Monday, 17 October 2011

Majolica Majorca Blush Swatches

Majolica Majorca is one of Shiseido's most popular drugstore brands, and probably epitomises most foreigners' ideas about that 'kawaii stuff wot those Japanese folk like'. Packaging tends to princessy extras, glitter plays a starring role, and the website is a ADD-flash-packed camp dream/nightmare, but they also happen to make some standout products.

Earlier this year, the Puff de Cheek blushes, four mattes(!) in adorable round tin packaging with cute mini-puffs (HK$118 for 7g) were runaway bestsellers across Asia. Only two made it into the permanent line-up, and I've swatched them here alongside the four permanent shades from the Customise Cheeks range (HK$75 for 3g).

All swatches are two swipes layered onto bare arm. Natural light (no, I don't know what going on with my arm hair either... full moon that night perhaps?)
Puff de Cheek first two on left, other four are Customise Cheeks.

Majolica Majorca Puff de Cheek PK301 OR302 Customise Cheek 88 PK333 OR211 RD255

Customise Cheek RD255 is another one of those Nars Orgasm dupes, 88 is a lilacy highlighter which has reached cult classic status; both are too frosty for my tastes. PK333 and OR211 are the pretty cool pink and bright coral peach shades you can find in every Japanese line.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Lavshuca Moist Melting Rouge Swatches

We  are almost at the halfway point through Lavshuca's enormous collection of lip products (through which they justifiably dominate the Japanese drugstore market).

These Moist Melting Rouges are probably their most popular/famous lipsticks, because they are excellent dupes for the high-end Cle de Peau Extra Silky ones / Dior Serum de Rouge. Personally, having owned a few shades from all three lines, I can't discern a difference in quality. If anything, the Lavshuca ones are superior because:
1) any shimmer is subtler; some of the Cle de Peau ones are unwearably borderline-frosty to me, especially as they wear off
2) the click-mechanism is retractable, so you don't have to be on tenterhooks when clicking out
3) better shades than the Diors (although Dior seem to be tweaking this now)

No scent/taste, sheer-medium pigmentation but buildable, extremely moisturising and they stay glossy on the lips. Lasting power is average for a glossy lipstick and they will fade evenly; touch-ups will be necessary after a drink/snack, but with these you really won't need a mirror for that.

12 permanent shades, HK$90 for 1.6g.
Swatches all two swipes onto bare arm, bright artificial lighting.
Lavshuca Moist Melting Rouge Swatches PK-5, PK-6, PK-7, RS-2,  RD-3. RD-4, OR-2, OR-3, BE-4, BE-5, BE-6, BE-7

Lavshuca Moist Melting Rouge Swatches PK-5, PK-6, PK-7, RS-2,  RD-3. RD-4, OR-2, OR-3, BE-4, BE-5, BE-6, BE-7

Shade names for search purposes: PK-5, PK-6, PK-7, RS-2,  RD-3. RD-4, OR-2, OR-3, BE-4, BE-5, BE-6, BE-7

Friday, 14 October 2011

Basic Skincare Basics

(yes, as in Darling Mermaid Darlings, or Boutique Travel Travel Boutique...)

A reader emailed me a question (*plays it cool, is squealing inside*) about my current skincare routine so here goes. My skin is dry and sensitive so I do best to keep things minimal / simple / cheap. On the other hand, my product-junkie/mad-scientist ways ensures that I'm almost always trying out a few new products (usually just on one half of my face, so I can see how effective they are...) alongside the old reliables.
I'm also staying in Hong Kong at the moment where 'lows' are generally around 25ºC and humidity doesn't drop below 70, so bear that in mind.

1. Cleanse with konjac sponge (pink/sensitive version) -- a tip-off from one of my favourite MUAers, firsttaste. Usually any physical exfoliation flares my eczema/rosacea, but this has been keeping my skin happy and flake free for a few months now.
2. Hada Labo Hylaruonic Acid Lotion, a moisturising, alcohol- and fragrance-free toner.
3. Juju Aquamoist 100% Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum: sinks in immediately without stickiness -- good for Hong Kong weather and summers in the UK.
4. Sisley Sisleya Global Eye and Lip Contour Cream around eye area, patting excess onto lips. This is the only cream that keeps my extremely dry eyes moisturised all day and sits beautifully under concealer, while minimising my hereditary dark circles and puffiness.
5. AMPM Skin Ecological Indoor Defense Cream -- feels thick but is very spreadable and sets matte; a nice basic day cream for hot weather.
6. Ducray Melascreen SPF50 emulsion -- a fragrance-free, avobenzone-free, high PPD sunscreen to replace my beloved Avene when they reformulated last year (Ducray and Avene are owned by the same parent company). Sets demi-matte on me and keeps my pale skin from burning.
7. Clarins SPF30 Eye SPF cream, zinc oxide based, doesn't sting my sensitive eyes.

1. Brush Kiss Me Heroine Make Mascara Remover through lashes, leave on for 2 minutes while brushing teeth.
2. Apply 1 (bare-faced day) or 2 (full makeup day) pumps of Fancl Mild Cleansing Oil with dry hands to dry face, taking it over the Mascara Remover still on the eyes. Massage all over face and eyes as quickly as possible (under 10 seconds preferably), then emulsify with a little water and rinse.
3. (as with day)
4. (as with day)
5. Naruko Magnolia Brightening and Firming Serum -- currently trying this out. Offers immediate tightening/firming effect, nice floral-medicinal smell as with all Naruko stuff, v light, no irritation.
6. Bobbi Brown EXTRA Repair Eye Cream -- okay as a basic moisturiser if I put a lot on, does nothing for my darkness/puffiness. Won't repurchase after finishing.
7. AMPM Overtime Intensive moisturiser -- a very light, mostly HA-based night-time moisturiser. Sinks in immediately.
8. Naruko Magnolia Eye Gelly -- layered over the BB to give some extra moisture and prevent major puffiness from having to slather that stuff on... I find all the Naruko jellies nice but only necessary when I stray from Sisleya in an attempt to save money (hah!)

At home, I also incorporate some actives: vitamin C (The Body Shop capsules) in the morning, and a niacinamide serum (Olay Regenerist fragrance-free) or retinaldehyde treatment (Avène Diroseal) on alternate nights. As I'll be travelling so much and living out of suitcases for the next two months, those are on hold for now.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Shopping the side-street

In fashion terms, I am an insatiable omnivore constantly trying to reform my shopping habits and edit my wardrobe. For the last 4 years, I have kept strictly to a "project twelve piece" (not allowed to buy more than twelve new items a year, all others must be thrifted or hand-made, basic necessities excluded).

Er...yeah... not so much anymore.

In my defense, I have tried to shop mostly local, which entails much wandering around a little side-street called Granville Road in TST, Kowloon.

It's the kind of area that has an abandoned post-zombie-apocalypse feel in the day time, but come 4-5pm when the kids get off school, the lights come on in a plethora of local cheap&cheerful shops, like this market-style one, which cleverly organises things by print:

and sells, well, a little of everything as long as it's tacky and wacky and bling.

There are also little food stalls sandwiched in the 30cm or so of space between shops. This one offers piping hot griddle cakes with your choices of topping, filling and batter.

This my be Kowloon, but rents are sky-high here too, so some of the most interesting eateries can be found if you look above street level:

A new-ish addition is the G.I. (Granville Identity) mini-mall, three floors of stalls rented mostly to independent, newbie designers, set up by Hong Kong comedian and director Stephen Chow (Kung Fu Hustle is probably his most famous film abroad and is a lot of fun, but I prefer the surreal and witty 90s cult classics A Chinese Odyssey Parts I and II).

It's fun to wander around nomming some Fro-yo from one of Hong Kong's most popular joints, Crumbs. Sorry, I think it's actually 'Crumbs!' Eh, anyway, the yoghurt is Japanese-style so very creamy, mildly tangy and soft-serve... and the matcha mochi sprinkles were 'interesting'. I'll be sticking with house crumbs (think crumble-topping :D) and blueberries in future...

Anyway, wandering schmandering, the main draw of Granville Road is actually an even tinier side-street off the side-street:

Which, I am told, is where budding designers straight out of fashion school like to set up shop for as many years as they profitably can before retraining as accountants.

At the end of Granville Circuit is this converted old office building, in which the indie designers who can't afford to keep up a shop rent stalls (most open after 5pm when they finish their day jobs. Possibly as accountants.) If you go around 6-7, you'll find most shop keepers having their dinner while ringing up customers.

The upper floors (there are 17, escalators only serve the bottom 4) offer much delicious Asian Random, and are worth the dank b-horror-movie climb:

Apart from numerous offices, dentist's practices, the dodgiest-looking collection of travel agencies and beauty salons EVER, you'll find:
the least sizeist dress shop ever?

a second-hand shop -- rarest of beasts in E Asia

and a handy wee chapel-kins

Back on floors Ground-4th, we have the usual mini-mall shenanigans as many shops specialising in Japanese and Korean imports have taken over.

but really, just a salesTORSO would do...

But there are still many local designer-owned shops, usually staffed by the owner/designer/maker and random friends, and organised by one unifying aesthetic.
This last shop offered custom-made shoes and tailoring. Only for the mens, sadly. Although I managed to pick these handmade leather brogues up for about £20 at a neighbouring shop:

Other cool bits: a lacy metal collar

a khaki crepe school-marmish skirt with a slight pouf and slit up the centre back (the shape is just brilliant, and it has deep pockets :D)

and a filmy print silk top which can be worn any number of ways, and makes a nice scarf too

Right, enough frivolity. Remember, you'll know it's streetstyle if there are random umlauts involved.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Giorgio Armani Designer Lift foundation comparison

Designer Lift is the latest foundation from Armani, released this autumn and supposed to bridge the gap between liquid and cream foundation. According to the sales assistant, it's best suited for normal-dry skin, and offers medium-to-full coverage with a silky matte finish. It will be the fullest-coverage liquid foundation that Armani makes, but will provide less than the Designer Shaping Cream foundation.

Left to Right:
Face Fabric 2, 1
Designer Lift 2, 3, 4
Designer Shaping Cream 4
Lasting Silk 2
Luminous Silk 2

natural light, direct light
Armani foundation swatch Face Fabric 2, 1 Designer Lift 2, 3, 4 Designer Shaping Cream 4 Lasting Silk 2 Luminous Silk 2

natural light, shade
Armani foundation swatch Face Fabric 2, 1 Designer Lift 2, 3, 4 Designer Shaping Cream 4 Lasting Silk 2 Luminous Silk 2

RMK Dusty Bright Colours 03 Grayish Brown

Occasionally a product or collection will come out that just seems made for me -- something that speaks directly to the colours, textures or 'feel' that I'm craving just at that moment. This autumn, I was arrested by the visuals for RMK -- greyed greens? 'Dusty Bright Colours'? Cream eyeshadows paired with glitters? Pretty and clever packaging? Model with wayward hair and vacant expressions? SIGN ME UP.

I ran to my local counter on the day of release ...and came home with nothing. While impressed with the textures, shades and lasting power, I was shocked by the tiny size of the pot and the £35 price tag. Falling in love with them again a few months later in Hong Kong, I succumbed to 03 Grayish Brown -- for once a company doesn't jump at the chance to use the word 'taupe'  -- at the slightly more reasonable price of HK$360 and $100 worth of restaurant vouchers (seriously, London shops, you need to get on that.)

For your monies you also get a clever-as retractable two-sided brush with the same size and quality brush-heads as the full sized RMK cream and powder eyeshadow brush (retailing at 2730yen/£23). The cream side is goat+synthetic, the powder side is pony hair. If you like RMK brushes, these eyeshadow duos are actually a great deal.

natural light
Cool gunmetal-navy cream shadow with silver shimmer, paired with a warm bronze glitter. The cream is pigmented enough to use as a liner, and the glitter has enough heft and pigment to work as a shadow on its own without a base. The two layered together produce the shade I fell in love with.

Swatches: one solid swipe of the cream, cream blended out (bottom half layered with the glitter), two layers of the glitter on its own.

natural light

artificial light with flash

PRETTY cool-warm complex taupe, amirite? The cream packs serious pigment has enough siliconey slip to be blendable, but once it sets, it is seriously waterproof and smudgeproof. The glitter is my favourite kind -- finely milled and solidly packed to catch the light at many angles.

Applied: just a wash of the two shades layered all over the lid and lower lashline, and then more of the cream to line (yes, they work layered cream-over-powder too), MajoMajo mascara.

freshly applied, natural light

after 14 hours of wear, artificial light

Context, natural light
Other products:
Shu Uemura Face Architect Smooth Fit Foundation 784 (too yellow and drying for me D:)
Chantecaille Total concealer Alabaster
KATE eyebrow powder EX-5
Illamasqua Lover blush
Lancome Stylista matte lipstick

The fly in the ointment: I am extremely picky about my brushes and do not care for RMK ones in general (even though they are made by Chikuhodo who also make my favourite Suqqu brushes); neither shape of this cream/powder brush duo works for me and I do not like to use either goat or pony hair around my eyes (too coarse).
I prefer using a dense multipurpose tapered brush like Suqqu S or a synthetic eyeliner/lip brush (like Shu kolinsky 7HR) for the cream, and something like the Shu Natural 10 (or Suqqu M) for the powder. If they sold the eyeshadow pots without brushes at a cheaper price, I would definitely pick up 02 Greyish Green and 05 Deep Red (actually a pretty pink-based taupe) too. As it is, I will hope and pray for a sale at some point. All six duos are permanent.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Fasio Glass Reflection Eyes Swatches

Fasio is Kose's sleek&simple drugstore line in competition with Kanebo KATE and Shiseido Integrate. Honestly, the most striking thing about it for me has been the use of boy-band-Arashi-member and one of the busiest (and most fabulous) hams around the Japanese actor/singer/model circuit, Matsumoto Jun, in its ads. Click here for the latest example. And if you haven't already seen it (WHY NOT?!), watch Hana Yori Dango NOW. Both series (the movie you can skip... ask me how I know.) And Kimi wa Petto while you're at it.

Glass Reflection Eyes (released autumn 2011, 5 permanent shades) are your standard Japanese drugstore gradational palettes, so the USP here is the round pan, which contains a "Glow Base," an intensely shimmery gel-cream to be patted on either under or over the powders. While I wasn't wowed by the textures of these (they're uh, nice...) they DO exhibit some great colour-shifting due to the complex multi-hued shimmer which I have rarely encountered in drugstore eyeshadows. So I took pictures in different lighting conditions to hopefully capture the dual nature of these shades.

All swatches are one swipe onto a bare arm. 1st pic: natural light. 2nd: artificial+flash.




PU-5 (this would be my pick -- unique colours and the biggest shift)

As always, Yuki's Lazy Channel has excellent swatches on a medium skintone here.