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Friday, 7 December 2012

Pattern Recognition: Winter Nails

Embarrassing as it was, my last experiment with this kind of collage post was really helpful in motivating me to pare down my collection -- I kept 20 out of the 53 items shown.

So here's a nail polish edition, featuring the three groups I've been gravitating to lately: textured greens, smooth blues and purple-tinged neutrals.

All pictures taken in natural sun/light. Swatches are 2 coats with topcoat unless otherwise noted.
DC = discontinued
LE = limited edition



Textured greens
left to right:
Butter London Trustafarian: pale lemon-sage holo (3 coats)
China Glaze He's Going In Circles: seafoam-mint holo (DC)
Butter London Swinger: multi-tonal glittery chartreuse
Essence Bashful: hunter green cream base with fine gold shimmer (LE)
Smitten Polish I Want It Now: green jelly base with teal, green and black sparkle (3 coats)
China Glaze Emerald Sparkle: deepened green base with...emerald sparkle
A-England St George: subtle rich holo, more pine green than teal
Butter London Jack the Lad: dark bottle green base with gold, turquoise and emerald glitter
Suqqu EX-08 Kujakudama: blackened sage with lighter, warmer green shimmer (DC)

Trustafarian, He's Going in Circles, Swinger, Bashful, I Want it Now, (Emerald Sparkle)
Bashful, I Want It Now, Emerald Sparkle, St George, Jack the Lad, Kujakudama
Jack the Lad


Smooth Blues
left to right:
Kiko 336 Electric Blue: bright, clear electric blue, on the light side of IKB
YSL 18 Bleu Majorelle: a little deeper/more muted than Kiko
OPI Dating a Royal: sheer cobalt jelly (4 coats)
China Glaze Man Hunt: slightly richer and deeper than OPI, cobalt crelly
Kiko 335 Ink Blue: sheer parker-ink blue, looks more blue and less teal with layering (4 coats)
Illamasqua Propaganda: inky blackened blue (3 coats)

Electric Blue, Bleu Majorelle, Dating a Royal, Man Hunt, Ink Blue, Propaganda 
Electric Blue, Bleu Majorelle, Dating a Royal, Man Hunt, Ink Blue, Propaganda 

Purple as a neutral
left to right:
Butter London Muggins: pale grey with lavender tint
OPI Done Out In Deco: lilac cream
Butter London No More Waity, Katie: lavender taupe base with brighter, warmer glitter (3 coats)
[no bottle pic] A-England Guinevere: neutral greyed lavender
Rescue Beauty Lounge Insouciant: dusty lilac-taupe base with subtle cool blue reflect 
Sephora by OPI Metro Chic: looks ridiculously warm here but it's not, a dirty plummed taupe
Barry M Dusky Mauve: Chanel Paradoxal in a far superior formula :P
Rescue Beauty Lounge Recherché: warm grey-smoked plum

Muggins, Done Out In Deco, NMWK, Guinevere, Insouciant, Metro Chic, Dusky Mauve, Recherché
Muggins, Done Out In Deco, NMWK, Guinevere, Insouciant, Metro Chic, Dusky Mauve, Recherché 

So which would you ditch? :) Any shared favourites? Not sure why my brain would regard this kind of thing as a makeup rut MAYDAY MAYDAY but in nail terms, it's just a pleasant aesthetic wave to ride.

Apologies for not keeping up with posting/replying to comments/bloghopping lately: holidays = mad chaotic rush, always. I aim to post at least once a week for now, but will hopefully be back on a more regular schedule next year.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

More Shu Uemura Prestigious Bordeaux Looks

Yep, still in love with this palette.

The two looks I'm going to show you today both play into the rosy eyeshadow trend which seems to dominate this year's holiday collections (Lisa Eldridge has a great video showcasing Chanel's take here).


1. Harmonious haze i.e. a more organic version of the first look here
Bronze silk smooth (top right) all over lid and lower lashline as a base
Pink (middle left) packed over the centres of lid and lower lashline to bring out the silver sparkle
Gold glitter (bottom left) to blended in from inner corner
[RBR Automatic Eye Pencil Salome, Armani ETK waterproof mascara]

Cheek: Sula Girl Next Door
Lip: Fresh Sugar Rosé
Base: Vapour Atmosphere Luminous Foundation 090 and Illusionist Concealer 000

Flash pic to give a better idea of the textures:




2. A cooler take, incorporating slightly more contrast both tonally and texturally.
Horizontal gradation from pink inner corner, through gold, to purple outer corner, socket blended and darkened with Rouge Bunny Rouge Sweet Dust Seriema.
Lower lashline surrounds the gold with more of the pink.
[GOSH white kohl, L'Oreal TFLWP mascara]


Cheek and Lip: Sonia Rykiel Sublime Lipstick 24
Base: Shu Uemura Tsuya UnderBase Mousse, Vapour Illusionist Concealer 000

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Fyrinnae Swatches Part 1

I've arranged these roughly by colour groups, but disorganisation and short arms means there will probably be strays added on at a later date. Many of these are currently unavailable / have been reformulated, so I've not noted this -- Fyrinnae's stock changes so quickly any info I post will have a short lifespan anyway. If you'd like to know what vintage/edition a particular shade is, please leave me a comment and I'll try my best to answer.

Unless otherwise noted, all swatches made by patting with a fingertip onto bare, moisturised skin and are of the loose shadows which I had pressed myself with glycerin and isopropyl alcohol (having tested about 20 shades against the leftover loose pigment, I cannot detect any change in the opacity or finish).

Starred names are Arcane Magic shades.



GREEN
If I had to pick a favourite eyeshadow colour, it would probably be green. (Or purple. Or taupe. Yeah, I can't really pick... am but a flighty flibbertigibbet compared to Queen of Green Naz.) But Fyrinnae makes some of my favourite greens ever, so they're up first :) ...with a few sneaky turquoises/teals.
Fyrinnae green eyeshadow swatches Are You My Mummy?* Dragon's Wing Eternal Innocence Anemone Electric Stardust* Otherworld Madame and Eve's* Callipygian Dark Fantasy* Njordr Boytoy Vodka Hypercool


Closer looks at this batch:
Fyrinnae eyeshadow swatches 1. Are You My Mummy? 2. Dragon's Wing 3. Eternal Innocence 4. Anemone 5. Electric Stardust 6. Otherworld
1. Are You My Mummy?*
2. Dragon's Wing
3. Eternal Innocence
4. Anemone
5. Electric Stardust*
6. Otherworld


Fyrinnae Eyeshadow swatches 1. Madame and Eve's* 2. Callipygian 3. Dark Fantasy* 4. Njordr 5. Boytoy 6. Vodka 7. Hypercool


1. Madame and Eve's*
2. Callipygian
3. Dark Fantasy*
4. Njordr
5. Boytoy
6. Vodka
7. Hypercool

Many of Fyrinnae's blackened shades do require a sticky base (I use the brand's Pixie Epoxy, but many prefer Too Faced Glitter Glue) to truly shine, so I've reswatched some over PE. Messily, which is why I prefer to skip PE....
Fyrinnae eyeshadow swatches Madame and Eve's*, Callipygian, Dark Fantasy* over pixie epoxy
Madame and Eve's*, Callipygian, Dark Fantasy*
Fyrinnae eyeshadow swatches  Njordr Boytoy Hypercool over Pixie Epoxy
Njordr, Boytoy, Hypercool




more BLUE-GREEN
Fyrinnae eyeshadow swatches 1. Raven's Prophecy* 2. Dokkalfar 3. Jaguar 4. Sorceress* 5. Pteranodon 6. Sleepy Hollow 7. Bride of Frankenstein*
1. Raven's Prophecy*
2. Dokkalfar
3. Jaguar
4. Sorceress*
5. Pteranodon
6. Sleepy Hollow
7. Bride of Frankenstein*

Over Pixie Epoxy:
Fyrinnae eyeshadow swatches over Pixie Epoxy 1. Raven's Prophecy* 2. Dokkalfar 3. Jaguar 4. Sorceress*
1. Raven's Prophecy*
2. Dokkalfar
3. Jaguar
4. Sorceress*



PURPLE
aka, my other favouritest Fyrinnae colours
Fyrinnae purple eyeshadow swatches Shinigami Cuddlefish Parental Advisory Meerkat Herbivore Sequinned Master* When I Grow Up Alchemist's Curse* Velvet Vampire* Freya Shinigami Cuddlefish


closer look:
Fyrinnae purple eyeshadow swatches Shinigami Cuddlefish Parental Advisory Meerkat Herbivore Sequinned Master* When I Grow Up
Shinigami
Cuddlefish
Parental Advisory
Meerkat
Herbivore
Sequinned Master*
When I Grow Up

Fyrinnae purple eyeshadow swatches Alchemist's Curse* Velvet Vampire* Freya Shinigami Cuddlefish
Alchemist's Curse*
Velvet Vampire*
Freya
Shinigami
Cuddlefish 

Alchemist's Curse* over Pixie Epoxy
Fyrinnae alchemist's curse swatched over pixie epoxy



PINK/RED
Fyrinnae eyeshadow swatches 1. Chaotic Evil 2. Superstar 3. Kurisumasu!  4. Wake Not The Dead* 5. Cupcake Frosting 6. Crimson Ghost, Purgatory, Velvet Vampire, Dark Magick, Candy Coated, Samhain Spirits

closer looks
Fyrinnae eyeshadow swatches 1. Chaotic Evil 2. Superstar 3. Kurisumasu!  4. Wake Not The Dead* 5. Cupcake Frosting 6. Crimson Ghost
1. Chaotic Evil
2. Superstar
3. Kurisumasu! 
4. Wake Not The Dead*
5. Cupcake Frosting
6. Crimson Ghost

Fyrinnae red eyeshadow swatches Purgatory, Velvet Vampire, Dark Magick, Candy Coated, Samhain Spirits
1. Purgatory
2. Velvet Vampire* (repeat from the purples because it shifts between plum/copper red)
3. Dark Magick
4. Candy Coated
5. Samhain Spirits

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Skincare: Body

As with my facial skincare [main and supplementary routines], the goal is to keep my naturally very dry skin moisturised without irritation, an especially tricky proposal in winter, so that I can then forget about it and use my hands for other things than scratching myself to death.


CLEANSE
A soap-free, non-drying body wash makes a huge difference to how comfortable my skin feels -- I've learned through experience that even the richest moisturisers afterwards can't compensate for a harsh cleanser. La Roche-Posay Lipikar Surgras [ingredients] is my current favourite; for summer / humid climates / active bouts of eczema or irritation, I switch over to the lighter Lipikar Syndet [ingredients]. Please note that both of these shower gels contain niacinamide, sodium laureth sulfate, and Surgras also contains fragrance. If you dislike products which leave a slight 'film' on the skin, avoid Surgras.
Scrubs can be tricky for delicate skin, but the Haus of Gloi Soft Bubbling Scrubs are a good balance of effective and gentle for me -- the sugars dissolve quickly enough into a light, clean-rinsing foam that even a bout of overenthusiastic buffing [me + sugar + bubbles = enthusiasm an ever-present danger....] won't leave skin red or chapped. The dinky 2oz. sample sizes are a perfect way to experiment with the plethora of HoG scents on offer, and each $3.50 tub, used once weekly, lasts me a full month.
Haus of Gloi Honeysuckle Lemon Curd Soft Bubbling Scrub ingredients 
If a slightly stronger exfoliant is needed for elbows, knees and arse, I reach for FuturePrimitive Soap Co. Bubbling Sugar Scrubs, which are a bit more scrubby and a bit less foamy than the Haus of Gloi Bubbling ones, but which are gentler than the Haus Emulsifying Scrubs. The Future Primitive scrubs also rinse clean, and their scents tend to suit my olfactory preferences more (and layer better with my perfumes) than the foodier Haus of Gloi offerings; being a UK indie brand, there is quicker/cheaper shipping to enjoy as well.
FuturePrimitive Soap Co. Urchin Girl Bubbling Sugar Scrub ingredients 
As a general rule of thumb for dry, sensitive skin, keep your showers short and not too hot, and shower in the evening so that your skin can dry properly and absorb any moisturisers before being exposed to cold winter air.


MOISTURISE
But with my holy grail moisturiser, I just have to shut up and cough up the price of international shipping every few months. Having tried every readily available option, and many an indie one besides, Haus of Gloi Pumpkin Butters remain the best at keeping my skin soft, comfortable and eczema-free. While not the thickest or most emollient, they are definitely the most efficient body butters I've tried, and the gorgeous 'whipped' texture is light enough to smooth with no effort in no time at all (no boring 'warming between hands' or 'rubbing' or other esoteric and faintly kinky speshul application skillz required), and sinks in immediately even in a humid Hong Kong summer.
Haus of Gloi Aether Pumpkin Butter ingredients
Never a fan of gourmand scents, most of the Haus flavours are far too sweet for me (the scents I can enjoy in a scrub are magnified in pumpkin butter form), so my usual seasonal order (a 6 oz. jar lasts me a month) consists of two tubs of the unscented Aether and one other for variety. Apothecary (shown here) is mostly lemongrass on a faintly woody-herbaceous base, and my other favourite from the permanent line; noses being subjective, this light citrus might smell more 'neutral' to some than Aether, with its untempered shea/pumpkin/coconut components.
For enquiring minds, the limited edition seasonal scents I do like and repurchase: Three Treasures, Snow Wolf and Plotter's Breakfast (Yule), Samhain (Fall) and Something Hopeful (Valentine's, sometimes -- I hope they bring this back next year).


HANDS AND FEET
...don't necessarily require special / additional products, so listen to your own skin. Since I have Raynaud's (which affects extremities), do a lot with my hands and walk everywhere, separate products do help. Herby Crabtree & Evelyn Gardeners Hand Recovery (a coarse-grained salt scrub which leaves palms and cuticles soft and coated in oils -- I wouldn't use this on the thin skin on the backs of hands) and Hand Therapy (a matte, instantly absorbed but effective moisturiser) have been staples for years. I use the scrub once a week and keeps tubs of the cream everywhere -- I can get on with whatever I want to do immediately after application without leaving sticky, greasy handmarks.
In my bag, a rotation of travel-sized Japanese drugstore handcreams -- currently Shiseido Hand Cream -- which are usually scent-free, quickly absorbed to wear under gloves and carefully packaged never to explode/spill all over the rest of the stuff I tote around.
CCS Heel Balm contains 20% urea, higher than most UK drugstore offerings, and slathered overnight over feet (optionally topped with cotton socks) helps to keep them soft and prevent cracks.


EMERGENCIES
I was prescribed both of these basic treatment creams by doctors: Womnale DX II is a healing Japanese drugstore 20%-urea-and-hyaluronic acid mix (miraculously elegant texture for a urea cream and never stings), while Diprobase is a barrier-forming paraffin ointment, cheap as chips in the UK. All the blather above ensures that I rarely suffer from eczema / chilblains / cracked and chafed skin any more, but I still keep these around as insurance: a quick slather when early warning signs of sore skin manifest usually nips things in the bud.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Vapour Organic Beauty Swatches, Review and Look

Vapour Organic Beauty is a green brand (cruelty-free, certified organic ingredients, minimal recycled and recyclable packaging) which has been garnering raves for the past few years, mostly for base makeup. What made me sit up and take interest quite recently was the introduction of new, extra-pale shades of foundation and concealer to the lineup, as well as a more pigmented lip/cheek cream formula (Aura Stain) -- their earlier ranges seemed a bit too tasteful for me ;D

My nascent stash: Aura Multi-Use Blush Stain in 209 Impulse, Illusionist Concealer in 000 and Atmosphere Luminous Foundation in 090. In the UK, Content stocks a smaller selection of Vapour products, at the usual high post-import British prices (£20 for the concealer vs. $22). I acquired my products from Spiritbeautylounge via American friends. Mentioning this now to establish that I'm judging these products based on their more reasonable US prices.

Nitpicky aesthetes might be annoyed by the difference in packaging between these different products -- it's not just a colour/looks thing either, the stick foundation tube (right) is flimsy plastic while the concealer (middle) is much heftier and sleeker, with the stain (left) somewhere in between. Picky noses should be aware: these are unscented, which is not the same as scent-free; they have a definite, lingering nutty/waxy scent, from the ingredients used.


On to the products!

ATMOSPHERE LUMINOUS FOUNDATION
A solid, almost balm-like cream in stick form, which offers medium coverage but can be sheered out to light. Less emollient and not quite as easily spreadable than RMS Beauty 'Un' Cover-Up, it is however a very comfortable formula on my dry skin, and I think its more cosmetically elegant lustrous skinlike finish would appeal to a wider range of skintypes than RMS's unctuous...unguent (which even I would reserve for deep winter).
Having tried all my brushes and sponges, I find the heat from fingers really does help to meld this formula into my skin; as a final step, a damp Beautyblender sponge patted all over the face will take off any excess, sheer out the coverage further and blend this into the persnickity invisible-to-me standards to which I hold all bases.

Before&After
Currently main skin concerns are just dullness and unevenness -- both sallow and red tones courtesy of ravages of central heating / bouts of cold. There's a hint of a pimple between my eyebrows which I was carefully cultivating last week, thus delaying this review... but it ended up going away on its own :/ Sorry about that. 
Face bare of makeup but with usual layers of skincare -- any 'glow' you see in this picture would fade within 30 minutes without help from makeup.

One layer of Atmosphere Luminous Foundation 090 smoothed out with fingers evens out my skin and adds enough of a glow that highlighter becomes optional.

After damp Beautyblender bouncing and 5 minutes to 'set', the initial glow settles into a softly lustrous, step-up-from-satin finish, which stays put all day on me without the need for setting, neither fading back into matte dullness nor transferring.

In conclusion: a comfortable, clean, no-frills (or water!) formula which hasn't dried or irritated my skin over a month's use despite the inclusion of silica in the ingredients list. It's the perfect level of coverage to even the skin out without making me look unreasonably polished, which is exactly what I want from a base most days. Alone, this doesn't work concealing magic on skin texture or pores the way excellent Japanese formulations do (can't hold a candle to Shu Uemura's Nobara stick*, for example), but it neither emphasises nor exacerbates any fine lines or flakes, and has become my go-to, everyday foundation, requiring neither priming nor setting.

*too dark and too dry for me for most of the year :(


ILLUSIONIST CONCEALER
This feels like a much more expensive product than the Atmosphere Luminous Foundation (and it is, at 3.3ml for $22 vs 9.63g for $34), but was less successful for me. While feeling more creamily, smoothly blendable than the foundation, and running paler too, it is sheer -- too sheer for blemishes and the wrong tone for my undereye circles.

Before: the pimple by my eyebrow I was cultivating for this review would not cooperate, but anyway... *tiny violins* wearing the Vapour foundation only [see what I mean about no magic on pores? :(] and have waywardly curled lashes. 

After two very heavy layers of concealer -- seriously, this stick would last a month if used this profligately.

Again, a very comfortable texture which doesn't really exacerbate textural issues such as chicken-skin bumps under eyes or dryness at the outer corner. It does however bring out a little extra flake around my healing spot (it is tiny and you may need to click to enlarge :P) without really mitigating the redness. As an undereye concealer, it is too pale -- I prefer to go a shade darker and pinker for better correction and to mimic natural dimension -- and too sheer even to cope with my circles on a good day.

In conclusion: nice texture but far too sheer.


COMPARISON SWATCHES: Foundation and Concealer
foundation swatches Illamasqua Skin Base 02 Laura Mercier Silk Creme Soft Ivory Shu Uemura Nobara stick 584 Vapour Atmosphere Luminous Foundation 090 Vapour Illusionist Concealer 000 Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer SX-01 RMS Beauty 'Un' Cover-Up 11
Illamasqua Skin Base 02
Laura Mercier Silk Creme Soft Ivory
Shu Uemura Nobara stick 584
Vapour Atmosphere Luminous Foundation 090
Vapour Illusionist Concealer 000
Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer SX-01
RMS Beauty 'Un' Cover-Up 11

foundation swatches Graftobian HD Glamour Creme Lady Fair Shu Uemura Nobara stick 584 Vapour Atmosphere Luminous Foundation 090 Becca Compact Concealer Meringue (both sides) Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer SX-02 Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer SX-01 Laura Mercier Silk Creme Soft Ivory
Graftobian HD Glamour Creme Lady Fair
Shu Uemura Nobara stick 584
Vapour Atmosphere Luminous Foundation 090
Becca Compact Concealer Meringue (both sides)
Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer SX-02
Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer SX-01
Laura Mercier Silk Creme Soft Ivory


Apologies for the random, slightly repetitive nature of these -- they were made upon makeupalleyer requests. It shows that these Vapour shades are genuinely pale, landing towards the light end of my personal base wardrobe (the darkest of which, Laura Mercier Soft Ivory, is still a step paler than MAC NC15).


AURA MULTI-USE BLUSH STAIN
An intensely pigmented, blendable, glowy formula (a v. generous 10g for $25) in a perfectly pitched true, bright red. I like my red blush clownish, especially in winter, but it can most definitely be sheered out for a barely-there healthy glow -- its unusual brightness coupled with a lack of pink tones makes Impulse a flattering choice for those of us who naturally blush a fevered cool red, especially in cold air.
Again, despite containing silica, this stain doesn't dry my cheeks out, perhaps because the Vapour base of waxes and oils act as enough of a buffer. Having tested it on some obliging oily-skinned friends, I can report that it lasted without fading all day on them, either. While marketed as multi-use, the texture and oily/nutty/waxy scent made it a bit unpleasant for me to wear on lips.

Swatches are applied with fingers, and semi-blended (not at full opacity, but nor sheered out either); picture in natural sunlight! Remember that?
blush swatches Rouge Bunny Rouge Florita  Jouer Dahlia tint Besame Crimson Cream Rouge Vapour Aura Stain Impulse RMS Beauty lip2cheek Modest Addiction Revenge Cheek Stick
Rouge Bunny Rouge Florita -- the only powder here, and closest to but more muted than Impulse
Jouer Dahlia tint
Besame Crimson Cream Rouge
Vapour Aura Stain Impulse
RMS Beauty lip2cheek Modest
Addiction Revenge Cheek Stick
(more red blush swatches here)

In conclusion: made of win. I'm contemplating the other three shades.


Vaporous Look, ho ho
Inspired by:

How could I resist the impulse to show off these products with this faded out placement?
BASE Atmosphere Luminous Foundation 090, Illusionist Concealer 000. Shu Uemura Seal Brown brow pencil.
BLUSH Aura Stain Impulse
LIP Aura Stain Impulse blended out with Illusionist Concealer 000


swatches Aura Multi-Use Blush Stain in 209 Impulse, Illusionist Concealer in 000 and Atmosphere Luminous Foundation in 090

EYE Shu Uemura M White 907, Fyrinnae Candy Coated as main colour with Purgatory to darken lashline. GOSH white kohl and Max Factor False Lash Effect 24 Hour mascara.