Monday, October 29, 2007

Canmake Cheek Gradation

My first item from Canmake Tokyo! Cheek Gradation is in a clean and clear compact with a small brush and no mirrors. It is available in 4 shades:
- 01 Pink Stripes
- 02 Orange Stripes
- 03 Brown Stripes
- 04 Chocolate Stripes


Maquillage Shiny Design Powder

The Maquillage Shiny Design Powder is a summer 2007 limited edition bronzer. I honestly couldn't help but giggle when I first heard its name :D Maquillage has a way with names, I tell you.



Saturday, October 27, 2007

T'estimo Gradually Eyes Part II

The second Gradually Eyes palette I got is #03 - Cool Beige:
- White highlighter: metallic, low intensity, goes on with a translucent but metallic sheen
- Ivory base: metallic, very sheer
- Champaign beige crease: metallic, low intensity, goes on champaign with a translucent but metallic sheen
- Chocolate brown liner: shimmer, medium intensity



Friday, October 26, 2007

Maquillage Precious Design Powder

This is Maquillage's updated version of the Design Face Color, the "Precious" Design Powder, obviously because in addition to it being a "design" powder, it is also very precious :D It is available in 2 shades:
- 10 Lucent White (Cool)
- 20 Natural Beige (Warm)

I have shade 20 - Natural Beige. The pan is hexagonal in shape, and the powder is divided into 4 triangles, well, kind of triangles...
- Yellow gold, shimmer
- Sandy beige, shimmer
- Peachy pink, matte
- Off-white, matte



Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Maquillage Design Face Color

Maquillage Design Face Color is a collection of blushes, highlighters, and contouring powders available in 6 shades with the first 4 being blushes and later 2 being highlighters:
- 10-OR
- 20-RD
- 30-PK
- 40-RS
- 50 Warm
- 60 Cool


T'estimo Mix Change Powder

T'estimo Mix Change Powder is a highlighter available in 2 shades:
- EX-01 Cool
- EX-02 Warm



Saturday, October 20, 2007

Maquillage Lip Essence

Lip Essence is a lipstick base with SPF 11 released with the Maquillage Spring 2006 collection. Very lightly fragranced, it is a bright but translucent pearly pink liquid with hints of lilac iridescent that enhances your natural lip color. It is thin and light, goes on glossy yet not sticky, only it doesn't last as long as it should, being a lipstick base. That, or I just talk too much and nothing lasts on my lips :P

Maquillage Luminoustic(?) Rouge

Luminoustic(?) Rouge and Superior Rouge are two of Maquillage's lines of lipsticks, with Luminoustic(?) having shimmering/pearly finish and Superior satin. Before going home, I got Luminoustic(?) Rouge in OR257.

OR257 is a beautiful golden orange with hints of coral and intense gold shimmers. And unlike how it looks, it is actually very sheer and goes on a soft pearly veil of golden peach. Beautiful! Unfortunately, unlike other fans of the Maquillage Luminoustic(?) Rouge, I find its formula rather dry and waxy, not moisturizing at all! I wish it was a better lipstick and not the candle wax-stick it is because I absolutely adore the color. May be I will try a different color and see if it still feels the same? Hmph!

Friday, October 19, 2007

T'estimo Color Cheek

T'estimo Color Cheek, yep, another awkward sounding name. That's just the tip of the iceberg. It gets worse, I promise :) I got these in BE-14 and PK-19. It's hard to tell from the picture, but one is much lighter than the other.

BE-14, is, well, nothing close to beige. It is actually bronzy peach with gold shimmers, medium intensity (at least on my skin). It goes on more gold than peach and keeps its hint of bronze. A very summery blush - it could look a bit out of place in the winter.



T'estimo Artist Shade

T'estimo Artist Shade in BE-04 is a contouring powder also released in the Spring 2006 Collection. Similar to the Color Lighting, it has 4 shades of earthy bronze and is a mix of warm and cool undertones. The left 3 columns have some shimmer, but only a minimal amount of them.



How to Use (according to T'estimo's video tutorial)
Use a flat and angled blush brush:
- Swirl over all 4 colors a couple of times
- Sweep lightly in the hollows of the cheeks a couple times (to bring out the apples of the cheeks)
- Sweep lightly in the temples (to bring out the cheekbones)
- Sweep lightly on the 2 sides of the nose (to bring out the nose)
- Blend to soften!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

T'estimo Color Lighting

T'estimo Color Lighting is a series of highlighters that consists of shades EX-07, EX-08, EX-09, EX-10, EX-11, and EX-12. T'estimo cheek colors are also in individual clear cases and are just twice the size of the eye shadow refills (1x2").

EX-12 was the newest shade, released in the Spring 2006 collection. After watching a tutorial video on T'estimo's website, I bought this one before I left Japan. It consists of 8 square blocks in 4 columns of colors. And although it looks matte in the picture, 3 out of the 4 columns are shimmery.



From left to right: all warm shades
- Pale canary yellow, high shimmers
- Pale feathery pink, some shimmers
- Cherub pink, very few shimmers
- Pale salmony pink, matte

How to Use (according to T'estimo's video tutorial)
Use a face brush:
- Swirl over all 4 colors a couple of times
- Sweep across forehead, closer to the brows than hairline
- Sweep down the nose ridge
- Sweep across the chin
- Swirl the brush over the powder a couple more times
- Sweep over the area underneath the eyes, above the cheek bones
- Blend to soften!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

T'estimo Gradually Eyes

Part of the Spring 2006 collection, the Gradually Eyes palette comes in 5 color combinations:
01 - Peach Brown

02 - Mint Green
03 - Cool Beige
04 - Purple
05 - Gray

All come in sleek pearly pink compacts with iridescent green sheen, a mirror, and 2 dual-ended sponge/brush applicators. Each color combination has a highlighter, a base color, a crease color, and a liner color. All combinations consist of light pastels and are very shimmery, going for that sparkling spring look.


Saturday, October 13, 2007

T'estimo Color Eyes

No, I didn't write them backwards, they are really named "Color Eyes." These eye shadow refills come in individual clear cases with a tiny hole in the back for the pan to be removed. Each shadow, including case, measures about 1 inch square and about 1/3 inch thick. So freakin' adorable and super easy to mix and match!

What's more unique is they have patterns that change every other season or so. And although they all look glittery, they actually have different finishes. Just that some Japanese brands have this odd habit of spraying on a layer of sparkles to enhance the product's look in its original packagings, that's all! As soon as it's used, the surface glitters go away. In fact, this is precisely the reason some of my medium/darker colors seem to have a "black hole" in the middle of the pan - me using a small spot reveals its true shade!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Other Japanese Brands

Below are other Japanese brands I've ventured into beyond the safety of Shiseido and Kanebo. Of course, the brands below aren't necesarily obscure, but hey, I start sloooow...

CURRENTLY USING (in conjunction with others)

DHC
Known for its olive oil-based skincare and makeup. Putting olive-oil on your face may sound strange, I know, but it actually works! Its core product is the Deep Cleansing Oil, which people swear by. DHC has a US branch as well if you are curious and would like to try. Just call for the free monthly catalogue, which goes out with 4 samples of the month's spotlight items.

Deep Cleansing Oil
Yep, an olive oil-based cleanser, believe it or not. With that said though, it takes everything off, makeup, very water resistant sunscreen, you name it!
Pros: cleanse thoroughly, rinse well, the texture is thick and therefore needs to be massaged in, resulting in a pleasant facial massage session every time, 1 bottle has lasted me 6 months and still going.
Cons: cleanse my dry skin a bit too well, even more drying than Shiseido SunCare Ultimate Cleansing Oil! Sigh... Also, apparently it's a bitch to travel with because the oil would leak from the pump bottle and creates a nasty mess. Oh well, will keep trying.


Washing Powder
A different concept of a facial cleanser - a white powder that foams up with added water!
Pros: cleanse well, rinse well, not soapy, affordable ($8.50) for the amount you get, not to mention a little goes a long way, very convenient to travel with.
Cons: but being a powder also makes it easy to breathe in. Yikes! And although it is supposed to be used as a second step to the Deep Cleansing Oil, I find it way too drying this way, so I only use it in the morning. Final verdict - a neat concept, but an average cleanser.

***Pictures from DHC USA.

FANCL
Famous for its preservative-free, fragrance-free, and mineral oil-free skincare and cosmetic products. I like their blushes. Will post reviews later. I think I will try the Mild Cleansing Oil as well since the DHC Deep Cleansing Oil is too drying for me. Very much looking forward to it, in fact! The reviews I've read said FANCL's version is much milder. Hooray!

Canmake Tokyo
By IDA Laboratories. Another drug store brand with awesome quality. It's not as good as Kate or Majolica Majorca, but it's not that far behind. And for the price ($3-5), I'm not complaining. I like its highlighters, blushes, and eye shadows. Will post reviews later.

Kanebo Brands

Some well known Kanebo brands are: T'estimo, Kate, Revue, Lavshuca, and Lunasol. There are many others, of course, but I haven't tried them so I will not list.

See a complete listing of all Kanebo brands (in Japanese).

CURRENTLY USING (in conjunction with others)

T'estimo
The beginning of it all for me! I was browsing through the cosmetic store at a local mall when the individual eye shadow refills caught my eyes. They are just so darn cute in clear square cases, and they come in the most adorable colors ever! The relentless TV commercials don't help either. After seeing them for a gazillion times I was brainwashed and, well, the rest is history.

Blushes and eye shadows from this mid-end brand are absolutely marvelous! Many people like its lip products as well. I heard it had a rough start, but it definitely has gotten better with time. Now its most popular items are the eye palettes and the unveiling of each seasonal collection would generate much enthusiasm (mine, at least)! Will post individual reviews later.

Unfortunately, however, the brand is also being discontinued. Much like PN, it is slowly being phased out to be replaced by a new brand called Coffret D'Or, which, in my opinion, is a HUGE disappointment. Urgh. I can't believe they're going to do away with my beloved T'estimo for that crap. What the hell are they thinking? Grr...

A glimpse of the soon-to-be-launched Coffret D'Or. *Yawn* Wake me up when they get their shits together...



***Pictures from this Taiwanese blog.

Kate
The trump factor to Majolica Majorca and the most popular drug store brand in Japan, hands down. Liquid foundations from this brand is amazing, the best I've ever come across! And I don't even like foundations! Will post review later. Its eye shadows and eye palettes are extremely popular as well. I haven't tried any, though, as their color families haven't really captured my interest.

WILL TRY SOON

Revue
A mid-end brand featuring only base color products as Kanebo is famous for its superior foundations. A recent Revue release, the Essence in Moisture Liquid Foundation, has gathered some stellar reviews. See Rouge Deluxe's article on Voce A/W Liquid & Cream Foundations Survey. Will post review after a good trial.

Lavshuca
Another mid-end brand with uniquely feminine packaging and excellent quality. That very aspect, however, puts me off, as it comes across a little too princess-y. Think toy-make up for Disney fantasy devotees. No thanks. I would like to get my hands on one of their discontinued blushes, however. That is, if I could. We'll see about that.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Shiseido Brands

Some well known Shiseido brands are: The Makeup, The Skincare, SunCare, Benefiance, Pureness, Maquillage, Majolica Majorca, PN, Cle de Peau, Integrate, Tsubaki, and Super Mild. There are a bunch of others too I did not list, solely because I either haven't heard of them, know nothing of them, or just not interested :)

See a complete listing of all Shiseido brands (in Japanese).

CURRENTLY USING (in conjunction with others)
Maquillage
Highlighters, blushes, and eye shadows from this mid-end brand have unbelievably fine and silky texture. Many people like its lip products as well. The packaging is totally out of wack though. After T'estimo, this is the second brand I got into. Will post individual reviews later.

PN (Pied Nus)
Highlighters and blushes from this mid-end brand are excellent. Sadly, it has been discontinued in 2005, phased out slowly to be completely replaced by Maquillage above. Will post reviews later.

Majolica Majorca
Blushes and eye shadows from this brand are super affordable ($4-6) and the quality is absolutely amazing! If you want a good introduction to Japanese makeup without breaking your piggie bank, this is the brand to try. Will post reviews later.

Super Mild Hair Products
The first time I used Super Mild shampoo, I hated its Floral scent (the white/pink bottles). Still, after just one use I was convinced enough to venture out to the drugstore to find its Fruit scent (the white/green bottles)! Both hubby and I are devoted followers now, and we panic every time our bottle runs low. It lathers well, and keeps both our hair smooth, soft, and best of all, weightless! I have super straight hair that used to be a complete greasy mess the next day, but not with Super Mild! And I love that Fruit scent, it's so subtle and yet lingering, not perfumy at all!

***Picture from Evecare.

SunCare
Both the Ultimate Sun Protection Lotion and the Cream version, SPF 55 PA+++. I have combination-dry skin, so I use the lotion on my forehead and nose, where it tends to get a little oily, and the cream on the rest of my face, where it tends to be super dry. Used the Ultimate Cleansing Oil to take the sunscreen off. A pain, but that works for now. I am moving into European sunscreen, however, as I learned all the US ones aren't very effective at all. Will devote an entire post on sunscreens soon.

Ultimate Sun Protection Cream SPF 55 PA+++
Pros: Thick, creamier and more suitable for my dry face, very water resistant, doesn't clog pores or irritate even though heavily fragranced, doesn't run into and consequently burns the eyes, blends well, absorbs quickly, dries to a dewy matte with no white cast.
Cons: Heavily fragranced, needs a separate oil cleanser, tends to crease my eye shadows a little.


HAVE USED IN THE PAST (in conjunction with others)

Pureness
Used Deep Cleansing Foam, Matifying Moisturizer Oil-free, Pore Purifying Warming Scrub during my college days, when my skin was still its oily former self. Used the Foaming Cleansing Fluid throughout my time in Japan, and then I came home and -poof- my skin decided it would now be combination-dry. Psycho. Since I don't use these anymore, I won't include reviews for them.


The Skincare
Had a brief stint with this line while I was in Japan and looking to try something new. I heard it was supposed to be more gentle towards the normal/oily skin, so I tried the Purifying Cleansing Foam. Big mistake. It deep fried my oily skin and broke me out horribly. Never again. I hated the thick floral scent too. Urgh.


Benefiance
Jumped to this line after my skin made its bizarre switcheroo, egged on by a good friend who raved about its cleanser too, of course. Most people either love or hate the feminine powdery scent. I loved it, as did my friend. It comes off strong at first, but it seriously grows on you. No reviews though, sorry.

Went for the Creamy Cleansing Foam, Revitalizing Emulsion, and Concentrated Anti-Wrinkle Eye Cream. The Shiseido lady asked me what I used before, when I told her it was Pureness, she gave me this look like I was bananas. Whatever.


SunCare
Ultimate Sun Protection Lotion SPF 55 PA+++
Pros: Light and runny texture, very water resistant, doesn't clog pores or irritate even though heavily fragranced, doesn't run into and consequently burns the eyes, blends well, absorbs quickly, dries to a complete matte with no white cast, make a beautiful base for makeup, be it foundation or powder.
Cons: Heavily fragranced, needs a separate oil cleanser, can be drying as hell. I stopped using it on my face because it turned my cheeks parchy after several months!


Ultimate Cleansing Oil

Pros: Rinse clean, lighter in texture and slightly less drying than DHC Deep Cleansing Oil, 1 bottle lasted me 6+ months (I only use 1 pump per wash), reasonably priced ($22?)
Cons: Nothing special, just an average oil cleanser. Onward!

***Pictures from Shiseido USA.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Where to Buy?

If I were to be in Japan still, I'd be in makeup heaven (except for when the bills come). Now that I'm back home in the states, I'm on an endless search for sources that will supply my new found hobby. Below are a few online merchants (either found or learned from fellow Japanese makeup fans) who carry several popular Japanese brands and do ship internationally. Some are in Hong Kong, some are in Japan or North America.

Adam Beauty, Hong Kong based
Pros:
+ Offers a decent variety of Japanese brands
+ Most reasonable pricing, comparable to the Japanese retail price of the product, only with international shipping already included in the price
+ Ship registered mail for only $2 extra!
+ Fast shipping, 3-5 days, items are very well packed and will arrive safely at your door
+ Occasionally, Adam (the seller) will include some freebies with your order, especially if the order is large
Cons:
- Limited stock, only stock several items under each brand
- Color selections are also somewhat limited
- Items are never on sale (perhaps because they're so discounted already?)

Gooddealer.com, Hong Kong based
Pros:
+ Offers a wide variety of Japanese brands with much better stock and wider color selections
+ Somewhat decent prices, but more expensive than Adam Beauty
+ Occasionally, certain discontinued items will go on sale with a "special price!" notation next to its name
+ Fast shipping, 3-5 days, items are very well packed and will arrive safely at your door
+ Occasionally, Kevin (the seller) will also include freebies with larger orders
Cons:
- International shipping is charged by the grams + $2 registered mail + a separate handling fee. Generally, a $150 order will incur at least $15 shipping and handling.
- Some items have huge markups!

Sasa.com, Hong Kong based, think Sephora and then some!
Pros:
+ Fast shipping, 3-5 days
+ $6 Flat fee international shipping for registered mail, free shipping for orders $75+
+ Each order will earn points, and the points can be traded for freebies!
+ A lot of the time, the items ordered also come with promotional freebies or there will be promotional freebies included with each order!
+ Frequent sales and promotional discounts (More often than not I would only pay about half the Japanese retail prices for my makeup!)
+ Vast number of Western, Chinese, Japanese, and some larger Korean brands and products including makeup, skincare, fragrance, personal care, accessories, books!
Cons:
- Usually, prices are much higher, some of the items have gigantic markups!

Bobodave.com, Taiwan-based
- I haven't bought from this vendor, so I can't comment just yet. They seem to carry a good variety of Japanese brands, although with a small selection of products and colors from each brand. Their prices look a bit expensive also, and I don't know about the shipping at all!

Ebay, various Japan and Hong Kong based sellers
Pros:
+ Accessible to anything available within Japan, especially good when you want to get your hands on those pesky limited edition items!
+ Guaranteed authentic products
+ Fast shipping, 3-5 days even for regular, non-registered air mail
Cons:
- Inconsistent pricing, some will give you a good price, some will not
- Expensive shipping, similar to Gooddealer. If you make a big purchase, they might give a shipping discount.

FANCL, North American branch
Pros:
+ Orders $35+ ship free within the US, items well packaged and will arrive safely at your door
+ Freebies are included with every order
+ Occasional sales and promotions
Cons:
- Have a rather complicated and user-unfriendly points reward system. In fact, it was so complicated I didn't even bother to read all the instructions on how to redeem.
- Don't offer the seasonal collections and limited edition makeup items available in Japan. I wouldn't have a problem if these collections aren't so pretty! Grr...I don't get it, why not offer them here too? I'd buy them! So would a bunch of other people! Very disgruntled.

DHC, North American branch
Pros:
+ Carry most skincare and makeup items available to the Japanese market, that is, except for the seasonal makeup collections (see the Cons)
+ Prompt shipping with flat fees, will ship free with orders $75+. Personally, I find FANCL's shipping policy a lot more agreeable, especially when I never spend more than $20 at DHC.
Cons:
- Same with FANCL, don't offer the seasonal collections and limited edition makeup items available in Japan.

Dabbing into Makeup

I was never into makeup, that is, until I came to Japan. I'm totally a novice at this makeup thing, but below are a few reasons that got me into Japanese brands. Just my own opinion based on experience. Also, since I'm still new at this, I haven't tapped into the higher end Japanese brands just yet. Still exploring the field with low to mid-end brands right now.

- Quality
I find US/European brands make better lip products such as lipsticks and glosses, but I prefer Japanese brands when it comes to base makeup (like foundation, powder, blushes, highlighters, bronzers, etc.) and eye shadows. As far as I've seen, some low-end drug store Japanese brands make better blushes and eye shadows than some high-end department store US/European brands. Hard to believe, I know. I wasn't convinced either until I tried them myself!

- Color RangeYes, I like makeup, but again I haven't gotten to the point of being expressive or adventurous. Yet while I tend to stick to the more basic colors (yes, boring), I find US/European brands make colors and combinations that don't quite work with my skin tone. When they do offer the colors I like, these collections are only available within Japan. Hmph!

On the other hand, most Japanese brands can be obtained overseas (for a price, of course). Best of all, I can wear the color combinations they offer! You should give Japanese makeup a try too. Who knows, you might just fall in love with all the pretty colors like me!

- Textures/Finishes
Another feature unique to Japanese brand makeup is that they tend to be very sheer, shimmery and metallic. And while one look at all the pretty sparkles would make the average US consumer's stomach churn, I actually prefer my makeup that way. I absolutely hate matte shadows. I can't think of a faster way to make my eyes look muddy and bruised. Ick. Of course, if I am not careful, I will risk looking like a tween with all the sparkles. But if I use them correctly, all the shimmers actually accentuate my features. The more pigmented shades I use as eye-liners instead of shadows anyway.

- Packaging
Let's just say I wouldn't want to open my makeup bag to find a nasty, bulky, and plastic-y black compact that's ever-so-present with most US/European brands (think MAC, no offense). I know the brand wants to achieve that professional makeup artist feel to their products, but I'm not a makeup artist, and neither are most people. I'm just an average consumer who gets suckered (or would like to be) into all the sleek and feminine packagings that are pleasing to the eyes and are clean-looking. What does clean have anything to do with it? Well, I put that stuff on my face, my eyes, and my lips, after all!

Mean while, I find most Japanese brands (even the cheapo drug store brands) have more attractive packagings, if not a little too girlie at times. What I like the most, however, is that many sell cases and refills separately. So efficient! Yes, I pay a little more for the case and refills, but it's better than throwing away the perfectly fine case every time I run out. Also, the refills almost always come in a clear plastic case so I could just carry them individually if I want. In fact, I often find myself skipping the case altogether because I am a mix and match person and I change my mind rather often, so I always end up carrying whatever color/s I feel like that day. I like all things mini anyway, like the ubiquitous gift-with-purchase sample items I get with US/European skin care products.

That's it. Not too hard to understand, right?

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