Review and Swatches: Kanebo Media Blush OR-1

Kanebo Media Blush OR-1

Kanebo Media Blush OR-1

I’m a late bloomer when it comes to Japanese makeup and skincare. I can’t say I’ve ever been into them. One reason is not being able to decipher product ingredients and technical information. Another is the sometimes nonsensical names that do not lend technical credibility. I mean, Girly Whipped Cheek? (Lavshuca, a cheek tint). Powderless Liquid? (Kanebo Kate, a liquid to powder foundation finish, I think, which you’d think is powder-more, not less? Unless it’s a liquid foundation that lets you skip powder? See my quandary?) Medicated Acne Emollient Supplizer? (Shiseido Ettusais. I’m not even..).

But indecipherable names aside, I know there are some great products out there that I’m missing if I don’t join the fray. I mean, my most sacred oil control apparatus is a Japanese miracle: Biore UV Perfect Face Milk, a sunblock that absorbs sebum like there’s no tomorrow.

So, Japanese makeup. One day, I saw an online deal for Kanebo Media blush, which has some very good reviews online. It’s not too expensive, and there is the color OR-1 which seems like a nice soft orange that I am missing from my stash. All my orange blushes are divas.

However, when the blush arrived, it might as well be PC (peach). Which? Actually works. I like. It is a peachy pink that I do not have a dupe of amongst my 80+ blushes. It will take serious effort to overdo, but is a really effortless exertion for a statement-lip look. There is a pronounced shimmer that does not translate to the cheeks (my problem with Nars Orgasm and the like).

Kanebo Media Blush OR-1, swatched heavily on the bottom and blended out at top.

Kanebo Media Blush OR-1, swatched heavily on the bottom and blended out at top, taken in the morning sunlight.

Bottom line: with its relatively cheap price (about $10 online at Ebay, Icibankao, etc),  a soft and usable brush, requirement of minimal effort, affinity with statement lips (OR-1, that is), compact size and transparent packaging for ease of color selection, there’s not really a con to trying one. However, I won’t be picking up more colors from this line as they’d be too light for my skin and I am not missing pale pinks/reds.

The pictures below were taken at different days, on different time of day, with natural lighting, so excuse the wide variation in skin color. But this really is a versatile blush color.

Kanebo Media Blush OR-1 with NYX Morocco (left), MAC Viva Glam Nicki (middle) and a random lipstick that looks lovely but for the life of me, I can’t remember. Might be an Illamasqua cream blush with some lipgloss….

Review and Swatches: Milani Lip Intense in Pink Rave, Fiery Coral, Violet Addict and Red Extreme

Milani Lip Intense Pink Rave, Fiery Coral, Violet Addict, Red Extreme (with Milani Bella Rosa baked blush)

Milani Lip Intense Pink Rave, Fiery Coral, Violet Addict, Red Extreme (with Milani Bella Rosa baked blush, click to enlarge)

Milani is not really a household makeup name even in the US, but it really should be more widely known. Everything I’ve tried, have been very good, and I love most of all their baked blushes. I’ve also tried the regular blush, the chubby eyeshadow liner and a lipstick, and they’re all pretty good; certainly value for money. When I saw these liquid lipstick swatches online, I did not hesitate to order all four shades.

Milani promises high shine and longevity with these. I would say both claims are warranted; they are not the longest-lasting, eye-blinding thing around, but they do pop. Count on a bright, saturated color for a couple of hours, and an even, gradual fading several hours thereafter. All will leave a very pretty stain.

Milani Lip Intense Red Extreme topped with MAC Viva Glam Rihanna Lipglass

Milani Lip Intense Red Extreme topped with MAC Viva Glam Rihanna Lipglass (click to enlarge)

My favorite has got to be Violet Addict; it is such a bright, true orchid that is not really easy to find. NYX Prague practically looks vampy in comparison (it is not). Pink Rave is a bright and lovely fuchsia variation, though not awfully unique. Fiery Coral is NOT a coral, at least on me (and I’ve never seen it as a coral on anybody in the google image universe!). It is a bright, neon, blue pink that I actually was pretty successful in capturing in the swatches below. On the lips it looks like that, I just wasn’t able to capture it as well as the swatch. MAC Viva Glam Nicki looks practically pastel in comparison. Finally, Red Extreme is a neutral red, no hint of orange and not too blue. The least unique of the four, but if you are missing a nice red in your stash, this one will not disappoint as it will hold its own even against a legend like Hourglass Icon (which is slightly bluer and more matte).

Edit: Immediately below is a better picture, taken in late morning sun light. MAC Nicki here is with several passes to show its full potential (it is most certainly NOT a pastel). The two pictures thereafter are the older ones, for reference.

Milani Lip Intense in comparison (click to enlarge)

Milani Lip Intense in comparison

milani lip intense swatches4

Comparison with others in my stash; will need to re-do these as the resolution is really crap. Sorry!

Here, Red Extreme is topped with MAC Viva Glam Rihanna Lipglass

Here, Red Extreme is topped with MAC Viva Glam Rihanna Lipglass

I very rarely have dryness issues with lipsticks, and these ones are no exception. Of course, I rotate mine so that I never use one color more than 2 days in a row, so that may be the reason. There is a faint plastic-y taste and smell that I don’t find bothersome. Overall, very happy with the purchase!


Eye-candy Alert: One-Woman Fashion Show Commences!

William, Kate and George Touch Down New Zealand

William, Kate and George Touch Down New Zealand

I am a fan of Kate Middleton’s fashion choices, so I’m excited to be treated to another one-woman fashion show. We’re in for a treat! Some sources I like to stalk: the Cambridges’ website (though usually not terribly up-to-date), ye olde bastion of English chatter, The MirrorHello Magazine UK, and where Kate groupies congregate.

First off, the red ensemble (by Catherine Walker) is a nice surprise. Love the whole Jackie Kennedy vibe. But though the material seems heavy (it is entering autumn in the southern hemisphere, I believe), it is still prone to gusts. What is it with this girl and airport wind? Anyway, I think we’ll be seeing the coat again.

Second off, the expression on the baby! Understandable since it should be around 2 or 3 am UK time!

The One that Almost Got Away: Nars Coeur Battant

Nars Coeur Battant

Nars Coeur Battant

There’s no fate like makeup fate. I had ordered Nars Coeur Battant when it came out last year, but long story short, a few months later I found out the order did not go through. By that time, it was too late to get it at a normal price — some websites were offering it at mark-ups and I just couldn’t justify the spending. Lo and behold, a few weeks ago a barely-used one turned up in a local makeup forum, and voila! My precioussh is here….

Coeur Battant is a standout amongst the Nars blushes I own (Exhibit A, Taj Mahal, Cactus Flower, all legendary cheek adornments) and have tried (a few others). It is true to color (a bright magenta), hella pigmented, long lasting, matte and overall just pretty-fying. The swatches below were taken in the morning (with Milani Bella Rosa, which arrived around the same time — reviews to follow). I also could not resist putting on a swipe on my bare-just-jumped-outta-bed face.

Nars Coeur Battant (left) and Milani Bella Rosa

Nars Coeur Battant on bare face

Nars Coeur Battant on bare face

I later cleaned the bright swatches with the almighty Muji cleansing oil. It was hours later, during lunch, that I saw a pink blob still remained on my arm. Initially I wasn’t sure which was the culprit, but upon comparison with the morning photos, it’s Coeur Battant! It’s a persistent one, this, just like moi. Francois should really make this one permanent.

nars coeur battant

A Milani Haul and a Current Favorite Daily Nail Polish

Milani Lip Intense Liquid Color

Milani Lip Intense Liquid Color in (left to right) 01 Red Extreme, 03 Fiery Coral, 04 Violet Addict and 02 Pink Rave; and baked blush in Bella Rosa

My little Milani haul just arrived today. So excited! I’ve swatched the blush (baked blush in Bella Rosa) and it is a STUNNER. I also took one of the Lip Intense for a spin at the mall today, #02 Pink Rave. It did not last through dinner, but there was a dark stain that was even and a lovely berry color. So far, so good, and I’ll be playing with them this weekend.

Another favorite is OPI Deutsch You Want Me, Baby? from the Germany Collection, a favorite of mine since its release in the Fall 2012. Not too edgy and out there, but certainly not a boring mauve or pink. It is my go to when I want to appear professional without sacrificing color. A plus is that it is opaque in one layer, like the picture below, day four into the manicure (with OPI Nail Envy Matte as base coat and Seche Vite as top coat). The lasting power is above average even compared to my other OPIs.

Have a great weekend!

OPI Deutsch You Want Me Baby

OPI Deutsch You Want Me Baby

NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams: 18 shades swatched!

nyx soft matte lip creams

I love the NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams. The first that I tried was Stockholm, I think. I liked it so much that I got (and kept) its sisters Amsterdam, Addis Ababa, Antwerp, San Paulo, Milan and Istanbul, swatched below. I did not much like Monte Carlo (too vampy dark), Abu Dhabi and London (too dark), Tokyo (too light) and did not keep them, though I had them all at one time.

NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams Amsterdam, Antwerp, Addis Ababa, San Paulo (Sao Paulo), Milan, Istanbul, Stockholm

NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams Amsterdam, Antwerp, Addis Ababa, San Paulo (Sao Paulo), Milan, Istanbul, Stockholm

The swatches below were taken at different times as I added to my collection. I also didn’t like Buenos Aires and Sydney; there were both too pale for my relatively dark mauve-y beige lips. I still can use Buenos Aires, but Sydney is just plain weird on me. Istanbul is the palest I can go in terms of pink; beyond that it is not a good sight.

NYX Lip Products:  Antwerp, Strawberry Daiquiri (matte lipstik), San Paulo, Buenos Aires, Sydney, Milan, Istanbul.

NYX Lip Products: Antwerp, Strawberry Daiquiri (matte lipstik), San Paulo, Buenos Aires, Sydney, Istanbul, Milan

The recently released nine colors are overall pretty nice. Transylvania (too dark), Cairo (too light), Cannes and Zurich (both too dark) won’t work for me, but the others definitely will. Moreover, they’re all pretty different than the ones I already have. My favorite is Morocco (miss-spelt in the picture, sorry). I also really like Prague (radiant orchid being the 2014 color of the year) and Athens (a lighter ‘nude’ color than Stockholm).

NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams, 13 colors swatched.

NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams: thirteen in this picture

Bottom line: do I like them? Yes I do, very much, if you can’t already tell.  The colors are so vibrant yet can go on sheer or as stain if you wish; the coverage is excellent; the scent is pleasant to my nose (unlike other NYX lip products, most of which I can’t tolerate) and the price is just right for the quality. The lasting power is relatively good, and they’re not particularly drying on me unless I wear it several days in a row from dawn til dusk.

Overall, I highly recommend these. If you are medium-toned, try Stockholm and see if you agree with the formula. If yes, then I would highly recommend San Paulo (still conservative for office use but not boring), Morocco (bright!), Istanbul (the best complement for smokey-eyes) and Milan (another office-friendly color).

nyx morocco and istanbul

Nyx Morrocco (left) and Istanbul

NXY Prague

NXY Prague








Study: Melanin Protects Against Skin Cancer

The tropics -- you'd be crazy to spend life indoors.

The tropics — you’d be crazy to spend life indoors.

When they come to Asia, a foreigner from the west will quickly notice the local obsession with making skin white. Whiter. And one very popular method in  is suppressing the production of melanin. Note exhibit one, exhibit two.

A recent study by researchers at the Institute of Cancer Research in Britain confirms (other studies) that melanin is actually beneficial for the skin. Via The Economist: melanin in black skin, by absorbing ultraviolet light which might otherwise damage DNA and cause mutations, protects against skin cancer.
The bottom line? Suppressing the production of melanin is not a good idea, if you are subject to an abundance of UV rays.

Other studies have also supported this finding. The US Center for Disease Control cites the incidence of skin cancer amongst Americans and found that “in 2010, among men, white men had the highest rate of getting melanoma of the skin, followed by American Indian/Alaska Native, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, and black men. Among women, white women had the highest rate of getting melanoma of the skin, followed by Hispanic, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian/Pacific Islander, and black women”

Granted, much of the melanin suppressants contain sunscreen, so they purport to still protect against UV rays. However, there is an evolutionary reason why we Malays have medium shade skin. Not fair, not negroid. If you are going to go against mother nature, you should probably also change where you live or maybe your lifestyle (and I guess people have, by staying indoors). I for one, will not be going against the evolutionary accomplishments of my ancestors over thousands of years living in the tropics. Melanin? Yes, please!

Nail of the Week: Teals, Gold and Other Glitters

Orly Teal Unreal and Cirque Colors Helios

Orly Teal Unreal and Cirque Colors Helios (click to ENLARGE!)

Anyone relying on my photos for accurate swatches is a fool. That fact is most apparent to me today, as I tried incessantly to take an accurate photo of Orly ‘Teal Unreal’ nail polish. And then I just gave up.

Orly Teal Unreal and Cirque Colors Helios

Orly Teal Unreal and Cirque Colors Helios

Teal Unreal is a bright teal — blue infused green. So obviously, the photos are too blue; in real live Teal Unreal is greener.  I’ve been really loving the combination of teal and gold lately. The gold here is Cirque Colors ‘Helios’ — I will need a back up of this bottle as mine is running unexpectedly low.

Another version of this mani was Essie ‘Go Overboard’ (with Helios), a darker teal. I forgot to take pictures until day 5 or 6 so, scusa the chippies. The one accent nail is with Orly ‘Sparkling Garbage’, a multicolor glitter that I’ve also been loving — except some variation with this in the next few months.

Essie Go Overboard, Cirque Colors Helios, Orly Sparkling Garbage

Essie Go Overboard, Cirque Colors Helios, Orly Sparkling Garbage (click to enlarge!)

The swatches below actually reflect the colors much better. Go Overboard is a smidge darker than in real life, but the tone is correct. That is a dot of Sparkling Garbage over the teals.

essie go overboard orly teal unreal sparkling garbage2

The Happiest Oscars Ever and “Let it Go!”

Source: Walt Disney Animation Studios

I watched the full 2014 Oscars here last night, and it was a truly entertaining and inspiring event. The most memorable moment for me is discovering ‘Frozen’, Disney’s new(ish?) animated film, through the powerful voice of Idina Menzel, singing the Oscar-winning track from the movie. LOVE Disney films. Having heard the original version though, I wish the Oscar version wasn’t so fast-paced that it’s hard to follow the powerful lyric.

EDIT: the joyful jibes of the Oscars continued with ‘Let it Go being played on classroom musical instruments on The Tonight Show. I am not an avid use of online social media because my god, so many stupid people are on there! BUT I have to admit the viral online good and gaffes of Oscar 2014 have been making me smile for a few days now.

Source: The Tonight Show

The best dressed of the Oscars? Jennifer Garner is my pick. In a sea of ivory lace and sparkle, she stood out. The hair, the makeup, the swinging dress, everything perfect!

Source: Hello Magazine

Review and swatches: Cargo ‘Key Largo’ blush and MAC Prep+Prime BB Cream

Cargo Key Largo powder blush and MAC Prep+Prime BB Cream

Cargo Key Largo powder blush and MAC Prep+Prime BB Cream

I’ve been loving a couple of new makeup lately, the Cargo ‘Key Largo’ powder blush (didn’t these used to be called beach blush?) and MAC Prep+Prime BB Cream (the liquid version).

The Cargo blushes have achieve legendary status amongst beauty addicts and the beauty blogosphere, but I wasn’t too impressed with my first one that I did not bother to buy another. But a recent Hautelook sale brought me ‘Key Largo’ which looks absolutely ravishing online that I must have it. It does not disappoint although time will tell if I am keeping this, as I have several blushes already yielding the same color when applied on the cheeks.

I am also not a fan of BB creams in general for various reasons that evolved over the many years of observing the BB cream hype. I still think ‘BB Cream’ as a marketing jargon rather than a functional product category but I’ve found myself not as averse to them as previously. In my mind, however, they are tinted moisturizers.

With that said, I tried the MAC Prep+Prime BB Cream (the liquid version, not the compact) at a MAC counter recently. It was in the early evening after a tiring full day of left-brain activity. My makeup has faded here and there, and I let the beauty associate put the bb cream on my face (shade medium plus, applied with the MAC 130 brush, which I’m now contemplating to get). Voila, my face was instantly brightened  and smoothed. Alas, I went away with a tube, and have been using it almost exclusively for more than a week.

I use the shade medium plus, and it matches my facial skin tone relatively well although it is slightly darker compared to my neck. However, two of my favorite face primers/bases have a slight white cast, so he end result is good. What I like most about the MAC Prep+prime BB is the oil control, which is excellent amongst tinted moisturizers and foundations I’ve ever tried. Shade comparison with other foundations is below.

Comparison swatches

Comparison swatches

The coverage is sheer but buildable to medium, and the finish is quite natural. The strange thing is that I’m able to coax stellar performance out of my tub of Chanel Universal Loose Powder when used with this BB cream, which I have not been able to do by pairing it with other foundations/bb creams. Until now, I’ve  been one of those people quite puzzled by the hype surrounding this  powder, but now I understand – the powder does set and prolong makeup.

I am currently trying out Paula’s Choice Resist Triple Action Dark Spot Eraser 2% BHA Gel, so my skin is  bit raw and plenty red. But below you can find the evolution from bare skin, to a layer of the MAC Prep+Prime BB Cream (applied with a skunk brush), two layers, and the finished result with the Cargo Key Largo Blush and Chanel Universal Loose Powder (in shade 30). It is quite a natural yet sufficiently polished everyday-look for me, which takes less than 10 minutes to achieve (including a smudged taupe smokey eye).

Left to right: bare face with a swipe of MAC Prep+Prime BB Cream; with one layer; with two layers.

Left to right: bare face with a swipe of MAC Prep+Prime BB Cream; with one layer; with two layers.


Done! With Cargo Key Largo powder blush and Chanel Universal Powder shade 30

Done! With Cargo Key Largo powder blush and Chanel Universal Powder shade 30