February Makeup Buys

Last month I went on holidays with my dad, which included lots of tasty food, a little sun, a lot of rain and an absurd amount of makeup shopping. Surely I’m not alone when I say that picking up beauty buys in the airport is one of the best bits about going away.

Anyhow I made a lot of impulse buys and picked up one or two products that I’d had my eye on for a while. These included Benefit’s Fine-One-One cream blusher and the Benefit bronzer, Dallas, both of which I probably saved €4-ish on in the airport. I’ll get back to these two products later but funnily, it’s the splurge-buys that I’ve had a lot more fun with and managed to seamlessly integrate into my makeup bag and daily routine.

My splurge list is pretty long and I don’t want to think how much this lot cost.

[Inhales dramatically]

Here we go:

While away I picked up Mac Prep + Prime BB Cream (in Extra Light); Kiko Soft Focus Compact Wet & Dry Mineral Foundation (02 Peach Pink); two Kiko face brushes (106 foundation brush and limited edition powder brush); Kiko Skin Glow Light Effect Day Cream and Mac Creme in Your Coffee cremesheen lipstick. Remarkably, the Kiko stuff came to less than €50 while the Mac BB cream was nearly ten euro less in Malaga airport than it was in BT2, Dundrum.

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I discovered Kiko two or three years ago when a friend of mine, Ailbhe, came home from Rome and told me about this European makeup brand she’d discovered, which was packaged like Mac, had the same variety as Mac but retailed at a fraction of Mac’s prices. Myself and Ailbhe visited Kiko on several class trips to Rome, Paris and Madrid but each time I was a little reluctant to commit to more than lip balm or cheapie mascara. This time, I decided to surf their website before heading in to the shop and because the shop was significantly less busy than the stores I’d visited in Madrid and Rome I had the option to play around with the products and work out what I wanted before waving goodbye to my cash.

Because Kiko was only launched recently in the UK and is still not available in the US, it’s quite difficult to find information on Kiko products. MakeupAlley reviews were limited I found and YouTube tutorials and blogs were nearly always in Italian. But here I am writing about these products in English and I have to say they’re fantastic.

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The Skin Glow Light Effect Day Cream is without a doubt the weakest link in the chain. I wear it almost every day but I doubt I’d replace it when it’s finished. The cream comes with a handy pump and looks quite thick when squeezed onto the skin. Once it’s rubbed into the skin it becomes transparent and has a light sheen, which I usually rub into the apples of my cheeks and over the bridge of my nose. It also has an SPF, which is pretty impressive for a €12 moisture cream but my main gripe with it is that it’s a tiny bit sticky. It’s certainly a good, cheap product and great for me because I never have the patience to apply highlighters or brighteners to my cheeks and skin. But the sticky-factor irritates me and it doesn’t feel particularly hydrating on my skin.

It looks thick but becomes transparent after it’s rubbed into the skin

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I’d probably mark it 6/10.

The other Kiko products would probably get top marks. In fact I cannot talk them up enough. A few years ago my mum bought a Mac foundation brush, which I used a few times but never really saw the point of. I’ve owned several cheap foundation brushes from Boots and The Body Shop, which were always those stiff paint brush types that leave awkward streak marks on your face. Until I bought this brush, I used my fingers and saw foundation brushes as a gimmick. But now I’ve given up using my hands and solely use this brush. The brush is soft and a little puffy at the end. It’s very easy to clean, dries quickly after a run under the tap and applies foundation almost flawlessly. My only issues is that there’ll occasionally be a stray hair or two after use but I feel like this is unavoidable.

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I’m equally in-lust with the powder brush, which is remarkably soft, especially for a synthetic brush. The large, angled fan makes it very easy to apply a light, loose lair of finishing powder instead of the dreaded moisture-sucking veil of white, which previously led me to give up powders completely.

Inevitably, I’ve been using the Kiko Soft Focus Compact as my new finishing powder and I think it’s pretty great! According to the instruction booklet, the makeup can be worn as a powder mineral foundation like the Bare Minerals range but it can also be applied to the skin with a wet sponge, giving it a creamier foundation look. I haven’t really tested the foundation claim to be honest. It comes with a small sponge, which I ran under a tap and rubbed onto the powder but nothing seemed to happen and I wasn’t particularly interested in a powder-to-cream formula anyhow. As a powder though, this is very good. The colour (02) is very light and I’ve worn it over my foundation and on its own as a mineral powder and both look bright and natural.

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I’ve always been a big exponent of Bare Minerals but stopped wearing the product because it was priced too high and contained too little product, which nearly always evaporated what with it being a loose powder. This however comes in a handy compact with a mirror and sponge (a little like Mac Studio Fix) and so far looks like it hasn’t taken much of a dent despite being used every day for the past month.

Because I buy a lot of Mac products I’m not as excited or surprised by how good the Mac BB Cream or lipstick is. I’m a big fan of BBs and usually find foundations heavy and irritating on my skin. The only problem is that most BBs seem to come in a one-shade-suits-all, which almost never suits me or my vampire-white skin. Extra Light however is pale, light and when I wan to build up coverage, I just apply a touch of foundation on top, which somehow never looks cakey or clogged.

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The lipstick, Creme in Your Coffee is also nice, easy to wear, not drying and generally a safe buy for someone who hates bright pinks, dark browns and who owns about eight different shades of purple and plum lipsticks.

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My last two buys, which I’m a little sceptical about are the Benefit cheek products that I picked up in Dublin airport.

I had read a considerable amount about Benefit’s Fine-one-One on the Internet, had tried it on at the counter and even watched this embarrassing promotional video that Benefit produced for the product’s launch last January.

This isn’t a bad product per se it’s just unnecessary. It comes in a really nice container, which looks like an expensive Zip Lighter. The stick, which is swivelled out of the container, includes three side-by-side colours that look like an intimidating pink and orange flag. It’s pretty easy to use and works by swiping the stick across the cheek with the lightest colour at the top and darkest shade middling around the centre of the cheeks. It’s then rubbed in, leaving a nice cream-t0-powder coral colour on the cheeks. But is this necessary? I’m very pale and like to smudge a lot of pink onto my cheeks. This product looks bright in the tube but when applied seems very light, the darker shade barely showing up at all on my skin. I have high cheekbones anyhow, so highlighter is a nice touch rather than total necessity.

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Fine-One-One is also very large, certainly too large to throw into my tiny handbag or carry around with me during the day. It also gets covered with a lair of makeup after I swipe it across my cheeks, which makes my blood pressure spike. I’m confident I’ll finish this product but I won’t be replacing it when it’s gone.

Benefit’s Dallas on the other hand is a good, basic product that smells nice and includes a lot of product (90g to be exact!) But as someone who’s never really used bronzer before, I find it a little intimidating (my makeup rule of thumb is that I should be able to apply all products in the dark while half-asleep.)

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In all, I bought a stupid amount and all of it has turned out alright. Some products were better than others and impressed me a lot but more-or-less I’m pretty pleased.

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Making It Up As I Went Along

I wrote this for the kind people at sirenmagazine.ie. Check them out if you haven’t already and remember to ‘like’ them on Facebook!

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I’m the badass one on the left wearing red. Notice how my shoes match my dress. Stylin’ circa 1995.

For whatever reason I’ve always been drawn to make-up. As a kid, I was very much a girly-girl. I wore dresses and colourful tights. Until I was seven I loved nothing more than sitting on my parents’ bedroom floor in a pair of my mum’s flesh-coloured pop socks, so long on my short legs that they rolled all the way up to my thighs. There I would carefully apply my mum’s brightly coloured lipsticks and pucker into her gilded bedside mirror.

Naturally, as I got older I stopped trying to emulate my mum. I lost interest in her make-up and easy-to-snag knee socks, and it wasn’t until I finished primary school that my curiosity in make-up piqued once more. Every time my mum and I went to the supermarket, I’d wander off to pick up shampoo or soap and stop off at the make-up section to eye up the funny tubes, sticks and pencils. Eventually I decided I’d have to invest in my first piece of real make-up. I was probably twelve going on thirteen at the time.

I’m a strangely secretive person. I scheme a lot and over-think every situation. In retrospect I could have asked my mum to buy me mascara in the supermarket. But instead I hatched a plan. I was going to go into town after school, stop off at the Building Society and raid my childhood savings account, then head off to Boots to kick start my first day as a grown up. Everything went to plan. I bought mascara. Rather expensive mascara in fact. The woman at the counter didn’t say anything either. I was so worried she’d ask if my mum was with me. She even gave me a receipt in case I needed to flex my consumer rights. I was so chuffed with my purchase. It was one of those L’Oreal mascaras with a wand at each end, one end white, and the other black.

I simply could not get over the transformative difference wearing mascara and not wearing mascara made. Some time last year I read a book on the history of glamour, which included the story of a New York chemist whose sister would apply a mixture of coal dust and Vaseline to her eyelashes. The girl’s brother recreated the product in his laboratory and sold it under the name “Lash-Brow-Ine”, which was the first mascara ever sold in the US. He soon learned that the product’s cumbersome name was holding it back and decided to rebrand it, combining the vital component, Vaseline, with his sister’s name, Maybel. Maybelline is now one of the biggest make-up brands on earth. When I read that story I wondered how Maybel felt the first time she saw her longer, darker eyelashes.

I remember the first time I wore my mascara outside. Every Friday I went to drama and one Friday I decided to wear it out. I looked in the bathroom mirror, wondering if it looked like I was trying too hard to be an adult. For a year, this strange arm’s length relationship with my mascara persisted and then one day, before starting my second year of secondary school, I suddenly went absolutely eyeliner-maaad. I couldn’t get enough of the stuff. I couldn’t wear enough of the stuff!

The teenage eyeliner phase is probably the most awkward. I’m secretly glad that Amy Winehouse became a global superstar when I was seventeen and had somewhat mastered the ubiquitous flick (or at the very least knew when the flick had beaten me and make-up remover was needed). Here’s a photo of me around this time. I’m wearing a lot of eyeliner but bizarrely have no eyebrows. This is down to one of two rather embarrassing reasons:

  1. at some point I accidentally buzzed them off with a razor because I was an idiot with a strange fear of tweezers
  1. I had overcome my fear of tweezers and accidentally shaped my eyebrows into some pink-plucked oblivion.

Either way, I’ve always had issues with my eyebrows and hair removal in general. Even now I still hate plucking them. Instead, once a month, I use an angled brush and paint on the eyebrow shape I want using dye. It’s easier. It doesn’t make me sneeze (surely I’m not the only girl who sneezes plucking her eyebrows?) and there’s no chance of any over-zealous plucking.

I find my hairstyle equally hilarious (I use the term ‘style’ loosely). I had managed to incorporate three totally different shades onto one single head. There’s light brown at the top, black-brown towards the bottom and some kind of blonde-ombré thing going on at the ends. Maybe I was ten years ahead of the trend? Maybe hindsight can often just morph into some sort of personal justification.

When I was fourteen I dyed the ends of my hair blue, with them then turning seaweed green, resting on an eventual orange-blonde. I dyed the rest of my hair black, then discovered that the black was a bit, well, black. For a long time, until my hair grew out, the roots appeared to be grey. I was going grey at fourteen! Fortunately, a new look was on its way. I was going to dye my hair blonde. But not before I dyed it a rather dull shade of brown. Like this:

In case you’re wondering I think I gave up smiling when I turned thirteen. I don’t own a single photo of me smiling before Transition Year. I also seem to have gone through most of my adolescence believing I had a side fringe when I didn’t.

When I was sixteen, I got my first job, working six hours every weekend as a cleaner. Not exactly glamorous but the influx of forty-odd quid every week meant that I had plenty of money to fritter away on hair dye and horrible eye shadows that I now regret and resent. I found this while cleaning my bedroom last week: Pout duo eye shadow in some horrific shade of blue. I wish I’d been on drugs when I bought it.

I also wish I had been on drugs when I wore it.

As far as I’m aware I only owned two Pout products and both were horrible. During my recent bedroom cleanup I found a second product called ‘eye slick’, which was sort of like lip gloss for eyes. It was grey, shimmery, and from what I remember quite difficult to apply. I think I used dot it along my lash line and rubbed it in to get the ‘dark and sultry look’ magazines always advocate, the one teenage girls go mad for on Irish Debs programmes. In reality, I probably looked like I had rubbed my eyes too hard and smudged my make-up. How ideal.

Luckily, I never really had skin problems as a teenager. In fact, spots were so uncommon that a bad one was enough to keep me from leaving the house. But as a fourteen year old with an interest in make-up and a fear of foundation, I couldn’t quite work out what the middle ground was. At some point I decided to give concealer a go. I remember robbing a particularly white one from my mum, rubbing it beneath my eyes and being shocked by its power to cover up dark circles. The only problem was that whatever way I put it on, it stopped rather drastically beneath my eyes. I had a flawless, well-rested finish that Kate Moss could only dream of. Followed by a lot of pink and some light freckling. I had a strange relationship with foundation for a long time, too. Even now I’m sometimes put off by how gooey it is. I remember trying on a Maybelline foundation when I was fourteen or fifteen, which was so thick that I felt like I was smearing toothpaste across my face.

I think I more-or-less got a handle on my hair colour and make-up regime around the time I finished Transition Year. Unfortunately I also started wearing tops that were a size too small, so as to make my boobs seem significantly larger. At the time I thought I had stumbled upon something brilliant and subtle. Now I cringe and hear my mother’s voice distantly asking “Would you not buy your clothes a size bigger, Michelle?”

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Going through these, what you may or may not have noticed is a lifetime love of hoop earringss and earrings that dangle. Nothing has changed. I still love a good piece of metal swinging from my ears. Except when I was eighteen I went to the doctor and mentioned that my earlobe was constantly getting infected and that one of my piercings was getting larger. So large in fact, I could fit paintbrushes and small pencils through it. My doctor didn’t find the situation as bemusing as I did and told me my earlobe was going to snap open soon and sternly told me that I had to stop wearing earrings immediately. A normal person might panic slightly and resent what they had done to their lovely ears. Instead I decided to wear my dangly earrings in the next piercing, right above the one that had almost snapped. As a result, if you look closely at my earrings now, you’ll usually notice that one is slightly higher than the other. They will always remain a little lopsided.

I’m sure there are plenty more mistakes, a litany, I could include. My past penchant for highlighter-colour bras could easily be a standalone post and no doubt future-me will blanch at the purple and plum lipsticks I love and wore throughout college.

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Above is a photo of me age-six alongside a photo of me taken last month. I am 23 years old now. Seventeen years have passed and I’ve somehow returned to the same haircut and hair colour. I don’t wear much make-up anymore and have thankfully come a long way since my blue eye shadow days.

Okay, so I forgot to apply my second earring but I’ve more-or-less found my footing, right?

Right?

Portlandia Top 5

I’ll skip the part where I mention that I liked Portlandia’s theme track  aaages before I watched the series and go straight to linking my favourite clips. That way when I ask “Have you seen Portlandia?” followed by an out-of-context quote, you’ll be more than covered. I got your back.

1) “Hey, I guess you’re never texting me back, so I’m annulling our friendship. Bye!”

I’m one of those people who’s had an iPhone for more than two years and who treats it like it like a small and delicate child. It doesn’t have a cover but leads a scratch-free existence. My stomach nose-dives everytime I watch this scene. I’d probably vomit if I dropped my iPhone.

2) “It’s kind of a house but it’s kind of falling apart? I think that describes your life right now, honey.”

One of my favourite clips right here.

3) “Does my voice sound fat?”

My favourite food is pasta. I constantly ask people if they think my face is getting fat and I once wondered if my voice sounded like a fat person voice or a thin person voice on the phone. Basically this is me:

4) “Did you read that thing in Mother Jones about eco-chairs and eco-ways to sit?”

5) “Imagine a Portland with 100% employment? A Portland where we all have jobs!”

A little tea came out of my nose when I saw this.