Sunday, October 12, 2014

September Favourites

A very late September Favourites. For two weeks I was overseas on holiday, so the products featured here are essentially my top picks from what I packed in my makeup bag and what I bought in Japan.

DHC Deep Cleansing Oil
I've wanted to try this cleansing oil forever but it's not stocked locally and I wasn't tempted enough to order it online. It seemed a little bit cheaper than the various Shu Uemura cleansing oils, so I bought the 200ml bottle to try for just under $30. I don't know how different it is to literally just rubbing olive oil over your face, but it's become my makeup remover of choice to take my face off at the end of the day. I was previously relying on Dove Foaming Make Up Remover which certainly gets rid of everything, but always left me with lingering paranoia that it was too stripping and ultimately detrimental to my skin. The DHC feels a lot more gentle and nourishing. It's silky smooth with a lot of slip, making it relaxing to massage into the skin. You have to concentrate on the eye area and go over it several times to get rid of waterproof mascara, but it dissolves everything eventually. My only complaint is that it does blur the vision when you get it around the eyes. It doesn't sting but just feels uncomfortable to not be able to see properly and have to rinse with water ASAP. When washed off, it leaves the skin feeling comfortably soft and properly cleansed with no oily residue.

LUSH Angels on Bare Skin Cleanser
Another product along with the DHC Deep Cleansing Oil that I'd heard a lot about but hadn't been lured into purchasing until my trip. After I'd bought it, I started to use it every day in the morning to wash my face, following with Melvita Damask Rose floral water and Trilogy Vital Moisturising Cream. This routine agreed with my skin tremendously. LUSH Angels on Bare Skin Cleanser is a bit puzzling at first because it just looks like some compacted gritty stuff in a container. You're meant to dig out a small amount and then mix it with water to form a kind of paste that you rub into your skin, then wash off. Invariably, some of it will fall around the vicinity of the bathroom sink rather than adhere to your face. It seems oddly abrasive to be used on a daily basis, so I definitely didn't do any extra exfoliation (manual or chemical) when I was using this daily in Japan. I now prefer to use this once or twice a week. It will do pretty much nothing in terms of makeup removal, so it's really only a morning-only cleanser unless you don't wear makeup. It appeals to my need for novelty, is pleasingly fragrant and leaves the skin incredibly soft and pampered.

MAC 217 Blending Brush
I've ummmed and ahhhhed over this brush for the absolute longest time given its cult status. Even when I was in the States two years ago, I just couldn't bring myself to spend $24 (pre-tax) on a single eyeshadow brush. I rationalised that was basically the cost of an entire Real Techniques brush set. I certainly wasn't going to hand over $37 to buy one here in Australia. But at Narita Airport, before my flight home, I decided it was time. And honestly, it's one of those purchases where you wonder why you hadn't committed earlier. It picks up just the right amount of product and makes eyeshadow application and placement foolproof. If you're asking yourself whether you need the 217 and haven't taken the plunge, just do it.

Garnier BB Cream Miracle Skin Perfector (Combination to Oily Skin) in Light
This is the one product I've been utterly impressed with during September in a way I hadn't anticipated. I threw it into my makeup bag thinking it would do, but it turned out to be exactly what I was after. It's a breeze to apply with the fingers, provides better-than-expected coverage and gives the complexion an inbuilt radiance that makes it appear instantly fresh and awake. The only negative is that it does transfer a bit and get shiny, especially in heat, but nothing that periodic blotting with a tissue can't fix. This is a great go-to base if you're after something light, fuss-free, natural-looking but with a luminous finish. It doesn't accentuate dry patches and works into the skin easily, so long as you've properly exfoliated and moisturised beforehand.

Rimmel ScandalEyes Shadow Stick in Bad Girl Bronze
Another product that I thought would be merely adequate, but completely outperformed my expectations. This is such a versatile, easy to use cream eyeshadow stick that's ideal for travel. I used it both to slightly smoke out my upper lid after applying a wash of Essence Pas des Copper, as well as to define my lower lash line. On the lower lash line, it honestly did not budge for the whole day and retained its metallic lustre. It's as good as my old favourite Benefit Busy Signal, except more convenient to use since I don't need a brush to apply it.

Benefit They're Real! Mascara
Why did I ever stray. All other mascaras are mere imposters, this is the real deal. With a good session of eyelash curling beforehand and diligent application, this gives me the actual appearance of flirty, voluminous, darkened eyelashes peering out from my monolids. And it's absolute magic on the lower lashes, so long as you're patient and have a steady hand.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Japan Haul

It's now been one whole week since flying back from Japan but it feels longer somehow. It's amazing how quickly one reverts to their established routine after the novelty, excitement and mental break of a holiday. I had a fantastic time in Japan apart from some disappointments (like having to skip Fuji-Q Highland and being emphatically turned away from a packed yakitori restaurant that we'd made a mission to eat at given it was specifically recommended to me before my trip) and humorous mishaps (like breaking the hotel's transformer twice in successive visits and spending 2.5 hours trying with increased desperation to find a particular izakaya restaurant only to find out it had since closed down and been replaced with an Italian eatery). While Japanese maps and addresses remained a mystery and we mostly stuck to places near a train station, my friend and I still managed to cover quite a bit of ground in two weeks, including separate day trips to Mount Fuji, Tokyo Disneyland, Kyoto and half a day at Hiroshima to see the Peace Memorial Park, as well as extended stays in Tokyo and Osaka. Those that follow me on Instagram may have seen some of the pictures. As always, no holiday is complete without a roundup of the makeup and skin care purchased, so here I present my Japan haul.

Overall, I feel I was definitely more liberal with the purchases compared with Europe last year, but I wanted to focus on items that were exclusive to Japan or not so readily available in Australia. I also was a little overenthusiastic at the duty free shops in Narita Airport just as I was about to fly out. My most extravagant purchase would be a tie between diptyque Volutes EDP and the SUQQU Cheek Brush. After testing out most of the products, I'm most impressed with Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua and the MAC 217 (believe the hype for both). Sadly, not a fan of the Koh Gen Do at all (I wish I'd purchased YSL Le Teint Touche Éclat instead), though buying the completely wrong shade could also be a big factor in my dislike. Melvita Damask Rose Floral Water is similar to the Jurlique Rosewater Balancing Mist in that I find both to be drying on the skin. Addiction eyeshadows vary considerably in terms of colour payoff and smoothness of texture, but Fudge was the standout. Whether it's actually a flattering colour on me is less convincing. I didn't like both of the Asian mascaras I bought, though the Dollywink liquid eyeliner has been a hit. Lush remains excellent and some products like Mask of Magnaminty and Angels on Bare Skin were considerably cheaper in Japan compared with back home (980 yen or just over $10 vs. $16.95).

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Into the New and Old

It's September so long-time readers of my blog may have seen this coming ... I'm about to say goodbye to Sydney for two weeks and fly out for my annual overseas holiday. This is the year I'm finally going to Japan. For better or worse, when I think of Japan, I think of Lost in Translation and the image of Scarlett Johansson gazing pensively over Tokyo from her hotel room window. Everyone I've met that's been to Japan has had nothing but wonderful things to say about it, especially about the people and the food, so I'm anticipating my experience will be no different. While I'm a little bit wary about the general lack of navigational skills my friend and I share, it's all part of the adventure, right?

As always, here's a peek into my makeup bag that I'm bringing with me on the trip. I decided to do away with brushes altogether (for face, eyes and hair, though I do have that eyebrow grooming tool to brush my eyebrow hairs into shape) and stick with cream products that I can apply with my fingers. There's my ever trusty Essence Pas des Copper Eye Soufflé, along with the addition of Rimmel ScandalEyes Shadow Stick in Bad Girl Bronze. Which base to pack was the hardest part, but in the end I settled on Garnier BB Cream Miracle Skin Perfector (Combination to Oily Skin) for its lightweight texture, oil control properties and illuminating finish. It's apparently still fairly humid in Japan in the beginning of September, so I needed something that wasn't too heavy or foundation-like, but that wouldn't melt off my face in hot, muggy weather. If I need some extra skin perfecting, I have my NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer to fall back on. A natural pink cream blush and two lipsticks (one for the everyday in Revlon Juicy Papaya, one for a statement lip in Maybelline Vivid Rose) round up my colour options.

See you when I return!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Antipodes: Hits and Misses

I remember when Antipodes first burst onto the blogging scene a couple of years ago, the hype was tremendous. I first heard about the brand through Essiebutton and soon enough, I was seeing universally positive reviews about their products on countless other blogs. Gradually, the continued exposure brought me to a tipping point where I was finally prepared to fork out some cash. Given the price point of the skin care, the Daily Moisturise Kit I bought at the beginning of last year was the ideal introduction. Since then, I've accumulated far more Antipodes products than expected and I've tried enough of the brand to give a general overview.


Divine Face Oil Organic Avocado Oil & Rosehip
I would definitely recommend a good face oil as an essential part of any skin care routine. This one containing avocado, macadamia, rosehip and jojoba oils, along with vitamin E, is a solid pick. Like most Antipodes products, the attractive packaging is undoubtedly a drawcard, though I find the addition of ylang ylang, sandalwood and jasmine essential oil fragrances to give it a bit of a hippie, musty, ever-so-slightly uriney vibe. I usually mix 2-3 drops with my nighttime moisturiser for additional hydration and nourishment. It helps the skin feel and look softer, smoother and better rested in the morning.

Joyous Protein-Rich Night Replenish Serum
Unlike a face oil that I normally combine with a moisturiser, I tend to use this product on its own over freshly cleansed skin before applying my evening cream. It has a pleasant scent of sweet berries though there is a touch of the exotic as well, which I find hard to pinpoint. It's certainly not artificially saccharine, there's a richness/woodiness to it that evokes images of the ingredients being extracted from raw nature. Maybe that's just me. This is a silky, light, hydrating serum that absorbs well and does an excellent job of combating the drying effects of winter.

Reincarnation Pure Facial Exfoliator
Probably the most surprising 'hit' on my list, in that this is not something I'd willingly buy. It's one of the more expensive items by Antipodes at $42 for 75ml. At that price, I'd rather buy an exfoliating toner or mask. I managed to score this as a freebie with the purchase of the Daily Moisturise Kit, an offer I've never seen repeated since. Though it's an extremely gentle exfoliator with tiny beads that barely feel like anything, I really notice the difference when I use it in that my skin is left polished, softer and more receptive to oils/creams afterwards. The texture is so refined despite clay (kaolin) being the second ingredient, but best of all, the subtle sweet orange and cedarwood scent is absolutely divine. By far my favourite fragrance of any Antipodes product, making it a pleasure to use.


Vanilla Pod Hydrating Day Cream
How I feel about this cream largely depends on the weather and how my foundation is cooperating. It's a rich, skin-plumping cream that's better suited for autumn/winter when the skin is craving a bit more moisture. In the summer, it might be too heavy and a disaster for oily skin. The jar packaging gives it a luxurious feel and the texture of the cream is beautifully smooth and easy to work into the skin, provided you don't use too much. It has a lovely botanical, slightly sweet scent that's not too overpowering, though I don't detect much vanilla.

Avocado Pear Nourishing Night Cream
I was super excited to try this for the first time when I purchased the Anti-Ageing Minis set, given this night cream seemed to be one of the star products of the Antipodes range. While it's an effective duo with the Joyous Protein-Rich Night Replenish Serum, I'm not convinced I'd go out and buy the full size on its own. Firstly, the smell is pretty funky. Once again (like with the Divine Face Oil), it's the essential oil fragrances of sandalwood, ylang ylang and this time, patchouli. Not a fan. If I thought the Vanilla Pod Hydrating Day Cream was on the heavy side, this takes it up a notch or two. It's positively greasy, though that's not so much a problem if I'm slapping it on before going to sleep. I don't think it has as refined a texture as the day cream, and as far as night creams go, I prefer both Clarins Multi-Active Night Youth Recovery Cream and Trilogy Rosapene Night Cream.

Aura Manuka Honey Mask
I wanted to love this more than I do since this seems to be one of the most popular products in the Antipodes range. For me, it's more of a disappointment simply because I had such high expectations. Don't get me wrong, it's undoubtedly pleasant in terms of texture, scent and how it feels when it's applied. It's calming, soothing, cooling, and the skin just drinks it up. The only problem is that it doesn't do anything. I've used it a handful of times and each time after washing it off, I'm quietly hopeful that my patience has paid off. No such luck. It does nothing for blemishes. It does no more in improving my skin's texture and/or boosting moisture levels than my regular routine of washing my face, using an exfoliating toner followed by a hydrating one, and applying my serums/creams on top. Nice, but ineffectual.


Juliet Skin-Brightening Gel Cleanser
The only Antipodes product that for me, has been a dud. I know a couple of blogger friends who are fans, but I just couldn't make this work for me. Maybe my bottle was part of a bad batch (I noticed that the liquid in mine is almost transparent, when in other swatches online it's almost an amber colour), but I found this foaming cleanser to be on the drying side which is a huge no-no. After cleansing with it in the morning and patting my face dry with a cloth, within 1-2 minutes, I'd get that slightly tight, uncomfortable feeling of needing to moisturise ASAP. I also simply disliked the scent (it smelled SALTY to me). The 200ml bottle is ginormous given you need a small amount each time, and considering I'm not using it anymore, it's destined to be thrown out 80% full at some point in the future.


Joyful Hand & Body Cream
I received the full 120ml size with a recent Priceline promotion simply by purchasing any Antipodes product. Given the cream itself retails for $34, it was an offer I simply couldn't turn down. Having tried the tester in store, the scent seems to be basically identical to the Joyous Protein-Rich Night Replenish Serum. I would've preferred if it replicated the Reincarnation Pure Facial Exfoliator, but at least it wasn't the Divine Face Oil or Avocado Pear Nourishing Night Cream. I'm sure the product itself is all the things I'd expect in a good quality cream: easily absorbed, non-greasy, nourishing and hydrating. I just need to use up my existing body and hand creams before I get to it ... which might take a while.