Saturday, 7 December 2013

Review: L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream

Hand cream. Always one of those products I don't use often enough due to sheer laziness, as well as my huge dislike for having greasy hands. Despite loving my Crabtree & Evelyn hand creams, my curiosity to try the hand cream that was sold "ever 5 seconds" had to be satisfied- L'Occitane's Shea Butter Hand Cream.

Retailing at $12 for 30mL, this hand cream is housed in a metal tube that reminds me of a paint tube (and note how similar the packaging is to Crabtree & Evelyn's hand creams!). L'Occitane's Shea Butter Hand Cream is described as a super-smoothing cream blended with 20% shea butter, honey, sweet almond extract and a jasmine aroma which glides on to help heal and protect dehydrated skin.

Excuse my dry hands, that's what hand cream is for right?!
First impressions were that L'Occitane's Shea Butter Hand Cream was a thick white, paste-like cream which struggled to come out of the tube, as well as a strong scent which I personally am not fond of which reminded me of old lady's soap. Not only did I find the hand cream to be a little too greasy for my liking, but most importantly it didn't feel like it moisturised my hands at all! After the cream absorbed into my skin, my hands felt dry again which I'd never had happen to me before with any other hand cream.

Disappointingly I don't see the fuss about L'Occitane's Shea Butter Hand Cream, but this is just my personal opinion! However I do love their Cherry Blossom Hand Cream which has a consistency exactly the same as my beloved Crabtree & Evelyn hand creams. Despite this, I think these hand creams would make wonderful Christmas gifts as stocking fillers.

Unfortunately I have been trying to use this hand cream as much as possible so I can get rid of it, it isn't my cup of tea! Also an apology for my lack of blogging activity- I had a stressful exam period (what cruel person puts 4 exams in the span of 5 days?) followed by an amazing holiday to Malaysia, Hong Kong and Thailand with family which was a wonderful break. I will begin to post more hopefully and I'm thinking of doing a travel essentials post next!

Have you tried any of L'Occitane's hand creams? What is your favourite hand cream?

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Review: Essie Nail Polish in Secret Affair

I love a good sheer and pale pink/beige polish as I adore the clean look it gives to the nails. Initially I had been eyeing Essie's Ballet Slippers and Imported Bubbly, they are gorgeous! However it must have been a lucky day when I went Myer and they had discontinued Essie nail polishes for $8 (they retail for an absurd $17 here). Here it was when I found Secret Affair and I had to grab it, despite having so many nail polishes which I don't even wear.

Surprisingly this is the first Essie nail polish I own myself! I love its gorgeous packaging, and there is nothing more pretty than the embossed "essie" on its bottle. I would love to have a collection, but seeing as I don't paint my nails often, there really isn't a point... such a shame because they are so beautiful.

Application was easy, and drying time was average. My only qualm was that it started chipping the next day... tut tut, not happy at all. But since Secret Affair is such a pretty subdued shade (this could even be a great shade for weddings and for the office) I think I can forgive it for chipping so quickly. I've been thinking of getting the shade Sand Tropez but I'm not sure how it'll fare on my skintone, but I must refrain as money is getting tight!

Two coats of Essie Secret Affair
Have you tried Essie nail polishes? What is your favourite shade?

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Review: Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Ultra Lift and Firm Concealer

I don't usually use concealer much at all, but for the rare occasions that I do, I never have much luck at all. It is so frustrating as they would either turn out to be the wrong shade, look cakey, or have dismal coverage. After a long time of trying many different concealers, I think I might have found one that I like- hello Elizabeth Arden Skin Ceramide Ultra Lift and Firm Concealer (what a mouthful!). 

Top: Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Ultra Lift and Firm Concealer in 1 Ivory
Bottom: Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Skin Smoothing Concealer in 2 Fair

I picked these two up from My Chemist for a mere $10 each which is a huge bargain- I believe these retail for $50 at Elizabeth Arden counters in Australia! I must say I was very happy with the purchase. One thing I just noticed is that these concealers have two different names- I'd assume that the Ceramide Skin Smoothing Concealer is the old name for the new Ceramide Ultra Lift and Firm Concealer. Doesn't really matter though, as their formulas appear to be the same with the exact same consistency and texture.

What I love about the Ceramide Ultra Lift and Firm Concealer is that it really lives up to its claims, it is ultra creamy, crease-proof, provides full coverage and smoothes fine lines. I found that it didn't stick to any dry patches of skin, which I find that a lot of other concealers do- not a great look to be sporting around. What I absolutely loved was the creaminess of the concealer, and it is probably how I envisage NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer to be (I'm not willing to fork out $35 for a concealer yet...).

Shades L-R: Ivory, Fair
Nothing really new or exciting about the packaging of the concealer- it is just your typical concealer tube with an applicator. I like applying the Ceramide Ultra Lift and Firm Concealer by using the applicator to dab a little product on the area I want to conceal, and then blending it into my skin with a finger which works a charm. Note at the colour difference between the two shades Ivory and Fair- Fair doesn't look fair at all! These shades both fulfil my needs for a brightening concealer (especially for under the eyes), and a concealer to cover blemishes. 

I don't use concealer very often at all, so I have a feeling these two tubes of Ceramide Ultra Lift and Firm Concealer will last me a while and I won't have to hunt for the perfect concealer any time in the near future!  

What concealer do you use? Do you have concealers in different shades for different needs?

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Review: theBalm Mary-Lou Manizer

Highlighters. A product that isn't crucial for your everyday makeup look, yet when introduced, you cannot turn back. I first heard about theBalm's Mary-Lou Manizer from Essiebutton and never really thought about buying it, I just thought it would have been something nice to have. Then came along a few more reviews and I couldn't resist. The tipping point was when David Jones had a fantastic offer- spend $27.95 on any theBalm products and receive a Shady Lady Eyeshadow Palette worth $49.95 for free! Must I say, after parting with $34.95 for the Mary-Lou Manizer, I came home with not one product, but a Shady Lady Vol. 2 palette as well, which I will review another time. Today it's all about Mary-Lou.

L-R: Shady Lady Eyeshadow Palette Vol.2, Mary-Lou Manizer

Packaging wise,  Mary-Lou presents itself well. The 8.5g of beautiful highlighter is encased with a sturdy click case which I have no doubts of failing me, if I were to tote it around. The Mary-Lou Manizer is described as an innocent honey-hued luminizer which can be used as a highlighter, shadow and shimmer, giving either a subtle glow or a sexy sheen, depending on the amount you use. I found the champagne colour of Mary-Lou absolutely gorgeous and I can see it being very flattering on all skin tones.

The first swatch of the Mary-Lou Manizer was amazing- this finely milled highlighter is unbelievably smooth, buttery soft and pigmented! There surely couldn't be anything that could feel any more luxurious than this beauty. The best thing was that it provided such a beautiful shimmer without any chunks of glitter. The results were effortless- even though it is quite pigmented, it is hard to go wrong and nothing couldn't be fixed with extra blending! The perfect brushes to apply the Mary-Lou with would be Real Techniques' Contour Brush from the Core Collection, great for highlighting the cheekbones to make them pop, and the Real Techniques' Blush Brush for the perfect sheen.

No other makeup here except some Garnier BB Cream for Sensitive Skin and theBalm's Mary-Lou Manizer. You can definitely see what a difference this beautiful highlighter does, and it gives such a healthy glow to the face. Mary-Lou can also be used as a highlight to the inner corners of the eyes too, and wow, does it impress. Longevity is stunning and is also my favourite way of brightening and opening my eyes.

I am glad that theBalm's Mary-Lou Manizer found its way into my beauty collection, and I have no regrets whatsoever. However thank goodness for the David Jones offer, as without it, I wouldn't have had that extra incentive to purchase such a multi-purpose, luxurious and impressive highlighter.

Paired with Real Techniques Blush Brush for a lovely sheen

Have you tried theBalm's Mary-Lou Manizer? What other highlighters do you use?

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Review: Grown Alchemist Lip Balm Watermelon & Vanilla

I'm no stranger to the bargain corner of a store. So when Priceline had a shelf hidden at the back of its store, stuffed with marked down products (I'm assuming discontinued products) I had a look around. My friend was able to snag a Trilogy Rosehip Oil Antioxidant+ with a bonus cream for only $15! I found a whole row of Grown Alchemist products which I didn't know a lot about. I remember always walking past this brand, scoffing at its ridiculously high prices, however I decided to pick up the Lip Balm in Watermelon & Vanilla for $5, down from $19.95 for 12mL.   
I must say I am admiring the box, made from recycled card and actually feels of quality. The lip balm itself is encased in a metal tube with a simple twist lid, from afar you wouldn't think it was a lip balm! I'm also liking the simplicity of the monochrome design, it makes it look very minimalist. 

Grown Alchemist  does not test on animals and also uses certified organic ingredients, which is always a great plus in the skincare and beauty field. The lip balm is described as a luxurious silky vitamin and antioxidant rich lip balm that hydrates, softens and nourishes the lips- I am such a huge sucker for lip products! The lip balm is a clear gel, but the main first impression was that it smelled amazing, a sweet candy scent that was reminiscent of my childhood, which brought back many nostalgic memories. I was in love!

But back to its lip hydrating capabilities- I was a little disappointed but perhaps it is due to my very high expectations for lip balms (I will review my most favourite lip moisturising product soon, keep an eye out!). I felt my lips became dry not long after application. I had to constantly reapply- which although is a pleasure because of the wonderful scent, I would rather it have longer lasting effects. I can actually say it is similar to the Lucas' Papaw Ointment in terms of moisturisation- it really wears off quickly and doesn't leave the lips moisturised (due to the petroleum), but I'm glad that the Lip Balm in Watermelon & Vanilla doesn't have petroleum. At $5 I did not have any regrets, but if I were to pay the full price, I would have been disappointed.

Have you tried any products from Grown Alchemist?

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Review: Garnier BB Cream for sensitive skin

I don't know about you, but on those cold winter mornings when you wake up wishing that you can snuggle in bed just a little bit longer, you find yourself in a rush to get ready for the day. One of my saviours has been easy-to-slap-on BB cream which requires minimal effort. When Garnier first released their original BB Cream formula a couple of years ago, I was so excited to snatch it up and found that its thick formula was perfect for my dry, dehydrated skin, and was a nice shade match for me. Earlier this year, out came the Garnier BB Cream for sensitive skin and I happily picked it up, eager to see how it compared to the original formula.

The Garnier BB Cream for sensitive skin is described as a formula that soothes and reduces redness of the skin, along with the million other claims BB creams always have including correcting blemishes, evening and illuminating the skin while providing SPF protection. This sensitive skin formulation was fragrance-free which I thought was great for those who didn't like the scent of the original- although I personally loved the fresh pleasant fragrance it had! These BB creams are definitely more on the moisturising side and can leave a dewy or shiny finish that some people may not like, and I'll probably stay away if you have oily or combination skin. If you have dry to normal skin like me, then these will be great!

L-R: Garnier BB Cream for normal skin, Garnier BB Cream for sensitive skin

I had really liked the original BB Cream as it worked well with my skin despite being a little on the greasier side, which I didn't mind as I could always set my face with a pressed powder to mattify it- like the Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder. I never realised that the original formula was made in Germany while the sensitive version was made in France! When I first used the Garnier BB Cream for sensitive skin, I actually found it a little difficult to blend into my skin and that it sometimes balled up on my face. It was so hard to work with depending on what skincare products I had put on my face earlier (usually rosehip oil, a moisturiser and sometimes a sunscreen) and the product would constantly rub off into little balls! I found that it made my face more pink than usual, opposing the fact that it was meant to "reduce redness".

 After many uses I found the sensitive formulation to be quite temperamental- sometimes it would stay on, other times it would rub off and leave a mess. However eventually I found a way to minimise the balling up of the product- to use my Real Techniques Buffing Brush or by minimally blending in the BB Cream using my fingers. Because of this, I have to say I like the original formula for normal skin better, as it didn't have the problem of "balling up" on my face which made it just that much easier to use.

L-R: Garnier BB Cream for normal skin, Garnier BB Cream for sensitive skin
I absolutely love the simplicity and ease in using these BB creams with its natural-looking coverage, perfect for quick morning routines when I want to indulge in a sleep in! I find that its thicker formulation is great for keeping my dry skin moisturised , and any oiliness around my nose was fixed with a little powder and I was good to go. There is also an oily skin version for those with oilier skins which I believe will not have the dewy finish that these BB Cream formulations have. 

Have you tried the Garnier BB Creams? What are your go-to products for lazy mornings?

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Review: Bioderma Sensibio H2O

It would be a sin to be a beauty blogger and not know of the famous Bioderma Sensibio (or Crealine) H2O Micelle Solution. This French water-like gentle solution is a cleanser and makeup remover in one, adored and labelled by many as their "holy grail" product for removing makeup. You could see why I wanted a piece of its action! While Sasa had a free shipping offer, I quickly went to place the Crealine H2O in my online shopping basket, however it was out of stock so I went for the Sensibio H2O, which is the newer, re-branded name for the Crealine. I don't think I had ever been so excited to remove my makeup until I had this bottle of Bioderma in my hands!

I purchased this large 500mL bottle of Bioderma Sensibio H2O for $30 which I think was a great price, seeing as a 250mL is sold in selected pharmacies for the same price! Touted for its gentleness on sensitive and intolerant skin, this fragrance-free micellar solution is described as being able to capture and emulsify fatty molecules (such as makeup, dirt and oil) while maintaining the skin's natural balance. 

Many have raved about how easily it removed heavy eye makeup in one swipe, and a general consensus was that it was extremely gentle on the eyes as well as having minimal residue left over- which is great as Bioderma claims that there is no need to rinse after cleansing with the Sensibio H2O. However I did come across a couple of reviews where people were disappointed with how well this micellar performed in removing waterproof eye makeup- but Bioderma does say it only removes "water-resistant" makeup... whatever that is! So I kept this in mind while I removed my waterproof eye makeup.

MUA Heaven and Earth palette, L'Oreal Studio Secrets Eye Pencil, Revlon ColorStay Eyeliner 
I did a few swatches of the eyeshadows from my MUA Heaven and Earth palette (I might review this in the future) and a couple of eyeliners- with the one on the bottom being the waterproof Revlon ColorStay Eyeliner. I soaked a cotton pad with some Sensibio H2O, and swiped twice on my arm. The micellar solution resembles a slightly viscous water which is indeed gentle and felt refreshing and cooling on my skin- I found this excellent for using on the eyes. However I was actually one of the few people to be underwhelmed by its ability to remove eye makeup, if you look carefully you can still see traces of makeup on my arm! 

Further swipes managed to get most makeup off, however the waterproof Revlon ColorStay Eyeliner was quite stubborn and refused to completely budge! A quick swipe with my beloved Lacura Bi-Phase eye makeup remover (from Aldi, which I cannot find anymore) removed the stubborn makeup easily, albeit with a slight oily residue. I highly recommend using a bi-phase (oil and water emulsion) makeup remover to remove waterproof makeup instead of the Bioderma Sensibio H2O.

However not all hope is lost in the popular Bioderma Sensibio H2O- I found this to be excellent at cleaning face makeup. The one area on my forehead prone to breakouts was improved greatly after using this to clean my face properly, and I found it such a joy to use as it was so gentle and calming on the skin. Despite not being able to remove waterproof makeup, the Sensibio does work wonderfully to remove light to moderate makeup. After using it a few more times, I have really appreciated the soothing properties of this French micellar solution and find it a staple in my skincare routine.

I really want to pick up a 50mL sample sized or 100mL travel sized bottle- they are absolutely adorable! However eBay was selling them for around $15 so I didn't find that they were worth it, even though they would be great for travelling with (not that I travel that often... but lugging around a 500mL is definitely not convenient). If anyone finds a better deal on the 100mL bottles, please tell me!

Overall I do like the Bioderma Sensibio H2O, although it isn't the best product for removing heavy eye makeup. It is definitely a product that is worth trying though!

What do you think of the Bioderma Sensibio/Crealine H20? What size bottle do you have?