26 April, 2017

Dusty Pink Blush Favourites | Cruelty-Free

Since becoming a beauty blogger all those years ago (6 years ago if you check...) one of the biggest changes to my makeup routine was the addition of blush - yes I was one of those people who loved makeup but didn't wear blush. I've seen the light since, especially since I became more serious about perfecting my base with higher coverage products and then having the need to bring the life and colour back to my artificially perfect but nonetheless pale skin!  

There are a few shades of blush that I gravitate towards more often, and as the weather moves through autumn and into winter, dusty pink tones feel more appropriate than the warmer corals I love in spring and summer. I don't think there are too many posts out there talking about dusty pink blush so hopefully this will be interesting for other paler skinned types like me!

There are four cruelty-free options I have on rotation and I reach for all of these blushes quite regularly because they are so fuss-free, natural looking and they consistently last all day without fading. They also pair well with the cooler nude, plums and berry red lip colours I like to wear as the cold weather closes in.

Clockwise from left these are:

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush (Mood Exposure)
It may look subdued in the pan but don't be fooled. This luxe blush is marbled with ambient lighting powder in Mood Light so the soft plum provides a luminous rose glow on my cheeks. The other plus: these Hourglass blushes are so finely milled that a little goes a long way. I barely need to touch my blush brush into the pan - my favourite brush to use is the Real Techniques blush brush because it is so soft - and it picks up enough colour to liven my cheeks.

Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush (Exposed)
This famous matte shade is described by Tarte as a nude pink and when you compare my swatches below you can see it's ever so slightly warmer and more nude than Mood Exposure.  It's that perfect neutral shade that works with everything so I get why it's such a go-to. It's the blush I wear when I don't know what blush to wear or when I don't want to think about what blush to wear. I've just convinced myself this is the only blush I need to pack for my next trip, whenever and wherever that is...

Illamasqua Powder Blusher (Naked Rose)
Illamasqua calls Naked Rose a neutral beige pink and yes it's pretty subdued when I consider it on its own but in this dusty lineup it practically pops as a cool pink and to be honest I wear this shade from autumn through to spring!  This blush is another matte and looks beautiful on paler skin giving a hint of pink flush. I love pairing it with cooler neutral eye shadow looks.

Natio Blusher (Rosewood)
This blush from Australian brand Natio is almost a dupe for Tarte Exposed, perhaps just leaning a hint more toward peach territory - this is probably more of a dusty peach if there is such a shade. In any case it wears as a neutral, very natural looking blush on me. Rosewood is another quite pigmented powder blush so a light tap of the brush into the pan picks up enough to dust onto my cheeks. The colour seems to meld with my skin somehow too so it looks like my own healthy cheeks rather than makeup sitting atop them.

And now for some heavy swatches on my arm...

 L -R:
 Mood Exposure, Exposed, Naked Rose, Rosewood

To think I never cared about blush! I've certainly made up for it now and I have a drawer full - well, maybe half full...

What blush shades do you wear in the cooler months?

(All products purchased by me)

18 April, 2017

My Cruelty-Free Experience So Far

I’ve been a cruelty-free (CF) beauty consumer for almost 2 years now – I honestly can’t believe how quickly that’s gone by.  It’s high time I revisit my thoughts on what it’s been like and whether the approach I adopted has worked for me.

You know, I can’t say going CF has been overly difficult or expensive for me, especially as I decided initially not to declutter anything from my collection.  From the time I made the decision to go CF, before I considered culling anything I switched the direction of my spending and because of shifting sands of the beauty industry when it comes to who is and isn't CF at any given time it turned out doing that alone wasn’t a bad idea.  

After finding out who is and isn't CF (my favourite sites are Cruelty-Free Kitty and Logical Harmony) my biggest challenge has been keeping up with the changes in CF status:  Non-CF brands that I previously loved and purchased from became cruelty-free (Stila, and Marc Jacobs are two recent examples that come to mind) and one favourite CF drugstore brand, Burts Bees, actually lost their CF status only to recently regain it. My head was almost spinning over that one.  I would have been especially disappointed to part with products from such brands only to find them on the list again! 

 I’m definitely not judging those who decide to declutter their collections of non CF products as part of the switch and I can see why they do.  Decluttering non-CF products from your collection may be symbolic – cutting the old ties maybe? -  and doing it on social media delivers a strong message to your audience. Until the laws on animal testing change universally it’s a personal decision to go CF and I think it should work for the individual.  

My gentle way of easing in to transitioning my collection has been using those non-CF products up largely outside of the social media space (except for popping up as empties in my Instagram “Makeup Use-up” challenge), and even giving myself permission to enjoy them, then moving on to CF options. Over time as those older non-CF products no longer interest me or expire they’re moved out of my collection. Recently I've become better at parting with things and because it felt like the right thing to do I donated a whole bagful of unused(!) products to a charity. 

For that reason I don’t judge people for being too rigidly CF or not CF enough. If we are all somewhere along the path that is all that matters to me.  As Tashina from Logical Harmony recently tweeted:  "Instead of being upset if someone doesn't fit your standard of cruelty-free, support that they are on their own cruelty-free journey."

The parent company issue is one that continues to divide the community too.  Some consumers decide to avoid brands that are owned by a non-CF parent company (all power to you because a full boycott will hurt!) and some like me choose to support these CF brands in the hope the parent company recognises - if not being moved by the ethical argument alone - that CF is where the dollars are to be made.  In support of the latter approach, I see that Logical Harmony is also encouraging consumers to support newly CF brands like Smashbox where the parent company is not CF.  See the article here.  Again, I'm not judging.  Do what is best for you.

Do I get pangs for the brands that are off the list?  I’m human and after years of spending my money on certain luxury brands I still get a bit wistful when I see pretty new things but I no longer follow those brands on social media and I tell myself that if and when they see the light I’ll support them again. Having said that there are enough luxury CF brands out there to satisfy any cravings for the finer things (like Charlotte Tilbury, Chantecaille or By Terry for some really chic luxe products) and I haven’t really scratched the surface with those.

Anyway my stream of thought is exhausted. What are your thoughts? If you have made the switch to CF, what’s made it easier for you?

10 April, 2017

Cruelty-Free Empties | Quarter 1 2017

Long time no blog...THE BLOG IS BACK!!!

Because I knew I'd be back here eventually I've been diligently collecting all of my empty Cruelty-Free products since January to share my thoughts with you.  The plan is to do these empties posts quarterly rather than monthly - partly because they can get a bit repetitive, and partly because I'm not planning to post more than once per week at this stage.  I didn't like the idea of 1 in every 4 posts being devoted to my trash.

The overwhelming majority of these products were my own purchases so - as always - you can be assured of my honest opinion.  Of course I'll indicate where products have been sent by PR and, yes, my honest opinion still holds there too.  In this post you'll notice a lot of products are from The Body Shop, mostly courtesy of an advent calendar I've been working my way through.  Also, if it seems some categories are underrepresented (like moisturiser!) it's because I have some old non-CF products I'm using while they're still good and they obviously won't be mentioned here.


Natio Cucumber & Aloe Micellar Cleansing Water (200ml/6.7 fl.oz)
I bought a bottle of this last year and liked it enough to snap up two more bottles at the Natio warehouse sale. It's very gentle, has minimal scent, and is very effective at cleansing with no residual stickiness.

Yes to Cucumbers Soothing Facial Wipes (10 wipes)
I don't generally use wipes any more but I bought these for travel.  They did the job of removing makeup well enough although they were quite small - also the cucumber scent was quite strong and I couldn't make up my mind whether I liked that or not.

The Body Shop Camomile Waterproof Eye & Lip Make-up Remover (150ml/5.0 fl.oz)
This is my favourite eye makeup remover and a repurchase.  It feels as gentle and refreshing as water but it really gets to work on breaking down waterproof makeup.

Face of Australia Gentle Make-up Remover (125ml/4.23 fl.oz)
This was another repurchase I'd picked up on sale.  This is also effective on dealing with waterproof mascara although it did leave some greasy residue behind.

The Body Shop Vitamin E Night Cream (15ml/0.5 oz)
This cream was rich enough to feel as though it was doing something for my skin, without feeling greasy at all.  It is quite heavily perfumed though and my husband - tactful guy that he is, usually - mentioned that my face smelt like hand cream!

Trilogy Rosehip Vital Moisturising Cream (20ml/.67 fl.oz)
I used this little sample tube as my night cream and it lasted weeks! Again, a nicely rich but non-greasy formula that sinks in to the skin and wouldn't be too heavy for daytime use.  This cream had a pleasant orange flower scent, which thankfully was not overpowering at all.


Natio Spa One Minute Miracle Body Polish (400g/14.1 fl.oz) 
This was an uplifting lemony scented, super scrubby salt scrub that made body exfoliation a breeze.  This scrub also contains soybean and sesame oil so it's a multitasking scrub and body moisturizer in one. I loved it and can see a repurchase in future.

Uni Organics Lift Me Up Invigorating Body Wash (500ml/16.98 fl.oz)*
This pump bottle lasted me months and months because I only needed 3 or 4 pumps to get a good lather going in my shower puff.  The blackberry extract made for a soft fruity scent and the moisturizing formula cleansed my skin without drying it out.

Natio Wellness Hand Wash (240ml/8.1 fl.oz)
I received this in a wellbeing subscription box and I have purchased it before so I know it quite well.  This hand wash is gentle on my chronically dry skin so I don't have to rush for the hand cream afterwards.  The only issue is the runny formula can get a little messy, dribbling down the front of the bottle and onto the bathroom vanity.

The Body Shop British Rose Petal-Soft Hand Cream (30ml/1.0 fl.oz)
Okay so I really didn't like this. I did enjoy the fresh, rather crisp rose scent - the scent is a great youthful, modern interpretation of rose - but the hand cream seemed to evaporate from my skin rather than absorb and offered minimal moisture. It was no surprise for me to see alcohol in the ingredient listing then!

The Body Shop Frosted Plum Shimmer Lotion (60ml/2.0 fl.oz)
This was one of the surprises in my advent calendar. It was insanely sparkly and I'm well past the clubbing phase so I only wore it, you know, around the house...

The Body Shop Frosted Plum Body Butter (50ml/1.6 oz)
Thankfully this was shimmer-free so I didn't mind slathering the sweet scented butter on my body for some more heavy duty moisture.

The Body Shop Fijian Water Lotus Shower Gel (60ml/2.0 fl.oz)
This shower gel had a rather clean and subtle marine scent and I really enjoy simple, clean crisp scents especially in the shower. I just looked up the website and the full Fijian Water Lotus range is still available - I might be considering a full-size purchase in the future.

The Body Shop Fuji Green Tea Body Scrub (50ml/1.75 oz)
Sorry but this was another disappointment. Totally ineffective as a body scrub. There were nowhere near enough scrubby particles, suspended in a thick slippery gel.  I didn't get the point of this product because it didn't seem to do anything.

Norsca Clear Passion Flower 24hr Anti-Perspirant Deodorant (150g/245ml)
This was okay but not as long wearing as it claims to be.  Norsca did have a roll-on version which I'd prefer but I can't find it anymore so I've switched to...

Mitchum Women Advanced Control 48hr Shower Fresh Roll on (50ml)
Now this keeps sweat and odour effectively at bay through anything - and I am a sweaty Betty! I'm using my backup right now.


Alchemy Ylang Ylang Shampoo and Macadamia & Wheat Protein Conditioner 
(500ml/16.9 fl.oz each)
I bought these in a pack at Costco and used them together so I'll review them as one unit. As these products are rich in botanical ingredients with no artificial fragrance they have a pleasantly unisex natural herbal scent.  Although having said that, I had them all to myself so these big bottles took months to finish - and they take a lot of room in my compact shower! These were gentle enough to use every day and I noticed how the shampoo cleansed my hair without leaving it feeling stripped and the conditioner did its thing without leaving my fine hair weighed down.

Essano Argan Oil of Morocco Nourishing Shampoo and Nourishing Conditioner 
(300ml/10.14 fl.oz each)
Essano products all seem to smell like heaven and that's a large part of the reason I rushed out to buy these after trying out some samples. The sulphate-free formula shampoo felt creamy and rich when lathering my hair and left it feeling clean without being stripped or overly tangled.  The conditioner made my hair feel silky, and left it smelling amazing!

Aesop Classic Conditioner (50ml travel size)
This was a very thick conditioner which was a challenge to squeeze out of the little bottle although somehow it felt quite light on my hair.  It has a very strong herbal oil scent which I liked but might not be to everyone's taste. I'm happy to use complimentary bottles from hotel bathrooms but I don't love this enough to make a purchase.


The Body Shop Italian Summer Fig EDT (10ml/0.33 fl.oz)
I have the full size bottle of this Mediterranean (as my mind imagines it because I've never been there) scent.  It starts off quite sharply green but mellows out and warms up nicely after a while.  Notes are: "...sparkling, refreshing shades of green notes and vine leaves, combined with honey fruit figs. The heart adds floral flavors of rose spiced with saffron while the base calms down the floral-fruity union with warm, woody notes of oak and amber".


Stila Lip Glaze (Guava)
I liked this but didn't get hyped up over it.  The nude-pink shade is flattering and lovely over a nude lipstick but I wore through the tube in record time.

NARS Translucent Crystal Light Reflecting Setting Powder - Pressed
Again this was like rather than love, because of the packaging.  The powder does a great job of setting makeup without adding any colour or any powderiness (you know what I mean?) but it was hell to get out of the waffle-backed pan towards the end. I may try the loose version sometime in the future when I get through my powder backlog.

ModelCo Fat Lash Volumising Mascara (Black)
This mascara was certainly inky black and effectively volumising too. The brush has a scary ball-tip but once I got used to it, it worked well for separating and getting into the inner corner lashes.

Face of Australia Colour Max Blush (Outback Nutmeg)
For an inexpensive blush this warm peach was a favourite and low-fuss enough for everyday wear.  Medium pigmentation meant I could gradually build it up without fear of too obvious blush.

Bite Beauty Luminous Créme Lipstick (Rosé)
This creamy formula has been superseded by Amuse Bouche so just know that I did enjoy wearing this lipstick and have previously reviewed it glowingly on the blog.

Bareminerals bareSkin Perfecting Veil (Light to Medium)
This mineral powder did a nice natural looking job of setting my makeup, adding a hint of extra coverage.  It did need a little touch up in the middle of the day but I forgave that because I loved the look on the skin.

So that is 3 months' of empties for you!  I look forward to posting here again soon.
Please leave me a comment so we can have a little chat.

(Products marked * were provided for my consideration.  All comments and opinions are my own.)

15 June, 2016

Natio Bloom Eyeshadow Palette (swatches and review)

Well, hello yet again!

 I'm back from my unannounced blogging holiday and *hangs head* this post was sitting in rough draft form for 2 long months. I was toying with what to do but as I'd promised it on Instagram all that time ago I decided to honour that promise so I've finished it and here it is...

My eye shadow palettes have been multiplying like mushrooms in my collection lately - let's face it, isn't every brand bringing out new palettes? Anyway, I wasn't planning on buying any more leading up to my recent trip to Japan.  Yes, I went there again but that's not what this post is about.  This post is about my palette addiction apparently.  Regardless of my good intentions of restraint when I saw the new limited edition Bloom palette from Australian brand Natio's Naturally You collection I got a little irrationally excited, especially because I had enough loyalty points saved up at my local drugstore to score it for free...

Had I bought it, it would have cost me all of $19.95 which is still extremely affordable for a 12-pan palette of eye shadows...and the Bloom palette is full of dusty rose shades that remind me of a palette - which shall remain nameless - which is just a little more expensive, if you know what I'm talking about? Yes I'm winking at Urban Decay right now! So I was easily able to justify this little "gift" to myself without too much agonizing at all.

Okay, so for a 20 dollar-ish palette this is a very pretty and sturdily packaged affair, in a clear but quite weighty plastic case that lets you see all the shades at a glance.  The double-ended applicator included in the palette is something that I'd only use in case of an emergency and there's no mirror - but it's just under $20 so I'd forgive those little things because it's ultimately all about the shadow itself for me.

Onto the swatches in a little bit where you'll see that the pigmentation varies according to the depth of the shades.  The lighter shades are the sheerest on the skin but the intensity of pigment builds up as the shades get to the deeper, plummier end of the palette.  I found there to be a good mix of mattes and shimmers throughout, with a single sparkly shade - a light pink which turned out to be my least favourite.  I tried using it as an eye shadow topper but it resulted in quite a bit of sparkly fallout on the tops of my cheeks.

Other than that one pesky shade, overall I've been enjoying this palette.  The shimmery shades have just enough shimmer to impart a bit of glow to the lids but aren't OTT crazy so they're all daytime appropriate.  The shadows all blend out well, compliment each other, and the range is broad enough to do everything from a pink pastel lid to a deep plum smokey eye.  Wear time is pretty good too as they last all day on my eyes without fading.

The shadows are swatched on the back of my hand:

Anyway I apologise for the extreme lateness of this review but if you're interested I have seen the Natio Bloom palette on sale for $14.96 at the Myer website here. Yes, you can still snap this up if you're quick!

Talc, Mica, Magnesium Stearate, Dimethicone, 2-Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Polyisobutene, Synthetic Wax, Phenoxyethanol / Ethylhexylglycerin, Caprylic / Capric Triglyceride, Tin Oxide. May contain: CI 77019, CI 77891, CI 77266, CI 77499, CI 77491, CI 77492.

Cruelty Free: Yes 
Vegan: Yes
Certified Organic: Yes

Until next time!

(This product was purchased by me)

11 April, 2016

Kester Black: Sugarplum

I'm really starting to embrace the autumn colour palette now so cue the purple polish.

Sugarplum is from Melbourne-based brand Kester Black who specialize in 5-free, vegan nail polishes in fashion-forward shades so they are right up my alley these days!  Sugarplum is a bright warm-toned purple that reminds me of a berry that fruits on the Lilly Pilly tree (now go Google that if you're interested). Being a warm shade of purple this doesn't drain the life out of my hands so it was very flattering to wear, and the application itself was easy - smooth, no flooding etc. The polish wore well for around 5 days before it started to look a little ragged at the edges. I think that's all you need to know!

All pictures taken in indirect daylight:

Cruelty Free: Yes (Leaping Bunny certified)
Vegan: Yes
Certified Organic: No

Until next time!

(This product was purchased by me.) 

08 April, 2016

Empties! March 2016

Hey there! I'm getting rid of more empty stuff and sharing my thoughts as per usual...

Skin care

Jurlique Purely White Skin Brightening Cleanser (80g/2.8 oz) - I bought this tube Duty-Free on my way to Singapore last year because I'd forgotten to pack a cleanser so decided to splash out on a luxe one. This foaming cleanser did feel quite velvety and luxurious but I didn't notice any significant brightening effect and Jurlique is off my purchase list these days.

SODA & Co Lip Balm (Orange Splash)* CF - These little balm pots are so much fun and I liked the orange/cocoa scent of this one.  I have a cocoa pot to get through and I'll consider getting some more in future once I dwindle my backlog a bit.  The formula is lightweight and melts upon touch with the fingertips so it's like applying melted butter to the lips.

Hand and body care

Bath & BodyWorks Maui Shea & Vitamin E Shower Gel (88ml/3 fl.oz) - These B & BW products were another old vacation purchase tucked away for a rainy day which finally came as I work through my stash of non CF products.  The shower gel lasted quite a while as I didn't need to use much to get a healthy soft lather and I enjoyed the summery floral scent.

Bath & BodyWorks Maui Shea & Vitamin E Body Lotion (88ml/3 fl.oz) - This was a nice consistency for a body lotion as it was easy to rub in yet substantial enough to provide lasting moisture for my skin.

Avon Nail Experts Rose Cuticle Balm (11.5g/0.406 oz) - This cuticle balm has been long discontinued so I won't go on about it.  It did the trick and smelt like - guess what? - roses!

Crabtree & Evelyn La Source Hand Therapy (25g/0.9 oz) -  I enjoyed the summery marine scent of this rich hand cream.

Hair care 

Moroccanoil Clarify Clarifying Shampoo (250ml/8.5 fl.oz) CF - Damn I love this shampoo! Not just because it deep cleanses buildup from my hair but because the scent is AMAZING! Have Moroccanoil thought to bring out a fragrance because if they haven't they need to! I will definitely buy this again.


My progressive tally in my 2016 Makeup Use Up is increasing oh so slowly:

8) Max Factor Masterpiece Glamour Extensions 3-in-1 Volumising Mascara (Black)* - Damn I wish this was a CF product because this has been my favourite mascara in recent times. It volumized and defined my lashes and the reverse cone-shaped brush was perfect for getting right down to the base of the lashes for separation and creating a fan-like effect. Sad. So sad.

9) Tom Ford Concealing Pen (02 Light Medium) - This was so expensive for such a meh product.  Would not repurchase even if I could. 

10) Rimmel Colour Show Off Lipstick (110 Pink Gossip) - This bright pink matte lippy is now discontinued.

I'm done and dusted for another month!

(Products marked * were provided for my consideration.  All comments and opinions are my own.)

06 April, 2016

Essence Happy Girls Are Pretty Collection: 06 On The Choco Side of Life

This is a rather nice polish with a rather weird name.

I apologize for taking so long to getting around to wearing On The Choco Side of Life because I know the shelves have been cleared of the Happy Girls Are Pretty Collection.  Oh well, in the off chance you see it somewhere or wanted to track it down - here it is.  Chocolate is a theme that's being embraced this season, with some brands even launching full lip collections and this polish sort of taps into that without being too full on chocolate per se.  I think it's more of a bronze and it leans into neutral territory but that's what I like about it.  I applied two coats here and sealed with top coat.

All pictures taken in indirect daylight:

Cruelty Free: Yes 
Vegan: To be confirmed
Certified Organic: No

Until next time!

(This product was purchased by me.) 
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