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™.
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?
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.
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.
I did 48 Hours again this year, a few weeks ago. If you’re not familiar, it involves working with a team to make a short film over the course of 48 hours. It’s exhausting but also super fun, and extra fun this year is the fact that the makeup I did is nominated for Best Makeup in the Wellington region! I don’t know if I’m allowed to post photos before the finals, but I’ll post them as soon as I’m certain I can.
Anyway, putting makeup on other people means one shitty thing: I have to clean my makeup brushes beforehand. I have a shitload of makeup brushes, so I usually have a good selection clean already, but I have some favourites that are always dirty. Also, with 48 Hours you never know how what you’ll be doing or how many people will be in your cast until you’re kind of… in the middle of it, so it’s better to be prepared.
Handily, I’d been sent the Brush Bar and Brush Board* not long before, so at least I had the novelty of new products to try while cleaning my brushes. The Brush Board is designed to make cleaning brushes faster and more thorough, and the Brush Bar helps them dry quickly and in a good shape, without risk of damaging the ferrules.
It’s technically the end of winter but it’s still cold af and it’s not going to warm up any time soon, in Wellington at least. With cold weather comes the combination of biting cold winds and dry air-conditioned offices, a great recipe for, uh, nothing really, unless you like being cold and battered by the weather and also being gradually converted to a dry husk when you’re indoors.
I try to drink tons of water at work—not literal tons, but at least two Pump bottles a day—to stay hydrated because that’s meant to be good for you, but also to give myself the excuse to get up and go for a walk every now and then, whether to refill my water or to go to the bathroom, again, because I’m drinking so much water. This has the positive side effect of keeping my skin slightly more hydrated and clear, or so I like to think.
In the depths of winter my skin needs a bit more though, and I know other people’s skin does too. At least four people have asked me how to combat the redness, dryness, flakiness, tightness, general sadness that comes with dry winter skin. Four whole people! I’m going to have to quit my job soon to handle the flood of requests for skincare advice.
The challenge in keeping your skin hydrated throughout the day is that a lot of the time, people are wearing makeup and aren’t so keen on massaging a layer of expensive hydrating serum into their foundation. The ten dollar solution? A bottle of hydrating facial spray.
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!)
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!)
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.
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.