Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer: A Review

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin EnhancerI squealed with excitement when I saw that Kevyn Aucoin was finally going to be carried at Sephora. I have a soft spot for Kevyn Aucoin (R.I.P) as his books were my makeup bible when I was younger. I’d wanted to try the sensual skin enhancer (SSE) for a looooooong time and this was the impetus I needed. The price had always put me off but this time I said “screw it” and clicked “order”.

According to the brand, the sensual skin enhancer’s “all-in-one, waterproof formula delivers complete coverage when used as a concealer, highlighter, an all-over foundation, or to contour your features. Infused with jojoba and honey, it works to hydrate the skin, and it is formulated with minerals that support the skin and is sweat proof and transfer resistant for full coverage and long-lasting wear.” 

I couldn’t decide which shade I wanted so I went ahead and ordered both SX12 and SX13.

Kevyn Aucoin SSE 13I knew I’d be primarily using the SSE as a highlighting product rather than a concealer so I ordered shades that were lighter than my skin tone.

First off, these are hands down the creamiest face products I own. When I say a little bit goes a long way, I mean a little bit goes a looooong way. You could use this as a concealer/ highlight every day for two years and I’m sure there’d be plenty left in the jar. The jar in which the product arrives is tiny but do not be fooled. There’s more than enough product for the price. It blends very easily and dries down to a semi-matte finish on me.

Left: SSE in SX13, Right: SSE in SX12

Left: SSE in SX13, Right: SSE in SX12

SX12 is an extremely yellow shade whilst SX13 leans more neutral. My perfect shade is when I mix the two colours together but I’d already determined to take back the colour that wasn’t my shade and at $48 a pop and with an overflowing concealer drawer, I can’t really justify keeping them both.

Aside from the price, my other gripe is that I find that this doesn’t stay put on me as long as my NARS radiant creamy concealer. I often have to touch up with a little powder whenever I wear this while I can often go for a full day with my NARS. Additionally, I think that those of you with very dry under-eye areas should beware. I have relatively normal skin under my eyes and I found that this can sometimes highlight any dry patches if I don’t properly hydrate beforehand. It’s also definitely not transfer-proof as claimed.

However, I love the look of this when I prime under my eyes with my Smashbox hydrating under-eye primer and set it with my MAC MSF in “dark”. I typically apply it with my fingers and blend it out with my beauty blender. It lasts all day with this method and it really does look beautiful. I’d love to try the SSE in a shade that matches my skin tone in the future and wear it as a foundation as I think it has a gorgeous finish.

In conclusion, this is a product that I’d class as a “nice to have” rather than a “must have” because you can definitely find comparable products for far less money. However, the versatility of the SSE is wonderful bonus (particularly for make up artists) and I’d encourage you to at least try a sample if you can.

The SSE can be found at Kevyn Aucoin counters in most high-end department stores and online at Sephora.

Any of you tried the sensual skin enhancer? What are your thoughts?

Nana Adomah

Cover FX Contour Kit: A Review

I’ve been pretty vocal about my general dislike of contour palettes. I really don’t think that the average, non-make up artist needs a palette with three or more different shades of contour. I think I was just tired of people bringing me that picture of Kim Kardashian and expecting that they would automatically look like her with a bit of contouring and lashings of banana powder. I’ve also been generally unmoved by the numerous contour palettes on offer as they tend to ignore us darker-skinned women. However cue Ginuwine’s “Differences” when I laid eyes on this beauty. My whole life has chaaaaaanged since you came in….”

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Sturdy cardboard packaging.

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Colours included in the the N Deep kit.

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Kit includes a handy “how-to” guide.

 I’ve been a huge fan of Cover FX since I first came across the brand 3 years ago and I have a few (unpublished smdh) drafts waiting in my post editor. I was all about their cream foundation for a couple of years until I transferred my affections to their liquid foundation. The Canadian company focuses on face make up only and they do their job fantastically well. They produce stellar products without parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrances, synthetic dyes, petrochemicals, phthalates, etc. etc. Look out for a “Brand Focus” post on the brand very soon.

Now onto the contour kit: the kit comprises of three shades of their cream foundation in N60, N90, and N120 in addition to their illuminator in “Candlelight”. The contour kit comes in 6 shades for very fair skin all the way to deeper skin tones. I wear N90/ N100 in the cream foundation so the contour kit in “N Deep” was perfect for me. I can highlight with the N60, contour with the N120, illuminate with candlelight and use N90 as a foundation in a pinch (or mix it with the other colours to tone them down).

The creams are very full-coverage so a little bit goes a long way and the cream dries down to a very natural finish. However, those of you with very oily skin will want to use a good mattifying primer to avoid grease face.

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True colours of the creams in the contour kit after the top layer has been rubbed off.

The contour kit comes with numbers so you can easily follow the “how-to” guide included with the kit. I was apprehensive about how orange #4 looked when I first opened the kit but the true colour of the shade was revealed once I rubbed off the top layer.

Cover FX Contour kit on dark skin swatch N Deep

Outdoor and indoor swatches from L-R: N60, Candlelight, N90, N120

The contour kit retails for $48 and this is well in line with the price of most high-end contour kits around. It initially reminded me of the Laura Mercier contour kit but I like that this kit is specifically tailored to my skin tone. I can easily use each and every shade in one application and that alone makes if very worth the price tag.

It’s so refreshing to see a well-thought out product that doesn’t seem to be a desperate money grab these days so I’m thankful for this kit. It’s already available on the Cover FX  and Sephora websites and look for it in Sephora stores from this week onward.

Contour palettes: yay or nay? Let me know in the comments!

Nana Adomah

P.S. Check out these swatches of the other contour kits I found on the Sephora website:

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Best Makeup of 2014

IMG_19412014 was a great year for beauty. I discovered new brands, I fell in love with old ones and I become more discerning about the products I purchased. I tried to avoid unnecessary hype where I could and I also learned to “shop my stash”. I’ve been trying to compile this best of 2014 list for a few weeks now and I’ve been struggling to cut the list down to a manageable length. I love sharing beauty discoveries and I also love to read recommendations from other people so I’ve decided to split my list into makeup and skincare.

Without further ado, here are my favourite makeup products of 2014:

Foundation: I tried a LOT of foundations this year and I have to say that my number one pick has to be the BECCA ultimate coverage complexion creme. This one-pump-wonder has the most amazing pigmentation and coverage, stays put the whole day, and still looks like skin. I will definitely be doing a dedicated review very soon.

Honourable mentions: Cover FX natural finish oil-free foundation, Dior Star foundation, Lancôme nude miracle, Make Up For Ever HD foundation.

Concealer: This was my easiest pick out of my list and the honour goes to the NARS radiant creamy concealer. I have absolutely nothing bad to say about this. It covers blemishes beautifully without looking cakey and it has great staying power. My only gripe is the price but this is definitely one product that lives up to the hype.

Honourable mentions: Amazing Concealer, MAC studio finish concealer, Smashbox BB for eyes

Eyebrows: I flirted with MANY brow products in 2014 but the one that rose to the top is the Make Up For Ever Aqua Brow. The tiniest amount of this gel fills in brows perfectly and it really doesn’t budge once it’s dry. Anastasia Beverly Hills’ dipbrow pomade got all the hype but this old faithful is a better product imho. It does everything dipbrow does but better. Anastasia’s brow wiz was another product I loved but I couldn’t give it the top spot because there’s far too little product in the pencil for the price.

Honourable mentions: Hourglass arch brow sculpting pencil, Anastasia Beverley Hills Brow Wiz, Tarte Amazonian Clay waterproof brow mousse

Eyeliner: For pencil eyeliners, my heart unequivocally belongs to the Marc Jacobs highliner gel eye crayon in “blacquer”. I’m a contact lens wearer so I don’t muck about when I’m looking for an eyeliner. This liner is deliciously creamy, intensely black and Does. Not. Budge. once it dries. I used to carry my eyeliner in my makeup bag so I could touch up during the day but that is now thankfully a thing of the past.

For gel/ liquid liners, I have to give the nod to Benefit’s They’re Real push up liner. I HATED this with a passion when I first got it but something told me to give it another chance I couldn’t be more pleased. Once I learned how to use it properly, it made doing a winged liner so easy and it truly does not budge until you want it to.

Honourable mentions: NARS larger than life long wear eyeliner in “via veneto”, Stila stay all day waterproof liquid eyeliner, MUFE Aqua black, Kat Von D ink liner,

Blush: I stuck with my beloved NARS and Sleek blushes this year and my most used shades were NARS’ “Liberté”, “Torrid”, and “Dolce Vita”, and Sleek’s “sunrise” and “coral”. BECCA’s blush in “songbird” muscled its way in towards the end of the year and it’s definitely a shade I believe everybody should own.

Honourable mentions: Kat Von D ” heartagram”, Make Up For Ever HD blush #515- tangerine

Mascara: I went mascara crazy this year. I began to appreciate why higher-end mascaras cost so much after I flirted with Dior, Lancome, YSL, and Givenchy. MUFE’s smoky lash and old favourites like Benefit’s They’re Real did not disappoint. This category is very hard but I have to give the edge to the Givenchy Noir Couture 4 in 1 mascara over the Lancome Grandiose. It gave me length, it gave me volume, it gave me durability, and it gave me conditioned lashes. If only it was a little easier on the pocket….

Honourable mentions: YSL Babydoll, Maybelline Volum’ Express The Falsies, Dior New Look, Lancome Grandiose, Givenchy Noir Couture Volume

Eyeshadow: This was surprisingly easy for me as the eyeshadow I used the most was the old-stye Make Up For Ever eyeshadow in #162. I used it as a crease colour, as a transition colour, and as the star of my favourite brown smoky eye look.

Honourable mentions: ColourPop super shock eyeshadows in “cricket” and “so quiche”, MAC “woodwinked”, NARS “Persia”, NARS dual intensity shadow “callisto, UD “mugshot” and “blackout”

Lipstick: It’s extremely difficult to pick just one lipstick but I loved the hell out of my Urban Decay Revolution lipstick in “shame” (check out my review here) and my Hourglass opaque rouge liquid lipstick in “Icon”.

Honourable mentions: Bite “vento” lipstick, MAC “flat out fabulous”, NARS “damage” and “Dragon Girl” lipsticks.

Lipgloss: This has to be another tied category with the winners being the Dior Addict Fluid Stick in #575 “Wonderland” and the NARS “Priscilla” lipgloss. They both had great pigment and stayed really well on my lips without any stickiness (my pet peeve).

Honourable mention: They arrived too late to fully make it to the top but the Smashbox lip lacquers are fantastic. YSL gloss volupte #49, Buxom full-bodied lipgloss in “Dolly”.

So there you have it. This list was surprisingly difficult to put together but I have to say that I’m really loving my collection at the moment. I’m hoping to buy (FAR) less this year but I’m excited to see some truly innovative makeup. Let me know if you’d like an in-depth review of any of these products and keep an eye out for part 2 featuring my favourite skincare!

Nana Adomah

NARS Dual-Intensity Eyeshadow Palette Review

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NARSissistNARS are really messing with my low-buy aim for 2015. When they first launched their dual-intensity eyeshadows last year, I decried their $29 price tag but I still went ahead and purchased two of them in addition to the one I was gifted. I remember wishing they came in a palette as I loved so many of their colours so imagine my joy when I saw this beauty on the NARS instagram page!

This 8-shadow palette includes smaller versions of the full-sized shadows in addition to a shorter version of the #49 wet/dry eyeshadow brush, which retails for $28.

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L-R: Europa (gossamer pink peach), Himalia (shimmering topaz), Andromeda (alabaster), Lysithea (shark grey)

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L-R: Europa wet and dry application, Andromeda wet and dry, Himalia wet and dry, Lysithea wet and dry.

These shadows are designed to be used as is, or with a wet brush to give a more intense finish. My (admittedly not fantastic swatches) show how they look both wet and dry.

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L-R: Ursa Major (chocolate glaze), Subra (black orchid), Giove (navy), Sycorax (black)

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L-R: Ursa Major wet and dry, Giove wet and dry, Subra wet and dry, Sycorax wet and dry.

I absolutely adore these shadows but they are not all created equal. “Europa”, “Andromeda”, and “Ursa Major” (a shade exclusive to this palette) definitely took more swipes to show up like I wanted compared to the other colours. “Subra”, “Himalia”, “Giove” and “Sycorax” are a joy to work with and they can be used in so many ways. I love to use “Subra” as a liner as can be seen here.

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The addition of the #49 brush is very welcome and I don’t see a difference in quality between this shorter version and the full-sized version. The brush’s nylon bristles allow you to control how much product you put on your eye.

A quick word on packaging: the palette is small. It is also made of hard plastic with a mirrored lid, which is a welcome change from the usual NARS rubbery packaging. It’s nice and sturdy but I don’t think it’d hold up to many drops.

As much as I love the palette I can’t call it a must-have. There is not much variety in texture and the price is going to be prohibitive for a lot of people. The $79 price tag is easier to swallow when you consider the inclusion of the brush and the variety of shadows. However, these shadows were too expensive to begin with imho and NARS’ prices just keep on creeping upwards.

I’ve never bought a NARS palette before because as much as I love their brand, I tend to be generally indifferent to their shadows. However, these dual-intensity shadows are generally excellent quality and if you like at least three of the shades, I’d highly recommend getting this palette instead.

The palette is limited edition and it can currently be found on the NARS website or you can wait until the beginning of February when Sephora will begin to carry it.

Are you tempted by this palette or will you pass? Let me know in the comments!

Nana Adomah

Purple Is Not Just A Noun: MAC “Gunner” lipstick review

IMG_1533It seems like MAC have a new collection out every week and I don’t tend to get caught up in the hype but I knew that “Gunner” would be mine as soon as I saw the pre-release. I love purple lipsticks and I don’t have a shade like this so I bought it with no guilt!

“Gunner” is part of the Nasty Gal collection and it is one of a trio of lipsticks called “Stunner” (a true red), “Runner” (a plummy burgundy), and “Gunner” (a matte, deep purple). “Gunner” is so purple that it can lean blue in certain lights. It reminds me a little of OCC’s “technopagan” lip tar and it’s nothing like MAC’s popular “smoked purple” as I’d initially feared.

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Top: swatch with flash, Bottom: swatch in natural daylight

 

“Gunner” is matte but not a retro-matte so it won’t dry out your lips like Ruby Woo et. al. However, a matte lipstick is a matte lipstick so make sure your lips are in tip top condition before rocking this as it is very unforgiving.

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“Gunner” on myself paired with Urban Decay’s “Smoked” palette

I predicted that “Gunner” would be popular and it seems to be out of stock already on the MAC website but continue to check as they may replenish stock. The Nasty Gal collection is in selected MAC stores and online here.

Would you rock a purple lip? Let me know in the comments!

 All the other colors are just colors, but purple seems to have a soul. Purple is not just a noun and an adjective but also a verb – when you look at it, it’s looking back at you.” Uniek Swain

Nana Adomah

Collective Haul: Lime Crime, NARS, Marc Jacobs, MUFE, Carol’s Daughter and more!

I’ve been shopping way more than I should have been so I thought I’d make the best of it and film my first haul video.

It’s quite a long one so grab yourself a cuppa and enjoy!

Made any sneaky buys lately? Let me know in the comments below.

Nana Adomah

Dress Your Face: Anastasia Tamanna Palette Review

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Products used listed at end of post

Anastasia Beverly Hills Tamanna palette

I went back and forth about whether or not to get this palette as I need another palette like a hole in the head. Of course it quickly sold out in store and I was hit with an acute case of FOMO (fear of missing out). Like the sheep I am, I snatched it up without a second thought when I saw it back in stock online.

Don’t be fooled by the blue. The Anastasia Beverly Hills Tamanna Dress Your Face palette is essentially a neutral palette. This is the 3rd palette released this year in collaboration with Instagram/ YouTube personalities and this is by far my favourite. This collaboration with Tamanna Roashan (a.k.a “Dress Your Face”) is perfect in that it will look good on almost anybody and a lot of thought has clearly gone into the colour selection.

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IMG_1380There are mattes, shimmers, semi-mattes, a gold, a brown, a black- basically everything you need for a successful palette.

Anastasia Tamanna palette swatch dark skin top row

L-R: fresh, blush, venezia, gilded, custom

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L-R: sangria, bengal, chocolate, china rose, noir

I’m not going to go through all the colours but my favourites are “noir”– a fantastic true black matte eyeshadow that reminds me of Urban Decay’s “blackout”, “gilded”– a beautiful dark gold shimmer, “china rose”– an orangey, pinky, goldish shimmer, and the reason I bought the palette: “sangria”– a cranberry shimmer that looks great on the lid, crease and lower lash line.

Quick note: I found both “chocolate” and “venezia” to be a little dryer than the other shadows.

The Tamanna palette also comes with a serviceable double-ended brush and 5 surprisingly useful “Get The Look” cards.

Products Used:

Eyes:

Brows: Make Up For Ever Aqua Brow #40

Main Lid- “gilded” and “china rose”

Outer V- “chocolate” and “sangria”

Crease- “sangria”, “chocolate” and Make Up For Ever eyeshadow #162

Highlight- “fresh” and NARS “Madrague”

Lower lash line- “sangria”

Eyeliner- NARS “subra” dual intensity eyeshadow

Mascara- Yves Saint Laurent Babydoll

Face:

Foundation- Becca Ultimate Coverage Complexion Creme in “sienna”

Concealer- NARS radiant creamy concealer in “amande”

Contour- Sleek contour palette in “dark”

Blush- Sleek “coral”

Lips:

Sephora ultra shine lip gloss #22 “Shimmery Deep Rose”

The palette is sold out in quite a few places but you can still find it at Macy’s and Nordstrom online for the great price of $29.

Nana Adomah

Adventures In De-potting: Z-Palette Review

 

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Urban Decay loves NY Book of Shadows, NARS Andy Warhol Flowers 2 palette, random Dior shadows

This is yet another review I’ve been meaning to do forever but I’ve gained a whole new appreciation for my Z-palettes lately so I had to get this out stat!

For those of you who don’t know, Z-palettes are empty, magnetic, cardboard and plastic containers that allow you to organise your makeup in a way that works for you. They’re great for compressing your makeup collection and they make items like eyeshadows and blushes far more portable. I bought my first Z-palette (a plain black one) almost 2 years ago and it was very much loved. It’s a bit grimy looking now so no pictures but I will show off these Sephora branded ones I got earlier this year.

Keep reading after the jump!

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Are You A Living Legend?: MAC The Matte Lip Collection Review

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L-R: Living Legend, Fashion Revival

I’ve been super over a lot of MAC’s collections over the past few years and I swore I wouldn’t buy into the hype but here I am, the proud owner of two of the lipsticks in The Matte Lip collection. I ordered Fashion Revival and Living Legend and I couldn’t be more pleased.

There are eight lipsticks in the collection with Heroine being the only one that is part of the permanent collection. I already own Heroine and I have numerous reds so Fashion revival and living legend were the only ones that jumped out at me. I ordered these online but I’ll be sure to pop into the shops on Friday, when they are released in MAC stores, to see what the other colours are like in person.

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L-R: Living Legend, Fashion Revival indoors daytime w/ flash.

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Daytime swatch no flash

Living Legend is a fantastic deep aubergine colour that swatched with full opacity in just one swipe. I’ve been on my dark lipsticks a lot this year so this is a very welcome addition. Fashion Revival is a dark raspberry that’s also right up my street. I was scared it was just a more matte version of Rebel (my all-time favourite MAC lipstick) but happily it wasn’t too similar.

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L-R: Living Legend, Fashion Revival, and Rebel

Rebel is definitely more purple and generally darker overall.

Now be aware of the fact these lipsticks are in MAC’s matte formula and NOT in their retro matte formula like I originally believed. The formula is slightly more matte than their amplified lipsticks but not a true matte matte like Ruby Woo or Flat Out Fabulous.

All in all, this is a nice collection by MAC and I’m sure they’ll sell in their shed loads so be sure to check them out when they hit stores this Friday. Look out for a FOTD featuring these very soon!

The MAC Matte Lip collection can be purchased here or in stores on Friday for $16 (yes we see you constantly increasing your prices MAC smh) and I highly recommend them. There are also six pro longwear lip liners and three blushes that are part of the collection so be sure to give them a gander.

Nana Adomah

FOTD: Truffling

IMG_1141  It’s been a while since I posted a face of the day (FOTD) and there’s no time like the present!

I recently got this Mary Kay mineral eye shadow in “Truffle” and I was determined to use it today. It’s a really nice autumnal/ wintery shade and even though it’s 30C/ 86F in my little corner of Georgia I’m still going to beg like I’m back in England and enjoying a real Autumn. Truffle is shimmery burgundy with micro flecks of gold and it applies really nicely with very little fall-out.

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Daytime swatch with flash

This look was super simple and I literally did it at my desk. I paired the simple burgundy eyes with no top liner and lots and lots of the YSL “Babydoll” mascara. I skipped the liquid foundation and instead used my favourite NARS concealer in “Amande” with my all-time favourite powder (MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural in “Deep”) on the rest of my face.

I’m determined to conquer my fear of nude lipsticks this year so I finished off the look with the Laura Mercier Stickgloss in “Brown Sugar”

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Product Rundown

Brows- Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz “dark brown”

Highlight- Too Faced Chocolate Bar palette “white chocolate”

Crease- Too Faced Chocolate Bar palette “triple fudge”

Lid- Mary Kay mineral eye shadow “truffle”

Transition- Too Faced Chocolate Bar palette “milk chocolate”

Liner (waterline)- Urban Decay All Nighter Eyeliner “perversion”

Mascara- Yves Saint Laurent Babydoll mascara “black”

Concealer (under eyes)- NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer “amande”

Powder- MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural “deep”

Blush- Sleek “sunrise”

Lipstick- Laura Mercier Stickgloss “brown sugar”

Liner- Make Up For Ever Aqua Lip “6C”

Happy Autumn!

Nana Adomah