Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Hawaii Haul

Long time no see! Sorry everyone, real life and all that. Mostly good things though, I might do a life update type post soon but for now I have a haul! I spent a week in Hawaii on a family holiday at the end of October and naturally I paid a few visits to Sephora while I was there. Between Mecca and Sephora these days there aren't a lot of brands that we're still deprived of in Australia - it's really just the holiday sets and minis where we miss out, so you'll notice that most of what I bought in Hawaii falls into one of those categories. Plus there are still a couple of brands (MAC) that unfairly jack up the prices so buying them in the US is a lot cheaper even with the crappy exchange rate at the moment. I realise this is a LOT of stuff, but I went a couple of weeks after my birthday so I had some spending money and wanted to treat myself, plus it's always nice to get things while you're on holiday so they remind you of being away. I did actually pick up a few more things from the drugstore that aren't pictured because I knew this post was going to be long enough already, and of course I bought myself some seasonal candles from Bath & Body Works which I was pretty excited about, but here is almost everything I bought and what I think of it so far.

I haven't used a MAC foundation since I started getting properly into makeup a few years ago, but after seeing some good reviews and subsequently trying a sample of the MAC Pro-Longwear Nourishing Waterproof Foundation I was sold. It's really long lasting, doesn't look heavy or cakey or obvious on the skin and like all MAC foundations it comes in a huge range of shades. I'm not sure how well it works for dry skin but I really like it on my oily skin and it doesn't break up or look ridiculous by the end of the day. I was also curious to try the Maybelline Fit Me Matte & Poreless Foundation. Back when the original Fit Me foundation was launched I got sucked into the hype and tried it out and it really didn't work for me because it's such a dewy foundation and it just didn't have the lasting power I need. I wasn't really that interested in the new formula to begin with but enough people talked about it and drugstore products are so cheap in the US, I thought it was worth a try, and I'm actually really surprised by how natural and skin-like this foundation is. It's not the most long-lasting product I've ever tried but it's a LOT better than the original formula and I'm glad I took a chance on it. Also despite the name it's not particularly matte, which is fine with me because I prefer a satin finish because it tends to look a lot more natural anyway.

After hearing about the Bobbi Brown Corrector for literally years, I finally bit the bullet and picked it up. Although no makeup product can help with puffiness under the eyes I find this does a really good job at helping counteract dark circles and I really like using this underneath another concealer like the YSL Touche Eclat or one with a bit more coverage if I feel like I need it. I was also concerned that given it's a poured product in a pan that it would be too heavy under the eyes but because of the really creamy formula it blends seamlessly. At Tenneil's repeated suggestion I also picked up the MAC Mineralise Skinfinish Natural in Light because I've heard from her and from lots of other people that it's a really nice, lightweight powder that helps control oil and gives a skin-like finish, which is exactly what I look for in a powder. I need to test it out a bit more when it comes to oil control but I do love the finish of it and I'm really glad I got my hands on it. And the exact same goes for the Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder which came in an awesome mini size at Sephora. Considering I'm not in love with loose powders and this isn't a cheap one at that, I was really happy to see there was a mini available. I've heard people with all different skin types rave about this powder and I'm looking forward to playing around with it a bit more to see if it lives up to the hype.

Speaking of minis, Sephora also had a mini liquid Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Moonstone, which I was so happy about. Because of my oily skin I'm not really one for mixing liquid illuminator type products in with my foundation, but I absolutely love how this looks tapped on the tops of my cheekbones, and there's zero chance I'd ever get through a full size using it that way. These Becca liquid highlighters have SUCH a beautiful finish - they're not glittery or sparkly at all, they just give the prettiest, almost wet-looking glow to the skin, it's hard to describe but I love it and it definitely lives up to the hype. And even though I have enough blush to last me until the day I die, I really wanted to pick up one of the Milani Rose Blushes because I love their baked formula and the design of this product is so pretty - I got the shade Tea Rose and I absolutely love it.

I may have gone a little HAM buying myself 3 palettes but it was my birthday and I love them all! It's about time I picked up the original Naked Palette - back in the day I was deciding between it and the Naked 2, which is the one I ended up going with at the time, but I'm so glad I finally got my hands on this one too. Everything that could ever be said about this palette has already been said but it's beautiful and an essential and I had to own it eventually. I was really intrigued by the Laura Mercier Eye Artist's Palette, I hadn't tried a lot from the brand but all the colours in the palette are beautiful and there's a decent mixture of mattes and shimmers and it really appealed to me. The original Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palette is one of my absolute favourites and I wasn't overly excited about the Semi-Sweet Palette when it first launched because it has a lot of really warm shades in it, but eventually it grew on me. I think the original is let down a little by not having enough crease shades (there are a few but not many) but the semi-sweet has a bunch and I'm really glad I picked it up. I also bought three matte MAC shadows to finish off my palette which were Omega, Wedge & Soft Brown. Not pictured are the two empty double MAC palettes I picked up to use for depotted shadows and Makeup Geek - I don't really understand why people pay so much for Z-Palettes when the MAC palettes, single or double, are just $8US except of course if you live in Australia where the double palettes are inexplicably marked up to $42???

One thing I was STOKED about and hunted high and low for was the Sephora Favourites Give Me More Lip set (currently out of stock on I bought the 2014 version last year and was so excited about this 2015 version. There are about 5 products I've given away because they're not really for me, but $59 for 10 full size and mini lip products is still totally worth it to me. My favourites from the set are the (full size) Urban Decay & NARS Lipsticks, and the mini YSL lipstick and Fresh Sugar lip balm. Fresh brought out so many different sets of lip balms with combinations of different colours this year, but the one that appealed to me most was the Lip Party Favours (out of stock) with four tinted balms and a sugar scrub. I'd been using the Lush Popcorn lip scrub for a while but I was in need of a new one and the Fresh one is really nice, and of course the formula of the balms is gorgeous. I also was lucky enough to pick up my Sephora birthday gift while I was there which was two NARS lip pencils and a black eyeliner because I hit VIB Rouge in 2014 and it carried over into 2015.

Minis Sets
There weren't really any holiday palettes this year that did it for me, but I was really excited about some of Too Faced's mini sets. I picked up the Beautifully Blushed & Bronzed set (out of stock) with two completely adorable mini Love Flush blushes and two mini bronzers. I don't use bronzer but I really enjoy the Chocolate Soleil Bronzer as a matte crease shade, and the kabuki brush that came in the set is actually really nice and soft. I also bought the Too Faced Most Loved set because I think it's great value for $25 and I'm really keen to try out the Hangover RX Primer and the Better Than Sex mascara.

Skincare & Other
A drugstore item that is pictured is the L'Oreal Brow Artist Plumper which everyone has been raving about. I'm still using my current brow gels so I haven't started on this one yet, but I'm expecting big things, and I also bought a cake batter flavoured Chapstick because it was $1 and the concept is wonderful. One thing I had to repurchase was the Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray which I think actually does work and helps your makeup last longer. It's not cheap but I'm almost finished with my mini size and I love it for nights out and special occasions. One of my favourite foundation brushes is the Sephora Pro #45 Brush and when I saw they brought out a mini rose gold version called the #45.5 I had to buy it because it's great for travel and it's adorable! I also got a bunch of the Living Proof Perfect Hair Day 5-in-1 Styling Treatment 100 point perks because I hear great things about the brand and I was really curious to try it out.

I'm very much still in "use what I've got" mode with skincare so there wasn't a lot that I needed or wanted to pick up, but I did get a mini of the Boscia Makeup Breakup Cleansing Oil which I'm yet to try, and I got two of the Kate Somerville ExfoliKate minis as 100 point perks, and that is a SERIOUS exfoliation, let me tell you. Two that aren't pictured are the Clinique Acne Solutions Clinical Clearing Gel which I had a tiny little sample of that still lasted me for months and I found it really effective. It's pretty much your standard salicylic acid spot treatment but since it worked for me I wanted to pick up the full size. I also bought the Clinique Mild Clarifying Lotion - normally I wouldn't touch a Clinique toner with a ten foot pole but the mild version is meant to be an effective BHA exfoliant and alcohol denat isn't the second ingredient like it is with all their other toners. I've not tried it yet but it's only $14USD for a full size bottle so I thought it was worth picking up. So I managed to tick off a LOT of stuff on my wishlist and I've got lots of new things to play with that have been keeping me busy lately - let me know if you've tried any of these products and what you think of them!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

California: LA, San Francisco & Big Sur


Getting out of my airport shuttle and seeing my friend from home, Caitlin, waiting for me and running towards each other to hug, visiting the Elliott Smith wall and Charles Bukowski's bungalow, speculoos cookie butter and pumpkin toaster pastries from Trader Joe's, Amoeba Records, all you can eat Tacos for $5, appreciating the many beards in baseball, Caitlin's first trip to Disneyland (and my third Disneyland of my holiday), the Halloween themed Haunted House and Space Mountain rides and all the Halloween decorations around the park, staying to watch the 7pm parade because Caitlin had always wanted to see it, pick & mix lollies from Dylan's candy bar, Santa Monica pier, hiring bikes and riding around Venice Beach, pancakes and a chai milkshake for dinner with the lovely miss Valerie at the 101 Coffee Shop!


Thursday, October 08, 2015

Top 5 Powders

It's a little tricky to make a photo of five circles look pretty, but I tried. Continuing on with my Top 5 series, as you may have guessed, these are my top 5 powders. Now I expect a lot from powders, I've got oily skin and need a powder to pull its weight when it comes to oil control without making my skin look horrible and cakey. In my pre-beauty obsessed days the powder I relied on was MAC's Studio Fix which is actually a powder foundation so it has a decent amount of coverage. Good if your makeup tends to wear away throughout the day, but it doesn't really offer the natural, skin-like finish that I'm after these days.

I don't mean to talk down a product that works really well for a lot of people, but a huge priority for me when it comes to makeup is to look like I'm not wearing very much of it. I know that's a bit silly to say considering I wear liquid liner and red lipstick everyday, but what I mean is that my personal preference is to look like I just have really good skin rather than looking flawless but it being obvious that I'm wearing a lot of makeup to get that look.

Powder is one of the biggest offenders when it comes to makeup looking obvious because certain types will sit on top of the skin and look very heavy, and when they mix with your skin's oils over time they become really cakey and I hate the look and the feel of it on my face. It's the bane of the oily-skinned girl's life to try and get the right balance between shininess and the dreaded cake-face. But these five powders work really well for me - if I want to get through a whole day without touching up at all it's got to be the right combination of primer, foundation and powder but these are the ones I reach for most often because they offer decent oil control, are really lightweight and you can reapply them later in the day without too much product building up.

I've done a bit of research on cosmetic ingredients to try to get an idea of why some help control oil and others don't. It's not easy since I'm not a cosmetic scientist, but I've found that the most common ingredients for oil control are talc and silica. A majority of powders have talc in their ingredients list (often right near the top), including all five of these, because it helps absorb oil and acts as an anti-caking agent. Silica based powders are sometimes referred to as "HD powders" because they're so fine and look like nothing on the skin. It's also pretty difficult to tell what will work just from the ingredients because you don't have any information about the quantities used other than a guess based on the order they're listed in. You can't even really always go by the claims of the product because only three of these five actually claim to help control oil and yet I find they all do a pretty good job.

I think at this point my favourite powder ever is Soap & Glory's One Heck of a Blot, which contains both talc and silica. It's super lightweight, never looks cakey and really does a good job with controlling oil, and it feels really smooth and doesn't add any extra coverage as it's just a blot powder. I just need Mecca/Kit Cosmetics to start stocking S&G makeup already or else I'll have to resort to ordering it from eBay when this runs out. My next favourite would probably be the Bourjois Healthy Balance Powder (52 Vanille) which has a touch of colour to it but it's super silky and the silicones in it help to blur your pores and imperfections. This one doesn't have any silica but it contains kaolin pretty high up the inci list which is a type of clay you'll find in a lot of clarifying mud masks which also helps to absorb excess oil.

Rimmel's Stay Matte (001 Transparent) is a classic - it's doesn't have as nice a texture as the others but it's also the most inexpensive of the lot and it has the cheapest packaging with no mirror. Not very handbag friendly and not particularly glamorous but it does the job the way I like it so I really can't fault it. I'm not entirely sure what's going on with the L'oreal True Match Powder (W1 Porcelain) because I bought this one in the round compact in the US but I think in Australia it's sold in square packaging? So I'm not sure if the formula is the same, but the one I have is really soft and smooth and I was surprised by how much I like it. The first two ingredients for this one are talc followed by corn starch which also helps absorb oil. The final one I've included is the Bobbi Brown Sheer Finish Loose Powder (shade 7 White) which is still a talc based formula with silica fourth on the inci list. It's super fine and completely translucent on the face and although loose powders can be a bit of a hassle sometimes I prefer them when I only want a really light dusting of powder, and I've found this is a good one for me. I also tend to prefer loose powders for setting under they eyes as they're harder to go overboard with and I find that area looks really cakey really quickly if you're using the wrong type of powder. If you have any high end or drugstore powders that you think really help absorb oil I'd love to hear what they are!