January 21, 2014

Avalanche of Empties

It occurred to me that I had a bag of empties lying just this morning as I tossed out my last empty product. As I had very little time to blog last year, this bag has slowly grown. Any normal human being would probably think of me as looney - keeping a huge bag of empty disgusting products way beyond it's reasonable purpose. ? . Desperate to find some way to declutter my home, I thought it was high time to put the empties of 2013 into a post and toss all this plastic out and out.

There are a couple of things that I had finished but thrown away in hotel rooms or trips last year, so these were not counted here. 

I really got into body care products last year. I loved using non-drugstore soaps and moisturisers, and indulged on a lovely scented Origins A Perfect World Body Cream (200mls). The sweet scent was love at first sniff but I quickly got sick. I love the texture of the cream, and it absorbs quickly into the skin.

The Body Shop Shea Body Whip (250mls) isn't my favorite. While it has a lightweight texture, I hated the scent. I'm finding that the Body Shop isn't quite it used to be - the quality of their scents seem to err more on the 'plastic-sickly' side. They haven't quite made the move to be paraben-free and somehow using paraben-loaded products worry me.

Philosophy Cinnamon Buns (120mls) got me on the whole Philosophy kick. It smells incredible and lathers into a thick rich foam. I haven't gone quite as far as experimenting this on the hair but I will try one day.

I had both the Body Shop Shower gels in Olive and Divine Calm hanging around my shower for the longest time. Sadly, there's a reason why I stopped using these, especially as Philosophy has become my favorite bodycare line. The Body Shop foam is lighter (i.e. less dense) and I end up using up more of the product to get the right amount of foam.

Space NK Life Jump Start Body Lotion (50mls) is INCREDIBLE! If only it came in a larger size, I would have snapped it up during their special gwp events. The scent is lemon-zingy and the texture so lightweight and moisturising all in one.

Beautannia Brideshead Bath and Shower Gel (100mls) is fit for bath royalty. It makes your bathroom smell luxurious. The quality of the foam is incredible too and a little bit goes a long way. It's just too expensive for regular use, though. You can find these at SpaceNK or Liberty.

My biggest haircare discovery of 2013 has got to be the Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk (92.5g). I've gone through several cans of these in 2013. I like how it produces a consistent spray and doesn't irritate my scalp. It beats all the higher end dry shampoos without a doubt - including Oscar Blandi's award winning dry shampoos (hate these) or Percy & Reed's. During the Watsons member sales, I stock these up like crazy. On every 2nd day I would spray this on my oily roots. As a result of this routine, the health of my tresses have significantly improved.

Dove Hair Therapy Shampoo in Hair Fall Rescue has become by go-to shampoo for the gym/studio. I don't like bringing with me my more expensive shampoos to the gym because I tend to forget them in the common showers. I like that these shampoos cleanse my scalp and hair well without being pricey. Apart from the silicones and sulfates, I would recommend the Dove haircare line over and above the Phyto or Aveda.

Aveda Rosemary Mint Shampoo (250mls) was disappointing for me. My hair didn't feel cleansed and I didn't get the hype.

Phytocedrat for oily scalp (200mls) was not impressive at all. I didn't like that the product was a liquid, which made me use more than I should.

Tsubaki Oil Extreme Repair Conditioner (200g) is fabulous for anyone with very dry or damaged hair. While it can weigh your hair down, an intensive 2-3 month treatment post haircare damage is as a good as using a regular hair mask.

Fekkai Advanced Brilliant Glossing Conditioner (59mls) is lovely. It's sad to see Fekkai go from Sephora stands, as I was quite a fan of their pink bottled (for coloured hair) shampoos and conditioners. This trial size bottle here was nice, but not exceptional to warrant me hunting down stockists in Singapore.

Caudalie Beauty Elixir (100mls) was a surprising love for me. While it's not a must-have, I love the minty scent and how it sets my face together in the morning after makeup. I thought I could replace this with Urban Decay's setting sprays, but I found myself purchasing another large bottle during my trip to Vienna. Although, it does seem like an expensive purchase at 32 euros, I used this almost daily and a bottle last me a whole year.

You've heard me rave countless times about the Shu Uemura High Performance Balancing Cleansing Oil (pink bottle in 450mls). This stuff pre-makeup is magic: it removes everything, even the most stubborn mascara.

Sulwhasoo's regular range in Balancing Emulsion (125mls), First Care Serum (60mls) and Liquid Cleansing Foam (200mls) was altogether unimpressive. The emulsion comes in a clumsy glass bottle, which you need to shake to get any product out. Packaging aside, the product does nothing to my skin and I hate having this wet feeling of cream sitting on the skin. I certainly won't be purchasing anything more from the Sulwhasoo line.

Vichy Normaderm Tri-Active Anti-imperfection Hydrating Care is wonderful for Asian skin and humid climates. Click here for a review.

Makeup empties was not at all impressive in 2013. I finished no lipsticks and that in itself points that I have been rather lazy with my makeup, generally. I'm trying to be more focused this year... 'trying' is a good word, isn't it?

At one stage I was nuts about pressed powders and so I concentrated on using up my Anna Sui's Pressed Powder Refill Pan (9.5g), which I slot into one of these refillable compact cases (also from Anna Sui). Honestly, I can't write a review about this because it's been SO long since I've used it.

Illamasqua Satin Primer (30mls) is a primer that is great for producing a glowy, dewy complexion - although, it doesn't seem to give your foundation any more longevity.

Giorgio Armani Lasting Silk Foundation (30mls) is one of my holy grail foundations ever. It's glow in a bottle. No other foundation has given me as many compliments. You can find a review of it here.

Out of all my bb creams, the Sulwhasoo's Snow Wise BB Base stands out. It's not too heavy and the coverage is light enough to even out the skin. I don't recall having improved skin after using this continuously, but it somehow lightened my complexion. You can find a review of it here.

Lancome Oscillation Mascara is a bit of a gimmicky retake of the popular Definicils, with a higher price point (of course). It's fun at first to be vibrating your lashes, but after a while it gets a bit tiring. The mascara was a bit hard to work with initially but as the formula started to dry, the application and effect became much better.

I was seriously in love with the old Shiseido Mascara Base, and the company just had to reformulate it. The new version is what I have here - called the Shiseido Nourishing Mascara Base. All I can say about this 'new' formulation is that Shiseido has completely destroyed a perfectly awesome mascara. The new one is total rubbish.

It took a serious court order to separate me and MUFE Smoky Lash Mascara. I'm guilty as charged for using this wayyyy past it's expiry date. But it's really good. As good as the GA ETK mascara.

Ho hum... here I talk about how guilty I am for hauling and not using. I.e. the graveyard. Or, otherwise known as the products that just dried the #(* out and render it as good as rubbing bricks on the face.

MUFE HD High Definition Blushes... I have here 4. What exactly was I thinking? I hated the one and I got four. That must have been why they dried out! lol.

Then Anna Sui Protective Foundation Primer C has completely separated. No amount of shaking could save the product.

Becca Turkish Rose cream blush... this was a hard one to let go. The shade is awesome... but as all cream blushes, they have an expiry date. This one is donkey years old and it's just time to say goodbye.

Yeah... I have a bunch of eye pencils and mascaras that dried out too. Sad.

So the grand total is....


January 15, 2014

A Review: By Terry Cover-Expert Foundation

A dear friend of mine passed on her unloved By Terry Cover-Expert foundation to me some time ago and I finally had the chance to use it here in Vienna. Luckily, we both have the same skin color which makes makeup testing versatile. I have here the shade in No. 2 Neutral Beige, which corresponds to NC20-NC25 in MAC. To the right hand bar you can find the foundation shades that match me. 

I wanted very much to love the By Terry Cover Expert Foundation (US$66), especially as Ruth from amodelsrecommends.com seems to be a huge fan. There are a few reasons why this foundation didn't quite meet my expectations. 

Shades: There are in total 12 shades - The Beauty Professor has them wonderfully swatched here. I have mine in No. 02 Neutral Beige. It's slightly lighter than my usual foundations. I would go a shade up, especially during the summer. 

Texture: A lightweight texture and blends effortlessly. It also dries down quickly into a satiny matte finish with no feeling of tackiness. 

Packaging: Foundation is encased in a tube plastic container, making it easy to travel with. The full size contains 35mL. Perhaps the one I have here is defected, but the cap is utter rubbish. I get foundation smearing the sides of the tube, despite countless efforts to clean the cap and the nozzle. I can't stand it really - I hate having to grab foundation this way especially when there could be germs or dried product. 

Coverage: Medium. It seems to cover my redness and blemishes around my nose and lips rather well. The European winter is making my skin suffer from a bit of rosacea, strangely.

As you can see below, coverage-wise is excellent and provides a really nice even base.

Now here is the BUT... I found that it still somehow makes my face look quite flat. It's not dewy by any means (YSL Touche Eclat Foundation), but supposed to have a 'velvety finish'. Up close, I can definitely tell that I have foundation on. There's bits of patchiness around my nose and upper lip area and the skin looks quite powdery and untextured. Mind you, I have been using my Clarisonic every other day and repeating face masks several times a week - touching my clean skin now feels smooth. 

Take a look at my skin around my nose bridge. Notice that patchiness and unevenness? Now bring your eyes to the area below my nose. That's dry skin looking horrible with Cover-Expert. 

As the day goes on, the foundation seems wear off slightly on my nose.

Longevity: Here I am biased. Having foundation during winter is not a true test of longevity and neither is hot and humid climates such as Singapore. Assuringly, I had very little oiliness at the end of the day. As you can see below, the foundation stayed put during the 6 hours. There was perhaps a bit of product transfer to the collar sleeves on my jacket, but that was about it.

Overall thoughts: I was not blown away by the By Terry Cover-Expert to say the least. I dislike the cap and the texture it gave my skin especially on closer inspection. My winter dry skin seem to dislike the formula of the foundation very much - the product clings on dry patches, accentuating dryness and rough skin. On a positive note, those who enjoy to satin-matte finishes will love this foundation. The coverage is excellent and the shade selection wide for all skin colours. 

How does it compare to other foundations? I think the only few foundations that have impressed me time and time again were the Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua, Giorgio Armani Lasting Silk, and YSL touche eclat foundation. The closest rival to By Terry Cover-Expert would probably be the Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua and hands down, and I prefer Chanel over By Terry any day. Sorry, that just had to be said. 

Maybe By Terry Sheer-Expert will be better? 

January 13, 2014

Giorgio Armani Eyes To Kill Mascara

I confess that I am one of those guilty ones for keeping mascaras beyond the 3 month expiry date. At best I would religiously use one for 6 months, put it aside, ponder if I should continue using it, then whip it out again... and the story goes on. 

I'm blessed with long eyelashes, however, they droop like curtains. I generally like mascaras that hold the curl and volumises. I often dismiss lengthening mascaras because my lashes get caught on my reading glasses and can be a real nuisance. I have had my lashes permanently curled twice and these were the only times I would really truly enjoy using volumising mascaras - both drugstore and high-end. However, doing regular heat application to the lashes is simply too damaging. 

Lancome Oscillation Mascara was my previously used mascara in rotation. Unlike the Lancome Oscillation, GA ETK mascara is gorgeous when first opened applied. Some mascaras perform better over time as the formula dries and becomes less clumpy. But why wait? I can understand that some drugstore mascaras can take a bit of time for the formula to thicken. However, with drugstore prices I can be patient. The contrary could be said with high-end mascaras; you simply need not have to wait.

GA ETK comes in a noticeably heavy black lacquer tube, with engraving on the side. The weight seems to be distributed mostly to the cap, which I suppose makes you feel like a million bucks when doing your makeup. 

The bristles are arranged in a haphazard fashion to catch each individual lash. It's not too brushy or large like the Diorshow mascaras, which are huge in comparison. I prefer smaller brush heads, too, as it gives me the flexibility to brush through without having to accidentally get mascara on my skin. 

The effect is gorgeous especially with a lengthening mascara base (Lancome Cils Booster XL is super) and curling. As the day goes on, there was no flaking or smudging even in hot humid weather. The curl dropped slightly - but, hardly noticeable. This is probably the single reason why I never apply a second coat to my lashes. As you can see below, there's very little clumpiness to the formula - it simply glides on effortlessly. 

I love how beautiful it makes my smaller lashes look towards the end of my eye. And, I love how it gives an natural eyeliner appearance. 

Removing was easy too (I have mine in the non-waterproof version). I used the Caudalie Micellar water.

How do the GA ETK Mascara compare to some other high-end mascaras that I've used in the past?
  • MUFE Smokey Lash: ETK is more dramatic and more volumising. The formula for the MUFE smokey lash seems to dry up more quickly compared to GA ETK. 
  • YSL Faux Cils: perhaps similar except YSL is much more volumising. 
  • Lancome Oscillation: Again, I prefer having zero wait time when buying high-end mascaras.
  • Diorshow: GA ETK has a brushwand that is easier to apply and it seems to coat the individual lashes better than Diorshow mascaras.
In summary, the Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill Mascara is divine, but pricey at US $30 (shocking!). It gives a gorgeous butterfly feminine wispy lashes, with a bit of drama and yet still passing as natural for the daytime look. For me, it brings the whole eye look together, forgoing the need for eyeliners (hate applying these). Will I purchase this again? Yes. 

January 11, 2014

Chanel Le Vernis Cinema 581

Like everyone needs a classic red lipstick, the same goes with red nail polish. I was drawn to the whims of Chanel Le Vernis in Cinema 581 when it was first featured on The Make-up Blogette. Swatching them in person was surreal too - the finish is jelly-like, shiny, creamy and opaque in just one coat. I have no where near as many red nail polishes to do a proper comparison, but I can simply say that this red is stunning on all skin tones. 

Below is two coats without a topcoat. 

Cinema is a neutral classic red - not too warm and not cool. I think it looks particularly elegant for a black dress event. I wore this several times during the christmas holiday season. I read on blogs that this is permanent, and very glad it is so. I picked mine up from Taiwan sometime in May last year, for NT800. 

January 10, 2014

Chanel Joues Contraste in Accent 84 - Holiday 2013 Collection

There are some real standout pieces from the Chanel Holiday 2013 collection. Even though Spring 2014 is creeping to counters here, I am still drawn to the Holiday collection. I missed out on a shimmering chocolate lipstick and painfully regretting it now for not picking that up. Plus, Spring 2014 is just not catching my interest at all. Everything in the collection seems too pink and girly. 

Catching up with overdue posts for Holiday collections, it seems timely to bring up this new obsession of mine: Chanel Joues Contraste in Accent 84. Here in Vienna, Muller department store (a place for makeup junkies) is offering 20% discount for Chanel Holiday 2013.

I have my Joues Contraste in the european baked formula, which supposedly is inferior to the US formula. I have never tried the US formula so whatever JCs I have currently are pretty good to me. Accent is a stunning shade and very wearable for everyday. I dismissed it initially thinking it's some boring brown but I was convinced by the likes of bloggers and YouTubers that this shade is a must-have. And true enough, Accent has become a staple in my makeup hall of fame. 

Accent is described to be a pinkish beige with micro sparkles. It applies smoothly without that seemingly cakey or powdery look like some powder blushers do, and allows for this delicate translucency to the skin. On lazy days, I would often skip blushers entirely and use a bronzer instead - duplicating as both a hybrid bronzer and blusher. To me it is like a win-win situation for lazy girls or conservative work environments. Whilst 4g is nothing compared to the likes of bronzers, I am curious to see if I will actually finish a JC blusher. I am dying to see what the bottom of a JC blusher pan looks like...

Using the brush that they have in the compact, I can achieve this healthy dose of colour without looking over the top. Compared to the MAC autoerotique extra dimension blusher, Accent is more brown. I have been wearing Accent a ton lately - for Christmas dinner parties, New Years, and probably soon to be all year round. 

Top to bottom: MAC Autoerotique blush on top. Chanel Accent on the bottom. 

As you can see, Accent is neither muddy nor dirty. It applies like a blush. and a bronzer. two-in-one. 

Here are face swatches - all taken in natural indoor day light.

I know that most you beauty fanatics already have this blusher, so this post is kind of meaningless. But for those who have that extra bit of 'petty' cash, pick this up... This is surprisingly the blush shade you'll be using over and over again.

January 9, 2014

Guerlain Meteorites in Crazy Pearls 2013

So, I hear from the grapevine that Guerlain has revamped their infamous meteorites formula. There have been some mixed reviews about the revised formulation - some feel that it's another overhyped marketing ploy. I have yet to see them in person to judge but I do feel that some of the past releases are hit or miss and an update may lead to something better.

Guerlain Holiday 2013 features yet again a meteorite version called Crazy Pearls, encased in a lacquer black metal tin and fun embossment printing 'Champs Elysees'. This version claims to illuminate the skin with a pink glow with the combination of 6 shades: beige + rosy beige to even out the skin, mauve to refresh, white to light up the face, gold to illuminate, and pink for a healthy glow.

It comes with a black sponge as opposed to the puff in the older versions. 

What caught my interest was primarily the pink balls, which are hidden towards the bottom of the tin.

Despite the description, I only managed to find 4 distinctive shades in the tin. Here they are individually swatched. The mauve was very disappointingly hard to swatch and does not transfer much product to the skin. I literally had to rub each ball individually several times to produce any noticeable colour. The white is obviously more shimmery. The gold seems to deposit a slight satiny sheen. And lastly, the pink was the most prominent and perhaps the most beautiful from the bunch.

Applying with a Shu Uemura 18R red fluffy powder brush, the overall effect on the skin is very subtle.

Below I applied more than usual and you can see the pearls produce a slight pinky tone that is satiny in finish.

To capture the shimmer in photos was almost impossible - even to my naked eye I could barely see the slightest. I had to go under bright studio lights to see the slight shimmer. Below is one with flash photography.

The adjustment on my complexion is only slight. I daresay barely noticeable.

Compared to the other meteorite releases, Crazy Pearls can hardly be described as crazy - the effect is pinkier and less shimmery. Other bloggers claim that the pink can be applied as a light blusher on fair skintones and I would completely disagree. You need to isolate the pink balls from the rest in order to do so. However what Crazy Pearl seems to do on me is a light satiny matte finishing powder. Does it make my complexion more luminous? Well, only slightly. Compared to Chanel La Beiges or Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder, it seems Guerlain has serious contenders to deal with. 

Overall, I'm quite disappointed with the Guerlain Meteorites in Crazy Pearls - I had expected the effect to be more obvious. Perhaps there is a reason for why Guerlain decided to revamp its' formula; it's supposedly softer and easier to pick up powder. It makes perfect sense from a sales point of view too. Softer product means faster usage. The older formula does not warrant much repeat purchase because one tin can last a very long time. Even my mum's old meteorites dated back in 1990 still remains after daily usage. I'm pretty sure I will be passing my meteorites collection to my grandchildren because it seems to last for an infinity.

Nonetheless, it is definitely a collectible for Guerlain meteorite fans. Guerlain Crazy Pearls will be the last meteorites released in the pre-formulated version, and with a quantity of 1.05oz compared to 0.88oz. And if you are a connoisseur of the meteorites, you may be able to detect the difference. To me, I can't and thus feel that the $80 could have been spent on the other items from the collection. 
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