Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Review: Shu Uemura 18G Foundation Brush

For the past 3 years I've been a mineral foundation girl and have been a MAC kabuki brush fan. But in the last 8 or so months, I've stop using powdered mineral foundation and have reverted back to liquids.

Why, I hear you ask?
The reason was simple, I was getting really flakey skin with use of prescriptive Retin-A to fade scars and mineral foundations was just making my flakes more obvious and pretty much giving me downright grief so I gave up using it all together one day.

These days you'll find on me slapping on Revlon Colorstay, Bobbi Brown Luminous Moisturising foundation or the cream based Cover Creme from Dermablend depending on my mood and the coverage I'm looking for. The thing that doesn't change though when I'm using liquids is my foundation brush.

Now most makeup artists rave on and on about flat synthetic foundation brushes like the MAC 190 brush for foundation application. I honestly don't know what they are on about because I find unless you are using with a light and fluid foundation, these foundation brushes leave streaks all over the face and don't make it the easiest job to do blending work.

Then there was the MAC 187 stippling brush craze which was all the rage 2 years ago for achieving the flawless airbrush look. Sure it does give you that result, but the stippling motion is very time consuming and when you're not in luck, you may find yourself having to pick up all the hair fibres that fall onto your face afterwards.

These days,  flatop brushes like the previously reviewed Sigma F80 or MAC 130 are the bees knees and are getting all the air time on Youtube and beauty blogs everywhere.

Today I want to rave on about another brush that does an even better and faster job of liquid foundation blending work; honestly - I don't know how I survived all those years without it.

Shu Uemura 18 Goat Foundation Brush

Hair close up

  • The first thing that surprises me is the size and shape of the brush. Seriously it is no more than 3cm wide and 2.5cm high, looks more like flattened mini blush brush, is quite thick from the side view and looks like no foundation brush I've ever used before. 
  • Handmade from superfine uncut white goat hair which is quite densely packed, it feels ah-mazingly soft on skin - like seriously, it was as if I was being caressed by angel kisses when I'm using this brush. 
  • Don't underestimate this little baby just because of its size, it takes me less time to blend my whole face with it than using the Sigma F80 brush. This brush gave me poreless airbrushed perfection skin in about 1 minute flat - for real! I would dot foundation all over my face with my finger and then use quick side to side wiping motion to blend the product into my face. I attribute the amazing results to its wonderful natural fibres being able to spread the liquid products around in a better manner than synthetic fibres.
  • Being made of white goat hair, I was thinking this thing would stain like hell after use, but the amazing thing was washing it was so easy, it was like washing off powdered products rather than liquids and each time after washing, my brush would appear brand new. Even my MAC white brushes don't come anywhere close to looking this new after a wash (they tend to have this light yellow stain after being washed) 
  • The other great thing is that it's quick drying and holds its shape well; I would wash it late in the evening and it would be ready for me to use again the early next morning. 
  • I have experienced very minimal shedding during use and in washes. On rare occasions, (like every 10th time I'm using the brush), I will get a single stray hair on my face and very rarely do I see any fallout during washes.
Foundation brushes side by side - 18G and F80 are dirty as I haven't washed them

Top view to show brush fibres and head sizes

close up of brush head - added in MAC 187 for size comparison purposes

I don't really use any other brushes for foundation any more after trying out the Shu Uemura brush. I still use the F80 for cream based foundation as the hairs are much denser, so spreads the thicker cream products better than Shu Uemura. Other than that, this powerful little thing has pretty much made all my other foundation brushes redundant.

For those of you who haven't invested in a foundation brush, I say skip everything and jump straight to this. It is an investment no doubt, but a very worthy one.

Rating: 10/10. RRP US$39. Available in Australia at selected David Jones stores at higher prices. I purchased mine online from the US.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Top Gifts for the Holiday Season III

This third edition of holiday gift giving ideas will be a showcase of findings from the hours of online and instores scouring I've done in the last week in search for the ultimate beauty gifts that would make any girl happy on Christmas day.

GHD Midnight Set - RRP A$309
I haven't come across a single girl who doesn't like the GHD hair straightener styler. I've had mine for many years and if it was broken, I would definitely upgrade to this one. This deluxe set comes with a hardcase clutch to store the styler, 2 sectioning clips, a cute little mirror and a mini multi voltage hair dryer for travelling - super convenient, all of which come in a big black chest that you can use as a storage box. 
Available at selected salons nation wide and ry.com.au

L’Oreal Professionnel Serie Expert gift pack - RRP A$55
This great value gift pack comes in 3 variants.
  • Serie Expert Vitamino Color for long-lasting radiance
  • Serie Expert Force Vector for breaking hair
  • Serie Expert Absolut Repair for fragile hair.
My personal favourite is the Absolute Repair set for fragile hair with a shampoo, conditioner and hair masque. It is just magic at preventing split ends and breakages in hair as well as boosting hair's hydration levels to keep it soft, silky and shiny.Available at Price Attack, Hairhouse Warehouse and other selected hair salons
The Aromatherapy Company - White Lily & Cassis Gift Set - RRP A$24.95
This pack from NZ contains 2 candles in glass jars and a 50ml reed natural essential oil diffuser set in the lucious Lily scent - it's heaven on earth for floral lovers like me.
Available in David Jones and selected Pharmacies.
Elizabeth Arden Prevage Total Protection Introductory Collection - RRP A$275/US$155
Having used the Prevage serum and day cream (review coming soon), I'm absolutely in love with the product but am crying poor at the prices. This set whilst still pricey is amazing value and the 50ml serum alone is arleady worth $265. So for a mere $10 more you get a 15ml face cream and 7.5ml night recovery cream. It is to date my holy grail anti-aging skincare and keeps face hydrated and protected all day long.
Available in limited quantities in Myer and David Jones.
Bobbi Brown Modern Classic Lip & Eye Palette - RRP A$160/US$75
Bobbi brown does a modern twist to her classic palette; the colours are all very wearable and the texture is just amazing and silky as to apply, it comes with a mini eye shadow and lip brush and have been on my Xmas wishlist for a whole month now...
Available in David Jones and selected Myer stores. 

Lanolips Christmas set - RRP A$19.94/$A24.95
There are 2 variations of these going around. Myer has the $24.95 set with 3 items (Rose balm hand cream, 101 ointment and lip ointment) while David Jones is hawking the $19.95 version for 2 items (Rose balm hand cream and 101 ointment only), both of which come presented in a pretty pink cosmetics bag for you to re-use. My tip would be to pick the Myer set as that gives you more bang for your buck .

Elizabeth Arden Luxury Beauty Hamper - RRP A$99
Contains a wide selection of eye makeup, lip colours and fragrances as well as a set of travel makeup brushes, all beautifully presented in a quilted red cosmetic case.

Revlon Foundation Holiday Set - RRP A$39.95
This pack contains the much raved about PhotoReady foundation (in shade Natural Beige) and 2 nail colours as well as a lip colour. Valued at over twice its selling price, it is a good time to try this foundation out if you haven't gotten a hold of it yet.
Available exclusively at Priceline

Mecca Cosmetica Metals Molten Shine Nail Set - RRP A$40
This limited edition duo will set your nails sizzling with a metallic coppery bronze that looks great against your (faux) bronzed skin and a lighter silvery taupe shade for muted but equally dazzling molten metal finish.
Available at Mecca Cosmetica counters and Mecca Maxima (Melbourne).
Estee Lauder Gloss To Go Set - RRP A$65
This limited edition of 6 pure colour glosses will bring shine, colour, shimmer and sparkles to lips, keeping your puckers soft, smooth and totally kissable on Christmas day.  These are new colours brought out especially for the holiday season and comes presented in a beautiful gold box. Get them while they lasts
Available at Myer and David Jones

Happy Christmas shopping everyone - the car parks are starting to fill up very quickly so be sure the go early in the mornings if you plan to do your shopping on weekends.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Review: Illamasqua Lipstick - Box

Until earlier this year, I've never been much of a lipstick girl. I've always preferred the shine and gloss that lipgloss provided and the subtle colour that it gave. I even put up with the sticky feel on some glosses in the hope that I get some hydration and chapping protection from using them.

But as with many beauty products, you don't know what you are missing out on until you find the right products, there are moisturising lipsticks out there that provides colour, pigmentation and hydration; you just have to search for them.

Illamasqua lipstick - Box 
  • Box is a deep scarlet hue that is matte in finish - on me it looks to be a stunning red, with a hint of blue. I feel it's the perfect red for me and has got me looking like a starlet from a 50s film.
  • Honestly this is quite unlike any other lipstick I've ever tried. It goes on completely weightless. I don't even realise I'm wearing this lipstick until I caught a glimpse of my reflection. The pigmentation is beyond belief; it is so pigmented, one gentle swipe and you get pure colour on your lips. 
  • I like to use a lip brush to apply this lipcolour to get precise lines on lips. I can easily for forgo using a lip liner with this given the matte finish, I did not find that it bleed or feather at all, even hours after application. 
  • Amazingly, this matte lipstick is not drying on my lips at all. I like using Box after applying a bit of lip conditioner (Guinot vital lipcare), and honestly for the lightweight feel, I'm happy to use another product to give it a hydration boost that I need in air-conditioned environments.  
  • Staying power is phenomonal; it resists fading and without eating lasted for hours. I believe I have found a new love. 
top - applied with lip brush, bottom - swiped directly from tube

Rating: 9.5/10. I needed something slightly more hydrating under or over it as I have super dry lips.
RRP A$39/£15.00 at selected Myer stores or Illamasqua online.
This product was provided for consideration. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Review: NP Set New Neutral Eye Palette

The other day, I mentioned the NP Set eye shadow palette in my holiday gifting post. Today I'll do a brief review and colour swatch of the palette. 

NP Set is the brainchild of Australian Makeup Artist Napoleon Perdis and showcases a complementary range of items to his higher-end Napoleon Perdis line. NP Set aims to be more assessable to women (both in location and costs) and caters for those who want quality beauty products at affordable prices. In Australia, NP Set is available exclusively in Target as well as David Jones and Napoleon Perdis concept stores. 

NP Set - New Neutral Eye Palette

  • 12 warm shades covering mid to dark browns, copper, taupe, peach and a red-brown, with lighter colours beige, champagne and white for highlighting. 
  • Comes in a slimline cardboard packaging with mirror and has magnetic enclosures - I'm a fan of this type of packaging as it doesn't take up much space and you can easily throw into the handbag or makeup kit on the go
  • All shades are shimmery but not frosty.
  • Pigmentation is pretty good and fallout is minimal. It doesn't feel chalky (the dark brow, bottom row 2nd from left is slightly chalky) and the shadow texture is quite soft and easy to blend and work with.
  • The colours resisted fading for 4 hours or a bit more and did crease on me in less than an hour's time (but don't judge it because of that - I have NEVER had an eye shadow of any brand not crease on me no matter what I do, including using Urban Decay Potion Primer or other primers due to my super oily and half-hooded lids).
  • There are enough interesting colours for you to complete many different looks and I especially like the champagne colour (middle right) to highlight above mycheekbones to give it a pretty ethereal glow.

No primer, on NC 30 skin, indoor white lighting
Ingredients listing

Rating: 8.5/10. RRP A$14.95 at Target, David Jones, and Napoleon Perdis concept stores
This product was received at last month's MBBE event. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Top Gifts for the Holiday Season II

This week I'm continuing the hunt to find more fabulous beauty buys that cost less then $20 and would make great kriss kringle gifts for everyone you love. Heck, I wouldn't mind receiving any of these for presents any time of the year. In fact, I already own some of these myself.

NP Set New Neutrals Eye - RRP A$14.95
12 silky colours in all shades of browns, copper, browns and beige, champagne and white for highlighting - this palette will sort out soft warm looks in seconds flat. What I love about palette is that they take the guess work out and make using complementary colours pretty much child's play.

And wouldn't you know it, NP Set is on sale at Target this week with 30% off their entire range till 24th Nov - even better savings to be had!

MOR Essentials - RRP A$12.95 - $19.95
MOR has just become more affordable, don't you just love that? They have newly launched a range of 5 delicious fragrances in their new product line known as 'Essentials' for everyday use. Each scent range has a scented candle, soap bar, hand and body wash, body butter and hand cream. I'm loving the names of the range: Basil & Grape, Neroli Clementine, Honey Nectar, Black Currant Iris and Sugar Rose Tiger Lily - I can't wait to try them all.
MOR Essentials is now available in selected pharmacies making it even more easier to pick up your little indulgence piece.

Bloom essential office gift pack - RRP AA$19.95
This Christmas pack contains a nice big mug and a shea butter handcream to make the perfect KK gift.
Bloom is available in leading department stores, Priceline and selected pharmacies.

OPI Juicie Cuties - RRP A$19.95
This limited edition set of 6 scented hand & body lotions are just the perfect thing to slap onto your hand after nail painting or removing those chipped polish. With scents of coconut melon and caramel cream and ginger lily, it will surely send you into a tizzy high.
OPI available in selected salons and David Jones

In Essesnce Rejuvenating Foot Scrub - RRP A$19.95
What better way to combat all the shopping and walking around you do than to sooth and relax your tooties in a rejuvenating soak that also exfoliates the dead skin cells to help you keep them looking fresh and soft. 
In Essences is available in leading department stores, Priceline and selected pharmacies.

More gifting options coming up soon...

I'll leave you with some photos of this year's Melbourne Myer window display.
This year marks the 55th year of the Myer Christmas Windows tradition and features scenes from The Nutcracker.

Only 33 more sleeps till the big day now...

Monday, November 22, 2010

NOTD: Ulta3 Pepper Pot

For the past 4 weeks, I've been going through a phase and have been hell bent on finding the perfect red nail colour. Not the bright screaming red or vampy red, but the classic blue-based pillar-box red.

In less than 2 days last month, I've acquired 4 different reds and although I loved them, they just weren't what I was looking for. So when Jacie over at You'veGotNail showcased this particular red, I knew I had to run out and buy it too to see if it was the red I've been missing.

And for it to come from Ulta3 - the brand that I keep hearing many raves for their quality, colour, range and mini price of A$2 each (I bought mine for A$2.50), it was all the persuasion that I need (like I needed any).

Now I've never seen Ulta 3 nail colours sold at my local chemist so never bothered to really go hunt for them in obscure places. But when I got word of a local pharmacy in the CBD stocking it, I was all over there in a heart beat during my lunch break today. And this is what I have to show for it.

Ulta3 - Pepper Pot
  • Pillar Box Red? - I think so. It is a deep blue based red so looks very flattering on my skin. 
  • 2 coats and it's all smooth and shiny for this vibrant creme shade.
  • The lacquer itself is not too thick or runny in consistency and made application easy-peasy with no streaky problems at all.
  • I haven't worn this for more than 3 hours today so cannot yet comment about staying power, but for the look and price, if it chips, I'll happily re-apply.
2 coats in natural light

Classic Red for less than a cup of coffee? Yes please any day! 

RRP A$2- $2.50 at selected Pharmacies.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Illamasqua Melbourne Launch

The day started as a gathering with the beautiful MBBE girls for a serious session of Yum Cha at Shark Fin House. That 2 hours long session then eventually saw us meandering down to the shops to look at makeup (as we tend to do) and before we knew it, it was time to head over to Illamasqua at Myer Bourke St Mall for their launch event.

Illamasqua is a UK cult beauty brand that has last month launched into the Australian market. Only 2 years young, they have already made an impact to the world of cosmetics and the creative stage makeup industry or anyone partial to the alternative culture with their array of bold and pure colours. The motto of Illamasqua is to 'unleash your alter ego' and bring out the bolder, more confident you within so you can walk into the night with drama and colour.

Exclusively partnered with Myer, Illamasqua  has already set up counters in Sydney, Bondi and Brisbane, Robina stores and this weekend, Melbourne joins the coveted list that enables us to experience the artistic flairs the Illamasqua team brings. To celebrate the occasion, a few lucky Melbourne beauty bloggers were invited to join in the fun and play with the beautiful vibrant makeup in the latest Art of Darkness collection. I was lucky enough to participate thanks to Christabel from TheMakeupMole.

Illamasqua wall display - absolute stunning show of their products

Nail and lash bar - I want all the shades!

Illamasqua look books - Art of Darkness collections
Being a brush addict, I want all these beautiful brushes
I was overwhelmed by all these beautiful things waiting for me to play with all at once - the displays were amazing and vibrant, the colours so bold. We all marvelled at the exquisite mannequin hand painted and flown all the way in from London this week.
expressive mannequins - Illamasqua Style as inspired by Alex Box (creative director)
and after that wandered around and started to play with the colours and the manequins...
playing around (Violet, Hannah, Tine)

Jess & Daniella showcasing a fine piece of art
Our little refreshing treats
We then got serious and had some one-on-one time with make up artists to unleash our alter egos:
Daniella with her MUA

Valerie's alter ego was created by Illamasqua international creative trainer Daniel - I think there's an avatar inspiration in there somewhere
my rather conservative alter ego - the colours were 5x bolder in real life I swear. I <3 the look

In all, I had the most amazing time. If not for my expired parking meter, I would have stayed to play around until the the guys at Illamasqua kicked me out.  But of course I could not leave empty handed after finding so many new pleasures to play with. Here's my purchase and products from the goodie bag we each received.

I've put about another dozen items on my wishlist and will slowly work my way through them :)

Brow cake powder in Motto
Lipstick in Box* - review soon for swatch see below
medium pencil in Sophie *

*items were received from the event.

For more photos of the day, click here