Things I Bought Abroad – A Collective Makeup/Skincare Haul from All Over The Place

It’s been a while, huh? I noticed how full to the brim my bag of empty things was and then realised that I never got around to writing about the bits and pieces I picked up while I was travelling around different parts of Asia for three weeks. I am, as you might have noticed, a big nerd about skincare. It was nice to be able to pick up some of these things that are harder to get a hold of in Sydney for better prices, and there were also things I just wanted to try. Of course, the same points about consumerism stand as I made when I wrote about the things I bought in the US.

One of the many reasons I’ve posted so little recently is that I’ve been pretty satisfied with my makeup collection. I’m not fussed about adding things in because most of the time, things don’t excite me. I buy things that connect to experiences, largely, or spend money on food and fun and travel, so much travel. And sometimes, for me, skincare is a part of fun and travel! Sometimes makeup is an experience! But sometimes it is something I need less and less.

I also found it interesting to note the difference in attitude between how I packed my makeup for this three week trip as opposed to, say, that US trip or even to week long trips more recently. I condensed all I needed into a single, small makeup bag. I took two of the small Huda Beauty palettes but found myself, on a ship, often just pressing on single colours all over the lid with a finger. I brought plenty of lip options with me, but mostly just wanted to wear easy things with gloss, which wasn’t in my repertoire. When I bought makeup, it was out of enthusiasm for the dominant makeup trends or cool trend pieces. I wanted easy washes of eye colours to match my new purple hair! And I was, to boot, in the home of some great, gentle skincare. I can talk about it, because I’ve been back for a while now to try things out. Then we can get to talking about rubbish.

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Now, there are things here you can get in Australia. If I was going to pull the trigger on trying them, why not do it in their home countries without price inflation? I have tried all of these things! It’s an overwhelmingly successful bunch.

The Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF50+ is nice. It’s not something I feel I lack an alternative for – I’m okay with my L’aroche Posay SPF50+ – but it is a lot cheaper, and has a similar ultra light feeling. I do find that I break out if I use it too many days consecutively, but that’s not surprising.

I flat out love my two CosRX pickups – the BHA Skin Returning Emulsion and the AHA 7 Blackhead Power Liquid. CosRX can be ridiculously expensive from brick and mortar stores here, and I think I should have picked up some more things to experiment with! I’ve had really bad experiences with AHA before (notably the Paula’s Choice), but I use this one as a morning toner and I adore it. It’s lightweight and nonsticky and doesn’t leave my skin feeling all clogged up. The BHA Emulsion is somewhat thicker and I’ve been using it most nights in place of my Paula’s Choice 2% BHA which I think I must have started growing too adjusted to. I like the little bit of extra moisture it gives. They both also smell super palatable, which has never been my experience with acids.

I’m neither here nor there on the famous Isehan Kiss Me Heroine Make Long & Curl Mascara – I have pretty naturally curly, long lashes and I was underwhelmed by the ability of this mascara to hold a curl. I know that I’m not the intended audience, though, so I can’t really kvetch. All that said, I have never tried a mascara that stays on the lashes like this. I am talking next day after oil cleansing and micellar water and even a wipe, I will still be near-fully wearing my mascara. So if I’m in need of something that will stay put, this is definitely a winner.

Hey, Maybelline? Why can’t I find anything about this amazing lilac shade of the Fashion Brow Ultra Fluffy online and why can’t I buy it in Australia? It’s such a nice grey purple colour that it manages to look natural but also match my weird purple ends and brown roots? I’ll be using this a lot while the purple is still hanging around my hair.

I went into a banila co. store in Busan (one of my favourite cities) to pick up the Clean it Zero Cleansing Balm, something I’ve been meaning to compare to my usual body shop product, but got side tracked by their lipstick display. Even in the chilly South Korean and Japanese winters I’d been wandering through, there’s something about those glossy, kiss-of-colour lips. I limited myself to just one to try to remove myself from matte lips, the B. by Banila Lipdraw Melting Serum Stick was me sticking my toe into it. I went with a pretty pinky colour and look, I might need to dig in for some of the glossy shades in my collection. Once I picked this up, I wore it most days I was ashore. It doesn’t have great wear time, but it’s easy to apply on the go and it looked super cute.

Probably my favourite thing I bought, bar one alien themed t-shirt not pictured (it has a UFO patch that says “don’t hesitate to take me”), was the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask in Berry. This stuff is heavenly. It’s not too sticky or thick but it really stays locked on my lips so that when I wake up in the morning, my lips are soft and repaired and ready for lipstick. Maybe I should have tried the face mask version?

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Okay look, I went a bit wild with the Sailor Moon makeup. The blush is surprisingly lovely and I had a lot of fun trying out igari blush – maybe I should be wearing blush? The wand lipstick is even more of a novelty, but the colour and texture are lovely and I just goddamn love Sailor Mercury. And then some novelty sheet masks, because I’m a big nerd and I spent years of my life completely in love with this damn anime.

WakeMake Single Styler Eyeshadow in Purplista was what I picked up to get a soft wash of lilac glitter with my nothing sheen of lipstick, and it did the trick perfectly. It can be built right up or deployed with subtlety, and I really love the formula. It’s also a nice layering shade on top of a deeper purple or brown. I can really heartily endorse the shimmer shades in this line.

And then I lost it in it’s skinIt’s another brand that can be tracked down here, but the stores were everywhere I looked, and so colourful and fun. The colour coordinated range really spoke to me, because the whole experience of selection and curation was so streamlined. I’ve got no strong feelings on the Power 10 Formula One Shot VE Cream which has a nice consistency but isn’t anything spectacular (though doesn’t irritate my skin). I do, however, really love the emulsions. I guess I’m into emulsions now? The Power 10 Formula LI Effector is supposedly for sensitive skin, but it’s a great serum texture and gives moisture without greasiness; the Power 10 Formula PO Effector is a more cosmetic feeling formula with a slip to it, but it does feel nice to use in the morning if I want to take the extra step.

Look. I bought a bunch of stuff. I’m using a whole new cocktail of emulsions and essences and acids. My skin is looking and feeling phenomenal. Perhaps I just needed a shake up. I had an amazing time in Japan and South Korea and China and Vietnam and Thailand and Singapore and everywhere else I ventured. Now it’s time to write about my rubbish!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bite Sized Five – Thoughts on Things

I’ve been sick recently and it’s been hard to compile thoughts, but here are’s a quick grab bag of products that I’ve been wanting to share my thoughts on. Sometimes I start using a product a lot and I develop stronger thoughts on it and no one cares about them so I need a venue for that. This is the venue.

It Cosmetics Bye Bye Undereye Illumination – I should really update my Basics of Bases post, but a few products in that remain solid, including how I feel about the original Bye Bye Undereye concealer in that I love it when I need some hardcore coverage. I got a deluxe sample size of the newer version – the “illumination” version – and it’s…okay. It still gives me the same coverage, which is great. There’s no evidence of any darkness under my eyes when I put this on. However, the illumination factor is downright silvery in some lights, and it means that unlike the original you cannot use this or any excess on blemishes and if it isn’t blended studiously, you will be able to tell. I can only wear this concealer with a full coverage foundation, lest I end up a glittery mess – perhaps it would be a better option on someone with more darkness under their eyes that they’re trying to counteract, but I would worry about this highlighting it rather than erasing it. In short: not for me.

The Body Shop Matte Clay Foundation – From that same blog post, another product I still love and have completely surprised myself with is the Body Shop Fresh Nude foundation. It’s a relief, considering I really ought to wear it to work every day. For easy makeup that looks like skin, it’s the best. It’s still hard to fight my makeup loving instincts for full coverage makeup that looks like makeup, and while the new Matte Clay foundation is not at all an easy foundation, I am at the point in the learning curve where I’m totally into it.  This is not a foundation that forgives poor preparation or skincare – you need to prep and prime within an inch of your life. I love this with the primer I’m going to talk about in this post, actually. But I cannot skip moisturising or weekly physical exfoliation if I’m planning on wearing this, because it will find dry patches I did not know I had. It’s similar to the Tarte Amazonian Clay foundation in coverage and feeling, but it’s less thick and mask-like, but also less forgiving. It does share the property of being extremely long wearing and it keeps me matte to the high heavens, which I honestly was not expecting. It looks like makeup, but sometimes I want that – with heavier eye makeup and full contour/highlight, sometimes I feel like I need a more present base. The shade range on this one, though, is dismal. When I can wear shades three through seven, it’s a bad sign.

I’m ridiculously high maintenance, and I’ve found that my perfect work foundation is a combination of this one and the Fresh Nude. More forgiving than this alone, more matte and with more coverage than just Fresh Nude.

Zoeva Matte Full Spectrum Palette – I’m so boring and I just love matte eyeshadows. I’ve just been picking a few and then slapping on some g old glitter shadow or a beige satin and I’m good to go. This is a great palette for allowing me to do looks with greens or reds or blues depending on however I’m feeling, and it doesn’t waste my time with lazy metallics that I can just rip from other palettes. The Zoeva mattes are definitely stiffer than something like a Kat Von D or Anastasia matte, but they blend nicely and are good for building – you have to start small and work up, and I appreciate that. It stops the tendency to just rush overboard with orange and purple. It’s expensive – priced fairly, but it’s huge – and at more than $70, it’s only worth it if you know you’re going to use a spectrum of matte colours.

The Ordinary High Adherence Silicone Primer – I wrote recently about my enjoyment of The Ordinary’s other primer, the High Spreadability Fluid Primer, in a recent post. My enjoyment of that one lead me to pick up this option, which I was worried was going to be overly thick and tacky a la the Deciem Matte 12. Thankfully, this has the slight type of tackiness that is beneficial in a primer and helps to keep foundation adhering. Since it’s silicone based, it has the same smoothing action as the other primer. It feels lighter on the skin than the High Spreadability primer. That’s nice, sometimes. I wouldn’t wear this by itself, and it’s not the most effective pore filler around, but it’s become my go-to primer over the past few weeks. Frequency of use is okay, because I can actually afford to replace it (it’s around $10AUD from Myer), unlike the battle that is replacing NYX Angel Veil or the price of replacing Hourglass Mineral Veil.

Tarte Lights Camera Lashes – Tarte, as a brand, are not my cup of tea. I used to swear by their Amazonian Clay Foundation when I was young and struggling with texture, but then I realised that the heavier foundations weren’t always the best solution. Whoever posted a racist meme on their instagram today and then blamed an intern? Yikes. That all said, this mini mascara came in the Christmas lash stash (I redeemed for the Make Up Forever Excessive Lash), and it’s a pretty popular one on the scene so it deserves comment. It’s nice. If you want very long, fluttery lashes that don’t clump together, this is a good mascara for that. Not too wet or too dry. On initial application, it’s one of the most false lash adjacent mascaras I’ve ever tried. However! My god, this mascara does not stay on. I don’t generally struggle with mascara running as a rule, which is why I find this notable. I seldom opt for waterproof mascaras but this mascara, after four hours, had flaked all over my under eye area and at six hours was smudge city. So all in all, that outweighs the initial prettiness for me. I’ve been using it up through layering – it’s lovely on the top lashes only, working with a far more durable and volumising mascara. I’ve enjoyed using this alongside the Buxom mascara, which I’ll probably write about soon, as it’s become one of my absolute workhorse products.

I tend to avoid writing about lip products here, but a special shout out rant about the Nars Power Matte Liquid Lipstick packaging. Beautiful, beautiful products on the lips – I have Starwoman and it’s an absolutely gorgeous red – but be it a faulty item or a fault of a lack of proper stopper and a very thin product, this thing leaks everywhere. I have red liquid lipstick all over my handbag. Caution advised.

That’s all my cut down rants and rambles for the moment, but I’m sure more are soon to come.

What’s New? Fenty Beauty Match Stix Skinsticks Review (and bonus foundation first impressions)

I wanted this to be a short review because I haven’t owned these for long enough to get too in depth, but I have a lot of things to say. Mostly, I have those things to say because everyone on the internet is in the throes of Fenty obsession. Like any good blogger, I’m always here to jump on a trend midway.

A few days ago, Rihanna’s makeup line launched worldwide. Everyone went a bit wild, and I’d say rightfully so. At launch, the foundation range had 40 shades, going far beyond the shade range of most well established foundations. There’s a heavy emphasis on wearability for darker skin tones, which is extremely rare in mainstream makeup. I know that this line is not made for me primarily, and that’s lovely. Not everything needs to be for me. So while I took a sample of the foundation – in 120,  for reference – I was surprised by the other things that caught my eye. I ended up making my own little trio of the Match Stix, a product I was expecting to walk past completely.

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I picked up one of the matte match stix for cream contouring, Amber, and two of the shimmer options, Trippin and Confetti. They magnetise together in honeycomb patterns, which is cute but ultimately just a little gimmick for fun. Individually they retail for $37AUD or $25USD. There are also premade sets of three for different skintones which are considerably better value at $79AUD or $54USD. The reason I opted out of that was that they contained a) a matte concealer/cream highlight, which is a product type I do not use, b) the shimmer highlight colours were all pretty conventional and easy to dupe. I wanted something a little more bespoke.

Here are swatches of the three I picked up.

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Top to bottom: Fenty Beauty Amber, Trippin, Confetti, and Milk Makeup Holographic Highlighter Stick for comparison

First up, Amber. All of the matte shades I swatched had smoother, less stiff consistencies than the shimmer match stix. This was no exception, and it was by far the coolest of the fair contour shades. On the odd occasion that I do go for a contour, I like it to be very easy and very natural looking, so I like these very shadow-esque cool shades on my skintone. On warmer skin, colours like these can look a little odd – it’s all an undertone thing – but you all know my feelings on makeup for correction vs. makeup for fun and messing around. Do your thing. Still, this is basically the platonic ideal of a cream highlight for me, a person who does not cream highlight. I swipe it on where the hollows of my cheeks would be if I were less round faced, perhaps a bit around the edge of my hairline, and blend it out with a sponge. It takes a couple of seconds and it doesn’t leave any harsh lines. I’m wearing it in almost every photo you’ll see later. In a surprise to myself, this is my favourite thing I picked up.

Trippin is far more subtle than I anticipated on swatching it. It’s very much a peach with gold shimmer, consistent with most of the shades in the collection, while a couple are like Confetti and err more on the side of glitter. My skintone twin sales assistant at Sephora recommended this one to me as a natural glow with a bit of a twist, and I went against my instincts to take her advice.

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You can barely even see it here, on my strangely angled face with my bare skin sans light contour and highlight, but this is the highlight swiped on once and then patted out. It’s stiff on application but disperses very easily with fingers or a sponge. I wouldn’t advocate for a brush, unless it is particularly dense. Lovely for everyday, so for me, not that often. I wish highlights were easier to photograph when they weren’t blue and purple.

 

Confetti is, thankfully, a lot easier to photograph. It is spectacular to behold. I swatched it next to the Milk Makeup Holographic Highlighter stick because I was immediately reminded of it. My irritation with that one is that it’s the very editorial high gloss look that I infrequently go for. Confetti is far more reliant on glitter for its purple/blue shift rather than glossy shimmery sheen, so it’s horrible for texture but I much prefer the look overall. It’s the stiffest formula of the three match stix I have, and the hardest to disperse with the most glitter fallout. That said, it’s also the highest impact. You do have to work harder to diffuse the initial purple streak on your face and the glitter atop it, but it’s not that much more work than other formulas I’m used to that are more pigmented at their bases. It is also very easy to use this one warmed up on the palm and then patted on, but I would still be very wary of glitter getting around the place.

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Better photo coming later – this is a more subtle application, but I have showed it built up in a full look below. Also, note how good Amber looks as a contour. I can see myself using this a lot on my days off. In fact, I’m using this today. Speaking of today…

 

 

Bit of a bonus look. I’m feeling surprisingly enthusiastic about these products – Trippin less so, but definitely Amber and the more I wear Confetti, the more I want to talk about it – so I based my whole look off of Confetti to the max today. I also tested out the foundation, so continue on for a first impression of that. On the off chance that you’re interested. Here’s Confetti built up, used as the inspiration for the rest of a look:

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My base is the Fenty Beauty foundation in 120 with Amber as a contour and Confetti as a highlight, topped with a bit of Mac Soft Frost for some extra intensity. I have a Moonshot Jelly Pot in Aubergine on my eyes, topped with a tiny bit of Confetti, and my lips are Kat Von D’s Ayesha topped with Black Moon Cosmetics’ incredible new matte glitter lip topper in Luna. I love how the highlight looks layered and built up, and I can’t get over Amber as a contour.

First impressions of the foundation? Someone on reddit commented in passing that it seems to have been designed for photography, and there is some kind of witchcraft going on in that respect. To my eyes, this foundation looks…average. I primed half of my face with my current favourite primer (The Ordinary’s High Adherence Silicone Primer), and neither side had any difference in application or appearance. Both look like they’ve settled into my pores very quickly and it looks very very dry, even on my distinctly normal/combination skin. And yet, in photographs – admittedly not that high quality photographs – this foundation disguises all of its flaws.

Here’s a before and after of my skin in this foundation:

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I mean, sure, it still looks pretty funky around my nose and the moustache I refuse to remove. But I assure you that in real life, this foundation looks pretty average for a foundation. The coverage is decent but not great. It doesn’t smell super strong, which it can hold over the foundation I would liken it to on the skin out of my experience in the foundation world – the Lancome Teint Idole Ultra. It’s also lighter than that, but feels similar and looks similar on the skin. In terms of making my skin look great in person, I’ve never quite topped the Giorgio Armani Lasting Silk. This is, notably, half the price. I also think that it’s no fault of the foundation: this is not a foundation for me. Or perhaps it is, but not right now. This foundation is for people with oily skin and limited textural issues. It covered my redness beautifully, but latched on to every bit of texture around and felt incredibly dry. Not every foundation needs to be for me. I’ll come back to it once more of those 30 degree days roll around and see how my thoughts evolve.

All in all, I appreciate the cohesiveness of Fenty Beauty’s branding and I don’t fault people for being unable to separate a brand face from their feelings regarding the brand in a world of fast capitalism and hyper consumerism. It’s the world we live in and we need to be conscious of it and evolve around it. I think greater diversity in shade range can only ever be a good thing, but that doesn’t mean anything is above criticism, nor is it deserving of backlash for backlash’s sake. Balance and critical consumerism at all times in an industry that profits, largely, off exploiting the insecurity of women. Let’s criticise that while we continue to enjoy the parts of it that we do, like the creative element and the opportunities – oft missed – for diversification and the copious amounts of glitter.

Bite Sized Five – Trying Things and Thinking Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

BH Cosmetics Backlight Highlight Palette Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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.

 

Recent Lipstick Wrap Up – Swatches, Reviews and a Whole Lotta Lip Stuff

I was waiting to post this until some gorgeous friends returned from the US with a lipstick delivery for me – Mac’s Colour Rocker collection was going to fall into my hands, and we all knew it was inevitable. While I talk about those new arrivals, I figured it was also a great time to discuss some other brand new (and less brand new stuff): new additions to the excellent Sephora Cream Lip Stain collection, the Smashbox Always On liquid lipsticks and Winky Lux lipsticks that just launched at Mecca, Rimmel’s matte iterations of their Only One lipsticks and the Sugarpill liquid lipsticks that I’ve had since returning from the US and have so much to say about but have yet to form thoughts into some semblance of coherency.

Here are the swatches! There’s a certain colour palette evident in them that gives you a nice idea of what I’ve been gravitating towards recently.

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L-R: MAC Yash, MAC Show and Teal, MAC Deep with Envy, Rimmel 750 Look Who’s Talking, Rimmel 500 Take the Stage, Winky Lux Mermaid — Sugarpill Trinket, Sugarpill Pumpkin Spice, Sephora 17 Dark Red, Sephora 29 Dark Forest, Smashbox Out Loud

Bullets, then liquids. With my hair newly dyed, a lot more green in it, I’ve been gravitating towards dark teal and emerald shades. I’ve also been going for no makeup more often on my days off, when I’ll tend to just do a red lip or a neutral tone. I was also on a quest for the perfect burnt orange, which I think I’ve found.

Bullet Lipsticks

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Mac Yash (Permanent, top left) – Despite owning a frankly preposterous amount of lipsticks, it might shock you to know that I do not think that there are really…any real nudes in the bunch. There are a lot of brown-neutrals, which tend to be what I reach for in place of nudes, but they tend to be too strong and have too prominent tones on the odd occasion I want to play with a dark eye. I love the Mac matte formula, and looking at lots of swatches on lots of skintones, I decided that Yash was what I was looking for. It’s glorious, and just a notch past corpsey. I definitely won’t wear this on my palest and sickliest of days – the days where Crohn’s has ripped all of my life force out of me – but it’s something I feel like was actually missing from my extensive and ridiculous collection.

Mac Show and Teal (Limited edition, top right) – As far as teals go, I probably own more than one person should. There’s something lovely about this one – it teeters between a true teal and a sky blue. I didn’t have problems with opacity or adherence to my lips, but I did find it quite slippery for a Mac matte. This will be fairly high maintenance, because of that slip combined with the unforgiving colour. It’s the things we do for weirdness.

Mac Deep with Envy (Limited edition, middle left) – This colour makes me froth with glee. Just thinking about it excites me. It is definitely drier than Show and Teal or Yash, shows through a little more of the lip, takes a bit more layering…the payoff is that it lasts really nicely for such a wacky colour. With good lip prep, ensuring that my lips aren’t stained, it’s perfect. Just that colour, straddling the line between teal and forest green, almost with some blackness to it.

Rimmel The Only One Matte lipstick in 750 Look Who’s Talking (Permanent, middle right) – Speaking of the brown toned neutrals I tend to reach for instead of nudes, here’s one! I used my priceline voucher this quarter to try out this new branch of Rimmel lipsticks, but I wasn’t worried: the Kate Moss matte lipsticks are some of the best matte lipsticks at affordable pricing. These still have that typical Rimmel lipstick smell, but the formula is excellent – smooth and opaque, great lasting power, intensely comfortable. Not as matte as a Mac matte, but definitely something. I actually like these flat angled bullet shapes. Provided you’ve got fairly full lips, they allow for quite easy application.

Rimmel The Only One Matte lipstick in 500 Take the Stage (Permanent, bottom left) – I didn’t at all need another red lipstick. Particularly one like this, that is quite pink toned and shares a lot of DNA with lipsticks like Ruby Woo and all of its leagues of imitators. I absolutely have no need for this, but it is a completely practical lipstick for the everyday consumer, and I would definitely recommend this or one of the Maybelline Mattes as a nice staple that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

Winky Lux Matte Lip Velour in Mermaid (Permanent, bottom right) – Let’s all stop and take a moment to acknowledge that this is absolutely not a matte lipstick. Lies and slander, Winky Lux. It is, however, a gorgeous colour. It’s Show and Teal and Deep with Envy had a baby in a cream finish. I’ll forever find justifications for different shades of teal. It’s dark but not gothic, and it’s kind of a nice change to have some dimension.

Matte Liquid Lipsticks

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Sugarpill Liquid Lip Color in Trinket (Permanent, top left just after initial application; top right after slight rubbing with finger to show gold glitter) – You’d think “Trinket is way too neutral for Sara” but you’d be wrong. I fell in love with this lipstick the moment I saw it on a gorgeous waitress in a seedy sports bar in Honolulu. We talked about it for fifteen solid minutes, she let me swatch it, and it was love. It’s mostly the way it transforms as it wears that bewitches me. It starts neutral-with-a-twist and gradually gets more and more golden, which is why I put two swatches there. It wears beautifully, but I do wish the colour to the base was a little stronger so that the colour didn’t lose itself to the micro glitter over time.

Sugarpill Liquid Lip Color in Pumpkin Spice (Limited edition, middle left) – I caved to all of the beautiful photos of this lipstick, despite knowing that gold is not really my colour. Sadly, this colour did what I dreaded it would do, and went on a bit sheerer than it looked like it would. It’s a lot more liquid than Trinket, and somehow the orange tones don’t transfer as much so it’s more neutral gold than pumpkin. Talking pumpkin, the pumpkin spice scent is heavy – if you’re sensitive on the lips, the cinnamon in this is definitely irritating on delicate sorts. With the metallic finish, it also wears away a lot faster than Trinket.

Sephora Cream Lip Stain in 17 Dark Red (Permanent, middle right) – It looks like the collection expansion that came to Australia is different to the shade expansion that the US got. It’s a bummer in that the more fun shades, other than the black, haven’t reached Australian shores, but on the bright side – different shades to explore that don’t seem to be around in the states. This dark red shade is not that dark, but it’s darker than 01 Always Red (the best red liquid lipstick about), which makes it perfect for me. Like the rest of the lipsticks in this formula, sans the few weird ones in the original collection, it’s opaque and comfortable and wears spectacularly and smells like cake. It’s become a new everyday colour for me.

Sephora Cream Lip Stain in 29 Dark Forest (Permanent, bottom left) – Very much the liquid lipstick version of Deep with Envy, so my platonic ideal of a lipstick. Great formula, obviously takes a tiny bit more work because the colour is so bold, and wears away a little more quickly.

Smashbox Always On Liquid Lipstick in Out Loud (Permanent, bottom right) – I had heard such great things about this formula but the brown shade, True Grit, underwhelmed me and got a little flaky. With my recent gravitation towards anything burnt orange, I was excited that these finally hit Australian shelves and I got to put a Mecca voucher I had towards trying out what I’ve seen to be the standout shade from the range. Thankfully, this is incredibly comfortable – it feels like one of the Sephora brand ones on the lips. I’m not hugely into the giant triangle applicator, which makes it harder to get a clean application quickly. This wears wonderfully. It’s a great liquid lipstick.

Look, I know I have too much lipstick. You don’t have to tell me that.