I'll give a bit of background on my skin type and foundation requirements before launching in to this review. I am fair and tend to find most foundations lean too pink or too orange/yellow for my tastes, leading me to assume I am more neutral toned that I thought. I have somewhat combination skin, my cheeks are usually normal, very occasionally dry, but I suffer from a VERY oily t-zone. I used to suffer from acne and have some residual pigmentation issues around my jaw as a result. My perfect foundation would be medium coverage, extremely long lasting, matte without looking mask-like, and, of course, have a perfect colour match. I feel like I've found a lot of those qualities in NARS Sheer Matte foundation. The first thing I was impressed by was the range of colours available if you're quite pale. I was matched in store by a sales assistant who tried out the following on my jawline: Light 2 (Mont Blanc), Light 3 (Gobi) and Light 4 (Deauville). Gobi and Deauville were a bit too yellow on me, but Mont Blanc looked pretty much perfect. Although it is described as having more pink undertones, the SA felt that it is a bit more beige and fleshy than that, and I'd agree with her. Getting a good colour match is half the battle for me. For reference, the other shades in different brands I use are NC15 in MAC (although I hardly wear MAC foundations as their colours rarely work for me, sadly), 115 in MUFE HD, and Ecru in Estee Lauder Double Wear. I've been wearing this foundation for the past few days and so far I am very impressed. I will say that I read a lot of the reviews on here before purchasing and that really helped me with application. Brushes don't do this foundation any favours. As many previous reviewers have mentioned, this looks best when applied with your fingers. I dot it on in the centre of my face and gently blend outwards. If your fingers are warm, this definitely helps. It gives just the right amount of coverage and is mildly buildable, but I prefer to use concealer rather than extra foundation. It lasts at least 8 hours on me without requiring any touch ups. I wore MUFE HD regularly and LOVED how it looked, but eventually decided to switch because I was having to use blotting paper and/or powder to touch up too frequently. I then tried Estee Lauder Double Wear, which lasted amazingly and needed no touch ups, but had to find something else when I saw just how bad it looked under flash photography! Sheer Matte seems to be the perfect halfway house for me, it has staying power and when it does start to wear a bit, I look dewy rather than oily, and due to the lack of SPF and the lighter coverage it still photographs well. I do not know if it has improved my skin as it claims to do, it's still early days, but I've had no contraindications which is always good news. I always use a foundation primer with my foundations, plus I always set with a translucent powder to minimise shine. Thought to add that in as these factors no doubt also affect the wear of this foundation. The downside is the packaging. It looks very stylish, I love the frosted glass and the rubberised cap. However, the neck of the bottle is very narrow, so getting the product out is a little laborious, and the cap is already showing signs of looking a little grubby despite me trying desperately to keep it clean! A pump applicator (as they're shown with on the demo stands in store) would help matters hugely. It seems like slightly false advertising to me to demonstrate a product with a pump, but sell it without. Still, it won't stop me from repurchasing.
Moisturizers -Clinique - Superdefense SPF 25 Age Defense Moisturizer
spacedoll 4/5/2011 5:51:00 AM
I've been using SuperDefense since I was about 21, and I'm nearing 29 now. My skin is combination and acne prone, with my t-zone being particularly oily, and I use this product in the combination-oily version. I have found this moisturiser to be one of the few that doesn't create any excess oil on my face. It sinks in fairly quickly, which is a big bonus as I live in a somewhat humid/damp country and my skin often takes a while for most moisturisers to be properly absorbed. The texture is entirely non-greasy. I use this every morning after cleansing as part of my skincare regimen. What originally drew me to this product was the high SPF; I wear it year round and never need to worry about my skin. I've found it as effective in the UK and when we go to hotter climates like the south of France and California. Obviously a degree of caution is advised when you're in sunny climates and staying out of the sun at peak times is a good idea, but this stuff really does protect your skin (as long as you're not out for extended periods or sunbathing!) and seems to last at least the 2 hours suggested. Over the last couple of years I've taken to layering it with a primer (MAC's Prep & Prime in SPF 50) prior to applying my foundation, which I am sure helps! For reference I am rather fair skinned and can burn easily if I'm not careful. I am one of the fortunate people who has never had an adverse reaction to Clinique products, this moisturiser has never caused any discomfort or break outs for me. If this moisturiser has a downside I'd suggest it's that it's not super moisturising, but if your skin is as oily as mine then like me you may well consider that a bonus! I use a good cream at night if I feel my skin needs any extra moisture. I like SuperDefense because I feel it preps my skin well for make up, helps to control oil and protects my face from the elements. The only time I see myself changing to a different product is if my skin starts to dry out at all and I decide I need something richer. Regarding the pot, I'm a heathen and prefer a jar to pumps etc. I always apply with clean fingers and I like that with a jar you can get every last bit! But I can see why for some the jar isn't a perfect solution.
I will preface this review by saying that I do not generally like to wear frost finish lipsticks, and although I own a number of red lipsticks, my lipsticks of choice are almost always nudes and neutrals. So imagine my surprise when I picked up Port Red from the Naughty Nauticals 2008 release on a whim and fell in love! I think this is a fantastic red to try if you're a little nervous about taking the plunge into the world of bright red lips. Although it can be applied to have a rather vibrant, opaque finish, you can also use it more tentatively for an equally effective look. For reference, I'm a pale girl who wears MUFE HD 115/MAC NC 15 (although the latter is not perfect for me, it's just my closest MAC match). Port Red has a fabulous golden shimmer throughout which is more noticeable with a stronger application. It gives it a very unique and versatile look. It works well with a neutral eye, but I also think I'd be brave enough to try it with a soft charcoal smoky eye, too. Despite the description of it being yellow and warm, I find it pulls a little cool on me, but I like that as I often find warmer reds with strong orange tones don't quite work on me. Unfortunately it was limited edition, so finding one is becoming more and more difficult. I bought a back up as it's likely I will use more than one tube. I use this in both winter and summer despite the colour initially looking to me like more of a winter shade. It's a fabulous shade to pair with a Christmas party dress! I have to say that this is the only red shade I wear and feel truly confident in. It is long lasting and doesn't tend to bleed badly, so I don't stress about constant touch ups, and despite the finish I don't find it the least bit drying on my lips. My HG red, for certain.
This is a gorgeous polish. I have the older version with the slim brush and would love to update to the pro/wide brush, but regardless the regular brush still applies the product just fine. I saw another reviewer describe this as a deep rose colour, and I think that gives a very accurate mental picture! I am usually a red or dark colour polish kind of girl, but I make an exception for Hoodoo Voodoo. The colour really suits my skin tone (MUFE HD 115 or close to MAC NC15). It's a colour that has very positive associations for me, it's bright and playful but somehow still very ladylike. I find that in my bottle the consistency is a little watery. I don't know if that is due to the age of the product or is just how this product is, but it actually means I get an amazing streak free finish. I use two coats nd get a perfectly opaque, creamy finish. This polish has no shimmer or glitter whatsoever, it just goes on with a slick patent finish. Definitely recommended, and I would absolutely repurchase when this bottle is gone!
This is, without question, the worst mascara I have ever tried. I would go so far as to say it is the worst make up product I have tried, period. We were away for a weekend and I managed to forget my regular mascara, so I stopped off at a small branch of Boots where there weren't too many make up choices apart from a No7 counter. I asked the sales assistant for advice and she recommended this mascara. For reference, my lashes are long but fine and I need volume from a mascara. I wasn't sure about the brush, but she assured me it was amazing. I tried it that day and thought it was awful. Because the brush is just basically a piece of rubber with about eight square shaped sections on it, instead of individually coating lashes like a brush would, it simply clumps your lashes together so you look like you have about six really fat eyelashes. I tried it the following day wiping of as much excess product as possible (very wasteful) and the effect was somewhat reduced but still unattractive. Basically the problem is that the brush is not designed to properly coat individual lashes, so instead of receiving full, volumised and separated lashes, you just get block deposits of product. It also takes an age to dry which is hugely impractical. Undeterred, I set about reading reviews about how to apply it online (all the while thinking how ridiculous that was, to need instructions about how to use a mascara because it's *that* bad). I tried different methods and also used a lash comb after each use to try and get a semi-reasonable look. The only think I didn't do was try it with a different mascara wand--several people have mentioned that the wand is at fault, not to actual mascara itself, which I am inclined to agree with. The wand is awful. After a week or so of failed attempts (hey, at least I tried) I took it back to my local Boots store. It's the first make up product I have ever returned due to poor performance. I told the sales assistant there of my experience, and not only was she was completely unsurprised, she admitted that they had had numerous returns for this item. I notice on the Boots website it has 2 out of 5 stars from customer reviews, so I wonder how long it will last.
Makeup Brushes -MAC - #275 Medium Angled Shading Brush
spacedoll 8/10/2010 6:40:00 AM
I feel like I owe this brush an apology. When I first got it I tried it once or twice but all my attempts failed rather spectacularly, so I left it in my brush bag unused for some time. I eventually pulled it out again and decided to have another go, and I'm so glad I did. I use this mainly as a crease brush, although I'm sure it's great for other uses, too. At the moment I'm going through a phase of using a lot of matt colours, and I'm really liking the look of a strong, defined crease. The bristles on this brush are super soft but firm, and it's perfect for working into the crease (or creating a slightly higher crease, in my case) and blending. My eyes are fairly small and somewhat deep set which I think is why I originally struggled with this brush, and my only suggestion to MAC would be that I would LOVE to see an almost identical brush made by them that is just fractionally smaller. As it is I can definitely work with this brush and I think it would be great for most people, but if you have smaller eyes and not a lot of lid space it takes a bit more practice. Regardless, I love this brush and intend to purchase a back up. Quality wise it's at the upper end for MAC brushes, I have yet to notice it shed and it is used and washed regularly.
It's interesting how divided the reviews are on this brush, and I can definitely understand why it doesn't work for some people. That said, it works brilliantly for me! First of all, yes, it is small and may not be useful to everyone. I have fairly small eyes and I find that some brushes are just a bit too big if I need to do delicate crease work or blending. The fibres on this brush are incredibly soft and feel very gentle against the skin, but the drawback to this is that there isn't a lot of stiffness to it. The best aspect of this brush is its versatility. I always take it with me when I travel because it has so many uses. It is great for highlighting the brow bone, and adding a sheer wash of colour to the entire eyelid. You will have to work harder if you want to really pack the colour on and want a finish like you might achieve with a 239 or similar, but if you just want a subtle wash it's perfect for that as it will rarely, if ever, deposit too much colour. I also like it for blending out the edges when my shadow is almost finished but just needs that extra finesse. Finally, I tend to use this brush for deepening my crease colour or outer v as it's small enough for me to be fairly elaborate with. In terms of quality, I've had this brush for years and it hasn't shed a hair so far. Overall I do think that this brush is somewhat underrated, but I can understand people's apprehension to it. It was one of the first MAC brushes I bought so I think I was very keen to use it and figure it out, and as a result I've found out how to use it best for my needs and I love it. If you find that some brushes just seem too big for your eyes and you want something that works well for multiple different uses, I feel you could do a lot worse than start with this brush. However, if you already have separate brushes for packing on colour, blending and doing creasework then this might be redundant in your collection!
This is one of the first MAC brushes I purchased. I picked it up as I needed a decent sized brush that would be suitable for applying powder to set my foundation, and this brush is perfect for the job. Regarding the complaint about the bristles being scratchy, I highly agree with the lady who reviewed this brush just before me--after washing this brush feels beautifully soft, but if you start to let product build up on it then it does quickly stiffen and feels less gentle on the skin. I wash mine after almost every use so this isn't an issue for me now, but if you're looking for a big powder brush that's slightly lower maintenance and retains softness even with a bit of product build up, you may wish to try a different brand. That said, I love my 150 and it's a daily staple for me. To set my foundation I use a loose translucent powder and this brush makes the application very fast and painless due to the size of the brush and the density of the bristles being just right. This brush hardly sheds at all, perhaps one or two fibres per week. It has been used solidly for about six years and is still going strong despite daily use and frequent washing. I took a lipstick mainly because the silver lettering on MAC brushes wears off so quickly, and this brush was worse for that than most! It was only a couple of years ago that I figured out that using clear nail varnish over the lettering would help maintain it (I know, it took me long enough!) I have done so to my backup 150 and all subsequent MAC brush purchases.
I bought this brush on a recommendation from a MAC sales assistant. I was looking for a good contouring brush and she suggested I go with this one. I tried it for contouring but ended up a little disappointed as it just didn't seem to work for me, I by far prefer the 165 for my cheekbones (it's more tapered than the 109) and the 162 for smaller areas like the sides of the nose (the 162 is firmer and smaller). I ended up trying the 109 for my foundation after reading a few mentions about it here on MUA, and I really like it for this purpose. I currently use MUFE HD and I apply it to my face using my fingers, then stipple and buff in a circular motion with the 109. It gives an almost streak free finish--some areas I need to work back into again a bit but overall the effect is pretty good. I sometimes use the brush slightly damp for a more sheer, dewy finish, but on most days I prefer a fairly matt, full coverage look and the brush works dry just as well. The bristles are really soft, perhaps not the softest available but still very gentle on the skin. Because I suffer from mild acne I wash my face brushes very regularly. Brushes that I use liquid or cream products with I wash daily, and the 109 is no exception. This seems to keep the bristles soft and minimises shedding. This brush does shed a bit--on most days it loses one or two fibres. It's not too bad compared to some other brushes, though! I also have another 109 that I use for highlighting, the fibres are soft and dense enough that it's great for buffing MSFs into your cheekbones. This brush is pretty versatile, it's not perfect but I think it makes a pretty solid addition to a brush collection. It has been well worth the price for me as I use it daily.
I've been searching for the perfect peach blush for a long time, and I think I may have found it in this product. Lover really is a beautiful colour, it's a true apricot peach that would work for a variety of skin tones because it's neither too orange nor too pink. I do advise exercising caution the first time you use it, especially if you're fair, as it's so highly pigmented that it can be easy to overdo it if you've been used to blushes that are more sheer and have less impressive colour payoff. I'm fair myself, a neutral toned MUFE HD 115, and this works really well on me, it gives me a lovely Summer glow. This blush is quite strongly scented when in the pot, which personally I quite like, but I can imagine the fairly sweet vanilla fragrance will not suit everyone. However, the smell dissipates as you apply it. I generally use either a 187 or a 188 to apply this, recently I've been opting for the 188 for a bit more control. This blush is so pigmented that it does have a mild tendency to stain the white sections of duo fibre brushes, so I do recommend washing your brush soon after use if using a similar brush. Because of the high level of pigmentation I can see this blush lasting a a very long time, so although I've selected that I would repurchase, chances are I won't need to for a while! My main gripe about this blush applies to the rest of Illamasqua's line. The packaging just doesn't feel solid when in your hand, I would worry about putting this in my handbag. The clasp is a little awkward, as others have mentioned you have to open it with a fingernail and the clasp is where the "Illamasqua" brand is stamped, and I have a feeling that with repeated use that might wear away. Overall the plastic feels quite fragile; I found this to be true of their lipsticks as well. However, that aside this product still gets a 5. It's a fantastic blush and I highly recommend it if you're still on the hunt for the perfect, non shimmer peach blush. I like it by itself as I tend to like a non shimmery look, but I also love it with a stroke of Lightscapade or Refined MSF along the cheek bones for further enhancement.
Mascara -Make Up For Ever - Smoky Lash Extra Black Mascara
spacedoll 3/2/2010 6:09:00 AM
This is my current mascara of choice. It is pretty expensive (here in the UK it retails for about a whopping £17.50) and the packaging is only startling in how ordinary it is, so it'd be easy to pass this one by without a second look. I have long, fine straight lashes, so generally what I look for in a mascara is volume, as I can curl my lashes myself and find curling mascaras to be fairly useless. According to the box, this mascara provides "volume, length and curl." One of the main issues I have with mascaras is that I have pretty deep set eyes (not that I look anything like her, I wish, but Selma Blair is the best example I can think of to best describe the issue I have), so when my lashes are curled and then mascara is applied to lengthen them, my top lashes brush against the space between my crease and my brow and the majority of mascaras smudge there after a few hours of wear. I also find that on occasion my lower lashes will cause smudging below the eye, too. Does anyone else have this problem? Anyway, I had given up on regular volumising formulas as I'd had such bad luck with things like Diorshow and Benefit's Bad Gal, which both gave me great looking lashes initially, but caused smudging within the first hour or two of wear. I'd been using Clinique's High Impact Curling mascara, which although prevented the smudge problem, meant my lashes looked fairly pitiful as the formula just doesn't volumise in the same way (I had the same issue with the now discontinued Unstoppable Smudge Proof mascara by Maybelline... no smudges, but puny lashes as the compromise). I tried Smoky Lash from MUFE in with the "Best of..." kit I picked up and was hugely surprised. This stuff gives great volume and length, but miraculously hardly smudges at all, if it does it's usually after many, many hours. This was a real revelation for me. I have since repurchased it. The formula really suits my lashes, so if you have fine lashes and want good volume with minimal smudge, give this a try. I usually find it applies just fine straight from the wand, but I do occasionally use an eyelash comb if I want a really flawless look and need to separate the lashes.
Modesty is my go-to lip colour for just about any look. It has been a staple of mine for a long time, I briefly thought I liked Faux better, but as much as I love it, Modesty just beats it because the cremesheen finish really makes this colour pop when on. I'm fairly neutral toned and pale (NC15-ish/MUFE HD 115), with grey eyes and dark hair and this colour works really well for me. It is a very wearable pink that has both beige and mauve undertones. It's a strong and pretty enough colour that if your eye make up is light, the lips are the focus, but it's innocuous enough to be worn with a really striking smoky eye. I always apply mine straight from the tube and am on my second one, and so far I've had no issues with the texture causing the stick to break or get squashed. To me this colour is very similar to the satin finish Faux, but ever so slightly lighter and brighter, and has the tiniest trace of golden shimmer. I think it has a more modern look than Faux for these reasons. I suppose the only very minor issue I have with this product is that cremesheen finishes don't last long on me, but I'm a habitual lipstick reapplier so it's not a problem for me. Goes perfectly with the fabulously creamy Kryolan 125 lip liner, which I also love.
Foundations -Make Up For Ever - HD High Definition Foundation
spacedoll 2/8/2010 8:42:00 PM
The first HUGE plus I have to give to this foundation is the wide variety of shades it comes in, as I am someone who has struggled all her life to find a good colour match. As much as I love a lot of MAC products, I've long since been disillusioned by their foundations as almost all of their shades are either too pink or too orange for my skin, and even their lightest shades can be too dark for me. I'm *roughly* an NC15 in MAC, but that's very approximate. I originally tried MUFE HD foundation in shade 110 and it was too pink and too pale (the latter was a revelation for me, it's rare foundations are too light for my skin). I then went for 115, which is a little darker and more neutral, and it is PERFECT. I think a light shone down from heaven and a hallelujah chorus started up when I put this on ;) This is definitely a light to medium coverage foundation. It can be built up for more coverage if required, but I prefer to team it with a good concealer for covering some scars and redness. I always moisturise and use a primer before applying foundation, and I find this foundation blends well, although you do need watch for occasional streaks. I set it with a fairly liberal dusting of MUFE's HD Powder and it lasts all day with minimal blotting (I suffer from a pretty oily t-zone) and photographs really well! The latter is important to me as unfortunately I tend to get caught in photographs a lot due to work, so if you're looking for something that works well for the camera, this product may well be it!
Highlighters -MAC - Mineralize Skinfinish in Perfect Topping [DISCONTINUED]
spacedoll 2/8/2010 7:58:00 PM
I own a few MSFs, but Perfect Topping remains one of my favourites. First, and perhaps most importantly, the texture is excellent. It's one of the least gritty MSFs I think MAC have produced, so you can rest easy in the knowledge that you won't end up covered in glitter! Of course, I also adore the colour. Mine has a bit more lavender veining than most, which I'm really happy with. It gives me a golden apricot, sun-kissed glow and people often comment on my skin looking really healthy and radiant when I wear it. I'm pretty pale, roughly an NC15 (I currently wear MUFE HD 115 for reference), and I can apply this without worrying about it looking over the top. I tend to only use it on my cheeks or cheekbones, and I usually layer it over a blush like Cubic, which is a muted, dusty pink. I have a fairly oily t-zone, so I don't tend to apply any type of shimmer to chin or nose. I've used it on people with darker and warmer skintones than mine and it looks fabulous on them, too, although the effect is a little more subtle. If you can't tell, I love this stuff!
This is a lovely rich plum shade with definite hints of rose and brown. For some reason I was expecting it to be a deeper pink from looking at photos of it, but in reality it's quite a bit darker than I had anticipated (I often find this happens, flash photography often lightens things, I should be prepared). It's a satin finish and usually I don't have many problems with lipsticks being too drying, but this particularl formula is quite drying on me and settles in the little lines on my lips unless I am careful about application. It goes on very opaque which can be a good thing, but if you're looking for a softer look I recommend applying with a brush and pairing it with some gloss, rather than applying it directly from the tube (my method of choice!) I'm about an NC15-NC20 and this definitely suits my skin tone, as a lot of other MAC mauve based shades seem to. However, as I tend to favour a more neutral lip on a daily basis, if I wear anything darker I am usually met with an expression of horror from my other half! If you're pale and wear dark lips as a matter of course this will seem quite tame to you. I personally think it's very wearable, skintone willing, and on darker skins I can imagine it has quite a natural stained effect and has great potential as an every day colour.