Review: Illamasqua Hydra Veil Rehydrating Gel

illamasqua hydra veil2As an Illamasqua fan, after having tried various products, the one remaining item I really, really wanted to try was the Hydra Veil. Described as “part hydrator, part primer”, Hydra Veil essentially collapses moisturizer and primer into one step. I love me some time saving, especially when it comes to makeup and skincare. So when the chance to grab the Hydra Veil at about half price came across my way, go grabbing I did.

Now I know this product was not a good fit for me right from the starts, because my skin is oily, and this is not a product that claims to control oil. But for the sake of research, I have to try this product which is one of Illamasqua’s flagship product. I thought I could just layer something else atop this to control the oil. The list of ingredients for this product can be seen here.

The format of the product is interesting; it is a gel, but rather than put it into a squeeze tube form, Illamasqua places it in a pot, albeit furnished with a spatula. That is a strike against hygiene and convenience, in my opinion. The feel on the skin is nice and gives a slight cooling effect. It absorbs right away, so that’s a plus when one is in a rush. While it does not smooth skin as well as silicone-based products (e.g. the famed Smashbox primers or even the Monistat anti chaffing gel), it does the job of evening out the skin’s surface bumps quite well, I thought. Oil control is indeed very poor, even non-existent.

Bottom line: not for oily-skin gals, but those with normal and dry skin should at least give this a try if the price does not deter them.


Color Palette: Wine on the lids and lips

I’ve talked a few times about Illamasqua ‘Havoc‘ liquid eyeliner, quite possible my beloved eyeliner of all time. A recent color palette love is Havoc lining the eyes with a glossy wine colored lips (a mixture of red matte lipstick+eyeliner+gloss). I often forgo blush with this look. Easy, peasy, quick.

illamasqua havoc pllus lip mix of eyeliner and red

Color Palette: Sixties Inspired?

Androgen – Forbidden Flower – Delicate Hummingbird – Blue Roan

There’s a color palette that I’m loving the past few months. It’s a combination of mauvey purple on the lids (I used Rouge Bunny Rouge ‘Delicate Hummingbird’), with a navy eyeliner (Rouge Bunny Rouge ‘Blue Roan’), bubble gum pink on the cheeks (Illamasqua ‘Androgen’ which translates warmer on my yellow tones) and peachy beige lips (Edward Bess ‘Forbidden Flower’, as close as can get as my HG nude beige color). It’s a fun color palette that is still work-appropriate.

fotd rbr blue roan delicate hummingbird

Brand Round-up: Illamasqua


brand round up illamasquaJakartan makeup addicts are all abuzz for the opening of Illamasqua in town next week. No more squinting through online swatches or a frantic visit to an overseas counter amidst business trips – now we can ogle the goodies up close in leisure.

Due to its frequent online sales and generous international shipping policy (free for purchases over £50) on the Illamasqua UK website, over the past few years I’ve actually been able to try quite a few items from the brand. My take on all the products I’ve tried is below, listed according to level of satisfaction from highest to lowest (and numbered in the picture above).

1. Precision Ink Eyeliner

My favorite Illamasqua item by far is the Precision Ink Eyeliner, especially the color Havoc, a dark plum which has become something of a must have for me. You’ll always find it in my makeup travel pouch as it is handy-sized, and the color is versatile for both day or night. It is long lasting, non-smudging and very easy to use. Wisdom, a golden olive, is also a favorite.

2. Cream Blusher

Illamasqua makes my favorite cream blush texture: creamy, slippery, easy to blend, sparkling colors and great for the lips too! They are not the longest-lasting cream blush around (Bobbi Brown Pot Rouges or MAC Cream Color Bases last longer on me), but they are such a pleasure to use even on my oily skin. The finish is somewhat dewy but really natural. I have it in Dixie, Rude and Seduce. Recommended!

3. Nail Polish

I only have got 3 Illamasqua nail polish (Boosh, Rampage and Muse), not because I don’t want more, but shipping is more expensive for these. All three colors are fantastically opaque, almost self-leveling, and long lasting. This is probably the item I would most likely buy locally now that the brand’s in town.

4. Liquid Metal

This was the product that introduced me to the brand. I tried a friend’s gold liquid metal and fell in love. The texture is out of this world: thin yet creamy and smooth, and application so, so easy. It’s quite expensive though, but when there was a sale on a palette of 4 liquid metals, I quickly purchased one. I don’t use it often because it’s such a glam product for day-to-day use, but every time I dab my finger in the pot, I’m blown away by the texture and opaqueness of color, see for yourself in the picture below. The name ‘liquid metal’ is so apt. This is really something you have to experience first-hand to appreciate. They’re also great as eyeshadow base though not really extending your shadows’ life by that much, in my experience. One other thing: I must have had this item for at least 2 years, but the creamy-ness is still the same as the day I got it. Ah-mah-zing.

illamasqua liquid metal palette
Liquid metal palette (left to right): Enrapture, Surge, Electrum, Phenomena

5. Fine Pencil

The Illamasqua Fine Pencil is for eyes, lips, face and body. I have it in Peace, a dark brown which is pretty good for brows, dark enough and not reddish. The texture is a bit too hard for around the immediate eye area, so brows are all I use it for, and for this it excels: long lasting, great color, easy to use.

6. Sealing Gel

This is sort of a mixing medium to turn your eyeshadows into eyeliners. And let me tell ya, once you mix the eyeshadow with a little of this Sealing Gel, the shadow won’t budge until you take it off. It also works with other eyeshadow brands. A small but powerful tool for your arsenal.

7. Cream Pigment

The Illamasqua Cream Pigment is designed for use on the face, eyes, lips and body. I have it in Androgen, a cult color it seems, that I mainly use as blush. Such a great color with a ’60s Twiggy vibe that is long lasting and true to color on cheeks. It’s not as creamy as the cream blush and slightly harder to blend, but the result of Androgen is so worth it. It’s also great as an eyeshadow base, though due to its dryness, takes a bit of dabbing to put on.

8. Eyeshadow

I bought Illamasqua eyeshadow in Apex mainly to use as blush. It is a rich orange red with a matte finish, and the texture is so, so soft, even softer than the powder blushers.  If I have a money tree, I’d get more Illamasqua eyeshadows, it’s really very good.

9. Freak Perfume

I forgot to include it in the family picture, but Freak is Illamasqua’s signature fragrance. I have several in tester vial form which came free with my purchases. I love the scent for parties and indoor cold weather use. It’s especially nice because no one else in town uses this, though that may change with the arrival of the brand in town. Oh well.

10. Powder Blusher

The Powder Blusher in my opinion is so-so, not very special. A bit chalky and powdery, and the lasting power is just average. I have tried a few but only kept two colors: Tremble,  a bubble gum pink which looks strangely natural on me, and Lover, an apricot color. Unless the brand releases a color I really, really love the color, I probably won’t be getting anymore powder blushers. I also have to mention that the powder blushers are prone to breaking. My Tremble broke during air travel, though I put it in my carry on bag (with laptop, tablet etc., so I definitely was very careful with the bag). I’ve heard people also experience the same thing, some having the blush broken even at home. I think it’s due to the fact that the blush is not dense enough, so there are pockets of air in the powder, so when you move the blush, the powder also has room to move and that leads to the whole blush breaking in the pan.

11. Skin Base Foundation.

I reviewed this specifically here. It’s an ok product, potentially great and worth looking into if  you have dry skin.

12. Intense Lipgloss

The Intense Lipgloss is one of my first items from Illamasqua. I just fell in love with the color Bella Donna, a rich berry pink. It’s more of a liquid lipstick than a lipgloss. I also have it in Temper, an orange red. They are a bit sticky, though not as sticky as the MAC lipglass, and the lasting power is average. Unless there’s a color you really love, I’d recommend you look elsewhere for your liquid lip color.

13. Masquara

It’s a black mascara. The black color is nice, and you’ll definitely get the thickening effect. But it comes out a bit clumpy from the tube, and you really need to wait until it’s completely dry before moving your eyes, otherwise it smudges. I’d give this a miss.

14. Sheer Lipgloss

Nothing to rave about, a very standard product that I have in the color Divine, a transparent pink which I often use atop pink and red lipstick to give it a bit of a dimension.

15. Lipstick

Now, I thought I still have it but after much mucking around, I could not find Sangers, a rich red lipstick. I must have sold it or given it away. To be honest, the formula was a bit dry, and there was nothing special about the finish. The red of Sangers is quite opaque though, so if you’re looking for that specific shade of red, may worth a look.

16. Cream Foundation

I used to have one, but it really was too heavy and thick for my oily skin. The coverage could be excellent though, and if your skin is dry and you’re thinking of trying cream foundations, might worth a look. But there are better cream foundations in the market at similar prices I think, Bobbi Brown and Edward Bess come to mind. So I sold mine.

17. Light Liquid Foundation

No kidding about the ‘light’ part; given my penchant for full coverage foundations, this was like water to me. Absolutely no coverage. No SPF and not even that moisturizing. What is the point, I wonder. Sold.

There you have it, my round up. Illamasqua, welcome to Jakarta!

Review and Swatches: Rouge Bunny Rouge Blue Roan

RBR blue roan eyeliner3 illamasqua havoc wisdomThe recent Hautelook sale made the Rouge Bunny Rouge (RBR) Nocturnal Ink Satin Eyeliner slightly more affordable, so I ordered Blue Roan. It’s a dark navy blue felt-tipped pen. Previously, my favorite felt tipped liners came from Illamasqua: Precision Ink eyeliner in Havoc (a dark plum, on my second tube and 2 back-ups in my stash!) and Wisdom (a golden olive, first tube and one back up), always purchased during the frequent sales as the one they’re having RIGHT NOW! The Rouge Bunny Rouge felt liner is comparable, at least from my experience with Blue Roan.

As can be seen below, the RBR liner tip is very similar to Illamasqua’s, which is my preferred form for felt liner: long and pencil tipped. Blue Roan indeed gives the promised satin finish, and the staying power is excellent. As with these type liners, you need to give them time to set before moving your eyelids too far up to prevent smudging your upper lids. Flicking the cat-eye with these type liners is relatively easier.

One con of the RBR liner is the cap shuts down with a click, and can be taken off too easily. I personally would not be confident bringing this on my travels. The Illamasqua liner is a screw up one, so I will stick with these when traveling.

RBR top and Illamasqua bottom
RBR top and Illamasqua bottom
Top to bottom: Blue Roan, Havoc, Wisdom
Top to bottom: Blue Roan, Havoc, and two stripes of Wisdom (thicker line and smudged which is how I often wear it in lieu of eyeshadow, and thinner to line).
Rouge Bunny Rouge Blue Roan
Rouge Bunny Rouge Blue Roan

Review and Swatches: Illamasqua Skin Base Foundation Shade 9

illamasqua skin base foundation shade 09 b

I must have 5-6 foundations in rotation at the moment, no to mention bb and cc creams galore. However, I couldn’t resist when a chance to buy the Illamasqua Skin Base Foundation at a discount came. Regularly £32, I was able to snatch one for £21 inclusive of shipping from ASOS. Given that this foundation is something I’ve been curious to try, I pressed the buy button and so far, no regrets.

What. According to Illamasqua,

“This cult blendable, medium coverage formula primes, hydrates and controls shine in one. Creating a perfect finish, this is the ultimate ‘skin realism’ foundation.”

Well, that’s a pretty tall order, and calling your own a ‘cult’ product is a bit much. However, I’ve learned to take brand’s hype with lemons, considering as a direction of what the product should be, rather than what it is. The ingredients include mineral oil, various silicones, glycerine and some vitamin c. For a complete list, please check the Illamasqua’s website.

Shade. The only thing I was a bit hesitant of was the shade. After poring over online swatches, I chose No. 9, described as olive yellow undertone. It turns out to be one of the best foundation shade match I’ve ever had. My face is about MAC NC 30 but my neck area is a couple of shades lighter (about NC 20), so I always aim to match my neck. As you can see below, No. 9 is very close to my neck shade.

Texture, Coverage and Finish. I would describe the texture of the Skin Base Foundation as medium thick. It is not runny but also not thick (my thickest liquid foundation would probably be the Kat von D Lock-It Tattoo foundation). Coverage for me can go from sheer to full coverage, although the later will really result in very obvious layers. I found that the best result is to aim for slightly less than medium coverage, and compensate with a thicker finishing powder which also tones down the dewy-ness and gets me the matte finish that I like.

Lasting Power. The lasting power of this foundation is quite good, though on its own oil control is slightly lower than my favorite foundations. Frankly, I’ve ceased to rely on foundations for oil control, so this is not such a big con in my book.

Overall, I like the Skin Base Foundation and concur with the glowing reviews. Illamasqua says this foundation is inspired by Asian bb creams, and I see what they mean. I would say though that in terms of coverage, the Skin Base Foundation wins. Asian bb creams, however, usually have sun protection built in, which the Skin Base Foundation lacks. This may be a good thing for some people, since there is no white cast and extra oiliness/heaviness.

Left: one sheer layer on bare skin (no moisturizer etc); Rgh: topped with blush and loose powder. Note that the finish with or without moisturizer does not vary much. Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge
Illamasqua Skin Base Foundation Shade 9 splotched all over moisturized bare face
Illamasqua Skin Base Foundation Shade 9 splotched all over moisturized bare face
After foundation and blush, in medium coverage before finishing powder (note the un-matte finish on my oily skin, which necessitates a mattifying powder)
After foundation and blush, in medium coverage before finishing powder
Still Illamasqua Skin Base Foundation Shade 9, but in different lighting. This would be lower than medium coverage with a heavy dose of Chanel Universal Loose Powder (shade 30) plus blush (from a Tarte blush palette). This is my preferred coverage and finish with Skin Base Foundation
Still Illamasqua Skin Base Foundation Shade 9, but in different lighting. This would be lower than medium coverage with a light dusting of Milk of Magnesia on the t-zone underneath to mattify and heavy dose of Chanel Universal Loose Powder (shade 30) on top plus blush (from a Tarte blush palette). This is my preferred coverage and finish with Skin Base Foundation
illamasqua skin base foundation shade 09 c
Application ala tinted moisturizer/bb cream, i.e on bare skin (no moisturizer, primer etc) (left); plus loose powder and blush (middle and right)






Ye Olde Dog and Her New Tricks


Tools with which I un-layer (L-R): Guerlain Parure Extreme Foundation liuid, Guerlain Parure Gold Foundation compact, Illamasqua Blush Up Brush, Real Techniques Expert Face Brush
Tools with which I un-layer (L-R): Guerlain Parure Extreme Foundation liuid, Guerlain Parure Gold Foundation compact, Illamasqua Blush Up Brush, Real Techniques Expert Face Brush

This old dog is no stranger to new tricks, and here is a couple she’s learning to do recently.

Doing away with makeup layers

As Cara said, it’s curious the way we put on makeup: layer on top of layer, on top of another layer. Primer, then foundation, contour/highlight powder, color (blush/eyeshadow), etc. So any patch of your facial skin could well have 6 or more layers of products on (including moisturizer, sunblock, finishing powder, etc).

What is the alternative? I’ve seen Lisa Eldrige do it, and Cara has developed a system for it. It is the precise application of makeup only where it is needed. For example, if that is an area where you contour, go ahead and put the contour color directly (whether it is a foundation in a darker shade, or a contour powder, or others). Where you need to highlight? But directly the highlight color (instead of foundation, then highlight color). This is not really an easy approach when you’re used to the conventional layering of products, and to be effective you really need to know where to put what, when.

I’ve been trying this method for a few weeks now, and the result is…. ok. It takes me more than twice the time needed for the conventional method, but I do see that I need less product.I n the picture below, I used this method by placing a primer around the nose and cheek area (Sue Devitt Microquatic Blue Anti-Aging SPF30 Protection Primer applied with fingers); then a sweep of a darker shade foundation to contour the cheeks, jawline, side of nose and temples (Guerlain Parure Extreme Foundation liquid shade 24 Dore Moyen applied with Illamasqua’s funky Blush Up Brush and blended with Real Techniques Expert Face Brush). I then followed with a foundation shade similar to my skin to areas not covered by the darker shade (Guerlain Parure Gold Foundation compact in 02 Beige Clair applied with the Sonia Kashuk Buffng Brush which I forgot to take a picture off). I then buffed the seams with the Real Techniques Expert Face blush. Voila!

With practice, I can see myself perfecting this technique and hopefully cutting down the application time.


Two foundation shades to contour (Guerlain Parure Extreme Foundation liquid 24 Dore Moyen) and highlight (Guerlain Parure Gold Foundation compact 02 Beige Clair)
Two foundation shades to contour (left, Guerlain Parure Extreme Foundation liquid 24 Dore Moyen) and highlight (right, Guerlain Parure Gold Foundation compact 02 Beige Clair)

Doing away with shampoo

A couple of years ago I had my hair straightened using the smoothing method. The effect  surprisingly lasted until now at the bottom end of my now very long (down to the waist) hair. Add to this, I swim regularly, so the hair is often exposed to chlorine. It’s no wonder my hair is coarse and dry at the moment. No significant split ends are in sight, though, so I’m inclined to keeping its length  for now. But what to do about the dry bits?

I have read for years about people forgoing shampooing. Clearly SLS in my favorite shampoo is drying, so I tried to do without at one time, using only a conditioner to clean my scalp (with vigorous rubbing). The result? The scalp actually feels clean, and the hair is not as dry. So I experimented with forgoing shampoo for at least 3 washing cycles, and it was surprisingly easy to do — I did not unbearably miss my shampoo. My hair is less dry, and I have a little bit more workout in the shower, doing the vigorous rubbing. The scalp gets slightly oilier faster compared to using shampoos, but that was the main difference, which I can live with. So I have since done away with shampoo except on days when I go swimming.

I’ve used various stuffs in lieu of shampoo: hair masks/creams, conditioners, facial cleansing oils. The verdict: they are all as good at cleansing the scalps. The key is actually your mechanical rubbing to loosen dirt and oils. However, runny conditioners that slightly lather are better at cleansing the hair itself. Creams (e.g. hair masks) are better if you dislike having something runny going down your back while cleaning your head. After I clean my hair, I usually make a bun of it, place it atop my head, and continue lathering and cleansing my body. Once that’s done, I flip my hair down and rinse the hair away from my already clean body.

So, what radical beauty change have you made recently?

My favorite for a non-shampoo cleansing: Carol's Daughter Monoi Repairing Hair Mask
My favorite for a non-shampoo cleansing: Carol’s Daughter Monoi Repairing Hair Mask (Source)