Go Ginza | Essie Madison Avenue Hue Collection

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

NYC's Madison Avenue, which I have now coined "Extravagant Avenue," is definitely the wealthy person's playground.  Women decked out head to toe in Chanel aren't unheard of, and you'll probably run into a few people carting a bag or two concealing contents you only wish you could get your hands on.  Littered with expensive little boutiques, quite a few art galleries and museums, and just about high-end everything, it's a place I'll only ever be able to shop in my dreams.  But as they say, "fake it 'til you make it," so I'm giving it my best shot and feigning chic with one of Essie's newest offerings, "Go Ginza."

Named for the Ginza district, which is Japan's equivalent to Madison Avenue (thanks, Google), the shade is a perfectly pale pinky lavender that reads as somewhat of a subtle statement, if that makes any sense.  It is described by Essie as a soft cherry blossom pink, although I'd argue that it's quite a lot more than that.  In some lights, you only see the lavender side of things, during which the color reads as a milkier and less gray version of Revlon's Provence.  Then, in a completely different light, the red tones will show through, and the nails just look a nice Springy shade of pale pastel pink.  It does take a bit of patience and a few coats to build up to a nice opaque finish, but once dry the gloss and shine are most definitely worth it.  Whatever the case, and no matter the light, this little bottle has quite sneakily weaseled its way into my "Can't Live Without It" category.  To put it plainly, my bare nails haven't seen the light of day after two separate manicures in almost a week, and it's all Go Ginza's fault.

Shimmer and Smolder

Friday, April 26, 2013

It should be said that I go through phases with my makeup.  There'll be a straight two weeks in which lipsticks dominate the top spots on my wish list, only to have something else come along (most likely a post by Anna) and shift my gears toward bases or high lighters.  As it were, I’m currently smack dab in the middle of an eye phase.  Now I normally don't dedicate entire posts to my eye makeup, but I had one of those good makeup days on Monday (if we can have good hair days, then surely good makeup days are a thing, no?) during which I received compliments on my eye makeup from several different people (including two strangers, whaaat??), so I snapped a few photos with plans to explain how I achieved it.

This whole eyeshadow phase was kick-started by a recent rediscovery of mine.  As of a few weeks ago, I've fallen right back in love with the old beauty blogger favorite, MAC's Naked Lunch.  The slightly peachy shimmer makes my beady eyes sparkle with its frostiness, and although you can wear it beautifully just blended as a wash over the lid, I tend to pack it on with a MAC 239 or a MAC 275 brush to amp up the shimmer.  To send the glitter almost over the edge, I use a pencil brush or my ring finger to add some of MAC's white-gold Retrospeck to my inner corners.  And for a bit of depth, I swipe MAC's reddish-brown Sable through the crease, and blend it up just above with an e.l.f. blending brush.  I'll also take some of this on a pencil brush and line the outer half of my lower lash line.  Finish off with a baby flick using my trusty old Maybelline Line Stiletto liquid liner and any black mascara.

I've been rocking this look day and night, at work and...not at work.  It's basically just what the doctor ordered when a little everyday "oomph" is sorely required.

LUSH Catastrophe Cosmetic

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I'm taking it back to basics today with a good old Lush face mask review!  For any who joined my blog recently, or even this year, you may not have read my earlier face mask reviews.  If you're at all interested, I reviewed Lush's Brazened Honey mask here and their Love Lettuce mask here.

In terms of Catastrophe Cosmetic (or "the blueberry one" as I so elegantly referred to it in the shop), it combines the cleansing powers of the blueberry with the calming effects of calamine and chamomile to promote skin that is impurity-free.  It is worth noting that when these three scents combine, the experience is nothing short of divine (if you've ever tried Lush's Ginger Lotion, you'll have an idea what this mask smells like)!  The scent also hung around on my skin for hours, so make sure to keep that in mind if strong smells put you off.

The actual experience of using the mask is quite satisfying as well.  There are little chunks of (locally sourced) blueberries present in the mask which, for some reason, seems pretty cool.  The texture is similar to the Mint Julep mask from Queen Helene; a bit firm and thick, but easily spreadable.  Once applied, the mask dries relatively quickly, and it rinses off very easily with just a few splashes of water. So far so good, right?

I thought so, that was until I patted my face dry and noticed very little difference in my skin, except that it was less oily.  I used the mask twice more in the two weeks following my initial trial with it, and had the same results both times.  I thought I might have gotten a dud until I realized what the actual purpose of the mask was. According to Lush, this mask is solely intended to keep troubled skin in line, or from keeping catastrophes at bay, and it did that well by taking down my excess oils and keeping my skin from getting too congested.  So while it may not be a very visually effective mask, I would recommend it to anyone who may be dealing with excess facial oils, or even a break out or two as it shouldn't affect sensitive skin.  I think it could be a great addition to a weekly skin care routine if you have oily skin that tends to get out of whack.

Overall, I'd say it's a great mask, although it's not my favorite.  The scent and texture were amazing, but it just didn't do enough for me to be fully satisfied (through no fault of its own!).  And really, even though it wasn't exactly awesome, nothing is as refreshing as smoothing a fresh, cold face mask over your skin.  Nothing.

The Makeup Drawer

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Everyone's got their own unique makeup storage set-up.  Mine was formerly in the shape of a chaotic mess scattered across the top of my dresser.  But I wised up quickly.  After losing one too many eyeliners into the black hole that was the space behind my dresser, I decided to invest in some small, stackable drawers from IKEA.  Recently my room has been changed around a bit, and some new furniture was bought and assembled. Since then, my teensy makeup collection has seen an architectural upgrade, and now has an entire drawer in my dresser to call home.  And while the whole "drawers inside drawers" thing may fall slightly into the ever-confusing realm of inception, I have to say that this is the best set-up my makeup has seen thus far.  That is not to say that I haven't had my eye on some MUJI storage for some time, but those sleek, transparent containers will have to be put on the back burner until the need actually arises.

For reference, the drawer is split into (in picture order): foundations (behind which hide my eye palettes); liner drawer (eyes and lips); lipstick/gloss drawer; everyday makeup drawer; and miscellaneous/random stuff drawer. Atop the stackable drawers (available here) sit some random odds and ends like a primer, a moisturizer, and a perfume sample of Jo Malone's sweet Orange Blossom.

I'm always looking to improve my set-up, so if you have any tips I'm happy to hear them.  Where does your makeup collection live?

If I Could Hug a Lipstick...MAC's NEW Embrace Me (Fashion Sets Collection)

Friday, April 12, 2013

As the title suggests, I'm smitten.  On an innocent trip to MAC last Thursday to enquire about a possible job (shh!), I was just chatting with one of the makeup artists when I noticed her amazingly bright fuchsia lipstick.  Quick to ask what shade it was before I lost my nerve, she pointed me in the direction of the newly released Fashion Sets collection.  In fact they were so new, they'd only been out a few hours, and already a few items were sold out.  I had been contemplating a "Girl About Town" lipstick purchase for a while, but when I set my eyes on Embrace Me, the deal was done.

Embrace Me is described as a bright fuchsia cream (although it could arguably be described more accurately as a BRIIIIGHT fuchsia cream), and is a perfectly matte, blue-toned hot pink.  Embrace Me is actually the name of five separate items in the new Fashion Sets collection, which features a nail polish, eye shadow, lip liner, lip gloss, and lipstick, all in the same shade.  There are three other shades within the same range as well, including an orange, a paler pink, and a cotton candy purple.  I've never been a huge fan of matchy makeup, so I didn't purchase the lip liner or gloss, but the color of Embrace Me in lipstick form was just so irresistible, it almost forced itself into my hands.

In terms of stats, MAC knocks it out of the park with this one.  It's long-wearing (I'm talking 8 hours long.  No.  Joke.), wears down beautifully by leaving you with more of a fuchsia lip stain rather than a weird, patchy mess, and applies super bright from the tube without the need to build up the color.  All in all, this baby is a stunner, and if bright pink lips are your thing, or you wanted a matte-er version of Girl About Town, then Embrace Me will be right up your street.

I bought it for $15 USD from my local MAC store, and although it's currently sold out online (how does that always happen?), you may still be able to get it from a store near you.  I don't take raves lightly here on the old blog, so to put a little bow on this one I'll just finish by saying that Embrace Me hasn't stopped hugging my lips since the day I brought it home (and I thought I was a natural lip person, ha!).  Have you tried anything from the new Fashion Sets collection?

The Tax Refund Haul!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Heyyyy party people.  I'm sure you're all familiar with impulse purchases, and usually I try to justify mine (of which there have been fewer and fewer lately), but with the recent news of my University of London acceptance, the arrival of my refund check earlier this week sort of solidified the need for a visit to LUSH.  And MAC.

I was feeling in a Spring-y mood apparently, and picked up two old favorites from LUSH.  Floating Island, the solid white bath melt, can be broken apart into three or more pieces, and scents the bath with vanilla and sandalwood, not to mention it leaves your skin silky smooth.  Pop in the Bath, the solid bubble bar adorned with a joyful daisy, is delightfully floral and creates a nice amount of bubbles (so far as I can remember!).  The other two items are the fresh face mask, Catastrophe Cosmetic, and the new Green bubbleroon (of which I used half, and it was just ok).

And from MAC, I picked up the brand-spankin new "Embrace Me" (part of the new Fashion Sets collection), which is seriously a must-have for hot pink lipstick fans.  I also picked up the old favorite, Rice Paper eyeshadow, which is gorgeous as an all over lid color on girls with a medium skin tone and yellow undertones like me.

Not exactly a bank-breaker, and hey, I've still got half of a refund check to show for it.  All in all it was a satisfying haul, for both me and the wallet.  Anything you bought recently with newfound money, or otherwise, that's particularly Spring-y (or otherwise)? :)

New to the Routine

Monday, April 1, 2013

I've always felt a bit out of sync when it comes to the seasons.  I'm the girl who cuts her hair in Autumn, and grows it out for Summer, who wears color in Winter, and black in the Spring.  For some unknown reason, I find it hard to keep up with the changing seasonal trends, and seeing all the other bloggers bringing out the sheerer bases and baby pinks has pushed me to get my act together.  Almost.

For a long while now I've been wearing the same makeup day in and day out, and feeling the need for a change, I've injected some newness into my routine.  First off, a bit of a wintery full coverage base that was hauled in my last post, MAC's Studio Sculpt foundation, has wiggled its way into everyday status.  I'm sure this heavy coverage base would work much better in the colder weather or on a night out, but as it's been said, I'm bad with practicality.  Another newbie to the routine is the Laura Mercier Eye Basic in Wheat which evens out any eyelid discoloration perfectly, although its staying power is not as long as that of the Urban Decay Primer Potion.  I use it for days when my eyeshadow is simple, matte and neutral, and it just makes the shadows look more pigmented with less product.

I also used to be the girl who never used highlighter, but ever since digging it out for my last All Made Up post, I've become obsessed.  I've been using my Benefit High Beam highlighter darn near every day for the past month, and I can't imagine wearing a full face of makeup without it now!  It's perfect for adding that glowy, but not too shiny, pearly sheen to the cheekbones (or wherever else).  Speaking of shine, I've also been powdering like a maniac recently.  You may have seen my Rimmel Stay Matte powder pop up in my recent makeup bag post, but it's never been formally introduced.  For the past few weeks, I've been dusting this guy onto the end of my nose and across my cheeks where I tend to get the most oily.  The best thing about it?  It does exactly what it says on the tin.

As for the lips, I seem to have hit Spring right over the head with two new baby pink additions to the routine.  I've had my tube of MAC Angel for almost a year now, and even mentioned it in my January favorites video after wearing it a few times that month and loving it, but for some reason I've just now started to really get my mileage out of it.  Literally every day for the past three weeks or so, it's all I've worn on my lips, and if I start out wearing a different color in the morning, I've wiped it off by noon and slicked Angel on instead.  I used to hate the frostiness of it, but I'm finding more and more that this lipstick finish suits the makeup I've been wearing lately.  And if I'm not wearing Angel, I'm sporting my NYX Mega Shine Lip Gloss in Smokey Look. It's essentially a nude gloss with a shortish staying power, but it's not overly sticky, and it smells like cherries, so it does the trick in a pinch!

Be they super new to your collection, or ones you've had around for years, are there any products that you've recently injected into your daily makeup routine?  
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