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.

 

 

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July 2017 Empties and Reviews – Light and Late

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June Empties and Reviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Return to normal programming.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

 

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.

March Empties and Reviews

Now with 60% less junk! Don’t hoard your trash, kids.

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A disproportionate amount of shower gels! A soothingly soft green colour palette?

The Body Shop Olive Shower Gel – RIP Olive. Probably the best scent in the main lineup, and it’s just been discontinued (in Australia, anyway). It’s all on sale at the moment for $5, so I picked up a spare bottle. I’ve been through a few in my time – it’s fresh but not too aggressively crisp. There’s a slight soft floral tinge to it, but none too strong.

The Body Shop Virgin Mojito Shower Gel – My last bottle, discovered from the depths of my collection, finished. My favourite scent TBS have ever done. I don’t feel strongly enough for shower gel to buy it from ebay, but I do still have a little bit of the scrub, and I have the splash (still available in stores on sale) decanted into a spray bottle so that if I’m craving the scent, it’s not far off.

Rituals The Ritual of Sakura Shower Foam – This came in my November 2016 Lust Have It bag and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The scent was…eh, sweet and lightly floral. What was great was the texture – the foam worked really well for shaving without having to use a thicker oil or something. A little drying if I used it too often, but in the short term it was great. It doesn’t ship to Australia (but it does to the US and most of Europe)  though, so it’s for nothing.

The Body Shop Aloe Calming Cream Cleanser – I found my last bottle in the old packaging! The change was only last year, but I just use this cleanser with a loyalty I reserve for very few products. My thoughts have not changed from this empties post or this one or really any post I’ve made in the last few years on either of my blogs. It’s gentle and non stripping and it won’t give you a squeaky clean feeling, but thankfully I hate that feeling.

Fresh Soy Face Cleanser – This was supposed to be a really gentle cleanser, based on what I’d read. Naturally, I found it a bit drying. I also started to get little whiteheads after using it for a few days, and after an adventure reacting to a sunscreen, it was rough. I liked the smell, though, and it was less stripping than other similar cleansers. There are no physical retailers in Australia that I know of, and the online retailers aren’t ones that I have experience with.

Smashbox Insta-Matte Lipstick Transformer – I see no point to this product. I appreciate that sometimes you want to make a cream lipstick into a matte one (I prefer a matte finish, and I hate dealing with transfer), but this product does nothing that blotting or using a translucent powder can’t achieve. For me, at least. I’m sure – like with most products – there are people who love this and find it to really help them get the most out of their lipsticks. As for me? The idea of paying $35 for this is laughable. I’d rather use that money to buy a whole new lipstick in a matte finish, because I myself am laughable.

This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray – At Christmas I bought a little set of minis and this was one of them. It’s nice and lavender laden and I prefer it to the “plus” version. I still can’t decide whether or not I’d pay for it, because the aromatherapy thing has never really done it for me, but it’s still a nice addition to my nights.

DKNY Be Delicious/Golden Delicious Rollerball – This is a relic from when I was about fourteen. Be Delicious – along with Vera Wang’s Princess – was the first perfume I ever fell in love with. I still like it now! It’s apples and pears and not very sophisticated, but it’s lovely. Golden Delicious is nice, but it’s a little generic for me (more prominent blossoms and a bit of white floral to it) – there’s still some left but it’s gone sour.

The Body Shop Aloe Soothing Night Cream – When I don’t want to use an oil, or when I want something over the top, this is the cream I use above. It’s nothing dramatic or active and it doesn’t claim to do anything special, but it delivers hydration without being irritating and usually that’s all I want. In summer, I thrive off this stuff.

NARS Smooth and Protect Primer – For a $52 primer, I was expecting more. I don’t know. I didn’t mind the Pore & Shine Control primer, but this one never truly settled and made my foundation go on strangely. It felt extraordinarily thick and tacky and I can imagine I would go through it really quickly as well. Glad I tried it, and a few attempts gave me a better grip of how to work with it – you really need to let it sit on this skin before you apply foundation – but it’s way too much work to pay that money for it. Again, for me. I’d rather just pay exorbitant amounts to order the NYX Angel Veil primer off the internet.

This is so much easier to manage for a month. Also a lot easier to manage when I’ve been sick and my mental health is teetering on the edge – not great for me, but I tear through products with far less determination and aggression!

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.