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!)