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Oct 11, 2014

OCC Lip Tar in Memento and Stalker

Job hunting is hard. I’m choosing to see it as character-building for now, but man, I don’t think I’m too far off the “soul-destroying” stage. Perhaps it’s unsurprising, then, that I’m regressing to childhood and slathering what basically amounts to paint on my lips.

The OCC Lip Tars are high-pigment, lightweight liquid lipsticks that dry down to a satin finish. Lucy and the Powder Room had a selection on sale for half off a year or so ago, where I picked up dusty rose Memento and bright, blue-based red Stalker. 

I find Memento to be quite thin — definitely thinner than Stalker — and it has a tendency to slip into my lip lines, emphasising any flaky bits. 

Stalker is very similar in colour to MAC’s Ruby Woo. You’ll probably want to use a lip liner with this one, though — particularly if you’re a bit cack-handed like me. (I used fingers for all of these shots, which was probably a bad idea, but I don’t have a lip brush and didn’t particularly want to gunk up my eyeliner brushes with this stuff. Plus they were dirty.)

I can see the potential for these, particularly if you’re a makeup artist. The shot above shows a mixture of roughly 2/3 Memento and 1/3 Stalker. You could probably even use these as blush if you mixed it with moisturiser. I don’t know if these particular colours are eye-safe, but I know that OCC also do their Lip Tars in colours like blue and black, so you could potentially make up a whole face using them. 

It’s a hassle, though. They’re not particularly long-wearing, although Stalker leaves a bit of a stain, and would probably last really well over the top of lip liner, or under a strongly-pigmented gloss. You could apply them using your fingers like I did, but lip brushes are probably a better idea. In that case, what if you need to touch up when you’re out and about? Maybe a little too high maintenance for me, but it’s still fun to play with them.

Oct 1, 2014

Lazy skincare: the ABCs

You would think that with me being unemployed (I prefer funemployed) and working on my dissertation, I would have gads of time to write for the blog. No, I’ve been too busy eating and drinking my way around London (and, briefly, Brighton and Bristol). I’ve seen Russell Brand, Catherine Tate, and Stephen Merchant, and I’ve been job-hunting (which: soul-destroying).

Since I’ve been in London, my skin seems to have gone from oily and acne-prone to normal-combination and slightly acne-prone. I don’t know whether it’s the hard water, the lower humidity, normal ageing or just, you know, hormones, but I like it. My hair’s been loving it too, but more on that another day.

Despite my constant wittering on about “active ingredients” this, “scientifically-validated” that, my skincare routine… isn’t much of a routine. Basically, I cleanse (currently with the Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish — love), wipe off with a muslin cloth, and pick one thing from an array of serums and light moisturisers. 

The As:

  • Differin 0.1% cream. This is a formulation of adapelene, from drug giant Galderma. Adapalene is a retinoid (see my post about them here), and is only available with a prescription. The neat thing about that is that it’s funded, which means that in New Zealand you can get it for $5! That’s, what, a tenth of what you’d pay for less active formulations from brands like Environ, ROC, and the like. You do have to be careful with this if you have dry skin, however. I found that it works best for me when used every 2-3 days; any more and I get really bad flakiness.
  • Environ Intensive Alpha Hydroxy Gel. This stuff will make your skin soft, plump, and smooth. It’s brilliant when you’re looking grey and haggard after a night out, or when your skin is a bit congested, and works perfectly for when I’ve overdone it with the Differin. I also like that this has a short ingredients list: water (the solvent), glycolic acid (an AHA, or alpha hydroxy acid), glycerin (a humectant, which helps moisturise), hydroxyethylcellulose* (thickener), lactic acid (AHA), and ammonium hydroxide (an antimicrobial). 
  • Plantae Supercritical Rosehip Fruit + Seed Regenerative Facial Serum. This isn’t just your normal rosehip oil — it’s supercritical. Luckily, that doesn’t mean it yells “stop looking so old” at you while you’re looking in the mirror; it just means that the oil has been extracted with CO2 as opposed to cold-pressed. For an oil like rosehip, this is critical (HAH) because its high antioxidant content means that it’s prone to degradation from heat and oxygen, which is present during cold-pressing. 

The B:

  • Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid. Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid used in skincare, and it’s fantastic for exfoliating your skin. Unlike AHAs, which primarily slough off the surface layer of dead skin, salicylic acid is oil-soluble, and it acts down in your pores to get rid of excess sebum — ideal if you’re oily and acne-prone. It’s also a good anti-inflammatory, so helps get rid of redness from sore, active pimples. 

    I find this to be quite oily going on, but that greasy feeling goes away after about half an hour or so. It’s one of those things that has an overnight effect; the next day my face seems to be more even in tone, and my pores are less obvious.

In terms of the Cs, I don’t currently have any full sized products in rotation. These are the samples I’ve got lined up:

  • Kiehl’s Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate. This is a thick white gel which contains 10.5% Vitamin C. There’s also silicone in it, enough so that I don’t put anything else on top because I find it moisturising enough. I’m just starting the second sample of it, and haven’t really formed an opinion on it yet. Hopefully the packaging of the full-sized product is designed to protect the light-sensitive ingredients.
  • Philosophy Time in a Bottle. I was wandering through Debenhams and the philosophy salesperson practically threw this at me. I haven’t tried it yet, but judging from the ingredients list it’s your typical silicone-based serum with a whole bunch of antioxidants (including vitamin C) and plant extracts packed in.

I haven’t ventured much into vitamin C products. Any recommendations for me?

*Hydroxyethylcellulose is the main ingredient in KY Jelly.

Jul 25, 2014

L’Artisan Parfumeur Explosions d’Emotion

I attended the launch of the L’Artisan Parfumeur Explosions d’Emotions series at Tessuti a few months ago, and this post has been percolating in my brain ever since. Why has it taken so long?

Writing about fragrance is challenging. There’s no colour or texture, which means no swatching or demonstrating it on myself. As much as I like to throw around words like “sillage”, “accord”, and “animalic”, I suspect I still do a pretty poor job of actually describing a perfume. 

But hey, why not talk about $332 (NZD) perfumes anyway!

Bertrand Duchaufour is the nose behind the Explosions d’Emotions series of fragrances. The idea behind them is that they document the different stages of a relationship, from the initial excitement, to carnal knowledge, to (maybe) post-coital bliss. The collection started off with Deliria, Skin on Skin, and Amour Nocturne, which launched at Tessuti in May.

I’m really glad I went along to the evening, because I learned a lot about the brand, and about fragrance in general, from Nick and Natalie (I think) of Libertine Parfumerie/Agence de Parfums. I ordered sample vials from Luckyscent because I was intrigued by these, and wanted to do as thorough a writeup as I could.

Deliria is an odd beast, and the one I find most interesting. It includes rum, toffee apple, and candy floss — all warmth and sweetness, except for a metallic note in there, making it quite a contradiction. We were told that the idea behind it was a trip to a fun fair, capturing the dizzying mix of rollercoasters and food stalls. It has good longevity on me — I still smell it after twelve hours or so, although it does wear closely on the skin as time goes on.

Amour Nocturne (cedar, milk accord, caramel, gun powder, orchid) opened really sourly for me, and almost scared me off. It soon mellows down to a warm, powdery, food-y scent, though, and feels to me like a progression from Deliria. I don’t catch any of the gun powder until the very end, and, rather than being a harsh note, I’d liken it to adding a bit of pepper to macerated strawberries, if that makes sense. It fades quite quickly on me, within a couple of hours.

Skin on Skin (suede, saffron, whisky, lavender, rose, iris, musks, skin effects) is probably the most wearable for me out of the three. At first sniff I get the florals, along with a whiff of what smells to me like pineapple, but the fruity, almost plastic quality quickly goes away, leaving the flowers to mingle with the powdery leather notes.

Are these worth the $330? Let’s face it: when it comes to cosmetics, there is generally a huge disparity between how much the actual product costs to produce and how much it costs the consumer. Sure, eyeshadows from a mid-range brand like Urban Decay may have better pigments, less filler, and superior manufacturing processes when compared to something from ELF, but the difference in production costs is negligible by the time it gets to the consumer — in the order of dollars, if not cents.

At the launch, Nick told a story about meeting the person behind the design and marketing of a certain designer perfume (the name of which rhymes with blot) who boasted of getting the flask and collateral down to something like $1 a bottle. I also came across this article which breaks down the price of an average bottle of department store perfume into percentages of how much everything costs, including overheads, marketing, package design, and profit. How much of that is the actual juice? Two per cent. 

So what makes me buy into a particular perfume, beyond personal taste and budget? I would say the artistry that goes into the concoction, as time goes on and I learn more about the stuff. Most commercially available perfumes are made by just a handful of perfume conglomerates, and while I have a pretty average nose, I can appreciate that the more niche producers — L’Artisan Parfumeur, Byredo, Serge Lutens and the like — are more likely to design perfumes that evoke certain concepts beyond the average inoffensive floral or fruity gourmand that is so rife at the department store counter. They also don’t spend squillions on celebrity endorsements or magazine campaigns.

This is perfume as art foremost, consumer product second.

Of course, that’s not to say that all the perfumes at Farmers aren’t worth what you pay for them. I have more than my fair share of those in my “fragrance wardrobe”, and most would argue that fragrance is such a personal thing anyway, so who cares who made them or what goes in them. If you love it, who’s to judge?

Tessuti now also stock the second half of the series: Haute Voltige, Onde Sensuelle, and Rappelle-Toi, none of which I’ve tried yet. Funnily enough, these are selling for $282, so I’m guessing the exchange rate took a dive when they launched. I’m looking forward to seeing how L’Artisan Parfumeur have continued the love story.

Jul 18, 2014

Champagne taste, beer budget #3: Chichi Nudes Palette

I’ve always been curious about the Urban Decay Naked palettes. The texture! The pigmentation! Much buttery, so colour! I haven’t been curious enough to shell out for them, though, especially since UD aren’t sold in NZ, so I’d have to buy online and use Youshop or similar.

Luckily for me, I’d come across various blog posts about the Chichi Glam Eyes Nudes Palette being a dupe for Naked 1.

I don’t own the Naked 1 Palette, so can only judge the Chichi on its own merits. I’d always turned up my nose at Chichi as a brand due to the cheap looking packaging and branding, but have read and seen enough over the past year or so to realise that a lot of their products are really great — not to mention affordable.

The palette contains a mix of matte and shimmery shades. Some of the shades are slightly powdery, particularly the mattes, but not enough to write the palette off. The shimmery shades are smooth and buttery — the lighter ones in the left half of the palette are great for an inner corner or brow bone highlight, or pressed onto the centre of the lid, while the darker shades are useful for smoking things out or adding a little emphasis to the outer corners. It’s been a couple of months since I got the palette and took these photos, and I’ve experienced no fall out while using the shimmers.

I would say the left half of the palette leans neutral-to-warm, while the right half leans neutral-to-cool. I’ve swatched it below, with the Art Deco Eyeshadow Base under the top row of swatches. The primer definitely brings out the shimmer, but not as much as my photo would suggest — I think it’s just the angle of the light (my bad).

I’m kind of an eyeshadow novice, but here are some ways of how I like to use the various shades in the palette:

  • #2 for an inner corner and brow bone highlight
  • #3 and #5 for blending things out
  • #4 and #7 for a bit of an all-over wash
  • #9 as a smoky liner

Here’s a really basic look — I told you I was an eyeshadow dunce! I used #5 all over the lid, #9 on the outer third, and #4 on the inner third, then #3 to blend things out.

The Chichi Glamorous Eye palettes, including the Nudes, retail for $31.49 at Farmers here in NZ. It’s also available online for $22.95 AUD. Right now Farmers are doing 3 for 2 on Chichi products too, so get in there — I can totally recommend their Lip Stains and single baked eyeshadows.

Jun 25, 2014

Are we Instagram friends?

I feel like most makeup enthusiasts are probably visual junkies. No surprise, then, that Instagram is one of my favourite things on the internet. I’m probably friends with a lot of you on it already, but in case we’re not, you can find me @brushandbullet

Fair warning:  I take pictures of a lot of random crap.

Jun 16, 2014 / 1 note
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