Sunday, November 23, 2014

NEW Revlon PhotoReady Eye Art Lid + Line + Lash (Limited Edition)

This post features press samples.

Ah, limited edition drugstore releases -- you conflict me. On the one hand, you excite me. On the other, what a pain. What if we fall in love and can't repurchase again? What if we're overeager and purchase without research only to hate you?

Hopefully my review of the new Revlon PhotoReady Eye Art Lid + Line + Lash will help prevent the last scenario. I was sent two shades to review: 020 Lilac Luster and 100 Topaz Twinkle.

PhotoReady Eye Art is a dual-ended cream eye shadow and glitter liner. It's called "Lid + Line + Lash" because you can apply the glitter to tips of lashes as well, but I doubt that most of us will be doing that. The cream shadow applicator is a standard size/shape doe foot sponge tip and the glitter eyeliner applicator is a small pointed brush. The PhotoReady Eye Art packaging as a whole unfortunately resembles the Revlon Nail Art Moon Candy range. I get that they want to keep the "Art" series uniform, but I've witnessed the confusion at drugstores already -- misplaced Nail Art bottles sitting on Eye Art displays and probably the other way around as well. If you're interested in purchasing Eye Arts, make sure that you're actually picking up an Eye Art and not a Nail Art. And especially don't get the Nail Art anywhere near your eyes.

There are 10 duos in the Eye Art range and I must say that the multi-coloured shimmers and sparkles look very enticing as we approach the holiday season. Looking at them certainly cheers me up during the cold grey lull up here in Canada. (FYI to US readers: our Thanksgiving holiday was in October and as soon as November 11 is over, it's go-time on Christmas madness since there's nothing else left to look forward to.)

Swatches! Don't they look pretty? Topaz Twinkle is a pretty bronzy-gold and Lilac Luster is a cool-toned light purple. In one stroke, the cream shadows apply fully opaque and quickly begin to set to a budge-proof finish. The glitters are slightly trickier, as they're suspended in clear gloss, and it can be tricky to get all the glitter strategically placed in one location without piling up on too much gloss or disturbing the flecks you've already laid down.

Close-ups. Note that the glitter flecks correspond to the cream shadow shades but also contain multi-coloured bits for added dimension.

As you know, I'm not a big "eye art" person and have only touched glitter eyeliners a few times ever, but I think that these Eye Arts are okay. Here is one stroke of Topaz Twinkle along my lash line.

And this is a dab of the Topaz Twinkle shadow cream on the other eye, blended with brush for a natural, everyday look. I can amp this up by applying an additional layer and blending less.

And once these suckers set, they pretty much stay there all day. They're easily removable with micellar water or makeup removers, but they don't slip or crease on me even without primer. The only issue that I have with the cream shadow is that it you try to blend while the shadow is drying, it can start to become patchy and difficult to work with -- but that just means that you have to work faster than usual and try to keep the look simple. I think the cream shadow works well as a base for powder shadows as well, but again, don't blend too much or you'll end up removing the cream off the lids. They're also better blended with brushes rather than finger tips, and I like that they're adjustable, going from a sheer wash of colour all the way up to all-out bling fest. The glitter can also go on top of the cream shadow of course and basically stay there all night with minimal fallout.

This sort of liquidy cream shadow can be problematic for those who don't like wet textures, and I won't say that these are so revolutionary that they'll change your mind if you belong to the non-liquid camp. But I do like them personally because once they set, they stay on my lids. I might have to chase down Black Brilliance the next time I pass a display.

Suggested retail price: CAD$11.49. Available now at drugstores and mass retailers across Canada until supplies last.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Current Makeup Faves

This is just a quick post on some of my current favourite makeup. I wanted to conduct a detailed round-up but find myself pressed for time right now with too many reviews in queue. I have a lot of posts coming up in the next few weeks and hope to get them all out on time so that I can take a mini break during the holidays. Have a browse through the post and let me know in the comments if you have any questions or would like to see a detailed review in the future.

One of these is now my new favourite mascara and I've gone crazy and stocked up with least 6 new tubes.

I tried a sample of this a year ago and liked it a lot. (See review.) I've been thinking that Dior and I should become better friends.

I don't think that I'm going to review this BITE Beauty set of minis in full, but what you need to know is that the raves are true and I am now smitten. Damn them. Unfortunately the palest shade on the far right gives me concealer lips, but I'm still happy with the other three.

NARS Autumn Leaves -- the perfect non-plummy fall lipstick.

Tarte Angelic highlighter -- still my go-to.

The original LORAC Pro foreverandeveramen.

* * *

I've been more active on Instagram as of late, so follow along there for daily beauty updates. Right now I'm in the middle of #30blush and #30daysoflipsticks. It causes me as equal parts joy and anxiety, LOL.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Glowy skin with VICHY Idealia

This post features press samples.

I feel like it's been a while since we've talked about skin care. I have a long list of products to review but have been slow to write about them because I keep having to take a break in testing specific routines to deal with random breakouts. (Well, not really random. One moment of laziness and my skin reacts like 14 year-old boy living on steady diet of pizza and fries. Mmmm... pizza.) Aside from such momentary lapses, I have been diligently testing new products for months and months, so no more delays and no more lazy attacks. It's important to take good care of our skin as the weather gets colder, and I have absolutely no excuse left to slack.

Now, I've already written once about the VICHY Idealia Life Serum, and today we're going to check out this past year's additions to the Idealia range: Idealia BB Creme and Idealia Eyes.

First, an update on how I fared long-term with the Idealia Life Serum which promises "fresh complexion, even skin tone, refined pores and rested features." While I didn't notice any changes to the visibility of pores nor sense any permanent changes to the skin, I really like the serum because it adds a luminous glow to the skin and is more than enough to sufficiently moisturize my oily/combination skin. I rarely had to top it with additional moisturizers, especially on days when I applied hydrating BB creams on top, and I preferred to use it during the day when I could make better use of the additional glow that it gave my skin. Apply this over freshly exfoliated skin and even sunbathing Edward Cullen should be jealous. But for a serum, I found the texture to be on the heavier side for continual daily use and abandoned it completely during the summer for anti-acne treatments and facial mists (like the VICHY Thermal Spa Water, among others). Dry and normal skin types should not have this problem though -- ugh, so jealous. I'm going back to the serum now that it's FREEZING outside and my face is starting to feel tight and look wan. November is the dreariest of months and I could use the pearlescent glow. For cosmetic reasons, I relegate this for daytime use and rely on more intense and repairing treatments at night.

And now the new stuff:

First, the Idealia BB Creams. I was provided with shades Light and Medium to trial, and the big selling point of these new BB creams is the "anti-grey" factor, whether the grey cast comes from wrong makeup shades or issues from below the surface of the skin. Like most BB creams, Idealia promises to tackle as many skin issues at once while improving the appearance of complexion, such as to: transform the skin complexion and quality of all skin types, illuminate and even the complexion, hydrate for 24 hours, visibly smooth fine lines, refine skin texture, reduce dark spots and protect from dehydration.

I definitely find this BB cream to be hydrating and nourishing, and again like the Idealia serum, it gives the skin a radiant glow. The texture is akin to a well-balanced day moisturizer that isn't too thin or heavy, and you don't have to spend any extra time and effort working it into the skin -- it applies easily with just fingers, instantly. If you want a BB cream that hydrates and illuminates with just a hint of colour enhancement (not coverage), then this is the product. It doesn't offer enough pigmentation to deal with redness and scarring, but for those with relatively decent skin who just wants an extra something without piling on makeup, this should suit beautifully. As is usual, my NC25ish skin falls somewhere between Light and Medium, but the shades are so subtle that I did get away with using both on separate occasions, depending on the effect I was going for. However, in the summer when my skin became oily and tried to rival the sun for shine and glare, Idealia didn't last for long and melted off pretty quickly. Because it's not the most suitable product for my skin type, I didn't wear it regularly enough to notice long-term benefits like refined skin texture, but I'm placing it firmly into the skin care category rather than makeup as I would other BB creams because this one actually feels nourishing to the skin. I feel that somewhere between the sublime texture of the Idealia BB cream and the great coverage of ProEVEN BB creams, the perfect BB cream is within VICHY's grasp.

The Idealia BB creams are paraben-free, hypoallergenic and formulated for sensitive skin with VICHY Thermal Spa Water and contains SPF 25.

And finally, we have the Eye Contour Idealizer which is my favourite of the entire Idealia range. It promises to correct dark circles, smooth fine lines and skin texture and soften the appearance of dark circles without the aid of makeup. The claims are rather exaggerated because anyone with dark under-eye shadows will still have to rely on colour corrective makeup. But as far as eye creams go, this is one of the best that I've ever tried. The texture is light but emollient, and the same micro-pearls contained in the serum and BB creams are also present here to blur imperfections and brighten the skin. The flexible silicone applicator is also cooling and soft which is important for the sensitive under-eye area, and the easy squeeze tube makes it foolproof to dispense as much product as you need without making a big mess. The skin around my eyes is sensitive to overly rich eye creams and sometimes breaks out in acne or milia, but not so in this case. I've been using the Eye Contour Idealizer almost daily ever since first receiving it and my skin has been loving it. To be honest, I still waver on whether an eye cream is a personal skin care must and at times get by with applying regular unscented moisturizers around the eyes, but I think that some people need it more than others, and if you want a non-greasy and illuminating daytime eye cream, seriously consider this. As a bonus, it comes in a sanitary airtight tube and the generous 15mL size seems to last forever, even with me slathering it all over the face sometimes as a day moisturizer, and the price is reasonable considering the price of eye creams and skin care these days. Big, BIG fan obviously. I would be thrilled if VICHY came out with a day moisturizer exactly like this eye cream.

As with all VICHY products, it's paraben-free, hypoallergenic and suitable for sensitive skin.

Swatches of all four products:

In short, I would recommend the VICHY Idealia range to those with normal, dry or sensitive skin looking for slight cosmetic enhancement in their skincare routine, with the exception of the eye contour cream which I recommend to EVERYONE. (Hi, do you have eyes? Try it.) The combination of the serum + BB cream was too much glow for my skin to handle, but I think that the dry skin types will love it.

In Canada, you can find VICHY at any Shoppers Drug Mart or Rexall locations and the fabulous thing is that different VICHY series basically take turns going on sales, so wait for an opportune moment if their regular prices makes you cringe. I hear VICHY is harder to locate in the States but online retailers such as carries a good range, and look -- they're having a 20% off sale on skin care right now. Man, it's a dangerous month for wallets. Sorry/you're welcome.

Idealia Life Serum, CAD$59, 30mL. Made in France. See previous review for details and ingredient list.

Idealia Eyes, CAD$39.50, 15mL. Made in France.

Ingredients: Aqua, Dimethicone, Glycerin, Isononyl Isononanoate, Alcohol Denat, Niacinamide, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter, Cetyl Alcohol, PEG-100 Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate, Ascorbyl Glucoside, CI 77163, CI 77891, CI 77492, CI 77491, CI 77499, Stearic Acid, Mica, Carbomer, Glycyrrhiza Glabra Extract, Triethanolamine, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Caffeine, Silica, Sodium Citrate, Palmitic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Ammonium Polyacryldimethyltauramide, Tocopheryl Acetate, Disodium EDTA, Paeonia Suffruticosa Extract, Citric Acid, Capryloyl Salicylic Acid, Hydroxypalmitoyl Sphnganne, Eperua Falcata Bark Extract, Xanthan Gum, Dextrin, Oxothiazolidinecarboxylic Acid, Ethyhexyl Hydroxystearate, Code F.I.L. CI 64263/3.

Idealia BB Cream, CAD$37, 40mL. Made in France.

Ingredients: Aqua/Water, Isononyl Isononanoate, Glycerin, Octocrylene, Homosalate, Ethylhexyl Salicylate, Dimethicone, Diisopropyl Sebacate, Sucrose Tristearate, Styrene/Acrylates Copolymer, Polysorbate 61, PEG-12 Dimethicone, PEG-8 Laurate, Carbomer, Saccharomyces/Xylinum/Black Tea Ferment, Triethanolamine, Dimethiconol, Parfum/Fragrance, Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Alumina, Penoxyethanol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Disodium EDTA, Caprylyl Glycol, Biosaccharide Gum-1, Xanthan Gum, [+/- colouring agents].

See or for more details.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Going Green with Shu Uemura Brave Beauty Eye Palette

And by "going green," I mean in the most superficial of ways. Literally painting myself with green stuff. Beautiful combination of matte and shimmery green stuff.

Shu Uemura Brave Beauty Collection was launched months ago for Fall 2014, and the Green Eye Palette ensnared me right away. I wrestled with this longing for a long time due to the mind-boggling CAD$90 price tag that accompanied it (as opposed to the more reasonable USD$65), but if you do the math, the palette does save at least CAD$41 considering that each pressed shadow refill retails for $19 and a 4-pan custom palette costs $17. (I don't even see a 6-pan palette on the Shu website.) I think the Canadian mark-up is totally ludicrous and would never have paid regular price, but along came a fortuitous "$20 off $70 purchase" sale and here we are.

When it comes to green eye shadows, I've often looked at khaki greens and olive greens in the past but rarely bright greens. But the bright green bug always bites me at the end of summer when suddenly I feel like experimenting and being... brave. (Longtime readers know of my desperation to hang on to summer and tendency to hibernate in winter.) This Shu palette isn't exactly the brightest or greenest really, but it has a wonderful variety of shades and tones, making it just playful enough while remaining elegant and everyday wearable. And while I whine about the Shu Uemura pricing, one thing the brand has going for it is the reusable/refillable option for many of its core products including blushes and powder compacts. I'm also a fan of the sleek minimalist design of the palettes. When the green palette arrived, I was extremely pleased to say the least.

Close-ups of the shades from left to right (GR1, GR2, GR3):

(...and GR4, GR5 and GR6):

Gorgeous, yes? No arguing with me.

As a fan of the Shu Uemura pressed shadows, I also figured the three neutral shades in the middle would come in handy on the days I didn't feel too green. That's a beautiful trio on its own right there.

Swatches on unprimed skin:

With the exception of the matte teal (GR1), the rest are shimmery and apply smoothly with minimal fallout. GR1 and GR2 apply truest to pan on skin. GR3 looks oddly close to being invisible on my arm swatch but provides a lovely shimmer on eyelids. GR5 and GR6 shift unexpectedly on my skin tone, from being closer to lime green to chartreuse and an intriguing forest green to a murkier, greyer dark green. And while GR4 may look like a standard shimmery white highlight shade, it contains subtle iridescent green micro shimmers that gives it a shifty nature as well, depending on lighting and your own unique skin tone.

Overall, the quality is excellent and gives me just the right number of shades to experiment with.

The EOTDs look subtle when examined in isolation, but even the first one with just the faintest hint of light green is more green than I've ever ventured before. I'm still playing around with the palette and trying to familiarize myself with it. In any case, aside from the price, it gets two thumbs up from me.

Although the winter holiday collection has now taken over physical counters, Brave Beauty collection is still available online at both the Canadian and US sites. If green isn't your thing, there's also a pink eye palette as well as an orange. And luckily, as of today, Shu Uemura is having an online sale for the next three days. Use code SHUVIP to get 25% off minimum orders of USD$50/CAD$75 with free shipping. The sale ends Wednesday, November 19 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

CAD$90 at / USD$65 at In Canada, you can find Shu Uemura counters at select Holt Renfrew, Hudson's Bay and Sephora locations.

View the entire Brave Beauty Collection here.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Makeup Sponge Smackdown

You know how every generation always thinks that they're the most degenerate ever, and that the end of world is nigh with new heights (or depths, rather) of decadence being reached? I don't usually think so, but then I look at the fuss we make about makeup sponges in the beauty world lately and think, yeah, it's like we have nothing left to squabble over, so we create really expensive sponges and argue forever about which is best. But I know that future generations are more than capable of greater stupidity than we are. I have faith! In the meanwhile, someone has to settle the sponge debate. Allow me this attempt.

Back in the olden days, when I was a dewy-eyed makeup newbie, makeup brushes weren't considered as important as they are now, and I would just use my fingers to apply foundation until the fateful day I was introduced to The Sponge. It's an absurdly easy to tool to use, and it's especially great for oil-free or mattifying foundations that are thicker in texture and can be difficult to blend or dry too quickly. This is partially due to the inherent sponginess of the sponge but also because when application becomes difficult, dabs and pats are usually the solution. Try it next time, with or without a sponge, with your stubborn cream products that are difficult to swirl over skin. Sometimes it's not the product but the technique.

I'm definitely a sponge lover, but do I believe in spending upwards of $30 for one? Let's see.

(Affiliate links used.)

1. MAKE UP FOR EVER Ellipse Sponge, CAD$14
2. beautyblender "the original beautyblender", CAD$26
3. Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge, CAD$9.99 (press sample from
4. brand I can't remember -- I want to say it's an old Laura Mercier duo but LM's new pack of four sponges is very different from this set
5. Shu Uemura Lightbulb Sponge, CAD$26

MUFE Elllipse - I picked this up during a wild MUFE phase just before switching over to brushes and neglected it for years. While I like the firmer texture and feel of the material as well as the effect it provides, it's a little too big and bulky despite the nice bevels and angles. I only ever use the two slanted outer tips on each side which makes the rest of the sponge kind of a waste somehow. It's a good quality sponge that retains the shape well with minimal damage during washes, but I think MUFE can slice this in half and sell it as a pack of two instead.

Unknown brand, possibly Laura Mercier - Super durable while remaining soft wash after wash. It's killing me that I can't remember what brand. The flatter shape makes it ideal for picking up powder more than liquid, but the shape isn't right at all for fitting into a standard size compact. I do use it for liquid foundations sometimes and keep the second one clean to smooth over over-zealous bronzer or blush applications.

The infamous beautyblender - I picked this up in a blog sale for about $15 because I can't stand the thought of paying over $20 for sponges. I suspect that a lot of the raves over beautyblender came from people who had never used sponges before, because while it's a great sponge, it's hardly be-all-end-all. Out of all the sponges here, it's by far the softest and the most malleable. It's cute, has a great bounce, and the pointed tip with a rounded bottom is an ingenious shape. But ergonomically, I find it a little too small for my hand and I actually prefer a flat slanted edge instead of a pointed tip, even for tricky areas like around the nose. The good news is that it washes well and seems quite durable despite how soft it feels.

RT Miracle Complexion - At CAD$10, it's still not cheap here but you can get this for around USD$5 in the States which makes it a great bargain in the thrilling world of makeup sponges. Out of all the sponges, I like this shape the best and use that flat edge for everything. Sadly, however, the low price point is reflected in the cheaper quality of the sponge because it suffered a lot of nail dents even during the inaugural wash and continues to sustain more and more damage with each subsequent usage/wash. I like it but I expect to have to replace it more frequently than all the other sponges, some of which I've had for years and years.

Shu Lightbulb - Another absurdly priced sponge, available for CAD$26 on its own or included with the Lightbulb Foundation together for CAD$66 which is how I obtained it. With the first touch, you can tell immediately that this sponge is going to last pretty well. Its firmness is on a whole other level beyond that of the RT and beautyblender, and it felt almost indestructible during the first few washes. I hesitate to say it but it may actually be worth the high price tag that it commands. Because of how densely packed it is, it doesn't absorb as much product into it like the other more softer and permeable sponges. This can be a good or bad thing, depending on the texture and formula of your liquid foundation. Adjust the amount of foundation accordingly.

In terms of application, all five sponges perform similarly. When I purchase a foundation, I usually look for medium to high coverage and am not interested in sheering it out, so I don't use the sponge dampened for that particular purpose as many others do. Even without dampening, sponges provide a natural and seamless effect because of the bounce and pat motions deployed to press the product into the skin. I can do this with even the cheap disposable sponge wedges sold in bulk at dollar stores. And in fact, the sponge wedges are what I started out with until I felt that they were environmentally wasteful as well as annoying to repurchase regularly and looked for a more permanent solution. I really don't think that there's a huge difference in how foundation applies with what sponge. I think more important is how often you use it and will have to repurchase as well as how ergonomically pleasing it is to your particular hand and motions used.

It's hard to declare a best from this list because each has its own pros and cons, and if my sponge stash suddenly burst into flames and I had to pick which to repurchase, I would probably venture out for a sixth untried sponge instead. Even prestige brand Dior has entered the sponge game with the introduction of its "Backstage Blender" so clearly my earlier remarks about decadence stands. I can't wait to see the ridiculousness of a possible Tom Ford sponge.