Saturday 31 December 2011

Post-Christmas Haul: Elie Saab, Issey Miyake, Lancome, Nars, Philosophy

Indulged in a bit of shopping during the post-Christmas sales.

Elie Saab Le Parfum is a sweet floral fragrance composed of orange blossom, jasmine, patchouli, rose and cedarwood notes. This has been garnering positive reviews online, so when I spied the coffret going for 30% off at my local department store in Switzerland, I snapped it up. I like that it is not too heady or generic.

A Scent by Issey Miyake Neroli Sunshine has fresh crisp opening notes like the original but a spicier, more complex heart of neroli, jasmine and hyacinth that settles very nicely on my skin. I snagged this for 50% off the highly inflated original retail price of CHF99.90.

For my mother, I picked up this Lancome L'Absolue set of four mini lipsticks (1.6g each, versus the regular size of 4g) which was going at half the original price of CHF49.90. This set retails in the UK and France for only about CHF30 and CHF33 respectively, which gives you an idea of how inflated makeup prices are in Switzerland!

It contains two L'Absolue Rouge BX lipsticks in #06 Rose Nu and #132 Caprice, and two L'Absolue Nu lipsticks in #302 Voile de Rose and #201 Beige de Soie.

At a pharmacy in France, I picked up this Biotherm duo set of Lait Corporel, for 40€, down from the original price of 63€. The unique soft citrus scent is still one of my favourite scents ever.

The year-end holidays aren't quite complete without some delightful treats from Philosophy, so I was happy to find the Tinsel Town 3-in-1 shower gel and Holly Berry Bubbly bubble bath at a Sephora across the border in France. These were just 9.90€ for 480ml each.

Tinsel Town looks shimmery in the bottle but it does not leave any shimmer on the skin. It's a yummy berry scent with a fresh peppermint note.

From NARS, I got the Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base and G-Spot Multiple from the holiday collection. The prices in euros are significantly marked up compared to the US (e.g. US$39 for the Multiple versus 40.50€ in France), but probably still cheaper than Switzerland.

At a outlet mall, I found these boots by Geox, which has become my favourite brand for shoes. Not only are the boots comfortable, the soles have sufficient thickness and grip, perfect for the rainy and snowy weather over here.

Hope you're enjoying the holiday season too!

Soap & Glory Cheekmate

Being a fan of Soap & Glory's bodycare line, I was elated when they launched a full makeup range earlier this year. It did not make its way to Sephora Singapore this year so I had my husband pick up a few items from Boots in London. Cheekmate, a cherry red cheek and lip stain, was top of my shopping list.

Like their bodycare line, Soap & Glory's makeup line is very affordably priced with fun concepts and great product design with their trademark sense of humor. Cheekmate retails officially at just £8, but my husband actually paid less as Boots had a "3 for the price for 2" offer on S&G, as they frequently seem to do.

Enriched with Vitamin C, kiwi and raspberry extracts, Cheekmate is a lightweight gel stain that melds effortlessly into the skin for a healthy rosy color. It comes in a convenient travel-friendly squeeze tube that makes it easy to control the amount of product dispensed. The tube looks tiny with only 11ml of product, but the gel stain is well-pigmented so one only needs a very tiny amount for each application. Even with daily use, one tube is likely to last at least 4 months.

Aside from its non-greasy feel, I was also impressed by its lasting power on my skin. It wore very well over more than 8 hours without any fading, much better than most powder blushes that I've tried. The gel texture is also easier to apply without any streaks than Benefit's Benetint. I don't use it on my lips as I prefer lipglosses or lipsticks.

Here are some comparison swatches with the other cheek stains in my collection. The pic below shows (from left to right): Cheekmate, Becca Beach Tint in Watermelon, Essence Bloody Mary Blush Gel and Armani Blushing Fabric #1. Both Cheekmate and the Essence Blush Gel have a clear gel texture whereas the Becca and Armani blushes have more of a cream texture that sheers out to a translucent finish.

Compared to Cheekmate, Becca Watermelon Beach Tint has a more orange undertone while the Essence Blush Gel is more raspberry and Armani Blushing Fabric #1 is more candy pink. Only the Armani blush has the faintest hint of gold shimmer. Cheekmate is the most well-pigmented of the lot. All four can be layered easily for a more intense finish but Cheekmate takes the least amount of product to achieve an intense swatch of color.

When applying Cheekmate, I apply it much more lightly, like the swatch on the extreme left of the photo below. If you have access to Soap & Glory's makeup line, Cheekmate is definitely well worth checking out. I hope Soap & Glory releases more shades in the future.

Ingredients list.

Thursday 29 December 2011

Maybelline 2012 Calendar

Here's a behind-the-scenes look at the shooting of Maybelline's New York career women-themed 2012 calendar. The team behind the calendar includes Maybelline Global Makeup Director Charlotte Willer, photographer Kenneth Willardt, stylist Patricia Field and hair stylists Serge Normant and Stephanie Lancent.

You can download the screensaver on the Maybelline Japan website.

Operation Use It Up

Here's the batch of products that I managed to use up this month.

1. Paula's Choice Targeted Acne Relief Toner: This fragrance-free, colorant-free toner contains 2% salicylic acid for combating acne. It didn't sting my skin and it worked very well for me in terms of keeping large, cystic acne at bay although I still get whiteheads and blackheads. Will definitely re-purchase!

2. Vidal Sassoon Treatment: This rinse-off deep conditioning hair treatment left my hair soft and easy to manage, although it did not make any significant improvement in the dry condition of my color-treated hair.

3. Dove Nourishing Oil Care Express Treatment Conditioner: I found this to be more hydrating than the Vidal Sassoon Treatment and it helped to tame the frizziness without weighing my hair down. It was also intriguing in the way that it always squeezed out of the tube with a golden "ribbon" of treatment cream.

4. Bliss Ingrown Eliminating Pads: This contains 6% glycolic acid and 2% salicylic acid to help prevent ingrowns, plus lavender oil and green tea to soothe the skin. Sadly, these overpriced pads did not seem to make any difference in the rate at which I get ingrown hairs on my legs.

5. La Roche-Posay Physiological Micellar Solution: This gentle non-oily lotion helps to remove light makeup without any oily residue but it does not remove waterproof mascara well.

6. Eye makeup removers by Etude House and RMK: Both bi-phase removers worked well to remove waterproof mascaras without stinging the eyes.

7. Jurlique Rosewater Balancing Mist: Horribly expensive but I adore the rose scent, which works wonders as a mood-lifter and for relieving dry, parched skin. The rose scent also lingers for quite awhile but without being overly cloying.

8. Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil Premium A/I: This whisks off all traces of makeup in a jiffy but I prefer the lighter formula of the Fresh Gentle Cleansing Oil (pink).

9. Perricone MD Firming Facial Toner: This paraben-free, non-drying toner is supposed to help restores skin’s natural pH balance and delivers anti-aging, skin firming benefits thanks to ingredients like DMAE and alpha lipoic acid, an anti-inflammatory antioxidant. I liked how it left my skin feeling refreshed without any tightness, but I didn't notice any significant skin firming effect.

10. Sephora Smooth Nail Polish Remover: Very affordable and works well to remove most nail polishes quickly, although glitter polishes require more soaking time.

Monday 26 December 2011

KIM Brushes

Recently, KIM Brushes sent me a selection of their brushes for review. KIM is the line of professional handmade makeup brushes by Rekab, which has 100 years of experience in making fine art brushes.

The pic below shows (from top to bottom) the Eye Shader 122, Narrow Lip 311 and Small Angle 131 brushes. The Eye Shader 122 brush (US$12) is a flat synthetic brush with a width of 1cm that is suitable for "shiny shadows and for precise and fine make-up". The bristles are very smooth and well-shaped with a nice firmness. I find it a tad large for eye makeup. Instead, I like to use it for applying concealer under the eyes and also the sides of the nose.

The Narrow Lip 311 brush (US$9) is a flat brush with a slightly tapered tip. This worked very well for applying lipsticks and lipglosses precisely and evenly. With very pigmented lipsticks like MAC Candy Yum-Yum (a neon, matte pink), applying straight from the tube tends to deposit too much product on the lips but using a lip brush allows one to gradually layer the shade to the desired intensity.

The Small Angle 131 brush (US$10) is a flat angular brush that can be used for lining the eyes as well as the eyebrows. This worked well for applying gel eyeliners without tugging at the skin, but it was not quite thin enough for creating a precise small upward flick at the outer corners.

The Round F251 brush (US$39) is a duo fibre brush designed for application of liquid make-up. In terms of the size and shape, it is very similar to the MAC #187 brush which retails at US$42.

I like using the F251 brush for applying blushes and face highlighters as it helps to provide an even, almost airbrushed-like finish. Although it did shed a few hairs during the first time I washed it, it did not shed during the times that I used it to apply makeup.

All four brushes feel well made with smooth wooden handles. The metal ferrules are fastened firmly without any visible glue bits. With the exception of the F251 brush, the brushes did not shed. However, the handles are a tad long for my liking and tend to knock into the mirror when I lean too close (as I'm short-sighted).

KIM Brushes are based in the US and they ship internationally. The list of countries that they ship to can be found here.

Paul & Joe and Anna Sui Website Updates

The Paul & Joe website has been updated with the Kitten collection. According to Grazia, the collection will be launching exclusively on on 1 January. It will also be available in London at Fenwick on 14 January and Harrods from 23 January 2012. For Japan, the Collection Sparkles face colors and lipsticks will be released on 6 January and the rest will debut on 3 February. Right now, is having a sale on the Manhattan and Ornamental collections for fall and winter.

The Anna Sui website has also been updated with the Rose Fairy Collection.

Sunday 25 December 2011

Christmas Presents and Beauty Goodies

My husband and mother just arrived in time to spend the Christmas together. Coming respectively from London and Singapore, they brought along a wonderful bounty of beauty lovelies for me, including presents as well as my own purchases.

Many thanks to Mag who kindly helped me to purchase the Lunasol Modelling Cheeks EX03 Coral Pink Red from the Tender Glow holiday collection and the new Guerlain Meteorites.

I've barely made a dent in the other three Meteorites that I own but the deep teal packaging of the Perles de Nuit Meteorites was too lovely to resist.

Mag also surprised me with a gift of MAC Paint Pot in Genuine Treasure, which looks simply divine.

During an earlier sale, I ordered NARS Outremer eyeshadow. It doesn't have the best texture but the bold cobalt is incredibly striking.

Rimmel Glam'Eyes Quad Eye Shadow 021 State of Grace

Paul & Joe Nail Enamel 018 The City Never Sleeps from the Manhattan collection.

My dear husband made an expedition to Boots to help me snag some Soap & Glory makeup. Love the cheerful pink packaging!

Also from Boots, the Liberty x Hello Kitty brush set and umbrella.

An Accessorize charm bracelet/watch from

From my husband's cousin, I received Clinique Complete Happiness, a set of five Happy fragrances in the original version, plus Happy Heart, Happy In Bloom, A Hint of Citrus and A Wealth of Flowers. It's been many years since I wore Happy but it still works wonders in lifting one's spirits!

The new Jill Stuart mook comes with a vanity case and flat zip pouch. The material is similar to that of the cosmetics case that was included with last year's mook.

I didn't like the "J" charms on the zips as they are a tad too small with edges that poke the skin when one is trying to unzip the case.

It is incredibly roomy and deep, which makes it more suitable for storing skincare bottles. In it, I could fit two 500ml bottles of Bioderma, an Avene Thermal Water spray, two small Lush shower gels, a L'Occitane face mist and a Vichy eye makeup remover.

The Majolica Majorca Voyage mook is the most elaborate and beautifully designed mook I've come across. Filled to the brim with makeup tutorials divided into chapters like "State of Potions", "United Stars" and "Mask-land", it comes with a small plastic gold hand mirror and a shimmery gel that can be used on the face and lips.

As Yumeko has remarked, the mirror is a disappointment as it is very light with a tinny sound when tapped. Nevertheless, the mook itself is very nicely done, although I wish they had included more of the brand's history through a retrospective of the past seasonal collections. As this is not available at Kinokuniya in Singapore, I had to order it from Amazon Japan.

Lee magazine with a Liberty print zip pouch and a lovely Flowers in Pink calendar. Lee had released a similar calendar and Liberty print accessories in its January 2010 issue last December.

And finally, a boxful of Lush goodies!

Wishing everyone a merry Christmas filled with lots of laughter, warmth and love!