Saturday, 9 March 2013

Suqqu EX-12 Hisuidama Review, Swatch and Comparison

For me, Blend Eyeshadow quad EX-12 Hisuidama (翡翠珠, jade pearlis the standout product of Suqqu's tenth anniversary "Vintage Pearl" spring collection. As with all Suqqu products, the EX- prefix indicates 'limited edition'; like the core quads, this retails for £45 in the UK.

For this collection, Suqqu has changed to frosted iridescent white casing and debuted a new pearlescent eyeshadow formula and I am a huge fan of both, because no fingerprints woot! and the new formula feels incredible, respectively. It differs from the dry, tightly-packed silk of the core quads 01-06, from the gossamer sparkle of 07/08 and from the denser, molten-creamy feel of the later metallics in quads 09 onwards; instead it is silk so smoothed and lustrous it feels almost literally fluid -- weightlessly liquid, like a dry-oil.
angled to suggest the cases' iridescence
All three spring quads: EX-11 Sumiredama, EX-12 Hisuidama, EX-13 Ginsudama

While all three quads feature the same new eyeshadow texture/formula (feel) they differ in terms of finish and pigmentation (looks). Which is why it isn't EX-11 Sumiredama (which has been making the biggest waves online) but EX-12 Hisuidama which has my heart. [More specific drivel about Sumiredama will follow in its own review post. While also shown here, I did not acquire EX-13 Ginsudama for myself -- a friend let me photograph hers.] Admittedly, skintone is a factor -- Hisuidama is likelier to please the paler/cooler, just as Ginsudama the warmer/darker, while Sumiredama is balanced in between.

Closer Look

angled to capture the duochrome/reflects
*Top left: icy blue-white pearlescent duochrome with tonal sparkle, pigmented
*Top right: soft sage shimmer with rose-gold reflect, pigmented
*Bottom left: cool brown satin base with subtle green duochrome and blue, green and pink microshimmer, pigmented
Bottom right: cool cherry-blossom pink matte base with sparse silver sparkle, medium pigmentation

The three starred shades are duochromes, but in a subtle way, much less pronounced than the blue shift in the taupe and purple shades of EX-11 Sumiredama. But what what I find uniquely interesting is this quad is the shift in opacity which makes all four shades look alternately icy (transparent) and soft (milky) in different lighting or at different angles; just like jade, in fact. In my opinion it's not the green shade Hisuidama/Jade Pearl is named for, but this cloudy/jewelled aspect of all four colours.
I'll let the menny menny pictures which follow illustrate this -- if you have a neater way of explaining it, please leave me a comment!

One swipe with the included sponge applicators onto bare arm, various spammy angles because I couldn't capture the flashes/textures of all four stripes at once :/
natural light, overcast
angled, sunny
even more angled, still sunny
dark + flash, deliberately fuzzy
I still wasn't happy with how the brown shade photographed -- its green duochrome flash is subtle, but definitely there, and distinct from the flashes from its pink, blue and green shimmer -- so took some more pics -- can you see the base flashing green at the very centre of the swatch?

Mixed Swatches
Suqqu textures have traditionally been a joy to layer and mix, and it's something I've really missed doing with the denser textures and more uniform finishes of the more recent palettes (09 onwards -- none of which I've liked enough to keep :P). So I'm thrilled that the lightweight dry-oil feel of these quads again make mixing an unadulterated pleasaure -- Hisuidama in particular, with its four distinct finishes (vs four pearlescents in Sumiredama), is a dream to layer.
I've only done basic two-shade mixes, but you can absolutely meld all four shades together with a visible increase in complexity each time and zero muddiness. As the individual swatches showed, each of these shades already contain microshimmer that echoes another shade or two in the quad, so in effect you're just amping up a particular flash whose potential was already there.
different angle to show the duochrome/flash effect of layering these

Palette Comparisons
Does it surprise anyone that I have a weakness for springy icecreamy combinations? The most comparable ready-made palettes in my stash are THREE 4D Eyeshadow Palette 06 Tranquil Oasis and Sonia Rykiel Quatre Eyeshadow 10 [also swatched here].

Drab lighting aside, Hisuidama is noticeably softer, both tonally and texturally. THREE Tranquil Oasis isn't really photographing as clearly as I'd like, but it mixes two glitter topcoats (top left and bottom right), a pigmented metallic cream (top right) and a sage green satin with pink glitter (bottom left) -- as if the top right sage green in Hisuidama with its warm pink flash had the contrast turned way up.

The Suqqu palettes I own which overlap with Hisuidama are 07 Komorebi (brown/green), 08 Mizuaoi (pink/blue), and 02 Koedama (sage green).

Skipping the bottom right primer shade in these, I swatched them next to Hisuidama on the gloomiest day ever (sorry.)

Individual Comparisons
Top left blue-white with the blue (top right) from Suqqu 08 Mizuaoi, Addiction Ice Storm, the blue (bottom right) from Sonia Rykiel 09, the blue glitter (bottom right) from THREE 06 Tranquil Oasis, Shu Uemura P 610 (first gen, disc.)

Top right sage green with Rouge Bunny Rouge Periwinkle Cardinal, the top two shades from Suqqu 02 Kokedama (individually and mixed together), the starred shades from KATE Deep Trap Eyes GR-1, Kiko Super Color Eyeliner 113 Olive Green and Addiction Eye Lacquer WP Swimming Pool.
Yes, I may have a bit of an addiction to sage green shadows.... but hey, no real dupes! The closest I can get is from mixing the top two shades of Kokedama, which is coincidentally the 'out' that allows Hisuidama in.

Bottom left cool brown with Suqqu single EX-22 Nibidama (disc.), Rouge Bunny Rouge Eclipse Eagle and Blackpepper Jay. Hisuidama's brown has a noticeably unique green flash in comparison to the more usual purple- or grey-tinged cool browns.

Bottom right pink with Shiseido PK305 Peony, Shu Uemura G135 and ME126 (both current Colour Atelier shades), the pink (top left) from Suqqu EX-05 Usumomokurumi (LE Christmas 2011)pink (bottom left) from EST Emotional Aura Eyes 03 (disc.), pink (bottom left) from Sonia Rykiel 10, and Rouge Bunny Rouge Capricious Nightingale.
Hisuidama's pink fills the satin-pastel niche in my pink collection, perfect for the 'modern '60s' trend bandwagon I'm currently hitching a ride on.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

World Book Day 2013

So.... I don't seem to have kept my pledge to blog more books....

But my intentions, they were so very intent! I took pics and highlighted quotes in preparation and all. ....and shall continue to pretend that I will eventually work those up into future blogposts. So in the meantime, some short notes about shorts:

i.e. recent short story kick:
Richard Adams, The Iron Wolf -- retellings of various folk 'n' fairytales from various traditions, that really flag up the meta telling process bit. Which can be a bit jarring when the (usually fairly arch and consciously old-fashioned) narratorial tone clashes with the kind of story that needs more ingenuity to sell. One story features a spectacularly bad mockney narrator. I was doomed to disappointment anyway, having so much of Watership Down (especially the El-ahrairah myths) by heart.
Diana Athill, Midsummer Night in the Workhouse --my first fictional Athill and definitely not my last. Uneven like all short story collections, but her prose is gorgeously limpid and unpretentious and her insights no less pointed for being gentle.
Sarah Hall, The Beautiful Indifference -- pretty much maintained my 50:50 experience with SH's novels. Half the stories left me cold (like The Electric Michaelangelo), the other half (including the title story) is still haunting me (like The Carhullan Army); she is never boring.
Stella Gibbons, Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm -- like pretty much every non-Cold Comfort Gibbons I've read, fun and readable enough but fairly forgettable. The title story is of course the highlight, and it's got a few genuinely LOL gems -- truer to the spirit than Conference at Cold Comfort Farm, at any rate [which I also quite enjoyed, unlike the majority of the fandom :P]
Edith Wharton, Roman Fever and Other Stories -- I love Wharton and shorts show off her strengths (stings) to best advantage.
Giles Gordon and David Hughes ed., The Minerva Book of Short Stories I and Angela Carter ed., Wayward Girls and Wicked Women both collect stories from women writers. I much preferred Angela Carter's collection, dancing around the ideas of feminine subversion from about a hundred years mid C19th-mid C20th. There are a range of styles and genres but my favourite stories were all on the witchier/fabulist side: AC's own 'The Loves of Lady Purple', Leonora Carrington's 'The Debutante', Suniti Najimoshi's 'Three Feminist Fables' and Djuna Barnes' 'The Earth'. [Also, go check out Barnes' Book of Repulsive Women if unfamiliar :D]

More shorts, a play and some poems
Robin Robertson, The Wrecking Light -- technically brilliant and conceptually meaty but a bit relentlessly austere like so much good modern poetry. Any recommendations?
Richard Bean, England People Very Nice -- revisiting a play I barely sat through a few years back. Turns out? Still dreck.
Good Evening Mrs Craven, The Wartime Stories of Mollie Panter Downes -- I can't help liking MPD despite her oh so cushy middle class cosiness. These were nice; her journalism offers a bit more kick.
Katherine Mansfield, The Garden Party and Other Stories -- more kick still, and overall my favourite of all these collections. Read it online here.

Longer but still short stories
Muriel Spark, The Ballad of Peckham Rye -- predictably snide but surprisingly unmalicious for Spark. Also not terribly funny -- maybe her kind of wit needs that spark of cruelty to work.
Julia Strachey, Cheerful Weather for the Wedding -- one of those slight but HIGHLY PORTENSHUS volumes that reinforce all my emperor's new clothes biases about literary fiction.

Random Recommendation
Firebrand, by Ankaret Wells is a frivolous romp of an adventure-romance (with airships!), set in the Brontë's deliciously lurid fantasyland of Angria. Like Wells' earlier science fantasies (Requite series), its clever, knowing games with gender and genre leave this geeky feminist at least with a helpless, utterly charmed grin on my face.... 
Buy it with 20% off from lulu with code SPARK until March 8th or from amazon (.com or

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Ford Hello! Tom Ford 13 Eye Shadow Blend Brush Review and Comparison

After two rants and a ramble (my entry for longest-winded meh review in the history of beauty blogging), an all-out rave!

Tom Ford 13 Eye Shadow Blend Brush

I bought Tom Ford's #13 Eyeshadow Blend Brush (£42) during the Look Good Feel Better event at Harvey Nichols last November, and it's shown up in my end of the week "to be washed" brush pile every week since then. Because it is the perfect blender brush. End of.

Okay, not really....of course I'm going to drivel on a bit lot more.

Firstly, I bought this because I noticed a distinct gap in my brush collection -- a good selection of small blenders and a sufficiency of large ones (considering how small my eyes are), and one lonely Suqqu Eyeshadow M brush in between -- which is so dense it is really more of a laydown-brush-that-doesn't-leave-harsh-edges than a blender per se....
eyeshadow brushes comparison Small: NARS #12, Kevyn Aucoin Small Round-Tip Eyeshadow Brush, Suqqu Eyeshadow S, Chikuhodo Artist Red 10-1 Medium: Suqqu Eyeshadow M Large: Suqqu Eyeshadow L, Stila #9
fun with font sizes
Small: NARS #12, Kevyn Aucoin Small Round-Tip Eyeshadow Brush, Suqqu Eyeshadow S, Chikuhodo Artist Red 10-1
Medium: Suqqu Eyeshadow M
Large: Suqqu Eyeshadow L, Stila #9 (old, blue squirrel version)

Besides, what to do when I want to blend out what I've laid down with another colour? Or if I need a totally clean brush to grade out a bold/bright shade or to pull out the pigment into a different shape?

Before acquiring the Tom Ford #13, I would reach for one of my selection of medium-sized brushes which are often marketed as 'blenders' but which I actually find better suited to other jobs:
Concealer: Illamasqua Blending Brush 1, MAC 286, Real Techniques Base Shadow Brush (from the Starter Set)
Cream/Liquid Eyeshadow: MAC 217
Laydown/Stronger Crease: Suqqu M
Outer V/Softer Crease: Hakuhodo G515
All of these work just about adequately for blending, but none of them particularly excels. (From MAC, the 224 is a better blending brush than the 217 in terms of density/shape, but it's far too scratchy for my tastes.)

After much pleasurable research, in search of the ideal combination of fluff and bounce in a tapered head and round ferrule, I asked some US friends to help me acquire the Paula Dorf Perfect Sheer Crease Brush (top, $30) and Trish McEvoy #29 Tapered Blending Brush (bottom, $32) against which to pit the Tom Ford #13 (middle).
Paula Dorf Perfect Sheer Crease Brush,  Trish McEvoy #29 Tapered Blending Brush, Tom Ford 13 Eye Shadow Blend Brush comparison

This turned out to be a contest between the Paula Dorf and Tom Ford offerings, as I found the Trish McEvoy #29 hairs too coarse (patchy eyeshadow appearance sadface) and scratchy (actual physical pain rly dnw) to be usable -- my guess is that it is made from horse hair, as the components of their brushes are apparently shrouded in multiple-attempts-to-contact-the-company-failed mystery :P Tom Ford #13 and Paula Dorf Sheer Crease are both goat hair brushes.

These go neatly from the least tapered (Paula Dorf) to most (Trish McEvoy); notice also how 'contained' and tight the hairs on the Tom Ford brush look in comparison to those on the others, despite its longer head; all three brushes have round ferrules which are pretty similar in size, which also flags up this difference -- the Tom Ford brush has about twice the number of hairs as the Trish McEvoy one packed into the same space.
Paula Dorf Perfect Sheer Crease Brush,  Trish McEvoy #29 Tapered Blending Brush, Tom Ford 13 Eye Shadow Blend Brush

The greater density of the Tom Ford brush is even clearer at a head-on angle -- not only does it contain more hairs, but the hairs are more uniform in length -- most of the brush's core hairs are the full length, and there is gentle tapering only at the very outer ring. This also means that the Tom Ford brush keeps its shape better (the hairs 'support' each other) and offers better resistance.
Paula Dorf Perfect Sheer Crease Brush,  Trish McEvoy #29 Tapered Blending Brush, Tom Ford 13 Eye Shadow Blend Brush

This greater density and resistance adds up to more versatility, and that is why I prefer the Tom Ford over the Paula Dorf (though I'm also very glad to have the latter too). The Paula Dorf Sheer Crease, while equally soft, really only works to soften harsh edges and sheer out pigment -- those traditional 'blending' tasks. The Tom Ford Blend Brush can do these things too, but it also moves pigment around more efficiently (without creating uneven patches or 'skip' marks) -- literally making eyeshadow go further -- enabling me to make many more shapes. [For examples, compare the looks I've posted from November 2012 onwards with the earlier ones -- more variety in blended shapes, no?]

As always, your priorities may vary. I think many would prefer the Paula Dorf brush -- those with a tendency to heavy handedness or those who just prefer soft looks, those who often experience problems with overblending into invisibility or muddiness.... The Sheer Crease brush makes it a snap to create a very polished 'well-blended' look with a few traditional windshield wiper motions. The Tom Ford Blend Brush requires a lighter hand, and a bit more experimentation with which edge of the brush you use, and at what angle; it can be more versatile, but it also requires more work.

Pics to supplement the THOUSANDS OF WORDS, anyone? Adding the Suqqu Eyeshadow M brush and MAC 217 to the mix. Swatch subject is Fyrinnae Daemon's Tail pressed eyeshadow, which I chose precisely because it tends to go annoyingly patchy upon blending.
Paula Dorf Perfect Sheer Crease Brush,  Trish McEvoy #29 Tapered Blending Brush, Tom Ford 13 Eye Shadow Blend Brush, MAC 217, Suqqu Eyeshadow M brush comparison

One dab with the tip, held at at 90º to skin:
Notice how even the Tom Ford circle's edges are -- almost rivalling Suqqu's, albeit softer and less dense. Paula Dorf's brush tip has a smaller circumference and softer edges still, while MAC's is similar, although in oval. Trish McEvoy's is the smallest, sheerest and least even circle.

Pigment packed onto brushes then swept on twice, back and forth:
Paula Dorf Perfect Sheer Crease Brush,  Trish McEvoy #29 Tapered Blending Brush, Tom Ford 13 Eye Shadow Blend Brush, MAC 217, Suqqu Eyeshadow M brush comparison
Suqqu M's perfection as laydown brush should be clear from this -- intense pigmentation, evenly distributed, no harsh edges.
The Tom Ford almost rivals it [though comparing grey squirrel with goat is highly unscientific :P], showing a little patchiness in the middle of the swatch and looking a little wobbly on the edges; it is testament to this brush's impressive control and smooth distribution of pigment, even for a problematic formula, despite its longer hair length.
When I use the MAC 217 for creams I employ circular patting and buffing motions, rather than this kind of sweeping -- this lacklustre swatch shows why it fails for me as blender.
Paula Dorf Sheer Crease's softness and more diffuse hair makes it impractical as a laydown/wash brush, but the soft-yet-even edges of this stripe (sheerer but less wobbly than Tom Ford's) suggest how well it works as a pure blender.
Oy, Trish. I'll let the shameful swatch speak for itself.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Winter Warmer: Soondubu Jigae

Soondubu Jigae, or Korean spicy tofu stew, is a definite comfort food staple of mine. I've tried out and made tweaks to half a dozen recipes over this particularly miserable winter (still ongoing, by the way, despite it being March already -- come on, sun) and am ready to declare this version my personal favourite. Since working out the kinks, we now eat this so often I could actually justify buying the traditional black clay pots, but you really don't need to; it tastes just as good in a regular soup bowl :)

Soondubu Jigae recipe (serves 2). Adapted from JinJoo's at Kimchimari.

Okay, please don't close the tab in horror at this point :P I promise most of these aren't particularly esoteric -- I only bring 3 things with me (starred) when I plan to make this at friends' homes, as they usually have the other stuff or easy substitutes to hand (admittedly my friends all seem to be pigs foodies).

  1. Sunflower oil
  2. Mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine -- you can use a sweet sherry or sake + sugar)
  3. Soy Sauce
  4. Oyster Sauce
  5. Fish Sauce (I just use the Thai stuff)
  6. *Korean Soy Sauce for Soup (guk kanjang -- you can use regular soy sauce)
  7. *Salted Preserved Shrimp (saeujeot -- try other Asian shrimp pastes)
  8. Sesame oil
  9. *Korean red chili flakes (gochugaru -- not the same as the 'normal' chili flakes found in supermarkets + in pizza restaurants etc. I really recommend you track this stuff or the powdered or paste versions down -- many Asian shops sell it, not just Korean ones.)
  10. Demerara Sugar (I like the extra mellowness this gives vs. white; any mild brown sugar will do.)
Unlabelled because how patronising: salt & pepper, 1 pack extra soft tofu, spring onion, garlic.
Unpictured because my countertop is small: kombu seaweed, random veg (I usually use courgettes, okra, shiitake/oyster mushrooms -- chestnut in a pinch, maybe a tomato if it's looking dodgy), eggs. Fresh clams are also nice to include if you have any.
Serve with: cooked stickyish short grain rice, kimchi and other banchan if you can be arsed.

For the soup base, mix together:
1 Tbsp  Korean red chili powder (gochugaru) or powder/paste
1/2 tsp oyster sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp mirin
1 crushed garlic clove
1/4 tsp brown sugar
good pinches of salt pepper to taste

Heat a mix of sunflower oil and sesame oil (about 1 Tbsp total; I usually do half and half) in a small saucepan and add the sauce mix. Cook over gentle heat (just enough that it sizzles gently), stirring regularly, for about 3 minutes until amalgamated into a thickish sauce.

Set sauce aside to cool a bit, then add:
1/4 tsp preserved shrimp (saeujeot)
1/2 tsp Korean soy sauce for soup (guk kanjang)
1/2 tsp fish sauce
And mix again.

Make the stock:
Pour about 500 ml cold water into your soup pot (earthenware or otherwise), add a piece of dried kombu seaweed (about the size of your palm) and 1/2 tsp salt. Throw in whatever veg you're using (chopped fairly small: mushrooms and okra finely sliced, courgettes diced into smaller than 1cm cubes etc.), bring everything to a gentle simmer for about 10-15 minutes until veg are pretty much cooked through.
Fish out the kombu piece and discard.

Stewing [sorry, no pics for this stage; my lens kept fogging over XD]
Add your sauce to the pot and stir to mix evenly into the stock and give it a quick taste, adjust seasoning if necessary -- it should be quite salty because you have yet to add:
The tofu: break it into a few large pieces by hand (I usually just halve it, quite honestly :P) and lower gently into pot (earthenware or otherwise). If there isn't enough liquid to cover the tofu, add a little more water.
Bring everything to the boil again, then turn the heat to low and simmer gently for about 10 minutes. [If you're using clams, they should probably go in during this period -- you want them to be just cooked by the end.]
Bring the stew back up to the boil and crack in two eggs -- let poach for a few minutes, to taste (I like my yolks very creamy). Chop up a spring onion into fine slivers and throw in at the last minute.

Dish up, trying not to break up your eggs/tofu too much if scooping from a separate pot. Serve while still bubbling in vaguely primordial fashion.

Up to you whether you prefer to dip spoonfuls of rice into the bubbling stew, likely sacrificing a few morsels to the ooze, or if like me, you prefer to use your spoon to fish out meltingly soft pieces of okra and cut into the wobbly tofu, transferring everything, along with boiling spicy gravy, back to the safety of your rice bowl, thence to pick up some grains :)

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.