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.

 

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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.

 

 

 

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!

Bite Sized Five – Things I bought abroad

Obviously, I bought a lot of things in the USA. I did elaborate on some of my thoughts on the products in that gargantuan post, but I’ve been using some of the products for longer and with greater frequency, and a lot of thoughts have really had a chance to form about some things. A couple of the products here have been in my daily rotation, and others are super buzz-worthy at the moment, so it felt like as good a time as any to bring back the Bite Sized Five.

Milk Makeup Tattoo Stamp (Star) – This feels like such an obvious novelty product that it must exist already (and a quick google tells me AliExpress has them in spades), but for someone who likes to do graphic liner and has arthritis induced unsteady wrists, I appreciate the ease of eyeliner stamps. I’ve expressed my feelings on Milk’s gimmicky deal and Cool Girl aspirations before, but I’ve drawn stars with liquid liner before, and it’s downright irritating. As to the formula of this, it’s great as a stamp, but I would hate it as a felt tip because it’s hell to remove. Getting this off takes bioderma, an oil and some more bioderma. It stains blue. It’s great for specific looks and special occasions, but wow.

Sunday Riley Good Genes – While I was in America, my skin was utter trash. I’m putting it down to travel and disruption to my usual routine, mostly. That said, my skin is now the literal best it has ever been. I have about one pimple going on and this has never happened. Is it the return to routine? Back to the BHA exfoliation? Probably. I’ve also started using Good Genes every night. That, and cleansing with a Foreo. The only actual changes. I don’t know whether this Sunday Riley product has anything to do with how fantastic my skin looks and feels right now, but I’m too hooked on my skin looking good to change anything. Feeling it. It doesn’t smell great, but it feels nice and it’s gentle and it doesn’t break me out.

Mac Extra Dimension Skin Finish in Soft Frost – I love highlights that aren’t super glittery and have something a little different about them, and Soft Frost fits the bill pretty perfectly. It is ridiculously expensive – though fairly priced against the US, unlike a lot of MAC products – but it is giant, and it has that really lovely pink/blue shiftiness. I appreciate the lack of large physical glitters because when you have a shift like that, I don’t think you need all that extra highlighting of skin texture or flashiness. I also like that I can layer this over a cream product (which I’ll mention below) or even just build it vs. diffused application with my Smashbox fan brush to really decide how dramatic I want it to be. This was a splurge purchase, but it’s not one I regret.

Milk Makeup Holographic Highlighter – I don’t like cream cheek products. I knew this was a gimmick – that’s Milk’s whole thing. I know that “holographic” is a buzzword and I resent it and I hate that this was sold out everywhere and I had to snatch this up as the last thing on a display. I hate that it’s a product that works best over bare skin. And yet – on a bare skin day, slicking this on and looking vaguely alien? It’s all base, little shift, but it’s so very cool. I hate it, but I love it. Hard to get precision, and of course it will shift around anything you use beneath it, and it blends away to nothing if you properly blend at it, but when you just swipe it on and pat it with your fingers? Such a strong look. Dust some Soft Frost over the top and you too can be a fairy goddess.

Foreo Luna Play – Now it is absolutely not necessary to spend buckets of money on a device with which to wash your face. I am terrified of the Clarisonic, which looks genuinely painful to me (she of delicate, sensitive skin and easily broken capillaries), but I was intrigued by the Foreo and its more-than-passing-similarity to a vibrator. Indeed, it feels really nice to cleanse with, but it won’t foam anything up – it’s more like a soft exfoliation, which is great when manual exfoliation is too much for you a lot of the time. This one doesn’t recharge, which is irritating, because the size is super convenient and I appreciate how sanitary it is (a major turnoff with the Clarisonic, for me), so I doubt I’ll be rushing to repurchase it. That said, my skin is – as I mentioned – looking and feeling fantastic right now. I’d be hugely shocked if this happened to have anything to do with it, but if it did, it’s an investment I’d be willing to make. I cannot believe I’m washing my face with what is essentially a vibrator.

That’s five of them, but I’ll continue using stuff and talking about it. I’ve definitely got some feelings on some products I’ve been reaching for.

 

Bite Sized Five – September (new and new-to-me product reviews)

Other than lipsticks, I haven’t been trying out a whole lot of new things recently. I’ve been (drum roll) pretty sick, blah blah family problems, blah blah studying and working, and also just really trying to make the most out of what I already have rather than buying more stuff. Again, that’s with the exception of lipsticks. I’ve got a few things to talk about lipstick wise (Urban Decay Vice lipsticks! New Pretty Zombie Cosmetics Liquid lipsticks that I bought when I was heavily out of it on painkillers in hospital!).

I also could very easily have done a monthly round up of Body Shop products. As I’ve stated numerous times, I’m in retail, I work there, and it’s nice working somewhere that you actually like and use the products of. I tend to only talk about things if they’re huge hits or ridiculous fails (which does happen), and I tend to sample almost everything so my monthly empties tend to sum up most of the latest launches, but while I try not to overload these posts with that shit, there are actually two things I’m currently genuinely excited about. Like, would have bought full price as a normal customer excited. Like, one of them I bought three backups of excited. There are also some other things here that I’ve recently acquired, whether by purchasing them or by them just somehow ending up in my lap, but they felt worthy of discussion. Let’s dive in.

The Body Shop Piñita Colada Shower Gel – I put the shower gel here because I am a noted shower gel enthusiast and also because, as I mentioned, I bought three of these bad boys and I’m still not sure I have enough (three mojito shower gels didn’t feel like enough). Really, though, this is here for the scent. I also picked up the body butter, and I had zero intention of doing that. None. Do you know how many body butters you acquire when you work at The Body Shop? It’s a genuine epidemic. I had every plan on resisting this one in spite of the smell, but when I felt the texture – lightweight and springy, almost velvety, a la the Japanese Camellia Cream, I was sold. The shower gels were a no brainer. My mother loves coconut and I love pineapple, and we’re both thrilled that it’s not too heavy on the coconut so as to be cloying. Plus I’ve never had issues with TBS shower gels drying out my skin, and I’m not just saying that – Lush shower creams are my worst enemy, for example. Just check out the smell. Pop into a store and slather some on while it’s here. Grab a sample. It really is the perfect summery smell, not too heavy, not too sweet. I almost prefer it to Virgin Mojito. Almost.

The Body Shop Chinese Ginseng and Rice Clarifying Polishing Face Mask – I reviewed most of the new mask range back in my July empties, and I honestly wasn’t a huge fan of any of them. There was a lot of like-but-not-love going on (and in the case of the Himalayan Charcoal, which is coincidentally the most popular mask of the range in the Australian market, downright NOPE for me). I warmed up to the Acai berry one and I thought I might start to convince myself to gain enthusiasm for it, and then I finally tried the Ginseng and Rice mask. The next day, no kidding, my skin looked so damn good. I thought it might be a fluke, tried it again, and it turns out this mask is just the perfect match for my skin. It’s a clay mask, so it’s good for my blemishes, but it’s not a harsh stripping clay like the Himalayan Charcoal – it’s got rosehip oil and it dries almost soft, so you get the deep cleanse feeling but not to the same extent. It’s quite intense in its exfoliation, but with gentle little granules, and that’s lovely to someone like me who can’t handle our most popular exfoliation products and found two of the other masks to border on too exfoliating (acai and charcoal). I’m delicate. It’s also got a nice low but present level of salicylic acid and is overall just damn nice. It is permanent, so even though it’s sold out almost everywhere, it will be back eventually.

Paula’s Choice Resist Daily Smoothing Treatment with 5% AHA – And over to something I have slightly less glowing thoughts about, sadly.   I have had great success with and really do enjoy the 2% BHA liquid, and a lot of people spoke about alternating their AHA and BHAs, so on a whim I thought I’d plunge in to the full size and try this out. Maybe I just tried this at the wrong time for my skin, but the three week period I was using this  with no other new additions was some of the downright worst my skin has been in a long time, just really broken out which is not usually how it goes in winter weather. I might give this a go at a later stage but I’m super wary of it.

em. Cosmetics The Great Cover Up Concealer in Light Neutral/Cool – I got this in my last Bellabox, but I thought I’d throw it in here to update you on how it actually works and my thoughts on it as a concealer. I’m notoriously quite fussy with concealers, and incredibly nonplussed by most of the major players (Mac Prolongwear? Eh. Estee Lauder Doublewear? Eh. Maybelline FitMe? Eh. Nars RCC? EH. The list is lengthy). I am surprised by how much I am enjoying this, especially given my hesitance towards em. Cosmetics as a brand. It’s definitely a creamier consistency, and reminds me of a higher coverage version of something like the Maybelline Superstay Better Skin, or perhaps an easier to blend version of the It Cosmetics Bye Bye Undereye. It isn’t quite up to the job with severe raised blemishes which require a more tacky, solid concealer a la Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage or NYX’s Full Coverage Concealer in the little pot, but other than that it works well on blemishes, spot concealing, redness and under the eyes if you aren’t going for the instagram concealer highlight. The shade is nearly ideal for me, and will be perfect in summer – right now it’s a tiny smidgen too dark – and I appreciate the inclusion of undertones. I’ll definitely continue to use this, and it’s a product I would consider keeping in my regular rotation were it not so difficult to track down (perhaps I could cash in some of my hundreds of bellabox points).

Tarte Tarteist Lip Crayon in Latergram (deluxe sample) – I feel like every review of this range of liquid lipsticks and matching liners briefly mentions that they’re setting aside the cringe inducing names and you know what, let’s actually all take a few moments to fully embrace the cringe. Imagine, if you will, a slideshow with the names appearing on screen. Yaassss. Manbun. Bae. Twerk. On Fleek. I’m standing next to the screen. I’m staring at you, shaking my head. A single tear rolls down my cheek. We’re in this together. Right, so Latergram is a pretty classic mauve with some dusty, brick type tones to it. It’s pretty basic and I would swatch it but my lips are covered in Pretty Zombie Cosmetics Transylvania and that shit is not going anywhere – and this is not a swatch post. I thought “hey, what could go wrong? It’s a lip liner in a pretty colour!” Yikes. These lip crayons, while being self sharpening – nice – are so damn dry and draggy on the lips. Even my traditional shove-it-in-the-bra-for-five-minutes doesn’t resolve the dragging problem, and believe me, my lips are in impeccable shape. I thought my NYX retractable liners took a bit of work, but this is next level. Put simply, these are not worth it. The matte lip paints themselves are tolerable if you’re a fan of mousse formulas, but unless they reformulate these liners, there are so much better options available at so much cheaper prices (my favourites are NYX for colour range, Essence for price, The Body Shop for comfort/creaminess, Urban Decay for something that feels fancier).

Five things! Hope those were worthwhile thoughts. Share yours! Tell me about other things! I’ll be commencing work on one of those lipstick posts, but which? Who knows. I’m also going to America just before Christmas, land of reasonably priced makeup and wonderful holiday releases, so I need to start making a list and checking it several times. Variety is the spice of life.

Basics of Bases – My Ride or Die Base Products

There is absolutely no reason for a post about bases, other than the fact that I’m super enthusiastic about a couple of things. Half of the lead up to the post was just debating whether or not to make the title a song reference – I decided “Totally addicted to base-s” was a little too on the nose. This isn’t an in-depth review, although I might come back and talk more about these products again later at greater length, but I wanted to give an overview on the products that have been my staples. Whether it’s been a couple of months or a couple of years, they’ve all wormed their way into my heart and I’ve formed pretty solid opinions on all of the products featured.

I’m a pimple-prone girl with bumpy mystery skin. In the summer, I get slick and sweaty, but right now I am normal to dry. I’ve got a lot of texture and redness and little bits of scarring and of course, the spots, so it’s pretty rare that I’ll leave the house without a concealer. I feel more comfortable, and more like myself. If I’m going out or feeling more energised, I’ll wear a foundation and powder, regardless of what I layer on top or beneath – that’s why these three categories were the ones that felt like the real essentials to me.

Concealers

Maybelline Superstay Better Skin Concealer (This photo is of the Medium shade, which I use if I am miraculously tan; generally I use the Light) – Maybelline get a lot of praise for their FitMe concealer, and for that weird one with the sponge applicator, but those ones have never done it for me. I like my concealer full coverage, and though this is the lightest of the three, it is still more than enough to make any breakouts look better. If you’re oily it will definitely need setting, but I like the liquid consistency for how easily it blends out and how little I need to use. Cheap and cheerful, wish there were more shades.

IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Undereye Concealer (Medium) – I was wary of this concealer, because most of its devotees tend to be quite dry skinned, but thankfully this was a match made in heaven. The coverage is out of this world and it is rich and creamy, perfect for the under-eye area (but also usable with the excess around the face). It needs setting, non-negotiable, but you also only need to use the tiniest bit imaginable to get your skin looking flawless.

Mac Prolongwear Concealer (NC20) – I, like everyone else who has tried this concealer, loathe the packaging. The pump is ridiculous and will inevitably pump out more product than you need, because you need hardly anything to get good coverage. It also sets nicely, far less transfer prone than the IT cosmetics offering, so it’s actually good for the face and the under eyes (I tend not to mess with my under eyes unless I’ve had a really rough night). It’s always the coverage that does it for me, and how much product you get – there’s loads in here, and it packs a punch.

Foundations

Rimmel Matte BB Cream (Light) – It’s rare that I’ll go for lighter coverage base, and this is another one that you don’t hear a lot about online or in the beauty community. The reason I love it is because I love having the ease of a BB cream without the greasy,  gross, glowy finish most alphabet creams will give you. I know a lot of people love that, but it just highlights the textural issues with my skin, and I end up feeling gross. This one isn’t the longest wearing, but paired with some good concealer, I’ve got a super easy lightweight base that evens me out without feeling heavy or dull or flat. It definitely runs dark – when I am the lightest shade of the three available, there are some issues there at both ends of the scale.

Tarte Amazonian Clay Foundation (Light Medium Neutral) – I’m about halfway through my second tube of this foundation, and while I no longer reach for it every single day – I’m more often satisfied with something softer – I still harbour my love for it. For textured skin, there’s something magical about the mousse formula in the way it smooths over the surface without highlighting the places where lumps and bumps lurk. I love the coverage it gives – medium to full, and definitely buildable – and how easy it is for me to make my skin look close to flawless with this foundation.

The Body Shop Fresh Nude Foundation (024 Hawaiian Macadamia) – When this foundation first launched, I was not a fan. I wasn’t used to seeing my skin without full coverage, and I didn’t like letting my skin be itself. As I’ve been wearing it every day to work for the past three months, I’ve developed a passionate love affair with it. This has become my most worn day-to-day, day off foundation. It’s light-medium coverage, nicely buildable, but what’s important to me is how nicely it wears. I can wear it for a twelve hour day, and as it wears down I’ll see a glow to my skin, but there isn’t patchiness or clinging. Instead, even oily gross me, just soft and fresh looking, and the coverage stays there, even if a few more things peek through than at the start of the day. It’s not the coverage I thought I wanted, but for something for everyday, it’s lovely.

Powder

The Body Shop All In One Face Base (05) – Basically, when I want something not totally matte, I go for either this or the Australis Fresh and Flawless powder (except the colour options in that are not great). I like the compact, because of ease of reapplication, and I like the natural finish, and it’s basically just simple and easy and done. I haven’t been going for matte finishing powder as often, because I find that it’s the biggest contributor to clinging around my dry patches/spots, so I’ve been reaching for this way more often to set.

Rimmel Stay Matte Powder (Sandstorm but I own most of them and see minimal difference) – If I am, perchance, feeling like I want to be matte, I am a cliche and go for the classic Stay Matte powder. I haven’t bought this is a long time, because I don’t reach for it like I used to – matte just isn’t as flattering as it used to be. The packaging is also, for what it’s worth, atrocious – this is the only one I have owned without a cracked lid. It’s still good stuff, and it’s cheap, and it does what it says it will do. I need to reapply it fairly frequently, but I know what to expect.

And now I have totally addicted to base stuck in my head. Great.