Saturday, May 31, 2014

Priming Veil

On a recent trip to Mecca Cosmetica, I decided it was finally time to get serious about primer. In an ideal world, one's foundation would be good enough to last the whole day. But I've come to accept that sometimes, you just need a bit of help. I wasted no time heading straight for the best (or at least the one I've heard the most raves about): Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer. The full 30ml size is an eye-popping $79, so I opted for the 10ml travel size at a more modest $25.

Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer has a light, silky consistency that's easily spread over the face. With SPF 15, it's the colour of sunscreen and absolutely leaves a white cast. The first time I tried it, I was slightly taken aback at how geisha-like my reflection looked in the bathroom mirror. Perhaps I just used too much, but this product definitely interacts with your foundation and makes it lighter than usual.

Does it work in the way you'd hope a good primer would? Yes. It noticeably makes my foundation last longer and valiantly keeps the oil at bay. Examining my T-zone in the middle of the day, I saw individual microscopic beads of oil on my nose (TMI, I know) where a puddle of shine would normally be. It's almost as if the primer was working overtime to try to shut down oil production, but some of the more stubborn secretions still managed to surface. I find that when I have this on, there isn't as much need to blot with a tissue. By the end of the day, my foundation's still mostly intact, as opposed to mostly slipped off and gone. Especially important when a) my skin has been in need of higher coverage lately with a lot of spottiness from blemish scarring b) I'm more liberal with the moisturiser in the mornings due to the colder weather and spending my days in a dehydrating air-conditioned office.

The primer reminds me of NARS Pro-Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base if it were more liquid, serum-like and had SPF injected into it. It seems to work in a similar way to the NARS, in that it almost dries out the skin (sucking up excess water/oils) and makes it more of a non-slippery, matte surface upon which any product layered on top better adheres. To its credit, it doesn't leave my skin feeling or looking dry, and foundation still applies smoothly over the primer. I even ditch the powder when I use it, confident that the primer will be sufficient. It's not a product I'd incorporate into my everyday routine as it's more of an extra, skin-perfecting step that daily life doesn't really call for, but when I want my makeup to last or when an occasion calls for it, I know what I'll be reaching for. Just be mindful of the white cast.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Nighttime Pair

My skin hasn't been in the greatest shape lately (to put it mildly), but I've been sticking with a pared down evening skin care routine for the past week or so which I think has been helping. I bought this "limited edition" Antipodes Anti-Ageing Minis set for $20 from Priceline back in February, but have only started using it consistently recently. Comprising samples of the Joyous Protein-Rich Night Replenish Serum (10ml) and Avocado Pear Nourishing Night Cream (15ml), the set immediately appealed to me as being excellent value for money. The fact Priceline has now begun stocking Antipodes along with Bioderma and La Roche-Posay makes me positively salivate at the prospect of an upcoming 40% off skin care sale.

I try to get my makeup off after getting home and having dinner (food first, skin care later) with Bioderma Créaline H20 poured liberally over Daiso Cotton Puffs. I follow with a generous spritzing of my can't-live-without-it Avene Thermal Spring Water, which provides instant soothing, hydrating relief. Usually, that makes me confident enough most of the gunk's off my face, so as a second cleanse, I use a gentle foaming cleanser or occasionally my Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser in the shower before bed.

Still mindful of Caroline Hirons's prescription of two toners (one exfoliating, one hydrating), I alternate between Pixi Glow Tonic and First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads, then once again follow with Avene Thermal Spring Water (a lighter misting this time). I don't find the Avene to be materially different to La Roche-Posay Serozinc, so I'm a bit puzzled by the hype surrounding Serozinc last year.

I wait until the Avene has mostly evaporated off my face, then squeeze about 5 drops of the Antipodes Joyous Protein-Rich Night Replenish Serum into the palm of my hand. Rather than mixing it with my moisturiser as I've done with most of my face oils in the past, I massage it by itself all over my bare face. I find it absorbs better than Sukin Rose Hip Oil or Antipodes Divine Face Oil, in that it really seems to sink in and penetrate into my skin, rather than sit partially on the surface.

I then get a smallish dollop of Antipodes Avocado Pear Nourishing Night Cream and layer it over the serum. This cream is quite rich and easily spread, so you don't need very much. It is on the greasy side, especially in combination with the serum, but it leaves the skin feeling nourished and protected overnight. I've noticed that in the mornings, the redness in my skin from my blemishes has significantly calmed down, my spots are slowly diminishing, and the overall texture of my skin appears smoother and softer. I think with any skin care routine, it's the commitment to sticking with it daily that eventually gives you results. I intend to continue with my current regime until my samples run out, then hope for another of Priceline's generous sales to restock in the full sizes.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Pop of Posies

Scoring a bonus Benefit Posietint mini was one of those incidental, unexpected perks that can happen when you browse the department store makeup counters as regularly as I do. Last year for whatever reason, Benefit were selling a full size Sugarbomb blush for $25 (normal price $51), and if the significant price reduction wasn't incentive enough, they tacked on a free 4ml sample of Posietint. So rare and inexplicably generous was this offer, I practically compelled two friends to also purchase the set, accusing them of insanity if they passed on such an unprecedented (for Australia, at least) bargain.

Benefit Posietint

Described as a "poppy-pink tinted lip and cheek stain", Posietint is a semi-translucent, bright rosy pink. On my lips, there's slight fuchsia/raspberry undertones, but on my cheeks, it's primarily a light, warm pink that gives a subtle, flushed look. I find it a bit more watery and thin in consistency than Cha Cha Tint. You don't need to move with the same lightning pace Cha Cha Tint demands before a mark/stain is left on the skin (possibly due to the milkier colour), but you still need to act quickly. Posietint is considerably less pigmented than Cha Cha Tint and needs to be layered a few times to show up on the skin.

While quick-staining liquids can be intimidating from the outset and difficult to apply evenly, they have unique advantages that justify the extra care and effort. One of the best things about Benefit tints is they are truly staining and budge-proof on the lips and have phenomenal lasting power on the cheeks. They also meld completely with the skin in a seamless, undetectable fashion for an incredibly natural effect. The colour simply becomes your skin in a way that can't be duplicated with powders or creams that sit on the surface and can easily fade or be wiped off.

As I've detailed numerous times before (see Illamasqua Naked Rose, Tarte Dollface), I have a love-hate relationship with pinks for both lips and cheeks, despite gravitating towards them without fail. Pink blushes tend to emphasise any redness and irritation in my skin, at times making it appear ruddy and even suffering from some kind of mild allergic reaction. I don't often reach for higher coverage foundations or do any targeted concealing, so the results are usually less than ideal. Having said that, Posietint is a versatile, accessible shade of pink that's bright but still relatively toned down. As a lip product, it's useful for layering but works just as well on its own, and as a blush, it's a sweet, youthful pink that's neither overly reddish nor cool-toned.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Top 5 Low-End Eyeshadow Palettes

Following my Top 5 Low-End Eyeshadow Singles post, I've rounded up my top five budget-friendly/"drugstore" eyeshadow palettes. While I usually find myself reaching for my more expensive palettes, like the Urban Decay Naked palettes, NARS And God Created the Woman Eye Palette or Laura Mercier Lingerie Eye & Cheek Palette, every now and then I'll use these more affordable alternatives and be reminded that you don't necessarily need to spend big bucks to satiate all your eyeshadow needs and wants. It's only because I have so many palettes (and single/duo eyeshadows) that I don't appreciate and pay as much attention to these cheaper standouts.

MUA Heaven and Earth

MUA Eyeshadow Palette in Heaven and Earth
Into neutral eyeshadows? Then this is the palette for you. Take your pick from the selection of shimmery champagne, peach, bronze, gold, copper, taupe and chocolate shades. The shadows might not be as creamy, effortlessly blendable and pigmented as Urban Decay, but they still exceed expectations given their low price point. For a palette containing a high proportion of ultra wearable, all-over lid shades (and some highlighting and deepening colours to boot), you can't go wrong with Heaven and Earth.

Revlon Coffee Bean

Revlon ColorStay 12 Hour Eye Shadow in Coffee Bean
I consider Coffee Bean a good "drugstore" alternative to the Urban Decay Naked Basics Palette. My favourite colour is the matte light greige shade — a kind of colour you don't see very often among the more affordable brands. (I'm wearing it over the lid with some decorative paper lashes here.) I do find the shadows to be on the powdery side with quite a bit of fallout if I don't tap my brush first to minimise any loose pigment, but as you can see from the swatch, the colour payoff is good and the versatile shade selection allows for the creation of different looks that can be taken from day to night.

Revlon Naturally Glamorous

Revlon CustomEyes Shadow & Liner Palette in Naturally Glamorous
Revlon has had its fair share of dud eyeshadows (see ColorStay Mineral Eyeshadow in Midnight Garnet), and unlike their generally outstanding lip products, they're not exactly renowned for their eyeshadows, but along with Coffee Bean, Naturally Glamorous is a definite hit. Admittedly, I mainly use the first and fourth bronzy shades, but that's because I'm largely unadventurous and lazy when it comes to eye makeup and I don't like to deviate from what I know and love. The texture and overall quality of these warm-toned shadows are superior to Coffee Bean in that they're creamier, not as powdery, have less fallout and richer colour payoff (though at the same time, there aren't any matte shades). The plastic packaging is flimsy though, perhaps a design flaw as the palette unusually opens from the side rather than the bottom. The hinge of mine has fallen apart, reducing the functionality of the palette considerably.

Wet n Wild Comfort Zone

Wet n Wild Color Icon Eyeshadow Collection in Comfort Zone
Along with MUA Heaven and Earth and Sleek i-Divine Eyeshadow Palette in Storm, Comfort Zone was one lower end palette that I simply needed to have. I bought it relatively early on in my cosmetics obsession, having read countless rave reviews about how the shadows were comparable to much pricier brands. Sure enough, the pigmentation of the shadows in Comfort Zone is uniformly excellent. There is a bit of annoying fallout with some of the darker shades, so I usually try to steer clear of them. I was a tad disappointed that the bottom left Definer shade turned out to be closer to black than the rich chocolate brown it resembled in the pan, but it's not like I'm experiencing any shortage of chocolate browns, so I can live with that. I appreciate that Comfort Zone offers more variety than the brown/beige/grey palettes I stockpile, with even the odd green and orange shade in the mix. The incredible duochrome of the right Definer shade is what makes this palette in my opinion — MAC Club dupe, anyone?

Sleek Oh So Special

Sleek i-Divine Eyeshadow Palette in Oh So Special
Surprise, surprise — a Sleek palette is of course in here, but it's not Storm. I figured I only truly adore and use one shade in Storm, but Oh So Special is, well, just as its name suggests. I have to tip my hat to any cheaper makeup brand that includes not one, but two bright pink matte shades in a single palette. And the biggest revelation is that they're not at all terrible. You'd almost expect them to be underwhelming given the poor track record of matte shades from the lower end of the market, but they're actually intensely pigmented (ironically, the tamer, ho-hum matte dark brown Box was the only flop of this palette). The shimmery shades have an almost moist, spongy texture and they're vibrantly metallic with minimal fallout. Oh So Special is unabashedly flirty and feminine.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

April Favourites

With April done and dusted, we're edging closer to the middle of the year. I feel that in no time at all, Christmas music will be playing over the speakers in shopping centres once again. As the Game of Thrones saying goes, winter is coming, a particularly apt premonition on this gloomily overcast day as icy wind howls outside and I'm rugged up in a hoodie and very unhip men's polar fleece jacket from Kmart. April was chugging along nicely (and more leisurely than normal, with two consecutive long weekends thanks to public holidays), my respiratory issues seemed to be clearing up after I was prescribed an inhaler, I was still trying to eat better, avoid junk food and move more, until we received some unexpected family news. Now and then, something abruptly awakens you from the autopilot of daily life, and forces you to take a step back and reassess what's important. Sudden loss can be a potent reminder of everything we take for granted and have to be grateful for.

Lucas' Papaw Ointment
I know I once described this as "upgraded Vaseline", but I have a much kinder take on it now. My interest was rekindled after I saw a large tub of this on the coffee table of my friend's place when I was visiting. She loves the stuff and always carries a smaller tube around in her handbag. I do find it provides relief to dry, chapped lips better than other petroleum-based lip balms like Nivea Lip Butter. One unconventional use I have for it is smoothing a generous layer over my lips after applying my foundation in the mornings, waiting a minute or so, then wiping it all off with a tissue. I always find remnant foundation gets on my lips as I'm applying and blending it all over my face, leaving them looking pale and chalky. The Lucas' Papaw Ointment, with its clear, slightly thick but smooth texture, sinks into my lips, manages to take away all traces of foundation after I remove it with a tissue, but also leaves my lips soft and hydrated after.

Clarins Instant Light Natural Lip Perfector in 02 Apricot Shimmer
I could've easily included this in my recent Shop My Stash, since it's a product I neglected for no apparent reason. I have written a full review, and while it is probably a little overhyped for what it is (though mainly due to its elevated price tag and my existing excess of lip products), it's still a beautifully made lip gloss/balm that I enjoy using. I've been making a conscious effort to include it in my bag if I'm going out so I reach for it more. The elegant, feminine packaging is visually pleasing, the caramel/cupcake scent is delicious, and it feels luxuriously plush and comfortable on the lips. My only complaint is the colour (or lack of) — it's fairly pale and milky, and lighter than my natural lip colour, so not the most flattering look.

Essie Shine of the Times over Revlon Gumdrop

Essie Shine of the Times
I just raved about this, so at the risk of repeating myself, I could hardly take this off my nails the whole month. The only glitter top coat I'd rate as on par with Shine of the Times is China Glaze Snow Globe. Everything else can't quite compare.

Sukin Cream Cleanser
I finally used this 125ml pump bottle up after purchasing it during Priceline's 40% off skin care sale in late July last year. My skin has been acting up for inexplicable reasons, so I ditched my more drying, foaming Antipodes Juliet Skin-Brightening Gel Cleanser for something gentler. Apart from some mild paranoia about the shea butter in this potentially exacerbating my spots, I figured it's only going on temporarily and being washed off immediately after, so there shouldn't be any major issues. (Not to mention the actual moisturisers I use containing shea butter, which I don't seem to be as concerned about.) This feels really nourishing and nurturing on the skin and never leaves it feeling tight or craving moisture afterwards. I would say it's very comparable to more expensive cream cleansers from the likes of Trilogy or Antipodes, but at a much more affordable price point. I would repurchase, though preferably during another of Priceline's 40% off sales.

Archipelago Botanicals Caramel Soy Candle
My favourite discovery of April. I was casually browsing David Jones after a doctor's appointment and feeling prepared to treat myself to something. I was contemplating the new Glasshouse Birds of a Feather Pink Lemonade candle, or splurging on a Gascoigne & King Paddington candle, but then I turned around and saw the Archipelago stand. Not expecting anything, I gave their candles a cursory whiff and found myself pleasantly surprised. These were big, prominent scents that you could really smell. None of that subtle, faded, barely-there stuff. I was tempted by the unusual Wasabi Mint and the gloriously floral Peony, but in the end, it had to be Caramel. It hooked me instantly. Warm, inviting, full-bodied but not sickly. And there was a toastiness and slight popcorn note in there that made all the difference. It had the most significant throw of any candle I've tried and the scent lingered in my room the next day.

Inglot Freedom System Eyeshadow Pearl 402

l-r: L'Oréal Tender Caramel, Inglot 402, Maybelline Bad to the Bronze

Inglot Freedom System Eyeshadow Pearl 402
When Michelle of Eat Paint Sniff Glue declares she could be faithful to this one eyeshadow for the rest of her days, I pay attention. Naturally, when I stumbled across an Inglot counter on a rare trip to Bondi Junction Westfield, I couldn't leave without snapping Pearl 402 up. A single eyeshadow pan was $10, so I opted not to purchase the case it comes in for an additional $9. It makes storage a bit tricky, but until I get my hands on a Z Palette, I'm keeping it the right way up in its original box.

As for the shadow itself, it's one of those effortless, throw on, all-over lid neutrals, of which I have plenty, but another one in the mix never hurts. Especially not when it's as well-executed as this one is. My first experience with Inglot shadows doesn't disappoint — all the typical adjectives apply: smooth, buttery, highly pigmented. Minimal fallout. L'Oréal Infallible eyeshadow in Tender Caramel is more frosty and aggressively shimmery, cooler, with a lilac undertone. Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze is darker, more taupey and metallic in finish. 402 has more of a subdued satin finish and subtle rosy/mauve tones that give it extra warmth, though on my lids it still leans relatively grey/cool. It's probably everything I was hoping MAC Satin Taupe would be.
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