October 28, 2009

Review: Nailtek Foundation II base coat

I have never been a fan of base coats, well actually I am a bit lazy and couldn't be bothered.
But I was tired of having to remove my polishes like every 2 days because of chipping, so I gave Seche Vite top coat a try. Not really working.

Then, as my nails were quite in bad condition and more prone to breaking than ever, I decided to give base coats a chance. I kind of randomly picked this one because I read in the description that it would fill the nails surface, which I need, and help prevent breakage. And well, I am amazed by the results!

- it dries really quickly so I don't have to wait too long before applying the polish
- it really creates a smooth base
- I then apply a first coat of polish and the Nailtek Foundation barely changes its aspect
- I then apply a second coat and then Seche Vite top coat.

Here's the result:

And well I must say that it's the first time my nailpolish ever stayed decent for 3 days. I could even have done little touch ups on the minor chipping and a 4th day wouldn't have been a problem.
Since this hadn't worked before with only 2 coats of polishes + top coat, my conclusion is that Nailtek Foundation made the difference, and I will definitely keep on using it!

October 23, 2009

Pressed Powders Review

I can't be without pressed powder (don't tell me about loose, it's too much of a mess), it just sets the makeup perfectly and I keep a compact in my purse for touch ups during the day. Oh, and I apply with a puff, not with a brush, because coverage is better this way especially on oily zone (I actually don't powder my dry zones).

There are 3 powders that I have been using and that I am going to review, and they're on different positions on the price scale, which is also interesting.

1. The high-end: T.Leclerc pressed powder.

Mr Leclerc was a French pharmacist at the end of the 19th century, who more or less invented the face powder as we know it. So you would think that brand know their stuff, and I think they really do, indeed!
The product comes in a nice compact with a real mirror and a little puff (which is quite cheap and thin, I must say). The shade range is really large, and there are also tinted powders that brighten different types of complexions, like a yellow one, purple one, pink one etc...
I have been using either the translucent or beige ones for several years. Even when using it daily, it takes me 6 months or more to hit pan. The finish looks very pretty and velvety, but quite matte. It lasts a good 6 hours on my combo skin and I can touch up without getting a cakey look.
Overall, it's an excellent product. The only downsize is the price: 35€.

2. The middle-end: Mac Mineralize Skinfinish Natural.
This powder comes in a compact with a transparent top and no mirror, and has a dome-shaped form, so it won't fit in a blush palette.
The color selection is good but not extremely large and I find there is quite a gap between some of the colors. I personally use Light-Medium (I'm NC15 in Studio Sculpt, for the record).
The finish is very pretty and has a light sheer, so it's mattifying but not flat matte and looks very good. It lasts a bit less than the T.Leclerc on oily skin but you can also easily touch up. Also I think I finish it off a bit faster.
The powder is finely melt but it is a mineral powder, so I know some people are very sensitive to it and break out from that product.
Price is very reasonable for that very good quality: 22€

3. The drugstore product: Bourjois mattifying powder.

This is a very pretty and solid plastic compact, which a real mirror in it - not so common for a drugstore product. It comes with a little puff that is very nice and soft.
The powder is very fine and extremely sweet, it leaves the skin matte and velvety.
It has a distinctive perfume, which can bother some people, but it fades away quickly once you have applied it.
Although I love all those product features, the product doesn't seem to last well on me and I need to touch up after 4 hours, which is a shame because it's otherwise perfect. Even the price is perfect : 11€, that's half the price of the Mac and less than 1/3 of the T.Leclerc!
Now considering this price, I think you get great value for your money, and on days when I am just out for a few hours instead of working 12+hours, it's certainly good enough.

So, which one to pick?

Very often, the truth lies in the middle :-) I would pick the MSF natural for most people, me included as I now use it most of the time over Leclerc (mostly because of the lower price, there's nothing else I don't like about Leclerc).
However, if you have a very oily skin or are sensitive to mineral powders, T.Leclerc will be a safer bet for you. And if you have normal skin or don't need long-lasting coverage, you'll be happy with Bourjois and won't be spending too much.

October 22, 2009

Favourite hair products

I love spending lots of time playing with makeup. But when it comes to hair, I am the opposite. I want it to be fabulous, but I don't want to have to work too long to get results, nor do I want to use tons of products because I know they do build up and make you hair look so blah.

I thought I'd tell you about my favourite hair products. Most of them are pro products, that I get from a beauty supplies store. They are more expensive than drugstore of course, but I can really see and feel the difference - lots of drugstore shampoos irritate my scalp.
My hair is shoulder-length and naturally wavy. Since white hair is already a reality for me *sigh*, I do color my hair every 2 months with a semi-permanent dye, from the L'Oreal Professionel Richesse line. Even if I don't go to the salon and dye my hair at home, I still use Richesse.

My favourite shampoos.
I rotate between several shampoos, depending on my needs of the moment.
  • During the 3-4 weeks after I have dyed my hair, I use the L'Oreal Professionel Vitamino Color shampoo, to protect my color.
  • When I want to wear my hair curly (which I don't, most of the time), I will use L'Oreal Professionel Shine Curl Shampoo.
  • Sometimes if my scalp gets irritated for some reason, I would use L'oreal Professionel Sensi Balance Shampoo for a couple of days.
  • And when I have no special need, I use Swatzkopf Bona Cure Hydrating shampoo because my hair is quite dry on the ends.
Masks and conditioners.
I don't use conditioners anymore, I rather use a mask and just leave it on a couple of minutes, and I don't always use one because my roots tend to get oily. I rotate between L'Oreal Professionel (yes, again) Absolut Repair mask and Liss Ultime mask when I go for the ultra straight look.

I also have a couple of leave-in conditioners that I don't use on a regular basis, but that I sometimes need, like Bed Head Ego Boost to repair split ends, or Bed Head Control Freak Serum. This one is supposed to straighten and control frizzes but actually it makes my hair quite curly, hum.

I don't use many styling products, as I said I don't like to put a lot of stuff on my hair.
When I go for piecy hair and straight style, I use Sebastian X-tah Clay, it's a bit hard to manipulate but it works wonders. If I just want some spray, I use Garnier Fructis (the only drugstore product from my whole selection).

If I want to go for the wavy/curly look, I have 2 great products:
  • As a conditioner, Osis+ Loopy Curl cream, that I apply on wet hair before leaving it to dry naturally. (Warning, just apply a nut size of it!)
  • As a styling product, GHD Sea Spray for matte waves, which unlike a lot of Sea Sprays, doesn't make my hair feel crunchy.
I use Braun tools on my hair, I find they work quite good for non-professional products. I have a Braun blowdryer and a Braun flat iron for straightening. I also own a generic curling iron that I really don't use often.
In the coming months I plan on getting a GHD Styler IV, because I do use the straightener pretty much every day (if not everywhere, at least on my bangs) and I think the GHD is worth the investment because it's supposed to damage the hair less than other straighteners.

Well that's it. Although this can look like a lot of products for someone who claims they don't spend much time caring for their hair, I have to say that I use maximum 2 products at once, and that I rotate depending on my needs, the seasons, weather etc... I feel like if I use the right products, I don't have to put too much effort or energy in the hair maintenance process.

Feel free to ask questions on those products if you want to, or to share your own favourites!

October 19, 2009

October Favourites

It's that time of the month again, where I share my current favorites. I must say that a lot of things I listed in September are still there, especially skincare (I'm not going to change a routine that works perfectly) but there are a few variations.

  • Illamasqua Cream Foundation (125): October is always a month that involves a lot of travelling and very long days, and I have rediscovered how efficient this foundation is under those hard conditions. It really lasts all day, has just a tiny bit of a glow to make you look healthy, is buildable in terms of coverage, and the packaging makes it easy to take it along for touch-ups (if you really need them, that is, which is unlikely).
  • YSL Faux-Cils: yes, I sound like a broken record.
  • Givenchy Prisme Again n°13 - Sun Mango: I love this combination of 4 colors, I swirl my brush around all of them and use this bronzy mix for contour, and then I use one of the lighter products as a blush. This looks very natural, which is great when you go for dark lips or eyes.
  • Benefit Skinny Jeans creaseless cream shadow: great texture, great color, nice for those days where you don't have much time
  • Mac Baby Goth Girl nailpolish: such a pretty dark color, the sparkles are hard to remove but I don't care.
  • Purples: I am obsessed with them right now, no matter what brand or finish, I have fallen back in love again with those colors that I had neglected these last years
What are your favorites of the moment?

October 15, 2009

YSL Faux-Cils versus Diorshow.

These two are probably the most popular high-end mascaras on the market place, although they are not really new. That must mean something, right?
I have been using YSL Faux-Cils for a few weeks now and am really liking it, but when I went to the department store to get one in another color, they were out of stock and I let the sales advisor trick me into getting Diorshow instead. I had tried (and not liked) Diorshow like 10 years ago when it was released, and I assumed it would have evolved by now, so why not.
And now I can really compare!

Contestant #1 : Diorshow

Diorshow kind of invented the big fat brushes and I like these (don't even mention rubber brushes to me). But I was almost scared by this one: it's almost bigger than my eye. Not that my eyes are very big, but still.
On to the formula, I found it quite dry, which makes it difficult to apply a second coat after a while without getting a flaky mess on your lashes. And that's too bad, really, because you really need several coats of these to get some effect. Though it's marketed like a volumizing mascara, I didn't think it did much for my lashes on that register.
The product doesn't really have a scent, which is a bonus if you have a sensitive nose like me.
Price paid: 28€ (it's a large size, 11ml, but like any mascara you have to toss it after a few months so you're unlikely to use it up anyway)
My overall verdict: not worth that money. My Maybelline Colossal does exactly the same thing and I think the formulation is even better (but the color range is smaller, too bad...)
I will not repurchase

Contestant #2 : YSL effet Faux-Cils
Another big fat brush, but smaller than the Diorshow one and more adapted to my eye size. The golden tube looks a bit tacky but well, it's the inside beauty that counts, right?
The formula is reasonably wet and very buildable. When I started using this, I actually had trouble knowing when I should stop, because you can put on coats and coats without any problem up to the point where your lashes really look fake (which is the aim, but then they hit my glasses). But you can go with one coat and you'll be just fine, too. So it's kind of multi purpose, daytime and night out, and I like that.
Like any YSL product, this one is heavily scented, kind of a melon fragrance, but I don't mind. I actually like this scent (which doesn't happen often, so I'm lucky) and anyway it doesn't last very long.
Price paid: 23€ for 7.5 ml
My overall verdict: I think I have found my Holy Graal mascara. I have always thought paying that much for a mascara wasn't worth it and drugstore stuff was as good, but I find this one to be quite exceptional - enough to spend that money every three month.

October 12, 2009

Foundation Review #7: Dior Nude

Warning - a year after writing this review, I tried this foundation again and completely changed my mind. The update can be found here.

I learned my lesson and have taken the habit of asking for samples before spending 48€ in a new foundation. And I am really glad I did because I really do not intend to buy this product.
Let me explain.

This foundation claims to be hydrating and give a natural glow and also to look and feel "nude". I was matched as 20, which is a pale neutral shade.

The consistency is liquid without being watery or running. Application is easy if you use a brush, but you need to be very quick because it dries very fast and becomes impossible to blend.
Once applied, it will give you a nice light glow where you need one, which is very nice, but nice stops here.

First of all, it doesn't feel nude at all. I can really feel it on my skin. My cheeks feel very velvety when I touch them but it doesn't feel natural at all.
Secondly, it doesn't look nude. Don't get me wrong, it makes your skin look beautiful and flawless. But this comes from the silicones in it and the result is also everything but natural. You look good but you definitely look like you have foundation on.
Coverage is medium, but in a weird way. It doesn't hide redness completely, it won't cover your dark circles and concealer is required, but on the other hand it's not transparent enough to let your own skin show through (again: silicones).

Third point, it doesn't last very well. I have combination skin and since this product is hydrating, it looked oily on my t-zone after only a couple of hours. An interesting thing to note: hydrating is clearly mentioned on the packaging in English, but it's not mentioned in French, which is kind of misleading I think.
On the misleading side, I have read (and actually heard from some sales assistants) that it is a very "natural" foundation, the word "mineral" might even have been pronounced. Just a check at the ingredients list will prove that this is not a natural product at all. (Not that I care, but I don't want to be given false information.)

In short: it looked good at the beginning, but very artificial, it didn't feel very light and then it didn't last well. I am kind of surprised because I used several Dior foundations in the past and liked all of them, they were very different.

Really not worth the money in my opinion.

October 9, 2009

A quick review: Urban Decay Lip Primer Potion

I love lipstick and lipgloss. But I have 2 major difficulties with them: they're often drying and they don't last very long. (And I don't take the time to reapply through the day, the guys with whom I share the office wouldn't understand!)
Using a lip balm under my lipstick has helped the dryness but not the lasting. So I thought I would give this new primer a try.

Here's how Urban Decay describes it:
Our invisible primer lays a silky foundation for your favorite lipstick or gloss. Color is truer, applies smoother, lasts longer, and will not fade or feather. The easy-glide formula feels velvety-soft, without the drying feeling often associated with long-lasting lip color.

Oh and it also has SPF 15.

Well I don't know if I got a bad one but mine doesn't glide easily, I find it kind of hard to apply. But I can live with that, since it's actually not drying and mostly, it really makes my lipstick last longer - the whole morning I would say.
I does soften the color a bit but if you blot and apply a second layer, you will get good payoff.

I must also say that it doesn't have a scent or a taste at all, which is good, and it doesn't tingle (something I hate about a lot of lip products).

So to me this product is a keeper, and should be part of every lipstick addict's makeup bag. I will definitely repurchase.

October 8, 2009

Top 10 Mac Eyeshadows

I have a lot of Mac Eyeshadows. Like, well, 5 pro palettes of 15 eyeshadows. So, picking 10 out of them isn't that easy, but you're going to see that I can be quite obsessed with certain types of colors! Since I have blue eyes (dark sapphire blue, a bit uncommon) and warm skin (NC15), my favourites have to match both kind of tones.

I don't have pics of them all but Temptalia has released 2 videos showing all the Mac eyeshadows and these are very accurate, so go there to see them in person, images work better than a thousand words!

CONTRAST is a deep blue, and it was my first mac shadow. I love it in the outer corner instead of black, and it goes greatly with neutrals, peaches, bronze, gold... (image: theswatchaholic)

SATIN TAUPE is a must have, everybody needs a taupe color and this one is particular and goes with a lot of other shades.

ALL THAT GLITTERS is one of my favourite lid colors, it's a pretty iridescent peach color.

SKETCH is another color that I love on the outer corner instead of black, and it goes very well with peaches (hint: pair it with all that glitters!)

TEMPTING I am obsessed with that one, I am so glad it's permanent! I absolutely love it paired with blues or other bronze/gold tones. If they ever put it on the goodbye list, I'll have to get 128334834 back-ups!

SABLE: is close to Satin Taupe but warmer, a bit plumy, it's very nice in the crease.

COPPERING: is a gorgeous copper color, fantastic in the crease paired with browns or peaches.

COPPERPLATE is a matte2 greyish clayish color. It's easy to work with it and it's my favourite shadow to pair with crazy colors (think fushia pink) to tone them down and make the wearable for work!

VEX: is one of the shadows I love the most (another one I need to have tons of backups for). It looks a very pale white-grey but it has pink undertones or even green ones, you just need to use a color base under Vex to make them show. So it works with a variety of looks.

VANILLA because it's the highlighter I use the most.

October 7, 2009

My Precious

This is the Nars Pleasures of Paris Palette. I received it yesterday night. Haven't tried it yet but I have always dreamt of a palette that I could take along when I travel and whith which I could do several looks (including night time) without needing any other shadows. Hopefully this will be this one.

Do you have any favourite all-over palette?

In and Out


Dark lips and nails: that's one thing I like about this time of the year, you can wear reds and plums and even blacks.

Hence, Mac Style Black collection, the best they have released in a while.

Having found the right skincare routine and not looking like a grease mess in the afternoon!

Narscosmetics.eu now delivers to 25 european countries and has all the novelties, yay!

Watching YT makeup vids on the iPhone, especially at night in bed when I should sleep, but well I am addicted :-)


Fall weather: humidity that makes my hair messy and ridiculous temperature changes through the day that make me not know what to wear anymore.
Also no daylight anymore when I leave the house for work, which means no LOTD pictures possible (unless someone can explain how I can look good with a pic taken with flash)

The drugstore where I got Gosh, Rimmel and Essence is closing today. Which means no access to those products anymore, I only know where to find Gosh but it's quite far from home. I got a few back-ups of Essence brow set and brow gel, though.

October 6, 2009

Update on the "no moisturizer" project, and the perfect 10+ hours face products.

So it's been a week since I stopped using moisturizer in the morning. And well, that's the best idea I ever had!

My skin is in good condition since I moisturize it very well at night, and the patches than do get dry sometimes have been behaving thanks to that.
In the morning, before applying my makeup, I use:
- a gel around the eyes (Louis Widmer)
- Korres Face Primer on the cheeks (and maybe a bit of moisturizer underneath if the weather is bad and the zone gets dry)
- Shiseido Pureness Cooling Essence on the T zone.

Then I apply my foundation and go on with my look and my life. I can go through my working day without a touch up, or maybe just a little powder on the forehead. And this works nicely with several foundations, even those not meant for oily skin (like my Chanel Pro Lumiere).

So I have been quite satisfied with my new routine, but wait, there's more! I found the perfect long lasting face makeup, one that will look as good at 8PM than when you left the house at 7AM and have been travelling all day (I know, I tried!).
That little miracle solution consists on the products I mentioned above and Illamasqua Cream Foundation. (I use it in 125, which is a pale neutral shade).

I can hardly believe how well that works and it makes me feel like I have the most normal skin in the world!

Of course, you're going to tell me that I should then stick to that routine for ever, but I can't help trying other foundations, and sometimes I like a different type of finish or coverage.
But that's definitely going to be my go-to face makeup when I am on the run (because it's very quickly done, too) have long days, business travels, and times where I need to be perfect without being able to touch up.

If you try the no-makeup experiment, please let me know how it worked for you!

October 5, 2009

Foundation review #6: Chanel Mat Lumiere

I know I told you a while ago that I loved Chanel Pro Lumiere, and this is still true, I love it. But I couldn't resist the appeal of Matte Lumiere and being able to compare both. Plus, the last couple of weeks, my skin has been acting up again. No sun and no fake-tan mean greasy t-zone again, so I thought a mattifying foundation might help.

And well, I really love Mat Lumière, too, so I am kind of rotating between the 2 (and a third one, but I'll get to that later).
Where Pro Lumière is a bit thick on the skin, very covering and very dewy, Mat Lumiere feels lighter, is more on the medium coverage side and has just a tiny bit of dewiness so it doesn't look flat.
The smell is slightly different, but nothing too strong. Both products have a pump, which I consider to be a must, but the textures are very different since Mat is less runny than Pro Lumière. The shade range is quite coherent, I am #20 in both ranges (which is about NC15)
I apply both with my Mac 182 kabuki and it works great.

So, if you can only get one, how would you chose?
Pro Lumiere is probably a better option for people with normal to dry skin, on oily skin it can quickly go from dewy to greasy if you don't powder a couple of times through the day (which is an option but not all of us can be bothered).
Mat Lumiere is better for normal to oily skin and for people who can't stand a dewy finish, but on oily skin you might have to touch up a bit after 6-7 hours, which I don't think is abnormal.

As far as I am concerned, both products are keepers, and my choice depends on my agenda for the day and the kind of look I am going for.

October 1, 2009

The no-moisturizer experiment.

I am blessed (hear my sarcasm) with the most extreme combination skin: my T-zone is oily, particularly my forehead that will look like an oil slick around noon, and my cheeks are so dry that in the winter, they're flakey and painful.

Finding the right routine for that configuration is far from easy, believe me. I saw some improvement during the Summer because of the sun and the fake tan, but I don't want to wear fake tan all year long, especially as I'd have to match my neck, shoulder etc... as well.

I was reading an article on Gossmakeupartist's blog and something caught my eyes: he says that we should only wear one thing under our face makeup: moisturizer, or SPF, or primer. Certainly not all 3. And if you have oily skin you don't need to moisturize.

Wow, nobody ever told that to me. But it's worth giving it a try. So I have started a little experiment : wearing primer or moisturizer on the dry zones, and primer or nothing on the oily zone.
Yesterday was day 1 and although I did touch up with powder in the afternoon, I must say I didn't felt that greasy sensation on the forehead all day. So I am going to keep on experimenting with different combinations and foundations and I'll keep you posted on what works best.