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!


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!


Is it a Dupe? Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge v. Beauty Blender

I haven’t done one of these in awhile so I thought I’d compare these two products, since I very recently caved and bought a Beauty Blender for the first time.

Beauty Blenders are pretty famous cult foundation and concealer application items and I’m not sure why I held out for so long, but it’s over now and I have one. I thought I’d do one half of my face with each one to see what I thought.

I’ve had one of the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponges (ugh god that’s a mouthful I’m dropping the Miracle) for awhile now, not that I use it super often, I just find that brushes are so much faster it’s hard to justify fussing around with a sponge. Here are the two products side by side, in their totally dry state:

2015-08-19 13.41.27 HDROrange: RT Complexion Sponge; Pink: Beauty Blender

To use them both you need to soak them, really thoroughly, with cold water. I do this under running water from the tap, squeezing and expanding them til they’re fully soaked then I squeeze all the water out and press between a towel to really make sure there’s no excess water.

When they’re dry, the BB does feel a little bit more firm to me. But when I wet them, I really couldn’t tell a difference. I tried really hard – I held them both up and closed my eyes and squeezed many times like some insane swami. I really couldn’t tell a difference.

Let’s get started. Here’s my no-makeup-just-moisturizer face.

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Hormonal pigmentation at its finest

I used one of my favorite liquid foundations, the YSL Fusion Ink foundation. I despise the applicator on this bottle (it is basically a stick?) so I poured some out onto my palette (ie the inner lid part of a Mason jar).

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First up I did the right side of my face with the RT sponge. I dabbed a little of the product on my face in key areas first. For both these products it’s best to use a patting, dabbing, pressing motion. Daubing? Is that a thing? Idk. This gives the best result in terms of a flawless finish. I used the flat section for the larger parts of my face like my cheeks, and the pointy bit for nearer my eyes and each side of my nose, and the rounder side for my temples and jawline (on the jawline I used a little more of a gentle, short swiping motion to bring the foundation down my neck a little bit).

2015-08-19 14.31.51Pretty good coverage IMO!

I forgot to take a pic of that side with no makeup, sorry. But here’s the left side without makeup:

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Here’s a “during” shot of using the beauty blender on the left side:

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Why do I have a Justin Bieber expression on my face?

So you can see that I’ve dabbed a little foundation on my face first and I’m pressing it against my skin in quick motions to blend it out. If you have a foundation that dries fast you will need to do this in sections.

Here’s the left side done:

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Also pretty amazing coverage – it’s hard to say which is best but if I had to make a call, I’d say the side with the beauty blender. I will say though, that I found the beauty blender a little slower on the blending. It took me a little longer. I’m wondering if that’s because the surface area touching your skin is a little smaller with the BB? I’m not sure, but it’s super negligible and I wouldn’t even consider it a problem it’s just something to note.

So here’s the side by side of just foundation done:

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And here’s the finished face makeup + brows:

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My conclusive thoughts are that these are both really excellent products. There is one major difference though, and that’s the price. In the USA you can get both these from a bunch of places (for example from Sephora) but it retails for $20 so it’s up there in price. I have heard too that with frequent washing (which you should ABSOLUTELY DO by the way – every time you use it, it’s a wet sponge and it can harbour nasties!) it starts to come apart but that might be a result of washing too vigorously. It also fades and the color runs but meh, no biggie. The RT complexion sponge you can get for $6 (from official site). Less even on places like So the price difference is enormous and I’m not 100% sure that the BB is worth the extra $14.

In Australia you can find the BB at CrushCosmetics for $27, and the RT Complexion Sponge at Priceline for $16.99 if you can’t wait for shipping, or on for $8.20 (in fact you can get the two-pack on iHerb for less than the cost of one at Priceline. iHerb owns). So the price difference is ridiculous. Based on that alone I will probably repurchase the RT sponge and not the BB. It’s not that great!

A note on washing: use something like baby shampoo or I know some swear by Dr Bronners Castille soap bars (I’m going to get some today!) as a dupe for the official beautyblender cleansing bar. You want something thoroughly clarifying, I’m not sure face wash would do the job. Wet, damp environments attract bacteria so make sure you do this every time you use it – wash it under a warm tap, adding a little cleanser when it gets squeezed out until the water goes clear. This goes for both products.

So is it a dupe? I think yes. They’re almost identical. A more sophisticated user may think differently but for me they’re basically the same and the price point makes the RT sponge the clear winner.

I hope you enjoyed this! Let me know if I should do more things like this in the future.


Makeup Startup, How To & Mini Product Review: the Eyebrow Post

Hello and welcome to a bit of a mashup post! Speaking of mashups, this post is brought to you today by the most excellent mashup album I have EVER heard, Isosine’s Mashup Manifesto IV which you can find HERE on BandCamp. It has been blowing my mind all day. Ed Sheeran v Sia? Fallout Boy v Taylor Swift? Come ON! Anyway, let’s talk about eyebrows.

I’m actually a pretty new brow-lover. I ignored them for a long time. I didn’t really think anything needed to be done apart from making sure they were waxed regularly. Then I started filling them and my whole world changed!

I will admit, I don’t really like the whole “instagram brows” trend. If you don’t know what that is, you can google it and you’ll see a lot of SHARP, perfect, sculpted brows with very straight edges and the inner part of the brow slightly faded out. Not only do I Not Have Time Fo Dat, I just don’t like how it looks on anyone let alone on me. That’s not to say that if you like it, you shouldn’t wear it – you know my deal, wear what makes you happy! I just can’t get into it. I like a strong, full, dark but still natural brow. So that’s my little disclaimer, let’s get on with it.

I gathered together my brow stuff thinking I’d just have a couple of things to photograph and then uhhhhhhhhhhhhh

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I have no idea how this happened. NO REGRETS

Anyway, I am not going to talk about all these things today. I thought I’d pick just a few things to run through.

Here’s my face makeup for the day, products and result. I went mostly high end here, but the brows lean more towards drugstore.

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The above photo contains my totally untouched brows. All I’ve done is run a wet q-tip through them to make sure they don’t have any foundation left in them. They’re not bad really – they don’t need heaps of work. Of course, the left one is way more of a mess than the right one – don’t we all have one naughty brow and one good?

Let’s talk about how I make the magic happen. First of all, a good brow brush. My absolute ride-or-die brow brush is the Anastasia Brow Brush. It has a great spoolie on one end and a sharp, fine, angled brush on the other end. You can see it near the tweezers in the picture. The other brow brush I got in a BoxyCharm box and it’s kind of garbage, the brow brush end is too “fluffy” make it really not exact at all but I might use it for travel or something (tossing things out is hard okay?). I always give my brows a good brush through with a spoolie before I do anything to them, and I strongly recommend this for everyone as a first step.

For the purposes of the review section of this post, I decided I would do one picture with JUST the two products I bought yesterday at CVS. They’re both “mascara wand” type brow products that promise to fill and define brows. They looked pretty similar to me but in saying that I couldn’t see the wands through the packaging. I bought the Rimmel Brow This Way brow styling gel in dark brown and the L’Oreal Brow Stylist Plumper in medium brown.

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The first thing I noticed when I started carefully brushing the Rimmel one through my brows is that the wand was a smidge too big to be useful for me, and the product was .. well there was a lot of it. It was a bit gloopy. I got a bit blorp of it right where I didn’t want it and it was just kind of a mess and took a lot of cleaning up. The color however was very good, nice and dark and not too warm (amirite, brunette girls? Why is everything for us so warm/orange?!). I did a bit of a cleanup (but not TOO much, I wanted this to be an honest image) and moved on.

Now, the next product was .. well.. look, I just really love it. The wand is tiny, and enables much more precision. The color is a little tiny bit lighter, but not by much, and it’s no warmer than the other one. Observe:

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I really must moisturize more often. D:

The top is the Rimmel, and you can see even in this picture how gloopy and “too much” it is. When I wiped this off, I noticed how even the staying power of the L’Oreal was better – it was harder to wipe off. The L’Oreal really is just a winner in every single way. It’s so much easier to use and still gives a great effect. Here’s the comparison pic.

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L: Rimmel; R: L’Oreal

So as you can see, the brow on (your) left is a mess. There’s stuff all over the place. The right is neater. HOWEVER! I still feel like, for me, these products aren’t quite enough by themselves. So I decided to wipe and start again, using one of my latest absolute LOVES, the IT Cosmetics Brow Power eyebrow pencil in “Universal Taupe”. They really mean it. Taupe is not a color I’d ever go for but it is actually perfect and I love it. This is a mini version that I got in an Ipsy bag and you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be buying the full size when this one runs out. It is $24 so a little pricier than the other things in this post but well worth it IMO.

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In order to use this I just give another brush through with the spoolie end and then use the other end to fill in my brows. To do that I just use short, light strokes to make sure any more sparse areas are filled in and that my brows have a more defined shape. The tail ends of my brows don’t really trail to a point so I don’t do too much there, I just run over them quickly. This is actually weirdly hard to explain and I really recommend just playing with your technique to see what works for you! Speaking of which: if you’re new to filling in your brows you might find that the look is TOO strong. Trust me – it’s not. Just let your eyes get used to your face with stronger brows. It takes time. Take a picture and see what you think – guaranteed you’ll be like “oh yes that is actually great” or you might even think they need more filling in. Anyway here’s my brows just filled in with this product:

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P good IMO! After this I would pretty often use a clear brow gel to set them, something like the very cheap Ardell clear brow gel that I got from Priceline and pretty much swear by, or for a bit of extra color maybe the Maybelline Brow Drama which I really like. But now even that has been surpassed! The weird ball end of that wand has always been a bit strange to me, and the amazing little mini wand on the L’Oreal Brow Stylist Plumper has taken its place in the pack. Here’s my brows after a quick brush through on top of the crayon:

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I pretty much love this product and strongly recommend grabbing it. It’s about $9 in the USA from any drugstore or Ulta, and hopefully also available in the usual places in Australia.

The stars of the show:

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And here, have a bonus very-good-light pic with a lil bit of contour added for funsies (and practice):

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Loving myself sick, and I hope you are too on this fine Sunday/Monday.

Some more mini reviews coming soon – as always please let me know if there’s stuff you want me to ramble on about!


How To: Lipstick Application Tricks and Techniques

Lipstick! If you follow me on instagram or anything like that you’ll know that I frickin love lipstick. I LOVE IT. I wear it all the time, mostly pinks and reds but I’m starting to learn to love berry/purpleish shades as well.

Admittedly, I’ve always just kinda had a knack for putting on lipstick. I remember someone saying that to me when I was in my early 20s. “How come you always put lipstick on so fast and it turns out perfect?” I don’t know. I didn’t realise that until then. Honestly, I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I have large lips: I have a greater margin for error.

Today I’m going to talk about a few different things. Lipliner, lipstick, liquid lipstick and lip crayons. I’m not going to go into too much detail on each product because I already did that in the lip series.

Before I put on any kind of lipstick I always make sure my lips are really well moisturized. Especially if you’re going to wear a long-wear lipstick, this is really important unless you want to be super uncomfortable pretty fast. I use good old Lanolips, or any ChapStick balm etc – whatever you want. I usually put that on at the beginning of my makeup application so it has time to absorb. There’s also a lot of lip primers you can get, I use the MAC one and I’m not really sure that it makes any difference but I use it anyway. It’s kind of a silicone-y feeling product, it’s possible that it fills in lines so that the lipstick can smooth over the top but I’m really not sure. Anyway it’s not important. Just make sure your lips are exfoliated (use a q-tip with some lip balm, or a fancy lip scrub, or some sugar and olive oil if you want) and hydrated.

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Pls do not judge me for not putting anything but foundation and concealer on. I’m not even sorry.

First up let’s talk about lipliner. If you want a really long lasting application I strongly recommend using lipliner. It gives a good foundation for your application and can really help you to create a perfectly defined outer line. However, I think it’s best to colour in the entire lip and not just the outline.

For lipliner, I really feel like you can’t go past MAC. I have used MAC Cherry for my red lipsticks for years. It’s a great all-rounder.

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I always start with my cupid’s bow when I do my lip line. It’s the hardest part, IMO, so you want to do it when the pencil is at its sharpest (I always sharpen my lipliners before I use them, I know it’s wasteful but it makes a huge difference). I like to make a semi-smile and trace the edges carefully. You don’t want to smile so hard that your lips stretch out – this can result in a warped line. Just enough so that the skin at the edge of your lips doesn’t catch while you draw the line.

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So that’s how I start. One great thing I learned about lipliner is that it’s not about drawing in one straight, continuous, perfect line. What are you, superhuman? Nobody can do that! You want to use short, careful strokes to draw a line that follows your lips. Don’t try to do it all at once. Continue this all the way around the lipline. Make sure you go into the corners, if you’re like me and your lipline really narrows in at the corners, be careful and precise in these areas – use a light hand.

2015-07-08 17.02.45So cute.

Then just use the flat side of the crayon to fill in the rest of the lip. You could use the tip but it would take you forever. Aint nobody got time for that.

2015-07-08 17.04.58All filled in. This is just lipliner. You could go out like this if you wanted!

So then we go in with our lipstick. If you want, you can apply it straight from the bullet. That’s what I do most of the time. This, unfortunately isn’t really something I can give you any help with.  It just takes practice. I use the same “smile-ish” strategy to stop my lips from pulling and tugging too much, and I always do my cupid’s bow first. Usually I’ll do my upper lip then stamp my lips together to add some color to my lower lip.

But today we’re going to talk about applying with a lip brush. Do you have to do this? No of course not, lots of people go through their whole makeup wearing lives not using a lip brush but I like it for making a super long-wearing lip. It works the color into the lip so that it really stains. It also enables you to be more precise. To do this, I take the lip brush and just get some off the bullet onto the brush.

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Then, starting at the cupid’s bow, I carefully apply the color to the lip.

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When I go into the corners, I just use the edges of the brush, or the tip of the brush to carefully add color only where it’s needed. You can open your mouth a little wider here, so you can see better. The key is just to be careful.

When you go along the bottom edge of the lip, I do find it better to turn the brush and go on the side. This makes it easier to drag the brush down and make a straight line. But again – feel free to use shorter strokes so you are less likely to make mistakes.

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But guess what! If you do make a mistake you can fix it super easily. Just grab a q-tip with a little makeup remover (I like micellar water for this task) and run it along the lipline where the issue is. While you’re running it along the lipline, slowly turn it as well so that you’re not rubbing the lipstick everywhere. Don’t ever use the same end of a q-tip twice. TRUST me. And you know what? Most makeup artists will tell you that they do this on almost every single client. Mistakes happen – clean up carefully and don’t make it worse if you can help it!

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Once you’ve brushed over the whole lip, it’s time to blot. Grab a tissue and fold it in half then press it lightly between your lips. Don’t press too hard or you’ll smudge everything. After that I usually do another layer of lipstick, just with the bullet to add a final layer of color opacity. Done!

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Yeah look I didn’t do a single thing with my hair but it’s not because I don’t love you, ok?

Ok so let’s move on to liquid lipsticks. These are definitely harder to apply, there is no arguing with that. They can be messy, and therefore tricky. Some people still like to use a lip brush to apply these, for the sake of precision. Feel free to do that. I don’t though, because I’m like super rebellious and stuff.

First up, again make sure your lips are hydrated. Liquid lipsticks, though the name suggests otherwise, are often very drying. This means that they’re very long lasting but they do require your lips to be in great shape.

To get started, once again I always start with the cupid’s bow.

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Then just slowly and carefully make your way around the edges.

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Now go into the corners. My strategy with liquid lipstick is to juuuuust touch the wand to the corners of my lips. Any more pressure than that causes mess. I also don’t stretch my mouth too wide open because this makes the lipstick cover more surface area than it needs to. You might need to open your mouth a little but don’t go nuts.

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Same rules apply if you make a mistake. Just clean up the edge with some makeup remover on a q-tip or on a flat definer brush like so:

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One thing I did here was deepen my cupid’s bow a little. As you can see here, I overdrew it a smidge (kinda looks like my lipline goes straight across at the top) and wanted to make sure it was well defined:

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So I just took a finger (make sure it’s clean of lipstick!), pressed it to the area of skin above my cupid’s bow and dragged it downwards towards the lip. I hope that makes sense!

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I forgot to take an after, but I did take this ridiculous shot, ENJOY!

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You can add another layer on top of this if you want but I sometimes find that makes things too chunky and thick. By the way, for this I used Kat von D’s Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in “Outlaw”.

Next I want to talk about lip crayons. These generally have a little less color payoff but they are very easy to use. Kinda like a giant lip liner! So they’re a 2-in1. My favourite ones are the NARS Lip Pencils. Today I used Dragon Girl which is a Velvet Matte lip pencil.

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Again let’s make sure it’s nice and sharp before we start, and our lips are nice and hydrated. Now just use the tip of the crayon to go around the edges of the lips then use the flat of the crayon to color in the lips. Build it up until you get the level of color you want.

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What’s that? Oh why yes, it is incredibly intimidating to post close-ups of your less-than-perfect skin. Thanks for asking! Anyway, shit’s gotta get done right?

Et voila!

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So those are main techniques I use. Another thing I want to mention is a great technique I use when I really just want a very light wash of color. Basically you just want to get a little lipstick on your finger, straight from the bullet is fine, and “pat” it into the lips. You can build this up into quite a deep stain if you want, but I usually wear it quite sheer.

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You can wear it just like that:

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Or you can add a gloss if that’s your thing:

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Some other tidbits: the suck your finger thing. That’s to remove lipstick that might be on the inside area of your lips and could transfer to your teeth. I don’t bother with it, but if you find that your lips are shaped such that you get lipstick on your teeth, feel free to do that before you finish up your lipstick. Just try to only touch the inside of your lips to your finger and not your whole lips or you’ll ruin your hard work! Do you have to powder your lipstick? No, and honestly I wouldn’t, you’re just adding product which can make your lipstick really chunky.

Remember, the bottom line is that everyone’s lip shape is different. You learn about your own by practicing. I’m sorry! I wish I had the perfect-lipstick-every-time answers but I don’t.

I really hope that answers some questions about lip products.

Skincare Overhaul: Being an Adult is Hard.

Specifically, being an acne-having adult is hard!

Lately, I’ve been going through a real upheaval with my skin. When I moved to the USA, it was really cold (for me, anyway) and my skin dried out and broke out. For some reason that happens. I don’t know. Anyway, I got that under control with some Tarte Maracuja oil and the Hada Labo skin plumping gel creme and things settled for awhile, at least to the “normal” level which for me is 1-2 active pimples at all times, and during hormonal times I get some huge, cystic, painful ones. That’s kind of my “norm”. Every night I’d get a little dab of my trusty Malin + Goetz or Kate Somerville acne treatment out and hope by the morning they’d be gone. Sometimes they were (or reduced anyway), sometimes they weren’t.

Here’s the thing though. I had a relatively complex routine, full of products that were probably doing too much to my skin. I wasn’t scrubbing at it but I was probably still overexfoliating, meaning that my skin wasn’t getting a chance to repair its own barrier. Here’s what I was doing:

Yes to Grapefruit “brightening” face wipes (what was I THINKING?!)
REN ClariMatte Clarifying Toner
Sunday Riley Good Genes treatment
REN ClariMatte gel-cream moisturiser
[primer, makeup if wearing]

Nude Skincare Perfect Skin Cleansing Jelly (to remove makeup, removed with a washcloth)
Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip cleanser to remove remnants of above
Paula’s Choice BHA liquid
Sunday Riley Artemis Oil
REN Bio-retinoid Anti-Ageing cream
Kate Somerville Acne Treatment (dotted onto active blemishes)

I’ve definitely seen more complex routines of course, but the problem here was that I was doing all these things every day. Something had to change.

The turning point (albeit a slow turn, I mean this was like a frickin’ aircraft carrier trying to do a 180 I’m telling you guys) came when I started taking Biotin a few weeks ago. I heard it could do amazing things for my hair, skin and nails so I gave it a go, at a fairly low dose. I broke out basically immediately, which I knew was a risk. The breakout was awful! Painful cystic pimples and quite a lot of them – at the worst point I had 5. They wouldn’t go away, even after I stopped taking it (though they did stop appearing in such a bad form at that point).

I redoubled my efforts to get rid of the pimples. Of course, that just made them worse. My face was sore and everything was terrible. It lasted for quite a long time.

I had a huge whinge online to some of my like-minded (makeup/beauty obsessed friends) and they made some excellent suggestions. The first was about a service called PocketDerm which is available in the USA. Basically it’s an online dermatologist for acne sufferers (and anti-ageing needs), you pay $20 a month, upload some photographs and information about your skin needs and a dermatologist creates a special cream with active prescription ingredients based on your needs. You also get an online “consult” with the derm (like emails) and the $20 includes shipping the product every 90 days.

To be honest, it seemed a little too good to be true. All the testimonials on the site were, of course, glowing, so I did my own research. I was at first put off by how many people seemed to have referral codes (and therefore perhaps had less than trustworthy opinions) but I then realised that if you sign up, no matter who you are, you get a code to refer people. They get a free month, and you get $10 off. Sweet! There were pros and cons, the reviews seemed objective and fair but still mostly very positive. I also discovered that there appears to be a very low number of people who DON’T continue the service after their one free month. This was encouraging! I signed up after discussing it with my husband (turns out we can use his HSA towards it!) and within about 14 hours (ie, early the next morning) the doctor had made up my prescription and sent me a very personalized, informative email about my prescription and my skin. It was AWESOME. It was shipped out a few hours later. Unbelievably fast turnaround. My doctor also called in a prescription for spironolactone, which is an anti-androgen hormone drug that is used to lower blood pressure (it’s a mild diuretic) but is also wonderful for acne treatment – he described it as ‘turning off the tap’ of oil production. I picked it up from CVS that day and started taking it immediately.

In the meantime as I waited for my prescription cream, I overhauled my skincare collection, again on the advice of my dollies. I started going through my collection and checking products on CosDNA for irritants and comedogenics (pore blockers basically) and I was absolutely astounded at what I found. Lots of products from “trusted” brands (turns out that more $ doesn’t necessarily mean better for my skin! Who knew!) had ingredients in them that, while helpful for others, were not a good idea for me. So I put those aside in a box marked “irritants”. I am not going to tell you that my skin sorted itself out overnight. But things did start to calm themselves down. A little.

I got rid of the towel-material cloths I’d been using to remove my makeup and had my lovely mother-in-law make me up some muslin cloth wipes. Muslin cloth here isn’t so much cheesecloth as it is a very soft, unbleached loose-weave brushed cotton. They’re so nice. My MIL sewed them into a double layer and stitched diagonal lines to keep the sides together. They’re perfect. I also had her make me up some super luxe 4-thickness ones!


I stopped using Good Genes every day. The good news about this is that it’ll make this exorbitantly priced product last a little longer. I don’t feel that my skin is worse off without it – in fact it’s probably better off, every day was too much I feel. I am now just using it when I feel like I need it.

I switched the BHA out for an AHA – just to see what would happen. AHAs are meant to be better for dry skin, BHAs for oily/combo skin but wouldn’t you know it, the AHA felt really nice on my skin and definitely calmed down some redness.

About this time, my prescription arrived.


By this time, the spironolactone was really doing its job and I felt MUCH less oily by the end of each day. It was kind of miraculous. The cream came in a really nice pump package and it smells very “normal” – no strong scent at all, and it spreads easily. 2 pumps is plenty for my whole face. It’s very comfortable, though when it sinks in it does need a little bit more moisturizing. I got a sample of the Sunday Riley Luna Oil so I’ve been using that, but I really dislike the smell and didn’t find it to be anything phenomenal in terms of changes in my skin so I won’t be purchasing that at this exact point in time.

I’m going to try adding the Artemis back in in its place, and see if I react to that. Even though it’s meant to be good for oily/combo skin, it’s possible that it was one of the things I was reacting to. I hope not, it was expensive!

As for the results? My skin looks and feels astonishingly better. I have NO, I repeat, NO, ZERO, ZILCH active pimples currently. The ones that I had are still red marks but the cream is helping with that I feel.

Who knows how much each change I made has contributed to the current state of my skin? Alls I know is, my skin is better right now, after 2 weeks of change, than it has been in a long time.

I don’t want to post progress pictures at the moment. It’s only been a couple of weeks. I’ve taken them, don’t get me wrong, but I just don’t want to post them right now.

That time will come. I promise!

So my current routine at the moment is thus:

SR Ceramic Slip cleanser
Moisturizer (trialling a couple at the moment – a Peter Thomas Roth one and a First Aid Beauty one)

Nude Skincare Perfect Skin Cleansing Jelly (removed with a warm, soft muslin cloth)
Origins Checks & Balances Frothy Face Wash (trialling, low-irritant ingredients, seems nice!)
Paula’s Choice AHA 8% Gel
PocketDerm Prescription Cream
SR Luna Oil

Stick with me here. I’m gonna keep you guys up to date don’t you worry. Whether you like it or not!Thanks for reading.


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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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!

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:

FullSizeRender_2You do not need all of these things.

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).

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.


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).

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).

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.


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).


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.

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.


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…

Thanks, Holly at Sephora in JCPenney West Lebanon!

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


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.


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.


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!

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!

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.


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.

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.


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.


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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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:

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.

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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:


  • 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.


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:

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.


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.


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.

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.


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:

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.

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.


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.

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.


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.


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!


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:

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.


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:

Before and after eyeshadow, liner and mascara application

Coming together now huh? Ok so, lips.


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.

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.

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.