Monday, 2 April 2012


A thousand apologies for my lazy nonblogging ways -- illness and exhaustion meant that I wasn't wearing any interesting makeup in any case and barely even fulfilling the basic social do-not-traumatise-impressionable-children-in-the-street-with-vision-of-haggard-future-to-come contract.

I'll be returning to a more regular posting schedule now, and hopefully improving the quality of my pictures courtesy of a shiny!new!Canon 600D -- it sees "no makeup" makeup, yo! And probably dead people too.

So, some frivolous updates.

Spring clean
Beauty bits I've finished up / given up on this year:
(I have a mascara problem, I know)

Laundering and putting the things I made this winter into storage (except the red top, which will transition into spring, and the 'whimsical' purple bonnet which I will try to foist upon an unwary school's drama department).

Rose Red beret (this is my 5th? 6th? People keep commandeering them off my head)

Meret with extra slouch (using up some wool/mohair leftover from a wrap cardigan)

Doomed bonnet is doomed (tweed left over from a peplummy jacket)

 Red textured sweater (100% merino, not thrilled with the fit on the shoulders, hey ho)

Aran tunic nightmare (I made this three times to get it to fit, lost the vintage ivory buttons I'd carefully hunted down, semi-permanently stained my hands with the appropriate shit-coloured organic vegetable dye that kept.leeching.out of the organic local British wool the trauma... and finished it just as the temperatures rose above 20ºC. I will wear it to death next winter.) 

  The slouchy beanie you've seen already, and I forgot about this scarf, started in Hong Kong late last year (Italian mohair/nylon):

For spring, I've decided on two bluegreeny tops -- a lacy pullover pattern from the 1940s in exquisite merino/silk (R) and a quirky cotton/milk protein cardigan (L) for candy-coloured colourblocking purposes.

Comfort reading 
People who know me almost very well tend to say I'm addicted to books when my actual addiction is to story -- books are just my preferred short-cut. When convalescing or generally in need of comfort, I like even shorter-cutting, which usually means rereading stuff I pretty much have by heart.
(The Princess Bride and Cold Comfort Farm have been staples since childhood and I tend to cycle through Pratchetts, Wynne Joneses and Fry's (or Wildes and Shaws and Restoration comedies))

More broardly my shortest-cut genres are children's/young adult fiction or books-in-series (bonus if it's a series of children's books), the best of which provide an intravenous drip of well-written story, relatively uncluttered by scaffolding and obtrusions and other such yawnsomes.

Not photographed (because I felt like enough of a knob snapping books, I really aint going to photograph a kindle screen): The Hunger Games trilogy, which I gulped down in its entirety in one night, and then drooled for a week over all the glorious visual interpretations.

In a world without Cinna's aid to Beauty Base Zero, these potions kept me vaguely human-looking and -feeling. Illness makes my skin even more dry and sensitive so I've learned from experience to slather on the blandest moisturiser and richest lipbalm I own every couple of hours (Avène Tolérance Extrême and RBR Kiss Elixir) and if any peeling/cracking does occur, to supplement them with Avène Cicalfate and Blistex Relief Cream.

The latest shade of Shu Uemura's Underbase Mousse primer (Pink Purple) is the perfect neutral lilac to knock out post-illness sallowness and redness without leaving me looking more zombielike (cheers, traditional green/purple primers!) or tangoed (trad pink/orange). Having finished a Graftobian HD cream foundation and Ellis Faas concealer, I'm now mixing various things with Suqqu Frame Fix Foundation 101 and layering things over Bobbi Brown Corrector in Light Bisque (of which the Shu 4R sable brush applies the perfect amount).

Eyes have consisted of simple washes of a cream eyeshadow: RBR Atlas Swallowtail, Laura Mercier Mercury, MUFE Steel and Bobbi Brown Beach Honey all have a subtle silvery sheen to flatter discoloured eyelids. Sometimes with an iridescent pigment dabbed onto the centre of the lid for more dimension: RBR Sleeping Under a Mandarin Tree and Wishing for Wings, MAC Night Light, Suqqu Kyokkou.

Obviously, lips need to be bright and saturated to provide the greatest impact : effort ratio. By Terry Rouge Terrybly Cherry Cherry and Hot Cranberry, Chanel Genial, Bite Beauty Pomegranate, THREE Ruby Mist are all in heavy rotation and work well on lips in less than perfect condition.

Aside from the return of old favourite Mad Men, current flirtations with The Walking Dead and Once Upon A Time (though by now, I watch mostly for the lipstick/hat inspiration and Robert Carlyle's unholy charisma), I'm most eagerly anticipating the second season of Game of Thrones... which comes on in about five minutes so let's see how much drivel I can type until then.

I've been watching the first season's dvd commentaries, oh yes, and OMG, like, DIEING at the deliciously silly and geeky Lena Headey (Cersei) on episode 2 and Harry Lloyd (Viserys) on episode 6, and of course the adorable Stark kid actors on episode 3 (how preternaturally asute is Maisie Williams?) Essential viewing if you haven't already.

Also essential viewing (though you probably have already... I've fallen behind on memes trying to avoid spoilers):

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

St Patrick's Day and Night

I've been a lackadaisical blogger lately and this post is embarrasingly late. (Okay, also because I took the night pics after coming home, and most of the photos were hazy artistic renderings of my bathroom ceiling / left earlobe.)

Daytime pictures in natural light. Nighttime ones in artificial light + flash.

Rouge Bunny Rouge's delicate lime Resplendant Quetzal as an accent in a girly springtime look. RBR pigment in Sleeping Under a Mandarin Tree (I recently received a decant of this holographic marigold-shifting-to-lemon from a generous friend) all over the lid and under the inner part of lower lashline, with Chestnut-Napped Apalis in the socket. A perky flick with KATE gel liner BK-1 and a basic volumising daytime mascara, Maybelline Falsies wp. [Not pictured: GOSH white kohl]

Paired with one of the new Shu Uemura Rouge Unlimited lipsticks (CR330) and RBR liquid bronzer on high points to add warmth. Base is Shu Stage Performer and Underbase Mousse Pink Purple as a base, with custom concealer (RMS 11 + Illamasqua white) as needed.

Standard issue green smokey, incorporating as many of my new toys (from swaps! and gifts! honest....) as I had time for with utter disregard for clashing of undertones and other such canards.
Make Up Store pencil in Sparkling Smaragde as base and taken under eye with a dab of Green Card in the inner corner. On the lid: the two greyed greens from Kevyn Aucoin Essential Eye Palette #6 with Addiction Pink Python closest to the lashline [not pictured, impulsive addition] and Collection2000 Glam Crystals glitter eyeliner Pizzazz on the upper lashline. Waterline rimmed with MUFE Aqua Eyes 0L and clumptastic lashes with two coats of Majolica Majorca Lash King.

Paired with cool petally pinks rather than the more usual coral/peach -- Addiction Miss You More lipgloss and Shu Uemura Sakura blush. Same base as for day with the addition of Paul&Joe Light Cream Foundation S 00 -- you can see my custom concealer didn't quite hold up on the mutant boil I'm currently cultivating in between my eyebrows. Back to the lab....

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Sensai The Lipstick 21 Shirafuji review and swatches

Ever since I posted paper swatches of the Kanebo The Lipstick range, an internal clock has been counting down to my inevitable purchase. With the help of a £20 voucher from Harrods to halve the £40 price, I chose 21 Shirafuji, a versatile neutral bright rosy pink -- which will count as three of twelve.
To thoroughly test out its anti-ageing skincare claims, I wore this lipstick continuously over two sets of five days in a row (in very cold early February and once again in warm mid-March)... and saw absoutely no improvement in the condition of my lips after either period. Honestly not a shocker given the fairly standard ingredients list (note that the much touted koishimaru silk extract comes right at the end, just before the parabens, and that the gold is just an afterthought):
I'm sceptical of any makeup that claims to replace skincare anyway so the absence of any longer-term effects isn't a dealbreaker; though it's a nice bonus when they do improve the condition as well as look of my lips, e.g. Suqqu Creamy Glow, Fresh Sugar, Lanolips Tinted. More disappointngly, The Lipstick doesn't deliver any spectacular cosmetic benefits either. It doesn't emphasise my vertical lip lines (structural), but nor does it blur them. It doesn't make my lips look dessicated, but it doesn't make them look plumped and pillowy either. If my lips aren't in the best condition, it will highlight flakes and chapped areas, though less than some other formulas. And I absolutely need a layer of lipbalm underneath.

Shirafuji applied, emphasising the chapped area on my lower lip:
 (Suqqu EX-07 quad from the Lilac Allure set)

And on lips in dry but unbroken condition:
That said, it's a perfectly nice formula and the tone of this review would be pretty different if the retail price were around £25. Medium pigment, elegant satin cream finish, scentless, weightless feel, good lasting power fading to a light, even stain after a meal (although a darker shade may last/stain better). The packaging has a nice heft and looks sleekly, quietly luxurious, and it's not as GOLD! as I'd feared based on picture.
(Surely I'm not the only one who cares about this very important element. The YSL has been depotted, btw)
The shape of the bullet itself is also well thought-out; there isn't a 'front' and a 'back' but two gentle slopes tapering to a slim horizontal line, which makes for precise touch-ups. And you get a plush black velvet pouch which is -- oh Japanese attention to detail -- a perfect fit (I hate opening my bag to find that a heavy lipstick has abandoned its designated costume and wreaked havoc on my phone/camera/kindle/ipod).

Okay, you know it's desperate times when a serial depotter compliments packaging in an attempt to be fair. Here are some comparison swatches so you can see where this shade lies in relation to some other roses (next to red, my favourite shade):

From left to right and cool to warm:
Kanebo Lavshuca Dramatic Memory Rouge RS-1
Sonia Rykiel Sublime Lipstick 24
Kanebo Sensai The Lipstick 21 Shirafuji
Suqqu Creamy Glow 02 Kyoganoko
Guerlain Rouge Automatique Chamade
Hourglass Femme Rouge Fresco
Rouge Bunny Rouge Colourburst Whim of Mine

Obviously, I have no complaints about the shade, which changes a bit depending on lighting, but is equally flattering on lips and cheeks, and has enough slip to work beautifully as a dewy cream blush:
(Chanel Beiges on eyes)

In conclusion, Kanebo Sensai The Lipstick is, at £40,...

Not as good as: By Terry Rouge Terrybly (£31), Suqqu Creamy Glow (£27) or the best Guerlain Rouge G's (Gigolo, Girly and Garçonne, £29.50), Guerlain Rouge Automatique (£24.50)
On the other hand, better than: Serge Lutens (£53), Cle de Peau Lipstick ($55+) or Tom Ford (£35)
On par with: Hourglass Femme Rouge (£22), the best Chanel Rouge Allures (Genial, Super £24)

Thursday, 15 March 2012

New Lancome and Estee Lauder foundation swatches

To cut to the chase: Estee Lauder Invisible is an awesome formula that's impressed me more than any other in a long time -- a lightweight, applies-perfectly-with-fingers-and-without-a-mirror milk that seems to give a natural satin finish on almost all skintypes, and good medium+ coverage while hardly adding any texture to the skin. All this without any of the drying, irritating alcohol with which the likes of Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua and most popular Japanese milk sunscreens are filled.

Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra 24Hour...not so much. Full of alcohol yet dragging upon application and setting to an unflattering flat matte finish, while offering only marginally more coverage than Invisible, it actually seems to me to be a barely evolved version of Estee Lauder's most dated formula, DoubleWear. It does however beat Invisible in offering a much wider shade range -- I've swatched the palest shades from both formulas, with some other foundations for context.

foundation swatch Bobbi Brown Moisture Rich Foundation 00 Alabaster Make Up For Ever Mat Velvet+ 15 Lancôme Teint Miracle 005 Teint Idole Ultra 24 Hour 005 (007 is a little darker and quite a bit pinker) Estee Lauder Invisible 1N1 Estee Lauder Invisible 1CN1 Laura Mercier Silk Creme Soft Ivory Suqqu Frame Fix Cream 101
Bobbi Brown Moisture Rich Foundation 00 Alabaster
Make Up For Ever Mat Velvet+ 15
Lancôme Teint Miracle 005
Teint Idole Ultra 24 Hour 005 (007 is a little darker and quite a bit pinker)
Estee Lauder Invisible 1N1
Estee Lauder Invisible 1CN1
Laura Mercier Silk Creme Soft Ivory
Suqqu Frame Fix Cream 101

I wondered before sampling why Invisible didn't have a 1W(arm)1 shade as other Estee Lauder foundations do... and now I know it's because both the 1N(neutral)1 and 1C(ool)N(eutral)1 shades run warm yellow. If you wear another EL foundation, I'd recommend 'sizing cool' in this one -- if you wear W, try N. If you wear N, try CN. If you wear C... best of luck but don't get your hopes up.

For your amusement, here is me testing an extremely light layer of Invisible 1CN1, with further washing-out by my camera:
(I don't know why but I thought some other slap would mitigate the horror: Magie Deco Shadow Brilliance II DC030, Majolica Majorca Lash King mascara, Sensai The Lipstick 21 Shirafuji.)

Seriously, Lauder Corp, pale shades we can haz?

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Sleek Blush By 3 Comparison swatches

You know the drill by now -- context and comparisons and armfuls of stuff I thought would be similar but turned out to be barely related once swatched or even more embarrassingly, uncannily exact dupes.

See my original swatches of the complete set of Blush By 3 palettes here. I've since read that these will be made permanent and available to buy from the Sleek website later this year :)

All pictures taken in natural light with flash. Shades are all from Sleek unless otherwise specified.

363 Pumpkin 
Lantern is a brighter, more shimmery version of Furnace from the Flame trio. Becca Strawberry Beach Tint has more red and less orange/gold than these two.

Squash is a cool candy pink, slightly warmer than Addiction Amazing powder blush in its base, but cooled down by a silver sheen. They only look so warm set against extremely blue pinks like Nars Gaiety and Pink Ice from Pink Sprint....

The closest thing I own to violently orange P Pie is actually Sugarpill Flamepoint eyeshadow, which is darker and rustier and less 'o hai, I'm pumpkin!' Chantilly from the Lace trio looks like a wishy washy peach next to it. (According to Rouge Deluxe P Pie is a dupe for the limited edition Aruba single from last summer.)

 364 Sugar
Demerara is a slightly more saturated version of the permanent single, Flushed. Rouge Bunny Rouge Florita offers a cooler, pinker take on the dusty-berry-red theme.

Muscovado is the exact shade of the permanent single Sunrise, but in a smoother and more evenly pigmented formula.

Turbinado is deeper, more muted and browned than the true peach of Illamasqua Lover. It also lacks the bright coral lift of the limited edition single Pan Tao.

365 Flame
One armful as I found no real dupes except for the resemblance between Furnace and Lantern from Pumpkin trio (which you saw a few scrollings ago...) Becca Geranium Lip&Cheek Creme is the only muted warm red I own, but next to it Molten is so browned it looks almost orange. Becca Strawberry Beach Tint is a bright warm red to contrast with the more neutral Bon Fire -- a perfect replacement for the discontinued Scandalous single, btw.

366 Pink Sprint
Another not-quite-right armful. Becca Raspbery Beach Tint comes closest to Pink Parfait shade-wise but lacks the 'softness' it shades with shades like Florita or Rubens, both from Rouge Bunny Rouge. I adore Pinktini's rich rose-berry shade and own nothing similar -- it makes the jewelled Pomegranate (my favourite Sleek single blush, and one of my favourite blushes overall) look worn and dusty in comparison.

Pink Ice is a more saturated, matte and borderline-fuchsia version of my favourite kind of cool hot pink, of which Kevyn Aucoin Liquifuchsia and Addiction Amazing cheek stick are gel and cream examples. See, texture differences! Ahem, no dupes here. Move along now.

367 Lace
This palette was the hardest to track down for me and many makeupalleyers. Having finally acquired it through a lovely lady.... I realised I owned two very close dupes in Sleek single shades. GAH. Chantilly is a slightly more saturated, warmer version of Pan Tao (limited edition) while Guipure is an exact replica of Rose Gold, but swatched slightly smoother (maybe just because it's newer).

But! The palette is worth it for the awesome third shade, Crochet, a complex red-with-dangly-bits, more coral than Rouge Bunny Rouge Orpheline, less red than RMSBeauty Moment. Next to the true red Bon Fire from the Flame trio, you can see its coral and pink tones more clearly.