Monday, January 9, 2017

Pretty as a Flower

Compared with previous years, I didn't buy all that much makeup in 2016. However, I couldn't let the year pass without purchasing at least one of the seemingly universally heralded two best eyeshadow palettes of last year: Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Palette or the Tarte Tartelette in Bloom Palette. I was kind of leaning towards the more ~editorial~ ABH, the one with the artistic cred, but during Sephora's last 20% off sale, it was sold out. So I satisfied myself with the more conventional, less exciting but more "practical" Tarte offering instead.

l-r: Charmer, Jetsetter, Rocker, Smokeshow, Flower Child, Smarty Pants, Firecracker, Activist, Funny Girl, Sweetheart, Rebel, Leader

l-r: Charmer, Jetsetter, Rocker, Smokeshow

l-r: (Smokeshow), Flower Child, Smarty Pants, Firecracker, Activist, (Funny Girl)

l-r: Funny Girl, Sweetheart, Rebel, Leader

This is one pretty palette, both inside and out. I think I prefer the packaging of the Tarte to ABH. It's nicely thought out and executed, decently sleek and compact, the squareish shape is fairly original in a world of mostly rectangular eyeshadow palettes, and it comes with a huge, good quality mirror.

The colour selection is nothing earth-shattering or out of the box, but still a well-considered edit of neutral mattes with differing undertones and depth, plus a sprinkle of metallic and shimmer shades. I really appreciate the way that the palette is laid out, with each individual row basically acting like its own quad (centered around a colour family), and each column grouping together similar depths of shades, ranging from lightest to darkest.

One criticism I have heard about this palette is that the deepest shades (Smokeshow, Activist and Leader) are all a bit samey once applied to the lids. Smokeshow and Activist I would probably agree, since the former is just a greyer version of the browner latter, but I think Leader is sufficiently reddish to act as a point of difference.

In terms of the shadow quality, the lighter to medium mattes pass the test. They're nicely pigmented, soft but not crumbly or powdery, and blend easily. However the deeper mattes can get a little patchy and don't have the most intense colour payoff I've come across (the LORAC Pro Palette still takes that title by a loooong shot). The quality is certainly not awful nor disappointing, but didn't absolutely blow me away either. It'd say it's above average, which you'd expect from a palette of this price. Honestly though, some of the mattes in my 28-pan Morphe Jaclyn Hill Favorites Palette perform just as well.

I do really love the bronze shade Firecracker, of course. The definite standout of the palette and a large reason why I bought it. Undeniably pretty on the lid with superior pigmentation and texture. Funny Girl is more of a shimmery champagne topper as it has a kind of spongy, drier texture, so sometimes I like dabbing a bit of it to the centre of my lids with my finger to add some sparkle and light. Overall, the palette is predominately warm-toned except for the distinctly cooler-toned first row of shades. I almost wish the mid-tone brown Jetsetter was even cooler than it is, say a light, slightly dove grey taupe, but then I remember I can't pull off cool eyeshadows and content myself with its current form.

Overall, I've been enjoying Tartelette in Bloom and don't regret adding it to my collection, but if you have myriad neutral palettes already (and if you're reading this, I imagine you do), you definitely don't *need* it. It's kind of similar to Urban Decay Naked3 (though Naked3 is more exuberant in the rosey/mauvey/coppery shades still), Maybelline The Nudes, even L'Oréal Color Riche La Palette Nude in Beige. Having said that, you can more or less pick any combination of shades in Tartelette in Bloom and come up with something you can wear for most occasions. It's a very complete palette that's beautifully packaged and produces looks that, for lack of a better word, are simply pretty. What more really, do you need?

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Colourpop Lip Haul (+ Rant)

Colourpop recently had free international shipping, so I caved and put in a modest order. My friend however, showed no such restraint, and ordered 18 lip products. That's right, 18. She chucked whatever took her fancy into her cart without the requisite, thorough research us beauty bloggers might do, and based her choices purely on the product photos on the Colourpop website. BIG MISTAKE. When the goods arrived, it didn't take long to realise many of the colours on the lips were much deeper than how they appeared in the tube. Soon I found myself the beneficiary of some of her discarded shades: Ultra Matte Lips (UML) in Beeper, Wild Nothing and Teeny Tiny, Ultra Satin Lips (USL) in Frick N' Frack and November, and mini USLs in Stud, Mess Around and Toolips. In my own order, I bought just Matte X Lippie Stix in Hotline because I'd heard raves about the Matte X formula.

Matte X Lippie Stix in Hotline

Colourpop lip haul, Beeper
November, Wild Nothing
Teeny Tiny, Frick N' Frack
Mess Around, Toolips
Stud, Hotline

Beeper is a dark plummy brown. November is a medium warm rose pink. Wild Nothing is a deep chocolatey plum. Teeny Tiny is a darker, more purple version of Wild Nothing. Frick N' Frack is a deep, mauvey berry. Mess Around is a dark brown grey. Toolips is a blackened plum. Stud is a fractionally browner/darker Frick N' Frack. And I mean fractionally...

Top lip Stud, bottom lip Frick N' Frack

Come on. They're basically indistinguishable. They're both also the Ultra Satin Lip formula so not even different in finish!

l-r: Wild Nothing, Teeny Tiny, Frick N' Frack, Stud, Beeper, Mess Around, Toolips

l-r: Wild Nothing (UML), Teeny Tiny (UML), Frick N' Frack (USL), Stud (USL), Beeper (UML)

Here we can see just how similar these colours are. Sure, Teeny Tiny is more purply and darker than the rest, Beeper is a bit lighter, Wild Nothing is perhaps a touch deeper and browner than the redder Frick N' Frack and Stud, but the differences aren't enough to justify half of these shades being separate and distinct. You'd hope that a brand would consciously avoid having dupes or near dupes within their own collection, but maybe Colourpop has other priorities.

This was also my first time trying out the Ultra Satin Lip formula. I find them a lot more comfortable to wear than the Ultra Matte Lips which are drying and suck all the moisture from your lips. The fluffier applicator on the USL is noticeably more plush and cushiony than the UML which feels harder and not as giving, perhaps to facilitate a harsher, more precise edge. The Ultra Satin Lip dries down to a more matte finish anyway, so they just feel like a more moisturising version of their Ultra Matte Lip. I find the Ultra Matte Lip colours fare better with a coat of lip balm underneath, an initial layer of product that's dabbed on with the fingers, then a second coat applied the same way after the first has dried. This helps create a more even finish and gets around needing a super precise application. If given the choice, I would abandon the Ultra Matte Lip in favour of the Ultra Satin Lip for any future purchases.

Top to bottom: November, Hotline

The Matte X Lippie Stix was pretty much what I was expecting: a full coverage but lightweight, extremely matte lipstick. I bought Hotline after seeing this blog post because it looked so perfect on the blogger. It's not as love-at-first-sight on me, but it's a nicely done warm peachy nude. Probably what I'd hoped Revlon Matte lipstick in Smoked Peach would be. Reminds me of a more orange, lighter Wet n Wild MegaLast Lip Color in Bare It All or Maybelline Color Drama Intense Velvet Lip Pencil in Nude Perfection.

I was kind of excited for November since it's distinctly not like the other vampy shades and I do like KathleenLights. But I think it's a bit too syrupy for me? There's something simultaneously neon yet old-fashioned about it. Not the hugest fan, but could work if not at 100% opacity.

Once again, I'm not particularly thrilled with Colourpop (see previous posts here and here). I do stand by what I said before, which is they're a good place to go if you want to try out trendy, daring, bold, fun shades at an affordable price point. I mean, I'm probably never going to wear Toolips or Mess Around out, but at least the option's there and I've seen what they look like on. I also give them props for making colours that look great on darker skin tones. But I was majorly annoyed by 2 things with this latest batch of products. These observations seem to be more a criticism of their business model than the quality of their products per se.

First, not every consumer will be bothered or savvy enough to properly research the colour accuracy of their shades. If they purchase, like my friend, based upon photographs of the products on the Colourpop website, they will be sorely disappointed. The colour in the tube isn't the colour on the lips, and that's a problem. See for example, reviews on Frick N' Frack and Toolips respectively:
One complaint is that Frick N Frack (and pretty much all ColourPop's lipsticks) look much darker in reality than in their pictures. I'm giving 4/5 because I think it's beautiful, but they need to be more honest with their pictures, because it does disappoint some people. For example, I would rather have a lip colour like the picture than the actual frick n frack but it's still beautiful (oh_yeez_itzz_kylizzle on Nov 7, 2016)
I was super excited about this beautiful fall/winter color, but ended up being disappoint with how dark it turned out. It turned out to be dark brown when applied and even was mistaken to be a black lipstick by my friends. However, the color does last without rubbing off for almost the whole day. Just was not what I was expecting from the pictures. (Sav on Oct 27, 2016)
Yes, they do have swatches on their website as well, but when you have so many colours in your range, it would be much more helpful if similar-appearing colours were swatched together (a la Makeup Geek eyeshadows), rather than disparate shades in a "collection". That way, at least people have a chance at avoiding duplicate colours, or at least will be more aware of the differences, no matter how small.

Secondly, I don't think a company should be producing nearly identical colours like Frick N' Frack and Stud under different names in the first place. The fact that those two shades, plus Wild Nothing, Beeper and Teeny Tiny were just so similar, leaves a very bad taste in my mouth. Sure, no one put a gun to anyone's head to buy them all, but you'd hope if you bought FIVE different colours, they'd at least have some point of difference on the lips to not make it all feel like a massive waste of money. This coming from someone with a gazillion same pink lipsticks and bronze eyeshadows.

A third minor complaint I have is the lettering on the packaging of their products fades unbelievably quickly. I'm talking in a matter of days with ordinary handling, or after a single trip in the handbag. What's the point?

I think Colourpop could be so much better if they sorted their shit out. I haven't experienced any of these issues with any other brand. Perhaps these problems arise because they favour pushing out fresh new product even if the formulas, shades or aspects of packaging aren't perfected. Having said all that, somehow I've accumulated a sizeable collection of their stuff even though I'm not super happy with most of it. I guess they must be doing something right.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Colour Seduction

Peeking into other people's makeup bags is not a good idea. It's like innocently going into a favourite shop just for a browse. My friend had a few Revlon Ultra HD Matte Lipcolors in her bag and I dug out the one that appealed to me the most, HD Seduction (630). I tried it on and suddenly was overcome with that familiar irrational NEED that takes over when I come across a lip colour I like. It was like this was the shade I'd been searching for my whole life. It was the shade I couldn't let get away. Literally 20 minutes later, I hopped into the nearest chemist, zeroed in on the Revlon stand and bought it.

I'd heard of these when they first launched a while back, but they didn't arouse any interest at the time. I was probably at a lipstick saturation point, particularly with Revlon releases. I do recall reading mainly positive reviews about them though, consistent with my general experience with Revlon lip products (I went crazy with their Lip Butters in 2012, have collection posts on their Super Lustrous, Matte and ColorBurst lipsticks, and bought a bunch of the Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stains — original and matte).

The Ultra HD Matte Lipcolor isn't completely matte despite the name. They're certainly not bone dry and moisture-sucking like your traditional liquid lipstick (e.g. Colourpop Ultra Matte Lips). To me, it's initially like a lip gloss and takes a long time to mattify, and even when it does, it's more of a slightly sheeny matte lip cream. The consistency is reminiscent of the NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams. They're a more forgiving formula, aren't remotely transfer-proof, but once blotted, are slightly staining. Longevity is nothing to write home about, especially since the product can easily fade off the lips. The applicator is excellent (great shape, easy control, distributes just enough product) and feels really plush and cushiony on the lips.

Revlon Ultra HD Matte Lipcolor in Seduction

l-r: Face of Australia Sundae, Colourpop Midi, Revlon Seduction, Revlon Elusive, Rimmel Notting Hill Nude, Maybelline Nude Perfection

Seduction is a light-to-medium pinky nude that I think suits Asian skin tones well. I like that you can build up your desired opacity with the wand. I prefer the look of the product lightly applied. When it's more full coverage (like in the pictures below), it looks more like your conventional rosy pink and loses some of its magic as an ideal "my lips but better" shade.

Compared with other nude lipsticks in my collection, Seduction is a pinker Rimmel Moisture Renew Lipstick in Notting Hill Nude or a more uniform Face of Australia Sheer Gloss Lip Crayon in Sundae, which is sheerer, patchier. Colourpop Ultra Matte Lip in Midi is more cool-toned with a touch of purple. Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm in Elusive is a much warmer, brighter pink. Maybelline Color Drama Intense Velvet Lip Pencil in Nude Perfection is a darker, browner nude.

Seduction isn't super unique but the combination of the colour, formula and sleek packaging makes it my current go-to lip product when I feel in the mood for a lil somethin' on the lips but nothing too out there or loud. It's the quintessential "pretty" shade that's safe, unassuming and easy to wear. It adds a touch of muted, natural rosiness that's not too pink or brown, dark or pale. Bonus: the stuff smells like delicious baked goods.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Blonde Buy

Priceline recently had their 40% off cosmetics sale and I only really wanted to buy NYX Lip Lingerie in Bedtime Flirt after reading this article. It was out of stock everywhere I looked (though of course was back in stock right after the sale) so I settled for this el cheapo brow gel from Essence that I recall KathleenLights talk about. She described Make Me Brow as "the same as Benefit Gimme Brow", so how could I go wrong? Plus it was next to nothing at $3.06 after discount.

First mistake I made was my total ignorance at the 2 shades they offer: Blondy Brows (01) and Browny Brows (02). I thought they only had one colour so I didn't even bother checking what shade I picked up. Turned out to be Blondy Brows which was a fail on my part since it is way too light for my colouring.

The only other brow mascara I have is the L'Oréal Brow Artist Plumper in Medium/Dark (also bought during a previous Priceline 40% off sale), which I've been reaching for lately any time I want a more complete makeup look. I used to never care about brows (when writing this post, I realised I don't even have a brow tag on the blog), but increasingly I'm discovering the merit of brow products, especially for occasions where I know I'll be photographed.

Despite purchasing the Medium/Dark shade in the L'Oréal Brow Artist Plumper, I remember trying Light/Medium in the store and quite liking the effect. It completely changed the colour of my brows (it was like I had dyed them a lighter, warmer brown) and in turn, altered the appearance of my whole face. I was hoping that Essence Blondy Brows would be similar, but it's a much lighter, cool-toned ashy blonde than a warm chestnut brown like L'Oréal Light/Medium.

Essence Blondy BrowsL'Oréal Medium/Dark

The wand on the Essence is tiny tiny (much smaller than the L'Oréal Brow Artist Plumper) and there's small fibres that are meant to give more body to your brows. I have pretty full brows already, so the small fibres don't do that much. The minimal difference could be more the wrong shade though. Because of the size of the wand, it distributes less product than the L'Oréal, which may be a good or bad thing depending on your preferences. All in all, it's a much quieter, subdued product.

Bare brow

With Blondy Brows

You can see the product doesn't really make much of a difference. If there is any, it's extremely subtle. There's just a bit more colouring overall and the tip of the brow has a touch more definition.

I haven't tried Benefit Gimme Brow but Essence Make Me Brow does seem like a nearly identical offering at literally a fraction of the price. I definitely am curious about the darker Browny Brows shade and feel it would do a much better job at filling in small gaps in my brows and giving a more defined, polished look than Blondy Brows. Having said that, if L'Oréal could make a shade in between Light/Medium and Medium/Dark, and shrink the size of their wand, I'd have my perfect brow mascara.
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