Sunday, September 27, 2015

Power Glow

When mega Youtuber Jaclyn Hill collaborated with Becca, releasing a limited edition shade of their Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed called Champagne Pop, the frenzy was real. As a makeup junkie, there was no way I was missing out. I briefly contemplated using Shop and Box, but was holding out for a better option. Thankfully, Becca decided to release a limited quota of Champagne Pop to Australian customers through their local online stockists. (I'm not sure if they have any plans for it to be sold at Sephora stores in Sydney.) I pre-ordered mine on 13 July, paying $60.01 with $6.95 shipping and using a $5 off first order code. Delivery time was estimated to be mid-August, but the shipment was delayed and arrived 9 September. That was kind of disappointing, since I was already planning on going to the States from 29 August to 12 September, and knew I'd most likely to be able to buy Champagne Pop there. But in any event, I was just glad when it finally arrived safe and sound.

Becca Champagne Pop

l-r: Dior Amber Diamond, Charlotte Tilbury Highlight, Becca Champagne Pop, theBalm Mary-Lou Manizer, Stila Kitten

I'd never owned any of Becca's powder highlighters before, though I've been tempted by the lightest shade Moonstone. The popular Opal seemed a bit too dark and orangey for my tastes, and the other colours like Rose Gold and Topaz looked more like shimmery blushes than highlighters. Jaclyn Hill describes Champagne Pop as her "dream shade", and from early reviews and swatch comparisons, it was apparently a cross between Moonstone and Opal. Makes sense to me, since I'd always thought it strange there was such a huge jump from the pale Moonstone to the noticeably darker, warmer Opal.

The texture of these highlighters is very soft, smooth and almost creamy, similar to theBalm Mary-Lou Manizer. It's incredibly pigmented that you only need a light touch for BAM! HIGHLIGHT. It's one of those products where the brush you use becomes very important in not overdoing it. I've been reaching for the long, small and fluffy Burberry Eye Brush - Socket Line No.09 to apply Champagne Pop to my cheekbones and brow bone. It probably doesn't give as much precision as I'd like, but it limits the placement of the product and diffuses the edges so the highlighter isn't so stark and prominent on the face.

I do find because it packs such a punch and is so reflective, if the brush has too much product, it can feel and apply in a slightly gritty and chunky way. To avoid that, I'd be mindful to use a small amount each time, not overloading the brush, applying the highlighter precisely and lightly to the skin, and going over the edges of where it's placed with a clean brush to softly blend it out into the surrounding skin. I sometimes even pat the highlighter with my finger to take off excess product and gently work it into the skin more.

Colour-wise, it's a peachy gold. Compared with other high end powder highlighters I have, Dior Amber Diamond (all shades blended together) is more pinky orange, Charlotte Tilbury Highlight (in the Filmstar Bronze & Glow) is more beige/champagne, theBalm Mary-Lou Manizer is the most similar in terms of texture and pigmentation but champagne in colour, while Stila Kitten is a silvery rose gold. On my skin, Champagne Pop leans more yellow than peach, but overall translates as a relatively pale neutral gold.

It has this strong metallic smell reminiscent of cheaper eyeshadows made in China, which I wasn't expecting. Of course, it doesn't affect performance, but is one thing I noticed that I haven't heard anyone mention. I also don't think this is the most finely milled highlighter I've tried. If anything, Champagne Pop does lean more shimmery than sheeny, but I guess that's the tradeoff for mega effect. I find the Highlight shade in Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow to be superior and better quality, but Champagne Pop is still a product I'm happy to have. I'm not sure if anything can outdo it for pronounced glow, and sometimes, you just want to shine — loudly, obnoxiously and unapologetically.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Sephora Haul

So ... I didn't intend to not post for a month, but if you've been following me on Instagram, you may have known I was on holidays in the US for a couple of weeks. Things were a little hectic the week before and after the trip, so I've only now had a spare moment to get things in order with the blog. To make up for my mini absence, I've returned with some makeup p0rn: a Sephora haul!

My last trip to the States was 3 years ago, and because I was clueless back then, I didn't create a Beauty Insider account. This time, I made sure to remedy that. Even with the abysmal state of the Australian dollar (long gone are the glory days of parity), I didn't exactly exercise restraint. (Though I did manage to avoid buying any lip products, so I'll give myself that.) It's surprisingly stressful when your travelling companion, like an AA sponsor, limits your visits to Sephora to the number of fingers on one hand. I had to make sure I wasn't skipping over anything I would regret not buying, but also not go completely overboard (because as we all know, that's easy to do).

My loot (hauled in one and a half weeks, over 4 Sephora stores):
  • Smashbox Primer Water ($32 USD, about $50 AUD)
  • Laura Mercier Foundation Primer - Radiance ($20 USD, about $30 AUD)
  • Clinique Cheek Pop in Nude Pop ($22 USD, about $34 AUD)
  • Anastasia Beverly Hills Shadow Couture World Traveler Palette ($30 USD, about $46 AUD)
  • Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara in Brown/Black ($10.50 USD, about $16 AUD)
  • Maison Martin Margiela Lazy Sunday Morning Rollerball ($25 USD, about $39 AUD)
  • Fresh Sugar Lychee Rollerball ($22 USD, about $34 AUD)
  • Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Moonstone ($19 USD, about $29 AUD)
  • Fresh Soy Face Cleanser ($15 USD, about $23 AUD)
  • Elizabeth and James Nirvana Mini Rollerball Set ($25 USD, about $39 AUD)
  • Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser's Invisible Oil Shampoo ($11 USD, about $17 AUD) 
  • philosophy Purity Made Simple One-Step Facial Cleanser ($11 USD, about $17 AUD) 
  • Benefit Rockateur Box o’ Powder Blush ($28 USD, about $43 AUD)
  • Too Faced Love Flush Long-Lasting 16-Hour Blush in Baby Love ($26 USD, about $40 AUD)

So basically, I spent a lot of money.

Mind you, that's not all the cosmetics/skin care stuff I bought in the US. Ugh. 

I did also buy the Boscia Tsubaki Cleansing Oil-Gel but I ended up returning it the next day after one use because it left my skin feeling taut and dried out.

Some of the stuff was literally more expensive than if I'd bought it in Australia (Smashbox Primer Water, Too Faced blush), some was only slightly cheaper but basically the same price (philosophy cleanser, Benefit Rockateur). The extensive rollerball display at Sephora was like Christmas and I was pretty ecstatic when two perfumes I'd been eyeing were available in rollerball form (Maison Martin Margiela Lazy Sunday Morning and Fresh Sugar Lychee, both unavailable in Australia). I also couldn't resist any of the good ol' minis (Fresh cleanser, Elizabeth and James rollerball set, Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector, Laura Mercier primer, even that darn 60ml bottle of Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser's Invisible Oil Shampoo which I classify as the most ludicrous purchase ever, because as if I do hair, as if this shampoo is especially better than other shampoos, and as if I couldn't buy 2 litres of Pantene for the same price).

It didn't feel right to come away from Sephora without an eyeshadow palette, so I limited myself to just one: Anastasia Beverly Hills Shadow Couture World Traveler Palette. The price was right, the reviews were mostly positive, I hadn't seen the palette available at the Sydney Sephora store, there are a multitude of shades and finishes, and I was curious to try my first product from the brand. I had listed the Make Up For Ever Artist Palette Volume 1 – Nudes as a potential purchase, but the shades/packaging seemed underwhelming to me in person. Maybe neutral shadow fatigue. I wasn't interested in the new Naked Smoky palette from Urban Decay at all. I had a look at Buxom, and while the shadows swatched beautifully, nothing was really calling out to me as a must. Other options (Smashbox, Laura Mercier, Tarte, Stila) were too expensive with the currency conversion. I kind of wanted the Bobbi Brown Telluride Eye Palette but it was $52 USD, which would've worked out to have been $81 AUD. Like, no.

l-r: Too Faced Baby Love, Clinique Nude Pop, Benefit Rockateur

Bottom to top: Too Faced Baby Love, Clinique Nude Pop, Benefit Rockateur

Bottom to top: Laura Mercier Radiance Primer, Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Moonstone

l-r: Laura Mercier Radiance Primer, Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Moonstone

For some reason, I was super into the idea of dewy, highlighted skin, so I purchased the Laura Mercier primer and the Becca, with the idea of potentially mixing them into my foundation, or applying it to my face before foundation for added natural luminosity. I also bought a small tube of MAC Strobe Cream and a Benefit set that included a 'That Gal' Brightening Face Primer sample, so I'm good with liquid highlighters for now. After trial and error, I've learned to avoid placing luminiser over my nose, and that a 40/60 ratio of highlighter and foundation is a bit excessive.

While I'm sure I have similar blushes to three I bought, I'm really happy with all of them. Too Faced Baby Love almost reminds me of a pinker/plummier NARS Douceur, Clinique Nude Pop is like a muted version of NARS Madly, and Benefit Rockateur is a foolproof pick that goes with anything.

One product I'm on the fence about is the Smashbox Primer Water. As a primer, it did absolutely zilch, and as a setting/refresher spray, I'm not convinced it's any better than much cheaper options such as rosewater or even MAC Fix+. I do like the packaging and the spray mechanism, but I'm not sure if that's $50/116ml like. Probably not, but now that I've bought it, I'll try to forget about the inflated price tag and enjoy it.
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