Sunday, December 21, 2014

Review: Tom Ford Lips and Boys - Giacomo, Cary, Didier

As Tom Ford usually does to us makeup fanatics, he somehow convinced me to order sight unseen more than one limited edition lipsticks from the Lips and Boys collection. And I usually just go one lipstick at a time. On a more self-forgiving note, this collection contains 50 (FIFTY) shades so 7 doesn't sound that bad. I based my decisions mostly on my previous experience with his lipsticks, stock images, and some unconfirmed information on repromoted shades. In other words, this haul was a leap of faith in Tom Ford. And boy, he does not disappoint.

The most frequently asked questions I've noticed is how mini these lipsticks are. Priced at $32 each for 0.7 oz compared to a full-size version at $50 for 0.1 oz, they are actually less expensive. Because the price is friendlier, I image they will be more appealing to a larger group of customers. As someone who mainly just touches-up lip makeup, I really appreciate a lighter version to carry around. Also, I love the skinnier bullets of the minis for precise application.

The first three shades that arrived are Giacomo, Cary (Casablanca in permanent range), Didier. It's funny to refer to a lipstick as he. Anyway.

Giacomo  is a satin bright deep rose. The shimmer is so fine that it's only visible under direct sunlight It's 70s I tell you. Very Tom Ford! He's bright yet still muted enough for daily look. I love to sport him as a statement lips with a very natural complexion. Giacomo is the most exotic pink of the three, in my opinion. Coincidently his names sounds exotic eh?

Cary is a more redden plum version of Collin (Indian Rose). They are very similar in tone. Cary doesn't have any shimmer yet it still has some sheen finish. Although the muted plum undertone makes it a safe my-lip-but-better choice, I think he adds interesting plum touch to the lips. 

Didier is a satin deep plum rose with ultra fine fuchsia shimmer. This particular shimmer reminds me of that in Tom Ford Ravish and Wicked blushes. It's edgy and lovely! Didier is the most moisturizing of the bunch. He's sheerer and brighter on my lips than in the tube. But by no mean it's a sheer lipstick. 

Giacomo is the most rosy. Cary has the most brown. Didier has the most plum with fuchsia tint. 

All three shades wear well for 5 hours, surviving lunch and many glasses of water. They moisturize my lips and feel so comfortable. In fact, after these lippies were washed out down to a stain, they still have the same undertone and look pretty. I do need a lip balm as usual but Tom Form's creamy lipsticks don't dry out my lips. This quality is consistent across his range. In this case, I slightly prefer the hydrating performance of Didier to the other two, although all three deliver the Tom Ford quality that I want.

Now it's time for some lipswatches.

 See how Didier is considerably deeper in the tube?

Were you able to resist or wait for counter swatching? What did you pick up? How do you like these boys?

Peter, Alasdhair, Addison and Richard are on the way. I hope to get the review early enough before they're once again sold out. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Wedding makeup: Collaboration with

Weddings are special. The energy of the couple and the excitement (and craziness) that friends and family bring into the event make it one of the most cherished memories of life, don't you think? When, an online one stop shopping and wedding planning site invites me to style their wedding dress, I thought this would be a great way to share my love and hopefully to help some of my bride-to-be readers. is designed for the modern couples who want to take the wedding planning in their hands. They own every step of the planning from choosing the right bridal gown, flower arrangement to putting together a delicious menu to staying on the budget. You can find great wedding inspiration, save your ideas and shop with Think about pinterest in an interactive platform! 

Today, I'd like to share my picks from's stunning bridal gown collections and how I would style the makeup.  

Look 1: Classic Chic

This elegant and luxurious Monique Lhuillier's Poet dress has a silk white double layered Chantilly lace with embellished bateau neck and back. I love the contrast and complement between the simple straight line cut that hugs the body lightly and the delicate floral lace on the chest. Chic. Timeless. Feminine. The bride who choose this gown, I image, is quietly confident and will love an understated chic wedding. 

The makeup

To keep it chic yet modern and interesting, I opt for soft smokey rosy-tinted eyes (Urban Decay Naked palette 3 layering on top of (Laura Mercier caviar stick Cocoa) paired with nude pink lips (Nars Audacious lipstick in Raquel is perfect!) and a glowly flawless complexion. Since there will be lots of tears, kisses, eating, drink, dancing involved and many photos taken, the makeup should have waterproof formula and be applied in layers. I love Dior Star Fluid foundation and concealer to create flawless skin. I would first layer Edward Bess Compact Rouge in Love Affair and All Over Seduction in Sunlight on the cheeks, then finish off with Tom Ford blush in Frantic Pink. Classic Chic

Look 2: Modern Princess

Monique Lhuillier's Sentimental dress can be any girl's dream. It has a classic and universally flattery A-line blended with trumpet silhouette. Also covered in silk white Chantilly lace, Sentimental brings out our inner princess and adds extravagant air to the bride. I'm sure a Sentimental bride feels beautiful inside out. She knows that she's loved. And she's not afraid of being drowned in an ultimate luxurious wedding gown.

The makeup

This stunning Monique Lhuillier number is such a statement piece. I want the makeup to complement the dress without either being overwhelmed by the beautiful lace or competing with it. So I focus on a pair of lustrous bright pink lips (YSL Rouge Pur Couture) and healthy glowly flush of pink on the cheeks using Chanel cream blush in Affinite and Becca Skin Shimmering Perfector in Moonstone. The key here is to keep the complexion very very natural and avoid big dolly eyelashes (I love Diorshow Iconic Waterproof Mascara). Since Chantecaille Future Skin cream foundation offers this natural effect, I need a more heavy duty concealer like Bobbi Brown creamy concealer kit to cover blemishes (and only where needed). Modern Princess

Look 3: Undone beach beauty

If you're having a more casual relaxed wedding like on the beach, Coren Moore's Zoe dress will be a perfect candidate. It features a sweetheart neck with full ruched bodice.  Skirt is fitted through the hips with asymmetrical layers. Interior features hand sewn corset that provides form and support for the body. I thought this Coren Moore's number looks effortlessly elegant and comfortable.

The makeup

For this flowy number, I want to create a relaxed and undone look where a blushing golden bronze complexion takes the center stage. Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge Pale Pink can be used on both cheeks and lips to break the bronze on bronze cliche. To complete this look, I would use a neutral gold eyeshadow palette such as Burberry Golden No 25. The eyes would blend in with the bronze/golden theme yet neutral enough to keep the whole look natural and relaxing. The finishing touch would be adding some glow on the cheeks (theBalm Mary-Lou Manizer) and lips and a bit of mascara. Beach Beauty

Look 4: Grown-up girly

Ah, another masterpiece from Monique Lhuilier. I LOVE that the Grecian full dress adorned by the Chantilly lace sleeves and the silk chiffon illusion neckline! This Monique Lhuillier's Analise gown is feminine, romantic, chic and alluring all at the same. It accentuates the waist line without a bodice making it more comfortable yet modern.

The makeup

Since Analise dress radiates such an elfin vibe, I want a grown-up girly look to complement it. All starts with a natural canvas with Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick and Nars Creamy Concealer. Urban Decay Optical Blurring brush is my favorite to blend out stick foundation. I opted for a neutral light pink lips (Nars Audacious lipstick in Anita) and bit of contouring using Urban Decay Naked Flush (contour/highlight/blush palette). Now, we often think of a pink eyeshadow palette as a must for a girly look. I myself never fancy rocking pink eyeshadows. They don't look good on me and I thought that would be predictable. Instead, I would use Tom Ford eyecolor quad in Orchid Haze. It features a champagne, a warm taupe, a pinky plump and a burgundy brown. You would still get that soft pink hazy effect without overly pinking everything if that makes sense. Grown-up Girly

There you have it. What is your favorite look? How will you style these dresses?

Hope you have fun with this post and don't forget to check out!

Joanne x

This is not a sponsored post. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Review: Laura Mercier Mini Caviar Stick Eye Color Set - Holiday 2014

Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Colors have been on my wish list for a while. For some reason, I never got around to grab any of them. So when the brand released a limited edition set of 6 mini eyecolor sticks, I jumped at the opportunities. 

The set ($55 for 6 sticks of 0.03 oz/1 g each) contains Rosegold, Amethyst, Moonlight, Copper, Khai and Cocoa. They are all lovely and beautiful. I love how these colors work well together among themselves and are neutral enough to compliment bolder colors in my stash.

- Rosegold: a shimmery warm champagne. It matches my warm skintone NC20-25 perfectly, neither too warm nor too bright. I love it on its own as a wash of color that will radiate a subtle sheen.
- Amethyst: a shimmery taupy plum, also a great lid color. It looks pretty on by itself or as a base color for your mauve, plump or taupe laid on top.
- Moonlight: a highly shimmery cool taupe. It's the most shimmery of the bunch and a great highlighter. I love to apply it in the inner corners of my eyes then blend it out to soften the metallic finish for a more natural result.
- Copper: a shimmery warm peach.
- Khaki: a satin green khaki that looks pretty as a sheer wash of color or when built up for intensity. I love it for a soft smokey eye looks, something more interesting than a ever-predictable black/grey theme.
- Cocoa: a satin deep brown that works well as a crease color and an eyeliner. It ain't just another brown. It brings depth and definition to the eyes without looking too warm nor too cool.

All the colors glides on the skin so effortlessly that requires minimum blending. They all dry fast yet I still have enough time to blend the colors. I would recommend you blend the first color as soon as you apply it before moving on to the next, though. Once the colors set, they won't budge for good 6 hours (without a primer) to 8 hours (with a primer) on my lids.

These caviar sticks are mechanical so you won't need a pencil sharpener. No product will be wasted. I apply the colors directly from the pencil then blend them out with my clean fingers. It's really easy and fool proof.

Now let's chat about the value of this set. A full size caviar stick is retailed at $28 for 0.05 oz. You have 6 x 0.03 oz (0.18 oz) for $55. This amount would have been worth $100. The nice thing is you have 6 color variations. This set by far is my favorite holiday set from any brand this year. The value is awesome but more importantly the quality is superb.

Laura Mercier Mini Caviar Stick Eye Color set will be a perfect gift for makeup beginner as it's so easy-to-use, color-wise and application-wise. And your makeup connoisseur friends will love it too. Don't let the shimmer concern you as it's subtle and buildable accordingly to your taste.

One more close-up
Bottom line. Big love. If perfection exists, this is it. I can't say enough good things about this set.

You can find this set at department stores Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman. Sephora has a set of 4 (minus Copper and Khaki) that get sold out quickly. It showed up online for a while then disappeared again. So if you're patient, you might be able to get it.

Have you tried Laura Mercier caviar stick eye colors? How do you like them?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Review: Tom Ford Contouring Cheek Color Duos Softcore and Stroked Fall 2014

As I am typing this line, the two limited edition Contouring Cheek Color Duos Fall 2014 Softcore and Stroked ($77 for 0.7 oz) are on and off available on If you haven't had a chance to try them at the counter or are on the fence of whether to invest, I urge them to grab them both! The reason? For me: it's Tom Ford cheek product, duh! I have come to love (and collected) all Tom Ford powder blushes. The formula, the color, the texture, the wearing, worth every single penny. So these two cheek duos were what I most anticipated from his fall collection, not Nude Dip eyeshadow quad you guys. 

But if you haven't had the same experience as I've had with his blushes, I hope this review will help you to decide whether Softcore and Stroked deserve a place in your makeup collection. 

First, let's take a look at these stunning cheek duos. 

Softcore is a frosty pinkish champaign highlighter (hint of metallic finish) and a matte reddish brown. This palette leans cool on my warm skin although it's not too cool to the point I can't wear it. I need to go extra easy on the highlighter shades or else it can look ashy. 

Stroked has a shimmery golden champaign highlighter and a shimmery warm medium brown that's not as deep as the contouring shade in Softcore. It's no surprise that Stroked looks more natural on my warm skin tone than Softcore but it's neutral enough that I think it will flatter cooler skin tones as well. 

You can tell right away that these aren't typical greyish, taupe or brown that we regular makeup users think of. And I'm so glad they aren't. While the taupe color family might more like "killer cheek bones" in photos, I much prefer these reddish warm brown for everyday contouring. 

Softcore and Stroked deliver a phenomenal quality just as I expected from Tom Ford wonderful powder blushes. The highligher shades add a lovely glow to my cheeks as if my skin is that healthy even under the dreadful car lighting. Both the highlighting and contouring shades are seamlessly blendable. They don't require much blending to look natural. The texture feels so smooth like velvet. Both palettes wear well for 8-10 hours without fading. 

Some other favorites of mine: Bobbi Brown Pink Oyster shimmer brick, Dior Amber Diamond, Tom Ford Ravish blush, the Balm Mary Lou Manizer, Dior Rose Diamond

The highlighter shades compared to some highlighters

The closet to Stroked highlighter shade in my collection is Dior Amber Diamond. The Balm Mary Lou Manizer has more beige than Stroked. Bobbi Brown Pink Oyster is quite similar to Softcore. But all in all, I love the texture and the blendability of Tom Ford's duos the best. I also think they give me a more believable glow than the rest. 

The contouring shades compared to Tom Ford Ravish blush

Contouring cheeks aren't either my type or my strong suit. These duos make contouring very easy.
They help me sculpt my face effortlessly for everyday and natural looks. The key is to use a very light hand because these babies are richly pigmented. For those of you who have deeper skin tones or you prefer strong dramatic sculpted face, you won't be disappointed either. I would recommend you use lighter hand to contour your temples and hair light still.

Nude Dip on the eyes, Softcore on the cheeks, Twist of Fate on the lips

Now let's talk the price. Tom Ford contouring cheek color duos are priced at hefty $77 for 0.7 oz/20 g of product. That's a lot compared to other designer brands, and to Tom Ford itself. Tom Ford Shade and Illuminate (cream formula) offer 0.49 oz/14 g of products at $77 while his blushes are $57 for 0.28 oz/8 g of powder. These duos, I tell you, will last a long long time given how pigmented they are and the amount of product they offer. 

Bottom line: Pure love! Softcore and Stroked should be a part of permanent range. 

Have you cheek our Softcore and Stroked? How do you like them? What brushes are you using to apply them? 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Tom Ford Beauty Fall 2014 - Addition of Softcore

My apologies for lacking of posts lately, especially reviews on the instantly-sold-old Tom Ford Beauty Fall 2014 collection. My excuse is a cliche yet true - my crazy work schedule. I'm enjoying my job and got sucked up with it. Anyway, I need to update you guys with my latest obsession of Tom Ford Beauty - his contouring cheek color duos. They're my favorite from the line and from any other brands I've tested!! Love. Admired. Obsessed. Use them everyday since August.

Remember I was pondering on the other cheek contouring color Softcore in August? (please check out this preview of the collection here). You guested it. I love Stroked so much that I decided to splurge on Softcore via Below are my final picks from the collection.

(Click to enlarge)

And here is a close-up of Softcore and Stroked (under direct sunlight).

Both Softcore and Stroked are extremely pigmented so I would recommend a not so dense brush and a light hand. You can certainly build up for more dramatic contouring/highlighting effect. I've been sporting them non-stop for day looks and beyond happy with both. Reviews are coming I promised!

Which do you prefer Softcore or Stroked?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Preview - My Pick of Tom Ford Beauty Fall 2014

As you're reading this post, Tom Ford Beauty Fall 2014 is already sold out online, especially the eyecolor quad Nude Dip. This light-speed disappearance of Mr. Ford's limited editions happens every season but this fall it's ridiculously fast. So call around the counters and grab them immediately before they're gone. My recommendation is the entire collection, which isn't helpful I guess. If you're warm toned like me then Stroke contouring duo and Twist of Fate lipstick are must-haves. Nude Dip works for everyone and offers superb quality. If you lean more cool-toned, then Softcore will look beautiful on you. 

I'm still playing around with the purchased items. Here are a few thoughts

Nude Dip eyecolor quad is stunning. Although it's a neutral quad and quite dupable color-wise, the texture and finishes are unmatched. It has peach, champagne, taupe, and cool bronze theme that will flatter all skin tones. Tom Ford shimmer is wearable and sophisticated. Still, Nude Dip is all the heavier shimmer side so you need to at least like to have some sheen for your eyes. I prefer to use it dry for less intensity of the frost finish but the wet look is really sexy. It weights noticeably less than a permanent quad (0.21 oz/6 g vs. 0.35 oz/10 g). I still think it's worth $79. Highly-recommended!

The most intriguing item to me, however, are the two contouring cheek duos. Given how much I love Tom Ford blushes, it's no surprise that I must jump into any new powder products. Stroked is warmer and Softcore is cooler and more berry in both highlighting and contouring shades. I skipped Softcore due to the highlighter that can easily look ashy if I'm not careful. The contouring shade in Softcore palette however is gorgeous. I'm debating whether to get it just for that.

 The contouring cheek duo is housed in the similar case as the Shade and Illuminate, yet it offers more product ( 0.7 oz/ 20 g vs. 0.49 oz/14 g). Each shade also has more product than a blush (0.7 oz/20 g for 2 shades vs. 0.28 oz/8 g of blush). I have doubled checked and neither Stroked nor Softcore is similar to any blushes ever offered by Tom Ford. So no worries on the duplicate and more reason to splurge on these lovely duos.

Finally, Twist of Fate was a pleasant surprise. We have to gush no more about the formula of Tom Ford lipsticks. I LOVE this muted and somehow bright coral on my lips. It's deeper and has more brown than Burberry Devon Sunset but belongs to the same coral family. It's beautiful!!

Have you picked up Tom Ford Beauty Fall 2014? Any favorites? Or you have the super power to resist it then share your secrets here with us.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Swatch and Review: Tom Ford Blushes Love Lust, Frantic Pink, Flush, Savage, Ravish, Wicked, Narcissist

(Click to enlarge) Tom Ford blushes side by side 

I fell in love with Tom Ford Beauty so quickly staring with his Cognac Sable eyeshadow quad and Shade and Illuminate duo Intensity 2. But not until I dusted Narcissist on my cheeks has my love for the brand completely established. Permanently. Then I of course went back to the counter for more blushes, more eyeshadows, lipsticks, primer, foundation stick, brow pencil and most recently his insanely good brushes.

If you want to just own a single Tom Ford item, grab a blush. I finally managed to get all of Tom Ford current blushes and swatched them here for you. How beautiful, edgy, sensual, opulent, extravagant, impeccable they are! They deliver phenomenal quality and are surprisingly wearable! If you want to read my detailed review of each shade, please choose below 

Close-up under direct sunlight


Neutral Lighting

Direct sunlight

Cool lighting
  • 01 Love Lust -  a golden brown peach and cool pink shimmer that has high shine on the skin. It can be used as a highlighter. 
  • 02 Frantic Pink - a soft peachy pink with golden shimmer. It's gorgeous layering over Edward Bess Compact Rouge Love Affair or Chanel Cream Blush Affinite
  • 03 Flush - a vibrant peachy coral and coral shimmer. It's my favorite pick-me-up blush after a long night or the sun doesn't shine as brightly. 
  • 04 Savage - an opulent red brown and cool pink shimmer. It's stunning for contouring or as a bronzer, but remember to use a light hand. 
  • 05 Ravish - a pinky brown and cool pink shimmer, and probably the most versatile shade of the bunch. If I had to pick one blush to travel with, it'd be Ravish. 
  • 06 Wicked - a cool medium pink with pink shimmer and a toned down version of Narcissist and less red. 
  • 07 Narcissist - a vibrant red pink with blue undertone and tiny pink shimmer and the least shimmery shade of the bunch. This is where my love for Tom Ford blushes begin. Use a very light hand and what you'll get is a healthy blushing glow as if you just came back from a walk. 

Tom Ford blushes have a velvety smooth. They melt seamlessly into the skin like the second skin. They never cake up nor look powdery. They all have ultra fine shimmer, although at different levels. You will have a sheen on your cheeks without visible sparkles. Your skin will have a ridiculously beautiful healthy glow. And hold on, it's not all. Tom Ford blushes stay put all day, even under a humid weather like Houston summer. Highly pigmented except for Frantic Pink.

I would recommend several brushes for Tom Ford blushes
  • For Narcissist, I've found a not so dense brush like MAC 168 pick up just enough color and great for blending. 
  • For Frantic Pink, Tom Ford blush brush seems to work best to pick up color if you want to use it alone. In case of layering, Studio Gear blush brush #13 or rouge brush #14 are both good options. 
  • For the rest, use a dense brush to pick up the color then dab lightly to build up the colors. Any blush brush would work for those shades really. However, I've found natural-haired brushes pick up and blends the colors better since they're highly pigmented. 
There you have it. My makeup collection heavily gear toward eyeshadows, yet I dare to own all shades of Tom Ford cheek colors. THAT's how much I love them. Do you have any favorite among those blushes? Or you swear by a different brand? Share away guys... 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Review: Tom Ford Eye Color Quad Orchid Haze

Tom Ford Eye Color Quad Orchid Haze ($78 for 0.35 oz) was the new release from Fall 2013 collection. When entering the market last year, it created quite a buzz for the exquisite color coordination and finishes (I think). However, I resisted to review it sooner as I wasn't sure if I loved it enough to mention it  finally I know how to wear this palette to suit my style!

Orchid Haze has very complex colors that I haven't found accurate words to describe. You have a shimmery neutral champagne, a shimmery taupe/mauve, a shimmery pinkish plum, and finally a beautiful matte deep plum. The whole palette radiates a warm rosy vibe, which I haven't gotten used to see myself in it. Maybe that's why Orchid Haze is my first eyeshadow palette of this color theme.

In the pans, it looks like you get three shimmering shades. In reality, however, they lean more toward pearly and frosty finishes. Don't let the shimmer/frost scare you away if you tend to wear more subdued eyeshadows. I can't stress this enough - Tom Ford is the beauty brand that execute shimmer/glitter brilliantly. You won't walk out of your house like a disco-ball. It's office-friendly.

All four shades look lovely on my warm skin tone thanks to the warm undertone. I just don't feel it. Maybe my type of colors need to be more neutral. I use Tom Ford eyeshadow brush to apply the pinky plum on my lids and that's enough pink. My eyes can look a bit irritated if I don't pay attention. I also need to apply the matte deep plum lightly or else it'll look harsh. The warm taupe also works wonderful as a lid color or a highlighter to brighten up the inner corner of my eyes. My friends and colleagues love Orchid Haze on me! Me, just OK:)  What I love about this palette is that it adds interesting rosy touch to a rather neutral and predictable colors. You know what I mean?

Swatched under direct sunlight
Like other Tom Ford eyeshadow quads I've owned so far (Golden Mink, Cognac Sable, Cocoa Mirage), Orchid Haze has velvety smooth texture and stays put for good 8 hours on top of a standard primer. All four shades are richly pigmented and very easy-to-layer. I'm happy with the quality it offers, which is the main reason I keep this palette in my stash. 

The ingredients (click to enlarge)
Bottom line. I'm pleased that Orchid Haze stays in the permanent collection although it's not my top choice of eyeshadow from the brand. The quality is super. Really it's the matter of your taste and your skin tone, you might love it or you might be indifferent like me. or you might have to play around quite a bit until you find the right approach like me. 
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