Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Dior Diorshow Brow Styler Ultra-Fine Precision Brow Pencil review

Dior Diorshow Brow Styler Ultra-Fine Precision Brow Pencil

This is my new favourite brow pencil. After breaking and losing too many inches of pencils from poor pencil sharpening skills, I went out looking for the ultimate brow pencil. What I needed was a perfectly neutral brown shade with no red tones, a lead which doesn't crumble on the skin and a fine tip which will never require sharpening. I'm pleased to report that I found all this in the Diorshow Brow Styler Ultra-Fine Precision Brow Styler.

Dior Diorshow Brow Styler Ultra-Fine Precision Brow Pencil

The Brow Styler comes as a retractable pencil. Although the tip is ultra fine, it doesn't feel brittle or prone to breakage. The lead is slightly dry and matte (it's somewhere between waxy and powdery), which makes it perfect for sketching into sparse areas without looking drawn on. Unlike the Dior Powder Brow Pencil which was an old favourite of mine, there's minimal fallout from the lead.

Dior Diorshow Brow Styler Ultra-Fine Precision Brow Pencil

The colour is designed to be a universally flattering shade to suit all skin tones. It's an ashy, mid-dark brown which blends in easily with my naturally black brow hairs. I'm not sure it would look particularly natural on very blonde eyebrows, but I can see it suiting all brows mousy and upwards.


The Brow Styler also comes with a convenient spoolie brush on one end which is great for running through the brows to soften up any hard lines.

Now for the before photo. The shape of my brows is not too bad but the hairs aren't very dense, so without brow pencil, my face just looks like an egg... no structure or framing. The sparseness also makes my brows look grey.


Below is a photo after I have shaded them in with the Brow Styler. Even without any other make-up on, I feel so much more polished and presentable with my brows shaded in. It also helps my brows look more matched with my dark brown hair colour.

Dior Diorshow Brow Styler Ultra-Fine Precision Brow Pencil

The Diorshow Brow Styler was quite expensive for a brow pencil at $28. But I do really love it, and I'm sure it'll last a long time considering I'm not sharpening it all away!

Sunday, 27 November 2011

NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base review: A must have for crease-free eyeshadow

NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base

This is my second tube of NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base so it's probably about time I gave it its own post.

I'm sure most of you will already know what an eyeshadow/eyelid primer does but if you're not sure (hey, I only started using an eyelid primer two years ago), here's the blurb for this one by NARS:

What it is:
A lightweight primer that creates a seamless canvas that keeps cream and powder eye color looking brilliant, fresh, and just-applied all day.

What it does:
This smudge-proof eyeshadow base uses a unique polymer and mineral powder blend to get a firm grip on color for long-lasting, gorgeous wear. Fortified with a special deep-sea extract and an antioxidant rice extract, it dries on contact and keeps the delicate eye lid smooth and ready for eyeshadow application.

In short, if I don't use an eyelid primer underneath my eyeshadow, it completely fades off and creases within hours. I must have ultra greasy eyelids. In fact, I know I do, because if I don't wear an eyelid primer, even if I'm not wearing make-up and I'm sitting around at home, my eyelids start feeling really sticky and baggy from the oil... eww I know.

I used to use Urban Decay Primer Potion but I bought the NARS version because I'd heard that it was slightly easier to blend eyeshadows on than Urban Decay. I find that Urban Decay is just too grippy and once eyeshadow is on top of it, it's difficult to blend out the hard edges.

NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base applicator

NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base comes in a no-fuss tube (no genie bottles here!) with a doe foot applicator. I used to like the old slanted applicator wand on Urban Decay Primer Potion because the slant made it easy to pick up all the product on the inner sides of the tubes, but this is fine too. I actually noticed that Urban Decay Primer Potion doesn't even have an applicator at all now and that it just comes in a squeezy tube. Personally, I like having a wand applicator... it makes it easier to get the right amount out.

NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base swatch

For such a powerful product, the formula is surprisingly thin and smooth. It's not tacky or heavy at all. It spreads easily with fingertips with no dragging and is completely weightless and invisible once it's on. It just feels like applying a light eye cream.

The difference is only when eyeshadow is applied over the primer - it makes eyeshadow more opaque and vibrant and locks it in place until I remove my make-up at the end of the day. There's zero fading or creasing for at least 16 hours. I don't know how it works, but it literally stops any hint of oil breaking through. I even wear it when I'm not wearing eyeshadow, just to stop that icky heavy eyelid feeling I get when they're oily. I literally cannot go without wearing it!

I find the results pretty much the same as from Urban Decay Primer Potion. I think it is slightly easier to blend eyeshadows on than Urban Urban, but only marginally. The main deal breaker for me between the two is really now just the fact that unlike Primer Potion, the NARS product comes with an applicator wand so I don't have to worry about squeezing out exactly the right amount from a tube.

The full ingredients of NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base are:

Isododecane, Talc, Cyclopentasiloxane, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Vp/Eicosene Copolymer, Dimethicone, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Cyclohexasiloxane, Sorbitan Sesquioleate, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Propylene Carbonate, Peg-40 Stearate, Sorbitan Olivate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Cera Alba (Beeswax), Phenoxyethanol, Diethylhexyl Syringylidenemalonate, Oryza Sativa [Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil Extract], Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Castor Oil Phosphate, Sea Whip Extract, Mica, Ci 77891 (Titanium Dioxide), Ci 77163 (Bismuth Oxychloride).

NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base costs $24/£18. It's a little more expensive than Urban Decay Primer Potion, but the difference is really quite insignificant considering my last tube lasted me every day for a year!

Friday, 25 November 2011

MAC purchases: Some hits and some misses


For a beauty blogger, I don't really own many MAC items. I used to hate the experience of browsing crowded MAC counters/stores in the UK, with the swarms of shrill teenage girls and overly made-up shop assistants. However, it turns out the beauty department in Bloomingdales is practically deserted on weekday evenings, which means a much nicer shopping experience. It was so peaceful that I even let a make-up artist/sales assistant apply make-up on me.

I picked up what I thought were great staples but had a massive case of buyer's remorse when I got home. Fortunately, the make-up artist told me I could always bring items back for a refund if I changed my mind... and after much deliberation, I took advantage of the relaxed returns policy and returned used make-up for the first time.

Before I returned the products (btw they took them back, no questions asked), I took photos of everything, so I might as well still write about them.


MAC Paint Pot in Painterly


MAC Paint Pot in Painterly

I bought this because every beauty blogger seems to love using it as an eyeshadow base. I thought it would act as an eyelid primer and brightener all-in-one, but while it has a really nice, matte texture at first, it melts into an oil slick by midday on me, leaving me with creased eyeshadow and eyeliner transferred under my brows. The colour is nice though... it brightens up and evens out my eye area without adding any colour, and eyeshadows apply well over it. It cost $17.50.

Verdict: Kept because it stays put as long as it's applied over a proper eyelid primer (my current favourite is NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base)


MAC Eye Shadow in Wedge, Saddle and Brown Down


MAC Eye Shadow in Wedge, Saddle and Brown Down
From left to right: Wedge, Saddle and Brown Down

MAC Eye Shadow in Wedge, Saddle and Brown Down swatches
From left to right: Wedge, Saddle and Brown Down

These were my most regretted purchases. I protested against the warm tones of Saddle and Brown Down to the make-up artist but I let him talk me into trying them. "Wedge" is ok... it's a matte, taupey beigey brown shade which is good for contouring. However, I just couldn't get "Saddle" and "Brown Down" to work on me when I got home... they're just too warm/red-toned and make me look ill. I tried many times but maybe my make-up skills are just too poor. Each eyeshadow cost $15.

Verdict: Kept "Wedge" because of the contouring possibilities, and returned "Saddle" and "Brown Down" because they were literally getting me down thinking about them sitting there probably to be unused for the rest of my life.


MAC Opulash Mascara in Optimum Black


MAC Opulash in Optimum Black wand

This wasn't tried on me in the store.. I just bought it based on the make-up artist's recommendation that it was MAC's latest mascara and that it would thicken and create plush lashes in one coat. The brush is huge and the formula is very dry (contains kaolin and alcohol) and a little clumpy. I couldn't get any length from this mascara but it does thicken lashes as advertised. I find it better on lower lashes where I'm not so bothered about length but I do want thickening. The big brush makes it hard not to get mascara under the eye though. The staying power is great - it doesn't smudge at all. It cost $15.

Verdict: Kept for use on lower lashes (but it was a close call).

Here was one of my attempts of using the eyeshadows and mascara...



MAC Mineralize Blush in Warm Soul


MAC Mineralize Blush in Warm Soul

MAC Mineralize Blush in Warm Soul swatch

Finally, a purchase I'm pleased with! "Warm Soul" is a bronzey peachy blush which gives my cheeks an instant healthy glow. I would never have picked it out by myself because it looks really sparkly/glittery when swatched and I usually go for pinker blushes. However, I have to admit it does look better on. Under some lights, you can notice sparkles on the skin, but it's not as bad I thought it would be. As it's bronzey and sparkly, it also means I don't need to bother with contouring or highlighting with separate products when I'm feeling lazy. It cost $22.

Verdict: Kept and using every day. I want to check out the other blush colours in the Mineralize collection now!

Here is a picture of me wearing MAC Mineralize Blush Warm Soul.

MAC Mineralize Blush in Warm Soul on cheeks


MAC Lipstick in Twig


MAC Lipstick in Twig

This lipstick was depressing me. Every time I tried to wear it, it got me down. In the store, I liked the smooth pigmentation and it looked pretty... kind of pink and elegant. Apparently it "suits everyone". But when I got home and tried it again, it looked too warm, too dark and too ageing. It cost $14.50.

Verdict: Returned! I felt like I had a massive weight lifted off my shoulders afterwards.


MAC 239 Eye Shader Brush and 252 Large Shader Brush


MAC 239 Eye Shader Brush and 252 Large Shader Brush

I love the Eye Shader Brush ($24.50) - the natural hairs are firm but so soft and smooth that it makes putting on eyeshadow feel like a treat. The hairs are dense yet non-scratchy and can really pack on the colour. I was told to only use this brush for powder eyeshadows because creamy formulas will clog up the hairs.

The Large Shader Brush ($30) is good for covering larger areas when I don't need any precision e.g. for covering the entire eye area up to the brow with the Painterly Paint Pot. The bristles are artificial and a bit stiffer, but not scratchy at all.

Verdict: Kept!


MAC Brush Cleaner


MAC Brush Cleaner

Yep, I've never had an official brush cleaner before. I've only ever washed my brushes in handwash. It seemed to do the job, so why pay $13 for a big bottle of what is basically mostly alcohol? Turns out this brush cleaner does actually get out a lot of grossness embedded deep inside brush hairs. The instructions are to use it on damp brushes and then wipe onto a cloth/tissue, rinse thoroughly then leave to dry. I couldn't believe how much came out of one of my blusher brushes - by the end, I had five large, thick tissues which were covered in what looked like creamy foundation where all the old blusher and bronzer was melting off! Gross! No wonder the brush had started to smell like socks!

Verdict: Kept and feeling sheepish for not investing in a brush cleaner before now.


Bit of a long post... but hopefully there is something of interest somewhere here! God bless America and its lax returns policies.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Black Friday 2011 beauty and fashion coupon codes: Online shopping fest!! (US-only)

A friend posted this video on Facebook and I swore to myself I would never, ever shop in a store on Black Friday. No siree! It's online shopping all the way for me. Scroll down to see my top picks for online shopping this weekend, and let me know if you find anything else!



"GOD DAMN!" (0:49)


Beauty Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals



BeautyTicket.com - 25% off everything (end date unknown)
Code: cyber25
www.beautyticket.com

BH Cosmetics - 45% off eyeshadow palettes and 35% off all make-up brushes from now to Friday 11/25 midnight PST
No code required
www.bhcosmetics.com

Coastal Scents - 50% off until Tues 11/29 9am EST
No code necessary - discount will become visible during checkout
www.coastalscents.com

Anastasia - 35% off any order from now till 11/28 for registered customers (you need to be logged in)
Code: THANKS
anastasia.net

Eve Pearl - 40% to 55% off Eve Pearl products now to 11/28 11pm EST.
Code: BPTG2011
www.evepearl.com

Cherry Culture - 20% off everything now until Sun 11/27
Code: TGS20
cherryculture.com
Top pick: NYX HD Eye Shadow Base

Bliss - 20% off on Bliss, Remede and Elemis purchases from now til 12/05
Code: THANKS20
www.blissworld.com

Korres - 20% off entire purchases from now to Sunday 11/27 plus free shipping on any $50 purchase
Code: FF2011
www.korresusa.com

Smashbox - 20% off from now to Mon 11/28
Code: SBXFF11
www.smashbox.com

Inglot - 15% off entire order + free shipping from now till Mon 11/28 3am EST
No code required
www.inglotusa.com

Shu Uemura - 20% off plus free shipping with any purchase over $50 from now to Tues 11/29
Code: WISH2011
www.shuuemura-usa.com

YSL - 20% off + free shipping on every order from now to Sat 11/26
Code: CYBER
www.yslbeautyus.com

LA Splash - 40% off from now to Weds 11/30
No code required
lasplashcosmetics.com

The Balm - 40% off on Fri 11/25 from 9am to midnight PST
Code: BLACKFRIDAY
www.thebalm.com

FACE Atelier - 30% off on Fri 11/25
Code: THANKS
www.faceatelier.com
Top pick: Ultra Foundation (see my review here)
Thanks Arianne (aka Glitter Geek) for the tweet!

Rain Cosmetics - 40% off everything on Fri 11/25
No code required
www.raincosmetics.com

Josie Maran - 25% off from Frid 11/25 to Mon 11/28
Code: GIVEBACK (excludes Good Buys)
www.josiemarancosmetics.com

Milani Cosmetics - 50% off everything + free shipping from Mon 11/28 8am to 11/29 PST 8am
Code: CYBER
www.milanicosmetics.com

Kate Somerville - 30% off Fri 11/25 to Mon 11/28
Code: HOLIDAY2011
www.katesomerville.com

Laura Gellar - 20% off everything until Mon 11/28 11:59pm PST + free shipping on orders over $50
No code required
www.laurageller.com

Origins - $10 off + free shipping on orders over $25 until Mon 11/28
Code: TENOFF
www.origins.com

Ricky's NYC - 20% off professional haircare, Mattese Elite cosmetics and hair appliances and 50% off holiday gift items until Fri 11/25 11:59pm EST
Code: BEAUTIFUL20
www.rickysnyc.com

Pür Minerals - 25% off everything + free shipping + free quilted wristlet with any orders over $25
No code required
www.purminerals.com

Sue Devitt - 20% off all orders until 12/05 11:59pm EST
No code required
www.suedevittbeauty.com

SkinStore.com - 20% off everything (end date unknown) + free shipping on orders over $49
Code: GIFT20
www.skinstore.com

Tarte Cosmetics - 15% off
Code: GGD
tartecosmetics.com

ULTA.com - Big savings on select products from Fr 11/25 to Sat 11/26 plus additional codes below
Codes:
Free shipping on orders over $25 with code HOLIDAYSHP25 or 51532
Save $15 on orders over $75 with code SAVE15ON75
Save $10 on orders over $50 with code SAVE10ON50 or 10199
Save $3.50 on orders over $10 with code 61733
www.ulta.com/blackfriday

Urban Decay - $20 off Book Of Shadows IV to the first 1000 customers on Fri 11/25 only
Code BLACKFRIDAY11
www.urbandecay.com


Clothing and shoes Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals



American Eagle Outfitters - 40% off entire order from now to Sat 11/26 11:59pm EST + free shipping
Code: 72429831
www.ae.com
Top pick: Jeggings which come in short, regular and long lengths!

French Connection - 30% off any purchase (end date unknown)
Code: FCBLKFRI
usa.frenchconnection.com

Tobi - 30% off sitewide till Mon 11/28
Code: SHOPPER30
www.tobi.com

Loft - 40% off everything (+free shipping on orders over $125) (end date unknown)
Code: SHOP40
www.loft.com

Ann Taylor - 40% off everything (+free shipping on orders over $150) (end date unknown)
Code: THANKS
www.anntaylor.com
Top pick: Perfect Patent Pump

Banana Republic - 35% off from now until Fri 11/25 + free shipping on orders over $50
Code: BRFRIDAY
bananarepublic.gap.com

Piperlime - 20% off from now until Mon 11/28 + free shipping on all orders
Code: TWENTY
www.piperlime.com

GAP - 20% off (plus already reduced prices) + free shipping on orders over $50
Code: GAPTHANKS on Thurs 11/24 and GAPSHOP until 11/25
www.gap.com

Steve Madden - 30% off all purchases + free shipping (end date unknown)
Code: TURKEY
www.stevemadden.com
Thanks Angie!

Aldo - Extra 30% off all reduced footwear (end date unknown)
No code required
www.aldoshoes.com
Top pick: Kalfa which I bought at full price in August!

Levi's - 30% off entire order + free shipping on orders $50 until Fri 11/25 11:59 pm PST.
Code: BLACKFRI
us.levi.com

Lands' End - 30% off entire order + free shipping on orders over $50 until Mon 11/28 11:59pm CT
Code: STUFFING & Pin 5847
www.landsend.com

BCBGMAXAZRIA — 50% off ALL sweaters, outerwear, leather & boots (end date unknown)
No code required
www.bcbgmaxazriagroup.com/fall2011

ASOS - 20% off everything including on-sale items + free shipping (dates unknown)
Code: BLACKFRIDAY2011
us.asos.com

ESPRIT - 40% off entire site until Tues 11/29
Code: BLKFRIDAY11
www.espritshop.com

Express - 40% off everything from now until noon Fri 11/25
No code required
www.express.com

Happy shopping (err.. I mean Thanksgiving)!

Friday, 4 November 2011

Physicians Formula Eye Booster 2-in-1 Lash Boosting Eyeliner + Serum review


Another pleasing US drugstore find to report on! You may have seen the lash boosting liquid liner from Peter Thomas Roth Lashes to Die For... well, this is the cheapo drugstore version from Physicians Formula (around $11 compared to $28 for Peter Thomas Roth) and I love it.

Physicians Formula Eye Booster 2-in-1 Lash Boosting Eyeliner + Serum is a liquid liner that boasts 24-hour wear as well as a lash enhancing formula. It contains the ingredient, Myristoyl Pentapeptide-17, which is a peptide that encourages eyelash growth by stimulating keratin genes. Not to be mistaken for prostagladin products, this peptide doesn't come with the freaky list of side effects associated with the likes of Latisse, LiLash, RapidLash (skin darkening, eye colour changes, irritation etc).

The blurb:

High-tech formula enhances the appearance of lashes while providing the instant definition of a liquid eyeliner, in one easy step!

Lash Boosting complex targets the base of lashes where it is most effective.

Innovative and easy to use eyelining tool delivers effortless definition.

High-tech Japanese formula is long-wearing, water-resistant and smudge-resistant.


The pen itself is a nicely weighted metal-cased pen which looks and feels much more expensive than it actually is. The pen contains a ball bearing inside which helps to keep the formula mixed and smooth. The instructions say to shake before use.


The brush tip is an actual brush, not a felt tip pen type of nib. It's very finely pointed and stays in shape without any sign of fraying or blunting. There's always a perfect amount of product on the brush - it never globs up with excess product or dries out.


The liner is the perfect consistency - it comes out smooth and inky with no gaps and no feathering. It feels more like applying a gel liner with a brush than using a liquid liner pen. The lines on my hand below are rushed and messy but if you have a steady hand you'll love how neat a line you can get with this liner in one stroke. The brush is ultra precise, so you can go as thick or thin as you like. The swatches below are the Ultra Black colour.


Here is the liner as I wear it (medium thickness and slightly flicked):

Physicians Formula Eye Booster 2-in-1 Lash Boosting Eyeliner + Serum

The lasting power of this eyeliner is phenomenal - it doesn't smudge, flake or fade. I for once have to use a proper eye make-up remover because it literally stays immaculate even after attacking it with Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish and a large dose of hot water and scrubbing. I swear it stays on like tar.

I'm not actually sure of the lash boosting effects because I'd already been using Wet 'n' Wild MegaLash Clinical Serum for several weeks which contains the same lash growth peptide ingredient and so my lashes are already "boosted" (they are longer and more plentiful). But it can't hurt using two products for both night and day!

This eyeliner comes in Ultra Black, Black and Brown, and can be found at most drugstores in the US. Mine was from guess where... Duane Reade, my second home. I paid around $11.

The full ingredients of Physicians Formula Eye Booster 2-in-1 Lash Boosting Eyeliner + Serum are:

Water, Ethylhexyl Acrylate/Methyl Methacrylate Copolymer, Butylene Glycol, Sd Alcohol 40, Beheneth-30, Ammonium Acrylates/Methyl Styrene/Styrene Copolymer, Glycerin, Myristoyl Pentapeptide-17, 1,2-Hexanediol, Acrylates/Octylacrylamide Copolymer, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Polyglyceryl-3 Disiloxane Dimethicone, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA, Black 2.

Happy eyelining!
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