Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sephora Blockbuster Palette

According to the Sephora website, this triple-tiered palette for eyes, face and lips contain 64 shadows, 32 lip colours, 7 cheek colours, 1 shimmer powder, 4 double-ended shadow applicators and 2 lip brushes.

Image from

Is this THE perfect holiday gift for the beauty junkie? This one says no. Sephora's Blockbuster Palette presents a breathtaking sight, but I would be pretty upset if I found this in my Christmas stocking. I would not be able to justify ANY makeup purchases for the rest of the year (or... MY LIFE!), nor would I use every shade in the palette, which is quite wasteful. Finally, a makeup collection or traincase should be lovingly, carefully assembled over time after much research, discussion and agonizing so it contains the best brands and products for the owner!

In any case, the Blockbuster Palette could be a good gift for someone who does not own a scrap of makeup and does not particularly care but should, because, oh honey, we're not getting any younger, are we?

At US$48 a palette, it's quite a steal. Available in stores and online at

Friday, October 26, 2007

Review: Blinc Kiss Me mascara in black

Blinc Kiss Me mascara professes to form tiny 'tubes' around the lashes instead of coating them with a layer of paint like conventional, oil-based mascaras, 'tubes' that slide off with a little bit of warm water and pressure. I purchased the mascara from a beauty boutique here in San Jose last Sunday and promptly put it to the test.

The Kiss Me mascara comes in a maroon tin container, which is a bit of a novelty, but like all novelties, rather unnecessary. While I do not see the point of keeping the tin container, I cannot bear to toss it out like a common cardboard box.

Although the Kiss Me mascara originated from Japan, the land of kook and innovation, the slogan on the tube--"STOP painting your lashes... TUBE them!"--is most American. No real surprises there, since Blinc is a privately-owned company based in Delaware.

This mascara's unique formulation promises no flakes, smudges or clumps, and while my own experience has proven this to be quite true, I haven't exactly run a marathon, dived for pearls or cried over the fate of unborn children to REALLY test it. Although the website claims that the Kiss Me mascara will add volume and length to my lashes, the sales assistant was more more honest, or experienced. The mascara really just adds length, he said. Volume may just be achieved with a ten-coat application or if I prepped my lashes with the Kiss Me lash primer. True to his words, this mascara did a good job in defining, darkening and extending my lashes but did nothing to add volume even after 3 coats.

But now, for the fun part! The Kiss Me mascara is a CINCH to remove. After dissolving the rest of my makeup with my trusty Shu Uemura beauty cleansing oil, I step into the shower and let the warm droplets hit my face. I then place my index fingers at the base of my lashes and gently push the tubes off, removing every little bit of mascara within seconds. It really cannot get easier than that! This is what the 'tubes' will look like. They're more like string, aren't they?

Maybe it looks a little gross to you, but I'm still fascinated by the process despite wearing and removing the mascara for nearly a week. I wish makeup removal was this easy and painless all the time.

Blinc Kiss Me mascara retails for US$25 and comes in five shades - black, dark brown, medium brown, dark blue, dark purple and dark green. It is available for purchase online on and Amazon.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Travelling and the Beauty Junkie.

I recently made a 15 hour trans-Pacific journey to the United States by plane, and as you all know, long-haul flights to this part of the world can be hellish for a beauty junkie. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regulations stipulate that anything remotely liquid or gel-like, such as lip gloss and moisturizer, may not carried on board in containers exceeding 3 oz or 90ml, and all of these have to be placed in a single quart-sized ziploc bag. I chafed against these rules when they were first announced, but I have come to appreciate them as my carry-on bag has since become significantly lighter. I used to pack full-sized toiletries and a whole makeup bag into my carry-on in addition to two paperbacks, an ipod, cellphone, water bottle, pashmina, travel wallet, purse, pencil case, several notebooks... no wonder I regularly ended a journey with a sore back!

While makeup essentials such as blush and lipstick that prevent one from looking like death warmed over after a long flight are no longer an issue, cleansing and moisturizing treatments are. Fortunately, travel-sized items and miniature gift-with-purchase (GWP) novelties abound, and they are especially easy to obtain in Asian air transportation hubs in Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei, Seoul and Japan. While I've yet to experience the last two, cosmetics-shopping in Hong Kong and Taipei is great fun as the shops carry brands like Jurlique, Shu Uemura and La Prairie. I never mind layovers in these airports as I'm able to pick up a couple of hard-to-get items at much lower prices. This time round in Taipei, I purchased my favourite Shiseido Anessa SPF50 sunscreen and the Chanel Sublimage eye cream that was US$40 cheaper than those sold in department stores. Unfortunately, due to the no-liquids rule, my purchases were sealed in a plastic bag with a warning not to open it until I had reached my final destination in the U.S. I also spotted (but sigh, passed up) an adorable pink-themed Shu Uemura set containing a beauty oil cleanser and rose-scented depsea water spritz in travel-friendly sizes as well as 2 full-sized eye shadows in pink and black. While they would have been perfect, I was determined to use what I had packed into my ziploc baggie, which included:
  • Single-use, sample-sized sachets of Aesop's Primrose Facial Cleansing Masque, Oil-Free Facial Hydrating Serum and Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Eye Serum. Yes, I used a mask instead of a facial cleanser in an airport bathroom (to great effect, might I add) because I procrastinated and forgot to stock up on Cetaphil and facial cleansing wipes before my trip.
  • Skinceuticals Hydrating B5 Gel
  • SK II Signs Eye Mask
  • Travel-sized L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream
  • Shu Uemura eyebrow pencil
  • Chanel Inimitable mascara in black
  • C.O. Bigelow Mentha Lip Tint in red
  • Laura Mercier Secret Concealer in #2
  • Travel-sized apple mint toothpaste
  • Tiger Balm
Now, even if TSA decides that travel-sized toiletries were too huge a risk and bans them completely, we could possibly live with it as long as we could keep ourselves hydrated during the flight by drinking several litres of water, right? Unfortunately, what applies to your facial cleanser applies to your water bottle as well - no bigger than 3 oz and placed in a quart-sized ziploc bag. Granted, the air hostess will come around periodically with her tray of drinks, but this is hardly an effective way to keep our skin cells plump and hydrated during an hours-long flight. Also, come ON - 90ml of water? A mug or glass of water usually contains around 250ml! What I do to get around this limitation is to actually bring an empty 500ml or 1 litre bottle on board, and get it filled as soon as I can once I'm on the plane. Now that I've written this down, I'm afraid I have doomed empty water bottles to a senseless banning.

Well, until then, happy travelling, beauty junkies!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

First Attempt for Dark Nails

This Fall/Winter season calls for short, dark nails in multiple hues of reds, wines and rich greys as seen from Chanel.

Speaking of Chanel, they do the most deliciously-dark matte black polish. Retailing for a whopping RM70 per bottle, this unemployed had to find another solution. Fast!

That's where your local Watsons came to save the day. Silkygirl does a black that's called Jet Black that is rather similar to the one from Chanel that I'd been coveting. Look, I'm a novice with dark nails. There's absolutely no reason why I should be spending so much on a nail polish. A good base and top coat, yes, but not yet, for nail polishes.

And, stealing Shryh's idea of displaying both the results of the nails as well as the bottle, here's my very first attempt.

It's a lot of work waiting for each layer to dry before another one is painted on. What with trying not to go over the edge and paint the skin, trying to leave the cuticles unpainted, it's a major pain in the ass! With dark polish, I've been told to stick to short nails for a chic look. Any longer, you'd be going for the vampish, Halloween look.

I still love the effects, though. The hard work paid off and I'd love to have a navy blue and a shimmery plum colour next.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

New Goodies From Benefit

Browsing beauty websites is one of my favourite hobbies. It's like window shopping. All from the comforts of my room. And, Benefit cosmetics always has one of the most fun stuff. Quirky names, pretty packaging, they all seem to beckon at me from across the oceans.

One of the first few stuff which I came across was a set of brushes. Or, I should say one of the first few things which caught my eye since brushes are always interesting. This set contains 4 brushes, from its description: the powder brush, fluff brush, hard angle brush, and the talent brush.

I would think the fluff brush would be your regular large eyeshadow brush. The hard angle brush (last brush on the right depicted below) can be used for filling in the eyebrows and finally, the much-talked about talent brush (2nd last brush from right below) is multi-use. I imagine it would be suitable for a cream eyeshadow and even for undereye concealer! I wouldn't dream of using this to correct spots because it's just too wide for precision.

This set goes for USD$44.00.

Justine Case, a twist to the popular phrase just-in-case is a set made up of miniatures of Benetint, eyecon, california Kissin' and Some Kind-a Gorgeous in a pan. I would think this would be a good chance for those who have been dying to want to try some of these products. Benetint has received its fair share of good (and lousy!) reviews but you'd never know if it'll work on you until you've tried. eyecon is their eye cream which is touted to reduce dark circles but having tried an entire tub, I can safely say that it does not work. Well, that's the thing with dark circles. You cannot simply eliminate them with products. Trust me on this. California kissin' is a blue-tinted lipgloss which is supposed to make teeth look whiter. Well, it is true that a red lipstick with a hint of blue would make lips whiter but I still could not justify spending so much on a lip gloss. According to some complaints in forums, Some Kind-a Gorgeous is too expensive to be used solely as a foundation. You'd see the bottom of the pan in no time. Well, like I'd said, you wouldn't know until you've tried it.

This cute little palette retails for USD$30.00

Grabbing all the favourites from their range of products, Best of Benefit: Iconic Classics consists of Dr.Feelgood - a balm and/or primer for the face, Benetint and Badgal Lash mascara. These products are all packed up in a pretty little paper box and ready to be given away (or kept for yourself). Other than Dr.Feelgood, I can't say for how good the rest of the products are. I am actually rather disappointed with Dr.Feelgood. It made me break out at the oddest places! The little spots would pop out at the little crevices at the sides of my nose. Between the nose and the cheek. Just one or two. I've completely given that up. But, having said that, I've still not learnt my lesson and would, every now and then give it a go, just in case, I've gotten over the reaction.

This pink package retails for a whopping USD$58.00

Finally, a little gift set they've dubbed Best of Benefit: Beauty Bag Essentials consists of Dallas the bronzer, Badgal Lash mascara as well as eye bright, a pink pencil to be used to brighten up the eye area.

This retails for USD$46.00.

I've always loved stuff from Benefit, but somehow, I was just not inclined to buy anything this time round. Maybe the phase for Benefit has finally passed.

Note that this is not in any way sponsored by Benefit. I just think that their products are cute and are worth sharing. I shall not be held responsible for any spending sprees going out of control.

Being Frugal

As a Dior Club member, I was given a tiny little gift on my birthday. And, when I say tiny, I really do mean tiny.

As I stared at the tiny little tube in my hands, I thought wryly to myself, "Is Dior being funny or sarcastic about giving me an anti-ageing eye cream as I get a year older?"

Yep, on one hand I was glad that I got another 2ml of the Capture R60/80 eye cream. On the other, I couldn't help but think of how apt or how "thoughtful" they were being.

Well, 2ml of eye cream is really not a lot but considering how little we use each time, I think 2ml was more than sufficient. Until I got tired of squeezing every tiny drop out. My fingers would hurt and I would struggle to balance between squeezing the tube and popping a finger to 'receive' the cream out from the tube. As much as I loved the hygiene that's presented with a squeeze-tube, I hate that it's so hard to not to waste expensive products like that.

So, I rooted around for a small clean travel-sized container I seem to have a lot of. I found one and proceeded to chop my tube of eye cream into 3 pieces. The tip, the middle part and the flat bit at the end. When I purchased the full-sized Dior eye cream, I was given a spoon as well. For the same hygienic purpose, I would presume. Using that spoon, I scooped every bit out from the 3 bits of the tube. It was highly-satisfying to see that not a single drop of product was wasted.

I repeated the same thing this evening with my trusty Olay Total Effects serum. However, this time, it was much, much harder. This is where your other half came in handy! Once again, I rooted around for yet another clean travel-sized container. And, I saw that it was the last travel-sized container I have. Thankfully, nothing is running out yet. Armed with his trusty Swiss army knife, he chopped the Olay bottle into half and once again, I scooped everything out.

With the eye cream, I think there was enough of product to last me for a good couple of months! Imagine how much product there is left in the tube had I just tossed it away! With the serum, it was good for another extra week at most, but, it's still a lot of product left behind!

For a change, I wish manufacturers would come up with bottles and tubes that would allow us to use up every single drop. It's not just that I'm a miser (yes, I can be when it comes to beauty products) but it's also, I think, the responsible thing to do.

Now, if only there was a way for me to open up my Olay Total Effects moisturizer!

Dior Warehouse Sale

One word: Meh.

Held at the basement carpark (B1) of Menara Milenium, Jen and I caught glimpse of it the moment we entered the parking lot in search of a spot. It was tiny. And dingy. Sort of.

I was thankful that I came prepared. I knew events like these would not allow for handbags to be brought in so I stuffed cash, IDs, credit cards and my mobile phone into my pockets and walked in. I was right.

The guard eyed us warily in search of a handbag. There was a cashier on one end of the room and then tables were fashioned into a long 'L' shape following the length and width of the room. Products on sale were mostly the regular stuff. If you're after a limited edition palette you missed out, sorry to say you'd have your hopes completely dashed.

The first few tables were Dior body products which I skipped entirely. Then it was the Dior whitening range but I was not interested. Their Prestige range was on sale as well but I'd never be able to afford it so I moved on. Lip products were really cheap.

All lip products (glosses and lipsticks) were going for RM40 each or RM70 for 2. There was only one green and one pink shade of gloss from the Diorshow gloss range. There was a green Dior Kiss gloss but I was not interested. They had some of the older Dior Addict (not Dior Addict 2) range which was not too bad. Dior Rouge was there as well. This, I can vouch that it's very cheap. Your regular Dior Kiss gloss would be RM68, Dior Rouge would be above RM80 and Dior Addict would be close to RM80.

For eye makeup, the older single shadows were on sale for RM30 each. They had quintets from previous seasons as well. One of my favourites- Stylish Move (970) was on sale for RM70. There were a few other quintets but I cannot remember the names nor colour code. Grabbing a quintet would save you by more than 100 bucks because each one currently retails for RM178.

Moving along would be face products: blush and foundation (liquid and powder). They had the regular rectangular pan blush which I was not really interested. Dandelion has served me fine and it shall continue to do so until I decide it's too young for me. Diorshow blush is one of the cutest things I've ever seen and I've really liked it from afar for a long time. Retailing for RM132, it goes for only RM60 at the sale. Unfortunately, there was only ONE colour on sale and the colour would turn my cheeks bright orange.

Diorskin Flash was going cheap as well at RM60 a pen. I can't remember the current retail price.

I do like Dior foundations because they are completely lightweight. But there were not enough of colour selections and I wouldn't dream of buying foundation in that kind of lighting, no matter how cheap it is. One good thing about this event was that there were no sales assistants hovering over you. No one was trying to push products. They would give suggestions or help when asked but other times, they just stand around and wait for you to make the first move. At the foundation counter, one of the girls tried to sell her foundation on me. She picked around for what she thinks is the correct colour (I would think it is the correct colour too) and tried it on my hand. I politely declined citing of my complete sloth-like attitude when it comes to foundations.

Curiosity got the better of her, "So, do you use anything? Compact powder? Loose powder? Compact foundation?"

Errr.... nothing. Only sunscreen, actually.

She took a careful glance at my skin and conceded to keeping away the testers,"Oh. Yeah, you're right. Lucky you, then. You've got good skin."

I replied my thanks with a beaming smile. I mean, who wouldn't be pleased at hearing that?

THIS is the kind of attitude that Malaysian sales assistants need to learn! To know when to back off and to know when to try and prod a sale along! Last lot of makeup products were brushes. A complete brush set goes for RM280 with a casing but I've already got a pretty good brush set so I gave that a pass. They've also got the concealer brush going for RM40. I can vouch for the brush set that it's a good investment. I've played with them at the regular counters and I love how soft they were. And, they are not usually for sale. I've seen that it's on sale at either Jusco or Metro at MidValley but that's about it. So, if brushes are what you need, I would say, go for it.

Following tables were filled with fragrances. The usual Dior Addict 2, Dior Addict Shine, Dior Addict 2 Peonies were there. Then, their older Poison and Pure Poison sets were available as well. Jen was rather taken in by the Dior Homme fragrance. When I first gave him a sample, he exclaimed loudly,"UNCLE SCENT!" However, having tried that a couple of times more, he found that he quite liked it. It was going for RM90 for a 30ml bottle. I gave him a Baldeserrini last Christmas and it's not even half-used, so I suggested he should give this a miss. He was a bit upset that he didn't manage to get anything but, really, at the rate he uses fragrances, I should be getting him 10ml bottles next!

By the time we were about to leave, the crowd had started to come in. Office workers who had finished work by 5-ish started to stream in and I was right: Events like these are vicious! I was still at the lipstick table with Jen when these 2 women with their backpacks pushed their way in. I was in a relatively good mood or I would've elbowed them. Jen left to make way for me as I continued browsing.

Quite a number of men were there as well. One of them wanted a Diorisime but was told that they don't have it. Like I'd said, it was pretty small and products on sale were from their regular range. I could see only the Dior Addict 2 Peonies to be from the limited edition range. Another man was walking up and down all the while describing each product to his other half, I would presume. It was kinda hilarious. So, Boss, don't be afraid of going there without HY, yeah?

I guess my only peeve were the LABELS. Dear Lord, the labels! Sales assistants had merely torn off lids of cardboard boxes and scrawled names of products and prices, then propping them up. Imagine seeing luxury makeup products being labelled with a cardboard box! My instant reaction, "Aiyoh!!!" It's like wearing a vintage Chanel gown and pairing that with RM3 flip-flops from pasar malam.

It was an eye-opening experience, I would say. Because they had quite little products, the crowd was thin, which was something that I like. If other warehouse sales were this simple and straightforward, I think I would attend more.