Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I hope you all are having awesome holidays!!! Wish you and your loved ones a new year filled with joys and good health!

I'm blogging on my phone via our hotel's complementary wi-fi:d. It's not the most efficient way to blog I know. My family and I are heading to the East Coast. I just want to stop by and say hi to you all.

Talk soon xx

Friday, December 21, 2012

Beauty Blogazons Weekly Roundup 12/21/2012

Beatuy Blogazons sisters share quite a few holiday looks this week. Have a great weekend everyone and stay healthy! xx

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Review: Tom Ford Shade and Illuminate Intensity 2

Given that Shade and Illuminate was the main target of my first trip to Tom Ford counter, I could have reviewed it first. Why didn't I? Um uh well, as typing this line, I'm still not sure how I feel about it. Part of me loves it for its blendability, natural result and quick setting. The other part feels disappointed with the short wearing, and lack of intensity of the highlighter. Oddly enough, I don't hate the price. Let's break it down then, shall we. A look I wore the highlighter is here.

Tom For Shade and Illuminate ($75 for 0.49 oz) comes into two shades Intensity 1 and Intensity 2. They share the same highlighter, only the contouring shades are different. Based on my swatch, Intensity 1 is really yellow and lighter, even on my yellow skin tone. Intensity 2 has deeper brown/grey undertone and matches my skin better. The girls at Tom Ford told me that Intensity 2 matches most people while Intensity 1 looks yellow on most people. Puzzled :)

The close-up. White and brown!
At the first glance, I thought the highlighter would be stalky white and the contouring shade would look muddy. Not at all! The highlighter is a sheer shimmery white while the contouring shade is a matte deep neutral brown. The shimmer of the highlighter is beyond delicate. You guys probably remember I always rave about Edward Bess All Over Seduction for its finely milled shimmer. This is even more sophisticated. The texture is, as you would expect from Tom Ford, heavenly smooth. It blends seamlessly and effortlessly into the skin. You won't detect the transition from your skin to the area with product.

It surprises me that both the highlighter and contouring shade are sheer. I have to apply about 4 layers of the contouring shade to create believable high cheekbones. It does take me sometime to feel comfortable with the application. Once you get it, faking those hollows is really enjoyable. 

I want a quite visible glow so 4-5 layers of the highlighters are needed. Even so, the highlighter looks very natural under direct sunlight. No stalky white strips, guaranteed! Your skincolor peaks through a veil of sheer shimmery glistening soft white. Your cheeks will glow at certain angles when you turn your face. Now, if you like extremely natural glow, you'll enjoy this. I prefer more visible effect at all angles, so this falls short for my expectation. The highlighter reminds me of Giorgio Armani Sheer Fluid in cream formula only more opaque and of higher consistency. 

The highlighter stays put for about 6 hours on my combination skin, in the drier months. After hour 6, it becomes a layer of sheer sheen. I'm not sure how it'll behave in more humid weather. I would want it to last 8 hours, especially for the price. The contouring shade stays fresh for at least 8 hours. 

 Heavily swatched under direct sunlight. Both the contour shade and highlighter are sheer

Compared to some of my highlighters, Shade and Illuminate is the most natural and also the sheerest. But the consistency and texture is the best. Becca Skin Perfector in Pearl is more white and more frosty. Edward Bess Sunlight has beigy champagne undertone and about as shimmery as Shade and Illuminate. MAC cream color base in Cream is ivory cream and just a little bit less shimmery than Shade and Illuminate. I don't have another cream bronzer or contouring blush to compare. Just want to show you how it stands against the shimmer highlighters. 
 Compared with some other highlighters

Tom Ford is the sheerest of the bunch

Different angle to show the level of luminosity

What about the price? You pay $75 for 0.49 oz of product assuming $37 for 0.245 oz of highlighter or contouring shade. That's A LOT if you think about Edward Bess All Over Seduction - $38 for 0.08 oz of highlighter (same formula). Of course, it's way more expensive than Becca Pearl. But you have a large mirror and sleek compact for traveling. I do think the case can be more sturdy with metal material instead of plastic.

Now, I use the Shade and Illuminate brush to create a crispy line with the contouring shade then blend upward. I prefer my fingers for the highlighter as they curve with my cheek bones. The brush is a wonderful product that demands a separate post. Spoiler -alert: if you are skilled at contouring, you can skip it. I bought it for the ease of application. Also, I have quite a few cream face products that require a good brush.

Bottom line. After the above analysis, I conclude that Shade and Illuminate is a great product for everyday use. And I need it. If you want more intense highlighter, you probably want to look somewhere else. The contour shade, however, would cover all your needs from day to night. I don't want to highly recommend a $75 palette for everyday use. It's your personal preferences to determine whether you need it. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The last Tom Ford Haul of 2012

Happy Wednesday everyone!

I'm still breathing, rapidly actually. Holiday parties freak me out. We'll host only one (phew!) and attend a few. Like many of you, I work and cook and clean and decorate and so on so forth. You know how it goes.

And yet, I managed to grab some Tom Ford goodies that lied on the top of my Christmas wish list :D. I made about 4 trips to Neiman Marcus in the past 2 months (here and here). This time I decided to fulfill my wish with Ultra Shine Lip Gloss in 02 Rose Crush and Lipcolors in 18 Black Orchid and 04 Indian Rose.
At this point, I think I have everything I love from the brand. I'm testing out his primer and foundation stick too. They don't wow me as much as the other items I've tried. I must admit, though, that the foundation stick (No 5 Natural, yes I changed the shade) has become a rival of my all time favorite foundations, Clarins Ever Matte and Burberry Sheer Luminous. It still doesn't deserve the 78-dollar price tab in my opinion. I do plan to test it again once I finish adjusting my skincare routine and finding a good face primer. I will keep you guys posted.

Until then, hope you're not bored to death by my recent (and chronic) Tom Ford craze :D.

Joanne xx

Guest blog on Beauty By Arielle

Back in November, the lovely Arielle at Beauty By Arielle invited me to guest blog this month. Of course I say yes. Because I love her blog and her positive energy. She features a series of Beauty for the Soul posts that I really enjoy. Curious about what I did as her guest, please click here.

A sneak peak

Friday, December 7, 2012

Beauty Blogazons Weekly Roundup 11/30/2012

I know I know there is certain level of tardiness on my blog lately. My new projects have demanded quite a lot of my energy and time. Last week, the ladies of Beauty Blogazons have some wonderful posts. Enjoy everyone! 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Review: L'Oreal Infallible Eyeshadow in Eternal Sunshine

This review was meant to be up shortly after I discovered my two favorite infallible eyeshadows (Liquid Diamond and Bronzed Taupe). But then I thought golden eyeshadows always felt festive to me. So I save Eternal Sunshine ($5.35 for 0.12 oz) for December :D. 
Like most shade of the infallible range, Eternal Sunshine is highly pigmented and fused with fine shimmer. It goes on my eye lids smoothly, blending seamlessly and easily into the skin. The texture is buttery smooth and soft without any fall-outs. An eye primer is needed for the eyeshadow to stay fresh for at least 8 hours.

What I love most is the color. Having brown eyes, I have really tough time to find subtle gold eyeshadows that don't bring out too much yellow in my eyes (and my skin too). Eternal Sunshine is a soft yellow gold that has warm undertone. It's just so chic and elegant. You can wear this color alone. My favorite combo is Burberry Taupe Brown and L'Oreal Eternal Sunshine. I think together they have the balance of warmth and coolness as well as shimmer and matte finishes.
Eternal Sunshine is highly frosted but in a subdued fashion, or in other words, in a high-end fashion. Drugstore brands have evolved remarkably in the past few years. While I love luxury cosmetics brands, L'Oreal (and Boots No 7) creates many wonderful products (their mascaras are my fav too) at competitive quality and price.

I would recommend you guys check it out at Kroger. They have 25% off several brands for a few months now. The price become lower than coupons from Ulta, CVS, Walgreens, Target or Walmart.

Bottom line. Superb! Highly recommended for all skintones. 

Review: Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Ultra Definition Liquid Makeup

I've been searching a winter foundation for a while now. Burberry Sheer Luminous comes really closed to an ideal foundation for my skin. A plethora of new foundations have recently entered the market and the hypes behind them intrigue me to test them all before settling with Burberry. 

So here is one of them. Urban Decay Naked ($38 for 1 oz) has that lightweight texture that glides on my skin effortlessly and smoothly. It dries in a natural finish that I love. It wears well for at least 4 hours then becomes quite dry on my skin. However, I feel like my skincare routine also contributes to how foundations behave. So I don't want to jump to conclusion that this foundation dries out my skin. It does feel dryer after hour 4 than when first being applied. 

UD Naked comes in 18 shades of two bases. The shades ending in 0.5 has pink undertone while those ending in natural number are yellow-based. Shade 4 is a good match for me if it doesn't turn peachy (surprised much!). So yes, oxidation is still the biggest challenge.
Bottom line. A decent foundation for a decent price. None but the texture impresses me.

Have you tried UD Naked? Does it oxidize on you? What brush do you use with it?

*****A side note on my skin and foundations*****
I have medium yellow undertone (MAC NC 25-30) with some redness on the cheek and dull skin on the chin. My face skin is nearly one shade deeper than the neck. I look for a foundation that match my neck skin to create a seamless transition from face to neck. I don't classify my skin as good but I don't have break out or major skin problems. Loads of foundations turn orangy or muddy on me within one to three hours of wearing. This is the frustration of finding a good foundation for my makeup.  

Four must-have traits of a good foundation for me
  1. doesn't turn orange or muddy throughout the day
  2. dries in natural finish
  3. evens out the color and smoothes the skin (finely milled texture)
  4. covers veins, discoloration, redness and minor dark spots

Sunday, December 2, 2012

My guilty pleasure - Tom Ford Blushes

Chanel, Dior, Edward Bess, Guerlain, Tarte, and Nars all create great blushes that I love and wear frequently. None, though. None of those brand offers something like Tom Ford's Narcissist that convinces me to possess, not just for testing purposes, the rest of the blush range. None of them can drive me to the mall with a single thought in mind: Get all the permanent blushes as long as they look good on me. I cam home with four (reviews are coming).

New addition (clockwise): Savage, Flush, Ravish, Love Lust
Tom Ford's blushes have  the velvet finish that blends effortlessly seamlessly into the skin. This result is usually achieved far more easily with a cream blush, or well professional hands. They stay fresh for 10 hours on my combination skin until removed. The shimmer are as delicate as the powder itself and in no way cheesy. The quality and the shades of the blushes are so well-thought through that I'm willing to invest $55 per blush. By the way, this is in the range of Dior, Chanel and Guerlain eyeshadow palettes.

Now, I did skip Wicked and Frantic Pink. For different reasons.

Wicked is a cool pink with warm pink shimmer. When used lightly it looks rather similar to Narcissist only less "real" because it doesn't have such red-violet base that Narcissist does. If I didn't have Narcissist, Wicked would be a decent substitute. Since Narcissist is the blush I now use everyday, I just don't see a place for Wicked in my collection.

Frantic Pink is a soft light pink with golden shimmer. It looks beautiful on fair skin. It works more like a highlighter on my medium skin (MAC NC 25-30). Still gorgeous, yet Frantic Pink feels more suitable for young lovely girls, in my opinion. Not that I'm an old married woman but I want a more sophisticated shade. 

My current Tom Ford blush collection (clockwise): Savage, Narcissist, Flush, Ravish, Love Lust

I can't wait for new blushes from Tom Ford. Beside his fragrances, these are my favorite from the brand. LOVE LOVE LOVE!

Have you ever gone crazy for a product range from any brand? Love to hear about your guilty pleasure too. 
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