Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Overview: Revlon by Marchesa 3D Jewel Appliques

So maybe this post should have preceded my posts on Evening Garnet and Crown Jewels, but there were just so many photos to take/edit, and I'm so very lazy. This is a relatively photo-heavy and text-heavy post, but please endure--these nail appliques are too pretty to miss!

Revlon by Marchesa 3D Jewel Appliques is a collaboration between the makeup savvy of Revlon and the high-end fashion of Marchesa. Each of the eight appliques draws inspiration directly from a gorgeous Marchesa gown that has gone down the runway (see a few of them at Elle). I've loved Marchesa from afar for their elegance and detail, and Revlon has absolutely nailed (har har) the look so that nail art and fashion lovers can have a little bit of couture on their fingertips.

Designs range from full-coverage nail appliques with jewels and crystals to create a 3D look, to flat with clear portions to let a base nail polish of your choice peek through. Each one is so unique, intricate, and unlike anything else I've seen in nail art strips.

Royal Burgundy
Each box comes with 18 nail strips of varying widths from 4mm (5/32") to 16mm (5/8") on two plastic sheets, so I think most people will be able to find a size that fits just right for each nail. Each strip is 2.5cm (1") long, which will cover even those of you with pretty long nails (for reference, I usually don't let my nails get past 1.5cm.) There are usually 2-3 variations of the pattern within a set, which I really like personally because not every nail will look identical. You also get a small nail file and small cuticle stick.

I was lucky enough to get a hold of all 8 applique sets, so here they are:

Crown Jewels is one of the "partial coverage" appliques, with a delicate two-tone gold pattern and small white crystals. I paired it here with a deep purple polish underneath for a really luxe nail.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Revlon by Marchesa Crown Jewels 3D Jewel Appliques

I'm back with another Revlon by Marchesa nail applique for you to lust after! Crown Jewels is one of the eight designs released in this gorgeous collaboration between Revlon and fashion brand Marchesa.

Crown Jewels features two-tone gold in an almost floral pattern, studded with small white crystals. Unlike Evening Garnet, which provides full nail coverage, each applique in Crown Jewels has a clear portion, allowing a base colour of your choice to peek through. Some of the appliques in the set have the design stretching down along the sides, creating a "window" to your base colour (you can kind of see them above in the box.) I went through my nail swatch sticks to figure out a colour that would pair well with the luxurious vibe of this set.

I ended up with Layla Pro N.15 (Purple Vamp), a rich, eggplant purple. Gold and purple together are such a regal combo, and this deep shade makes the gold tones and white crystals stand out even more for a beautiful fall nail look.

I realized afterwards that Revlon promo images for this set show the gold part set on the tip of the nail instead of the base. To me, it made more sense to place them on the base because a) the gold design won't suffer from tip wear (see: pinky nail) and b) I would have to neatly trim the clear end to make sure the applique is just the right length that the gold part hits the tip of my nail.

Speaking of the clear end, I'm not a fan. It slightly alters the finish of the base colour underneath, and can wrinkle like it did on my ring finger. I would have preferred if the applique was cut in the shape of the design, with small clear bits here and there to hold the crystals. This would also make it easier to place the applique on the nail tip if you wanted it that way. Overall though, this is a just a small annoyance compared to the intricate, luxe design that the set offers.

What nail polish colour would you wear under Crown Jewels?

Available at London Drugs, Shoppers Drug Mart: ~$8.95 CAD

Saturday, November 9, 2013

L'Occitane arrives at Oakridge Centre

Since its beginnings in 1976 out of an old soap factory in Marseille, L'Occitane en Provence has grown to have boutiques all over the world and a loyal following of fans that love the south of France-inspired products. Although I've heard great things about their skin care and perfumes, I just never got around to visiting a boutique. Recently, I was invited to check out the newly-opened L'Occitane boutique at Oakridge Centre in Vancouver--how could I not take up a chance to get a guided tour of the new location and the products?

L'Occitane boutique at Oakridge Centre, near the food court
I met manager Rita who showed me around the space and we discussed some of L'Occitane's signature ingredients, such as shea butter from Burkina Faso and lavender from Provence.

One of the very first things that caught my eye about this boutique was this awesome "chandelier" display of L'Occitane shea butter hand creams (all real!) ✧‿✧  If I had something like this hanging around my room, you can bet I'd have gorgeous hands all the time!

After I was done drooling over the chandelier, I met the incredibly sweet Evita, who would be doing my mini-facial and hand massage that day. We discussed my skin issues--dry, recovering from a mean eczema flare-up but otherwise not super sensitive. Although her first instinct was to go with the Shea Butter line for my dry skin, I was worried because rich products can still break me out while my skin adjusts to colder weather. I'm happy that she listened to my concerns and wasn't pushy like some consultants in the beauty industry can be. Instead, we went with the cleansing gel and face toner from the Angelica line, which is a lighter option for hydration and also revitalizes dull skin.

Friday, November 8, 2013

LUSH Christmas 2013 is here!

November means a lot of good and bad Christmas/winter things arrive: Christmas music in stores (bad), peppermint mochas (good), lots of rain in Vancouver (bad, but better than snow), and the LUSH Christmas collection (VERY good!)

Christmas isn't really a big deal in my family (it all went downhill after I realized Santa's notes to me were just my brother writing with his left hand), but I always look forward to the LUSH Christmas release: it's probably their biggest seasonal collection and there's always never-before-seen, new products to discover. I also love the huge variety of gift sets for every price point, perfectly pre-wrapped and ready for the recipient to gush over. I've picked a few gift sets to feature here, but you can see everything at the LUSH website or this handy digital lookbook.

Snow Fairy ($22.95 CAD) is a gift set that includes the much-loved, much-hoarded Snow Fairy shower gel, plus a few other things that will "turn anyone into a cotton-candy scented Snow Fairy":
  • Snow Fairy, a shower gel scented with bubblegum and vanilla, and sprinkled with an iridescent biodegradable glitter
  • Angel's Delight, a beautifully colourful bar soap with a heavenly scent thanks to tangerine, sweet lemon, and gardenia
  • Shimmy Shimmy, a Solid Body Tint scented with vanilla, lavender, and clary sage, and a subtle shimmer that's intended to leave your skin glowing

Igloo ($39.95 CAD) has all the bath goodies you'd want to keep you cozy in a house made of ice blocks, all tied up in a cute reusable cloth:
  • Snowman, a Bath Bomb scented with vanilla and made with lots of softening cocoa butter
  • Christmas Penguin, a suuuper adorable Bubble Bar featuring the citrusy scents of bergamot, sicilian lemon, orange flower, and sicilian mandarin
  • Snow Globe, a refreshingly grapefruit-scented bar soap (one of my favourite scents in the collection!)
  • Blue FUN (review), a multi-talented soap with a calming lavender and chamomile scent
  • Star Light, Star Bright, a shimmering Bath Melt made with nourishing shea butter and coconut oil and scented with lime and ginger

Jolly Hollydays ($45.95 CAD) is a collection of year-round and holiday season bestsellers housed in a reusable hatbox:
  • Buffy, a solid Body Butter packed with ground aduki beans, almonds, and rice as well as lots of shea and cocoa butters to slay dry winter skin
  • Dream Cream, a body lotion made with TLC ingredients like oat milk, rose water, and olive oil to soothe sore skin
  • Lemony Flutter, a cuticle butter with a bright lemony scent and made with shea butter and beeswax to soften cuticles and any other rough patches of skin (a personal fave that I slather on post-mani!)
  • Ocean Salt (review), a lime- and grapefruit-scented sea salt scrub that promises to leave skin bright and smooth
  • Rose Jam, a new and limited edition shower gel with a gorgeous rose scent sweetened with vanilla--it's been a hit with everyone I know
  • Snowcake, a LUSH cult classic, is a bar soap with a scent inspired by marzipan and made with coconut oil and rose absolute to soften skin
Okay, your turn! What are your favourite LUSH Christmas products? Which gift set would you want to see under your Christmas tree?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Summary: Annabelle TwistUp Lipstick Crayons

Hello! I'm finally back with more swatches and my overall thoughts on the Annabelle TwistUp Lipstick Crayons.

As previously mentioned, I was incredibly excited to be a part of Annabelle's #24Days bloggers' swatch project celebrating the addition of 12 new shades (24 total!) to the TwistUp family. Even though the project coincided with a bad eczema flareup, it was really fun anyway: I got to try shades I never would have picked for myself before, and unexpectedly fell in love with a few.

In general, I found the TwistUps to be very comfortable and non-drying to wear, even at the worst point of my eczema flareup, when the skin around my lips can become very dry and sensitive. It glides on without tugging, and the crayon shape helps apply colour precisely. Annabelle calls them a lip liner and lipstick in one, and I agree! I wore even the most intense, bold shades without lip liner and didn't experience any bleeding or feathering.

Without eating or drinking, I probably get about 5-6 hours of wear; the colour does transfer very easily on to coffee mugs, other people's cheeks, etc. I still think it's a great little crayon to pop into your bag, but I have to warn you that the clear caps are a bit flimsy. Some of my crayons have caps that come off a little too easily, and the cap on the Kinky Pink I kept in my makeup bag cracked altogether and came off, coating everything else in the makeup bag bright pink.

Several shades are quite close, so I've sorted them as best as I can figure by colour family and swatched them. I can't guarantee how true to life the colours will appear on your screen, but hopefully my kinda-crappy descriptions help too.

Beige shades in artificial light
Naked is a bit more pink-orange, Havana is more brown, and Absolute is leans very pink. Honestly, all of three of these basically look the same on me, and were rather unflattering for me personally. I think in general, beige shades like these fight too much against the gray-coloured areas of my lips, so the "nude lip look" ends up more like "strange corpse/zombie".

Sidenote: I've realized that referring to colours like these as "nude" is kind of exclusionary, as they are only "nude" for certain shades of people. Just a thought.

Orange shades in artificial light
Orange Pop is a bright red-orange, and the boldest of this set. Mai Tai is like a sheered-out version of Orange Pop. Mimosa and Kiss look very similar in the tube, but Kiss is more orange and a bit more pigmented. Tease is a shimmery brown.

Pink shades (part 1) in artificial light
Absolute also appeared in the beige swatches, but it leans very pink, so I included it here too. Romance is a subdued mauve; Breeze is pinker/less brown. Although it kind of looks red here, Bubble is actually a bright salmon pink. Divine looks brownish on my monitor, but it's actually a dusty rose with a hint of orange. Sorbet is an intense, bright pink, deeper and redder than Bubble.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Revlon by Marchesa Evening Garnet 3D Jewel Appliques

Revlon definitely raised the bar on the nail strip game when they released the super covetable, limited edition Revlon by Marchesa 3D Jewel Appliques collection. The level of detail in each of the designs is incredible and something I hadn't seen before, and Evening Garnet is no exception.

Evening Garnet has an almost fleshy pink UV-cured base. Of all the appliques available, Evening Garnet is the most "3D" with raised red, red-pink, and black jewels in an intricate design. Even the very small red and black ones on the sides are raised.

The large red-orange jewels in the centre glow with a life of their own in the light. The smaller red-pink ones are shimmery but with a more flat finish. These appliques are so beautiful and were so interesting to photograph because of the 3D texture and glowy bits. Because I do love asymmetry in my nail art, I really like that there is some variety in the set--for example, the pattern on the ones used on my forefinger and pinky are different from my middle and ring finger.

I've never used nail strips before, but I managed perfectly fine using the small nail file and cuticle pusher. I was worried about the nail file being able to go through the jewels on the very edge of the nail, but it cut through the hard jelly-like jewels easily after all.

Although the box instructs you to fold down the excess nail strip and file it away sideways, I found this could cause wrinkles in the applique and an uneven strip edge left behind. By the time I got to my left hand, I realized I had much better results filing vertically: from the top side of the nail down. This helped the free edge of the nail strip grab on to the underside of my nail tip, sort of in the same way I "seal" my nail polish by running my brush along the tip of my nails.

So did you folks notice that a few of my nails are missing jewels at the tips? This is kinda embarrassing, but I didn't actually notice this until after I had done all the photographing and was reviewing the pictures on my computer. This was probably 1-2 days after the application, and I'm not particularly rough on my nails or hands. I suspect the 3D-ness might have affected how quickly the jewels at the tip wore off.

I'm not sure how long other nail strips last, but within 2 days the edges of the strips were also starting to lift away. These strips are really gorgeous, but won't last long. On the plus side, it was extremely easy to peel each applique away in one entire piece--even though I had applied base coat (no top coat, though)--making removal a snap.

I'll be posting an overview of the full collection soon! What has your experience with nail strips been like?

Available (limited edition) at London Drugs, Shoppers Drug Mart: ~$8.95 CAD

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