Saturday, January 31, 2015

NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation - First Impressions

Unlike many of the other luxe brands, NARS isn't one to push out a new foundation every year or so.

But they've recently jumped on what I like to call the "liquid ink foundation" bandwagon a la Armani Maestro, Chanel Perfection Lumiere Velvet, Laura Mercier Smooth Finish, YSL Le Teint Encre Peau (and many more brands), with a line of foundations that marry an ultra-light almost "watery" texture with very high coverage.

NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation texture
Unlike NARS' other staples, Sheer Glow and Sheer Matte, the new All Day foundation comes with a pump that's designed to give you just the right amount of product in a single pump.

I know girls these days like to really load on the foundation, but in this case, if you're using more than a pump, you are either applying way too much, or your brush/sponge is sucking everything up.

The recommended method for application is to tap (not rub) it on with your clean fingers, which is my favorite method for getting a seamless, air-brushed finish anyway.

NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation coverage

The reason one pump should be enough for most cases is that it has a lot of coverage.

What the foundation does not cover in one pump, you should be using a proper concealer to cover. (And this is true for all foundations in general.)

It's got slightly more coverage than many of the other "liquid ink" foundation options, similar - or possibly even slightly higher than Laura Mercier's Smooth Finish Flawless Fluid, which is more of a dewy option.


On its own, this foundation has a natural velvety matte finish (somewhat similar to Chanel Perfection Lumiere or YSL Le Teint Encre Peau), so I reckon it would work better on slightly oilier skins than very dry skins. But I daresay most skins can get away with using this depending on what you apply beneath. I applied the foundation over very moisturized skin (I have dry skin), so it ended up with quite a lot of sheen even though it doesn't slide around and smear. Similar to Chanel Perfection Lumiere Velvet, the NARS All Day foundation does take on a similar finish to whatever you've applied beneath.

This is because unlike old-school matte formulas, these lightweight silicone based foundations don't actually contain a lot of powdery fillers like titanium dioxide and talc, so it does not have that heavy unnatural built-up matte texture. BUT this also means that if you have a lot of texture flaws (scars, acne, etc) this type of foundation won't be able to mask the uneven surface as well as a heavier thicker textured formula.

NARS All Day foundation on the skin

As you can see above, the coverage of the foundation is enough that it can reduce or actually do away with concealer application for most minor flaws. However, it's not opaque of course. I still need a tiny bit more concealing on old acne scars. Which is what I want anyway. Skin should still look like skin if you can get away with it.

But overall, it does give a very much more perfected look while doing a great job of looking natural.

Lasting Power

The foundation does set very quickly, and I haven't had problems with it oxidizing on my skin through a 12 hour day, although it did fade slightly towards the end. I'd say this lasts better than most of the other liquid ink foundations I've tried, although Chanel is probably equally good in this regard.

Of course, everyone's skin chemistry and skincare regime is different, so I'd request for a sample or try it on in the store and let it sit for at least half a day before you decide. 

YSL Black Opium Eau de Parfum Review

The original YSL Opium perfume was launched to great fanfare and controversy in 1977. And it's a spice-bomb of a scent, laden with incense, coriander, citrus, pepper, cloves, bay, jasmine, carnation, patchouli, cinnamon, orris root, peach, lily, rose, labdanum, tolu balsam, opopanax, vanilla, and tons of other ingredients. It's a complex fragrance that wraps around you like a boa constrictor, and you really need a certain personality to pull it off.

Even the watered-down modern incarnation is still extremely strong and heavy by current standards, and even though I consider myself adventurous as far as scents go, it's still not a perfume I can really wear.

YSL Belle d'Opium and Opium Vapeurs de Parfum

The brand has launched several variations in the last few years, including notable releases such as Belle d'Opium and Opium Vapeurs de Parfum. Each successive Opium has been much softer and more mainstream than the original, to the extent that I can't really say any of them even resemble the original at all.

  • Belle d'Opium is a tobacco- and patchouli-centered, with a smoky herbal sweetness. Like a beautiful girl lying in a harem smoking a hookah.
  • Opium Vapeurs de Parfum is a very translucent, mildly spicy pink-pepper and amber scent. More like a trace of soft oriental incense lingering in a boudoir.

Black Opium is the newest of the lot, and unlike all its big sisters, it doesn't have any trace of that enigmatic exoticism in its DNA at all. In fact, I feel YSL just decided it had to create an accessible new perfume to appeal to the younger masses, and decided to place it under the "Opium" franchise simply to add the impression of edginess that the scent actually lacks.

For some that's bad news.
What's an Opium that's not exotic??!

YSL Black Opium eau de parfum
On the other hand, it's a lot more generally accessible and I daresay will sell a lot better than most of the other Opiums. 

Despite the fact that the official press notes claim this is a rock'n'roll, dark, and mysterious interpretation, with dark coffee a major note, it really isn't.

This is a candied vanilla-jasmine with maybe a trace of sweet coffee (more a vanilla latte than gourmet black coffee). The pink pepper, cedar and even the patchouli - which is in all of the Opiums - are not even all that apparent.

If you like sweet warm girl-next-door scents like Katy Perry Meow, Taylor Swift Incredible Things, or Jessica Simpson Fancy, I daresay you will like this quite a lot. I do actually own all of the above listed scents, and I also wear Black Opium quite often because it's so gosh-darned easy to enjoy even when I'm pottering around the house. 

But it's FOR SURE not a scent I wear when I want to feel chic. And it's certainly not something I'd reach for if I want to feel mysterious and grown-up. If you're looking for complexity, mystery, and exoticism, look elsewhere!

LANEIGE Collagen Drink

Following on the Asian craze for skin tonics and collagen supplements, Korean powerhouse LANEIGE will be launching their own once-a-day Collagen Drink in Singapore on 31 March 2015, which contains 5000mg of marine collagen peptide, which is exactly the amount of collagen the average person metabolizes and needs to replenish daily. 

Collagen is necessary for maintenance of skin, hair, nails, joints, mucus membranes, and even our bones, and after the age of 25, our ability to generate collagen starts to deteriorate, which is why our skin starts to dull and sag, our hair becomes less lustrous and lush, and we also eventually start to experience joint pain and arthritis as we get older.

But just taking collagen supplements aren't always helpful. Many formulas aren't synthesized efficiently by the body after consumption, and our bodies just digest and burn them as expensive sources of energy, which is why I've always hesitated to try them.

The newer generation of supplements seem to have many of these concerns in mind though. LANEIGE's collagen peptide is synthesized from tilapia fish, which has a lower molecular weight than other sources. This is meant to enhance absorption and synthesis. While you can technically eat tilapia regularly for skin benefits, most of us are unlikely to eat a whole fish daily. (1 bottle of this Collagen Drink contains the collagen peptide found in an entire fish).

Besides collagen, the formula also contains: 
  • elastin extracted from bonito fish to improve elasticity and radiance
  • Vitamin C from Italian oranges and pomegranate extract, which is critical for collagen synthesis (if you lack vit C, it doesn't matter how much collagen you consume), and also other repair functions in the body
The formula is also free of artificial coloring, preservatives, and sugar, and each bottle contains just 25 calories of pure protein, so you don't need to worry about it impacting your diet.

It's also easy to stash a little bottle in your bag when you're out, although it's recommended that you consume this at night. There's only about a mouthful or two of liquid in each serving, and the generic fruit flavor makes it easy to mix in your juices. I actually find it a tad too saccharine sweet, so if you're in the habit of making your own veggie or fruit juices, it might be a good idea to mix everything in.

The only catch is each box of 10 will not come cheap, and is priced at SGD52, so it's really up to your discretion whether you want to drink it daily or take 3-4 bottles a week as a boost to your regular diet.

Friday, January 30, 2015

My Fledgling NARS Eyeshadow Duo Obsession

NARS Alhambra and Habanera swatches
 I have a bit of an obsession with NARS eyeshadow duos. Well - not all, but several of them.
Especially the neutrals and metallics.

My most recent acquisitions are Alhambra (soft apricot-gold beiges) and Habanera (silver-sage and -charcoal-plum).

NARS Eye Shadow Duos in Alhambra (left) and Habanera (right)
Now, many people criticize them for often not being wearable together. E.g. 2 of my absolute faves are Cordura and Kalahari (below), or Isolde - another one of my faves - and the colors are close enough that if you wore them both on the lids, you might not see a huge difference.

Well, compared to typical duos which are designed to be worn together, I see NARS duos as "themed colors". They may or may not work together, but it's a theme. I.e. if you like the left shade in Kalahari, you'll probably also want to own a shade like the one on the right. So they give you both together, even if you wear them separately.

My recommendation is to see them all as single NARS shadows in a more economical format. This opens up your options. I'd pair any of the shades in Alhambra with the dark prune color in Habanera. And I'd wear the silver-sage green in Habanera with any other dark shade from any other palette.

Anyone have a similar weakness for these?