Dragon Eyes: Battle of the Palettes

Since the warm tone eyeshadow trend started a few years ago, I’ve been following it closely. I have quite a few palettes in my collection that allow me to create “burn a hole through you” eyes, and I thought it would be interesting to compare them. I debated whether to include Too Faced Semi-Sweet and Viseart Petit Pro, but eventually decided against it, as they lack an important element: reds or reddish tones.

I have four quintessential fiery palettes: Sleek Sunset, Anastasia Modern Renaissance, Zoeva Cocoa Blend, and the newest addition to my collection, Urban Decay Naked Heat. I really like all of these, but if you’re of a mind to get only one, I know which one I would recommend. Read on till the end. I will list the palettes in order they were purchased–or, in fact, received as presents, as three of them were birthday gifts from various years. Thank you sister, husband, and best friend.


Sleek Sunset

L-R: … (all shades are nameless). The #10-12 are also photographed with flash.


It looks like the brand’s intention for the i-Divine series of palettes is to create exhaustive arrays of colors around specific themes. Sleek loves including a bunch of similar shades in their palettes, but with different undertones and/or finishes. Sunset is an ancient product by today’s standards (released around 2013), but it has all your bases covered when it comes to metallic reds, coppers, and rose golds. Sleek metallics are pigmented but thin and light, not like the rich and creamy formulas in newer palettes such as Modern Renaissance and Naked Heat.

The issue with Sunset is that it lacks matte eyeshadows, except for a black one for lining. This makes the palette seem very old-school–the OG Urban Decay Naked wasn’t big on mattes, either. But that’s ok. I suspect that eye looks with a bunch of mattes blended into a perfect ombre have hit their saturation point, and we will see much more messy all-shimmer and all-metallic looks. Same thought about Sunset’s lack of neutral shades. My crystal ball predicts more looks with statement colors, that are not “grounded” with browns, beiges, or mauves.

Sunset in action. Black (#1) as a smudgy eyeliner. Purple (#7) on the lid and in the crease, topped with translucent golden veil (#10) on the lid. Rose gold (#11) in the inner corner. 


Zoeva Cocoa Blend

L-R: Top – Bitter Start, Sweeter End, Warm Notes, Subtle Blend, Beans Are White. Bottom – Pure Ganache, Substitute for Love, Freshly Toasted, Infusion, Delicate Acidity.


What about those who like arid desert matte browns? Then Cocoa Blend is your buddy. I can’t get enough of the orange brown, Substitute for Love, and the reddish brown, Freshly Toasted. Something like Freshly Toasted is what I was missing with Too Faced’s OG and Semi-Sweet chocolate bars, which seem to have inspired Cocoa Blend. The other mattes in this palette, Bitter Start (light beige) and Beans are White (dark brown) are very common shades, but they’re executed very well in terms of saturation and blendability–something that (incredibly) not all brands have learned how to do. As for shiny lid shades, Cocoa Blend has a nice variety of those, with a red, a brown, a purple, and a gold.

The Cocoa Blend shadow texture is something… contentious, especially if one is used to stiffer formulas such as the Naked 3 and the chocolate bars. It’s similar to Lorac Pro and TheBalm eyeshadows: very soft and dusty, but kind of dry.

Cocoa Blend in action. Ombre from Sweeter End to Warm Notes to Freshly Toasted. Beans Are White as chubby liner.


Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance

L-R: Top – Tempera, Golden Ochre, Vermeer, Buon Fresco, Antique Bronze, Love Letter, Cyprus Umber. Bottom – Raw Sienna, Burnt Orange, Primavera, Red Ochre, Venetian Red, Realgar. 


Along with Too Faced Sweet Peach, last year’s Modern Renaissance is the most iconic palette release since the first UD Naked collections. It has totally eclipsed the original “red palette,” Lime Crime’s Venus. My theory is that Anastasia recognized the huge demand for a Venus-like palette by people who didn’t want to buy from a controversial brand like Lime Crime. (And now, Anastasia has released the Subculture palette–the one where the shadows are said to fall apart on first touch–which is its answer to Venus II).

The “heart” of Modern Renaissance are the juicy, super bold red, berry, and orange shades. The palette also boasts beautiful neutrals, such as the light purple Buon Fresco and the rosy brown Antique Bronze. I also like Vermeer and Primavera, the highlighter shades that look molten. The shadows are dusty and blendable like Zoeva’s, but the formula is exceedingly smooth, almost greasy. The new ColourPop pressed powder shadows are similar.

My main gripe with Modern Renaissance is specific to my own tastes and preferences. I like using all shades in my palettes, but I can’t figure out what to do with Golden Ochre and Burnt Orange. All of the looks I’ve tried with those two, I hated. So for me, Modern Renaissance is not the easiest product in terms of coming up with color combinations.

Modern Renaissance in action. Love Letter on the lid and in the crease. Warm Taupe as a blending shade. Antique Bronze on the lower lashline, with Cyprus Umber in the outer corner. 


Urban Decay Naked Heat

L-R: Top – Ounce, Chaser (They are invisible in my swatches, but they make a damn good subtle highlight and blending shade, respectively), Sauced, Low Blow, Lumbre, He Devil. Bottom – Dirty Talk, Scorched, Cayenne, En Fuego, Ashes, Ember.


Naked Heat came out very recently, and I bought it pretty much right away. Some of the colors I’ve used more than others, but I can already say that this palette is one of my favorite makeup toys of the year. I find it very easy to come up with looks. Yes, Naked Heat is really one-note in terms of color selection, more so than the other palettes I’ve reviewed here. But it all depends whether you like reddish browns or not, and I truly love them. I find it useful to have three of varying depths and undertones: He Devil, Cayenne, and En Fuego, plus an rosier brown, Sauced. All the colors in the palette are very well balanced–those are not the kind of reddish shades that would give one an infected/allergic look.

Of the classic trio of Naked palettes, I have Naked 3 (the rosy one), and its texture is much harder. As many reviewers have noted, Naked Heat is closer in formula to Modern Renaissance and ColourPop shadows, than to the older Nakeds. I like the richness of those shadows and how they “melt” into the skin–but hoo boy, holy DUST!! Especially when it comes to the mattes. In general, all of the palettes I’m reviewing except for Sleek Sunset, suffer from this issue.

Naked Heat in action. He Devil all over and all around. Chaser to soften He Devil in the crease. Scorched on top of He Devil on the lid. Ounce in the inner corner. Lumbre in the inner half of the lower lashline. Ember on top of En Fuego on the outer half of the lower lashline.


Okay… so what’s the best one?!

I wouldn’t say the BEST one… but here’s what I would recommend to a novice:


Why? I think that Cocoa Blend simply has the broadest selection in terms of color and textures. There are both metallic and matte shades, and the metallics are sufficiently different from one another to allow for a wide variety of looks.


ColourPop Blotted Lips in Lolly & Bee’s Knees

I swear to God, in the future beauty bloggers are going to look at the mountains upon mountains of ColourPop they amassed, and wonder: WHAT WAS THAT?! With its relatively cheapo and on trend products, ColourPop is designed to inspire “why not?” purchases. I’ve decided that my MO with this brand, as well as other hype machines such as NYX and Too Faced, would be to stick to “tried and true” bestsellers. Usually this goes well, sometimes… not so much.

On a recent trip to mother Russia, I noticed that their lipstick fashion seems to be different from that of the U.S. I saw a lot of women wearing bright colors in formulas that seem kind of thin, in contrast with the paintlike mattes that are popular here. I have no idea which lipsticks sell well in Russia (NYX soft matte lip creams maybe?), but that fashion made me pay attention to sheer mattes. In the U.S., the sheer matte formula has recently been popularized by Glossier’s Generation G collection, duped by ColourPop with a much cheaper line called Blotted Lips. I got two colors: Lolly and Bee’s Knees.


Here are the swatches: Bee’s Knees (left) and Lolly (right). More flattering on the lips than on the arm.


Formula-wise, the blotted lipsticks are quite pleasant. I like that they are forgiving on the lips: smooth and glidey in application and not too drying during wear.

With that said, I wouldn’t recommend the blotted lipsticks to anyone, and here is why. The packaging is really, really shoddy. Just this morning, I discovered that one of the lipsticks, Lolly is sitting shaky in its plastic tube (almost popping out). Moreover, it’s become impossible to twist the stick down completely, so the cap has sawn off a chunk. From now on, I will have to apply Lolly with a brush, which is ridiculous given that the blotted lipsticks are supposed to be casual and easy breezy. Yes, I understand that they cost $5, but considering I only got about 3 uses out of Lolly before it broke, they’re still a bad deal.

Now that I’ve gotten this off my chest, on to the looks.


Lolly creates a low-key goth effect of wine- or blackberry-stained lips. One can easily achieve the same look with hammier darks such as Urban Decay Shame or OCC Black Dahlia, by applying them with a finger, or lightly patting them on, or (yes) blotting them. This is the way I wear dark lipstick 99% of the times, so Lolly would theoretically be the perfect product for me, if not for the packaging issues.

“Low-key goth” is a fitting description for the look above. A little bit dark and severe, but not too much. For the eye look, I put a medium dark metallic shadow, Lorac Graphite (Pro Metal) on the lids and framed it with mattes from the Lorac Pro Matte palette. The soft wing was drawn with a black eyeshadow (Jet Black) instead of a liner.


Bee’s Knees is one of the most popular blotted lip shades, and I can see why: this fuchsia shade is just so… flowery. I want to be really careful with it, to make sure the lipstick doesn’t meet the same sorry fate as Lolly.

The Bee’s Knees look for this post is pretty much the opposite of the Lolly one. The Lolly face is “office goth” whereas the Bee’s Knees face is “office bright”. On the day this photo was taken, I was in the early stages of a cold and feeling really tired, so I cheered myself up with some fruity colors. I wanted the look to be easy and soft: no big brows or tightlining. On my eyes, I used the ColourPop shadows in Making Moves (pressed powder) in the creases and Muse (super shock) on the lids, with a dark brown TheBalm eyeshadow, Matt Reed, as a subtle definer. On my cheeks, I created a natural-looking flush with the CANMAKE lip and cheek gel with 04 Blood Cranberry.

Here is a picture of the same look, but on a different day, and taken in the evening instead of the morning. The main difference is that in the photo above, I don’t have my eyes tightlined, which I think was a correct decision–as mentioned above, it creates a softer and more casual vibe.



Smashbox Out Loud + Thoughts on Liquid Lipsticks

A coworker of mine likes Michelle Phan, and she sent me a link to her new line, Em Cosmetics. There was a really beautiful and unusual burnt orange shade in Phan’s liquid lipstick collection–Faded Clementine. It’s the kind of color I want to call earthy. However, unlike regular beiges, browns, and brick reds, it’s shade that makes one do a double take, mostly because it’s so rare. Once I learned that Smashbox has a similar color, Out Loud, I knew what I would be getting at the spring Sephora sale, as I’d heard good things about Smashbox liquid-to-mattes.


I’m truly in love with this shade. Here is a color comparison with the other orange lipstick in my collection, Urban Decay Sheer Slowburn (right). The latter is more of a fruity color, whereas Out Loud is plain rusty. It reminds me of international orange–the color of the Golden Gate Bridge.


I am also fond of the angular shape of the packaging. As a garden variety devotee of modernism, I like keeping angular stuff around.


(By the way, the background for the product shot is a… ummmmm… Playboy-type magazine from Hong Kong. From the 1980s. Husband and I once went to an old theater in SF Chinatown to watch a Jackie Chan movie, and the owner was giving out those mags to everybody.)

Considering Out Loud’s quality… I might not be the best person to analyze this product in fine detail. I only have two categories for liquid-to-matte lipsticks: bad and not-too-bad. The bad guys are NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams (thin and streaky) and Milani Amore Mattes (crumbly). The not-too-shabby lines are those without such problems: Kat Von D, TheBalm, Wet n Wild, and now, Smashbox. They all feel pretty much the same to me. Comfort-wise, they’re decent, but y’know…. they can’t hold a candle to my favorite sheers. They dry out the lips and get crusty as you reapply throughout the day.

I do understand, however, why the idea of liquid-to-mattes is attractive: in a perfect world, they allow the wearer to throw the spotlight on pure color, without the “distraction” of shine or creamy/waxy texture that one gets with bullet lipsticks. Which is why I still bother with liquid-to-mattes sometimes. To make sure they don’t drive me nuts, I follow these useful tips:

First–and this is a piece of advice by Russian makeup artist Olga Blik–I’ve recently started to apply liquid lipstick with a dedicated lip brush instead of the doefoot applicator. With a brush, you can do a thinner layer, which would help avoid that weathered, dehydrated look. I’ve been a lip brush convert for a long time–I use it with all lipsticks to fuzz out the lipline. (I don’t like sharp outlines on myself, as they accentuate my lower lip’s asymmetry too harshly.) Now, I bust out my brush to do the whole lip. When I reapply my lipstick after lunch at work, I dab the color in the middle and blend out with a finger.

And second, I only wear liquid lipstick on top of a balm. Yes, that messes up with the longevity, which is many people’s main reason for buying liquid-to-mattes. But I personally don’t care that much about lipstick longevity. I blot my lips before a meal and reapply after, and that’s it. I have a busy job, and there’s no way I’m reapplying after each cup of coffee or tea. So I accepted that my lips won’t look perfect all day. After all, I see women with lived-in lipstick all the time. Do I judge them? Hell no. I don’t care. So judging myself for imperfect lipstick wouldn’t make any sense!

Viseart Petit Pro Palette: Review & Looks

As an eyeshadow geek, I was naturally pretty curious about those Viseart pro palettes that recently took the makeup world by storm. The palettes cost an arm and a leg ($80), and each of them includes a large array of useful shades, grouped by theme: neutral mattes, warm mattes, brights, etc. When the brand released a $30 travel palette, Petit Pro, it was an opportunity for many beauty lovers, including me, to dip their toesies into the Viseart world.


Packaging: Well, Petit Pro is certainly travel-friendly. So teeny tiny, goochy goochy goo. And the cardboard is helpful–I’ve heard that cardboard packaging absorbs shock better, so the shadows are less likely to shatter. I’ve already taken Petit Pro on a vacation, and the palette survived the trip unscathed. Generally, I think that eyeshadows you can apply with your fingers (in stick or paint tube packaging) are more convenient for traveling. But if you don’t mind lugging your brushes around, Petit Pro is a reasonable choice.


Color selection: Petit Pro has pretty much everything you need for a classic shimmer-and-matte look. A highlight/blending shade (Soft Bone), a medium brown crease shade (Neutral Brown), two darks (Rich Burgundy and Deep Espresso), a glittery shade (Soft Pink Champagne, which pulls greige on me) and three metallics in trendy sunset colors (Warm Gold, Light Copper, and Muted Fuchsia). When I started working on this review, I was going to complain that Petit Pro lacked a proper liner shade. Both Rich Burgundy and Deep Espresso, while pigmented and buildable, are more medium dark than extra dark–not on the same level as, say, Espresso in Lorac Pro. However, I’ve since learned that Viseart recommends using Deep Espresso on a wet brush to line the eyes, and the shadow actually performs decently this way.


Swatches on top of Lorac Behind the Scenes primer, l-r: Soft Bone, Neutral Brown, Rich Burgundy, Deep Espresso.


The shiny row, with flash, also on top of the Lorac primer. L-r: Soft Pink Champagne, Warm Gold, Light Copper, Muted Fuchsia.

I think that anything reddish or burgundy contrasts beautifully with my green eyes, so Rich Burgundy is my most used color in this palette. I most often wear it fuzzed out in the outer corner and on the lower lashline, with one of the light shades or metallics on the lid. It can also be used as a transition shade for darker burgundy shadows.

Application: Viseart eyeshadows are famed for being easy to blend. They do not kick up a ton of dust, unlike Lorac or Anastasia Beverly Hills offerings. The only shade I found tricky was Soft Pink Champagne, as its glitter particles fly all over the place. One better not do any blending once this eyeshadow is on. However, I like that the glitter is very small and delicate, unlike the crude chunks in some old-school Urban Decay shadows.

Longevity: This is the main beef I have with Petit Pro. By the end of a regular 8-hour workday, these eyeshadows are slightly creased, and the metallics have lost much of their vibrancy and shine, even on top of primer. Granted, I have hooded, oily eyelids, but I don’t see this happening with my Lorac, Zoeva, or Urban Decay eyeshadows.

Looks with Viseart Petit Pro


For this pic, I used flash, which allowed me to showcase the glitter. Lid: Soft Pink Champagne. Outer crease: Neutral Brown. Outer corner: Rich Burgundy. Lower lashline: Neutral Brown and Rich Burgundy.


A dirty dark matte look, which gives off some 90s vibes (or, the 90s reimagined through the 2010s). This has been my favorite type of all-matte look lately. Lid and crease: Neutral Brown blended out with Soft Bone. Liner: Deep Espresso, which I applied wet and then dry. Inner corner: Soft Bone. Lower lashline: Neutral Brown and Deep Espresso.


This is the kind of blended, fuzzy look that Petit Pro lends itself to so well. Lid: Light Copper. Outer corner: Rich Burgundy and probably Soft Bone to blend. Liner: Muted Fuchsia, except for the outer corner, where Rich Burgundy is layered on top of Deep Espresso. Lower lashline: Neutral Brown and Rich Burgundy. Inner corner: Becca Opal highlighter.


Here, I wanted to create a more streamlined shape, so I packed and packed and packed Rich Burgundy into the outer corner. Lid: Warm Gold (the picture was taken at the end of the day, so the color is faded–this is what I was talking about). Outer corner: Rich Burgundy blended with Soft Bone. Lower lashline: Warm Gold and Soft Bone.


Mmm, what a rich plum shade. Lid: Muted Fuchsia. Outer crease: Neutral Brown blended with Soft Bone. Outer corner and lower lashline: Deep Espresso.

6 looks for 6 months

Man, I derive so much joy from doing makeup. I just sit down, fire up the Young Turks, and meditatively pile color upon color onto my face. I’d never had any kind of craftsy hobby before I took up makeup at age 28, so it was an opportunity to develop some visual skills, to learn the basics of shape and texture and color. This year, I’ve been having the most pleasurable time with this hobby so far. I don’t struggle with technique as much anymore, which allows me to just enjoy the ride.

Over the past six months, I’ve worn a lot of looks that I loved–alas, photography is not my strongest suit, so most of them were lost to history. However, I managed to snap a few–here are six of my favorites. Some of those looks are kind of psychedelic, but I did wear them all “out on the town,” even the blue lipstick one. As much as I love putting makeup on my face, I hate doing it “just for myself”–if I don’t go out that day, I don’t wear makeup at all. Two looks are my office faces, and the rest are for date nights or other outings.


Eyeshadow blending is overrated. Well, I like waving my blending brush around as much as the next guy does, but sometimes a neon splotch is enough. The contrast of orange (Urban Decay Slowburn) with a plummy shade (Zoeva Alloy) was inspired by this orange-and-purple look by Karla Garcia. The zombie lipstick is Thistle by Bite Beauty, part of the Amuse Bouche line. I love those suckers–they’re slippery, but pretty moisturizing and comfortable.


Red, red, red. This was a time in my life when I was wondering: why do I even bother wearing colors that are not red? Lucia Pica of Chanel knows how to honor this color, so naturally, she was my inspiration for this look. Here, Lucia combined the red with a little bit of purple, so I did a halo with the epic Anastasia Modern Renaissance palette and the purple shade from Shu Uemura Cool x Chic.


This blue. NYX Liquid Suede in Jet Set is so flowery! I refuse to call this color crazy or corpsey or weird. Such blues (as well as deep blacks and greens) should have the same “classic” clout that red lipsticks do. Aside from the lipstick, there’s also the fact that in 2017, I rediscovered black eyeshadow. I don’t remember which one I wore for this look, but I can say for sure that the best, baddest one in my collection is Urban Decay Blackout.


All of the looks so far have been kind of nsfw (“weekend faces” for me), so here’s one I wore to the office. My best friend says I look so 90s on this pic. This was the only time in recent memory I wore matte grey eyeshadows (the central quad from Kat Von D Shade and Light). I also wore my favorite blush, Too Faced Baby Love, which is seriously awesome. This blush is quite pigmented, but so soft and malleable that it’s impossible to mess it up. The lipstick is Give Me Mocha by Wet n Wild, from their new liquid matte line. It’s much cheaper than Kat Von D and TheBalm liquid lipsticks, but pretty much the same quality-wise.


I’m only starting to explore the wondrous world of Urban Decay Moondust glitters. On their own, they are pretty subtle, but on top of some glitter primer… now we’re talking. Besides the blue Magnetic glitter, I’m wearing the Kiko lipstick in 436 Cold Brown. It brings memories of running around with my best friend, who bought the same lipstick when we visited Kiko together. On her, the color looks like a mysterious, medium dark taupe/mauve/purple, and on me, it pulls more earthy and zombie-like.


Reddish eyeshadows in a fuzzy-edged shape and sheer lipstick. This is the kind of face that I often wear on a day-to-day basis, so it’s fitting that I chose this pic to announce the Spiders and Caterpillars blog project on Instagram. The palette I used for this look is TheBalm Meet Matt(e) Trimony. I haven’t written much about it on this blog, but this palette is one of my favorite products. Coming up with interesting looks with just Meet Matt(e) Trimony has been a challenge, but it truly shines when combined with metallics or shimmers.

Two Kiko Lipsticks: 436 Cold Brown and 205 Wine

When I visited Europe a few weeks ago, one of my makeup-collector goals for the trip was to check out the budget brand Kiko. I was excited about the Water eyeshadows–one of my all-time favorites, the burgundy 203, belongs to that line–and the much buzzed-about shadow sticks.

Beyond those eye products, I wasn’t sure what to look for. For some reason, I expected Kiko to be the European NYX, however it seems like NYX has a wider range of non-traditional lipstick shades. Kiko does carry some attractive vivid brights, but what ultimately caught my interest were two less conspicuous options. They weren’t prominently displayed, but their colors spoke to my sensibilities. Both lipsticks turned out truly comfortable to wear–just like balms. I had brought a few liquid mattes on vacation with me, to not worry about longevity, but I ended up not needing them and just wearing Kiko for the rest of the trip.


Left: Glossy Dream Sheer Lipstick in 205 Wine. Right: Smart Fusion Lipstick in 436 Cold Brown.

Smart Fusion Lipstick in 436 Cold Brown

436 Cold Brown is a taupe, something that Michèle Lamy might want to wear.

From Interview Magazine

Smart Fusion is one of Kiko’s cheaper lines, with every lipstick having a matching pencil. I didn’t buy a pencil, but it’s clear why Smart Fusion might need one. These lipsticks are so creamy they easily slip around. My friend, who also bought a tube of 436 Cold Brown, says it applies patchy on her, and she has to even it out with a finger. I think that formula- and finish-wise, Smart Fusion is very similar to Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche, which has the same slippiness issue.

I actually thought that the Amuse Bouche lipstick in Thistle would be close in color to 436 Cold Brown. But when I swatched them side by side, it was clear that the Kiko is much more brown.


Left: Kiko 436 Soft Brown. Right: Bite Beauty Thistle.

I don’t wear Thistle too often, because it makes me look like a like a glamorous cadaver. But when I do, I often create bombastic looks that turn out to be my all-time favorites: 1, 2. I expect that 436 Cold Brown will play the same role in my collection. (Man, what can be more 2010s than colorful/glittery eye looks with corpsey lipsticks?) Case in point: the look I did yesterday, which I adore.

I wore 436 Cold Brown with an eye look centered on Urban Decay’s trippy Magnetic glitter (from the Moondust palette). Magnetic consists of blue and violet sparkles in a purple base. I’ve heard that Moondust glitters work well with a black pencil base, however I don’t know much about black pencils, and the one I used, NARS Via Veneto, turned out to be unblendable. I swished a matte black eyeshadow, Urban Decay Blackout, on top of the pencil and applied a thin layer of Darling Girl Glitter Glue. Once the glue dried down, I packed Magnetic onto the lids with my finger. The Moondust glitters are usually pretty subtle and fly all over the place, but all the prep allowed Magnetic to truly showcase its beauty, with no fallout. The blush I used for this look is Your Love Is King by Too Faced, a deep pink that creates a natural flush/ slight sunburn effect on my skin.


Glossy Dream Sheer Lipstick in 205 Wine

Since I was a tiny little teenager in 2000 obsessed with Placebo, I’ve had a particular affinity for “my lips but darker and shinier”-type products. I’m not sure if the Placebo man wore such lip colors, but for some reason it was etched into my mind that he did. Over the years, I’ve had a number of lipsticks and glosses that performed this function, and 205 Wine is just another iteration of the concept.

205 Wine is (to me) a great everyday option that combines the qualities of a lipstick, a gloss, and a balm. The only issue I see is that the product is full of humongous glitter chunks, which to me seems outmoded. Those chunks, lying flat on a faint strip of color, are what’s left of the look after a meal. I don’t mind the glitter that much, but I know it might be an issue for some, so beware. Here’s 205 Wine compared to Too Faced La Creme in Bumbleberry–the glitter is obvious.


Left: Kiko 205 Wine. Right: Too Faced Bumbleberry.

For the look below, I applied 205 Wine “in full force” with the bullet. On my eyes, I’m wearing a few shades from the Urban Decay Gwen Stefani palette, a not-too-shabby sale catch for $25. I used Anaheim (light brown) in the outer crease and Stark (light beige) to soften the edges, then 1987 (yellow gold) on the lid and Punk (deep burgundy) in the outer corner. On my cheeks is my favorite blush, Too Faced Baby Love, which I grab when I’m lazy because it goes with everything.


And here I just lightly tapped my lips with 205 Wine, as I wanted the focus of the look to be on the blush–Sleek Flushed, reviewed here. The eye makeup has, coincidentally, the same gold and burgundy color scheme, however instead of the ultra-pigmented Urban Decay eyeshadows, I went for the soft blendiness of Viseart Petit Pro. The idea is the same: brown in the crease, burgundy in the outer corner, gold on the lid.


Sleek Blush in Flushed

Hooray! Sleek Makeup has just joined Ulta. The UK-based brand is renowned for its eyeshadow and highlighter palettes, “Matte Me” lipsticks, and blushes (blushers in British).

Sleek seems to be one of the more popular brands for American makeup lovers to buy in/order from Europe. My sister, who lives in Russia (I’m a Russki Amerikanski) sometimes sends me its palettes as birthday gifts. So when I visited Barcelona a few weeks ago, I was open to the idea of bringing some Sleek back home with me. When I spotted the brand’s display at a store called Julia, which is my name, I thought well damn, that’s a good sign. The eye palette I wanted the most, the moody plummy Goodnight Sweetheart, was sold out, but I’m really happy with the item I walked out with: the blush(er) in Flushed.


Sleek calls this color “deep plum.” Okay I guess–I’m not the biggest color nerd out there. It’s kind of earthy… and yes, very deep. Here’s a swatch for y’all (applied to my arm and blended with a finger):


I also have a Sleek blush palette, Pink Sprint (thank you sister), so I knew what I was working with from the outset. Sleek has a honorable history of catering to dark-skinned customers–it was founded in 1989 as Sleek Cosmetics, a line for women of color–so the blushes are HIGHLY pigmented. I apply Flushed by slightly tapping the pan with a fluffy powder brush by Real Techniques, and then swirling the color onto my cheeks in liberal motions.

Here is a look I did with Flushed. One of the first ones… but not the last, as I predict that Flushed is going to be used heavily in this house. I’m just that into earthy tones for blush. Other color makeup I’m wearing in the picture: Viseart Petit Pro eye palette and a light layer of Kiko Glossy Dream sheer lipstick in 205.