Saturday, 22 September 2012

Dolce & Gabbana Sole

Dolce & Gabbana Sole blush was a recent, rare impulse buy (I usually prefer to revel in the research part of makeup geekery), but an entirely successful one. It combines two of my very favourite things, red blush and season fetishism*, to give a perfectly glorious summer-shading-into-autumn slightly sunburnt flush.

*Of course, my personal approach to 'seasonality' encompasses working-against (or -at-a-tangent or what have you) as well as working-with; I don't restrict myself to a Puritanical diet of cabbage, squash and gnarly carrots in winter so why play at it in makeup?

Uh, I mean, shiny!

I don't love gold packaging as a rule, but hey, this is actually pretty tasteful for D&G. Nice rounded corners, pretty hefty. Includes an averagely useless mini brush. Not pretty enough to prevent me from depotting it as soon as I can work out the construction.

The Goods
i.e. smooth, pigmented, blendable-with-fingers, wears-true-all-day, unadulterated deliciousness. You know how long-winded and nitpicky I can be so let the shortness and sweetness of this review speak for itself -- this is one of the best powder blush formulas I've ever tried. End of.

Swatch, unblended (sponge) and blended (Suqqu Cheek Brush):
natural light
In general I find warm (orange/coral) red blushes more flattering than cool (pink/blue) ones -- because of the coolness in my skin a warmer red once blended out reads closer to neutral or 'true' red; a cool red combined with the pink in my cheeks tips over too easily into my natural fevered/rosacean/drunk flush. Which is a long-winded way of saying: if I can get a look by slapping myself, I aint going to pay for slap that's the same colour.

Still, within the context of my wardrobe, Sole is the warmest/most orange shade of red I own. And because seasonality is by definition contextual, that probably explains why it functions as my white-shades-and-polka-dot-bikini blush....

Paired with glowy, bronzed skin (Rouge Bunny Rouge Sea of Clouds highlighter and As If It Were Summer Still bronzer) and a complementary orange-red lip (YSL Glossy Stain 9 Rouge Laque), Sole makes this simple look less Snow White and more Rosy the Riveter.
okay...maybe I got a little slap-happy with the bronzer
Another bit of sunlight (I said it was a fetish OKAY) in the wing: THREE Ziggy pigment mixed with Illamasqua Sealing Gel. Other eye makeup: GOSH white kohl, Fasio Curl Lock Mascara Volume.
Minimal beach-girl base (fetish fetish fetish) with strategic dots of Becca Compact Concealer Meringue and Browlash EX Eyebrow Pencil Natural Brown.


Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Red Blush Swatches

As revealed in a previous post, or two, my very favourite makeup colour is red.

Pictures taken in natural light, on a rarely brightish London summer's day.

swatches made with sponge applicators
red powder blush swatches Rouge Bunny Rouge Florita, Orpheline, Shu Uemura P Red 14, Addiction Revenge, Dolce&Gabbanna Sole, Kevyn Aucoin Fira, Beauty Is Life Palace, Opera, Sleek Flushed
1. Rouge Bunny Rouge Florita
2. Rouge Bunny Rouge Orpheline
3. Shu Uemura P Red 14 (discontinued; closest in current range P Medium Red 175)
4. Addiction Revenge
5. Dolce&Gabbanna Sole
6. Kevyn Aucoin Fira*
7. Beauty Is Life Palace*
8. Beauty Is Life Opera*
9. Sleek Flushed

Liquids, Creams etc.
fingertip swatches
red blush swatches Hourglass Flush cheek stain, Addiction Revenge cheekstick, Chicca 10 Girly Blush flush blush, Besame Crimson creme rouge, Rouge Bunny Rouge Rubens blush wand, Beauté Fever liquid-gel stain, RMS Beauty Rapture lip2cheek, Illamasqua Crush cream blush
1. Hourglass Flush cheek stain*
2. Addiction Revenge cheekstick
3. Chicca 10 Girly Blush flush blush
4. Besame Crimson creme rouge
5. Rouge Bunny Rouge Rubens blush wand*
6. Beauté Fever liquid-gel stain*
7. RMS Beauty Rapture lip2cheek
8. Illamasqua Crush cream blush

*starred items are ones that I have already bid farewell to or will be looking to rehouse shortly -- look out for Blog Sale Part 2 next Monday.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Addiction Yellow Submarine

It was pretty difficult to single out a favourite item from the magical box of Japanese goodies the beautiful Liz recently helped me get my paws on. But Addiction Eye Lacquer WP in Yellow Submarine (¥2625) might just be it....

(Hey, how often do I let the look do most of the talking?)

Base Mehron Celebre Professional HD Foundation LT-1 [bit too light; will revisit in winter], Burberry Sheer Touch 01 under eyes, Rouge Bunny Rouge Sea Of Tranquility to highlight. Browlash EX Natural Brown pencil in brows.
Cheeks Addiction Amazing powder, taken up temples, subsequently eaten up by camera. *kicks camera*
Lips Guerlain Rouge Automatique Champs Élysées
Eyes Addiction Yellow Submarine, GOSH white kohl, Fasio Ultra Curl Lock Volume mascara

Many Anglophone bloggers have reviewed the Addiction Lacquers by now (links below) so I'll just drivel that they are indeed bombproof and very cool-feeling but they do set extremely fast so it's best to go in with a clear idea of what shape and opacity you want, work one eye at a time, and do not try to layer more lacquer over itself to avoid patchiness or 'bald spots'. If you need precision and neatness, especially a perfectly even application across the entire lid right into the lashline, these probably aren't for you:
See, kinda patchy in close-up, and especially gnarly around my eyelid folds. Not that it's at all visible when my eyes are open -- hoods have their advantages....

The finish of Yellow Submarine (and I believe Aventure) differs from the other seven shades in this range.
Taken from the Addiction site, these aren't bad for official swatches and show the textural difference between Yellow Submarine /Aventure and the other shades
While my other Addiction Eye Lacquer, Swimming Pool, is very similar to the darker/more pigmented sides of the Paul&Joe Eye Gloss Duos  [Addiction and Paule&Joe are both under the Kosé umbrella], Yellow Submarine is more properly, well, a lacquer: an oddly rubberized finish that looks satin-matte in low light and gleams smoothly indoors, it's only in close-up and at certain angles that you can catch the sparse ultra-fine microshimmer (mostly blue and green) scattered throughout.

And while we're on it (disgruntled letter-to-the-editor time), those Paul&Joe 'Glosses' aren't glossy any more than most of these Addiction 'Lacquers' are lacquered; they're both like sparkly gels that, once set, feel like mattes -- if you haven't tried them the closest analogues I know are film-forming lipsticks like the Rouge D'Armani or Lancôme Rouge In Love, or MAC Face&Body foundation. While at certain angles and under certain lighting in studio photography, glitter may translate as 'glossy', in the real world they look like sparkles, dammit, Cullenesque sparkles. And you know what looks like an eye gloss? An actual eye gloss like Rouge Bunny Rouge Angel's Play.

Therefore, while Yellow Submarine is more of a lacquer than its sisters, and has barely any visible shimmer, it still is not a gloss. Okay? Yes, I know I am crazy. Just agree with me about this so I can stop breathing irefully into this paper bag.
Above, Yellow Submarine, blended out, Bottom: RBR Angel's Play
The only shot out of twenty in which any sparkle in YS showed up. Direct sunlight. 

Textural rant out of the way, here's a colour comparison to demonstrate just how well-balanced Yellow Submarine is tonally, and also how obnoxiously bright, especially in the full swatch :D
yellow eyeshadow swatches Addiction Yellow Submarine eye gloss, Suqqu 12 Usukiiro, Shu Uemura M Yellow 300, Sugarpill Buttercupcake, Catrice John Lemo
Suqqu single eyeshadow 12 Usukiiro and Shu Uemura M Yellow 300 [second-gen], are pastel powders, both discontinued.
Sugarpill Buttercupcake is a warmer turmeric.
Catrice John Lemon is closest to the blended swatch of Yellow Submarine, but a little paler and warmer, lacking the unabashedly artificial cool green tinge YS owes to its blue and green microshimmer.

I don't know of any shade close to the opaque swatch of Yellow Submarine, and I've been hunting for years. Thanks again to darling Liz for making my very old makeup dream come true.

For more swatches and reviews:
Aucuparia Brumalis
Beauty of Interest
Makeup and Things
Rouge Deluxe
So Lonely In Gorgeous
and finally Sakura Lovely has swatches of all nine shades together, and a different take on Yellow Submarine (it looks gold on her!)

Monday, 10 September 2012

Armani Maestro Fusion Foundation Review / Swatches

Maestro Fusion Makeup is a brand new formula from cult bassists Giorgio Armani and my review of it is brought to you by Selfridges' early release [available nationwide from October 1st] and helpful provision of samples, and my inability to resist anything touted as a foundation game-changer. Which comes in a wee glass dropper bottle!

It's like, all SCIENCEY, but there's a delicate wisp of silk too, for the laydeez. [Surely I am not the only one to extrapolate from this that their next foundation will be called Impressario Cold Fusion and the ad will feature tassels? And an elephant.]

If my tone hasn't tipped you off, in my opinion this foundation aint no game-changer. In fact, there are only two things stopping me from calling naked emperor altogether:

  1. The texture feels like the most cutting-edge of dry oils from high end skincare brands -- with more glide than even a very dry neat oil like jojoba (technically a wax blah blah shush) -- and applies like a dream. It's literally 'effortlessly blendable', blending seamlessly as you apply. I generally dislike using my fingers for makeup application, but they worked beautifully with this formula; I honestly think you could load this stuff into Homer Simpson's makeup gun, shoot yourself, and get a perfect finish.
  2. It adjusts to match my skintone. Just like the copy promised. Making this my first match in Armani since they discontinued the palest shade of Designer Cream 4? 5? years back.

I like to review foundations hot on the heels of a breakout so the current gauntlet (thanks, stress & summer flu!) consists of: spots on cheeks, both fresh and just-healed, volcanic cyst in middle of forehead, flaky nose and cheeks, usual unevenness/sallow patches.

Armani Maestro Fusion #2

A great example of a light-as-air texture failing to translate as a natural-as-skin finish. Despite offering only light-medium coverage [even the sallowness around my mouth and the faint red marks on my cheeks are still visible, not to mention the brighter spots] Maestro still looks like foundation. Texturally, it actually emphasises ....everything, highlighting the flakes on my inner cheeks and bracketing my nose (while not covering the redness at all?!) and picking out every strand of peach fuzz [look near my jawline in the second picture]. These flaws were much more obvious in reality than my camera would have you believe, and I don't give any makeup bonus points for how it looks in photos. Failin' as blogger, I know....

More seriously, it is not only cosmetically but also physically drying (alcohol denat. is fourth on the ingredients list), leaving my skin tight and itchy by lunchtime and with red and peeling patches after washing it off at 5 pm. Other sensitive-skinned folk may wish to note inclusion of fragrance and botanicals among aaaaall teh cones.

So obviously this formula is not for me. Which isn't too heartbreaking as regular readers may know that I do not enjoy sheer foundations, much preferring to use a miniscule amount of full-coverage stuff sheered out myself on a beautyblender sponge or to skip foundation altogether and prime/spot conceal as necessary.

Still think the colour shift thing is pretty nifty though.
From jaundice-face immediately after application.... a perfect match ten minutes later
Note: Maestro's coverage didn't miraculously improve in this ten minutes; I added Becca compact concealer Meringue over spots and Burberry Sheer pen 01 under eyes. 
[Other makeup Addiction Arabian Nights eye kohl, Concrete Jungle eyeshadow, Fasio Ultra Curl Lock Mascara Volume // Addiction Faithful // RBR Gracilis]

I cannot explain this witchery; perhaps one of you wise readers could? Or chime in if Maestro also changes up on you, or if it doesn't, or if you love it and it's your new baby and I can go suck a goat. Y'know, the usual.

The magic does not happen on my arm with a heavier swatch, so Armani Maestro 2 remains definitely yellower than Shu Uemura Nobara stick 784, Illamasqua Skin Base 2, Laura Mercier Silk Creme Soft Ivory or Bourjois Healthy Mix 51, although (only) Bourjois is a little darker than the Armani.
foundation swatches Armani Maestro Fusion 2 Shu Uemura Nobara stick 784, Illamasqua Skin Base 2, Laura Mercier Silk Creme Soft Ivory, Bourjois Healthy Mix 51

More comparison swatches by request: MAC Studio Sculpt NC15; Armani Lasting Silk, Luminous Silk and Maestro 2 and MAC Studio Fix Fluid NC15. Which illustrates how inconsistent these letters and numbers can be even within a swatches Armani Maestro Fusion 2, MAC Studio Sculpt NC15 Studio Fix Fluid NC15, Armani Lasting Silk 2 Luminous Silk 2

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Suqqu EX-07 Tsukiakari Forwards, Backwards and Sideways

Hullo sky! Hullo birds! &c. Oh yes, I am on holiday at last :D Which hopefully means I'll be spamming you all more regularly with the enormous hoard of pics on my hard-drive.

First up, a new thing which-I-am-not-sure-is-a-great-idea-but-people-asked-people-as-in-more-than-one-person-even: a pictorial step-by-step of one of my typical vertical-gradation eye looks using Suqqu's new, limited edition EX-07 Tsukiakari quad for autumn (previously swatched). Srsly, it is actually embarrassing how basic this is / how unskilled I am; you can probably extrapolate from this to unlock the sekrits of all my other makeup :P

The Quad In Question

The Look
1. Swept the white powder primer (bottom right pan) all over up to brow

2. With a dense flat brush (I used Shu Uemura Synthetic 10), patted the navy cream (bottom left) over the mobile lid, feathering outwards at the very edges. [Don't worry about making it perfectly neat; it is just fine if it looks a patchy mess in close-up :P] Took it under the lower lashline with the edge of the same brush, from outer corner fading inwards.

3. With a dense-but-fluffy brush (I used Suqqu Eyeshadow M, but a flatter brush like MAC 239, Shu Natural 10 etc. works too), patted the plum taupe (top right pan) over and slightly beyond the navy base and swept to blend lightly at edges. Layered it over the navy cream on the lower lashline.

4. With a fluffy blender (I used Suqqu Eyeshadow L, other possibilities: MAC 217 or 224, Stila 9, Nars 14 etc.), lightly blended the peachy pink (top left) over and beyond the edges of the plum taupe into the socket and inner corner.

5. With the remains of the peachy pink on the same fluffy brush, blended out any harsh lines separating the shades [I wanted a very soft, hazy look]. Dusted off brush, then used it to pick up more of the powder primer to help adjust/clean up the shape -- I changed my mind at this point from the elongated shape I'd laid down to wanting a more rounded one, so pulled the outer corner in and up.

6. Used a liner brush (I used Chikuhodo Artist 6-1 cf. MAC 231, Hakuhodo 005 etc.) and the navy cream again to make a thickish line following and extending straight out from the natural shape of my eye. Also to rim lower waterline and line outer 1/3 of lower lashline.

7. Mascara (Lancome Hypnôse Drama WP) and done.

With the left side of Suqqu EX-02 Mizumomo blush and Beauté Fever stain on lips, topped with balm.
Base: Rouge Bunny Rouge Sea of Clouds to highlight, Becca compact concealer Meringue on blemishes and Burberry pen concealer 01 under eyes. BCL Browlash EX Water Strong W Eyebrow Pencil Natural Brown on brows.

Better angle for the blush

The Look, Backwards
I think of looks like this as a smokey-eye-with-colours: it smokes outwards from the lashline. The more traditional way of doing this kind of vertical gradation of eyeshadow goes from light to dark, towards the lashline but creates a similarly flattering smokey effect. I really don't have a preference for either method (sometimes I will start with the midtone shade), so it depends more on the kind of effect you want to achieve with the particular shades you're working with.

Going from light to dark with this particular Suqqu palette creates a lighter and warmer pink/red look without the navy sludging things up as a base. I kept the brushes and overal shape consistent with the first look. For Science.

1. Again I applied the white primer base all over my eye. Then the peachy pink all over the mobile lid into the socket with Suqqu Eyeshadow L brush.

2. The plum taupe on a denser brush (Suqqu Eyeshadow M) over lid and crease, leaving a halo of the peachy-pink untouched.

3. Navy to line (Chikuhodo Artist 6-1). Turned out a little more winged out than the day before. oops. 

4. Lower lashline is pretty much the same as the day before's but with the addition of the pinky peach layered over the two darker shades.

Blush is Suqqu EX-02 Mizumomo again (this time I mixed both shades for a lighter and softer pink) but to echo the eye I went with Addiction Lady of the Lake on the lips, a deeper, richer wine than the red before.
Same base, but RBR Sea of Tranquility (opal pink) replacing Clouds (white).

The Palette, Sideways
or, y'know, comparison swatches.
The peachy pink from EX-07 Tsukiakari is very close to (maybe a hair lighter than) the pink in Suqqu's 08 Mizuaoi quad: both are pinker and cooler (and less sparkly) than Chanel Illusion D'Ombre Abstraction. What my swatch doesn't show is that the Tsukiakari shade is much more pigmented and less delicately sparkly than the Mizuaoi one (which is layered here twice).

Tsukiakari's plum taupe is most similar to ME Medium Plum 761 from Shu Uemura, but it is sheerer and has a much more melty-buttery texture and less of a metallic sheen. The darker side of Paul&Joe Eye Gloss Duo 4 Bourgeoisie is more metallic yet, and is much cooler -- more of a straight taupe with only a hint of mauve reflect. Rouge Bunny Rouge Delicate Hummingbird looks extremely grurple alongside these, but reads as a dusty taupe against proper jewelled purples [I had a reason to swatch it, honest]. 

The navy cream turned out to be quite tricky to 'dupe' exactly, considering my fondness for this shade. Its grey-blue base makes it look brighter and clearer than both Rouge Bunny Rouge Vera kohl (with which it shares a little violetiness) and KATE BU-1 gel liner (which looks almost tealish in consequence). The micro-sparkle in the Suqqu lighten it further -- making it both brightening and defining as a liner.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Suqqu Autumn 2012 Collection Swatches

Suqqu's latest collection has finally landed in the UK and as the half-arsed title suggests ('Pink', really?) this is another collection that's unified more by textures than by colour-story.

(As always with Suqqu, the EX- prefix means the item is limited edition.)

The shiniest of new shinies are the three eyeshadow palettes (£45) which for the first time, contain a cream pan -- pigmented enough to use as liner, blendable enough to work as a base. The bottom right pan is Suqqu's usual powder primer base (this goes under the cream even if you are using that all over the eye). The two top pans are both richly pigmented dimensional shimmers of a very similar feel to the top right pan from the quints released this spring. It's a typically thoughtful departure from Suqqu's usual practice of having a sheerer, more sparkly shadow in the top left pan; both of these are pigmented enough to layer alone over the cream to create a radically different shade, rather than just adding a shimmery highlight.

Swatches: I skipped the powder primers and swiped the three main shades separately (powders with the included sponge tips, cream with my pinky finger) once; for the rightmost stripe, I blended out the cream over the powder primer and swept both powder shadows over it.

EX-07 Tsukiakari (月灯, moonlight) makes for a lovely murky purple/grey haze when combined or layered but worn separately the shades give an interesting warm/cool contrast, which makes this a slightly better replacement for my beloved discontinued 01 Kakitsubata than 12 Konruri. Comparison swatches and a few looks with it are here.
Suqqu Blend Eyeshadow palette swatch EX-07 Tsukiakari

13 Akanezora (茜空, lit. madder sky) mixes to a lovely taupe but I think it best evokes the ruddy sunsets of its name when worn in staggered layers in a rosy smokey eye. This combination of cool pink, peachy rose and yellow-brown reminds me of the recently discontinued 05 Sakurakaba quad.
Suqqu Blend Eyeshadow palette swatch 13 Akanezora

14 Kosumosuiro ( 秋桜色, lit. autumn cherry-blossom) is named for the cosmos flower whose vivid blossoms are supposed to evoke the early autumnal mood just as the pink-and-white sakura herald spring. For those with richer inner lives than mine, presumably. The green/bronze/peach combo is undeniably lovely and feels very right as the nights draw in, even if their richness of tone evokes plush velvets, murky tweeds and soft wool jumpers for me, rather than anything as artless as flowers.... Suqqu's 07 Komorebi (lit. sunlight-through-trees) quad is a much more delicately bucolic take on a similar combination.
Suqqu Blend Eyeshadow palette swatch 14 Kosumosuiro

Another, more sneakily new release: two limited-edition blush duos called Gradation Cheeks (£38). All the shades are satins, significantly less shimmery than the blush duos from spring, slightly less visible shimmer than in the Shiseido powders but with more of a kick than those from Rouge Bunny Rouge or Burberry.

EX-01 Mizudaidai (瑞橙, juicy orange) is a pairing of soft warm apricot with palest peach.
[I'm trying to avoid the word 'fleshy' here but it's swirling around my brain so why not yours too.]
Suqqu Gradation Cheeks  blush duo swatches EX-01 Mizudaidai

As requested I compared the left side of EX-01 Mizudaidai (centre) with Armani #2 (left) and Nars Douceur (R):

EX-02 Mizumomo (瑞桃, juicy pink) combines a pale pink-tinged white [not swatched as invisible on my skin -- would work as highlight on NC/W20+] with a bright, cool pink, compared here against Addiction Amazing powder and Nars Gaiety.
Suqqu Gradation Cheeks  blush duo swatches EX-02 Mizumomo

Finally, the five lipsticks are all in Suqqu's sheer jelly Creamy Glow Moist formula (£27). Three pretty, populist shades are permanent expansions of the line: 03 Fuyuzakura, 04 Tsuirokokemomo and 05 Usunadeshiko go from pinkest to orangiest on the warm pink-peach scale. Swatches are all 3-4 swipes layered, taken in natural light.
Suqqu Creamy Glow Moist Lipstick swatches 03 Fuyuzakura, 04 Tsuirokokemomo, 05 Usunadeshiko

Of the limited edition releases, EX-05 Hanabotan is a shimmery browned rose and EX-06 Maaka a warm strawberry red -- a great one to try if you find most sheer reds pull pink/fuchsia, this is not as pink as Lipstick Queen Medieval but has less brown than Shiseido Natural Red.
Suqqu Creamy Glow Moist Lipstick swatches EX-05 Hanabotan EX-06 Maaka

The last item in this collection is a very subtly (wears as translucent on me) cool-pink-toned Chiffon Feel Loose Powder which is slightly more moisturising while giving a slightly more matte finish than the regular Nuancing Loose Powder Natural. You get 19g instead of the usual 15g for £40, and the ingredients differ only... er... slightly between the two formulations:
Suqqu Chiffon Feel Loose Powder ingredients
Suqqu Nuancing Loose Powder Natural ingredients