Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pink Aura: Smoky fuchsia, purple and grey look (Urban Decay 15 Year Anniversary Look #3)

This is a 3rd look created with the Urban Decay 15 Year Anniversary Eye Shadow Collection (I've getting my money's worth, dang it). I'm doing the "MAC Smoky Eye" with deeper shades at either corners, and the lightest color in the center of the lid. The overall look is colorful but soft and blended with no hard lines or edges.

The 3 shades used for this look are:
  1. Junkshow: duo-chrome satin fuchsia with blue sheen (MAC Stars n Rockets is higher-sheen but similar)
  2. Omen: duo-chrome medium satin-purple with blue sheen 
  3. Ace: Smoky metallic grey 
You don't need to use shades with exactly the same duochrome effects (although that would be fun). Matte and regular shimmer would work just as well. 

Step 1: Pack the bright pink shadow into the center of the lid and smoky gently up just above the socket line. When your eyes are open fully, you should see a bit of pink peeking above your eye lid fold.

Step 2: Pack the medium purple shade onto both sides of the pink, taking care to stop just short of the inner most and outermost corners. (The purple looks grey here due to the angle of the light. See bottom-most picture for the true shade.)

Step 3: With a pointed pencil brush, run a smoky grey shadow along the lower lash line, then pack into the outermost corners of the upper lid. With what is remaining on the brush, sweep gently inwards along the outer half of the socket line to sculpt the eye a little, and dab into the inner corners of eyes as well.
With a soft blending brush, blend out any harsh edges to the grey.

Step 4: At this point, if you've muddied up any of the colors, use your finger to gently dab more purple and pink onto the respective areas. This will intensify the color.
For a little extra oomph, I applied purple metallic pencil  to the waterline (you can use regular grey or black but that trace of purple is just much more interesting). Finish with black mascara!
Picture taken with flash

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Gift Idea #2: MAC Smoky Plum Crushed Metallic Pigment Dazzlesphere (Swatches and Review)

MAC Smoky Plum Dazzlesphere
My second suggestion as a cool gift this holiday season for any makeup lover who loves dramatic color. MAC's Dazzlespheres look like oversized tree ornaments, but what wowed me were the actual pigments contained within. Out of the 3 available Dazzlespheres (Temptalia has a good run-down of all 3), my choice was the Smoky Plum stack. 

I actually like all 3, but I didn't like all 4 colors in either of the other 2 sets so I gave them a miss. This doesn't mean you won't. If you love strong metallic pigments, definitely check these out in the stores before they sell out. (Smoky Berry is a mix of red, pink and neutrals, while the Smoky Blue set is a mix of deep indigo blue, white, slate-silver and sparkly black.)
Crushed Metallic Pigments clockwise from top left: Misty, Grape, Light Violet, Seasonally Cool

I'd say all 4 pigments perform quite well (some crushed metal pigments adhere poorly without a base)
Swatches (L-to-R): Misty, Seasonally Cool, Light Violet, and Grape
  • Misty: Bright silver metallic with a slight neutral undertone. This pigment is fine-grained with minimal sparkle/glitter, and sheers out quite well when blended. If you have deeper skin tone or find most true silvers too harsh, this might be a good one to check out as there is a slight beige undertone which makes it more flattering than other silvers. Can be worn sheer.
  • Seasonally Cool: I always love a beautiful brown neutral, especially when it has personality. Seasonally Cool is a sparkly, warm bronze-brown without any brassiness or green undertones. It's not grey enough to be a taupe, and the sparkles are quite multidimensional (think of MAC's Lip Gelees with their multicolored micro-sparkles). This can be worn sheer as a soft beautiful neutral wash or packed on for flattering drama. If you have very deep skin, this would make a wicked highlighter as well.
  • Light Violet: The most gritty of the bunch, Light Violet is a soft lilac made up of large, sparkly flecks. It's more chunky and hard to work with than the other pigments due to the texture, so a base would be needed if you want to increase its intensity and avoid fall-out. It can work as a sparkly highlighter, but I'd suggest applying it with your ring finger and gently smoothing it out to a light sparkly veil, as brushes do not pick this up well.
  • Grape: The most intense of the 4 shades, Grape is a deep true purple with just a hint of burgundy/wine undertones. Like Misty, it does not have sparkly bits, but its sheen is more muted than Misty. I'd call it a Pearl finish rather than Metallic. Definitely a dramatic shade that will look better when packed out as an intense smoky eye or worn as a liner. (Wearing it really sheer might make you look a bit bruised.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Urban Decay 15 Year Anniversary Look #2: Duo-color Purple and Brown Smoky Eye

This look was done using the below 2 shades, but feel free to use other shades that might be similar as these shades should be generally easy to substitute:
  • M.I.A.: Deep chocolate pearl (medium sheen)
  • Half Truth: Deep purple pearl (medium sheen)

The trick to choosing 2 shades for this type of look is to swatch them side by side on the back of your hand. If you can't easily tell which shade is darker, then they are a great pair for this type of look where you reverse the order on top and bottom lids. (If one shade is noticeably lighter, it will look less flattering either on the top of bottom lash line when you wear the darker shade on the inside.)

Step 1: Pack the rich chocolate brown onto the inner halves of the upper lids, and run along the outer halves of the lower lash line as well (opposite ends).

Step 2: With the purple shadow, pack onto the outer halves of your lid, and run along the inner halves of the lower lash line as well. (You can reverse the order of the shadows. I just recommend using the more "interesting" color on the outer halves of the upper lids as that section will draw more attention overall, but you'll have to be the judge as to which color is more interesting to you!)

Step 3: Bring the purple out past your socket line at the outer corners, but not into a dramatic wing.
Then smoke out the socket line with a fluffier brush so there are no hard edges, but do not blend on the center of the lid itself as you will muddy up the colors.

Step 4: I ran a matching purple and brown metallic pencil (Bourjois Metallise has great shades) lightly along the upper and lower lash lines (corresponding with the shadow shade in that section) just to intensify the color at the lash line. This step is actually optional.
Then I curled my lashes and applied black mascara to finish.

Blending to smoke out the edges takes just a bit of time, but otherwise, the whole look is extremely easy to create and more interesting than a basic smoky eye.

Other Products Used:

  • Foundation: Clinique Repairwear Laser Focus All Smooth Makeup #04 M-G for Dry skins (one of a list of foundations I'm currently reviewing)
  • Concealer: MAC Studio Finish Concealer NC25
  • Maybelline Eyestudio Brown Pencil

Monday, November 21, 2011

Holiday Look: Molten Metal

What happens when you layer gloss over a high-sheen metallic? I decided to find out.
For this look, I picked one of the creamiest and densest metallic shadows around, The Body Shop's single eye shadow in #45, which is to this day one of the most intense deep-silver shadows I've ever come across, considering that it is not a cream formula.

Step 1: To prep the lids, I lined my upper lash line with a thick swatch of black shadow for some soft definition. Because I'm applying gloss over my lids later, powder or pencil formulas are more suitable than liquid liners.

Step 2: Pack the silver shadow gently over the entire lids, going into the inner corners a little just for a bit of a twist.

Step 3: I applied matte yellow liner to the waterline, and then popped on false lashes. I love Eylure's (Miss Eylure range) Olivia lashes. Mascara on the bottom lashes will complete the look.

Step 4: You can stop at Step 3, but if you really want to go to town with it, and don't mind the look getting a bit messier over the day, dab a clear gloss onto the center of the lids, and gently pat outwards on both sides.Try to keep it off your lashes as much as possible.

Step 5: I applied a hot pink blush lightly to the cheeks (NYX Pinky) and magenta lipstick (Sephora #R11 is one of the creamiest and most beautiful) to the lips. The eyes are strong but not extremely colorful, so I just wanted to make the look just a bit edgier by going for a strong lip instead of the expected nude.

Other products used:

  • Foundation: Lancome Teint Miracle O-03 (I'm test-trying a sample over this week)
  • MAC Studio Finish Concealer in NC30
  • HD powder
  • Brows: Maybelline Eye Studio Eyebrow pencil  (There's no name or number on the pencil - it's the grey-brown shade which is perfect for dark hair)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Holiday Gift Idea #1: Urban Decay 15 Year Anniversary Eyeshadow Collection Swatches and Review

Am going to randomly post about products that I think make really fabulous gifts for makeup fanatics.
The first of these is the Urban Decay 15 Year Anniversary Eyeshadow Collection.

The great thing about this collection of 15 intense shades is that they are all completely original. These are not a compilation of "best-selling" shades from the regular lines. The bad thing of course, is that they will not be available after this limited edition collection sells out.

That aside, I've only had time to swatch these, and I must say I'm impressed with pretty much ALL the colors. I prefer to group them by column, as they seem to be positioned by theme. 

15 Year Anniversary Collection Column 1
The first column on the left is a compilation of lighter neutrals with a trace of warmth. Very wearable and versatile. The whole row is metallic. Colors go from L-to-R.
  • Midnight Rodeo: Soft beige-bronze metallic with gold glitter
  • Midnight 15: Beige metallic with silver shift and gold glitter
  • Vanilla: Pearl with pale yellow-gold shift (yes, MAC Vanilla pigment dupe)
  • Flow: Cool peachy beige metallic
  • Chase: Golden-bronze beige metallic
15 Year Anniversary Collection Column 2

Column 2 in the center of the kit is a collection of strong, cool-toned shades that can give quite a bit of drama to your look. 
  • Tainted: Soft satin-matte mauve with pale gold glimmer (the sheen is barely visible when applied)
  • Junkshow: Fuchsia pearl with blue shift
  • Omen: Violet metallic with blue shift 
  • Evidence: Deep, dark navy (Goes on a little like MAC Blue Storm pigment)
  • Deep End: Metallic teal (MAC Steamy lookalike)

15 Year Anniversary Collection Column 3
 Column 3 is another standout column composed of deep, smoky shades, and the only true matte in the palette. Colors from left to right:
  • Deeper: Deep Bronze Brown metallic (similar to MAC's discontinued Brass pigment)
  • M.I.A.: Deep, dark cocoa pearl 
  • Ace: Black with a metallic teal-grey shift
  • Blackout: True, matte black
  • Half Truth: Smoky eggplant purple with violet shift

The colors are extremely pigmented and very soft. (I actually dropped my palette right after I purchased it, and shattered one of the shadows. The very kind SA at Sephora actually got me a new one on the spot even though it was my fault.)
If you like rich, strong colors with intense pay off, Urban Decay is one of the best brands to go to.
I love that these shadows are all new, and the quality is outstanding, although it's not the cheapest thing around. 
The combination of shades is also lovely, and I like how they are sorted into soft neutrals, strong cool colors, and deeps. I'll definitely be doing a series of looks using this kit, so watch out for that!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Butterfly: Strong purple and blue winged smoky eye (88 matte palette)

This isn't a butterfly makeup look. It's just that the blue reminds me of butterflies' wings. The makeup itself is a standard smoky cat-eye that is flattering on most eye shapes, and the lips and cheeks are kept a pale luminous pink to stand up to the strong, matte eyes.

Step 1: Apply a good base on your lids, and then pack on a strong matte blue shadow on the inner half of upper lids, and along the inner half of the lower lashes as well. 

Step 2: Repeat with a strong, matte purple on the outer halves.

Step 3: Important step. Smoke the edges out into a smoky wing, past the outer corners of the eyes.

Step 4: Add definition by packing a matte black along the upper lash line as liner.

Step 5: Apply black mascara on top and bottom lashes to finish the eye look.

On the rest of the face:
  • Use a soft eyeshadow blending brush to apply pale pink shimmer to the brow bones and cheekbones, then apply a pink blush normally. I used MAC Porcelain Pink for highlights and NYX Pinky on the cheeks
  • Apply a pale baby pink lipstick lightly (Barry M Baby Pink #100), and top with a shimmery pink gloss (MAC Cha Cha Lipglass)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Metallic Blue Double-Winged Liner

Double-winged liner simply refers to a look where the top and bottom lines split apart at the outer corners instead of coming together, following the eye shape. It's not hard to do if you've learned how to do a wing.
  • Use gel/pot liner and a very small, flat, firm brush. Liquid liner is a good deal harder to control if you're not well-practised at it, ESPECIALLY on the lower lash line.
  • As you draw the Line from inner corners out, stop before you reach the outer corners of your eyes, point the brush the other way, and draw the flick from the outside in to connect with the rest of the line. (Same with the bottom lash line.) This also makes it easier to ensure both eyes are as symmetrical as possible, as you can better gauge where the end of the flick is going to be.

In most cases, I don't recommend pairing double-wings with a full-on eye shadow look as it detracts from the  lines, and can look like a bit too much. Below, I'm keeping the lids very clean and subtle as I wanted to use a metallic blue instead of the usual black liner. Feel free to use whatever colors you like.

Step 1: Apply a soft taupe brown to outer V of your sockets for definition, and then a matte beige to the rest of the lids, gently smoking out the deeper brown at the socket line so it's subtle. I am using just matte shades.

Step 2: With a metallic navy gel liner (you can use any other metallic gel liner), draw the upper liner from inside outwards about 3/4 of the way, and then draw the flick from outside in, after deciding where it's going to end. (If in doubt, don't go too far up and out. It's easier to extend it out further than to try and clean it off.) The outer halves of the liner should be thick, so pull your brush almost straight inwards from the end of the flick.

Step 3: Repeat on the lower lash line. The only difference is that the line sits on the waterline, does not go out as far as the upper line, and the flick goes straight out rather than pointing up or down.  (Drawing on the lashes themselves or below them can result in a smudgy, imprecise line as your lashes get in the way.)
If there are any mistakes (and I sometimes get a lot), just get a Q-tip and drag it below the liner to clean up.

Step 4: Curl lashes and apply mascara. You may need to go over the liner again in case the curler rubbed off any of it. The line should be very opaque and intense.

Step 5: After applying a soft pink blush, I applied a translucent pale blue shimmer (try MAC Reflects Transparent pigments or glitters) onto brow bones and cheekbones, for an opalescent glow.

Finish with soft shimmery pink lips. (I used NYX Jupiter, a frosted pink, topped with Revlon Pink Pursuit lipgloss.)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Tips and Tricks: How I clear clogged pores

If you've ever stood for a full 15 minutes, your face an inch from the mirror, furiously squeezing out oil plugs from your congested pores, and felt some masochistic satisfaction despite ending up with red, inflamed skin, you're just one of the millions of us who struggle to remove or at least reduce the appearance of black heads.

Oil plugs (what black heads really are) are simply a mixture of oils and dead skin cells from your face. Since regular washing does not reach adequately INTO your pores (no matter what the advertisements tell you), the oil and dead cell mixture accumulates over time and compacts into hardened oil plugs. As the oil continues to accumulate, you will often start to see visible bumps on the surface of your skin. These aren't infected and don't hurt, but they annoy me to no end, since squeezing can often make things worse, when I end up inflaming the skin, or transferring bacteria from fingers.

So recently, I've stumbled upon a different way of doing it, sans redness, swelling, reactive zits, or pain. You only need two products that should be quite commonly available and no tools whatsoever, so it will not break the bank. It also does not take a whole lot of time to complete, lasts as well as a professional facial, and is simple enough to do once or twice a week.

  • I'd be lying if I said it gets rid of clogged pores 100%, but it works more thoroughly and gently than picking at them one by one. 
  • This is not an acne treatment. It gets rid of oil plugs, not acne bacteria. It will not cure acne, even though I recommend it as part of your regular routine to start unplugging more pores before they get infected.
  • The products I use are generally available and not harmful to the skin, but please avoid if you have extremely sensitive skin or are unable to tolerate salicylic acid products.

Garnier Pure SOS Blemish Clear Pen, and Etude House Black Head Off Oil EX

  1. A salicylic acid spot treatment (I'm using a regular blemish gel from Garnier)
  2. A cleansing oil (the sort that is used for removing makeup, and emulsifies in water. It's extremely common in Asia, but in the West, I'm not sure about availability outside of brands such as MAC and Shu Uemura.)
  3. Pan of hot water and a towel, or a face steamer*
  1. Apply the salicylic acid treatment all over the areas where you are prone to get oily and congested. For me that is around my nose, the inner cheek area beside the nose, and the chin area. 
  2. For the next 30minutes, you can gently steam your face to get it moist and warm. (The better way is actually to work out for half an hour while you let the salicylic acid do its work!)
  3. Dry off your face very gently with a sheet of tissue, and then apply the cleansing oil to your skin.
  4. For the next 10 minutes, press your fingertips firmly into your skin and rub in brisk circles, like you are buffing your face. The oil helps to cushion and lubricate your skin to reduce any friction or irritation, but don't drag your skin unduly anyway. 
  5. If you've done step 1 and 2 well, you should start to feel the first little "grains" under your fingers in about a minute or two, as the oil plugs start to loosen and come out. 
  6. Keep going for another few minutes, and then switch the direction of the circles you are drawing until more plugs come out.
  7. Rinse with cool (not cold) water and then finish with a normal foaming cleanser to remove the last bits of oil from your skin if you're oily-to-normal. If you have dry skin, you can skip the foam.
  1. Salicylic acid is an acid that can actually penetrate into your pores to clean out the inside surface. It can help to loosen oil plugs. (Hence, it's actually a better preventive tool than a treatment after zits form, but I digress.) The problem with salicylic acid is that most of us don't realise that while it can loosen plugs and exfoliate the surface of your skin to reduce the look of blackheads, it can't actually get them out of your skin without a little extra help. 
  2. Working up a light sweat after you apply the salicylic acid product seems to accelerate its work a fair bit because your pores are open, and the sweat and sebum coming out helps it to stay active in there. I'd say sweat is better than steam in this case, because salicylic acid is lipid-soluble, and the oils in your sweat will help it to "spread" and sink into your pores better.
  3. Remember one thing: Oil dissolves oil. After you've loosened up the plugs a little, you need to really work an oil-based cleanser into your skin to do the final job of dislodging some of them. The small circular motions actually massage and help to roll the loosened plugs out of your pores in the gentlest possible way without dragging your skin. Experiment a little to see what motions work best for you, as our pores are all structured slightly differently. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Simple, neutral kitten-eye with soft pink lips and cheeks

I've been into glowing, barely-there cheeks recently, and you can pair it with both dark makeup, as well as softer ones. 

This time around I'm matching it with a simple, soft neutral eye and soft, cool-pink lips.

Step 1: Pack a shimmery ivory-beige shade to the inner 3/4 of the lid, leaving the outermost corner empty.

Step 2: With a taupe brown (e.g. MAC Satin Taupe) and a small pointed brush, draw in the outer V, and deepen the socket line up to the center. Blend out with a soft blending brush so there are no harsh lines.

Step 3: Apply black liquid liner and angle upwards slightly in a flick. (If you find it hard to draw from the eye outwards, then try the reverse. Hold the brush horizontally, set the tip down on the outermost point where you want the flick to end, and gently pull the brush INWARDS to meet the main part of your eye liner.)
Line your waterline (lower lid) with a pale matte yellow or beige pencil to widen your eyes.

Step 4: Lashes make a lot of difference for this look since it's so simple. You can leave it out for the day, but I know a lot of girls who will just wear super-dramatic lashes to work anyway.
I chose spiky, separated lashes that are longest at the outer corners, and applied black mascara to the lower lash line.

The rest of the face:
  • MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural in Dark (light contouring)
  • MAC Mineralize Skinfinish in Porcelain Pink
  • NYX Paris lipstick

Monday, November 7, 2011

Easy Bronze-Liner Look: Feat. MAC Snow Season (Glitter and Ice Collection)

I didn't go crazy over MAC's Snow Season collection. I do think there are some really nice products (the Paint Pots and the shadows are all beautiful, but I don't think they are spectacular or particularly unique unless you don't have anything similar to those.)

I have to say I think Shimmermint is a gorgeous shadow, but I can mix up something similar with some pigments and micas, so I didn't get that. The only thing I did pick up was the Mineralize Eye Shadow in Snow Season, which is the most "neutral" shade out of the eye shadows I saw. 

In the pan, MAC Snow Season looks like an opalescent pink-silver, swirled through with bronze and tiny pale gold flecks. Rubbed on, it softens out to a very soft glimmery beige with ivory-mauve tones (below). As always, the camera does not do these Mineralize products justice, so do keep in mind that they tend not to do too well in photography. 

Swatches (L-to-R): MAC Retrospeck, MAC Da Bling, MAC Ricepaper, MAC Snow Season, and Stage Makeup Irish Cream

Texture-wise, Snow Season is (and most of the other Mineralize shadows are) very similar to Luster shadows in that they are filled with lots of fine-grained mineral flakes that give it that translucent, glittery effect. In terms of opacity and true payoff they are seldom as strong as the regular shadows, unless used wet. The bad thing is that if you want intensity, you need to use a good base or mixing medium. The good thing is, you can get a soft glimmering wash without worrying about over-applying. 
For this weekend eye, I wanted to keep things very clean and bright, but still get a defined eye without having to do a lot of contouring and layering of colors.
All I used was:
  • Sephora Flashy Liner in 07 Flashy Copper
  • MAC Snow Season Mineralize Shadow
  • Bourjois Liner Pinceau 16Hr in black
  • Bourjois Volume Glamour Max Mascara in black

Step 1: Use the copper liner to draw a simple line along the upper lash line, keeping it thick enough to be visible. At the outer corners, thicken up just a bit and then pull upwards in a flick, like a normal kitten eye.

Step 2: With the pencil, draw a line from the center of the SOCKET line outwards, to connect with the end of the flick. (Find it by feeling for the deepest part of your socket, between your eyes and your brows.) With a finger, gently smudge away the innermost portion of that socket liner so it looks like it "fades" into your crease, instead of ending abruptly.
Line your waterline as well.

Step 3: Apply a simple wash of pale shimmer to the lids, blending into the socket liner (but not covering the outer ends of the bronze liner. If you want to keep the look strong, reapply bronze pencil.

The finished look at this point should be a defined crease liner in a beautiful shade of coppery-bronze, with a soft wash of beige on the lids.

Step 4: Finish with black mascara (curl your lashes first), and black liquid liner on the tide line (under your upper lashes) for definition.

And you're done!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Emerald-Encrusted: Dramatic Green Glitter Eye

I wanted to do more dramatic glitter eyes, so this time round, I went for a deep forest green micro-glitter. 

The effect you want is a really "gem-encrusted" finish over the lids, and I'm not going to lie; it's not exactly comfortable to wear once the sealant dries. It will be a bit hard to open your eyes wide, which is the reason I shaped the eye to look a little "lazy".
Step 1: Using a cut-crease technique with a black eye shadow and a fine, pointed brush, draw a line along the hollow of the socket, stopping before you reach the outer and inner corners of the eye, so there is a gap. 
Run along the outer half of the lower lash line as well.
Step 2: Dampen your lid with a glitter sealant (you can get some from L.A. Splash, Napoleon Perdis, clear mascara, or mix your own), and then use your finger to pack on a thick layer of glitter. Press so the flecks are evenly distributed. You will probably have to over-apply in about 1-2 layers, and dust off the excess.
Fingers will work much better than brushes.
The black shadow at your socket line should look almost like a subtle shadow rather than an obvious line, by this point.
Step 3: Curl your lashes and apply full false lashes over them. I chose a pair that is longer at the outer ends. By this time, your lids should be dry and will feel a little "stiff". Finish with black mascara on the bottom lashes.
Finished Look: The lazy, dramatic, exaggeratedly-rounded emerald eye (with flash). This look can be used for both double and monolids.

On the rest of the face, I applied a fresh pink blush (NYX Pinky), and a muted blush-nude lip (MAC Faux Satin Lipstick). The eye is so dramatic that you probably want to give glitter and gloss a miss on the rest of the face.