Disappointing Beauty Products: Episode 1

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love++
F&V

Makeup Startup: Bronzer for Beginners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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End result:

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And a comparison:

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

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

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

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

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

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Products used:

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

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

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

Love+++
F&V

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

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

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

First, check out my beautiful cosmetics bag…

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

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

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CLEANUP DUTY

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

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

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Base & Face

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

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Eyes

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

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Brows

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

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Lips

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

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Brushes

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

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

So let’s summarize:

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

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

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

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Happy Sunday/Monday, lovers.

Love++
F&V

Think Your Tube of Gunk is All Gone? THINK AGAIN.

Sorry for the clickbaity title but guys, I have to share something with you.

The other day I noticed that my tube of NARS Pro-Prime eye primer was getting low. I would put the applicator in and not much would come out. I added it sadly to my Sephora “likes” in preparation for my next order (sadly because it’s kinda pricey). Then I was watching a video that ViviannaDoesMakeup did in which she admitted to using the breadknife to saw her tube in half and get the remainder depotted into a little travel container. I thought, hey why not, if there’s a smudge or two left that’ll save me some dough.

The tube looks like this:

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Image from Pinterest

It’s about the size of a large lip gloss tube, and to be fair it has lasted me ages and I use it every time I wear makeup (most days) so I think that’s fine.

Off I went to saw away with my breadknife (sorry, husband) and lo and behold there was HEAPS left. I filled an entire small travel container. FILLED IT. I just used the actual applicator to scoop it out and put it in the jar. LOOK.

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There’s like a year’s worth of products in there. AT LEAST. You only need a tiny bit!

I’m so happy that I can save my dollars for quite a long time, but I’m kinda cranky that such an expensive product has such garbage packaging. How many people have tossed their tube of this when it was half full?

Anyway, that’s a pro tip from me to you. Happy nearly-Friday!

Love++
F&V

New Makeup Monday: Kat von D Metal Crush Eyeshadow

A quick note on posting: lately I’ve been really slack on blog posts and I realised that one of the main reasons for that is that I always make such LONG posts. So that has to stop, I’m going to try to post short posts more regularly – I hope that’s okay! The long posts are exhausting and time consuming and anything that makes me AVOID posting on my blog can get straight in the bin.

Onto the subject at hand! You guys know I love Kat von D products. I really do. I love the products themselves (well, most of them), I love the packaging, I love the marketing and just give me everything forever. I also love bold metallic/shimmery eyeshadows so natch I was SUPER excited when I saw that the brand was releasing some!

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I went to Sephora at JCPenney and swatched them and omg I was in LOVE. I forced myself to choose ONE. I chose Synergy, a bronze/copper (closer to bronze really) because it spoke to me and because I’ve been wearing a lot of those shades recently.

I wore it to work the next day and although it creased a LITTLE bit, it’s worth noting that everything does on me. Next time I wear it, I’m going to wear a little of the Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze underneath, because that stuff is amazing and they’re basically the same color.

The shadow was SO pigmented and smooth and easy to blend, I knew I had to have another. So when I went to Sephora Albany I picked up Raw Power, a burnt red/burgundy.

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Here they are swatched together:

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I am sorry to say that I only have really too-bright sunshiney pictures of these on, that don’t do them justice! I’ll post them anyway but I promise to take more decent pictures and post them on Instagram (@freedomandvanity) this week for you guys.

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Next I’m going to pick up Thrasher, a gorgeous antique gold and Black No.1 which is a metallic dark grey/black.

If you think these sound cool, you can pick them up at Sephora for $21 and in Australia at Sephora too I would think.

Thanks for reading! As always, throw me some ideas for new posts if you like!

Love++
F&V

Drugstore Haul and Product Review: Hits & Misses

I got an email yesterday from CVS saying I had extrabucks that were about to expire. For those not familiar, you earn extrabucks when you buy things at CVS and it’s basically like a voucher. Free money?! Drugstore spree time. Wheeeeeeeeeee

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Ok so when I got home I decided to just try out the new things I have, as well as some other items I’ve obtained recently. First up I applied some TooFaced Hangover Primer and NARS eyeshadow primer, then I put some of my new Urban Decay Naked Skin foundation.

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I gave a sample of this a pretty good go before I bought it so I was already pretty happy with it. It’s not too matte, not too glowy (though the Hangover primer does make it a little more glowy) but has a satin finish. It’s a good every day medium coverage foundation. Obviously not drugstore but it’s a recent purchase and I didn’t buy any foundation today.

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All looking okay so far, let’s continue.

I had heard good things about the Maybelline Better Skin corrector/concealer from a few beauty youtubers so I grabbed it today in the shade “light”.

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I applied it under my eyes, between my brows, on some blemishes, on my chin, above my cupid’s bow and at the sides of my nose/nostril area – don’t we all get that bit of redness? I was really pleased with how easily this product blended out using the Real Techniques contour brush.

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Not bad! Ok, next up is the Maybelline Fit Me Matte+Poreless powder in 220/Natural Beige, applied with another new purchase – the Real Techniques Powder Brush. Recently it occurred to me that the RT Blush Brush is actually great for blush so I stopped using it for powder. This left a powder-brush shaped hole, so I picked this little number up today.

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Decent color match, I decided to see how it wore before I made any snap judgments. And look, the truth is, I don’t love it. I feel like my pores are actually emphasised (picture later) rather than made ‘less’ and I got shiny pretty fast. I don’t want to immediatly dismiss it though, I’m going to try it with a pore-minimising primer and see how that goes before I throw it in the trash. The brush is lovely and exactly what I wanted – soft and loose but still dense enough to pick up enough product to make a difference.

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Next I applied the deluxe sample size of Tarte’s Park Ave Princess bronzer with my ELF Complexion Brush.

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I like this brush because it is paddle shaped so it’s great for applying bronzer to the cheekbones, temples and forehead areas and for blending out as well.

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This bronzer is okay. It’s got nothing on the MAC Mineralize SkinFinish Natural so I probably won’t reach for it too often but it will be a good one to keep in my handbag or travel makeup kit.

The above photo also has my brows done with this sexy little number – the NYX Micro Brow Pencil in Ash Brown. This is a FANTASTIC dupe for the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz. GREAT product!

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Onto eyes. As mentioned earlier I already applied some primer, and this primer is tried and true. Today I bought the Rimmel ScandalEyes Eyeshadow Stick in Naughty Navy.

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I’m really into navy at the moment, even more than usual! Ok, on it goes.

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First impressions: it applies really easily, but the pigmentation isn’t great and it’s quite hard to get a smooth appearance. Also I noticed as soon as I blinked, even after letting the product dry for a good 30 seconds, it got all messed up.

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I decided to put some of my trusty L’Oreal Infallible shadow on in All Night Blue just to set the eyeshadow stick.

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Marginally better but I sorta don’t think there’s any saving this eye crayon, it’s just really bad. Glad it was cheap. Not impressed.

I picked up the Rimmel Exaggerage Full Colour Lip Liner in Obsession, a dark wine color. I already have EastEnd Snob in this product which I really love so I was keen to grab another one. The lipliner went on nicely as expected. I then applied Milani Color Statement Lipstick in Black Cherry.

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It’s pretty nice, I like that it applies nice and smoothly and doesn’t pull the lips around like some more matte lipsticks can. This isn’t matte as you can see, which is a fun change for me. But it is a smidge patchy. It requires a few coats. I found it to wear well though and it stayed comfortable so this is a winner. The slightly melon-ish smell really doesn’t do it for me but it definitely fades very quickly so that’s a bonus. This will be a great product for winter because it doesn’t dry out the lips.

In brighter light:

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So that’s the finished look. I wanted to add a closer-up photo of the eye and inner-cheek area to highlight the products I found problematic.

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Yeahhhh… not great. Check out those pores. Who were they testing the “poreless” aspect of this powder on, exactly? And what good is a “waterproof” eye crayon when it sets like this?

But the lipstick is lovely, the brow crayon ROCKS and the concealer is great too.

I also bought a set of the Sally Hansen MiracleGel polish, in Teal Twin with the top coat. I applied it and it’s nice. Is it a gel-like finish? Frick no. No, nope, not at all. It’s precisely and exactly like a normal nail polish with a shiny top coat. Meh.

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It’s fine. But it’s not gel. It’s just not!

Ok team that’s it from me today. Have a great weekend, whatever you’re doing!

Love+++
F&V

Review / How To: Urban Decay Naked Smoky Palette (+ a Word on Photography Apps)

So wow, hasn’t the internet been blowing up about this palette!? As a smoky eye lover, I was pretty excited when Urban Decay announced it.

However, I really wanted to be sensible about this rather large purchase ($54 at Sephora) so I thought about it carefully. I also wanted to swatch all the colors to see if there were any duds (I have found some UD shades to be really chalky and chunky in the past).

Last Friday I was in Burlington, VT and woke up in my hotel room with a sense of excitement. I knew today was the day. UD Naked Smoky day! I was going to see it in real life and maybe, if we were compatible, it would come home with me. Ahhhh!

Aaanyway, I looked it up online that morning and it looked like the Burlington Sephora didn’t have any in stock which was kind of horrifying but I decided to check it out anyway because I wanted to pick up some of the TooFaced Hangover Primer (which incidentally was NOT in stock). Wouldn’t you know it, when I walked in to the Sephora inside JCPenney the first thing I saw was a beautiful display piled high with light grey, beautiful boxes full of joy and happiness AHHH! Ok calm down Fran *deep breaths*

The SA asked if she could help and I said YES and asked to see the insides of the palette. She presented an open one to me like the precious treasure that it was – with reverence and deference and respectfully downcast eyes. As I swatched the shadows, I got more and more excited. They were gorgeous. Pigmented, smooth, buttery.. you know, I really never understood what that adjective meant with regards to makeup until that moment. But now I do.

Natch, I bought it. And it owns. Allow me to explain.

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So I don’t need to tell you guys about the Urban Decay Naked palette history. Everyone knows they’re the most popular “neutrals” palettes on the planet. This is actually my first one though! I had Naked Basics 2 but I never used it, I wasn’t a huge fan. But this one, I really love. Maybe that’s because I always gravitate towards a more dramatic eye look? Who knows. But anyway, let’s get to the swatchin’.

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Top to bottom: Thirteen, Combust [these are hard to see, they’re both very light], Whiskey, Password, Smolder, Black Market, Dagger, Slanted, Armor, Radar, Dirtysweet, High.

There’s a good mix of matte and shimmer shades here. Black Market is ALMOST matte, it’s got a very very light sheen to it that’s barely there. Password, Whiskey, Combust and Thirteen are all matte. The rest are shimmery. The only one that doesn’t really do it for me is High, it’s a little on the chunky side and therefore needs to be carefully worked with which isn’t really ideal for the inner corner (where I think High would be best used). The rest are just glorious and I love them all.

I have done three looks with this palette so far, I’ll talk them through one by one.

Look 1:

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For this one I laid down a base of Combust over the entire lid up to the browbone using the RT 200 brush (or any large shadow brush), then using the brush that came with the palette (the pointy end – from now on this brush will be called the NS brush) I added some of Armor to the inner corner, leaving the center of the lid bare, then with the other end of the NS brush I added Armor to the outer corner as well. I did this in a couple of layers, building up the color til I had as much pigmentation as I wanted. I also used the pointy end to wrap a little of Armor around under the lower lashline and smudged it out. I then used the blending brush end to blend Armor into Combust, but taking care not to blend too far into the center part of the lid. I then used a flat eyeshadow brush to add Dirtysweet to the center section, really laying down a decent amount of color. Back to the blending brush to blend those two colors at the edges, not completely, just so there were no harsh lines. I made sure that all the colors were nicely blended upwards and out at the outer corner. I added a little bit of Password to the outer corner, as a bit of a transition shade to make sure that Armor blended out smoothly. Then I carefully lined my upper lashline and lower lashline (leaving the center bare again) with the UD Perversion eyeliner but any black eyeliner will do just fine for this – it happens to be my favorite so that’s what I used. I again grabbed the pointy end and smudged that out, added mascara (IT Cosmetics Tightline) then I was done.

The advantage of doing this is that the center of your lid is lighter, meaning that your eyes stay more open looking especially if like me you have small, deep-set eyes. Plus it’s just a really cool effect!

Look 2:

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This one’s obviously a lot darker, and you can already see that it makes my eyes look more closed and small. I don’t really mind, it’s just something to note compared to the first look.

For this I laid down a base of black cream shadow – Maybelline Color Tattoo in Dramatic Black using my fingers and blending out with a MAC 217 just to make sure the colors really stood out and had something to stick to. I then used Password all over the lid fairly lightly then added Smolder over the top, both with the NS blending end, which is a really cool purpleish color. I then picked up some Black Market and blended that in little circles on the outer corner again with the blending end of the NS brush. I used Black Market to wrap around the lower outer lashline as well with the pointy end. I added a little bit of Slanted on the inner corner using the pointy end of the NS brush just to add some reflection and light. I again picked up the UD Perversion liner and lined my upper lashline and lower lashline/waterline, and then used the pointy end to smudge this out and pull a little out for a wing on the outer corner. I used a q-tip to clean up the outside corner,  giving the wing area a little more sharpness. Again with the same mascara and I was done.

Look 3:

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My husband was making me laugh with this – he wouldn’t get out of the background of my selfies! :3

So I toned it down a little for this one, just a little, there’s still some smoke there. I used the RT 200 brush again to do a base of Whiskey over the mobile lid, then used Radar over the whole lid with the blender end. Radar is a really cool reflective warm brown shade, I really like it. I picked up some Armor (probably my favorite shade, it’s a gorgeous cool greyish brown shimmer) for the outer corner to add some more depth then used the same shade to wrap under my outer corner lashline using the pointy end of the NS brush. I added some of Slanted in the inner corner, but it wasn’t really light enough so I also added some High. I own the UD 24/7 liner in Whiskey to match the eyeshadow shade so I used that to lightly line my upper and lower lashline and dragged it out again to form a bit of a wing – though now that I see the close-up pictures on my computer I could have done a better job of that! To finish off I added Thirteen on the browbone just to make sure that was looking all nice and bright.

I tried a new mascara with this look, the fancy one I got with this month’s boxycharm (MDMflow Greater Than Mascara) and lemme tell you, it is garbage. As you can see in the picture it basically does nothing. Not impressed at all. It’s expensive too! Glad I didn’t pay for it because it truly sucks. Boxycharm actually had to send out an email with a set of instructions on how to “prime” it (shake it and pump the wand a lot) but even with doing that, it’s bad. Bad bad bad!

So those are my three looks. The possibilities really are endless with this palette. It’s super versatile. I’m so happy I bought it. I can really see myself getting a lot of use out of this palette!

Now onto another thing I wanted to discuss. I was watching a beauty youtuber the other day as she talked through how she takes her selfies and how she edits them. She said that she relied a lot on an app called FaceTune to make her skin look flawless and get rid of imperfections, and to change the shape of her nose a little bit. This kinda surprised me and I knew I needed to check out this app myself, she was raving about it!

So I checked it out and let me tell you something: this app is evil. This app is the One Ring. It has the potential to be used for good but the point is that most of us don’t have the will to use it that way. I made an example for you guys.

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HOLY SHIT I LOOK AMAZING I NEED THIS APP FOR REAL LIFE

Pretty big difference and about 15 seconds of work. EVIL APP! My husband and I discussed whether it was even ethical to use it for blog pictures. I also talked it through with my dollies (friends on a forum where there’s a makeup/beauty thread) and the same conclusion was reached: that if the product being reviewed is being altered by an app like this, that’s bad and wrong. For example, if I’m reviewing a foundation and I use this app to blend out some imperfections then that’s really dishonest. A few people said that they like my blog BECAUSE I don’t do any of that stuff, I don’t over-edit my images (or really edit them at all tbh but that’s partly because I have no idea how) and they can see how these products look on a real person rather than someone who has ‘shopped their pictures to infinity. Is that to say that I won’t ever use it? No. I might use it to blur out an imperfection that’s unrelated to the product I’m discussing. For example if I do an eye look and have a pimple that is distractingly huge, or if my melasma is really dark, or if I have red marks or little baby hairs around my lip area (because I’m human) and I feel they detract from the lip product I’m reviewing, then I might minimally use this app or a similar one to bring those down a notch or two.

It would be so easy to use this app for every photo I take. My self-esteem is begging me to use it. I wish I could use it for everything and feel “right” about it, but I just don’t.

That is my promise to you, dear readers. I’ll never use an app like this to lie to you or stretch the truth. I’ll never give you unrealistic impressions or expectations about how a product will perform or look. My skin will never be perfect and the better work for me to do is to a) become more okay with that; b) improve my photography skills and c) improve my makeup application skills! I hope we can all learn and grow together.

Don’t judge those makeup bloggers for using apps like FaceTune. It’s so easy to understand why they do it. I get it, and I am sending them all a lot of love in the hope they can one day apply it to themselves, from themselves.

Until next time!

Love++
F&V

Review MegaPost: Pale Girl Self-Tan, Cleansing Oil, a Brow Pen & Drugstore Lipstick

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Wednesdays off are blog post days and there’s a few things I’ve been wanting to review lately, so I thought I’d condense them into one post. Hopefully this will stop me going on for too long about each product!

First of all, let’s talk about a much-reviewed product of late, the St Tropez Gradual Tan In-Shower self-tanner.

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The pale, lazy girl’s ideal self-tanner.

I was very curious about this product for a very important reason: I am super, super lazy with self-tan. And the prime factor influencing this is that being tanned is just not a priority for me at all, I don’t really mind being pale. But I really like how I look with a very slight tan, for instance you can see my veins a little less and it disguises cellulite and all that good stuff. I am working on giving fewer fucks about cellulite but it’s still pretty cool when you can make it less obvious!

So the instructions for this product are to get in the shower, wash your body like normal (though if you use an oil or very moisturizing gel I’d recommend swapping to a normal soap – self-tans do not cope well with overly moisturized skin) then turn the shower off, apply the product with circular motions all over your body, wash your palms and wait 3 minutes. Then you just rinse and you’re done. They recommend during the 3 minutes you put a mask in your hair or something like that but I just turned the kitchen timer on and waddled around damp and slimy doing a couple of things because I have the (in this case) luxury of a tiny apartment where everything is close to the bathroom.

The tan then develops over the next 24 hours. When I first washed it off, there definitely wasn’t any evidence of a tan which was in line with what I expected. But overnight I definitely developed a light, even, natural tan. I SO wish I had taken before and after pictures. AMATEUR! It’s so light and natural that my husband couldn’t even tell I’d done it but I could definitely tell. It was just like I’d got a little bit of sun, a healthy amount, without the tan-lines. There were no yucky streaks or patches because the product has a slippy quality that makes it really easy to spread. There was no orange-ness or unnatural Dorito-hued aspects to this tan. Pro!

A few things: the smell of this product is not offensive at all. It does linger, I could smell it even the next day. It kinda reminds me of biscuits or scones or something like that. It didn’t last past my next shower and it wasn’t obvious to anyone but me.

The 3 minutes you have to stand around naked and damp could be a problem if it’s cold where you are, or just in your bathroom or whatever. It wasn’t really the case for me (New England is finally seeing summer!) so I didn’t mind at all.

If you are the kind of person who wants a nice deep tan, or who is ALREADY tan, then this product is not for you, not as a tanner anyway. I think if you wanted to extend your tan a little longer it could be perfect, but for US$25 I’m not sure how keen you’d be to pick it up.

Bottom line: it’s really easy to apply, it’s really natural and it’s really subtle. TICK TICK TICK DONE WILL PURCHASE AGAIN A+ PRODUCT! Grab it from Ulta or Sephora for $25.

Next up let’s talk about a very recent purchase for me, the Boscia Makeup Breakup Cool Cleansing Oil.

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I bought the mini (50mL) size of this to try it out to see whether I like it more than my current oil cleanser obsession (Nude Skincare Omega Cleansing Jelly). The product comes in a pump pack which already puts it above the other to me, but that could just be me.. anyway, I used a full pump and massaged it into my skin to remove my makeup and my first impressions were that the amount I used was WAYYY too much for my face, which is good news, means the product will last longer. I also felt that the smell was quite strong – it reminded me of eucalyptus which is a scent I enjoy but I worried that there would be an irritant oil or perfume in it. I also felt that it was a lot thinner in consistency to the Nude jelly but that wasn’t necessarily a negative, it spread a lot more easily but has the potential for more mess.

I used the same technique as always, giving my face a good massage with the product to break up all the makeup then wipe off with a warm, damp cloth.

I have to say, I really like this product a lot. I felt that it did a better job than the Nude product and will last longer. I waited a few days to write this review in case it broke me out but it hasn’t at all, and after using it my skin feels more soft than it does with the other product too, I don’t feel that I need to run straight to my moisturizer and slather it on immediately. I will be buying the full size of this (US$28, mini size is $10) when the mini runs out. Very impressed.

Next up, something I was not at all impressed with – the L’Oreal Colour Riche Le Matte Lipcolor Stick.

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When I posted on my fb that I had bought this, a fellow beauty lover said that the smell was unbearable for her. I’m not particularly sensitive to smells so I wasn’t too worried. Nevertheless I picked it up, uncapped the lid, brought the product up to my nose and nearly passed out. It is TRULY DISGUSTING. It smells like the worst kind of shitty plastic kids toys you can get from the crappiest stores. Like chemical laden play-doh. I decided to try it on anyway and look, I’m not gonna lie. It lasted about.. 2 minutes before I took it off. I literally couldn’t wear it, the smell was so strong. The application was also very patchy, I couldn’t get it to look smooth and even. I got the colour “Matte-r of Fact” which is a magenta pink and a really nice color but just .. no.

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Even in the swatch I had to go over and over it to make it come out an even color. This product sucks and unless you like that smell and patchy lipstick I just wouldn’t bother. If that sounds great to you, you can grab it from anywhere that sells L’Oreal or from Ulta for $10, congrats on being a huge weirdo I guess!

The final product is one that I’m going to return to Sephora for reasons that aren’t really to do with any failing of the product itself, but more of a systematic issue in brow products: STOP MAKING BROWN SHADES SO FRICKIN’ WARM, MAKEUP COMPANIES! GRRRRRRRRRRR! It’s the Kat von D Tattoo Brow Brush Tip Brow Pen.

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I bought medium brown which is the darkest shade and I’m so cranky at how red-toned it is, especially when compared to my dark-brow/black brow hairs because as a product it is GREAT. I really like how you can adjust the pressure to make the product work differently. A little bit of pressure paints the thinnest, finest hairs into where they might be missing from your brows, a little more pressure adds fullness and depth to the brow area in general. You can then brush out the brows to blend everything together for an overall full effect. Fantastic!

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But it’s so warm and it’s just really upsetting. There’s no darker color either so I can’t swap it. Please KVD, please create a cooler or just straight black brow pen. I love this product and it will suck to take it back. If your brow hairs are more of a warm brown then you can grab this handy little sucker from Sephora for $US19 and I recommend you do because it’s really great!

Heading off to the gym now. My next post is going to be about the Kat von D Shade & Light Eye palette and how to create 3 different looks using it. I hope the weather holds so I can take good pictures! One day I’ll get a good camera.. one day..

Love,
F&V

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

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

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

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

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

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Before

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

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

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A lot of things~

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

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).

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Seriously good shit right here.

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

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

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Mugshot face v important

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

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

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Seriously good.

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

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

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Application setup and post-application

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Before & after foundation & concealer application

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And the side-view..

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

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

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

Love+++
F&V

Mini Reviews: New Lip Products at the Drugstore

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

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

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

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Ummm.

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

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This isn’t my impressed face

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

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

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

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

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Needs more lifted eyebrow IMHO

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

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

Until next time!

Love+++
F&V