Thursday, October 31, 2013

Lately (hospitalization, thoughts on new beauty launches and some shopping)

Well well well. Where could I begin? Eh, The Convenient Beauty went muted for nearly a month. I also disappeared from my favorite blogs for even longer than that.

I was sick and was sent to the hospital for a few days. At first I felt like the earth shattered beneath my feet. I'm very scared of the hospitals in general. Oddly enough though, I had a great time there. I was making friends with everybody from nurses, doctors, administrative staff, cleaning staff, totally random patients, the room service ladies and having fun. But I was SO happy when my doctor sent me home. Then I spent the next few weeks to get back on track.

My friends during August and September. Never want to see them again. 
I still read your blogs, follow your conversation on twitter, browsing your youtube tutorials and drooling over your latest hauls on instagram. You still put a big smile on my face. I just didn't have the energy to join the talks :(.

Speaking of instagram, you guys probably recognized my obsession for flats. I ain't care if that extra half an inch looks more fashionable. Everybody knows that I'm petite. Plus, flats are ridiculously cute, aren't they?

My recent splurges! The wish list goes on, especially J Crew. 
Top left: Coach Unique flats; Bottom left: Coach Wendy Snake Polka Dots
Top right: J Crew Cece flat; Bottom right: J Crew studded Cece flats 

Since my last makeup haul, I completed my Tom Ford blush collection with Wicked (swatches of all blushes are coming) and expanded my Tom Ford brushes. The only fall makeup I got was Tom Ford Orchid Haze eyeshadow quad (review coming soon). Then there were some essentials, i.e. Shiseido urban environment sunscreen, and YSL baby doll mascara full size. No haul is complete without some compulsive purchases. I'm obsessed with Formula X for Sephora in Ignite and Blazing. Guys, you must check it out!!

Some beauty goodies since July. 
Top row: Le Metier de Beaute kaleidoscope Spendid Frost, Formula X for Sephora Ignite, Shiseido Urban environment Oil-free sunscreen SPF 42, Tom Ford brushes
Bottom row: Tom Ford blush Wicked, Formula X for Sephora Blazing, YSL Babydoll mascara, Tom Ford eyecolor quad Orchid Haze 
August and September were also the launch month of long-awaited makeup lines. Michael Kors beauty is a big fat MEH. It's just pile of shimmer, and lack of personality and pigmentation. But I gotta admit the promo pictures are utterly glamorous and stunning. Also, I've been underwhelmed and unimpressed by the entire Marc Jacobs' beauty line, well, except for his liquid eyeliner.

On a more positive note, I'm so excited about Charlotte Tilburry's makeup line, especially all of her eyeliners, the bronzer/highlighter, and the eyeshadow quads. I can't wait until she ships it to the US. That $40 shipping from Selfridge doesn't cut it for me.

Michelle Phan's em cosmetics also grabbed my attention. I don't plan on testing out her line but I applaud her for the very well-designed range. The idea is spot-on for her target audience, although I don't think the price point addresses them well.

Have any of you checked out Torry Burch's beauty line? I would love to hear your thoughts. The fragrance was OK but I'm curious about the rest of her makeup line.

That's it! I'm alive. Had some time off. Shopped. Enjoying life as it is. What about you? 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Look: Soft stain lips

When the fall comes, I just simply can't resist deeper lip colors. My two favorite vampy lipsticks for fall are Bite Beauty Mulberry (review is here) and Tom Ford Black Orchid which by the way looks almost identical to its replacement Bruised Plum (yay!). I love the dark deep decadent shade of plum yet sporting it daily can be over the top. Lately, I've been wearing Tom Ford Black Orchid non-stop as a stain and pair it with his cream eyeshadows to create a softer and youthful look. Tons of compliments have been received. Hope you enjoy! The full list of products used is at the bottom as usual. 

Color products used. In my very own fashion, I forgot Dior Beige Massai :D but I link to it below. 

Look breakdown

Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer Custard
Laura Mercier Translucent Setting Powder

Nars Pro-prime Eye primer
Tom Ford Eyeshadow Quad Golden Mink (the brown shade for outer V)
Dior 5-color Eyeshadow Quint Beige Massai (deepest brown to define lower lash line)
Sephora Eyeliner Retractable Waterproof #10 Matte Brown/Black (this baby puts Chanel version at shame) 


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Review: Formula X for Sephora Blazing

Blazing ($10.5 for 0.5 oz) took my breathe away... I don't think my description will do the justice.
I love everything about it. The three-free formula (no toluene, no formandehide, no DBS, which is supposed to be pregnancy-safe). The unbelievably stunning color. The shimmer. The texture. The smoothness. The ease of application, especially for such a dark color. It evens out by itself if you know what I mean. My clumpy hands spread the polish unevenly leaving behind streaks, yet the jelly texture of Blazing just auto-corrects it. Amazing! 

Blazing is supposed to last 2 weeks if being coupled with the Formula X system (cleanse, base, color and top coat). I used Butter London base coat and hardware top coat and it last 5 days without chipping. But I do have to take care of my nail. I find the brush a good size, very easy to use. 

Indoors to show you the burgundy undertone. 
I have received tons of compliments. Blazing is one of those shades you can carry all the way to the holiday season. I myself will wear it year round, probably not for corporate environment. It's perfect to dress up an outfit and add some edgy punk to the look.

One last look at Blazing. I feel so dazzling.

Bottom line. LOVE. Get it! 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Review: Tom Ford Cheek Color 02 Frantic Pink

It took me quite some time to finish the review of Tom Ford Frantic Pink as I wasn't sure how I felt about it. It's a very good blush. Beautiful. Lovely. Natural. Long-wearing. Smooth. But it isn't as phenomenal as the rest of Tom Ford's blushes (reviews of Love Lust, Flush, Savage, Ravish, Wicked, Narcissist). While I still love Frantic Pink, I don't reach for it very often. Here is why.

Tom Ford Frantic Pink blush ($56 for 0.28 oz) is a light peachy pink with golden shimmer. On my light medium skin tone, it's a soft peachy pink. The pigmentation is sheerer than the rest of Tom Ford blushes. Also because Frantic Pink is a soft color, it doesn't show up very well on me. If I keep layering the blush to get more opaque result, Frantic Pink washes me off. My solutions are 1) layering on top of a brighter blush (my favorite is Edward Bess compact rouge in Love Affair, subtle bright pink!) and 2) applying it on top of the cheekbones as a highlighter.
Frantic Pink softens and enhances a brighter blush, creating a soft glow and tone down the strong pigmentation. On deeper skin tones, Frantic Pink would work beautifully as a highlighter. I prefer a stronger glow that requires a much lighter color and a bit more shimmer. So it doesn't highlight my cheekbones much. In other words, I need to use Frantic Pink together with something else. And I'm lazy about it. Yes, the combination will be beautiful. It's just not what I expect from a Tom Ford blush. 

Swatched under direct sunlight
With that being said, Frantic Pink still offers excellent quality. Like other powder products from the brand, Frantic Pink has velvety smooth texture and delivers a sophisticated sheen. You won't detect the shimmer, yeah I know, I've emphasized how elegant Tom Ford shimmer is. 

The ingredients
Bottom line. A nice-to-have blush for me. An excellent blush although not as phenomenal as the rest of Tom Ford blush range. If you have fair to light skin, you'll rock it way better than me. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Review: Le Metier de Beaute Classic Flawless Finish Foundation SPF 8 No 5

via Neiman Marcus (non affiliate link)

A few months back, I did a mini-exploration with Le Metier de Beaute and came home with a sample of the famous Classic Flawless Finish Foundation. It comes in 11 shades ($68 for 1 oz). I picked shade 5 but shade 6 could work on my skin tone too (FYI, my top three foundations are Clarins Ever Matte 108, Tom Ford Traceless Stick No 5, Burberry Sheer Luminous Trench 6).

The first thought came to my mind was that the finish, texture and coverage felt very similar to those of Burberry Luminous Trench foundation. But LMdB's has slightly thicker formula and hence offers a bit fuller coverage. It's light weight and smooth. I love how it evens out my skin tone and creates a ultra smooth finish.
Swatched under direct sunlight
I also found No 5 a good color match. It leans a bit pinker than my overall facial. LMdB Classic Flawless does oxidize slightly on my skin and warms up to half shade deeper. However, this oxidation falls into my workable zone and isn't as obvious as many other foundations that I must pass over. 

A facial shot. I use LMdB Splendid Frost kaleidoscope kit for eyes and cheeks. Tom Ford Blush Nude on my lips. 

More close-up
LMdB Classic Flawless last all day in humid weather. This, alone, beats my beloved Burberry Sheer Luminous. I didn't need to set it with powder. It stayed fresh for 6 hours then warmed up slightly and looked good until hour 8. Burberry Luminous stays 6 hr only and becomes shiny and fates quickly after 6 hours.

The only throw-offs, you may not be surprised, are parabens and mineral oils. I try to avoid these ingredients in my makeup and skincare as much as possible. I prefer Burberry's for color match and preservative-free, but it's only because it suits my taste better than LMdB Classic Flawless. If those ingredients ain't your concern and you prefer natural full coverage and long-wearing formula, LMdB got you covered.

Bottom line. Highly recommended! 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Review: Chanel Cream Blush 65 Affinite

Chanel Le Blush Creme de Chanel 65 Affinite ($38 for 0.09 oz) is one of the new six cream blushes from the brand, and was probably the most sought after. It was unavailable for a while after the launch of the other fives. I scooped mine up on but now you can order it at Chanel counters of major department stores and online.
Before testing Chanel cream blushes at the counter, I was leaning toward Dior cream blushes for their lovely colors and creamy texture. Yet Chanel's really swept me off my feet. They melt into the skin seamlessly in the matte finish that mimics your skin texture. But no worries, you still have time to blend the blushes out afterward. The texture is very different from traditional cream blushes. They're not sticky. It crosses between cream and powder. I love applying Affinite with clean fingers. It's just easy and really quick. Chanel cream blushes are simply lovely and beautiful! 

Affinite is a bright watermelon pink that resembles healthy blushing cheeks after good work-out. Although it's bright pink, I find it different from all the pink blushes I have (here and here). It leans more watermelon and warmer. That's why I picked it up :D.

Stronger direct sunlight
Blent out - this is how I love to wear Affinite. 

Chanel Affinite wears well for a full working day under the ridiculously humid weather we had here in Houston. If you're looking for a long-wearing, natural, easy-to-use and low maintenance kind of blush, the new generation of Chanel cream blushes got you cover. 

Now, I think the price point is actually reasonable, especially for a bright shade like Affinite. A little goes a long way. It vaporizes almost instantly on the cheeks that you don't waste much product. 

Finally, the ingredients

Bottom line. Phenomenal quality! Affinite is a must-have for those who want an instant pick-me-up complexion. I highly recommend for all skin tones and types.

Have you tried the new Chanel cream blushes? What's your favorite?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Review: Tom Ford Blush 05 Wicked

Another brilliant design by Tom Ford is his cheek color in Wicked ($56 for 0.28 oz, a slightly raised price recently).  I hate to sound like a broken record when it comes to raving Tom Ford blushes. I think his blushes are the very best on the market and the one product you must own from the brand or any brand. They're different. They have phenomenal quality. The price is putting off for the first splurge but the amount of product he offers is nowhere near skimpy. For more reviews of my Tom Ford blush collection, please click here. I've shared my thoughts on all but Frantic Pink.

Wicked is a beautiful cool medium pink with ultra fine pink shimmer. And again, Tom Ford shimmer gives you a sheen rather than the visible sparkle. So please don't be concerned by pink shimmer. It has higher shine finish yet less red and blue undertone than the 2012 limited edition Narcissist. Despite the shimmer, Wicked still looks very natural. Narcissist is my true blushing color after a good exercise hour and Wicked mimics my cheeks when the weather is warming up. 

Tom Ford Wiched against Chanel Rose Initiale, Splendid Frost Tier 3, Nars Orgasm and Benefit Coralista
Like his other powder product, Wicked is velvety smooth and melts into the skin seamlessly. Tom Ford blushes require hardly any blending at all with a dense blush brush. I only dab the brush on the pan to pick up the color then gently dab it on my cheeks. I simply repeat the process for more pigmented result. 

Wicked, as I expected, wears well for good 10 hours in humid weather. I've been attempting to take a facial shot of Wicked but none turned out true color. So I'll post a look with wicked as soon as the camera cooperates (I gotta blame something, you know:D). 

Bottom line. Exceptional all around as expected! A true must-have. I highly recommend it for all skin tones and types.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Review: Le Metier de Beaute Kaleidoscope Eye Kit Spendid Frost - Holiday 2010 Limited Edition

 Why on earth am I reviewing a holiday 2010 limited edition that was sold out moons ago? Well, I'm new to Le Metier de Beaute and have long desired to try out its Kaleidoscope kit. When Spendid Frost came about 3 years ago, I missed it and subsequently lost the interest to get other kits. I took a mental note to start the journey with LMdB if I could find a decent substitute for Splendid Frost. None came close to the impression with it and I thought it would be forever...

While I was chatting at LMdB counter the other day, the SA pulled Splendid Frost out from the drawer. It wasn't on display and I literally screamed. I had to have it. Although the second tier was slightly touched and the pan came off (which I didn't find out until I got home), I decided to keep it. I wanted to see if Splendid Frost was good enough for a thorough experiment with the brand and if I would regret not to return it.

Splendid Frost is the most expensive single piece of makeup I've ever splurged. The jaw-dropping $95 for 0.44 oz or $23 for 0.11 oz per shade is very comparable to other designer brands like Burberry, Dior, Chanel, Guerlain, etc.. even a little bit less painful. LMdB is priced the same as Tom Ford per ounce; both are about $214/oz. It's the initial investment we need to get through :D.

(Click to enlarge the image)
Now, let's see if Splendid Frost delivers the expensive quality. It offers four gorgeous colors arranged on 4-tier compact. You have a shimmery gold taupe, a matte light grey, a shimmery pink peach and a fabulous blue with purple shimmer. The shimmer looks striking in the pans but very subtle on the lids. Despite the diverse finishes and tones, all colors blend together so well without getting muddy. They also complement each other well. The 3rd tier shade could be a blush if you're fair but it didn't show up much on my light medium skin. It's also the sheerest of the bunch. The other three shades are highly pigmented and go on opaque in just one layer. 

I'm blown away by the texture, silkily smooth and ultra blendable. All for shades melt into the skin, making the blending and layering a piece of cake. Dark shades like tier 4 (Burberry Midnight Blue for example) tend to fall down onto my cheeks when I blend them away but I experienced zero fall-outs with any shade of Splendid Frost. Where you place the colors is where they sit and melt together. Impressive! 

 (Click to enlarge) Swatched under direct sunlight

(Click to enlarge) Contrasting finishes: Matte - Satin - Shimmer - High Shimmer

(Click to enlarge) On my lids: tier 2 and 3 were mixed for the crease. Tier 1 is the main lid color and Tier 4 is the focus of the look. 
The wearing is equally impressive. I used a standard primer and Splendid Frost stayed in place for 12 hours until being removed. I couldn't be happier with the quality of a powder eyeshadow palette, which brings me to the packaging.

Some people really enjoy the gimmicky slide-in-slide-out design of LMdB's kaleidoscope kits. I find the pans fling out too freely, which is OK on the counter rather than in the bag. I'd prefer four shades in the same plane like the regular eyeshadow palette. You wouldn't have to slide out 4 tiers to access the color. A mirror would be nice too. The particular kit I own isn't very sturdy. The pan comes off of tier 2, which has been reported a quite common problem with kaleidoscope kit. I hope LMdB will fix it for the sake of convenience and the hefty price tag.

Is Splendid Frost a must have? Quality-wise I would say Heck Yes!!!! But you'll get this type of quality from their single eyeshadows anyway. The colors of Splendid Frost isn't original. The golden taupe shade from Guerlain Place Vendome is only a slight touch lighter and more golden than tier 1. Burberry Midnight Blue has more grey and purple and deeper than tier 4, while the blue shade of Guerlain Place Vendome has more blue. However,  Splendid Forst delivers way better quality than Guerlain Place Vendome, much smoother and more pigmented.

Tier 3, a pink peach, is closet to Chanel Rose Initial blush. Tom Ford Wicked has more shimmer and pinker. Nars Orgasm and Benefit Coralista are peachier and more golden. Mixing Nars Orgasm and Chanel Rose Initial will be the dupe for Tier 3. However the texture of tier 3 is almost as smooth as Tom Ford Wicked.  
For all those possible alternatives, I don't think Splendid Frost is a must-have for me nor everyone.

Lastly, I'd like to share a few thoughts on Couches de Couleurs (or layering colors literally) that is heavily promoted by LMdB.

I highly recommend you check out Messy Wands' detailed description on this topic. Basically, you can layer LMdB eyeshadows in many ways, including mixing cool and warm colors and contrasting texture to define the eyes. The shades can be broken down into 4 categories, brighten, warmth, focus and depth. Depending on your skin tone (and preferences), no two people's categories resemble exactly.

Now, I think this technique is a neat way for an average makeup user like me to navigate through zillions of eyeshadows all depths and finishes. However, I find it neither innovating nor original. Put aside the fancy terminology, we've seen this technique (although under no label) used by celebrity makeup artists like Mary Greenwell, Lisa Eldridge, Charlotte Tilburry, Pat McGrath, and self-taught makeup artists slash youtubers like Michelle Phan, TiffanyD, Raeviewer to name a few. And even a makeup amateur like me has layered colors and mixed textures that same way.

 (Click to enlarge) The ingredients

More ingredients on the side of the box? Not sure if it's for all kaleidoscope kits

Bottom line. Nice to have! A truly beautiful beginning with Le Metier de Beaute. The quality and the color intrigue me to check out the entire line. However, I believe you can be equally happy with their single eyeshadows or find the dupes in your own collection.

What do you think of Spendid Frost and Le Metier de Beaute? 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Review: Tom Ford Eye Color Quad No 3 Cocoa Mirage

You probably know already that I have a thing for Tom Ford Beauty. I like the master mind behind it and the products speak to me. I trust the brand with its brilliantly executed shimmer/glitter powder products. The promo pictures always features dramatic makeup. It took me by a huge surprise that I would go crazy about a matte neutral understated chic eyeshadow palette by Tom Ford. Cocoa Mirage, in my opinion, is the very best Tom Ford's eye color quad, although it doesn't contain a Ford signature glitter shade nor the high-shine shimmer. By the way, I raved about Tom Ford shimmer and glitter in every post of the brand and why I, a self-diagnosed anti-shimmer-eyeshadow gal, love to wear them. So please don't let the word shimmer worry you!

Tom Ford Eye Color Quad 03 Cocoa Mirage ($78 for 0.35 oz) comes in the signature golden-rimmed brown case with a large mirrors and double-ended applicators which turned out quite good. It offers four stunning neutrals: a matte ivory, a matte medium brown, a matte deep brown and a rich cocoa brown with a hint of plum/bronze shimmer. The shimmer is so fine that you don't actually see it on the lids. What detectable is just the sheen that adds interesting twist to the rather basic color palette. I've found matte eyeshadows tend to have dry texture and look chalky on the skin. The three matte shades of Cocoa Mirage are however incredibly soft and pigmented. The shimmery cocoa brown is less pigmented than the other three yet it's still an opaque shade. 

Capturing the true tone of Cocoa Mirage was a heck of a challenge. Under the direct sunlight, the palette looks rather warm. I took the pictures under different lighting to show you the sophisticated colors.

Warm lighting

Brighter and cooler lighting

Like other Tom Ford powder products, all four shades of Cocoa Mirage are velvet smooth and melt into the skin seamlessly. What I really adore about this particular quad is that all four shades work unbelievably harmoniously that you won't be able to tell where one color ends and another starts. It's a truly fool-proof quad. Cocoa Mirage is therefore ideal for professional settings but you can definitely smoke it up for edgier looks.

Cocoa Mirage will also complement all skin tones. The neutral browns that work for both cool and warm tone without making us look bruised and swollen. I have loads of neutrals brown, taupe, grey, mauve, and the likes but none is as neutral as Cocoa Mirage. For your reference, Tom Ford Cognac Sable is considerably warmer and Golden Mink is slightly cooler. 

Cocoa Mirage stays put for 8 hours straight without a primer and looks fresh past hour 12 with a standard primer. I tested it out during the 115F temperature and 80% humidity weather in Houston. The colors didn't fall out or fade but creased a little after 8 hours on my bare lids. 

(Click to enlarge) Neutral lighting

(Click to enlarge) Warm lighting

(Click to enlarge) Cool lighting

All four shades on my lids. Very subtle yet flattering. 

Tom Ford Beauty comes with huge price tag. I did a calculation on the eyeshadow here. Price per ounce, Tom Ford eyeshadow quad is actually more affordable than Dior and about the same as Le Metier de Beaute Kaleidoscope Eye Kit. The eyeshadow turns out to be the least overpriced in the line :D. For me, Cocoa Mirage is well worth the investment. I've been wearing it non-stop for the past month. It now sits the top 3 all time favorite eyeshadow palettes besides Dior 5-color Beige Massai and Chanel 4-color Kaska Beige, both were discontinued. 

Last but not least, the ingredients
(Click to enlarge) The ingredients

Bottom line. All around a phenomenal quad! Neutral eyeshadows fanatics, you must check out Tom Ford Cocoa Mirage, I insist. 
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