brush

Kevyn Aucoin Lipsticks

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This is the small Beautybay haul I mentioned in this post. Two Kevyn Aucoin lipsticks and three small brushes from Louise Young.

The lipsticks are from the ‘Expert Lip Color’ range, I think they have a small matte lipstick range now as well. They are 3.5g each and are made in Italy. The shades I got are Bloodroses and Black Dahlia:

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L: Bloodroses, R: Black Dahlia

They have a magnetic closure (the base is magnetized) but the magnet isn’t very strong. I thought the bullet looked short/small when I twisted it all the way up but it’s actually in the standard size. To give you an idea, Chanel lipsticks are 3.5g (apart from Rouge Coco Shine which are 3g each), UD Vice are 3.11g, MAC and Tom Ford are 3g, NARS Audacious are 4.2g.

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Left: Bloodroses one swipe, built-up. Right: Black Dahlia one swipe, built-up

Sorry I didn’t want to ruin the pointy tips of the new lippies so they have this funny shape.
I’ve never tried KA lipsticks before. These didn’t disappoint – they are creamy and luxurious. Colour is rich and opaque. Very comfortable on the lips.

From what I’ve read Bloodroses is a universally flattering shade, a deep red created by Kevyn Aucoin and one which he counted as his favourite. I did some swatches but all my red lipsticks are in the traditional vein and none came close to being as deep as Bloodroses: (more…)

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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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Makeup Hits and Misses of 2014 – The Hits

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I think I did quite well last year resisting beauty releases (especially those of the limited kind) and impulse buys. As such my 2014 Hits won’t be exclusively on products that are released this year but include things that I’ve (re)discovered, have impressed me and constantly reached for. I’ve made a top ten post back in August and the items mentioned in that post are still very relevant. Think of this as more of a Favourites / Most-used of 2014 post.

1. Urban Decay Pulp Fiction eye palette
One of the LE collections this year I fell for. Love this palette even if I do wish the packaging is a little more travel-friendly – tested its portability on a short trip and found it to be a real PITA to pack. It just takes up so much room! I’m not sure if I’ll take it with me on trips again but being a neutral palette it really makes life easy and goes with everything. The texture and quality is amazing. Reviewed here.

2. Tom Ford Orchid Haze
If I could only bring one quad with me on a trip this will be it. It pulls quite neutral and by controling the darkest shade you can adapt it to any day/night look. This is my favourite palette out of everything at the moment (HG?). Also featured in the mid-year top 10 post.

3. Urban Decay Naked 3
I picked this up early in the year 2014 when Sephora France had it back in stock (and it was promptly sold out again). This is my first palette in the Naked series and really my first go at Urban Decay eyeshadows. I resisted 1 & 2 but something about the pink and rose called to me. I have enough browns at home already and thought 3 would be a nice change. I admit I was worried the pinks wouldn’t look good on me (rabbit eye/cried-all-night) but it’s surprisingly easy to wear and versatile. I’m used to quads and at most quints so the size and choices are overwhelming. I’m still on the learning curve with this but it’s been nothing but pleasure each time I reach for it. (more…)

Hakuhodo at Le Bon Marché

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PSA: You can buy Hakuhodo brushes (a small selection, mostly J series) at Le Bon Marché in Paris. The department store is paying homage to Japan and its culture, and has imported a lot of usually Japan-only (or Asia-only) fashion and beauty brands. There are also art exhibitions to look at and events and demonstrations to participate in.

The brushes are found on the 2nd floor (usually clothing). It doesn’t have a special stand and no one mans it, so you find what you like and keep it with you and bring it to the till. There are one example of each available brush opened and free for touching so you can feel how soft/firm they are. Prices vary but on the whole very reasonable and not too marked up. There’s a special glass case with really luxurious kabukis as well.

I chose three J series, 242G, 5523 and 210. I was going to get the bigger blush brush but figured I have brushes of similar shape at home but not one like the 210.Also got a pot of the makanai hand cream – sooo silky, this cream absorbs quickly and nourishes the hand but never leaving you feel greasy. Seriously impressed with this one. They have different scents but all of them are quite subtle and have the same fragrance base. The only exception is perhaps the yuzu one, which I’m tempted to get. Also saw the uka hand and nail butter – very good and luxurious but that costs 10 euros more. I think the makanai range are a bit more marked up than they usually cost in Japan. Seeing how I’ve been indulging myself a lot already I figured it’s best not to go too overboard.

The Japanese event continues til 18 October. Meanwhile still no sign of Tom Ford’s Nude Dip in-store nor online.

Small Zoeva order

[I’ve edited this post to reflect my thoughts on these brushes having used them for a while – 08/Oct]

I only became aware of the brand Zoeva about two months or so ago. I’ve got most of my brushes covered but I did want to get something ‘generic’ – items that do not warrant heading towards shu uemura for, for example. This was my order:

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First about the brushes. A close-up:

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I got a brow comb and a brow liner brush. I wanted to use these with the MUFE Aqua Brow. I have an old Bobbi Brown brow brush that I use with powders daily and didn’t want to mix that up with a cream product. These two brushes do their job and I’m quite happy with the performance of the brow liner in terms of precision, and it has the right amount of firmness. And I’ve always wanted one of these type of brow combs/brushes instead of using a spoolie. Really no complaints.

The only thing I will point out though is the brow brush is not weighted and is feather light, it looks and feels like a slim pencil (and cheap). I wasn’t expecting the weight so was surprised when I picked it up. Also the black paint on both of these brushes is glossy and not matte as I thought they were from looking on their website. The brow liner has more heft and is a black with silver sparkles, which I expect the other brushes to be. Just a heads up since you can’t tell from the pictures on the site.

Update: I’ve since washed and used the brow liner brush on a few occasions and unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be holding up well. The first few strokes with Aqua brow is nice and precise but when I start repeating the strokes the bristles divide into four to five separate ‘tufts’… like teeth on a comb but more spaced out. I can still get the colour on but it’s more shading than drawing, which was what I was shooting for.

Perhaps it’s the Aqua brow formula? Maybe it will perform better with a brow powder?

These brushes are 6.80 euros each so it’s not a catastrophe.

Anyway my favourite piece is the gate fold mirror. I’m taking this with me on my travels cos I hate doing my makeup in the bathroom (poor lighting) and my dingy compact mirror is just too small. This is slim, doesn’t take up space and stands on its own. Plus it lets me check out my profile haha.

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The base can be adjusted so you can control the reclining angle. The same goes for the ‘doors’. One of them however is a little looser than the other. Just hoping it wouldn’t flop out completely eventually. This is 8.50 euros. There’s an inscription on the mirror that is a little kitschy and that I’m not 100% sure of. I’ll leave that as a surprise to those who order it.

Shipping was quick and the items are nicely packaged. The brushes come with their own little plastic zip-lock pouches. Very generously sized in fact and you can use them to put whatever you want or your own set of brushes when traveling. All in all I’m happy with what I’ve ordered, Despite the hiccup, I still think it’s a range worth taking a look at if someone’s just starting out on makeup, or on a tight budget. The other brand to check out of course is Real Techniques. These ones from Zoeva do look a lot more elegant, but don’t really know the range well enough to discuss the quality of their brushes howeverReal Techniques have some really fabulous ones and from personal experience they are work horses that can take abuse. Do leave a comment if you have tried Zoeva’s brushes, and especially their makeup!

Ten Current Favourites

I was originally going to call this ‘2014 Favourites’ or something along the line, then realised the products I mention are permanents and aren’t dependent on the year. Which could be misleading for those searching for 2014 releases.

I stopped doing the monthly favourites cos a lot of the times it’s whatever shiny new toy I happen to have my paws on, plus some staples. It wasn’t really honest, like I was doing it for the sake of doing a favourites post. And it got boring for everyone.
So now I’ve decided to do these only when I feel like I have used/tried/like ’em enough to share. Ten is a good number, and I feel that a lot of what you’ll see are at the top of the categories list.

10faves

1. Too Faced La Creme lipstick
This was the biggest discovery of 2013. I’ve never tried Too Faced before, kind of ignored it really because I lumped them with Benefit (similar packaging vibe) and I’m not a huge fan of Benefit. Prejudice/judging a book by its cover etc etc. This lipstick surprised me. I loved Spice, Spice Baby so much I went back and bought a second one (Naughty Nude). They are just so creamy and so comfortable to wear. Pleasant lemon pie scent. Great colours, nicely opaque. Spice, Spice Baby is a great everyday colour and it’s the lipstick I’m counting on to be my first used up lippie. I’ve never used a shade so often. I took it on my holidays, wore it to a wedding. Love it.
I’ve started paying more attention to this brand on the strength of this lip formula. The Pretty Rebel eye palette (LE but still available on Sephora US website) is nicely put together. (more…)