Style: New Vanity Pieces (Getting Back in the Game)

Recently I was feeling really overwhelmed and just not in the groove with makeup. Overwhelmed because my life was busy I guess, and being out of the groove because I didn’t have room in my life for makeup. Unfortunately that is a good signal that I was ignoring some important self care, so after a decent wake up call I decided to try to do a little revamp of my makeup area to get myself back on track.

First up, I bought a new lamp. One of my main reasons for not doing my makeup in the last few months has been that the light in my corner of the room is bad. I was lighting the area with some string-lights around the mirror, but it just wasn’t enough. In the summer, the outside light coming in through a nearby window really helped but since I feel like I live in perpetual darkness at the moment (especially in December, peak not-doing-makeup time) that hasn’t been helping at all.

I decided to pull the trigger on a lamp that had been in my Amazon wishlist for awhile. It’s the LAMPAT Dimmable LED Desk Lamp.

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This was decidedly hard to get a good picture of, sorry!

It has four different modes, which consist of different color “temperatures” – cool white, warm white, cool yellow and warm yellow (though the description refers to activities such as studying, reading, relaxing etc). I thought it would be perfect for makeup. It also has a USB charging point which is cool. When it arrived, I was impressed by its appearance, BUT! I realized that the upper “arm” of the lamp that contains the lights wasn’t able to be moved any lower. I thought it would, for some reason, and that’s kind of a pain because the light now comes from a little too high. It was disappointing but when I turned the light on and used it, I realized that it actually didn’t matter because the quality of the light is awesome and really projects well. Being able to sit the base of it a little lower would be ideal, but you can’t always have what you want. So apart from having to sit at an angle to get the light on my face, it’s great! I’m hoping at the next place we move, I’ll be able to have my vanity in front of a window or something super luxurious like that! Baller.

The following weekend I went on a rather delightful trip to the next town north of us with a friend. I had an eyebrow wax and a hair blowout and we also decided to explore the INSANELY overpriced but nevertheless adorable antique store next door to the hair salon. I grabbed a couple of zinc trays that caught my eye last time I was there.

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Featuring my Sephora birthday gift – Marc Jacobs mini eyeliner & lipstick

I didn’t buy them then and regretted it so I didn’t let them pass me by this time. I like the way they look and they’re perfect for blog pictures, don’t you think?

That same day my friend and I indulged our TJ Maxx habit. I was looking for a shallow tray, box or something similar to act as a catch-all for my vanity. One reason I think it gets untidy is that I’m kinda bad at putting things back where they are meant to go. The theory behind the catch-all is that when I’m done with a product or brush I toss it in there. That hasn’t really come into fruition; since I tidied up I’ve been putting things away better. But the catch-all I bought is the perfect size for my Sharpies (my Passion Planner is very colorful this year, ok?) and my insane box of samples that I’m trying to get through.

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I know, I know. I have a problem. Someone stop me NO DON’T..

So that’s what I used it for, and it’s actually great, it’s keeping the samples in my line of vision.

An older but still new piece (bought from TJ Maxx before Christmas) is this lipstick holder.

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So satisfying to look at. Sooooo satisfying…

I like this for similar reasons to above – it keeps my lipstick collection (well, about half of it I guess) in my line of sight so I don’t just go for the same colors all the time. That’s the theory, anyway! It’s working well so far.

The final piece is probably my favorite. I wasn’t looking for new brush holders, but when I saw this I fell in love.

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Lids included in pic but sadly stored in a drawer most of the time!

Unfortunately, the only brush types that would fit in the little spaces in the lids were eye brushes, but that’s ok, I just removed the lids from the other jars. I love this aesthetic. It also forced me to reduce my displayed brush collection (the secondary / less used brushes went into a drawer), a sorely needed exercise.

Here’s the whole thing put together:

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Featuring my annoyingly-underused Passion Planner!

I think it’s looking ok. Hopefully when we move I’ll have a better arrangement, light-wise. But the good news is that it really has revitalized my makeup applying game. I’m back! And I have a few products to talk about and review for you guys, so stay tuned.

Love++
F&V

Review: Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Liner

If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you might remember this post in which I compared MAC’s Fluidline gel liner in Blacktrack with a drugstore gel liner from Maybelline. It didn’t really work out so well. I haven’t bothered with drugstore liners since then. But to be honest, I don’t really think Blacktrack is that great either, even though people seem to swear by it.

Recently I started looking into what gel liners my favorite bloggers were loving, and the main one that kept popping up again and again was the Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner in Jet Black. I decided to pick it up from Sephora, just in case I hated it so I could return it.

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I took it for a trial run on Tuesday just passed. Tuesdays are pretty long days for me in terms of makeup-wear. I get ready for work around 9am, work 11am – 7pm then I have trivia which usually ends around 10-1030pm. So that is more than 12 hours of makeup wear.

But first – application. I’m not gonna lie; I was impressed with this product from first swipe. I picked up a tiny amount on my Real Techniques Bold Metals 202 Angled Liner Brush and carefully made my first line, following the lower outer lashline in an angled flick. I gasped. It was black, it was dark, it was sharp, it was opaque… ok ok let’s not get too excited. I did the other side, same thing. I made a line nice and close to my lashes along my upper lashline.. still dark black. Not too messy.

Here’s a two-swipe swatch:

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The edges look messy, but I wasn’t as careful as I would be if I was doing it on my eyelid.

This is a comparison of MAC’s Blacktrack (top) and the BB liner:

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The BB is blacker and more opaque. I also noticed while doing these swatches that it was more liquidy, and therefore harder to keep neat and clean.

Ok so, I know what you want to know. How did it look, and how long did it last?

Here’s a pic of my wingy liner look from that day, about 1 hour post application (I was about to leave for work, hence the scrubs):

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When I got home from trivia, I looked at my liner in the mirror. My eyelids were very oily which usually means that my liner is a mess. They were so oily that I could see a dome shaped hole in my lid makeup (which was just some concealer), literally eyelid shaped. But what happened to my liner? Absolutely nothing. Even Ray noticed. Even my friend who was, self-admittedly, 2 wines-on-an-empty-stomach down noticed.

Bottom line, I’m SO impressed with this eyeliner. The MAC liner is getting backburnered, or binned (KonMari style, thanks for your service, Blacktrack). I get the hype. 5 out of 5 stars. You can pick it up for $26 from Sephora, and I recommend you do. You won’t regret it!

Thanks for reading!

F&V

How Really NOT To: Babby’s First Z-Palette

So, I decided to buy a Z-Palette in the Sephora sale. I don’t have very many de-pottable shadows, but I’m probably going to grab some Makeup Geek ones soon and they need a palette to go in. So I picked up this saucy little number on the last day of the sale (along with a much-awaited shade from the Kat von D Everlasting Liquid Lips range – Nosferatu!).

When it arrived, I grabbed some eyeshadows that I could de-pot and confidently set to work. First up, I grabbed “Wedge” by MAC and stuck the spatula that comes with the palette into the side of the container between the metal pan and the plastic. Then, I tried to pry it up. Hmmm. This seems.. weirdly difficult..

Of course, I cracked the eyeshadow. In fact, I made a mess of it. Oops. Eventually I tried the straightening iron method – put the plastic case of the eyeshadow on the plate of the iron and let it get warm. It kinda worked. But I needed more meltage.

… Wait I’m meant to put some foil on the plate? Ok. That makes sense. Melted plastic on my GHDs wouldn’t be good.

Ok that’s better. I pried the palette out finally, then used an alcohol swab to clean the glue from the bottom of the pan. The pan isn’t magnetic of course. Typical. I added one of the little sticky magnetic plates, put it in the palette and I was done.

Next I had an Urban Decay eyeshadow (Half Baked, one of my favorite eyeshadows OF LIFE). It was initially easy, because the pan just pops out of the main container, but NOOOooo, the part that pops out is still in a plastic thing aaaargh okay okay I’ll just do the same thing I did before.

The bottom of the plastic actually got a little bit melted itself which was good, because I needed to use a pin to push the metal palette up out of the thing. It eventually happened but it was REALLY DIFFICULT and once again the eyeshadow got a little messed up. I just re-set it with alcohol though. Sigh

The final eyeshadow was a Sephora one. I opened the container and wow, a little divot right next to the edge of the pan, PERFECTLY SIZED for putting my spatula into! No glue! So easy! Oh and it’s magnetic! YAYYY ok this was great and fine, and took about 15 seconds total. THANK YOU SEPHORA!

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The final verdict? Not really worth it. I’ll only use this in the future if I don’t have to de-pot, ie for shadows that come in pans already. Hmph.

Love+++
F&V

Haul at Halloween: MAC, Sephora, CVS + Wedding Anniversary!

I can’t really call it a Halloween Haul, because none of the products are spooky. Sorry.

I was in Burlington, Vermont last week for a work training event. This was exciting because I got to visit some stores I don’t have ready access to most of the time – namely MAC and, to a lesser extent, Sephora. There is one of those in my parents-in-law’s town, but the one in Burlington is bigger and the staff have historically been better and nicer to me.

At MAC, I had a look at their current seasonal gift range and felt decidedly uninspired. I had however had my eye on one of the Paint Pots in “Groundwork”.

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As you can see, it’s a really nice neutral brown. It’s a tiny bit warm but not too warm, kind of a taupey-brown, and totally devoid of shimmer so it’s perfect for toned-down winter workdays where you just want to swipe on some long-lasting eyeshadow and stumble out the door into the cold. This is my fourth Paint Pot and they’ve all impressed me so far. I’m sure Groundwork won’t let me down.

You can get it from MAC for $22 in the USA or Australia for $35.

Next up I shuffled off to Sephora and grabbed one of the Kat von D Everlasting Liquid Lipsticks that I’ve been pondering over for awhile (this purchase thanks to a long and in-depth conversation about this product and its many beautiful shades with my bestie Mem) – Bauhau5.

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It’s kind of a deep berry-pink tone. I have not yet put it onto my lips but when I do, I assure you I will post on instagram (you can find me there @freedomandvanity) because I really feel like I’m going to love it, like I love all of its siblings (some of them are boys, you see, like Echo). As I have stated many times, you can grab these from the Sephora US site for $22 and maybe even the Australian site by the time this goes up but I don’t really want to talk about the crapshow that the Australian Sephora site launch has been, tbh. If you’re in Australia and you have a choice, please go with Mecca Cosmetica they’re just so much better. Sadly, KvD is Sephora only.

I picked up one of my favorite brow products, the Anastasia Beverly Hills DipBrow. Before, I had it in the shade “medium brown”. It has occurred to me recently that this is actually too warm for my brows, it’s got a reddish tinge to it that looks a little strange at close examination, so I decided to grab “ash brown”.

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I think it’s going to be much better even just at first glance.  I’ll keep you updated, fair readers. ABH is available at quite a few places, but I get it from Sephora for $18 in the USA and in Australia you can get it from AdoreBeauty for $39 and from a couple of other places too, but the shades are a little different which is confusing. Ok ok I caved and went to Sephora.com.au, and they have it for $30 with all the right shades YOU WIN THIS ROUND, SEPHORA AUSTRALIA.

I’ve been vacillating about buying some of the Ceramidin products from Dr Jart+ (my latest skincare love) for awhile now, because in winter my skin entirely forgets how to hold moisture and ceramides are great for holding moisture in the skin longer than other moisturizing ingredients, and creates a protective barrier. I saw this nifty little sample kit of the liquid (serum) and cream moisturizing products so I grabbed it, it was the last one.

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So far I really like both these products, they’re light enough to absorb rapidly, but not so much that I feel like it all disappears and I have to reapply. Strangely, I can’t find this pack on the Sephora site anymore but you can get these products for $39 and $48 respectively. Check Sephora.com.au for these as well.

I also grabbed a sample of the Dr Jart+ Water Fuse Water-Max Sleeping mask and so far I freakin’ LOVE IT you guys. It’s probably the thing that I’m most excited about. But it’s relatively pricey at nearly  $50. Eep! Still, it feels so nice, I think I’m going to grab it. Sleeping Masks have always been a bit mysterious to me, but having tried this one, it feels different to a normal moisturizer because some of the product appears to stay on the skin. It absorbs overnight though, leaving my skin super soft and not greasy. Hooray!

I popped into CVS as well and picked up a CoverGirl Outlast nail polish from the Star Wars range. It’s a kind of greige color – grey/beige/taupe. The name is “Speed of Light”.

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I think it set me back around $6-7, you can get it from any number of places that sell CoverGirl.

I read recently on Lily Pebbles’ blog that Maybelline had released a new creamy matte range. I couldn’t find that exact range but I found something where the shade names matched, in a matte formulation, so I picked up “Siren in Scarlet”.

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Does that look like a “me” color or what? I’m gonna wear it tonight (pub trivia), keep an eye out on my instagram.

It was my first wedding anniversary recently and my amazing husband got me two very coveted Charlotte Tilbury products – Filmstar Bronze & Glow and the Lip Cheat in Pillow Talk. First of all can we talk about the amazing packaging?!

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So luxe! And on the inside of the palette, we have a lovely cool-toned bronzer/contour shade and a very finely milled highlight.

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It’s hard to even use them to be honest, they’re so nice. But I’m going to anyway. Best husband ever!

So that’s my latest … acquisitions.. I’m sorry I don’t have many pictures of me wearing them! I honestly haven’t been wearing much makeup lately, I’ve been really busy and prioritizing sleep over makeup application. Heh!

Thanks for reading!

Love+++
F&V

Product Focus: Maybelline Color Tattoo 24 Hour Cream Eyeshadows

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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No-Makeup Makeup – For When You Seriously CBF

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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And the comparison:

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

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

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

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

Love+++
F&V

Portable Makeup: What Do You Need in Your Bag?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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So it has just the absolute essentials (IMO).

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

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

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

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

Love+++
F&V

September Favorites

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ok bye lovers!

Love+++
F&V

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

Love++
F&V

Facial Sprays: Prep, Prime, Hydrate and Refresh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love++
F&V