Often beauty is dismissed as ‘frivolous’. I disagree.
When it comes to skincare and makeup, you’re putting your money where your mug is. Dreams of glowing skin don’t come for free. Beauty is a multi-billion dollar business and an industry which will remain buoyant - if the market crashes, you might not be able to afford a new house extension but you can afford a new lipstick. The sky’s the limit (even when economic times are tough).
Beauty is something I’ve enjoyed since I began The Residents and therefore has naturally made its way into my blogging as I broaden the scope of my content. If I had to choose to spend $300 on a dress or on some skincare and makeup, I would go for the latter every single time. I believe strongly that you can enjoy the latest Glossier Play Teal Eyeliner AND care about geo-politics, BREXIT, the Reserve Bank fiscal policy and eradicating racism. Just because one cares about ‘important things’, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy lightness and fun, especially when expressing your personal style.
I’m very lucky because some brands send me product from time to time to trial, just like magazines and newspaper editors get (for example, Canvas and Viva).* Now, more than ever, there’s so much to choose from in the market. It’s important to be honest about works and the cost, whether they suit a realistic lifestyle and whether they’re worth your money. To date, if I don’t like something, I just won’t include it. However, I’m keen to include more variety in these reviews and keep some negative impressions in because sometimes you just don’t know whether a product is worth buying and you need to know if it isn’t. So, below I’ve rounded up some of the products I’ve been trialing this year, and how much they cost. I’m keen to show you what makes the grade in my books, and explain clearly what did and didn’t work for me.
First, what do I really love that I’ve tried recently…
It’s a yes from me:
The All Rounder: If you’re worried about paraben's in your skincare range, Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream - 25 Hour Daily Lightweight Hydrating Formula has recently been re-engineered to take out the nasties. A unique fast absorbing cream, it provides water replenishment through the day and is a great unisex option. I like it for when I feel I need something very simple and non-offensive on my skin. Rich and emollient, it provides a cosseting blanket of moisture. If I were to advise you to buy from Kiehl’s, I would tell you to buy this, and their Vitamin C serum which is amazing. The 30ml Tub is $54 and the 125ml is $98.
Margaret Hema has recently reformulated her famous day creme. Margaret Hema Day Creme SPF 12 has a rich, buttery smooth texture and Zinc Oxide SPF (as her clients requested). While it isn’t a block out, it is a great base for your skin and can be used during Winter or Summer. I love how it smells though when smoothed over the skin, and it reminds me of her little pink room and her incredible facials. It is a brilliant moisturiser for everyday, used by Margaret herself during her facials ($140 for an hour, Wellington only). The formulation holds nourishment and hydration and has no water, just two hydrosols, Lavender and Kanaka. It is gentle and suitable for all skin types. Unlike other products, it won’t dry out the pore structure of the skin. Of all ‘natural’ Kiwi skin products on the market, at all price points, Margaret Hema is the one you should spend your money on, point blank. Her cream is 50ml at $140 so a considered purchase, but well worth it. You get quality, substance, ingredient excellence and durability.
As someone who isn’t a big foundation kind of gal, I absolutely loved the Clinique Moisture Surge Sheertint Hydrator SPF 25 which is an efficient addition to the already famous Moisture Surge range. It goes on easily and you can apply it with or without a brush. Very hydrating and delivering a simple youthful sheen, it provides light coverage that perfectly matched to my skin tone. This three-in-one (coverage, moisture, SPF) earns a gold star from me. At $53 it is worth every penny.
I also loved Clinique Moisture Surge Lip Hydro Plump treatment. I tried this before and it is great for when you have that hidious cracked feeling on your lips and you need them to repair fast. Consider this a splurge at $42. I’m sorry but I just really love it.
The Clinique ID series - Clinique does great fragrance-free product. This personalised moisturiser range allows you to create up to 15 different types of skincare solutions. You can choose from 3 types of moisturising lotions, 5 different types of active cartridge serums and costs $75 which isn’t too bad when you consider that you get both serum and moisturiser in one product. I selected the Dramatically Different Oil Control Gel for Fatigue. This product brightens and make the skin very glowy. It’s designed so you have 90% of the moisturiser and 10% serum so I’d certainly recommend this if you want to get on the skincare ladder without spending a fortune. Right now it is probably not rich enough for Winter so I’m only dipping into it occasionally. However, it makes sense if you want a good deal and love Clinique.
Estée Lauder’s Retinol Treatment is an excellent choice if you, like me, have heard about the wonders of introducing Retinol into your skincare yet are unsure where to start. Retinol is a Vitamin A derivative and is completely natural (but must be made in a lab). Retinol can be very strong if you over-use it. It’s a powerful skincare ingredient so take it s-l-o-w. Case in point: my regular facialist, Margaret Hema noticed that my skin was ‘thinner’ after I began using Retinol based products with a different skincare brand earlier this year. She recommended limiting my use of it. So now, to be honest, I’m a bit confused, but I do really like the Estée Lauder Perfectionist Pro range which boosts collagen and clarifies skin. It contains shea butter, silicone and retinol and is $178 a tube, but it lasts ages. I would trust the folk at Estée Lauder with all my skincare concerns so I know this is good for those seeking a Retinol solution.
I also enjoyed the Estée Lauder Daywear Cream - a light, hydrating formula that sinks in quickly. It’s a great moisturiser for the first signs of ageing if you are ready to upgrade, but don’t want to sacrifice SPF or your wallet. At $102 is it pricer but not out-there. Skin feels smoother, looks fresher and healthier instantly.
Would not buy:
I tried The Body Shop Skin Defence Multi-Protection Face Must SPF 45 PA ++ this month. While I love that it has a high SPF, I really don’t love the texture or smell. It’s quite chemical scented and has a clear white spritz. I might use it on my body but this product feels entirely inappropriate for my face and I just don’t like the scent. When it does dry down, it isn’t as strongly scented but the initial impression put me off. Nope - sadly I can’t recommend this, especially not at $64.95. But I loved other products from The Body Shop so keep reading.
Estée Lauder Revitalizing Supreme Plus Global Anti-Age Cell Power Creme Range is a more luxe offering for those seeking firmer skin and anti-aging products. Estée Lauder certainly have the technology to be at the cutting edge of the market. It’s packed with some effective emollients and actives, containing peptides that can be a favoured supplement for skin between 30 and 40 (and beyond). However, it comes with a price tag. I can’t say that this range is appropriate for someone my age at $214 a 70ml jar. Generally, I would always recommend Estée Lauder because you know you’re getting quality - you just need to weigh up whether the price is right for you. Personally, I just think there are other options from this company which are a better price fit for people in their late twenties and thirties who are trying to take care of their skin.
Estée Lauder Perfectionist Pro - Rapid Firm + Lift Treatment is a hydrating serum that has been received favourably amongst online reviewers. If you are already invested in the Estée Lauder range and feel like changing it up for winter, it’s a good alternative to Advanced Night Repair Serum (which I love). It contains AHA’s (a powerful exfoliating acid) refine the skins texture. Acetyl Hexapeptide-8 is also a key ingredient. Acetyl hexapeptide-8 is a synthetically derived peptide that is used in a wide range of skincare and makeup products. The jury is out on whether this is as effective as it is claimed, however it still has water-binding properties and skin-restoring ability. Apparently it does have some positive effects, but less than claimed. If you want to give something similar a try for less, The Ordinary Argireline Solution 10%, 30ml is your best bet. By contrast, at $158 this feels quite expensive for what it offers and I would personally prefer to spend a bit more to use Advanced Night Repair.
It’s a yes from me:
The super-foundation for those who want to avoid a cakey, dry look is Clinique Even Better Refresh - Hydrating and Repairing Makeup. At first, I didn’t adore this product as I found it was too heavy for me and a little goes a long way (many will disagree but I prefer my foundation ultra light - also I was sent the wrong shade). Then I found out that you could control the level of coverage by blending it out with a big kabuki brush which softens the look substantially. We suddenly got along much better. You can expect to spend $70 for a tube of this foundation. Rich in hydration, this formula uses the hyaluronic acid and glycerin-rich hydration of the Moisture Surge and packs it into a full-coverage base. It gets the Sali Hughes tick of approval and so it gets mine. It has 27 shades so there is something for all. If you’re looking to break-up with your past foundation, you might find a new lover in Clinique Even Better Refresh - Hydrating and Repairing Makeup.
The Cheap and Cheerful Eyeshadow: The Body Shop Eyeshadow Palettes in Paint in Colour and Own your Naturals are an amazing value for money. This set of shadows, one nude, one bright and shimmery, are buttery and have good colour pay off. While you’ll find a little bit of fall out, this collection of 12 eye shadows are made to build and blend. Enriched with Community Trade marula oil from Namibia and vegan, it’s time to see the Body Shop makeup in a different light. I feel that this could be a real contender with other makeup brands as we seek more ethical policies from our beauty suppliers. Just $50 each. Bargain.
The Palm Obsessed Mascara: The Body Shop Happy Go Lash Mascara in 01 is equally impressive. It is a non-gloopy, crisp mascara with cute packaging, depicting palms on a pink background. It goes on well, doesn’t clump and dries down fast. Would absolutely recommend, especially at $29. My new favourite mascara.
Violette x Estée Lauder: Nude palette ‘Oh Naturelle’ are a new release from the brilliant Violette special edition range. As in my past reviews, I am a fan of her amazing knowledge of colour and this beautiful pallet is brilliant. Anyone who loves a nude eye shadow should consider buying this. I hope my makeup artist for my wedding uses this (eh, Nat?).
Not for me this time:
Violette x Estée Lauder: Pure Colour Envy 112 ‘Nude Tease’ and 113 ‘Under my Skin’ are quite dark matte nudes and while they have a real Instagram makeup vibe, these aren’t really my style. They don’t quite make sense with Violette’s philosophy because they feel heavy and a bit difficult to wear during the daytime. For me, liquid lipstick feels a bit dated, like Kylie Jenner’s first range, especially in nude shades. I prefered Poppy Sauvage’s fun red or the La Dangerous slick transparent berry shade. I personally wouldn’t pick these two. But that might just be me!
Lush Refillable Lipsticks are a clever idea, but personally? I don’t think they’ve nailed it. The refills are messy to unwrap and fall forward in the packaging. It’s also complicated to get these to slot into the bullet. While I appreciate that with a refillable lipstick you create less waste, the product has to be practical for the consumer (which is why all their other naked products have been so successful - see my review of naked products here). They’re also not cheap. So it’s a maybe - maybe not.
So that’s my round up. Do you agree? Let me know in the comments if you think I’ve got it right.
*In case you don’t know, normally, a magazine will agree to feature a product which it was sent in exchange for the brand buying advertising in said magazine or paper. This exchange is all part of the PR process. That is why sometimes at annual beauty award ceremonies that are sponsored by magazines, big beauty brands prizes if they’re been big advertisers that year. However, unless directly stated on my blog with the title ‘AD’ in the headline (see past collaborations with Estee Lauder), I’m not paid to review products and it is up to me what I do and don’t recommend.