Monday, July 30, 2012

How many Uses or Applications can I get out of a jar of pigment or a pan of eye shadow?

This is a really hard question to answer because our lid sizes, eye shapes, application techniques, brushes, and shadow formulations differ.
I decided to do a little snooping anyway. 
This is by no means scientific, but it's a fun (and hopefully informative) FYI for you!

The Equipment:
  • Micro-scale (measures down to 0.01g)
  • The Body Shop Eye shadow brush (found the most "medium" brush I could; medium length 1.5cm/0.6" bristles, medium-softness or -spread so it's not extremely fluffy or packed)
  • 0.22g of loose pigment (0.02g as buffer for "fallouts" and debris in the brush). Typically, 1.5g of pressed shadow should last you longer than 1.5g of loose pigment.
  • Silicone oil to prime my skin surface
  • Cotton pads and makeup remover

Each "Application":
  • I wanted to make sure my applications were "generous", so each "application" (covering two lids) was represented by approximately 2.5" x 0.7" strip of skin.
  • I had to assume this would be equal to or greater than the average person's lid space, from lash-to-brow, of both lids combined.
  • The shadow is applied as a wash, over silicone-oil primed skin, in order to maximise pigment adherence from the brush. Again, this should mean I am applying equal amounts of or more pigment than the average person would typically. 
  • I allowed fallout and drop-off of pigments because this is typical of the average application. 
  • I did a manual count using a notepad, to see how many times I could repeat the application before depleting the 0.2g of pigment.
The results?

0.2g (0.007oz) of powder pigments would give you at least 24 full applications typically. This is not bad at all because if you are like most people and apply your shadows or pigments only to your eyes, instead of all over your face, cheekbones, shoulders, body, etc, you will get quite a lot of uses out of your product.
  • This means 1g of powder can give you 120 applications and a typical 1.5g pan of shadow can last you about 180 applications (6 months of once-daily use) depending on how you use it.
  • L'oreal Infallible Coleur Shadows should be able to give you about 420 applications because of how densely packed the 3.5g of pigments are, though it might LOOK a lot smaller compared to a MAC jar.
  • 4.5g of pigment in a MAC's new jars can give you about 540 applications. This means it should least you for about 1.48 years of daily use unless you have tons of fallout during application.
  • 7.5g of pigment in the old MAC pigment jars, however, can give you around 900 applications, so that's the reason why so few people ever seem to finish their old jars.

Important Disclaimers:
  1. If you are using a very fluffy brush like a MAC 217 or 224 versus a flatter brush, you will tend to "lose" more product because the bristles are designed for blending and sheering out (i.e. pick up and dust off). If you want a lot of color intensity, instead of applying layers and layers of shadow, wear a good primer so the first coat of pigment goes on and stays on.
  2. If you are using a very matte or very glittery shadow or pigment, you will "lose" more product to your brush bristles and to fall-out, because matte shadows don't tend to adhere as well to the skin as metallics and pearls.
  3. Please remember that powders vary in texture and weight. Some finer powders will settle and be packed densely, which is why some MAC pigments might look only 1/2 full when they are new. A dense pigment will still give you as many applications as a looser one, so don't worry over-much about the container not being "full".
  4. This whole experiment was done in good fun, and because this is something I've been wondering about for years. Findings are approximate and may not be representative of everyone. Individual results will definitely vary based on the above 3 points!

For Buyers Online:
  1. For those of you buying samples, note that most sellers sell by volume (quarter-teaspoon for example) rather than weight. If you're getting a more sparkly, gritty pigment like MAC Rose, you WILL be getting less product by weight than a 1/4 tsp of dense pigment like Copper Metal, Rose Gold, etc.
  2. If you are buying anything in pressed form, the difference will usually be negligible between shades and textures (as long as they are well-pressed).
  3. Is it better to purchase pigments by weight or by volume? It's hard to make a call because you may not know the texture/density a pigment is going to be beforehand.  In general, if you are buying something very glittery and fluffy (e.g. Kitchmas, Blue Brown, Green Brown, Copper Sparkle, Rose, Naked pigments for example), go by weight or opt to buy them in pressed form. If you are buying something that is very metallic and dense (More fine-grained pigments like Silver Metal, Copper Metal, etc) go by volume (spoon sizes, jar sizes etc).

The fairest and most consistent way to buy and sell loose pigments is to go by weight because that is how the raw ingredients are costed for. Unfortunately, it's easier and cheaper to buy a measuring spoon than it is to get a digital micro-scale,  so most sellers continue to sell by volume instead of weight.

Silver Smoke: MAC Electra

I think every makeup collector should "shop their own stash" once in awhile, as a way of rediscovering and digging out items that they have forgotten.

Electra was one of the very first shadows I ever bought from MAC (along with Vex) and my first pan has been with me years and years because I've worn it probably less than 10 times.

It's a steely silver that has enough depth and sheen to still look dimensional when worn alone on the lids, while playing well with other colors. The main reason I haven't used this much in the past is probably because it's not exactly a subtle shade to wear on a daily basis. 

Beautiful it certainly is though.

Classic smoky eye shades (L-to-R): MAC Carbon, Knight Divine and Electra

I'm bringing out the sheen and texture by pairing it with a matte black and a darker charcoal grey. If you have any silver-grey-black palette you will be able to recreate this look. (Maybelline Charcoal Smokes and L'oreal Blackened Smokes would both work. Just avoid picking any silver that is too white/platinum unless you are extremely fair-skinned.)

Step 1: First apply black cream shadow or base over your entire lid and along the lower lash line as well. This is a step that can help to intensify the whole look. If you don't have black cream shadow, just use black pencil or kajal to get the same look.

Step 2: Begin by packing the bright silver shade over the inner 2/3 of the lid, leaving just the outer corner and socket area dark.

Step 3: Using a dark charcoal grey (if you don't have anything this dark, mix a black with the silver you used earlier) and apply that in the outer corner and along the lower lash line where there isn't any silver shadow.

Step 4: Run black pencil or kajal along the inner rims of the lash line, and then use a flat angled brush to run black matte shadow along the upper lash line. This adds definition to the lash line. These 2 steps intensify the lash line without an overly-defined line that a pencil or liquid liner would give.

Step 5: Finish by curling your lashes and applying black mascara. If your silver shadow has faded a bit by now, you can always touch up a bit more. Make sure you add a little silver to the inner corner of the lower lash line as well.

Cheeks and Lips:
This look works fab with softer lips and cheeks like nudes or soft pinks and peaches. I'd just avoid anything overly metallic on the lips since you don't want to distract from the strong-textured eyes.

You CAN apply a strong red lip as well for a look that's a little more 70s/80s. Totally up to you!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Beauty Find: Stick Kajals / Khols

Shahnaz Husain Herbal Eye Kajal

For those who may not be aware, "kajal" (South Asian) is simply another word for "khol" (Arabic), an eye cosmetic used to darken the lids and lash line for centuries in parts of Asia and Africa, and heralds back to the Protodynastic periods of Egypt.

Besides being a beauty aid, it was believed to guard from harsh rays of the sun, had components that treated eye ailments, and was also used to "strengthen the eyes" and guard against evil spirits.

I personally LOVE khols and kajals for their abiilty to go on jet black, or smudge out to the perfectly-smudged "last-night's makeup" look, all the while retaining that slightly glossy, creamy finish. This is by far the best way to get that sexy, smoky under-eye. (Think of the divine Eva Green in Kingdom of Heaven and as Vesper Lynd in James Bond.) 

Premium brands like Guerlain have done their own exorbitant versions of it, but you can get great-quality products from for just a few dollars (Under $7 PLUS SHIPPING) from reputable sellers on eBay.
  • Good kajals should go on very smooth and build to a dense jet black in about 2 strokes/coats.
  • You should not notice any smell.
  • It should not contain any lead (lead sulfide) so make sure you get it from brands that specifically say "No Lead"

I previously first got into the traditional pyramid/lipstick-shaped kajals via a Limited Edition collection by The Body Shop a couple of years ago, and I loved it so much for the waterline and as a smudgy base that I bought a backup before they discontinued it. 

(Don't you hate how drugstores and high-street brands tend to create products, bring it in, discontinue it, bring it in, then discontinue it again?)

I have not tried the stick/applicator versions (a la L'oreal HiP khols), but I'd imagine kajal sticks will give you much more intensity as you're applying the product directly onto your skin instead of via an applicator.

  • These obviously can't be sharpened, and you shouldn't need to. 
  • You are supposed to use the sides rather than jab the very tip right into your eyes.
  • Press the kajal to the inner rim of your lower lids, with the tip pointed inwards toward your tear duct. Then close your eyes on the tip and gently pull the kajal outwards to the outer corners. This should place the color right along your lashes without poking your eye balls out.
  • This gives a messier, smudgier line than if you use just the tip for application, but you will be doing "self-sharpening" by using the sides.
  • As you get right down to the end of the tubes, you may need to start using a brush to apply the color (but these are so affordable that you might as well just get a new tube).
I'm no expert in terms of the many brands and options available from the Middle East and India, but one of the most accessible and reputable that I've heard of is Shahnaz Husain. They do not use any lead in their product, and include herbal extracts that are supposed to condition/treat your lashes and skin.

I can't verify the treatment claims, but so far, the kajal has performed exactly to expectations. It's rich, dark, smooth, and will be a splendid (and cheaper!) replacement for my Body Shop kajal. *Note that if you're in a very cold and dry climate, kajals, like any other cream product, may perform a little differently.

There are a few top-rated sellers on eBay selling Shahnaz Husain Herbal Eye Kajals for very good prices. Make sure you look for those who INCLUDE FREE SHIPPING in the cost. The total cost (as of mid-2012) should be under US$7 per tube.

Shahnaz Husain kajals come in plastic trays with foam wrapping to prevent shipping accidents, and should be sealed with a holographic brand sticker at the side, with date of manufacture and expiry printed on the bottom for quality assurance.

Each stick should stay good for about 3 years at least.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Twilight Fae: Dramatic Hologram Eyes

For those of you craving some excitement for Summer nights, here's a colorful and dramatic smoky eye which is actually pretty easy to create. To tone it down for day, just keep the shadow within the socket area instead of blending it out and up as far as I did.
There were 3 main products I used:
  • Black kajal (any very creamy and smudgy black cream shadow or pencil will work)
  • Translucent green sparkle (I used a discontinued mica from TKB called Starlight Green, which has been replaced with Starbright Green. The Body Shop also has a single shadow highlight #08 which is exactly the same thing but in pressed form.)
  • Pink/purple duochrome with blue sheen (I Nuovi Amethyst dust; this is like a loose version of MAC Stars n Rockets shadow.)

And yes, these swatches above look NOTHING like how they appear on my lids, but that's why it's so fun working with duochromes and a black base!

Step 1: First apply black kajal or paint very thickly all over the lids, up to the socket line. 
Step 2: Using a synthetic concealer brush (or any synthetic paint brush), softly smoke out the edges so there are no hard lines, and bring the color up and out. 

Step 3: Apply the kajal to the lower lash line and water line as well, and smudge out lightly. The finished look should now be like the above image, which is a typical winged smoky eye shape.

Step 4: From here, we move on to the fun stuff. Lightly dust the translucent green highlight all the way from lower lash line up to the brow, but ONLY ON THE INNER HALVES of the lids.

Step 5: The shade that's going to make everything look holographic is the pink/violet/blue duochrome on the outer half of the eyes, top and bottom. When you pack it over the black, you will no longer see the pink, but the violet and blue is going to take on a sort of glow which is going to stand apart from the green and give the most interesting effect.

Step 6: This step is optional. I wet a flat brush with a little liner sealant (Ben Nye Liquiset), dabbed it into some aqua green translucent glitter, then pressed it right down the center of the lids. This echoes the green shadow, but adds a "wet" effect and gorgeous sparkle when you blink.

Step 7: To finish the look, I curled my lashes and then applied a strip of wispy lashes. Any type of lashes would work, including plain black mascara.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Electric Pink Glitter-Lips with Brown Eyes

This is a fun look that's flattering and dramatic. As with all glitter-lip looks, it is not going to be a good idea to eat a whole lot while you're wearing it.

Recommended for clubbing and cocktail parties where you'll mostly just be drinking through straws. 

Step 1: Apply a soft warm brown (I used MAC Sable) to the entire lid area, and then blend the color gently along the hollow of the socket line, pulling up slightly in a wing once you reach the other corners.

Step 2: Using a brown gel liner, draw on a flick at the outer corners following the angle of the lower lash line.

Step 3: Thicken the flick from the outer tip inwards, and then connect all along the upper lash line. Don't try to draw it all in a single stroke. Do short strokes and just connect and smooth it out.

Step 4: Finish the eye look by curling your lashes and then applying a strip of wispy false lashes. I'm using Ardell 120 Demis, which are longer at the outer corners.

You can leave your eye as is, or run a little beige or pale yellow/white pencil along the lower water-line.

Step 5: I applied a rich fuchsia to the lips (Revlon Colorburst Lipstick in Fuchsia), blotted, and then reapply. This gets a good stain on your lips so the color will be very saturated.

Step 6: With your finger or a flat synthetic brush, gently press a translucent duochrome blue glitter to the surface of the lips. Try any fine-grained glitter that reflects blue, such as MAC Reflects Blue pigment or Reflects Very Pink. 

On the cheeks, just keep it soft with a light pink. You've already got a dramatic lip going, so you don't want to have your cheeks be too bright at the same time.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Evergreen Metallic Winged Eyes (L'oreal Color Infallible Shadows in Permanent Kaki and Endless Chocolat)

Time to whip out some of my drugstore loves, after the recent features of high-end products!
Since I've been on something of a green kick recently, L'oreal Color Infallible Shadow Permanent Kaki (which had up to now been passed over repeatedly when I played around with the testers at the drugstore) suddenly caught my eye.

Now, let me first tell you not to trust what you see in the pot. The beauty of this beautifully-metallic sage-green gem only comes out when swatched on the skin.

You can wear this shade on its own as a soft wash as it's got some good dimension to it, but I wanted more contrast, so I'm pairing it with the rich chocolate shade in the range. (Once again, this brown looks a little red in the pot, but goes on a perfect neutral dark cocoa when swatched.)

Step 1: Because the best way to pack this binder-rich shadow (it's somewhere between a loose pigment and a cream) is to use your fingers, work it on gently in the outer 1/3 of your lids, going up just to the socket line but no further.

Step 2: This is where a brush comes in. Take a fluffy brush and quickly start blending the brown straight outwards into a wing. The binders in this shadow will set after awhile, so the faster you work, the easier it will be to blend.

Step 3: Using a flat brush, apply the brown to the lower lash line as well, pulling it out to meet the bottom of the wing.

Step 4: With your finger, carefully dab some shadow onto the inner corners. I'd usually use a brush for precision, but because it doesn't go on well with a brush, I used my hands. Just be very careful not to smudge any shadow all over.

Step 5: The star of the show is the green, but you won't need to use that much of it. I just gently patted it around the center of the lids and outwards lightly into the brown. Don't rub back and forth or you will muddy up the green and the brown. You want the green to stay very rich and "pure".

Step 6: Don't forget to dab a little onto the center of your lower lids as well, BUT if you have very prominent bags under your eyes, you might want to skip this, as applying a lighter shade in the center of the lid emphasizes contours more.

Step 7: For a touch more drama (but not too much), I applied natural-hair lashes (Ardell Wispies).

Friday, July 13, 2012

Chanel Illusion D'Ombre in 89 Vision (Super-simple Gold Wash)

If there is just one item that I will recommend from the high-end collections if you're in the market to splurge on something this Summer season, it is Chanel's Illusion D'Ombre in 89 Vision. 

And, yes - let me first say outright that this is ridiculously expensive but MUCH better than the equivalent from Shu Uemura. Plus, you get a lot more product than you would with Shu's new cream shadows, all in a sturdy glass pot with a brush as well.

As you can see from the swatches above, this is literally a pot of the most glorious sparkling gold flecks in a completely translucent base. If gold has always been too yellow for you to wear, you will not encounter that problem here because you're not going to get a wash of solid yellow-gold.
This is a veil of fine but intense fairy dust that is going to stay on your lids rather than dust right off onto your cheeks. The silky, almost-dry texture also means that you can smooth this on over existing shadows or powders.

This is probably the shortest tutorial I have.

Step 1: Smooth on with finger all the way from lash line up to the brow bone.

Step 2: Apply black liner (I used Milani Liquif' Eye) along the water line and extend into a short flick to add sultriness to the gold-laden look.

Step 3: Apply black mascara to finish.

And that is literally all you need for a traffic-stopping eye look that takes 5 minutes to create.