30 March 2010

Shu Uemura Closing USA Operations

What the fark? My favorite brand is going away? Well, almost. Products will be available online, but I mean, sometimes you have to TEST things for texture and color payoff. They're closing all the counters and free standing stores. OMG... I remember when the Shu store first opened, I wanted to LIVE THERE!!!

And now they're closing it. Ugh. What the hell.

Thanks L'Oreal for getting rid of Shu Uemura in USA but keeping other staid brands instead. Does that mean a lot of stock will end up at the outlets? hmm

Link to story on WWD.

18 March 2010

Shopping tip

As a Bloomingdale's card holder, the rewards are cashed out in terms of gift certificates to be used at Bloomingdale's. Unlike the Nordstrom rewards, Bloomingdale's sticks by its expiration date. Kind of. The expiry date is pretty generous, about 6 months after issue date. But, if by chance you forgot to use it (like me), they may be reissued by Customer Service.

However, the re-issue is not instant. It will be mailed with your next statement... but here's a tip... the Customer Service rep can apply your reward amount to your account... yay, that's even better in my opinion. :)

17 March 2010

Mousey Bling Bling

I spotted a blinged out mouse shoe at Bloomingdale's. I'm not sure how I feel about these... I like mouse shoes, but the crystals are maybe a little ghetto fab?

13 March 2010

It's Not the Same!

Today I stopped by the Shu Uemura boutique for a makeup application. I didn't have any intention of stopping by since the spring makeup collection did not interest me, but I felt like just going to the store. Since I didn't make an appointment, the artists were a bit busy... but I received an application of foundation, blush, and lipgloss. It was fun since I haven't done this type of thing for a long time.

The artist who worked on me was helpful and was not overly aggressive about sales. If you are in the SF area, try her out... the SA's name is Katerina.

Products the SA applied:
- Shu Architect Liquid Fdn - #764
- Pro spot concealer - #3 YR Medium/Light
- Glow On - P Pink 34
- Gloss Unlimited- 325m

I really liked the finish of the foundation, and I remember that I liked the way the foundation looked at my last Shu makeover two years ago....so I purchased it despite not needing any foundation haha. I'm not convinced about the concealer... I think it made my undereye area look a bit crepey... but my skin is pretty dry. The glow on and gloss were really cute., both colors are vivid pinks, especially great for spring! But I couldn't justify the purchase as I have so many blushes and glosses already.

Since the artists were kinda busy, I played with the eyeshadows myself. I did a bright look using ME Gold 335 (lid), P Green 430 (mid crease), M Blue 695 (outer V), M Beige 821 (crease for blending), and M Beige 800 (highlight). Since Shu's numbering system doesn't make sense for most people, here are my descriptions of the colors I used:

ME Gold 335: shimmery yellow. A replacement for the old shade ME Gold 330.
P Green 430: pearly grass green
M Blue 695: matte dark blue-green
M Beige 821: matte warm beige, a little peachy
M Beige 800: matte ivory

The result was nice... I already own similar shades at home, I was just trying to do a cute look to go with the pinks done by the artist.

I also tested some other beautiful eyeshadows that I didn't own yet (haha~). The ones that caught my eye were ME Olive 471 and P Purple 781. I bought ME Olive 471 which is a wonderful silvery green taupe-ish color. I hope that it will show a bit of the green color on my eyelids. I didn't test it on my eyelids since I already finished a complete eyelook at the store. ME Olive 471 pairs wonderfully with P Purple 781. I think the two would make an awesome smokey eye. I didn't purchase P Purple 781 because purples are hard for me to wear. I'll try this at Nordies next time I am there. If it looks nice I'll buy it with my rewards certificates. :D

I also tried the new UV Underbases. I tried both the medium beige and beige colors. There isn't really a big difference between shades on my skintone despite one being much more pink based. I think people with really good skin could get away with using this product as a type of tinted moisturizer. However, today I had some redness to my skin today and neither product truly neutralized it. I know, these bases aren't meant for that... the green base corrector is. I don't like to layer a million products on my skin and it would have been great if this product could have acted as a color corrector too. I found that this product did make my skin appear smoother and paired with moisturizer, application of foundation was a breeze.

All in all... it was a fun trip to the Shu Uemura boutique. But I do have to say I was disappointed in the plain black shopping bag I received from the store. Part of the bonus of shopping at the boutique is the nice Shu Uemura shopping bag! I like the way the logo looks on the bag (and the Shu by Ai promotion shopper bags were the absolute best!!!) and I'm sad that they don't give those out anymore. It just ain't the same without getting the bag... ya know?

07 March 2010

Sometimes it's Too Good to be True

Since cosmetics rarely go on sale, I find that many people love it when they can find a deal on them. Cosmetics can be purchased at a discount at certain department stores during "friends and family" sales or warehouse sales held by the brands. Older products, often limited edition/seasonal products can be found at authorized outlets at your local outlet mall. L'oreal brands are sold at "designer fragrance & co" stores while Estee Lauder brands are sold at "cosmetic company outlet." The names of these stores sound shady, but they are the official outlets for the brands! I enjoy going to these outlets when I am in the area myself and have found very good deals there before. For example, I have purchased Shu Uemura eyeshadows for $5 (retail $18).

Nowadays, there are also many websites that sell older makeup stock at a significant discount. An online "cosmetic company outlet" so to speak. Among the most popular ones are: beautycrunch.com and beautyticket.com.

I am a big fan of Stila cosmetics and beautycrunch is authorized to sell Stila's older seasonal makeup lines. The prices are very cheap, especially when compared to the retail prices. In fact, since so many limited edition items made it onto beautycrunch, I am hesitant to purchase Stila limited items at regular price!

I have ordered from beautycrunch a few times, and I've never really had problems with my orders... my items arrived in a timely manner and well packed. I have never received rancid items either. Beautycrunch also stocks items from TooFaced, Pop Beauty and others.

Since I have had such good luck with beautycrunch, I was eager to order from beautyticket. Beautyticket also runs codes sometimes, so you can save an additional 10-20% off the already low prices! Beautyticket stocks many brands, from YSL, Molton Brown, Sue Devitt and more! For my first order, I ordered a blue liquid YSL eyeliner, a copper liquid YSL eyeliner, Bumble&Bumble deep hair conditioner, Molton Brown "eye rescue serum," and a Molton Brown body lotion. The prices were all excellent and I was very excited for my order to come.

Beautyticket shipped out of Los Angeles, CA and used priority mail, so I got the items very quickly. The items were well packed and they used cute pink paper strips too. As for the products themselves.... what I got was mixed. I'll explain.

My blue eyeliner was in new and unused perfect condition, but the bronze one was not. The bronze one had clearly been used (there was liner all caked around the plastic stopper... and the formula was thickened on the wand... this only happens on opened and used liquid liners). I had founds a Barneys New York sticker that was half peeled off on the box of my bronze liner. I can only surmise that beautyticket acquires some of its merchandise from old department store stock. This is probably fine 95% of the time. Sometimes the stores just order too much, or the limited colors just don't sell out. But the problem is... what if these items come from department store returns? If these items are not checked by the stores, there is the possibility of receiving used items like I did.

The Molton Brown lotion, while new, was a bit rancid. I have not tried the hair conditioner yet.. but maybe I should? The eye serum was ok, but probably due to the age of the item.... the bottle was not as full as it should have been. Overall, for the prices, I guess it is ok. Buying older stock can be risky (i.e. rancid items).

However, when I emailed beautyticket about the used liner, they were willing to refund me as long as I returned the item. I thought that was pretty good customer service. They also sent me a prepaid label to return the item via USPS. However, since I live in California, they should have also refunded the sales tax I paid on the liner. I think if I emailed them about it, they probably would have. But at this point, I didn't care that much about the $1.60 I paid in tax since I got most of my money back already. However, when issuing the refund, I believe that beautyticket should be more careful and look into the order to see which customers have paid the sales tax. However in their defense, only California residents pay sales tax and we are probably only a small percentage of overall customers.

So in the end... I have to say that sometimes things are just too good to be true, especially when buying online. Purchase older stock items at your own risk. The discounts are heavy and attractive.... so the best thing is to know what you are buying. Find out what collections those color items were from so you know how old these items are. If you don't know, try looking up reviews for the product at MakeupAlley. For items that weren't limited, try the products when you receive them. That way if they are rancid/old/used you can get a refund.

:) Hope that helps someone who is considering using these types of websites. My experience has not deterred me from purchasing from them in the future. However, I think for beautyticket, I will only buy items that show their usage clearly (e.g. lipstick, eyeshadow, etc).

03 March 2010

It's a Relief it's Gone~

I know that Hollywood celebrities have made the bbag (Balenciaga "motorcycle bag") an "it bag" that won't go away. And for the longest time, I couldn't understand the appeal of them. They had all these long fiddly tassels and I thought they were pretty ugly... until I actually a held "first"* at Neiman Marcus.

Haha. So the bag that I thought was "soooo ugly" was actually kind of... cute, except for the price that is. And being a color lover, the fact that the bags came in all sorts of fun colors won me over. About two years ago I took the plunge and purchased my first bbag off Ebay... a giant gold hardware City in French Blue. (Don't worry... it was authenticated by the fab ladies of TPF :P)

I can honestly say that I liked it. Since I favor hand-held bags and bowler bags, I liked the double handles. The strap was convenient too when I needed my hands to be freed up.

But...what I didn't like about the bag was that the color faded. WHAT THE HELL BALENCIAGA?! The primary reason why I bought this bag was because of the beautiful saturated cobalt blue color!!! And it faded! I then looked at threads in TPF's Balenciaga forum and found that fading was actually a common issue, especially for blue and purple colors. The members hypothesized that these colors had issues due being partially made up of red pigment, which is a notoriously unstable color (e.g. in hair dye). Others hypthesized that the bags were not colorfast because of the soft "unfinished" leather Balenciaga is known for.

I thought to myself, what a bunch of bull. These bags are not cheap and they can't even maintain the color which they are famous for. It's probably some kind of scheme to get you addicted to buying them, only having to replace them once they get kinda icky/discolored/old.

By the way... that's not my only grievance with the bag. The leather on the bag is EXTREMELY fragile and delicate. After a few months of use, my bag started to look a little worse for the wear. And now, two years later after my purchase, the bag looked kind of beat up.** I'm one who takes pride in their possessions. Just look at the condition of my makeup. I use everything meticulously and keep it neat and clean. I am an anal person about certain things. I do not treat my things like trash. Yet... despite all this, my bag was starting to kind of look like trash!***

What the hell? I just couldn't deal with it. So I sold the bag on ebay... and I can tell you I'm relieved. This bag was high maintenance and heavy. Even nekoball commented on the weight of the bag. He asked me what I put in my bag. Sadly... at that moment my bag only had my wallet, keys, cellphone, and makeup bag. I estimate the bag to weigh about 2.5 - 3 lbs when empty.

So here is a parting photo of the bag. Look at me shake it in anger. Haha. Just kidding. I will kind of miss the bag... it is still a lovely color, despite having faded.

* "First" is a style/model of bbag
** In the bag's defense, I did not spray the bag with leather protector. I have not used a leather protector on any of my other high end bags and those other bags are fine. It should be noted that bbags are more delicate.
***I actually own another bbag. It is a City with Giant Silver Hardware in the color Sapphire. However, I have not even used it due to my fear of damaging the bag. I will acquire a leather protector before even attempting to use the bag.