Monday, January 16, 2017

Anna Sui Lipstick V in 302

Anna Sui is the first highend makeup brand I loved when I was in highschool, as I was deeply attracted to their mysterious, Romantic-Gothic image. I have collected a fair bit of their products and enjoyed their company. Their product can be hit or miss but the design was always easy on the eyes.

Our long-term (4 years was long) relationship ended abruptly in spring 2010, when the brand underwent a revamp, replacing their rosebud lipstick tubes with something that looked like a coffin. Loyalty shouldn't be one-sided, if a once-favorite brand takes a sharp turn and no longers offer the thing I love it for, I see no problem looking elsewhere (Luckily, 2010 was also the year Maybelline and Revlon released a bunch of beautiful shades in wonderful sheer formulas). 

I suppose the coffins (among other things) didn't sell well, Anna Sui Cosmetics has since been through two additional packaging revamps. According to a friend, the brand has also closed quite a few counters in Shanghai, now can be only found in obscure shopping malls. 
Last year(I mean 2015) when I was eyeballs-deep into the Suqqu research. I decided to take a break and get in touch with my old spark. Since I live so closed to Anna Sui's home base, I reckoned I should at least pay a visit to their Soho store (especially I go to Chinatown almost once a week, heh). 

Well, one can't just visit Anna Sui store for the first time and not buy anything. I ended  up with a bunch of toys (their tights, socks and hankies are really well-made), including two lipsticks. 
The newest design is just called Anna Sui lipstick, the range is still categorized by letter (V for Velvet, M for Marble, C for cream and G for Gloss) and a numerics arranged in the same old way. Shades in 200s would be shades of purple, 300s for pinks, 400s for red, 600s for orange etc. 

The box uses the same design as the wall paper of their new store location opened 2015 (which by the way is smaller and further south, just a block from Canal Street). I think it was in the changing room? 
The new (this is 5th generation) Anna Sui lipstick has lots of things going on: Clear geometric cuts that makes it look like ice sculpture, a snowflake top and even the black base has starry relieves. 
The cap is made of high quality plastic that is seamless, giving a crisp and secure clip. The whole thing is quite chubby for a lipstick so it doesn't fit in most lipstick holders. I wasn't sure how I feel about the lipstick (the fact that I didn't want to touch it since last winter should indicate something), full of design elements or fugly?

I think it's a little fugly. 
Well, look at the cool star shaped lipstick! It doesn't go away after one swipe like all other gimmicky brands. Instead, it will stay this way (being a pain in the rear to apply) for many uses to come!
Anna Sui Lipstick V in 302 is a creamy blue pink. The formula has good level of pigments that applies in to an even and thin layers and it features the same rose scent. Nothing has changed when it comes to the formula. Could it be their product development actually knows the rule of "Don't fix it if it's not broken"? Shocking. 
I like the lipstick formula but isn't a fan of the finish. It's indeed smooth but the inclusion of the silver shimmer now gives the color a milky appearance...Urgh, I don't like milky pink (and somehow I have three of them). 

Even though I am not feeling Anna Sui's new packaging, I do like the texture of their lipstick that I am probably more likely to get another Anna Sui (instead of repurchase Bobbi Brown or YSL). The sheer red I wanted was sold out, I should hunt it down when I get the chance. 

Looking at the whole line up and new releases, the brand seems like it's losing its direction and kept on changing in hope that something would work (instead they ended up with another design that's out of whack). I hope something is done so the brand doesn't go down under.

P.S. (When it comes to fashion) I thought Orla Kiely is becoming the new Anna Sui (for retro vibe, geometric pattern with a distinct style), I need to visit their store one day!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Innisfree Cream Mellow Lipstick in 04

I was just talking about price-gouging yesterday and now I am reviewing a drugstore lipstick that I paid double-the- market-price for. As a veteran couponing master, I am still deeply ashamed as I rarely shelled out more than five bucks for my drugstore goodies. 

Life snows on. You gotta take the glamour shot and complain about the said lipstick on your blog (then buy more lipsticks, yup yup). Actually, beside the jacked up price, there isn't much to complain about.
It all started with the /r/Asianbeauty. Around sometime last fall, there were numerous PSA (but I think it was a shill) sort of posts about a new store opening near Koreatown Midtown Manhattan. The store is mostly about sheetmasks so I didn't really give it much thoughts. When I heard that they had a Thanksgiving weekend sale going on, I decide to stop by and pay a visit. Who doesn't like some cute K-skincare items with potential discount?

As soon as I got it, I found out that it's just like any other K-town beauty store: Cute, small and come with exorbitant markup. For many bottled skincare, their sale prices were easily over 40% higher than Amazon while regular price are double the Amazon price.

Luckily when it comes to smaller makeup items, the prices were much more reasonable: Etude House and Innisfree (they literally have three types of single eyeshadow?) are on the same level as ebay so that's where the ball (my wallet) dropped. 
As I picked up some of the eye candies. I also went ahead and grabbed an Innisfree Creammellow Lipstick. 04 (it has a shade name but me and the Korean language are not friends) was the shade that stood out so I added it to my little basket. When I stepped out of the store and looked down at the receipt...

"The heck the lipstick was 18 bucks?" 

And this is how the hero has fallen.

Innisfree Creammellow Lipstick has a relatively simple and minimalist packaging: White textured plastic (hence gummy) with a base indicating the shade.

While it might look a bit unessisarily long when uncapped, I found that the tube has a good ergonomics: The lenth and thickness of the base, combined with the hard lipstick formula, is notably comfortable and convenient to hold and swipe on. 
It's slim and easy to carry (not sure how long does it take to turn gray once goes into my blackhole of a bag) without going to full blown k-beauty kute route. I have tried a lot (really) of lipstick so it wasn't particularly impressive.
Innisfree Creammellow 04 is a reddish orange coral in a semi-sheer cream formula that's balmy, a bit glossy and light weight on the lips. In my lippie repertoire, it's most similar to Kiko Glossy Lip Stylo. This color looks shimmer-free on the lips and in the swatch but there are some miniscule glimmering particle if you stare at the lipstick itself. 

Again if you sniff closely or duckface a lot, there is a light floral candy scent (Kasugai Flower Kiss anybody?) 
I like all things coral so I enjoy wearing this shade. It's nothing unique or special and the color leans more toward garish-bright than it is lit-the-face bright. While the formula isn't actively quenching, it locks in moisture and keeps lips soft when it's not parched up.

Overall. It's a pretty good formula (same quality as Revlon lip butter and Canmake) to play with for a single-digit price. There is no way that I would pay 18 dollars for something like this again and I doubt I would shell out the 9-dollar ebay price and wait weeks for it (airmail from Korea takes a long time to get to me)...

I am going back to Canmake!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Tarte Maracuja Oil

(I had to Google for it) Maracuja is another name of passionfruit, apparently their seeds can be extracted for oil and Tarte is the one mainstream brand (that I know of) that sell them in US. I got a deluxe mini from a Sephora set and 15ml was more than enough to test it out. 
The oil has a light golden color and a fresh nutty smell. It's not particularly sticky but the light weight formula feels just a little more cream like (blendable and softening) compared to argan oil. It's a basic moisturizer when I am doing a minimal routine. A few drops seals
 in moisture (after shower or sheet mask)without getting absorbed right away or getting sticky. It's good but nothing special to me. 

Here is the Skincare Wonderland set it came from. I have tried a few and they are great testers (that effectively eliminate my desire to purchase any full sized item). 
Sephora Times Square price gouging (tourists)- Look at the two different prices. This is not the first time I see this kind of practice, even Muji does it with some items. I remember at Sephora Madison Ave the Dior Fluidstick was over forty bucks at some point. 
Bonus picture of Muji (Times Square) doing the same thing. Note that the Japanese price for the two are both 1000 yen. 

Monday, January 09, 2017

Shiseido Full Lash Serum

Lash Serum is something that I always have one in rotation. I notice some effects (nothing dramatic like people get with those prescription drugs) with almost of the one I have tried but only repurchased L'Oreal (because it wasn't too pricy, didn't sting or look like booger once dried). The newest one under my belt is the Shiseido Full Lash Serum. It's funny that on their website they call it Lash and Brow Serum, because that's what I tend to use if for.

The Shiseido serum has a semi-opaque gel texture (very much like the discontinued L'Oreal) that's easily dispensed with the doe-foot applicator. It's light weight, gentle and doesn't cause any discomfort when applied closed to lash line. I have been using it right after cleansing/toner and before everything else, on my brows as there is a bald patch from stress pulling. After two months of almost daily uses, the area now looks well-conditioned and the bald patch also grew back. I didn't end up with a new lush pair of caterpillars but I am all good. 
 Let's look at the very short ingredients (with break down in the parentheses)

Ingredients: Water, Dipropylene Glycol(humectant/solvent), Butylene Glycol (humectant/solvent), Sorbitol (humectant/thickener), Alcohol(solvent/giving lightweight texture), Polyvinyl Acetate (glue? thickener), Glycerin (humectant), Carbomer (gel that suspend other ingredients), Phenoxyethanol (preservative), Ethylhexylglycerin (conditioning), Methylparaben (preservative), Polyvinyl Alcohol (eye lubricant), Potassium Hydroxide (a base for pH adjustment), Arginine (some amino acid), Xanthan Gum (thickening agent), Zizyphus Jujuba Fruit Extract (red date), Simethicone (anti-foaming agent), Trisodium EDTA(preservative), Tocopherol (Vitamin E).

So beside the three ingredients in bold (which are all kind of far down the ingredient list, after fillers and even preservative) which might stimulate hair growth and condition the lashes/brow hair. This serum is consist of mostly humectant and other ingredients that form the pleasant, light weight texture. I find it interesting they didn't include the no-brainer panthenol in the mix but maybe the red date and arginine are potent enough?

My experience with the serum feels nice on the brow is mostly because, I don't put anything skincare product on my brow otherwise. As for the bald patch recovery, it would have grown back even I didn't use anything. I have read that their cosmetic scientist said the combo works but it takes at least three months. It takes me much shorter time to grow a unibrow, and all you need to do is hide my tweezers.

Anyway, the whole step feels like a nice little treat and pampering step of skincare. I don't find Shiseido Full Lash Serum to be any better than the drugstore ones (I got two, one with Hello Kitty another with Tweety packaging) so I won't repurchase.
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