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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Big things, little packages: A quick review of the Huda Beauty Obsessions palettes

If I were to try to describe most of the beloved palettes in my collection, it would be hard to find a unifying trait. The closest you would get would be to tackle size, because apparently I tend to like my palettes big. From sensibly generous Anastasia palettes to downright unwieldy Kat Von D holiday palettes, I just tend to yearn for more than a more restrained quad or travel palette can give me. I want to be able to let my laziness fly free, pull colours from the same place, and to be inspired by a colour scheme that I am given. I want something that oftentimes a little baby palette can’t offer me.

Nothing had ever really given me reason to dip my toes into the well of Huda Beauty. I had no sentimental connection to Huda Kattan herself, having never really come across her content on any social media platform, and had never been one for false eyelashes. I’d managed to refrain from having my interest piqued by her liquid lipsticks, and the highlighter kits all seemed fairly run of the mill. I’ll admit to being intrigued by the new foundation, although hand swatch showed up the kind of scent that makes me shiver at the memory. When I heard that palettes were launching, I was thoroughly unmoved – that is, until the photos came.

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If you’ve ever read this blog before, you’ll know which of these colour schemes sung out to me instantaneously. It sung so loudly that we’re talking track-down-a-palette-on-launch-day. My thirst for true to pan yellow and hot pink eyeshadows is deeper than any known trench, and it was love at first sight with the Electric Obsessions palette.

I picked up the Electric Obsessions palette within the first week of its launch at Sephora Australia, right as my hair was transitioning to purple, unshaken by its $48 price tag. I did apply a 10% coupon with some of my many, many stockpiled points, but I mostly ignored the little voice in my head that was saying “$48? For a palette the size of your palm?” (That may not sound small, but it helps to know that my hands are famously small, and that I would say they are the size of the hands of an average ten year old) I was treating myself to get through retail Christmas, and if it was a good palette, it would be worth it.

It would have sucked if this had been a bad palette. Instead, there are nine vivid brights squeezed into the size of a typical quad with no wasted space, and each pan holds a decent amount of product. Some shades are shimmers, others are matte, and all of them pair logically with at least one other partner shade in the palette. It is not a conventional standalone palette, but just this and a matte mid-tone brown single is a cohesive look; if I’m feeling up to it, I don’t even bother with other shades to mute the palette. All of the colours apply smoothly and with great reflection of what they look like in the pan, even that striking yellow. There’s even a good sized mirror and a magnetic closure.

As you can see, I now own two of these little palettes. I picked up the Smokey Obsessions palette several weeks later. I was torn between it and the Warm palette, which felt very versatile within itself, but I felt like travelling with just Electric and Smokey would allow me to do most of the eyeshadow combinations I ever dream of. Basically, I’ve come to view these palettes as the perfect travel palettes. They aren’t as soft as something like an Anastasia palette, so I don’t have to worry as much about their transport, but they allow for a great amount of versatility within a very small amount of space. Between these two palettes, I have the very me brights and the purples to complement my hair along with the neutrals for everyday and metallics to transition to evening. If I don’t have to travel with the bulk of my Kat Von D Shade and Light palette, I sure as hell won’t. The quality is consistent, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see another eventually end up in my collection (perhaps as something else transitions out).

I’m not about to go out and pick up the full sized Huda Beauty palettes, which don’t appeal to me at all, but I do think these are a smashing success. I wish that the beauty industry would start to adopt this trend away from conspicuousness and absurdity and garishness – I feel like these next few seasons will see a muting in the holographics and the unicorns and the things designed to be flashed. I can handle the signalling implied with a practical 3×3 palette in matte black; I know what it’s saying about me and my attitudes and my place. I’m not as comfortable with what is being signalled by brands with over the top packaging whose emphasis is on the fetishisaton of cuteness and whimsy and childishness or sexiness. I want to know where I stand.

Fenty Beauty Mattemoiselle Lipstick – Review and Swatches

Shake it off, Sara. You’ve done this for years. It’s just a blog, it doesn’t bite.

It’s been a while! My last post was a bunch of rubbish from October, and on Sunday we’ll be leaving the hellscape of 2017. I have no excuse. Actually, I have lots! No one’s here to read them, though. You’re here because I was powerless to resist the allure of Fenty Beauty’s colourful lineup of matte lipsticks with their silly names and Alissa Ashley’s honestly award worthy video on them.

It’s what kicked me back into blogging gear. No one wanted to hear another person’s thoughts on their Anastasia Subculture palette (sitting in my drafts in bullet point form). A whole new lineup of lipstick, though? From someone who delights in the strangest of shades? Released internationally on the same day with a very limited PR run? That’s an arena I can stick my head into.

 

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I’ve been working absurd hours, but I used the few hours of sleep I’d accumulated to limit myself to three shades. I was reasonably confident in the products – since my initial Fenty review, I’ve had great success with a split pan highlighter and multiple glosses (their universal gloss and a glittery christmas variation), and have become pretty confident in the brand. Nothing lures me in faster than a brightly coloured line of lipsticks, so this was the perfect launch for me. Almost all of the colours called to me – I had to put back a deep blue that didn’t seem quite opaque and a deep brown called PMS. I turned down a lipstick called PMS. After a lengthy decision making process, I ended up with colours from all over the spectrum.

The formula, overall, is stellar – with a caveat to expectations. If you’re expecting the longevity of a Mac retro matte or a liquid lipstick, with a name like Mattemoiselle, that’s not what this is. There’s a heavy emphasis on how these products make the lips look, and so there is no clinging to dry patches or skipping, there is a lot of creaminess. They are very honestly a creamy matte, more reminiscent of some newer Urban Decay comfort matte lipsticks or the creamier shades of Mac mattes rather than a retro matte or a Melt lipstick, for example. There is some inconsistency from shade to shade that I will touch on, and that I picked up with shades I didn’t purchase, but colours that are traditionally prone to skipping and tugging at the very least layer with ease. I was surprised at how plump and hydrated my lips looked in all of the shades, despite being anything but right now. Wear varies across shades, and the creamiest of shades have shorter longevity than the slightly waxier ones. The girls at Revelist were disappointed with the sacrifice of longevity to the traditional formula, but I think that the new age of all matte liquid all the time has skewed our expectations dramatically. This feels, to me, like how a good lipstick should feel. It looks nice and wears well, and you get the things from it that you lose in a liquid matte (comfort, wearing away without looking like the inside of your lip is crusting off).

The packaging is fine, I guess, but feels flimsy as anything with the metallic finish that shows any fingerprint you even think about making. They are also tiny, tiny, tiny things. It’s not that they contain a small amount of product – they’re 1.7g to a 3g Mac lipstick (obviously they are cruelty free, vs. Mac and their record in that respect), and AU$28 to the Mac’s AU$36, which isn’t the exact conversion, but it makes sense. It’s more that the actual lipstick borders on child sized. It’s nice for my little lips, but it would make for  slow application on people with bigger lips. It’s also rounded, which can make it more difficult to get precision on the upper lip.

Ready yourself for my traditional terrible swatches.

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L-R: s1ngle, one of the boyz, midnight wasabi

s1ngle

Almost all of the near-nude lipsticks that I own are liquid formulas, and recently on my days off/bold eye days, I’ve been feeling a little lower maintenance. On people with deeper skin, this looks less peachy, but I found myself drawn to just how smoothly this applied. My new silver/purple hair is also giving me more range with peach tones and I own very few of them. This is possibly the best of the lipsticks in application, despite being the lightest.

One of the Boyz

I have purple hair now, so I wanted to try lilac lipstick again. This one went on, again, very smoothly. It felt almost like a cream lipstick, even as it sat on my lips. These colours are not the most flattering on me, but I don’t really care.

Midnight Wasabi

Now, I own a lot of green lipsticks. As soon as I saw the pictures of this, I knew it was a pretty unique shade. I’d call it a muted forest green? It’s the stiffest of the three to apply, but it also lasts really well. It does also require two layers for even application, because it does tend to disperse from the upper lip.

Bonus photo of Midnight Wasabi after five hours of night time wear – no eating, but plenty of drinking. Ignore the rest of the makeup, which had been holding on for more like 14 hours at this point.

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I’m pretty pleased with that, for a creamy, comfortable lipstick.

Lipglosses I Suddenly Own (or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Gloss)

I have never liked lipgloss.

Even as a child in the height of lipgloss madness in the late 90s, I hated how sticky my strawberry kiwi Bonne Bell lip gloss was and how my hair would get stuck to it and would take a lip smacker over the gloss any day.

As a makeup enthusiast, I have heard the whispers for a while now. I knew that gloss was coming back, but I was pretending I couldn’t hear those whispers. I clutched my matte liquid lipsticks ever closer to my chest. Until a couple of months ago, I didn’t have a single lipgloss in my admittedly vast lip product collection.

Of course, you’ve seen the header photo for this post. I blame Rihanna. Gloss has been coming back for a long time, but something about the lipgloss that launched with Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty line lodged in my brain. At the same time, The Body Shop launched some glosses. Naturally, I started wearing glosses daily – Apple Taffy became my go-to, thanks to my retail job – and then glosses were my wholly my thing.

And so the quest for the perfect gloss began. Let’s follow it, in chronological order.

The Body Shop Shine Lip Liquid in Apple Taffy and Cherry Gum – These are cheap, and they look lovely – Apple Taffy in particular – but they don’t wear long enough to be the perfect gloss (though they’re better than some). Still, they leave colour deposited well and they give a great level of shine, and they’re very comfortable. I don’t worry so much about stickiness, because my hair is almost always up when I’m working.  The applicator is the best thing about these? More glosses with this applicator. Apple Taffy is a very nude neutral, but not ultra opaque, and Cherry Gum is a bright pinky red.

Winky Lux Glossy Boss in Truffle – Truffle is a deep nude colour, and colour wise it is perfect. It is also one of the highest shine glosses I’ve tried, which was what I was looking for initially – that editorial, high shine nude, and this won out of all the ones at Mecca Maxima. The problem with this gloss is that it is wicked sticky. I don’t mind a little sticky, but aside from the Too Faced Melted Latex, I have never put a stickier product to my lips.

NYX Lip Lustre Glossy Lip Tint in Ruby Couture – This isn’t super glossy, but I like the marriage of a little gloss with a lot of colour and a decent tint on the lips. I was satisfied by how nicely this sat on my lips. This will probably be my low effort lip colour this summer, because it’s a basic red with an easy finish.

Smith & Cult The Shining Lip Lacquer in Flesh Riot – I went to swatch and probably buy the Fenty gloss, having finally decided that I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and of course it was sold out at all of the Sydney Sephora stores. The closest thing, it seemed, was this gloss by Smith & Cult, though it has a bit more pigment to it – it’s a nude gloss with a beautiful gold shimmer right through it. This one is beautiful on the lips, and perfect in consistency – not sticky, very shiny – but doesn’t wear very long.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Lip Gloss in Kristen, Orchid and Vamp – I actually acquired one of these before any of the other glosses – Orchid was free at a Sephora opening a while back, but I was so grossed out by glosses that I hadn’t even opened it. These are the platonic ideal of a gloss, but I find myself shying away from them because they smell very strongly of fake vanilla. Like – very strongly. Kristen is a perfect pink-toned nude, Orchid is a bright violet, and Vamp is a very browned deep red.  I appreciate the range of colours and the shine of them, and the wear time is decent.

Fenty Beauty Cosmic Gloss Lip Glitter in Gal on The Moon – I adore this gloss. This is, not shockingly, my favourite gloss. It is so glittery and weird and I adore it. It’s basically a sheer violet base with a bunch of blue glitter in it and my god, you know I love weird glittery stuff. This was an absolute impulse purchase and I messed up. Layered over lipstick, though, or a nude liner – my god. Force of nature.

Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb in Fenty Glow – And finally, I caved and ordered this online, based on the recommendation and swatches of a wonderful friend of mine. My god, it is stunning. It’s thick and ultra glossy and strangely plumping in aesthetics, but not in feeling, without having any dominant colour other than a sheer rosiness.

I regret…nothing? I regret some things. I regret the Winky Lux gloss; I probably didn’t need those colours of the Anastasia glosses. But apparently I’m into gloss now.

I’m still a matte girl. I like my lips as dry and unwelcoming as the rest of my persona. Searching for myself through glosses has been a journey, and I’ve learnt about what I like and what I don’t. I think I’m at current max gloss.

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.

Battle of the Weird Holographic Highlight Palettes: Kat Von D Alchemist vs. Zoeva Spring Strobe Spectrum

[Curious about my absenteeism? Want to read about my thoughts on…everything that isn’t makeup? I’ve been prepping my pop culture blog, Sara Watches Stuff. Check it out for more lengthy rambling!]

Back in May, I wrote about the BH Cosmetics Backlight palette. At the time, highlight-mania was reaching an all-time peak, and I was dipping my toe into experimentation with fun colours. All of the points I made in that review still stand: it’s a decent palette but the differences of weird colours are always going to be minimal once they’re on your skin; the palette is good value but the colours wear away fairly quickly and vary vastly in quality. I mentioned the Kat Von D Alchemist palette as my high end lust object. Two months later: here’s two oddly coloured highlighter palettes, that one included. Let’s talk about them.

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Kat Von D Alchemist Palette; Zoeva Spring Strobe Spectrum Palette

The Kat Von D palette retails for $50AUD on the Australian Sephora website, which is a considerable sum. I received it at a Sephora opening, so thankfully I spared myself that pricetag. I bought the Zoeva palette for definitely less at the time (I seem to recall it being $39? Perhaps I used a voucher), but it’s now on Australian Sephora for $45.  If you’re after the prestige of a certain brand, the difference in price is minimal – either is still a lot of money for four very similarly coloured highlight powders. How similar?

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Pretty similar. If you’re pedantic about makeup – I know I am – you’ll appreciate that the similarities of the colours in the pans translate to the colours really only differing in their shifts. The Kat Von D palette has shade names and the Zoeva one has confusing codes, and while I’m sure they contain similar amounts of product, the pans in the Zoeva palette do look considerably larger. I will note that one shade in each palette has no directly similar shade, so the two palettes aren’t close enough to be called dupes, but they do have extremely close finishes on the skin. The things we need to look into are accessibility, quality and colour. Swatches, first and foremost. Confusingly, they are in reverse order to the above palette. I am nothing if not baffling at every turn.

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From top to bottom: Zoeva SP040, SP030, SP020, SP010 – Kat Von D Amethyst, Opal, Saphyre, Emerald

How nice would it be if I had a good camera and less hairy arms? The arm part is a joke. I shave my arms for no one.

With the KVD palette swatched on the lower portion of my forearm and the Zoeva palette on the upper, you can see the basic correspondence between certain shades. Emerald and SP010 are close, but I would say that SP010 has slightly more yellow/gold to it once applied. Likewise, Opal and SP030 are very alike in their soft duochromatic pink. The blue in the Zoeva palette, SP020, sits somewhere between Kat Von D’s blue and purple shades (Saphyre and Amethyst) – Saphyre, as a blue, is notably icier and leans more towards white, while SP020 brings some purple tones through. Amethyst is aggressively purple, but the base is not dark enough to warrant it not being more of a blush. SP040 has no direct dupe in the other palette, but it’s a pretty boring colour – it’s a white base with a yellow gold reflect. Nothing to get excited about there.

In formula, the two palettes are remarkably similar. Kat Von D’s powders are predictably smooth to swatch while Zoeva’s are always firmer, but they pick up the same with a fluffy brush. I use a Real Techniques Setting Brush for highlighting with these, because I get more of the interesting shift than I do with a fan brush, and I can build them up more easily. Kat Von D’s palette is explicitly marketed as multi-use, and it is beautiful layered over lipsticks or eyeshadows, but despite the lack of marketing there on Zoeva’s behalf, their powders work for that as well. Don’t take that as advice – I have no idea as to the, say, lip safety of the product – but I am saying that if you live somewhere that one brand is more accessible than another, I don’t see there being a real reason to pay extra or stress out over getting the other.  They both apply smoothly and have the same degree of translucency to pigment, and the only real difference in quality I can see is that the Zoeva palette requires a slightly firmer touch to build and wears for a slightly shorter amount of two.

That’s my main takeaway. Two palettes, both alike in concept, in fair Sephora where we lay our scene. If you’re a highlighting fiend, I would recommend either of the two over the BH Cosmetics palette, but that is definitely a more affordable and accessible option. Speaking of accessibility, I know Zoeva and Kat Von D are both brands with huge difficulties in access in different countries – Australia just happens to be one of the few where, excluding the markup, we can pretty easily get the two.

A lot of people opt not to buy Kat Von D, and I understand that – her past associations with Actual Neo Nazi Jesse James don’t sit well with me either, but for all of my struggles with the impossibility of ethical consumption under capitalism, I am at this stage not willing to judge women on gross men they once dated (I’ll cut her the same slack I cut Sandra Bullock). There is the problem with her being the face of and directly associated with her brand, so it’s the kind of situation I’m always monitoring because if anything comes out later, I could very easily become uncomfortable. It’s harder to disassociate a brand face being, say, anti-semitic than a distant CEO a la Revlon. Zoeva, on the other hand, is not a brand that would be appropriate for vegans and also just like…Europeans. The US-centrism of the online beauty world is consistently irritating to me.

So look: both palettes are really good, but you don’t need either of them. If I had to pick one? I’d probably pick the Kat Von D palette, because I prefer the purple shade to that yellow gold, and I like the softness of the formula. They’re lovely dusted over a complementary lipstick, or patted over darker shades of eyeshadow. Nice on the cupid’s bow or the cheekbones, under the brow or on the inner corner of your eye. It’s a fun change from your everyday boring highlighters in golds and rose golds and other kinds of gold. I wouldn’t buy them blindly, and if it was’t something I’d use a lot I would be perfectly content with the BH Cosmetics palette. Sadly, here I am with three highlight palettes, and I’m pretty happy. Live your life.