LIPS | Making my own lipstick at Blend Beauty

Blend Beauty Lower Hutt custom lipstick experience

Since I saw photos of the Bite Beauty lip lab in New York City I’ve been dying to try a custom blended lipstick ~experience~. You get to go along and they work with you to blend a lipstick to your exact preference and then put it into a tube right there for you.

Then a few months ago I was invited to the opening of Blend Beauty, a custom lipstick and foundation blending experience at Dollface Beauty Hub in Lower Hutt. Custom lipstick right here in the city I grew up in! And it’s a local business!

So obviously getting a custom lipstick blended is super fun, but it has some other advantages too. If you’ve ever felt like you can’t find just the right red or nude or whatever for you, this is the way to try a few iterations and adjust it until you get something perfect. Or if you have a lip colour you love but it’s discontinued, the team at Blend Beauty can whip you up a match. And did I mention it’s really fun? And cheaper than buying a MAC lipstick, even? (It’s $37!)

SKIN | Why doesn’t all skincare come in pump bottles?

In my last few posts I’ve been threatening to write an ode to pump bottles, so it was only a matter of time.

Beauty products, skincare in particular, come in all sorts of stupid delivery methods. The worst is bottles with droppers, but jars suck (exposing product to air and grubby fingers) and I can even find things to complain about with screw-lid squeeze tubes (let me pop the cap open with one hand, damnit!)

SKIN | New in supermarket skincare

Skin by Ecostore skincare

The supermarket is one of those public places where you don’t speak to people. It’s an unspoken rule, like on public transport, that everyone minds their own business and you don’t even acknowledge anyone else unless you’re apologising for getting in their way.

I had to violate this rule recently when I was looking at the skincare (just looking—I like to know what’s there) and there was a clearly stressed out dad next to me. I don’t know why his teenage daughter thought it was a good idea to ask him to get her some moisturiser without specifying exactly what to get, but after I asked him “What are you after?” he informed me of this and was palpably relieved that a stranger was willing to help him.

After apologising for asking him more questions (“How old is she? Does she have bad skin? Morning or night?”) I directed him to, well, not the skincare I’m about to write about. To be fair, at that point I hadn’t tried it, and didn’t want to forever live on in this man’s memory (or his daughter’s) as the person at the supermarket who suggested something terrible. But in hindsight, I could happily go back and recommend the ecostore range just as much as I recommended Goodness (no surprises there).

And so, after a three-paragraph loosely-related preamble, let’s talk about Skin by Ecostore.

FACE | Nirvana Bourbon and juicy lips

Elizabeth and James Nirvana Bourbon inspired makeup look, with Glamglow lip plumper

After all the griping I’ve been doing lately I thought I had better post a makeup look to remind you that a) I do have a face and b) I put makeup on it occasionally.

This look was inspired by Elizabeth and James Nirvana Bourbon which you probably can’t buy unless you live in the United States (or if you’re despo, try eBay), but if you can buy it, you should, because it’s damn delicious. My friend Esme brought me back a bottle and I love it, I love the bottle which looks like a 60s cigarette case (is it problematic to find that visually pleasing??) and I love the smell. It smells like your jacket after a party where you stood close to a bonfire and then someone spilled bourbon and coke on you. It does smell like booze, so if you aren’t into that, then this is not for you… and perhaps I should stop wearing it to work.

I also took the opportunity to try the Glamglow Plumprageous Matte Lip Treatment—the first in a series of lip plumpers that I’m testing because I’m a permanent skeptic but am also permanently curious. There’s a before and after in this post.

SKIN | Ayurda Ayurvedic skincare #ad

Ayurda Ayurvedic skincare range

I’ve been thinking a lot about balance lately. It’s something I’ve talked about a lot in my psych appointments and it’s what has been missing in my life, I think. I’ve been working a lot for a long time, taking on more work than I need to because I don’t know how to not work, and I don’t know how to relax.

Balance is at the core of Ayurveda medicine, a philosophy with roots thousands of years back in India, but which is quite new to me. Danielle wrote about Ayurveda a fair bit when we were writing for xoVain but I didn’t read up on it fully until I was contacted by the folks at Ayurda skincare. It’s about balancing mind and body, and taking an holistic approach to health and wellness. I’m firmly in the modern medicine camp when it comes to health in general, but natural, plant-based skincare is welcome in my world—as long as it works.

I’m not a spiritual person at all and I don’t believe in souls or anything like that, so my skepticism is hard to suppress. I struggled to buy in when their website said it could tell me my Ayurvedic skin type from just a quick multi-choice quiz (because I get a different result every time I do the Myers-Briggs test and find astrology novel but entirely made up) but there it was: I’m a Pitta predominant, apparently, which means my skin is sensitive, oily and prone to redness. Which is true!

HAIR | The L’Oreal ‘Extraordinary Clay’ saga

L'Oreal Extraordinary Clay hair range

I’ve had a real problem with products over-promising lately. And by over-promising I mean completely misrepresenting everything they are, from ingredients to what they claim to do.

The L’Oreal Elvive Extraordinary Clay range made its way to me thanks to Beauty Review (if you live in New Zealand and aren’t a member, definitely go join) and I reluctantly stopped using the L’Oreal Botanicals Coriander range (which I do rate highly) to try it out. It turned into an absolute catastrophe and I am as resentful as a person can feel towards a range of hair products.

I know the photo’s average, but I hate the entire range and frankly gave it a better photo than it deserves. I should have photographed it in the bin (but I can’t bring myself to throw away it away because everything’s practically full so maybe I will offload it onto someone unsuspecting who doesn’t read my blog, in the guise of a generous gift).

LIFE | Beauty brands are taking us for a ride

After I’ve paid my rent, bills, taken the cat to the vet (he’s fine, thanks for asking!) and whatever other expenses come up, I spend a lot of my spare income on beauty products. I love expensive perfumes and am prepared to drop cash on skincare, whether I’m testing something that’s trending or want to treat myself.

Most of the time, though, beauty products don’t need to cost much, and when things are expensive, you’re paying for the brand, the concept and the feeling of expensiveness rather than something that’s of a truly higher quality.

We’re all being taken for a ride. There’s no other way about it—brands don’t care about helping you get a bargain, or “empowering women” or whatever marketing fluff they’re selling you this week. They exist to make money. They cannot exist without you purchasing their products and making a profit off the products they’re selling you.

I learned this more than anything while I worked at Clinique. The ‘cost’ of a product to the store, or to the brand, is less than half what you pay retail. We should all know this anyway, but when you see the numbers written down it really brings it home. And the cost is even more inflated when the product itself doesn’t contain expensive ingredients or benefit from extensive innovative research.

So with all that said, what beauty products are you wasting your money on?

FACE | MAC Next to Nothing vs Face and Body

MAC Next to Nothing vs Face and Body foundation

What don’t I need? More foundation. What am I instantly interested in? New foundation launches. So when I got the news that MAC were launching a new foundation, or should I say “face colour”, called Next to Nothing*, I was keen to try it—especially so I could compare it to Face and Body.

I’ve written about my high-end and affordable foundations lately, but I omitted MAC Face and Body from both blog posts, because I wanted to dedicate an entire post to how much I loved it. It’s my preferred daily foundation, and it’s also pretty much the only foundation I use in my makeup artist kit. Of course, I never found time to do an entire post about it, but in summary: I love Face and Body.

Face and Body is lightweight and can be worn very sheer on the skin, so the big question about MAC’s new Next to Nothing Face Colour launch is how well it holds up against that.

I’m looking for a natural finish, not too matte or dewy, that evens out the skintone without looking like I’m wearing a lot of makeup. It sounds like a lot to ask, but it’s what Face and Body offers, so it’s not impossible.

SKIN | The Body Shop Seaweed range

The Body Shop Seaweed Oil-Balancing Toner and Oil-Control Gel Cream

I’m always on the hunt for skincare for oily skin that doesn’t consist of stripping foaming cleansers, alcohol-based toners and instantly-evaporating “balancing” gel moisturisers. And who does it well? Duh, The Body Shop.

These two items joined the overflowing basket of skincare that is my life when I went along to the opening of The Body Shop’s new Queensgate store a few weeks ago. The store’s flash, but it’s the products that matter, and the Seaweed range is pretty dope.

BROWS | NYX Micro Brow vs Anastasia Brow Wiz

The Anastasia Brow Wiz has been my preferred eyebrow pencil from way back (and by way back I mean literally, right-the-way-back-to-my-first-ever-blog-post-in-2013 way back.) It’s a bit expensive though, and that fact hasn’t changed either. I’ve tried other brow pencils over the years but haven’t found anything that I like as much as the Brow Wiz.

Then Farmers started selling NYX and I had a Farmers voucher so I ordered the NYX Micro Brow pencil. It looks virtually identical to the Brow Wiz so naturally I was curious to see how it held up. (Plus for $20 it’s about half the price of a Brow Wiz pencil.)