Tuesday, January 16, 2018

LANEIGE Two Tone Matte Lip Bars

LANEIGE's popular Two Tone Lip Bars are now available in a matte formulation!

I'm a fan of both the original satin/creme formula, as well as the more balmy and glossy Tint formula, because both boast intensely vibrant colors in a fun format for creating ombre lips. But I'm obviously excited about the launch of a matte series since this is by far my favorite texture.

The Two Tone Matte Bars come in gorgeous pink matte-chrome tubes but the lipsticks themselves have the same slanted cut as the original Two Tone Lip Bars.

Shade Obsession: MAC Viva Glam Sia

I decided to put on my tube of MAC Viva Glam Sia one morning and straight out of the tube, this matte scarlet looks VERY much like a creamier Ruby Woo, although it's a regular Matte, not a Retro Matte. It's also just a hair warmer than Ruby Woo, which has a hint of cool undertones although I still consider mostly a true red. The undertone difference may not be noticeable to a lot of people.

The difference comes when you press your lips together and wear it out in the daytime. The warmth in the undertone comes out more in daylight, and you may - like me - suddenly notice all those tiny little flecks of gold hidden in the matte red formula.

The sparkles are not really noticeable to someone standing in front of you, unless they come really close and squint. But it does give the formula a tiny hint of luminosity, the way velvet sometimes catches the light at certain angles.

L'Oreal x Balmain Color Riche Lip Collection

L'Oreal Paris has launched the very edgy special-edition Balmain Color Riche Lip Collection, available first on Zalora.sg. The collection of 12 matte couture shades was designed by Olivier Rousteing, themed to embody the 3 facets of the Balmain woman (or man): Glamazone, Rock, and Couture.

These lipsticks are available in singles at S$28 or in themed sets of 4 at $99.

The Rock series features blue marbled tubes trimmed in gold, and the colors are muted Winter tones. Perhaps the most outstanding shade here is the royal blue, 901 Rebellion, which is exactly the color of the outer tube.

Like many other blue lipsticks, the color will go on more translucent and not as dark as it looks in the tube, but I'm happy to report that it wears quite evenly on the lips, and is actually a touch more wearable than you might think!

L'Oreal x Balmain 901 Rebellion lip swatch

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

LUSH Gorilla Perfumes - My Obsession and Collection

Gorilla scents (a play on the phrase "Guerrilla warfare") were borne of Lush's rebellion against the stale, formulaic fragrance industry where consumers are fed copycat after copycat of uninspiring synthetic scents, and more money and effort goes into advertising and packaging than it does formulas. 

While I have nothing against the cupcake-y synthetics and love a lot of them, I do consider natural perfumery an art form because of how much more complicated and expensive it is working with natural essences and extracts. Like fine wine, there are differences between batches due to variances in the harvest. And like fine wine, many perfumes that contain natural extracts "age" and develop into richer, smoother versions of themselves with time.

My on-off love affair with Gorilla perfumes began maybe around 2012 during a trip to NYC. I still recall the rather uninspiring perfume display with a somewhat random selection of identical, anonymous little black bottles and tubes with alarmingly high price-tags. But the moment I picked up that tester bottle of Lust and sprayed, I swooned, and fell instantly, passionately in love with the radiant, candy-sweet, gloriously-rich jasmine scent that you can never find with mainstream perfumes created using synthetic notes. 

Lush Lust in the new spray bottle (center) vs original Gorilla bottle and stick
I skipped a few "generations" of Gorilla perfumes and only recently rekindled my love affair after looking into the Volume IV scents. Today's perfumes come in nice squared apothecary bottles with clean white labels. Unlike the old black bottles, I can see how much perfume I have left, and what I'm actually picking up. (Plus, I love how the glass bottles look all lined up together.)

Besides 30ml and 100ml bottles, they are also available in Solid perfume pots and innovative soapy Wash Cards. I personally find the biodegradable fruit pulp Wash Cards a fun way to sample (or share) new scents in the shower. However at $5 per card, they are rather expensive and I don't find the scent stays or projects on the skin. Eco-friendly yes, eco-nomical no.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Maybelline Super Stay Matte Inks and Master Chrome Metallic Highlighter

It might be old news in some parts of the world, but Maybelline's Super Stay Matte Inks (S$17.90) and the much-buzzed-about Master Chrome Metallic Highlighter in shade 100 Molten Gold ($19.90) are finally in Singapore.

There are 10 shades of the Super Stay Matte Ink range available locally, and these pretty much cover the spectrum from a pale beige nude to brights to darks. In fact, I would say only 1 or 2 of the shades can be considered "safe" colors and the rest are actually pretty dramatic depending on your skin tone.


The Super Stay Matte Inks have a slightly thicker, tackier texture going on. Almost a sticky gel consistency as you spread it out and let it set, which may make it slightly challenging to get a perfectly even application in one single coat. It takes 30 seconds to fully set, so don't start smearing your lips around or rubbing it on things too early.

The softer colors are much more forgiving and easy to apply perfectly, compared to the dark ones, which can require 2 coats to look fully opaque. The good news is these do layer quite nicely without going all wrinkly, thick and crackly although I wouldn't advise applying too much product on your second coating.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Lancome Advanced Genifique Sensitive Dual Concentrate

I've used Lancome's Advanced Genifique for a few years, so when they launched a new Advanced Genifique Sensitive Dual Concentrate, I was pretty excited to try it out.

Like the original, Advanced Genifique Sensitive is built around probiotics, which is known to balance and soothe skin. However, unlike the original, this is meant more as a month-long "special booster" to help calm and fortify skin that has become stressed and fragile due to weather changes, traveling, stress, infra-red radiation, UVA rays and pollution.

And since skin inflammation is directly related to DNA and collagen damage, I'm a huge fan of anti-inflammatory skincare products and ingredients. I have been struggling with sensitive flare-ups recently, partly due to stress, partly due to starting birth control pills, and partly due to testing strong products, so my skin was totally ready for some TLC when this bottle landed in my hands.

The package is pretty interesting in itself. 

You get a disposable cap which contains a tube filled with concentrated actives including:
  • Vitamin E - blocks free-radicals, anti-aging
  • Ferulic Acid - amplifies and prolongs the effectiveness of antioxidants like Vit E
  • Arginine - hydrating, circulation-boosting
  • Cornflower extract - anti-inflammatory, soothing, rich in anti-oxidants like polyphenols

Twist it as instructed, and the blue tube breaks like a light stick, releasing the fresh actives into the clear serum base, which isn't just some basic hydrating filler either. It contains a load of skincare ingredients including 
  • Probiotics - skin balancing, anti-inflammatory
  • Centella Asiatica - soothing and repair-boosting
  • Faex extract - anti-inflammatory and antioxidant yeast extract, full of Vit Bs
  • Adenosine - wrinkly-fighting, hydrating
  • Pineapple extract and Papain - gentle exfoliating fruit enzymes

Oddly satisfying view when you've just "popped" a fresh bottle of Advanced Genifique Sensitive
Give it a good shake, swap in the dropper cap, and your bottle of Advanced Genifique Sensitive Dual Concentrate turns to a cloudy serum which is now ready for use. A single press of the dropper button should dispense a measured dose which is sufficient for the face and neck.

You can apply it once a day at night, after toner and before other skincare, but I would suggest skipping harsh or sensitizing products (like Retin A for example) while using this, just so you can maximize the benefits of this soothing concentrate.

I personally like applying this in the day, under my usual lotions and potions, before makeup. I don't use strong products in the morning just before stepping out anyway, and it's a great time to calm and reinforce your skin with loads of antioxidants before it is exposed to environmental aggressors.

After about 2 weeks of use, my skin felt less reactive to sun exposure in the noon when I trek 5-10 mins out for lunch (I usually experience some tingling and prickling in the sun, followed by dehydration from the heat and sweating once I return to the air-conditioned office). When I got a few small hormonal clogs around my jaw or lower cheek area due to PMS, they were quite mild and pretty much went away overnight.

Overall, my skin seems better able to retain moisture, and dehydration lines on my forehead and neck are not as visible.

An unexpected observation while using Advanced Genifique Sensitive was that my makeup lasted better, because my skin was better-behaved through the day. I'm more "normal", less oily in oily areas, less dry in dry areas. Even with the weather swinging between muggish and hot, to wet and rainy, to stifling and hazy, most of the foundations I wore seemed to sit better longer through the day. I even started skipping setting powder on some mornings.

Minimal skin cover-up; Lancome Mat Miracle foundation and l'Absolu Rouge198 Rouge Flamboyant
While brightening and evening the skin tone is not one of the listed benefits, I feel this concentrate helped my skin look more translucent and even-toned after a few weeks of use. (I have not been using any brightening serum since I started on this) It could be the protective anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory agents preventing and repairing daily sun damage, or the enzymes improving cell turnover. Either way, I like how everything is looking and feeling right now and can get away with minimal concealing.

You are supposed to use up the bottle in 2 months, because that's when you reap the most benefits from the fresh actives, so don't try to skimp and use it every few days just to make it last a few more months. If you're investing in something like this, use it properly. In fact, if you're preparing for a big day or your skin is being subjected to a lot of stress (e.g. adjusting to a different climate), I would even suggest using this twice-daily for a couple of weeks.

One very minor con for me is the synthetic coloring in the blue concentrate, but it doesn't cause me any concern and doesn't leave noticeable color on skin. (I expect it's there so you get that dramatic view of the cobalt blue swirling through the clear base.) Unless you have a specific sensitivity to colorants, I wouldn't worry too much about it. Just avoid ingesting it or touching it directly to your eyes. The base does also contain T-Butyl Alcohol, but that's a solvent necessary for some of the ingredients to liquefy and blend together properly, so that's not a big deal for me either. 

If you're keen to try Advanced Genifique Sensitive for yourself, Lancome has free 7-day trial kits with a complementary 15-minute renewal service in Singapore.

Blue Concentrate:Dipropylene Glycol, Tocopherol, Ferulic Acid, Isopropyl Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Ci 60730 / Ext. Violet 2, Coco-Betaine, Arginine, Centaurea Cyanus Flower Water, Propanediol, Citric Acid, Water, Styrene/Acrylates Copolymer, Base Concentrate. 
Base:Water, Bifida Ferment Lysate, Glycerin, Propanediol, Betaine, Ananas Sativus Fruit Extract / Pineapple Fruit Extract, T-Butyl Alcohol, Lactobacillus Ferment, Tocopherol, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Madecassoside, Sodium Benzoate, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Sodium Succinate, Phenoxyethanol, Faex Extract / Yeast Extract, Adenosine, Caffeine, Ppg-6-Decyltetradeceth-30, Peg-32, Arginine, Chlorphenesin, Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Xanthan Gum, Pentylene Glycol, Leontopodium Alpinum Extract, Caprylyl Glycol, Papain, Disodium Edta, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Methionine, Glycine, Fragrance.