Beauty Pick: Top 5 Mascaras

Mascaras are one of the most difficult things to buy. Unlike a blush or eyeshadow, you can’t simply pick one up and purchase without testing. Even if you do test them, it can be hard to tell if they are doing anything for your lashes.
I do admit I am picky when it comes to mascaras. I need to know that they will wear well, don’t smudge, hold the curl and yet thicken and lengthen my lashes at the same time. Also, I need any new mascara to play well with others as I often layer up to three on the same eyelashes. Beauty gurus out there, I know you feel me!
So after the dozens of mascaras I’ve been through, I have rounded up the 5 best ones that work especially well for voluminising and lengthening lashes. I haven’t yet found a perfect mascara that holds the curl for more than 4 hours, so I’ll keep you posted on that!

Note: these mascaras aren’t in order of preference.beauty pick: mascaras

1. Bobbi Brown Smokey Eye Mascara

This new discovery has quickly become one of my faves! The thicker brush means that mascara voluminises lashes in one swipe, meaning you don’t have to apply multiple coats. It is also very black and does not flake/smudge even after a good 10 hours of wear.

The only thing is that it can clump lashes together so I have to use a skinny brush to comb them out (as I apply a few coats) but if you only apply one coat it should be fine!

Repurchased? No, still on my first tube.

2. Chanel Inimitable Intense Mascara

Aside from Bobbi, Chanel is one of my favourite luxury makeup brands. I know I say this for a lot of different products, but they do many products consistently well. One of these fantastic products is the Inimitable Intense in Noir.

I was a convert early on quite a few years ago when the original Inimitable was introduced. What I LOVE about it is the brush shape, which is rare amongst most mascaras.

The conical shape gets every lash and makes sure there are absolutely no clumps. It doesn’t smudge a bit yet gives a really lush black appearance to lashes. I zigzag the wand when I use it and it boosts the volume as well as length.

No complaints, I love it!

Repurchased? Not the Intense version but I have owned the original Inimitable.

3. Maybelline Volum’ Express The Falsies Mascara

The fluffy, curved brush (apparently a patented Spoon Brush design) takes some getting used to but it really does give you the false lash look in just a few swipes.

It’s also available in Waterproof but I didn’t buy that as waterproof mascaras usually dry out my lashes. This is probably one of the best drugstore options out there along with Covergirl Lash Blast (an old fave). My lashes are noticeably thicker and blacker when I have The Falsies on.

Repurchased? No, I want to test out other drugstore versions. Also, I have so many mascaras I’m trying to use up…

4. Tarte Amazonian Clay Smart Mascara

The best feature of this mascara is its lash regenerating ability. Whenever I use it for a prolonged period (>2 weeks daily) I notice my lashes are stronger, don’t fall out as much and are slightly thicker. They’re also blacker and glossier.

It’s also super comfortable to apply and wear; no clumps whatsoever and it lengthens/thickens my lashes easily. Only complaint is that I apply so many coats that the curl doesn’t hold up for long!

Repurchased? Yes, twice already! (Partly because it’s not available in Australia)

5. Koji Dolly Wink Black Mascara

I purchased this for the first time from Watsons in Takashimaya Singapore, as they were having a special deal (mascara + pencil eyeliner for $21 I believe).

It’s not one I instinctively reach for though, but it is a pretty good mascara. It lengthens more than thickens, and is totally clump free. In fact, I use this mascara to declump my Bobbi Brown Smokey Eye mascara.

The skinny brush makes it easy to apply each lash, even the bottom ones, and is a nice everyday mascara.

Repurchased? Nope.

Mascaras I don’t like:

Just because we’re on this subject, the mascaras I have tried and disliked include:

Dior DiorShow – The XXL brush is way too large for my eyes and I feel it didn’t thicken/lengthen my lashes whatsoever.. Don’t understand the hype at all!

Benefit Bad Gal – Again, an unremarkable mascara that doesn’t deserve cult status (too natural looking and smudges!)

NYX Faux Lashes Boudoir – Unsure of why I even purchased this (from Asos). It clumps and smudges too easily…

Revlon Grow Luscious – I purchased this as it had Jessica Biel as the spokesmodel. Unfortunately a bad buy! It was too natural looking and didn’t ‘grow’ my lashes at all.

Stila Stay All Day – Umm, stay all day it did NOT! I remember wearing this to Disneyland two years ago and it totally smudged after a mere 2 hours. I constantly had to touch up in the restrooms which was a pain!

P.S I threw it away after the second day.

 

OK, enough ranting. Hope you enjoyed!

6 of the best bronzers

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Bronzers are essential makeup items for most people as they have the ability to liven up a dull complexion and impart that healthy, sunkissed glow most of us aren’t born with. For me, bronzer is perfect for adding colour back into the face after applying foundation and powder and for evening out any noticeable difference in colour between the neck and face.

But not all bronzers are made alike. There are 3 things I need in a bronzer: it needs to be matte, non-orangey and not too dark or light. The best bronzer on me is usually a medium toned brown with minimal orange undertones.

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A natural purple/plum look

I love wearing purple on the eyes, lips and cheeks- I feel like it really suits my skintone, especially during the fall/autumn. Now that autumn is ending though, I thought I would better hurry and get in a pic of my makeup of the day!

I will post a purple spring look too but for now here it is!

Taken with my iPhone:

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Taken with my digital camera:

 

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Makeup used:

Eyes
Maybelline Colour Tattoo Cream Shadow in Tough as Taupe
Bobbi Brown Black Ruby Sparkle Eye Palette
The Face Shop Face It Auto Gel Eyeliner
Chanel Imitable Intense Mascara

Face
Chantecaille Future Skin Foundation in Vanilla
Korres Zea Mays Blush in Purple
Clarins Duo Soleil in Bright Sun

Lips
Shiseido Lacquer Rouge in RS312

Haul: Becca Cosmetics

BECCA Cosmetics is one of my favourite higher end makeup brands. I just love everything about it, from its sleek aesthetic to the models they pick for their campaigns and the way their makeup looks on the skin – natural, polished and classy.

Plus, it’s an Australian brand :)

So when I saw they had sale a couple of weeks ago, how could I resist? (The sale is still on – check it out here) My only gripe with the products I received is that they weren’t in tip top condition – e.g. the creme blush was dented in one area and the lip glosses in the palette had moisture beads on them which I found quite odd.

But anyway, here’s what I bought:

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Sorry about the poor image quality! I’m looking at investing in better lighting equipment at the moment because nothing annoys me more than poorly lit/fuzzy photos! Read on for my haul…

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Roundup of best eyebrow kits

I’ve been obsessed with brow grooming lately, more so than usual. I don’t feel complete without a neat, but not perfectly shaped, brow. It’s a complex art, I know… you want to avoid that dreadful tattooed on brow look where the eyebrow is thin, overplucked and flat. You also want to avoid filling in your brows with a colour that doesn’t match your natural hair. What you want are natural and healthy looking eyebrows that frame your face and imparts an air of confidence and intelligence.

Okay, so that might sound a bit far fetched, but the basic idea is that a good eyebrow polishes off your entire look. You can have a perfectly made up face but if your eyebrows are sparse, patchy or light, it will throw the whole look off.

Case in point – Olivia Wilde in 2003 (Image from Allure magazine June 2013 issue)

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… and now:

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With this in mind, I’m going to present an eyebrow kit roundup – including some I have tried and some that have just caught my eye.

1. Bobbi Brown Dark Brown Brow Kit ($90)

Bobbi Brown Dark Brow Kit

What it comes with: two powder eyeshadows, mini tweezers and mini brow brush. The dark brow kit version includes Saddle and Mahogany shadows (Saddle is my personal favourite). You can find this at the Bobbi Brown website or at Myer/David Jones.

What I like about this: The mirror on the underside of the lid swings out to reveal a magnifying mirror behind! Also, the eyeshadows are high quality and looks very natural.

What I don’t like about this: The price – I get more than just a few raised eyebrows when I tell customers how much it costs…

2. Lunasol Brow Styling Compact

Lunasol brow styling compact

I’m not sure what the price is, it wasn’t on the Lunasol website but it’s one of the higher end Japanese brands. It comes with 4 powder eyebrow shades, a dual ended brow brush and an eyeshadow applicator. Four colours seems a little excessive for an eyebrow, but the pale ivory shade is supposed to highlight the browbone while the other 3 colours are supposed to fill in the brow with a 3D “gradating effect”.

What I like about this: The lighter shades can be used as eyeshadows.

What I don’t like about this: Too many shades!

3. Benefit Brow Zings (US$30 but probably more in Australia)

Benefit Brow Zings

This little kit comes with a brown wax to keep hairs in place, and a powder to fill and set eyebrows. There are also tweezers, a hard angle brow brush and a blending brush.

What I like about this: It comes with wax!

What I don’t like: I would have preferred a spoolie brush instead of a blending brush to comb through the hairs.

4. Urban Decay Brow Box (US$29)

Urban Decay brow box

Urban Decay’s version is a purple plastic case with a metallic cover. Inside, it comes with 2 powder eyebrow shades, wax, tweezers, 2 angled brow brushes and 2 mirrors.

What I like about this: A lot of things! The fact that it comes with wax and has 2 mirrors (one is magnifying) as well as the cute packaging.

What I don’t like: It can be a little bulky. It fits into the palm of your hand, yes, but it’s rather tall!

Note: This brand isn’t available in Australia but there are sites such as beautybay.com that will ship to Australia :)

5. Sephora Eyebrow Editor Complete Brow Kit (US$19)

Sephora Eyebrow Editor

I love the design of this one! It comes with 2 brow powders, setting wax, tweezer, spoolie brush and angled brow brush. It also comes in shades for light, medium and dark hair.

What I like about this: It’s an all in one kit with the perfect type of brushes that I like to use.

What I don’t: If the eyebrow powder is too powdery or doesn’t last, if the wax is too shiny, and if the angle brush isn’t stiff enough. (These are all if’s though, as I haven’t tried it!)

6. Too Faced Brow Envy Brow Shaping & Defining Kit (US$35)

Too faced brow envy

Wow… This kit is like the ultimate dream for any brow-obsessed individual! It contains wax, 2 brow powders in Blonde and Brunette, a highlighter shade, tweezers, 2 brushes, 3 stencils, a brow pencil (dark brown) and a step by step guide.

What I like about it: It’s a pretty indulgent brow experience, and I love the little pullout drawer. Perfect for displaying on the dresser! Also, the highlight is a nice touch.

What I don’t: It’s a one size fits all kit, there are no specific editions for dark haired girls and light haired girls. I also wouldn’t use the stencils as I have mine shaped professionally. Also it’s bulky and not good for travel, but I don’t think this is made for travel anyway :)

7. Milani Brow Fix ($13.95 from CrushCosmetics.com.au)

Milani brow fix

 

According to the Crush Cosmetics website, this comes with 7 essential tools: “Straight edged tweezers, slanted brow filler brush, brow bone sponge applicator, 3X magnifying mirror, brow bone highlighter and two tone-on-tone powders (light & dark) to fill and shape brows”.

What I like about this: It has a stand up applicator holder that’s so cute! Also, the price is great!

What I don’t: The darkest version looks like it would be too light for my eyebrows, plus I don’t really like sponge tipped applicators. The packaging also looks cheap (it is a drugstore brand anyway, so I can’t really hold that against Milani).

8. Face Shop Face It Designing Cake Eyebrow 

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Again I’m not sure how much this is as it wasn’t online, but there is a store in the Perth CBD (and one in Melbourne Central) in case anyone wants to know… Anyway, it comes with 2 powders, a spoolie and an angled brush. Nothing too special but just the basics.

What I like about this: A nice basic kit for those who don’t want to mess around with wax if they’re in a hurry. Also, the Face Shop is generally quite affordable (my thoughts are that this set is below $25)

What I don’t like about this: No wax, although that isn’t really a big deal.

9. Le Sourcil de Chanel ($49)

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I’m surprised at the price – not bad, considering it’s Chanel! It comes with 3 powders, an angled brush, a flat spoolie and tweezers.

What I like about this: The packaging and the fact that it comes with a magnifying mirror. Also, the powders are mineral pigments.

What I don’t: From the picture it seems as if the third shade has a green tinge, which I don’t particularly like. Maybe it’s different in real life?

10. Lancome Le Regard Pro Eye Brow Expertise Kit

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This actually looks a lot nicer than the Chanel kit! It comes with 4 powders (one is a highlight shade), tweezers and a double ended applicator.

What I like about this: It’s really sleek and slim, packaging is a major plus point. Also, the tweezers are actually full size, and from the reviews I have read so far, the tweezers perform quite well. The double ended brush is also a great idea and the flat brush side can be used to apply eyeshadow.

What I don’t: I probably won’t have much use for the third shade, which is more suited to blondes, but it could be easily used as a matte eyeshadow. Also, the darkest shade may not be dark enough for me (I have black hair).

 

So.. which brow kit will you pick? Or will you stick with the good old brow pencil?

 

Haul + Swatches: Bite Beauty, Chanel + Wanderlove

 

 

Sunday night is always associated with pre-Monday blues, and the realisation that yet another weekend has gone by so quickly. I spent Saturday at a friend’s house watching the last few episodes of Revenge and Sunday hitting the shops. I’ll show you what I bought later on in this post, but for the meantime here’s a recent haul that I made consisting largely of Bite Beauty products.

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4 favourite skincare products

After reading Allure’s Reader’s Choice Awards, I thought I’d share some of my favourite skincare products that have actually worked for me over the years.

4 fave skincare products

Cleanser

Fresh Soy Face Cleanser, US$15 for 50ml (not available in Australia – I bought it at a Sephora in San Francisco)

This product is non-soapy and gentle on the skin, as it contains soy proteins, rosewater, cucumber and borage seed oils. The texture and the fragrance-free formula reminds me of Cetaphil. It doesn’t remove eye makeup but does do a good job of gently cleansing the face without making it feel tight or shiny. However, and you should take note – I just found out that it contains parabens (7 different types). This doesn’t bother me a whole lot as they are simply preservatives and are found in shampoos, makeup and food, but those that have dermatitis/roseacea should perhaps avoid this product as parabens can irritate the condition. However there has been no conclusive evidence that parabens contribute to cancer/life-threatening diseases. Just thought I’d let you know :)

Runner up: Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser, $11.95 at Priceline.

Exfoliator

Clinique 7 day scrub cream, $47 for 100ml or Clarisonic Mia, $111.

I like this particular exfoliator because it’s relatively gently on the skin yet the micro-beads are large enough to remove dirt from pores. I don’t use this for 7 days straight as it tends to make my nose flake, but used 3 times a week it works just fine. I have to point out I haven’t used many exfoliators and so don’t know the “best ones” out there. I alternate between this scrub and my Clarisonic Mia (I don’t use them together).

Runner up: Mary Kay Microdermabrasion, $66 for the set.

Toner

SKII Facial Treatment Clear Lotion, $85 for 150ml.

This product was rated 4.2 out of 5 lippies on Makeup Alley, and I have to say I agree with them. This toner feels so lovely on the face and unlike other toners, doesn’t smell and doesn’t make the skin feel taut. It contains AHA, which has anti-ageing properties as it penetrates the dead surface cells of the skin, sloughing them off  and exposing newer skin below. I’ve heard controversial things about AHA too, but that’s another story..

After consistent use (every night for 3 weeks) I’ve started to see a slight brightening in my complexion and there is no longer redness on the cheeks. However, I ran out last week and now the redness is creeping back :(

Runner up: Witch hazel

Moisturiser

Bobbi Brown Hydrating Gel Cream, $82 for 50ml

This is my summer moisturiser and I really like it – it has tropical grass extract and Vitamin E for hydration and anti-oxidant protection against environmental damage. However, the main reason why I’m a fan is because it is easily absorbed into the skin, meaning I don’t have to wait around for it to be absorbed in the morning before applying makeup. Pricey, but lasts forever. The jar also looks nice on my vanity :)

For winter, I recommend Bobbi Brown’s EXTRA Repair Moisturising Balm. It smells heavenly (like you’re in a spa) and its super-rich, thick formula ensures dry skin stays hydrated in winter. But it’s definitely too thick for summer in my opinion.

Runner up: Chanel Hydra Beauty Gel Cream, around $100 (?).

Hope you enjoyed my skincare rec’s! I’ll be doing one on my fave makeup products for eyes, lips and face next week!

Touch-ups at work

When I’m at work, I can feel a little ‘blah’ sometimes so I like to keep a touch up station nearby.

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Above, I have my Neutrogena hand cream, which does wonders for dry and chapped skin. I’ve never experienced a texture like that before in hand creams – it’s white but spreads balm-like and doesn’t feel greasy at all!

I also like to spritz myself with some green tea and grapefruit and cedar body spray, from Bench (a Philippines brand that is only found in the Philippines and the US unfortunately). The scent is so fresh, with a peppery/woodsy hint. i haven’t smelt anything like this before. Love it!

And then I have my trusty Maybelline Baby Lips in Protecting Berry, a NYC limited edition. I have around 3-4 tubes of Baby Lips and leave them everywhere, from home to work to the car and handbag…

Lastly, my pressed powder – Chanel Natural Finish Pressed Powder in Peche. I never leave the home without this, ever. I apply powder intermittently throughout the day with the Too Faced Flatbuki brush (once part of The Bronzed & the Beautiful set).

I have a few more ‘essentials’ stowed in my drawer, such as Panadol, a brown eyeshadow quad and a couple of brushes) but they’re nothing special.

Hope everyone had a great valentine’s day yesterday! I already went to Sydney last week for an early V-Day present, so we kind of kept it low-key yesterday with a homecooked meal (I made my boyfriend sushi).