Sunday, 25 December 2011

December 25th

Happy Christmas to all those who celebrate it, and to everyone else, a fabulous and frivolous last week of the year!

This stack is pretty representative of my booty bountiful collection of gifts:

Although there were a few beauty treats as well:
The Addiction addiction rumbles on:
Fudge and Sandbar eyeshadows (previously swatched)
Amazing powder blush
3 x Compact Case II
Last Scene lipstick
Suspicious cheekstick

All much-loved staples in my rotation -- Chergui and Voleur de Roses are refills(!), Magazine Street and Russian Caravan Tea will displace my mess of decants.

A look inside A Stitch in Time Volume 2, the base of the stack above:
It reprints a selection of vintage ('30s through '50s) knitting patterns alongside updated versions in contemporary yarns, re-sized for modern frames.

I love that the original patterns are shown with smudges and all:

Of course, this very authenticity can make for some epic lulz:
Major props to that blonde model, who pulls off some of the wackier pieces with more aplomb than the original models...
Of course, there are also many pieces which were covet-at-first-sight, and I will be tracking down some yarn for these in the Boxing Day sales:
And this above all, one of the few patterns which have not been rejigged for a modern knitter's short attention span, but uses the original cobweb-weight yarn on 2.5mm needles.
Those who are familiar with Volume 1 will be glad to know that the sequel displays even more meticulous attention to detail, with an expanded size range and more complete schematic diagrams, as well as notes on achieving the 'authentic' fit for each decade and garment type
down to advice on period-appropriate button choice.

Christmas is a lazy family, food and telly affair for me, so no elaborate FOTD here. Being a contrarian (who frequently wears sparkly green eyeshadow and red lips to mark, say, a Tuesday...) I took retro and unseasonal inspiration from this Henry Clive painting:

all pictures in artificial light (sorry) without flash

Eye close-up -- I dispensed with the falsies, obviously, because lazee.

RBR Sea of Tranquility all over, everywhere!
Ellis Faas S201 concealer under eyes
Kevyn Aucoin SSE SX-1 on blemishes
Paul&Joe eye gloss 05 Rock&Roll, gold all over lid, dark blue in socket and along lashlines
P&J L'Horizon Bleu eyeshadow in Tranquility (LE) over the blue
Shu Uemura Mascara Basic (DC), with Hourglass Lash Lacquer on outer lashes only
Etude House Sweet Cherry Tint in Pink on lips, topped with lipbalm
Etude House Cream Choux Blusher in Miss Grape, topped with Shu Uemura M225 blush
(This combination didn't create the same strong 'pop' of lavender I wanted -- any product recs or application tips much appreciated. Perhaps it's just one of those looks that look better contrasted against darker skin...)

Saturday, 24 December 2011

December Empties including Laura Mercier Silk Creme comparison

Another month, another set of finished products and reviewlets. As before, I am only linking to ingredient lists which are harder to track down and to only one of many possible retailers; I have no affiliation to any of these sites nor will I receive any kickbacks if you click through.

I finished a foundation! And not a mixer this time, either.
Laura Mercier Silk Creme in Soft Ivory £33 for 40g at SpaceNK.
As you can see, I've already repurchased this siliconey cream, which is one of the best formulas on the market for my dry skin and provides a close-ish shade match (although I do still have to mix in some white in the depths of winter). It offers very full coverage so doubles up excellently as a concealer; as a foundation, I usually use a rice grain's worth sheered out with a damp Beautyblender sponge. This sets to a satiny skin-like finish on me (matte to the touch) which I don't like or need to mess up with powder -- in fact, several professional makeup artists have refused to believe that I was wearing anything on my face with this stuff on.

A small detail but I really appreciate the "Shake Well" sticker on the lid, large and prominent enough to penetrate even my morning fug.

As it's taken me about three and a half years to finish this tube (including making a few samples and decants for friends), I thought it would be helpful to swatch the last dregs of the old against the first squirt of the new.

Both heavily swatched, pictures taken in natural light.
To my eye, the very slight difference between the two (the old looks more yellow) seems more attributable to batch variation than oxidisation. Once blended out on my face, I can't tell a difference at all. I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences on foundations -- do you religiously throw them out a year after opening? Have you ever experienced oxidisation of shades in the bottle?

Skincare Empties
Fancl Mild Cleansing Oil $26 for 120ml at Fancl USA. Ingredients.
I've tried dozens of cleansing oils over the years, and this has remained both my favourite and Japan's, topping consumer polls and bestseller lists annually. It's the only one that doesn't irritate or dry my skin out with prolonged use. Bear in mind that Fancl do not use preservatives in their skincare, so this has a short shelf life: bottles are imprinted with the date of manufacture and will remain fresh for one year from that date, or 120 days after opening.

Bioderma Crealine £14.59 for two 500ml bottles at Leguidesante.
Another staple, it is of course excellent for strategic makeup removal/clean-up but I mainly use it as a waterless cleanser when travelling or on flights.

Avene Skin Recovery Cream £12.50 for 40ml at Boots.
Known as Cream for Intolerant Skin in the US, a basic, soothing moisturiser composed of a combination of mineral oil, squalane and glycerin. I rely on Tolérance Extrême or Cicalfate for real skin emergencies, and turn to this (or the "rich" version in winter) for the convalescent/maintenance phase.

AMPM Skin Ecological Indoor Defence Cream £12 for 30g at Beautyeshop. Ingredients.
AMPM Overtime Skin Intensive Gel Cream £12 for 30g at Beautyeshop. Ingredients.
Both of these Naruko products are packed with potentially irritating botanicals and essential oils, yet they worked beautifully on me. The night cream turned out to be too light for my dry skin once I had adjusted to Hong Kong's humid climate (I resorted to layering Avene over it), but the day cream (a more moisturising but equally cosmetically elegant version of cult favourite Embryolisse) grew on me so much that I've already repurchased.

Ducray Melascreen SPF50+ Cream €11 for 40ml from Vitalya. Ingredients.
It's winter, so I switched from the Emulsion to the slightly richer, more emollient Cream. In either form, it remains my favourite avobenzone-free, high PPD sunscreen; I go through a tube every month or so.

Sun Bears Super S SPF50+ PA+++ HK$38 for 30ml at Sasa. Ingredients. 
Sunplay Super Block SPF50+ PA+++ HK$68 for 30g at Adambeauty. Ingredients.
I've gone through several bottles of these two excellent Japanese drugstore milk sunscreens, both fragrance- and alcohol-free and containing a stable trio of zinc oxide, titanium dioxide and octinoxate UV filters. No white cast or stickiness from either, and there's not much to separate them (even the cute white and red packaging is similar); Sunplay is perhaps slightly lighter in texture. I'm not thrilled with buying body sunscreens in such small amounts, but they are admittedly cheap, and the bottles are handy for chucking into a bag for top-ups after handwashing etc.

Sisley Sisleya Global Eye and Lip Contour Cream Cheapest I've found is around £80 for 15ml at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Duty Free but the official UK retail price is £105.
Inexplicably effective, horrifically expensive Holy Grail. In a future post, I will list all the other eye creams I've tried in an attempt to wean myself off this stuff. A jar lasts me around 5 months of twice-daily use on eyes and lips.

Juju Aquamoist Hyaluronic Acid Essence HK$145 for 30ml.
Uh, what I said last month. (Had forgotten that I already had a backup bottle when I wrote that...)

Naruko Narcissus Total Defence Fundamental Serum £11.33 for 30ml from Beautyeshop. Ingredients.
Naruko's version of the moisturising antioxididant serum popularised by Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair. Equally soothing and immediately brightening/evening, this is (like ANR) a product for maintaining good skin, and will probably disappoint those who expect dramatic results from serums. No preservatives, so shelf-life is 6 months from opening -- not a problem as I blew through this bottle in six weeks, using two pumps morning and night.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Eyeshadow Brush Comparison pictures -- part 4

Finally, the brushes I use for precision work and eyelining (with powders, creams and gels). These divided neatly into four categories so new format today: a group shot to show relative scale and handle lengths, and then closer comparisons.
As before, the short gold-handled Hakuhodos I purchased in Japan; I've linked to the brushes with exactly the same heads and numbers currently available on the international Hakuhodo webshop. The Chikuhodo Artist series brushes also come in black (long-handled) versions.

brush comparison  MAC 231, 266 Chikuhodo Artist Red 6-1 Hakuhodo S162, 007, 5531 Shu Uemura 6OB, 4F Maybelline gel eyeliner KATE gel eyeliner Sonia Kashuk Bent Eyeliner
1. MAC 231 synthetic curved push brush 
2. Chikuhodo Artist Red 6-1 kolinsky curved push brush 
3. MAC 266 angled ox/synthetic blend brush 
4. Hakuhodo 162 angled weasel brush (see S162) 
5. Shu Uemura Natural 6OB angled badger brush (mine is travel-sized; they also make a long-handled version) 
6. Shu Uemura Natural 4F sable flat brush 
7. Maybelline gel eyeliner synthetic tapered flat brush 
8. KATE gel eyeliner synthetic tapered flat brush 
9. Hakuhodo 5531, synthetic script brush
10. Sonia Kashuk Bent Eyeliner sable/nylon blend brush 
11. Hakuhodo 007 fine pointed weasel brush (see K007)

Curved Push Brushes
brush comparison MAC 231, Chikuhodo Artist Red 6-1
brush comparison MAC 231, Chikuhodo Artist Red 6-1
The 231 (#1) is one of my favourite brushes from MAC -- I keep several on hand for lining (eyelids, lower lashlines, waterline, tightlining) and also for inner corner work and patting on a 'pop' (sorry) of colour or shimmer right in the centre of the eyelid. It handles all textures of powder, cream and gel with equal aplomb.
I purchased the Chikuhodo Artist 6-1 (#2) as a short-handled travel version of the 231. And it actually blows the MAC brush out of the water in every single way. Its slightly smaller dimensions translate to a huge increase in precision, and the kolinsky hair outperforms MAC's synthetics with all textures. A must-have, if you like this shape.

Angled brushes
brush comparison MAC 266, Hakuhodo S162, Shu Uemura 6OB
brush comparison MAC 266, Hakuhodo S162, Shu Uemura 6OB
brush comparison MAC 266, Hakuhodo S162, Shu Uemura 6OB
MAC 266 (#3) is the widest and next to the Hakuhodo 162 (#4) and Shu 6OB (#5) it feels positively floppy. Because my eyes are small and brows are fullish, I can't use this for either lining or brows, but it's handy for sketching out sharp cut creases.
Hakuhodo 162 is the densest and thickest of the three and works best for smokey, smudgy lining. It is also the softest as well as the firmest, and works excellently for working eyeliner right into the base of the lashes. Also marketed as a brow brush, but only recommended for those "more hairless" than me (nice euphemism courtesy of the Osaka Hakuhodo counter manager, who would only sell this to me when I solemnly swore never to let it approach my were-brows.)
Shu 6OB is another staple of mine, used with brow powders and gels, and with powder eyeshadow to line my eyes (almost daily). More angled than the Hakuhodo 162, it draws thinner, less smokey lines with powders, but works less well with gels/creams because it's more loosely packed.

Flat liner brushes
brush comparison Shu Uemura 4F, Maybelline gel eyeliner, KATE gel eyeliner
brush comparison Shu Uemura 4F, Maybelline gel eyeliner, KATE gel eyeliner
brush comparison Shu Uemura 4F, Maybelline gel eyeliner, KATE gel eyeliner
Shu 4F sable (#6) works best on the lower lashline, with powders and loose pigments. With creams I prefer a neater line and more control so turn to my trusty drugstore freebies from Maybelline (#7 -- Lisa Eldridge and Jung Saem Mool like it too!) and KATE (#8) -- both are denser and more directional thanks to tapering. KATE works better on the eyelid, and for smudging out as well as lining, so wins out overall; they are equally excellent on the waterline.

Pointy liner brushes
brush comparison Hakuhodo, 007, 5531, Sonia Kashuk Bent Eyeliner
brush comparison Hakuhodo, 007, 5531, Sonia Kashuk Bent Eyeliner
brush comparison Hakuhodo, 007, 5531, Sonia Kashuk Bent Eyeliner
Hakuhodo 5531 (#9) has become my go-to for spot-concealing. It's replaced the Sonia Kashuk (#10) because despite being bigger, it's also more precise and less, well, poky on sore red skin. I prefer slightly bigger shapes for spot-concealing because one jab is less painful than doing something pointillist with an ultrafine brush.
I've had two months with Hakuhodo 007 and it's officially time to call Holy Grail. Makes more graphic liner (flicks, angles etc.) absoutely effortless. In the past I've worn out many a MAC 209 and 210 and Louise Young 24 and 25, not to mention dozens of Japanese pen liners with attached brushes (KMHM, Rose of Versailles and KATE, for example). At the Hakuhodo counter, I also had a play with several other script brushes, all of which were too long or too rounded; the 007 is simply perfection.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Eyeshadow Brush Comparison pictures -- part 3

Fluffy non-tapered blending brushes -- can you tell that I'm not exactly au fait with artistic/brush terminology? These are even more of a motley crew than usual because I find them particularly difficult to shop for given the size/shape of my eyes and my preferred style of application (more like Jung Saem Mool than the Chapman sisters or Lisa Eldridge).

All brushes are mine except for the Suqqu L, which was a loan. All have been used/washed.

brush comparison Edward Bess Luxury Eye Brush, Suqqu Eyeshadow L, Illamasqua Blending Brush 1, Stila 9, Shu Uemrau 8HR, 4R, MAC 217, Paula Dorf Eye Contour Brush
brush comparison Edward Bess Luxury Eye Brush, Suqqu Eyeshadow L, Illamasqua Blending Brush 1, Stila 9, Shu Uemrau 8HR, 4R, MAC 217, Paula Dorf Eye Contour Brush
brush comparison Edward Bess Luxury Eye Brush, Suqqu Eyeshadow L, Illamasqua Blending Brush 1, Stila 9, Shu Uemrau 8HR, 4R, MAC 217, Paula Dorf Eye Contour Brush
1. Edward Bess Luxury Eye Brush 'natural' hair (I suspect goat, maybe mixed with some pony), the biggest, densest most rounded and roughest in this bunch
2. Suqqu Eyeshadow L uncut grey squirrel, looks flat on its side but rounded from the front
3. Illamasqua Blending Brush 1 synthetic -- similar to the MAC 224 in shape but much softer. I use this for concealers.
4. Stila No.9 mine is blue squirrel (bought in 1999) but newer ones are goat hair, v. soft and diffuse brush perfect for all over blending and sheer washes
5. Shu Uemura 8HR angled sable brush -- I use this in a windshield wiper motion in the socket
6. MAC 217 goat hair -- I don't care for this as a blender/crease brush, but love it for cream shadows
7. Paula Dorf Eye Contour Brush angled blue squirrel brush -- this is my favourite socket brush for softer looks / very pigmented shadows
8. Shu Uemura 4R sable -- its loosely packed long hairs make it useless for powder products in my clumsy hands. I can only use it for precise undereye concealing, but it excels at that one task.

A closer look at Suqqu L with EB Luxury (L) and MAC 217 (R)
 from above, they look similar in shape...
brush comparison Edward Bess Luxury Eye Brush, Suqqu Eyeshadow L, MAC 217

...but the cross-section illustrates the shape differences
brush comparison Edward Bess Luxury Eye Brush, Suqqu Eyeshadow L, MAC 217

and a haloed shot displays the textural differences
brush comparison Edward Bess Luxury Eye Brush, Suqqu Eyeshadow L, MAC 217

Suqqu L is probably technically as densely-packed as Edward Bess (in terms hairs per square mm), but the softer, finer and longer grey squirrel hair means it applies pigments in a more diffuse way, so it works much better for placement as well as blending.
In terms of shape it is a larger version of the MAC 217 (which I use as a cream laydown brush rather than blender) but is much more efficient at blending out powders without patchiness, because it is denser and the hairs are more even. However I very much doubt that the Suqqu would handle creams as brilliantly -- would love to hear from any readers who've tried this.

Next up, the final part: precise/liner brushes.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Christmas comes early presents and FOTD

Yesterday I was a good beauty blogger and a very bad fiscally-responsible Grown Up, and treated myself to one of the YSL Rouge Pure Couture Glossy Stains (£22.50, exclusive to Selfridges, see BBB's review) whilst finishing up some last-minute Christmas shopping.

My initial impressions basically consist of high pitched squealing but, in bullet point form:
  • more pigment, less slip and longer-lasting than Chanel Rouge Allure Laques (slightly stickier too, which helps it stay firmly in place)
  • brilliantly-designed applicator, makes precise shapes ridiculously easy to achieve
  • wide shade range ranging from pale nudes to dark browns and plums
  • no rancid mango signature YSL scent, rather, these are the same candied roses as the Rouge Pure Couture lipsticks
  • does what it says on the tin: both the staining power and glossiness last through eating and drinking for me
Two thin coats of 01 Violet Edition applied straight from the tube, no lip brush, and no clean-up with q-tips or concealer brush afterwards :O
The colour you see at the fuzzy edge of the applicator is the colour I get on my lips, which BLEW MY MIND, because my pigmented mauvey-rose lips make all colours pull pink. This shade at least is pigmented enough to apply true-to-tube on me.

The rest of the look I built around the lip. Very clichéd old-school glam type thing. All pics natural light.
RBR Sea of Tranquility highlighter mixed 1:1 with MUFE Mat Velvet 15 foundation
Lunasol Under Eye Concealer 00
Shu H9 Stone Grey brow pencil
Koji Linequeen liner (I ended up not using this, whoops)
Majolica Majorca LEFP #12

Chanel Illusion D'Ombre Mirifique (which I used as a liner instead of Koji)
RBR Gracilis blush
RBR Solstice Halcyon to blend out crease (depotting accident)
RBR Batiste Grayling cream shadow in crease
RBR Wishing for Wings and Night Wind Sailing pigments all over lid/lower lashline
YSL RPC Glossy Stain 01 Violet Edition

Eye closeup

So that was me trying to at least look like a grown up (minus some neck-craning to catch the intermittent light) despite not acting like one when tempted by new shiny lip products.

Then the doorbell rang.

If there were justice in the world and we all got what we deserve, I should have opened the door to some lumps of coal. Here's what arrived instead:

Fresh Sugar lipbalms in Rose and Honey; Guerlain Rouge Automatique in Nuit D'Amour
Besame Sweetheart Balm in Cherry; Laura Mercier Lip Stain in Hibiscus

Rescue Beauty Lounge Recherché, Look Rich Be Cheap, Piú Mosso
Laura Mercier Silk Creme foundation in Soft Ivory and MAC Face&Body in White (repurchases)
Ellis Faas Glazed Lips L306 and L307

I also received these gifts from two lovely friends who each arrived at the idea independently:
Vosges Bacon Chocolate Pancake Mix and Hickory-Smoked Bacon Chocolate Bar :D

Now how is anyone supposed to maintain a grown-up façade after that?! I'll spare you the edition of the FOTD featuring a dazed ear-splitting grin and smears of chocolate and flour all over my face. (FYI, the YSL stain held up through the entire bar.)