16 Mar 2014

Review: MAC Pro Longwear Concealer NC15

I've mentioned before how little sleep I get here in Korea (an awful habit I formed after assimilating to a culture that has an incredibly active nightlife) and, naturally, dark circles come with the territory. Some days are really bad though, and my trusty Etude House Surprise Concealer Kit simply doesn't cut it, so I decided to go high-end and got the MAC Pro Longwear Concealer at my local department store. The makeup artist/ sales woman tested two shades under my eyes and we both decided the NC15 was perfect as it was a shade lighter than my skin tone (which is what I look for, because I want to brighten up the under eye area.) I paid KRW26 000 for 9ml, and with me, high price equals equally high expectations.

What it promises:
A lightweight fluid concealer that provides medium to full coverage with a comfortable, natural matte finish. Colour-true formula lasts up to 15 hours. Helps conceal and correct the look of under-eye circles, and discolorations. Comes in a clear glass vial with a matte black pump.


I love the glass vial this product comes in- it just looks and feel so much more luxurious. But, sadly, that's where it ends. I have some major issues with the pump dispenser. It dispenses way too much product per pump and I swear, I have tried and tried to control the amount of product that is dispensed, but nothing works and it ends up being a big mess all over the bottle's neck. Ugh, no. Seriously. You'd think that a brand like MAC could at least come up with quality packaging, because it's such a waste of expensive product and it's so unnecessary. I've seen products less than a quarter of the price have better dispensers than this. So yeah, not cool.

Texture and scent:
Okay, I have a little more ranting to do before I get to the good part of this product. The scent of this concealer is not nice at all. It has a musty odour that lingers a good while after application before it (thankfully!) disappears. It was a bit of a shocker to me, as I've become rather used to makeup being delightfully fragranced here in Korea and this was just plain ugly in comparison.

As for the dreamy, creamy texture, I am sold. It dries fairly quickly, so you need to work fast, but you can use a variety of tools to apply this concealer and it always looks good. I've read about many people experiencing a bit of tightness after application and I experienced this myself, but I find that it's only when my skin is particularly dry or when I haven't prepped my eye area well enough. True to it's claims it really does feel very lightweight, despite it's amazing coverage.

My thoughts:
This baby was designed to compete! It effortlessly covers up my dark circles and I only need the tiniest amount of product to achieve perfection. It brightens up the eye area, making me look fresh and awake and it really does stay put forever!  On numerous occasions I've worn it from 7am-10pm without having to touch up, so I'm super impressed with its longevity. 

I've also used it on my blemishes, but it does tend to exacerbate flakiness, however it covers the marks from healed blemishes and other pigmentation just fine. I do find that it slightly rests in the creases under my eyes if I don't prep my eyes nicely during winter, but highly doubt that I'd have that problem when summer rolls around. While I have many gripes with the dispenser and scent, I can't deny that this little vial is a powerhouse! I can definitely see where my money is going in terms of its performance and will definitely be repurchasing.


4 Mar 2014

Review: Banila Co. Hydrating Prime Primer

I've been talking a lot about my dry, flaky winter skin lately and today's post is no exception, because I've been pulling out all the stops to get that healthy glow back. I'd heard so much about the Banila Co. Prime Primers (they are, after all, considered the best here in Korea) so I decided to give it a try.
There are several versions: Classic (for skin with rough texture, visible pores and fine wrinkles), Classic Matte (same as Classic, but with oil control), Hydrating (for dry, dehydrated skin), Purity (for sensitive skin), Natural (for light cover) and Anti-Wrinkle. At KRW18 000 for 30ml, it's slightly more expensive than my beloved Face It Velvet Skin Primer, but still very much falls within the affordable category. I purchased mine online during a sale period for KRW16 200 at the  Banila Co. mini shop on Gmarket.

What it promises:

I was quite intrigued by the metallic jar as it's the only primer in this range that doesn't come in a plastic container. I have no idea whether it's just a gimmick or if it serves a purpose, but I like it nonetheless. Product is dispensed via a pump, which I also like, because it's so much more hygienic and I use about two pumps per application.

Texture and Scent:
The first thing I noticed about this primer is that it didn't have that famous velvety texture seen the aforementioned Classic version as well as the Face It Velvet Skin Primer. I'm guessing this is due to a reduction in silicone or complete lack thereof in the formula. Instead, it has a light creamy texture with a hint of what feels like petroleum jelly, minus the shine you'd expect from a hydrating primer. In fact, I'd go as far as saying it has better oil control than the Classic version. I could almost compare it to Elizabeth Arden's Eight Hour Cream, except it's a primer.

My Thoughts:
My skin definitely feels more hydrated when I use this primer and the fine lines around my eyes (that are awfully exacerbated in this dry climate) are plumped out nicely, so full points for that. I also love how the added moisture doesn't compromise the oil control of this product. My t-zone stays oil-free for most of the day, which I must admit, was the one thing I was expecting to disappoint me. I also haven't suffered any clogged pores or breakouts as a result of using this primer. Unfortunately though, it didn't reduce the appearance of those pesky flakes that have been annoying me so badly these past couple of months, which is the one thing I was hoping for- it being a hydrating primer an all! It also doesn't make my skin feel as smooth as other primers.

I did find some consolation in the form of a freebie sample of the Classic Primer included when I purchased this one. I tried it just this morning and after just one use it's making me wonder if my Face It Velvet Skin Primer is to be dethroned in the near future... but that's a review for another day.

2 Mar 2014

Review: MAC Strobe Cream

I've wanted to try MAC Strobe Cream for the longest time, but always held back because of the hefty price tag (KRW46 000 for 50ml), but since it's been winter here in Korea and my poor skin has been super dry and dull-looking, I convinced myself (not that it took much convincing) that I needed this product and so headed to my local department store to pick up a tube.

What it promises:
The ultimate quick fix for the skin. Super-powered with potent botanicals; de-snoozes, de-stresses, moistens, freshens and boosts the look of dull, flat or tired-looking skin with a fully loaded vitamin zap and a mega dose of green tea. Brightens and clarifies with iridescent particles and antioxidants. Enhances the effects of light on all skin and in all lighting conditions from sunlight to spotlight.

I like the simple and elegant packaging: pearly white plastic tube with a black screw cap that is squeezed to dispense the product. However, it's not always practical as it's impossible to tell how much product you have left. Also, the cap is made of a velvety rubber plastic which is prone to staining of you touch it with oily or makeup-covered fingers and it takes more than a quick wipe down to clean it again. 

Texture & Scent:
The product is virtually scentless and has a light creamy texture and the most beautiful pearlescent colour I've ever seen in a lotion. Yes, this is a skin care product, even though it is famous for its highlighting and illuminating properties. It absorbs quickly and doesn't leave a greasy layer on my skin.

My thoughts:
Because I had such high hopes for the MAC Strobe Cream, I felt extra disappointed when it didn't live up to all of its claims or my expectations. While it does brighten up my skin, the effects are only visible for a short period, provided I don't apply makeup. As soon as my BB cream or foundation goes on, the effects disappear. I've tried mixing it with my foundation, to no avail. I also find that it clogs my pores and I end up with closed comedones (non-inflamed bumps) on my forehead, but it doesn't cause inflamed blemishes. It's also not very moisturising in winter weather as I need to supplement it with my usual day moisturiser. 

I think this product is good for those no-fuss days where you simply wear some mascara and blush and a bit of lip gloss and simply use it to brighten up your complexion. I also think it's one of those products better suited to those lucky ladies with balanced skin types. Ultimately, what you're getting simply doesn't justify the price you're paying. I'd much rather go for more affordable products, like the L'Oreal Lumi Magique Primer or the very popular (in no small part due to it's efficacy) Banila Co it Radiant CC cream, which I'll be reviewing soon- yay!

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