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.

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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.

Bite Sized Five: Basics and Bases

Links are just for relevance and ease of access, particularly for things that can be harder to find in Australia. No one is giving me money for this, as much as I openly encourage being given money in any context.

I’ve had all of these products for quite a while. The fact is that I find first impressions reviews to be just as valid and a lot more useful when they’re a little more substantial and come as the culmination of several uses. Especially with skincare, which is one of my favourite things to write about, it’s very difficult to tell how you feel about things after one use. Instead, here’s a bunch of stuff I’ve been using a lot. Some of it is newly released in Australia (like the Zoeva Strobe Gel) or fairly new pickups for me (the It Cosmetics powder), others I just finally feel like talking about. Let’s dive in.

NYX Angel Veil Primer (30mL; $16USD in stores – I got mine from Ulta in Oregon during Black Friday sales or from the NYX website; in Australia, this is next to impossible to get a hold of. It’s $26 plus shipping from ASOS but currently sold out, or if you have $65 yearly unlimited international shipping from the Selfridges website, it’s $18.50) – I picked this primer up on a whim while wandering through Ulta, mostly because I vaguely remembered Kathleen Lights likening it to the Hourglass Mineral Veil primer, which I ran out of while I was abroad. I wouldn’t say that they are “dupes” – I think that makeup “dupe culture” has gone a little wild – because Angel Veil is definitely a tangibly thicker and has a far more prominent pore filling effect. I’d say I actually prefer this one, honestly. If it weren’t that it’s a nightmare to get a hold of in Australia, I’d be far more likely to come back to this one. Hopefully by the time I run out of it, the Australian NYX offerings have expanded to include this over their current lackluster primers. I find my foundations wear better and look nicer and I just really do quite like it.

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% (30mL; Deciem themselves sell it for $12.70AUD from their website and in their standalone stores and it’s the same now it sells in Myer, but you can find it cheaper at other online retailers but then there’s shipping) – There was a period of time where everyone on the internet who was into skincare would not shut up about The Ordinary. All the big names were fascinated by it, not to mention the hype it garnered on places like reddit and youtube and all of the other skincare communities. I completely get it: most people who enjoy skincare will reach a point where they lose enthusiasm for the marketing and jargon of the skincare industry, and just want stripped back, simple things that work. Deciem really tapped into that niche with The Ordinary, offering actives at affordable prices – skincare enthusiasts can easily go “hey, I want a stable topical Vitamin C/a simple retinol/a non-glycolic AHA/niacinamide for hyperpigmentation” and get exactly that. It’s got a clean aesthetic and very little focus on branding and marketing, which in itself is a very effective strategy for word of mouth in a community so driven by recommendation. Everyone I know who has tried The Ordinary, prior to its availability in Myer, has done so on blogger/friend recommendation. I do know that now the hype is calming down, people are becoming a little more disillusioned with the bases that they use, and I think it comes down to the products being very much hit and miss for different people. I would definitely advocate doing your research with these and finding out what has worked for people with similar product profiles to you. Knowing that I personally can’t use glycolic acid in any kind of leave on capacity without it causing irritation to my skin, I was seeking out some kind of alternative to the overly expensive and paying-for-the-hype Sunday Riley Good Genes. This is more active and far more transparent in terms of what it actually contains, and you can definitely buffer it through combination with a cream, but my skin is now pretty seasoned to lactic acid so I risked it with the 10% after patch testing and I think the combination with the Hyaluronic Acid makes it nearly perfect for what I need. It does smell very strong, but not in a way I consider unpleasant. I think the combination of this and the Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting Liquid 2% BHA is what has my skin at peak smoothness right now.

Physician’s Formula Murumuru Butter Bronzer Light (This is $29.95 at Priceline but almost never in stock in store; it is around $18.30 on iherb even with shipping, and they often have sales, but I’ve never bought from them) – Physician’s Formula has the most ostentatious packaging out there and every time I pick this bronzer up I  shudder a little. However, it is beautiful. It actually reminds me a lot of the Body Shop Honey Bronzer in 03, once the top layer is worn off – it’s really soft and blends beautifully, hard to go to over the top with. There’s a reason this is perpetually sold out and raved about online. BUT: oh god, there are so many things that I wish. I wish this didn’t smell so strongly of fake coconut. It’s strong. I can still smell it on the brush, not just in the compact. The weird sponge thing they provide is also absolutely useless, and I’m not even sure what you’re supposed to do with it. It is too thin to place product at the educe and too stiff to blend contour as you would if you were using a blending sponge for contour. If they nixed that and streamlined the packaging, eased up on the scent, this would be inseparable from higher end bronzers. It’s got a lovely tone to it, which is where the real praise comes from – it’s got warmth that allows it to be a nice all over bronze but because of the satin, lit-from-within finish and a lack of excessive orange, it can still be used for soft contouring in warmer toned looks or on more neutral people. Even though shadows run grey, if you use too taupe of a shade on someone with neutral-yellow colouring, you can end up with some interesting end results. The problem with that, then, is that this bronzer only comes in two shades, one of which is widely available in Australia (excluding iherb). I’m not 100% sold on this, as you can tell. I do really enjoy it. It’s great for easy makeup days, and when I’m not doing full on drama sometimes all I need is that bit of warmth on the temples and around the edges of my face. Sadly there are just too many hurdles for me to be fully into it, and I do wish I could build it up a little more if I wanted to.

Zoeva Strobe Gel in Aureole ($24 at Sephora Australia with free shipping over $55 online; Selfridges has it for $15.50AUD with that same year round $65 shipping option that I’ll never spring for; really anywhere you can get Zoeva so I got mine in store at Sephora) – I’ve many times admitting to often having the approach to makeup of a collector, which is admittedly not the healthiest attitude. I’m absolutely the product of the capitalist machine. I did not buy this gel/mousse texture highlighter because the name reminded me of areola, because that would be absurd. I did, however, get reeled in by the texture of this. I have long had difficulty working with liquid highlighters – I absolutely loathed the much raved about Cover FX Custom Enhancer Drops, and passed my Becca Shimmering Skin Perfecting Liquid on to a friend – but I love the intensity of shimmer, and after relative success with the Milk Makeup Holographic Highlighter (which is cream to powder), I thought I might have better luck. Plus there’s the novelty – if you look to the clips of this on instagram, you’ll see this returning to its form after being tampered with by a brush or a finger. It is a ridiculous reason to buy a product and I would absolutely not advocate it, but considering I liked the colour and I wanted to try the product, I will note that it is intensely satisfying. It’s got a lovely peachiness to it but it does read on the warm side on the skin, so if you’re stocked on gold highlights, you absolutely do not need this. It’s a lot easier to work with than the aforementioned Cover FX liquid highlighters, because it sheers out more easier, and I do love it with a bronzed base and golden lips and minimal eyes – it’s quite instinctively editorial, but I appreciate the capacity to turn it down. I have not reached for it that often, though, because the medium becomes a little difficult to work with, and if I’m not going for a bronze toned look, the colour can be a little dark to use as a plain old highlighter on my skin. I suspect it will also be worse value in the long run, because it’s the kind of product far more prone to drying out than an easily sealed bottle of liquid or (obviously) a powder.

IT Cosmetics. Bye Bye Pores Silk HD Micro-Powder ($39 from Sephora Australia but like all other things at Sephora, usually sold out) – I just needed a new pressed powder. That’s it. I fully intended on buying the pressed version of this to set my makeup with and then Sephora had no stock and I could not deal with another broken Rimmel Stay Matte lid and the Australis Fresh and Flawless powder didn’t have my shade and…here we are. I like this powder enough – it does the job at actually setting makeup – and I especially appreciate how finely milled it is, with its really nice smoothing effect on my pores on initial application and for a little while. I do find, however, that this powder does not do particularly well in terms of wearing well. Compared to my standard Body Shop Face Base, or even the Australis Fresh and Flawless, I found I got oily noticeably faster on days I was wearing this powder. I also, generally, dislike loose powders because I am a messy and uncoordinated person (I cannot blame it all on the early onset arthritis). I prefered the By Terry powder to this one – my deluxe sample is nearly done, so it’ll be in an empties post soon – because I could at least see a noticeable difference to my skin with that one, even though it left a bit of discernible shimmer and costs an ungodly amount of money that I will never invest. This one? It’s okay, but for $39 for some silica powder, I want it to at least keep me looking nice for a longer than my day to day stuff.

More to come! I didn’t stop there with The Ordinary, and I’m formulating some thoughts on some new Australis products.

 

Bite-Sized Five for February – Absences, Apologies and Photos of My Face

You know when your mental health takes a dive, you revert to less-than-healthy coping mechanisms and then you find yourself crying on a bathroom floor for three days straight and you realise you need to get your meds fixed up and stop doing what you’re doing? And then you leave the state for a while to go hang out at sea and write poetry? And then you’re back but you’re focusing on burying yourself in work and pouring energy into relationships that make you feel happy and supported? No? Not much else I can say then. Mental health is a constant stream of ups and downs and the downs have been pretty prominent recently. Rough.

Let’s not focus on that, and instead focus on some products I have thoughts about!

L’oreal Pure Clay Detox + Brighten Mask – This mask is…wicked intense. I finished my old detoxifying mask, for the rare occasion when I need something deep cleansing, so I picked this up in the Priceline 40% off skincare sale. It’s also good for if I want to use a combination of masks – this on the chin, with something softer everywhere else. It’s way too intense for me for weekly use. It dries incredibly quickly and goes very stiff, and if I leave it on for a full ten minutes I start to feel a burn. But: like the classic, intensely overhyped glamglow, it does the very satisfying action of showing up darker on the pores, and it leaves your skin looking fresh and cleansed and definitely smooth. I do feel like I have to use a lot of product to get a very thin layer, because it dries so quickly, so I imagine this will be finished quickly.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Eyeshadow Palette – I held off on buying this palette for so long. I was so good. But just look at it.

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It is absolutely stunning. If you don’t do a lot of warm toned looks, then it is definitely not worth it, but those are my bread and butter. The shadows are incredibly soft, and do kick up quite a bit of powder – I can see how people are panning shades – but they blend beautifully and don’t feel powdery or chalky on my eyelids, even without a primer. The brush is great quality, and I can do a pretty solid quick look using just that brush if I’m on the go, which is a great post-work quality to have for me (likewise, the mirror is top notch). The only shadow I have not really played with is Golden Ochre, because that yellow tone of neutral tends to look a bit sickly on me if not paired with very specific shades, but I don’t mind that as a trade off. My favourites are definitely the red shades, which are so hard to do well – Love Letter, Venetian Red and Red Ochre – Venetian red has some pink tones and some shimmer while Love Letter is truer red, as to Red Ochre which is browned and deep and good for adding depth. I also love the oranges, Burnt Orange and Realgar, and the neutrals-with-a-twist like Buon Fresco. Vermeer is one of the most gorgeous inner corner highlight shades I’ve ever used. Everything is capable of being really powerful, or playing subtle and toned down.

Will it be as much of a workhorse as my Kat Von D Shade and Light Eye palette? Probably not. That palette renders the most out there of shades usable for me. Where this does win out is by being one of the most forgiving palettes I’ve ever worked with, and by being one that I can open up and get excited by. If only the packaging wasn’t damn suede textured. This is going to get so grotty, I can already tell.

I’m wearing some shadows from this palette today along with the mascara and concealer in this Bite Sized Five, so I’ll put a photo at the bottom with a note on which shades I used.

Benefit They’re Real Mascara – This mascara has lost some of its steam in the beauty community over the past couple of years, but it was once the mascara to end all mascaras if you asked around. I mentioned this in my USA Haul, and I have already finished the tube of Roller Lash which will be in my empties (January and February have see many long standing minis of mascara meet their ends – a little spoiler is that I actually really enjoyed Benefit’s Roller Lash and while it didn’t blow me away, it was one of the nicer mascaras I’ve used for definition and curl). Common complaints with this mascara are that the brush is HUGE and SPIKY and VERY DANGEROUS, which I can absolutely confirm; can make lashes look spidery and prone to clumping, also very true; is atrocious to take off. Case in point:

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Post lashings of Bioderma and my usual makeup removing cleanser, usually a fine combo on mascara – thanks They’re Real, I guess.

Still, as you’ll see where I’ve used it below, when it’s used sparingly and with great caution to avoid eye-stabbing, it’s quite lovely. It’s way too much work for everyday, but I understand why it garnered so much affection. I have since tried it with the designated They’re Real Remover, but I think I’ll stick to oil.

Tarte Shape Tape Concealer in Light – Now admittedly, I picked this shade based on…almost entirely guesswork, and it is well and truly too light for me to use on blemishes while I’m at my darkest. I definitely recommend looking up swatches for this. Swatches are even more important if you do what I did and impulse buy this off the tarte website when they have a free international shipping promotion. It is still perfect for under my eyes, and workable for blemishes blended under a concealer. And let me say – this concealer is getting some ridiculous levels of hype. People are putting it at holy grail status. I’m not so quick to make final judgements, but I will say that it is extremely concentrated and creamy with coverage out of its ears. Really, other than the colour range, my main faults with this are the applicator and the scent. The applicator is overly huge and I always just end up dabbing it on with my fingers, and the scent is intense. It’s fake and floral and it lingers for a good few seconds after application.  But this, unlike the mascara, is something I’m willing to work with daily. It’s easy to blend and although creasing isn’t a major problem for me, I don’t have any problems with it. I’m almost tempted to get it in another colour next time tarte have free shipping.

Sunday Riley Luna Night Oil – Another much raved about item, I got this half-sized bottle in a set with the Good Genes treatment. I loved Good Genes, and it will be in my Jan/Feb empties. Luna? Not so much my thing. Admittedly, it’s not targeted at people with my skin type. I am very much combination, and while I get dry in the winter, in summer I can be a sweaty, oily mess. I’m prone to breakouts regardless of oiliness to dryness, and I’m not really that worried about aging yet (at the ripe old age of 21). I do really enjoy oils, though, and this is well reviewed, so I’m glad I got to give this a go. That said, it hasn’t wowed me too much. I’ll keep using it, and I’ll probably prefer it in winter when I go back to dry, itchy Sara skin. It doesn’t break me out, but it is pretty heavily scented and full of extracts that I’m not fussed on. If I had to choose, though, I would have just invested in Good Genes and skipped this guy. In Australia, I can’t bring myself to drop the money on either of them.That’s the honest opinion. In the US, it felt manageable – waiting for a Sephora sale, using a voucher, being a smart shopper. Here, Good Genes is about $150. I don’t think it’s $150 worth of results.

As for the makeup I did with some subtle Modern Renaissance, a frustrating coating of They’re Real and Tarte Shape Tape:

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I’m also wearing Sugarpill’s Trinket on my lips – I’m planning on writing about it at length in my next Recent Lipstick Wrap Up – over Urban Decay Deep lipliner, which gives the liquid lipstick a much more nude look. I love how the gold comes out over the course of wear. I’ve also got the It Cosmetics Brow pencil on, and the Physician’s Formula Butter Bronzer for some warmth. I only used neutral shades from the ABH palette to stay basic for my day off, laid down some Warm Taupe with Cyprus Umber for depth and then Primavera for lightness on the bulk of the lid. I need a better camera. My skin is great at the moment (hallelujah), so I didn’t have a lot to conceal, but the few things that were bothering me are pretty well covered.

And that’s that!