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Once upon a time, when I was a small Megan, I applied my makeup thusly: foundation with fingers, blush with the teensy brush that came in the compact, mascara via mascara wand, chapstick straight from tube. Obvious problems there – primary of which is that if I went out in that much makeup now, people would think I had consumption. But aside from the fact that apparently I am fading like a flower, what the hell is with that teensy brush they give you? My cheeks are quite a generous portion of my face, while that brush was doll-size.
My search for a better tool than these stubby fingers has eventually led me to this point – trialling makeup brushes I heard about on Youtube. Real Techniques (by Samantha Chapman) came to my attention because I watch makeup tutorials by Sam, and her sister Nic, on their Youtube channel pixiwoo. I then went on a jaunt to Sydney last year and came across the brushes in Priceline. In my insanity, I bought one. I knew you couldn’t get them in New Zealand, yet I only bought one *shakes head in disappointment with self’s inability to make good decisions*.
Well, I think I can sum up this review by saying: I now own 11.
These brushes are extraordinarily good. They’re all synthetic, which is nice for our vegetarian and vegan buddies, with aluminium handles. The base of the handles is flat, which means you can stand the brushes up. I find this super handy when I am at the gym and don’t want to lie my brushes on the benches and then rub them all over my face.
I have not experienced any shedding with these brushes and they re-shape perfectly after washing. They haven’t stained and they dry very quickly. I absolutely love the expert face brush and the buffing brush for applying foundation, and the detailer brush, base shadow brush, and deluxe crease brush are perfect for every kind of eyeshadow application I need to do. The bristles are beautifully soft and dense and the handles are just the right length and balance in my hand (even with the heavier rubberised bases).
They are also incredibly price-competitive. I have the following (prices in USD):
- the blush brush: $9
- the expert face brush: $9
- the core collection set* (detailer brush, pointed foundation brush, buffing brush, contour brush): $18
- the starter set for eyes (base shadow brush, deluxe crease brush, accent brush, pixel-point eyeliner brush, brow brush): $18
That means I have spent approximately $NZ65 on 11 brushes, or a little less than $6 per brush. I also spent $15 on shipping, so let’s say $80. Let’s compare that to the brushes that I consider are similar in terms of accessibility – the Manicare brushes available at Farmers. If you had $80 to spend on those brushes you could buy:
- the foundation brush: $26.99
- the angled blush brush: $22.49
- the powder brush: $27.99
…and you’d have $2.50 in change. You’d also have three brushes which, in my opinion, just are not as good as the Real Techniques brushes (and I do own a couple of the Manicare brushes, purchased before I discovered Real Techniques and my powder brush STILL sheds after three years!).
Seriously, I cannot emphasise enough how great my experience with these brushes has been. If you have been considering buying some entry-level makeup brushes but thought MAC was too expensive (because you guys, you can spend hundreds on brushes if
you go top of the line**) then I strongly recommend buying just one set of these and seeing how you like them. I’m already planning my next little order…
You can purchase the Real Techniques brushes at: www.iherb.com. You can also check out the Real Techniques website (link above) for tutorials and detailed information about the brushes and sets.
*The sets also come with handy brush cases that turn into a stand.
**please note: definitely not implying MAC brushes are top of the line. If you want a nice sense of what brushes can cost, look up the Tom Ford, Suqqu and Hakuhodo brushes. Yikes!
In this case, is gold.
My boyfriend would tell you I’m a magpie, and certainly I enjoy a bit of glitter in my life. For a long time though I was averse to gold and strongly in favour of silver (or even copper). Well, the tide has
turned and left a new glitter in its wake.
It happened while I was I wasn’t paying attention, and now gold is everywhere I look. Is it a trend? I don’t know, but I do know that gold is beautiful both in the carefree bright days of summer and paired back against a more luxe winter look. If you’re hankering for the Midas touch, you could try:
A drop of gold on your shirtfront
Much better than the usual cheap plastic buttons, the gold buttons are what make this inexpensive shirt a bit of a stand out. As a current take on a classic style it’s perfect with a pair of skinny pants for work or messily tucked into denim shorts or a maxi-skirt on the weekend. This precious was $34.99 from JayJays.
The current trend for chains in jewellery is a favourite of mine and you don’t have to spend a lot to get a hit. I recently found this reversible chain necklace at Equip for around $10. The soft peach is on trend but the gold takes more panache to pull off.
The gold-rimmed sunglasses scream of hot days at the beach somewhere in Europe, so I wear them advisedly. They’re a great bit of fun though, and secretly I enjoy the sense of being a bit “Liz Hurley” when I throw on a white tshirt and some jeans, and cover my sleepy eyes with these Glassons beauties.
Starlight on your fingertips
Stars are, of course, white. But imagine if they were gold. We’d spend our lives staring at the night sky and I bet the United States would be able to find a bit more money for that space programme they’re so keen to diminish. While my true desire is the Zoya 14K polish, which looks like flakes of real gold because it is flakes of real gold, this chunky gold glitter from Chi Chi fits the bill for a pretty small $17. Super over navy blue or a deep maroon.
Warpaint for a princess
The Maybelline colour tattoos are seriously good and seriously cheap, and after some initial resistance went ahead and grabbed Bold Gold. Bold is about right, but a quick slick of this on the eyelids creates a bit of subtle drama. You could amp it up for a nighttime look too, especially since this stuff does not budge.
This is part one in the Winter series of posts, covering beauty, fashion and pretty things for your mind and body in the coldest months. Hopefully there will be something in this series to help you cruise through the remaining months of Winter!
I can always tell that winter is here because my lips are super, unbelievably dry. Since I wear lipstick on the regular, this is a real pain in the you-know-what. I know I’m not alone so this winter I went on a mission: winter-appropriate lip solutions.
The first step was a priming solution. So let’s start with a bit of a visit to the kitchen…
Do this last thing cheap auto insurance at night just before you get into bed. Grab an egg cup or small container. Put in 1 teaspoon of ordinary white sugar. Slowly add a very small amount of olive oil (or whatever cooking oil you have to hand) to make the mixture just a little bit runny. You can either rub this on your lips, or add just a single drop of strawberry food flavouring for a more delicious scrub. Don’t buy a lipscrub – this is just as effective and obviously super cheap. If you want, you can get a small plastic container and take this as you travel.
Once your lips have been gently rubbed with the scrub, get a good quality lipbalm and layer that sucker up. There will be no kissing in your evening; oh no, you want that lipbalm to soak in overnight. I love Lucas’ Papaw Ointment, but I also use Maybelline BabyLips in a pinch.
By the time you wake up, some healing and soothing should have occurred. After your morning shower/facewashing, take a dry towel and very gently rub your lips. This will remove any dry skin. Then apply a thin layer of balm to protect your lips.
It usually takes a few days to get my lips from dry disaster back to normal using this technique. In the meantime, I still want the option of wearing a pretty lip colour. This winter several brands have released super-moisturising lipsticks that have a big balm component, so I tactically purchased a few over the last few months and have been trying them out. Comparison review time!
I’ll be honest – these are all pretty much the same thing. The Za product was the only one I had a bad time with as it made my lips peel and wasn’t as smooth as the others. I would not recommend this lipstick even though it was less than $20.
The Revlon products are a little bit stickier than the L’Oreal and Maybelline, which didn’t bother me but is worth keeping in mind. The L’Oreal and Maybelline options reminded me of the lustre finish lipsticks from Mac – super shiny and smooth but they don’t last a particularly long time. The brighter colours in all of the brands did have more longevity because they colour your lips, but these are pretty much just a hyper-pigmented lipbalm or gloss.
This means that you use up the product much more quickly than a traditional lipstick. I also feel pretty confident that these would melt in the summer heat, so for me they are a winter-only option.
In terms of lip niceness, these are all great! I can use any of them (even the darker colours,
although several light layers works better than just slathering it on) on my dry lips and they melt in just like a balm. I don’t think they do much to heal the lips but they do keep them moisturised and prevent further drying. The lighter colours like Pretty Peach just add a nice tinted gloss and give you that finished look.
If forced to choose, I’d go with the L’Oreal option. I really like their packaging and they go on beautifully. However, these are kinda pricey* so if you do wear lipstick, and want a dry-lip-day option, I strongly suggest you wait for a deal.
Speaking of which, Farmers is currently doing buy 2 get 1 free on L’Oreal, so might be worth grabbing 2 friends and each getting a little treat (this deal extends to all of their cosmetics) so you can try this out at a significant discount! While you’re there, try the Infallible Eyes eyeshadows – they’re also a great product.
* (I got mine using vouchers, deals and the power of global purchasing via the Internet and so paid nowhere near full price – but it literally took months of spending $10 here and there to accumulate these for this review. This is why comparison reviews are rare!)
I did a little squeal of excitement tonight when the latest email from Gracie Lou dropped into my inbox because they are now stocking Z-Palettes.
Z-Palettes are empty customisable magnetic makeup p
alettes designed to be filled with your choice of makeup pans.
If you’ve ever bought refills of any makeup products you’ll know that if you don’t shell out the extra for the matching compact then finding ways to store them so they don’t get damaged can be tricky. I have several Z Palettes (which I had to order from America, hence my excitement at being able to get them in New Zealand now), and in fact I reviewed them a couple of years ago on my blog Pretty Clever so click through and read my post because I’m too lazy to type it all up again. Suffice to say this is a great product.
Z Palettes are priced at NZ$42.00 for the large and NZ$26.00 for the small, which is comparable to what I paid to order them from
America. Check them out at Gracie Lou.
Imagine, if you will, that you have 15 minutes to kill one night and you are directly outside a supermarket. If you’re me, this is an invitation to go and cruise the beauty aisle for new products. Which is how I found myself throwing down $18 on Garnier’s Miracle Skin Perfector.
Garnier calls this a “B.B. Cream Innovation” to which I say: whatever, Garnier, the Japanese invented BB creams ages ago. You are just jumping on their bandwagon – which is totally fine because BB cream is hard to find in NZ – but make it clear it wasn’t your idea please. If you’ve improved BB cream then perhaps say something like “A New Generation of BB Cream Skincare” (yup, copywriting is not my day job).
For $18 I was willing to give it a go and review it here. BB creams were designed for people with scarring. They basically act as a foundation which also heals your skin, i.e. all my dreams coming true in one product. It is a mystery to me why they didn’t catch on years ago. However, the Internet has been lighting up with BB cream love in the last year or two, so the big brands seem to be developing their own hybrid products.
About my face: I have some light acne scarring, mainly near my hairline, which is hidden by light foundation. I suffered with eczema for several years so I am very cautious about products irritating my skin. In recent years I have been more prone to breakouts. My skin gets very dry at the start of winter and I am obsessed with dewy, glowing skin. I can’t really complain but I do anyway.
- it’s a moisturiser and a foundation so you cut out a step in your routine. This is a winner and buys me about 5 minutes of additional snooze time per day.
- you can slap it on with your fingers so I don’t have to constantly wash foundation brushes.
- it is buildable. This was important because I often find tinted moisturisers are too thin and are a pointless waste of my time.
- it gives you a bit of a glow. I would say this evens out my skin but it is not high coverage. It is just enough to look polished at work (two layers) or slightly less pale and uninteresting on weekends (one layer).
- it’s SPF 15.
- I honestly think it is improving my skin slightly. This may be placebo effect but I feel like my skin is loving this. At the very least I haven’t had any break-outs and the hormonal spots on my chin healed super quickly once I began using this product.
- It only comes in two colours: light and medium. What the hell, Garnier? I bought light which works well. It’s number 2 so I do wonder if there is a wider range but we just aren’t seeing it here.
- It stinks. Not gross-stink but “let’s tip all the perfumes ever into the mix” stink. I can’t smell it once it’s on, but it is choking in the tube.
- It slips. If I double-layer it is better but it doesn’t wear as well as foundation. You cannot touch your face if you want this to last. It took me two days to get on board with this realisation and in those two days I hated this product.
My recommendation? If you want a quick and easy foundation-esque product then I would give this a try. It is much cheaper than foundation and is relatively foolproof, so it would be great if you aren’t that into makeup but sometimes needsomething to give you a boost. But if you can dedicate yourself to using it everyday, I think you will see results in your underlying skin quality too. In summary: worth a try.
Look, I had my legs out today and I didn’t need a jacket. That’s summer around these parts, so I am going to write this post and knock on wood, because if I don’t get to start wearing my nice summer shoes and dresses soon then I may cry.
The great thing about winter is being able to hide under layers of clothing and blame the wind and lack of sunlight for your pallid girl-from-Twilight complexion. But those days are over, and now you may want to defoliate, exfoliate, and paint those toesies a pretty colour. If not, then you are going to have way more time than me this summer to make cocktails and organise pool parties. I salute you.
If however, like me, you wish to have a (fake) tan and just generally have an excuse to buy fun new things from our friends at Farmers, please read on.
Summer = tan. But tan = early death. So the first product in my summer arsenal is always fake tan. I’ve used Piz Buin a lot, since my Mum used to use it and introduced me to it, but since the arrival of gradual tans things have gotten a lot more convenient. So much so that I don’t think I would trust myself to do a proper fake tan job now. I’m currently using:
but the spray thing is useless. I spray it into my hand and then apply (I paid good money, I will use it up). So it might pay not to buy the gimmicky spray version.
In summer I also want to look well-rested and “glowy”. Get ready for my number one product of all time (and not just summer, all year round) – I recommend this product 100%. It is:
This is the Maybelline Dream Touch Lumi concealer. It is wonderful. It brightens, it doesn’t crease, and it’s basically the best concealer I have ever used. It makes me look awake even when I’ve had five hours of sleep.
For additional glowy-ness, I recommend a good highlighter. This product is ridiculous, I know. But trust when I say that it does make a difference for night-time “yes, I look naturally fabulous” makeup. The one I love is discontinued (dang it, Natio) but for overall glowy-making goodness, I hear Mac’s Strobe Cream is good. Someone try it and tell me whether I should buy it.
This summer has a very distinct beauty trend, which I plan to embrace whole-heartedly, even though I think beauty trends are dumb. Get the chapstick out girls and drink plenty of water because it’s time for a bright coloured lipstick. My personal summer selection is:
Yup. Red, hot pink, and a lipstick that is bright orange regardless of the outrageously poor photo quality above.
We gotta look after the tresses and with my curly mop this is particularly important. I already use Kerastase’s Ultime product which I highly recommend. It smells amazing and it is the reason I haven’t had a cut in 6 months and don’t have any split ends. Hooray! Summer is a great time to start using a good quality conditioning product as your hair gets pretty dry from the sun and salt water combo. V05 oil treatments are really good too, and are super cheap times which is cool if you have masses of hair.
Finally, don’t forget the sunblock on your face AND your decolletage at a minimum, and break out the waterproof mascara because you never know when an impromptu after-work swim will happen. Have a FAB time this summer and remember that having fun and enjoying all the good stuff out there is what will really enhance how gorge you are!
On a trip to the pharmacy this morning for medication for a teenager who is suffering from the Worst Cold Ever I spotted a stand of cosmetics which was new to me.
The brand is SAX Cosmetics, and a quick Google search reveals that they are an Australian company – their website can be found here. In fact they are the same Australian company who make MIKI nails polishes, and The Body Collection body care range.
The SAX makeup range consists of the standard lipsticks, glosses, eye pencils, shadow pallettes, foundations, blushers, bronzers and concealers; and prices are very reasonable with most products being under $20.
Of course as a beauty blogger it would have been remiss of me to come home without something from the range, so
I picked up a Creme Eye Definer in charcoal for $16.90.
This is a wind-up style eyeliner, but be aware it’s not retractable. So don’t be winding the whole thing all the way out – it won’t go back in! And then there will be tears.
The other end of the eyeliner is a densely packed foam rubber smudger with a wedge shaped tip. Frnakly this isn’t much chop – it rubbed off more than it smudged.
The eyeliner itself, as its name would suggest, has a lovely cremey consistency and goes on smoothly. I do have an issue with the name though – to me this shade is lighter in colour than I would imagine a charcoal to be. Which is actually fine by me, it’s this mid-grey that made me want to buy it because I don’t have any other colour similar in my (vast) makeup collection.
Here it is swatched on my arm; on the left drawn on in two or three swipes and on the right drawn on and then smudged.
I do love this colour. What I couldn’t get the pictures to show was that in certain lights there is an almost denim blue tint to it. I can see me getting a lot of wear out of this.
Despite its cremey texture this eyeliner seems to be pretty budge-proof after it has dried.
Finally, here it is applied quickly under my lower lashline and lightly smudged. I’m not wearing any other makeup in these photos. And my eyebrows need plucking. Please ignore them.
All in all I’m pleased with my purchase – good quality for a good price.
Has anybody else tried products from the SAX range? What did you think of them?
Shannon sent us a twitter last night telling us about a huge makeup sale in Manners Mall, and today she sent us in these field reports:
- shannonq@prettyx3 Multiple tweets to follow! Definitely worth a look in – main makeup brands they have are Maybelline, Revlon, CoverGirl, Loreal.
- shannonq@prettyx3 Huge selection of lip stuff (mostly <$10). Foundations are mostly darker colours. Not much skincare.
- shannonq@prettyx3 Large range of perfumes but didn’t look terribly hard at that (too many people spraying liberally).
- shannonq@prettyx3 Three lip glosses, a L’Oreal foundation (of which they only had six – score!), eyeliner + mascara for $63! Score!
So if you’re in the area, sounds like a good thing to check out. Thanks for the reports, Shannon!
Michael Jackson may have sang that it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white, but when it comes to makeup, it does actually make a difference, and I’m suprised he doesn’t know that. That’s why it’s awesome that Black Opal is available in New Zealand.
Black Opal is a brand of cosmetics and skincare from New York, made exclusively for women and men of colour. All cosmetics are richly pigmented and technologically advanced to enhance and beautify brown skin.
Black Opal has been used in the Miss Indianz 2008 Beauty Contest, as well as the Miss Asia Pacific 2007 and Miss Africa NZ 2007/06, and now it can be used on you too!
Thanks to the lovely people of Amaka Beauty, we have two vouchers for a makeover worth $80 and a lipstick worth $20 you can select at the makeover to give away. The makeovers are available at Life Pharmacy Manukau, Life Pharmacy St Lukes Metro and Unichem West City Pharmacy (There are other stockists but not who are doing the makeovers, so sorry, non Auckland readers! We’ll have something for you soon), and if you want to win, all you gotta do is leave us a comment and we’ll draw two winners next Tuesday with the help of the randomiser. Hurray!
A while ago at Make Up/Over Monday, we decided that we’d set ourselves the challenge of looking different. What this translated to was that Rachel who normally doesn’t wear much makeup at all got the full on loads of bright eyeshadow ala me, and since I normally do my makeup very loose and smudgey, Amy applied mine neat and straight out of Making Faces by Kevyn Aucoin, in the style of “Temptress”, modeled on Barbara Streisand. It was a learning experience for everyone involved!
The results and revelations after the jump. Read the rest of this page »
Read the rest of this page »