Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Review: e.l.f. Essential Liquid Eyeliner

Last week I took out some time to try out e.l.f.'s liquid eyeliners and I am quite happy with the results. When I first got the liquid eyeliners and I did the swatches, I had a decent idea of what to expect (based on the fine tip brush alone) but I have to say, the staying power surprised me. Unfortunately I did not take the "8 Hours Later" picture because I got busy but here are the morning shots along with some comments.

In this picture I am wearing the black liquid eyeliner from e.l.f. (and I have on Tarte's Lights, Camera, Lashes! mascara) and that's it. The eyeliner held it's own and didn't need much touching up. Given the fine point of the brush that comes with it, it was very easy to control and overall made me quite happy.

At the end of the day it didn't quite have the same sheen however it held up very nicely, retaining the colour and definition. I'm almost tempted to buy a few more and keep them in my random makeup bags because I've been that impressed by the black liquid eyeliner.

In comparison to the teal, the formula wasn't as watery and therefore not as runny. I can reiterate here that yes, this means better control, better lines, better overall except what worries me is that how do I know when the brush is going to be thick or fine? See for the teal and plum eyeliner, the brushes were much thicker than the black's fine tip which lends itself to brand uncertainty as there isn't consistency. Aside from my own worry about this, the e.l.f. eyeliner is great but it just needs to be this great every single time.

In this picture this is not just the plum liquid liner. If you refer back to my posts about the swatches, you'll note that given the brush it doesn't distribute the liquid evenly creating a parallel line on my lids. Which is not a look I was going for. In order to close the gap, I used the pencil eyeliner in electric purple, which is a tad bit brighter than the plum.

The pencil eyeliner really made the eyeliner pop giving a vibrant appearance. But the liquid eyeliner cannot hold it's own so you will probably have to get a pencil or something that will fill in the gaps.

Together they lasted the entire day. Since the pencil eyeliner lent a smudgy appearance, I can't really say that this combination's definition held up but at the very least the colour did. Even if it was all on the Electric Purple. There was much more control with the plum eyeliner but still a bit lacking.



Product: Essential Liquid Eyeliner in Black
Price: $1
Would Recommend? Yes, with caution though.
Takeaway: Great eyeliner overall as it is long lasting, easy to apply, easy to take off, and the colour is long lasting. The caution is just the fact that the tip of the brush may be a gamble and if you get the right one then you're good; if you don't then you may have issues applying it.

Product: Essential Liquid Eyeliner in Plum
Price: $1
Would Recommend? No.
Takeaway: Doesn't hold up on it's own; problems with the brush means that it ends up creating parallel lines. It heavily depends on complementary liners to fill it out.

Monday, December 26, 2011

No SOPA

A few days ago I decided to install the No SOPA Chrome extension because I figured that I should be paying more attention to who I support or not. I hadn't really seen it action so I thought that perhaps it wasn't working, especially since I was working to update some links on this blog. I was updating a L'Oréal eyeshadow link and everything was working fine till I realized I couldn't find the exact product I was looking for. So rather than going to the L'Oréal Paris USA site, I went to the L'Oréal direct site. The No SOPA warning popped up on loreal.com and I was a bit annoyed. But this has definitely effected how I shop -- this has effected how I look at products. Earlier today I was in Target and while I love perusing the aisles of makeup, I was mentally telling myself to skip both L'Oréal and Revlon given their stance on SOPA.

I'm not going to apologize for my stance and I'm not going to go on a tirade about boycotting these products, because let's face it, there's a lot of companies that are all for this SOPA/PIPA nonsense. You can't boycott them all, but you can call them up and you can make some decisions that let them know that you are not okay with their stance.
So what does this mean for the blog? It means I need to stop browsing CVS and Walgreens for cheap makeup to test and get back into the habit of taking up space at Sephora. Why? Because below are just some of the very few companies that support SOPA. So I'll use what I have but until they get their act in order, I'll kindly avoid them. I'll continue reviewing any older products I have from these places but that's about. 
The most sad part of this though is that the Disney Company also supports SOPA. That is a hard one to break away from. :(

But. No SOPA and no PIPA means a lot more.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Black Eyeliner

You might have noticed that I'm a bit addicted to eyeliner (and possibly mascara, but I might just be too discerning about it for it to be an addiction). In particular, I love black eyeliner and this obsession goes back into my teenage years when I mostly dabbled in what is now referred to as "raccoon eyes" which was then known as "being goth." Over time I've grown to love the natural look and once in a while I'll toss in a cat eye. Consider it a nod to my past.

Or maybe it was a nod to Bollywood. See my fascination trully lies in the use of kohl (kajal) however the supplies around here are quite limited. How often do you see a real stick of kajal around? There's two that I know of and that's the Guerlain Terracotta Khôl Kajal and Givenchy Magic Kajal Eye Pencil. I'm not really interested in the latter but I really want the former. I've been trying to curb myself and not get it, but with the sadness induced by L'Oreal Voluminous Smoldering Eyeliner not working, I may just be tempted. But this wasn't the point of this post.

See a few years ago I went to Egypt with my family and we had the chance to purchase kohl. Yep, they are still wrapped and I have never used them. Sure, I think about it but then I just leave them alone and attack the black eyeliners that I have on hand. Because the quest isn't over seeing that I have procured kohl.

It's all about getting the right blend.

Sure I can pretty much hold a mirror in my left hand and proceed to put on eyeliner with my right (basically, I have the routine down that I can easily apply eyeliner with one hand). But can it last all day? Will the pigmentation hold? Will my exotic looking eyes remain exotic?! I jest about that last part. Later on I'm hoping to try out a few different cat eye techniques but for now, I leave you with what I deem to be the best so far when it comes to black eyeliners.

Pencil Eyeliners:
  1. Lancôme Le Crayon Khôl ($24.50) -- Since I was allowed to start wearing makeup, this has always been in my collection. It was perhaps the first and only pencil eyeliner my mom ever gave me and it has been the best. 
  2. Sephora Nano Eyeliner ($5)
  3. Stila Convertible Eye Color ($22)
Cream Eyeliners:
  1. L'Oreal HiP Studio Secrets Professional Color Truth Cream Eyeliner (Retail: $10.19)
Liquid Eyeliners:
  1. tokidoki Perfetto Eyeliner ($16)
  2. e.l.f. Essentials Liquid Eyeliner ($1 in black)
Eyeshadow:
  1. Kat Von D True Romance Eyeshadow Palette - Beethoven: ($34) Lucifer (matte charcoal black)
  2. L'Oréal Studio Secrets Professional Eye Shadow Singles (Retail: $4.48) Lush Raven
For the pencil, cream, and liquid eyeliners, they are not waterproof so keep that in mind if you're looking to do your waterline; that has been part of my everlasting quest. All of them hold up well over a long day and are great as far as control and pigmentation. I can happily say that for all of the eyeliners, these are my staples and I adore them. 

I put the eyeshadow there in case you were looking for something that strengthens the black a bit. I wish that Kat Von D's Lucifer was sold separately because I love it however a long time ago it broke off my palette so I depotted it elsewhere. I use the L'Oreal eyeshadow when the Lucifer isn't readily available and it works well. Sometimes after I put on the pencil eyeliner I will go over it with a bit of eyeshadow to darken it especially since it usually isn't as fine of a line if were to use the liquid eyeliner.

Cream eyeliners, as usual, require a good brush in order to get either a fine line or to make it a bit more thicker, which is essence tends to give it a smudgier look.

Usually I am trying to go for a clean look so I'll use the liquid or cream eyeliner and then fill in with pencils. Either way, I've noticed that no liner stands alone and it's nice to have them accentuate one another. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips

Admittedly every time I have seen these in the store I glanced over them and wished that the yellow undertones of my skin wouldn't just devour all the colour, thus rendering the palette useless. This has been one of the things that always gets to me. See I know that talk has been that the PF Nude Eyes Shimmer Strips is a decent dupe of the Urban Decay Naked palette, so long as you use a primer. I also always figured that neither of them would work out well for me, but I figured (after a refreshingly long day) that I would try anyway. But before I could work my way up to the actual Naked palette, I should probably try out a dupe. Because eyeshadows and I have never gotten along very well. 

Well, no swatches here needed mostly because with or without a primer, the majority of the palette disappeared on me.

Let's start with the Nude palette. That's the one on the bottom, adorned in black lace with a pink bow (and says "Nude" along the top but I do want to mention that the packaging is quite cute).

If you're not familiar with the packaging then here's the way to look at it, 9 colours, divided into groups of 3. Each 3 represent a certain look that you could be aiming for. So taking the Nude palette the first is trio #3 which is dramatic, the second being playful, and the third being natural.

Natural (the three on the right of the Nude palette) vanished on me. When I tried to do swatches on my hands and wrists, the colour vanished leaving a bit of shimmer. Next up was Playful which was the group in the center which also vanished on me. The last trio was dramatic and that actually did show up on me! Problem being that I already know that black will show up on my skin, even a nice accentuating dark brown will show up. So, I'm not disappointed, nor am I surprised. It verified what I already knew; my skin hates these colours.

Next up was the Eye Candy Collection for Brown Eyes (top palette) and the trios break down in the same manner. The results were a little bit different but not by much. Natural and Dramatic didn't really show up, however the Playful trio did but that was because of the purple shade. Once again, I was not surprised nor disappointed however... and this is important... the box does recommend that you try it out as either wet or dry so my lack of disappointment was further held off.

Everything above was written for the dry application as well as over a primer. I did, in one last ditch attempt, try out the eyeshadows while they were wet. Judging by how they went on dry, I decided to experiment with the Eye Candy collection because the shades were darker and if there were any difference to be seen between dry and wet eyeshadows, the Eye Candy collection would show it.

I played around with the Playful and Dramatic trio (so that's the 6 shades that are found on the left of the top palette) and they really did pop. They blended well and the colours just kind of came alive. But that does mean that while there was a bit more colour, there wasn't a lot (consider the shade and my skin tone). The things that worried me was longevity and what would happen after a full day of wearing it. It didn't come around to that. After 2 hours, the Dramatic trio slowly faded, leaving behind minute clumps of where the wet eyeshadow was applied. So my suspicions were confirmed; these palettes will not work for me; neither wet or dry. But at least I finally tried it!



Product: Shimmer Strips Custom Eye Enhancing Shadow & Liner, Universal Looks, Nude Eyes
Price: $11.79 at CVS
Would Recommend? No
Takeaway: Although I have read reviews about how this is decent dupe for Naked, the colours just don't do anything for me.

Product: Shimmer Strips Custom Eye Enhancing Shadow & Liner, Eye Candy Collection
Price: $10.99 at CVS
Would Recommend? No
Takeaway: While using them wet will get the colours to really come out, after an hour it turns out to be a bit cakey. When they are dry, the colours of this palette also has nothing to offer.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Major Players: Brushes

I admit that I definitely have a lot of brushes. But I promise that there's sound reasoning behind this.


If you haven't noticed, I am quite the sucker for EcoTools. Lately I've been feeling a bit experimental so I just got the Sonia Kashuk Highlighting Brush as well as the Spoolie so I won't be able to offer much information about them.  

Skipping the brushes on the left, let's take a look at the brushes in the center. These are my blush brushes and the three of them have been fantastic. There are two EcoTools blush brushes; one from the Alicia Silverstone line and the other is just the standard 6 piece set (note that all of the brushes from this set has the pink paint at the bottom of the handle). The hot pink brush (angled blush brush) is from Sephora, specifically the I.T. Collection. While this one has never shed in use, it has shed when I washed it. It is fair to note that  my EcoTools have never shed -- not even those that I've had for over two years. The three of them are equally great in use and I have yet to come across any cons -- in fact the EcoTools Blush Brush in the center (with the pink paint at the bottom is 2 years old. It hasn't stiffened, doesn't shed (none of them have actually), and overall continues to be a great performer. Why do I have three? It's the same reason I have more than one foundation brush; when it's time for them to be cleaned, I need another brush. Generally my apartment is too cold for brushes to dry overnight. So instead I will wash them once a week, if not sooner.

To the right are my current foundation brushes. Like the blush brushes, I cycle them as I use and wash them. The Sonia Kashuk Highlighting Brush (furthest right, white handle) is the one that I want to love but I seem to keep finding issues with. When I washed it, it shed and it even shed during first use. Luckily I use powder foundation so it's not bothersome, but still worth noting that it has this tendency. It does not retain as much powder as other brushes and provides weak coverage. The retractable kabuki is from Ulta and I've had it for two years and while I wish I could say it's retains it's softness, it definitely has not. And it was due to the accidental poking of the bristles that I realized that I needed to upgrade. I still do use it on occasion, but I'll probably phase that one out. As for my beloved Finish Brush (EcoTools by Alicia Silverstone) I have no complaints. I adore it.

Back to the left now, there's quite a mix going on. 
  • The brush in the far left is the Sephora Retractable Lip Brush which is great when you're on the go. It's primary use for me is when I'm feeling brave enough to try a red lipstick, but not strong enough to harness it's red power. Great brush, I've had it for a year and it holds up well. It does feel flimsy at times, but it has endured the pain that is my makeup bag.
  • The four of those bamboo handles are all EcoTools: Angled Eye Shadow brush (Alicia Silverstone), Eye Shading brush, Angled Eyeliner (which I use all the time), and a Concealer brush. I don't get much use out of the majority of these but the Angled Eyeliner is my favourite. It is however two years old and dealt with a lot of gel and cream eyeliners which means that it's slowly loosing form. The Angled Eyeliner is also slowly being phased out and it is being replaced by the Sephora eyeliner brush.
  • That bright blue brush is the I.T. Angled Eyeliner brush from Sephora which I haven't tried just yet. >_<
  • Lash and Brow Groomer from EcoTools which I never use. 
  • Sonia Kashuk Spoolie (about $3 at Target) that I haven't used yet but got so that when I have issues with my mascara, I don't have to dip the brush again and run the risk of building mascara unnecessarily on my lashes.
So here's my thoughts in a nutshell (or bullet points):
  1. EcoTools is fantastic. Doesn't shed, soft (I'd say it's rather plush) and stays that way even after 2 years. Overall a great set of brushes especially considering how cheap they are.
  2. The Sephora I.T. (angled blush brush) is fantastic and I can even happily say that even with the light shedding that occurred when I washed it, I'm still very happy with it's performance.
  3. Sonia Kashuk, maybe it's my luck with this particular brush but I am not impressed. It was a waste of my money to be honest. 
  4. Ulta Retractable, well, I'd say skip it. It seems rather convenient but I'm sure there are other brushes out there that can do what this one does.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

e.l.f. Eyes in Teal

I haven't attempted to wear this on an outing however I was quite excited to try it out. I so very much wanted to know how the teal since I'm used to doing darker colours rather than light. Teal was a huge step for me... but that doesn't mean I'll wear it outside. That being said, I still can't attest to the lasting power of e.l.f. but that may just be a project for this week.

Anyhow, this was done very quickly and thus not the neatest. However I present to you, e.l.f. in teal! 

Items used:

1. Studio Cream Eyeliner in Teal Tease
2. Essential Brightening Eye Liner in Teal
3. Essential Liquid Eyeliner in Teal

I started off with the use of the cream liner which was very light but I was still able to layer it in order to get the teal to show. The cream eyeliner was a bit on the dry side already but I was still able to pick up a fair amount of colour. A fair warning, the packaging for it is flimsy and it seems like it will dry out very quickly so as a precaution, I store it upside down and keep it in a ziplock bag.

Next up was Brightening Eye Liner (the pencil) which was a bit dry which means it was very hard to get it work. I got it on my upper lid and it blended very well with the cream eyeliner, offering a bit of definition to it. Overall, it works very well with the cream liner with the exception of being very dry.

 In the picture to the right, there are three strokes from the eyeliner. From the left, the first stroke is when I press down hard. The middle is with slight pressure but not much and the third is without pressure. Consider the attempt to get this eyeliner all around my eye -- I had to repeatedly go over lines and then finally just press into my eye. This was a huge pain.

The last step was to put the liquid liner over it. I do wish in retrospect that I took a picture of the first two without the liquid liner because it looked quite nice. But with the addition of the liquid liner, the teal colour really popped. But it was not without it's downfalls. The tip wasn't fine enough so the liner went on much thicker than I wanted and as a result of not having as much control as I wanted, it was a bit on the messy side. My suggestion is that if you can use another brush, do so, as it will give you much better control and not allow for a messy application.

To illustrate what I mean, to the left is the liners for the three colours I got. The top is black -- and it's perfect with the fine tip, no clumping, and when I created a swatch a few days ago there was control. The second is the plum and you can see that it's a bit thicker right away. Now take a look at the teal, please keep in mind that it arrived like this. I created a swatch a few days ago and this was the first time I actually used it. It looks old, the tip is quite thick and you might have noticed a bit of clumping. If you get a good brush then you're fine but if you end up with a problematic one like mine, use something else.

Overall, the look does seem bright and nice but it doesn't match my teal dress. >_< Seriously speaking though, this look was easy to pull off but requires a ton of patience to go over things and get the pencil eyeliner to cooperate. A bit more hassle because the cream and pencil were dry and required a lot of pressure which isn't easy for eye makeup.

I haven't tested out longevity so that is certainly forthcoming.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Reaching for that Dry Shampoo

I'm going to start by stating that I don't use "dry shampoo" at least not any of those that you can find on the shelf at a store that have purposely packaged for as such. I do however use a blend of powders to achieve the same thing.

To start with the tools that I use mostly consist of Lancôme brushes. Sorry Lancôme, I adore the company but the amount of brushes my mom had accumulated throughout the years is ridiculous. I once raided her stash and managed to get the brushes that you see in the right picture. Now I definitely don't use them all, I cycle through two at a time, alternating between washes.

As I mentioned, I use a powder so the brushes make it very easy to brush on the powder as lightly as possible. Since oiliness in my hair tends to occur in the front, it's nice know that even if I brush it on too thick, I still stand the chance of brushing it out (rather than applying the powder directly to my hair with my hands).

About that powder now (which is in an old Lush container). I use a cornstarch based baby powder -- which means that you can use either plain cornstarch, baby powder that is cornstarch, or standard baby powder that has talc. It's really your preference here, I opt for cornstarch baby powder because of the light scent. What I alter about it is it's colour which is achievable by using old powder foundation.

I couldn't quite capture the colour of it in the picture, but it's a light brown mostly because I broke down old powders into it. Prior to use Bare Escentuals, I used two different types of Physicians' Formula Mineral foundation and when I switched I wasn't sure what to do with the remaining powders, especially because they were 50% used. Well, I tossed them into my hair powder and voilà, I now have a dry shampoo that doesn't require much blending in.

Obviously if you don't happen to have older foundation powders just lying around, you can opt for just buying a cheap powder to mix in. One that immediately comes to mind is e.l.f.'s Mineral Foundation. Of course, I'm not advocating you just waste powders like that but if you find that their $5 powder doesn't work then at least you have another use for it.

Not to mention another use for large brushes that aren't quite usable and old Lush containers.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Arrival of the e.l.f. Haul

My Cyber Monday order of e.l.f. cosmetics has finally arrived! No reviews just yet but I do have some swatches prepared. For the unaware, e.l.f. is an incredibly cheap makeup brand but it's also hit or miss which means that you should do a lot of research beforehand. Some things work and some absolutely do not, their website is notorious for not being able to display the correct colour, and while it works for some, it doesn't work for others. So why take the risk? Well, when you can snag 50% off then that means that while you stand to loose some, you may just make out with a winner. For instance, during my last order, a lot of eyeshadows and eyeliners did not do anything for me. The lip liner was superb and nail polishes were decent. 

The one major thing I wanted this time were the studio brushes, which have gotten great reviews. With the sale I was able to spring for a few more items such as the large brush holder and a couple of variants of eyeliners. I knew that I was taking a risk with the eyeliners, especially given the few I already had, but I was aiming for a very specific colour this time and at 50%, it's better to take the risk now.

Let's start with the obvious -- the brush holder is great, and there's no real need for me to get into detail. It is a bit big so I'll be filling it with either sand or something else that is similar in nature. I'll be reviewing the brushes later as I start to use them.

Please note that the prices below are the actual prices on the website (versus having the sale price that I got them for).



Liquid Eyeliners
In black, teal, and plum for $1 each.

I know that the image is a bit dark and while you can click here for a slightly brighter image, neither of them really capture the plum colour.

Initial observations are that the black is great, fine point, able to handle curves and the point was fine enough so that the line can decrease in size. Overall, it looks like it has a lot of potential.

The teal and the plum on the other hand had much thicker brushes so I can't even imagine them going on lightly. Not to mention that the teal is basically opaque; it clumped up in some areas leaving a great amount of colour whereas others it looked like it was barely there. The first line of teal from the left is actually a curvy line which did not go well. The same for the second line of the plum. The plum is rich in colour though so I'm a little bit more pleased with that.



Brightening Eye Liner
In electric purple and teal for $1 each.

I was not surprised that the pigmentation was decent. In fact if you read my previous review they go on well without a primer. But they aren't long lasting and that's the key here. I'll see how well they pair up with the other liners next week when I attempt purple and teal eyes.

What I can mention now though is that the teal somewhat disappointed me. It seems much dark than it should be. The purple took a few strokes to achieve the colour that is pictures but I'm not worried about how it may perform. My concern is that the teal eyeliner will not blend with the other teal products (such as the liquid eyeliner above) that I have gotten.




Waterproof Eye Liner Pen
In black for $1.

(Remember that you can click on the pictures to enlarge them).

I was pretty impressed by this one. Fine point, goes on strong, dries quickly. Doesn't rub off and takes just about forever to wash off (it's waterpoof, so that's a good thing). In fact I was so surprised by it that I decided to check tokidoki's Perfetto next to it.

In the second picture, the first three lines (from the left) are the e.l.f. liner and the 5 lines that appear to the right are all from tokidoki's Perfetto. Perfetto is amazing and precise which is why I use it sparingly (because I love it so darn much). I had a little bit of trouble controlling the e.l.f. liner into finer lines in later attempts that I don't have a picture of and it was mostly the tip's thickness that was giving me a problem. Aside from that though, I can't wait to test this one out because it looks promising.



Cream Eyeliner
In Teal Tease and Punk Purple for $3 each.

Oh the feeling of disappointment. Yes, it was so very incredibly light. A close up of this one isn't even necessary (but I have them on file for now, so if it's requested, I'll put it up). I think that they'd be fun to play with but overall not very usable however I won't know till I start using them. For now though, I am very disappointed in the lack of pigmentation.

And that's all I have to say about that.



This is a comparison of how the pencil, liquid, and cream eyeliner show up (they are shown in the respective order to the right). As suspected, there was some variation with the colours.

The electric purple pencil eyeliner and the punk purple cream eyeliner match up exactly. There is no doubt about that. The liquid liner... well, if you look at the websites' suggested colour for plum, it should be much closer to the other two however it is a far cry from purple. It's much deeper and almost appears maroon.

The teal cream eyeliner and the teal liquid liner match up but not quite. The cream liner is lighter but you could still balance out the teal with the liquid liner in order to get the right colour, but to also strengthen one another's colour. The teal pencil eyeliner  is dark and that darkness was not captured by the camera. It definitely comes of as a striking blue, which is great if that's what you're looking for. But it definitely isn't teal.



Perhaps by this point you noticed what I was going for. If not, the aim was to try a purple eye look as well as a teal eye look. So most of the products I got were purple or teal for the goal of pulling them all together to achieve that solid look. Hopefully next week I can actually try out the looks and report back on how well these things hold up to an 8 hour day.

For now I will say that the Studio brushes (certainly not to be confused with their other brush lines!) are amazingly soft. I washed them all so once they dry I will get around to using them and hopefully post a review about that.

The e.l.f. company tends to run a promotion every so often where you can snag them for quite a percentage off. Something to strongly consider however is that they tend to not ship things quickly and that there is no return policy. So if you don't like something, you better have a backup plan for it.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Quest of Depotting into a UNII Palette

I've been anxiously awaiting the arrival of my Cyber Monday e.l.f. order and while I was doing that, I did take a hard look at my current stash of items and realized that it really was time to get rid of some things. Or at the very least, organize them better. Enter the use of a magnetic palette.

I wasn't a stranger to the concept of it, after I did have a mark palette that I never used however it was confined to the specific mark eyeshadows and blushes. The concept of the Z Palette, UNII Palette or even one off of Etsy offers greater flexibility, which means that all those eyeshadows that I've had lying around can finally be in one spot. 

The selection process was a bit difficult (not really). The first thing I had to do was analyze my stash to figure out what exactly I needed. Because I'm constantly tossing things into my makeup bag and I forget this eliminated the use of the Z Palette or one off of Etsy. The Z Palette and several of the ones off of Etsy are made of cardboard, some are water resistant, but not waterproof. The Z Palette has a window, so you can see what you have stored in there whereas the ones on Etsy do not. Either way, cardboard was not an option for me since I couldn't imagine all of my items just knocking around. I am always on the move and honestly, if I didn't have to move my makeup bags around as much as I do, I would have probably gone for the palette Prince of Darkness.

Given the title, I went with the UNII. It is much smaller than the other ones listed, but it is made of plastic. And trust me, two hours of this thing knocking around my makeup bag and I was mighty relieved I opted for a hard plastic cover.

If you check out reviews on YouTube, note that a lot of people have reviews of the older UNII model and not the latest one. I got the latest one which cannot be taken apart to be cleaned. This didn't bother me much (okay, maybe it did just a little, but not enough to warrant me disliking the product). What I was mildly annoyed with was the colour. I chose Midnight and I stared at the website for quite some time so that I knew what I was getting. If you look at the picture closely you will see that there's glitter. (Click on the image and you should be able to see it a bit better). Which was appalling. I did not anticipate glitter. In all seriousness, that really annoyed me but it wasn't a big deal. Just note that all of the colours on their site might be just a bit on the glittery side.
The empty souls of packaging that once held
eyeshadows and blush.

Depotting! I got the UNII last Friday and got to work on depotting. Which is somewhat fun, but a whole lot of work. Thankfully my very patient boyfriend stayed out of the bathroom as I asserted my inner mad scientist while trying to get the pans out of their packaging.

The L'Oreal eyeshadow was easy. As was the Bobbi Brown blush. The Kat Von D (Beethoven) was the worse. Before I get into that though, I used the alcohol method. Since I have no pictures of the process I'll try to make this as clear as possible.

You will need:
  • X-Acto Knife (or something similar with a fine tip)
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Paintbrush
  • Tissue & Q-Tips
  1. Try to wedge the knife in between the plastic container and the pan. Create a slight angle with it.
  2. Grab your paintbrush, dip it into the alcohol, then press it against the blade so that it drips along the side of the pan and the plastic packaging. 
  3. Repeat until you are able to wedge the pan out.
Seems simple. The whole idea is that you want the alcohol to get beneath the pan to dissolve the glue. It's okay if the alcohol gets into the makeup because the alcohol will end up disinfecting them. Once you get it out of the plastic wrappings (of doom), then lay it down and put a few drops of alcohol on the back to dissolve any additional glue that may be there. I used a combination of tissues and Q-Tips to really get rid of all of the alcohol. After that I was free to put the magnet-receptive material and on the back of it you can put down the colour name and brand (depending if the size can accommodate that much information).

Looks nice, right? Don't mind all the dents that occurred on the Kat Von D palette. Rad Purple flew across my BF's bathroom and then I found myself cleaning up this dark purple for a good portion of the night. Nonetheless, yes, some were much harder to get out (the blue suffered a bit of damage as well). Happily, the rest of them didn't do too badly.

The palette comes with a mirror which is covered with tissue in this picture. Given the Rad Purple's instability, I decided to make sure that I keep a piece of tissue over all of it and in that way hopefully keep it a bit clean in the long run.

I've only had this palette for a few days and I love the fact that it has forced me to really examine my makeup collection and cut down on it. The set of 60 eyeshadows that I had but never used? This weirdly got me to finally get rid of them because I knew that deep down I wouldn't use them. Mostly because I would not want to depot them. 



Price: $29
Would Recommend? Yes.
Takeaway: Smaller than others but practical for travelling. May cause you to examine if your collection of powders is worth it because depotting is an "adventure." 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Rosy Cheeks

One of the things I love about going to a makeup counter (or Sephora or a brand's respective store) is getting other people's opinions. It's one thing play around with the makeup and try to make informed choices and it's another to say to someone, "This is what I want, what do you think would work?" This works especially well at a makeup counter since they know their product whereas I don't.

Where is this going? Well, a few years ago I went to the Bobbi Brown makeup counter and got help with a new blush. After talking it over with the consultant, I made the jump from a darker blush (that you could barely see on me) to the Bobbi Brown Blush in Nectar. Now mind you, this was a huge jump in colour for me. The blush I used before was a deep plum colour and I was putting it on very lightly. I made this jump to a bright rosy coral which was all kinds of new.

It's been two years and I've grown to love how it lightly but brilliantly accentuates the apples of my cheek. I figured it was time to try something a bit bolder. Illamasqua's Powder Blusher in Hussy.

Illamasqua's blush is on the left and the Bobbi Brown blush is on the right. It's not exactly the best comparison since the Illamasqua is on an eye shading brush and the Bobbi Brown is on a concealer brush. 

Anyhow the point of this was to show just how much powder you pick up with the Illamasqua. This was after one swipe because it picks up a lot and it's highly pigmented so you have to be careful when using it.

The Bobbi Brown... well, it took about 2-3 swipes to get a lot on the brush to have a good comparison. The point of this is a bit two-fold: the Illamasqua is highly pigmented to a little goes a long way whereas the Bobbi Brown is a bit on the lighter side. Still, the Bobbi Brown is very pigmented and don't forget that.

Left is the Illamasqua and on the right is Bobbi Brown.
Today I tried the Illamasqua out and very nearly made the mistake of putting on too much this morning. I managed to even it out and loved how it looked all day. It remained as bright and beautiful as when I first put it on this morning which means that it's on the same level as my Bobbi Brown blush.

Both of them are pretty amazing but they are definitely great for their own purposes. The Bobbi Brown is fantastic for everyday because it goes on light and you can slowly build up the colour. Due to that, it has a very natural look.

The Illamasqua is dramatic and has quite a bit of flair on it. It's buildable, but I wouldn't suggest doing so since it's so pigmented. It really does pop so I can imagine using it for those special occasions or if I just want to appear a little bit more lively.


Price: $24
Would Recommend? Yes
Takeaway: Long lasting, great pigmentation, and so very natural looking.

Price: $24
Would Recommend? Yes
Takeaway: Long lasting, highly pigmented, and great for a dramatic look.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Comparison of the Five Days of Mascara

Over the course of the five days of mascara, I realized that perhaps I didn't know what I was looking for in a mascara. Mostly because my go-to mascara had it all. To review, the five mascaras I tried out were:
If I had to rank them based on how they worked out for me it would be as follows:
  1. Lights, Camera, Lashes! (LCL)
  2. Voluminous False Lashes (VFL)
  3. Doll Lashes
  4. Fleur De Lash (FDL) & Projectionist
Get to know those acronyms because the names alone are a lot to type. :) LCL might be a little bit better than VFL because it lengths and volumizes -- it extends the natural curl a bit. The only catch is that it doesn't thicken  which is something I enjoy about mascara. The other thing is that LCL beats out VFL edgewise because it lasts throughout the day. LCL can be a bit clumpy as well, but on the other hand the VFL was a tiny bit flaky. LCL requires a slight touch-up throughout the day in order to continue to hold the curl and volumize which is the exact same for VFL. But as I already mentioned, LCL thickens and gives a nice dark appearance which is fantastic if you're going for a darker look (or a cat eye).

FDL and Projectionist are almost exactly the same except there was a key difference. First let's cover the basics. Both create a widened eye (let's call it "whimsy" for fun) sort of look. Each lash will be properly defined but they will not volumize. Furthermore they will not lengthen. This means that they don't do anything at all. The FDL will slowly disappear without any kind of residue if you don't touch it up throughout the day. This means that means you won't have much to build upon (if it even works for you in the first place). With the Projectionist, the look was gone by the end of the day but the residue remained. Whimsy look gone, but there was definitely still mascara coated on my lashes. I'd recommend skipping both of them.

Doll Lashes. Well, I really wanted to love it. Unfortunately it is only marginally higher than FDL and Projectionist. It did separate each lash and it did darken my lashes just a little, which is much more than FDL or Projectionist did. But that was it. You should probably skip this one too.

So the bright side is that I know what I have to compare all other mascaras to. LCL and/or VFL. I highly recommend them both. That is till another mascara comes along. o_O

Review: Estée Lauder Projectionist High Definition Volume Mascara

Day 5 of the five mascaras! I'll probably do a brief of the five of them after this post. 

This was my first time trying it out; it was knocking around the bottom of my makeup bag because it was given to me as a gift and then I forgot about it. This morning when I put it on, I was surprised by it. 

Now, it certainly didn't add any volume but it did give my lashes a bit of a lift. If anything they appeared a bit more darker than usual. 

Each lash seemed properly defined giving off a bit of a widened eye look. But it didn't add much to my overall look. Well, aside from the devious appearance of looking a little bit more awake than usual. 

After the 8 hours, although I could feel the residue of the mascara, it didn't look like it was present. Meaning that my eyelashes were coated so I could feel it but no visible difference. 

So I was slightly puzzled as I thought about which mascara this might remind me of (because when I'm puzzled by a new mascara I compare it to an older one). I grabbed the Tarina Tarantino Fleur De Lash and realized they were almost identical with the exception that the Fleur De Lash did completely wear off by the end of the day. There was no hint of residue.

So while they are very similar, the only difference is that at the end of the day, at least my eyelashes didn't feel like they were caked and anxiously awaiting to be cleaned. What this means is that the Fleur De Lash might just be a better. But I'll compare all five of them a bit later.

I don't mind touching up mascara throughout the day but this means that it's very likely to be difficult to build upon coats or even touch it up throughout the day. We're talking the standard residue without the definition which is a huge flaw in this mascara. 



Product: Estée Lauder Projectionist High Definition Volume Mascara
Price: $19
Would Recommend? No
Takeaway: Offers some definition but lacks volume offers nothing else. While residue remains after 8 hours, it's not actually doing anything.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Review: Tarina Tarantino Fleur De Lash

Day 4 of the five mascaras!

I think my eyelashes are going to be quite happy once this little experiment is over. That aside, there was something interesting about the Fleur De Lash today and that was the tinge of disappointment. This particular mascara has been in my emergency kit; it serves as a backup to my tarte mascara (in case I forgot to put the tarte mascara on, then I'd have this one handy to put on) but it always seemed really nice when paired with a cat eye look. Alone? Without any eyeliner?

Well, it kind of fell flat. 

Excuse the terrible photos, my camera tends to be particularly unrully when I'm tired. But to make it all seem a bit worse is that the mascara didn't do anything for me. So that just made taking pictures all the more harder.

Definitely no definition, lengthening -- the mascara offered very little. My lashes appeared a bit darker but there was no volume, no... well, you get the point.

A night time (on the right) shot seems almost useless but it is below. By the time the 8 hour workday was done, the mascara was pretty much gone. Not that there was much to start.

Prior to today I would have recommended this one because it looks great with the eyeliner but now I have to question that since it doesn't really hold up on it's own. Which leads me to believe that those few times I did use it, it was only accentuated by the eyeliner and eyeshadow. Seeing that that is the case, it looks like this one ought to be skipped.



Product: Tarina Tarantino Fleur De Lash
Price: $19
Would Recommend? No.
Takeaway: Sadly, it offers nothing.


Monday, December 5, 2011

The Brush Rack

This weekend I had set out the task of building myself a rack in which I could dry my makeup brushes. After all, I have a whole new set of the e.l.f. brushes coming soon so it's about time I finally do it right. Well, partially right. So brushes are supposed to be cleaned after every use but if you use them everyday that means they get cleaned once a week (if it's my brush, anyway) but they are supposed to be "hung" to dry. Sure you can lay them flat to dry but water could still seep in and disintegrate that lovely glue. 

The original plan was to build something like the image to the left. Okay, looking beyond the very crude drawing here the basic set up is a box with three clothespins on the top. 

I'd decorate the box so that it didn't look completely odd when it wasn't in use (clearly I put more emphasis into decor than I do anything else).

A trip to Michael's and we found everything that I would need. Balsa wood, wood stain, wood glue, and lots of gorgeous little flowers. 

Then I remembered that I wanted to get "The Masters" Brush Cleaner and of course, to my surprise, Michael's had the very thing that I wanted to build in a much simpler format. The Aluminum Brush Washer is perfect if you're looking for a way of hanging brushes to dry.

I've only tried it out with two of my brushes and both of which have much thicker handles. Now I can't imagine this working with the kabuki brushes so I suspect that I'll be sticking with Dustin Hunter's method for drying them out.

There's a ton of different ways like stringing them up or hanging them from a hanger (via rubber bands and paper clips) but I lack the space for this. So having a small area where the brushes are confined works out great for me.

If you go off looking for this it is sure to be in the brush section with the cleansers. Not all art stores carry it so be aware of this before hand. I found perchance in Michael's yet my go-to online art stores didn't have it. Check out your local art store as they might just have it in stock.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Staples

Everyone's routine is just a little bit different based on how their skin works, how products interact, and well, how much they want to put into it. My general routine is actually very simple and doesn't require much work on my behalf. Mostly because I really like sleeping in so the minimal amount of work that I can put in is what I aim for.

I tend to be either at my place or my boyfriend's place which means that I've had to double up on certain products.


The Standard Routine
My Place
My Boyfriend's Place
Cleanser
Noxzema
CVS Ultra Calm Foaming Cleanser
Moisturizer
Alba Hawaiian Jasmine and Vitamin E Moisturizer
CVS Illuminating Moisturizer with SPF
Primer
Amazing Cosmetics Anti-Aging Primer
Foundation
Cover FX, Powder FX Pressed Mineral Powder Foundation SPF 10 in M80.
Foundation and Primer (Rare)
For the days that I feel like opting for a two in one: Cover FX BritePrep FX  
Finishing Powder
Cover FX, Setting FX Translucent Loose Mineral Powder in Dark
Blush
Bobbi Brown blush in Nectar

That's my entire routine on a standard day. Sometimes I'll toss in the use of  my Revlon Beyond Natural primer but that's usually on days when my eyes appear darker, in which case I'll probably be using a bit of the bareMinerals Concealer in Dark Bisque. This usually only happens if I have an issue with black eyeliner though and there was a residue which left my eyes darker than normal.

When I'm going for a cat eye (which is the usual look that I attempt to achieve, but it usually depends on how much time I have) then there are is a combination of eyeliners that I use. For my eyelid I use either tokidoki Perfetto or L'Oreal HiP Studio Professional Truth Cream eyeliner -- it depends on how steady my hands are. If my hand is pretty steady then I use Perfetto (which is liquid) however if I'm too tired or my hands are shaky then I'll grab my EcoTools Angled Eyeliner and work with the cream liner.

In order to achieve the triangle (or the scalene) I use either Perfetto or the Sephora Nano Eyeliner (again, it depends on how steady my hands are). I'll then bridge the two with either of these two. As for the waterline, that's been as tricky as creating the right triangle. I have yet to find a good eyeliner for the waterline and that is definitely something I plan to play around with in the future.

If I wear lipstick, Nuance by Salma Hayek Color Vibrance in Paprika is my first choice. If I'm feeling particularly bold (which I rarely ever feel) then I'd opt for the MUFE Rouge Artist Intense in Moulin Rogue.

Of course, as I discover new things, my standard routine could change. But so far it's been pretty solid.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Review: L'Oreal Voluminous False Fiber Lashes Kit

Day 3 of the Five Mascaras!

In this kit (which goes for about $14+) you'll get the Voluminous False Lashes Mascara and Voluminous Smoldering Eyeliner (along with the sharpener for the pencil). Okay, I'll be honest here, the kit says on the packaging "Kajal Inspired Eyeliner" and that was the only thing I really wanted. I've been searching every drugstore for just the eyeliner (because I love kajal) but I've only come across the kits. So I figured, "Why not?" so I'm reviewing the full kit, rather than just the mascara.

The initial observations I had about this mascara this morning was that it was a bit flaky. I wasn't entirely amused but I wasn't annoyed either. Very light flaking, which was easily cleanable and didn't ruin the overall look.

After longingly looking at the kajal pencil, I just had to add it to the look. So I went for the cat eye. I admit, I was a bit heavy handed this morning so I ended up making it a bit larger than normal.

I loved how easy it was to apply; it glided on without any trouble and got into the areas that I rarely can get to. We're talking about making incredibly fine lines and covering the whole eye. I was able to get to the waterline without having to really hold down my lower lids. I even managed to get it into the small creases!

But there were some drawbacks -- interestingly, not to the mascara, which held up well throughout the day. I have no complaints there as you will see in a bit.

No, my sadness was with the eyeliner. After my twenty minute walk to work, I came in to see that the waterline had become a bit fuzzy. Which was fine, a quick swipe and it was all cleaned up.

Now imagine how this works after 8 hours. I found myself having to tidy it up every few hours. If you take a look at the image below, you'll see what it looks like after an 8 hour day, constant tidying up, and the last twenty minute walk home for the day.

The edges were worn down a bit but the eyelid held up well. The waterline was a mess though; pretty much any part that comes in contact with water which means the hunt for the perfect waterline liner still continues. I know the images to the left are a bit of a mess, but I was trying to focus on the bottom of the eye as the top was fine. There was a slight fade, but still just fine.

What of the mascara? I'm actually still on the fence about it. I am still wearing just the mascara to figure out if I like it or not. You can't really see much of it in the picture on the left, but it held up very well. So I tried a comparison between it and the tarte mascara.

On the left is tarte and on the right is L'Oreal. Side by side, the Voluminous False Fiber seems to lengthen my lashes. It also gave it a bit of a lift and separated them well.

tarte gave a slight curl (which it has been prone to do on my lashes) but didn't quite separate my lashes.



Product: L'Oreal Voluminous False Lashes Mascara
Price: $8.95
Would Recommend? Yes
Takeaway: It make flake a bit, but for me that was only during the initial application. Lengthens, defines, and hold up well all day long.

Product: Voluminous Smoldering Eyeliner
Price: $7.99
Would Recommend? No
Takeaway: If it came in a waterproof version, perhaps it would be better since it doesn't hold up well near the waterline. Looks and feels great during the initial application but by the end of the day, it starts to resemble raccoon eyes. Great for the upper eyelid though.

Please note that the eyeliner has really hit stores just yet however if you can find the kit then you can get both items for approximately $14+. I got mine at CVS for $17 however Target has it online for $13.99.

Remember to Treat Your Skin

Something I try to do weekly is give myself a facial mask. Sure, I'm a sucker for a spa but truth be told that I only trust one group of people with my face and sadly they are back in New York. (That nod is those fine people at Rani Ayurvedic Salon & Spa, who I used to go to on a regular basis but alas, I am in San Francisco now). Nowadays I do the majority of my facial masks at home. The one that I love the most?

Queen Helene's Mint Julep Masque


It took me a while to find a brick and mortar store that carried it but as it turns out, Walgreens has it. It's sold by various vendors online and the 8 ounce usually comes in under $5. I'm sure other drugstores carries this but I hadn't really seen it around. But I had heard about it as I'm sure you might have. And if you haven't -- it's amazing and highly recommended.

It has a nice mint scent and is a bright green. You should leave it on for about 15 minutes though I tend to leave it on for about half an hour. No real reason behind that, I usually put it on as I'm doing chores or I start reading then time just kind of escapes from me. (Generally if I leave it on for to long I make sure to use a toner thereafter).

But I can't just rave about this particular mask (well, I can but I won't, it's amazing and there are no cons to it). So I'll throw in some strong contenders here. See originally I got into masks thanks to Lush Cosmetics. I had worked as a sales associate a few years ago and part of that job requires knowing all the products. After trying all of them, Crash Course in Skincare quickly became a staple. That particular Fresh Face mask has been discontinued and none of them quite hold up to that one and the reason behind my saying this is simply that it was great for combination skin. While some of the masks are great for when my skin is acting a particular way, they aren't necessarily good for just a regular mask.

I know that might sound odd but here's how it breaks down:

Sometimes my skin gets really dry and when that happens Oatifix is spectacularly great. I first came across this one when I visited London and I was excited when it finally made it's way across the pond. The oatmeal and banana scent is great and this is extremely hydrating for dry skin.

But my skin isn't always dry. Sometimes it's oily and when that happens Catastrophe Cosmetic is the mask that I use. The calamine makes it a bit hard to wash off however it still does wonders for my skin when in it's in that state. You aboslutely need to use a toner afterward, mostly to remove the residue.

The catch about the Lush Fresh Face masks? Well, you're in the U.S. then you have to get them in store. You can look at them online, but you can't purchase them online. The other thing is that they have an expiration date. Also, depending on your local store, they may run out quickly. In case that happens, just ask the staff when they get their deliveries and then dedicate that day to your mind. (Apparently my local store's delivery date is Friday, so I need to keep that in mind).

Those are my staples, so what are yours?



Product: Queen Helene's Mint Julep Masque
Price: Under $5, depending on where you find it.
Would Recommend? Yes
Takeaway: There are no cons, it's a great mask to have at home.

Product: Lush's Fresh Face Masks 
Price: $6.95 (each)
Would Recommend? Yes
Takeaway: I recommend them but do be sure to consult with the staff about what works for you. 

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