Monday, 15 October 2012

Drivel In Brief: Before the Booker 2012

I mentioned a few weeks ago that an offline friend had challenged me to read more contemporary literary fiction. And a few folks had e-poked me to blog more bookish things, which I immediately and enthusiastically began putting off, and putting off... until now, about an hour before the announcement of the winner of the Booker prize 2012, which is my last chance to SPEW ALL THE THOUGHTS*.

*'thoughts' may be stretching it <---- artistic licence, yo.

So this is kind of cheating because the shortlist came out weeks ago, but even before the longlist was announced I was fairly sure I would be cheering for Hilary Mantel's Bring Up the Bodies.  For stars-aligned-ish reasons: she's one of my favourite novelists (one of the few whose entire varied backlog I've tracked down and devoured); historical fiction is one of my favourite genres and one she particularly excels in (my introduction to Mantel was her richly multifocal French Revolution novel, A Place of Greater Safety and Bring up the Bodies shares that completely unpretentious and consummately precise dense prose style); early modern English history was my academic ghetto; and rehabilitations of historical 'villains' -- especially the practical backroom machiavellian types who, y'know, get shit done -- are another particularly strong literary kink; this book is composed of all those things and it considers them too -- there's nothing I fall for more quickly and more deeply than genuinely profound meta, about stories and histories, and their telling (so metametameta, then :P)
Unfortunately, as a sequel that continues her 2009 Booker-winning Wolf Hall in every way [did I mention I have a soft spot for the middle books of trilogies too?] its literary-qualities-aside chances of winning are about 0.0000000001%. The concluding volume might have a shot in 2016? XD

*EDIT* Mantel WON! :D

My runner-up favourites, which didn't make the shortlist:

Nicola Barker, The Yips -- another favourite writer -- this woman does dialogue and dark comedy (with a capital c and a small c and many a chaotically expletive c) with barmy panache. If you aren't sure she's your thing [though if you can put up with my kind of drivel I suspect you will find her v. readable] Wide Open is probably the best balance of representative and accessible. For me, Darkmans remains her richest offering so far.

Ned Beauman, The Teleportation Accident -- another deranged manic-comic historico-science-fictional satire, with thankfully a bit more heart than I expected. Ware if you hate high style, broad farce and extravert postmodernity. The protagonist is called Loeser and introduced as 'a total prick,' refunds.

My favourite book which did make the shortlist but isn't Mantel's -- the kind of default reasoning that lies behind most Booker winners, as far as I can tell, so it has a proper shot :P -- is Alison Moore's The Lighthouse.
On the face of it, everything I steer clear of: a slim volume heavily freighted with portentous puff about hyumin-naychure-troofs-thereof on the back, whose action, such as it is, mostly consists of internal emotional involute-ish tangles, all in minimalist prose and a wide-spaced font. It is very much the typical lit fic piece I would never have bothered with were it not for Teh Challenge, and it's absolutely bloody brilliant. I finished it at 3am, emotionally shattered and philosophically shaken, and flipped right back to the beginning again. If there's one book you should try from this list, this is it. Especially if you like perfume.

The rest of the shortlist I would not back FOR REASONS:

Deborah Levy, Swimming Home -- this straddled Rachel Joyce's Harold Fry and Moore's Lighthouse and for me; while it highlighted the creaking of the plot and slightly hollow overreaching in the former, it was just totally outclassed by the latter, appearing slight and conventional in its turn. I did find all three about equally (and surprisingly) easy and pleasurable reads -- totally not taking 'difficulty' as a guarantee of depth here.

Which is why I can't really drivel about the current frontrunner, Will Self's Umbrella, the only book on this list I didn't finish. Because copious amounts of alcohol and a new lipstick were required to bribe me through the first 100 and the last 3 pages [personal rule] of this naked-imperial bollocks. At least I have a topical new example of 'not a book to be lightly tossed aside but flung with great force' (preferably via canon at end of ten-foot bargepole, aimed at deepest darkest crevasse on earth).

Jeet Thayil, Narcopolis -- a technically brilliant writing exercise (first novel from a poet), which is as much its weakness as strength for me -- too composed. Still worth it for the ride, even if heady hallucinatory underbelly trips aren't usually up your literary alley.

Tan Twan Eng, The Garden of Evening Mists was probably my biggest disappointment. I mean, I knew I hated Will Self going in, but I had heard such brilliant things about this writer and this book's setting (WWII to present day Malaya) and themes come only second to Thomas Cromwell in closeness to my heart. The contents are fascinating -- I've already recommended it to a few poco friends who've enjoyed it far more than I did; for most readers of this blog I think the diversions into the aesthetic discourses of Japanese gardens and tattooing would be v. appealing -- they were by far my favourite aspects of this book too. Sadly, the prose. It is clunky. Clunky like BL Gobsmacked is gloopy and Illamasqua powders are powdery: at times the tone-deafness achieves a kind of awe-inspiring platonic quintessence of clunk.

Rest of the longlisted-onlies: 

Michael Frayn, Skios -- because I'm a tricksy fox like that, here's a writer, a genre (farce) and settings (Greece, cultural institutions) I love....and a resounding meh of a book. There are mistaken identities and bed tricks and a plot that runs entirely on bad puns and two twin cab drivers called Spiros and Stavros. Sometimes even the lemoniest souffles will fall :(

Rachel Joyce, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry -- as mentioned above, likeable but just too slight, too neat, too Radio 4 (sorry, cheap shot -- and to be fair I can't do my makeup without R4 on). I have a feeling this might appeal to those who liked the concept of J.K. Rowling's Casual Vacancy but found it a bit...unremitting.

André Brink, Philida -- another book I would've read even without the litfic challenge, and would still recommend to most, but with some warnings I wish I'd've been given: while compelling and engaging and with some nice prosing, this is closer to The Help populism than to Coetzee-calibre artistry. And even the witty knitting metaphors (!) couldn't mask the sudden fizzling-out of story towards the end.

Sam Thompson, Communion Town has a totally-my-thing concept and a lot of good, just showoffy enough but not obnoxiouslyWillSelfish prose ventriloquism going on. But it aint no novel, it's most definitely a short story collection. In the longlist it sits closest to The Teleportation Accident, and despite the chaotic exuberance of that, it's Communion Town that left me (me!) calling for a bit more restraint. A bit more selective editing, perhaps? Good lord, this litfic stuff does broaden one's mind. But I maintain that many 'proper' (okay, marketed-as) spec-fic writers have done this kind of thing already, and done it better. In the 15 seconds before the winner announcement: Catherynne Valente, Jeff VanDerMeer, China Miéville, Michael Moorcook, Brian Aldiss....

Yeah, 'in brief' was really stretching it. Cookies for anyone who made it this far :D Have you read any of these or do you plan to? Any recs for more? (I'm about done with the Orange prize longlist now.) Or spiny fish you'd like to slap me with for dissing your homeboy Will. etc.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Saturday Swatchfest: Becca, Bite, YSL

A random grab bag from my recent wanderings around the beauty halls:
1. New Becca Beach Tints
2. Bite Beauty High Pigment Matte Pencils
3. YSL Christmas 2012 Northern Lights Collection

More UK PSAs:

  • Suqqu is offering a base makeup kit with every purchase of foundation until October 28th, which includes a 10g tube of Face Protector SPF50, a 5g pot of Nuancing Loose Powder in Glow and a nice leather/satin pouch.
  • Burberry Lip Velvets (which I'd been anticipating ever since Diabolus in Cosmetica's excellent posts) will be released nationwide on October 14th.
  • Selfridges has testers for the Guerlain Holiday 2012 Liu collection right now; but the Dragon meteorites (both loose and pressed) won't be available for purchase from next week.
  • Chanel Holiday 2012 will be launched on November 4th.
  • On November 7th, we'll be getting seven new shades of Glossy Stain as part of YSL's New Vintage winter collection.
  • Finally, on 3-for-2 in Boots and seriously awesome: Barry M Gelly Hi-Shines (swatches).

On to the swatches!

1. Becca Beach Tints (£20) are some of my favourite multipurpose products. Reliably waterproof yet easily removed, matte without being drying, each tube contains a ridiculously blendable siliconey gel-cream which works beautifully on lips and cheeks. Only caveat: revolting synthetic 'fruity' scents that thankfully do fade soon after application.
The new shades are Lychee (light, bright cool pink), Dragonfruit (vivid pink-red, the best and most pigmented texture of the line) and Papaya (warm mid-tone orange).

Some comparisons with pre-existing Beach Tint shades: Payapa is brighter and more definitely orange than Peach, but warmer and less red than Strawberry. And Lychee is peeeeenk. Sorry, cropping fail.
Becca Beach Tint swatches Papaya Strawberry Peach Lychee
natural light

Lychee is much cooler and brighter than the coral-pink Guava, and less pastel (has less white pigment). Raspberry is cooler still, but in a more muted way. Watermelon is a much softer pink-red to Dragonfruit's brighter red-pink. See how warm Papaya looks grouped with this batch?
Becca Beach Tint swatches Guava Raspberry Watermelon Papaya Lychee Dragonfruit
natural light
My counter did not have testers for Fig (browned nude) or Grapefruit (muted light warm peach).

2. Bite Beauty High Pigment Matte Pencils (£24) are twist-up lipsticks in chubby pencil form. They are high-pigment but aren't particularly matte, more of a satin-cream finish, and are very comfortable to wear, even on my dry lips. The darker and brighter colours last for hours and fade evenly into a good stain after a heavy meal.
Their display in Selfridges' new beauty workshop doesn't have all the shades currently listed on Sephora (for $24 I might add) but here are the ones I caught (one swipe each):
BITE high pigment matte lip pencil swatches Tannin, Bramble, Pomegranate, Amarone, Grapevine, Zinfandel, Velvet, Madeira and Rhubarb
natural light, shade (they retain a bit of sheeniness even so)
Tannin, Bramble, Pomegranate, Amarone, Grapevine, Zinfandel, Velvet, Madeira and Rhubarb

PS here's a picture from April I took for a friend and never meant to blog, but then I realised it's the only picture of Pomegranate I have to hand. A rare example of me doing the bare-face-red-lips thing (so unbalanced, so American-Francophile cliché, so myfaceissopinkack! >.< Please to scroll past like the wind.)
yeah, I still curled my lashes :P Complex Standards, I haz.

3. YSL Northern Lights Collection is one of the first Christmas releases to hit our shores and if this is a harbinger of things to come, my finances are in serious trouble... I admit to having a bit of a thing for Aurora-themed makeup-themed makeup but GUYS. These pigments. They are so complex I don't even.
Swatches made with fingertips, patted on dry. 
natural light + sun
ditto, deliberate fuzziness
#07 Eyeliner Effet Faux Cils Etoile Dorée (limited edition) is a smooth metallic ochre. As with all these liners, flawless pigmentation and texture. This swatch wouldn't smear or flake even after a good scrubbing with a makeup remover wipe, but came off easily with cleansing oil.

#12 Pure Chromatics quad (permanent) is a stunning neutral/smokey palette with a kick. In particular, I love the red duochrome running through the charcoal satin (leftmost shade) and the complex sparkly champagne taupe (third from left).

Nuit Artique is a limited edition Pure Chromatics quad (these are designed to be used wet and dry) and the standout for me is the leftmost metallic burgundy scattered with blue glitter, nestled among three gradational blue sparkles. I LOVE red-blue combinations and was sorely tempted by this. The dud in the palette is the cornflower (far right) which had a tendency to shed its gritty silver dandruff.

Barely visible on the bottom left is the limited edition Boréal highlighter compact, Lumière Polaire, which reads as a hint of pink iridescence on my skin, without visible shimmer.

I womanfully braved the melon stench of the two limited edition Golden Glosses, #55 Bleu Artique (palest yellow base with larger blue and smaller green sparkles) and #56 Rose Polaire (milky pink base with larger purple and smaller gold and green sparkles).

There is one more limited edition standout of this collection, and that's the delicate nail polish topcoat in 33 Première Neige. Of which more later, as (ahem) it seems to be twinkling at me from my desk right now.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Butter London Gobsmacked

Butter London make my holy grail basecoat as well as some of my very favourite nail polishes. I would find it painful to compile a top ten polish list without Disco Biscuit, Tart with a Heart, Yummy Mummy and Wallis.

Sadly, formulas vary* and Gobsmacked, new for autumn, will not be joining them. This gorgeous shade of rained-on asphalt, this rare pigmented-but-neither-flat-nor-frosty glitter suspension, this complex but de-grittified-with-one-thin-layer-of-topcoat a gloopy mess. I've thinned it twice in as many weeks and am coming to realise it's a losing battle against epic, epic proportions -- we're talking forces of entropy aligned in shining array with alien invaders from planet mucilaginous molasses etc. here -- of glutinosity.

Sigh. Two coats, sandwiched between Butter London base and top. Freakishly bright sunlight.
as you can see, the art of filing is still a mystery to me....

Much more colour-accurate comparison, to illustrate how perfectly this filled a niche in my wardrobe D:
 two coats each of: Suqqu EX-10 // OPI My Private Jet // Butter London Gobsmacked // and The Black Knight 

So this is less a review than a plea for help: any dupes for this magical syrup of sparklies? It's been out for weeks out -- that's generations in nail terms surely?

*Other BL shades that sucked on me: Knackered (sheer and streaky), Marrow and Macbeth (gloopy, too thick, never dried), Rosie Lee (five coats and still VNL? DNW. Also chipped as soon as I looked at it).

BL shade that kind of sucks formula-wise but I forgive all because it's so pretty: No More Waity, Katie.

Bonus BL thing that sucked for me: ordering through their website. Two weeks for a shipping confirmation? Two MONTHS and ten international phonecalls (ceased counting emails long ago) to get a human and secure a refund for the missing items in my order?

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Rouge Bunny Rouge Matte Eyeshadows

Since my last big RBR round-up, I've managed to collect the full set of these gloriously creamy matte shadows (still my very favourite formula) so here they are, all together:

Rouge Bunny Rouge RBR matte eyeshadow swatches Blackpepper Jay Grey Go-Away Lourie Chestnut-Napped Apalis Sweet Dust Seriema Bashful Flamingo Papyrus Canary
natural light (shade)
Rouge Bunny Rouge RBR matte eyeshadow swatches Blackpepper Jay Grey Go-Away Lourie Chestnut-Napped Apalis Sweet Dust Seriema Bashful Flamingo Papyrus Canary
with flash -- these aren't quite dead-flat mattes
From left to right (dark to light):
Blackpepper Jay
Grey Go-Away Lourie
Chestnut-Napped Apalis
Sweet Dust Seriema
Bashful Flamingo
Papyrus Canary

All swatches are one swipe with a sponge applicator on my bare (moisturised) arm, which is much paler than a MAC 15 depth. Bashful Flamingo and Papyrus Canary I would eyeball as around NW and NC15 respectively.

Rouge Bunny Rouge shadows are made in Italy. Each of my shadows were 2.4g, but I believe RBR are currently changing all their shadows to 2g versions in smaller (MAC-sized) pans.

RBR is sold at Zuneta and Beautyhabit online; currently they only have brick&mortar counters in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

(My wordless is not everybody's wordless.)

Monday, 8 October 2012

Addiction Arabian Nights Kohl Eyeliner

This autumn, Addiction's "Desert Rose" collection introduced four new permanent powder kohl eyeliners to the range. Each kohl comes as a split-pan duo and shares the dimensions of the other single eyeshadows; they also depot just as easily and fit perfectly into the Addiction custom compacts.

I chose Arabian Nights, which pairs rich burgundy with copper-sparkled black.
Addiction Arabian Nights Kohl Eyeliner

I did experience some learning curve wobbles with this formula, which is so densely, creamily pigmented that the minutest speck of fallout would suddenly mainfest as a huge black or burgundy schmear across my cheek just as I was about to head out the door.... Having rotated through all my liner brushes, I find this kohl to play best with a dense small brush, neither too pointy (e.g. Hakuhodo 007) nor too thin (e.g. MAC 266, Shu 6OB): the most convenient for me were the Chikuhodo 6-1, Hakuhodo 5515 and my two most versatile brushes Shu Natural 10 and Suqqu Eyeshadow S. The other big thing that minimised fallout on the skin (and unsightly gouges in the pan): light pressing motions, both to pick up colour from the pan (seriously, you barely need to hover over these to pick up a lot of pigment) and to apply it to the eye.
These look and behave much more like cream liners than powders, so are more readily smudged than blended out. Like the best creams and gels, they last all day without fading or creasing on me (dry lids) and also hold up excellently on the waterline.

Addiction Arabian Nights Kohl Eyeliner swatch
natural light
Addiction Arabian Nights Kohl Eyeliner swatch
with flash
The burgundy is a sumptuous glowing satin, which looks more reddish in brighter light (picking up its ultrafine copper pearl) and more plummy in shade (even in the pan, there's a subtle interleaving of grey-purple tones with the richer wine ones).
The black is a little disappointing, as the copper sparkles (while individually larger than the micro-pearlescence running through the burgundy) are so sparse that a fine line pretty much just reads as black on me. It's admitted a good black with unusual density and a hint of sooty warmth. But me. want. glitter. D:

Like Fyrinnae Pumpkinfire. Now that's a black with copper sparkle, dammit! Other shades all Fyrinnae: Dorian Grey (which is about as sparsely shimmery as Arabian Nights, but with cooler-toned sparkle in a cooler base) and Monarch Butterfly, a much more texturally flat (iridescent duochrome) take on the black/copper thing.
Addiction Arabian Nights Kohl Eyeliner swatch Fyrinnae Dorian Grey Pumpkinfire Monarch Butterfly
with flash
The Arabian Nights burgundy is pretty distinct from most of the other vaguely related shades in my stash, except for the limited-edition Kate Super Sharp Liner S in RD-1 (which was a pitch-perfect gift from the lovely Liz of SoLonelyInGorgeous: thank you, dearest! <3 I had given up hope of getting my hands on this one.) 
Other shades: Addiction Lady of the Lake pencil, Estee Lauder Vintage Violet cream shadow, Chanel Ebloui Illusion D'Ombre, and finally Solone Smoody Gel Liner Red Wine.
Addiction Arabian Nights Kohl Eyeliner swatch Lady of the Lake Pencil Estee Lauder Vintage Violet Chanel Ebloui Solone Smoody Gel Liner Red Wine

Looks with Arabian Nights
One Thousand Three And One of them! (That's four for anyone who went cross-eyed there.)
Throughout: Fasio Ultra Curl Lock Volume mascara, Browlash EX Pencil in Natural Brown through brows, Burberry Sheer Concealer 01 under eyes, Becca Compact Concealer Meringue on blemishes.

1. Super Natural 
Black side of kohl on a pencil brush (Hakuhodo 5515) softly smudged along upper lashline and the inner and outer corners of the lower lashline. Rouge Bunny Rouge Alabaster Starling as a centre-of-lower-lashline highlight.

Even MOAR highlighting, with Rouge Bunny Rouge Sea of Clouds and Shiseido High Beam White. Subtlest touch of RBR Delicata blush on edge of cheekbones. Addiction Day Trip sheer lipstick, built up.
this is me realising my 'glowy' may read as 'too much' / 'visible from space' / 'I'm bliiiiiiind' to most 

2. Brainless Smokey
Black side only, to line upper and lower lashlines (Suqqu S) as well as waterlines (Chikuhodo 6-1), smudged out with Addiction Concrete Jungle for a one-minute smokey eye.

Armani Maestro Foundation 2, with Addiction Faithful on lips and RBR Gracilis on cheeks.

3. Tonal Copper
The burgundy side on a Hakuhodo 5515 brush to line upper lashline paired with the peach and bronze shades from Suqqu Kakitsubata. Black side with Chikhodo 6-1 to line waterline and lower lashline, smudged out with the rest of the burgundy left on my 5515.

Rouge Bunny Rouge liquid bronzer all over to make the coppery shades harmonise better with my skin, Shiseido High Beam White to highlight centre of face. A sheer (one swipe) application of Addiction Day Trip lipstick (cf. Look 1 above), with more of my naturally pink lips showing through.
another one of those days I spend too long on makeup/pictures and have to run out with wet hair 

4. Both sides! with bells on. 
Burgundy worn as eyeshadow on Shu Natural 10, heaviest in outer V and blended inwards to meet Addiction Flashback on lid and in socket. Black side on Chikuhodo 6-1 to line upper lashline and waterline, with burgundy on Shu 6OB lining the lower lashline to the inner corner.

I said bells, okay? Addiction Blue Moon patted onto centre of lid and inner corner to play up the plum aspect of the burgundy kohl.

I rolled with the cool tones, with Addiction Amazing Cheek Stick on cheeks and Psychadelic gloss sheerly on lips, and Shu Uemura Nobara 584 for base.

Addiction Kohl Eyeliners are made in Japan and retail for ¥2625 each.
For even more info, hop over to Rouge Deluxe for a review/swatches of Night Dive and Secret Nights and to Makeup and Things for a picture of all four kohls together.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Precision Instruments

I favour precise tools. Usually this means small, and almost always directional, both to suit my features, which are small but defined (i.e. lots of protrudey bits and sunken-in bits) and, more importantly, to complement how I like to apply and wear my makeup.

Of course, there being no justice no justice at all in the world, sometimes even a small, directional brush in an exquisite hair type just...won't work. As I'm in full autumn clean mode (back-to-schoolism?), this post will be consist of much typing out loud to sort out some of the whys and wherefores of a few recent delights and disappointments.

Delight: Hakuhodo 5515 (G5515BkSL for $15)
This tiny pencil brush is a perfectly formed miniature of the MAC 219 -- its horse hair actually feels softer than MAC's goat and the shorter hairs maintain their tapered shape better, making it feel denser and work more precisely. The 5515 handles every formula I've thrown at it, from cream and powder shadows (used dry or foiled) to kohl and gel liners, and it even does a great job of smudging out liquids. It's both precise enough to line with (even tightline with), and has enough body to smudge with.
1. Real Techniques Pixel-Point Eyeliner Brush (synthetic, from the Starter Set)
2. Hakuhodo 5531 (synthetic)
*3. Hakuhodo 5515 (pony)
4. No 7 Smokey Eyeliner Brush
5. Laura Mercier Smoky Eyeliner Brush (synthetic)
6. MAC 219 (goat)
7. Suqqu Eyeshadow S (grey squirrel, discontinued)
The Hakuhodo 5515 is smaller than every other pencil brush in my collection, and its tip is even finer than the brushes to its left which are marketed as eyeliners (which, precision freak that I am, I use for spot concealing instead).

Chikuhodo Artist 6-6 (¥2520 for long or short handle) 
Hakuhodo 127 (B127BkSL for $33 or S127 for $51)
Neither of these brushes worked for me, for the same reason: a mismatch between shape/size and hair type (Canadian squirrel). They share a slightly tapered paddle shape, which is, along with the pencil, my favourite shape for eyeshadow brushes. 
1. Chikuhodo Artist 8-1 (kolinsky)
*2. Chikuhodo Artist 6-6 (Canadian squirrel)
*3. Hakuhodo 127 (Canadian squirrel)
4. Shu Uemura Natural 10 (kolinsky and sable)
Canadian squirrel lacks the body and snap of kolinsky/sable which makes the middle two brushes far less effective at lay-down. Each squirrel hair is also much finer and more naturally tapered which results in a thinner and less fluffy brush tip, so the sable brushes also win out for blending -- the reason I love this shape so much is because I can both pack on colour and blend it out with the kolinsky versions, used alternately on their sides and tips.

My most-loved blending brushes are squirrel hair [hence the logic behind my original purchase] but they are much more rounded and precise, which prevents the softness of the hair from becoming a floppy liability.
1. MAC 286 (the only synthetic in the bunch, but to illustrate my consistent preference in blender brush shapes)
2. Stila 9 (old blue squirrel version; current version is goat)
3. Suqqu Eyeshadow L (grey squirrel)
*4. Hakuhodo 127 (Canadian squirrel)
*5. Chikuhodo Artist 6-6 (Canadian squirrel)
6. Nars 12 (squirrel)

Hakuhodo 5512 (G5512BkSL for $15)
Hakuhodo 521-D1 (G521 D1 for $20)
Before acquiring these two brushes I hardly ever tightlined, even though its benefits are ones that really do appeal to me: the appearance of thicker and longer lashes with just a few squiggles of an intriguingly gimmicky brush? Why won't you let me love you as I know I can? As it turns out, I just needed to go even gimmickier with the brush to fully appreciate the wonders of the technique....
1. MAC 231 (synthetic)
2. Chikuhodo Artist 6-1 (kolinsky)
*3. Hakuhodo 5512 (pony)
*4. Hakuhodo 521-D1 (weasel)
5. Laura Mercier Flat Eyeliner (synthetic)
6. Stila 13 One-Step Eyeliner (synthetic)

Compared to conventional tightlining brushes (especially 5 Laura Mercier's most famous rendition), the Hakuhodo precision instruments are, at a fraction of the length and width, and in ultra-short dense natural hairs, far more precise. My eyes are small but my lashline is quite curved so the wider, totally flat brushes tend to stamp awkward too-long, too-straight lines which look like makeup -- missing the very point of tightlining, invisible augmentation. And with a thin line of longish synthetic hairs, I find both the Laura Mercier and Stila versions unweildily floppy when trying to do the textbook 'wriggle in between the lashes' manoeuvre.
The curved push brushes (1 and 2) which I love for regular eyelining would be a workable size and length but their fluffiness (which stops liner from being too harsh) makes them too thick for tightlining -- at which the Hakuhodo 5512, a scaled-down version of the same shape, excels. But it's the 521-D1, with its concave curve -- it pushes colour right into the curve of my lashes by itself -- which really has me bewitchedbotheredandbewildered tightlining on the regular.

Obsolescence: Hakuhodo S116 Highlight Brush Round and Flat ($78 here)
Technically not really a disappointment -- I originally bought this ridiculously airy blue squirrel paddle to tap/sweep on soft blushes in soft Jung Saem Mool style placements (while humming her plinkyplonk music), and it worked perfectly well for that. Since ruthlessly editing my blush wardrobe this year to focus on creams and pigmented powders, I realised I kept passing over this in favour of more rounded brushes with greater bounce.
1. Illamasqua Highlighter (synthetic)
2. Chikuhodo Z-2 (grey squirrel)
*3. Hakuhodo S116 (blue squirrel)
4. Suqqu Cheek (grey squirrel)

In particular, the Suqqu Cheek is my go-to for powder blushes, and the Illamasqua Highlighter for creams. But it's really the ridiculously versatile tapered candle shape and perfectly balanced grey squirrel hairs of the Chikuhodo Z-2, which can mimic the placement of a slim flat brush as well as a dense round one depending on the angle at which you use it, which finally convinced me to say goodbye to the S116.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Mascara Review: Fasio Ultra Curl Lock Volume BK001

In short: the neater and more intense but just as hard to remove version of Majolica Majorca Lash Expander Frame Plus.

Yeah, those kooky Japanese companies and their polysyllabic mascara names, eh? After trying dozens over the years my eyes automatically skate over them looking for my personal mascara keywords -- and were recently arrested by this offering from Kosé drugstore offshoot Fasio: Ultra Curl Lock Volume.

My lashes: very straight and quite long; each individual lash is fine but there are quite a lot of them
Mascara requirements, in order of importance:

  2. Volume
  3. No flaking into my easily irritated contacts-wearing eyes
  4. Black (no wishy washy grey or potential pink-eye brown tones)

The combination of 1. and 2. seems to be the sticking point -- I've lost count of the number of mascaras which either volumise but weigh down my lashes OR hold a curl all day but make my lashes look spindly and spidery and generally spoiled.

Since the reformulation/suckification of my old favourite Majolica Majorca Lash Enamel Glamour, the best compromise formulas I've found are:

  • Majolica Majorca Lash Expander Frame Plus -- not enough volume, too many fibres, requires a separate remover.
  • Lancôme Hypnôse Drama Waterproof -- formula is a bit too wet and can clump upon layering, so takes longer to apply and often requires some cleanup with a lashcomb. If I rub my watering eyes a lot throughout the day I can end up with a little bit of darkness at the outer edge of my lower lashline.

Fasio Ultra Curl Lock Volume Mascara is a compromise within a compromise, offering more volume and 'oomph' than Majolica Majorca while giving more definition than Lancôme, as well as being more tenacious and quicker to apply -- after the usual teething period, harhar, of learning to work with a new applicator. TIP: with comb mascaras, it's best not to wriggle the wand and just brush through from lash root to tip working from the outside of the eye inwards. A mascara guard / curved bit of cardboard held against the lid can prevent smudges.

The sleek gunmetal tube clicks shut and is effectively airtight, ensuring that the formula stayed consistent over two months of daily use.

Wand comparisons
Fasio and Lancôme applicators are larger and have gentler curves than Majo Majo; they are also longer from tip to handle.
Fasio and Majo Majo are plastic combs, while Lancôme is a bristle brush.

Wands close up
The Lancôme brush comes out of the tube coated with the most product; Fasio and Majo Majo are about equal, but the product is more evenly distributed along the Fasio wand.
The teeth of of Fasio's combs are much more finely spaced than Majo Majo's; it is easier to achieve separation and definition of each lash with Fasio. Sometimes Majo Majo can clump lashes together into two's or three's after a second coat.
Majo Majo's formula has fibres; the other two do not.

Lashes curled with Chanel lash curler
One coat of Fasio Ultra Curl Lock Volume Mascara BK001 (top lashes only) 
And that's how my lashes look until I take it off -- my testing has only gone up to 24 hours as I am no longer a wild young thing, just a highly disorganised-with-deadlines youngish thing but I don't doubt it would last for days if necessary....
I would prefer more volume but this is really pretty good for an Asian mascara -- and a step up from Majolica Majorca, which I'd been happily using for years. This Fasio formula is a little wetter and lacks fibres, which makes for smoother, neater application, and also doesn't set quite as 'crunchy' as the Majo Majo. The finer wand/neater formula even works well on lower lashes.

As with Majo Majo, and unlike Western waterproof formulas, I do need to use a separate Japanese mascara remover [old standby Kiss Me Heroine Make] as a pre-cleanse step to get this Fasio mascara off without losing lashes or half an hour of my life.

Fasio Ultra Curl Lock Volume mascara retails for ¥1260 in Japan; I ordered it from adambeauty for $15.50, and have repurchased since.