Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Ford Farewell III: Tom Ford Cognac Sable Eyeshadow Quad

Cognac Sable is actually the fourth Tom Ford quad I've owned. The earlier three (Sahara Haze, Silvered Topaz and Titanium Smoke) were basically cool-toned versions, and based on counter visits, the majority of quads seem to be similar plays on the dry, tightly pressed, silky combinations of shimmer/satin/glitter. The exceptions were two soft 'n' smooth frosts (Enchanted, Cobalt Rush) and the mostly-matte back-to-the-90s Cocoa Mirage.

Specifically, Cognac Sable consists of (colour / finish / pigmentation):
Top left: warm, sandy gold / satin with subtle shimmer / medium
Top right: warm copper / glitter topcoat / sheer
Bottom left: warm, medium chestnut brown / metallic shimmer / pigmented
Bottom right: cool, deep brown with multitonal shimmer / shimmer on a matte base / pigmented

Tom Ford Cognac Sable Eyeshadow Quad palette
natural light, sunny

Swatches are one-swipe with sponge applicators onto bare arm
Tom Ford Cognac Sable Eyeshadow Quad palette swatches
natural light
Tom Ford Cognac Sable Eyeshadow Quad palette swatches
natural light, sunny
Tom Ford Cognac Sable Eyeshadow Quad palette swatches
artificial light + flash, deliberately fuzzy

I think the last picture best illustrates why it took me so much longer to bid Cognac Sable (vs. True Coral or Narcissist) farewell -- I love some multitonal microglitter, especially the hints of cornflower, copper and lime hiding in that darkest cool brown. In general, I found this quad shone most (pun intended) in low, artificial light; in daylight or brighter artificial light, the copper glitter (top right shade) has to pull more than its fair share of the weight in making for the kind of texturally complex neutral look I like.

Some looks as examples:
1. Copper-Heavy
Lightest sandy gold all over lid and lower lashline, medium chestnut brown in outer v, darkest cool brown to line, craploads of copper glitter over all.

Looks pretty in the closeup, and when I go to look at my pretty lids to cheer myself up midday, it's mighty sparkly. Yay. But this much orange on my eyes leads to the same problem I had with Shiseido Fire: what cheek/lip colours to pair with it that will either be interestingly/intentionally clashy or pleasingly harmonious without tipping into that large intermediate zone of vaguely jarring slightly-off ick?
With nothing tonally harmonious to hand, here are the best clashes I managed: a mild version with Tom Ford Narcissist blush and my naturally very cool pink lips (slick of balm):

And a stronger take, with Wet'n'Wild Megalast lipstick in Cherry Bomb:

Yeah.... not ideal, right?

2. Copper-Free
Without the copper glitter, Cognac Sable becomes a versatile backdrop to whatever bold, bright or even subtle lip I feel like, such as BITE High-Pigment Matte Pencil in Tart [some older shades swatched here]:

Darkest brown mixed with chestnut brown on lid and chestnut mixed with sandy gold on lower lashline, both darkened towards outer corner and angled out slightly, outer corner left 'open'.

Unfortunately, I am a demanding kind of wench and this kind of eye is just too much neutral, not enough kick. 

3. Balanced
It actually proved surprisingly tricky for me (aren't neutrals supposed to be no-brainers? jeez) to find just the right way to balance/place the shades in this quad so that I could wear it as a palette and not have it wear me (look 1) or (look 2) make me wonder why I'd bothered when a smudge of brown/gold crayon would've sufficed :P
This ended up my favourite combination, and is further proof that red lipstick (Dolec&Gabbana Attractive Monica) makes everything better. Blush is Dolce&Gabbana Nude.

Lightest sandy gold mixed with darkest cool brown over the and lower lashline, warm chestnut mixed with the sandy gold to softly shade edges into socket, copper glitter dabbed into the centre of the mobile lid and lower lashline.

This is my kind of neutrals with a kick look. It partners a strong lip rather than just milksoppily not-competing (gor forbid, she's wearing too much makeup, painted jezebel etc.) However, loving it also means I have no shortage of such variously kicky neutrals....

Comparison Swatches
Top left sandy gold with Rouge Bunny Rouge Sleeping Undeneath a Mandarin Tree pigment and Angelic Cockatiels eyeshadow; the orange (top right) from Suqqu Komorebi; the rosy brown (mid right) from Shu Uemura Prestigious Bordeaux.

Top right copper glitter with Shu Uemura G Orange 251 (god I love this, btw) and the gold glitter (bottom left) from Prestigious Bordeaux; RMK Ingenious Powder Eyes SH-01 Shiny Brown Gold; Chanel Vision Illusion D'Ombre.

Bottom left chestnut brown with Kiko eyeshadow sticks in 06 Golden Brown and 04 Golden Chocolate [these look so much cooler-toned next to Cognac Sable vs. earlier swatches here]; the bronze (top right) silk smooth pan from Shu Uemura Prestigious Bordeaux; the warm bronze (top right) from Suqqu 03 Matsukasa and cooler bronze (top right) from Suqqu 01 Kakitsubata.

Bottom right dark cool brown with Rouge Bunny Rouge Blackpepper Jay; the darkest (bottom left) matte brown from Suqqu 03 Matsukasa; the cool taupe (starred) from KATE Deep Trap Eyes GY-1; the medium neutral taupe from Maquillage Alexander Wang BR 365.

Even one by one, three of Cognac Sable's shades have a lot more (specifically orange) warmth than the rest of my stable of warmer neutrals. In combination, this pulls the palette far, far warmer than my other brown options, which is why I find it so tricky to pair with the lip/cheek options in my wardrobe.
With Visee Smacky Glam BR-7 Bitter Brown; Suqqu 03 Matsukasa; Maquillage Alexander Wang BR 365.

So this isn't really a truly negative review; while True Coral and Narcissist just didn't work on me, Cognac Sable kind of does, or at least can -- I just happen to own other products I prefer, both tonally and texturally. My personal rule is that I need to be able to pull at least three distinct looks from each palette worn as a palette, to go with lip/cheek shades I already own -- obviously individual shades can then be picked'n'mixed with anything else but them's the ground rules for anything that stays in. This one just requires too much work for too little reward -- it's out.

Tom Ford quads retail for £62 each in the UK.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Field Swatches and Reviewlet: By Terry Hyaluronic Sheer Rouge

As you may remember, By Terry's Rouge Terrybly ranks high among my favourite lipsticks. So I was very excited to try their new Hyaluronic Sheer Rouge line for spring -- sheer, moisturising tinted "hydra-balms" -- retailing at £24 for 3g.

Unfortunately, these proved to be a severe disappointment.
The copy promises:
A hyaluronic acid melt-in lipstick balm that moisturizes, fills in wrinkles and fine lines, boots volume, smoothes and protects the lips in a “plumping glossy” colored veil.

What I got (over three shades on three separate days of testing):
Absolutely no textural improvement in smoothing or plumping and a very minimal moisturising effect that wore off after an hour, leaving lips crying out for (a real) balm.
These are also the sheerest sheers I've ever tried -- we're talking less pigment than Fresh balms -- and requires layering to show up at all, let alone true to tube. Which becomes even more unfortunate when you factor in the very high-slip texture, which makes even a light layer prone to migrate, and which makes layering at all an unappealing proposition, as the shades get cloudier, patchier, and more gloopy-slippery with each additional coat.
Erm...I have no complaints about the packaging (slim silver twist-up tube) or the scent (very, very faint tearose)? I like the absence of shimmer?

FIVE swipes each, with one swipe swatches of 1 and 10 at the end of the second row. My arm is about N5, for extrapolation purposes :P
By Terry Hyaluronic Sheer Rouge lipstick swatches 1 Nudissimo 2 Mango Tango 3 Baby Bloom 4 Princess in Rose 5 Dragon Pink 6 Party Girl 7 Bang Bang 8 Hot Spot 9 Dare to Bare 10 Berry Boom
the patchiness of pigment-distribution is especially clear in the bolder shades 5-10 
By Terry Hyaluronic Sheer Rouge lipstick swatches 1 Nudissimo 2 Mango Tango 3 Baby Bloom 4 Princess in Rose 5 Dragon Pink 6 Party Girl 7 Bang Bang 8 Hot Spot 9 Dare to Bare 10 Berry Boom

1 Nudissimo
2 Mango Tango
3 Baby Bloom
4 Princess in Rose
5 Dragon Pink
6 Party Girl
7 Bang Bang
8 Hot Spot
9 Dare to Bare
10 Berry Boom

A closer look at one layer of 1 Nudissimo and 10 Berry Boom -- doing nada for the skin texture on my inner wrist, which is a lot less gnarly than that of my lips

As always, your mileage may vary, but these had been garnering such positive reviews online that I was extra surprised/disappointed upon testing them; definitely a Try Before You Buy. I'd also strongly advise those living in a warm climate to check your local testers carefully -- these seem prone to melting/liquefying messily in a bag/car.

For a dissenting rave review, check out Lola's Secret Beauty Blog, which also includes product pics and an ingredients list [which, btw, shows how low down hyaluronic acid sits :P In contrast to the standard waxes and cones, and the dessicant silica -- not uncommon for By Terry 'Hyaluronic' products in my expereience, especially their god-awful, extremely drying Hyaluronic Hydra-Powder.]

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Pixi Endless Silky Eye Pen Looks: Black Tulip and True Teal

As established, these Endless Silky Eye Pencils are yum.

Here are my two well-loved shades, 03 Black Tulip and 06 True Teal, in action. Usual variable lighting disclaimers apply -- the weather has been seriously mad here, and I avoid flash because it distorts things too badly.

1. True Teal Split Wing
Chanel Abstraction Illusion D'Ombre over the lid and lower lashline, Pixi True Teal to line upper lashline and Tarina Tarantino Amethyst Android Hyperliner to half-mirror it below.
Lips: Fresh Sugar Rosé

2. True(r) Teal Look With Black Tulip To Boot
True Teal blended over the centre of the lid, Black Tulip wing, and the turquoise from Shu Uemura Smoky Velvet (Euro/Asia version) as inner lid highlight.
Lips: Chanel Confidence Extrait de Gloss | Cheeks: Ladurée Cream Cheek Base 102
Base: Vapour stick 90 mixed with Suki lavender CC cream

3. Black Tulip Smudgy Half-Cut Crease
Pretty self explanatory: Black Tulip winged out then feathered back in, to another Chanel Abstraction Illusion D'Ombre base. 

More eyespam, because I was going to capture the sparkles in Black Tulip that coordinated so nicely with the peachy coppery corally Abstraction:
okay, fine, flash pic. I hope you can see it now.
Lips: Korres Natural Purple cherry oil gloss, blotted down | Cheeks: Ladurée Cream Cheek Base 102 

Constants: Shu Uemura H9 brow pencil Seal Brown, GOSH white eye kohl on lower waterline, Burberry Sheer Concealer 01 under eyes, Mehron LT-1 to spot conceal, Rouge Bunny Rouge Sea of Clouds as highlighter.

Actually, it took this post for me to realise that I've been on a bit of a wing kick of late. Oops. At least it shows how beautifully these Pixi pencils work for precision/boldness in addition to (as their creaminess suggests) smudgy cream-eyeshadow-ness or hazy kohliness. Maybe I'll post some more varied shapes using these babies in future. With less 'ness'.:P

Even on my extremely dry lids, I get about a half a minute to work with these before they set, which is enough for pretty much any shape or placement; once set, they stay pristine without fading, flaking/shedding shimmer, smudging, or losing precision through an entire day and evening beyond (the last look I wore from 8am to midnight). I can't recommend them highly enough.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Pixi Endless Silky Eye Pen Swatches

I'm just going to say it: Pixi Endless Silky Eye Pens (actually pencils) are the closest 'dupes' I've found to my beloved and eye-wateringly expensive THREE Flash Performance liners (drivel).

At £11 each, they still aren't cheap, but I am willing to pay a bit of a premium for such a divine texture -- describing them as gel-liquids in pencil form feels slightly inadequate, because they rival the THREE liners in sheer unctuous glide *lapses into uncontrollable drooling*

They also equal THREE in pigmentation and lasting power both on lids and waterline; for me they only lose out in relative lack of complexity and unique shades.

Like the THREE liners, they are extremely soft, so extra care when un/re-capping and sharpening is needed to avoid smushing and waste.

Swatches on bare skin, pictures taken in natural sunlight.
I focussed on each row of swatches in turn, which are labelled.
Pixi Endless Silky Eye Pen eyeliner Swatches Black Noir, Black Blue, Black Tulip
Pixi Endless Silky Eye Pen eyeliner Swatches Black Cocoa, Deep Plum, True Teal, Cafe Gold
Pixi Endless Silky Eye Pen eyeliner Swatches Sage Gold, Oyster Glow, Copper Glow, Straight On Til Morning

Some of the shades are smooth, with an intensely glossy sheen: Black Noir, Black Blue, Black Cocoa, Oyster Glow.

Another step up the shimmer scale, with fine microshimmer scattered throughout the glossy base: Black Plum (browned purple base with coppery and plum shimmer), Black Tulip (blackened purple base with royal purple, gold and red sparkle), True Teal (tonal sparkle) and Copper Glow (rich burgundy base with copper and gold shimmer).

Sage Gold and Café Gold are filled with a higher concentration of larger gold glitter pieces.

(SOTM stands for Straight On Till Morning (sic :P), a separate range of (drier) glitter liners which had wandered onto the Endless Silky display -- this shade is 2nd Star Twinkle, with a more yellowed than Sage Gold, and with cooler green and gold glitter.

Here's a closer look at the finishes of the two shades I own, drawn on in one motion and unlayered -- check out the consistent intensity and smoothness.
Black Tulip
Pixi Endless Silky Eye Pen Swatches Black Tulip eyeliner

True Teal
Pixi Endless Silky Eye Pen Swatches True Teal eyeliner

To see see how they perform on the eye, click through for a few looks with both liners.

Those in the UK can buy Pixi from their own site, Boots or a variety of other places. In the US, the brand is sold at Target as well as from their US webstore.

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.