Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Inspiration - Maquillage Spring 2010

For Maquillage's latest spring campaign, the brand chose a new spokesmodel and stuck with this one person instead of the usual 4-5 models they use for bigger releases (spring & fall). The new spokesmodel is ICONIQ, a Japanese artist who grew up in Japan but started her entertainment career as part of a Korean girl group (kind of confusing). Honestly, I'm not a big fan of the hair, but I'll admit she still looks really pretty. I'm also kind of ambivalent about her eye makeup in the ad, but the limited edition palettes (one was used in the ad) are adorable and I like her lip color ^^

This is slightly off topic, but I think that most female artists can be divided into two types: the type that looks prettier in pictures and the type that looks prettier in videos (or you can say still vs. moving). I consider ICONIQ as the former type; for some reason she just doesn't look as pretty when she's not posing ^^"' An example of the latter type (for me) is Ayase Haruka, who looks pretty in dramas but somehow off in her MaxFactor ads. Same thing with Shinohara Ryoko, who is a great actress and a long time MQ spokesmodel (though maybe not anymore...I wonder if MQ will use the original models again for the fall campaign). The only exception I can think of to my two types of female artist rule is Ueno Juri, who looks different in photos vs. videos but pretty either way ^^

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Inspiration - Chanel Bird of Paradise

As I've mentioned in my review of Chanel's Mystic Eyes quad, the promotional picture of Chanel's 2009 winter release really caught my eyes. Out of all of the department store brands, I would say Chanel stood out the most to me, mostly because they chose to use springy resort colors for a winter release instead of the standard smoky and/or silvery/gold colors. Another reason I really liked the promotional picture was that I've always loved multicolored eye looks but have rarely ever seen it done well. Most of the time, multicolored looks can be overly makeupy and not at all like the spring goddess image I want to see. Chanel, however, succeeded in making the model look ethereal, kind of like a tropical rainforest goddess ^^

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Rather Lengthy Base Makeup Update

This is a long overdue update on the different base makeup items that I've been using for the past 4 months or so. After using the L'Oreal foundation and powder for a while early last year, I decided that the finish was still not exactly what I'd like even though the foundation has its merits. Especially when my skin gets these dry patches from acne medication, the L'Oreal foundation can make my face look rather cakey. Plus, the powder doesn't seem to help control oil or, in fact, do anything for my complexion, so I definitely needed to find something better. Since I haven't had much luck with drugstore foundations/powders, I decided to hunt for something in the higher end market.

After reading a number of reviews, I decided on Make Up For Ever's Face & Body for my new foundation, which is a really awesome and unique product. The foundation is oil-free and looks kind of like watered down jello in the jar (that's in a good way). On skin, F&B is sheer and very light feeling, and once dried, the foundation almost entirely disappears/melts into your skin. The result is a slightly better version of your skin on your face, which is exactly what I wanted. The downside to this sheerness is that the foundation has a hard time covering any major blemishes if you apply with a light hand. If you layer on the foundation though, you can make most blemishes look a lot less obvious if not entirely invisible. Another great thing about F&B is that it does not oxidize as the day goes on, so I never look like an orange version of myself by the end of the day.

Unfortunately, the foundation is still far from perfect. Perhaps because the foundation retains moisture well (as evident by the fact that it looks natural and never cakey), it does not agree with my oily T-zone and causes my face to be more oily than usual when applied. In addition, the closest color I've found to my natural skin tone (20) is still a bit yellow for me, so the limited color selection may drive some other people away as well. I also wish the foundation comes in a pump bottle since there were definitely a couple of times when I accidentally knocked over the bottle and spilled foundation everywhere.

Since I'm almost out of my F&B and I wanted to try something else, I went out and got Dior's Diorskin Nude Natural Glow Liquid Foundation at Lord & Taylor a couple of weeks ago. Similar to F&B, Diorskin Nude is known for looking natural and has also received a good number of positive reviews. The two foundations differ in that Diorskin Nude is a bit thicker than F&B, which means that it covers a bit better but also runs a higher risk of looking cakey, especially during the dry winters here. I've found that if I apply this foundation on top of my Shiseido White Lucent sunscreen, my face will look extremely cakey and dry. Since the foundation already has some sunscreen, I've opted to apply it directly over my moisturizer, which gives a much more natural finish. So far, I haven't had any problems with oxidation using Diorskin Nude, and my face is still at a normal level of oiliness by the end of the day. Diorskin Nude also wins over MUFE F&B in its packaging; I don't care that it's a hassle to get the last bit of your foundation out of a pump bottle, it is still much less wasteful than the F&B packaging with no pump bottle, which means major spillage for a klutz like me.

One problem I found with the Diorskin Nude after using it for a couple of days is that the color I chose (023) looks too red/orange on me (which goes to say, never trust department store lighting). After checking the color descriptions on, I realized that 023 is a peachy beige, which definitely does not describe my skintone. I'm thinking 020 neutral beige may work better so I will update once I get around to exchanging my foundation. (UPDATE 2/8/10: I went to Sephora last week and tried out the rest of the lighter colors in the line and all of the colors available are either too dark or too pink on me. I think I'll be going back to my MUFE foundation for now unless I spot a better alternative in the next couple of weeks.)

Now moving on to the powders...After my L'Oreal powder fiasco, I decided to try MUFE's HD Powder due to the numerous rave reviews. It imparts a very slight sheen to the face when applied and gives a soft focus kind of effect. Unfortunately, it doesn't do anything else and especially does nothing for my oiliness. I gave it a couple of weeks and tried different methods of application (brush vs. powder puff), but I soon gave up and moved on to another powder.

I next purchased Lavshuca's Finish Powder in Lucent after reading the positive review on A Touch of Blusher. Compared to MUFE HD, Lavshuca has the additional benefit of being able to slighty mask pores, but it also doesn't control my oiliness. There is a matte version of the Lavshuca Finish Powder that is more geared towards oil-control (A Touch of Blusher mentioned that the matte version does control oil slightly better) but I'm not a fan of completely matte powder so I decided to pass on that.

One thing I love about the Lavshuca Finish Powder is its packaging. The original packaging for the Finish Powder (might've been called something else previously) was even more princessy, but this new packaging still looks very girly. I especially love the cute powder puff which adds a very nice touch to the product.

I have a couple of words to say about a some other products that I've tried very briefly or only through testers so I don't have product pictures.

Tinted Moisturizer - Dior HydrAction Deep Hydration Skin Tint SPF 20

I heard about this product through a friend who raved about how it covers everything but still looks extremely natural. I picked up a tester sample from Sephora of the lightest color (00? 01?) and it sadly didn't work for me at all. I felt like it didn't cover anything when applied sheerly and looked extremely cakey when applied generously. The color selection was also very limited so the lightest color was too light for me but the second lightest was way too dark.

Concealer - Neutrogena SkinClearing Oil-Free Concealer

I was having serious skin problems for a period of time last year so I picked up this concealer to cover my pimples/acne. The good thing is that it didn't irritate my breakouts so that they become worse, but I can't say that the concealer helped cure my breakouts either. The other downside was that this concealer looked very cakey and unnatural if I had patches of dry skin due to the acne medication, so I ended up throwing it away after a while.

Face Primers - Bare Escentuals Prime Time Foundation Primer Oil Control, Laura Mercier Oil Free Foundation Primer, Urban Decay Complexion Primer Potion for Pore Perfecting, Korres Face Primer

I've read on a number of makeup blogs that primers is the way to control oil, not powder. However, I have very little faith in face primers since all that I've tried (Smashbox, MUFE UV Primer, etc.) have failed me or exacerbated the problem so far. Still, after trying the HD Powder and still having no luck controlling my sebum secretion, I picked up a few more primer testers from Sephora. Both the Bare Escentuals and Laura Mercier primers I got because friends recommended them, and I got the Urban Decay primer because UDPP works really well on me. Unfortunately, all of them failed miserably at the oil-controlling aspect for my face. Even though the UD primer isn't specifically geared towards oil control, it was still a failure in that it didn't cover up my pores as advertised. I got the Korres primer as a sample for an online order, and it also wasn't any good at oil-control, but it was more geared towards moisture-retention anyway so I don't really blame the product. There is one amazing thing about the Korres primer, though--it makes my skin feel very supple, soft, and smooth without that silicone feeling you get with a lot of primers. I wish it would work with my oily skin since I truly love the finish, but this primer might be for you if you have dry skin.

In short: Make Up For Ever Face & Body - sheer and very natural-looking but limited color selection and not good for oily skin. Diorskin Nude - fairly natural-looking, still waiting to see if there's a good color match. Make Up For Ever HD Powder - doesn't do much, especially no oil-control. Lavshuca Finish Powder in Lucent - slightly masks pores but also little oil-control.

Chanel Mystic Eyes (It's CHANEL!)

Chanel has always been one of those god-like brands to me. To buy anything Chanel is to take the first step into the world of fashion. Of course, not everything Chanel is perfect, but it seems like even the imperfections are god-like. You can never go wrong with Chanel. (I mean just look at this paper box! If it wasn't Chanel then it would be boring, but because it is Chanel, the box automatically becomes classy.)

Since I don't really want to spend a month's salary on a Chanel bag just yet, a Chanel's makeup item seems like a good alternative. Thus, when I saw the beautiful promotional picture for Chanel's winter 2009 eyeshadow palette, my mind went *ding* time to pick up a Chanel quad. The minute I swatched Bird of Paradise from Chanel winter 2009 on the back of my hand, I absolutely fell in love with the shimmer quality. There is one downfall, Bird of Paradise is really colorful, and as I've (recently?) learned, my colorful eyeshadows mostly just sit in my drawers and are almost never used. Thankfully, as I swatched a few more of Chanel's quads, I found that a number of Chanel eyeshadow quads have the same beautiful shimmer, including spring 2009's Mystic Eyes. And that is how I ended up with Chanel's Quadra Eyeshadow in Mystic Eyes ^^

Back when Mystic Eyes just came out, I read a number of rave reviews on the insanely gorgeous taupey palette. Unfortunately, I was only working part time at the time so I refrained from making any expensive ($20+) makeup purchases. I'm very glad then that the Bird of Paradise promotional picture eventually led me to Mystic Eyes again because as the other reviewers say, Mystic Eyes is truly an INSANELY gorgeous taupey palette ^_^

The packaging for Chanel eyeshadow quads is not particularly exciting, but it looks very classy and Chanel-esque to me. As with other high-end brands, Chanel's quads come with a velvet pouch to protect the palette (see above). I always keep the velvet pouch because it looks nice, but the pouch also annoys the hell out of me because it attracts dust like crazy. The quads also come with a sturdy plastic protective covering and two sponge-tip applicators that are so-so in quality.

The eyeshadows in the Mystic Eyes quad are incredibly silky and finely-milled (as are all of the Chanel eyeshadows that I played with at Nordstrom). The lasting power is great, no complaints yet, and the shimmer that I previously mentioned is just out-of-this-world amazing. The shimmer here does not scream party girl but instead oozes sophistication from every little speck. The reason why I love it so much is due to the mix of very fine to fine shimmer that provides a spectrum of reflectivity and gives depth and dimension to each color. Unfortunately, my camera was not able to capture the shimmers well in any of the pictures, so you will just have to take my word for it until you are able to check out the quad in person at your local department store! I chose to provide two product photos below because the left picture (taken partly in the shade) is closer to the actual color, but the right picture (taken in indirect sunlight) shows the level of reflectivity based on the amount of shimmer in each color.

The four colors in Mystic Eyes are a very very pale vanilla pink (A), a slightly coppery medium brown (B), a silvery taupe (C), and a blackened chocolate brown (D). A and C are both on the sheer side but B and D are both very pigmented. There is some level of shimmeriness in all colors but I would say that D is more than 50% matte and A and C are the most shimmery of the bunch. These colors applied together creates a very (surprise surprise) sophisticated and classy look appropriate for both the office and weekends. I haven't tried to use this quad to create a smoky eye look yet, but I think it would also look beautiful (I imagine something like Marion Cotillard on the red carpet).

All pictures in this post were taken under natural light.

In short: A stunning quad worth every penny.