Monday, July 21, 2014

Sisterhood of the Traveling Palette Series: SUQQU Blend Color Eye Shadow in Mitsucha (The Mr. Brown Edition)

I am pleased to bring you another edition of the Traveling Palette Series!  Liz  (my sister from another mister) from So Lonely in Gorgeous pondered if one palette can flatter, amuse and delight a multitude of faces.  We embellished our faces with Addiction Departure the last time (me- here, Liz - here!) and this time we take on one of SUQQU's recent Spring permanent releases, Mitsucha.  Take a look at how a skillful application looks on beautiful Liz here.  When you come back, you can take a look at mediocrity on a Belly.

I've featured this palette several times before, but today, I meditate on the theme of BROWN.
Mr. Brown is very brown, is he not?  Brown suit, brown complexion, brown cow.  Moo.  Today I am inspired to go all out brown in a day brown version and then a night brown version featuring the golden brown tones of Mitsucha.

Day Look:

These are the products I used, until I realized that the liquid lipstick wasn't the brown I was looking for and ended up swapping that out for SUQQU Creamy Glow lipstick in Hiwada (swatches here).
In addition to a meditative slathering on the theme of brown, I also wanted to take the opportunity to carve out more depth and dimension on my eyes.
My base is a mixture of the Rouge Bunny Rouge liquid bronzer and the Addiction Tinted Skin Protector.  It imparts a very natural warm and slightly sheeny glow to the skin.  A light blush application of Rouge Bunny Rouge Delicata barely adds a nude color to the cheek bones.  SUQQU Creamy Glow lipstick in Hiwada is a very subtle yellow-toned peachy nude for unobtrusive shine and tonal balance.  Eyebrows are barely swept through with Shu Uemura H9 brow pencil in Seal Brown.
I was mentioning brown with dimension before.  For the eyes, I ran the enclosed fluffy brush in the SUQQU brow palette loaded up with the light brown contour shade (right side of the brow palette) from the side of the bridge of my nose and swept up in a slight curve to underneath the first 1/3 of my brows.  It's gives a slight illusion of a deeper, less flat curvature of my eyes.

I used the darkest brown shade with a pointy pencil brush (Chikuhodo Z10) to lightly define my socket line.  I also used the same dark shade to define around my upper and lower lash line.  I mixed the copper & gold shades and used that to color the upper lid and also lightly on my lower lash line.  I blend out the edges with the pearly base shade from the palette with a fluffy blending brush.  I tight lined for additional subtle definition to the upper lashes.
It's a low contrast look, that is still defined with enough angular depth around the eyes to make it interesting.  I don't know, it's certainly daytime wearable, but it look a lot of time doing the eyes considering how simple the whole thing looked.  If I did my face like this for work every day, I would be late all the time.

All right, a Night Look:

Brown is my story and I am sticking with it.  My night look is similar in concept to the day one above, but used more intense colors in the lips and cheeks as well as amping on the colors selected for the eyes.

For night time, I swapped out the lipstick with the intense brown red SUQQU Creamy Glow Ichijiku.  And I added in the Tom Ford Ravish blush, as well as the Tom Ford Bronzer in Gold Dust* (provided as a gift by the brand) and Tom Ford liner in Espresso.
For the complexion, it was really a matter of really heavily applying the Gold Dust bronzer.  Too bad the picture doesn't show the sheen of this bronzer, but it is something spectacular.  I don't wear this often because it really isn't the more natural look I tend to go for on the complexion, but when the light hits the skin, it is like a disco ball of the utmost high class.

Tom Ford Ravish is a true chameleon for me.  I wear it with a very light hand most times and it acts the way a nude blush like Rouge Bunny Rouge Delicata would (from the Day Look).  But applied with a forceful hand, the brown-red tones really come blooming forth.  Quite something, eh?

Isn't there some outdated rule that says don't do all features with intensity at the same time?  Well, FECK IT!  Eyes, Cheek, Lips!  BROWN!  BROWN COW NOW!  SUQQU Ichikiju is a stunning red to complement all the other strong features in this night (hooker) look.

Close up of the Mitsucha eyes:
 This night eye is reasonably similar to the day eye.  The big difference is really Tom Ford Espresso eye liner that is used to define around the lash lines.  I used it to also color in my lower waterline.  The same dark brown in Mitsucha was applied a bit more forcefully around my socket line.  The copper was applied to the mobile lid as well as on my lower lash line.  I used a flat paddle brush to then apply the bright Mitsucha gold to the center of my upper lid.
Hope you enjoyed this installation from the Sisterhood of the Traveling Palette Series, the Mr. Brown Can Moo Can You edition!

What colors are your favorites for a single-color meditative session on your face?

Would you like to participate in the sisterhood with Mitsucha?  If so, send me a link and I would be happy to link you in this post!

Until next time, sisters, MOOOOOOO!
*this post contains a product that was provided without charge.  Please check out my disclosure policy on this sort of stuff (here).

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Hair Type and Density Actually Make a Difference? Cheek Brushes

Very recently, I purchased a brand new Koyudo Canadian Squirrel cheek brush through a blog sale.  It was an impulse purchase fueled by greater interest in the more rare hair types available in brushes and partly fueled by my regret that I never purchased the red squirrel brush from Koyudo.

Eh, Canadian, Red, Grey.. horse.  Same difference.  Or IS IT?  DUN DUN DUNNNNNN!  Well is it?

Squirrels are impressive little creatures making home all over the world (except sad Australia.  But they have all sorts of weird marsupials, so I say we are about even with our Aussie friends) with a staggering diversity of more than 200 different species.

This is a very common Eastern Grey Squirrel that is often seen where I live (in the US Northeast).
I don't think these guys are made into hand crafted Japanese brushes with their stubby short hairs, but among premium brush materials, grey squirrel is among the finest.  The delightfully and unearthly soft SUQQU cheek brush is made out of grey squirrel.

I am going to post a little demo in an effort to:

  1. Justify the fact that I bought yet another cheek brush (ahem)
  2. Show how these brushes perform differently to the same product
  3. See if hair type & density actually make a noticeable difference in application.

I thought it would be a good exercise to show you how my brand new Canadian Squirrel cheek brush performs versus some of the other ones I own.  I was actually surprised at how many I own.  I actually have a handful of others, but I think for this demonstrations, these would be sufficient.

Before we get on to the brushes, a quick little look at Tom Ford Narcissist blush (DC, LE).  I own lots of super pigmented blushes, but this is the one that might rank number one in terms of pigmentation intensity.  This is the blush that makes me take the greatest care when I select a brush to apply it on my face.

I will be using this crazy bright pigmented blush to show how different brushes apply on my skin.

Here are the brushes I will be playing with today.
  1. Tom Ford Cheek brush - a very dense, large and very soft goat hair brush.
  2. Chikuhodo Artist Red 16-1 - a fair large grey squirrel brush, with some nice density
  3. SUQQU Cheek brush - a.k.a. Lisa Eldridge Kitten Paw.  Like the Artist Red, also grey squirrel, but with a very petite head and much less density.
  4. Koyudo Canadian Squirrel Cheek brush - the new kid on the block for me.  It is all Canadian Squirrel hair, which is soft but definitely with more bounce, resistance and firmness than grey squirrel.
  5. Trish McEvoy Fan brush - a fan shaped brush with hairs of two different lengths.  The longer black ones are very airily packed and allows picking up a fairy kiss's amount of product.  The shorter and firmer brown hairs allows for some light blending.  I don't know what these hairs are, but I'm seeing a generic "natural" when I search.  I'm guessing pony and dyed goat.
  6. MAC 187 Duo Fiber Face brush - I use this for blush, but it also works for foundations.  It is a blend of goat and sythentic fibers.  Like the TM fan brush, the longer hairs are very lightly packed and performs similarly to the fan brush in terms of pigmentation pick up and depositing.

The beauty blogger brush head picture.  This is a requisite picture.  Now I get a brownie point.  *plonk*

You can see relative head shape and size of each of the brushes.  5 & 6, the Trish and the MAC have the lightest hair/fiber distribution.  The Tom Ford, the giant of the brush is also the most densely packed.  Surprisingly, 4, the Canadian in the bunch is also fairly dense when compared to the 2 Chikuhodo and the 3 SUQQU Cheek.

If I can just summarize each brush again by density and softness:
  1. Tom Ford Cheek is super dense.  The goat hairs are soft, but has a lot of resilience and less give compared to all the other brushes.
  2. Chikuhodo Artist Red 16-1 is incredibly soft and dense, but less so than the Tom Ford and more so than the SUQQU.
  3. SUQQU Cheek is super soft, like the Chikuhodo Artist Red, but coupled with the airiness of the lack of density makes it magically soft all around.
  4. Koyudo Canadian Squirrel feel less soft than the SUQQU or the Chikuhodo grey squirrels, more slightly more soft than the Tom Ford goat hair.  It is much denser than the SUQQU, and slightly more dense than the Chukuhodo.  It is less dense than the Tom Ford.
  5. Trish McEvoy Fan Brush - is not terribly soft, but because the long hairs are so sparsely distributed, it feels very soft on the skin.
  6. MAC 187 like the Trish doesn't have the softness of the other all natural hair brushes, but the very loose density of the long hairs makes it feel very soft on the skin.
I've swirled each brush in the pan in a back and forth movement, covering the brush head evenly as I could.  The flash picture seems to show up the pigment on the hairs better than without.  Funny thing is how the SUQQU (3) looks like is completely packed on with color.

And now the application.  On some blogging days, I wish I had a longer arm.  Because then I would have used even more brushes!  *cackle cackle cackle*
The common wisdom is that a dense brush in a goat hair will product some impressively rich application.  And you can see how 1 Tom Ford is the darkest application.  Each swatch was swished twice, and I can see the 1 swatch needs some extra blending.  It was also the least controlled in terms of precise application, its large head kind of going all over the place.

The second darkest application was the new brush, the 4 Koyudo Canadian Squirrel one.  While it didn't produce as dark an application, it was pretty close and with it's more compact size and more directional shape produced a very precise and neat application.  It's practically perfectly blended right off the bat!

What surprised me was how similar the 2 Chikuhodo, 3 SUQQU, 5 Trish and the 6 MAC 187 were in terms of how darkly the blush was applied.  I do think for a really careful application of a blush like Narcissist, the fan and the 187 would be the better choice.  The more practical shape of the grey squirrel Chikuhodo and SUQQU brushes make then my staples for pretty much all the blushes I own.

I do see that my new Koyudo would make it a really excellent brush for the less pigmented blushes I have.  In the same way that Tom Ford & Koyudo make quick work out of picking up a LOT (maybe even too much product) of something pigmented like Narcissist, it also makes easy work out of picking up color from the lightly pigmented colors as well.

The other aspect to consider when you are thinking about the right set of cheek brushes for you is the actual shape of the brush head.  I only touched on it in passing, but it's the shape that gives precision or lack of precision in placement and allows for it to be a superior blending brush (or not)!  If I am going for a more apples of the cheeks placement and blending, the Tom Ford is my guy.  I'm looking for a soft and naturally blended one, then the Chikuhodo or the SUQQU ones will do.  Crazy pigmented colors?  Then the Trish or the MAC.  Now, how the Koyudo works its way in, I shall have to figure it out.

Blabbity blah blah.

In closing, I for one welcome our Canadian Squirrel Overlords.

What's your criteria for picking the best cheek brushes?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Serge Lutens Lèvres en Bôite 1

Someone promise to send me mean emails when you notice that the Serge Lutens tag on this blog has a number bigger than *picking an arbitrary number* say 2 or 3 or ...
I am wondering if there is a brand you make a point of avoiding because you know it is a dangerous place to loiter about.  Serge Lutens is well known as a fragrance house, but it also has a very small offering of exquisite looking products which are offered exclusively at Barney's and on line in their own website.

Why dangerous?  First the price points are about as stratospheric as beauty products can get.  Buying something would force me to eat crackers and water for lunch a few weeks level of expensive.  The kind of dangerous that would make me feel bad actually using it because then a pristine product would be marred.  Also so dangerous because what would happen if I actually LIKED the brand.


Shiny, heavy, decadent case of (wallet) doom.
Containing a most elegant assortment of red lip shades.
Shades that span the spectrum of cool to warm and from uber-pigmented to wearable sheer.  Why, RUN AWAY from the counter, Belly.  RUN!

Like a moth to the most exquisite flame, I had to take a closer look and you should, too.

Each individual red has a reason for being and stands on its own, but of course since this is a palette, one can customize by mixing shades to one's heart's content.  That is, if you can actually stand messing up those pristine looking pans.

Speaking of customization, there is an empty well to mix colors, but I prefer to just use the back of my hand.  I don't want this case to get messy.
Also included are two really short lip brushes.  The instructions included note that you should gently separate the bristles before use and to wipe away the extra color on the bristles after use.  I've not used these brushes myself, preferring to use the ones I keep at home (Tom Ford, Chikuhodo Artist Red, Bobbi Brown) and the ones I keep in my makeup bag (Chikudo Artist Red - the travel one, and the Shu Uemura travel kolinsky ones).
How many red lipsticks does one need anyway?  I'm going to say this is just a rhetorical question so we'll just ponder and not give any answers (such as a number less than 4).

Here are the swatches of the colors for my enjoyment, swatched from top to bottom of the palette.
  • The top red is a richly pigmented blue-toned red.  It is opaque and deep.
  • The second red is a slightly sheer pinky red.  This is probably my least favorite of the four, though probably because I own many sheer reds and pinky reds among my lipsticks.
  • The third is a bright and rich warm orange red.  This is not a unique color but absolutely unique in my collection.  I seem to have gravitated to neutral reds over time.
  • The fourth and final red is another beauty.  This is the one I tried on at the counter and made me think, ".....I....I...."  A generally neutral red that has a hint of translucent blue.
The glinting gleam you are seeing in the swatches is the bright natural light reflecting off the colors.  The colors are all without any shimmer.  There are single lipsticks in the Serge Lutens line, but these shades are exclusive to this palette.
But how are they?  How are they applied and how do they feel?  I love richly pigmented colors but many lipstick formulas that are high pigment dry my lips.  Some are more tolerable than others, but most formulas, when worn over consecutive days will completely shred up my lips.

The Serge Lutens reds are not moisturizing.  Well, if they were I would get go out immediately and grab some more (like #3 palette of the vampy shades).  But I find them not drying either, which for me is a wonderful find.  Over the course of the last week or so, I've been wearing these every day and noticing:
  • excellent smooth light consistency that is not thickly creamy, but has enough slip for easy application.
  • not particularly long wear time.  Particularly the red #2, the sheerer one.  I definitely need to touch up during the day.
  • classic soft shine finish
  • didn't bleed, but I don't usually have a problem with lipsticks bleeding
  • not drying!  Yahoo!  Let's not offend my Google Overlord.  I meant, GOOOOOGLE!
I mentioned the price, but did I mention the size?  The case is substantial and may give you the impression that there is a good mass of product in there, but to tell you the truth, it is wee little itty bitty tiny in terms of weight.  Containing a miserly 3.6g of product, it dwarfs in comparison to a Tom Ford lipstick (one shade) at 3g.  It performs a similarly amazing feat of being several times the price of a Tom Ford lipstick.

People often ask me things like, is such-and-such worth the price.  Is this the very best eye shadow-blush-lipstick there is?  Honestly, I have no idea.  It's not like the ingredient list contains pure gold or magical potions.
With worth being a term that is very personal and relative to an individual, I will say, worth it for me.

Since purchasing this palette, I've been actively culling down the reds I own, where if not close to perfection in formula or color, I've let it go.  Bye bye, SUQQU Creamy Glow Karakurenai.

Here are the shades on me, from top to bottom palette order:
 Goodbye, any other blue-based red I've ever owned.
 You're perfectly fine (and in a palette) so I will keep you.
 Hot chili, good grief!
Neutral red perfected.

Serge Lutens beauty is produced by the Japanese beauty giant Shiseido, so some of the sleek aesthetics is reminiscent of that brand/sub-brand offerings.  No scent, no taste!  The lip colors have no taste.  As for me, tasteless for life!

I purchased my Serge Lutens palette in person at Barney's on Madison Avenue in New York.  Elie, the SA was most patient and a dream to work with.  *Must continue to avoid this counter like the plague*  Elie can be reached at (212) 833-2425.

So tell me, have you already been indulging heavily into Serge Lutens?  What are your recommendations (but it's not like I really want to know.  BUT I DO!) from this brand?  Any other brands you avoid because falling in love would be tres dangereuse?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Ding Ding! Chantecaille Compact Makeup Foundation + Shu Uemura 50H Brush

While playing around with my new powder foundation that I posted about the other day, I kept on thinking that the application didn't feel right.  When applied it was fine, but it took a long time to apply with the dense, small, dome-shaped brush like a Tom Ford Cream Foundation Brush.  The enclosed sponge in the compact also didn't seem to work the product in my skin and kind of let it just sit on top.  I need something with dense bristles that can cover a large area but with some level of precision.

I always forget I have this brush.  I forgot to include it in my giant All My Brushes post.
This is the Shu Uemura 50H brush which was released in 2009, which is right around the time Shu Uemura pulled out of brick and mortar locations in the United States.  Mine was purchased in Asia, and I recall the SA happily demonstrating the virtues of this dense goat (?) hair brush, for bronzer, powder, blush and contour application.  Its flattened but dense profile makes excellent work of powder application.  Why, it is so great that this is one of the things I always port around in my makeup bag for touching up with pressed powder and the errant blush re-application.  And using the tip of the longer side, I can work whatever product into facial crevices.


Ah, I love it when my slow brain gets cooking and percolates an idea.  (more like ding dong)

In addition to really liking my new Chantecaille Compact Makeup foundation, I am really loving this brush for this product.  The wide head makes quick work of applying the foundation across the larger areas of my face (cheek & big forehead) and then the smaller tip of the brush works product around my nose, around my mouth, in my bellybutton.  I can also gently buff in the makeup into my skin as well and the finish is quite good.

Even more DING DING, was applying the foundation over my Skinceuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense Sunscreen (tinted sunscreen).  The tint is slightly weird looking grey on me and the yellow tint of the powder does nice job of correcting that and the finish looks great!
Anyway, this is how it looks.  You can excuse the odd up-nose angle of this picture, but it gives a good sense of how the tinted sunscreen + Chantecaille Compact Makeup + Shu Uemura 50H work out together. 

The tinted sunscreen does some initial work of eliminating out the redness and giving some minimal coverage (and protecting skin against the sun naturally) and then the buffed in application of the Chantecaille powder foundation takes care of cancelling out the grey with the yellow, layering on additional very light coverage and providing a more matter finish.
other makeup worn: THREE 4D Eye Palette in Mystery Girl, Tom Ford Espresso eye liner (again!), Chanel JC blush in Fleur de Lotus, Chantecaille Lip Chic in Daphne
What strikes me as funny is the kind of stuff that gets me crazy excited in makeup is the weird experimentation, combination and application that ends up being unexpected wins.  The fun stuff about makeup is the personalization and exploring what works for me.  That's cool.  Anyway, this product and application combination has been holding up very nicely through some uncomfortably warm and humid stretch of weather here.  I top off my t zone with more powder foundation mid afternoon and it's looking great.

Regarding that brush...hmm, I don't think it is available in the US (I don't see it on line).  Friends with Shu counters, have you seen this brush?  As an alternative, brushes with similar shape might be the Rae Morris Ultimate Cheekbone brush or Hakuhodo ones.  You should check out Sonia's comparions of the RM here which I think might perform similarly.

Any recent discoveries for you that made you go "DING DING!" ?  Yay!  This ding dong had a ding ding!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Random Rant Thursday

Sometimes when I am in the mood to splurge on some beautiful things, it doesn't take much to tip me over to buy something.  A walk through the glistening beauty counters, a few new releases, some pretty colors is enough to make me stop and chat with the counter folks and buy something.  I am always interested in new brushes.  While I have many (probably too many), a unique shape or certain density makes me ponder if it would make a good fit in my collection.
I knew recently that Nars revamped their brushes and having seen favorable blog reviews made me keen on checking them out in person.  I suspected that most things would not compare as favorably to my favorite grey squirrel brushes, but I was looking to be spending.  After looking and touching the display, my eyes were drawn to the eye shadow blending brush (#42) and the eye shadow precision contour brush (#44).  A good blending brush and a nice dense pencil brush are always welcome additions.

Neither were very soft, but I'm ok with sacrificing some softness for really good function.  Still, I was curious about the hair type because there are some kinds I am less fond of than others.

When I asked what the hair types were, I got a long rambling answer where the gist was, Oh I'm not sure.  Let me check the packaging... which doesn't say.  But they are usually synthentic.

Really?  Not to know is ok.  I don't mind doing a little researching on the web to find out, but why does she make up answers?

Then I asked how much these two brushes were and she didn't know.  And instead of looking them up, or scanning at the register to look up the prices, she made up an answer saying both are about $34.  (FYI, $32 for the blender and $28 for the pencil)  That pretty much killed any mood to buy anything from the counter.

Maybe she wasn't regularly a worker at this counter.  Or maybe she was new.  I wouldn't mind any of this, but why make things up?  I just don't get it!

Another rant:
I hate when things are too pretty to ever touch or mar, but the belly heart just wants wants wants!

Case in point:
 WALA!  Yes, it's the exquisitely, painfully pretty illuminating face powder from Chanel.  It's the Dentelle Precieuse which is exclusive to Nordstrom.

I need another highlighter like another hole in the head.

Have rants you'd like to share today?
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