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!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Midas Touch

Matching make-up to accessories can be a fun way to add some glamour to an otherwise plain outfit - in my case, a pretty black top and jeans.

I bought a gorgeous gold-and-white coloured chain necklace from Temt (reduced to $9.95, nice), and decided to try to combine it with my Sportsgirl "Colour Me In" gold-and-white pencil. Then I painted on some Rimmel Lycra Pro nail polish in Gold Infusion for a bit of extra dazzle.

Unfortunately with the lighting and slight blurriness in this picture, you can't quite make out the gold-rimmed eyes. But then, it was after a night of improvising and sweating, and no matter what I try, my eye make-up always seems to wear away.

I can recommend the nail polish; it comes with an excellent wide brush, which makes application easier and more consistent. I think though I need to start wearing a top coat; I only ever seem to get a day out of nail polish before it starts to chip off.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Pencil Me In

It's getting harder and harder for me to find fashion that suits my style or budget at Sportsgirl. Floppy, gauzy blouses and short, floral dresses, for $79.95 and higher? I've realised I'm just not an indie queen with a lax attitude to her credit card repayments.

However, Sportsgirl is a surprisingly good repository for cheap, nifty cosmetics. They also discount regularly, and I've scored lots of cute palettes, lip glosses and eyeliners for $8 or less.  But even at full price, they're pretty decent.

Check out this Colour Me In eyeshadow pencil, for $7.95:

I picked it up because I wanted to try this thing they call an "eyeshadow pencil". It's an odd middle ground: not quite a cream shadow, but not as firm as a liner.

It comes in a variety of cool double-shades, but I picked "Greek Goddess" because while cool, the other shades were a bit night-clubby. I always like white pencils, because they work well as a highlighter. And the gold colour is super pretty, with a touch of sparkle.

It went on relatively smoothly, and stayed put for an evening out. I didn't wear other make-up with it, just the gold around the eyeline, and the white on the lid and under the eyebrow. I blended them with the tip of a finger, but the pencil applicator made it generally simple to apply.

I suspect the gold will suit browner skin tones better than mine, and look sublime on dark skin.

I don't think it's a must-have for your make-up bag, but it is quite convenient, and as long as you carry a sharpener with you, could be a good travel item for adding a little touch of glamour without needing brushes and eyeshadow boxes.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Things that Matte-r

A few months ago, I had an inexplicable craving for new eyeshadows. The result was a splurge at StrawberryNet on a number of colour palettes.

On arrival, however, I realised all of the eyeshadow colours contained shimmer. This was not a massive problem, but shimmery colours don't tend to work as well as an eyeshadow base. I really wanted to track down some matte colours, so I could try "building" a look from the lid up.

A few months ago, Revlon brought out a number of new single eyeshadows in three styles - Perle, Satin and Matte. They certainly tested like lovely products, but at around $20 for a single colour, I wasn't rushing to buy them. Luckily, I found a couple of shades discounted at Priceline, so picked up the 002 Peach Sorbet to try.

I fell in love with it straightaway. It has just the lightest touch of peachy colour, and glides on like a dream, particularly if you use an eyeshadow brush. It's a lovely base for other colours to go over the top -  but I've also begun just wearing it alone, particularly when I'm not wearing other make-up. The Peach Sorbet colour works great as an a corrector for your eyelids, giving them a soft, even look.

During a subsequent rummage around a Priceline discount bin, I found the 004 Luscious Lime colour, and picked up another Peach Sorbet, just to be on the safe side. The Lime is quite an odd green, but given its matte nature, still subtle. It would look fantastic on darker skin tones.

I took a photo of my eyes with the peach on one, and lime on the other, but they are so soft they just didn't show up.

I suspect this may be the reason for the discounting - at that higher price, I believe customers would expect a bigger colour impact. This bears out when you see that the Perle and Satin shades remain at the recommended retail price (at least for the moment).

The Revlon|Matte shades come in eight colours - and I would advise if you spot any of them in a discount bin, grab it. The lighter, pinker colours will make great stand-alone shades, but the others will still make a great base for more dramatic looks. And they are just gorgeous in texture. Honestly, I spend minutes just brushing the powder into my eye socket - it simply feels lovely.

Friday, April 1, 2011


As much as I love trying and buying foundations, I don't actually like wearing them all that much - particularly during the day. Part of that reason is living in a generally warm climate, but I also believe I associate foundation with theatre and performance - it really becomes a "mask".

Despite some severe acne in my late teens, I'm lucky that I wound up with generally nice skin, and so I don't feel insecure about going bare-faced in public. I often just wear moisturiser with sunscreen, but sometimes a tinted moisturiser is a nice happy medium.

But finding a tinted moisturiser that works for you can often be problematic. I suspect this is mainly because, unlike foundations, manufacturers tend to only make them in a couple of shades - like "Neutral" and "Dark". Subsequently, many of them are too brown or too orange for my pasty white skin. Another problem is the gluggy nature of some mixtures.

Eventually I discovered a wonderful tinted moisturiser - and best of all, it's inexpensive!

Covergirl Aqua Smoothers are light, creamy, come in a number of colour varieties and contain an SPF 15 sunscreen. I get 805 Fair To Light, and it sinks right into my skin. But as always, experiment freely with the tester to find the colour that suits you.

I love the fact that it's oil and fragrance free, and non-comedegenic. They retail for around $17.95, and last for ages.

This product isn't going to give you a full coverage, but I think it's great for everyday wear if you like having a bit of colour on to even your skin tone or as a little self-confidence booster.

A note of warning though - I went looking for a new Aqua Smoother to replace a finished one, but had a bit of trouble tracking it down. The Covergirl sections in K-Mart, Target and Big W had stopped stocking it, replacing it instead with more TruBlend and Clean foundations. I really hope this is a temporary thing, not a sign of discontinuing the product.

I eventually found it in my beloved Priceline, so head there if you can't track it down elsewhere. I'll be keeping an eye on this one - if I discover it's being discontinued, I'll be stocking up, then having a quiet weep, and beginning the search for a new tinted moisturiser all over again.