I am great at a lot of things in life. I'm a really good costume designer, if I do say so myself. I make a mean macaroni & cheese. I can run laundry circles around anyone. And if you need to buy a new car, you couldn't find anyone better to take to the dealer than me.
But I am no beauty writer. I couldn't do a proper cat-eye if my very life depended on it. Yes, I manage to somehow use ten different products every time I DO wear makeup, but the goal is to never look like I'm actually wearing any makeup. I usually subscribe to the bold lips + clean face school of beauty, both out of laziness and because I rub my eyes all day long -- making eye makeup almost impossible to wear.
But some lovely, misguided publicist (I literally know two of them in the whole country, and they are surely sorry about it) recently sent me some RIDICULOUSLY gorgeous things from Japonesque's brand new makeup line. The packaging alone makes the products worth it:
According to the press release, no two compacts are the same. (This means that each compact is, by default, one-of-a-kind.)
Japonesque has long been known for their professional grade brushes -- I personally own and use this angled eyeshadow one. It's an engineering marvel. It brought a stop to my habit of cramming my eyeshadow brush into my eyeball after bonking the end of it into the mirror every time I leaned in way close.
The brushes that came in my care package were of the same beautiful quality that Japonesque has become known for over the past 30 years. But the makeup line is their very first -- four years in the making -- and it utilizes very long wearing, high-intensity pigments that manage to go on your face just the way they look in the case. (The line is available exclusively at Ulta right now -- as if you needed another reason to darken their door!)
As I opened each compact, I got more and more excited by what I saw -- until I got to the blush.
Cue record scratch -- and cue my confession: I have never in my life worn blush. Ever. I don't know how I got this far in life without even trying it, but here I am. I started to put the blush compact into the pile of stuff to send to my mom, but then I decided to go out on a limb and try it, along with Japonesque's mascara -- yes, something other than my immortal beloved, Benefit's "They're Real!"
This is some serious outside-of-my-comfort-zone stuff, dudes.
But then I realized that not only had I never actually worn blush in my life, I didn't even have the slightest idea of how to apply it. So I used the same trick I always do when I don't know something -- I Googled it. I wish I were kidding.
I was about to slather it in little round circles on the apples of my cheeks like I remembered women in movies from the 1970s doing. But, luckily, it turns out that absolutely no question is too stupid to ask the Internet, because it taught me that I should actually apply my chosen blush sparingly up along the top of my cheekbone, using the center of my eye as a starting point.
This allegedly gives the illusion of pulling your face upward, slimming it. It was on the Internet so it has to be true, right?
I didn't hate it at all. I actually think it made me look a little brighter, a little fresher, and a little perkier than without. It went on very light and silky, almost veil-like. I didn't find that it creased or looked cakey as the day went on, something I'd feared.
Verdict? 9 out of a possible 10, would use again.
The mascara was a really pleasant surprise too. I love my usual mascara because it doesn't ever flake, clump, or smear, even though I am bad about rubbing my eyes while wearing it.
It turns out I like the Japonesque Lash-Lengthening mascara for the exact same reasons -- plus the fact that the applicator is super slim, allowing me to easily apply it to my lower and inside corner lashes without getting mascara all over my nose. Which happens to me regularly. Please delete that after reading, okay?
Verdict? 8/10, will definitely use on lower and innermost lashes for special occasions.
The Japonesque eyeshadows I tried all had some seriously foxy shimmer to them -- something I was for sure not mad at. There's a fine line between a quality shimmer and a cheap, glittery look. Their shadows had a rich creaminess to them that made the colors glide on without dragging or skipping.
The metallic green/gold and the shimmery pearly white were my favorites:
The larger Velvet Touch eyeshadow palette has some pretty great shimmery nudes in it:
But I'm not sure what that chalky dark brown in the top right corner is meant to be used for? I smeared it on my eyelids and there isn't enough cash on this EARTH for me to show you what it looked like. If you know its purpose, please do tell me. The shimmery mauve color in this palette (at the bottom of my hand) is crazy beautiful. Also: costume girls have old-looking hands. They get totally thrashed by hangers and safety pins.
Verdict? 9/10 for the classiest shimmer shadows I've seen in ages.
To me, the standout Japonesque product was the Velvet Touch Finishing Powder. It's a solid 10 across the board, and I've already bought an extra one to keep in my desk at work for touchups.
It's a silken, translucent powder that managed to give my skin a fresh finish and cover minor imperfections without settling into the crinkles around my eyes. (I've lived a hilarious life so far, okay? Don't weep too much for my early-onset laugh lines.)
In the two photos below, I'm wearing only the Velvet Touch powder, Lash Lengthening mascara and both lippys that came with my goodie box -- because it seemed adding blush to these intense lip colors would have looked crazy? (Please correct me if I'm wrong.)
The red gloss on the bottom (shade 7) doesn't do much for my coloring, but the vampy purple up top -- shade 9? That's my goth-hearted lipstick soul mate. It's a more plummy shade of my fave matte burgundy lipstick ever, MAC's 'Diva'.
The gloss was too sticky and messy for me, but the Japonesque Pro Performance lipstick was intensely moisturizing, and felt like I was wearing a balm instead of a lipstick.
Verdict? 10/10, would spend my own money on other shades.
Let me tell you why I'm hella glad that I am not a real beauty writer: taking all those ding dang pictures is a NIGHTMARE. I'd get maybe one post a month up at that rate. Also, please entertain me by admitting to the dumbest/most embarrassing thing YOU'VE ever Googled!
I'm on Twitter: @IveyAlison.