Catherine Reviews..

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

First Impressions: Illamasqua, Soap & Glory and MAC

Here are a few new products that I purchased recently first Soap & Glory's Pulp Friction Foaming Body Scrub. I love the branding of Soap & Glory products, the packaging is bright and girly but not too contrived or childish (I'm looking at you Benefit) and the product names are usually clever and are sometimes a bit cheeky which I like. I've used this a couple of times and I really like it so far, it seems to do the exfoliate well and I really like the way it foams. The smell might not suit those who dislike fruity scents but it doesn't linger after you've rinsed it away.

I recently ran out of my Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua foundation (review here) and after hearing that Illamasqua was touted as a brand good for pale skin I decided to give it a try. Unfortunately, there is no counter near me so I bought the Skin Base in number 2 online, relying on various  Google image-searched swatches. It's not a bad colour match as it matches my neck and shoulders perfectly but because of its paleness and its medium-coverage (I'm used to a much lighter coverage) I feel it drains just a little too much colour from my face. This could probably be rectified with the right blush/bronzer/contour combination but I will probably also mix it with a slightly darker shade of foundation just to make application a little less involved. I will definitely be posting a review of it further down the track.

Finally, MAC Sheertone Blush in Tenderling was a very recent purchase but something that has been on my wish list for awhile. I was looking for a good muted pink-brown blush just to add subtle definition to the cheeks and I was debating over a few different options before I decided on Tenderling. At first when I swatched it on my hand in the store I was slightly afraid that it may be too orange for me but quite the contrary, when applied to my cheeks the peachy tone helps to give me a lovely warm glow which suits my cool-toned skin well. Not too orange, bronze, or muddy I plan to use this as a contour too, to warm up my skin when necessary (see above).

Stick around to see full reviews of these products in the future!
Have you used any of these products before? What did you think? Let me know!


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sun, Summer and Swimwear

It's summer in Australia and that means one thing - very hot weather. Today for instance, it's going to reach a maximum of 38 degrees Celsius and just a week or so ago we had 5 days over 35, with at least two of those days being over 40.

So what does one do when the weather is so awful? You could retreat indoors into the air conditioning but that's not particularly fun or adventurous. Australia also happens to an island which means it's surrounded by water and a trip to the beach can be perfect solution to a hot summers day.

This, although more exciting than the former option, does come with it's own host of problems especially for someone who is as fair skinned as I. This is mostly do to with the sun and it's harmful UV rays. Firstly, I do not tan ever, I just burn. So lying on the beach sunbathing is not an option.  Even the highest SPF cannot properly protect me from the worst sunburn for more than maybe half an hour.

Obviously certain areas of skin are easier to to take care of/cover up and some places like the legs, stomach, face etc. However, the areas of my body that are the most sensitive to sun burn/sun exposure are the shoulders, neck, back etc places which are just not provided with any coverage by the standard  two piece swimsuit/hat/sunglasses ensemble. And because sunscreen just sometimes doesn't cut it I am faced with the dilemma how to keep sunburn free without having to go the awkward wet t-shirt route.

Then I found the answer...


A two piece swimsuit with sleeves! This one is from Black Milk and is the first swimsuit with sleeves I've seen that I can actually purchase right nowfor a reasonable price. It's part of their new collection called The Day I Tried to Live, which was released yesterday. I'm so excited for these and I hope they make more of this design in different colours. It's not perfect but it still has more coverage than a regular bikini.

I'm not sure if I'm going to get this one, only because I'm not a huge fan of the word pattern on it or the colours available and also because I already have a new swimsuit and to be honest, I don't often go swimming. However, despite all this I am still quite tempted to just purchase it purely because of the design. If they brought out different patterns however, I would be first in line.

What do you think of this design?
Do you have a similar war with the sun like me? Let me know in the comments below!


*Disclaimer: image from

Monday, February 18, 2013

Laura Mercier Oil-Free Tinted Moisturiser in Porcelain

Today I'm going to review a much discussed and well-liked product which is the Laura Mercier Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer. I bought this to be suitable to wear during the day on hot summer days and to help even out my uneven skin tone with the added bonus of having SPF20.

Overall, I really like this tinted moisturizer. It applies best with the fingers and blends out fairly easily. The product seems quite thick coming out of the tube but it blends out to be quite sheer and is successful evens out my skin tone without too much concealer needed. However, I've had pretty good skin the past few weeks (touch wood) so it hasn't been tested over any major blemishes. Another thing about this TM is that it is very moisturising even though I have the oil-free version it gives my a healthy glow, I don't use much moisturizer under this just on my driest areas. If you have oily skin and live in a warm climate  you might want to try before you buy (my skin is combination btw).

The colour match is also perfect for me in shade porcelain it's very light and not too yellow so I recommend this to people who are pale skinned and have trouble finding a decent colour match (for a good set of swatches visit karla sugar). Really the thing that this falls down on is wear time, it only lasts probably 6 hours wear-time max without the need for touch ups. I don't care that much about wear time though so I'd still be willing to purchase this again.

In Australia this TM retails for $59.

Does anyone have any other TM recommendations?
Have you tried the Laura Mercier one?


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Monochrome & Gold

Monochrome & Gold
Half and Half Spot Tee Topshop / American Apparel disco pants, / Bardot flat pointy shoes
So apparently monochrome is in for spring & I was initially wondering how this trend could work in spring and not be too errr... black and white. But then I saw this Topshop Half and Half Spot tee which is neither black-with-white spots nor white-with-black spots. It's both! I think this is a subtle take on a classic trend especially when paired with the ever-popular  American Apparel disco pants.  I also incorporated some gold accents to jazz it up a bit but I totally think that this look could work without them for a more understated effect for day time. 

What do you think about this rather unusual colour scheme in store for Spring? 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

First Impressions: Laura Mercier Oil-Free Tinted Moisturiser

The other day I went shopping with my sister to spend some vouchers that we were gifted for Christmas. I bought the Laura Mercier Oil-Free Tinted Moisturiser in Porcelain. The reason I decided to give this tinted moisturiser I try because it is raved about everywhere and I've been looking for new and better base products after my Foundation Dilemma.

I've never used a tinted moisturizer before and I bought one mainly for use during the day because of the SPF factor and for a lighter coverage. As for my first impressions of this is that it is certainly very moisturising and it does give my face a healthy, dewy look. Even though it's oil free and claims that it's supposed to control oil production I feel like if you have oilier skin than me it may be too dewy for you (my skin is combination).

The formula itself seems very thick when you squeeze it out of the tube but it applies and blends very well. It is also applies very sheer as you would expect from a tinted moisturizer.

Keep your eyes open for a full review further down the track.


Friday, February 1, 2013

January Favourites

If you are a regular peruser of this blog (hi!) you'll notice that I didn't do a December Favourites post. This was mostly because I really had no new products to share with you guys.  This month however, I got a lot of great  presents for Christmas and my favourites this month reflects just how good at present giving my family and friends are! Or maybe it just shows how good they are at buying things that I ask for! :p

 I already mentioned these first two products this in a First Impressions post, they are the Chanel Rouge Allure lipstick in Pirate and the L'Occitane Almond Shower oil. Both of these products I got for Christmas, although I received another bottle of the shower oil for my birthday too (hence the full bottle in the photo).

The Chanel lipstick is amazing, it's quickly become my favourite red, it's a not so bright but very red blue red. Perfect for night time and my research has told me that it is popular with those who never wear red lipstick. With a swipe of MAC Cherry lip liner underneath this baby lasts me the whole night even with a couple of drinks. However, reapplication  is necessary if you're planning on eating.

The L'Occitane shower oil has quickly become staple in my bathroom, the smell is relaxing and almost sensual and because it emulsifies with water makes it perfect for shaving.

Another lip product which I recently mentioned as well is the Apivita lip care with beeswax. Normally I find chapsticks too waxy and not soft enough to apply but this once is just soft and moisturising enough without it melting in the hot weather. It's SPF 15 which is a bonus all year round.

Lastly are two mini-sized nail polishes I got for Christmas which were part of the Mecca Cosmetica Best of 2012 nail polish collection. The  blue, called Thaisia, is a lovely dark greyish almost navy blue whereas the brown-y shade, Maria, is a sort of taupe-y mushroom with a tiny bit of shimmer that doesn't really appear on the nails. The formula is easy to apply and lasts a good while on my nails I never really wear nail polish for more than a few days at a time anyway, I will definitely purchase these in full size when I finish the mini bottle.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Review: REN Starter Kit for Combination Skin

Early last year I got a couple of persistent blemishes last year every time I would stay over at my boyfriends house. I quickly realised that this was simply because I was not washing my face properly before bed and using face wipes was just not cutting it. There began an extensive search for some suitably sized but effective products. I couldn't believe how  difficult it was to find a decent cleanser and moisturiser in travel-friendly size.

I finally stumbled upon the REN starter kits out of which I bought the one for Combination skin. I do have Combination skin but really the main reason I bought this one was because they didn't have the Normal skin one available to try (more on that one later).

The Combination skin starter Kit contains three products, a cleanser, a moisturiser and a face mask. There's the T-zone Balancing Day Fluid (15ml), which is a light but still nourishing moisturiser. I really liked this moisturiser and would happily use it as an every day moisturiser except it's a tiny bit pricey for the full size. The face mask is the much blogged and raved about Invisible Pores Detox Face Mask (15ml). This is a good mask as it does give the skin a good deep cleanse and I found it did decrease congestion around my nose, however most of the time it was too drying for most of my face and could only use it on the most oily parts. 

The stand out for this kit was by far the cleanser, which is Ren's Mayblossom T-zone Control Cleanser Gel. This gel cleanser foams up in your hands and then you massage it over your face for a good but non-stripping cleanse, then rinse it off when you're done. I was really happy with this cleanser it was super gentle but solved my overnight spot problem, it was initially a bit hard to get used to because it doesn't lather that much, you have to rub it in your hands first to get the best results. The reason it doesn't foam is because Ren products don't contain sulfates. This is just one of the chemical nasties that Ren's products are formulated without, parabens and mineral oil are two other things you won't find in their products.

Overall, I really enjoyed this starter kit and have already purchased the one for Normal skin to give that one a go. At around $32 for one starter kit it's a great way to try out new, high-end products for a reasonable price and super convenient for travelling. 

Have you tried one of the Ren starter kits?
What are your favourite travel-sized products?


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

First Impressions: Birthday presents!

It was my 22nd birthday last Saturday and I had a great day and got lots of good pressies, the main one being a Microsoft Surface which I am currently typing this blog post on. I also got a few little things including a Butter London nail polish in Dahling which is the perfect plummy pinky shade especially because I'm loving everything plum at the moment (is that wrong since it's summer here?).

The second thing is the Apivita lip care with Chamomile, beeswax and olive oil. This is a pretty quality chapstick much softer then the others that I've tried. I usually find chapsticks to be too waxy and too hard to apply but this one glides on easily. It's SPF 15 so it's great to just through in your bag to have on hand during the day but if you have really dry lips, like me, your probably need to have a more nourishing treatment at home. Even so I was very happy to welcome this Greek chapstick to my very extensive collection of lip care products.

Have you tried either of these to products?
Hope you're having a great day!


Monday, January 21, 2013

(Nearly) Empties: REN & Avene

I'm pretty slow at getting through products so it's always pretty exciting when I get the end of something especially if it is something that I hadn't tried and repurchased before. There's always a fair bit of considering to do when this happens. Did it actually work? Was it worth the money? Will I repurchase it? Won't I?

Today I'm going to share with you two products in attempt to answer the above questions.
Firstly there's the REN Jojoba Microbead Purifying Facial Polish which claims to be a manual exfoliant for sensitive skin. My skin is sensitive but also quite congested and definitely needs good exfoliation without the risk of over irritating the skin. For this purpose the soft Jojoba microbeads combined with the mild cleanser are pretty much perfect although I felt in making it suitable for sensitive skin it may have compromised the effectiveness of the exfoliation. But definitely not enough for me to not consider repurchasing. As it is so gentle I can actually use it over all of my face (not just in the T-zone like I have to for some others) without making my face too dry and I can also use it almost daily without problems.

It's definitely something that I would recommend for anyone who has sensitive but slightly congested or flaky skin. As for the repurchasing question, I probably won't buy it again straight away as I want to try some chemical-based forms of exfoliation but if that doesn't work this would definitely be a fall-back product for me!

Secondly, is the Avene Soothing eye contour cream which I sort of bought on a whim whilst I was buying something else and saw that the Avene range was on sale. I love the idea behind their range as it's all about treating skin that is sensitive to varying degrees but still having products that work, the range is hypoallergenic and non comedogenic. I decided to get this eye cream because I'd never used one before and I thought it'd help my often tired eyes. After using it for about 6 months (the 10ml tube lasts ages!) I have definitively decided that I would repurchase it. It made my eyes feel so much better and even seemed to brighten them a little. It's very light and soothing and I have had no adverse reactions to it at all, it is also very good value considering how expensive eye creams can beI think I bought it for under the $30 mark.

Have you tried either of these products? Would you repurchase them?


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

First Impressions: Antipodes Apostle Skin Brightening and Tone Correcting Serum

Ok so, I'm new to serums and  I'm still not sure what exactly they do but after seeing this featured by Megan on lipssofacto and in her 2012 favourites I had to give this one a try.

The Antipodes Skin Brightening and Tone Correcting serum promises to correct dull, blemished or uneven skin using fruit enzymes and uses the 'world's best water' to hydrate the skin. The packaging recommends daily use. And there's also a sticker on the box which claims it delivers brighter skin in five days. I only got mine this morning so I can't vouch for that yet but I'll let you know.

The packaging also says that it's made from 100% organic ingredients and is certified organic. The serum does indeed look organic, it basically looks and smells like fermented fruit but not overpoweringly so.

So far it seems pleasant to apply and I hope that I will see the numerous red splotches on my face fade whilst using this. I'm still dubious about the five day claim though but we'll see!

Have you tried any Antipodes Products?
What's your favourite serum?


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Foundation Dilemma! Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua in B30

L to R: Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua foundation,
 Poudre Universelle Compacte, Le Blanc de Chanel

The title of this post is probably a misdemeanour as I do really like all the products mentioned in this post, the difficulty that I have with foundation in general is that I can't find a decent colour match! It's always too dark, to orange or too yellow!

But here's how I got on with a mix of overall stellar Chanel products that have been forming my foundation routine over the last few months.

Firstly, I start off by taking a small blob of Le Blanc de Chanel Sheer Illuminating Base on the back of my hand ready to mix in with my foundation. This base is sort of like a primer in that you can blend it all over your face before you put foundation on. However, I wouldn't really call it a primer because in my experience, it does nothing for the longevity of the foundation although it does whiten and brighten the skin like it says on the bottle. It does tend to make my skin a little to greasy if I use it like a primer though so I stick with mixing it with my foundation. Another annoying thing about this is that it doesn't come with a pump just a screw top with a wide opening and spatula to scoop out the product (which I lost ages ago).

Then I take a blob of Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua in B30 on the back of my hand and mix the base and the foundation together. I do this essentially to lighten the foundation because as you can see from the swatch below (without Le Blanc base added), even blended out this foundation  is a bit dark/orange for me.

Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua in B30

This swatch is a little too damning though because obviously my face is a tad darker than my forearm. Also this foundation is a fairly easy to blend with a foundation brush I just have to work extra hard to make sure there no colour discrepancies, it's made easier with the addition of the base to the foundation which does lighten and sheer it out a tad. The only problem with adding the base is that you get a very sheer coverage which is really good when my skin is in great condition but not so good if it's a little red and blotchy.

Vitalumiere Aqua is known for being build-able but I can't really do that without compromising the colour match. Otherwise it's a really light foundation, you cannot feel it on the skin at all and it barely looks like you're wearing anything except flawless skin.

Lastly (after concealer) I use the Chanel Poudre Universelle Compacte in 20 Clair Translucent 1 which is a natural finish pressed power. I apply this with a soft powder brush all over the face to set my make up. This powder is very fine and you actually cannot see it on the skin at all so there is no cakey-ness, it keeps my make up on all day without compromising any desired dewy-ness.

But back to my dilemma, which is my colour problem I have been matched to this colour by more than one MUA even when I said I thought it was too dark. The reply was that the lighter foundation colours would be too yellow for me, which is probably true but B30 just makes me look tanned and I don't want to look tanned! I know I have cool-toned skin (pink undertones) but I can't find a foundation that does and I know that a lot of companies eg Chanel, YSL have Beige Rose colours but they are just not available here.

I'd love to know if anyone else has cool toned or pale skin and whether or not they have any recommendations. If I can't find anything else I'll probably just end up mixing shades from the VA range or something.

Thanks for reading my mammoth length post!


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Jurlique Jasmine Hand Cream

Jurlique's Jasmin Hand Cream is hands down my most favourite hand cream, pun most certainly intended. I'm one of those people who barely goes a few hours without re-applying some sort of moisturiser to my hands, they get so unbearably dry even in the summer. So much so that in high school I was known for carting around a small tube of hand cream because I couldn't stand having dry hands.

I've tried so many different types of hand creams, cheap ones, expensive ones, fragranced and unfragranced, those ones for 'extremely damaged' hands. But none of them even come close to this one from Jurlique. It's very light, absorbing almost instantly and makes your hands feel moisturised and does not leave them dry again after only a few minutes (this happens unbelievably often with me).

Jurlique have a couple of different fragrances for their hand creams presumably which all work the same but just smell different, however I've never tried them because I absolutely love the Jasmine one and whenever I buy one I can't resist the lovely light floral scent of the Jasmine. The smell does hang around a bit on your hands which is something that I quite like a) because I like the smell and b) it's super handy when you've just washed the dishes or removed nail polish as it gets rid of unpleasant smells that stick around even after you've washed your hands.

The only downside is that it is expensive, there's no way around that. As a consequence I usually don't buy it for myself. It's $28 for 40mL which is handy for travelling and the size I normally get. The one pictured above is 125mL and is one that I got for Christmas. I'm not sure what it's normal price is but the 40mL is on sale on feelunique at the moment.

Do you have really dry hands?
What's your favourite hand cream?

Catherine <3

Sunday, January 6, 2013

MAC Plumful

Happy New Year everyone! I'm going to start the new year off by doing a review of MAC Plumful lipstick which I featured in my first First Impressions post.

I said in that post that it was a great shade for my lips which  could be worn during the day and at night for a more subtle but still dark-ish lip. I still totally stand by my first impressions of this product, it's a great lipstick shade it's not too purple or too pink it's the perfect berry/plum shade.

Another great thing about this lipstick is that it's a MAC Lustre finish which means it's a little bit sheer but can be built up if desired, handy if you want a day-to-night look. This also means that it's really easy to apply and can, in my opinion be worn during the summer without looking too dark or out of place.

The wear time of Plumful is about 4 hours on me which is about average for a MAC lipstick.

I would highly recommend this lipstick for anyone who was looking for a very wearable plum-toned lipstick that is not too red,  too purple or too dramatic. It sits right in the middle of all of that and is a great buy.

In Australia it retails for $36.

Have you tried this lipstick before? What's your favourite plum-tone lip colour?