MAC? Pffffft. Nars? Nah. La Femme? Oh yes please! These are EVERYTHING I like in a blush - beautifully pigmented, decent pan size, minimalist packaging that is easy to keep clean and stack, great range of shades and super lasting power. Oh, and as cheap as chips, I think I paid about $9NZD a pop, which considering makeup prices in New Zealand, is an absolute steal. You might need to experiment with the best way to apply these, especially if you are super pale or don't wear a base as they are pretty pigmented and can actually leave a faint stain on skin if applied directly. But I haven't had any problems with over applying, I think you just need the right brush and technique and you should be good to go. I do tap and blow off excess colour for some of the brighter shades when I use a fluffy dome brush or an angled buffing brush but a stipple or fan brush would likely be ideal if you're concerned about it. Packaging is a simple flat round black plastic screw cap with a clear lid, so you can see the colour inside. I think they hold about 4 grams of product, which a decent enough. Ever so slightly powdery, which is not a major flaw, these are soft, velvety and blend well. I have 6 shades, which I ordered sight unseen but based on online swatches. Misty Plum - a very wearable soft plummy pink, not super purple toned, slightly cool. Great for everyday. Dusty Rose - super pretty warm red pink, looks deeper than it actually is, very flattering for a range of skin tones. Mauve Sparkle - I LUUUURVE this. It looks a very cool, grey toned sparkly lilac in the pan but when applied it just lifts into this gorgeous soft pale pink. The sparkles don't show up noticeably once applied. Golden Rose - powerful raspberry toned yellow based pink with light gold shimmer - not a dupe for Nars Orgasm, which is much lighter and more peachy. Mocha - a russet based rose, slight brown tones but well balanced, appears fairly similar in the pan to Dusty Rose but looks different on. Peach Sparkle - yummy warm apricot peach, definite orange tones but with enough pink to be considered coral. Delicious!
Scrubs -Aveeno - Fresh Essentials daily exfoliating scrub
Embeth3 4/21/2013 11:11:00 PM
I don't even really know what this product is supposed to do - it's not really a scrub so there is no noticeable difference to my skin, it doesn't foam or lather and leaves a slightly filmy surface on my face that requires an actual facial cleanser to remove and it smells very strongly of a fairly nice fruity floral thing (whatever it is supposed to smell like, I don't even know, but I Googled Southernwood and it apparently smells like camphor and doesn't have little round orange bobbily flowers so while the packaging looks pretty, it is not an accurate representation of the ingredients)... As far as scrubs go, it's very gentle, which is fine for every day use as it is labelled, but I just don't know why you'd need to exfoliate everyday (except that you use up product more quickly, cynical me thinks). I personally prefer more vigourous exfoliants, so I don't find this to be terribly effective. The worst thing about it is the texture, it's like thick, grainy snot and it just does not rinse away quickly or easily. It leaves sort of a vaguely gummy residue and doesn't leave my face feeling clean, so I always have to wash again with cleanser, which just seems like a total waste of time and product, condsidering how many other cleansing 2 in 1 scrubs there are out there. I am perplexed by this stuff, it doesn't really DO anything so I'm glad I got it on special and didn't waste more money on it. I'll probably hand this onto a friend or something because it actually annoys me how damn useless this product is. I'm glad most eveyone else seems to rate it well and that it seems to work for them but I definitely won't be repurchasing it ever again.
Normally, I despise glitter polish. I'm talking unhealthy levels of hatred here, they look tacky and speckedly and never apply evenly and need multiple coats to look decent and then require masses of remover, obliterated cotton wool balls and truckloads of frustration to get off. I don't care about any of that, I love this polish. It's just fun and cute and all kinds of adorable! Hot orange, yellow gold, bright aqua, vivid green, fuschia pink and silvery white mini glitter and larger hexes all float dreamily in a cloudy eggshell base. Great glitter distribution, though you need need multiple strokes over each nail to deposit it evenly and 90% opaque in just two coats. It retains a slight translucency, which allows the bottom layers of glitter to still shine through and while it does need a decent top coat, it's finish is not horribly lumpy and bumpy. Application is great, my only advice would be not to overload the brush, especially if you have a tendency to flood your cuticles (like I always do) and also to keep an orange stick handy so you can gently nudge back any glitter "spillage" from the sides of the nail bed or overhang from the nail tip while the polish is still wet. Otherwise you can get the odd sharp, raised bits that can catch and scratch and also lead to chipping. Whimsical, colourful, pretty and fun!
Crème -Unlisted Brand - Mehron Celebre HD Pro Cream Makeup
Embeth3 4/3/2013 9:40:00 PM
I really, really like this stuff. 25 grams of excellent product in a tidy, fuss free little pot (great for travelling) for less than fifteen bucks? Yes! This has a really great texture - meltingly smooth, creamy soft and a dream to blend, superb coverage and possibly the most natural skin like finish I have ever experienced from any foundation, ever. I don't need as much concealer as usual with this but it does need powder to set properly. It lasts fairly well on me, but if you want 10 -12 hours plus, you might need to touch up. It doesn't transfer on contact but it will come off if you rub it or blow your nose, (like the lovely reviewer below, that is the first place it wears off on me as well) but it is about the only foundation I'd consider carrying around for touch ups, if I wasn't lazy enough to ever bother (I'm not). I apply with a flat top kabuki style brush and it usually takes me less than 2 minutes to apply, blend and have close to flawless. Other than the odd bristle shedding (darn brush!), it is mess free, the little screw top pot takes up minimal space and is to super easy to use. Is the same diameter as other Mehron cheek/lip compacts, so is easy to stack and store. As mentioned before, the coverage is fairly full but could easily be sheered out with a damp brush or sponge and the finish is impeccable and as close to flawless as anything I've ever used. Oil free, doesn't block pores (contains no sunscreen either, so you'll need to apply underneath) and has a decent range of colours, especially for ethnic and POC and a couple of really pale options for the very fairest complexions. I usually wear the second to lightest shade in a foundation range but I wear ME1 in this, which is a fairly yellow based neutral beige (and seems to be lighter in colour than LT4, go figure). The website swatches aren't the most fabulous, Missy Raabe has skin swatches on her blog (thanks Missy!) that are extremely helpful if you can't test these in person. If I was being super picky and demanding, I'd prefer this was super long wear and had a click shut flip top lid (so I don't drop it on the bathroom floor and then have to put my glasses on to find it again, LOL) but it is pretty damn close to perfect! EDIT: I find that if I swirl my buki brush in this and then spread out and mix with a little of my preferred long lasting foundation then buff onto my face, I get the best of both worlds - great coverage, looks very natural and lasts really well.
Treatments -Shiseido - Bio-Performance Super Corrective Serum
Embeth3 4/3/2013 8:57:00 PM
Right, so three days after I got a sample of this in a GWP, I went out and bought the full size version. THIS IS AMAZING. This is more like a gel cream than a liquid serum, it has a lovely silky texture, applies very smoothly and spreads evenly, absorbs quickly. Scent is light and inoffensive and you only need one pump to cover your face, especially if you're using a Shiseido softener or toner first. Packaging is luxe, a futuristic and elegant gold pump bottle, the only down side is you cannot see how much product is left. It says to use twice a day but I only use it at night time and I can honestly say, short of isotretinoin medication for adult acne, nothing has changed my skin as much as this product. It leaves my face smooth, my skin brighter, more finely textured and evenly toned, my pores appear smaller and I am using less foundation and concealer when I apply my makeup. I have been using this for about three weeks now and it has made a noticeable difference to my skin. As close to a "miracle in a jar" as I have ever found and yes, it's VERY expensive (I think about $175NZD for 30mL) but for something that actually works and makes a visible difference to my face (I'm interested to see how much impact it has on my melasma patches but I expect that will take at least a few months) as far as I am concerned, it is definitely worth it. Every single cent. If I was only going to buy a single luxury skincare product for the rest of my life, it would be this. LOVE IT.
These Easyshines are suprisingly awesome for only $2 a pop - they're like a threeway hybrid between lipstick, gloss and lip balm and as much as I love them, there are a couple of drawbacks. The range of colours is pretty good, so there will be something for everyone, Berry Colada and Watermelon Juice are probably my picks for universally appealing colours. These apply pretty sheer but colour can be built up in several layers and the application is dreamy, smooth and slick without being waxy or overloaded in anyway. They have a great balm like texture and don't dry lips out. The deeper colours seem to last fairly well, though in my experience, the lighter, less pimented shades such as Pink Lemonade and Sugar Cookie seem to fade a bit quicker. Each colour is also flavoured to match it's name, so artifical fruity scents abound. If that's not your thing, then feel free to skip these but I think it's fun and I appreciate them all being different, not some universal plasticky wax yuckness. Super cheap, small but decent range of shades, lovely application, decent colour pay off (for the most part) and fairly moisturizing... what's not to love? Well, here goes... The down side - while these are very small, which makes them great if you have very limited space, they contain less than 2g of product. Which is fine for the price they are, don't get me wrong, but most other lipsticks are usually about 3.5 - 4g minimum and glosses are usually 5mL plus so it's just something to keep in mind. Still great value considering the price but if you re-apply them often, you will go through them much faster than a regular sized lipstick or gloss tube, so be prepared to accept that. The tubes are colour coded to match the stick colour but the lids are clear so you can see the worn down stub of product, which is never my favourite thing. But this is worse - the stick does not wind down fully into the tube so you risk nicking the top and sides if you're not super careful about removing and replacing the lid. Which kind of defeats the whole grab-and-go-glossy kind of vibe they have going on and if you're in a rush or not super precise, then you risk making a mess and/or wasting product, which is always disappointing. If you have pigmiented lips, then shades like Fresh Melon and Cotton Candy aren't going to show up very well, if at all but they do add a nice shine and feel, so if you're happy with that, then go for it. Overall, I have 6 or 7 of these and I enjoy them very much!
There are reasons I don't bother buying MAC lipsticks any more. NYX Black Label and these new Milani Color Statement lipsticks are 2 of them. I ordered three of these off Cherry Culture sight unseen (NYX and Milani are not available as retail here in NZ, MAC is $40+ and even Revlon or L'Oreal are $22+ for lipsticks, so less than $6US a pop is more than affordable :-) and I am very, very impressed. The tubes are sleek and elegant, plain gold with a slightly darker, etched Milani logo down one side of the cap. There is a coloured coded plastic lucite tab on one end, along with the name and lipstick number in decent sized print. Nothing cheap or tacky looking about these babies! The formula is quite thin but still lush to apply, not what I'd call creamy but they do have a little slip to them. Best impact and lasting power when applied directly onto clean, dry lips (no balm first) and I do not find them drying in the slightest, which was a nice surprise. They do smell like artificial watermelon lollies when first applied but it fades quickly and I don't mind it so much. Lasting power is great, plenty of pigment left after a coffee though somewhat faded after lunch, so I usually just slick some clear balm over and it still looks mighty fine, with a good stain of colour left. Which is fairly remarkable, given that these are not specifically touted as super long lasting (cough, L'Oreal Infallible, cough)... Not a hint of feathering or bleeding either, though I don't tend to have much issue with that anyway. I have three colours so far (with more on the To Get List!), Plumrose is a lovely, wearable, medium, plummy pink cream, would suit both warm and cool tones. Teddy Bare is a soft brown (with a hint of pink) beige, not too peachy or orange. Makes a great nude lip for me. Uptown Mauve is more magenta that mauve, a vivid, blue based cream (easily blotted to matte), almost neon but not quite, a lovely deep, shocking purpley pink. So... dirt cheap, super duper pigmented, nice to use, long lasting, not drying and classy looking packaging. Ticks ALL the boxes for me! EDIT: Ordered Rose Amour: cool, Barbie pink cream, (not a great colour for me unfortunately, but thems the breaks), Fruit Punch: a yummy medium coral pink, Nude Cream: a whisper soft pale pinky beige and Naturally Chic: a lovely and very flattering russet based natural.
Moisturizers -Shiseido - Benefiance Intensive Nourishing and Recovery Cream
Embeth3 2/3/2013 7:45:00 PM
I have already bought my second jar. If you need intensive hydration, this is very effective. If you have normal or oily skin, you might want to skip it because this is really rich, but YMMV. A luxuriously textured pale yellow cream, this is lightly fragranced with something suitably exotic but not overpowering. It applies smoothly and evenly, unlike some of the Estee Lauder Resilience creams I've sampled, but it does take absolutely ages to completely absorb. I usually only use it as a night cream so this isn't a problem for me, but if you want to apply makeup over it, I'd recommend waiting a good while for it to sink it. All depends on how dry your skin is I suppose, but I find it leaves a slightly filmy (but not unpleasant) feeling for at least an hour after application. It's not heavy as such, just very rich and emollient. I get particularly dry and flaky around my chin but this has banished all those pesky dry patches and leaves me smooth and even toned with nicely plumped up skin in the morning. It doesn't irritate inflamed spots either. Really, really great for nourishing and soothing excessively dry skin. Recommended!
Gels/Soaps -Dr. Bronner's - dr bronners assorted scented castille soaps
Embeth3 1/26/2013 7:41:00 PM
Crazy pseudo religious rambling and excessive use of exclamtion marks on the labelling aside, these soaps are truly excellent. I use both the bar and liquid forms, I have tried a variety of the different frangrances and lavender is my favourite. The almond and peppermint are also lovely, citrus and rose are so-so for me and I tend to steer clear of the eucalyptus because I find it overpowering (it is good for getting sticky labels off things though). Bars - big chunky rectangles of rich lathery goodness. I use these in the shower, they are not too drying but have quite a high pH so you may want to be a little careful not to use them excessively on (ahem) delicate areas but they are great for general all over cleaning. I have used both the lavender and almond very sparingly on my face without any problems but mostly I stick to a separate facial cleanser. They don't get as gummy and gross as other bar soaps so I let them drain dry and then just pop them back in the paper packet for next time. Also great for cleaning makeup brushes, just dampen the brush, swirl directly onto the soap bar and use your hands to massage the gunk out of the bristles. Rinse, repeat as required. I don't know why, but as awesome as the bar soaps are for this, the liquid versions don't seem to work as well. Liquid castile - fabulous for household purposes. I dilute them down and use as a spray and wipe type surface cleaner, it doesn't leave any streaky residue or require rinsing, though I guess it depends on what your dilution ratio is. Use directly on stained clothing, I have successfuly removed a variety of stain types, including blood, grass marks, ink and most recently, spicy curry sauce on a white polka dotted dress (because Im a total klutz apparently), just apply directly and rub in gently before washing as normal (with the appropriate water temperature for whatever the stain is of course.) I have also used as a laundry detergent for delicate and hand wash only items, usually I dont even bother to rinse afterwards because there is nothing in the soap that will irritate my skin and why spend longer doing the washing than you have to? I have used on merino wool, cotton, polyester and a silk rayon blend without any issues. That said, as wonderful as I think these are, there is no way in Hades I would use them to wash my hair or as a toothpaste replacement, though I did use a bit once to spot wash a very dirty and reluctant cat, which was reasonably effective but as about as much fun for everyone involved as it sounds. Still, the kitty ended up (mostly) clean without any chemical residues remaining on his lovely fur coat and I ended up with a handy antiseptic wash for several well deserved scratches. I keep a little 50mL bottle in my toiletry bag when I travel, it comes in surprisingly handy for a variety of things, not just as a body wash. Overall, great soaps with multiple uses, instructions for societical realignment and spiritual nirvana nothwithstanding. But whatever floats your boat., Dr Bronner.
This is far and away one of the most unusual polishes I own (and I have a LOT). It's a very small bottle, about 5mL but it was fairly cheap so no complaints about the price. The brush is a little small for my liking, the fibres are quite thin but the polish is also on the thin side and it flows very well. I had no problems applying it evenly, so looks can be deceiving! This polish is utterly mesmerizing - in the bottle, it looks to be a rich indigo with coppery red micro shimmer. When applied, it takes on different reflects, depending on the light - I can get deep forest green, olive, bronzey brown, copper, red and purple. It's almost has holographic qualities but is infinitely more interesting! The formula itself is quite sheer (otherwise you'd lose some of the impact of the shimmer/reflects I guess) so I like to layer this over a base colour - black, navy, blue, purple and deep pink all work well, I am going to try red next... I only need one coat and it doesn't absolutely require a top coat either, which is great. The wear is surprisingly good, better than my usual manicure lifespan (my nails get a real bashing) so that's an added bonus. To summarise, very unusual colour/s, great application, lasts really well and is reasonably cheap - total winner in my book!
Palettes -NYX - 10 Color Eyeshadow Palette - Mysterious Brown Eyes
Embeth3 12/17/2012 6:34:00 PM
I really, really like this palette. First up, NYX isn't available retail in NZ so I had to order it in. It was pretty cheap compared to domestic "drugstore" prices (where even a Maybelline or Revlon quad sets you back about $25+) so I wasn't expecting it to be on par with Dior or Guerlain or anything but I was pleasantly surprised at the quality and consistency of the shadows. Top row, left to right... First is a lovely satiny chocolate brown, great colour payoff and very smooth to apply. Next is a bit of a weird one, it's a nudey sort of caramel colour with bits of pink iridescent glitter in. I was initially a bit like, whaa? when I saw it but it has grown on me. It blends well with my skin tone and the glitter bits aren't super obvious once applied so it;s a good wash for overall lid colour and something a little bit different, which I always appreciate. Next is a pretty standard soft peachy shimmer, great for highlighting, hard to go wrong with. Then a slightly sheer pearly ivory, again good for highlighting. Last in the top row is a pale lavender with silver bits of glitter. I'm not so keen on this one, it's a bit chalky and powdery and the colour payoff isn't as good as the others. Bottom row, l to r again. Oh, I LOVE this smutty kind of taupey purple! If anyone knows if this shade is available as a single, please tell me and I will adore you forever because this is gorgeous. A medium/deep smoky satin purple with soft shimmer and great pigmentation. I'd easily pay the price of the palette alone for just this colour! Next up is an eye popping acid kelly green - I have only swatched this so far and haven't applied it on the eye but I have high hopes for it being decently pigmented and vibrant without having to layer it a million times. It does seem a bit random compared with the other light/neutral shades (maybe that's the "mysterious" part, I dunno!) but I also don't have anything quite like it in my stash so I don't mind it. Next along, we have a toasty champagne gold, then a matte cocoa brown, great for the crease or defining the lash line. Last up is a soft, pale yellow gold, this one is also a tiny bit powdery and softer then the others. I don't love it but I don't hate it either. So, overall, there are six out of ten colours than I really enjoy and will use frequently, three that I will probably dabble with occasionally and I doubt I will touch the light glittery purple but that still fairly good odds for a palette with this range of shades. The compact is very slim and tidy, with a decent mirror so easy to pack if travelling and you'll be able to do a variety of looks with it as well. Thumbs up from me!
Mascara -Shiseido - Perfect Mascara Defining Volume
Embeth3 12/3/2012 7:59:00 PM
So, I got this as part of a GWP so I didn't buy it but I'm seriously considering doing so once my baby 2mL tube runs out. The product is great but it has a couple of drawbacks as well... The Good... Good pigmentation, does not smudge, smear or flake, dries fast and holds a curl better than ANYTHING else I've ever used. Lasts all day too. I haven't had any problems getting it off with either Dr Bronners bar soap, Jack Black facial cleanser or Shiseido Extra Creamy cleansing foam and I notice a lot of previous reviewers have commented on the scent - I haven't experienced anything like that but I haven't sniffed the tube as such, so YMMV. The Bad... The brush is not my favourite, it's a tad too long for my liking and I suspect it may be that mine is a much smaller/sample size but it comes out with WAYYYYYY too much product on it, meaning you have to wipe the excess off with a tissue every second go or so. Because of this, it applies clumpily and necessitates a few swipes with a clean spoolie brush to even out the application and get rid of the dastardly clumps. I only ever apply a single coat but I'm thinking that it wouldn't layer that well... Also, a major waste of product, which kind of annoys me. Hopefully, the full size tube doesn't have this issue but it's about the only thing holding me back from repurchasing right away...
This is the most perfect neutral pale pink creme EVER (for me). It's a hard colour to describe with complete accuracy, I can see lilacky-grey tones in there but I don't think it's particularly cool toned, there's enough peachy warmth there to balance it out. "Dirty Bridesmaid" is indeed an appropriate description, LOL. I intend to wear this on my wedding day too! Definitely needs 2 coats to give perfect, even coverage, my first coat always lo like a streaky mess but a thicker second coat looks immaculate. I apply over Seche Vite Base (the pearly white one) and use Seche top coat and it lasts incredibly well on me. Definitely a winner for me!
I know I'm juvenile but I LOVE the way these smell like grape lollies. Artificial fruit scent, FTW :-) That said, these are excellent. Smooth, creamy to apply, not too much slip, very pigmented and long lasting with a fairly even fade. They have a very light texture despite their creaminess and feel quite moisturizing, though I am obsessive about my lip balm application so YMMV. The packaging in bulkier than I'd like, but pretty cute, a metallic charcoal grey tube with an adorable fine black lacy pattern around the lid. The end of the tube has a little plastic covered colour indicator and the top of the tube has the sticker with the name on it, so it doesn't matter which way up you store these, you can always see what colour you want. Shades so far... Bling, which is a warm peachy pink nude shade Diva, a medium neutral mauve with brown tones. Tea in Afternoon, a deep mauve rose with purple tones. Cinnamon, a lovely lush gold shimmered red, slightly sheer. A favourite of mine! Jaipur, a deep plummy wine with light frost. Midnight Dinner and Socialite are almost identical, both rich red toned berry creams, Socialite is a tad cooler, Midnight Dinner a touch brighter (you don't need both!) Volcano, gorgeous orange red with light gold shimmer, very wearable. Sweet Prawn, a vivid yellow based medium pink. Strawberry Shortcake, a softly frosted baby bubblegum pink. Hot Tamale, bright coral cream. Heiress, a very cool lavender pink cream. Poem, a very cool, blue based lollipop pink. Rose, medium rich rose pink with lots of silver shimmer. Dusty Rose, the slightly mauvey almost neutral, MLBB. Also a favourite! Off The Beaten Path, a vibrant, creamy red toned deep coral. I paid about $12 or $13NZD from Crush Cosmetics (plus shipping) in Australia and considering even a Revlon or L'Oreal lipstick is easily upwards of $20, these are an absolute steal. Or even cheaper on Cherry Culture, they're about $6US there, which even with the exchange rate and shipping is still really affordable. Highly recommended.
LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE this. Sunrise is an amazing blush, hugely pigmented with a dense, satiny texture so you only need a smidge to apply, not powdery at all and it lasts all day. Generous 8 grams of product in a very sleek (ha!) compact, it was a bit fiddly to open the first time but is fine now, sturdy and robust, easy to stack and doesn't take up too much space. It looks deceptively brown in the pan, a deep, rich red based russet colour (like autumn in compact form!) but it applies this utterly lovely rosy bronze shimmer. It pulls quite pink on me but if you had cool or neutral undertones, I'm guessing it could look a little browner. Would look stunning on deeper skin tones too. Don't let pictures of the pan scare you, the swatch provided on line also doesn't look anything remotely how it appears on, this is simply stunning. I have well over a hundred blushes, including NARS, MAC and Dior, etc and this is hands down, my new favourite. Granted, I've only had it for just over a week but it just blows everything else out of the water for me. Awesome.