MAC Ellie Goulding Halcyon Palette: Review and Swatches


My Halcyon Days palette from the MAC and Ellie Goulding Collection has landed! I’m a big fan of Ellie and there’s a few posts here on her music, but it was a pleasure to support Ellie’s makeup collection too. And one that I am liking a lot!

I chose the Halcyon Days palette ($44 from MAC but about $60 through purchase order) mainly because I love MAC cream color bases (CCB). I have a few in red and pinks which I use as blush and lip color – they are very pigmented, true to pan in term of colors, long lasting, and just an overall pleasure to use. I also wanted to try MAC’s blot powder, included in this palette.

Let’s go over the CCBs first.  MAC was relatively accurate describing the colors as they translate on my skin. Color #1 Wish I Stayed is a light cream pearl and #2 Tint is a peachy brown, and both are good for eyes and lips in my case. Note that I don’t use highlighters – I have my own internal glowing mechanism i.e. my oily skin – otherwise #1 and #2 would also be good as highlighters. Color #3 Root is a taupe brown with shimmer, good for the eyes. Color #4 Everytime You Go, is a peachy pink, suitable for eyes and cheeks, but washes out on my lips if on its own. I double it up with #2 for a more wearable look.

All the CCBs are nicely emollient, sparkling in color, and blends easily. Using fingers are best for these, I find. The one downside of these is that they are not as long-lasting as my other CCBs. Without primer, on eyes, these fade noticeably after a couple of hours, and after 4 hours, only about 50% remains on my eyes. As blush, #4 lasted a bit longer but again, not as stellar as my other, full-size CCBS. I have not used them with primer yet.

The blot powder is describe as ‘medium dark’, and it’s really not that dark. I think even darker gals (NC 45) can use this – it is very, very sheer. A really good match for my NC25 face. This is definitely great for blotting, and for dusting over the CCBs to tone down the shimmer without sacrificing color. However, it’s not very good in controlling oil.

Overall, no regrets in this purchase. I really enjoy using the CCBs and the blot powder together, and if I may say so myself, it gives a very ‘Ellie’ look. My eye area has gotten drier as I age, and using these CCBs as eye color is a real pleasure. This palette would also be great for travel and I can’t wait to take it places.

Bottom line: no regrets even at the inflated price I obtained it for, and recommended for those who want to try MAC’s CCBs, and those with dryer skin.

MAC Halcyon Days palette
MAC Halcyon Days palette

MAC Halcyon Days Ellie Goulding (4)

Teaser: MAC Poesia


MAC Cosmetics just released a teaser of (one of) their spring 2016 collection, Poesia. Poesia is a fashion line by designer Chris Chang, and a cursory look over her designs reflect a fondness for patterns, and clashing of prints. Kunqu, the inspiration for the MAC collaboration, is a form of performing art, an opera, from China.

Up til now, my favorite MAC collection is the collaboration with Manish Arora (2008). I also really liked the packaging of the Guo Pei collection (2015), although the pricing is a bit steep for me. I hope the Poesia collection is not priced too high. I wonder what the compact in the middle is – I hope it is a blush duo or blush palette (rather than a bronzer, a face powder, or even bronzer and blush duo).


Getting on Board the Bright Matte Blue Eyeliner Trend

emma stone bright blue eyeliner

Bright matte blue eyeliner is having a moment. My girl crush Emma Stone gave it an unusual placement here. I’m not stranger to bright blue eyeliners, and have at least a couple shimmery ones. But a matte one?

I shopped my stash to see a possible dupe, and found it in my MAC Manish Arora palette – Electric Eel. It is indeed electric; very bright but it has never occurred to me to use if as eyeliner.

MAC Cream Color Base 'Movie Star Red' and MAC Manish Arora eyeshadow palette
MAC Cream Color Base ‘Movie Star Red’ and MAC Manish Arora eyeshadow palette (Electric Eel is 2nd from the right)

I like the result. It is a fun color, and drawn thinly with the help of Illamasqua’s Sealing Gel, is a very interesting and versatile look. I’ve paired it with various lip colors and it still looks good: pale pink, bright blue red, sheer orange and, particularly, bright warm/orangey red. Give it a try!

fotd blue eyerliner red lips

Review and Swatches: Mac Ripe Peach Blush Ombre (Ruben and Isabel Toledo Collection

MAC Ripe Peach Blush Ombre2I missed MAC’s Ripe Peach Blush Ombre twice before, and almost missed it this time with the Toledo Collection. I did not like the packaging and that made me indecisive. In the end, I decided to just get it.

First the bad news. There is a little bit of film you have to scrape off until you find the ‘real’ stuff. If you don’t scrape it off, you will find that the color payoff is poor. I’ve read online of people scraping off the top layer carefully, but I just don’t have that kind of patience. My way is to scrape with my nail; once there is enough from the scrape for blush, I use it. And continue another bout of scraping the next day. I guess I’m done with the scraping this morning, as my fingers touched down on the g spot: the soft, pigmented blush that is easily picked up with a swipe of a finger.

Now the good news: the color is beautiful. I really like the pink part, a coral on my cheeks. The orange part is also pretty good, I use it almost like a highlighter, layering it on top of the pink on the upper cheekbones. The staying power is also pretty good for MAC blushes; the other day I was wearing it under gusts of rain, and had to walk a kilometer or so due to bad traffic, and in the evening my cheeks still glow from the Ripe Peach flush.

Bottom line? No regrets.

MAC Ripe Peach Blush Ombre

MAC Ripe Peach Blush Ombre1MAC Ripe Peach Blush Ombre3



Bronze on the eyes

MAC Call Me Bubble eyeshadow palette

Shopping your stash has something to recommend when you’re on a no buy. Duh! I have recently played around with looks centering around Brash, the orange-y bronze in the MAC Call Me Bubbles eyeshadow quad. Brash was pretty much why I bought this palette, a part of me also convincing that this quad can be a face palette as well (sans lip product). Call Me Bubbles, the color on top left, can work as an overall highlighter, and Full of Flavor, lover left, as blush. I’m still not remorseful over this palette, and it is a nice one to play with and Brash always brings such a dreamy quality to my eye looks.

Just straight up bronze all around (sometimes with a little bit more definition at the outer corner with a dark matte brown), or with a mint green mixed in the inner corner (instagram-inspired).

EOTD bronze2 EOTD bronze3


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!