April 27, 2011

The best purchase I made in this whole trip

If you love to read books, this is something you need to know.

I have bought some lovely gifts for myself during this trip to New York City and Fort Lauderdale, but the item that ranks the best would be....

YES! Isn't it exciting?! Even though I'm a beauty junkie, I've become a bookaholic as well. Thanks to my dear friend, Ruby, who got me back into reading a marathon of books since September last year, I've started to read alot of books during my spare time. Hmm... and you thought all I did was think about makeup. 99% brains are on makeup, and 1% on books. lol!

It's quite simple really...

This little gadget weighs no more than 8.5 ounces, lighter than your traditional paperback books. The 6-inch image display spanning horizontally, and non-glaring screen makes you feel like you're reading something printed on actual paper. Everyone I've met have always said that they prefer the traditional books, and I used to believe that as well, until you are confronted with relocation. Imagine the relocation costs involved in shipping 100 books, not to mention the shelf capacity you need to also consider.

Now, I can simply browse online anywhere at anytime on Amazon.com and select any New York Times Bestsellers for a fraction of the price. Storing up to 3500 books makes things too easy. And not only that, you can read your periodicals, newspapers and magazines all in one gadget. Purchases of ebooks on Amazon is open to international customers.

Note: I forgot to remove the plastic sheet that covers my kindle...

Then the next question is... It's like an ipad, isn't it? Not exactly. There is an incredibly limited selection of ibooks, and I'm waiting for the time where ibooks will be competing on the same ranks as itunes. The screen has a glare, which makes it somewhat difficult to read a book continuously on an LCD screen. Plus, the weight alone on an ipad is a fairly heavy. Anyway, I find that I leave my ipad at home most of the time.

Target has just received their stocks of the Kindle for only $114, which includes screensavers with sponsored advertisements when you're not reading. If this bothers you, you can also get the traditional Kindle for $139 or the Kindle 3G for $189. But honestly, you're better off buying the $114 so you can use that extra cash to purchase your ebooks.

I will be doing a review of this toy soon, when everything is up and running. :-)

Purchase yours from Amazon online or Target in stores.

April 23, 2011

New York is a City of Dreams

I touched down in New York today at 5pm at Newark International Airport. I've never been to NYC before, so you can imagine how jittery I was. But I arrived safely, using the NJ Transit railway that took me from the Newark station to New York Penn Station.

I am staying at the Aloft Harlem Hotel that is located at the Frederick Douglass Boulevard and 125th Street in Uptown. I originally planned to stay at New Jersey and commute easily by train but I booked very late and it was a sudden decision of mine to see NYC finally. Most of the decent hotels in New Jersey was completely booked out, leaving me with a handful of choices to stay either at Hoboken or Manhatten. I was led to read about Aloft Harlem, a hotel that is part of the Starwood Hotels. I did too much research about the Harlem area that led to me feeling quite nervous about it's location. But after a phone call with the helpful Hotel reception, they assured me that the location is completely safe.

For the price and the quality of the rooms, I must say that this is a great steal if you want to see New York without having to be on the New Jersey side. The hotel was only opened in Dec 2010, so everything is in tiptop condition. Huge TV screens, clean bathrooms, free wi-fi and art-deco design, there is really nothing that I can criticise the hotel on. If you're a Starwood Preferred Guest (free registration online), you can take advantage of 3 nights for the price of 2 up until Dec 2011. For the prices of downtown NY hotels with skyrocket hotel prices ranging from US$400-500 per night, Aloft Harlem ended up costing me $190 per night.

An easy 5 minute stroll will take you to the subway on the 125th street that leads you directly to Columbus Square @ 59th Street. And if you take another 10 minutes walk from 8th avenue to 5th avenue, that's where the shopping bonanza will begin (and that's where I will be on today!). The D express trains zips through and I'm in midtown NY in a flat 5 minutes.

But since I arrived fairly late and I was getting symptoms of jetlag, I decided to play safe and take a 2 hour stroll. Where else would I go first than Times Square? I walked from Columbus Square @ 59th street to Times Square @ 42 street. The whole Manhatten area (uptown & downtown) is organised by parallel street numbers and avenue numbers. The main buzz of the city is located below the 59th street and Central Park starts from 59th upwards.

Anyway, it was really straightforward that I didn't really need to reference to a map. Nobody here takes traffic lights seriously, so I would be following a crowd totally dazzled by lights, and realise only half way that I'm walking through a red pedestrian light!

In order to experience Times Square properly, you must be there in person. I cannot describe in words how beautiful everything was. The atmosphere was electrifying with colours filtering the sky with dazzling lights. I was completely and utterly mesmerised. I have never seen and felt anything so amazing in my life. I can imagine spending hours and hours in the square just soaking in the exhilirating feeling of being there finally... in the big apple.

As a beautyholic, I had to see what a US drugstore looked like. I was in heaven just seeing the prices and the mass array of awesome drugstore products. I feel completely envious of my US readers because of the feast that rest on the eyes. I just couldn't choose what I wanted. Can you believe I only walked with just this number of products today? I simply couldn't decide what I wanted to get! I was stunned on my tracks like as if I won a lottery!!!!

So this is Day 1 of New York City. Don't expect to see any pictures of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. It was a trip completely unprepared for and I didn't realise that getting Crowne passes to see the beautiful green lady isolated in a small little island off the coast of New York was something I needed to prepare for months ahead.

New York City is just simply a m a z i n g!

April 21, 2011

Rustic eyes with Lunasol Aurorize Eyes - Contrast Variation 05

Every year Lunasol releases beautiful eyeshadow palettes for the fall, encompassing a range of sultry and shimmery eyes. Being a collector of Lunasol eyeshadow palettes, it was pretty much guaranteed that I would pick something up from the Aurorize Collection. 05 Contrast Variation offers 5 warm-toned neutral shades to create a rustic coppery eye.  

I like to alternate my looks when I go out. Sometimes opting for a softer look or a daring look depending on how I feel. Last night I didn't want any sort of extra attention because I was the only chick hanging out with a bunch of guys. I wanted to look polished and blend in with the blokes. Does that make any sense?

If you use all these shades in this palette, you can create a neutral smokey eye. Adding fake lashes will add more points to sultry look. I decided to go with my usual Dior Extase Mascara, which volumizes and gives a fake lash effect.

Lunasol traditionally packs alot of glitter in their eyeshadow palettes. If you like more of a satin or matte finish, Lunasol would not be your brand. I appreciate Lunasol eyeshadows when I want to focus more to the eyes, and give a shimmery dimension which you otherwise not get from other Western cosmetics. I find it beautiful to wear to the office but some may find the glitter quite distracting.

The texture of these shadows are not as soft as the older releases. However, the brush picks the powder up easily.

I love the dark blue shade, because I can use this to extend my lashline. On the other hand, I'm not too fond of the shade to the top left corner, because the warm tones actually looks quite odd to my cool toned skin colour.

I'm on the fence with the middle silver shade. It's nice to add a little bit of glitter to the eye, but I find that there's so much fall out that it's mandatory to put some loose powder under the eye.

Natural light

I would have loved this palette more if it was more cool-toned. But nevertheless, it's a wearable everyday palette if you like warm toned neutrals.

With flash
Cheeks with illamasqua cream pigment in delirium.

All the products used in today's look

April 20, 2011

Burberry Luminous Compact Foundation + Shu Uemura UV Under Base Mousse Pink

Burberry Cosmetics was meant to arrive Tangs Beauty Hall (Singapore) in January this year, but it's April now and there's still no news of its appearance. Luckily, I managed to get my grubby little fingers over this range when I was in Hong Kong last year for a business meeting. I picked up the Burberry Luminous Compact Foundation and a few other eyeshadows which I will do a look in due time.

Today's review as mentioned in the title will be on the Burberry Luminous Compact Foundation, because I'm a powder junkie (and foundation, and blush, and eyeshadow, and lipsticks, and lipgloss... and the list continues). There is no discrimination on the type of makeup I like. I like them all!! Me and my makeup = one happy family. lol!!

I have been using this delicately fine powder foundation for a few weeks now and I love it! I was matched in store to the shade in Trench No. 04 which is equivalent to MAC's NC20-NC25 foundation shade. Please check out my foundation box to the right if you're not a MAC foundation user.

As you would typically expect from Burberry, everything about the packaging exudes prestige. Unlike Chanel compacts that is made out of a lightweight plastic material, all Burberry products are encased in a luxurious gunmetal metal case that is semi-reflective. It is noticeably heavy, but it doesn't weigh like a brick. You can tell that Burberry did not compromise in quality just by observing the intricacies with the packaging. 

The case is held together by a thin magnet that runs around the compact which lifts the middle compartment when opened. At the bottom the case sits a slim Burberry sponge. The lid only opens up to 90 degrees. A practical aspect to the packaging is that you will not encounter any accidents unless you expect sudden jerks in your bag. It comes with a velvet pouch (I must have lost it in transit), which adds to the elegant Burberry touch.

Slits run along the bottom of the compact to allow the sponge to breathe, minimising mildew growth.

You get 8 grams of product, which I would expect to finish quite quickly if I were to use it as a foundation alone. I don't believe there are refills with Burberry at the moment, a big pity considering how wasteful it would be to toss a functional case.

I realise that the best way to review foundations is to show your natural state - skin bare of makeup. That way you're able to make some comparisons.

I used a good amount of the Shu Uemura UV Under Base Mousse in PINK as my primer. I guess this is a double product review entry.

I applied the Shu Uemura UV Under Base Mousse (pink) to the bottom half of my face. You can see that it lifts my skincolour significantly, and makes my face look more radiant. 

And now to the rest of my face. haha! War paint.

Just by adding a slight pink shade to the face completely readjust my entire look completely, making my face look noticeably radiant and fairer. And another thing I did notice is that my open pores shrank. One word... beautiful.

I find that Shu Uemura UV Under Base Mousses are best applied with pentagon sponges. The pointed ends allow the product to reach areas that are otherwise difficult to apply with your fingers.

In order for me to not get confused, I am using products in the pictures to remind me which side is which.


LEFT: I applied the Burberry Luminous Compact Foundation using the sponge directly on top of my primed face. I.e. this is what you would typically do if you use this powder alone as a FOUNDATION.

RIGHT: With primer on, no foundation yet.

I find that the coverage is more light to medium. So you can build this up by layering more powder on top, which I did but this created some cakiness around the nose and lip area (very dry at the moment due to the weather). If you moisturise your skin well, you might not be faced with the same problem. Perhaps using MAC fix plus prior to application will minimise the cakiness.

Now, you all would know that I'm currently loving the Giorgio Armani Lasting Silk UV Foundation. This is a GORGEOUS foundation, that photographs well and makes your skin look like perfection.

So comparatively, I prefer the right side, where I used Giorgio Armani Lasting Silk UV Foundation. I would always reach for liquid foundation over a powder at anytime, even if I'm running late.

What I have been doing lately is to use the Burberry Luminous Compact Foundation as a FINISHING POWDER, applying this over my face after liquid foundation. It works alot better this way for me because I don't get the cakiness and get a lovely luminous finish from both base makeup products.

Zooming in, I'll show you what I mean by cakey.

This is the side where I applied the Burberry Luminous Compact Foundation directly using the sponge provided. Not pretty.

However, on the right side where I applied the Burberry Luminous Compact Foundation as a finishing powder over Giorgio Armani Lasting Silk UV Foundation, the look appears more seamless.

Either way, it's a great powder from Burberry.

Blush in MAC Ripe Peach Blush Ombre.

All the base makeup used for today's entry...

I hope this review has been helpful for anyone who's considering of purchasing this compact foundation.

Please let me know your comments about this style of reviews. What would you like to see more of?

Alright, I'm off to pig out on my mushroom pizza from around the corner. Delightful! :-)

Edited: If you have a sharp eye, you would have noticed that I mispelt Burberry as Burburry. But I'm too lazy to re-edit my pictures again.

April 19, 2011

Oh my fair lady with Shu Uemura UV Underbase Mousse BB Beige

Today's quick post is going to be my initial thoughts of the Shu Uemura UV Underbase Mousse in BB Beige SPF 30 PA +++. This is a limited edition primer released from the The Sakura Collection by Shu Uemura with Mika Ninagawa. I didn't really have much of a chance to review it previously because of my relocation. But today I finally had some time in the morning to test this out.

I hope this review is helpful for you, even if I'm a little late. Sorry!

The revamped UV Under Base Mousse formulation can be identified with the flat top cap. I own many bottles of the old formulation, where the cap is rounded. The concept is the same - it's a primer and sunscreen contained in a bottle which you shake (makes the same clickety sound like an aerosal bottle).

The difference with the BB Beige shade is that you can use it as a foundation, alone. So it triples up as a sunscreen, primer and foundation.

The mousse formulation ensures that there's an even and consistent formulation of all the ingredients to achieve an even finish, oil control and pore minimizing effects. Instead of having a BB cream in a cream formulation, you can have it in a superior light-weight mousse formulation. It spreads very easily, doesn't clog your pores and is incredibly lightweight that it feels like second skin.

But then the next question would be, does it match my skin colour?
As we can all testify to this; time is limited in the morning. So having a product that allows you to miss 2 steps in your usual makeup routine sounds pretty good.

Sadly, this product didn't do it for me. Not because I don't like the innovative formulation, the lightweight texture, or that it seems to close up my pores extremely well. But because my face is so white after application, that I couldn't bear facing the public for a single second. And that just boils down to BB creams in general. They only offer at most 3 shades, targeting to pale asians only.

If you belong in the MAC NC15 in shade, you might actually like this product.

So here I applied it all over my face to see what's going on. Tick, I really do look 2 shades fairer. I almost like like a geisha with her costume makeup on.

Well, in all fairness, it doesn't look too bad if you apply your usual liquid foundation on top (see picture below). Perhaps you could even start using that old bottle of foundation that has been sitting in your drawers because you found the shade too dark.

Even though having a fair complexion is the BIG thing in Asia, I feel quite self-conscious for being so fair in a country that only starts smiling when the sun comes out. The Danes probably all wonder why I haven't been appreciating the sun more often by looking at the colour of my skin. Then again, I think I will probably rock this look with gazes of admiration from my dear friends in Asia. With a little bit of blush and bronzer to add more colour to the face, it looks like you stepped out of a fairy tale book and took on the role as Snow White.

In summary, I would only use the Shu Uemura UV under base mousse in BB beige to achieve a fairer complexion or if you're an MAC NC15. It's still a great product formulation-wise. I have used up so many bottles of the regular beige shade that I now wonder why Shu Uemura created a shade that can only be worn by very pale asian skin tones. And trust me, I'm fairer than most of the blondes in this country! *gasp*! 

I hope this helps anyone who's thinking of picking up this limited edition shade. Test it on your neck/face first!

April 18, 2011

Rainbow Fingers: My Nailpolish Collection

I have never been very big on nailpolishes but over the past year my collection has expanded quite dramatically from zero to nine! Well, I suppose nine is probably not much but I love them all. Colours that I'm not a fan of goes straight into the bin or donated to my little sister.

So here are all my nine little darlings. A large majority from OPI, but with some from illamasqua, Chanel, Lunasol, Sephora by OPI, and GOSH.

OPI collections for me are hit and miss. I love all the shades from the Shrek Collection but despise the ones from the Alice in Wonderland Collection. I find that the OPI formulas are generally ok, sometimes needing 3 coats to achieve an opaque consistency (I'm looking at you OPI Bubble Bath). My favourite shade from my very limited OPI collection would have to be OPI Rumple's Wiggin'. 

In Singapore, OPI nailpolishes retail for S$23.95 at department stores. But I bought my OPI nailpolishes (and Seche Vite) recently from the site called dollsupnails.com which offers free local shipping, and most OPI nailpolishes are only S$12.50. Steal!

Sephora by OPI  in Metro Chic was a major disappointment for me. I heard great raves about this colour from our beloved faffinettex3, but I needed 3 coats to achieve a decent finish and the formulation is too runny for my liking.

I hardly ever splurge on high-end nailpolishes. However, I decided to try at least one Chanel and one illamasqua nail polish over the past few months. I have not regret making these purchases and I can see why they're priced a little more than our dear cousins in the drugstore.

Chanel formulations are beautifully pigmented and application seems easier too. The only Chanel nailpolish I own, Black Pearl, has a brush that makes application precise and easy. On the other hand, I seem to always make a mess out of my illamasqua's Throb Nail Varnish. That said, illamasqua nailpolishes have a top-notch reputation for pigmentation.

And wait for it... my Chanel Black Pearl nailpolish bottle is now half full (or half empty, however you like to view it!). I've worn this shade week after week and still catch myself gazing at the colour. It's a gorgeous shade and is incredibly work friendly. It takes a little bit more guts to wear illamasqua throb to the office though.

I love cool toned nailpolishes. Probably because I have cool undertones.

And the underdog nailpolish has got to be GOSH. For a drugstore nailpolish and probably the least expensive nailpolish out of my entire collection, it achieves great opacity. I haven't had a chance to look at the other shades yet but Pink Rose is a bright barbie pink colour that makes me feel like a teenager again.

In summary, it's not alot but I'm really happy with what I have at the moment.

What nailpolishes would you recommend? I'm going to the US next week and I'm thinking of buying a few more there! Woopie!
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