Makeup Startup: Concealer Lowdown – How to Use it and Mini Reviews

Welcome to another Makeup Startup post, dear readers. Before I get started, let me tell you, this one was actually a lot harder than I expected to write. Formulating a post about concealers really forced me to confront my face’s flaws, for lack of a better word..

It really reminded me that it’s important to be as clear as possible about the fact that this is all optional. Faces are beautiful, no matter what. Your face is beautiful, my face is beautiful, everyone’s face is a beautiful and good face. Everyone’s skin is good skin. However, of course there are times when we want to look our best. Or perhaps we have been kept awake all night by a snoring French Bulldog that we are dogsitting, and we want to look a little less tired than we actually are. JUST AN EXAMPLE. Or maybe we just have areas of our face that are more red than others, and it makes our whole makeup application look more flawless if we pay a little more attention to those areas. Whatever the reason, concealer is the solution to these problems.

Foundation’s purpose is not to cover all our flaws. This is something I’ve been learning for the first time just recently. It’s really just to even out skintone and for those of us who have amazing skin, maybe that makes you look flawless all by itself. If so, congratulations!

So for today’s demonstration I used a light to medium coverage foundation, the Sephora Teint Infusion Ethereal Natural Finish Foundation in the shade 16 (linen), $24 from Sephora. It’s a sample I picked up recently and lemme tell you it’s pretty darn nice. Anyway, I applied a light layer with a buffing brush to create even more of a light finish. Here’s a before and after.

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Before

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After – sorry about the light changes, it’s another semi-overcast day in VT!

So as you can see, a light layer of a light to medium foundation evens things out a bit but doesn’t cover up all the flaws that are on my face. Let’s talk about those for a minute. Check out my amazing Paint diagram!

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A lot of things~

We all have these things. Well, the melasma maybe not, it’s a weird hormonal pigmentation on the face, usually under the eyes. It gets worse when I’m on my period, and is a result of extra oestrogen.. to the point that it gets called “the mask of pregnancy” – women often suffer from it while they’re pregnant. Anyway, the other things we all suffer from. I feel that they all require different treatment and different concealers. Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to use them, it’s just my recommendation from what I have learned. Here’s my concealer collection:

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Concealers come in different types. The quick rundown is that some of them are just matte coverup types, they have a high pigment content and are generally a cream consistency. Some are brightening because they contain tiny reflective pigments, these are best under the eyes or on parts you wish to highlight (popular areas are down the middle of the nose, between the eyebrows and the center of the chin). Some are color correcting, so they might be green, salmon-pink or even blue. I want to start with those because when I’m really putting my best effort into concealing, this is what I start with.

For this, I use my beloved, trusty Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage palette ($49 from Adore Beauty in Australia and $34 from Sephora in the USA).

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As you can see, one side is a pinky-salmon toned (looks more brown in the pic) shade, and the other side is more yellow/neutral toned. The salmon-pink color is best for people with bad dark circles most of the time, because it cancels out the blueish tones of under-eye darkness. Using a color correcting concealer means you don’t have to slather on as much product to cover up the dark circles! Hooray! This product is especially great because you get 2 concealers in one. You can mix these by rubbing your ring finger in one then the other, or put on one at a time. That’s what I do. I pat the salmon color in the areas where I’m the most blue/dark-circley. I then pat a bit of the yellow color, using the same finger, in the area a little lower which helps to cover the melasma a little better. To brighten, I use a few dabs of something like the NARS Radiant Creamy concealer in Vanilla or Custard (sometimes both, one is a smidge too light and one is about right, but it’s fine to go a little lighter under the eyes).

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Seriously good shit right here.

These are on the pricey side too, $29 from Sephora and $40 from Mecca, but they are absolutely magic concealers for the under eye area and any other areas you want to brighten. This is what I used on this side of my face in the under-eye area. For a good drugstore dupe, check out the Maybelline Fit Me concealers which are around $18 at Priceline.

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I’m not aware of any dupes for the Laura Mercier product, none that are cheaper anyway. I know Bobbi Brown does a color corrector as well (the salmon shade is called “bisque”, I think) but I doubt it’s cheaper. However this does not mean that there aren’t any dupes. I’ve just relied on the LM for so long that I have never really had to look! If you know of one, do let me know! Anyway, after I’ve applied both those things, I use a soft, round, small brush (like the Real Techniques contour brush which I feel would be terrible for contour, or the ELF small stippling brush or its MAC equivalent) to blend it all in so it looks seamless. Then I IMMEDIATELY set the area with some powder. I do this one eye at a time, because I really feel that one of the keys to not creasing in the under-eye area is to set as quickly as you can. A yellow-toned powder is best for this, I use the Besame brightening vanilla powder, but the Kat Von D contour palette has a good yellow in it as well. You could use any old powder though, it doesn’t have to be yellow, translucent is fine too. Here’s the finished result (one eye only obviously, the other eye is just after foundation).

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Mugshot face v important

So as you can see, it’s not ~~~flawless~~~ but you know, that’s not really how I roll. I still like to look like somewhere in between undead and actually dead. I see these girls with these bright, glittery, super-flat and perfect under-eye area and it honestly looks a little weird and unnatural to me. I don’t mind having a bit of stuff still showing it’s nbd I’m a human I am tired sometimes and under-eye bags are a perfectly natural and normal part of ageing that really can’t be reversed so whatever!

On the other side, I used a bit of a drugstore favorite of mine – the Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer (in light-medium).

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Seriously good.

I smoosh this one straight from the sponge into around the same area/s that I’d put the LM concealer. If I was putting this onto a pimple (I don’t normally do that, only if I’m in a hurry and don’t want to change products), I use a brush just to be a bit more hygienic. I give the sponge a spray with alcohol every so often too. Even though this can mean the product is wasted a bit, it’s a good idea for hygiene reasons.

For this side, I used the Maybelline Fit Me concealer instead of the NARS like I used on the other side. You can also use something like the Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Full Coverage concealer ($28 at Sephora, $36 at Mecca) for this task. In fact that is a great all-rounder concealer because it doesn’t have any reflective particles in it but is still fairly brightening. I really like this concealer a lot! But I elected to use the other Maybelline one today. I remembered to take a picture of the “setup” this time.

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Application setup and post-application

Note: this side actually looks better but that’s a trick of the light – I’m faced more towards the window with the side I just did. They look about the same when I look in the mirror. But you can make up your own mind at the end I suppose!

So with anything else, like pimples or healing pimples which leave pigmentation behind, or redness around the nose, you want to use a non-reflective concealer. For this, I like the MAC Pro Longwear Concealer ($20 at MAC USA, $32 at MAC Au) a lot.

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It’s really pigmented and therefore has great coverage. I hate the packaging though! You only need a tiny little bit and it’s impossible to get out a little bit in my experience. I also love the Make Up For Ever Full Cover Concealer ($32 from Sephora, $46 from Media Makeup Store in Australia).

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Pricey but lasts a very, very long time, way longer than its expiry date unless you’re using it to cover your whole face probably!

So here’s the bad news. If you have a large, raised, swollen pimple, there’s not a whole lot you can do to cover it. Because it’s gonna cast a shadow, however small, which brings attention to it. You can lessen the redness though. For that, Lisa Eldridge has a great “scribble” technique tutorial that shows the technique to a more exacting level than I do. What I do is normally put a little bit of the concealer onto the back of my hand then I use my fingertip to smear out the concealer a little bit so it’s not in a blob, then I take a little bit on my fingertip or a tiny brush like the Real Techniques detailer brush (or even a clean lip or eyeliner brush) and dot it onto the affected area. I then use my fingertip to blend out the edges of the concealer so it blends into the foundation. Try not to smear it around – you want to use patting/dotting motions. I know Lisa uses a brush but tbqh I just couldn’t be bothered, you know? Anyway, I use the same concealer around the edges of my nose where I get some redness as well, and sometimes around the edges of my lips if that area is looking a bit sallow.

Anyway, now that that’s done, this is the finished result.

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Before & after foundation & concealer application

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And the side-view..

So if you wanted to powder, now would be a good time. Remember to use a big, fluffy, SOFT brush to apply your powder so that you aren’t moving your concealer around and ruining your hard work. I usually do a bit more of a “patting” motion with the brush rather than a swishing/buffing motion in the areas I’ve placed concealer.

I hope this has been helpful and that I’ve addressed the questions about concealer that may or may not have been on your minds! Let me know if there’s any major parts I’ve missed.

Thanks for reading! Remember to follow me on instagram, Facebook and Twitter for updates about posts as they go up.

Love+++
F&V

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Makeup Startup: Face Base-ics [Higher End Brands]

I had weirdly put off this post, and I think I have figured out why. It’s all part of my stupid “I am not worthy of opinions about makeup what do I know!?” thing. And the stakes are higher here, because if one of you guys takes my advice and buys one of these then you spent LOTS OF MONEY AND WHAT IF IT SUCKS OH GOD

Anyway that’s ridiculous and stupid, you guys know what works for you and what doesn’t, and if you don’t maybe this will actually help! Or you can take it back. Probably. YOU DO YOU, BOO!

Buying foundation at places like Sephora, Mecca or department stores where it’s going to be more than $30 is scary to me. What if it sucks? What am I going to do with it?! Well the good news is that lots of places have amazing returns policies these days, I know Mecca and Sephora do, anyway. Not sure about department stores. And they usually have great sample policies too, they’ll give you a decent sized sample so you can try a few. Like the sample haul I recently obtained from Sephora, for example…

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Thanks, Holly at Sephora in JCPenney West Lebanon!

Anyway, on with the post. Here’s my collection.

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It’s not super extensive really, compared to the drugstore one, because of aforementioned nervousness. As always there’s lots of high coverage, matte finishes but not all…

Note: I’m going to include some brushes in these photos, I’ll try to match the foundation to its best applicator.

First up, the newest foundation from a favorite makeup brand of mine – NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation.

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I wasn’t really planning on buying this, because when I read “luminous” I lose interest immediately. I’m oily. I don’t need any more luminous-ness. Or do I?! Lately I’m being divested of that opinion a little bit, as luminous products become more “sophisticated, subtle glow” and less “terrifying greasy disco ball”. Anyway, point of the story, I do not think this product is very luminous. When the lady at Mecca in Sydney put it on me I was like “… dude this isn’t glowy at all” and she agreed wholeheartedly. I think NARS is kinda bad with naming their foundations on the whole. You can see that I have a sample of NARS Sheer Glow that I’m getting through at the moment. It’s not sheer or too glowy really, I love it and I’m pretty sure it’ll be my next purchase. One of the main things I think has always held me back from NARS foundation purchases is that they have not previously had a pump on the packaging. ADLW does! When I discovered this, I knew it had to be mine after I saw how beautiful it was on my skin. I was a weirdly different shade than I would have thought (Vallauris, described as medium with pink undertones) – much darker, and honestly every time I apply it I freak out but once it settles, it looks fine and it looks especially nice in photographs. Observe my “day of freaking out that I really had bought a too-dark shade” on instagram, including a before & after (at top):

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NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation demo pictures

Looks pretty nice, and I do think it’s quite full coverage as described. You’re meant to be able to achieve full coverage with one drop but I don’t really know what that means. Of my whole face? Ummmm

I still need to use at least a pump of this, a bit more depending on what I’m using to apply. Speaking of which: I really like to use a dense brush to apply this. I know that some would say using a dense brush creates too much coverage but for me that’s not really a thing, and this foundation doesn’t lend itself to cakiness unless you truly slather it on, I don’t recommend doing this obviously. The Sigma F88 Angled Flat Kabuki is perfect for this. The angle of the brush means that there’s a slightly pointed end to it which is great for getting into the corners of the eye area and the nose. I do not feel that this foundation requires any powder, maybe a tiny bit to set concealer and in the t-zone.

Important tip! Shake the everloving CRAP out of this product before applying it. Shake it for about twice as long as you think you should!

I think this is a great foundation for all skin types, even those who have dry skin, if full coverage is something you strive for. You don’t need much to achieve good coverage. The packaging is nice and sturdy, it’s heavy matte glass so not amazing for travel but it comes with a pump so that’s great, good job NARS! Now make it so we don’t have to buy a separate pump with the others, please and thank you, that’s really obnoxious. Nobody wants a gross, messy open-necked bottle what are we meant to do, pour it out? Stick a q-tip in there? Idk. Anyway, you can grab this sexy little number from Sephora in the USA for $48 or in Australia for $70 from Mecca. Yep – it’s up there in price! But it is a luxe brand that I trust, so I’m down.

Speaking of luxe and trusted brands, here’s the next gem – Chanel Mat Lumiere foundation.

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I bought this on a very special day (actually, exactly a year ago today in Australia!) from Terry White Chemists in Stockland. The Chanel lady did my makeup and I really liked how matte and flawless my makeup looked!

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Bronzer man. It’s a thing.

However. I think she did do quite a bit of bronzing on top of the foundation and as such, I ended up buying too light a shade. I still wear it when I want to look ~ethereal~ and flawless because the coverage is NO JOKE. It is FULL ON. But you know me, I’m into that!

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Uhhh yes.. Needs bronzer.. like.. a lot of it..

I have this weird thing with expensive foundation where I don’t wear it very often in case I waste it. How stupid is that! It’ll go off before I use it all which is such a shame, and I’m vowing right now to bronze up and use it more often. It’s not really great for every day, but I can mix it with some moisturizer or something probably. I need to use it!

I like to apply this with a damp Real Techniques Complexion Sponge, but if you have a Beauty Blender that’d do a great job too (determined to pick up one of those soon!). I just think that because of the high coverage, a sponge does a great job of making the finish a little more natural, blended and flawless and not cakey. You use these sponges by soaking the sponge through completely then squeezing out as much liquid as possible, then “pressing / dabbing” the foundation on, don’t wipe it around with the sponge. Vintageortacky does a great tutorial about foundation sponges, I recommend checking it out if you’re interested! Once again I do not feel this foundation requires powdering apart from essential areas.

Weirdly this is no longer available in the USA. I think it might have been superseded by the Chanel Perfection Lumiere Velvet which is $47 from Nordstrom and available obviously wherever you can get Chanel makeup. In Australia you can pick up the Mat Lumiere from David Jones for $72 and the Perfection Lumiere Velvet (which I have not tried, but have heard amazing things about) for $77 also from DJs and Myer as well of course, whichever you prefer. I wear shade 20 (clair) in this one.

Another relatively recent (last 6 months) foundation purchase is the DiorSkin Forever Foundation.

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I went to the Dior counter in Brisbane Myer to try the Star foundation but the SA talked me out of it and convinced me to try this one. She was totally right (I still want to try the Star one day!), this is a great foundation for me. This was really my first foray into not just buying the super palest shade imaginable. I thought it was too dark, but when I put it on I really liked that it looked natural and not washed out, even though the coverage was quite good. Again it was a situation where I turned to my pretties on instagram to confirm that I was in fact wearing a shade that suited me for the first time in … ok for the first time ever.

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Me, not being a ghost/zombie

The finish is matte but not dull. It’s a really nice everyday foundation for those of us who like a little bit more coverage. It sits really comfortably on the skin and doesn’t go cakey or settle too much into pores (though for me this is an inevitable result of any makeup application, that’s just the way it is). It’s not as full coverage as the Chanel or the NARS, and it is easier to blend than both. This is a great all-rounder foundation. I apply it with the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush, which is dense enough to give a good amount of coverage whilst being soft enough to blend easily and quickly. I use a little powder to set in the t-zone and any areas I’ve applied concealer.

This one is $77 in Australia at David Jones and $50 at Sephora in the USA, making it the priciest of the bunch but well worth it IMO! I wear shade 20.

Finally, a new one that I recently picked up when I returned two sub-par products to Sephora. It’s the BareMinerals Complexion Perfector gel-cream foundation.

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I was looking for something that would be more of a light-medium coverage as well as something with a bit of hydration, and to be honest I argued with Holly at Sephora in JCP about BareMinerals. It has never been a brand that appealed to me all that much, and I’ve already discussed my “wtf even IS mineral makeup” thing in a previous post. Regardless, she talked me into trying it and wouldn’t you know it? I loved it. It’s the exact amount of coverage I wanted, and it doesn’t leave my skin feeling cakey or dehydrated or overly oily. Good job BareMinerals! I mined insta again for some examples of this one being worn:

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Can we talk about my Simpsons-character hair in pic 2? lmao

I like to apply this one with the best all-rounder daytime makeup brush I have – the Real Techniques buffing brush, but for a bit of extra coverage I like to “pat” it in with the RT sculpting brush which is what I did in the first picture (second picture is with the buffing brush and is a lighter coverage obviously).

This foundation is meant to be good for those of us who struggle with blemishes and other complexion issues. I can’t make any judgment one way or the other with that, I’ve only worn it a handful of times and I’m in a transition phase with skincare so it’s hard for me to tell what’s helping and what isn’t at the moment. Sorry!

This one is the most reasonably priced by far. You can pick it up from Sephora for $29 or Mecca in Australia for $38. Bargain!

I hope this was helpful! I will be posting about concealer tomorrow, do let me know if you have any questions or things you’d like me to specifically address in that post.

Love+++
F&V

Playtime Wednesday: Mineral Makeup, Black Liner, Lipstick and Unboxings..

This is going to be a bit of a mishmash!

A couple of weeks back, one of my lovely friends, Evelyn, who created Mineralis Cosmetics – an indie makeup brand based in the UK, asked if she could send me some of her products. I told her that would be lovely, as long as it was okay with her that I was 100% honest in my blog. Evelyn happily agreed, she has a lot of faith in her products.

With good reason. They arrived this week and I used them the next day for a full day of work. Evelyn sent 2 shades in case I needed to mix them and a translucent powder in a gorgeous little purple drawstring bag. Cutest!

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Mineral makeup has always been a bit of a mystery to me. I don’t get it. It’s just a powder? How does it work? Do you just dust it on? Do you mix it with water (yes, I literally thought this)? Evelyn patiently explained that I should apply it with a flat topped brush, after applying a dusting of the translucent powder in my oilier areas. So that’s what I did. I used no primer, just some moisturizer which I put on half an hour before I applied the makeup. I mixed the two shades together, which gave the perfect shade (well done Evelyn!). I dusted a little translucent powder again over the top. I used no concealer at all. Below is a picture of the freshly applied makeup and the 6pm appearance – no touchups.

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Different light – sorry! I tried!

There’s a totally normal amount of shine on my nose and the makeup has absorbed into my face a little bit but again that’s totally normal – my face likes to eat makeup. Even the absolute best and longest wearing makeup would be failing by that point. My t-zone is oily and makeup is not infallible despite what L’Oreal likes to tell us!

I played again today this time just adding a little bit of under-eye concealer before I put the foundation on. I did a before and after so you can see the amount of coverage with just a single “layer” application. Not bad for ground up rocks, huh?

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Before and after mineral makeup application

I’m going to keep trying this stuff out and seeing how it goes. So far I’m super impressed. These foundations are 6GBP which is drugstore prices for a great quality product. The translucent powder is 6.5GBP and you only need such a little bit, it’s a bargain. I really recommend checking Mineralis out! Link in first paragraph.

I decided after that that I’d play with the Maybelline Kajal black liner. I hardly ever line my entire eyes anymore, so as not to make my eyes look smaller. I then used a pencil brush to smudge everything out. Fun!

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Wow such dark so mystery

Then I dug around in my lipstick collection and re-discovered MAC’s “All Fired Up” retro-matte lipstick. This lipstick is SO MATTE that I sometimes find it hard to wear, which is why it doesn’t get pulled out very often. But the color is great so I put a bunch of balm on, waited a bit then applied the lipstick and it’s wearing really nicely so far.

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I mean look at this color. It’s like a light, pinkyish red. I blurred out the edges with a q-tip, I’ve been into that lately, just to make the edges a little less stark.

I got my BoxyCharm today which was, tbh, kinda disappointing. It’s meant to be a luxury box and maybe it is but the only exciting thing to me is the Oscar Blandi silk serum. I waited all damn month (they billed me on the 1st of June) for this?!

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Ipsy was way better and half the price. But I might just be saying that because the Ipsy bag came with a brow pencil by IT Cosmetics which is a brand I like. It’s a great pencil too! I don’t like the nail polish though. I disagree with the “gel effect” claim, it chipped like less than 24 hours after wearing it.

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Anyway that’s my Wednesday of playing around and trying things out, and revisiting some favorites. I hope yours was nice! Have a great week, readers.

Love+++
F&V

Mini Reviews: New Lip Products at the Drugstore

This week I bought two new lip products at the drugstore with mixed results. The mix is that one of them is amazing and one of them is disappointing.

I’ll get the disappointing one out of the way first. Look, this is partly my fault. I saw something gimmicky and I knew I had to have it. When will I learn? It’s the Maybelline ColorBlur Cream Matte Pencil & Smudger. GASP! I know. I love Maybelline. They’ve never steered me wrong in the past. But this product is just silly – or I don’t get it. It’s hard to tell with me sometimes, I know. Please illuminate me if you think I’m doing it wrong!

Basically it’s a wind-up pencil (which in itself is a stretch, it’s a slim bullet rather than a pencil) with a weird.. eraser.. thing.. on the other end. Observe:

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Ummm.

One end is literally eraser material I’m not joking. So I guess what you’re meant to do is kind of put a bit on the inside areas of your lips then.. blend out with the eraser end? I really didn’t like it. For one thing the formula felt really bad, it immediately dried out my lips and spreading it thinner definitely didn’t help. It was patchy and hard to blend which is weird because isn’t that the point? I don’t get it. It looked weird and bad. See?

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This isn’t my impressed face

I mean, I feel like you could grab any good-formula-having lip product in your collection and blend it out with your finger and you’d get a way better effect. Gimmicky and weird. And it doesn’t last. Lemme tell you one thing Maybelline, if you’re gonna make me use a drying lip product it had best stay put all damn day. This didn’t. I think I reapplied like 5 times at work. Not cool Maybelline – I’m glad I had a lip gloss in my bag that I could put over the top or I would have gone mad. NEXT.

Ahhhh, this is better. Recently L’Oreal released a set of red lipsticks called “Color Riche Collection Exclusive Reds“. There are six in the set, they’re based on what a few celebrities consider their favorite, go-to reds. I picked up “Frieda’s Red”. And ooooh my god Frieda you nailed it. First up the packaging is glorious, it’s quite luxe even though it’s just matte black plastic. The gold accents and solid-click lid really do it for me!

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You may have noticed by now that it’s actually pink. GOOD JOB YOU! It is pink but sometimes people’s favorite reds are actually pinks, who am I to argue I say. I love a good pink lipstick and this one is glorious. It’s SO bright, rich and pigmented. It’s a satin finish (claims to be matte but I don’t agree) which is nice when your lips are a little on the dry side. It goes on beautifully and stays put if you do a couple of coats and blot (just the usual, no special technique required). My friend over at All That Frou Frou did a great review on a couple of the other colors (and this one) – check it out by clicking the link! If you’re not following ATFF already you bloody well should be, I’m telling you, girl is smart, gorgeous and knows her shit.

Anyway, I loved this lipstick so I did some silly poses out of sheer glee and frivolity.

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Needs more lifted eyebrow IMHO

This is an absolute winner for me, super creamy and pigmented but long lasting. I will probably pick up some of the other colors in this range.

These were both around the $9-11 mark at CVS. The L’Oreal product is definitely available in Australia. I’m not totally sure about the Maybelline one but I wouldn’t link you anyway, it’s not a good product IMHO.

Until next time!

Love+++
F&V

Brand Review: Shiro Cosmetics [+ GlamourDollEyes bonus review]

A few weeks ago, I got an extremely exciting package in the mail. My friend Jaime in Australia had told me she was sending me some things to review so I was ALREADY excited when I saw her name on the package, but when I busted it open there it was. The most beautiful sight. Not only a little bag full of lipstick samples but also the special edition Vegemite Cadbury block! Spoiler alert: it’s fantastic. Anyway I know that topic is controversial so let’s move on.

The first thing that I noticed about these lipsticks was that they had AMAZING names, I can’t wait to share them with you guys as we go along. I looked up the website for this brand and went straight to the about section. The more soft and squishy amongst us will be interested to note that this brand is 100% vegan and cruelty free. The products are blended by hand and packaged by two lovely ladies in Portland, Oregon. It really reminds me of Baroque Cosmetics actually (see previous brand review) in that a lot of the products are a bit on the nerdy side which is RIGHT up my alley.

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Important notes x 3: Jaime sent these to me because she likes my reviews (so flattering!) and wanted to see what I thought of these products. I have no affiliation whatsoever with the brand (nor does Jaime) and have not contacted them in regards to this post. Also, all product packaging pictures (apart from the sample pots obviously) are from the Shiro website and all photo credit goes to them (click on the photos to go to the product page!). The packaging is too awesome not to show off! Finally, I should disclose that I’m not much of a lip gloss wearer. You know me, I like my matte lipsticks. I find glosses a bit annoying and sticky. So keep that in mind as you read this review (at the time of typing this sentence, I have not tried them on).

So, let’s get on with it. Jaime sent me SEVEN lip glosses. I would like to apologize to my lips in advance for what I’m about to subject them to. At least it’s glosses and not lipsticks which can be very hard to remove!

The Thrill of the Chasez

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This is a mid-toned pink, it’s quite nice actually. It’s not too bubblegum-y, which is surprising because it smells SO STRONGLY of bubblegum. Kind of a turnoff for me. It’s a reallllly sweet scent, not sure how I feel about it. Actually I am sure: I don’t like it. But I’m not known for liking sweet scents, to be fair! The color is nice, it’s not super bright and it isn’t overly sticky – more slippery than anything. It doesn’t feel like a very thick, shiny gloss which is nice because I find those a bit … gluggy.

Nic Cage Posing for a Calendar with Shiny Bright Red Cars

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I LOVE the name of this one! Can’t go wrong with Nic Cage jokes IMO. I really like this color! I feel like it’s a bright enough red to do it for me, and also has an extremely subtle pearl to it which means that it makes my lips look quite full, and blurs out the creases in my lips a little bit. It is NOT glittery which is good, nothing I dislike more than glittery lip gloss. The flavor/scent of this one isn’t nearly as strong and is kind of a cherryish flavor – the website says cherry pie and I suppose that’s close enough! Yep, this one’s a winner and will be going into rotation. I feel like this could be lovely over the top of a bright red matte lipstick to give a bit of shine and moisture.

Justin Time

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Eeeeeee you guys know how I feel about Justin Timberlake. Ok you probably don’t: I love him. That’s how I feel. Ever since the days of Justified and even at some points in the reign of NSYNC although I was always more of a Backstreet Boys girl at heart. Anyway, this color is exciting already :3 I really like this one! It’s a little warmer than the reds that I’m normally attracted to, almost a warm-rich-red-pink*, but I like it and it’s extremely opaque for a lip gloss. It’s almost more of a gloss-finish lipstick. I’d be interested to see how the longevity of this goes, I may try that out later. It is scented like vanilla which is pleasant and not overpowering at all. Another winner.

*EDIT: I know it seems like a cool red here, but when I look in the mirror I swear it’s warm! D:

Nic Cage Nibbling Petit Fours in a Posh Victorian Tearoom

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Love it! I feel like this is a weird Nic-Cage-As-Pinup-Model fetish but I’m into it. I can get the heck behind that. The color is kind of a dusty, neutral, rosey color (the website agrees). It’s got enough brown in it to not be a Pink Gloss but isn’t too brown. It’s actually not a bad “MLBB” color for me. It’s not very opaque which is fine, I feel once again that this could be a lovely gloss atop something like Anita by NARS in the Audacious lipsticks range, to give some gloss and moisture.

Red Wedding

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As a huge Game of Thrones fan (I have some … complex feelings about the last season) I had a big grin when I saw the name of this one. Let’s hope I have better luck with this color than Robb Stark did at the aforementioned nuptial celebration (as you may be able to tell, I’m writing this as I try each one). Ok so this is an interesting color. When I first put it on, I was a bit disappointed because it looked really brown. But as I kept going and built the color up a little bit, I got more into it. It’s a deep burgundy. One thing about those kinds of colors is that my husband LOVES them on me, much more than I love them on myself. I trundled off to the kitchen to show him and, as expected, he basically jumped me (these are not transfer-proof, FYI 😉 ). So I started off kinda eh about this but turns out it’s a winner. The scent is a kind of sherbet sharp cranberry. One thing about it is that it’s kinda patchy, it takes careful application, though that may be different if you have the actual doe-foot applicator to use – I’m applying all these with a Mecca Cosmetica lip brush. This one is a keeper and I’m glad I have a larger sample size of it!

Seven Minutes in Kevin

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Speaking of Backstreet Boys! Lol. I love it. This is another quite dark, vampy red/burgundy color but it’s not as dark as Red Wedding. My husband called this one “a nice compromise” and I agree. It’s not as intense or opaque as RW. It smells like Christmas – it’s kinda cinnamon-spicey, the most appealing scent so far for me!

Nic Cage Doing the Charleston in a Bustling Speakeasy

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Another quite vampy lipstick (with a fabulous name) though this lends itself more to a berry-type shade base rather than a burgundy. Once again it’s quite opaque for a lip gloss, I like it. These last three-four shades will be fabulous in the winter, I feel! Particularly now that I live somewhere with actual seasons, and I’m sure my lips will be in absolutely terrible condition! I don’t know how to explain the scent of this one. The site says “bubbly champagne” but I disagree, it’s way too sweet for that. It’s probably my second-least-favorite of the scents so far, I don’t like it. But it’s also not very strong unlike the first scent which was horrid AND strong (in my opinion). The color is worth it though!

Afterthought on this one: it leaves a BEAUTIFUL stain on the lips when you wipe it off. Something to keep in mind, may be a plus or a minus for you, I like it though! See below:
IMG_7855All of these are $8 which is a bargain IMO, they also have a sample option for $2 which is great. I think I’ll actually buy a couple of these, now to decide which ones. I do love a proper applicator though I feel today that I got a good lesson in applying with a brush which I normally don’t do.

So that’s the Shiro products, there were two other products in the bag that I thought I’d review at the same time, however, after I posted this blog a friend informed me of a recent issue with one of the brands (Fierce Magenta) in which they ignored and dismissed a customer’s valid and serious issues with mold and other quality issues in their products. As such they will not be featured on this blog. You can read more about this issue here. Just like I’ll never review, buy or wear Gerard Cosmetics or Lime Crime due to past unpleasantnesses, I don’t want to feature this brand. [this section has been edited]

GlamourDollEyes HydraGlaze lip gloss in “Homicide”

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It’s kinda nice I guess, nothing special, it’s a nice classic-red lip gloss. The packaging description (of the actual product, I just have a sample) is confusing. It’s a “squeeze tube with doe foot applicator”? I don’t get it. The other thing that annoys me about the description is that it’s called a “matte, true red gloss” which is just garbage IMO you can’t be a matte gloss. And this is definitely not a matte anything! Anyway it’s fine, I wouldn’t buy it because it’s nothing amazing, the smell is sweet (apparently it’s buttercream) but nothing obtrusive. It’s $9.

A massive thanks to beautiful Jaime for sending me these products to try out! I had a really fun time, and I think I may be converted to lip gloss actually… these are great and really fun, and comfortable. I’m going to post this now and apply the “Justin Time” one to see what the lasting power is like. Oh and in case you’re interested in the aftermath of this little experiment… Later addition: I feel that it really lasted a goodly time! It didn’t get cakey or chunky and it only faded down to a less glossy, even stain. Will purchase! [section edited]

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Heh.

Thanks for reading!

Love+++
F&V

Makeup Startup: Face Base-ics [Volume 1: Drugstore / Pharmacy brands]

Hey guys hey! Have you seen my new social media icons over on the sidebar? So shiny and new! Click on them to follow me on those platforms if you would like! Wiew!

Anyway, onto the good stuff. I thought I’d go a bit more in-depth with a few things I only touched on in the first post. First up, let’s have a talk about face basics – primer and foundation.

First of all, do you really need primer? The short answer is no. You don’t need it, and a lot of pro makeup artists don’t believe in it. However, I think that’s because they are wizards and sorcerers who have sold their souls for flawless base application every single damn time, UGH! Ok not really but they have had a lot of training and/or practice to make their bases look flawless. I haven’t, and maybe you haven’t, so I like to use a primer. This is also because my pores can be seen from Saturn’s rings. And not just the outer rings or anything – the inner ones. Realtalk. And you know what? That’s fine. That’s how my face is. It’s no big deal. But it sure makes my makeup look a bit funky if I don’t put some heavy duty spakfilla on first.

The other thing about primer is that if you are someone who has oily skin, like me, primer is another layer between your skin and your foundation. Like you know how people are talking about getting that “summer glow” at the moment? My entire life is that, and it’s called being a sweaty oily mess. Anyway, primer to me is another layer that the oils in your skin have to fight through before they start messing with your foundation. Some would say that adding layer upon layer to your skin isn’t the best idea anyone’s ever had but for me, it works. For you, it might not work. If you aren’t going to use a primer that’s fine, but I would still really recommend using a moisturizer all the time – makeup or not. Foundation really shouldn’t go straight onto bare skin.

Anyway, as for WHICH primer to use, well, it depends on your needs. And I actually only have one drugstore primer. There’s no really good reason for this: I’ve had a few travel size higher end ones that have taken me a long time to get through and that means I haven’t had a lot of reasons to try drugstore ones. But the one that I have used, I freakin’ LOVE. It’s the NYX Pore Filler primer. Let’s talk about it.

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NYX Pore Filler primer

I love this stuff! If you’ve used the Benefit POREfessional, this is a fantastic dupe. In fact, IMO this one is actually better. It’s a little bit lighter, and a little bit less “gummy” and sticky, so I think it meshes a bit better than the POREfessional. It’s still quite thick though. Observe.

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You want to apply this with your fingertips, smoothing it across your skin. You don’t want to dab it onto your skin. If you think about how pores are shaped, you want to fill them in with this so you want to slide the product over them to create a flat surface. I hope that makes sense!

That’s the only drugstore primer I have, so let’s move on to foundations.

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My drugstore foundation collectionwhat?

So can we just talk about the BEAUTIFUL peonies my parents-in-law have growing in their front garden? The bush itself is covered in these huge, lush blooms and it’s just the best, they kindly let me take some last night after dinner. Love! Anyway.

I’m not going to talk about these in any particular order. The first one is the Bourjois 123Perfect CC cream that I mentioned in my last post.

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Bourjois 123Perfect CC Cream

It’s a great option if you want something that’s very easy to use but still has decent coverage. CC stands for color correcting, so it’s also great for people who have pigmentation or redness. It’s not too much, but not “just” a tinted moisturizer style coverage either. It’s a great option for everyday wear, particularly for beginners. The finish is matte-natural, but it’s not cakey. The tube labels it as luminous but it’s not really, you could make it luminous but in its original state it is more towards matte and can be made further matte with some setting powder. The tube is good too, it’s just a screw top tube with a pointed nozzle. This is about $25 from Priceline in Australia, or $20 from Amazon in the USA. I wear shade 32 (beige clair).

Next up is also from Bourjois, it’s the Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation.

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Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation

This was the first drugstore foundation I ever bought, and it was on the recommendation of Lisa Eldridge who is one of my favorite professional makeup artists. She has an amazing YouTube channel where she posts tutorials. Check it out here. Healthy Mix is fabulous because it has pretty darn good coverage but still manages to feel quite seamless on the skin. I consider it to be a matte finish, well, matte-ish, it’s not as matte as some but I would not call it particularly glowy though the description on the bottle is “healthy glow & flawless complexion, hydrated & luminous skin”. It’s another good everyday foundation if you want a bit more coverage but still a relatively natural finish. It for sure has more coverage and a less natural finish than the CC cream, but that is self explanatory – it’s a foundation after all. It has nice solid glass packaging with a pump and a sturdy lid. Not great for travel because it’s so heavy but the packaging is really nice for a drugstore foundation. It’s $20 from Amazon in the USA and $32 in Australia from Priceline. I wear shade 52 (vanille).

Next is the L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte foundation. I am actually not sure if this is available yet in Australia so that’s something to keep in mind. It is relatively new here. The name intrigued and attracted me, you know me, I love my matte finish foundations because my t-zone can get so oily, and because matte finish usually means lots of coverage and that is also my jam.

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L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte foundation

I love the light, flat packaging, can we just talk about how great it is? No messy pump that can get clogged (I like pumps and all but doesn’t that piss you off? When the foundation dries and clumps in the nozzle?), no dipping your finger or a q-tip in the jar, no tipping out the foundation just a handy tube that is flat so it travels super well. Bravo, L’Oreal! Anyway, they are NOT kidding, this foundation is matte as HECK. I love it obviously. The coverage is medium-full. One thing I will say about this is that it sets fairly quickly so it pays to apply this in sections before it dries rather than dotting it on your face if that’s something you normally do. I sometimes powder just a tiny bit on my oily parts and might need to do this as the day goes on but if I can’t be bothered then I don’t. I apply all my foundations with a brush, this one I think really does well being applied with the Real Techniques sculpting brush. Don’t ask me why! It just does. This foundation is getting a lot of good reviews from beauty bloggers and youtubers and I totally get why. It’s super matte but manages not to be thick and cakey, which is remarkable especially for a drugstore foundation. In the USA you can get this one for around $11-15 from CVS, Walgreens, KMart or anywhere that sells L’Oreal. Hopefully it’ll turn up in Australia soon! In the meantime I believe you can pick it up on eBay or on Amazon. I wear shade 102 (shell beige).

[It’s worth noting that the matching powder foundation (which I use to set this foundation and others) is available in Australia, but not the liquid. Weird. There is the 24 Hour Infallible Stay Fresh foundation as well but I cannot confirm if these are the same or even similar foundations – would love to know though! At the moment L’Oreal (and Real Techniques!) are 3 for 2 at Priceline so you could pick up some other great things like the L’Oreal Infallible eyeshadows which are wonderful.]

Another great L’Oreal foundation though further to the other end of the scale in terms of finish, is the L’Oreal True Match foundation.

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L’Oreal True Match foundation

This one is a very cool foundation for someone with normal skin who is a little bit scared of foundation matching. It is hard, right?! Well you get quite a lot of wiggle room with this one. With a lot of foundations, particularly drugstore ones where the shade range might not be so great, you really have to get it as spot on as possible. Not with this lil baby, it has color blending technology that means that even if you don’t get it exactly right, it will match your skin fairly well. Not to say that this means you should just do whatever and pick up whichever shade you want – just that it won’t be a huge disaster if you don’t get the exact right shade or even if you don’t think they have a shade that suits you.

This one is definitely more of a natural-satin finish rather than a matte finish, so like I said I think it’d be perfect for normal / combo skin or even dry skin. For oily skin I think this needs quite a bit of powdering which isn’t always the best look, so perhaps skip this one if you are quite oily. The packaging is glass with a pump, so a little bit heavy and not ideal for travel. The coverage is medium. You can grab it in Australia for $30 at Priceline or in the USA at any drugstore that sells L’Oreal for about $10. Bargain! I wear shade N2 (vanille), but could probably go a shade darker.

I’ve saved my latest love for last. It’s so weird. I never buy or even look at CoverGirl. I think it seems cheap and boring. But a few bloggers that I love and follow religiously did reviews of the CoverGirl Outlast Stay Luminous foundation and they were, for lack of a better word, glowing. So I was like, screw it, it’s cheap, why not. EVEN THOUGH it’s a luminous finish and a medium (at best) coverage. I know. I’m a rebel and a risk-taker. And you know what? It frickin’ owns.

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CoverGirl Outlast Stay Luminous foundation

I love it! It’s really, really comfortable. That’s the best way I can think to describe it. It is definitely less coverage than what I’m used to, and also much less matte and more luminous. But for summer I think it’ll be really lovely and fresh without being sweaty. I heard that applying this with a patting motion with the RT sculpting brush was a good technique and I do agree, it seems to work well for this foundation. I usually give it a bit of a buff in at the end anyway, just to make sure everything is blended nicely.

I actually took some pictures of this one. For accuracy and honesty, I used the “bad side” of my face (lol), for some reason the left side of my face is more heavily scarred and has worse acne marks than the right side. It might be something to do with sleeping on the left side? I don’t always sleep on that side but majority I probably do. I don’t know! Anyway here is the before and after:

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Before & after application of CG Stay Luminous foundation

So you can see it’s not a heap of coverage, it’s not cakey and thick and it doesn’t completely mask the skin – your natural skin still comes through. It just hides the worst of the red acne marks (why do those stick around so long?!) and I’m into that! I don’t have anything else on but this. No powder or concealer, just the foundation.

Interestingly, in the USA MaxFactor and CoverGirl are basically the same thing. MaxFactor isn’t sold in the USA anymore, instead their products were merged into CoverGirl. Anyway, that’s just a weird tidbit. I can’t see that this CG foundation is available in Australia yet, but you can get it here in the USA for around $11 anywhere that sells CoverGirl. I wear shade 825 (buff beige).

I hope that helps! I am going to do a higher-end foundation post a bit later, I’m testing out some at the moment so I just want to make sure I give those a good go before I post that roundup.

Don’t forget to “Like” F&V on Facebook and follow on instagram if you haven’t already!

Love+++
F&V

Makeup Startup: An Overview of What You Need and How to Use It

A lovely friend of mine, Zoe, asked me to help her up her makeup game before she starts looking for new jobs to boost her confidence and ensure she was looking professional for interviews. We can be as feminist as we like but the little bit of extra effort can go a long way to first impressions in interviews, IMO.

But good lord, it’s overwhelming isn’t it? If you’re not much of a makeup wearer and you head into Priceline / CVS or Mecca / Sephora or the makeup / fragrance area of a department store it can be terrifying and off-putting. Everyone wants to sell you something. It’s hard to know what you “need” and what is just adding to someone’s sales statistics without really helping you.

Well I am here for you my friends! A few disclaimers before I start. I’m not an expert. I’m just a woman who’s into makeup. I’ve never worked for a company that makes or sells makeup. I make mistakes and I try to learn lessons. I’ll definitely try to use those lessons to make this post as helpful as possible! Also, I’m going to try to make this Australia friendly and drugstore friendly (because who wants to spend a billion dollars when they’re just starting out?). When I posted on Facebook a lot of the responses were from my friends back home. Apart from Bourjois (appears to be available at Walgreens online and Sears though?), all the products mentioned are also available easily in the USA at any drugstore or K-Mart etc and prices adjust down accordingly. Finally, all of this is just my opinion. Some of this stuff may not apply to you, and that’s fine! Feel free to take bits and pieces from this or just tell me to get in the bin entirely, it’s fine!

Ok, let’s get started. Here’s what I think a basic makeup collection needs:

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  • Foundation, CC cream, BB cream or tinted moisturizer
  • Concealer
  • Setting powder
  • Blush
  • Eyeshadow
  • Eyeliner
  • Mascara
  • Brow powder, crayon etc
  • Lipstick, balm or gloss

Let’s talk about these things a little bit. I will probably go further in depth in future posts, I don’t want to make this one too long.

Foundation

Bases are so personal. Maybe you already have one that you like, maybe you don’t know which one is best for you. So take all this advice, as usual, with a grain of salt.

BB cream is a general term for a souped-up tinted moisturizer. They were formulated in the beginning in Korea for women who had just had laser resurfacing, to help their skin to heal whilst also providing some coverage for the damage and redness. It then leaked into the Western world as a “better” tinted moisturizer. They usually have more coverage. BB stands for “Blemish Balm” but for copyright reasons, most are just called BB or other weird names like “beblesh balms” etc. CC creams are very similar except they are also “color correcting”, so if you have a lot of redness or pigmentation these could work really well for you. Foundations sit on top of the skin (for the most part) rather than sinking into the skin like BB / CC creams or tinted moisturizers. They will usually have more coverage.

If you’re the kind of person who hasn’t really ever worn makeup and you’re a bit scared that you’ll end up looking like you’re wearing a mask, then something like a BB or CC cream could be just what you’re looking for to add a little bit of coverage and polish to your skin. I have a BB cream from Skin79 (one of the original Korean brands) that I love, but it’s a little bit light on my skin so I have to mix it with something a little darker. I have a CC cream that I absolutely love and wear all the time, and recommend to a lot of people. I also have some foundations… several… okay so I have a problem. But we know this!

So what do I recommend for a beginner? Something like the Bourjois 123Perfect CC cream is a fabulous start. It’s light, it’s easy to apply and to blend (more on that later) and it has a matte finish without looking cakey. It’s pretty bloody wonderful actually, and you can pick it up for about AU$25. Check out the comparison pics below:

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Before & after CC cream application

So as you can see, it’s nothing crazy. It’s not a thick layer, it’s not super unnatural, it just evens things out a little bit. This is without powder or concealer or primer – just moisturizer and the CC cream. I do recommend setting this with a little bit of powder. It’s nice stuff. I apply this with the Expert Face Brush from Real Techniques, which is a really reasonably priced brush line you can get at Priceline. I really recommend picking this up, and I will talk about other brushes I like as we go along.

Concealer

Some might not think this is a necessity. And that’s totally fine of course, but for me it is essential to cover up those little leftover bits of redness and discoloration, and for under my eyes. Not only for the dark circles that almost all of us are subject to, especially as we age, but for the little bit of melasma I have (hyperpigmentation, it’s hormonal) in the under-eye area. There are a couple of great ones you can get at drugstore prices, and they are both Maybelline. One is the Fit Me concealer, which reminds me a lot of the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer (a much pricier product) and the other is the Age Rewind concealer. These both have applicators, I discussed the AR one in my packaging post and the FM one has a doe-foot applicator. I apply straight from the applicator to my face (with the exception of the AR, the sponge applicator can be a lil germy) then blend with clean fingers if I’m in a rush or a small brush like the Real Techniques contour brush (NOT the sculpting brush!). Both these concealers are around the $15-18 mark.

Powder

If you are like me and you are oily or combination, your t-zone probably lets you down as the day wears on. An important thing to remember is that absolutely no makeup will last all day. It’s not possible, particularly if you’re oily/combo. If you want your makeup to look perfect all day you’ll have to touch it up. Period. But using a setting powder particularly in the oily sectors will really help, and I always do this. My go-to powder brush is the original Blush Brush from Real Techniques because it’s big and fluffy and soft. You want something for powder that is not going to move around all your hard work with concealing and foundation placement. I find that “pressing / patting” the powder on to be the best way to ensure this doesn’t happen, rather than sweeping or swirling the powder on. I hope that makes sense! My ultimate drugstore favorite is the Bourjois Healthy Balance powder. It smells divine and is super finely milled and the packaging is tiny so it’s easy to carry with you. It’s about $20 from Priceline.

Now that I’ve concealed and powdered, time for another comparison. Today I used the Age Rewind concealer and the Healthy Balance powder.

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Before and after concealing & powder

So you can see that my under-eye area is looking a little smoother and my skin looks a lil brighter in general. Going okay! This is about 2 minutes work so far, not including ~*selfie time*~ of course. I’m trying to keep the light and poses as similar as possible and that’s actually kinda hard! Moving on.

Blush

Now that we’ve evened out the color of the skin we need to add a little bit back in, exactly where we want it. This was probably the trickiest part for me because I don’t own a lot of drugstore blushes. Mainly because I wore the same two blushes for like 2 years. MAC Style and NARS Deep Throat. So the two drugstore (Australian anyway, I have four Milani blushes which is a super cheap brand in the USA) blushes I have aren’t great examples for this post, one is a taupe cool-contour color and the other is a cream blush. Cream might be a little bit advanced (unless you have dry skin in which case it’s a great option – hit me up for more info). So I’m going to use MAC Style today which is a really nice peachy/rosy color that doesn’t look too unnatural.

Everyone has a different way they apply blush. For me, the apples of my cheeks are actually quite close to my nose so I find if I place it there, it makes me look ruddy rather than naturally flushed. So I actually just suck my cheeks in a tiny little bit to define the shape of my face, and then blend the blush diagonally backwards on the part of my cheek that starts about in line with my pupil – does that make sense? I hope so! Silly face diagram for demonstration purposes:

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Blue… Steel? D:

I want to interject here to talk a little about bronzer. I am a bronzer noob, a literal bronzer babby. So I’m going to skip it today. I know there are some that swear by it. I’m learning to apply it at the moment, and I find that the “C” shape application (edges of forehead, down the temples, under/on the cheekbone) to work best. I know some people have much more advanced techniques and if you are one of them then please continue with what you’re doing. In a little while when I’ve experimented more I’ll do a post but bronzer isn’t something that I feel is an essential component of makeup so, moving on. Here’s another comparison.

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Before and after blush application

No clownish granny circles to be seen here, just a bit of color back into the cheeks. Sorted? I think so. Moving on to the eyes.

Eyeshadow

Personally, I like cream eyeshadows. Maybe not all the time, but pretty often. If you have extremely oily eyelids then maybe stick to powder shadows (and make sure you use a primer, though I’m not familiar with drugstore ones). But creams work for me and I’m a little oily so I recommend giving them a go. I really like, like, REALLY like, the Maybelline Color Tattoo 24 Hour Eyeshadows. I think they are pretty magical and I have them in quite a lot of colors. The one I think is the most wearable without being super boring is called “Bad to the Bronze”. These are about AU$12-13. Other great colors for those just starting out are “Creamy Beige” (in the limited edition Leather range), “Barely Branded” and “Tough as Taupe”. I apply these to the mobile lid with my finger because I think this is the best way to get enough product on the lid, then I blend out the edges with a fluffy brush like the Real Techniques Base Shadow Brush (I swear I’m not sponsored by RT! I just really like them!). So let’s have a look at the difference between just placing with a finger and then blending it out. You can also blend with your finger but I think a brush is quicker and makes for a more smooth blend.

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Before & after blending a cream eyeshadow

In this case I’ve used “Bad to the Bronze”. I just love it so much. I just blended the edges out so it’s not so harsh – you can see what I mean above. Let’s move on.

Eyeliner

Most people’s go-to eyeliner is black, and if that’s what you like best then that’s fine but in the last year I’ve really been converted to brown eyeliner. It’s dark enough to still have definition, but a little bit less harsh and stark than black. It’s perfect for daytime and work, IMO. Eyeliner is another thing that’s quite personal. Some people only like it on their waterline, some like to place it on the outside of the lashline. For work/daytime, I think it’s best to just add a little bit on the inside of the lashline and then use a q-tip or something (a small brush perhaps) to blend it out. You don’t have to blend it but if you apply it then think “AHHHH it’s so darkkkk” you can soften it up this way. I would also recommend only doing this for the outer 1/3 or outer 2/3 of the lashline, unless you have wider-set eyes and want to give the illusion of bringing them a little closer. I have the total opposite problem, so I find that when I put eyeliner right in the inner corner it’s too dark and makes me look squinty. I actually don’t have any drugstore eyeliners, I have discovered! I have heard great things about the Rimmel Exaggerate waterproof liner in Rich Brown and I think that’d be a good one to grab, it’s about $12. I used the TooFaced PerfectEyes liner in Espresso today.

Mascara

Yet another very personal choice here! Some people like lengthening mascaras, some like volumising ones. Some people like some clumpiness, others like a straight comb-through. Some people like small brushes some people like big.. you get the picture – feel free to experiment, because HOORAY drugstore mascaras aren’t very expensive and they don’t last very long. There are a few different application techniques. Some people use the “place wand at base of lash, wiggle side to side while running up the lashes” technique and it’s a good one. Some use the “place wand, then blink without moving the wand itself” technique, I find this one to be kinda risky. I would say a good thing to do is to wipe a lot of the product off if you feel that your mascara wand is loaded with too much product. I would say lower lash mascara application is also totally a personal choice and although I have applied a little bit today, I don’t always especially for daytime looks. I have used the L’Oreal Voluminous Miss Manga mascara in Black Noir today, but I recommend figuring out for yourself which mascara you like best. Remember to switch them out at LEAST every 6 months, (preferably 3), they get unsanitary pretty fast. NEXT!

Brows

When I first started filling in my brows, I was so startled every single time I looked in the mirror. They seemed so dark and just too much. But trust me, you need to do this. It really frames your face and finishes off your look! Today I have used the Australis Oh Hai Brow kit with the Anastasia Beverly Hills brow brush. I love this brush because it has a spoolie on one end and an angled eyebrow brush on the other end:

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Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Brush

You want to use the spoolie to give your brows a brush through to make all the hairs go in the same direction then lightly touch the other end of the brush to the powder (whichever one suits your brow shade) and then just start slowly adding color to the brows. I could go really indepth here about where to add color, how to fill in gaps etc but it’s so complex and really it’s just something that you figure out as you go along. Don’t worry if you can’t get both brows to look the same. Speaking of which, I took the below picture to show the difference between a done brow and one that’s left undone.

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Teehee!

Pretty big difference huh? And hey, maybe you prefer the undone brow. That’s okay. There aren’t any rules here. I just know that since I started doing my brows, not only have I been getting more compliments but most importantly *I* have been happier altogether with my makeup. Other ways you can do your brows include with a crayon, a tiny tip is best like the Anastasia Beverly Hill Brow Wiz, or its cheap alternative the NYX micro-brow crayon (not totally sure if this is available in Australia yet). I find this to be an equally easy way to fill in brows but it’s totally up to you. The brow kit from Australis is a great place to start and it’s $17 or so for 3 powders, a wax and a little teeny brush and tweezers.

Ok, enough talk, let’s see where we’re at so far with shadow, liner, mascara and brows:

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Before and after eyeshadow, liner and mascara application

Coming together now huh? Ok so, lips.

Lipstick

There’s a concept in lipstick that is like the holy grail for individuals and it’s called the “MLBB” colour. This means “my lips but better” and means a natural but polished look to the lips. It means what it says basically. This might take some trial and error. You can “try” lipsticks on if they have a tester by winding the bullet all the way out and holding it up to your lips then looking in the mirror. It might be a liquid lipstick in a tube, in which case you can just hold up the tube. If you are like me and your lips are quite pigmented, your MLBB shade might be more pink than you would expect. For me, the ColourPop Lippie Stix in “Lumiere” is a good example of a slightly bolder “MLBB” shade and costs US$5 (shipping worldwide is available). I have a NARS shade that is perfect too but it’s MUCH more expensive. If you don’t want to use lipstick, stick with a balm stain (Revlon make lovely ones!) or even just a balm. I’m not a gloss girl, I find them sticky and … wet. I just don’t like it, but if you do then you probably already have a favourite! So let’s take a look at just balm, then with a good MLBB shade for me, the NYX matte lip cream in “Stockholm” which is easily available in Australia for about $10, as well as the ColourPop shade mentioned above which is a bit bolder.

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Balm only, NYX “Stockholm”, ColourPop “Lumiere”

I’m going to post another more indepth look at lipsticks and different ways to wear them. But for now, let’s look at an overview of a before we started vs. now.

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Before and after makeup application

Now, you might prefer the before. That’s totally fine of course. It’s no problem. I don’t mind being makeup-free. But the after turned out pretty nice too IMO. This is a pretty basic work / daytime look for me (I left Lumiere on for this look). You can also see that the light has changed since I started typing this post, it’s getting later in the afternoon now and I’ve photographed as I’ve gone along.

I usually finish off with a setting spray if I know I’m going to be wearing it all day. Some people don’t like these and feel that they’re full of bad stuff and maybe they are, but I think they’re pretty great and I always notice when I haven’t worn it. I’m not sure about drugstore equivalents in Australia, I know the L’Oreal Infallible range has one but when I left Australia it was not yet available. If it is, pick some up, it’s meant to be fabulous!

So that’s it for now. More detailed posts about some individual components to come, if you guys think that would help.

I’m sorry this post turned out so long! Let me know what you think. What was helpful, what wasn’t, what would have been if I’d only thought to include it.

Love+++
F&V

Beauty Packaging: The Likes, the Loves, the Hates, the “Why-Does-It-Matter?”s

I started out planning this post with just a couple of ideas in mind and a couple of products that really stuck out to me as good or bad examples of packaging. Then, as I went through my collection for further inspiration, this happened:

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D:

Oops. Oh well, I’ll try to keep this short!

I got some great advice, inspiration and thoughts from my friends before I started writing this post. A lot of people had great points and things I hadn’t considered in regards to packaging so I’m going to include those things in here too.

Of course, the one thing we all want from our product packaging most of all is that it protects its contents. No one wants to spend heaps of money on something and then have it get broken or fall out or get damaged in other ways. But there are other considerations, too. For example, someone on my Facebook brought up environmental friendliness as an important point and that’s so true. She nominated a favorite product of hers, the Wonderbar (NZ$25 / US$17~ plus shipping) from NZ company Sorbet as a good example and from what I have read, I agree. What a great idea. The packaging of this solid conditioner bar (great for a leg shaving cream as well, I’m told, so multifunctional too!) is not only minimal it literally dissolves in water. How fantastic! I can’t wait to try this product myself, which I will do at some point. This packaging reminds me of the Lush solid products, which are just paper wrapped. Lush generally is one of the best ranges for environmentally friendly packaging so it’s great to see companies that are going one step further.

Moving on to the products. These aren’t in any particular order.

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Kat Von D’s “Shade & Light” contouring palette

This is a great palette, I like it a lot. I’m still learning how to use it but I’m having fun with it. I love Kat Von D products, I really do, as a tattooed person I love the tattoo script and dark, gothic aesthetic. Fun fact: Kat Von D designs all the packaging for her products and draws all the diagrams and tutorial images that come with some of her more complex products (like this one and the Shade & Light Eye palette).

Pros: not a tonne of excess packaging, doesn’t fingerprint easily, great mirror, attractive design, magnetic closure to keep it closed, feels sturdy.
Cons: could be sturdier (it’s a sort of coated cardboard material), magnet isn’t super strong so there’s no satisfying “snap” closure, a little heavy so might not be travel-friendly.

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Hourglass “Ambient Lighting Powder” palette

I have a mixed relationship with these powders themselves, sometimes I think rather than making me look infused with light and glow, they make me look a bit oily. But that might be how I’m using them or where I’m placing them. But anyway, the packaging is lovely like all the Hourglass products.

Pros: very light packaging that still feels sturdy so it’s great for travel, has a press-button closure so it stays closed, minimalist branding, the not-black color means fingerprints don’t show up all that much.
Cons: useless mirror, this is a personal thing but I prefer my products to be more squared off instead of rounded, it makes them easier to store. That’s pretty much it, it’s great packaging!

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Too Faced “Sweetheart” bronzer

I wanted this when it first came out but I was still scared of bronzer so I didn’t buy it. Then it was half-off when I was at Ulta once so I grabbed it because how could I not? Anyway, I love this cute packaging. I got the shade “Carrie & Big” which is a lighter bronzer with a more coral blush.

Pros: cute as heck, shiny when clean, good mirror, light – for a short trip you could take this and you’d have bronzer and blush in one.
Cons: not particularly sturdy, the closure relies just on a light magnet, the roundness / non-squareness thing again, shows fingerprints.

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Stila “Eyes are the Window” palette

I already raved about this in my favorites so I won’t go on too much but I love this palette!

Pros: GORGEOUS and shiny, very sturdy and feels like good quality, amazing mirror.
Cons: fairly heavy, shows up grime and fingerprints very easily, also this has not happened to me but some have had the individual shadows fall out of the palette.

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NARS “Audacious” lipstick

I love these lipsticks and now I have five of them. That’s a problem because each side of the gorgeous matte-black lipstick casing has a letter on it (N A R S) and now I have N A R S N.. you know what this means.. just kidding. Sorta. The best thing about this packaging is the amazing magnetic “click” closure. It’s so cool. You put the lipstick lid back on and as it gets closer to being closed the magnet engages and snaps on. It’s great and the packaging is magnetic on the outside too so they sit together tightly if you have them in the right order etc. Anyway..

Pros: cool magnetic closure, matte-black colour, fun and gimmicky design which is my jam.
Cons: shows up fingerprints, is quite large for lipstick packaging, doesn’t fit in a small purse pocket easily.

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NARS blush

I love NARS blushes. I really do. They’re so pigmented and lovely but not TOO pigmented where the blending work is difficult. The names are a little sketchy (this one is called Deep Throat) but whatever we’re all adults here.

Pros: super slim, good sturdy press closure, cool matte black packaging color.
Cons: shows up fingerprints, can’t see blush through the packaging so you have to pick up and turn over each one to make sure you have the right color blush.

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Maybelline “Instant Age Rewind” under-eye concealer

This packaging I don’t love. I do like the product a lot, the coverage is great and it’s really blendable so it’s a great choice for me. But there are hygiene issues here. The applicator is a sponge and you turn the top to click up more product into the sponge, then you apply it straight onto your face. I don’t like this. So I usually squidge some out onto my hand if I’m going to be applying it to my problem areas in case there’s broken skin that I don’t want to get germs into.

Pros: Slimline, sturdy, glass packaging, it’s easy to see how much you have left.
Cons: Not very hygienic, sponge means there’s some wastage.

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ColourPop Cosmetics Products – lippie stix and eyeshadows

This particular brand is what I was waiting for to do this post. Most things they sell are around $5 which is so cool! But every time I had seen them used I just thought how cheap and tacky the packaging looked. And for $5, I guess that’s kind of what you get, huh? But when the stuff arrived I was actually pretty impressed. Yes it’s plain, and white, and boring but it doesn’t FEEL cheap or fragile and it looks much nicer in real life than it does in YouTubes etc.

Pros: minimalist (therefore cheap), feels sturdy, lids screw / snap on very securely.
Cons: let’s be honest, it doesn’t look that nice and the eyeshadow containers are kind of unnecessarily big and bulky I think.

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Besame “Vanilla Brightening Powder”

The packaging of this is super cute as you can see. The powder is nice too, finely milled and brightening as described. It comes with a little puff that sits in another “layer” of plastic (shown above) so it doesn’t sit in the powder all the time. Clever!

Pros: Cute and attractive packaging, lid screws on securely, puff has its own little container section.
Cons: The sifter holes are WAY TOO FRICKIN’ SMALL and it drives me crazy, I have to tap a lot of times to get enough out to do anything and that’s annoying anyway. You can’t tap it with the lid closed because there’s no space for the powder to tap into due to the space taken up by the puff so you have to tap it into the lid. Annoying.

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Bourjois “Healthy Balance” pressed powder

Love this stuff, I’ve raved about it before I don’t need to tell you how good it is. A staple in my makeup daily use.

Pros: super slimline packaging, fantastic for keeping in your purse and for travel, great mirror, stays closed because the hinge is firm enough.
Cons: literally none.

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Hada Labo Skin Plumping Gel Creme

This product is lovely. It’s a hyaluronic acid moisturizer so it’s extremely hydrating and nourishing, and I often wear it to bed when my skin feels really dry. But boy oh boy do I hate the packaging, so much. It’s mostly acrylic and it’s totally unnecessarily bulky. It’s also unhygienic – I wish every skincare product was in a pump pack even though sometimes it’s hard to get the last dregs out. I don’t want to be putting my finger in something all the time, and I hate wasting a q-tip by dipping one in every single night. At the moment because I’m dotting a little of my Kate Somerville acne treatment on with the other end, it doesn’t feel as wasteful but STILL.

Pros: feels quite solid I guess
Cons: basically everything else. Takes up heaps of room, is way too big for the amount of product, is heavy and not travel friendly, is unhygienic.

So that’s that! Bit boring I know, but it’s been brewing away in my head for awhile and I’m glad I got it out there.

Love+++
F&V

Beauty: May Favorites

May was a pretty good month for makeup really, I started my new job and started working on neutral, natural looks for every day wear. I thought I’d get sick of wearing makeup to work every day in about 3 days but I’m still loving it. I think for me just as I’m learning a new role it adds a little bit to my confidence and gives me an opportunity to try new stuff as well. Win win! Will I continue to wear makeup every day forever? Probably definitely not. I’ve also bought a few things that have really impressed me so let’s just crack on with it shall we?

L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation

I heard good things about this makeup from a few different bloggers, and god knows and you ALL know that I love a good matte finish because I’m oily AF. And it has NOT disappointed me. I really, really love it. It’s a definite matte finish and it’s a medium to high coverage, I’d say high coverage. I don’t feel like it is too cakey on my skin but to be really honest with you I find that hard to avoid so others might feel that it’s a little cakey. If you are the kind of person who likes a very light to medium coverage foundation then take my opinions with a grain of salt on foundation, ok? Don’t say I didn’t warn you! I have very uneven skintone, huge pores and scars and blemishes so coverage is my main goal. Fair warning!

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Anyway I apply this (my shade is 101 shell beige) with either the Real Techniques buffing brush or Expert Face Brush. One thing I’ll say about this is that for better or worse it dries pretty fast so I have been doing my face in sections. The shade range is a little strange, admittedly. The shades tend towards yellow, it’s really only the two lighter shades (101 shell beige and 102 classic ivory) that have any pink tone to them at all. I picked up totally the wrong shade the first time because the yellow undertone was quite strong so I took it back to CVS and changed it over for this one. Much better. I’ve also been mixing this with my NARS Luminous Weightless Full Coverage foundation which gives a great effect, it just takes the edge off the matte-ness. That’s a trick I learned from YouTube beauty personality MannyMUA (marred by controversy as he currently is, I still like some of the things he does in his tutorials).

Unfortunately this one isn’t available in Australia yet. I hope they pick up their game because it’s really very good! I got it at CVS and it was around $15. If you’ve seen any of my instagram pictures in the last few weeks I can basically guarantee I’ve been wearing this foundation unless otherwise indicated.

MAC Mineralize SkinFinish Natural

So the people who let me talk their ears off about makeup will know that I’ve been trying to work out how to use bronzer for about a year now. I don’t get it. I bought the Too Faced Milk Chocolate Soleil bronzer because I thought well, I’m pale and it’s for pale people so hooray! But I think it’s actually a smidge pale for me so I still didn’t get it. But THIS!.. this….

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Last month I went to Burlington (the largest city in Vermont) to do some training with my work. I went to MAC and asked them to please for the love of god teach me how to use it. I explained what I’d tried already and what my problems were and the amazing girl at MAC was SO HELPFUL! She told me that what I should try was something like the Mineralize SkinFinish Natural in a deeper skin tone than my own, because it’s mostly matte but has a tiiiiiny sheen to it so it won’t make me look muddy or like I’ve rolled around in a pan of brownies. She put it on in a C-shape from above my temples to along my cheekbones and I absolutely loved the effect. I went back and bought it the next day. She also used a brush I wouldn’t have expected, kind of a flat paddle brush and she used the flat side of it so that was interesting. I didn’t buy the brush but I took note of what it looked like and bought an ELF equivalent which is fine (the Complexion Brush for those who are interested).

I took the bronzer home (the next day, actually) and have been playing with it and wearing it every so often and even though it’s still a learning curve I’m loving it!

You can get this from MAC in Australia and in the USA (shop online at the official site or in store only, accept no shoddy substitutes guys, don’t take the risk some of those fakes are very well done). It’s $32 here and $49 in Australia (!).

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Dat glow~

Stila Eyes are the Window – Soul palette

I bought this from Mecca online in Australia the day I put Luuka on the plane to go to America. It was a bad day. Mama needed something shiny. And boy, did this ever not disappoint. Look at it! It’s so beautiful! Ugh I love it.

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I loved that this had a good range of neutral, natural shades in both warm and cool tones. I have been trying to learn more natural looks because in the past with eyeshadows I’ve always been like “OOOH A BRIGHT BLUE YES I WILL DEFINITELY USE THAT EVERY SINGLE DAY” which is so stupid. So I loved the look of this! And I wasn’t disappointed (mostly). Here’s the inside of the palette:

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There’s 5 matte shadows and the rest are shimmery with one that I’d call a “glitter”. More on that later. To be honest, the mattes were a tiny bit disappointing. Not that they’re BAD per se, they just don’t go on as smoothly as some other matte shadows that I own. Here’s some swatches. Please keep in mind that I swatched these on my arm so yeah there are some teeny hairs there that you prob won’t have on your lids 🙂

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Top to bottom: light (hard to see), individual, being, heart, essence

So you can see what I mean, they’re a little chunky but I was strict with my swatching here, I just did two repeats of putting color on my fingertip and wiping it once on my arm. So I could have blended them a bit better but I wanted to be realistic. I still use them though, just not as often as the shimmery shades because CAN WE JUST TALK ABOUT THEM FOR A MINUTE. PLEASE. LOOK AT THEM.

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Top to bottom: kitten, affection, character, thought, peace, vitality, substance

Come ON! They’re so nice. I even feel like the swatches don’t do them justice. I love these eyeshadows. A few of my online friends had been going on about kitten for ages but I was like ‘who cares it’s a pale pearly shimmer meh’ until I got it and hooooly jeebus it’s really amazing, especially as an inner-corner highlight, it just wakes the eye up so much. It’s glorious. You may be able to tell that there’s one notably disappointing shade here, it’s called “character”. This shade if I’m honest is total garbage. That is actually three swipes of colour, the one exception, because it’s soooo pale and not pigmented at all. I don’t know why it’s even there. In the palette, it’s the right side on the second line so you would think it’d be really dark like it looks in the pan. The glitter in it (the one “glitter” shade) is also really chunky so yeah I just don’t like it but the rest are gorgeous and I use them all the time! “Thought” is also absolutely beautiful.

This is a great palette. In the USA it retails for about $49 (Sephora) and in Australia from Mecca it’s $72. A big investment but it’s wonderful and if you are in the market for a neutrals palette but don’t want totally matte shades I’d give it a look.

L’Oreal La Palette Nude 1

Not really interested in paying that much? Well if you’re in the USA this is a pretty good alternative (not yet avail in Australia, sorry, though as always I’m happy to post). This is a new product from L’Oreal and I think it’s great, it’s what I use most days for work.

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There are only three matte shades in this palette but they are great:

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Much easier to blend than the Stila mattes actually, but not quite as pigmented. They’re nice. They’re not named, but on the back they are numbered and the back of the palette also has a diagram of four different looks and how to create them with the palette which is cool and handy!

The shimmers, again, are even better. There’s 7 shimmer shades and they’re all gorgeous.

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The top two shades are kinda hard to see, sorry!

They’re sheeny without being glittery and they’re well pigmented so you don’t have to dig your brush in too much to get enough color to work with. They blend easily and there’s a mix of cool and warm colors, though I do think that this palette leans more warm.

I think that if you have been umming and ahhing over any of the Naked palettes by Urban Decay (as I did) but were baulking at the price, this is a good alternative though of course not a perfect dupe as the colors are different from all of the Naked palettes. This is a great all rounder palette. It set me back about $19 from CVS.

Rimmel Exaggerate lip liner in East End Snob

I wont’ go on too much about this one it’s pretty basic, it’s just a great nude-pink lipliner which was missing from my collection. I had bright pinks and red pinks and nudes but no nude pinks. A YouTuber said it’s a great dupe for the much coveted Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Pillow Talk and though I don’t own that particular product (I wish), I can see where they’re coming from.

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If you are like me and you have pigmented lips, then this is a great nude for you to line your lips or even overdraw them a little bit if that’s what you’re into. In the picture above I’m wearing it under a really similar shade – NARS Audacious lipstick in “Anita”.

In Australia you can get this for about $12 from Priceline and I got this one here in the USA from Walgreens for $6. Bargain mate.

Too Faced Primed & Poreless primer

So my favorite beauty YouTuber, vintageortacky, has been raving about this for ages now. I had a few primers to get through but I finally ran out of them so I invested whilst I was in Burlington. Holy god have mercy it is FANTASTIC.

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The first time I used it I thought it was a tiny bit .. sticky? Oily? I don’t know, but I was scared. It reminds me of a stickier Benefit POREfessional. But it went on nicely and made my foundation go on nicely as well. It wasn’t until I took a selfie after my makeup was done that I basically lost my mind. MY FACE WAS SO SMOOTH. I couldn’t see any of my scars or any big pores or .. anything. It’s seriously amazing. Check it!

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It’s not JUST the light, it’s because of the primer.

This. Primer. Is. Life. It has a slight tint and it says it can be used alone but I call bullshit, I don’t think that’s a thing and the product is a little sticky so I think that’d be weird. Probably don’t do that. It’s so good though! It’s like spakfilla (is this an Australian product?) – you put it on the wall to fill in any of the holes and dents and blemishes then you paint over the top and it’s all flawless and amazing ughhhhhhhhhh I lov it

It’s $39 from Mecca in Australia and $30 from Sephora here in the USA.

That’s it for May. I have a few plans for blog posts and I’m trying to do at least two a week while things are quiet and I’m on BudgetWatch. Let me know if there’s something you’d like to see on the blog or if you have questions/concerns etc.

Thanks for reading!

Love+++
F&V

Lifting / Life: Why It’s Okay to Take a Break from Things You Love

I was editing my profile yesterday and I realized / remembered that the description for this blog includes the word “lifting”. I haven’t talked too much about that yet, and it may be something that doesn’t get talked about for awhile, even though I love to lift (and I love to talk about lifting!). Who among you has NOT had their ear talked off, or, unfortunately, lectured by past-me who felt the need to be a smug, superior jerk about lifting? I love to lift the weights, I really really do.

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However, of late I’ve been taking a long stroll down that well-trodden path, Struggle Street. I really have. The last year, hell the last year and a bit, has been pretty crazy for me. Let’s examine, in point form, what has been happening:

  • husband (then fiance) moving to Australia after 12 months of LDR
  • planned a destination wedding
  • awful stressful visa process ugh ugh UGH
  • getting married ❤
  • having a fairly active, not super restful (but wonderful) honeymoon
  • another wedding party when we got back
  • Christmas
  • family stresses
  • more visa garbage UGHHH
  • moving to America and staying with Ray’s (delightful) parents
  • apartment hunting
  • moving to Rutland, Vermont and furniture shopping for our first apartment
  • starting a new job in a totally new health system
  • joining a new and not amazingly friendly (my impression) gym

Phew, right?! That’s a lot of things. Normally, the gym can be relied upon as something that makes me feel centered, something that grounds me and makes me happy. Lately it’s been an absolute chore, I dread every session. That ain’t right, at all.

At first I thought it was because I wasn’t eating enough, or enough of the “right things”. I found every way in the book to blame myself. I resigned myself to just “sucking it up” and going anyway because gaining fat and getting weak is totally unacceptable. I tried lots of things to get myself excited about the gym again. I bought a new program from an online coach I really have a lot of respect for, thinking that’d give me the jumpstart I needed to love the gym again. People here and there gently suggested that my life had been full of upheaval and maybe I just needed to take it easy but NO. That’s not me. I’m organized and motivated and I can do ALL OF THE THINGS!

Actually, no I can’t. I want to stand still for awhile. I’m tired to my bones and to whatever skeletal equivalent my soul has as well. I just want to nest with my husband, pull myself together and do the things that make me happy for awhile.

Crunch time came last week when, after the gym, I found myself in tears in Ponderosa (a Sizzler-style restaurant, don’t judge me, Ray loves that shit) while talking this out with my husband. Not my finest moment 😐 I had had trouble articulating what the problem was before. I found myself telling him that I knew I had to keep working out because that was the only way I could eat food and not feel bad. It was the moment those words left my mouth that I realized there was a problem bigger than I had previously thought. That’s seriously disordered thinking and I have worked hard to try to get rid of those kinds of thought patterns. Alarm bells, right?

Right. So it’s time to take a break for awhile. I don’t anticipate it being a long break. I like feeling strong and having muscles. But it’s time for a reminder that those things don’t define me, and that I’m allowed to eat food to live, not just to lift. I’m not looking forward to the starting again, but for right now I feel strongly that this is the right thing for me and my body and my little family here in the backwoods of Vermont in the Spring.

And I guess the point of this post (because who the fuck honestly writes a post about taking a break from the gym? Get a real problem Fran) is to say that there is no shame in taking a break from something, even if you really love it. Taking a break isn’t failing. It’s a pretty big win in the game of understanding yourself and listening to yourself, whether it be your body, mind or soul. It doesn’t mean you love that thing any less. It just means you’re taking time to regroup.

Thanks for reading, take care of yourselves. You’re super important! ❤

PS. Can we talk about my mug?! It’s no “I Am Very Busy and Important” mug but NEVERTHELESS..

IMG_7412

Love+++
F&V