Jumping on the Mac Bandwagon

I have a love/hate relationship with Mac makeup.

On the one hand, they’re good quality, affordable (for AU!) products with a wide variety of choice. On the other hand, every foundation I have bought from them, without exception, has given me horrible, awful, soul-wrenching, grief-inducing breakouts. I looked great, don’t get me wrong, but what a price to pay!

So I steered clear. I resisted their chic black counters and dolled up, heavily prevalent makeup artists. I listened to my friend, She-of-the-Raging-Mac-Passion, dutifully as she coaxed and prodded and pried, but remained firm. I was perfectly fine with my Estee Lauder and Chanel, thank you very much and thanks for asking.

Yes. I was fine… at first. Then I was broke.

So I compromised. I would give Mac another go. I wasn’t 100% satisfied with my lipstick shades, anyway, and it was just as good excuse as any to buy some more. Lipstick was safe – lips don’t break out – and from what I had seen, in my furtive prowls through the aisles of Myer, their range was alluring. They even had different finishes (imagine that!): Cremesheen, Frost, Glaze, Lustre – the list goes on!

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Image via

Decision reached and loins girded, I put on my dark sunglasses and headscarf and headed into the big, bad world of unfamiliar makeup. I bought a Lustre lipstick (name: See Sheer), after being told it was a lovely, rosy, natural finish.

It was coral. Coral.

Coral is one of those colours that, like peach, make me look ill and distinctly undesirable. It felt moisturizing, sure, and imparted that ‘just kissed; just bitten’ flush that is so heavily sought after, but the shade so clashed with my skin tone that I wore it a couple of times and then never brought it out again.

Long story short, I avoided the Mac counter for another couple of months. Then I tried again. And oh lordy, the spoils from this foray have been memorable.

I have two Mac lipsticks that I have been wearing, on – no off, for the last couple of weeks. The first, a Cremesheen finish, is called Creme in Your Coffee. It leans more towards brown, with a lovely, rich undertone of plum. It’s quite flattering and perfect for work. Wear-time is decent – I can go at least four hours without a touch up, and there’s always colour left on my lips afterwards. As the name suggests, it’s a heavier lipstick. It can sit in the furrows of chapped lips and clump unattractively. A blot and a bit of lip balm can solve these issues, but if you like to apply your lipstick quickly and sashay out the door, you might want to give this one a miss.

The second Mac Lipstick is called Spice it Up and has a Lustre finish. As the name suggests, this one is lighter, glossier, and more moisturizing. It’s an absolutely stunning colour: a gorgeous, brown-tinged, apple-rose red that lights up the face without downplaying its presence. The wear-time isn’t as impressive as Creme in Your Coffee, but who cares? For this dash of gorgeous, I’d happily make my visits to the powder room a bit more regular.

So there you have it. Two lipsticks that have reignited my interest in the Mac brand, and not hurt my bank balance (overly) in the process. I’m glad that I took a second look and didn’t let one bad purchase prejudice the whole, but now that I’m firmly ensconced on the Mac Bandwagon, it’ll take a small miracle to tumble me off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Icky, Tricky Skin: The Ongoing Saga

I was thirteen years old when I got my first pimple. An innocuous little bump, it popped up on my baby skin like an angry red devil, determined to stake its claim, build its house, and invite all its wild red friends to converge in lavish, painful parties at my expense.

My acne was mild to moderate. Reserved initially for the greasy area of my t-zone, it eventually expanded to the uncharted territory of my cheeks and jaw. It fluctuated – sometimes more severe, other times more manageable – but it was a persistent presence from my early adolescence until adulthood. I tried everything: natural cures, drugstore soaps, burning formulas with copious amounts of salicylic acid. I dried my poor, tired skin out to the point that it peeled and the acne came back more vicious and determined than ever. If you want a list of things that don’t work, or work for a time and then fizzle out, I’m your girl.

I remember, like bright stars, the things that stood out as having moderate success during this dark period. I was using Neutrogena’s Oil-Free wipes for a time, along my forehead and down my chin. They dried out the pimples on the surface, but did nothing in the long run. Lemon juice, tea tree oil and yogurt seemed to work for a while (separately, of course, not all together!), but, again, they dried out my skin to the point that it overcompensated and the problematic areas worsened. I became a combination skin type: two parts oily, one part dry.

I think the cheapest and most effective solution to my acne, in the days before I could afford spending money on cosmetics, was simply drinking apple cider vinegar. It didn’t do much to improve the texture and lustre of the skin, but it stopped new acne forming and balanced my PH levels beautifully. I stopped drinking it out of fears for my tooth enamel – and the taste was, admittedly, not my favourite –  but as a quick, cheap, easy and effective solution, it was amazing.

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My hero. Image via.

Nowadays I experiment a bit more with skincare, ditching the heavy foundations and chalky powders in favour of a more permanent solution. I liked the Dermalogica range for a while, using the Special Cleansing Gel and Active Moist moisturizer with moderate success, but my baby-of-the-moment is definitely the Ultraceuticals range.

 

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So shiny. Random orange. Image via.

I’m fairly new to the brand (seven months or so?), but so far my experience has been nothing but positive. Just a quick run down/review of my current skin routine. I use their Ultra Brightening Foaming Cleanser in the morning and evening (it’s quite gentle, but has a strong chemical smell so may not be for everyone). It cleans what it needs to clean, removes makeup easily and leaves me feeling cleansed but not dehydrated. Basically, it does the job. It has a lot of “active” ingredients (Vitamin B3, Provitamin B and cucumber extract, to name a few), but in a product that is on my face for (maybe) twenty seconds, I’m less concerned about actives and more concerned about sweeping out my pores.

Also, foaming is a bit of a loose term. It’s more like a gentle amount of suds, but that’s a very minor critique.

Their ever popular Even Skintone Serum is next. It claims to smooth, resurface and refine skin texture, while getting rid of congestion. Did it do this for me? In a word, yes. Do I love it? Yes. Would I repurchase? Yes. I love this product. It has been the only thing to completely clear the pesky, small, under-the-skin bumps that lingered long after my teenage acne had disappeared. My skin is a lot softer and clearer than it used to be, and it is certainly, in part, due to this product. According to their website, actives include “AHAs,  BHA, Bearberry Extract and Niacinamide.” Potent ingredients that have a chance to be effectual, as they stay on the skin instead of being washed down the drain.

Last, but certainly not least, in this lengthy discourse of Audrey’s skin routine we have the Ultra Moisture Cream. I cannot stress the importance of finding a good moisturizer enough; it is essential, in my experience, to keeping your skin happy and balanced. I remember in the early stages of my acne, I would forgo any sort of cream or moisturizing treatment, mistakenly believing it would add to the oil on my skin and cause further breakouts. My skin became stressed, I became stressed, and the vicious cycle was constantly perpetuated. All skin is different, of course, and not all moisturizers are created equal, but Ultracueticals Ultra Moisture Cream has served me well. With an impressive host of actives (Ceramide-3, Linoleic Acid,  Sodium PCA, Sodium Hyaluronate and Vitamin E), it’s a good staple if you want healthy, plump and supple skin.

 

The downside to Ultraceuticals is the price. There’s no denying that it’s expensive, ranging from $62 – $112 (AU) for the products mentioned above. It’s also prone to running out quickly, depending on the frequency of use, so be prepared for a constant investment. Is it worth the cost? Yes, but I think you can get away with cheaper alternatives for some of the products (i.e.the cleanser and moisturizer). All in all, however, I’ve been happy with the brand and will continue to use it in the future.

Nars Blush: Orgasm or Dolce Vita? PT. 2

All right. So you bought two blushes and a foundation brush in the space of three hours. You’re wallowing in guilt, staring wet-eyed and panicked at your rapidly decreasing (and always fluctuating) bank balance. You’re torturing yourself over your propensity to “shop in haste and repent at leisure,” and wonder if you’ll ever have the steely willpower of your peers, who can see a stick of lippy and (wonder of wonders) walk away.

I didn’t walk away, unfortunately (or fortunately), on that ill-fated trip to Mecca Maxima. I saw the blush, I wanted the blush and I bought the blush. Do I regret it? I felt a twinge of guilt, I’ll admit, a bit of shame, but if you spend your time steeped in regret you’re not going to enjoy the product.

And I love the product.

Nars Blush (in Dolce Vita) is a lovely deep and dusky rose colour. It’s incredibly matte, heavily pigmented and has a decent overall wear time. It’s less sheer and natural than Orgasm and has no shimmer, but gives the skin quite a nice blooming flush. 

To illustrate, in this oh-so-completely-natural-and-not-posed-at-all public bathroom selfie:

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And this embarrassment:

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The effect is quite subtle and soft. You can layer for extra effect and drama, but I quite like the damask-cheeked damsel look. It makes me feel like a nineteenth century country lass, skipping through fields of flowers, instead of a twenty-first century city rat.

The Flower Girl Painting by Hans Zatzka; The Flower Girl Art Print for sale

The Flower Girl by Hans Zatzka

 

In short, I approve.

But which is better in the Battle of the Blushes? Dolce Vita or Orgasm? In terms of everyday, wear it out and about blush, I think Orgasm is a slightly more versatile and universally flattering shade. It brings out a very natural beauty to the skin, and I felt absolutely comfortable and pretty while wearing it. 5/5 for me, all expectations exceeded, and quite deserving of its cult status.

But, that being said, let not Dolce Vita be discarded or disregarded! It is gorgeous, and I can definitely see myself reaching for it in the future. With some striking red lipstick and winged eyeliner, this is the perfect blush if you feel like getting dolled up. Again, 5/5.

Nars Blush: Orgasm or Dolce Vita? Pt. 1

I love makeup. Absolutely love it. I wouldn’t say I’m obsessed (passionate, maybe?), but there’s something uniquely satisfying about opening a new compact of blush, popping the top of a plummy lipstick, or finding the perfect shade and consistency you’ve been searching for in a new foundation.

It’s an addictive feeling, and so I’m a bit of a sucker when it comes to new, flash items (you know, the ones that are advertised mercilessly in every shop as the NEXT BIG THING and you convince yourself that this, this is the thing that you have been waiting for, the thing that will magically transform you into a walking goddess of light and shimmer). I lose all restraint when the proverbial apple is handed to me, laden with promise, at a low cost of blah, blah.

You get the idea.

But, all that shiny new allure aside, I like trying older, classic items too. The cult favorites, the much talked about, praised and maligned. One of these (and, perhaps, the MOST famous when it comes to blushes) I purchased (succumbed to) in an outing to Myers a few days ago.

Yes, I’m talking about this piece of gorgeous:

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This is Nars Blush (in Orgasm). Aside from its controversial name, it’s difficult to write about simply because so much has been written before. There are a host of different reactions and opinions online, praising and criticizing it in equal measure, but as for me… I actually really like it.

It’s a pretty, fairly natural blush – flattering (I hope) on my pale, neutral skin, and the pigment is a lovely pink/peach colour. It’s the kind of shade you get when you pinch your cheeks a little, not too hard, and the traces of gold in the pan add a little sparkle.

I found it difficult to blend at first (so much pigment), but a swirl of the brush, a tap on the wrist to shake off the excess, and a delicate hand goes far in the way of excellent colour pay-off. It’s quite a subtle shade, even when layered, so if you want something striking and dramatic it may not be your first choice. The wear-time was decent (easily lasts me all day), and the compact case is pretty and portable. That being said, to restate a familiar gripe with Nars’ packaging, the black velvet outer-casing is a nightmare when it comes to picking up foundation smudges. I’ve only had it a few days and it’s already looking a bit worse for wear.

But. As I got the limited edition, jumbo version (which was a complete accident, by the way; the sales assistant handed me the wrong package and, as it was obviously a sign from above, I didn’t have the heart to contradict her), my very pretty, very big compact of blush is a bit more special. It has a gorgeous large mirror, the shade name emblazoned on the front (intertwining cleverly with the brand’s logo), and a very chic, retro model on translucent cellophane when you click open the case.

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So cute. So pretty. So limited edition.

Of course, the price is a bit of a sore point. Retailing at $58.00 (Australian dollars) for the jumbo version, and an only slightly less offensive $44.00 for the ordinary, run of the mill size, I felt almost obligated to like it. It’s an expensive item, but for this amount of product (a whopping 8 g) you won’t have to buy blush for a long, long time.

 

(Unless you’re me. And in researching Nars blushes, you decided that two is, indeed, better than one and Dolce Vita is the kind of shade that would really make you stand out from the crowd…)

 

 

 

New Blog, New Post

 

I suck at blogging.

I really don’t know how many times I’ve tried. There are so many empty blogs out there, begot in the first flush of inspiration and quickly abandoned. But this blog will be different. I am determined that I will not give up after the first post, and hopefully I’ll find enough things of interest to write about.

It might take me a while to find my grove, but here’s hoping this endeavor will (eventually) be successful.