Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Empties Vol. 3- Bamboo, Balmain, Dove, Philip Martin's

Oh hi, let's talk about hair. Mine is fine, thin and long, that tends to look flat, fast, with oily roots and frizzy ends. Curls fall out after 10 minutes no matter what I do, and waves form similarly fast if I straighten it. And you?

I've long since given up on trying to wear my hair in any sort of “style”, by which I mean anything involving heat or a long list of product, on a daily basis at least. I keep my hair naturally wavy, clean (most of the time), and either down or out of my face, depending on what I'm doing. Sounds simple enough, and yet I'm still on the hunt for my holy grail haircare lineup. Here are some things I've used up and both loved and hated, over the past year or more.

As I said, my haircare arsenal is quite sparse. Shampoo and conditioner are a must, followed by dry shampoo and some sort of oil treatment for the ends, and possible additional sources of volume, which I desperately need. I like to wash my hair around twice a week, so I look for a shampoo that keeps my hair looking as clean as possible around the 3-4 day mark. The Bamboo Abundant Volume and Philip Martin's Babassu Wash didn't quite cut it.

The latter is a very natural feeling product, it produces next to no foam, so it's hard to tell if you've spread it out evenly or not, and consequentially, end up using more and more, going through the bottle very quickly. Beyond the fact that my hair looked flat, and felt like it needed to be washed again after a day, sometimes even the following morning, I'm quite disappointed by how little use I got out of it. I justify buying nicer haircare products because they are usually more concentrated and last half a year or more. The Babassu Wash was simply expensive and not effective for me. It did have a magnificent, delectable citrus scent, unlike anything I've experience in a non-edible form. Perhaps their more nourishing lines work differently, and if you have dry, damaged hair, they're still worth checking out.

In terms of volume and cleanliness, or lack of it, the Bamboo performed similarly. It features an intriguing, twist up cap, smells quite plane, and unlike the Philip Martin's, foams up nicely and lasts for a very long time. But again, performance and value are key, and neither of these “volumizing” shampoos really worked for me.

Another disappointing Bamboo product was their 48-h Sustainable Volume Spray. The claims of this product mesmerized me. Volume for days?! Gimme dat! I've used it in every way possible – wet hair, damp hair, dry hair, clean hair, second day hair, loads of product, barely any product... An exasperating amount of experimenting, and the result is always the same. It makes my hair sticky and flat, it makes my scalp feel itchy and dirty, and it makes my hair fall out like crazy. I hate this stuff!

If you have a keen eye, you can probably tell, that bottle isn't actually empty. I've had it for around two years, and it might take another two to go through it. I only use it a few times every couple of months, basically in place of a weak hairspray on days I've gone too long between washes and want my hair up in a sleek bun or ponytail, and even then, the discomfort my scalp feels is hardly worth it. I tried passing it on to my mom, and she didn't like it either, so I'm stuck with it. At this rate, it'll take a very long time to go through, but for how pricy it was, I can't quite bring myself to throw it away. I'll keep working on it, but if I find something similar I actually love first, in the bin it goes.

Dry shampoo has over the years become a staple product for me. I've tried many different kinds and price points, and have settled on the plain old Batiste. It just works. Before I'd come to that conclusion, I bought this Dove Dry Shampoo when in the US a year and a half ago. There's a theme to this post, because again, this product claimed to absorb oils and give volume, and it did the opposite. That's pretty much my review in a nutshell. It made my hair feel sticky, flat and dirty, the reverse of the claims on the tin. Would not recommend!

And now, to end on a positive note. I've absolutely fallen in love with the Balmain Argan Moisturizing Elixir. It's replaced the Kendi Dry Oil Mist for me, because it's so much more effective. It's a very thick, viscous consistency, featuring the signature Balmain scent. I use it daily right before heading out to smooth my frizzy ends, and apply it slightly thicker before and after blowdrying my hair. You may know I like to travel light, so I've taken to only bringing a small vile of the elixir with me, and no conditioner at all. Simply using the Balmain more generously provides the necessary moisture to my dry ends.

The 100ml bottle lasts an absolute eternity! It's the definition of a seemingly expensive product, that works out really affordable per use. I'm on my second bottle and I've got my mom hooked on it too!

Last but not least, I've used up the Balmain Paris Volume Mousse Strong. In short, I really like it! I can't say if one could create extreme volume with this mousse. I simply wouldn't know how to. For me, it just gives that extra bit of bounce at the roots that makes my hair look normal, when in reality, it often looks painted on flat.

Having said that, I don't know if I like this mousse specifically, or just mousse in general. I hadn't used mousse in over 10 years before this, so perhaps modern formulations would perform similarly on me. I might try something different next, to compare how good the Balmain actually is, but as a whole I really like it. My only complaint is the cap being really flimsy for such a premium product. It doesn't stay on and I'm frequently crawling on the floor, trying to fish it out from behind the bathtub. I think this is an issue with all of Balmain's aerosol packaging. Other than that, I really recommend trying their line!

So that's it for this hair-themed post. Honestly, my hair is tragic, which is why I'll always be on the hunt for a product that will (claim to) make me look like I've got Sam McKnight dropping by first thing in the morning, every day. For now, I get to enjoy my current discoveries and throw more trash away


Sunday, January 22, 2017

A face full of favourites feat. YSL Séductrice

January of the new year is almost over, and the world hasn't imploded, yay! But seriously, I know time is time and the universe doesn't care if for us a new year is some sort of reset, but I do care. If you have hope and good intentions, good things will happen. If you're depressed and burdened, well, good luck. Trivial new beginnings aside, I wanted to share some things I've been loving.

I didn't do favourites last year because I honestly don't buy/use enough stuff to come up with a list. Sure, there were a few things, but then I got distracted and then I fell out of love with some of them. But, the ones that have stood the test of time (2 years) are here for your enjoyment, all also demonstrated on my face!

I'm going to start off with the oldest item on my list, the one that would have been in last year's favourites - Yves Saint Laurent Blush Volupté in 02 Séductrice. I'd mentioned lusting after that colour in my Baby Doll review and I did end up getting it. I'm sorry, I never took pictures of it when it was brand new and untouched. I was too into it, but then, for every 10 times I wanted to use it, I'd only allow myself one, because I was so determined to preserve the embossing and still take the photos. You can just barely tell where the Mondrian print and YSL branding was. I failed at getting pristine pics while also denying myself using it most of the times I'd wanted to. But this is why I wrote this post, this is as „new“ as my blush will look anymore, I've photographed it and am now free to use it EVERY DAY!

Honestly, I love this blush. I tried taking multiple pictures in daylight to capture just how nice it is, but didn't quite manage to. This will be a theme in my favourites though, everything I love is kind of a perfect match for my colouring. Séductrice is a very pale warm pink. It's not like Baby Doll, you can dig your brush in there hoping to get more pigment, but there's a limit and you can't go past it. It's impossible to over-do this blush.

On me, it's the perfect, natural pink, which I wish my skin would be when I get flushed, alas, naturally, I turn red. It's delicate, but long lasting. The powder is soft and silky. I can't say enough good things about it, it's my perfect nude. I don't know how it would work on someone darker than me. You can see further down, that even swatched, it just barely shows up on me (just the pink, minus the center shimmery part, though it doesn't make a huge difference). It seems to be pigmented, just extremely light, so it might just show up on darker skin as a pastel pink, which is a super pretty look, in my opinion.

Moving on with face products, the Kanebo Sensai Triple Touch Compact had been on my wish-list for a very long time. Their loose powder is incredible, and I really wanted to have a pressed version for on the go. Unfortunately, at least here, the only options are pressed powder foundations, which are all too dark, have lots of coverage and are not mattifying, or the Triple Touch Compact, of which the TC-01 Light colour is actually usable on me. 

The powder in this compact is sadly not the pressed version of the loose powder I love so much. I imagine a true translucent version would be very firmly pressed and you'd get hardly any kick-back from putting your brush into the pan. This powder is incredibly soft and crumbles quite easily. I've not used it a lot at all, and I started seeing the grooves of the pan underneath after just a few uses. It looks much more like powder on the skin, whereas the loose powder doesn't add any perceivable texture, just softness and blur. 

The reason I really enjoyed this compact is because of how all three products worked together. I initially wanted the powder and took the „two“ concealers as bonus products. The colour concealer is very buttery soft, which I thought would be a disaster on my combination skin, but it doesn't irritate me at all. I've never found a concealer that would actually cover my pigmentation spots, they always show through any product, and this was no exception. It did however diffuse their appearance and worked fine under my eyes. 

The product I thought I'd have no use at all for, is what they call a transparent concealer, the white stuff. It seemed like an utter gimmick to me, or something only applicable to deep lines, which I don't have, and yet, THAT'S the product I hit pan on first. As I said, the powder didn't really provide the soft focus blur I'd hoped, but I still used it with a wispy brush under my eyes and in the t-zone, and switched to a foundation brush to buff it into the areas I wanted more coverage (which this powder provides), but it's the clear concealer that in fact gives that blurry quality to the skin. 

I used the compact mainly while traveling and I loved the quick, natural look that all three products, when used together, provided. I'd use the clear concealer on and around my nose, where my pores are most visible, as well as between my eyebrows; I'd use the colour concealer under my eyes and on the more glaring scar clusters; and I'd use two different types of brushes with the powder to set and to add coverage. It was hot and I was doing a lot of walking, no makeup (on me) would have lasted past midday, so looking natural yet put together, and being able to get ready fast was key. 

A criticism I have is that the design of the compact isn't very user-friendly. I like multitaskers, but the different sides of this compact are tricky to access and not ergonomic when used. The plastic insert, protecting the pouf from the powder, is just flat and always falls out the minute you open the thing. 

And of course, you go through the product fast. I hate pallets because you use up contents at a different rate and every time something is gone, and you can't replace it, the item becomes less and less useful. While the Triple Touch Compact is a nice product, I'd recommend using all of it whenever you reach for it, so everything gets used up more or less at the same time. I'm not sure if I'll re-purchase it when it's gone, but I really enjoyed the simple, natural look it provided during hectic travel days. 

I got the L'Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte foundation in 101 Classic Ivory last fall in the US. I got this based on a youtube review, and initially, didn't like it. I also picked up a Revlon foundation on that trip, which seemed to take the cake, but then their roles switched.

The colour is too dark and orange for me, at first. Besides the challenge of finding a colour that's light enough, something that's a major problem for me is pilling. No matter how thinly I apply a moisturizer, most foundations will pill upon application, this one does that very little.

Yes, it's not an ideal shade match, but it's acceptable. Yes the squeezy tube is very thin and flimsy, the tip is wide and makes a mess in the semi translucent cap, but I really like it. I'd say it has medium coverage and it works well with fingers, brushes as well as a sponge. The foundation gets better after application, it blurs itself and adapts slightly to your skin colour. At the end of the day, it wears better than anything I've ever tried. It has a soft focus effect that lasts on my combination/oily skin, and its compact packaging, while kind of cheap-feeling, is a win.

A former colleague of mine got a Beauty Blender/soap set freebie at an event that she wasn't using, and kindly passed it on to me. I'd been curious about the egg-shaped sponge for a while, but couldn't justify the price. It costs as much as some very decent foundation brushes, and you don't have to throw those away after half a year. Well, this sponge is pretty special and I like it.

I don't use it daily, but sometimes, it's a lifesaver. Remember the pilling problem? White dots gathering into pores? Well, the effect is greatly minimized if the foundation is applied with a damp beauty blender. Also, I live in Northern Europe, and for nearly half a year, the sun only gets up at about 10 A.M. (and it's dark by 4 P.M.), so this tool is extremely helpful if you're applying your makeup in the dark, and it's really hard to tell if there are harsh line with artificial lighting. The BB is almost guaranteed to blend everything.

I also find it works faster than a brush. Overall, I still prefer a brush, because the bouncing motion is more fatiguing. I use it a few times a month. I've had it since last March and I just noticed a tiny bit of foam missing today. I'm not sure I'd run out to replace it once my current one is obsolete, but I really like having the Beauty Blender option.

The only other tool I want to mention is the Wayne Goss eyeshadow brush nr 06. I placed an order with Beautylish while waiting for a flight, and had it shipped to a friend in the US. It wasn't the only brush I ordered, but it's the one I actually love.

I'd spent a long time choosing which eye brush to get and settled on the 06 because it seemed like it would work as a lay-down brush, but it wasn't the typical flat and stiff shape of one. I honestly wasn't expecting much, but ended up being blown away. I didn't know an eye brush could have such lovely, soft and flexible bristles. I'd compare them to the ones in my Kyureido blush brush. It is so gentle on the skin while still incredibly efficient. I use it for laying down shadow, in the crease as well as blending. I adore it, and want more... (yikes).

Continuing with eyes, I'd researched Inglot shadows online and when I was in NYC, I went to their Time's Square store and assembled two pallets. Overall, I like the shadows, I think they are good quality and great for the price. My favourite by far though is the matte warm grey in nr. 342. I kind of got it because I needed to fill a space in the pallet, and I'm so glad I did.

I have versions of all the other shades I got, but this is unique to my collection. I'd never gotten the mid-done grey/brown matte shadow craze, but now I get it. It's stunning in the crease over other shadows, or on its own, just to create depth, and I love it under the lower lash-line, it creates the most beautiful, understated shadow. I'm wearing it in my crease, outer corner and underneath the lower lash-line in the look. Highly recommend this eyeshadow!

Eyebrows are sort of my thing, so I'm always on the lookout for a great eyebrow pencil. I do have my holy grail one, but I decided to explore the drugstore side of the spectrum, just in case I'm missing an affordable gem. I came across the Maybelline Brow Satin in Dark Blond and I'm now on my third or fourth one. It's a retractible pencil, the formula is very long lasting and it's a nice match for my red hair. I traveled with it, because I didn't want to rely on a pencil sharpener, and it worked very well in sweaty, hot weather and very long days.

It's not perfect though. While I like that it's retractible and I don't mind the size of the tip, I do dislike the thickness of the plastic walls housing the product at the very tip. It's difficult to explain, but I wish the plastic would taper seamlessly and wouldn't have that abrupt, thick wall between the tip and itself. The reason why this bothers me is that you (I mean I) use a pencil at an angle, and with a design like this, the tip has to be twisted out quite a bit for it, and not the plastic edge, to actually touch your skin. I hope that makes sense.

Also, the other end of the product. I don't know why this is, but both my current favourite brow pencils have entirely useless stuff on the flip side of the pencil, neither come with a freakin spooley. I just... Ugh. The Maybelline comes with a sponge tip that's spring loaded and picks up a bit of powder in the cap every time you unscrew it. For me, it's completely useless. Occasionally I'll use the powder just to use it, but the tip runs out of powder after about 2 strokes (so you have to close it again etc) and it's too sheer and imprecise to use, for me. I would rather it had a spooley, but for the price and overall convenience, I guess I can't really complain.

Rounding up the eye (area) category is the Clarins Waterproof Cream Eyeshadow in 01 Golden Peach. I wanted this to potentially replace the Dior Chimere, as my everyday one colour look, unfortunately, it does not. I'm wearing it all over the lid in the look, and if you can see it, that's great, because I don't.

Initially, the shadow is very pigmented, but once you start spreading and blending, it becomes virtually transparent, and the only thing that's left is the rather old-fashioned, white pearly sheen. If you try and apply it thicker, it looks and feels awful. Once it sets, it forms a film, you can feel it stuck to the skin every time you blink, and it makes even the youngest of skin look crapey and old. Sounds terrible, right? Well, there's an upside.

While I can't see it on my lids, I've been told by others they can and it looks nice. But that's not its saving grace. This eyeshadow is an incredible base. Everything I put over it lasts unbelievably well right up to the point when I'm ready to remove the makeup. Powder shadows, other creams, that crease like mad on me, even ill-behaved eyeliners that transfer and gather in the creases of my lids, all wear beautifully. I use this shadow virtually every day and when I run out, which will not be soon, because you need so little, I'd gladly re-purchase it, if Clarins still make them.

And finally, of course I managed to forget something, is the Clarins Instant Light Natural Lip Perfector in 05. Sorry, it was in my coat pocket while I was taking pictures of everything else. I'd wanted this very one for several years and finally got it last summer. I've been quite disappointed in lip products and have preferred to stick to what I know and love, so my hopes weren't very high for this, but I needed some retail therapy at the time.

I'd only ever been interested in the 05 shade because it's the only colour that doesn't look entirely clear on me, there's a slight peachy pink tint (again, sorry there's no swatch, but I am wearing it in the look). I love this stuff! It's moisturizing and comfortable on the lips, without being sticky (unless it's windy and my hair is down, then it will stick to the gloss). It's the comfort and ease of a lip balm with a more elevated and refined look.

The lip perfector even got me through an 8 hour flight! I couldn't find my usual lip balm, but had this in my jacket pocket, and when I opened it, the pressure in the aircraft made the product just start pouring out like crazy. I applied the mess to the back of my hand and put the cap back on as quickly as I could, and applied the „wasted“ product thickly all over my lips. This was after the meal had been served and there was still a lot of doing nothing to come, and by the time they served the coffee and sandwich 45 minutes before landing, the Clarins was still very much on my lips, which is probably around 6,5-7 hours since application. That's amazing! I had to make a mental note to not use it again because of the whole expanding/exploding tube situation, but it was incredibly effective despite the little mess (and of course I forgot this on my next flight).

Much like raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, these are a few of my favourite things. Nothing mind-blowing, shocking or terribly unique, just flattering, lovely products I'm glad I've discovered in the past many months. Hope you enjoyed the mini reviews and the look I created!

XO- Or.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Kiko 28 & Inglot 419- Peacock NYE Look

I'd wanted to try a look like this, a dramatic wing with the Kiko cream eyeshadow stick, ever since I got it in Milan, spring of LAST year. So, last night I was feeling bored and finally tried it. Full disclosure, I didn't actually wear this out, in fact – I piled everything on over my existing face of makeup, knowing I'd be washing it off in a few hours.
The eye-look was actually very easy to achieve. The Kiko Color-Up Long Lasting Eyeshadow in 28 was still sharp enough to just draw the wing on, no other tools required. I carried the blackened, forest green colour over to the lower lash line, and blended the rest of the mobile lid out with the Inglot eyeshadow in 419, an antiqued gold/olive green colour. To highlight the inner corner of the eye, brow bone as well as my nose and cheek bones, I used the light, pearly pink shade in the Guerlain Écrin 4 Couleurs in 08 Les Perles. I also used the Revlon Colorstay Eye Liner in 202 Black Brown on the upper and lower lash line, as well as the waterline. To finish the eyes, I added as many coats of the Maybelline Colossal Volum' Express mascara as would adhere to my lashes.

For my base, I added not one, not two, but three more pumps of the Revlon Colorstay Makeup Combination/Oily in 110 Ivory, as well as caking on a generous layer of the Mac Studio Fix powder foundation in NC15. No, I don't know why. Maybe, subconsciously I wanted to see what reality TV levels of makeup actually felt like. And no E! Network inspired look would be complete without some in your face contour, courtesy of the Clarins Colours Of Brazil Summer Bronzing Compact.

Finally, I overdrew and filled in my lips using the Smashbox Always Sharp Lip Liner in Nude Fair, and wore the Estée Lauder Pure Color lipstick in F9 Mauve Struck. I also exaggerated my eyebrows even further with my Shiseido Natural Eybrow Pencil in BR 704.

Initially I thought the base, despite being so heavy (for me), looked really good in photographs, but when I looked at them on a proper screen, I was horrified. I didn't know my skin was capable of looking so textured and rough! As for the eye-look, I think it's perfectly wearable, however, it would probably crease fast on my oily lids, and look worse for wear sooner rather than later. Something I'd definitely not do if I were to actually wear a look like this out, is lining the waterline. No matter what eyeliner I use, I get a headache after half an hour of wear, which makes my entire face droop because I'm in pain. I really like the effect it gives, but I cannot deal with it in real life, only pictures.

The hardest things to wash off were the Kiko cream eyeshadow and the Revlon eyeliner. Those are some seriously waterproof/water resistant formulas! I love and have almost used up the light lavender shade I also got, it's a great base shadow, and while I love the charcoal green, I never reach for it. It's just so dramatic, such a statement, and I really don't have any occasions in my diary to break out a look like that (sigh), which is why I really enjoyed playing with it.

Think of this as an inspiration, fantasy look. I had fun creating it, I don't regret a thing, and will most likely wear a toned down version of this look to ring in 2017!


Monday, December 26, 2016

Empties Vol. 2- Rituals, The Body Shop, Lumene, Trader Joe's

I don't know why I do this to myself. I have these ideas of grandeur, of treating my content as investigative journalism, when it's only beauty musings and nothing at all serious. Because I don't receive or purchase vast quantities of product, in order for me to form and opinion and compare an appropriate amount of products, it takes a long time, years, to go through them, by which time I'm overwhelmed. I wish I could just buy something, comment on it and move on, but oh no, I collect trash for over a year and THEN possibly write about it.

It frustrates me when I have empty tins and bottles laying around, and also, when there's something I'm still using that's so close to being empty, so close, and feel anxious about waiting for it to be gone to include it in my stupid empties. But no, not this time. I'm going to share with you products I've used up, some of them a very long time ago, and will try to not care, that next week, there might be another bottle empty, that would have fit into this lineup.

As if my first empties didn't teach me anything, primarily, that stockpiling trash is not the wisest behaviour, I again have a large bag full of empty beauty stuff, that I should have gotten rid of ages ago. In order to not cry and pretend this pile doesn't exist, I've split the contents into a few categories. Today, I'll talk about body care etc.

The reason I've put off writing about these things is that nothing here is neither terrible nor great, everything is okay. My logic was to keep trying similar products until I came up with something I did love so that I could recommend that in place of these, but it hasn't really happened, and it might not for anther year, but holding on to this stuff any longer is ridiculous.

I had been using The Body Shop scrubs and body butters for years and while I like the formulas, I don't have a scent that I really like, they all smell a bit artificial and strong to me. Around a year and a half ago I started noticing the brand Rituals, which has a higher price point, but really nice looking packaging and an overall pleasing aesthetic. First, I tried the Sakura Scrub and Foaming Shower Oil (same idea as the L'Occitane one). I quite enjoyed the scent at the store, but in practice, the more I smelled it, the less I liked it. There are notes that for some reason just feel too intrusive. To me the Sakura line smells exactly like a Japanese soft drink with bits of aloe in it. I also tried the Tao Wai Wang and Himalaya scrubs. They have more scents but most of the ones I haven't tried were ones that I could tell immediately I wouldn't like (they were too reminiscent of the inside of a crystal and yoga shop).

I hadn't tried oil, sugar and salt based scrubs before Rituals, and I was quite excited about potentially finding something more natural to have in rotation, but actually, the scrub I liked the best, was one that had none of the above, the Tao Wai Wang. I felt like the sugar and salt melted immediately upon application and did little to nothing to exfoliate my skin. I didn't like the oil medium because it left a residue and I felt like whatever dead skin did come off, would stick to the oily film on my skin and not wash off. My favourite scent was the Himalaya, it was truly like a spa experience, invigorating and relaxing, however, if you, like me, shave in the shower or have any micro cuts on your skin, using a salt scrub in excruciating! The Wai Wang is a creamy formula with ground scubby bits, which works really well to exfoliate and washes off nicely. The scent however is meh.

I also tried Rituals' mini room fragrances, in Spring Garden, Lotus Secret and Under a Fig Tree. The last one, though empty, is still in my bathroom, keeping up appearances. The fig is an interesting, more masculine scent (it also comes in a brown bottle unlike the other two). My overall favourite would probably be the fresh smelling Spring Garden. Lotus Secret smells exactly like the Wai Wang scrub, I neither like nor dislike it, which means I just don't particularly care for white lotus.

I like these little room scents, I like the look and attention to detail they add to a space, but they're quite expensive for how quickly they run out. It's a water and alcohol based formula, and they claim one will last for 2 weeks. You can stretch it to 3-4 weeks by neglecting to flip the skewers over, but if you want that intense fragrance, I actually think you would run out in 7-10 days. The fragrances themselves are nicely curated, they're complex and not overpowering. I'm sensitive to scent and none of these gave me a headache. I will however be taking a break from purchasing these, mostly for budget reasons. I've kept the bottles and will try to experiment with making my own for now.

I haven't really fallen in love with anything I've tried from Rituals, but I like their aesthetic enough to keep trying their line here and there.

A while ago The Body Shop came out with their Spa Of The World collection, and I tried the Dead Sea Salt Scrub and the Camellia Body Butter. These were the nicest Body Shop jars I've ever had, really lovely packaging. I LOVE the scent of the scrub, it's so beautiful, but I have the same problem with the formula as I did with the scrubs from Rituals. It didn't feel exfoliating and the oily film left of the skin just feels really uncomfortable to me. I have the opposite opinion of the Camellia Body Butter. Immediately, it feels like any other Body Shop body butter, but it absorbs very quickly and leaves next to no residue, I really enjoyed that, but the scent, while nice when I tried it in store, was so much stronger in reality. I couldn't sleep after applying this before bed, because the smell was so disturbingly strong. So, while the formula was nice, the headaches and insomnia were not. I wouldn't reach for either of these again any time soon.

Then I tried the Lumene Arctic Spa Body Butter, which was just okay. I can't recall what fragrance it had, if any. All I can tell you is that it was average in terms of moisturizing, the lid would twist on in a very flimsy manner, feeling quite cheap, while the product, for 100ml, was quite the opposite of cheap. If it cost around or under 5€, I might recommend it for travel, as it fits the limit nicely, and it's about enough product to last you two weeks, so think holiday. Otherwise, no, would not recommend.

And finally, whilst in the US a few months back, I picked up Trader Joe's Coconut Body Butter. Typically a body moisturizer will last me around a month, so if I'm traveling for more than a week, I'll definitely need more than the hand luggage 100ml allowance will last me. I'd heard about Trader Joe's body butters on YouTube quite a bit. As it happened, there was a Trader Joe's a block away from my hotel in New York, so that was literally my first destination after checking in. I really like the packaging, the way the lid flips open, so you needn't fuss about with greasy fingers trying to close it when you're done. It's a nice formula, nothing amazing, and the scent is like sweet yoghurt, it doesn't smell of coconut to me. I'd definitely buy it again when in the US. It's a great price point for what it is, and if you go through body moisturizers as quickly as I do, you'll appreciate a product that works and doesn't cost an arm and a leg to replenish.

So that about rounds up this post. There will be more empties/mini review categories to come, albeit probably not before 2017, but I do promise to make an effort and not drag old trash into the new year. Hope your holidays were peaceful, and let's hope the new year will be kinder.


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Holy grail, super pale foundation hunt vol. 2

I found myself glancing at my current foundations, including ones I've meant to talk about for a while (ahem, a year), and realised I was actually running dangerously low. So, If I don't stop the EF procrastinating, soon, there won't be anything left to show.

I made a point, nay, my mission, to try and get a hold of as many samples of foundations not available to me here during my trip to the US last year, as possible. Ok, I'm exaggerating, getting too many samples is a recipe for disaster, but there were the couple cult foundations that could possibly suit my ghostly skin, that I simply had to investigate.

As I was returning my Laura Mercier foundation to Nordstrom, the one that had successfully made a Transatlantic trip, twice, I got their oil free tinted moisturizer to try, which was way too dark and orange, as well as the Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation in Alabaster (00).

During a separate run to Sephora, I was drawn in by the Marc Jacobs counter. I'd never heard of his line as being an option for the milky skinned, but there they were, the Genius Gel and Re(marc)able foundations in Ivory Light 10. Oh-mer-gawd. Like Anna Karenina and Vronskiy, the attraction was unreasonable, law-defying and fantastic. Fair, bagey-yellow... Resisting was useless. Since I didn't know anything about his foundations, which skin type for which foundation etc, I asked for a sample of both.

Long story short, the Genius Gel and Bobby Brown Skin behaved almost identically on my skin. Next to no coverage, they settled in lines and pores forming white dots and left a film-like layer of grease on my skin. Not a pretty look. The shade match was pretty much useless taking into account the near indistinguishable coverage and they felt uncomfortable, tight and a bit suffocating on the skin. So that's three foundations down, three to go.

Let's go back in time to a few weeks before my trip. I found myself on a ferry standing in front of the L'Oréal counter. Weird, I know. But something had intrigued me. I have a particular disdain for drugstore brands because of how much more expensive they are here than in the US, UK etc. They're never the steal I know they are in other countries with a bigger market, while luxury/department store brands tend to have a more level price point everywhere in the world. Secondly, the complexion products always start at the third, fourth or fifth lightest shade! It's absurd! The foundations always look like putting liquid bronzer all over my face... Until now that is.

I knew they must make lighter shades, but I'd never seen them in the wild. Here in front of me however, was the L'Oréal True Match foundation in 1R/1C Rose Ivory. It wasn't cheap by any means, but the bottle had a pump and the shade was promising. I could tell it leaned really pink, but I thought if it is sheer, it wouldn't matter, or if it's a nice formula, I could mix it with something green or yellow. I won't hold you to ransom: I love this stuff.

It's the best foundation, to date, that I have tried, straight out of the bottle. Let me elaborate. It's not a perfect shade match, but it's passable. Pale skin is often darker on the face than the rest of the body. It's also more thin and red, which is why many counters mistakingly want to sell me pink/orange foundation, not seeing that from the neck down my skin is quite yellow. 1R/1C really suits SOME of the areas on my face.

It's easy to apply with fingers, brush or a sponge (decreasing in difficulty in that order). It has a satin finish on me, but it does get super greasy even after powdering about halfway through the day. I'd say it has light-medium coverage, leaning towards light on me, because my oily skin dissolves the formula more rapidly than someone with normal or dry skin.

So to recap, the shade match is just on the verge of being okay for me, the formula gets greasy, not dewy, GREASY, on me, and oh, the packaging is a tad flimsy (thin, hollow feeling plastics, and the labels are held on by a pretty bad glue), but I still love it! So much so, that a little research led me to discover there is an even lighter shade in the range, and it has a yellow undertone!

I was on a mission to find it in the US, and find it I did! I struck gold, or well, L'Oréal, in a Massachusetts Walmart, where I found the shade W1 Porcelain, for about 9$. The US packaging is pretty basic, the foundation comes in a small glass bottle with a metal lid, no pump, no stopper, nothing. But, whatever, it's the product that counts.

The shade W1 is a perfect match for me, however, it suffers from what every single pale foundation seems to. I don't know if the white powder particles aren't milled as finely or what, but W1, while a better match than 1R/1C, doesn't look as good on the skin. It too suffers from settling into lines and pores leaving white dots, and in general is much harder to blend than the pink, darker shade. It also leaves more to be desired in terms of wear as the day progresses, and ends up looking much like the above mentioned Bobbi Brown and Marc. I can make it work, but it requires effort I don't always possess in the morning, so while on paper the 1R/1C is weaker, I tend to reach for it most days and hope no one is examining me with a microscope and thinking, oh her foundation doesn't 100% match her neck, you know? It's flawed, but it's easy and effortless, which is why my bottle is almost done, and will most definitely be replaced by a new one next month.

The L'Oréal foundations are the two out of six that I own and use daily, which leaves just one, the Marc Jacobs Re(marc)able, to still talk about. Honestly, it was glorious. Amazing colour match and coverage, good wear, it got „dotty“, but it wasn't as noticeable with the higher coverage. Why don't I own it? Well, a) I don't like the packaging, it has a frosted glass bottle with a dropper (rolling my eyes...), b) it's expensive, and c) I'd just bought two full size foundations, bringing the total to 5 in my rotation, so something had to give.

I'm not sure if I want to re-purchase the W1 True Match when it's gone, even though I kind of like mixing it with 1R/1C. I'm traveling to New York in the fall, and I can't say for sure wether I will or will not get the Re(marc)able, either. I went through a rather disastrous phase with my skin, which still isn't fully recovered, last winter/spring, hell, summer too, and it's partly why I haven't contributed to this blog in a while.

When something hurts and is out of order, you just want to use products that work. You don't care about the latest, greatest and shiniest, you don't want to have all the things, just the ones that work. My makeup has been very paired down and honestly, the desire to try new things has slumped, I don't want to look for certain products anymore, I just want to use the ones I've found that work for me. I don't like rummaging through bottles and bottles of foundation, when there's only one I use primarily... You know? I think I'll most likely try and incorporate the foundations I use very rarely into some kind of routine, mix them, but not in an overwhelming matter. I love my Diorskin Forever, but it's 6 shades too dark, lovely as the formula may be, it'll never work for me the way the Re(marc)able does on its own, nor will the YSL Teint Touche Eclat, beautiful packaging and all, be as nice, for me, as the L'Oréal True Match. But I have to use them up.

So there you are, 6 new foundations, tested, 3 of which I recommend. All my porcelain ladies, hope you find something that works for you!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Kanebo Eyebrow Pencils in EB01 & EB02

Last year I was reunited with my overall favourite eyebrow pencil ever by Shiseido. You'd think after so many years apart, all I'd want to do is focus on it and not look any further. Wrong. While I'm happy to have the traditional wooden pencil as my daily go-to at home, I'd been itching to try an automatic version for overall convenience and travel. So, continuing with the theme of „the Japanese definitely know their brow game,“ I picked up the Kanebo Sensai eyebrow pencil in EB02 a few months before embarking on some lengthier travels.

Their retractible brow pencil only comes in two shades, which you're supposed to be able to customize to fit your needs depending on the amount of pressure you apply. Spoiler alert, I liked the first one so much, I got the other one too. However, I don't think the two are as universally flattering as the company promises.

While much of the look can be influenced by skin tone, eye and hair colour, I can't see the overly warm EB02 working for anyone other than cherry blondes and redheads. I have natural, light red hair and even on me it looked a tad orange, even when surrounded by my colouring, which should make the tone more subdued. There are also limits to how dark you can get it to look, I'd definitely call it a light to light medium colour. I didn't mind the look, especially in the summer. It felt light, natural and youthful (I hate that word, but it did! I pretty much felt ten years old again).

The opposite applies to EB01, which, in theory, should work for ashy blondes, but in reality, unless you want to make a „light hair, bold eyebrows“ statement, is better suited for medium dark hair. Nevertheless, I somehow did end up buying both!

The pencil itself has an unusual oval shape, which is supposed to help achieve a natural look. To be honest, for me it made it harder to achieve a natural, believable brow because of how much thicker of a stroke you're working with. This was particularly tricky with the lighter of the two because when applied on bare skin with no brow hairs, the contrast between the line and your real brows is more obvious. EB02 is also quite similar to my beloved Shiseido, so rather than re-purchase it when done, I opted for the darker EB01, so I'd have options for when I want a natural brow, a „going out“ brow or a little bit of column A and column B.

The pencils are not waterproof, but very long-wearing. They come in premium packaging (as well they should for the price!), housed in a plastic well and a nice cardboard box. As per usual, Kanebo Sensai instructions come on black silk paper, which ends up in the bin, but still feels oh so lovely to unravel for a few moments. On one end you have the retractable pencil, and on the other you'll find a spoolie (yay – Shiseido, take note).

My general objections to automatic pencils still apply – you can't get as fine of a point as with a traditional, "sharpenable" pencil; you get much less product for a significantly higher price; and the plastic housing is much more wasteful and harmful to the environment than the biodegradable wooden ones. There's no denying the convenience, especially if you're on the go and don't want to bother with lugging around a sharpener that you'll definitely lose, just when you need it. It's one less thing to think about, but I personally wouldn't use one on a daily basis. For me, a pencil like this is for travel or a special occasion, in regards to choosing the darker shade.

You get 0.2g of product and pictured is the amount you get in a brand new one, EB01, versus the EB02 I'd used regularly (but not exclusively) for about 4 months. I believe I ended up stretching it out to 5 months of use, which is a bit hard to swallow since it takes me over a year to go through the Shiseido eyebrow pencil. Again, convenience comes at a cost.

I used up the EB02 and ended up gifting the EB01 to my mom (confession – I had her buy it for me with the intention of offering her to try it out for a bit, knowing she'd love it, and giving it to her, because it's something she'd never have bought for herself). I still recommend both, especially if you can get either of the shades to work for you.

Kanebo make great „basic“ products for people who want to enhance their features and enjoy a well-made item while doing so. There's no dizzying shade ranges or loud advertising, but if you fit their profile, you'll love much of their line.  

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Empties Vol 1: favs and fails!

I've been sitting on this post since early last fall, so I feel it's rather symbolic that it should be my first one of the new year. You know, out with the old, in with the new and such. I'm going to combine two popular subjects and talk about the trash I've been saving, some of which has stuck around cluttering my space for years, and also, whether I liked it or not. There's no rhyme or reason to why I've kept these and not other tins and bottles I've gone through and discarded. It is what it is. I will be referencing older posts if I've already gone in to greater detail about some of these items, lest this post be a kilometer long. So, here we go!

1. Shiseido Instant Eye and Lip Makeup Remover

2. Lancome Bi-Facil
3. Clinique Take The Day Off Makeup Remover For Lids, Lashes and Lips
4. Bioderma Sensibio H2O and Hydrabio H20
5. Kanebo Sensai Gentle Makeup Remover for Eye and Lip
6. Chanel Démaquillant Yeux Intense

Items 1-6 were all part of my epic high-end makeup remover smackdown, which you can read all about here.

7. Vichy Aqualia Thermal crème Legere

8. Avene Antirougeurs Jour Redness Relief Moisturizing Protective Emulsion
9. Bioderma AR Crème Solaire Teintee spf50+
10. Bioderma Sensibio Eye
11. Bioderma Hydrabio Legere
12. Bioderma Hydrabio Serum
13. Vichy Aqualia Thermal Serum

I wrote about the bottles and tubes numbers 7-13 in detail in my post about French pharmacie skin care.

14. Shiseido Ibuki Protective Moisturizer

15. Balmain Volume Shampoo
16. L'Occitane Almond Shower Oil
17. Bamboo Smooth Kendi Oil Dry Oil Mist

The lovely products 14-17 all made my 2014 favourites post.

18. Matrix Vavoom Gold Heat Blow-In-Control Protective Serum
19. Kisby Dry Shampoo
20. Batiste Dry Shampoo
21. Balmain Dry Shampoo
22. Garnier Fresh Essentials Grape Toner
23. Shiseido Pureness Balancing Softener
24. Elizabeth Arden Visible Difference Gentle Hydrating Toner (for dry skin)
25. Guerlain Maxi Lash
26. Kanebo Sensai Mascara 38C Volumising
27. Kanebo Sensai Loose Powder Translucent

The Matrix serum (18) ended up in my possession after my mom got a goody bag at a beauty convention. It was actually the best out of many similar heat-protective cream products, but even so I had to force myself to use it. It felt like an extra step that didn't make a lot of difference, but at least it didn't make my hair greasy or flaky either, and it had a mild banana smell, which I liked. I'm not sure if this is even available anymore, and while I personally wouldn't purchase it, it's not a bad product if you keep something like that in your regular routine. I'd say give it a go.

As of 2014 I've decided I love dry shampoo. However, I've yet to find the one that is juuuust right. The Kisby (19) did nothing, in fact it felt like it made my hair even dirtier. The Balmain (21) did “something”, while also having a divine fragrance, but again, it didn't feel like it was actually absorbing that much oil or providing any volume. So, while it's not perfect (primarily because sometimes I suspect it gives me acne on my scalp), the many, many variations of Batiste dry shampoo (20) has so far been my favourite. It really feels refreshing and is especially useful on days that my hair is clean but my fringe no longer is, due to my oily forehead. I prefer the classic blue version.

The Garnier grape toner (22) is my go-to affordable toner. It feels refreshing and gentle, I'm fine using it on my eyelids and around my eyes, which is why the fact that it contains alcohol was quite surprising to me. I've since tried a number of high-end toners and gone back to the Garnier for now. I don't think it's perfect, but for me it's good enough when I'm bored, confused or can't think of anything new I'd care to try. The Shiseido softener (23) was the first high-end toner I tried. I really liked the packaging but I wasn't wowed by the formula. It didn't feel like it was doing much to be honest. I might revisit it at some point though. A high-end toner I did like and have re-purchased multiple times is the Elizabeth Arden (24) for dry skin. It's gentle, but still feels like it's cleansing the skin and tightening the pores, without leaving the skin dry and uncomfortable. It has a mild, pleasant scent that I enjoy. The only things I dislike about it is the lid and bottle opening, which are a bit cumbersome to use if you literally have zero counter space to unscrew, set aside, put down, pour and repeat the process in reverse. I prefer the ability to dispense product onto a cotton round with one hand, which generally means a flip cap, which most high-end products seem to have deemed too cheap of a design... Oh well.

I have a love-hate relationship with the Guerlain Maxi Lash (25). I desperately wish I loved it and that it could be my Holy Grail, believe me, but this mascara wears like garbage on me. First of all, I love, love, LOVE the packaging. It's like a bar of gold, it's ergonomic and incredibly pleasing to handle. Secondly, I love the brush. It'll feel big if your previous mascara has had a small wand, but overall it's a medium size, with lovely, no nonsense natural bristles. The brush gave me wonderful natural curl and plenty of volume. I achieved the best look after about a week of use, because at first the result was very blah – no length or volume, more like just a natural tint. The formula is absolutely terrible for me. After about an hour it would start to migrate under my eyes, and after about five, it would look like I've had it on for a week. Major, major panda-eyes. Now, you'd think since it had issues staying on my lashes it would be a breeze to remove? Oh hell no. This is the hardest formula I've ever had to remove. I would use 3 times the amount of makeup remover and take twice as long and still couldn't get all of it off. Even when I thought I'd had, I'd find more residue to following morning. I also ended up losing a lash every other night... Needless to say we were not on speaking terms by the end (not that I usually speak to my mascaras). Despite this negative review, I'm not deterred from trying it again sometime. Maybe they'll re-formulate it? Maybe the waterproof version won't smear? A girl can have a dream.

Finally, the last two products, the Kanebo Sensai 38C mascara (26) and loose powder (27) have shown up in my favs before. These are Holy Grail material! I prefer this volumising version of the mascara to the lengthening one. I totally got used to the curved want and have a new one opened in my daily routine now. The powder lasts me about a year and is an almost irreplaceable step in my daily routine. I've recently opened my third jar!

It's been a mix of everything, both good and bad, and I'm happy to end on a positive note. Hope this has been helpful. I'm not sure if I'll continue with posts like this, but then again, I myself often look for mentions of very specific products and don't always find what I'm looking for. Odds are someone else is in the same boat, so, if I've tried it and can satisfy someone else's curiosity, I will.

Cheers =)!