Friday, September 21, 2018

Long-Wearing Glass Skin using MAC Face & Body Foundation


"Glass Skin", or an extremely dewy, non-shimmery glow, is a trend made popular by South Korean celebrities and media. But the traditional methods of achieving it - face glosses, creamy foundations etc - are not always great for real life (or warmer weather).

Well there IS one forgotten product that can achieve this effect without feeling like an oil-slick or smearing off after 2 hours. MAC's classic Face and Body is an ultra glowy film-forming foundation that actually sets looking like it's wet. And because it's made for use on bodies during shoots, it's transfer resistant and sweat resistant. What better to get the glass skin effect without the cons?

The thing is many people these days no longer use or even know of Face and Body, and I have to say it's got a strange texture and seems to have zero coverage at first, but there are some tricks for getting it to work beautifully.

Rubbing it on with fingers ALWAYS works better than brushing it on or sponging it on. The rubbing seems to allow the pigmentation to show more, so you get more coverage. Plus - this formula just soaks into bristles and sponges and can be a pain to wash out when it sets. Also, it's fantastic for layering. I've layered up to 5 coats for more coverage and it still looks beautiful and skin-like although the sheen by then is over the top.

I do like MAKE UP FOR EVER and Dior's versions but those are less dewy. So if "Glass Skin" is what you're trying to achieve, this is the only one that will give you that.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

My HERA Rouge Holic Collection Lip Swatches


HERA is one of the edgiest brands to come out of Seoul, and their Black Cushion is by far one of my favorite cushions for hot weather or oilier skins. They've launched 34 trendy Rouge Holic lipsticks at the Takashimaya counter in Singapore, and these are divided into 2 textures; cream and matte.

Here are 10 bestsellers, lip swatched for reference. It's a pain to swatch so many lipsticks in a row but I personally love watching lip swatch vids, so maybe someone else will find some pleasure in this LOL.

Cream shades featured
277 Lala Orange - creamy tangerine with a slight pink undertone once swatched.
112 Killing Pink - bright doll pink with a coral hue; more wearable than I was expecting.
247 Stunning Coral - stunning is right; this is more of a coral with MLBB beige/neutral tones thrown in. Extremely flattering.
297 Flame - gorgeous bright orange; total love.
327 Tempting Cherry - lovely wearable rich raspberry shade right between pink and red.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Maybelline Total Temptation Shadow + Highlight Palette and Mascara


Maybelline just released their Total Temptation Shadow + Highlight palette along with Total Temptation Mascara this weekend. Retailing at a reasonable S$26.90 for the palette and $21.90 for both waterproof and regular mascaras, I wanted to try them out on camera to see if these were as value-for-money as they seemed.

The palette contains a warm half with 4 shadows and a highlighter, and a cooler half with the same. No reason you can't mix and match, but I just wanted to see how they'd look separately.

VERDICT:
I'll just say I like the palette, and I love the mascara (non-waterproof formula).
The palette's formula is velvety and amazing - very good quality and the colors are gorgeous.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

This Week's Power Lip: Armani Lip Magnet 400

Selfie via Instagram Story: Armani Lip Magnet 400
It's weird that even with 101 reds in your collection, you can still find room to obsess over another.

Cue Armani Beauty Lip Magnet 400, the classic true-red that's the signature color of the brand itself. It looks a little tomato-toned in the tube, more Louboutin than Armani, but don't worry. It goes on a vibrant rouge red.

Swatch of scarlet: Armani Lip Magnet 400
I know many people don't like these cos they were expecting a true liquid-to-matte non-transferring liquid. I like the silky smooth texture and the way it "semi" sets to a smooth finish without the wrinkly dried look. Another plus is how this doesn't make me want to claw my parched lips off my face. Do I wish it was transfer-proof? Maybe; when I'm about to chomp heartily into some food mostly, but otherwise I don't really mind.

I find I need to touch-up transfer-proof liquids after a meal ANYWAY. With these, at least touching up is a breeze as the formula melts onto itself when you spot-apply.


As someone who loves the sheerer, slower-setting liquid lip formulas like Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvets and YSL Tatouage Coutures, which have a textureless, less-drying finish, this is similar but one step more comfortable, if not as lasting. 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

This Week's Face! Makeup (and Fragrance) I've Been Wearing Recently


Here's a run-down of the things that I've used repeatedly in the past week or two! I'm on a drive to rotate through older makeup that I love but have neglected for awhile, and mix them in with newer things I'm testing for the purposes of review.

The It Cosmetics CC+ Oil-Free Matte SPF40 I've reviewed. I do enjoy it, but I don't consider it a long-wear or oil-control foundation technically. It's a more lasting, less dewy alternative to a BB/daily foundation with great coverage and skin benefits. And I like it very much for day wear, but if I need to look perfected or it's a special occasion, I would still reach for other foundations.

Ye Old Chocolate Bar
My Chocolate Bar is so old it doesn't have the shade names printed on. Ironically I LOVED this when it first launched. A lot more than the Naked palettes. But I featured it a couple of times and then never used it after that. That's the thing about neutral palettes; we love them but they are the easiest to set aside when newer things launch because they are so easily substituted.

So I decided to give it a workout for a week. 

A selection of lip shades I've been rotating between lately
Mattes are it for me. Liquid more than sticks, surprisingly. And it's taken me years to finally find out which formulas I like and how to wear them in a way that don't make me want to claw my lips off.

I have very dry lips and small lips besides, so thick, heavy liquid lips can be the worst thing to apply. Don't want shriveled, shrunken, "butt-hole" lips. So I stick with traditional matte lipsticks and creams that are not transfer-proof. But I learnt that very lightweight liquid formulas that can be sheered out look great and don't give me dried prune lips. Formulas that fit what I want include YSL Tatouage Couture (closest to perfect for my tastes), Huda Beauty, NARS Power Matte Pigments, Bourjois Rouge Edition liquids, Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Matte Potions and Etude House's new Matte Chic Lip Lacquers.

I have found these to not crack after drying, and if you're light-handed, don't look excessively wrinkly.

Clockwise from top-left: Etude House Wendy Brown BR401,  Cle de Peau Beaute Lip Cashmere 104 & 105, YSL Tatouage Couture #8, Huda Beauty Icon

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

It Cosmetics CC+ Oil-free Matte SPF40 Review


One of the products that I was most excited about at the recent Sephora Press Day in Singapore was the Oil-free Matte version of It Cosmetics' bestselling CC+. Living in sunny Singapore, who wouldn't want a matte, oil-free, pore minimizing version of the full-coverage high-SPF skincare cream? 


Even as someone with combination-dry skin, I was excited to try a more sweat-resistant and less creamy version of my favorite BB/CC-type product the past 1-2 years. 

Ingredients Run-down

It Cosmetics CC+ Oil-Free Matte ingredients
First off, the ingredients list is impressive as usual. They have all the signature skin-pampering and calming extracts, with the addition of tea tree extract, sulfur, willow bark extract (salicylic acid), charcoal powder and niacinamide, traditionally great for troubled, oily, spot-prone skin. I've not had any significant breakouts ever since I cut down on my sugar intake a couple of months back but I do work out about 5-6 days a week and I can get clogs and black heads, so I would never turn down pore-clearing ingredients.

There aren't really many ingredients in here that would be overly-drying for drier skins despite the inclusion of sulfur, willow bark extract, and charcoal powder. There are just too many conditioning agents. Even though I have dry areas, this did not dry me out and felt comfortable through the day. 

Shade Range

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Maybelline Superstay 24H Liquid Foundation: Updated Formula Review

Maybelline Superstay 24H Foundation is reaching Singapore this June and will retail at Watsons, Guardians, SASAs, major supermarkets and hypermarkets, selected departmental stores as well as e-tailers where Maybelline has an official presence for $24.90 per bottle.

The Superstay franchise has been buzzed about for a fair number of years now, and many of us in Asia - especially sunny, humid, tropical Asia - have been wondering for years why it never made it here. I'm a pretty big fan of several of the Superstay Matte Ink liquid lipsticks so it's ironic that the foundation from which they derived their name is only just coming into our market now.

The good news is the formula is great. I've given it a good test run the past week or so, wearing it for full 10-12 hour days. It feels lightweight, is velvety and non-transferring to the touch, has medium-to-high coverage and is buildable to full, looks incredibly skin-like (when applied with a brush or damp beauty sponge), controls shine better than most other matte foundations I've used lately, and doesn't clog my pores.

BEFORE Maybelline Superstay 24H Foundation (left), AFTER Maybelline Superstay 24H Foundation (right)
I took the shot above with just a single layer of foundation, no primer, no concealer, no powder. It does a good job of evening out discolorations and veins, even a lot of my dark circles, and almost completely covered recent acne hyperpigmentation scars on my cheek. What I like most is that it looks very real up-close and while it cuts shine and diminishes the look of pores, it doesn't look like a mask. You still see believable skin.

Monday, April 16, 2018

ETUDE House Colour Factory: Find A Perfect Lip Shade


Etude House recently launched their Colour Factory service at the spacious Wisma Atria boutique and I will honestly say it's something I'm VERY excited about because color-matching is something that confuses a lot of women.

If you love makeup and want to explore colors but are frequently confused what shades to pick cos some just look "off" on your skin while others seem to give you a radiant glow, you might want to go for a professional color matching service at least once. I first tried this when I was in Seoul a couple of years back, and it totally changed the way I look at colors on myself.


As Asians living in the tropics, most of us have been brought up to think we have a "Warm" skintone and should wear orange, warm-red, gold, olive, and other shades complementary to this type of skin tone. Well, apparently surface melanin from sun exposure can create an optical illusion of sorts, and many girls who have a Neutral (or in my case Cool) undertone can be mystified when bronzes, coppers and other "warm" shades look horrible on us.

Guess no longer.


Friday, March 30, 2018

Ultimate Indulgence: Les Merveilleuses Ladurée opens in Singapore on 4 April


If you're not a beauty fanatic, you might only think of macarons when you hear the name Ladurée. But 6 years ago, they did branch into the luxury makeup world with the launch of Les Merveilleuses Ladurée, when they caused hearts to flutter with the original rose petal blushes (since then frequently copied).

They've largely remained a niche brand, partly because of the price-point (S$105 for a box of 23 blush petals and another $45 for the refillable container) and also because they were only available in France and Japan for a number of years. I remember seeing beauty bloggers frantically arranging for swaps and asking friends and relatives to help them bring back Ladurée blushes back in the day.


If the product presentation and textures remind you of brands like Jill Stuart and Anna Sui, it's because the line is Japan-made despite the Western branding, and shares the same zealous attention to detail when it comes to packaging and presentation, and super-smooth product textures.

Colors are never too strong or pigmented aside from a few stronger blush shades; this is a line aimed at the upwardly-mobile consumer who values the pampering experience and visual or sensual treat on their dresser, but may not necessarily be too confident experimenting with lots of strong colors yet and just wants products that are amateur-friendly.

Monday, March 12, 2018

My Diptyque Fragrances: Do Son, Tam Dao, and Fleur de Peau


For a perfume junkie, I have a rather modest Diptyque collection.

Just three scents that to me feel almost introspective and subtle for their respective genres. Just like the brand itself, they have a luxuriously subtle and easy-going charm. They need time to introduce themselves and surprise you.

I would describe Diptyque scents as straightforward in a way; they have a clear artistic vision and don't beat around the bush too much. But at the same time I never feel the need to layer these scents. That would mask or mess with the subtler facets and nuances they have.

As a line, Diptyque (to my recollection) does not have many "pong-monsters" that are so strong that they take over a room when you enter. They also don't do the olfactory equivalent of the "lipstick mark on the collar" where they stay long after you've left a space.


In fact, I was told recently by a brand rep that they insist on using higher concentrations than most generic brands on the market, so even peripheral items like the hair mist will contain up to 18% perfume components, which is higher than many Eau de Parfums. Usually this means they perform like extrait de parfums; lower in throw but higher in longevity. For the most part I can spray these on in the morning and not have to bring the bottle out for touch-ups.
Quick side-note: most of Diptyque's scents have an Eau de Toilette concentration (clear bottles) and an Eau de Parfum (black-rimmed bottles). They have different compositions and notes, designed to amp up different facets of the overall scent, so make sure you test both concentrations to see which works better on your skin.

Monday, January 29, 2018

My Personal Unsung Hero Product: Pixi Glow Tonic

For all the testing I do, I realize I've never talked much about glycolic acid toners. Which is odd because I consider them an essential step at least 2-3 times a week to slough dead cells, reduce clogs, and enhance other skincare products if you want to keep your skin glowing and smooth and younger-looking.

For me, they are a superior replacement for physical scrubs and all those expensive sonic devices which tend to break my somewhat-dry, occasionally-sensitive skin out. And Pixi's cult-favorite Glow Tonic is what ushered me (and several family members including mom) into the world of glycolic acid toners last year. 


If you've never used it before though, don't just splash a ton of cash and go ham on it because using it the wrong way can backfire. Which is why I thought Pixi's Glow Tonic was a god-send because with its ginseng and aloe extracts, it's gentle enough for beginners and those with slightly sensitive skins, but at 5% glycolic acid content, it's works.

Plus, it's very, very reasonably priced, and easily available from retailers like Sephora.sg, iHerb.com etc if you're in Singapore. I've repurchased this a couple of times already, and have a backup 250ml bottle plus the pre-soaked toning pads which are handy for traveling. But I've not yet spoken about it online, so I was NOT expecting a surprise gift from the Pixi team.

A jumbo bottle of Glow Tonic with a separate pump dispenser AND my name on it.

My own jumbo bottle of Glow Tonic!
Like any skincare junkie, I have to say I'm possibly more excited by the size of the bottle (it's not available in this format at Sephora or iHerb) than the fact that there's my name printed on it. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Aerin Fragrances: A Quick Review


Aerin Lauder's luxurious fragrance line is now available in Singapore at Marina Bay Sands. There are 9 eau de parfums currently available as 8ml rollerballs ($45), 50ml sprays ($182), 100ml sprays ($260), as well as matching body creams ($91).

The first time I sniffed a few Aerin fragrances in their minimalist resin-capped bottles, I immediately thought of a more grown-up and elegant Jo Malone. They share a rather similar aesthetic, from the thematic focus around key scent ingredients (e.g. Rose, Gardenia, or Amber), to the effortless luxury of the heavy squared glass bottles, and the cologne-like airiness and sense of "translucency" for most of the scents.

Each box is patterned after a specific fabric or print with personal meaning to Aerin herself, making them collectible as well. All the scents are impeccably-tasteful, lady-like, and never too loud. Perfect for the majority of East Asian consumers, pretty much.

Out of the nine, I have four key faves (the first four reviewed below) but I would say try them all out for yourself since scent is so personal to each person. And definitely wear your top picks on your skin before making a final decision, because like picking a partner, the things that impress us on first sniff don't always turn out to be the best for us.

I'll list all the notes and my personal experience with each below.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

LANEIGE Two Tone Matte Lip Bars


LANEIGE's popular Two Tone Lip Bars are now available in a matte formulation!

I'm a fan of both the original satin/creme formula, as well as the more balmy and glossy Tint formula, because both boast intensely vibrant colors in a fun format for creating ombre lips. But I'm obviously excited about the launch of a matte series since this is by far my favorite texture.


The Two Tone Matte Bars come in gorgeous pink matte-chrome tubes but the lipsticks themselves have the same slanted cut as the original Two Tone Lip Bars.

Shade Obsession: MAC Viva Glam Sia


I decided to put on my tube of MAC Viva Glam Sia one morning and straight out of the tube, this matte scarlet looks VERY much like a creamier Ruby Woo, although it's a regular Matte, not a Retro Matte. It's also just a hair warmer than Ruby Woo, which has a hint of cool undertones although I still consider mostly a true red. The undertone difference may not be noticeable to a lot of people.

The difference comes when you press your lips together and wear it out in the daytime. The warmth in the undertone comes out more in daylight, and you may - like me - suddenly notice all those tiny little flecks of gold hidden in the matte red formula.


The sparkles are not really noticeable to someone standing in front of you, unless they come really close and squint. But it does give the formula a tiny hint of luminosity, the way velvet sometimes catches the light at certain angles.

L'Oreal x Balmain Color Riche Lip Collection


L'Oreal Paris has launched the very edgy special-edition Balmain Color Riche Lip Collection, available first on Zalora.sg. The collection of 12 matte couture shades was designed by Olivier Rousteing, themed to embody the 3 facets of the Balmain woman (or man): Glamazone, Rock, and Couture.

These lipsticks are available in singles at S$28 or in themed sets of 4 at $99.

The Rock series features blue marbled tubes trimmed in gold, and the colors are muted Winter tones. Perhaps the most outstanding shade here is the royal blue, 901 Rebellion, which is exactly the color of the outer tube.


Like many other blue lipsticks, the color will go on more translucent and not as dark as it looks in the tube, but I'm happy to report that it wears quite evenly on the lips, and is actually a touch more wearable than you might think!

L'Oreal x Balmain 901 Rebellion lip swatch

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

LUSH Gorilla Perfumes - My Obsession and Collection


Gorilla scents (a play on the phrase "Guerrilla warfare") were borne of Lush's rebellion against the stale, formulaic fragrance industry where consumers are fed copycat after copycat of uninspiring synthetic scents, and more money and effort goes into advertising and packaging than it does formulas. 

While I have nothing against the cupcake-y synthetics and love a lot of them, I do consider natural perfumery an art form because of how much more complicated and expensive it is working with natural essences and extracts. Like fine wine, there are differences between batches due to variances in the harvest. And like fine wine, many perfumes that contain natural extracts "age" and develop into richer, smoother versions of themselves with time.

My on-off love affair with Gorilla perfumes began maybe around 2012 during a trip to NYC. I still recall the rather uninspiring perfume display with a somewhat random selection of identical, anonymous little black bottles and tubes with alarmingly high price-tags. But the moment I picked up that tester bottle of Lust and sprayed, I swooned, and fell instantly, passionately in love with the radiant, candy-sweet, gloriously-rich jasmine scent that you can never find with mainstream perfumes created using synthetic notes. 

Lush Lust in the new spray bottle (center) vs original Gorilla bottle and stick
I skipped a few "generations" of Gorilla perfumes and only recently rekindled my love affair after looking into the Volume IV scents. Today's perfumes come in nice squared apothecary bottles with clean white labels. Unlike the old black bottles, I can see how much perfume I have left, and what I'm actually picking up. (Plus, I love how the glass bottles look all lined up together.)

Besides 30ml and 100ml bottles, they are also available in Solid perfume pots and innovative soapy Wash Cards. I personally find the biodegradable fruit pulp Wash Cards a fun way to sample (or share) new scents in the shower. However at $5 per card, they are rather expensive and I don't find the scent stays or projects on the skin. Eco-friendly yes, eco-nomical no.