Friday, December 13, 2013

Holiday Look #5: Deep Dark Pleather Plum

A very “noir” look focusing on glossy dark lips that works on any skintone! There are a few tips to wearing monochromatic looks like this.

  • Conceal, conceal, conceal! Dark, monochromatic looks can make uneven skin tone and any redness more obvious.
  • Keep the eyes a little softer if you don’t want to look too vampish. I used a soft taupe as the main lid shade and plum only in the outer corners.
  • Wear a brighter blush. Dark monochromatic looks can really drain the face or make you look sallow, so the way to balance it out and stop everything from going completely goth is to use a soft pink blush to add a little sweetness and color to the face
  • Be prepared to touch up! Like a glossy red lip, you will likely need to be careful when wearing a glossy dark lip. Smears, smudges, track marks from your hair getting caught in your lips, you name it.

Product used:

  • Foundation - LANEIGE Snow BB Soothing Cushion SPF 50 No. 21
  • Concealer - MAC Studiofinish concealer NW20
  • Powder - ClearLast Powder in Medicated Ochre
  • Brows - Shu Uemura Hard Formula 9 Pencil in Seal Brown
  • Taupe shadow - MAC Satin Taupe
  • Plum shadow - MAC Rich Core
  • Silver shadow - Lancôme Hypnôse cream shadow in Diamant Argenté
  • Brown/plum liner - Rimmel Exaggerate liner in Perfect Plum
  • Mascara - Lancôme Hypnôse mascara
  • Blush - Benefit Rockateur
  • Plum Lipliner - Make Up Store Jazz
  • Plum gloss - Givenchy Gloss Interdit in 15 Velvet Purple

Deep, dark juicy purple lips with Make Up Store Jazz lipliner and Givenchy Gloss Interdit in Velvet Purple.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Holiday Look #4: The “Dense brown smoky” (Make Up Store Volga Shadow)

Trust me when I say this is one of the most intense - AND the quickest - smoky eye looks ever. In fact it’s slightly slapdash, and you can swop out the brown shadow for pretty much any color you want as long as it’s not pale.

The trick is not to cover the entire black base with shadow, but to leave just a bit at the lash line so there’s a natural gradation from black to brown as you smoke the shadow outwards.
The star here is the rich brown duochrome shadow, Volga. This MAC Club lookalike is less red-toned, so if Club makes you look like someone’s socked you in the eye while you were partying, this is a fantastic alternative.

You need only:

  1. 1 brush - a rounded synthetic eye buffing/contouring brush like the Loveybelle small eye contour brush, which I used here
  2. 1 matte black khol or cream liner - anything very soft and intense and creamy
  3. 1 deep brown shadow - I used a satiny duochrome from Make Up Store called Volga - which is like a less red version of MAC Club shadow - for a bit of dimension (the black base will deepen and make it more matte, so choose something slightly brighter or more metallic than you intend)
  4. 1 pale ivory/beige shadow [optional; I used an ivory shade in my Tarte Call of The Wild palette]
  5. Mascara
  6. A soft pink-toned blush - I used Benefit Rockateur, which is my go-to daily blush when I’m lazy to think!
  7. A soft pink shimmery lipgloss - Make Up Store’s Orchid is a frikkin’ gorgeous beige-pink that isn’t too sheer or too frosty.

P.S. On nails, I am wearing Erik from Make Up Store, a blackened-green creme that looks like Japanese kombu (dried seaweed).

Monday, December 9, 2013

Holiday Look #3: Longwearing Soft and Glowy (feat. Benefit Groovy Kind-a Love Kit)

Benefit Groovy Kind-a Love kit contents

Not everyone’s into a smoky eye or red lips and winged liner. If you prefer the subtle enhancement of a low maintenance “girl-next-door” look that will last the night, this one’s for you!

I used a nifty little limited edition kit from Benefit, “Groovy Kind-a Love”, which includes minis of Porefessional balm, Benetint, 4 neutral brown shadows, a mini They’re Real mascara, and mini dandelion/gimme fever duo. Everything you need for an ultra-natural and flattering look.

Products: everything in the kit except for the concealer, lip liner and lipbalm.

  1. Concealer - Make Up For Ever Lift Concealer #2
  2. Lip liner - Givenchy Lip Pencil #3
  3. Lipbalm - use any pot balm you have that gives a slight sheen!
  4. Tips:
  5. Layering blush is a way to make it last the whole day, but be careful not to go overboard or you could end up with overly red cheeks. The thinnest layer of both will go a long way.
  6. Try Stay Flawless 15 Hour Primer on the lids as an eyeshadow primer!
  7. To avoid a stain wearing away unevenly on the lips, use a thin layer of nude liner as a base first.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Holiday Look #2: Neo-Pinup Tutorial (purple-taupe eyes and metallic red lips)!

The 50s look features full and arched brows. Here I emphasized the arched shape but kept the color quite soft instead of using a typical black-brown.

Polished skin was a big thing for pinups and it’s no different here. I used a dewy finish foundation and a radiant setting powder so there would be a soft-focus glow.

  • The pinup eye features a very clean eye lid and some matte shading along the socket line, but I kept things smoky and luminous with a soft taupe shadow over the entire lid.
  • Kitten liner is a must. But instead of hard black, I used a soft metallic taupe brown to keep the eye area very luminous and soft. (A grey or brown would work too.)
  • To add dimension I used a metallic red lipstick instead of a regular creme or matte texture. But you still want to emphasize a slightly rounded upper lip by exaggerating the outer sides of the cupid’s bow just a little with red liner. (Not too much or it will look extremely unnatural.)

Products used:

  1. Skin: MAC Face & Body foundation C2
  2. Concealer: MAC Studiofinish concealer NW20
  3. Setting powder: Bourjois Poudre de Riz de Java
  4. Blush: TheBalm Hot Mama
  5. Brows: Shu Uemura Hard Formula 9 pencil in Seal Brown
  6. Brown liner: (used as eyeshadow base) Bourjois Regard Effet Metallise in 52 Brun Inoxydable
  7. Eyeshadow: Givenchy Le Prisme Yeux Mono #14 Elegant Taupe
  8. Liner: Lancôme Hypnse Star Eyes cream shadow in ST 211 Quartz Taupe
  9. Mascara: Lancôme Hypnôse mascara 
  10. Lip liner: MAC Cherry lip liner (to fill in and shape the cupid’s bow)
  11. Lipstick: Kat von D Foiled Love 
  12. Gloss: Any clear gloss

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

"Midnight Rose" Tutorial (Dramatic Pink/Plum Smoky Eyes using Givenchy Le Prisme Yeux 71 Purple Show)

Rosy pink tones are not typical colors for the eyes, because it can go so wrong and make your eyes look tired and swollen. Do it right, and it can be pretty and dramatic with a slight “goth”/gothic feel.

Here are a few tips:
  • Make sure you conceal any unevenness and redness in your skin. Rosy shadows will bring those out, and make them more obvious. 
  • Blend a rose colored shadow with softer, more pastel tones AND make sure you ground it with dark definition at the lash line. 
  • One other trick is to use a bit of liner in a contrasting tone (I used an olive-bronze pencil since there are so many red tones and green is on the opposite end of the color wheel). A brown or plum pencil complements the rosy shadows better but they would fade right into the background instead of standing out.
  • Pair it with soft blush and neutral/nude lips. Rose everywhere can look quite scary and over the top.

Products used:
  1. Foundation: Makeon Chokchok Shining BB Cushion (smoothed on with fingers)
  2. Concealer: MAC Studiofinish Concealer in NW20
  3. Powder: Bourjois Poudre de Riz de Java
  4. Contouring: The Body Shop Matte Bronzer 01
  5. Blush: Benefit Rockateur (I keep using this recently; it goes great with most looks…)
  6. Eyeshadows: Givenchy Le Prisme Yeux Quatuor in 71 Purple Show (it says purple, but the colors are more rosy-plum)
  7. Liquid liner: Givenchy Parad’eyes Liner in 1 Dream in Black
  8. Pencil: Givenchy Magic Khôl in 5 Bronze
  9. Mascara: Givenchy Phenomen’eyes Waterproof in 1 Water Black (this is fantastic for very separated wispy looking lashes and good lift because it catches every lash)
  10. Lipstick: The Body Shop Colour Crush lipstick in 220
  11. Lipgloss: Clinique Long Last Glosswear in 18 Mystic (a purple grape). This was applied just around the center of the lips for some dimension. 
  12. On nails: Lancôme Rouge Reglisse, which is a dark blood/red but looks black here.)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Glam smoky toffee-gold eyes with tawny-nude cheeks and lips

This look works like the classic smoky eye, with
  • the lash line being the darkest and most intense
  • color fading as it goes outwards
  • smoky shadow blended quite far down along the lower lash line
 The rest of the face is very monochromatic, with nude tones on the cheeks and lips, topped with a little warm gold-toned sheen.

Very into smoky neutrals right now, and it’s great for the holiday season because they’re flattering for everyone, go with most outfits and are a quick way to add some glamour to the face.

Maybelline Pure.Eraser Mineral Foundation OC2
The Body Shop Concealer Pencil 02
ClearLast Face Powder in Medicated Ochre (this is a range of pressed powders in different finishes by Mandom Japan that I love, love, love for setting makeup because they give additional coverage and don’t grab and darken over concealer, and also never look too matte or cakey).
The Body Shop Bronzing Powder in Light Matte 01 (for contouring)
The Body Shop Shimmer Waves in Coral for a soft sheen and a trace of warm color
Shu Uemura Hard Formula 9 Pencil in Seal Brown
Canmake brow mascara 01
P.S. sorry for the duplicate image in the pictorial image below!
Smoky toffee-gold eye pictorial

Instead of a typical pencil, use a soft black kajal or an intense black cream shadow stick like Bobbi Brown’s Long Wear Cream Shadow Stick (these are easier to smoke out)
Bobbi Brown Metallic Eye Shadow in 9 Burnt Sugar (or any caramel-toned brown that isn’t too shimmery)
MAC Pressed Pigment in Flicker (or Lustre shadow in Retrospeck) patted on with damp fingers for precise sparkle
Clinique High Impact Mascara in Black
The Body Shop Colour Crush lipstick 220
Bobbi Brown High Shimmer Lip Gloss in Candlelight

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Pink or Black? Shu Uemura Holiday 2013 Pink and Black Palette tutorials

Shu Uemura Holiday 2013 Face/Off: Pink Princess vs Black Princess looks
When we first saw the anime-inspired Pink/Black-split collection from Shu Uemura's 6 Heart Princess collaboration with artist Takashi Murakami, it was a natural to start thinking of doing pink vs black princess looks.

I've done just that, and you can choose for yourself which suits you more! (Or just go for both since the collection celebrates the duality in all women anyway. Full swatches and close-ups of the limited edition collection, including 5 lip and cheek creams and 2 pairs of premium lashes, are available here!

Shu Uemura 6 Heart Princess Heart-full Pink Parallel Palette makeup
To view the Pink Princess palette and tutorial, click here.

Shu Uemura 6 Heart Princess Enchanted Black Parallel makeup look
The Black Princess look isn't as dramatic as it should be, because I used Katy Perry Ka-Pow lashes instead of the jeweled, feathered, cobweb-like premium set from the collection. (They were too large to fit my eyes, and I wasn't about to cut up $125/pair lashes.)

Shu Uemura 6 Heart Princess "Black Jewel on Wing" premium lashes
This post will be updated with a link to the full Black Princess makeup tutorial shortly!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Mocha tones: Coffee lids and cocoa lips (plus a softer alternative)

Products used:

  • Laura Mercier Eye Color Duet in Chocolate/Cashmere
  • NYX Studio Liquid Liner in Extreme Coffee
  • Tightline Cake Eye Liner in Violet Asphalt
  • Maybelline Great Lash mascara in Blackest Black
  • Sephora Precious Gold Luminizer
  • Laura Mercier Matte Radiance Baked Powder in Bronze-03
  • OCC Lip Tar in Sybil

For the day look, just skip the gold sparkles and the dark lips! I used
No7 Precision Lip Liner in Nude
Lipstick Queen gloss in Red Sinner

My Hoard of Golden Beauty Treasures!

Selection of gold things that are perfect for the holiday season

Excuse the loads of "product porn"! But don't they make SUCH a luscious visual?

Here are some of the golden things I love. Sadly, a couple of them are limited edition and no longer available (although we can cross our fingers they'll be re-released).

Dior J'adore Essence de Parfum
Dior J'adore Essence de Parfum
At the risk of sounding cheesy, this is liquid gold in a bottle. We keep complaining about Dior reformulating its classic scents with cheaper synthetics, but this particular version went the other way. Made from expensive natural Rose and Jasmine absolutes harvested from fields reserved just for Dior, and blended with real Tuberose and a touch of Tahitian Vanilla to lend a bit of oomph (don't worry, it doesn't smell like dessert), this is a more linear/simple but drop-dead gorgeous flanker of the original J'adore.

The slimmer, smaller, hand-crafted signature bottle with the long neck is just a pleasure to look at as well.

Lierac Huile Sensorielle aux 3 Fleurs
Lierac Huile Sensorielle
If you're traveling to or living in some place dry, you probably appreciate the wonders of rubbing a silky oil into your skin and hair.

Lierac's Huile Sensorielle is less well-known as Nuxe's equivalent, but I love it for the delicate blend of fragrant white flowers (camellia, jasmine and gardenia) with argan, sweet almond, grape seed, and hazelnut oils. It's light but nourishing, and just lovely and subtle to smell on your skin and hair.

Just be careful to store it away from light and heat, as it is all-natural and can go rancid.

Guerlain Ombre Eclat
Guerlain Ombre Eclat
Well, this is the only item that is here just because of the packaging. That's not to say Guerlain eyeshadows aren't some of the most impressive on the market. But if you're looking to treat someone - or yourself - this holiday season, a richly-pigmented shadow in a beautiful gold compact, sheathed in its own suede sleeve, is one of those little luxuries that feels special to own precisely because you wouldn't buy it under normal circumstances.

Guerlain Sun In The City (Limited)
Guerlain Sun In The City highlighter/bronzer
This ridiculously beautiful powder is only there because it's so ridiculously beautiful; both to see and to use. It's one of the best golden highlighters for medium to dark skins, and it's just a shame it's not part of the permanent collection. The compact is also HUGE so you can sweep it down your neck, across shoulders, down the arms and legs for a golden-bronze sheen.

Sephora mono shadow in Girls Night Out, and Guerlain Terracotta Sun In The City

Chanel Illusion d'Ombre Vision (Limited)
Chanel Illusion d'Ombre in Vision
One of my favorite cream shadows in the world - bar none - Vision is just made up of gold flecks, so you look like you're wearing a wash of gold dust on the lids. There's no other color in the base. Just Tinkerbell dust that won't fall off onto your cheeks.

The bad news is it's limited edition and no longer available, but here's a cheap alternative!

Sephora's Precious Gold Luminizer costs a humble US$10 but it's SO fun. It's similar to Vision, but the proportion of darker gold flecks is higher than in the Chanel. Honestly though, on the lid, most people won't be able to tell the difference. 

Swatches of Chanel Vision and Sephora's Precious Gold Luminizere

I like to dab this onto the inner corners of my eyes, or the center of my lid on top of a neutral/matte eyeshadow look. It can be worn as a wash across the lids, but doesn't go on as evenly as the Chanel, since it's a gel, so it doesn't build up very easily. Still, for the price, who's complaining?!

Lime Crime Uniliner in Rhyme
Lime Crime Uniliner in Rhyme
Rhyme isn't a typical metallic liquid liner. It's made up of ultra fine gold flecks, so if you sheer it out, it almost looks like a sparkly gold shadow. It's fantastic as a holiday liner, and I've also used it many times dabbed on the center of the lids over other shadows.

Lime Crime Uniliner in Rhyme applied as liner, and spread as shadow

Other products:
  • Revlon Nail Enamel in Gold Coin - this is a sparkly cool gold that's not glitter and not quite chrome either.
  • Gold nail wraps from (these are available from so many places; I just inluded them because nothing looks quite like gold nail wraps)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Balmain Eau d'Ivoire Eau de Toilette review

Balmain Eau d'Ivoire Eau de Toilette
From looking at the classically-structured Balmain glass bottle alone, you might not guess this is a sporty, fresh and almost girly fragrance. (In fact, I couldn't resist doing some “antique” photo effects with that beautifully-simple bottle.)

Here's the official visual.
Balmain Eau d'Ivoire posed with classic the Balmain print
Scent wise, it’s quite minimalist but incredibly easy to like. Actually, on first sniff, it brings to mind not one - not two - but several “pink” colored perfumes.

Dior Addict Eau Fraiche and Gucci Eau de Parfum II

Scent Breakdown:
It starts out fresh and juicy, then blooms into a clean white floral, before a very green/minty base.
  • Top notes: Bergamot, red currants
  • Heart notes: Magnolia, osmanthus 
  • Base notes: Patchouli, ambrette seeds
I smell predominantly mouthwateringly tart red currants and a shower-fresh magnolia. It invites people to take deep breaths on warm days. (I would love my shampoo to smell like this.)

Then it slowly warms up and becomes more unique as the osmanthus comes in, a floral note I adore and think should get a bit more airtime among perfume lovers. For those living outside of east Asia, osmanthus is a flower with a beautiful fragrance that’s (to me) somewhere between honey and tea. In fact, it’s often candied in syrups, and used in sweet herbal teas and desserts, the way violets are used in Europe.

If you don’t like the sometimes sharp and musky scent patchouli has, don’t worry. It’s very soft in Eau d’Ivoire. In light doses, it smells just fresh and minty. Here, it combines with the herbal buzz of ambrette seed just to add a little texture so the fragrance doesn’t just smell completely like expensive shampoo.
Sounds weird but smelling Eau d’Ivoire makes me salivate. I think of fresh, ice-cold lemon tea on a warm day. It has the tart, refreshing fruitiness, the delicately sweet body, and the slight after-bite of good strong tea. 

Lasting power:
So-so; 3-4 hours (again typical of most fresh summery EDTs).

One minor gripe:
The white neck isn’t stuck on tight and often swings out of alignment. Not a big deal but an annoyance for OCD people. Still, I can hardly complain because Balmain is one of the more affordably priced and accessible fragrance lines by a design house.

Pricing and Availability:
Balmain Eau d’Ivoire is available from SGD65 in Singapore exclusively at Metro department stores until end-Oct, after which it will be available at Tangs and Robinsons.

 £46 from House of Fraser, Seldridges, or , from AUD65 from Myer. Unfortunately, it’s quite a bit harder to locate in continental USA and Canada. I’ve seen a single bottle on Amazon from a German perfume outlet, and none on eBay so far. (If you’re really dying to try it, you can email to see if they might be able to bring in some since they stock another classic from Balmain, Ambre Gris.)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

My Lash Routine: A Few Simple Tips to Maximize your Lashes!

If you want super long and well-curled lashes, you have 3 options.
  1. Wear falsies
  2. Go for lash extensions
  3. Do your best to maximize what you have!

Eye before lashes are done. Makeup done with Wet n Wild Greed palette

Eyes after lashes are done with Maybelline Great Lash mascara

The first thing to remember is that it’s not just about what mascara you use. If you have very stubborn lashes (thick hair shaft) that straighten quickly, then you'll do better with waterproof formulas which are stiffer. If your lash shafts are medium-thickness like mine and aren't too hard to curl, regular mascara will work fine.

Lash-maximizing tools from left: Lancôme Cils Triple Boost, Browlash EX Gel Liner, New Eyecurl II heated lash curler

Tip: Running a little black liner along the upper lash line and smudging it out mimics shadow cast by dense lashes and helps to "fill in" the visible gaps between your lash hairs

Lengthening is not done just to the tips of the lashes. Well-done tight-lining at the base of the upper lash line "extends" the lashes at the roots, by creating the illusion that they start 1-2mm lower than they really do

Lash curling: If you have very straight, short and stubborn lashes, this step is compulsory. Curl them at least at the roots so they are lifted. This is just done to make mascara application easier. Don't worry if lash curlers never managed to keep your lashes lifted for long.

Optional step: You can go ahead and apply a lash base at this point. It definitely does beef up the lashes, but also can make them look clumpier and more obviously unnatural. You can go with the fiber formulas like the one from Make Up For Ever) or the subtler bases (like ones from Lancome or good ol' Ardell Lash/Brow Growth Accelerator).

Tip: One trick is to quickly get your mascara on before the lash base dries completely. This way you get nice natural-looking tapered tips instead of odd bent "burnt-twigs". So do one eye at a time.

Use whatever mascara you like, but I recommend a formula that coats your lashes evenly, with minimal clumps.

This is where you actually curl your lashes. The best thing I ever learnt was to use heated lash curlers AFTER mascara. Hold your lashes up for a few seconds.

This melts the mascara, removing clumps, and curls your lash at the same time. Then once you remove the curler, the cool air hits your melted mascara, which goes through a quick-cool process and becomes stiffer than it usually is, which helps it to hold curl even as your lash. The more stubborn your lashes, the longer you should hold it, but don't overdo it and singe your lashes off. 5-10 seconds per section should be sufficient.

Note: the absolute best lash heater I've tried is New Eycurl II, which is a China-manufactured lash heater from Sasa outlets in Singapore (it might be in Sasa in other countries as well but I haven't checked!), which is hotter than most lash heaters - and very affordable at under S$16. Regular ones still work; just not as fast. 

The reason not to lift all your lashes equally is because it can look very unnatural and unflattering when the lashes at the outer corner go straight up and inwards. It looks far better both from the front, and the sides, when they don't go up as high as the center lashes.