FACE | 17 quick reviews for 2017

I deliberately withdrew from pre-Christmas hype this year, and managed not to think about Christmas or gifts much until December 23. The year I worked at Farmers over the Christmas period definitely spoiled a lot of the magic for me, and since then I’ve tried to avoid the spendspendspend hype as much as possible.

Last year I wrote about my disdain for Christmas gift guides and for most beauty-related Christmas giving, and I still feel the same way—except this year I expressed it by not writing a word here for six weeks instead. My attitudes towards beauty in general have changed a lot over the past year, which I might write about another time.

Now, though, to make up for six weeks of silence, I’m writing something that might be useful: seventeen quick reviews of products I used in 2017. I haven’t written about them here before, so it’s all New Content™.

LIFE | Two social enterprise Kickstarters worth backing

(Well, one’s technically a Pledge Me, not a Kickstarter, but nitpicking over details is a waste of time.)

A few weeks ago I worked on a photoshoot for a new underwear brand based in Wellington, called nisa. Nisa is a social enterprise producing organic cotton underwear made by women with a refugee background, and they’ve launched a Pledge Me to get the company off the ground.

Another Kickstarter on my radar, which I’ve already backed but needs more support, is indigo & iris.

SKIN | Vestige Verdant comes to New Zealand

Vestige Verdant premium organic skincare

Vestige Verdant is a luxury natural skincare brand hailing from Estonia, which is newly available in New Zealand and Australia. I don’t know a lot about Estonia—the only connection it sparks in my mind is with a guy from Estonia I knew on a music forum, years ago.

What I do know is that these products start off very well with a minimalist and stylish packaging design in the vein of Sunday Riley, which I am particularly susceptible to for some reason. Perhaps because it’s a natural brand that isn’t yelling at me from the packaging that it’s paraben free, organic, chemical free, no nasties, bullshit ad nauseam. I mean, it is paraben free and organic, but they focus on the effectiveness of their ingredients rather than screaming about what they don’t include.

SKIN | A mask to boost your vitamin C products

Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin E mask

I’ve been on a real rollercoaster of emotions when it comes to the pairing of vitamin C and niacinamide in skincare. When I wrote about niacinamide a year ago, general advice seemed to be that using vitamin C and niacinamide products together was potentially dangerous for your skin: the L-ascorbic acid could convert niacinamide to nicotinic acid, which can cause redness.

Then I was told about this niacinamide-containing mask by Klairs, which they were marketing as a mask to boost the efficacy of their vitamin C-containing serum. I figured no cosmetic company would promote the combination of products that would make your skin worse (surely) so I did a bit more research—and decided it was time to get my shit together and finally write my ‘What the hell is vitamin C?‘ post.

In this case, the explanation from Paula’s Choice lays it out clearly and simply: only pure vitamin C could convert niacinamide to nicotinic acid, and even then it needs high heat to complete the conversion, much higher than you’d find on your face or in the lifetime of your cosmetic products.

So let’s talk about the Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin E mask (with niacinamide), shall we?

FACE | Max Factor Miracle Touch foundation review

Max Factor foundation review

I’m a foundation fiend. Along with lipstick, it’s probably the category of makeup that I’m most prepared to buy, despite having more than enough foundation to cover my face for as long as I’ll need and having found a few foundations that I’m perfectly content with.

I didn’t buy Max Factor Miracle Touch foundation—I was sent it to review by the team at Beauty Review along with the Max Factor Smooth Miracle Primer. (Beauty Review is a NZ-based beauty review site that’s worth joining, if you haven’t already!)

I’m glad I didn’t buy these products, because they’re A Bit Shit.

SKIN | What the hell is Vitamin C?

Well this post has been sitting in my drafts for far too long so it’s time for me to stop procrastinating and tell you why you should care about vitamin C in skincare.

Vitamin C’s having a real time at the moment, helped by the proliferation of vitamin C and vitamin C-adjacent serums in The Ordinary’s lineup. It’s a complicated ingredient, though, and it’s fickle—not all types of the molecule are created equal, so it’s important to know what you’re buying. Even the wrong type of packaging can make your vitamin C product a total dud.

So who should use vitamin C in skincare? Oh, you know, everybody. It’s one of the most versatile skincare ingredients, having measurable effects for preventing and repairing signs of aging, preventing and repairing dark spots and other pigmentation, minimising inflammation… it’s a comprehensive list, basically.

BLOG | How I stage my blog backgrounds

I don’t blog about blogging very much. I have lots of opinions about blogging, but they tend to go on my Twitter and never make it to fully-formed blog posts. (The real ruthless ones get saved for my little Twitter.)

One of the things I have opinions about is how blog photos are staged. I’ve gone through various phases of how I like to take photos of beauty products (and of myself). I use a purely white setup if I’m lazy, and I like using coloured paper, but paper gets ratty and picks up makeup marks easily, and is also Murphy’s favourite thing to shred.

I tend not to stage photos in the classic ~flatlay~—it’s just not me. Occasionally I’ll put a candle or something in a photo but truthfully, I feel like beautifully staged flatlays imply that I have a beautifully staged house full of adorable trinkets. The reality is more like a house full of crap that I shovel out of the way to clear the minimum amount of space I can take a good photo in.

I can never get excited about interiors ‘inspiration’ and minimalist design, as much as I’d like to, because it stresses me out wondering where everyone’s stuff is. Where are the car keys, the cables, the scissors, the cat toys, the bobby pins, the D&D dice, the spare batteries, the letter you have to remember to post, the washing that needs folding, the button that needs sewing back on, the pictures that need hanging on the wall still? (These are all things I can see from where I’m sitting.)

Writing for xoVain, we had to provide all our own images and no plain white backgrounds were allowed. That’s when I learned how handy fabric was as a photography background. All the Youtubers do it now, of course, with acres of sequined fabrics hung slightly out of focus behind them. My strategy is much more low budget!

LIFE | 48Hours—I won best makeup!

A couple of posts ago I mentioned that the makeup I did for my team’s 48Hours film was nominated for Best Makeup in Wellington, and it turns out that I won! I wasn’t at the screening/Wellington finals but got a message from a friend who had been there saying congrats, so that was a nice surprise.

This isn’t going to be much of a blog post but I wanted to post a couple of screenshots from the film and a link to watch it if you feel like it. There’s a kind of revolving crew of folks that make up the team and I’ve worked with them for the past three years. It’s lots of fun, although very exhausting—and I somehow always end up getting roped in to act in it as well. I’m in this one. It is what it is ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

NAILS | Essie Treat Love and Color

Essie Treat Love and Color in Sheers to You

If you’re new ’round here, let me tell you one thing. I love essie. It’s the only nail polish I buy, because it’s the only nail polish I have consistently good results with. The bottles are adorable, they store nicely because they’re square, and the brushes are nice and wide and make it easy to paint one nail in 2–3 strokes.

I’ve been a bit disloyal to essie lately because I’ve discovered the beauty of the gel manicure. I’ve had a go with at-home gels before, with disappointing results, but a real gel manicure at a real salon is a real delight. I go to Ariana at Dollface Beauty Hub in Lower Hutt, and then I plaster my nails all over my Instagram story because I love how they look. (Gel nails have also allowed me to grow my nails to a reasonable length for the first time in years!)

The problem with gel manicures is that no matter how carefully they’re done, they can be a bit rough on your natural nails. Getting them on involves the manicurist lightly filing the surface of your nail so the gel sticks properly, and even when that’s done carefully, it’s inevitably weakening the structure of your nails.

I’m getting at something here, I promise: the new Essie Treat Love and Color range. It’s a combination nail strengthener and tinted coloured polish, designed to strengthen dry and brittle nails. It comes in a range of super stylish sheer shades, and I’ve been giving pearly pale pink shade Sheers to You* a whirl.