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Giveaway: BECCA The One Perfecting Brush

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BEAUTY, Beauty News, Featured, Giveaway | by — February 15, 2014

BECCA The One Perfecting Brush 1

When I first heard about Becca’s The One Perfecting Brush, I actually imagined it would resemble a travel sized kabuki brush before I saw any pictures of the actual product.  When the brush arrived in the mail, I was in for a surprise by how much bigger it turned out to be! The brush is practically the same size as my work Blackberry mobile phone (9cm wide).

If you’re wondering how such a large sized brush is meant to be used for so many products, the key tip for using this brush is applying your makeup in the right sequence, and prepping the brush according to the type application (eg. targeted vs. all over application).

BECCA The One Perfecting Brush 2

What they say:

From start to finish, primer to powder, The One Perfecting Brush can be used with liquids, crèmes, powders and anything in between. Non-porous, high-quality goat hair allows product to sit on top of bristles rather than absorbing, ensuring a seamless application with no wasted product.  Cuts makeup application in half by replacing these 10 tools: foundation, powder, contour, bronzer, stipple, blush, fan, and concealer brushes, kabuki, and sponge.

The Specs

  • The goat hair bristles measure 9cm wide (the body measures 7cm wide), and the bristles are 2.5cm in depth, which allows for application on both large and smaller surface areas.
  • Features flat edges as well as curved corners to suit the contours your face as well as targeted application.
  • The bristles are free of dye, so they won’t lose shape or softness over time.
  • The long flexible bristles lets you stipple, blend, contour and highlight.

BECCA The One Perfecting Brush 3

 

My Experience

Here’s my preferred sequence that minimises colour transfer, and application tips for best results.
  • Foundation: Apply some foundation on the back of your hand, and buff the brush into the foundation back & forth so that it’s evenly loaded onto the brush then buff it into the skin.  The other way I like to use this brush is after I’ve applied foundation with my fingers & buff it at the end for a more natural finish.  This is my favourite use for the brush as it cut down my foundation application time easily by half.
  • Concealer: After applying concealer with my ring finger under my eyes, I use the tip of the brush to blend & remove any excess.
  • Highlighter: I prefer to use liquid illuminators with this brush, as it’s easier to control the intensity & looks more natural.  
  • Blush: I was most impressed by how well it worked with both powder and cream blushes.  The finish is impeccably blended and natural by using just the corner tips of the brush.  I tested it with a sheer blush by dipping the corner into it, and actually got a more pigmented result with the brush.  With cream blush, I dotted it onto cheeks first and the brush blended it so naturally that I needed a second coat and perhaps a lighter hand next time.
  • Contour: I used the opposite tip to apply bronzer to contour, and I must admit I struggled with this part as I’ve been so used to using my Hakuhodo B110BkSL Goat Hair Blush Brush to buff bronzer in circular motions that I struggled to blend it using linear motions.  The result nevertheless was very natural with no harsh contour lines, to the point that my whole cheek appears slightly bronzed instead of a contoured effect (as I have very flat facial features).
  • Bristles: If the softness of Japanese goat hair brushes (eg. Shu Uemura, Suqqu, and high end Hakuhodo brushes) were a 10 out of 10, then I’d rate the softness of the Becca brush as 7.5 or 8 out of 10.  Despite looking splayed in the picture, the bristles are softer than they look and are flexible to achieve a buffed air-brushed effect.

Overall Verdict

In contrast to the density of other goat hair kabuki brushes that tend to be small and dome shaped, I’m really liking the large flat linear shape of the Becca The One Perfecting Brush as it’s much easier to buff skin with fewer strokes, and the air-brushed finish has got me hooked.  The idea of using one brush from start to finish works well if you are committed to washing the brush frequently, and since the bristles are non-porous Becca recommends washing it every 2 weeks if using the brush daily (personally I’d be washing it more frequently).  This is a welcome addition to my brush collection for buffing foundation, under eye concealer and cream blush, however it won’t be replacing my bronzer brush as I am not dexterous enough to change my contour application technique.

Giveaway: Win a Becca The One Perfecting Brush

Becca have kindly offered to give away one brush valued at $65 AUD.  Details of how to enter the giveaway below:

  • Complete the giveaway entry form.
  • Giveaway limited to Australian residents only.  Entries close Friday 22 February 2014 midnight.
  • Winners will be randomly selected via random.org and contacted via email to confirm a delivery address.
  • The winner’s email will be forwarded to Becca to arrange for the prize to delivered by Becca.

Perfecting my complexion with Nars Radiant Cream Compact Foundation & Radiant Creamy Concealer

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BEAUTY, Featured | by — February 8, 2014

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer - Custard

Since slowing things down with Beauty Swatch, I have bought fewer beauty products (eyeshadow, lip products, skincare) and retreated to my obsession with finding the ultimate concealer and waterproof eyeliner.  After one stressful day at work, when another unsuccessful eyeliner had smudged and emphasised my already dark circles, and my angry blemishes had surfaced from beneath the concealer, I found myself gravitating to the Mecca Cosmetica counter to try the Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer (for under eyes) and Nars Concealer (for blemishes), which have been the talk of the town on youtube and countless beauty blogs.

Whilst the reviews of Nars Concealer were more promising, the reviews I’d heard about the Radiant Creamy Concealer were mixed – ranging from glowing reviews from Paris B to word on the street that the coverage is not that great. Being the concealer junkie I am, I bought it anyway to reach my own verdict.  I bought shade Custard for both concealer formulas which was an exact match for my NC20 skin tone.

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer - Custard 3

 

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer

Coveted by artists for its luxurious texture and luminous finish, the Radiant Creamy Concealer evens skin with lightweight medium to high buildable coverage. Enriched with hydrating, multi-action skincare benefits and light diffusing technology, it creates a softer, smoother complexion while instantly obscuring imperfections and diminishing fine lines and signs of fatigue. Long wearing and crease-proof for the perfect cover.

My experience

  • Coverage: Against my very dark circles, I get around 90% coverage upon immediate application, but it lapses back to around 80% coverage by the end of the day which is the norm for me with most creamy concealers.  Whilst it’s not a highlighter, it does add a brightened effect making it ideal for highlighting the nose bridge.  It leaves the concealed area with a smooth diffused finish.  As for blemishes, it works well on acne scars that are pretty much fully recovered, whereas active blemishes are better suited to the waxier formula in the stick version.
  • Texture: What I love most about this concealer is the dense cream texture (not to be confused with slippery) that feels surprisingly lightweight and blends like a dream without sliding around, creasing or caking.  The wand applicator also makes it easy to dot it on precisely where you need it, making it versatile and convenient for touch ups.
  • Longevity: If my holy grail concealers like Vichy Dermafinish Foundation and RMK Concealer are a 10/10, then I’d rate this as an 8/10.

NARS Concealer

Brilliantly obscures imperfections and dark spots with a creamy, vitamin-rich formula that nourishes the skin for all-day wear. Crease-proof and easily blendable for a flawless finish.

My experience

  • Coverage: I tested the coverage mainly on blemishes, and it gives medium coverage buildable to full without looking cakey once blended.   Best for small to medium blemishes aren’t too angry looking.  The concealer fades ever so slightly by the end of the day even when I powder it.
  • Texture: It’s slightly waxy but not overly so when compared with the likes of Shu Uemura or RMK.  Blends easily into skin (if you’ve moisturised well) thanks to the vitamin enriched formula.  I especially love the stick packaging making it easy to dot on concealer directly on the blemish in neat circles, avoiding the need for concealer brushes.
  • Longevity: Using the same rating system above, I’d rate this as 8.5/10.

I wear Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer on its own (by applying a few dots) on days I wear minimal makeup.  For heavier coverage, I apply a small dot of Nars as a brightening concealer layered over a slightly darker and waxier formula.  As for the Nars Concealer stick, I recommend combining it with a medium coverage foundation for best results.

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer - Custard 4

 

NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation

I recently was given the opportunity to try Nars Radiant Cream Compact Foundation in shade Barcelona, a shade that reminded me of bronzer.  It turned out to be the perfect shade for contouring my face using the triangular contouring method popular in Korea,  where an exact match foundation is used for areas in an inverted triangle shape centered on the face, and a darker foundation outside the triangle.

Radiant Cream Compact Foundation brilliantly evens skin with a lightweight, luminous finish. Combining the supple feel of a cream foundation with the sleek ease of a portable compact. The weightless formula blends seamlessly into the skin with a buildable medium coverage, it may be applied wet or dry for artistic versatility. Skin feels soft and comfortable with moisture levels boosted by up to 80% after 12 hours, helping to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and enhancing skin’s radiance. Includes a Radiant Cream Compact Foundation Sponge.

 

NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation - Medium 4 Barcelona 1

Nars’ matte rubber packacing always looks slick when new but attracts finger prints like no other.  I do however love how the refill has an internal lid (no mess!) and clicks easily both in and out of the compact making the refill process a breeze.

NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation - Medium 4 Barcelona 2

My experience

  • Coverage: Medium coverage with a skin-like dewy finish.  It concealed my blemishes by around 70%.
  • Texture: It’s so creamy that you can scoop it out like chocolate mousse.  Use a light hand!  Blends easily into skin & feels moisturising leaving a soft sheen.
  • Longevity: I tested this as a contour product, and the it remained fresh and dewy throughout the day despite my skin being dry and prone to absorbing my makeup.

Overall I love it as a contour product, and I love it even more than Tom Ford’s Shade and Illuminate as it’s more pigmented whilst looking natural, longer lasting, and the contoured effect is much more noticeable with minimal product needed.

NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation - Medium 4 Barcelona 3

You can see the soft shading on my cheeks below.

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Australian price & stockist info

Available in Australia at Mecca Cosmetica

The foundation was provided for consideration.  Both concealers were purchased by me.

How to get the most lipstick swatches (without wrecking your lips)

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BEAUTY, Featured, Lip Articles | by — February 1, 2014

How to get the most lipstick swatches without wrecking your lips

 

I was asked this question a long time back by a fellow beauty blogger, who was intrigued by how I manage to swatch the number of lipsticks I do with such consistency.  The truth is that no single swatch session is the same.  On some days I barely manage to swatch a few, whilst on other days I managed to swatch as many as the products featured in the picture above.

That’s 15 lipsticks and 14 glosses – in one sitting!

What influences how many lip products I can swatch in one go are:

  • the quality of the lipstick
  • the lipstick formulation (eg. matte, stain)
  • my lip condition.

Before I start a swatch session, I will prepare my lips for 2 consecutive days not just in terms of hydration, but also strengthen the lip surface so that it will be more resilient to changing lip colours multiple times.  The best lip balms that both hydrate and strengthen the lip surface are by Uriage, Lanolips and Clarins HydraQuench.  Dr Lipp mainly protects and strengthens the lip surface over night.  To speed up lip exfoliation, I use Carmex. I also try to drink as much water as I can – eg. 1.5 to 2 litres a day – to ensure my lips are as hydrated as possible.

On the day of the swatch session, I will swatch an unforgiving colour (eg. nude, sheer coral) to see if my lips are ready, as these shades will accentuate lip flaws that only become really visible with such a shade.   If there’s a lip flake or two, I will apply extra lip balm and wipe down with a cleansing wipe to see if it comes off.

If the lip flake still lingers on, I may swatch only lip glosses that day, or cancel the swatch session altogether until my lips are ready.  Otherwise I’m good to go & proceed to my swatch routine below.  You can also see a pic of my swatching kit here.

How to get the most out of lipstick swatching (without wrecking your lips)

  • I prepare my lips with a smoothing lip balm such as Mecca Cosmetica Lip De-Luscious which is possibly the best lip balm for swatching as it makes lips look super juicy.  I adjust the amount according to the type of lipstick I’m swatching.  Less for sheer lipsticks, more for creamy matte.
  • Remove lipstick by wiping down gently with a gentle cleansing wipe – eg. Nivea Pure & Natural Facial Cleansing Wipes.  For stubborn stains, use Clinique Take the Day Off.
  • Re-apply lip balm using circular motions to stimulate circulation.
  • In terms of lipstick formulations, start from sheer to shimmer, then move on to mattes and finish with creams.
  • In terms of lipstick shades, start with nudes, pinks, then violets and finish with reds and darker colours.
  • Once you’re done with lipsticks, start swatching glosses in the same order for both formulation and shades.  Lipglosses hide a multitude of lip flaws.

Other tips

  • Don’t swatch staining lip products if you have a large amount of lipstick to swatch. Dedicate a separate day for lip stains.
  • Don’t remove lip products from the lip brush with a brush cleanser as this will strip your lips of moisture.  Instead use a cleansing wipe to clean the lip brush as best you can.
  • Lips look their fullest after a hot shower, or after sipping hot tea.
  • Having multiple lip brushes is handy so that you can rotate them for different shades.  See my post on which lip brushes I recommend for which lipstick formulas.
  • Molton Brown Pep-Rich Lip Booster is another awesome lip booster that revives tired, flat looking lips into plump, firm and sculpted looking lips.  It’s so expensive that I save it only for tutorials.

I realise that now that I have blogged about how I get through a swatching marathon, the obvious question that will come next is how I photograph my lip swatches with consistency.  To answer that question, I will have to whip out my Wacom Tablet to draw a doodle about how I position myself in front of my lamp.  Bear with me while I attempt to draw a post-worthy diagram and stay tuned…

I hope this helps other beauty bloggers out there with their lipstick swatching!

As for everyone else, there is absolutely no need to try this at home.

 

Clinique Summer Gift With Purchase

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BEAUTY, Featured | by — January 27, 2014

CLINIQUE Summer in Clinique 1

Summer Beach Towel GWP (Clinique counters only)

Purchase any 2 Clinique products, including one SPF treatment and receive a free summer beach towel – exclusive to Clinique Counters at David Jones, Myer, selected pharmacies.

A great time to stock up on Clinique SPF 30 Body Cream ($39 AUD), Self Sun Tinted Lotion ($36 AUD) or Sparkle Skin Body Exfoliat Cream ($50AUD).

clq_Z07T90_158

Bikini Bag GWP (Mecca Maxima only)

Stow away your wet bathers in style with Clinique’s waterproof Bikini Bag. Spend $85 AUD or more and receive a Clinique Bikini Bag along with full size Kit Cleansing Wipes, a mini Exfolikate and a Clinique anti-blemish sachet.

CLINIQUE Summer in Clinique 2

 

Products featured in this post were provided for consideration.  GWP available while stocks last.

Great skincare minus the hefty price tag (Part 3)

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BEAUTY, Beauty Articles, Featured | by — January 25, 2014

Great Skincare Minus the Price Tag - Part 3

LUSH Dream Cream ($29.95 AUD / 240g)

Dream Cream is Lush’s best-selling product that’s particularly soothing for trouble skin.  My skin tends to break out in a rash from UV exposure which turns into a blotchy patch for days that takes ages to heal.  After applying Lush Dream Cream to the affected areas, my skin instantly felt calmed and comforted thanks to oat milk, chamomile and lavender, and my skin is left softened without any greasy residue.  I’m in two minds about the tub packaging – on one hand it’s convenient but at the same time it’s not that hygienic.  Since it’s more expensive than the supermarket brands, I tend to use this only on the areas affected by sun exposure.  It’s also a great gift idea if you know anyone that has sensitive skin.

LUSH Ro’s Argan Body Lotion ($32.50 AUD / 225g)

Lush Ro’s Argan Body Lotion is to body as hair conditioner is to hair.  When you’re almost done with your shower, slather this creamy concoction all over your body, rinse off and towel dry, and your skin will not only be moisturised without needing to apply body lotion, but also leave a lingering scent  of delicious rose jam.  I’m impressed by how moisturising it is, and it’s thanks to a concoction of oils (cypress, Brazil nut, almond and Argan) and butters (capuacu, cocoa, shea), Vitamin E, plus 20% glycerine to lock in all the moisture leaving it soft and smooth.   Whilst it does take dedication to remember to add it to my shower routine, I like that it’s faster to apply than body lotion (no blending required), and you can get dressed immediately without worrying about any residue.

KOSMEA Apple of My Eye Cream ($44.95 AUD / 15ml)

The key ingredient in this eye cream is derived from a rare Swiss apple that helps turn back the signs of aging.  Fans of Kosmea skincare will be pleased to know that this cream features Kosmea’s signature rose scent, certified organic rose hip oil and White tea extract to brighten dark under circles and reduce wrinkles.  It’s really rich and buttery, leaves the eye area soothed and soft by the next morning.  The rose / rose hip oil scent is quite strong – I find it relaxing when I apply it for bed but generally speaking I prefer my eye cream to be unscented.

URIAGE Creme Lavante Cleanser ($39.95 AUD / 500ml)

This is my holy grail cream cleanser for sensitive skin, as it stays creamy even when you massage it, rinses easily without any residue,  doesn’t strip the skin of moisture and actually leaves the skin feeling softened as it contains 1/3 milk and 10% anti-free radical Uriage Thermal Water.  It can be used on the body, face and scalp, but I prefer it as my morning cleanser especially during winter. Soap-free, paraben free and hypoallergenic.  I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a gentle cleanser for sensitive skin.

CLINIQUE Dramatically Different Moisturising Lotion+ ($29 AUD / 50ml)

Clinique DDML was my first “department store” moisturiser and was my staple moisturiser for several of my university years.  The newly formulated DDML+ contains new ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin and urea to provide extra hydration and moisture, with extracts of sunflower seed cake, barley and cucumber fruit to strengthen the skin’s barrier and improve its resilience against environmental stresses.  It absorbs quickly and skin feels softened on immediate application.  What’s also new about DDML+ is its price point, now starting at $29 AUD for 50ml making it as affordable as some pharmacy / supermarket brand moisturisers.  Its refined texture and formula makes it a pleasure to use, even a decade on since I left university.  Since my skin is a lot drier now, I use this during hot summer weather or before I head to the gym for a sweaty workout.  Works best on normal or combination skin.

PALMER’S Cocoa Butter Formula Fragrance Free Lotion ($7.40 AUD / 250ml)

It claims to be as rich as the original formula minus the cocoa scent thanks to added botanical extracts that mask its scent.  To be honest, the cocoa scent is subtly noticeable upon application but disappears once absorbed.  It absorbs quickly on my dry skin, leaving my parched skin feeling comforted and nourished without any residue.  The squeeze tube is a bit hard to squeeze once you’ve used half of it, but the problem is solved if you leave it standing upside down as the weight of this cocoa-butter rich formula will bring it down with ease.  Best for dry skin.

These products were provided for consideration.