Review: ColourPop Ultra Matte Lip – Budget Friendly Liquid Lipsticks?! Yep.

I finally grabbed some of these recently after resisting for quite some time. I decided to have a play today and I’m quite impressed so far!

I also bought a couple of new Kat von D Metal Crush shadows recently (Thrasher, Black No.1 and Doce, which is brand new) so I had a play with those as well, hooray! Colors!

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These are lovely. I don’t know what else to say. I’m a huge fan. I wish they were released in a palette, because I want all of them. They’re creamy and buttery, pigmented and super, suuuper shiny. Almost wet-looking in their shiny metallicness. I love them! I decided to just go nuts and use all three today and this is what I came up with…

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Doce, in the center, is a gorgeous fall color. It’s a coppery, reddish warm tone. It’s not as much of a true brownish copper as Synergy, but not as red as Raw Power.

Anyway, moving on to the the ColourPop Ultra Matte Lips.

I bought Donut, Mars, Succulent, Guess and Lychee. They’re $6 a pop so it’s hard to resist buying more than one!

I tried on Guess last night and while it is interesting I’m not completely sold on it. Same with Donut. I have the same problem with Donut that I have with Mi-Am-Ee from Australis’ VelourLips range. It’s a bit light and a bit watermelon-y for my taste and it made me feel a bit ridiculous. So I’m sorry to say that those are going to need a bit more work/bravery from me before there are pics. But Mars, Succulent and Lychee are all great! Here they are, in that order:

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Fun right! Ok so as for the consistency, it’s good. It’s somehow more comfortable than a lot of other liquid lipsticks. It’s only been a couple of hours but other ones often “flake/pill” up on me by now so I’m impressed. One layer was enough to build adequate opacity, and they were easy to apply with the applicator. Guess was tougher but that’s just because the color is less forgiving – mistakes are easier to see with dark colors. They dry down matte but not chunky. Because you don’t have to use a lot of it, it doesn’t get an opportunity to feel too ‘thick’ on your lips. Good times!

All in all, for $6 each I kinda feel like you can’t go wrong. The packaging is sturdy and not cheap-feeling.

2015-09-27 14.29.36L-R: Succulent, Mars, Lychee, Donut, Guess

Here’s the swatches in the same order as above:

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The lower end is a bit liquidy because that’s where I first touched with the wand, but the other end is already dry not more than a few seconds after application. Pretty impressive stuff.

So anyway that’s my review for today – pretty much loving all o’ dis. September Favorites is coming up this week.

Thanks for reading!

Love++
F&V

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Facial Sprays: Prep, Prime, Hydrate and Refresh

A few people lately have asked in my various makeup groups about the Smashbox Primer Water, so I thought I’d do a post, not just about that but other facial sprays I use.

I love the feeling of a nice, cooling facial spray. It has been hot here (not for long!) so it’s been a lovely refreshing way to freshen my dull, sometimes cakey looking long-wear foundation after a good few hours of wear.

But what do the different sprays do? Let’s talk about it.

The First Aid Beauty Vitamin Hydrating Mist is something that I like to spray on between cleansing and moisturizing.

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I hate to apply moisturizer on a dry face, it just doesn’t feel nice and the spray helps the product to spread a little better. So it’s more of a skincare item than specifically a prep or fix spray. It feels nice and it’s got some decent skincare ingredients, and nothing irritating or more than level 1 comedogenic (I’m extremely acne prone and it hasn’t broken me out at all). There’s a slightly more comedogenic ingredient but it’s so far down the list that its amount is irrelevant.

I’ve probably used half of it and I only bought it maybe 3 weeks ago? So it’s not super great value IMO. That’s probably my only complaint.

You can pick this little beauty up at Sephora for $16 in the USA or  AU$17.40 from BeautyBay (which will ship to Australia).

The Smashbox Primer Water is interesting. I’ll admit: I wasn’t really that interested when it was announced. Primer water? Give me a break. What a fucking rort! I wasn’t even a little bit tempted. But then people whose opinions I respect started saying it was pretty great and because I’m a massive sheep I bought some.

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And you know what? I like it! I like to use it on top of a pore-refining primer to add some grip and moisture before I put foundation on. This product contains glycerin (well, it contains glycol and they are incredibly similar). The great thing about glycerin is that it is sticky! I know that sounds bad, but actually that’s exactly what we are looking for in primers, particularly oil-absorbing primers. Now, is this a miracle amazing revolutionary product? No – it’s probably only marginally better than a normal toner (and PC Beautypedia backs that up), but it’s pretty nice and does a good job, and you can use it as a setting spray allegedly as well (the girl in Sephora told me that, I’ve never done it myself). I also like that this is a “quick” primer if I want one, if I’m running out of time to do the full “dot and blend” primer routine. It gives another layer of oil-absorbing ingredients that your skin’s natural oils have to fight through to get to your makeup and oxidize it. So it does a great job for me. If you are someone who is very sensitive to fragrances you might want to be careful with this one, though. It’s not overly fragranced but it does contain potentially irritating fragrance.

A tip I heard just today (thanks Kelly!) is to press the product into your skin in the areas where you get most oily, for a little bit more oil absorption. I look forward to trying this tip!

You can get it for $16 to $32 (pick up a travel size if you’re not sure!) at Sephora or for $47 for the full size at Mecca in Australia.

MAC Fix+ is “the” prep and fix spray. It’s the original and let’s be honest, the best. It’s an amazing multi-purpose product.

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The spray mechanism is FANTASTIC, much better than any other non-aerosol facial spray I’ve ever used. It’s a very, very fine mist that really does enable one to have quite a lot of control over the spray direction. Its second ingredient is glycerin so that’s a definite plus as well. It contains a decent blend of small amounts of antioxidants etc. But it really is the spray mechanism that’s the star of the show.

I love to use this to refresh my makeup after a long day of makeup-wearing, say if I don’t want to take my makeup off and re-apply before going out at night. It works like a treat because it’s not a heavy spray. It can be used as a fixing spray too.

This is also available in a mini, which I keep in my handbag. It’s the perfect size for that purpose. You can pick up the full size from MAC Cosmetics for $22 or the mini for $10, and in Australia you can get the full size for $27 or the mini for $15.

The final product I’m going to talk about is one I have mixed feelings about. It’s the Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray.

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Ok so here’s the thing. This product shouldn’t really work. I mean, its second ingredient is alcohol. That’s not good. I always avoid alcohol. But I have been using this product for awhile and it seems to do the job and doesn’t break me out. I think this is because by the time you spray it on your face there’s quite a few layers between it and your skin, so it doesn’t get close enough to be irritating.

The mixed feeling comes from the fact that I’m not sure that this does any better job than a similar product, or even just a toner spray. So when this one is out, I won’t be buying another. I’m going to switch to just using Fix+ to see if it does a similar job.

In saying that, this is an EXTREMELY popular product that does work. But the ingredient list is a bit scary so be aware of that. In the US you can get this for $14 for a travel/trial size or $30 for the full size (select the other size), in Australia for $44 for the full size or the mini for $22. I would strongly recommend trying the smaller size first. It’s a pricey product and if it sucks (and you don’t like returning things), you may regret the purchase. Sidenote: there are other types of sprays in this product line that may suit better but I don’t feel that there’s a big difference, ingredients wise. Just something to keep in mind.

I’d love to hear what you guys think about these products, or if you’ve tried any similar ones!

Love++
F&V

Life Stuff: The Grief of Moving Far from Home – #RUOK Special Edition

I have been see-sawing on posting this, and I still may not, depending on how it comes out. More later on why it has been hard to decide. But for now, I really feel like I have to get some of this stuff out of my head.

The last couple of weeks I’ve really been struggling with homesickness. Really, really struggling. I think what is happening at the moment is more than the short periods of sadness related to things happening back home or hormonal issues I’ve experienced since moving, and more of the beginning of the true grief of leaving behind my home of 30+ years. I’m mourning the life I thought I would have, even if it wasn’t that exciting.

There are a lot of things that seemed like sureties in my life that I’ve had to put to rest. For example, a few years ago I realized that I would never live in a city. I don’t like them. So, I dated a few guys from my home town and even though they weren’t The One(s) that was still my future, I was pretty sure. We’d get married and if we decided to have kids, I would have a baby shower and all my friends and family would come and it would be amazing and I’d see how many people were there for me and how much support I had, in the networks I built up over 30 years. My grandmother would be there, and my aunt who is one of my best friends, who I’ve known since I was born, would host it maybe. I don’t know. It wasn’t an actual fantasy in my head, because it was by no means guaranteed that I’d have kids, but if I did that is how it would have gone. I’ve been to my friends’ baby showers and that’s been how they went and it’s been lovely.

I’ll never have that. I’ll never have hand-me-downs or, should I have been so lucky, family heirlooms. I have to let go of it. I know some of you right now are knee-jerking into saying “YES YOU WILL, THAT KIND OF THING JUST TAKES TIME” and you’re of course right in a way, making friends does take time. But, it’s just not really relevant. I would have to be here for a very long time to build up the kind of support networks that I had back home. It’s not going to happen. That’s Not Realistic. Does that mean I’ll have a miserable, supportless pregnancy and babyhaving? No, hopefully not, but making friends as an adult in a totally new place is really hard. Most people make friends from childhood or university and keep them. Ray’s parents (and his lovely friends!) are absolutely delightful, and SO kind and good to me, I adore them. But they’re not my family, the people I grew up with, the people who have loved me for 30 years despite all my shitty behaviour. So that was just a really long example of some of the things I’m feeling grief and loss for at the moment. I’m processing. It’s hard.

I’m also really missing my friends. Lately I’ve found myself even feeling a little angry with them, and hurt, because I don’t really hear from most of them much. I’m saying this, not to make anyone feel guilty, but to respect and acknowledge my own feelings and work on processing them. Because of course it’s not fair to be mad at my friends. They haven’t done anything wrong! They have busy lives full of all the things that they had when I was still there – they were just more easily accessible to me then. But whether my feelings are fair or not, they’re still my feelings. I just miss them so much, and in the past when I felt like I missed them, I would just be like “bitch, I’m coming around for a wine, put that sauv blanc in the freezer stat” and we’d do that. Now I can’t do that. If I even want to talk to them we have to set up a time when we’re both awake and free. It’s kind of exhausting, not just for me I suspect.

See, the thing is, that they just lost me, but I lost all of them. I lost them, even if not literally, in a very real, very life-affecting way. My friends have long been my lifeline. They’ve dragged me kicking and screaming through some really tough shit, for many many years. Some of them since I was born. Some for more than two thirds of my life. Some since high school, and some in a shorter but no less meaningful span of time. I owe them so much. That is a hard thing to leave behind, no matter what the future looks like. I missed one of my best friends’ weddings over the weekend. That hurt. I should have been there. I cry all the time. I heard a few bars of Michael Buble’s song “Home” at the markets on the weekend and had to try to block it out – lucky I was wearing sunglasses.

Fathers Day was last Sunday and I wasn’t there to make dad an elaborate dinner. I always make him dinner. It was a hard day.

I loved my life in Australia. I didn’t realize how important it was for my identity to have deep roots in the community like I did. I knew it was valuable to me but I did not have any idea just how much value that sense of connection had to my sense of self. Here, I’m flailing. And I’m lonely.

And don’t get me wrong – I don’t regret moving to the USA. My husband, who I love more than life, more every day, has amazing job opportunities here and a fairly clear career path – neither of which I have or want, and neither of which he had access to in Australia. That’s really important, and I proudly consider my main role in life to be his supporter and head cheerleader. Maybe I’ll add mother of his adorable babies to that one day but right now and for the current foreseeable future that’s my life, and I love that life. I do. I love my husband and being with him is vitally important to my wellbeing. When he and I talked all this through at dinner on Tuesday night in an awesome pub in Montpelier, I felt my love for him fill my heart. He was so understanding, so kind, he let me talk and vent and he helped me process. He managed to put his discomfort aside (after all, it’s hard to feel like your spouse is unhappy in the country you’ve brought them to!) to be supportive and loving. And New England is beautiful! I don’t love the town I live in but the area is gorgeous. It has lots of positives. But it’s still hard to be so far away.

I’m lucky because I do have some fabulous friends in the USA and Canada, scattered over the country as they are, none of them nearby by most stretches of the imagination but it’s still great to know I’m not totally alone. I’m also very lucky that technology like Facebook exists so I can talk to my mum every day, and iMessage so I can text dad about silly things Americans do and what kind of shower curtain public transit map design he might like. And Skype so I can see people’s faces! So good!

So yeah, I am grieving. I am mourning the loss of my life as I have always known it. The shine has worn off The Big Move and reality is settling in.

And in the spirit of #RUOK Day, no actually, I’m not okay. But I will be, with time. I’ll carve out my new niche.

I want my beloved friends to know that this post is not about blame, or pointing fingers or anything like that. It’s really not. That’s why it was so hard to post this – I wanted to be honest about my own feelings while trying my best to protect the feelings of others. My friends back home have jobs, babies, families, and TONNES of stuff going on in their lives. I hold nothing, not a shred of any ill will towards them at all. It’s. Just. Hard.

Take care of each other. Ask the question, today and as many days as you can muster. Are you okay?

Love,
F&V

Disappointing Beauty Products: Episode 1

I thought I’d do a quick post about some very disappointing products I’ve encountered over the last few months.

Disclaimer: I know for a fact that some people absolutely love these products. I am not saying that these are objectively bad. Just for me, they were disappointing.

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First up, the Briogeo Rosarco Milk Reparative Leave-In Conditioning Spray. I had heard amazing things about this brand so I was really excited when I got it in a beauty box! I followed the directions and sprayed this generously on my short, coarse, thick, dry hair when it was damp, then blow dried on medium heat like I always do. After it was dry, my hair was actually worse than it usually is. It felt rough and limp. Not happy. I didn’t bother using it again.

Now, I love Lush‘s body products. I do. I love their massage bars particularly. I really wanted to try Pearl, because it had the scent of Rose Jam in it, which I love (it’s a shower gel). But when we tried to use it, it was basically impossible to use without getting crunchy, sharp and scratchy bits of dried sago bubbles mixed into the melted oil, which really sucked and hurt when rubbed into the skin. What the hell, Lush?! Ugh.

The MDMflow Greater Than Mascara was HIGHLY touted as being absolutely amazing. I got it in a beauty box. Before I got my Boxycharm, I saw on their instagram that a lot of people had complained that it was garbage and they posted that it had to be ~primed~ first or some dumb crap. But I thought, ok. So when I got it, with its beautiful heft, shiny golden packaging and minimalist font, I really wanted to love it. I primed it carefully as per the instructions (a lot of pumping basically). It. Was. Garbage. Utter and complete crap. I swept it onto my lashes, nothing. Again: nothing. Once more just to see. Nothing. Aaaabsolutely nothing. Not a skerrick of mascara on my lashes. For like $30, get directly fucked mate. Glad I didn’t pay that much for it.

The Aussie 3 Minute Miracle hair treatment is a hilarious product to me because even though I am Australian I’ve never even heard of this brand. A friend recommended giving this a go for my “oh god I just changed climates and my hair is fried” issues. I followed the directions and left it on for 3+ minutes while I did other things and massaged it into my hair a bit. Rinsed it out and again it didn’t feel any better than before. Nada. I gave it 3 more goes, because it comes in a huge bottle (it’s really cheap too, if it works for you I’m jealous!) and I had nothing to lose. Still nothing. But this one is one I know works for a lot of people so it might just be that my hair is super fucked, you know? Anyway.


(I know I’ve used this gif before but Jebediah Atkinson is my spirit animal)

The Yes to Grapefruits wipes were one that Lily Pebbles or Fleur deForce or some other British beauty bloggers had in their favorites. I was looking for a way to not wet my face in the morning because I’m super lazy so I thought I’d use wipes to skip the cleansing process. Ummmm yeah look guys, this one’s on me. I think these wipes are actually quite good at what they do: they’re brightening and rejuvenating but the problem is that I’m quite sensitive and these are full of alcohol, peppermint oil and other irritants. If you have not sensitive, dull, lifeless skin then I would recommend giving these a go. But they broke me out to the max because I AM sensitive and these really were the catalyst for me to start figuring out which products were irritating me. So yeah, sorry.

The Hourglass primer serum made my skin feel dry and crunchy and weird. I thought it was meant to be hydrating? It also had a really strong scent which puts me off. I only had a little sample of it thankfully. Important note: the Hourglass Mineral Veil primer is WONDERFUL and if I could afford it I’d buy the huge jumbo size of it. Just this one isn’t that great.

The Sephora lip ink was another sample thank god because even though it read like it would be moisturizing and pigmented it was neither and nothing has ever dried out my lips as fast as this did. Straight in the bin.

I did a post about the Rimmel ScandalEyes eyeshadow stick and how much I disliked it so I won’t go into it. Cream stick eyeshadows just don’t seem to like me – well drugstore ones anyway.

The MICA beauty cosmetics gel liner had so. much. promise. It went on super pigmented, super opaque and so creamy. It was glorious. I played so happily with it. But it smudged, smeared, stamped on my upper eyelid and just did not dry at all. It was bad. And I was so sad. I wanted to love it, but this was the worst gel liner I’ve ever come across, ever. The end.

I would love to know if you guys have ever used any of these and if so, what you thought!

Love++
F&V

Makeup Startup: Bronzer for Beginners

Hi! I’m back. Thanks for your patience. End of August and all of September is a crazy time for me at work, but I’m going to try to pre-write blog posts to keep some kind of regularity.

Today I want to talk about bronzer. I am really new to bronzer! I bought my first one about a year ago and used it once before abandoning it because I felt like I looked as if I’d rolled around in a pan of brownies. Not cool.

I think I avoided bronzer for so long because I thought that if you wore bronzer it was because you wanted to look tanned and summery all the time. Or in the more extreme cases because you like to look like you ate a packet of Doritos a little too aggressively.

AHH! ummm. You look very.. healthy..

But actually, bronzer is a great way to give your face some shape and dimension. Foundation tends to flatten out our complexions – which is what you want, even skin tone, even color. But adding back in some color can really give our faces back some life.

I learned about bronzer finally this year at MAC in Burlington. I went in there and said I was having trouble choosing the right one, that I was trying to keep it matte and avoid too much shimmer, but that I still wanted to give my face some life. She recommended that I try using one of their face powders – specifically the Mineralize Skin Finish Natural in “Medium Deep” – ie for someone whose skin tone is about 4 shades deeper than mine. She used a paddle-type brush with a tapered end and flat sides to sweep bronzer onto the sides of my face in a “C” shape. I was SO impressed by the effect that I went back and bought the powder the next day.

So this morning I started with a totally blank slate. My skin is looking great at the moment, this is about as good as it gets!

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Next up, I used some Smashbox Primer Water to provide a nice sticky base, then applied some Kat von D Tattoo Lock-It foundation (still trialling this one, but it DOES have good coverage!), plus the matching concealer and powder.

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Decent base, but not a lot of shape or definition. So like I said, I use a “C” shape (well, in this case a backwards C (um excuse me what did you just call me m8?!)) to add some shape back into the face. I swipe the end of the brush through the bronzer and then use the straight end of the brush to apply the product. Then I use the flat sides of the brush to go over it and blend. See my extremely profesh diagram:

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End result:

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And a comparison:

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Not overly golden or tanned just a bit of shape and definition. Today I used the MAC Mineralize SkinFinish Natural in Medium Deep as discussed earlier, and a paddle-like ELF complexion brush that I got for like $5 from KMart:

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But here are some other bronzers I own and use fairly often:

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Top: Tarte Bronzer in “Park Ave”, MAC MSFN in “Medium Deep”, Too Faced Milk Chocolate Soleil bronzer, Too Faced Soul Mates Blushing Bronzer in “Carrie & Big”.

So you can see I mostly lean towards cooler toned (ie, not orangey warm-browns) bronzers with not much shimmer. The heart-shaped TF bronzer does have a little bit of shimmer to it which can be nice. It’s more of a glowy shimmer than a glittery one. The Tarte bronzer has a tiny bit of shimmer in it too but not enough that it makes you look like a disco ball. I think that for beginners the TF Milk Chocolate Soleil is a fabulous choice (or the darker shades for someone who might not be as pale as me). It’s really matte, really subtle and can be built up slowly.

And here is the finished look with some blush. I haven’t added any eye or lip makeup, I just did my brows (early in the piece) and used some setting spray.

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Products used:

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The end! I’m going to do a disappointing products post soon. You also may notice that there’s no August favorites. I think Favorites posts will be bi-monthly, or I need to start making notes of things I’m really enjoying throughout the month.. Whenever the end of the month comes around I can never think of anything I’ve really loved, that I haven’t already talked about!

Sorry, once again, for the irregularity! Sometimes life gets in the way, you know?

So tell me, how do you use your bronzer? I’m such a noob, I’d love some more tips!

Love+++
F&V