Bite Sized Five – Thoughts on Things

I’ve been sick recently and it’s been hard to compile thoughts, but here are’s a quick grab bag of products that I’ve been wanting to share my thoughts on. Sometimes I start using a product a lot and I develop stronger thoughts on it and no one cares about them so I need a venue for that. This is the venue.

It Cosmetics Bye Bye Undereye Illumination – I should really update my Basics of Bases post, but a few products in that remain solid, including how I feel about the original Bye Bye Undereye concealer in that I love it when I need some hardcore coverage. I got a deluxe sample size of the newer version – the “illumination” version – and it’s…okay. It still gives me the same coverage, which is great. There’s no evidence of any darkness under my eyes when I put this on. However, the illumination factor is downright silvery in some lights, and it means that unlike the original you cannot use this or any excess on blemishes and if it isn’t blended studiously, you will be able to tell. I can only wear this concealer with a full coverage foundation, lest I end up a glittery mess – perhaps it would be a better option on someone with more darkness under their eyes that they’re trying to counteract, but I would worry about this highlighting it rather than erasing it. In short: not for me.

The Body Shop Matte Clay Foundation – From that same blog post, another product I still love and have completely surprised myself with is the Body Shop Fresh Nude foundation. It’s a relief, considering I really ought to wear it to work every day. For easy makeup that looks like skin, it’s the best. It’s still hard to fight my makeup loving instincts for full coverage makeup that looks like makeup, and while the new Matte Clay foundation is not at all an easy foundation, I am at the point in the learning curve where I’m totally into it.  This is not a foundation that forgives poor preparation or skincare – you need to prep and prime within an inch of your life. I love this with the primer I’m going to talk about in this post, actually. But I cannot skip moisturising or weekly physical exfoliation if I’m planning on wearing this, because it will find dry patches I did not know I had. It’s similar to the Tarte Amazonian Clay foundation in coverage and feeling, but it’s less thick and mask-like, but also less forgiving. It does share the property of being extremely long wearing and it keeps me matte to the high heavens, which I honestly was not expecting. It looks like makeup, but sometimes I want that – with heavier eye makeup and full contour/highlight, sometimes I feel like I need a more present base. The shade range on this one, though, is dismal. When I can wear shades three through seven, it’s a bad sign.

I’m ridiculously high maintenance, and I’ve found that my perfect work foundation is a combination of this one and the Fresh Nude. More forgiving than this alone, more matte and with more coverage than just Fresh Nude.

Zoeva Matte Full Spectrum Palette – I’m so boring and I just love matte eyeshadows. I’ve just been picking a few and then slapping on some g old glitter shadow or a beige satin and I’m good to go. This is a great palette for allowing me to do looks with greens or reds or blues depending on however I’m feeling, and it doesn’t waste my time with lazy metallics that I can just rip from other palettes. The Zoeva mattes are definitely stiffer than something like a Kat Von D or Anastasia matte, but they blend nicely and are good for building – you have to start small and work up, and I appreciate that. It stops the tendency to just rush overboard with orange and purple. It’s expensive – priced fairly, but it’s huge – and at more than $70, it’s only worth it if you know you’re going to use a spectrum of matte colours.

The Ordinary High Adherence Silicone Primer – I wrote recently about my enjoyment of The Ordinary’s other primer, the High Spreadability Fluid Primer, in a recent post. My enjoyment of that one lead me to pick up this option, which I was worried was going to be overly thick and tacky a la the Deciem Matte 12. Thankfully, this has the slight type of tackiness that is beneficial in a primer and helps to keep foundation adhering. Since it’s silicone based, it has the same smoothing action as the other primer. It feels lighter on the skin than the High Spreadability primer. That’s nice, sometimes. I wouldn’t wear this by itself, and it’s not the most effective pore filler around, but it’s become my go-to primer over the past few weeks. Frequency of use is okay, because I can actually afford to replace it (it’s around $10AUD from Myer), unlike the battle that is replacing NYX Angel Veil or the price of replacing Hourglass Mineral Veil.

Tarte Lights Camera Lashes – Tarte, as a brand, are not my cup of tea. I used to swear by their Amazonian Clay Foundation when I was young and struggling with texture, but then I realised that the heavier foundations weren’t always the best solution. Whoever posted a racist meme on their instagram today and then blamed an intern? Yikes. That all said, this mini mascara came in the Christmas lash stash (I redeemed for the Make Up Forever Excessive Lash), and it’s a pretty popular one on the scene so it deserves comment. It’s nice. If you want very long, fluttery lashes that don’t clump together, this is a good mascara for that. Not too wet or too dry. On initial application, it’s one of the most false lash adjacent mascaras I’ve ever tried. However! My god, this mascara does not stay on. I don’t generally struggle with mascara running as a rule, which is why I find this notable. I seldom opt for waterproof mascaras but this mascara, after four hours, had flaked all over my under eye area and at six hours was smudge city. So all in all, that outweighs the initial prettiness for me. I’ve been using it up through layering – it’s lovely on the top lashes only, working with a far more durable and volumising mascara. I’ve enjoyed using this alongside the Buxom mascara, which I’ll probably write about soon, as it’s become one of my absolute workhorse products.

I tend to avoid writing about lip products here, but a special shout out rant about the Nars Power Matte Liquid Lipstick packaging. Beautiful, beautiful products on the lips – I have Starwoman and it’s an absolutely gorgeous red – but be it a faulty item or a fault of a lack of proper stopper and a very thin product, this thing leaks everywhere. I have red liquid lipstick all over my handbag. Caution advised.

That’s all my cut down rants and rambles for the moment, but I’m sure more are soon to come.

Advertisements

What’s New? Fenty Beauty Match Stix Skinsticks Review (and bonus foundation first impressions)

I wanted this to be a short review because I haven’t owned these for long enough to get too in depth, but I have a lot of things to say. Mostly, I have those things to say because everyone on the internet is in the throes of Fenty obsession. Like any good blogger, I’m always here to jump on a trend midway.

A few days ago, Rihanna’s makeup line launched worldwide. Everyone went a bit wild, and I’d say rightfully so. At launch, the foundation range had 40 shades, going far beyond the shade range of most well established foundations. There’s a heavy emphasis on wearability for darker skin tones, which is extremely rare in mainstream makeup. I know that this line is not made for me primarily, and that’s lovely. Not everything needs to be for me. So while I took a sample of the foundation – in 120,  for reference – I was surprised by the other things that caught my eye. I ended up making my own little trio of the Match Stix, a product I was expecting to walk past completely.

21733500_10155850029145039_2027374971_o

I picked up one of the matte match stix for cream contouring, Amber, and two of the shimmer options, Trippin and Confetti. They magnetise together in honeycomb patterns, which is cute but ultimately just a little gimmick for fun. Individually they retail for $37AUD or $25USD. There are also premade sets of three for different skintones which are considerably better value at $79AUD or $54USD. The reason I opted out of that was that they contained a) a matte concealer/cream highlight, which is a product type I do not use, b) the shimmer highlight colours were all pretty conventional and easy to dupe. I wanted something a little more bespoke.

Here are swatches of the three I picked up.

21733593_10155850029625039_1244073755_o
Top to bottom: Fenty Beauty Amber, Trippin, Confetti, and Milk Makeup Holographic Highlighter Stick for comparison

First up, Amber. All of the matte shades I swatched had smoother, less stiff consistencies than the shimmer match stix. This was no exception, and it was by far the coolest of the fair contour shades. On the odd occasion that I do go for a contour, I like it to be very easy and very natural looking, so I like these very shadow-esque cool shades on my skintone. On warmer skin, colours like these can look a little odd – it’s all an undertone thing – but you all know my feelings on makeup for correction vs. makeup for fun and messing around. Do your thing. Still, this is basically the platonic ideal of a cream highlight for me, a person who does not cream highlight. I swipe it on where the hollows of my cheeks would be if I were less round faced, perhaps a bit around the edge of my hairline, and blend it out with a sponge. It takes a couple of seconds and it doesn’t leave any harsh lines. I’m wearing it in almost every photo you’ll see later. In a surprise to myself, this is my favourite thing I picked up.

Trippin is far more subtle than I anticipated on swatching it. It’s very much a peach with gold shimmer, consistent with most of the shades in the collection, while a couple are like Confetti and err more on the side of glitter. My skintone twin sales assistant at Sephora recommended this one to me as a natural glow with a bit of a twist, and I went against my instincts to take her advice.

21729972_10155851653055039_1288817396_o.jpg

 

You can barely even see it here, on my strangely angled face with my bare skin sans light contour and highlight, but this is the highlight swiped on once and then patted out. It’s stiff on application but disperses very easily with fingers or a sponge. I wouldn’t advocate for a brush, unless it is particularly dense. Lovely for everyday, so for me, not that often. I wish highlights were easier to photograph when they weren’t blue and purple.

 

Confetti is, thankfully, a lot easier to photograph. It is spectacular to behold. I swatched it next to the Milk Makeup Holographic Highlighter stick because I was immediately reminded of it. My irritation with that one is that it’s the very editorial high gloss look that I infrequently go for. Confetti is far more reliant on glitter for its purple/blue shift rather than glossy shimmery sheen, so it’s horrible for texture but I much prefer the look overall. It’s the stiffest formula of the three match stix I have, and the hardest to disperse with the most glitter fallout. That said, it’s also the highest impact. You do have to work harder to diffuse the initial purple streak on your face and the glitter atop it, but it’s not that much more work than other formulas I’m used to that are more pigmented at their bases. It is also very easy to use this one warmed up on the palm and then patted on, but I would still be very wary of glitter getting around the place.

21733526_10155851653045039_1460987402_o.jpg

 

Better photo coming later – this is a more subtle application, but I have showed it built up in a full look below. Also, note how good Amber looks as a contour. I can see myself using this a lot on my days off. In fact, I’m using this today. Speaking of today…

 

 

Bit of a bonus look. I’m feeling surprisingly enthusiastic about these products – Trippin less so, but definitely Amber and the more I wear Confetti, the more I want to talk about it – so I based my whole look off of Confetti to the max today. I also tested out the foundation, so continue on for a first impression of that. On the off chance that you’re interested. Here’s Confetti built up, used as the inspiration for the rest of a look:

21733794_10155854666580039_454142581_o.jpg

My base is the Fenty Beauty foundation in 120 with Amber as a contour and Confetti as a highlight, topped with a bit of Mac Soft Frost for some extra intensity. I have a Moonshot Jelly Pot in Aubergine on my eyes, topped with a tiny bit of Confetti, and my lips are Kat Von D’s Ayesha topped with Black Moon Cosmetics’ incredible new matte glitter lip topper in Luna. I love how the highlight looks layered and built up, and I can’t get over Amber as a contour.

First impressions of the foundation? Someone on reddit commented in passing that it seems to have been designed for photography, and there is some kind of witchcraft going on in that respect. To my eyes, this foundation looks…average. I primed half of my face with my current favourite primer (The Ordinary’s High Adherence Silicone Primer), and neither side had any difference in application or appearance. Both look like they’ve settled into my pores very quickly and it looks very very dry, even on my distinctly normal/combination skin. And yet, in photographs – admittedly not that high quality photographs – this foundation disguises all of its flaws.

Here’s a before and after of my skin in this foundation:

BeFunky Collage.jpg

I mean, sure, it still looks pretty funky around my nose and the moustache I refuse to remove. But I assure you that in real life, this foundation looks pretty average for a foundation. The coverage is decent but not great. It doesn’t smell super strong, which it can hold over the foundation I would liken it to on the skin out of my experience in the foundation world – the Lancome Teint Idole Ultra. It’s also lighter than that, but feels similar and looks similar on the skin. In terms of making my skin look great in person, I’ve never quite topped the Giorgio Armani Lasting Silk. This is, notably, half the price. I also think that it’s no fault of the foundation: this is not a foundation for me. Or perhaps it is, but not right now. This foundation is for people with oily skin and limited textural issues. It covered my redness beautifully, but latched on to every bit of texture around and felt incredibly dry. Not every foundation needs to be for me. I’ll come back to it once more of those 30 degree days roll around and see how my thoughts evolve.

All in all, I appreciate the cohesiveness of Fenty Beauty’s branding and I don’t fault people for being unable to separate a brand face from their feelings regarding the brand in a world of fast capitalism and hyper consumerism. It’s the world we live in and we need to be conscious of it and evolve around it. I think greater diversity in shade range can only ever be a good thing, but that doesn’t mean anything is above criticism, nor is it deserving of backlash for backlash’s sake. Balance and critical consumerism at all times in an industry that profits, largely, off exploiting the insecurity of women. Let’s criticise that while we continue to enjoy the parts of it that we do, like the creative element and the opportunities – oft missed – for diversification and the copious amounts of glitter.

An Ordinary Review of The Ordinary Products

I delayed this a little bit and am going to blame the fact that I wanted to give a proper go to the Advanced Retinoid. In reality, life was being terrible. I’m working too much and university is hard when you’re a Sick GirlTM. Enough excuses! Let’s talk about the brand that everyone and their mother has already written about at length, far better than I ever will: The Ordinary.

When it first launched in Australia, I had a lot of thoughts about The Ordinary. It was at the online tipping point between hype and backlash, so the Powers That Be on who dictate what’s hot in skincare on reddit were roughly split on it. It was also not yet available at Priceline, so it was a tricky brand to get your hands on – my first two products were purchased at the Deciem store in Sydney. Deciem is one of those does-it-all-brands with about fifteen things under the umbrella, with everything from fairly well known product lines to the very weird (Hylamide has been available in Australia for a fair while and is roughly mid-range in the priceing scale; brands like inhibif sell products that are supposed to inhibit hair growth. That’s a bunch of stuff I am not touching). The Ordinary sits at the lower end price wise and sells a bunch of specific products aimed at incorporating into a routine to perform a specific function, be it as an AHA or a Hyaluronic Acid or a Vitamin C suspension. They’ve also more recently delved into colour cosmetics. Of course, you know all this. You’ve watched the good and bad videos on Youtube, you’ve read comprehensive overviews like this two-parter at Lab Muffin, which I love because she always goes into the nitty gritty skincare science.

There are lots of pros and cons to a brand like this. Because of the pricing, the products are simple but are also packed with some filler of varying quality, so your mileage may vary on efficacy. I also hate the cult like mindset that falls both for and against this range, and it’s definitely one of the brands that really cultivates that. I enjoy treating myself to skincare occasionally, and you aren’t getting luxury here, but if you want a workhorse there are some things here that feel really decent. I would like to re-emphasise: It’s very, very hit and miss. Do your research. Try things out where possible – the brand is now available at Myer and Priceline and some places have testers. They may be cheap, but cheap is only good if you’re going to use it. Of the four products here that I have tried, there are two that I adore or at least like and two that I am utterly ambivalent towards.

Let’s start with the product that has become indispensible to me – the High-Spreadability Fluid Primer is excellent. It’s incredibly slippery and very much on the liquid side of things, but for smoothing the texture of my skin without feeling thick and sticky, I’m yet to try anything similar. It absolutely won’t be for everyone. I’ve read a lot of complaints about it sliding off of people’s faces, and I might try their other primer come the warmer weather, but for the moment I have been absolutely in love with this one. Bar the packaging, that is. This dropper format for this formula is absolutely atrocious. It doesn’t drop and I just end up wiping the pipette on my hand.

I’ve never used a retinol or retinoid before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect with the Advanced Retinoid 2%. For someone with a bit of scarring and a whole bunch of texture to my skin, I knew that retinol was the hot thing on the market, but I wasn’t going to pretend to be knowledgeable about how it functioned. If you want to actually find that stuff out, please refer to someone with more education than myself. What I can tell you is that I was pleasantly surprised by this product. I experienced no peeling with it, which is always the horror associated with retinol type products. It’s gentle enough to use regularly and I didn’t find it excessively drying or uncomfrotable. Really the only discomfort comes from the fact that it smells vaguely like rubbing white wine on your face. It fit in nicely to a routine because it was quite light, and though I didn’t ntoice results particularly quickly, I do feel like continued use did positively impact my skin.

I’m on the fence with regards to the Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2%. I’ve used other treatments  with lactic acid before – like Sunday Riley’s Good Genes, and a few others. Good Genes worked wonderfully for me, but nothing has come close and my god, it’s unacceptably expensive. I wrote about The Ordinary’s option here, but since then I’ve got a bit lazy with it. I’ve been increasingly dissatisfied with the thickness of it, and I find that I break out if I use too much. I have to balance it out with other products carefully, and it’s more work than I want to do on my standard night. You also need to let it sit for a while, lest it become sit on the skin quite sticky. I do enjoy it as an affordable AHA, but if Good Genes didn’t cost $130 it would be the obvious choice for efficacy and feeling on the skin, despite all the bullshit marketing.

When it comes to the Niacinmide 10% + Zinc 1%, I don’t really have any feelings. Niacinamide is an ingredient commonly used for scarring and pigmentation, and for the ever elusive improvement of the appearance of pores. I don’t obsess over the size of my pores, because pores are just a part of being a human and we need them and the idea that skin should be smooth and poreless is so gross to me, but this product was the one everyone recommended for breakout prone skin so I gave it a go. It kind of just…didn’t do anything, even with extended use over the course of months. It seems like my skin doesn’t tend to get along with niacinamide in general, from my limited experience with this and Paula’s Choice and its presence in low levels in other products. I didn’t do a carefully monitored test with controlled variables on this product, but I was definitely breaking out more while I was using it. I have heard other people say that this is their single favourite product from The Ordinary, so like with all skincare, your mileage may vary.

 

I’m glad I’ve had my fix of The Ordinary. It’s definitely satisfied the curiosity that the endless internet hype and backlash cycle has seeded in me. It’s made me a lot more practical when browsing their products and certainly less likely to spontaneously order something online rather than waiting til it hits Australian shores. I’ve crossed a lot off of my to-try list – I’ve lost most of my interest in the Vitamin Cs of different kinds, for instance – but there are a few things I’m now a little more eager in my anticipation of: I’m very interested in the performance of the High Adherence Silicone Primer, not to mention their newer foundations that haven’t come to Australia yet. I might try my hand at the Retinol 1% once I’ve finished my 2%, just to see how my skin goes with it, and I’m very curious about their AHA+BHA 30 Minute peel even though I doubt my skin will tolerate it, because it will be in a price range I’m comfortable testing it out for.

Whenever a brand comes out with products surrounded by huge amounts of hype, be realistic. Consider what the brand is actually offering: single actives as opposed to products that encompass lots of different benefits, as opposed to extrapolated claims made by word of mouth, in this case. Consider what you’re paying for in both cheap and expensive cases; consider what the experience of a product is worth for you. For me, sometimes it is worth it for a product that spends a long time on my face to feel nice and smell lovely without irritating my skin, even if those additions come at a price hike. Try something new, but don’t try something unrealistic. I think that’s my new thing: realism in beauty. It’s harder than you’d think.

 

 

July 2017 Empties and Reviews – Light and Late

As I mentioned in my Battle of the Holographic Highlighter Palettes, I’ve been a little more absent than usual. I’ve been spreading the blog love to populating my pop culture review blog, Sara Watches Stuff, and I’m back at university again.

I’ve had a light month on product usage, and I’m later than normal. Any excuse to clear out the garbage that’s populating the corner of my room, right? Let’s talk about it. A lot of things I’ve spoken about before!

20629039_10155733897600039_1835452380_o

The Body Shop Vanilla Chai Shower Gel – I talked about this here and here and it’s still sweet, cinnamony deliciousness. It was back in the recent sale and I picked up three bottles, so more will come. Repurchase? Bring it back.

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid – Apparently the full size of this took me nearly a full year to finish up! The full size packaging is far superior to the travel size, and religious BHA usage is the only thing that helps to keep my under-the-skin forehead bumpiness at ease. Repurchase? Already have. I am not a huge fan of anything else I’ve tried from Paula’s Choice, but I’ll continue my patronage for this. If you know something better, I’m open to suggestions.

Verb Hydrating Mask – This was fine? It was a moisturising hair mask and my hair did feel really nice and soft. It seems like almost any hair mask will do that for me, though, and this didn’t surprise me as much as the Christophe Robin hair mask did from the same Sephora Favourites pack. Repurchase? Most likely not.

Benefit They’re Real Mascara – I hated this. In a Bite Sized Five review, I said it was lovely when used with a great deal of care – apparently I’m not capable of that level of care. It was awful to remove and I poked myself in the eye exponentially more than usual. Purchase? Absolutely not.

La Roche-Posay Redermic C10 – From the final Marie Claire Parcel, this was a 10% vitamin C treatment that I ended up quite enjoying. La Roche-Posay tends to mesh well with my skin, and this was a good size to test for a couple of weeks. I liked how it felt. Purchase? I don’t think it did enough to justify the cost for me, personally.

The Body Shop All in One Face Base 04 – I’ve also written about this! This is my on-the-go powder. I wear it every day for work. I’m very boring. Repurchase? Have done.

20629023_10155733897560039_483120308_o

Sephora Collection 10HR Wear Perfection Foundation – This was fine? It was fine. I was not amazed by it, but it did an alright job. It would do if I was desperate for foundation, in a more appropriate shade. It wasn’t anything spectacular? Purchase? No, but I’ll use my abundance of samples.

Simple Kind to Skin Cleansing Wipes – I’ve spoken about these fifteen thousand times. I love them for infrequent first step makeup removal without making my skin weirdly sore. I’ve never tried anything else that I liked, and I’ve tried a lot of things. Repurchase? Yes

Erno Laszlo Cleansing Bar (Sensitive Soothe & Calm) – Why did I even try this? It’s a bar soap for your face, and no matter how suitable for sensitive skin it claimed to be, it did the same thing 95% of cleansers do for me: it dried me out. It was also a pain to store hygienically. Purchase? No

The Body Shop Green Tea Cleansing Hair Scrub x2 – I absolutely loved this weird hair scrub – akin to, say, Lush’s Big shampoo – for easing up some of the big chunks of dry scalp I have and for getting out product build up, but there is a major caveat. This stuff is deep cleansing. When I say “deep”, I’m talking “strip colour from your hair” deep. It would be fine for people with normal hair, I’m sure, but I have bright green hair and all of a sudden the previous blue was everywhere. Purchase? Not in the forseeable future – I value my bright, weird hair colour too much.

Drunk Elephant TLC Framboos Glycolic Night Serum – I wanted to try a couple of samples of this much hyped product before I bought a mini, because I am historically sensitive to AHAs. It didn’t cause a reaction, so I’ve got a mini to give a fair try to. I’m not wowed. Purchase? I bought a small size to test the hype – I’m looking for something that isn’t the Sunday Riley Good Genes – but at this stage, it’s not wowing me.

Son & Park Beauty Water – I’ll cop to not really getting this product. It’s a toner and cleansing water with exfoliating ingredients? Willow bark extract and papaya, to be specific. I used it post-cleansing, and it was fine, but I prefer my regular toning/BHA liquid routine. Purchase? No

Benefit Boi-ing Concealer in 02 – The new boi-ing concealer is nice, but the colour range is pretty dismal. I liked the consistency a lot. It’s creamy but gives decent coverage, would be lovely for undereyes if the shade was right. I would probably be an 01 for under the eyes and an 02 for blemishes, and this seems like it could work on either: sadly I didn’t love it enough to pay more than $30 for one or the other. I’d rather shell out the dollars and re-buy the Tarte Shape Tape that I have somehow misplaced. Purchase? Most likely not.

And we’re done! I’ll keep using up boring products you’ve heard me go one about before. I’m working on a review on my experiences with some products by The Ordinary, and I have a few new-ish products I’m keen to write about. Prepare for all the platitudes.

Battle of the Weird Holographic Highlight Palettes: Kat Von D Alchemist vs. Zoeva Spring Strobe Spectrum

[Curious about my absenteeism? Want to read about my thoughts on…everything that isn’t makeup? I’ve been prepping my pop culture blog, Sara Watches Stuff. Check it out for more lengthy rambling!]

Back in May, I wrote about the BH Cosmetics Backlight palette. At the time, highlight-mania was reaching an all-time peak, and I was dipping my toe into experimentation with fun colours. All of the points I made in that review still stand: it’s a decent palette but the differences of weird colours are always going to be minimal once they’re on your skin; the palette is good value but the colours wear away fairly quickly and vary vastly in quality. I mentioned the Kat Von D Alchemist palette as my high end lust object. Two months later: here’s two oddly coloured highlighter palettes, that one included. Let’s talk about them.

20642046_10155733897525039_780824270_o
Kat Von D Alchemist Palette; Zoeva Spring Strobe Spectrum Palette

The Kat Von D palette retails for $50AUD on the Australian Sephora website, which is a considerable sum. I received it at a Sephora opening, so thankfully I spared myself that pricetag. I bought the Zoeva palette for definitely less at the time (I seem to recall it being $39? Perhaps I used a voucher), but it’s now on Australian Sephora for $45.  If you’re after the prestige of a certain brand, the difference in price is minimal – either is still a lot of money for four very similarly coloured highlight powders. How similar?

20623599_10155733897505039_337585510_o

Pretty similar. If you’re pedantic about makeup – I know I am – you’ll appreciate that the similarities of the colours in the pans translate to the colours really only differing in their shifts. The Kat Von D palette has shade names and the Zoeva one has confusing codes, and while I’m sure they contain similar amounts of product, the pans in the Zoeva palette do look considerably larger. I will note that one shade in each palette has no directly similar shade, so the two palettes aren’t close enough to be called dupes, but they do have extremely close finishes on the skin. The things we need to look into are accessibility, quality and colour. Swatches, first and foremost. Confusingly, they are in reverse order to the above palette. I am nothing if not baffling at every turn.

20629062_10155733897480039_412511694_o
From top to bottom: Zoeva SP040, SP030, SP020, SP010 – Kat Von D Amethyst, Opal, Saphyre, Emerald

How nice would it be if I had a good camera and less hairy arms? The arm part is a joke. I shave my arms for no one.

With the KVD palette swatched on the lower portion of my forearm and the Zoeva palette on the upper, you can see the basic correspondence between certain shades. Emerald and SP010 are close, but I would say that SP010 has slightly more yellow/gold to it once applied. Likewise, Opal and SP030 are very alike in their soft duochromatic pink. The blue in the Zoeva palette, SP020, sits somewhere between Kat Von D’s blue and purple shades (Saphyre and Amethyst) – Saphyre, as a blue, is notably icier and leans more towards white, while SP020 brings some purple tones through. Amethyst is aggressively purple, but the base is not dark enough to warrant it not being more of a blush. SP040 has no direct dupe in the other palette, but it’s a pretty boring colour – it’s a white base with a yellow gold reflect. Nothing to get excited about there.

In formula, the two palettes are remarkably similar. Kat Von D’s powders are predictably smooth to swatch while Zoeva’s are always firmer, but they pick up the same with a fluffy brush. I use a Real Techniques Setting Brush for highlighting with these, because I get more of the interesting shift than I do with a fan brush, and I can build them up more easily. Kat Von D’s palette is explicitly marketed as multi-use, and it is beautiful layered over lipsticks or eyeshadows, but despite the lack of marketing there on Zoeva’s behalf, their powders work for that as well. Don’t take that as advice – I have no idea as to the, say, lip safety of the product – but I am saying that if you live somewhere that one brand is more accessible than another, I don’t see there being a real reason to pay extra or stress out over getting the other.  They both apply smoothly and have the same degree of translucency to pigment, and the only real difference in quality I can see is that the Zoeva palette requires a slightly firmer touch to build and wears for a slightly shorter amount of two.

That’s my main takeaway. Two palettes, both alike in concept, in fair Sephora where we lay our scene. If you’re a highlighting fiend, I would recommend either of the two over the BH Cosmetics palette, but that is definitely a more affordable and accessible option. Speaking of accessibility, I know Zoeva and Kat Von D are both brands with huge difficulties in access in different countries – Australia just happens to be one of the few where, excluding the markup, we can pretty easily get the two.

A lot of people opt not to buy Kat Von D, and I understand that – her past associations with Actual Neo Nazi Jesse James don’t sit well with me either, but for all of my struggles with the impossibility of ethical consumption under capitalism, I am at this stage not willing to judge women on gross men they once dated (I’ll cut her the same slack I cut Sandra Bullock). There is the problem with her being the face of and directly associated with her brand, so it’s the kind of situation I’m always monitoring because if anything comes out later, I could very easily become uncomfortable. It’s harder to disassociate a brand face being, say, anti-semitic than a distant CEO a la Revlon. Zoeva, on the other hand, is not a brand that would be appropriate for vegans and also just like…Europeans. The US-centrism of the online beauty world is consistently irritating to me.

So look: both palettes are really good, but you don’t need either of them. If I had to pick one? I’d probably pick the Kat Von D palette, because I prefer the purple shade to that yellow gold, and I like the softness of the formula. They’re lovely dusted over a complementary lipstick, or patted over darker shades of eyeshadow. Nice on the cupid’s bow or the cheekbones, under the brow or on the inner corner of your eye. It’s a fun change from your everyday boring highlighters in golds and rose golds and other kinds of gold. I wouldn’t buy them blindly, and if it was’t something I’d use a lot I would be perfectly content with the BH Cosmetics palette. Sadly, here I am with three highlight palettes, and I’m pretty happy. Live your life.

June Empties and Reviews

June got weird. I dyed my hair green and agreed to accompany my grandmother to Japan? I finished the first semester of what should have been the last year of my degree? Mostly, I just worked a lot and felt pretty sick. A lot of my levels have been low, so I’ve been awful and lethargic. I’m making excuses. Here’s my garbage.

I’ve been very boring, so there’s mostly staple products.

19650379_10155611233295039_321070305_o

The above are all The Body Shop products, and are all permanent bar one. I get staff discount but with most of them, I’ve used them for long enough to have established whether or not I would continue to use them if I was paying full price.

The Body Shop Almond Milk & Honey Shower Cream – I’ve got so many shower gels stored up. This one is really nice, but I don’t forgive it for pushing Olive out of the main lineup. It’s not too thick, even though it’s a cream formula. My mother really loved this one. Repurchase? Not any time soon. I’ve still got so many to work through. I also still don’t really get why this is two dollars more than the rest of the shower gels.

The Body Shop Spiced Apple Shower Gel – This is a really nice smell now that it’s finally cold in Australia, so I’m glad I grabbed one. It’s really cinnamonny, so I didn’t like to use it every night. There’s not much to say about shower gel. Repurchase? I almost always pick up a couple of the Christmas shower gels, so we’ll see what comes up this year.

The Body Shop Calming Aloe Cleanser – Blah blah blah this is my cleanser, it will continue to be my cleanser, I use one at least every four months. It’s easy and relatively affordable even without discount and it is quite literally one of the only cleansers I’ve ever used that doesn’t dry me out or sting my eyes. Repurchase? Yes.

The Body Shop Tea Tree Squeaky Clean Scrub – I use this scrub a lot more in summer,when my skin is oilier, but recently it’s felt like a little too much even then. It’s great for something that’s effective and physical without being overly abrasive, but the gel base and tea tree combo just dries me out a little more than I’d like most of the time. Repurchase? Maybe, when I need a cheap, classic scrub that I know won’t actively hurt my skin. Until then, for physical exfoliation, I need something gentler.

The Body Shop Oils of Life Facial Oil – I do genuinely quite enjoy this oil. It’s taken me more than a year of on and off use (I’ll use it continuously for a few months, then get lazy) to finish it, but it is truly lovely in consistency and it hydrates beautifully without feeling greasy. I wish it weren’t quite so heavily scented but I always wish that. My skin always looks lovely when I’m using it, and I’m using plain jojoba oil right now and finding my skin a little flat.  Purchase? I received this one, but I have since bought another that I’ll be going back to soon. That said, I don’t think I require a fancy oil enough that I’d pay full price for it right now. Maybe as hydration becomes more and more of a concern, and I get older? It does last a long time, but it’s just not my priority right now.

The Body Shop Drops of Youth Cream – Could not give less of a fuck about anti ageing or plant stem cell technology but I have not found another cream that makes me skin feel as nice as this one does. Repurchase? I’m on either my third or forth tub. It’s expensive, and I don’t know that I’d keep spending $43 on a moisturiser if I didn’t work there, but I so do not want to go through the ordeal of finding the perfect moisturiser again.

The Body Shop Instamatte – This is the new mattifying primer they’ve brought out! It comes in a damn tiny tube, and it doesn’t do enough that I would be able to justify buying it. Purchase? No

The Body Shop Velvet Gel Pencil in Brown – I love the ease of twist up and the golden tinged brown colour of this, but it dried out a little too quickly for me. I’ll probably go back to the ordinary brown pencil. Repurchase? No

Return to normal programming.

19686548_10155611233225039_877088421_o

Simple Kind to Skin Cleansing Wipes – If you haven’t read my thoughts on this, you’ve never read an empties post before. They’re gentle and don’t sting my awful eyes and they don’t hurt me and look, it’s apparently hard to do. Repurchase? Constantly

Neutrogena Make-Up Remover Wipes – Sample pack from…something? I’ve tried these before, and I’ve always found them a little too bizarrely wet for my personal tastes. Purchase? No

Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Lotion – I’m a consistent user of the BHA liquid, and I thought I’d try a sample of this when I reordered that. Turns out, this stuff is not for me. I broke out almost immediately. Not worth the lack of slight stickiness. Purchase? No

Swisspers Cotton Rounds – These are fine, but please give me the Target ones any day. Repurchase? Presumably, out of laziness.

Marc Jacobs ReMarc-able Foundation – Marc Jacobs himself is a bit of a problematic character in the makeup world with regards to shade range and appropriation, and none of his products have ever moved me to try them. I got given this sample, and tried it out of eventual reluctance. It sucked. It brought out dry patches I didn’t know existed. It clung to everything. It looked cracked and bizarre and settled strangely, and I felt a little vindicated. Purchase? Absolutely not.

Kleenex Anti Bacterial Wipes – Boring, but useful. They get things clean. I need more. Repurchase? Yes

Makeup Forever Excessive Lash Mascara – This is a beautiful mascara from my USA haul, but it’s very wet and has a very short brush so it takes a little more work than I prefer with my mascara. It builds beautifully to create wonderful volume, but it’s much more of a special occasion affair. I ended up using it mostly for my bottom lashes. Repurchase? No. I’m enjoying others in my collection more.

Kat Von D Tattoo Liner in Trooper – I had one of these in my April empties, and have used them so many times, but this one finished faster than normal because it was an older travel one I found in a handbag that I managed to get another two months use out of. This liner is the best. It’s opaque and super black and so precise and it’s the only thing I can really use to easily get a good wing. I’ve seen a matter version teased and man, I want it. Repurchase? Already have.

Benefit Gimme Brow in 3 – They revamped Gimme Brow! I’d never tried it before but this sample size last for months upon months. I’m a stress-picker, so when I have bald patches growing out, this is a handy product (the fibres are great). It’s also a good lazy brow product that takes far less work than, say, a brow pencil. The requisite “however” is that I have really thick brows anyway, so if I generally need detail work done, I need something a bit more precise than this. The last thing my brows need is additional thickness. Purchase? No

That’s the empty stuff for the month! So many things I could say. Instead, here’s a photo of my newly green hair.

19686626_10155611497030039_1955208535_o

For some reason, people keep wanting to talk to me about comic books.

Marie Claire The Parcel Winter Edit – Unboxing and Review, for the last time

Say goodbye to the last subscription box standing. I’m making a lot of progress with regards to cutting down amassing products, even with my continued devotion to all the pretty new things, so it came at a fitting time. I was considering dropping my last subscription – it’s been up and down in terms of quality, but always felt more substantial than other boxes – so when they announced this would be the last box, I was okay with it. The less work I need to do, the better. Subscription boxes seem to have passed their use-by date in the hype sphere. People are becoming more and more aware of the pros and cons now that the “new and shiny” factor has worn off. It’s all fine by me. What I’m saying is: let’s examine the very last Marie Claire The Parcel, at least for now.

19401616_10155575234780039_1162678384_o.jpg

If you’ve read any of my subscription box posts, you’ll immediately spot a pet peeve of mine (hint: it starts with A and smells like everyone’s grandmother) and you might notice a couple of repeats. For posterity, the one by one.

Revlon Uniq One Hair Treatment (150mL full size; RRP $29.95) – I have received this before! In a box with some more goddamn Avon and a fitness guide that made me really angry. I just reread that review and man, I was seething. This stuff smells like a salon and gives me awful flashbacks to my days sweeping hairdresser floors and washing hair for cash in hand. Naturally, I gave it to my sister. She’ll get this as well, but I’m pretty sure she had no strong feelings for it.

Klorane Mango Butter Shampoo (200mL full size; RRP $13.95) – When I was getting Bellaboxes, I’m pretty sure I got thirty tiny little bottles of this. I hadn’t tried this one, though it does smell lovely. In a weird turn of events, Marie Claire sent a full size conditioner from the brand back in December. A strange break there. I wasn’t a fan of that one – it smells odd, and it isn’t quite enough for my ultra tangled hair – but shampoos need less specificity and this one smells good, so I’ll probably use it at the very least.

The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Facial Mask (Sample sachet – full size is 75mL and RRP is $35) – This mask is the bane of my existence. Don’t get me wrong – it’s, by almost all accounts, a fantastic mask – but I can’t use it and people get wild over it, so much so that it will sell out for weeks and make my regular retail job way more of a pain than it should be. Good stuff if you’re very oily or very blemish-prone, but I absolutely would not recommend to those with sensitive skin. It’s got tea tree and menthol and charcoal and heavy manual exfoliation and it’s just…too much for my skin. I suppose most people go to masks for deep cleansing and charcoal is the ingredient of the minute, so a lot of people will be happy with this sample. So happy that they might not remember that we also received it in September.

QV Hand Cream (50g full size; RRP $6) – Thanks to subscription boxes and having worked in skincare since the tender age of 14, I have amassed more hand creams than I could ever possibly use. I do appreciate that this one contains SPF15+, though. My grandmother keeps booking us cruises together because she’s worked out that I’m an easy boring travel partner, and I feel like all additional SPF is welcome in that circumstance.

Nivea Cellular Anti Age Volume Filling Pearls (Sample sachet – full size is 30mL for $32.95) – I can’t find the box it was in, but I’ve definitely received a sample of the Q10 version of this in a box before. It was decidedly “eh”. I also remember this packaging being the worst.

The Jojoba Company 100% Natural Australia Jojoba (The full size is 30mL for $19.95; this is 15mL so just under $10) – This is nice. It’s an oil. It’s literally 100% jojoba oil, so $19.95 for 30mL seems pretty steep. Even at regular retailers, like a chemist, you can find cheaper reputable jojoba oils. Jojoba itself is a nice oil, because it isn’t overly thick and doesn’t clog the skin up like coconut oil would. I appreciate the total lack of scent and I will definitely use it, but if I’m paying more, I want to pay more for a more luxurious experience and this doesn’t seem to provide it. I do love oils for moisture, though. It’s definitely been a great asset in balancing my skin, now that it’s pretty firmly in the normal side of combination.

Avon True Color Perfectly Matte Lipsticks (RRP $19.99) – Even putting aside my feelings on Avon in subscription boxes (stop putting them in there), I got the colour “Electric Pink”, which is a typical candy yum yum bright pink clone. It is neither unique nor interesting to me. I feel like Avon has a place, but the place is not overcharging for mediocre product to capitalise on emotional manipulation or physical displacement, you know? I’ve definitely just had bad experiences.

Avon Magic Effects Matte Top Coat (Full Size 10mL; RRP $14.99) – Also, I don’t really wear nail polish. My friends do, though. One of them will probably love this.

La Roche-Posay Redermic C10 (Full size is 30mL for $69.95 – this is 5mL so a bit more than $11.50?) – Always keen to try a new Vitamin C serum! I’m just a skincare nerd and thankfully I’ve had generally good luck with La Roche-Posay as a brand on my skin. I’m always hit and miss with Vitamin C, so we’ll see.

Philosophy Purity Made Simple Cleanser (Full size is 480mL for $50, this is 30mL so just over $3) – I used to love this cleanser because it didn’t dry my skin out immediately, even though it stung my eyes and left me a little squeaky clean. I hadn’t yet learnt that I could afford to be a bit fussy with face wash. It isn’t my favourite cleanser, but it’s not the kind of awful that a lot of face washes are for me, so I’ll keep this for travel.

If that was the last Parcel, then that was it. It wasn’t an awful box, but I’ve been finding it hard to get excited about 90% of things I don’t actively seek out anyway. My favourite thing in the box is the La Roche-Posay serum, by far, because it’s something I wouldn’t have noticed in Priceline but have a genuine interest in. I know I’ll use and enjoy the little bottle of Purity, if only for nostalgia, and the jojoba oil, but I have a lot of oils to work through. I can’t get excited about products I’ll work through out of utility – hand cream, shampoo. Someone else will love the charcoal mask, at least.

Subscription boxes are fun, but they’re a luxury that I no longer need or get the joy I should out of. I’m totally okay with this one ending, but it’s been a good run. I actually have a lot of really complex thoughts about my current consumerism journey and why I haven’t been posting very much (and some much more academic thoughts about “Why It’s A Shame That Lolita Is Seen As A Controversial Name for A Lipstick Because It’s Connoted With a Text that Glamourises Pedophilia When Nabakov Writes Humbert As A Terrible Person And An Unreliable Narrator: Lolita as a text about discomfort but not sympathising with pedophiles and a lipstick name in honour of the text shouldn’t trigger such extensive debate and honestly please centre your Kat Von D arguments around other, far more substantial issues”, but that’s a whole different thesis), and I’d love to go into them, but I’m not sure I’d be able to articulate myself. Until then, probably more empties. Maybe some reviews if I can kick myself into gear. I’d also love to compare the Kat Von D Alchemist palette with the Zoeva Spring Spectrum Strobe palette, because I now own both of them for an assortment of reasons and even I’m curious as to how they go side by side.