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Off-Duty Beauty: The Minimal Makeup Menu

24 November 2017

I've always favoured a minimal, 'no makeup' makeup kind of look, but after being hit by a bout of pesky blemishes (thanks hormones xx), I was reaching for any and every full-coverage base in my collection. On the daily, too. All this whilst lamenting my inability to follow along with all those ultra natural/dewy skin/I'm-only-wearing-tinted-moisturiser-because-my-skin-as-well-as-my-existence-are-flawless makeup tutorials. 

Thankfully, my skin has since improved somewhat, and it's given me the confidence to go foundation free. Not that your skin needs to be in a certain condition for you to go foundation free. I'm just not in a stage of my life where I feel totally and utterly confident and fabulous about myself and the little friends that sometimes like to hang out on my face. Not yet, anyway.

When time is of the essence, I like to use something multi-tasking like the Smashbox Photo Finish Primerizer. The name says it all - it's a priming and moisturising base that has everyone's apparent favourite, hyaluronic acid, as well as niacinamide to plump and help restore the skin. This has a very milky, thin consistency and leaves my face feeling hydrated and smooth - probably thanks to the silicones. If I'm feeling fancy, I'll spritz my face with a mist of some sort, like the MAC Prep & Prime Fix +, which I've been trying to use up for ages.

If I'm doing this makeup during the daytime, I'll pop a sunscreen over the top. At first, I was a little unsure about the order of application because primers typically go directly underneath coverage products, but the thought of putting skincare ingredients on top of a physical sunscreen like the Kypris Heliotropic: Pot of Shade SPF30+ just seems odd. Of course, this wouldn't be an issue if the Smashbox primer had SPF in it but I suppose it's not unforgivable.

Next up is concealer. I have a few different kinds on rotation at the moment. Pictured is the NARS Soft Matte Complete Concealer which has decent coverage and is great to tap on with fingers if you're in a pinch, but I've also been using the Glossier Stretch Concealer and the BY TERRY Stylo Expert Click StickWhen I have more than 3 minutes to do my makeup, I'll use a cream or powder bronzer to give my face some semblance of dimension. I just added the RMS Beauty Buriti Bronzer to my collection and I'm loving the tone of it so far. I don't have the oiliest of complexions, but I definitely need to set my makeup with a powder. Right now, I'm using the Glossier Wowder which is not the heaviest duty powder around, but I would happily trade in long-lasting shine control for a powder that looks natural on the skin. I use the Wayne Goss Airbrush to powder. The Airbrush is just as soft as everyone says it is. I'm borderline obsessed. I own two and will most probably order the new rose gold version that has just come out because it's pink and rose gold and all sorts of beautiful. Drool. 

At this point of the routine, I might mist my face again.

Some days, I'll fill in my brows with something like the Kevyn Aucoin Precision Brow Pencil, but other days I'll go straight in with the Glossier Boy Brow. I have it in 'Black', so I find that it can give my brows enough colour and texture to use on its own if I'm feeling lazy. If, however, I am not feeling lazy, I might put on some eyeshadow, by way of the BY TERRY Ombre Blackstar in 'Bronze Moon', which is everyone's favourite cream eyeshadow stick for a reason. I take back what I said about using this when I'm not feeling lazy, though, as this is precisely the product to use when one is feeling lazy. What's not to love about a glitzy, multidimensional bronze that glides on like butter then sets and becomes budge-proof? 

For the lips, the Glossier Generation G in 'Crush' is where it's at for me. I'm a big fan of sheer lipsticks, matte formulas, and raspberry shades, and this ingenious lip product just happens to be all three of those things! Amazing! Totally not a coincidence!

NARS Soft Matte Complete Concealer 'Custard' / RMS Beauty Buriti Bronzer / BY TERRY Ombre Blackstar 'Bronze Moon' / Glossier Generation G 'Crush'

The Nudestix #BabeBoss Faves Boss

15 June 2017

Nudestix recently released the #BabeBoss Faves Box, a collection of six lip pencils that come from their existing range, five of which were chosen by influencers (the other being chosen by Nudestix co-founders, Ally and Taylor Frankel). The box comes in at $59 USD which is phenomenal value considering each Nudestix pencil is $24 USD. Even though I already owned one of the shades, 'Pulse', I happily passed it on (you're welcome, Mum) and justified buying the set. 

The #BabeBoss Faves Box includes:

Sin Cream Lip + Cheek Pencil (chosen by Ally and Taylor Frankel) - a strawberry pink

Pulse Gel Color Lip + Cheek Balm (chosen by @sssamantha) - a mauve nude

Purity Intense Matte Lip + Cheek Pencil (chosen by @saythelees) - a soft pink nude

Stiletto Intense Matte Lip + Cheek Color (chosen by @iamkareno) - a hot red

Boho Magnetic Matte Lip Color (chosen by @lynettecynee) - a 90s brown nude

Burgundy Magnetic Matte Lip Color (chosen by @cydbee) - a plummy brick

Swatches L-R: Pulse / Sin / Purity / Stiletto / Burgundy / Boho

I'm really glad I purchased this set. I think the colours chosen would complement a wide range of skin tones, and they pretty much cover all bases: everyday neutrals, a bombshell red, and a deeper option just in case. I also think that Nudestix did a wonderful job at picking influencers with different skin tones. One of the problems I always seem to encounter with lip sets is that they'll include colours that are only flattering to one particular skin tone - usually light or light-medium skin. I mean, sure, I could wear a light baby pink nude, but would I want to? No.

All the shades are super creamy and richly pigmented, apart from Pulse, which has a sheer gel finish. My favourite formula is the Intense Matte one (Purity is my go-to), as it's the perfect balance between comfort and longevity. If you're after something with even more serious lasting power, you might like the Magnetic Matte formula, which acts like a liquid-to-matte lipstick - just in pencil form. The Karina of a few months ago who didn't have horrendously dry lips would have gravitated towards the Magnetic Mattes, but as of right now, they are a little too matte for me to wear on a daily basis.

If you're fairly new to Nudestix (like I am), or are just looking to add a bunch of great lip pencils to your collection, I think you'll really enjoy the #BabeBoss Faves Box. You can purchase it from the Nudestix website, from Sephora, or from Beautylish.

Kiehl's Cult Classics

20 February 2017

I've always been attracted to Kiehl's as a brand. I like that it started out as a pharmacy in New York. I like the apothecary-style branding and the fact that they mix natural actives with clinical formulations. I hadn't used their products in a while, though. Could I call myself a beauty blogger without having tried cult Kiehl's favourites? 

Well, yes. But I bought these anyway, didn't I?

First up, the Amino Acid Shampoo + Amino Acid Conditioner. Where have these BEEN all my life??? Do they KNOW how many years I've had to deal with dry/coarse/dry hair? If you also have dry/coarse/dry hair, I highly recommend giving this shampoo + conditioner duo a go. I mean, they cost a bit more than you might normally pay for something that washes straight down the drain, but my hair has honestly never felt so smooth. It's ultra-nourishing but surprisingly doesn't weigh my hair down, although I do have thick hair to begin with so I probably need all the hydration I can get. 

Cult status justified? Yep.

The Creme de Corps range of body creams has been talked about for ages. I've considered trying them for a while now but could never justify the price for something that you use everyday on such a large surface area. Out of all the Kiehl's products I've purchased, this one is the most indulgent in my opinion, only because there are body creams I like from a much lower price point. In saying that, the Creme de Corps Soy Milk & Honey Whipped Body Butter is divine. It smells amazing and is whipped to within an inch of its life, making it fluffy, moussey, and a pleasure to work into the skin. If you're not into body butters, they have cream/lotion alternatives, but I personally find the body butter to be less oily-feeling than the lotion.

A bit splurgey for a body butter, but still worth it in my opinion.

The Creamy Eye Treatment (with Avocado), otherwise known as the "Avocado Eye Cream" is a favourite amongst bloggers and vloggers, and I purchased it for exactly that reason. I've used this eye cream on and off since last August and while I do find it quite hydrating, I'm not too sure if it helps much with other eye concerns, though in all fairness, my eye area is probably the least of my worries. It's not particularly dry, puffy, or prone to milia. I do have some dark undereyes and little dehydration lines here and there, but I might not be the best test subject for eye creams as none have ever given me noticeable results. This one also has a bit of a strange texture. It's thick and creamy but manages to feel almost watery when you rub it in, before then feeling kind of greasy. It's...different. Not necessarily bad, but some might find it too much underneath their makeup. The pot will, however, last you ages. I've barely made a dent in mine.

Not a must-have for me, but it could be worth a try if hydration is what you're after.

The Midnight Recovery Concentrate has been raved about since I first started getting into beauty. It's by far one of the brand's most famous products, yet I've always been confused about what it is and what it does. Kiehl's describes it as an "replenishing elixir" that helps to "restore the appearance of skin by morning". It's basically a night oil. Now, the first time I used this, I remember my skin having a reaction to it. It made my skin red and itchy, like I had broken out in hives. I suspect it to be a result of the concentration of essential oils, including lavender oil, though I'm still undecided on whether I believe they're harmful to the skin. Who knows why I continued to use it after that first night, but I luckily haven't had that reaction since. I've been using it most nights for a good few months, and while I haven't seen a dramatic change in my skin, I think it does do something to it. My skin looks a little less red, a little less textured. My foundation doesn't look as patchy as it once used to. I can't say for certain that it was this and this alone that improved my skin, but it has probably contributed. My nightly skincare regimen is looking pretty short these days, but the Midnight Recovery Concentrate is one of the steps that I've retained. I mix it with my Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil and it seems to work well at keeping my skin balanced, minimising breakouts. 

The jury's still out on this one, mostly because I had a reaction to it initially, but it's definitely worth a try.

The Charlotte Tilbury Quick 'n' Easy Natural Glowing Look

24 January 2017

Charlotte Tilbury recently came out with four different pre-made sets, each pertaining to a specific "look". There's the Daytime Chic Look, the Red Carpet Party Look, the Smokey Eye Evening Look, and of course, the one I had to purchase: the Natural Glowing Look. She's named these sets "Quick 'n' Easy", with the premise being that you are able to create fast, simple looks from the products included in each of the sets.

Each look is housed in a PVC cosmetics case with Charlotte's signature lips print. It's a bit cheap-feeling but it's still kind of cute. They are priced at $100 AUD on the Charlotte Tilbury website, but I purchased mine for ~$75 AUD from Cult Beauty (price depends on the exchange rate).

The Quick 'n' Easy Natural Glowing Look contains:

  • Wonderglow 15ml - deluxe sample
  • Beach Stick in Moon Beach 6.5g - full size
  • Colour Chameleon in Amber Haze 1.6g - full size
  • Legendary Lashes 4ml - deluxe sample
  • Matte Revolution in Very Victoria 3.5g - full size

The Wonderglow Instant Soft-Focus Beauty Flash is a primer which Charlotte describes as her "Gisele filter". It's a silicone-based smoothing and blurring primer with detectable particles of gold shimmer. I was actually quite surprised by just how golden the shimmer is. I feel like these kinds of primers are usually more beige, champagne, or peachy in tone rather than an outright gold, but it ends up looking OK on my skin, especially after I applied foundation. I can't say it's the most revolutionary primer I've ever used, but I does give a soft-focus look to the skin like the name suggests. I probably wouldn't purchase the full size but I'm really happy to have this generous deluxe sample size, which contains just over a third of the full size.

Now, onto the Beach Stick Lip To Cheek Dewy Colour Pop in 'Moon Beach'. The shade is a nice peachy pink with golden shimmer but I'm sad to say, I don't understand this product at all. I mean, I understand the concept: a cream cheek/lip colour in a portable, effortless stick format—what's not to love, right? Wrong. It's dry and chunky. I'm not sure if I received a dud, but the product bunches and balls on itself when I try to swipe it onto the skin. I can't dab it on either because the formula is far too dry to deposit colour in that method, so I'm kind of in a doozy with this one. If someone has had a good experience with the Beach Sticks, let me know how you get it to work because I'd really like to know.

The Colour Chameleon in 'Amber Haze For Brown Eyes' might be my favourite thing from the set. It's a chubby cream eyeshadow pencil in this gorgeous amber bronze shade with multi-coloured shimmer—really pretty on the eyes. While it does bring out the brown in my eyes, it would definitely flatter all eye colours. The formula is soft and creamy but sets down to a budge-proof finish. If I'm being nitpicky, the formula sets down a tad too fast which means blending it isn't always the easiest, but for the purposes of it being a quick/easy/on-the-go product, it works well just messily smudging it with fingers. I would consider buying more of these.

I admittedly haven't tried the Legendary Lashes Mascara enough to have a well-formulated opinion on it, but that's because the first and only time I wore this, it smudged like crazy. I don't think it's entirely the fault of the mascara; there are many people out there who don't require their mascaras to be waterproof, but just in terms of my personal needs, Legendary Lashes is a no go for me. If it has any positive points, it's that it's super black and volumising and even kind of lengthening, but it loads too much product onto my lashes for them to benefit from it (and that's even after I've wiped the excess off onto a paper towel). Who might like this? Those with naturally curled lashes who are looking for dramatic volume and length. I like the traditional bristle wand, but I just wish the formula didn't give me major panda eyes.

The product I was most excited for was undoubtedly the Matte Revolution Lipstick in 'Very Victoria'. I've been wanting this shade ever since CT first released the Matte Revolution lipsticks but I've always been unsure about whether the shade would suit me. They describe it as a "suede taupe nude" but I see a lot of mauve to this shade. I like it, though. It's subtle yet chic, and does make you think of something VB might wear herself. Like I've said many times before, the Matte Revolution formula is one of my favourites. They're creamy but don't slip and slide around because they have a powdery quality to them. 

Swatches top to bottom: Moon Beach, Amber Haze, Very Victoria

The most impressive thing about these sets, by far, is the amazing value. According to my (hopefully accurate) calculations, the Natural Glowing Look is worth over $125 AUD. The thing that really pushed me over the line, though, was the inclusion of three full-sized products. The Natural Glowing Look is also objectively worth the most, as you're getting five items instead of the four you get in the other three sets.

I don't love every one of the products in the set, but I do still think it's worth purchasing if you're someone who loves Charlotte Tilbury and is yet to try certain products, or if you're new to the brand and wanting a more cost-effective way to try a selection of her products. It's great that you can also pick a set that suits your makeup style, and that these sets are a lot less expensive than others she offers in her line.

Disappointing Products 2016

21 January 2017

When you're buying and trying your fair share of makeup, there's bound to be a few products that—for whatever reasondon't quite meet your expectations. Whilst not all are inherently bad (I've heard plenty of good reviews for some of these), they are all products that didn't work for me in one way or another.

Caudalie Beauty Elixir
The only skincare item in this post, this raved-about facial mist (a Victoria Beckham favourite, apparently) smells way too herbal for my liking. To me, it smells like a mix of sugary raisins or prunes, and Chinese herbal medicine. The first and only time I used this, my brother sniffed the room and asked me if someone was sick. Obviously scents are down to personal preference, but if you're wanting to try a Caudalie mist, I would recommend trying the Grape Water. It smells faintly of fresh grapes so is much easier on the nose, plus it's super hydrating and more affordable, too.

Urban Decay Naked Skin Concealer in 'Medium-Dark Warm'
This is a weird one, because I've almost used up the entire tube of this. At first, I liked it because of the coverage, but in hindsight, I realised that the shade was way off. It's too orangey but is still probably the closest match for me from a poor shade range. As well as that, I find this concealer to be overpriced and kind of greasy-looking on the face. 

IT Cosmetics Bye-Bye Redness
If you've read my review of this corrector, you'll know that I didn't get on with this because of how it accentuates texture on the skin and only comes in one shade. The messy jar packaging is also a major downside.

BECCA x Jaclyn Hill Champagne Split in 'Amaretto/Prosecco Pop'
I didn't purchase the Champagne Collection Face Palette because I heard about how the texture of the highlights felt a little different to the permanent shades, but I really loved the look of the Amaretto blush shade. When I saw this blush/highlight duo, I felt like it'd be better suited to me as I'd get more use out of two products than of five. Although I still love the blush shade and wear it from time to time, I find it to be drier than their regular Mineral Blushes, which is usually one of my favourite blush formulas. Overall, it's still decent though. The highlight is what I have a real problem with. It's just kind of chunky and dry and isn't very kind to skin texture. I don't own a permanent highlighter from BECCA but I know that the formula in the Champagne Splits can't possibly be the same as their regular formula.

Swatched: BECCA Prosecco Pop | Maybelline The Blushes Nudes

Maybelline The Blushed Nudes
I suppose I knew this eyeshadow palette didn't have great pigmentation but I bought it anyway, perhaps thinking that I could make it work. Should we really have to make eyeshadows work, though? My answer is 'no'. I do love rosy, cool-toned shades, but not when they're wishy-washy like in this palette. Even though this is an affordable drugstore item (I bought it on sale, too) and isn't complete garbage, I still regret buying it because of how it doesn't get used.

ColourPop Creme Gel Liner
I have no qualms about the formula of this. It's creamy and smudge-proof. What I do have a problem with is the fact that every liner I've purchased from ColourPop, bar one, has snapped in half. Every. Single. One. ????? I like these but they're just too fragile to use. 

Lancome Juicy Shakers
OK, so in my original review, I gave these a neutral rating. After using them for a longer period of time, I've discovered that these dry out my lips. Horribly. As in, I now have a chronic dry patch on my lips that I didn't have before I used these. I initially thought something else was causing the dryness, but I realised that the dryness only got worse when I used one of the four (that's right, four) Juicy Shakers I purchased, and only got better when I ceased using them altogether. I'm obviously sad that I bought so many of these and still live in hope that one day I'll be able to use them again, but for now, they do nothing for me other than smell nice and fruity.

bareMinerals Pop Of Passion in 'Punch Pop'
I'm totally on board with the idea of a lip oil in stick form, but this tinted lip oil balm thing just gets it all wrong. It has too much pigment for a product of its oily nature, meaning it migrates. It also applies super patchily, catching onto every dry flake you have, which ain't a pretty look. Products like these are usually right up my alley, but sadly, not this time.

Swatched: Lancome Juicy Shakers | Charlotte Tilbury Miranda May | bareMinerals Punch Pop

Charlotte Tilbury Hot Lips Matte Revolution Lipstick in 'Miranda May'
"Karina doesn't like a CT lipstick? What's going on!?" What's going on is that this lipstick looks majorly patchy on the lips. I can't get it to look good at all, and believe me, I've tried. I guess if your lips were in perfect condition (not flaky but also not over-exfoliated), this might look good on you. Otherwise, for me, it's the worst performing CT lipstick I own. Love the bright, juicy, coral-watermelon shade (and the rest of my Matte Revolution Lipsticks), but not when it looks horrendous on the lips. Did I tell you it also has bits of silver glitter in it? Yeah...

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