Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Current Favourites & Recent Purchases

Current Favourites:

I've been really loving lip products recently, which is a bit strange for me as I've always been more of a blush person. I'm getting into pinks and other 'spring colours' for lips. I've also been experimenting with eyeshadow combinations, which is also very new for me as I've only ever worn eyeshadow as a wash of neutral colour, if at all.

These are my current favourites, for March and April:


Two of the blushes that I've been wearing almost every day are Sleek Coral (a matte coral with a brick-brown undertone) and NARS Torrid (a subtly shimmery pink coral). I like to wear the MUA cream blush in Yummy (a warm pink) as a base for Coral, even though it doesn't really need a base. I'm going to try to wear more cream blushes this season. I'm also getting back into wearing one of my all-time favourite (and first) blushes, Sleek Life's a Peach (a sheer but GORGEOUS matte peach).

The illuminators I've been wearing are Benefit Sunbeam (a golden bronze liquid illuminator, which is the exact colour of my skin, except more glowy) and the powder highlighter from Sleek Face Form palette in Medium (which is the perfect golden shade of highlighter for my NC40-42 skin tone). I've also been wearing Accessorize Bronze Highlighter, which is a coppery-orange cream/liquid highlighter and really amazing with some of the eye looks I've been wearing. This highlighter is quite pigmented that it almost functions as a blush - and I have a slight suspicion that it might be somewhat of a dupe for NARS Taj Mahal, if you build it up. I tend to sheer it out to give it the effect of a shimmery bronzer.

I wore the contour colour from the Face Form palette a couple of times but I've largely avoided it as I prefer to wear less makeup in the spring-time.

I don't use any foundation but I do really like my Sleek Luminous Pressed Powder in Shade 01 dusted all over my T-zone as a finishing powder. 


I've been loving the MUA Undressed eyeshadow palette and the Sleek Garden of Eden I-Divine eyeshadow palette. I've also been using the MUA Pro-Base eye primer, which is really nice.

I discovered a nice method for applying eyeshadow, which uses three colours and is very easy for beginners. Basically, you use a shimmery mid-tone colour all over your mobile lid, blend a warm brown contour colour or matte eyeshadow into your crease as a transition colour, and put a light shimmery colour just in the centre of your mobile lid (making sure to blend out any edges). It creates the gradient effect and looks very complex and difficult even though it isn't! The first colour acts as a beautiful base for the third colour - they should be chosen to complement each other, since they'll blend together to create dimension.

For example, using the Garden of Eden palette, I use Fig (a light shimmery green) all over my lid, Flora (a dark matte warm brown) in the crease and Gates of Eden (a coppery gold) in the middle of the lid. This combination is so lovely for spring!

Using the Undressed palette, I use Shade 7 (a dirty golden bronze) all over my lid, Shade 5 (a mid-tone matte warm brown) in the crease and Shade 6 (a slightly coppery bright gold) in the middle of the lid.

For eyeliner, I either use Catrice Ultra Fine Ink Eyeliner in Don't Move! (a wonderful waterproof black) or the Collection twist-up eye pencil in brown (not sure of the exact name, because it's rubbed out, but it's very cheap and decent), smudged out with a mix of black and brown eyeshadow from the Sleek Ultra Mattes V2 I-Divine eyeshadow palette. I find especially the smoky eyeliner look to be really flattering. I use whatever shadow is left on my brush to just fill in the arch of my eyebrows.


The lip products I've been loving Rimmel Apocalips Lip Lacquer in Aurora (a very warm and bright pink), Catrice Ultimate Colour lipstick in Pink Me Up! (my favourite lipstick of all time, a deep red-rose), Catrice Ultimate Shine lipstick in Fox Nox (an orangy nude) and a nude combination which I've been obsessed with - Sleek's Pout Paint in Minx (a peachy nude, just a shade lighter than my natural lip colour) topped off with a bit of the Essence Stay With Me lip gloss Choose Me! (a brown with a reddish undertone). I can't believe how beautiful and flattering that combination is for my skin tone and lips. Nudes, deep rose-pinks and (slightly muted) orangy-corals are my favourites for this season.

The Catrice lipsticks I mentioned are two of my favourite lipsticks ever, but they've been discontinued, sadly. I bought a bunch of backups before leaving Prague, since you can't get Catrice in the UK - and I'll never find these shades again. If I find any dupes I'll be sure to write about them, but I like the Catrice formulas so much that I don't think I'll ever find dupes for them.

Recent purchases:

I've been very good with my project of reducing spending on makeup. The last time I spent a lot of money on makeup was when I left Prague - I bought a lot of backups of my Catrice lipsticks and Essence lip creams and glosses, mainly. Many of them were being discontinued anyway, so even if I stayed in Prague I wouldn't be able to buy them again. I also bought a few shades of Rimmel lipsticks that are (for some reason) not availble in the UK.

On the last day I was in Prague, I found out that Sephora was having their Buy 4, Get 40% off sale (which they have about twice a year), so I indulged myself and bought two NARS blushes (Torrid and a backup of Taj Mahal) and two Sephora lip stains (01 always red and 04 endless purple).

Since coming back to the UK I haven't bought much makeup at all, and I'm very proud of myself for that. I bought only four products in the last month and a half: three shades of the Collection Cream Puff matte lip creams (Cotton Candy, Fairy Cake and Angel Delight - since Boots was having a Buy 2, Get 1 free offer) and only one shade of the MUA Luxe Velvet lip lacquer (Reckless).

I also organised all my makeup into some plastic food containers (a tall one fits my lip glosses and creams perfectly, and a rectangular one fits my blushes very well) and plastic drawers, so I haven't really felt the need to buy any more makeup. I can see how much I have with one glance. I've also been using a lot of the makeup that I have that I've never used (shopping my stash).

I'm studying too much to be able to update regularly these days but I shall try. Next time I'll try to include the photos of my eye and lip combinations at least, and maybe even do a collection post!

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Update + MAC lipstick dupes

Update on "Spending Less on Makeup" Project

The bad:

I made two online orders in December and two pharmacy purchases and one online order in January. The online orders were things that had been on my wishlist for a long time, so that's all right. I went to the pharmacies to look for some of the things on my wishlist, which weren't there, and so I decided to buy a few backups and ended up spending much more than I should have.

The good:

I made an extensive spreadsheet with many different sheets to organise my makeup and to plan how to reduce my spending on makeup as well as the size of my collection. I threw away about 40 items of makeup that were old, useless or didn't suit me, and made a record of that in the spreadsheet so I'd know to avoid those sorts of purchases in the future. I'm planning to buy a smaller-than-medium makeup train case to store my entire collection, but I'm waiting till March to get that (otherwise that will contribute to my shopping addiction!).

My main spreadsheet is called "stash". In it, I list all my makeup items (around 300 of them) and my goal is to reduce that by half. I also have a list of purchases, a wantlist and a wishlist. Another list which helps me out a lot is my blacklist - just a list of makeup (brands, shades, types of products, whatever) I won't buy, the reasons why, and exceptions where necessary.

Why I don't buy MAC products

One of the brands on my blacklist is MAC. I don't allow myself any exceptions. Not even my love for Rihanna. These are the reasons I've listed:

1) It's too expensive. I know it's known as a mid-range brand but it's still out of my budget.

2) They bring out too many limited edition collections, and too often, creating a marketing frenzy in which it's impossible to make a rational decision. Often it's impossible even to get your hands on a product.

3) I've never bought MAC before; why start now? Venturing into a brand, even for one or two products, is like taking a gateway drug.

4) There are many dupes available. Even the colours many bloggers call "undupable" turned out to have several dupes or near-dupes.

5) I find MAC to be an extremely unethical company. I just want to mention one example, out of many: their despicable collaboration with Rodarte, where they used the murders of women in Juarez, Mexico, as a marketing gimmick. Yes, they apologised (to protect their profits), but the fact that they did it in the first place shows they have no respect for the lives and memories of poor Third World women. I read a lot of comments defending this by privileged people in the First World, which I completely expected, because they are complicit in the violence against these women every time they buy makeup or clothes manufactured in these factories! If you find yourself wanting to defend this, please stay far away from me.

Just remembering that such a thing happened provokes such a violent nausea in me - so imagine how much worse it would be if I actually buy a MAC product, how I'd feel every time I used it. I think that incident is reason enough to boycott MAC. It's unforgivable.

MAC terminology to describe skin tone

Even though I don't endorse MAC, I do use some of their terminology. I describe my skin tone with a MAC foundation shade, because it's almost become a standard, and I actually quite like the numbering system + warm / cool / neutral designation.

I don't like the light / medium / dark system of naming skin tones, because it's normative, implying that there is a normal or correct skin tone against which we measure our own. I'm considered "fair" in my homeland and "dark" in the White-majority countries where I grew up. It's very frustrating to go to a makeup counter in the UK and swatch the medium and dark shades of concealer and have them both be too light for you. This three-part categorisation ignores all the diversity of skin tones that exists. A BB cream that only comes in three shades, I'm sure, will suit only three skin tones, and exclude many many many more. (I've tried tinted moisturisers that didn't match me exactly and they made me look ashy.)

But even light / medium / dark is better than the word "tan", which I hate with a passion. Tanning is a physical process that happens with the production of melanin in response to sun exposure. A person with an NC35 skin tone might tan to NC40, so when you refer to me as "tan", you're measuring me against a person who is lighter than me, and thus implying that they are normal. When I become tanned, my skin tone can change to NC45. "Tan" is an offensive and inaccurate way of designating someone's (normal) skin tone.

Don't even get me started on descriptions like "caramel" or "chocolate"! We are not food - nor are we "exotic" places (I'm looking at NARS here).

(If you are a woman of colour and use any of these descriptors, then more power to you. I just find them personally distasteful, and would rather not be referred to by these terms.)

MAC's system is a very neutral and inoffensive way to describe skin tones. So I use "NC40-42" to describe my skin tone, even though I've never used their foundation (I don't use any foundation). I know this because I follow blogs and videos by people who have the same skin tone as me and use these shades of MAC foundation. I use it as a standard descriptor, having no intention of supporting MAC as a company or using their products.

Duping MAC

All that being said, MAC is almost impossible to avoid in the makeup community, as you all probably know. When you see post after post and video after video on one particular lipstick by MAC, it's impossible not to have it memorised, or even not to be tempted to buy it, sometimes. But remember, as I said in reason number 4: it's always, always dupable. There is never any reason to resort to buying from MAC, if you don't want to.

I'm only really interested in duping MAC lipsticks, rather than anything else from this company. Even though I am a blush person, I'm not tempted by a single MAC blush. I find them boring and just not that special. (Some of the NARS blushes, on the other hand, could benefit from more dupes!)

There are many dupe lists out there, but they can often be inaccurate. I've done my research to find as many exact dupes as possible. "Dupes" for me refer to both texture and colour; a matte red lipstick for me looks completely different from a glossy red lipstick of the same tone. So now I'm going to share with you the fruits of my research. I've listed below some of the dupes that I've come across, my subjective opinion of the percent match to the original (which I've only seen in pictures/videos) and what differences I can see.

For me, a 100% match means an exact dupe, with the exact same texture and shade. A 95% match means a close to exact dupe, with minimal differences in texture and/or shade. A 90% match is a close dupe, with some small differences in texture and/or shade. For these, you can only tell the difference by swatching them side by side and scrutinising them closely. If you wear one on one day and the other the next day, people would assume you wore the same lipstick twice in a row. Or even if you wore one on the top lip and the other on the bottom lip, the difference would be barely noticeable, and only from close up.

Anything below a 90% match means that there is a noticeable difference in the texture and/or the shade. If it's the exact same shade, but one is matte and the other is glossy, OR if it's the same texture, but one is a shade darker than the other, I'd give it an 80%. I don't consider anything below 90% to be real "dupes", but I've included some anyway, just to let you know.

I can't guarantee that what I call 100% dupes are indeed exact, because I don't own any MAC lipsticks that I can swatch next to the "dupe". I'm only relying on internet research - swatches from blogs or videos - and judging the closeness of the dupe from there. I do own all of the dupe shades mentioned, so I can tell whether or not the photo or video is showing the true colour of the lipstick. And I have been quite cautious with the rating - any dupe which looks exact but I'm unsure about has been given only a 95% rating, even if, at first sight, it looks like a 100% match.

I've linked swatches for all the mentioned dupes - they can be accessed by clicking the name of the dupe, and you can judge for yourself how close a dupe it is! :)

MAC lipstick dupes

MAC Shade - texture :: Dupe Brand, Line and Shade - texture :: Percent Match - differences

Candy Yum Yum - matte :: Barry M Lip Paint in No. 52 Shocking Pink - matte :: 100% - none visible

Chatterbox - amplified :: Catrice Ultimate Colour Lipstick in Pinkadilly Circus - sheen :: 80% - more orange, lighter

Cosmo - amplified :: Rimmel Kate Moss Lasting Finish Lipstick in No. 08 - sheen :: 95% - more beige, more satin, more opaque
Deeply Adored (LE from the Marilyn Monroe Collection) - matte :: Sleek True Colour Lipstick in Cherry - sheen :: 95% - may be slightly darker, less matte

Diva - matte :: Sleek True Colour Lipstick in Cranberry (alternative swatch) (LE from the Berry Collection) - matte :: 95% - may be slightly darker

Girl About Town - amplified :: Catrice Ultimate Colour Lipstick in Pinker-bell - glossy sheen :: 70% - pinker, lighter, different finish

Heaux (LE from the Riri Hearts MAC collection) - matte :: Rimmel Kate Moss Lasting Finish Lipstick in No. 09 - sheen :: 90% - different finish - more shiny, slightly brighter, pinker

Heaux (LE from the Riri Hearts MAC collection) - matte :: Rimmel Kate Moss Lasting Finish Matte Lipstick in No. 107 - satin :: 80% - different finish - more shiny, a shade darker, similar on lip swatch but different on arm swatch

Honeylove - matte :: Rimmel Kate Moss Lasting Finish Lipstick in No. 14 - sheen :: 90% - less pigmented, less matte, similar on lip swatch but different on arm swatch

Impassioned - amplified :: Sleek True Colour Lipstick in Candy Cane - sheen :: 100% - none visible

Impassioned - amplified :: Rimmel Kate Moss Lasting Finish Lipstick in No. 06 - sheen :: 90% - more vibrant and pigmented

Impassioned - amplified :: Catrice Ultimate Colour lipstick in Kiss Kiss Hibiscus - sheen :: 80% - different finish - much glossier, more orange, brighter

Mocha - satin :: Sleek True Colour Lipstick in Succumb - sheen :: 95% - slightly different finish

Morange - amplified :: Sleek True Colour Lipstick in Tangerine Scream - sheen :: 100% - none visible

Rebel - satin :: Sleek Pout Paint in Port - sheen :: 90% - lighter, slightly pinker and more shiny
Ruby Woo - matte :: Sleek True Colour Lipstick in Stiletto - matte :: 90% - less bright, slightly cooler

Show Orchid - amplified :: NYC Expert Last Lipstick Blue Rose (alternative swatch) - shimmer :: 95% - more pigmented, slightly cooler

Hope this helps you as much as these bloggers and youtubers have helped me! If you know of any shades that are limited edition that I haven't mentioned, or any inaccuracies in this post, please let me know in the comments. I have quite a few more lipsticks which I suspect are dupes for some MAC shades, as well as some in my wishlist that I'm planning to get. I'll post them here when I've found more!

ETA: Just corrected an error - the Catrice lipstick lines are called "Ultimate Colour" and "Ultimate Shine", not "Infinite Colour/Shine". They're my holy grail lipstick formula; I can't believe I'd forget something like that!