OOTD – The Flares

April 21, 2016

I haven’t been that excited with new season’s fashion for a while, as I am fully embracing the retro trend from the 70s with flares making a huge comeback. Favorite collection so far is the Zimmerman’s 2016 collection including this paisley necklet top in this OOTD.  As much as I try to add ‘non monochrome’ pieces into my closet, finding a perfect floral top has always been a challenge for me that doesn’t look overly cute, nor too matronly. This top updated with a neck tie and bell sleeves is right on point and tres chic. Pairing it with a cropped wide leg pant, and my go-to Valentino rockstud pump in Noir that literally goes with everything!

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Sunglasses – Tom Ford (available here)

Top – Zimmerman (bought here)

Pants – Tibi (currently 30% off here!, also available here)

Bag – Proenza Schouler Mini PS11 (bought here , also available here in black, and lots of other colors sold here)

Shoes – Valentino Rockstud Pump (bought here, also available at Nordstrom with lots of color options)

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Today’s review is for the newly released Chanel Rouge Coco Stylo Lipshine which comes in 12 new shades (available online here in Australia). I picked up 2 colors – the 208 Roman and 206 Histoire. I wasn’t super excited when I first played with the testers, as I thought they were very similar to the Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in terms of finish and texture, just packaged differently. Glad that I went ahead and bought some as once I tried them on the lips I felt the formula was definitely more superior than conventional glossy lipsticks and comparable to all the lip products from other premium luxury beauty brands of recent releases.

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The Rouge Coco Stylo comes in a twistable  pen style, so they are very easy to be carried around. One pet peeve is that the lipstick doesn’t twist back as with most pen style makeup products. It has a silky and melting formula that feels very hydrating and lightweight, and it glides on silky smooth with a slippery feel to the lips like a lip balm. My lips are in an extreme dry state at the moment during the transition season, and this lipstick pretty much conceals all the dry lines and flakiness and make them appear ultra pouty and plump!

I love the new stylos more than the Rouge Coco Shine because they are much more pigmented and long lasting, and it allows for different ways of application. You only need 2 swipes to achieve an intense full opaque glossy finish. As usual my preference is to just apply a wash of color, and it blends into the lips effortlessly until it becomes a stain-like finish in a satiny sheen. To my pleasant surprises, it lasts about 4-5 hours on me even with having drinks in between! Normal long lasting lipstick/lipstain tend to dry out the lips over a period of time, but this new formula (as well as the Tom Ford Patent Lip Color which also blew me away – reviewed here) are so intense and lightweight, and they can create the same effect whilst keeping your lips looking moist and supple.

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206 Histoire is a bright coral with red undertone in a glossy cream finish. It’s a bright color but easy to pull off with most complexions. A full coat gives a more bold and glamorous color, or wear sheer for a youthful look.

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208 Roman is a rosy fuchsia pink in a glossy cream finish. One of the most beautiful pink colors I found from this range. A very wearable pink that can be worn bright or can be toned down for a softer look.

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Group swatch

chanel-rouge-coco-stylo-lipstick-lipshine-206-histoire-208-roman-swatch-review-2The Chanel Rouge Coco Stylo Lipshine are available at Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and Chanel Online in the US, and David Jones in Australia.

 

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Kate Somerville makes some interesting and unique skincare products that always catch my attention. I haven’t used many of her products, but I truly like the ones I have used thus far. This post is the review for the products I am using at the moment – The Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment has been my holy grail for years, and the Dermal Quench Liquid Lift is my new discovery which I am quite pleased with.

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As with most beauty products in the market these days, shopping for an exfoliator can be a little confusing as they are all promoted with a fancy name! Generally speaking, there are only 2 types of exfoliators. The most basic ones are the physical scrubs that contain micro grains that works to scrub the dead skin off. It is suitable for younger and oily skin. I like it on the days when my skin feels a little rough. If you have sensitive, thin or acne prone skin, you might find them to be too scrubby. The second type is the chemical exfoliator which contains a main ingredient that helps to dissolve dead skin cells and help the skin to renew at a quicker pace. I find them to be more effective as I age, as they give my skin an instant boost of radiance and clarity. The common ingredients in the chemical exfoliator include different types of hydroxy acids or enzymes. I have used them all, and I find enzyme works the best for my skin, hence I love Kate Somerville the most as enzyme is the key ingredient in her signature product. Other similar products that include enzymes that I also adore are the Tracie Martyn and the Pevonia.

The Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment has a dark green rough mud-like texture (which also feels slightly grainy) with quite a therapeutic minty herbal smell. I like the original version as it is quite intensive, and it gives a little tingling sensation upon application but no redness for me. There is also a gentle version available. It is dubbed as a ’2 minute facial at home ‘ as you apply a thin layer of this product on the skin for 2 minutes (preferably in a steamy environment), and rinse it off. Instantly you feel your skin becomes much smoother with clogged pores slightly more cleared up, and more radiant and glowing with the result comparable to as if you just had a mini facial. I have gone through tubes and tubes of it, and I am still very impressed with the result after each use!

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I was after a lifting and firming lotion, so I thought I’d give the Liquid Lift a try.  It is an anti-aging product that claims to have breakthrough technology with a blend of hyaluronic acid and other powerful complexes, that helps to increase skin moisture level by 100%, and dramatically improve the appearance of lines and sagging skin. It comes in an aerosol bottle, and you need to give it a shake before use. For application, you spray the face and apply 3 strips to each side, and followed by massage immediately. It has a mousse (foam) like texture, and becomes watery-gel when you start massaging the face. It feels quite lubricant and lightweight but not sticky, with a cooling sensation so it helps to de-puff which makes a good product for a quick massage for the face. Takes about 1-2 minutes for the product to be completely absorbed into the skin, and the complexion feels very hydrated and supple afterwards that feels equivalent to a hydrating serum. As for lifting effect, there is no taut feeling to the skin after use, but I do notice my complexion appears slightly lifted. However I am not sure if that was due to the product, or the massage! Nevertheless as long as the product combines with the method delivers the result, I am happy!

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Shopbop is having its annual Family and Friends Sale now with code INTHEFAM for 25% off on full price and sale items (3 days only). It’s always delightful news for people who like stocking up new styles like me! This year there is a major update in the silhouette for the classic items such as Jeans and tops, and my fashion goal to add a few pieces that are on trend for this season. Currently obsessed with anything with flares and frays. I put together some pieces from Shopbop that I am having a major crush over – especially the pictured 3×1 cropped denim with raw hems and a small flare – tres chic! Mules and saddle bags are the accessories to go for this season.

From Top to Bottom:

Gentle Monster Sunglasses

Vanessa Mooney lace choker for less than $40

Elizabeth and James Blouse (currently on sale), also loving this 3.1 Philip Lim Blouse, and this blouse.

3×1 Cropped Boot Cut Jeans, also loving this pair by Victoria Beckham!

Acne Studios Mules

Mini Saddle Bag by Alexander Wang

B-Low the Belt

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This post is getting back to square one – talking about the very basic and essential makeup brushes that everyone needs in their makeup kit. I have been blogging for years, and I hardly get a chance to share my thoughts on the essential products, and introducing them to girls who just started their venture into the fancy makeup world which can get confusing. I am a makeup brushes collector who started collecting brushes from the mainstream brands, and later advanced into more  premium brands. Not everyone is willing to buy brushes from the very exclusive brands such as Suqqu and Chikuhodo, and this post is inspired by my most frequently asked question from my girlfriends “What MAC brushes should I invest in”.

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Why starting with MAC..? Perhaps it’s to do with their successful brand image and a lot of their products truly stand the test of time. I have had some MAC brushes for more than 10 years and they are still in good condition. Though I am having a lot more options these days , the MAC brushes in this post are still the most used and practical, and I highly recommend them in a heartbeat to everyone.

Starting with Eye makeup brushes.  MAC offers an abundance of options for eye makeup brushes – some are nice to have, and some are absolute essentials in my opinion. I have lots of them, and the must-haves for me are:

1. MAC 217 Blending brush – If you can only have one blending brush, make it this one! I have 3 of them – one for blending powder eye shadows, one for applying cream eye shadows, and one as a stand-by! Perfect size for blending color across the eye lid, and it’s soft but not super soft so it picks up pigments easily and does a good job for blending with some degree of resistance.

2. MAC 224 Blending Tapered brush - Bigger, less dense and more fluffy than 217. This brush picks up less pigments, and it is great for applying a sheer wash of color. I mainly use it for applying shading color to the eye socket area all the way to the upper nose bridge for contouring. Very easy to use and it’s fool proof!

3. MAC 226 Small Tapered Blending brush: The 3rd blending brush you need is the MAC 226. It’s slightly slimmer, smaller, more dense than 217, and it has a more tapered pointy end which gives you better precision control. Great for blending the colors in the crease area.

4. MAC 219 Pencil brush: Pencil brush is for drawing lines then smudging it for a softer blended finish. This is a firm and dense brush so it picks up lots of pigments, and the pencil shaped tip allows precise application around the eye corners and along lash lines. Absolutely must have if you like to smudge a soft wash of color along the lower lash line.

5. MAC 227 Large Fluff brush: Last but not least for blending, the MAC 227 is magical! It’s a big, fat and round-shaped brush that is the best brush for softening any harsh lines. All you need is to dab a beige color and blend it under the brows for a cleaner eye makeup look.

6. MAC 239 Eye Shader brush: Having a couple of shader brushes is also essential, and you can’t miss MAC 239. Perfectly designed for laying down the shadows on the lid and prevents fall out to build a more intense finish.

7. MAC 242 Shade brush: Designed for laying cream based color. It’s made of synthetic fiber, quite soft and very flat, and I like to use it for packing on the colors on to the eye lids, or drawing lines using the tips. It can also be doubled as a concealer brush over smaller areas. MAC also have the bigger sister version 252 which is more ideal for applying concealers than eye shadows.

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Face Brushes – I have less recommendations for the MAC face brushes than their eyes. Simply because I think there are much better options from other brands for face brushes, so I have only picked a few that I absolutely love.

MAC 168 Large Angled Contour brush: If I could only have one MAC face brush, it would be the 168! I have had this one for more than 10 years and it is being used on a very frequent basis, and the condition is still excellent! It’s very soft, doesn’t shed, and it’s a versatile brush as it can be used for applying blushes, as well as for buffing highlighting/shading colors for contouring purposes with the slanted angle design.

MAC 129 Powder and Blush brush: A good and basic design for a dome shaped blush brush. It has the right size and shape for multiple ways of application for the cheeks, as you can use it in a swiping motion, or pat it and swirl it for a wash of color effect. The full rounded shape gives an even and smooth finish. Not the softest brush, but it means it will pick up the pigments from even the most sheer blushes.

MAC 130 Short Duo Fiber brush: Stippling brushes are great for buffing face colors into the skin in a natural effect, and it works well with both powder and cream products. I love the size of 130 and the flat-top design, as it is perfect for blending concealers for under the eyes areas, or applying highlighters over the T-zone, and applying cream blushes over the cheeks!

MAC 159 DuoFiber brush: Another super versatile brush. The paddled-shaped brush is great for applying foundations and concealers for a natural finish. Also works well for applying a sheer wash of powder and cream blushes. Overall you can pretty much do your whole face with this brush! Experience slight shedding during the first few washes.

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In Australia, the MAC Brushes are available here online.

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The new NARS Spring Color eye shadows HAMMAMET Duo and Dual Intensity KARI from the Spring 2016 Collection thankfully reminded me of how much I used to be obsessed with Nars years back. (yes Nars was the brand that made me into a makeup addict hence the blog!) Over the past two years my obsession had slowed down, and I became very selective with the colors they released. My goal is to only collect the everyday colors that will get lots of use, rather than the unique bold colors (which Nars tend to do) that will end up collecting dust. Hammamet and Kari are beautiful neutrals again that I just can’t take my eyes off -  love the soft dusty rosy tone to them!

pictured clockwise: Nars Duo eyeshadow Hammamet; Nars Duo Intensity Kari and Nars Audacious Lipstick Natalie (one of my all time favorite lip colors – reviewed here)

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The Nars HAMMAMET duo is a must-have for me. I always thought it was the duo eye shadows and the blushes that has put Nars where he is now. The quality of the duo is always consistent, as the eye shadows are silky and creamy to the touch, and they are ultra pigmented but easy to apply and blend without any fallout. One compact will last you forever and the powder quality stays the same over a long period of time without drying out like the MAC singles.

Shade description:

Left : a matte medium sandy beige color that is perfect for shading/contouring. As a matte color it feels buttery soft and it glides on smooth and evenly.

Right: coppery bronzey shimmer with a hint of dusty rose undertone. Stunning color with ultra pigmented micro fine shimmer.

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The Nars KARI is another beautiful soft neutral color that just can’t be missed. It’s a soft dusty sandy taupe color with a hint of mauve undertone in satin finish. Texture is firm and silky smooth, and it can be applied wet or dry with a more intense finish when applied wet. If you think HAMMAMET might pull too warm on you, then KARI is more neutral and softer.

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You can find the Nars Spring 2016 collection at Nordstrom Online, and they are currently offering Gift with Purchase with Nars.

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Today’s review is for the gorgeous Tom Ford Cream Color For Eyes from the Spring 2016 collection (available online here in Australia). There are a total of 8 colors released this season, with some colors being rereleased, and some new colors added to the line. I picked up Opale, Platinum (both are highly popular colors from past seasons) and Sphinx (new).  All of them are simply irresistible from a neutral eye shadow lover perspective, and I always have a flair for cream eye shadows as they are easier to use and I like the fact that they can also be doubled up as a colored eye primer for an anti-crease purpose.

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As usual, Tom Ford’s makeup is always on the premium luxurious end from the packaging to formula, and the cream eye colors are no exception. All three colors have pretty consistent texture  – like a hybrid of gel and cream consistency and stay crease free for up to 8 hours on me. Upon touch it feels slightly wet so it has a higher water content than the conventional cream eye colors. It glides on very smooth and is easy to blend with a brush. I would say this is a much better formula to be used on mature eyes as it does not look powdery and cakey on the eyelid due to the slight moist feel. All 3 colors I picked have the right amount of shimmer – they are not too shimmery nor metallic/sparkly, just a subtle and elegant sheen that makes your eyes pop.

In terms of application, the Tom Ford is the easiest to work with out of all the cream eye shadows I have, particularly with brushes. The colors glide on seamlessly if you prefer to apply with fingers for an effortless finish. I prefer to use the MAC 217 blending brush as it blends the color out for a sheer wash. If you want to pack more pigments for an opaque finish, then it’s best to use a flat brush such as MAC 242 shader brush or just your fingers to pat more product on.

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Opale is a universally flattering ivory champagne shimmer. I am sure we all know this is the most staple color to own in your makeup kit, and you can never have too many of them!

Platinum is another highly raved color. It’s a shimmery taupe brown color that makes a perfect shading/contour color.

Sphinx is definitely a new must have color to own from the line. It is a peachy golden color with pink shimmer, and once it is applied it translates to a golden color with rose gold sheen in a duo-chrome effect.  It is a tad more shimmery than the other colors, and the formula is slightly more runny.

Swatches

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Sharing some of makeup retouch tips in this post. I wear makeup to work everyday, and I usually touch up my makeup midday just to make it look more fresh and energized. I don’t want to spend too much time doing my makeup in the office so I have hand selected a handful of essential items that refresh the makeup within minutes. As always, the main goal is to make the complexion appear more radiant and flawless without looking cakey.

frontrowbeauty-makeup-bagPrep:

Since there is already makeup on the face, my must-have product is to apply a few spritz of MAC Prep and Prime Fix+ Finishing Mist before I put anything else on, then gently pad the skin dry with a tissue paper. It is better than oil blotting paper, as it helps to remove the surface oil, freshens up and hydrates your complexion, and takes away any existing powder on your skin so you don’t look cakey following more products.

Complexion:

For the complexion, my preferences have always been either powder foundations or cushion foundations for adding a bit more coverage throughout the day. Depending on your skin condition and the work environment, powder foundation is great for mattify-ing and gives a tad more coverage. I normally gravitate towards powder foundation if I go to the gym during lunchtime and my foundation is pretty much gone after a sweaty session. Other days I prefer to use the Sulwhasoo cushion foundation (reviewed here), it is like a foundation and radiant booster in one product that is perfect for creating a moist and dewy finish with a touch of sheer coverage. It takes less than a minute with no blending required for retouch, and it instantly makes your complexion appear fresh and more plumped. My go-to pick-me-up product!

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Eyes:

If you have any smudges around the eyes, you don’t need to carry a bottle of eye makeup remover. My tip is to always bring a little skincare sample (preferably eye cream), and dab a little on a cotton tip and this will erase any stubborn eye makeup smudges. I don’t normally touch the eye makeup, other than using a nude Charlotte Tilbury pencil in Eye Cheat to line the lower rim if I look very tired. A shimmery neutral eye shadow pencil such as the Chanel Stylo Eyeshadow is also great for emergency, as it is convenient to use with no brushes required. Sometimes I like to dab a little to the center and along the lower lash for a wash of color.

Colors:

The golden rule is to always use powder blush on top of powder foundation, and cream blush on top of cream/cushion foundation. At the moment I have got this Becca Tint Shimmer Souffle (reviewed here) in my makeup bag, as the formula works well with the moist finish from the cushion foundation. Also really love this pale baby pink and it’s fairly easy and quick to apply with fingers. As for the lips, I have an array of lip colors in my bag.  Showing in the picture is the super cute Mini Tom Ford Lip and Boy colors (reviewed here).

Highlight/Contour:

Last but not least, I like to use the KATE 3D Highlight and Deep Shadow Stick for a quick highlight and contour touch up. It is a pen highlighter on one end (ivory color with soft shimmer) and shading on the other (light matte sandy beige brown color) that is great for carrying out. The colors are really subtle so they are fool proof for application on the go. It is a creamy powder formula, and the sponge applicator helps to even out the color nicely.

If highlight and contour is not your forte, then a liquid illuminating concealer pen is a great option for brighten up the T-Zone, and the under eyes area. Loving the Chantecaille Anti-Fatigue Corrector Pen (reviewed here) as it is packed with their famous hyaluronic acid, so it works really well on dry skin.

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