Thursday, July 16, 2015


First things first, yes that's technically a photo of my garbage. I tend to think that empties videos on YouTube work a bit better than a blog post but since I don't make YouTube videos, this is what we're working with. The best part about empties is seeing what products people have finished til the end, what they thought of them after using them for a while and most importantly, whether or not they'd spend the money on them again. Finishing makeup is extremely rare for me so this is mostly skincare but hopefully you like these mini reviews and find them helpful.

L'Oreal Gentle Eye Makeup Remover - I feel like this had a moment back in the day when it was a lot harder to get your hands on Biodema and everyone said it was a much cheaper alternative. Not sure about the pricing in other countries but you only get 125ml of product for $13.99 and if you buy Bioderma at Priceline (which is by no means the cheapest way) it's $29.99 for 250ml so considering you're paying about the same I'd much rather go for Bioderma. I also found that because this formula contains oil some of it often rolled off my cotton pad as I was pouring it on instead of it all absorbing in and that's a hassle I'd rather do without. I wouldn't buy this again. Vichy Micellar Solution - this is a nice micellar water, nothing above and beyond but certainly within the realm of Bioderma. I wouldn't necessarily go out of my way for it but I'd happily use it again.

The Body Shop Chamomile Cleansing Oil - this is an awesome, affordable cleansing oil and I loved using it. My only issue is that you need to hold the bottle in one hand and pump it into the other because if you think you can just pump one handed it'll fly everywhere and show you who's boss. But I can live with that and I'll almost definitely pick it up again one day. Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm (mini) - this is a beautiful smelling, thick, luxurious cleansing balm with a price tag to match. I'd happily use it again but since I like trying out different cleansers at that price point I'm more likely to pick up something new. REN Clearcalm Clay Cleanser - a clay based cleanser isn't particularly common so curiosity was a large part of my reason for buying it. It's a nice cleanser though, good for in the mornings or as a second cleanse in the evening. I didn't love the smell and it didn't wow me enough to race out and buy it again but I did enjoy it and would recommend it if you're curious like I was.

La Roche-Posay Toleriane - this is a basic, unscented, no-frills moisturiser that I feel like I can count on if I'm trying out new skincare and want to make sure everything else is as gentle as possible and won't break me out. Next time Priceline has one of their 40% off skincare sales I'll definitely be buying it again. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo+ - this is my third tube and I'm halfway through my fourth already and have another waiting to go in my drawer. I love this as a moisturiser or as a treatment under my moisturiser if I feel like I need more hydration on top. I really feel like this makes a difference in terms of unclogging and evening out the texture of my skin, particularly around my chin. If I stop using this after a few days I notice the difference so I really wouldn't be without it. Grown Hydra-Repair Day Cream with Camelia & Geranium Blossom - this is actually a really lovely moisturiser. It's a huge tube and despite the fact that it contains lots of different plant oils it never broke me out or made me excessively oily. Because it's such a big tube and it lasted so long I feel like I'm ready to try something new but I probably would pick this up again one day.

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair - a quick google will turn up about a million in-depth reviews of this product so I won't go into too much detail. I did really enjoy it and I would probably buy it again one day but for now I'm more curious about some other serums so I can hold off for a while. Indeed Labs Hydraluron - I think this is great for what it is - a hydrating serum to be used under moisturiser or (as I preferred) over the top of another serum. Ultimately if you don't have (or want to spend) $150 for a high end serum or if you're young enough to feel like you don't need one yet then this is a great option. The reason high end serums are so expensive is because of the ingredients they use and/or because they can tackle several issues at once. This is $34.99 and it won't fade pigmentation or obliterate wrinkles, but as promised, it will hydrate and plump up your skin. So if you're dry or dehydration prone this is very functional and affordable. I don't have dry skin and these days I'm more likely to buy something around the $150 mark but I'd have no hesitation recommending this if it suits your needs.

First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads - I picked up a half size of these in the States and I actually liked them a lot more than I thought I would. I don't like that with 60 pads in the full size if you were to use them every day that's still only two months worth (or one month if you use them morning & night) but I found them to be really effective and I do plan on buying them again soon. Mecca Cosmetica To Save Face SPF30 (mini) - I really like this for my daily SPF and I'm already using my second mini tube. It is a chemical SPF and not physical so keep that in mind if that means anything to you, and I do keep a higher SPF on hand for days when I'm actually doing something outdoors instead of just going to work, but it's a really lovely consistency and I enjoy this product a lot. Jurlique Rose Hand Cream - I adore this and I've already got another one. It's my favourite hand cream ever!

La Roche-Posay Micellar Solution (mini) - this is another decent micellar water like the Vichy one but it's no cheaper (ml for ml) than Bioderma. I'd use it again or maybe buy it if I found it on sale but wouldn't go out of my way for it. Nuxe Micellar Water (mini) - now this micellar water is different from the rest and not in a good way. It's soft pink in colour and it smells like roses but it also smears eyeliner all around my eyes instead of removing it properly so I definitely wouldn't recommend this and I absolutely wouldn't buy it again. Clarins One-Step Facial Cleanser (mini) - this was a bi-phase eye makeup remover but I don't think it performed particularly well and I wouldn't buy it again. Soap & Glory Hand Food (mini) - a nice little hand cream with the classic soap & glory scent - can't complain!

Nuxe Reve de Miel Lip Balm - I think I've talked about this enough times by now, I've already got another one I'm using and I'll probably always have a pot of it around. Sunday Riley Good Genes (sample) - I got about 5 uses out of this little guy which is more than I thought I would. Unfortunately it didn't change my life in that short window of time, but I won't hold that against it. I'm really curious about Sunday Riley's skincare and I think once I'm in need of a new serum/oil it'll be one from her line. Clinique Clinical Solutions Acne Clearing Gel (sample) - this lil baby tube actually lasted me months. It's a basic salicylic acid spot treatment that worked very well for me. Unfortunately Clinique is one of the biggest offenders of price discrimination in the Australian market so while I would use this again I may also look around for something cheaper.

Bourjois Healthy Balance Powder - I love this powder, it's really lightweight, not at all cakey, super slim packaging and it helps control my oily skin. I'm on my second one already. Jordana Best Lash Extreme Volume Mascara - this one got a lot of hype on YouTube a while back and it's only a few dollars so I picked it up in the States but I found that it transferred to my under-eye area throughout the day (probably that oily skin) so I wouldn't pick this up again. Maybelline the Falsies Mascara - this one transferred on me too and I'm not a huge fan of the wand either. I prefer plastic over bristle wands as they tend to separate my eyelashes better so unfortunately this was a bit of a miss for me too.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Current Beauty Favourites

It feels like it's about time to share some recent beauty favourites with you guys. They're almost all new discoveries except for one old favourite that's made a comeback - so I'll start with the makeup first. While I was still overseas Australis released limited edition metallic cream eyeshadows that are dupes for the Stila Magnificent Metal shadows, but unfortunately by the time I got back to Australia I couldn't find them anywhere. I desperately hoped they'd bring them back because I'm obsessed with intense glittery eyeshadows but haven't been able to justify spending $47 on one of the Stila ones (and probably never will tbh.) My prayers were answered when they not only made them permanent but introduced new shades as well. As soon as I heard the news I actually went to the effort of phoning a few Pricelines around me to check that they had them in stock and went straight out to buy them that weekend. There are 6 shades in the line and I have four of them (there's also a plum and a dark silvery grey that aren't really my thing) and apart from them being absolutely gorgeous they also have hilarious names like Plum Diddy and Jay-Zed. They're under $10 each and I can't recommend them enough! And I believe the Australis website offers international shipping too. Speaking of intense glitter, I bought a small MAC Glitter in Antique Gold and neither words nor photos can do justice to how beautiful this is. My glitter obsession is never stronger than when it comes to blackened gold shades like this, so buying it and wearing it and just gazing lovingly at it scratches the itch - and I know I'm not alone when I say weird things like that!

My favourite new lipsticks lately have been the Giorgio Armani Rouge D'Armani Lipstick in 400 and Urban Decay's Revolution Lipstick in Shame. Of all the red lipsticks I have in all the varying shades, I think my favourites are the blood-of-your-enemies intense dark reds like these two. I think they really flatter my colouring (pale af skin with dark brown hair) and they make me feel like a badass, which is exactly what a good lipstick should do. Both of these lipsticks have excellent formulas, in fact I could put either of these on in the morning and not worry about touching them up until after I've eaten lunch around 1-2pm. The Armani lipstick looks like it would be matte in the bullet but it glides on like butter and has this sheen that gives it a beautiful depth of colour. As much as I'd love to come up with a different word to describe the way this looks on the lips, there is no more appropriate word than juicy. It makes your lips look juicy and amazing and I LOVE IT. As for the Urban Decay, I adore the formula of their Revolution Lipsticks and Shame is this incredible dark, dark red-berry. It's really difficult to find ultra-dark reds that don't lean too purple or too brown, but this lipstick with a red liner underneath or a red gloss on top will make you feel the same kind of flawless as Beyonce.

For complexion I've been all over the Urban Decay Naked Skin Concealer which has a beautiful formula, excellent shade range and a great applicator to boot. Lightweight, very pigmented and easy to blend, it works great under the eyes as well as around the face so it seriously rivals the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer. I have oily skin and recently I decided to test out all of my primers to see which ones actually help my makeup last longer and I was pretty surprised to find that the Clarins Beauty Flash Balm was one of the best performers. I'd used it for years but a while back I decided it was aimed at dry/dehydrated skin and couldn't possibly do what I need it to do. But when I tried it out again I really did notice a difference in the staying power of my makeup, a lot more so than with many of the silicone based primers I have. It's funny because you hear that it can make your foundation break up if you use a water-based primer and a silicone based foundation or vice versa and that you should stick to one type at a time. I looked into this a bit more and literally every foundation I own is silicone based, as is almost every primer, and yet this works better than most of them. So I'd take that advice with a pinch of salt because there aren't many water-based products out there anyway, but in this case I am well & truly back on the Beauty Flash Balm bandwagon.

When it comes to skincare, I am head over heels for the Antipodes Joyous Protein-Rich Night Replenish Serum. My first experience with facial oils was about two years ago with rosehip oil which everyone talks about like it's the second coming of Christ but it took me a while to figure out that it was giving me cystic acne, so needless to say we are NOT friends. A while back Antipodes released two different sets of mini serum/oil + moisturiser duos so I picked up the set with this oil (as the other one contains the devil rosehip) and with a few weeks of clear skin behind me I decided to once again dip my toes in the pool of facial oils and it was love at first use. I remember waking up the following morning and looking at my face and something was different. I couldn't put my finger on it at first, but then I realised - I wasn't shiny. As someone with oily skin it's not unusual for me to wake up with a shiny face as my skin keeps producing sebum overnight but using a facial oil has helped balance out my skin and I've found that I'm actually less oily than before. I certainly still have oily skin, but I really feel like this helps take it down a notch, and it makes sense when you think about your face producing sebum (oil) the same way your scalp does - the less you wash you hair (remove sebum) the less often you need to, and the more you remove it the more it will produce. Obviously I'm not going to stop washing my face, but if I add back the oil I'm taking away then my skin will need to produce less of it to replenish what it's lost. And of course water-based hydrating serums and moisturisers are going to affect dehydration (lack of water) and facial oils are going to address dryness (lack of oil) or balance having too much oil. Everyone's skin is different so I can't guarantee this will work for you but it certainly has worked for me!

I've also loved the Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm. I'm not big on Clinique skincare but they really hit the nail on the head with this one - it's got a beautiful smooth texture that completely melts as soon as it hits the skin. It's also unscented and although my skin doesn't mind a bit of fragrance and I do find that adds to the experience, this is still a wonderful product and it'd be great for those of you with sensitive skin. For lip balm I've been really into the Episilk Lip Balm with hyaluronic acid. I bought this completely blind, having never heard about it before but I was intrigued by the fact that it has hyaluronic acid in it which is very common in skincare but not something I've seen in a lip balm. I'll be the first to admit that it doesn't have the most sexy packaging or name, but it's a great, effective lip balm with a simple ingredients list that has been really helping with my dry lips in this cold weather. I doubt anything will surpass the Nuxe Reve de Miel for me but sometimes you need something with a more lightweight texture and this has been my go-to lately.

I recently picked up the Real Techniques Sculpting Brush set, not for sculpting mind you as I've never contoured a day in my life, but because I'd heard the sculpting brush was good for foundation and the setting brush good for under the eyes and all the rumours are true. The sculpting brush is particularly great because you can use the point for getting in around the nose and then use the larger flat side for covering the rest of the face very quickly. And since we're on the topic of tools, I've got to mention the Muji Cotton Buds - I know, how sad can you get? But these tiny little cotton buds are great for fixing up your eyeliner or mascara when it gets all over your eyelid (i.e. all the time!) Yes they're completely unnecessary and regular cotton buds do the job just fine but here we are. They're smaller and nicer to use and they're just so little and cute.

A couple more things that aren't pictured - I recently got the Deep Steep Sugar Scrub and I really like it. It's what those in-shower body conditioners wish they were. Made with shea butter and coconut oil, the sugar particles dissolve on your skin as you scrub and you're left with slightly oily, hydrated skin even when you get out of the shower. If that sounds like a nightmare to you then this obviously won't be up your street, but if you're lazy like me and ceebs moisturising your body after you get out of the shower then this is excellent. I've also been absolutely L O V I N G doing my hair in twist braids before going to bed. I'm far too lazy to heat style my hair so this is perfect for me and I feel like I've found my thing that I'll be sticking with for years to come. Now, my hair will never have the super-human amount of volume that this girl's does, and furthermore a blunt fringe and excessive volume in the hair actually looks kind of crazy, but if you've got long hair give this a try because it might change your life like it did mine! I also feel like I need to link to Sally Hughes' In The Bathroom feature with Caroline Hirons in case anyone hasn't seen it that might like to. It's actually an hour long interview followed by an hour of digging through Caroline's skincare stash so it's basically skincare porn for weirdos like me (us.) Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

International Beauty: Best of the USA

Continuing on with my International Beauty series (check out my French Skincare post if you missed it) next stop is the States. With Sephora opening in Sydney at the end of last year and Mecca going from strength to strength, there are very few brands and products that we still can't get our hands on over here, but they do exist and when you can't have something you want we all know it only makes you want it more. I have mentioned some brands/products in this post that we can now get at Sephora, but since most of the country can't get their hands on them and there are lots of brands that are still unavailable in the UK/EU I thought I'd include them anyway. So if you're into beauty and you're planning a trip to the States, here are some things you can't miss!

First up, the Lorac Pro Palette - this bad boy has done the rounds and has been all over blogs and youtube since it was released, but it's for good reason. Available in ULTA stores, this palette contains 8 matte and 8 shimmer shades and they're all beautiful and very high quality. I don't think I need to say much about this palette because you've probably heard about it a million times and it may already be on your wishlist. Another brand that is, as far as I know, unavailable outside of the US is Fresh, who make lovely tinted & clear lip balms. These are pretty expensive for what they are but I can't deny that they're lovely and I actually use the tinted berry shade far more than I thought I would. I got the lip treatment as a sample with an online Sephora order while I was over there and the tinted balm came in a huge kit of minis. I think they often do mini sets which are a much more cost effective way to try the brand, in fact there's currently a 5 pack of minis that I desperately want to get my hands on next time I feel like it's reasonable to spend $36US on lip balm.

Onto the drugstore, Wet & Wild is one of the most affordable brands on the market and the have a serious cult following when it comes to their eyeshadow formula which is very comparable to high end products. Their Comfort Zone palette is a staple and considering it comes in at under $5 it's definitely worth picking up. I also really recommend checking out Milani who have a lot of great products in their line, most notably their baked blushes, their colour statement lipsticks and their shadow eyez pencil in almond cream which makes for a great neutral base.

Now, I have a lot of feelings about liquid eyeliner (lol) and I need to take a moment to express my profound level of love and appreciation for NYC's Liquid Liner which I absolutely insist you buy if you have the brand available to you. I wear liquid liner every day and I have very high expectations - it needs to be properly black and it needs to stay completely immaculate and in place until I decide it's time to take it off. No smudging, no flaking, no fading, no transferring to my upper lid. It's also very much a functional product for me (like cotton pads or bobby pins) - I know there are products that can perform the way I need them to and I know I can get them for a few dollars, so it's one of the few areas where I'm not interested in luxury because I don't want to have to spend $30 every few months re-stocking. I used to rely on Heng Fang (a Chinese brand I could buy for $1 a tube on eBay) for years until I couldn't find it anymore, but then this NYC liquid liner came into my life when I ran out of liner while on holidays. They have a pen in their range as well (don't bother, it sucks) but I prefer the bottle style liners anyway because you can get more product as you need it and I find pens tend to dry out quicker. I also have no time for gel liner because I haven't found one that really performs, and I'm not interested in setting my liner with black eyeshadow because I don't think I should have to. It took me a bit to get used to the thin, flexible brush tip (the Heng Fang one was a firm felt tip) but as long as you're careful it's actually a lot more precise and I can get a thinner line with it. I have been using the same tube for months and it's still going strong, and I have two backups that I bought before I came home so I'm set for a while, but in case I haven't been clear enough, this liner is $2.99US and if you can find it, you need to buy it.

Somewhere in the middle of drugstore and high end is Sonia Kashusk, whose line is only available at Target in North America but their Eye on Neutral Matte Palette is one of my favourite and most relied-upon palettes. It's got 12 neutral matte shades that apply and blend beautifully so you're covered when it comes to crease shades for every look you can think of. If you have either of the Naked Basics palettes by Urban Decay and you find them invaluable, this has double the shades so it's at least twice as good (yay maths!) and it's super versatile and great for travel. If you're in the states you can't really go past a look at Bath & Body Works for their candles and fun scented hand sanitisers. I love candles but they one of the least travel friendly items to buy so I only picked up a few and I'm trying to make them last. And I don't care one way or the other about hand sanitiser but when I'm faced with pumpkin spice and pecan waffle flavours I'm going to bite.

Now for products you may or may not be able to get your hands on depending on where you live, you really can't go past Tarte's Amazonian Clay Blushes which have a fantastic formula and a come in a tonne of beautiful shades. Their Tartelette palette (not pictured) is also unmissable if you are able to get your hands on it, and I'm a big fan of their Amazonian Clay 12 Hour Foundation. I haven't tried much from Make Up For Ever but I do love their Full Cover Concealer which has an awesome lightweight, high coverage formula that works just as well under the eyes as it does on the rest of the face. Bite Beauty have a huge range of lip products and they also have double ended minis at Sephora in the US, and although I haven't tried it myself I've heard amazing things about their Agave Lip Mask which is on my wishlist. Kat Von D is actually a really strong makeup line - her Tattoo Liner seems to be everyone's favourite and I did try out a mini of it and it meets all of my requirements except in terms of price, at $28AUD I can't justify buying a new one all the time but if you're happy to spend the cash it's a good one. I also really like her lipstick range and I'm really curious to try her Everlasting Liquid Lipsticks too. Speaking of liquid lipsticks, an absolute non-negotiable for anyone who wears red lipstick is the Sephora Cream Lip Stain in 01 Always Red. I heard they've expanded the line to include some more shades in the US so I'm praying they come to the Sydney store soon.

Josie Maran is widely available in Australia now through Mecca/Kit Cosmetics, but off the top of my head I don't think you can get her products in the UK/EU, so if you're heading across the pond from there her Coconut Watercolour Cheek Gelee blushes are gorgeous, and I've just recently picked up the light version of her Argan Oil too. And finally, just as a general recommendation, if you want to pick up anything from MAC or Clinique I've found them to be two of the most overpriced brands in Australia when you compare what they cost in the US. For example, a MAC Lipstick will set you back $16US, $36AUS, £15.50 or €19.00 - a little ridiculous, right? Also if you're looking at drugstore products they are generally way cheaper in the US and they often have a lot more shades available, particularly if you're looking for foundations. So if you're a bit makeup crazy like me and you're heading to the US anytime soon I hope this helps!