BRUSHES

Today’s review is for the most beautiful eyeshadow palette that Tom Ford has ever released – The Nude Dip Eye Color Quad from the Fall 2014 collection, and the Contouring Cheek Color Duo Stroked. I don’t really go out of my way to buy things, as my motto has always been “if it’s meant to be mine it will be”. But I hunted frantically for this quad (see this post) as it’s simply too irresistible!

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As the name suggests, the colors of this quad are very neutral and nude in a very elegant and sophisticated way. The texture is buttery and extremely finely milled, so I prefer to use a dense eyeshadow brush to apply these shadows to get the maximum impact. All the shades are highly shimmery and that’s the beauty of this quad. Had this quad been in a normal matte to satin finish, then it would have certainly lost its glamourous appeal and made it too common. Since the colors are so soft and neutral, the high shimmer gives a glistening effect that just makes your eye makeup stand out more. Of course you can always tune it down by using a less dense brush.

Color Description

Top Left – beige champagne

Top Right – peachy-pink champagne

Bottom Left – cool taupe

Bottom Right – cool chocolate brown in satin finish

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Except for the dark brown shade, the rest of them are classic colors for a wash of color on the lid. I like to layer them to get a soft gradient look for more depth and dimension. When these colors are layered together, the combination pulls quite cool on me.

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On my cheeks is the Tom Ford Contouring Cheek Color Duo which is another must have from his Fall 2014 Collection. This palette is actually quite good value for money as you get both the highlighter and the blush for a much cheaper price than if you buy them individually from Tom Ford. The blush appears to be a saturated coral from the pan, and I was a little worried that it might pull too dark and brown on me. It actually transforms to a very fresh, bright yet soft coral when I applied it gently. The highlighter also deserves a thumbs up – it gives a translucent veil of glow on the cheekbones that works well with my skin tone, and it is just as good as the highlighter in the Filmstar palette by Charlotte Tilbury (reviewed here)!

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Close up

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Total look

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tom-ford-nude-dip-eye-color-quad-review-swatch-fotd-2Other products used:

Tom Ford Traceless Foundation

Tom Ford Translucent Finishing Powder (reviewed here)

Elegance Perfect Brow Powder (reviewed here)

Tom Ford Lip Color Twist of Fate (reviewed here)

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Bobbi Brown is the queen of neutrals, and I love her eye shadow palette if the colors are done right for me. My last palette from BB was from 2 years ago, and finally she released this Nectar and Nude Eye Palette from her recent Nudes in Bloom Collection that captured my heart again. It retails for $95 in Australia (I bought here) which is double the price than in the States, and I made sure I absolutely wanted it so I dropped by the counter 3 times to swatch the colors!

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The palette contains 4 matte and 2 shimmery/sparkly eye shadows, with the latter two being the standout for me. They are very smooth to apply and blend, and complement any matte neutral shades for a multi-dimensional look. They bring the matte shades to life, and in my opinion without these two this would be quite a boring palette!
Pale Cream (new shade and matte) – exactly the same color as my skin so it doesn’t show on my skin in the swatch below. It’s excellent for using it as a base color.
Soft Buff (new shade and matte) – matte taupe with mauve undertone. It’s relatively smooth for a matte shade and easy to blend.
Golden Bronze (new shade and metalic) – shimmery pale golden bronze. It’s the most buttery soft and smooth shade out of the palette. Stunning!
Pink Bellini (new shade and sparkly) – very smooth with pink micro glitter for a fine sparkle
Earth (new shade and matte) – a true medium brown shade which would be the most used color out of this palette for me.
Rich Cavair (new shade and matte) – goes on dark chocolate brown. Not as pigmented as the other shade, and it is dry and not easy for blending.

bobbi-brown-nectar-nude-eye-palette-review-swatch2Here is a tutorial of how I would use this palette for a natural eye makeup.

bobbi-brown-nectar-nude-eye-palette-review-swatch-2bobbi-brown-nectar-nude-eye-palette-review-swatch-tutorial-3Brushes used in this tutorial include CHIKUHODO Z5; Edward Bess Luxury Eye Brush; Suqqu brush Medium, Suqqu brush F, Laura Mercier Smoky Eye Liner Brush , Laura Mercier Smudge Brush

Overall this is a classic neutral and very versatile eye palette and will be a staple in my makeup rotation. My next Bobbi Brown will definitely be this new stunning palette!

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After my success with the Suqqu Cream Foundation, I have been exploring the beauty of cream foundations of different brands and I am absolutely loving the result! So naturally I started looking for a brush that is designed especially for cream foundation application, and the Tom Ford Cream Foundation Brush was on top of my wish list. Tom Ford makeup brushes have won a lot of raves amongst the bloggers, and I have waited a long time before delving into this hype as I knew I would be addicted to them. And I was right – the brush is ultra luxurious and functional which makes me want to collect the rest of the collection, but they will seriously burn a hole in your wallet!

tom-ford-cream-foundation-brush-review-1The design has a round and fat brush head, and it is extremely densely packed. The hair is ultra soft which feels to me like the finest goat hair so it has some degree of resistance in it. Perhaps that is why they recommend this brush for cream foundation as it has more ‘strength’ to blend thicker and creamier product into your skin than a conventional flat head foundation brush. Having said that, I have tried this brush with a runny liquid foundation, and it works just as good. So please note that it is not restricted to cream products only.

Why should you get it?

The brush feels unlike any other foundation brushes I have used. It feels ‘cushiony’, meaning I can barely feel there is any hair against my skin – it almost feels like I am applying foundation with a piece of marshmallow on a handle!  It’s soft, bouncy and dense. and it gives a completely streak free result. I don’t have problem working around the corners with this brush, but you might need a small brush for more precision work.

Other similar brushes:

Tom Ford brushes are made in Japan. As you all know, the Japanese excel in making brushes, and here are some relatively cheaper Japanese brushes that are comparable to TF:

- Shu Uemura Natural 18 Goat Brush: It retails for around the same price in Australia so I opted for TF. The hairs are equally soft but less dense.

- RMK Foundation Brush: RMK is also known for this brush which I have yet to try, but I have heard good reviews about it.

- Chikuhoko GS10 Foundation Brush

Bottom Line: I probably won’t suggest this brush as your first foundation brush because of the high price tag. But if you are looking into expanding your collection, this is the one to invest. It brings a totally different experience in foundation application.  I know it’s expensive, but good brushes will last you for a very long time.  I bought mine from David Jones for AUD$108, and you can get this brush here in the US.

On a side note, I have been asked by many of my readers where do I store my brushes. I store my favourite (expensive) brushes in a roller as I like to keep them dust free, and lie them flat so the bristles don’t change it shape over time! For my other brushes I normally place them in my Anna Sui brush holders and leave them on my vanity table for easy access.

Tip: If you are after a brush roller, make sure it is made of non-stick fabric such as canvas, cotton or nylon. Though leather or faux leather look better, they tend to get sticky in hot weather and might scratch the paint/writing off the handles.

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My Suqqu Brushes are one of my most treasured makeup collections. I have acquired all the Suqqu brushes that I wanted and it was really a great investment for me as I couldn’t imagine a day without them every morning when I do my makeup. Here are some proud and happy family shots of them!

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When it comes to brushes, everyone has their own preference depending on their facial features. I generally prefer smaller eye shadow brushes as I have quite a small eye lid space to work with. And the same goes with face brushes, as I find a smaller face brush allows me to layer different products more precisely and blend out the harsh edges.

Below are the hair types used in brushes in order from the softest:

Red Squirrel hair (very rare, only seen from the Jap brands) -> Blue Squirrel hair (rare) -> Grey Squirrel hair (ie Suqqu and CHIKUHODO) -> Fine goat hair 细光峰 (very rare, I have only seen them from CHIKUHODO and HAKUHODO) -> Squirrel hair with no classification (ie Sephora premium brand which I find quite coarse) – > Normal Goat Hair 粗光峰 (the most common amongst western brands, ie MAC, Bobbi Brown, Tom Ford etc) – > Pony hair

CHIKUHODO recommends that if you have dry and sensitive skin type, squirrel hair would be a better option, whereas oily skin type should go for goat or pony.

As for me, my preference goes to brushes made with 100% grey squirrel hair, or a mix of squirrel and goat (of which I highly recommend the GS range from CHIKUHODO as they are just as soft but the bristles have the same resistance as goat hair which are better for blending and picking up more pigments. I don’t wear heavy and bold makeup so naturally these brushes suit my needs.

Most goat hair can feel prickly on my skin as I have very sensitive and thin skin. On the other hand I have friends with oily skin (with bigger pores) who complain that squirrel hair brush deposits very little pigments on their skin.

If you want to invest in a set of premium brushes, you probably would have done a lot of research by now and maybe Suqqu or CHIKUHODO’s Z-series brushes are on the top of your shopping list. They are very similar since they are all made by CHIKUHODO. I have them both and here is a brief comparison that I put together:

-          Suqqu are slightly more expensive than the Z-series.

-          The ferrule and the handle qualities of the two are almost identical.

-          They are both made of 100% grey squirrel hair so they are equally soft and smooth. They also have equal amount of hair in each brush of the same type. The Z-series brushes feel more dense, silkier and heavier on the face, whereas Suqqu brushes are fluffier, and more bouncy – in the words of some “they feel like breeze on the skin”

A quick review for the Suqqu Face Brush:

I contemplated for a long time whether I should spend 168 Pound on a powder brush? But I am really glad I got it in the end. I thought loose powder and dewy skin cannot co-exist, but this has changed my perception. Since I had this brush, I literally use loose powder on my face everyday. It feels like breeze on my skin (apologies for the repeat but I can’t find a better word to describe the sensation). The ultra fine hair deposits an invisible veil of powder on the skin that is just enough to set the makeup and take away the unnecessary shine, but retains the natural radiance of the skin. You will never look cakey or powdery with this brush. The bristle is slightly tapered which also gives you a better control when applying powder over the t-zone.

Suqqu face brush used and unwashed :P

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Onto the Suqqu Eyeshadow Brush F:

The shape of the bristles is very similar to MAC 239. Function-wise, it is mainly used for laying down colors and it deposits the same amount of pigment as the MAC. Needless to say, it feels 1000 times softer and silkier than MAC. What I love about this brush is that it is very flat if you look at it from the side, which is perfect for smudging a soft (or smoky) line along the lower lash line which is what I have been using it for lately. Compared to a normal pencil brush, it distributes the pigments much more evenly, feels smoother and takes about 2 seconds to do one eye. In short I love this brush!

Suqqu Eyeshadow Brush F used and unwashed

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Links to my review of the other Suqqu brushes:

- Suqqu cheek brush

- Suqqu eyeshadow brush L

- Suqqu eyeshadow brush M

- Suqqu Eyebrow brush S

Reviews for CHIKUHODO brushes to come shortly!

All Suqqu brushes can be purchased from Selfridges.

Another long post! Is that what pregnancy does to a woman..I have been noticeably rambling a lot lately..

 

 

 

 

 

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This is the look I have been wearing for the past week. It is refreshing to switch from my usual preferred color palette of pink and cool neutrals to a warmer look, and what could be a better palette to use than my new Chanel Pearl River Eye Shadow Palette from the Hong Kong Collection (reviewed here). The overall look is peach for a natural day look, which is inspired by some of the makeup looks I have seen in Korean beauty magazines lately. I always find that a natural looking makeup requires more skill and effort to master. But once you get it right it just looks so beautiful and fresh on any woman, and best of all it helps to take away a few years of age!

In this FOTD, I have spent a lot of time and products creating the base – I wanted to achieve a fresh, dewy and almost barely-there base so that my own skin texture shows through. On the other hand subtle contouring was applied to mimic the natural shadow so my face won’t look too flat. Once this was achieved, everything else was straight forward – just applied light layers of colors to enhance the features.

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Face Products Used:

Brush 1: Giorgio Armani blender brush

Brush 2: Becca concealer brush

Brush 3: Suqqu face brush

Step 1: By Terry Teint De Rose as Primer, then MAC Mineralize Moisture Foundation (reviewed here) applied with brush 1

Step 2: Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage followed by YSL Touche Eclat #1 applied with brush 2 for under-eyes concealing.

Step 3: Becca Finishing Powder applied with brush 3 over the t-zone.

Eye Products:

Brush 1: MAC 227

Brush 2: Stila Precision Brush

Brush 3: CHIKUHODO Z-10 (reviewed here)

Brush 4: Suqqu Eyeshadow Brush F

Brush 5: Suqqu Eyeshadow Brush L (reviewed here)

Brush 6: Nars #12

Step 1: With the Chanel Pearl River Palette, applied the gold shade with brush 5, then added the peach color along upper lash line with brush 4. Use brush 6 to apply the chocolate brown on the outer v. The champagne color is applied under the brow bone with brush 1.

Step 2: Applied the peach shade along the lower lash using brush 3, then added the brown to the outer corner. Brush 2 is used to add the pearly white color on the inner corner.

Step 3: Applied Majolica Automatic Eyeliner, and finished with Cover Girl Clump Free Mascara.

Step 4: Filled the brows using Shu Uemura Hard Formula H9.

Cheeks and Lips:

Brush 1: CHIKUHODO GS2 Contour and Highlight Brush

Brush 2: Suqqu Cheek Brush (reviewed here)

Step 1. Applied Nars Multiple Tint in Turks & Caicos with Coffret D’OR Blush on the cheeks using brush 2.

Step 2: Maquillage Face Creater 3D in #55 is used for highlight and contour with brush 1.

Step 3: Bobbi Brown Lip Color in Salmon finished with Lunasol Clear Lip Gloss.

One more pic!

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I often receive emails from my readers sharing their love for Suqqu products with me, and it is very flattering to hear that they find my reviews helpful for their purchases. To date Suqqu remains one of my favorite makeup brands. There are a lot of other great brands out there, but every time I use a new Suqqu product, it always blows me away. For instance, the Suqqu Balancing Eyebrow Palette 01 with the Eyebrow Brush S are just the perfect combo -  they are officially my holy grail eyebrow products now.

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There are two eyebrow powders in the palette – one is a medium brown shade and the second one is a moss green shade which allows you to mix the colors to your desire. The light brown shade shown on the right is perfect for contouring the nose or eye socket. You can hardly see this shade in my swatch which is why, ironically, what makes it a perfect contouring shade! As usual Suqqu product design is always very attentive, as the palette comes with a brow brush and a shading brush. The quality of both brushes are excellent for their mini size.

The powder is ultra smooth, very pigmented and long lasting. The most outstanding quality is that it is a perfect ashy brown palette for my complexion and hair coloring. The shade moss green is brown based with a tiny tinge of green to it. It might sound ‘strange’ but it’s a very common color used in Asian cosmetics. We refer to this shade as a ‘natural linen’ color. Since most Asians have black to black-brown hair, and red is the most dominant color in black, a tinge of green mixed with brown helps to counteract the red tone. This helps to lighten the hair with an ashy tone.

Compared to Laura Mercier Eyebrow Palette 01 Ashy Blonde and Shu Uemura Hard Formula 6

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The Suqqu Eyebrow Brush S is the thinnest eyebrow brush I’ve ever used compared to other brands, so it gives the most precise and thin stroke that really mimics the natural eyebrow hair. Most eyebrow brushes including Stila and MAC are very firm and stiff, but the bristles of this Suqqu brush are firm yet soft (which might not make sense until you try it!), so it is a very directional brush for application and allows you to define and shape the brows better.

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Left: Stila Eyebrow Brush Right: SuqquSuqqu-Eyebrow-Brush-G-stila-1

As you can see, the thickness of Suqqu is only half of Stila!Both products are available on Selfridges here and here. And BIG THANKS to A Girl’s Guide to Makeup – I read in her blog (link here!) that you can use SKYPAX (a UK parcel forwarding service) to forward any purchases from Selfridges to anywhere in the world for a fraction of the cost that Selfridges charge for international shipping.

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Happy Monday everyone! I realized that I haven’t done a brush post for so long, so I thought I’d show you two of my favorite new brushes lately that took me a great effort in acquiring them! The cute looking Heart Face Brush is by Lam Sam Yick, and the Eye Shadow Brush is by CHIKUHODO Z-series. Both brands are only sold in certain countries in Asia, and I got them through a friend.

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CHIKUHODO Z-10 Eye Shadow Brush (only sold in Japan at the moment and retails for around USD$40): I have previously used the CHIKUHODO z-series face brushes. They are similar to my Suqqus but I still prefer the latter as they feel much more fluffier, so that had stopped me from pursuing CHIKUHODO brushes until I spotted this one. The shape of the brush is very unique and looks very promising to be used around the lower lash line. As with all of the z-series brushes, it’s made of 100% squirrel hair so it warrants a super indulgent experience. The size of the brush is similar to my other pencil brushes, but it has a more precise cut and is more tapered towards the end – as  you can see in my comparison picture.  The cone-shaped brush head allows for  a very good control over how thin and thick you want the line to be. Since it is made of the finest hair, it never feels scratchy around my sensitive eyes which I often find is the case with brushes of goat hair. Moreover, squirrel-haired brush deposits the color more softly than brushes of other hair type, so for me this brush is perfect for smudging a soft line along my lower lash line, which is exactly what I want.

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LAM SAM YICK Heart Brush Small in pink (aka “Bum Brush”): This is another interesting and unique face brush. It’s made by a traditional calligraphy and cosmetic brush company called LamSamYick based in Taiwan. They adopt a similar traditional brush making technique with a more affordable price. Their heart-shaped brush releases became an instant hit amongst beauty enthusiast in Asia . Girls were smitten by the cute design of the brush, and in the meantime it’s a very functional brush with superior quality. The cheek brush is made of 100% fine white goat hair and dyed pink with an ombre effect! For reference, it has the same softness and smoothness as the MAC 168. The bristles are densely packed and feel fluffy at the same time. This brush also has a nickname of ‘bum brush’ as the design of the brush head is reminiscent of a baby’s bum cheeks! The selling pitch has definitely worked for me as I always dreamt of rubbing my face against baby’s bum (when it’s clean) but I never had the chance. I’ve been using this brush for over 2 weeks now and it has no shedding so far. FYI The heart shaped brush series come in large, medium and small. I always prefer a smaller brush for applying blushes so I opted for the small size.

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For the month of November I was mainly focusing on achieving a flawless complexion.  If you have read my previous posts you would know my skin was breaking out more than usual over the time in US, so I have spent a great deal of time on finding the right skincare products that can clear up my skin as soon as possible (I have zero tolerance for them!), as well as fading the acne scars. For makeup I opted for base makeup that offers a slightly more coverage than what I would normally go for, so they can help me to ‘fake’ a flawless complexion on a bad skin day.

Let’s start with my favorite skincare of the month. After I was let down by Tanda Zap that failed to clear up any blemishes, I went back to my trusted formulation – Alpha and Beta Hydroxy Acid. I started with the Peter Thomas Roth AHA/BHA Acne Clearing Gel, which contains potent AHA and a high strength of BHA (2%). Then I couldn’t help but buy the MD Formulation Vit-A-Plus Clearing Gel which has an even higher concentration of salicylic acid (5%), and it also includes retinol. Combined with MD Formulation Vit-A-Plus Clearing Complex Masque, I saw visible results within 3 days, after 1 week my blemishes were almost all gone and they also prevented new blemishes from appearing. All of these products are extremely harsh to the skin, so I needed an extremely gentle cleanser to neutralize the harsh effects. The Bobbi Brown Extra Balm Rinse is the savior.

At the moment I am focusing on having my skin repaired as I was left with some acne marks. The Creme de la Mer The Concentrate has recently been voted as the Best Skin Secret by Harper’s Bazaar Australia, and I can’t agree with them more. La Mer has always been marketed as a miracle for anti aging, but little did people know the healing power of their products. If  you are familiar with La Mer’s signature ingredient – the miracle broth, it was initially developed by the founder to heal severely burnt skin, and I believe this is what some of their products are best used for. The Creme de la Mer The Concentrate contains the highest concentration of miracle broth, and is mainly used for treating scars, not for anti aging. It is the best I’ve used for repairing damaged and irritated skin, as it heals wounds, and fades scars quite miraculously!

The weather was somewhat dry in the States, and now it’s cold in Sydney. So I have been using Laura Mercier’s Moisturizing Foundation, finished with either Cle de Peau Beaute Translucent Loose Powder or La Mer The Powder. For concealing, I love using the Bobbi Brown Corrector in light bisque. If I want some extra luminosity, I topped it up with YSL’s Touche Eclat, of which I have now lost count of how much of this I have gone through. The Shiseido Foundation Brush made me fall in love with compact foundations again, as I have been using this brush with either Laura Mercier Mineral Powder or Edward Bess Sheer Satin Foundation (not in the picture) whenever my skin needed more coverage, and they have worked their wonders to fake a flawless complexion.

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