I was meant to stick to a list I made beforehand, but I only had one item on it: a base coat. I never believed in base coats before, but the absence of one has made me feel uneasy about my whole nail painting ritual. I was planning on picking up an el cheapo one but couldn't find one from Essence. I've tried the Sally Hansen Diamond Shine Base & Top Coat and was contemplating buying it again, but decided to go for something different with Essie First Base.
Speaking of Essie, can we take a moment to talk about the prices of their polishes in Australia? (OPI also isn't exempt from this conversation.) The First Base Base Coat retails for $17.95 when it's $8.50 in the US. The normal polishes are $16.95 each. Yes, products are marked up ridiculously in Australia and none of this is news, but still. I'm not understanding how there could be any justification. Rimmel, Maybelline, Max Factor and CoverGirl price their polishes around $5-$10 while brands like Essence and Ulta3 have polishes under $3. It's just nail polish.
The upside to Priceline stocking Essie is that you can occasionally take advantage of marked down stock being subject to further discounts. I spotted some polishes from the Encrusted Treasures Holiday 2013 Collection that were already discounted to $8.47. With a further 40% off, they were a bargain at $5.08 each. After much deliberation, I chose Hors D'oeuvres and Peak of Chic. Hors D'oeuvres could very well be the blingiest nail polish I've ever laid eyes on, while Peak of Chic has made me want to give up on bar glitter from here on out. Still, I love a challenge and am determined to try and make it work.
I also picked up Rimmel Salon Pro nail polish in Hip Hop, because my friend was wearing these juicy, slightly orange-leaning red nails the other day and it looked so classic and modern and Christmassy and feminine that I immediately set out to buy something similar. I almost never wear red nail polish, but Hip Hop looks like the kind of red I could get into.
Finally, the lip products. I felt out of the loop when it came to "drugstore" lip releases, especially whatever newfangled glosses or gloss/stain/balm/lipstick hybrids were being released, so I set to take a closer look. I wanted to purchase a Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet Lipstick but they didn't have the shade I was after, Pink Pong. I happened to come across a L'Oréal Colour Riche Extraordinaire stand and after swatching all the shades on display, decided Nude Vibrato (600) was the one for me. (I did briefly contemplate buying the lone Nude Ballet (601) left, said to be worn by none other than Kim K on her wedding day, but it was not a good look on me.) I was interested in buying a Maybelline Color Sensational Color Elixir simply because I'd seen them everywhere on blogs. It was next to impossible to pick one, but in the end I played it safe with Rose Redefined (090). The other shades seemed inappropriate for the office (not that I shy away from brights, I just prefer them to be strongly pigmented and ideally, matte) or way too pale.
l-r: L'Oréal Nude Vibrato (600), Maybelline Rose Redefined (090)
l-r: Maybelline Rose Redefined, L'Oréal Nude Vibrato
Maybelline Rose Redefined reminded me of Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm in Elusive, and sure enough the two swatch similarly. Elusive is brighter in tone and obviously much more pigmented. I was trying to find the closest match I have to L'Oréal Nude Vibrato, but MAC Patisserie still has noticeable differences, mainly it's surprisingly sheerer, less peachy nude and more of a darker orange/redder in comparison. The L'Oréal can be very thick in terms of both texture and pigmentation, so I prefer to apply it to just my bottom lip then press my lips together to transfer it to my top lip and sheer it out. The Maybelline is a touch too glossy for my liking and the conservative rose colour doesn't excite me (no one to blame there but myself for that). It also seems to work better applied thinly with the fingers rather than layered with the applicator, which can cause unevenness on the lips. The texture however, is gloriously plush and cushiony, and almost redeems the ho-hum shade.