Saturday, January 31, 2015

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.

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?

Friday, January 30, 2015

Miss Dior - What Happened?

White roses, a wedding, and Dior.

A plain card with a strange message, and a hashtag that I can't figure out. 

Where has Miss Dior gone?
What's it all mean?

All I've got is a teaser video, which you can view above. I suppose we'll have to stay posted to find out!

Moo admires the white roses.
The cat at least - is staying near the flowers.
She likes smelling roses for some reason.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Chilli Red Lips and Soft Winged Eyes: Armani Lip Maestro 402 and NARS Cordura + Kalahari tutorial

Haven't put a tutorial on here in awhile, so here's a very quick breakdown of a go-to "dressed up" look that I often do when I'm going out. It's not all hard edges and precise dramatic lines though. In fact, it's kept deliberately soft around the edges, so that you can wear a stronger lip with a stronger eye, if you choose.

To give you options, I broke the look down into 2 parts. The eye, and the lip. You can wear them separately or together like I did. 

Products used: Shiseido Maquillage Long Stay Eyeliner N, Etude House Play 101 Pencil in 59, NARS Cordura (darker shade), and NARS Kalahari (warmer bronze shade used)

Firstly, a note about products. You absolutely do NOT have to use the exact same things I did. Most of us have black and brown liners, and many of us have a dark brown and a medium brown shadow. Just dig around and look for what you already own. Or if you absolutely LOVE one of the particular shades here, then go for it.

Step by step: Smoky winged eye
This eye look is so straightforward. There is no precision required because everything is hazy and smudged out. That's why I do it so often. It takes only a few minutes.

Now on to lips! I only discovered Lip Maestros from Armani in December last year. Very slow and late of me I know. But I fell for them in a BIG way. These things are incredible. Of all the lip creams that were launched last year, this is probably my favorite texture. They aren't as gel-like and glossy as Dior's, not as sheer as YSL's, and aren't as intense as Shu's (although these 2 brands have the closest textures). 

To me, it's like Baby Bear's bed to Goldilocks. Just right.

Lip products used: No7 Precision Lip Liner in Nude, Armani Lip Maestro in 402
I have a rather specific way of applying these.
Obviously I don't want them to bleed and smear quickly so I don't just wear them straight from the tube without liner.
BUT, I also don't want to ruin that semi-glossy texture or change the consistency and opacity by wearing a layer of liner all over my lips. 

So this is what I do.

My lip application procedure for Lip Maestros
What I end up doing is create a border that is mid-way between red and nude. It melds with the red so it doesn't look like an obvious line, and at the same time, it also protects the lipstick from bleeding quickly, AND it works as a border and helps bright colors from looking too hard and harsh against the skin.

The lip is neat, but it's not overly defined. You will never see a dark lip line when your lip color wears off after a drink or a  meal. And it's never harsh-looking or like "stick on" lips.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Clé de Peau Beauté La Beauté Enchanteress Spring/Summer 2015 Makeup Collection

Selections from the Cle de Peau Beaute Spring Summer 2015 "La Beauté Enchanteress" collection

Just a very quic post showing you swatches of some items from the gorgeous Cle de Peau Beaute Spring/Summer 2015 makeup collection. 

The colors are cool, iridescent, soft - and there are 2 new eye palettes (SGD80 for the 6g refills); 309, and 310. And the collection also includes 3 new lip colors (SGD70 for refills); 112, 211, 313. The ones I received for review are swatched here.

The eye palette I really love. Even though I must say I'm not much of  a blue eyeshadow person. Just the way they've paired an icy gossamer blue with a deep smoky navy and then added 2 beautiful neutral shades makes everything infinitely more classy and wearable. Nothing garish or loud about these colors. In fact you can do a rather neutral look by wearing the neutrals on your lids, the pale blue just in your inner tear-duct area, and then the navy as a liner.

Or you can flip it around and use the blues on the lids if you prefer a less subtle look, and just use the neutrals in the socket and on the brow bones. Either way, the texture is typical of classic Japanese-luxury makeup; very silky, translucent and blendable.

Cle de Peau Beaute Eye Color Quad 310: Dusky navy, pale blue, and neutrals

Cle de Peau Beaute Extra Rich Lipsticks 112, and 313
The lipsticks are all part of the same line (Extra Rich), but the textures of the 2 I tried are pretty different when worn.

Swatches: Cle de Peau Extra Rich Lipsticks in 313 and 112
313 is a lovely rich coral in a satin texture, with a medium sheen and moderate opacity. You do need to either prep your lips properly with a liner or primer, or be careful to really build up the color a bit, or it can look slightly patchy up-close.

Cle de Peau Beaute Extra Rich Lipstick 313

112 on the other hand, is a beautiful deep mauve pink with a semi-sheer glossy texture, although it can be built up almost to opacity, like in the image below. It looks dark in the tube but goes on much softer and more wearable.

Cle de Peau Beaute Extra Rich Lipstick 112

I can't tell you which items to focus on. I actually like everyone of these that I've tried.

What I will say though - if you must pick one - is that lipsticks do tend to be quite overpriced in Sg and for most people $70 is a astonishing amount to pay for a lipstick refill, so the quad is a worthier investment since you don't need to bring it out for touchups and $80 for 6g makes it cheaper than MAC. Then again - if you love the lipsticks, I would invest in the mauve. It's more even in texture and a far harder color to dupe with cheaper brands. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Christian Dior La Collection Privée - Bois d'Argent Review

Dior Bois d'Argent Eau de Parfum
Now - fragrance freak that I am - I can't actually believe I've not actually reviewed one of my all-time favorite perfumes.

Dior's Bois d'Argent from the La Collection Privée line. (In Singapore, you can find it at the Tangs counter and Marina Bay Sands Backstage boutique only.)

This fragrance was launched in 2004 as part of a prestige trio for men, along with Eau Noire and Cologne Blanche. Eventually, similar to a lot of designer and luxury houses, they hired an in-house parfumeur to oversee the creation of a unisex "private collection" in line with the brand's style and vision, similar to Armani and Chanel's.

Dior La Collection Privée
The line today has 12 fragrances in total, and they come only in 1 size in Singapore, a 125ml which retails at a whopping $380 or so (which is closer to the price of the 250ml in the US). Let's just say - if you fall for one and you happen to be traveling, pick it up abroad!

Regardless, it's a great range; the quality is exquisite and the fragrances I've tried have all performed well in terms of longevity, whether they are strong or soft. I have 3 full-size bottles in my collection and 3 minis of scents I'm still sampling and making my mind up about.

But today I'm going to talk about the very first one I bought - and the one I love the most.

Bois d'Argent.

Unlike most of the later fragrances in the private line, Bois d'Argent was created not by Francois Demachy, Dior's in-house perfumer (who I'll talk about in future posts when I review his creations), but by the genius Annick Menardo. She excels in a very specific category of fragrances; the powdery vanillic ambery sweet scents. And all her scents share an extremely unique trait of being both powdery and quiet, but dark and luscious at the same time. And there is usually something a little quirky and off-beat about them.

A few Annick Menardo creations: Dior Bois d'Argent, Lolita Lempicka Le Premiere Parfum, Bvlgari Black, and Dior Hypnotic Poison
 If you've tried ANY of these, you'll know they share similarities. They have a dark silky vanillic heart that's very rich and warm (the way a natural vanilla pod is; not cheap vanilla ice-cream) and a certain soft cottony powdery muskiness that often makes the vanilla smell a bit chocolatey. Then she always throws in something that makes the vanilla a bit inedible. A clean rubbery tar note in Bvlgari Black, bitter licorice and tons of powdery violet in Lolita Lempicka, that extremely alluring and vaguely toxic bitter almond tang in Hypnotic Poison...

Her fragrances are like temptresses. Voluptuous and sensual, but always with an edge.

Bois d'Argent, I find, is the most ethereal of the lot. It's a very complex, balsamy ,and incense-y in the sense that it's filled with sweet resins. (Not like someone's lit a stick of incense and it's smoking away and making you want to choke.)

The composition is quite interesting because it goes from cool and clean, to resiny, to warm and almost creamy.

  • Top notes: juniper berries, cypress, iris 
  • Heart notes: Somalian myrrh, patchouli,
  • Base notes: vanilla, musk, amber, wood, honey and leather

At the start, I'd say the key note is powdery iris. In this case, an uber-expensive Tuscan iris absolute which you're more likely to find in Chanel and Guerlain. I love iris because it gives a strange sense of coolness, like fine powdered icing sugar melting on your tongue, but without any of the sweetness.
And because it's Menardo, there's a bit of myrrh and patchouli peeking out and lending a slightly sappy, almost herbal sweetness.

Then as the fragrance warms up on your skin, the aromatic honey, warm amber, fuzzy musk and a faint hint of clean wood start to come in. I have to say - unlike some of her other fragrances, the vanilla does take a backseat in this composition. It's there but it's lending a rich milky sweetness to everything.

The notes feel almost yummy but not quite in food-like territory. Which makes it great. Inviting and intriguing, but not like I'm trying too hard to attract ants. (Don't get me wrong - I like a good spritz of Pink Sugar occasionally too. But it's hardly the most sophisticated fragrance option, if you know what I mean.)

It's an all-occasions type of scent in my opinion. I can see someone wearing this to work, on a date, anywhere. Though I do find it belongs more in the "grown-up" category, versus the "young and fun" type of scent. It's probably not going to hold its own in a smoky club pitted against louder scents.

This isn't a loud scent. It wraps and envelops you like a soft wrap, and I actually find it alright to wear even on warm days. But that's just me. Longevity is decent. Many people find this lasts all day on them. I have dry skin so scents don't last on me typically. This stays on maybe 6 hours on me which is more than a lot of other scents. I half-suspect it's also partially just that the scent gets soft after a few hours and I don't smell it anymore unless I bring my wrist up to my nose.

All fragrances in the La Collection Privée line are eau de parfums as far as I know, so you don't have to wonder if you're paying a few hundred dollars for a more diluted eau de toilette.

Scents that to me have a similar "feel":

  • Guerlain l'Heure de Nuit, Apres l'Ondee and l'Huere Bleue 
  • Le Labo Labdanum 18

The 2 other La Collection scents I own in full size are Ambre Nuit, and Grand Bal. Stay posted if you want to know more about those!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Tom Ford Spring 2015 Lip Color Shine Releases

Tom Ford Lip Color Shines in (from left) Sultry, Frivolous, Unabashed and Lust
Now I haven't actually tried any Lip Color Shines from the Tom Ford range before this, because I generally avoid sheer shiny lipsticks.

It's just a quirk of mine because I find more "shine" lipsticks don't last, go on or wear off patchy, are not pigmented, and I just hate the thought of paying for more emollients when I can get the same effect layering a pigmented lipstick over a balm.

But when I had the chance to try the 4 new additions to Tom Ford's range, I just couldn't resist it. Especially since they're all such incredibly wearable MLBB (my lips but better) colors.

Tom Ford Lip Color Shine swatches: Sultry, Frivolous, Unabashed and Lust
I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by how pigmented and rich they were. They're almost opaque. The only difference being the level of shine in these. Then again, do bear in mind that my lips aren't very pigmented or rosy, so lip colors do tend to stay quite true on my lips.

One of my favorites in this series is Sultry, a creamy apricot-y beige.

Tom Ford Lip Color Shine Sultry
Another shade I think should be quite popular is Frivolous, which is a nude-pink with warm undertones. 

Tom Ford Lip Color Shine in Frivolous

 One other favorite of mine is the pinkest of the bunch, Unabashed. It's not quite a bright pink, but it's also not a "natural" color compared to the rest.

Tom Ford Lip Color Shine in Unabashed

The final shade is a warm rosy-tan beige called Lust. Now this is a much deeper shade than my lip color, but if you have tan skin it would probably sit really beautifully and work as a daily MLBB shade.

Tom Ford Lip Color Shine in Lust
I took my time to review these because I hadn't really been able to wear anything on my lips for a week or two due to allergies, but now that I'm back to wearing lipsticks, I've been rotating these non-stop. 

I almost hate to say that because shiny lipsticks tend to run out much faster, and obviously these are as expensive as they come.

But they feel so plush and balmy and rich.

Tom Ford Lip Color Shines retail at SGD72 in February 2015.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Poppy Fever: The Body Shop Spring 2015 Collection

The Body Shop Spring 2015 Shimmer Cubes Palettes 31 Yellow Poppy (left), and 32 Pink Poppy

The Body Shop is kicking off 2015 with fun, Poppy-themed face and body collections from 5 Feb. The makeup products include:
  • 2 colorful Shimmer Cubes Palettes (SGD39.90) - 31 Yellow Poppy, and 32 Pink Poppy.
  • 4 coordinating nail polishes (SGD12.90) - Apricot Kiss, Cupid Pink, A Sunny Affair and Mad About Blue.
  • 6 chubby Lip & Cheek Velvet Sticks (SGD29.90) - there are 5 colors - nude, peach, red, pink and coral, as well as 1 Universal color-changing shade which is really interesting. 

I did quick swatches for the shimmer cubes without any base or water, so you can see the pigmentation levels. They're all quite smooth and pigmented, although I have to say it's unlikely that most of us would wear all these colors together on the eye at any given time.

The Body Shop Shimmer Cubes 31 Yellow Poppy swatches

The Yellow Poppy palette was not the one I grabbed for first when I saw both. I'll say up-front I like the Pink Poppy one more because the colors are so unique. But I do have to say that Yellow Poppy has 2 neutrals (dark brown and white) that help make the palette a little more "complete".

The Body Shop Shimmer Cubes 3 Pink Poppy swatches
If you were to get Pink Poppy on the other hand, you would probably need to add a darker neutral color to anchor the shades because they're all accent shades. There isn't really a "definer" shade unless you want to use the red around your lash line, and not many people are brave enough to do that!

I like this palette more but I would just use the colors individually or 2 at a time, and pair them with neutrals. 

I somehow can't look at Yellow Poppy without the Simpsons' theme song running through my head. 

The Body Shop Lip & Cheek Velvet Stick in 40 (left) and 50 Universal (right)
The Universal Velvet Stick is like a matte color-changing balm. The textures of these sticks are quite smooth and blendable, so I wouldn't hesitate to use them on the cheeks.

I do like the colored ones more than the color-changing black one, because depending on the pH level of your skin, if the color doesn't "bloom" completely, you end up with slightly grey-ish pink lips, which is an effect, but maybe not quite what you were going for. 

Still, most times I seem to end up with at least a nice berry color on the lips so it's not too bad. I just feel I'd rather know exactly what color is going on than play guessing games, even though color-change products are kinda fun.

And let's not forget the poppy-red brush. 

The Body Shop Spring 2015 Poppy Blush Brush
 Technically you can use this for mineral powder, regular powder, bronzer or blush. It's 100% synthetic and cruelty-free; plus it's very soft and good quality.

Aside from the face products, there's also a line of body products with the Forbidden Flower scent, which is centered around poppy (from which opium is made btw). I only have the shower gel to sample for a review so I can't speak about the perfume version, but if the gel is anything to gauge by, it's quite a powdery, musky, spicy floral that's not exactly very "flowery" or sweet. It's quite dark and soft and I think the lacquer black bottles with the red poppy visual are quite fitting.

The Body Shop Forbidden Flower Shower Gel
 The range includes the requisite 30ml eau de toilette (SGD24.90) shower gel (SGD14.90), lotion (SGD21.90) and the body butter (SGD32.90), but not a fragrance

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Dior Spring 2015 Kingdom of Colors - Dior Vernis 294 Lady and Top Coat Eclosion 001

Dior Vernis in Top Coat Eclosion 001 and 294 Lady

Dior's Spring 2015 Kingdom of Colors features quite a fun and eclectic mix of colors, but there are 2 particularly fun items that I've been playing with the past week. 
2 of the 4 varnishes launched with the collection; 
  • 294 Lady - a dusty mauve-pink creme
  • 001 Top Coat Eclosion - a multi-colored and -shaped speckled top-coat in opaque pastel colors

If you want the ladylike look for Spring, 294 Lady is perfect. But if you like things a little more "Springy" and fun, that top-coat works beautifully over any bright or pastel creme polish. 
Applied over pastels, they looks like little sprinkles on a cupcake. Yum.

Dior Vernis 294 Lady, with Blossoming Top Coat 001 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

MAC Ultimate Collection Lipstick Swatches and Sheer Mystery Powder Overview

MAC Ultimate Collection Lipsticks
MAC has just launched their version of "luxe" makeup in the form of the Ultimate collection, which includes 10 new lipstick colors and Sheer Mystery compact powders. 

The formulas and packaging at first glance look like the love-child between the MAC Mineralize series and the limited edition Marcel Wanders collection from awhile back. And if you thought so you aren't that far off.

The Mineralize range is a bit of a premium range compared to the regular formulas anyway. The Ultimate collection is something of a step up on top of that. And Marcel DID design all the packaging, which explains the prismatic, sculptural shapes.

Ultimate Sheer Mystery Powder compact case

Truth be told, I LIKE the original MAC packaging. And I LIKE MAC's mid-range pricing and strong colors and textures. That's what's great about MAC.

Now that's not to say I don't like the Ultimate collection. In fact, I think it's a great range for people who are used to luxury brands and the plusher, more conditioning, more forgiving textures and colors.

As a case in point, the lipsticks in the Ultimate collection are very smooth, satiny (not too glossy and not too matte), and consistently creamy. You won't find Mattes and you won't find Lusters (which I don't like in general). Neither will you find long-wearing Satins or strongly-pigmented Amplifieds. The lipstick textures have a soft sheen and colors that are flattering and easy to wear but not extremely adventurous as far as MAC goes.

Warm to neutral Ultimate lipstick swatches: Audacious, Ravishingly Rich, Fashion Fruit, Soft Pout, In Vogue

Cool neutral and pink Ultimate lipstick swatches: Marque, Lover's Street, Femme De-Luxe, Catharina, and To Savour

I'll even go so far as to say these textures and colors wouldn't look out of place at a Chanel counter.

But there-in lies the problem of course. It's a nice range, and it is the sort of colors and textures that appeal to people who purchase from Chanel and Dior, etc. But it's MAC, not Chanel. And they'd mostly be lying if they said they'd pay a Chanel price if the exact same lipstick was popped in a plain non-branded case.

And these are a bit like that to me. At SGD41 per lipstick, it's in the same price category as the luxury brands. But without that luxury association. If you already like MAC to begin with - like me - you won't see the point of picking these over the regular collection unless there's a color that you just cannot live without.

You tell me. What do you think of the new range? Love? Pass?

MAC Sheer Mystery Powder in Medium Plus
I do have to say though. I love the texture of the pressed Sheer Mystery powder. This was the surprise hit for me.

It's the silkiest and least powdery-looking matte powder I've tried in awhile.

Sheer Mystery Powder on bare skin - before and after

It mattifies and blurs imperfections without settling into lines, grabbing in spots, or even looking overtly like makeup. It's won the seat of honor in my bag after I used it twice. Because I think it's one of the best touch-up powders around right now.

There is ONE minor flaw that bugs me though. That cool leather-backed puff gets stuck in the mirror compartment under the lid CONSTANTLY. And it's happened with every single tester I've seen so far. 

Sheer Mystery Powder sponge stuck in the mirror well
If anyone tells me that's done on purpose - I'll laugh - 'cos only someone who doesn't use compact powders would design it like that on purpose.

There are TWO things we need to do when we flip open ANY powder compact.
  1. Quickly check our face in the mirror 
  2. Pick up the puff and touch up our face
In this case, you can't do either without digging at the puff for a few moments. I always need to be careful not to let it slip off and drop on the ground or other dirty surfaces. And who wants to look at the powder or the ugly underside of the puff and touch it directly with dirty fingers every time we need to dig it out???

If they can fix this one design flaw, it would be perfect. Cos I got stares when I was out touching up with this. The compact DOES look wicked cool.

And the powder looks darned good on the face, dammit. So I put up with the puff being stuck in the lid. (Until something else comes along that I fall in love with.)

Have you tried it yet?