Category Archives: Bag it or Bin it?

Kiehl's Rosa Arctica

Kiehl’s Rosa Arctica Youth Regenerating Cream

Kiehl's Rosa Arctica

In my line of work, I get to try a LOT of skincare. Some good, some OK, some breaks me out. Some goes in my kit, some goes next to my bed, some goes in my makeup bag and some goes in a drawer for a rainy day.

This is my winter skin savior this year. I get super-dry and even (dare I say it) a bit flakey when it’s really cold. Kiehl’s new Rosa Arctica cream has been my base for makeup for myself all winter long. It’s really thick and creamy – and if you have dry skin you know how key that is.

It’s made with Haberlea Rhodopensis, which is also known as Resurrection Flower and it grows in extremely dry conditions. As it is able to survive 31 months without hydration, it was this hardiness and its regenerative properties that intrigued Kiehl’s and encouraged them to look more closely at the properties of this unique flower. When proper hydration is restored, it returns to life within hours. The nutrients responsible for the regeneration of this flower are enriched the Rosa Arctica cream. All I can tell you is it works!

You have to sort of push it into the skin, but once you get it in there, it’s intense hydration. And the hydration stays all day, which you don’t get with a lot of skincare. It also gives the skin this amazing glow – I don’t know how as there’s no luminisoity in the cream itself, but it must be the power of those arctic flowers!

www.kiehls.com.au - www.kiehls.co.uk

Bin It: Laura Mercier Secret Brightener

Laura Mercier Secret BrightenerI am a big, big fan of Laura Mercier products as you might know from reading of my almost creepy love of her Translucent Powder and Secret Camouflage concealer. The Secret Brightener? Not so much.

The idea is that you use this under the eye before concealer in order to “brighten dark circles, reduce shadow and minimize discolorations”, according to the website. Which sounds great in theory except that this product is pearly pink. And I mean REALLY pearly pink. Even on my Mattel-doll complexion it shows up pink under the concealer. I believe it now comes in two shades, and to be fair I haven’t tried the second shade, so I can only comment on how Number 1 looks. Also I wouldn’t know how it reads on anyone else’s skin as it never made it near my kit.

However it could be used as a pretty highlighter on the cheekbones, just please, for the love of Mary, not under the eyes. It will give you that awful deer caught in the headlights look which you see when sometimes a celebrity is caught by flash photography with the paprazzi, and their makeup artist has been slightly too generous with the under eye highlighter. As a sweet highlighter pen it’s great as it can be tossed in your bag, and it’s easy for doing delicate spots like the tip of the Cupid’s bow.

For undereye highlighting I can safely recommend YSL Touche Eclat, Clinique Airbrush and Estee Lauder Ideal Light, but not this dude.

This one, I’m sorry to say, is going in the bin.

Bin it!*

* Does not affect my love for the Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder, nor her genius concealer and powder, which I’m still evangelical about.

Bag It: NARS Larger than Life Volumizing Mascara

NARS Larger than Life Volumizing MascaraWay back in the mists of time I wrote one of my first posts for MM, and it was telling the world how crap I thought NARS’ old mascara was. (There was also something about Huey Lewis and the News in there, but Lord knows what that has to do with mascara, crap or otherwise).

However I am thrilled to report that after extensive testing, NARS new Larger than Life Volumizing mascara is proving itself to be a winner. The brush is a bit bigger than normal but not jumbo oversized like Diorshow mascara or Benefit’s Bad Girl Lash, and the main thing I like about it is that it doesn’t get goopy or overload the lash. Thus you can build a few coats with it still looking lovely and fluffy, and it really is quite volumizing.

One thing I would say is that sucker is staying on once it’s on! Make sure you have a good remover because it has the staying properties of a waterproof mazzie, without the crunchiness – which if you live in a hot climate or like a badass, long last mascara, this is for you.

In the mascara stakes Monsieur NARS, you have well and truly redeemed yourself.

BAG IT!

Bag It: Revlon Luxurious Colour Eyeliners

Cameron Diaz makeup by Gucci WestmanThese are my new eyeliner discovery, and they are fab. Super-creamy, long-wearing and they come in a great range of shades (8 in total). I thought I had all the pencils I needed, but it turns out, I was wrong. It turns out, you can never have too many pencils! What a relief.

I only have two of them at the moment but it won’t be long before I add more – I find the way they smudge yet stay colour true is more like the performance of one of the high end brands. It’s not very often that I make the foray from the department store to the drugstore, but for Revlon I’m starting to make an exception.

I have to confess to being more and more impressed with Revlon. Last year they took on Gucci Westman (NY makeup artist extraordinaire who racks up Vogue and W covers just as easily as red carpet clients, including Jessica Biel, Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore), and ever since Gucci’s been on board – well their makeup looks fresh again. I’m impressed by the pigments and colours not just on the eyeliners but also the concealers, lipsticks, nail polishes, cream blushes and eyeshadows, and their brushes are fabulous, although they can be hard to find.

Last summer I worked on a Revlon commercial in London with Kay Montano who was making up the ever-amazing Elle McPherson, and I got the chance to try a lot of the products then. It’s an impressive drugstore offering, certainly my favourite across the board of the ranges in a lower price point. Their advertising campaigns have kicked up a notch as well with their recent signing of beautiful actresses Jessica Biel and Jessica Alba, and it feels like again you can say “The Most Unforgettable Women in the World Wear Revlon.”

Revlon Luxurious Colour Eyeliners

Bin It: Cover Girl Line Exact Liquid Eyeliner

I love the design of this eyeliner – like a Sharpie pen for eyes, it has a nice sharp nib (not too floppy!) that when it works, does make lining eyes a cinch. Sadly however, whether it works or not appears to be optional.

The fantastic design is courtesy of the guru makeup artist, Pat McGrath, as she is the resident makeup artist at Procter & Gamble (who own Cover Girl.) And it is cheap (about $7 USD). But the after my experiences with it, the only way this dude is going near my kit is if Chanel, MAC and NARS cease and desist from production of liquid liner forever.

Friends of mine recommended it to me, and the first couple of times I tried it, I thought fab! This is ace! I gotta get me one of those! And off I went, forked out my seven dollars, and got it home (or back to my friend’s house actually). And you know what? Maybe for some it’s amazing and cat-lined Cleopatra kitty eyes in one easy stroke are all yours – instant transformation into Angelina Jolie – grrrr – or, like what happened in my case, I was Angelina Jolie for two days thinking wow, I have to post about this on my blog – and miraculously one week later it became thin, watery, anemic and grey, and not worthy of lining my cat’s dirty litter tray. As was the spare one Cover Girl thoughtfully provided for me. (I managed to get my hands on a double pack – two for the bin then, instead of one).

But my friends who recommended the product to me have had theirs for about two years and it’s still going strong, and reading reviews on the internet (like the ever useful MakeupAlley), I am not alone. So it turns out that it’s really luck of the draw. I know it’s only $7, which in the grand scheme of things is not that much, but I’d rather have given it to a homeless person or to save the moon bears than basically literally putting it in the bin.

And this is why I have a blog – because I think it happens a lot – women buy products that are crap, or crap for them, and then feel bad when they don’t look like Jennifer Aniston or Cheryl Cole. And they pay for the privilege. And it’s not good enough! We want products that work, and we’re happy to pay for them. But please help us buy the right ones that make us feel pretty, and not like a sucker, an idiot, or even worse, less gorgeous than when we came to you.

Quite frankly, that’s just not good enough, Cover Girl. Why do some of these eyeliners work, and others, not so much? And let me tell you, I have had far pricier brands’ liquid eyeliners do the same thing. Please don’t manufacture products that die after two uses. It’s just not on. It makes me furious because we as consumers are being taken for a ride, and to my mind, if you can’t make pretty much every product perfect, don’t bother manufacturing it. ‘Nuff said.

BIN IT!

And by the way , if you’re curious about why I talked about moon bears, I found out about this amazing charity the other day – it’s a charity that is restoring the sight of moon bears rescued from Chinese bile farms, where they are kept in captivity and milked for their bile (prized in some Chinese medicines). It’s as hideous as it sounds, but these veterinarians restore their sight. All together now – awww! If you’re interested in finding out more about the moon bears, the website is www.sightforsoreeyes.org.uk. I know where my next liquid eyeliner purchase money is going – and it’s to someone a lot cuter and fluffier than Cover Girl.

Bag It: Le Métier de Beauté Classic Flawless Finish Loose Powder

This is another new(ish) brand to the market place, and what I’ve tried from the range I find exceptionally high quality. The standout favourite for me has to be the Loose Powder though, as it’s super finely milled, lightweight, and cuts shine without adding surface texture (for powder nerds, you will know this is no easy task!)

The container is a jumbo-sized sifter, and unless you have a face like the Exxon-Valdez, it should last you years. The brand itself was created by a duo with an extensive background in the beauty and fashion industries, from the ethos that only the highest grade ingredients and the newest, best technology from around the world would be applied to each product – an interesting idea and one that so far the brand has lived up to.

The founders of Le Métier de Beauté discovered a lab with a research chemist that produced cosmetics of exceptionally high quality, and together they researched the globe for more chemists to match this high standard, in order to produce the best of every type of cosmetic. Their products are created wherever the best labs and factories happen to be – so far over twenty worldwide. Each product is produced in small batches to ensure that the quality is of the highest level, and they then field research it with makeup artists, beauty editors and other industry experts to ensure that it meets the most stringent demands. No wonder I like this powder so much!

The powder is paraben, talc, and oil-free and has been triple-milled, so it goes on super-fine but keeps the skin matte yet fresh looking. Up until now if I wanted to really mattify the skin I used Shu Uemura Matte loose powder, but now I’ve switched to Le Metier.

Rumour has it that Le Métier de Beauté will be collaborating with design duo Marchesa (whose makeup I had the pleasure of touching up at the last Fashion Rocks in London, and if the line is anywhere as gorgeous as she is, we’re all in luck!)

The only thing I don’t like about it is the color selection which I don’t think goes deep enough – as you know I like powders that cater to all skintones, and this range could do with a number four in it’s range of three colors. However sometimes products can surprise you, so I’m going to slip the darkest color into my kit for London Fashion Week and see how it fares.

So it’s BAG IT!

Bin It – Chantecaille Total Concealer

Chantecaille Total ConcealerOh how it pains me to write a negative review about Chantecaille – there are so many great products in their lovely, plant based botanical range – but this ain’t one of them.

I have tried this concealer quite a few times because I do so want to like it – their Future Skin foundation is one of my all-time favourites – but every time it’s just one big disappointment. I’ve tried it on a few jobs, and at home on myself, to no avail.

It’s a thick cream which I paint on with a small brush (as I do with all my concealers), and it doesn’t sheer out properly – it sits on the area you’re trying to conceal like concrete spackle. To be fair, it is a full coverage concealer and I know there is a market for this type of product, however it’s a bit hardcore to my tastes. With a bit more blending it improves, but it sort of clings to the under eye area, making it look powdery, cakey and dry – not cute! You know those pictures of celebrities you see every once in awhile when they look like a deer caught in the headlights, their under eyes flashing like radioactive fallout due to over-zealous concealer application? This is what I’m talking about. Even worse, it disappears after a couple of hours, leaving a pale, powdery residue on a hitherto corrected but now obviously UN-corrected dark circle. Great. Thanks.

They have another concealer called Bio-Lift Concealer which is supposed to be amazing, so I’ll need to give it a go soon in order to recover from the shock of a Chantecaille product I don’t like – really, it’s quite disturbing. I love their skincare, foundations, brushes and blushes – even their eyebrow pencils are pretty good. But the Total Concealer? Not so much.

BIN IT!

Bag It – Nude Age Defense Moisturiser

Nude Age Defense MoisturiserI have to admit to being a bit of a sucker for organic skincare – I like the advantages it has over its chemical counterparts and the general organic ethos of being kind to the planet whilst we’re kind to ourselves (and what’s more beautiful than that?)

Nude Skincare is one of the original players in this new and burgeoning market – they have an extensive range of pre and probiotic plant based botanical products, and the Age Defense Moisturiser is the one that has crept into my kit, replacing my old faithful Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturiser.

I love the Age Defense because it leaves skin soft but not slippery, providing quite a nice matte base for makeup. It has orchid and the new wonder oil, argan to reduce wrinkles (not that any of my clients have those!), and hyaluronic acid keeps water in the skin where it belongs. And best of all it does it without parabens, sulphates or mineral oils, so none of the usual skincare nasties. I also love it because it is carbon neutral, ethically responsible with the ingredients it uses, and doesn’t test on animals (and with the recent surge in laboratory experiments on animals, this is increasingly becoming a concern of mine – there’s nothing uglier than unnecessary suffering).

The smell at first is a little earthy for those of us used to all the chemical stuff coming out of the lab, but actually now I’ve been using it for awhile I quite like it. And once you try organic skincare, I promise, you’ll be hooked. Kay is a huge advocate of it, regularly using the lip balm on her celeb clientele, and silkening Claudia Schiffer’s famous and endless legs in the Body Moisturiser. It just might be going on my wish-list for Santa this year – after all it is October, and I have been good!

Nude Age Defense Moisturiser – BAG IT!

www.nudeskincare.com