Monday, December 31, 2012

Return To The Motherland

I'm back from China! It was a very relaxing two weeks- snow fights, buying sacks of groceries for dirt-cheap prices, buffets and banquets and Chinese immersion. The latter wasn't so relaxing but it was fun nonetheless. For this post I'll just include some photos and caption them. I've got a Best of 2012 in the works but I woke up at 6:30 yesterday and through all the plane trips and transit periods I haven't slept since so I'm in no mood to type up a beauty post.

We found some basketball courts covered in fresh ankle-deep snow and had a ramble. We certainly left our mark.
Frost on the classroom window.
The deer park next to the ski lodge.

The cathedral in the city centre.
Snow sculptures
An award-winning snow sculpture titled 'By The Roadside'
How they make the snow sculptures.
Christmas Day shopping in the city. We found H&M and Zara!
The tiger park.
The Ice Sculpture World.
It was so surreal, and there were giant ice slides.

On the plane home- from Harbin to Beijing. I miss the cold already!

It was so strange going from -25 degrees to 25 degrees. I miss the snow! This year we had groups from Indonesia, the Phillipines, Myanmar/Burma, Perth, New Zealand, Malaysia and Brisbane. I think we made more friends with the Mauritian and Sydney groups on last year's trip but this year's trip is just as good, even though we mostly stuck to our Brisbane group. The classes and sightseeing were such memorable highlights and we made some pretty awesome friends that we can actually meet up with because they don't live a couple of thousand kilometres away. Oh, and I enjoyed flying Cathay-Pacific! There was a mix-up on the last HK-BNE leg of the return trip and Economy class was full so they bumped us up to Premium Economy and it was a nice way to end the holiday. But even going from BNE-HK-Beijing on the way there in Economy, the entertainment system was great.
If you can go on China camp- if you've know people who have gone or who are going- I would really encourage you to go- it's such a good experience and they give you the best they have to offer. We stayed in the Hanlin Hyatt and ate at top restaurants amid all the sightseeing and the whole experience was completed with an amazing concert and party on the last night. :) I'm off to sleep off the jet lag now- Happy New Year and have a great time saying goodbye to 2012 and kicking off 2013!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Blush, Naturally

HG alert. I have found a new favourite blush. It's odd because I've been so focused on getting into luxe blushes but Laura Mercier's Second Skin Cheek Colour in Lush Nectarine and this one were added to the collection at the same time and I found myself liking this one even better!

I was looking into more natural, 'nude', not-pink blushes and among MAC Blushbaby (overpriced), Tarte Exposed (inaccessible) and NARS Douceur (too brown), I found Rimmel Santa Rose. It looks like a peachy beige in the pan, with slight silver shimmer that isn't pronounced enough to be anything more than a glow and though sheer, can be built up to a distinct warmth on the cheeks. It swatched surprisingly pink though.

The powder is smooth, not too pigmented, and produces surprisingly little fall out. I've used powder-style brushes and duo-fibre stippling brushes with it and it works well with both. It wears well too, fading after about 6 hours, but I don't pack it on and I have oily-combination skin so it would probably last longer on other people.

L-R: Santa Rose built up to full intensity, Santa Rose swatched twice

It looks so natural on the cheeks, as it's not a true pink or peach. The unassuming beige in the pan just works. It warms the face and looks healthy without looking like you're wearing blush. Now one of my go-to blushes, I can actually see myself hitting pan on this one. 

Rimmel plays it safe with their blush shades, as all of them are wearable, natural colours. The Rimmel Mono Blush packaging is so minimalistic that it's on the cusp of looking cheap, but its compact size is a nice change to the usual wasteful, 'brush included' packaging from other brands. My singular gripe is that it's difficult to open. It retails for $10 and is an excellent product in its own right, not to mention the fact that in my routine, it's beating blushes than cost up to three times as much, so it's definitely making its way into my Best of 2012 list. I haven't really tried Rimmel products, so this is a great introduction to their line. I'm eyeing their three-colour blushes and more Scandal Eyes Kohl Kajal pencils next!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Why Do You Wear Makeup?

Thank you to Lena for tagging me to do this tag! This is an interesting one, because it's more personal than some of the other tags that are floating around, and it's really nice to sit down and chat/type a little ramble and have a think about why we do what we do.

I'm in the midst of packing.

1. When did you start using makeup?
2. What was the first makeup product that you bought that you loved? 
3. What is your most used eyeshadow?
4. When did you begin loving makeup?
5. How do you feel without makeup?
6. What do you like about makeup?
7. Three Holy Grail items.
8. Why do you wear makeup?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Just A Dream

As everyone seems to obsessing over the Maybelline Dream Lumi Touch highlighting concealer, I thought I'd buy one to see what the fuss was about. I don't have bad under eye circles or bags, but I do have some darkness and thought this might fix that up. I bought the shade 02 Nude, as 01 Ivory was much too light, and 03 Sand was the same shade as my skin tone, which wouldn't brighten or highlight on me. 02 Nude is a light yellow, which makes it ideal for under eye concealing. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Fruitful Purchase

After having such good experiences with Laura Mercier's mineral powder and concealers, I thought it was high time I tried one of their blush offerings. ViviannaDoesMakeup cannot stop gushing about the Second Skin Cheek Colours, and when Barbara from ThePersianbabe and MissGlamorazzi started harping on about them too, after a couple of months, I caved, and Lush Nectarine was finally mine. 

I was mostly into pink blushes until recently, when I suddenly went off pink blush completely. I thought it looked too doll-like and unnatural. I embraced the corals, but now I want to dabble in peachy blushes, I can only ever find orange-peaches, when I want something slightly pink, but predominantly peach. NARS Deep Throat comes to mind, as does MAC Melba/Style, but I was thinking about Laura Mercier's Second Skin Cheek Colours for a while and decided to treat myself (not that I deserved it :S).

Monday, December 3, 2012

Starter Makeup Kit

I wish I'd researched more before starting out with makeup because I've wasted so much money on useless, poor-quality things that I didn't need. Regardless, this post is on advice about what to look for when starting out in makeup, and I've suggested some of my favourite products. If you're not new to my blog, you'll probably be sick of seeing these products but hey, if you're not new to my blog, you probably don't need advice on starting out in makeup. :p

Friday, November 30, 2012

Sweet As Candy

I'd heard so much about the L'Oreal Color Infallible eyeshadows but was never inclined to try them for myself because I could never find a shade I was truly captivated by. I thought Bronzed Taupe and Amber Rush, shades exclusive to the US, were the only ones worth getting but I'm steering clear of online shopping as much as possible so those were out of the question.
Out of the shades available locally, Hourglass Beige and Sahara Treasure weren't bad but I couldn't see myself using them often. As pretty as Hourglass Beige is, it's too light to use as a lid colour for me, and I have better inner corner highlight shadows. Sahara Treasure was a very pretty vintage gold, but not nearly flattering enough to warrant the purchase. Often the L'Oreal stands have been raided and only the brown/navy/black/pink/coral shades are left (from my experience). However, some idle browsing of the L'Oreal stand revealed some new shades released in a new collection called Miss Candy- there were some colours like Naughty Strawberry and Sassy Chamallo (though I'm almost certain the ones in the store were called Sassy Marshmallow) but the only colour I could see myself wearing was Tender Caramel

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

November Favourites

It has seriously felt like the longest month ever. The entire first half of November was exam season. That was awful, but now that's gone and we're on holidays, and the seniors of 2012 have graduated! And results came out today and I didn't fail everything! Yay! 
This month's favourites round off the spring-ish makeup, as it'll be summer in a few days time.

Laura Mercier Mineral Powder SPF15
I'm still loving this. :) Even if my shade Real Sand is a tiny bit too light, it's so weightless with decent coverage, and it's better for my skin than liquid foundation. 

BYS Blusher in Coral
I only use this blush with the Real Techniques Blush Brush, as it is so pigmented that it can be problematic. It's such a pretty colour when blended out- a really summery, feel-good kind of healthy glow. I'm currently reading Jane Austen's Emma and in it is a heated discussion about the importance of the glow of fine health and I immediately thought of this blush. Ohh the signs of makeup junkieness. I like this coral shade but I want to branch into pinkish peachy high end blushes: I'm thinking of MAC Springsheen, Laura Mercier Lush Nectarine, Benefit Coralista or NARS Orgasm.

Australis Creme Colour for Lips and Cheeks in Flirtatious Pink
I've been using this with the Real Techniques Stippling Brush and while I hated using it before, once I started using it with the RT brush the effect was wholly different. Very natural and healthy-looking. :)

MAC Mineralize Skinfinish in Soft and Gentle
Such a pretty peachy champagne- I love that each MSF pattern is unique- I've been using it as an inner corner highlight as well as on the tops of the cheekbones. 

Essence Gel Eyeliner
I was feeling adventurous and decided to do gel eyeliner for work this month, and I'm so glad I didn't throw this out in my past few clean out sessions. :) Even after one crazy six hour-long shift, the liner did not smudge on my oily lids. It's earned its place in my collection. :)

I love that Carmex comes in a tube. It doesn't taste or smell good but it's a great balm. :)

Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Charm
I bought the RJBKBS in Charm after hearing about it (ViviannaDoesMakeup, sleep and water) and I'm not disappointed. I find Charm only looks good after lip balm and exfoliating, which is quite a process but it's pretty.

Napoleon Perdis Luxe Lip Gloss in Perfect Peach
I love this colour, and the texture of Napoleon glosses is so nourishing and comfortable to wear. Napoleon doesn't sell this line of gloss anymore, but I have tried their current Luminous Lip Veil gloss, which is also really nice. 

Real Techniques Stippling Brush

A new favourite. This is great for thicker foundations like Skin79 BB Cream and powder and cream blush.

Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Oil
I dare say Tea Tree Oil works just as well as the Origins Super Spot Remover, even though it's definitely something for resistant skin. If you have very sensitive skin, I think it might burn :S but it's so effective at clearing up spots! It's just as effective than the Origins Super Spot Remover and so much cheaper too. 

I've been using Bio-Oil on my cheeks and it's made such a difference. I used to have redness on my cheeks, and that's gone now, and my skin isn't as dry when it doesn't have anything on.

Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque
This has been great for an odd breakout on my cheek near my jawline and redness. I heard so much about it and when it arrived from iHerb I was so excited to try it out because I was recovering from stress-related skin issues. It really helped and I'm very glad I bought it. Pity we can't get it in Australia.

Phew! I had a surprising number of favourites this month. I'll be away in freezing Harbin, China, for half of next month, so expect to see 'travel makeup bag'-type posts soon! Meanwhile, happy holidays, all you Uni kiddies! Let's try to be productive these next couple of months! :p Take care and God bless! xxx

Monday, November 26, 2012

Max Brenner and Priceline Purchases

Clockwise from top left: Deck chairs at South Bank; Chocolate Dip; Belgian Waffle with a side of vanilla ice cream; Pink Granitas in Alice cups.

I loved the deck chairs! They're such a good idea. We sat there for a good 30mins and it was comfortable and not too crowded.
I didn't enjoy the waffle much, I've definitely had nicer waffles and nicer ice cream. But the granita drinks were nice, as always. The Pink Granita is made with passionfruit and strawberry, and it's really good. :)

This was from the last time we were at Max Brenner a few weeks ago: we had the Fondue for Two and compared to the one we had at San Churro last time, this was so much nicer. I liked that there were two types of chocolate and the sides were more practical for fondue. San Churro gave pretzels and caramel popcorn, which are so messy to dip because you can't pick them up with the forks. 
The drink in the weird teapot is a white chocolate chai drink and it doesn't pour out from the spout- I was so surprised when my friend picked it up and sat it on top of her glass. When you press down the drink pours out of the bottom of the teapot. :D

I went to the city to buy the Illamasqua Blush Duo but when I swatched it I wasn't as enthused as I thought I was, so I didn't buy it. 
Pick-me-up shopping at Priceline, and I managed to stick to buying basic 'necessities' instead of more blush or eyeshadow. :) Ardell Brow Sculpting Gel and Dove Foaming Make Up Remover. I wanted the Rimmel Nude eyeliner as well but they didn't have any left. I wanted a brow gel, and had the Essence one in hand but when I was mooching around the brush section, which is next to the lashes section, I saw Ardell's brow gel and I looked up reviews on the spot (have you ever done that? :p) and wound up getting the Ardell one. 

All in all, a good day. :) Holidays are going to be fun. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Clean Out: Not-Empties

Goodbye, little ones! Unfortunately you won't be missed. I decided another clean out was due, and found this one was a lot easier, mostly because I've been making 'investment purchases' and haven't bought anything out of irrational 'it's cheap!' reasoning for a long while. The ones that found their way to the bin are mostly cheapie impulse buys, back when my standards were lower and I was less informed. Needless to say, that didn't last long once I discovered the virtues of products that were slightly more expensive but worth so much more. 

Some coloured eyeliners and a liquid eyeliner pen were the first to go, as I rarely wear eyeliner, much less green or blue variants. The eyeliner pen was lacking- less inky than I'd like, not at all water-resistant and the nib wasn't rigid enough imo. The Stay Natural concealer wasn't too bad, but shortly after that I bought some liquid foundations and the Laura Mercier Undercover concealer, making it more or less redundant. I'd forgotten all about the Smokey Eyes brush, but pulled it out when I was reorganising. The bristles aren't dense or long enough for proper blending, and it has the tendency to lose a few hairs now and then. Into the bin it goes. 
The Essence Stay All Day long lasting cream eyeshadow in Glammy Goes To... was something I'd bought after reading Tiffany's high praise for it, but after a couple of uses I grew to dislike its texture. It was difficult to blend smoothly, which is kind of important for the glitterbomb it is. I really liked the colour, as I let L'Oreal Infallible Sahara Treasure get away and Glammy Goes To... is supposedly a dupe for Sahara Treasure's vintage gold. 
The top coat was a let down though Sally Hansen's Insta-Dri has since replaced it in my collection and I could not be happier with it. The eyeshadow quad is on its way out because I never used anything but the matte cream highlight shadow in the Quattro eyeshadow quad and unsuccessfully tried to depot the singular white shade (the glue on those pans is really stubborn!) and although a very generous sample (15mL, when most foundations are 30mL full-sized) Revlon Colorstay was way too heavy for me, the colour match was off and the acrylic paint smell wasn't something I could get used to as it didn't dissipate. 
The concealer, once labelled Rimmel Hydrasense, was decent while it lasted but I think it's way past its use-by date (ew!). Lastly, the BYS white nail polish with a striper brush for nail art was something that served me very well- silver glitter French manicures for all three formals in my senior year of high school would not have been possible without this little guy. 
Cleaning out is oddly refreshing. Now to start hitting pan on some of those blushers! :p

Cue picture of organised makeup storage, now free of pesky unused/unusable products. *breathes sigh of relief*

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

New Real Techniques!

So the other day, I found myself in possession of the Real Techniques Stippling and Blush Brushes and thought I'd post about them because I personally had a lot to think about before buying the two. I bought the Blush brush from Priceline when it was on sale, and it's usually $22, and I bought the Stippling brush from iHerb and it cost me $10 with $6 flat rate shipping. It sucks that Priceline charge more than double the US prices, but there's not much you can do about it without resorting to ordering online.

I find the Blush brush to be less dense than I'm used to, but very soft and good for pigmented cheek products because it doesn't pick up a lot of product. It doesn't work well for baked blushes like the Bourjois round pots because those aren't very pigmented because they have a tendency to seal off, so you need to take a cotton bud to the surface to scratch the top layer off. That's where the Stippling brush comes in. The Stippling brush is good for so many things. I like using it for thicker, creamier foundations like Skin79 BB Cream, as well as cream blush and powder blush. The bristles are shorter and more stiff, so I really like it for the Bourjois blushes and the Australis Creme Colour for Cheeks and Lips, which I find is a little tough to blend. Both the brushes have a handle-base that stands up on its own, which some like, some don't. I like the handle, because when you've got half a dozen products scattered over the dresser, it's nice to be able to put a brush down standing up so it takes up less room and the brush hairs don't touch the tabletop.  But it can get a bit cramped if your cup holder/brush holder isn't very big. Like always, pros and cons.

Real Techniques are generally the best affordable brushes on the market. They're made of synthetic taklon bristles so they're cruelty free and don't drink up the product, and the coloured aluminium handles make the brushes so easily identifiable and iconic. They don't shed and wash really well. I'm pretty happy with my little collection. The only major thing I'm missing is the Starter Set of eye brushes, but I don't mind because I don't do eye makeup often and I just bought some Sigma eye brushes so I'm pretty set for now. 

I know when I was getting my brush collection together I was tossing up between these two because I heard so many great things about both of them and only wanted to get one. I didn't think I'd end up with both of them, but that's just how things go. I personally prefer the Stippling brush because it can do more, but it's also pretty important to have a fluffy blush brush in your collection, and my favourite brushes for that purpose are the Ecotools Mineral Powder brush from the Bamboo 5 Piece Brush Set, or the Ecotools Blush Brush. I am glad I have the Real Techniques Blush brush for more pigmented blushes, but I could probably do without it because I don't own as many pigmented blushes that need it. But if you do own some very pigmented blushes, you might like the Blush brush. The Stippling brush is great multi-tasking brush and I think everybody could do with a duo-fibre stippling brush in their collection.

So whether you get one, or the other, or both, I don't think you'll look back after you've tried Real Techniques brushes. I definitely haven't. :)