Sunday, 30 September 2012

Orly Fired Up - swatches and review

Today I have some swatches from a recent Orly collection, Fired Up. Being a Northern Hemisphere brand, it's full of very autumnal fiery shimmers and warm earthy browns and golds. But luckily for us Southern Hemisphere girls, they're all classic, wear-anytime colours.

There are six shades in the collection:
Cremes: Glow (taupe), Ignite (red), Rapture (chocolate brown)
Shimmers: Flare (gold), Flicker (burnt orange), Smoulder (deep wine)


Smoulder - This is a deep cherry red shimmer with a slight purple tinge. The formula is very nice - this shows 2 smooth coats. It's a very classic, wear-anytime, borderline vampy sort of red. The shimmer and the tined base are slightly different colours, which keeps it interesting and gives it a lit-from-within glow.

Flare - Gold shimmer. The formula is a bit thin, and needed 3-4 coats for full opacity. The finish is gorgeous though - it's a large-particle foil, with lots of visual depth which makes it more interesting than most of the golds out there. I'm usually very wary of very reflective polishes on their own, but this one is incredibly good-looking!

All Orly shades are 3-free, and come in bottles with rubberised caps which are easy to grip and manoeuvre, and most importantly, make opening stuck bottles much less frustrating!

While these colours are gorgeous, I'm not completely sold on being able to wear them much over the next few months, with the exception of the neutral cremes Glow and Rapture. They're great, versatile classic shades, but not something that screams warm weather. The other colours in the range are very versatile classic shades though, that are good all year round and not particularly seasonal. Luckily, Orly's very on-trend Feel the Vibe neon collection is heading our way soon!

What colours do you find yourself wearing all year round?

Orly nail lacquers are RRP $18.95 for 18 mL. The Fired Up collection is on shelves now; for stockists, consult Products provided for review by PR. For more information see Disclosure Policy.

Friday, 28 September 2012

My hair dilemma

A few of you already know that I have a veritable mop of hair. It's thick, it's coarse, and I've been growing it from shoulder-length since 2006 because three separate hairdressers have told me that if I cut it shorter than mid-back length it will explode into an afro. You have to love brutally honest Asian hairdressers!

Artist's impression:

I recently decided to actually do something about it and get soft, flickable, floaty hair. I'd been taking dance classes with the incredible Bobbi and her floaty hair was giving me serious hair envy, but I think the clincher for me was when my low-standards, zero-maintenance boyfriend told me it was gross. (This is a guy whose friends have dreads.)

Option 1: Hair extensions.

I was totally going to lop my hair off and get hair extensions put in. I kid you not, it was at that stage of start-anew bad. A friend talked me out of it, but if I'd gotten hair extensions, I would've probably gone with Hair Secrets hair extensions, which I had the opportunity to gawp at and grope in person last week. They're the most natural hair extensions I've ever seen - when I walked into the room, I thought the model's hair was all her own. Yeah, I knew I was there to see hair extensions, but somehow my brain just refused to accept that the hair wasn't all attached. I mean, look at them:

Now that you know, you can probably tell that the model's hair is only shoulder length, but I definitely wouldn't be able to pick it on the street! She's wearing a 7-piece set of silicone-lined clip-in hair extensions which literally take seconds to put in (RRP $425, a 5-piece set for finer hair is $325). Hair Secrets also offers Invisi-Gel permanent hair extensions which last for 6-8 weeks and take 30 minutes to put in, but I'd go for the clip-ins myself. And there's an incredible colour range:

Unlike a lot of other brands, Hair Secrets also pays attention to the upkeep side of things. There's a special brush (RRP $26) designed not to tug on hair to prolong the life of the extensions the bindings, but it's also been great for my head hair. It has unique looped bristles and it's HUGE, which is handy for these thick extensions.

Option 2: Straightening treatment.

Luckily, just before I made the irreversible decision to do the chop, a friend suggested that I try a keratin treatment first, to nourish my damaged hair and tame it a bit. I bought the first voucher I could find on one of those Groupon sites (it's actually really difficult to not run into a keratin deal every week).

Keratin treatments contain two main ingredients: keratin to smooth the hair and make it shiny, and an aldehyde (often formaldehyde) to change the shape of the hair and tame it. A deep cleansing shampoo is used first to remove other residue from hair before the treatment, and some serious hot straightening iron action is needed to activate and seal in the goop. The smooth, straight effect wears off gradually over time, with a lifespan of 3-6 months. Sulfate-free shampoos are recommended to reduce stripping of product from the hair.

My hair before the treatment is on the left, and after is on the right. Both were air-dried, then gone over half-arsedly with a hair straightener.

It's been almost two weeks since my treatment, and the easier upkeep is amazing! But the best thing is that the ends no longer properly get caught, and it feels much healthier (if something dead can be considered "healthy") - it's all-in-all a softer, more obedient mane.

Do you have long hair? What do you do to keep it healthy?

Hairbrush was provided by PR. For more information, see Disclosure Policy. For Hair Secrets stockists, see here. For keratin treatment vouchers, you can do what I do and subscribe to every damn deal site, or be sensible and just Google it, but then you miss out on the joys of buying cheesecake then forgetting you bought it, and ringing your SO at 2 am to cry about it.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Artsy Wednesday: Lacy Nails

This week for Artsy Wednesday the theme is lacy nails. I was running out of time for this one, and I didn't have any real lace or lace stamps handy, so I freehanded a lace design using a nail art brush:

The base is ulta3 Lilac Bloom from the gorgeous Pretty Pastels collection, which I'm currently in love with. The lace is ulta3 Gold Rush Fever. You can kind of see how I lost interest as I progressed from index to little finger haha...

I'm really loving the pastel-and-gold combo for Spring, so you'll be seeing quite a lot more of it since I've recently acquire about 15 gorgeous pastel polishes! :)

More lacy nails from some talented ladies:

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Operation Freckle-Away feat. Neostrata Gel Plus

After researching AHAs and BHAs for my blog post here, I incorporated 8% glycolic acid and 2% salicylic acid into my nightly skincare routine and I've been very impressed with the smooth, glowy skin and reduced pores they gave me. I've recently embarked on Operation Freckle-Away, which is me trying to get rid of a few sun-induced freckles on my cheekbones, and part of this involves stepping up the glycolic acid to 15% with NeoStrata Gel Plus.

NeoStrata was actually founded by the scientists (Van Scott and Yu) who discovered the effects AHAs had on skin. Their skincare products reflect this - no-nonsense, clinical-looking products filled with potent and proven ingredients, in particular AHAs and PHAs. PHAs are essentially the next generation in hydroxy acid exfoliants - they're more moisturising and hence better for sensitive skin, thanks to the additional hydroxy groups which have a humectant effect and attract water. Additionally, PHAs act as antioxidants to protect the skin.

NeoStrata Gel Plus contains an AHA (glycolic acid) at a relatively high concentration of 15% - it's only recommended for experienced users of AHAs whose skin is already accustomed to chemical exfoliants. Gel Plus is well formulated - it was easy to spread and absorbed quickly into my skin, and it comes in a handy hygienic flip-top bottle. Only a tiny amount is needed. My skin is oily to begin with, and it didn't feel too dry or itchy after application, which has happened with some other products in the past (Paula's Choice 2% BHA Liquid, for example). After only a few nights of use, my skin felt significantly softer and a few pimples threatening to flare up started flattening - huzzah!

(I felt like this picture was appropriate again.)

As with any other AHA or BHA product, you have to wear sunscreen while using it since it exposes fresh skin, and sun will counteract all the effort you've put in!

- Exfoliates, even out pigmentation, reduce appearance of pores, smooth wrinkles and stimulate collagen synthesis for firmer, fresher-looking skin
- Results backed by scientific research
- Sturdy, hygienic packaging
- Excellent formula which spreads well

- For girls with sensitive or dry skin, or simply those who haven't tried any chemical exfoliants before, your skin may react to this. Go slow!
- Freshly exfoliated skin is thinner and more sensitive to sun - sunscreen is a must!
- Smells like alcohol (this could be a pro, actually, depending on what you like your products to smell like!)

This is definitely going to be a staple in my skincare routine!

Product provided by PR, which did not affect my opinion of it. For more details, see Disclosure Policy. Neostrata Gel Plus retails at $40.95 for 100 mL. For stockists, visit their website.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Enkelini swatches - Part 1

I won a giveaway at Gnarly Gnails a while back, and the prize was five Enkelini minis. Here are three of them - check out Polish or Perish tomorrow for the other two!

Enkelini is the brainchild of Pat Ashton - you can read an interview with her here, and grab polishes from her Etsy store here. Trust me, you'll want to click through - the polishes I received are AMAZING (and 3-free).

Cottage Garden (glossy then matte):

Cottage Garden is probably my favourite of the bunch - little green, yellow, pink (light and dark) and purple matte hexes, along with green and yellow glitter dust. In the bottle it looks like a hot mess (I almost didn't pick it!), but when layered over a creme - gorgeous. Because of the tiny glitter, it's very easy to work with. This is over Rimmel Green Grass, to keep with the garden theme, and yes, it does look like a field dotted with little wildflowers! So pretty. I prefer this one glossy, and I can see this working beautifully over a lot of pastels! I'm going to try light blue next. A lot of people asked me about this polish when I wore it, and it even got the rare boyfriend seal of approval!

Purdee (2 coats alone on index and middle fingers, two coats over black on the rest):

Purdee is a mix of pink hexes and squares, green hexes and dust, and white hexes and squares in a pearly green shimmer base. I'm not a big fan of this one - the shimmer covers the glitters too much for my liking.

Pink Tie Ball (glossy then matte):

Pink Tie Ball is black and white matte glitter with a twist: there's also shiny pink glitter in there! It's a great mix of glitters: big hexes (pink and black), little hexes (black, white and pink), squares (pink), and bars (pink and white). The bar glitter, as always, likes to curl up, and this is definitely a "dabbing" polish. I would've liked less pink and more B&W, but that's a personal preference and nothing a coat of Zebration won't fix. This is over OPI Skull and Glossbones - I'm not sure if I prefer it matte or glossy!

I wore all of these over Essence Peel Off Base, a PVA basecoat. I've been surprised by how well it holds up - it lasts as long as Orly Bonder. The only problem is that sometimes it doesn't come off so easily. Wedging a cuticle pusher in between the nail and the polish helps, as does removal after a warm shower (but be carefully because water softens your nails as well as the PVA).

Overall, the Enkelini polishes I received exceeded my expectations by, well, a lot! I don't own many indies, and these glitterbombs were well-formulated, with a great mix of glitter. There's definitely no skimping on variety! As well as glitterbombs, Enkelini also has a range of linear holos, multichromes and multichrome glitters (the same glitters as in the now discontinued Ozotics). Pat has recently reopened her store with a lot of new polishes - a lot of them have definitely joined my rapidly-growing wishlist :)

These polishes were won in a giveaway. Most Enkelini polishes are $5 USD for a 5 mL mini and $8 USD for a full-sized 15 mL (holos and multichrome glitters are a bit more), and can be purchased here.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Nivea Daily Essentials Refreshing Cleansing Mousse

I'm a massive fan of cleansing mousses. There are just so many things to like! I'm a Lazy Girl, and cleansing mousses are a Lazy Girl's dream:

Quick and easy - You know the nights when you can't be bothered washing off smudged dancefloor makeup? Well, there's no excuse with a cleansing mousse - it lathers up by itself. One pump and you're set.

Wash off cleanly - Most cleansers need rubbing to wash off - the mousses I've used come off with splashing. Even after 10+ years, I  haven't gotten the hang of washing my face over the sink sans washcloth without getting a bucketload of water down my front - I have to wash my face in the shower (tips and tutorials welcome). Anything that comes off easily is a godsend for sink washing.

Last forever - So far my mousse cleansers have lasted forever, despite looking thin in the bottle. This is probably because the pump head lathers up so much more efficiently than I do. Thanks technology for adding to my inferiority complex!

My first mousse was Neutrogena's Deep Clean Invigorating Ultra-Foam Cleanser and I loved it to bits - it made my face feel squeaky clean, but was too drying. It lasted a year of daily use, which is ridiculous value. Annoyingly, there weren't any other drugstore cleansing mousses readily available when I ran out, so I brought one home from Hong Kong - Neutrogena Hydro Boost Mousse Cleanser. While it wasn't drying, I wasn't a fan of the scent. And yes, I use it twice a week and there's still 2/3 left after 18 months. Oy vey!

So I was very excited when I saw Nivea's new offerings: not one, but two cleansing mousses! Finally! The Daily Essentials Soothing Cleansing Mousse (pink) is recommended for dry and sensitive skin and contains almond oil, while the Refreshing Cleansing Mousse (blue) is formulated for combination and oily skin with extra vitamin E. Both contain Nivea's Hydra IQ formula, the details of which deserves a post in itself and involves Nobel Prize-winning science - essentially, it hydrates skin from both the surface and within, mimicking the skin's natural water channels.

I've only tried the Refreshing version, and it has a pleasant scent and is surprisingly mild - I guess if it lathers itself, you don't need any strong surfactants that bubble but also strip oils from skin. The pump head makes a lovely thick lather, and one pump is more than enough for my whole face. It washed off easily, and like it claims, it left my skin feeling hydrated and soft, which I didn't expect from a cleanser. A bit of rubbing with my fingers was enough to get BB cream off my face. I'm not sure yet on how long the bottle will last, but so far it doesn't look like I've made much of a dent in it. So it ticks all the boxes for me!

What do you like in a cleanser? Have you found one that works for you?

Nivea Daily Essentials Refreshing Cleansing Mousses retail for $9.98 for a 150 mL self-foaming pump bottle and is available wherever you find Nivea (Priceline, supermarkets, pharmacies).

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Artsy Wednesday with tutorial (gasp!): Neon watercolour manicure

The theme this week is neon. I originally tried a colour blocking mani but it didn't end up looking right, so I changed to this watercolour mani. I'm glad I did, I think it turned out really nice! The pattern reminds me of the floral jeans that are starting to flood Aussie stores for spring.

The base I used was Orly Dayglow, from the new Neon collection (swatches soon!). I used three polishes ilexica sent to me in a swap for the watercolour pattern on top: Barry M Acid Yellow and Coral, and Models Own Purple Passion.

The star is a cute decoration from kkcenterhk (product no. N.NAIL-DRN245) - I stuck it on with some top coat but didn't seal it in. It's a bit too big for my very curved nails, but they'd work really well on someone with flatter, wider nail beds! You can buy them here.

This week, I actually made a picture tutorial on how to make a watercolour design on your nails. This is very rare for me... savour it! :P

What you need

- white base colour
- colours for watercolour design - 3-5 colours are probably the easiest, but you can make a nice design just with 1 colour!
- base and top coat

- nail polish remover (I used plain acetone, but any will do)
- nail art brush - medium sized is most suitable
- dotting tool or small nail art brush

Step 1. On top of a layer of base coat, paint your base white shade. It doesn't need to be perfect and fully opaque, but be warned that the design won't cover everything. Finish with a thick layer of top coat and let it dry til dent-proof.

Step 2. Dot some of the first polish colour on a nail with the dotting tool or small art brush. Start with the lightest colour and work towards the darkest.

Step 3. Here's the fun part! Get your medium sized art brush and dip it in nail polish remover. You don't want it to be dripping wet, but you want the bristles to be slightly swelled out. Put it in the middle of a dot and wiggle it around a bit to spread the colour around - you don't want it to be too neat.

You can play around with how much time you leave in between dotting and spreading to get different effects - the longer you leave it, the darker the "ring" around the original dot (you can see the ring quite clearly on the leftmost dot in step 5).

Doing steps 2 and 3 on one nail at a time will give you the most control over the pattern.

Steps 4-7. Repeat with the other colours, and finish with top coat. Voila!

It looks like there are a lot of steps, but it doesn't take very long at all! And because it's supposed to look messy, and none of your nails are supposed to match, it's a breeze.

Here's the finished design, before sticking the star decoration on:

What do you think? Should I make more tutorials in the future, and what would you like me to do them on?

More neon nail art:

Star decoration and Orly Dayglow were provided for review. For more information see Disclosure Policy.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Sukin Facial Moisturiser - Review

I've been spending most of this winter with rough cheeks, and rose hip oil just isn't quite enough to keep my skin moisturised overnight. I picked up this bottle of Sukin Facial Moisturiser from Priceline on a whim, and amazingly my whim paid off!

This cream comes in a hygienic pump bottle, and has a very "wet" texture. A little goes a very long way with this cream - half a pump is enough to shiny up my whole face, but surprisingly it sinks very nicely into the skin after a few minutes. I use a full pump on my face and neck before bed, and my skin is still plump and moisturised the next day. The ingredients list boasts softening shea butter and anti-irritant aloe vera, as well as rosehip, jojoba, sesame and avocado oils and horsetail, burdock and nettle extracts. It's also paraben-free, for those of you who are concerned.

The scent of this cream is quite strong - it smells citrusy and fresh, thanks to a bunch of essential oils. I think this might make it too irritating for some sensitive skin, but I've had no problems with it. Sukin also carry a Sensitive Facial Moisturiser. Annoyingly though, it appears to be a bit too rich for daily use on my T-zone, although it's been amazing on the cheeks. So I'm still on my never-ending search for my HG night cream, but Sukin Facial Moisturiser, I'm glad to say, is still one of the best drugstore bargains I've found this year.

What's the best drugstore product you've picked up lately?

Sukin Facial Moisturiser retails at $9.95 for 125 mL and can be found at Pricelines, pharmacies, health stores. For more stockists see here. Also found on Amazon, internet shopping addicts!

Don't forget to enter this Trilogy giveaway for more Aussie skincare goodness!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

ulta3 Earl Grey - Aus and PRC comparison

If you haven't already heard, cult limited edition shade ulta3 Earl Grey has reappeared on the shelves, albeit in the new PRC formulation. A few girls have asked for a comparison, so here it is:

Index/ring = new PRC formula
Middle/pinky = old Australian formula

I needed three coats of the PRC formulation to reach opacity, not because of the polish itself but because the stiff brush left drag marks. The Aussie formula, with the softer brush, only needed 2. Like all the other older ulta3 pastels, it's very opaque and creamy.

I can only see the slightest difference in colour when my nails are in semi-shade - the Aussie formula was very very slightly more grey, the PRC version was a tad more warm beige. Under all other lighting conditions, they were virtually indistinguishable, and I was looking very hard for a difference!

Bottle shot: left = Aussie, right = PRC

Overall, this is a great dupe job. The only real difference is in packaging (new label, 13.5 -> 13 mL bottle, new stiffer brush). I know a lot of girls both here and overseas had this on their wishlists - hurry and get a bottle while it's available! Unfortunately, I haven't caught sight of the other cult LE colour yet, Cocoa Bean, but I'm on the lookout!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Artsy Wednesday: Galaxy Nails

I've seen a lot of galaxy nails floating around, but never got around to trying it. Lucky it came up for Artsy Wednesday, or I'd never have had the strange god-like feeling of having galaxies at my fingertips!

I started with a base of Borghese Tempesta Black, a black with subtle silver shimmer. Then I randomly sponged on ulta3 Lily White, the most opaque white I own. I alternated between orange- and purple-toned galaxies for each nail.

For the orange toned galaxies, I sponged ulta3 Tropez (bronze shimmer) over the white, leaving some plain white in the middle. Then I sponged W7 Envy around the edges and shaped the galaxy with Tempesta Black, and added stars with some Winmax Long Type #27, an orange-toned iridescent glitter topcoat. I finished with Seche Vite.

For the purple toned nails, I substituted ulta3 Pearly Grape (fuschia shimmer) for Tropez.

My favourite nail:

This design looked very impressive for not very much effort - it took only 15 minutes to do one hand after the base dried. And it's pretty much foolproof since they're supposed to look irregular. I can see myself doing this in the future for any special occasion that's even remotely related to space!

More galaxy nails:

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Trilogy giveaway!

Hello lovely readers! Today I have something special for you - Trilogy are generously giving away 2 packs of Trilogy products to my readers!

Trilogy is an award-winning skincare brand from Australia, and produce "Natural Skincare That Works". They also aim to be ethically and environmentally responsible - always a winner in my books! They're responsible for a lot of the well-deserved hype around rosehip oil, with many products incorporating some of the liquid skincare gold.

The prize packs contain:

Face Care Vital Moisturising Cream - lightweight cream, packed with rosehip and evening primrose oils and other plant goodies. It absorbs quickly and helps maintain healthy skin.

Everything Balm - this balm works for, well, everything! Cuticles, dry skin, lips, massage oil... it contains lots of great ingredients such as rosehip oil, honey, coconut oil and evening primrose oil. One of my coworkers kept this religiously on her lab desk to counteract the horrible dry lab hands you get from washing your hands too much.

Face Care Cream Cleanser - Super gentle cleanser that cleans without drying and leaves skin soft and smooth.

That's a total value of over $100!

How to enter (Check me out, avoiding Rafflecopter!)

Make sure you're a GFC follower (widget to the right)

1. For one entry, leave me a comment telling me about your skincare and/or beauty HGs (that's holy grails, for the unintiated). Make sure you include your email so I can contact you if you win!

Additional entries:

2. If you follow me on Instagram, you can take a photo of some of your skincare/beauty HG products and post it on Instagram. Make sure you tag me (@labmuffin) so I can see it, and link back to this post.

3. If you follow me on Twitter, you can tweet about the giveaway - again, tag me (@labmuffin) to make sure I see it, and link to this post.

Entries close 11th October, and I'll randomly select two winners out of the valid entries. Unfortunately this giveaway is for Australian readers only. So, Aussies looking for great skincare - what are you waiting for? :)

Edit: Trilogy's Rosehip Oil Antioxidant+ just made it onto the Harper’s Bazaar Beauty Hot 100 this year - the third year in a row. It's great to see an Aussie brand doing so well overseas!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

What does benzoyl peroxide do?

Benzoyl peroxide (or BP, as it's affectionately known) is one of those products that seems to work for everyone. It's a topical treatment (cream) that's an essential component of many acne treatment regimens (Dan Kern's, ProActiv, Paula Begoun just to name a few). But what does it do, and how is it most effective?

Benzoyl peroxide is a peroxide, much like hydrogen peroxide, which is the peroxide of peroxide blondes. In chemistry, peroxide refers to the two oxygen atoms linked together. This is an unstable bond which readily breaks up into free radicals:

At the moment, benzoyl peroxide's mechanism of action is not completely understood, but it's thought that the free radicals kill bacteria that contributes to acne, Propionibacterium acnes, by interacting with their cell walls (their "skin"). Additionally, it seems to encourage peeling, which helps stop pores from getting clogged, which is the first part of the acne-forming process.

However, benzoyl peroxide has a number of not-so-nice side effects, including dermatitis (either from irritation which gets better after about a week, although about 1% of people can have a true allergic reaction to it) and bleaching of fabric and hair.

Benzoyl peroxide can be commonly found in concentrations between 2.5 and 10%. To minimise side effects, lower concentrations can be used. A few studies have shown 2.5% benzoyl peroxide was as effective as stronger 5% and 10% formulations. Additionally, combining BP and antibiotics (e.g. erythromycin and clindamycin) can be a good way to increase effectiveness without also increasing reactions and antibiotic resistance.


HH Tan. Topical antibacterial treatments for acne vulgaris: comparative review and guide to selection. Am J Clin Dermatol 2004, 5, 79.

JJ Leyden. A review of the use of combination therapies for the treatment of acne vulgaris
J Am Acad Dermatol 2003, 49, S200.

GA Taylor, AR Shalita. Benzoyl peroxide-based combination therapies for acne vulgaris: a comparative review. Am J Clin Dermatol 2004, 5, 261.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Artsy Wednesday: Print or pattern

Artsy Wednesday time! This week the theme is prints/patterns. Since ikat is everywhere these days, I went with that, but I wanted to try something a bit different from the ikat manis I've seen around:

This was inspired by a cheap bag I recently bought from Australian basics chain store Cotton On. I've been using it to lug around all my dance gear.

I started wth a base of ulta3 Lily White to make sure the colours really popped. Then I used a thin brush to paint in guides with Sally Hansen Black Out. Using ulta3 Sunset Coral, Sally Hansen Sun Kissed, Models Own Purple Passion (from the lovely ilexica), W7 Neon Yellow and ulta3 Mermaid Green, I filled in the colours, then added more Black Out to define the black lines and dotted some Lily White on to clean up some lines. It could just be my laziness talking, but I think this looks good a little messy!

What do you think of the ikat trend? Awesome, or can't wait for it to be over?

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

7 Days of Eyeshadow - Part 2

I've been mucking about with makeup/facepaint, and here are a couple of the more outlandish eyeshadow looks I tried. Again, please ignore the lashes, I got overexcited and forgot the mascara:

1. Blue glam/alien/wtf look - This turned out better than I expected. I pretty much just dabbed on blue everywhere and hoped that it'd look ok. Usually blue and I don't play so well together, thanks to my very shallow blue-green veins, which blue clothes tend to bring out... hurray for blush, which helps me avoid the zombie look:

2. Purple/gold - this is the look I tried to recreate for a recent FOTD. I'm a big fan of this colour combo, it seems to work really well with my skin and eyes.

What do you think? 

 Part 1, with less scary looks, is here.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Lightning bolt nail art

Happy new season everyone! Today I'm showing you the nail art I rocked for a good 5 days a while ago. I posted this on Instagram when I first wore it, but I've had such a backlog of nail photos that I haven't gotten around to posting it here til now... lucky there's Polish or Perish or I'd never post all the manis I do! ;)

I followed this tutorial by Nailside for this mani. Nailside is one of my favourite blogs for nail art designs - her bold graphic manis are right up my alley! This requires 2 rounds of taping.

Bottom to top layers (cuticle to free edge):
Base: Sally Hansen Black Out + Revlon Grape Fizz (purple flaky, smells like grape)
Middle: ulta3 Envy (rosy gold foil, very opaque)
Top: A-England Lady of the Lake (muted purple scattered holo - my first A-England, still haven't worn this on its own!)

While I love the crisp straight lines taping gives, it's a bit of a pain to cut up all the tape, and to wait for each layer to dry properly.

I've gotten the hang of tape manis now - the key for me is to paint each layer quickly and thinly with opaque shades, and pull the tape off towards the wet side.

Extra credit nerdery: Cutting the tape so you get the same angles is easy if you use high school geometry - "alternate angles on parallel lines are equal", so if you cut your tape diagonally to form a "Z", the angles (θ in the diagram below) will be the same. Who would've thought that would ever come in handy!

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Essence Gel Eyeliner Midnight in Paris - review and swatches

So I mentioned here when I posted my Die Antwoord nails that I recently did a ninja-themed dance performance to their song "Enter the Ninja". Despite performing it twice, I didn't manage to get a good photo of my makeup, so these pictures that will have to do:

All the black is Essence Gel Eyeliner in Midnight in Paris. This is my second gel eyeliner, and I'm definitely jumping on the bandwagon - longer staying power than pencil, more blendable when wet and easier to handle than liquid. Having heard good things about this budget eyeliner, I used it basically as facepaint. The result? Still perfect after nervously shaking backstage for 6 hours, performing under bright lights with lots of upside down hair flicking moves. Interesting, as I was getting prepared in the bathroom, I looked across at our row of 5 preening girls and we were all using gel eyeliners. It's definitely the longest lasting, smudge proofiest option!

Essence Gel Eyeliner dries very matte, and very black. For a novice like me, this was very easy to appl in short strokes with a slanted eyeliner brush. I also used this as my eyeliner for my "Recreate Yourself" FOTD here. Back-of-hand swatch:


- Super cheap ($5.95 for a 3 mL pot)
- Richly pigmented
- Easy to use, blendable
- Long lasting and smudgeproof


- Limited colour selection (black, brown and silver in the standard line), and often only 2-3 of each colour on display
- These aren't sealed in the store, so you need to check each pot for finger dents. I had to go back to Target a few times to snag an untouched pot.

Essence Gel Eyeliner retails for $5.95 for 3 mL and is available in Target and Priceline.

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