27 August 2013

Cherry Culture Haul - Jordana & NYX

Cherry Culture had a 20%-off promotion this month. They also had the new Jordana products in stock.

A list of products follows below. Left to right, top to bottom. Links to reviews/swatches will be added as I complete them.

  • Jordana Liquid Foundation - Buff, Natural, Tan
  • Jordana Matte Lipstick - 47 Nude, 37 Matte 5th Ave
  • Jordana Lipstick - 126 Mystery
  • NYX Round Lipstick - Tea
  • NYX Eyeshadow - Dark Brown
  • NYX Blush - Taupe
  • Jordana 12 Hr Made to Last Liquid Eyeliner Pencil - Jade Jewel, Black Point
  • Jordana 12 Hr Made to Last Liquid Eyeshadow Pencil - Tenacious Brown
  • Milani Naturally Chic Shadow Eyez - Cafe Au Lait
  • NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil - Cottage Cheese
  • Cherry Culture Lip Balm - Coffee
  • Jordana Twist & Shine Moisturizing Balm Stain - Honey Love, Terra Crave (x2)

The total, with shipping, came out to under $50.

11 June 2013

Discount Alert: Urban Decay 24/7 Eyeliner Pencils

Alert: The discontinued shades for Urban Decay's 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencils are now discounted by 50%, from US$19.00 to $9.50, here on the brand's site.

Note that they did take down the free-shipping-on-$35 and deluxe-samples-on-$50 promotion that they were running just a few days before. However, they do still have stock of some of the good sale items that they had before, and also added Urban Defense. (I have two different shades of Urban Defense in the old packaging; I liked it, and would definitely recommend it over their BB cream.)

Also, if you need help moving on from the discontinuation of one of your favourite liners, see my list of (cheaper!) dupes here.

I ordered Hautelook's spring beauty bag. I wouldn't do it again.

Hautelook was offering a bag of various cosmetic and other personal care products in April, for US$25 + $7 shipping. I ordered it, but didn't have a great experience, which I rant about below.
I know this is late, but perhaps this post will help if you're ordering a similar bag from them in the future.

It looked just like this when it came in the mail. Large-ish cheap plasticine bag, in a box of about the same width and length, except with a whole lot of extra volume and NO packing peanuts or other cushioning. If this didn't cause a few of the problems (mentioned later), then I guess all of the problem products were just rejects/used.


Here's everything laid out nicely:

Accidentally left out the Urban Decay mini-sized pencil in this shot.

The card with a list of contents:

Not really sure why they think it's useful at all to print icons of different social networking sites, with no QR codes or other bullshit, on this. It's a piece of paper, not a website; I can't click on the little logos of sites where you make half-assed attempts at customer interaction.


Some of the stuff is complete crap.

The Smile Sciences 'gift certificate' is just a non-unique discount code for overpriced teeth whitening products. Completely useless. (The other discount cards are just generic promotional cards, also with non-unique discount codes.)

I couldn't give less of a damn about Jessica Simpson's generic-celebrity-branded perfume; and I could've gotten the sample free elsewhere.
Likewise, one could get the Stila shimmer packet samples for free, too.

The Crown brush is a $5.50 knock-off of the MAC 217. It works fine; it just doesn't contribute much to the '$200 value' that Hautelook claims (though, to be fair, it does much better at that than the aforementioned Smile Sciences 'certificate').

The worst part, though, is that most of the featured products were apparently defective or previously opened/used.

For one, the Lorac mascara came in a box that looked like this:

The seal was broken, with someone's fingerprint and various debris stuck underneath. The box was also bent around here, as it would if someone had opened it before, and one of the edges of the cardboard was split. I don't know if someone had simply opened the box to see the tube inside before, or if it'd actually been used somehow; I'm hoping it was just the former.

The Lorac shadow in Celebutante, a light aqua-blue colour that the company was probably trying to clear stock of, was very dusty. Chunks of shadow were broken off in the container, and the pan holding the shadow itself was misaligned and partially detached from the black plastic case housing it:

The angle of the shadow pan looks off because the product was either old, and the glue at the bottom was starting to lose its strength; someone had attempted to de-pot the product; the product was defective; or it had come loose during shipping.

Looking online, it seems that a lot of customers had their shadows arrive completely broken and powdered. So this could just be due to their failure to use any protective shipping material.

The mirror had completely broken off inside the mini Laura Geller blush:

The Suki face scrub had VERY obviously already been opened/used. The foil seal had been taken off, and was left in the lid of the jar. There was product all over the inside rim of the jar. Also, the contents looked like this:

Looks like some of the product had already been used up.

One other customer had had her facial scrub completely dried out inside.

Basically, if it was something with a high retail value, it was probably pre-opened or otherwise problematic.

I contacted Hautelook customer service on the same day it arrived. It took five days for a representative to get back to me--which shouldn't surprise me; it took three weeks for the bag to ship out, and four weeks before it was actually delivered, despite the high shipping costs. (My previous orders through Hautelook had also taken a while.) I was offered the choice to either return the bag, or to take a 20% discount.
This was the same discount that they gave to every other person who complained--even for those who had only had problems with one of their items. The costs of shipping it back, and likely also forfeiting the significant $7 of the initial shipping price, though, meant that the discount was basically my only option.

My previous experiences with Hautelook had been largely mediocre--second worst after PLNDR. Don't even get me started on PLNDR; I've had multiple terrible customer and ordering experiences with them that still remain unresolved.

It seems that Hautelook did less of the work when they partnered with another company for this promotion, though. My box shipped from a 'Renee Welch'. Who's that?

'Axiz Group'. The final 'z' in their name makes me think they're a reputable company.

A quick Google search reveals their site, which has an extremely professional title tag of '+++++ AXIZ GROUP +++++', and other great aesthetic touches.
Their 'Product Catalog' simply links to PromoDealer.com; which has, among many other IFrames, a monthly drawing form that registers to Promomart, that uses ESP Web (that site has even more fun stuff). So their store is just selling the same stuff from the same suppliers that everyone buying into ESP Web sells.

Anyway. The Hautelook bag was disappointing. With all the old product, it was far from worth the $200 that they claim to be the value of the bundle--even at a cumulative $32, it wasn't a particularly great value. So, I don't plan on purchasing one of their bags again. In fact, I doubt I'll be ordering anything from them again anytime soon.

20 April 2013

Covergirl Shadows + Magnetic Palettes = Awesome

Covergirl mostly sucks. Given my experience with them, their liquid foundation gives no coverage; their powder is way too pink-toned; their NatureLuxe line is overpriced; their Liquiline Blast pencils are impossible to use without their own sharpener; their Flipstick shades are garish.
I do like a few of their eyeshadows, if you psychically know how to pick the shades that aren't chalky or under-pigmented--their Shimmering Sands trio works well for natural daytime looks, and the Golden Sunset trio is very pretty. Aside from these, though, I thought that my money would be much better spent on brands like Wet 'n' Wild, which has shadows of more consistent quality, at a significantly lower price.
Until I tried taking the shadows out of my broken-hinged plastic Shimmering Sands case, and moving them to the mini GlamRX magnetic palette I got in Ipsy's March 2013 bag.
  1. There's a good gap between the eyeshadow pans and the plastic casing. This makes it easy to pry out the shadows with anything--a nail file, scissors (my choice), Godzilla's toenails.
    I have the trios from before their more recent re-packaging/-formulation; but given this picture, it looks like the amount of space remains the same.
  2. The metal of the pans isn't too malleable. Combined with the space you get when prying out the pan, this is great--it won't be too easy to bend the pan and crack the shadows.
  3. The glue is relatively weak. No need for baking your palettes, putting a lighter to the bottom of the case or otherwise releasing toxic fumes of burning plastic to release the hold on the glue. (That said, the glue still feels pretty 'wet', and can take several minutes of cleaning to avoid making a mess on your magnetic board.)
  4. Best of all: The pans are already magnetised. That's right. No need to painstakingly glue tiny pieces of magnetic strip to the bottom of tiny pans; no need to purchase expensive magnetic stickers or tape. These pans will stay in your Z Palette, Unii or GlamRX palette, right where you transplant them!
Farewell, unattractive old packaging.
Hello, magnetic pan.
I might have to buy more Covergirl shadows the next time I have coupons. The Desert Bronze and Prima Donna quads look good to me.
Also, why isn't there a list of products that already come in magnetised pans? I should start one.

19 April 2013

Review: Rosallini Makeup Bag

For most of the time since I started using make-up, I was using e.l.f.'s wristlet for carrying my make-up with me. The clasp for attaching the wrist strap was made of very malleable (read: shitty) metal that quickly started detaching itself from the bag, and the initially-cute antique silver coating looked worse and worse every time I scratched it; but it served me well for more than two years.

Then, several months ago, I moved back to a part of LA that is severely underserved by public transportation, leading to a lot of nights stranded at Denny's or other equally sophisticated establishments, and/or napping on a friend's armchair. I made it my mantra to carry with me enough crap to feel comfortable after an unexpected night away from home: toothbrush, eye drops, enough make-up for a full face. I moved things to the inner bag of the now-not-sold e.l.f. organizer, whose outer, actually-an-organizer sleeve had a zipper that broke on the first use, and magnets not strong enough to actually keep said inner pouch in place.

That was fine for a while, but I started getting annoyed at the complete lack of inner compartments, leading to a lot of digging inside the bag to find an eyeliner pencil. I tried using plastic bags for organisation, but the mess of identical-looking, torn-up polyethylene sheets was still frustrating.

So I ordered a Rosallini makeup purse from Amazon a few days ago. I purchased the larger one--25cm/9.8in--because it was only a few cents more than the small one, and also because I don't have a good sense of numerical size (that's what she said).

It arrived tonight, and my first impression was:
It's huge. Way bigger than the e.l.f. bag I'm used to carrying. I'm sure it'll encourage me to start carrying an even greater amount of extraneous things with me, but I should have considered the smaller version instead.

It smells like Chinese factory (if you've ever ordered cheap clothes from China, or anything that just got off the boat from Mass Production Land, you know what I'm talking about). Not too offensively so, but it'll take a bit of time to air out.

It crinkles--like thin plastic. Obviously, the material used to line the bag wasn't of the highest quality, and it'll be no surprise to me when the bag starts to fall apart. For the price, though (slightly under US$7), I shouldn't have expected much more.

It comes with a small mirror that's attached to the inside with a strap. The mirror is of decent quality, and will work fine for touch-ups.

There are three compartments inside: two small clear plastic sleeves, and one zippered pocket. Neither are of terribly large capacity, but they will still work for short pencils, single shadows, sharpeners, cotton buds/swabs and the like.

This is what I carried in my e.l.f. organizer's innards, with lots of space to spare:

(Physician's Formula Healthy Wear tinted moisturiser; MUA powder; sponge; plastic bag with one gel liner pot and two L'Oreal Infallible shadow pots; bag with contacts solution, contacts case, hair ties and challenge coin; Revlon stain balm; two thin Physician's Formula Shimmer Strips automatic eyeliners; and, if I really wanted the bag to nearly burst, a travel-sized e.l.f. brush set and an e.l.f. baked bronzer.)

I'm not in love with it, but this bag is okay for the price. It's more of a bag that I would use to carry a larger assortment of make-up, during planned travel; but I'm sure I'll become accustomed to the larger size and volume soon.

Where do you guys get your make-up bags? I always see seemingly-amazing ones in 'What's In My Bag?' videos and posts.

Can be purchased from Amazon as an add-on item (as part of an order with a cumulative sub-total of at least $25).

27 March 2013

Replacements for Discontinued Urban Decay 24/7 Eyeliners

Urban Decay just announced a line-up of new 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencils shades--and, along with it, a number of discontinuations. They list recommended replacements--primarily from their new shades, of course--here; but many of these suggestions are hardly comparable.
Hey. Don't cry. I compared various swatches online to compile this list of better (and cheaper)! replacements for these soon-to-be-gone liners.


NYX Slide-On Eyeliner in Jewel (compare: UD, #2 from left; vs. NYX, #2 from left)
Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow in Stiletto (see here - less sparkle than UD)
Maybelline Color Tattoo cream shadow in Pomegranate Punk (see here - less sparkle)


Avon Glimmersticks Eyeliner in Twilight Sparkle (UD, third from right, vs. Avon)


NYX Slide-On Eyeliner in Tropical Green (compare: UD vs. NYX - less sparkle)
Covergirl Queen Collection Vivid Impact Eyeliner in Jade (see here, third from right)
Sleek Eau La La Liner in Tonic (see here)
GOSH Velvet Touch Eye Pencil in Alligator (see here, second from left)
Essence Long-Lasting Eye Pencil in #12 I Have a Green (see here)


Covergirl Liquiline Blast Eyeliner in Blue Boom (see here - CG first from left, UD second from left)


NYX Slide-On Eyeliner in Glitzy Gold (comparison)
Sleek Twist-Up Eye Pencil in Gold (company site swatch)


Milani Liquid Eye (formerly Liquif'eye) in Aqua (comparison)
e.l.f. Cream Eyeliner in Teal Tease (comparison)
Rimmel ScandalEyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal in Turquoise (UD vs. Rimmel, sixth from left)


NYX Slide-On Eyeliner in Papaya (comparison)
GOSH Velvet Touch Eye Pencil in Green Grass (UD, fifth from left; vs. GOSH, leftmost)


Covergirl Liquiline Blast in Silver Spark (comparison--UD third from right, CG second from right; CG is darker)
NYX Slide-On Eyeliner in Gun Metal (UD, right; vs. NYX, fourth from left)


NYX Slide-On Eyeliner in Golden Bronze (comparison - second pair from right)
GOSH Velvet Touch Eye Pencil in Copper Girl (UD vs. GOSH, second from top - less red-toned than UD)


NYX Slide-On Eyeliner in Pretty Violet (UD vs. NYX, second from left)


NYX Slide-On Eyeliner in Purple Blaze (comparison)
GOSH Purple Stain (see here, second from left in top row)
Essence Long-Lasting Eye Pencil in #16 Coolest Chick (see here, rightmost)

What do you think? Feel cheated? I'll be adding to this list as I find more. If you have suggestions, put them in the comments.

02 March 2013

Review & Swatches: Physician's Formula Shimmer Strips Shadow & Liner in Warm Nude Eyes (NEW for Spring 2013)

I picked up the new Physician's Formula Shimmer Strips shadow palette in Warm Nude Eyes, from the new Nude Eyes Collection for Spring 2013.

They already have an extremely confusing number of products with unnecessarily long names under the Shimmer Strips line. For the Shimmer Strips Custom Eye Enhancing Shadow & Liner Nude Collection alone, they have this one (Warm Nude Eyes), Classic Nude Eyes, Natural Nude Eyes and Smokey Nude Eyes. There's also the original Nude Eyes palette, under the Universal Looks line. And that's not including the other Universal Looks palettes; nor the four eye colour-specific original palettes and their spin-offs: the Eye Candy, Pop, Smokey and Bronze Collections.

If you're as confused as any person with a life, this palette is from one of Physician's Formula's new lines for spring 2013. As you can probably imagine, 'Warm Nude Eyes' features toned-down bronzes and coppers. Which I'm a total sucker for.

These palettes retail for US$12.49 at CVS (who do mark up prices). When I was there, CVS was having a $7 ExtraBucks with purchase of $10 of Physician's Formula promotion through the end of the weekend. So if you have a CVS near you, these sales are a good time to buy Physician's Formula products, which usually retail for over $10. I also like their Shimmer Strips eyeliner trio in Nude Eyes, so that's a good pick if you've already got enough shadow.

The palettes are very cute, but also a bit smaller than I'd imagined. The palette fits in the palm of my hand, so this wouldn't be a bad palette for travelling, although it flips open with no latching mechanism.
A larger brush might be a little awkward to use on the three thinner strips. The sponge applicator fits better, but is not the best sponge I've used.

There are nine different strips inside, grouped in threes to match the suggestions on the packaging (leftmost three being for the 'dramatic' look; next three, 'playful'; rightmost three, 'natural').


Left four strips:

That right-most one may look like the darkest in the pan, but it comes out as a faint plummy brown. I may need to use these wet, as was apparently the case with the original nude palette.

Next four, going right:

Last one--the white:

Part of this palette, when used dry, doesn't have a lot of pigmentation, which was somewhat disappointing. On the other hand, the muted colour payoff is truer to the 'Nude' part of the name--despite the fact that they're all shimmery I would feel comfortable wearing these to school or work.
They don't seem to be very long-lasting, but I'm sure they'd fare well with primer.

Overall, I'm not in love with this palette, but I do like it. I wouldn't buy it at full price, but I'd pick it up during a sale. I'll continue to be on the hunt for the Eye Candy and Bronzed palettes for brown eyes, since those look more pigmented.

22 February 2013

Review/Swatch: e.l.f. Long-Lasting Lustrous Eyeshadow in Soiree

I wore e.l.f.'s new-ish Long-Lasting Lustrous Eyeshadow in Soiree during my single Valentine's Day this year.
These are shimmery gel eyeshadows with a gel-mousse texture. They have yet to hit the UK.

Soiree is a pink that, when applied, leans slightly more red than the site's pseudo-swatch would have led me to believe. I was expecting something closer to a light mauve, than a pink.

As a result, if not applied conservatively, it looks like I have irritated eyes. Which is NOT what I want to look like on Valentine's Day... I want to look soft and feminine, not like I've been crying! (Which is, arguably, also feminine.)

One solution is to use a lighter layer of this shade. Sheered out on the lids, it looks like this:

Not bad. Problem is, this product has a LOT of silver micro-glitter, which can look uneven if sheered out without some care.
I wouldn't say that this stuff is hard to work with; but its softer texture (and glitter) makes application just slightly more finicky than with the thicker Maybelline Color Tattoos.

Other solution: Use other shadows in combination with it.

Over it, I used MUA Pearl Eyeshadow in shade 24, a rosy mauve, to contour.
I also used the shimmery pink eyeshadow from the Tarte Royal Collection from holiday 2010, which I purchased on sale in the summer, as a highlight in the centre of my lids.

(I also used e.l.f.'s cream eyeliner--which also has a softer texture than your usual gel eyeliners--in Coffee; and the thicker Wet 'n' Wild black gel eyeliner to tightline.)

Based off this shade, I prefer the Maybelline Color Tattoo gel eyeshadows. Compared to this shade, Pomegranate Punk (US), a cranberry, is darker, more earth-toned and less shimmery.

As for the product line in general, Maybelline's are more expensive (retail US$7/£5 for .14oz/3.98g, compared to e.l.f.'s US$3 for .11oz/3g), but come in a nicer glass container; are easier to apply; are less glittery; and, because of the thicker gel texture, take longer to use up.


    • Price: US$3, online at e.l.f.'s site.
      Texture: Pleasant to the touch; slightly less pleasant to work with.
      Colour: So-so. Too glittery for daytime wear.
      Longevity: Good.
  • 19 January 2013

    NYX Round Lipstick in Hermes - Review & swatches

    90¢ and Up Store on Santa Monica Blvd has two full display stands of NYX products. I've been wanting to buy some of the brand's nude lipsticks, but am waiting until Cherry Culture starts stocking the new spring eyeshadow palettes before I do a haul.

    I didn't immediately see Circe, Thalia or one of the other shades at the top of my list. They had Creamy Beige, but I remember Googling a swatch of that one and seeing that it looked far too corpse-like for me. So I grabbed Hermes, which looked pinker from the tube than the other nudes. (The store had all the lipsticks sealed, so I couldn't actually open any up to examine the lipstick cream.)

    The lipstick:

    Immediately after applying Hermes, it looks like a dark, pink-toned brown. As it sits longer on lips, though, it starts looking more pinkish, possibly due to wearing off (I frequently rub my lips together):

    I was looking for a pinky-brown MLBB nude. Applied with full coverage, this shade is a little dark for me. It would look great on deeper skin tones.

    The finish is a satin/cream with a slight glossiness. I expected this to be matte, but this finish is more moisturising anyway.

    Here, I've layered it over Revlon's Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Honey, a mauve that's my current go-to lip colour:

    As with the other NYX Round Lipsticks, staying power is pretty average for a cream lipstick. It will last for a few hours if left mostly untouched, but not through eating--which is why I applied it over a stain in the last picture.

    Overall, a decent purchase. However, I'll be looking for a shade that incorporates less dark of a brown.

    And if you live in the area, 90¢ and Up is awesome. $1.39 for a dozen eggs. Booyeah.