Thursday 31 July 2008

MAC Sonic Chic Mineralize Blushes

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Review: REN Cleansers

I rarely review skincare products on this blog for the reason that I've yet to find any skincare that has been able to make a radical difference to my super oily, acne-prone yet surface dehydrated skin.

Nevertheless, I do have some favourite skincare products and one of my staple brands is Ren from the UK. What I like about Ren is that it is completely free of petrochemicals, T.E.A, D.E.A (Diethanolamine), glycols, silicones, parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrance and colors, and animal ingredients. I'm trying to make a shift towards using more organic, paraben-free skincare and Ren fits in perfectly with that. Ren's products are formulated with plant-based ingredients and what they term "bioactive elements". Plus they come in a 100% recyclable, vacuum packaging to preserve their products (and minimize the need for preservatives). Ren uses grapefruit seed extract in their products as a naturally derived stabilizing agent.

Rosa Centifolia Facial Wash (US$32, £16.50) is for normal skintypes and it contains centifolia rose petals to combat free radicals, aloe to calm and soothe skin, plus mild cleansing agents from oats and corn to gently remove dirt and pollution. The bioactives are: tannins (tightens pores, tones, and firms skin), mucilage (gummy water-like substance that acts as a humectant0, polyphenols (antioxidants) and polysaccharides (carbohydrates that contain oxygen).

The texture is a clear, almost watery gel that turns into a slightly milky consistency when lathered. What I liked about the Rosa Centifolia Facial Wash is that it is a simple, effective cleanser that rinses off very easily while leaving my face soft, supple and clean. The rose aroma is also pleasant without being too cloying or overpowering. Unlike most other cleansers that contain sodium laureth sulfate, it is very gentle on the skin and does not completely strip one's skin of moisture. Some people prefer cleansers that give a very squeaky clean feel but I find those cleansers too harsh and drying to the point that I can actually feel my skin starting to crack and peel after drying off.

The full ingredient list is as follows: Rosa Damascena Flower Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Glycerin (Source Coconut Oil), Coco-Glucoside (Source Corn), Xanthan Gum (Source Corn), Polysorbate 20 (Source Rapeseed Oil), Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Phenoxyethanol (Source Aromatic Ether), Rosa Centifolia Flower Juice, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate (Source Amino Acids), Sodium Lauroyl Oat Amino Acids (Source Oat), Lactic Acid (Source Wheat), Parfum (100% Natural Fragrance), Rosa Damascena Flower Oil.

Mayblossom and Blue Cypress Facial Wash (US$32; £16.50) is for combination, acne prone, or oily sensitive skin but I found it to be virtually identical to Rosa Centifolia Facial Wash except for the scent. The bioactives in Mayblossom and Blue Cypress Facial Wash are: flavonoids (antioxidants), salicylin (antimicrobial and unclogs pores) and guaiazulene (anti-inflammatory). Like the Rosa Centifolia Facial Wash, the Mayblosson and Blue Cypress Facial Wash is a clear gel that is gentle on my oily skin yet thorough in cleansing. It doesn't prevent breakouts as I still get whiteheads and blackheads but at least it does not aggravate them.

The complete list of ingredients is as follows: Limonene, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Water, Glycerin (Source Coconut Oil), Coco-Glucoside (Source Corn), Xanthan Gum (Source Corn), Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Crataegus Monogina (Mayblossom) Fruit Extract, Salix Nigra (Willow) Bark Extract, Phenoxyethanol (Source Aromatic Ether), Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate (Source Amino Acids), Sodium Lauroyl Oat Amino Acids (Source Oat), Lactic Acid (Source Wheat), Lavandula Angustifolia (High Altitude Lavender) Oil, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Callitris Intratropica (Blue Cypress) Oil, Linalool.

I like to use the Ren facial cleansers in the morning when my skin is just a bit oily. At the end of the day when I need to remove makeup, I usually use an oil makeup remover followed by Ipsa Cleansing Smooth Foam, which is strong enough to remove all traces of the oil makeup remover. But I find the Ipsa Cleansing Smooth Foam too drying to use frequently on its own as it causes my skin to flake so I only use it when I need to remove makeup or I feel like my skin is really dirty.

Ren skincare is available in the US on and in the UK on its own website. In Singapore, Ren is stocked at Apothecary & Co. in the basement of Raffles City where the cleansers cost around S$55 each.

Wednesday 30 July 2008

Jill Stuart Illuminance Collection

Hankyu's website has good pics of Jill Stuart's upcoming Illuminance collection, that are probably much more accurate than the swatches on the official Jill Stuart website.

Illuminance Eyes

Mix Blush Compact Illuminance

Lip Lustres

Nail Lacquer N

Giorgio Armani Silk Gold Collection

Armani has released an Asia-exclusive Gold Collection of its Armani Silk lipsticks. The collection features 7 shades infused with gold pearl shimmer, of which 5 are limited edition and 2 are permanent. Each retails for 3885yen.

List of shades:
#81 Top Coat Gold (LE)
#82 White Gold (LE)
#83 Pink Gold (LE)
#84 Yellow Gold (LE)
#85 Beige Gold (LE)
#86 Amber Gold (new)
#87 Rose Gold (new)

Shu Uemura Website Update

The Shu Uemura website has been updated with the new fall collection, Instinct, which is also the brand's 127th "mode makeup collection". (The recent 25th Boutique Anniversary collection does not count as a mode makeup collection.) I love the dramatic smokey eye makeup on the model in the promo visual.

This is the first mode collection that is not produced by the brand's founder, makeup maestro Shu Uemura who passed away last December. Created by Shu Uemura International Artistic Director, Uchiide Kakuyasu, who was personally groomed by Shu for many years, the collection is designed to bring out women's inner sensuality and femininity with layerable, sensual and iridescent shades of fall in modern, elegant palettes covered in silver, gold and black motifs.

Instead of the usual focus on eye makeup, Uchiide is more concerned about skin, in particular how to create skin with the inner glow that one gets when one is in love. To that end, he created the limited edition Luring Powder Rose (4200yen) which helps to give skin a gentle rosy flush of colour.

The American version of Instinct differs from the Japanese collection. Japan, and presumably the rest of Asia, is getting three limited edition Cream Eyeshadows (2940yen) in Mystifier, Tantaliser and Mesmeriser and three new Eyeshadow N (2415yen) in ME Brown 850, ME Brown 855 and ME Gold 350.

The American collection features eyeshadow duos (US$36) that comprise one cream eyeshadow and one Eyeshadow N. The duos are much more convenient and portable but the disadvantage is that you don't get to select the shades that you want.

The American collection also has a limited edition Glow On Blush in Steam that is not part of the Japanese collection. Steam is described as a 'luxurious, sensual highlight shade with platinum-like glitters that glamorously lights up the face'.

The Japanese collection on the other hand, has a limited edition Twilight Zone false eyelashes (2310yen) in gradational shades of purple and brown, and three limited edition Vinyl Unlimited (Lip Gloss) that are not available in the US.

I've got my eye on the Cream Eyeshadows, especially the dark plum Mesmeriser and dark green Mystifier, which look like they would be excellent used on their own or as bases for powder eyeshadow. Can't wait for the collection to launch in Singapore!

Monday 28 July 2008

Latest Topshop lemming

Topshop has been one of my favourite British high street brands since my student days in the UK back in the late 1990s. The quality varies greatly and some of the recent stuff looks and feels cheap. But when Topshop is good, it's brilliant.

Currently, I'm developing a huge lemming for this asymmetrical biker style blazer in a tartan print. I just adore everything about it, the 3/4 sleeves with the slight flare, the slit pockets that are cut at a flattering angle, the ruching at the back, the asymmetrical zip down the front, the inviting collar and the pointy ends of the front. And *only* 45 pounds! It's British high street fashion at its best.

Wonder how my dear brother, who lives in the UK, feels about doing a CP?

InRed x Jill Stuart

Ever wonder what other strange things makeup addicts do (aside from collecting prodigiously obscene amounts of makeup that no woman will ever be able to use up in one lifetime)? Well, one thing that this makeup addict frequently finds herself doing is stalking Kinokuniya for the latest shipments of Japanese magazines. It being a Japanese bookstore, they actually have a notice board where they put up information on the dates of the next few air and sea shipments and the titles of the magazines that will be coming in each shipment. Aside from picking up my usual beauty magazines like Voce, Biteki, Bea's Up and Maquia, I'm often on the lookout for Japanese women's magazines with cute collectible freebies by brands such as Stila, Paul & Joe, Rebecca Taylor or Jill Stuart.

My target this evening was the magazine InRed, which comes with a pink Jill Stuart coin purse. For me, basically any magazine collectible branded with Jill Stuart sets off clanging "MUST GET!!" alarm bells. Especially since Jill Stuart wallets usually cost upwards of 5000yen. Of course, you can't expect a trinket from a magazine that costs only 630yen to be made of luxurious leather but if they are decently made, they're still a delight to have.

Anyway, that was how I found myself pacing the Japanese magazine section at Kinokuniya this evening for an hour. I got there at 7pm but the sales staff told me that the magazine would only be 'released' at 8pm. (Another very Japanese facet of Kino!) So I hiked over to HMV to check out the British magazines (see, HMV, unlike other bookstores in Singapore, brings in the British fashion mags such as Elle with their freebies, such as tote bags, flip flops, even makeup items, still attached!). UK Elle had a Warehouse tank top (choice of grey, black, dark beige) and Red had a huge tote bag but neither were pretty enough to splurge on. So I went back to Kino and waited patiently until 8pm before approaching the staff again and this time, I finally got my hands on InRed! And of course, after having waited so long to get it, I end up buying TWO copies, rationalising that I might as well get an extra that will make a nice gift since that is one hour of my life that I'm never getting back anyway! Kind of like why makeup addicts buy backups of things like MAC Parrot eyeshadow even though they know they will never be able to use up a single pot of it.

So, here it is in all its shiny pink glory! It turned out to be larger than I expected, bigger than my palm but actually it's not that roomy because it is totally flat on one side and the zip is only on the right edge instead of all around the circumference. The material is quite thin and feels like vinyl, so I'm not sure how much wear and tear it can take. But I love the cute apple design and details such as the small oval piece that's attached to the zip. Was it worth stalking Kino for an hour? You bet!! :-)

My next target? The Paul & Joe silky drawstring pouch that comes with a foundation sample and primer sample in the October issue of Biteki and the Paul & Joe Sister tote bag in the October issue of Spring :-)

Saturday 26 July 2008

Nina Ricci Pretty Nina EDT

I received this miniature of Nina Ricci Pretty Nina EDT with my purchase of Style magazine at Kinokuniya recently. The first flanker to Nina Ricci's Nina perfume which was launched in 2006, Pretty Nina is supposed to be fresher at the opening, with a grapefruit-caipirinha accord; and gentler at the heart, with fruity notes of green apple and raspberry melting with Sambac jasmine. The somewhat gourmand drydown blends apple wood, caramel, vanilla and musks.

It's very different from DKNY's Be Delicious which has a fresher, more citrusy accord. I find Pretty Nina to be a bit too cloying and sweet for my taste, probably due to the gourmand notes. After 5 minutes, the grapefruit notes disappear completely on me and I smell mostly caramel and vanilla with just the barest hint of green apple and raspberry. It smells mainly like toffee apple to me! It's pleasant and would be perfect for a girly teenager but I still prefer Marc Jacobs Daisy to this.

Suqqu Fall Collection

Suqqu's new fall collection, Kokoroiro - Himeaka (loosely translated as "Heart colors - secret red", will be launched on 8 August in Japan. The collection includes

1. Eyelid Base: powder eyeshadow base (4200yen)

2. Dual Eyeshadow: 5 duos each comprising a dark shading color and a light highlighting shade with green nuance pearl (5250yen)

3. Eyeliner Creamy: in 3 new shades, #3 Jet Bordeaux, #4 Brown and #5 Green Blue (3990yen)

4. Mascara: in 3 formulas, Volume N, Long N and Volume Long N. Both Long N and Volume Long N are fibre-based mascaras. (5250yen)

5. Blend Cheeks: #5 Kasenebeni (6825yen)

6. Blend Lipstick #12 Kishu, #13 Kogareshu and #14 Kaki (5250yen)

7. Gloss and Lip Color: in 3 limited edition shades, EX04 Oncha, EX05 Omoka and EX06 Harecha (3360yen)

I've never been a fan of Suqqu as its makeup just does not look attractive enough to me to justify the high price points.

Friday 25 July 2008

Magie Decorte Christmas Coffret

Anyone else already bored with the fall makeup collections and looking ahead to Christmas? If so, here are some pics of the Magie Decorte Christmas coffret set for Holiday'08 from 2Channel. The set, which will retail for 6300yen, includes a Fairy Powder, Fairy Eyes GD040 (liquid eyeshadow) and Fairy Gloss RO660.

Thursday 24 July 2008

Lunasol, Kate and Lavshuca Website Updates

The Lunasol, Kate and Lavshuca websites have all been updated with the fall collections.

Mika Nakashima's legs look scarily skinny in this pic. The website also features the new TV CM and clips on the shooting of the CMs.