Month: March 2016

Small Korean Skincare Haul

The Man was in Korea for work and I slipped him a very modest list of stuff I’d like. I did some research online and while originally I wanted to get super high-end stuff from Whoo (so much cheaper) I decided against it lest I give the Man a fright. These are best done on my own or with the gals. Korean beauty shops are known for giving out samples and I’ll include those as well. Here’s what he managed to pick up:

Banila Co.

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Read so much about these I wanted to give them a try. Purity is for sensitive skin.

I have a couple of things from banila co. (the BB and CC primer) and while they didn’t wow me, they are budget-friendly decent products. I wanted to get the honey cream too but I have so many creams at home and (also on this list), plus I’m not 100% sure how I’ll react to honey, so I thought I’d wait another time. Luckily they threw a sample packet of it in:

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One packet of the Miss Flower & Mr. Honey cream (I don’t like this name) and a good handful of the V-V Vitalizing Serum. I haven’t looked into the serum but from the name I imagine this is supposed to help achieve that “V-shaped face”, the perfect oval shape. Generally a smaller and delicate face is the ideal.

Belief:

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I wrote about the sample I finished here. Samples given are:

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A packet of the same cream and the Hungarian water essence, which I think is supposed to be one of their best sellers too. I this is like a best-of sample set they give out to everyone, which they’ve prepared beforehand. I don’t mind getting the cream again, I can use this on the plane 🙂

SU:M 37:

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The Man commented that this is the priciest item on the list (lucky I didn’t put the Whoo stuff ). From what I’ve read the Secret Essence is a product that’s similar to the famous SK-II lotion, but it’s cheaper than SK-II (I’m not sure of the prices TBH maybe someone can confirm)? This is their star product and some reported results I’ve read include smaller pores, evening and brightening skin tone, moisturizing/plumping of the skin.
SU:M 37 is a skincare range that uses fermentation science, and is all natural with no preservatives, fragrance etc. Here’s the official website in English.

Samples:

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1 x Secret Essence
4 x Secret Repair Concentrate Cream
1 x Water Full Timeless Gel Cream
3 x Bright award Bubble De-Mask
1 x Signature essence D-Purifying (glass bottle!)

It’s Skin:

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I bought their award-winning star product Creme d’Escargot and the ginseng version. Claims include fading of dark spots and scars, brightening skin tone and moisturizing/plumping of the skin. It’s Skin is the most generous with samples. I was shocked:

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There were actually two of those Aloe masks but I’ve already used one (reviewed in March Empties post) before taking the photo 😛

And these:

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That’s two boxes of snail eye masks, each box containing five packs (hmmm odd number)? I haven’t opened them yet but if each sealed pack contains only one sheet then yes you’ll have to buy two boxes to get an even number of ten masks (five pairs) for five uses.
[updated 7th Apri] I’ve since opened and used one packet and there are indeed two sheets for both eyes (of course). So I got 10 pairs 🙂

Laneige:

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He picked this up at the Duty Free to get rid of some extra Won. No samples.
I’ve started using the Lip Sleeping Mask since my lips were in a terrible state. I don’t know why I expected this to deliver an overnight cure, that was unreasonable on my part. There was no miracle of course but even with continued use (1 week +) I still haven’t seen anything impressive. Maybe I’ll try to put a balm under this?

And that’s all! The last time the Man was in Korea he bought me some IOPE stuff from the airport duty free and there weren’t any samples at all. I don’t know what the conditions are to get tax refund in Korea (in France I think you have to spend something like 150 euros in one go, ie. on one receipt to qualify), what the sales tax are and if it’s a lot cheaper at the duty free. This time he had a little more time and someone helped him with finding the shops. I’m sure shops differ and the amount of samples given out depends on the part of the city you’re in and who’s on the roster that day so YMMV.

Random info: belif, SU:M37 and Whoo are all brands under LG!

March Empties

As usual I’ll get the finished hair/body samples out of the way first:
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Nothing new to write about here. I’m almost done with all the samples, I think I’ve only got body lotions and cream left afterwards. Oh and soaps but I’ll get to those later.

Here’s the real deal for March:

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John Frieda Full Repair hydrate + rescue Deep Conditioner (250ml) – [unknown]
“With Inca Inchi Oil” it says. This ingredient appears in the middle of the ingredient list. First six ingredients: Aqua, Ceterayl Alcohol, Dimethicone, Behentrimonium Chloride, Cetyl Esters. Parfum.
You leave this on after shampooing for 2-5 minutes before rinsing off. My hair feels soft and silky after using this but we all know it’s the ‘cone. Smells nice but it doesn’t last on my hair. If you don’t mind ‘cones this is nice once in a while. I was using this almost everyday as a conditioner substitute and that was perhaps too much …
Repurchase? Nah.

Steam Cream (75ml) – Made in UK
I’ve had this for too long; left it at work for use mainly as a hand cream so that’s perhaps 1-2 a day, if that. However this is a multi-purpose cream that you can use for the face, body and even hair (just a tiny knob). I’ve used this once on the face but it was bad timing – I still don’t know what broke me out. Anyway you can read all about the cream on their website where they explain how the cream is made, why it’s steamed and the ingredients and so on.
I finished the rest of my jar using it as a body cream. I didn’t feel it so much when using on my hands but must say that I was impressed how quickly this was absorbed. And I mean I felt the cream has really sunk in, almost like my skin drank it up. It was moist and supple afterwards, and it lasted for a while.
This has lots of essential oils so if you have sensitive skin (or a sensitive nose! smells ) just be aware of that:

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Repurchase? I didn’t think I would but yes, and I have. There was a promotion going on at the moment (2 for 26.95 euros, 1 is usually 17.50 euros each). Interestingly these are cheaper in Japan where they also come in a mini size and have more designs.
… I have since received my new jars and these ones are made in Japan. Also the best before date is very short – I have a few months to use them up, whereas when I bought the old one I had 2 years?! Ingredients are the same.

Yves Rocher Apple Delice Silky Body Cream (150ml) – Made in Ireland
Pretty happy to use this up in such a short time. This was part of my small 2015 holiday haul. This has a nice texture and smells like apple tart. The only reason I rushed to finish this is because of the scent – it’s comforting and more suitable for winter; probably too heavy for summer use. I used the same logic when I decided to save the Bronze Goddess souffle for summer. Anyway this has a nice formula and if Yves Rocher makes this in a different scent (they probably do) I wouldn’t mind buying those.
Repurchase? Yes (more…)

Makeup Brushes – What should You Buy?

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This entry is the logical conclusion of my brush post.

My advice to those just starting their collection, or to anyone who’s buying a brush really, is the same advice I followed and one that you’ve heard many times: buy the best that you can afford. Personally I prefer natural hair and am very partial to Japanese brushes – you won’t look back.

I see the convenience in getting a set but I would recommend getting them individually if you can. That way you can really cherry pick the best ones in each category from the best brands that make them and cater to the products you already own or your usual technique.

If your heart is set (*giggle*) on starting with a set, one with 5 brushes is cool but I would avoid those with 20. I’d look into what Hakuhodo has to offer simply because they make high quality brushes with various price points, and from what I’ve seen on Instagram there are a myriad of colour for the handles as well so you don’t have to have black handles. And since it’s Hakuhodo. You can’t go wrong.

Natural or synthetic, to start with the bare minimum I’d recommend getting:
– 2 eye brushes, one to lay colour (paddle type) the other to blend (fluffy type)
– 1 x blush brush. Choose the shape depending on how you apply. Do you stroke and pat (paddle) or do you stipple and do round circling motions (dome)? Choose the hair type and density based on the type of blushes you have most or what you tend to buy. If you tend to go for crazy pigmented then opt for softer hair, less densely packed.
– 1 x powder or large face brush
– mascara comb (metal teeth – technically not a brush, I know)
– spoolie for lashes or brows

I think I was given some good advice with my first brush purchase at shu because they were all essentials and functional (ok the 5R was not entirely necessary for a newbie but still really nice to have).

Good to have brushes:
– brow brush if you use a powder for them. I’ve been using the same one from Bobbi Brown for decades and it’s a very stiff brush that I’ve found to be most efficient
– small synthetic brush with pointed tip for spot concealing (I find fingers to be as good, the heat helps meld it into the skin so that’s why I didn’t put this in the must-haves). This would be good to blend out the edges
– gel liner brush if you use pot gel liners (personally I like flat ‘push’ types and find them easiest to use and control)
– a smudge brush if you like smokey eyes
– a dense face brush for buffing in your foundation and eliminating hard lines and getting that perfect finish. Can also be used for foundation*
– a lip brush if you love reds or other darker colours

Nice to have brushes:
A lot of these depend on what makeup products you have and use. The road to the rabbit hole begins with the ‘nice to haves’.
– highlight: I find a fan brush to be the best shape if you prefer your highlights natural and subtle; alternatively a small fluffy brush (something like a big eye blender) would also do nicely. I like the Real Techniques one too.
– bronzer: a fluffy, medium density brush with a dome or candle tip is my choice for natural looking application
– contour: I like the ita shape for more precision around the cheekbones. Something like the Rae Morris ultimate cheek bone (which I have) is a nice one too
– If you do touch-ups on the go or travel a lot: Retractable cheek/powder brush/lip brush. You can get natural or synthetic hair with these.

*Foundation brushes:
I put this separately because it’s not a must for me. Perhaps this will change when I try my latest acquisition! I know however that this is the preferred method for a lot of people. Logically you’ll want a synthetic brush because it won’t absorb as much product and you’ll be washing it frequently so it needs to be able to take a beating. I haven’t had luck with paddle types, the ones I’ve tried tend to leave brush marks and streaks behind. The best ones for me are dense flat kabuki type brushes like the Sigma one, or rounded ones like the ultimate face from Real Techniques. Smaller brushes give you more control. Stippling brushes can really give an air-brushed perfect finish only if you stipple and not swipe, and that takes a lot more time. I wouldn’t splurge for foundation brushes, but will consider getting a second one to rotate if I use them daily.

I tend to reach for a Beauty Blender before I would a brush, to be honest!

*Brush sizes:
Choose the size to work with YOUR face. For example I like smaller eye brushes because I have hooded eyes and not much space to work with. A lot of the brushes I see in makeup tutorials/videos are too big for me. Take into account your technique/preference too. Imagine you have two blush brushes of different size but the same hair type. The smaller brush will usually give you more precision and control; the bigger one efficiency and speed.

Be careful of the rabbit hole!
You’ve carefully selected each and every one of the brushes in your collection. You are happy with all of them and how they perform. For some reason you wake up one day and decide to browse makeup brushes online. Soon you find yourself filling up the virtual shopping cart. None of the brushes you have in the cart will be performing a brand new task. You’re not even sure if it will outperform your current brush. But you go ahead with the purchase anyway because:
– it’s a different hair type/mix/dyed/undyed
ok this is debatable and could be a valid point especially if it’s cream vs powder purpose
– has a longer/shorter/different coloured handle
if you’re getting a shorter handle for traveling, are you leaving long-handled ones behind? If not, forget it.
– said to be a $30 dupe of this unicorn brush that cost a gazillion dollars
never do this. Save up and buy the unicorn.
– said to be a $10 dupe of this other popular, mid-priced, good quality brush you’ve never tried
Just buy the other brush. You’ll always wonder about the other brush.
– is a special limited edition. They’re never making this again!

Tread carefully! When you have too many single-purpose brushes it’s time to step back and take a look at the big picture. I know I have too many redundant ones. But I also know I would not have known some really great brushes if I hadn’t taken the chance.

Remember:
The best brush is the brush that works best for YOU. That Tom Ford face brush that everyone loves might not be the best for you and that’s ok!

Make up Brushes – My Collection + Review

I thought I’d write a post on brushes since I touched on the topic recently with my purchase from Koyudo. Originally meant to be one post, I have divided this into two because of length. This is part one, a run through of what I have and my thoughts of them. The second part will be what brushes to buy. This is a long, pic-heavy post!

I might have mentioned briefly in the past about how I started my collection (a humbly sized compared to collectors) but here’s all the history in one post 🙂

I bought brushes individually right from the beginning and heeded the advice of others who say to buy the best you can afford. Right from the bat I knew it was an investment so I started with shu uemura (this was like 20 years ago). I was quite a fan of theirs at the time anyway and even used their skincare range. Even back then I was told their brush prices climb up yearly and if you’re going to buy them anyway it’s better to get them early. So!

I started with 2 shadow brushes (sable, synthetic, both paddle style), 1 powder, 1 cheek (pony, also paddle style), 1 lip, the 5R (kolinsky) for socket and I think a spoolie. I still have all of them with me (although I LOST the 5R during a move). I have retired the cheek and powder brushes which started to shed gently a few years ago. The sable shadow brush is also coming loose at the ferrule, but otherwise still good. Considering they’re 20+ years old that’s not too bad. If you take good care of your brushes you can count on using them for 10 years no problem.

I was perfectly happy with these until I started experimenting more with makeup. So I added brushes like kabuki, stippling, eyeliner, dome shaped face brushes and so on and so forth. I’ve tried brushes from brands like MAC, Bobbi Brown in the early days, and in more recent years Sue Devitt, Lunasol, RMK, Rae Morris. And I never bought a set until Real Techniques came along. They’re so affordable and I believe at that time there were some brushes you could only get in the sets. I tried some Sigma, Sephora and zoeva brushes too. The last brushes I bought before the small Koyudo haul are Hakuhodo brushes when they were at the Bon Marché for a limited time.

This is the first time I counted how many brushes I have:brush-all

Little by little I have accumulated 63 brushes (59 in the picture above, a few didn’t make it in there but will be seen later in the post). I’m kind of surprised myself. They look so manageable sitting in glass candle jars and whatnot and you don’t even know how many you really have until you lay it out like that. Lucky the Man wasn’t at home when I took the picture. Even though I suspected as much that’s one big visual confirmation that I have too many. I really only use a handful regularly, and others are there when the regulars are dirty and I haven’t got the time to clean them 😛

I will try to be brief and go through the brushes as quickly as I can.

Since I forgot to take a close up shot, in the top left hand corner are 3 kabuki brushes. The smallest one is a freebie from Dior. This one came from the Nude Bronzer, I have another from Nude Air powder. The bigger one is MAC, the laquered one is Bobbi Brown. I don’t have a detail pic for these. The MAC one has longer bristles. Otherwise in terms of use they are (BB & MAC) similar to me and interchangeable.

Onto the rest of the brushes.

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I use the medium and fine point shader a lot. I probably reach for them the most, out of habit and because they work really well for me and suit my eye shape. With hooded eyes there’s just not much room to work with and most shadow brushes are too big.
Radiance is a nice brush, it works like a dense buffer brush. You can apply your foundation with it although I’ve never tried and have used it mainly as a dense buffing brush to polish the foundation and get a nice finish.
The smudger brush is soft and not scratchy like the Laura Mercier one but for some reason I just don’t reach for this often.
I really like the lip brush.
Precision liner I bought with the intention of mastering the flick. But I actually got better results with a push brush. It’s down to technique I suppose. I’ll keep practicing.

A word on these in case you didn’t know, these have magnets at the end of the brush and are designed to be displayed/arranged with a metal plate. They clump together if you store them flat or in a bag. The good thing though is I can easily hang them to dry in the kitchen 😛 I use the lid of an old coffee tin to store them upright.

Here’s a closer look:

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Below is the Ultimate Cheekbone, which is exactly what it says, perfect for contouring that area.

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My Hakuhodo and Koyudo brushes:

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Small Melvita Purchase

So this arrived today. I saw a promotion on the Melvita website last week and without thinking clicked the ‘buy’ button. Three items does not make a haul so I’ve adjusted the title to merely a ‘purchase’. Here’s what I got:

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They’re clearing their holiday stock. The stuff on the left are gifts. Here’s a closer look on what’s inside the box:

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It’s the Nectar Supreme range with La Creme for the face and an eye and lip cream. They threw in a  Rose Extraordinary water to make the set I think. These are all full-sized. The cream retails for 48 euros, eye cream 39 euros and the water is 15.50 euros. This set is 89 euros.

The gift:

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From left to right:
Pulpe de Rose plumping radiance cream (10ml)
Damask Rose floral water (28ml)
Rose Extraordinary water (25ml)
Extraordinary Oil (for face, body, hair) (17ml)
L’Argan Bio velvet hand cream (10ml)
Apicosma lip balm (3ml)
A mirror in its flocked pouch. This is almost impossible to open as there are no indents to help you grip.

And a tote bag:
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Recently a law was passed and shops are no longer allowed to give out plastic bags. They haven’t been free-to-give for a while, you usually have to pay for them but I believe now they can’t even supply plastic ones. Everyone has a small trolley in Paris (not just old ladies!) and I’ve been tugging mine to the supermarket for a while so I don’t really know the latest. But this bag has a button packs away nicely so good move from Melvita.

The gifts are all mini/travel sized, as you can see. I’ve tried and liked the Damask rose water and the mini spray will be handy and I can refill it with whatever after.

I got three little sample sachets as well but two are redundant products I already have in one form or another above.

Reviews when I start using them 😛  I’ve completely overwhelmed myself at this point.

Refilling the Nature Republic CC Cushion

Just a short post with photos showing my old and new cushion (refill), since I “used it up” last month 😛

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old sponge, yuck!

Just in case you missed it the review of the cushion is here. When you buy a cushion it comes with a freebie refill. Don’t go thanking the company just yet, because obvs the price you paid has been calculated to include the refill, plus as I found out they do dry out. I would suggest those who have more expensive cushions to use them regularly before your money evaporates. Sorry, I don’t know how long before they start drying out. Perhaps after 6 months?

As you can see in the photo above, in the foil refill pack there’s also a new sponge. I wish I had known that because I bought extra sponges.

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There’s a seal protecting the cushion.

A closer look comparing old and new:

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I didn’t realise the old casing was looking so yellow and beige. This is obvious but you know it’s dried up/drying up when you no longer get much product on your sponge when you press down. I was pushing in like a maniac in an attempt to squeeze the last drop and displaced the sponge. It didn’t bounce back to position.

The most important thing with cushions is keeping your sponge clean and hygienic. I like how so many brands are releasing cushions now, more choice to the consumer and hopefully it also means a better chance of finding a right colour match. I wouldn’t buy any backups or anything though. There’s always something  new, and look at me, I bought a backup and left the shop with 4 cushions. Having said that, I wonder if the bigger European brands throw in the refill?

PDC Liftarna Concentrate Mask Review + Other Favourites

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As featured in my recent haul, this is a pack of seven moisturizing masks from PDC (link takes you to the official website in Japanese and you’ll see their full range of products; or there’s this page (english) and this dedicated to the mask; Oh and here’s one on the Liftarna range. So many links!)

[BTW – this is NOT the mask I mentioned in my last post regarding a line of suspect that irritated my skin. It was another one, which I’ll post about eventually once I’m sure.]

I bought the pink coloured version (only choice available), they have another in red that’s an upgraded version with a milk-type essence that’s supposed to deliver a higher level of hydration. You can buy them in a pack of seven or a box of thirty-two, where you pull them out like tissues.

The masks contain:
– 3 types of vitamin C (stabilized, high penetrating and immediate action)
– collagen, retinol and soy
– artichoke leaf extract
– deep sea mineral water

With my limited Japanese again, these ingredients help nourish, repair and hydrate the skin as well as tightening the pores. You The sheet is woven with charcoal fiber to ensure maximum adhesion and coverage. (more…)