Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Blood-rose lips: A deep, dark obsession (and tips for wearing it in the day)

Just a few favorite deep dark berry rose shades in my collection
The first lip color I can remember obsessing over as a child (yes - I started young) was a deep dark vampy noir red. Not pink, not peach, not red. I even recall the excitement I felt when I realized for the first time that it was POSSIBLE to even wear a color that dark on the lips.

It looked gorgeous. I was in love.

As an adult, I've built quite a collection of deep dark lip shades over the years, but let's face it - for most of us, these gorgeous blood colored shades don't get a lot of air time because they are so dramatic. Until you learn how versatile they are of course.

L'oreal Infallible Lipstick in 337 Refined Ruby worn sheer

One of my favorite things to do on days when I don't want to spend too much time on my makeup is to take one of these vampy reds and wear it as a translucent matte wash over the lips, over a neutral lip pencil. The final effect is polished but not harsh, relaxed but still dressy.

Steps:
  1. Apply nude/neutral pencil around the edges of lips and blend in a bit so it's not a visible line
  2. Swipe your deep dark lipstick in the center of the lower lip only (this is usually the perfect amount to achieve this effect)
  3. Press your lips together a few times to transfer and spread the color onto the rest of your mouth
  4. Use a brush or your finger to tap and spread the color out to the edges of your lips

The edge of the mouth is not meant to be harsh and precise so I prefer fingers over brushes. Also, this is a great way to make your dark lipsticks go further, both in terms of being able to use them for more occasions, and also from the perspective that you really need very little product each time.
Choosing a red:

Not every dark red works the same way though. The trick is to look for the ones that sheer out to a cool berry-ish rosy red. There are some that sheer out into a brown or purple tone that can look dull and dirty against the face.

For an example, below are a few good options that are currently in my rotation, although I will also mention a few other old faves.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Pro Yellow Laser - A Safer Way to Remove Freckles, Pigmentation and Redness for Asian Skin?


The QuadraStar Pro Yellow Laser is considered by many to be one of the latest and best ways to treat surface pigmentation as well as vascular (vein) lesions. Basically those thing that detract from a glowing, even-toned complexion. Dark marks, uneven tones, flushed areas from rosacea, redness and purple marks from broken or dilated capillaries.

Add the ability to kill acne bacteria, regulate oil glands, and subtly firm skin… and heck yeah - I’m in for a trial. In fact I think this might be THE thing to have before your big day or any special occasion.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Shu Uemura Petal Skin Foundation


Petal Skin Fluid Foundation (S$68) launches today (1 April) in Singapore, and is a welcome addition to Shu Uemura's foundation series. Built around the idea of fresh, smooth "effortlessly radiant" skin that looks like a flower petal, the formula aims to combine semi-matte with semi-glow characteristics in a lightweight, velvety smooth formula that feels comfortable and natural on the skin.

I've been test-trying this for the past few weeks now, and I'll say I love the finish and effect this has on the skin.

When I first saw the name, I expected a lightweight, radiant foundation with very light coverage. The things that surprised me were:
  1. the instant pore blurring effect
  2. how much like real skin it looked
  3. the rather impressive medium coverage despite the light texture
Shu Uemura Petal Skin Foundation before-after: 1 coat

Finish:

My pores instantly looked "filtered" as I rubbed it on. The formula contains a unique volatile fluid that glides over skin and disperses pigments in a thin layer, where they bounce light off in a smooth, even sheet for that smoothed-out effect. It also subtly corrects texture and is not settling into or around pores and fine lines or emphasizing them.

Like the pigments in some of the Lightbulb powders, the ultra-fine reflective powders are also spherical so they don't sit on top of the skin in a matte, cakey layer, but diffuse light so you look "lit from within". I'm endlessly fascinated by formulas that manage to bounce light without making you look shiny or emphasizing all your pores and this one does it very well.

Coverage:

While this doesn't give high coverage like The Lightbulb or Smooth:Fit, it managed to give decent coverage and unify my skin tone quite well. I need less concealer when I use this, but if you have active spots or darker pigmentation to cover,this will not have enough concealing power on its own.

You CAN build this up a bit more, and I did try it with 2 coats (below) for a more perfected look, but I would not advise going any thicker because there's no point in losing that fresh, "my skin but better" effect.

Petal Skin Foundation \: 2 coats 

Lasting Power:

I wore this for full days out, and it holds up beautifully on my normal-ish skin, in humid weather, for about 6 or so hours without any blotting, if I set it with a little loose powder. The formula has been tested in Singapore weather so it is quite humidity- and heat-resistant.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

New LANEIGE Silk Intense Lipsticks



LANEIGE has updated their Silk Intense Lipstick range recently with revamped formula, packaging and shades. The new lipsticks come in sleek white and silver magnetized tubes that are more sturdy and grown-up looking than the original.



Compared to the original Silk Intense Lipsticks, the new formula is similar in intensity and coverage and share the same lightweight creme texture. However, I find the new formula less "slippery" feeling and easier to build up. The shades also contain ultra-micronized pigments so they go on more evenly and can be built for opaque coverage or worn sheer without looking patchy.

I've worn these a few days now, and I'm pretty happy with the feel and performance. I have not had issues with them making my dry lips flaky or uncomfortable, which ironically happens with some thinner, more slippery creme lipsticks. In fact, when my lips got quite parched and wrinkly in-between swatches these lipsticks just plumped them right up once I applied the next shade. Despite the creamy hydrating texture, they do last pretty well and a simple wet wipe is surprisingly not sufficient to remove it completely from skin. 

Silk Intense Lipstick 335 Get the Red

There are 35 shades available in Singapore at S$36 each, which is a good price point considering the luxe feel of the formula. They do somewhat remind me of Rouge Diors and Rouge Cocos in formula, with the exception being that the shades are obviously designed to suit Asian/pale-to-medium skin tones.

I've swatched them all below roughly separated by color category or the effect they have on the face, and marked LANEIGE's Star shades with **.

Soft peachy/pink Silk Intense tones
These softer tones look quite soft against the skin but have somewhat "natural" undertones. My personal pick here is 430 Pink Garden. These colors will probably look like pink-nudes or peach-nudes on most people.

430 Pink Garden
The next group are more typical Korean "It" shades. Coraly pink tones with a touch of juicy vibrancy.


I especially love 147 Raspberry Pink, which I'd describe more like watermelon pink, and 142 Love Me New Me, a classic K-style pink coral. Both shades look great worn ombre-style with minimal makeup, for a glowy stained lip effect.

As for the pinks, there are a couple of great ones as well. I personally would not use 101 Neon Pink or 350 Peony on their own but I do love 149 Cherry Popcorn and 362 Urban Jungle especially. I'm usually not a fan of pearlescent pink shades but I also found myself really liking 145 Glam Pink. I suggest applying a tiny bit and pressing your lips together for that rosy baby-lips "no makeup" effect.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Rollover-Reaction Sueded! Lip and Cheek Creams




I'm quite a fan of the latest generation of matte and semi-matte lip creams, one of them being indie Indonesian-based brand Rollover-Reaction, which is gaining quite the cult following locally. They have a capsule series of creams called Sueded! which work as both lipsticks as well as blushes.

I do love a good uber-matte - don't get me wrong - but this year, I'm a bit over the transfer-proof lip, if you know what I mean. I love how they look in photos, freshly applied. They are so dramatic and your lips look "DONE". But I don't love how they feel, how they darken and morph into completely different shades when dry, and how they emphasize every single line. Great for reel life, not so great for real life.

Luxe brands like Dior, Armani, Chanel, NARS, Burberry and Bobbi Brown have their own versions of the "velvet" lip creams which are nothing like the trendy transfer-proof liquid lipsticks a la Kat von D and Jeffree Star. These luxe lip creams are designed to be forgiving to dry and mature lips. Most go on a creamy satin, with the understanding that lip products dry down after some time and become more matte. (You'll see how they are much more matte on my lips versus the arm swatches.)

I've really been enjoying some of these (Burberry and Bobbi Brown in particular) for their ability to look matte and last for hours, while feeling comfortable and not emphasizing dryness. So imagine my pleasant surprise when I applied my first Sueded! shade and thought "Wait - these feel like the Burberry Liquid Velvets!"



Now the Sueded! range is meant for lips and cheeks, so the whole color range is understandably neutral-leaning. (Which is probably great news for a lot of people.) But I do have to say the shades are very different from one another - you're not going to get 3-4 warm rosy beiges that look alike.

Another feature is they have a "cream-to-powder" finish since they are also meant for the cheeks, so they do rub out into a non-greasy texture and will go matte if you don't apply too heavy a layer. These feel slightly different from the typical non-drying lip creams on the lips because of that formula.

Sueded! ingredients

I don't mind that they are not transfer-proof. After all, one of the most annoying things about kiss-proof liquid lips is the fact that they STILL transfer and wear away around the center after you eat, but they aren't easy to touch-up.

As for the shades, I have to say I love Umma, the deep oxblood shade, and Lucy which is a powdery soft orange beige. Saddie is a great rosy brown tone for neutral 90s lip lovers, and I also like Sally as a standard soft peachy nude, while Livv is a unique terracotta shade which is quite lovely too.



 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Shiseido 7 Color Powders Revival Centennial Edition, 7 Lights Powder Illuminator, and Ibuki Smart Filtering Smoother


1917 was the year that venerable Japanese beauty brand Shiseido first branched out from their bestselling skin perfecting concoctions, and decided to offer their first-ever makeup product to their growing clientele of fashionable women in Tokyo.

Long before Guerlain Meteorites, Shiseido's Rainbow Powder was a sensation for its luxurious, stylish, modular packaging and the innovation (at the time) concept of offering 7 different face powders for different effects. 

Rainbow Powders became a fixture on the vanity tables of wealthy women and the most beautiful geisha long before the rest of the modern world fell in love with the idea of color-correcting powders.

Vintage Shiseido Rainbow Powder set

Vintage Shiseido Rainbow Powder case

The basic premise of color-correction still stands today. What makes a lot of sense to me personally, is that everyone has different issues which the standard color-correcting powders today may not be able to fix with the one-size-fits-all approach where you need to swirl together a prescribed mix of shades regardless of whether you might require more or less of certain colors.

With Rainbow Powder, you are in control of how much and which colors you apply to each part of your face.

While this might feel like a hassle for some, I beg to differ because in this day and age when many people want to just slap it on and go (or even whip it on in the car), it is a reminder to be mindful; to pay attention for a moment, to know our faces. And it turns powdering into a luxurious ritual rather than a troublesome last step.

That's why I totally geeked out when Shiseido announced the launch of a special 7 Colors Powder Revival Centennial Edition (S$320) to commemorate the 100th anniversary this Feb. They've replicated the classic fabric wrapped cases housed in an elegant box, each containing a different colored powder. If you're gagging for a set, move fast because there are only 145 kits for sale in Singapore.

7 Colors Powder Revival Centennial Edition
The delicate paper seals have been replaced by sturdy air-tight ones with Shiseido's logo stamped on each, and each case has a corresponding colored tag on the outside as indication of the shades within.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

MAKE UP FOR EVER Artist Acrylip Lip Paints Review


MAKE UP FOR EVER's new Artist Acrylips Lip Paints are full-coverage liquid rouges have been so fun to play with. They do remind me very much of Too Faced Melted Lipsticks, as well as OCC Lip Tars (although these have the added benefit of not separating in the tubes).

These come in squeeze tubes with flocked applicators just like Too Faced Melted Lipsticks. They are a lightweight cream texture with sheen, and I really enjoy how weightless they feel on the lips. You don't need to apply a lot for vibrant color, and these don't feel tacky or sticky at all.


I found it quite easy to apply these straight from the tips without having to use a brush, although you might still need a lip pencil to prevent bleeding into fine lines around the lips. To be fair though, I have not experienced very much bleeding with these but it always helps to be safe.

MAKE UP FOR EVER Acrylip Lip Paint in 202
I shot two lip swatches here for demonstration. 202 is a bright coral which I wore opaque without liner or base. The colors generally cover the surface evenly and are not streaky or patchy.

The other way I've been wearing a couple of the shades is sheered out like below. 501 is a deep dark vampy noir shade which I can apply full on for a dramatic look. But I actually also enjoy wearing it sheer for a deep berry-tinged effect.

MAKE UP FOR EVER Acrylip Lip Paint in 501
You can achieve this soft-edged effect by applying a small amount of product to the center of your lips, pressing them together, then using your ring finger to tap-tap-tap and spread the color outward. You can leave most of the color concentrated in the center for an ombre bitten-lip effect, or just spread it evenly for a  deep flush like this.

Spread and sheered out this way, the edge seldom bleeds because there is no excess product. This is true of most creamy lip products. This sort of softened-matte look is very fashionable at the moment. (Take a look at the Burberry Lip Velvet ads.) I just like the switch to a softer, less-severe look. If you'd prefer a liner beneath, use a flesh-toned one so you don't end up with the same hard edges.

MAKE UP FOR EVER Artist Acrylip Lip Paints retail at SGD$33 in all Sephora stores in Singapore.



Monday, January 16, 2017

Lancome Parisian Lips Le Stylo


Lancome's launched its beautiful Spring 2017 Absolutely Rose collection, which centers around delicate rose pink tones. First off, the pale rose-gold and pearl-pink packaging is absolutely gorgeous, but today I'm focusing first on three of the four available Parisian Lips Le Stylo duos.

These are double-ended lip bars (SGD$36) which are designed to give a subtle ombre lip effect, with a matte twist. Instead of simply working with two colors, the two shades you get aren't that far apart in tone. They are, however, very far apart in texture. 

On one end you get a sheer tinted cream which is very much like a tinted balm stick. It adds a slight gloss to the lips and very faint color.

Parisian Lips Le Stylo sheer cream end
On the other end, you get a sponge tip dunked in a pressed powder pigment, which gives you a complementary matte tint.

Parisian Lips Le Stylo powder end
I find these aren't really meant to be worn alone because the balm end doesn't give much visible color, and the powder end needs something creamy to stick to; otherwise you don't get much payoff. Together though, you get a lovely soft velvety matte tint, and the option to control whether you want it all one uniform shade, or if you want to concentrate the color in the center of your lips. 

Parisian Lips Le Stylo No. 03 swatch comparison
As far as application goes, it was straight-forward enough. You apply the creamy balm end over your entire lip, then press the powder tip around the center of your lips. Press your lips together a bit and you're good to go. The colors are also beautiful; I tested 3 of the 4 available shades and I like all of them, although my favorite is probably 01, a slightly warmer bright peony pink. I had expected 03, the palest baby pink shade, to look a bit crazy on me, but it actually turned out quite flattering and wearable.

The texture also stayed super comfy on the lips - it wasn't dry or icky feeling as you might expect with a matte texture. Probably because of how conditioning the cream end is. Lasting power is just average for a normal semi-sheer lipstick, which is to be expected. The balm won't stay on long if you eat, kiss or drink, but the powder on top does help it stay a bit better so it all averages out.


On the negative side, I did find myself wishing the creamy balm end was a little "fatter" because it does take awhile to cover your whole lip with the slim rounded crayon tip. And the other issue was having to re-dip the sponge tip back into the powder after pressing it into a balmy cream. After just a couple of uses, the powder is pretty much "contaminated". Doesn't affect the color, but I'll have to use it longer to see if it screws with how "matte" the powder looks after you've introduced so much cream into it.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

LANEIGE Two Tone Tint Lip Bar Swatches and Review


LANEIGE started 2017 with the launch of 8 Two Tone Tint Lip Bars, the tinted-balm versions of their bestselling full-coverage Two Tone Lip Bars.

Over the past two years, I've pretty much tried every single shade in their line, and I love how pigmented they are. In fact, most times I'll wear them like regular lipsticks with both shades blended together. The pigmentation and texture (for me) far outweighs any fun of getting a two tone effect. They just happen to be really good lipsticks. Period.

I do occasionally find the regular Lip Bar formula just a bit drying. They're not matte, but they also won't add enough hydration when my lips are feeling a bit ragged. So it was kinda cool that the brand launched tinted balm versions.

The balm portion is made of up the same yummy berry-flavored formula as their Lip Sleeping Mask, which I use as a daily balm. (It's a huge pot, and I get 4-packs for cheaper when I travel.) 
Image result for laneige lip sleeping mask
The tips also have a V-shaped cut instead of the original slant, in order for there to be a higher proportion of the clear balm for nourishing the lips.

To call them tinted balms would be slightly inaccurate, simply because most tinted balms are super sheer. When I first swatched them I was expecting a translucent sheen, so I was quite surprised. These give significant pops of color to the lips and you actually have to blend them out a little if you want a sheerer softer look.



I received 4 shades out of the 8 to swatch in my press box, and the rest of the shades can be viewed on laneige.com. As you can see above, the colored section is pretty intense, and once you try it you'll realize that despite there being a translucent balm section, the choice of shades is on the vibrant side, so they give a bright and made-up look to the lips even when sheered.

If you are looking for "barely there" natural balm tints, these are not it. If you want something that you can smear on without a mirror, I think these may not be it either. If you are prone to messy applications, these are a bit too bright and obvious to hide that.

I will say I enjoy these for casual days when I want to wear minimal makeup and colorful lips, but am not feeling up to a more drying formula. They do feel super silky and hydrating, and you get to enjoy your favorite K-trend colors without sacrificing on lip care.

LANEIGE Two Tone Tint Lip Bars retail at $34, the same as the regular Lip Bars.




Wednesday, January 4, 2017

New Diorskin Forever Cushion (and Lip Sugar Scrub) Review


Dior's just launched the brand new Diorskin Forever Cushion, and this latest foundation offering promises to not just be matte and long-wearing but also skin perfecting. As a fan of traditional bottle/tube foundations, I'm always eager to check out matte cushions simply because most have never been able to deliver on the promise of setting matte or staying fresh for hours.

The tropics are a terrible place for cushion foundations. Cushion formulas are lighter and more fluid than bottle foundations; they usually stay moist and don't set quickly or completely. Even the ones targeted at oilier skins tend to be a bit lacking in staying or mattifying power compared to typical bottle or tube formulas. The constant humidity, heat and sweat throughout the day causes them to slide, smear, or oxidize to a different shade, even for someone with normal to dry skin like myself.


I was quite drawn to the new Diorskin Forever Perfect Cushion formula because besides promising a lasting, luminous-matte finish that blurs imperfections and pores, it also contains pore-refining ingredients, and a new color-lock pigment technology that resists oxidation through the day. So I gave this a good test for the whole of the past week.

At SGD$78 for a set of cushion and case, and $59 for just the refill sponge, the pricing is quite standard for a luxe brand. It comes packaged in a sleek midnight blue case with the standard soft patting sponge for quick application on the go.

Texture and scent
The foundation is weightless as you would expect of most cushion formulas. It has a fresh scent that almost smells like cologne. The formula has a light cooling feel on the skin and while it's not meant to be a hydrating formula it still felt comfortable on my dry areas.
Once it's on, it's weightless and there is no tacky or sticky feel after it sets, which is a big plus for me.

Finish
I tried it with a traditional paddle-shaped foundation brush, a buffer brush, an egg-shaped blender sponge as well as cushion puff in the last week. I find I get the most matte finish using the accompanying cushion puff or a blender sponge in a tapping motion. 
The formula does slowly set to a more matte finish after you give it a minute on the skin, and you end up with exactly what it says - a luminous matte finish.

Coverage
This has a light-medium coverage which is buildable to a fuller medium as you can see below. It can cover small marks or uneven skin tone, but will not cover dark circles or blemishes completely. Where it excels is in evening out skin texture and the appearance of pores, without looking too flat or powdery-matte. A "my skin but better" effect.

Diorskin Forever Perfect Cushion applied (right) without concealer or powder
Tip: It's best not to over-apply cushion foundations (regardless of brand) because a very heavy layer will not set the way the manufacturers intended. If you need extra coverage in areas, apply a proper concealer instead. Your makeup will look and last better through the day.