Thursday, May 31, 2012

Suqqu Creamy Glow Lipstick 03 Tsuyazakura

Once upon a time I thought pinks were the easiest shade to tackle for lipsticks. Our lips are pink, how hard could it be? 

Well, I now have a newfound loathing toward searching for natural-looking pink lipsticks. I just confirmed for the umpteenth time a few days ago (why I need to do this more than once is beyond me) that despite my non-adherence to the warm/cool color theory, I absolutely cannot pull off warm pinks. While doing inventory for my blog sale, I realized I should have known this long ago – I have so many barely used warm pinks in my stash. Such wanton wastage! 


That said, I'm naturally attracted to warm pinks in the tube (alas, always to the things I cannot have). When I saw Suqqu Creamy Glow Lipstick 03 Tsuyazakura alarm bells went off. It wasn't going to work, I told myself, especially after seeing the swatch. But I was at a counter and if there's anything you do there it's trying on the things you cannot get.



On my lips, Tsuyazakura turned out to be much less warmer, a neutral natural rose pink shade, so of course I got it. Lipsticks never cease to amaze me on how different they can look once actually applied. 




I've already discussed the Suqqu lipstick formula in depth (see here) and it remains to be one of the best lipsticks I've ever tried. The Creamy Glow formula delivers a rich, opaque finish that works very well especially with nude/natural shades.

Unfortunately, Suqqu products are not available for retail in the States. I purchased mine at Selfridges in London when I visited some months ago. For those who absolutely have to get their hands on it, there's ichibankao.com, but at highly marked up rates.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Le Métier de Beauté Splendid Frost

I learned this past weekend that the tiring bit about moving lies more in unpacking than the actual shifting of things. I'm beginning to realize that I have way too much stuff but they're good stuff so I'm reluctant to throw them out, and the result is a sort of despair at all these nice but useless things I have piled up around me. 

But I know if I don't start getting rid of things my apartment would be just one step away from an episode of Hoarders, so I'm in the midst of taking photos for a blog sale. I have plenty of very gently used makeup waiting for new homes.

In the meantime, here's a quick peek at my all time favorite Le Métier de Beauté eye kaleidoscope. I talk about Splendid Frost very often but I've never featured it here. I'm quite aware that a lot of you might hate me after this, because this is absolutely sold out everywhere. But pretty makeup is pretty makeup, and though it's from a couple of years ago, it still deserves to be seen.


The colors from top to bottom are a taupe, a matte gray, a light pink, and a shimmering midnight blue. When combined, it's a soft smokey eye that works for any occasion imaginable. I've worn it to work, school, photo shoots, dates, interviews, and most recently, my graduation. (Also, it is a testament to the stellar pigmentation of Le Métier de Beauté eye shadows that my most-used eye kit still looks barely touched.)




Lips: Guerlain Porto Ercole

I've been asked if I could recommend dupes from the permanent line to recreate the kit, but sadly I couldn't think of anything similar. I also forgot what I wore on my cheeks, which is unfortunate because I'm kind of obsessed with it.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Lipstick Bandits: Summer Brights

The happiest of days are Lipstick Bandit days, and today we are tackling summer brights. It's a topic Larie and I have been raving about since our last post and of course by now I've already blogged about most of my favorite brights of the season (NARS Mexican Rose and Moscow, for example).

But if there's anything to be expected from lipstick, it's that you can never run out of great ones!

My pick is more about formula than color, though it's pretty amazing on that front too. I first tried Shiseido's 'Perfect Rouge' Lipstick line a few weeks ago, and I believe I exclaimed (to myself, because I talk about makeup to myself that way) "why did I wait so long?!" and shook my head laughing. I love getting pleasant surprises. 


L-R: Shiseido Perfect Rouge PK417, OR418

I think the Japanese has lips down pat when it comes to formula. These remind me of Suqqu lipsticks (less creamy) but are infinitely more accessible. It goes on with the feel of a sheer lipstick but is actually opaque and lasts way longer. If there is any consolation to falling asleep with my makeup on, it's knowing that the lipstick I applied six hours before is still completely intact when I wake up (yay involuntary makeup testing!). The formula is scent-free, taste-free, and moisturizing as well. I don't remember the last time I found so much win in one lipstick.

Below I'm showing you the two colors I mysteriously found in my stash. PK417 is a neutral light pink and OR418 is an orange with strong yellow undertone.

PK417


OR418


The best part? Shiseido 'Perfect Rouge' Lipsticks retail for $25, which is not inexpensive by itself, but less of a shocker compared to half the things I rave about.


As usual, the best part of Lipstick Bandit posts is finding out what everyone else picked, so mosey on over:

Friday, May 25, 2012

Bite High Pigment Matte Pencil in Pomegranate


This is completely not in season but really, what is anymore? Last I heard dark wine lips are in (for fall, but people are already wearing it now. At some point I need to stop thinking anything is "in" anymore). The Bite High Pigment Matte Pencil in Pomegranate may not be dark, but it's another one of those easy-to-apply reds, and I will be terribly remiss if I waited till blue-red lips are "appropriate" to show it to you.

L-R: Bite Pomegranate, Guerlain Rouge G Garconne


I mean, just look at that. 



While Bite calls this a matte pencil, I don't find it particularly so. While not glossy per se, the finish reminds me of licked lips. Bite's also not joshing around on the "high pigment" front. This is a one swiper. I would be really afraid of making mistakes with this (not that the pencil makes it easy to. In fact, I'd say it'll take effort to mess it up) just because it leaves such a stain - but that usually also means the color's going to last forever.

(This review is kind of hard to write because my soulmate Rae has already written a perfect one, see here.)

Bite High Pigment Matte Pencil in Pomegranate retails for $24 and is available at Sephora.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Chantecaille Tiger in the Wild Palette


It astonishes me that of all their past palettes, Chantecaille Tiger in the Wild is the only one still available. If anything I would have thought it would be the first to go. I own three Chantecaille seasonal   palettes (the other two are the New Classics palette and Sea Turtle palette) and saw/swatched a few others throughout the years. You quickly see a very clear pattern emerging when looking at the palettes. The colors they use are always neutral and demure, and fall under what we would usually think of as "universal."

Chantecaille's 4-pan palettes usually include a highlight/base shade, a main eye shade, a liner shade, and a cheek shade. Tiger in the Wild contains a shimmering cream, light taupe, deep grape, and pink coral blush.


Below, I applied Tiger in the Wild in the most basic way possible. I applied the highlighter/base shade all over my lids and under the brow bone, then applied the taupe shade on the lid area. With the Shu Uemura 10F brush, I winged out the deep grape liner shade, and used a pointed brush to target the color on the crease. 





I remember way back when I didn't know much about Chantecaille, all I heard was they had great eyeshadows. People raved about its softness and how smooth it felt, how easy it was to blend. I largely agree - Chantecaille shadows definitely feel good on the skin, but sometimes softness isn't a good thing. While easy to apply, I kicked up a lot of excess shadow when dipping my liner brush (usually stiffer than regular eyeshadow brushes) into the grape shade. While it applied beautifully to my upper lash line, I had to clean up the resulting fallout.

I'm aware that I'm nitpicking. After all, the shadows are buttery, the color choices spot on, the design is quite amazing, and the pans are huge. I personally think Tiger in the Wild is Chantecaille's best palette so far.

Chantecaille Tiger in the Wild Palette retails for $78 and is still available on chantecaille.com.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Full Contouring Tutorial

One of the earlier posts I wrote on Messy Wands was a mini contouring tutorial using NARS Multiples. I called it "mini" because it wasn't complete - I only demonstrated how to shade the cheeks, while contouring can involve the entire face. With summer quickly approaching, my makeup routine is now as simple as my clothing choices. I've been wearing less and less, and the contoured look is one of my stalwarts for something quick, easy, and effective. 

As I mentioned in said mini tutorial, contouring is about manipulating light (or what we perceive as light/shadow) to make your features more pronounced. We have in our makeup arsenal highlighters or luminizers that has light reflecting properties, or powders one shade lighter than your skin tone to give a similar effect, and bronzers to deepen your skin tone to mimic shadow. When used together, it gives dimension to an otherwise flat face (in my case quite literally, which is why I like to contour my nose).  

Below is a guide to how I contour my face, with the hope that it proves helpful to you.

Bare face, with shaded brows, CdP Concealer in Ochre and LMdB Peau Vierge #2


I shade according to the lines in the photo above: 
1. The area below the cheeks
2. The temples
3. The sides along the nose into the eyebrows
4. Along the jawline

L-R: bare face, contoured face

Contoured face

Contoured + blush



As for materials, you can use any texture you like, though I am partial to powders. There are dedicated contouring products out there (like the MAC Studio Sculpt line) but it is likely that you already have everything you need in your hands. You could use blushes or bronzers that are a couple shades darker than your skin tone – my personal favorite is Burberry Earthy.

Suqqu Balancing Eyebrow in Moss Green, Burberry Sheer Summer Glow Palette

For this particular post, I used Burberry Sheer Summer Glow Palette for most of my face, and the Suqqu Balancing Eyebrow palette for the contouring down the sides of the nose (I love that the palette has a dedicated shade just for that purpose!). To enhance the contours, I place highlighter down the center of the nose and the top of the cheekbones as well.

Top-Bottom: Suqqu Powder Brush, Hakuhodo 210 Blush Brush, Suqqu Eyeshadow Brush L

Hakuhodo 210 Blush Brush

Much of a good contouring experience lies in the brushes you use. It is important to blend the color into the skin while maintaining a defined line, so while your brushes should be soft (bonus points for comfort) it should also retain a firm shape. I've tried a few, such as Shu Uemura 20H (slanted cheek), Hakuhodo S103 (pointed blush brush), and the MAC 109 (rounded blush brush), which is similar to my HG, the Hakuhodo 210 Blush Brush. All are effective and depends on what you personally prefer. I like the rounded shape for the density and firmness, and prefer the Hakuhodo over the MAC due to the softness of the bristles. I also like to use the Suqqu Eyeshadow Brush L where precision is needed (like the sides of the nose). 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I'm Back! + Deborah Lippmann Ray of Light

It is odd to be back in the fray after one of the most decadent weeks I've had in a very long time. I graduated on Monday (where Bobbi Brown accepted an honorary degree! Random trivia: Bobbi Brown went to Emerson College as an undergraduate), and brought my parents around New York, Niagara Falls, and took a (sort of embarrassing but super fun) Segway tour through Washington, DC. I wanted to look at more memorials (other fun facts: I actually have a minor in Visual Studies and the Arts and took a class on urban public art in my final year) and visit more museums and was really excited to see all those works I've only studied on screen and paper, but alas my family was less amused by twisted colored metal and odd shapes on the grass. Perhaps I'll return to DC anon. It is architecturally a breathtaking city.

After my parents left, I spent the entire weekend quite guiltily indulging in, well, fun that I haven't had time to have for the earlier part of the year. I spent the past two days in equal amounts of playing Diablo III, watching Mad Men, and reading The Clash of Kings: A Song of Ice and Fire. Imagine my alternating fist pumps to killing decayed monsters, Peggy Olsen (and goodness I want to move like Christina Hendricks), and crying "Winter is coming!!" to the stubborn warring kings. It was such a good weekend, but once school ends vacations become short. And unemployed graduates need to find jobs (sigh).

I figured a quick one will do after a week of absence, and I checked to make sure this was still available before I posted it. Deborah Lippmann Ray of Light is part of their spring release, an intriguing confection of indigo navy polish with what looks like copper flakies in the bottle.

A shot to show how it looks in the bottle

On application and closer inspection, the flakies are actually red/orange/yellow/green, though when directly in the light it reflects copper. The indigo navy base is jelly-ish, and the formula seems to be thicker than usual, so it was not a breeze to apply. It requires two coats for full opacity.



I received many compliments when wearing this color, and wore it a full five days with nary a chip. It's one of the more intriguing colors that came out for spring, and if you don't mind suffering a little during application (and have an ardent weakness for flakies), I say get it before it's gone!

Deborah Lippmann Ray of Light retails for $18 and can still be found on nordstrom.com and neimanmarcus.com.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

I just wanted to let you guys know there won't be any updates this week! My parents are here in the States for my commencement (on Monday! What to wear! What makeup! How should I do my hair!) and I'm being the dutiful tour guide. Just before that picture was taken, we were on the Brooklyn Bridge, smiling into the sun. I hope you guys have a great week ahead while my family conquers the Northeast!

Love,
Xiao

NARS Summer 2012: Liberté Blush


NARS released just one cheek product for summer, the fiery orange Liberté Blush. While it looks scarily bright in the pan, it actually applies as a much softer color, which you can build in intensity if desired. It is easier than I thought it would be to use, perhaps because when applied, the color leans closer to red than orange on the skin. The texture is NARS at its best.




There is something I struggle with every time NARS releases a seasonal collection. I want it all. Immediately. But their products are really seasonal to me, as in I'll use them for three months and never touch them again. With the advent of having to move again (I've moved house so often in the past four years that all I want to do now is stay at the same spot for the next decade or so), I am starting to question the size of my makeup stash and the rationality of my purchases.

I've had pieces from the summer collection for three weeks now, and after the initial excitement wore off, I can safely say I could have done without the Ramatuelle Trio and Liberté Blush, nice as they are. How bad is it that I started this post wanting to write about the blush only to conclude that the lipstick remains a much more exciting topic? Love that shade.

NARS Liberté Blush retails for $34 and is available at narscosmetics.com.

Friday, May 11, 2012

NARS Summer 2012: Vendanges Sheer Lipstick


I secretly love beauty companies that break "color rules," i.e. pink for spring, bronzers for summer, red for fall/winter. While NARS served up plenty of traditional summer hues in their most recent collection, they sneaked in little surprises that threw me off, like the Vendanges Sheer Lipstick, and for that I am grateful. 



Vendanges is a sheer grape shade that could be layered for a deeper effect, as shown in the swatch picture above. NARS lipsticks are quite comfortable to wear, and the Sheer Lipstick formula even more so. I couldn't feel it on my lips, even while I was applying it! Vendanges is scent and taste free.

Eyes: LMdB Splendid Frost

Since it is so sheer, Vendanges ends up being wearable even though it is usually classified as a fall shade. After all, one can only wear orange/coral/hot pink for so long before itching for something more demure.

NARS Vendanges Sheer Lipstick retails for $24 and is available at all NARS counters and narscosmetics.com. Curiously, it hasn't appeared at my local Sephora yet (they usually get there a lot earlier) but it should any day now!
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