Big things, little packages: A quick review of the Huda Beauty Obsessions palettes

If I were to try to describe most of the beloved palettes in my collection, it would be hard to find a unifying trait. The closest you would get would be to tackle size, because apparently I tend to like my palettes big. From sensibly generous Anastasia palettes to downright unwieldy Kat Von D holiday palettes, I just tend to yearn for more than a more restrained quad or travel palette can give me. I want to be able to let my laziness fly free, pull colours from the same place, and to be inspired by a colour scheme that I am given. I want something that oftentimes a little baby palette can’t offer me.

Nothing had ever really given me reason to dip my toes into the well of Huda Beauty. I had no sentimental connection to Huda Kattan herself, having never really come across her content on any social media platform, and had never been one for false eyelashes. I’d managed to refrain from having my interest piqued by her liquid lipsticks, and the highlighter kits all seemed fairly run of the mill. I’ll admit to being intrigued by the new foundation, although hand swatch showed up the kind of scent that makes me shiver at the memory. When I heard that palettes were launching, I was thoroughly unmoved – that is, until the photos came.

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If you’ve ever read this blog before, you’ll know which of these colour schemes sung out to me instantaneously. It sung so loudly that we’re talking track-down-a-palette-on-launch-day. My thirst for true to pan yellow and hot pink eyeshadows is deeper than any known trench, and it was love at first sight with the Electric Obsessions palette.

I picked up the Electric Obsessions palette within the first week of its launch at Sephora Australia, right as my hair was transitioning to purple, unshaken by its $48 price tag. I did apply a 10% coupon with some of my many, many stockpiled points, but I mostly ignored the little voice in my head that was saying “$48? For a palette the size of your palm?” (That may not sound small, but it helps to know that my hands are famously small, and that I would say they are the size of the hands of an average ten year old) I was treating myself to get through retail Christmas, and if it was a good palette, it would be worth it.

It would have sucked if this had been a bad palette. Instead, there are nine vivid brights squeezed into the size of a typical quad with no wasted space, and each pan holds a decent amount of product. Some shades are shimmers, others are matte, and all of them pair logically with at least one other partner shade in the palette. It is not a conventional standalone palette, but just this and a matte mid-tone brown single is a cohesive look; if I’m feeling up to it, I don’t even bother with other shades to mute the palette. All of the colours apply smoothly and with great reflection of what they look like in the pan, even that striking yellow. There’s even a good sized mirror and a magnetic closure.

As you can see, I now own two of these little palettes. I picked up the Smokey Obsessions palette several weeks later. I was torn between it and the Warm palette, which felt very versatile within itself, but I felt like travelling with just Electric and Smokey would allow me to do most of the eyeshadow combinations I ever dream of. Basically, I’ve come to view these palettes as the perfect travel palettes. They aren’t as soft as something like an Anastasia palette, so I don’t have to worry as much about their transport, but they allow for a great amount of versatility within a very small amount of space. Between these two palettes, I have the very me brights and the purples to complement my hair along with the neutrals for everyday and metallics to transition to evening. If I don’t have to travel with the bulk of my Kat Von D Shade and Light palette, I sure as hell won’t. The quality is consistent, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see another eventually end up in my collection (perhaps as something else transitions out).

I’m not about to go out and pick up the full sized Huda Beauty palettes, which don’t appeal to me at all, but I do think these are a smashing success. I wish that the beauty industry would start to adopt this trend away from conspicuousness and absurdity and garishness – I feel like these next few seasons will see a muting in the holographics and the unicorns and the things designed to be flashed. I can handle the signalling implied with a practical 3×3 palette in matte black; I know what it’s saying about me and my attitudes and my place. I’m not as comfortable with what is being signalled by brands with over the top packaging whose emphasis is on the fetishisaton of cuteness and whimsy and childishness or sexiness. I want to know where I stand.

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After the Backlash: Yet another Anastasia Beverly Hills Subculture palette review

I attached a photo to the top of this review, but let’s be honest: by now, you know what the ABH Subculture palette looks like. I’ve never owned a palette like it. The colours are autumnal and eclectic and moody, and as soon as swatches were released I felt an uncontrollable pull to it. A pastel neon (?) peach and a mustard yellow with an army green? I know a lot of people have spoken of it as lacking in cohesiveness, but it’s one of the palettes I look at and feel inspired.

If you’re reading a review of the Subculture palette at this point after release, you’ve presumably encountered the cycle of hype and backlash. In 2016, everyone had fallen deeply in love with Anastasia’s Modern Renaissance palette, including my belated love affair earlier this year. It was near perfect as a warm toned palette, unafraid of red and pink shades, and excelled at both mattes and shimmers. A good palette to that captured the zeitgeist. They had a good line of solid hits. Brow products relied on by experts and amateurs, interesting highlights, successful limited edition eyeshadow palettes…people were primed to love their products. Then came Subculture, teased for months, leaked pre-release…and the backlash was deafening. And the backlash to that backlash was even worse. And where did we land on this palette? Well, I think it’s been decided that personal opinions are not unanimous. Let’s talk about mine.

No matter how much you love a brand or their products, they are not a person. We do not need to defend their actions; we do not need to rationalise for them. When a product is critically panned but you still enjoy it, it doesn’t mean their experience is less valid. So I ended up really loving this palette, and I have no issues with the shadows being overly powdery or kicking back an excessive amount of powder. I can still acknowledge the ways in which this palette is imperfect! Certain shades don’t show up true to pan (most notoriously Edge, which does not satisfy my yearning for a mustard colour) and others need specific kinds of brush (Cube needs to be applied with a finger, lest you lose the pink iridescence completely). My pan of Roxy has a little bit of kickback, and I can understand how certain batches might be prone to kicking up even more.

Subculture is absolutely not the easiest palette in the world to use. Modern Renaissance had its drawbacks with over-pigmentation and fallout, but the colours blended well and applied with ease. Subculture sits in a different realm. And yet, of all of my many, many palettes, it is one of the few that I pick up and look at and feel interested in. I can start with a colour and move to something else and never feel uninspired, because the mix balances quirk and utility. It is not a “for everyone” palette, but it is a great one for me.

In fact, even for the subtle everyday looks, I’ve found the colours in Subculture to work nicely with my new purple hair. I like working odd shades in subtle ways, and it’s satisfying to me that this is a palette suitable for that or for high level drama.

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Here’s a close up of that specific look, an example of something I’ll throw together in a few minutes with Subculture. I think that’s important to contrast with the instagram theatrics this palette lends itself towards.

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Want to try mustard with khaki and lavender? Go for it. Peach and berry and lime? Sounds like a smoothie, but delightful on the eyes.

Because of my surprisingly positive experience, it won’t surprise anyone how tempted I’ve found myself by the more recent Prism palette. There’s been a lot of controversy over the similarities between the two palettes and their shade ranges. Here’s just one of the many, many posts comparing the two, with the general consensus being that only one is really necessary to achieve the same kind of looks. Certain shades in Prism appeal to me more – the dark metallic green, the metallic lavender, that neon yellow green – but the overall aesthetic feels more alienating to me personally than the recognizably grunge vibe of Subculture. I do wish that the definitive shades performed better (specifically Edge and Cube), and I might cave and buy Prism at some point with a voucher, but I’m one of the few people without buyer’s remorse.

All that said, I’m always trying to be conscious of my blatant consumerism and need to acquire more more more. For me, being “better” would still be a troubling quantity of makeup for most people. This is me calling myself out – this time, my purchase of a known trouble inducing palette worked out for the better, but my purchase didn’t hinge on that factor and returns are not an option here. Think your things through.

Fenty Beauty Mattemoiselle Lipstick – Review and Swatches

Shake it off, Sara. You’ve done this for years. It’s just a blog, it doesn’t bite.

It’s been a while! My last post was a bunch of rubbish from October, and on Sunday we’ll be leaving the hellscape of 2017. I have no excuse. Actually, I have lots! No one’s here to read them, though. You’re here because I was powerless to resist the allure of Fenty Beauty’s colourful lineup of matte lipsticks with their silly names and Alissa Ashley’s honestly award worthy video on them.

It’s what kicked me back into blogging gear. No one wanted to hear another person’s thoughts on their Anastasia Subculture palette (sitting in my drafts in bullet point form). A whole new lineup of lipstick, though? From someone who delights in the strangest of shades? Released internationally on the same day with a very limited PR run? That’s an arena I can stick my head into.

 

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I’ve been working absurd hours, but I used the few hours of sleep I’d accumulated to limit myself to three shades. I was reasonably confident in the products – since my initial Fenty review, I’ve had great success with a split pan highlighter and multiple glosses (their universal gloss and a glittery christmas variation), and have become pretty confident in the brand. Nothing lures me in faster than a brightly coloured line of lipsticks, so this was the perfect launch for me. Almost all of the colours called to me – I had to put back a deep blue that didn’t seem quite opaque and a deep brown called PMS. I turned down a lipstick called PMS. After a lengthy decision making process, I ended up with colours from all over the spectrum.

The formula, overall, is stellar – with a caveat to expectations. If you’re expecting the longevity of a Mac retro matte or a liquid lipstick, with a name like Mattemoiselle, that’s not what this is. There’s a heavy emphasis on how these products make the lips look, and so there is no clinging to dry patches or skipping, there is a lot of creaminess. They are very honestly a creamy matte, more reminiscent of some newer Urban Decay comfort matte lipsticks or the creamier shades of Mac mattes rather than a retro matte or a Melt lipstick, for example. There is some inconsistency from shade to shade that I will touch on, and that I picked up with shades I didn’t purchase, but colours that are traditionally prone to skipping and tugging at the very least layer with ease. I was surprised at how plump and hydrated my lips looked in all of the shades, despite being anything but right now. Wear varies across shades, and the creamiest of shades have shorter longevity than the slightly waxier ones. The girls at Revelist were disappointed with the sacrifice of longevity to the traditional formula, but I think that the new age of all matte liquid all the time has skewed our expectations dramatically. This feels, to me, like how a good lipstick should feel. It looks nice and wears well, and you get the things from it that you lose in a liquid matte (comfort, wearing away without looking like the inside of your lip is crusting off).

The packaging is fine, I guess, but feels flimsy as anything with the metallic finish that shows any fingerprint you even think about making. They are also tiny, tiny, tiny things. It’s not that they contain a small amount of product – they’re 1.7g to a 3g Mac lipstick (obviously they are cruelty free, vs. Mac and their record in that respect), and AU$28 to the Mac’s AU$36, which isn’t the exact conversion, but it makes sense. It’s more that the actual lipstick borders on child sized. It’s nice for my little lips, but it would make for  slow application on people with bigger lips. It’s also rounded, which can make it more difficult to get precision on the upper lip.

Ready yourself for my traditional terrible swatches.

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L-R: s1ngle, one of the boyz, midnight wasabi

s1ngle

Almost all of the near-nude lipsticks that I own are liquid formulas, and recently on my days off/bold eye days, I’ve been feeling a little lower maintenance. On people with deeper skin, this looks less peachy, but I found myself drawn to just how smoothly this applied. My new silver/purple hair is also giving me more range with peach tones and I own very few of them. This is possibly the best of the lipsticks in application, despite being the lightest.

One of the Boyz

I have purple hair now, so I wanted to try lilac lipstick again. This one went on, again, very smoothly. It felt almost like a cream lipstick, even as it sat on my lips. These colours are not the most flattering on me, but I don’t really care.

Midnight Wasabi

Now, I own a lot of green lipsticks. As soon as I saw the pictures of this, I knew it was a pretty unique shade. I’d call it a muted forest green? It’s the stiffest of the three to apply, but it also lasts really well. It does also require two layers for even application, because it does tend to disperse from the upper lip.

Bonus photo of Midnight Wasabi after five hours of night time wear – no eating, but plenty of drinking. Ignore the rest of the makeup, which had been holding on for more like 14 hours at this point.

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I’m pretty pleased with that, for a creamy, comfortable lipstick.

Lipglosses I Suddenly Own (or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Gloss)

I have never liked lipgloss.

Even as a child in the height of lipgloss madness in the late 90s, I hated how sticky my strawberry kiwi Bonne Bell lip gloss was and how my hair would get stuck to it and would take a lip smacker over the gloss any day.

As a makeup enthusiast, I have heard the whispers for a while now. I knew that gloss was coming back, but I was pretending I couldn’t hear those whispers. I clutched my matte liquid lipsticks ever closer to my chest. Until a couple of months ago, I didn’t have a single lipgloss in my admittedly vast lip product collection.

Of course, you’ve seen the header photo for this post. I blame Rihanna. Gloss has been coming back for a long time, but something about the lipgloss that launched with Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty line lodged in my brain. At the same time, The Body Shop launched some glosses. Naturally, I started wearing glosses daily – Apple Taffy became my go-to, thanks to my retail job – and then glosses were my wholly my thing.

And so the quest for the perfect gloss began. Let’s follow it, in chronological order.

The Body Shop Shine Lip Liquid in Apple Taffy and Cherry Gum – These are cheap, and they look lovely – Apple Taffy in particular – but they don’t wear long enough to be the perfect gloss (though they’re better than some). Still, they leave colour deposited well and they give a great level of shine, and they’re very comfortable. I don’t worry so much about stickiness, because my hair is almost always up when I’m working.  The applicator is the best thing about these? More glosses with this applicator. Apple Taffy is a very nude neutral, but not ultra opaque, and Cherry Gum is a bright pinky red.

Winky Lux Glossy Boss in Truffle – Truffle is a deep nude colour, and colour wise it is perfect. It is also one of the highest shine glosses I’ve tried, which was what I was looking for initially – that editorial, high shine nude, and this won out of all the ones at Mecca Maxima. The problem with this gloss is that it is wicked sticky. I don’t mind a little sticky, but aside from the Too Faced Melted Latex, I have never put a stickier product to my lips.

NYX Lip Lustre Glossy Lip Tint in Ruby Couture – This isn’t super glossy, but I like the marriage of a little gloss with a lot of colour and a decent tint on the lips. I was satisfied by how nicely this sat on my lips. This will probably be my low effort lip colour this summer, because it’s a basic red with an easy finish.

Smith & Cult The Shining Lip Lacquer in Flesh Riot – I went to swatch and probably buy the Fenty gloss, having finally decided that I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and of course it was sold out at all of the Sydney Sephora stores. The closest thing, it seemed, was this gloss by Smith & Cult, though it has a bit more pigment to it – it’s a nude gloss with a beautiful gold shimmer right through it. This one is beautiful on the lips, and perfect in consistency – not sticky, very shiny – but doesn’t wear very long.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Lip Gloss in Kristen, Orchid and Vamp – I actually acquired one of these before any of the other glosses – Orchid was free at a Sephora opening a while back, but I was so grossed out by glosses that I hadn’t even opened it. These are the platonic ideal of a gloss, but I find myself shying away from them because they smell very strongly of fake vanilla. Like – very strongly. Kristen is a perfect pink-toned nude, Orchid is a bright violet, and Vamp is a very browned deep red.  I appreciate the range of colours and the shine of them, and the wear time is decent.

Fenty Beauty Cosmic Gloss Lip Glitter in Gal on The Moon – I adore this gloss. This is, not shockingly, my favourite gloss. It is so glittery and weird and I adore it. It’s basically a sheer violet base with a bunch of blue glitter in it and my god, you know I love weird glittery stuff. This was an absolute impulse purchase and I messed up. Layered over lipstick, though, or a nude liner – my god. Force of nature.

Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb in Fenty Glow – And finally, I caved and ordered this online, based on the recommendation and swatches of a wonderful friend of mine. My god, it is stunning. It’s thick and ultra glossy and strangely plumping in aesthetics, but not in feeling, without having any dominant colour other than a sheer rosiness.

I regret…nothing? I regret some things. I regret the Winky Lux gloss; I probably didn’t need those colours of the Anastasia glosses. But apparently I’m into gloss now.

I’m still a matte girl. I like my lips as dry and unwelcoming as the rest of my persona. Searching for myself through glosses has been a journey, and I’ve learnt about what I like and what I don’t. I think I’m at current max gloss.

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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:

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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.