Saturday, March 22, 2014

Kiko now Stateside! :O

Last week, I was shopping online for a necklace for my wedding. My comprehensive search of the internet included a search of all the jewelry stores at my two local shopping malls, one of which is Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, NJ. Upon landing on the site's splash page, I saw they were promoting a new wing of the mall (I guess someone decided the mall was not big or crowded enough already... /dripping sarcasm) which included a Kiko store!! WUT WUT?? After my trip last April to London/Paris/Berlin was canceled, I had dejectly put my Kiko wishlist on the backburner. Apparently, the mall announced this wing and the list of stores back in December, and I guess no one in the beauty community noticed.

Anyway, they opened this past Thursday, and I forced DF to take me to the mall today. I had been looking forward to today very much, as the last two weeks of work have been incredibly hellish. Here's a picture of the facade I took before going in (and before DF went to Starbucks and then parked his butt outside the store waiting for me).

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get any photos of the inside, as their store policy does not permit pictures inside. The store is very large (much larger than the Inglot and MUFE Boutique stores also at this glorious mall) and well organized. The permanent line flanks the left side of the store, the nail polishes on the right, and the stands on the floor display repeats of the permanent line as well as limited edition collections. The SAs were very nice, helpful, but not pushy. They all had great makeup, of course! I was very tempted to get the blue mascara that one was sporting, but I had to restrain myself since I would never, ever, get any wear out of it.

My very modest haul:

The infamous eyeshadow sticks which have been compared to the By Terry Ombre Star eyeshadow sticks ($43 USD... uhhhhh... ) and are $12 USD each, but were on offer for $7.90. I'm not sure what Kiko's sales strategy is (i.e., will these effectively always be on promotion?), but this pricing is consistent with the UK pricing (retail 6.90 GBP, currently on sale for 4.90 GBP. At today's exchange rate, this is equivalent to $11.38 and $8.08, respectively).

I picked up the following four shades:

The entire permanent line of eyeshadow sticks were there (black tubes), but I didn't see any of the white or silver packaging ones indicating LE. Since I suck at swatches, here are the some blogs with great swatches of the eyeshadow sticks: Drivel About Frivol, Cassandra Makeup Artist, Susielfa.

My crappy swatches, taken with bounce flash. One swipe each, guys. Now, I'm pretty sure these are going to crease on me (even with primer), but I couldn't resist getting these ones.

Taupe comparison... too many taupes, what am I doing with my life

I picked up 36 because it reminded me of Shiseido Beach Grass trio. Check out this love sandwich:

The nail polishes were $6 for the regular line, and $7 for their quick-dry line. I picked up the minty green shade, as I'm always looking for a dupe of American Apparel Office. Here are the bottles side by side, along with the last "dupe" I tried, Essie Fashion Playground.

My cuticles are in bad shape, so just swatch sticks comparison: 3 coats of the Essie and AA, 2 coats of the Kiko. The Kiko is pretty close to AA, but lighter and slightly less blue.

I chatted with the Assistant Manager while I was checking out, and I inquired about whether they will be taking phone orders: as of now, they don't, but they plan to launch their US site for online shopping in the near future. They are also planning on opening more locations in the US in the coming months (she mentioned another mall here in NJ and a NYC location). Apparently this is on the DL, but I figure if she told me, it must not be that top secret :P

Anyway, my trip to the mall was pretty successful. Picked up some seamless panties and a clutch for my wedding. We also went into every jewelry store to look for a necklace and earrings for the wedding, and I gotta say, jewelry SAs are 100x more invasive than beauty SAs. *autoplay* "No, I'm just looking." I did try on a very nice estate Y-necklace for $890 (all plat), but the chain was very short... DF said it was probably once upon a time for a rich little girl. LOL. I'll need to write-up a post for my wedding accessories, I think! :)

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

My Brush Collection with mini-reviews

Makeupalley MUB had a bit of a brush stash theme this week, and I decided to join into the foray. I thought I would cross post here as well, with some additional verbiage.

Oh, the platter is from Anthropologie, but long gone.

Face brushes

L to R: RT Setting Brush, Sigma F84, RT Expert Face Brush, Hakuhodo K020, Chikuhodo Z-4, Suqqu Cheek, Chikuhodo Z-2, Hakuhodo H603 (retractable)

  • Sigma F84 and RT Expert Face Brush: I use both for liquid foundation, thought I slightly prefer the Sigma because the bristles are a bit softer and more flexible. I'm happy to own both, though, and since they are relatively inexpensive, I don't feel bad when I clean them aggresively!
  • RT Setting Brush: This brush is a great size and density for setting undereye concealer with powder. However, I'm in the market for a natural hair version (hopefully squirrel hair). Do you have any recommendations?
  • Hakuhodo K020 was my first brush splurge, and also my first squirrel haired brush. It changed the way I applied blush! I still love it, but after getting the Suqqu Cheek brush, I now use this for loose powder instead.
  • Suqqu Cheek brush: Irritatingly hyped and expensive, I love this little guy. Super soft, not too dense, and nice and small (my preference for a blush brush)! So glad I splurged on this! I purchased it from
  • Chikuhodo Z-4 is great for my blushes where I want to pick up a little more pigment than Suqqu Cheek (but just a tiny bit more, since it's denser, but still ultra soft). I purchased it in Ginza, Tokyo at the Tau Hiroshima Brand Shop.
  • Chikuhodo Z-2 is a cool shaped brush, but I actually don't reach for it much. I should try to wear more highlighter I guess! I purchased it in Tokyo at the Tau Hiroshima Brand Shop.
  • Hakuhodo H603 Slide Face Brush: I purchased this for travel, as it retracts. It's very convenient, but I often find myself missing my other blush brushes when I use this. If you are hesitant to travel with your blush brushes, this is a great one to have. It's very soft (mix of blue squirrel and sohoko goat).
  • Here's a video I made last year when I got it showing the sliding action :)

Eye Brushes

L to R: Hakuhodo J146, J5523, K005, G5520BkSL (I think), G5529BkSL, G515, S123Bk, G537s, Shu Uemura 10N, 5R, Sigma ss266 (E65 now, I think), Yojiya Ebony Eyeshadow Brush Squirrel, Chikuhodo Artist Series 10-1, 8-5, 8-1

  • Hakuhodo J146: Super cute, soft white goat hair brush. I use it for light blending between shades.
  • Hakuhodo J5523: Infamous for being a "dupe" for MAC217, this is a great brush to own. Very soft, and great for blending. Can't go wrong with this one. I do wish I had a slightly smaller and shorter version of it, though (small lid space to blame, again!)
  • Hakuhodo K005: a must have for me, use it to line lower lash line with shadow, and sometimes a soft wing with black/dark brown shadow
  • Hakuhodo G5520BkSL: A standard pencil brush, but very soft! I don't use it much, but it gets the job done!
  • Hakuhodo G5529BkSL: I use this to darken my small outer corner area, and it applies colour very softly (so it's hard to over do it).
  • Hakuhodo G515: My first doe-foot shaped brush, this is SUPER soft and really versatile. I can do a whole eyelook with it. A pleasure to use and I should really give it more love!
  • Hakuhodo S123Bk: This 100% Kolinsky brush is only available in Japan, and is similar to the Shu 10N, but larger. I prefer the shorter handle, and the gold ferrule is gorgeous too. I do wish the head was smaller though. Still, it's incredibly versatile just like the Shu, so I am happy to have it!
  • Hakuhodo G537s: Another 100% Kolinksy brush only available in Japan. It is *so* good for applying and blending concealer, and I also use it to apply dots of foundation to my face before using a Beauty Blender. I purchased both these brushes from the Hakuhodo boutique in Omotesando, Tokyo.
  • Shu Uemura 10N: My first expensive eye brush, but worth every penny (... 20% off, that is). It's incredibly versatile (both laydown and blending). My only gripe is that the handle is too long (I'm near-sighted so I like to get up real close to my mirror to do my eyemakeup, and the handle sometimes gets in the way)
  • Shu Uemura 5R: This picks up and applies pigment brilliantly. I have to say I slightly prefer the Hakuhodo G5529 because the 5R puts down so much colour, that I usually need to blend the edges out, whereas the Hakuhodo applies colour more softly so I don't need to blend the edges (but I do need to layer and concentrate colour if I want it)
  • Sigma ss266/E65: One of the few Sigma brushes I still own from the original set I purchased years ago. I use it for gel eyeliner exclusively, but I rarely wear gel liner anymore!
  • Yojiya Ebony Eyeshadow Brush Squirrel: I purchased this at the Fa-So-La Tax Free Akihabara duty free shop at NRT for 3400 yen (slightly discounted from retail). It has been cited as a close "dupe" for the discontinued Suqqu S eyeshadow brush. It applies colour softly and blends amazingly well too, but is not great if you're looking to really pack on the colour. The handle is gorgeous, though!
  • Chikuhodo Artist 10-1: This line is discontinued (or simply unavailable for direct purchase). This brush really picks up a lot of pigment!
  • Chikuhodo Artist 8-5: This laydown brush also does a good job at applying pigment, but I do find it a tad pokey on my lids.
  • Chikuhodo Artist 8-1: This brush is stiff, but not pokey, and is good for lining with dark shadow. I like these three for travel because they are so petite! I purchased at the Tau Hiroshima Brand Shop in Tokyo as well.

Lip Brushes
Not Pictured!

Not brushes, but related

L to R: MUJI Powder Puff, Koh Gen Do Powder Puff, scrubby pad I use to clean all my brushes, black and pink Beauty Blenders

  • I use the powder puffs to apply loose powder (before brushing off the excess with my Hakuhodo K020). I find both the Muji and KGD perform identically. I purchased the KGD from Barneys in a pack of 2 for $16, while the Muji one costs $5.75 (probably much cheaper in Japan). The KGD one does come with a nice zip pouch for travel, though!

Phew! That took a long time to write up! I hope you enjoyed it! It's hard to believe I went from no brushes in 2010 to this collection four years later! I'm so happy with my brushes, but I do have some editing to do! (*whispers* and also some shopping, ho ho ho)

Monday, March 3, 2014

Bloglovin, if you use it

I had a request to add my blog to Bloglovin. I think this will do it...
Follow my blog with Bloglovin