Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Skincare: Dabbling with Decléor

It's been a while since my last skincare update, but the main shape of the routine has stayed consistent. However, this past winter in London has been so particularly bitter -- I think they officially dubbed it the coldest in a hundred years -- that I jumped at the chance to try some products by Decléor, mainly from their iris range, their richest, aimed at mature skin.

The set contains good sizes of a cleansing duo (75ml each) and a skincare trio, consisting of an oil serum (5ml), a rich day cream (15ml) and a night balm (5ml), enough even for a profligate slatherer like me to give them a good whirl over a month, used individually and together as an proper 'routine'.

okay...maybe I didn't think the skincare swatch concept though.... 
The cleansing milk is a light gel-cream, meant to be massaged onto your made-up or otherwise begrimed face, and then wiped off with damp cottons, before application of the toner (basically the texture of rosewater) to remove the last of the residue and prep the face.  Both products are free of alcohol but strongly scented. The cleansing milk actually proved to be very efficient at removing makeup (including waterproof eyeliners and mascaras) -- the equal of Bioderma Crealine -- and more surprisingly still, did not irritate my eyes, even when rubbed (eek) into my lashline. The toner didn't do anything for me used as a separate step (I am a fan of Japanese 'lotions' and expect this step to pull its weight), but I used it (saturating Muji peelable cottons) to remove the cleanser, and it felt posher than tapwater :P


I wouldn't purchase either of these products in future, as my skin can't deal with as much regular physical agitation (wiping) as they require; back to my trusty rinse-off Fancl cleansing oil and pat-on-with-hands Hada Labo lotion.


The Aromessence Iris oil functions as a serum -- a few drops massaged into skin at morning and night before either the Expérience De L'Âge Rich Cream for day or the Aroma Night Balm for, er, night. Together they promise to improve wrinkles, brightness and firmness.
All three items slotted perfectly into my routine, exactly replacing the REN Omega 3 Night Repair oil/serum, Boots Botanics Organic Super Balm, and Honey Girl Organics Sensitive face cream I'd just finished -- these form the base against which I am judging the performance of the Decléor trio.

The Decléor Iris oil felt much thicker and more viscous than the REN omega 3, so I needed far less -- three drops as opposed to two pumps -- and it also sank in more quickly, with zero tackiness or shine, perhaps because its hazelnut and sunflower base is lighter than REN's coconut derivatives and wheat germ. As well as keeping my skin moisturised, plump and soft, I noticed an additional visible tightening/firming effect with the Iris oil -- my pores looked smaller and my face contours (especially around the nasolabial and double chinny bits) generally neater, while  even a sloppy application after a particularly booze- or crisp filled-night seemed to make my skin look a little less puffy in the morning. The Decléor scent, while stronger than REN's, is also infinitely preferable to my nose -- I get mainly lavender and neroli/jasmine.
Aromessence Iris Ingredients

I'm too young to really talk about the efficacy of Expérience de L'Âge Rich Cream as anti-wrinkle cream per se, but it's certainly moisturising enough to ward off the (cosmetic) fine lines that can develop on my extremely dry skin as the day goes on, especially in cold/windy weather. That itself is a tricky if not impossible feat but this Decléor really excels as a day cream-- outperforming the cheaper, more minimal products I'd been using previously (like the Honey Girl Organics cream, or Avène Trixera+) -- in its cosmetic elegance, its surprisingly light texture (for such an effective moisturiser) instantly setting to a polished satin-matte base with subtle skin-evening and texture-blurring effects to rival most makeup primers out there. 
Expérience de L'Âge Rich Cream Ingredients

Cosmetic elegance isn't remotely a factor in night cream for me, and I actively enjoy applying a good glooping of goo (whether an East Asian 'gelly', a moisturising mask, or a rather more elegant balm, like this Aroma Night Iris balm) to seal in the strata of unguents beneath.... The Decléor is less sticky, feels smoother and more refined and melts into the skin with greater ease than my Boots Botanics Organic Face Balm -- it's a few steps closer to a cream than the traditional solid balms represented by Boots (can get grainy in the jar, requires a good bit of warming up between hands before application) -- but these are just peripheral considerations. Neither product is rich enough to keep my skin moisturised throughout the night; both work well in conjunction with other serums and moisturising creams to let me wake up with soft, plump skin.
The Iris balm looks prettier as a midday touchup on any nose-flakes etc. (i.e. more discrete, less like you've just basically run to the loo to oil your schnoz instead of powdering it in a moment of topsyturveydom) but I've rarely felt the need for boosters since using the Decléor rich day cream; overall, the price difference (£3.99 vs £34.50 for 15ml) makes the Decléor balm a definite luxury.

Aroma Night Iris Ingredients

The surprise winner for me was the day cream -- I've already purchased the full size and am happily (rather than just grudgingly) skipping foundation most days (good thing, too, as I'm far too pale for most of my usual bases right now). A purchase of the full-sized Iris Aromessence oil is also on the cards, since I don't seem to be getting such dramatic results from a diy mix of hazelnut and sunflower oils.

The products in this post were provided for review. My comments reflect my true feelings and have not been edited or pre-approved in any way; I am not compensated for any reviews/posts.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Lip Love

As 'tis the holiday of formulaic declarations of affection... my favourite lip formulas, as requested by various folks over the past few weeks.

Lipsticks: Love At First Slick
I narrowed it down to eight (barely) all of which I can wear without balm underneath, and all of which make my very dry, lined, picky lips both look and feel smoother, plumper -- just prettier
From sheerest to most opaque (scent/finish):
Sonia Rykiel Sublime Rouge -- rose-scented / jelly (discontinued) swatches here and here
Lavshuca Dramatic Memory Rouge -- scent-free / cream-jelly (crelly) swatches
Guerlain Rouge Automatique -- candied violet / crelly
Suqqu Blend -- scent-free / glossy cream (discontinued)
Revlon Super Lustrous -- scent-free / cream
Burberry Lip Cover -- rose / cream
Suqqu Creamy Glow -- scent-free / cream swatches
By Terry Rouge Terrybly -- rose / satin

I love them all. 
So I chose one particularly favoured shade from each formula. And did this. For reasons.
Lavshuca RD-1, Sonia Rykiel 24, Burberry Bright Plum Suqqu Blend Maizakura and Creamy Glow 18 Karakurenai By Terry Hot Cranberry, Revlon Fire&Ice, Guerlain Liu
Lavshuca RD-1, Sonia Rykiel 24, Burberry Bright Plum
Suqqu Blend Maizakura and Creamy Glow Karakurenai
By Terry Hot Cranberry, Revlon Fire&Ice, Guerlain Liu

Lavshuca RD-1, Sonia Rykiel 24, Burberry Bright Plum Suqqu Blend Maizakura and Creamy Glow 18 Karakurenai By Terry Hot Cranberry, Revlon Fire&Ice, Guerlain Liu

Common to my favourite formulas: a creamy or balmy feel with good slip, and moisturising properties. There are plenty of formulas out there which have good slip (e.g. Chanel Rouge Coco Shine, Dior Addict, MAC Cremesheen) but which make my lips crack and peel off in sheets and conversely, there are some mattes which are very comfortable for me to wear (e.g. Lancôme Colour Design Matte, Addiction, Guerlain L'Extrait), but my favourites combine both.

On the other hand, lasting power / wear time is something I barely even consider when it comes to lip products. From my favourites, By Terry Rouge Terrybly is an excellent longwearing formula, and Revlon Super Lustrous, Suqqu Creamy Glow, Burberry Lip Cover and Guerlain Rouge Automatique are also reasonably tenacious on me -- but this is really just a nice 'extra'; as an inveterate snacker and sipper, my expectations in this regard are pretty modest. As long as something fades evenly (no dreaded outer lip tidemark or inner sharpie-sucker mouth), I actually quite enjoy seeing/wearing the different colour nuances a single lip shade can display as you build it up and later, as it wears down. I would much rather reapply a nice balmy jelly lipstick every hour than have a film-forming, long-wearing formula whose colour stays bulletproof, albeit in a increasingly hideous (and balm-repelling!) texture as the day goes on.... (e.g. Rouge D'Armani, Lancôme Rouge In Love, almost every lip stain ever)

Opposites Attract why do I love YSL Glossy Stains with a frankly idolatrous love? I am not a stain girl; I am not a gloss girl; I am definitely not an alcohol-in-my-products girl (down my gullet is another matter entirely). I just do. A LOT.
Idiotically, my "best of the year" round-up missed these out twice -- in 2011 because I had just tried my first one in December and was all honeymoony and didn't want to jump the gun and in 2012 because they were technically a 2011 discovery/release. Let the wardrobe testify to my love:
YSL Glossy Stain 1 7 9 11 15 24 27
YSL Glossy Stain 1 7 9 11 15 24 27
YSL Glossy Stain 1 7 9 11 15 24 27
7 is not swatched because it was the 'out' replaced by 27 -- even so, I own more of these than of any other lip product
As well as requiring no touch-ups through a full day and many a drink, snack and hearty meal, I adore the shade range in this line and their glorious lacquered finishes. I am odd and also enjoy the boozy rose scent. They also mix beautifully to create new shades -- more of this in a future post. While they don't dry my lips out over the day (I think due to the no-reapplication-needed thing), a few consecutive days' wear will start to show on my lips with deepening liplines and dryness.

Tender Loving Care
I hope this post has established that people's preferences in formulas vary and very often make no sense, because skincare/makeup hybrids are particularly tricky, and this final section should be hedged by big flashing Your Mileage May Vary lights.
But for me, these are the tinted treatments I reach for when my lips are actually chapped, peeling, bleeding or otherwise leprous, but I feel the need for a bit of warpaint for psychological blanky reasons and not-scaring-the-small-children, if nothing else.Bite Lush Lip Tint RMS Lip Shine Fresh Sugar tinted balm
Bite Lush Lip Tint Cherry Raspberry RMS Lip Shine Sublime Fresh Sugar tinted balm Rose Honey Berry

Fresh Sugar Lip Treatments have been a standby for a decade now -- I've tried every other cheaper substitute on the market and always come crawling back. All three shades I own add a little warmth to correct my naturally corpse-mauve lip tone, and tint them: a clear reddish pink (Rosé), a deeper rose (Berry), and a peachy-pink nude (Honey). They taste like lemon sugar crêpes.
Bite Lush Lip Tints are a relatively new discovery, from a Canadian brand I've become very fond of. Somewhat less moisturising than the Fresh Sugar balms, they pack much more pigment -- more sheer lipstick than tinted balm -- and hug the lips more closely (with less slip). Lightly fruit scented, Cherry is a coral red and Raspberry a rose red, both clear and bright.
RMS Lip Shine in Sublime was the cool, clear shade I was waiting for to try this formula [thanks for the tip, Grace!] and it is a moisturising and subtly lip-plumping gloss without stickiness. The pink, while cool, is a pop-bright, spring-in-your-ponytail kind of cool, which in its own way achieves the enlivening  / de-corpsifying thing I like. Smells/tastes of its ingredients, vaguely waxy.

lip balm swatch Bite Lush Lip Tint Cherry Raspberry RMS Lip Shine Sublime Fresh Sugar tinted balm Rose Honey Berry

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Ford Farewell II: Tom Ford Narcissist Blush

Following on from Part I, another beautiful shade from Tom Ford which failed to win my texturally persnickity heart: Narcissist blush.
Narcissist is a highly pigmented cool-toned hot pink (oh, you know what I mean), with a tightly-packed texture and smooth frost finish. The softness and high fine shimmer content means that it's very easy to overload a brush -- even with the lightest tap of a fluffy brush, a lot of frantic dabbing into clean tissue might be needed before application to cheek -- and also that even the softest squirrel brushes tend to kick up quite a bit of powder...enough that I would end up with shimmery pink elbows after resting my arm on my vanity to finish an eyeliner flick.

Swatch, applied with Suqqu Cheek brush (left) and sponge applicator (right)
Tom Ford Narcissist blush swatch
as always, bare arm / natural light

As mentioned in a previous review, my skin tends to show textures and colours true, and shimmer is usually highly unforgiving on the especially dry, thin skin on my cheeks. In the swatch above, you can see the dry 'skipping' at the edge of the heavy swatch and every pore highlighted in the sheer one, even on my relatively smooth inner arm.

As further illustration, here's Narcissist swatched between Sleek Pink Ice (left, from the Pink Sprint trio) and Suqqu EX-02 Mizumomo (right, deeper pan only).
Tom Ford Narcissist blush swatch Sleek PInk Ice Suqqu EX 02 Mizumomo
All three blushes were applied very lightly and blended out with an Illamasqua Highlighter Brush (ahem, holy grail cream blush brush, two backups are totally reasonable, shush). Sleek Pink Ice (£10 for trio) is a matte, and despite its unprepossessingly dry texture, it like all Sleek blushes is so pigmented that a tiny dab deposits even pigment without worsening the appearance of my skin, if not improving it. Suqqu Mizumomo (£38 for duo, LE), despite being a satin (with almost as much sheen in the pan as Narcissist) actively blurs and flatters any bumpy skin, even when swatched along the tricky veiny/bony bit of my wrist. Narcissist, much like the equally popular Chanel Notorious, makes visible a bazillionty bumps I didn't even know were there. Lurking.

On my cheeks, in real aint pretty. Even my blush-eating camera can pick up on the bumpiness, translating it as blotchiness (and I swear I blended properly), which makes Narcissist exactly the kind of cool pink rash I get from a mild rosacea flare, for free.
Tom Ford Cognac Sable quad, Wet'n'Wild Cherry Bomb lipstick

Yeah, it's out.
But neatly, it's yet another colour family I'm fairly well equipped to comp-swatch ;)
Tom Ford Narcissist blush swatch Sleek Pink Ice Suqqu EX02 Mizumomo Becca Lychee beach tint Addiction Amazing cheek stick
Sleek Pink Ice (from Pink Sprint trio) -- the most pigmented, and coolest of the bunch
Suqqu EX-02 Mizumomo (right pan only) -- cooler than TF, without its warmer shimmer
Tom Ford Narcissist
Becca Lychee Beach Tint -- more candied, lighter
Addiction Amazing Cheek Stick -- tonally closest to Suqqu, but it's a totally different texture, yeah? And doubles as a matte lipstick *hoards*

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Ford Farewell I: Tom Ford True Coral lipstick

Among my presents under the tree last Christmas was this selection of bits from Tom Ford, courtesy of a friend who'd noticed the absence of this brand in my stash the last time she'd come round to play Makeovers(!one!!eleventy!)
Tom Ford Cognac Sable quad, Narcissist blush and True Coral lipstick
And *spoiler alert* they pretty much confirmed my feelings of "meh" towards this line. Since my earlier forays into and farewells to Tom Ford makeup (three other quads, a blush and two lipsticks) predate this whole blogging thing, I thought I'd review these new "outs" as they go. First up: Lip Colour in True Coral.
bit washed out here -- it's really as bright as in the first picture, above
I wasn't a fan of the original Tom Ford lipstick formula, but the new line (of which this is a core shade) sacrificed a little pigment for a much smoother texture, which seemed promising. Sadly, the MAC-like vanilla scent remains. Pigmentation is still on the good side -- not quite full-coverage, but definitely above average -- and the finish is that kind of close-to-lips satin which means good wear-time and even fading.

Unfortunately, being freakishly dry-lipped, long-wearing formulas tend to sink into and highlight every single one of my vertical lip lines. And this is no exception. Freshly applied over lips in tip-top condition (no flakes or chapped areas, freshly exfoliated and prepped with lip balm), True Coral just about passes muster:
Tom Ford True Coral lipstick swatch

However, the desiccation process begins immediately and is visible a bare five minutes later, even at a more normal distance -- check out those crevasses:
Shiseido Jungle trio, Illamasqua Rude cream blush

Looks aside, this lipstick also makes my lips feel dry and after a day's wear, even with regular top-ups of lipbalm, leaves them in slightly worse condition. I seem to be alone (or in a tiny minority) in the blogosphere in experiencing this drying effect, but makeup can just be tricksy like that. Ingredients list for the curious:
Tom Ford lipstick ingredients

The one aspect of True Coral I love unreservedly is, of course, the colour; my Santa knows me well. This also means that parting with it was not such sweet sorrow, as I had these to keep me company....
Tom Ford true coral lipstick swatches Guerlain Rouge G L'Extrait Colere, Revlon Strawberry Suede, Lancome Corset, Chanel Rouge Allure Genial, Hourglass Femme Rouge Muse
Guerlain Rouge G L'Extrait Colère (review/swatch -- note how this matte is more flattering on my lip texture than Tom Ford's satin)
Revlon Strawberry Suede (discontinued)
Lancôme Colour Design Matte Corset
Tom Ford True Coral
Chanel Rouge Allure Génial (discontinued -- see how pink it looks against the others here)
Hourglass Femme Rouge Muse

Tom Ford Lipsticks retail for £36 each in the UK.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Stash Storage: Muji Pill Pots

As a spinoff of the last post, here's a closer look at the Muji pillcases (pack of 7 for £2.25) into which I like to depot lipsticks and the occasional cream blush.
lipstick depots muji pill pot
L to R: Chanel Darling, Illamasqua Betray, Illamasqua Rude, YSL Rose Dahlia, Burberry Bright Plum, Hourglass Muse, Revlon Strawberry Suede, Lancôme Stylista, Lancôme Corset, Guerlain Girly, YSL Le Fuchsia, Revlon Really Red, Revlon In the Red

Mostly for space-saving and convenience when travelling, but also if I dislike the packaging (Guerlain Rouge G, Burberry, Lancôme Colour Design, etc.), if I have a melted/mashed bullet accident, if it's a rainy Thursday.....

I like depotting things, OKAY.

As you can see, I'm a smusher, not a melter -- because lazy, but also because texture fiend, and heat can change the way some textures/pigments sit. Process couldn't be simpler -- wipe down a spatula with some surgical spirit, chop or gouge into your product and smush the harvested cream into your clean, dry pill pot.

I love these Muji pillcases, though they are not quite as aesthetically pleasing as the Japonesque welled palettes favoured by Lisa Eldridge, because each individual pillcase snaps apart, which is far more practical to tote along for touchups for my regular person (not makeup artist) life. The individual closures also feel a little more 'airtight' to me than the large Japonesque covers; in any case, my depots have stayed perfectly creamy for over two years.
You can of course also make your own fun tetrissing many pots together to create pretty colour patterns, or an infinitely* extendable bionic poking stick with which to torment any sentient beings in the vicinity....
*well, I assume so. My record so far is 42 pots. Experiment cut prematurely short due to loud, angry protestations and dire threats issued by pokees.

You may also like to consider application preferences before depotting: as I use a lip brush with all these shades, I don't miss the bullets. But I personally wouldn't bother depotting a Fresh tinted balm, or a Suqqu creamy glow moist. It can be tricky to pick up pigment evenly with a face brush from these small openings, so I'm not sure that I'd continue to depot cream blushes in future.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Givenchy Le Rouge Swatches and 201 Rose Taffetas Comparison

I haven't explored Givenchy much -- the powder products tend to be too dry or crumbly for me, while the lip products wafted such a strong, sickly cough-syrupy scent that it drove all bloggy duties to try ALL the things clean out of my head....
But! They have just launched a new, pigmented, modern demi-matte lipstick formula with a sweet floral scent and a sexy-as-all-get-out black nubbly leather-trimmed bullet. I went, I swatched, I totally came home with one.

Swatches -- one swipe onto bare arm
in weak London winter sun
overcast -- this gives a truer idea of the colour saturation
[I apologise for the goose pimples -- it was below 0 that day and seriously windy.]
For product pics and swatches on a different skintone, see Mostly Sunny.

These lipsticks are extremely smooth and hug the lips in a flattering way, filling in lip lines without that slightly plasticky 'hi, I'm a plumping product' look. For me, they are most similar to the By Terry Rouge Terrybly formula in their satin-matte finishlightweight feel, high pigmentation and slip (silky rather than creamy), and boast impressive lasting power (pristine for at least 6 hours, through drinks, fading to an even stain after a greedy meal). On my extremely dry lips, they do require balm underneath, but I would call them neutral rather than positively drying.


201 Rose Taffetas
I was on the hunt for a warm pink to replace my go-to My Lips But Better lipstick, the long-discontinued Chanel Rouge Allure Darling. Which currently looks like this and therefore will imminently count as "one out":

One in...
....yeah, I may not depot this right away. *strokes packaging*  

With some more of my mid-toned warm pinky things: 
Guerlain Rouge Automatique Chamade
Suqqu Noble Nuance lipstick EX-03 Shumomo (LE Spring 2010)
Chanel Rouge Allure Darling (discontinued)
Chanel Rouge Allure Extrait de Gloss Confidence

One swipe swatches to show different opacities

Built up swatches (2 layers)

Chamade has the strongest rosy-red tones and is noticeably in a different family once on my lips. The other four shades are definitely kissing cousins, though in my defence they look more distinct from each other on my lips than on my arm. Shumomo sits at lighter end, with clear yellow tones [perfect for enlivening my naturally corpse-mauve lips]; Darling and Confidence add a deeper rose and slight brown tones to the mix. Rose Taffetas is balanced between and clearly the most opaque; its demi-matte finish proves surprisingly flattering -- dare I say, 'fresh' and/or 'modern' -- in this kind of tone.

Shamelessly reposting two recent looks:
Givenchy Rose Taffetas

Pretty decent as a replacement for Chanel Darling, I think?

Givenchy "Le Rouge" retail for £24 each and are a permanent addition to the core line.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Coup de Foudre II: Shade / Smoke / Air

Three more recent Guerlain Coup de Foudre looks, which I'm grouping together for reasons because they shift the 'highlight' from inner corner to centre to outer edge in turn.

Apologies for variable lighting.

....which is a slightly forced name for a basic horizontal gradation shading from mint through coral and olive to grey.

Paired with equally no-brainer my-x-but-better warm pinks on cheeks (Illamasqua Katie) and lips (Chanel Rouge Allure Darling, discontinued).
Base: Vapour stick 90 (hair yellow/dark for me right now)
Lashes: Shu Uemura H9 pencil Seal Brown

Basically an inversion of the second look here, with the olive-bronze blended over the lid and a tiny dab of the mint buffed into the very centre. Grey framing the coral below the eye.

As this look brought out the cooler, smokier facets of Coup de Foudre, I went with a correspondingly cooler, rosier lip (Sonia Rykiel Sublime 24) and my natural blotchy cool pink flush XD
Base: Mehron Celebre HD LT-1 to spot-conceal
Brows: Shu Uemura H9 pencil Stone Grey (for this cooler look)

'Airy' is a commonplace in Japanese beauty mag parlance -- one which has thoroughly permeated my makeup aesthetic. It can involve a lot of textural and tonal wank exquisite refinement but I've always found negative space to make for a handy shortcut. Here provided by a Shu Uemura matte white (M907) with grey lightly shading the outer socket and the coral to accent it further. Olive-bronze to line, edged in mint.
sorry for the slightly worn, end-of-the-day, bathroom lighting pic -- couldn't get a focussed pic that morning 

Back to the warm pinks: Givenchy Le Rouge 201 Rose Taffettas (auditioning as replacement for soon-to-be-finished Darling) and Kjaer Weis Lovely cream blush, which is being rapidly depleted too, thanks to its flattering texture and face-brightening magic.
Base: Shu Uemura Stage Performer Instant Glow, Mehron Celebre HD LT-1, RBR Sea of Clouds
Brows: Shu Uemura H9 pencil Seal Brown and Stone Grey.

Blush shot --attempt to photograph the very elusive Lovely, which deserves a glowing review pending my camera's ability to pick up on it :/ Look how glowy!

Throughout: Burberry Sheer Touch 01 concealer under eyes, Max Factor False Lash Effect 24 Hour black mascara.