Thursday, July 7, 2016

Winter Workers

Come this time of the year, I get lazier and lazier when it comes to skin care and makeup. My constitution is not built to withstand the cold. In the mornings, I can barely get myself out of the warm cocoon of my bed, let alone be bothered to wash my face and slap on makeup. At night, I need the simplest and most efficient way to get rid of the day's gunk and hydrate my face so it's not completely ravaged by winter. Here are the products I've been relying on to work their magic.

I'm a real beauty blogger, mom! Marble surfaces!

Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel
After literally years of hearing about this cleanser, I'm finally using it. It's okay. I'll give it 7/10. Slightly better than a lukewarm reception, but not undying love. I prefer Radical Hydrating Cleanser. It reminds me of a version of Dr Lewinn's Multi-Moisture Balm (also a distinctive orange colour) that can be washed off. It has a thin, oily texture that emulsifies when mixed with water. My face doesn't feel dry or tight after patting dry with a cloth, but it doesn't feel super plump and moisturised either.

Benefit Total Moisture Facial Cream
Had a 8.9g sample from the First Class Flirts Travel Set which I've used up. This did the trick in keeping my face pretty happy during the day after cleansing in the morning. It's super rich but not greasy. The only downside is its overpowering scent of chemicals and apples, like a high octane, somewhat putrid variant of Ralph Lauren Ralph. Still, once it's applied to the face, it feels like a smoothing, emollient layer between the skin and foundation. I noticed when I used this as my daily moisturiser, my face showed no signs of the dryness and flakiness that comes hand in hand with winter.

La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Lips
Nothing much to harp on about except to say this is a solid, effective lip balm. Instant soothing relief for chapped lips. Doesn't sting (no menthol), not oily like Vaseline, not ultra matte like Nuxe Rêve de Miel (still has some slip). I can see this being multipurpose — you could definitely use it on dry patches on the skin or even as a hand cream if desperate.

Avene Soothing Moisture Mask
One of my all-time favourite moisturisers (I don't use it as a mask). Currently I use it as a night cream, though I could easily use it for the daytime as well. Texture is superb, absorbs super well, feels immediately moisturising on a deep, satisfying level, never balls up when you apply it or otherwise acts up. Just perfection.

Clarins HydraQuench Cream-Mask
Mainly trying to use this up as I received this 30ml tube as a gift with purchase in late 2013. I alternate with the Avene as my night cream, after getting off all my makeup in the shower with Muji Cleansing Oil (which I'm increasingly disliking, mainly because once it's anywhere near the eyes, it stings and irritates). This one takes a bit more effort and time to thoroughly work into the skin, and isn't as hydrating as the Avene, but delivers similar results. Right now, I'm not using any other serums, face oils, or masks, I skip all toners and chemical exfoliation, just cleanse with an oil and apply this or the Avene at night. My drastically pared down routine has been working fine for me even in the thick of winter.

Weleda Skin Food
Possibly the richest cream I've encountered, and I say that in the best way possible. Wouldn't recommend for the face, but it's an amazing hand cream (though needs to be used sparingly if you don't want greasy fingers). Perhaps better as an overnight hand or foot treatment to avoid transfer. Botanical scent is heaven and very reminiscent of higher end skin care brands like Aesop.

NARS Madly
I've come around from my initial 'meh' review of this blush. Madly applied with my Morphe E4 is a lifesaver these days. 99% of the time in the frigid, dim mornings I can't be bothered with separate contouring or bronzing, so it works well as a matte all-in-one bronzer/contour/blush. It instantly enlivens the complexion and is an invaluable time-saver. The neutral shade also works with anything and looks natural while still injecting colour into the face.

Maybelline Color Tattoo in Creamy Beige
Another product I initially wasn't that into, but I've since warmed up to considerably. Lately, I've been favouring a vastly simplified, minimal makeup approach. I used to use at least two eyeshadows (one for the lid, then a deeper shade concentrated closer to the lash line and blended up and out for a subtly smoked out look), but now I stick to just the lid shade. I like the matte quality of Creamy Beige for sophisticated, office-friendly, subdued definition, though if you really scrutinise, it is slightly satin. I used to think it was still too cool-toned for my colouring, but I've been finding it more neutral-toned the more I wear it. It's quick and easy to apply with the fingers, lasts all day and doesn't crease or fade. Swatch and original review here.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Top 10 Perfumes

The last perfume collection post I did was more than 3 years ago, so it's high time for an update. Rather than go through every single perfume I have (which is too many, it's a real problem), I managed to narrow it down to a top 10. Perhaps it was inspired by the top 10 videos I've been watching on YouTube (I particularly liked Top 10 Cinematographers, Top 10 TV Marriage Proposals and Top 10 Gordon Ramsay Outbursts). Perhaps it's because I've finally come to my senses (i.e. presently favour minimalism over excess, though no doubt I could change my position any time), and now value quality over quantity. I used to think if a perfume was inexpensive and didn't mind the smell of it, I would buy it for the sake of having more variety. Now I see that I get a lot more enjoyment and value out of (usually) pricier perfumes that I really had to consider whether I wanted or not.

Ralph Lauren Romance EDP
This was my first proper perfume I ever had, given as a gift to me back in 2003 (if I recall correctly). 2003! 13 years ago. Lawd. I felt so pampered and cool with my first experience of "grown up" perfume. Released in 1998, it's survived the test of time to become something of a modern classic. This isn't the exact same bottle I was given (that was a 30ml one), but close enough since I bought the 100ml a couple of years later. I was insanely devoted to this perfume when I was younger. Not only does it have sentimental value, it still smells pretty good to me now. It's an unassuming, sophisticated, office friendly scent, in the same vein as Estee Lauder Pleasures or Hugo Boss Femme. Clean, floral, not too sweet or dry, well formulated. All the notes sing harmoniously to my nose and there's a brightness to it that's instantly uplifting.

Top notes are rose, citrus oils, ginger, freesia; middle notes are carnation, lotus flower, lily, white violet; base notes are patchouli, oakmoss, white musk.

diptyque Volutes EDP
One of my major perfume splurges — in fact, the biggest one. I shelled out $170 for a 75ml bottle. In my defense, I was on holiday, the diptyque EDP bottles hadn't yet been released in Australia, plus the lovely sales assistant threw in a 12ml sample of Eau Duelle EDP (score!). I was debating whether to get either of diptyque's better known scents (Philosykos or L’Ombre dans l’Eau), but in the end had to go with my gut. There was just something magical about Volutes. I'd been given a 2ml sample a year prior and it always left an impression each time I wore it. It was unlike any perfume I owned, with the possible exception of Guerlain Shalimar. Intense, full bodied, smoky, woody, powdery and sweet, with a distinct progression from top to middle to base notes, utterly spectacular in EDP form (as opposed to the milder, watered down EDT version), with the most irresistible dry down. One spritz on your wrist and one spritz on your neck lasts an age and is seriously plenty (I learned the hard way one morning when I was particularly generous with the sprays and evoked a chimney at work). It's definitely an autumn/winter perfume suited for crisp, cold weather.

Top notes are iris flower, honey, tobacco and dried fruits; middle notes are pink pepper, black pepper, saffron, hay and immortelle; base notes are opoponax, myrhh, styrax and benzoin.

Guerlain Terracotta Le Parfum EDT
I still can't quite grasp my luck at coming across this bottle last year at Myer for something like $50. I guess they were concerned with quickly getting rid of all the remaining stock of a limited edition product. Terracotta Le Parfum is frequently compared with Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess which I've only ever heard raves about, but didn't entirely love when I smelled it at the counter. Terracotta Le Parfum actually reminds me more of a much gentler version of Lush Lust, with the addition of coconut. The jasmine in this is actually my least favourite part (at least in the opening where it smells kind of uriney), but once that bit's over, it's a beachy/sweet/creamy blend of white florals, coconut and vanilla. Spritz this and just imagine you're on vacation.

Top notes are bergamot, coconut, tiare flower; middle notes are orange blossom, jasmine, ylang ylang; base notes are vanilla, musk.

Chloé Chloé Eau de Parfum
I dedicated one of my very first posts to this fragrance all the way back in January 2012. Now it's become one of my favourite everyday perfumes. It's the ultimate "pretty" scent, but not childish or cheap smelling. When it first launched, I thought it was dull and generic, but now I find it instantly recognisable and beautifully done. The gorgeous bottle deserves to be proudly displayed on any vanity. The floral notes are fresh, dainty, and perfectly chosen, and blended with juicy lychee and the sweet, rounded base notes make for an intoxicating mix. Staying power is excellent.

Top notes are peony, lychee, freesia; middle notes are rose, magnolia, lily of the valley; base notes are amber, cedar and honey.

Narciso Rodriguez Narciso Eau de Parfum
Previously featured in my June 2015 Favourites, Narciso Eau de Parfum is perfect for this time of year with winter kicking into gear. Although it arguably verges on grandma perfume territory (not that there's anything wrong with that), the composition remains overall modern and unique like its bottle design. It's potent, rich and extremely fragrant in terms of its projection and depth. There's floral, creamy, sweet, powdery and woody elements, but it doesn't smell busy or discordant. There's an overarching purity to it that makes it sing.

Top notes are gardenia and rose; middle note is musk; base notes are vetiver, black cedar and white cedar.

Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb EDP
It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I finally began to understand the appeal of Flowerbomb. Prior to that, I guess I simply wasn't into these "sexy", drippingly sweet, patchouli-based perfumes. Now there are so many on the market due to the popularity of Flowerbomb, from Lancôme La vie est Belle to Jimmy Choo Jimmy Choo EDP (not to be confused with the EDT, something I learned the hard way). Even Ari by Ariana Grande EDP has seemingly drawn "inspiration" from Flowerbomb, not just in scent but bottle design. Flowerbomb opened my eyes up to the world of gourmand perfumes and shortly after I purchased it, I went on a gourmand perfume buying spree to varying degrees of success. Overall, I'm not the hugest fan of perfumes that are just overwhelmingly sweet, but there's a richness, depth and maturity to Flowerbomb that gives it substance and sophistication. The ultimate girls' night out or date night perfume.

Top notes are bergamot and tea; middle notes are jasmine, freesia, orchid; base notes are centiflora rose, patchouli.

Serge Lutens Un bois vanille EDP
Another gourmand that I purchased alongside Flowerbomb which I wrote about in my May 2015 Favourites. Sometimes I think that Un bois vanille will be potentially nauseating (too much of everything — I mean just look at the notes), but each time I spray it, I only get signals being delivered to the pleasure centre of my brain. In other words, it never lets me down. It's so much more than a "vanilla" perfume. There's aniseed and a woody smokiness that saves it from being all cookies and buttercream.

Notes: sandalwood, black licorice, coconut milk, beeswax, bitter almond, musk, vanilla, benzoin, guaiac wood and tonka bean.

I've actually devoted a whole separate blog post to these three last perfumes, so I won't go into too much detail here.

Estee Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia EDP
If I'm being perfectly honest, it's a touch too dry for my liking, but I'm a sucker for anything gardenia and this according to Luca Turin is a great example. So I needed it, ya know? It's the only perfume I have that exists purely so I can sniff gardenia on command. I don't smell 80% of the supposed top/middle/base notes (really only the ones in the name), but what would I know.

Top notes are neroli, lilac, rosewood; middle notes are tuberose, gardenia, orange flower, jasmine, white lily, orange flower; base notes are carnation, vanilla bourbon.

Jo Malone Orange Blossom EDT
Legitimately one of my favourite perfumes ever. Was so close to pulling the trigger on a 100ml bottle, but couldn't stomach the $185 price tag. But when I run out of my 30ml bottle, I may treat myself. It's juicy, authentic, clean, citrussy goodness. Not too tart, not artificial or cloying, but fresh, delectable, bright — the real thing and nothing extraneous.

Top notes are cedrat, green notes, clementine leaf; middle notes are orange blossom, water lily; base notes are orange blossom, lilac.

Chloé Love, Chloé EDP
Tragically discontinued for inexplicable reasons, this along with Ralph Lauren Romance are the only two perfumes I've purchased a backup for. It's powdery and soapy, clean smelling, feminine, a little retro, pillowy and comforting. The bottle is one of the most beautiful things I own and the longevity of the scent is superb.

Top notes are orange blossom, pink pepper; middle notes are hyacinth, iris, lilac, wisteria, heliotrope; base notes are musk, talc, rice powder.

So there you have my top 10. Honourable mentions go to DKNY Be Delicious Fresh Blossom, Cacharel Amor Amor, Narciso Rodriguez For Her EDP (I prefer the EDT but the EDP was given to me as a gift), Estee Lauder Pleasures, Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue and Kai perfume oil.

I'm at the stage where I don't believe in "the one" when it comes to perfume (or perhaps anything, but that's another topic). There is no transcendentally beautiful, "perfect" perfume which is everything I never knew I wanted, that I'll wear non-stop and never get sick of. I'm the kind of person that believes in the merit of being able to select a different perfume depending on the season, weather, time of day, mood or occasion. The problem is distinguishing between a merely nice-smelling perfume, and a perfume with some deeper value or significance to you for whatever reason. Those are the ones worth keeping, since it goes without saying they would also smell good.

Do you have any of these perfumes? What are your favourite perfumes? Leave me a comment as I'd love to know!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Trying to Dupe Sweet Peach

When Too Faced launched the Sweet Peach palette, I made a mental note to buy it as soon as it landed in Australia. The shades and concept won me over and I loved the last Chocolate Bar and Semi-Sweet Chocolate Bar palettes from the brand. But in line with my resolution to think very carefully about any new makeup purchases, I ultimately decided against buying it. I finally saw the palette in person last weekend at Mecca Maxima and swatched all the shades on the back of my hand. Overall, it didn't wow me. Some of the shades felt really dry and weren't that pigmented. I could immediately spot the colours I'd probably never wear. The ones that did appeal to me looked very familiar. The only shade that really stood out to me was the pale peachy-pink Georgia, but it wasn't enough to justify buying the whole palette.

Back home, I thought a fun exercise would be to try and dupe every single shade in the Sweet Peach palette with existing eyeshadows I have. If, in doing so, I could see I basically already had the palette, then any remnant need might be extinguished. I referenced swatches and descriptions online, namely here and here, to form the basis of the "dupes" I found.

Time to go digging...

(Source: Too Faced)

Bottom to top: Urban Decay Strange, L'Oréal La Palette Nude in Beige (5th shade), Anastasia Beverly Hills Soft Peach, NARS Orgasm, theBalm FratBoy, Addiction Fudge

Bottom to top: Makeup Geek Grandstand, Morphe Burlesque, Rimmel Santa Rose, Anastasia Beverly Hills Witchy, Sleek Organza, Makeup Geek Cocoa Bear

Bottom to top: Sleek Envy, Australis Plum Diddy, Too Faced Peanut Butter, L'Oréal La Palette Nude in Beige (9th shade), Morphe Midnight Kiss, Anastasia Beverly Hills Spirit Rock

l-r: Urban Decay Strange, L'Oréal La Palette Nude in Beige (5th shade), Anastasia Beverly Hills Soft Peach, NARS Orgasm, theBalm FratBoy, Addiction Fudge

This first row was meant to approximate White Peach, Nectar, Peaches 'n Cream, Just Peachy, Candied Peach and Caramelized.

I used Urban Decay Strange (from Naked3) for White Peach, the fifth shade in L'Oréal Color Riche La Palette Nude in Beige for Nectar, Anastasia Beverly Hills Soft Peach (from the Shadow Couture World Traveler Palette) for Peaches 'n Cream, NARS Orgasm blush for Just Peachy, theBalm FratBoy blush for Candied Peach, and Addiction by Ayako Fudge for Caramelized.

Compared with swatches online, I think the shades that were meant to dupe Nectar and Caramelized look the most off. Nectar in swatches looks slightly duochromey with an orange overlay over a lighter gold. I didn't have anything exactly like that in a single eyeshadow (I could potentially have approximated it layering two shadows on top of each other), though at least the fifth shade in L'Oréal Color Riche La Palette Nude in Beige had a similar shimmering quality. Caramelized looks like a colour I'd have at least 15 dupes of, but I tend to lump these bronze shades together since their differences aren't pronounced enough for me to meaningfully tell them apart. Having said that, Addiction Fudge seems way too warm (kind of bordering on an orange-brown poo colour) to dupe Caramelized, which looks darker and more chocolatey.

I didn't have any pink eyeshadows like Just Peachy or Candied Peach, so I had to resort to blushes. I've never used blush as eyeshadow and I'm not entirely sure why. I guess lack of adventurousness and a certain wariness of wearing pink around the eyes, which blushes tend to be. However I do remember trying the dominantly pink/peach Sleek Oh So Special and being pleasantly surprised at the results. Maybe it's time to get away from the mentality that pink is a strictly "creative", out of the box colour and start reaching for it like I would any other bronze or taupe.

l-r: Makeup Geek Grandstand, Morphe Burlesque, Rimmel Santa Rose, Anastasia Beverly Hills Witchy, Sleek Organza, Makeup Geek Cocoa Bear

The second row was meant to approximate Luscious, Cobbler, Georgia, Bless Her Heart, Bellini and Puree.

I used Makeup Geek Grandstand for Luscious, Morphe Burlesque (ES74) from the Jaclyn Hill Favorites Palette for Cobbler, Rimmel Santa Rose blush for Georgia, Witchy by Anastasia Beverly Hills (from the Self-Made Palette) for Bless Her Heart, Organza from the Sleek i-Divine eyeshadow palette in Oh So Special for Bellini, and Makeup Geek Cocoa Bear for Puree.

Grandstand is probably a bit too dark to be an accurate dupe for Luscious, which looks lighter, more overall silvery and reflective, with some muted brown in the mix. But overall, I'm hoping it captures the same metallic rose gold character. I totally guessed Morphe Burlesque for Cobbler since it's the same story as Caramelized in the first swatch — too much of a generic bronze for me to care about the minute differences between the shades I have that are similar. Georgia was one shade that I really didn't have anything close to. It wasn't in any eyeshadow palette I had and it's not the kind of colour I'd set out to buy on its own as I can't see myself getting much use out of it, as pretty as it is. Once again, I had to resort to a blush to approximate it (Rimmel Santa Rose in this case). Bellini was also tricky to find a dupe for — I initially thought Sleek Organza would be spot on, but it turned out to be way too shimmery and light. Needed to go for a darker peachy-pink. Makeup Geek Cocoa Bear isn't exactly like Puree, but I surprisingly struggled to find a dark, warm-toned brown with a strictly orange undertone rather than red. The one shade I'm convinced I nailed is Bless Her Heart, which ABH Witchy looks identical to.

l-r: Sleek Envy, Australis Plum Diddy, Too Faced Peanut Butter, L'Oréal La Palette Nude in Beige (9th shade), Morphe Midnight Kiss, Anastasia Beverly Hills Spirit Rock

Finally we have the shades that were meant to be dupes for Tempting, Peach Pit, Summer Yum, Charmed, I'm Sure, Delectable and Talk Derby to Me.

I matched them to Envy from the Sleek Bad Girl palette (second shade, bottom row), Australis AC/ME Eyeshadow in Plum Diddy, Too Faced Peanut Butter (from the Semi-Sweet Chocolate Bar Palette), the second last shade in L'Oréal Color Riche La Palette Nude in Beige, Morphe Midnight Kiss (ES48) from the Jaclyn Hill Favorites Palette and Anastasia Beverly Hills Spirit Rock from the Self-Made Palette.

The only one I think is obviously off is Summer Yum. I simply don't have anything that dark and orange. I even tried swatching matte bronzers and none were near the required intensity or warmth. Come to think of it, Makeup Geek Cocoa Bear is probably a better dupe for Summer Yum than Puree. The rest might not be perfect dupes, but for me, are close enough that I don't feel I'm missing out. Australis Plum Diddy (for Peach Pit) is a cream shadow, which doesn't have the same functionality/versatility as a powder one, but I'm sure I have similar eggplant/dark purply brown shades tucked away somewhere.

Overall, the only shades I felt I really didn't have sufficient approximations for were Nectar, Georgia, Bellini, Puree and Summer Yum. Of those, it's only the mattes (Georgia, Puree and Summer Yum) that I'd consider worthy additions if I did buy the Sweet Peach palette. When you break it down like that, I definitely can live without it.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Actually 'Wearable' Lip Colours

I have a gazillion lipsticks yet rarely wear any of them. It's probably a combination of not liking the feeling of something on my lips, not liking having something on my lips when I need to eat/drink, and not feeling the occasion warrants wearing lipstick. The other night, I went through most of my lipstick collection, trying on each lipstick with a bare face, and I set aside those I deemed acceptable to put into a daily rotation. I suppose you could describe them as the more "wearable", everyday colours that were more flattering than unflattering. Not too opaque, relatively comfortable on the lips, fuss-free and easy to throw on. What emerged were fairly similar colours and textures — warm pinks and rosy nudes in sheerer, glossier formulas.

l-r: L'Oréal Shiny Grapefruit, Revlon Pink in the Afternoon, Australis Jive, Face of Australia Sundae, Face of Australia Cupcake, Revlon Rose Nectar, Lancome Blush Classique

What I pulled out of my collection:

The most amusing thing to emerge from all this is I've swatched and mentioned each of these before in separate posts (links are above). I guess lipstick is a favourite topic to feature, photograph and write about, just not actually wear.

Bottom to top: L'Oréal Shiny Grapefruit, Revlon Pink in the Afternoon, Australis Jive, Face of Australia Sundae, Face of Australia Cupcake, Revlon Rose Nectar, Lancome Blush Classique

l-r: L'Oréal Shiny Grapefruit, Revlon Pink in the Afternoon, Australis Jive, Face of Australia Sundae, Face of Australia Cupcake, Revlon Rose Nectar, Lancome Blush Classique

L'Oréal Shiny Grapefruit is a warm rosy pink with subtle silver shimmer. Revlon Pink in the Afternoon is a semi-matte medium warm pink, similar to the L'Oréal but a touch darker. Australis Jive is a dusty, retroish, slightly cool-toned medium pink. Face of Australia Sundae is a "my lips but better" sheer rosy nude. Face of Australia Cupcake is similar to Jive, but sheerer and glossier, slightly darker and more cool-toned. Revlon Rose Nectar is a coral pink with prominent gold shimmer. It has a jelly texture — lightweight, translucent and glossy. Lancome Blush Classique is even glossier than Rose Nectar, almost wet look. It's a brighter strawberry pink.

Will I actually wear these now I've picked them out individually? Well, that's the goal. Though the couple of lip products I've kept in my makeup bag that I bring to work have barely seen the light of day. I don't know about you, but these days, work is one of the last places I feel like wearing lipstick to. Unlike the rest of my makeup (foundation, eyes, cheek colour), lipstick to me is purely for the fun of it. It's that extra, finishing step that makes your entire look just that bit fancier and more polished, or becomes the focal point of your whole makeup (as in the case of a bright, dark, or unusual statement lip). These 7 shades I've picked out are more to enhance one's natural lip colour and to add a non-threatening, natural, plumping tint. Beginner's shades for those that prefer their lip colours to be conservative and unassuming. If I need something easygoing and foolproof on the lips that will complement whatever other makeup I have going on, I know what to reach for.
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