The Makeup Box

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The “Dior Glow” Trio

I am absolutely obsessed with all the products in the Dior range that give a “glow”. 3 of the staples include:

  • Dior Lip Glow Color Reviver Balm: I’ve been using this color changing balm for 3 years, and I love how subtle it looks compared to most color-changing balms. This is a god-send for people like me who have pale, colorless lips and want a natural look.
  • Dior Healthy Glow Color Awakening Blush: This hot pink blush is a relatively new possession and the first color-changing blush I’ve ever seen, but I love how it warms up to a pink that goes with most lip colors and looks. It’s not an electric pink the way it looks in the pan, but just be careful not to over-apply because it is quite intense!
  • Dior Glow Maximizer Light Boosting Primer: This is a primer technically, but I use it as a highlighter on top of foundation instead. It’s like Benefit’s discontinued Moon Beam but in a texture like MAC’s Strobe Cream. The color is a mixture of warm gold and soft pink so it looks super-natural on most skin tones. This is a permanent product and it quickly sold out at almost all the Dior counters in Singapore shortly after launch!

PINK VELVET!

Ahhhhh… my favorite matte red liquid lip stain is Lime Crime’s Red Velvet from the Velvetines collection, and the company’s recently launched a deep fuchsia pink version called “Pink Velvet” that I was obviously dying to try.

Ta-daaaa….

It’s gorgeous. (The product is still slightly moist on my lip swatch. It eventually settles into a fully-matte velvety rich magenta pink that stays on for hours.)

If you’re a matte-pink lover, this is one product you just HAVE to try. It’s not as neon or bright as I’d feared. In fact, it’s like a more intense version of MAC’s Girl About Town in a Retro Matte finish (with a weightless feel). Which means it flatters most skin tones from pale to dark, and it’s more tolerable than typical matte lipsticks.

And that’s all I need to say about it!

Photo product details: OPI Shorts Story, Britney Spears Curious: In Control bottle, Kose Visee blush PK-5, iPhone in a “purse”-shaped rubber case from the $2 store.

The NARSissist Eye Palette: Swatches and A Quick Review!

It might not be news to some of you folks in the US, but NARS’ highly-anticipated NARSissist palette is coming to Singapore 3 Feb, and will be available for pre-orders on http://bit.ly/narsissist from 27 Jan 2014.

I won’t lie. The price-tag is hefty (S$115) and there are lots of different opinions as to whether it’s worth it, considering the countless “nude” palettes on the market.

I’m not going to make up your mind for you. It really depends on your budget, and what sort of pigmentation level you like with your eye makeup. I’ll just show you swatches and a super quick smoky eye done with the palette in 5 minutes.

The Breakdown:

  • Pigmentation: Medium-buildable. If you’re used to Urban Decay or Make Up For Ever, you might find this less pigmented. But if you’re used to Bobbi Brown and Chanel, these will be much more pigmented. The main thing is it’s quite flexible and flattering; the mattes are not too chalky, the darks are not too patchy, and most of the shades can be worn soft or built up to intensity without you having to wet them.
  • Colors: There are 3 mattes, 4-5 metallics, and the rest are a soft satin (not too shiny or matte) and the colors are split quite evenly between the pale, mid-tone and smoky. There are also 4 slightly cooler taupe/grey tones. Plenty of options for pretty much any neutral look you want.

Reasons to Get It.

  • You are a NARS fan. This is a great addition if you’re already a NARS fanatic of course. It’s as slick and chic as the rest of the line, AND you get so many wearable colors in one product that it will quickly become a work/daily staple.
  • You usually use Diors and Chanels but would like to dip a foot into the “jumbo neutral palettes” category. The satiny (between matte and pearl) textures in this palette are quite similar to what you’d find from Dior and Chanel, and are very flattering for mature or crepe-y eyelids, which don’t look good with chalky mattes or overly metallic sheen.
  • You’re just looking to invest good money in one neutral eye palette that is versatile, easy to use, and sturdy and chic enough to bring out with you, but you’re not keen to buy the same old Naked palette that everyone and her sister has.
  • As NARS says, you have “a bottomless makeup bag” and you can’t imagine not owning this.

Reasons Not to Get It.

  • You are on a tight budget. This is a 15-color eye palette from NARS. You know it is NOT going to be cheap. (Step away from the counter, sister!)
  • You already own Naked 1, Naked 2, Naked 3, and/or all of their alternatives and dupes. (Unless, of course, you are a complete nude palette fanatic with that “bottomless makeup bag” and the money isn’t a problem.)
  • You get paralyzed and don’t know what to do or where to start when you look at a trio or a quad. Much less a 15-color palette.

Final Verdict?

I like it. It’s very versatile, I love the satin textures (I ironically don’t own many satin shadows; they’re mostly full-on metallic or matte), and it’s not super-pigmented, but in a good way. If you tend to be heavy handed or you’re not yet an expert with eye makeup, you’re not very likely to make a big mess with this. The look above was done without any primer or base, using cheap brushes. I got no fallout and the dark shades went on quite intense, and blended out easily.

It’s good, but it’s not mind-blowing enough to say “run out and get it now” considering the hefty price tag. Unless of course, the money is no problem at all - in which case, I’d say it’s a pretty good palette to have!

The Whitening Story (plus New Laneige White Plus Renew Products and BB Cushion!)

If you’ve never lived in Asia, you might find it odd that “whitening” is a big thing in skincare here. It frequently out-sells color cosmetics and other skincare lines for many of the brands.

One thing you need to understand is that “whitening” in Asia generally doesn’t carry the same stigma that it does in the West. It doesn’t stem from the same concept as some Western skincare brands in the early parts of the 20th century, where “white skin” was associated with superiority and women of color were often sold skin-lightening products and encouraged to change their appearance.

Many East Asians ARE very fair-skinned to begin with, and culturally, we grew up associating porcelain skin with unblemished beauty and well-preserved youthfulness. So if you ask many women here, it’s more about achieving (or mimicking) pristine, perfectly-preserved skin that looks like it has never been exposed to any photo-aging and environmental damage, than about emulating other races. (That’s why you’ll see most women here buying sun creams and foundations with as high an SPF factor as we can find.)

Ironically, in modern days, a tan, golden appearance is more associated with Western ideals and pop culture!

Long-winded story aside, the 2 powerhouses where the most popular whitening ranges originate are Japan and South Korea. And every Spring, we usually see a bumper crop of new whitening products launched.

The latest “thing” among many of the whitening ranges this year are groups of active ingredients that work together to treat 3 forms of discolorations. Redness (flushed skin, capillaries), darkness (melanin), and sallowness (poor circulation etc). Japanese brand Shiseido’s new White Lucent serum promises the same as Laneige, although the pricing and ingredients used to achieve those vary slightly.

Laneige introduces 3 new products that contain the new “melano-crusher” complex.

  1. The updated White Plus Renew Original Essence (S$76 for 40ml): the serum contains the highest concentration of the whitening complex and is used day and night before moisturizer and sunblock. 
  2. The White Plus Renew Capsule Sleeping Pack (S$42 for a pack of 16): These fun little portable vacuum-sealed pods contain a white cream suspended in a clear gel. Open one, mix up the cream and gel using the spatula that comes in the box, and apply in place of moisturizer twice a week as an intensive treatment before bed.
  3. BB Cushion SPF50 PA+++ (S$65 per box with 1 case and 2 stamp pads): The latest iteration of the super-popular BB cushions (portable little stamp-pads soaked in a lightweight BB cream) come in 6 shades; the 4 above, plus 2 darker shades for tanned skins. The texture and finish is dewy, with light to medium coverage depending how you apply it (pat for higher coverage, rub for lower coverage). The new version give the same glowy perfected skin finish as the Soothing BB Cushion, but includes the new whitening complex for added skincare benefits. 

My favorite out of the 3? It’s hard to say since I haven’t had a lot of time to try each of them, but here are my first impressions.

  • Essence: Very fresh and soothing to use; the ingredients and the science behind it sounds promising, but I’ll have to use it for a longer period of time to say if it can really repair and sooth the skin as well as promised, but so far so good!
  • Capsule Sleeping Pack: Super fun, and feels extremely soothing and luxe on the skin, but I have to say a single capsule easily contains enough product for 2-3 uses, so it’s a bit of a waste unless you’re traveling and want something portable. You can try to use some and store the opened capsule in the fridge for another day, but I probably won’t recommend that because some ingredients can degrade with air exposure, so you won’t really be getting maximum efficacy if you do that. Great as a special treat before special occasions though!
  • BB cushion: I don’t need to say all that much about this; it’s a huge hit in Asia because of the amount of coverage it gives, and how convenient it is. (A multi-purpose skincare-slash-base with SPF50 PA+++, in a portable compact so you can touch up through the day; no brainer for all the lazy girls who’d rather sleep in than apply serum, lotion, sunblock, primer, foundation, etc). I do have to say this is better for normal to drier skins, as it doesn’t really “set”, and can rub off on oilier skins. 

Shade reference: (this is an approximation, so do make sure you test it out and check in daylight before purchasing!)

NC15/NC20 - 13

NW15 - 14

NW20/NC25 - 21 (this I can guarantee cos it’s my shade!)

NW25/NC30 - 23

NW30-35/NC35-37 - 31

NW40/NC42 - 33

The shades are quite forgiving, but I’d say if in doubt, go one shade darker. If you go lighter, you might get a white cast that’s more obvious because of the high SPF. And I do have to say the shade range isn’t quite large enough for women with darker skins, even though 6 shades is pretty impressive compared to most Korean/Japanese brands which carry about 2-3 colors max in their BB ranges. 

Revlon Colorburst Matte Balms: A New Love

Spotted these in the drugstore the other day and had to pick up a few favorite shades.

  • Standout: is Standout. It’s a perfect deep red a la MAC Russian Red mixed with a little Viva Glam I. It’s a touch deeper than Revlon’s Matte lipstick in Really Red. Super glamorous.
  • Unapologetic: This ”deeper-than-Viva-Glam-Nicki-1” coral pink is one of the bright beauties in the range and if you couldn’t wear VG Nicki because it was too orange against your skin but love the shade, you have to try this one out. It goes on a little more blue-toned than in the tube, especially in daylight, so be aware that it’s not as coral as it seems in some lights. (This also looks suspiciously similar to a hard-to-find favorite, Shu Uemura’s matte unlimited lipstick in Evil Pink…)
  • Complex: Revlon never brought in their nude matte lipstick to Singapore, and I’m always on the lookout for good matte nudes. This one is a tone deeper than a concealer nude, so it’s actually wearable for more people. It’s slightly lighter than MAC Soft Brew, but not as grey/mauve as Blankety so if you have warm undertones, you won’t look quite as corpse-like.

What exactly do I love about these?

They’re smooth, they’re creamy, they glide on like balms, the colors go on more evenly than many of the regular matte lipsticks from Revlon, there are some great strong shades in the line (women with dark skin, check out Shameless, a deep dark purple that belongs more on Illamasqua, MAC, and Nars counters), there’s a nice minty feel but not too stimulating for my sensitive lips, and best of all - they are matte but they actually feel good and moisturizing.

ENOUGH SAID. RUN TO THE DRUGSTORE!

Shiseido Sheer Eye Zone Corrector: Loving this for Dark Circles!

I have completely fallen in love with Shiseido’s newly-launched alternative to Touche Eclat. I tried it once, and the pen went STRAIGHT into my bag, where it now sits beside my beloved Dior Lip Glow. (I don’t bring much makeup around - only the holy grail stuff.)

Background: I never got extremely good results with the original YSL Touche Eclat, although I’m glad they brought out lots of different tones and shades in recent years. (2.5 works pretty decent on me.)

This comes in a silky texture and sets to a non-greasy lightweight longwearing finish that doesn’t smudge or budge easily. Instead of just pale colored pigments, the range comes in 6 shades for 6 different skintones from pale to dark. 

The thing to note about these 6 shades (I am around NC25-30 and wear 103) is each one has a specific undertone designed to neutralize eye area discolorations on porcelain skins, fair skins, medium skins, olive skins, tan skins, dark skins respectively. Don’t be surprised if you swatch it at the counter and find some to be more orange, some to be more pink, some to be more yellow than the others.

Above images are done on bare, unretouched skin, without ANY foundation. I used it under the eyes, at the inner and outer corners, and lightly across the lids because my skin is naturally darker there. The product completely evens everything out, AND - the best thing is - it doesn’t look like makeup.

Tips:

  • You can go one shade lighter if you want to use the pen for highlighting your contours, but go for the shade that’s designed for your skin tone if you want to neutralize circles and discolorations. Going lighter means there will not be the correct pigmentation in the product to neutralize your dark circles properly, and it will also look less natural.
  • The product has actually been designed to work well even under eye makeup as a base/primer. So for those who have discolored lids, you don’t need a separate primer on top.

I won’t say this completely neutralizes everything.

If you have pretty severe circles, I’d recommend blending this into regular concealer so you get lighter, more natural texture and coverage, as well as color-correction. Where it shines is in photographs. I don’t get any flash back on camera. This would be great for weddings - as long as you get your correct shade. 

I’m also not sure if the darkest shade is dark enough for women with very dark skintones.

Aside from this, I consider it a great balance between color correction and naturalness.

Enough said. Go check it out!

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