Brows maketh the face

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When I look back on my high school years, I think of all those hairs I tweezed out of my eyebrows that I’ll never see again. In my adolescent years (and very likely in your adolescent years, unless you are around 20) THIN & SHARP are the words that come to mind when we imagine the perfect brow. How far we have come in the past decade – over tweezing is out, patches be gone and the perfect brow is thick and neat. If I walk around my local shopping centre, I don’t think I see anybody under the age of 25 with thin brows. Of course, this isn’t always a good thing – like any trend, some people just take it TOO FAR.

Anastasia Beverly Hills can be credited with some of the biggest improvements in the brow game with her pencils and powders. If you want to improve your brow look, read on…

(Disclaimer: I haven’t talked about concealer or eyebrow brushes – consider this a beginners guide to eyebrows)

Pencil

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If you are new to getting your eyebrows on fleek, or want something low-fuss, this stuff is THE SH*T. Easy and quick to use, huge range of colours and completely natural finish. You can buy it direct from the Anastasia Beverly Hills site, or from Sephora Aus.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Perfect Brow Pencil
RRP: $26.00 (USD) / $42.00
Stockists: Anastasia Beverly Hills / Sephora 

Powder

smashbox-powder

Anybody who watches Cammy on Snapchat [she’s an eyebrow queen from LA / find her @blossombeautylo] knows that the secret to a completely natural brow is the ombre finish at the start of the brow. For a long time I only used powder, but I find the ABH pencil is quicker and more precise than this powder. If you have unruly brows, the wax in this set is useful. Unfortunately, I think this powder is either on it’s way out or just isn’t worthy of being in Australia. Keep your eyes peeled if you’re overseas.

Smashbox Brow Tech
RRP: $26.00 (USD)
Stockists: www.sephora.com

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It is completely annoying to read recommendations of products not available in Australia, so I’ll include a product that you most definitely can find locally. Benefit has really upped their brow range this year and although I’m satisfied with my current tools, I think they are worth checking out if you are keen to find a decent product at your local department store. Powder and wax combo that has 6 shades.

Benefit Brow Zings
RRP: $55.00
Stockist: Myer 

Gel

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If you were not naturally blessed with a lot of hair in your brow, but have a decent shape and want to thicken up your look, use a gel to add some fake hair. This will help even up any patches or thinness and will blend in effortlessly. If you fear any of these other products or think drawing it on is too much, this is the stuff for you.

Benefit 3D Browtones
RRP: $42.00
Stockist: Myer 

Cream

pomade

I admit this stuff is the scariest of the lot – the almighty pomade. It’s not a product I personally want to use, but the severe nature of the pomade just doesn’t suit me and nor do I have the patience for it. Keep in mind, I am olive skinned and have naturally dark brows (no $$$ spent on eyebrow tints for me), so I’ve found the pomade finish is just a bit too much for me. If you have some serious bald patches or are seriously faking it when it comes to your brows (i.e. you don’t have much hair there), this stuff is for you. You will need a stiff angled brush for this as well as a spare 10 or so minutes.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade
RRP: $18.00 (USD) / $32.00
Stockists: Anastasia Beverly Hills / Sephora 

Waxing, Tweezing and in between

My final warning to you is about what to do to care for your brows. You can have all the pomades and powders that Anastasia can think of, but they are useless to you if the base is hopeless. Only tweeze stray hairs, don’t even think about touching those long hairs your face has been growing for God knows how long! Find a decent brow technician, and find what suits you – tweezing, waxing or threading. Whatever you do, DO NOT go to a walk-in salon that does not specialise in brows – you will be butchered, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll never see those hairs return. You may be slaying in all other aspects, but rubbish brows will be your downfall. Go to someone who will see you as an ongoing client – save your walk-in waxing for arms and legs.

Remember, BROWS MAKETH YOUR FACE.

And if irritation occurs, discontinue use… 

Your at-home nail saviour

I feel like a bit of a Jerry Seinfeld when I say this… but have you ever noticed how crazy nails have gotten? I know I have mentioned this before, but it doesn’t appear to be a trend set aside for beauty guru’s such as Dress Your Face and it doesn’t appear to be dying? My breaking point was watching the server at a local cafe attempt to type in my order on a touch screen and then watch her prepare my coffee – I do not want that bacteria hell hole near something I am about to consume, kthx.

crazy nails

I think these nails continue to gain followers simply because you can’t escape them – walk into any nail salon and it is assumed you are there for acrylic claws with Shellac. In fact, I went into a nail salon for a polish on my natural nails and took a polish colour with me and they looked at me like I had walked in and asked them to paint my body in the polish. So, the only way to escape them is either by being very firm about what you want or by having an understanding nail artist (as I know some of my friends do have). Otherwise, you’re on your own – which is JUST FINE. It involves a tiny bit of investment and planning initially – but once you’re set, you’ll be loving life.

So, let me help you work out your at-home nail salon.

Cuticle Softener

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This makes a huge difference and I have no doubt this is much higher quality product than anything used in a walk-in nail salon. This stuff really makes you feel like you are in a salon and will make the cuticle push-back/removal process much easier.
$15.99 Priceline

Cuticle trimmer

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They seem like a pricey investment, but they really are worth the investment to amp up your at-home salon.
$30.59 at Priceline

Cuticle stick

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Cheap as chips and you can find these anywhere – supermarket, $2 store, pharmacy, etc.
$2.99 Priceline

File

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It’s up to you whether you want to invest in a metal file or a nail board like this one. I like to use either, but like the idea of this kind of nail board which can be disposed of eventually. Again, cheap as chips.
Sally Hansen $2.95 at Priceline

Nail Oil

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This stuff may seem unnecessary, but remember, we are creating a salon experience here! In fact, by adding this to your regime, you are creating a better experience! This oil will last you forever – I have the same bottle from over 5 years ago! You should see an improvement in nail health by applying this to your nails after filing.
$15.99 Priceline

Quick drying nail polish

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Regular readers know I love all things Essie and this stuff is the shiz. Essie ‘Good to Go’ quick drying top coat will make you very happy. If you’re anything like me, the time you get to do your nails is close to bedtime which means you are at high risk of a fabric imprint! This stuff dries so quickly, so you can go to sleep and apply it in the morning or better yet, apply it about 10 mins before bedtime and sleep easy.
$17.95 Priceline

So, as you can see, you can create a salon at home with affordable items from Priceline. The beautiful thing about Priceline is that it will all go on sale at some point – so you can slowly add to your collection as items are marked down. You can resist the salon experience and have gorgeous nails – think of all the money and time saved!

And if irritation occurs… discontinue use. 

Sigma Love

Hello all! As always, I apologise for my looooooooong delay in blogging. I’ve been feeling a bit uninspired, and didn’t have much time to take snaps of products, so blogging fell to the side. I am still committed to this blog however, so to my tens of readers: never fear!

This past weekend I popped into Parramatta Westfield. I really rate this as a shopping centre, it has a tonne of shops and they generally have a good variety of stock. I went to another centre recently and although they had a lot of my favourite stores, it felt like they had a grand total stocktake of about 5 products. Boo.

Anyways, imagine my surprise when I spotted a Sigma Brushes Pop Up Store! A friend had told me about this, but I wasn’t really interested enough to go just to check out these brushes. I’ve looked at them online quite a bit given their popularity and reasonable prices, but like most of my online purchases, I’ve never progressed past the “Add to Cart” stage. So a Pop Up Store was perfect – I could touch and feel them, and see if they really were worth the gamble.

Now, at the time I thought it was actually Sigma who had organised the Pop Up, because there was literally no other branding or signs to be seen. I discovered upon purchase that it was actually run by Redefining Beauty, an online reseller of Sigma Brushes. Adore Beauty has also started stocking Sigma.

I ended up buying 3 brushes – the P86, the 3DHD Kabuki Brush and the E25 – for a total of $81. Considering my last brush purchased was the M.A.C. 187 Duo Fibre Face Brush for exactly $81, three brushes seem like a good deal! These brushes were so good that they warranted this blog post, in fact. I really wanted to post about them before the Pop Up Store closes (it’s open until this Saturday). So… my verdict.

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The E25 Blending Brush ($20)

I’ll start with the most underwhelming of the brushes – I’m a realist, I’m not going to lie and say they were all amazing to feel better about the $81 I spent. The E25 is essentially a slightly smaller competitor to the M.A.C. 217 blending brush. At $20 it’s cheaper than the $37 M.A.C. version, but is it the same? Not at all. Spend the extra $17 for the 217! Of course, you might be like me and just want every brush under the sun – in which case, if you want an extra blender, go for this. It’s pretty nice, but it’s just not the same.

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The P86 Precision Tapered ($27)

This was pretty bloody exciting to use and I don’t think the photo does it justice. This little beauty is like a sophisticated under-eye concealer brush – rather than just being flat and even-length hairs, it has a range of lengths to create angles – perfect to get close to the eye! I love using the Beauty Blender sponge for my under-eyes but this brush is like a combo of fingers and a sponge – dream!

Sigma 3D Kabuki Brush
3DHD Kabuki Brush ($34)

Ugh, how is this only on Page 3 of the Redefining Beauty website when brushes are sorted by popularity?! This is such a unique brush and good value for $34. It’s like… a sophisticated version of the Real Techniques Buffing Brush. Don’t you love that when a brush has uneven hairs, I consider it sophisticated?  But seriously, this brush is great fun. I don’t think it will completely replace my obsessive use of the RT Buffing Brush, but it has decreased my distrust of Kabuki brushes.

So, if you’re in the market for some brushes and don’t want to pay crazy M.A.C. prices, check these out. As always, if irritation occurs, discontinue use…

Beauty Cults: Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette

A beauty cult product… these are always tricky to review, because they tend to be hideously overpriced and sometimes difficult to source. This palette is the former, but not the latter. Easy to find, crazy price that makes you wonder.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette - HN

This stuff is bloody gorgeous however, and well worth the hype. Powder that looks and feels like velvet, and actually stays on! Now, the palette includes three shades: Dim Light, Incandescent Light and Radiant Light. As the owner of brown skin, my two shades of choice are Dim Light and Incandescent Light (the middle and furthest right shades in the above picture). The lightest shade, Radiant Light is just a bit too light for my skin tone, and I feel it doesn’t really show up.

Unfortunately, it comes with no brush (not even a cheap brush!), so I’ve paired it with the Make Up For Ever Double-ended Sculpting Brush – 158, which is the most divine brush I’ve ever owned – incredibly soft, multipurpose, no loss of hair and washes perfectly. I use the contoured side of the brush for bronzer/contouring powder, and then use the large fluffy side of the brush for the Ambient Lighting Palette. The brush is also hideously priced, but worth the $$$ for makeup lovers. MUFE Double Brush

The Ambient Lighting Palette is a great all-rounder highlighting powder, and understandably a beauty holy grail product! If you’re not into highlighting (I actually wasn’t until I picked up this palette), find a cheap but decent highlighter from a drugstore brand, and try it out. It’s quite amazing to see such a light powder which has so little colour give so much depth and dimension to a finished look. Once you get it right, it’s really hard to go back from using it!

[I recommend the Milani highlighters for the American readers or Revlon for any Australian readers who want to try out a reasonably priced highlighter before embarking on a big purchase like the Ambient Lighting Palette. I personally like powder highlighters more than liquid ones, but feel free to try your hand at whichever one to find what you like.]

Would I buy it again? For sure, but hopefully I won’t need another one for a looooong time. As you can see from the photo above, even with fairly regular use, I haven’t made a dent in the powders!
Who would I recommend it to? Anyone who is a passionate user of highlighters.
Is it value for money? It’s pricey, but you do get three shades in it – there’s definitely more hideously priced, less useful products on the market. At least this one you can use daily!
How can you get it? Mecca Cosmetica – $76.00 [it’s called the Ambient Powder Wardrobe on their website]

As always… if irritation occurs, discontinue use.

So you want to wash your brush collection?

Now that you’ve rushed out and purchased all my previously recommended brushes, the next step after enjoying them, is washing them. I used to dread washing my brushes, but I’ve gotten myself into a pretty good rhythm now. I actually don’t own a spot cleaner, but I can usually survive until the end of the week when I can do a deep clean of my brushes. For those following along at home, you will need the following:

Required Items
Water source (I just use my bathroom sink)
Johnsons Baby Shampoo (I’ve had a medium sized bottle for over 2 years now)
A towel (I use a hand towel)

As you can, a fairly simple list. I try to get my brushes washed after I’ve applied my makeup for work, but before I head out for the day – so my time frame is quite short! Especially as the weather cools, I like to give my brushes most of the day to dry – so if I’m heading somewhere that evening and need to apply makeup, I’ll either postpone the washing, or leave the brushes I need out from the wash.

Now, before I start washing, I make sure I’ve laid the towel flat (I have a bath tub step in my bathroom, so I put a lot of stuff on there, including my brush towel), and I roll up one side of it, so that I can create an angle.

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You may commence washing. I wet my hands,  wet the brush, squirt in a tiny bit of baby shampoo, and start working up a lather using the brush. This gets out a lot of the product; I use a back and forth motion, as well as create circles (it depends on the type of brush and length of hairs). I try to push the shampoo and lather to the dips between my fingers to create a slight groove – so to push the brush hairs around a lot more, and dislodge any tougher or deeper product. I don’t wash the shampoo right away – I rest the brush above the sink, and then wash them all out at the end. In my mind, I like to think the shampoo is using that extra time to eat away any remaining product. Once I’ve done a decent batch of the brushes, I’ll wash out the soap, and lay the brushes on the towel.

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Left : Before working up a lather
Below: Working up a lather

 

For the sake of the life of my brushes, I try to avoid tipping the brush in a way that the water can travel down the brush hairs – I don’t want any glue damaged. I also give them a quick back and forth wipe on the edge of the towel before laying them to dry for the rest of the day.

 

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So, that’s it! Really simple, if I’m really short on time, I just do a few brushes (you’ll notice in the photo above that my brushes aren’t perfectly white – I’ve rushed it, they usually go perfectly clean). We all know it’s good to wash them weekly to stop bacteria growth, but unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. It’s especially hard to tell yourself to do it when you’re not a makeup artist, and know that the brushes are only touching your skin. But it really does make a difference to how your brushes feel on your skin, and then there’s always the benefit of decreasing your chances of breaking out from dirty brushes. 🙂

Until next time, reader… 

So you want to start a brush collection? (Face)

Where does the week go? It’s almost Easter weekend, hooray for extra long weekends! My weekend will be spent working from home, playing with new products, and some light socialising. I hope you all have a great weekend!

So, following on from last week’s eye brush information, this is the face brush collection post. HUGE disclaimer: the MAC brush prices in this post will possibly create a deep rage within you – I own the bloody things and I was horrified when I saw the prices!

So, for foundation brushes, I have two recommendations:

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Real Techniques Buffing Brush
Now this is a cult product that I couldn’t resist buying. I’ve been a long time flat foundation brush user, so converting me was going to be hard. I picked up the Real Techniques Core Collection brush set from Priceline (20% off – $38.00), just to try out the Buffing Brush. I can tell you, that this brush lives up to the hype. It really does buff foundation into the skin beautifully, and creates a really soft finish. It requires minimal buffing effort, and makes all decent foundations work into the skin. It’s a synthetic fibre brush, which really doesn’t excite me, but it does keep the price low, and make it incredibly easy to keep clean. Unfortunately, it only comes in the Core Collection set, and can’t be bought on it’s own. The kit comes with a contour brush, a flat foundation brush and a concealer brush – none of these excited nor interested me.
RRP: $44.99

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The Body Shop Foundation Brush
Now, this has been my foundation application go-to for years. I have repurchased this twice, and still have it in my collection, despite my recent addition of the RT Buffing Brush mentioned above. Again, it’s a synthetic fibre brush, so it’s not exciting, but I do find it easy enough to clean. Synthetic fibres seem to be easier to clean for products that build-up so easily and quickly, like foundation. I’ve never had any hair shedding from this brand, and really do recommend their brush range for a decently priced brush. I’ve repurchased this brush after years of daily use, once the hairs have lost their shape. I think The Body Shop makeup and tools ranges are really underrated, and recommend checking them out if you’re in the market for a mid-range priced product.
RRP: $27.95

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MAC 109 Small Contour Brush
Now, I don’t think this is the be-all and end-all in contour brushes. I really don’t think you need the MAC version of this brush, and instead only included this product so you can see the shape and design of the brush head, because I do think it’s a useful brush to own. This allows for easy application of blush and bronzer, and helps keep product to a really defined area. I actually don’t use the MAC version of this, and instead have a lovely Lancome version which came in a beauty gift pack – win! This is a combination natural fibre brush, for those interested.
RRP: $62.00

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MAC 187 Duo Fibre Face Brush
Now this I really do love, and use my MAC version of this daily. My first face brush hunt was for a decent face brush, as I love to apply powder, and that was my first step in skin coverage. I’ve tried Shu Uemura (had lots of hair shedding), I’ve tried The Body Shop (was a bit too uncontrolled for my liking), and then finally decided to try the Duo Fibre. I’m not going to pretend that I understand the science behind the double fibres, but whatever it is, works. The combination allows for decent buffing whilst also lightly applying powder – no cakey finish, just enough to take the shine off. There are plenty of dupes on the market – Models Prefer have a huge range of brushes, and the Artiste range available in Myer is pretty decent for it’s price point. The MAC version is a Goat & Synthetic combination fibre brush.
RRP: $85.00

I hope you found this helpful, feel free to leave a comment if you have any requests or questions, particularly regarding brushes.