Estee Lauder Pure Color Nail Lacquer polish 63 Sweet Pea review/ swatch

These are the new additions to the large range of the Estee Lauder pure color nail lacquers in 2011.

Here's my 2nd bottle from the new collection from 2011, in #63 Sweet Pea.

In the bottle it is a shimmery mid-tone rosy pink. It's shimmery (but without visible glitters and is not foiled finish or metallic). The shimmers are not fine enough to be called pearly.

I have to admit it looks better now I look at the photos than when it's actually on my nails. I was very underwhelmed by this shade- it is so average looking. I can think of tonnes of mid-tone OPI shades which look better (E.g. a dozen rosas, or something mauvy like Japanese rose garden). However not actual OPI shade really pops in my mind that's a dupe for this.  A dozen rosas is paler than this, while Japanese rose garden is a completely different shade (mauvy pink).

The pink is a brightened pink rose- in real life it sort of borderlines between pink rose vs rosy pink red. I think my photos are a tiny bit paler than in real life. It's not fuschia pink based, but it does look 'brightening' just due to the color alone.

I consider the pic below to be the most accurate color respresentation in photo.

Ok I really can't get excited about this color- only wore it for 2 days before I got bored...

I find that Estee Lauder deeper shades seem to stain nails a bit more, my nails were looking a bit yellow after taking this off (and last few days I was also trying other Estee Lauder polishes). Despite having worn a thin base coat. Would  be interested to hear if anyone else experienced similar issues.

Overall 2.5 or 3/5 for the color, it gets a 4 for the wear- tentatively a bit less if it does in fact stain more than other brand of nail polishes.


Fancl Moist & Vital Mask review

I was going through all my face masks (I must always have at least 30-50 sheet masks around! Sometimes you buy a box and it comes with a generous 5 or 6 sheets so it accumulates so quickly), othertimes I get some samples when I purchase other items or single masks in gift sets etc.

I have to admit I'm quite lazy when it comes to face masks- usually after work I just go home, watch some tv, surf the net, then shower and going to bed. Face masks generally are required to be left on your face for a good 10minutes and often even upto 30 minutes for best results, so it's such a pain to finish shower, put on face mask, then wait around for it. I haven't actually used face mask frequent enough this year to justify keep on buying them.

However I've tried to change my routine a bit, I try to take a shower earlier, then after shower, put on a sheet mask, then start doing other things like applying body moisturiser, or remove my nailpolish or even drying my hair. Then this has proven to be a bit more time efficient so out of 7 days this week, I've actually managed to try 4 face masks.

Here's the Fancl Moist & Vital mask. Most Fancl masks comes in a standard 3 sheets. However during holiday season Fancl tend to have special promo packs where you get a full sized serum, some massage gel and one or two sheets of masks. This is usually how I come about trying most of the Fancl masks.

I was in shock when I was going through the masks thinking I've got a few varieties of Fancl masks to try, but they are all the SAME moist & vital mask. lol. They are just in different packaging since some came with the promotional sets I bought! The mask on the very RIGHT is the standard packaging when you buy a box of 3.

I'm trying this one below first (they are all the same...just different packaging). In HK Fancl the Chinese name is "滋養‧修護精華面膜 "

Ingredient: each pack contains 18ml of essence which is standard for most sheet masks (usually the range is 15ml - 21ml). The aim of this mask is " skin elasticity, anti-aging, anti-oxident". The main ingredients are the signature Fancl HTC collagen and other items.  Targeted at dry/ aged skin.

Personally I find most Fancl ranges are just fine for those with normal to combo skin even if it says targeted at dry mature skin. Fancl products usually contain low irritants and are quite good for those with sensitive skin. This particular mask is a bit more nourishing than most other Fancl masks I've tried.

The consistency of the essence inside is also a bit more milky and a little bit thicker (in a nice hydrating way, not the pore clogging feeling).

Here's what it looks like on the skin- it has pretty good adherence and seems to fit my face shape quite well. As usual with sheet masks it's normal for the nose section to be slightly uneven since most people have quite different nose shapes. This one felt fine on me.

 I left this on for 20minutes. There was also enough essence left over to apply for rest of the body. So using a sheet mask is really quite economical. I do not follow with another moisturiser like recommended on the back packaging of the mask as I felt the mask had enough oopmh to hydrate overnight.

Afterwards I was left with supple, hydrated skin. It's slightly tacky to touch but not unbearable. Next morning I didn't experience any clogged pores (as I'd experience when I use more nourishing night creams of some face masks). My skin looks and feels a bit more plump and smooth to touch and makeup goes over it very easily.

Using a sheet mask really does help with your skin for emergency days- I've had quite little sleep this week like 4-5 hours a day, but using face masks (alternating between different brands) 4 times this week has meant I barely look tired. In fact for the past 2 days I've been able to just wear a slightly light diffusing primer, concealer then apply some pressed powder or very light powder foundation on the top and I was good to go. No BB cream or liquid foundation required.

Overall 5/5 for this mask. It doesn't do miracles but it does exactly what it says- hydrates, improves skin elasticity. Not to mention it feels quite comfortable on the face. Would probably not recommend this for those with oily skin or active acnes/ breakouts.


Seche Base- Seche Vite Ridge Filling Base Coat review/ swatch

Seche Base (Ridge Filling Base Coat) is a sheer white shimmer base coat that is supposed to be a bit 'ridge filling'. Ridges on your nails means sometimes your nails may not be smooth and can appear a bit bumpy or there are lines through it. I never really had that issue- but I'm always interested in trying different base coat combinations so I thought I'd give this a try.

My favorite top coat in the world is Seche Vite fast dry top coat, so I had high expectations for this base coat as well.
Comes in a 15ml bottle like the top coat.
The brush is same size as top coat too. It's not as wide as OPI Pro wide brushes but feels like a standard nail polish brush.

Here's what it looks like with 1 coat. Obviously the white shimmer sort of diffuses any ridges (as opposed to actually treating the issue of ridges. I don't have any ridges but you can see how this base coat looks like anyway. It sort of smoothes over your nails. It's sheer but the white shimmer is there.

This is also good to use when you have white spots on the nails (due to previous physical damages to nails or sometimes nutrition deficiency- surely everyone's experienced that at some stage).

From this angle it shows the shimmers a bit better- it's a bit pearly, but too sheer to be called an actual pearl finish.

Overall I think this works as :
- providing a slightly white base before you apply very sheer nailpolishes, especially french shades.
- the shimmers diffuses light a bit to mask any nail irregularities like ridges or white spots
- if your tips has been stained / turned yellow (usually from wearing very dark shades for too long), this will help to mask it and mail the nails look whiter.

It does exactly the above two points, I like applying french/ sheer shades over this since it will give more color payoff. However the pearlyness of this base also means it can alter whatever shade you put on top as well, either adding a more pearly look to it (like my Essie Anniversary Gala here) and lets a sheerer color show through better. It enhances whites and pinks and nudes the best.

However will have little use if you use an opaque creme shade over this.

Now the cons of this- it seems to be slow drying, and if it doesn't dry thoroughly before you apply the other polishes, it seems to goop up the polish on top and makes it a bit thickish.  This reason alone is why I haven't reached for this base coat very often. This also means while it looks like it can double as a pearly white shimmer nailpolish, the thickness means it's hard to apply more than 1 coat.

For other base coats that provides some 'white' base color before application (unfortunately, no pearl finish though) are the Maquillage basecoats and Nailtek Foundation II. Both works better as base coats with a white tint. For clear ones I like Orly bonder, which is fast drying, thin and easy to apply, and adheres to whatever polish on the top quite well, but doesn't seem to prevent nail staining when wearing dark shades.

Overall 3/5. Will not be repurchasing.

What are your favorite nail polish base coats? I would love to hear some other recommendations!

Essie Anniversary Gala #562 Nail Polish Lacquer review/ swatch

Essie Anniversary Gala (code 562)  is a pearly pink (with slightest hint of peach- not sure whether the peachiness comes from my natural nail color or from the polish itself though), semi opaque finish polish, which flashes a touch of firefly green and at some angles, slightly white/yellow flash.

Not sure how many people have seen firefly in real life, but they flicker with a very gentle, slightly green and yellow tinged light in the dark, at least in Taiwan. (In NZ I remember they looked just yellow).

It's a very very soft green flash, that doesn't standout glaringly.  It adds a touch of cool-toned feel to the polish but overall shade I would call it neutral.

I had to tilt the bottle to show the sligtht green flash , see the top of the picture it captures a little bit of green.

It's semi opaque so probably need 2 coats or 3 for the pink base to show up. It will never build up to full opacity. Depends on which base coat you wear, you can manipulate the finish of this.

Here's 2 coats on the nails- on the middle and index finger I did a 3 coat but turned it a bit goopy and uneven =(  However it seems 2 coats is sufficient to build up the pink color base, without going to 3 coats.

You can see how it's a pearly finish- however it's sort of not a full pearl, the shimmers are just a bit larger than a normal pearl finish which means when applied not carefully enough, it can look a bit streaky or uneven.

I'm wearing Seche Vite base coat which is a slightly opaque white pearl. So it enhances the pearliness of Anniversary Gala and hides my natural nail tip white a little bit and brings out the pink base more as well. In the bottle above you can see the pink base much more clearly.

Overall I'm not sure what I really feel about this shade- it's unique enough for me to keep and obviously I've worn it at least 4-5 times judging by how much is left in the bottle (which is rare for me! I have so many it's hard for me to go back to same shade like 5 times).

Overall 3.5 or 4/5. It's a gorgeous pearly pink with a flash of green/gold shade, however wish the pearlised pigments/shimmers were finer (like OPI Tutti Fruitti Tonga would be nice- bytheway this a a fair bit pinker than Tutti Fruitti Tonga and totally different), the consistency would also be improved as it can look streaky even with careful application, and does not seem to dry fast at all.


Sofina Whitening Mask (Sheet masks) review - secret to looking like extra 5 hours of sleep

Sofina Whitening Masks in the follow packaging was released around early 2010 (and it still looks like this for 2011 too). With most Japanese brands, they tend to revamp the packaging from year to year but the product is often very similar to previous versions (usually they say it's 'upgrade' to new ingredient or whatever additives is popular in that year).
Each box pack contains 5 sheets of mask I think. They are around 25-38USD depending on whether they are on sale or not. It is common for Sofina brands to be a bit more heavily discounted in Japanese drugstores.

The packaging is a lot prettier than my photo- it's a silvery blue centre.

Back of the sheet mask. It says use after cleansing your face and after your toner.

I find it interesting how a lot of sheet masks always say use after toner- if I was using a sheet mask I would want all the active ingredients to go directly to my cleansed face so I never prep with a toner.

However I always try to do a light scrub either the night before or right before I use any face masks. I have combination skin with a bit of oilies back in my teens and early 20s, now after 25 my skin is normalising and have far less oilies. However it is now more sensitive and prone to clogging. Therefore having cleansed skin is quite important for me before using face masks as they are often very nourishing and may just be a tad pore clogging.

Each sheet mask is infused with a whopping 24ml of serum inside.

Here's what it looks like- it is actually a 2-section sheet mask.  Like this. Top half and bottom half.

The liquid is a milky liquid, not runny at all but not too thick.  The material of the mask is a firm sheet mask feel, heavy enough to feel substantial on the face, yet not so thick as to feel all the serum's being wasted.

You apply the top portion of mask and fit around your forehead and upper face. Then you apply the lower sheet on around cheek and chin area. You can see there's some overlap (side of my face below).

However it is this design which I love! My cheek area is slightly drier so the overlap gives some extra oomph. Having the bottom sheet over the top sheet also means it sort of 'lifts' the face a bit and make sure the mask stays put. Having 2 separate halves also means it fits your face much much better. This is the few face mask which does not have air bumps here and there once applied to my face and it just gives such good coverage.

p.s. the eye area is just hollow, I know some brands don't trim out the eye area entirely and leave a foldable flap there, so you can mask your eyelid (with closed eyes) as well. However I don't really mind. 

The mask is the signature Sofina scent. It's light and pleasant and doesn't give me a headache.

I apply for a generous 20min after shower. During which time I can do pretty much everything else and walking around the hosue with the mask on if I want. (Some masks are too slippery that you have to stay lying down). Then I remove the mask and leave it on my knees or arm as a quick body mask again. There's also enough serum left in the sheet package even after taking the mask out, which is enough to be used all over body as a quick moisturiser.

The after effect is I get immediately plumped and hydrated skin. I think this mask is marketed as being hydrating and whitening and I do feel it does both quite well.

It doesn't give me super clear, radiant skin- but my skin just looks so well rested the next day (despite I may have only slept for 3 hours).  Sometimes I sleep really late and I still slap a mask on for 15-20min before I sleep, and it's quite amazing what it does the next day. I still feel tired but my face doesn't look anything like I haven't had 8 hrs sleep.

After removing this mask, it doesn't feel sticky (slightly tacky light I applied a night moisturiser that's all). Feels comfortable, pleasant to use, gets 5/5 from me. I don't follow with a separate moisturiser or serum liek the packaging suggested, because this mask is not so runny and filled with liquid only, like some other masks, that you need to seal the moisture in with something else. I go straight to bed =)

I've bought about 4 boxes to date and will continue to use this. (I also use a lot of other masks but come back to this one quite often). Great for emergencies! A little bit pricey to be used regularly like 2-3 times a week so I only use this about once a week or fortnight, other times I go with other masks.

Dr Scholl Medi Qtto Sleep Wearing Slimming Overnight Socks review

This is one of those popular products I keep seeing in Japanese and other Taiwanese beauty magazines and various online blogs. Basically these are a bit like those compression/ pressure socks you wear on the plane to avoid blood clotting etc and aliviate symptoms of varicose veins. (However these are not 'medically specific for varicous veins, these are just more like a beauty product).

They are suitable for people who spends a lot of time either standing at work or sitting at work and don't get enough circumlation in the legs (e.g. issues of fluid retention, visible veins and sore legs after a day of standing etc). And of course, the catch phrase- slimming socks.

You wear these at night time, it looks like just on the picture once you put it on. The socks are different to the cheaper compression socks you get where the pressure is same throughout the socks- instead it's woven in a way that different target zones have different hPA counts.
The picture below is pretty self explanatory on how to put it on. I love the fact that for the foot section, it's really shaped to your ankle and heels so it's very comfortable.

Comes packed in plastic:

Looks like this- it's pretty long so I folded the middle bit in.

The light purple bit on the top is for the heels. I love the fact it doesn't cover your toes like other bed socks which can get really stuffy and uncomfortable during your sleep.

The socks comes in 2 sizes, M for medium or L for large. See the table on picture below. It's based on your height and measurement of your leg. I just went by my height which is in the L zone. However I probably could've gone with M since the other leg measurements are probably in the M zone.

M is for height of 150-160cm, thickest circumference of lower leg 30-38cm, ankle circumference 19-23cm, feet length of 22-24cm
L is for height of 155-165cm, thickest circumference of lower leg 34-42cm,ankle circumference 21-25cm, feet length of 23-25cm

In terms of measurement when picking the size I could probably recommend people to just consider your height and the thickest circumference of lower leg- unless your ankle and feet are significantly different to average sizes it will probably be less of a factor.

(Bottom right corner of the box says "L")

These are more commonly sold in Japanese drugstores, probably $18-25USD?
They are washable, but over time as they are more or less 'elastic' so it'll stretch out a bit, then it's time to replace a new pair (maybe every 3-4 mths? depending on how often you wear this), because it only works when there's the right amount of pressure being applied.

My thoughts are these are extremely comfortable to wear, the fabric is amazingly somewhat 'cooling' - as in the fabric never gets hot or even too warm (but not as in it literally feels cold).  I do like the amount of slight pressure it applies on my legs, especially after a long day of sitting in front of the computer all day in the office (or a day of shopping lol )  they are comfortable to sleep in as well.

Next morning I do notice a bit less fluid retention on the legs and my legs feel a bit refreshed and not as sore.

This is not a gimmicky product in terms of the term "slimming", it doesn't help you lose weight and is not meant to. Instead the pressure helps with blood circulation and soothes tired legs.

The sizing is probably for standard sized girls- if your legs are much above the measurement provided on the box you can find these either too tight or too loose.

Overall 5/5, does exactly what it's supposed to do. I'll purchase a size M soon for summer since I generally lose a kilo or two when it gets warmer.


Jill Stuart Jelly Lip Gloss 21 Dreamy Paradise review/ swatch

Jill Stuart jelly lipgloss in number 21, Dreamy Paradise was limited edition for 2011 collection.

As usual, Jill Stuart really only makes things in the pretty pink/peach/apricot/strawberry pink sort of category, which means when it comes to sheerer lipglosses, once on the lips many of the colors will look so similar.

21 Dreamy Paradise is a shimmery apricot peach with some pink, but more apricot/peach. The shimmers infused are not very dense (but still visible), they are also very fine which means they look natural on the lips. The shimmers flash a bit pink but generally blends into the base color of the lipgloss.

The Jelly Lipglosses all come with the slant tube applicator (like Lancome juicy tubes, but with way prettier packaging).

Here's the swatch- exactly like in the tube.

However, you can see once blended out, the color is very very sheer. It will not cover those with more red lips, but will just tone it down slightly. This makes those no-brain slap on lipglosses when you are in a hurry though.

As with most Jill Stuart items, they come with the signature scent which is a bit sweet and fruity.

The lipglosses are medium tackyness, they don't seem to migrate out of the liplines a whole lot so they stay relatively put.

Overall rating is 3/5.

21 Dreamy Paradise, while looks so pretty and babypeach like in the tube, it could do with a bit more color payoff. It's not completely clear, but for those with even medium rosy lips this will probably just blend in and disappear.


MAC Mineralized Eyeshadow Mineral Mode review/ swatch

MAC Mineralized Eyeshadow in Mineral Mode is from the 2011 limited edition Semi-precious collection.

I purchased this not really sure what the color might be in real life, I thought it would probably be a base coor even if the color's not what I expected.

In the pan it looks like a shimmery white eyeshadow base with loads of blued grey/earthy red veining.

 However once swatched, I find it very hard to discern what 'color' it is. Instead I would almost call it a white shimmery sheer eyeshadow with other sandy beige/ beige pink/ and very few flecks of grey shimmers.

It works as an eyeshadow base color / overall wash, but does not have very obvious color payoff.

From a distance it looks like a beigy-white base, but I suspect it's just blending in very well with my skin color (instead of having an actual color on its own).  Hrrrmmm interesting shade, not something I expected.

It seems a bit more 'refined' than other mineralized eyeshadow from this series, it's still not super finely milled and evenly pigment sized, but it's smooth enough to be applied as an overall eyeshadow base and I'm content with that.

Not a must have, but worth considering if you are missing an eyeshadow base something like this.

Overlal 3.5/5.

p.s. in hindsight, I probably got a mineral mode with VERY little veining which means I got something really different looking to like temptalia's swatch here

It's a bit ridiculous the same shade color can vary this much though...

Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel review

Mario Badescu feels a bit similar to Kiehls for me- those simplistic packaging, products emphasising on somewhat 'natural based ingredients' (e.g. seaweed, enzyme, clays etc etc )- which are not really reflected in the massive seemingly chemical filled ingredient lists of either brands, but oh well =)

Out of curiosity in the brand I purchased a few items  through a friend (which were very difficult since they seem almost exclusive to NY or something and did not ship overseas)- access in Australia just seems costly and difficult after taking into account the postage and all.

The enzyme cleansing gel comes in a gernous 8oz (236ml) bottle. The bottle is a soft plastic but with decent thickness, I've dropped it in the shower a few times but never seems to shatter or damage the bottle.

Ingredient list and all on the back:

Applicator is interesting- the plastic bit flips up and you just squeeze it to get some product out. After you are done just flick it down to 'lock' it in. Pretty nifty. Due to the gel nature of the product I don't really get 'hardened' residue around the opening either like some of these dispensers.

The gel like it looks in the bottle, is a light green color. Not the most pleasing looking. It's slightly 'thickish' gel, but not very hard to spread over dry skin or wet skin. The instruction for the product says to massage on wet skin, then rinse. (Product is not marketed as a makeup remover, so it's just a normal cleanser).

It's a cleanser which features enzymes, which are known to be able to gently exfoliate the skin without harsh grains or physical buffing. The enzyme takes the dead skin away gradually and gently.

Spreading the gel out on damp skin- there are no granules in this or anything, just a simple gel. It does NOT foam or do anything like that. It goes a little bit more slippery once massaged onto damp skin and rinses off easily.

I tend to try to massage this in for 30 seconds at least before rinsing, most enzyme based products require you to leave it slightly longer on the skin for the enzymes to kick in and start exfoliating. 

After rinsing off, you get slightly more radiant and smoother skin. It will NOT take away large flaky skin immediately like those granular scrubs, it is designed for a very gentle, even exfoliation used in place of a face wash. Either suitable for those with slightly sensitive skin (used a few times a week in place of physical scrub), or for those with oily skin who need a lot more regular exfoliation on a daily basis- this would double as a face wash easily.

This is an enzyme based gel cleanser, it's not as potent as say something like Dermalogica Microfoliant (probably my favorite enzyme type of cleanser). However it is intended to be used more regularly than something like the microfoliant (which I feel is a bit harsh on my sensitive skin if used daily, and obviously my skin doesn't really need daily exfoliation either).

I've been using this on and off for a while, definitely having difficulty going through the bottle! Given the generous size of the bottle I've also started using it for my upper body (where you tend to get some congestion on chest area etc) and it is probably not potent enough to replace a body scrub.

This is a pretty decent, mildly exfoliating gel cleanser. However the biggest issue I have with this (and a lot of people might also have), is the scent. It's a bit of a chemical/ fake floral scent which I really dislike.

I've been using this in conjunction with my new Clarisonic mia face brush and it seems to work ok too.

Overall 3.5/5. Recommend you grabbing a sample and try for at least 1 week before purchasing the full sized bottle. It is those exfoliating cleansers people would either love or hate.