Saturday, September 15, 2018

It Doesn't Count When You're on Holiday

I've just come back from a week and a half in Hawaii, and surprisingly hauled more products over there than I anticipated. My bounty was at least double that of my previous holiday to Singapore/Malaysia, but I guess the shopping in the US is always a notch above other destinations. I tried to limit myself to things not yet released in Australia, or that potentially might never be, or items I've been eyeing that worked out to be a little cheaper. It did help that my trip coincided with the Sephora Beauty Insider Appreciation Event Sale, so I could get 10% off some of the stuff I bought (because after visiting the US in 2012 and again in 2015, I have an American profile). However, the horrid state of the Australian dollar did mean the savings were scant.

What I ended up getting (all prices in USD, multiply by 4.712% for tax and then 1.4 for AUD conversion):
  • Kiehl's Lip Balm #1 in Pear ($9)
  • Anastasia Beverly Hills Norvina palette ($42)
  • Origins Bestsellers Best Skin Set ($29)
  • Sunday Riley Flash Fix Kit ($28)
  • Laline mini Body Souffle in Hawaii ($12.50)
  • MAC Dazzleshadow Liquid in Rayon Rays and Not Afraid to Sparkle ($22 each)

I also repurchased a mini 50g tube of Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask ($12), a travel size MAC Fix+ ($12) and a travel size Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser in Nude ($24). 

I've wanted to try Sunday Riley Good Genes for forever, but at $154 for 30ml, forever had to wait. When I came across this Flash Fix Kit in Sephora, I had no cause for hesitation. At a relatively affordable $28 USD ($41 AUD), it contained 8ml of Good Genes and 30ml of Ceramic Slip Cleanser. The cleanser I could take or leave, as it seemed more targeted to oily/combination skin (and mine's more normal/dry), but I figured I was paying a pro rata amount to try Good Genes at a much more palatable price point. Engaging some basic maths: 8ml/30ml = 26.67%, multiplied by $154 AUD = exactly $41, the cost of the set. The cleanser was practically a bonus.

As excited as I was to try the set, Hawaii was probably not the best time and place to start. Good Genes is a lactic acid treatment and therefore you need to exercise extra caution in protecting your skin from the sun while using it. That didn't exactly click in my brain until the day after I tried it for the first time, then spent a day in full Hawaiian sunshine. Let's just say my skin didn't thank me for it. By necessity, I stayed far away from both Good Genes and Ceramic Slip for the rest of the trip. From my first impression, Good Genes is probably more potent than my skin is used to, so I'm not sure if it'll work for me. In terms of chemical exfoliation, I use Pixi Glow Tonic and have a 8ml tube of Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum (plus a very old, completely neglected mini of Alpha-H Liquid Gold somewhere), so it's nothing new to me and I'm not lacking in options.

This Origins set was something I found hard to pass up due to the value proposition. At $29 USD ($43 AUD), it contains Plantscription Anti-Aging Power Serum (15ml), GinZing Energy-Boosting Gel Moisturiser (30ml), Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins Mega-Mushroom Relief & Resilience Soothing Treatment Lotion (100ml), Checks and Balances Frothy Face Wash (30ml) and Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask (15ml). The main appeal of Sephora to me are the minis and mini sets they come out with, so I spotted this one on the shelf and immediately picked it up.

I've been buying a lot of Origins lately (back in Sydney a few months prior, I'd purchased the limited edition Delete Dullness & Energise Gift Set for $64 which included High Potency Night-A-Mins Mineral-Enriched Renewal Cream (50ml), High Potency Night-A-Mins Skin Refining Oil (15ml), GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream (5ml) and GinZing Energy-Boosting Gel Moisturiser (30ml)). I think I'm going to take a break from Origins for the foreseeable future and either finish up everything I've purchased, and/or explore other brands. From what I've tried, their products look nice, perform decently enough, and are pleasant to use in terms of scent/texture, but the results on my skin haven't been transformative or anything.

The Kiehl's pear lip balm was something I intended to purchase in Australia, but never found it in stock. A colleague had it in her cosmetics bag, and I tried some and loved the authentic, juicy/watery scent, so I had put it on my mental wishlist to purchase. In the meantime, I'd bought the Lanolips pear lip balm as a substitute, but the scent was so disappointing to me that it only reinforced how much I wanted the Kiehl's. And yes, it's basically flavoured Vaseline (thin, borderline greasy and lightweight in feel), but a tube does last a long time and I have a lot of other thicker balms and lip treatments to even things out.

Laline is an Israeli body care/skin care brand that I first encountered while in San Francisco a few years ago, and I was sucked in by the "Hawaii exclusive" that they had for one of their body souffles. The scent is actually just their usual Ocean scent (with fragrance notes of sandalwood, cedarwood, jasmine and ginger), but the combination of not being available in Australia, the powder blue/gold seashell packaging and the rich but non-greasy texture was enough for me. I was debating buying the body scrub as well (they do a demonstration in store and your skin has never felt softer after), but I noticed my arm had broken out in little red dots after and the price was a little steep for me to pull the trigger.

I was undecided on whether to buy the Norvina palette by Anastasia Beverly Hills prior to my trip. When I first saw it, I was overcome with that familiar feeling of NEEDING it. But then I watched a few more YouTube videos where the reaction wasn't overwhelming positive, and my enthusiasm started to cool. Rationally, I knew the last thing I need is more eyeshadow (or ANY makeup for that matter), but a part of me still wanted to get at least one "big ticket" item while on holiday. So, Norvina it was.

First, the way it swatched in store impressed me. The colour that I thought would most draw me in (Soul) became the least appealing to me, as in person, I realised how unflattering it most likely would be when applied to the eyes. But what sealed the deal was the top row of shimmers that are so intense and dense feeling and smooth, they border on creams. You literally only need a light touch to deposit full pigment. I tried this palette the first time and stuck to the neutrals, with the matte Volatile blended over the lid, then pressed Dazzling over the centre of my lid with my finger and blended the edges, and it was the prettiest look I'd worn in a while. For me, the only slightly questionable colour is Drama as it had more of a gritty texture that needed a few passes with the finger to blend out smoothly in the swatch (reminded me a lot of the metallics in some Sleek i-Divine Eyeshadow Palettes). I also feel like I've seen that type of deep purply-brown in a lot of places and never use it. The same could be said for the golds/bronzes, but at least they're timeless staples.

(On a somewhat unrelated note, I'm starting to become convinced I am allergic to pinky/red shades. Every time I put them on my eyes, I get itchy, which invariably leads to swelling, redness, then dryness/scaliness the next day. Happened when I paired Love and Wild Child, happened when I tried the Natasha Denona Joya palette.)

l-r: Rayon Rays, Not Afraid to Sparkle

I've been drawn to the Stila Glitter & Glow Liquid Eyeshadows pretty much since they launched, but have yet to purchase one. I've deeply regretted passing on the set of 3 minis in Rose Gold Retro, Kitten Karma and Smoldering Satin. They've since released more sets, but with other, less appealing shades. When I saw MAC launched a new product called Dazzleshadow Liquid, it was clear these were their version of the Stila Glitter & Glow Liquid Eyeshadows.

I'd first seen Rayon Rays on makeup artist and earring aficionado Katie Jane Hughes, and it appeared the most "wearable" colour for my eyeshadow preferences, so that one was a no-brainer. But I also simply loved the iridescent glitter in Not Afraid to Sparkle (very reminiscent of Stila Perlina, which I was very tempted by but didn't buy), so why deny myself? At $22 USD ($32.25 AUD), they're barely $3 cheaper than the Stila shadows, but for some reason the MAC Dazzleshadow Liquid is priced at $40 in Australia, so the notion of "saving" a few dollars proved persuasive. To be honest, most of the shades were really eye-catching and pretty, especially under the bright department store lights. It was hard to narrow it down to just 2. I can't compare the MAC and Stila, but I suspect they're very similar in every respect, and any differences would come down to your preferred shades and packaging. I intend to wear these as a topper over powder eyeshadow, primarily for special occasions like parties/weddings for that extra festivity and sparkle, but equally on an ordinary Tuesday when you just feel like adding some glitter.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Current Makeup/Skin Care Menu #5

It's winter in Australia, so a traditionally very lazy time of year when it comes to makeup. That, or I've reached the stage where I'm favouring a more pared down routine, reaching for the same products each time without inclination to mix things up. Sort of like Steve Jobs and his same outfit every day. If it's working for me now and it saves me the time and effort having to decide what to use on a daily basis, then I'm happily sticking to the same old. At least until the weather starts warming up.

Pixi Glow Tonic
Can I flatter myself by saying I was an early adopter of this stuff? Of course, recommended by Caroline Hirons back in the day when it used to come in a rectangular bottle with a pump. Though it's been 5 years since I first started using it, I haven't been completely loyal ever since. But that's more because I'm not that disciplined when it comes to toning and exfoliation in general. However, I started using this regularly a few months ago and I'm converted again. It makes a BIG difference to my skin when incorporated into my daily regime. I cleanse with an oil, wipe this all over with a facial pad, follow with a hydrating toner (see below), then slather on moisturiser mixed with a couple drops of rosehip and avocado oil. The condition of my skin has been smooth, supple, hydrated, relatively blemish-free (still human, so not totally immune to the odd spot), without signs of flakiness or dryness typical of the season. I've since purchased 2 bottles as backup, so you know I'm not messing around.

Ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Glycolic Acid, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Sodium Hydroxide, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Leaf Extract, Aesculus Hippocastanum (Horse Chestnut) Seed Extract, Hexylene Glycol, Fructose, Glucose, Sucrose, Urea, Dextrin, Alanine, Glutamic Acid, Aspartic Acid, Hexyl Nicotinate, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Ethylhexylglycerin, Disodium EDTA, Biotin, Panthenol, PPG-26-Buteth-26, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance (Parfum), Caramel, Red 4 (CI 14700).

Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Chamomile and Lavender
I wanted a simple, inexpensive but effective hydrating toner to follow Pixi Glow Tonic, and this newish release popped up on my radar. I've always been curious about the Mario Badescu sprays since they're quite affordable ($10 for 118ml, $17 for double that amount) and seem to be decently reviewed. I know this is basically just water with a minuscule amount of other things thrown in that may or may not have any real benefit to my skin, but so far, I'm enjoying it. I haven't had any reaction to it and it's a nice mist of calm hydration following my morning and evening cleanse. The scent isn't as dreamy as I'd hoped with the promise of authentic lavender (I don't really detect any sweetness or earthiness to it, it's more of a harsh/cold herbal scent), but I don't have any major complaints.

Ingredients: Aqua (Water, Eau), Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Water, Propylene Glycol, Polysorbate 20, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Fucus Vesiculosus Extract, Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, Thymus Vulgaris (Thyme) Leaf Extract, Silver Citrate, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Benzophenone-4, Triethanolamine, Zeolite, Sodium Sulfate, Citric Acid, Sodium Chloride, CI 60730 (Violet 2).

Laura Mercier Foundation Primer - Radiance
The news of Laura Mercier exiting the Australian market reminded me to actually start using the Laura Mercier products I have. I haven't bought a heap from the brand over the years, but the quality and performance of the products I have tried have consistently been excellent, so it's a real bummer they've decided to pull the plug. I think I read recently that Meghan Markle just used this primer on days when she wanted to boost and brighten her complexion, but not wear a full face of foundation, so naturally I started to mix a bit of this into my foundation every day. Not only does it add very natural but effective luminosity, but it's a bit of a thicker consistency and accordingly, bulks up my lightweight, more liquid foundation (Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum) so that it adheres to my skin better and has greater longevity. The only thing is that patches of gold shimmer in the primer can be apparent if you don't thoroughly blend the primer/foundation concoction into your skin, so a bit of extra care needs to be taken for a smooth, streak-free result.

LA Girl Cosmetics Glide Gel Eyeliner Pencil in Very Black
I needed a replacement for my beloved but long discontinued Savvy by DB Luxury Liner in Shimmering Slate, and this was inexpensive but well reviewed. I don't love it quite as much as the Savvy by DB, but it's definitely up there. It's nicely black, long lasting, smooth but not too melty, and as its name suggests, glides on and doesn't tug at the eyelids whatsoever. It's also much easier to remove at the end of the day than the Savvy by DB, which is a big plus.

Clinique Chubby Stick Shadow Tint for Eyes in Lots o' Latte
I feel like I've been sleeping on this for years, though it's been sitting in my makeup drawers all this time. It's literally the only eyeshadow I've been using every single day. There's something so liberating about slapping this on without thought and being done. It takes <1 minute and there's no primer involved, no brushes (which will later have to be washed), no careful, time-consuming blending (just use your fingers to fade out the edges a bit). The satin taupey/browny/mushroomy shade is deep enough to add definition, but not so much that you have panda eyes in the daytime. There's also not that much shimmer or glitter that a lot of eyeshadow crayons have, which seems more fitting with winter when a more subdued matte look might be preferable.

Clinique Chubby Stick Shadow Tint for Eyes in Lots o' Latte

Real Techniques Blush Brush
Every now and then, you learn something truly revolutionary through a YouTube makeup video or tutorial. That occurred to me recently when I saw Mariah Leonard's Glass Skin Foundation Routine. Basically, she advocates using a big fluffy brush like the Real Techniques Blush Brush, then using a very light, delicate touch with your highlighter powder, and applying the product in large circular motions around the cheekbones and browbone, then dusting your brush across your forehead, down the bridge of your nose, and chin. The main points are to ditch your usual highlighting brush which is much smaller and produces a more precise, concentrated placement, and instead, go big (both in the brush, and in the placement on your face), and go soft (use way less product than you think you need, and be conservative in your dips into the highlighting powder). The result is a much more natural look where you're just glowing all around but the product isn't so obviously sitting on your face.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Amrezy Highlighter
Speaking of this new technique, I've been using the Real Techniques Blush Brush with the massively hyped Amrezy highlighter by ABH. I bought this almost immediately when it launched on international online stockists (for reference, I used Cult Beauty). I learned my lesson from the last time ABH launched highlighter singles (still lamenting missing out on the So Hollywood Illuminator), so there was no way in hell I'd repeat the same mistake. At first, I wasn't sure if the hype was justified as while I liked it, there wasn't anything in particular that blew me away. Until I started adopting the big brush/light dip approach. Then ... I understood. This produces a beautiful highlighted effect that doesn't look crusty or scaly on my skin and isn't too dark for my skin tone. The texture is very finely milled but it's powerfully illuminating without being glittery or chunky. It's also highly pigmented, so a small amount goes a long way. The pan will last a lifetime.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Amrezy Highlighter

l-r: theBalm Mary-Lou Manizer, Fenty Hu$tla Baby, Becca Moonstone, ABH Amrezy, Charlotte Tilbury Highlight (in Beauty Glow)

For comparison purposes, theBalm, Becca and Charlotte Tilbury are the most similar to each other, with a paler, more pink/beige-toned white gold. The Fenty Beauty Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter in Hu$tla Baby is more similar to the Amrezy highlighter, but leans more peachy gold as opposed to yellow gold. However, both share a more pronounced, reflective shine.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Coming In Hot

After watching a few lip swatch videos of the Fenty Beauty Mattemoiselle Plush Matte Lipsticks on YouTube, I was set on getting my hands on the standout colour in my eyes, Saw-C. It appealed to me on a fundamental level: the super bright, obnoxiously yellow-based orange was a little out there and crazy, but on every single person, it just popped against their skin and looked good. When I finally paid a visit to Sephora, a lot of the more "wearable" shades in the Mattemoiselle collection were sold out, but there was plenty of Saw-C around. I coughed up $28 and was set to live out my vivid tangerine dreams.

The first thing I noticed about the Mattemoiselle lipsticks was just how teeny tiny they are. I don't recall the surprisingly small physical size and amount of product being mentioned in the many lip swatch videos I watched. Most lipsticks are around 4g, but the Fenty is less than half the amount at only 1.7g. However, the price doesn't appear to have been adjusted accordingly. I can imagine Fenty Beauty is raking it in, because on a cost per gram basis, these lipsticks are insanely overpriced. For me, because the main appeal is the colour, and I've rarely finished half a lipstick let alone a whole one, I can begrudgingly overlook the tiny tube and lipstick amount. But still, something about the whole thing doesn't sit right with me. It's not as bad as the Maybelline x Gigi Hadid lip liners which contained a laughable 0.3 grams, but the amount of product in the Mattemoiselle lipsticks is truthfully more suited to a mini than full size.

Fenty Beauty Mattemoiselle Plush Matte Lipstick in Saw-C

l-r: Fenty Beauty Saw-C, Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Rendezvous, Revlon Lip Butter in Tutti Frutti

In indirect light

In direct sunlight

I had previously gone through my entire lipstick collection looking for a potential dupe for Saw-C, and the two closest were Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Rendezvous and Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter in Tutti Frutti. Looking at the two next to Saw-C, Tutti Frutti is closer in colour than Rendezvous (though glossy as opposed to matte), but both have a touch more red than yellow. As you'd expect, Saw-C makes your teeth look super yellow in the same way that yellow-based pinks do, but that's the price you pay. I also imagine it would be more flattering on warmer/yellow skin tones than pink-toned/cooler complexions, as auxiliary_beauty pointed out. It's a bit of a challenge to coordinate Saw-C with outfits as well, unless you don't mind clashing colours like salmon pink with fiery orange.

Texture-wise, these are fairly creamy and lightweight and don't tug on the lips. They're highly pigmented and only require a single swipe for full colour, which might be a tradeoff for the lower amount of product you get. There is a bit of sinking into lip lines, especially if you apply multiple layers, but nothing that can't be fixed with a bit of blotting and smoothing over with the fingers. In terms of wear and staying power, I don't find them staining and they wear off gently after eating.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Current Makeup Menu #4

I was meant to be on a makeup spending ban for 3 months from the end of January, but it all collapsed at the halfway mark when Anastasia Beverly Hills released the Amrezy highlighter. Before I spectacularly caved (because the purchases didn't just stop at the highlighter), I'd been trying to content myself with my already overstuffed makeup collection. My current favourites include rediscovered gems in my stash, as well as a new concealer that seemed to be in every single Best of 2017 video I watched.

Benefit That Gal Brightening Face Primer
This mini was in the First Class Flirts travel set purchased in September 2015, and I've been trying to use it up as it's too good just to let expire in my makeup drawers. It's a pearlescent pink with a lightweight moisturiser feel that provides a brightening, smoothing effect. The scent is also a pleasantly fruity one that makes it enjoyable to apply in the mornings on top of my moisturiser but before makeup. I like that the skin enhancement effect is more subtle and not achieved through overwhelming shimmer particles that can leave you looking like a greaseball. It imparts more of a soft focus, pearly glow that lifts the complexion. I get very minimal pilling with this (occasionally a tiny bit near my chin if I rub a touch too enthusiastically), but generally it absorbs into the skin with no issues. Best of all, to my surprise, the full size product contains 11g compared with the 7.5g in the mini. The full size also has some weird gluestick-with-a-sponge-tip packaging, whereas the mini is a simple squeezy tube. I definitely know which one I prefer, especially for what I paid.

Too Faced Semi-Sweet Chocolate Bar Palette
Previously featured in my April 2015 Favourites, I've been using this almost daily and my appreciation only grows. As more and more eyeshadow palettes are released and the market becomes completely saturated, I'm beginning to feel nostalgia for a simpler time, when a major palette release from a brand would conjure genuine hype — because the product was actually good. Semi-Sweet has all you need ... those gorgeous light-to-medium neutral mattes (Nougat, Mousse, Peanut Butter, Puddin'), beautiful shimmers in pewter, copper and gilded peach, darker, high performing matte and shimmer shades to deepen your looks (Licorice, Truffled, Hot Fudge, Cocoa Chili), a pop of colour, big highlight and cream matte pans, and an angelic glitter top coat. The only downside is some of the darker shades do have A LOT of fallout, but if you do the eyes first then wipe the mess away with some Bioderma on a cotton pad, it's not a big deal. Bonus points: smells positively edible.

Milani Baked Blush in Luminoso
I don't love this 100% on its own (I find it a bit too light for my skin tone and the colour is too much of a pale orange as opposed to a more flattering, summery coral), but I find it adds a gorgeous goldy-peachy sheen on top of a darker blush that's applied first. Somewhat like a shimmery blush topper, if you will. The texture is beautifully smooth and the powder blends out effortlessly with my Wayne Goss Brush 14.

Bourjois Little Round Pot Blush in Rose Coup de Foudre
Speaking of darker colours to apply with Milani Luminoso, the one I've been pairing it with lately is Bourjois Rose Coup de Foudre. It's darker and more pink than Luminoso, but still has that same gold thread running through it that perks up and beautifies the complexion. The only problem is the entire surface of the blush regularly seals, so I periodically have to run a cotton bud across the dome to loosen the pigment. I also use a slightly stiffer brush (at least compared with the long-haired and floppy Wayne Goss Brush 14) in the form of my Zoeva Luxe Sheer Cheek Brush to apply it.

NARS Soft Matte Complete Concealer in Medium 1 Custard
I adore the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, and every blogger under the sun put the Soft Matte Concealer on their yearly favourites, so I was convinced I needed the Soft Matte Concealer in my life. I purchased mine for $44 from Mecca Maxima with little hesitation. It hasn't disappointed. While I'm not totally convinced it is better than the Radiant Creamy Concealer, it's up there among the best concealers I've tried. It's been living in my handbag for daily late afternoon touch ups when my foundation is losing its staying power and sliding off my face. It's a drier, higher coverage, longer lasting formula than Radiant Creamy Concealer, and hence I find targeted to more oily/combination skin. However, it still blends really easily with the fingers, sinks into the skin, and the shade match is good, albeit slightly too light if I go in a bit too heavily around areas of redness I want to even out. You get 6.2g of product which should last an eternity, as you only need a tiny amount each time.

Benefit Posie Tint
These Benefit liquid tints are underrated in my opinion. Posie Tint is one of the more forgiving ones (compared with the other two I have, Cha Cha Tint and Benetint), in that it's not too difficult to work with, doesn't last 4 days on your skin after showering and scrubbing, and has some blendability. I really want Lollitint, because I'm actually obsessed with all things orchid. That's right, I'm still into the Pantone Colour of the Year 2014, people.

I've been enjoying Posietint worked into the cheeks for a pretty, youthful flush that isn't too cool-toned and doesn't immediately draw attention to the red in my face as pinks tend to do. I also love it on the lips (dabbed on with the fingers over slightly moisturised lips for a fresher, less "done" look) for a long lasting, truly kiss-proof pout. Full review with how it looks like on my cheek here, where you can also see what a pristine bottle looks like before everything scratched off in the ensuing 3.5 years.

l-r: NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Custard, NARS Soft Matte Concealer in Custard, Bourjois Rose Coup de Foudre, Milani Luminoso, Benefit Posietint
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