches 201 Orange Imagine, 202 Rose Crazy, 203 Rouge Rock, 204 Rouge Scandal, 205 Prune Virgin, 206 Grenat Satisfaction
Based on the look and performance of 203 Rouge Rock on my delicious friend Mira Sundari, even through some epic ice-cream-and-waffle-nomming, I think these are worth every penny of their £23.50 pricetag and tacky gold packaging.

3. Estée Lauder Vivid Shine features a mix of limited edition and permanent shades, providing a bonanza of autumn-collection-awesome: saturated jewel tones, icy pastels, and unashamed sparkle being the main themes.
The eyeshadows are re-stamped but not reformulated from last year's Cyber Eyes release and the molten wet-or-dry "Illuminating Powder Gelee" formula was also used in this summer's limited edition Bronze Sands quint; a step up from MAC's Extra Dimension formula from spring. I finger-swatched these dry, because the EL counters were heaving in contrast to Dior, Lancôme and others, but you can hopefully extrapolate how much more intense they would be used wet based on Lipglossiping's excellent swatches from last year.

All swatches in natural light, without flash. I angled for fuzziness in the bottom pictures. Starred items are limited edition.
Estee Lauder eyeshadow swatches Cyber Silver, Arctic Sky, Cyber Ice, Cyber Pink
Arctic Sky is the only sheer sparkle in this batch; Cyber Silver and Cyber Pink are more pigmented and metallic-glittery while Cyber Ice is an all-out frost.

Estee Lauder eyeshadow swatches Cyber Copper, Cyber Gold, Lights Out, Cyber Green
As you can see, Cyber Green hasn't been tweaked to match its name since the original release. It's still a black warmed by copper, green and gold sparkle. Cyber Green along with Lights Out and Cyber Copper were the driest in texture and would need to be packed on with a very heavy hand or foiled with water/mixing medium to display much complexity on the eye.

Estee Lauder eyeshadow swatches Cyber Ruby, Magenta, Electric Orchid, Cyber Lilac
Cyber Lilac is the most complex and pigmented of this batch, and one of the shades that really show off this new formula's balance of pigment, creaminess and complex sparkle -- a great
illustration of why Estée Lauder makeup has been making a comeback in recent seasons. Cyber Ruby is a rich rose-brown with, yep, ruby and fuchsia shimmer; even softer are Electric Orchid and Magenta which balance gloriously unsubtle the-eighties-are-back tones with less textural bling.

Estee Lauder eyeshadow swatches Pop Pistachio, Ultramarine, Cyber Teal, Fire Sapphire
This last set mixes a sheer sparkle (Fire Sapphire) with two moderately-pigmented shimmers (yellow-green Pop Pistachio and blue-green Ultramarine) and another complex metallic glitter, Cyber Teal.
The first thing that struck me about these was their similarity to a few Addiction Aurora Reflection shades I owned. While Addiction are a step up still in texture, complexity and greater colour payoff, these EL shades are worth looking into as accessible relations. (Ignore Magenta peeking out on the right there.)
Estée Lauder Fire Sapphire is the less-pigmented twin to Addiction Blue Moon.
Estée Lauder Pop Pistachio is a flatter, less-sparkly, yellower cousin to Addiction Silent Scream.
Estée Lauder Cyber Teal is much more tauped (greyed and browned) and less, well, teal than Addiction Deep Forest.

Finally, some very messy field swatches of what seemed to be to be the four sparkliest nail polishes in the new line. From index to pinky: Smashed, Molten Lava, Explosif and Chaos.

[While I can't fault Tom Pecheux's eye, I do question whose nose in Haus Lauder is responsible for keeping that lurid fig scent in their lip products, season after season -- the latest batch of Pure Colour lipsticks did seem wonderfully moisturising and lushly pigmented, for those of you who like that kind of thing. There was a killer coral in the line too, from what I could tell between dry-heaves.]

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Sunday Sundries

i.e. my belated entry into Yumeko's Weekly Photo Challenge #11: Hey, How Was Your Week?

1. Something you ate this week
I am a stress-baker. And -eater. Awesome combo as you can imagine, usually leading to my leaving ranty sugarhigh 400-words-a-minute PSA's on people's answerphones at 3 am about how I Am Now Self-Sufficiency Woman Hear Me Roar/Burp. If I have your phone number I will apologise now, because this will happen to you eventually. 
As there's been no shortage of stress lately...

Tiny green tea sables with demerara sugar crust for extra maltiness (from the bits that melt) and crunch (from the bits that don't)
I put too much matcha powder in. This happens every time because it ensures that everyone finds them too bitterly caffeinated and they end up mine all mine.

Flowery Earl Grey tea biscuits -- check out my poncy Harrods loose-leaf, what. (Srsly though, use the most fragrant tea you have or chuck in some oils / dried flowers -- it makes a huge diff.)
It's sweltering in London so no proper tea to go with -- but hey, a glass of elderflower cordial for English twee counts, surely?
As if you couldn't tell, I cut round a real teaspoon for these... then decided even heroic procrastination couldn't justify this utter pointlessness and fetched a mug to stamp out the rest of the dough. Most hostesses have more mostestness than I do, so do feel free to steal this cutesy idea (which I nicked from a Japanese cake book.)

In case of precipitous drop in blood sugar levels while stranded far from oven:
How glad am I that bubble teas have hit the UK Azn Mnstrm? Tearfully, vowelessly glad. Left: brown sugar milk tea and right: matcha milk tea (I love matcha okay), both with delicious chewy tapioca 'pearls'. From Candy Cafe in Chinatown.

2. Something you bought this week
Dolce&Gabbana Sole blush (the big ball of hotness in the sky, not the fish / shoe component) -- eight of twelve, if anyone's still counting.

And 'no pics without tea,' I hear you cry? MOAR TEA it is then:
From the always delightful Postcard Teas, a refill of Big Smoke [gutsy Indian black mix smoked over cinnamon wood mixed with delicate Darjeeling] and two caddies of Green Mulberry [dried young Thai mulberry leaves] and Tea Flower Tea [Sri Lankan black, with the flowers of the plant] to try. Cannot recommend this shop highly enough -- you can probably tell how deadly tempting it is from the packaging alone -- note, their China teas are just okay (well, I'm spoiled by biannual Hong Kong trips) but the rest are gold.

3. Something you wore this week
I finally made something from the vinage pattern book I got for Christmas with that greenyblue silk/merino yarn from May -- which, after halving the blousoniness of the sleeves (man those 1940s ladies were built), I am frankly besotted with:
sorry this pic is fuzzy -- wanted to show the clever 'darts' underneath both boobs and at the elbow (there's one at the centre back too)? So stealing this construction for my modern knits.
I will never not-love a good puff sleeve.

I'm not big on accessories but the iridescence of this supremely simple COS ring caught my eye while stocking up on shirts and knickers, and it's been garnering compliments ever since:

 My HK sale steal, Tsumori Chisato sunnies. ^_^
RBR liquid bronzer looking supernaturally glowy // Essence Candybar gloss 

4. Something you read this week
Beauty books: Ugly Beauty by Ruth Brandon (a loose, journalistic skim through the stories of Helena Rubinstein and, especially, Eugene Schueller and his Vichy collaboration-or-not) and Beauty Imagined by Geoffrey Jones (much meatier, but less cultural analysis and more bizniz stats and numbers than is to my taste).
September issues: So-En, Voce, and Biteki.

A friend recently challenged me to give this year's crop of literary fiction (hiss, spit) a fair chance [in return he gets to gambol through the list of 'Shiny, Shiny Stories from the Last Three Millenia' I put together] so I'm starting with the obvious Booker/Orange/Pulitzer prize nominees but any recommendations would be welcome! Especially if they are properly enjoyable like Jane Harris' Gillespie and I, Stella Tillyard's Tides of War, Emma Donoghue's The Sealed Letter [uh, is it obvious that I beelined for the hist-fic crossovers on the lists?], Michael Frayn's Skios or Esi Edugyan's Half-Blood Blues [not pictured, still feel ridiculous photographing kindle screen] -- when did litfic get so good?

5. Something that made you smile this week
In material terms,
a. This freebie ad / fan handed out by a poor dude from Yamamoto Removals melting outside the Japan Centre was like an instant imaginary ticket to Tokyo (no tissues to be had, sadly).

b. A proper souvenir this time, from my dad's recent E. Asia trip: a DesignComplicity umbrella/parasol printed with a leaf canopy, perfect for napping under with a book post-picnic or running under after the suddenbutinevitable thunderstorm.

c. Nicked from my mum after Sunday dinner last week: softly squidgy bee-charmed flats by Pilcro & The Letterpress. They are cut very wide so wear more like flipflops on me and can be kicked off in an instant -- perfect for the park, especially with their stripy trim peeking out. It's going to feel like the end of summer when I return these to her tomorrow.

I especially enjoyed taking part this particular photo challenge and reading Lost In Omo's and Rouge Deluxe's entries -- please drop me a comment and a link if you decide to join in too.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Pretty In Pink and Peach

Hello, my dears! Apologies for lack of posts/keeping up with comments lately -- my non-blogging life has become insanely busy and my makeup has fallen into a rut that, while alliteratively pink, peach and pretty-pretty (so still, like, true to my cheeseball soul and stuff) isn't otherwise very blog-worthy.

But my latest batch of Japanese mags (more scans forthcoming) reminded me of how much I like looking at the nuances in subtle, professional and yes, pretty makeup so I'm going to risk boring you all with some recent spins on pink/peach eyes, which have become kind of a go-to since I dyed my hair lighter and warmer. [Busyness also means pictures rarely get taken, and when they do, often turn out to be fuzzy -- apologies in advance, but this post will be more about tonal pairings than interesting placements anyway.]

eyeshadow palette KATE Deep Trap Eyes PK-1, Fasio Shade Trick Eyes PK-5, SUQQU Blend Eyeshadow 11 Himesango

....yeah, all from Japanese brands, because they are light-years ahead when it comes to this kind of thing.
As regular readers will know, Suqqu eyeshadow are my never-bettered holy grail complex neutral faves, with a luxe pricetag of £45-and-worth-every-penny. But there are plenty of offerings at more reasonable mid-range and low end prices too -- more than enough to justify the common complaint that the Japanese drugstore's an endless sea of tasteful tonal gradational...*honkshu* BUT! when I am looking for neutrals, which allow far less leeway than brights for the interesting editorial clashy/ugly thang, the diversity of undertones (undersemitones or semidemitones might be even more appropriate) to choose from across those boring, subtle variations becomes a blessing.
Warm pinks/browns are among the trickiest colours for me to pull off but the thoughtful combinations of textures (especially varieties of sparkle) and tones in these two drugstore palettes -- KATE Deep Trap Eyes PK-1 and Fasio Shade Trick Eyes PK-5 [both discontinued, but still ebayable] make them effortlessly flattering and user-friendly, even pre-coffee-ten-minutes-to-get-to-work-utterly-brainless-user-friendly. Leaving time to really enjoy the process of choosing which lip and blush colours to bring out which semidemitone nuances in these neutrals... hey, I said I was going to bore you and I AM.

Picture time! 

KATE Deep Trap Eyes PK-1

Multi-shimmered sheer white (4th from left) as a base; peach (3) all over the lid fading into the socket; shimmery rose (2) on the inner and outer corners, blended inwards; plum (1) smudged up and out from lashline; glittery gunmetal (5) dabbed into the middle of the mobile lid.

Under the eye, I ran the white (4) along the lashline and blended the pink (2) and plum (1) together at the outer edge to join the shadow on the lid.

Lips: neutral rose-peach glossy (to echo the glossed-up centre of the eye), Chanel Extrait de Gloss Liberté and Confidence mixed together.
Cheeks: Beauty Is Life Geisha, a dusty warm pink.

SUQQU Blend Eyeshadow 11 Himesango
natural light
full sun
White (1) as a base and browbone highlight; pink-peach (2) and rosy taupe (3) mixed over the lid; bronze (4) on the outer third of the lid; plummy brown (5) smudged up from lashline. It was looking too hazy at this point, so I added a blunt wing with KATE Supersharp Liquid.

Under the eye: taupe (3) along the lashline; plummy brown (5) on outer third; pink-peach (2) to blend them out underneath.

Lips: Lancôme Corset, the softer, rosier version of Guerlain Colère, which would also have worked against this hazy eye, but I wanted more harmony this day as the blunt liner was enough contrast.
Cheeks: Beauty Is Life Palace, a sunny rosy coral, applied very lightly at outer edge of cheeks.

FASIO Shade Trick Eyes PK-5

Rose gold (2) on outer half of lid, sparkly peach (3) on inner half; brown (1) to line.

Under the eye: brown (1) on inner and outer thirds, frosty white (4) in middle of lower lashline.

Lips: a sheer jelly red (Suqqu Creamy Glow Moist EX-03 Usubeni) which lets my cool pink lips show through, to echo the reddened pink of the eye.

Decided I needed something more on the cheeks, so another pinky red: Beauty Is Life Opera.

For those who noticed the Beauty Is Life blush riff, my current collection (left to right): Geisha, Palace and Opera. See Delicate Hummingbird's epic swatch/review for more.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Voce Magazine September 2012

It's August which means we're heading for season of mists and mellow fruitfulness and toasted marshmallows and cosy knits and vampy lips -- what better way than to celebrate with a delicious crop of September issues?

First up, Voce, one of the Big Three Japanese monthly beauty glossies, along with the more no-makeup-makeup-obsessed Maquia and my personal (geekier) favourite, Biteki. For September, these three go all out with supplements listing the new collections along with shade names, prices, release dates, details of limited-editionness -- i.e. all the basic things I feel like a knob asking sales assistants about (especially when they have no clue....) -- as well as an array of 'new' looks with the products employing some nuanced little tweaks to make pretty, wearable makeup (which these three mags rarely deviate from -- look elsewhere for your editorial/streetstyle fixes) look fresh again.

Let's start with some tasty new product pics:
jelly polishes and split pan kohl liners from Addiction
cream eyeshadow bases (pencils) and loose pigments from THREE
Paul&Joe powder blush duos

Some more complete overviews from the new collections booklet (this included Euro/American brands as well, so I'm picking and choosing from the Asia-exclusive ones):
Addiction Desert Rose collection
Shiseido Maquillage
Sonia Rykiel Daisy Duck collection
Cosme Decorte AQ MW
THREE Fantastic Voyage collection

N.B. labels: 限定 = limited edition // 本記 Px = this product has been used for a look on page x of this issue.

Some of the looks in question:
Cle de Peau showcase
Suqqu showcase
I'm not usually a heavy-neutrals fan but I do like this end-of-summer burnt blush and black-rimmed eyes spin.... 
...using a THREE gloss, Addiction blush trio as well as new neutrals by Chanel and Dior.
much more to my taste: I love the discrete placement of pigment here... a look devised by makeup artist Nakano Akemi using Ladurée, Paul&Joe, Chanel etc.
These last two looks don't just showcase the models but also the makeup artist responsible and feature their commentary on the overall inspiration/impression, choice of products and possible substitutes from other brands.

This is the kind of attention to detail which made me toss all past and subsequent English beauty rags into the bin circa 2006. There are shots of the makeup from different angles, not just one artistically underlit über-flattering 6/7th profile! There are actual words! There are realistic product breakdowns rather than totally random sponsored featured items!
Let's exclaim over a tutorial, one from a series of three on current trends: 'Mode', as opposed to 'Feminine' (flirty flicked liner / soft pink lips / high ponytail) or 'Sexy' (slightly dropped and elongated eye / berry red lips and cheeks / tumbling waves).
Closeup of eye with key points highlighted: khaki tonal gradation on the lid, echoed horizontally on the lower lashline, black rimming the waterline to tighten the gradation, mascara on the outer lower lashes to subtly drop the eye balanced with high-shimmer shading. Also note the split liner flicks, opening up the eye to offset the strong waterlining.
yet another angle showing how the lid-gradation catches the light // other possible products

And a twelve-step program (!) on the perfect translucent/dewy base, again with the makeup artist's little pop-up pointers:

To be fair, I am cherry-picking the best bits; there be plenty of photoshopped-to-hell ads, vapid diet plans and boring fitness/hair/celeb stuff to wade through too. But somehow less annoying when not in one's native language, as in this How Not To Be Jowly article:

In London, you can find Japanese magazines in Japan Centre on Regent's Street or JP Books on nearby Denman St; Both shops also offer subscriptions by post/collection with a discount.