Sunday, May 22, 2016

Silver Lilac Lids

Here's a quick and easy but high-impact look that I've been wearing often lately. I've owned a whole set of Australis Metallix shadows for awhile and haven't talked about them much because they're a little perplexing. 

They are made of the most beautiful sparkly flecks of metallic pigments. But the pigments are suspended in a very old-fashioned creamy base that creases and doesn't set, unlike the budge-proof cream shadows we're used to today.

However, these are great for layering - and I prefer them on top of shadows mostly - as a pop of metallic sheen in the center of the lids. But for some of the deeper shades, I just use them as a base for sparkly loose pigments, like Sparklers from Make Up Geek.

One of my favorite combinations these days is a silvery violet duo; Lana Del Grey from Australis and Aurora from Make Up Geek.

One bad thing about using the Metallix shadows as base is the flecks of pigments are quite large so you often get a slightly patchier coverage and gaps if you try to blend for too long. It's a product suited for dramatic sparkle and making a statement from a certain distance.

Other products used for this look:
  • Taupe transition shadow: Innisfree Mineral Single Shadow 40
  • Black matte shadow: Bourjois Intense Extrait de Fard 10
  • Black liquid liner: KATE Super Sharp Liner in Black
  • Metallic indigo pencil: Urban Decay 24/7 Pencil in Tornado
  • Black mascara: Benefit Rollerlash Mascara

P.S. Run a little along the outer 1/3 of the lower lashes as well if you want more definition
Finish with mascara
The eye makeup looks both soft and dramatic at the same time. It mostly looks like a light silver or lavender eye depending on the light, but then when you blink and the light catches on the pigments, it looks like molten metal.

I've worn it to work a few times, and it does get attention, but I don't consider it overly dramatic compared to a full-on smoky eye or glitter.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sunday "Face of the Day": Gold and Chocolate feat. some Recent Faves

INGLOT's reopened in Singapore (a temporary pop-up at Robinsons JEM from now until Aug 2016) after a short hiatus, and one of the star launches you should check out is the HD Lip Tint Mattes.

When it comes to matte liquid lipsticks, I tend to go for the reds, nudes, pinks, purples... This time round I suddenly thought I should go for the one shade that is severely under-represented in my very bloated lip color collection. Brown.

I can't wear browns usually. They make me look a bit dead. The exception is when they are very deep and dark. And this is a PERFECT shade for this sort of uber-matte velvet texture. Looks like antique brown velvet. So I'm very in love with this lip product right now.

I did also want to put on a number of other recent things that have really caught my attention.

LANEIGE's reformulated BB Cushion Pore Control

I was raving about this product on Dayre the other day, because I finally feel they've come out with a formula that can resist sweat and shine for a decent amount of time. The original Pore Control cushion was less dewy than the original Whitening formula, but it never really felt like it was made for oilier skins.

This new one sets to a fresh clean feel and doesn't transfer onto your fingers or feel tacky on the skin. It doesn't go to a flat matte, but it also doesn't look shiny, if that makes sense. Give it a couple of minutes and it goes to a demi-matte skin-like texture with light-medium coverage that can blur discolorations and faint blemishes.

I also like the new cushion with the textured, firm surface. I get a more controlled amount of product, and the foundation doesn't just all soak through the puff where it is wasted. This also makes it so much easier for me to clean my puffs regularly.

I'm also testing the new Whitening Cushion from LANIEGE, which has more advanced skincare properties, but so far - just in terms of how they look and perform through the day, the Pore Control formula is my pick. Both formulas have SPF50 PA+++.

ALBION Elegance La Poudre Haute Nuance

Now this gorgeous thing is ALBION's Elegance La Poudre Haute Nuance. If you're like me, you probably did not know ALBION had a powder. This Japanese skincare brand is famed for their robust science and research, and being suppliers to the Japanese royal family.

But they've also launched a permanent line of skin illuminating powder, a la Guerlain Meteorites.

The Elegance La Poudre Haute Nuances were previously a limited edition holiday release (SG$125 for the 8.8g pan, $188 for the 27g), but were so popular that the brand has decided to include them into the permanent line-up. Yay for us.

The best-seller and classic shade is I, which I am testing here.

The powder texture is so fine that you get a very matte, poreless look and a very illuminated effect because of the color-correctors. There is no shimmer at all. The powder is also designed to be oil and water resistant, so it keeps you looking fresh for longer.

It comes with a small soft puff, and you use it like a pressed powder, but I personally prefer to use a small soft brush instead, because illuminating powders can leave a bit of a cast around the edges of your face which powder puffs only exacerbate - and powder puffs tend to be the worst culprits because they deposit so much product around the outsides.

If you're bringing the gold compact out for touch-ups by all means use the puff; most of us touch up around the T-zone and inside areas of the face. This can brighten and counteract some of the oxidation and darkening that tends to occur when wearing foundations for more than a few hours.

Now my point makeup: INGLOT!

Because my lips were so dark and matte, I wanted luminous iridescent lids to balance out the look.

INGLOT has released about 5 new AMC Pure Pigment Shadows (SG$29) this season - and I always love these things because they are often duochrome, or even triple-chrome. Turn you face different angles, and you get 2-3 different colors on the lids. I picked out 3 faves - 22, 118, and 119.

INGLOT AMC Pure Pigment Shadows in 22 (left) and 118.
For today's look, I went with a brown chubby pencil around the lid and lashes (MAC Bitter Clove) just to add some shape and definition first, then layered on the pigments. 

I like to use these damp, with a drop of mixing liquid or Duraline for all-day wear. You can also use eye drops. Just dampen your finger, dip it into the pigment, and then smooth the mixture over your lids like a cream.

As for the lips, I've already mentioned the HD Lip Tint Matte in shade 18 (SG$32). This goes on a milk chocolate color but they almost always darken after a few minutes, so make sure you leave the swatches on your skin for a few minutes before picking a shade.

This formula actually feels pretty lightweight and not as dry as I feared. And it does set to a perfect matte in a minute without looking patchy. These don't smudge or feather, and I also don't use lip liners with them because they are quite precise. Just arm yourself with a clean cotton bud to rub out any mistakes before the product sets.

Makeup before/after!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab: A Quick Rave

I'm a compulsive fragrance polygamist. I love perfumes but have zero attention span so I go from scent to scent on a daily basis; sometimes multiple scents within a day. Which can be an expensive hobby.

And then I discovered Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab (BPAL for short), which is a little piece of niche heaven because there are so many options to choose from - upward of 600+ at any time - in manageable sizes and prices (compared to other niche perfumes). And as it so often is, instead of saving more because the unit cost is lower, I end up trying way more items for the same price.

The essential oil-size bottles contain at least 5ml and cost mostly between US$17.50 - $24, although there are a few lines that are priced at a steep $30. From what I understand it mostly depends on the whether BPAL has to pay licensing rights for the intellectual property; names and art on the bottles. E.g. Crimson Peak, Coraline, etc. $17.50 seems expensive, ml for ml compared to even high-end pur parfum. However what you need to remember is these are more concentrated than typical parfum extrait today, and one bottle lasts for months and months. You absolutely do not apply these the way you would regular alcohol-based perfumes.

Concentrations vary between formulas but some contain as little as 20% carrier oil.
This doesn't mean "80% essential oil", which would be alarming and not for direct topical application on skin (not to mention overly pungent and often unpleasant to smell). Many fragrance compounds come already pre-cut from ingredient suppliers. I can only say I haven't had a single issue with any of the BPALs I tried, but as with any beauty product, you should test a tiny bit on your skin and monitor for any reactions regardless.

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab's top-seller, Snake Oil, is a lush blend of "Indonesian spices sugared with vanilla" - I smell vanilla with patchouli, maybe cinnamon and cloves
Some of the best BPALs come from the general collection, which is great because they're available year-round. I always ask readers to start with the Beloved Favorites section. These are the bestsellers over the years - classics like Snake Oil, Dorian, Alice, Bliss, etc. And the non-limited edition scents can also be purchased as $4 sample vials.

After testing a few of these you will begin to get a sense of what notes you like from BPAL, and from there, which other scents have similar notes. Likewise, you start to know what notes to avoid on yourself. I personally love BPAL's vanillas, honeys, and cocoa notes on my skin. Most of their florals are ok - the fruits are hit and miss with me. (I say me because it's affected by skin chemistry.) I find their vetiver a little too bitter and medicinal for my tastes; it reminds me distinctly of ginseng, and I'm just not sure if I want that in a perfume. Their orris is also a note that doesn't work for me - I smell a fetid, unpleasant, "wet animal" stink which I don't really see other reviewers mentioning.

BPAL uses a lot of natural compounds in their scents (I've never seen any official confirmation or validation from the company on whether it is 100% so I don't want to say it is all-natural). A lot of people say they use synthetics because notes like lilies, orchid, chocolate do not exist in nature. However it IS possible to obtain these through blending several natural essences. More expensive for sure, but definitely possible. And I've also seen people describe Candy Butcher as "fake-smelling chocolate" when ironically, this is the cocoa fragrance where I see actual bits of cocoa absolute floating in the oil. It all boils down to skin chemistry and your nose.

As a base, I'm quite certain they use fractionated coconut oil (or if they use mineral oil, a very high-grade one) because typical organic oils will go rancid after a few months; something to watch out for if you are buying fragrance oils from other companies. People have 5, 10 year old BPAL bottles where the scent ingredients have "aged" and mellowed like good rum, but the product has not gone rancid, which is the only reason I feel safe amassing such a big collection from them.

Dorian (as in Dorian Grey) is a ice-creamy vanilla tea, with musk, tangy bergamot - plus maybe a twist of lavender - to give it an aromatic Earl Grey twist
The forum is a fantastic resource for tons of reviews about absolutely every scent BPAL has ever released. You can get a better idea of how a scent smells on different people, which notes are stronger, how long it seems to last, etc. I would say to never blind buy a bottle without at least reading the latest/newest reviews, because BPAL hand-blends their scents in small batches for freshness, and the proportions as well as the raw materials (how strong, how sweet, how sour, etc) can vary a bit from batch to batch especially since a lot of naturals are involved here.

I will only cover two of my general-catalogue favorites in this post just to keep things short - the rest will need some time to go over!

Snake Oil
Described as: Magnetic, mysterious, exceedingly sexual in nature. A blend of exotic Indonesian oils sugared with vanilla.
My experience: Initially in the bottle, it was medicinal patchouli (maybe with a little clove and/or cinnamon) dribbled in sugar syrup to me. But on the skin, this warms up to a warm, ambery powdery scent that smells a bit like old-school European talcum powder - and also the soft enveloping dry-down of Guerlain's Shalimar. I got several compliments when I started wearing this; oddly enough all from men.

Described as a Victorian fougere, with three pale musks and dark, sugared vanilla tea.
My experience: I don't smell much musk; it's mostly a very creamy vanilla with aromatic black tea and a bright tangy twist courtesy of either bergamot or lavender. This is sweet and quite gourmand, but it's not a dark tea. It's creamy, luscious and blonde.

Both scents I did not like straight out of the bottle when I first got them. Snake oil was medicinal and Dorian smelt a bit flat and odd. Which brings me to the last two points you should remember about BPAL.

  1. Wear them on the skin - I have not come across many that smelt on the skin the way they do straight from the bottle. Give them time to warm up and come alive on your skin. There are scents like Milk Chocolate Myrrh and Gunpowder which smell a bit "off" out of bottle. But 10 minutes later I was sniffing around, wondering what smelt so divine.
  2. Give them time to age - Most bottles I disliked have improved significantly somewhat in the 1-2 weeks after I receive them. It's quite a known thing that BPALs go through quite a transformation in the first month or so, and different notes and facets come out after the ingredients have settled. A little like allowing fragrance to cure in candles before burning them.

Notes are self explanatory for the 2016 Bonbon, Milk Chocolate Myrrh and Gunpower; this is mouthwatering like fudge, yet simultaneously inedible and smoky. 
I have a backup for my backup of Milk Chocolate, Myrrh and Gunpowder, because it will likely never be available again after it sells out. It's not a scent I recommend for everyone, but for me it is pleasingly odd. You have something that makes me salivate; a fudgy, almost buttery melt-in-your-mouth chocolate note, juxtaposed against incense-y myrrh, and smoky gunpowder. I don't know WHAT possessed them to think of this combination but I love it to death.

(For less adventurous gourmand lovers, try Bliss, my favorite single-note chocolate scent around, bar none. Not fake wax-fragrance body-lotion chocolate. Not oily cocoa butter chocolate.) This smells like melted chocolate with a hint of Nutella/Gianduja. I have to close my eyes involuntarily whenever I take a deep breath of it because it does induce a moment of bliss. All the chocolate scents I've tried over the years have either become straight vanilla after 10 mins or smelt a bit fake and flat. 

Until BPAL - from whence I have amassed quite a number of chocolate-based scents:
  • 2016 Bonbons*
  • Bliss
  • Boomslang (cocoa + snake oil; what could be better?)
  • Candy Butcher (dark, unsweetened bitter cocoa with a metallic floral undertone)
  • The High-ranking Courtesan* (white chocolate and patchouli blend; smells like a sweeter version of Chanel Coromandel)
  • The Other Hot Chocolate - 90% dark chocolate 10% faint herbal bitterness
  • Velvet - chocolate and sandalwood, one of my fave notes
  • Vice - chocolate-covered cherries with chocolate-dipped oranges

*limited edition

My obsessive compulsiveness in a box. I order my BPALs alphabetically and stick a label below/behind indicating how many points I give each out of 5.

To see a few more short reviews and discussions on some other BPALs in my collection, check out my Dayre posts here, here, here and here

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Changi Airport The Shilla Beauty Giveaway, plus iShopChangi Promotions and Coupon Code

As mentioned in my previous post on great gifts for mom, there is a great giveaway for readers of the Makeup Box who are in Singapore to collect the prize.

The Shilla Beauty Bag Giveaway (8 – 15 May 2016, 23:59 Singapore time)

Changi Airport’s The Shilla Duty Free is sponsoring a goodie bag (worth SG$200) to one lucky reader. Simply look for my corresponding Instagram or Facebook post and comment to say:
  • WHICH gift in the Anyday Gifts for Mom post is your personal favourite and WHY
  •  Tag @shilladutyfreesg and @changiairport in your comment so we don't miss the entry
  • [UPDATE] I've just learnt from many of you that IG is blocking many of your comments - we did some tests and found out it's because of a new algorithm that prevents spam-tagging contests on IG. Please skip the tagging!
The shortlisted contestant will be contacted privately on Instagram or Facebook on 16 May to obtain your contact information and share collection details. 
(If you are unable to respond before 18 May, another winner will be selected.)

Good luck!

iShopChangi Promotion Code "CANDICECHEN" Terms & Conditions

Limited to the first 100 redemptions by 30 Jun 2016 (2359hrs, SG time). One-time use per customer.

The discount value is in Singapore currency and is only valid with a minimum spend of S$200 in a single transaction at

The promo code is only for bona fide outbound, inbound and transit passengers travelling through or arriving in Singapore Changi Airport.

The promo code is valid for one-time use per customer, is non-exchangeable, and cannot be used in conjunction with any other promotions, offers, eVouchers etc.

The promo code is considered redeemed if the customer cancels the order.

Changi Airport Group (Singapore) Pte Ltd reserves the right to vary the terms and conditions herein at any time at its discretion.

Gorgeous “Anyday” Gifts for Mom from The Shilla Duty Free at

I remember sneaking into my mom's makeup drawer CONSTANTLY as a child. It felt as if the magical tubes and pots could somehow transform me from gawky tomboy with thick glasses and a questionable haircut into a beautiful woman like her.

Mom has always been a glamorous figure to me. I remember when she came to pick me up in school, my classmates gathered around to ask “Why is your mom so pretty?”

For someone I associate with glamour and poise, it still surprises me how much of a minimalist she is. Then again, she grew up in poverty as a child, left home to supplement the family income at 6, and to this day will think twice about spending $10 on a meal or purchasing a drugstore lipstick.

Today, I still raid her drawers. But I do it to clear out those $2 pencils, $5 lipsticks, old sponges, and 2-year old mascaras she can’t bear to throw. I keep her skincare drawer stocked, her LANEIGE cushion compacts filled, her favourite YSL lipstick shade available, and her Lancome mascara fresh. I cluck my tongue when she says she can’t bear to use the Dior loose powder I gave her.

It should never be about waiting for Mother’s Day to show mom appreciation. But sometimes we need Mother’s Day to come around as a reminder that it’s not always their job to put everyone else ahead of themselves.

If you’re looking for some last minute tokens of appreciation here, you are not too late. Below are 10 beauty gifts, broken down by personality types for easy reference (and a bit of fun). If you or someone you know is traveling soon, there is an exclusive iShopChangi promo at the bottom of this post, valid now ‘til 31 June 2016.

 (Also, don’t miss your shot at winning a SG$200 The Shilla beauty hamper! Make sure you go to the supplementary post here) - after reading this one.

Click to expand

The Millennial
She likes things organic, eco-friendly, modern and effective without too much fuss and frippery. She thinks it’s what’s inside that counts, and believes in the power of nature to heal and restore.

This minimalist set includes cleanser, toner, cream, and balm for daily use – plus the wonderful Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask – to help treat, soothe, hydrate, and neutralise skin-aging pollutants.

Fans of Fresh’s Seaberry Oils (like me) will enjoy the simple luxury of a tube of buttery, smoothing antioxidant treatment for dry hands and cuticles.

The Lady
She’s feminine, well-mannered, polished, and has a girlish streak. Her beauty regime is surprisingly pared down and usually focuses around just one or two favourite star products that she has used for years.