28 March 2014

What I blew my fortnightly allowance on - Benefit Cosmetics Haul

So I blew the majority of my fortnightly allowance on Benefit Cosmetics slightly over a week ago. I have been eyeing the Porefessional shine-vanishing prop powder and the Bigger Than BB Big Easy foundation like thing. So when they had a St Patrick's day special, where you get a free full sized One Hot Minute powder for orders over $75, I was sold. 

Initially, I wanted to purchase the Nice Package! Custom Kit, which is a kit where you can pick three items and get a free item and a makeup bag for $79. However, it seems like you cannot (ever) combine other specials with the Nice Package! kit, making it less desirable. Nevertheless, I stopped sulking, soldiered on and picked $126 worth of stuff to get free shipping and qualify for the complimentary One Hot Minute powder.

The majority of the products  All the products I purchased were products for my complexion. I didn't mean for that to happen... it just did.

L-R: Big Easy; the Porefessional shine-vanishing PRO powder
As mentioned earlier in the post, I had my eye on Big Easy and The Porefessional Shine-Vanishing Pro Powder. So it takes no genius to figure out that these two products were added to my shopping cart from the start of my little shopping spree.

I've just tried Big Easy on, as I took my makeup off after a long, hard day of work before mum wanted me to accompany dad to Coles. I thought it'd be a perfect opportunity to slap a thin layer of Big Easy on to see how it feels. First impressions are positive. I love the coverage of this! I didn't put any primer on underneath, neither did I set it with powder, and it's still matte after 2 hours! I will most likely do a more comprehensive review of this after thoroughly testing it out, but I have high hopes for this one!

L-R: Boi-ing & eye bright; One Hot Minute
 I've heard/read so many good reviews on the boi-ing concealer that I wanted to try it out again. I remember trying this out when I purchased the Confessions of a Concealaholic kit years ago, but I didn't think much of it. I thought I'd give it a go again and see how it compares to my HG concealer - Make Up For Ever Full Cover (reviewed here). The eye bright portion of this compact also played a part in my decision to add this to the shopping cart. Although it was part of the Confessions of a Concealaholic kit, I didn't think much of this either, but I'm keen to give it a go now that I'm a little older and my tastes in makeup has changed slightly.

One Hot Minute was the freebie that I received. It is a loose rose-gold finishing powder. I'm quite curious to see if this would make me look like a disco ball.

L-R: the Porefessional; fake up in medium
I also picked up the Porefessional primer and fake up kit. I thought it was a good value for money, as the Porefessional is a fantastic primer, and I wanted to try fake up (I have to be one of the last bloggers to try this concealer)!

Benefit Goodtime Gals
To get myself over the $125 to get free shipping, I added the Goodtime Gals kit to my cart.  I'm thinking about giving this away in my next giveaway or as a bonus in my blog sale.

I was given three samples - the porefessional shine-vanishing pro powder, fake up in light, and Big easy.

The big easy and porefessional shine-vanishing pro powder samples are impressive! I like how they included a brush with the porefessional powder sample, and six different shades of Big Easy! Although, I used three shades (02 light, 03 light/medium and 04 medium) and still needed more to cover the rest of my face. I found that all three shades blended in really well, so the differences in shades wasn't all that noticeable, making it easier to pick a shade online if you can't get a sample.

So there goes (the majority of) my fortnightly allowance! Have you tried any of these Benefit products before? Would you like to see a review of any of these products?

27 March 2014

Lust Have It - March 2014

This is the last box of my yearly Lust Have It subscription. I have not re-subscribed and probably won't be resubscribing. I'm a bit disappointed at how late Lust Have It has been sending out their monthly boxes. There seem to always be an excuse, and it's just getting old.

There were no boxes this month. Instead, everything was placed in a bubble wrap bag and wrapped with a paper containing information of products in the bag.

I personally don't mind this at all if there were no breakages (and there weren't any). I have a ton of lust have it boxes, and although I'm "recycling" them as storage containers for small items such as nail files, I still have some empty ones that I have no idea what to use them for.

At a glance, I was quite pleased with the products given to me this month. Makeup product, check! Nail polish, check! No stupid sachets (besides recoverlyte, but you can't really package it in anything else), check!

1. Bloom Secret Weapon Concealer Kit in Medium/Dark - full size ($20 for 5.5g)
"This palette of six concealer essentials camouflages dark circles, blemishes and discoloration. The light, creamy formula is a cinch to apply for perfect coverage with a velvety smooth finish."

I was initially annoyed that I received a product that I can't use as it has Medium/Dark shades, however I applied a bit of the "Dark" (or maybe it was deep) shade and it wasn't too bad when blended into bare skin (it's the top right shade). It's surprisingly creamy too. I'm looking forward to trying this!

2. Klara Cosmetics Kiss Proof Lips - 1.2ml (RRP: $29 for 8ml)
"Consisting of 100% pigmentation, Kiss Proof gives you 24 hour long lasting matte lips, full coverage and high voltage shades that make lips pop in 60 seconds. Available in a stunning range of tones, from classic nudes to the hottest notice-me colours, that don't smudge, fade or bleed all day."

Unfortunately, I got a shade that I wouldn't use. This is shade 06 Vintage Burgundy. Pigmentation is fantastic (see swatch below) and lasting power is to die for. I love that it stains, as I hate reapplying makeup throughout the day.

Although it's a gorgeous red, it's not a shade that I'd wear. I only wear nude-pink colours. I think I will be throwing this as a freebie the next time someone buys something from my blog sale, as it's only been swatched on my arm.

I tried removing it with a wet wipe after letting it sit there for about 10 minutes. I scrubbed quite roughly and there still was a visible stain. I'm impressed!

3. Chapstick Strawberry Lip Balm SPF15 - full size (RRP: $4.69 for 4.2g)
"This strawberry flavour lip balm softens and protects for smooth, silky lips every day. It helps heal and prevent dry, chapped lips."

Good ole' chapstick. There's not much to say about chapstick. It's a good product to have, as even the husband can use it when he gets dry lips especially since winter is coming.

4. Aveda Intensive Hydrating Masque - 7ml (RRP: $79.95 for 150ml)
"Oil-free masque that hydrates and cools skin, providing soothing relief from dryness, stress and exposure to the elements. Made with organic aloe, kelp and lavender, it helps to soothe and condition skin while rose water helps one and refresh skin."

I thought this masque was quite interesting, as I was expecting an opaque masque but instead squeezed out a translucent gel that feels cool and refreshing on my skin. It has a soft, subtle herbally smell, which is great if you're like me and aren't into the herbally fragrances that most Aveda products have. Since I don't have dry skin, I'm thinking this might come in handy when my skin reacts to self tanners and flares up in rashes (see rant here).

5. Recoverlyte Tropical Powder - 8g (RRP: $11.95 for 10 sachets)
"Its unique new effervescent powder formulation with a four-way blend of Electrolytes, Vitamins, Minerals and Amino Acids, developed to provide advanced recovery and energy after a late night out. Scientifically developed, Recoverlyte is a tropical flavoured effervescent powder designed to restore the body's natural electrolyte balance and to provide a much needed energy boost when a late night involves lack of sleep, alcohol or vigorous activity."

I giggled when I read "late night... vigorous activity". I don't use powders such as this, so I'm unsure if I'll ever use it. I'm just far too lazy (and always forget) to dissolve a sachet of powder into water.

6. Orly Nail Lacquer - 5.4ml (RRP: $18.95 for 18ml)
"By keeping hot on the heels of the latest trends, ORLY's talented team of colour experts deliver the bright ideas, hot colours and bold textures. ORLY's nail lacquers are all formulated without DBP, Formaldehyde and Toulene."

I LOVE nail polishes! I love this shade that I got, as I enjoy mixing up my nail polishes. This would be fantastic at creating a different look/dimension to creme polishes. I can't wait to use this!

Overall, I'm quite content with this month's Lust Have It "box". However, this isn't enough to make me want to renew my subscription, as there were far too many boxes I wasn't satisfied with over the past 12 months.

What did you receive in your Lust Have It box? Are you happy with what you have received?

Having the worst luck with Self-Tanners

I used to pride and count myself very lucky not to have allergies. I don't consider myself to have sensitive skin, and can normally try new products out without having to worry about side effects. This is until I tried self-tanners (as I didn't want to die prematurely of skin cancer... although diabetes and high blood pressure don't seem to concern me as much considering the amount of sugar I consume).

The first self-tanner I tried was a St. Tropez one. It was a gradual self-tanner and it worked well. I just wished that it was an instant one. So I tried the St Tropez mousse self tanner. I only put some on my legs and I broke out in a rash. I didn't attribute it to the self-tanner, as I don't normally react to skincare products and didn't react to the gradual one. The rash was unbearably itchy. I went to the doctor, and she said I had extremely dry skin and prescribed a hydrocortisone ointment (Cortic DS Ointment) that stunk like wee. It was meant to help relieve redness, swelling, itching and other skin discomforts. Unfortunately, it didn't work all that well. Side-effects gradually became less severe and took about a week to a week and a half for it to disappear completely.

I then tried a different self tanner. This time it was the Bondi Sands mousse. I reacted to it as well. I had suspicions that the self tanner was the cause, and decided to put it to the test again about 2-3 weeks later after my skin has calmed down. My skin flared up again, and thankfully I had some anti-histamines at hand to help with the itching. It worked so much better than the stupid hyrdocortisone ointment.

I did some research online and found out that DHA is most likely the culprit of my skin flare up. DHA is the ingredient in self tanners that darkens the skin. There are some scary stuff out there about DHA, which may explain why my skin hates it so much. Apparently, DHA may cause DNA damage and cancer. The good news is that DHA tends not to migrate past the dead layer of skin when using self tanners in lotion form. But if you spray tan, the chances that you'll inhale some DHA, which is not good.

This was when I purchased the sensitive St Tropez lotion. I was hoping it would contain less DHA and would thus prevent the severe flare up of my skin. My hopes were short lived, as the side effects were still there. Although, they seemed a bit more bearable than the others (or perhaps I was getting used to it).

Trying not to give up hope on having sun-kissed skin without getting some form of cancer and being plagued by rashes, I looked into organic self-tanners. I have yet to purchase any, as I'm poor (the husband has put me on a budget... I know. The monstrosity!) and I'm not ready to be disappointed yet again. I decided to put my small collection of self-tanners up for sale on my blog (click here) to raise some funds to find the perfect self-tanner that won't create havoc for my skin.

If you have a great self-tanner that you think my skin would love or if you've tried a fantastic organic self-tanner, please let me know!

24 March 2014

Review & Swatches: Gwen Stefani for OPI - Over & Over A-Gwen and Love Angel... Music Baby

It's no secret that I've got an unhealthy obsession with nail lacquers to achieve perfectly manicured nails. So it was a no brainer decision when offered a chance to trial and review a couple of polishes from the Gwen Stefani for OPI collection.

I was sent two polishes from the collection - OPI Over & Over A-Gwen and Love Angel... Music Baby.

OPI Over & Over A-Gwen (I love the names OPI comes up with) is a creme gloss bright, classic red colour. I'm sure there are quite a few dupes for this particular shade, but what makes it special is that it comes in a collector's box with swarovski elements, a small booklet for inspiration and a small tube of glue.

As much as I love creme finishes, I tend to associate them with streakiness. However, Over & Over A-Gwen has a surprisingly non-streaky formula. I also find reds to be highly pigmented, and this one is no exception. You could get away with one coat if you were in a rush, but I always prefer having two coats.

I'm not fantastic at nail art, especially when it comes to using studs and gems. For my first design, I came up with this look...

I used OPI Love Angel... Music Baby (more details further down) on my ring finger to create red single chevron lines. I then stuck five black round Swarovski crystals on the gold chevron line. I wasn't all that impressed with the way it looked, so after snapping a few shots, I decided to try again with another design.

Before I reveal the next design, I want to express the frustration and difficulty I had with the small black round Swarovski crystals. They were a nightmare to stick on my nails! I used tweezers and had two main problems. One was that I kept losing grip of it. The second was having trouble applying glue to just the crystal. The booklet recommended to apply a drop of glue on a piece of aluminium foil and then using a toothpick to pick some glue up and deposit it on the crystal. I didn't like this method and I could not get enough glue on the toothpick to transfer, so I tried dipping the crystal into the glue on the aluminium foil. This was a fail, as my tweezers ended up getting glue on it, and the crystal would stick to the tweezer and wouldn't transfer to my nail. So I ended up having to apply glue straight from the tube to the crystal. It was slightly messy, as it's hard to control the amount of glue that is squeezed out onto the crystal. I ended up losing three or four of the black round crystals in my attempt to create the first look. :(

For my second look, I primarily used the square studs. They were much easier to apply then the small round black crystals. I much prefer the second look to the first one.

On my thumb, I stuck a diamond shaped stud in the middle on my nail. I left all the studs on for a few days to try it out (and also, I didn't have time or energy to do another mani). After a few days, I realised why I don't use studs all that much in my manis - they catch on far too many things (e.g. towels, clothes). This may be due to not enough glue being used or the studs being too large to sit flush to my nails due to the nail being too "rounded" and not flat like paper (if that makes any sense).

Removal of these large studs weren't as bad as I thought they would be. They came off fairly easily with a tiny bit of prying and could be re-used.

The second nail lacquer from the Gwen Stefani for OPI collection is Love Angel... Music Baby, which is a really unique nail polish. It is a gorgeous soft semi-matte gold with a satin finish. I absolutely love this finish. It's almost like the textured, liquid sand but without the roughness.

The formula is amazing. It's not streaky at all and is opaque enough for a one coat manicure. It dries super quickly as well, which is a plus in my books, as I'm a very impatient person.

I absolutely adore Love Angel... Music Baby. The colour and formulation of this polish is amazing and makes me want to hoard collect more Satin polishes.

These products were kindly provided for my consideration. All opinions expressed are my own.

17 March 2014

Wantable - March 2014

I received my favourite beauty subscription box, Wantable, in the mail yesterday after tracking it eagerly for the past two weeks. Wantable is the only beauty subscription box that actually hand picks products per your preferences via a pretty comprehensive survey that you fill out prior to subscribing. All items are full sized and it usually arrives before any of my Australia beauty boxes despite coming all the way from the US. It is a tat more expensive than the Australian beauty boxes but totally worth it, as you know that you'll most probably like everything you get. Also, it's a fantastic way to try new products from the states out if you live in an isolated country like Australia, where we get everything late and at a crazily inflated.

Please excuse the blurry photo. I didn't realise it was that blurry until I was editing my photos. 

I received four products this month. Unfortunately, there were no samples in this month's box (there's normally one sample per box).

Liberty Republic Spellbound Nail Lacquer in Belladonna - RRP: USD$14.00 
"Ready for a new take on the classic nude polish? Belladonna is a chic, light pinkish coral that looks gorgeous with any skin tone. Beauty Tip: Mix it up and try a matte top coat to edge up this stunning girl-next-door shade."

I absolutely love nail polishes, especially pale pink shades! So this nail polish is right up my alley. I whacked two layers on last night, and it was gorgeous. It wasn't streaky at all.

Mistura Beauty Retractable Brush - RRP: USD$18.82
"The ultra-soft synthetic-hair bristles pop out from the handle and wash the cheeks with your customized Mitsura shade! Avoid potential allergic reactions to animal fur and get gorgeous while on the go with this travel-friendly, cruelty-free must-have! Beauty Tip: The ultra-soft synthetic-hair bristles pop out from the handle and wash the cheeks with your customized Mistura shade! Fan it out fully to sweep powder over your face or retract your brush upwards for more concentrated pigmentation around the eyes, cheekbones or to cover hard-to-reach blemish areas around the nose."

Not a big fan of this brush despite the soft bristles and its travel-friendly properties. I tried using it has a blush brush and it didn't transfer the blush on my cheeks evenly, resulting in patchy pink cheeks. Not a good look. Might try it as an all over face brush for loose powder to set my foundation.

LAQA & Co. Fat Lip Pencil in Wolfman - RRP: USD$18.00
"Ditch the lip balm, liner and gloss with this all-in-one Fat Lip Pencil. The smooth buttery texture coats lips in stunning, glossy color and comes in a handy jumbo pencil that needs no sharpener. Wolfman is the lightest and most innocent shade of pink. Glamour Magazine says this color is "soft enough to be sweet but it's also kind of sassy." Packaging artwork created by Mark Mawson. Mark has been shooting in Sydney for several years. He specialises in shooting fashion and people underwater. Beauty Tip: Exfoliate lips to make them smooth, then slick on this gorgeous pencil. Line the lips first, then fill them in for the prettiest pout."

The Beauty Tip contradicts the blurb about the lip pencil. When I applied this the first time on bare lips, I found that it was a bit drying. However, over the top of a lip balm, it was fantastic. The colour is natural and is quite sheer, but suits my preferences to the T. It smells pepperminty, like those of the Revlon Kissable Balm Stain.

Girlactik Beauty The Grey Liner - RRP: USD$19.00
"Formulated to withstand everything from tears to inclement weather, this waterproof, angled eyeliner twists up and never needs sharpening. It won't smudge or streak when wearing on your eyes. Beauty Tip: For a simple but sexy, smoky eye, apply liner to the outer corner of the eye and smudge with a brush or finger to soften the line."

I was quite surprised at how pigmented this was when swatched (see picture below). However, it came at a price - the tip broke off. I used it yesterday to test this beauty out. I wasn't all that impressed unfortunately. It coated my lashes in grey liner and kind of "glued" them together, making them look like spider lashes. Although it was nothing a lash comb could fix, it was an extra step to my makeup routine that I could do without especially if I'm in a rush to get to work.

Swatches of LAQA & Co Fat Lip Pencil & Girlactik Beauty The Grey Liner
I was really excited with the contents of this box. However, after trying them all out, some were a bit of a disappointment. But the point of subscribing to beauty subscription boxes is to explore new brands and products, which is what Wantable has delivered, as all four products sent to me were products that I'd use or purchase myself.

Wantable costs USD$36 a month and is currently only available to residents in USA, Canada, Australia and UK. Shipping costs varies depending on where you live. For Australia, it's USD$10. If you'd like to sign up, I'd greatly appreciate it if you could use my personal invitation link here, as I get USD$10 credit towards my next box.

If you can't afford it, you can try your luck at winning one of 21 Wantable makeup boxes here. Hurry, as the giveaway ends 21st March 2014 at 12 CST!

12 March 2014

Review - HG Concealer Alert: Make Up For Ever Full Cover Concealer

After years of trialling concealers, I have finally decided that no concealer can beat Make Up For Ever Full Cover Concealer. It is the best concealer I've ever tried, and wish I discovered it when my face was plagued with pimples in high school.

I don't expect much from concealers, as long as they stay put all day, are sweat/waterproof, conceals my blemishes/scars, and blends easily, I'm happy. But in my experience, many concealers don't last all day. They tend to fade about halfway through the day. So I was so excited when I finally found a concealer that fulfills my criteria. 
There are twelve different shades, and the only problem with this concealer is that I'm between shades. The two closest shades to my skin tone are 6 and 7. Although, I could get away with one or the either if I blend really well. But I don't have time to fuss around when I have to get to work to earn money to buy more of these bad boys.

Although they are a bit on the pricey side at USD$32 on Sephora (I don't want to even find out how much they'd cost in Australia) for 15ml worth of product, it's so worth it as a little goes a long way.
I also love the packaging of this concealer. I absolutely HATE concealers in a pot, as I find them so unhygienic. It's like I have enough bacteria on my face, I don't need to grow more in a pot thanks. So I fully appreciate that this comes in a tube. It's so easy to control how much product to squeeze out as well. Since I have to carry two tubes of concealer, I love that it's super lightweight and portable. It doesn't take up much room in my makeup bag when I travel. I would also say it doesn't take up much room in my everyday makeup bag, but I don't have to carry them with me as touch ups are not required thanks to its long lasting power!

L-R: Shade 6; Shade 7
Please excuse the black dots on my arm in the swatch above. I was testing out some eyeliner, and it wouldn't budge. The Make Up For Ever Full Cover concealer is very creamy and quite thick in texture, but it is really easy to blend. However, it is essential that you don't put too much on, as it will look cakey.

To illustrate the truth of its "full cover" claim, I decided to swatch Tarte Amazonia Clay 12-hour blush on either side of the concealer blobs, as it's normally redness or discolouration that I have trouble with.

This is as rough in blending as I go everyday. As you can see (especially for the lighter shade, Shade 6), it covers the redness of the blush perfectly. I think a bit of the blush was mixed in with Shade 7 as I was attempting to roughly blend it in.

And because I have oily skin, I always set my concealer and foundation with powder. I used Make Up For Ever Super Matte Loose Powder (it's mixed with a bit of Ben Nye's Banana Powder and Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder, as I was starting to run out and love the container) to set the concealer. It may look cakey on my arm, but please bear in mind that I haven't got primer and a good foundation underneath to create a smooth canvas for the concealer to blend into.

What is your favourite concealer? Have you tried the Make Up For Ever Full Cover Concealer? What are your thoughts?

05 March 2014

Review & Swatches: Illamasqua Shattered Star Nail Lacquers

I'm so excited to share this review with you, as I absolutely LOVE the Illamasqua Shattered Star Nails collection. There are three different shades in the Shattered Star collection - Trilliant, Marquise and Fire Rose. The Shattered Star nail lacquers are textured nail polishes, similar to those of OPI Liquid Sands, Zoya Pixiedust, and China Glaze Texture. I personally don't mind textured nail polishes, as it's nothing a few coats of top coat can't fix if you're sick of the rough sand-like texture. Furthermore, 99% of the time, a few coats of top coat can change the colour of the nail polish, especially if there are glitters in it, as the top coat really brings out the glitter.

My first ever Illamasqua nail lacquer was the infamous Pink Raindrops. The colour was absolutely gorgeous in the bottle but was a nightmare to apply. It was thick and goopy from the first application. I added quite a few drops of thinner, and it was good for a bit before quickly becoming thick and goopy again. I nearly lost hope until I purchased Lament, a coral pinky colour. It still wasn't all that impressed with the formula but it was much better than Pink Raindrops. So, at least there was still hope for Illamasqua nail lacquer, which was restored after trialling the Illamasqua Shattered Star collection.

L-R: Marquise, Fire Rose, Trilliant
Words cannot describe how gorgeous these three nail polishes are.

Marquise is a bright and vibrant reddish orange with gold micro glitter. It reminds me of fire.

Fire Rose is a rose/hot pink-ish (although not as vibrant as what I'd call a true hot-pink colour) with silver micro glitter and slightly bigger glitter. The silver micro glitter is so fine that at certain angles, it can look more silver than rose/hot pink

Trilliant is a champagne coloured polish with silver glitter, which is similar to Fire Rose.

L-R: Marquise, Fire Rose, Trilliant
All three polishes had very similar (if not identical) formulas. They dried so quickly, went on smoothly without streakiness, had the perfect pigmentation, and is not thick and goopy! 

L-R: Trillant, Fire Rose, Marquise
As you may be able to see, the shattered star nail lacquers can be quite rough. But it didn't bother me all that much, as the colours were so gorgeous!

I didn't do a proper manicure with each colour, as I couldn't decide which one to pick first, so I swatched it on the acrylic nail wheel and did two different nail art manis using 2-3 of these polishes.

Fire Rose
I honestly cannot pick a favourite out of these three beauties. They're all so friggin gorgeous that I've been wearing the same mani for THREE days! The last time I wore a mani this long was for my wedding (only because I didn't have time to re-do it).

I'm going to cut to the chase and spam all the pictures of my two different manis. 

For the first mani, I used Trilliant as the base, and stuck some single chevron nail stickers on before painting Marquise over the top and then removing the stickers to create this look.

The second mani utilises all three shattered star nail lacquers to create an ombre effect with Marquise at the top, followed by Fire Rose, and then Trilliant at the tips. It reminds me of a sun rise/sun set.

I then added a couple layers of top coat, which really brings out the glitter and makes the colours more vibrant.

Illamasqua Shatter Star Nail Lacquers retail for $22.50 each, and if you could only money for one Illamasqua, you should definitely give one of these three a go! I can't help you pick which one of the three, because they're all so gorgeous. 

This product was kindly provided for my consideration. All opinions expressed are my own.