Essence I Love Stage Eyeshadow Base

~Just a quick note: Happy Chinese New Year!!!~

For the longest time, I’ve stubbornly used my pore eraser as an eyelid primer. It’s partly because I try to avoid product redundancy and partly because I’m playing the cheapskate game. It’s actually not recommended to use the product on the eye area, so I was using it at my own risk. But now I want to be a tad more legit with my eyelid primer choice. I nabbed Essence I Love Stage Eyeshadow Base (regular price PHP 229) on sale just last week, and I’ve been using it everyday since.

Essence Cosmetics I Love Stage Eyeshadow Base

Quick Specs: 4 ml / 0.13 fl. oz ; made in Poland

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Essence Stay Natural Concealer in Soft Nude

Let’s talk concealer. Here’s the assorted info on mine:

First, I use concealer interchangeably with foundation meaning, at any given time, there is either concealer OR foundation in my beauty kit. I don’t feel the need to have both as I find them too bulky to lug around all day. Second, when I buy concealer, my specific intention is to apply it to my eyelid and undereye area to cover up dark circles. Third, I try to avoid thick concealers for my undereye area because it takes so much dabbing to even the color out. That eventually leads to more wrinkles.

As far as my experience goes, heavy concealer formulas are good for banishing fat blemishes, but tend to look cakey around the eyes. Therefore, my ideal consistency is a light cream or liquid that has medium coverage. Then I can dust a layer of powder on top to set.

When I went out to SM Makati for a makeup run, I found Essence Stay Natural Concealer Pen (PHP 149) that fits the above description of what I look for in an undereye concealer. There are four shades to choose from: two cool tones and two warm tones. I’ve wanted to try a pen-type concealer for so long because it’s so slim and handy. How can I resist the PHP 149 price tag? 

Stay Natural Concealer

The first time I tried the pen, I had to twist repeatedly to get the contents out. Just when I thought I had a busted pen, the liquid started to color the white brush. As per the advice of other bloggers, I didn’t rub the pen all over my eyelid/undereye but dotted it along the area instead. Then I blended with my ring finger and topped with powder. Other users argue that touching the brush directly to the face ups bacterial development, but I don’t plan on dabbing it on my blemishes anyway. It’s strictly for my dark circles only.

You can still see the dark circles up close, but less pronounced than usual. (I’m wearing Stay Natural Concealer and Gel Eyeliner, both from Essence Cosmetics.)

Like I said, it’s a medium-coverage concealer, so it doesn’t hide all my “sins”. However, being true to its name, the coverage does look natural. Natural like “I didn’t get to sleep as long as I wanted, but at least I don’t look haggard. That’s good enough for me.” It’s a go for everyday use. Just don’t forget the setting powder, or you’ll be faced with color that collects on the creases of your eyes. Then the wrinkles look more obvious.

Overall Rating: 4/5. It’s a standard liquid concealer with increased value-for-money, because of its low price and convenient packaging.

Essence Gel Eyeliner in Midnight in Paris

I’ve always envied the ladies who can pull off such stunning cat’s eye looks. (Sarah Jessica Parker does it flawlessly!) A perfectly executed cat’s eye is a sight to behold. It is elegant and feminine. Very old Hollywood. My last attempt was somewhat botched, so I skipped the liner and it became a mild smoky eye instead. Clearly, I need more practice.

For the sake of getting the look down pat and also because I wanted to add to my collection of liners, I started to consider investing in a pot of gel eyeliner. I didn’t want to overspend, so I did my full-on research. Fact: Did you know that, with a budget of PHP250 – PHP 350, you can go to SM Department store and take your pick from 3 brands of gel eyeliner? There’s Fanny Serrano (methinks around PHP 299), ELF (PHP 249), or Essence (PHP 229).

I went to SM Makati to check out the new Essence counter and to test their top-rated gel liner. There were only 2 colors to choose from, whereas Essence in other countries has more available shades. The locally available colors: Midnight in Paris (matte black) and Miami’s Ink (shimmering steel gray). Upon swatching both colors, it was easy to see that gray was not the shade for me. It had a teenage playfulness to it, while I was definitely set on luxurious and elegant. Midnight in Paris it is! After a few minutes, I started to rub at my swatched hand to test for smudging. I’m happy to report that there was hardly any.

Brush sold separately

Unfortunately, the brush is not included with the pot, so you have to buy it separately for PHP 109. I decided to go for it, since it’s a one-time buy anyway. Said brush is of a good quality. It has synthetic purple hairs/fibers cut asymmetrically, and those hairs are firm enough to deposit the bold color in a thin, straight line, but soft enough not to hurt or irritate the eyelids.

The pot

No sooner had I bought it than I already gave it a comprehensive test drive. That very evening, I was to attend an outdoor event. Being subject to wind, sweat, oil, and heat seemed like the perfect (if extreme) trial environment.

I had no trouble with application, since I’m used to employing steady hands for liquid liners. Little mistakes could be rubbed away while the gel hasn’t completely dried but it takes a whole lot of rubbing, so try to get it right the first time. The liner survived the evening well, except for slight smudging on the inner corners of my eyes where the lashline meets the eyelid fold. (It’s not noticeable at all when my eyes are open.) I’d chalk it up to oily lids.

Finished product. I lightened the deep black liner by dusting a layer of eyeshadow over it

That same weekend, I got to wear the gel liner for a whopping 15 hours straight for two gatherings in one day. The results were similar to that of the first time I tried it. Halfway through my long day, I went to the restroom for a touch-up and rubbed the light smudging away with damp fingers. Then I dabbed on some eyeshadow. Good as new.

The hardest part is the removal, since the eyeliner rests directly on the lashline. I had to use 2 cotton balls soaked in Maybelline makeup remover for each eye. That aside, I’m very happy with the PHP 229 I spent on this item (and the PHP 109 on the brush). It’s cheap and requires minimal maintenance. Oily lids require an extra layer of powder or shadow, but I don’t mind. It’s top-value for money, so you can expect me to do more shopping from Essence in the future.

Getting My “Essence” On

My first encounter with newly Philippine-distributed European cosmetic brand, Essence, was back in February for a post-Valentine’s date. I was looking for comfy flip-flops in SM MoA’s Deaprtment Store because of a shoe-selection faux pas (a.k.a. I was wearing heels that turned out to be too painful for Baywalk strolling), and did a quick stop by the cosmetics section out of habit. That’s when my eye caught sight of the Essence counter.

Confession time: It’s the first I’ve ever heard of this brand, but when I read user reviews, I found plenty of good comments to go around. The common thread that linked all those comments was about the affordability of the brand’s quality products. Naturally, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

Packed with goodies

What item do I want to get? Aah… My million dollar question. I wasn’t in the market for anything in particular, especially because I just bought myself a brand new haul last month. In fact, I had to pass on purchasing anything from the counter at MoA in February because I already felt like I had too much loot. So what didn’t I have yet? Gel eyeliner, that’s what!

The Essence of it all in SM Makati

What’s fantastic is that Essence opened another makeup counter in SM Makati (and also SM Noth Edsa, according to the sales staff). Bliss! I was thrilled to find out that I didn’t have to go all the way to MoA for my fix. With fingers crossed, I am waiting for a counter to appear in SM Megamall.

Because of an event I had to attend near Fort Bonifacio, I finally found the time to drop by SM Makati yesterday. Sweating like crazy from the commute, I breathlessly came up to the Essence sales staff to inquire about the eyeliner. (Those counter ladies were quite nice and really helpful.) I swatched some on the back of my hand and tested out some concealer as well. The initial results were good, but I’ll save the full reviews for later.

Here’s the “Mini Haul” I got:

A 3-item mini haul totalling to PHP 487

Gel Liner Brush (PHP 109), Stay Natural Concealer Pen in Soft Nude (PHP 149), and Gel Eyeliner in Midnight in Paris (PHP 229).

The price range is around PHP 80 – PHP 300, and most products are in the PHP 150 – PHP 250 zone. Drugstore prices that are particularly impressive for imported products. Plus, it’s a good sign that I’m already plotting out my next purchase. (Next time I’m building a haul, I’m looking to try their Ready for Boarding Collection Lip and Cheek Cream in Beauty on Tour, a coral-pink shade that somehow reminds me of bright-looking Tarte blushes. That, and/or their Fruity Collection Blush Sorbet with its fine pearly pink shimmer and liquid-gel texture.)

Their newest collection

From this visit alone (and from all the swatching I did), I can tell you that I generally like their products. The only items I found to be lacking were their lipsticks that came off as too lightly pigmented for my liking. Think Maybelline’s Watershine Pure lipsticks, but less glossy. It took a lot of swipes to get the color to be well-defined, which makes me think of it as more like a heavily tinted lip balm than lipstick.

SM Makati actually has 2 Essence counters. The other counter (one of the photos at the top) has the big vanity mirror.

How I wish this brand was here when I was still in high school! I would’ve been all over this like crazy. It’s cheaper than Maybelline and they’ve got a good variety of cosmetics going on, in addition to having shades that range from bold to teen-friendly (i.e. light, subtle colors). Moms, if you’ve got teen daughters who are only just getting into makeup, get them age-appropriate cosmetics like these–though I’m not saying that older ladies can’t pull off this brand. Essence may be packaged a la girly-girl, but I’m willing to bet there’s something each lady will love.