Product Focus: Maybelline Color Tattoo 24 Hour Cream Eyeshadows

One of my absolute favorite things is when I find a product that’s reasonably priced (ie drugstore priced) and AMAZING quality. This is one of my greatest joys. And these little babies are my absolute first thought when I think of great drugstore dupes.

What are they? They’re these cute little numbers…

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They come in really good quality glass jars with a tightly-fitting plastic lid. They feel much more expensive and luxurious than their US$8 cost. They come in a bunch of different colors and finishes. You get a tonne of product for your buck. They’re seriously great. The packaging is important, because air is the enemy of cream shadows. It makes them crusty and too dry. Yuck. You always want glass with a tightly fitting lid. That goes for cream/gel liner pots too.

So how does one use them? Well the answer is super mega varied, to be honest with you. But let’s cover the basics.

First of all, you can use them just like normal eyeshadow. You do have to work quickly, but there’s absolutely nothing stopping you from dabbing a bit of them onto your eyelids and blending them out with either your finger or a brush. The way I normally apply them (the one I wear most often, Bad to the Bronze, always gets applied like this) is to pat some onto my center eyelid then use a MAC 217 or something like that to buff out the edges so it’s not a stark line. That’s it. Done. This can be done with or without primer. I find these to be so longlasting without creasing that I don’t bother too much with primer.

In fact, that brings me to my next point. You can use these AS a base. They’re not PRIMER as such, but they’re amazingly long lasting and you can use them to layer other colors on top (powder shadows), to make the colors really pop a lot more. One strategy is to use a black or dark color to stick bright colors to – do you ever find that brights don’t look as bright on your eyelid as they do in the pan? Try this trick and report back. You’re welcome in advance.

So one weird trick you can also use these for is contour. I know. Bear with me. My friend Mary told me a few months back that when she’s doing more costume/drag type makeup she will use the shade Creamy Beige to do a rather dramatic contour. I was skeptical but when I tried it, you know what, it’s actually great. Like I said, it’s pretty dramatic, but it looked legit good and cool. Something you would use if you were doing a Maleficent makeup, for example.

For cream shadows, these are quite ‘hard’. They’re not soft and creamy and liquidy like say the MaxFactor Excess Shimmer shadows, or even the Chanel Illusion d’Ombre ones. I would compare them more to the MAC paint pots though even those are a little softer. But this is actually a good thing, in my opinion. It means that they’re hardier and less likely to crease in your … creases.

For this reason I suggest using your fingers over a brush, at least for placing the color down. You can use a brush to blend it out and smooth it but for application I think fingers works best. Just get a little bit on your fingertip and then pat it on carefully (or not carefully, I don’t care, I’m not your mum).

But it’s not all good news. For one thing, the quality of these shadows vary WILDLY between shades which is something that really pisses me off. I want a reliable product that performs the same across different shades. But noooo.. sigh. So that’s really annoying. This seems to be as good a time as any to show you some swatches.

2015-10-13 12.26.49Top to bottom: Silver Strike, tenacious Teal, Tough as Taupe, Creamy Beige, Bad to the Bronze, Inked in Pink, Pomegranate Punk, Fuchsia Fever, Dramatic Black.

So you’re not blind. You can see what I’m saying. The last two are absolutely the worst, but Silver Strike is also particularly bad. Important note: some of these swatches being a bit “thick” in parts are just from me being a little overzealous with how much product I got on my fingertip – Bad to the Bronze particularly because I just love it so much and it’s probably the easiest to use as well. So you can see that Fuchsia Fever is just total garbage in fact I don’t know why I don’t just throw it out, same with Dramatic Black – though DB isn’t as bad as FF, with a little work it’s perfectly serviceable – I just have a better one in MAC’s Blackground paint pot.

Pomegranate Punk and Inked in Pink are also a little bit patchy but they work fine with a little extra work. Tenacious Teal, Bad to the Bronze, Creamy Beige, Tough as Taupe all work wonderfully. There’s another shade called Barely Branded that’s also excellent, but IMO it’s quite similar to, again, a MAC paint pot that I already own so I don’t feel a strong need to pick that one up (what is wrong with me?).

Here’s another swatch pic featuring dog, before I sign off..

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No-Makeup Makeup – For When You Seriously CBF

So, realtalk. If I don’t feel like wearing makeup, or don’t have time to put it on, I just don’t wear any. Not a stitch. Sometimes when I have to leave home before 7am and it’s still dark and I don’t want to wake my husband, I’ll just shove my brow pencil in my scrubs pocket and head off. Sometimes I don’t even do that. Whatever. I’m not the kind of person who feels like they need a minimum of makeup just to leave the house. I didn’t wear makeup to work for the majority of my working life. Just wanted to get that out of the way!

In saying that, sometimes I just want to do the basics. Someone on my makeup group on FB mentioned that they think of their “no-makeup makeup” in “levels” (thanks Carolyn!), and when I thought about it, so do I. I just had never really articulated it before. So I thought I’d stick with that theme and show you three levels of NMM.

So this is what we’re starting with: the blank canvas, as it were.

2015-10-13 10.46.29Level 0 is still a level, ok?

For level 1, I really do just do the basics. Moisturizer first obviously (that’s not included because you should ALWAYS WEAR MOISTURIZER! That’s really important. Apart from that, it’s just a bit of primer, a light foundation, some translucent powder, tinted moisturizer or BB cream (personal preference), mascara and brow pencil.

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I nearly didn’t include primer in this because it’s not necessarily a “must”, and if you just need a smidge of makeup for a couple of hours then I wouldn’t even worry about it but if you need your NMM to last all day, primer gives your makeup another layer between it and your sebum-producing skin (sebum contributes heavily to makeup breakdown) so it can really help a lot. In this case, I used the Too Faced Hangover Rx Primer which is a very dewy, hydrating, light primer that’s perfect for this exact look. After that it’s a smidge of the BareMinerals Complexion Rescue gel-cream foundation (it’s very light), which I applied with my fingers – I think it’s best applied that way in a couple of layers if you like. At first, I was going to leave the base as is but when I took pictures I was EXTREMELY shiny so I just used a little bit of translucent powder to matte things out a little bit, just in the t-zone patted on with a soft brush. Don’t go nuts. I used my ride-or-die go to translucent powder, the Make Up For Ever HD Powder. Translucent powder is great because it doesn’t add any additional coverage – just a little bit of mattification. Is that a word? IT IS NOW. Anyway, then it’s just some mascara – my current favorite is the Maybelline Lash Sensational, and a quick sweep of the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz in Dark Brown and you’re done. And the result?

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Pretty basic stuff. Decent difference when put side by side though:

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Chuck some lip balm on (a winter essential anyway) and we’re good to go. But if you want to add a little bit more oomph to this look, you can go to level 2.

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First, concealer. I used the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in the shade Custard under my eyes, around my nostrils, on my chin and in the middle of my eyebrows. I blended it out with a MAC stippling brush, then set it with the same fluffy brush as the translucent powder with the Maybelline Fit Me powder. It’s a powder that has some pigmentation to it, not heaps, but enough to add a little bit more coverage. I then used my favorite bronzer, MAC Mineralize SkinFinish Natural, in the usual bronzing area (see my bronzing post) and some mid-toned blush, this time I used Milani Baked Blush in Luminoso on the apples of my cheeks and brought a little up to the higher points, as it has some reflective quality and isn’t too high in color content. Fresh! Finally, I just added some brown eyeliner – I used Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Roach, just on my upper and lower waterlines, not on the lid itself. Et voila.

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I forgot to take a more front-on one for this section! Sorry guys but still, here’s the comparison:

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I’ve added some dimension and color, but it’s still very basic.

Finally, there’s level 3. Let’s say I want to just add some color here, but still keep it really simple. Easy!

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I just added some of my favorite cream eyeshadow (because it’s gorgeous and super long-lasting and easy to apply), Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze, using my finger and patted on then blended on the mobile lid. Then I grabbed my most user-friendly lip product, the NYX Matte Lip Cream in Milan, popped some of that on and I was good to go.

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And the comparison:

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I would estimate that without the photography pausing, the whole look up to the end of level 3 took me about … 10 minutes? Max. After this, I went out to the bank to get some checks and figure out what the hell my account number is (credit unions are weird). I know – the fun and exciting life I lead!

So here’s the look in some gorgeous Vermont fall light.

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I didn’t even need a jacket. It’s super mild today. But the temperatures are dropping below zero this weekend so I’m enjoying it while it lasts.

Coming up on the weekend I have a whole post devoted to the Maybelline Color Tattoo cream shadows so keep an eye out for that one!

Love+++
F&V

Portable Makeup: What Do You Need in Your Bag?

So I’m still having trouble saying “purse” for handbag. It doesn’t make any sense to me. A wallet is a purse. A handbag is not a purse. Anyway – Americans feel free to read “purse” when I say “handbag”.

As always, when I say “need”, please take with a grain of salt. There are many days when I do not touch any of these items and just let my makeup take its natural course. But if you’re going out after work or if you really want everything to look as fresh as possible, I have some tips for you my friends!

First of all, I find it easier to use two small cosmetic purses (this use is fine btw) rather than one large, handbag clogging one. I tend to separate this into actual makeup items and “other”. This is all the makeup-related junk I keep in my bag:

I consider it to be pretty darn pared down, to be honest with you, particularly since I am usually a total garbage packerator.

So let’s get the non-makeup stuff out of the way. The “other” bag is actually one of a pair that I got sent by my lovely friend, Zoe, who got them for me from the Turrell Exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia. The other one is purple, and I keep my receipts and other important things in it (I have become a hardcore budget recorder!).

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So realtalk, I left a couple of things out of this picture because they were kinda scuzzy. I left out a little packet of mini tissues and some chewing gum. They were kinda not really relevant. Also I keep a little mini tube of hand cream in here (Soap & Glory Hand Food) but it’s empty and the label has basically come off completely and it looks groce. Sorry.

One thing I like about this bag is that it is REALLY rigid. It’s a thick rubberised plastic that does not bend easily so it keeps everything really safely. I love it!

It contains my travel size of Jo Malone London – Wood Sage & Sea Salt perfume which is hands down my favorite perfume everrrrr. If I’m going somewhere after work I always spritz a little of it. I also keep my favorite hand sanitizer in here – it’s the Soap & Glory Hand Maid one and it smells great and I have no idea how to get more.

My actual makeup bag I got from Forever New in Australia last year. I like stripes. It’s a faux leather type material. I like it for similar reasons to the other bag – it’s quite rigid and doesn’t flop around letting things bang on other things. Technical!

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So it has just the absolute essentials (IMO).

  • A mini mascara (this is the IT Cosmetics Tightline mascara, I have it in there because it has the secondary purpose of eyeliner!
  • A mini Sigma E25 blending brush – I use this to re-blend any creased eyeshadow that might have gathered during the day, and to add additional color if I need to (I would just pack the eyeshadow in here if I needed to).
  • My Make Up For Ever pressed translucent powder – it is great for topping up powder on the face which absorbs oil that may have fought through my makeup throughout the day, making everything look a little fresher. It came in a little carrying case which I really liked, it gives the powder some extra protection.
  • MAC Fix+ mini spray bottle – this is perfect for freshening up tired makeup. If you go overboard with the powder, it also does a great job of patting down any excess powder. It also feels amazing on dry skin, or when it’s hot, I really love this product!
  • A kabuki brush – it’s super super soft and helps me to add powder without disturbing the existing makeup too much. Some people might prefer a powder sponge – this is totally personal. I prefer the brush.
  • A small packet of makeup removal wipes. I won’t lie – the only time I’ve used these is in Montreal when shopping for dresses with my gorgeous friends Nathalie and her fiance Zac. A girl who was waiting in line for the changing rooms had her son with her and he got into her bag and pumped foundation everywhere. ME TO THE RESCUE I am so great.
  • Sephora Targeted Eye Makeup Remover Swabs – these are great for if things are just a bit messy at the end of the day. You snap the end off the little cotton bud / q-tip and it lets the liquid in the stem into the tip. It’s a clean, neat way to tidy up any messes or, you know, if you are trialling a new eyeliner and it turns out to be total garbage and you need to get it off your face, stat.

So that’s honestly it. I don’t go overboard. You could throw in some concealer, a mini eyeliner or something, a small eyeshadow palette or something and you’ve got everything you could ever need.

I have a few good ideas for posts coming up. I’m sorry that I’ve been so quiet lately but I’ve been happily lacking in inspiration – it’s totally fine to take a break from things you love (remember?).

Excitingly, I also have a guest post coming up for you guys! Stay tuned – and as always, your ideas, feedback and comments are all 100% welcome.

Love+++
F&V

September Favorites

Ok so I know that I didn’t do an August favorites post and this one is a bit late so please accept my apologies! Just a few things for this month, I’ve been trying a few different things so some things aren’t like legit favorites yet, but I feel they’ll be there in the future. Let’s crack on.

Kat von D’s Tattoo Lock-It Foundation, Concealer & Powder has been getting a lot of wear from me this month.

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The foundation is full coverage and it’s matte but not overly cakey or chalky. I think it’s a great one for most skin types apart from those who are very dry. One thing I’ll say about it is that it needs a good moisturizer AND primer layer as it is prone to oxidizing. So if that is something that you really avoid in foundations, skip this one for sure. I also love the concealer, this is funny because it’s one I actually gave away in the past because I didn’t like it but it’s back in the good books now, the formulation has changed and one thing I didn’t like in the past was how a little bit of oil was always there when you squidged some out of the tube but I figured out that just smooshing the tube around fixes that up a treat. It’s a very full coverage concealer and I like it a lot. It’s not brightening at all, it’s totally matte. The powder is great as well, it’s technically a powder foundation not a setting powder and you could wear it alone but I think it has a similar issue to the liquid foundation and that is that it does oxidize a tad so I use it as setting powder to give a little extra coverage. It’s great stuff and, like all KvD products, the packaging is gorgeous. You can get these from Sephora exclusively.

This month I decided to give the new Ole Henriksen “Empower” Foaming Milk Cleanser a try.

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It was getting good press for people in their mid-twenties / early thirties who just wanted a nice simple cleanser (plus the matching moisturizer – I only have a sample, jury is still out, stay tuned). I’m always attracted to “milk” type cleansers because I HATE overly-foamy, gel-like, drying UGH AWFUL UGH ok anyway, I like these kinds and this one did NOT let me down. It’s lovely. I use it as my second step after using an oil cleanser to remove my makeup (I’m currently trialing Clinique’s “Take the Day Off” cleansing oil – stay tuned). It’s nothing incredible but to be honest, cleansers often aren’t. They don’t stay on your skin long enough to be hugely amazing IMO and at $26, this one is reasonably priced for an enormous amount of product. You can get it from Sephora in the USA and in Australia from Sephora too probably but WHO WOULD KNOW because no online shopping yet. Get on it guys, seriously.

The First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Daily Face Cream has been my go-to morning moisturizer for this majority of this month and it’s a good one, I’m a fan.

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I’ve recently read that their mattifying gel moisturizer is incredible so I might try that one next but this one has been great. It’s lightweight, it sinks in fast and it works. There’s not much else to say about it really! Oh yeah wait – it comes in a pump bottle which I love, if there’s anything I find super wasteful and annoying (and unhygienic) it’s moisturizer in a frickin’ jar. This brand is great for people with sensitive skin (for the most part – always check ingredients and get familiar with what irritates your skin). You can get it for $20 from Sephora in the USA and oh look it’s not available at AdoreBeauty although other products from the brand are, but you can get it it from BeautyBay if you’re willing to wait for $25.80.

My go-to fall nail polish color so far has been plucked straight from the “new in” section of CVS – it’s the Essie Fall Collection – Leggy Legend.

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It’s just a gorgeous, bronzey, slightly iridescent coppery color and I love it. Essie is great. I have no idea if this is available in Australia – I guess because it’s seasonal maybe not? But you can grab it from any drugstore or Target or anywhere that sells Essie for like $8-9. Woo!

My skin immediately started getting very lizardlike as soon as the weather cooled down so it was body lotion trying time. I heard a lot of people saying very good things about the Josie Maran Whipped Argan Oil Body Butter.

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So I picked some up in the scent “lavender” because I often put on body butter before going to sleep and it’s a sleepy scent. I love this stuff! It works great, it’s easy to spread, it sinks in fast so you don’t feel greasy and it smells AMAZING. I also bought some in the Ginger fragrance for someone and it smells phenomenal as well. I’m not sure about the “whipped” thing. It feels the same as normal body butter to me? Anyway, it comes in tonnes of different fragrances and is available from Sephora in the travel size (which I got) for $12 (!!! pretty good really!) and $35 for the larger sizes, and in Australia from Mecca (though only in 2 scents) for $17 and $48.

I love drugstore mascara and my latest love is no exception. It’s the Maybelline Lash Sensational mascara.

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It works great. It’s not clumpy. It both lengthens and adds volume. It’s just a really great mascara and it’s super cheap – about $9 at the drugstore and I know it’s also available from anywhere in Australia that sells Maybelline too. A+ mascara, will definitely buy again!

Special mention this month goes to a super cool gift that my lovely friend Megan sent me. It’s a Marimo terrarium!

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It’s a gorgeous mason jar with a little seascape in it made of lego sharks (the maker went out and bought them especially for me – I love sharks!) and the prize addition of some adorable little Marimo moss balls. You can read more about them on the Etsy store page but if you’re stuck for a gift for someone special and you think they’d get a kick out of this (the maker sends you everything you need, carefully packaged!), then I urge you to contact MomoBarks to set something up. She rules.

That’s all from me this month – next month expect more fall-related items, it’s really starting to cool down very fast which is exciting and terrifying. I have a real winter coat now! Look at me go!

Ok bye lovers!

Love+++
F&V

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

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

Travel Makeup – the Overpacker’s Guide to Trying Not to Overpack

I’m off to Washington DC next weekend for my husband’s college friend’s wedding. I’m really looking forward to it, I haven’t met a lot of Ray’s college friends.. or maybe any of them.. huh.. but anyway I have a cute navy dress and I’m ready to rumble. I’m having my makeup done on Saturday night for some drinks with my beloved DC area friends but I have to do my own (UGH!) Friday night and for the wedding on Sunday. So what the hell should I pack?

Well I’ll let you in on a little secret. I always, ALWAYS take too much dumb crap that I don’t even touch the entire time. I’m going to try, REALLY TRY, to slim things down but I’m also going to make a trip report and tell you guys what I decided wasn’t useful afterwards. So with no further ado let’s get into it.

First, check out my beautiful cosmetics bag…

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It’s SO BEAUTIFUL you can get this and others like it for $24 from Sephora

The boring stuff still needs to be packed. All this goes into a separate bag – it’s toiletries not makeup. Obviously. Ahem.

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CLEANUP DUTY

This brings me to an important point. Sample sizes, whether “travel size” deluxe samples or actual sachets, are your friend. Above you can see that I have a few of those. Tbh, normally what I try to do is wash my hair before I go and when I get back but this is a three-night trip and that’s probably just a smidge too long or at least it’s a risk of being too long, especially as I’m getting my hair cut on Wednesday and I won’t want to wash it on Thursday night. You can get the little sample pots from places like Amazon – I think I got a 10 pack of the little containers you see above that I have moisturizer and makeup remover oil in for $6. Don’t try to fill these up. Just squidge out enough to use for the trip. The rest is just wasted as it’ll go crusty after awhile anyway.  Anyway this is just the basics, onto the good stuff.

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Another little container of primer here (just a small amount, remember!). Well, ok, there’s three primers but I’m kind of a primer nerd. I like to use different ones in different places. Recently when Sephora had a little cute sample kit of NARS product as a coupon code I snatched it up. I love the NARS Light Optimizing primer and we all know how I feel about the eyeshadow primer. So those both came out of the box and went straight into the bag. I had to fight myself to leave the Urban Decay setting spray out and put in the teeny sample of the Skindinavian one!

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Base & Face

A little (refilled) pot of the original sample I got of my favorite long-wear foundation, plus a little squidge of a light coverage daytime foundation for Saturday. My number 1 concealer, a setting powder that’s super flat (god I love that packaging), sample size bronzer and my beloved NARS Deep Throat blush (MASSIVE thanks to my lovely friend Megan who got this as a sample size and sent it to me!). I have a sample size of Orgasm but I just don’t like it as much, tbh.

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Eyes

I chose the Revealed3 palette here because it’s light and flat, but I’ve since applied it as eyeshadow and it is pretty bad so I’m not going to take it. I’ll probably take my Stila Eyes are the Window palette even though it’s heavier. I jumped straight on a large deluxe sample coupon code with Sephora recently because it contained a tiny mini of my ride-or-die liquid liner, the Kat von D Tattoo Liner in “Trooper” as well as a mascara that I know my friend Mem loves, and therefore must be fab. I never pay for high-end mascara but I love getting deluxe samples of it! My trusty MAC Paint Pot in Painterly and Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze and I’m good to go. See how good I’m being?! lol.

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Brows

One crayon (mini size, thanks Ipsy!), one pomade, one sample size powder. Hooooboy that was hard but it’s ok you guys I got this. Pshhwwww.

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Lips

Ok this is where I fell down a little, I’ll admit it. I probably have too much. But I can’t help it. Lips are my thing! One red (with matching liner), one pink, one nude and a primer. I may add more. I’m not gonna lie to you guys, I swore I’d never do that. Speaking of which…

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Brushes

I tried. I really did. But I need all o’ these. I can’t do the multi-use thing. It squicks me out. My one concession was blush and bronzer with the same brush, but that’s because I don’t wear tonnes of either. In fact I’m pretty impressed that I am only taking one foundation brush. Maybe I need another one. NO, STOP THIS… okay okay pshhwww ok I’m good.

What have I missed, do you think? Hair stuff is easy, I’ve got some texture spray and that’s pretty much all I ever use if I’m honest. I also have a little package of cotton pads, q-tips and a mini nail file plus some bobby pins and hair bands. Boring stuff.

So let’s summarize:

  • Store up your samples that you get from things like beauty boxes and online orders. I have two sample boxes – one for stuff to give away and one for things I want to eventually use. I raided that.
  • If you see a gift with purchase or coupon code etc with a sample or travel size of a product that you KNOW you will use, get it. They’re so handy, and it means you can leave them in the travel bag rather than unpacking every single thing and returning it to your stash.
  • If you’re decanting into smaller containers, just take a little at a time so it doesn’t get all gunky when you don’t use it all. So wasteful! You can always refill it for next time.
  • Just take things you are pretty sure you’ll use. I thought about taking my Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette and my Kat von D Shade & Light palette but I’m still learning how to use them so I’m not going to bother – I know traveling is not the time for this nor is a wedding. End of story!

I’d love to hear if you guys have tips, tricks and pointers for me for makeup travel. After this I’m not sure we’ll be going anywhere until Chicago so that’s a long time to think about what I’ve done.

EDIT: I did a test pack of putting the stuff in the bags and it turned out GREAT, the bags are full enough but not overstuffed. OBSERVE:

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Happy Sunday/Monday, lovers.

Love++
F&V