Monday, August 29, 2011

NARS Eyeshadow Duo : Brazil, Cheyenne, Kalahari, Mediteranee

When I started collecting makeup about a year and half ago, I read a lot of good things about NARS cosmetics. So many raves on their eyeshadows, blushes and foundations, I just had to try the brand myself. I was very happy to know that my local Sephora carried the line. Sadly, it was too late for me. By the time I found NARS, Sephora was just starting to phase out the line from their stores. The sales associate gave me a crapload story why they are removing the line, but I came to the conclusion that it was probably not doing well locally.

Still, I managed to get 4 eyeshadow duos. I am into eyeshadows so it was natural for me to try these out first. Also, the blushes I wanted were all out of stock. I still see NARS in some branches of Sephora, but the shelves are almost empty with very few remaining products. I don't purchase beacause I know that these are old stocks.

The very first duo I picked was Mediteranee, a combination of a muted golden shimmer and a burnt orange. I was drawn to the orange shade of the duo as the color was just so vibrant on the pan and on the skin. I was so excited to start playing with it. I ended up disappointed.  The first time I applied it on my lids, it was like - woh! I never thought that I would complain about pigment, but it was just too much for me :). I tried blending to soften the color and it just turned into a mess. I watched tutorials on youtube using  Mediteranee to try and make the it work, but after many attempts, I just had to admit that the it's not for me. I don't know why I ever thought that I can rock an orange eyeshadow :) .

I was not turned off by my failure to make Mediteranee work, I even bought more. The next I got was Brazil, which was what I should have picked in the first place. This duo is more up my alley, a metallic ginger and metallic rose shades. These are 'safe' colors, but they are beautiful nonetheless. I love both shades. I usually use the metallic ginger as a wash all over the lid and the rose color close to the lashline or on the crease.  Brazil and Cheyenne are my 'no brainer' eyeshadows. I initially thought that Cheyenne was just a darker version of Brazil, it does look that way on the pan, but they are very different when swatched. Cheyenne has yellowish-brown (sienna) and burgundy plum shades. I apply this the same way as the Brazil duo.

I have to admit that I got Kalahari beacause of the hype, it is supposed to be one of the best neutrals out there. I was sold when I read one makeup artist (I don't remember who)  mention that he uses this eyeshadow the most because it's beautiful and suits most people. I thought, if the expert approves, then it must be good. 

Kalahari duo is described in the NARS website as gold confection and sugared cocoa. Looking at the eyshadow, I don't know which shade is which. I see the colors as brown and taupe.  Compared to the other three duos, this has the least color pay-off. There is also some fall-out when using the brown shade and the texture is not as smooth and buttery as the others. It is indeed a good neutral combination, but I don't feel like it is exceptional. I guess I expected more because it is so popular.

The NARS duos come in rubberized black packaging that is a pain to clean. I can never keep mine spotless. There is always always  powder, glitter or something sticking on them. The packaging is compact and seems really sturdy. Each duo is 0.14 oz/4 g which is a lot compared to most brands. Except for Brazil, all are available at NARS website. I'm not sure if Brazil is discontinued, but I'm sure that one can still acquire it from other sellers online.

I am certainly interested in trying out more NARS products. I really feel bad that I can no longer get it at Sephora. I will be travelling in a few weeks time and I'm hoping to pick atleast some of their blushes to try.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Brush Review : Sephora Pro Small Eyeshadow Brush #15

The Sephora Pro Small Shadow Brush #15 is one of my very first brushes. This has been working hard for me since I got it, I use it everyday when I apply my eye makeup.  I also dropped this countless of times, yet it remains in good condition.

top to bottom: MAC 239, Sephora #12, Sephora #15

The wooden handle is thinner compared to my other brushes and tapers to a narrow point. Unlike MAC brushes, the labels on Sephora brushes do not come off.  Like I said, I dropped this numerous times, but I have yet to see a dent on the ferrule or handle. The bristles are made of natural animal hair. They are dense and stiff enough to pick up a good amount of color and deposit it on the lids. The narrow shape also allows more control when applying shadows in the inner corners.

Sephora #12, Sephora #15, MAC 239
I prefer this brush over the famous MAC 239, I feel that it actually does a better job in packing color. The Sephora #12 is another similar brush with wider and softer bristles. I use the #12 the least because of its size and it takes more work to pick and deposit color with this brush.    

In a pinch, the Sephora #15 can be used to blend and soften the edges of eyeshadows, but it may not give the best result as the brush is not design for this purpose. For blending, I prefer to use a blending brush. 

I got mine at my local Sephora, it is also available on the website and priced at $16. If you're looking for an eyeshadow brush, I recommend that you check this one.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Brush Review : MAC 130 Short Duo Fibre Brush

If there is a brush in my collection that deserves to be reviewed first, this has to be it. I got this few moths ago when I was actively searching for a new foundation brush. Prior to this, I was using the MAC 187 duo fibre brush, Sephora #45 mineral powder brush and Inglot 21T foundation brush. These are all good brushes but I was not 100% happy with them and I wanted something that worked better.

MAC has 3 duo fibre brushes in their permanent line - the 187, the 188 (smaller/narrower version of the 187) and the 130 which is shorter and denser. The brushes are made of a combination of natural bristles and synthetic fibres. The natural bristles are from goat hair and the synthetic fibres are made of  fibre-optic material. Duo fibre brushes are more commonly known as stippling brushes because the 'stipple and buff' application technique is usually employed when using these brushes. 

MAC 187, Sephora #45, MAC 130

The 130 brush has a silver metal ferrule and black wooden handle. The handle is engraved with the MAC 130 label  in silver, and like all MAC brushes, the label eventually fades. There was some shedding of the natural bristles, my brush lost a few hairs but not enough to alarm me. The shedding eventually stopped after few washes.

The short and dense bristles, as well as the flat top of the 130 brush makes foundation application easy. The 187 can stipple a product well, but I had trouble with the buffing, I feel that the synthetic bristles on the 187 are too long that the brush ends up being too soft to buff liquid and cream products. The 130, however, will stipple and buff like a dream. It works the product into the skin and I don't have to worry about streaky foundation. The smaller size also makes it easier to get around the nose area and under the eyes. I used this with liquid foundation and cream blush. I read that some people use this to apply powder highlighters and bronzers, but I have not tried that.

MAC 130 and MAC  187 for comparison

The brush is easy to wash and dries fast.  I use some MAC cleanse off oil first to remove all the colors and then wash with shampoo and rinse. I usually wash my brushes after every use, but I have tried using this twice or three times without washing and it still gave good results.

This is my favorite foundation brush so far and the most used  among my face brushes. I still would like to try MAC 109 or if I can get my hands on it, the Shu Uemura  #18 foundation brush. I heard that these are also great multitasking brushes. If you own any of these brushes, I would like to know your thoughts on them.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Guerlain Meteorites Compact Pressed Powder

the powder is engraved with Guerlain's rosette
This pressed powder is part of Guerlain's Meteorites range. It is an illuminating and mattifying pressed powder that is supposed to get rid of the 'oil slick' and give you that radiant complexion.

I don't know if I look radiant, but I love to use this to set my foundation. I have it in 02 Teint Beige. Using the puff that comes with the compact, I press the powder into my skin and brush away any excess. The powder is finely milled, feels very light on my skin and it does not take away the finish of the foundation I used ( I like to use satin finish ). With some powders, I end looking too matte and powdery. I never had that problem with Guerlain's Meteorite Compact.

As for oil control, I find that this works just like most powders - not better, not worst. I enjoy using this for touch up because it does not feel and look  like I just piled more product on. When I need to retouch, I blot my face with tissue  first and then apply the powder. I find that it still gives a natural finish.

This powder has no coverage, it will not conceal blemishes and other skin imperfections. For this reason, I only use this on top of foundation.

the compact opens and close by a button mechanism
 As for the packaging, it is classic Guerlain - beautiful and fancy. I was surprised the first time I picked up the compact, it is so lightweight. It looks like it is made of metal but it is actually made of plastic.  The compact fits the palm of my hand nicely. The top is decorated with the pink rosette that is found in the packaging of all Meteorites powders. The compact opens and close by a button mechanism on the side. The mirror inside is of very good quality, and there is a small, thin white powder puff to apply the product. The puff looks flimsy but is actually effective. The powder is heavily scented with Guerlain's signature fragrance that is present in their Meteorites products.

the top of the compact decorated with the pink rosette

photos and product are from my own collection

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Drying And Maintaining The Shape Of Your Brush

Don't you hate it when after you wash and dry that new brush, it does not resemble the one that you bought?  The one you got at the store is nice and compact, but after washing, the bristles are splayed and all over the place. Well, there is a way to prevent those bristles from splaying and keep the shape of your brush. You can get a Brush Guard or you can use tissue paper.

I learned this from Dusty Hunter ( link of his YouTube video is here ). I do mine a little differently, but the principle is the same. 

The trick is to wrap your damp brush in tissue paper and let it dry the that way. Immediately after washing, I squeeze and shake the water out of the brush, take a piece of tissue paper ( I often cut a facial tissue into 2, for face brushes, and into 4, for eye brushes) and wrap it tightly around the bristles and ferule. You can fold the tissue to give it more strength. Afterwards, I dry the brush on the edge of a table with the bristles hanging out.

tightly wrap the tissue around the bristles of the brush
dry the brush with the bristles hanging out

Brushes washed and air dried
Inglot 15BJF, Sephora #40, Sephora #43

MAC 224, MAC 219, MAC 217

Same brushes washed and dried while wrapped in tissue paper
Inglot 15BJF, Sephora # 40, Sephora # 43
MAC 224, MAC 219, MAC 217

As for the Kabuki brush, the idea I came up with is to use the inner barrel of my hair curler instead of the cylindrical cardboard that holds a roll of tissue. I just push my Kabuki brush inside the barrel (the handle going in first) and I am able to dry my brush with the bristles facing down. The hair curler has lots of holes, so air will be able to circulate and the brush will dry faster.

insert the Kabuki brush with the handle first

Thank you for reading and hopefully this is helpful to you.

photos and products are from my own collection

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

MAC Cleanse Off Oil

Is it weird that one of my most favorite product is a makeup remover? If you ever had a breakout from not having your makeup properly removed, then you probably understand. There was a time when I could not be bothered with makeup removers, I was just too lazy to take that extra step. I thought that washing with a cleanser or even soap was enough. I had no problem with this routine, until I started to use foundation regularly. I had a major breakout, with pimples all over my face. I was quick to blame the product I used (which unfortunately was Studio Fix Fluid). I immediately switched to other brands, but my skin did not get better. I was slow on the uptake, but it finally dawned on me that my old skincare routine was not cutting it.  I decided that I needed to give makeup removers a try.

I jumped from one brand to another in my search for that holy grail. Most of them were just ok, and there was one that stung as soon as I applied it on my face. I decided to get Cleanse Off Oil after reading about it on the MAC website. I was sold by the 'rinse off, no tissues required'  idea. At that time, I was using separate makeup removers for my eye makeup and the rest of my face. I had to remove both with cotton pads or tissues. I find that regularly wiping off makeup from my skin, specially my eyelids, with cotton pads leads to irritation.

I had no high expectations when I bought this product, so I was very happy to find out that it was amazing. It is oily when you apply on your face but it disappears as soon as you rinse it and you are not left with that greasy feeling. I use about two pumps of the product, massage it on my face, including my eyelids, and it dissolves everything - foundation, eye makeup and even waterproof mascara. I don't even have to rub it in, gentle massage is enough. I rinse my face and everything comes off  without that greasy residue. Because I am paranoid,  I still always use a separate cleanser after this to complete my ritual. A zit still pops out every now and then, but no major breakout so far.

I absolutely love this product and recommend that you give it a try if you are looking for an effective makeup remover. Mine is about to run out and I am definitely repurchasing.

product  photo from the web

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Guerlain Terracotta 4 Seasons Tailor-Made Bronzing Powder

Guerlain is well known for their bronzers. Their Terracotta line has the most amazing bronzing powders to give you that sun-kissed look. The 4 Seasons Tailor-Made Bronzing Powder is part of  the line and I got this one because it seems to be the most versatile.

The idea is to have a bronzer that can be used anytime of the year, hence the name 4 Seasons. This is achieved by having a powder of four matte shades that can be used separately or blended to suit every skin tone.

the compact has a magnetic closure
The bronzer is available in Blondes and Brunettes. As their names imply, Blondes has lighter shades compared to Brunettes. I got 02 Brunettes.  

The leaflet that comes with the product provides this application tip:
Winter - For a light, healthy looking tan, apply shades 1 and 2 on the cheekbones and other prominent areas of the face.
Spring and Autumn - To bring out the radiance of the complexion, apply all four shades in the same way, followed by shades 2 and 3 as blusher. 
Summer - for a sensual deep tan, apply shades 3 and 4 to all areas of the face that catch the sun easily

From L-R: Shades 1, 2, 3, 4 and all the shades blended together
I personally  just like to blend all the shades and use it to contour my face, which I don't do very often. But when I do contour, I like to use this one. The matte finish is perfect for the job. I usually use MAC 138 brush to apply. As with most high-end cosmetics, the powder is very fine and applies really well. I should mention that this is heavily scented. I cannot describe the scent, it is not offensive and I don't mind it, but it might be an issue for some. The product also has an SPF of 10, but I honestly don't think that will be useful as sun protection.
And last, but certainly not the least when it comes to Guerlain, the bronzer comes in an elegant, brown compact.  I have to admit that the packaging is one of the reasons that I love Guerlain. I will probably keep all my Guerlain makeup forever because I will not be able to throw these away :)

all products and photos are from my collection

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dior 5 Color Eyeshadow Palette In Rosy Tan

This is the second installment of my thoughts on Dior quints. You can read my review on Sunset Cafe here. Today I am reviewing Rosy Tan.

Rosy Tan came out with the Electric Tropics 2011 summer collection where Dior released two new neutral quints, Rosy Tan and Rosy Nude. I was anticipating their release as soon as I saw photos online. The colors are right up my alley and the swatches looked promising. Since it was a neutral palette, I knew that I probably have dupes of most, if not all, of the shades from my current stash. Well, that did not deter me from grabbing one as soon as it hit my local counter. I choosed Rosy Tan because I have a light to medium brown complexion.

Rosy Tan has a pink shade, a deep chocolate brown with very fine gold flecks, a light brown with a hint of  old rose, a shimmery light taupe,  and  a frosty pearl-pink. With all that color description, how can this palette not be a winner :).

top left: pink shade, top right: deep chocolate brown, bottom right: light brown, bottom left: light taupe, middle: pearl-pink
The powders are finely milled and all have soft velvet texture. The colors blend really well and the lasting power on me is much like with Sunset Cafe, about 8-10 hours on top of  primer.  My favorite is the deep brown shade, the gold flecks just give it a beautiful dimension. The light brown on the bottom right is almost the same color as my eyelid so I only use it as a wash of color. The colors in this palette are pigmented in 'dior' kind of way. You will not have that intense color pay-off as soon as you dip your brush on the product, you will have to build the intensity. If you are used to  MAC, Inglot or Nars, you might find this lacking in pigment.

From L-R: light pink, deep chocolate brown,  light brown, light taupe, pearl-pink

Good color pay-off is important but as I grow older (gasps), I learned to appreciate that makeup is not just about the intensity of the pigment. I now put value on the texture, the complexity of a shade (although it makes describing them difficult), the lasting power and the overall quality of the product. The two Dior quints that I have are not intensely pigmented but they are of very good quality. I can tell that a lot of effort was put in their production. 
If you love and use neutrals, you might want to check this out.  I recommend swatching them first or buying them somewhere that has a return policy as the quints don't come cheap.  

all products and photos are from my own personnal collection

Christian Dior 5 Color Eyeshadow Palette In Sunset Cafe

The Dior 5 Color Eyeshadow Palettes or 'Dior quints', as they are more popularly known, are one of those things that people either love or hate. They seem to work well on some people and just plain 'blah' on others. I cannot give my thoughts on all the quints but I'm going to review the two that I own, Sunset Cafe and Rosy Tan.

It took me awhile to pick up my first quint, I swatched a lot of displays on Dior counters and nothing impressed me. But since I collect eyeshadow palettes, I just had to have one. After doing some online research, I decided on Sunset Cafe. It was already discontinued but I was lucky enough to find one.

The compact reflects the light
Dior has the most elegant packaging. Their palettes come in elegant, glossy navy blue compact. Dior is engraved on top in silver and the initials CD shows through the mirrored surface. It has a mirror inside and two applicators which are pretty useful. Unfortunately, I see my fingersprints all over the compact everytime I touch it because of its glossy surface. The compact comes with a velvet pouch and a leaflet with instructions on how to use the product. 

Sunset Cafe has beautiful colors, a pink-peach, a very light pink, gold, a taupe-brown and a bronze. I would say that the palette has a pearly finish, even the light pink which is the flattest color has some level of shimmer in it. The pigments in the browns and the gold are really not bad, they are not super pigmented but I can work with them. I have to dig more the make the pink-peach work and I rarely use the light pink even as brow highlight, it does not show up on me. The shadows last on my lids between 8-10 hours under a primer. But, I'm usually in an air-conditioned building at those times. I have not tried these shadows while outdoors doing errands, where it maybe warm and humid. I usually notice fading and creasing  at the end of 10 hours. I also prefer to use the applicators with my dior palettes. I find that I can pack color better with the applicators and then blend with a brush.

Top left: Peach-pink, top right: light pink, bottom right: gold, bottom left: taupe-brown, middle: bronze

From L-R: Peach-pink, light pink, gold, taupe-brown, bronze

I find Sunset Cafe to be a beautiful palette but it's not a favorite. I really don't reach for it that often. but, I'm still happy to have it in my collection. 

all products and photos are from my own collection

Monday, August 8, 2011

Giorgio Armani Eyes To Kill Intense Silk Eyeshadow : Khaki Pulse And Champagne

Giorgio Armani describes on their website the Eyes To Kill Intense Silk Eyeshadow released earlier this year as: 
This innovative hybrid texture, which is not a powder, nor a cream acts like a smooth, lasting color film. Each shade is intensified with a second pigment for a multi-dimensional effect. In just one swoop, create a wet, shimmering smokey eye. Base color covers eyelid, and second pigment adds drama to the contour.
The technology: Color-FilTM, for the first time in an eyeshadow. A new high resistance bi-polymer enables the formula to perfectly fit the color to the eyelid with cushiony suppleness, for a never seen comfortable long wear.
Twenty four hour color wear, crease proof, flake proof, waterproof and sweat-proof, Eyes To Kill Intense Eyeshadows slide on, stay on, but wipe off in an instant. Apply wet or dry with fingers or the Armani large eye contour brush. 
- Giorgio Armani website

The eyeshadows come in glass pots with black plastic cover and Giorgio Armani Eyes To Kill printed on top. When you open the pot, there is a black stopper between the product and cover.  They come in 4g or 0.14 oz. There are 15 shades listed on the website at the moment.  They have silky texture and unlike cream, they are dry to the touch. The colors are all very unique because they are a combination of two pigments.  The addition of a second pigment to the main color adds a new dimension. After swatching all the available shades at the Armani counter, I settled for #6 Khaki Pulse and #8 Champagne.

Khaki Pulse is a bronze shade infused with olive green pigments. It looks more of an olive shade in the pot but translates to a bronze shade with olive metallic sheen when applied. The eyeshadow is very smooth, blends really well and has no fall out. The product is also tightly packed in the pot, I hardly need the stopper to press the product after use.

Champagne is light pink infused with silver that translates to a champagne shade. Unlike Khaki Pulse, it is a little loose in the pot. Mine is actually crumbling on the sides. I certainly need the stopper to press the product after use. I think this is because the powder is not as fine. Nevertheless, it is still as silky and smooth when applied. There is some fall out on this one but, not too much to bother me. I just make sure to pack the shadow on my lids first before blending.

 Both eyeshadows have metallic, shimmery finish. I don't find the shimmer to be over-the-top but that is subjective. For some people, it might be too much. Both are intensely pigmented, I wore them both on top of Two Faced Shadow Insurance and they lasted for more than 14 hours without fading or creasing. I have read that some had used this without primer and they were just as good but, I have not tried that. They can be applied wet or dry, with fingers or brush, I prefer to use my brushes.


These  are indeed water proof, after swatching, I tried rubbing them off my hands under running water and they did not budge. I washed my hands with soap, some came out but most of the pigment stayed. I use MAC's Cleanse Off  Oil to effectively remove them.

These eyeshadows are really great. If you are like me and you don't have time to reapply your makeup in the middle of the day, this is a good option for you. It is pricey but you do get what you pay for. I'm thingking of getting #7 Sweet Fire next time.

all products and photos are from my own collection 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Two Faced Shadow Insurance Eyeshadow Primer

Before I met TFSI I was using Sephora's Light Touch as a base, it was suggested by Sephora's SA who sold it to me. Back then, I did not understand the use of a primer. I was using Light Touch but my eyeshadows were creasing after a few hours. I learned about primers after watching You Tube videos and reading makeup blogs. At first, I wanted the Urban Decay Primer Potion because it was really popular. It seems that all the You Tube gurus were priming their lids with it. I was disappointed when I found out that Urban Decay is not available where I live including all my local Sephoras. They do carry Too Faced so, I got the Shadow Insurance instead.

I was disappointed at first. Yes, my eyeshadows were blending well on top of it but they were still creasing and the main job of a primer supposedly was to prevent creasing. I wanted to make the product work so I started reading reviews and experimenting. I found out that I should be using the tiniest amount, literally just a dab on both of my eyelids and then blending the product all over. The more product I use, it's more likely that my eyeshadow will crease. To be fair I have not tried other primers so I cannot compare. This is working for me at the moment so I have no desire to look for another primer. I have tried MAC paintpots and I prefer the Shadow Insurance. I have a problem blending eyeshadows on top  of paintpots. I even use TFSI under paintpots to prevent creasing. I've had this primer for more than a year and even with regular use, it looks like it's going to last me a lifetime.

This is not the amount of product I use, it's way too much. This photo is to show the product inside.

 all products and photos are from my own collection

Burberry Beauty

Burberry launched their makeup line summer of last yeat. It came with a full range of products from foundations to lipsticks. It was inspired by the natural colours from the iconic Burberry trench and the stormy greys and blues of the unpredictable British weather. The idea is to have a natural wearing makeup that can be worn anywhere. This line is for neutral lovers, it may not be for those who love bright colors in makeup.

The brand caters to a certain demographic and this is reflected in their makeup line. This is a luxury cosmetic line, it is expensive. The price is at par with other designer brands. The packaging has a luxurious feel about it.  The products come in a beautiful linen boxes (I almost did not want to throw them away). They are packaged in a glossy, gunmetal colored plastic embossed with the Burberry trademark of check pattern and the Burberry name on the side. They have a magnetic closure, including the lipstick, and they also have velvet pouches, again, with the check pattern.  The products themselves are embossed with the check pattern as shown in the photos.

Sorry for the messy makeup in this photo, they have been used already
I got my Burberry makeup from my local Debenhams. I only have a few items; a blush, 2 eyeshadows and a lipstick.  The powders in the blush and eyeshadows are very finely milled. They are smooth, applies and blends really well. The colors are sheer on my medium brown skin but they can be built up for intensity. I think the colors will show up more for those with pale or lighter skin. My 'go to' lipstick is Rosewood. I just love the texture, it is smooth and silky. It glides on my lips and is not drying. It leaves my lips with a sheen so I don't need a gloss with it. For those with sensitive nose, the blush and lipstick have a powdery, rose fragrance. It is not offensive for me but, some people may not like it.

I'm happy with the Burberry makeup products that I have and I hope to add more in my collection when my budget allows. The Lip Cover is my favorite item and I definitely recommend it.

Blush and Lipstick

Single Eyeshadows


all products and photos are from my collection
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