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).
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?
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.
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.
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.)
Last year, I was sent some hair extensions to try from Irresistible Me*. I took an arty photo and then neglected them entirely, mostly because they were incredibly long (Rapunzel Me) and I was intimidated (Intimidated Me).
I’ve always had the intention of getting them back out (Well-Intentioned Me) and playing with them, but I knew they needed a lot of work. I’ve had hair extensions before (two of them pictured in a 2013 blog post about my hair history) but they’ve always been cheap and a bit shitty.
The Irresistible Me ones aren’t cheap or shitty, so I wanted to do them justice… but then in January I was at my hair appointment with Matt and spontaneously decided to colour my hair black (Spontaneous Me) and suddenly the dark brown hair extensions wouldn’t look so good in my hair.
Well, the black has softened a bit and I felt guilty enough (Guilty Me) to finally give these extensions a good chance. And I’m impressed! (Impressible Me.) But it took a bit of work to get there.
I wrote about my high-end foundation collection fairly recently (okay maybe not that recently), but given some of those foundations are pushing $100 NZD, I figured I better write about some more affordable foundations too. A lot of these I’ve written about individually, so I’ll link to those reviews where I can.
Truthfully, I never have good luck with cheaper foundations, which is why I do tend to pay for more expensive ones. Because foundation goes all over your face, it’s more visible when it’s either the wrong colour or a bad texture, so in my mind it’s worth spending the money to get it right.
In makeup school I got a shitty Kryolan lip palette as part of my basic kit. Kryolan isn’t a bad brand by any means, but for some reason the colours included meant it was virtually impossible to mix a natural brown or pink shade. The formula was also quite sheer and slippery—not good for longevity, especially if you’re doing wedding makeup.
My solution has been to gradually build up the most expensive item in my kit: a custom MAC lipstick palette housed in a Vueset Tahiti container. I picked the Vueset Tahiti because it’s transparent, airtight and incredibly compact, while still fitting a full MAC lipstick in each well.
The Becca Prismatic Amethyst Highlighter is a duo-chrome lavender highlight powder. Given I barely wear makeup on the daily anymore, let alone a makeup look that warrants highlighter, let alone a makeup look that warrants pearlescent purple highlighter, it’s not the most utilitarian purchase.
Having said all this… I fucking love it. It’s so extra, it’s so unnecessary, but it’s also beautiful. I bought it as a kind-of birthday gift to myself, and because ‘prismatic amethyst’ sounded witchy and mystical and amethyst is my birthstone and even the pattern pressed into the powder is beautiful.
With natural skincare brands proliferating in New Zealand it’s sometimes hard to care about new ones—so your brand uses natural plant oils, like every other brand on the market? Congrats.
That’s not the case with Essence of Humanity. They’re a social enterprise, and 100% of the surplus proceeds from their products go to a charitable trust working against poverty. It’s a great concept, especially if you’re not keen on your beauty dollars going to multinationals.