Monday, July 6, 2009

Menda Pumps

I was taking off my nail polish the other day and decided I wanted one of those pumps they have in the salon.  After some hunting around, I found out a company called Menda makes some.  I ordered 4 different pumps. (100$

I have some strange aversion to ever pouring anything back into it's original source container so I decided I wanted the pure versions.  (the regular version will allow product to seep back into the container if left in the dish).

I picked up a frosted glass, floral glass, and 2 locking pure-takes (locks for transport).  I decided the pure takes might work well filled with 244 paired with pointy q-tips as a quick makeup mistake fixer/eraser or general all around remover.

I busted out my huge bottle of 244 I bought from alcone (55$ and filled up one of the pure-takes.  To test its leakiness I sealed it into a freezer ziploc and tossed it into my purse (a truly inhospitable location).  Better to test it then take it on a trip somewhere to find it exploded with the 244 contaminating all my makeup. It passes this test with the 244, but I think leakiness of containers is also dependent on what solvent you put inside, so it may not be leak proof with all liquids.  I did not take it on an airplane yet, so I have not tested how resistant it is to pressure.

The 244 in the menda pump works well.  Until now I have always kept my 244 in a small dropper bottle.  It's a little annoying because I have to twist it open and carefully drop the 244 onto the tip of the q-tip. It's also hard to get the tip fully saturated without having some drip off the tip.  With the menda I can pump once, dip the tip of the q-tip in the puddle, and it's ready for use.

One thing that's annoying is that to lock/close the pure-take you have to press the pump down, then twist to lock.  This means you need to clean out the dish after locking it, as the pressing down action will dispense 244 into the dish.  The way I have been dealing with it, is that I press and lock it as I'm using it, so I won't have to have that extra dispense action just to close it.

I also filled one of the glass pumps with garnier fructis mixed with water to see how it would fare as my brush cleaner dispenser (sounds like a weird brush cleaner, but it works well for me).  

I think it's a bit of a mess with the larger brushes since the dish is too small to swish the brushes around in without bubbles/soap streaming down the side.  I think it works better than a regular soap pump because it's easy to pick up the soap onto the brush evenly with the menda. Unfortunately, I have to hold the whole bottle under the sink to rinse out any residue from the dish, or else it dries up into a film of soap, but the water rinses the dish clean, and also cleans up any side dripping happening. I think it works best for small concealer brushes, and eyeliner brushes which are the ones I wash after every use.  Overall I haven't found anything I think works better except maybe my ginger grating dish, but I use that mostly for large puffy brushes, and I still have to pump the soap into the dish, and try to get it foaming with water properly before I dip my brush in, or I risk getting un-foamed soap stuck deep in the brush.

I used the other glass pump for my nail polish remover, and it works as expected, but I think this is one of the most common uses for it, so nothing novel about the fact that it works well.

Visually, I think the plastic pumps look better than the glass ones.  Somehow, even though I'd think glass looks better than plastic, the glass ones still look 'cheaper' strangely enough. Plus, they aren't as portable.  

Something worth noting is that the pure versions have this little mushroom nub in the center, so if you would like to dispense liquid straight into something, like a sponge or something, the regular version may work better because with the nub in the way, a rounded bottom sponge cannot be dipped into the dish.  I might pick one of them up to try this.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Big Compressors

I recently bought a Airbrush Depot TC-196 (169$, and an Iwata Hammerhead Shark compressor (1056$

The TC is an oil-less dual piston compressor with a 1gallon tank and weighs 16lbs.

The Shark is a oil-bath compressor with a 1.5gallon tank and weighs in at a whopping ~50lbs.

I decided I wanted something quiet, and the tcp global website says the TC was quiet, only 59db! it says.  The thing is LOUD, but its not really the volume that bothers me, it's the quality of the sound, which is very grating, and pulsing and grinding.  The machine also lets off a loud bursting hiss when it's finished compressing to release the air from the piston chambers.

It's fairly light, but really ugly.  The machine comes with PTFE tape, and is very airtight (maintained pressure over a week).  The compressor ships with the regulator separate, so it does take a tiny amount of assembly, but no big deal, but there are no directions.

The compressor easily reaches 60 psi in a reasonable amount of time (switch position 1) but if you set it to the 80psi switch, it grinds for a long time, and watching the regulator, the needle crawls up painfully slow.

I think the Iwata powerjet pro (379$) would be a much better choice for this size range.  I did receive one in error and returned it, but I did listen to it running, and it sounds more like a loud sewing machine than anything else, and doesn't produce that loud hiss at the end of the cycle. (they sent me the powerjet instead of the custom micron I had ordered).

When I first saw the hammerhead box, I was shocked at the size.  I was also unable to lift it from the box, even straining to my maximum strength.  After getting help removing it from the box, the bag it was in was covered in oil and the bottom of the box had a huge oil soaked mark in it.  The wheels had to be attached, and there is some small assembly required.  Once the wheels were on, I could move it on my own.

The directions were confusing and unclear, and I had to guess what I was doing.  I also had to pour a large bottle of oil into the compressor, and do some initial checks.  I found one of the factory installed joints was leaking air so I had to disassemble it and wrap the joints in teflon tape.

As for sound, although it is called a silent compressor (as opposed to quiet), it is by no means silent.  I read many reviews that compared it to a fridge cycling on and off.  It does have that quality of sound, but it is pretty loud still.  It sounds like a 20 year old dying fridge.  The tank says it is 48db, but I feel like the sound is not of a disturbing quality, so it's not as bad.

When filling, it runs a very short amount of time and shuts off quietly, and the tank lasts a pretty long time before it needs to fill again.

One concern I have is the smell of the air.  Although both have traps on them, the TC has a strange metallic smell.  The Hammerhead has a strange sweet smell.  I am not sure I am comfortable using the air from either of these on my face.

I am still unsure on how I feel about these two compressors.  I think I will keep the hammerhead, as the sound is acceptable to me, and it's too heavy to move!  I may sell off the TC and pick up a powerjet in it's place though.

I have video of all of the compressors mentioned here running, but I don't have a youtube account so I will post the videos when I figure that part out :)

Harder Steenbeck Infinity

After reading some very short reviews I bought two Harder Steenbeck Two in One Infinity brushes. (258$ each.

I also got a set of attachments, and different sized nozzles and needles for each brush. I got 4 additional needle sets (48$ each), 2 mini cups (6.60$ each), 2 fine pressure controls (30$ each), sealing kits (8$ each), 15ml cups (20$ each), 5ml lids (5$ each), 2ml lids (5$ each), 15ml lids (7$ each), side connector sets (25$ each), and 50ml cups (17$ each).

In the photo, the top left is the stuff that comes in the generic set, and everything else shows all the attachments as well as a semi disassembled brush.

What was neat to me was that the cups can be removed.  You can see in one of the photos the threads where you screw the different containers in.  This removes the need to have all sorts of different brushes just because you want to put in a different amount of product. 

Another neat thing is that the nozzles are not screwed onto the brush itself.  It sits in a nozzle cap which is then attached to the brush.  As long as you have long enough fingernails you can remove the nozzle and easily flush it with a wash bottle.  This is similar to the Iwata eclipse which also has a drop in nozzle.  Fast, although messy clean up.

The little weird bullet shaped item is the air pressure control.  I don't think it works as well as the external mac valve from iwata (which I also bought but will review later).  It says it goes from 80-20%, but I feel like the gradient is not gradual at all, there is a point where there is a major drop off in air. 

Overall I think the spray pattern is wonderfully fine, however the tip dries up often (clogs).  Another annoyance is that the nozzle cap is easily knocked while putting the brush tip into a cleaning pot, loosening the cap just enough to upset the nozzle and cause a massive blowback up through the cup.  This has happened to me on more than one occasion (messy!), but short of using pliers there is no way to fully tighten the nozzle cap on.

The two pronged crown cap, while neat, prevents me from back bubbling in the cup, which I do sometimes to mix colors if I do not pre-mix it in a jar.  I also feel like it doesn't quite protect the needle as much as I would like.

A good property of the HS is that at low PSI the brush continues to work well (<10 psi).  I bought some tanning solution (which is very very watery) and attempted to spray it with my iwata hi-line with a 0.2 nozzle using my sparmax dac-25.  The spray invariably produced little spatter marks.  Not so with the HS.  Using the exact same compressor/hose and formula the HS produced a fine even continuous mist.  However, at higher PSI, both brushes work about the same.

Overall, I am pleased with the HS airbrush, and the plethora of attachments makes it fun.  It also looks neat.  It's a very versatile brush.

However for makeup, I am not sure that it is my favorite brush yet, but I will definitely carry it in my kit, especially if I ever work up the courage to actually spray the tanning stuff on myself (which should warrant a review at a later date).  I ordered a custom micron but they sent me the wrong item and I had to return it.  I'd like to review the custom micron in comparison to this one soon, as most of the reviews I've read online pitch these two together.

Also where the photo says 0.18 it should say 0.15! I'm all confused today! Sorry!

SKII AirTouch Foundation

I decided to buy the SKII AirTouch foundation (165$ after being held up at the security line with my luggage all opened and inspected, and having my mini-compressor rubbed down for explosives at the airport because, admittedly, it does look bomb-like :P

I got the color OP3 on the recommendation of the lady at the booth (I went to Saks to get it). I think this color is too pink for my skin tone, but the lady was convinced that the other colors would be too yellow and unattractive.  /shrug.  I am fairly yellow.

(sorry about the pictures, it says op2, but I checked the box and it's really op3)

My first impression is that the unit is fairly large compared to a regular foundation compact, while the pouch that holds the foundation is very small.

The unit is powered by a small camera battery, and while on, makes a very quiet soft pitched whine.

Ive noticed that if you do not pre-spray to clean the nozzle, the spray will not be particularly fine. It makes me think of the pattern you get when you airbrush at a lower PSI then normal.

However if you spray a little bit (5 sec) onto a tissue first, then the spray becomes much more even as the nozzle clears out.  The spray pattern (once cleared) is easily comparable to real airbrushing.

Just judging from the texture of the foundation, I think the makeup behaves like a silicone based product, and so spreads out on the skin easily, and the box says cyclopentasiloxane, so it does contain silicone.

There is a slight slight breeze when using the machine, but because you are supposed to close your eyes while using it, I can't really tell where I'm putting the product.  The spray cone is also not easily visible without light coming from the right angle.  If you look closely at the nozzle though you can see the foundation spraying out. 

SKII claims that the makeup sticks to skin but not hair because it only sticks to things that are moisturized. I haven't found this to be true. I was able to spray the makeup onto my bone-dry scaly unmoisturized legs, it looks terrible on my scaly legs though.  Once moisturized the foundation seemed to blend in much better. As for sticking to hair, it didn't stick to my eyebrows enough to give it that furry "glow" but I have almost no hair, in general, so I may not be a good subject to test this on.

The coverage is medium at best, it won't cover major discoloration or moles or the like.  The coverage is comparable to temptu s/b but I think the texture is superior.

Another thing to note is that the spray that comes out of the machine is very very thin/fine.  This means to achieve the same level of coverage as airbrushing you must use the unit for a longer period of time.  I would say it takes about 6 times as long, but we're talking seconds, so its not actually a real big difference. 

The benefit of a thin spray is that you cannot make blotchy mistakes. Over the course of 30 seconds you can easily move the unit in many passes over your face ensuring a very even coat.

That said, the unit is completely portable, supremely easy to use and produces decent results, fast.  I had read some reviews that said the makeup took a really long time to dry, but I didn't notice that.  I didn't spray it longer then recommended though.

It's got excellent water resistance, but I didn't feel like it lasted though the day.  My face looks more or less normal after wearing it for a full day. It's a good choice for a natural glowing look at opposed to the hyper-perfect look airbrushing gives.

Overall, I think it's an excellent choice because it fits in my purse with none of the inconveniences of airbrushing.  It will not replace airbrushing for me however, as you are stuck to one color and one formula with the airtouch, but for travel, its definitely the way to go over lugging along a whole airbrush system (unless you are going to a wedding or something!)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sparmax DAC-25 Case Mod

I recently bought a Iwata Hammerhead Shark compressor (huge) and had bought a whole pile of hoses and connectors trying to decide which one I like best.

One of these hoses was a short plastic coil hose, and I thought, wow, this hose would be just perfect with my mini compressor.

Unfortunately, the sparmax dac-25 hose connection on the compressor is some kind of plastic non-standard format. This means that you can't really use any standard airbrush hose.  So, I decided it was time for a case mod.

I decided that while I was at it, I would install a switch on the side of the compressor as well.  

WARNING! The rest of this post is a teeny tiny bit technical, so if you don't really know how to use a soldering iron, you might just want to look at the pictures :)

Since I stand my compressor on it's side wedged between two dividers in my makeup case, I cannot access the main power switch, not to mention the sparmax dac-25 has a weird power scheme which requires you unplug the battery/ac adapter when not in use to avoid power drain.  

The power from the main battery connection is diverted to two main circuits, the LED, and the actual motor.  The LED circuit is always connected if the unit is plugged in.  The motor circuit is controlled by the main power switch.  This means that regardless of the switch position, the LED will always be draining the battery if it's plugged in.  While LEDs use a very small amount of electricity, it seems pointless to me to have them on two different circuits.

I decided on two main mods.  I decided to change the connection on the compressor to a quick disconnect, and add in a flip switch near the power receptacle.

First, I found a washer/spacer at lowes that would fit my quick disconnect attachment, then I drilled out a hole in the plastic right where the old connector was, exactly big enough for the threaded end of the quick disconnect to fit. I then attached the spacer and screwed on a plastic hose converter, and plugged the plastic hose into it. 

I then drilled out a very small hole next to the power receptacle, and screwed in a flip switch.  I used a desoldering pump to detach the two wires from the positive terminal on the power receptacle, and attached them to one end of my switch, then soldered the other end of the switch back to the positive terminal.

Put it all back together, and voila! I can now use any hose I want, and remove the hose quickly and easily so I can close my case :)

This does make my original sparmax dac-25 hose that came with it, useless, as it only has that non-standard plastic threading, but I think i'll keep it around for parts.

I did breadboard some alternative ideas, but I think the only other one I am really considering is using some limiters and maybe a three-way switch so I could have, off, full power and half power. Not too sure on the usefulness of this, but it's an idea. I checked out some rotary switches on mcmaster, and digikey, but they are all too large to fit into the limited space available inside the case.


I decided to also alter my other sparmax dac-25 which came with my OCC set I bought a while ago.   It's white instead of the temptu's black, but is otherwise the same.  I added a picture journal of the steps I took.

I also shaved down the plastic end of the hose and screwed on the quick connect nib so the hose is still useable with the compressor.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sonia Kashuk Blending Sponge

I bought the Sonia Kashuk Blending Sponge from target for 10$.

It comes in a smaller plastic canister than the Beauty Blender, and it has a more customized holding insert. The Beauty Blender Sponge is just wedged into a cut out, and you must push the Beauty Blender out instead of pull, to avoid scratching it with the plastic. The Sonia Kashuk sponge sits in a molded plastic cavity.

While dry, the Sonia Kashuk sponge is larger, however it does not really gain size while wet, and so when both are wet, is it significantly smaller.

The Sonia Kashuk sponge is also much more dense than the Beauty Blender, particularly so while both are wet. The Sonia Kashuk sponge has a small "waist" in the center, otherwise the shapes are very much the same.

Personally, I prefer the Sonia Kashuk sponge because I use sponges primarily for blending in my concealer, for which I prefer a more firm sponge which allows me more exact control, especially in the inner lower corner of my eyes. The Beauty Blender does better for applying full face foundation due to it's large size while wet.

Washing the Sonia Kashuk sponge was easy, it did not bleed any colors, and exhibited no smell. The Beauty Blender had a light smell when I first washed it. I didn't read anything on the packaging to indicate the Sonia Kashuk sponge has any antimicrobial treatment, so no comment there. It does indicate that is it a non-latex sponge.

Regardless of price, I prefer the Sonia Kashuk sponge because I prefer the higher density and the fine control it affords me while using the smaller tip. While wet, the Beauty Blender gets quite soft and squishy. The cheaper price is a perk as well, but in the grand scheme of things, the price difference is not really that much.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Beauty Blender Sponge

I decided to buy the 2 pack beauty blender to give it a try. My intial thoughts upon opening it...this is so not worth 30$... It is two small pink sponges in a plastic case. The sponges are firm, and fit nicely in my hand. I can see the machine marks where the sponge was cut into this shape. It seems like it was cut radially.

For comparison I currently use Alcone sponges. The Beauty Blender is a little more dense, and seems more durable, and bubble sizes are larger. The tip is nicely rounded, it is very uniform and it's pretty high quality.....for a sponge... It's larger than the Alcone sponge as well.

I decided to try cutting one of my alcone sponges into a similar shape. A pair of scissors and 5 minutes later, I had a rough approximation of a tear shaped sponge. The Alcone sponges are less dense however, so it doesn't hold a tip well. Maybe a more dense sponge would fare better.

I used both sponges to put on concealer and they seem about the same.

After washing, the Beauty Blender increases in size more than the Alcone sponges, and it does squeeze most of the loose water easily. It also seems to have a more dense jelly center when squeezed firmly. I suppose this could be for support. It does not seem entirely homogenous throughout, but I'm not willing to cut the sponge in half. Maybe right before I throw it away when it begins to get ratty.

My Alcone sponges come out to 21 cents each, beauty blenders are between 15-20 dollars a piece, making it at least 71X more expensive than standard sponges.
I found that the beauty blender works better wet for me than dry. I cut my creme foundation into a small amount of lotion and used the wet sponge to apply it very thinly. It does a very good job of this, with the larger size while damp, and rounded shape. It's very efficient too as well, due to it's size, but still has the ability to get into the corners of my eyes with the small tip.
I'm not sure how well this will work for really full coverage, since for me, full coverage invariably looks somewhat caked at close range on my dry skin.
I would prefer to use this sponge as opposed to my regular ones, since it is better, imo, but while washing it, it does release bright pink into the soap/water and I'm not sure thats so good. I'm also not so sure about the durability of the sponge, which would effect how costly it is. I would prefer to wash the beauty blender after every use which could increase the rate of wear and tear (I don't like using dirty sponges).
I don't really like washing sponges so with my alcone sponges, I use a new one every time. I also use them to clean off my makeup when I use cream makeup removers. I will have to determine how much trouble washing the beauty blender will turn out to be. It is pretty quick, so I may make up for the washing time in application time.
Overall, I think if you really like using sponges and don't mind washing, the Beauty Blender is a higher quality nicely shaped sponge, and it's not prohibitively expensive.
I will continue to use the beauty blenders until they break down, and will consider if I would like another at that time. For now, I'm not sold enough to stockpile.
I have also read about a similar item at target by sonia kashuk, so I will be checking that sponge out as well.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Creme Foundation Round-Up

So, a while ago I went on a Creme Foundation binge.

I bought colors from Graftobian, Joe Blasco, RCMA, and Cinema Secrets.

In terms of general formulation, Graftobian and Joe Blasco both contain Petrolatum. RCMA and Cinema Secrets use vegetable oil as the base.

Graftobian and Joe Blasco are more similar to each other. Graftobian is the least creamy, but also the easiest to mix with other bases. Unfortunately it doesn't set very well, and creases easily over the course of the day. I also find that it oxidizes the least of the lot (darkens the least) so what you see right when you finish putting on your make up is what you get a few hours later. On the plus side, it is the cheapest, and has a very good color selection for oriental skin. If only using sheer cover, this one works decently well, since creasing is not a major concern, and it spreads very well. It doesn't look very good with full coverage, it's fairly shiny/greasy, and once powdered, can look somewhat built up. For colors, Vixen is a close match for me, if a bit too ashy/grey. Ingeune mixed with Sunlit Linen is almost a perfect match for my skin. Buttermilk and Temptress are probably the next best matches, although those carry a bit more red.

I like Joe Blasco for it's "yellowness". All the foundations always have too much red/orange for me, but not Joe Blasco. I have the golden olive line, and this stuff has the least amount of coral tones out of all the foundations I have. The foundation spreads decently well, but tends to get cakey pretty easily. You really have to be careful to spread and blend this foundation well. it also creases a bit, so you really have to set it with powder. I found silica to be insufficient, and had to use RCMA no color powder to get it to stop sliding around. Poor in the durability department.

Both Joe Blasco, and Graftobian transfer on just about everything that touches my face.

RCMA is a little bit "crumbly" out of the pot, but once it warms up and you work it a bit, it does become more creamy. I find RCMA to be too reddish in general for my skin. KO1 works well for me as an undereye concealer though, with it's slightly orangish hue (compared to my skin which is very fair, yellowish cream color). It sits on skin really well and doesn't budge once it's on there. It required only a light dusting of power to set. It does crease, but is only noticeable on a close up inspection in the mirror at the end of the day, I think this level of creasing is unavoidable. Overall, my favorite of the lot if only they had the right color for me! Shinto 1 is both too dark, and too ruddy for me. RCMA is the most ruddy of the lot I have.

Cinema secrets is a little more spreadable than RCMA, while being roughly the similar. It sets very well, and doesn't crease too badly. It transfers more then RCMA but I find it to be acceptable. It's worth the ease of spreading. The bummer is IT SMELLS!! They have some really strong fragrances added to the creme, and when I open my palette I get hit with this really strong smell. I do not like it. It doesn't stink...but why would you add fragrance to a foundation......why? As for color selection, it's decent. The 300 line is good for me. 301 is very light, and peachy yellow, and I find 302-65a to be a somewhat ashy grey yellow. I was more looking for a creamy yellow, but those two are acceptable. 304-32 is a pinky toned yellow, and is also acceptable. I have a few of the yellowish 400 lines, but they are too red.

For price, Joe Blasco is the most expensive at 23$ for 0.3oz. Then Cinema Secrets 20$ for 0.5oz. Then RCMA 20$ for 1.0oz, the Graftobian at 10$ for 0.5oz.

Overall I would use RCMA if I could find a color match, but too bad. If I could only keep one of my pots, I would keep my Cinema Secrets 302-65a, since I feel like it carries the best combination of color match, durability, crease resistance, and spreadability. If I have all day to do my makeup and blend and blend and blend, and would have the opportunity to touch up my make up over the course of the day, I would use Joe Blasco for the color. For everyday sheer cover, Graftobian does well cut into moisturizer and just layered on in a very thin coat, but that defeats the purpose of a highly pigmented creme foundation, although I suppose it is a valid use.

I bought....a somewhat large number of colors :) So here are some photos of them to compare.

Monistat Chafing Relief Powder-Gel

After reading many posts saying that this gel works as a good primer, I popped on over to my local Walmart, and picked up a tube. I found it next to the feminine products area.

It cost me 8$ for a 1.5oz. tube.

I've been using just a little dab (about the size of a small pea) to cover my face after I've applied my sunblock and let it set for a while before either airbrushing my foundation or using creme.

It's SMOOOOTHHH in application. It's this weird sensation of your fingers gliding over your skin. It is not oily, just...strangely smooth. It makes me think of those liquid suspended powders that have unusual properties.

I do feel like it creates a nice soft focus effect on my skin. Too bad I immediately cover it up! If I'm not wearing make up (rare) it does make for a really nice fresh clean look. As for it's protective qualities, I've found that it increases the longevity of my airbrush makeup which I just spray lightly over my face. At the end of the day, my foundation at my lip line, and under my chin is still completely there. (I often rest my chin on my hand, and I'm not too careful when I drink to not let the liquid touch my skin).

However, I don't really see a big difference when I wear creme foundation. My creme foundations have oil in them, and also require that I brush/rub my face with a sponge, which could disturb the protective layer from the Monistat gel and render it less effective. It does make application much more smooth however. No real difference in the prevention of creasing around my mouth.

On my eyes, I do feel like it helps hold in moisture, but I'd bet not wearing dry eyeshadow and packing on moisturizing products would help even more. I don't think its particularly effective in this regard compared to other things.

Overall, I'm happy with how it performs, and I think I'll continue using it.

Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentrate

I picked up this moisturizer after reading about it on

It's a little pricey, at 25$ for 2.6fl oz. but I read that it's a good basic moisturizer for very dry skin so I decided to try it.

The ingredients are:

Aqua, Paraffinum Liquidium, Stearic Acid, Glyceryl Stearate, Triethanolamine, Cera Alba, Cetyl Palmitate, Butryospermum Parkii, Phenoxyethanol, Methyl Paraben, Butyl Paraben, Isobutyl Paraben, Ethyl Paraben, Propyl Paraben, Steareth-10. Polyacrylamide, c13-14 Isoparaffin, Laureth-7, Parfum, Propylene Glycol, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Aloe Barbadenis.

It comes in a metal squeeze tube with a push pin seal on the opening.

It seems like pretty basic moisturizer, and it is fairly soothing. It absorbs nicely and doesn't feel greasy despite having mineral oil in it. It also has a very light smell. For the price I don't think I would buy it again. I would probably go for cetaphil or eucerin which also make good basic moisturizers.

Alcone Mixing Palette - Small

I picked up the Alcone Co Mixing palette ( in the small size on my last order of sponges. It's actually quite large.

It's made of clear Lucite, and it comes with blue protective plastic film on both sides. My initial reaction is that the palette is probably machined/cut free hand. I can see little dents and imperfections along the curves. My second reaction is that the edges are raw... By that I mean they have not been edge polished or ground or otherwise sanded down at all! The edges are very rough. Nothing my dremel can't fix with a quick sand/polish, although, for 15$ I'd expect more than a roughly cut piece of plastic.

Besides that, the palette has a very pleasant ergonomic shape and is nicely sized. I probably wouldn't use my metal spatulas to mix on this, but would mostly use it to mix/thin out cremes before applying with a sponge. I prefer to use palettes as a staging ground for my cremes because I don't dip my sponges directly into my pots. I find it more sanitary to put a little dab on my palette with a spatula, work it into the sponge a little bit, and then apply. I'd also use the back of my hand for this process, but I find a palette a little bit nicer, although more of a hassle to clean.

Compared to my stainless steel mixing palette, it's MUCH easier to hold, and I have a firm grip on the palette. It is however too large to fit in my case :P So for now, this gets a spot in my misc basket.

I will add more after I attempt to polish it up with my dremel :)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Airbrush Foundation

I've tried Temptu S/B foundation, Temptu Aqua Foundation (, OCC Skin Foundation (, Dinar Glamour colors (, and Graftobian Glamour Airbrush foundations (

Temptu S/B is a silicone based makeup, and I have to say, I don't like it. The deal breaker is the fact that it's so hard to clean! It gets everywhere, and it's not washable with soap and water, so you have to use solvents to clean it. It reminds me of organic chemistry lab, and needing to use ether to get certain compounds off of stuff. You need to use special airbrush cleaner to flush the color out. If you intend to use silicone and water based make up, I highly highly recommend you use two seperate brushes, and never ever mix the two. Apparently if you use alcohol it gums up. I didn't try.

Not considering the cleanup issue, the S/B does produce a a very dewy (bordering on oily) look. I don't really like it that much, but if you really want a soft focus effect, it does work well for that. Color selection is not so good unless you are into adjusting your own foundation with adjusters. The colors are kinda spattered all over the place, its hard to find a match, or even a place to start while adjusting. It's fairly water resistant, given that it's totally insoluble in water :P It does come off with oil however.

OOC skin is pretty friendly, and they have a rather simplistic color system. Cool/Warm and Dark to Light. My only gripe is that the foundation has NO water resistance at all. A single drop of water to your face, and it immediately dissolves into that drop of water, dry if off and now you have a perfect circle of clean skin :P Easy to clean, but too fragile for me. I bought the OCC ink sealer as well, but it doesn't do much for me.

Temptu Aqua is thicker in consistency and application is very nice, its a teeny tiny bit water resistant... but for the life of me, I cannot find a color that is not really rusty/ruddy! Booooo! Makes a really nice bronzer though, my favorite in fact. The coverage is more sheer.

Dinar also has the strange random spattering color selection going on. The makeup is very thin in consistency and covers very well. It also stays well when you don't use lotion or sunblock underneath it, which I'm not really willing to do. Decent makeup, but the website is ~crappy~ imho :P The makeup is really thin in consistency, and has good coverage, so it comes out of the brush with an ultra fine spray, so blush and contour colors are really hard to apply without making a red splotch :(

Graftobian has the largest color selection of the lot. By FAR. It also has a sensible color scheme, warm, neutral, cool, and lots of in between colors as well. The coverage is moderate, and tends to look a little bit maskish when used for full coverage. It makes a kind of ultra thin plasticy layer on the skin which is not elastic like skin, so when you smile, it crinkles up. It suffers from the same blush/contour problems as Dinar. Decently water resistant.

For now, my favorite is Graftobian (because it actually makes one that matches my skin color), with Temptu Aqua for bronzer/shading and blush. I also have the Graftobian color adjusters, which it is possible to mix colors from, but it's probably too much work considering they already have so many colors to choose from.


After getting a compressor, I bought a few airbrushes to see if it made any difference.

I bought an Iwata Revolution BR, Iwata Hp Hi-Line BH, Iwata Hp Hi-line CH, and a Iwata Eclipse CS.

The Hi-lines come with this little adjuster knob right under the tip to control airflow. It's useful in theory, but I don't really use it, because it's a little small. The BH comes with a 0.2 nozzle, and the CH 0.3 I think. I prefer the smaller cup of the BH, it's easier to clean. The back of the airbrush has a cutaway so you can adjust the needle easily, it also has a little screw on the back so you can adjust the maximum distance you can pull the needle back. It's like a little insurance against letting too much paint out the nozzle by accident.

The revolution is a 0.3 nozzle, and it's really decent, for the price I think. There is no cutaway in the handle, and no needle guide at the back.

The Eclipse has a really large nozzle (comes in 0.5 and 0.35) so the smaller cosmetic compressors cannot drive them, however its probably bad to apply makeup at 30psi, so I'd recommend passing on the 0.5 one, the 0.35 is not bad but it still feels to me like it needs more pressure to drive. Let me know if you have luck with this airbrush applying cosmetics.

Overall I think the BR is the best value for the money since an ultra fine spray is not necessary for foundation...but my favorite is the BH. I like the smaller nozzle.

However for spray tanning (just a little on arms and feet for tan lines, if you are doing a whole body you probably need a spray gun) the CH works well because it holds more AND it has a paint cup cap, so you don't accidentally tip the brush over and spill stuff everywhere (speaking from experience >.<)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Airbrush Compressors

I recently went through an airbrushing phase where I was trying different airbrush foundations and airbrushes, but to use these, one requires a compressor!

I bought a Dinar set (, an Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics set ( , and a Temptu set (

The Dinar compressor is loud, and very grating. It has an air pressure dial (regulator) on the compressor, and it's a fairly small unit. The unit cannot be used with dual action airbrushes, so that's a bit of a bummer (the booklet says it will void your warranty if you do so). It does produce a more continuous flow of air than the temptu/occ compressor (in my subjective opinion, not by any sort of scientific measurement). it's not exactly smooth air, but it's not bad. It also has a airbrush holding loop. The hose is just a rubber one, so it can only use the wedge type connectors, not the standard screw on type.

The Temptu and OCC compressors are the same. They are rebranded sparmax bakery type compressors. They don't really produce good air flow, but they are less noisy, and are very portable. They come with a case, and a battery so it can be operated away from a outlet. The OCC compressor comes with both an AC adaptor and the battery charger. The Temptu version only comes with the battery charger. They both come with the sparmax sp-35 airbrush which is a dual action airbrush, so I assume the compressor can be used with dual action brushes. The brush is decent, but the lever is a little bit jiggly which I don't really like, but that's for a different post :)

Between the two compressors I prefer the Sparmax compressor for a few reasons. I like the fact that it comes with a braided nylon hose, with standard connector. That means I can use any airbrush with it. I also vastly prefer dual action. Most of all, it's important for me that the compressor produce less noise.

However, if noise doesn't bother you, and you don't really prefer dual action brushes, then the Dinar compressor is prettier :) It comes in many colors you can choose.

Getting Started

Recently, I've been reading blogs and reviews online looking for information on creme foundations. I couldn't find most of the information I was looking for, so I decided to blog about it! Maybe all of my purchases and time spent trying products could benefit someone else also looking for the same things I am :)

But first, before you can tell if my blog could be of use to you, I should describe my coloring and skin type.

I am oriental with black hair, and I am fair to fair/medium. I am moderately yellow toned with a little bit of peach undertones. I have dry skin, dry enough to see white flakes on my skin and to flake off when scratched if I am somewhere dry, like Vegas. If I am somewhere very humid, my skin stops scaling, but I still need moisturizer to prevent tightness in my face. I never get pimples, really can't remember the last pimple I ever got. I occasionally get very small white heads that I can squeeze but my pores are extremely small, so most things like biore strips don't help, at all.

I'm in my mid/late 20s and I prefer a more neutral make-up look. I never do the very dramatic editorial style makeup I often see, particularly from fans of M.A.C.