Thursday, September 25, 2014

FOTD: Unseasonably Peach

[Products * were gifts].

I don't know why I've been into peach looks lately, but...well. Peach is kind of like orange, which is kind of like pumpkin (fun fact: THEY ARE ALL FOODS), so hey. I'm right on schedule.

Let's blame Pinterest. I mean, c'mon:
Emma Watson, Noah premiere.
[source]
[source]
It all looks so fresh-faced, youthful, and effortless. So I poked around in my stuff and slapped some makeup on. Peach makeup, as it were.
I think I need some bronzer, ha. Also, I couldn't bring myself to use quite as much blush as the pinspiration photos.

I used the lightest shade in the YSL Afrique palette all over the lids (over a base of Laura Mercier Caviar Stick in Rose Gold), and then fluffed some Catrice Papaya Don't Preach along the outer edges. I created more of a defined winged liner shape because I wanted more drama. And then I added mascara (Clarins Truly Waterproof* - why must you still smudge? Boo to oily undereyes and the need to conceal).
I may have gone overboard with the highlighter. Ah, well. 
Cheeks are Shu Uemura Silk Cushion Blusher in Orange Quartz, buffed in with a fluffy contour brush. I finished up with a generous dusting of Laura Mercier Rose Rendezvous* to highlight - forehead, cheekbones, cupid's bow, chin. Oh, and then lipstick, of course: Shu Uemura OB Dream Orange*.

I think this kind of a look actually carries well into winter - when we're all bundled up in coats and such, this fresh-faced look is a nice contrast. That glow, you know? I was never much of a peach girl, but it's growing on me. Apparently we're on a mission to explore all of the colors I never much liked before.

What's a popular color family that you usually ignore, but have started to warm up to?

Monday, September 22, 2014

FOTD: Purple Smoke & Becca Berry Twist Revisited

Becca makes some quality lip glosses, y'all. A little sticky with a crème brûlée scent, but beautifully pigmented. Since I'm trying to be berry purple this year (ha. ha. I couldn't resist), I wanted to do another look featuring Becca Berry Twist, which is a deep aubergine, shimmer-free gloss. And I wanted to do a plum smokey eye, because that was the most popular suggestion in response to this post.

Over a base of Laura Mercier Amethyst, I patted the plum shade in the Shiseido OR316 Floracouture palette all over the lid, blending it out lightly with the mauve shade of Shiseido RD299 Beach Grass. I stuck to plum for cheeks (MAC Stratus, which has become of my favorite blushes) and lips with Becca Berry Twist lip gloss. I guess this is also a plum spin on the monochrome look I did recently. YES. I love it when a single look strikes multiple goals off the list.
Berry Twist can be patchy upon application, but it usually looks okay if you're not taking close-up, full-face shots for a blog like a crazy person. Although, I do wonder what it would be like over something like MAC's Night Moth lip pencil.
Too much? Too purple? Too pale? This post did convince me that I don't need NARS Audacious Liv. So overall, +1, Larie.

Other makeup worn:
Origins Smarty Plants CC (Light/Medium)
Sonia Kashuk Perfecting Translucent Illuminator
MAC Lingering + Brow Finisher
MAC Pro-Longwear Concealer (NW25)
MAC Mineralize Concealer (NC20)
Smashbox Limitless Liquid Liner

There's been no shortage of posts around here, lately - I know. I figure I might as well take advantage of it while it lasts; job things have been happening, but happening slowly, so blogging is a good way to keep myself busy. I haven't been buying much, so reviews are slow (unless it's backlogged stuff), but I'm digging through Pinterest looks and have somehow found myself fixated on unseasonable peach lips/cheeks and pastels, of all things. Maybe that'll be a FOTD post, or two. And I was also thinking of writing a fitness post, but I'm a casual gym gal, so it won't be a gung-ho thing.

What do you think of pairing dark lips and smokey eyes? What's your favorite vampy lipstick/lip gloss?

Friday, September 19, 2014

FOTD: Coz Glitter Makes You Look Like a Fairy

So says Rae. Which got me thinking that I should give the glitter shades in my Shu Uemura Mint and Vanilla palette another go.
Shu Uemura Mint and Vanilla, which was an LE palette.
I tried the gold glitter shade once (here) and was rather indifferent; I felt like I was subjected to glitter particles in my eyeballs all day (I wasn't really), and wasn't impressed with how it looked. The Shu Uemura glitter shadows are like glitter topcoats for nails - flakie ones, though they are not holographic. They actually adhere pretty well to a base and provide lots of sparkle.

I decided to use the green glitter shade this time, and instead of layering it over a similar color, I patted it over a base of the Laura Mercier Amethyst Caviar Stick. I liked the contrast.

Other makeup worn:
MAC Lingering + MAC Brow Finisher
MAC Pro Longwear Concealer (NW25)
MAC Mineralize Concealer (NC20)
MAC Whisper of Gilt (LE)
MAC Stratus (LE)
Dior Pisanelle Pink Rouge Dior (dc)
Eyeko Alexa Chung Lash Enhancing Eye Do Eyeliner

Then I put Dior's Addict Gloss in Étoilée on top of my lipstick, because it is also glittery and we might as well.

Sparklies. Ooooooh.

But I don't know if I feel like a fairy.

Maybe more like a...Slytherin?
Yep. I'm a geek. But you already knew that. And this hoodie is comfy. Although I wish I had a Ravenclaw one. That's probably more my speed.

How do you feel about glitter eye shadow? Although I don't feel they are must-haves (glitter is polarizing), if you want glitter, Shu Uemura makes some nice ones. I feel like I should experiment with more color combinations.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Polished Palette: bareMinerals Ready 8.0 Power Neutrals

[Product was purchased by me.]

I've been going through a neutral phase in terms of eye makeup. My Shiseido BE213 palette gets a lot of love (I've hit pan, ha!), but it is shimmery, as is the YSL Afrique palette; the latter is also thoroughly warm-toned. I wanted some mattes - both light and dark - in easy, hard to eff-up shades and a smooth formula. I also had a Sephora gift card, so I picked out this the bareMinerals Ready 8.0 Power Neutrals palette ($40). 
Top row, L-R: Boss Lady, Moneymaker, Schmooze, Boardroom
Bottom row, L-R: Exec, Payday, Magnate, Get Ahead
It runs toward the cool, gray end of the neutral spectrum. Five of the shades are matte - Moneymaker, Boardroom, Payday, Magnateand Get Ahead. Schmooze has a shimmer/pearl finish, and Boss Lady and Exec have specks of glitter/sparkle. The shadows are all powdery soft (Magnate swatches the driest, but still performs nicely on lids), smooth, and easy to blend and layer. I feel like the texture of these shadows is a bit thin, somehow, which also keeps them from turning heavy on lids.
L-R: Boss Lady, Moneymaker, Schmooze, Boardroom.
L-R: Exec, Payday, Magnate, Get Ahead.
This is the kind of palette that I think is easy to pack up on trips or keep in the Daily Tray, as it contains fool-proof shades that can be mixed and matched in many ways to create an effortless, refined "natural" look. Something low-key and office appropriate, or complementary to a bright/vampy lip. It's not going to necessarily take you "from day to night" like some other neutral palettes promise, but I've got a multitude of other colors and textures and finishes that I can mix in to amp it up. I also like layering shades over shimmery/matte cream bases to add dimension. And on its own, the palette provides a shade dark enough for the crease (I use both Boardroom and Get Ahead for the crease), as well as a few to highlight.
The included pamphlet has some looks to try.
Overall, I'm happy with this. I've worn it here with a vampy lip (Magnate and Get Ahead over Laura Mercier Rose Gold Caviar Stick).
Lipstick from this post.
For another opinion, you can hop on over to Monika's blog

How do you feel about shades like this? Do you prefer a "neutral" palette with more oomph, or do you like the inclusion of mattes?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

An Autumn Tag

Fall is my favorite season, but for some reason, I'm not particularly eager for it to come around this year. Shorts and summer dresses are comfortable, people, and while I love boots, layering is a pain. But those ubiquitous Starbucks ads are singlehandedly convincing people that autumn is here, even though it's still 90 degrees F outside. FINE.

I was tagged by the lovely Lindsay. Thank you!

1. OK, we're talking coffee - what's your favorite seasonal drink from Starbucks or another coffee shop?

S. and I usually drink our coffee daily at home (we have a Chemex - it's pretty great), and I take it black. So when I splurge on a coffee shop, it is usually on some sugary vaguely-coffee-like concoction. I actually think I like irish cream lattes better than PSLs (I KNOW) and those are available year round...but the other thing I really liked when we lived in Seattle was this spiced apple cider chai from Tully's (at least, I think that's what it was). It was really good.
[source]

2. Accessories - what do you opt for: scarf, boots, or gloves?
Boots. I love boots - in all colors - black, brown, red, blue, tan. I need gray and purple. That is hands down my favorite fall/winter accessory. Scarves are fun and they definitely help keep me warm, but boots. Although I do wear all three when it gets really cold. And yes, I have a pair of Uggs. Judge me if you want, but my feet are warm, baby.

3. Music - what's your favorite music to listen to during Autumn?

I don't think my music taste is seasonal. We got an Rdio subscription recently (ad-free! Woo!) and I love being able to listen to pretty much anything at any time. I've been leaving it on artist stations, for variety and to discover new things. If you're curious, I keep a "now playing bar" on the right (an idea stolen from Denise).

4. Perfume - what's your favorite scent for this time of year?

I like vanilla year round, but I always cozy up to Prada Candy, and actually I think I'll still wear Guerlain Terracotta - the drydown is delicious. I want a full bottle of Diptyque Volutes or Eau Duelle to wear, too...we shall see. And for when I'm feeling mysterious...Serge Lutens Gris Clair!

5. Candles - what scents will you be burning this season?

Actually, I don't burn many candles. I love Marshmallow Fireside from B&BW but I probably won't pick any up this year - I don't get enough pleasure out of it versus something else I could spend the money on. I guess if money weren't an issue, I 'd want a NEST Vanilla Orchid and Almond candle, but that's not really autumn-esque. Maybe the Diptyque Vanille candle? I've never smelled it, though.

6. What do you love most about Autumn?

I love the clarity of crisp fall days; the wind is cold but not freezing, leaves crunch under my boots, the sky sighs through shades of gray...everything seems a bit melancholy, but also romantic. (Annnnnnd that's enough cheese for now. We could make a pizza.)

7. Favorite makeup look?

I pin all kinds of looks on my Pinterest board, and occasionally I go through them and try to do one. I always love vampy lipsticks, but I'm trying to experiment on the berry/pink end of the spectrum now. I think the next look I want to try is this one on Keira Knightley.

And I'm too lazy to take a photo, so here:
fall lipsticks

L-R: MAC Rebel, Chanel Rouge Allure Velvet L'adorée, Tom Ford Bruised Plum, NARS Audacious Vera, Givenchy Le Rouge Beige Plume, Lancome Rich Cashmere.

Lipstick wishlist! I want pinks and berries and purples and nudes this year. I have enough reds for three lifetimes

8. What are you looking forward to most in Autumn?

I would really like a job. The mostest. Once that happens, I think I will start planning a vacation. A real one, to a place S. and I have never been before. Maybe some place warm for next winter, or some place magical and cool and different (to us, okay?) like Prague or Scotland. Have travel plans or wishes? Let me know! Maybe we'll go there, instead, ha!

Okay! Your turn! Do the tag and let me know! I love seeing everyone's answers. Um, you're it. All of you.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Scents of the Week: Aug. 31 - Sept. 6

[Products * were received from friends.]

Don't worry, I'm out of samples, so this will be the last one for a while. (Until I obtain more samples, and become overwhelmed again.)

Sunday: Tocca Liliana (sample)
notes: Italian Bergamot, Neroli, Watery Peach, Muguet, Gardenia, White Peony, Sandalwood, Musk, Benzoin, Patchouli. 
[source]
There's that "watery fruit" thing again. Watery fruits aren't tasty, Tocca. It's kind of a generic "bright" fruity floral with musk. Oddly bubbly peach, itchy musk, candy center. This one is a bit more impactful and longer lasting than Graciella, but I like Graciella better.

Monday: Atelier Cologne Oolang Infini (travel spray)
notes: Bergamot, Tunisian Neroli, Oolang Tea, Jasmine Petals, Blond Leather, Tobacco Flower, Gaiac Wood, Haitian Vetiver. 
[source]
What is blue tea? The description on Sephora's site says "blue tea." That aside, I quite like this one, despite its lack of longevity. It's a brighter tea scent, being oolong rather than black tea - bright without any really bossy citrus.  Oolang Infini retains that unmistakeable Atelier Cologne base, but it seems more harmonious here than in some others from the line, as if it's a natural evolution of the tea note. It's not really warm or mysterious on me (as it is supposed to be), and I wish the tea lasted longer.

Tuesday: Diptyque Volutes EdT (sample)
notes: honeyed Egyptian tobacco, styrax, leather.
[source]
I have reviewed the EdP, but this is a case where they are quite different. The EdT, to my nose, is brighter and lingers in the green-iris phase, with more of a leather base; the smokey, sweet drydown of the EdP is just barely there, and smells almost vinyl-like to me here. If you are contemplating one, it may be worth trying to smell the other one before you commit. For example, Paris likes the EdT, I prefer the EdP.

Wednesday: L'Artisan La Chasse aux Papillons Extreme edp (sample)
notes: Linden blossom, lemon tree blossom, orange blossom, jasmine, tuberose
[source]
I think I bought the "extreme" version when I wanted the regular, for some reason that I can't recall. This one is a pretty jasmine/tuberose scent - light and lifted, delicate and girly, like the butterflies of its name. Slightly sweet in the beginning, but ultimately quite a nice white floral...that disappears too quickly. I think I will give the regular version a shot - I am a sucker for linden blossom.

Thursday: L'Artisan Piment Brûlant edp (sample)*
notes: Red pepper, soft and creamy chocolate, vanilla, cloves and poppy, hints of musk and amber.
[source]
This one comes to me by way of Amy, because I would never choose something that has chocolate in it, ha. I dabbed some on, and uh. It smells like bell pepper. And chocolatey amber. And gross. As S. so eloquently put it, "Who thought that would smell good?" (I made him smell it without telling him what it was, and I got a very carefully noncommittal "Um" in response. Then I told him it was bell pepper and chocolate and gross. He was relieved.) It's definitely an interesting scent, and I can't fault it for my discriminatory tastes, but nope, not for me.

Friday: Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur (sample)*
notes: bergamot, tangerine, cinnamon, vanilla, musk, amber
[source]
I think that Elizabeth and James Nirvana Black actually smells a lot like this, although that one is muddier and softer. Musc Ravageur has a pronounced amber note (I'm not big on amber), so while I like the rest of it, spicy sweet, I will keep my money, thanks. (It's always a victory when I get to keep my money).

Saturday: Dior J'Adore (sample)*
notes: Ylang-Ylang Essence, Damascena Rose Essence, Sambac Jasmine Absolute. 
[source]
Violet. So much violet. I got the faintest whiff of jasmine sambac at the very beginning, but I found J'adore quite straightforwardly sweet blackberry-violet on me, and I do not like it. I can understand why it's popular, but Dior fragrances and I rarely get along - this is no different. And holy smokes, is it tenacious. You will smell like J'Adore forever. Which is fine, if bold, juicy fruity florals are your thing...but that is not the case for me.

I am now actually out of samples. Such a relief. I'm also excited because fall is coming, and even though I hate cold weather, I love cold weather scents. These spritzy things of summer have had their time in the sun. What scents are you looking forward to wearing as the weather changes?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Mini Skincare Review #2: Kate Somerville Exfolikate

[Product was purchased by me as part of a sampler set.]

Kate Somerville Exfolikate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment


Ingredients (from Sephora): Water, Lactic Acid, Polyethylene, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, Pectin, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit, Lactobacillus Pumpkin Ferment Extract, Ceteareth-20, Cetyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, Dehydroxanthan Gum, PEG-100 Stearate, Salicylic Acid, SD Alcohol 40-B, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Sorbic Acid, Cinnamomum Cassia Leaf Oil, Honey/Mel/Miel, Acetic Acid, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Potassium Sorbate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Retinyl Palmitate, Bromelain, Papain, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Phenoxyethanol, Geranium Maculatum Oil, Aniba Rosaeodora (Rosewood) Wood Oil, Pogostemon Cablin Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Oil, Linalool, Limonene, Cinnamal, Beta-Carotene (CI 75130), Chlorophyllin-Copper Complex (CI 75810).

I used it a couple of times a while ago (before I stopped using microbead products), and found that yes, it exfoliates - skin is brighter and softer the following day. But, it smells really strongly of cinnamon, and I felt my face heat up after about 30 seconds of leaving it on, which is mildly alarming. It's meant to be both a physical and chemical exfoliator, and contains polyethylene beads, which are too tiny to be filtered out by most sewage systems and end up in the Great Lakes. On that alone, I really can't recommend it, especially since I haven't seen anything from the brand about reformulating the product to meet recent bans and regulations in regards to microbeads (please correct me if I'm wrong). 

The chemical exfoliators are primarily lactic acid, salicylic acid and acetic acid, combined with fruit enzymes. Fair enough (people argue that lactic acids need to stay on the skin for a longer time to act, but that can also depend on concentration). I wouldn't recommend leaving this one on for longer than 30 seconds - it gets intense.

At $85 for 2 oz and the microbeads, I would say this is a skip. I've tried mask alternatives (REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask, Ole Henriksen Blue/Black Berry Enzyme Gel Mask) that feel gentler and are meant to stay on the skin for a longer time, and I would recommend either of those over this one. It makes more sense for masks to be packed full of nutrients than a cleanser, in my opinion, as you are just going to wash all of that expensive stuff down the drain in a matter of seconds. For example, why would you have retinyl palmitate in a cleanser?

Think of the fish.

Have you tried this one? What do you look for in an exfoliating cleanser?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Maybelline Creamy Matte in Divine Wine and a Day to Night Look

[All products were purchased by me, except * which were gifts from friends.]
This is my rendition of the "natural" day look, which still, of course, requires twelve products, and careful control. Can't go overboard with application or else people will know I'm wearing twelve things. (Actually, I don't really care, but that would defeat the purpose of the "natural" look). As much as I love creative expressions of bright color, I do also quite like this kind of thing, actually.

(I know a cat eye isn't "natural", but I hate mascara so...something. And I probably should have put on some sort of lip color, but finding the right nude/mlbb is tricksy. And I'm not that kind of hobbit).

Makeup worn:
MAC Lingering + MAC Brow Finisher
Garnier BB Cream Miracle Skin Perfector Eye Roll-On* (light/medium)
Eyeko Alexa Chung Lash Enhancing Eye Do Eyeliner
Laura Mercier Rose Gold Caviar Stick
Bare Minerals Power Neutrals 8.0 palette
MAC Mineralize Concealer (NC20)
Armani Sun Fabric Bronzer 400
Illamasqua Zygomatic + Tarte Stellar*
MAC Whisper of Gilt
Epic Blend lip balm, unflavored

I never really do the whole "day-to-night" transformation because I don't work an office job, and don't go straight out for nights on the town. Gotta come home and feed the dogs at least, so there is no dashing about on trains to clubs and swanky dinner soirees. But, even though I stop at home, I don't necessarily want to put on an entirely different set of makeup, either.

So let's just put on lipstick, shall we? This is Maybelline's new Creamy Matte Colorsensational in Divine Wine. I wish it were a touch more purple and a touch less red, but it's nevertheless a great fall color, and more nuanced than a straight-up red (crazy flag, again). It was $5.49 at Target.
It's not as initially matte as some formulas, but after about half an hour, you've got matte. And this interesting faint blue sheen, which you can see above. It's a bit heavier on lips than the other Colorsensational lipsticks that I've tried, but still comfortable. It gets a bit drying as time goes on, but I think that is par for the course for matte lipsticks. Divine Wine has that same faux-vanilla scent as the rest of the line; I find it's only present upon application.
I probably could have added a touch more blush, but eh.
I really like it, but then, I love mattes and dark shades. I saw a full display of ten at Target, but Lust for Blush (the other one I was thinking about) was sold out - dude. Apparently more people read blogs than I thought. Daringly Nude might also be a nice one (for some reason I've been wanting something like MAC Velvet Teddy, even though it will probably look like death on me). 

Have you spotted these yet? Are you going to go matte for fall? How do you go from day to night?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Fall Wishlist: "Blame Everyone Else" Edition

Untitled #16

Many of these items made their way onto my wishlist after being featured on someone else's blog. I think Liz did a post like this long ago (yup, just found it), and they're kind of fun. Plus, I'm bringing you all down with me - click on links if you dare. I am not responsible for any lemmings generated. Blame the others!

Stila In the Light palette
I actually used up a pan of Stila Kitten once, and I want it again. Claire reminded me that this palette is a nice mix of textures in very wearable neutral tones. Want.

Tom Ford Bruised Plum:
I don't really keep up with TF collections because the price ranges are like whoa, but I think this lipstick was just re-released with the fall 2014 collections, and maybe it will be my first TF and cripplingly expensive lipstick. Because the color, you guys. Lena made me fall in love with plum and berries, and I'm determined to give them a shot this year.

Dior Bar:
I haven't tried any of the new Dior polishes yet, but Bar has captured my eye. Inky black with the barest twinkle here and there. Ugh. Yes. I want Tralala too, because it's such a delicate color and though it's not unique, I own nothing like it. 

Jinsoon trio: Blue Iris, Kookie White, Tea Rose
Why do we use "K" instead of "C?" Anyway. If Liz says it's better than Dior or Lippmann, I WANT IT. There may be a minor problem of caps misaligning which may drive me mad in the end, but Dior's new formula might suck, so I'm not striking this off the list. Plus, the cream colors in this trio are so beautiful. (As an aside, Dovey makes me want to try the YSL Gris Deco...you are all the worst but a girl needs backup plans, right?)

MUFE HD Second Skin Cream Blushes, 410, 520
I'm torn between YSL Kiss & Blush in Prune Impertinente (also in the collage up there) because it doubles as a lip product, versus MUFE 520, which is a deep "black currant" cheek shade. Cream blushes and I have been getting on fantastically lately, so I want another one...and Tracy says these are the best.

The other things on the list are items that I've had my eye on for a while, like Diptyque Eau Duelle, the Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair set, and a new daytime moisturizer from Shea Terra Organics. The Nude Skincare Advanced Renewal Overnight Mask also sounds good; I'm using up the mini serum and I really like it. Finally, I love the new fall shades for the Shiseido Lacquer Rouges, especially Tango, which is a deep berry. I don't need that many new deep berry lip products, though, so we'll see what wins out in the end.

What's on your fall wishlist? What's the last thing another blogger put on your beauty radar?

Friday, September 5, 2014

"Mini" Skincare Reviews: Nude Skincare Advanced Renewal Serum

[Product was a Sephora GWP.]

I am thinking of doing a mini-series on "minis:" deluxe samples, most of which were purchased as part of sampler sets or received as GWP items. We'll see if I have the persistence to do more than one.

The first one is a serum that I have been using at night, alternating with my Shiseido White Lucent Brightening serum. The full size is $78 (1 oz), which is quite up there. This mini is 5 mL (0.17 oz).

I want to talk about some of the ingredients, but I can't do all of them, because, er, ingredient lists are long. The FDA mandates that as with food, cosmetics ingredients lists "must be declared in descending order of predominance" (source), with a few exceptions. So yes, there is less of whatever is at the end of the list, but since we don't know recipe proportions, I don't think you can immediately write off a product that has an important ingredient toward the end of the list. It's possible that higher concentrations aren't useful (for example, humans can only process so much vitamin C - the rest of it just passes through your system), aren't stable in a solution/phase, or are no longer safe at certain concentration levels. Of course, it is also possible that the company wants to capitalize on some trendy ingredient and throws a dash in at the end to claim that it is present - no one can really say, not without a proper, complicated, chemical analysis.

Heeeeeeeeeey.

No. Focus, Larie.

Nude Skincare Advanced Renewal Serum

ingredients: Water, Bifida Ferment Lysate, Glycerin, Propanediol, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Hull Powder, Xanthan Gum, Chondrus Crispus (Carrageenan), Lactose, Potassium Sorbate, Alpha-Glucan Oligosaccharide, Fragrance (Parfum), Whey Protein (Lactis Proteinum), Undaria Pinnatifida Extract, Arginine, Galactaric Acid, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Tocopherol, Lactic Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Linalool, Limonene.

It's adorable. It's a dropper - you press the center of the cap and it dispenses product. Why can't all samples be this handy? It's meant to "hydrate and firm," and sodium hyaluronate is on the list (a form of hyaluronic acid, which helps skin retain moisture - it binds to water) and glycerin. And oh look, there's water. The interesting thing to me is the bifida ferment lysate - it's a probiotic. I think it's one of those "hot" ingredients that is present in a multitude of anti-aging/repair serums and creams, and while a study has shown that it improves skin sensitivity (source), I don't think there are miracle ingredients. 

Some of the other ingredients in the serum seem to be exfoliating (lactic acid, rice hull powder), which probably helps with skin-brightening. The sunflower seed oil is the source of the omega-9 fatty acids, I think.

Of note: no silicones or too many other fillers. It's a pretty trim list.

(The brand does claim that they don't use any synthetic fragrances, so I don't know what the "fragrance" in the ingredient list is.)

It pains me to say this ($78! So many ice cream cones!), but I do think this has been making a difference. I have a deluxe sample of the Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair to go through after this tiny bottle is gone, so I will hold off on purchasing anything for a while, but I do really like the Nude Skincare Advanced Renewal Serum. Skin is smoother and brighter, and the texture is improved - hydration is key! Trying to analyze each ingredient on an individual basis is a recipe for headaches, I think (plus, what if it's a combination that is the ticket?), so although I think looking for certain ingredients is a good starting place, for me, the only thing to do with an actual product is...test.

What is your go-to nighttime serum? What ingredients do you look for?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

FOTD: Monochrome, Terracotta

[Products marked * were a gift from a friend]

I wanted to do a look where the lips, blush and eye shadow were roughly the same shade. I picked terracotta red, because I love it as a blush and lip color.
Eyes: Marc Jacobs Siren palette
Cheeks: YSL
Red Agate and MAC Early Morning
Lips: Laura Mercier Mink

I was afraid that the eyes would turn out too red, so I cheated a bit and blended some rust orange into it. I thought about adding some pale gold, but didn't want to dilute it too much. I need to learn when to stop and leave things be, sometimes.
Annnnd...I need to brush my eyebrows before taking photos.


It's autumnal, right? I can have pumpkin spice lattes now?

Other makeup:
Eyeko Alexa Chung Lash Enhancing Eye Do Liquid Liner
MAC Lingering
MAC Brow Finisher
MAC Mineralize Concealer (NC20)
MAC Pro-Longwear Concealer (NW25)
Sephora Sculpting Disc* (highlight)

I want to try again with a plum, like this look here. I also like the mix of textures - shimmer and matte. Do you have a favorite color for a monochromatic look?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Scents of the Week: Aug. 24 - 30

[Most products were purchased by me as samples from perfume vendors, or received as Sephora perks.]

Apparently my tastes have wandered from the candy shop of last week (or two weeks ago, whatever. Timey-wimey-ness). The weather has cooled ever so slightly (I'm losing my cold tolerance, guys), so I'm reaching for darker, smokier things. Sort of. Sometimes. I'm still a sucker for vanilla.

Sunday: Elizabeth & James Nirvana Black (Sephora perk roll-on)
notes: violet, sandalwood, vanilla
[source]
Violet can be tricky (in fact, one of the other scents I tested this week was violet-centric and I had to scrub it off), but this one doesn't really smell like violet; it's more of a smokey, sweet, something. I don't really know what sandalwood smells like, but this is a darker scent that brings to mind Diptyque Volutes or Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille. Not as smoky or complex as the latter, and not as cherry-sweet as the former, but it evokes the same feelings. I got my roller ball as a 100-pt perk and I quite like it, although I think the spray bottle offers more throw and longevity. (As an aside, I can't stand the White version. It's a powdery mess on me.)

Monday: Jo Malone Vanilla & Anise (mini bottle)
notes: star anise, purple vanilla orchid, vanilla bourbon
[source]
I have to confess that I'm confused as to why Jo Malone gets so much love - they're so...spritzy. And the concept of having to own five of them so you can layer them all is just...yeah, I'm too lazy (and broke) for that. This is the only scent from the brand that I could imagine owning a full bottle of - I quite like the carefree, light waves of vanilla and twisted licorice. It is very similar to Diptyque Eau Duelle; the latter is more complex, and lasts longer. I'm not sure how many vanilla perfumes a sane person can have. My little bottle is almost gone. Do I upgrade to the 1 oz bottle ($60)? Do I settle on Eau Duelle instead?

Tuesday: Tocca Graciella (Sephora perk roll-on)
notes: Bitter Orange, Asian Pear, Watery Apricot, Casablanca Lily, Ylang Ylang from Comoros Islands, Karma Fleur, Rose de Mai, Creamy Iris, Cashmere Musk, Benzoin, Laos.
[source]
Something to lighten the mood. I don't know what the hell "watery apricot" is (if I took a bite into that, I'd spit it out), but this is a light fruity floral that stays in the realm of silk chiffon; opens with bright Asian pear and bitter orange, floats into iris and other flowers, and hovers there forever. I like it, although I never find Tocca perfumes particularly robust, so I'm not sure that I'd splurge on the full bottle. Maybe someday when I want something pretty for my dresser - the bottles are lovely.

Wednesday: Sweet Anthem Lolita EdP (SA List sample)
notes: sea salt, black currant, cherry blossom, tonka bean, rosewood
[source]
I reviewed this previously, and my opinion hasn't changed. It's the first cherry blossom scent I've liked, and its mellow, aquatic sweetness makes it bright and cheery in the heat of summer, as well.

Thursday: CB I Hate Perfume Russian Caravan Tea (Perfume Absolute Sample)
notes: "Smoked black Indian tea, bergamot and the hint of shelves full of old books"
[source]
I kind of roll my eyes when I hear the brand name, because really, of all the elitist, supercilious - anyway. The description, too: "the hint of shelves full of old books." Sometimes I think people are a little too self-indulgent. Anyway. This is touted as the smokiest, most inherently tea scent around, and while it's definitely black tea, rich and sweet and instantly recognizable, it's a bit too sweet for me. I get a lot of bergamot, which I usually like, but here it's a little too lemony and more reminiscent of sweet tea. Where is my smoke? Not terrible, but not, in my opinion, worth the $130 for 15 mL of perfume absolute. But I do love the tea base, and will happily wear out the rest of my teeny sample.

Friday: Serge Lutens Five O'Clock Au Gingembre (sample)
notes: notes of bergamot, tea, cinnamon, candied ginger, honey, cacao bean, vanilla, gingerbread accord, patchouli, vetiver 
[source]
Apparently I am doomed to be disappointed by tea scents this week. I wanted the delicious spiced cookies and smoky black tea that everyone else gets, but this turns into a soapy, abrasive "man-smell" on me - you know, that lavender-clove cheap aftershave smell? With a dash of sharp patchouli, just to add insult to injury. I waited it out, hopeful that the initial rebuke would soften into something more palatable, but nope. Big fat nope. Maybe my sample has expired? Either way, this one goes into the "repulsive and rejected" pile. I scrubbed it off and consoled myself with the last of my sample of Eau Duelle.

Saturday: YSL Parisienne
notes: blackberry, vetiver, vinyl accord, sandalwood, damask, rose
[source]
I actually have a full bottle of this (the first full bottle of perfume I ever bought, actually, and S. helped me pick it out). I don't wear it that often in warm weather because it's a powerhouse of a scent - the sillage could strangle someone (also, the cap, you could kill someone with the cap - it's hefty!). It's also very fruit-forward (like wine! I actually think it smells like riesling, to begin with) with tons of blackberry, and the lingering rose-vinyl accord can become a bit cloying. I wore this because I let S. pick, and apparently he likes it when I smell like riesling. In colder weather, I like it a lot better - it's much tighter, lighter, and not as plastic.

I have a lot of fun with these. I try to keep perfume reviews light-hearted and non-scholarly, but perhaps I'm being a bit self-indulgent with the snark. Personal failing, that. But I am pleased, because I am slowly but surely moving samples from the "to-be-tried/worn/eaten/looked at/something" (just kidding, please don't eat perfume) pile to the "shove off on someone else" (Amy?) pile. Tortoise ftDUBS, baby.

What kind of scents are you reaching for lately? Has the weather turned where you are?