Thursday, July 14, 2016

Lust, Not Must: Luxe Beauty Products I Prefer Not To Be Without

You know there are always products that you buy even though you know logically, that there are lot of affordable alternatives? They aren’t a “MUST” and life most definitely can go on without them. However budget allowing, you will keep going for these - over cheaper alternatives - every time. 
Here are some of mine!
Tom Ford Eye Color Quads - so pricey, but so gorgeous. And the color combinations are always so beautifully put together that you don’t need to be great at color coordination to put a great eye look together.
Fresh Sugar Lip Balms - finding perfect lip balm is like finding a perfect mascara; everyone likes something different. And it's like Goldilocks trying different bowls of porridge when you're looking for the perfect one - some are not moisturizing enough, some are too gloopy and sticky, some are too runny, some are too thick... I always sigh despairingly at how expensive a tube of Fresh Sugar balm is compared to something I can pick up at the drugstore - but I always repurchase them. And I sigh and wish I was one of those for whom Maybelline Babylips works just fine.
YSL Rouge Volupte Lipsticks - no these are not the most expensive lipsticks I own; but I do use them up pretty darned fast because they are so soft and creamy and need lots of touching up through the day. But we still love them.
La Mer The Intensive Revitalizing Mask - sleeping packs and leave-on masks are a dime a dozen these days. So why do I have to fall in love with one of the most expensive ones around? This is instantly nourishing but still feels fresh on my dry skin. The comfortable feeling and glow lasts for the whole day.
Aurelia Bamboo Muslin Cloths - hot cloth cleansing has made a world of difference for my skin. It polishes and exfoliates without irritating my dry and semi-sensitive skin. And these anti-bacterial, ultra-soft muslins are still my favorite. I remove makeup and use a cream cleanser, then dampen one of these in hot water and finish my face cleansing routine with a few wipes. No foaming wash required.
Serge Lutens fragrances - no these aren’t the priciest as far as niche scents are concerned, but I definitely have more favorites from this line - and use these more - than my Frederic Malles or any of the other niche lines. So naturally I wish they were cheaper or came in larger, more economical sizes than the standard 50ml.
La Prairie Skin Caviar Foundation and Concealer - this costs a veritable bomb. But it makes my skin feel so good and gives such a perfected, luminous, demi-matte finish that I just buy it against my better judgment. Plus, having a matching concealer in the cap is just - handy.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Urban Decay Alice Through The Looking Glass palette

Urban Decay's released their Alice Through The Looking Glass palette (SGD$88) in Singapore and here are swatches and a couple of quick eye looks, plus my first impressions on the shades.

The presentation is beautiful if you have a predilection for fantastical, psychedelic dream-scapes. The material is cardboard so this is not a heavy palette. Everything is in theme with the visuals in Alice Through The Looking Glass. 

The palette itself comes with a mirror, a quote from Alice, and a foldout that reveals a big blue butterfly within.

It's no surprise that the colors in the palette echo the tones seen throughout the movie. But aside from 4 brighter shades, the palette is filled with lots of neutrals. This is actually a rather versatile palette. There are plenty of options to create either bright and colorful, or soft and wearable looks.

What I always like doing is to combine neutrals and color. This allows me to create flattering, wearable looks that have just enough of a pop of color to make things fun and eye-catching. If you want, you can go to town with mostly bright colors, or play it safe with neutrals.

Shades used below:
A little navy pencil along upper lash line and outer 1/3 of lower lashes
 Bandersnatch and Metamorphosis around lash line
Dormouse as transition along socket
Duchess on lid
Royal Flush on inner corners

Lashes used: Ardell 120 Demis
I wish I could say all the shades are consistently good, but as with many palettes, there are some stellar shades, some so-so, and one so poor quality that I was actually shocked.

In the first row, the two greens, Hatter and Heads Will Roll, were so-so. Time, the gunmetal with a slight blue sparkle, is incredible. I got that swatch in just a single touch.

Dream On - now how did this shade make it into the palette??!
I had to rub a few times just to get that faint grey sparkly stain you see in the image. It's not really an overcoat type of shadow - the texture is too dry and the color is too deep. I'm just puzzled why this shade made the grade; shouldn't there be a minimum quality requirement for Urban Decay shadows?

That aside, most of the other shades are pretty nice in this row. I love Gone Mad and Duchess, and Reflection is a can't-go-wrong matte beige.

As for the warm-themed third row. These 5 shades make a perfect Fall palette.

I had initially expected Metamorphosis to be a bit bright and garish, but it's actually a nice periwinkle satin blue. Pretty.

Also, Cake looks very bright but if you blend it in with other shades it's just a soft warm rose shade, as in the look below.

Shades used below:
Cake in the socket and blended out towards the temple
Paradox on the lid
Gone Mad in outer corner
 Lily around inner corners
A little black liner smudged along the lash line, and a bit of Time blended over it to smoke out the line 

Lashes used: Ardell 110s

Both looks were done using a mix of brushes and without any eyeshadow primer.

This is a 2/3 neutrals, 1/3 colors palette. I think this is a good option for those who maybe want to experiment a bit with colors once in awhile, but mainly want plenty of neutral everyday shades. The quality is generally good, aside from that strangely unpigmented shade Dream On, everything performs pretty well. The brights are all pretty sheer and blend out quite easily, so it's probably more suited to those who aren't too daring with colors yet. Don't expect an intensely bright effect from the greens, blues and pink unless you really pack on the pigments over a good primer.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Sixteen92 Summer 2016 Fragrances

I've been giving most of the Sixteen92 Summer 2016 release a test-run, and I believe I've tried all of them with the exception of "Rid of Me".

The collection is mostly inspired by the 90s Riot Grrrl movement and 90s rock chicks, and are named after specific songs. The scents however, are decidedly modern and quite quirky, which is kinda what I expect of indie perfumery lines like these.

I spoke about scents from the Sixteen92 general catalogue in a previous post, as well as general information on pricing, shipping etc, so if you want to take a look at that, hop over to this page. I'll focus this post on the Summer 2016 collection, which like all seasonal collections is available for a limited period while stocks last.

There are about 10 scents in total - 9 of which I've tried so far.

Sixteen92 Summer 2016 scents Part 1

BELLS FOR HERSweet basil, dandelion, star jasmine, green vines, mandarin, ozone, green tea, crushed mint
This was a surprise hit for me. I had wanted a fresh scent that wouldn't be sweet or fruity, and this one is a gorgeous green-floral. 70% green, 30% delicate jasmine. The hint of mandarin and ozone almost creates a fig-like note. Aromatic without being sugary. This is one I will stock up on since I don't know when it will go away for good. It wouldn't be out of place on a Jo Malone or Diptyque counter.

BRUISE VIOLET - Red lipstick accord, dusting powder, white iris, violet leaf, Damascus & Bulgarian rose, red grapefruit zest
The inside of a makeup bag that holds high-end lipsticks and powders, all scented with powdery iris, violet and rose. If you muted the powder slightly and amped the gorgeous florals, you would get Bruise Violet. There is even a slightly waxy undertone that REALLY smells (pleasantly) like a tube of lipstick. Pretty amazing, and for a makeup lover like me, utterly fun.

DOLL PARTSRhubarb, white cake, white peach, cassis, osmanthus, ginger flower
You get a soft burst of fruity peach and cassis at first, but it dies down and the sweet vanilla cake accord comes out. Not a heavy buttery pound cake but the softer fluffier type. I'm not a huge fan of peach in fragrances usually because it has a tendency to blend with and make other notes smell a bit candy-like and artificial so I was happy that this doesn't happen with Doll Parts. After dry-down you get a rather light vanilla cake and sweet rhubarb jam. Nice and pretty, and far less cloying than you might imagine.

NEW RADIOVanilla milkshake accord, maraschino cherry, pink lemonade, grass clippings, waffle cone
This is one for the gourmand lovers. This is creamy-smooth vanilla ice cream on a sweet vanilla waffle cone, then the green vegetal grass clippings come in to balance out the sweetness. This is the thing that makes the scent unique and not just another heavy bakery dessert scent. The overall effect is standing on grass, eating vanilla ice cream with a hint of fruitiness around the edges. The pink lemonade never comes out for me; it's far far away in the background adding a tiny bit of freshness and keeping the vanilla milkshake accord from being flat and cloying. Oddly enough the waffle cone leaves, then returns, then leaves, then returns. Another favorite of mine.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Shu Uemura Color Atelier Eye Shadow Swatches and Review

Shu Uemura has revamped their eyeshadow line and added an additional 41 shades, They will also be resurrecting 5 discontinued shades, so the total will eventually add up to 100 whopping colors.

Currently in Singapore, there is stock for 82 colors. 41 new, 41 catalogue. Once stock issues have been sorted out all 100 shades in 6 textures (matte, pearl, metallic, shimmer, iridescent, and glitter) will be available for you to pick to your heart's content. 

If you've never purchased Shu shadows before, you'll know they usually work with a custom-system where you buy empty 4-pan palettes for SGD$25 (that's the most common size) and slot in individual shadows at $22 each. The shadows are very reasonably priced as far as high-end shadows go in Singapore, but the palettes themselves tend to be a bit expensive.

If you're put off by that, what a lot of people do is keep their eyeshadows and blushes in the original plastic cases, buy one or two eyeshadow palettes, and just slot in 4 shadows - or 2 shadows and a blush - whenever they need to bring their makeup around. (Or skip the palette entirely if you don't travel or have large custom palettes already; it's up to you.)

Grey-toned smoky eye done with the 4-pan palette pictured at top of post
Shu Uemura shadows have always been great quality; there's no dispute on that. But I've always felt their strength was in the metallic (ME), iridescent (IR) and glitter (G) textures, and not so much the mattes, which were not as buildable or blendable.

But I was quite surprised after swatching 41 new and 2 re-promoted shades below that a lot of the mattes were actually my favorites of the lot. They are designed to have high color fidelity; what you see is what you get. And the textures are also meant to be ultra-smooth and easy to blend.

My custom palette is composed of the below shades:
M 907 -  matte white (catalogue)
M 613 - matte baby aqua (new)
M 935 - matte dove grey (new)
IR 685 - iridescent navy (new)