October Empties 2017

My plan was to delay the empties for another month, after the last couple of months having a light batch, but for some reason October was an explosive month of using stuff up. I was stressed and feeling overwhelmed by the amount of things in my possession. Rather than face a tidal wave next month, here’s one group out of the way.

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The Body Shop Calming Aloe Cream Cleanser – As I’ve mentioned before, this is the only cleanser I know I can trust. Sometimes I use other stuff, and it’s okay for a while, or it underwhelms me in some way. This cleanser has never broken my heart. Repurchase? Of course. Have done.

The Body Shop Vanilla Pumpkin Shower Gel – I had a weird relationship with this particular shower gel. The formula is the usual Body Shop formula which doesn’t freak my skin out, so that was fine. This scent though…Vanilla Pumpkin was a little too heavy on the pumpkin and too light on the vanilla/spice for me, and it had a weird anise note that my nose could not get past. Every time I showered, I was struck by how pumpkiny and savory it smelled. I didn’t care for it, basically. But then toward the end of the bottle, I was suddenly really into it. I liked smelling kind of like a garden? It was so different to the partnering hand cream, for example. Repurchase? Not this scent, probably. I’m fickle.

Sephora Collection Perfection Mist Airbrush Foundation – I bought this foundation about a year ago, mostly for the novelty. It had next to no coverage and never felt properly meshed with my skin. It was just a weird slippery layer above my face that got greasy very quickly. And then the nozzle broke, so. Repurchase? No

Sephora Collection Purifying Mattifying Mask – I have had this mask for ages and it’s never been my thing. It’s too much. It’s way too exfoliating and all it’s ever done is dry me out. Every time I’m breaking out, I think “I’ll try it again!” and still, no. Repurchase? No. I don’t think they make this one any more, either.

Swisse Manuka Honey Detoxifying Facial Mask – I like the way this mask felt, but it smelled absolutely atrocious. I am apparently really not into that raw honey smell, especially when mixed with the charcoal smell. It was a bit nauseating, honestly. And it has long, long gone off. Repurchase? No.

Physician’s Formula Eye Booster 2-in-1 Lash Boosting Eyeliner + Serum in Ultra Black – I wrote about this liner nearly a year ago? It started off decent in quality, but rather than drying out, become watery and streaky. Why didn’t I throw this out when it went bad? I have no idea. I didn’t even know where it was. Repurchase? No. I can’t use anything but the Kat Von D. I’m spoiled.

The Body Shop Lash Hero Mascara – Decent mascara, flakes a little under my eyes, but a good one for everyday natural-but-better lashes. Repurchase? Maybe?

Sukin Hydrating Facial Mask – I loved this mask, but it was too heavy for me to use very often. Made my skin really lovely and soft, though, and a nice change from the charcoal masks. Purchase? I got this in a subscription box, and it had expired (I finally started clearing stuff out), but I might purchase it one day.

La Roche Posay Anthelios XL SPF 50+ Fluid – I trust this sunscreen to go on my face and stop me from burning. It’s a new summer and it was time for this guy to get replaced, so a new bottle has been acquired. Once I find a sunscreen that doesn’t hit me with a rash, I am loyal as hell. Repurchase? Hell yes.

L’oreal Infalliable Mattifying Primer – Pretty standard silicone primer. Very good with certain foundations, very average with others. Totally and completely fine. Repurchase? No

NYX Angel Veil Primer – I loved this primer initially, but it definitely changed formula with age and got chunky. Nothing like the Hourglass Mineral Veil Primer people compare it to for the inclusion of “veil”, this is thick and smoothing without feeling ultra slippery and like smearing silicone on your face. Repurchase? Only if it comes to Australia or I was in America – I enjoyed it, but not enough to pay more than $26 to get it online.

Tarte Tarteist Clay Paint Liner in Copper – This came in a cute set last Christmas, and while it was gorgeous in colour and smooth in formula, I received one with busted packaging. It was usable – the product came out of the seam rather than from the cap – but it was a pain in the neck to store. I liked it a lot, but I don’t wear this kind of colour liner often enough on my days off. Repurchase? No

Tarte Lipsurgence Lip Tint in Fiery – This was my go to holiday lip when I first got it, and it’s finally reached the point of grossness and no return. It was a good introduction to lipstick, and one of the first I ever got truly into – it’s a tiny little flat stub. It smells obnoxiously like peppermint, but it was really hydrating and gave a good amount of colour while retaining sheerness. Repurchase? I am pretty sure these have been discontinued? But it would be a no, regardless. I have moved on.

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Miniso Soft Cotton Pads 180 Sheets – These are pretty excellent? They’re easier for me to get a hold of than my beloved Target Cotton Rounds, and just as soft. Repurchase? Sure

Tarte Amazonian Clay Foundation – Some samples of a product I have long, long, long used. I still really like this as a medium-high coverage foundation for lazy days, and it’s a good mixing medium for things that are too light in shade or too clingy, but it’s far too thick for me to feel like using it every day. Purchase? I don’t need any more of this.

Tarte Maracuja Oil – Not my favourite oil. Too greasy and it didn’t smell particularly nice. Purchase? No

Klair’s Midnight Blue Calming Cream – This one I actually liked! I used this on some nights when my skin was particularly dry and bumpy, and it felt soothing and lovely. Probably not rush-out-and-buy-it lovely, but I can imagine how nice it would feel on sunburnt skin. Purchase? Probably not

Kat Von D Lock It Tattoo Foundation and Primer – I wasn’t a fan of either of these. The foundation was the wrong colour, but the formula didn’t give me the coverage I wanted for such a thick and paint-like formula. Purchase? No

Tarte Lights Camera Lashes Mascara – Written about here. Lovely for natural, long, defined lashes but  not great for flakiness. A good layering product. Repurchase? Maybe one day, after all of my small mascaras are gone?

Malin + Goetz Vitamin E Face Moisturiser – I liked the smell of this cream, but it tingled a lot on my skin and I wasn’t game to try it beyond the initial patch test. I ended up using it on my chest, where it was fine. Purchase? No

Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Mask – I was wary of this based on product reviews, but it ended up being okay on my forehead and nose. Okay in that it didn’t hurt me, but it also didn’t really do anything. I have too many other masks I like. Purchase? No

Burberry Luminous Fluid Base – “Luminous” bases have never been my thing. I don’t like glowing in places I haven’t been intentional with the placement of said glow on. This was a nice enough product, but like many other illuminating base products, it just wasn’t for me. Purchase? What am I, made of money?

Commodity Fragrance in Mimosa – Fresh, a hint floral, a bit crisp. A good, solid summer smell with very little longevity but a nice throw. I have a huge selection of Commodity fragrances to try, and I don’t like this as much as Rain, but those are probably my favourites thus far. Purchase? No

The Body Shop Ginseng and Rice Toner – My favourite mask now has a matching toner? I don’t splurge on toners, but this is a beautiful one if I were going to. It smells like heaven and doesn’t leave behind any residue. Purchase? Maybe, should I ever run out of toner.

The Body Shop Green Tea Cleansing Hair Scrub – Nice to get junk out of your hair, but also really stubborn hair dye and bumpy clumps of scalp. I’ve been prepping my hair to go pastel, so I’m really working to pull out all of the blue that I can. Purchase? Maybe

Lush Buck’s Fizz Skin Conditioner – I liked this the most of all the Lush skin conditioners I have tried, but I was never a huge fan of Ro’s Argan or African Paradise. It makes my skin soft but thankfully not too slippery afterwards. Purchase? No

Fenty Beauty Foundation in 120 – My first impressions of this foundation are here. In the long run, some days it looked beautiful and other days it caught on to every bit of dryness it could find. The shade was too light and it honestly wasn’t as wonderful as I had hoped. Now the highlighters and glosses, on the other hand…Purchase? No

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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.

An Ordinary Review of The Ordinary Products

I delayed this a little bit and am going to blame the fact that I wanted to give a proper go to the Advanced Retinoid. In reality, life was being terrible. I’m working too much and university is hard when you’re a Sick GirlTM. Enough excuses! Let’s talk about the brand that everyone and their mother has already written about at length, far better than I ever will: The Ordinary.

When it first launched in Australia, I had a lot of thoughts about The Ordinary. It was at the online tipping point between hype and backlash, so the Powers That Be on who dictate what’s hot in skincare on reddit were roughly split on it. It was also not yet available at Priceline, so it was a tricky brand to get your hands on – my first two products were purchased at the Deciem store in Sydney. Deciem is one of those does-it-all-brands with about fifteen things under the umbrella, with everything from fairly well known product lines to the very weird (Hylamide has been available in Australia for a fair while and is roughly mid-range in the priceing scale; brands like inhibif sell products that are supposed to inhibit hair growth. That’s a bunch of stuff I am not touching). The Ordinary sits at the lower end price wise and sells a bunch of specific products aimed at incorporating into a routine to perform a specific function, be it as an AHA or a Hyaluronic Acid or a Vitamin C suspension. They’ve also more recently delved into colour cosmetics. Of course, you know all this. You’ve watched the good and bad videos on Youtube, you’ve read comprehensive overviews like this two-parter at Lab Muffin, which I love because she always goes into the nitty gritty skincare science.

There are lots of pros and cons to a brand like this. Because of the pricing, the products are simple but are also packed with some filler of varying quality, so your mileage may vary on efficacy. I also hate the cult like mindset that falls both for and against this range, and it’s definitely one of the brands that really cultivates that. I enjoy treating myself to skincare occasionally, and you aren’t getting luxury here, but if you want a workhorse there are some things here that feel really decent. I would like to re-emphasise: It’s very, very hit and miss. Do your research. Try things out where possible – the brand is now available at Myer and Priceline and some places have testers. They may be cheap, but cheap is only good if you’re going to use it. Of the four products here that I have tried, there are two that I adore or at least like and two that I am utterly ambivalent towards.

Let’s start with the product that has become indispensible to me – the High-Spreadability Fluid Primer is excellent. It’s incredibly slippery and very much on the liquid side of things, but for smoothing the texture of my skin without feeling thick and sticky, I’m yet to try anything similar. It absolutely won’t be for everyone. I’ve read a lot of complaints about it sliding off of people’s faces, and I might try their other primer come the warmer weather, but for the moment I have been absolutely in love with this one. Bar the packaging, that is. This dropper format for this formula is absolutely atrocious. It doesn’t drop and I just end up wiping the pipette on my hand.

I’ve never used a retinol or retinoid before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect with the Advanced Retinoid 2%. For someone with a bit of scarring and a whole bunch of texture to my skin, I knew that retinol was the hot thing on the market, but I wasn’t going to pretend to be knowledgeable about how it functioned. If you want to actually find that stuff out, please refer to someone with more education than myself. What I can tell you is that I was pleasantly surprised by this product. I experienced no peeling with it, which is always the horror associated with retinol type products. It’s gentle enough to use regularly and I didn’t find it excessively drying or uncomfrotable. Really the only discomfort comes from the fact that it smells vaguely like rubbing white wine on your face. It fit in nicely to a routine because it was quite light, and though I didn’t ntoice results particularly quickly, I do feel like continued use did positively impact my skin.

I’m on the fence with regards to the Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2%. I’ve used other treatments  with lactic acid before – like Sunday Riley’s Good Genes, and a few others. Good Genes worked wonderfully for me, but nothing has come close and my god, it’s unacceptably expensive. I wrote about The Ordinary’s option here, but since then I’ve got a bit lazy with it. I’ve been increasingly dissatisfied with the thickness of it, and I find that I break out if I use too much. I have to balance it out with other products carefully, and it’s more work than I want to do on my standard night. You also need to let it sit for a while, lest it become sit on the skin quite sticky. I do enjoy it as an affordable AHA, but if Good Genes didn’t cost $130 it would be the obvious choice for efficacy and feeling on the skin, despite all the bullshit marketing.

When it comes to the Niacinmide 10% + Zinc 1%, I don’t really have any feelings. Niacinamide is an ingredient commonly used for scarring and pigmentation, and for the ever elusive improvement of the appearance of pores. I don’t obsess over the size of my pores, because pores are just a part of being a human and we need them and the idea that skin should be smooth and poreless is so gross to me, but this product was the one everyone recommended for breakout prone skin so I gave it a go. It kind of just…didn’t do anything, even with extended use over the course of months. It seems like my skin doesn’t tend to get along with niacinamide in general, from my limited experience with this and Paula’s Choice and its presence in low levels in other products. I didn’t do a carefully monitored test with controlled variables on this product, but I was definitely breaking out more while I was using it. I have heard other people say that this is their single favourite product from The Ordinary, so like with all skincare, your mileage may vary.

 

I’m glad I’ve had my fix of The Ordinary. It’s definitely satisfied the curiosity that the endless internet hype and backlash cycle has seeded in me. It’s made me a lot more practical when browsing their products and certainly less likely to spontaneously order something online rather than waiting til it hits Australian shores. I’ve crossed a lot off of my to-try list – I’ve lost most of my interest in the Vitamin Cs of different kinds, for instance – but there are a few things I’m now a little more eager in my anticipation of: I’m very interested in the performance of the High Adherence Silicone Primer, not to mention their newer foundations that haven’t come to Australia yet. I might try my hand at the Retinol 1% once I’ve finished my 2%, just to see how my skin goes with it, and I’m very curious about their AHA+BHA 30 Minute peel even though I doubt my skin will tolerate it, because it will be in a price range I’m comfortable testing it out for.

Whenever a brand comes out with products surrounded by huge amounts of hype, be realistic. Consider what the brand is actually offering: single actives as opposed to products that encompass lots of different benefits, as opposed to extrapolated claims made by word of mouth, in this case. Consider what you’re paying for in both cheap and expensive cases; consider what the experience of a product is worth for you. For me, sometimes it is worth it for a product that spends a long time on my face to feel nice and smell lovely without irritating my skin, even if those additions come at a price hike. Try something new, but don’t try something unrealistic. I think that’s my new thing: realism in beauty. It’s harder than you’d think.

 

 

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.