Saturday, March 26, 2016

RevitaLash Advanced and RevitaBrow Advanced Try-out!

I've never been into off-the-counter lash and brow lengtheners because they are glorified conditioners that maybe help strengthen your hair fibers with daily use and prevent early breakage or falling. But despite the sometimes exorbitant prices (up to about SGD$100-200 for some premium brands), they won't significantly change the appearance of your lashes.

Everybody has a genetic set point that pre-determines the length and thickness of lash and brow fibers, and each strand of hair goes through a specific cycle over 4-6 weeks where it grows, then stops growing and falls off. While applying lash and brow serums can minimize the chances of hairs breaking and falling off prematurely, conditioning ingredients like peptides and plant extracts touted in all these luxury treatments do not really make a significant difference.


Not too long ago, it was discovered that bimatoprost, a prostaglandin analog specifically used in prescription glaucoma eye drops, caused patients' lash growth cycle to prolong significantly, resulting in the strange (but very welcome) side effect of very long lashes. Then someone decided to bottle it for cosmetic use, and the rest is history.

Now a very tiny handful of brands including RevitaLash Cosmetics use bimatoprost and bimatoprost-derivatives to stimulate lash and brow hairs to continue growing well past their natural "set point", and while these are not cheap and most have to be purchased from reputable clinics with a prescription, these are the only ones worth the money in my opinion.

How do you tell? Look out a "dihydroxy" - "enamide" or "enolamide" not too far down the ingredients list.

I've said it before and I will say it again. Brands like Prevage, Mavala, Avance, Talika and others that you can easily buy off the shelf are just conditioning serums that do NOT contain anything that can stimulate growth or length. Despite all the fancy claims on the boxes. And several of these are so highly-priced that I can't see why anyone would buy them when you can get actual lengtheners for the same price.

The company (RevitaLash Cosmetics) ironically focuses on marketing and talking about the ingredients like biotin, plant extracts and peptides - maybe because the average consumer "understands" these names as being beneficial. But in my humble opinion, these are the optional extras. The only reason I would pay for it and tell you to pick something like RevitaLash and RevitaBrow Advanced over generic serums is because of the prostaglandin analog in there. If you really want a visible difference (and granting you have no allergy to bimatoprost), don't waste your time with off-the-shelf stuff.

My Experience with RevitaLash and RevitaBrow

With lash and brow growers, application is pretty simple. Apply once a night along the base of lashes or brow hairs as near to the roots as you can manage. The brow and lash applicators are different - a doe-foot for RevitaBrow, so you can cover a wider area of skin, and a thin brush tip for RevitaLash so you can apply along the base of your lashes.

RevitaLash Cosmetics suggests applying RevitaLash along the base of your lashes rather than the skin. However, my tip is to apply it on the skin like a liquid liner, near where your lashes grow out of your skin. The prostaglandin analog needs to be absorbed and the magic happens in the roots of the lashes, not along the shaft, and I've found when I applied it only along my lashes and not the skin directly, the growth is not as significant or fast.

Application and Tips

For the first 4-6 weeks you apply once a day. I suggest the evening after cleansing your face. Don't be tempted to apply more to try and get faster results. It doesn't work that way - you'll just waste your product.

Some people like to do it just before bed, but I found sometimes my eyes water when I go to sleep, and the tears wash the treatment down towards my cheekbones. (I've found noticeably longer facial hairs under the outer corners of my eyes from that mistake!)

It's not really visible of course - just inconvenient when I need to take close-ups when I do makeup looks. So evening is a better timing for me because it's dried and absorbed by the time I go to bed.

With the brows, I also apply from inner corners out a little past my arch and then stop, instead of applying it all the way to the outer ends. The longer thicker strands from around the middle will help cover gaps towards the outsides, and I don't want the outer hairs to grow so long that my brows extend down and look "droopy".

After your hairs reach their maximum length in about 6 weeks, you can reduce usage to every other day. I've tried doing once or twice a week but I find I tend to get "patchy" lashes with some noticeable gaps, so maybe it's not the right time for me to peel back to such a low dosage yet.

The Results

I think the results sort of speak for themselves! I used the product for 8 weeks straight before taking the After shots.

I've always had rather long lashes, but RevitaLash has made them a lot longer. Where I did not get a huge amount of difference is in terms of thickness. I was hoping for thicker strands because mine are quite fine naturally, but I don't know if I see a huge difference in this regard.

I do also notice in pictures that the longest lashes do have more of a tendency to go "helter-skelter" and wave around in various directions, although it's fine once they are curled and mascara-ed. If you have naturally long and coarse lashes already, you will probably see more of this problem. I've seen images online of lash-growth product users whose lashes are completely out of control and actually look a bit messy. (Time to reduce the dosage, ladies!)

Honestly, the growth was so gradual that I didn't really notice how much longer they were until I applied mascara. Every little bit of additional length is amplified when you curl your lashes and put on mascara, so that's likely when you - and people around you - will notice how long they look.

As for the brows, mine are super sparse around the arch, and I was actually surprised that the hairs came out a lot coarser and fuller after using RevitaBrow. I will never be Cara Delevingne, and they will always come off a bit more sparse on camera than in real life, but on most days with a little filling in and brow mascara, my brows look pretty darned full. (Sometimes TOO full.)

The hair growth is also a bit more even now, and I'm pretty happy with my decision not to apply RevitaBrow all the way out to the ends, because I don't want to extend them out and down too much.

One small side-effect is that even though I applied the treatment only along the upper portions of my brows, the stimulant did make the stray hairs AROUND my brows grow a lot faster as well. Lots of plucking and trimming required when using this, for sure. But if you've over-plucked and just want to grow everything out then this is a perfect product to do it.

As for the lashes, they are definitely noticeably longer. And I don't mean "so-subtle-you-might-be-imagining-it" longer like with regular lash serums. My lash hairs are rather fine so honestly the difference is not that big when they are bare. But the moment the mascara goes on, people ask if I am wearing extensions, because even a small increase in length makes a huge difference when every strand is amplified and darkened.

Post-RevitaLash Advanced and RevitaBrow Advanced Brow treatment with makeup


The main con, which is true of all prostaglandin analog serums and not just RevitaLash, is the price. Pricing differs by market and from clinic to clinic as well. The 3.5ml lash serum lasts approximately up to 6 months of daily use, and costs approx SGD$237.

RevitaBrow Advanced contains 3ml, lasts for about 4 month of use, and is $174. Many clinics will have package or promotional prices, so check around before you make your purchase. But often individual clinics will do promotional or bulk prices, so check around before you purchase.

One warning: there are many who try to save a quick buck and look for cheaper sources of these prostaglandin lash growers online. I really do not recommend doing that. There are a lot of imitation products made in China being traded online for prices that are too good to be true. These are completely unregulated. At best they do nothing and you waste good money. At worst, you could get a nasty eye infection or something more serious. 
If you're in Singapore, I suggest staying safe and going on to find licensed clinics and sellers.

A few FAQs

I thought I'd address a few things that people are probably going to be concerned about.

1. Can I be allergic to this?
Yes. As with most things, there will be a minority of people who have some sensitivity to ingredients within. Do a patch test first. RevitaLash does sting the eyes a bit if you get it inside, but just rinse it out with eye drops and it doesn't really hurt them.

2. Will it make my eyelids or skin hairy?
No!! Well - not unless you put it on a place that already has quite a bit of hair. The ingredients stimulate growth in existing hair follicles and cannot cause more follicles to grow where there was none in the first place.

3. Can I use this if I am pregnant or nursing?
Not advisable. From what I read, the prostaglandin analogs can transfer to fetuses and babies through breast milk. While specific negative effects are not clear at this point, it's not worth the risk since prostaglandin analogs work like hormones, and you don't want to throw anything "off-balance" for your baby. Wait a while and stick with false lashes first!

4. Will my lashes/brow hairs all fall out if I stop using this?
No - your lashes will slowly, gradually return to their original state after you stop usage. New hairs are growing all the time and they don't all turn over at the same time, so it takes weeks for the longer hairs to shed off and be replaced by shorter ones. It's not patchy and noticeable like lash extensions shedding off.

5. Can I just buy glaucoma eyedrops and use them on my lashes?
Hmmm in theory it could work. But glaucoma drops like Lumigan are also a prescription medication and even harder to get without a legitimate need. And I wouldn't trust online sources that claim to sell it without a prescription. I should know - I actually tried it a couple of years back and it was probably fake cos it did absolutely zero for my lashes. Stick with the lash growth serum; you don't need an actual eye condition to get your doctor to prescribe it to you.

Lastly, there is a new Limited Edition packaging out this year, which is pink. A portion of proceeds go towards Breast Cancer research so if you are restocking or getting your first box, ask and see if they have the pink version.

Why not do good while you look good, right?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Shine Caresse CC Genius Balms

L'oreal is launching 6 shades of Shine Caresse CC Genius Balms (SG$19.90) in April in Singapore, and I haven't been able to keep my hands off these the entire week. I've been wearing them to work daily, and I'm in love with the soft medium pinks in the series.

If you've followed me for a certain amount of time you will know I am a huge lover of matte lipsticks and intense opaque formulas in general. But in the recent year or so, my lips have been feeling quite dry and prone to flaking and rashes. I get around that by wearing creamy nourishing formulas more.

I'm probably committing beauty blasphemy by saying I didn't quite like the Revlon Balmstains (except the matte ones) and Colorburst Lip Butters that were so incredibly popular a couple of years back. Somehow the many separate times I bought and tried them repeatedly, I found many of the colors a bit patchy and the formulas not really that hydrating on my lips. In fact I was probably irritated by some ingredient in them as I would mostly flake or itch after a few hours.

My favorite "swipe on and go without a mirror" lipstick in recent years was actually a Colour Riche Balm from L'oreal, which was not sold in Asia and that a friend in the US sent to me to try. So I was very excited to see that they were bringing the new Shine Caresse CC Genius Balms to Singapore.

Though there are only 6 shades available in Singapore, I have to say they are all beautiful choices. The light is a bit bright above, so you should expect the colors to be slightly deeper than they look above. My favorite is the warm candy pink 704 Statement Pink, which I had thought would look too bright and garish, but turned out quite lovely. But 713 Daydream Beige, 703 Ispahan Rose and 706 Drama Burgundy are gorgeous as well. 

I had expected 708 Fearless Red to be patchy and uneven based on the wrist swatch, but the texture of the formula smooths out easily on the lips and it really did not look patchy on me once I pressed my lips together.

These have become my current "swipe and go without a mirror" choices. 

Don't expect these to last like long-wear formulas, but they don't disappear quickly either considering the creamy balmy formula. The brighter and deeper shades cling a bit better and will provide a mild staining effect. Not a lot - just enough that the color doesn't just disappear too quickly. And they feel so plush and smoothing that I don't mind reapplying them like balms anyway.

All in all, worth checking out!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Two foundations with good coverage: Shiseido Synchro Skin and MAKE UP FOR EVER Ultra HD Stick Foundation

With the slew of lightweight cushion foundations and summery tinted moisturizers coming out these days, I find myself hankering a higher-coverage offering that doesn't sacrifice a fine, natural, skin-like texture.

One of the best this past season is Shiseido's Synchro Skin Lasting Liquid foundation. In terms of texture, it's pretty similar to other silky silicone-oil foundations like Diorskin Nude Air, Armani Maestro and Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua. However this formula is not bi-phase and doesn't separate as much as several others, which come in shaker bottles with little metal beads within.

There is nothing new about the concept of a super light liquid with high coverage. But what's different is how well Synchro Skin actually does it. 

What I love is you get instant coverage without a heavy, cakey texture, and it is shine-free but not flat, and powdery-looking. It smooths over pores and fine lines beautifully, doesn't settle into them, and while I wouldn't say it's as long-lasting or matte as something like Hourglass Immaculate Foundation, it does give an absolutely gorgeous velvet finish and stays very well through the day. 

My favorite way to apply this is with my fingers. You get the most coverage using the least amount of product that way - and this is not difficult to spread and blend. It has an almost airy liquid-to-powder type of feel, but doesn't go fully powdery. There is no shine - however there is still a radiance.

I have a little scab on my cheekbone under my right eye and this pretty much covered it up. I also did not apply any undereye concealer. This is able to correct and cover but doesn't crease and cake around fine lines under the eyes. Great if you need to pack light and want to skip concealer.

The soothing skincare ingredients and "smart" formula that adapts to the skin's needs is an extra bonus. There are a lot of more expensive foundations that don't do quite as much.

Of course - this is a very silicone-heavy formula so if you are allergic, I don't need to tell you to stay far away from this. The other thing to watch out for is many people is silicone-heavy formulas may "reject" certain other silicone skincare and primer products, like oil and vinegar. If you've had foundations slide off or "peel" and rub off during application, nine times out of ten it's because of incompatible silicones in the formula. There's really nothing to do except try with different skincare and see if it works better.

If your skincare works well with this formula though, it is beautiful.

Definitely a good one for oily up to slightly dry skins even, if you like a natural matte finish. I personally found this to be more matte than even the latest Revlon Colorstay formula for oily/combi skins. The shade does oxidize a little, so try to let it sit for an hour before you settle on a shade.

Another good thing? This is available in 12 shades in Singapore with different undertones (Rose, Neutral and Golden). The shade match for NC25 is Golden 2 or Neutral 2.

Now for those who want something even quicker and more portable, there is MAKE UP FOR EVER's new Ultra HD Invisible Cover Stick Foundation (SG$72, launching 31 March 2016). Ultra HD liquid is the foundation I wore for my wedding, so I was extremely excited to try the new stick version, especially since it was launched a while ago in the US, and we've been seeing it on all these vlogs and blogs.

The main reason you want to use this is the portability, how space-saving it is, and the super-quick application you get. You literally swipe, blend, and go.

I've used many cream foundations but usually when you blend them out, they can look slightly patchy, or crease easily. And they rarely look natural and adhere to the skin seamlessly. But then this is MAKE UP FOR EVER Ultra HD, and if they dare to claim this works on 4k cameras, it's got to at least sit better than the average stick or cream foundation.

And it does. 

I used no sponge with this. Just my fingers - it blends right out and smooths in, looking incredibly "real". This is less matte than Synchro Skin and won't control oil or give a soft-focus effect; but you get a nice demi-matte finish and the coverage of a concealer without a noticeably "made-up" feel. I daresay you can go on camera wearing just this and no powder, and it would look like you rolled out of bed looking like this.

I don't consider this extremely long-wearing of course. That's not REALLY its purpose, but it does last satisfactorily well in humid hot weather, and I think anyone except the extremely oil and dry can pull it off. It does sit nicely under the eyes although it's not completely crease-resistant.

The one con is you only get about 4.4g of product. Not quite 4 lipsticks. Which means if you are intending heavy/regular usage, you will find yourself having to repurchase quite frequently. That's not a huge issue considering you get a lot less per shade if you buy a makeup palette - but MUFE tends not to be very cheap in any case.

If you are using it more for spot coverage as a lightweight, high-coverage concealer only where you need, then it's perfect. 

Which brings me to a brief mention of the Ultra HD Invisible Cover Concealer. I'm not a huge fan of them because I kinda feel like they don't give that much more coverage than the regular Ultra HD Liquid Foundation, and the stick gives quicker, more even, and longer lasting coverage faster.

I found when I applied the liquidy formula over the stick foundation, the moistness of the formula seemed to melt and break down the foundation and make the coverage patchy. I would definitely recommend them on their own, or used with the liquid foundation rather than the stick.

Also, I used it twice and broke out in rashes all over the areas where I applied it, so I set it aside and can't really give it a full and complete review anyway. 

If you like lightweight liquid concealers with medium coverage like the original HD concealer, and you don't get a negative reaction to the formula, go ahead and give them a try. They feel very similar to the originals to me.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Natasha Denona Blushes: Swatches and Review

Natasha Denona is a new indie-brand getting a fair amount of hype; they're probably better known for eye shadows (which I will review in the near future) but I was equally fascinated by the gorgeous blush duos.

Available on both and at US$38 (both have free shipping over a certain purchase), there are 19 duos available.

What you want to take note of if you're buying more than one is that many of the shades (e.g. the soft blending shade on the left) are repeated across the palettes. But the primary factor for deciding which duo you get should still be the main blush shade on the right.

Natasha loves a glow - think pearlescent, radiant, NARS Orgasm-esque glow all over the cheeks, not just a little highlight on the top of the cheekbones. Which is beautiful - but also prone to emphasizing large pores and uneven skin texture if you're not careful. While there are a number of matte blush shades, they are always accompanied by a shimmery blending shade. As far as I can tell, the ones with a pastel pink on the left, called Renee's Pastel Pink, are the only ones with a matte blender.

I ordered 5 in various tones to try out, and the duos are named below. (They all follow the names of the shades on the right.)

Natasha Denona blush duos from left: 02 Light Antique Rose, 14 Golden Coral, and 15 Sheer Nude
Natasha Denona blush duos from left: 09 Matte Peachy Nude, and 13 Golden Caribbean Coral
The formula is ultra fine-grained and smooth and reminds me a little of Charlotte Tilbury blushes, but one difference is there is a lot of powder "kicked up" whenever you tap your brush in this product. You will see tons of loose blush powder all around the pan. It's not a big deal unless you are wearing black and get some powder on yourself, because the softness and the talc content is what allows the product to glide on and not bunch up or streak on the skin.

I applied this several times directly on un-powdered skin, and often the moisture from foundations will cause blushes to grab and look patchy, but not in the case of Natasha Denona blushes.

Pigmentation level looks strong, but they do go on a little softer than you'd expect, and you can build up if you need, so you get a good measure of control which is nice. As for lasting power, it's not as good as Tarte blushes, but it's decent - comparable to what I get with Chanel or Dior.

I have to say I really like the glow though. My favorite duo is the Golden Coral duo, which reminds me of a softer, more glowy combination of NARS' Hot Sand and Deep Throat blushes. The texture is very translucent and flattering, and the glowing sheen somehow sculpts the cheeks and adds dimension even without a contouring or bronzing powder. It's not flat-out metallic; in fact I'd say the glow is a bit more diffused than you get with blushes like Orgasm, but there is still no way I can pull this off on days I have any bumps or spots on my cheeks, because the sheen will still highlight them.

Natasha Denona blush duo 14 Golden Coral
Like Charlotte Tilbury's Cheek to Chic blushes, there is a specific technique to using the Natasha Denona blush duos. The recommended application is to brush the main blush shade over the cheeks first, then use the softer shade on the left to blend out the edges around the main color.

However, I also like:
  • applying each of the shades on their own as a single shade (even the soft peachy-beige blending shade Toutou surprised me by looking fine as a very soft blush; if you have NC25 or lighter skin you can use most of the blender shades as blush)
  • mixing both shades together for a softer medium shade to apply all over
  • applying the blending shade over the cheeks and overlapping the cheekbones first, then going over with the deeper shade on the lower half of the area to add color and shape (see below)

All in all, I think they're actually surprisingly good value considering you get two shades and 14g per compact (a typical MAC blush has 6g of product and is not much cheaper if you're in Singapore). Plus, the whole presentation is lovely, with those sturdy, layered pink and white cases.

If you're a blush addict, love a good glow over your cheeks, and don't mind some powderiness on your pan (it doesn't go on powdery and chalky on the skin) these are a must-try.

Now I just wish the brand would come up with a 28 shade blush palette, considering their large lip and eye palettes are so popular. This way we can get a big mix of various shades without having to buy so many repeats in duos.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Shoppers in Singapore - get free shopping and online exclusives on!

I can't say how happy I am that more and more brands and retailers are now offering their products on e-stores locally. Took a long while before they finally realized they were losing more and more consumers to foreign retailers. Honestly, I'd rather pay a little bit more to the brand locally if it means not having to pay international postage to shipping companies and waiting weeks to get my products.

The latest to set up their online store for Singapore is Clarins; I placed an order for Santal Face Treatment Oil and Extra-Comfort Anti-Pollution Cleansing Cream (cos I'm on a major cleansing cream kick this year, and - I've pretty much been on a face oil kick for years...)

Here's why I like the web store so much.
  • I have a few staples in my skincare routine that I keep repurchasing whenever I am running low; now I click and it arrives at my door.
  • You get free delivery with SG$100 purchase - which, trust me, is not hard to reach when you buy French luxury skincare. But as a launch promotion, from now until 20 March, there is free delivery on all purchases.
  • If you're a Clarins member, you get points for shopping online as well as offline.
  • There are online exclusives, offers and freebies when you spend above specific tiers. They also have an opening promotion where the first 500 online customers get an extra 10ml White Plus Serum vial.
  • You can pick 3 samples of your choice.
  • The entire store is nicely structured and easy to navigate. No confusing sections and unclear instructions.

And that's all there is to it. 

I do need to show you guys this SUPER-cute Barbie-sized Clarins shopping cart that the team sent as a promotional gift. It's extremely detailed and fully functional too; 4 spinning wheels, a collapsible toddler seat, and 3 Clarins goodie boxes. Totally made me laugh when I saw it.

Just to put things in perspective, here is V.V. sitting with it. And she's not a big cat by any means. 

Happy shopping!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Happy White Day!

Today, 14 March, is White Day, and if you've heard the day referred to among some Japanese friends, but have not experienced it for yourself, you might be a bit confused, as I was.

What many people don't know is that Valentine's Day is celebrated quite differently there than in other parts of the world. Typically for those familiar with Western cultures, on 14 Feb, lovers, partners, sweethearts, and friends will exchange gifts and celebrate together. 

In Japan however, only the women prepare gifts for men on 14 Feb. This usually takes the form of chocolates. Giri-choco is presented to platonic friends, colleagues etc, whereas Honmei-choco is reserved specially for lovers, spouses, sweethearts. Many women will actually take a hand in making Honmei-choco by hand and presenting these as a special gift to represent their commitment and love.

The men on the other hand, wait until White Day, to present their loves with a token of affection. And that's also typically the occasion when a lot of people will make a gift of luxury skincare (especially "whitening" coffrets to tie in with the "white" theme).

Shiseido, the grandest and most traditional of the Japanese skincare houses, tends to be a popular source of gifts for ladies of all ages. Unblemished, fair skin is the hallmark of youth and beauty here, so a luxurious White Day skincare coffret containing a spot-targeting product like the White Lucent Micro Targeting Spot Corrector tends to go down well.
P.S. Customers in Singapore can get an exclusive White Day Shiseido x Swarovski crystal accessory as a gift (while stocks last) when purchasing White Lucent MicroTargeting Spot Corrector or a 50ml bottle of Ultimune!
It may be the end of 14 March in Asia even as I post this, but I'd still like to wish everyone a happy White Day. (I mean - the Japanese know where it's at; I'll exchange chocolates for luxury skincare any day!)

MAC Versicolour Review and Swatches

MAC will launch their new Versicolours in Singapore on 7 April at SG$43 each. These hybrid gloss-stains are made with the same gel-oil technology present in products like YSL Glossy Stains and Dior Addict Addict Fluidsticks.

If you haven't tried these before, they go on like watery half-set pudding (it's really more pleasant than it sounds) and the volatile components in the formula evaporate, similar to matte liquid lipsticks. However, the product sets into a gel and retains its glossy shine. The product that looks like gloss but doesn't feel or smear off like gloss.

The launch kinda begs the question: why now?

After all, YSL launched Glossy Stains several years ago in 2011 or 2012, and a lot of other brands followed. Now, we have access to so many economical, accessible lines from Asian brands like Laneige, Innisfree, The Face Shop, etc that I struggle a bit to understand why MAC is bringing out their own line when it is so much later, and so much more pricey - than some of the options on the market.

I do have to say they have some really nice shades. What you need to remember with many of these gloss stains is - they stain. (Duh.) This means you will ALWAYS end up with a much deeper and rosier shade than you see in the tube after 15-30 minutes of wear. The only line which I've tried that does not deepen over time is Dior's Fluidstick, so bear that in mind.

I received 13 of 15 shades to swatch, and there was a mix-up in my baggy, so I had one repeat color. Apologize for only have 12 shades instead of 15 here for you to have a look at. Please note that the shades here have only had a few minutes to set, and are a touch deeper when worn on the lips for a longer time.

Shades not swatched here:
Let's Stay Together - warm pink
Resilient Rouge - cherry red
Perpetual Holiday - deep grape

Long Live The Night - true nude beige
Tattoo My Heart - warm salmon
Always & Forever - squash yellow-orange
Can't Stop Won't Stop - tangerine

I'm personally partial to Tattoo My Heart for a rosy lip look (it starts off soft but gets deeper), and Can't Stop Won't Stop. The good news is even if you like orange but think Always & Forever is a bit too yellow to pull off, give it a try and let it set on your lips for 15-20 mins before you pass it over. It will deepen up a bit and become more of a true orange.

Truly Everlasting - bright milky coral
Forever Darling - orange-based warm red
Last Minute - cherry pink
It's Neverending - rose pink

Preserving Passion - deep plum
Long Distance Relationship - violet
Constant Craving - pastel cool pink
Ceaseless Energy - bright Barbie pink

I like Preserving Passion and Long Distance just cos I think the lacquered juicy texture works well with rich, berry tones. Among these cooler toned shades. Constant Craving looks too pale and too scary in the tube but it does become more like Ceaseless Energy after the stain sets in, whereas Ceaseless Energy goes deeper, rosier and warmer.

Below is Long Distance Relationship about 20 minutes in. It's deeper than the arm swatch above, but it will deepen up a bit further until you get something that looks more like Heroine lipstick. I wore no lip liner or base shade, and you can see the color does wear quite evenly if you know how to apply it.

I mentioned above that it's nothing new, and this is also very expensive even by MAC standards. But if you see a color you like, I would still say check them out.


1. The shade range is great if you like funkier colors like violets, bright oranges, etc. Most brands either veer towards classic shades (YSL, Dior), or towards bright Asian-friendly pop tones (all the Korean brands). There are not that many lines with gloss stains in edgier, more unique colors.

2. The formula is good; early-generation gel stains have a tendency to go on uneven and patchy, and then be hard to smooth out once they set a bit on the lips. With this one, I can apply, then lightly roll my lips together to even out the color distribution. The product doesn't gunk up or go patchy when you do that. It is also genuinely conditioning and quite comfortable to wear.

3. The lasting power is great. Stains do last a long time in general; be prepared to have stained lips for a day after use. But not all gel stains stay glossy and lacquer-like for hours and hours. Many will set and go a bit thin and not be as glossy. This formula stayed shiny and looked pretty fresh looking for a few hours through drinking. (Of course, it kisses off and gets less shiny and pigmented if you eat.) Which is great if you like the look of pigmented glosses but hate the sticky gloopy feel.

Not a lot of hype remains for gloss stains in general, even though they do still tend to sell quite well across many brands. These are somewhere between Dior (ultra shiny and non-staining) and YSL (moderate shine and highly-staining) in performance. It's a bit thicker and more plush feeling than typical Asian formulas, which is nice.

It's down to individual preference and whether you find a color that makes it worth the YSL-esque prices.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Oceanic Halo: TKB Trading Aquatic Blue Pigments

I'm a big fan of loose pigments, and I've mentioned TKB Trading a few times as being my default place to get supplies because of the big selection of colors, and the very reasonable prices. The pigments are sold for use in polishes, mineral makeup, and craft projects by indie sellers, so they are priced for bulk purchase.

You can get good sized 6g sample-sachets that fill up a disposable sample jar (more than typical MAC pigment jars with 4.5g) for just US$1.50 each. The only problem is you won't be able to decide which to buy.

The only thing to note is these pigments are raw ingredients. They don't contain fillers and additives, which can mean more intense vibrant colors, but also poorer adhesion and lasting power. I just get around that problem by using a good primer base or a mixing medium so the pigments stick.

When you dampen your brush with a drop of sealing liquid (e.g. Ben Nye, Mehron, Illamasqua, Inglot and more artist brands have their own versions of these) before dipping into pigment, and apply these like liquid shadows, you get incredibly intense color that is also budge-proof. You can't easily do that with powdered shadows because the liquids will seal the surface of pressed shadows and ruin them.

With loose pigments, you don't have to worry about that.

For this eye look, I was going for maximum pigment intensity, so I had 
  • a layer of black matte cream as a base all over the lids
  • a deep bronzer as a transition shade in the socket (don't feel you always have to buy a separate eye shadow pan - bronzer is more economical and multi-purpose)
  • a rich duochrome aqua blue with a green shift (TKB Trading Capricorn Sea, which is discontinued now - Indian Blue is a nice alternative)
  • a paler translucent blue with gold sparkle as a highlight shade (TKB Ocean Green)

A couple of tricks to getting a more dimensional look with loose pigments:
  1. Use a dark base - this helps grab pigments and intensify them; the only time to avoid a black base is when you are using a pigment that is quite translucent.
  2. Use a matte transition in a contrasting tone - here I used a very warm bronze to contrast against the blue and bring out the green tones more.
  3. Apply a first layer of the loose pigment dry, THEN foil a bit with a mixing medium and pack a damp layer of just inside the edges of the first layer as a liquid shadow, so the color goes from soft outside to maximum intensity in the center.
  4. The best highlight shade to complement an intense duochrome is one that echoes the color of the duochrome when it hits the light. In this case, Capricorn Sea has a pale aqua shift, so I picked Ocean Green to be the pale center shade for the halo eye look, and also to apply around the inner corners.

It doesn't really look like I am wearing 2 blues - the paler shade is there just to add more depth and complexity to the main turquoise shade.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

LANEIGE New Two Tone Shadow and Lip Bars

I have a bit of a strange fascination with LANEIGE's popular Two Tone Lip Bars (SG$34) - those strange rectangular tubes of crayola-like dual-colored lipsticks that allow you to create ombre lips in a couple of swipes.

Nevermind that I actually never wear them out as intended, as ombre lips. I do wear ombre lips quite often actually, but I like them subtle. Meaning the two shades are no more than a few tones apart, so there is dimension but it's not "obviously two colors" on my lips. LANEIGE's lip bars pair very deep/strong and pale shades together, and if you're not careful it can look a bit crazy.

My preferred way to wear LANEIGE's Two Tone Lip Bars is to hold the two sides horizontally side-ways - as a single combined shade.

Because they're all frikkin' nice mixed together. They definitely gave thought to how the two shades in each bar combine and blend together.

The release of 4 additional new shades in 2016 is no different.

I kinda took my time to post a review because I popped one of the shades right into my purse the very day after I received them and never got down to swatching.

No 11 - Coral and yellow mixed to a warm papaya
No 12 - Red and nude mixed to a soft warm cherry
No 13 - Tangerine and beige mixed to a soft orange
No 14 - Rose and beige mixed to a rich fuchsia

As with the original 10 shades, these have a gorgeously creamy and pigmented texture and go on like butta'.

I have a bit more of a mixed response to the Two Tone Shadow Bars.
They're equally fascinating to me - I just love the bars and they seem like they would be a great idea. Two in one cream shadow sticks. But somehow, after the initial excitement, I'm not entirely sure they're the greatest idea ever.

Unlike with lipsticks, it's not actually troublesome to blend two shades together on your eyes quickly. In fact, it's very, very easy. Ironically these Two Tone Shadow Bars - pretty as they are - ended up making it very, very hard.

Firstly, the flat rectangular tips make it extremely hard to apply across the lids. In fact they are downright uncomfy if you want to get a full swipe across your eye. Good luck trying to get both shades evenly across your eye in one or two swipes. Eyes are curved, and a straight edge is just not going to be able to get two colors on quickly.

Also if you like to apply lighter shades on the inner half of your lids and darker shades in the outer corners, you can't do that with these sticks. And never mind that the socket is curved away from the lash line in the center of the eye. These sticks will give you a stripe cutting straight across your eyeball and socket. 

This somewhat reminds me of those L'oreal One Sweep Shadows from a few years back. (Read: someone who obviously doesn't apply makeup thought those palettes would be a really clever idea.)

I somehow feel if they had split the two colors into a double-ended stick with one color on each end, it would work a bit better. Putting it together ombre style is a new and fun idea - but in the end, it's just feels like something created to ride on the coat-tails of the successful ombre lip bars, and not because it's actually a great idea for the eyes.

Unlike the Lip Bars, the pigmentation is not quite strong enough for the two tones to have enough contrast against each other and if you go back and forth to get a noticeable ombre effect on the much smealler lid area, and you mostly end up with what looks like a single shade.

The colors themselves are actually pretty darned nice, if a little lacking in options - there are 4 all-warm colors currently:

No 1 - coral and peachy champagne
No 2 - rose-gold and champagne
No 3 - orange and champagne
No 4 - chocolate and champagne

There are no cooler-toned or deeper options aside from No 4, which isn't all that deep once blended on the lids. Also the formula is not designed to be budge-proof, and you're kinda supposed to apply a thin layer of translucent powder over them to set, or use them as base for other shadows. Which kinda mutes the sparkle and defeats the purpose. If you have crease-prone lids, I would skip these.

It's not easy to apply these as an eye base compared to the typical cream shadow sticks or pots because of the awkward shape and the slightly less creamy texture. And on their own they aren't as pigmented and don't set and last as well as many other shadow sticks on the market. 

 I say all this - but I remain very fascinated and I keep using them despite the slight hassle of working with that oblong top and the slightly finnicky formula. Maybe I have an undiscovered fetish for crayons.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Cushion Compact, Nude Finish Illuminating Powder and Malibu Nudes Collection

Bobbi Brown's launching the new Skin Foundation Cushion Compact SPF50 PA+++ first on 24th March (Takashimaya), then everywhere else on 1 April 2016. 

Available at SGD$21 for the case and $54 for the refill and puff, this is an Asia-exclusive launch, so the bad news is it will not be available in the Western markets. (The good news is there may be something similar coming out for the other markets at a later time, but I don't have any more information on that at this time!)
From 24-30 March 2016, you can purchase 2 refills + case for $108 at Takashimaya.
Skin Foundation Cushion Compact is meant to:
  • recharge and rejuvenate - it contains lychee and caffeine, which I am excited about because that can help tone and perk up skin, and also help with puffiness. There is also Pink Silk Tree Extract to calm and soothe skin irritations.
  • protect - moisturizers protect the skin barrier and retain moisture, while high SPF protects skin from sun exposure
  • create a glowing, flawless finish - the formula is lightweight and gives a glow, but also promises to control oil and brighten the skin without smearing, fading or caking
That certainly sets up very high expectations - moisturizing plus oil-control would be a tough order to fulfill for most formulas. To be honest, I'd just be happy with any cushion that actually sets and does not smear or fade easily. I also really like the idea of a caffeine-containing foundation formula. (The reason they come packed like espresso pods!) Caffeine is what makes Clarins' Shaping Facial Lift work at de-puffing and tightening facial contours, and this makes a great perk-up in the morning if you're slightly puffy.

Another interesting thing is the cushion itself is NOT soaked with foundation. The cream to liquid formula is under the sponge itself, and is "dispensed" in small doses only when you press down each time. It isn't exposed to air so much right from the start.

The coverage is light-medium - it does even out the skin tone a bit, but I find it doesn't build up a whole lot with the puff. I find it easier to use a finger to dab and pat on more coverage where I need. It does brighten and cover circles and sallowness - I have darkness around my chin, eyes and cheeks and this evens everything out while looking quite radiant and natural.

The best part is probably the fact that it does set.
It takes a few minutes, and having some powder will help, but it does eventually set on the skin and become less shiny. It also surprisingly managed to make my pores look less obvious. The finish is more dewy than YSL Le Cushion Encre de Peau, somewhat similar to what you'd get with LANEIGE's Pore Control cushion.

It did stay relatively fresh for me through a day's wear - it didn't fade, smear or get shiny quickly; then again I have rather dry areas and only a slightly oily T-zone. I can say it's fine for combination skins, but I am not able to say based on personal experience if it can stay intact on the very oily. This also didn't noticeably oxidize for me, so that was a good thing.

One thing I did notice is it can sometimes crease under the eyes for me. That's not really a fault of the product because most non-matte foundations tend to do this anyway. If that is a concern for you, you should probably avoid creamy products there.

Another item which has just launched, which I do want to highlight as well - is the new Nude Finish Illuminating Powder.  There are 6 shades available in Singapore (Porcelain is shown here), each priced at SG$83, and each contains a blend of 6 different skin-tone powders with a  beautiful variation of of finishes and undertones. It can be used as an illuminating face powder for all over, or you can pick a lighter or darker shade to highlight or bronze up your face.

I personally feel there is a bit of a sheen and sparkle which makes it not quite so suitable for use as a contour powder. But for highlighting and bronzing it is beautiful. I swept Porcelain around my brow bone and cheekbones below. It's ultra-subtle, soft-focus highlighting, for times when you don't want an obvious dewy or pearly shimmer. Highly recommend checking this powder out.

Then of course, there are the Spring Malibu Nudes collection, which launches 27 March at all Robinsons department stores and island-wide from 7 April. This collection features three blush duos, 6 Art Sticks, and the key piece, the 5-shade Nude on Nude eyeshadow palette ($89). 

Shades from left: Nude (new), Cement, Wheat, Espresso, Malted (new)
The textures of the shadows in this all-matte palette are super smooth - although I kinda wish there was one paler shade and one more slightly deeper transition shade, rather than 3 soft medium tones which are interchangeable for each other and not all that far apart.

I did the super simple warm look below using:

  • Nude - all over lids up to socket line
  • Wheat - soft cool-toned beige right in center of lid
  • Espresso - in outer corners
  • Ink Liner in black - along roots of lashes
  • Gel Liner in Caviar Ink - right above the black liquid liner, extended out into a wing
  • Eye Opening Mascara in black - on lashes

On the cheeks I used theTawny/Peony blush duo ($70; which is also an Asia exclusive, but you can pick any warm pink blush and bronzer), and on the lips I applied the ever-popular Brown Berry Art Stick ($38), which is surprisingly not as deep and rosy as I had initially expected, considering the name.

This isn't the whole collection of course - there are a lot of stronger lip colors, which are beautiful, but Brown Berry is a great every-day warmer-than-nude shade and this lasts for hours and hours.