Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Review: Pro 15 Pan Concealer Palette

I'm always on the look out for concealers to hide my hereditary dark circles and blemishes so with our recent exchange rate being so high, I just couldn't pass up this online deal to check this product out myself.

This is just a generic concealer palette I bought on evil-bay (aka eBay). I imagine it is similar to the Coastal Scents palette as the colours from my set and the stock photos on the CS site looks the same, however, as I don't own the CS palette, I can't confirm if they indeed are identical in product.

Professional 15 Pan Concealer Palette
  • Comes in a matte black palette
  • Each concealer pan is 26mm wide (for reference they are the same size as MAC eye shadows pans) 
  • shimmer white (great for highting), mint green, lavender and yellow corrector colours
  • 11 skintone colours ranging from light to dark so there's a shade to suit your colour, if not mix your own combination! too easy. 
Ingredients listing

How it performed 
  • Scentless - just my type of makeup product. 
  • Cream to powder product - turns to powder very quickly so need quick hands to blend product into skin.
  • Quite dry in texture so can be slightly hard to blend - it reminds me of the left side of Laura Mercier Under-cover Pot concealer. Best to be applied with a synthetic brush for a even finish. 
  • Endless colour combinations so you can go lighter for under eye area while matching perfectly for blemishes in other area of the face. And you can adjust your shades according to your seasonal needs. 
  • Remember to set with powder to avoid it sliding off during the day. 
  • Staying power was OK enough, lasting about 4 hours and didn't really settle into my fine lines. Not as pigmented as high-end products (eg. Laura Mercier or Bobbi brown) but does a decent job and for the price, I'm very pleased with its results. 
  • As it does have quite a powdery finish, does accentuate any dry patches on skin so make sure you use a good hydrating cream underneath before applying concealer to smooth the dry patch. 

yellow corrector and medium beige colour used
This palette is as cheap as chips and arrived in perfect condition in next to no time (7 days from order to arrival, shipped from Hong Kong). For the price I think it is quite high quality and a good palette to have around so you always have the right concealer shade on hand. For the eye area, I recommend applying a hydrating eye cream underneath to avoid the powdery look or it settling into fine lines.

Rating: 7/10. Great colour selection that meet most concealing needs. RRP US$6.29 shipped worldwide.
I bought this item here.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Review: Burt's Bees Fabulously Fresh Body Wash

We spend a lot of time prepping and preening our faces but its nice to treat the rest of our body every so often too. What better way to do this than in the shower?

Burt's Bees Fabulously Fresh
  • Comes in a 350ml bottle so you're sure to get many washes
  • clean skin naturally with no soap, sulfates or parabens
  • full of moisturising ingredients like coconut & sunflower oil and glycerin to soften skin
  • contains de-odorising rosemary extract and refreshing peppermint oil
Ingredients listing

How it performed
  • Love the peppermint scent and it feels very invigorating - the perfect wake up call during morning showers
  • The light-weight gel didn't lather up as much as other body washes so you may feel its not doing enough cleansing but it does. 
  • Very mild body wash that leaves skin feeling soft and clean.
  • Non-irritating so good for those who are eczema prone.

Overall this is an indulgent body wash is on the pricier side but it leaves your skin feeling and looking softer over time with its caring natural ingredients. If you need the foamy lather to feel like it's doing a true clean, you may want to skip this and try something else. But with something smelling so fresh, why would you?

Rating: 7/10. RRP A$19.95 at David Jones, Myer and selected pharmacies.

I received this as part of my loyalty reward from Beautyheaven

Monday, September 27, 2010

Review: Pantene All Day Smooth Light Weight Creme

With the recent rainy weather, my hair's been acting up and it's been looking like a frizz ball rather than its tame 'normal' self (disclosure: I have permanently straightened my hair 7 months ago with Shisiedo's straightening system. My natural hair is wavy, thick, has a life of its own and is impossible to manage most days).

So on top of tackling breakage, I now need to tackle frizz. I decided to go with a new product from an old trusted line.

Pantene All Day Smooth
  • Leave-on cream that can be used on damp towel dried or dry hair.
  • Can be used daily without adding weight to hair.
  • Softens hair and helps to untangle them during brushing, preventing hair breakages.
  • Protects hair from external stresses like UV, air conditioning
Ingredients listings
How it performed
  • Light semi-fluid in texture, and despite having cyclomethicone and dimethicone (2 different types of silicones), it was not too slippery and didn't leave hair feeling it was covered by silicone.
  • Lightly scented so not too overwhelming on hair.
  • In terms of keeping hair smooth and frizz free, I felt it had limited success. Hair was less frizzy but it only controlled it for a few hours before things got a bit crazy again.
  • After repeated uses over a few days, although smoothed, hair started to feel more greasier than normal and started to feel silicone like.
  • Needed more shampoo to wash and clean hair of this styling product.
    Overall Thoughts
    This smoothing creme is handy to have in the handbag to fix fly-aways when out and about with its convenient size. It's something that provides a temporary fix to frizz and tangled hair but I wouldn't use it daily as hair starts to feel greasy repeated use.

    Rating: 6/10. RRP A$6.99 for 90ml at leading supermarkets and pharmacies.

    I requested and received this product from Proctor & Gamble as part of a recent nationwide promotion.

    Sunday, September 26, 2010

    Review: Pantene 3 Minute Miracle Treatment

    Being a skeptical consumer, I tune out to alot of the marketing hype when dramatisation and words of puffery are thrown around in product promotions, as is often the case. But there's always a tiny part in me that hopes that the product does live up to its claims.

    So when a product name contains the word 'miracle', of course I do a double take and had to check it out myself.

    Pantene 3 Minute Miracle Treatment 

    Pantene 3 Minute Miracle Treatment Ingredients
    • Designed to be incorporated into your regular hair care regime, this weekly product is a cream treatment for use after shampoo and conditioner 
    • Comes in 15ml tubes with twist off cap. If you have shorter hair, a tube will easily last 2 treatments. Longer or thicker hair will probably use it all up in one go. 
    • Promises to repairs breakages & damages with amino pro-vitamins and vitamin E and prevent further damage. 
    • Penetrates hair and hydrates it from the inside. 
    • Smooth down hair culticle with ingredients that mimics natural hair cuticle to smooth it down 
    As previously mentioned, I have very brittle hair and is prone to split ends and breakages from even gentle hair brushing. I used 1/2 a tube after my normal washing and conditioning routine and concentrated at massaging the product into the ends of my hair.

    How it Performed
    • After 1 use, hair was smoother and silkier to touch. Fly-aways were tamed and hair felt lightweight but full of body. 
    • After a week of use, there were much less hair breakages/fallout when brushing hair (about 60% reduction using my non-scientific judgement). 
    • No addition to new split ends.
    • Everyday feels like a good hair day and hair was more managable and not prone to frizz. 
    • Increased shine and health in hair. 
    So while I don't think this is a miracle product, it certainly is fantastic at turning around my brittle damaged hair and preventing new damage to it. The fact that I don't need to use any additional styling products to keep it looking healthy and frizz free is an added bonus for me. I will continue to use this until something miraclulous comes along to cure my mane issues in just 1 treatment (that truly will be a miracle).

    Rating: 9.5/10. Inexpensive and readily available, this should be added as a weekly treatment if you hair feels slightly stressed and is prone to breakage. RRP A$7.99 for 3 x15ml at leading supermarkets and pharmacies.

    I requested and received this product from Proctor & Gamble as part of a recent nationwide promotion.

    Friday, September 24, 2010

    Allure's Tried & Tested Top Products

    After 6 months of vigorous product testing by hundreds of women, the results are finally in.

    Here is Allure Magazine's 2010 top 10 products presented by Allure's Editor-in-chief, Linda Wells.

    Top Picks
    Hair: Pantene Pro V Solutions shampoo and conditioner
    Hair dye: L'oreal INOA professional dye for longer fresher looking hair
    Lipstick: Lancome L'Absolu Rouge
    Lip gloss; Estee Lauder Pure Colour Gloss
    Mascara: Maybelline Volume Express
    Eyeliner: Covergirl Liquidline Blast eyeliner pencil
    Cleanser: Aveeno Positively Radiant makeup removing cleanser
    Sunscreen: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra light sunscreen SPF 60
    Nail: Sally Hansen Insta-Dri fast dry nail colour
    Treatment: Aquaphor healing ointment

    Pantene is in my haircare rotation staple and I certainly can vouch for the L'Absolu Rouge - I love the rose scent and its so creamy and hydrating while the Aquaphor ointment funnily enough reminds me of Lucas Papaw ointment (it's also a wonder products that fixes everything short of making you a cup of tea and doing your dishes).

    It's good to see that most of these products are also available in Australia and hopefully the ones that currently aren't will be launching here soon (hint-hint La-Roche and Aveeno, expand your lines in the Aussie market please!)

    Which products have you tried and like from the list?

    Wednesday, September 22, 2010

    News: Mecca Maxima Opening in 15 days

    For those of us who lament the fact that all the lovely brands available in Sephora is not available in Australia, we are grateful to have a mini version known locally as Mecca Cosmetica.

    With over 3000 products across 70 big brands including NARS, Stila, By Terry, Kevin Aucoin and Philosophy, there's sure to be something for the beauty addict in all of us to play with and take home when browsing the beauty counters.

    So I was super excited to find that a new store will open in Melbourne Central in 15 days time (Oct -07). It's going to be big girls - that's why it's aptly named Mecca Maxima.

    What's more exciting is that if you sign up now Melbourne peeps, not only will you get the latest update of the grand opening day, you'll also receive a voucher to redeem a goody bag full of awesome samples from Mecca's best selling brands!

    So what are you waiting for? Jump on to it now!

    Haven't visited Mecca Cosmetica before? Check it out online now and check out the brands it carries.

    P.S - Interstate peeps, don't despair with missing out on a freebie - there's a free mini mecca polish available for you if you haven't gone to pick it up yet. It's the last week to sign up and download the voucher.

    Maxima will now open on 13th October. Be sure to visit them with your voucher for in store launch events and your goody bag :)

    Review: Manicare Cellulite Body Brush

    In anticipation of warmer weather (which is nowhere in sight in Melbourne right now - all we get is rain and cold), I'm trying to get my dull looking body looking polished so I don't scare the public when I finally put on a skirt and bare my legs without hiding it under tights or pantyhose.

    So on top of my normal moisturising routine, I've decided to add in a dry brushing step to fast track the process of getting soft glowing skin for this upcoming summer when it finally arrives.

    If dry brushing is currently a foreign concept for you, let me give you a quick low down. It entails using a dry dense natural bristle brush to give your hot naked body a good scrub before showering. The benefits of dry brushing include:
    • exfoliation of dry dead skin cells
    • improved blood circulation by bringing blood to the surface and help to flush toxins from your skin
    • improved appearance of dimply skin and cellulite. 
    Finding the brush with the right level of firmness is the key to success for a good dry brush so I hunted around and finally settled on:

    Manicare Cellulite Bristle Brush

    • Quick & easy to use.
    • Firm & dense natural fibre bristles that is evenly cut on one end and rubber nodules on the other to give body an invigorating massage. 
    • Nice sturdy long handle with a rubber grip allows easy reach of backs and derrières.
    • Great for prepping the skin for that faux tan or to remove it when it becomes patchy and has seen better days.
    How it Performed
    • I rarely use the nodules as I don't find it give a great massage and it is hard to grip with the bristles on the other side, but I  <3 the brush side to brush my legs and body. I definitely notice that skin is less dull and not as scaly or flaky as before. 
    • After brushing for about 2 minutes, it can leave your skin slightly red if you apply too much pressure when brushing, but that quickly goes away once you jump into the shower - besides, firm brushing is better for the circulation!
    • Helps remove sebum and grease from bacne prone skin and unclog pores and clear up blemishes- bikini body, here I come. 
    • Body lotions and moisturisers sink into skin faster and works better than ever.
    • This is marketed as a cellulite reducing brush through the massaging properties - thankfully I don't have any cellulite so can't comment on that whether it delivers improvements. Besides, preventions are always better than cures :D
    • I wash this brush once a week in soapy water and hang it out to dry to ensure it stays clean and bacteria free. 
    IMHO, this tool is better than most body scrubs out there and is definitely worth having look if you have not yet considered adding dry brushing to your body care routine.

    Rating: 9/10. RRP A$14.95 at Priceline, Myer and leading pharmacies. 

    Friday, September 17, 2010

    Review: Nivea Visage Young: Be Beautiful! Tinted Moisturiser (natural)

    Following my last post on Nivea's tinted day cream, I thought I'd get into reviewing another tinted moisturiser and do a little comparison post. I found this lying in my younger brother's room the other day and thought I'd try it out for comparison again the Nivea Q10 tinted day wear.

    Nivea Visage Young: Be Beautiful! Tinted Moisturiser (natural)
    • Marketed towards the younger age groups (teens to early 20s) who generally have supple & well hydrated skin so only need minimal boost in hydration levels.
    • Light fresh scent - has a pleasant citrusy smell to cream. 
    • lightweight oil-free formula, dries and absorbs into very quickly so need quick actions to blend into skin before product dries.
    • Non-pore clogging formula is great for oily and problem prone skins. 
    • Provides a matte finish. Initially very orange with a pink beige base on my medium skin, after a few minutes of settling down, it does adapt better to my skin tone and provides coverage akin to wearing a sheer foundation. 
    • Can accentuate dry patches on skin with its pigment and its low hydration properties. 
    Compared with Nivea Q10 tinted day wear
    L-R: Be Beautiful!, Q10 Anti-wrinkle 
    • There is no SPF rating in this product which is a shame, young skin needs sun protection too so that's a big minus from me. It mentions there are UVA/UVB filters but it's unlikely to be at a high enough level to warrant leaving out a separate sunscreen application. 
    • Natural tint was not so natural on my skin. The formula is more opaque for Be Beautiful! tinted moisturiser than the Q10 tinted day wear and being not as sheer, was harder to match my skin tone - it also has a pink/beige undertone and would suit those which such colourings while the Q10 tinted day wear is more versatile and would complement both cool or warm skin tones. 
    • Obviously not as hydrating or rich as the Q10 tinted day wear, but given its younger market audience, this is not a negative since skin has different needs according to our age. 
    L-R: Be Beautiful!, Q10 anti-wrinkle. Q10 complements me more.
    I personally prefer the Nivea Q10 tinted day cream for its anti-aging ingredients, sunscreen properties and rich hydrating levels on my no longer so young skin. Nivea Young Be Beautiful! is cheap and cheerful and a good option for teens looking for a light moisturiser with a bit of coverage to give the look of a healthy complexion. This is worth trying if you have oily skin but if it doesn't end up working for you, it won't be the end of the world because it didn't break the bank.

    Rating: 6.5/10. RRP A$9.95 at supermarkets, Priceline and leading pharmacies.

    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    Review: Nivea Visage Q10 plus Anti-wrinkle Tinted Day Wear SPF15

    This review is brought to you by BeautyHeaven

    Yonks ago (meaning so long ago, I don't actually remember the exact year), I had my first foray with tinted moisturisers. What was in the market at the time was pretty limited and ordinary. It may have worked well as a moisturiser for keeping skin supple and moist but they all had an opaque orange tint that had me looking like an extra Oompa Loompa cast from Willy Wonka's chocolate factory.

    Bitterly disappointed, I abandoned my attempts on using tinted moisturisers - that is, until now.

    Nivea Visage Q10 plus Anti-wrinkle Tinted Day Wear SPF15

    For the last 3 weeks I've been using Nivea's Q10 tinted day cream and I have to say I'm impressed (and that doesn't happen too often for me with skincare products).

    Product Claims
    • Intensely hydrating day cream with shea butter
    • UVA & UVB sun protection - essential for preventing pre-mature lines.
    • Sheer finish to suit all skin tones and give skin a radiant complexion.
    • Contains co-enzyme Q10 - skin's natural anti-oxidant that helps prevent new lines and wrinkles while fighting existing ones by boosting skin's regeneration process and reduce free-radical damage.
    Ingredients listing
    How it performed
    • Light fresh scent that is not over-powering. 
    • Cream comes out of the mess-free tube looking quite dark but the sheer tint really did blend perfectly onto my medium skin tone. No Oompa Loompas here at all. I think I actually let out a tiny squeal of delight when I found that the colour actually matches my skin. My days of avoiding tinted moisturisers are over!
    • Blends effortlessly, is readily absorbed and gives skin a radiant look.
    • There is a slight tacky feeling after application that is not unlike other day creams but it disappears within 5 minutes. I did not feel sticky residues or balling up here.
    • Skin feels smooth and supple and does not grease up during the day. 
    • Great for days where having a fully made face is not required but where skin tone evenness needs a helping hand - this would be my go to product to pack in my toiletry bag for holiday trips
    • Perfect for those with clear skin - this could replace that sheer foundation for those who prefers a lighter coverage.
    • Would have loved it to be SPF 30+ as I think SPF15 is only adequate for incidental sun and wouldn't really cut it if you were outdoors in full sun for more than 30 minutes. 
    • Although it protects against UVA & UVB, it probably did not have strong enough sun filters to gain the TGA's broad spectrum rating - something that would make it even more appealing to me. 

    I deliberately didn't blend in the edges so you can see from the picture above the area my bare skin vs the area I've applied the tinted day cream on the right. As you can see, my skin looks more even-toned with a touch of glowing colour.

    My faith in tinted moisturisers has been restored by this day cream and I will be giving it a lot of love in the upcoming warmer weather - especially on those lazy weekends where I usually go without makeup but need something to even out my skin tone.

    I'm a fan of products that does what it claims and doesn't cost the earth. Nivea's new Q10 tinted day cream does both and is a definite must try item. You won't be disappointed - I promise.

    What is your favourite tinted moisturiser? Do you have any recommendations for me to try next?

    Rating: 9/10. RRP A$18.99 for 50ml at supermarkets, Priceline and leading pharmacies.

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    Review: Bloom Lip Duo

    If you're like me you'll always be rummaging through the handbag to find the lipstick or lip gloss during the day for touch ups because you just can't seem to find anything whenever you need it. Worse, you'll find the gloss but the lipstick is nowhere to be seen.

    Bloom's Natalie must have heard me cursing one too many times and has answered my prayers by coming up with an ingenious multi-function product.
    Bloom Lip Duo - a dual ended product that comes as a perfectly paired shade of  lipstick and gloss.
    • wonderfully creamy and hydrating lipstick on one end and high shine lipgloss on the other.
    • Light vanilla scented (yum!) & contains moisturising jojoba and mandarin essential oils. Lip gloss has added shine and conditioning macadamia oil. 
    • each tube has perfectly matched colours paired for you so you don't have no guess work required for a perfect pout. How brilliant!
    • lip products can be used alone or together for an even more.
    • Being a duo product, the packaging is slightly bulkier than your traditional single lippy or gloss. It makes it even easier to find in my handbag and I only need to look for one item!
    Forgive and Forget: soft dusty rose lip colour with a pale sorbet pink gloss
    You & Me: vibrant orange coral lip colour with tangerine pink gloss

    How they Performed
    • Creamy and hydrating with medium buildable coverage.
    • Applies silky smooth on lips with a satin finish with pearliness noticeable only in the full sunlight.
    • Easily lasts for 3 hours before needing any touch ups.
    • Brilliant shine with micro shimmer that gives lips a plumping 3D effect - perfect for that sultry pout!
    • smooth non-tacky formula that's not too sticky - it's not exactly boyfriend friendly yet (they tend to hate glosses with passion) but your hair won't hate your lips as much when the wind sweeps it across your face.
    • provided a sheer hint of colour when worn alone and added depth and richness to colour when layered over matching lipstick.

    From top - You and Me, Forgive and Forget; worn layered with gloss

    Forgive and Forget is soft and wistful - great for pretty feminine looks paired with a hint of peach blush and soft neutral eyes while You & Me will give a slightly more bold look that goes well with smokey eyes.
    I cannot pick a favourite between the two and would probably love the rest of the line too.

    Final thoughts
    Available in 6 wonderful irresistible shades with cute names like Rain & Puddles and Moon & Stars - they all looks and sound so good I want them all. I am glad I didn't write off Bloom just because I had a bad experience with one of its product (b Collection nail lacquers) as I would definitely go out and buy these lip duos.

    Rating: 9/10. Great product with practical multi-functional design - what's not to love? RRP A$28 at Myer, David Jones, Bloom's Chapel St Flagship store or online now.

    This product was sent for consideration.

    Sunday, September 12, 2010

    Review: Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel

    Masks usually have deep cleansing and moisturising properties; they nourish and hydrate skin while helping to reveal fresher skin by removing the top layer of dead skin cells that dull our complexions.

    Applying face masks are a favourite beauty ritual of mine and I try to find some time at least once a week to put pop one on. Weekends are generally a great opportunity as I can apply the mask and then go off to do other chores around the house.

    Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel
    • Made for sensitive skin 
    • 100% certified organic ingredients - made from apple, lemon, grape and raw cane sugar juices. 
    • Paraben free, petroleum derived ingredients and contains no synthetic fragrances.
    • Gel based mask that will genly exfoliate skin while improving skin's hydrating levels. 
    Ingredients Listing

    How it performed
    • Has a sweet fermented apple juice scent and reminds me of hot apple ciders & home-made masks. 
    • Applied as a thin layer over skin, it causes a slight tingling sensation for the first two minutes and then settled down. 
    • Left on skin for 10 minutes, the gel began to dry and formed a slight film on top of skin. 
    • After washing off, skin was soft and fresh looking & did not feel tight or dry.
    • Did not cause redness or irritations, unlike some other harsher peels I've tried.
    • Not sure if this brightens skin as claimed by product but skintone did improve. 
    • In terms of exfoliation power, this peel is gentler than manual facial scrubs but still able to remove those pesky dead skin cells.

    This is a great alternative mask to exfoliating scrubs for those with sensitive skin that find that manual exfoliation leaves skin feeling raw and red as the Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) work to gently reveal new skin.

    Rating: 8/10 RRP A$69 for a 60ml jar at selected Myer, David Jones, pharmacies and online stores.

    Thursday, September 9, 2010

    Food Recipe: Vietnamese Waffles

    I've been craving freshly made waffles for a last few months and so finally put in an order for a waffle iron from Cuisinart. 

    It finally arrived the other day and I put it up for a test drive with a recipe for Vietnamese waffles. Vietnamese waffles are traditionally made with coconut milk rather than butter for a lovely soft texture with a sweet creamy taste.

    Makes 4 or 5, depending on size of waffle iron
    1 cup plain flour, sifted
    ½ cup sugar
    1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
    ½ teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1 tablespoon of white sesame seeds
    1 egg, separated
    300ml can of coconut cream
    2 teaspoons vanilla or pandan leaf extract
    1. Put all dry (first six ingredients) ingredients into a bowl.
    2. Use the whisk to combine the egg yolk, coconut milk, butter, and extract of choice. Beat the egg whites until firm peaks form.
    3. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and use a spatula to gently fold the flour in. 
    4. Once the flour has been incorporated, gently fold in the egg whites. If the resulting batter looks lumpy, that's okay. Expect the batter to be thick. Avoid over-stirring or the waffles may end up too chewy.
    5. Set aside batter while the waffle iron is on pre-heat mode.
    6. Use a ladle to pour enough batter over oiled and pre-heated waffle iron, spreading the batter with the ladles so it fills all the grooves. 
    7. Cook waffle to your desired browning level settings. Use a pair of bamboo skewers (or wooden chopsticks) to loosen the waffle and lift up from iron and set aside on a warm plate - that's if they don't get eaten straight after by hungry mouths :)
    Fresh hot waffles - yummo

    The waffle iron produced lovely waffles, not too thick and soft when hot out of the iron but crisps up when left to cool. I found that setting 3 were more than enough for my liking for the browning level of my waffles .

    They tasted divine and my cravings are now satiated. Clean up was a cinch with the non-stick surface and no spill grooves of the waffle iron - a few quick wipes with a damp towel and I was done.
    Love easy to clean gadgets
    If you also have a waffle craving, look into investing in this gadget as it is guaranteed to give you many joyous waffle making and eating moments.

    I'm going to try other recipes next time I make waffles to see which I like best. What's your favourite waffle/pancake flavour?

    Cuisinart waffle iron - RRP A$99.95 at David Jones and good kitchen stores.
    Recipe adapted from:

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010

    Review: OPI Lacquer Thinner

    Do you have bottles of nail polishes lying in your room that has seen better days? The once pretty lacquer have dried out and are now too thick and gooey to apply a nice even coat on your nails?

    What do you do - toss out the half used bottle or try and savage it? Being the beauty hoarder, I decided to take the latter path and tried various methods to see if I can get some more use out of it before it hits the beauty graveyard.

    I've tried adding a few drops of nail polish remover into the thickened formula to thin it out but polish removers are usually made from acetone and although it does thin the formula, it also affects the colour and shine of the polish. My search ended when I found OPI's Nail Lacquer Thinner.

    • made from butyl acetate and ethyl acetate - the same ingredient in lacquers so does not affect finish of end product.
    •  large bottle that lasts a long time as you use very little.
    • add two drops in first and shake well to check if product has thinned down to the right consistency - best way to tell is to apply a coat onto nail to check if it out. If it is still too thick, add one drop or two more and repeat till your polish is back to perfect consistency again.
    • can improve consistency of streaky polishes. I have tried this on my b Collection by Bloom Ibiza lacquer and it has definitely fixed its formula problem - I'm ecstatic with its finish now. Sadly, Oslo was a lost cause and despite being the right fluid consistency, it is still as streaky as ever.  
      Final Thoughts
      If you have a favourite nail lacquer shade that has become too thick but want to save it from dying an early death, give this thinner a try - you will get many more uses out of it.

      Rating: 10/10. 60ml RRP A$19.95 at David Jones and selected salons

      Tuesday, September 7, 2010

      Review: b Collection by Bloom Nail Lacquers

      I'm going through a nail lacquer obsession at the moment and have been browsing counters looking for new colours to try.

      The display unit at Target caught my eyes the other day as it carried a large array of colours - over 70 including new additions from the b Collection by Bloom line. Launched late last year, this is a line that is created by Natalie Bloom specifically for Target and showcases high impact colour with fairly chip resistant with fabulous names after the cities across the world.

      I picked up 2 bottles to try: Ibiza and Oslo for their gorgeous colours.
      • Ibiza is a bright opaque coral pink colour that reminds of me of the upcoming racing carnival season.
      • Oslo is a opaque mushroom taupe shade that is soft and muted and perfect for neutral looks.
      Oslo & Ibiza

      How it performed
      • Is 3T free - no nasty chemicals here.
      • Is glossy and shiny when I managed to get an even coat. 
      • fairly quick drying, each coat takes about a minute.
      • Application wise, the formula was very thick and difficult to apply.
      • You need to apply the varnish quite thickly to avoid streaks and need to be very precise with your strokes as going over the nail multi-time messes it up.
      • 2 coats required for Ibiza while after 3 coats, Oslo was still showing streaks and I did not manage to get a nice even finish with it.
      • Ibiza was quite chip resistant and lasted 3 days without top coat before fading on the edges. With a top coat, this lasted 5-6 days depending on how much cleaning I did during the week. I did not wear Oslo for long as I couldn't work with its finish.

      Ibiza - 2 coats
      Oslo - still streaky after 3 coats

      Final Thoughts
      The colour selection is vast and there are some unique shades in the line. I may have bought bad apples but to have both shades play up on me is too much of a coincidence. I've had better performing nail colours from cheaper brands (eg. Rimmel). Unless you have a phD in nail application, give this line a miss as it is not worth the frustration to get a even, streak-free finish.

      I'm off to thin these formulas down and see if I can salvage them. Will report back on my results soon.

      Rating: 3/10. Streaky and thick formula is not for me. RRP A$14.95 at Target

      Improvising with Beauty Items

      I recently went a mini getaway for the weekend and decided to pack light. I only brought one small toiletry bag with my makeup essentials and a few makeup brushes.
      In my attempt of practising a minimalist approach and due to haste, I forgot a few key items and my beauty routine looked like it was going to go awry for the weekend.
      My minimalistic travel makeup/skincare kit all in a small toiletry bag
      Thankfully, after calming down from the initial shock and horror of the forgotten items, I realised that I did have all the key items in my tiny bag, even if I had to improvise a little.

      Here's what I learned:
      When you leave your facial cleanser and makeup remover at home...
      Grab a tube of your body lotion and apply a thin layer of your body lotion or cream, and rub into face in a circular motion, this will remove makeup, and oil with ease and then rinse off to leave face soft and also moisturised.

      For the delicate eye areas, remember to be gentle and if you have cotton balls handy, pop the cream on the cotton ball and then wipe it gently across your eyes to remove shadow colours and mascara.

      If you do not have body lotion handy, use your moisturiser or even hand cream instead as this cream cleansing method can always be used to clean your skin.

      If your brow pencil goes missing...
      I have very sparse brows and absolutely must darken my brows to provide a frame for my face if I want to look anything decent and was quite horrified when I realised that I didn't bring my trusty brow pencil and began hunting around my bag for a substitute.

      Usually  in such situations, I would use a deep brown/black or grey eye shadow to fill in my brows but my mini Lancome eye palette were filled with light bronze and mauve colours that was not going to suit brow use. The only dark item in my kit was my Max Factor False Lash Effect black mascara.
      Macara to fill in brows
      Desperate times calls for desperate measures right? Well it worked at treat. Lightly wipe a brow brush against the wand of the mascara (a cotton swab could also work), and after brushing off excess colour onto the back of hand, use the remaining colour on the brush to fill in brows. It stayed on for the entire day and looked as natural as my normal brow pencil (this would obviously not work as well if you have light hair colours but you could probably get away with a brown mascara).

      If you lose your lippy...
      Or you have just plain forgotten and you have a lip liner handy, just line your lips and fill in lips with your lip liner. Blot with a tissue and then apply a lip gloss/balm on top for glossy lips that are coloured and well moisturised. Another substitute for lip colours are creme blushes lightly patted over lips followed by lip gloss.

      Lessons learned
      I think next time I'll create a list to tick off when I go away to avoid forgetting key items but it was good to know I had trusty beauty products that could double up in use in times of needs.

      What other unconventional uses do you have for your beauty products?