Oops, I did it again. I got tempted by a bunch of brushes in Duane Reade instead of investing in/commit to a tailored set of Japanese ones (as if I don't have enough of those throwaways). My excuse is totally legitimate here: The brushes matches my pen!
Pilot Capless Decimo with EF nib (in case you wonder)
Another reason I hoarded a bunch of them was that, the second day after I spotted the display, I found them in another Duane Reade with 75% off stickers on them. However, I did run in a little trouble as I was checking out: All the brushes ran up full prized at the register (Walgreens does it all the time and it seems Duane Reade is following the tradition).
Luckily, the cashier offered to manually adjust the prices for me. Then there entered another problem: The dude had a hard time figuring out what was 75% off for brushes that are 16/10/12 bucks...Instead of looking for a calculator, he just decided to randomly imputed numbers like 3.49, 4.59 and 5.29 into the register. I was too busy face-palming and decided to say nothing. Afterall, I would just unsave 2.5 bucks or so, while saving 75% off retails. It's still a good thing that I ran into a friendly cashier.
(Spoiler: At the end all the saving didn't matter because the brushes suck. Ahhh, when would I learn?)
Here are the brushes lay flat on the ground. I picked up 15 Eyeliner, 23 Lip Brush, 9 Shadow (two of them, because I need another hole in my head), 11 Crease Brush and 3 Blush Brush. The brushes are a little light weight and (somewhat) cheap-looking with the pearly shimmers (But I ensure you that the Pilot pen is really nice). But in the kingdom of budget brushes, they are not bad.
Here they are against pretty pink bokeh
No 3 Blush brush is a standard sized, tapered brush. The natural hair is full, bouncy and smooth enough (on the side). I haven't been using natural cheek brush for a few years (ever since my Stila collection died off bit by bit). The brush reminds me that I really do prefer natural hair for picking up and distributing the pigments evenly.
Well, I mentioned that the side are soft (enough) and I almost put it into the same level as Sonia Kashuk brushes (which are quite soft). But as soon as I switch to the (laser-cut) tip, this is actually very pokey and uncomfortable. So, this is currently set aside and will be demoted to keyboard duster, once I buy my new laptop.
11 Crease - A dense brush for blending. The hair is softer (slightly more so than the cheek brush) but still stiff enough to be precise. It would be a solid, usable one...If I have a crease to poke this in.
15 Eyeliner - A slightly tapered eyeliner brush that's not too precise but still usable. I usually dip it with eyeshadow crayons.
9 Shadow - It's very stiff (pokey) and only smooth on the side. I imagined it would be great for packing on pigments (foiling?). Other than that, I can't find a use for this (it's too big and loose for patting on concealer and to sleek/stiff for normal pressed powder shadow application).
Top view- To show that they are not as scratchy.
Lastly, one brush that got me pretty excited. The No 23 Lip Brush. It's the type with the cap that doubles up as handle when you attach it on the back.
Normally, US drugstore lip brush (pictured are from Jesse's Girl) are so half-assed that they are usually made with flabby, absorbent (why?) natural hair (or light colored nylon that they are a beast to clean up) that looks like they are not even trying.
The LOOKny lip brush...looks like at least it tried, with the stiff, natural hair (unknown origin, the only thing it says on the label it's that they are made in China). I have been using the same Shiseido portable lip brush for five years and I really needed something that's more precise so let's see if it delivers.
The first turn off is the ferrule and cap. The shiny part is actually paint covering the duller aluminum underneath. After 2-3 uses, the paint was already getting scratched off (and that irks the heck out of me).
The brush is indeed rather stiff and precises and not un-soft (well, it would be OK after it's lubricated with gloss). The natural hair is spaced in the way that the brush drinks up lip product inside instead of grab-and-dispenses the exact amount the product. Even though the tip is tapered (technically great at being precise), the body just leave a blotchy and uneven finish. So, it does work on potted balm and gloss (which will settle by themselves anyway), it's useless for other more pigmented lip colors. I mean, I knew I wouldn't reach for it when it got all ugly with the scratched paint anyway.
Overall: Well, as you can see. I saved 75% on a pile of garbage. I don't regret the purchase because this is what made me realize that I should really just invest in a small collection that works. So, let's roll the drums...
My mini-haul from Shiseido(just alright), Kanebo Tesshyu collection and Chikuhodo. (Preliminary review: Z series makes everything feels like dish scrubber).
Since I really liked the two Gosh Volume Lip Shine that I got for 75% off. I hunted around and finally found the red one in another Duane Reade! Red Stiletto is a sheer cool-leaning red without any shimmer.
The texture is is more jelly than it's crelly (closer to Juicy Orange than Raspberry Galore) and it's just the most basic/no-frill sheer red that I wear a lot. The wand isn't the most absorbent but I don't mind redipping.
A week ago while I was killing time at TJ-Maxx, I spotted a travel lipstick set by Estee Lauder. It was 30 bucks for three full sized lip color (and according to the packaging, it seems that I would at least get some use from the bright pink and coral). In a moment of stroke I bought the trio, despite the fact that I don't usually care for those pricey lipsticks (Revlon/Maybelline are no less pretty in my eyes) and I always consider Estee Lauder a grandma brand...
Let's skip the marketing gimmicks (with "luminous shine that shape the lips etc") and head straight to the lipsticks. The first shade in the trio, Innocent, is a creamy peachy nude with very fine shimmer. The citrus scented lipstick is very soft (in a highly nickable kind of soft, not the gentle moisturizing kind) and slips like butter.
Innocent has semi-sheer greasy formula that's easily buildable. It applies blotchy on drier days but looks OK enough here (as it was very hot and humid so every lipstick looked great). The formula reminds me of YSL rouge volupte (had one, hate it, tossed), especially the way this cream-like paint would just sit on top of the lips. I guess it's just the way it is (I mean, some YSL are slippery and Mac creme sheen are blotchy on me as well).
The lipstick tube is simple (boring) and has a satisfying magnetic closure. I am not sure how secure it is but it doesn't matter. This is never going to make it into my messy bag (coat/jacket season is over so there is no pocket to speak of).
Now to the second shade. As soon as I opened the lipstick, I knew I hit a makeup jackpot. How (the hell)did I get a used lipstick in a sealed package!? Since TJ-Maxx doesn't have return policy like CVS/Sephora, I decided to just deal with it and get the review over with (after getting all grossed out and scraping off the top layer)...What else can I do anyway.
Comparison (to see how pink/orange it leans) with Kiko Red Coral, Revlon Siren Super Lustrous Lipstick and Tutti Frutti Lip Butter (a new tube!)
Surreal Sun is a creamy coral (it looks warm in the tube but pinker on my lips) that's reasonably flattering and unique enough (for it to be kept). The creamy formula is still a little on the slippery paint-like side but it's better than Innocent, leaving less patches and contains itself better. Again, it's not the kind of formula that I love but it's not bad in anyway.
Overall: I don't have strong opinion about the formula or colors. I guess I will keep them till they go bad and use them I feel like like it. I am fairly certain I will not repurchase from the range.
Here is the third shade in the set Pink Dragon. The formula is better than the two I reviewed so I am keeping it for a separate/ less whiny post.