Saturday, 27 June 2009

Palette Love... Inglot Freedom System

Admittedly, I am a real sucker for palettes. They're usually great value, and I just love having everything in one handy little case. But the issue I have with most is palettes is that either I don't like all the colours, or else I "miss" having certain items (like lip colour - but then I also hate having to cart around a big palette in my purse just so I can reapply my lipstick).

A lot of companies these days are offering "customisable" palettes where you can pick your own colours and even types of products (e.g. eyeshadow, blush, lipstick) that go into the palette. Bobbi Brown's palette system is one example - but it also comes with a very hefty price tag and limited shades to choose from.

Which is why I think Inglot's Freedom palettes are awesome. They come in two types - the Large and Small Freedom palettes can hold a combination of eyeshadow, face powder or blush, while the smaller Pro palettes can hold eyeshadow, lipstick, concealer, brow powder, or tinted brow gel. Better yet, the shade choices are staggering, and the price very reasonable. For those of you who dream of a palette that truly has everything, I think Inglot is probably about as close as it comes.

I have two of the smaller Pro palettes: a 5-pan and a 3-pan:
  • The 5 pan palette contains (left to right): 1 brow powder (matte dark brown) and 4 eyeshadows (coppery brown, deep grey-brown, medium taupe-grey, golden cream; all with shimmer)
  • The 3-pan palette contains (left to right): two lip colours (coral peach, cool medium pink) and a concealer
I'm actually very happy with my colour choices, as they're extremely versatile. For the eyeshadow I can do either a warm color scheme (cream & coppery brown) or cool color scheme (cream & taupe grey) for daytime. If I want a smokier look, I can add in the darker grey-brown. While I would say the pigmentation is on par with MAC, the colours do lack depth (none are duochrome or opalescent - the shimmer is just a standard shimmer). There are also very limited options for mattes. Overall I think they're quite good though.

For lips, I have one warm peach-nude colour and one cool pink, so I can co-ordinate with what I'm wearing clothing-wise. I LOVE that the lip colors and concealer are in a separate palette - now I can keep this smaller palette in my purse for touch ups without having to lug around any unnecessary items (like eyeshadow). The lip colours themselves are very nice - they are pigmented with an opaque, non-shimmery texture and have a glossy effect. They're not particularly long-lasting, but that's the compromise if you have a glossier product. The concealer is lovely - it reminds me a lot of MAC Studio Sculpt concealer, only a little lighter in texture. Unlike some cream concealers, this one does "dry down" once applied, so that it's less likely to budge during the day.

Overall I really think these are fabulous palettes. I loved choosing my own colours, there were just so many options! It's a shame that the Pro (round-pan) palettes don't incorporate blush, however I think I will eventually look into getting a Small Freedom palette with a face powder,a couple of blushes and a contour colour, as a nice complement to what I already have.

Click here
for details of where to find Inglot in the UK.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Battle of the Powder Foundations... Chanel Mat Lumiere vs MAC StudioFix

I often hear raves about both MAC and Chanel's powder foundations, especially from people who are oily-skinned. So for those of you who are contemplating buying one or the other, or already using one but wondering whether the grass is greener, here are my thoughts...

MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation
This is probably one of the MAC foundations I hear raved about the most... and also seems to be one with a lot of complaints too. The main issue seems to be that it oxidises, sometimes changing color slightly on people if it reacts with their skin. For this reason, I'd definitely suggest test-driving before purchase - although I'm lucky enough that this problem doesn't seem to affect me.

What I like about Studio Fix:
  • Comes in a non-bulky compact, so it's easy to take on the go. I like that there's a compartment underneath for the sponge.
  • Really sucks up that oil! This keeps me matte for a couple of hours at least (which is saying a lot! I'm such a greaseball... eww!) and is the main reason why I've used it on and off for the past 8 years. For anyone wondering, it does do a better oil control job than Studio Fix Fluid, its liquid counterpart.
  • Reasonably good assortment of shades (warm, cool, and neutral - and from light to dark, although those at either end of the spectrum may miss out). Personally, I had no problem finding a match.
  • Sheer but buildable coverage
What I don't like:
  • Can look overly matte and powdery. I combat this by spritzing with water spray or MAC Fix+ when I'm done applying, but I can really only do that in the morning, not when I touch during the day. (Well, I could do it during the day, but I just feel a little too vain whipping out my Evian spray in the ladies).
  • Can be a bit drying on the skin. Although I'm oily, I can feel some parts of my face tighten slightly sometimes (I already use a good moisturiser and primer, so go figure).
Chanel Mat Lumiere Luminous Matte Powder Makeup
Now I'm usually not a label snob, but there's just something about Chanel makeup that's so refined and alluring. But how does Chanel's version of the powder foundation really stack up?

What I like:
  • It gives a beautiful finish. It is matte, but it has a very slight sheen to it (not shimmery or glittery - just a hint of light-reflectiveness). It's really stunning.
  • Very good oil control, on par with MAC and lasts just as long.
  • Can be applied sheerly with a brush or sponge, or damp for a more velvety finish and longer wear (no idea if this can be done with Studio Fix)
  • Hate to say it, but I quite enjoy the elegance factor. It's Chanel. Yes, I'm a sucker...
What I dislike:
  • Compact is elegant, but bulky. The sponge sits to the side of the pan, meaning the compact is very wide. Not so great for tucking into my on-the-go makeup bag.
  • Shades are quite limited. If you're darker than me, you've been totally shafted, since I am only NC30 (medium/olive) and I was matched to the darkest shade that they appear to sell here (#80 - Contour). The best shade match for me also runs ever so slightly too pink for my taste, but I am quite warm-toned.
  • Price! The compact is £32 compared to £18.60 for Studio Fix. Looking more closely, on a price-per-gram basis, this product is nearly twice as expensive: £2.46/gram, compared to £1.24/gram for Studio Fix. If you were committed to using this product ongoing however, you can buy pan refills for your compact instead of buying the full-priced compact each time, which would soften the assualt on your wallet a little.

Overall, I think these are both wonderful products for oily skin - they're long-lasting and keep the skin matte. Personally, I do adore the slightly luminous finish of Mat Lumiere, but I still think MAC Studio Fix is a great product and wouldn't hesitate to repurchase it if I couldn't accommodate Mat Lumiere into my budget. Anyone darker than a MAC NC40 might have real issues finding a Chanel shade that suits, which is very unfortunate. Bottom line: Studio Fix is a great product, but if you find it's too matte, you have some extra money for something nice, and can find a good shade match, the do give the Mat Lumiere a go. Otherwise, I don't really think Mat Lumiere is a must-have.. more of a nicety!

Thursday, 4 June 2009

ELF to launch Studio line in the UK

Great news - ELF has confirmed it will be launching its new Studio line in the UK in July '09!

For those of you who haven't heard about it before now, ELF recently launched a "premium" line of products in the US. With most products in the range priced at US$3, they're an absolute steal. The range of products looks much more upmarket than ELF's regular line (reminiscent of NARS packaging) and includes some wonderfully multifunctional products such as:
  • Blush / Bronzer duo - a dupe of NARS Orgasm/Laguna duo apparently
  • Eyebrow powder / gel duo
  • Concealer pencil & brush (double-ended duo)
  • Eye primer & liner sealer (double-ended duo)
  • Lip primer & plumper (double-ended duo)
In addition, there's a range of Studio brushes, which have had fantastic reviews so far. For those of you who haven't tried ELF's regular line of brushes, they're wonderful quality for the price, so I'm really looking forward to seeing what their Studio line has to bring! Brushes can be purchased individaully or as a full set, and you can even pick up a makeup artist brush belt to go with it!

So, keep an eye out for the Studio Line at and check back here soon for reviews :-)

Image credit:

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Review: E.L.F. Waterproof Eyeliner Pen

I picked up E.L.F.'s Waterproof Eyeliner Pen a while ago, and I'm very impressed. This eyeliner is a "felt pen" type of eyeliner, with a pointed, flexible tip. This type of applicator allows a good amount of control, since you only need to increase the pressure of application to increase the width of the line. It's very simple to apply, and unlike gel eyeliners it doesn't require any messing around with brushes, which makes it great for travel. Best of all, it really is waterproof - it doesn't budge.

This product is a dead ringer for MAC's Penultimate Eyeliner, which launched in last year's Chill collection and is now part of MAC's permanent line. How are they different? Well, the pigmentation is equal, however the tip of the ELF pen isn't quite as fine as MAC's, which means you can't *quite* get as fine a line as you can with MAC's version. But considering that ELF's version costs £1.50 compared to £11.74 and applies almost as well, I still think ELF's comes out on top. Not to mention, it comes in 4 shades - black, brown, plum and dark blue.

What's the catch? I find with both the MAC and ELF versions that you need to give the product a really vigorous shake for 5-10 seconds before you use it. Otherwise, the liquid doesn't flow out of the tip properly. And neither has quite the fluidity of a really good cream or gel liner.

So, while I'm not quite ready to ditch my MAC Fluidline or Smashbox Cream Eyeliner, I still think the ELF Waterproof Eyeliner Pen is a great product, and definitely something to pick up whether you're on a tight budget or not.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Illamasqua Swatches

Ever since I heard about new cosmetics brand Illamasqua, I've been dying to get myself to the nearest counter. Described as being "for the bolder person hiding inside all of us", Illamasqua boasts a range of highly pigmented makeup in dramatic colours. Indeed, so dramatic that its foundation shades include stark white and coal black.

I managed to get myself down to Selfridges (Oxford St, London) and check out the goodies in person last week. Overall, I was impressed with the quality of the products, although as yet Illamasqua's range is somewhat limited when compared to, for example, MAC.

I ended up buying a palette of 4 lip colours, which turned out to be a great purchase. For £16, you get 4 lip colours of your choice in a custom palette. Granted, on cost-per-gram basis you pay a premium compared to buying a full-size lipstick, however I thought this was a great way to be introduced to the brand and also have something I could take away on summer trips. I ended up choosing 4 matte shades in Abandon (cool pale pink), Corrupt (highly pigmented medium pink), Brink (coral peach) and Encounter (warm red). I've posted up some comparisons of the colours in the palette to MAC & NARS lipsticks so you can see (sorry about the slight blur - the darn camera wouldn't focus!).

What I like about the product: The colours are lovely and very pigmented. They're quite longwearing - I wore Brink yesterday in the summer heat while sipping a Coke Zero and it lasted for hours. And as I mentioned, it's a great way to try out several products from Illamasqua for a small price.

What I dislike: The compact is nice but it's quite bulky, as you can see from the size comparison to the MAC blush. Also, the pans were stuck in with a material similar to double-sided tape. I'm not quite sure whether I can replace individual pans as they run out.

Overall I'm happy with my purchase, as I now have some beautiful bold mattes for summer / travel / evenings out. If you're lucky enough to live close to a counter then definitely check it out, otherwise Illamasqua DO ship worldwide.