Thursday, March 29, 2012

Review: Real Techniques Brushes by Samantha Chapman

I've always been very curious with these brushes ever since Sam from one of my favorite makeup channels in YouTube, Pixiwoo, released them. I've read great reviews about the products, so I knew I have to have them. Actually, I've become skeptical with reviews before because I've had the worst experience with one popular brand of brushes (which I might write a review on later) that didn't work well despite the hype. Thankfully, these Real Techniques brushes lived up to my expectations.

I purchased two kits - the Travel Essentials and Core Collection - as well as five of the individual brushes they have - stippling brush, foundation brush, blush brush, powder brush, and kabuki brush. I checked Ulta again this morning and realized that they still have three individual brushes I've not seen before - setting brush, fine liner brush, and expert face brush. I might have to give them a try soon.
Real Techniques Travel Essentials and Real Techniques Core Collection

The first thing that really caught my eyes when I saw the photos of the brushes was the unique design. They didn't look like ripped-off designs from some other more popular brushes. At first, I actually thought they would be heavy, but they aren't. The aluminum handle is light and not as thick as it may seem. I like the choice of colors for the brushes, too. They are in pink, purple, or gold (and black for the kabuki brush). I just wished the panoramic brush case had a better design and color and not just like the standard black brush roll.
 Panoramic Brush Case
Travel Essentials Kit
Includes 3 full-size brushes + case:

Essential foundation brush: Build flawless custom coverage with liquid foundation or concealer
Multi-task brush: for effortless application of powder, blush, and bronzer
Domed shadow brush: tapered design smoothly shades and defines eyes
Panoramic brush case is a 2-in-1 case + stand
Core Collection Kit
Includes 4 full-size brushes + case:

Detailer brush: precision cut to effortlessly conceal problem areas; or, use with lipstick for long-lasting shape and definition
Pointed foundation brush: use with liquid foundation to build custom coverage
Buffing brush: ideal for full coverage application of powder and mineral foundation
Contour brush: delicately applies highlighter to contour or create sheer, soft-focus finish
Panoramic brush case is a 2-in-1 case + stand

Stippling Brush, Powder Blush, Foundation Brush, and Blush Brush
From L-R: Kabuki Brush (still inside the box), Blush Brush, Stippling Brush, 
Foundation Brush, and Powder Blush
Just like what Sam and Nic often say in their video tutorials, many of these brushes are actually multipurpose. The Multi-task Brush and the Buffing Brush are almost the same. Also, there are three different foundation brushes available. I prefer the Foundation Brush (sold separately) over the Pointed Foundation Brush (from Core Collection) since it's angled and wide enough. The latter is just too small for an entire face product application, so I'd rather use it for concealers.

All of the brushes have synthetic taklon bristles and are really soft and gentle on the face. The Stippling Brush is not as stiff as the other brushes I've tried (For example, the Coastal Scents one), so it worked well for me.

As for whether the hairs shed or not, out of all the brushes I purchased, the only one that shed a little bit was the Buffing Brush. The rest are still in perfect shape.

These brushes are a bit difficult to clean because the makeup products tend to stain the hairs. MAC brushes are definitely a lot easier to clean.

Kabuki Brush
 Real Techniques Kabuki Brush (unfolded)


This is a 2-in-1 brush which can be used closed for powder and unfolded for sweeping on blush color or highlighting powder.  I've actually first seen this type of design from the former Michelle Phan-owned IQQU brushes, specifically the mini red kabuki from IQQU's essential travel set. Now, I don't exactly know which one came out first, so I can't really tell if there is "anything else" behind it or not. Hehe. I actually prefer to use this brush opened instead of unfolded because I'm afraid I might break it from too much use. I also expected it to be quite big since it's supposed to be a full-sized brush, but it's teeny-weeny. While the bristles are soft just like the other brushes, the size was kind of a letdown. For that, this is probably my least favorite among all the Real Techniques brushes I have.
For size comparison
Sigma Kabuki Brush and Real Techniques Kabuki Brush

The one thing that may be a disadvantage to some is that the brushes from the kits are not sold individually, and the individual brushes they have are not included in any of the kits. Therefore, even if you only want to purchase, let's say, the Detailer Brush from the Core Collection, you have to buy the entire kit. However, I think it's more economical since one kit only costs $17.99 and you'll get 3-5 brushes (so at the least, one brush may cost $3.60), whereas an individual brush already ranges from $5.99-$9.99. Just be careful when choosing which ones you really need the most... or you can just get them all. Haha.

Also, the brushes are rather small for being full-sized ones. Before I purchased the products, I was surprised when I read that the Travel Essentials kit actually has 3 full-sized brushes. But when I finally saw the brushes, I realized that all of them have either short or middle handles. They're good for traveling as they fit nicely inside the purse, but I just think they're not that big to be called full-sized. 
For size comparison
From L-R: MAC 239, Real Techniques Buffing Brush, Sigma Powder Brush, Stila no. 24
I customized my own kit. Haha. I bring this around with me every day.
From L-R: Real Techniques Blush Brush, Powder Brush, Foundation Brush, 
Eyeshadow Brush, Detailer Brush, and Stippling Brush

Overall, I think these brushes are great for the price. I really like the cute design. I highly recommend these to those who are on a budget but still would not want to compromise the quality.

Non-Sponsored Post.
(c) All images belong to Ayra Blogs About Things

Monday, March 26, 2012

Fresh Release: MAC Reel Sexy Collection and MAC Tres Cheek Collection

So MAC has just announced its latest collections. Looks like my wallet's going to be busy again.


MAC Reel Sexy Collection
Limited Edition lipsticks from MAC Reel Sexy Collection
Whenever new collections from MAC come out, I usually order just the lipsticks. I failed to snag Watch me Simmer from the last collection (even though I placed my orders really early. Oh well.), so I was super happy when I read that it's being repromoted. Yey! 


I'm probably getting the Reel Sexy one, too, since I love coral lipsticks. My face isn't exactly for bold shades of makeup, so I always stick with the neutrals and light tones. I'm actually very interested with the Heroine one, but I still have to give it a second thought. I wouldn't want it to just end up sitting on my vanity desk. I'd also feel bad for the other girls who might have wanted one for themselves.


This collection will be available internationally in May 2012.

Lipstick

Pink Popcorn Lavender (Lustre)
Reel Sexy Light bright coral (Amplified)
Watch Me Simmer Bright pink-orange (Amplified) (Repromote)
Heroine Bright violet plum (Matte)

Cremesheen Glass 

Private Screening Mid-tone peach
Cinestyle Mid-tone blue grey violet
Color Saturation Dark cool wine
Star Quality Bright orange coralEyeshadow Duo 

Dynamic Duo 1 Coral with yellow pearlized pigments (Veluxe Pearl) / Purple (Matte)
Dynamic Duo 2 Violet duochrome with pearlized pigments (Frost) / Violet (Matte)
Dynamic Duo 3 Mid-tone purple (Veluxe Pearl) / Teal blue (Matte)
Dynamic Duo 4 Mid-tone pink (Satin) / Blackened violet (Matte)

Eye Khol 

Smolder Intense black (Permanent)
Heirloom Highly metallicized greyed lavender (Repromote)
Resort Deep amethyst plum
Hyacinth Mid-tone blue (Permanent)

Mineralize Skinfinish 

Lightscapade Soft candlelit beige with multi-dimensional shimmer (Repromote)

Blush

Pink Cult Mid-tone neutral pink (Matte) (Repromote)
Magenta Bright magenta (Matte) (Repromote)

Nail Lacquer 

Screening Room Bright mid-tone teal (Cream)
Vivid Effect Vivid orange coral (Cream)
In the Dark… Purple Vivid violet (Cream)


MAC Tres Cheek Collection

Limited Edition blushes from MAC Tres Cheek Collections







MAC Tres Cheek Powder Blush 

Pink Tea- neutral beige pink (satin)
Loveclowd- bright mid-tone pink (satin)
Peony Petal- bight blue pink (satin)
Modern mandarin-red orange (satin)
Immortal Flower- bright peach (satin)
Full of Joy- lavender (frost)

I think it's the first time that MAC released an all-blush collection (or not? I may be wrong). I don't have that many MAC blushes yet, so I'll have to grab some. The darker orange one seems similar to Peaches from the permanent collection. 


These blushes will be available in April 2012.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Review: Dolly Wink Eyebrow Mascara and Liquid Eyeliner

As mentioned in one of my previous posts, I became interested in trying more products from Masuwaka Tsubasa's cosmetics line after purchasing lipsticks from Candy Doll. The other day, two of my orders from her Dolly Wink line arrived. One was Dolly Wink Liquid Eyeliner in Deep Black, and the other was Dolly Wink Eyebrow Mascara in Milk Tea.
Like typical Japanese cosmetics, the two products both came in really adorable packaging. I especially liked the packaging for the liquid liner, which was a little tricky to open at first. It's just so cute -- a lot better than a wrapped gift. Another good thing is that you can just put the product back inside the package if you want to keep it that way.
It even won a cosmetics award in 2010
The DW Eyebrow Mascara in Milk Tea was not as light as I thought it would be. I have purchased Palty Eyebrow Mascara before, and it was also in Milk Tea shade. However, between the two, I think the Palty one was closer to the color I wanted. It was a little lighter than my hair color (I was trying to match my eyebrow color with my hair), but it still worked. The Dolly Wink one has more of an orange-gold tone, so I had to be extra careful not to apply too much product on my brows or else it would look really weird on me who has a light brownish hair. I have tried having orange-y eyebrows before just for fun, and it wasn't very cute. Haha.
See? Haha. Weird orange brows.
Also, it does not make the brow hairs too stiff. But it still keeps those wiry eyebrows groomed and tame when regular tweezing does not do the trick.
 
As for the Dolly Wink Liquid Eyeliner, it totally exceeded my expectations. I already knew it would be great because Japanese girls tend to be very particular when it comes to their eye makeup, and black liners are an essential for them. But I never thought this one would be really, really good. My hand still gets a little shaky whenever I try to make cat-eye or winged liners, but with this one, it became easier. The tip is really pointy and doesn't bend that much, so it is easier to control and make better lines. It is also a waterproof-type, so you wouldn't have to worry too much about smudges. One drawback, however, is that the black color isn't as "deep" as it is supposed to be. You have to apply the color more than once to get the desired "darkness."

I think it was a pretty good purchase. I still find the products a bit expensive compared to other Japanese cosmetic brands, but I guess with Tsubasa as the brand's face, it just cannot be helped.

(c) All images belong to Ayra Blogs About Things

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My Top 5 Favorite Japanese Fashion Magazines

I've always been a fan of Japanese fashion, but people who know very little about it have the impression that it is always about wearing flamboyant and fancy costume-ish clothing. While it is true that it is usually flashy and eye-catching, there is a lot more to it than just big, dolly eyes and fake nails. 


I don't exactly "read" Japanese magazines because I can't read Kanji. But fashion magazines are all about the photos anyway.


So here are my top five picks:


ViVi - Simply my all-time favorite. The featured fashion in this magazine is always edgy, sexy, and modern. I almost went ape shit had to bid adieu to this mag after Hasegawa Jun, my eternal beauty muse, left. But because I really, really love the tone of this magazine, I remained faithful. (Plus, Watanabe Chikako's fierceness kept me going). So for girls who are adventurous and fun-loving, this mag is a good addition to your fashion references.
Koda Kumi, ViVi March 2012
AneCan - I refer to this magazine for inspirations on what to wear for work on days when I want to feel like a real office girl. We don't really have a strict dress code in the office, so I just normally wear whatever I want. However, sometimes I feel like I have to dress "professionally," so I scan the pages of this mag for ideas. AneCam is for the conservative yet stylish young ladies in their late 20s to early 30s. I used to follow the main magazine, CanCam, but after most of my favorite models like Ebihara Yuri and Oshikiri Moe graduated (aka became too old for the mag's target audience), I started following AneCam. So, I honestly do not know the names of the current CanCam models anymore. Haha.
Oshikiri Moe, AneCan February 2012
JJ - This magazine is very similar to CanCam as both promote fashion that is conservative but doesn't compromise style.  
Kiritani Mirei, JJ February 2012
Ray - If ViVi has Fujii Lena on every page, Ray has Karina. I only started to follow this magazine because of her. The magazine features fashion ideas for sweet and girly ladies in their 20s. It's all things dainty and lacy, but not too sweet. The target audience are women who want to keep their youthful and girly side without going overboard.
Karina, Ray March 2012
Glamorous - I NEED NOT EXPLAIN WHY THIS MAG IS IN MY TOP 5 PICKS. My biased opinion is biased. Haha. Back when Jun was in ViVi, she wasn't the main muse although she was definitely one of the more familiar and fierce faces. Now that she has transferred to Glamorous, she has graced the mag's cover every month. EVERY MONTH (Well, there was one with Namie Amuro in May 2011). Pretty much like Younha for Oggi. With Jun as the main girl, readers can expect nothing less than glam and fabulous. High-end brands fill the pages from the first to the last. The mag has to live up to its name, after all.
Hasegawa Jun, Glamorous February 2012

Monday, March 12, 2012

Hair Affairs: Tight Curls with Fringe

I went to a Japanese Music Fest with some of my friends last Sunday, and this was how I styled my hair for the event:


My friends thought I was wearing a wig and couldn't recognize me from afar. Haha.

But wig-looking or not, I still love how it looked. It was very easy to do, and the curls lasted the entire day. All I needed was my 1" Revlon Perfect Heat Ceramic Flat Iron (to apply heat on my hair while still in braids and help make the curls stay more in tact), 1/2" Revlon Travel Pro Straightener (to groom my fringe), and TRESemme Curl Activator Spray (to keep the curls in place for a long time). I also used TRESemme European Heat Tamer before applying heat to minimize the damage.

This can also be a no-heat look. You just have to leave your hair in braids for hours and let your damp hair dry naturally.

Now that I think about it, the look is like a combination of two of Taylor Swift's hairstyles:

Taylor Swift with her signature tight curls + her new straight locks
Add Miley Cyrus' hair color, and that's how my hair turned out. Haha.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What to Wear on a Date... Arashi Style

I wrote this for my old (and really private) blog before. This look review was from the Mannequin Five segment of Arashi's variety show called Himitsu no Arashi-chan which aired in May 28, 2009.


A brief background about this segment:
The five members of Arashi are given a theme and based on it, they have to coordinate an entire outfit. They invite female guests to give critiques of the looks they put together, and each of the guest will choose her favorite. The one who will not be chosen will be labeled "unsold" and, well, become pretty much a laughingstock. The evaluation has a very comical approach just like in typical Japanese variety shows.




Sho was wearing DOLCE&GABBANA...
But he still lost. lol. 


Watching the pilot episode of HnA's new segment was a lot of fun and very interesting. I must say, I think I pretty much have a different taste in men's fashion as compared to the four female guests they had. 

I'll make an unbiased evaluation (YES, UNBIASED) of the looks they chose (I am assuming that they chose the clothes themselves, since I think they really showed their personalities and they're a bit different from the ones the boys wear on their other TV appearances which, as we all know, were done by their stylists.) The theme was "What to wear on your first date".




Here's how they looked:
From L-R: Sakurai Sho, Aiba Masaki, Ninomiya Kazunaru, 
Ohno Satoshi and Matsumoto Jun


1. Aiba Masaki's look - Honestly, I wasn't very keen with what he was wearing when he first unveiled it. I felt that the top was too heavy, and the overall look was a bit unbalanced. It looked like he spent too much time coordinating the top part  with all that jacket, vest, checkered inner shirt, and scarf and neglected the bottom part. My dad actually has the same pair of sandals he was wearing. Haha. I would probably prefer if he wore a low cut sneakers instead. However, I've seen that look several times on the runway before, so if my date would show up wearing that kind of look, it would give me the impression that his fashion awareness is above average. And also, when he said that his plan was to go to an amusement park, I think the outfit would be good enough.

2. Ninomiya Kazunari's look - I think it's too fashionable and definitely gave off a celeb vibe.  The choice of color was great because the look itself already stood out, so the subtletly of the color gave the right balance. I would prefer a different pair of jeans though, something that would make him look taller but not awkward. I think the pants he was wearing made his legs look skinny in an unattractive way. With him wearing an outfit like that, I think it kinda limits the place where he and his date could go.

3. Matsumoto Jun's look - I like it. It's simple yet it has "punch". Although it didn't look like he spent too much time thinking of what to wear (a manly trait, huh?), it was still evident that he's stylish. I like guys who know how to accessorize well. But I am so not into the "jarajara ippai" look. (It means overly accessorized; too blingy; lol)



(Note: Now that I think about it, I kinda don't like the vest. Haha.)

4. Ohno Satoshi's look - Err, the least I like. First, the leather jacket is totally not working. Oh-chan is a petite guy, and the jacket being oversized kinda emphasized his height disadvantage. The guests equate the leather jacket to being a "bad boy" but I would call it the "lazy look" (another manly trait) and yes, it would go well on a drive date (Even if not on a motorbike as suggested. I would prefer riding a convertible instead.) When he changed into the yellow shirt, I think it looked way better (but again, the shirt looked a bit big for him.). I realy think that Ohno looks the best when he wears simple clothes like some sneakers, faded jeans, and a bright-colored shirt. He looked fresh that way and made him look even younger than his actual age.

5. Sakurai Sho's look - Out of the five of them, I like this one the most (I am being unbiased, I promise!). It looked clean and presentable yet really chic. I think I would be very proud to walk around he streets with him. Just like what Jun said, he always looks good when he tucks his shirt in and the clothes drape around his body really well (Actually, everything that Sho wears interests me - from his suits in News Zero to the casual chic clothes he wears in Shukudai-kun. I really think he's a great dresser). All the girls hate it but the pink inner shirt didn't bother me at all (probably because it's my favorite color, and I do believe that not all guys can pull pink off.) But what's funny about the entire outfit is that I think I myself can wear it. Haha. Somehow, I kept thinking that it had a "cowboy feel" to it and it's all because it reminded me of what Madonna was wearing in her "Don't Tell Me" music video.



 
See what I meant?


In the end, Aiba won (because he got chosen first), and Sho was the unsold mannequin. Aiba was indeed a "miracle boy." And poor Sho - I could definitely tell he was upset. His expressions when the girls where pointing out the details of his outfit showed that he really didn't agree with them. Haha. 


If I were to rank them from who I like the most, it'll be Sho, Jun, Nino, Aiba, then Ohno.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Peek into the Recent S/S TGC 2012





Some of my fave girls rocking the runway

As much as I wanted to be there last Saturday, things that can't happen just won't happen.


I'm still waiting for a full video of the show. I'm super excited to see the collection and of course the special performances from the guest artists. There are videos of individual performances out there, but I'd rather watch the whole show first. Hihi.

Judging from this almost 2-minute clip, it still looks like the usual fun and flirty TGC show. 




 

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