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Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Photo Tutorial: Makeup Look Inspired by Adele!

Though I can't really claim to be a card-carrying Adele fan (despite her undeniably catchy songs and soulful voice), I have always admired her vintage aesthetic, talent and confidence. As a fuller-figured woman myself, I am always pleased to see a curvy, real celebrity who is amazingly talented, classy, and comfortable in her own skin. What actually piqued my interest in Adele, though, was that twice this winter I received the comment "Wow, you look like that British singer... you know- Adele!". Although I don't see a strong resemblance, I was humbled and flattered by the compliment!

Because of this perceived likeness, I thought, "why not do a makeup look inspired by Adele?". I knew it wouldn't be too far of a stretch, because bold smoky eyes and winged liner are a staple in my repertoire of makeup inspirations. So here it is: a step-by-step tutorial of how to create that signature Adele look. I hope you all find it informative!

First, here are a few pictures of Adele that inspired the look I created for this tutorial:

And now I break things down, step-by-step:

1)Create a Matte Base
From the pictures above, you can see that Adele's makeup looks (as with many retro-inspired looks) are characterized by flawless, matte skin. To recreate this (unless your skin is naturally oil- and blemish-free, in which case I'm jealous) it is best to use a matte-finish foundation and powder and to spot conceal where needed. I used Revlon ColourStay liquid foundation in Buff, MAC Pro Longwear Concealer in NC20  and Revlon ColourStay Pressed Powder in Light to achieve this.

2)Fill in Brows
While Adele's look is not characterized by overly bold or dramatic eyebrows, you can definitely tell that she takes the time to fill in and define her brows, as to give more structure and definition to the face.  You can use either a pencil or a brow powder, though I always prefer a powder formula for a more natural look. I used by favourite brow product, Anastasia Brow Powder Duo in Ash Blonde for this look.

3) Contour the Cheeks
In order to provide additional structure to the face, it helps to contour the cheeks with either a bronzer or a natural-looking taupe blush. Using an angled brush, run the colour along the hollows of your cheeks, just underneath the cheekbones. I accomplished this using Quo's Face Contour Brush with Hard Candy Hula Hula Bronzer.

Here's what everything looked like at this stage:

Matte skin, defined brows, and a contoured cheek

4) Apply a Rosy Blush
Although Adele does not appear to have one "signature" cheek colour, most of her looks feature a rosy blush- one that adds colour to the cheeks without acting as the focus of the makeup look. To achieve this, I applied the ever popular NARS Powder Blush in Orgasm to the apples of my cheeks, blending up to the temples. Here's what it looked like:

NARS Orgasm Blush over contoured cheeks

5) Highlight the Eyelid and Brow bone
As you've probably already noticed, and as the pictures above confirm, Adele's makeup is all about dramatic, smoky, liner-heavy eyes. In order to enhance the eye shape and provide contrast for the darker shades to come, apply a pale golden or champagne shade to the eye lids, brow bone, and inner corners of the eye. This will also help you to look more awake! I used Laura Mercier Eyeshadow in Sandstone.

Here's what it looked like after this step:

Highlighted eye

6) Apply a dramatic crease colour
The next step is to create the dramatic eye shape that is featured in so many of Adele's looks. Following the natural shape of your eye socket, apply a dark brown shade to the crease of your eye, extending outward and slightly upward, as if aiming for the ends of your eyebrows. I used MAC Eyeshadow in Bronze for this step. Here's what it looked like:


Creating a dramatic eye shape using MAC Bronze eyeshadow

7) Apply dark brown shade to the outer corner
The next step is to apply the same dark brown shade to the outer corner of the eye, eventually blending it into the end of the line you've just drawn in the crease. This will create a slight "V" shape to the outer corner of the eye. Here's a picture of how it looked on me, which will better demonstrate what I mean...

8) Add a lighter shade of brown and blend!
In order to prevent the eye shape you have created from looking too stark, the next step is to choose a lighter shade of brown and use it to gently blend out the dark brown shade. I applied Bare Escentuals Eye Colour in Madras to the middle of the lid and just above the crease, working it into the colour already there. Here's what it looked like at this stage:

BE Madras blended over MAC Bronze eyeshadow

9) Black liquid liner
The true defining feature of Adele's makeup (both literally and figuratively) is a generous helping of black liquid eyeliner, extended outward and upward in true cat-eye fashion. Not only does it add to the boldness of the eye, it also works to embody the retro spirit that Adele's style and music make so prominent. When choosing a liquid liner, I always opt for one with a felt-tipped applicator, as I feel that these provide much more control and precision than those with flimsy brushes. For this look I used my go-to liquid liner, Revlon ColourStay Liquid Liner Pen in Black (pictured below). I applied the eyeliner moderately heavy, but you can certainly layer it on even thicker if you want a more dramatic look!

Revlon ColourStay Liquid Eye Pen in Black

10) Apply Mascara (and/or Falsies!)
The final step of the eye look is to create a dramatic lash. Not only does it balance out the bold eyeshadow, it will make your eyes look bigger and more feminine. Although false lashes would be the ultimate way to achieve this, I chose to go for loads of mascara instead (partially because the party I was going to was fairly casual and I didn't want to look overdone, and partially because my skills with false lashes are rather lacking). To pump up my lashes, I applied 2-3 coats of Clinique Lash Doubling Mascara in Black.

Here's the final eye look!

Dramatic Adele-inspired eyes!

11) Add a Pinky-Nude Lip
The final step in achieving a retro-glamorous Adele-inspired look is to apply a nude (or nearly nude) lip colour that won't overshadow the boldness of the eye. I prefer nude lips with a hint of pink (as to avoid looking washed out), so I applied a mixture of MAC Lipstick in Warm Me Up (an opaque caramel shade) and MAC Lipstick in Viva Glam V (a slightly gold-flecked neutral pink). This is the shade that resulted from this MAC mixture:

And you're done! Here are some pictures of the final look- I'm not happy with the lighting (and the silly facial expressions- eek!) in many of them, but hope you get a good idea of how the final product looked!

And finally, I couldn't resist playing with the black and white setting on my camera, in an attempt to re-create the famous cover of Adele's album, 21. Dorky, but fun!

See the resemblance? Me neither ;) Adele has all the angles and lighting down!

Thanks for reading, everyone! I'd love your feedback on this one!

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Beauty Trend: North American Brands Jump on the BB Cream Bandwagon!

As many of you will remember, several of my posts from last year inspected a fascinating phenomenon- that of the BB cream. I was captivated as I learned about this potential beauty panacea; what more could one ask for (superficially speaking) than a product that improves skin as it conceals imperfections, provides sun protection, and controls oil? An interesting beauty trend indeed!

Through my exploration of this growing cosmetics trend, I researched and tested out several Korean BB creams, ultimately settling on Missha's Perfect Cover BB Cream (reviewed here:, which has become a regular in my beauty arsenal. Recently, it seems that the North American market has begun to take note of the prominence of BB Creams in Asia, and has worked to transport that trend to domestic shores. The result? Several North American brands have launched BB Creams (or are soon to do so) that similarly offer a plethora of beauty benefits, specifically targeted for the American (or, on this side of the border, the Canadian) woman.

I did some investigation into these new products, and have outlined 5 of them for you below. I haven't tested any of yet (but am in the process of scoring samples!), so what I have to offer at the moment are my impressions of the formulations, benefits, and (sometimes outlandish) claims of these up-and coming products. I've also added my two cents about what seems promising and what could lead to disappointment about each. I hope you find them helpful!

1) Clinique: Age Defense BB Cream SPF 30
I have not yet spotted Clinique's new Age Defense BB Cream in Canada, but I believe it has been on the U.S. and international markets for some time now. Marketed primarily as an anti-aging and antioxidant-rich formulation, it comes in 2 shade and retails for $37 USD. Both of the shades are suited for fair to light skin (one for pink and one for yellow undertones), which I think would significantly limit the range of women who could wear this product without looking ghost-like! It is, however, touted as being suitable for all skin types, so at least dry-skinned and oily gals can partake! Aside from wrinkle and free radical-thwarting benefits, Clinique claims that their BB Cream offers enough coverage to effectively conceal imperfections, while it also serves as a primer for any makeup applied on top.

The Promising: I appreciate that Clinique isn't touting this as a "miracle" product offering dozens of outlandish claims. The description of "weekend makeup in a minute" sounds like a realistic moniker, as BB creams in general do offer sun protection, moisturization, and coverage in one quick step. Also, this BB cream seems to offer a decent level of SPF!

The Disappointing: With only two shades to offer, this product should not be suitable for those with medium-to-dark skin tones. I am always disappointed to see a limited range of shades because all ladies deserve to indulge in a good BB cream! :)
Promo photo for Clinique BB Cream

2) Smashbox: Camera Ready BB Cream SPF 35
I recently spotted Smashbox's BB Cream at Sephora here in Toronto, and was quick to grab a sample. I opted for "Light" (the second lightest of 4 available shades), and am hoping to test-run the formula soon! Camera Ready BB Cream is slightly more expensive than Clinique's offering at $39 USD (approximately $50 CAD at Sephora), and is encased in a sleek black squeeze tube. Smashbox boasts that this product is the "5-in-1 secret for achieving flawless skin", as it multitasks as a moisturizer, primer and sunscreen while it masks imperfections and controls oil. Taken together, these 5 benefits work in tandem to produce a "glowing, ethereal look". Hey, who wouldn't want to their skin to look beautifully cosmic and angelic? :) Additionally, this product claims to be appropriate for all skin types and to offer buildable coverage (sheer to moderate, based on the density of application).

The Promising: Even though there are only 4 shades to choose from, the options range from Fair to Dark, covering a larger span of skin tones than most BB creams. Plus, with SPF35, it offers a decent amount of sun protection!

The Disappointing: The price of this BB Cream is rather steep. I would not shell out nearly $50 unless it truly lives up to its "ethereal" skin promise!

Promo photo for Smashbox BB Cream

3) Estee Lauder: Day Wear Anti-Oxidant Beauty Benefit Creme SPF 35
This product is also rather pricey (at $38 USD) and comes in 2 shades (light and medium), which are supposed to suit a range of skin tones. It is said to contain a potent combination of Estee Lauder's "super antioxidant complex" and a high SPF to protect skin; in fact, this BB Cream boasts the brand's "most effective antioxidant power ever". An impressive (yet largely untestable) claim, indeed! Aside from the antioxidant overload, Day Wear BB Cream promises a light-weight finish that can be worn alone or under foundation, oil-free hydration and oil control, suitability for all skin types, and the promotion of an "instant even-toned, healthy look". Who doesn't want to achieve a more healthy glow?

The Promising: This BB Cream offers a decent level of SPF protection and the shades (albeit only 2) should make this product suitable for all ladies with fair-to-medium skin tones. Plus, an oil-free formulation makes this an attractive option for those with combination or oily skin types.

The Disappointing:  Again, ladies with darker skin tones will most likely not find a good match with this product. Also, the extreme claims of superlative antioxidant powers is a bit off-putting.

Promo Photo for Estee Lauder BB Creme, from

4) Marcelle: BB Cream (a plain and simple title!)
Marcelle's offering is marketed as a "beauty balm" (rather than "blemish balm", the typical Asian label) with 8-in-1 benefits for the skin. In particular, it is meant to even skin tone, moisturize instantly and over the long term, protect against aging and environmental stressors, promote skin regeneration, mattify and reduce shine, soothe and calm skin, minimize pores and imperfections, and act as a radiance-enhancing makeup base. Phew, that was a mouthful! Additionally, Marcelle claims that their BB Cream is appropriate for any age and every skin type, and is particularly suited to the "needs of Canadian women". It comes in 2 shades that the brand says will be suitable for many skin tones, as the specialized pigments in the product (magically) adapt to your individual shade. This particular product is not yet on market (so I could not find a price), but you'll be able to track it down at your local drugstore as of Feb 6th!

The Promising: Marcelle is one of my favourite skincare lines, particularly because it is affordable, cruelty-free, and suitable for my sensitive, finicky skin. I can only hope that their BB Cream will be likewise wallet- and skin-friendly.

The Disappointing: Again, even if this formula is meant to adapt to your individual shade (which suggests it has a rather sheer finish), the offering of only 2 shades does not bode well for it being suitable for many skin tones. Plus, this product does not appear to offer sun protection, which is super uncommon for a BB Cream. Despite its 8-in-1 claims, the lack of SPF may leave some consumers wanting more out of this product.

Promo pic for Marcelle BB Cream

5) Garnier: Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream SPF 15
Finally, Garnier's contribution to this beauty trend is one that claims to be "Canada's first BB Cream!" I'm not sure just how coveted this title was, but impressive nonetheless! Their Miracle Skin Perfector is offered in 2 shades: Medium Light and Dark Medium, which aim to suit a wide array of skin tones. It boasts 5 major skin benefits, including hydration, treatment of wrinkles and other skin imperfections, sun protection, the evening of skin tone and the promotion of brighter skin. Additionally, it features mineralized colour pigments and the inclusion of vitamin C, a skin care ingredient known for brightening and rejuvenating the complexion. I've spotted this recently at Shoppers Drug Mart, where it costs between $15-20 CAD. Rather pricey for a drug store product, but still more affordable than many similar creams!

The Promising: Being available at Shoppers, this product will be a budget-friendly and easily accessible option for those hoping to test out a BB Cream for the first time. Plus, it includes a shade suitable for medium to dark skin tones, which is more than many other BB Creams can claim!

The Disappointing: With only an SPF of 15, this BB Cream offers much lower sun protection than most others on the market. This would definitely be a weakness for summertime or for those with sun-sensitive or pigmentation-prone skin. Also, with only 2 available shades, it is likely that many ladies won't be able to find an appropriate colour match, no matter how sheer the formula.

Promo Pic for Garnier BB Cream

Well, there you have it! I hope that this overview has given you some insight into how North American companies have formulated and marketed their own westernized versions of BB Cream! All eager to jump on the bandwagon, drug store and high-end brands alike have indeed taken strides to introduce this "miracle" product to Canadian and American audiences. Whether you view these new formulations as breakthroughs in skincare science or merely rip-offs of products that the Asian market has already perfected, hopefully these new offerings will pique your interest in the BB Cream beauty trend. I would love to hear the experiences and opinions of anyone who has tried any of these products!

As always, thanks for reading! :)