petek, 22. avgust 2014

Maybelline Fit Me Concealer 15 Fair

There is so much talk about this concealer. Some refer to it just as a great drugstore buy, some find it HG and some even compare it to the much more expensive NARS' Radiant Creamy Concealer. I wasn't particularly impressed by it from the start (mainly due to the shade), but my impressions did improve with further use and though it is not one of my favourites, it's a decent concealer.

Texture: It's quite a light concealer, especially from what I'm used to when it comes to the texture of these doe foot versions. It is definitely much thinner than Collection Lasting Perfection or NARS Radiant Creamy concealer, in fact, I find it closest to Maybelline's The Eraser. This means it's easy to blend and you have more time to work with it. It's one of those concealers that isn't too drying, but at the same time not too liquid/creamy, so it works under the eyes as well as on spots and I like that a lot. 

Colour: Oh, the disappointment. I fear Maybelline has difficulties grasping the meaning of the word Fair. FYI Maybelline: it's a really pale shade with no orange, so the opposite of what you did (yes, I'm being evil now and no, I'm not sorry). 15 Fair is the darkest concealer I currently have in my collection. I think the swatches speak volumes and confirm my claim about it not being particularly light. In general it would fit someone with a NC/W 20-25 skin tone and just FYI, though there is a shade called 10 Light, it is in fact darker (swatches here).

Coverage: It has a medium to full coverage, but it's not like Collection's or NARS' concealer that's for sure. It's nice for covering circles, but needs to be layered to completely cover spots and the accompanying redness.

Staying power: It lasts decently, not all day like NARS or Collection, but it fades ok and doesn't look patchy.

Packaging: A simple tube with a doe foot applicator. It doesn't leak and works fine. Nothing more to add.

Some say that Fit Me is essentially a dupe for NARS' concealer - it's not in any way a dupe. Maybelline's is simply too light and doesn't cover as well. What I find being a very close approximate to NARS is Collection Lasting Perfection concealer of which I already spoke in a review

Price and availability: Mine is from Feel Unique for 7€, but it's widely sold in drugstores (including in Croatia, Austria and the rest neighbouring countries. Yet again we are the only exception in Slovenia. I want to take this opportunity and thank Slovene importers for continuously pissing me off. That's why I take my money elsewhere). It's sold on Salma for Slovene readers if you want to take a risk and guess your shade.

If the shade fit me (see what I did there?) I'd really like this concealer. The texture is nice and the coverage is fine for me to use under the eyes. However, I have to use quite a dark foundation and self tan to be able to use the bloody lightest shade in the range. Lovely. But if you can find a matching shade, it's a nice concealer to have. I am staying a firm fan of The Eraser.

Have a great day!

sreda, 20. avgust 2014

Inell Eau Micellaire (Micellar Water)

Inell, the house brand of E.Leclerc, offers a remarkably similar bottle of micellar water as the much more renowned Bioderma and the beloved Garnier's drugstore version, but it holds an impressive 500 ml of product for a mere 2€. Obviously, I could not pass up the bargain and I immediately began to wonder how it compares to the, lets face it, quite excellent competition. For those who might not be familiar with micellar waters, they are makeup removers that have a super light texture which resembles water. I currently have Garnier's and Green Line's micellar waters to compare, so it's a battle of the drugstore versions today, but I have already compared L'Oreal's versus Bioderma a while back.

The first thing that caught my attention was that just like Garnier's and L'Oreal's micellar waters, Inell's one also contains Poloxamer 184, which is the ingredient responsible for dissolving makeup. However, that also means that if you found either of those two versions irritating, it might be the same case with this one as well (Bioderma's and Green Line's micellar waters don't have this ingredient). I personally had zero problems with it, but I was informed by one of my readers that it is not the best choice for skin with problems (in that case it was atopic dermatitis. Thank you Irina for sharing that).

Inell's has identical light, almost water-like texture as all the rest and leaves a clean, yet not stripped feeling on the skin. Much like all the others it quickly and effectively removes makeup, the base is pretty much gone with one cotton pad, but eyeliner will require more, so a grand total of three pads is usually sufficient for removing an every day amount of makeup. It's is the same with Garnier's, L'Oreal's and Green Lines, only Bioderma is quicker and more effective. Of course, it won't remove waterproof mascara as an oil-based remover is needed for that task.

As opposed to the rest with exception of Green Line, Inell's one has a slightly stronger chemical scent, but it's not offensive.

In all honestly, I notice no significant difference between the three and I use them interchangeably. All, including Innel's, are a brilliant drugstore buy. If you're lucky enough to live in a country with E.Leclerc (France, Andorra, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Slovenia), then I wholeheartedly recommend you to pick Innel's one up based on the price alone (2.29 € for 500 ml).

Have a great day!

torek, 19. avgust 2014

Wishlist #13

1. CATRICE Defining Blush 
015 Pink Charming, 025 Pink feat. Coral and  090 Mandy-rine
It finally happened - Catrice released more shades of their fabulous Defining Blushes *angels singing*. These are at the very top of my favourite formulas, but their range was so limited that only two colours truly appealed to me. But now, there are four new shades available and I'm interested in these three. I'm so excited that they released a peachy-pink shade and a swatch of Mandy-rine on Beauty Palmira, promises it is a winner as well.
Müller, DM 3.79 €.

2. CATRICE Nude Illusion Foundation
I've heard some great things about how wonderful this foundation looks on the skin and it was even compared to the Giorgio Armani Liquid Silk foundation. Since I just used up one of my foundations (quite unexpectedly, actually), I might try this one next. From online swatches I saw that the lightest shade looks neutral, which suits me very well, I just hope it's light enough. If you're interested here are two reviews: by Lovely Girlie Bits  and by Total Makeup Addict.
Müller, DM 7.69 €.
3. TANGLE TEEZER Compact Styler Shaun The Sheep
I've owned the original black Tangle Teezer for six years and I must admit the launch of the new compact stylers a couple of years ago left me cold as I didn't really "get" them, until I saw my cousin pull out one out from her handbag. I honestly think that these are better than the originals. They are smaller, look a billion times better made and have a handy cover, so very travel friendly. Not to mention how adorable the Shaun the Sheep back is.
All Beauty 11.9 €, Salma 13.27 €.

4. Boss Ma Vie Pour Femme by HUGO BOSS
Is it just me or does Boss just own the simple, office appropriate shampoo-type of scents market? I'm already a massive fan of the original Boss Nuit Pour Femme and this one is a recently released version. It reminds me of a shampoo with a slightly tropical scent and to me it smells very soft, modern and feminine. Notes on Fragnantica.
Műller, 49.79 - 69.99 €
5. CATRICE Ultimate Colour 360 MATTraction
No, I'm not quite finished with Catrice, actually I think their latest new products are a very good bunch, even though I'm getting really tired of Catrice and Essence switching everything up all the time and discontinuing everything in their path. I saw a swatch of the new matte lipsticks on Beauty Palmira and the pinky-red MATTraction really caught my eye because it looks just like my type of shade.
Müller, DM 4.19 €

6. CATRICE Illuminating Blush 020 Coral Me Maybe
This blush looks so pretty and though I'm a bit afraid that illumination means it has chunks of shimmer in it, I remain hopeful that I'm wrong as the colour looks so beautiful. I hope the formula is as good as that of Defining blushes. There are three shades of these blushes available.
Müller, DM, 3.99€.

7. URBAN DECAY Naked2 Basics
As overblown as the Naked series is to the point that it bores me every time a new item is released, I must admit that the launch Naked2 Basic palette appeals to me greatly. The original Basic is a true treasure and my most used palette, in fact, it has converted me from a non-eyeshadow girl to someone who wears eye makeup regularly. The new one again looks like it has some brilliant matte taupe shades, which are right up my alley.
8. TRESEMMÉ Keratin Smooth 7 Day Smooth Shampoo
When someone raves about a hair product it just gets stuck in my head and I need to try it. I've heard praises about this shampoo, particularly about how it makes the hair look smoother and less frizzy. I really can't resist that, can I?
Boots, £5.99.

9. CLINIQUE Chubby Stick Cheek Colour Balm
I wasn't such a fan of the chubby sticks for the lips fad, but the blushes I can get along with. Any blush that sounds simple to apply gets my attention and I think the concept is kind of cool, even though I actually already have a similar product that I rarely use. The coral shade Robust Rhubarb in particular caught my attention and I'm pleased to hear they have more of a matte finish.

10. BUMBLE AND BUMBLE Hairdresser's Invisible Oil Heat/Uv Protective Primer
I suspect this is very, very similar to Orofluido Sahara (a spray hair oil with UV) and though I already love that one that doesn't discourage me from wanting to try Bumble & Bumble's version. Honestly, I'd just like to try more of Bumble & Bumble products and this one sounds like it fits my needs and preferences when it comes to hair care.
Look Fantastic, 24.13 €.
11. L'OREAL PROFESSIONAL Mythic Oil Séve Protectrice
I never tried anything from the Mythic Oil range. For some unknown reason I just think that L'Oreal Professional brand is not as good as the rest more expensive hair brands, I'm sure I am wrong. But this intrigued me, even though it's basically just a silicone cream infused with that provides heat protection. I've read a couple of good reviews and obviously, now I want to try it. Actually, what I'm still hoping to find is better version of Phyto 9, so one that has silicones. 
All Beauty, 16.04 €
Have a great day!

nedelja, 17. avgust 2014

Blog Photography on a Budget - Part 3: Editing

I love every part of beauty blog photography and that includes editing. It is this step that can transform the picture from being drab to being fab (that sounded better in my mind). If you have a good camera and you had perfect conditions when taking the photo, then this part will most likely be redundant, however, not everyone can afford a several hundred euros worth DSLR camera and professional lighting, can we? So this is a kind of guide for those who have either cheap or old cameras, or they simply take pictures with their phones (like me), since those cameras usually can't pick up light well. Lets have a scenario where the pictures are grey and lack vibrancy as is mostly the case with cheap cameras. With the right technique, you can fix almost everything. Prepare yourself, this will be a long and picture heavy post.
Part 1: Setting up an Improvised Studio,  Part 2: Taking Pictures (with a Smartphone) .

Editing Software
Yes, Photoshop is the obvious choice here and it is worth having it as well as learning its functions if you're into photography. However, there are several other image editing programmes that are free as well as less complicated, such as Gimp,, Picasa, Photofiltre, etc. You can download them free here. More information about photo editing software here and here.

I'll show you very basic editing using four free programmes and a more elaborate editing in Photoshop. They all have a lot of functions, I do a much more complicated and long way of editing, but I'm trying to keep it simple for you. Most pictures can be fixed only by adding a bit more brightness or adjusting levels/curves and it's done. Any photo editing software can do that. One thing I never do is use auto-fixes. I just find it doesn't give me the desired results, so I do stuff gradually and manually, however, I am in no way discouraging you from using them. 
Lesson number 1: Keep a back-up copy of the picture you're editing.

Lets use these two images:

Gimp is probably the best free image editing software. Of course, it's no Photoshop, but it will suffice for an average user and the levels adjustments are very similar as in Photoshop, however, I dislike its brightening function.
Most of the things can be done with Curves, but because it's a more challenging process to teach, I'll first show you a different, quicker way by using Levels. You can find the levels tools in Colours > Levels. It's just a matter of moving the sliders, the ones in the input histogram do most of the job. Moving the right slider to the left will lighten the light tones, the middle slider darkens or lightens middle tones, and the left slider intensifies dark tones. It's the same thing in and Photoshop.

Here is one fixed by using Curves. The principle is the same as at levels, on the top of the curve you have light tones, so creating a point there and moving the line to the left will lighten them. Moving towards the bottom the darker the tones are that you're fixing and the same thing applies - moving to the left makes them lighter and moving to the right darker. Anyone who wants to master curves, I suggest watching this video.  
Some other functions you may find useful: For fixing colour, it has a colour balancing tool, but it's very odd and I find the Hue-saturation tool a bit more useful. For sharpening it has Unsharp mask tool in Filters>Enhance> Unsharp mask. looks a bit less intimidating than Gimp and has the same basic features, actually I like it more than Gimp so far. The Levels tool does look different, but it's the same thing, so again the input histogram does the work (top slider is for light tones and bottom for dark). As at Gimp, I dislike it's brightening function and it only has a basic sharpen function, but it does have the option of reducing noise and blurring. For fixing colour it only has a hue/saturation function.

Very basic and simple editing in Picasa that will appeal to non-tech savvy users - I suggest fixing Highlights and if it's too saturated, add a bit of brightness by Fill light, however, if it's not saturated enough move the Shadows slider. Colour temperature should fix a blue or yellow hue in the picture. Picasa is nice because it saves the original photo, but you need to have hidden folders enabled to find it. It also has a nifty retouching tool.

Photofiltre is very basic and I'm only including it here because I had official training in it, but it's not the easiest to get along with when it comes to editing pictures and it's better for quick cropping, resizing, adding frames, that kind of thing. Again we deal with Levels (Adjust > Levels…), but here it's a lot more complicated and harder to use. First fix the highlight to lighten the image and then fix shadows to add intensity. What I dislike at this programme is how hard it is to do changes gradually.

So, that's was easy, basic editing using free software and now the non-budget option - how I do it in Photoshop.

Good old PS gives best results, however, it's not free. Honestly, I could talk about editing in Photoshop for hours and I'm only familiar with the basics (I learned all I know myself by watching tutorials), but I'll keep it simple. Most of the functions are the same as in programmes I discussed before (and vice versa), they are just more effective.
Lesson number 1: Always work in layers
Lesson number 2: In Photoshop on adjustment layers using a black brush removes that part of the adjustment layer, while using white paints it back.

Again most of the things can be done with Curves (same video as above), but lets do it the other way, so how I prefer it. Not all of these steps are necessary.

Step 1 Adjust brightness and contrast

(Should be on the right of the workspace under Adjustments, alternately it's under Images > Adjustments > Brightness and contrast. This applies also to Levels, Vibrancy and Saturation, Colour Balance,...)
I really like this function in Photoshop as it lightens the picture, but still leaves midtones and dark tones at an appropriate level. Supposing I lightened the picture to remove the grey cast as much as possible, but now the products are too light,  in that case in Photoshop you can simply use a black brush, but decrease the opacity and paint over the product. This will remove the adjustment layer from that part of the image, however, doing that might result in the product looking too grey, so in that case rather use Levels or Curves.

Step 2 Levels

It's the same thing as I described at other programmes, so you just move sliders in the Levels histogram. Midtones (middle slider) bring the colour back (to the products). It is not uncommon that I apply several Levels layers to brighten certain areas more than the rest and with a black brush paint over the areas that don't need to be as bright.
You might wonder why I do the combination of brightness and levels, since I could only do levels. I find that sometimes when using just levels because the background might be unevenly grey, certain grey patches might stay, but when brightening the area before that doesn't happen. Of course, that is how I do it, I'm sure some people do it differently.

Remember if you work with layers in Photoshop, you can remove parts of adjusting layers by using a black brush.

Step 3 Vibrance and Saturation

If the colours aren't vivid enough, I use Vibrance and saturation. Saturation intensifies colours, but it can make it too bright and almost neon, so what I prefer to use is Vibrance because it enhances the natural tones without looking too harsh. More details about the difference between the two here. This is also useful when you feel the colours are too vivid, you just move the slider to the left.

Step 4 Colour Balance

Whenever I feel that the colours aren't accurate enough, I use colour balance. I must admit that this is the most difficult adjustment layer to master and it takes a lot of time to figure it out if you're not familiar with colour theory. But a very quick guide: if it's too green then add magenta and blue, if it's red or yellow use blue. This tools comes particularly handy when trying to get swatches as accurate as possible. This adjustment layer is also useful when the background has a certain hue. If your white background has a certain hue and you want it either white or grey, I use a black/white adjustment layer over the image and then erase the parts with products.

Step 5 Retouching or painting over imperfections
I mean imperfections of the product picture not when doing fixing a face shot. If there is any spot or dust on the picture/products, use retouching tool (spot healing brush tool and others). If the background has some weird spots of greyness, I just paint over it. Crude, I know, but effective.

Step 6 Sharpen and reduce noise
Sharpen the image or reduce noise if you need to. I use the function Unsharp mask (Filter>Sharpen>Unsharp mask) for a more precise, easy to adjust sharpening, however, I've never been much of a fan of sharpening. If your image is too grainy a.k.a. too noisy use the function Reduce noise (Filter>Noise>Reduce Noise).

Step 8 The famous out-of-focus a.k.a blurry background
Bloggers with more expensive cameras that have more settings (aperture, shutter speed) and can be fitted with different lenses, will usually have almost professional pictures with the blurry background. My camera phone obviously can't do that, unless I take an extreme close-up. You can blur the background using Gaussian blur or Field blur (Filter>Blur). There are two ways, one is selecting the background (shortcut W for Quick selection tool) and applying blur, but the edges give it away. I do the duplication of the image, apply Gaussian blur or Field blur and then erase the part with the product in focus so the clear image under it is visible. However, only a limited amount of blurring can be applied here as it can look very fake because it's a uniform blurring and the sense of depth that the camera creates is lost. 
Step 8 Crop and resize

Crop the image so it fits your needs (if needed of course), Crop function (C) also allows fixing alignment of the image. Lastly set the image size (alt+ctl+I or Image > Image size). I post large sizes, usually to fit the screen and I firmly believe that a blog looks so much better with large images (all the images in this post are big and in case you can't see everything, click on them).

So, this is it. I could go into more details, but I kept it simple for you. Honestly, most pictures only require some quick work with Levels/Curves (Picasa is quick and easy), but of course there are some that need a lot of time to fix. One last thing I wanted to show you, just so you can see what Photoshop is capable of - I create such images from scratch, it is ridiculously fun:

That concludes my post series about budget beauty blog photography. If you have any tips drop them below. I hope I didn't forget anything important, maybe just one more tip - when you use the Quick selection tool, always use Refine edge and fix it. I hope this was helpful and I'm sorry if it was too complicated or all over the place, I know those who are better at editing pictures might have this thought in their mind, but that's just how I do it. Have a great day!

Additional reading about blog photography in general:

sobota, 16. avgust 2014

Beauty Blog Photography on a Budget - Part 2: Taking Pictures (with a Smartphone)

I've talked about inexpensive studio set-up for beauty blog photography in the first part, so today it's time for some quick tips on taking photos with a smartphone. I only own an ancient Nikon Coolpix S200 with 7.1 pixels, which takes rubbish pictures and currently my Samsung Galaxy S2 is the best thing I have. Maybe if I have a windfall I'll buy a new camera, but for now what I have suffices. As you might imagine there are no fancy settings there, however, there are a few things to tweak when taking product pictures. Of course proper cameras all have the same functions, as these are just basic settings.

Adjusting white balance 
To avoid the picture looking too dark and grey, ramp it up.

Never use flash. 
I would advise against using flash because it makes the images too harsh, washes them out and the colour accuracy is lost (no flash when taking swatches, please). 

Guidelines divide the picture into nine rectangles (the rule of thirds) and come really handy when setting up a picture. 

Set focus mode to macro if you're doing close-ups. Having a product that is in focus closer to the camera than the rest, will make that blurry background.

I never do this, as I find automatic work well on my smartphone, but if you find your pictures are to noisy (grainy), setting ISO lower will fix that. Higher ISO settings are generally used in darker situations. On proper cameras this setting is far more important.

Now for the Captain Obvious advice - keep the camera steady (as I said in the previous post, I use a box instead of a tripod) and focus on the item you are taking a picture of. On my camera I have to do this manually, but some have that automatic like Samsung Galaxy S4 that I was using for these pictures (which I borrowed. It only reminded me how much I'd like a new phone).

Taking pictures of white products 
With a white background it will result in the picture looking very dark. Since obviously, you can't have it all white, what I suggest is ditching the white background and go some place else or use some sort of an object that gives texture to the background be it that adorable weaved basket, your makeup, a magazine/book or decorated paper, the possibilities are endless. 

Take a lot of pictures with different settings and from different angles
You don't want to transfer the whole thing to a computer only to see it's out of focus or just bad. Also take pictures at the highest resolution because they are easier to edit later. 

Compose your shot thoughtfully
Consider what are you going to use as a background and how cluttered do you want it to be. Try filling the entire picture with a product. With a lower quality camera, the closer the product, the better the quality of the picture. If it's too far you lose details and it results in the picture looking almost blurry, so when you have to sharpen it, it creates noise (which you can reduce with software, but it won't be the best picture).

Create you own style
Don't copy, but be inspired by others. Some like taking pictures with flowers or magazines in the background, I use makeup or different boxes, baskets, etc., there are so many ways you can set your background. Some of my favourite picture inspiration: Ajda's, ArtDonatella, Bella Chique, I Covet Thee, Makeup and More, Makeup Ninja, Makeup Savvy, Minnebelle, Blog of Vain Pleasures.

In the next post I discuss photo editing.

Again if you have any helpful tips write them in the comments. I also wouldn't object if you recommended me an affordable, but decent camera. I hope this was helpful and have a great day.

petek, 15. avgust 2014

Beauty Blog Photography on a Budget - Part 1: Setting up an Improvised Studio

I don't own a fancy state-of-the-art camera nor can I boast with an elaborate studio with professional lighting or skills for that matter. In fact, for the last two years I've been taking pictures with my mobile phone Samsung Galaxy S2. My pictures aren't even close to professional, but they are decent, so today I'm sharing my knowledge that I acquired during my years of blogging, while trying to keep the whole thing as budget friendly as possible. 
I've been planning on doing this series forever, but since I'm a complete amateur, that fact always pulled me back, but sod it, here it is. It is in three parts: first dealing with location, background and lighting, in the second I share tips about taking pictures (with a smartphone) and I discuss editing in the last part.

Let begin with the background. You can just take pictures wherever you like as long as it has good lighting. Outdoors, indoors, with a cluttered background or not - it really doesn't matter, just make sure it's not too distracting so it might take focus from the product(s). White background is a nice, classic, simple option and it's best for accurately showing the shades of the products, so if you're determined about having a white, clean background, but the place where you take your pictures is anything but white, the solution is damn simple - large sheets of paper. They are cheap as chips and when they get dirty, you simply replace them. Currently I use one A2 sheet for the background, but before I've done renovations and the desk was beech, I used another one for a base (by the way, I suggest a thicker paper, I buy them in Müller). Of course, I don't always use a white background, I prefer to mix it up a little and different textures in the back can really make a picture.

I highly suggest taking pictures in natural light, however, avoid direct sunlight as it's quite a harsh light and strong shadows are cast, not to mention it's too yellow and it'll compromise the accuracy of colours and swatches. Indoors take pictures by the window, but try to avoid hours with strong sunlight. Pictures in this post were taken during a storm meaning there was very little of natural light, but as you can see it can be done even without an expensive camera and lighting.

Where I take pictures the source of natural light (a.k.a. the window) is on the left. So how to avoid it looking darker on the right? There is a very simple, low cost solution that I learned from Makeup Savvy and here is a whole post dedicated to it. So to make an improvised reflector, take a piece of cardboard or an old folder, basically anything that has a hard surface. Now go to the kitchen, grab some aluminium foil and tape it on one side of the chosen surface. You'll place this on the side opposite of the natural light source and it will reflect the light, making that part of the setting as well as the image lighter.

If you find your location is not light enough (like in storm conditions as in my case), use an additional source of light. My improvised "studio" light is a work/office lamp I got from Ikea for 15€ and it's bloody brilliant because I can set it the way I want to (btw for Slovene readers, there is a very similar one in Merkur for 13 €, I checked yesterday). I have another lamp as back-up in case it's still not light enough and it's again a cheap, simple night light that I purchased a million years ago. 

Use a cool daylight light bulb -  I have a Phillips Economy Twister Cool Daylight (15W, E27), which was about 10 € in a local hardware store, but I plan to get a brighter one. So many brands make these, it doesn't even have to be this shape, LED's are nice as well, just make sure it's cool daylight and not warm (warm means yellow toned), somewhere around 5000 - 6500K is great. 

This is optional and I usually don't do it - to make the lighting a bit softer, so it doesn't cast strong shadows (especially in the case of strong lighting), you'll need to make an improvised soft box - I use one layer of tissue taped over the mouth of the lamp. White T-shirt works as well. 

There is no need for an expensive tripod, I use boxes.

And that's the improvised studio done. See how simple it is? 
If you have any tips as well, I'd love the read them in the comments.

Part two dealing with how to take photos for a beauty blog (with a smartphone) will follow soon. Until then have a great day!