Sunday, August 30, 2015

hakuho-do + SEPHORA PRO Ougi brush review & photos.

Another Japanese brush review for you today - this time one from the hakuho-do + Sephora Pro collaboration. Sephora collaborated with hakuho-do on a limited edition face brush collection, all hand crafted by the folks at hakuho-do using synthetic brush fibres ($50.00 CA, currently available in store and online.)

Today I have the Ougi brush for review. The Ougi is described as a "fan cheek brush" - I think it's better described as a medium sized, squared shaped paddle brush with rounded edges. The brush head is approximately 1.25" long and 1.25" wide at the tip. When viewed from the side, the brush has a sloped profile with one edge being more angled than the other. 

The bristles are soft on the skin, densely packed and firm. Unlike other synthetic brushes which have extremely smooth bristles, the Ougi's bristles which are tapered like natural hair, have a bit a texture to them, which allows them to pick up product easily.

I found the Ougi worked very well with powder blusher and highlighter. Because it is a denser brush with a tighter shape, it tends to deposit a lot of colour, so a light hand with this brush is needed if you are using a highly pigmented blush. I apply my blush by stippling first to evenly distribute the product and then blending using sweeping circular motions, and that technique works very well with this brush. If you tend to apply blush by sweeping right off the bat, this may not be the brush for you (when using highly pigmented blushes.)

Because of the smaller size and almost wedge shape of this brush, it is also an excellent brush for precision application of contour and highlighter. The brush itself is well constructed, with a medium length red lacquered wooden handle which has a nice weight and feel in the hand. The ferrule is a stylish matte black and the brush head itself feels neat and tightly packed.

Overall I think this is a very solid brush - as a person who 100% prefers natural hair brushes, I was pleasantly surprized by the shape, cut, feel and versatility of this brush. I think this is a great brush for precision blush, highlighter and contour application. People who are more interested in really light, diffuse applications of blush may not find this brush the easiest to work with. An added bonus (though not one that effected my review of this brush) is the beautiful and stately packaging on this product - this would make a perfect and impressive gift for any make-up brush lover.

Grade: A

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Twisted Romance FOTD

Twisted romance, eh? Yup, I wanted a fun and appropriate name for this impromptu look I did. It's partly inspired by my hair and partly by the makeup look. It's soft and sweet but with a touch of edge and rawr. Kind of like me! :P

First up, let's take about hair. I recently got my hands on this amazing hair curling device - the Babyliss Pro Nano Titanium MiraCurl Professional Curl Machine. It's not a flat iron or a curling iron, which are what I've always used in the past to add curl to my hair. This is a slightly intimidating gadget that sucks your hair into it, applies heat and ta-da! glorious curls. I'm not great at styling hair, and while I can manage well enough with my day-to-day hair, I wish I could do more with it. Enter the MiraCurl Curl Machine. Wowza y'all, this thing makes it easy to curl your hair! 

While I've only used it twice (as pictured here), and I still need to figure out how to create the best curly-look possible for me, I'm in awe of how perfectly it works. 

The MiraCurl has three buttons: one for setting the temperature your hair will be curled at (375 F, 410 F and 450 F). It's recommended that for fine hair you use the 375 F setting, and for coarse hair, you use the 450 F setting, but you can set it however you prefer.

The second button allows you to set the time (8 seconds, 10 seconds or 12 seconds). This is how long your hair will be curled for and you can alter this depending on your hair type (finer, damaged hair will want to use the shorter time) and the curl type (shorter for looser curls, longer for tighter curls). You also have the option of turning the timer off completely and curling your hair for as long or short a time period as you like.

The third button lets you choose the direction of the curl (right, left and alternate). You can choose to curl your hair on one side of your head all one direction and on the other side, all the other direction, which is how your hair grows and curls. The right setting starts the curl to the right, clockwise. The left setting starts the curl to the left, counter clockwise. The alternate setting alternates between the two - one left, one right, etc. 

With so many choices, you can really just let the MiraCurl do all the work. All you need to do is start with dry hair and apply a heat protectant spray (I like the TRESemmé Thermal Creations Heat Spray - mentioned in this review of the Rusk Thermal Str8 Protective Flat Iron Spray). Take a small section of hair - Babyliss recommends no more than 1 inch - and make sure it is snag and tangle-free. With the MiraCurl opening facing your head, open the "tongs" and lay your hair through. Close the "tongs" and the MiraCurl will suck your hair into it, which is a little freaky at first, but you get used to it. The MiraCurl will beep in even sequence until the time you've set it to is reached when it will beep four times. Then you open the "tongs" and release your hair. Marvel at the perfection of the curl and how easy it was to achieve. Repeat.

All I did to achieve the look in these photos was apply my heat protecter spray and some some mousse for volume. I separated my hair horizontally at my ears and pinned the top half at the top of my head (this helps with volume as well), I started at the front and worked around to the back all the way to the other side, creating curls. It gets a little tricky to maneuver the MiraCurl at the back of my head so the curl chamber opening is facing my head and the top of the MiraCurl is facing up, and the MiraCurl does get heavy after you use it for awhile. I repeated the process for the top half of my hair and honestly, got a little lazy towards the end, because it does take a longer time to style than I'm used to and it's easy to miss pieces of hair so I had to go around to catch them all. But this will improve with practice. And I quite like imperfect hairstyles anyway. 

The curls the MiraCurl creates are so lovely. They're tough suckers, glossy and strong. They hold their shape so well, better than any I've been able to create with my flat iron or a curling iron, and without hairspray. In these photos, I combed gently through them with my hands to create a messy, more natural look and to add volume. I then applied my favourite Jonathan Silky Dirt Shine and Define Cream for some definition, frizz-killer and shine. If I was wearing this look out, I would add hairspray, but from my limited experience using the MiraCurl, these curls hold up very, very well without it. Even waking up the next morning, I had intact curls. I am hella impressed with the MiraCurl!

And now for the makeup. This is a look I put together for my review of the Makeup Revolution Flawless Ultra Eyeshadows Palette and I liked how it looked all together with the hair so I decided to do full photos and do a separate post!

For my base, I'm wearing MAC Face + Body Foundation applied with my hands. I've got a bit of Make Up For Ever's Full Cover Concealer on areas that need more coverage and MAC's Pro Longwear Conceler under my eyes. MAC Prep + Prime Powder is dusted over my t-zone, apart from the very center of my nose, and on areas where there's concealer to set. 

I used Anastasia DipBrow in Auburn with a tiny angle brush to add colour and definition to my eyebrows. My blush is Benefit Rockateur (I'm mad for this blush!) applied softly high up on my cheekbones. It's a beautiful soft rose-gold shade with a touch of shimmer that I end up reaching for more often than not. It's such a sultry, sophisticated and easy shade to wear.

For my eyes, I used eyeshadows from the Makeup Revolution Flawless Ultra Eyeshadows Palette. On my eyelids, I applied Highlite, a shimmery silver-rose shade with a large eyeshadow brush from lashline just up to the crease. With a smaller eyeshadow brush, I smudged some Cheerless, a dark purple frost shade, starting at the outer corner and up into my crease. To add further definition to my crease, I applied Darkest Shimmer, a shimmery dark red-brown with a crease brush and then I blended with a fluffy crease brush to soften all the shades and blend them together.

And then comes the real colour, a flash of red when I blink. I used Red Night, a shimmery cranberry with a smallish eyeshadow brush starting from about the center of my lashline and working it up in a diagonal line towards my crease, following the line I did with Cheerless. I went back with a bit of Highlite to soften the line. For my lashline definition, I used a combination of Green Stars, a blackened green and Burgundy Nights, a shimmery burgundy and an angle brush to smudge along my lashline. 

For my lower lashline, I used a thin, flat brush to smoke a bit of Universal, a shimmery dusty rose, softly along along my lashes for some definition. Finally I popped a touch of Highlite into my inner eye, which adds a glow and makes the eyes look larger and more open. 

I curled my lashes with my She Uemura eyelash curler, and applied Benefit Bad Gal mascara to both top and bottom lashes. Finally, I applied a Becca Lipstick (an old one that the label has worn off of so I don't remember the name and they don't make anymore!) for a soft, nude effect.

So that's my soft, shimmery, twisted romantic look. What do you think?


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Makeup Revolution Flawless Ultra Eyeshadows Palette Review, Photos and Swatches

Here is the last of my Makeup Revolution palette haul from my trip to Scotland in the spring. You can see my reviews of the Iconic 2 and Iconic 3 palettes here:

This is the Makeup Revolution Flawless Ultra Eyeshadows palette, which contains 32 (32!) shades. It cost me £8, a little more than the Iconic palettes.

The palette comes in a shiny rose-gold box, and the palette itself is a glossy black with the brand name on top in gold. It feels much more expensive than it is, though the palette will certainly get scratched and grubby. You can already see the fingerprints on it in the photo above!

On the other side of the lid is a massive mirror. MASSIVE, I tell you. It was hard to photograph this palette for you without the reflection of my camera flash in the mirror!

Unlike the Iconic 2 and 3 palettes (dupes for the Urban Decay Naked 2 and 3 Palettes), the eyeshadows in the Flawless palette have names, but they're on a clear plastic sheet that sits on top. If you don't care about the names, you can toss this away. But for the sake of this post, I'm glad to have names for them!

Inside of the Makeup Revolution Flawless Palette with name sheet overlay.
There's a good mix of mattes, satins and shimmers in this palette, though there are more shimmery shades than matte. I've seen this palette described as neutral, and for the most part this is true but in the makeup world the word neutral is often used to mean "natural", and that is definitely not the case here. 

Still, I think those with warm or cool undertones to their skin would be able to use all of the colours in this palette, though some shades might be better suited to cooler undertones than warm. For the price and the number of shades you get, this isn't really an issue. Who cares if there's a few shades you might not like as much as the others?

So let's get to swatching. I did the swatching logically, row by row, from left to right. The shades range from lightest in the top left corner of the palette to rich and dark in the bottom right corner.

Here is Row One, left to right. 

L-R: Paper, Glow, Buff, Highlite, Angel, Unlimited, Brew and Silver Smoke

And then we'll go two by two, from left to right:

Paper and Glow
Paper is matte and a beige-yellow shade that makes me think of aged paper. It's barely noticeable on my skin in the photos. It's on the drier side, which I found for all the mattes in this palette and it takes some work to build the pigment. 

Glow is a softly shimmery, champagne-gold shade. The texture is creamy and it's also barely there on my skin in the swatch. This would be a good, though subtle highlight colour for the brow bone. 

Buff and Highlite
Buff is a softly shimmery, glowy brown-taupe shade, with creamy texture and soft pigmentation. This is a pretty, natural shade that would work well as a soft lid colour.

Highlite is a shimmery silvery-rose shade, with a lot of glow to it. It's a beautiful creamy eyeshadow.

Angel and Unlimited

Angel is very similar to Highlite, but with gold, not rose. Excellent creamy texture and frosty glow. 

Unlimited is a light bronze-copper with soft shimmer, good pigmentation and creamy texture.

Brew and Silver Smoke
Brew makes me think of brewed rooibos tea but with shimmer. Its pigmentation is very good and the texture is creamy, without any fall-out. 

Silver Smoke is a lovely silvery taupe. In the photo above, you can see the almost duochrome effect with the warmer brown showing through at the top and bottom and the dark silver in the middle. The texture of this is creamy and the pigmentation is solid. This is one of my favourite shades in the palette.

Onto Row Two!

L-R: Almost There, Uncover, Barely Pink, Lowlite, Golden Night, Gold Digger, Cheerless and Blue Stars

Almost There and Uncover
Almost There is a warm, matte soft brown. This would be good on fair skin as a crease shade, or as an all-over shade on darker skin. The texture of this matte wasn't as dry as the others, though the pigmentation was a bit lacking.

Uncover is a gorgeous shade, a softly shimmery rosy nude. The texture is somewhere between dry and creamy and the pigmentation is low, though I think it'll work well as a subtle highlight or all-over lid shade.

Barely Pink and Lowlight
Barely Pink is the amped-up older sister of Uncover. It's pinker and the pigmentation is better than Uncover. The texture is creamy and it's got a soft glow to it. 

Lowlight is similiar to Brew (in Row One), but a little lighter in colour. It's a warm, shimmery medium brown with just OK pigmentation and just OK texture.
Golden Night and Gold Digger
Golden Night is highly shimmery, rich gold that nicely straddles the line between warm and cool. It's one of the palette's frost shades so the texture is very creamy and the pigmentation is solid.

Gold Digger is slightly warmer than Golden Night, with a touch of orange. It's softly shimmery with good texture and good pigmentation.

Cheerless and Blue Stars

Cheerless is a deep purple frost, with metallic shimmer. It's got a touch of dark brown to it, and the texture and pigment are both decent.

Blue Stars is one of the worst performing shadows in this palette. It's a deep blue, with lighter flecks of metallic blue running through it. Colour-wise it reminds me of MAC's Contrast eyeshadow, but performance-wise it's dusty, dry and difficult to build. 

Here's Row Three.

L-R: Smudge, Shimmer Heart, Universal, Copper Shimmer, Medal, Darkest Shimmer, Tarnish and Black Tie

Smudge and Shimmer Heart
Smudge is lovely, matte medium golden-brown. This is one of the better performing matte shadows in the palette and would make a good crease shade. It's got the best texture of all the matte shades in this palette and its pigmentation is pretty good.

Shimmer Heart is a softly shimmery medium pink. The texture is creamy and the pigmentation is good. 

Universal and Copper Shimmer

Universal is a lovely, softly shimmery dusty rose, with just OK pigmentation but a creamy texture. 

Copper Shimmer is gorgeous. It's exactly as you'd expect from the name - a shimmery copper. Like rust. Beautiful pigmentation and texture.

Medal and Darkest Shimmer
Medal is as if Copper Shimmer had some orange-gold added to it. Beautifully shimmery, with good pigmentation and creamy texture.

Darkest Shimmer is softly shimmery dark red-brown. Russet would be a good word for it. Texture is slightly on the chalky side and some effort is required to build up the pigment on it.

Tarnish and Black Tie

Tarnish is a beautiful shade - a glowy taupe, but the quality of the shadow does not match, sadly. It's on the powdery side and needs a few layers to build up the pigment.

Black Tie is, like Blue Stars, disappointing. It's black with some silver shimmer, but it's quite dry and chalky in texture and there is fall out. Messy to use.

And finally, here is Row Four.

L-R: Pure Chocolate, Raw, Red Night, Molton Chocolate, Burgundy Nights, Green Stars, Cafe Noir and Night

Pure Chocolate and Raw

Pure Chocolate is a beautiful colour - a matte warm dark brown, but it's texture is dry and therefore the pigment is disappointing. It's usable, but you need to work to get much colour out of it. 

Raw is is my least favourite in the palette. It's a matte beige but it barely shows up at all, even in layers, and it's dry and chalky. One of, if not the poorest in the palette.

Red Night and Molton Chocolate

Red Night is a beautiful, shimmery cranberry with slightly dry texture and OK pigmentation. 

Molton Chocolate is one of the best eyeshadows in the palette. A dark, rich brown with soft shimmery glow to it. There's a bit of fall-out in using this eyeshadow, but it is easy to apply and blend otherwise. 

Burgundy Nights and Green Stars

Burgundy Nights is similar to Red Night but more of a burgundy. It's satiny and shimmery, but slightly on the dry side when it comes to texture. Pigmentation is only alright.

Green Stars isn't really green. It looks like a shimmery antique green in the palette, but once swatched, it's a black with a bit of green shimmer. And I mean a bit. It's pretty dry and difficult to build in pigmentation. 

Cafe Noir and Night

Cafe Noir is another shade that promises more than it delivers. It's slightly shimmery and a grey-brown with a hint of green to it. It's dusty and dry and the pigmentation is only so-so.

Night is a matte black and as such, it's chalky. There isn't much pigment to it at all, and is ultimately one of more disappointing shadows in the palette.


My overall thoughts of this palette is that it's a good selection of shades and textures. The shades with shimmer have better pigment and texture than the matte shades. There are some shades in it that I won't use because they're just not great quality and I have good quality eyeshadows in my collection that will work better. 

One negative to this palette is that there are a few shades that are pretty similar to others. While there aren't any dupes, some, such as Black Tie and Blue Stars, Angel and Highlite and Red Night and Burgundy Nights, are close enough you'll want to avoid using them in the same look. 

With that being said, it is a versatile palette. You can get dozens and dozens of looks out of it, and for £8, that's excellent value. I do wish there were more matte shades, but judging by the less-than-great quality of the matte shades there are in it already, I'd be disappointed if there were more.

To close this review, here are a few looks I've created using it. 

Look One and Look Two are more for daytime works. They're pretty similar, but using slightly different colour palettes. 

Look One: Shimmer Heart, Smudge, Blue Stars and Silver Smoke

I applied Shimmer Heart all over my eyelid, and worked Smudge lightly through the outer half of my crease, as well as along the outer half of my lower lashline. 

I smudged Blue Stars along my upper lashline but only the outer third. Finally, I tapped a small touch of Silver Smoke to the outer corner of my eyelids. 

Look Two: Shimmer Heart, Angel, Darkest Shimmer, Pure Chocolate, Soft Glow and Smudge

As in Look One, I applied Shimmer Heart to my eyelid, and tapped Angel to the very centre of my eyelids for extra shimmer oomph. With an angle brush I worked Darkest Shimmer from the outer third of my upper lashline and into my crease. I then blended.

I then smudged Pure Chocolate along my upper lashline, and a combination of Pure Chocolate and Smudge lightly along the outer third of my lower lashline. Finally I dabbed a touch of Soft Glow to inner corner of my eye. 

Look Three is more dramatic and would work well for a night out. It's also soft and romantic feeling. 

Look Three: Highlite, Cheerless, Red Night, Darkest Shimmer, Green Stars, Burgundy Nights and Universal

I applied Highlite fairly heavily to my eyelid and then Cheerless from the outer corner of my eye up through my crease. I then blended with a fluffy brush. I worked Darkest Shimmer through my crease and high up to my browbone. 

I wanted a pop of colour, so I applied Red Night from about the center of my lashline up to my crease in a diagonal line. I smudged a combination of Green Stars and Burgundy Nights along my lashline, focusing on the outer third. For my undereye, I worked Universal all along the lower lashline, quite heavily. Finally I dabbed a touch of Highlite to the inner corner of my eyes.

Grade: B

Monday, August 24, 2015

Chikuhodo x Beautylish Sakura Collection Review and Photos

Despite my love of well crafted make-up brushes, I've only recently began exploring the world of Japanese fude (brushes). I own only one brand name Hakuhodo, kindly picked up for me by Catherine at IMATS Toronto last year, though in reality probably several of my other brand brushes (Wayne Goss, Shu Uemura, SUQUU etc.) are made by the same company. As most beauty junkies know, Japanese brands aren't the easiest to access, so when I heard about the Chikuhodo x Beautylish collaboration my interest was piqued.

The Chikuhodo x Beautylish Sakura brush set collaboration ($215.00 US, LE) was highly anticipated in part because Beautylish promised that customers would be "pleasantly surprised" by the price point. Considering that similar Makie (large) powder brushes from Chikuhodo retail for $127.00 - 178.00 US for one brush, the price tag of $215.00 US for a set of five, including a large powder brush, seems like a killer deal!

The brushes themselves are beautiful, and feature gold, silver and rose gold sakura blossoms on the handle. The set comes in a lovely box, which is itself packaged in a Beautylish zippered cloth bag. Inside the box is a gunmetal plastic brush roll with the brushes inside.

Chikuhodo x Beautylish Sakura Collection

The brushes themselves have short, travel sized handles. All of the brushes are hand crafted from grey squirrel hair with the exception of the large powder brush which contains a mixture of goat and grey squirrel and the detail (pencil) brush which is made out of fitch and horse hair.

I've been using these brushes for over a month and so can share my long-term user thoughts.

The Powder Brush is in my opinion, the star of the set and the most unique brush in terms of shape. It has a large head (about 2" at the widest point, 2" long) and is cut on a sloping rounded angle on one side. It is extremely soft and fluffy, though the brush head is flat (not round like most powder brushes.) Though I usually prefer smaller headed powder brushes such as Charlotte Tilbury's Powder & Sculpt Brush, the angle on this brush makes it possible to get into small spaces such as the under eye area. This brush really feels and performs like a luxury brush! Grade: A+

The Cheek Brush is the other superstar of the set. Again, it has a flat shape and a rounded "cats paw" shaped end. This brush is incredibly soft yet manages to deliver a high concentration of product if needed. Temptalia in her review of this set compared this brush favourably to the famed, expensive and very hard to get SUQUU Cheek brush, and I agree with her comparison. The two major ways this brush differs from the SUQUU brush is that this brush is flatter in shape and denser. In terms of application they both do a superb job. If you like to wear blush in a very light, diffuse way, a grey squirrel brush like this is for you. Grade: A+

The Shader Brush is a medium sized flat shader with a rounded head and is very similar to many flat shaders on the market. It is good for both patting on shadow as well as for lining and crease cutting when turned on its edge. It's very soft and performs well. Grade: A

The Crease Brush was the wildcard of the set because of it's unusual shape. A lot of beauty bloggers expressed scepticism about how well this brush would perform because the tip is extremely tapered and pointy. It is definitely uniquely shaped (I have nothing like it in my brush collection) and it does require some practice. The brush is very feathery which makes the head extremely flexible, this in turn means that to use it effectively you need to be delicate. On my shallow creased lids, I find this brush surprisingly effective at doing a precise cut crease. If you have a light touch, this brush will work for you - conversely if you use your brushes very vigorously I don't think you will find this suitable. I would be very interested to hear how this brush performs on those with very deep eye sockets. Grade: B+

The Detail Brush is a cross between a lip brush and a pencil brush. It is small, flat and very pointed and has the stiffest hairs of all the brushes. The brush is designed for spot concealing, lipstick and/or eye liner application. Again, a delicate touch is needed with this brush as the stiffness of the bristles can start to feel scratchy if pressed too hard against the skin. I used this brush to apply shadow to the lower lash line and did not experience any irritation. I plan to play with this brush further to see how well it performs with concealer and gel eye liner. Grade: B/B+

The Chikuhodo x Beautylish Sakura Collection is currently sold out, though due to it's success I imagine Beautylish will do another collaboration in the near future. If you are interested in Japanese fude, then a set like this is a great introduction to these brushes. Overall a solid luxury purchase.

Overall Grade: A