Story time. If you want to skip this long post and go straight to the review, check out the content after the wavy ~~~~~ line.
How I Got Into This
To me, Jill Stuart makeup is a gateway... item. This was my doorway into Japanese makeup and skincare. Growing up in an underdeveloped country, I never would have thought of this as an option. I came to the US about 16 years ago, and all I knew about "good makeup" was NARS and MAC. I thought Clinique was good skincare. No shade to anyone who still thinks this, I am sure these brands have some good products. Occasionally, I got fancy and purchased Chanel or YSL. Fast forward to today, now Japanese makeup is always my first option. Why? ingredients and packaging is the simple answer, but it goes beyond that.
|My mani that day was F.U.N. Lacquer Holo Queen over purple|
I had been struggling with dry/chapped lips for a while. I live in the dry-climate, polluted city of Los Angeles. So one day (Circa 2017), I walked into the JS store with no expectations whatsoever, just to look at the beautiful packaging pictured below. I asked if they had nail polish, but they did not have any. The sales associate showed me the beautiful lipsticks and she insisted that I try Amaryllis Poetry. She said that was a shade that looked great on all skin tones. I skeptically swatched it on my hand, because I have a thing with microbes, and I was shocked at the balm-like texture and delicate hidden shimmer. So I walked out with my little tube.
|Jill Stuart 05 amaryllis poetry, I'm already on the second tube|
After I purchased the 45-dollar lipstick--because why not, I was on vacation--I opened it and I wore it for the rest of my trip. I loved the texture and the skincare benefits, and the color was just perfect on me. I have naturally pigmented lips, and most light pinks either look milky or don't show up at all. This just magically turned my lips to a soft pink and blended right in. Moreover, it moisturized my lips, and kept them looking young. Isn't that what I wanted anyway? I loved it so much that as soon as I got to LA, I bought a couple more, which I will review later posts. I had to do a phone order, because back then, they did not have a US website. I remember I got a setting powder in 02 lucent, and I ended up repurchasing it a year later because it became a staple in my stash. Granted, I have not tried other makeup items from JS, but I think this brand is a gem. It's highly coveted in Asia, and not just for their makeup/skincare, but for their chic accessories.
|Storefront of Anna Sui HQ in Soho, NY|
It was right there on Broome Street, next to Anna Sui store, where it all started. I instantly fell in love with this new world of possibilities. The only downside was finding swatches/reviews in English, but I am here to try to improve that. The packaging really sealed the deal for me, as pictured above, some of these lipsticks have a built-in mirror that actually works when I'm on the go. Love it.
How I Stayed and Never Looked Back
A few years back, I was planning to go on a trip to NYC, and at that time, I had just discovered Reddit, and I was really into the sub called Asian Beauty. A blogger had suggested the sub in one of the posts. If I recall correctly, I had stumbled upon Beauty and the Cat when I was searching for a review on Tatcha, a Sephora-bound moisturizer which is actually not as Asian as it seems, but I won't get into that. Anyhow, once I got into Asian skincare, I went back to said blog and before my trip, I saw that they had a post about where to find popular oriental items in NYC for a beauty lover like me. I looked them up on yelp and went to visit them, and hauled me a little piece of the vast sea that is this magical world of good makeup.
|Storefront of Ume Cosme in East Village|
,At first, for an occidental like myself, the world of Asian beauty seemed pretty intricate. It was just like navigating the subway in the big city. I missed my car + GPS that were back in L.A. almost every 5 minutes during the first day in NYC. Like everything, it has its ups and downs, and some things aren't perfect, but once I learned the ins and outs I stopped focusing on the past, and the comfort of the known, and started embracing the unknown. I use google translate a lot now, and that helps tremendously. Pro tip: I upload pictures of the product labels to the google translate app on my iphone and just go from there. I learned about Korean expiration vs. manufacturing dates as well, but we will leave that for another post. I research things in google and adjust the advanced settings by country to either South Korea or Japan, very rarely Singapore if I cannot find what I need.
|High end makeup including Les Marvellous de Ladurèe and Jill Stuart|
|Random items inside the Ume store|
|My haul from Ume|
So there I was at Ume, with my little shopping basket, and no idea what I wanted. I placed some items inside that I thought would be useful, then went back to the hotel super exhausted and jet lagged. After I woke up from my nap, I washed my face and tried on the 23 years cocoon mask, which I reviewed here. I was converted after that. This thing (which I originally thought was coconut) had taken my post-flight tired skin to a new level. Not only did my skin look younger and rested, but way more supple than what I had started with before even boarding that flight. So anyway, the rest is history. As you will read in other posts there are many hidden gems like this one. Oh, and that Avance eyeliner turned out to be another favorite that quickly became a staple, a few months later I ended up purchasing four other colors at Little Tokyo here in Cali. In Koreatown, I found a store that carried Su:m37 which were 1/3 of the price of La Prairie, but performed better than the Swiss brand. I got some Sulwhasoo items online that were comparable to the American brands I'd been using, and added them to my arsenal. My routine quickly became 90% Asian products because I felt that they met all of my skin needs.
It Wasn't All About Aesthetics, but They Sure Are Nice
If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know that I have posted and raved about Anna Sui nail polishes for a while (tag link). Despite the gloomy weather, the next morning, I was on a mission to go check out the Anna Sui Store in Soho. So I walked there coffee on hand, right after I finished my morning cheese-bread-stick from Dean and Deluca.
|Gorgeous view from a Starbucks where I was charging my phone|
|The nail polish counter inside Anna Sui|
|A closer look at the window-shopping-worthy storefront|
It was a beautiful day to explore the city, and although the employees that time were not so nice or welcoming, I did not let that ruin my experience. Nothing was going to get in the way of me and the whimsical nail polish bottles and makeup cases. The beautiful storefront stood out in the middle of the busy streets. The colorful décor was more than I had bargained for in the gothic-like interior. I ended up getting only 1 nail polish, because I can always shop online, and my budget got cut short after I fell in love with a jeweled hair piece. I also got a liquid lipstick, which was a really good color, and I ended up using it quite a lot, which made it worth it, blotting sheets, plus a free tote, and a hand cream for a friend.
|Even the doors were cute, they thought of everything|
|The floor was red, the furniture was black, it did not disappoint|
|Random items inside the Anna Sui store|
|My haul from Anna Sui|
When I walked out of the store I felt like I was on a roll and had to keep going. I got so lucky with my purchases including the day before, and I had fulfilled my dream of going to the Anna Sui store ("the" is in the literal sense, because there is just one like it here in the US). I saw the inconspicuous sign for the Jill Stuart store, and although I was familiar with the name from Reddit, I didn't know there was an actual store here. As of writing this I am unsure if they exist, and I will just assume it was all a dream. My stomach-with-butterflies felt like when I'm walking down those clothing designer stores at the Bellagio Shops in Vegas: I see a Chanel sign and I am thinking/hoping/dreaming that they carry nail polish or at least the glossimers *please* I plead to the beauty gods. They smiled. I walked in, and there it was, a mini makeup counter with attention to detail inside the tiny garments store. The most gorgeous makeup packaging that I had ever laid eyes on. Swatch away, bon voyage.
|Select Makeup, skincare, and perfume inside Jill Stuart in Soho|
I have about a dozen Jill Stuart Lipsticks. That is the extent of my obsession for now. The first ones I am going to review are 05 amaryllis poetry, which is the very first Jill Stuart lipstick I ever bought, and then 02 seductive romance, ending with 07 in my dream, which are the latest two that I purchased online last year. I got those two during one of those made up holidays (National Lipstick Day, July 29th 2020). They were giving away a free Dressed Rouge lip gloss as a GWP (gift with purchase), and I could not pass up the opportunity. I also got a mirror that day that I had been drooling over for quite some time. I hope these arm swatches are helpful, I only started doing makeup reviews recently, and I explained here why I do arm swatches and lots of descriptive text.
Top: mirror in its pouch
L to R: 07, 02, Dressed Rouge Rose Pink (GWP)
|all three lipsticks - Sun|
L to R: 07, 02, 05
|all three lipsticks, close up - Sun|
L to R: 07, 02, 05
Nowadays, Jill Stuart has its own separate website for makeup, and I no longer have to resort to the phone orders. They also have an Instagram just for beauty items, and it seems like they are establishing their brand in the beauty arena here in the US. Like Anna Sui, they are niche brands in the fashion industry here in the US, but makeup is not their main focus. Their clothes are made with high end fabric, and the prices reflect their quality. I personally don't own anything to wear from either of those brands. And speaking of prices, the Lip Blossoms that I bought before were $45-$50 each, but now they have adjusted the prices to $24-$31 which is still high-end, but less crazy. I mean, I really dread doing the math on how much I spent on these, to be honest.
|all three lipsticks - Sun|
Top to bottom: 05, 02, 07
|all three lipsticks - Shade|
Top to bottom: 05, 02, 07
Amaryllis Poetry (05) is discontinued, but it is definitely my favorite, and I will probably cry when this tube runs out, because I did not have enough for a back up before they closed their website which carried clothing + some makeup. It's a creamy light baby pink with peach undertones. It is really neutral, in that it will look cool in certain lighting situations, but warm in others. I had searched for a color like this in so many American and European brands, that I was ready to give up. Most of the baby or 'barbie' pinks out there seemed either too milky (some even sink into the lip ridges) or too light to cover my red-toned lips. Others seemed patchy or just looked plain awkward. This one just sort of sinks in and blends in with my natural lip color and it looks like I'm wearing a really fancy balmy lipstick.
|05 amaryllis poetry Lip Blossom lipstick - Natural Light|
Seductive Romance (02) is a straight-forward mauve. Of course I wanted it to be more purple than pink, but it manages to blend well with my skin-tone. It provides a better coverage than the lip blossoms, because this is from a different range that they probably had to introduce to the US because of the demand for more pigment saturation here. It has some brown or bruised undertones, but I am unsure if I was able to capture those in the pictures. It gives it a nice balance, because I wouldn't want it to be too neon or 80s looking. This is a shade that I would wear in the Fall, because it leans more warm to me. I wear it to run errands or go shopping, it looks great in daylight, but I would not wear it to work because the neon factor is past the level that I believe is formal looking.
|02 seductive romance Rouge Tint-In-Dream lipstick - Natural Light|
|07 in my dream Rouge Tint-In-Dream lipstick - Natural Light|