September 15, 2014

Current NARS Favorites (and not-so favorites)

I'm not sure how this happened, but my daily makeup routine has recently been very heavily NARS-dominated. So I thought I'd dedicate a full post to everything NARS that I've been using in my daily routine.

My long time NARS favorites are their concealer and brow gel. They've both been daily staples since last year. The NARS Pure Radiant Creamy Concealer (previously reviewed here) gives very good coverage yet doesn't cake up or gather on dry skin. I've been using it mainly under my eyes but it also works well on the occasional blemish too. The shade "Custard" is a perfect match for me - no ashy/greyness at all. NARS Tinted Brow Gel holds everything in place and adds definition - instant perked up brows in seconds!

My new favorites are the eyeshadow primer, pencil eyeliner and blush. The NARS Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Base was an instant win for me. It works better than anything I've tried, helps keep oily eyelids under control, and manages to even set cream shadows. No creasing, no budging. The only eyeshadow that I can't get it to work with is (ironically) the NARS cream shadows - specifically NARS Mykonos Cream Eyeshadow, which is the most gorgeous rose gold, but creases like no other. Still I can't seem to part with it because the shade is just too pretty. I usually swipe a bit of NARS Yamal (Powder) Eyeshadow to set Mykonos, which still only manages to help a little with the creasing. (P.S. I've heard that NARS is discontinuing their cream eyeshadows, so do stock up on your favorites while you can!) The Larger Than Life Long-Wear Eyeliner is the perfect medium black. I reviewed it in detail in my last post. And I've been reaching for the infamous NARS Blush in "Deep Throat" a lot lately (mine is a mini deluxe sample size). I like it much more than "Orgasm," which I find a bit too bright for me. I think "Deep Throat" will make the perfect rosy blush for fall. NARS blushes have very good staying power, again great for long work days.

Last but not least, NARS has also dominated my base makeup lately. I've been a long time fan of the NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer, but just recently tried pairing it with my new NARS Light Reflecting Loose Setting Powder - the exact combo that was used on models at the Creatures of the Wind fashion show at New York Fashion Week last week. These 2 are a natural, radiant, nude-perfect match made in heaven! The powder perfectly sets the tinted moisturizer, and mattifies the radiant base just a tad to tone it down (good oil control, great for oily skin like mine). Together they blur any uneven skin or pores, creating a soft, smooth finish. The powder is also very buildable - I can pile this on and my skin still looks like skin. No powdery cakey mess. This powder is pretty much fool proof in my opinion.

So to conclude, I find the NARS eyeshadows to be "okay," but apart from that I give everything a huge thumbs up!

That was a LOT of NARS talk. Hats off to you if you made it through this whole sea of words!

Now it's your turn... What are your favorite products from NARS?

September 6, 2014

Pencil Liners | Urban Decay vs NARS vs Bourjois

I'll preface by saying that my favorite pencil eyeliner, of all time, has been hands down the Urban Decay 24/7 Eyeliner in Zero. Not Perversion, which is the blackest carbon black, but the regular black Zero. I like my eyeliners to be medium black, so Perversion slightly intimidated me! Zero is the perfect intensity and creaminess; it wears well but isn't a pain to remove. The one complaint I have is that it's not available in Hong Kong :(

So with my last UD eyeliner stock running low, I decided it's time to venture out and give a few hopeful substitutes a try. I spotted the Bourjois Contour Clubbing Waterproof Eyeliner in 54 Ultra Black during a random stroll in Sasa. I know... what a name! It's like the Bourjois team played the association game and threw in every word they can think of relating to black eyeliner. "Contour!" "Waterproof!" "CLUBBING!" But what did appeal to me was how soft and easily the eyeliner swatched. Home with me it went.

At the same time, I had a sample size NARS Larger Than Life Long-Wear Eyeliner in Via Veneto in my stash as well. So for the past 2 weeks, I've been alternating between the two. Coincidentally Hong Kong has been having the hottest summer of the Century (not exaggerating - Observatory statistics here), which definitely meant these eyeliners were put to the extreme test of heat and humidity.

So how did these 2 turn out?

The Bourjois liner was a disappointment. I like soft creamy eyeliners, but this was too soft. It was slightly challenging to create a nice, even, thin line - though I'll say if you're main concern is to avoid tugging on these eyes, you might really enjoy this as it goes on like butter. Another issue I had was that it did not stay on long, at all. Even on top of a primer, I was only left with faint traces of this by the end of the day. 

The NARS liner was the better of the two. It's not the blackest black, nor is it really soft or creamy, but it gives nice precision and applies very closely to the lash line. I find it works decently on the waterline too. But the best thing about this is it truly lives up to its name of being long-wearing. It looks exactly the same all day till the moment I washed it off before bed - something even the UD 24/7 liner can't do. Also, it's a twist up, so no sharpener needed. I had to learn that the hard way after cleverly attempting to sharpen it and wrecking the pencil tip!

Left to right: Bourjois, NARS and Urban Decay swatches

If you like medium black eyeliners, and natural, lightly lined eyes, I'd recommend giving the NARS pencil liner a try. Bourjois is a "no" for me, while both the NARS and UD are both great eyeliners that I'd repurchase. The NARS in comparison is more long-wearing, but the UD one wins in creaminess and shade. I love them both!

What is your favorite pencil eyeliner?

August 24, 2014

New Chanel Les 4 Ombre Quads | Thoughts & Pick

I have roughly 3 posts backlogged, but decided to slot this one in because it's way too exciting to delay - Chanel has launched a line of brand new eyeshadow quads! AHHHhhhhHHhh!!

Chanel makeup is always so tempting - it really is always a treat and never a necessity. I only had 1 Chanel quad before this (in Kaska Beige, which is discontinued), and the powdery and dry formula really did not impress me. But since Chanel new launches have been nothing but amazing lately (their Les Beige powders, cream blushes, new Coco Shine shades... love!), they had my attention this time.

These new quads definitely put Chanel back in the (eyeshadow) game. The 9 new Les 4 Ombres Eyeshadow Quads feature a baked formulation - buttery smooth, soft, and highly blendable. I first swatched the only limited edition quad, Poesie, but the shades seem 1. all quite frosty, and 2. highly dupable. I love a good neutral quad, but the high shimmer in all 4 colors seemed a bit much for me.

Then by chance, the gorgeous Les 4 Ombre Eyeshadow Quad in #204 Tisse Vendome caught my eye. Tisse Vendome contains a gorgeous caramel mid-toned brown, a warmer chocolate brown, a light peachy pink sheen, and the star of the quad - an orange apricot shade on the bottom left, which definitely is a neutral-gal's excuse to justify this purchase. No no, this isn't another neutral quad. There's an orange in it. See? 

And so one late, late Thursday work night, I decided to treat myself to Tisse Vendome. (I did have a glass of wine in me, which probably lessened the pain of paying!)


Compared to Poesie (and #208 Tisse Gabrielle / #218 Tisse Mademoiselle which I also swatched), Tisse Vendome offers more variety in texture - the apricot and light pink shimmers are frosty, much like many of the other quads, while the 2 brown shades are toned-down shimmers that balance out the quad nicely. Because of that, I think Tisse Vendome is probably the most everyday day-time appropriate among all the newly released quads.

As for the intense apricot/orange shimmer, fear not my neutral-loving friends, I promise you it's not that scary to use! I was surprisingly impressed that the shade did not leave me looking puffy-eyed; on the contrary, the peach brightens the face and blends very easily with the light brown in the quad, making it easily wearable for daytime. I also think that the warm, orange undertones of this quad will make it the perfect transition palette into fall (think brown/orange fallen leaves!).

Overall I am very impressed with Tisse Vendome. The texture of these eyeshadows are top notch - buttery smooth, just-right pigmented (sometimes eyeshadows are too pigmented..!), no fallout or powdery mess, and very, very easy to blend. It's an effortless palette that requires minimal work to apply yet creates a dimensional, put together look.

Yes, the price is outrageous, but definitely one to add to your "next-time-I-deserve-a-treat" wishlist (hooray for this being a permanent product)!

What are your thoughts on the new Chanel quads?

August 17, 2014

Pre-Serum | Melvita Plumping Radiance Duo

This is probably the most overdue review ever. I remember waiting and waiting for the Melvita Plumping Radiance Duo to launch in stores since I heard Caroline Hirons mention it in a video a few months back - this rose floral water and rose hip oil bi-phase concoction sounded too intriguing to ignore! The relaxation of a rose water spritz combined with the hydrating, regenerative properties of rose hip oil? Genius!

I snapped the above photo the very day I brought this home in May, anticipating a few weeks of testing and then a review. Fast forward 3 months later, I've forgotten about the review, until this week I was faced with this:
All gone, in a little less than 3 months. That definitely takes the award for being the face mist/spray I used up in the shortest amount of time. As I've broken into my second bottle of this today, I think it's finally time that I post this looooong overdue review. And by the looks of that completely empty bottle, you can probably guess how this review is going to pan out.

I love this stuff.

The Melvita sales girl describes this as a pre-serum, which supposedly plumps the skin, enhances radiance, and balances moisture. I've never heard of a pre-serum, although I've recently been hearing more and more about skincare layering - the idea of adding additional targeted steps to your skincare routine instead of piling on one thick and heavy does-it-all cream. I like the idea (and secretly enjoy taking my sweet time patting on one toner/serum at a time), so the idea of a pre-serum got me hooked. Anyone know of any other pre-serums out there? :)

After going through the whole bottle, I'm not sure I see any added radiance, but the light yet effecting hydration is instant and spot on. For those with oily/combination skin, this is a great middle-ground product if you've been yearning to hop on to the facial-oil-wagon, but have been concerned that full on oils are too heavy. Quoting Goldilocks, this one is just right. It's the perfect boost of luxe, rose-scented moisture without feeling too greasy. On the flip side, it does quite a fine job of balancing oiliness throughout the day, which is why I've been using this in the morning. I find this nicely compliments my morning skincare routine, since my morning serum of choice for about a year now has been the La Roche-Posay Effaclar K, which is functional, but not quite hydrating.

Big thumbs up Melvita, this is AMAZINGNESS! *stands up and slow claps*

(Side note: According to the instructions on the bottle, you're supposed to spritz this onto your palms and pat it into skin. No way. Isn't the fun of such sprays that ahhhhh refreshing sensation you get from spritzing this directly on? That's the whole point isn't it? ... I'm just going to pretend I did not read that.)

August 3, 2014

Eat Pray Love

Last month my family and I went on a weekend trip to Bali, Indonesia. The main idea was to spend some quality time together, since we're usually tied up with our jobs, scattered in different cities. There's a rumored curse that unmarried lovers who travel to Bali together will break up shortly after. I know. What!?!?!? I have no idea where this came from, but scarily enough this has consistently happened to people around me. The superstitious freak in me was secretly quite grateful that I was traveling there with family instead.

Curse aside, Bali is beautiful. It's a spiritual, happy part of Indonesia, surrounded by the Indian Ocean on the south and filled with grand, breathtaking temples, big and small. For those who read the famous "Eat Pray Love," you'll remember that Bali was her "pray" destination. And perhaps because of that, beyond the sunshine and beaches, I (perhaps subconsciously) felt a sense of tranquility and bliss. The trip was the perfect balance of relaxation (bargain beach massages. every. day.), recharge, and reflection.
Have you been traveling this summer?


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