Thursday, 26 November 2009

KOH Rain Forest Nail Polish Review


For all my KOH nail polish swatches: Brand: KOH

I had written a post introducing KOH Cosmetics earlier this month. I admit I was gushing about this brand but hey, what’s not to love?! I love its concept, I love its packaging and I love its wide range of nail products. I’d like to think of it as fresh and different.

I had promised that I would write more about this brand and so, here is my first review of a KOH product, a nail polish that I purchased several months ago. There was a teeny photo of my nails with this Rain Forest nail polish in that first KOH article and so, to compensate for that shamefully almost-microscopic photo, I shall include here larger and clearer images.

Note: I suppose nail polish reviews should be quick and short but since KOH is not yet very known outside of certain countries in West Europe, I’ll do an elaborate review here.

Product
Name: KOH Colours! in Rain Forest
Colour choice: Last I checked, there were 124 colours as there were new releases recently but there could be even more choices now (it’s hard to keep up!)
Volume and Price: 10ml / 0.34 fl oz for €14.95

Packaging
Every KOH Colours! nail polish comes in a case with embroidery and the KOH logo. The case is shut with a press-stud. Inside, under the flap, are two elastic bands to hold a mini nail file. The brush handle is long and narrow and the brush is pretty standard.


Nail file pictured was purchased separately


According to KOH (excerpts, translated)
KOH Colours! are enriched with topaz. This exquisite exclusive gemstone has a crystal-clear brilliance and a unique hardness. Just like topaz, KOH Colours! have a dazzlingly beautiful sparkle and the nail polish is longer protected against damage.

Contents
Rain Forest is a very glossy sap green with a slight yellow undertone.

I mentioned before that I didn't find formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and toluene on the list of ingredients. I've scrutinised the list to the best of my ability (I'm sure you would understand how difficult to read and complicated ingredients lists tend to be). I do see topaz listed somewhere at the bottom of the list.

My thoughts
Packaging
Like I said before, I love the case in which the nail polish bottle comes. It’s basically an oversized liptick case, big enough to hold the tall bottle. I think it’s cool and handy that you can store a mini nail file in there too.


The long brush handle is slightly pinched in towards the top half. I have no problems with this handle shape as the grasp is fine.

Application and Nail Polish Consistency
KOH Colours! nail polishes have a normal nail polish scent. The nail polishes are pigment-heavy. The formula is rather thick and they dry quite fast. That could be a boon or a bane, I suppose.

With this nail polish, one coat would actually be enough. Personally, I don’t prefer this method even though it is less work. You’d need to have a sure, quick and steady hand. Otherwise, the paint job may look uneven and sometimes streaky due to its pretty fast drying time. Yours truly doesn’t have a sure, quick and steady hand, so would rather let the nail polish drain a little from the brush first before applying a moderately thin layer. The second layer can be applied five to ten minutes later. So far, I’ve never needed to apply a third layer. The images below are with two layers of Rain Forest (the second image is with flash photography).

Durability
The topaz in the formula is supposed to increase the hardiness of KOH nail polishes. From my own experience, KOH Colours! nail polishes stay in good condition for averagely three days. But I’m always of the opinion that no matter how great a nail polish is, the durability of a nail polish depends on how dainty you are and how much work you do with your hands, household chores, for example. So, it all depends on personal circumstances.

I’ve recently started using KOH Top Coat Bamboo as a protective layer. I will give Top Coat Bamboo more time to prove its worth before doing a review on it.

Conclusion
I’m happy with the quality of its nail polishes. It’s very pigmented and with the thick formula, you’ll never encounter issues with having to paint four to five layers! I don’t know how you feel about green-coloured nail polishes but I sure love Rain Forest! And I’m not someone who’s usually that crazy about the colour green. I was feeling adventurous the day I purchased it.

KOH Cosmetics has positioned itself as a luxury brand and the beautiful packaging attests to that. I think KOH Colours! nail polishes would make great gifts especially because every KOH nail polish bottle comes with a lovely case which you can use for many purposes. You don’t necessarily need to use it only to keep the KOH nail polishes!

To expand on what I mentioned previously and as an indicator, the price of a bottle of KOH nail polish is €1.00 dearer than a bottle of OPI (here in the Netherlands anyway) but I admit you do get more volume in an OPI bottle. On a per bottle basis, KOH is about a quarter less expensive than the nail polishes of other luxury brands like Chanel. Per ml basis, I think they work out to be almost the same, perhaps KOH being a tad less expensive and you do walk away with a beautiful casing. I try to take advantage of the occasional deals offered by the beauty stores.

At the moment, KOH nail polishes are available in upmarket beauty stores in only several countries in West Europe.

If you’re curious about this brand, please read my previous post on KOH Cosmetics. You may also want to have a look at the KOH Cosmetics website but as mentioned before, the Dutch version is more extensive than the English version. So, do let me know if you have any questions.

Next month, I will share with you my recent visit to nail polish heaven. Yes, I said heaven!

Update
You might also be interested to see KOH Rain Forest with the KOH Matt top coat.

Further reading:
All my features on KOH nail polishes.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

ELLIS FAAS: ELLIS EYES Creamy Eyes Review


I found myself standing outside Skins Cosmetics the other day. I said to my husband, “I’ll just pop in here to have a quick look at the ELLIS FAAS products.”

“Pop in”. “Quick look”. That was a terribly bad choice of words. I ended up spending almost an hour in there and emerging with two ELLIS FAAS products and a NARS eyeshadow. Aiyaiyai!!

Well, what’s done is done. So, here are my thoughts on ELLIS FAAS’ Creamy Eyes from the recently launched ELLIS EYES range.

Product
Name: ELLIS FAAS – ELLIS EYES Creamy Eyes No. E104
Description: Liquid eyeshadow
Colour choice: The Creamy Eyes range is available in a total of seven colours
Volume and Price: 2.5ml / 0.085 US fl oz for €26.00

According to ELLIS FAAS (excerpts)
With its quick-drying properties and special blend of flower and coffee extracts, Creamy Eyes provides coverage without heaviness. Turn to Creamy Eyes for shaping and contour. Use it like a thick pencil around the eye or in the eyelid crease, or cover the entire eyelid using the built-in ELLIS FAAS Creamy Eyes brush, then fade the edges with the fingertips. For extra drama, experiment with layering multiple colours of Creamy Eyes.

Packaging
Comes delivered in a box
Length of the ELLIS FAAS pen: 16 cm / almost 6.5 in
Description: Silver casing with the bold ELLIS FAAS logo. Since most of the ELLIS FAAS products are housed in similar pens, each product can be identified by checking the base of the pen. There, protected by see-through materal are the colour and item number.

It has a pull-out pen cover and the turn-click mechanism is at the bottom of the pen. The Creamy Eyes range has a flat-ish brush applicator. The brush applicator portion rather resembles that of YSL’s Touche Éclat.

Contents
Description: Fluid eyeshadow with a thick consistency. Colour E104 is a dark brown shade with the slightest hint of khaki green.

Swatch in daylight
My thoughts
Packaging
As mentioned in my previous ELLIS FAAS post, the ELLIS FAAS pens look extremely sleek and luxurious. The pen feels light in the hand. The pen cover sits very tightly, so you do need to pull quite hard. The turn-click mechanism is sturdy. When using the pen for the first time, you might need to turn it many times before the fluid eyeshadow shows through the bristles of the brush applicator. Be careful not to get over-enthusiastic with turning though or you might end up with too much eyeshadow on the applicator! For subsequent uses, only one or two turn-clicks would be sufficient.

Application
There are two ways to apply this eyeshadow, in my humble opinion:

1. Use the brush applicator to apply the fluid eyeshadow directly onto the eyelids.
2. Dab the brush applicator on the back of your hand (thereby transferring the liquid eyeshadow onto the hand) and then apply the eyeshadow using the brush applicator or another brush. This method gives better control over the amount of eyeshadow on the brush.

Method 1 involves direct application, so there is less wastage of eyeshadow.

Method 2 is good if you want more control during application. However, you will end up with some wasted eyeshadow on your hand.

Ellis Faas also recommends using the finger tips to feather out the edges. I find this step to be essential with this fluid eyeshadow as it does tend to create hard edges. Be warned that you will end up with coloured fingertips as well, so wipe off with a piece of tissue before it dries!

Pigmentation
Amazing! This is definitely a wysiwyg eyeshadow. The colour is intense and doesn’t fade easily.

Texture
The eyeshadow comes out liquid but it dries like powder. Despite its apparent thick and heavy consistency in liquid form, it feels light and velvety smooth once dried.

Durability
From my experience, once the fluid comes out of the pen, you’d have about two minutes to play around with it. By that, I mean apply, adjust, smudge and feather. Longer than that, it dries and settles on your skin (or as Ms Faas would put it: ‘melt into the skin’). At this point, the remaining bits of half-dried eyeshadow on the brush applicator may still be used for some final touch-ups or for less intense colouring. I like to use those last bits to line my lower lash line.

Compared to a gel liner, the Creamy Eyes does seem easier to work with as it’s got a slightly longer drying time.

Once Creamy Eyes dries, this baby will not budge. I’ve tried rubbing a swatch with my dry fingers and it stayed put. Water has no or very little effect on it. I would bravely walk out in the rain with this eyeshadow. Long-lasting it definitely is.

I was also most impressed to find the eyeshadow intact after more than seven hours. No weird creasing! That’s quite a feat considering the kind of eyelids I have.

Photos taken almost eight hours apart

To wash off, you may use normal eye makeup remover but it might take much more time and effort. So, I recommend using oil-based eye makeup removers.

Possible Uses
I’ve been experimenting with this eyeshadow using the suggestions by ELLIS FAAS. Here’s how versatile Creamy Eyes is:

1. Create a smokey eye look with a sweep of the Creamy Eyes all over the lid but with less intensity on the inner corner.

2. Create depth by applying and smudging the eyeshadow on the outer corner of the eyes.


3. Line the eyes using the brush applicator or another eyeliner brush or a combination of both.

Note: The eye images above are a deliberate mixture of images taken in various light conditions, including flash photography. This will hopefully give a better impression of the nature of the Creamy Eyes eyeshadow and its shade. No other eye products were used besides some light neutral-coloured eyeshadows for Look No. 2 and a touch of mascara for all three looks.

Conclusion
Whoa! I don’t know what you’ve cooked up in your kitchen, Ms Faas, but I’m really loving Creamy Eyes! The fluid consistency, the pen plus brush applicator and the messy fingers do take some getting used to but hey, practice makes perfect. This eyeshadow does live up to the claims made by ELLIS FAAS. Creamy Eyes seems to tick all the right boxes:

· great pigmentation
· drying time is just right to allow for toggling with the eyeshadow
· long-lasting
· no creasing
· multi-purpose (especially the darker colours)

I would have liked to purchase another ELLIS EYES eyeshadow in another shade if my budget had allowed it. I kind of wish now that I had also purchased the Creamy Eyes No. E103, the darkest shade of the seven colours (a black/very dark grey shade). Unfortunately, it came down to a choice between another ELLIS EYES product and an ELLIS LIPS product. I went for ELLIS LIPS for variety’s sake. Review to follow later. If you’re curious to find out more, please visit the ELLIS FAAS website.

“I thought you were only going in to take a look,” said my husband not too happily when we stepped out of Skins Cosmetics.

I smiled sheepishly and said, “Let’s go to La Place and have a piece of yummy Brussels chocolate cake and a nice cup of coffee. You look like you need it.”

Thursday, 12 November 2009

ELLIS FAAS Cosmetics


Those of you in the know would have no doubt already heard of Ellis Faas and are probably already using her products. If you’ve never heard of this name, well, it’s still not too late.

Ellis Faas is a Dutch makeup artist extraordinaire who has had an extensive career working with just about every who’s who in the fashion and beauty industry. Think Mario Testino and Michelangelo di Battista, Karl Lagerfeld and Jean-Paul Gaultier. Her impressive portfolio also includes work for fashion magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar and ad campaigns for MAC, Chanel and the memorable Trésor with Kate Winslet.....just to name a few.

Ms Faas has had training in both professional photography and makeup, in particular in the area of special effects, in Amsterdam and Paris. She worked in London for several years, doing makeup for music videos and also for medical inserts recreating skin diseases using her talent and training in special effects. Upon her return to Amsterdam, she ran a successful portrait studio in which she put her talent in both makeup and photography to full use.

A major career breakthrough came one day in the form of Mario Testino. As fate would have it, Testino handpicked her to be his makeup artist when he came to Amsterdam for his photo shoot for L’Uomo Vogue. This collaboration turned out to be the first of many collaborations with Testino. One thing led to another and she was soon introduced to Karl Lagerfeld who made Ms Faas the chef de cabine for his Fendi fashion show. She suddenly found herself in charge of the makeup for 60 models. Needless to say, her career went from strength to strength thereafter.



For a long time already, Ms Faas had been experimenting a great deal with creating colours and concocting makeup formulae in her kitchen. Thanks to her background in special effects makeup, Ms Faas came upon the concept of creating makeup using colours that we see in the human body. Just when you thought that the beauty industry might have run out of truly original ideas to keep us ladies enchanted, along comes Ellis Faas with the Human Colours concept.

Everything that exists in the human body – anything from blood and veins to freckles and bruises and even the ear and the palm of your hand – has been used as inspiration to create the shades for her makeup line. Ms Faas’ point of view is that because such colours already exist in the human body, these very same colours as makeup would also always suit people of all ages and skin tones. Colours that will never be out-of-date or out-of-fashion – Ms Faas doesn’t believe in coming out with different colours every season.

In February this year, she launched the first phase of her high-end Human Colours makeup with a line of lip products called ELLIS LIPS. ELLIS LIPS is available in three textures – Creamy, Milky and Glazed. There are a total of 27 lip shades to choose from but her pièce de résistance has to be her ELLIS RED (right), a true blood-red lip colour that is available in all three textures. Early this month, Ms Faas launched the second phase of her line with ELLIS EYES (eyeshadows, mascaras and eyeliners) and ELLIS SKIN (foundations, concealers and blushes). There is still more to come in the future.

What’s unique about ELLIS FAAS products is that they are all in liquid form (with the exception of a powder foundation) and are packaged in very sleek silver bullet-shaped pens. Sleek at its very ultimate, if you ask me. The pen’s design was the result of a collaboration between Ms Faas and industrial designer Arnout Visser. Due to this uncomplicated shape, the display area for ELLIS FAAS products always looks distinctive, neat and streamlined. It beckons you to take a closer look because it’s so different from the rest of the pack. One would be forgiven for even thinking it is a display rack for gleaming luxury fountain pens!

Ms Faas has also come up with an ELLIS HOLDER which is like a canister in which you can store several ELLIS FAAS products. There is space to insert the different pens for the foundation and a combination of the eye/lip/cheek products. As you will see in the image below, in the cover, there is space for the powder foundation and a mirror too. This is way too cool. The ELLIS HOLDER certainly wouldn't look out of place in the hand of some vain makeup-lovin’ android in a sci-fi movie.


The ELLIS FAAS website is certainly worth a visit as it is chock full of information. On the homepage, you would be welcomed with soothing piano music beautifully played (and composed) by Ms Faas’ own daughter, Flavia. Look carefully at the background of the webpage. The healthy pink that you see is an image of human skin! Very appropriate for the Human Colours concept, I must say. Explore further and you will find that the swatches for her products are not flat one-dimensional and usually inaccurate colours. Instead you will find the various colours of ELLIS LIPS on real pouty lips and those of ELLIS EYES on real eyelids. As if that wasn’t enough, ELLIS LIPS can also be viewed with three skin tones – Caucasian, brown and Asian. Given her professional background, it was only logical that Ms Faas did the makeup for these models and shot the visuals herself.

By the way, I was amused when I read that ELLIS FAAS got asked so often if they tested on animals (which they don’t) that they decided to patent their witty slogan: Only Tested on Supermodels.

In the Netherlands, ELLIS FAAS is available at Skins Cosmetics. Please check the website to find out if the products are already available where you are. If they are not yet available in your country, don't fret as ELLIS FAAS has an online shop which also ships internationally.

I purchased a couple of ELLIS FAAS products last week. Resistance was, oh, futile. Why keep lemming if the products were within arm’s reach, eh? More on that very soon.

All images are owned by ELLIS FAAS.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Blog, and You Shall Be Nominated and Tagged II


Well, it’s that time again. Several lovely bloggers have either kindly included me in their list of nominees for a blogger award of have tagged me. Thank you, ladies, for being so thoughtful. [Hugs]

First up, I was nominated for an award by twinsouls888 of Beauty Inside and Out for the Gorgeous Blogger Award. twinsouls888, I really appreciate that this award is coming from you from all the way in the Philippines! It’s a gorgeous feeling, I must say. Salamat!

Another beautiful blogger who nominated me recently was Madeleine Bouquet of A Bouquet of Beauty. Madeleine Bouquet is such a lovely name, in my opinion. To those who don’t know, it’s actually the maiden name of her great-great grandmother. Anyway, Madeleine Bouquet, it was really sweet of you to have thought of me for the One Lovely Blog Award. Thank you!

To all the ladies whose blogs I follow, I’d like to pass these two awards on to you.

Last but not least, I was tagged by Naomi of Expressions of You to do a My Favourite Mascaras tag. Sorry for taking so long with this tag, Naomi. The truth is, I’m drowning in mascaras and I’ve been having a really hard time making my mind up about these magic wands. Bear in mind too that my history with mascaras goes back only a little over a year, a rather short span of time compared to many of you. I’ve ended up with a very short list as these are the ones which I can say with conviction that they are good. I’m still testing out other mascaras and in time, I will write about them if they deserve the credit.

So, here’s my very quick take on this:

Volumising:
Maybelline Volum’ Express Turbo Boost (Waterproof)

Defining and Lengthening:
Maybelline Volum' Express Turbo Boost (Waterproof)
GOSH Intense Lashes Lengthening Mascara
L'Oréal Double Extensions

Curling:
Maybelline Volum’ Express Turbo Boost (Waterproof)
Rimmel Sexy Curves

You should be able to guess by now that Maybelline Volum’ Express Turbo Boost (Waterproof) is my favourite and most reliable mascara. I used this mascara for my wedding and well, it didn’t let me or my lashes down and that should say a lot!

In passing on this tag, it would be great if the following ladies would reveal their favourite mascaras too:

Danielle of The Diva’s Polish
em of too much blush
LipGlossGossip
Madeleine Bouquet of A Bouquet of Beauty
twinsouls888 of Beauty Inside and Out

I hope to read your posts on this. However, I’d understand if you can’t do this tag due to time constraints or if the topic doesn’t fit the theme of your blog. No worries.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

KOH Cosmetics


Take a look at this.
Me thinks it’s a cool logo. At fleeting first glance, it looks rather like an elaborate Chinese or Japanese character, doesn’t it?

When I first saw this logo on some Zen-looking black packaging in a beauty store (in Dutch, we call such a store parfumerie) a couple of years ago, I thought: Japanese brand. I picked up one of the black boxes with simple white prints to have a read. It was a brand of nail care products. The explanation was in English, Dutch, French, German and Japanese. By then, I was convinced it was a Japanese brand targeted for the European market and a quick peek at the price tag told me that it was a luxury brand.

I didn’t think much about it after that but I did regularly notice the products whenever I visited a parfumerie. That’s the irony of being eye-catching just by looking simple! So, one day, I made it a point to check out its website. I was curious about the origins of this brand and guess what I found out: It’s a Dutch brand! How curious that I got it so wrong. Aaah, the power of brand perception! Kudos to the creators!

Ladies, let me introduce you to KOH Cosmetics. KOH was founded in 2002 in the Netherlands by Margreet van Roemburg who was already a very successful entrepreneur. In the early 1980s, she had launched a brand of hand and nail care products called Herôme. Herôme, whose products are in the mid-price range and are easily accessible in the market, proved to be a success. However, Ms van Roemburg wanted to push the envelope and so she launched a premium brand of hand and nail care products incorporating the influences of Japanese lifestyle and rituals, which must explain for the Japanese-ness of the brand image. Expertise from Japan was enlisted in the creation of the products and that was how KOH Cosmetics came into being.

The philosophy behind this exclusive brand is that there is always a strong bond between body and spirit. Our outward appearances reflect our inner emotions and that’s why there can only be pure and true beauty if there is harmony between the body and the soul. Looking beautiful on the outside isn’t complete without also having good health and feeling positive and self-assured. One needs to set time aside to relax and pamper oneself. Self-indulgence – that’s been a very popular theme among brands lately.

This is what KOH says about its role in helping to create harmony:

KOH contributes to your physical well-being through its very specialised and highly effective products.

KOH contributes to your mental well-being through its velvety textures, heavenly fragrances and pure harmonious pampering.

KOH was initially focused on hand, nail and cuticle care products. Gradually, its assortment of products was broadened to include a line of hand and nail care products for men called KOH For Men (right) and a line of body care products called KOH Body Sensations (below). This range of luxurious body care products, also based on the same aforementioned inspiration and philosophy, carries extracts of the Japanese cherry blossom as a central ingredient.

The brand also had several nail colour products but they were mainly neutral colours for a French manicure and straight basic colours like red and black. All that changed early this year when KOH made the leap into the colourful world of nail polishes with KOH Colours! which consisted of a collection of 36 vibrant shades (below).

Yours truly was totally oblivious to this (as usual!) until a couple of months ago when I spotted the display of colourful KOH nail polishes juxtaposed against the minimalistic black and white boxes of its hand and nail care products. Curiousity got the better of me this time and I bought two shades. One was called Rain Forest, a glossy shade of sap green (right) and the other was a limited edition turquoise colour called Douglas. The latter was specially developed by KOH for the parfumerie chain called Douglas whose corporate colour is, yes, turquoise.

I was very impressed with the quality of the nail polishes and in the weeks that followed, I purchased two more KOH products, this time from the nail care range.



L-R: KOH Colours! in Douglas and Rain Forest, Essential Nail Serum, Nail Hardener Bamboo

I would have written a post about this much sooner but I had an issue with one of the nail polish bottles that I had bought. I brought it up with KOH but, unfortunately, the heavenly gods of smooth communication had taken leave and it all turned out to be quite a fuss. I will of course spare you the details. My issue with the bottle turned out to be more the fault of the parfumerie. KOH was however very nice to send a few products to appease this by-then disgruntled customer. Bedankt, KOH.

You might be interested to know that the KOH Colours! nail polishes contain the gemstone topaz which according to KOH, gives a crystal clear gloss and a unique hardness to the nails. Scrutinising the list of ingredients for the KOH Colours! nail polishes, I didn’t find formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and toluene on the list. I don’t think I know enough yet to be able to say the same for its other products.

I’m pretty sure you would have noticed from the photo the lovely packaging that came with the products that I bought. I’m a real sucker for cool packaging and well, I must admit that KOH’s packaging has been a big attraction factor for me. Every Colours! nail polish comes in a beautiful case with embroidery. The case looks pretty much like a lipstick holder, only bigger in size to accommodate the bottle of nail polish. Is that awesome or is that awesome?

Price-wise, KOH is indeed on the higher end. Its nail polishes retail here for a little above the price of OPI nail polishes but are less expensive than those of luxury brands like Chanel and Dior. That’s not bad considering the impressive quality of KOH’s nail polishes.

At the moment, KOH products are exclusively available in upmarket beauty stores in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. Further information can be found on the KOH website but please be warned that the English version is less extensive than the Dutch version.

Do stay tuned. You will no doubt be hearing more from me about KOH Cosmetics.

Update: Here's my review of the KOH Rain Forest nail polish.