A Beauty Haul
It’s been a good while since I’ve talked about beauty on my blog and although I’d say I’m not quite so heavily invested in the topic as I once was, writing this post also made me remember just how much I still love it. I was lucky enough to receive a few Mecca gift cards for my birthday and Christmas last year (the people in my life sure do know me well!), so it was the perfect time to finally cross off all those things that had been on my wishlist and do a little bit of splurging. I realise that last year was quite some time ago now and my intention was to get this post up way back in January, but it’s been really, really difficult dedicating time to my blog this year (I’ll explain why in another post). You know how the saying goes though, better late than never, right?! While this is a reasonably sized haul, as I mentioned, this was all bought last year and I actually haven’t bought a single new product at all in 2019! I know that hauls are quite frowned upon these days and I’m not all that much into them myself anymore either, but since this is my first one in a very long time, I figured kicking it back old school with a good old-fashioned beauty haul would be a bit of fun!
I had no idea Mecca Cosmetica gave out birthday gifts until I received an email from them telling me to pick mine up in-store and I was lucky enough to grab a set which included their Lit from Within Primer and All Set Makeup Perfecting Mist. The mist is neither here nor there for me; I don’t dislike it, but I’m not particularly in love with it either and I think that’s simply because MAC Prep + Prime Fix+ is my holy grail. I think the mist might even make me slightly oily, though it’s not a dealbreaker and I have actually used it up now. As for the Lit from Within Primer, this product is simply a dream! I totally wasn’t expecting to love it this much, but from the moment you apply it to the skin, it just glows and makes your foundation look ten times better! The Mecca Max Bring on Bright Illuminating Primer, which I’ve used and loved in the past is very similar, but there’s something about the Lit from Within Primer that makes it so much better (it’s also an extra $20 more than Bright on Bright). In fact, when I run out of it, I’ll definitely be purchasing it with my own money.
I’d been searching for the perfect nude pink cream blush for quite some time and after spending a few months swatching different shades from different brands, I decided to go for the RMS Lip2Cheek in Spell. To me, it’s very similar to the Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush in Exposed, though probably a shade or two lighter in tone. Radiant, natural and perfect for no-makeup makeup looks, rather than applying it with your fingers then blending it out with a Beautyblender, I find it best to dab the Beautyblender directly into the pot then tap it into the cheeks. The product spreads and blends out a lot easier this way.
To go along with the three cream blushes I now own (I also have the Glossier Cloud Paint in Dusk and Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge in Blushed Rose), I decided to buy my first cream bronzer. Since Milk Makeup is all the rage at the moment, the popular Matte Bronzer in Baked caught my attention (I did like the look of the Nudestix Nudies Matte All Over Face Colour Blush & Bronze, but the name Bondi Bae put me right off lol) and so I placed an order for it on the Sephora US website (Milk Makeup isn’t available in Australia). I had it shipped to my blog bff, Jess of Little Henry Lee, while she was living in Canada and she then posted my order to me when she moved back to Australia. A convoluted process, but so worth it! I’m not the most skilled at applying either bronzer or cream products, but because this bronzer doesn’t show up too dark on me, it’s really easy to work with and I can always build up the colour if need be. I’ve never been someone who packs bronzer on, anyway, so this product is simply perfect. I apply it straight to my skin, then blend it out with a Real Techniques Buffing Brush. I find this blends and diffuses the product much more nicely than a Beautyblender.
When my brother and sister-in-law were in Melbourne for a few days, I took it as an opportunity for my sister-in-law to pick me up some Sephora goodies! The one makeup item I asked her to get me was the Fenty Beauty Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter Duo in Lightning Dust/Fire Crystal and I simply love it! I was a little hesitant on whether or not I should buy this since I had no way of swatching it (when they’ll ever open up a Sephora store in Perth, who bloody knows), but I went with my gut to trust swatches online and they did not disappoint. Lighting Dust is described as a “soft pearlescent sheen”, while Fire Crystal is a “supercharged pearlescent shimmer”, which I’d say is pretty accurate. I was concerned (particularly with Fire Crystal) that it might be a bit too shimmery for my liking, but applied with a fan brush, it’s really not at all (for my tastes, anyway) and I’d happily wear both shades either day or night.
Two other new additions to my highlighter collection include the Mecca Cosmetica Enlightened Lit from Within Powder in Original and Mecca Cosmetica Enlightened Lit from Within Illuminating Balm. After tossing up between the former and the NARS Highlighting Powder in Capri, I went with the Mecca highlighter in the end (I most certainly didn’t need both!) as the NARS one was a bit too similar to what I already had in my collection. From reading reviews online, the Mecca highlighter was also a lot more popular (it was even a winner in the Mecca Beauty Election 2018!) and I can definitely see why! A couple of shades darker than Fenty Lightning Dust, it’s a stunning champagne shade that looks really natural on the skin, yet makes the complexion pop all at the same time. As for the Enlightened Lit from Within Illuminating Balm, I was influenced by Jess to buy this! After she featured it in her New in Beauty post, I decided to check it out and I ended up falling absolutely in love (it was inspired by the Lit From Within Illuminating Primer, so no wonder!). It illuminates the skin with a sheeny, somewhat glossy radiance and apart from the fact that it’s more pigmented, the formula is very similar to the Glossier Haloscope. With these two along with my Stila Heaven's Hue Highlighter in Kitten, I feel like I’m all set in the cream highlighter department now.
When my old work friends ended up buying me something for my birthday that I already owned, I was left with some David Jones store credit, which I used to buy the Tom Ford Eye Colour Quad in Nude Dip. It was something I had been umm-ing and ahh-ing over buying for about three years and I figured if I was obsessing over it this much, it was worth just adding to my wishlist, and I’m definitely glad I did! The quad contains four buttery shimmer shades that when applied to the eyelids, have a slight wet-look finish that I absolutely adore. If I’m in a rush and want a quick wash of colour over the lids, I’ll use the eyeshadows individually, but if I’m going for a full on eye look, I’ll pair the quad with matte eyeshadows from other palettes to use in my crease, outer corner and lower lash line. I feel like some people might be put off by the fact that there are no matte shades in this quad, but because I love each individual shade in here so much, it’s not an issue for me in the slightest. I’ve never been disappointed by Tom Ford and I really do feel like you get your money’s worth with his products.
When my Glossier Boy Brow ran out, I decided to see what all the fuss was about over the Hourglass Arch Brow Volumising Fibre Gel. In the shade Dark Brown, it has a dual-sided brush, which features both short and long bristles and applies the product in varying intensities. I’m more partial to the short bristles as that’s what I’m used to with traditional brow gel brushes, but the long bristles are great if you like that feathery sort of look.
While I don’t place a great deal of important on brow gels (my eyebrows are pretty full on their own and the only thing I really need it to do is set them in place), I do have to say that I prefer this over the Glossier Boy Brow. For starters, it’s a lot easier to get a hold of and the formula is thinner, making it easier to apply. The one minor issue I had with Boy Brow is that the brush often picks up too much product that you’d have to wipe off on the sides. Don’t get me wrong, I’d happily recommend either of these brow gels, but I will be sticking with the Hourglass offering.
I’d been happily using the Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler for many, many years, but then, as you sometimes do as a beauty blogger, you hear about another product and you get curious! The Surratt Relevée Lash Curler had been on my radar for quite some time and after finally giving it a go, this is now another product I much prefer over what I using before. Not only do I find it to lift, curl and lengthen the lashes more quickly (I can get away with holding the Surratt eyelash curler in place for less time), but it feels a lot more comfortable to use too. I’m definitely glad I gave into the hype of this one.
I fell in love with the Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum back in 2017 when I tried the travel size (available in the Rise + Glow set) and last year, decided it was finally time to splash out on the full size. Its main ingredient is vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that not only boosts radiance and helps fade sun damage, but also something that works to protect your skin when paired with SPF. For this reason, I find it more beneficial to use C-Firma during the day, but of course, skincare is subjective and it’s all about what works for you. The tricky thing about vitamin C (at least the L-ascorbic acid kind) is that it’s unstable, so after a while, it will oxidise and lose some of its potency (you will notice this by the product darkening), making it less effective than when you first buy it. Drunk Elephant, however, claim that pale yellow (almost clear) to an amber orange is normal and I actually find the product to hold up enough for me too (I do need to repurchase it now though). The silky oil-like texture is also really luxurious, but I recommend doing research and determining your budget to find the vitamin C product best suited for you.
The Sarah Chapman Skinesis Intense Hydrating Booster was hyped up by beauty bloggers some few years ago and it’s only now that I’ve jumped on the bandwagon. Given how popular hyaluronic acid is, you’d think it wouldn’t be too hard finding a good serum on the market, but the more research I did, the more I didn’t like any of them (for my dry skin, a good hydrating serum is a must!). The Sarah Chapman serum is the one I kept coming back to, however, and I’m really glad I went with it. With a silky watery consistency, it combines hyaluronic acid and other moisture magnets with soothing rose water to plump the skin and leave it feeling refreshed. It’s definitely on the pricier side of hyaluronic acid serums, but because I have dry skin, I don’t mind investing and I would 100% repurchase this.
Finding the perfect retinol treatment was another difficult one to come by. I can be pretty fussy with brands and particular ingredients, but when I came across the Pestle & Mortar Superstar Retinol Night Oil, it sounded perfect and let me tell you, it is! Prior to this, I was using The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid Emulsion 2%, which my skin did not agree with at all (for someone who rarely ever experiences skin sensitivities, it broke me out and gave me red splotches on my neck), but because the retinol in Superstar is suspended in an oil, it’s non-irritating and I experience no side effects whatsoever.
It’s infused with two types of retinol and blended with a base of cold pressed grape seed oil, which works to reduce fine lines and pore size, boost collagen production and balance oil production. I use it two to three times a week alternating between other serums in my stash and I love the way my skin looks in the morning after using it. I recently tried a sample of the Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream, which came in a Mecca Beauty Loop Box, but like The Ordinary offering, this irritated the skin on my neck too, so I’ll definitely be sticking with Pestle & Mortar.
After going without an eye cream for a while, I decided it was time to invest in one again and I ended up going for the Drunk Elephant C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream. As someone who has always used eye cream more so as a preventative measure than something to get instant, visible results from, I was blown away by just show much of a difference this made to my dark circles and I can say hands down that this is the best eye cream I’ve ever used! Containing a nourishing blend of eight peptides, five forms of vitamin C, cucumber extract, ceramides and moisturising plant oils, it’s packed with some seriously good stuff! You can use it both day and night, but I reserve it just for the night simply because I’m too lazy in the mornings. It hydrates wonderfully, I’ve never experienced milia with it like I have with other eye creams in the past and overall, this is a really impressive eye cream that’s worth the splurge.
In my Sephora US order for the Milk Makeup Matte Bronzer, I received some pretty great minis which included the Fresh Rose Face Mask and Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil. I’d never been super interested in trying either of these products, but now that I have, I love them! The mask is wonderfully refreshing, soothing and hydrating, and I get excited every time I use it! In fact, I’m seriously contemplating picking up the full size now. I do think the real rose petals it’s infused with is a bit of a gimmick, but it’s nevertheless nice and we all know by now how much I love roses, anyway. Facial oils are more or less the same to me, but I’ve always been partial to those that contain omega fatty acids, which the Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil does (6 and 9, to be exact). What I love most about this is how lightweight the formula is and how it doesn’t feel heavy on the skin, though I also don’t think facial oils are important enough to me to want to spend $110 on! It’s a beautiful product, I would just rather invest that money elsewhere in my skincare routine.
My work colleagues must’ve sneakily stalked my blog when they gifted me the Go-To Super Handy for my birthday last year! My first foray into the Australian brand, it nourishes the skin with lush butters and antioxidants and has a beautiful herbal-like scent. It’s become a handbag staple of mine and I really can’t wait to try more from Go-To in the future. As if I needed another hand cream in my life, I came across the Byredo Hand Cream in Eleventh Hour while browsing Mecca one day and it was love at first smell! For someone who has a strict wishlist they stick to, this is something I bought rather spontaneously, but I have absolutely no regrets because the scent is so to die for (I’ll occasionally whip it out just to smell it!), it’s seriously making me consider getting the EDP! With top notes of pepper and bergamot and base notes of tonka beans and cashmere woods, it’s a unique blend of fresh and spicy and the scent lasts incredibly well. I’ve owned their hand cream in La Tulipe in the past, so I’ve always known they’re great quality and as the packaging is so sleek and beautiful too, I’ve given it a home on top of my dressing table!
During Christmas last year, Mecca were offering a free mini Mecca Cosmetica Hydrating Mist for every $100 gift card purchased. Since I was spending the money there, anyway, I decided to buy myself a gift card to get the free mini (the Mecca host didn’t judge, she thought it was a genius idea!). I haven’t used it yet as I’m saving it to take travelling with me to London and Paris, but I’m thinking of doing a blog post on the travel beauty products I’m taking with me (it won’t happen until after my trip though), so I may or may not end up talking about it there.
After running out of my Kérastase Elixir Ultime Huile Originale Hair Oil, I decided to replace it with the Ouai Rose Hair & Body Oil (this is the other product my sister-in-law picked up for me in Sephora in Melbourne). I’m not going to lie, the main reason why I bought it was simply because of its rose scent. I loved the rosy pink colour of the product too, but mine has now faded to a boring standard oil yellow, which I’m so sad about! Despite that though, it really is lovely. Using it strictly for my hair (because I have other body oils), I mix it in with my R+Co High Dive Moisture and Shine Crème and I love the added moisture it brings to my super dry hair. It’s lightweight, doesn’t make my hair feel greasy or heavy, and the scent is just divine. Ouai call it Melrose Place and describe it as a “velvety rich rose fragrance with hints of bergamot, lychee, cedarwood and white musk”. I can see myself using this product for a long time to come.
Having always been impressed by Nails Inc. products, I wanted to give their Nails Inc. NailKale Superfood Basecoat and Nails Inc. Superfood Repair Oil Treatment a go. I don’t have an opinion on the Superfood Basecoat yet as I’m still using up my current Essie First Base Base Coat, but I am planning on doing a nail polish post at some stage, so I’ll be sure to give you my thoughts there. As for the Superfood Repair Oil Treatment, I love it. I have a bit of a bad habit of biting the skin around my nails, so this moisturising blend of sweet almond oil, argan oil and rose hip oil really works a treat at making it feel less dry. It has a lovely sweet scent similar to the L’Occitane Almond Shower Oil and I find the pipette packaging more convenient and much nicer to use than traditional nails oils in tube packaging with a brush (in my experience, they get clogged up and then end up dispensing too much product). A definite repurchase.
I was lucky enough to receive the Diptyque Philosykos EDP and Figuier Candle Duo from my lovely former workmates for my birthday last year. Diptyque’s fig scent is one of my favourites from the brand and although I already own the Philosykos EDT, you can never have too much Diptyque, I say! The EDP is more or less the same, just a little bit stronger, like more crisp and fresh-smelling. Also, not only is this little 30ml bottle super cute, but it’s going to come in handy for travelling too. I’d had the Figuier Candle on my wishlist for the longest time and now that I own it, it’s been ticked off the wishlist and that’s always a good feeling!
What beauty products have you bought recently?