An Ordinary Review of The Ordinary Products

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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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.

 

Bite-Sized Five for February – Absences, Apologies and Photos of My Face

You know when your mental health takes a dive, you revert to less-than-healthy coping mechanisms and then you find yourself crying on a bathroom floor for three days straight and you realise you need to get your meds fixed up and stop doing what you’re doing? And then you leave the state for a while to go hang out at sea and write poetry? And then you’re back but you’re focusing on burying yourself in work and pouring energy into relationships that make you feel happy and supported? No? Not much else I can say then. Mental health is a constant stream of ups and downs and the downs have been pretty prominent recently. Rough.

Let’s not focus on that, and instead focus on some products I have thoughts about!

L’oreal Pure Clay Detox + Brighten Mask – This mask is…wicked intense. I finished my old detoxifying mask, for the rare occasion when I need something deep cleansing, so I picked this up in the Priceline 40% off skincare sale. It’s also good for if I want to use a combination of masks – this on the chin, with something softer everywhere else. It’s way too intense for me for weekly use. It dries incredibly quickly and goes very stiff, and if I leave it on for a full ten minutes I start to feel a burn. But: like the classic, intensely overhyped glamglow, it does the very satisfying action of showing up darker on the pores, and it leaves your skin looking fresh and cleansed and definitely smooth. I do feel like I have to use a lot of product to get a very thin layer, because it dries so quickly, so I imagine this will be finished quickly.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Eyeshadow Palette – I held off on buying this palette for so long. I was so good. But just look at it.

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It is absolutely stunning. If you don’t do a lot of warm toned looks, then it is definitely not worth it, but those are my bread and butter. The shadows are incredibly soft, and do kick up quite a bit of powder – I can see how people are panning shades – but they blend beautifully and don’t feel powdery or chalky on my eyelids, even without a primer. The brush is great quality, and I can do a pretty solid quick look using just that brush if I’m on the go, which is a great post-work quality to have for me (likewise, the mirror is top notch). The only shadow I have not really played with is Golden Ochre, because that yellow tone of neutral tends to look a bit sickly on me if not paired with very specific shades, but I don’t mind that as a trade off. My favourites are definitely the red shades, which are so hard to do well – Love Letter, Venetian Red and Red Ochre – Venetian red has some pink tones and some shimmer while Love Letter is truer red, as to Red Ochre which is browned and deep and good for adding depth. I also love the oranges, Burnt Orange and Realgar, and the neutrals-with-a-twist like Buon Fresco. Vermeer is one of the most gorgeous inner corner highlight shades I’ve ever used. Everything is capable of being really powerful, or playing subtle and toned down.

Will it be as much of a workhorse as my Kat Von D Shade and Light Eye palette? Probably not. That palette renders the most out there of shades usable for me. Where this does win out is by being one of the most forgiving palettes I’ve ever worked with, and by being one that I can open up and get excited by. If only the packaging wasn’t damn suede textured. This is going to get so grotty, I can already tell.

I’m wearing some shadows from this palette today along with the mascara and concealer in this Bite Sized Five, so I’ll put a photo at the bottom with a note on which shades I used.

Benefit They’re Real Mascara – This mascara has lost some of its steam in the beauty community over the past couple of years, but it was once the mascara to end all mascaras if you asked around. I mentioned this in my USA Haul, and I have already finished the tube of Roller Lash which will be in my empties (January and February have see many long standing minis of mascara meet their ends – a little spoiler is that I actually really enjoyed Benefit’s Roller Lash and while it didn’t blow me away, it was one of the nicer mascaras I’ve used for definition and curl). Common complaints with this mascara are that the brush is HUGE and SPIKY and VERY DANGEROUS, which I can absolutely confirm; can make lashes look spidery and prone to clumping, also very true; is atrocious to take off. Case in point:

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Post lashings of Bioderma and my usual makeup removing cleanser, usually a fine combo on mascara – thanks They’re Real, I guess.

Still, as you’ll see where I’ve used it below, when it’s used sparingly and with great caution to avoid eye-stabbing, it’s quite lovely. It’s way too much work for everyday, but I understand why it garnered so much affection. I have since tried it with the designated They’re Real Remover, but I think I’ll stick to oil.

Tarte Shape Tape Concealer in Light – Now admittedly, I picked this shade based on…almost entirely guesswork, and it is well and truly too light for me to use on blemishes while I’m at my darkest. I definitely recommend looking up swatches for this. Swatches are even more important if you do what I did and impulse buy this off the tarte website when they have a free international shipping promotion. It is still perfect for under my eyes, and workable for blemishes blended under a concealer. And let me say – this concealer is getting some ridiculous levels of hype. People are putting it at holy grail status. I’m not so quick to make final judgements, but I will say that it is extremely concentrated and creamy with coverage out of its ears. Really, other than the colour range, my main faults with this are the applicator and the scent. The applicator is overly huge and I always just end up dabbing it on with my fingers, and the scent is intense. It’s fake and floral and it lingers for a good few seconds after application.  But this, unlike the mascara, is something I’m willing to work with daily. It’s easy to blend and although creasing isn’t a major problem for me, I don’t have any problems with it. I’m almost tempted to get it in another colour next time tarte have free shipping.

Sunday Riley Luna Night Oil – Another much raved about item, I got this half-sized bottle in a set with the Good Genes treatment. I loved Good Genes, and it will be in my Jan/Feb empties. Luna? Not so much my thing. Admittedly, it’s not targeted at people with my skin type. I am very much combination, and while I get dry in the winter, in summer I can be a sweaty, oily mess. I’m prone to breakouts regardless of oiliness to dryness, and I’m not really that worried about aging yet (at the ripe old age of 21). I do really enjoy oils, though, and this is well reviewed, so I’m glad I got to give this a go. That said, it hasn’t wowed me too much. I’ll keep using it, and I’ll probably prefer it in winter when I go back to dry, itchy Sara skin. It doesn’t break me out, but it is pretty heavily scented and full of extracts that I’m not fussed on. If I had to choose, though, I would have just invested in Good Genes and skipped this guy. In Australia, I can’t bring myself to drop the money on either of them.That’s the honest opinion. In the US, it felt manageable – waiting for a Sephora sale, using a voucher, being a smart shopper. Here, Good Genes is about $150. I don’t think it’s $150 worth of results.

As for the makeup I did with some subtle Modern Renaissance, a frustrating coating of They’re Real and Tarte Shape Tape:

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I’m also wearing Sugarpill’s Trinket on my lips – I’m planning on writing about it at length in my next Recent Lipstick Wrap Up – over Urban Decay Deep lipliner, which gives the liquid lipstick a much more nude look. I love how the gold comes out over the course of wear. I’ve also got the It Cosmetics Brow pencil on, and the Physician’s Formula Butter Bronzer for some warmth. I only used neutral shades from the ABH palette to stay basic for my day off, laid down some Warm Taupe with Cyprus Umber for depth and then Primavera for lightness on the bulk of the lid. I need a better camera. My skin is great at the moment (hallelujah), so I didn’t have a lot to conceal, but the few things that were bothering me are pretty well covered.

And that’s that!

November/December Empties (Or: Too Much Junk)

I was away over the end of November and so this stack of garbage built up and my god, there’s a lot. I’m also in a pretty rubbish mood because New Year’s Eve is famously a trash night designed to be filled with disappointment and make me feel inferior, so let’s get this show on the road. Yikes.

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Aveeno Skin Relief Moisturising Cream (Skin Cooling Effect) – This big tub lasted for an extraordinarily long time, because it’s mainly a cream I use when my skin is irritated in warmer weather. The cooling effect is quite nice, not too extreme, but definitely noticeable. It’s great when I’m amidst heat rash or other kinds of grossness. Repurchase? Maybe, when I have a few less moisturisers

Lush Bubbly Shower Gel – There’s usually one Christmas shower gel from Lush that I really gravitate towards (RIP Glogg, Hot Toddy, Ponche), but this year I was kind of underwhelmed. I also am starting to find the formula more and more drying? Maybe my skin is getting used to the time off. I bought Bubbly just to get it, and it was way too one-note for me, just straight up citrus. Also, Lush shower gels are…not cheap. I’ll still buy limited editions, but I’d rather they just brought back Glogg. Repurchase? No.

Bath and Body Works Pretty as a Peach Foaming Scrub – Loved the formula of this, am kind of hooked and wish I bought more because I feel like it’s really easy to go through quickly, which was a major downside. It’s also not super intense, and I do feel like I need a bit more sometimes. I wasn’t a huge fan of the scent – the peach was a bit perfumey – but I like the way it foamed and spread and exfoliated. Repurchase? In other scents, if the only Bath and Body Works wasn’t at the airport.

Bath and Body Works Frosted Coconut Snowball Shower Gel – I needed a little shower gel for Hawaii and this was the summeriest Christmas smell I’d ever come across. It’s a really lovely one and I’m definitely a fan. The bottle also lasted for a decent amount of time. Repurchase? If it were available to me in full size easily and I ever needed shower gel, sure.

Herbal Essences Moroccan My Shine Conditioner – I have no comments on this conditioner, which was fine and worked for travel. My hair eats up shampoo and conditioner, it turns out. Repurchase? Not particularly

OGX Coconut Milk Shampoo and Conditioner – These were also fine and worked okay, but I similarly went through them very quickly in Hawaii where I was washing my hair very frequently. On the bright side, these smelt amazing. Repurchase? Maybe for shorter, less swimmy travel stints.

Bath and Body Works True Blue Mini Foot Butter – Needed some foot cream abroad, where my feet were garbage and dry and gross. This worked fine, nothing spectacular. Smelt nice. Repurchase? If it was necessary and the nearest available foot cream

Dermal Heel Balm Platinum – Another mini foot cream. I swear I have normal feet. This was from a subscription, and it was actually pretty good. I preferred this to the B&BW one. Still not a miracle worker for travel torn feet, but good. Purchase? Maybe

Ouai Treatment Masque – From the Sephora Favourites box of hair treatments, because my hair was another thing that took a real beating from sun and sea water and constant washing. This one was pretty nice, not my favourite that I used, but it smelt good and my hair felt soft afterwards. Purchase? No

Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Daily Cleansing Pads – My skin just doesn’t like glycolic acid, it seems. This, pixi glow tonic, Paula’s Choice AHA…it’s just a recipe for breakouts, regardless of how consistently I use them. This was the closest we got to decent. Still, not a step I feel like my skin needs. Purchase? No

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Bobbi Brown Smoky Eye Mascara – Wasn’t a huge fan of this one. It tended to flake a bit on me after a few hours, and it didn’t do anything of exception to my lashes. Purchase? No

Hourglass Mineral Veil Primer – I was not a fan of the sample of this primer I tried long ago, but my decision to splurge on a travel size to take overseas with me was such a a good move and a different experience. I guess now my skin is less congested and covered in breakouts, I appreciate something that just smoothes the skin and boosts foundation. I don’t need the same leveling from a very siliconey primer that I do when I’m going for a full base and when breakouts are bad. Repurchase? Maybe, but I don’t know if I could bring myself to do the full size!

Kat Von D Tattoo Liner in Trooper – I’ve said this a million times, but I love this liner more than any other liner I’ve used. The Physician’s Formula one can’t hold a candle, the Stila one flakes right off – until the day someone else has a brush tip this precise with a formula this black and longlasting, I’ll be using this liner. It’s $30 in Australia, which pisses me off, but mine last for months. I picked up a replacement in a Sephora Favourites set in the US. Repurchase? Obviously.

Rimmel Colour Precise White – This liner dried out after one use. Get absolutely wrecked. Repurchase? Go to hell.

Giorgio Armani Lasting Silk Foundation – Such a good lightweight foundation for medium coverage, easy makeup days. So expensive, such a splurge, and really not a neccessity but…Purchase? If you can justify it? Sure. I bought it for $45USD on a fluke and I do not regret it at all.

Mac Pro Longwear Waterproof Foundation – This stuff sucks on my skin. It never sets and feels sticky and gross and looks inorganic and weird. Purchase? No

This Works Deep Sleep Plus Pillow Spray – This stuff was a little too strong, but I like having something soothing to spray on my pillow before I go to sleep, and the scent blend here is definitely soothing. I prefer the original version, which I’m using right now, because it’s less  intense. Repurchase? Not this version

Sunday Riley Good Genes – This stuff doesn’t smell great and logically, it’s not the most amazing based on ingredients, but my skin is really loves it. Purchase? Already have.

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Simple Kind to Skin Cleansing Wipes – These are the cleansing wipes that I use when I use wipes, and they are good. They don’t hurt and they get stuff off, though I need extra to get off heavy duty eye makeup and I would avoid overusing makeup wipes where possible because they rarely get it all off. Repurchase? Always

Lush Fireside Soap – Where I hated the last Lush Christmas soap I had, this one smells much more my style. Very spicy, wintery, clovey. I love it. I don’t use these soaps for much other than my hands, but my family complain that they don’t lather much. Repurchase? Probably

Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Balm-to-Oil Pre-Shampoo Masque – Really liked how this one from the Sephora set made my hair feel, but it was a pain to use and difficult to saturate my hair with, considering how much hair I have. Purchase? No

Those are just some cotton rounds from rite aid and I didn’t like them at all, one side didn’t absorb any product and the other was “exfoliating” but actually crap.

Daiso Cotton Puff – I liked these but I went through them pretty quickly. You get 180 for about $2.80, though, which is a great price. Repurchase? Sure

CLab &  Co Coffee Scrub with Coconut – I actually really liked this, in spite of the coffee smell – I hate coffee. That said, it made my skin really smooth. It was incredibly messy, though, which was irritating – because it has no real oil base to it or any kind of viscosity, it just falls around everywhere. Purchase? No, but I did enjoy it.

And now, Body Shop stuff. Yeah.

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The Body Shop Aloe Vera Calming Cream Cleanser – This is my go to cleanser, and I’ve been using it for years. I go through it quicker now, because my sister has decided that she loves it as well. It’s non irritating, doesn’t dry out my skin (I use it in the shower, even though it’s designed to be used on dry skin), doesn’t sting my eyes. I use a more intense cleanser if I’m following up an oil makeup remover to double cleanse, but this is my everyday go to. Repurchase? Constantly.

The Body Shop Papaya Shower Gel – A really lovely summery smell. Some places still have it in their sale stock, and while it isn’t my favourite Body Shop smell of all time, it’s definitely a great one. Repurchase? If it comes around again as a limited edition, sure.

The Body Shop Vitamin E Moisture Cream (sample) – This stuff is fine, but I just so much prefer the aloe vera creams. They’re much more soothing. My absolute moisturiser is the Drops of Youth moisturiser, weirdly, which I also finished a tub of but forget to take a photo of – much lighter, but still as moisturising and makes my skin look lovely and feel great. Purchase? No

The Body Shop Tea Tree Facial Wash (sample) – This used to be my jam as a young teenager, but it’s way too intense for me now. Just dries me out. It was nostalgic to revisit it, though. Purchase? No

The Body Shop Fresh Nude Foundation in 024 Hawaiian Macadamia – Man, look at this beat up foundation.  I thought I was developing a form of stockholm syndrome for it when I started to wear it all the time, but it turns out my preferences in foundation have just changed quite a lot in the second half of this year. I really like how natural this is, with medium coverage and a really natural weardown over the day. Repurchase? I already have a new bottle on the go.

The Body Shop Moisture Foundation in 06 – This is too dark except in summer, but it’s also a formula that my skin hates. It looks so good on so many people, but on me or on people who – in my experience applying it – have any kind of combination, flakiness or oiliness to their skin, it picks up on those things and amplifies them. I also find that instead of wearing down naturally, it gets patchy and cakes over the course of the day. Repurchase? No

The Body Shop Calming Aloe Toner – Even this tiny bottle – no longer available – took several holidays and hospital stays to finish up. It’s a good toner, very basic but soothing. Nice after a non-cream cleanser especially. Repurchase? Can’t get this size any more, but I have a bottle on the go and a backup ready. After that I’ve got a Muji generic toner to try out, which is super affordable and in a huge bottle that would enable me to not buy for months. If that works for me, it would be nice.

The Body Shop Vanilla Chai Shower Gel – This smell from Christmas is incredible, and naturally it sold out almost immediately. If you can find any of this in the remains of the boxing day sale stuff, I’d definitely recommend picking it up, because it smells flat out like a vanilla chai latte and I am the whitest girl that ever did live. I did manage to snag a full size of this, which I’m excited to use up later on in the year. Repurchase? Hey Body Shop, listen to the sales statistics, bring back Vanilla Chai.

The Body Shop Super Volume Mascara – My go to work mascara, does the volume and the curl for me. A little clumpier than some others, like the Divide & Lengthen, but I like the volume and I’ve been enjoying layering it with Benefit’s Roller Lash for separation. Repurchase? Have done.

The Body Shop Skinny Felt Tip Liner – Nice for filling in the line and for day to day stuff, but I wish it was a little more flexible and god, I love brush tips for the wing. I’m so spoilt by the Kat Von D tattoo liner. I still use this liner for everyday stuff, but it dries out quite quickly and it could be blacker and easier to work with, despite being better than a lot of the options I’ve tried. Repurchase? Have done.

Alright! Now I’m off to go and wallow in some misery and loneliness and maybe put some more turquoise in my hair so that my laziness induced regrowth looks more like an intentional balyage.

 

Bite Sized Five – September (new and new-to-me product reviews)

Other than lipsticks, I haven’t been trying out a whole lot of new things recently. I’ve been (drum roll) pretty sick, blah blah family problems, blah blah studying and working, and also just really trying to make the most out of what I already have rather than buying more stuff. Again, that’s with the exception of lipsticks. I’ve got a few things to talk about lipstick wise (Urban Decay Vice lipsticks! New Pretty Zombie Cosmetics Liquid lipsticks that I bought when I was heavily out of it on painkillers in hospital!).

I also could very easily have done a monthly round up of Body Shop products. As I’ve stated numerous times, I’m in retail, I work there, and it’s nice working somewhere that you actually like and use the products of. I tend to only talk about things if they’re huge hits or ridiculous fails (which does happen), and I tend to sample almost everything so my monthly empties tend to sum up most of the latest launches, but while I try not to overload these posts with that shit, there are actually two things I’m currently genuinely excited about. Like, would have bought full price as a normal customer excited. Like, one of them I bought three backups of excited. There are also some other things here that I’ve recently acquired, whether by purchasing them or by them just somehow ending up in my lap, but they felt worthy of discussion. Let’s dive in.

The Body Shop Piñita Colada Shower Gel – I put the shower gel here because I am a noted shower gel enthusiast and also because, as I mentioned, I bought three of these bad boys and I’m still not sure I have enough (three mojito shower gels didn’t feel like enough). Really, though, this is here for the scent. I also picked up the body butter, and I had zero intention of doing that. None. Do you know how many body butters you acquire when you work at The Body Shop? It’s a genuine epidemic. I had every plan on resisting this one in spite of the smell, but when I felt the texture – lightweight and springy, almost velvety, a la the Japanese Camellia Cream, I was sold. The shower gels were a no brainer. My mother loves coconut and I love pineapple, and we’re both thrilled that it’s not too heavy on the coconut so as to be cloying. Plus I’ve never had issues with TBS shower gels drying out my skin, and I’m not just saying that – Lush shower creams are my worst enemy, for example. Just check out the smell. Pop into a store and slather some on while it’s here. Grab a sample. It really is the perfect summery smell, not too heavy, not too sweet. I almost prefer it to Virgin Mojito. Almost.

The Body Shop Chinese Ginseng and Rice Clarifying Polishing Face Mask – I reviewed most of the new mask range back in my July empties, and I honestly wasn’t a huge fan of any of them. There was a lot of like-but-not-love going on (and in the case of the Himalayan Charcoal, which is coincidentally the most popular mask of the range in the Australian market, downright NOPE for me). I warmed up to the Acai berry one and I thought I might start to convince myself to gain enthusiasm for it, and then I finally tried the Ginseng and Rice mask. The next day, no kidding, my skin looked so damn good. I thought it might be a fluke, tried it again, and it turns out this mask is just the perfect match for my skin. It’s a clay mask, so it’s good for my blemishes, but it’s not a harsh stripping clay like the Himalayan Charcoal – it’s got rosehip oil and it dries almost soft, so you get the deep cleanse feeling but not to the same extent. It’s quite intense in its exfoliation, but with gentle little granules, and that’s lovely to someone like me who can’t handle our most popular exfoliation products and found two of the other masks to border on too exfoliating (acai and charcoal). I’m delicate. It’s also got a nice low but present level of salicylic acid and is overall just damn nice. It is permanent, so even though it’s sold out almost everywhere, it will be back eventually.

Paula’s Choice Resist Daily Smoothing Treatment with 5% AHA – And over to something I have slightly less glowing thoughts about, sadly.   I have had great success with and really do enjoy the 2% BHA liquid, and a lot of people spoke about alternating their AHA and BHAs, so on a whim I thought I’d plunge in to the full size and try this out. Maybe I just tried this at the wrong time for my skin, but the three week period I was using this  with no other new additions was some of the downright worst my skin has been in a long time, just really broken out which is not usually how it goes in winter weather. I might give this a go at a later stage but I’m super wary of it.

em. Cosmetics The Great Cover Up Concealer in Light Neutral/Cool – I got this in my last Bellabox, but I thought I’d throw it in here to update you on how it actually works and my thoughts on it as a concealer. I’m notoriously quite fussy with concealers, and incredibly nonplussed by most of the major players (Mac Prolongwear? Eh. Estee Lauder Doublewear? Eh. Maybelline FitMe? Eh. Nars RCC? EH. The list is lengthy). I am surprised by how much I am enjoying this, especially given my hesitance towards em. Cosmetics as a brand. It’s definitely a creamier consistency, and reminds me of a higher coverage version of something like the Maybelline Superstay Better Skin, or perhaps an easier to blend version of the It Cosmetics Bye Bye Undereye. It isn’t quite up to the job with severe raised blemishes which require a more tacky, solid concealer a la Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage or NYX’s Full Coverage Concealer in the little pot, but other than that it works well on blemishes, spot concealing, redness and under the eyes if you aren’t going for the instagram concealer highlight. The shade is nearly ideal for me, and will be perfect in summer – right now it’s a tiny smidgen too dark – and I appreciate the inclusion of undertones. I’ll definitely continue to use this, and it’s a product I would consider keeping in my regular rotation were it not so difficult to track down (perhaps I could cash in some of my hundreds of bellabox points).

Tarte Tarteist Lip Crayon in Latergram (deluxe sample) – I feel like every review of this range of liquid lipsticks and matching liners briefly mentions that they’re setting aside the cringe inducing names and you know what, let’s actually all take a few moments to fully embrace the cringe. Imagine, if you will, a slideshow with the names appearing on screen. Yaassss. Manbun. Bae. Twerk. On Fleek. I’m standing next to the screen. I’m staring at you, shaking my head. A single tear rolls down my cheek. We’re in this together. Right, so Latergram is a pretty classic mauve with some dusty, brick type tones to it. It’s pretty basic and I would swatch it but my lips are covered in Pretty Zombie Cosmetics Transylvania and that shit is not going anywhere – and this is not a swatch post. I thought “hey, what could go wrong? It’s a lip liner in a pretty colour!” Yikes. These lip crayons, while being self sharpening – nice – are so damn dry and draggy on the lips. Even my traditional shove-it-in-the-bra-for-five-minutes doesn’t resolve the dragging problem, and believe me, my lips are in impeccable shape. I thought my NYX retractable liners took a bit of work, but this is next level. Put simply, these are not worth it. The matte lip paints themselves are tolerable if you’re a fan of mousse formulas, but unless they reformulate these liners, there are so much better options available at so much cheaper prices (my favourites are NYX for colour range, Essence for price, The Body Shop for comfort/creaminess, Urban Decay for something that feels fancier).

Five things! Hope those were worthwhile thoughts. Share yours! Tell me about other things! I’ll be commencing work on one of those lipstick posts, but which? Who knows. I’m also going to America just before Christmas, land of reasonably priced makeup and wonderful holiday releases, so I need to start making a list and checking it several times. Variety is the spice of life.