Farewell Summer…

… Hello Autumn! Autumn has to be my favourite season of the year – the colours, the fashion, the weather – all divine. Spring is gorgeous, but I get hay fever, which impacts my ability to enjoy Spring, so Autumn wins by default. This summer, I am well and truly over the heat. I travelled to the US in June 2013, which gave me some bonus heat, and then to the Middle East in October, which taught me what heat truly is – so I’m ready for the cold weather to set in. Obviously I’m in Australia, so it’s not exactly an extremely cold, snowy winter in store, but it’s a nice change from the heat.

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So, in preparation for the arrival of Autumn, I’m maximising my summer nail polish, and will embrace autumn shades as soon as possible. This week, I’m wearing OPI’s ‘Charged Up Cherry’ which is fluro-toned pink polish. It’s definitely not for everybody, and it polarises people in my life. Either people love it, or absolutely hate it; I’m in the middle about it. It’s the first time I’ve put it on this summer, it’s just a bit too fluro for me to love enough for regular use.

Autumn colours, on the other hand, are impossible not to love! I really need to reshuffle my nail polish storage to make autumn shades easier to access. I was gifted a purple shade of polish last week for my birthday, which I’m very excited to try out. I’ve also busted out my OPI ‘Malaga Wine’ (I actually couldn’t resist, I have it on my toes already), and will continue my hunt for the perfect nude shade. I’m interested in a more grey-toned nude this season, as well as adding the perfect black to my collection.

Autumn and winter fashion is starting to enter the stores, which is making the current heat quite unbearable. Is it too much to ask for the weather to be a balmy 15 degrees on the 1st of March, with a bit of a sharp, cold breeze? I have scarves and jackets to wear!

No recommendations in this blog post, consider it my ode to Autumn.

autumn-leaves-close-up-17072(Image courtesy of Google Images – I just want you to feel as inspired for Autumn as I currently feel)

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A lil’ lip addiction

I’ll admit early on that lip posts are a bit of a struggle for me. Lips are not my favourite facial feature, and I really struggle to work with them. With my ageing wisdom, I realise that very few people have perfectly shaped, luscious lips, and like any feature, there are always some tricks to tweak and enhance it. Lisa Eldridge has a brilliant tutorial on how to make thin lips look fuller which I highly recommend if you want some tips or ideas – I used her tips to even out my lip shape, and was really happy with the result.

Having said all that, I do still have some lip products I really enjoy using (e.g. Chubby Sticks) and recommend. Today’s product is the Rimmel Lasting Finish by Kate Moss lipstick. I’m trying to push myself to use some sort of lip product everyday, which helped me rediscover these lipsticks quite recently.

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These are a great product, and are perfect for regular use. They have a great price point (RRP is $11.95), and for that amount of money, you get a really buttery, highly pigmented lipstick. I love the simple packaging and range of colours. It’s not a huge range of colours, – enough to give you a good choice, but not too many to confuse you. They have a nice smell (compared with the poison-like smell of some other supermarket brand makeup), and a decent level of moisture. I always apply something under my lipstick for moisture anyway, but this lipstick tops that up a bit as well.

The negatives for this lipstick is that it’s not particularly long-wearing – the longest I’ll get out of it is about 2-4 hours, depending on the level of drinking/eating/talking in which I will be participating. Since all my social events involve at least 2 out of these 3 activities, I always need to top it up. Rimmel stock a limited range of lip pencils (but enough to do the job), so I definitely recommend pairing the lipstick with a pencil if you need to enhance the wear time.

There is also a matte range, which is housed in a red container. I can’t comment on those lipsticks, as I’ve never used them. I love all things matte, but I generally steer away from it for my lips – I need all the reflection I can get!

Would I buy it again? Easily – the range of colours is limited, but it’s a solid performer.
Who would I recommend it to? Anyone looking to expand their lipstick usage, or wanting a decent daily use lipstick.
Is it value for money? That’s what makes it such a good product – yes!
How can you get it? It’s impossible to ignore Rimmel – Priceline, Coles, Woolworths, Target, Big W & K Mart.

A classic beauty blog item…

A beauty blog cannot claim to be a beauty blog, without some sort of Urban Decay Naked palette review, swatch or tutorial. We’re up to the third palette now, which I’ve yet to get my hands on, but my original and true love will always be the first Naked. I feel like I don’t even need to give details about the palette because it’s so well-known, but I shouldn’t assume such things.

Now, credit for the palette goes to SIL #2, who introduced me to it when I visited her in the UK in 2012. I have paid this recommendation forward to a lot of my friends, who have also gotten their hands on it. Best friend MO, and SIL #1 also have this palette – what kind of friend or sister would I be to allow them to live a life without it? Urban Decay isn’t stocked or sold in Australia (though there is some talk that Urban Decay is coming to Myer), so it takes some dedication and effort to source it! I personally think that Naked really revolutionised the palette market – the amount of nude and basic shade palettes that have come out since is astounding. I managed to get my hands on a previous Urban Decay palette which was definitely before their Naked fame, and it was all bright and vibrant colours – the type that you will use once in a blue moon. I actually gifted it to a friend, who I imagine has used it during that one-off blue moon season.

So, that’s my personal history with Urban Decay and the Naked palette itself. The palette then led me into trying some other Urban Decay products, and let’s just say, the possibility of it coming to Myer is very exciting! Urban Decay, in my opinion, has some extremely high quality products, and their prices really aren’t as ridiculous as they could be – though who knows what their price point will be in Australia?

There are some imitations and attempts to recreate Naked out there – Chi Chi have a palette that pretty much looks like the same thing! I haven’t tried this product, nor am I interested in doing so. I think the price and the brand will make it a decent purchase for a teenager or student looking for a budget nude palette.

Chi Chi’s Nude Palette

As for the original… behold!

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Isn’t it lovely? Now, my disclaimer is that my palette did not come with the pencil that is featured in this image (courtesy of the Urban Decay website), but instead came with a flat eyeshadow brush (you will see it in my photo below). I only recently started using it (I have a habit of hoarding pretty things) and I was surprised how good quality it is – surprised because it’s a palette-included brush, not because I expected anything less of Urban Decay.

The shades in this palette are just divine. For someone of my Indian-subcontinent complexion, it has the ideal shades and pigmentation. The quality of the packaging is decent – it travels well, it doesn’t collect too much loose shadow inside, and has a fairly decent quality mirror included. The pigment quality and the range of colours is really what makes this palette so gorgeous. It has a great range of classic nude shades, and can create a huge range of looks. Classic gold eyes, soft smokey eyes, a matte nude look, or intense smokey eyes. I personally don’t use this palette for work looks, but I think it could easily be done.

My favourite shade has to be ‘Sidecar’ – it’s just such a beautiful shade, and so highly pigmented. It’s not too gold, not too nude, not too shiny, not too bland – this is the one I’m most likely to ‘hit the pan’ on first. The only negative comment I would make on this beloved palette is that it comes with limited matte shades – only two. It really caters for glossy, shiny, eye-catching looks, rather than simple matte nude looks. Personally, if I’m trying to come up with a very matte eye, I’ll search for my Smashbox Masterclass 2 palette  (reviewed here).

Would I buy it again? Without a doubt.
Who would I recommend this to? Anyone looking for classic gold shades, or someone who doesn’t like to feel left out in the beauty world.
Is it value for money? Without a doubt – 2 years of extremely regular use, and I’ve yet the get close to finishing any of the shades.
How can you get it? Through a generous friend travelling through the UK (Debenhams) or USA (Sephora) – the RRP is $US52.00. Alternatively, if you want to trust Beautybay (there are mixed reviews, and I’ve never personally used it), they stock it for $AUS81.70, with free international delivery.

Bad Gal…

A reader has requested that I review something that I don’t love, which is a challenge I accept. I had started planning and dreaming of all the blog entries about all the products I love, so to think of a product I do not currently care for involved some deep thought. Then my mind fell to the brand Benefit, and my limited exposure to it. As a rule, I can’t stand their packaging, and packaging is what draws me in for the purchase (as well as price and reviews, but initially packaging). Their mascara products however, are marketed quite well, and almost don’t fit with the rest of the brand’s image. So, I decided to give one of their mascaras a chance, specifically the “Bad Gal Lash” mascara.

One word: ordinary. What a nightmare adjective. I can’t even say I hated the product – at least that would give the product the dignity of some passion. But no, I didn’t hate it nor did I love it. I just found it extremely ordinary. It was another acquisition on my US trip, which meant I had limited time and opportunity to research the range of mascaras and make a well-informed choice. My travel partner, SAK, had previously used the “They’re Real” mascara, and she recommended avoiding that item altogether. So, I ended up with Bad Gal.

How disappointing. How very disappointing. What makes it an ordinary mascara is its lack of magic, there is nothing remarkable or worth mentioning about it. The only thing that makes me reach for it at all is the fact that I spent money on it, and it looks like it should do a better job – so I must be doing something wrong, and I need to try it again. But no… it is not my technique, it is not the weather, it is not the moon aligning with the sun impacting it’s ability to make my lashes look impressive. It just isn’t very special.

ImageThe brush looks so luscious, the formula looks so thick, but it is neither of those things. I was hoping for extreme volume and thickness, but it just doesn’t translate from the wand to my eyelashes in this way. I also get a lot of product falling and smudging from this during the day which is extremely unusual for me – I rarely get panda eyes during the day. For the cost of this mascara versus the end result, I just don’t think this will get me back to the Benefit counter.

All in all, I think there are a lot of better products on the market that are more affordable and generally do a better job. Of course, I guess this is what I get for steering away from a Priceline brand, but even I have my Priceline limits.

Would I buy it again? Never. 
Who would I recommend it to? Die-hard Benefit fans, or those just looking for a decent coat of colour and have the money to burn. 
Is it value for money? Definitely not – RRP is $38.00 – plenty of options when spending that amount. 
How can you get it? Benefit counters in Myer stores nationally.

Rub a dub dub… Hot Sugar Scrub

Excuse the extremely tacky headline. I don’t know what I was thinking. I could change it, but I will not.

Yesterday was my birthday, or better yet, this weekend was my birthday weekend. If any of my readers were looking for a new circle of friends, or a new family, I would highly recommend mine. I had a great day, it was a beautifully cool, rainy day (I can’t stand feeling super hot), and I consumed many delicious beverages and some delicious food also.

I was lucky enough to receive lots of amazing gifts – I love stuff, I love buying stuff, I love giving stuff, and I love receiving stuff, so birthday gifts are always loved and appreciated. I got a huge range of gifts yesterday, but interestingly I received a number of beauty products! My best friend, MO, gave me four products, all completely different and unrelated to each other, and her disclaimer was that they must be reviewed for this blog. I won’t ruin the surprise of what they are, but I am really excited!

Which brings me to today’s product, which I also find exciting. It doesn’t look that thrilling, but I promise you, the contents are amazing.

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Now, I’ve known of the brand Sanctuary Spa for a long time. I had a cousin from the UK visit about 3 years ago, and she gave my mum some sort of elaborate body and bath gift set, which my mother politely thanked her for, and packed away somewhere. I’ll talk about my mum’s relationship with makeup and skincare some other time, but at this stage I’ll mention that she actually is an avid user of specific products and will use those things religiously – but she is very hard to convert to new products. So, she got this lovely gift pack, stored it away, and I never got a chance to check it out.

Fast forward a few years, and Priceline is stocking a huge range of Sanctuary products. Firstly, the packaging for these products is divine – I love anything minimalist, but at the same time, shiny. This body scrub is just a giant tub really, but their other products are colour coded based on the skin type, with simple product explanations. None of this rubbish about ingredients being extracted from a rare bush on a never travelled mountain in a tribal country, just a description about how to use it, and it’s purpose. I’ve purchased a face product, which I’ll review at a later date.

Back to this body scrub… I actually am not a huge user of body scrubs. I have used exfoliating towels in the shower since my university days, and have never really amped it up or changed it. But I had such faith in the Sanctuary brand, that I decided to give this scrub a chance. I am really glad that I did! First day I used it, I noticed an immediate difference when I applied body lotion, particularly on my very-neglected legs. They felt smoother, and after using it for a week, it’s helped clear an ingrown hair that I had on my knee. However, it isn’t just the result that made me love the product, but the experience. Now, the box description claims it is a “thermal scrub [that] gently warms, invigorates and refines […]”. I was suss about how ‘warm’ it would get.

I think warm is an understatement – it actually felt hot. It was just for a moment, but it was so much warmer than I expected! It felt so nice in summer, imagine how good it will feel in winter?! The product amount in the tub is huge (550g), so I’m not particularly stressed about it running out anytime soon. I used about 3 fingers to scoop out the scrub, and that was enough to scrub both legs. It feels so good, I highly recommend taking a small amount, using it on one body part, then getting another small amount, using it on another, and so forth. I haven’t bothered doing that as the tub is so huge. I don’t have a decent resting place for it in the shower and I fear too much water getting in if I keep opening and closing the lid with the water running. It has very obvious exfoliating granules in it, which I personally loved – when a product claims to exfoliate, I want to feel it exfoliate. There is very little smell – if anything, it smells more medicinal than aromatic, but I don’t think it has a very obvious scent. I wish I could understand how the product warms up so much, but unfortunately I don’t have a chemist friend who can explain this witchcraft to me.

Would I buy it again? Definitely. The heating sensation is just so nice!
Who would I recommend it to? Anyone looking for an introductory body scrub product, or anyone who really enjoys the ‘spa at home’ experience.
Is it value for money? $19.99 is the RRP, I got it at with 20% off, so $15.99. It’s a huge amount of product for the money, especially when you think about how much an ordinary supermarket brand “scrub” costs.
How can you get it? From my beloved Priceline.

P.S. Sorry to all those that received a second version of this post in their email – I had my first blogging disaster, but SIL #2 saved the day!

Who knew oil would clean so well?

Dermalogica is a much loved brand of my skincare loving friends. Back in my money-poor, time-rich days of university, essentially all my local-living girlfriends and I went to the same skincare salon. Of course, being money-poor and time-rich, meant that I looked at products regularly, but rarely purchased. Dermalogica was one of their much-loved range of products, but I never got the fuss. Why would I pay $50 for a facial wash that removes my makeup, when I can buy one at Coles for $9?

Fast forward a few years, and now I’m slightly more money-rich, and increasingly time-poor, which hasn’t impacted how much I browse products. My beauty therapist left that salon, I was lost for a while, and then she was found. Like a line of ants heading towards a picnic basket, a number of my friends and I returned to her. And she was still lovin’ Dermalogica. One of the greatest things I managed to add to my skincare routine after entering gainful employment, were regular facials. I did also increase my spending habits, especially for products I was placing against my skinSomething that came up during a facial once was the Dermalogica PreCleanse.

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OK, I GET IT NOW. I get why people are crazy lovers of Dermalogica. This one product changed my view of the entire brand. The packaging is nothing, it matches the uniform look of all Dermalogica products, but oh dear, the product inside is amazing. Essentially, it is an oil that you apply to dry skin, massage into the skin, and it removes all your day’s muck. Now, I’ve been dying to review this product because I love it so much. And this is why – it really does get off all of your makeup. Rub longer, and more and more comes off.  And it feels so good! It has this amazing medicinal smell, nothing overly fragrant or fake. Once you’ve removed all that you have the patience for, add water, it becomes a milky liquid and it washes off. No residue, no oily remains. To be honest, my $9 cleanser was getting most of my face makeup off, what tips this over the edge is that it gets all my eye makeup off! So when I move onto an actual cleanser to clean my face, it isn’t still working off the makeup.

Now, before I officially put in all my review information, I want you to know there is no short-cut to this product. I got a clever idea one day, that since it’s basically just an oil (I was terrible at chemistry – in hindsight I realise that how can it just be an oil when it becomes milky when mixed with water?), why don’t I get some other oil and try to see if it works the same magic, at a fraction of the cost?

It does not.

I decided to use an after-wax oil (because I’m not stupid, I’m going to use an oil I got from a skincare salon, not olive oil) – OH DEAR. Needless to say, I came to appreciate the step that Dermalogica lovingly refers to as “milky emulsion”. I ended up using a plethora of products to get the oil off my face, and then additional products to get my makeup off, and then increased my prayers that my skin wouldn’t explode overnight from that hideous oil. So… do not use an alternative oil-like product. And definitely not oil.

Would I buy it again? I’m already on my second bottle, I love this stuff. I started using the product about 18 months ago, so you get plenty out of it.
Who would I recommend it to? Anyone who isn’t interested in using multiple products to remove makeup; anyone sick of using their cleanser multiple times to remove makeup, and then actually clean; anyone who loves medicinal-smelling products, like me.
Is it value for money? Yes. And I can finally be a pretentious Dermalogica lover.
How can you get it? Any salon that stocks Dermalogica. RRP $51.00. I never buy RRP for anything, so I’m buying mine online at http://www.skincarestore.com.au, they regularly do 20/25/30% off products.

The only real con (beside the con that this product convinced me to apply oil to my face) is that you have to be careful to have dry skin when applying this – and careless me, I often get into the shower, wet hands, and then realise that I’m doomed and cannot use PreCleanse at that time.

Not the most flattering name… Clinique Chubby Stick

As the title suggests, the product name isn’t the most attractive nor flattering. But the product? Well, this wouldn’t be a blog entry by me, if it didn’t involve a lengthy back story.

My best friend, MO, has been a long time supporter and lover of all things Clinique. I’ve always personally found it too white for me – light foundation shades, light blusher shades, light lip colours, etc. I’ve always perceived it as a brand for blondes who want to amp things up with brown feature makeup.

Oh, how wrong I was! I can’t comment on the foundation shades, or blusher shades, as I’m still a newbie to Clinique, but I can comment on their lip colours. Specifically, I can comment on the Chubby Stick. I bought this off the back of MO’s recommendation, and for $USD15, it was a reasonably priced risk.

ARGH. I love this product. You won’t see me rave about lip products on this blog a lot (I’ll explain some other time), but wow, I love this balm.

ChubbyStick

It is marketed as a balm, which is right up my alley for daily use. My daily work makeup doesn’t often include a lipstick, but I’m always interested in a balm. I’ve left my Lip Smackers days behind me, and have never really been interested in tinted balms since. For daily use, this is ideal. Lightly tinted, non-drying, non-sticky formula and a range of colours makes this easy to enjoy. My shade of choice is “Mega Melon” which looks like nothing on the packaging, but looks so good once it’s on. Clinique, I apologise for being so racist towards you for so long.

mega melon

Would I buy it again? Without a doubt.
Who would I recommend it to? People who love lip colour, but can’t commit to the maintenance of a lipstick for the day.
Is it value for money? I’ve used mine endlessly for the past 6 months, and it’s still going. Definitely worth the price.
How can you get it? Clinique counters in Myer department stores, $AUD35.

Seedless Watermelon

Now, it’s only entry #4, so I’m still finding my feet with this blog. I keep thinking, should I post things I love? Should I post things in a strategic order? Should I develop some sort of pattern?

I think posting things I love is ideal at this stage – nobody wants to read post after post bagging products, or products with significant cons. I want you to understand and see why I love stuff so much.

Which brings me to my favourite nail polish currently… Essie’s ‘Watermelon’ shade. Now, I love all things watermelon. The fruit. The colour. Watermelon nail polish, watermelon lipstick, toy watermelons – all things watermelon. However, I’ve neevr loved Essie, nor understood the craze. Essie hit the mainstream here in Australia via the department store Myer, but as usual, Myer ruined a decent brand. The display at my local Myer quickly dwindled, they always had the same boring colours marked down, and anything decent was an inexplicable $17. Now, I’m an OPI diehard, I’ll pay $20 for those – but another everyday polish brand, selling products for >$15? I dunno…

During my US trip of 2013, I saw that North America was having a love affair with Essie. OPI stands were in a disarray, shades were impossible to find, but the Essie stand? Impeccably organised, everything where it should be, and all the colours of the rainbow, and everything in between. A sucker for clean marketing, I bought into it. They had a bridal range, that although the colours didn’t interest me, the names did. With three close friends getting married last year, I was very interested. However, with names like “Using My Maiden Name” “Meet Me At The Altar” and “No Baggage Please”, I didn’t think these would make the cute gifts for my bride friends as I originally though they might. However, I saw a blue shade that matched my bridesmaid dress for my best friend’s wedding. At the time of my trip, we hadn’t discussed any nitty gritty details about nails or potential colours – but I couldn’t resist the opportunity, so bought it.

Ughhhhhhhhh. What a disgusting formula, what a disgusting colour, what a disgusting purchase. It was a hideous translucent blue, that required 5 coats to look half-decent, and it really wasn’t worth the $US12-ish (which compared to OPI prices in the US, was considered expensive). So, I gave up on Essie, and committed my nail life to OPI.

Fast forward a few months, and Priceline released Essie in their stores. An organised stand, a discount voucher, items included in store-wide sales, and I just couldn’t resist. And this is how Essie ‘Watermelon’ entered my life. 40% off at Priceline, bringing the original RRP of $16.95 down to $10.15, allowed me to trust again.

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I LOVE this polish. I’ve taken it with me to my local nail salon a number of times, as there is never anything as worthy in the salon’s pink range. It easily lasts a week, chip free. It does wear down at the tip of the nail after 5 or so days, but it isn’t actually a magical potion, it’s just nail polish. The colour is divine. The formula is divine. The brush is divine. Who knew I could love a nail polish so much?

Would I buy it again? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. It is my summer version of my winter-staple OPI “Malaga Wine”.
Who would I recommend it to? Anybody who is a pink lover, like myself.
Value for money? Who buys anything full price at Priceline? Wait for the sale, it’s definitely worth $10-$12.
How can you get it? I’ve only mentioned Priceline 3 times.

An evil Sephora purchase… Smashbox Masterclass 2 Palette

I have to start this entry by apologising for a Sephora product – this means it is likely to be a product that we pay 10x more for in Australia, and will quite likely be impossible to get. But I can’t resist – it is a palette that I really enjoy – second to my Urban Decay Naked palette – but a review on that for my current readership would be like preaching to the converted.

So, as I have clearly mentioned, this palette is a Sephora purchase from a US trip in 2013. I umm-ed and aah-ed over this palette, and finally succumbed to it on one of my final Sephora visits before returning home.

An excellent decision…

smashbox_masterclass2This palette was essentially designed for me and the colours I enjoy and suit my skin tone. There is a huge range of neutral shades (why did they bother putting in that topaz blue shade??), and unlike my beloved Naked palette, it has a huge range of matte shadows. 28 shadows, 4 liners, 6 blushes, and 2 highlighters. The total package, really.

The pigment quality is excellent. The value for money is excellent ($59USD). The design is practical enough, but nothing beautiful – it has a shiny silver cover, it essentially looks like a small book. It has these two plastic covers for each side of the palette to stop the spread of powder, with the names printed on these covers. The names are what make the covers tacky for me. I haven’t given the liners much time or effort, I trialled it recently for a look I want to use for a 20’s themed party next week – they went on well, but the test is if they wear well for an event. The highlighters don’t do anything for me, as I have a gorgeous MAC one I use regularly – however I recently gave them a go, and they are as nice as the range of shadows – go on well, stay on well, and highly pigmented.

Would I buy it again? Quite possibly – it would really depend on what I was in the market for – it’s not exciting enough to repurchase for myself, but I would probably buy it as a gift. Who would I recommend it to? Anyone looking for a palette that has it all – it would be great for a traveller like me, who isn’t content with taking a few shadows only, but also wants to maximise space to buy more products.
Value for money? Without a doubt.
How can I get it? I cannot source it in Aus, apart from Ebay, which lists it as $99USD for the product and $72AUD for postage – errr, it’s not worth that. But if you have a kind friend going to the US, who asks you if you have any products you want, and is willing to bring a palette – this is a solid performer.
Con: The only con of the palette is it’s guide – it has three looks that it details, that actually are quite gorgeous – but they use a grand total of around 10 shadows – what do you expect me to do with the other 18 Smashbox? Why won’t you guide me?

Until next time, reader…