Friday, April 25, 2014

Kanebo Lunasol 15th Anniversary Makeup Palette

I go through phases with Western and Eastern beauty brands, and judging from the title, you can probably tell that I am back on my Asian cosmetics kick. Lunasol will always hold a special place in my heart as the first high end Japanese makeup brand that started my uphill Japanese cosmetics climb. Jill Stuart followed closely afterwards, and then Suqqu.

Being on the higher end of Kanebo's family tree, I would say that Lunasol is geared more towards the 25+, working age crowd. That said, Lunasol's eyeshadows -- while almost always in the neutrals zone -- are consistently chock full of microglitter and shimmer. If you are one to shy away from shimmer or deem such finishes inappropriate for the office, their eyeshadows are not for you. Matte eyeshadows simply do not exist in the world of Lunasol (nor most other Japanese beauty brands actually.) Take a look.

-Eyeshadow #1: This is straight up, multi-dimensional glitter and serves as a topcoat over the other eyeshadows. Much softer in texture than Tom Ford with no fallout issues whatsoever.
-Eyeshadow #2: Shimmery white, this is the least shimmery of the bunch and serves as an excellent inner corner highlight.
-Eyeshadow #3: Shimmery and metallic light beige with microglitter, this works beautifully as an all over lid color.
-Eyeshadow #4: Shimmery and metallic beige with stronger pink undertones and microglitter, this is another great all over lid color.
-Eyeshadow #5: Shimmery and metallic light bronze, this is probably the smoothest color of the six and extremely soft in texture.
-Eyeshadow #6: Shimmery dark brown with gold shimmer, this is my favorite as it is ultra-pigmented and blends like a dream, with minimal fallout.

Lunasol eyeshadows have always impressed me, but these simply take the cake in terms of ease of use, pigmentation, and lasting power -- easily 10 hours with no fading at all over primer! What sets this palette apart from the other Lunasol quads I own is that I can easily pick up the shades with my eyeshadow brushes, and the color in the pan is the color I saw on my lids. In the past, I had always turned to the sponge tip applicators and/or fingers in order to intensify most of my Lunasol (and other Japanese brand) eyeshadows, as they tend to be more sheer than their Western counterparts. More sheer, yet still as high of a quality as they get though!

Face and Cheek:
-Face powder: Despite the division in the pan, I'm going to just call it the face powder as a whole. The left side is reminiscent of Guerlain Meteorites, albeit a more stark and sparkly version, whereas the right side is your traditional setting powder suitable for those up to NC/NW25 skin tones.
-Blusher: This is also divided, with one half being peachy-coral and the other half being rosy pink. I would not call either shimmery, although they do give a noticeable glow when applied. Buildable in pigmentation and blends effortlessly, this really took me by surprise.

I had minor gripes with both products. With the face powder, it was next to impossible to solely pick up product from one half of the pan unless I went in with a blush brush. Eventually, I gave up and just swirled a powder brush across the entire pan, and surprisingly, it gave the perfect balance of mattifying and illuminating finish to my face. My biggest gripe with the blusher was the utter fact that Lunasol decided to stamp '15th Lunasol' in bronzey, chocolate brown lettering. I practically had to take off the top layers of the blush in order to remove any traces of said bronze-copper shades to prevent myself from looking as though I had mistakenly dipped my blush brush into the eyeshadows instead! Apart from that, I was very happy with how well the face powder and blusher wore on me.

-Liquid Lips: To be honest, this was a sheer gloss on my pigmented lips despite the peachy-coral color in the tube. It did wear comfortably with no tingling sensation and kept my lips hydrated though.
-High Stylized Mascara: Nothing to write home about, as I did not see any lengthening nor volumizing effects with this. Then again, I am probably not the best person to judge non-waterproof mascaras, seeing how I only wear them a handful of times throughout the year.

Lunasol really knocked it out of the park with this all-in-one palette. It did come with sponge tip applicators and a brush that was rather useless, but as I had mentioned before, I didn't feel the need for the applicators this time around. I had never tried Lunasol's face and cheek products before, so this was a great way for me to try the rest of the line, and I can see myself picking up a few more blushers in the future. Despite the palette looking rather travel-friendly, I would advise not traveling with it (or be extremely careful if you do.) When I received mine, bits and pieces of the face powder had gotten all over the palette, so I did spend quite a bit of time wiping everything down. I think that just goes to show the soft nature of the products, but it does not detract from the overall quality at all!

The 15th Anniversary palette is -- as you might have guessed -- limited edition, so if you fancy snagging a collector's piece that is functional and actually delivers, I would recommend getting your hands on it soon. I had seen this palette running anywhere from $90-$110 USD, which is very reasonable when you break down the cost of this palette for each individual product.
Friday, April 11, 2014

Tom Ford Eye and Cheek Compact in Unabashed


Tom  Ford's eye and cheek compact in Unabashed, limited edition for Summer 2014, needs no introduction. It had makeup addicts all around the world calling department stores to pre-order back in February, when leaked images surfaced on many social medias. Heck, it had my heart racing a mile a minute when I first saw said images! As many of you may already know, it is housed in the same compact as Tom Ford bronzers, except in the ivory and gold packaging that I simply adore (and clearly cannot get enough of.) There is quite a bit of product in the compact, so I personally think it warrants the $95 price tag. Of course, if you're a makeup collector, this palette is a no-brainer of a purchase.

To start, there are three eyeshadows in the left column. At the very top is a light beige-y glitter shadow that works best as an eyeshadow topper. Alone, it really just provides glitter with no noticeable base color. Like all Tom Ford glitter shadows (which I like to call 'adult glitter'), this is a dream to work with, and I did not experience any fallout. Next, is a cool-toned, matte, grayish taupe shade. It is probably the easiest shadow of the three to work with, as it is incredibly smooth. I also learned that this works quite nicely as a cheek contour. So, if you feel as though you had missed out on Chanel's Notorious sculpting veil, give this a go. You might find that it gives the same effect! Lastly, there's the striking matte royal blue shade. Royal in more ways than one, i.e. a royal pain to remove when swatched on my arm and when applied on my eyes! Word of caution: this shadow in particular does stain, especially on bare skin! This is extremely pigmented, however, when it is blended out, it becomes more of a dark teal color. (I intentionally blended out the edges of this shade in my swatches below so you can see what I mean.) This is probably my least favorite shade of the three, as it is quite dry in nature.

Moving on to the "bronzer" and blush, and I say bronzer with quotation marks because technically, the top pan acts more like a highlighter. (You really should not attempt to warm up your complexion with such a frosty, borderline metallic, product unless your goal is to look like a walking disco ball.) As a highlighter, it is stunning! However, on my NC25 skin tone, I find it a bit too dark of a highlighter (or at least dark enough that I can't achieve the lifted cheekbones effect when applied with a traditional highlighter brush.) Thankfully, I find that with a fan brush, all is well, and it has earned a spot in my Top 10 Highlighters of all time! Like the matte taupey gray eyeshadow, this is also multi-functional. I've used this as a lid color several times, and it works just as phenomenally!

The star of the palette, in my opinion, is the warm pink blush that some have deemed the adult version of NARS Orgasm. I can see why with its strong golden lean and frostiness, but that's where the similarities end. This blush is undoubtedly smoother and easier to blend than the infamous O. Despite it being frosty, it also never accentuated my pores (which can happen with Orgasm at times.) It reminded me a lot of Tom Ford's blush in Love Lust, so I went ahead and did comparison swatches (see below.) I would say if Love Lust and Frantic Pink had a baby, this would be it. That said, if Tom Ford ever releases this blush in a single form, I will be the first in line to pick it up. I love it that much!

In conclusion, Unabashed is a welcome addition to my embarrrassingly growing TF collection (and my palette collection, in general.) I was wary of ordering the palette in the beginning, because this is the first eye and cheek palette he has ever released, so I didn't know how it would compare to the top-notch quality of his permanent line eyeshadows and blushers. I am happy to report that both cheek products perform just as well as his blushers, in terms of pigmentation, blendability and lasting power (well over 10 hours with no signs of fading!) As far as the eyeshadows go, apart from the royal blue, the glitter and matte shades are comparable to the shadows from his quads and trios. (Read: amazing!) I did hear folks passing on the palette because it resembled the limited edition trio in She Wolf, but rest assured, they are not similar in my opinion. If anything, I would say the glitter shade is most similar to the one in Silvered Topaz. I wasn't able to find a dupe to the matte taupey gray shadow in any of the quads I currently own, but I still went ahead and swatched the shadows in the matte gray color family from both the She Wolf and Silvered Topaz palettes.

I have seen Unabashed popping up online from time to time on Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Saks, and Bloomingdale's. If you are still on the fence about this palette, I would recommend snatching it up before it sells out completely -- something I can foresee happening in the very near future -- and see for yourself if it is worth keeping. I promise that this is one palette you will be happy to have in your own collection!
Saturday, April 5, 2014

Michael Kors Bronze Powder in Flush and Beam

I wasn't aware that Michael Kors had his own makeup line until a few weeks ago, and ever since then, I could not get the Bronze Powders out of my mind. Apparently he launched his line around the same time Marc Jacobs Beauty arrived at Sephora, so of course, he was overshadowed despite the potential of his much smaller (yet equally impressive) offerings. It also didn't help that MK cosmetics is only available at and select Macy's locations. Even then, they are placed alongside his fragrances in the fragrance department!

First of all, if you are a sucker for packaging, you will absolutely fall in love with Michael Kors' entire collection. As mentioned, his collection is quite small with just bronzers, lipsticks, lipglosses, and nail polishes. However, all of his products are housed in a glamorous and sturdy (but still plastic) gold packaging of some sort. That said, I have always been wary of fashion designers turn beauty designers, so I treaded carefully while at the MK counter. Deciding between two of the three bronzers was difficult enough, so I passed on the lip products and polishes for now. Even though I ended up with both the Flush and Beam bronzers, I still would like to make a quick note of the third bronze powder in the color Glow. Glow is your traditional, neutral-toned bronzer with a hint of shimmer that reminded me a lot of NARS Laguna.

Flush Bronze Powder ($50):

Flush was the initial product that caught my attention. Even though it was marketed as a bronzer, I knew it would serve as a blush for me. It is a frosty, rosy pink powder that works beautifully as a blush for folks with fair to medium skin tones. (Any darker, and this might not show up too well as a blush, but I'm sure it makes for a great highlighter nevertheless.) While it is frosty in nature, I would say it is more shimmery once applied, and it does not accentuate my pores whatsoever. Rather it just gives this indescribable youthful glow from within. Flush, in particular, is a dream to apply and blends seamlessly.

This powder has a mild scent that is reminiscent of Dior's J'adore fragrance. However, it is not detectable once the product went on my cheeks. To be honest, when I first saw Flush, it reminded me a lot of Tom Ford's blush in Love Lust. However, I quickly learned that Flush was not as finely-milled of a powder nor is it as pink in undertones. (See swatch comparisons below.)

Beam Bronze Powder ($50):

Beam is Flush's slightly more coppery counterpart, and I would say this is more suited for light-medium to darker skintones. Like Flush, this is frosty in the pan, but once this is applied to the cheeks, it gives more of a glowy sheen that never accentuates pores. However, I must say that this is not as smooth in texture as Flush and actually applies a bit patchily as you can see from the swatches below. (It's more noticeable when applied with a brush than with my finger swatch.)

I also couldn't help but see how this compares to Tom Ford's Savage (easily one of my Top 10 blushers of all time!) In fact, the only reason I went with Flush at first was because I thought Beam would be an exact dupe to Savage. But I'm happy to report that they are not exact dupes -- similar but not exact. Savage has a more apparent reddish undertone, whereas Beam has more golden undertones.

MK Swatches: Flush (brush application, finger swatch); Beam (finger swatch, brush application)

As you can tell, both Flush and Beam are quite similar when blended out, so owning both is unnecessary. They are also the same in regards to how buildable they are in pigmentation. If you are looking for intense pigmentation à la Illamasqua, these are not the products for you (although they can be built up to said intensity.) Longevity-speaking, both powders lasted through 10-hour workdays with no signs of fading but still maintaining the aforementioned healthy glow. In fact, my cheeks became more glowy as the day progressed because the powder had mixed with the natural oils from my skin. And lastly, and quite possibly the most apparent thing, is the fact that each one of these is a behemoth of a bronzer/blush! 21 grams (or 0.74 oz) of product, to be exact! That's nearly 2.5 times the amount of product you get with Tom Ford blushes or even with NARS bronzers. Once you get over the initial sticker shock of these Michael Kors bronze powders, you will find that they are worth every penny -- not only in amount but also in quality (and, certainly, when displayed on your vanity!)

Tom Ford comparison swatches...

I had trouble tracking down Flush on the Macy's site, which makes me question whether or not these are limited edition. However, my local store still had a few in stock. Beam, on the other hand, is still showing availability both online and in stores.