October Empties 2017

My plan was to delay the empties for another month, after the last couple of months having a light batch, but for some reason October was an explosive month of using stuff up. I was stressed and feeling overwhelmed by the amount of things in my possession. Rather than face a tidal wave next month, here’s one group out of the way.

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The Body Shop Calming Aloe Cream Cleanser – As I’ve mentioned before, this is the only cleanser I know I can trust. Sometimes I use other stuff, and it’s okay for a while, or it underwhelms me in some way. This cleanser has never broken my heart. Repurchase? Of course. Have done.

The Body Shop Vanilla Pumpkin Shower Gel – I had a weird relationship with this particular shower gel. The formula is the usual Body Shop formula which doesn’t freak my skin out, so that was fine. This scent though…Vanilla Pumpkin was a little too heavy on the pumpkin and too light on the vanilla/spice for me, and it had a weird anise note that my nose could not get past. Every time I showered, I was struck by how pumpkiny and savory it smelled. I didn’t care for it, basically. But then toward the end of the bottle, I was suddenly really into it. I liked smelling kind of like a garden? It was so different to the partnering hand cream, for example. Repurchase? Not this scent, probably. I’m fickle.

Sephora Collection Perfection Mist Airbrush Foundation – I bought this foundation about a year ago, mostly for the novelty. It had next to no coverage and never felt properly meshed with my skin. It was just a weird slippery layer above my face that got greasy very quickly. And then the nozzle broke, so. Repurchase? No

Sephora Collection Purifying Mattifying Mask – I have had this mask for ages and it’s never been my thing. It’s too much. It’s way too exfoliating and all it’s ever done is dry me out. Every time I’m breaking out, I think “I’ll try it again!” and still, no. Repurchase? No. I don’t think they make this one any more, either.

Swisse Manuka Honey Detoxifying Facial Mask – I like the way this mask felt, but it smelled absolutely atrocious. I am apparently really not into that raw honey smell, especially when mixed with the charcoal smell. It was a bit nauseating, honestly. And it has long, long gone off. Repurchase? No.

Physician’s Formula Eye Booster 2-in-1 Lash Boosting Eyeliner + Serum in Ultra Black – I wrote about this liner nearly a year ago? It started off decent in quality, but rather than drying out, become watery and streaky. Why didn’t I throw this out when it went bad? I have no idea. I didn’t even know where it was. Repurchase? No. I can’t use anything but the Kat Von D. I’m spoiled.

The Body Shop Lash Hero Mascara – Decent mascara, flakes a little under my eyes, but a good one for everyday natural-but-better lashes. Repurchase? Maybe?

Sukin Hydrating Facial Mask – I loved this mask, but it was too heavy for me to use very often. Made my skin really lovely and soft, though, and a nice change from the charcoal masks. Purchase? I got this in a subscription box, and it had expired (I finally started clearing stuff out), but I might purchase it one day.

La Roche Posay Anthelios XL SPF 50+ Fluid – I trust this sunscreen to go on my face and stop me from burning. It’s a new summer and it was time for this guy to get replaced, so a new bottle has been acquired. Once I find a sunscreen that doesn’t hit me with a rash, I am loyal as hell. Repurchase? Hell yes.

L’oreal Infalliable Mattifying Primer – Pretty standard silicone primer. Very good with certain foundations, very average with others. Totally and completely fine. Repurchase? No

NYX Angel Veil Primer – I loved this primer initially, but it definitely changed formula with age and got chunky. Nothing like the Hourglass Mineral Veil Primer people compare it to for the inclusion of “veil”, this is thick and smoothing without feeling ultra slippery and like smearing silicone on your face. Repurchase? Only if it comes to Australia or I was in America – I enjoyed it, but not enough to pay more than $26 to get it online.

Tarte Tarteist Clay Paint Liner in Copper – This came in a cute set last Christmas, and while it was gorgeous in colour and smooth in formula, I received one with busted packaging. It was usable – the product came out of the seam rather than from the cap – but it was a pain in the neck to store. I liked it a lot, but I don’t wear this kind of colour liner often enough on my days off. Repurchase? No

Tarte Lipsurgence Lip Tint in Fiery – This was my go to holiday lip when I first got it, and it’s finally reached the point of grossness and no return. It was a good introduction to lipstick, and one of the first I ever got truly into – it’s a tiny little flat stub. It smells obnoxiously like peppermint, but it was really hydrating and gave a good amount of colour while retaining sheerness. Repurchase? I am pretty sure these have been discontinued? But it would be a no, regardless. I have moved on.

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Miniso Soft Cotton Pads 180 Sheets – These are pretty excellent? They’re easier for me to get a hold of than my beloved Target Cotton Rounds, and just as soft. Repurchase? Sure

Tarte Amazonian Clay Foundation – Some samples of a product I have long, long, long used. I still really like this as a medium-high coverage foundation for lazy days, and it’s a good mixing medium for things that are too light in shade or too clingy, but it’s far too thick for me to feel like using it every day. Purchase? I don’t need any more of this.

Tarte Maracuja Oil – Not my favourite oil. Too greasy and it didn’t smell particularly nice. Purchase? No

Klair’s Midnight Blue Calming Cream – This one I actually liked! I used this on some nights when my skin was particularly dry and bumpy, and it felt soothing and lovely. Probably not rush-out-and-buy-it lovely, but I can imagine how nice it would feel on sunburnt skin. Purchase? Probably not

Kat Von D Lock It Tattoo Foundation and Primer – I wasn’t a fan of either of these. The foundation was the wrong colour, but the formula didn’t give me the coverage I wanted for such a thick and paint-like formula. Purchase? No

Tarte Lights Camera Lashes Mascara – Written about here. Lovely for natural, long, defined lashes but  not great for flakiness. A good layering product. Repurchase? Maybe one day, after all of my small mascaras are gone?

Malin + Goetz Vitamin E Face Moisturiser – I liked the smell of this cream, but it tingled a lot on my skin and I wasn’t game to try it beyond the initial patch test. I ended up using it on my chest, where it was fine. Purchase? No

Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Mask – I was wary of this based on product reviews, but it ended up being okay on my forehead and nose. Okay in that it didn’t hurt me, but it also didn’t really do anything. I have too many other masks I like. Purchase? No

Burberry Luminous Fluid Base – “Luminous” bases have never been my thing. I don’t like glowing in places I haven’t been intentional with the placement of said glow on. This was a nice enough product, but like many other illuminating base products, it just wasn’t for me. Purchase? What am I, made of money?

Commodity Fragrance in Mimosa – Fresh, a hint floral, a bit crisp. A good, solid summer smell with very little longevity but a nice throw. I have a huge selection of Commodity fragrances to try, and I don’t like this as much as Rain, but those are probably my favourites thus far. Purchase? No

The Body Shop Ginseng and Rice Toner – My favourite mask now has a matching toner? I don’t splurge on toners, but this is a beautiful one if I were going to. It smells like heaven and doesn’t leave behind any residue. Purchase? Maybe, should I ever run out of toner.

The Body Shop Green Tea Cleansing Hair Scrub – Nice to get junk out of your hair, but also really stubborn hair dye and bumpy clumps of scalp. I’ve been prepping my hair to go pastel, so I’m really working to pull out all of the blue that I can. Purchase? Maybe

Lush Buck’s Fizz Skin Conditioner – I liked this the most of all the Lush skin conditioners I have tried, but I was never a huge fan of Ro’s Argan or African Paradise. It makes my skin soft but thankfully not too slippery afterwards. Purchase? No

Fenty Beauty Foundation in 120 – My first impressions of this foundation are here. In the long run, some days it looked beautiful and other days it caught on to every bit of dryness it could find. The shade was too light and it honestly wasn’t as wonderful as I had hoped. Now the highlighters and glosses, on the other hand…Purchase? No

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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.

Two Months of Junk – August/September Empties 2017

Despite holding out on this for two months, not a whole lot is going on. I guess that’s a relief? Let’s look at a whole bunch of shower gels!

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The Body Shop Early Harvest Raspberry Shower Gel – Good, sweet, smells like jam, doesn’t dry my skin out. I last used one up in June 2016, so this will presumably keep coming round. I’ve become used to this formula and now my skin instantly dries out with any other shower gels. Repurchase? When it comes back, I might pick up one. It’s not an all time favourite, but it’s nice enough.

The Body Shop Pinita Colada Shower Gel – I finally used the last of my sale stash of pinita colada shower gels! I love the Body Shop cocktail smells – this is second to Virgin Mojito in my all time favourites, but it’s up there. Both of them are coming back to Australia this summer, so I’ll probably stock up again, and then my showers can be cocktail scented forever. Confessions of a shower gel hoarder. Repurchase? Absolutely.

The Body Shop Olive Shower Gel – You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone. It took me a solid year of Body Shop shower gels before I got into the olive scent, and then I realised that it was actually the best of the main body shop scents. It’s fresh and clean but also a little soft and slightly woody? I love it. Naturally, it’s been discontinued and this was my last bottle. Damn, two months of shower gel usage went a bit wild. Repurchase? If they bring Olive back as a limited edition, I’ll be all over it.

Lush Plum Rain Shower Gel – As I mentioned, my skin has become strangely conditioned to Body Shop shower gels which thankfully don’t dry it out, but nearly everything else seems to make me itch. Lush is a particular offender, as lovely as this one was to sniff (my mum picked it up from the flagship London store). It was so nice smelling, but it made me so squeaky and itchy. What a bummer. I ended up mostly using it on my hands. Repurchase? No

Beautyblender – My original beauty blender finally kicked it! Admittedly, I wasn’t particularly vigilant about giving it any deep cleaning and just rinsed it here and there. Still, it’s about a year old and I used it mostly for cream contouring, so it was getting pretty gunky. I also can’t place which foundation I used it with that resulted in a weird tough chunk in the sponge material that made it a little fiddly to use. I don’t know that these are any better than any mid-range sponges (I haven’t tried the Real Techniques one, for instance), but I did have a backup from some gift set I had in the past. From black to pink I go. I enjoy using good soft sponges like this with thicker, mousse/clay type foundations or ones that are otherwise prone to catching on dry spots or looking mask-like. It makes them look more smooth and less cakey. I don’t like it for full coverage, or for full application – it’s not an everyday thing for me. Repurchase? I like having a good sponge on hand, but when my current Branded Beauty Blender dies, I’d like to try a different (cheaper) kind. These things are grossly expensive.

The Jojoba Company Jojoba Oil – This came in the last ever Marie Claire parcel, and it just would not run out. It’s fine, because it’s a nice oil, but I have an oil I prefer to use which made getting through this feel like a real slog. I appreciated that this wasn’t too thick or too gross smelling, but in an ideal world I’d have an oil that was a little bit lighter on the skin and a little nicer in scent. My skin was fine on it – no noticeable change. Purchase? Probably not, although I would look into their other products.

Sephora Collection Honey Lip Scrub – Nice enough for moisture, not nearly enough on its own as a lip scrub. I appreciated the moisture and gentle scrubbing it gave when I used it before bed, but would have preferred something slightly – slightly – more abrasive. Repurchase? Maybe. It’s a pretty decent balm, and I prefer a gentle scrub to an overly abrasive sugar scrub.

Mac Prolongwear Concealer in NC20 – This is a good concealer – heavy duty, not too dry, long wearing. Sadly, this colour was always slightly too yellow for me, and there was never anything quite right. Also, the packaging is terrible and everyone will tell you that. Repurchase? No.

Blinc Amplified Mascara – I’m fine with tubing mascaras, but this is not nearly as easy and fun to get off as I remembered. It also doesn’t do really do much of anything. Repurchase? Not on its own. If it’s in a set, like this one was, sure.

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Simple Kind to Skin Cleansing Wipes – Blah blah blah, I love these wipes when I’m feeling very lazy, or as a first step before properly taking off stubborn makeup. They don’t hurt my skin or my eyes and they’re the perfect amount of moist. Repurchase? Eternally – whenever Simple is on sale, I pick up a few packs.

The Body Shop Beauty Sponge – I thought I’d try out the Body Shop’s answer to a beauty blender and can conclusively say that it is…not good. I made it about a month of using it before I flat gave up, and most of that was damp use with powders. It’s far too dense – compared to most blending sponges, it’s rock hard. I’ve used the Chi Chi sponges before, and I’d be recommending those over this. It didn’t drink up product, which was good, but it also didn’t give me the airbrushed, smoothed effect I would want if I was opting for a sponge as my application method. No dice. Repurchase? No

The Body Shop Japanese Matcha Mask – I tried a couple of sachets of this (I tossed the other one) to give the new mask a go, and honestly speaking? It’s fine, but I still prefer the Ginseng and Rice mask any day of the week. That’s possibly my favourite mask in the world? I am looking for something still gentle but a little more deep cleansing for the summer, and sadly this wasn’t it – menthol freaks my skin out, and I’m not into the associated tingly feeling. I liked the exfoliation and I do like cleansing masks that are more gentle and less drying, but this just didn’t do enough to justify the unpleasantness, and it left my notoriously picky skin pretty red and frustrated. Purchase? No

it Cosmetics Confidence in a Cream – Employees have used this on me before to no particular notable impact, so I thought I’d give this sample a go myself. My current moisturiser is gorgeous for summer but occasionally I lust after something heavier – this wasn’t it. I’m very picky with skincare, and this was not a match for me. I was okay with the thickness and lack of fast absorption, because I could see it being nice for winter, but I still had a lot of problems with this cream. Mainly the ingredients list – yowza. Not the “yikes, chemicals!” rubbish, which you’ll never hear from me, but almost the opposite – this cream is so packed with unnecessary essential oils and plant extracts that as soon as I put it on I muttered to myself “lavender” and my chin began to itch. “Perfect for all skin types, even the most sensitive”, but still we’re going to throw in sandalwood and grapefruit and orange and bergamot and lavender. I really, really hate gratuitous essential oils in skincare that would have been perfectly lovely otherwise, when marketed to people with sensitive skin. I can handle lavender in very rare products, but they’re getting fewer and fewer. This cream messed me up. Purchase? No

Sephora Collection Smoothing Primer – I’ve used this primer before, and it’s a perfectly nice silicone based primer. I’m not rushing out to buy it again, but I’ll always use up samples of it. Purchase? Maybe one day, but I have other primers I prefer that are cheaper (albeit less accessible – The Ordinary’s High Adherence Silicone Primer; NYX Angel Veil Primer)

Sephora Collection Whipped Cream Body Moisturiser with Watermelon Extract – I liked the texture of this body cream, but it smelled far too strongly of watermelon lollies for me to ever purchase. Purchase? No

I suspect I’ll power through more junk the next couple of months. I’m doing another cruise in November, and travel tends to eat up product minis.

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.

 

 

Bite Sized Five – Trying Things and Thinking Thoughts

I have five semi coherent thoughts about five new, new-to-me or just recently rotated products I’ve been wanting to talk about. No need to dither about, let’s dive right in.

Buxom Lash Mascara – I acquired this mascara as a part of a Sephora in JCP Favourites set as a part of my ridiculous USA haul. I didn’t open it straight away – I’ve never used anything from Buxom before, and it’s never really appealed to me. This mascara has a boring name and no extraordinary claims, but I kind of adore it? It’s a much larger plastic wand than I normally use (my other current mascara is the Makeup Forever Excessive Lash, which has a a really short brush) but I find it really grips my lashes and gives me the separation I want. I’m lucky in having quite long lashes, so I tend to go for volume and a fluttery look, and I get a really good level of drama with this mascara. Not much length, so I’d caution against it if that is your bag, but it works perfectly for me. I don’t know where I’d rebuy it in Australia, though.

Becca Ever Matte Poreless Priming Perfector – I was really happy when Sephora Australia added this as a point perk, because I’ve heard so much about it. My skin isn’t the oiliest, but this is touted as the be all and end all of oil control primers, so I’ve wanted to try it for nights out and long shifts. It’s a really good sized tube and you don’t need much, so it will last a long time (which is good, because a full size costs $55AUD). Everyone talks about the learning curve, and it’s harsh: you cannot rub it in. It needs to be pressed in. If you apply it wrong, your makeup will ball up or apply streaky; it’s no joke. Once you’ve worked out how to use it, it’s pretty great stuff. It’s not the primer to end all primers for my skin – I know some people swear by this – but it’s better at holding makeup on my face than, say, the Hourglass Mineral Veil, though it lacks the smoothing properties of the Hourglass primer. I enjoy this on intended occasions, but it’s not something I reach for on my days off or in my daily rotation. Perhaps in the summertime it might be more applicable.

Tarte Brighter Days Highlighting Moisturiser – We got this as a point perk before it launched at Australian Sephora, which was a rare event, so I picked it up on reflex with some of those points I’ve  accumulated. It was a ridiculous move on my part – I have pretty textured skin, and usually loathe products with glitter or shimmer particles through them. This fails for me both as a highlighting and as a moisturising product – instead, my face just feels a little gross and looks sparkly, which I hate. Why on earth am I still tempted by the new Australis Serum Primer? You tell me. A bit of a miss for me – Tarte’s whole “athleisure” collection is a bit confusing and gimmicky-seeming to me, really.

Sephora Collection Honey Lip Scrub – Look, it’s something I love! I’ve tried so many lip scrubs. I’m down to just the Lush couple in my collection, and I am far too lazy/not quite thrifty enough to ever make my own. I have always hated digging my fingers into a little pot, even the nice ones, so I appreciate the stick form of this. The Body Shop also has a stick scrub, but it’s double the price (the Sephora one is $9 in Australia). That said, this is an incredibly gentle scrub, and very soft. I’ll finish it pretty quickly, I can already tell. Half of the time I apply it and it’s hard to tell whether I’ve applied a scrub or just an ordinary balm. I’ve been using it before I go to bed, and then using a Lush one for a bit more intensity before I apply lipstick in the morning, and the combo is working pretty well for me.

Australis Jelly Bean Silicone Blending Sponge – I was never going to pay to order a silicone pad from the internet for my makeup when I so rarely use a beautyblender to apply my makeup as is. At the height of silisponge internet obsession, I was rolling my eyes every five minutes. I do hate getting foundation all over my fingers and then on my black work clothes in the morning, so that aspect of slapping makeup on with this and then blending out with something else really appealed. I’m glad Australis were the first cheap Aussie knockoff of the concept and I do actually really enjoy it for that and how easy it is to clean, but I also wonder why it has been so quickly pulled from their website and from the Priceline website. That makes me a bit nervous. I think you can still find it in some stores, and I know Sportsgirl also sell a two pack of them but I also can’t find that online. Weird stuff. Look – it’s not a revolutionary tool like all of the videos were attempting to prove or disprove when they first launched. The only reason it might be necessary is if you don’t like getting foundation on your fingers, and you’re happy to blend out with a sponge or a brush. And for that? It’s a good tool.

 

BH Cosmetics Backlight Highlight Palette Review

I saw this palette launch and managed to hold off on pulling the trigger for a while. I don’t own, but have lusted over, the Kat Von D Alchemist palette and the Anastasia Beverly Hills Moonchild Glow Kit (or its more recent iteration, the Aurora Glow Kit). Anastasia is notoriously rough to get a hold of in Australia if it’s not stuff that’s stocked in Sephora, and the trickle through is slow and inconsistent. Kat Von D…stock is limited to Sephora, and it either launches fast and sells through nearly instantly (this seems to have been the case with the Alchemist palette) or comes very late and with far too much stock (a la Serpentina and the Metal Matte palette). The biggest issue, and the thing that underpins most “anti-hauls” concerning highlighters – please treat yourself to Kimberly Clark, idea originator, tackling the highlighter influx – is that the differences between highlighters are so small on your face that it isn’t really necessary to have 22 different kinds. I have highlighters that I love! I’ve written about Mac’s Soft Frost, for example, over here, and it’s one of my absolute favourites. I’ll talk more about my favourite formulas for reference later. I can say that there are objectively good and bad formulas out there, but instead of spending upwards of $50AUD to splurge on some interestingly coloured highlighters, I waited til one of the roughly weekly BH Cosmetics sales and snapped this palette up to fill the spot in my heart.

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Let’s kick this off with a terrible photo! There are six shades in the Blacklight Highlight palette. Their names range from fine to utterly cringeworthy, and they have quite strong bases. I don’t have individual swatches – the website ones are pretty accurate – nor face swatches, because my camera quality is honestly not going to add anything anyone’s not already done better. Instead, here’s my little discussion of the colours because all I have to give to the world are words.

My favourite colours in the palette are definitely the less conventional ones. I’m actually wearing Laser today – it’s a green shift on an almost white base. There’s glitter in all of these shades but in all of the three here, it’s small and doesn’t over-emphasise skin texture. Having quite strong bases, none of these are going to be subtle or particularly forgiving – you go into a formula like this knowing that. I feel similarly about Kween, which to spite its terrible name is an icy blue highlight and really flattering. And then possibly my favourite shade, Illusion, which looks pink and has a pink base but has a beautiful blue-lilac shift and shimmer. It’s one of the smoothest shades, very wearable, but still something that catches eyes.

I’m less of a fan of the other shades. On Point is a lovely colour but the base is a little too strong of a purple for me to pull of ordinarily as a highlight. Electra is nice, but I don’t tend to go for yellow or golden tones unless I’m wearing a very specific kind of look. Then there’s Strobe – Strobe is easily my least favourite shade of the bunch. It is by far the most standard shade, a classic white highlight, but it is also the most opaque and the chunkiest as far as glitter goes. It makes for a great formula in terms of eyeshadow, but perhaps a little too stark for a highlight. It’s very hard to not make this shade just look like a stripe on my face, and I think that’s due to the opacity of it.

Miscellaneous points to note: Don’t buy this palette for its full price. BH is perpetually on sale, and if this is not marked down to at least $12.74USD (25% off the “full” $16.99), you should wait a week. The mirror is good and it feels decent quality, which is a perk for the price. Some reviews comment on a weird smell and my palette didn’t have any of that. I wish it wore longer – by the end of the day, it looks like a generic highlighter, rather than something a bit more interesting.

I’ve been reaching for these a lot. It’s fun to play with them and to have them in the one place, and it’s fun to have the full array of weird colours in the one place. I don’t have an overwhelming need now for anything else. To fulfil my desire for the especially weird things, I have my Femme Fatale Gemtone powders – Fire Opal, for example, has an amazing Red Shift, and I love that they are all shift with no base. The formula is not exceptional – it’s just that little bit too quick to fade, that little bit too glittery (I’ve heard that complaint with the ABH ones as well, while the Kat Von D palette seems very smooth), that little too icy for me. If you have a lot of highlighters, you absolutely do not need this. I’d say coloured highlighters are only something worth buying if you are absolutely keen on experimenting, but I’m glad there’s an affordable and easily accessible option around. I do recommend checking out the Femme Fatale options, because you can buy them as singles, but I personally am useless with loose powders. The more expensive ones will undoubtedly be higher quality, but really do evaluate the frequency with which you’ll use them and what else you have in your collection. Someone with less use for strange makeup than me but a collection of my size would absolutely not need this palette, but for my needs I’m glad I picked this up.

 

 

 

April Empties and Reviews

I used stuff up! There haven’t been many posts in between these. Lots of drafts, but no real posts. Things have been a little hectic, and I’ve been quite sick. It’s been gross. Let’s instead talk about disgusting empty bottles.

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Bath and Body Works Gingerbread Latte Shower Gel – This is the first bath and body works shower gel I’ve used that hasn’t had a weird after-smell? Even as it sits on your body, it’s nice. It smells like cinnamon and ginger and winter spices and it’s lovely.  Repurchase? If it was readily available and I didn’t have such hit/miss experiences with B&BW shower gels, sure. Also, I have enough shower gels to last me six hundred years.

Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel – Please stop looking at this empty bottle. It’s disgusting. I promise you this is only the two or so years old that it’s supposed to be, but it was an absolute slog to get through and for some reason it got super gross living in my shower. I could only use it if I was going for a second cleanse on a day I was oil cleansing, but overall it was way more drying than I would generally prefer. I have never loved anything from Mario Badescu and I’m not sure why I owned this in a full size. Repurchase? No

The Body Shop Chinese Ginseng & Rice Mask – I adore this mask. I’ve spoken about it before. I wrote about it back in September and I’ve loved it since then. I’ll try new masks but in between, I go back to this. It doesn’t dry me out, but my skin always feels smoother and clearer and I don’t seem to be getting less efficacy from it. Repurchase? Have done. Am exploring cheaper alternatives, because this stuff is $35 and when I’m not working at The Body Shop that is a bunch of money, but so far nothing I’ve tried has come close (sorry exfoliating L’oreal mask).

Tatcha Polished Classic Rice Enzyme Powder – I’ll be honest. When I mentioned this back in my USA haul, I just wanted to try something from Tatcha to see what the brand was about. I should have tried the cleansing oil instead. I liked this better than, say, the Dermalogica microfoliant, but it was still super average and ridiculously priced for a powder cleanser. It did last a long time, but it was quite stripping on my skin and I could only use it very irregularly (it was my out-of-the-shower cleanser for a while). Repurchase? No.

Urban Decay Deslick Setting Spray – I have found that, after extensive testing, setting spray does not do a whole lot for me. I ended up using this up just to use it up. I mostly used it with foundations that didn’t sit nicely on my skin, or to foil shadows. Repurchase? No. I am trying out the Rimmel one, because at least that’s cheap and smells lovely.

Dr. Brandt Pores No More Pore Refiner Primer – Really burning through some stuff from that USA haul! This primer was fine, but nothing outstanding in the world of primers. Way too slippery for me, but didn’t do a whole lot for lasting power. Eh. Really thick. Not my thing. Purchase? No

The Body Shop 2-in-1 Smoky Gel Liner in Brown – This liner is incredibly longwearing, but it’s also got a really steep learning curve and dries out pretty quickly – I’m too lazy to revive something I don’t use very often. The brush attached is not great (it’s not fine enough), but the dark black-brown colour is lovely. Repurchase? No. I am much more of liquid liner person.

Kat Von D Tattoo Liner in Trooper – Thankfully I always have a backup of my favourite liquid brush tip liner on hand. I’ve spoken about this countless times: opaque, easy to apply, incredibly precise. This would have lasted a lot longer, but the lid came off in my makeup bag and…yikes. Repurchase? I’m currently using the backup, but I need to go buy a new backup. I’ll keep using this. I wish it was cheaper, sure, but it’s infinitely better than any other liner I’ve tried.

The Body Shop Super Volume Mascara in Black – I enjoy this mascara as much as I enjoy most nice mascaras, but it’s nothing exceptional. I have a new preferred Body Shop mascara – the Lash Hero – to wear to work, but I wear these on off days as well. Nice volume, standard length, standard separation, not too clumpy if you get off the excess. Repurchase? Not right now.

It Cosmetics Brow Power Universal Eye Pencil – This was a really nice brow pencil and the “universal” colour actually worked perfectly for me. It was easy to go too hard, because it was quite dark, but done right it was lovely. I liked it, but I didn’t $38 like it. I did like that it was buildable, and not too creamy or pigmented – brows need to build,  I feel. Purchase? No

Fortune Cookie Soap Company Talkin’ Smack Lip Scrub in Cupcake – I love the scents of FCS lip scrubs, and how finely milled they are (way more so than a Lush lip scrub), but now that I’m not getting the Soap Box, I am not motivated to make any orders from the website. The new coconut peppermint one sounds lovely, though. Repurchase? Not anytime soon. I’m super happy with the Sephora honey lip scrub I’m using right now – it’s in a stick, it’s finely milled, and it’s wicked convenient for $9.

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Boring stuff!

Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Eau Fraiche Skinscent – This was in the most recent Marie Claire box, and it was fine. It ran out really quickly and didn’t last very long. Purchase? No

BeautyBlender – I liked the beautyblender, but it’s a $30 sponge. I ended up using it mostly for cream contouring, clearly. Repurchase? I have done, when I was in America and I could get it in a set, but I’m not sure I’d do it again.

The Body Shop Drops of Light Peeling Liquid – This is my favourite of the newly launched peeling liquids, because it’s the most gentle and the least sticky. I’ve mentioned that the marketing behind them is mostly rubbish – there’s very little dead skin they’re pulling – but they’re far more gentle than a standard physical exfoliant which I quite like. Purchase? Maybe eventually when I’m all out of all of my physical exfoliants.

Simple Kind-to-Skin Cleansing Wipes – Please read any other empties post I have ever done, because these will be in there. They’re gentle and they don’t make my skin hurt. Repurchase? Always and forever, unless they change them.

Mac Wipes – On the contrary, these were awful.  They’re so heavily scented, they didn’t get off eye makeup, and they left my skin really red and irritated. This was just not a good move for me. Repurchase? These were a part of a larger gift, but I wouldn’t buy them for myself.

Target Cosmetic Pads – I finished these and couldn’t be bothered to go back to Target to buy more, so I was using the Priceline branded ones. They are not the same and it’s terrible and I’m battling through them. The Target ones are soft but durable and lovely. Repurchase? Yes. If I can get to a Target, I’ll always pick these up. It’s $2 for 100, come on.

Kleenex Anti Bacterial Wipes – These get foundation off everywhere I get foundation – hands, desk, mirrors, packaging. They’re boring, but functional. Repurchase? Sure. Not a necessity, but they’re handy as hell.

That’s it! Does anyone read these? I love posting them – they incentivise me to actually finish things instead of just stockpiling – but they’ve got to be boring to read. And yet with my sick form of voyeurism, I love to read them as well.