Sticky lip gloss…

Sticky lip gloss – I’m not a fan. I’m not alone in this, I know, there are plenty of people who hate on sticky glosses. Your hair gets stuck to them, they have way too much residue, and they just feel horrible. In my personal experience, there are very few non-sticky glosses, so as a result, I’m not a huge of glosses at all. I’ve been a long time user of MAC Lipglass in the past, as they have an OK colour pay off and aren’t so sticky that my lips get stuck together, but lately I always reach for a lipstick rather than a gloss.On my US wanderings, I was very keen to try out Milani Cosmetics. They come up in so many US-based YouTube videos and tutorials, and seem to be good value for money. The brand was a bit tricky to find at times, or I would find the display (which was quite tiny in most places) and there would be minimal stock. I managed to pick up a few items, one of which was the Brilliant Shine Lip Gloss. $4.99 was a safe investment price, and I figured if it was horrible, it would just sink down to the bottom of my lip collection, and join the rest of the sticky glosses.

20140908_171046_2A sticky gloss on a delicious looking Donna Hay cover

What a pleasant surprise – this stuff is really nice. I bought the shade Mauve Fetish, which is a classic Aych shade – browny pink. Now, I’m going to be brutally honest here – this stuff is sticky as hell. I don’t think I’ve ever used a stickier gloss! Butttttt the colour pay-off is excellent, and it stays on for a really long time (which also means it has extended stickiness). Secondary to my hate of sticky glosses is the need to reapply them so often, but this stuff needs very little reapplication. I put it on the other day before meeting a friend for a coffee, and it was still visible 3 hours and 1 coffee/cake combo later. It was impressive enough that it gave me some inspiration for a blog post – regular readers will notice I’m somewhat lacking in this lately!

Would I buy it again? For sure – the colour pay off is great.
Who would I recommend it to? Lovers of glosses.
Is it value for money? Yup. $US4.99!
How can you get it? Milani is available in Australia via Crush Cosmetics. I couldn’t find Brilliant Shine Lip Gloss, but an interesting relative of it may be the “Lip Intense” – $10.50. It might be worth checking out if you are an avid vlog watcher and blog reader like myself and are curious about what Milani has to offer.

Until next time… 

Trying to be a beautiful brunette…

Well weren’t you a wonderful little surprise, Beautiful Brunette? After years of committing myself as a John Frieda Brilliant Brunette devotee, I never really gave any other coloured shampoos a chance – very racist of me.

Now my hair tale is essentially this – I am brunette. I don’t have dark ethnic locks, I don’t have mousey brown hair – I have a fairly classic brunette colour. A sucker for a trend, I started getting balayage (ombre) done to it about a year ago, and each visit I get lighter and lighter (sometimes intentional, sometimes not so intentional). Post USA, my hair was a darling shade of orange, and I understand the pain of those who have blonde highlights – it is so hard to maintain! Most Friday’s I get a bit of time to browse Priceline, which is one of my favourite past times. Unfortunately, it’s very hard for me to walk out not having spent any money. One particularly orange-y day, I browsed the hair section, particularly the blonde toners. $15 for a bottle I will rarely use wasn’t enough to convince me, so instead I started browsing some of the bargain bins – and discovered the Beautiful Brunette range.

BB shampoo

$6.90 – minimal risk. It was marked down by about $1, but I’m also a sucker for marketing – slap a pink piece of paper on it Priceline, and I’m interested. I picked up the above shampoo, and the below conditioner (Argan Smooth Deep Moisture Conditioner), and figured my hair couldn’t end up any worse.
ArganSmoothConditioner

These were both a very good find! The shampoo seemed to take a bit of the orange brassiness of my highlights off, and the conditioner was looovely. I returned the following week, and bought another pair. If you’re going to give one of the two a chance, I really recommend the conditioner – the combo is nice, but I think the real winner is the conditioner. It’s very moisturising, and smells quite nice. It has a bit of a shimmer to it when squeezed out of the bottle, but don’t let that scare you off – it doesn’t seem to transfer into your hair. I noticed quite an improvement after only a few uses – combine this with coconut oil, and you’ll be unstoppable!

Would I buy it again? Already have – I think it’s a more competitively priced version of Brilliant Brunette.
Who would I recommend it to? Anyone who wants serious moisture – or wants to maintain a decent brunette colour.
Is it value for money? It’s fairly normal shampoo pricing, so yes.
How can you get it? Priceline has plenty of stock – I also spotted it tonight in Big W for $4.80.

It’s time to tell the truth: Smashbox Full Exposure Palette

Regular readers may recall my excitement to pick up new palettes in the US – in fact, I had quite the list of palettes to add to my collection. My brother went to the US the week before I did, so he treated me to the Naked 3 palette; this opened up some space for an extra palette. I ended up buying the Smashbox Full Exposure palette early in the trip, then treated myself to a Marc Jacobs one just before returning home. The downside to palettes is that they can add quite a bit of weight to one’s makeup baggage allowance, so I had to make some very considered decisions. I figured the Smashbox one was a safe choice, as I had previously owned and enjoyed a Smashbox palette.

Well, you sure screwed me Smashbox. This palette was really disappointing. Based on my experience with the Masterclass 2 palette (see earlier link), I had high hopes for the matte shadows in this palette, and minimal interest in the shimmers. The whole palette had 14 shadows – 7 shimmer, 7 matte (about 8 with gold tones, and 6 with silver tones). For $49.00, I didn’t expect the world, but I did expect to like and use more than 4 shades! Oddly enough, the 4 gold toned shimmers have tickled my fancy, and have become a part of my regular weekly makeup. 4 shadows out of 14 is hardly impressive – a poor choice of palette on my part. The only thing that I liked was that there was a fairly decent brush included – a double-sided brush, with one side recommended for matte, and the other for shimmers. It’s not an amazing brush, but it’s pretty good for an included brush, and it suited me during my travels (I took really minimal makeup this trip – I had big makeup dreams!).

Basically, my issue is the pigmentation in this palette. Really minimal colour payoff, despite how much you dip and rub that brush (even using my regular brushes didn’t change that!). The mattes barely show up, and although I’m not one to wear shimmer to work, the 4 gold-toned shimmers are quite lovely, so have been quite nice to wear. I can’t explain why this is always sold out – beauty bloggers have a lot to answer for, I guess. My recommendation is stick with the Urban Decay Naked palettes, or check out the Lorac Pro palette – I don’t own that, but I’ve heard great things.

Would I buy it again? Definitely not.
Who would I recommend this to? Someone who is being offered it for free – if exchanging money, stick with the Naked Palette!
Is it value for money? Definitely not.
How can you get it? In Australia, from Mecca Cosmetica (it’s constantly sold out – go figure!)

Smashbox Full Exposure Eye Shadow Palette

Well, I do apologise…

Ramadan has come and gone, hence why I have been so silent for so long. Waking early, fasting all day, and being disciplined at night made blogging quite tough. So as my heading suggests… I do apologise for my silence. But I’m back, the blog lives on, and my beauty love continues to grow.

Now, of course I have a huge range of things I picked up in the US that I want to review. I honestly don’t know where to begin, as there is heaps to still try out. But something I’ve already started using that I love already, is the Caudalie Beauty Elixir. I was blessed to have a huge breakout recently; after having been breakout free for quite a while, this was distressing, and I had to bust out some of my previously well-loved and respected products (e.g. Dermalogica Overnight Clearing Gel, ASAP Clearskin Gel). Much to my horror they weren’t quite doing it – I got a lot of tiny pimples that lasted for a day, but left me with a permanent blemish – thanks a lot skin!

Enter the Beauty Elixir. Now this stuff smells DIVINE. I’m personally using it as a toner, when I’ve used a hardcore exfoliator (ASAP Exfoliating Facial Scrub – I only use it twice a week, as I find it quite strong on my skin), just before I apply some serious hydration (Clarins Facial Oil). I got the travel sized bottle, so this stuff is precious to me. It’s made up of grape, orange blossom, rose, balm mint and rosemary (according to the website), which creates a seriously delightful smelling mist, and it settles really beautifully on the skin. My number one skin concern, when I’m not having a feral month, is hyperpigmentation (blemishes) and scars. This stuff seems to be working a beauty on my hyperpigmentation, especially when used in conjunction with the other hardcore clearing stuff. I’m not entirely sure about its claims re: glowing, bright skin, but it sure is nice to use.

caudalie-beauty elixir

Would I buy it again? Definitely. Where from, I’m not entirely sure.
Who would I recommend this to? Lovers of floral scents, those who want a serious toner product, and those who have cash to burn.
How can you get it? I picked mine up in Sephora, which is of no help to Australians. I’ve googled around, ASOS potentially stocks it (though they have none at the time of searching); LookFantastic stocks it and claims to have free worldwide shipping, however I’ve never personally used that website. Please let me know if you’ve seen Caudalie stocked anywhere that would be accessible for Aussies!

Until next time, readers…

Goodbye OPI

Hello all! Firstly, my apologies for not blogging very consistently as of late – as regular readers will know, I’ve been away in the US for a few weeks. All good things must come to an end, so I’m back in Australia, and back in winter mode. I’m working on a few different posts that are looking at some of the new products I picked up (quite a few of them are much raved about products), but I need some time to have a proper play around and see if they are worth the hype.

During my trip, it become clear to me that my long relationship with OPI is officially over. OPI’s brush is no longer the be-all and end-all, and nor is their formula the best on the market. They remain one of the most expensive salon formulas in Australia, so it’s time to move on. I follow the brand on Facebook, so constantly see updates of their new shades and ranges, and one that interested me a lot this year was the Brazil Range. I picked up ‘Amazon… Amazoff’ which is a lovely teal shade – or so I thought. I also picked up ‘Red Hot Rio’, which also disappointed me. Neither shade was horrible, but neither had any sort of wow-power. The teal shade ended up looking horrible on me and I changed it after one day (God bless holidays!), and the red was just… well, it was just another shade of red.

It’s been a while since I used OPI, so I’d forgotten about the large monstrosity of a handle, and even the brush seems to have put on 10 pounds. You can catch a glimpse of the polish in the photo below – there is nothing as refreshing as a Mint Julep in Louisiana.

drink

So that’s it from me OPI – you have been good to me, you’ve been a lovely indulgence for many years, and helped build my love for nail polish – but no more. It’s Essie for the mean time – I picked up the gorgeous ‘Mint Candy Apple’ which you can kind of see in the picture below. I figured it’s about time I included some selfies on this blog, so here I am, in all my Harry Potter fandom glory – enjoying a butterbeer in Hogsmeade (i.e. Islands of Adventure, Orlando, Florida).

butterbeer cropped

Until next time…

Where did all my money go? (US Loves)

It went to the Kate Spade store, that’s where. Now, this isn’t a beauty post, but I really wanted to do a ‘US Loves’ post, and this brand takes the crown. I got some things on my last US trip, but this time, I’ve been completely shameless about it.

20140617-114352.jpg

If I had endless cash to spend, I would buy some of her clothing, a pair of shoes, some jewellery and essentially all the bags in the store – large and small. Her designs are so spot on – there are more that I want than I don’t, which is tough on my bank balance.

The colours, the quality, and the designs are just divine. The ultimate combination for a Kate Spade and makeup lover like myself was splurging on a makeup bag!

20140617-114448.jpg
(Excuse my photo quality – not the best since I’m on the road)

I’ve packed all my travel makeup into this new bag, bar all the larger spoils of my Sephora hauls – palettes, bottles etc.

If you’re not familiar with the brand, have a look at the Kate Spade website , I assure you that you will fall in love.

Until next time…

20140617-115656.jpg

US Beauty Burn: Sephora Formula X

Hello USA!!! I’ve been in the US for the past 4 days, with my best friend, MO. We started our trip in San Francisco, which I knew was going to involve lots of hills of walking, but they really do redefine my understanding of hills in that city. My legs and butt feel very toned after 4 days of walking. It didn’t help that our hotel was at the top of a huge hill, so even a simple day of shopping involved a huge gradient.

Anyways, great city, and although the shopping didn’t excite me as much as I had anticipated, it was still great, and many $$$ were spent. One of the first Sephora items I picked up was the Formula X nail polish. I picked up shade ‘Enigma’, which is a nice turquoise blue shade. I’m really feeling blue shades on this trip so far, hence why I was drawn to this shade. MO picked up a gorgeous pink shade ‘Eureka’, and we were excited to paint our nails after a long day of sight seeing.

What a huge disappointment! The packaging is so cute, and I am a lover of their former ‘by OPI’ range, so had reasonable expectations. The brush is useless, and the formula is a bit too thick for my liking. It made for a really horrible painting session, and although the finished look was alright, it was really disappointing for a polish that retails at $USD10.50. My tip for this product is to save your pennies and buy up an Essie Polish instead. The wear has been pretty good, two days later, I only have one tiny chip on the tip of one nail, but it’s not enough of a feature to seal the sale for me in the future.

Stay tuned for more US burns and loves…

US Beauty Burn: Bath & Body Works

Ok, so this is more of a brand burn, rather than a beauty burn. This store is mentioned by pretty much every American You-Tuber I’ve seen, and I couldn’t recall seeing it on my last trip to the US. I was keen to make sure I found one this time, and was even thinking I would stupidly buy some small size candles! I love candles, and was under the impression that these candles are to-die-for.

I was thrilled to find a Bath & Body Works in the Westfield San Francisco Centre, which is a pretty fancy shopping mall in SF. It had huge sale signs on the outside, and baskets of goodies when I entered… Or so I thought.

HOW IS THIS STORE SO POPULAR??? For the Aussie readers, the comparison point I have for the products in this store is like, the Target and Kmart scented body products that we can find in Aus. Heavily perfumed, cheap formula, and tacky packaging. Imagine a WHOLE STORE with this type of product! Gross! The candles had the potential to smell OK, if they had about 50% less fragrance in the wax.

It’s not like I am obsessed with spending $40 on a candle, but I do prefer the result in my home of one $40 candle, than of twenty $2 candles. People were going nuts in the store, which was inexplicable to me. I can’t stand those heavily perfumed body lotions available in discount stores in Aus, so there’s no way you can tempt me in America.

Needless to say, I didn’t buy anything. I checked out the majority of the store,d my eyes grew wider as I spent more time in it. My travel friend, MO, had to leave, as her tolerance for cheap goods is much lower than mine.

So… for all the Aussies, in future, take the Bath & Body Works YouTube reviews with a pinch of salt… And for the Americans… Please explain?

Until next time…

20140611-085727.jpg

The US Wishlist: Treats!

Anybody who knows me, knows I love a good treat. I don’t need much convincing on a regular day, but when I’m away from home, I need no justification! The US is known for it’s wicked food opportunities, so here’s a little taste test of what I’m looking forward to…

Image M&M’s Salty & Sweet Snack Mix

I picked up a bag of this randomly last year, and brought it home… who knew that the Mars company could make such delicious mini choc-chip cookies, and tiny pretzels? Obviously they have the M&M’s thing down pat, but their ability to add in a savoury snack was quite amazing – these were delicious! Well worth adding to the treat collection!

Image M&M’s Raspberry

Ok, this is a total Cherry Ripe rip-off – and I love me some Cherry Ripe. These have since come to Australia and I haven’t actually bothered buying them – treats like these need to stay in the US. These are a delicious M&M version of a Cherry Ripe – so stay away if you hate coconut, but if you love Cherry Ripe, I trust you’ll enjoy their little take on it.

Image Magic Mix Trail Mix

A humble trail mix, you say? Ah… but this is American trail mix. Which means they have added delicious chocolate to it! This is my “healthy” snack of choice, and it was quite shocking to discover that this even exists! I tried to copy it once I returned home, but mine just never turned out right – I do think Americans have a great handle on the concept of trail mix, so just adding chocolate bits to a nut mix wasn’t enough at home.

Image  Ben & Jerry’s Ice-cream

OK, this is obviously available in Australia, and in fact, is really easy to find. However, the US, particularly the East Coast, has flavours we can only dream of Down Under. Again, my disclaimer is that I love ice-cream, and it is my #1 treat of choice, so it only makes sense that I should attempt to try all B&J flavours ever.

Image The humble bagel

As I wrote this crazy blog post, and thought about all the food I would consume while away, I realised I had almost forgotten my favourite one…. the bagel. West Coast, East Coast, bakery, small convenience store, hotel, off the street… it doesn’t matter where you buy your bagel, if it’s on American soil, it will be delicious. Do not come near me English muffins, don’t even think about it crumpets, and bread… you are dead to me. ‘Nuff said.

And of course, who goes to the US and doesn’t find the latest in Oreo technology? I’ll update you all once I see what’s the latest there…

The US Wishlist: The Stores

Now that I’ve got my Visa Waiver organised for my trip, I think I can safely picture myself entering some of my favourite US stores. It’s a random post, but as you can probably tell, I’m getting pretty excited.

Image Sephora

I’m keen to try out some new products, sample the hell out of the place, and love me some Beauty Points. I’m thinking I might redeem a make-over voucher that I got last year, as I’m told this is a great way to see a new range of products.

Image Victoria’s Secret

Now I never understood the VS hype. Even when I first arrived in the US last year, I was much less interested than my travel partner was in VS. I decided to give some of their underwear a trial run, just to see what the hype was about.
OMG. I get it now. They really are amazing. Great quality, extremely comfortable, and darn good value. The No. 1 selling bra in Aus, the Berlei T-Shirt Bra, will set you back an easy $AUD50 – so it’s not like we’re used to bargain basement prices for underwear. VS is highly competitive in their pricing, and their quality is so amazing that I think they are worth their Australian shipping costs. Their VS Pro makeup is pretty decent as well, so I think I’ll check it out (if this line remains), and see if there’s anything worth picking up.

Image Forever 21

Now, I don’t want to slam my American counterparts too hard, but I will say that the clothing side of shopping was pretty disappointing in the US. I took quite an empty suitcase, and was distressed to discover that there wasn’t much catching my eye. For this reason, Forever 21 was more up my alley – really cheap, and perfect for travel pieces – things that you will wear for a couple of weeks, and don’t care if you keep them or lose them.

Image Anthropologie

Actually, I take back my earlier statement. Some of the US clothing stores are to die for – and this is one of them. Their homewares are adorable, their styling is tempting, and the clothes are gorgeous. It’s probably equivalent to Australia’s Country Road in terms of pricing, but paying $100 for a top in the US is crazy. As an Australian, and a Country Road lover, I can deal with their prices.

Image Duane Reade

My final, but not by any means, any lesser love, is American pharmacies. Duane Reade is my pick of the lot, but this may be because I spent most of my time pharmacy shopping on the East Coast last year. I have been sparingly using my Duane Reade branded nail polish remover, and now know that I should stock up on that while I’m there – it’s amazing. I plan to spend a lot of time poring over the drug store brands, and lamenting the prices we pay in Aus. I’ve tentatively planned a $20 makeup challenge for myself while I’m away.

 

Anyways, that’s it from me, excuse me while I go plan more of my wish list…