Wednesday Write-Up: On Being a Vego and a Makeup Addict

If talking about animal cruelty isn’t something you’re too keen on, I’d advise you to stop reading. I’m a little bit nervous about this post, but I think it’s an important one because as a most-of-the-time vegetarian (I’ll explain this soon) and a believer in organic, cruelty-free, sustainably-produced fare, buying cosmetics can sometimes be a bit of a moral battleground for me.

For the most part, I try to purchase products that are cruelty-free (vegan Bdellium brushes, Sukin and Dr Bronner’s skincare), but there is a definite grey area in the cosmetics world when it comes to parent companies and animal testing. I’m going to punctuate this post with pictures of the cruelty-free brands I know and love.

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To start with, I’ll explain what I mean by “most-of-the-time vegetarian.” (Deep breath): I am against eating meat, especially factory-farmed meat, and believe that it is much better for everyone to avoid animal products altogether.

I think the planet would be much better off if we didn’t farm and kill animals for their flesh – at the animal welfare level, at the human health level, at the environmental level, and on all other levels (this article is getting next level Serious already).

I’m not here to debate this and I’m not going to lecture anyone about it (you guys are grown ups and can make your own decisions, I’m sure!) but this is what I believe. For more information, Forks Over Knives and Eating Animals are pretty good pedestrian introductions to these ideas.

Because I believe these things, I avoid buying meat, eat less dairy/eggs, and try to buy cruelty-free cosmetics and skincare. Nearly everyone I know eats meat like cavemen, so this can make it difficult at mealtimes but I’ve converted my boyfriend’s family (who I live with) to free-range chicken and eggs. We’re still working on the pork. If someone cooks a beautiful meal and I’m a guest in their home I will eat meat. 6 days out of 7, however, I’m a vego.

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Now let’s get to the crux of this debate: buying cruelty-free is hard because most of the cosmetics I know and love are made by brands owned by parent companies that have questionable animal cruelty policies. Let’s take a look:

  • Bobbi Brown, Clinique, MAC, Smashbox, Tom Ford (owned by Estee Lauder)
  • Bare Escentuals, NARS (owned by Shiseido)
  • L’Oreal, The Body Shop, Maybelline, Lancome, Giorgio Armani, YSL (owned by L’Oreal)
  • Etude Hosue, Innisfree, Sulwhasoo, Laneige (owned by Amorepacific)

If it’s a brand you love and you can get it in a department store, in Farmers or Kmart, chances are it’s owned by one of these companies. For a list of companies that don’t test, see here. While most of these companies do not directly test their products on animals, some of the ingredients used in their products are, or have been tested on animals.

These companies “tend not to test on animals themselves but continue to buy, use and benefit financially from chemical ingredients that have recently been tested on animals by their suppliers.”

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This is where the moral grey area comes in for me. I love MAC (who was cruelty-free until recently). I love my Maybelline mascara. I love my Estee Lauder Doublewear. Unfortunately, all of these brands are owned by a parent company that does not guarantee that the ingredients used in their brands’ products are cruelty-free.

Part of the reason that these companies aren’t cruelty free is probably because most of these brands are for sale in China, and in order to be sold in China, it is mandatory for cosmetics to be tested on animals.  The plot thickens. The grey area becomes greyer.

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I think you are beginning to see my issue: I don’t support animal cruelty. Most of the cosmetic products I use on a daily basis aren’t tested on animals directly. Nonetheless, an animal had to suffer so that some of the ingredients could be used in the products I buy. As a beauty blogger and makeup artist in training, I find myself left heartbroken and confused.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this one – I know it’s a very difficult topic and I hope I haven’t offended anyone in writing it. I’m sorry to anyone I have offended in writing this.

Do you have any cruelty-free dupes or favourites? Any indie cosmetic brands that you really like? Let me know in the comments!

May Favourites: Return of the Jedi

My May Favourites come to you a little late this time, and in a kind of old faithfuls, return-of-the-good-things vein. I have rediscovered two older faves, enjoyed a new one, and resisted listing slightly more exciting things I’ve already featured in Monthly Favourites posts.

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The title of this post suggests that there will be quite a few things that are good here that I’ve already liked for some time. There are two new faces, however, and in some sense they’re comparable to Ewoks.

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We’ll start with the Maybelline Colossal Volum Express mascara. I won this in a competition over at Makeup Obsessives (thank you Kirsty!) and keep meaning to use other mascaras but I just can’t get away from this one.

Like a certain race of “small, mammaloid bipeds” from the planet Endor, this Maybelline mascara is super fluffy, and housed in some pretty compact casing. I also think both of them are wonderful, and wouldn’t mind having both in the house at all times.

The similarities grow pretty stretched after this, but my claim still stands: this is brilliant mascara. You can get it at a range of stores including Countdowns and pharmacies across NZ.

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The next Ewok-esque product I’ve been enjoying this month is the Bdellium 540 precision liner brush. Like an aforementioned Ewok, this brush is small and extremely cute, and also very curious.

You may have trouble trying it with an Ewok, but with this brush I can apply powder like I’ve not been able to apply powders before in my life. It picks up pigment like Han might lift up Leia (swiftly and easily), and is incredible for the price at only $8 US.

I’m pretty sure that this is designed for lips but I’ve been using it like all good beauty bloggers/MUAs-in-training do, and have been drawing cat eyes with it. I suggest you try it too.

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The OPI Natural Nail Base Coat is kind of like a certain familiar lead character and also seems to be a staple for many others: it’s dependable, wields a shiny saber, and dedicates a lot of time protecting things.

Just like Luke, this OPI coat often gets awkwardly close to its sister, nail polish, which I often paint over top of it. The OPI base coat prolongs the wear of my other polishes while preventing my nails from getting stained. It also looks good alone, and makes your nails shiny and healthy-looking. I got mine from Farmers.

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Fourth on the list of familiar-things-that-are-really-really-good is this Sukin sensitive facial moisturiser. I ran out for a while there and picked this baby up from the lovely people at Wise Cicada in Newmarket in the past few weeks and was reminded how Han Solo-like this is.

It locks in moisture like carbonite locked Han in tibanna gas, and makes your skin feel amazing. Like Han, the Sukin sensitive facial moisturiser is practical and good-looking without being greasy or too rich. One of these things is not like the other though – the Sukin moisturiser is designed for sensitive types.

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The finale here is one of the best characters in this line-up, and is the Pam Beach Collection quince candle, which we might compare to a small round robot that many people have come to love. Like R2D2, this quince candle is short, stout and white, but unlike R2D2, it does not make very much noise. I’m sure that both will lift your mood though.

The candle smells outrageously good, (also unlike R2D2- maybe this was a bad comparison?) and I cannot get enough of it. If you haven’t smelt it yet, you can pick these up from Republic Home in the city, or from Crave in Birkenhead.

What did you think of my Star Wars-themed post? Do you own and love any of these products? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday Write-Up: Teed St Larder & Goodness Gracious

In the little reader poll I took here, most of you said you’d be keen to see more personal posts. I thought I’d incorporate that feedback into the blog by doing a weekly “Wednesday Write-Up” which will consist of my favourite things from the week that’s been.

As a foodie, I feel like this is going to manifest in a LOT of restaurant reviews and food-related exploits, and to kick it off today I’m going to write about two of my favourite little visits recently: Teed St Larder & Goodness Gracious.

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Above is the exterior of Goodness Gracious. It’s a very petite little unassuming place on the Mt Eden end of Symonds St in Auckland, where the bagels are good and the coffee is even better. The boy took me here one Sunday morning because it’s one of his favourite morning coffee haunts.

Knowing that his boss (who seems to know all the best places) introduced him to this place made me all the more excited about the calibre of this spot, and this turned out to be a fulfilled kind of excitement.

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As far as restaurants and eateries go, I am pretty fussy. I think it’s important to be fussy – if you’re paying someone to make you a meal, it should be as good as possible for what you’ve paid. I like to think about what I’d do differently, how it could be made better, etc etc. This is probably ridiculous and I am truly lucky to eat at the places I do but I usually find fault with something or other.

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Goodness Gracious was a near exception to this rule. It was warm inside the busy little eatery, the coffee (a long black) was fast and PERFECT, and the entire place was beautifully clean with just enough je ne sais quoi (fresh wildflowers, odd teaspoons, an interesting drinks selection etc) to keep things interesting and quirky.

The bagels were brilliant – I had an avocado and haloumi number which had a good amount of all of the particularly delicious bits, and the boy enjoyed his three mini bagels just fine. My only complaint is that the Best Ugly bagels are better, but maybe they were just having an off day. It was a near-perfect experience.

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Another place that is Very, Very Good is Teed St Larder. I’ve been frequenting this place in the mornings lately because the coffee is well-balanced and delicious when the right barista makes it, and the food is simple and unpretentious but still a little different. The same people are responsible for Scratch Bakers and a few other good cafes too, which probably explains Teed St’s excellence.

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The cafe interior is wonderfully spacious and the staff are friendly and attentive. Each time I’ve ordered a coffee someone’s brought over a glass of water, which is a nice little touch. In general, the place is fantastic, but not perfect – there’s only one women’s and one men’s toilet so sometimes there’s a wait, once I went & the coffee wasn’t quite right (although I think this was barista-related), and the menu is a little hard to find. I don’t think that these things are majors though, because every time I’ve been it’s been a great little experience.

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I had the mushroom and haloumi dish for breakfast the other morning and it was very tasty. There were lots of different mushrooms on the plate and one variety I hadn’t eaten before. I was a little scared of it and I had to remind myself that I am a Grown Up now. The haloumi was beautiful and the lemon served on the side made the mushrooms even more delicious. A great way to start the day.

These are two of the places I’ve been recently that I’ve really enjoyed – have you been to either of them? What did you think? Do you like the style of this post? Let me know in the comments!

April Favourites: Korean & American Beauty

For me, April marked the discovery of Korean makeup and skincare, and so my favourites were an odd mix of brilliant products from NZ, Korean and American retailers.

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The first product on my list is probably one that you were expecting. It’s the Lioele Triple the Solution BB cream, which I picked up from Cutie & Beautie, and which I recommend to anyone. The second is Revlon’s nail polish in Flirt, which is a beautiful pink colour, and the third is MAC’s Diva. The fourth and fifth products are both from BeautyNetKorea, and so far I am very impressed with them.

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You guys must know how much I adore this by now. I reviewed it here and have been wearing it every single day ever since it arrived in the mail from Cutie & Beautie. This stuff is great for your skin, offers a medium, buildable coverage, and does the job of a brightening primer, foundation, anti-wrinkle cream, sunscreen and whitening cream all at once.

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Next is Revlon’s Flirt. I have had this on my nails frequently this month, in varying patterns and designs, but my favourite is here. I picked this up from Myer/David Jones in Melbourne and it is the perfect pink-y mauve-y pastel in a beautiful finish.

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Next, my most-worn and favourite lipstick this month was MAC’s Diva. Diva looks amazing with different pencils under it, or alone. It’s one I wore to my brother’s graduation as well as to a few other social events, and I am well and truly sold on it. I predict that it will be racing with Heroine to be my first MAC empty.

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This Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence is next on my list. It’s probably a little different to other products you’ve seen before, and I will be doing a review on it later this month after I’ve used it for a few more weeks. So far, I’ve been using it just before my night cream and together, they make my skin feel plump and pampered.

It contains 90% snail secretion filtrate, aloe vera and bee venom, and although I thought the snail/bee combo was weird at first, it doesn’t smell of anything and makes my skin look great.

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Lastly I’ve been using this Benton Snail Bee High Content Steam Cream as a night cream to seal in my final layer of moisture. This one has similar ingredients to the Essence, but is a rich cream like the consistency of soft whipped butter. It feels very luxurious and soft and I get excited about my night-time skin routine just because I look forward to putting this on. I’m not sure if this is weird, or if it just speaks for the quality of the product.

Those are my top fives for April! I know it’s an odd mix but I’d love to hear your thoughts! Have you tried any of these? What did you love the most in April?

March Favourites: The Violet Hour

I’ve never really had a favourite colour until now, but there’s a definite theme running through the veins of this post. All March I’ve been feeling very violet.

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For me, violet is the colour of luxury, rebellion, and alchemy, and when I think about it, all of those things seem pretty appealing. The first three of these products came naturally into my head – MAC’s Heroine, OCC’s lip tar in Hoochie, and the OPI polish in Pamplona Purple. The theme got me thinking and I chose the latter two – which I love dearly – Urban Decay’s Primer Potion and Schwarzkopf’s Blonde Toner.

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1. MAC Heroine Lipstick

I am in love with this colour. If MAC Heroine was a person, I’d marry it in a heartbeat. It’s the kind of lipstick that makes you feel simultaneously rebel girl and HIGH FASHUN all at once and I would wear it every day if I could. I wore it in this post.

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2. Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics’ Lip Tar in Hoochie

Another product I’d probably marry if I could. I cannot find a single flaw with OCC’s lip tar in Hoochie and I’ve been wearing it whenever I find an excuse (read: every time I leave the house). It’s vegan. It smells minty. A little bit goes a long way. You need this in your life. I wore it in this post.

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3. OPI’s Nail Lacquer in Pamplona Purple

I picked this up at a Big Bucket Sale, which I posted about here, and it’s completely set violet in stone as my favourite colour. I love the OPI polishes and for me, this has opened up a whole new era of purple nails.

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4. Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion in Original

If you’ve seen me wearing eyeshadow in a post, chances are this is the primer I’ve used under it. It does exactly what it says it will, and I haven’t experienced any creasing with this primer with any of my powder shadows (even my lower-priced ones). I 999999 recommend.

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5. Schwarzkopf’s Nordic Blonde Toner

This stuff is fantastic – I use it every second or third wash and it takes all the brassiness out of my hair. I used to dye my hair blonder once every six or seven weeks but I’ve decided to let it grow out to my natural colour (which is pretty much blonde anyway) and haven’t dyed it for (maybe) six months. I’ll do a hair care post later this week, so keep your eyes peeled!

In writing this post, I’ve also learned that violet tends toward blue while purple tends toward red. I didn’t know there was a difference until now, did you?

What are you loving this month? Let me know your top five for March below! x

February Favourites: Purple Tones and Holy Grail Products

Look, I know it’s March. But the month that comes before March is February. Today, and at the beginning of every other month, I’m going to give you a rundown of my top five products from the previous month. I’ll include prices and where to buy, and list my top five favourite beauty products for the previous month.

February in New Zealand is usually a strange month weather-wise, as it’s the end of summer. Sometimes summer extends well into March but this year it seems to have been on time. Because the days were growing cooler, I have been slowly shifting into Autumn beauty mode.

1. Wet & Wild “Sugar Plum Fairy” Mega Last Matte Lip Colour Lipstick
($2.75 US from BeautyJoint.com)

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I did a big BeautyJoint.com lipstick haul in February and by far my favourite of the bunch was this plummy-toned Wet & Wild lipstick. It is absolutely stunning – it looks quite deep and is a dupe for MAC’s “Rebel.” The colour comes out slightly more red on me than it does on other swatches I’ve seen but I think it’s wonderful.

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Here is a selfie of me wearing Sugar Plum Fairy to reinforce my love for this lipstick. To add to the fairy vibe, I put on a floral crown. I hope you all enjoy selfies as much as I do because there will be multiple selfies throughout this blog.

2. Urban Decay’s Naked2 Palette
($52 US from UrbanDecay.com)

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I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to discover this. I am in love. Every single colour is a perfect neutral. The darker hues are perfect for crease colours and smoky eyes and the lighter colours are great for all-over colour, highlighting and blending. There’s also a nice mix of shimmers and mattes. My favourites are Foxy (matches my skin colour perfectly for blending), Half Baked (perfect neutral gold), Snakebite (dark bronze crease colour for daytime smoky eyes), and Busted (dark muddy brown shimmer for night-time smoky eyes).

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The pigment is incredible. The brush that comes with it is fantastic. The case is sturdy and has a mirror inside to make travel easier. I have nothing bad to say about this palette. Everyone needs one and I now consider it a basic staple beauty item.

3. Estee Lauder’s DoubleWear Stay-In-Place Makeup
($80 NZ from Farmers stores nationwide)

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This stuff is like real-life Photoshop for your face. Never before has a product actually done what the advertisement says so well. Estee Lauder products are amazing, and I wish they sold fat-burning pills and cookbooks because I often have trouble with both of these things not turning out the way the picture shows.

Maybe that joke was too meta. Anyway, this is another new basic staple item for me. It glides on my face. It stays on my face. It doesn’t transfer. It makes my skin look like a wonderful little artist is following me around touching up my make up all day. If you haven’t tried it, go and get colour matched at your nearest Estee Lauder counter. Be warned, there’s no going back.

4. Jordana Matte Lipstick in “Lavender Lady”
($2-3 from most $2 shops in New Zealand)

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Never in my life did I think I would purchase cosmetics from a $2 store. Yesterday, however, that day came. I had heard the lovely MUOs on the New Zealand Make Up Obsessives Facebook page raving about this particular Jordana lipstick and have purchsed a couple of Jordana colours off BeautyJoint before. Altogether they’re great for the price – most of them go on smoothly, the colours are good and they last an hour or so.

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I have a feeling that Lavender Lady is going to become a favourite. I wore it on Wednesday and it stayed on my lips for three hours without re-application. It’s a perfect, slightly-mauve toned everyday pink, and I’ve included another top notch selfie for everyone to see. It matches my nail polish (Revlon “Flirt”) and channels the Pantone Colour of the Year, which is Radiant Orchid. I’m also wearing Estee Lauder’s DoubleWear in this picture.

5. Rimmel “Stay Matte” Pressed Powder
($9.02 NZ from ASOS.com)

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Another new beauty staple. I don’t set my DoubleWear with powder because it’s quite matte already, but I do tend to set other foundations. Sometimes it can be hard to find a powder that is translucent and doesn’t make your face look orange or cakey. Rimmel has come to the rescue here with what I now consider to be a Holy Grail product. It’s translucent so it doesn’t add colour, and is light and wonderfully matte. I don’t so much like the dewy look so and tend to go for mattifying products like this pressed powder. Did I mention that it’s outrageously well-priced? It’s outrageously well-priced.

There we have it – my top five for February! What are your top fives for the past month?