It's all made up

It's all made up

For lovers of beauty, books and making rad crafts.

My love/hate relationship with Shellac

Here is my Shellac mani at week two of my recent holiday- this is why it’s brilliant. Such shine! No chips!

Shortly after this the edges at the bottom started peeling away in a manner I could no longer ignore (they were catching in my hair) so I started to pick it off. Therefore for the last week of the trip I had gross chipped red polish and semi destroyed nails. In fact I’ll have semi destroyed nails for a while. As the Italians would say: no buono.

I’ve had Shellac before so i really should have known better, but I guess the moral of the story is make sure you can either get to a place to have it removed before the situation is dire (most likely around the two week mark), bring acetone with you (probably not the best for traveling) or just suck it up and go bare nailed or use regular polish.

The upside to this is my shellac pedi has held up beautifully, so that was a winner of a decision.

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Book review: My Brillian Friend by Elena Ferrante

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I finished My Brilliant Friend a few weeks ago, and am still a bit up in the air how I feel about it. I read it because I was going to Italy and I like to read books set in places I’m traveling to. Like a literary Lonely Planet.

The Goodreads description:

The story begins in the 1950s, in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. Growing up on these tough streets the two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else. As they grow, as their paths repeatedly diverge and converge, Elena and Lila remain best friends whose respective destinies are reflected and refracted in the other. They are likewise the embodiments of a nation undergoing momentous change. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her protagonists, the unforgettable Elena and Lila. She has given her readers a masterfully plotted page-turner, abundant and generous in its narrative details and characterizations, that is also a stylish work of literary fiction destined to delight her many fans and win new readers to her fiction.

I don’t know if I’d agree with the “masterfully plotted page turner” bit there. I would have called this book a slow burn - the kind you grow more affectionate for as you go. With Brilliant Friend this happens because of the vast cast of characters which you watch grow up as the novel progresses.

That said, this isn’t exactly Captain Corelli’s Mandolin* The narrator, Elene, is usually quite annoying (I’m not sure I’d want to have dinner with her, and that’s usually a good test). Her friend Lila isn’t much better. 

When I finished this I thought I’d go on to read the second in the trilogy but now I’m not so sure. I do want to find out what happens next, but I also don’t want another 300 pages of Elene. So we’ll see.

*Another character driven book which is done much better. Louis De Bernieres has a way of making you, I don’t know, care.

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This morning, with her, having coffee.
- Johnny Cash, when asked for his definition of paradise in Vanity Fair’s Proust Questionnaire.
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Beauty Review: Lanolips

I like the Lanolips brand. Their packaging is cute, and although the brand is still expanding, I don’t (yet) feel overwhelmed by choice. You want a lip balm? Cool, here are your three options…it’s like Burt’s Bees from 15 years ago.

I’ve used their coloured Lip Ointment, 101 Ointment, Golden Ointment and the Rose Balm Intense (read: hand cream). The latter three I got as part of a pack.

Lip Ointment with Colour SPF

These have a nice consistency - that rare happy medium between moisturising and sticky (so staying power). The colour actually shows and the SPF is a nice touch. I would purchase these again.

101 Ointment

This is described as a heavy duty balm and it is. As a lip balm fusspot I find most not moisturising enough and wear off too soon, but not this bad boy. I will say it’s almost a gloss more than a balm though, so your lips will look shiny (which I’m fine with, but is not everyone’s cup of tea).

Lovely Lanolin Golden Ointment

I have a tin of this and thought it held such promise! Alas I don’t love it. It’s almost too sticky to use on cuticles, and the gritty texture gets to me when I use it on my lips. Plus it has a funny taste.

The “lovely” in the name is debatable.

Rose Balm Intense for Very Dry Hands & Nails

This is indeed an intense hand cream. It’s not the kind you’d just nonchalantly apply; you want to make sure this goes on *just* the backs of your hands or else you’ll be sticking to everything. Even when just applied to the backs it still doesn’t exactly sink in.

Due to this sticky factor of 10 and the cloying smell (less rose, more…I don’t know, sweet baby powder?), I don’t think I’d repurchase.

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How to use up unsuccessful purchases…aka beauty hacking

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Return policies in Australia are not nearly as forgiving as they are in North America. So basically once you buy and open a beauty product, you’re stuck with it. So you’ve bought a dud? Don’t get mad. Get creative.

Problem - My foundation is the wrong colour/texture

This one is easy, and really quite fun. It’s mixing time!

Just try to counteract whatever the problem is with a corresponding product with opposite attributes. Ok that sounds complicated. What I mean is if something is too thick, mix with with a light tinted moisturiser. Too dark? Add a lighter product. Of course this is assuming you have a bit of a foundation wardrobe situation going on. Still, try and work with what you’ve got.

I use my Garnier BB Cream as a mixing base a lot since its super bendable texture lends itself well to this task.

This “mix it and fix it” (I just made that up, do you like it?) mentality also applies to lippies. Save finished tins and melt down a mixture of products you don’t use (plus scoop the ends out of products you did…there’s still a gold mine in that lipstick base. Trust!) to create something new. I have a tin to which I’ve added several baby pink coloured products and remnants to which has turned out really well (see above).

Problem - This lotion is not friends with my face

If a product cost a bomb but is not making your face happy there is no need to let those high classy (read: expensive) ingredients go to waste.

You have two plan B options: your chest and your hands. Both of these areas also show signs of aging and don’t normally get a lot of love.

Problem - This face wash is not working

Easy: use it as a body wash. If it’s a creamy face wash (ie. not up for cleaning things like armpits) just use it on your chest.

Problem - My conditioner is doing nothing for me

If a conditioner isn’t doing it for your hair, use it as a shaving cream!

I had a happy accident and discovered that The Body Shop Banana Conditioner is actually amazing for shaving legs. I would buy it again for this sole purpose.

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DIY: Fimo fun

Thanks to Emily Green genious ways, you see a LOT of Fimo jewellery around these days.

So of course I decided to try it myself. I made a few bowls and lots of earring, all of which took me less than half an hour. I then used glue and gold foil/glitter to spice things up and am pretty pleased with the result.

Give it a go! All you need is:

  • Fimo clay
  • An oven to cook said clay
  • Any necessary earring backings
  • Any desired accessories (such as glitter or foil)
  • Rudimentary clay molding skillz

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Book Review: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

I’m in a bullet point type of mood. Watch out.

Ways I would have rather spent my time than reading the 372 pages of The Maze Runner:

  • Vacuuming
  • Changing my sheets
  • Preparing my taxes
  • Doing cardio
  • Re-reading The Bone Season (kidding, this would be a tie)

While we’re on that last point, The stupid Maze Runner actually has a lot in common with The Bone Season:

  • Poorly developed, cliched characters you could care less about
  • An overly convoluted plot, including many diversions which have no reason
  • Overly emotive writing
  • An annoying undertone of “hero guilt”
  • "Monsters" that are not really scary at all. These are no Dementors…

I’m not even going to go into the plot. It doesn’t matter, Google it if you care.

OK now SPOILERS alert (but seriously, if you haven’t read this you shouldn’t bother and therefore should not care about spoilers. You’ve been warned).

Things that bother me about The Maze Runner:

  • I get you need to keep tension and a sense of anticipation to move the story forward. Everyone saying, “I’ll tell you later” is not a valid technique for this.
  • You also can’t leave EVERYTHING until the next book, each one still needs to stand alone in its own right. Sorry Dashner, but I will not be reading book two.
  • All the Gladers are supposed to be smart. Really? If these guys are saving humanity, well, we’re f*cked.
  • The cockney jargon in the beginning had me reading the first 50 pages like it was Oliver Twist until I forced myself to snap out of it. Also I feel like Newt was far more “Victorian orphan” sounding in the beginning than the end.
  • It was never explained why the maze needed to be in the air. There was a vague mention of the Andes late in the book. Is this implying it’s on a mountaintop? Again, why does this matter?
  • It’s just…boring. Frustratingly so. I kept expecting there to be some twist and there never was. Nothing was plausible, nothing was clever. This is basically the anti-Hunger Games (love you Katniss).
  • I’m crap at solving mysteries, I’m usually the last one to guess things. I called the WICKED acronym as soon as Thomas saw the plaque, and also figured they’d be leaving via the Griever hole once that was discovered. Yawn.
  • 372 pages. Really? Pretty sure this could have easily come down by at least100, especially given that NOTHING HAPPENS.
  • That Dashner would have been paid millions for the movie rights to this really makes me angry. Hollywood is clearly looking past glaring mediocrity and focusing on the #sohotrightnow YA pie. Unless the movie is a completely different story, it’s going to be terrible.
  • This gets 3.99 on Goodreads. WTF.

So I followed up one of the best books ever with one of the worst. Oh well, onwards and upwards.

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Book review: The Martian by Andy Weir

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OH MY GOD this book is amazing! I’m calling it early: this will be my favourite book of 2014.

First, the Goodreads blurb:

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first man to die there.

It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him, and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he’s stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to get him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

You can tell that a book is good when you want to be friends with a character, and I definitely felt that way about Mark Watney. He’s brilliantly smart, unfailingly positive, and hilarious. Just the kind of guy you’d want to have along on a year long trip out to a planet.

Aside from its detrimental effects on my sleep, I can’t recommend The Martian enough. I wish I could forget it and read it again.

Apparently it’s already been optioned for a movie (makes sense, it would be perfect - like Gravity but on Mars), and Weir is planning his next novel. I’ll be first in line for both.

And hey, Mark, call me.

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I put this together in full on Into the Gloss style over here for a job application. Due to the amount of time it took to create I thought I might as well share it with my actual audience too…

“My earliest makeup memory is from when I was five and won pass the parcel. The prize was this epic eyeshadow pallet – it must have had about 16 shades in it. I adored it and kept it far longer than was probably sanitary. When I was in my early teens I discovered Allure magazine and couldn’t believe my luck: a magazine about beauty! The others could keep their boring Cosmo.

In my teens no beauty trend was safe: brown 90s lipstick, face glitter, hair mascara and nail art all got a spin. I was painting ladybirds and leopard print on my nails (not together, obviously, I mean that would be tacky) when I was 14 so it was funny to see the nail art trend come back into fashion. 

I like to always have painted toes, even in the winter because my feet still see the light of day in yoga class. I’ll go through phases with painting my nails, sometimes leaving them bare for weeks, sometimes doing more elaborate designs thanks to my early nail art talents. I’ve found round office supply-style stickers make great templates for colourful French manis. 

These days I’m quite confident with makeup application (I’ve got the semi-smokey cat eye application nailed). Hair is another matter. Styling is not my strong suit and just doesn’t interest me. Blow drying = BORING, so having my hair done by someone else is the ultimate treat. Most of the hair products I own are supposed to help with frizz and dryness. I recently finished my first bottle of Moroccan Oil. I really like that and keep meaning to replace it.  I try to use hair masks once a week and, if I can, I’ll sleep with one on since that makes my hair feel super soft.  I have a definite soft spot for The Body Shop’s Banana Conditioner since that was always on hand growing up.  I don’t use it on my hair anymore, but have found it makes an perfect shaving cream.

I try and take good care of my skin. Thanks to Allure I was educated on the importance of sunscreen from an early age so hope that the regular use of SPF will help me in the long run. These days I couldn’t be called loyal when it comes to skincare. I’m lucky to have quite tolerant skin so I can try new products a lot and love those little sample sachets! Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturiser was my go-to product for years as a teen, but now I prefer products with more potent ingredients. It’s all about treating and preventing now that I’m 30! I’ve just started using 2% hydroquinone to try and fade a few dark spots on my forehead that (I swear) just appeared overnight. 

A few years ago I started trying to use more chemical-free products in my routine where I can. Skincare seems like a natural (hah! Sorry…) place to start since these products are actually meant to get absorbed. I figure probably best to just leave chemicals out when possible (as in, when I don’t need to fade a new dark spot nemesis). I’ve been using skin oils on and off for about a year now and like how they make my skin feel. In the shower I like Dr Bronner Peppermint Liquid Soap (aside: have you ever read the labels on these? That is some kooky business right there) or just natural bars of soap. I must get these as gifts a lot, I seem to have a cupboard full to use (this cupboard smells devine). 

The perfect body self tanner still eludes me, but I’m persevering. I find sprays give an almost too intense tan, and that lotions and mousses seem to deliver practically nothing except orange palms (kidding! I don’t get orange palms because I’m a pro and use latex gloves. Also I like to look like a dentist while tanning). At least I’ve found a good gradual tanner in Dove Summer Glow Moisturiser. I always have a bottle of this on hand and would be devastated if it were ever to be discontinued.

If I’m using self tanners I’ll try and do a scrub a few times a week. I like Kiehl’s Soy Milk & Honey Body Polish, but have also started making my own out of coffee, sugar, coconut oil, and sweet almond oil. I’m hooked. I’ll rub this all over and let it sit for a few minutes to let the ingredients work their magic (I’ve heard caffeine is good for helping with cellulite, I live in hope). The shower looks like some sort of coffee explosion after doing this, but it leaves my skin feeling awesome and smelling like a delicious Bounty bar so it’s worth it. 

I could go on for pages about makeup but I’ll stick to talking about my favourites. All of these I’ve repurchased (or would when they run out), which for someone as product-fickle as me means they get a massive gold star. For bronzers Clinique True Bronze pressed powder has the perfect amount of pigment plus has a brush that is actually (*gasp*) functional. MAC also does good bronzers. I’ve never been a big user of finishing powder but was introduced to the Hourglass Ambient Light products at a Mecca makeup session and am a new convert. I use Ethereal Light. It goes well over Garnier’s BB Cream (I’ve gotten so many friends onto this, it’s a cheap and cheerful winner) and makes the finish a bit less dewy without being heavy. 

After keeping the MAC Lipglass line in business throughout the 00’s, I now prefer lipstick. Armani’s Rouge d’Armani lipstick in 103 is up there with the best. It’s not heavy but still gives noticeable “your lips but better” colour and lasts for ages. The Revlon Balm Stain pencils are another staple; I have quite a few of these. They’re inexpensive enough to try new colours with and it’s nice to be able to wear darker shades without worrying about them wearing off in some awkward way. 

When it comes to eyes, eyeliner would 100% be one of my desert island products. I don’t have the biggest eyes so need all the help I can get here! I went through a phase of using gel eyeliner but have stopped now that I’ve discovered the Maybelline Master Drama Cream Pencil Eyeliners. These are easy to apply and last. I am also a big fan of eyebrow pencils: the poor forgotten sibling in the beauty pencil family. I fill my eyebrows in with Sephora Waterproof Retractable Eyebrow Pencil; it’s the most natural out of any I’ve tried due to the superfine tip. I stock up whenever I’m back in North America. Since using Latisse has actually given me some eyelashes to work with I’ve become much less fussy when it comes to mascara. That said, it’s hard to go past Lancome Hypnose Mascara which is still the best in the drama department and MAC Zoom Lash is a good everyday option. 

I wore Burberry Baby Touch perfume for years, probably about a decade and then I decided in my mid-twenties it was time to grow up and try something else. I still love it though. If they ever made a version that lasted longer (ie. a parfum) I’d definitely get it again. It turns out most designer perfumes really don’t do it for me and the ones that do appeal cost as much as a flight to Bali. Tom Ford’s White Suede scent is unreal and literally lasts for more than 24 hours. I still have a bottle of Yves Saint Laurent In Love Again that I got in university. This is what I usually wear for going out, I feel like it’s too flamboyant for day wear. I also like more simple scents like those from Jo Malone and Diptyque. I’ve got the latter’s L’Eau du Trente-Quatre which is nice. Sometimes I mix it with some of The Body Shop’s White Musk (another childhood nostalgia smell). I also have a Diptyque Feu de Bois Candle by my bed. It’s amazing, even when it’s unlit I’ll sometimes just get wafts of beautiful “Feu fe Bois” smell drifting over. Life is just that much better with delicious perfume surprises. Well that’s what I always say at least.”

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Book review: Book review: Man Repeller: Seeking Love. Finding Overalls. by Leandra Medine

I need to stop reading books by bloggers. I know I know, they look so fun though! This one was even a past Want to Read Wednesday pick.
Without fail, they usually contain a few funny anecdotes and 250 pages of filler. They’re fine. I mean, I’ve read worse fiction, but they’re not really bringing much to the table either. At the end of the day I’m not going to be a better educated or more interesting person from reading the book.
This sweeping statement applies to all that I’ve read in this category: Leandra Medine’s Seeking Love, Finding Overalls, Kelly Oxford’s Everything is Perfect when you’re a Liar (I couldn’t even get through the first chapter of this one), and one other one that was fine but I can’t even remember the title.
Seeking Love is ok, and if your an avid Man Repeller fan then go for it, otherwise you’re better off reading essays by David Sedaris or Sloan Crosley. Leave this book writing business to the pros.
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