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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Subscription Box: Pretty & Polished August 2014 Beauty Box

So I finally got my Pretty & Polished August Box this Monday, Aug 25! I think I've given up getting my box in the first half of the month as an international customer.

These boxes are the most worth it out of all the subscription boxes I've tried though, so I'm still happy!

This month I got:

  • 25% off cooupon for their clearance section 
  • A nail file
  • Blue nail art beads
  • 2 full size polishes
    • Cold on the Shoulder (thermal polish, shifts from light teal to light blue)
    • A Painter Passing Through (glitter topper)
  • 2 minis
    • Opal (glitter topper)
    • The saga (white creme polish with round & straight line glitter)

So on to swatches!


Swatched over different base colours to show off the effect:

A Painter Passing Through

Swatched over different base colours to show off the effect:

Cold on the Shoulder & The Saga, with the nail art beads:

I messed up the nail art beads :(
The glitter on The Saga is pretty sparse, this took 4 coats.

The colour change is pretty subtle.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Final Thoughts on the Alchimia Apothecary Controversy

So…I’ve been avoiding commenting on the Alchimia drama because it got big and ugly. But I think I should just post my thoughts to clarify my position.

Rob from Alchimia posted this reply in response to all the accusations:

Screenshot taken Aug 15, 2014, original post here

While I think that they addressed minor annoyances customers may have, I think they didn’t address some of the more important issues as to why people are upset with Alchimia.

1. Knowingly selling Shaman even though they themselves know the oil is going wrong.

Their excuse:

"The screenshot depicting the emails about Shaman... Shaman has already been reworked, birch tar removed. We now use our other campfire note so it's not exactly as smoky as we had initially intended, but it doesn't morph in the bottle like it does with birch tar. This isn't a hot selling item so I didn't feel it necessary to make a huge announcement about it's change. Rest assured, we would never sell something that we know had such a problem. I'd also like to note that in the space of time between the first email about shaman and the second, no further purchases were made for shaman so there wasn't a need to change it immediately."

Why I don’t agree with it:  You re-worked it, great. But why won’t you let me mention in my blog that it’s being re-worked? Why didn’t you unlist it when you know there’s something going wrong? So what if no one bought it, what if somebody did? Are you going to tell them there’s something wrong with it and you’ll offer a refund if they didn’t like it? Did you proactively offer that to clients who already bought Shaman before you discovered the issue?

So many indie brands I know have issued recalls for products that they think is going wrong, or openly admitted there’s something wrong and offer the products on sale. I admire them for it. 
What Alchimia did is just sleazy.

2. Erin generally not being a nice person.

Their excuse: Paraphrasing them, it's all the internet. Tone just doesn't come across right on the internet.

Why I don’t agree with it: One or two problematic replies, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt. I gave her the benefit of the doubt when her email replies to me started getting curt and rude. I thought it was just me. But many? With multiple customers complaining? There’s a pattern there. I don’t see any possible misunderstanding when she claims her make up needs to be removed from a price comparison list because her ingredients were better.

She has no problem coming off as friendly in the beginning, when I was discussing my future purchases. That’s why I offered to help her get the agarwood oil, at the personal discount I got. I didn’t charge her anything for the effort I took to get it for her, for the packaging I used to ship the oil or for the gas I used up going to the warehouse twice (first time to let her know how everything smelled, second time to get her the oil she wanted). I got paid the price I paid for the oil (using my discount) and shipping. That’s it. This is the treatment I got:

This is how she was in the beginning.

Blaming everything on tone is a cheap excuse. And for the record, I contacted /u/BNSquash to ask if Alchimia reached out to her friend since the mods claimed they’ve given his info to Alchimia to reach out to him.

Nope. Alchimia never did reach out to him. I have problems believing the authenticity of an apology if it’s only public.

3. Everyone who disagrees with us is mean.

I cannot put a better counterargument than /u/concreteroads’ reply:

Screenshot taken Aug 15, 2014, original post here

This is Rob’s reply:

Why I disagree with it: I definitely respect Rob for at least not editing the original post, but again, I think blaming everything on people misunderstanding your intentions is a cheap way out. In their apology, they haven't addressed several concerns people have. I'm glad it's not true that they try to silence bad reviews, and I won't hold crazy fans against the owners. Anything negative about Alchimia on IMAM does tend to get downvoted like crazy, and people end up self-censoring. It's bad, but I'm not going to hold the owners responsible for that. What I do hold them responsible for is their attitude, and how they personally treat bad reviews or anything remotely negative. Here's an example of a reply Erin left behind on a critical blog post:

This is probably my final say on this drama unless something else develops. I still have products to review, but I'm not sure when I'll blog about them. It's tiring dealing with all the drama and I rather prioritize reviewing brands with owners who deserve some publicity. 

Review: Violette Market State Fair 2014 (7 scents)

Finally finished sniffing the rest of my stash and writing up the reviews! Here's the previous VM State Fair 2014 review. Here's the link to Violette Market's State Fair 2014.

So one thing to remember is that some bottles do not come with a roller ball. I got used to the roller balls the penny candies had, that I absentmindedly tipped over my Smoking Plum Taffy Pull perfume and lost it. T.T

But this is the amazing thing...

So it poured all over my cardigan and skirt, and since I'm at work, I can't strip my clothes off. As much as working in finance makes me feel like I'm whoring myself out sometimes, I'm not planning to make it literal. I ended up spending about 11h marinated in the perfume oil.

Guess how long the perfume oil lasted on my skin? Over 17h. It could be longer, but I needed my morning shower.

Despite the awesome longevity, I don't recommend this method of perfuming yourself though. As I mentioned before, VM's perfume oils are VERY strong sillage-wise. I spent the entire day nauseated and apologizing to everyone because of how strong the smell got. I met up with my boyfriend and his friend straight after work, and they commented on how I smelled like someone sprayed air freshener into their faces. (I'm sorry! ._.)

If you want to know how long the perfume oil will last on your clothes, I decided to not wash my cardigan until the smell disappears. Well, it's been over 2 weeks since that incident and I kinda need my cardigan back, so I gave up and washed it. That's how long it'll last. Oh, and I tried putting it on for about 2-3 min and the smell is still pretty strong...and ended up all over my arms. No perfume testing for that day.

So on to scent reviews. My overall impression is that VM is a great perfume brand, just not good at creating gourmands. Their gourmands end up smelling like great high end floral/wood blends that would normally be amazing blends, but not when you're expecting a gourmand scent.

I'm switching it up a bit and writing a TL;DR to summarize the scent review, and only writing and overview if needed. Reviews are done blind until I'm done with the review and the TL;DR.

Caramel Sugar Kettle Corn

"Sweet popped corn covered in a thick layer of dark caramel with subtle hints of vanilla, pecan clusters, white sugar cane, and machinery smoke."

First, I got salted buttered popcorn, which was slightly confusing since I was expecting something sweeter. It's very heavy on the butter side, so that's something worth noting if you hate that oily smell. I personally love it since I'm a huge pig. Eventually, I smell a sourness coming out. I know caramel notes turn sour on me sometimes, only this isn't the usual curdled milk sourness -it's a tart, fruity sort of sourness. So a good sort of sourness. After about 10 minutes, this smells like sugared plums with buttered popcorn, which sounds like a weird but delicious snack I really need right now. I like it, but it's definitely not what I was expecting, so I can see some people being disappointed with this.

TL;DR: Sugared plums and buttered popcorn.

Overview: I'm surprised I don't smell any smoke though, since a lot of VM's smoke notes get amped up on me. I'm also not sure what created the sour fruit sort of tartness, was it the sugar cane or vanilla going sour?

Ceylon Cinnamon Sugared Donuts

"Sweet Ceylon cinnamon-sugared donuts with hints of Bourbon vanilla, vanilla cream, and powdered sugar."

Another perfume that has a great initial smell that I wish would stay. It starts of as the most delicious cinnamon sugared donuts smell. It smells so realistic, you'll want to eat yourself. Then, after 10 minutes, it becomes a creamy, cinnamon sandalwood smell. This is one of the best sandalwood smells I've ever encountered, and I swear you can smell even smell the woody dryness of the sandalwood...but it's not exactly what I was expecting even though I'm in love with this scent.
You can smell the spicy wood resin in this, I swear.
Photo by Russell Berg

TL;DR: Cinnamon cream on a freshly cut wood.

Granny Smith Cotton Candy

"Clouds of pale green cotton candy infused with tart Granny Smith apple accord, white sugar cane, floral musk, and vanilla cream."

This is such an awesome green apple scent. It smells like a more fragrant granny smith apple. It actually smells like the skin of the apple. It takes about 5-10 min before the sugary cotton candy smell emerges. And it smells like actual spun sugar with even that slightly burnt smell to it. The cotton candy gets stronger until it's fighting the apple, and by around the 20 minute mark, this smells like an overly sweet green apple soap. There's also a bit of a chemical smell I can't place. Kinda like that sharpness that pierces your nose when you have room spray sprayed too close to you. It eventually dries down to smell like sugary cotton candy.

TL;DR: Attack of green apple chemicals.

Mexico City

Notes of chocolate, cardamom, cinnamon and sweet cakes (since this scent has been discontinued, I relied on this article for the notes)

This one shifts a lot on me. It smells medicinal in the bottle, which worried me at first, but once I put it on, it smells like floral, fruity gummy chocolate. The fruity gummy smell started getting cloying and nauseating, and the chocolate eventually gets drowned out. Suddenly, it becomes a high end musky mango smell. Then it morphs again and well, it smells like a brand new ostrich Birkin, suede, a very subtle sweetness that's almost musky, and the slightest whisper of chocolate in the background, which keeps threatening to disappear. This all happened in 15 minutes. The smell stayed constant like this afterwards.

If I have to pick a picture that describes this perfume, it'll be this:

Another one of my favourite photographers, Petrova Julian
It's powdery, smooth, suede & leather-like, luxurious and yet slightly childish and flouncy to the point where it's just short of being gaudy.

TL;DR: Musky candy, suede boots, and a brand new ostrich Birkin.

Pirate's Cove

"Dark rum, cannon smoke, coconut flower, worn leather, Trade Wind spices, the salty spray of the Caribbean and cotton candy from the fair grounds mingling with pirate laughter and stories of plundering this side of the Midwest."

This starts as a sharply sweet floral, with a blue scent mingled in. Now this is the surprising part...I actually smell sea salt in it. There's that salty smell of the ocean. I may not like this scent, but I'm still impressed since I rarely smell an actual "sea salt" note. Unfortunately, the sea salt doesn't last long and disappears after about 5-10 min. Now there's a spiciness to it that can either smell like peppercorns, fresh chilli or wood resin. It smells like a chest full of perfumed sheets, sprayed by the sea and a lot of peppercorns and chilli. It's old women's perfumed sheets though, since the smell is a bit of a musky, sharply sweet floral. The sandalwood gets stronger as time goes on, fortunately, and after about an hour, it's the most dominant smell after the sweet chilli and musk. If you've smelled Haus of Gloi's Picaroon, this smells like that, but with fresh chilli and a sweet, heavy muskiness that's a bit old woman-ish.

My boyfriend sniffed this and hated the initial smell. He says I smell like "a bunch of scents in a soap shop mixed up and the combination smells bad". Once it gets to the more sandalwood bit, he goes, "Christmas market and sour fruit" (he calls Picaroon "Christmas market" too).

TL;DR:  A wooden treasure chest washed ashore, containing sheets from an old gypsy lady and tons of chilli.

It's called "Parrots of the Caribbean" by Matt West. This is too good to not use...

The person opening that treasure chest would be so bloody disappointed.

Smoking Plum Taffy Pull

"An array of colorful taffy swirling through the taffy pull in the sweet flavor of: Smoky Lapsang Souchong black tea, sweet Mount Wuyi black plum, raw vanilla pods, and a hint of cedar and redwood with hints of Bourbon vanilla, vanilla cream, pink sugar cane, lemon blossom, orange cream, raspberry truffle, blueberry, and caramel."

It's mostly a burning smell that made me cough for the first 5 minutes. There's a sweetness trying to come out, but it's stuck. I can't identify anything under all the sweetness thanks to the burning smell. It's definitely a sour kind of sweetness, but the smoked smell is way too strong. Not a fan. The sweetness gets stronger and stronger until it's an overwhelming combination of sugar and smoke. I get a headache from it, so this isn't for me.

TL;DR:  Don't call the fire department! Nothing's on fire, I swear.

The Gingerbread House

"Dark and rich gingerbread, sweet cinnamon leaf, nutmeg, maple sugar, Madagascar clove, jewel-toned candies, vanilla frosting, chimney smoke, newly fallen snow, and the sinister darkness of the nearby black forest."

(not part of the State Fair 2014 collection)

It smells like smoke for a long time, and whatever smell is under the smoke was drowned out. I finally identified a mint tea smell and something bread-ish only after 20-40 minutes. By about an hour, the smoke calmed down enough for me to smell the scent properly. It smells like an unsweetened cinammon/nutmeg/general fall spices bread that is slightly leaning towards a doughy artificial smell, with a mint tea, in a room that just survived a fire. It's like the Gingerbread Man got set on fire while he's just trying to enjoy a cup of mint tea.

We don't like mint tea drinkers here..
Image courtesy of lawrenalba.blogspot

As time goes on (ie. around 1 1/2h), the artificial smell and the smoke dies out though. Now it's a delicious, baked gingerbread with a creamy milkiness mixed with mint tea. I love it

TL;DR: Getting comforted with vanilla gingerbread, mint tea and spiced milk after your house burns down.

French Lime Blossom botanical perfume solid

I feel kinda bad adding this here since there's only 5 of these in the world. This smells amazing! It smells like a high end white floral perfume that's always advertised by an elegant lady in white.
"French Lime Blossom Botanical Perfume Violette Market" gotta read that in a British accent
Awesome pic by another awesome photographer: Margarita Kareva

There's a bit of a dirty waxy smell to it too, which I personally love since it makes the scent less boring and more intriguing. One thing I like about the solid perfumes is that the throw calms down a LOT. It's now the "normal" throw for a lot of perfume brands - within whispering distance for about 1-2h.

TL;DR: High end white floral perfume with dirty wax.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Review: Ophelia's Apothecary

IMPORTANT: She announced she's closing her store again on Facebook and will be offering refunds. If your items are still missing, please take advantage of this.

I finally got my order from Ophelia's Apothecary. Initially, I ordered 1 monthly subscription box, 30 perfume oil samples and 2 lip scrubs.

First unwrapping.

I'm not exactly sure what's part of the box since how I ordered got a bit complicated. I paid for my first order on May 28th to be sent to Indonesia.

On June 22 she had a flash sale I decided to take part in. I haven't gotten my first order yet, but shipping to Indonesia takes a while (12-14 days), so I wasn't too worried. I asked her about it on the 23rd after I paid, and that's when I found out she hasn't even sent it out yet.

After 26 days.

Kinda worrying but ok, some indies do have long TATs. By this time, I had a US mail forwarding address, so I asked her to send it to a US address instead. Since she hasn't sent out my first order, I combined shipping for both orders and ended up with an $18 shipping credit. She offered to send me more stuff instead. Well, international credit card charges usually makes refunds not worth it, I figured I should take the offer.

So now I got one monthly subscription ($14.99) + $18 worth of goods. This is what I got for $32.99:

    It didn't come with any descriptions so I just had to guess what I got. Supposedly it was meant to have a note. Based on my conversation with her and reading up her product list, this is what I got:

    • Sinus Relief Balm
    • Orange Blossom Neroli Household Cleaner Concentrate 
    • Eucalyptus & Spearmint Pumice Foot & Body Scrub
    • Whipped Body Butter (Orange Blossom Neroli?)
    • Green Tea Face Cream
    • Healing Pink Quartz Muscle Relief Spray
    • Green Clover & Aloe 3 in 1 (checked her blog and it's a shampoo, soap & conditioner combo)
    • Rice Flower & Shea...something. Don't know what it is. I've messaged her and turns out it's a body lotion.
    I guess that amount of items seem to be worth $32.99. I definitely don't think they're worth beyond $32.99 though, so I don't think a surprise subscription box is worth it at all. Might as well shop for things you actually like and will use.

    Now unfortunately comes the even worse parts.

    Customer Service

    Deborah was so nice and friendly that I really, really want to like this brand. But the fact that my first order only got shipped out after I asked about it made me a bit nervous. Did she totally forget about my order?

    I paid for my 2nd order on June 23 and she claims shipped it out on June 28 (I didn't get any shipping notification). It only arrived in my Portland forwarding address on July 6. I'll give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she actually sent it on the 28th. A 5 day (13 if you include shipping time) TAT isn't too bad, but a 31 days TAT is kinda long. And the fact that I had to be the one to follow up with her worries me.

    Now, this company has had some bad publicity that I didn't know about before I ordered. It involves deleting bad reviews, items not arriving, and relying on new orders to pay for the old orders. I'll just post links tho these reports and let everyone make up their own minds:

    As for me, after my bad experience, I don't think I'll be buying from this brand again even though I really, really love the lip scrubs. I really do wonder if she relies on new orders to ship out old ones, and I'll just be perpetually worried I'm in an indie goodies Ponzi scheme where the last buyer will never see his/her goods. It was also harrowing to be the one who had to constantly chase her to ship my order, even though I've already told her before I agreed to purchase that I needed all my orders to arrive in the forwarding address by a deadline or I get charged expensive warehousing fees.

    I was also unhappy that the subscription boxes are NOT customized, despite what's advertised.

    Even more annoying was the part that she can't be bothered to give me what I asked for for the shipping refund. When she asked me what I wanted instead of getting the shipping refund, I mentioned I love gourmands, especially the baked & buttery kind. I didn't get a single gourmand scent. They're all floral/perfume-y. I was definitely not happy about this since the extras I got instead of a shipping refund was something that's not part of a set subscription box and she could have just given me what I asked for.

    But these aren't the biggest reason I'm not buying again.

    I wasn't happy there's no product descriptions on a lot of products, and not having a product list means I'm stuck with guessing or asking for her help to let me know what I got.

    And I'll just leave these pictures here.

    It was sticky.
    Peeling labels galore.

    They arrived leaking all over the place. And the tubs honestly look really old and roughed up, so I'm very worried about how long they've been around. The labels for a lot of items are peeling and tape is often used to stick them back on. One of the products even comes in a disposable sauce tub.

    The impression I got was that this "subscription box" was half-assed, and may even contain items she's trying to get rid of.

    I've messaged Deborah to ask when's the expiry date to be safe, and this is her reply:

    I was surprised she replied after 10 days of silence

    However, the sloppiness of the entire experience (and the fact that she's not sure what she gave me) makes me worry she may also be sloppy when it comes to manufacturing, so I won't be trying out the face cream just to be safe.

    For this review, I'll just go through the non-perfume items.

    Whipped Body Butter (Orange Blossom Neroli?) 

    This smells like orange, water and cotton. It smells nice enough and kinda reminds me of the scent of the body lotions they offer free in country club bathrooms. The smell's not so strong, so you only smell it if your nose is less than an inch away from your skin. The texture is very, very sticky. It looks light and seems light when you scoop it out, but when you rub in into your skin, it's very sticky and doesn't rub in easily. It takes 20-30 minutes for it to get absorbed into your skin and become less sticky.

    Sinus Relief Balm

    Perfect timing, I was having a blocked sinus when I was reviewing this. The balm glides smoothly, but leaves a very sticky residue. Unfortunately, it didn't really clear up my sinuses. It's the usual icy sort of smell, but it clears up my sinuses as much as a peppermint tea would. There's a weird "off" smell to this, which kinda bothered me. It's a bitter, insect sort of smelliness that reminds me of the smell of cockroaches. I realized later the smell was from the tub. I'm not sure if it's coming from the ink/paper used for the label, the material the tub is made of, or the tub hasn't been stored properly. The lip scrubs also had the same smell. It's definitely worrying, so I'm depotting them.

    Orange Blossom Neroli Household Cleaner Concentrate

    Ok, gotta admit to my 3rd world brattiness. I don't do my own cleaning, so I gave it to my maids. She reported it was ok, nothing particularly good or bad, and nothing that really differentiates it from any other cleaners. I only got a sniff and it smells like alcohol and watery oranges.

    Eucalyptus & Spearmint Pumice Foot & Body Scrub

    As you can see, the ingredients have completely separated. The scrub part is rock hard so I had to chisel it into the solution to mix them up again. Once they're mixed up the scrub was...strange. The pumice is like find sand which you can use for microdermabration, only it's really soft and just mushes away. It's like walking of softened sand that doesn't really do much for scrubbing. When I wash it off, my hand and foot had that extremely dry feeling. That so dry, it's sticky feeling you get from certain bar soaps, only way worse. The scent is just a normal minty scent. 

    Healing Pink Quartz Muscle Relief Spray

    It doesn't feel cooling or anything. I was having sore calves, tried this on and I don't think it works at all. The only thing that freaked me out is that it has a strong smell of alcohol when I sprayed it on. That can't be too good for my skin. It leaves a bit of an oily film on my skin though, so maybe that's meant to counter the alcohol. 

    Green Clover & Aloe 3-in-1 

    I decided not to try this as a shampoo since my hair's fragile and it's too close to my face for my comfort. It works like a normal soap and kinda smells like a vaguely "green" liquid soaps you find in public bathrooms. 

    Rice Flower & Shea Body Lotion

    The formula's very light and runny, so it gets absorbed pretty fast - around 3 minutes. This kinda smells like perfumed melted crayons. And the perfume smell is that artificial, perfume-y "rice" smell that smells nothing like rice and makes me suspect the manufacturer has never had rice before.

    Lip Scrubs

    These are like lipbalms with relatively large brown sugar granules (at least I hope they're brown sugar or I have a problem) embedded in them. They're so awesome. They're moisturizing and taste so good!

    Butter Toffee Crunch tastes like actual butter toffee crunch and I have to stop myself from eating it. Just be careful while opening these, the sugar sprays everywhere and you end up with a huge mess.

    Cupacke tastes like a metallic vanilla and sprinkles flavoured lip balm. You know how some gourmands end up smelling metallic? Well, this one had the metallic taste. It's cute packaging-wise, but the problem is that the sprinkles and blue sugar stains your lips. Considering how badly blue sugar and colourful sprinkles often stains my tongue, it's definitely nothing to be surprised about. I just wish I could've seen pictures of it and avoided buying this. So here are pics of it...they're pretty but definitely staining:
    Even from the pic you can tell it'll stain. 
    Pretty cross-section. I'm depotting these for Minkishly!

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

    FOTD: Fading liner for neutral make up

    Product List:

    • Biore Perfect Face Milk
    • Dior Hydralife BB Cream (Luminous Beige)
    • MUS Cover All
    • MUS Wonder Powder (Kalahari)
    • MUS (Pollution)
    • Müse (customized)
    • Maybelline Falsies mascara
    • Fiberwig Mascara

    Friday, August 22, 2014

    Review & Recommendation: Haunt Beguiling Bath & Body Perfume Oils

    I finally had finished trying out all the perfume oils I got from Haunt! (previous Haunt review here)

    These perfume oils were all gorgeously packaged as usual.

    I'm keeping this one forEVER.
    Apparently the brand owner does her own artwork..she's so talented! I'm really impressed by how pretty they are!

    So the perfume oils..their throw is up to whispering distance, so you definitely don't need to worry about perfume-bombing everyone. I'm kinda sad about it though, since they smell so great, I want the entire room to smell it. I'm obnoxious in that way. One of the scents, Galleon, had a noticeably lower throw than the rest, and you have to practically press your nose to the spot you applied it on to, even before it dries down.

    They last about 2-3h before they dry down and you have to smell close to the skin to catch a whiff. You still smell traces for about 5-5 1/2 hours though.

    The amazing thing about these perfumes is that I liked all 4 of the perfumes I got. I'm only crazy in love with 3 scents, but I still like the other scent. I'm now pretty confident about purchasing Haunt's scents blind. They just suit me so well!

    Packaging-wise, I really love the labels. The artwork is just so gorgeous! The bottles don't come with reducers or rollerballs though, so you have to be really careful when applying. Also, one of the bottles did this:

    It's very stuck. I was tipping it and it stayed put.

    That white bit got stuck hard and took some effort to remove. The perfume ended up spilling when I finally managed to peel it off, and there were white powdery glue (I think?) bits everywhere.

    The cloth I used in the background is part of a dress I got from Biyan, one of my favourite local Indonesian designers. I think it really complements the pretty labels. 


    "White melon, spiced coconut milk, sandalwood, myrrh, and golden amber"

    This smells like a cool, cantaloupe candy. The iciness isn't one of those sharp, burns your nose kind of icy. It just gives this scent a coolness to it. After about 20 minutes, a bit of smokiness enters and gives this scent more depth. It now smells like a complex, cool, cantaloupe candy (I sweat the alliteration is unintentional). If you've tried Darling Clandestine's Pyroteknik, this is like that scent's good twin. They're both smoky melon candy smells, but Pyroteknik is fireworks and melon with smoke, while Dragonfly is a cool, deep, smoked melon embedded in ice.

    You will not believe how many NSFW pics pop up when you search for "melons"
    Awesome photography by Michael Shmelev

    Overview: I'd expect a heavy, warm scent from reading those notes, but this is a cooler scent. It's not light and airy, and definitely deep, but it's more cool than warm.


    "Golden bananas, creamy chai spices, jaggery, Indonesian sandalwood, vanilla pods, and dark rum"

    At first it smells like artificial bananas, which kinda worried me. My boyfriend thinks it smells like banana bubblegum and he's right. The cheap kinds. But after about 10-15 minutes, it got really good. There's this cinnamon and wood resin smell that came out, and the banana smell just kinda blends into them to create an edible deliciousness. You feel hungry sniffing this, but you're not sure what you're hungry for. Is it something baked? A drink? It's something creamy but doesn't smell like a thick, heavy cream or a cool, light cream either. What is it?

    I love this scent so much, but unfortunately, it has a noticeably shorter throw than the rest. You have to get closer to the skin to catch a whiff, even before it dries down. I tried wearing it out for a day while at a conference and people could smell my lip balm (Dreaming Tree Soapworks' Hobbiton Banana Bread) and cuticle oil (Pretty & Polished's Coconut Papaya), but not the perfume.

    Overview: Definitely not surprised by the notes there. They really blend beautifully together. If you're expecting more of a banana smell though, you may get disappointed.


    "The scent of apple orchards and dandelion fluff in the air, warm chamomile tea, linden blossoms, dried apricot, blue tansy, sweet clover, and rock moss"

    This opens with an artificial apple smell that you often find in apple soaps. It's nice enough, only it smells a lot like a common hand soap in Indonesia.

    This one. It smells exactly like this soap.
    Image courtesy of

    Then a lemon scent enters, which doesn't help it smell less like a liquid hand soap. My boyfriend and I agree it's a classy liquid hand soap you'll find in fancy hotels (the kind that goes beyond 5-stars and need their own snooty rating system), but still a hand soap.

    Eventually, there's a calm, green note that surprisingly doesn't smell highly artificial, and some cool florals. It just blends in beautifully with everything else. Still liquid hand soap though. The fancy kind.

    Overview: The apples is definitely prominent in this. I tried the scent again and the apricots aren't as obvious and just add a tartness to this that smells like lemons after it mixes with everything else.

    Summer Crush

    "Yellow mango drenched in fresh coconut cream, frozen lemonade, jasmine iced tea, Tahitian vanilla, golden amber and vanilla musk"

    This smells like a pineapple-mango chewy candy, I swear it has that smell every chewy candy has. Only the fruits smell like actual juice instead of the artificial kind. If you've tried Alchemic Muse's Pineapple Milk, this is a higher end version. As the scent dries down, the chewy candy part gets a bit lotion smelling, but I still like it.

    Overview: I guess mango, lemonade & coconut ends up smelling like pineapples!

    Wednesday, August 20, 2014

    Review & Controversy: Glamour Doll Eyes

    I was given free mini jars of Glamour Doll Eyes shadows and asked for a surprise selection of fun colours. 

    Since I didn't do any ordering, I can't comment much on customer service except to say that Vee is really sweet and friendly. 

    Packaging-wise, they're pretty and I love how they come with waterproof labels and were shrink-wrapped.

    Here's the fill level for the jars I got:
    The lids show off the shifts!
    Anyway, on to swatches!

    Macro shots on Darling Girl's glitter glue:

    Glitter glue swatches side by side:

    So gorgeous! Vee definitely picked out the perfect colours for me, because I'm crazy over these crazy bright colours!

    On Urban Decay's Primer Potion:
    The difference between Grenade & Sex Appeal is more obvious here.
    Yup...they significantly became more "bald".

    Foiled with a wet brush:

    Sorry for the messy swatches. This was the first swatch I did after returning from my trip and somehow, the humidity killed my tape and colours ended up seeping through. I noticed these are really hard to foil with water though. And yes, Grenade ended up a different colour, which I thought was so freaking cool! This is why I love foiling!

    Bare skin swatches:
    This is the surprising part. Dirty Jeans is an unblended pigments yet it stays on ok. I was expecting way more fall out but it's pretty adhesive so I checked their ingredients list as well as their definition of "unblended"pigments to see what they mean. This is what GDE says about their unblended pigments:
    Screenshot taken on 18 Aug, 2014
    I'm glad GDE is open and honest when it comes to mentioning that they do use unblended pigments. And great, they do add other stuff into their eyeshadows to make it easier to work with. I checked the ingredients and I can't figure out how they adhere so well to bare skin, since this is their ingredient list:

    Besides titanium dioxide, I see nothing else to add adhesion, and usually titanium dioxide barely cuts it for adhesion. The eyeshadow is also not streaky, and I don't see anything like silica to add slip. If anyone knows how this magic's possible, let me know. I emailed Vee about it and this is her reply:

    So here are the ingredients for the eyeshadows I tried, if anyone can help me figure out the mystery, that'll be great. Bolded are the non-colour items.

    • Avant-Garde: Pigment Violet, Mica, Titanium Dioxide, Tin Oxide, Synthetic Fluorophylogopite, Silica, Iron Oxide
    • Burlesque: Manganese Violet (Pigment Violet 16), Iron Oxide, Mica, Titanium Dioxide, Tin Oxide, Calcium Aluminum Borosilicate, Silica
    • Coquette: Titanium Dioxide, Mica, Magnesium Stearate, Pigment Violet, Tin Oxide, Synthetic Fluorophylogopite, Silica
    • Dirty Jeans: Mica, Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxide, Ferric Ferrocyanide
    • Grenade: Mica, Iron Oxide, Titanium Dioxide, Blue #1 Al Lake, Yellow #5 Al Lake, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Palmitic Acid, Tin Oxide, Ferric Ferrocyanide, Calcium Aluminum Borosilicate, Silica
    • Sex Appeal: Manganese Violet (Pigment Violet 16), Mica, Titanium Dioxide, Yellow #5, Blue #1, Palmitic Acid

    As a comparison, here are typical ingredient lists for other companies (there's more than 3 but I didn't want to do an overkill...Dawn Eyes adhere best to bare skin, but her website's messy) that has eyeshadows that adhere well to bare skin:

    Notoriously Morbid

    • Bad Juju: Mica, titanium dioxide, carmine, iron oxide, ultramarine, magnesium stearate

    • Cry Innocent: Magnesium myristrate, mica, carnauba wax, iron oxide, titanium dioxide, ferric ferrocyanide, tin oxide

    Daisy Bird Cosmetics

    • Hello Hyacinth: Titanium dioxide, ultramarines, mica, carnauba wax, iron oxide, ferric ferrocyanide, Magnesium Myristate, tin oxide, carmine

    • Dandy Dandelion: Titanium dioxide, mica, carnauba wax, iron oxide, magnesium myristate

    Backstreet Makeup Co

    • (thirsty) Thursday: Mica, Boron Nitrate, Magnesium Stearate, Magnesium Myristrate, Iron Oxides, Silica, Titanium Dioxide, and Tin Oxide

    • Olivine: Mica, Boron Nitrate, Iron Oxides, Silica, Titanium Dioxide, Tin Oxide, Magnesium Stearate, Magnesium Myristrate

    Anyway, here's some looks I did with their eyeshadows:

    Cut creases aren't the most flattering on monolids, but it's the best way to show off many colours.

    As you can tell, I stopped caring at the parts of my eyeliner that'll be hidden under my lids...

    How my monolids normally look...

    I tried out a powder foundation and it flaked on my dry patches. So sorry about that...

    Product List:

    • GDE
      • Avant-Garde (sides of "crease")
      • Coquette (middle of "crease")
      • Sex Appeal (shading above "crease")
      • Dirty Jeans (lower lash line)
    • Müse gold eyeshadow (inner corners)
    • Maybelline Falsies mascara
    • Fiberwig mascara

    • Biore Perfect Face Milk
    • Dreamworld Hermetica foundation (Thetys II mixed with Nimue I)
    • Revlon blush (mixed several blushes together)


    • Müse customized colour
    Once I applied it on my eyes and started blending, I started seeing the difference. As you can see from the pic, the eyeshadow went "bald" and a lot of the gorgeous glitter was gone.

    UPDATE: Someone more familiar with ingredients informed me that some TKB Trading micas are pretty clingy on their own (which means nice swatch pics). You still need a base though, since they start wanting to come off when you apply it and start blending.

    UPDATE: GDE plans on removing unblended pigments in the future:
    UPDATE: GDE has officially removed unblended pigments from their site....but most of their eyeshadows still contain no bases. For a guide to help you identify if your eyeshadows contain any bases, you can head here. For a comparison of pure mica against micas with a base to show you what bases do, you can head here. For a review on how pure micas perform on their own, you can head here.