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Sunday, 25 November 2012

Skincare: Body

As with my facial skincare [main and supplementary routines], the goal is to keep my naturally very dry skin moisturised without irritation, an especially tricky proposal in winter, so that I can then forget about it and use my hands for other things than scratching myself to death.


CLEANSE
A soap-free, non-drying body wash makes a huge difference to how comfortable my skin feels -- I've learned through experience that even the richest moisturisers afterwards can't compensate for a harsh cleanser. La Roche-Posay Lipikar Surgras [ingredients] is my current favourite; for summer / humid climates / active bouts of eczema or irritation, I switch over to the lighter Lipikar Syndet [ingredients]. Please note that both of these shower gels contain niacinamide, sodium laureth sulfate, and Surgras also contains fragrance. If you dislike products which leave a slight 'film' on the skin, avoid Surgras.
Scrubs can be tricky for delicate skin, but the Haus of Gloi Soft Bubbling Scrubs are a good balance of effective and gentle for me -- the sugars dissolve quickly enough into a light, clean-rinsing foam that even a bout of overenthusiastic buffing [me + sugar + bubbles = enthusiasm an ever-present danger....] won't leave skin red or chapped. The dinky 2oz. sample sizes are a perfect way to experiment with the plethora of HoG scents on offer, and each $3.50 tub, used once weekly, lasts me a full month.
Haus of Gloi Honeysuckle Lemon Curd Soft Bubbling Scrub ingredients 
If a slightly stronger exfoliant is needed for elbows, knees and arse, I reach for FuturePrimitive Soap Co. Bubbling Sugar Scrubs, which are a bit more scrubby and a bit less foamy than the Haus of Gloi Bubbling ones, but which are gentler than the Haus Emulsifying Scrubs. The Future Primitive scrubs also rinse clean, and their scents tend to suit my olfactory preferences more (and layer better with my perfumes) than the foodier Haus of Gloi offerings; being a UK indie brand, there is quicker/cheaper shipping to enjoy as well.
FuturePrimitive Soap Co. Urchin Girl Bubbling Sugar Scrub ingredients 
As a general rule of thumb for dry, sensitive skin, keep your showers short and not too hot, and shower in the evening so that your skin can dry properly and absorb any moisturisers before being exposed to cold winter air.


MOISTURISE
But with my holy grail moisturiser, I just have to shut up and cough up the price of international shipping every few months. Having tried every readily available option, and many an indie one besides, Haus of Gloi Pumpkin Butters remain the best at keeping my skin soft, comfortable and eczema-free. While not the thickest or most emollient, they are definitely the most efficient body butters I've tried, and the gorgeous 'whipped' texture is light enough to smooth with no effort in no time at all (no boring 'warming between hands' or 'rubbing' or other esoteric and faintly kinky speshul application skillz required), and sinks in immediately even in a humid Hong Kong summer.
Haus of Gloi Aether Pumpkin Butter ingredients
Never a fan of gourmand scents, most of the Haus flavours are far too sweet for me (the scents I can enjoy in a scrub are magnified in pumpkin butter form), so my usual seasonal order (a 6 oz. jar lasts me a month) consists of two tubs of the unscented Aether and one other for variety. Apothecary (shown here) is mostly lemongrass on a faintly woody-herbaceous base, and my other favourite from the permanent line; noses being subjective, this light citrus might smell more 'neutral' to some than Aether, with its untempered shea/pumpkin/coconut components.
For enquiring minds, the limited edition seasonal scents I do like and repurchase: Three Treasures, Snow Wolf and Plotter's Breakfast (Yule), Samhain (Fall) and Something Hopeful (Valentine's, sometimes -- I hope they bring this back next year).


HANDS AND FEET
...don't necessarily require special / additional products, so listen to your own skin. Since I have Raynaud's (which affects extremities), do a lot with my hands and walk everywhere, separate products do help. Herby Crabtree & Evelyn Gardeners Hand Recovery (a coarse-grained salt scrub which leaves palms and cuticles soft and coated in oils -- I wouldn't use this on the thin skin on the backs of hands) and Hand Therapy (a matte, instantly absorbed but effective moisturiser) have been staples for years. I use the scrub once a week and keeps tubs of the cream everywhere -- I can get on with whatever I want to do immediately after application without leaving sticky, greasy handmarks.
In my bag, a rotation of travel-sized Japanese drugstore handcreams -- currently Shiseido Hand Cream -- which are usually scent-free, quickly absorbed to wear under gloves and carefully packaged never to explode/spill all over the rest of the stuff I tote around.
CCS Heel Balm contains 20% urea, higher than most UK drugstore offerings, and slathered overnight over feet (optionally topped with cotton socks) helps to keep them soft and prevent cracks.


EMERGENCIES
I was prescribed both of these basic treatment creams by doctors: Womnale DX II is a healing Japanese drugstore 20%-urea-and-hyaluronic acid mix (miraculously elegant texture for a urea cream and never stings), while Diprobase is a barrier-forming paraffin ointment, cheap as chips in the UK. All the blather above ensures that I rarely suffer from eczema / chilblains / cracked and chafed skin any more, but I still keep these around as insurance: a quick slather when early warning signs of sore skin manifest usually nips things in the bud.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Vapour Organic Beauty Swatches, Review and Look

Vapour Organic Beauty is a green brand (cruelty-free, certified organic ingredients, minimal recycled and recyclable packaging) which has been garnering raves for the past few years, mostly for base makeup. What made me sit up and take interest quite recently was the introduction of new, extra-pale shades of foundation and concealer to the lineup, as well as a more pigmented lip/cheek cream formula (Aura Stain) -- their earlier ranges seemed a bit too tasteful for me ;D

My nascent stash: Aura Multi-Use Blush Stain in 209 Impulse, Illusionist Concealer in 000 and Atmosphere Luminous Foundation in 090. In the UK, Content stocks a smaller selection of Vapour products, at the usual high post-import British prices (£20 for the concealer vs. $22). I acquired my products from Spiritbeautylounge via American friends. Mentioning this now to establish that I'm judging these products based on their more reasonable US prices.

Nitpicky aesthetes might be annoyed by the difference in packaging between these different products -- it's not just a colour/looks thing either, the stick foundation tube (right) is flimsy plastic while the concealer (middle) is much heftier and sleeker, with the stain (left) somewhere in between. Picky noses should be aware: these are unscented, which is not the same as scent-free; they have a definite, lingering nutty/waxy scent, from the ingredients used.


On to the products!

ATMOSPHERE LUMINOUS FOUNDATION
A solid, almost balm-like cream in stick form, which offers medium coverage but can be sheered out to light. Less emollient and not quite as easily spreadable than RMS Beauty 'Un' Cover-Up, it is however a very comfortable formula on my dry skin, and I think its more cosmetically elegant lustrous skinlike finish would appeal to a wider range of skintypes than RMS's unctuous...unguent (which even I would reserve for deep winter).
Having tried all my brushes and sponges, I find the heat from fingers really does help to meld this formula into my skin; as a final step, a damp Beautyblender sponge patted all over the face will take off any excess, sheer out the coverage further and blend this into the persnickity invisible-to-me standards to which I hold all bases.

Before&After
Currently main skin concerns are just dullness and unevenness -- both sallow and red tones courtesy of ravages of central heating / bouts of cold. There's a hint of a pimple between my eyebrows which I was carefully cultivating last week, thus delaying this review... but it ended up going away on its own :/ Sorry about that. 
Face bare of makeup but with usual layers of skincare -- any 'glow' you see in this picture would fade within 30 minutes without help from makeup.

One layer of Atmosphere Luminous Foundation 090 smoothed out with fingers evens out my skin and adds enough of a glow that highlighter becomes optional.

After damp Beautyblender bouncing and 5 minutes to 'set', the initial glow settles into a softly lustrous, step-up-from-satin finish, which stays put all day on me without the need for setting, neither fading back into matte dullness nor transferring.

In conclusion: a comfortable, clean, no-frills (or water!) formula which hasn't dried or irritated my skin over a month's use despite the inclusion of silica in the ingredients list. It's the perfect level of coverage to even the skin out without making me look unreasonably polished, which is exactly what I want from a base most days. Alone, this doesn't work concealing magic on skin texture or pores the way excellent Japanese formulations do (can't hold a candle to Shu Uemura's Nobara stick*, for example), but it neither emphasises nor exacerbates any fine lines or flakes, and has become my go-to, everyday foundation, requiring neither priming nor setting.

*too dark and too dry for me for most of the year :(


ILLUSIONIST CONCEALER
This feels like a much more expensive product than the Atmosphere Luminous Foundation (and it is, at 3.3ml for $22 vs 9.63g for $34), but was less successful for me. While feeling more creamily, smoothly blendable than the foundation, and running paler too, it is sheer -- too sheer for blemishes and the wrong tone for my undereye circles.

Before: the pimple by my eyebrow I was cultivating for this review would not cooperate, but anyway... *tiny violins* wearing the Vapour foundation only [see what I mean about no magic on pores? :(] and have waywardly curled lashes. 

After two very heavy layers of concealer -- seriously, this stick would last a month if used this profligately.

Again, a very comfortable texture which doesn't really exacerbate textural issues such as chicken-skin bumps under eyes or dryness at the outer corner. It does however bring out a little extra flake around my healing spot (it is tiny and you may need to click to enlarge :P) without really mitigating the redness. As an undereye concealer, it is too pale -- I prefer to go a shade darker and pinker for better correction and to mimic natural dimension -- and too sheer even to cope with my circles on a good day.

In conclusion: nice texture but far too sheer.


COMPARISON SWATCHES: Foundation and Concealer
foundation swatches Illamasqua Skin Base 02 Laura Mercier Silk Creme Soft Ivory Shu Uemura Nobara stick 584 Vapour Atmosphere Luminous Foundation 090 Vapour Illusionist Concealer 000 Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer SX-01 RMS Beauty 'Un' Cover-Up 11
Illamasqua Skin Base 02
Laura Mercier Silk Creme Soft Ivory
Shu Uemura Nobara stick 584
Vapour Atmosphere Luminous Foundation 090
Vapour Illusionist Concealer 000
Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer SX-01
RMS Beauty 'Un' Cover-Up 11

foundation swatches Graftobian HD Glamour Creme Lady Fair Shu Uemura Nobara stick 584 Vapour Atmosphere Luminous Foundation 090 Becca Compact Concealer Meringue (both sides) Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer SX-02 Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer SX-01 Laura Mercier Silk Creme Soft Ivory
Graftobian HD Glamour Creme Lady Fair
Shu Uemura Nobara stick 584
Vapour Atmosphere Luminous Foundation 090
Becca Compact Concealer Meringue (both sides)
Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer SX-02
Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer SX-01
Laura Mercier Silk Creme Soft Ivory


Apologies for the random, slightly repetitive nature of these -- they were made upon makeupalleyer requests. It shows that these Vapour shades are genuinely pale, landing towards the light end of my personal base wardrobe (the darkest of which, Laura Mercier Soft Ivory, is still a step paler than MAC NC15).


AURA MULTI-USE BLUSH STAIN
An intensely pigmented, blendable, glowy formula (a v. generous 10g for $25) in a perfectly pitched true, bright red. I like my red blush clownish, especially in winter, but it can most definitely be sheered out for a barely-there healthy glow -- its unusual brightness coupled with a lack of pink tones makes Impulse a flattering choice for those of us who naturally blush a fevered cool red, especially in cold air.
Again, despite containing silica, this stain doesn't dry my cheeks out, perhaps because the Vapour base of waxes and oils act as enough of a buffer. Having tested it on some obliging oily-skinned friends, I can report that it lasted without fading all day on them, either. While marketed as multi-use, the texture and oily/nutty/waxy scent made it a bit unpleasant for me to wear on lips.

Swatches are applied with fingers, and semi-blended (not at full opacity, but nor sheered out either); picture in natural sunlight! Remember that?
blush swatches Rouge Bunny Rouge Florita  Jouer Dahlia tint Besame Crimson Cream Rouge Vapour Aura Stain Impulse RMS Beauty lip2cheek Modest Addiction Revenge Cheek Stick
Rouge Bunny Rouge Florita -- the only powder here, and closest to but more muted than Impulse
Jouer Dahlia tint
Besame Crimson Cream Rouge
Vapour Aura Stain Impulse
RMS Beauty lip2cheek Modest
Addiction Revenge Cheek Stick
(more red blush swatches here)

In conclusion: made of win. I'm contemplating the other three shades.


Vaporous Look, ho ho
Inspired by:

How could I resist the impulse to show off these products with this faded out placement?
BASE Atmosphere Luminous Foundation 090, Illusionist Concealer 000. Shu Uemura Seal Brown brow pencil.
BLUSH Aura Stain Impulse
LIP Aura Stain Impulse blended out with Illusionist Concealer 000


swatches Aura Multi-Use Blush Stain in 209 Impulse, Illusionist Concealer in 000 and Atmosphere Luminous Foundation in 090

EYE Shu Uemura M White 907, Fyrinnae Candy Coated as main colour with Purgatory to darken lashline. GOSH white kohl and Max Factor False Lash Effect 24 Hour mascara.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Fyrinnae Week: Midweek Tonal

Typically for me, by midweek Shiny New Creative Project has devolved into a mini (or maybe a meta) rut of its own. My brain it is lazy, my bed it is comfy.

Disclaimers from Part 1 apply. Unless otherwise specified, all pictures are taken in natural light (which has been variable but mostly terrible this week), and no base was used unless otherwise specified.
No swatches today -- I'm going to do a big Fyrinnae swatchathon post soon :)


TUESDAY
EYE Tarnished cool gold gradient with (from lightest inner corner to darkest outer): Shinrikou, Sacred, Griffonrider and Newcastle. Outer 2/3 of lashline darkened with Sake & Sashimi.
Pixi Black Tulip pencil on waterline.


CHEEK Sleek Rose Gold
BASE Vapour Atmosphere Luminous Foundation 90 and Illusionist Concealer 000 under eyes

This was work-from-home day so I got to try out a scary new lipstick :D
LIP 1 Rimmel Kate Moss 04 -- I think I needed to go warmer on the eyes to counterbalance this; MUA consensus was that I needed a warmer (and less patchy) lip to go with the eyes. What say you? Option C: Other always welcome. 

LIP 2 Kanebo Media Lip Liner WN-1 (breaking my no-roseberry pledge and craning idiotically for last of the light, sorry)



WEDNESDAY
EYEmess mélange of greens: Eternal Innocence and Boytoy, with blackened sparkle Dokkalfar to line, iridescent sheer Electric Stardust to highlight, and green-flashing-taupe Atomic Afterglow to blend edges. 

LIP Shiseido Lip Lacquer Disco
CHEEK Shiseido Peony (eyeshadow single)
BASE KATE Powderless Liquid BR-C set with Guerlain Meteorites Loose Mythic. Burberry Concealer 01 undereyes.




THURSDAY
EYE As well as killer greens, Fyrinnae make spectacular purples: Herbivore in the middle of the lid, blended out at either corner with Meerkat. Cuddlefish to darken outer v and airy pastel When I Grow Up lightly buffed into the socket. A touch of Freya to darken lashline.
with flash -- horrible light today

LIP mix of YSL Glossy Stains 7 and 15 for a warm coral pink
CHEEK Rouge Bunny Rouge Gracilis
BASE Shu Uemura Pink/Purple UV Underbase Mousse, Vapour Illusionist Concealer 000 under eyes. RBR Sea of Tranquility highlighter.




FRIDAY
EYE As my whining about the crappy lighting/weather may indicate, I am so very over this whole autumn/winter thing now. Summery turquoise/teal eye with Anemone on the lid, Pteradon winged outwards from outer v and Jaguar to line. Bastet as a golden highlight on the inner corner.

LIP Illamasqua Mistress Intense Gloss over YSL Glossy Stain 15.
CHEEK Illamasqua Katie
BASE Shu Uemura Pink/Purple UV Underbase Mousse, Burberry concealer 01 under eyes. Tiny bit of RBR liquid bronzer on high points.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Autumn/Winter 2012 Wardrobe: Knits

Disclaimers: photographing complex yarns is tricky. At least I captured some cool colourshifting effects?
If you want to read up on the yarn I used / modifications I made, all the geeky knitty gritty in fact, my ravelry username is daintypirate. Stop looking at me like that, he's a beloved camp undead character from the children's book I was reading to niecelets when I signed up.


COMPLETED


Shawlette from a glorious skein of vairegated merino, a perfectly judged gift from the classiest of dames [she's going to slap me for that....] which I'm loving -- so much easier to whip on or off than a scarf. Who knew? Much nicer-looking too -- I've never gotten the hang of artfully draping a scarf so that it doesn't resemble/function as a garotte.


Beret (another Rose Red) in angelic unbrushed angora/wool, which has really come into its own since I got my hair chopped off. Seriously, pixification = no more hat hair ever, just chic dishevelment.


Cowl in one of my favourite yarns ever, Rowan Lima (a complex airy-soft heathered braid) in TAUPE. I wear this most often as a vest right now, belted at the waist -- when it gets colder will double it up at the neck for extra smoosh.


Two-Tone Sweater is the most virtuous project (made from navy merino recycled from an old ribbed cardigan) and least successful. This is actually the second rendition, and I'm still not entirely happy with the proportions or details (especially the collar edging, ack! so messy D:) Your sartorial insights would be v. welcome -- mainly styling tips rather than tweaking ones, as this yarn is clearly cursed will disintegrate if I unpick it again.
skirt: Jill Stuart [previously]

Chunky Sweater is an out-of-my-comfort-zone project in super bulky yarn, impulse-bought during the 50% off summer sales, using needles thicker than my index finger :O
An illustration: the needles for the chunky sweater vs. the two-tone sweater vs. the vintage lace sweater I made last season.

And the yarn:

....In conclusion, I should've ventured into Brobdingnagian territory earlier, because this yarn is a dream of a colour-shifting, surprisingly soft, lofty and light...er...delight, which transformed into a so-very-on-trend-sweetiedarling pullover after a mere week.
shirt: COS | skirt: T by Alexander Wang (shown here) | tights: Falke Pure Matte 100 Anthracite 



JUST FINISHED / JURY'S OUT
Cropped, open, textured cardigan in a luscious rose red. :D Sadly the open fronts hang at slightly odd angles, mostly likely due to the changes (numerous, not very well thought out) I made. Practicality may yet win out as I do need a topper for skimpy party dresses, but I am itching to take this apart right now :P
top: COS (shown here) | skirt: MILK (a Japanese brand) | tights: Falke Pure Matte 100 Black 


CURRENTLY
A cabled headband from leftovers from the trimming of the two-toned pullover:



PLANNED
MOAR pullovers! I've been in a cardigan phase for the last couple of years but am now all about the blocky, slightly shortened schoolgirl/boyish pullover now. Clean lines, straight shapes and all that prep.
swatching my new unwittingly Christmassy Brooklyn Tweed Shelter yarns, courtesy of a sexy American