Review: Shien Cosmetics’ Silk Matte Lipsticks

Not so long ago, a parcel arrived, here, in the middle of England, all the way from New York. A small black shipper filled with reams of black paper and three black boxes labelled ‘Shien.’ Inside, three glossy black bullets housed the brand’s debuting Silk Matte lipsticks.

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For founder, Shien Lee, lipstick is about femininity and empowerment; her philosophy pays tribute to its transformative power, as fitting in the office as it is on stage. “When a woman wears my lipstick, I want her to feel like she shines.” It is little wonder, then, that of 8 shades available, 5 are red – the colour that typifies universal beauty, from 50’s glam to 00’s vamps.

Following Shien’s generous offer to choose my favourites, I chose two reds: ‘Cobra Lily,’ a rich burgundy, and ‘Red Lantern,’ a bold tomato-red. For my third choice, I wanted to try a different colour altogether, so of the nude, pink and gold shades remaining, I picked ‘Gold Viper.’ This colour is unlike any other lipstick I own; in low light, it is a deep copper and, in sunlight, a beautifully unusual rose-gold.

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These swatches were applied straight from the bullet… without a base… or lip-liner.

Seriously.

I couldn’t believe it either.

Thanks to Shien’s innovative ‘Silk Matte’ formula, the lipsticks have all the creaminess and shine of a satin with the staying power of a matte. It’s a feat of real-life wizardry.

Though dubbed ‘ultra-matte,’ they apply more like a super-pigmented balm. Made with moisturising white camellia oil, the product glides onto the skin without feeling sticky or greasy and leaves a lovely sheen – somewhere between Vaseline and a conventional lipstick. I’m sure I’m not alone in avoiding glosses and the like due to their irritating gooiness, while matte lipsticks can feel a little dry and flaky; these lipsticks offer the perfect compromise. Once applied, the product seems to ‘set’ in place without losing its ‘silk,’ satin finish so there is little transfer when eating or drinking (or smooching…).

Of course, these lipsticks aren’t straightforwardly matte so they won’t last as long as MAC or Illamasqua matte formulations (or the seemingly impenetrable LA Splash Liquid Lipsticks), but I think a little wear around the inside of the lip is a prize worth paying for their luscious look and feel. It’s also very easy to extend their staying power: just blot and dust with a little translucent powder.

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I am a huge fan of these lipsticks as they add some sophistication to my makeup arsenal. My favourites would be both ‘Red Lantern’ and ‘Cobra Lily’ as I find they have a more buttery texture, stronger colour and more silky finish (pictured above-gah! so beautiful!) than ‘Gold Viper.’ The latter takes a few more coats to get the coverage just right and is more ‘matte’ in both its look and feel. Still, it is a beautiful shade.

What do you think of Shien’s ‘Silk Matte’ lipsticks? See them here: www.shiencosmetics.com

Hope you like!

Molly x

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Team Matte Lip: My Lip Prep Routine

I guess I’m a day too late with this post, but here’s my guide to soft, smooch-able lips.

The recent trend for matte lipsticks demands a lip with no cracks and crusts and, being a particular fan of the matte look, I have had to change up my lip care routine – or, rather, invent it as I didn’t have one before.

Exfoliate: Lush ‘Bubblegum’ Lip Scrub, £5.50

My lips are particularly susceptible to dryness, especially at this time of year, and it doesn’t help that I have a bad habit of chewing at them when nervous/angry/bored/hungry. But now I’ve found10984956_10152607401591128_1105012554_n this little pot of magic.

Lush’s Lip Scrubs use castor sugar and a little sea salt to create an all-natural exfoliant that is perfect for buffing away dead skin. Just scoop a little on to your finger and away you go.The mixture also includes jojoba oil which is brilliant at hydrating the skin without leaving a greasy residue.

Like all of Lush’s products, this scrub leaves you feeling, looking and smelling good – and it makes for a tasty snack 😉

Moisturise: EOS ‘Strawberry Sorbet’ Smooth Sphere Lip Balm, £6.50

EOS’s balms burst onto the US beauty scene a few years ago, but have remained difficult to get hold of here in the UK until now.

Like the lip scrub, these balms contain jojoba oil along with shea butter, both natural super-powered moisturisers. EOS balms are also rich in Vitamin E which helps to protect skin from damaging pollutants, particularly sunlight. If your lips are very chapped, I would recommend the medicated ‘Tangerine’ scented balm which contains extra anti-bacterial ingredients to help repair as well as moisturise your lips.

Unlike Vaseline – which has, before now, been my go-to lip balm – EOS balms have a thin consistency that leaves your lips hydrated but not greasy. My favourite thing about it, apart from it’s smell of course, is that it doesn’t ‘travel.’ For me, Vaseline has a tendency to spread easily, giving the illusion of a sweaty upper lip; EOS balms, on the other hand, stay put with a natural semi-satin finish.

The shape also makes it weirdly easy and fun to use… but maybe that’s just me… ahem.

You could obviously stop here for a fresh, clean look, but I’m a sucker for a matte lippy. Lime Crime’s Velvetines are so unforgiving when it comes to dry lips as their ultra thin, ultra matte formula settles into every line and crease. But with this two-step process, the application has become so much easier – two must-haves for any lipstick junkie!

(This is Lime Crime’s Cashmere, my new favourite <3).

Do you have a lip care routine? What products do you use?

Hope you like!

Molly x

My First Purchases From NARS: Audacious Lipstick and Eyeshadow

In my local Selfridges store, the Illamasqua counter is only metres away from the NARS counter, but it had never troubled me to go to ‘the other side’ until my last visit when I caught sight of the Audacious lipstick stand.

I’d seen numerous blogs raving about them, so I thought I’d pop over and have a cheeky swatch. And that was that. I fell down the rabbit hole into a beautifully luxurious NARS-y wonderland.

Well, almost. The three sample lipsticks that caught my eye were decidedly chewed and when I summoned up the courage to buy one without testing it, I was told there was none left in stock. Frustrated and geared up to buy something, I looked over the eyeshadows, found the one I fancied, and was told that, again, there was no stock.

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Eyeshadow in ‘Strada’ (£18.50) and Audacious Lipstick in ‘Anna’ (£24)

I looked e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e and eventually found them on ASOS’s site, two days later and here they are!
Packaging

As I opened the delivery box, the first thing I noticed was the size and weight of the products. The lipstick is the same shape as my Illamasqua ones, but bigger and heavier (!). It feels like a superior, quality, expensive product. The eyeshadow, too, sits in a smart, compact clam-shell style box with a cute little mirror on the inside. The only issue is its rubberised coating which shows mucky fingerprints like WOAH.

But the lipstick, in particular, is finished with little touches that makes it just that bit better than the other mid-range brands. The lid is magnetised – a handy little extra which means there’s no chance of it falling off in your handbag – and the actual lipstick is engraved with the NARS logo, which might add nothing to the product itself (especially when you’ve used so much that it begins to read ‘ARS’) – but it feels special all the same.

Colour

It was verrrrry difficult to decide what lip colour to go for; the line has 40 shades in total from the lightest nude to the deepest purple – there is a colour for every style and occasion. I’ve got a thing for dark reds/deep plums so was instantly drawn to Charlotte and Ingrid, but with Spring fast approaching, I thought it would be more worthwhile to invest in a light, versatile colour.

2015/01/img_0495.jpg After much deliberation (I even thought about blowing my wages on the whole collection at one point), I chose Anna. I’ve read quite a few descriptions on the internet where Anna is called a ‘smoky rose.’ I can see what they mean… kind of. To me, ‘smoky’ suggests dark, warm colours, like MAC’s Smoked Purple, but Anna is actually a medium, cool-toned, pink-mauve shade. It is the perfect pink; not pastel, not Barbie, but somewhere in between.

Unlike the lipstick, I didn’t choose Strada, Strada chose me ❤ It is an absolutely beautiful eyeshadow unlike anything I’ve seen before. Pastels are set to be big this Spring and many brands have released their own lilac shadows in various hues, think Illamasqua’s Creep. What is unusual, however, is Strada’s gold shift. I’ve never thought to pair lilac with gold, but assumed its cool tones would work better with an equally cool silver highlight, like Sugarpill’s Frostine. The fine gold shimmer that runs through this shadow is not only unique in itself, but also gives you more freedom to experiment with the rest of your makeup, creating new combinations of cool and warm colours.

2015/01/img_0502.jpg Application

The lipsticks in the Audacious range are dubbed as the ‘one-stroke’ wonders, so highly pigmented that there’s no need to swipe your lips more than once. I was sceptical as my lips can sometimes be a little dry meaning that one coat can look quite patchy. But it is actually true! With one coat, my lips were covered! The colour wasn’t as strong as I would have liked, but they really were covered. I tend not to apply more than two coats before I am happy with the intensity of colour and the even coverage. Anna has a lovely buttery texture that allows the colour to transfer easily to the lips, but its semi-matte finish means that – without going wild at the buffet – it can stay put for almost 4 hours before wearing away from the centre of the mouth.

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Strada, on the other hand, isn’t so pigmented. I think I’ve been spoiled by the colour-rich, crazy pigmented shades like those of Illamasqua and Lime Crime, but it certainly takes a lot more effort to bring out it’s gorgeous colour. This could well be because it is a shimmer rather than a matte shadow as shimmers are notorious for not having such a strong colour pay-off. In the picture shown below, I applied around three coats of the shadow with a soft blending brush. As it turns out, this shadow doesn’t respond well to foiling; wetting the mixture brings out the shimmer more so than the colour. To achieve the most true colour, I’d recommend using a white/extremely pale eyeshadow base instead. NYX’s Jumbo Eye Pencil in Milk (my hero) is perfect for this.

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The intense gold colour is Illamasqua’s Furore, see my earlier blog post on pure pigments.

These won’t be my last purchases from NARS. In my opinion, the tangible quality of the products makes that extra £5-£10 well worth it. I’m already trying to choose my next lipstick, Anita or Bette?

What are your favourite NARS products?

Hope you like!

Molly x

My First Purchases from Illamasqua: Lipstick and Skin Base Lift

I’ve had two items on my Christmas wish list for a while now: Illamasqua’s Lipstick in ‘Posture’ and Skin Base Lift in ‘White.’ I know it may not be Christmas jussst yet, but it’s close enough so here they are!

Posture

Though Autumn is the perfect season for vampy, dark lips, I fell in love with Posture’s unusual ‘cool mauve’ colour, and thought it would bring something a little different to my usual go-to looks. Here I’ve compared it to LimeCrime’s D’Lilac to give you a better idea of how unique – and amazing! – this colour is. 10904910_10152536767286128_60703277_n-2

Along with a vivid violet lipstick, ESP, Posture was released last April as part of the brand’s ‘Paranormal’ collection and I’ve read quite a few reviews that criticise it’s ‘corpse’ appearance.

I would agree that Posture is a colour that won’t be to everyone’s taste; it’s cooler tones work well on an equally cool complexion, but may need something extra to suit those with warmer skin. I sometimes use NYX’s slim lip pencil in ‘Dark Purple’ before adding Posture over the top. This helps to add more definition to the lips as well as deepen the colour in a way that would suit all skin types.

This is my first Illamasqua lipstick and it won’t be my last. It’s texture is much similar to MAC’s matte range, if a little dryer, but that is to be expected with any lipstick that doesn’t offer a satin finish. It’s staying power is also on a par with MAC, if not that bit better, my MAC Sin tends to disintegrate and flake away if exposed to too much water (or gin…) where Posture stays put regardless.

Skin Base Lift in ‘White’

I’ve recently been experimenting with contouring; I’ve always been skeptical of the technique as it can mean caking the face with too much product, and it often isn’t a look that easily translates from the catwalk into every day life. Another obstacle I found was that, typically, highlighting demands a foundation or concealer two shades lighter than your normal skin tone. That’s where the Skin Base comes in… Here I’ve compared it to my ordinary concealer – MAC’s Studio Finish in NC15 – and the difference is huge!

Illamasqua’s Skin Base is designed as a ‘brightening concealer,’ but in my opinion it works best at brightening rather than concealing. The nature of 10928166_10152536776821128_485425217_nthe colour means that, when applied to the cheekbones, nose and forehead, the whole face looks fresh and gleaming. However, as you may be able to tell from the picture, it does not offer as full a coverage as my MAC alternative.

Maybe I have been spoiled by MAC’s rich, thick formula, but Illamasqua’s concealer didn’t cover my blemishes or under eye circles as well as I’d hoped. Mix the two superpowers together, though, and the end result is the almightiest of cover-ups!

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To top it all off, Illamasqua shared this photo on their instagram earlier today! Even more reason for me to go out and buy allllll of their things 🙂 don’t forget to check out my page: beautsoup.

What do you think of these products, would you try them out?

Hope you like!

Molly x

A Twist on a Classic: Winged Eyeliner and a Red Lip

This look is a timeless classic: a pared down eye balances a bold lip in a style that’s effortlessly feminine. Still, it’s always fun to play around with shapes and colours.

I began by covering my eyes with MAC’s Pro Longwear Paint Pot in ‘Painterly:’ what I like to think of as a discolouration corrector for the eye in a pale pink beige. With all my eww-y veins and redness hidden, I stuck to a very neutral palette using a matte taupe transition shade, a gold-speckled chocolate colour in my outer v and a frosted mushroom shade on my lid and along my lower lash line.  

To freshen up the look, I added bright white to the inner corner of my eye and brought it up under my eyebrow where it acts as a conventional highlighter. This gives the illusion of a bigger, brighter eye. To add to this effect, I also mirrored my usual winged eyeliner along the outer portion of my lower lash-line.

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For the lips, I stuck to the Monroe-esque red, but added a little deep plum to the centre to create a subtle ombré effect that makes them look full and plump (it also prevents the red-lips-yellow-teeth faux pas).

I’m still on the search for my go-to red lipstick. Being ash-blonde, green eyed and pale skinned, it’s not as simple as choosing what looks like a lovely swatch. So far, my favourite is Shiseido’s Perfect Rouge in RD142 ‘Sublime,’ a richly pigmented cool-toned red.

So how would you put your twist on a classic? Do you have any recommendations for the seemingly elusive ‘perfect red’ lipstick?

Hope you like!

Molly x

Remember to follow me on instagram: beautsoup

In Defence of: Brown Lipstick

Think Jennifer Aniston in the first season of “Friends,” or a young Drew Barrymore. After a short revival last summer, brown lipstick has again disappeared… far far away. It seems to be bundled with other cringeworthy 90’s trends – scrunchies, JNCO jeans and mood rings. But if chokers and jelly sandals can make a proper comeback, there’s surely room for coffee, chocolate and chestnut coloured lips.

I was first interested in trying a brown lipstick after swatching MAC’s ‘Velvet Teddy.’ Thanks to Kylie Jenner, the shade has become extremely popular and I was intrigued to try what’s described as a “deep-toned beige” on my skin. I was really disappointed 😦. It has a warm pink undertone that is very close to my natural lip colour; and if I’m paying £15.50, I want people to notice what I’m wearing!

So before investing in a more expensive brown lipstick, like MAC’s ‘Paramount’ or Bobbi Brown’s ‘Über Beige’ or ‘Über Suede’ (£19.50), I thought I’d test out some cheaper drugstore versions.

The ‘Gateway’ Brown – NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in ‘Stockholm,’ £7.99.

Okay… this isn’t brown. But if you’re not convinced about going all out with a cocoa or latte colour, then why not try a lipstick with a cooler base instead of a pink undertone? This NYX lip cream, which I bought from an eBay stockist, would be a gorgeous nude colour for those with olive skin and, on pale skin, it’s an unusual peachy coral shade. (An added plus: it smells like cake batter!)

As much as I love its matte effect, I think it looks a little flat by itself so here I used Rimmel Lasting Finish 1000 Kisses Lipliner in ‘Spice,’ blending the colour into the centre of my lips to create an ombre effect.

The Everyday Brown – Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in ‘Mink, 671′ in £7.49. 

Aah, I love this colour! It has a rich taupe pigment which means the colour pay off is great and makes a definite statement; it’s caramel shade is unlike anything I’ve tried before.

I do think that brown lipstick is more versatile than people give it credit for. With minimal eye make-up, it can add a kooky edge to your face with almost no effort needed. With bold dark eyes, it perfectly compliments almost any colour eyeshadow, but particularly suits metallic shades – copper, bronze and gold – that are so on trend at the moment.

Lipliner: Rimmel Lasting Finish 1000 Kisses Lipliner in ‘Cocoa Mandoria,’ £2.99.

The Smokey Brown – Rimmel Lasting Finish Lipstick in ‘Coffee Shimmer, 264,’ £4.99, and Rimmel Scandaleyes Shadow Stick in ‘Trespassing Taupe,’ £4.49.

For this look I began with Rimmel’s ‘Coffee Shimmer,’ a super glossy russet coloured lipstick. The colour is nice, if a little nondescript, so I wanted to add a little bit more interest. As strange as it seems, my Scandaleyes shadow stick was a worthy stand-by. It has the same smooth texture and glossy finish that I would want from a lipstick and helped to cool down the warm reddish tones of ‘Coffee Shimmer.’

Lipliner: Rimmel Lasting Finish 1000 Kisses Lipliner in ‘Capuccino,’ £2.99.

I don’t know quite how to describe it, but brown lipstick has a way of bringing your whole face ‘together.’ Where a pink-nude lip is subtle, almost meant to be ignored, and a red lip demands it’s own attention, a brown shade is somewhere between the two, perfectly complimenting and completing your look.

So have I convinced you to try it out?

Hope you like!

Molly x