Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sample Sunday: Shiseido Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate

There was a big hoopla about this product some time ago when it debuted. Reviews were mixed across the board, and I didn't care to try it out until a Shiseido SA I made friends with in the summer shoved a bunch of samples in my hand and said I JUST HAD TO. It seriously doesn't take much convincing to get me to try a new product, and so I did, eventually.

Shiseido Ultimune is touted as a "pre-serum serum" that's supposed to amp up your skin care routine by enhancing the quality of other products used in conjunction with it. After using up two sachets (each sachet yielded three dosages), I found that while Ultimune made my skin feel incredibly smooth, it didn't deliver on the "amping up" aspect nor produce immediately visible results. (Not that I was expecting a miracle from just six tries --  I'm simply reporting what happened.) As for the smoothing factor, a part of me is hugely suspicious about a non-exfoliating product that can make the face feel instantly silky by spreading on a thin layer. I mean, it feels nice, but it also seems like a weird parlour trick distraction from the main event. Simply put: Ultimune's incredible temporarily smoothing abilities doesn't mean much when I'm not convinced that it makes other serums and moisturizers work better or faster. It has some interesting claims, the bottle is pretty, and there are those who swear by it, but I didn't even want to use the remaining sample sachets. It's a safe pass for me. How about you?

CAD$78/USD$65, 30mL
CAD$115/USD$95, 50mL

Available at Shiseido, Sephora, Hudson's Bay, Nordstrom and Shiseido counters worldwide.

Ingredients: Water, Sd Alcohol 40-B (Alcohol Denat.), Glycerin, Dimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Peg/Ppg-17/4 Dimethyl Ether, Triethylhexanoin, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/Beheneth-25 Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Phenoxyethanol, Peg-14m, Methylparaben, Tocopheryl Acetate, Peg/Ppg-14/7 Dimethyl Ether, Rosa Damascena Flower Water, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Fragrance, Disodium Edta, Potassium Hydroxide, Silica, Isoceteth-10, Linalool, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract (Ginkgo Biloba), Geraniol, Citronellol, Sodium Carboxymethyl Beta-Glucan, Bht, Thymus Serpillum Extract, Perilla Ocymoides Leaf Extract, Sodium Bicarbonate.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

B2M Redemption! MAC Flat Out Fabulous Retro Matte Lipstick

In the midst of a mini-cleaning spree, I came upon six MAC empties and excitedly pondered which lipstick or eye shadow I wanted to redeem them for. After contemplating Girl About Town lipstick for days, I ended up with Flat Out Fabulous (Retro Matte) instead because it brightened my face in a way that GAT just did not. (I also thought I had a lot of GAT dupes at home. More on that later...)

Flat Out Fabulous is described as a "bright plum matte," and its mattifying powers are great indeed. It stays put like a champ and stains my lips for the next two days even when scrubbed with waterproof makeup remover. I really like this colour and enjoy matte lipsticks right now, so all is forgiven. As long as I'm consistent with lip balm application, FOF's retro matte formula doesn't make my lips any more dry than the frigid weather does.

And then because FOF looks so pink rather than plum, I had to pull out all the similar lipsticks in my stash and weed out dupes since storage is overflowing and I have long lost the ability to make quick recalls of what I own.

Left to right:

1. MAC Love Forever (Pro Longwear)
2. Smashbox Fuchsia Flash Matte (Be Legendary) (review)
3. MAC Flat Out Fabulous (Retro Matte)
4. MAC Zen Rose (Sheen Supreme)
5. Laura Mercier Plum Orchid (Creme Smooth)
6. Shiseido Tulip RS 452 (Perfect Rouge) (review)

While 1, 2 and 3 appear to be more or less the same shade, they look slightly different from one another when worn on lips. But I don't love 1 and 2 enough to keep both when Flat Out Fab looks much better. 4, 5 and 6 obviously vary more in colour and finish, but if I were to cull anything from those three, it would be 5 simply because I prefer the others more. It's funny because at the time of Smashbox Fuchsia Flash Matte's review, I was like, "YAY NO DUPES" and half a year later everything has changed. I'm convinced at this point that lipsticks breed when we're not watching.

Stay tuned for more lipstick swatches! I've decided to eliminate more of the hoard by swatching all of my MAC lipsticks, and the remainder of that round will then be swatched against the non-MACs. Lipstick Survivor -- can that be a thing?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Clarins Spring 2015: Garden Escape Collection (Part 2)

This post features a press sample.

I'll try to keep this short and let the pics do most of the talking. I give you the Clarins Garden Escape 6-Color Eye Palette (CAD$44), available for a limited time this season.


By now I've totally destroyed the embossing, so for my own sake, here are some close-ups:

Clarins' mineral shadows have always boasted a wet/dry formula and have been relatively underrated, although Clarins makeup lovers know that they make quality colours as well as skincare and body products. These days, a lot of brands are all over the wet/dry formulation, but now you know: Clarins has always been ahead in this game.




The difference in wattage level for each method of application is clear as day, isn't it? I don't even mind the hazy dry swatches on dry skin because of the pretty shimmer, but the wet swatches are out of this world. I actually put too much water on my skin and the swatches took on the texture of cream shadows before they dried back down to a powder finish again. Six shades, 18 results. Holy wow.

Now, the trouble for me is that the two pink shades appear distinct and separate on my arm but not so on my small lid space. The only other quibble is that I could do without one of the paler shades, either the white or pale pink, but I love that all the elements of a spring garden are present in this palette (taupe for soil, greens for leaves, pinks for flower).

Here's a parting shot up against a typical Clarins quad for size comparison.

It's reasonably priced at CAD$44 which is a steal given the brand, colour variation and the quality. Get it while you can!

Ingredients: Talc, Mica, Octyldodecyl Stearoyl Stearate, Dimethicone, Polybutene, Potassium Sorbate, Tocopherol, Lecithin, Ascorbyl, Palmitate, Glyceryl Stearate, Glyceryl Oleate, Citric Acid. [+/- colouring agents]

Made in Italy.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Clarins Spring 2015: Garden Escape Collection (Part 1)

This post features press samples.

I am soooooo sick of winter, you guys. I'm tired of my black NorthFace parka that's getting dirtier and dirtier by day, which I can't send out for cleaning because it's cold ALL THE TIME and I will freeze to death without it. And I am sick to death of inside-outside temperature fluctuations that make my nose runny and give me the sweats if I get stuck inside a building or a bus that's overly heated. I don't yet mind shovelling snow because I've only had to do it a few times so far, but I am not looking forward to the pile-up that's inevitably headed this way at some point before April.


And this is why I welcomed spring collections with open arms as far back as early January. The heck why not? We have nothing else to do while cooped up in our igloos slurping soup three times a day!

When the Clarins package arrived at my house, I honestly wasn't expecting anything special for whatever reason, but I GASPED OUT LOUD when I saw the content. Pretty! Colours! Not winter!

Today we'll talk about the two new lip products that debuted with the Garden Escape collection and save the shadow palette for next post.

Instant Light Lip Comfort Oil in 01 Honey (CAD$23)

The oil trend that's been revving up for the past few years has finally culminated in the invention of tinted lip oils which seems to have beauty fiends quite excited. Clarins' first take on the lip oil is more treatment-focused than colourful despite the gorgeous warm orange tone of this tube. I was disappointed when the tint turned out to be completely invisible on my lips, but it's a pleasant enough product that feels good on slightly dry lips. It has a strong vanilla and fruit scent, and the oil at first doesn't feel overly thick or tacky, although I found that it got a little bit stickier throughout the day and isn't as deeply penetrating as I expected it to be. The applicator is an adorably oversized doe-foot wand which you might have seen from Clarins in the past.

The Instant Light Lip Comfort Oil is available in two shades at the moment: 01 Honey as shown here, and 02 Raspberry, a translucent pink, which is limited edition. Because of their affordability at $23, I encourage you to test it out first-hand if you're into lip oils. Had they been priced closer to $30, I would have said pass despite the relative novelty of the item. Personally, I wish that they were either more strongly tinted or leave the lips feeling more nourished post-removal. Read more about them at

Ingredients: Polyglyceryl-2 Isostearate/Dimer Dilinoleate Copolymer, Dilinoleic Acid/Propanediol Copolymer, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Corylus Avellana (Hazel) Seed Oil, Pronus Insititia Seed Oil, Vanillin, Tocopheryl Acetate, Parfum/Fragrance, Ammonium Glycyrrhizate, Capsicum Annuum Fruit Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Tocopherol, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract.

CAD$23, 7mL/0.1 oz. Made in France.

Instant Light Lip Balm Protector in 04 Orange (CAD$22)

This new Instant Light Lip Balm Perfector series is basically a stick balm version of the insanely popular Instant Light Natural Lip Perfectors (see my review here). They are now a part of Clarins' permanent collection which I think is a fantastic addition, especially for those who love natural-looking tinted balms that are hydrating. I much prefer the Lip Balm Perfector to the lip oil and love the subtle hint of orange that this shade gives to my lips. The scent is a lovely understated vanilla that matches the original Instant Light Natural Lip Perfectors. It comes in six shades, of which 04 Orange and 05 Red are the most striking in terms of colour. Some of the press images and reviews mixed up the numbers for Orange and Red, but on the counters you'll find that 04 is Orange and 05 is Red. The colour difference is quite obvious, anyway. Feel free to read more about them on the Clarins website.

Ingredients: Pentaerythrityl Tetraisostearate, Diisostearyl Malate, Diisopropyl Dimer Dilinoleate, Octyldodecanol, Bis-Behenyl/Isostearyl/Phytosteryl Dimer Dilinoleyl Dimer Dilinoleate, Polyglyceryl-2 Triisostearate, VP/Hexadecene Copolymer, Candellia Ceraveuphorbia Cerifera (Candellia) Wax/Cire de Candellia, Polyethylene, Ozokerite, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Polyglyceryl-2 Isostearate/Dimer Dilionoleate Copolymer, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Parfum/Fragrance, Butyrospermum Parki (She) Butter Unsaponifables, Propylene Carbonate, Irvingia, Gabonensis Kernel Butter, Orzyanol, Tribehenin, Ammonium Glycyrrhizate, Hydrogenated Coco-Glycerides, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sorbitan Isostearate, Triethoxycapry Lylsilane, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, BHT, [colouring agents].

CAD$22, 1.8g/0.06 oz. Made in France.

Below are swatches of the lip oil in 01 Honey (top) and balm perfector in 04 Orange (bottom):

And here's 04 Orange on my lips. In person from a distance, the orange tone is much more vivid, and I'm loving its brightening effect on my slightly paler winter complexion. I suspect that aside from 05 Red, all the other shades will be pretty much invisible on me. So, you know... I have nefarious plans to acquire Red at some point in time.

In short: I'm feeling neutral on the oil and loving the balm perfector. But the visual star of Clarins Garden Escape Collection is the 6-Color Eye Palette which unfortunately is limited edition. If you'd rather not wait, it's available for purchase now at Clarins counters nationwide as well as on the Clarins Canada website. You can find a lot of reviews of it already but I'll add my two cents too as soon as possible. My left arm is covered in swatches even as I type.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Speedy Blush Post (Armani, Burberry, Hourglass, Joe Fresh)

Um, so, I might be losing my blush powers. Lately I keep dallying with the idea of halving my enormous blush stash, which is why there were quite a bit of blushes featured in the most recent blog sale. I tend to do some culling when I come up with a new system of storage and there isn't room for everything, but upon individual examination of carefully hoarded blushes, I fall in love all over again. This edition of The Speedy Blush Post is brought to you by a sense of impending doom denied furiously by greedy hands clutching at all the things.

Armani Cheek Fabric Sheer Blush in #200 Androgino - YES, THE HORROR. I suffer from klutz attacks like most people do once in a while, but I also used to have pretty good recovery reflex and mostly caught the items before they crashed to untimely deaths. (You know that scene from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon when Michelle Yeoh's character tests Zhang Ziyi's character by knocking over a teacup and ZZ catches it mid-air? Imagine it being done by just one person, not two. My life as a one-woman circus act.) Anyway, major fail in this case. I screamed bloody murder and mourned for many days after the accident. It's still a lovely and amazing blush though, and I have no desire to mess with alcohol to press the loose bits back together. The texture is sublime, and the blush practically blends itself. The warm terracotta shade is just red enough to not blur into bronzer category. If I ever wanted to get rid of everything and live purely on Armani blushes? Completely justified. (Formerly available only at Holt Renfrew and select Hudson's Bay; now available online at Sephora.)

Burberry Light Glow Blush in No. 02 Cameo - I got this for an amazing deal from Gummy's last blog sale and discovered to my intense pleasure that all the raves about Burberry blushes are true. However, this colour... I don't love it. You'd think that a neutral-leaning pink blush can't go wrong, but I feel like it does me no particular favours. I think it's similar to the boredom I previously suffered with Tarte Exposed. I'd love another Burberry blush but in a brighter colour. (Available at the Burberry flagship stores in Toronto and Vancouver and at -- God bless -- Nordstrom Canada. Apparently Holts stopped carrying them because trying to get stock from Burberry was like pulling teeth for whatever reason. And despite the existence of a Canadian e-commerce site, I don't think that it's in full working order because I can't even pretend to check out with anything. It's helpful to see the range in full and find out Canadian pricing though.)

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush Palette (Limited Edition) - Again, believe the hype. The quality of the three shades here are better than the individual Bacon Blush as well as softer and more luminous. The only pan that gives me slight trouble is Mood Exposure on the far right because it's a dim purply plum similar to NARS Sin which can look ashy or bruised on certain skin tones. Not unwearable but it requires a liiiiiittle more effort than the other two. (No longer available as a palette but individual blushes can be found at Sephora. I wouldn't be surprised though if Hourglass re-released it as a permanent item, as they did eventually with the Ambient Lighting Palette.)

Extra: Someone asked me a while back whether one of these shades is similar to the Guerlain Meteorites Blush, and I'm so sorry that it took such a long time to answer because both may be extremely difficult to get a hold of at this point. But for the sake of setting my mind at ease also, here's a comparison:

Guerlain Meteorites Blush is more pink while Luminous Flash (left shade in palette) leans red and Incandescent Electra (middle shade in palette) is clearly orange-peach. I didn't bother to compare with Mood Exposure because the two aren't anywhere near similar to one another.

Joe Fresh Blush in Hydrangea - I wasn't going to look at Joe Fresh makeup anymore but this particular shade beckoned me during a snowy day when I had enough PC Points to redeem for this pretty pan while shopping for bread and cheese at Loblaws. And it was well worth the points splurge, because the texture is unexpectedly silky and sophisticated for a budget brand and the colour payoff just perfect (not too pigmented nor too light). And now whenever I shop at Loblaws, I have to buy more cheese and donuts to make myself feel better about not owning the rest of the shades. (Available at Joe Fresh stores and Loblaws. Completely baffled as to why the Joe Fresh website doesn't sell makeup.)