Thursday, April 23, 2015

Major Zoeva Brush Haul: Rose Golden Goodness

Last month I jumped on the Zoeva bandwagon and placed a generous haul because I did a massive clean out of the cheap brushes that I've had since I first started experimenting with makeup. The result? Two of the rose gold brush sets and a single brush from their standard line for $144. That's 21 brushes in total so about $6.85 for each brush with shipping factored in, making these less expensive than Sigma. I would take advantage of the favorable euro to dollar exchange rate if you've been thinking about getting these brushes.

The Rose Golden Luxury Set is the perfect introduction set for a makeup beginner or anyone who wants a solid set of travel brushes. I purchased this set to test out a variety of face brushes at a decent price. The three different sized kabuki blending brushes were what drew me in the most. Also, the angled blush brush garnered many favorable reviews and I can say it's a pleasant addition to my collection. I love that each set comes with a branded pleather pouch that is actually good quality and something I would actually use.

Pictured above from largest to smallest are the 106 Powder, 102 Silk Finish and 110 Face Shape. The powder brush is not the softest synthetic brush I've ever felt and can hinge on scratchy if I try to run the bristles against the surface of my face (which I don't try to do purposely). The Silk Finish is a great foundation brush and a more dense version of the Real Techniques Buffing Brush. The Face Shape is a great brush for blending large areas of concealer or cream highlight and contour products.

The Rose Golden Complete Eye Set comes with every brush you need to do your eye makeup. To be honest, these brushes were not as good as I had hoped them to be. The blending brushes in particular are not as soft as I had wanted them to be. They still do the job but they do not compare to my brushes from Mac, Chikuhodo or Wayne Goss. That is to be expected given the vast difference in price although I did see a number of reviews comparing these to Hakuhodo brushes. The angled liner brush is also surprisingly flimsy so not my favorite for applying eyeliner of any kind. I also experienced shedding with a few of the natural fibered (white) brushes. It wasn't a lot of lost hair but I thought I should mention it.

I would recommend just the Rose Golden Luxury Set instead of both sets because there are a few repeated brushes. I like the concealer buffing brush and the blending brushes are useable so I don't mind. These four brushes are pretty standard and ones that you'll have to clean frequently anyway so it's good to have some backups.

Another benefit of the Rose Golden Luxury Set is the short handles which make these good travel brushes. I personally prefer short handled brushes because they fit easier in my hands and I can get up closer to a mirror. 

Here is how the brushes looked when squeezed into the clear case that contained the single face brush that I also ordered. Most of the brushes also came packaged with plastic sleeves which you can see on some of the eye brushes in the photo above. I think this is a nice touch and a good resource to have when traveling so your brushes don't get very dirty.

I've saved possibly my favorite brush for last: the 109 Luxe Face Paint. This I purchased with the sole intention of using it as a contour brush for precise bronzer application. This brush is very soft and the perfect size and shape to place color in the hollows of your cheeks to give you the illusion of sharper cheekbones. If you can only purchase a few brushes, I urge you to pick this one up if you like to contour.

That sums up my thoughts on the Zoeva brushes I purchased after a few weeks of use. These aren't the best brushes I've ever used and they have a few faults such as the minor shedding and not being as ultra soft as I had wished. But for the price point, these are well made brushes and I'm glad these have become my new everyday brushes instead of still having to deal with $3 brushes from E.L.F whose ferules fell apart every few months. There are many more face brushes from the brand that I'm eyeing that I might pick up in the future. What do you think of Zoeva? Have you tried any of their brushes or makeup? Any recommendations for must-haves?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Learning to Let Go of Unloved Makeup

Today's post will be a relatively short one because it's essentially a self-congratulatory pat on the back for finally making strides to let go of makeup I hardly use. It's not that I hate the products I picked out of my stash to throw away or give to some friends; I just never use these things. I wasted the money when I bought these things so I'm not really wasting more by keeping them or forcing myself to use them up. Above is the pile I gathered after one sweep of all my makeup drawers. Some things were easy to pick out, like the Bdellium eye brush and ancient Revlon Matte Blush (which has already been tossed). The E.L.F blushes are great $3 blushes but I never use them so what's the point of having them around when I have nicer blushes I prefer using?

I decided to do a second sweep because I knew I had gone easy on myself the first time. I ended up picking out a few more expensive items including a Bobbi Brown cream eyeshadow and a Cargo blush. Both of them are perfectly fine products but the shade of cream shadow looks awful on me and the blush is not something I reach for. I had two shattered blushes which I salvaged into little containers but I never used them again so into the garbage they went. I used to like the Hard Candy Fox in a Box Blush back when I had only a few blushes. But now, I have well over 30 so no point in keeping that around. The Physician's Formula palette is great but I don't think I've ever used it on my eyes. I probably bought it during a 40% off sale just because I know I like those palettes but didn't think too hard about if I would wear the colors.

I've been hauling a lot of new makeup recently and this de-stashing makes me feel a bit more at ease. A lot of things I destashed this time around are products I bought years ago and I feel that I have better taste in products now. Hopefully there won't be as much destashing in the future. How do you decide when products need to find a new home?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Laura Mercier Eye Art Artist's Palette: The Neutral Palette You NEED

I'm a compulsive wishlist-maker and products usually stay on that list for months to years until they make it to my collection. The Laura Mercier Eye Art Artist's Palette skipped to the top of my wishlist when I saw they re-released this limited edition palette last week. This palette originally debuted in 2013 and I had wanted it but I was a boot strapped college student so couldn't justify a $48 eyeshadow palette on a whim. Well they've raised the price to $55 but I couldn't stop thinking about this beautiful palette of 12 shades I could see myself using very often. 

This palette sold out quickly online and I wanted to wait for the measly 10% off from the Sephora sale. Yes, I'm only a Beauty Insider and not a VIB (although that might change this year). The Laura Mercier area at the Soho location was wiped clean of these palettes and I had almost given up after several sales associates said this was sold out. On my way out, I asked one last sales person and he knew of another display in the store where they had new eyeshadow palettes and there was at least half a dozen of these still left! I seriously wanted to give the guy a hug. That is how much I wanted this palette.... 

There are six mattes, two lusters and four sateens. I love a mix of shimmery and matte shadows so a half/half split is perfect. Each pan holds 1 gram or .03 ounces which is about a third less than your typical full sized shadow. So in comparison to the Urban Decay Naked Palettes, this palette gives you a third less product and is a dollar more expensive. However, I think the quality of these shadows is superior to Urban Decay ones. 

My first photo didn't quite capture the beautiful shadows well enough. African Violet is the star of the palette for me. It is a warm lavendar with gold shimmer. I wore it all over my eyelids today and it captures the light beautifully. The brown shadow diagonal from it is Bamboo and possibly my second favorite shade. Although African Violet and Bamboo are both described as luster finishes, I didn't find them to contain glitter and they did not cause fall out.

All of the shades are buttery smooth and pigmented. I love the range of colors in this palette because some other palettes have too many dark or light shades. This palette has the perfect balance of highlight shades, all over lid shades and dark definer shades. Some neutral palettes have too many shades that look too similar. Laura Mercier did a fabulous job of choosing shades that are noticeably different. Guava and Primrose look similar in the pan but on the skin Guava has a strong golden-pink sheen whereas Primrose is a shimmery pink. Also, I don't think these shades are easily dupeable unlike many other palettes out there.

The swatches speak for themselves here. All of these were just one swipe on my arm so you can see how much payoff you get. There is no powdery fallout and these blend like a dream on your eyelids. It is honestly hard to top this palette in terms of value for money. At $55 this is a high-end product but you get a lot more for your buck with the fashion luxury brands like Dior, Chanel and Burberry. 

I'm so glad I scooped up this palette and highly recommend it to anyone who loves eyeshadow palettes. The quality is so good, the colors are well edited and when you think about the price per shadow, you're only paying about $4.5 for each. Watch the video above to see live swatches and all the nuanced beauty in HD glory and tell me you don't need this in your stash. Did you pick up this palette in 2013? Thinking about acquiring this now? Let me know your thoughts!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Trying Out Shiseido's New Perfecting Stick Concealer

In theory, base products in stick form seem very non-fuss and easy to use. After trying my first one in the form of Shiseido's new Perfecting Stick Concealer*, I have to agree that this is one of the better methods for applying makeup on the go. I had concerns that a stick concealer would be more drying than a liquid one but Shiseido claims this product will melt into the skin, not crease or fade and deliver moisture. Sounds like a dream come true for a relatively affordable high-end product that retails for $25.

This concealer stick is packaged in a lightweight but sturdy dark plastic case. In the first photo I've twisted all the product up so you can see how much is in the tube. There are six shades to choose from and I am currently the lightest shade in 11 light. I know there are many people who are lighter than I am so not everyone will be able to find a shade match.

This concealer offers light to medium, but buildable, coverage. Here I've swatched it heavily on my arm to give you a sense of the color. Normally I would use the pad of my finger to warm up the product in the tube then apply straight to a spot I want to conceal. I wouldn't recommend applying straight to your face as you'll use too much and end up looking cakey.

Above I've blended out the original swatch and you can barely tell I have any product on my arm. On smooth surfaces of skin, this concealer blends very well and look undetectable. If you have broken capillaries and old sun spots or acne scars, you'll probably find this concealer useful.

However, when this concealer encounters textured surfaces, it doesn't fare quite as well. Above I've used it as an undereye concealer. It definitely brightens my sad dark circles but it also leans a bit ashy and I much prefer the Shiseido Sheer Eye Zone Corrector. The stick concealer is also a no-go for healing spots as it really clings to dry patches and flakes. It emphasized those spots and didn't do a good job or concealing them at all.

If you have great skin and need a handy concealer to cover redness or non-textural skin woes, the Shiseido Perfecting Stick Concealer might be a great one, particularly if your skin leans oily. For everyone else, I think you might have to keep looking.

*This product was provided by PR. All opinions are my own.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Late on the Bandwagon: Nars Orgasm Blush

Does anyone talk about Nars' infamous Orgasm blush anymore? For many years this peachy pink blush dominated the top blush charts of magazines and blogs. I have no doubt that the cheeky name had at least something to do with the popularity. Somehow I never got around to purchasing this blush and only acquired a baby version from a gift with purchase. So how does this well-known blush fare? Is it worth all the hype?

If you like a glitterbomb of a blush, you'll definitely like Orgasm. You can see above that the swatch is 85% shimmer. The dark pinkish peach base is loaded with fine golden shimmer that disperses evenly across the skin. I don't detest shimmer in blush as it allows me to skip highlighter and adds a touch of luminosity the skin. I think this is a great blush topper layered over a matte shade. I recommend applying with a fluffy brush and tapping off excess glitter particles beforehand. 

Nars Orgasm isn't a must-have by any stretch of my imagination. If you want a peachy pink blush from Nars, I recommend Deep Throat (another cringey name) instead. Deep Throat is a touch more pink, has less shimmer and packs a lot more pigment so you have lovely flushed cheeks every time you wear it. What do you guys think of Nars Orgasm? Love it? Hate it? Does anyone even talk about it anymore?!