Friday, September 27, 2013

Save or Splurge?

If you've ever wondered if it was worth it to splurge on a new foundation or mascara at the department store, I hope my musings will help a little bit. In my teens and early twenties, I relied on drugstore brands to fill up my makeup case. In my thirties, I've come to have a steady mix of both inexpensive and pricier brands in my stash. So the question, when to spend the money and when to skimp? Here's my take:

Foundation - ultimately, finding the right foundation shade at the drugstore has been the biggest difficulty for me. L'Oreal has tried to institute a system with their True Match line that makes it somewhat easier to figure things out but nothing beats wearing foundation for several days to determine whether or not it's for you. Most department stores offer samples after an associate or makeup artist determines your match. This is something I would definitely take advantage of, especially if gearing up for a special event. Not only will this raise the chances of getting a proper color, but wearing foundation for a few days may help determine any issues with the formula that you may need to address. Assuming the associates know their product well, they could also help you find a formula that suits your skins needs and your lifestyle. So for foundation, I say splurge.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Snapshot September 2013

This is the pared down routine I've employed for the last several months. I had to get off the prescription tretinoin treatment I was on and really keep things simple so I looked at what I had and picked the most basic items that I thought I wanted to incorporate into my face cleansing routine. I grabbed the Pond's facial wash shown here which came with some makeup remover wipes that performed very well, I have to say. The facial wash has the same consistency I remember from years of using older versions when I was much younger and it works well with the Clarisonic too, if I choose to use it with the gadget. I paired this cleanser with the old standard Clinique yellow moisturizer which delivers moisture where needed. Although this does not have any anti-aging or skin renewing properties, I've found it to be quite enough especially since the weather had been pretty warm. It's really a good basic summer moisturizer. I can't wait to try the new and improved version but I haven't yet been able to go through the sample that I've received.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Benefit Watt's Up! Soft Focus Highlighter for Face

As part of Sephora's Beauty Insider rewards program, members receive a gift on their birthday. This year's gift includes two Benefit products, one that I reviewed as part of a mascara feature and the other is the Watt's Up! Soft Focus Highlighter for Face.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

C. O. Bigelow Lip Balms

If you've been following my blog for awhile now, you've probably noticed how much I love lip balm. I have dozens of them and I keep them all over the house. I even have a jar of multi-colored eos balms decorating my living room. Those, I keep there just because they're cute although I do like those balms as well. Out at the outlet one time with my family, my daughter and I ran into a moisture emergency and so we sauntered into the nearest Bath & Body Works to get hand cream and lip balm. Bath & Body Works carries a few lines, not just the ones marketed under their own banner. We purchased True Blue Spa creams for hands and body (we are always on the lookout for fragrance-free hand creams) and a slew of lip balms by C.O. Bigelow.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

L'Oreal True Match LUMI Healthy Luminous Makeup

I've always found L'Oreal foundation to be the easiest foundation to pick out at the drugstore. I like the premise of True Match and the shade selection is probably still the most varied one you can find at that price point. However, based on past experience, I know that True Match is still hit or miss for me. I lean towards N2-W2 but with many of their formulations, they can be a bit too light for me. As it was summer when I bought it, I thought I'd grab the True Match LUMI Healthy Luminous Makeup in N3 Natural Buff. I figured, if it's a little dark, I could just mix in a little tinted moisturizer or a little bit of foundation that's a shade lighter to get it to work better.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Chanel Quadra Eyeshadow in Séduction

Chanel Quadra Eyeshadow in Séduction

Jeux de Regards, the eye collection from Chanel, features two eyeshadow quads, two illusion d'ombre eyeshadows and one new eyeliner. I was originally going to get the eyeliner to add to my collection but at the last minute decided to go for the limited edition Séduction eyeshadow quad instead.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Mascara Quicknotes VI: outrageous volume

For this installment of Mascara Quicknotes, I wanted to feature three department store brand mascaras in a similar price range. These three mascaras turn to their volumizing properties for lash-building while maintaining that lashes will remain separated, free of clumps and flake-free. All three samples I tested come in the shade Black. None are waterproof.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Laura Mercier Kohl Liner Extreme

Laura Mercier Kohl Liner Extreme

I'm not usually into the heavily-kohled look but something about this new, limited edition kohl liner from Laura Mercier had me playing around with the idea. The creamy eyeliner is packaged in a small, lipstick tube-sized container. It's a chubby stick with a pointed tip and requires no sharpening. Confession: I've never bought eyeliner that's packaged this way before so I was a little worried about how I was going to use it. But really, I didn't need to worry. This baby was so easy to use!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Guerlain Lingerie de Peau BB Cream Swatches and New Powder Pics

I have for you today pictures of Guerlain's new BB Cream product, the Lingerie de Peau BB Cream SPF 30. This product has the same concept as pretty much every other BB Cream out in the market. It's a one-step makeup product that evens the skintone while hydrating and remaining lightweight on the skin. Personally, I haven't found a BB Cream that I really liked. If I'm going that route, I much prefer a tinted moisturizer paired with concealer but at the end of the day, I still prefer the coverage of foundation.

I stumbled upon the Guerlain BB Cream on a trip to Sephora and was given samples of the two shades that it came in, light and medium. Already, I hear the warning bells tolling. I'll tell you right now, much like every Guerlain foundation product there is, the shades are so limited. Perhaps they thought, because the product is sheer, they only really needed to make two shades. But if you're really fair or pretty dark, there's nothing for you here.

Left: Light, Right: Medium

I tried putting this product on in the light shade, which was a tad too light for me, and did a quick swatch test of the dark shade which was definitely much too dark for me. I settled on applying the light shade on the areas of my face that I felt needed it. Well, it adhered to dry patches here and there and did not sink in very well. I couldn't stand the way it looked and had to grab a makeup remover wipe to quickly remove it. I was already running late at that point but I would rather go out bare-faced than with it on.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Colour Powder SPF 15

What seemed like just another face powder from Chanel didn't originally spark my interest. Sorry, Gisele isn't one of my favorite faces. What finally brought me around was the big puzzle that seemed to surround the new powder. It seemed to elicit either an 'I love it' or 'I really don't get it' reaction from reviewers. On a whim, I thought, I'll order a couple of shades to play with and see.

The big question 'what is it?' is really quite simple to answer. It's a face powder that you can use for a variety of things, much like many powders. Setting powder, finishing powder, sheer bronzer, these all come close to the mark. What's key to bear in mind is its inherent sheerness, especially if you use the accompanying brush which picks up very little product at a time. They probably mean for you to purchase a shade that's slightly darker than your regular compact to achieve that "healthy glow" effect. I think when they say 'belle mine' they are referring to a sunkissed glow that equates to a look of healthfulness. It isn't a tan or a glow that can be achieved with sparkles but a touch of warmth that makes you look like winter doesn't exist, and it's a look that I like very much.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Chanel Long Lasting Eyeliner in Purple Berry

The Chanel Stylo Yeux Waterproof Long Lasting Eyeliner in Purple Berry is another item from Les Délices de Chanel, a collection currently available on the Chanel website. I previously picked up the Aqualumière Gloss in Friandise which I posted about here.

Chanel Long Lasting Eyeliner in 77 Purple Berry

Purple Berry is described as cassis with a metallic finish. When I first tried it, I thought that it reminded me more of Grenat that was less reddish and more purple. A comparison swatch was definitely in order.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Burberry Beauty Lip Cover Soft Satin Lipstick Set

This is by no means a brand new offering from Burberry (think back to holiday 2012) but I saw that Nordstrom brought it back on their website recently. The Burberry Beauty Lip Cover Soft Satin Lipstick Set features 3 shades of their "Lip Cover" Soft Satin Lipsticks: No. 1 Nude Beige, No. 8 Tea Rose and No. 10 Dusty Rose. It's a selection of colors that's designed to please. None too bold to wear to work and they certainly qualify as day to night colors. I imagine that Tea Rose and Dusty Rose are quite popular. Nude Beige feels a lot like concealer lips but serves a purpose. At $72, it's cheaper than buying all three colors individually but that kinda math only works if you truly like all three.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Chanel Long Lasting Eyeliner in Khaki Précieux

Chanel's fall collection did not turn out as interesting to me as it usually does. The new cheek product (a cream - the blush format that I find to be my least favorite) was simply not for me. The lip colors were pretty but not compelling enough so I declare the new waterproof eyeliner in Khaki Précieux as the highlight of the collection for me.

Collection Superstition features khaki for the eyes and nails, with coordinating eyeliner, eyeshadow and nail colors. I thought about getting the quad but after much thought, felt that I really didn't need it. I buy the eyeliners because I genuinely like the formula. Every once in awhile, you get one that applies patchily but the ones that do work out for me are truly long lasting and vibrant. The Chanel Stylo Yeux Waterproof Long Lasting Eyeliner in Khaki Précieux represents the better batch of these eyeliners. It applies well, lasts me the day and it certainly helped that it was a deadringer for one of my favorite eyeliner colors of all time, my Laura Mercier Kohl Liner in Black Gold. Now I get my black gold in a sturdy formula (as the kohl one needs to be smudged to be used, otherwise it really does get all over the place) and I am super happy.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Dior Addict Extreme Lipstick in Fortune and Dior Addict Gloss in Merveille

The last couple of staples on my vanity these days include two items I picked up during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale: Dior's Addict Extreme Lipstick in Fortune, a rosy nude shade and the Dior Addict Gloss in Merveille, a shimmery pink. I didn't get any other cosmetic items from this year's anniversary. Mostly it was a lack of interest in the offerings but also partly because I blew most of my budget on other things that I thought presented a better value. Beauty products don't usually get discounted. They may offer special sizes or bundles that would save you a little in the long run but if it's an exclusive shade you're looking for, it's going to be sold at regular retail.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Chanel Aqualumière Gloss in Friandise

They say they've discontinued the Aqualumière Lip Gloss line and yet there are two more new shades available to the US market. The nude French Toffee and the pink coral shimmer Friandise.

Friandise is a fun shade. It's summery and just bursting with light. I've used it by itself (pictured below) and I find that it's one of those shades that looks different depending on the lighting and the base. But I crave some definition. I think that probably because it's sheer, it looks better with some lipstick underneath or maybe some lip liner to outline the lips a little. If this isn't the effect you're going for, however, it's perfectly pretty to use by itself.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Guerlain Maxi Shine Gloss in No. 465 Bubble Gum

One of three lip glosses on rotation for me lately is the Guerlain Maxi Shine Gloss in No. 465 Bubble Gum. I bought this online, sight unseen, without any solid expectations of what it might be like. It felt safe to pick a pink, and safe is precisely what this shade is. It's certainly brighter and more pink than my natural lip color, a bit on the sheer side and probably still falls under the My Lips But Better category for most people.

Guerlain Maxi Shine Gloss in No. 465 Bubble Gum

Monday, July 15, 2013

Guerlain (Nail) Colour Lacquer in No. 125 Vega

Guerlain is by no means new to the world of nail polish but previously released nail colors all tended to be limited edition. Now there's a full line of long-lasting shiny colors (looks like ten, for now) that honestly don't need a top coat to look good. Even my mediocre efforts at a manicure couldn't hide how pretty the finish is on the shade Vega. Note, no top coat applied here.

Guerlain Colour Lacquer in No. 125 Vega

Of course I did put on top coat after it had dried sufficiently, which took just a few minutes. I try to avoid putting on a dark manicure by myself because I know I'll do a horrible job but this bottle did not give me a hard time at all. I also normally can't stand having dark polish on for days unless the color is applied really well. This, I kept on for a week. The wide brush is rather similar to Dior's and while it doesn't count among my favorites, I've learned to use it.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Guerlain Terracotta Moisturizing Bronzing Powder 03

I find that summer is typically when the best new bronzers come out. I tend to peruse a few major high end brands and pick one or two to purchase every season. This year, Chanel did not include a new bronzing powder in their summer release so I was left to choose between Guerlain and Dior. I may end up getting one from Dior in the end but I decided to go with the tried and true Guerlain formula, not in a new shade but one that I simply don't yet own. This neat little package from Nordstrom came with a mini kabuki brush, not different from the brush that the Dior Nude Tan Paradise Duo comes with.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Updated Post: Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Saga, Suspense and Fiction

Instead of sneaking in the lip pictures of Saga, Suspense and Fiction, I thought I'd simply write a whole new post with my thoughts on the three colors. Part of the Avant-Première collection, the three display the new, pigment-rich formula of the Chanel Rouge Coco Shine.

After further use, I can't say I'm a fan. You see, I love the original Rouge Coco Shines. The sheer formula of the lipstick allows me to pick colors that seem bold and bright in the tube, and wear them easily. I picked one really bold shade, Fiction, and I find that I can't wear it unless I leave it simply as a stain on the lips (blot twice after careful application and it looks more natural). I'll show you what it looks like in its full glory but honestly, it's not something I would wear this way.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Chanel Fresh Effect Eyeshadow in Moon River

I have resisted long enough! So despite the dozen or so eyeshadow sticks I have amassed over the last couple of years, off I went to purchase Chanel's take on the trend, the limited edition Fresh Effect Eyeshadow. I chose the shade Moon River as it seemed to be the only one that filled any gaps in my collection and it was a color that I felt I may actually use quite often.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Chanel Le Vernis Nail Colour in 575 Starlet

I was told that Starlet is the limited edition shade in the Chanel Avant-Première collection. I admit it was an impulse buy, along with an eyeshadow stick from the summer collection. While I don't regret either purchase, I have been lagging behind in the reviews.

Chanel Le Vernis Nail Colour in Starlet

Starlet is a shimmering peach that comes off acceptably opaque in two coats. I like that it isn't a screaming coral and doesn't look frosty despite the shimmers. I imagine that it will be easy to replicate with less expensive brands but I have nothing exactly the same in my collection at the moment. I almost bought Paparazzi too but I wasn't feeling the brown at the time.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Saga, Suspense and Fiction (Collection Avant-Première de Chanel)

Chanel Rouge Coco Shine L-R: Saga, Suspense, Fiction

I'm staring down at the dozen swatches I have on my arm of the various Chanel Rouge Coco Shine lipsticks I have on hand and it makes me pleased about the selection I've made from the Avant-Première collection. The three I picked: Saga, Suspense and Fiction, are definitely different from my old ones. Swatched together, all my old Rouge Coco Shines suddenly look brown.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Guerlain Terracotta Make-Up Palette for Face and Eyes

When I purchase makeup, I try to get items that just came out. New things. It's not that I have anything against old things and I do have staples in my collection that I repurchase even when newer items come out. It's just that I'm afraid to fall in love with an item, attempt to repurchase, only to find out that it's been discontinued. It drives me crazy not to be able to find it! But over and above being the latest release, what makes a feature even more urgent is when it's an outstanding value. Case in point, the Guerlain Terracotta (La Sélection de L'Été) Makeup Palette for Face and Eyes. 

Guerlain makes top of the line bronzers but a compact can easily run you over $50. An eyeshadow quad, also in a compact, is now $60. When did this happen? I'm not so sure when prices went up again but that's the direction that they inevitably go. Never lower, just higher and higher. For $62, you can have your bronzer, in two shades, and four colors of eyeshadow. You get it in a mirrored compact with a bronzer applicator and one sponge-tipped eyeshadow applicator and a velvet pouch. The packaging is plastic but seems reasonably sturdy, isn't difficult to open or close and looks elegant enough to carry the Guerlain name. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Pygmalion

I suppose most people reacted to Chanel's summer collection favorably but I found myself not entirely sure if I wanted to pick up anything. The eyeshadow sticks, while most interesting, had me a little worried about possible skin reactions as I'd heard at least one case of an allergic take to the cooling effect. Truthfully, I've probably reached the saturation point when it comes to the sticks. But as I continue to mull over purchasing Moon River, I thought you might like to see what I did pick out from the collection.

Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Pygmalion

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Laura Mercier Crème Smooth Lip Colour in Pink Dusk

Laura Mercier Crème Smooth Lip Colour in Pink Dusk

Laura Mercier's Crème Smooth Lip Colour Line launched in time for fall last year didn't strike a positive note with me upon release. I just didn't like the thick texture at the time. However, my last Laura makeover didn't seem complete without grabbing a new lip product so I picked one out that I thought I could use through the spring. The color is Pink Dusk.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Dior Vernis Nail Lacquer in 398 Lilac Colorvision

Described on the Sephora website as a soft pastel purple, I couldn't help but reach for the bottle of Lilac when I reached the nearest Sephora store. It feels strange to say this, but I walked in there with a 15% off VIB coupon and nothing concrete in mind to buy. I was disappointed that the discount was a mere 15% when Ulta gave 20% off just a few weeks ago. I had bought some staples there and was counting on the Sephora coupon to browse brands like Guerlain, NARS and Dior. How I wish the summer stuff had been released already but I needed to content myself with spring items, hence the acquisition of yet another purple nail polish. (To see a few similar colors from the lilac/lavender family, click here.)

Dior Vernis Nail Lacquer Lilac Colorvision

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Laura Mercier Crème Eye Liner in Violet

So my weekend test drive of the Petite Portfolio from Laura Mercier turned out well. I suppose I overpacked, like always. If I packed only what I truly needed to use, there was certainly enough room in there. I didn't even use the gel eyeliner that I took with me because I used the pencil, smudged then topped with liquid eyeliner. I really like my Lancome Artliner and I find that when I have that in front of me, I will inevitably use it, especially if I'm in a hurry.

Laura Mercier Crème Eye Liner - $22

On a very recent makeover with a Laura Mercier artist, she used the brand's new Crème Eye Liner in Noir to tightline and with the new Angled Eye Liner Brush, she added a quick layer of Violet above the lashline but just on the outer half of the eyelid. I liked the look I ended up with that day and decided to purchase Violet but not Noir. I also got the brush but I'll talk about that more another day.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Laura Mercier Custom Artist Portfolio - Petite (for home and away)

The first Laura Mercier Custom Artist Portolio that I purchased was such a joy that I couldn't help purchasing the petite version. My reasoning: the large portfolio is great for a weeklong trip or longer but possibly too much makeup for a weekend. Wanting a smaller version that occupies less space in an overnighter, the Petite Portfolio seemed a wise choice.

Although I like that this portfolio is brown with a thin wale kind of pinstripe texture, the surface seems to attract moisture and prints more than the faux snakeskin of the original portfolio. Size-wise, it's not quite half the size of the original, possibly a little bigger, the dimensions falling in at roughly about 9" x 6" x 2.75". Inside you will find two removable zippered mesh bags that are magnetized to the back of the case and a non-removable, double-sided brush page with pockets. They've also thrown in one customizable three-well compact. In overall concept, it's very similar to the original portfolio, down to the zippered hard shell case.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Deconstructing The Hairbrush

Late last year, I decided to do a revamp of the tools and products I used on my hair. If you caught the feature I did on some Conair hair dryers last October, that was just a part of the process. I inspected every gadget that I owned: curling irons, flat irons, a hair setter and a slew of hair brushes and combs. I sorted all the hair products, tossed things that were old or past their date, and then I went about to get a little advice on what I should be using and what I didn't need. The thing is, I don't style my hair very often. I generally keep it long but on a typical day, I just pull it back into a pony tail. The priority is to keep frizz at bay and to tame flyaways.

Growing up, I relied on Denman hairbrushes. It wasn't a decision I arrived at after much deliberation. My sister used to buy them, so I did too. The oldest hairbrush I have that's still functional is one I'd bought about eight years back, the Denman Classic Noir Styling Brush D3BW, which is a black and white version of the original D3 classic styling brush with 7 rows of nylon pins.

Denman Classic Noir Styling Brush D3BW

It's a perfectly good all-purpose hairbrush that you can also use to style the hair with heat. But admittedly, it's a bit small for my needs. It may be better suited to shorter hairstyles (like a bob) and the curve makes it great for rounding those bottoms perfectly.

I buy new brushes and combs periodically but never armed with the research I had when I placed my order with Folica (all the brushes featured here, except for the Chi, are available on their website). I bought a bunch of brushes and after going through some of them, I thought it would be good to outline my thoughts on each one. So here are a few things I've learned along the way in this hair experiment, and a few hairbrushes you may want to consider getting next time.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner in 956 Eggplant

I never thought that I asked much of my eyeliner but after testing a whole slew of them lately, I realize that I'm actually quite picky. I was reasonably happy with the L'Oreal Infallible Lacquer Liner of which I've reviewed Blackest Black and Navy. However, L'Oreal doesn't have a purple in its lineup. I was attracted by the prospect of a beautiful aubergine from Maybelline although I was disappointed that this shade had a lot more brown to it than violet.

Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner in Eggplant