Sunday, 23 October 2011

Shu Uemura eyeshadow swatches part 1: red to yellow

As requested by a record number of readers and MUAers: Shu Uemura colour atelier eyeshadow swatches!

Hong Kong has the full range available on on the Japanese Shu site and I'm swatching them in numerical order starting today with the 100's (red/pink), 200's (orange/copper) and 300's (yellow/gold). Part 2 shows the 400's and 500's (green/olive), 600's (blue) and 700's (purple/plum). Part 3 features neutral shades in the 800's and 900's.

Each 1.4g single refill retails for HK$110 in Hong Kong, or ¥1890 in Japan.

 natural light
swatch Shu Uemura eyeshadow P 125 P125, ME 126 ME126, P 131 P131, P 140 P140, ME 155 ME155, P 156 P156, ME 166 ME166, M 170 M170, ME 175 ME175

artificial light with flash
swatch Shu Uemura eyeshadow P 125 P125, ME 126 ME126, P 131 P131, P 140 P140, ME 155 ME155, P 156 P156, ME 166 ME166, M 170 M170, ME 175 ME175

P Light Pink 125 cool lilac-mauve satin
ME Light Pink 126 smooth shimmery neutral pale pink
P Light Peach 131 peach satin with sparse shimmer
P Soft Pink 140 shimmery cherry-blossom pink
ME Soft Pink 155 metallic fuchsia pink with a lot of silvery glitter
P Soft Rose 156 warm rose with gold shimmer
M Vivid Pink 165 matte semi-pigmented warm pink-red-coral (like MAC's Bite of An Apple blush)
ME Soft Pink 166
frosty Barbie pink
M Vivid Red 170 very pigmented matte neutral red
ME Medium Red 175 very pigmented warm metallic carmine

200's ORANGES and 300's YELLOWS
natural light
swatch Shu Uemura eyeshadow M260 M 260, ME270 ME 270, ME280 ME 280, P310 P 310, ME335 ME 335, ME336 ME 336, M360 M 360, IR370 IR 370

artificial light with flash
swatch Shu Uemura eyeshadow M260 M 260, ME270 ME 270, ME280 ME 280, P310 P 310, ME335 ME 335, ME336 ME 336, M360 M 360, IR370 IR 370
M Vivid Orange 260 pigmented matte bright orange
ME Soft Copper 270 shimmery warm rose with copper glitter
ME Medium Copper 280 smooth metallic copper with gold shimmer
P Light Yellow 310 cool pale yellow satin
ME Soft Gold 335 smooth shimmery neutral gold
ME Soft Yellow 336 smooth metallic acid yellow
M Vivid Yellow 360 pigmented matte school bus yellow
IR Soft Gold 370 smooth metallic warm peachy gold


Kao Liese Prettia Bubble Hair Dye Black Tea Brown review

Disclaimer: I am freakishly lazy about hair. A few months ago I bought my first ever hairdryer and the only comb I own may be pink plastic and labelled "With Love from Marie Claire"...

That said, I have been dyeing my hair pretty much every shade under the sun for over a decade, beginning with The Great Sun-In Fluorescent Orange Streak Debacle aged 12/13. I've tried every brand of box dye in the UK drugstore and many of the mixable potions available at Sally's too, and these Kao Bubble hair dyes blow them all away. They're so effortless that I'd confidently recommend them to first-timers, and personally, I can and have dyed my hair evenly with these on a tipsy getting! things! done! rampage, without a mirror, while cleaning the kitchen and organising aaaaaall the DVDs by genre.

Black Tea Brown is one of the new shades released in Autumn 2011. Continuity with the old line-up is provided by the derpy porno-faces.

I originally wanted to try Natural Black because my many layers of russet-through-burgundy were peeking through the black Schwarzkopf Live I'd layered over them back in London, but that shade was sold out in every drugstore in Hong Kong. Black Tea Brown is the next-darkest shade in the line so I snatched up the last box.

artificial light, no flash (two months ago, my hair was inky box-dye BLACK)

Inside the box: everything you need to follow the instructions here.

After mixing, one pump.
See the dotted pink line on the bottle? That's the recommended amount of dye you should have left after dyeing chin-length hair, and that's exactly where the brown had sunk to after I'd finished lathering up :D Hair that's bra-strap length or longer will require two boxes, supposedly, though my hair's so fine and thin I've never had to open up a second.

Lathered up:
As you can see, I don't bother cleaning up the smears on my skin as I do with Western box dyes because I find these wash off in the shower without a problem. Also note lack of towel draped around neck -- this bubble dye never drips even if you run around, and have never stained my clothes in the past.
I leave the dye on for 20 minutes when going darker, and 30 minutes when going lighter.

Half an hour after opening the box, we're done.
Everything's evened out, and the brassiness has been replaced by, as advertised, a nice black-tea brown. Even the lighter Liese shades (which include bleach) don't dry out my hair, but this particular shade has been the gentlest dye I've ever used -- after washing it out, my hair was in the same condition as it's in after a regular shampoo and condition. And because it contains no bleach, there's far less of that sickly synthetic fruit scent that Liese uses to mask that smell.

A final rave: ZERO residue left on towels over the next few hair washes, and I got to experiment on plenty of pristine white Beijing hotel towels.

HK$78 each from adambeauty here (though he doesn't seem to have the new shades yet).
The Kao sub-brand is called "Liese", "Prettia" or "Liese Prettia" in different Asian markets -- the products are the same so just make sure you have the right shade, and ignore the name on the box.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Sonia Rykiel reviews and FOTD -- part 1

As mentioned in my haul post, Sonia Rykiel is the best brand I've 'discovered' this year. Their foundations usually come in a very pale shade (10 is around NC10) and their eyeshadow quads are wonderful, with a mix of shades and textures that work beautifully together and look more complex on the skin than in the pan.

All swatches are one-swipe made with the included sponge applicators, onto bare arm.

natural light, shade

natural light, full sun

 artificial light+flash

Shades in 03:
1. Olive with sparse cool gold micro-shimmer, v pigmented metallic finish
2. Gunmetal with silver micro-shimmer, pigmented metallic finish
3. Bright pastel Paris green with silvery-blue micro-shimmer, semi-sheer satin finish
4. Silver-grey shimmer, medium pigment.

Shades in 08:
1. Cool grey base with sparse Prussian blue and silver shimmer, v pigmented metallic finish
2. Cadbury's blurple with brighter blue shimmer, pigmented satin finish
3. Palest blue/ green iridescent sheer shimmer
4. Light grey with sky-blue shimmer, pigmented satin finish.

All shades layer beautifully for even more complexity. Although these are somewhat 'dry' to the touch (more akin to Burberry than a creamy RBR or old-school Stila), they are also very silky and the tightly-pressed pigment makes it easy to pick up colour with the softest brushes. The dryness also contributes to their impressive lasting power: even in extreme heat and humidity, they wear perfectly all day without creasing or fading.


Sublime lipstick 02, one layer on the left (so the jelly-finish and pink tones are more obvious) and three layers on the right (even built up to a cool cherry red, it retains that translucency.) It stays glossy on the lips over at least five hours and fades evenly, leaving a pinky-red stain behind even at the end of a twelve-hour day. It lives up to my by-now high expectations for the line and I will definitely be heading back for more of these faintly rose-scented beauties.
natural light


Finally, a boring FOTD using quad 08 and one sheer layer of the lipstick 02 (this is my 'y so early?' face).

Shade 4 as a base, 3 on inner half of lid (I think this pic captured the green flash better than my swatches), 2 on outer half of upper lid and lower lashline, shade 1 to line both lashlines.

An FOTD using the green quad and a review of the Sonia Rykiel cream foundation in 10 received as a very generous gift are still to come.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Chanel Rouge Allure Velvet and new Extrait de Gloss

I love every product in Chanel's Rouge Allure stable: the Extraits de Gloss converted me (strictly a lipstick girl) to the wonders of weightless, pigmented, gel-based lipglosses. Dragon Laque is my platonic blood red and most frequently-worn lip product; I've gone through several tubes and repurchased faithfully without hesitation. The Rouge Allures themselves are luscious, moisturising cream lipsticks in sophisticated shades, and one of my favourite formulas.

The Rouge Allure Velvets promise to be pigmented, lightweight, moisturising 'luminous matte' lipsticks. In the past the only formulas I've found to work for my chronically dry lips have been Lancome Colour Design Matte, Shiseido Glowing Matte and Shu Uemura Rouge Unlimited Matte and so far, these new Chanel Velvets measure up. :)

Chanel has chosen to release 8 shades in each country, out of a possible 11. In Hong Kong they consist of:
31 La Furtive
32 La Ravissante
33 La Distinguée
34 La Raffinée
35 L'Élégante
36 La Câline
37 L'Exubérante
38 La Fascinante
(39 La Somptueuse, 40 La Sensuelle and 41 L'Exquise are missing.)

Alongside these, Chanel has released two new shades of Extrait de Gloss: 64 L'Exubérance and 65 Euphorique which I've also swatched. The beige gloss swatch is the old 51 Insouciance which was sneakily substituted for the limited-edition 517 Triomphal in the display; I'll attempt to swatch that another day.

Everything is one-swipe except for 31 La Furtive and 51 Insouciance which required two each.

Natural light
swatch Chanel Velvet Rouge Allure 31 La Furtive 32 La Ravissante 33 La Distinguée 34 La Raffinée 35 L'Élégante 36 La Câline 37 L'Exubérante 38 La Fascinante Extrait de Gloss 64 L'Exuberance 65 Euphorique 51 Insouciance

afternoon sunlight, angled
swatch Chanel Velvet Rouge Allure 31 La Furtive 32 La Ravissante 33 La Distinguée 34 La Raffinée 35 L'Élégante 36 La Câline 37 L'Exubérante 38 La Fascinante Extrait de Gloss 64 L'Exuberance 65 Euphorique 51 Insouciance

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Rouge Bunny Rouge haul

Hello my lovelies! I am finally back in Hong Kong after spending the last week in Beijing only to find one of zuneta's grey boxes waiting for me upon my return...

I'd ordered from them more than a dozen times in the past, with faultless customer service. As most UKers will know, they are the easiest way for us to get our hands on Rouge Bunny Rouge, Edward Bess, Hourglass, konjac sponges and, with the help of a discount code or two, usually the cheapest place to score Butter London and Becca too. Back when I was first 'discovering' RBR (when very few beauty bloggers had tried and reviewed the line), their free sampling service was incredibly useful in helping me decide what to order.

Having heard a few negative mutterings about their international service on MUA, I hadn't planned on ordering during my stay in Hong Kong, but a discount code and RBR mascara GWP tempted me to give it a shot. I'm happy to report that everything went perfectly as usual. I ordered on 15th Oct, got my shipping confirmation on the 17th and the parcel arrived from London on the 19th.

Swatches and reviews to come (she says, again).
Metamorphoses mattifying primer (damn you, mini zuneta sample pots!)
Mascara in Untamed Sable (GWP)
Mysterious Tinamou eyeshadow
Starina blush
Papyrus Canary eyeshadow
Vera eye kohl

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Sonia Rykiel Beaute -- haul and swatches

Like Jill Stuart, Paul&Joe and Elégance, Sonia Rykiel is one of those French brands whose cosmetics are designed and manufactured in Japan, and are mainly sold only in East Asian countries.

Having tried two of the eyeshadow quads and a foundation earlier this year, and been highly impressed with everything, I took advantage of Hong Kong's cheap prices (about half the Japanese retail) to pick up these:

Eyeshadow quads in 03 and 08 (HK$320 each)

Sublime Lipstick in 02 (HK$180)

Swatches and reviews to come -- I had to fly off to Beijing on Saturday with a minimal makeup bag, so have not yet given these the time they deserve. But isn't the SR signature stripy packaging adorable?

While at the counter, I also swatched the mousse eyeshadow pots, being a sucker for cream textures and complex shiny things.
artificial light and flash
Sonia Rykiel Mousse Eyeshadow swatch 04, 05, 06, 09, 10, 11, 12, 13
04, 05, 06, 09, 10, 11, 12, 13

The textures of these were very odd. I want to say they reminded me of MAC's Big Bounce from earlier this year, though I only swatched those once. They're not a thick whipped mousse like Chanel Illusion D'Ombre, but a very wet, emulsion-like formula. Once set, they seemed pretty unbudgeable and I experienced no fallout from the tightly-packed glitter after wandering about all afternoon.

I have not succumbed to these yet but I know someone else who has and will be stalking her blog in hopes of a review before deciding whether the purple needs to come to momma.

Something else to look forward to: these adorable Christmas coffrets, each containing a potted gloss, blush, two shades of cream eyeshadow and a miniature powder puff, in three colour variations.

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.