EMPTIES | June 2017

I skipped a month or four in empties, and now I’m very sick of containers in my bathroom.. so here we go again.

I know what you’re thinking – candles? Who do I think I am, Zoella?! Don’t worry, I’ve no such delusions. But I felt like mentioning that as of late, I’ve quite enjoyed lighting candles in my bedroom. I don’t know why I like it – ambience, or something I suppose. I picked up the one in the background from one of my workplaces – it’s a limited edition candle by Aroha Love Candles, a local company, and was sold for Matariki. It has notes of pomegranate, lemon verbena and pink grapefruit, but I can also pick up some vanilla and a touch of rose. The purple candle with the ambiguous ‘inspiring’ wording on it was a very strongly scented passionfruit candle (I think). My mama gave me it for christmas, which was lovely, as she normally hates candles.

Then we have a common sight – an empty LUSH pottle. This was for my first pot of ‘Santa FUN. I just use FUN as a shaving cream or to make some fluffy-af bubbles in my bath, but it can also be used to wash your body and/or hair, or mould things. This one smells like jasmine & ylang-ylang, which is a lovely combination and one I find very comforting, particularly in a hot bath in the middle of winter (which would be appropriate if I lived in the Northern Hemisphere).

Look, more LUSH! There’s actually two 100mL bottles of Vanilla Dee-Lite body lotion I’ve used up, but putting them both in the photo ruined the aesthetic, so live with it. As we all know, I love this lotion. It is thin, but still hydrates my lizardy skin – and it smells of vanilla. It’s truly my favourite, even though I go through quite a lot of product with each application. I also have here a wee pot of what was pink FUN – a sample I got in a Kitchen order, and popped in a cleaned-out lip scrub container. The scent would appeal to any small child, I think – sweet and candy floss-like – but it’s otherwise the same as any other kind of FUN.

A few things I’ve given up on are in this empties, including the EOS lip balm sphere in Pomegranate-Raspberry. When I was using it, I bloody loved this balm because it was delicious in scent and taste, but I don’t actually rate the balm itself as none of the ones I’ve tried do anything for my lips. I stopped using this one when I moved on to more effective lip balms, and when I found it recently I noted it’s lost any scent entirely – now it’s just a ball of waxy sadness. Also on this disappointing train is The Healthy Deodorant by Lavanila in a limited-edition Vanilla Snowberry scent. I ordered this mini-size LE on Amazon about christmastime, along with a 7-pack of the regular scents in miniature. This was completely dried out upon opening, and entirely unusable. I should’ve contacted Amazon for a refund, but I didn’t think that far ahead.

Next up is a wee brown bottle I’ll be reusing – it held Hello Tanya‘s incredible cuticle oil, a verifiably magical mix that hydrates my nail beds like nothing else. I have another bottle already, but Tanya said she could use spare bottles back so I’ll recycle this one!

One of the two mini things seen here is the HASK Argan Oil Hair Treatment. I used to love this stuff, but nowadays it’s too siliconey for my hair. I prefer the Wella SP Luxe Oil to smooth and treat my hair – when I remember to use it! The second mini is of the Goodness Every Evening Cream – I got this in my trial pack and it’s a great night cream. This mini size lasted ages and I liked it so much that I’ve bought the full size to use when I finish my current night creams.

 Aussie 3-Minute Miracle Deep Conditioner is a staple in my bathroom, no matter what kind – but I like the Beach Mate or Moisture variations best. I think I’ve mentioned it nearly as much as I have The Righteous Butter by Soap & Glory – a true gem of a body butter. Thick, creamy, sinks in fast, and smells like pink Shirley Temple drinks – it’s basically all I want in life. Sophie gave me this, and since using this up, I’ve already nabbed myself a large tub and another mini.

The final things here are face things – the Hourglass Mineral Veil Primer and the Goodness Every Morning Moisturiser. The primer is weirdly siliconey for the thin texture, and is actually not finished – it fell victim to the old “I’ll save it for a special occasion” plan, and then it began to smell overpoweringly plasticky, and started clumping up in the container – ick. The Goodness moisturiser also isn’t bad by any means; it’s a versatile formula that’s going to be suitable for virtually any skin – sensitised to oily, even dry. I didn’t finish it up because I am lucky enough to have an abundance of excellent moisturisers that are a bit more tailored to my skin type. If I didn’t have them, I’d definitely consider picking up this for a good basic formula of moisturiser.

So that’s it! What’ve you used up these last few months?

SKIN | Mini Reviews – High-End Skincare

More sample reviews! Here is a selection of trial-size sachets and tubes I’ve collected, from higher-end beauty brands. Do they live up to the hype?

Well, you’d better read on!

Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Capsules: These made my face feel a strange combination of siliconey and oily. Unpleasant. They also weren’t too beneficial for my skin, but I think they would be for older skins. Repurchase? No.

Bobbi Brown EXTRA Repair Serum: This felt lovely, but I didn’t need it – I just liked using it. It made no difference to my skin, but I’m not the target clientele for this product. Repurchase? No, perhaps in 10 years.

Clarins Multi-Active Night Cream: This smells quite herby and while at first I didn’t like that aspect, it did grow on me. It was a good night cream, perhaps a little oilier feeling than I really like though. I would advise caution for sensitive-skinned people, because of that fragrance aspect. Repurchase? If I couldn’t get my preferred products, sure.

Clarins Multi-Active Day Cream: This is quite a nice all-rounder cream, suitable for most skins and pretty unreactive. It’s for these reasons I keep a tube of it in my makeup artist’s kit; but I want my moisturiser to be a little more targeted for my skin’s needs. Repurchase? Only for my kit.

Clarisonic Refreshing Gel Cleanser: Terrible. Awful. WAY too harsh. Repurchase? No, no no no no.

Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser with Cottonseed:
This is the ‘normal’ skin version of a previous favourite, the Foaming Cleanser with Shea Butter. Despite the name ‘foaming’, the shea butter version isn’t too stripping, but this one was. A bit too much for my dry skin, but for oilier complexions it’d work. Repurchase? No.

Elizabeth Arden Flawless Future Night Cream:
This is really nice – thick and comforting, but not too emollient. It reminds me of my favourite, MAC Comfort Creme, but a little heavier on the dimethicone and a stranger scent. Repurchase? Maybe – but not if I can have my MAC one.

Shiseido Future Solution LX Cleansing Foam:
This is a little pot an ex-coworker gave me which had this cleanser in it. It was LOVELY, one of the only foam cleanser I’ve used that didn’t completely strip my skin. I think I preferred the Ibuki Gentle Cleanser a little more for my skin, but this is still a great product. Repurchase? No, just because I like the Ibuki one better.

Elizabeth Arden Flawless Future Caplet Serum:
I’ve written about this in an empties before, when I used up the full size. It feels nice and is enticingly sparkly, but I doubt it actually does anything – I certainly haven’t seen a marked difference. Repurchase? I’ll use up the other minis I have, but won’t repurchase in the full size.

Elizabeth Arden Flawless Future Eye Gel:
Eye gels are no replacement for creams, and this isn’t an exception. Unremarkable. Repurchase? No.

Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum: Oh, the famed miracle-serum. No idea if it’s actually intended for my skin, but it made it feel bloody lovely – constructive and hydrating, but not too oily. The same way my loved Clarins Double Serum makes my skin feel. Repurchase? Not unless I discover it has some benefits beyond what my Clarins one offers me, as that one is less expensive than ANR.

Elizabeth Arden Flawless Future Moisture Cream SPF 30+: This was a struggle for me to finish, as I really don’t like SPF in my moisturiser. I’ll admit, I’m lazy with SPF, but I’d rather pull my socks up and use seperate SPF and moisturiser, instead of taking a lesser-quality moisturiser. This gave me a white cast, didn’t hydrate enough and felt incredibly thick. Repurchase? No – but if you have normal skin and like a moisturiser with SPF, this would be a good one.

Estée Lauder Take It Away Makeup Remover: I don’t know what it was about this, but it didn’t live up to the hype at all. As a makeup-removing lotion, it felt like it did fuck all – and I don’t wear anything near as hardcore as Double Wear, so how is this supposed to work? I am aware this was an old (4-5 years) tube of my mum’s, which may have been a factor, but yikes – I needed my standard double cleanse even after this. Repurchase? No, give me an oil/balm cleanser any day.

Lipidol Cleansing Face Oil: This was a tiny sachet I used up over a year ago so this review is relying on one use, with a dodgy-at-best memory. Bear with. I do remember being surprised; it was better than I had expected, but certainly not a huge game changer. It was too fragranced and liquidy for my liking – an oil cleanser shouldn’t be the consistency of water. Repurchase? Unlikely – I’d try it again, but I already have oil cleansers I do love.

Estée Lauder Idealist Pore Refining Serum: I first used this nearly 6 years ago in a sample size, and I loved it. My barely-ever-touched skin loved this silky, refining serum, and it inspired my first fascination with my skin. I remember washing my face, putting this on and moisturising – then admiring my face in the mirror. Ah, the seeds of my future obsession. Repurchase? If I could afford it and my pores were more of a problem (like when I don’t use A/BHAs), I would.

What sample/mini things have you tried or used lately?

SKIN | 5 Mini Reviews – Aesop

In a move borrowed directly from Evelyn over at We Were Raised By Wolves, I have decided to begin posts on the samples I use up in my wee sample drawers. I always find Evelyn’s sample reviews so interesting, and they offer a chance to discuss the first responses we have to products.

First up, I’m reviewing some Aesop samples I was given in Melbourne* a few months ago – cleanser, exfoliant, toner, moisturiser and a mask. Each sample was quite small, but with the exception of the mask, provided me with ample product to cover my face. There wasn’t actually any dud in this selection, the lovely lady who served me clearly paid excellent attention to my skin needs and selected the samples accordingly as my face felt positively wonderful after using them all. I’ve definitely got a few on my to-purchase list..

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Fabulous Face Cleanser

This is a very liquid-ey, low-foaming gel that smells fresh (bergamot & citrus) but is not stripping. Left my face supple and refreshed, but didn’t leave behind residue – a dream of a cleanser. Mildly calming, too (which God knows my skin needs!).

Repurchase? Most definitely – on the list.

B & Tea Balancing Toner

Nothing like any other toner I’ve tried – where you normally think of toner as a watery essence, B & Tea is more of a liquid-leaning gel. As I find with most regular toners, I couldn’t see an immediate difference. But it felt refreshing and most importantly, hydrating (which most toners don’t really do for me, so it can’t be a bad thing).

Repurchase? I’ll consider it, once I’ve used up my current stash.

Camellia Nut Facial Hydrating Cream

When I first squidged this out of the packet I was rather taken aback by it’s yellowness. But it didn’t smell weird so I put it on my face, and I am so glad I did. It hydrated my notoriously dry skin wonderfully without feeling too balmy and taking an age to sink in.

Repurchase? Oh, fuck yes. Hello, summer moisturiser.

Purifying Facial Exfoliant Paste

This was the finest grit I’ve ever felt in a physical exfoliator, and the closest I’ve ever been to a physical polish of my skin. I used this on my skin when I hadn’t exfoliated (in any form) in quite some time, and it’s a good job I did because I would be mildly concerned about stripping layers off if I used this regularly – even gently. Having said that, a full-size would last bloody ages because you don’t need much at all.

Repurchase? Probably not, I have exfoliators close to this grit already and I don’t use them enough to justify purchasing this.

Chamomile Concentrate Anti-Blemish Masque

A drying mask that doesn’t freak my skin out? What?! I’m sold. Especially when it left my skin visibly clearer and managed to soak up excess oil without pulling all moisture from my skin. Magical.

Repurchase? Yes, but only when I’m feeling seriously flush with cash.


For the record: I have dry and sensitive, mildly reactive skin that likes to be looked after gently (hint: just like people, most skin likes being looked after gently). If you have similar skin and you’re looking for something in these categories, I’d highly recommend giving these products a try. Or you could do what I suggest other skin types do and pop into an Aesop retailer and ask the expert, because I can’t see your skin and even if I could, they’re much less likely to fuck up a product recommendation.

Have you tried anything from Aesop before?

 

 

*Flinders Lane Store – Miranda served me and she was an absolute gem. Truly a stellar customer service experience.

SKIN | Hell Pore Clean-Up Mask

Today I’m reviewing the most bizzarely-named product in my cupboard: the Hell Pore Clean-Up Mask by Korean brand Elizavecca. I found this bonkers thing in one of my favourite little Korean skin/cosmetic shops in the Auckland CBD, and the minute I read the name I knew I had to have it, despite results. Luckily for me, it works.

Elizavecca is a brand I’ve been interested in for a while, mostly due to the carbonated cleansing mask I keep hearing about (and have found on amazon, but am resisting). This one belongs in the same range as the clay one – the MilkyPiggy range, which I think is the little pig fella on the packaging. This range is supposed to be super effective at removing dirt, hence a pig is used (’cause pigs.. spend time in dirt, I presume?), and I can tell you that this mask in the range most definitely does that. The information I have found says this about the product:

” A peel off mask that effectively removes skin impurities in just one use. This mask gets rid of whiteheads, blackheads and dead skin cells all over the face to free the skin from deep-seated dirt that clogs the pores. This mask contains 4% charcoal extract and caragana sinica which help control excessive sebum while also providing an abundant supply of nutrients to keep the skin healthy and glowing all day.” – Memebox

But how does it actually fare?

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This is a whole new level of peel-off mask – very thick, very grey and VERY strong. It takes a bloody long time to dry so in that time you should prepare yourself, because when time comes to grab the edge and pull your eyes will water. This stuff sticks to your face about as strongly as spirit gum, and on first application smells just like the nit stuff my mother used to gas my scalp with when I was a child. It’ll pull out tiny hairs on your face, sebaceous filaments (not necessarily a good thing, but harmless) and all the shit on your face that you thought you’d already got off. Unfortunately, it also dries out your skin a fair bit, so I followed it up with Clarins Hydra-Quench cream-mask, but so long as you moisturise appropriately (or for drier-skinned people, use a hydrating mask like I did), you’ll be fine.

My skin is left clear, smooth as a baby’s butt and pretty much perfect for quite a while – you’ll not be needing any other clarifying masks for a fair few days with this one, and I’d suggest going easy on any exfoliation as you’ll have pulled more dead skin off your face than you knew you ever had and it will be a bit sensitive. While it most definitely lives up to it’s claims of dirt/crap removal and sebum control, I’d certainly hesitate to say it provides “an abundant supply of nutrients” to the skin. I found it very stripping on the skin, but that much is to be expected when you’re using something called a ‘hell pore clean-up’ mask, I suppose – you’re getting a lot more from this than any clay mask.

Repurchase? When I use this up, I’ll buy another tube of this crazy mask – nothing else has ever cleaned my face so thoroughly, and although it’s very rare I need to use it, it would be ace for anyone with excessively clogged skin.

Have you tried any Korean skincare products?

SKIN | 7 Mini Reviews – Kiehl’s

I used up some more samples – this time from Kiehl’s. I’d heard so much about numerous Kiehl’s products, such as the green eye cream and the famous Midnight Recovery Oil so I headed over to a counter and had a consult. I was suggested these products – but what did I think?

Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash

This face wash was a non-event – not bad, not good. It didn’t irritate my skin, sure, but it also didn’t clean particularly deeply. Repurchase? No.

Calendula Herbal-Extract Toner – Alcohol Free

Just like the cleanser, nothing special. Good that it’s alcohol-free, but as far as I’m aware this has no actual hard-hitting skin friend ingredients. Repurchase? Nope.

Centella Skin-Calming Facial Cleanser

This was the loveliest cream cleanser I’ve ever used, hands-down. It obviously didn’t foam, but still left my skin feeling clean and soft without the residue my Trilogy one sometimes leaves. Repurchase? On the list.

Skin Rescuer

I’d heard that this was a miracle-working moisturiser; it calmed angry skin, hydrated (but not too much) and balanced the skin’s mantle. But it did the opposite, and despite washing it off as soon as the reaction was obvious, I had plenty of pimples the next day. Repurchase? No, as much as I love the idea.

Creamy Eye Treatment

This is ridiculously thick and takes an age to massage in, but it hydrates wonderfully and smooths my under-eyes. It’s average under make-up. Repurchase? Using the full-size now.

Hydro-Plumping Re-Texturising Serum Concentrate

I really needed a good boost of hydration when I used this, so I popped this on and it was awesome. I was initially worried about the silicone-y smoothness it gave to my face, but that soon went away and it didn’t have the clogging effects silicone-based serums usually have. Repurchase? Perhaps next winter.

Midnight Recovery Oil

Oh, what high hopes I had for this. It felt lovely and smelt incredible – but the next morning, my face was covered in tiny surface pustules (yet under those, very glowy). A week later I tried again and sure enough it repeated. Yet to work out which ingredient it was. Repurchase? No, god no.

So on the whole, an equal split of hits & misses from this sample batch. I’m definitely interested in trying some more Kiehl’s products – but I’ll be taking their promises with a grain of salt.

 

Have you tried any of these Kiehl’s products? What do you think of them?

 

MAKEUP | Lashes for Days

The item I hear most about stashes of in the beauty blogger/vlogger world is mascara. Mascara goes off quicker than just about any other beauty product (you should be popping that tube in the bin 6 months after opening, by the way) and I can’t personally justify having more than one on the go at once, but I did find eight – yes, count ’em, eight – hanging out in my stash of things during a huge clear out recently. I thought it’d be a good time to do a bit of a run down of them, and tell you my thoughts – there’s a repurchase in there, 90’s-esque colour, and a packaging hatred, so get amongst for some lash-by-lash breakdown..

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Line-up: Bobbi Brown Smokey Eye; Maybelline Rocket Volume Express; Maybelline Great Lash Classic in Vision in Violet and Very Berry; Maybelline Great Lash Lots of Lashes; Revlon Photoready 3D Volume in Blackest Brown; MaxFactor 2000 Calorie in Brown Black; LA Colors mascara in brown

First up, Bobbi Brown Smokey Eye Mascara. This one is a miniature size, but oh BOY the price is not. Do you fancy dropping $57 on a mascara? Because I don’t, despite how perfect the product is. Smokey Eye Mascara is gorgeously black in pigment, lasts well and makes my lashes look long, and fluttery as fuck. I actually prefer the miniature size, because it means I can finish a mascara before it dries up and gets useless, but I don’t waste $30 when it does. Bobbi, please sell these perfect little minis. I’d drop the outrageous dollars I’m sure you’d charge on them, because I know how idyllic this stuff is – I just want a size I can finish!

Next, we set in on the half of this line up that Maybelline make. The Rocket Volume Express mascara was much-hyped in 2012-2o13, first brought to my attention by (then) Essie Button, but unavailable in NZ, as it remains to this day. It’s a pretty great one, separating lashes like no tomorrow and keeping them relatively same-looking all day, yet still easy to get off when all is said and done. It’s a plastic, mildly terrifying wand that will absolutely scrape your tightline and make you flinch several times, but if you’re happy to adjust then it does the job pretty well. Gets a little thick and spidery at the end of it’s life, but definitely one Maybelline need to bring to Antipodean shores. I hear the waterproof version is even better.

The Maybelline Great Lash formula is pretty damn iconic – around since the 70’s, the pink-and-green tube has several different incarnations – big/little wand, super-dark formula, blah blah blah.. and then, colour formulas! I picked up two from Amazon a while ago – ‘Vision in Violet‘, a playdough-purple monstrosity, and ‘Very Berry‘, a red mascara with the world’s most unimaginative name. These were technically fine – Violet was a bit thicker than Berry in my experience, but they both had a thin wand and average wear. On the whole, I have two words to say about Violet – never & again. It was a terrible colour and dried up far too quickly. Berry was actually pretty cool – being a burgundy it enhanced my blue eyes and really made them pop in a way a bit more obvious than the usual brown trick. However, trying to remove it was a horror film – despite thinking I had properly removed it all, I woke up to a terrified ex-boyfriend thinking there was something very wrong with my eyes. A lot of fun to own, but I’m sure the other few plum/burgundy mascaras out there will have formulas that outrank this.

The Maybelline Great Lash Brush Gimmick I chose to buy into was the Lots of Lashes brush – a tiny cone/heart-shaped brush that’s designed to get to every corner. I bought it because I’d been intrigued by it for a while and it was $11, but I bloody loved it – easy to get off, separates my lashes nicely, gets ’em all, and isn’t soul-rippingly expensive ($28 for a mascara that costs US$6 is a fucking rip, and you know it Maybelline).

Back when Kmart redid their makeup section, they sold stuff really cheap. I was well into brown/black mascaras at this time, and that’s when I picked up the Revlon Photoready 3D and the MaxFactor 2000 Calorie mascaras. Revlon’s offering stayed unopened for a while, and fell in love with Max Factor’s, which made my lashes look long and fluffy with it’s thicker, drier formula. I noticed as time went on that it flaked off onto my cheeks at the end of the day, and left my lashes looking pretty shite. I thought it was down to it needing to be chucked, so I picked up another one. Straight out of the shop, same deal. Gave it 7 tries and got fed up. No thanks, Max.

Revlon, had the opposite problem – as it got older it became wetter, and left lash imprints everywhere. I also found the name misleading – it did give a brilliant result (especially with that brush on there – long soft plastic bristles everywhere that got all my lashes and made them stand out of my face like nobody’s business) but I promise you there was no volumising going on there whatsoever. The final complaint I have about this one is packaging. It’s a good mascara, but a makeup bag space hog. Not my favourite mascara of them all, but I didn’t despise it. Not like..

LA Colors brown mascara – a nightmare I should’ve seen coming, given it cost me $3. It did fuck all, and was way to warm for anyone. It was cruelty-free though, so props for that. I ended up desperately trying it in my brows for a week, and then it got gloopy. Not a good time.

There you go – some thoughts on mascara. A post you didn’t know you’d want to read. Or maybe you didn’t – I don’t know. Now go forth, and don’t buy an LA Colors mascara.

New Fascinations: Colour/Lips

Continuing with my last New Fascinations post, I’m still focusing on makeup. Ironic given that I rarely wear it.. I know, I know. This time around, it’s colour products (highlighters, blush, bronzer, etc) and lip products – the things that’ve been launching the most lately. I’ve picked out the ones that stood out slightly more than the same-old face kits and high-coverage concealers, did some vague research and written some thoughts. Anyway, let’s get to it:


COLOUR


Lancôme,  Belle De Teint Mosaic Palette:
A summery limited edition, I am enamoured with this packaging. A giant diamondy compact is already all I want and need, but the inside is gorgeous too. Two contrasting colours of blush, and two of complimentary bronzer. The paler version is so-so, but just LOOK at that deeper one. Red blushes are my weakness.


YSL, Baby Doll Kiss & Blush Duo Stick:
 This launch feels very Korean-cosmetic-inspired. An extension from their existing Baby Doll Kiss & Blush liquid stains, this is a matte dual-colour balm that you can use on the lips and cheeks. It’s apparently very pigmented – I’d love to give it a go.


Benefit, Hoola Lite:
 Pale kids, rejoice. The cult bronzer is available in shades that won’t make you look like Jersey Shore! Definitely on my wish list – but I feel weird about buying it unless Benefit are planning to release a corresponding ‘deep’ shade too. Whitewashing isn’t cool.


BareMinerals,  Invisible Bronze Powder Bronzer: 
I saw Ruth Crilly swatching this in a recent video, and I’m mesmerized. It was smooth, gently pigmented and most importantly, not too warm. Get me to a Mecca so I can swatch it!


RMS Beauty,Magic Luminizer:
  The younger sister of a cult favourite, this is a champagne-toned, very natural cream highlighter. I think the original Living Luminizer will suit me better, but I’m glad they’ve released this for a wider range of tones.


BECCA,  Prismatic Amethyst Shimmering Skin Perfector:
NOBODY NEEDS A PURPLE POWDER HIGHLIGHTER. Please, stop the fuckery.


Lancôme,  My Parisian Pastels Limited Edition Shimmer Cubes
 Apparently you can use these things as a highlighter by swirling your brush across the cubes, or pick up a cube and apply it straight to your eyelid. Thing is, if they can be picked up and applied, it can’t be a very soft formula.. and the idea of dragging a sugar-cube of glitter across my eye makes me wince.


YSL,  Touche Éclat White Strobing Pen: 
Like the Touche Éclat, but instead of colour-corrective luminising goodness, it’s just white and ultra-super-glowy. I think this will either be god-awful, or absolutely stunning – no middle ground when it comes to Touche Éclat. If there is a problem, I suspect it’ll be in the blendability as this is where liquid/cream products tend to fall down. But if it’s good.. this will be a big seller.


LIPS

Revlon,  Ultra HD Gel Lip Colours: I’m not a big fan of matte lipsticks on the whole, so anything promising a moisturizing, comfortable texture and a decent pigment is something I’m keen on. I love the slimline packaging, too – much more elegant and precise than the usual. The shades I fancy the most are two pinky-plum ones: ‘Dawn’ and ‘Vineyard’.

Bobbi Brown, Art Stick Liquid Lip:  Bobbi have revamped their (excellent) Art Sticks to create a thick, demi-matte cream housed in a squeezy-tube, and these things are ace. ‘Azalea’ is the brightest and best new lipstick I’ve seen in a long time, and ‘Vintage Pink’ is one I would wear on the regular too. Selinah tells me these last for ages and don’t turn your lips into a desert, but Fleur de Force doesn’t agree – nonetheless, I need some for myself.

Antipodes, Moisture-Boost Natural Lipsticks: I quite enjoyed the previous incarnation of Antipodes’ lipsticks; it always impressed me how relatively opaque they were, given the all-natural ingredient list, and how well they wore. The whole line has had a face-lift, and new shades added – apparently the new formula is even more pigmented than before. I’m eyeing up ‘Queenstown Hot Chocolate’ and ‘Piha Beach’ Tangerine.

Benefit,  They’re Real! Double The Lip: These are supposed to be a combination of lipliner and lipstick – separate shades in the same cartridge, and shaped so the liner stays sharp. I can see how it should work, but what I don’t see is why you’d want one of these in such wildly opposing shades. Some match up and look quite nice, like ‘Lusty Rose’ (god, you can tell I’m on a Rose roll at the moment); but others such as ‘Pink Thrills’ just don’t match up for me.

L’Oreal Paris,  Infallible Matte Lip Colour: L’Oreal bringing in the weird and impractical packaging once again. These consist of a sponge tip applicator with a condensed pigment packed into the lid, so when you screw it on, it re-colours the applicator. There are obvious practicality issues here, but I also worry about the longevity of the sponge-tip applicator. Regardless, I want to try them. The reds and oranges look ridiculously pigmented, and ‘Virgin’ is a nice everyday colour.

Hourglass,  GIRL Lip Stylo: Everyone loves Hourglass: fact. No surprise then, that these new lip stylos have been such a hit. If I’m honest, I was a little disappointed – no innovative or particularly unique colours, and the formula seems a little less pigmented than I’d expect. However, I definitely have a bit of a hankering for two shades – ‘Activist’ and ‘Inventor’. Not too out there, but still interesting and flattering.

Kevyn Aucoin,  The Molten Lip Colour – Top Coat:  I’m pretty sure a lip colour ‘top coat’ is just a gloss, but I’m willing to put that aside for these gorgeous-looking things. They’re designed to be worn over lipsticks to add an extra dimension of holographic shine, and unlike most ‘holographic’ makeup, I am on board.

Lime Crime,  Diamond Crushers: These are a mega intense version of a lip top coat and are aptly named, because they do look like you have kissed diamond dust. I love the duochrome shift in most of them, and based on swatches, ‘Acid Fairy’ and ‘Trip’ look like the best. Having said that, I’m still not over the excessively dodgy antics of the company a few years ago, so I’ll pass.

So that’s it! There’s my thoughts on the newest things in makeup. Look out for the skincare edition coming up soon. In the meantime – is there anything I’ve mentioned that you’d love to or have tried?

New Fascinations: Eyes/Base

In the past year, I’ve noticed a steadily increasing stream of product releases. It seems every few weeks, multiple brands release new items into their arsenal and take the blogging world by storm – emails flood inboxes, flatlays are instagrammed, and YouTube hauls cut away to slick close-up demonstrations. Now more than ever we’re bombarded with overwhelming newness and hyperboles on the necessity of beauty products, but I’m easily bored when it comes to makeup. With such a steady stream of newness, my eyes start glazing over – for the most part, it all looks like the same contour palette. Despite this, over the past few months I have found myself with quite a wee list of interesting new products so I’ve done some poking around, swatching and investigating, and have a few thoughts on the latest items in the beauty world. This is a collection of things beyond highlighting drops and liquid lipsticks, that stand out and seem to offer us something different. Read on, and see if I’m as enthralled as people with affiliate links.


EYES


YSL, The Shock Mascara:
 This looks like YSL’s answer to Too Faced’s Better Than Sex (even the same colour cap). Very volumising, I hear it gives the oomph you want for lashes that seduce; and it comes in burgundy. Oh yes please, so long as it isn’t too sticky.


Nude By Nature, Eyeshadow Trio:
 Not the newest of the new, but I was so blown away by Nude By Nature’s relaunched single shadows, that I went in search of more. Their 3-pan palettes are well-curated and so, so tempting – the rose one is just begging to be mine.


Lancôme, Grandiose Liner:
 If you hadn’t heard, Lancôme have made a liquid eyeliner with a really weird handle on the brush. Word is the packaging innovation is just okay, but the formula is absolutely bomb. I’ve been looking for a smudge-free alternative to my Napoleon Perdis Matte Eye Ink, and I think this is it.


Rimmel London, Precise Eyeliner:
 Who doesn’t want royal-blue liner? It’s unusual that the more affordable brands take big colour risks in such products, and I’m glad – Rimmel are known for some excellent eyeliners, so I expect a solid product from them.


Maybelline, Eye Studio Master Drama Nude Eyeliner: 
This is a few months old now, but all my blogging friends are raving about the new (very long-named) Eye Studio liners from Maybelline. I was super impressed with their Colour Show liners a few years ago, and these are reported to be just as creamy and pigmented, with shimmer involved.


Benefit ,They’re Real! Duo Eyeshadow Blender:
 3 words. What the fuck?! The only good things I’ve heard about these were in a very-obviously sponsored video by Shaaanxo, and the rest has been (rightfully, it seems) negative. It’s 2017 – we’ve just begun to forget our unhygienic sponge-applicator sins of past, so please don’t bring them back.


L’Oreal Paris, Brow Artist Maker:
 This looks MAD. A kabuki-style, dense brush for your eyebrows? Attached to a plastic barrel of powdery stuff? I have Googled, and I can’t figure out how this could possibly work, but I am fascinated and desperately want to get my hands on one.


Stila, Magnificent Metals Glitter & Glow Liquid Eye Shadow:
 Another hugely popular recent launch, I was at first uninterested – I’m not keen on forking out $40 for a tiny tube of cream eyeshadow. But then the reviews started coming in, and I hear its incredible. Long-lasting, properly metallic and non-scratchy removal. Oh god. I DO need it.


Clarins, 4-Colour All-in-One Pen: 
Straight off the bat, this was never going to work. Clarins, what were you thinking? Making a pen with 4 thin cylinders of liner with no oxidation protection was always going to result in brittle, scratchy and dry liners that hurt people’s faces. I do love a good bit of stationery, but perhaps not when it comes to a product that’s going near my eye.


BASE

Estee Lauder, Perfectionist Serum Compact: I loved the original fluid Perfectionist foundation when I tried it, and I want a new compact solid cream foundation. This looks especially lovely, and has had good reviews.

Bobbi Brown, Retouching Wand: Yeah, these came out like 6 months ago.. but I still haven’t managed to swatch one. The idea, however, is right up my alley and Sophie reckons it’s good so of course, I want it too!

L’Oreal Paris, Fixing Mist: It’s not often I bother going all-out when doing makeup on myself, but when I do, it pisses me off when it starts transferring (though it’s usually due to a fault with my face). I refuse to drop lots on a setting spray and I hear great things about this, so I’d like to give it a shot.

Shiseido, IBUKI Smart Filtering Smoother: So I should’ve realised when I read the ingredients list that this wasn’t a thick, tub product. But I thought it was. Regardless I was excited, especially due to the SPF content. Then I searched actual, not-PR images and it’s a flat, squeeze tube thing. HALF the height of it is just the damn lid. Not excited anymore.

Urban Decay, Self-Adjusting Complexion Primer: The aforementioned Shaaanxo video introduced me to this – I watched her put it on her face and I actually saw a magic difference, so I thought I would very much like it. Now I’m torn, because I’ve also read a few bad reviews. I’ll need to get a sample.

NARS, Soft Matte Complete Concealer: Another big-scale launch in Beauty Land. Apparently this is no normal pot concealer; it really is soft! It won’t tug at your eyes! Velvety as fuck, and as always with NARS, very sleek packaging.

Kevyn Aucoin, The Loose Powder Brush: I love the shape of this thing, it looks like a broom you’d find on a spaceship. It’s goat hair, which I do love in a powder brush, and is a nice size – smaller than others I have, but still enough for my moon of a face.

By Terry, Hyaluronic Hydra Powder: To be honest, I haven’t looked up reviews for this. ‘Hyaluronic’ + ‘Powder’ are not words I normally pair, so my interest is piqued. The mini is $17 at Mecca and I have decided I’ll have it. Don’t talk me out of it.

BECCA, First Light Priming Filter: Yeah, fine concept.. let’s be real though, most consumers can’t be arsed getting on the colour-correcting train. It’s vital for makeup artists, but we have other tricks that don’t have a pants-shittingly expensive price tag.

What new beauty things have caught your eye recently?

January Favourites

I had a strange January; full of excitement, disappointment, busy days and boring days.  So, like a normal month.. but heightened. Regardless, I have more favourites than I have for the past few months, because I keep discovering pretty rad things – so here I am to boast about it.

Caitlin Moran – How to Be A Woman:
My best friend of going-on 6 years, Claris, gave me this wonderful book for Christmas. I’d long-heard of Caitlin Moran and had been meaning to read her books for a while, but Claris said she thought I’d especially love this one. Turns out I do, because Caitlin is exactly my kinda person. Witty, honest and utterly unabashed, she tells stories she’s lived that helped her recognise what it meant to be a woman for her. The stories seem at first a little random and other than being in chronological order, seem to just be entertaining anecdotes. But by the 3rd or 4th chapter, I began to see a pattern emerging – each chapter drawing to a close in a very natural way (compared to most narratives), and leaving me thinking “Oh, I remember when I had a similar experience..” and actually beginning to think about how different experiences helped develop and shape who I am as a woman. I think every lady should have a copy of this book, stat. No matter what, you’ll learn something – I even think my mum will like it.

Colourpop Super Shock Eyeshadow – Cat Nap:
As I may have previously mentioned, I’ve been trying to get a bit more wear out of my makeup by putting it on more often, and this kitten (haha.. geddit?) has made it a lot more fun for every day. My beautiful friend Sophie gave me this shadow for Christmas, and I do genuinely love it. It’s a little icier than most shimmery pinks I’ve seen or own, and I love the sparkly glimmer it adds to my eyes. It does fall down a little and wears off after about 4 hours, but I don’t mind because that’s about all the time I go out for most days.

Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow Stick – Sand Dune (Mini):
I’ve had this cute lil’ fella rolling around in my makeup bag for a while now, and while I do use it every now and again (cream shadows are great for travel), it’s very much come into it’s own this month. Now I’m wearing a bit more makeup I’m really appreciating my fast/multi-use products, and this one fits right in. A medium matte brown, I can draw some all over my lid and blend for a nice light layer in a hurry; or if I’m feeling fancy I might pop a little in my crease and blend it out before chucking another colour on the main lid. It’s quick to apply, and once it dries down, lasts a FUCKING long time.. I’m telling you.

Elizabeth Arden 8-Hour Cream Lip Protectant Stick – Blush:
On Boxing Day, I took myself to the Newmarket Life Pharmacy in the hope that the Elizabeth Arden counter would have my favourite lip balm on sale. They didn’t, but I needed it anyway. I got chatting to the counter girl (who I’m afraid I can’t remember the name of, but was probably the greatest person I interacted with all day), and she surprised me by letting me know that I qualified for the GWP, a full size of the Lip Protectant Stick I already know I bloody love. I was bloody stoked. It’s a tinted one, and it makes your lips a lovely ‘look-at-me-aren’t-I-beautiful’ pink, WHILE protecting them from the sun and hydrating them excellently. This is now attached to me permanently, until summer is over.

LUSH Bubbly Shower Gel:
Also scored in Boxing Day sales; I had originally planned to get the 250g size of this shower gel, but the sales assistants pointed out I could have twice as much shower gel for $6 more, so I took their advice and now I have the biggest bottle of shower gel I have personally ever seen. Good job though, because I love this scent. It’s the Celebrate scent, just like the body lotion and the Golden Wonder bath bomb, and it smells like orange Fanta when I use it in my hair. It never fails to make me feel super happy and sparkly, no matter the mood I was in previously – fitting, given it’s designed to smell of fruit and champagne!

REN Wake Wonderful Night-Time Facial:
Mecca Newmarket didn’t have my Holy-Grail mask (the REN Glycolactic Radiance Renewal) in stock when I popped in, so I decided to try their relatively-new offering in the same line. Designed to gently but thoroughly chemically exfoliate your face overnight, it obviously has lower actives & acid levels – but it still works and you do get more product than the mask, so it all evens out. As it’s to be layered with serums and before moisturiser, it doesn’t dehydrate or injure the skin, just does it’s job and leaves your skin fresh when you cleanse in the morning. Perfect the night before a big day when I want to impress people I have crushes on by making my face look especially gorgeous.

Aesop Camellia Nut Hydrating Facial Cream:
I chatted a little about this in a brief round-up here, and when the Auckland Aesop store opened I knew I needed a jar of this in my life. The time finally came this month to wave goodbye to moisturisers of old, and crack this open. Upon first application, I was instantly reminded why I had been dreaming of this cream for near-on a year – it’s light, yet hydrates every patch of skin; protective but doesn’t leave a film on my upper dermis. Super soothing and not gluggy, I fucking adore this. I don’t use a lot either, because I don’t need to – yet another box ticked. This is how a high-end, quality moisturiser should make you feel.. in skin paradise.

Soap & Glory – The Righteous Butter (mini):
Another Sophie gift, that she must’ve read my mind to choose. I’ve been kicking myself since I left the UK over  years ago for not investing in more Soap & Glory bodycare, which hasn’t been helped by the constant praise I hear for it from my favourite UK bloggers. Soph gave me The Righteous Butter, a super-thick body butter ideal for very dry skin (hi, that’s me) and carries their signature Pink scent. I am so, so in love. This tiny tub has lasted 3 full-body applications (no small feat), and has at least one more in it. I am ordering more on Boots.com as we speak, because I never want to smell like anything that’s not sherbet again.

What were your favourites in January?

December Favourites

Lavanila Deodorant – Vanilla Passionfruit:
Lavanila is a deodorant brand I’ve been wanting to try for a few years now – ever since Esteé started raving about it. Luckily it’s available in Sephora in Australia, and my brilliant and kind friend Sophie offered to pick me up some things while she was in Melbourne. I’m a convert – it’s gentle and non-irritating on my annoying eczema-prone underarm skin, and smells amazing, all day. I’ll note that when it goes on it’s a thick white paste, but I assure you it doesn’t mark or stain any clothes. My trusty Bionsen deodorant has a contender!

Oasis Sun SPF30 Suncream:
As a translucent, milky-white skinned specimen I usually smirk at SPF 30, but it turns out that’s quite a naïve view. I’ve used this as my only suncream, both as day-to-day facial skin protection and as a dedicated sunburn prevention in direct sun. Both ways its excellent, and while I know it’s not supposed to be water-resistant I’ve been consistently and impressively protected, even spending all day sunbathing in the pool.
I do have to say that I’ve not tried too much from Oasis Beauty. However, I’ve definitely heard good things, and I’ve been so enamoured with this stuff that I think I’ve found a new brand to scope out..

Nude By Nature Single Eyeshadow – #12 Quartz:
When a palette I’d been wanting was sold out in Sephora, I asked Sophie to surprise me with anything she thought I’d suit in the palette’s place. She brought me back this shadow from Nude By Nature and holy shit I am so glad. I’d never really looked too far into Nude By Nature, and while I had seen they’d revamped their range and begun bringing out new things, I never looked too closely – my mistake. If this eyeshadow is anything to go by, I’m surprised the whole range isn’t sold out! It’s buttery, hugely pigmented, housed in in gorgeous copper-toned packaging and flatters my blue eyes like few other things do.. what’s not to love?

MAC Studio Fix Powder Foundation:
Okay, so this is far from a new item – in fact, it’s half gone. But this month I’ve had an extra appreciation for my ‘lazy face’ foundation, my MAC Studio Fix powder. I don’t wear a great deal of makeup (I know, what kind of MUA am I?!), and when I do I like it to be able to be done fast. Studio Fix lets me chuck on an even-ish layer of base in a heartbeat, and doesn’t protest when I want to add further powder on top. It settles on my skin pretty quickly at this time of year, and doesn’t suck all the moisture from my skin.


Hello Tanya’s Nail/Cuticle Oil:
Now that I see Tanya on a semi-regular basis and my nails are beginning to bounce back from The Acrylic Experience, I’m making an effort to actually care for them. Hand cream was a basic step, but then Tanya explained that to do my hands justice, I should use cuticle oil too. She’s begun to make and sell her own blend, and it is the TITS. Seriously, you’ve never tried a more nourishing and wonderfully-scented oil, and definitely not one that sinks in as fast as this (without leaving a filmy residue, too). It’s only available in limited quantities, so I suggest you check Tanya out lickety-split; quite aside from the cuticle oil, her expertise is a surefire ticket to snazzy nails.

Real Techniques Blush Brush:
I don’t have the hugest collection of makeup brushes compared to your average MUA, but I definitely have more than enough – especially when it comes to powder brushes. I’m not sure why, but I significantly prefer a more tapered and fluffy brush to apply my powders, and the Real Techniques Blush Brush hits the mark dead-on. It reminds me of the Bobbi Brown Powder Brush in it’s style, but it sheds much less, and weathers a lot better. It’s been working seamlessly with the aforementioned MAC Studio Fix Powder Foundation to give me a finish that’s even, but not too heavy.

Goodness Every Evening Night Cream:
As I mentioned in last month’s Favourites post, I’ve been trialling the Goodness range, from the people behind Trilogy. In that post I professed my love for the Chia Seed Oil, and in this post I’m all about their night cream. Morgan raved about it last year, my friend Nicole is a fan and now I’m jumping on the bandwagon. The chia seed oil base is nourishing and soft without being heavy or reactive, it doesn’t interfere with my various other skincare layers and it smells of honeysuckle. Oh, it also lasts AGES. Seriously. I use this nearly every night and I’m not even halfway through my mini size. I’ll have absolutely no problems paying $24 for the full size.

What products did you love in December?