Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sweet LeiLani Cosmetics: my HOLY GRAIL, must-have products list (Part 2 of 2)

For me, it all started with just one eyeshadow many years ago. I spotted a big, beautiful shadow pot from a cosmetics line I had never seen before in the most gorgeous shimmery olive/khaki colour, at a Save-On Foods (a retail grocery chain here in B.C.). Intrigued, I had to buy it. To my delight, the buttery-smooth shadow glided onto my lids, leaving behind exactly the brilliant hue I was looking for, a terrific alternative to a heavy, dark smoky eye (particularly true for those with fair skin).  The Seaside Mineral Jewels Eye Shadow in Seaweed continues to be one of my favourite shadows, applied wet or dry for different effects. Delving deeper into Sweet LeiLani's cosmetics formulations, one quickly learns why the products cause no irritation. I discovered that her complexion products are so purposefully formulated with skin-healing ingredients that some people use them to treat scarred or damaged skin overnight while they sleep, with dramatic results!
Naturally this sounded preposterous to me at first. Sure the Purely Tinted Moisturizer that the in-house makeup artist colour-matched for me immediately made all my existing face products obsolete. Not only was the shade perfect, but it left my skin feeling hydrated with a glowy finish that I love. As I age, I'm steering clear of overly drying/mattifying formulas that suck the moisture from my face and enhance dry patches and fine wrinkles. It's also increasingly important that I pay attention that face products match my current skin tone. Wearing makeup several shades too light makes my ever-darkening under-eye circles and skin discolourations elsewhere on my face even more noticeable. But never did I expect an all-natural tinted moisturizer to be long-wearing and so wonderful to wear on my skin that I was actually sad to have to wash it off at the end of the day! After two weeks of wearing this tinted moisturizer almost daily, my sun-parched skin was not only much less dry, but I see less dark spots and no bumps or texture whatsoever since I began using it. This product delivers much more coverage than your average tinted moisturizer, and includes a non-chemical sunscreen, so it perfects and protects the skin; the older I get, the more I appreciate face products that provide built-in SPF protection.

When the in-house makeup artist told me that some people are drawn to the healing and treatment aspects of the face products and wear the line's mainstay Skin Care Camouflage Cover to bed at night, I was skeptical. I picked up the Camouflage Cover in the shade Brown Beauty. This all-in-one skin treatment/complexion perfector is now one of my top 3 'desert island' products; I could survive with only this, a tinted lipbalm and a tubing mascara if I had to, the perfect under-5-minute routine that can be done in the car, at the office, and on mornings when you've slept through your alarm (again). The rich creamy product comes potted in a tin so there's no mess and is ideal for travel. Chosen in your exact shade, this is both a layerable foundation and a mid to full-coverage concealer. Pick a few shades lighter or darker if you're looking for smoothly-blendable products to use to highlight and contour.

In about the time it would normally take to apply your moisturizer and sunscreen, these face products can be used together for a picture-perfect, long-wearing makeup application (Tinted Moisturizer on clean skin, Camouflage Cover to spot correct and define eye area, set and perfect with the powder), separately or in any combination (except powder first, obvs), to achieve varying levels of coverage that still allows your natural skin to show through. It's only a matter of adding light layers and blending out visible lines with a brush, damp makeup sponge or clean fingers for your desired level of opacity.
The immediate difference I noticed with Leilani's face products is how perfect they make my skin tone. Since I have naturally olive tanned skin that becomes much darker in the summer with visible areas of discoloration and hyperpigmentation (that are unfortunately becoming more pronounced as I barrel through my 40s!), combined with a yellow undertone, many foundations, concealers and powders just bring a grey pallor to my face. I'm guessing that LeiLani's background in film and TV makeup is responsible for these realistic, completely comfortable-to-wear, perfectly-pigmented formulas. I can't describe how shocking it is that they actually have shades dark enough for me, in such perfect tones that I don't need to 'add colour back' once applied.
Now, after a full month of wearing all three of these products almost daily (and sometimes nightly!), I can tell you that I have found my ultimate perfect complexion products. More than once this summer when my skin was irritated and dry, I put aside my doubts and applied either the Tinted Moisturizer and on occasion the Skin Care Camouflage Cover and was absolutely amazed to realize that yes, they both in fact do, calm my skin down and restore moisture to flaky-dry areas and even sunburned skin.
It happened mid-summer that the skin on my nose received an overdose of sun and was red and sore for a few days before becoming discoloured and flaking for several more, my first such experience. I now feel immense sympathy for my fair friends who burn at the (literal) drop of a hat and need to safeguard daily against UVA and UVB exposure. Imagine my surprise when these formulas made my first sunburn ever feel less raw and painful, while providing immediate sun protection to prevent any further damage.  I haven't wrapped my mind around the idea of wearing these complexion products to bed at night, but with the surge of sleeping masks and overnight treatments on the beauty market lately, it no longer sounds weird to me. I'm also now less concerned about staining to my bedlinens since I've found these products to be transfer-resistant on clothing and such, but still easily dissolve with makeup remover or my cleanser of choice.

Reading more about how this line was created, it all begins to make sense. As a Cosmetic Designer and Certified Paramedical Makeup and Tattoo Specialist in Canada, LeiLani's professional expertise combined with her desire to help patients deal with skin problems and hyper-sensitivity in the creation of this line. 

To set and perfect my face, I'm now hooked on this powder compact, the Island Radiance Bronzer Powder in the shade Sun. Although packaged as a bronzer, I use this as a pressed powder and it's another can't-live-without product that I reach for almost every day. My ultra-dry skin really agrees with this unscented, perfectly matte powder, which is a rarity that I attribute to the stringent choice of ingredients. This is an ideal product to use to contour fairer skin, and to my surprise there is even a darker shade in the line. The Camera Ready pressed powder compact provides the same perfecting, oil-absorbing finish for those with fair skin. The main reason I'm loving this powder is that it resists settling into my fine lines and pores. Too many powders and mattifying products highlight my increasingly obvious dryness and wrinkles. It is most pronounced under my eyes, where creams and powders quickly begin to look crepe-ey, where products slide and bunch together, at which point the purple hue I was trying to conceal shows through. Then I can choose to add more product in an attempt to remedy the bare patches (this rarely works BTW) or I can try and smear the existing mess back into place. If any eye makeup is already applied, this becomes an increasingly risky manoeuvre. All of this is to say that for a flawless face, it's best to avoid overly-mobile products, and once I set these three products, I don't need to re-apply or touch-up - they stay in place without fading, creasing or oxidizing.

The blush you see here is the Colour Tides Blusher in Hibiscus. While it may look dramatic in the pan, the product is the perfect shade of flushed cheeks on natural skin. Finely-milled like all of LeiLani's powders, it glides onto the face but doesn't streak or look harsh and gives a healthy glow to the face, minus juvenile-looking sparkles and messy bits of glitter all over. Lately I find it is all I need to warm up and add depth to my face, another instant favourite, here in an ideal fall shade suited to a wide range of skin tones.

Finally, let me tell you a bit about these lip products. I sampled many of the shades in-store and settled on three to take home, two lipsticks and a lipgloss. The larger photo is of my most-beloved everyday lipstick, the Hawaiian Petals Lip Shade in Macadamia Nut, a rich satin lipstick that was exactly what I wanted when I was shopping for a new fall lippie. It's not quite matte, is long-wearing and isn't glossy or glittery. It's an almost nude brown with a brick hue, absolutely perfect, and unscented too.
The smaller photo is the same product in the shade Sea Urchin, and was a surprise to me. While it wasn't the first shade I gravitated towards in the tube, once applied, it shows up as a beautiful duochromatic, almost metallic purple-mauve. The Lip Splash lip gloss in the shade Snorkel (pictured below) is simply perfect; it's a natural formula so I don't cringe knowing I ingest most of it, in a sheer, hydrating gloss that has just the right amount of sparkle with particles that are small enough to not feel gritty on the lips. It's so comfortable and not sticky to wear that I've put aside my NYX Butter Gloss in favour of this unscented version.  In a final twist of lip heaven, I found that wearing the Sea Urchin Lip Shade under a layer of Snorkel Lip Splash combines to create a stunning metallic purple-tinged lip colour that I've had people stop and ask me about.

The photo on the right is swatches of my Sweet LeiLani Cosmetics lip products on my hand. TOP: Lip Splash lip gloss in Snorkel; MIDDLE: Lip Shade in Sea Urchin; BOTTOM: Lip Shade in Macadamia Nut

With more and more cosmetics lines vying for our money, it's easy to become jaded and lose that sense of excitement over a new line or natural products. But every once in a while you find something made with such consistent attention to detail and stringent quality standards that it stands out. This is definitely one of those lines. It is by far and away higher-quality than anything I've seen for the price, and besides, I think that the number of medical patients who use and rave about her products to treat and conceal is more convincing than any airbrushed photo of a model could ever be. I feel like right now there is a bourgeoning of 'all-natural' cosmetics (some fraudulently so) and indie makeup lines. While it may be fun to play with new products and ideas, at my age (45) I'm not willing to compromise the health or safety of my skin. Knowing that a long-time makeup industry professional is responsible for every aspect from formulation, packaging and sales of these cosmetics means I'm confident about the integrity and the quality of the products. Honestly, just give this line a try, I really do think you're likely to find several 'can't-live-without' items, and if you do, please let me know what you got and how you like it - I'm planning on ordering more and can't decide what to get next!

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