Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Just Peachy

In my late teens, I never used to wear blush. I've got quite naturally rosy cheeks, and I was under the impression that I would look fatter if I made my cheeks pinker.

Of course, I was very wrong. If anything, I looked fatter, more moon-faced, without blush. Blush helps define and sculpt your face. It's called "contouring" to the professionals, apparently.

I've since worn blush, but this year I've begun really falling in love with it.

I got Natio's Rouge Glow a few months back, which is a tremendously fun, almost sparkly, pink. I recently picked up Natio's Rosewood colour, which is a soft, dusky - well, "rosewood" describes it well. At roughly $13 a piece, they're well-priced and lovely to use.

Rouge Glow on the left, Rosewood on the right.

But for some reason there was a WHOLE other blush colour that I had failed to give consideration to.


I always aspired to an "English Rose" complexion - fair skin and pink cheeks. But I realise my skin could just as easily be moulded into a "Peaches and Cream" complexion.

So I picked up a glorious Prestige Minerals blush in Peach. I had been eyeing it off, and when I saw it 50% off at Priceline (for $11.25 instead of $22.50), I snapped it up.

It's a gorgeous product. The baked mineral formulation is smooth, and its swirl of a deeper streak of pink and a touch of shimmer gives the colour a fullness. Start with a little on your blusher brush - it's stronger than you might think, and you don't want to overdo it. You can always build the colour on. Pop it on the top of the apple of your cheek, and sweep back towards your temples.

All I'm wearing here is the Prestige Peach blush and some of Natio's Mineral Lip Butter in Cheer. I think  it's a soft, easy look that would suit most casual occasions.

Let me know about blushes you love!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Fat Lashes

I'm slightly obsessed with mascara at the moment.

It took me many years to wake up to the fact that mascara is quite possibly the most effective tool you can have in your make-up kit. A few sweeps of mascara - even without anything else on your face beyond moisturiser - can open up your eyes, make them pop, and make you feel just a little bit glam.

I've got a few mascaras on rotation at the moment. One is Designer Brands Beyond Amplifying Mascara, which uses "tubing" technology to coat your lashes with fibres that extend their natural length. They claim to stay on until physically removed using cream and a pulling motion. I'd say it's pretty good at adding length, and I found their staying power satisfactory. You will need to invest time in removing it properly though, as it seems to flake off as little black pieces, which can end up all over your cheeks the next morning. It looks like your lashes have dandruff.

Another is Max Factor's False Lash Effect (the waterproof version). I mistakenly picked up the brown colour in this one, but I have to say it's quite nice for a more natural day look. The brush is big with well-defined bristles, meaning it coats well for an generally pleasing all-over effect.

Having said that, I kept getting this feeling that my lashes weren't FAT enough. I decided what I really wanted was that thick, voluminous, even slightly cloggy look.

So I picked up Max Factor's 2000 Calorie mascara, with the Curved Brush option (you can also get a Straight Brush). I have to say I really like this one! It claims to fatten lashes up to 300 per cent. Now I don't even know how I'd go about measuring that without an atomic scale. But it certainly gives lashes a fullness. The brush has thicker, more closely threaded bristles, so it "clumps on" a bit more. And it seems to stay put well.

It's late at night, and PhotoBooth never captures things
that well, but you may get a bit of an idea.
Want to know why I picked up two Max Factor mascaras? Well, if you keep an eye out, you'll notice KMart often reduce all MF mascaras to $10. They'll just do a blanket special, so all these mascaras that are generally $20 to $25 will be $10. It's much more palatable to experiment when the sticks are half-price or less.

Another great place to look for mascaras is in those discount bins out the front of chemist shops. That's where I picked up the DB on, for $14.95. Given what you can find if you do some basic searching - and given that you're supposed to change mascaras every six months - it's unlikely I'd pay more for one than $15. Perhaps if I was shouting myself to something super special, like BeneFit's Bad Gal Lash, which I had once a few years ago. However, even that one was prone to melting, so personally I think the 2000 Calorie is a great option for those mascara-lovers wanting some fat lashes.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Make-Up Club #1: Aurelie

Aurelie wanted to recreate a Keira Knightley hairstyle - and given her blonde mane is a spectacular cascade of big curls, she was already halfway there. I separated the top third and curled it with the GHD to achieve some uniformity, but left the bottom two-thirds natural and wild. I grabbed two pieces from the bottom section and pinned them on top of Aurelie's head, then pulled the top section over it, to give it the appearance of greater height at the crown. I then grabbed thin pieces and curled them tightly, then sprayed them in place, sweeping back from the forehead. We left a few pieces looser at the neck, then used a comb to pin the big back section off to one side.

Aurelie wanted to try a brown-and-cream look for her eyes, based on an advertisement featuring Monica Belluci. For the life of me, I couldn't find a cappucino brown Australis cream eyeshadow that I KNEW would be perfect for the outer corners. So I improvised with powder shadow - keeping it darker near the rims, then gradually lightening the gradient across the lid, and highlighting under the brow. I put layer upon layer upon layer on Aurelie's eyes - but it's still quite a subtle look in the end.

We gave Aurelie black eyelashes, and simply combed her fabulous brows into place. Natural pink lip gloss and voila! Hands down more photogenic than Keira Knightley anyday!

Tell me what you think in the comments!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Make-Up Club #1: Kate

Kate has great hair, but it's prone to frizziness. So we ran through a lot of serum and styling cream, then used the GHD to achieve a 60s flicked bob. I used my Schwarzkopf Taft Cashmere Touch hairspray (picked it up for about $4 at Target!) to lacquer it all into place - and it seemed to do the trick! Kate also painted her nails with Rimmel Lasting Finish polish in Purple Rain.

Kate originally requested a stark black & white "retro eyes" look to match her 60s hair. Unfortunately, our attempts to create a strong white base on the eyelid using only shadow failed miserably. Apparently you need "eyeshadow paint" - which I'd never even heard of before! Cleopatra-like fine black lines above and below the rims failed too - my brush and pencil attempts were too thick.

So it was back to the drawing board. Using the purple colour as inspiration, we applied darker purples to the outer corners, and lilacs to the lid. Blend, blend, blend! We adjusted the eyeliner to be thicker all round, then added a dash of white shimmer powder to give a magical twinkling effect.

Kate's face really wears strong eyeshadow colours well. They help make her eyes pop from behind her glasses, and next to her dark hair. A peach blush and natural lip gloss complete the look.

As always, opinions welcome!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Make-Up Club #1: Janet

Make-Up Club is simple - a bunch of gals get together, play with hair and make-up, and watch BBC period costume dramas. This last part is particularly important. Initially, we had goals to dress up and go out for dinner, once we'd made ourselves all pretty. But for some reason, we've been perfectly happy to stay in and keep watching handsome 19th century British blokes in cravats.

In these posts, I'll walk through some of the looks we attempted on the girls. It's hard to identify the particular products used, considering we often throw our cosmetic collections on the table and borrow as needed. Shock, gasp! Yes, you probably shouldn't. But as long as nobody's suffering a cold, a coldsore, or conjunctivitis, then you'll probably be OK. None of the girls have complained yet about catching horrendous diseases from my eyeshadows - not even Janet, who seems to be allergic to most things!

Janet has amazingly curly hair, which she has a tendency to cut herself. I ran the GHD through it to straighten it, but due to Janet's home hairdressing, that only revealed the roughly chopped and uneven layers! So considering we were watching Jane Eyre, I decided to try to re-curl, framing her face with curls, then pinning the rest up.

We attempted something a bit ambitious with Janet's eyes - an asymetrical criss-cross eyeline, sweeping up from the inner corner to the brow, then down from the middle lid to the outer corner. The issue here was getting a fine line - I just couldn't wield the brushes in such a way to get the thinner line. So instead I had to blend and blend. I think I need to track down some finer brushes, or maybe try liquid eyeliner instead.

What did work well was the blended "antique gold" look of the lids - achieved by using both cream and powder eyeshadow - and the gorgeous lashes, using a brown/black mascara.

Let me know what you think.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hot Pink Nails

I have terrible nails. I bit them relentlessly as a girl, only growing out of regular chewing in my late teens. It left them weak; and to this day they rarely grow more than 2 or 3 millimetres above the tip of the finger.

I've flirted often with glue-on acrylics; and even had fill-in acrylics on a number of occasions. But because of my naturally short nail bed (stubby, if you will), they always end up looking slightly off-kilter; almost top heavy.

So I've been trying to get back into wearing nail polish, as a way to make my stubby nails look a bit more glamourous. Last week I had a craving to paint my nails hot pink. As with all paint, "hot pink" can vary depending on the brand. But I found the exact shade I wanted among Maybelline's new mini Colorama range.

It's interesting - I swear this picture shows the colour I bought, but according to the website, it's called "Sweet Candy". My bottle says "Bubbalicious", but the website shows that as a pale pinky-white.

Either the bottle has been mislabelled, or the website is wrong. I have seen the Coloramas in a number of stores though, and this hot pink colour has always been called "Bubbalicious". So I'm not sure what's going on there.

What IS great about the product is the size. I'm very changeable when it comes to nail polish - I buy a colour on a whim, use it once or twice, then relegate it to a tray. While I understand quality improves with price, I feel like I've wasted money if I spend more than about $10 on a nail polish - simply because I don't get the wear before it congeals and has to be thrown away.

So the slimline 7.5ml Colorama bottle is just about perfect. Enough to give you a few wears - and you can always go back and buy another. It retails for around $6.95 per bottle.

The colour is amazing. Hot pink without being skanky, if that makes sense. It's like a classy hot pink. And while I appreciate my own bias, I actually think it looks better on short nails. It looks funky but practical.

I will admit the application brush was a bit problematic - paint seemed to gather on the stem more than on the brush itself, and the brush could do with being a little wider for easier application (like Rimmel's excellent Lycra Pro). But like all nail polish brushes - it depends a lot on your ability to wield it well.

As always, I stuffed up the time it would take for my nails to dry; so several of mine quickly went splodgy and patchy. The ones that didn't though look fab. The colour is strong and even and the polish shiny.

A note regarding my eye make-up here: I bought another Sportsgirl Colour Me In eyeshadow pencil, this time in Hollywood (purple and puce). I used the purple on the lower lash line and V-corner, then blended with the puce across the lid. I added a touch of Chi-Chi Real Minerals shimmering eyeshadow in "Shop-A-Holic", and finished with Designer Brands Amplifying mascara. I was quite pleased with the end result, although the lighting in this picture doesn't do it justice.

The DB mascara is supposed to place small "tubes" over your lashes to thicken and lengthen them. I'd say it adds length, but I'm still on a quest to find a good fattening mascara. Certainly when removing it you can see tiny bits and pieces of product coming off. It claims to not melt off - and certainly once it's dried, I've found it very wearable.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Natio - WTF BBQ?

As you know, I love Natio products in much the same way a Christian person loves Jesus. Some of you may think that's a disrespectful comparison. I say try Natio's Pure Mineral Foundation, then tell me which is truly miraculous.

Natio is fantastic about giving away full-size products as well as sample size treats in their promotional giveaways. But this one takes the cake. Or more accurately - takes the steak.

Currently, if you spend $30 on Natio products at Myer and many participating pharmacies, you receive - a three-piece BBQ set.


I must admit when this first popped up in my inbox, I thought it was a late April Fool's Day joke.

Then I thought perhaps it's a metaphor for a make-up brush set. But no, it's a full size set of tongs, fork and steak-flipper-thing.

This completely confuses me. What's the link between cutlery and beauty? Are they making an ironic jab about cosmetic surgery?

And it's an odd time of the year to do it too. I could understand more if it was November/December, and we were entering our summer season. A gift set like this could make a great present for a female friend who likes to cook. But... in April? They're Australian, they should know people are starting to pack up the barbeques.

I just don't understand the reason behind this. I certainly can't recommend it - I'll be waiting for the next gift of skincare/make-up before I buy again!

I hope it's not a sign that Natio are going to start doing what other companies do and offer crappy non-specific items as customer bait. You know, like some products will offer a tacky tote bag or cheap towel as a "free gift".

Natio - your gifts with purchase have always been outstanding, because they represent great value. When I test the products, I go back to buy the full-size versions. Don't ruin it!