Adventures in Minimalism: Purging the Taupes a.k.a. insert taupe pun here

Taupe on a rope? Taupal eclipse? The audacity of taupe? Please submit your taupe puns in the comments section – we will have a pun-off.

Ok so some of you may have seen my stash photo on twitter:

Stash full

(Incidentally Adobe Photoshop’s panorama stitching is wizardry – apart from a dodgy Shu eyeshadow, you’d never tell this was two photos stitched together)

Now by some people’s standards this is just a little pygmy stash, but the size doesn’t bother me too much, it’s more the huge waste – there are so many products here that I just don’t use!

So now I’m embarking on a minimalist adventure, purging anything that, in the words of William Morris, I ‘do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful’ (smart man, also do you know you can get William Morris tablecloths – what did this guy NOT do?).

To start with, let’s have a look at all my taupes.

And with labels:

A LOT of Asian eyeshadows here, and almost half are drugstore, which is nice. Most brands you will have heard of before, Dodo may be new to some folks – I don’t know a whole lot about the brand actually, I think it’s Korean and I know it’s quite reasonably priced; I bought this eyeshadow in a Japanese drugstore for about £4.

First we have: Visee Glam Nude Eyes N-5 (reviewed here), Suqqu Keshizumi, Addiction Flashback, Sonia Rykiel Quatre Eyeshadow Collection 09, Dodo P20, Lancôme Erika F.

It seems in my absence I’ve forgotten how to take good photos of swatches, so bear with me.

Lancôme Erika F (far right) pushes the definition of taupe, and as you can see, my skin pulls out the grey and green in it. In reviews of it by other bloggers, it often looks like a much closer relative to the taupe family than it does on me.

My favourites from this group are the Sonia Rykiel (3rd from the right) and the Suqqu (2nd from the left). I love how purple and cool the Sonia Rykiel is, and the coolness of the Suqqu makes it so wearable. Both textures are amazing. My least favourite is the Dodo (2nd from right), the texture of the eyeshadow isn’t great – a little hard – and it’s a little too warm. Flashback and Visee are…ok. I like them a lot on their own, but when I compare them to my other taupes, I see others that I prefer.

Next we have: Kate Wide Edge Eyes PU-1, Maquillage Eyeshadow N in GY835, Bobbi Brown Stone, Too Faced Like a Virgin, Suqqu Ginbudou.

Don’t you LOVE that Maquillage (2nd from left) eyeshadow? I really haven’t used this eyeshadow enough; I bought it just as I arrived in Japan, and never really got acquainted with it because then I bought about…100 other things in a fit of shopping that experts are calling: WHEEE JAPAN! (I am the expert. It is me calling it that. You can call it that too if you like.)

Anyway, mmm yummy to that Maquillage. Its texture is lovely as well. The Kate (far left) is also rather nice, not too red. The palette itself is stellar, I’m surprised I haven’t reviewed it yet. The Suqqu (far right), like Erika F, pushes the boundaries of taupe so it’s a bit strange to compare it to the rest. I love it though, regardless of taupicity.

While the Too Faced (the matte, 2nd from right) doesn’t exactly excite me, I do see it as a very useful shade; it’s my only matte taupe, and it’s very versatile. The only loser in this bunch is the Bobbi Brown. It’s a little warm, and if I wasn’t so overwhelmed with taupes I’d probably keep it, but this eyeshadow is middle-of-the-road in terms of both texture and shade, so it’s not really necessary for me to keep it.


  • Sonia Rykiel 09
  • Suqqu Keshizumi
  • Maquillage GY835
  • Kate PU-1
  • Too Faced Like A Virgin


  • Visee N-5 (but probably keep because the palette is really solid and versatile)
  • Addiction Flashback


  • Dodo P20
  • Bobbi Brown Stone

Taupe Imposters (Intertaupers!)

  • Lancôme Erika F
  • Suqqu Ginbudou

Are any of you reading-people mid-purge? Or planning one? Are you shocked by the amount of stuff I have – or laughing at my piddly collection? Which taupe is your favourite? Do you like questions? What did you have for lunch? I had pasta and homemade pesto? Because I’m cool like that? My basil plant has grown really big, how do I stop it? Maybe I’ll buy a sheep to graze on it? Do sheep eat basil? Italian sheep maybe?


Things to Buy in Japan #2: Drugstore Lipsticks

I love lipstick. If 2011 was my year of the cheek (I look back fondly on my 2010 self, naively thinking that, surely once you have a nude, a pink, and a plum blush, your blush collection is complete), then 2012 is most definitely my year of the lips. In my treasured lip collection, nestled amongst the Guerlain and the Suqqu, are the Japanese drugstore lipsticks – each with a formula that rivals the high-end ones I’ve come to love. (That was a well-punctuated sentence.)

If you’re in Japan, you should definitely check out their drugstore lipstick offerings – in many many cases they’re much better than their high end counterparts.

Drugstore Lipsticks!

Typical* Japanese drugstore lipsticks:

  • Have a kind of balmy formula
  • Are moisturising
  • Have a finish that is at least a sheen, sometimes a high glittery gloss (matte lipsticks obviously exist, but they don’t seem to be as prevalent)
  • Apply as a sheer tint, but can be built up with ease

I usually associate Japanese drugstore lipsticks with ease of use: they’re very flattering and moisturising, they can be layered, and they fade evenly – so no frantic mirror-checking needed.


Limited Colour Range

While the formulas (formulae?) of Japanese lipsticks are often wonderful, I find the colour ranges can be quite limited. While I tend to favour darker, rosy lipsticks, most lines of drugstore lipsticks in Japan are filled with pale pinks, nudes, and pale peaches. Luckily, usually in each range there’s a token red (perhaps two), and maybe a rose or two.


Quite a few drugstore lipstick ranges are pretty big on glitter, and in many cases the glitter is pretty subtle and doesn’t feel gritty. However sometimes you’ll find what is, essentially, a big ol’ stick of glitter with some tint to it. So beware the glitterstick, my son.

My Picks


Lavshuca is my favourite drugstore brand for lipsticks. I’ve already written about the Lavshuca Dramatic Memory Rouge formula here, and Kate of Drivel About Frivol has fantastic swatches of all the colours available in the range. The Dramatic Memory Rouge formula is a great all-rounder: moisturising but not too balmy, shiny without being gooey, and you can build it up from sheer to full-coverage.

For a more lip butter-esque formula from Lavshuca, you could try the Moisture Melting Bar lipstick. It’s a very creamy formula that, in spite of containing a little bit of glitter, glides on smoothly.Jelly Lips N (Colour) Lasting power is not as good as the Dramatic Memory Rouge, about two hours. More lovely swatches over at Drivel About Frivol.

I haven’t tried the other lipstick ranges from Lavshuca myself but I’ve read good things about the Star Glow Rouge and my friend bought one of the super cute Jelly Lips (Colour) lipsticks and, although it’s a bit glittery, still loves it to this day. I’m toying with the idea of buying something from the Jelly Lips range myself, because they’re just so miniature and cute.


Kate is such a solid and reliable drugstore brand, it’s no wonder that they produce some lovely lipsticks. I’m a big fan of their Rouge High Glam formula, it’s a creamy formula that’s easy to wear and hides any imperfections. It’s a little different from the Lavshuca types because it’s thicker, more creamy than balmy. It actually reminds me a little of the Suqqu formula in the way it glides onto the lips.

Here’s Kate Rouge High Glam in PK-17:


Unlike Lavshuca and Kate, I never fully fell in love with the Media brand – in all honesty I think my brain was just influenced by the packaging: Media packaging is very classic and grown-up, and I think I’m still in my ‘oooh shiny!’ unicorn poots phase.

However, I do own a Media lipstick that I really love. The Creamy Lasting Lip lipstick is not like the balmy kind that I usually favour, it’s more classic and grown-up. It’s moisturising, durable, and it has a satin finish. I want to say it’s the perfect lipstick for job interviews but I imagine that that’d relegate it to the ‘boring!’ category in people’s heads. Basically it’s a lipstick you can count on, and it has more of a ‘classic’ finish than the ones mentioned above.

Buying Help

Most Japanese brands tend to use a shade naming system that’s pretty self-explanatory. They use two letters to indicate the colour family of the shade:

  • RS (Rose)
  • RD (Red)
  • PK (Pink)
  • OR (Orange)
  • BE (Beige)
  • and the less common WN (Wine), BR (Brown)

Then they follow that with a number which (as far as I know) doesn’t mean that much and is just an identifier. This system is pretty cool because it gives an idea of the shade without you having to endlessly swatch. Sometimes it’s a little bit iffy, i.e. some things I’d class as RS are in the PK category, but it’s a good starting point.

I’ve placed links to the Lavshuca swatches above and here are some swatches of the drugstore lipsticks I own: (I made sure my arm was extra goosebumpy, just for you guys! You’re welcome.)

Lavshuca Dramatic Memory Rouge RS-1, RD-2, Kate Rouge High Glam PK-17, Media Creamy Lasting Lip PK-20, Lavshuca Moisture Melting Bar PK-5, RD-4, RD-3

Japanese brand websites (also linked above) also often have lip swatches of each shade. They’re not infallible, but they’re good to give you an idea of what kind of shade you’re buying.

Buying Online

To buy these lipsticks from outside Japan, you may want to try Adam Beauty. I haven’t diligently price checked, but Adam Beauty is my go-to for Japanese cosmetics now that I’m in the UK. Here’s the Lavshuca shopping page, and the Kate shopping page, but sadly I can’t find a shopping page for the Media Creamy Lasting Lip.

8 Word Conclusion

Drugstore lipsticks are flattering, moisturising, balmy. Sometimes glittery.

*I should add a huge (slightly obvious) disclaimer to this whole post: The observations in this post are all informed by my personal experience of living in Japan. Are there exceptions to the generalisations in this post? Of course, these are just patterns I noticed. Are all Japanese drugstore lipsticks automatically amazing because they’re Japanese? Uh, no – there are hits and misses just like everywhere else.

Kate Lasting Gel Eyeliners in BK-2 and BU-1

Kate is a reasonably priced, widely-available Japanese drugstore brand.
These eyeliners retail for 1155 yen (£9.32/$14.98).

Kate Lasting Gel Eyeliners are a solid favourite among beauty enthusiasts, outperforming most high-end liners in terms of lasting power, manageability, and pigmentation.

Lasting Power

I graduated to these liners after using MAC fluidlines for a couple of years. I would say the biggest difference between the two is lasting power. After a wipe test MAC dipdown was reduced to a questionable stain on my arm while the Kate was hardly affected. In the shower, the rest of the MAC came off with a bit of water and pressure. The Kate withstood water and shower gel, and only started to fade with make-up remover and painful rubbing. I eventually gave up trying to remove all of it: my arm was sore and the hot water was running out, so I left the remainder of the Kate (by now a stain) on my wrist for the next couple of days.

Kate gel eyeliners are without a doubt the most long-lasting eyeliners I have ever tried.

Ease of Use

Now this is where my opinion seems to deviate from the general consensus.

I find that I have to expend a little more effort on applying Kate gel eyeliner than I do on, say, Bobbi Brown’s gel eyeliner.  Not a lot more, mind you.

I think that the unparalleled lasting power of Kate eyeliners results in some ‘slip’ being lost. I find that the liners don’t glide very smoothly along my eyelid. However, this problem is very minor, it results in maybe one minute of extra attention being spent on eyeliner than usual, and this is a small price to pay for such a long-lasting line. Of course if you don’t need extra staying power for your eyeliner, then this disadvantage may have more weight in your buying decision.


The Lasting Gel Eyeliners come in a variety of natural shades. Even the blue, which looks very vibrant when built up in the swatch below, can easily pass as a natural liner shade when applied properly. I appreciate that Kate offers different nuances of shades instead of confining its consumers to one catch-all black or brown.


It seems Kate Lasting Gel Eyeliners are not all created equal. I love the pigmentation of BK-2: it applies opaquely on to the eyelid in one stroke. BU-1, however, is a different story. I find myself having to smother my brush in the liner until a visible chunk of the product is stuck to my brush in order to get an opaque line. Just dipping the brush in and applying gives me a sheer and uneven line. Of course this line can be built up to desired opacity. I still like BU-1, but it’s a shame that it doesn’t live up to the well-earned reputation of its siblings. (Having swatched it with my finger though, it looks like it would make a fantastic eyeshadow base).

The Bottom Line

I won’t hesitate to say that Kate eyeliners are the best you’ll find for lasting power, and for the price they’re the best for overall performance. However, if you find you don’t have serious issues with eyeliner lasting-power, you may want to look for a liner with more manageability.


Hello lovely people! After a walking-heavy holiday, my parents have gone home; most likely looking forward to recovering from aforementioned walking. Either way I am sad :(. Perhaps it’s because I had to see them off at the station at 6.30 in the morning, or you know, I could *gasp* miss them!

So I thought of all the things that I was happy about. I guess this is kind of like a thanksgiving post, but my entire –dazzling- knowledge of Thanksgiving is all from Friends and Adams Family Values, so I’m not actually sure.

1. I am happy that I am sad about my parents leaving. My parents are awesome.

2. My life is pretty amazing, so I’m happy about that.

(and now the important, beauty-related things)

3. Because Bobbi Brown is super expensive here, I ordered the Modern Classic palette and Day to Night Cool palette to my home in England, and my parents brought it over.

It is so beautiful. Well, actually, I’ve seen prettier packaging, but I love the sleek look both the palettes have. They also have this satisfying weight to them; they’re definitely not flimsy palettes, they have this chunky significance that makes me feel very serious – and somewhat special – when I use them.

Bobbi Brown

Flippancy aside, these palettes are lovely because they are so usable. I know neutrals are dull yadiyadah but when you’re a sucker for palettes (as I am) it’s nice when you don’t have to sit there justifying that chartreuse eyeshadow just so you can get the shimmery taupe. If you’ve been there, you’ll know what I mean.

I like how while these palettes are neutral, they are not brown. I do not like browns very much – they may be useful but they’re usually quite warm-toned and a palette of browns is not exactly a visual feast. I haven’t owned any Bobbi Brown eyeshadows before but so far I love how they apply. I find them more crease-prone (with primer) than other high-end shadows so I’m going to have to break out the big guns and powder my eyelids before applying as well. To sum up, these palettes make me happy.

4. For the first time in about 10 years, my skin actually looks better when I don’t wear foundation. (For the first 6 or 7 of those years, my skin had to go without foundation anyway because I had NO idea what I was meant to look for). I put this down to my total lack of stress compared to uni at home and Freeplus skin care – it is definitely not down to diet: winter is time for hibernation (fattening up and sleeping for inordinately decadent periods of time) . Expect a freeplus review soon!

5. I have found a mascara that is almost perfect. I say almost because it is not infallible but most of the time it is wonderful. It is – drum roll please – the newly-released (November) Kate Volume Gel Mascara. Again, review coming soon! (I mean, I can’t tell you about a wonderful mascara and then just leave you hanging, right?)

Kate Volume Gel Mascara

6. (See point 4) Fattening up and sleeping.

7. I have bought a brita filter jug. My tea no longer tastes like swimming pool. What more can I say?

8. I feel like this last point should be significant. My hair looks quite good today.

Birthday Round-Up!

This is like a Friday Round-Up except it’s on my Birthday (okay well actually the day after)! Smart huh?


Ok so as I’m alone in Japan for my Birthday, I took it upon myself to buy a few presents, as you do. I am ridiculously good at buying presents for myself, I loved all of them!

So first off I bought a few pretty things from the drugstore.


Lavshuca Moist Melting Rouge in 3 colours: RD-4, RD-3, and PK-5. So far I love these (and I will review them!). They are great MLBB colours with a formula that’s really easy to wear. They feel like a really pigmented balm. Their lasting power is better than I had expected as well.

Kate Gel Eyeliner in BK-2. I talked in my November Round-up about Kate Eyeliners but at that point I didn’t love them. This one has converted me though. Lasting power is incredible but the thing I love most about this eyeliner is its colour. It is brown but it has very little redness in it, unlike MAC Dipdown (I’ll post comparison swatches). Because of this it doesn’t bring out as much redness in and around my eyes, so I love it!

Integrate Gracy Cheek Colour in Rose 300. I was on the look out for a matte blush and stumbled across this one. This shade is exactly the colour of my natural blush so I use it for a really natural look. It blends out really easily but this compromises staying power. I have still been wearing it every day since I got it though.

I also caved and bought the new Majolica Majorca perfume. It took me a while to decide because I didn’t LOVE the scent, I just thought it was pleasant. In the end I bought it because the scent lasts so long, it’s easy to apply and on the day I tested it, I got nothing but compliments.

The night before my Birthday my Fyrinnae order arrived! I think their impeccable timing proves, as we all suspected, that Fyrinnae are indeed magic. Not only that, the order was in a parcel that was thin enough to fit into the dorm mailbox which meant I didn’t have to arrange redelivery or anything! Yay!


Obviously there are swatches to come but I just had to take a photo when I got them all. Fyrinnae enthusiasts will probably notice I chose very safe colours: neutrals and a few golds thrown in. La Noche, however, is bright blue: I couldn’t just order neutrals from a company with such special bright shades.

I am really excited to try Damn Paladins as it looks like a lovely grey-taupe. And of course Ashes will be one of the first I try because it is such a nice grey shade. Can you tell I like grey?

Recently I have been buying bath salts to try. In Japan there is a huge range of bath salts so my choice pretty much depended on which packaging was prettiest and which ones didn’t smell like ginger (I hate that smell). Luckily, Yu Ming just posted about Japanese Bath Salts on Beauty Box so I now have some idea of what to buy. In fact today I went out to get the Kikiyu bath salts so I’m excited to use them tonight!

A guide to getting Mad Men’s Joan Holloway look? Yes please!

Spiders are scary and Allie’s post tells me my fear makes sense.

And to finish, here is my birthday cake! It may look like ice cream to you, but I was pretending it was cake! Yummy.Ice cream