Lock It In: Primers

Hello to you all on the interweb! Hoping you had a wonderful Easter long weekend – did your weekend feel like it was only 2 days, like mine? I hope you had plenty of chocolate and enjoyed some makeup adventures like I did!

So, the wedding season is fast approaching for me, which means long days and blending until my arms are numb. This also means I need to seriously consider all my options to really set my makeup and lock it in. Just a heads up that this will be part of a series of blog posts (primers, powders and sprays) – get excited!

STAGE 1: PRIMER
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Take this advice seriously – if you want a polished finish, and want your makeup to have maximum staying power – use a good primer. There are a lot on the market that target specific skin concerns, so choose wisely.

Smashbox

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My go-to primer for regular use – Smashbox Photo Finish (RRP $58/Mecca Maxima). They have a great range – hydrating, pore minimising, blemish control, colour correcting and SPF. Get a sample and see which, if any, suits you. If it doesn’t work for you, fear not – there are plenty of other brands.

Hourglass

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This is a much raved-about primer, and is a much simpler choice than the Smashbox range. Hourglass have two primers – oil-free ($83/$115) and an oil-filled serum ($104) – it’s not actually called oil-filled, obviously! They both come in a travel size ($29/$35). I have a little sample bottle that has been useful on many occasions – it is my go-to primer when I have a serious party/event.

Urban Decay

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 10.31.01 am.pngI’m not a regular use of this primer, but that is related to allergies rather than the actual design of the product. This is an eyeshadow specific one – for a serious event, I will prime my face and then prime my eyes separately. I do think this is a really decent primer and for a while, I didn’t react to it, but sadly, now it’s out of my rotation. Easily sourced in Australia, available at Mecca ($33).

Soap & Glory

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I know it’s highly irritating to read about products that aren’t available in Aus – but for those curious as to what I’m using regularly on my eyes, this is the one. I love most things Soap & Glory, and this primer makes me happy. Being the hoarder I am, I buy this in bulk when in the UK (£8/Boots UK).

Face of Australia

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Although I don’t recommend this for party makeup, if you are new to the primer market and want to try something that isn’t going to cost you a lot, I think this stuff fits the bill. I recommend trying it out on a workday to just get a feel for it ($12.95/Priceline).

Laura Mercier

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I have to finish with my favourite. This stuff is THE SHIZ. The staff at the DJ’s Laura Mercier counter will ignore you and act all bothered that you wanted help – so just go it alone. Try all the different types – trust in me and all the YouTube bloggers that bang on about this stuff. There are a wide variety of formulas – radiance, oil-free, hydrating, bronzer, SPF and mineral. I’m not entirely sure what the difference is between say, the hydrating and mineral – let me know if you have the answer. My choice in this range is the Radiance – I bloody love to glow ($50/David Jones).

Make Up For Ever released a range of primers for different skin concerns about 12 months ago and obviously I rushed out and bought it immediately. I had huge hopes but I didn’t feel they lived up to the hype. They don’t make my list of recommended products, but check them out if you are in Sephora sometime.

My final comment on the use of primers is that I don’t think it can truly replace a good moisturiser – so moisturise first, let that set and then slap on your primer. They claim to be a moisturiser replacement but that’s a no from me.

And as always, if irritation occurs, discontinue use… 

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Best of 2014

Happy new year, readers! Hope you have all been enjoying some sort of break, whether you celebrate Christmas or not. I personally don’t celebrate (though I do enjoy it, possibly due to my love of shiny things), so I headed to Hawaii for a beach break. Regular readers will know that I love the USA, and need little encouragement to visit. The Australian dollar isn’t quite as strong as it has been in the past, but Hawaii did not fail me with it’s offerings. I was flying for NYE, which suited me just fine, because I’m a bit of a NYE grinch.

So as 2015 rolls in, I think it’s customary for bloggers to post their 2014 favourites… right? I drafted this very easily, so turns out I had some very clear favourites in 2014. I selected one clear standout product in each category of Skincare, Eyes, Face, Lips, Hair & Nails.

Best of 2014

Skincare Clarins HydraQuench Cream
This stuff is so gorgeous and was a late-2014 discovery. I picked up a Christmas gift set that included this cream, the matching serum and a third item I haven’t even taken out of the bag yet. This cream is extremely hydrating, sinks into the skin beautifully and feels amazing. My only gripe is the packaging – I hate jars you have to dip your fingers into, as it doesn’t seem that hygienic plus I find I use a lot more product. Clarins does great skincare and is really easy to find in department stores and salons. This cream retails at $65.00 [Myer]. Not the cheapest product, but it’s worth the $$$.

Eyes Stila Magnificent Metals Foil Finish Eyeshadow
I did a whole blog post on this, so it’s probably not a big surprise to regular readers that it’s a favourite. This stuff is fiddly to use, definitely not an item for everyday and is crazy expensive – but I haven’t seen much else on the market that does the same job. Retails for $44.00 [Mecca Cosmetica].

Face Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette
2014 saw me increase my highlighter use as part of my everyday routine. Now I’m addicted to using it to add some colour to my face without adding blush. It really adds dimension to my face, and helps fake a healthy glow. I had read a lot about this highlighting palette before picking it up in the US, and after first use I realised why it was the holy grail for so many beauty bloggers. The powder is like velvet, and the tiniest bit goes a long way. Face palettes can sometimes be rubbish, because they try to cater for too many skin tones, but this palette seems universal. Retails for $76.00 [Mecca Cosmetica].

Lips Rimmel Exaggerate Lip Liner
Finally something that does not cost a bomb! I’ve been a long time lover of Rimmel as a brand, but this was my first year of buying the Exaggerate lip liner – which is their automatic wind up pencil. I generally don’t like automatic pencils because I feel they never have a decent point and the wind up mechanism can die before the pencil runs out – but Rimmel does not fail. I picked up the nude shade (the shade name escapes me now) and it quickly became everyday wear. I can’t think of any other product that I used to completion in 2014, but this little number got used up. Not much thinking or risk involved for a product that retails at $12.50 [Priceline].

Hair Moroccan Oil Intense Hydrating Mask
This is another product that made it from a single blog post to the favourites list. When I used it on its own, I liked it, but didn’t love it. Recently I used it in conjunction with a toning shampoo (I’ve become addicted to blonde ombre in 2014 also), and the results were magnificent. Anyone who has ever used a toning shampoo will know that their hair will turn to straw immediately. I used this straight after using the Fudge Purple Shampoo, and not only did my blonde ends look better but my hair felt better than before! Retails for $49.50 [Skincare Store].

Nails Essie Good To Go Topcoat
This may be boring to some, but anyone who loves painting their nails like me will know there is nothing worse than painting your nails and then managing to bump the paint an hour later. This topcoat is fast drying without chipping easily like some other fast-drying polishes do. Extremely shiny, and maintains a manicure for 5-7 days; retails for $17.95 [Priceline].

So that’s it for me! Thank you for those who have been reading along in 2014 – I really appreciate you reading my beauty raves and rants, and look forward to sharing more in 2015.

And remember – if irritation occurs, discontinue use…

Shine bright like a diamond

My disclaimer for this post is that I’m about to rave about a ludicrously priced product that is quite hard to source. I apologise in advance, but it was too stunning to exclude from this blog!

I picked up the Stila Magnificent Metals Foil Finish Eye Shadow with some difficulty during my time in the US. This stuff seemed to be sold out wherever I went, or I would only find one lonely shade. I’d tested out the shadow in Mecca Cosmetica a few months before, and was stunned at the coverage and quality, and how easy it was to use. I was determined to get the gold shade for greatest impact and maximum use (as I regularly wear gold and brown shades). For $US32.00, I wanted this shade [Metallic Gilded Gold], and no other [RRP $AUD44.00].

Stila-Pack

So as you can see, the eye shadow comes in a serious little bundle. It comes with a primer and a mixing plate, and a dropper to use with the primer. I’m slightly obsessive with keeping things new, so after using it, I cleaned it all up and took the dropper out – but if I was going to use this regularly, I could store it with just the dropper in the bottle.

Stila-Open

The texture of this reminds me of a paste; I wouldn’t say it’s a cream, as it’s not as smooth or fine as a cream shadow. I’ve paired this randomly with a concealer brush, but an alternative brush would be the MAC 239.

Stila-Mixing

So it’s a simple procedure – drop the primer into the pan, add the shadow, mix and apply. Upon application, it feels like any cream shadow, but once it sets, it actually feels like what I would imagine eyelash glue would feel like if it was applied to the entire eyelid – not uncomfortable, but noticeable. You’ve got a little bit of time to move it around before it sets – again, just like eyelash glue. Unlike cream shadows, it doesn’t rub into the skin, so it can be physically moved around the lid, rather than blended in.

The pigmentation from this stuff is insane – it’s really strong and deep, and really makes an impact. Unfortunately, I only took a dodgy photo of me wearing this with my phone (and with the front camera at that! Amateur!), so no great selfie to share at this stage. You’ll have to take my word for it (or obviously refer to some other beauty blogs) – this stuff is gorgeous!

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It really is like tiny bits of foil – who knows how this stuff is made?! My only issue with it is that it’s not really a buildable shadow – this is the main performer. I paired it with an extremely dark shadow (Naked 3: Blackheart) and packed this on top. I personally wouldn’t spend the time packing and blending millions of shades underneath this, as you will probably not see any of it.

Would I buy it again? Sure, it’s very unique. Shame about the hideous price.
Who would I recommend it to? I think my sisters from the Indian Subcontinent will love this shadow – it suits the style of makeup we can pull off at a traditional event.
Is it value for money? I’m not sure what to say on this – I’ve made my thoughts very clear on the price. I suggest not thinking about the price and just buying it if it seems like your thing.
How can you get it? Mecca Cosmetica in Australia and Sephora internationally.  

And remember… if irritation occurs, discontinue use.

Beauty Burn: Philosophy Hope in a Jar

Oh, what an exciting purchase this was! I picked this moisturiser up late last year when transiting through Singapore’s Changi Airport, but it’s taken me a few months to get to this jar. I bought a travel pack, which included the ‘Purity’ cleanser, this moisturiser and a serum, ‘When Hope is Not Enough’. I busted out the cleanser immediately, and started using the serum soon after. I quite like Philosophy’s packaging and look – quite minimalist and neat.

Now, the serum was a bit disappointing – very tacky upon application, and a really unpleasant smell. But it didn’t seem to do any harm, so I’ve maintained using it once or twice a week, just for the sake of using it up. About 3 weeks ago, I finally decided to give ‘Hope in a Jar’ a workout. My initial thoughts were that the moisturiser had actually gone off – the texture was really strange, and the smell was really pungent. I hate to waste things, and this was brand new (and I’ve never had a product like this go bad so quickly), so I slapped it on my face anyway.

OH DEAR… THE BURNING. Not only does this stuff stink, but it also burns. And I’m not afraid of a burn – I love a good burn-y mask, a burn-y exfoliator, a deep glycolic peel burn. But this stuff just stings for the sake of stinging – it doesn’t seem to have any value or purpose in its burn. This is the kind of sting that brings tears to my eyes. Add to that, the smell… it just reeks. I love anything medicinal, anything fruity, anything floral, anything woody, anything scentless – so what the heck is this scent category? It just smells awful. And not only does it smell on application, but the smell lingers! I put this on one night and went to bed on freshly washed sheets – I could still smell the scent on my pillow the following night!

It’s a souffle texture and has a yellow-ish tinge – which is why I was convinced it was past its use-by date. A quick google tells me that it had not gone off, but in fact, that was it’s design. The smell, the sting and the texture were noted on a lot of reviews (including the Philosophy site itself, and Makeup Alley), so it’s definitely not just me. There were still a lot of positive reviews, so I guess there is a population for whom this works, but I’m not part of it.

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Would I buy it again? I’m not even sure what to do with the remaining product!
Who would I recommend this to? Not even my worst enemy.
Is it value for money? $20.00 (15mL), $45.00 (60mL). It’s definitely not overly expensive, but I think of it as quite worthless.
How can you get it? I have gotten Philosophy samples from Mecca Cosmetica and Adore Beauty (online), so you might come across a sample the same way. Otherwise, if for some odd reason you are attracted to a stinky, burning product, you can find Philosophy in David Jones, Adore Beauty, and Mecca Cosmetica/Maxima.