Makeup

pure intentions.

Who’d have thought that trying to do the right thing would be so hard…

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Flora finally had the hair she’d always wanted.

Every two to three months I encounter a mildly bizarre phenomenon: nearly all of my beauty and skincare products run out at Exactly. The. Same. Time.

SPF moisturiser? Nighttime moisturiser? Cleanser? Shampoo? Conditioner? Spot gel? BB cream? Mask? Scrub? ALL OF IT. Dammit.

The subsequent result is that my beauty spending will have been flat-lining and then there will be a spike somewhat reminiscent of yours truly on a sugar high after having devoured a piece slab of Lindt.

But that’s not the issue. The issue is that when all of my products run out I then remember that I am trying to be virtuous. (Emphasis on the “trying”.) And by “virtuous” I mean more organic/environmentally friendly/cruelty-free/toxin-free/paraben-free. But what the hell are parabens?

And thus begins my quarterly attempt at natural beauty.

It all begins with sunshine, sugar-free lollypops and rainbows without any artificial colours. I set out on my little adventure skipping off towards the fountain of all modern knowledge: Google. Because if you’re going to be green, research is pretty damn important.

Except research is boring. But more so, it’s OVERWHELMING. How green is green enough?

Is it made of all plant-derived ingredients? Are those plants organic? But, HOW organic? Is it free of toxins? Is it in biodegradable packaging? Does it have carbon credits?

Here are some fun things I’ve learnt along the way:

  • Miranda Kerr’s KORA Organics? Fun fact: only a small percentage (approximately 10%) of the ingredients in her products are organic.
  • Organic Care by Nature’s Organics, the supermarket option for environmentally-conscious consumers? Yeah, it’s mainly marketing. For one, their products are not organic so don’t let the parent brand name fool you. They proudly specify that they don’t have certain ingredients in their shampoos and conditioners (how wonderful!) but when you read the fine print they just have very similar ingredients with a different name (like “sugar”, “sucrose” and “glucose”). Ugh.
  • Botanical names are an utter b!tch. I feel like I need to do some post-grad study just to decode the list of ingredients. And then after you’ve decoded the flipping ingredients you then have to evaluate whether you would like to use them on your skin or not. Fun fact: every brand has a different cocktail of natural ingredients, which they can tell you without hesitation is better than everyone else’s. And it’s more organic than everyone else’s too. More organic. If you turn down something which is more organic then what kind of bad human are you?
  • A lot of the packaging is UGLY. Lots of it is either tacky and naff or really boring and dated. (Some notable exceptions include: Sodashi, Aesop and Grown Alchemist. You do good stuff, guys.) It seems like because they are au naturel that they assume that aesthetics are in conflict with their ethos. And while this probably reflects the values of some of their consumers, I am not one of them. I am superficial and I want to be WOOED by the packaging. I like marketing and visual communication. This is something that excites me. And thus, I want the packaging to be at least somewhat attractive. (NB: I find that this generally applies to gents, too. Attractive packaging goes a long way.)
  • Researching natural/organic/etc skincare is seriously like base jumping down into Wonderland. It is a whole new world down here. Think of all the fun you can have researching whether any of the benefits a product markets is actually of concern to you. For example, is natural better than organic? Are no parabens better than no toxins? Is vegan better than gluten free? (Yes, gluten free skincare). Cos if you’re going to bother to buy one of these green living products then you may as well make a conscious, informed decision, right?
  • And then you remember to ask yourself, “So, does the fact that this moisturiser is only made of natural ingredients mean that it will actually work?” And don’t think that you can stop to ask whether preservative free products are actually better for the environment. Don’t be stupid. You’re not meant to ask tricky questions! Also, something to keep in mind: it generally takes a month until you can really garner whether a product is working for you. Which means you’re kinda limited to properly testing 12 products a year. Have fun with that!
  • This is also not the time to remember that there is a strong correlation between gorgeous, glowing skin and drinking water, eating healthily and exercising regularly. That’s kind of irrelevant right now! I’m in the middle of trying to decide which preservative-free soap to buy!
  • Perhaps you want to sashay your way into organic/natural makeup. Enjoy! Also, have fun with the fact that as there are very few bricks & mortar stores which stock said products that you have to make your decision on which colour foundation is going to match your skin based on swatches on your computer screen. Cos that’s not fraught with danger at all.
  • On that note, is mineral makeup good for you? I heard that minerals were good, but then I heard that they were bad for you… But the brand has the word “Nature” in its name, so that must mean that it’s good, right? Right?
  • Then, darlings, you will get to the checkout and you will want gasp as you double check that you didn’t accidentally order three cleansers rather than one. No, don’t worry – no typos here! That’s right: you are about to pay an extortionate amount of money for products which you a) have not tried because you are unable to access any testers b) have comparatively few reviews on them because they are less-popular brands c) are expensive and d) which you have no idea will work for your skin! But it’s organic so input credit card details here!

Then you remember that you’re a student who is leaving her current job in three weeks time and that your bank account has seen better days. And so you close the twelve tabs that you have open. But, what to do now? You’ve already endured two days without a cleanser, telling yourself to hold out for your imminent purchase of a natural alternative.

But I still haven’t figured out what that obscure ingredient is. So, f*#& it.

Neutrogena? Garnier? MAC? Covergirl? Clinique?

My old faithfuls. I’m coming for you.

Alex x

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trick or treat?

It’s that time of year again. And no, I’m not referring to Mole Day (which is today, in case you’re wondering. Not that I actually know what Mole Day is. I didn’t actually read that Wiki link). What was I saying again? Oh, yes. It’s nearly HALLOWEEN, you ghoulish gherkin!

As a kid I wasn’t ever allowed to participate in any Halloween-related activities. No scary costumes, trick-or-treating or sugar highs for the Alex or her Sibling. Oh, no, sirree. I’ve been brought up in a Christian family and my parents didn’t want to support Halloween because of its ‘evil undertones’. (As an aside, they don’t have a problem with people just using it as an excuse to dress up.) Although I understood where they were coming from I always felt really left out and embarrassed about not being allowed to join in all of the fun with my friends. Perhaps this is part of the reason why I have become such an enthusiastic Halloween-celebrator now that I’m in my twenties. In addition to this, I have loved dressing up and mucking around with makeup since my infancy. I love that sh!t. I’m like a pig in mud. So, Halloween (and frankly any dress-up party) is stupendously exciting for me.

Except Halloween can be tough for us chicks because every year come October we encounter a dilemma: scary or sexy? A DEEP, PHILOSOPHICAL QUANDARY. I think the default for most of my girlfriends and I is the latter.. mainly because no-one wants to have a Cady Herron moment. Also, just thinking out loud, how did dressing up as a sexy (insert any profession or animal or character) end up being associated with Halloween? Hmm. Anyway.

In times like these, it’s best to turn to the timeless fountain of wisdom which any respectable young lady knows to consult: Mean Girls. Duh.

Exhibit A: Regina and the art of the Playboy Bunny costume.

Exhibit B: Cady and a lesson in how not to do Halloween.

meangirls

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In previous years I went down the ‘cute costume which isn’t even vaguely scary’ route. And now to introduce the most versatile, foolproof costume in my wardrobe (Drum roll):

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“I’m a mouse. Duh!” – Karen Smith, Mean Girls.

Despite it’s aforementioned versatility, this year I have decided that I am going to gently buck my trend and try to do something a little scarier, whilst still hopefully looking vaguely attractive.. Enter: the dark angel costume.

ImageSimilar to what I plan to sport come Saturday – except less Angel Face and a bit more Black Swan.

I think I have the costume ready to go, which just leaves the makeup – which, in the case of Halloween, I think is actually the harder of the two. How does one look scary and, well, Halloween-ey without oozing blood left, right and centre? Then we have the practicalities to negotiate: what happens if you happen to be in the company of some gorgeous gent at your Halloween party of choice and perhaps he’d quite like to kiss you (and you’d quite like to kiss him). However! you’re both a bit hesitant about your amazing, intricate Day of the Dead face paint getting a bit.. ahh.. smushed. Buzzz kill. Shame.
See why I said it was a dilemma? Now, because I am a makeup junkie, I have decided to see this as an exciting little challenge for myself. Yeah, ok, so maybe I was procrastinating a tad. This is a judgement-free zone, right?

Here’s what I came up with:

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My Sibling literally jumped when he saw me.

Beauty note for those interested (if you think makeup is boring as batsh!t, please skip this paragraph): 

Face: I made my face lighter by mixing some white face paint with my foundation. Alternatively, you could use a foundation colour lighter than your skin tone. Remember to mix some of the face paint into your concealer, too.
Eyes: I began with a lilac eyeshadow base and then built the intensity by blending a darker purple, a dark charcoal and then a matte black into the eye socket crease as well as bringing a little bit of the colour down to the lower lash line. Blend. Then I lined both the top and bottom lash lines with some basic black eyeliner and used it to create a small cat-eye. Then mascara as per usual. I smudged a bit of the purple and charcoal eyeshadows lightly under my eyes to create that ‘I haven’t slept in years!’ look I’ve always wanted. It was a tad messy, but oh well – I think it kinda works. Lastly, I defined my brows, making them a bit darker than usual.
Cheeks: I used the the excess black eyeshadow on my eyeshadow brush to contour my cheekbones. Blenddddd.
Lips: I used a super dark lipstick and then ramped it up by adding some of the charcoal eyeshadow on the outer edges of my lips – to create added depth and volume.  Alternatively, you could put on the lipstick and then blot it off if you’d prefer a less intense look (which I’ll probably opt to do). Blah, blah, blah woman.

Ok, beauty rant over, cherubs!

If in doubt in regards to the whole Halloween thing, I guess we can always just refer back to Mean Girls:

Exhibit C: No caption necessary.

Im-a-mouse-duh

Happy trick or treating!

Alex x

An editorial aside in regards to the first Mean Girls image: Although it featured in that gif, I’d like to clarify that I’m not in favour of using the word ‘slut’ – mainly because I don’t think that slut-shaming is particularly helpful for any of us. Okay. I’ve dismantled from my high horse. Ax

eye-popping.

In which I take my first steps into a tattoo parlour, armed with some blue eyeliner.

I have a confession to make: … I am not very badass. In fact, not even vaguely.

This was most recently evidenced the other week when I ended up stepping running into a tattoo parlour for the first time.

It’s not that I have anything against tattoos. On the contrary, I think they can be very beautiful and I always enjoy hearing the stories behind them, whether that be as to their significance or how they were (unintentionally) acquired.

Believe it or not, there was a time (c. 2010) when I seriously contemplated getting one myself, but, as you can deduce, it never eventuated.. which I take to mean that I didn’t love my design idea enough to live with it permanently upon my skin.

My exceedingly creative idea was to get a phrase about The Meaning Of Life en français on my arm. Oui, je parle le français and yes, I’m pretttty deep. As it turns out, it was a good thing I didn’t get it done as a friend has since pointed out that my intended placement (the tricep) will inevitably succumb to age and gravity and become bingo wings. That’ll definitely make for a great accessory in my 70s.

73474408e920bb14c52e95b84cdd21d9Yes, my tattoo idea was about as deep as “Fashion is not a religion”. If only the triceps didn’t morph into bingo wings. Sigh.

So, why on earth did I end up running into a tattoo parlour the other week? Good question.

Well, I was running late.. and I had been late for this amigo the last time we saw each other so I had promised myself to NOT BE LATE this time round. Unfortunately, I left the house later than planned and then ended up on a bus that was conservatively averaging 25 km/hr, so I jumped into a taxi for the last leg of the journey during which I devised a cunning plan: I would arrive at the bar before my amigo, finish off my makeup in the bathrooms and then pop out and meet the general public. Absolutely foolproof! What on earth could go wrong?!

Except then I got a text from my amigo saying that he was already at the bar. i.e. plan foiled. Expletive! So, I got out of the taxi and quickly embarked on a quest: to find the best place to finish off my makeup within five metres of where I was standing at that present moment.

I weighed up my two well-illuminated options: Dominos or a tattoo parlour. I decided that eau de meatlovers had the potential to be memorable for the wrong reasons, so I dashed into the brightly-lit sanctuary which was My First Tattoo Parlour. Like, Ever.

I rushed in with my regular amount of melodrama, landing on a couch and whipping out my makeup bag in one swift manoeuvre. The couple on the adjacent couch who were discussing their tattoo designs looked up at the bizarre creature who had crashed into their midst.

I was pleasantly surprised by how sanitised and orderly everything was inside the parlour: clean floors, black couches and an array of tattoo designs and inspiration which adorned the walls illuminated by some pretty decent lighting.. which was quite well-suited for doing one’s makeup with. Handy.

The Illustrated Man
Inside The Illustrated Man aka My First Tattoo Parlour Ever.

Thankfully, the tattoo artists were busy tattooing people, so I was able to attend to my eyelids uninterrupted. The contents of my makeup bag included: mascara, eye-shadow, concealer, an eyebrow brush and (wait for it)… blue eyelinerSay what?! 

I should probably clarify: my default daily makeup is pretty natural and my evening or Special Occasion makeup nearly always involves a statement lip, namely a bright red one, rather than a statement eye.  However, I was rummaging around in my makeup drawer the other week and found an eyeliner that I had purchased on a whim last year (on sale in Priceline for $3). My Beauty Gurus (such as fruitybeauty aka Zoe Foster Blake) have always said that eye makeup in the opposite colour to your iris makes your eyes POP! Not literally, thankfully. This makes perfect sense, thinking back to the colour wheel lessons of Year 7 art. However, being the brown-eyed girl that I am I didn’t really feel that blue eye-shadow was going to make for a subtle everyday look.

Blue Eyeliner 12My previous rationale: if Candice can’t pull this off, neither can I. Logical.

Anyway. I had tried it for the first time the previous weekend and.. low and behold, it worked! My not overly makeup-observant friend complimented me on how good my eyes looked. For my little experiment I coupled the blue eyeliner with some brown eye-shadow and lashings of black mascara, which helped to tone the blue down a bit, whilst still allowing its difference to be felt. And just quietly between you and I, the best bit was that I didn’t resemble Smurfette. Not even slightly.

And now some selfies of my eyes for your viewing pleasure:

Blue Eyeliner Trio

Top: No eye makeup. Middle: My everyday eye makeup.
Bottom:  POP! The blue looks pretty subtle here – it’s more noticeable in real life.
PS: The eyeliner in question is Australis in ‘Hello Sailor’.

So, anyway. Where did we get up to? Oh, yes. So after a few frantic minutes of attempting to make myself look presentable with the help of my blue eyeliner make-those-eyes-pop trick I hurriedly shoved my makeup bag into my handbag, said a mental ‘thank you for having me’ to The Illustrated Man and sprinted out and up the street to Tio’s where my amigo, a surplus of wine and a great evening awaited me.

Blue Eyeliner 13 My aim was to even vaguely resemble megababe Shanina Shaik.. which was perhaps a tad ambitious.

(And, guess what? According to my watch, I arrived on time).

Alex x