Sunday, January 31, 2016

Exfoliation for Dry & Sensitive Skin: Laneige Multiberry Yogurt Peeling Gel*

Have you heard about peeling gels? They're a very popular product on the Japanese and Korean markets, with cult favorites such as the Cure Natural Aqua Gel or the cheap as chips Skinfood Pineapple Morning Peeling Gel flying off the shelves. The US brands have already jumped on board with high-end options from Peter Thomas Roth and Boscia now available at Sephora.
Let me start this review by saying that I think most peeling gels are completely bogus. The idea is that you spread this gel on your dry face, massage it in, and you're left with clumps of dead skin that can then be washed off. As soon as I heard that claim I was about 98% sure that those 'dead skin clumps' were just the product balling up on itself. This has mostly been confirmed by Lab Muffin in this experiment - there may be some dead skin in those flakes you're seeing, but the whole concept is quite gimmicky.
However, when I was sent the Laneige Multiberry Yogurt Peeling Gel* ($22 for 120 ml/ 4 fl oz) for review, which is one of the most popular peeling gels on the market, I wasn't completely opposed to trying it out, especially that my skin has become too dehydrated and sensitive for my usual manual exfoliation methods - as much as I love TATCHA's Rice Enzyme Powder* (reviewed here), it can leave my face feeling quite dry and squeaky.
The Multiberry Peeling Gel claims to 'exfoliate dead skin cells and impurities with natural Konjac beads and chestnut extract'. The product also contains 'Sogurty™, a specialized fermented yogurt, [which] provides anti-inflammatory benefits', as well as an antioxidant berry complex. The texture of this product is a creamy gel with tiny little bits of something that looks like a cellulose sponge to me - I'm guessing those are the Konjac beads. There are no dreadful polyethylene (plastic) microbeads in this product.
I've tested this product on multiple occassions, on dry skin and slightly damp skin, on my face and my hands, and I do not think this is actually a peeling gel - it doesn't ball up and doesn't leave little gunky rolls on your face. To me, that's a plus - I've said already that the 'flakes' are just a gimmick - but the name of the product is a bit misleading if you were expecting a peeling gel in the Asian sense. Instead, the Laneige Peeling Gel remains creamy on the face, and exfoliates your face just with those tiny spongy bits - like a typical Western scrub would.
That being said, I actually quite like it. If you're expecting a heavy duty facial scrub, this is absolutely not for you. The Multiberry Yogurt gel is extremely gentle and thus not as effective at removing dry patches as a sugar scrub or a powder exfoliant like the TATCHA. It does however excel at softening dry skin and leaving your face smoother, hydrated and calm. My favorite way of using this product is actually as an occasional (2-3 times a week) morning cleanser: it doesn't strip my skin but gives at a somewhat deeper clean than my regular Andalou cream cleanser, and it washes away very easily - scrubs that are difficult to remove and leave scrubby bits all over my face and hair are one of my pet peeves. It also helps that it's a cheery baby pink color and smells very convincingly of strawberry yogurt. Yum.

I would recommend it to those with dry, dehydrated and/or sensitive skin looking for a very mild physical scrub or an exfoliating cream cleanser. I think you'd be disappointed if your skin is combo/oily and you were looking for something to help with clogged pores or pronounced flakiness - I'd suggest the Andalou Naturals Lemon Sugar Scrub or the Tatcha Rice Enzyme Powders instead. Have you tried a peeling gel before? What are your favorite manual exfoliants?

Disclaimer: Items marked with an asterix (*) are press samples I received from the brands' PR for review consideration. 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 as free press samples. Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Book Review: Korean Beauty Secrets by Kerry Thompson & Coco Park

I think it's safe to say that Korean beauty trends have taken our Western market by the storm. Just look at the number of Korean brands now available at Sephora, and we now even have cushion foundations sprouting at the drugstore - say whaaat? I've first become interested in Korean and Japanese beauty products in 2013, which is evidenced by a whole skew of reviews under my Asian Beauty label (you can browse them all here); and to this day, I remain convinced that there are some absolute gems among Asian brands.

So when I spotted the 'Korean Beauty Secrets: A Practical Guide to Cutting-Edge Skincare & Make-up' by Kerry Thompson & Coco Park at my local library, I immediately put it in my bag (well, okay - I checked it out first. No need to report theft, people). I have seen it featured on Instagram by some bloggers I follow, and I was really curious to see if there would be anything new or surprising to me in the book.

When I was first getting into Korean beauty, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of the previously unknown brands and rather confused by the names and terminology of the products. Treatment Essence? Bee Venom? Ampoule? Bird's Nest? Sleeping pack?! By doing some research on my own and leaning heavily on the knowledge and experience of my blogging pal Kar Yi, I was able to slowly but surely familiarize myself with the peculiarities of the Korean beauty market.

But even to this day, there are products and steps I'm not at all confident about, and with the fast pace of new products being constantly released on the market, there are always new things to learn about K-beauty. I can absolutely see how the idea for this book came about, and I applaud the authors - both beauty bloggers and Korean beauty fanatics - for identifying the niche and bringing out a guide to explain those new trends to us on the Western part of the hemisphere.

The book is divided into two parts: one focusing on skincare (which I believe may have been primarily written by Kerry) and the other on make-up (probably penned by Coco). Let's start with the skincare portion, which I'll admit was the one I was itching the most to read - and I'll say right off the bat that I was not disappointed.

The skincare chapters contain some important but basic topics like determining your skin type and concerns and provide a glossary and explanation of key skincare ingredients. While as a beauty fiend, I didn't find much new information in these pages, I thought they were well written and very helpful - I especially liked the explanation of humectants, occlusives and emollients (p. 29-31). But what I enjoyed the most in the skincare part of the book was the information provided on skincare routines, particularly the practical examples of Korean skincare routines from 9 beauty bloggers, all with different skin concerns and goals. To me, the different steps in Korean skincare routines and the order of layering products are probably the most confusing out of all the aspects of K-beauty, so it was fascinating to take a peek into what everyone was using and why.

I did struggle with some of the information provided and at times I wished that I could just email one of the writers or contributing bloggers and ask them questions about the reasoning behind certain skincare choices. For example, the 'Morning Routine Layering Examples' chart (p. 76) states that in an Advanced routine for Oily/ Combo skin, you could be using a BHA serum as your third step, then followed by Vitamin C as your fourth step. These suggestions bear a footnote detailing that there's an optional wait time for these pH-dependent products to maximize their efficacy, but if using both a BHA and Vit C products, both can be applied at the same time and then followed by a break. There's no additional information anywhere else in the book about pH-dependent products and how they work, nor do the authors explain why an acid and a Vitamin C product can be layered one after another. I realize that there is some more advanced chemistry know-how required to understand exactly how that works, but I wish that the authors elaborated on that at least a little bit more!

There were more examples of confusing information in the section dedicated to the specific beauty bloggers' routines - probably due more to the unclear nature of the information provided by said bloggers than the authors' own fault, but puzzling nonetheless. Why does Kerry follow what she dubbs as an acid toner (COSRX AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner) by another BHA treatment - isn't that overexfoliating the skin? (Not really - the COSRX Toner is more of a balancing toner and contains only about 0.1% acids - but that information is missing from the book). Why does Elisa from Memorable Days apply a Vitamin C serum first and then follow it by a toner - isn't she just wiping off the serum? (Nope - the toner she uses is really an essence, used without a cotton pad and patted into the skin instead). And so the list goes on. I also wish that the product categories section explained the difference between essences, serums and ampoules a little better, and gave more examples of specific products for all categories - like maybe the authors' recommendations for the best picks from both lower and higher ends of the price spectrum.

I have to say that I didn't really learn anything new from the make-up part of the book. The first section here describes all the different make-up product categories and gives recommendations for specific products with short-ish reviews. I found this part to be quite boring - the products are just listed one after the other - and I mostly browsed through this part.

The second part is a lot more interesting and features photos of Korean-inspired make-up looks created by Coco, with a short description of steps and products used. But even this more practical section failed to completely wow me - personally, I didn't like most of the looks, but aesthetics aside, I found them very simple and not all that different from the 'Western' looks I'm used to. I understand that the authors' intention may have been to present easy to achieve looks for beauty beginners, but even so, the section lacked close-up photographs of the eyes or step by step tutorial photos that would be the most helpful (I think). I would also have liked to see the inspiration behind these looks, like some photos of K-pop stars sporting the make-up or examples of street style. Maybe I'm nit-picking here; I guess I just wish there was more 'meat' to the make-up portion of the book.

All in all, I very much enjoyed 'Korean Beauty Secrets', and I would recommend it both to beauty fanatics new to Korean trends as well as those already familiar. I'm giving it 4 out of 5 stars (but mostly for the skincare half). It definitely inspired me to jot down some ideas for future skincare purchases as well as to tweak my own skincare routine a bit. It actually couldn't have come at a better time - my skin has been misbehaving lately, giving me both dehydrated flakey skin AND spots - so I'm curious to see if the Korean-inspired changes I've incorporated change it for the better. One last criticism: the book was not proofread very carefully, resulting in abundant spelling and grammar mistakes. I know it may seem a minor downfall to some, but as a linguist, I was quite annoyed. Quite annoyed.

Are you into Korean beauty? Have you already read this book? I'd love to hear your opinion in the comments!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Beauty Blogging: What if I'm not that into make-up anymore?

Whoa, hold your horses, people. I'm not actually saying I AM not that into make-up anymore (Wait...  Am I?) - I'm just analyzing, or rather, overanalyzing the blogging fatigue I've been experiencing lately. I really enjoy how people do this random brain dump when they're filming their Get Ready With Me videos, so I sort of decided to do a blog version - although let's not kid ourselves, I am not getting ready at the same time I'm writing this - although some things here have occurred to me as I was struggling with my eyeshadow this morning. Ekhm.

As you may already know, this year I'm continuing my efforts to both reduce the size of my existing make-up collection and to purchase less make-up and hopefully no skincare products (explained here in more detail). I've been thinking a lot about this goal this month and here's what it boils down to: at the moment, it really isn't all that hard for me. I didn't think it would ever be possible for me to say this, but I may be *a little bit* bored with make-up.

I like the beautiful products I have in my stash and I enjoy the process of putting them on, but I just don't feel a lot of enthusiasm - and I'm not overly impressed with the end result. Sure, I look nice and put together, but the vibe is somewhat off. Similarly, I'm not at all tempted or excited over new make-up collections or product releases. Sure, everything looks pretty, shiny and sparkly, but it just seems like the same thing over and over. Matte lip trend? Here, have some more matte lipsticks from another five brands. Spring 2016 make-up? No problem, pastel eyeshadows and blushy pinks coming right up. I'm about 99% sure that if I were to purchase anything at this moment, I'd be able to find a near dupe already in my possession.

I believe this is both the reason and the result for/ of a more paired down collection. In order to squash our lemmings, we unsubscribe from brands' newsletters, stop following the latest releases, or talk ourselves out of the new stuff by comparing it to what we already own. As a result of striving for that smaller stash and appreciating what we have, we start not having as many lemmings in the first place. But have those efforts inadverently killed my love for make-up?

I guess this question boils down to whether 'love for make-up' is synonymous with 'love for make-up products'. Make-up isn't some abstract art - I guess you could have just a theoretical appreciation for it by admiring looks in photos - but for us practitioners (lol), it can't really be separated from its tools. You do need adequate products to practice your make-up art and it's awfully nice to geek out over the best ones available on the market, but I'm sure we'd all agree that it's definitely not all that there is to it. There's the skill, the variety of techniques and approaches, the experimentation, the different styles. Looking back, it was my fascination with this more intangible aspect that caused me to get into make-up in the first place, NOT the products - of which I owned very few and had very limited means of purchasing more.

My current feelings are the exact reversal of that first love; I spend lots of time, money and mental resources acquiring and analyzing products but I don't focus nearly enough on the creative aspect. Some would be quick to blame writing a beauty blog as a past-time, what with its constant focus on  new products, relationships with brands and prompt reviews of PR samples. This is why I think so many wonderful bloggers have been going on breaks or quitting their blogs - most of us who have been posting for years now experience a general malaise, like maybe beauty blogging just plain isn't fun anymore.

I still think it is whatever we make it out to be. If beauty blogging means product reviews, page hits and monetization to you, then to me that sounds more like (at least part-time) work, and work sometimes isn't fun, despite how passionate you may be for the subject. But I guess that if you're more like me, then it can be fun, it can be creative and it can be independent of whatever else is going on in the blogosphere or on the beauty market. We just need to take it back.

(A little bit of a disclaimer - this is not meant as an attack on any person or blog. I'm not trying to insinuate anything or pass judgement; it's just quite obvious to me that as with any area of human activity, people have different goals and motivations, and that's great. And obviously things are rarely black or white, and they rarely remain constant. I think it'd be accurate to say that Rocaille Writes is in that grey area, and that it keeps evolving. It would make me proud to say that.)

What all this rambling means for me and my blog is that I would like to go back to the beginning and post more about my make-up experiments and looks. If I'm not a 100% content with my current make-up situation, than it is in my power to change it around and see what I would like better instead. Doing Project Pans and/or similar challenges is actually the first step - using the same products day in and day out really gives you the necessary push to try out different things you may have not thought of previously. So expect to see some more Face Of The Day posts from me, or maybe some recreations of inspiring looks, or even tutorials. Let's see what I can come up with!

Have you been stuck in a bit of a make-up rut lately? Are there any new products you can't wait to get your hands on, or have you been unimpressed like me? What do you look for in a beauty blog? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Liquid Matte: Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet Lipstick in Nude-ist

I don't believe there's a beauty brand currently on the market that hasn't come out with a matte liquid lipstick product - even drugstore brands like Revlon and Maybelline have jumped on board (btw, I'm loving that the drugstore is following make-up trends more closely in the recent times!). However, the European drugstore has had their version of a liquid matte for a couple years now - it's the Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet ($15.40 on Asos for 0.2 fl oz/ 7.7 ml). I would look longingly at the display every year when I'm in Poland, and this time I decided to pull the trigger and buy one of the most popular shades in the range, 07 Nude-ist.
I don't have a huge experience with matte liquid lipsticks because it's not a product I usually find comfortable to wear. I've tried a few stains in the past and I still own a tube of NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Monte Carlo (reviewed here), but I rarely reach for them - my dry lips don't really appreciate a matte finish. I have heard however that the Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvets aren't very drying and last on the lips a very long time, so I was hopeful to find a gem.
The packaging is simple enough: I like that it's exactly the size of a regular lipstick, so it fits perfectly into my lipstick organizer, and I like the shape of the doe foot applicator, because it allows me to define the contours of my lips with a lot of precision, making my lips look bigger without needing a lip liner. One thing to note is that this liquid lipstick is not scent-free; I don't think there's any added fragrance, but it has quite a strong chemical scent as you're applying it. It does dissipate though after the lipstick dries down.

I find the texture of this to be more liquid than mousse-like, as in the NYX Matte Lip Creams - I'm sure there are still silicones in this formula but I'm guessing not as much as in some other matte lip products. Nudist is a nicely pigmented shade, although I do find that it doesn't apply perfectly evenly - it looks a lot more sheer towards the inside of my lips than it does around the edges (you can see a little bit of that in the close-up photo). When freshly applied, it makes my lips look quite smooth, but unfortunately, within an hour or so it definitely accentuates all of my vertical lip lines. Instead of a sensual pout, I'm left with a mouth looking like a shrivelled raisin. Not cool. As for longevity, I have to say that I'm a bit disappointed. Even after the product sets on my lips, I still get transfer on tea cups, and it wears off quite easily even through light snacking and drinking.
L-R: Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet in Nude-ist, YSL Rose Stiletto, Bite Rhubarb, Revlon Lip Liner in Pink
Despite the name, Nude-ist definitely isn't a nude shade on me - but I wasn't really expecting it to be. What I was however expecting was a cooler mauve shade like it appears to be in the tube; it turns out though that Nude-ist is actually a lot closer to the color represented on the cap. It pulls a warm rose with hints of brown on me; very on trend, but not a shade that suits my coloring the best. I actually found Nudist to be very comparable to Bite High Pigment Lip Pencil in Rhubarb. Both YSL Rouge Pur Couture in Rose Stilleto* (reviewed here) and Revlon Color Stay Lip Liner in Pink are a bit more pink, but still quite similar.
I think you can tell by now that I'm not completely enamored with this purchase. While I really enjoy how Bourjois Nude-ist looks when I first apply it, it's neither very comfortable or texturally flattering as the day goes on. I don't know, you guys, maybe my lips are just not cut out for this matte liquid lipstick trend. Have you jumped on the bandwagon? What is your favorite matte lipstick formula?

Friday, January 15, 2016

Volume & Definition: Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara

For whatever reason, I had previously never tried anything from Marc Jacobs Beauty. I think I'm quite biased against newer beauty brands; I tend to see them as trendy and fun but not very invested in making quality products. So I wasn't really expecting much when Influenster selected me for yet another of their VoxBoxes (you can sign up for a chance to review products, too! Here's my invite link), this time in collaboration with Marc Jacobs - apart from being excited to try out new high-end make-up for free, duh.
The Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara* ($26 for 0.32 oz, comes in just the black shade - Noir) is the third mascara to join the brand's line-up, forth if you're counting their Lamé Noir Ultra-Glittering Mascara (see what I mean by trendy and fun?). When I ripped open the box, I was immediately pleasantly surprised by the simple but weighty packaging; they used some really luxurious feeling plastic for the tube, lol. I actually like most of the brand's packaging - what can I say, I really appreciate black with silver accents.
Velvet Noir claims to 'create instant, smudge-proof length and volume in three strokes or less' with super-concentrated black pigment and a lash-maximizing curvy brush (from Sephora). The hourglass-shaped brush is quite large, which is usually not my preference, but I'm actually very impressed with the design. The rounded tip allows me to reach both inner and outer corner lashes and build up layers just where I need it, while the densely packed bristles grab every single lash and comb out any clumps. It's a combination of two things that I like the most in a mascara: volume and definition. I like.
Despite the size of the brush, I don't really have problems with smudging the mascara on my lids, although it is a bit difficult to maneuver on the lower lash line. The mascara layers easily, although I never really feel the need to dip back into the tube - one coat is perfectly enough for me. The pigment is a very nice matte black, and even without curling my lashes, they appear lifted and fanned out.
As for longevity, I'm pleased to say that this relatively dry formula doesn't crumble or flake throughout the day. On me, it does transfer ever so slightly onto the browbone - but that's a common problem if your lashes happen to touch the skin under your brows when looking up. It's not as bad as other non-waterproof mascaras though, and can be minimized with an eye primer and some powder.
All in all, I'm very impressed with this mascara; maybe it's because of all the mascara duds I've been trying lately, but I would actually consider repurchasing the Velvet Noir. You know you don't want to be without a product when you start thinking things like '$26 is not so bad for a high-end mascara, right?'. Uhm, right. What are your favorite products from Marc Jacobs? What was the last mascara you were really impressed by?

Disclaimer: Item marked with an asterix (*) is a press sample 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, January 12, 2016

My Ultimate Lazy Girl Haircare Routine

I have said it before and I'll say it again: I have no f*cks to give when it comes to my hair. I'm the anti-thesis of a 'hair person': I have little interest in how my hair looks, and no interest in taking care of it. A couple years back, when I worked in a salon, I tried to make more of an effort, and I thought my hair looked quite nice, but I quickly grew bored of my elaborate routine and now I'm aiming for what I'd call 'minimal intervention'. Wanna see?

First of all, let me explain my hair to you. My hair is straight and fine but there's a reasonable amount of it. Currently, it's all virgin hair (meaning, not chemically-processed: no hair color, no bleach, no perms) and it tends to get quite oily at the roots but dry at the ends, which is why I had most of the length chopped off about a month ago to resemble a 'lob'. To put it simply, naturally my hair requires very little maintenance - sure, I have some issues with lack of volume or split ends occasionally, but I can't really complain; are you guys already hating on me?

That is not to say that I think my hair is fab. Actually, most of the time I think it looks a bit crap - I would have loved to have some beachy waves or voluminous curls, but even an hour long session with a curling iron won't give me any results: my hair simply doesn't hold a style. I used to rebel against that quite a bit and buy a whole arsenal of products and tools in hopes of achieving the perfect do, but to be honest, I really don't care anymore. My hair is what it is. I accept that. My simplistic routine aims to keep it clean, healthy, and as fuss-free as possible. Here it is:
1. I wash my hair every 2-3 days with a sulfate-free shampoo; I'm currently using Maple Holistics Degrease Moisture Control Shampoo* ($16.95 for 10 oz, available on here), and I really like the invigorating herbal scent and how clean it gets my hair without stripping. The reason I opt for a sulfate-free cleanser is that SLS/SLES tend to irritate my scalp and break me out around the hairline. In my opinion, sulfate-free shampoos aren't as damaging for the hair and they keep it more balanced, so it's worth using one even if your hair isn't colored. That being said, not all sulfate-free shampoos are created equal - some formulations just won't lather no matter what you do. My top tip is to lather and rinse twice: first pre-cleanse with a small amount of shampoo just to get things moving (it won't really foam up very well this first time, but that's fine), rinse, and then lather again with slightly more - your sulfate-free shampoo should give you a really nice lather that second time.

2. I condition with just about anything I can find in the shower; right now it's this Nivea Intense Repair Conditioner one of our house guests left behind. Due to my hair type, I don't need to be very particular about the conditioner I'm using, so this one will do; I just need a bit of help to make detangling easier and keep the ends of my hair looking healthy and shiny. In fact, I have some older bottles of hair styling lotions I'd like to try using up as conditioner once the Nivea runs out.

3. Dry shampoo - my absolute favorite is the Batiste ($6-8 for 6.73 fl oz), any scent will do. Because my hair gets oily at the roots quite fast and as a consequence, looks very flat, dry shampoo is a god send. Batiste seems to be the best combination of inexpensive and effective for me - it soaks up the oil, gives a bit of texture, and doesn't leave a white residue in my hair.

Extras, or sometimes I need a bit of something-something:
1. Leave-in spray detangler/ conditioner. When my hair gets drier (usually as it grows out), I need an extra leave-in conditioner to cut down on the detangling time. I've tried a few options, including different oils or lotions/ creams, but I find sprays more suited to my fine hair type. The Enjoy Conditioning Spray ($20.95 for 10.1 oz) is a firm favorite - very effective at detangling but still lightweight, plus one bottle lasts me ages.

2. Texturizing/ sea salt spray. To give my hair a bit more body, especially at the roots, I like to use a sea salt spray - some of the regular volumizing root lift sprays leave my hair feeling a bit sticky. And while these texturizing sprays don't really enhance the natural texture in my hair (well, since I have none), they give it a bit of a grip, so it's not as baby down soft (= plain annoying). The Healthy Sexy Hair Soy Renewal Beach Spray ($19.95 for 5.1 oz) is probably my favorite out of the ones I've tried so far.

3. Hair spray. I have lots of baby hair and I detest little strands of hair flying into my face, so hair spray is a must when I'm trying to look a bit more polished. I've tried a lot of salon brands of hairspray, and while I think you can find comparable options to a lot of them at the drugstore, I would splurge again for the MoroccanOil Luminous Hairspray Strong ($24 for 10 oz). It's a dry hairspray that smells great, has just the right amount of hold, and gives my hair a little extra shine. On the rare occasion when I curl my hair, I can also use it as a heat protectant.

As for tools, most of the time I let my hair air dry - I only reach for my basic Conair hair dryer when I'm pressed for time, or when I want to give myself a blow out for a special occasion. For a simple blow out, I style my hair using a round ceramic hair brush from Olivia Garden - it gives my hair more volume and shine, as well as accentuates the cut of my hair a lot better. For after-shower detangling and all other brushing, both me and my husband use the Wet Brush.
Freshly washed and air dried hair set with MorrocanOil Hairspray. This photo also captures the natural color of my hair quite well - not quite brown, not quite red.
Am I alone in not giving two hoots about my hair? I think it's quite amusing that I can spend upwards of half an hour applying a full face of make-up, and then look at my hair, brush it through with my fingers, shrug and get on with my life. What do you guys do with your hair? Are there any indispensable products in your haircare routines that I should look into?

Disclaimer: Item marked with an asterix (*) 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 products featured were purchased with my own monies or provided as free press samples. Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Lavender Lemmings: Clinique Cheek Pop in Pansy Pop

I had been lemming a lavender-hued blush for most of 2015, and in December, armed with Sephora's $20 off card, I finally bit the bullet and purchased Clinique's Cheek Pop Blush in Pansy Pop ($22 for 0.12 oz). I actually previously owned one more shade, Pink Pop, but upon swatching it next to my other cool pink blushes, I decided to return it; I had nothing like Pansy Pop though.
I just came back from my Holiday break in Poland a couple days ago and maybe that's why I'm lacking my usual wordiness, but I don't really have all that much to say about this blush (although I have plenty of photos!). Is it the cutest little blush design, like EVAR? Yes. Is the formula as good as everyone says? Yes. Is Pansy Pop both unique and wearable? Yes yes yes.

I guess this is what sometimes happen when we cave in and acquire the object of our desire after months of visualizing its perfection - I'm just completely lacking any enthusiasm over this blush right now, even though it really is a great product, especially if you happen to have a cool-toned fair complexion like me. I really like it, but words are hard :(

If you're considering this somewhat unusual lavender shade, I've included a swatch comparison with two of the most cool-toned pinks in my stash, La Femme Flamingo Pink and NYX Pinky. Against these two, Clinique Pansy Pop is still the most purple, but the least pigmented. In terms of texture and finish, hopefully you can see in my arm swatch that Clinique's Cheek Pop looks the most flattering and naturally glowy on the skin; La Femme is completely matte, NYX is dusty with random flecks of silver shimmer. After taking this photo, I've decided to let go of NYX Pinky; I used to love it when I first started experimenting with blushes, but after a couple years of trying different formulas and brands, I now definitely have others I love more.
L-R: Clinique Pansy Pop, La Femme Flamingo Pink, NYX Pinky
Again, I'm sorry if my cheek swatch isn't terribly helpful - with the weak winter daylight and our north-facing windows, taking accurate and well-lit photos has been a touch challenging lately. In person, Pansy Pop looks very natural on my pale skin, but I have to be a bit more careful about lip product choices; I'm wearing just a baby pink gloss in the photo and I think the combination is making me look a bit washed out. I swapped it out for a medium pink lipstick later on in the day and thought it paired much better with this blush.
Have you tried any of the Clinique Cheek Pops? What are your thoughts? I hope you all had a relaxing holiday and I'm wishing you all the best for 2016 :) Thank you for your patience in my slow approving and answering of comments while I was gone. Hugs!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

My First Project 10 Pan of 2016: Introduction

Throughout my two Projects Make A Dent in 2014 and 2015, as well as my last Project 10 Pan, I've learnt quite a few things about my make-up preferences and my threshold for product fatigue. My biggest realization is that I really don't mind using the same products again and again, day in and day out, as long as I like them to begin with, and as long as I'm continuing to feel a given color scheme. This last part is quite important, and the main reason I've decided to introduce a few changes into my panning projects from there on out.
In my last Project Pan (here), I picked out quite a few summery shades: the bronzey Pixi Endless Eye Pen in Copper Glow, the Covergirl Jumbo Gloss Balm in Watermelon Twist, a mint Orly Nail Polish in Gumdrop. The thing is, since I started the Project in July, I only had two months of summer left to enjoy those shades, and then as soon as the cooler weather hit, I was really over wearing them. My fall/winter skin also hated the two ultra-mattifying base products in that Project, the Revlon Colorstay foundation and the MAC Pressed Blot Powder. All of those things combined made me think that I would probably do much better with a shorter seasonal project... I feel that three months is a bit too little time for me to be able to see any significant progress, but I figured that 4 months would be just right. So my current project will run from January till the end of April, which is when I'll surely be once again in the mood for more spring pastels and warm summer shades.

Here's what I decided to pick out for this project after much thought and careful deliberation:
1. Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation in PK-1 (review here): My goal for this product is to use up half of the bottle. Judging from previous projects, that should be doable, and since it's my current favorite foundation, and I'm no real hurry to get it out of my stash - it just needs some loving.
2. Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Diffused Light (review): There's a LOT of powder in this compact, so my loose goal is just to make a more significant dip in the middle. Again, I really like this product, I just want to make sure I'm using it.
3. Stila Smudge Stick Waterproof Eyeliner in Bluefin ($22 for 0.01 oz): According to my calculations, Stila Smudge Sticks have about a third of an average eyeliner's volume; that, coupled with a softer formula, should allow me to use the entire thing up in 4 months. I'm sorry that I'm not able to show you exactly how much I have or track my progress in any way, but it's a retractable pencil that doesn't wind down. At any rate, I really enjoy this deep blue glittery shade, and want to make sure it's used before it dries out.
4. NARS Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Base: I've already had to take the stopper out, so there's not much remaining in the tube. It's my favorite clear eyeshadow primer, but I've had it for a long time now and it's nearing the end of its shelf life.
5. NYX Powder Blush in Taupe (review and swatches): I'm not a huge fan of bronzer on myself in the winter (it just tends to look a bit off), so I would like to hit pan on this contour shade instead. I used it a lot a couple years ago, but it has recently fallen to the wayside, so I'd like to see some use there before it needs to be thrown out.
6. Clarins Instant Light Lip Perfector in Rose Shimmer (swatches): Still one of my favorite lip gloss formulas. I would like to use up the whole tube, but we'll see how it goes - it has three times the amount of product as my beloved Buxom lip glosses, for example. I would say that right now, I probably have at least 2/3 of the tube remaining.
7. Revlon Lip Butter in Berry Smoothie (review): Due to the soft slippery texture, the Lip Butters get used up quite fast, and I've had good luck with the Peach Parfait shade in my previous Project. I'm hoping to use it all up (by the way, in the photos, both lipsticks are fully wound up).
8. Revlon Superlustrous Lipstick in Cherries in the Snow (review and swatches): If Cherries in the Snow isn't a quintessential winter red, I don't know what is. Mine looks a bit mangled because I shaved some off to give to a friend to try - which also means I don't have as much remaining in the tube, and I'll be trying to finish it.
9. Zoya Nail Polish in Jem (nail swatch): The first shade from Zoya I really fell in love with. I doubt I'm going to be able to use up the entire bottle, but half of the bottle sounds good enough to me - plus, it may turn out then that it gets too thick and gloopy even with a thinner and will have to be thrown out at that point anyway.
10. theBalm Nude'Tude Eyeshadow Palette (shown here): Now, that's a big one. I've been contemplating doing a Pan That Palette Project for 2016, but to be honest, I really can't predict how well or how bad it will go. So I'm dipping my toes here by including Nude'Tude in my Project Pan, and I'll decide at the end of my four months if I want to roll it over to the next two Project Pans and try to use it up by the end of the year. Nude'Tude is probably the smallest by volume neutral palette with 10+ shades that I own, and the formula is quite soft, so I'm hoping to see large dips and maybe a tiny bit of pan on a couple shades by the end of April. Wish me luck!

There's no blush this time, and no cream eyeshadow, because I was getting a bit bored with those two product categories in my previous Projects - but I'm quite sure you'll see them back again during the summer and/or the winter challenge. I'm feeling quite good about this Project, and I'm actually looking forward to using my chosen products; as you could see, a lot of them are firm favorites of mine. I'm thinking I'll update you once on my progress at the halfway mark (two months in), and then of course I'll post a Project finale.
Have you planned any panning projects for 2016? Do you prefer doing personal projects in your own time or participating in seasonal challenges (Finish X By...) with other bloggers or YouTubers? Personally, I find community challenges like that a bit too stressful - my usage is too slow to fit in with those Projects, but I love following everyone's progress! If you're currently doing a Project Pan, please leave a link to your post in the comments - let's cheer each other on!