The Masks.

I'm still fairly new to the world of face masks. Prior to my skin care overhaul at the start of the year, I didn't have any masks in my routine that I used regularly.The three masks I introduced into my routine have really helped to turn my skin around, each in their own ways.

Though each mask serves a completely different purpose, if I could only choose one, I would undoubtedly go with the REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask. One of the biggest changes I made to my skin care was cutting out physical exfoliation and replacing it with chemical exfoliation; in other words, swapping out my Clarisonic Mia for products with exfoliating acid components. 

As you might expect based on the name, the REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask mask contains glycolic and lactic acids, as well as tartaric and citric acids, that work to gently slough away dead skin cells, aiding in skin cell turnover and as a result, acne scarring, wrinkles and clogged pores. About once a week, I'll apply a pump of the orange marmalade-like mask all over my face and let it sit for 15 minutes before removing it with a warm, damp washcloth. REN recommends leaving it on for 10 minutes, which I did the first time I used it, but as I noticed my skin was able to handle a bit more than that, I've since been leaving it on for a bit longer without any problems. It tingles just a bit towards the latter half of the 15 minutes, and my skin is often a bit pink when I remove the mask. However, it also leaves my skin feeling incredibly smooth, soft, clear, and the immediate glow is undeniable. I can't live without this!

Depending on how oily and/or congested my skin feels (and how lazy I am, let's be honest), I'll use my Aesop Parsley Seed Cleansing Masque up to twice a week. It's a clay cleanser that is unlike any I've tried before. It's far lighter in consistency and less drying than most clay masks, but it still unclogs pores and de-slicks skin like the traditional clay mask. I apply a thin, even layer to my skin after cleansing and while the mask applies more like a clear lotion, it dries down to a grey layer on the skin after a minute or two. It has an lavender scent that is quite herbal and calming. I rinse it off after 15-20 minutes and my skin feels clean and clear but not particularly stripped of moisture, provided I don't use it when my skin is dry. Unlike most clay masks, Aesop's doesn't leave my skin feeling tight and itchy, a result of the stripped oils. It has become my go-to product when I feel my skin needs a bit of deep-cleansing, perhaps at the end of the week.

When my skin is feeling dry or dehydrated, I'll swap out my nighttime moisturizer for a healthy dose of Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask. This is my first overnight mask, and to be honest, I thought it was a bit odd at first that you'd apply a mask and leave it on for hours without rinsing it off. Although I do love using it as needed, I fail to identify many differences between it and an incredibly hydrating night cream, if you already have one of those (I don't). Especially when paired with a hydrating serum, the moisturization provided to my skin lasts well into the morning and leaves my skin feeling ridiculously soft and plump.

The REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask is available from Sephora for $55 for 1.7 oz.
The Aesop Parsley Seed Cleansing Masque is available on their website for $37 for 2 oz.
The Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask is available on their website for $23 for 3.4 oz.


My Lips But Better.

The concept of 'My Lips But Better', or MLBB, is a bit of a tricky one. Since everyone's natural lip pigmentation varies, so will the lip colors that give them that slightly-more-flattering-than-normal appearance.

For reference, my lips have a fair bit of rosy pigmentation on their own, so nude lipsticks tend to be far too pale to achieve that highly desired MLBB look on me. The three lipsticks I consider my MLBB lipsticks are all variations on a medium, warm, rosy nude.

L to R: NARS Dolce Vita, YSL Rouge Volupté Shine in #9 Nude in Private, MAC Sheen Supreme in Bare Again

NARS Dolce Vita is the most rosy of the three.
YSL Nude in Private is lighter than Dolce Vita and sheerer and pinker than Bare Again.
MAC Bare Again is more pigmented and a touch darker and browner than Nude in Private.

L to R: NARS Dolce VitaYSL Rouge Volupté Shine in #9 Nude in PrivateMAC Sheen Supreme in Bare Again

Of these three, Nude in Private gives me the most believable MLBB look, as Dolce Vita is a touch too rose and Bare Again is a touch too pigmented. I find lipsticks with sheerer pigmentation are better at creating that natural, fleshy lip that the whole MLBB concept aims to achieve.

You can see me wearing Dolce Vita here, Nude in Private here, and Bare Again here. I didn't include lip swatches in this post because they all look quite similar on the lips; the slight nuances are easier to detect in the traditional arm swatch :)

What's your perfect 'My Lips But Better' lipstick?


Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Dim Light.

After being quite impressed with how Diffused Light performed, I made a quick pit stop at Sephora on Valentine's Day when the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders debuted in-stores and picked up Dim Light, "a neutral peach beige powder that blurs imperfections and highlights a radiant complexion with the perfect balance of warm and cool tones" according to Hourglass.

Dim Light has very fine, soft shimmer running throughout it, though it doesn't translate as shimmery or glittery on the skin when used correctly. I find this particular shade best used as an all-over finishing powder rather than as a concentrated highlighter.

Unlike Diffused Light, which I didn't swatch because it seemed pointless, Dim Light shows up on my arm when swatched, as it is a bit darker than my skin tone. When I used it for the first time, loading it up on my powder brush in the same way I use Diffused Light, the result was a bit cakey and Snooki-like on me. Dim Light has the potential to add quite a bit of peachy tan color on light skin tones like mine. Those with very fair skin tones may find Dim Light too dark and muddy on them, even when applied in moderation.

I've found that the key is to use it sparingly; don't use a particularly dense powder brush to apply it and start off with only a minimal amount of powder on the brush. Once you are able to see how the powder affects the appearance of your complexion based on your application technique, you can adjust from there. Remember, you can always add more powder if you need it, but removing it in cases of over-application is far more tedious.

Dim Light heavily swatched (left) and blended in (not really visible in photo)

Because Dim Light offers up a small dose of peachy tan pigment, it seems to blur imperfections every so slightly, simply due to the fact that it adds a touch of extra coverage to my foundation and concealer. It controls my oily T-zone fairly well, and it never makes my skin look too matte. I find that the overall finish on my skin is quite radiant as a result of the subtle micro-shimmer, and since the powder is incredibly finely milled, it just seems to melt into my foundation and never looks powdery when used correctly.

I purchased Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Dim Light from Sephora for $45.


Natural Everyday Makeup + My Valentine's Day Makeup.

I often find it the most difficult to find a suitable makeup look to go along with a primarily red outfit. In my case where I decided on a bright red top for Valentine's Day, the typical smokey eye seems over the top, no-makeup makeup seems too natural and screams "I didn't even try," while a classic red lip seems a bit matronly and too matchy matchy. 

The look I ultimately settled on complemented my top perfectly without competing for attention, and the fact that I've also worn it twice already since Valentine's Day makes me think it might also be my new natural everyday makeup routine :)

Note: The following photos were taken today, not on Valentine's Day, but the makeup is the same.

On my eyes, I primed with TFSI and followed up with MAC Paint Pot in Soft Ochre as a base to neutralize any redness. For shadows, I turned to the Stila In the Know Palette for some solid matte shades and used a mixture of the 3rd and 4th shades from the top row all over the lid, a mixture of the two darkest brown shades in the palette blended into the top lashline and in the outer corner, and the middle shade in the bottom row to blend everything out.

A touch of black liner on my top waterline, brown liner on my bottom waterline (I didn't want anything too harsh) and a generous dose of mascara on the top lashes completed my eye look.

On my cheeks, I wore Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush in Exposed, a perfect neutral pink, with Dior Amber Diamond on the tops of my cheek bones.

For my base, I wore my new love, the Dior Diorskin Nude BB Creme in 002 with a bit of concealer under my eyes and on any redness on my face. I topped everything off with my newest Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Dim Light, a product I plan on dedicating  a post to soon, so hang tight if you're interested.

Lastly, on my lips, I have YSL Rouge Volupté Shine in Nude in Private, the perfect MLBB shade for me.

I really loved how it turned out, to be honest. I think the touch of smokiness on the eyes works well both during the daytime and at night, while the cheek and lip colors would complement nearly any look. I've already deemed Nude in Private a handbag staple :)

What makeup did you wear on Valentine's Day?


Kate Somerville Goat Milk Cream.

Kate Somerville Goat Milk Cream came highly praised and recommended by my skincare idol, Caroline Hirons, and it has since become both my day and nighttime moisturizer. It's a moisturizer aimed at dry, sensitive and combination skin types, though to me, it doesn't seem quite moisturizing enough for the driest of dry skin states when used on its own.

Goat Milk Cream is a white cream, as you'd expect, that has quite a light consistency for a cream. Assuming you use the right amount of product (I use a full pump at night and bit less during the day), it sinks into the skin quickly without leaving any greasy residue sitting on the surface. Using too much = potential greasy mess.

For daytime moisturization, I use only this cream, and I find that it preps the skin nicely for makeup as well. Before bedtime, I use this over a hydrating serum (I'll talk about those in another post), as I find it does not provide enough hydration on its own for my dry winter skin. 

I like to think of this cream as the moisturizer counterpart to my beloved Pai Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser in the sense that it is a simple, non-offensive moisturizer that does what it's meant to do without irritating skin or clogging pores in the process. 

I have combination, acne-prone skin at the moment (oily t-zone with dry cheeks and forehead), and I've found that moisturizers geared towards oily and/or acne-prone skin don't provide nearly enough hydration for my dry spots, while those formulated for normal to dry skin often leave my face looking like an oil slick. Goat Milk Cream is the perfect medium, in my opinion. Bravo, Kate Somerville. Bravo.

Kate Somerville Goat Milk Cream retails for $55 for 1.7oz and is available from Sephora.


Love at First Sight: Dior Diorskin Nude BB Creme.

If you follow me on Instagram at WillWorkForMakeup (shocking username, I know!), you might have seen my cheeky Friday purchase and my new love, the Dior Diorskin Nude BB Creme. Normally, I'd prefer to use a product a bit more before reviewing it, but in this case, I just couldn't wait. I love this stuff too much.

According to Dior, the Diorskin Nude BB Creme:
1. Corrects transparently.
2. Lights the skin up with a fresh glow. 
3. Gently hydrates.
4. Instantly smoothes.
5. Protects, day after day.

I have it in the shade Fair 002, and I think the color is a great match for my NC20 skin tone. I use about a large pea-sized amount to cover my entire face, and it blends in quickly and effortlessly with my Real Techniques Stippling brush, which I almost always use for foundation/tinted moisturizer application. 

What I love most about it is the gorgeous dewy finish that is never greasy. The BB creme feels light and invisible on the skin, like you're wearing nothing at all, and the finish never feels wet, sticky or tacky to the touch, yet somehow it's able to achieve the most healthy, dewy glow I've ever seen. Dior boasts an "astoundingly natural finish," but I actually think it's much more than that, because my skin naturally would never be able to look this radiant on its own.

Though I do like to powder at least through the t-zone, even without powder, my skin does not get very shiny under this BB creme throughout the day. Yes, I still tend to blot here and there, but it's nothing out of the usual, and it definitely doesn't make my skin more oily than normal.

The coverage is sheer; perfect for good skin days or lazy days when you can't be bothered with a full face of foundation. A bit of concealer on my blemishes and under my eyes, and the overall coverage is ideal for me.

Despite having SPF 10, I decided to take a chance and wear it on a night out Friday night just to see if it was enough SPF to cause a white cast in flash photos. Verdict: No white cast in sight. Phew!

Wearing the Dior Diorskin Nude BB Creme in Fair 002 (with concealer but without powder)

Now for the Achilles heel: the lasting power. It's nothing to write home about. Within four hours, I'm able to notice the product breaking down on my t-zone and chin, undeniably my oiliest areas, even with powder. After eight hours, I get the feeling that a considerable amount of the product has actually disappeared into oblivion. But what will keep me coming back to this BB creme despite this shortcoming? The unimaginably radiant, dewy finish. The light, invisible feel on my skin. The perfect color match. The overall effect on my skin. Need I say more?

I purchased the Dior Diorskin Nude BB Creme from Sephora for $44.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Diffused Light.

Being one of the most hyped up powder releases in a long time, of course my ears perked up and I picked up an Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder of my own. Can I just say that trying to blindly choose a shade without any online reviews or swatches to reference was the MOST. DIFFICULT. THING. EVER...especially since all 6 shades are meant to work on all skin tones, and the shade choice is really just based on your lighting preference. 

After reading Hourglass' descriptions of the type of finish created by each shade over and over again, I finally settled on Diffused Light, described by Hourglass as "a soft, warm pale yellow that reduces redness and gives skin clarity - like a soft ray of morning light." I suffer from some red blotches (technical term right there) on my face, and although I certainly did not except a finishing powder to completely correct that, I figured it wouldn't hurt either.

Yes, it was sprinkling outside. Oh, the things I do for blogging! :D

It was a bit overcast outside so the the powder looks more white than it is. In real life, it's quite a bit more yellow, as its shade description suggests. I can detect tiny, sparsely distributed micro-shimmer when looking at it, but none of it actually translates onto the skin. Unlike some of the other shades that may be better suited as soft highlight shades, Diffused Light is more of an all-over face powder.

Since I did not purchase the Ambient Powder Brush that is meant to be used with these powders, I simply apply it using my usual Ecotools powder brush, and it works just fine. 

When applied over a dewy base, Diffused Light takes away the bulk of the shine on the skin, while somehow managing to leave just enough so that the skin still looks glowing, natural and never powdered. It gives skin a balanced (neither shiny nor matte), natural-looking finish that just looks like your skin on a good skin day.

The effect of the yellow undertone is subtle. Like I mentioned earlier, I never expected it to completely counteract redness on its own, and it certainly does not, especially since it is only a sheer finishing powder after all. However, used over a base (foundation, tinted moisturizer, BB cream, etc.) and/or concealer that are already working against the redness, I find that Diffused Light just offers up that extra boost of color correcting that helps to make my complexion appear that much more flawless.

Wearing Dior Diorskin Nude BB Cream and Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Diffused Light on my T-zone only

Overall, based on what I've heard and read about the other shades in the Ambient Lighting Powder line, I believe Diffused Light may be one of the more subtle lighting powders in the line-up. As it does not have any true shimmer, I also find that it is perfect for use all over the face and ideal for everyday.

I purchased mine online from Sephora for $45, but they should be released in-stores on the 14th.


NARS And God Created the Woman.

It's no secret I'm an eye palette lover. The convenience factor is undeniable, and coupled with solid neutrals that complement a multitude of skin tones, the utility is endless.

NARS And God Created the Woman palette is a Sephora-exclusive palette, and after seeing it on Alison's blog, I knew I had to have it.
NARS And God Created the Woman Eye Palette

The palette includes 6 shades: Alhambra, Bellisima, Kalahari, Galapagos, Coconut Grove and Night Clubbing. Each shade comes in at 0.03oz, which is a bit less than the 0.04-0.05oz that normally comes in NARS' eye palettes, like the Pleasures of Paris palette, which I also own. But, unlike those other palettes, this one also comes with a mini tube of their eyeshadow base and an eyeshadow brush. 
Top, L to R: Alhambra, Bellisima, Kalahari
Bottom, L to R: Galapagos, Coconut Grove, Night Clubbing

L to R: Alhambra, Bellisima, Kalahari, Galapagos, Coconut Grove, Night Clubbing

Alhambra and Kalahari are shimmery, Bellisima and Coconut Grove are matte, and Galapagos and Night Clubbing have micro-glitter that barely translates when applied to the eye, so no fall-out either. Like the other NARS palette I own, I sometimes find that their matte shades swatch a bit chalky but do not apply with the same difficulty. Over primer, NARS shadows last hours and hours on me without fading or creasing.

I think the combination of neutral shades here is a winner. What the palette is missing that holds it back from being a completely functional palette on its own, in my opinion, is that it lacks a highlight shade. 

Here, I've used Kalahari all over the lid, Bellisima in the crease, and Galapagos in the outer third of the eye to darken it up.

Overall, I'm loving this palette at the moment. Is it a must-have? Probably not, but if you're a neutral lover, especially one that needs a compact, travel-friendly palette, this is definitely worth looking into.

I purchased the NARS And God Created the Woman Eye Palette from Sephora for $59.


Pai Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser.

Mark my words: 2013 will definitely be the year of skincare for me. As you may recall, my third New Year's beauty resolution was to focus more on skincare, and I'm off to a great, albeit costly, start. The state of my skin now is worlds apart compared to how it was when I started on this skincare journey just one month ago. It is much more balanced, clear, soft, plump, supple and hydrated with my new routine, which really makes the switch-up worth it. As a result of starting so many new products around the same time, I can't say with confidence how each product individually has affected my acne or my redness or my dry patches, but rather, I like to believe it is the combination of great products working together that is really helping me on the road to finally achieving gorgeous skin.

At the start of the year, my skincare routine was more or less completely flipped upside down as it experienced the biggest overhaul ever. Although I still use my Shu Uemura Fresh Oil Cleanser to remove my makeup and my Murad Clarifying Cleanser occasionally in the shower, everything else is my current routine is completely new to me. I'll slowly be popping up reviews of each product when I feel ready, as skincare products take much more time to test out, but first up is my new favorite cleanser of all-time, Pai Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser.

I kind of remember hearing something about this cleanser a long, long time ago in one of Sandra's videos, but what finally pushed me over the edge to get it was Sunny's post. Sunny has an amazing blog, and I truly trust all of her reviews, so if she says it's good, it must really be good!

One month ago, I ordered from Pai's website, and I was pleasantly surprised (shocked, actually!) when my cleanser was dispatched in less than a day and arrived 2 days later FROM. THE. UK. And on top  of that, shipping is extremely affordable (considering it is international shipping) at only $5.95 for orders under $60 and free for orders that exceed that limit. I originally ordered the travel size bottle because I wasn't sure I'd like it, but after only using for about 5 days, I hurriedly ordered and committed to the largest bottle they offer as I loved it that much and wanted to save my travel size for travelling :)

The Pai Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser is a cream cleanser that has the consistency of a lotion. The bottle is equipped with a pump, and although Pai recommends using 2-3 pumps per wash, I find that 1 pump is quite generous and offers more than enough product. It has a light and fresh scent that smells a bit like lemongrass to me.

After splashing a bit of water on my face and pumping out 1 pump into my hands, I massage the cream all over my face, eyes, and neck. Then, I dampen a washcloth or muslin cloth with warm water, wring it out, then use it to gently remove the cleanser from my face, moving in circular motions. Lastly, I give my face a quick splash of water to rinse off any excess product, although it never actually feels like there is any left on my face. Unlike some cleansers, this one does not sting or irritate my eyes whatsoever. It does not leave behind any residue after I wipe the product off, and it just leaves my skin feeling clean, baby soft, and incredibly hydrated.

This cleanser claims to also function as an eye makeup remover, although I haven't tested it out for that purpose, simply because I wear waterproof mascara and based on the consistency of the cleanser, I highly doubt it would be able to remove it. I prefer to take all of my makeup off using a cleansing oil, then follow up with either my Pai cleanser or the Emma Hardie Cleansing Balm as a second cleanse, and guess what? There is always residual foundation that comes off on my washcloth during the second cleanse. Tsk tsk! Moral of the story: Always cleanse twice when wearing makeup.

Although Pai's cleanser is geared towards dry, delicate, sensitive, and combination skin types, I honestly think it is a cleanser that would work magnificently for all skin types because let's not forget, oily skin needs hydration too, and this cleanser offers the kind of hydration you can feel via the plumpness of your skin rather than a physical product sitting on top of it. I've never experienced any irritation or redness from using this product, although admittedly, I don't tend to have very reactive skin either.

It is also worth mentioning that the muslin cloth that comes with the cleanser is quite good, despite feeling a bit like sandpaper before it gets its first wash (I was almost afraid to use it for the first time!). It completely softens up after you wash it, and has the perfect consistency to be able to gently remove the cleanser while still offering enough texture to lightly exfoliate as well.

Overall, I'd highly recommend the Pai Camellia & Rose Gently Hydrating Cleanser to everyone. Yes, I said everyone. It is an incredibly nourishing and non-offensive cleanser that I feel would work on all skin types. It has quickly become my all-time favorite everyday cleanser, beating out my beloved Shu Uemura Fresh Cleansing Oil that I was obsessed with for years, and I even think that I love it more than the much talked about Emma Hardie Cleansing Balm that I'll review in due time. 

For $25, you can try out the cleanser by purchasing the 1.7 fl oz travel size bottle like I originally did, and who knows? You might find yourself frantically shelling out 70 big ones for the large, 6.8 fl oz bottle too :)

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