May 28, 2012

Bright Summery Adventures of a Lipstick Bandit

Finally, what looks like Summer has arrived here this past week, after what felt like a 9 months long Fall.
And for us Lipstick Bandits, Summer calls for a completely different repertoire of lip colors!
Although I have been known to wear pretty much any color at any time of the year, these first weeks of Summer where the temperatures get really hot just work better with some bright shades than, say, with a classic red - at least in my opinion.

I know everyone is thinking of coral as the ultimate Summer color - and I do love one good Coral lipstick on a sunny day. But for me, nothing beats a blue based bright pink. Magenta for the win!
So here's one of my colors of choice : Illamasqua Atomic.

So many good things to say about this lipstick: it is so pigmented that you just have to put on one layer of it to stain your lips in the whole day. And it will fade elegantly - so it's definitely a good choice if you're spending a day outside in the sun.
The texture is matte but there are some duochrome bluey reflects in this gorgeous pink color, so it doesn't look flat at all on the lips.
Bonus: it does make your teeth look whiter. 

With this kind of shade, you don't really need much else on the face, blush and mascara will be perfect, liner if you feel in the mood for it (a bright blue would be perfection), or just a wash of shimmery cream shadow.

Seriously, what's not to like? Illamasqua Atomic is definitely one of my favorite Summer brights!

Find out what the other Lipstick Bandits are wearing for Summer!

May 24, 2012

Another Inglot FOTD

I told you here  that I was loving my new Inglot palette a whole lot. I thought I would show you a look I did using the top row now, which is made of greyish bluish tones with a cream color and a cool brown.

I used the cream as an all over base, the slightly silvery light blue on the lid, the brown in the crease and the dark, slightly purple blue (on the far left) as a liner and in the outer V.

Again, all shades are matte, but very pigmented and easy to blend.

I am still absolutely thrilled with this palette and guess what: a new one is on its way to me! This time with warmer shimmery tone for some variety. I will be sure to keep you posted as soon as I get it and have played with it a bit.

May 22, 2012

REN Invisible Pores Detox Mask - review

I got this mask a while ago with my Ren haul, but with all the skin issues experienced these past months, I had not gotten around using it until recently. I don't have major issues with the size of my pores, but pore clogging and blackheads are one of the banes of my existence. If you tell me about a mask that can sort it out and requires nothing on my side but sitting and waiting for 10 mins, I have to try it!

What the brand says.
A detoxifying clay mask designed to reduce the appearance of pore size and leave the skin purified, smooth and toned.

  • Draws out impurities
  • Helps reduce the appearance of pore size and blackheads
Bio actives:
  • Minerals from French clay draw out impurities and excess sebum and eliminate dead skin cells
  • Proteins from Tropical spirulina restructure the skin and encourage cell renewal
  • Essential Fatty Acids from red tea leave the skin soft, smooth and with imperfections less visible
My experience with the product.
The product comes in a very handy solid plastic bottle with an airless pump, which means that it won't dry out once it is open and it stays very hygienic. You get 50ml in the bottle.

Since clay can dry the skin a bit and my cheeks clearly don't need that, I have used this on my T-zone only, mainly on my nose and its sides.
Don't make the mistake of applying too much, as you are encouraged to remove this by rubbing it off your skin - it falls down like dust - so that means you can't remove it until it's completely dry and the more you will put on, the longest it will require to get dry. Plus, the product is not going to be any more effective because you use a lot. So all in all, I hardly use a pump to do my whole t-zone and apply a thin layer. About 10 mins later, I rub it off then rinse with water.

The results.
I never expect miracles from that kind of product, but it does a good job and does not irritate my skin! It definitely makes the skin feel soft and the pores a bit smaller and cleaner.
All in all, it does a good job.

Ingredients list for the science nerds:
Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Water, Kaolin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Glucoside, Spirulina Platensis Powder, Lactic Acid, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, Phenoxyethanol, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Callitris Intratropica Wood Oil, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Limonene, Linalool

Ren Invisible Pores Detox Mask - 50ml - £18 / € 23

May 21, 2012

My new Inglot palette and a FOTD

My lovely friend Nina (whom you saw here) had the opportunity to get an Inglot custom purchase from Poland - where eyeshadows are still 3€ each, talk about value for money! - and gifted me this lovely 10 pan palettes.

Warning, this is going to be as useless as it can be: I don't have the shades numbers (they're at the bottom of the pans but these are practically impossible to remove from the palette) and I haven't done swatches.
What I can say, though, is that all these shades are matte and cool toned, and that they are very pigmented and very easy to blend.

I used the light skin-like shade all over as a base, as it also makes blending the crease easier. Then I used the 2 light shades on the lid, the taupe in the crease, and the dark brown along the lashes and on the outer V. Very simple, very easy, takes five minutes and a good blending brush.

I was initially a bit scared that those cool colors wouldn't work for me but I actually like them a lot and have worn them several days in a row - which rarely happens with me!

Stay tuned for another look using the other row!

May 16, 2012

FOTD with the Illamasqua Neutral Palette from Human Fundamentalism

So I had been eyeing this palette since it launched, but I tried to be reasonable and reminded myself of the thirty billion neutrals I already own.
That was until I did some shopping in London last week-end on my way back from the Pixiwoo makeup school. I stopped by the Illamasqua counter, chit chatted with the makeup artists I had met last year, swatched the palette and... had to have it. (I know, I can't be helped, can I?)

The colors are extremely wearable, with the perfect mix of 3 mattes and one shimmery eyeshadows (that's the balance I tend to use in most looks), a light color that is very close to my skin tone and mostly, very good pigmentation and blending qualities. Definitely the kind of palette that you take along for a week-end away (that's another good excuse I always use when buying palettes, even though I hardly ever go anywhere).

I used it to do a quick smokey eye, using the cream shade as an all-over wash, the gold along the lashes, the brown in the crease and the black as a liner and to darken the outer V. Repeat under the lower lashline and you're ready to go.

Illamasqua Neutral palette, available from Illamasqua online and at counters for £30.

May 15, 2012

A week at Pixiwoo Makeup School - in details.

Pictures of my week were posted here.

So I thought that I would give you more details on what's happening behind the walls of the Pixiwoo makeup school, as some of you might be interested in taking that kind of course.


You don't really need any experience as a makeup artist to follow this course. The group was relatively small -12 people- which means that everyone gets the attention and help that they need no matter how much that is.
In our group, 8 people were beginners and 4 were already working and a bit more advanced. Those people sometimes got different assignments so that they wouldn't lose time practicing techniques they already knew.

If you don't live in the UK, that shouldn't stop you as long as you speak English. Our group was the most international one ever with people coming from France, Italy, Scandinavia, Russia and even the US. Only 4 people were from the UK.

A typical day.

Classes were starting at 10AM and ending between 4 to 5 PM, with about an hour of lunch break.
For every theme we worked on, Sam or Nic gave us a demo and detailed explanation. We could ask as many questions as we wanted.
They also shared stories and experiences from their career and it really makes you realize that a makeup artist can be asked to do a lot of things and should be carrying around a ton of stuff!
The studio is full of books and magazines, so inspiration pics were featured as well.
You will also get information on how to set your prices etc...

Once the demo was done, all students were paired and did practice on each other. We did swap partners several times over the course of the week, so we could practice on different faces, features, skintones etc...

The themes we worked on.

On day 1 we started with the basics and did a no-makeup makeup look, which makes you work on creating a flawless base. 
After that we had a blending exercise that consisted on doing a full face with black and white eyeshadows only. This teaches you not only how to blend (Mac Carbon, you're a b!tch) but also where to put shadows and light - so this is basic knowledge to acquire.

On day 2 we finished the black/white exercise and then did bridal makeup, and as several people in the group were willing to work on that field, we spent some time on it. It also allowed us to discuss skincare and skin prep, which are quite important on that kind of job.

On day 3 we talked about period makeup, starting with the 20's and going through each decade. This is particularly important as right now, the trends are a mish mash of past decades and nothing really innovative. Also, if you plan on working on photoshoots, era's will constantly be referred to when you get a briefing so you need to know them well. We were also given advice on good books to get for inspiration.

On day 4, we had to be creative and did drag makeup. This allows you to go crazy with colors and textures but also to learn how to block brows (that is no piece of cake, I'm telling you) and to use stencils to draw shapes on the face (much more funny and easy).
That was also the first day our practices were timed, previous to that, everything just too us hours :)

Day 5 was more à la carte. We asked about male grooming as there was a man in the group, so he was used as a model for a demo. Then we worked on brows and lipliner as several of us were struggling with those particular techniques, and we ended with a 5 minutes smokey eye demo. We then practiced for the rest of the day.

How did I like this course and would I recommend it?

First of all I need to tell you that Sam and Nic are really lovely, they definitely know their job and they're very helpful and encouraging. The first hour there, you might feel like you're in the computer now, but there's really no reason to be nervous or intimidated. They are real woman working to make a living, just like every one of us, and they are fantastic teachers.

I do believe that this course is great even if you are a complete beginner and you have never applied makeup on anyone. What is helpful, though, is a bit of knowledge about products, as the mass of products available to use during the course can be overwhelming, so if you are well informed, it makes things easier. Mostly Mac products are used - especially for foundations-, but not only. You'll get to try a wide variety of things.

You will see that your confidence and skills improve rapidly, and that after a couple of days, putting your hands on someone's face to apply makeup starts feeling natural and easy, while it can be very intimidating on day 1. However, let us face it: you won't get out of that course knowing it all once and for all. I would even say that you will only realize then how much practice you still need and how much you can still learn and improve. This course is just a starting point, it will give you the basics and the technique, then practice will make it perfect.

Personally, I wouldn't go and do a photoshoot on my own today. I would, however, probably be able to assist a senior makeup artist on a shoot, as I do understand the needs and expectations. I also feel comfortable enough to do a bride or a "special occasion" makeup like a prom makeup. Unless the client has extremely problematic skin, doing a normal wearable look (by opposition to a fashion/editorial one) seems quite easy once you've done a whole drag face :)

I also now do my own face in a different way. I used to use my hands for my base, for example, and now realize I like pouring products on the back of my hand and using a brush. Mixing to concealers to get a better color has become easy too, where I used to feel compelled of using the stuff as it was in the bottle. I  can also do a smokey eye in a few minutes now :)
But I would insist that practicing on your own face is not going to be enough and that after your course, you'll need to practice as much as you can on other people - friends, sisters, family... every occasion is a good one! 

Let me know in the comments if there are any questions you'd like me to answer!

EDIT : For any information on upcoming courses, please follow Stacey on Twitter @PixiwooHQ or like the Pixiwoo Course Facebook page. As far as I know, 2012 courses are fully booked but 2013 dates should be announced soon. Be quick if you want to get a spot!

May 13, 2012

A week at Pixiwoo Makeup School - Instagram Style

A detailed roundup of my week can be found here.

An actual written post with an in-depth description of the course will follow, if you're interested in what's happening there :)

Norwich, UK

Where the magic happens.

Demo on my friend Lambda who came there with me: 20's on one side, 50's Hepburn on the other

Drag Day - this is what I did on Lambda
And that's what she did on me :)
Nina, my other friend who came along, with a gorgeous smokey eye
Nic doing a brow demo on me - for once, having crappy brows was a good thing :)

A bridal look I did

Bridal look done on me
Working in the studio - Sam is in the background on the right

Smokey eye look done on me by Lambda

Smokey eye look I did on Lambda
Wagamama, best place in the world
We did a wee bit of shopping in London on our way back

May 10, 2012

Regrets - Products I tried that weren't worth it.

The good thing with travelling is that you're getting to try new things that you don't find at home, or to buy stuff for your journey that you don't normally use. Some are good surprises and some not so much...

Essie No Chip Ahead Top Coat

Before leaving I had planned on getting a shellac manicure, so I wouldn't have to worry about my nails for a couple of weeks while I was travelling. Then things didn't go according to plan, I didn't get my manicure, but I thought I could try that Essie top coat that promises 10 days with no shipping. Of course, when it sounds too good to be true, it often is.

I used this on top of Illamasqua Bacterium, which is probably my nail polish that lasts the longest with no base or top coat, about 5 days I would say. Bummer, after 48 hours there were signs of shipping and after 4 days my nails were a total disaster. Bottom line: this top coat is totally useless in terms of longevity.

Boots cucumber makeup up remover wipes.

When you're doing a makeup course, unless your school hires models, you are going to have makeup put on your face and removed several times over the course of a day, so other students can practice on you. We have those wipes available to remove our makeup and while they're quick and easy to use and very portable, I really don't recommend them. First of all, I find them quite harsh on the skin (they're supposed to be for sensitive skin), and have thought so from the first time I've used them, so I know it's not me getting sensitive because of the multiple uses. Secondly, they don't fully remove makeup. If I use a cotton and Bioderma right after I am done removing my makeup with a wipe, I will still have lots of makeup coming off onto the cotton. I definitely would not use this as my main makeup remover unless I use a proper cleanser afterwards!

Botanics Hydrating Shampoo (from Boots)

I forgot to bring shampoo and I have dry ends, I thought this would be a good one to try. Unfortunately it just made my hair flat, not very manageable, and feeling a bit gooey - as if I had not rinsed off thoroughly. Not the best feeling. After a few uses, I gave up and switched to an Aussie Shampoo which I'm liking much better.


May 8, 2012

What I am doing right now

I am taking a makeup class at the Pixiwoo headquarters :)

We did no-makeup makeup yesterday, then switched over blending. That was a tough exercise as we actually had to contour the whole face with black eyeshadows and highlight with white, and that can be quite messy! Today we have done bridal and I enjoyed it a lot. Well the only thing I don't enjoy, actually, is having to remove makeup from my face several times a day to have a different one put on (who would have thought, haha).

I will definitely post more pics when I'll be back, but right now I'm blogging from an iPad on a connection that is not really reliable - if I get better at using those unusual (for me) tools, you might get updates earlier.

May 5, 2012

While I am away

As I'm writing this I'm in the middle of the packing process that comes before any vacation. As per usual, I'm totally hysterical because I feel like I need to take along everything I possess (mainly clothes and beauty products, of course) and there is no way I can make that all enter in one suitcase. I mean, I could pack 2 suitcases, but then I'd have to carry them around and I already know I wouldn't enjoy that.

I will be posting during my vacation, as my vacation is completely makeup related (now that's some teasing) but as you're never fully sure that the internet will be reliable where you stay, just in case I wouldn't be able to post for the coming week, I'm leaving you with a few good videos/YouTubers you should check out while I'm away.

Essie Button is definitely more skilled than me when it comes to packing.

Glitterdolz7 creates a fun and easy Summer look, hopefully the sun will join us soon

The pretty and lovely SailorJennie shares her top 10 blushers

Ruth Crilly aka aModelRecommends shares the secrets of glowy model skin

I loved this Emma Stone inspired look created by Katie Hughes for Fashionistacosmetics

Hope you enjoy!

May 3, 2012

Foundation Review # 35 : Estee Lauder Invisible Fluid

I wasn't really planning on getting this one, because I had heard a lot it was very similar to Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua. More on that comparison later, but it turned out my skin cannot tolerate the alcohol in VA anymore, and as sad as I was to have to leave my Holy Grail foundation behind, I was glad there was I supposed dupe I could get my hands on - especially as Invisible Fluid does NOT contain alcohol.

What the Brand says.

See no makeup. Feel no makeup™.
First-ever IntuiTone™ technology guarantees your true-to-life shade and keeps it real in every light.
Fresh, flawless, radiant. Ultra light, ultra breathable, oil-free.
It will change how you feel about makeup forever.
In long-lasting shades for every beautiful skintone.
Weightless, buildable coverage. Air-infused with every shake.
Blends so perfectly for the look and feel of bare skin-only better.
Lasts all day. Controls excess oil. Won't clog pores.

Shake well with each application for fresh, perfectly blended makeup.

FORMULA FACTS : Oil-free, Dermatologist-tested, Ophthalmologist-tested, Fragrance-free, Non-acnegenic.
The PackagingThe product comes in an opaque plastic bottle, which is a very good option if you're a/ clumsy or b/ travelling a lot - but it's also very important as you have to shake the product really well, and that wouldn't be easy with a glass bottle.

The bottle contains 30 ml.

My experience with the product.
Finding the right shade can be difficult, so I definitely recommend doing it in store. For this product, Lauder has developed a range of shades which lean either cool, warmer or more neutral. I think this is very good to have those options, unfortunately most countries don't cary all the shades, and so you might have to compromize between depth and undertone.
I got the lightest shade available in my country, 1CN1, which is supposed to lean quite neutral but is tad bit peachy in my opinion - nothing I can't work with, though.
EDIT : after double checking in Summer daylight, I have to stop fooling myself and admit that this is a bit too dark. It actually looks perfect when I wear a light layer of fake-tan. Not a perfect match, then, although as I said I work with it (ears and neck need to be done!)

No kidding, you really have to shake this a lot, as it is the case with all water based foundations. If you don't, you'll get a liquidy greasy separating version of the product that won't be very pleasant to use. You always need to shake much more when starting a new bottle (same thing happened with Chanel VA), then it gets easier. The formula is liquid, not very runny but not very creamy either.
With this kind of bottle and nose, it's very easy to control how much you pour out. I don't find you need much product to cover your whole face, but I have always applied this with hands, as I heard -and feel- it is what works best with this kind of formulation.
The coverage is light but buildable to medium, so you will get rid of little imperfections but might need concealer for undereye circles and redness or discoloration.

Wearing Invisible Fluid, with a bit of Studio Sculpt NC15 concealer under the eyes and around the nose.

The finish is satin, not completely matte but not very dewy/luminous at all in my opinion. I can see why this would work for oilier skins, indeed. But I haven't experienced any issues with this being patch on dryer areas (which I had moisturized, though). If you want a more luminous finish, you'll have to spritz some Fix + or similar product to add some dewyness.

Not wearing any highlighter, so the light glow comes from the product.

This lasts very well on me through a working day, which is the ultimate test in my opinion.

My conclusion, and a little comparison with Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua.

If I am totally honest, I would still say that I like VA just a little bit better, for 2 main reasons: the formula is a tad bit more gel like, which I enjoyed (but it's fragranced, and that's not suitable for everybody) and the finish was a bit more luminous, which is something I enjoy.
But on the other hand, I think that the Lauder formula is more suitable for every skintype and that not adding fragrance and not using alcohol is definitely a better choice. I also find that, even though the finish is less glowy, in the end Invisible Fluid lasts a bit longer on me and that's always a good thing. It stills look like a second layer of skin and that's what you're looking for when using this type of product.

Color wise, it's very weird: Invisible Fluid 1CN1 looks much darker than Chanel VA in B10 when swatched side by side, BUT, the Chanel foundation oxidizes and get much darker while Invisible Fluid pretty much stays the same once applied.

So for me, from now on, given the impossibility to wear VA anymore, Invisible Fluid is going to be my everyday foundation (alternating with my Nars Tinted Moisturizer that I love, but that covers less than Invisible Fluid). I would definitely recommend it to anyone who tried Chanel VA and didn't get along well with the formula, or had issues with oxidation.

May 1, 2012

April Favorites

My little Blue Dragon, which is a gift from a good friend, is a favorite of the month too.

I'm having a tough time finding favorites for you this month, because I was unwell for the major part of April and didn't wear much makeup at all. And when I did, I mostly used reliable stuff I have mentioned millions of time already in favorites posts. Also, I've been working on improving my skin, which was in a miserable state, with my SOS Routine I told you about, which means I haven't been trying any fancy new products.
So do excuse the very short list of products.

Nars Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer.
This is love. Quite frankly, it's all I want to use at the moment and I'll only switch to foundation if I know Il'l have a particularly long day and want hardcore longevity and coverage. I genuinely think this is the most perfect TM I've ever used, at least for my skin and needs, and I just can't be without it.

Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentré.
I have to mention this again: this is a moisturizer that doesn't claim to do any miracle but that will just do its job and moisturize. I currently use it at night time, and sometimes in the day too on the most dry areas of my face.

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum.
This is the first "active" ingredient I've been re-introducing in my skincare routine since the big crisis. I use this at night under the Embryolisse, and I find that my skin is reacting pretty well to it, like it has always been, so I hope I can keep on using it and it works its magic for me again.

Revlon Lip Butters.
I need to write more on these but I got three of them in a swap with a lovely lady from the UK (not much Revlon to be found here) and I am enjoying them a lot, the pigmentation is amazing!

What can I say, when you can't leave the couch for days, you need some good TV to come to the rescue! I'm very excited that there will be a short 5th season!

And also ... day trips with good friends that involve good food and good shopping, little presents from BFF's that include little dragons, breaks from work as you need them sometimes, and upcoming vacations!