Thursday, 29 January 2015

Makeup Academy Romantic Efflorescence Palette

The Makeup Academy Romantic Efflorescence is one of their newest palettes, which came out by the end of November last year I think, that is quite perfect for winter. It includes various brown and plum tones that are supposed to create "romantic" wintery looks for a mere £4.00. This is the very first time that I'm so fond of their promotional photograph: just look at this girl! She's pretty much perfect, however I wish they opted for a more berry-toned lip color, then that would certainly capture the winter spirit. I could do not much else than ordering this beauty to find out if it really lives up to my rather high hopes.

From left to right, top to bottom we have 12 shades in total:
  • Mesmeric – A matte peach which I tend to use to blow out the edges of other color to achieve a smoother transition.
  • Tempt – A shimmery burgundy purple that looks hella alike Bourjois' Prune Nocturne.
  • Corrupt – A matte black.
  • Obsessed – A pearl finish mid-brown shade with purple tones.
  • Lavish – A matte taupe-brown.
  • Fiery – A shimmery/slightly chunkier copper gold.
  • Bewitch – A shimmery taupe.
  • Magnet – A matte gunmetal gray.
  • Exposed – A shimmery gray with every so slightly tint of purple.
  • Siren – A matte blue-toned purple.
  • Reveal – A light shimmery silver champagne.
  • Captivate – A warm mid-toned matte brown.
I like the balance between shimmery and matte shades in this palette, 6-6 to be exact. The palette itself looks pretty and sophisticated with all white quite durable plastic and silver label; also MUA recently comes up with specific names for each shades in their new offerings that makes it much easier to determine which shade is which for people who like to Google swatches and reviews before purchasing something (like me!).  However, I must say the pigmentation across the board is rather disappointing: most of them lack pigmentation, powdery, tend to sheer out and create quite a shower of fall out under the eyes except for Fiery (the copper gold). I couldn't bring myself to swatch them on my arm since I found it best to use a small brush to pack and build up pigmentation rather than swiping the shades in. I feel like they added a little too much filler to the powder rather than pigment unlike their Undressed and Heaven And Earth palettes (my personal neutral-toned favourite palettes from MUA). The shade I had the highest hope for was Tempt – which looks exciting in the pan – lacks majorly in the pigmentation department.

If you prefer your eyeshadows to be in the softer, less pronounced side then these colours are great for you since they blend quite nicely; but if you're like me that want them to pop, then a base is a must. I used Too Faced Eyeshadow Insurance first, then a light layer of Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad To The Bronze as a base before applying these colors. The end result was pleasing, but not enough for me to praise for this particular palette. If you're after plums, purples and golds then a rather affordable yet excellent alternative is the Sleek i-Divine Vintage Romance.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Makeup Academy Undressed Baked Bronzer - Another Shimmery Bronzer?

Do I really need another shimmery bronzer? So, I already have like 3 shimmery bronzers in my makeup drawer yearning to be used but I just don't really feel them. For me, a great way to give dimension to my face is to use a contour powder (again, Illamasqua Powder Foundation in 230 is my product of choice since it's soft, blendable and has a slight gray tint to it which gives a very realistic look to the hollow of the cheeks) then a blush and highlighter. Sometimes I use a matte bronzer in conjunction with the contouring powder to warm my face up in case I use more gold/bronze tones on my eyelids, but shimmery bronzers?

Well, the answer to the question in the post title is always YES. I just can't help getting and trying out new products, especially since it has such beautiful marbleized finish. The Makeup Academy Undressed Baked Bronzer is one of the products that I simply cannot ignore, especially since it's only £3.00 for 10g of product. Talk about a bargain! But is it really worth trying out? 

Upon swirling my finger on the surface of the product it's soft and finely milled, hence when using a fluffy brush it may create quite a cloud of loose product but it's ok for me since I hate baked products that are almost impossible to pick up a fair amount to use. The best example I can give is the Bourjois Little Round Pot Blush in Lune d'Or which I have to use a sharp object to scrap the surface off into loose powder before using. This bronzer contains three distinct colors: a satin-slightly shimmery (without any obvious shimmer particles) peachy bronze, a chunkier shimmery golden bronze and a smooth shimmery white. Since the veining is too little the only way to use it is to swirl all colors together to reveal a soft shimmer peachy bronze. 

I like using this right above the contour shade as a blusher/bronzer hybrid to warm up and give a hint of summer glow to my face. I'd recommend using this on the cheeks and probably on the eyelids only since if used on the forehead and the perimeter of the face it may look too shimmery and artificial. Overall, fantastic product. I really like the white packaging too, it looks lovely and substantial enough to fight with everything else in my makeup bag.

In case you're wondering how to contour/bronze I do find this instruction quite helpful.

Monday, 19 January 2015

*Shortness Of Breath In Men* On The Go: theBalm Smoke Balm

Nobody in their right mind can understand my quest of finding the perfect travel eyeshadow palette that fulfills all my needs: compact, portable, sturdy, durable, has a mirror, can create a complete look (highlight, transition and accent colors) and multitasking. Such quest has temporarily come to an end now with theBalm Smoke Balm eyeshadow trio since it ticks all boxes.

It's incredibly tiny (one centimeter more to be the same length as my iPhone 4s, and only 4/5 of the width) yet packs a punch with 10.2g of product, so 3.4g for each shade. 
  • Combust/Charbonneux: a super shimmery champagne that leans towards yellow. The color payoff is similar to Mary-lou Manizer but more powdery and yellow.
  • Glow/Rayonnant: a gray-toned medium brown, super smooth to the touch yet powdery and kicks off a lot of product if picked up by a fluffy brush. On the bright side, it blends seamlessly onto the skin and can be easily built up.
  • Kindle/S'embraser: another gray-toned deep forest green with light-medium shimmer level, smooth and easy to use.

This trio is super cute with it quirky pin up packaging "Warning: may cause shortness of breath in men" and the ease of use: most of the time I happen to pack one too many eyeshadow palettes that makes choosing which shade(s) to use almost impossible. With this I know well I don't have many choices (ha!) but it's in fact super convenient as I know the three shades work well with each other and create a simple somewhat neutral smokey look since the green looks more grayish black on the lids. They also help me save so much space and that packing hassle since I can use Combust also as a browbone/cheekbone highlighter and Glow (what? It's a matte brown, nothing glowy here) as a contour shade to sculpt out my facial structure. All in all, fantastic little treat.

It is retailed for £11.50 currently on ASOS, Kohls and Feel Unique with two variations available (the other one is a more classic combination of champagne, brown and black)

Friday, 16 January 2015

7 Deadly Sins Of Beauty

Well, welcome wasps I miss you (Mr. Jeffery Deaver I adore you "The Empty Chair" book and its cover that features this lovely creature; though I got shiver down my spine every now and then reading the narration). As reading Musings of a Muse I stumbled upon this post and though it would be a nice idea, or at least to keep my mind of things a bit. Not exactly since now I have to rearrange my thoughts to decide the answer to each of the 7 sins/questions below. No ragrets!

Greed: What’s your most expensive beauty item?
I don't own one that is utterly ridiculously cringe-worthy beauty item but if I have to choose one that would be luxury scented candles (Diptyque, Eve Lom etc). Nobody got time fo dat, unless you're another Prince Regent who spent most of his fortune (if any) on socks.

Wrath: What item do you have a love/hate relationship with?
Base products. As soon as I put foundation and then powder on, my skin looks flaaaawless but then within 2 hours it becomes a hot mess. I've tried so many different bases and powders, high-end or low-end, pressed or loose, mattifying or normal, the end result is pretty much the same.

Gluttony: What brand takes up most of your collection?
My collection is quite diverse, but I think I have many Makeup Academy MUA products since I ordered loads during their massive sales almost 2 years ago.

Sloth: What product do you neglect the most due to laziness?
Never ever body lotion, and most of the time hand lotion/cream. I don't know, I just don't like spending ages smoothing lotion onto my body, it reminds me too much of Silence Of The Lambs "It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again.". Ugh! Also, fresh out of the shower the skin is usually still moist so the lotion doesn't absorb right away, it takes a lot of time not to mention the messy white film it appears to be before completely soaks into the skin. Not a good look, and it's rather weird rubbing some artificial substance onto your naked body. Ugh! again. (my apology if I disgusted you with my "passion").

Pride: What product gives you the most confidence?
Good eyebrows all the way! I spend time to fill in my brows every morning before going to work, they really frame my face and make me feel much better since I'm too conscious about them being complete uneven and of odd shapes.

Lust: Which item is top of your beauty wish list?
Clinique Cheek Pop blusher in Plum Pop, yuuum... and then the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush palette.

Envy: Which makeup product/look is great on others but not on you?
I'm not so sure since I experiment with almost everything and I wear my makeup how I see fit without caring about what people may think. Rebel heart.
However I don't really think that bare eyes with only mascara and deep lips look nice on me, I prefer a bit of shading and smokiness on my eyelids. In other words, dual darkness, haha.

So these are my answers, which are subject to alteration at any unnoticed moment. Yes I wrote policies for my company's websites, that's why. Hope you're having a nice day and see you in my other posts - lots are coming soon!

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Online Shopping Misses And Sites That Totally Rock

Online shopping, ah, what a close-to-the-heart subject to me! Never before has shopping been easier, faster and more convenient. When I was younger whenever I wanted a pair of shoes (which happened too often since only one part of my body - feet - seemed to grow, the rest not so much) I had to go from shop to shop looking for something I liked and my purse would not cry. Those were the days! Being a frequent online shopper myself, however, I have accumulated a list of pet peeves that are engraved so deep in my heart I could start a petition to put a stop to them, or at least for brands/stores to consider:

  1. [International] Shipping charges that cost a fortune. I'm looking at you Illamasqua, I will never ditch out £9.00 to deliver a lipgloss. You and so many others: Cherry Culture, Coastal Scent, Beauty Joint etc. On a more positive note, sometimes it is flat rate so if you can spend, say, a large amount of dough for their product, congratulations, otherwise not so much.
  2. [Ridiculous idea of] International shipping aka America means North America & Canada, Australia, Europe means Britain, France, Germany and some bigger countries, Asia means China, Japan, Hongkong, Singapore. The country list may expand a bit but not too noticeable. That's not how any of this works!
  3. This product cannot be delivered to your country. Like, seriously, how is it "dangerous" to ship a NARS Contouring  Blush duo to Vietnam? I would be delighted to listen to your reasonings, but what the hell?! What makes it worse is unlike canned products (i.e dry shampoos or other sprays) and nail varnishes (which I still wonder why) which I already know that can hardly be shipped by air, most websites don't disclose in their shipping policy so the only way to find out is that you put some Benefit Ultra Plush lipglosses and NARS in your cart, overly excited that you are having a bargain of your life, go to check out only to realise that you can never ever get this beauty. Let's spare a moment of silent for our brothers and sisters deep in disappointment and anger.
  4. "Up to 70% off if you spend $1M" - well, not technically that much money but you know what I mean. The same with "Free standard shipping if you spend $xx". With all seriousness, how dare you put out such promotion when standard shipping should take around $10 considering how light makeup products generally are. The worst example I can think off is Sleek Makeup during their winter sale: spend $70 for free standard shipping while the shipment only costs $3 normally (!). And usually, that painfully eye-catching banner of such sale immediately grabs our attention, and to be honest, drives us madly into a shopping craze. However, most of the time, the products that have the biggest discount percents only are things / colours that nobody bothers to even look at, let alone purchase, and the number of choices is usually limited. The other things that we want have the teeniest tiniest percent of discount, but at the end of the day, they are still "up to" such enormous percent off. You're not wrong, you're just an a**hole (my years absorbing 9GAG jokes and thinking in memes finally pay off). 
  5. Unclear policies, poor customer service and long shipping time. Enough said.
So there you have it, my list of pet peeves that I encountered almost everytime I go shopping online, whether it's for makeup, books or clothes. That being said, though, below are some sites that I think totally rocks:
  • ASOS - a wide selection of clothes, makeup and accessories. Free worldwide delivery when £20 is spent, otherwise shipping charge is £3 - you know my addiction, people.
  • Look Fantastic - premium makeup and skin care, always free delivery with no minimum spend. I've just ordered a BECCA product from them and will update on the whole process soon. By the by they're hosting an "up to 50% off" but the selection is quite nice and diverse.
  • SpaceNK - über premium makeup and skin care, free worldwide shipping for your first order, otherwise £5.00 including VAT. They're having a massive sale even though most products are now sold out.
  • Sleek Makeup - lovely makeup products, $3 worldwide shipping. Overall nice place to shop except when they put out some laughable promotions.
  • Book Depository - always free worldwide delivery to most countries, wide selection of books at usually discounted prices.
* Disclaimer: All websites mentioned are for demonstrative purpose only. No ill-will, boycott or personal hatred involved.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Bashing The Cliché *What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger* And Thoughts On Depressions

Whoever says this sentence has no idea how it feels to constantly have depressions.

One of the most ignored mental problems is depression, and it, however, sometimes is assumed only when one gets bored. Even though I am no expert, there's a noticeable difference: boredom goes away, depression does not. Having myself Borderline Disorder (which can be interpreted as suffering from constant emotional chaos and overreacting to everything to keep it simple), I go through the aforementioned phases on a daily basis: boredom is when something is no longer interesting, or you temporarily cannot quite catch what's the meaning of life (for example when you've just finished a series that you were so much into it and seemingly lost track of reality), but if you get something exciting enough to amuse with, all sorted. On the other hand, depression is when one does not know what to do, even what to feel, everything is meaningless and hurtful to them. They don't always appear to be sad, or distant, they even "are" cheerful and full of energy when put into society, but even when being surrounded by such crowd, or as soon as being alone, they silently draw back to their own solitude and emptiness. Such depression not only affects one's mental health, it also affects bodily healthiness due to constant lack is sleep and peace of mind. Bodily pains can be cured, mentally: not so easy.

I cannot emphasise enough the fact that you cannot ask someone who is depressed to stop being depressed, it is not that simple. It is a state of mental being that requires unaccountable amount of will and effort to live with, let alone get pass it. However, there's an undeniable fact (at least to me) that we (the depressed entity) want to be understood and sympathised, but we don't want to confess such craving, and we by no mean want to be taken pity on, or treated differently as if being sick or having "mental illness".

This gets us to the point of the same old cliché: What doesn't kill you makes you stronger (by the by, sorry Kelly Clarkson, I hate this particular song of yours). Yes, it might be correct to a fair number of people who are classified as being normal, the ones who are perfectly healthy both physically and mentally, who can control their feelings and go by reasons, though sometimes can be affected by temporary mental/emotional instability. A different fair amount of people find it hard to cope up with life's situations and changes, with all of its ups-and-downs. What kills them really kills them: it makes them doubtful of what's worth living for, say, a person who suddenly loses everything most if the time has a critical crisis of what to do with his life, and will most likely commit suicide. We, the others, are just the same. We seldom remember the ups, only the downs.

This whole seemingly serious subject makes me think of a beautiful song by Bad Pollyanna: Invincible Girl, which quite sums up what I want to say today:

What doesn't kill you makes you wonder if it's all the same
It's harder to love and so simple to hate
It doesn't scare me when the demons come out to play
I know their secrets, I know their pain.


Now I'm the invincible girl, don't need you to save me from this world
For nothing can hurt the unbeatable girl
I'll stand by the bridges I have burned...

My advices would be: try to seek for professional assistance whenever possible, otherwise, try to accept the fact that you are different and find something to occupy your mind with: find a hobby, try something new, put yourself among positiveness. Little by little you will find it easier to cope up with contingencies and fickleness of mind. I am lucky enough to find peace in makeup: I have my wishlist and goals to achieve, whether it is to perfect the liner technique or just to save enough to afford a luxury makeup item, that keeps me going. The excitement of ordering new things, waiting for them to arrive and experimenting with them is my kind of positivity. I cannot say that I was saved, but to put it out there: I am partially converted.

We wish to be able to escape this cage of depression, but we simultaneously shamefully enjoy being trapped inside. Because in the end, we are just ourselves, and normal is not the norm, it's just a uniform.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Paul & Joe Cream Parlour Lipglosses: Something You Don't Need But *Should* Have

Look at these beauties! 

Just look at them and try to hold back the urge of trying to grab them through the screen. Yes I know how you feel.

Paul & Joe has always been in my list of beauty brands that need special attention and craving. Their cat-shaped lipsticks are a dream for any cat lady/gentleman out there. Cats and lipsticks, no dream has ever been wilder and more ambitious, yet Paul & Joe has done it to leave us in awe. However, I try to avoid them as much as my willing power permits, not only because of the hefty price tag but who on earth is cruel enough to destroy that cat lipstick?!

That being said, though, during a massive ASOS sale 2 months back I think, these were unbelievably reduced. Originally priced at £18.00 each, Caramel Ribbon was down to £5.50 and Orange Pineapple £6.00 which was too good to be true. On top of that I also had a 20% off coupon marking them down to only £4.40 and £4.80. Talk about bargain! I believe they are currently out of stock but you can always take a peak here to grab them up as soon as they come back.

As you can very well see, they come in a squeeze tube which contains an enormous amount 17ml of product inside. I love the design from the box down to the very cap, they all have the iconic Paul & Joe flower that I find fun and sophisticated at the same time. There must be a reason apart from the product's quality that high-end brands are brave enough to charge a good amount of cash on these. 
  • Caramel Ribbon is a semi sheer brown shimmery gloss that can be worn on its own; the shimmer particles are very fine so it's not at all uncomfortable to wear. 
  • Orange Pineapple on the other hand is a sheer yet very creamy pastel orange/coral.
The smell of these is divine exactly what the names indicate. Both of them have a caramel-coloured vein and that's actually the gloss, not only something printed on the tube. I adore this! It looks like an ice-cream but minus the calories, ha!

I have worn these for quite several times now and each time I did, I love the feel of them on my lips, even the shimmery one. They're a teeny weeny bit tacky, but in the sense of clinging onto your lips, not making your hair stick onto them (as if my hair is that long). Averagely they last for about 3 hours and were moderately moisturising when worn. Orange Pineapple, being a pastel colour, does settle onto lip lines a bit but not too noticeable.

I simply adore these and cannot recommend them enough. For such lovely packaging, divine scent and beautiful formula, I think they should be present in everyone's makeup collection. There's one other colour in this collection: Strawberry Syrup that I'm having my eyes on...

Bourjois Bronzer And Gold Bronzer - Faking The Summer Bronze With Bourjois Offerings

Gold Bronzing Powder on the left, Bronzing Powder on the right

This time of year, or in fact any moment if you're in need for some bronziness to enlighten your complexion, there are Bourjois answers to your craving: the now iconic Délice de Poudre Bronzing Powder that many people have called "Chocolate Bronzer" instead and Délice de Poudre Or - Gold Bronzing Powder. The latter is a new member of the chocolate family together with their Bronzing Duo. I haven't acquired such duo but my little eyes tell me that the bronzer half is just the same as the original bronzer and the highlighter half is too subtle and pink for my liking, so I opted for the Gold version.

They're exactly what they're described to be: bronzer and gold bronzer, nothing more nothing less. I've heard people using the Délice de Poudre as a contour shade but I can assure you that it contains a fair amount of orange tint to it, which is a good thing for warming up the face actually. Likewise, the Gold one can be used sparingly to introduce a bit of gold warmth on the cheek or in place of a blusher if you're after the over-the-top golden goddess look. Both have such a lovely packaging that has a rather strong magnetic closure (anyone enjoys the sound when the lid clicks in place?) and have a delicious chocolate scent. However, I noticed that the scent fades through time as the original bronzer which I bought some 10 months ago does not smell as strong as the Gold one, not as the Too Faced Chocolate Bar palette which has such valuable "loyalty" when it comes to maintaining its deliciousness. That being said, though, I still wish I could eat all of them, gah!

I normally use a separate contour shade (Illamasqua Powder Foundation in 230 since it has a slight cool tone to it) to sculpt out my cheekbones then use either of the aforementioned products in places where I normally put bronzer on. Since the powder texture is so fine it blends effortlessly onto the skin, easy to pick up with a brush and looks seamless. I also discovered another use for the Gold Bronzing Powder: as an eye shadow. Normally face products are quite sheer but for this particular one it is extremely pigmented and somewhat creamy making it a breeze to use both on the lids and cheeks.

The Bourjois Délice de Poudre and Délice de Poudre Or are £7.99 each for a surprising huge amount of 16.5g. These beauties have the total ability to last you for ages I am confident to assure you.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Recap: Best Things That Happened In 2014

As soon as I started writing this post, all my brain could generate was: "What?! 2014 left us already? Ungrateful b****!". However, 2014 brought so many lovely moments and discoveries that I cannot wait to do a full recap as a little reflection of what happened and what's in store for the new year.
  • In January I discovered Sherlock (the UK BBC series) that I watched all three seasons in only one week (!). Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman did a fantastic performance as Sherlock and Dr. Watson. I wish they didn't have Sherlock wear such tight button-down shirts, I got so uneasy seeing their struggle of not bursting at any unexpected moment. It may sound mean but I particularly enjoy seeing Sherlock being interpreted as having such a big ego and thinking that he's the best that's ever happened to this whole universe's popularity. It was tremendously entertaining to hear him "insulting" everyone else on their not making use all of their intelligence capability.
  • Vietnamese Lunar New Year! That, together with Christmas, are the two holidays that I most look forward to all year. Last year it was strangely cold from early November to the end of January, which is unheard of here in this country. The cold yet somewhat magical atmosphere contributed a great deal to the whole celebration spirit.
  • I acquired a lot of amazing makeup products which have already become my makeup bag staples. Let's take a moment to accept that these hyped-about products are totally worth it: theBalm Mary-lou Manizer, Too Faced Chocolate Bar, Lolita Lempicka perfume just to name a few. Many of them now I cannot part with, and I am even thinking about buying a back-up for my back-up, that quite explains how enormous my love for them is.
  • Predestination - best movie of the year! Even though there are coutless holes science wise, I highly appreciate the original idea and exceptional performance. Kudos for Sarah Snook as Jane/John Doe, I could almost feel her pain and destiny. Who could ever think about a human, fully physically and mentally stable, could just appear out of nowhere! [Spoiler alert] The idea of one having intercourse of oneself then giving birth to a child who is abducted and gets travelled back in time only to grow up to be the very person who will later give birth to oneself? I love this kind of "entertainment", so original and different from the mainstream media that brings you nothing but an hour or two of pure nonsense.
  • I had my first official (and succesful) makeup job ever: bridal makeup for my sister's wedding back in September. I fully enjoyed the process/hectic time, and also equally importantly - I had a chance to truly test some products and let them prove their true power.
  • Mr. NN and I have been together for officially over 3 years now. I never thought it would happen in the beginning but yes it did :)
Lots of misfortunes happened but 2014 was overall was enough a gentleman (if I may say so) to me and I am quite impatient to see what's going to happen this year. Will it be good? Will it be bad? Nobody can tell, but 2015 is a blank book so let's write a good story.