Thanks, MUA, for introducing me to yet another expensive product I am determined to use for life. I use CoverFX cream foundation to cover largish swaths of melasma left over from pregnancy and a childhood spent in the sun. This stuff is THICK, and it's easy to overapply. I've used my fingers, brushes, cheap drugstore wedge sponges, you name it, and I still end up with too much product on the outer layer of the skin and not enough settled down in the pores. I just want a thin layer all over. The first time I used the Beautyblender I was amazed at how evenly my foundation applied, and how my coverage was opaque but thin. The technique is easy; just stipple instead of rubbing. I don't like to buy specialized cleaning products b/c I think they're part of a major racket--I mean, this sponge is expensive enough as it is--so I just used my favorite brush cleaner, Prell shampoo (the classic green gel). Worked beautifully, although it did take a bit of time to squeeze the suds out of the sponge (Prell's fault, not the sponge's). The extra time and effort are worth it. I haven't tried the sponge yet for applying cream blushes, etc., but I look forward to it. Incidentally, I did use the pointed tip to apply eyeshadow base, and it worked like a dream. If you want an airbrushed look that still gives your skin the texture of SKIN, this is the tool to use.
I didn't like this at first. It looks like a sheer butterfly-wing lavender-taupe on my nude lips, which washes me out. But then I discovered that it's the *perfect* top layer to add dimension and a certain je ne sais quoi to nude lipliners. MUFE Aqua liner #5 over the whole lip, followed by a layer of Myself, concentrated in the middle of the upper and lower lips, is my magic combination, and looks great with Personal Style blush, from the same MAC collection. The result is a beautiful, perfectly balanced pinky-nude lip, neither too warm nor too cool. And the luster formula is one of my favorites: SO comfortable to wear.
LOVE. Others have mentioned Emote and Strada, both of which I own and love too, for different reasons. Like Emote and Strada, Personal Style has no shimmer and is so muted that it seems almost colorless, like some kind of nondescript powder formed out of baked clay. When I set the three next to each other, Strada looks like a completely neutral grey-brown clay, whereas Emote and Personal Style look like warm-yellowish and cool-pinkish versions of the same, respectively. What I love about Personal Style is that the pink tone makes it the perfect choice for when I need a muted pink-nude blush that's impossible to overdo. It looks very polished and professional, and doesn't read as a shimmerless bronzer the way Emote and Strada do. My skin is NC30, and the color shows up fine. It's definitely not something you'd use to get a "pop" of color, but it's gorgeous for a nude, soft face.
Great Caesar's ghost, does this make my teeth look white! Natural Sinner is a medium terracotta rose color that goes very well with -- sorry to mention it, b/c it shows up everywhere as a comparison color, but here it truly IS apt -- MAC Spice lipliner, which is described by MAC as "pink cinnamon stick." The same description could be applied to Natural Sinner. I also have Rose Sinner (deeper, cooler, more saturated pink that looks almost fuchsia on me) and Pink Sinner (pale cool pink that, unfortunately, makes my teeth look yellow). Natural Sinner looks like it was made for my light olive (MAC NC30 or CoverFX M40) complexion. It's a stunner. Amazing color payoff, creamy texture. Alas, I find it drying, as I do most matte or matte-ish lipsticks, so I swipe it on in the morning with MAC Spice to line, then take along Saint Natural for moisturizing during the day. One of these days I'll invest in the Lipstick Queen liners, but I prefer a liner that's a tad darker and more muted than my lipstick colors, so the "exact match" description doesn't appeal to me.
I SO wanted to love Warm Me Up. Indeed, I bought it sight unseen (except for the MAC online swatch). Verdict: I've never used a lipstick that so brilliantly succeeds in making me look like a corpse. Doesn't matter what liner I wear with it; it just saps the vitality from my face. Ironically, I've been able to salvage it by using it as a cream blush instead, and it looks great. So--for my NC30ish light olive complexion, Warm Me Up is a no-go for the lips, but a lovely natural cream blush for the cheeks. Bizarre.
Fragrances -Unlisted Brand - Boadicea the Victorious Complex
WinterWheat 1/5/2010 11:20:00 AM
Luckyscent describes Complex thusly: "The mood is Gothic; the scene, a dungeon; the scent, an unsettling dip into olfactory taboos. This is leather at its darkest, spiked with metallic studs of violet, lashed with the aromatic essences of basil and sage. Cistus labdanum straddles the boundary between the herbal and animal realms, before submitting to the whip of leather – tarry, bitter, almost licorice-like in its somber facets. An animal aroma of civet and musk suffuses the scene with the smell of hot, yielding flesh. Incense fumes bathe the ritual in their searing whorls. Heed the stern command of Complex and let the ceremony commence. Just don’t say you haven’t been warned." I wish I'd taken the warning seriously, but I was seduced by the list of notes: violet, labdanum, leather, musk, civet, basil, sage. With such an assortment of components, this 'fume could have gone anywhere; unfortunately it ends up heading down the road to quinoline overdose. If you love Bandit you might like Complex, but if you're sensitive to the singed-green-pepper scent of quinoline (which is, unconvincingly to me, supposed to smell like leather), then beware. The basil and sage make the quinoline smell that much more like blackened peppers adhered to burned pizza crust, or perhaps to that sizzly iron plate they use to serve your fajitas. (Oh, and if someone in the know corrects me to say that some compound other than quinoline was used to approximate leather in this scent, my response will be what it was to a student in my public speaking class 18 years ago who insisted that his grade not be docked because he was NOT chewing gum--which he knew was against the rules--he was chewing his TONGUE: "It's the impression that counts.")
*raises hand* Super oily lids here, and this is my HG eyeshadow primer. I can even see the difference in photographs. Dewy, shiny, or shimmery are hex words for me, with my hooded eyelids. Eyeshadows tend to creep and blend on my oily lids, so what started as a nice light/neutral lid color and a slightly darker crease color will merge within hours into one medium-toned, drab-looking wash of color. I've never found a primer that would fix this problem, until I tried this product. Yes, it adheres like crazy; indeed, if you don't warm and blend it quickly enough, it's hard to blend. It can stick and drag. But once you've got it on, you are covered, and I mean COVERED, for the rest of the day or night. Subtle contrasts, like cream on the lid and pale taupe in the crease, are thrown into relief with Soft Ochre on as a base. I also prefer shadows instead of pencils under the eye as eyeliner, and these usually disappear almost immediately. Now I put Soft Ochre under my eyes as well, and my powder eyeliner stays put. Beautiful! I won't be without this stuff, as long as they continue to make it.
I'm giving this mascara 3 lippies to average what I'd like to rate the wand (5) and the mascara itself (1). I happen to love the brush. I think it's genius. It's like a little spherical version of the Lash Blast wand. It's easy to maneuver and does a great job of reaching the lashes in the outer corners of my eyes, the ones at the very end of the top lid, that ordinarily I have to poke clumsily with the tip of a regular brush. But the mascara itself is another story. As others have indicated, it's clumpy. I haven't had to use a lash comb in years, but I bought one after my first day wearing Telescopic Explosion. My other complaint is that the mascara doesn't seem to come in brown. Bette Davis claimed that the secret to her gorgeous eyes was BROWN mascara, and I have to agree: black mascara can make my eyes look small and mean, whereas brown makes them look larger and lusher. When you add the clumps to the jet black color of this mascara, I look like a tough, beady-eyed mall-rat girl. Not the look I was going for. Guess I'll see if I can make the wand screw on to the top of my brown Lash Blast 'scara.
This is the crease shadow I reach for when I'm wearing mauves, plums, and purples. I find it to be much more plum than brown or taupe--indeed, I'd call it a taupey plum rather than a plummy taupe/brown, as others have described it. Then again my olive skin tends to play up pinky tones. Given that it's practically purple on me, I don't think of it as a neutral, but it's still a lovely, relatively muted crease color choice for when I want some drama but don't want to go over the top.
I'd give Papua 6 lippies if I could. It's my HG pink/nude liner. Most colors with "nude" or "natural" in the name are far too warm for me; they apply looking tan, peach, or caramel. On the other hand, cool-toned light-to-medium pinks tend to look Lindsay-Lohan artificial. Papua is a truly neutral nude-pink, with enough earthiness in it to lend real definition to the lips while still pairing well with light pinks, nudes, mauves, beiges, caramels, et al., or just by itself. Lately I've been into creamy mauves, and this liner is perfect with them. It's also a match made in heaven with NARS Dolce Vita lipstick; I'm surprised they don't sell them together. Imagine a lighter, less orangey version of MAC Spice. Love the opacity and lasting power of NARS lipliners.
Fragrances -Unlisted Brand - Parfum d'Empire Osmanthus Interdite
WinterWheat 11/3/2009 6:59:00 AM
Mmmmm... succulent blend of apricot, osmanthus, rose, and green tea over a clean, airy, initially soapy musk. The "barnyard" aspect of fermented leaves is present but subtle. It doesn't bother me because it's authentic: that's how green tea smells. The musk starts off a bit too soapy for my taste, but mellows into an Egyptian-style musk after an hour or so. I like this fragrance best after about 2 hours of wear, when the dominant notes are a dry, feathery apricot/musk blend with a touch of tea; fortunately it lasts 4-5 hours on my skin and even longer on clothing fibers. Sadly, I've never smelled osmanthus in isolation so I don't know whether it's prominent in this scent, but misnamed or not, Osmanthus Interdite is very, very pretty.
Marshmallowy sweet at first, with a drydown reminiscent of Hypnotic Poison. I expected it to be a softer version of Serge Lutens' datura scent (Datura Noir) given that so many KMs are SL knockoffs, but it lacks DN's pleasant dry bitterness.
Ghastly... I'm sensitive to "soapy" notes in fragrance, and this is the soapiest amber I have ever tried. Actually feels caustic in the nose. An hour or so later it becomes more bearable, but in this case the ends don't justify the means.
I have this concealer in both Beige and Ocher. Ocher is perfect on my NC25-30 skin in the summer, whereas Beige works better the rest of the year. Ocher definitely has a yellow cast that works well with a tan, but when my light olive skin is pale, the slightly pinker and lighter tone of Beige is a better match. Many reviews here mention the product being dry, but on my oily skin I find that it functions like any other high-quality concealer--that is, it applies with a smooth, silky touch and then grows oilier with the day, eventually creasing a bit in the lines around my eyes and on my forehead. Oh well--it's easily fixed with a quick blend with a finger. It's not as opaque as I was hoping; I have a small blue vein under one of my eyes and I can still see it after applying a healthy dose of CdP concealer (either color), but the tradeoff is that the product looks quite natural and "melts" into the skin. I have some large areas of pregnancy-induced melasma, and it does a fairly good job of covering. It also lasts a long time so it's not quite as expensive as it would seem to be based on initial layout, but I still think it's overpriced.
Hold the Pose is a gorgeous bruised mauve color that would pair well in terms of color match with liners such as Clinique Beige Plum, but I like to wear it with MAC Stone liner to play up its cool earthiness. As other reviewers have noted, it's sheer and doesn't have intense color payoff, but it's exceedingly comfortable to wear and looks beautiful. I would describe it as a true neutral; the "brown" in it is actually more of a clay color, not quite grey but not orange or yellow in the least. More than anything, Hold the Pose reminds me of L'Oreal's classic color Mica, but creamier and more sophisticated, without the metallic effect. MAC Flirt and Tease and NARS Sin blushes complement it nicely. If you've wanted to wear plums but don't want anything TOO purple, try this.