Month: March 2013

Benefit "They’re Real" Mascara

My first Benefit product was Dandelion when they first came out with it yonks ago. I might have got my paws on it through a CP back in those days. I liked it but didn’t love it. Kind of neutral to be honest, and in denial about how it in fact didn’t really show up on me. And yes, I know it’s not supposed to be a blush etc etc. Anyhow.

Now that I think about it I suppose I’m also quite neutral when it comes to the brand. Back in those days I liked the packaging. They’re still kind of retro and cute now but sometimes the names and packaging combo makes me cringe a little. I haven’t tried many products from Benefit, and thought I’d give this mascara a go since I’ve heard good things about it. When I saw Sephora carrying it in a mini + regular size two-for-one pack I picked one up. I like sample sized mascaras, they’re just wonderful for travelling with. I’m actually using the mini size at the moment.

It has a plastic silicone-y brush with spikes on the tips, which I like. I enjoy seeing little details like this on mascaras, things that help you get into those pesky corners. I was however surprised at how big the brush was when I first pulled it out. It may have something to do with the mini tube but I don’t know, it just took me off guard.

The mascara wears well and doesn’t flake. However it appears to weigh my lashes down slightly more than others. Application-wise, and this is something I encounter often being someone with short lashes, the brush is too big for me to really get into the roots without smudging it everywhere. I don’t mind cleaning with a cotton bud afterwards… but the results I see here are sadly not worth that extra trouble. Don’t get me wrong, “They’re Real” isn’t a bad mascara, but it’s just not spectacular enough at this price point (RRP 24 euros – FYI Lancome Hypnose is 27 euros). I have higher expectations when I’m paying close to 25 euros for a mascara. This one reminds me the results I can get with something from Max Factor or Maybelline. Maybe this one will suit someone who’s already blessed with long lashes.

I’ll report again if when I start using the regular size version I find an improvement in quality. But for now … it’s just not worth the money for me. I think I’ll stay away from Benefit for a while, until at least I visit a country where the pricing is more reasonable.

Yves Rocher Organic Oats shower gel

This is my first experience to the Yves Rocher brand, a French brand that’s apparently one of the pioneers in their use of natural and plant-based ingredients. I’ve always thought it’s a French version of the Body Shop, but Yves Rocher was founded in 1959 whereas The Body Shop didn’t get started until 18 years later. Yves Rocher is also against animal testing.

Unrelated sidenote: The Yves Rocher Group owns Petit Bateau! I didn’t know that. I go to Petit Bateau for tank tops.

The two shops are really quite similar. They both have a large range of body care products, shower gels, lotions and creams that come in many different smells and flavours; a Hammam range with Yves Rocher, Spa for the Body Shop. However the Body Shop does have a bigger hair care range, makeup and other bath/body accessories. Yves Rocher isn’t as prolific and probably doesn’t have the same budget for marketing as Body Shop does (having L’Oreal behind certainly helps). In Hong Kong I remember only seeing Yves Rocher shops in obscure small shopping centers and never in a big, nice, pedestrian level boutiques like the ones for Body Shops. Here in Paris there are (of course) significantly more Yves Rocher shops than Body Shops. I could be mistaken but I think there are maybe 2 or 3 in Paris center. One thing though, they both send me crazy amounts of promotional emails in my mailbox, up to 3-4 per week sometimes. And it seems like they always have some kind of sales and promotion going on. Anyway.

I blogged about a small skincare haul I did on the Yves Rocher website just before the new year. The Organic Oats shower gel, as I rightly predicted, was the first product I dipped into.

The first thing that springs to mind about this is the scent. This has a type of clean laundry, cotton-y type of perfume that’s not unlike what you would find in say the Yankee Candle range, or maybe a demeter fragrance. I didn’t pop into a shop to smell them all before I made my purchase, perhaps I should have. The only one I did smell was the olive one (although in body lotion form) and that, I can confirm, is the more neutral smelling one. The fragrance in ‘oats’ is quite potent, so if you can, make sure you like the scent before buying it. It’s not what I imagined ‘oats’ to be, that’s all. But I’ve associated oats with Aveeno and their products are unscented. Anyway. I think Yves Rocher and the Body Shop tend to use a heavy hand when scenting their products so I would give the same advice if you’re planning on trying a shower or body product from either brand.

Now I call it shower gel, but it’s actually labelled for shower and bath in French. It doesn’t foam like crazy in the shower but if you use a terry cloth or even a loofah, it lathers very well. I can imagine it will lather up beautifully if running it in a hot bath.

The consistency is rather thick. It’s quite moisturising and I don’t feel any tightness after my showers. The whole bathroom is scented with the perfume after using.

If I have to complain about this, it’s that I wish it came with a pump. It’s not very convenient in the shower pouring it out everytime. But you can buy a pump for 0.75 euros and voilà, problem solved. The packaging is actually very clean and classy for this range.

All in all I’d say I like this but I’m not fussy when it comes to shower products. I don’t think I will repurchase this particular one again just because I prefer a runnier consistency and then there’s the lack of pump (and me being cheap in general) plus honestly, some days the scent is just too much for me. But I’m pretty sure this isn’t the last of the Yves Rocher shower products I try.

Here are the ingredients:

It’s a little blurry due to the curve of the bottle but the third ingredient is aloe.

Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill Excess Mascara

I love the Eyes to Kill mascaras. I have finished two tubes of the original and one of the waterproof version. Just to recap, I like the regular version better. I talked about that briefly here. Naturally I’m curious about the Excess version and well, here we are!

Unfortunately I don’t have a regular version on hand to compare with at the moment but from what I remember the Excess version has a similar looking brush to the original. It’s a hair fluffier perhaps, less dense, I think? The waterproof version however has a completely different shaped brush that looks like a ‘s’ if you look at it from the tip.

So what are the differences between the Excess and the regular version?

Well one of the first things that I can think of is it’s harder for me to grab hold of my lashes with the Excess brush. The brush seems just a little too big for my lashes, and when the brush is fully loaded with product, the hair just doesn’t ‘grab’ the lashes easily. I don’t remember having this problem with the regular one, and it was even easier with the waterproof brush because it was shaped differently and smaller.

With the Excess brush I feel a little clumsy using the wand fresh out of the tube, hoping I won’t smear my lids with the wet formula (which I end up doing anyway, to different degrees, invariably). I am however, writing as someone with short, straight, wimpy and sparse lashes.

Results-wise though, the Excess does live up to its me for me, giving a lot more volume and thus a falsies type of look. The glossy wet black dries to a very rich, deep black. Know that my lashes droop slightly with just about all mascaras (except the Bi*Ta*Ba), the Excess holds the curl well and doesn’t weigh my lashes down more than any other mascaras. It wears very well too and doesn’t flake.

I didn’t encounter any difficulty when it comes to removing this. As to the scent, I never noticed any perfume in particular except I thought it smelled something of honey. But apparently others have noticed a faint rose scent? Either way it’s nothing to be concerned about.

If you want more drama and tend to opt for volume rather than length, the Excess is an excellent mascara choice. It really darkens and thickens the lashes to the point where they look unreal.
I find both versions worth splurging for, but I have a soft spot for the regular and will probably return to that when I’m done with all the unopened mascaras I have in waiting. It’s just more goof-proof personally (eye shape, wimpy lashes and all that) and the results I get from the regular one in terms of lengthening and volumising is impressive enough for my needs.

ettusais BI*TA*BA Volume Mascara

ettusais means “and you know” in French. The Man likes making fun of it when he sees me wielding any ettusais product, like putting it randomly in his silly sentences but not finishing them. “And you know…” what? What do I know exactly??

Anyway. It’s a Japanese brand that does makeup and skincare. Skincare-wise I think they are especially known for their range catering for adult-acne and problem skin. It’s an affordable brand that you can buy in chemists usually. One of their cult products is the lip essence. I haven’t tried it yet though.

This tube of BI-TA-BA was a purchase made quite a while ago. It was never opened – I was distracted by other mascaras like EtK from Armani but now it’s finally its turn to be used. It’s actually my 4th or 5th tube of ettusais’ comb mascara. I think it’s the 2nd or third generation of BI-TA-BA. I’ve been a fan of comb mascaras ever since I tried Stephane Marais’ version back in the Jurassic days. I still weep for our loss of that beautiful range.
Anyway this mascara is mainly for volume and it’s waterproof. 8g of product in the tube, made in Japan. The colour is a deep, dark black. Among the blackest mascaras I’ve used. 
I found this on their Singapore website:
The ‘bundling’ action can be a problem if there’s too much product loaded on the comb. You end up with maybe 4 or 5 small bundles of lashes that requires the use of a hard-toothed comb to separate. But if you’re careful when distributing the product you do get volume and maybe even a cute doll-eyed or bambi-eyed look with this. It’s not super thickening though, so if you’re looking for a crazy falsies effect this isn’t it.
The formula applies rather wet as well so again, be careful and resist the urge to blink or sneeze. 
I like the finer teeth at the top of the comb as it really does help in getting in those hard to reach inner and outer corners.

It’s long-lasting and I can attest to the waterproof qualities of this mascara. It’s the hardest mascara to remove that I’ve ever encountered. You need a eye makeup remover for this as I’ve found that cleansing oils don’t work as well. But your mileage may vary because the Sofina works better than the DHC at taking this off.
But what I like most about it is that doesn’t weigh my lashes down at all. Plus it really holds the curl, probably the best curl-holding mascara I’ve used. I have crappy straight and short Asian lashes and most mascaras weigh them down a little – my curl often ends up just slightly lower and less obvious. Not so with this one.
This is also the only mascara the Man commented on. Ok he didn’t ask what mascara I used but he did ask me what I did to my lashes because they look longer than usual. I should add that The Man has longer and fuller and more beautiful lashes than I do, and it won’t be a stretch to say that his lower lashes are probably the same length if not longer, than my regular lashes. 
But I have a full head of lush hair, ha ha.
All in all if you can get your hands on this it’s well worth a try. Many Japanese brands make wonderful mascaras. They are really innovative in terms of brush shapes and formulas, and their mascaras are also very long-lasting. 

Coffret D’Or Smile Up Cheeks

Image from official website

Have you heard of It’s a Japanese beauty and cosmetics website that collects and ranks products based on public reviews. They have on-going weekly rankings and publish a big one for the first half of the year and another for the second half, and then of course a review for the entire year.

Coffret D’Or’s Smile Up Cheeks was ranked No. 1 cheek makeup product for 2012 (beating Chanel’s Joues Contraste) and they are still at the top as I type this. This blush came under my radar around summer last year but I managed to convince myself I didn’t need it. At the end of last year I saw this again on a website and noticed they released new limited colours and this time I caved, since I was going to place an order for something else anyway.

By the way, Coffret D’Or (link to Japanese site) is a brand under Kanebo. The spokesperson in their current TV commercials are ladies in their 30’s so I gather that’s their principle target market.

Naturally I had really high hopes for this. And as it often turns out, I’m disappointed. (more…)

Makeup Project 2 x 5 Pan – Update #1

First update: No pans yet, *sigh*

I was trying to limit myself to the same products so I can use them up quickly but sometimes you just get bored and want a little variety. I wanted to do the update on this last month but didn’t get round to finish it. Combining Jan & Feb, it’s actually interesting to see the change in product choices.

It’s tough, this project. I’m starting to wonder if I haven’t bitten off more than I could chew? Perhaps I should’ve done one of those “XXX Days No Buy” instead for my first time, just to build my confidence.

…….. Then again since I have bought something doing a blatant ‘No Buy’ and then buying something is actually worse.

[I got the LE MAC blush in Poised (part of the Strength collection) a few weeks ago and then just today, the LE Bobbi Brown cherry gloss. I didn’t break any of my own rules (“LE is ok”) but still I feel guilty about this, especially since Poised left me a little disappointed. But more on this in another post.]

Doing a Project 10 Pan can feel a little stagnant but I just need to focus. I feel tempted to take advantage of the 20% off offer … I couldn’t count how many times I’ve been on the site and put things in the trolley, entered the code, stared at it and then closed the browser. I don’t really have something that I absolutely, must buy, not even staples because I already have backups. Plus I know they do the 20% off thing from time to time so I’ll just wait for the next one.

I still look at beauty blogs of course but thankfully none of the Spring collections screamed at me. Still I went to the department stores to see all the collections in person and left pretty much contented that I have no lemmings (apart from that darn sold out sheer cheery blush stick from BB, and maybe the new Healthy Mix blush from Bourjois – it’s so new they don’t have a tester in place yet but in the pan it looks a beautiful coral colour, a unique shade in their blush collection, it resembles nothing else at all).

Most reached for products in January: (more…)

February Blog Blathers

So the shortest month of the year has come and gone and we’re well into 2013. … although that didn’t stop me from hesitating when it came to writing down the current year for a form (“2012? 2013??”) I guess deep down I still couldn’t believe how fast time goes by. I know, I say that a lot here. It comes with age.

I won’t be doing an Empties post this month because I’ve only managed to use up 2 items, one being a shower gel (wow… I know) and the other a body cream. I’m saving them for March, hoping that the lineup will be a little longer.
Instead I thought I’d do a post recapping some significant events of past, beauty-related of course. Most recently I went skiing and while we had the most beautiful weather and snow possible, I paid it with the dreaded goggled-look. Yes, this is where the top half my face is pale and the bottom half from the tip of my nose down to the chin is tanned. Check out my self-portrait:

It is absolutely horrendous and I haven’t found an elegant solution to this. I’ve tried foundations to even out skin tone, but most of them don’t have enough coverage. The only one that truly covered was Vichy Dermablend, but since at the time of purchase I intended to use it mainly a concealor, the shade I have is a little too light for all-over use, which resulted in a quasi-Michael Jackson kind of look. A little too pale and thick-looking for me.

I then tried lightly dusting bronzer on the top half of my face but it didn’t really help, except in getting a comment from a colleague wondering if I’ve gotten more sun during the weekend.
I guess I’ll just wait for the tan to fade in due course. Meanwhile I’m just bringing the blusher up a little, adding some colour to those pale cheeks so they won’t be so stark against the rest (bottom half) of the face.Lesson learned: Wear sunscreen. And Rouge Coco Shine in Boy looks terrible on my tanned skin.

While we’re on the topic of skiing, I did put on some makeup before hitting the slopes but have kept it to a minimum. My experience: (more…)