Monday, October 31, 2016

Multi-Benefit Korean Beauty: 24/7 Touch Up Skin-Perfecting Cream* Review

How often does it happen to you guys that you see a beauty product and have no idea about its purpose or function? As a seasoned beauty fanatic, I pride myself on being well-versed in the world of make-up and skincare, yet Korean beauty products sometimes still baffle me - like this 24/7 Touch Up Skin-Perfecting Cream* ($22 for 0.61 fl oz/ 18ml, available here) I received to try from the US-based K-beauty retailer Peach & Lily.
If you've never heard about Peach and Lily, they carry a curated selection of mostly Korean skincare from popular brands such as Mizon or May Coop, but they also specialize in bringing new and exciting K-beauty launches to the US. I have previously never heard about the brand 24/7 so it was interesting to read that they focus on releasing make-up products with skincare benefits. When I first opened the box of the Touch Up Skin-Perfecting Cream, I thought it was a concealer; but it's actually a subtle shimmer cream that can be applied as a highlighter on the cheeks, dewy make-up primer or used throughout the day to bring more glow to the face. The Touch Up Cream contains castor oil, glycerin and adenosine to provide anti-ageing benefits for your skin.
The Cream is packaged in a simple squeeze tube with a small opening at the nozzle, which is great because you certainly don't need a lot of product to achieve a glowy result; I also find that the amount of product you get in a tube is great value for money. Now, the first thing I noticed about this product is the scent: unfortunately, it smells very strongly of something akin to baby powder, and at least on me, the fragrance really lingers on the skin after application. A lot of Korean products have these strong fragrances, so I guess it was to be expected, but I could certainly use without it in this product or at least I wish it was not as tenacious.
The texture of this highlighting cream also took me by surprise. It is quite thick, and very, very rich and creamy. I'm not sure why Peach & Lily descibe it as lightweight on their website, because to me, it's the exact opposite: it's viscous and dare I say, quite oily on the skin. Even when applied in the tiniest amount possible on top of my cheekbones, it leaves behind a glow that's due more to its glossy finish and not any visible sparkle or shimmer in the product. It does contain a very subtle, refined pearly sheen, but honestly what I notice more is the wet effect of the product sitting on top of the skin. Throughout the day, it doesn't set and remains tacky on the face, and unfortunately gathers a bit in my fine lines - I've also tested it as a brightener layered under concealer on my under eye area, and it caused creasing there as well. Mind you, the skin on my cheeks is normal, and I would say my under eyes are a bit dry and dehydrated... so I'm not sure how dry your skin would have to be for this product to absorb more into the skin. Needless to say, I have not tested it on my entire face as a primer - that would just be a catastrophe waiting to happen.
I speculate that my somewhat negative feelings towards the formulation of this 24/7 Skin-Perfecting Cream may stem from cultural differences between the West and the East. Yes, I like to highlight my face in strategic areas, and yes, I sometimes like my base to look extra glowy - but I absolutely prefer something that sets on the skin and doesn't move throughout the day. Who knows, maybe in Korea they like their mul-gwang so much they don't mind a wet gloss to their cheeks - or maybe it would work better if your skin were in need of some serious boost of moisture. For me, I guess I'll stick to my powders and thinner textured highlighting sticks. Do you prefer to enhance your glow with liquids and creams or powder highlighters? Would you wear a 'wet' highlighter on your cheeks?

Disclaimer: Product featured in this post is a press sample I received from the brand's PR for review consideration. All links are non-affiliate. All opinions are 100% honest and unbiased, no matter if the product featured was purchased with my own money or provided free of charge. Thank you for reading! 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Fall Eyeshadow Update: NYX Hot Singles in Heat and Nude Matte in Dance The Tides

While I may have sworn off buying eyeshadow palettes ever again (here), it doesn't mean I haven't been eyeing any new eyeshadow singles to add to my collection. That's right - even me, a sworn cool undertone lover, have been bitten by the warm eyeshadow bug. And because I've traditionally always gravitated towards silvery taupes and cool browns, I couldn't actually shop my stash to find exactly the shades I had in mind. One sneaky order from Ulta later and I'm a happy owner of two new eyeshadows from NYX: the Hot Singles Shadow in Heat ($4.49 for 0.06 oz) and the Nude Matte Shadow in Dance The Tides ($4.99 for 0.05 oz).
I've only ever owned one other eyeshadow from NYX and that was eons ago when they still came in square packaging (anyone else used White Pearl for a face highlighter before highlighting was such a huge trend?). I actually quite like the updated versions - my plan is to depot these two babies and pop them in my old MAC palette. Interestingly, the Hot Singles have the cute bow detail on the lid, but not the Nude Mattes.
I'm not entirely sure, but I believe all the shades in the Hot Singles range have varying amounts of shimmer - from satins through pearl to even more metallic shades (although not as reflective as the brand's Prismatic Eyeshadows, which give a foiled effect). All of the Nude Mattes are obviously matte finish, but unfortunately the range is limited to very neutral shades of ivory, beige, brown etc. - I really wish the color selection was wider there because I'm currently on the lookout for a killer matte plum shade.
Starting with Heat, the shade I had in mind when I placed that order was a shimmery red berry shade. And in the pan, Heat looks very red, with a slightly more pink berry shimmer shift - this is actually not a very sparkly shade, I would say applied to the eyes the finish is somewhat more satin. The texture of this shadow is quite firmly pressed in the pan but easy enough to pick up on the brush with little to none powder kick-up. I'd say the pigmentation is medium - I definitely own shadows that are a lot more pigmented than this - but it's smooth, easy to blend out or layer for more opacity. I mean, for under $5 at the drugstore, I'm actually rather impressed.
I do wish though that this shade appeared more berry pink on my fair cool skintone; as you can hopefully see in my arm swatch, unfortunately Heat pulls more of a rusty red shade on me. It's obviously darker and a lot more red than my copper shade from Wet n'Wild or a rosy brown Push Up from Too Faced, but it's certainly not a berry. Le sigh.
L-R: NYX Hot Singles in Heat, Wet n'Wild Eyelid shade from Dancing In the Clouds trio, Too Faced Push Up
As for the Nude Matte Shadow in Dance The Tides, I was looking for a very warm chestnut/ cognac brown I could use to slightly deepen the outer corners of my eyes but also in the crease paired with other warm shimmery shades on the lid. I was a little concerned Dance The Tides would end up being a dupe for something I already owned in my stash, but luckily it isn't - it's definitely the most orangey brown I own, and from looking at swatches of the NYX Nude Matte range online, it's the warmest brown in the brand's line-up.
As you can see, on my cool skin it pulls rather orange - even compared to my other two warm matte browns, the Balm's Sultry (depotted from the Nude'Tude palette) and Inglot no. 337. Sultry is more of a yellow camel brown, Inglot 337 is more peachy - both are also lighter in depth. The formula of NYX Dance The Tides is also quite impressive: smooth, creamy, pigmented and blendable, although there is quite a bit of powder kick-up when you press your brush into the pan - although not as much as with my Inglot matte shades. I find it easy to work with and it doesn't fade or get patchy throughout the day (tested on top of eyeshadow primer, as always).
L-R: NYX Nude Matte Shadow in Dance The Tides, theBalm Sultry, Inglot Matte no. 337

Here's a simple look with Heat in the outer corner and Dance The Tides in the crease; I used a metallic copper and gold on the lid from my Makeup Revolution I Heart Chocolate palette. There appears to be a blank spot on one of my eyelids but I think that may have been my fault when I was fixing a mascara smudge with a q-tip. My blush is KIKO Shade Fusion Trio in Natural Rose (here) while the lips are the recently reviewed Ilia Beauty Lipstick in Madam Mina.
I would definitely look into purchasing more shades from the NYX eyeshadow singles range in the future; unfortunately I don't have an Ulta close to where I live and ordering online is always a bit of a gamble. What is your go-to brand for eyeshadow singles? I've been very faithful to Inglot in the past but again, I always prefer to swatch in person before purchasing and getting to a counter is currently a bit tricky...

Monday, October 24, 2016

Here's Why I Won't Be Panning Make-up Anymore

Right now, for the first time in over 2.5 years, I'm not actively trying to use up any make-up. In 2014 and 2015, I participated in two year-long Projects Make A Dent, and then since July 2015, I did three back-to-back Project Pans, completely finishing or at least getting very good use out of some older products in my stash. My initial plan for 2016 was to do three 4-month seasonal Projects 10 Pan, and I managed to complete two - but as you know, with the arrival of our baby, I decided against doing that third Project, reasoning that I wouldn't have much time or mental energy to wear any make-up.

And you know what, I'm really, REALLY glad that I don't have any panning challenges going on anymore. Even if it wasn't for my imminent new mama lifestyle, I think I would have probably copped out of that final Project Pan for 2016 anyway. I've been thinking a lot about this for the past two months of desperately trying to finish as much as I could from my last Project Pan, and I came to the conclusion that at this stage, I really need to take a step back and reevaluate my reasons for doing these challenges in the first place, and whether they still apply to what I want to gain out of my make-up collection and make-up hobby in general.

If I'm being completely honest with myself, my main reason for panning make-up is to use up as much as I can from older and/or unloved products, and thus be able to remove them from my collection without feeling the guilt of 'good products going to waste'. That's it. Yeah yeah, I could also say that I love rediscovering old favorites, or experimenting with combining, layering and repurposing my products, but at the end of the day - no, I just want to get them out of my stash. Not because they're bad products; I've thankfully learnt my lesson and never include product hates in my Projects anymore - but for some reason or another, I know they're nearing their time and I just want to give them that last chance. Or, uhm, more like multiple months of daily wear number of chances. They may be old favorites I've abandoned at some point and no longer remember why; they may be products I've worn only a handful of times and don't know very well; they may be products I already have functional dupes/ back-ups of already in my stash. Either way, I just know I don't really need them anymore, and want them gone.

So if I want them gone so bad, why wouldn't I just declutter them, or in case or really old products, pitch them straight in the trash? Well, uhm, because like I said above - I mostly like, or at least used to like these products, and getting rid of them straight away triggers a lot of guilty feelings. And then it does happen on occasion that I just didn't know the product very well, and including it in a Project Pan makes me realize how much I actually enjoy it. But I don't think guilt trips are such fantastic motivation to make yourself use a certain product for months at a time. And in my two and a half years of panning, I've realized there's a lot of downsides to my method.

Unfortunately, I believe most project panners fall into the phenomenon of absolutely hating at least some of their chosen products at some point in their Project Pans. Obviously sometimes, a product just turns out to be a complete dud, but even in the case of the good ones, forcing yourself to use them day in and day out can quickly turn a favorite into 'I just can't look at you anymore'. You may have included your Holy Grail red lipstick in your challenge, but do you really now want to wear it a couple times a week? What if it turns out you're not into red lips at the moment? This is something I've privately dubbed 'abusing your make-up products'. You'd rather wear a My Lips But Better shade, but you've made the committment, so you reach for the red anyway. What used to be a cherished shade for special occasions becomes a high maintenance make-up statement you're dreading to wear on a casual Tuesday.

What I'm trying to point out is that whatever product selection you pull out for a given Project, those products become the driving force of your make-up style and application for the duration of the Project. Here are examples of some conundrums I've personally come across during my challenges: I like contour and bronzer SOMETIMES for certain looks, but I absolutely don't want to wear them every day with everything. I really like shimmery cream eyeshadows, but no, I don't want to wear shimmer on my eyes every day for months. I enjoy wearing a bold lip, but I'd rather decide spontaneously when and which shade exactly as opposed to making myself wear a deep berry at least twice a week. When I make myself wear these products as if on a schedule, I lose the joy of wearing precisely what I want at the time. That makes me feel frustrated, and unhappy with my make-up, or even itching to buy more products for my collection just to feel inspired again - even though I may already have things in my stash I could use to achieve my desired look.

Some of you may say that what I'm describing here can be easily avoided if I just allowed myself to rotate my chosen products with other things in my stash when I feel like switching my looks. However, based on my individual experience, I can't do that at all if I'm hoping to finish my Project Pan products in a reasonable amount of time. And by reasonable, I don't mean a short amount of time at all - in fact, I'm absolutely incapable of using up anything within a couple months. Examples of my personal panning 'times': 3-4 months for a creamy pencil eyeliner. 4 months for a lipstick or lip gloss when rotated with two other lip products. At least 12 months for a pressed face powder and foundation. Closer to 2 years - or more - for a concealer. Probably about 2 years for a bronzer or a blush, used exclusively. Don't even want to think how long for an eyeshadow palette - here's my progress on the small-ish Nude'Tude, used for 8 months straight. See what I mean? If I was also wearing other make-up while trying to finish items from my Project Pans, I would probably need to spend over a year doing just one little challenge.

And ultimately, what for? Just to proudly display my empty make-up containers for all the Internet to see? To feel a little less guilty about having a crap ton of stuff in my collection that will never be used up completely? What am I trying to prove to myself? Maybe the time has come for me to finally accept that most of my make-up will expire before I'm able to finish it. Is that such a bad thing? Is it so terribly wasteful to pass on, or toss an eyeshadow before I scrape the last bits out the pan? Can't I just enjoy it for as long as I want and then simply move on?

I've realized that I don't want to force myself to use anything in my stash at the expense of completely abandoning other perfectly good products that I'm naturally more inclined to wear at the time. While in theory, it makes sense to get good use of older or less used products first instead of constantly reaching for the same selection of current favorites, in practice you're just making yourself miserable by preventing yourself from using what you're inspired by at the time. Make-up should be fun, right? Then why go to all these lengths to make it seem like a chore?

Now, I feel the need to point out the obvious and say that this is just MY (current) experience. I do feel a great sense of achievement in finishing make-up products and I think it's a lot of fun to share my make-up empties here on the blog or on Instagram. However, that fleeting satisfaction from seeing a large amount of pan in my powder doesn't outweight the fact that I'd probably much rather be using something else and just remove the damn thing from my sight. Your experience may be different though; make-up is extremely personal and I can see a whole number of reasons why panning may work much better for other people. So you do you - I'm just trying to explain why it no longer works for me. You know, all in the spirit of friendly discussion :)

This is also not to say I'll never finish another make-up product in my life - I AM hoping to use up things in my collection, but I'd just much rather not put any deadline on myself to do so. I'd rather it happen organically and spontaneously, just by me wearing what I feel like at any given time. I now want to get to know every single product in my stash, not just a select handful. I'm hoping that by having a better grasp on everything I own, I will not only become more creative and satisfied with my looks, but maybe also be able to further downsize my make-up stash (uhm, we'll see about that). In terms of an actual 'game plan', I'm planning to utilize the 'make-up basket' system from now on - basically rotate my products every couple weeks or so to make full use of my stash. I don't want to be super strict about it though - if I feel like using something else and have the exact picture in my mind of the product/look I'm aiming for, I'll just reach for that instead. If after a couple months, I notice there are certain products I'm actively avoiding in the rotation, then that's a good indicator that they should hit the road. We shall see how that works out - let me know if you sometimes want to see my make-up baskets in the form of a blog post!

How do you feel about Project Pans and using up make-up in general? Is this a system that works great for you or you can't even imagine making yourself reach for a specific dozen of products for a few months? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Revisited Step: NYX Slide On Lip Liner in Nude Suede Shoes

Remember when I said lip liners were entirely superfluous products in my make-up bag? Yeah, that was 2.5 years ago now, and nearly all of the lip liners shown in that post have since been decluttered. Until a few weeks ago, my lip liner stash consisted of a red and a universal transparent liner, and I found myself hankering after something else - a neutral nude shade to define the contours of my lips for a more perfected everyday look.
What I've been noticing more lately about my lips is that my natural lip line is not very well defined; the pigment of my lips gets sort of fainter and uneven towards the contours of my lips, and on top of that, I have freckles exactly on my lip line (especially top lip) which make it look even more messy. I don't mind it most of the time, especially when I'm wearing a sheer lip (either a gloss or tinted balm) - but when I opt for a more pigmented lipstick in a shade deeper than a very pale nude, the haziness of my lip line becomes very obvious and the overall look is sort of unfinished. I sometimes use concealer around my lips to help with that, but I thought lip liner could be a quicker option with the benefit of prolonging the wear on my lip products and preventing them from bleeding outside my lips.
To cut my long story short, I decided to pull the trigger on NYX Slide On Glide On Waterproof Lip Liner in Nude Suede Shoes ($7.99 for 0.04 oz) after hearing it recommended numerous times by Emily Noel on YouTube. I liked my NYX Slide On eyeliner pencils in the past (reviewed here - those two dried out though and had to be thrown out!), so I thought this product was worth trying out, even though the price is quite up there compared to other drugstore lip liner options.
The NYX Slide On Lip Liner is a simple non retractable pencil that easily sharpens with my Urban Decay Grindhouse. The formula is similar to that of the eye Slide-ons, meaning gel-like, very soft, creamy, smooth and highly pigmented. It's one of those newer generation lip pencils that glide on the lips without tugging, and are easy to blend out before they set. The finish is completely matte, no shimmer whatsoever, and I can't detect any scent to the product. On my lips, it doesn't feel too too drying, but I'd also say it's not entirely budge-proof: it will partially come off on cups or during a meal, but it certainly enhances the wear time of more emollient or glossy products layered over the top.
L-R: NYX Nude Suede Shoes, Maybelline Color Sensational Lipstick in Warm Me Up, Ilia Beauty Lipstick in The Brides, Bite High Pigment Lip Pencil in Sable
Now, is the shade Nude Suede Shoes my perfect natural nude? Uhm, not really - but it's still a lot better than other 'nude' lip liners I've had in the past. On me, it pulls a beigy brown shade that sits somewhere between darker nude and a My Lips But Better in terms of depth. I believe that on people with warmer (and deeper) skintones, it would be that ideal muted pink nude for everyday. As you may be able to tell, with my coloring, NYX Nude Suede Shoes is more of that trendy Kylie Jenner lip - I don't necessarily hate it but it's slightly out of my comfort zone. Compared to my favorite darker nude lipsticks, Nude Suede Shoes is definitely warmer and more brown.
NYX Slide On Lip Liner in Nude Suede Shoes worn all over bare lips on NW15 skintone.
That doesn't disqualify it though as a layering option. Sure, it doesn't pair well with very cool/ mauve nudes and MLBBs in my stash, but it does work with the two lipsticks from the right side of my swatch (ILIA The Brides - sneaky peaky of their Fall 2016 release - and a now completely used up Bite Sable High Pigment Lip Pencil), and a lot of my sheer nude options, especially when used with a lighter hand and softly blended in. It's also a lip liner you could absolutely wear on its own, but as you may be able to see in the mug shot, currently my poor dry lips can't take that matte finish without something creamier/ more emollient layered over the top.

I've also realized why I really have such a love/ hate relationship with lip liners. When I give myself a more defined and filled in lip contour (I'm not talking about over lining here! Just evening out my natural lip line), my lips instantly look A LOT bigger. And I'm not used to seeing myself with such full lips - even without lining they're kinda on the big side, and with the liner, I feel like my face is dominated by those fat pouty lips. I'm guessing you guys are probably rolling your eyes at me right now, but for whatever reason, I haven't been able to fully embrace that look on me (also, some people have commented my lips have gotten even bigger/ more swollen in pregnancy). I don't know though - maybe it's time to just go with it and experiment with playing up my lips instead of the eyes? We shall see.

Back to the NYX Nude Suede Shoes, I think it's a really good drugstore lip liner and I would safely recommend it - just be aware that if your coloring is similar to mine, it's not going to be a real nude on you. I actually picked up another drugstore lip liner in the same order that's a lot more of a cool mauve shade, so I shall experiment (and review) that one next. Do you guys wear lip liners? Is it an indispensible part of your make-up routine or something you only pull out for special occasions?

Monday, October 17, 2016

Welcome to the World, Little Julian Edgar!

If you follow me on Instagram, you may already know that on Monday October 3rd, I had my precious baby boy, Julian Edgar. He was born strong and healthy at 5.55pm and has been nothing but a joy to his whole extended family ever since.
Less than 24 hours old in this photo; he's turning 2 weeks old today!

I'm not planning to share a detailed labor and delivery story - I just think it's quite private and maybe not all of you would appreciate the extra information - but let me just say that I was forunate to have a normal, relatively stress-free birth, although it turned out to be a bit of a slow going; I started having contractions at about 1am so about 16-17 hours altogether. I did opt to have an epidural and I absolutely do not regret it as I believe it helped me keep my strength til the very end. At 2 weeks post-partum, I'm feeling quite well though the recovery process is not without its challenges; but I'm learning to accept my limitations and to be grateful to my body for bringing us our beautiful son without complications.

We're also incredibly blessed to have a very chill baby. Our son eats voraciously and sleeps like a champ (okay, not going to lie - he pees and poops a lot too ;), and so far - knock on wood - we're adapting to life with a newborn without any major issues. That being said, things are going to be a lot slower now on the blogging and social media fronts, as I'm sure you all understand. Prior to Julian's arrival, I have scheduled lots of posts for you to enjoy before I'm back to full - or maybe just half, let's not get too ambitious - speed.

Thank you for all the congrats and well wishes, I really appreciate you sending good vibes our way. Hugs to all of you from our new family of three!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Glotion Trend: Tatcha Pore Perfecting Water Gel* Review

It comes as no surprise to say that I'm a fan of Tatcha skincare ever since I tried two of the original products from the range, the One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil and the Rice Enzyme Powder (here), which I still use in my skincare routine today. So I'm always looking forward to trying out their new releases, and I was especially excited to trial the Tatcha Balanced Pore Perfecting Water Gel Moisturizer* ($68 for 50ml/ 1.7 fl oz, available at and Sephora). My skintype is combination pretty much all year round, but in the summer it tends to get especially oily, so this moisturizing gel seemed like a match made in heaven for my skin.
The Pore Perfecting Water Gel quickly became 'the' skincare product of summer 2016. Wherever I turned, I heard nothing but raves - it was part of Sephora's 'Glotion' campaign, and every self-respecting beauty guru had it and touted it as a firm favorite. It seems to me that within a few months, it already became a cult classic everyone needed in their routine. I received mine a little later - in mid July - and have since been testing it as an integral part of my morning skincare routine.
On that note: I realize it is now October and beauty stories have already turned to nourishing products for the colder season. Yes, it would have been more fitting of me to put up this review in July or August when there was potentially more interest in a lightweight summer moisturizer. However, this is not how I work. I just don't think it's fair to you guys to write a full review of a product - especially when it's skincare, and expensive skincare at that - after just a few weeks of testing. When I trial a new product, I do need to use it consistently for at least a couple months to firmly establish what I think of it and rule out any hasty conclusions. In the case of the Tatcha Water Gel Moisturizer, I have tried it on bare skin, with different toners and serums underneath, and layered with several sunscreens, make-up primers and foundations over the top to fully evaluate its performance. I know there's a constant pressure in the beauty community to be the first to feature a newly released product and I do feel it too - but what's the point if I can't give you my honest and balanced opinion? My personal priority will always be to provide a thorough and detailed review instead of staying abreast of every trend. I hope you understand :)
Okay, rant over - let's get back to the point. Tatcha's Pore Perfecting Water Gel claims to offer 'ultralight, oil-balancing hydration', and 'features Japanese Wild Rose, Leopard Lily and Dokudami extracts to balance and clarify skin, while visibly tightening pores in 28 days'. There's also a fine 23 karat gold dust suspended in the formula, which aims to impart a shine-free glow to the skin. The ingredients list includes lots of lovely botanical extracts (green tea, rice, chamomile, licorice, silk, algae) as well as glycerin, propanediol and squalane from olive oil. The product comes in a sleek pistachio green glass bottle with a hygenic pump dispenser, and the gel itself has a definite herbal scent (maybe the closest to chamomile tea?) that dissipates quickly once on the skin - there's no artifical fragrance in this. One pump is sufficient for my whole face.
The Water Gel is especially recommended for normal, combination to oily skin types or to be used as a primer prior to make-up application. Unfortunately, after testing it in every way I could think of, I have to conclude it just doesn't work for my combination skin. Yes, the texture is a liquidy gel and it seems like it should absorb quickly into the skin - but for me, it just never fully sinks in, no matter how long I wait. Every time I tested it, the Water Gel left an unpleasant sticky residue on my face. It definitely hydrates my skin, but I just can't get over the feel of it on my face, and if I attempt to use it in combination with another hydrating serum underneath or even my regular sunscreen over the top, the end result is way too tacky, heavy and shiny. I also haven't noticed any improvement in the appearance of my pores; if anything, the shiny finish accentuates them under my make-up (there's no glitter or sparkle though so rest assured - I can't see any shimmer particles once I apply it to my face, it's just the actual shiny finish of the gel itself). It also doesn't prolong the wear of my make-up at all - on the contrary, I can see my foundation breaking down on the T-zone faster than with other moisturizers. In comparison, the Tatcha Overnight Memory Serum Concentrate (reviewed here), aimed for evening use and dry & dehydrated skin types, feels less sticky and more comfortable on my skin than the Pore Perfecting Water Gel. Yes, it doesn't really make sense - but such is my personal experience with this product.
I am not saying that the Pore Perfecting Water Gel is a bad moisturizer and you shouldn't give it a try - I'm saying it simply doesn't work for me. Skincare can be weird like that; maybe one of the key ingredients in this product just doesn't mesh well with my skin. But since I haven't really seen any negative - or uhm, even lukewarm - reviews of the Water Gel in the blogosphere, I wanted to add my thoughts into the mix. Have you already tried the Pore Perfecting Water Gel? Have you ever purchased a hyped-up product that just didn't work for your skin?

Disclaimer: Product featured in this post is a press sample I received from the brand's PR for review consideration. All links are non-affiliate. All opinions are 100% honest and unbiased, no matter if the product featured was purchased with my own money or provided free of charge. Thank you for reading! 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Natural Matte: Kat Von D Lock-it Setting Powder* & Setting Powder Brush* Review

This just goes to show what a bad beauty blogger I am - previously to having been sent the new Kat Von D Beauty Lock-it Setting Powder in Translucent* ($30 for 0.67 oz/ 19g) and the accompanying Lock-it Setting Powder Brush* ($38 each), I hadn't owned a loose face powder. I know the beauty sphere is all abuzz with the baking techniques and what not, but yeah... I was not on board of that particular bandwagon.
It's been such a nice change of pace though to once again experiment with setting my face using a loose powder. My loose face powder experience is a little limited - I only used Makeup For Ever HD (disliked) & bareMinerals Mineral Veil (alright) in the past - so I was curious to see how the Kat Von D Lock-it would perform on my combination skin type. The product comes in a generous 19g jar with a screw-on lid and a sifter (how do you like that star-shaped design?); very sturdy and straightforward although I wish there was an option to close the sifter for travel/ storage like in the Laura Mercier loose powders. This powder comes in one universal Translucent shade; in the jar, it looks very fair with a slight yellow undertone, but it is colorless on my fair skin (can't comment how it would perform on deep skintones - best to give it a swatch at Sephora). The product is also vegan, cruelty- and fragrance-free.
 The claims for the Lock-it Setting Powder include a 'smooth, seamless look' thanks to more weightless mica powders used in the formula, 'softly diffused pores' and a 'velvety matte finish'. For setting the entire face, the brand recommends the Lock-it Setting Powder Brush (reviewed below), while for the purpose of under-eye baking or setting, they've created a Precision Powder Brush. When you take a closer look at the INCI list, mica is indeed the first ingredient, followed by talc - beware if you're allergic. The powder also contains corn starch, jojoba esters and soybean oil.
As for the performance of this powder on my face after testing it for over a month, I like it but I'm not entirely in love with it. What I like is that indeed, this powder feels more lightweight and less chalky on my skin than something like the silica-based MUFE HD. I also enjoy the soft matte finish; it's definitely not a dry, flat matte but it still helps to blur the appearance of pores or skin texture. When used lightly with the brand's Setting Powder Brush, it does set and prolong the wear of my foundation but it doesn't completely stop the oilies from coming through a few hours after application (which is more or less standard across all setting/ mattifying powders I've tried to date). And while I can't quite push myself to do a proper heavy 'bake' with the Lock-it powder on my face, I have tried a more low-key version - setting my T-zone and under-eye area by pressing the powder into the skin on a damp Beautyblender. I was quite pleasantly surprised by the results; I expected my face to look cakey but instead I got a smooth, natural-looking velvet finish that managed to diffuse the pores on the center of my face as well as fine lines under my eyes. I've also noticed that I got a lot less shiny throughout the day when I used this method. So I guess low-key baking is my new favorite thing :)
And while a damp Beautyblender seems to give me more impressive results when used with the Lock-it Setting Powder, that is not to say that I don't like the Kat Von D Setting Powder Brush. Quite the opposite in fact; it's a beautiful, high-quality, soft, fluffy powder brush that's fantastic for lightly dusting the face, getting rid of excess product or even blending out a strong blush, bronzer or contour. Like other brushes in the Kat Von D range, it's synthetic with a long, tapered acrylic handle.
The shape of the bristles is a little different than a standard large domed face powder brush; instead, it's more elongated and a little less dense/ more floppy than what you may be used to. It just so happens that I have two other brushes with similar shapes - the Zoeva 101 Luxe Face Definer (reviewed here) is slightly stiffer, more dense and comes to more of a point, while the DUcare Powder Brush from their 10 Piece Essential Travel Collection has shorter bristles and a rounder dome profile. While I enjoy using my Zoeva for bronzer or contour, the Kat Von D Setting Powder Brush definitely feels softer and gentler for setting my whole face, and it picks up just the right amount of powder.

Overall, I like both of these Lock-it Setting products from Kat Von D, and they've become new staples in my everyday make-up bag. I do enjoy the increased versatility that a loose setting powder has to offer in comparison to a regular pressed one (being able to use it as a base under foundation, to lightly set over liquid bases, and to 'low-key bake') but I'll stick to my powder compacts for travel and touch-ups. The brush is a lovely addition to my collection and I'd definitely recommend it if you're looking for high-quality synthetic bristles. Now tell me - do you do the bake? Or only when we're talking about muffins, scones, cookies and cakes?

Disclaimer: Items marked with an asterix (*) are press samples I received from Influenster for testing purposes. All links are non-affiliate. All opinions are 100% honest and unbiased, no matter if the products featured were purchased with my own monies or provided free of charge. Thank you for reading!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Beauty Empties: 3rd Quarter of 2016

I was really dreading spilling out my bag of beauty trash this time around, but actually, it turned out I had quite a few bulkier items and not that many products in total. If you'd like to see what I used up in the past three months and some items I kept repurchasing, keep reading!
Let's start with skincare empties. It seems like I finished nearly all of these months ago because I already have a few more products on their last legs - but I guess those will be featured in the next quarter.
Products I disliked and wouldn't repurchase: None really; all of these did the job.
Products I enjoyed, but I'm trying out other things: Clarins Gentle Exfoliator Brightening Toner (reviewed here), Paula's Choice Hydralight One Step Face Cleanser* & Hydralight Daily Mineral Complex SPF30* (both reviewed here), NUDE Omega Cleansing Jelly (reviewed here)
Products I would repurchase (but am probably trying out other things too): Laneige Water Bank Serum* (reviewed here, would purchase again for the winter), Avebio Rock Rose Hydrosol (Cistus Flower Water).
I finished a lot of make-up this time around as well, thanks to my recent Project 13 Pan. I've included nail care bits in here for lack of a better place to put them.
Products I disliked and wouldn't repurchase: In the end, I wasn't a fan of the Laneige Cushion Concealer, reviewed here, and the China Glaze No Chip Top Coat always took ages to dry.
Products I enjoyed, but I'm trying out other things: BITE Beauty High Pigment Lip Pencil in Sable (LE), Badger Pink Grapefruit Lip Balm, Hourglass Mineral Veil Primer (reviewed here), Pixi Endless Silky Eye Pen in Black Noir (here)
Products I would repurchase (but am probably trying out other things too): Buxom Lip Cream in Cherry Flip (reviewed here), NYX Micro Brow Pencil (here), OPI Nail Lacquer in Red Lights Ahead... Where?
As for bodycare, it looks like all I did was constantly shower and slather myself in body moisturizers - which isn't far from the truth, to be honest, but Mr helped with finishing all the shower gels.
Products I disliked and wouldn't repurchase: The Body Shop Moringa Body Milk (out of the three different body moisturizer formulas I've tried from The Body Shop - milk, lotion and body butter - I like the body butters the best and I'm currently using the Coconut one).
Products I enjoyed, but I'm trying out other things:  Nuxe Reve de Miel Shower Gel, The Body Shop Chocomania Body Lotion
Products I would repurchase (but am probably trying out other things too): Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse (already using another bottle), Suave Body Washes (in an assortment of scents), Secret Gel Antiperspirant.
Not too many products in the haircare department - just the Batiste Dry Shampoo in the Tropical scent (my favorite) and the Maple Holistics Degrease Shampoo, out of which I may repurchase the Batiste, although my current favorite is the Aveda Dry Shampure.
A handful of sheet masks - my absolute favorite out of this bunch is the Soo Ae Donkey Milk Aqua Skin Gel Mask, the least favorite and one I would strongly discourage you from ever picking up is the Freeman Feeling Beautiful Purifying Paper Mask with Starfish - possibly the worst sheet mask I've ever put on my face.
Miscellaneous samples, mostly perfume; out of these, I liked Rouge Bunny Rouge Tenera the best, but I think it's not too far off from my beloved Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan, which lasts longer on my skin. I also quite enjoyed Atelier Silver Iris, but wouldn't pay full price for a bottle.
Now for half-used make-up tosses; The Body Shop Honey Bronzing Powder and the Maybelline Color Tattoo in Just Beige were part of my Project Pan as well and are now quite old and battered to be used. The rest - two very old NYX lip liners in Cherry Red and Purple, Beaute Fluoron Lip Stain and two nail polishes - are also too old to keep around. I wouldn't repurchase any of these products in the near future although I used to love The Body Shop bronzer when it was newer.
And finally, miscellanous skincare and haircare tosses. All of these products are half used-up and most are expired, although I have to say that I disliked the Noxidoxi Detox Cleanser* so much that I couldn't force myself to use up the remaining half even though the product is still good. I wasn't a huge fan of the Paula's Choice Resist BHA 9 and wouldn't recommend it, but I liked the Healthy Sexy Hair Soy Renewal Beach Spray and the Avene Cicalfate Repair Cream (reviewed here), although I have to say I don't reach for either very often and could probably eliminate them from my beauty stash.

I hope you enjoyed this round of my beauty empties and let me know if you have further questions about any of these products. I'm still steadily working through my stash of back-up skincare but I did have to repurchase some bodycare essentials recently, which made me really happy - it's nice not having this huge backlog of products lingering in the cupboards anymore and just being able to pick something up when it's needed. What was your favorite product you've finished recently?

Disclaimer: Products marked with an asterix (*) were press samples I received from the brands' PR for review consideration. I purchased all the other products myself or they were gifted to me by friends and family. All links are non-affiliate. All opinions are 100% honest and unbiased, no matter if the products featured were purchased with my own monies or provided free of charge. Thank you for reading!