Wednesday, 27 August 2014

My Real Techniques Brushes

Real Techniques brushes were created by Makeup Artists Sam and Nic Chapman (the Pixiwoo sisters). The brushes contain ultra plush and smooth taklon fibres for the bristles. Because they contain a synthetic fibre, they are cruelty free. According to their website, "the soft fibres help create a flawless, high-definition finish in any type of light - from sunlight to harsh indoor lighting". The brushes are colour coded with light aluminium ferrules and the brush heads are hand-cut to ensure the perfect shape.

[Going from left to right...]

Expert Face Brush
I use this brush every single day and I just love it. I use it to blend in my concealer and my foundation (whether conventional liquid foundation, or BB/CC cream). The uniquely shaped brush means that it's easy to work around the eyes and nose, and the dense bristles means that you get a lovely even application. The base of this brush is shaped so that it can actually stand up by itself, which is kinda cool. This brush is also so soft, it feels like you are painting your foundation on with a kitten. No jokes.

The following four brushes form the Core Collection

Buffing Brush
I use this brush after applying my foundation with the Expert Face Brush to get a smooth, airbrushed finish. (I find that it's difficult to get a perfect finish with a brush that's been used to apply the product, so I like using a product-free brush afterwards). I also use this brush after contouring to soften and blend in product.

Contour Brush
This small brush is perfect for applying powder highlighting and contouring.

Flat Foundation Brush
I mentioned this brush in my Disappointing Products post as the only Real Techniques brush I've tried so far that I don't love, so I'm not going to describe it again. Right now, I'm using it to apply my eye primer so that I don't have to stick my fingers into the jar.

Detailer Brush
This tiny brush is perfect for precision concealing. I love using it to add concealer to tidy up my brows after filling them in, and for neatening up the edges of bold lips.

[Going from left to right..]

The following five brushes form the Starter Set.
For all of the eye shadow brushes, I find that I have negligible fall-out, which is always the sign of a good brush!

Deluxe Crease Brush
I actually use these first two brushes the "wrong way around". I use this larger, firmer brush to apply my base shadow all over my eye, to apply shadow to my lid and (after a spot clean) to blend shadows.

Base Shadow Brush
 On my eyes, at least, I find it easier to use the Base Shadow Brush in the crease (maybe because I have hooded lids?). It's a soft, fluffy brush that picks up product very well and blends beautifully.

Brow Brush
When I want bold, statement brows (like I often do!) I use this brush, slightly dampened, to fill in my brows using eye shadow powder. The bristles are dense and quite stiff (but still soft), so you have good control.

Accent Brush
This teeny tiny brush is perfect for fine detail around the eye, such as applying shadow to the lower lash line.

Pixel-Point Liner Brush
I don't use this brush often (mostly because I'm too lazy for liner), but it is a great brush for when you want to apply a wet/damp eye shadow as an liner.
(Note: I believe newer sets will contain an even finer liner brush, offering even more control.)

Unfortunately, you can't buy Real Techniques brushes in South Africa yet (please, Sam and Nic, please bring them here!). You can however buy them online, but this means adding shipping and customs to your budget - luckily the brushes themselves are very well-priced. At the time I purchased my brushes (September 2013), the Real Techniques website was not yet shipping to South Africa, so I purchased my brushes on Amazon here: Expert Face Brush, Core Collection, Starter Set
I believe that Real Techniques does now ship to SA, however, so you can visit their website here. They also have lots of great how-to videos for the brushes, which is perfect if you're a novice that's uncertain or overwhelmed!

Next up on my wishlist is the Blush Brush, Stippling Brush, Shading Brush and Powder Brush!

One final note: you can't expect to get good results from brushes that have got weeks' worth of product gunked up in their bristles, so make sure that you wash your brushes regularly! I spot clean as needed using my Bioderma Micellar Water on a cotton pad, and then deep clean my brushes (esp those used with liquid products) once or twice a month.

Thought for the Day

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Recipe - Sun-Dried Tomato Focaccia

sun dried tomato focaccia

There is no exaggeration or hyperbole when I say that this is the best bread I've ever eaten. I often serve this at dinners and parties and after 5 minutes the platters are empty. I've gotten marriage proposals from people I've served this to. (Seriously. I'm not even kidding.) It's soft, fluffy and rich in flavour. Want to know how I make it?

Bread dough:
420 g white bread flour
30 ml olive oil
5 ml salt
5 ml sugar
1 packet instant yeast
approx. 250 ml warm water

Mix all your ingredients in a large bowl. (If you don't have a scale, you're looking at approximately 3 cups of flour.) If dough is too sticky, add more flour; if it isn't coming together, add more water. You want a flexible, elastic dough. Now for the fun part - once your dough has come together, turn the ball out onto a floured surface and knead it for a few minutes. Really get your frustrations out on it. Again, add a touch more flour or water if it isn't getting nice and elastic. Once you are satisfied with your dough, place it in a large, greased bowl and cover with cling film. Put the bowl in a warm place and allow the dough to double in size (this should only take 5-10 minutes).

Roll the dough out on a greased baking tray until it is an even 1 cm thick layer. Cover the tray in cling film and set it aside to allow it to rise a little bit more. I either use this time to prepare my toppings, but I have also set aside the dough for an hour to two and then hauled it out to prepare the final stage once my guests have arrived.

75 ml olive oil
5 ml rosemary leaves
10 ml Maldon salt
3 cloves garlic, crushed
240 g sun-dried tomato quarters, in vinaigrette

Uncover it, and use your thumbs to press dimples all over the bread. Drizzle the olive oil over the bread, allowing it to pool in the dimples. Evenly scatter the rosemary leaves (fresh is best, but dried will do), garlic and Maldon salt (again, ordinary coarse salt will do but nothing beats Maldon salt). Cut up the sun-dried tomatoes (I like Ina Paarman's) into even pieces and place all over the bread. NB: Reserve the vinaigrette that the tomatoes were in!

Bake the focaccia for ~20 minutes in a 180 °C oven. (Your oven may vary in cooking time, so keep an eye on it the first time you bake this bread.)

When the focaccia comes out of the oven, drizzle the vinaigrette from the tomatoes over it. Cut and serve immediately. Gracefully accept all compliments.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Monday Manicure: Love and Candy

I just love this polish from essence. As the name suggests, it's quite a romantic colour. In direct sunlight, it's a bright red with lots of fine shimmer in it. In dimmer light, it's a sexy berry tone. Perfect for date night!

On Saturday, I was looking for a little something special to wear for the evening, so I hauled out a tub of 3D nail pearls that had been sitting in my collection waiting for a rainy day. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy they were to apply. I tipped out the pearls into the lid until it was about 3/4 full. I then added a coat of polish to my nail and dipped it into the pearls. I very carefully patted them in to form an even layer, and once the polish was dry, I used a fan brush to gently sweep away any pearls that weren't stuck on. This is an awful photo because I still needed to add a second coat of polish (and because I'm a dumbass, I forgot to take a photo later), but you can see what the pearls look like on the nail.

And a bit closer up:

I think these pearls are a great way to add a bit of fun for a special occasion. The only downside is that they don't last very long - by the next morning, I'd lost several pearls at the tip and the colour was starting to wear off the pearls. (As an experiment, I tried adding a layer of top coat. This did not work for me, as it made the colour bleed off the pearls instantly. Not a good look. Maybe this would work with a different top coat, or different nail pearls.) Nevertheless, I'll definitely be using these pearls again in the future as they're a fun, easy way to add something special to your nails.

Friday, 22 August 2014

My favourite plum and purple lipsticks!

If you follow me on Instagram (@whimsyisforever), you may have noticed that this season I've been cheating on my signature red lips for something a bit more interesting! Here are the four lipsticks I've been reaching for the most (bonus: they're all super affordable).

1. Rimmel Lasting Finish by Kate Lipstick in 04
My most recent addition, this lipstick is a dark, vampy purple. The formula is quite firm and dry with a matte finish, so it has good staying power. Downside is that it doesn't fade evenly, so be prepared for touch-ups.

2. Rimmel Lasting Finish Lipstick in 120 Cutting Edge
This was my first adventure into darker lipsticks, I bought this tube more than 2 years ago, but I didn't wear it much before now (I was a bit too shy for bold lips in the beginning!). The colour is a beautiful true plum with a satin finish. The staying power on this lipstick is great, I normally only reapply after lunch.

3. Rimmel Moisture Renew Lipstick in 330 Sloan's Plum
Words cannot describe how lovely this lipstick is to wear, it's just so comfortable! The formula is smooth and moisturising and the colour payoff is excellent. The shade is a very similar to Cutting Edge, but with glossy finish. The unfortunate trade-off for moisturising lipsticks is that the staying power isn't great, but this one fades evenly (no lipliner effect) so reapplication is painless.

4. Revlon ColourBurst Matte Balm in 215 Shameless
The big one, the one that put purple lipsticks on the map this year! Every bold lipstick addict I know has this one in their collection! The colour is a bright, bold purple that's not for the shy! The matte finish means that this lip colour stays put for ages but it doesn't feel uncomfortable or dry on the lips. I would recommend lip liner with this one to make sure that you have nice crisp edges (sneaky tip - I use a purple eyeliner pencil!). (This is also the one I'm wearing in the opening image.)

One important thing to remember when you're going to be wearing dark or bold lipstick - make sure that your lips are nicely exfoliated and moisturised first! 

PS All products shown were purchased by me personally.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

"Be Thankful" Tuesday

If you're a long-time Whimsy Is Forever you might remember that back in the day I used to do a lot of these "Be Thankful" posts, and I think it's time to bring it back! I was about to hit publish on a different post, and then I realised I had already hit publish on 499 posts. So for my 500th post on Whimsy Is Forever, here are some of the things I'm thankful for this week:

All the beautiful friends I have made through blogging! You ladies inspire me each and every day!

Sunny weekends and new leaves on the Stellenbosch oaks that hint of Spring

The awesomeness that is reconnecting with old friends

Getting back into my writing and feeling inspired

Finally starting to feel better after a yucky case of flu!

Finding the perfect new handbag after months of hunting

The fact that I recently passed my driver's license (finally!)

The wonder that is a new, well-fitted bra

Post-exercise endorphins

Rediscovering how awesome short nails are

Reorganising my desk at work and starting the week off with a clean slate

What are you thankful for this week? (Big or small)

Friday, 15 August 2014

Face of the Day

I was going to just post this photo as a FOTD on Instagram, and then I realised I actually want to share with you the products I'm using on a daily basis. Now that I write it all out, it sounds like a lot! However, because I do this routine basically every single day (just swapping products out as I feel like it, eg Garnier BB Cream instead of Catrice, or Maybelline mascara instead of L'Oreal), this face takes me under 10 minutes to do. The only thing that really changes for my everyday face is my lipstick, where I try to wear a different colour every day, but because the rest of my face is quite neutral this is easy to do. (Although this winter, I've mostly been alternating between red, plum and purple on the lips.) I've been trying to subtlely start introducing a bit of highlighting and contouring to my face but I'm still very much a n00b at this, so constructive criticism very much welcome! Apologies that these photos are taken in my lab, it was still too dark at home to take decent photos. (And if anyone from work is reading this, yes, my safety specs went back on my face as soon as these photos were taken!)

L'Oreal Lumi Magique Primer, applied with fingers
Catrice Camouflage Cream* (on blemishes), blended with Real Techniques Expert Face Brush
Catrice Light Reflecting Concealer (under eyes), blended with Real Techniques Expert Face Brush
Catrice BB Cream*, applied with Real Techniques Expert Face Brush, then buffed with Burst FD 05 Brush*
Rimmel Stay Matte Powder, applied with Estee Lauder Powder Brush
Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Soft Matt Bronzer (under cheekbones, along nose, on temples), applied with Real Techniques Contour Brush
Estee Lauder Silky Powder Blush in Pink Kiss and Nude Rose, applied with Estee Lauder Blush Brush
L'Oreal Lumi Magique Primer (along cheekbones, down bridge of nose), applied with fingers then gently dabbed into skin with Real Techniques Buffing Brush

Catrice Eyebrow Stylist in Brow-n Eyed Peas
Catrice Prime & Fine Eye shadow Primer*, applied with Real Techniques Foundation Brush
Stila eye shadows in Bare (base shade), Bliss (lid), Sunset (crease and outer corner), Kitten (inner corner) and Bubbly (centre of lid) (all from the In The Light palette). Bare and Bliss applied with Real Techniques Deluxe Crease Brush. Sunset, Kitten and Bubbly applied with Real Techniques Base Shadow Brush. Blended with Estee Lauder Blending Brush.
Essence Gel Eyeliner Pencil* in Black (tightlining)
L'Oreal Voluminous Butterfly Mascara

Revlon ColourBurst Matt Balm in Shameless
Almay Intense i-Colour Eyeliner in Purple Amethyst (used as lipliner)

Amethyst necklace from Poetry, Squirrel & Acorn Earrings from Offbeat Melody.

And a closed eye photo so you can see the eye shadow that's hiding on my hooded lids.

I've written reviews for a few of these products already but some more reviews are coming up! Stay tuned :)

Are there any of these products that I'm using that you love? (Or hate, for that matter?) Do you also have a go-to routine for your everyday makeup or do you wing it every morning?

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Lush "Rock Star" Soap

Lush "Rock Star" Soap - R43.50 for 100 grams

My much-loved piece of Rock Star is reaching it's end so I thought I needed to share it's awesomeness with you.
I got this piece as part of a Lush Gift Box, which is why it is shaped, but if you buy this soap from Lush you can get it in a slab of your weight of choice. (You can buy it online here). This pretty pink soap has a lovely vanilla scent without being overpowering. It's also gentle and moisturising - I've even used this to clean my face in an emergency (and I hate soap on my face, I usually use oil-cleansing) and my skin didn't feel tight or dry! If you treat your piece of soap right (i.e. don't leave it to form a wet, mushy mess in your soap dish) a little should last you a long time. 
I'll definitely be repurchasing Rock Star the next time I go into Lush, and will be trying some more of their soaps in the future!

Monday, 11 August 2014

Monday Manicure: Berry Sparkles

"Space Queen" over "Be Berry Now" (both Essence Colour & Go)

This week's manicure features two essence polishes that I haven't worn before. Be Berry Now! is a beautiful deep berry pink that works beautifully on the hands in this cooler weather but I can see myself wearing on my toes in summer for a pop of pretty colour! To give it a little something extra, I added two coats of Space Queen, which is a clear polish that contains iridescent glitter.

Here are the polishes in their bottles:

essence be berry now and space queen

Friday, 1 August 2014

Smashbox Photo Finish Hydrating Primer

This review originally appeared on Beauty Bulletin and can be viewed here.

Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer in Hydrating*

Smashbox Cosmetics were developed for makeup artists on set, so they’re the real deal. Smashbox came up with the idea for primers because makeup artists were constantly having to do touch-ups on models throughout a photo-shoot, so they developed primers to help make makeup last longer and to help create that flawless look we all love! Even better, they recognise that everyone has different skin, so they created a range of products targeting different skin types and skin problems.
I have been testing the Photo Finish Foundation Primer in Hydrating. This product claims: “Give complexion a moisture boost while preparing the perfect canvas for foundation application. Apply over clean, moisturised skin.”

What I loved immediately is that it doesn’t have that thick, silicone-y texture that many other primers have. It’s quite thin and rubs into your skin easily, feeling very comfortable. I’m looking forward to using this lightweight primer when summer rolls around! It provides an added touch of moisture to ensure that foundation doesn’t go cakey or flaky on any dry areas of your face, while its oil-free formula also works well with oilier areas – a great win for those with combination skin. I also found that it did an excellent job of minimising the appearance of the large pores on and around my nose. Overall, it created a smooth, moisturised surface for my makeup to be applied over. I tried wearing this with several BB creams, CC creams and foundations – for all the makeup I applied, the use of this primer extended the wear time. It’s important to note that with primers, a little goes a long way! Applying too much can sometimes actually have the opposite effort and make your foundation slide off easier.

On the con side, it is rather more expensive than I would normally spend on a product like this (because I am on a tight budget), and I found that - while it did extend the wear of my makeup - it didn't make my makeup last as long as when I use a thicker, non-hydrating primer (like the original Smashbox Photo Finish primer).

And in case you want to look at my face: this photo was taken towards the end of the day (maybe 8 or 9 hours after doing my makeup?) (no filter, natural light). My foundation has stayed in place (this was the Bourjois 123 Perfect Foundation in Vanilla) and so has my blush and highlighter, while the dry and flaky patches I have on my forehead and chin are still nicely concealed.

Have you tried a primer by Smashbox before? What were your thoughts.