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.

June Empties and Reviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Return to normal programming.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marie Claire The Parcel Winter Edit – Unboxing and Review, for the last time

Say goodbye to the last subscription box standing. I’m making a lot of progress with regards to cutting down amassing products, even with my continued devotion to all the pretty new things, so it came at a fitting time. I was considering dropping my last subscription – it’s been up and down in terms of quality, but always felt more substantial than other boxes – so when they announced this would be the last box, I was okay with it. The less work I need to do, the better. Subscription boxes seem to have passed their use-by date in the hype sphere. People are becoming more and more aware of the pros and cons now that the “new and shiny” factor has worn off. It’s all fine by me. What I’m saying is: let’s examine the very last Marie Claire The Parcel, at least for now.

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If you’ve read any of my subscription box posts, you’ll immediately spot a pet peeve of mine (hint: it starts with A and smells like everyone’s grandmother) and you might notice a couple of repeats. For posterity, the one by one.

Revlon Uniq One Hair Treatment (150mL full size; RRP $29.95) – I have received this before! In a box with some more goddamn Avon and a fitness guide that made me really angry. I just reread that review and man, I was seething. This stuff smells like a salon and gives me awful flashbacks to my days sweeping hairdresser floors and washing hair for cash in hand. Naturally, I gave it to my sister. She’ll get this as well, but I’m pretty sure she had no strong feelings for it.

Klorane Mango Butter Shampoo (200mL full size; RRP $13.95) – When I was getting Bellaboxes, I’m pretty sure I got thirty tiny little bottles of this. I hadn’t tried this one, though it does smell lovely. In a weird turn of events, Marie Claire sent a full size conditioner from the brand back in December. A strange break there. I wasn’t a fan of that one – it smells odd, and it isn’t quite enough for my ultra tangled hair – but shampoos need less specificity and this one smells good, so I’ll probably use it at the very least.

The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Facial Mask (Sample sachet – full size is 75mL and RRP is $35) – This mask is the bane of my existence. Don’t get me wrong – it’s, by almost all accounts, a fantastic mask – but I can’t use it and people get wild over it, so much so that it will sell out for weeks and make my regular retail job way more of a pain than it should be. Good stuff if you’re very oily or very blemish-prone, but I absolutely would not recommend to those with sensitive skin. It’s got tea tree and menthol and charcoal and heavy manual exfoliation and it’s just…too much for my skin. I suppose most people go to masks for deep cleansing and charcoal is the ingredient of the minute, so a lot of people will be happy with this sample. So happy that they might not remember that we also received it in September.

QV Hand Cream (50g full size; RRP $6) – Thanks to subscription boxes and having worked in skincare since the tender age of 14, I have amassed more hand creams than I could ever possibly use. I do appreciate that this one contains SPF15+, though. My grandmother keeps booking us cruises together because she’s worked out that I’m an easy boring travel partner, and I feel like all additional SPF is welcome in that circumstance.

Nivea Cellular Anti Age Volume Filling Pearls (Sample sachet – full size is 30mL for $32.95) – I can’t find the box it was in, but I’ve definitely received a sample of the Q10 version of this in a box before. It was decidedly “eh”. I also remember this packaging being the worst.

The Jojoba Company 100% Natural Australia Jojoba (The full size is 30mL for $19.95; this is 15mL so just under $10) – This is nice. It’s an oil. It’s literally 100% jojoba oil, so $19.95 for 30mL seems pretty steep. Even at regular retailers, like a chemist, you can find cheaper reputable jojoba oils. Jojoba itself is a nice oil, because it isn’t overly thick and doesn’t clog the skin up like coconut oil would. I appreciate the total lack of scent and I will definitely use it, but if I’m paying more, I want to pay more for a more luxurious experience and this doesn’t seem to provide it. I do love oils for moisture, though. It’s definitely been a great asset in balancing my skin, now that it’s pretty firmly in the normal side of combination.

Avon True Color Perfectly Matte Lipsticks (RRP $19.99) – Even putting aside my feelings on Avon in subscription boxes (stop putting them in there), I got the colour “Electric Pink”, which is a typical candy yum yum bright pink clone. It is neither unique nor interesting to me. I feel like Avon has a place, but the place is not overcharging for mediocre product to capitalise on emotional manipulation or physical displacement, you know? I’ve definitely just had bad experiences.

Avon Magic Effects Matte Top Coat (Full Size 10mL; RRP $14.99) – Also, I don’t really wear nail polish. My friends do, though. One of them will probably love this.

La Roche-Posay Redermic C10 (Full size is 30mL for $69.95 – this is 5mL so a bit more than $11.50?) – Always keen to try a new Vitamin C serum! I’m just a skincare nerd and thankfully I’ve had generally good luck with La Roche-Posay as a brand on my skin. I’m always hit and miss with Vitamin C, so we’ll see.

Philosophy Purity Made Simple Cleanser (Full size is 480mL for $50, this is 30mL so just over $3) – I used to love this cleanser because it didn’t dry my skin out immediately, even though it stung my eyes and left me a little squeaky clean. I hadn’t yet learnt that I could afford to be a bit fussy with face wash. It isn’t my favourite cleanser, but it’s not the kind of awful that a lot of face washes are for me, so I’ll keep this for travel.

If that was the last Parcel, then that was it. It wasn’t an awful box, but I’ve been finding it hard to get excited about 90% of things I don’t actively seek out anyway. My favourite thing in the box is the La Roche-Posay serum, by far, because it’s something I wouldn’t have noticed in Priceline but have a genuine interest in. I know I’ll use and enjoy the little bottle of Purity, if only for nostalgia, and the jojoba oil, but I have a lot of oils to work through. I can’t get excited about products I’ll work through out of utility – hand cream, shampoo. Someone else will love the charcoal mask, at least.

Subscription boxes are fun, but they’re a luxury that I no longer need or get the joy I should out of. I’m totally okay with this one ending, but it’s been a good run. I actually have a lot of really complex thoughts about my current consumerism journey and why I haven’t been posting very much (and some much more academic thoughts about “Why It’s A Shame That Lolita Is Seen As A Controversial Name for A Lipstick Because It’s Connoted With a Text that Glamourises Pedophilia When Nabakov Writes Humbert As A Terrible Person And An Unreliable Narrator: Lolita as a text about discomfort but not sympathising with pedophiles and a lipstick name in honour of the text shouldn’t trigger such extensive debate and honestly please centre your Kat Von D arguments around other, far more substantial issues”, but that’s a whole different thesis), and I’d love to go into them, but I’m not sure I’d be able to articulate myself. Until then, probably more empties. Maybe some reviews if I can kick myself into gear. I’d also love to compare the Kat Von D Alchemist palette with the Zoeva Spring Spectrum Strobe palette, because I now own both of them for an assortment of reasons and even I’m curious as to how they go side by side.

 

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.

 

 

 

March Empties and Reviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bite Sized Five: Basics and Bases

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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