Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Lipsticks Are Red

My love affair with makeup really began with red lipstick (one of my mother's or grandmother's Chanels or Elizabeth Ardens) dabbed onto my lips and cheeks before a dance or music recital, play, gala or competition. Histrionic hothoused upbringing, moi? Fie! And la! And *thirty-THREE fouettés en tournant*. Pursued by a bear.

Aaaanyway, red lips are still my default, and I beeline for these when exploring a new range. However, as love is also letting go, my wardrobe of reds experiences heartbreaking contractions as well as and as often as besotted expansions. In its current er...spasm, it consists of eighteen shades, which I've arranged in 'artistic' fashion:

Love is also endearingly inept?
Yeah, it's a marvel I don't pierce a cornea every time I apply eyeliner.

The creams (ish)
Lipstick swatch Revlon Fire&Ice Fire Ice Cherries In the Snow Besame Red Hot Red Addiction Last Scene Shiseido Dragon Perfect Rouge Suqqu Creamy Glow 18 Karakurenai Guerlain Rouge G Garconne Chanel Laque Dragon Rouge Allure Fatale
Lipstick swatch Revlon Fire&Ice Fire Ice Cherries In the Snow Besame Red Hot Red Addiction Last Scene Shiseido Dragon Perfect Rouge Suqqu Creamy Glow 18 Karakurenai Guerlain Rouge G Garconne Chanel Laque Dragon Rouge Allure Fatale
1. Revlon Super Lustrous Fire and Ice -- bright orange-red cream
2. Besamé Classic Colour Lipstick Red Hot Red (older formula) -- saturated warm red satin (vanilla-scented)
3. Addiction Colour Lipstick Last Scene -- soft warm red satin-matte
4. Shiseido Perfect Rouge RD514 Dragon -- rich, neutral-warm red satin
5. Suqqu Creamy Glow 18 Karakurenai -- bright, neutral red cream
6. Guerlain Rouge G Garçonne -- bright, slightly cool red satin (candied violet scent)
7. Chanel Rouge Allure Laque Dragon (discontinued. WTeverlivingF, Chanel.) -- sanguine lacquer
8. Chanel Rouge Allure Fatale -- muted, cool wine-red cream
9. Revlon Super Lustrous Cherries in the Snow -- bright fuchsia-red cream

The others
lip swatches gloss pencil stain rms rapture revlon in the red really red nars velvet matte pop life chanel extrait fatale sonia rykiel sublime 02 suqqu creamy glow moist ex-03 usubeni hourglass aura flush illamasqua intense follow

lip swatches gloss pencil stain rms rapture revlon in the red really red nars velvet matte pop life chanel extrait fatale sonia rykiel sublime 02 suqqu creamy glow moist ex-03 usubeni hourglass aura flush illamasqua intense follow
10. RMS Beauty lip2cheek Rapture -- muted neutral brick red satin-cream
11. Revlon Matte In the Red -- warm brick red matte
12. Revlon Matte Really Red -- bright, warm red matte (these are in Muji pillpots)
13. Nars Velvet Matte Pencil Pop Life -- warm coral-red matte
14. Chanel Rouge Alllure Extrait de Gloss Fatale -- true ruby red gloss
15. Sonia Rykiel Sublime 02 -- bright, cherry-red jelly (rose-scented)
16. Suqqu Creamy Glow Moist EX-03 Usubeni (LE) -- balmy pink-red sheer
17. Hourglass Aura Sheer Lip Stain Flush -- pink-red matte stain (slightly minty)
18. Illamasqua Intense Lipgloss Follow -- pop-bright pink-red gloss (can be blotted to a satin, strong scent/taste of boiled sweets/hard candy)

All pictures taken in natural light and all shades are scent/taste-free unless otherwise specified. Sorry Hourglass looks so gross -- stains are tricky to swatch on dry skin.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Suqqu Blend Eyeshadow Quad 03 Matsukasa

According to the lovely ladies at the Suqqu counter, 03 Matsukasa (松球, pine cone) is by far their best-selling quad. It makes me a little sad that people choose this tonal brown palette over the more unconventional colour combinations, but hey, can't really argue with workhorse neutrals in Suqqu's unmatched formula. Or the Lisa Eldridge effect.
The shades in this quad are obviously no-brainer stand-bys for many, but it took the brilliance of the Suqqu International Makeup Artist Kazumi Obayashi to sell such warm browns to me. Even now, I wear it rarely, and mostly on cool and overcast days, when its muted elegance seems right.
Swatches in natural light (sunny), one swipe each
From dark to light: 
rich matte chocolate (slightly more yellow- than red-based), pigmented
warm coppery bronze satin, v. pigmented
neutral sandy-silvery taupe satin (only marginally more shimmery than the bronze on the skin), pigmented
neutral matte ivory base/primer, pigmented

Layered swatches, natural light (sunny)
Left to right:
  1. all shades
  2. dark brown + bronze
  3. dark brown + taupe
  4. bronze + taupe
This is the least shimmery of all the permanent Suqqu quads in my collection, by design -- it looks and wears like the plushest velvet and reflects the light (because all Suqqu eyeshadows work this flattering magic on skin texture) in a soft, rich glow, rather than the sparkling iridescence of Mizuaoi, or the airy smoke of Keshizumi.

I usually wear Matsukasa in a smokey vertical gradation, with the darkest shade at the lashline, blending up and out to the lightest.
closeup with flash
I usually need to offset such uncompromising warmth on the eyes with cooler cheeks and lips -- for which my new toy Nars Gaiety and slightly older toy Guerlain Rouge G Girly come in handy.
Other products: KATE gel eyeliner BK-1, Shu H9 brow pencil Stone Grey, Helena Rubinstein Feline Blacks wp mascara, RBR Sea of Clouds, usual base (Shu SP/KA SSE/EF).

And an experimental, soft tonal look, with the ivory packed over the lid, taupe mixed with a little of the bronze in the socket, and the matte chocolate to line. To create a more rounded eyeshape (I usually prefer to elongate), I for once didn't join the upper and lower lash liner at the outer corner, but separated them with a sharp white (Shu Uemura gel eyeliner M White).
Other products: Shu H9 Stone Grey, Helena Rubinstein Feline Blacks wp mascara, RBR blush Delicata, Addiction lipstick Last Scene, Ellis Faas concealer under eyes. Otherwise bare face (too cold and eczema-y for foundation).

Saturday, 11 February 2012

RBR Sweet Dust Seriema swatches and quick FOTD

As I've drivelled before, Rouge Bunny Rouge matte eyeshadows are my favourite formula evarrr. (It's insanely cold, piratical stylings help. But when don't they?) Creamy, pigmented, and extremely blendable -- one of the few powder formulas my dry lids can wear even in sub-zero temperatures.

They recently added two new shades to the lineup, Bashful Flamingo (described as 'a pale powder-pink') and Sweet Dust Seriema ('a cool dusty mauve taupe') which I of course snapped up immediately on Zuneta. As did quite a few of me hearties, which is why it's already sold out. No worries, it's permanent and should be restocked, hopefully before the 20% off code (ELLE20) expires on Feb 28th.

Sweet Dust Seriema rounds out my collection of RBR neutrals nicely. Here with Chestnut-napped Apalis, Papyrus Canary, Grey Go-away Lourie and Solstice Halcyon (the only non-matte in the village collage):

Swatches, one swipe with sponge in natural light (which was fading rapidly. Hence messiness.)

Compared with a random hodge-podge of stash neutrals (it really needs to be depotted to fit in):

  1. MAC Wedge (closer to Chestnut-napped Apalis, albeit warmer)
  2. Stila Fog (long, long dc'd)
  3. Shu Uemura M Brown 801 (2nd gen, dc'd)
  4. RBR Sweet Dust Seriema
  5. RBR Solstice Halcyon
  6. Addiction Concrete Jungle (see how grey it looks set against taupes?)
  7. BECCA Lamé
It's pretty much the matte, slightly cooler version of Solstice Halcyon, and the closest 'dupe' for Stila Fog I've found in a decade (with an even better texture than '90s Stila :D), though SDS has more mauve and less brown than Fog.

(Because some will ask: this purchase doesn't count as one of my twelve of this year, because it's a replacement for Wedge. Project One Pan, if you like...)

An incredibly basic look, thrown on the morning SDS landed on my doorstep: SDS all over the lid and under the eye sits as a perfectly unobtrustive neutral on my skintone, the perfect setting for the obnoxious yellow of Shu gel liner Citrine on the inner corner with lemony Suqqu eyeshadow single 12 Usukiiro (dc) to blend. GOSH white kohl on waterline, Helena Rubinstein Feline Blacks mascara, Shu H9 brow pencil Seal Brown.
Other products: Guerlain Rouge G Garçonne, RBR Gracilis blush. Lunasol concealer under eyes.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Paul&Joe Meow! collection swatches

This collection was puzzlingly released in two parts. Three shades each of Face and Eye Colour CS (pressed trios) and Lipstick C in January, and the three epic kitty-head (now with added top-hat and vaguely disquieting smirk) Blusher Sticks and Matte Pressed Powder in Feburary. The full range is now available at counters in Harrods and Fenwicks, and online at and Every item in this collection is limited edition.
All pictures taken in natural light, click to enlarge.

Visionary Beauty has already swatched/reviewed all three shades of Lipstick C (£16 each). Based on a quick play at the counter, I would agree that they are the sheer and the slightly waxy kind which usually ends up drying my lips out.

The Blusher Sticks (£21 each) were again fairly sheer and not particularly creamy (they have much less slip than the Addiction or Shiseido cheeksticks, let alone potted cream blushes by Illamasqua or Stila) -- satin-matte bases with visible shimmer. On my very dry skin, they dragged a bit upon application and tended to look uneven once built up -- possibly issues which normal or oily skin wouldn't experience. Each swatch is 4 layers, unblended.
Top to bottom:
001 Glamour Puss -- golden beige
002 Minou -- soft warm pink
003 Cat Fight -- warm coral-orange

Face and Eye Colour CS (£19.50 each) are pressed eyeshadow trios in gradational tones. You get a generous 12g in a pretty printed cardboard box. The textures of these were somewhat inconsistent. Siamese Please and Kittycat were smooth and highly pigmented (superior to P&J's permanent range in my opinion), but Purr-Fect was noticeably drier and much sheerer.

076 Siamese Please (one swipe each)
satin-matte beige
very pigmented metallic warm gold
pigmented chocolate brown satin base with silver glitter

077 Kittycat (one swipe each)
pigmented warm matte peachy beige
pigmented peachy pink satin with sparse silver shimmer
very pigmented warm plum  with silver glitter

078 Purr-Fect (three swipes each)
sheer ivory shimmery satin
sheerish sage green satin with sparse silvery shimmer
moderately pigmented greyed olive satin-matte with sparse silvery shimmer

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Kanebo Sensai The Lipstick paper swatches

Sensai Colours is a luxury line from the Kanebo stable, launched in 2008 and aimed at more mature women. Consequently, most of their makeup products seem to include skincare properties -- specifically, anti-ageing, based around their 'signature' ingredient koishimaru silk.

The Lipstick is their 'flagship' formula, retailing at a breathtaking £40 in the UK and $55 in the US. (Is there some kind of definite article mark-up?) The patter promises that the lipsticks improve the look and condition of lips both upon immediate application and boost their capacity for self-repair with prolonged wear. But more to the point, The Non-Blonde rates it as one of the best around

Paper swatches, in natural light
Kanebo Sensai The Lipstick swatch 01 Suou // 05 Benikinu // 06 Niiro // 09 Tsuyabeni // 10 Hiwada 11 Kurumi // 12 Sugiro // 13 Momiji // 15 Murasaki // 16 Rindou 17 Aya // 18 Koubai // 19 Sawarabi // 20 Sumire // 21 Shirafuji
01 Suou // 05 Benikinu // 06 Niiro // 09 Tsuyabeni // 10 Hiwada*
11 Kurumi // 12 Sugiro // 13 Momiji // 15 Murasaki // 16 Rindou
17 Aya // 18 Koubai // 19 Sawarabi // 20 Sumire // 21 Shirafuji

Here's a picture with flash taken a day after swatching, when all the creaminess has gone:
Kanebo Sensai The Lipstick swatch 01 Suou // 05 Benikinu // 06 Niiro // 09 Tsuyabeni // 10 Hiwada 11 Kurumi // 12 Sugiro // 13 Momiji // 15 Murasaki // 16 Rindou 17 Aya // 18 Koubai // 19 Sawarabi // 20 Sumire // 21 Shirafuji

You can see the golden micro-shimmer more clearly in some shades than others, but this is mostly just a quirk of the lighting. 10 Hiwada, is the only shade with visible shimmer once applied (see how much more densely-packed it is?). The other shades really do just leave a dimensional sheen on the lips, even to my shimmerphobe eye in direct sunlight.

In the UK, Kanebo Sensai has counters in Harrods and Selfridges.

Thursday, 2 February 2012


Those of a sensitive disposition should probably look away now.

I wonder what these holes do?

Repeat seven times....

Left to Right (all are from the permanent Blend Colour Eyeshadow quad range):
01 Kakitsubata
02 Kokedama
07 Komorebi

(And yeah, I picked my klassiest Z-palette.)

Worry not, the whole process took less than five minutes and no heat, and these can be repotted at any time:

But it IS cool to see at a glance the differences between the base shades, or the various purples.

Now to work out what to do with the five older quads, with their peskily uneven pan sizes...
(Blend quad 10 Sakuragi, discontinued)

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Suqqu Blend Eyeshadow Quad 08 Mizuaoi

Released for Autumn 2011, 08 Mizuaoi (along with 07 Komorebi) joined the permanent line-up of Suqqu palettes but contains a slightly tweaked set of finishes from quads 01-06. The top left shade is a moderately pigmented iridescent shimmer, and the top right is a sheerer iridescent shimmer. The bottom left 'lining' shade is no longer a matte but a very pigmented satin, with very fine multi-tonal micro-shimmer. The bottom right is still the standard matte primer/base.
Overall, they give a more translucent, shimmery and complex look than the first six quads.

08 Mizuaoi 水葵 is named for the aquatic plant Monochoria korsakowii.
image from なごみの花屋さん blog, which has more.

In typical Suqqu fashion, the eyeshadows manage to convey not just the dusty purple shade of the flowers but also their aquatic setting, and how the play of light on water (the theme of a previous Suqqu collection, kirari) can refract the purple into shimmering facets of blue and pink.

Er... anyway. Swatches. As always, one swipe with a sponge applicator.
Natural light, sunny
angled to bring out multi-hued shimmer
natural light, shade
The purple is a pigmented satin with extremely fine pink and blue microshimmer scattered throughout. The blue has equally fine microshimmer, in various iridescent hues of blue and grey, with the occasional hint of pink. The pink has the largest shimmer particles (which are still very refined and completely undetectable by feel), distributed more sparsely within the oyster pink base, of yellow, green, copper and (very occasionally) blue. Each shade contains aspects of the others, and the play of light on water ripples back and forth between them.

Layered swatches, from left to right:
  1. all shades
  2. blue + pink
  3. purple + blue
  4. purple + pink
natural light with flash
natural light, shade

1. White as base, pink lightly all over the lid with purple to line. Blue very lightly in the inner corner and more heavily (with a firm brush) to line the bottom lashline. Basically, just like they did it in the ad.
Other products: Suqqu Cream Glow lipstick 02 Kyoganoko, Balancing Cheeks 01 Momozoe and Nuancing Loose Powder Natural. Helena Rubinstein Fatal Blacks wp mascara.
Usual base products: Shu SP, KA SSE, EF concealer, KATE brow gel.

2. A hazy look with all the shades smudged together all over the lid and taken under the eye, slightly more of the pink in the crease, and slightly more of the blue at the outer corner.
Other products: Suqqu Creamy Glow lipstick 06 Umegasumi, RBR Gracilis blush, Shiseido High Beam White highlighter, Helena Rubinstein Fatal Blacks wp mascara. Usual base.

3. A sharper look, going against the grain of the watercolour dreaminess of the quad -- I know this isn't ideal on my face/eyeshape (and I was deciding whether the keep/purge the blush and lip) but it does show how warm a look you can pull out of the quad, even when arbitrarily using all the shades for the purposes of a blog review...
Pink all over the lid, applied more heavily than in look #1 and brought higher up, with purple to line. Blue lightly in the middle of the lid and lower lashline.
(I promise the inner liner doesn't stop totally randomly, it fades into my crease with my eyes fully open.)
Other products: Addiction Suspicious cheekstick on lips and cheeks, RBR Sea of Tranquility highlighter, Helena Rubinstein Feline Blacks wp mascara. Usual base.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Linklings of spring

Could be just a case of the grass-is-always greener, but I've found myself uninspired by all of the new releases I've been able to see and swatch in real life, and trawling the net for reports of Japan-exclusive pretties instead.

Of Addiction's new offerings the dusty, washed-out pastel eyeshadows caught my attention early on. Birkingbeautybag has an excellent review and swatches of 059P Tiny Shell.
@Cosme user emo8 posted swatches of 061P Midnight Drive and 063P Sand Martin here, both of which seem on the shimmery rather than satin side of Addiction's Pearl formula.
Another @Cosme member, *♪ゆうこ♪* (er... sic) has swatches of (from top to bottom): 059P Tiny Shell, 061P Midnight Drive, 062P Mariage, and Silent Scream here.
From other reviews, it seems that Mariage is a very sheer topcoat, with large glitter flecks set in a clear (and cream? or creamy powder) base.

Based on these swatches, none of these shades seem tempting enough to make up one of my twelve products this year. I would love to hear from any eagle-eyed readers who've seen other pictures though...

The more lemmings fall, the larger the few remaining ones loom. Currently dwarfing all others are the (admittedly ridiculous, I care not, la!) Ladurée blushes.
A Blissful Living has an excellent launch-day report (how I miss the East Asian openness to new and shiny trends and inordinately long queues for them -- waiting for the replacement bus after your tube train spits you out at a random stop aint quite the same somehow...). I'm also incredibly envious of those, like Hana-san, who also attended, and scored two of the three limited edition miniature rose-petal blushes (they look pigmented! yay!)
The official site is live, and has pictures of the different shades. And if you click a swatch, it will provide you with the individual ingredients list for that colour, très moderne. Unfortunately the cream eggs (what?) seem to be sheer blush bases rather than cream blushes proper, but the shade range of the cameos is truly swoon-worthy and I can't decide between:

Finally, the Suqqu Spring micro-site is up, with product pics and the obligatory making-of video and random downloadables. According to the sales associate I spoke to today, the collection won't be launching in the UK until March. (In my shock I blurted, "but surely you can't be serious..." but no "don't call me Shirley" was forthcoming. So I think she was. Woecake.)