Sunday, July 29, 2012

Cheap Thrills Under $5

I love cheap and cheerful products, so I'm going to shop my stash to highlight some products that deserve it. I think I'll do this in a series of Top 5 posts, going up in price range, within reason.

1. Essence Silky Touch Blush in Babydoll - $4.95
I really like this blush- sure BYS costs less but the texture of these far outshines that of BYS. It's quite finely-milled, so soft, reasonably pigmented but it blends out really easily so it's less tricky to overdo it, and I really like this colour. I'm rubbish at describing colours, but 'peachy pink' and 'rose' come to mind when I swatch this. I think there's barely detectable shimmer in there too, but it's so fine that it's more of a sheen. If I had fairer skin I would get Secret It-Girl too, but I think it's too orange for my skintone.

2. Maybelline Baby Lips in Relieving Menthol - $3.75
I know most lip balms cost under $5, but I love this. I wasn't a big fan when I first got it, but it's grown on me and now I can't go without it. Hydrates well, though the mintiness can get a bit intense, and I like the satisfying click of the lid. I tried Anti-Oxidant Berry too, but I prefer this one.

3. The Body Shop Tea Tree Blotting Tissues - $4.95
Sure tissues work just as well, but I bought these at the beginning of the year when the sebaceous glands were working overtime and oil levels were getting out of hand. 65 sheets in a pack, and they're pretty small but I only ever need to blot my t-zone, so I find one's enough. They do ones with mineral powder on as well, but I didn't want ones with powder on  for when I'm not wearing makeup.

4. Essence Kajal Pencil in Teddy - $1.95
Glides onto the skin smoothly and doesn't tug. Great pigmentation, pretty everyday colour, and you can't beat the price. 

5. Essence Stay With Me lip gloss in Berry Me! - $3.95
I think this shade's been discontinued, but the formula is quite pleasant and I like the hourglass-shaped applicator. I was eyeing another one but I wanted to become more enthusiastic about lip products before buying any more.

Take care, and God bless! xx

July Favourites

This past month has been filled with buying things and trying things and blowing the budget, so that's good for a monthly favourites post and bad for my bank balance. I bought a tonne of things in June/July. Uni holidays meant working more shifts, and the extra cash meant retail therapy- not that I needed any sort of therapy with the holiday I was having. I bought things from ASOS and Sigma for the first time, and more things from iHerb and Strawberrynet. Gah. 
I haven't done a Favourites post before, but they're my favourite posts/videos to read and watch because I feel like if someone's used them consistently and it's made the monthly favourites, it's something worth looking into, especially for that time of year/ particular season. 

I haven't included any foundations in this favourites post despite wearing base remarkably often this month, because both of my newly-acquired foundations are a tad too dark for me; Australis Fresh and Flawless Pressed Powder only comes in three shades, and I'm slightly darker than Deep Natural but lighter than Darkest Brown. It's annoying. I'm not repurchasing. Tempted to bite the bullet and get MAC Studio Fix Plus powder or Laura Mercier Mineral Powder. Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum in 53 Beige Clair is fine when applied as a sheer layer, but if I build it up it looks a bit too dark. Grr. 
On to the favourites! 

Real Techniques Buffing Brush
The absolute softest brush everr. I thought Ecotools were soft until I got this. It is so so soft and plush. Amazing for both liquid and powder foundation, doesn't shed. Everybody should go out and buy the Core Collection just for this brush. 

Maybelline EyeStudio Mono in Beige Nude
I bought it on a whim after seeing it discounted to a little over $3. Cheap whim. I've been using this all over the lid on top of a shimmery white cream shadow base, and I really like it.

Maybelline Baby Lips in Relieving Menthol
I finished my labello! Finally! So I've been reaching for this a lot more. And I like it. The mintiness can get a bit intense, but it does hydrate better than I expected without that heavy feeling, like you've got Vaseline on. 

Bourjois Blush in Coup De Foudre
Such sunny weather is undeserving of the matte Rose Ambre. I picked this up after seeing the swatch here, and have really enjoyed wearing it. It's a pretty rose-apricot with gold shimmer. I recently acquired a frightening number of these, but I'm limiting myself to using two on rotation.

Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze
Since getting this, I haven't touched my Sleek palettes. Such a pretty colour, and so easy to use. I'm a convert- the consistency is just so good, especially since I don't really like using eyeshadow because my uneven eyelids are so problematic. Ordinarily, with powder shadows, the double eyelid is so easy, but getting the monolid looking even and symmetrical to the other eye is a real challenge. Color Tattoo- win.

Soap and Glory Hand Food 50mL
I love this. The scent has grown on me and I'm very tempted to get the 125mL full size, which only costs about $12- I like the travel size for my bag, and my Crabtree and Evelyn hand therapy for my bedside table. But when my Crabtree and Evelyn hand therapy runs out I'm definitely buying the full sized SAG Hand Food because it's so much better value for money. The C&E Hand Therapy costs $20 for 50mL, while SAG Hand Food only costs $6 for the same quantity. Both work really well, and I quite like the Soap and Glory signature scent. But those who don't like scented products shouldn't touch Soap and Glory with a barge pole- they are so strongly fragranced.

Dermal Korean Sheet Masks
I've been loving these. This particular brand works better than the others I've tried. Unlike some masks I've tried, these are alcohol-free. I use them once a week and my skin's really nice and nourished and happy. The brightening Vitamin one in particular helps fade acne scars. I woke up the next morning and was gawping at the mirror for a solid 10 seconds, because the hyperpigmentation had faded considerably. I buy mine from a Korean mart in Sunnybank at 10 for $6. Happy skin!

Lush Tea Tree Water toner
Disregarding the negative review, I bought this to use in the mornings, and I really like it. It sprays quite a splash though, even from an arm's length away from my face. My skin's in a relatively good place at the moment, so I don't have issues with the grapefruit  and juniper components that beautypedia frowns upon. It's very refreshing and smells just like tea tree, which I really like. It's a bit nostalgic and brings back memories of visiting the Thursday Plantation when I was little.

I'm really enjoying my buying ban so far; I'm taking it much more seriously than my previous attempts where I didn't really commit. It's really good for me to take a step back from the frivolous world of cosmetics, appreciate the things I've already got in my possession and place my money where it would make a more lasting, worthwhile impact.
Well, that's my July favourites. I'm repeatedly being let down by the post; I've still got 4 parcels due to arrive and some are taking longer than the standard two weeks. :S

Anyhow, take care and God bless! xx

Friday, July 27, 2012

Minimalist Collection

I don't have as much makeup as other bloggers, but I'm quite happy with my collection. I don't wear makeup on a daily basis, nor do I want to. I've bought everything I've ever felt a need for, be it concealer, bronzer or gel eyeliner. From not owning a single foundation or eyeliner a few months ago, I've come a long way. I honestly don't think I'll be needing to buy anything for a long time.

After being inspired by MissGlamorazzi, Vivianna and now Michelle, I don't feel like I want to own rooms of makeup like some people do. I don't feel like my collection is lacking, no matter what my wishlist says. I don't even wear foundation and mascara everyday, let alone eyeshadow, eyeliner and bronzer. There's no need for it if your skin's taken care of. With that, I'm going to stop buying makeup henceforth, until Christmas, and appreciate the products I already own. There. DEADLINE-D. It's a resolution.
(Ahem. Resolution excludes skincare.)

I used to store my makeup on top of my dresser, but everything was getting dusty so I did a bit of a spring clean and tossed out all the packaging and boxes I used to hoard in the top drawer. So my makeup has moved, and now lives in my top drawer. I have basically filled the drawer. I think I might borrow Vivianna's one-in-one-out policy and not buy any more powders/foundations/eyeshadows until I have finished a product that I can swap it in for. But I've got 4 backup Bourjois blushes, so I just cannot buy any more blushes.

I'm happy with my collection, and storage, and I really shouldn't buy things just because they're cheap. I'm going to consciously make an effort to refrain from buying makeup until Christmas. Gah.

Oh, I have to add: come Christmas, I'm probably going to go nuts and order the Naked 2 palette, Jemma Kidd Dewy Glow All Over Radiance Creme and Laura Mercier Mineral Powder. And the buying ban isn't going to halt any posts, because I ordered a tonne of things over the past couple of weeks, so the parcels are due to arrive any day. Posts about those forthcoming!

Anyhow, take care and God bless! xx

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Going Undercover


Sigh. The never-ending quest for perfect skin. Well, seemingly perfect skin. Shh. 

I've been looking for a good concealer for a while, more for blemishes than dark circles. So last week, I bought the Laura Mercier Undercover concealer. I was bored and scrolling through Strawberrynet looking at products I'd been interested in for a while, eg. Laura Mercier Mineral Powder. Then I saw the Laura Mercier concealers. Now, the Laura Mercier Undercover pot has replaced the original Undercover concealer, and I think the only difference is that the pot has their translucent powder in a little jar underneath the concealers. So, Strawberrynet discounted the original Undercover concealer to $11. Mine's in the shade UC3 for Fair to Medium skin. UC4 looked like it had more yellow undertones, which I prefer, but medium is a pretty subjective term so I thought it'd be best to get the fair to medium one, because I'm not that dark.

On the left is Secret Camouflage, which is a blemish concealer and on the right is Secret Concealer, which is a salmon/pink colour for dark circles. I think both are available separately too. Camouflage is drier, and is more yellow-toned. Concealer is very emollient, basically melts upon contact, has salmon tones and is so easy to blend. I used the Real Techniques Detailer Brush with them, which is nice. It does the job. 

I find Concealer to be more effective than Camouflage. Granted, they have different purposes, but Concealer definitely conceals dark circles better than Camouflage covers blemishes. 

Again, yay for Strawberrynet and their super quick delivery. This concealer's still up on the site here. Happy with my purchase, but I kind of wish Camouflage worked even better, to match Concealer, which works exceptionally well.

Take care, and God bless! xx

Monday, July 23, 2012

Blogging for Uni Assessment?

That's campus. Pretty, isn't it? Somebody should photoshop that bin out. But it shows we're litter-conscious, I suppose. Well, after a glorious 4 week break, Uni has recommenced, and I hate it. I have to force myself to get onto the bus and get to campus. Unfortunately, today that didn't work and I got on the bus, got to the bus interchange/shopping centre, did some grocery shopping, and decided against going to my lectures. Fortunately though, I can catch up on it online. Yay technology. 

I get an elective this semester, and I've chosen to do a course about the Introduction to Journalism and Communication. For assessment, we have to blog! I've just watched the lecture online and it seems very interesting. I was going to do Law/Journalism at QUT but didn't want to because QUT law degrees aren't recognised in Singapore and I didn't want to put five years into a degree if I can't practise in Singapore. I want the freedom to work there if I so choose.

My other courses aren't as interesting. [GEOS Environment and Society: Sustainability] is practical and informative, but judging from the slides alone, it doesn't captivate me like the Journalism course does. Unfortunately, that's what Town Planning is based on though. I'm contemplating changing courses. If I'm not passionate about town planning, I don't mind wasting a year on it just so I can use it as a springboard to catapult on to bigger and better things. 

I have three lectures for one of my courses. Intense! Last semester I had one lecture for each course. 10 contact hours a week. It was such a breeze. This semester, I imagine it's going to take a lot of willpower to go to all my lectures/tutorials/pracs. D:
I can't wait to be done with this semester. And it's only the first day. :/

Anyhow, that's my life at the moment. Thought I'd pop up a non-beauty-related post. My life's very non-social- I don't like to be on campus for long, even if my friends are there. Campus is 40mins away from home, even longer if public transport's being a pain like it was today. And I've got work, bible study, church and parcels arriving to look forward to. Yay. Take care, and God bless! xx

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Bad to the Bronze

Like a celebrity sighting at an airport terminal, the Maybelline 24hr Color Tattoo eyeshadows' arrival has been the subject of much discussion. There has been no end to the hype and fangirling. The lower-than-expected price point, $11.75, is a pleasant surprise: these are much more affordable than anticipated. And boy do they live up to expectations.

I was tossing up between getting an Australis powder eyeshadow quint in Snap Attack, or a Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze. I really like a couple of the shades in the Australis palette, but would I get more wear out of the cream eyeshadow since I really like the color and it's easier to use?

Out of the colour range available, only Bad to the Bronze really called out to me- the colours vary widely, from  electric blue to pretty burgundy to austere grey, all with badass names to boot. 
I wanted to swatch Bad to the Bronze, but there wasn't a tester for it, so I swatched Tough as Taupe (which is pretty, but I won't wear it), and for the next 3 hours I had a grey-taupe stripe across my forearm that would not budge.

I love Bad to the Bronze - it's a lovely medium brown-bronze that doesn't have yellow or orange undertones like some bronzes do, and doesn't look strange on me like I find some shadows do (oranges and coppers in particular, and one shade of pink from my Mirenesse trio). The shimmer can be a bit much, and can overpower the brown pigment, but not to the point where it's a deterrent. That flaw is easily overlooked by the pretty colour, easy application and staying power. I doubt it would stay on for 24 hours, but it would stay on for as long as you'd need it to. 
I like the packaging too- the glass pot feels really ritzy, and the design of the pot is really thoughtful- you're meant to store it lid side down, so that the shadow sits upside down and doesn't dry out. Clever. They really had the consumer's ease of use in mind.

I own one of the Essence Stay All Day long lasting eyeshadow in Glammy Goes To... and while it's nice and cheap, the texture and application just aren't the same as the Maybelline Color Tattoos. It's a reminder that Bad to the Bronze was worth it, and I don't regret my purchase. I do, however, have to add Glammy Goes To... to the long list of "products I regret purchasing", consisting mostly of cheap, redundant items (e.g BYS eyeshadows, Nivea Young Tinted Moisturiser, Essence pencil liners) that have been outshone by more expensive counterparts.

As for Bad to the Bronze, I love it. On days I can be bothered, my standard eye makeup for class and work henceforth is going to be a slick of BTTB, a swipe of eyeliner and some mascara. Thank you, Maybelline!

Take care, and God bless! xx

Friday, July 20, 2012

Glints Of Sunshine

Cheekbones. Mine aren't visible, as such. No, they are shrouded in a protective layer of chubbies, giving me a round face, and cheeks akin to those of a chipmunk. Only I can't store an entire winter's worth of food in mine.

I don't wear bronzer, but I wanted to buy a relatively inexpensive one (Sleek Contour Kit, why so inaccessible?) to try my hand at contouring after watching Lisa Eldridge's Contour and Highlight video. So my inexpensive, well-praised bronzer of choice is the Bourjois Délice de Poudre bronzer, better known as the 'chocolate' bronzer. This has been discontinued, and replaced by Délice de Soleil. In this pixi2woo video, Tanya says they're basically the same product, just with different packaging. Poudre comes in a cardboard box with a magnetic closure while Soleil comes in a sturdier plastic case with a huge swivelling mirror. Both bronzers were on ASOS at the time, but I went with Délice de Poudre because I couldn't pass on the adorable chocolate concept, and because it's been discontinued, I wanted to get it while I could. I think this was $11, but I got it for 10% off with a discount code.

I want to quote what the box says, because I think it's hilarious.

Give in to your craving... and enhance your beauty!
The glints of sunshine in powder Délice de Poudre give an immediate boost to your complexion, and your morale!
Its delicious perfume and ultra-soft texture will make you melt with pleasure.
Apply with the brush over your face and chest for an even finish and skin that looks good enough to eat.

So there isn't a brush included, like "Apply with the brush" implies. And I find the "boost to your complexion, and your morale!" statement hilarious. Below is a photo of a "glint of sunshine".

See that little speck of gold? A couple of others nearby? Glint of sunshine indeed. (They're hard to capture on camera.)

Mine's in the shade 52 Peaux mates / hâlées, which translates to Darker/Tanned Skin. It's not very pigmented. Which is nice, especially for people new to bronzer. Don't want to go all Oompa Loompa at the slightest touch. I find the Real Techniques Contour Brush to pick up colour better than my fingers. Afterthought: Initial swipes weren't very pigmented, but maybe it was just the sealed powder on the surface. It's not crazy pigmented either way- s'all good.

It's a matte brown, with the 'glints of sunshine' gold sparkles that don't show on the skin. It comes out a little orangey, but I don't mind. A cool-toned alternative in my stash would be Bobbi Brown Mahogany, but that's super pigmented and can look a little dirty. 

Love the chocolate bar concept. But it doesn't smell like chocolate. It smells like coconut- not dissimilar to the Batiste Tropical dry shampoo.

So that's my first bronzer. Hopefully I'll get some use out of it. I really don't care for bronzing and fake tanning and whatnot, because I'm mostly happy with my yellow Asian-ness, but I thought it'd be nice to have a bronzer around for contouring experimentation.  Take care, and God bless! xx

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Depotting Adventures

I was looking at small Z-Palettes online, just to store my eyeshadow monos in, and I was about to let myself be conned into buying a pricey piece of magnetic cardboard, when I realised I had a perfectly-sized tin I could use instead. I haven't depotted anything before, but I had some cheapie single eyeshadows that I wouldn't mind busting up in an amateur attempt at depotting. So off I went.

I really love this tin- the French lettering (because anything French is immediately placed on a pedestal of intrigue), the Peynet Lovers illustration and the roses in the corners- it was a gift when I was 11 and I've just been storing jewellery bits and bobs in it since then. It's just as good as a Z-Palette imo, in terms of functioning as a magnetised holder of eyeshadow pans and protecting them. So I don't have to shell out $14 (or $20 on Crush Cosmetics) for the same thing! Yay!

I'd seen some tutorials before, both with and without heat, and I would infinitely prefer to do it senza caldo but I didn't have any rubbing alcohol, so I had to opt for another method. I did try prying it out using the tip of a knife but the glue didn't give like I thought it would despite the shadow being a few years old. I don't own a flat iron (and even if I did, using a $300 ghd to melt plastic doesn't make sense to me), and I couldn't be bothered finding a candle, so I tried a stove lighter- one with a flame, not just a spark, and just held the flame a couple of centimetres under the bottom of the pot. It helped, and the pan allowed itself be pried away relatively easily.

Oddly enough, my practice cheapie Rimmel shadow pan (the square one) was fine. This shadow is soft, but not at all pigmented. It's more a subtle browbone highlight than a real usable colour.
But poverino Silken Taupe. Warning to those with Maybelline eyeshadow mono's- they are so so soft. I accidentally dug into the corner with the knife, but patched it up and continued to tease the pan out, but something happened (I literally don't remember, it was such a shock) and a considerable amount crumbled and fell to the floor. D: 
I did get the pan out, but had a bit of a wail about the broken shadow. I'm not using it as much as I thought I would, oddly enough. I've been opting for the bronze and pale gold colours in my stash instead. I don't have a dark colour to pair Silken Taupe with- if I did, I think I would get more wear out of it. 

Thought I'd include a photo of the carnage that is the aftermath of the heat. The Rimmel shadow pan is purple, and the colour bled into the sticker, which is entirely in Jap, so I don't know what the name of the shade is apart from 022. The Maybelline shadow pot in particular has an entire plug of glue to anchor the pan down. So it's stubborn. And it doesn't depot nicely. Sigh.

Quite an experience, depotting. I have no doubt that I'll be doing it a bit more in the future, but I really do need to find a way of doing it that doesn't involve raking up half the shadow in the pan. I'll have to purchase some magnet sheets from Riot or some other craft store to adhere to the backs of the pans, but I'm quite happy with it overall. Just so glad I don't have to buy a Z-Palette after all. Or a Unii palette. As pretty as those look, they're not worth the money when I have more mini palettes than single shadows in my collection. This tin has enough space for now. :)

I was expecting some parcels to arrive in the mail today, but they haven't! I'm jittery and constantly checking for the postman, and after he goes I check the mailbox but there's only ever letters. Disappointing. I do hope they arrive tomorrow, otherwise I'll have to wait the entire weekend. With each passing day I'm reminded that holidays are about to end and I'm so reluctant to return to classes! I want to be on holidays forever!

Anyhow, take care, and God bless! xx

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Healthy Mix

Having first started out watching beauty gurus from the US, I didn't hear about Bourjois for the longest time! I wish I'd heard about it sooner, because Bourjois is such a gorgeous brand. Being a little upmarket for the usual 'drugstore' crowd (ie Maybelline, Rimmel, CoverGirl), Bourjois is the snob that sits on its own in the schoolyard and refuses to mingle with the others. Its prices set it a cut above the others, not unlike L'Oreal Paris, and higher prices deem higher expectations. The first Bourjois product I tried was a blush, and although it's laughably small, the quality and packaging exceed those of a 'drugstore' brand. Their foundations are among, if not the best-selling products in the range, and I've been wanting to try one of their Healthy Mix foundations for a few months now. Bourjois released a gel formulation of their popular Healthy Mix foundation, and I bought it from ASOS for about $18. Within a week, I was tearing open the parcel to try it out. 

Fortunately I'd colour-matched instore at a Bourjois stand so I didn't have to guess my shade  when I bought it on ASOS. I'd found a colour match one day when I was bored, in the hope of a Bourjois sale coming around soon (still hasn't!), because I am definitely not willing to pay $32 for a foundation that's available in other parts of the world for less. Free shipping on ASOS was great, and their 10% student discount wouldn't hurt either. I'm frustrated with myself because I forgot that I had the 10% student discount code and didn't enter the code at checkout. And I think the price has gone down to $17+ now. 

It's got 30mL of product, and has a pump, which is nice and easy, but kind of expected from a foundation which retails here for $32.00 AUD - even Rimmel Wake Me Up has a pump and that costs $20 full-price. The two have been marketed similarly as anti-fatigue foundations, but Wake Me Up has sparkles in, which deters me from buying it because I don't want to glitter like Edward Cullen when I'm walking around at Uni. Fortunately, this doesn't have sparkles. Shade 53 Beige Clair/ Light Beige suits me best, and the consistency of the foundation is quite emollient- it delivers where it claims to be a 'gel foundation'. I buffed it in with the Real Techniques Buffing brush and it was so easy to apply. 

Bourjois' claim:

16 hrs radiance-boosting even, revived complexion
Vitamin-rich fruit therapy - instant anti-fatigue
Instant blending gel, flawless complexion, undetectable coverage
Vitamin-rich fruits: lychee, goji berries, pomegranate. Hypoallergenic. 

It indicates light coverage by marking 1 box out of three. 
Semi-matte finish

I'm doubtful about lychee, goji berries and pomegranate doing any anti-fatigue action, but it does have a lovely fruity-floral scent. And the 16 hour claim would be interesting to test- I'm sure Bourjois did some comprehensive testing before making that claim, but in all honesty, nobody expects makeup to wear well for 16 hours and companies making that claim are doing it bravely because it's quite a feat. But despite the bizarre claims, I really like it. It's so easy to blend and looks very natural. It promises light coverage and delivers: skin still looks like skin. Being a person who doesn't want to look like they're wearing a lot of makeup, but just wants to conceal blemishes and redness, this foundation is perfect for me. It evens out my complexion nicely, though the sheer coverage naturally means I have to take a concealer to  hyperpigmentation and spots. I'm expecting Neutrogena Healthy Skin to arrive tomorrow, and I don't expect it to beat this foundation because I like Healthy Mix serum so much.

I love this foundation, and would definitely buy it again when it runs out, but I would only buy it from ASOS, or if there's a really good sale, because it's a victim of the insane Australian cosmetic markup and costs about double the UK price. 

Hope that was helpful in some way, take care, and God bless! xx

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Best and Worst of Essence Cosmetics

With their shockingly low prices, Essence Cosmetics is like a beckoning stranger with candy to many Australian beauty enthusiasts. But to me, Essence is a familiar friend. I became acquainted with it in Switzerland, in a department store called Manor in Lugano's centro piazza. What drew me to Essence and its bright array of products were the prices- they proffered prices which their neighbours Rimmel, Revlon and L'Oreal could not beat. I wasn't very interested in cosmetics in December 2010, but my Swiss friends were- we went to a birthday party and after jazzing up the house, the girls filed into the bathroom to beautify themselves for the festivities, pulling out mousse foundation, heavy-duty mascara, light blue eyeshadow and eyeliner. This piqued my interest, and a few weeks later, while with another Australian girl perusing some nail polishes at Manor, I poked around the makeup and skincare displays, scrutinising the wares and translating the Italian labels. I picked up a couple of Essence products back then, and they served me well- the French manicure polishes graced my nails for three school formals before undergoing retirement earlier this year, but I don't know what became of the concealer I bought to hide the consequential acne that came from eating too much Swiss chocolate, as the colour match was terrible, and I gave it to my fair-skinned host sister (Ciao Giulia!).

German in origin, Essence caters more for fair skintones, and its displays are becoming increasingly common in Australia, expanding from Target to Priceline outlets. Their trend editions are a big attraction given their limited edition nature; some of the more popular ones include Vampire's Love, Sun Club and Marble Mania. 

Quite a bit of my collection is comprised of Essence products, but one thing of theirs that I haven't touched is foundation. I'm open to drugstore foundations, but I'm limiting myself to the ones with the most positive reviews, as I'd really like to save my money to buy some high-end products sometime (Laura Mercier Mineral Powder, please!) because ideally, if it's going on my skin, I would much rather use quality stuff. And Essence foundations haven't exactly been kicking up a fuss in the beauty blogging world. Oh, I forgot to say: Essence trades off packaging for price- their packaging is nothing flash or pretty- minimalist but it does the job. And they don't waste money with puffs or sponge-tip applicators with their powders or eyeshadows (they sell those separately: packs of sponge-tip applicators, and I think their brush range consists of a grand total of 2 face brushes and 3 eye brushes) which I'm sure many people would appreciate since you usually chuck those out anyway.

I've drawn up a general guide for Essence as a brand, working from the more disappointing end of the spectrum to the glowing praise.

I don't reach for my Essence eyeshadow quad ($5.95) as I own better products which are better value for money. This is a product I regret purchasing.
I was sent this Get Big Lashes volume boost mascara as part of the Essence prize pack for the 'Rainy Day' competition, but it flakes. I've found my HG mascara in Maybelline Full 'N Soft Waterproof.
Liquid Eyeliner
I bought and tried the 'Japanese technology' Liquid Eyeliner Pen ($5.00) and it's just not pigmented enough. Application is easy but better eyeliner pens can be found, for example, K-Palette or Dollywink liquid liners. Bourjois Liner Feutre is made in Japan, much-hyped and is available on ASOS for around $10. Although it's double the price of Essence's version, if I were to dabble in eyeliner pens again, I'd try that one.

In the middle, and those to which I feel indifferent:
Eye Brushes
I own the Smokey Eye brush ($2.55) and the Eyeliner ($2.95) brush. The quality is not the best, but for the price, they're tolerable.
Eye Pencils
I own quite a few of these, in brown, blue, green, white and yellow (longlasting mechanical pencils are $2.95, kajal pencils are $1.95), but don't use them often. I get the most use out of the white one, which I use to brighten up the tear duct and lower lashline area. I don't touch these partly because I bought bright colours which I don't often wear, and partly because I own an Estee Lauder Softsmudge Pencil Liner (which I love), but I will have to turn to the brown one (Teddy) when I am running low (inevitable) and want to prolong Softsmudge's lifespan. 
Lip Gloss
I'm a big fan of the hourglass-shaped applicator that's in the Stay With Me lipglosses (mine was $2 on sale), but I'm not enamoured by the scent. It's much too sickly-sweet for my liking. The pigmentation and consistency are alright. Preferring my tinted balms over gloss, I'll only use this once in a while.
I liked it when I first got it, but have since become indifferent about Essence Stay Natural concealer ($3.95). I don't need to conceal my undereyes because I ensure I get enough sleep, and I don't like this for blemishes- I have better concealers for that purpose.
Nail Polish
A wide selection of colours, easy to apply and almost streak-free, cheap. This is in this category because NYC and Ulta3 can do one better by offering 13mL for $2 while Essence is 5mL for $2.55, but Essence does some standout shades, eg Blue Addicted.
Lip Liner
I bought this one day because I didn't want to leave empty-handed. It's a pretty bad reason, and this is a pretty bad lip liner ($1 on sale). I place it in this category only because I believe it might help a lipstick's staying power if drawn all over the lips before lipstick application. I would not repurchase this, as I seldom wear lipstick, much less lip liner.

Gel Eyeliner
My first gel liner ($5.95), and I will have no other. Pigmented, waterproof, smudgeproof, budgeproof, available in a choice of shades. Italian-made, this is a definite star of Essence's range.
Illuminating Make Up Base
I received the illuminating makeup base ($7.50) in the 'Rainy Day' prize pack, and didn't like it because I didn't know how to use it, but figured it out over time, and I love it now. The pink tone to it is reminiscent of Benefit High Beam, but this is more of a cream consistency, as opposed to the liquid High Beam. Super easy to apply with fingers, my only gripe is that the pump is not the best and can be inconsistent with the amount dispensed.
The Silky Touch blushes ($4.95) are lovely. I have the shade 20 Babydoll and it is so easy to apply, the colour is pretty, the texture is soft and the powder refined, and the result is a natural, pretty everyday cheek colour for under $5. Made in Germany, I don't have the added worry of China-made dodginess like I do with the BYS blushes. I'm eyeing the shade 30 Secret It Girl next, for a peach blush option. Stay away from shade 40 Natural Beauty though, as it's said to be a disappointment colour-wise.
Blush Brush
I bought this as a cheap and cheerful alternative to the Sigma F40 Angled Contour brush. I don't reach for it often, as I prefer my Ecotools blush brush, but it is as soft as Ecotools (though nowhere near as dense), and the angle is perfect for a cheek contour. Not that I do it often, but for $5.50, this is one of Essence's better products.
Cream Shadows
The Stay All Day long lasting cream shadows ($5.50) are relatively easy to apply (with a slight tendency to clump in patches, but nothing a little blending won't solve), pigmented and super pretty. I own the shade Glammy Goes To... which is the most appealing shade to me, but there are also some silver and copper shades available. With the Maybelline Color Tattoos being released in Australia- I think this is closest to Bold Gold. I would definitely buy one if I didn't already own this.
*I've changed my mind about the Stay All Day cream shadows since: the consistency and application is a disappointment in comparison to the way the Maybelline Color Tattoos (post here). Save your money and get the Maybelline ones instead. ;)

This was so much fun to do, but I think Essence is the only brand that I've tried this comprehensively- I don't think I can do another post like this. Not for a long time, anyway.

I hope this was helpful, and that you can use the information to guide your purchasing! Take care, and God bless! xx

Ecotools 5 Piece Brush Set

When I was browsing the Ecotools range, I zeroed in on the 6 piece brush set for the blush brush, and dismissed this 5 piece set because the brushes sounded a little flippant - I remember thinking 'Why would you use that for mineral powder? Who would use that concealer brush?'. Boy I was wrong. Bloggers, Lena in particular (:P) sang its praises so much so that I wound up ordering this 5 piece set and the standalone blush brush instead of the 6 piece brush set. And I love this set- I use every single brush- a quality which would be remiss if I'd gotten the 6 piece set, because I don't need another lash and brow groomer or an iffy eye shading brush. 

From L-R.
01 Baby Kabuki: I love this. It's just a tiny bit too small for my liking, but it's still soft and fluffy and perfect for powder, and also cream blush. 

02 Eye Shading Brush: is a misnomer. This is a blending brush. And a great one at that. A definite eye makeup basic.

03 Concealer brush: This brush comes last, because I don't wear enough undereye concealer to warrant using it on a daily basis like the others. But when I do wear undereye concealer, I like to use this brush. 

04 Mineral Powder Brush: I can't imagine using this paddle-style brush for mineral powder because I own the Real Techniques Buffing brush and that brush is PERFECT for buffing in foundation. But this brush is really really good for sweeping powder to set base makeup. Fantastic for powder. I use it for both pressed and loose powder and it's soft and lovely and small enough to carry around in a makeup bag for touch-ups.

05 Pouch: I use this! I do- I use it to carry my Body Shop blotting tissues, Maybelline Dream Matte powder and that Mineral Powder Brush when I can remember to put it back in the pouch.

So for a beginner, this is just about the BEST brush starter kit in my opinion. You've got some multipurpose brushes which you can use for powder and blush, an eye blending brush and a concealer brush. For liquid foundation, I would recommend Real Techniques (being original, like every other beauty enthusiast out there), and I think that Ecotools complement Real Techniques really well to complete a brush collection. :)

Oh, and both brands are available from iHerb really affordably, especially in comparison to the prices at Priceline, which can be triple the amount for the same product.

That's an idea for brushes for beginners (like me): 

  • Ecotools blush brush; and 
  • this 5 piece set, 
  • Ecotools bronzer brush if you're into bronzer, 
  • Real Techniques Core Collection; 
  • Real Techniques Stippling or Powder Brush, depending on your needs, though if you have the Ecotools Bronzer brush you probably won't need the RT Powder brush as well;
  • Basic eyeshadow shader brushes- generic or branded, doesn't matter as long as it does the job.
Everyone raves about the RT blush brush but the Ecotools blush brush more than suffices as a fluffy blush brush, in my opinion. I want to get the Sigma E25 and E30 because what I really want are the MAC 217 and 219 but I don't want to spend that much on brushes so I'll opt for the Sigma versions instead. And imho, I think that would be all the brushes you would need!

I think something like this would be helpful for people just starting to buy/collect makeup because Lena helped me out and advised when I was browsing brushes and she was just SO helpful! So thank you Lena!

Hope that was helpful, take care and God bless! xx

Friday, July 13, 2012

Skin79 BB Cream

Everyone's heard about BB cream, whether it's Missha, the Face Shop, Laneige, Origins, Maybelline, Garnier, or my tried and tested brand, Skin79. 
BB cream's touted as an all-in-one skin base product: a primer, sunscreen and foundation rolled into one with some beneficial properties thrown in. I've only tried Skin79 BB creams, which only come in one shade. But the gimmick of BB cream is that it oxidises to your skintone.

Skin79 is Korea's leading BB cream brand, and does quite a few different BB creams for different needs. 

I've used the Hot Pink and VIP Gold ones, which I bought from a seller on eBay for around $16 and $14 respectively. They're both authentic, with the seal of authenticity and being from South Korea, apparently there are no fakes in Korea itself. 

The Super+ Triple Functions BB cream, or as most people call it, the 'hot pink one', is better for sebum control and therefore more suited to oilier skin. The packaging is a sort of canister with a pump. The 'triple functions' are whitening, UV protection SPF25 PA++ and wrinkle improvement. It's the best known and best selling BB cream of Skin79's range.

The VIP Gold Collection Super+ Triple Functions BB cream boasts gold and caviar extracts and almond oil to nourish the skin and make it 'smoother and more resilient'. It also has the triple functions thing with whitening, UV protection SPF25 PA++ and wrinkle improvement. 

Both contain arbutin, which has whitening properties, and I found that it helped lighten hyperpigmentation from acne scars. I wouldn't wear this out at night, for flash photos and whatnot, as there is a white cast from the SPF25. But they're great for daywear, but don't be alarmed when you put it on and you look grey, because they'll adjust to your colour in about 10mins. I like to double it up as a concealer for hyperpigmentation and go back in to layer the BB cream for more coverage. I'd say it's light coverage, and the consistency is pretty thick. They have a distinct scent too, which makes me cringe some days when I'm in a particularly OCD mood, but I usually don't mind it. I was silly and I bought the gold one in summer/autumn and the pink one in winter- big mistake and the wrong way around. So if I had to do it again, I'd get the gold one in winter and the pink one in the warmer months.

Bottom line, if you have normal/dry skin, go for the VIP Gold one. It'll improve the skin's texture and lighten scars. If you have oily/combination skin, get the pink one. It's got better oil control, and it'll lighten scars. You don't need a brush for these, just dot a pump of it around your face and blend it in with your fingers. It's a great beginner's introduction to face products and so easy to use. And you don't even need to colour match- it's so easy. I'm speaking from experience here. I'm glad this was my intro to face products- but I might set the pink one aside for spring/summer and wait for Neutrogena Healthy Skin and Bourjois Healthy Mix serum to arrive in the mail.

Hope that was helpful, take care and God bless! xx

Thursday, July 12, 2012

NOW I Need To Stop Spending

Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Anti-Chip Top Coat
Dove Essential Nutrients Alcohol-Free Clarifying Toner
I've been wanting to try this toner since I tried and liked the Dove cleanser I'm using now, and I shall try this when my skin clears up.

Ulta3 polishes in Scarlet and Earl Grey
I was so excited to see an Ulta3 stand at Target- I've rummaged half-heartedly through a couple of Ulta3 bins in the past, but I've only ever seen the same purple and black shades. I picked up Earl Grey, which I've been keeping an eye out for, and Scarlet, which is the 'perfect red polish' that I've been wanting for a while. I was hesitant about buying an Essence red polish because the bottles are TINY and I'd want to have lots of 'the perfect red polish', so I'm glad I found this one.

Kit Cosmetics at Myer
Soap and Glory Hand Food
I've heard so much about Soap and Glory and bought this hand cream purely because everyone raved about the scent- 'like Miss Dior Cherie' and YES I do want to try a fragrance on the grounds of sharing a name. Honestly I'm a little underwhelmed with how this smells. I thought the scent would be stronger and sweeter. But I was already in Myer, and it was only $6 so I bought it anyway. And you can always use another hand cream, right? It's lovely and non-greasy, and I think I like the scent better than Crabtree and Evelyn Lavender Hand Therapy.

CoverGirl Lash Exact Waterproof Mascara
Skin79 Super+ Triple Functions BB Cream
These are wayyy overdue. My friend ordered them for me months ago and I only met up with her today. But I know and trust in Skin79 BB creams and the seller I bought it from- I played with it today with my Buffing brush but it's a teeny bit too thick to buff in properly- I think I'll stick to fingers with the Skin79 BB cream. 
I bought the CoverGirl mascara because Jen from frmheadtotoe loves it so much (a HG!) and used it since in her earliest videos when she didn't wear double eyelid tape in her tutorials and she didn't know about Urban Decay Cannonball mascara, which we can't get here.

My Beauty Spot (That dodgy-looking stall in Myer Centre outside Myer)
OPI Bubble Bath
I got this to bridge the sheer milkiness of Essence Rose Glam from the French Glam collection, and my outright pink polishes, which in my opinion, would be the perfect wearable colour for me. 
There's been a big uproar about OPI Bubble Bath and the fact that there are two versions- an older white version and the newer 'pink' version. Let's get it out of the way: it's not pink. It's a sheer milky colour with dirty peach tones. But it's still appealing, and definitely one of the more attractive shades from the selection at the stall- they had My Private Jet too, which looked gorgeous but I passed on that, and I do like OPI's formula and brush and the fact that there are 15mL in a bottle- though that means you've really got to choose wisely. So Bubble Bath it was.

On a bit of a nail polish kick. The OPI Bubble Bath cost $9.99, which is suspiciously cheap, so when I came home I compared it to a genuine OPI which cost $22.00 and there's no difference, so this is either a really good fake, or that dodgy stall isn't as dodgy as I thought- they even accepted EFTPOS, which is unusual for such stands. 
I just did a couple of nails with the OPI Bubble Bath and the Sally Hansen Insta-Dri top coat, and I think I'm doing something wrong with the top coat because it's not working much better than the Essence top coat. I followed the directions- 2 mins for the colour to dry and 30 seconds for the top coat to dry- what am I doing wrong?! But I bought this top coat because:
(a) Sally Hansen's on sale at Priceline;
(b) Been wanting a decent one for a while;
(c) Mum asked me to do her nails before she flies back to Singapore for her 30 year RGS high school reunion!

As my family generally disapproves of the superficiality of a makeup habit and the hundreds of dollars said habit costs, Mum asking me to do her nails was a bit of a surprise. So that's exciting. It's still Uni holidays, but I will be crushed when semester two begins and I have to stress again. :(

I think I've bought almost everything which has been on my feasible wishlist, which means I have no reason to buy anything else until I've finished a decent amount of products. NO MORE SPENDING FOR ME. Woot. Let's try to stick with it this time. Jiayou!

Hope that was an enjoyable read! Take care, and God bless! xx

Standouts as at June 2012

So far, 2012 has been QUITE an eye-opener, both in LIFE EXPERIENCES, and INTERESTS and NEW THINGS. I think I really started getting into makeup and blogging in May- the main instigators of that were a lovely Australian beauty blogger community and finding Essence in Australia. Although I'm making myself slow down a little so my bank balance doesn't look quite so pathetic, I've still got a hefty interest in makeup and skincare. So, since I've been trying lots of products in the past couple of months, I thought I'd list out items which I've really enjoyed using, in the name of the first half of 2012. Some items may be the only one of its kind that I've tried, some may be the result of much shortlisting, but either way, I'll only include them if they've been impressive.

Skin79 VIP Gold Collection Super+ Triple Functions BB Cream

Bourjois Blush in 74 Rose Ambre
Essence Silky Touch Blush in 20 Babydoll
YSL Pop Stick Blush

Maybelline Dream Matte Powder in 05 Beige

Essence my base Illuminating Make Up Base

Eyeshadow Base
Revlon Illuminance creme shadow base in Seashells 11

Sleek i-Divine palette in Storm
Mirenesse Pearl Crush shadow trio in Akoya Pearls

Essence Gel Eyeliner in 01 Midnight in Paris
Face of Australia Liquid Liner in Black
Estee Lauder Softsmudge Pencil in Brown (Discontinued)

Maybelline Full 'N Soft Waterproof

Revlon Lip Butter in Peach Parfait

Korres Lip Butters- ALL of them

Ecotools and Real Techniques. I'm a convert. And I want more.

Shiseido Eyelash Curler 

Dove Cleanser and Toner in One
Aveeno Daily Moisturising Lotion
Lush Grease Lightning

Herbal Essences Drama Clean Shampoo
Herbal Essences Hello Hydration Conditioner
NPPE RD Protein Cream

Essence French Glam in Rose Glam
Essence Walk of Fame
OPI Pink-A-Doodle
Forever 21 love & beauty in Salmon

So those are a few of the products that I've really enjoyed using in the first half of 2012- I'm expecting a few more products to arrive in the mail this week- maybe those will make the highlights of 2012 part two? Anyway, hope you enjoyed reading, take care, and God bless! xx