Sunday, 31 October 2010

Recent Ins and Outs

I feel like I've not had time to breathe recently - Kiwi's not had to go in to work due to it being half-term, so he's off enjoying a nice holiday like the rest of his kiddies... This leads to constant 'what are you going to feed me today?' whines and big, sad bottom lips when I tell him it's something low-fat with no actual food content.

I miss my old hair - can haz haircut? Internets, tell me the answer!

I've not actually been able to walk properly most of this week. I decided to do the operation: lose the blubber again, and as a result have been hula-hooping and Shredding with the Supreme Evil Overlord Jillian Michaels. I try to exercise in the morning so she gets the brunt of my rage and my soul feels cleansed... Anyway, I overdid it a lot somewhat and could only walk at a snail's pace - and a robotic snail at that, which prompted Kiwi to keep hustling me to 'HURRY UUUUUP!' I never want to get old - because overdoing it on a workout made me feel like I was trapped in a lead suit, and I imagine that's how the older and wiser feel!

So, anyway - enough of the pointless rambling. Here's a little Sunday afternoon Ins and Outs for you, to show you what I've been enjoying, what I haven't, and er... what I'm on the fence about!

- Hula-hooping: This is genuinely my most favourite form of exercise apart from dance, mainly because it involves dance, and singing and jiggling around like an absolute prat to all of my favourite tunes. Yesterday I did the Time Warp whilst maintaining perfect airspeed velocity rotation speed - and the best thing was that Kiwi didn't even raise an eyebrow and retained complete composure at the sight of me shaking my booty-thang in my delightful sportswear.
- Statement lips: MAC's Toxic Tale, Lustering and Violetta, NARS Red Lizard, vampy shades and anything else which nears the day-glo paradox is my thing right now. It's low-key showing off one's plumage without too much commitment.
- Ebony/chocolate hair: I fell out of the phase of dying my hair black with a violet undertone and went for something a little more grown-up: I dyed it a beautiful deep-brown (the deepest, darkest one before you hit black) and it looks beautifully shiny, glossy and in keeping with the season.
- Inglot: I LOVE YOU, INGLOT! Your buttery shadows seduce me and your blushes and your lipsticks and and and... This is a not-so covert attempt to get them to GET THEIR SHOP ONLINE DAMNIT.

- Bourjois Bio-Detox Foundation: I'm still not sure. I think it's the colour being too yellow-toned - some days I can pull it off, and some days it makes me look like an extra from The Simpsons, which is NOT cool. It wears well and has a matte finish, but a peculiar smell. Hmm... This is a head-scratcher of an enigma.

- MAC: Again, MAC are on my naughty step, because of the absolute atrocities committed with their newest collection. I felt like I needed eye bleach the first time I saw the packaging, and the products look absolutely terrible. Thank you so much for releasing a crap collection, MAC, because now I actually save some money for something useful... like that eye bleach.
- Long hair: I had a comment on my YouTube channel on a very old video way back when I had awesome short hair. I miss it; long hair makes me feel more 'classic' and I can wear less makeup, but short hair makes me feel spunky and more interesting. I'm so bored of trying to grow my hair - can I cut it all off yet?

And Happy Halloween! I don't 'do' Halloween - but I did do a video tutorial of the neatened-up and straightened-out deer look I posted last week!

Sunday, 24 October 2010

FOTD #6: A fairy tale in miniature

Once upon a time there was a girl who already had found her prince, but still wanted to go to the ball anyway; she was prone to such flights of whimsy. She already had the dress, and the pumpkin coach was ready and waiting, yoked to six stamping horses in shining bridles. The perfect lipstick, however, was yet to be had.

Hopefully, and one might add, somewhat belatedly, she placed an order at MAC Cosmetics online, having located that one shade to make her eyes sparkle and her smile more talkative.

As with all fairy tales, there's a always a point at which something starts to go wrong. For Sleeping Beauty, it was that innocuous-seeming spindle. For Snow White, it was the apple (and perhaps, we could argue, greed to eat said apple). This girl's problem - or should we say venomous villain - came in the form of an email and the words 'Out of Stock'.

Thankfully, a solution came in the form of a Liverpudlian Fairy Godmother - because every good fairy tale has one. She said 'Ey up, chuck?' and waved her magic wand... And then there it was, the lipstick to complete the girl's outfit from a lovely Northern benefactor.

So the girl went to the ball and had a super time, yadda yadda, and all that stuff about happy endings, but what we're all dying to know is not the prince's shoe size and precisely how many types of vol-au-vent there were, but the name of the lipstick.

It's Toxic Tale and I've forced it to suit me - I almost feel like it makes my eyes shine more green - and it definitely makes my pout shout-out-loud bright. I love it, officially and truly. I guess stubbornly never listening to anyone's recommendations of what cosmetic colour palette I should sport is paying off - because if I had, I definitely wouldn't be wearing this.

The official facial expression for the phrase 'hmm...'

Staring off into the middle distance is in vogue right now.

Products used:

- Bourjois Bio-Detox Foundation
- NARS Blush in Orgasm
- Dior Amber Diamond

- Urban Decay Liquid Liner in Perversion
- Eyeko Big Eyes Mascara
- MAC Greasepaint Stick in French Quarter

- MAC Lipstick in Toxic Tale

Happy Sunday to all of you - mine has been spent eating cake with custard and drinking tea. Nom...

Friday, 22 October 2010

Doe, a deer...

Today I found one of those perfect ways to while away a Friday afternoon after a stressful morning (ha!) trawling London for the perfect products: face-painting!

I've been thinking about this look for Halloween for a while now - and today I finally took the plunge and... painted about half of my face brown. I saw the idea such a long time ago on another blog, and tweaked it around until it suited me - and I plan to do some more tweaking later!

It took me a while to adjust; I looked like I'd been left out in the sun too long, just like the marvellous David Dickinson who permanently seems to live his life in sepia. And, after about 10 baby wipes and thrashing out the details - which still require a little more thrashing - and the donning of some purple antlers (surprisingly hard to find even though we're edging nearer to the C-word (not THAT c-word!) )... I became a deer.

Insert terrible Photobooth candid here.

It's far from perfect - it looks a little ganguro girl chic as the brown face paint was too orangey - and the white looks too stark... But I'm enjoying my current costumey status.

What's your chosen Halloween transformation?

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Flash Review: Sigma Flat Top Synthetic Kabuki

Also known by its alter-ego code-name the 197, the Sigma Flat Top Synthetic Kabuki is perhaps the jewel in Sigma's admittedly lacklustre and precariously-placed crown. I'm not a huge fan of Sigma's products - an opinion, I'm ashamed to say, formed mainly through hearsay - but when there are so many overwhelmingly bad reviews by the more discerning makeup addicts out there regarding Sigma's less-than-exacting attitude towards quality control, I can't honestly say it's a company where I'd like to spend my money (phew, long sentence!)

However, the Flat Top Synthetic Kabuki is definitely one of their products which bucks the overall negative trend and is easily my first port of call for swift no-effort foundation blending. It's worth the $16 price tag, but I couldn't say I'd pay any more for it unless Sigma seriously up their game and attention to detail. Here's an easy-to-swallow flash review in your 5-a-day-sized portion.

Image borrowed from Google.

1. Quality control: Sadly, the first thing I noticed about this whilst unpacking it was the lack of attention to detail - there were bristles of different lengths sticking out and I had to trim the brush myself. The brush felt rushed and unfinished and there was a definite lack of care in the manufacture.
2. Tap, Twist, Snap: Despite my grumbles, this brush truly does make makeup application a snap and my foundation is always perfectly blended in seconds due to the dense bristles and long handle, which is perfectly ergonomically-designed.
3. Get a handle on this: Speaking of handles, the long handle on this brush makes it a perfect candidate for applying foundation as it offers just the right amount of manual control, and is therefore easier to use than a traditional short-handled kabuki. The handle feels sturdy, is well-glued into place and fits the contours of my tiny mitts nicely.
4. The soft parade: While I wouldn't say this is the softest brush to grace my face, it is still sift and the bristles have just the right amount of give either way without being harsh on my skin.
5. Don't shed a tear: Despite my initial gripe about the shoddy workmanship of this brush, no bristles have actually been shed, nor has any dye run. Given that even my MAC brushes have shed (don't even talk to me about the 187), I was impressed despite my negative first impression.

The Conclusion:
This brush is both an excellent starting and ending point for the Sigma brush range if you'd like to see the very best of their capabilities. Although the bristles stained indelibly from the first use, it's a great everyday staple which doesn't set you back a fortune.

What do you think about Sigma brushes? Have you tried the Flat Top Synthetic Kabuki?

Much love x

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Review: MAC Pro Longwear Concealer

This week has been an excellent week to review a concealer; my usually amenable skin is suffering from a series of glitches, technical errors and Error 404: Page Not Found. In other words, I'm currently suffocating in the midst of a nasty acne outbreak and it hurts to move my chin.

So yes, this week, in essence, is the perfect time to review a concealer and to test it to its limits. The concealer in question is MAC's latest offering: the Pro Longwear concealer, littlest sister to the foundation of the name name. Same name, same claim, same... performance? Well, we'll see...

Image borrowed from Google - I forgot to take my own!

THE PACKAGING is the most disappointing aspect of this whole product and I keep trying to rationalise MAC's use of it until I'm blue in the face; it's quite possibly the most ill-advised packaging I've ever had to use. Using it on a day-by-day basis is a constant frustration - I very rarely get just the right amount and end up distributing the rest pointlessly over my other less pockmarked areas of my face. I saw a comment on a blog regarding this problem: simply pump it into a sample jar and save the unused amount for later. It's a practical suggestion, but I still feel bitchy about it - why, indeed, should I have to resort to such measures because of MAC's failing? At this high-end price, I feel justifiably miffed.

THE TEXTURE is fairly liquid but it has a soft, creamy feel. It certainly doesn't have the sticky feel of its matching foundation. It sets as quickly as its counterpart product, however, so swift blending is an absolute must and the prospects of building this up are slim: it cakes, and cakes badly if you don't move quickly.

COVERAGE is good and pigmented for under-eye circles, but mine aren't usually too prominent. I am satisfied with the coverage, however, but others with more prominent under-eye circles may not. On blemishes, I have to admit, I'm not sold. Although this is not marketed as an all-purpose concealer, I was curious to see its performance in other areas. I'll be blunt: it was poor. It was too liquid to conceal effectively and it caked upon subsequent layers - and then to add insult to injury, it oxidised. It just wasn't working on that front - but I can't judge it too harshly; it's definitely not its true calling.

500 B.C. (Before Concealer).

500 A.D. (After Disguisement).

Although at first, I applied this with a fluffy brush, I encountered two problems. The first was that the concealer was setting before I could blend it as I pleased around the eye area, and the second was that I could barely cleanse it from the brush without resorting to oil to break down the product. As it stands now, I prefer to blend this using my fingers, as their warmth gives me the tiniest extra snippet of time with which I can blend it perfectly before it sets for the next 15 hours.

THE FINISH matches that of the foundation - it's a matte finish without being too dry or mask-like. For oily skins, this type of finish is going to work well, but for those who have drier skins, this will grab to drier areas unless you have an excellent eye cream at your disposal.

WEAR, however, is where this concealer does at least fulfil its briefs: it wears for the promised 15 hour period without budging or creasing, and even in hotter, sweatier climes like the infinite delights of the cavernous London tube. It's such a shame, really, that this is one of the only positive notes in a miserable mire of negatives and tactical errors.

So, where does that leave us? I'm disappointed. Although it delivers on its claims of 15 hour wear and covers my under-eye circles effectively, the terrible choice in packaging and one-trick pony nature which cannot deal with a simple blemish leaves me cold. Why why why isn't it as good as its foundation of the same namesake? Oh, MAC, you could have done so much better with this. I'll use it up, but I'm not convinced - I'm betting Estée Lauder's Double Wear is going to be a vast improvement.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Mission #3: Neon Eyes

Just so we're absolutely clear: I feel ridiculous wearing this look, the latest of my Beauty 5 challenge series on the 5 looks I'm scared to wear. I came up with this miniseries as a form of slap to the face, a jump-start out of this beauty rut my makeup's been idling in, a need to stop my love for makeup atrophying. On the way so far, I've tried fuchsia lips and going natural - both easy, trifling little slips of dares which eased me in nicely.

And then I got here and the brakes screeched and I was too scared to even dip my toes in. The first two? Oh, they were easy. The next three on my to-do list, however, are the big guns, and when confronted with them, all I can do is squeak in reponse.

Oh, what's that? The music from The Twilight Zone is beginning to play, softly and eerily. Must be time for Mission #3: Neon Eyes.

As usual, a summary of today's arsenal:

1. MAC Pigment in Vanilla: I choose a soft white-gold pigment to blend into the inner corner and tear duct, for fear of neon orange all over the lid looking like I've contracted some tropical (and decidedly nasty) disease.
2. Sleek i-Divine Acid Palette: I home into the neon orange shade for this look. As a caveat, I normally love Sleek Palettes, however the Acid Palette is chalky, the shadows are not buttery smooth but rock hard to the touch and they are a bitch to blend.
3. Estée Lauder Double Wear Liquid Eyeliner: I forgo my usual Shiseido Fine Eyeliner for this beauty; it's the blackest black and is perfect for the job at hand. I know it won't fade or budge and it makes me feel more human.
4. NARS Multiple Tint Tube in Turks & Caicos: I pick a blush which is offensively neon-looking to match my orange eyes. However, this is a beautiful match as when applied, it tones down to a lovely peachy shade which complements the ocular monstrosity.
5. Beauté Liqui-Gel Stain in Fluoron*: Only the most perfect lipstain known to me and my ever-changing arsenal would fit here - lipstick wasn't right as it felt too much, and nothing else 'spoke' to me. I pick this offensively-coloured lipstain and blend it over my lips to a beautiful flushed pink. Nothing's ever as scary once it's out of the bottle.
And here's what it turned out like:

The only photo I don't actually hate - and no, I couldn't bring myself to dazzle you with a smile...

Another one of the best out of a bad lot - check out the hair. This is comedy gold...

I feel like I'm too early for Halloween, like that person who always jumps out and yells 'SURPRISE!' just a little too early. I feel like a plastic supermarket pumpkin and feel very out of sorts.

Oh well, the kicker is yet to come. As I present my face to Kiwi (does anyone else do that?! I always show Kiwi and he gives the final judgement and if it's bad, I just accuse him of not 'understanding' the brief...), there is a measured pause. Crickets stop cricketing, tumbleweeds stop tumbleweeding and the whole world holds its breath.

'Well,' he intones seriously, 'I like the orange. Looks good.'

Pardon me?

- The Sleek Acid Palette made my job for this challenge unnecessarily difficult; next time I'd go to Barry M or another brand, as the neon orange shadow I used was chalky, impossible to blend and nowhere near the buttery smoothness I'd expect from Sleek.
- The look? It's just not for me - except on fancy-dress occasions, however, I don't actually mind the juxtaposition of my blue eyes and the orange eyeshadow too much at all... I just wouldn't wear it everyday. Or every week. Or month. Maybe once a year? October 31st seems about right...

Comedy photo too good not to share: mid-blink is the most sultry of all.

*Product sent to me as a gift from Coco Beau. I am not being financially compensated to feature it, and I am neither affiliated with Coco Beau nor Beauté.


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