Thursday, 31 July 2014

Product Review: Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara

Okay. Mascara. It is no secret that I love mascara. While I'm not going to go nuts and buy every variety on the market, I do think it is a beauty staple and definitely one worth investing in. Including samples, I've got about ten or so mascaras, which I use depending on what I want from them. In my last high end haul, I visited Mecca Maxima for the first time and the Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara caught my eye. I was originally going to get just the one for my mother -- whose lashes look to me to be as straight as anything -- but of course I couldn't resist getting one for myself!

Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara
This mascara boasts an hourglass-shaped brush that claims to dramatically increase the volume, length and curl of your lashes. The clinical study says that it gives 1,944% more volume -- this I'm personally not too sure about, but consumer studies claimed to see 100% longer lashes, 100% more dramatic volume, and 80% said it was the best mascara they'd ever used.

Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara
This is the only mascara I have used that has impressed me on the first use. Some mascaras I've been disappointed with, others have taken two or three goes before I've fallen in love, but this one has been amazing from the start! I don't know much about formulas and how well they work, so I think for me the credit has to go to the brush itself. While it does have a general hourglass-like design, from a Padawan perspective it makes me think of two mascara brushes that have been combined to make one.

Think about it for a moment.

Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara -- brush close-up
Even with my limited beauty experience, volumising mascaras tend to have a brush that is, for lack of a better word, conical in shape. It has a large end attached to the stick and a smaller, tapered end at the tip -- presumably to reach the lashes in your inner corner. The "hourglass" brush of the Better Than Sex mascara seems to me to be simply two of the larger ends in one wand. Whether or not Too Faced did this intentionally and called it an hourglass as an afterthought, or whether they were just going for a new, out-there brush, I have no idea -- either way, I'm glad they did it!

Before -- no mascara, only BB cream on my skin!
After -- wearing the Better Than Sex mascara!
I do adore this product but I have noticed a couple of downsides. For one, I always seem to end up with mascara on my lids. Don't get me wrong, this has happened to me with a lot of mascaras in the past due to my Padawan-strength application techniques, but I've usually been able to figure out a way to avoid it happening after a few goes. So far, this hasn't happened and I think it's because of the wand shape.

I've also noticed the slightest amount of flaking. It doesn't happen for several hours and it really is only the smallest amount, but nevertheless it does happen. I love the product itself so much that I will put up with it, but people who detest any amount of flaking might want to do a little more research and find out what others have to say.

Wearing the mascara as part of my everyday face routine!
Overall, I absolutely adore this mascara. If you don't mind some of the negatives I found, I would say that it's a high end must-have -- definitely an investment!

Padawan Product Rating: A

Do you have this mascara? What is your Holy Grail mascara?

Sarah xo

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

You're It! The Reading Tag

Books. I love them. It's hard not to, when your mother is a librarian. I've had the leisure to read for myself for the last month or so, but with uni starting as of today I'm going to be burying myself neck deep in Shakespeare and Dickens and, as much as I love Shakespeare especially, I'll soon be wishing that I had more time for Gabaldon and Weir! When I first saw this on Lazy Days Beauty, I knew I had to do it; you can tell an awful lot about a person from what they read and what they're interested in, and I love hearing about good reads!

So, let's get to it!

1. Do you have a certain place for reading at home?

Not really, I can just about read anywhere. I do like sitting somewhere comfy, though, like on the sofa.

2. Bookmark or random piece of paper?

People are going to throw things at me, but a lot of the time I tend to fold the page corner! Otherwise, it's about an equal weighting between bookmark and piece of paper. I'm currently using one of each, but I'll make a special effort with the bookmark if the book itself doesn't belong to me.

3. Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter or a certain number of pages?

I can just stop reading -- I nearly always remember where I left off.

4. Do you eat or drink when reading?

Not usually, not if it's recreational -- unless it's a main meal. I tend to be so engrossed by the book that I forget about things like food and drink. That being said, however, I do sometimes snack if I'm reading for a paper. It helps keep my brain going, because sometimes those books are really boring.

5. Do you watch TV or listen to music when reading?

I don't "watch" TV as such, but I'll have a DVD playing in the background if the reading is related to studying. This is to drown out household noise; I can tune a DVD out better!

6. One book at a time or several at once?

I'd like to be "one at a time", but I always tend to be several at once.

7. Reading at home or everywhere?

Everywhere, even on public transport!

8. Reading out loud or silently in your head?

Silently in my head, 99% of the time. Occasionally I get this stupid idea in my head that I'll read aloud and do different voices just to entertain myself -- then three pages later, I'm like, "Yeah, that was stupid."

9. Do you ever read ahead or skip pages?

Never! I don't understand why people do it on purpose! I can sometimes feel my eyes trying to if I'm getting impatient with finding out what's supposed to happen in the next moment, but I make myself stay on the page I'm meant to be on.

10. Breaking the spine or keeping it new?

If the book is expensive or new, I'd like to keep the spine looking new, at least for a while. Obviously it takes a lot of care, but hey, if the spine breaks, it breaks. That being said, if the book belongs to a friend and the spine isn't broken, I'll try to keep it unbroken -- hey, maybe they like a straight spine.

11. Do you write in books?

Only if I'm using them as part of study, and only in pencil -- this way I can erase it later. I detest highlighting or writing in pen and I don't see why people would do that -- how can you enjoy a book when you've got passages shouting out at you in bright yellow?!

12. What are you currently reading?

I'm currently reading two books: "Voyager" by Diana Gabaldon, and "Children of England: The Heirs of Henry VIII" by Alison Weir.

That's it for this tag post! Who to tag next...? If you've got the letter 'S' in your name anywhere, you've been tagged! Heck, if you feel like it, do it even if you don't have the letter 'S' in your name! Please leave me a comment with a link when you do, I'd love to see what books you're reading.

Sarah xo

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Mecca Beauty Loop L2 Unboxing

I received an email from Mecca last week saying that my next Beauty Loop box was ready for pick-up! Naturally, this meant that I had to send my stepdad to get it (he so loves the jibes his work colleagues give him about carrying a bag from a makeup store) because he's a champ and I was very excited to see what kind of products my recently-upgraded Level 2 membership would get me! (Ahh, Level 2. I laugh on the outside but my bank account is crying.)

If you don't already know about Mecca Cosmetica and their Beauty Loop program, you can read about it here, which also details what I got in my last unboxing. This particular unboxing is a mixed bag for me, but that's because I already own a couple of the products in it. If I hadn't, I probably would've been stoked!

(NOTE: The pictures shown below are pictures from the Mecca Cosmetica website and are NOT a representation of the sample I actually received.)

Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer SPF15 || This is one of the products I already have, and although it seems to be something of a cult classic, for me it isn't a favourite. That being said, don't think it doesn't work well! It's really good at prepping the skin and reducing redness, so I can definitely see how it's a favourite of some. I got the cutest little 5ml tube of this, exactly half the size of the travel-sized one I bought, putting the value of this sample at about $12.50. I don't think my mother has a primer, so I'm passing this onto her.

NARS Blush in "Deep Throat" || I got a sample of this quite recently when I was at Mecca Maxima -- it seemed to be an act of good will by the cashier for spending so much money! It's a nice blush, described as a "peach with shimmer", but I haven't really noticed any shimmer at all. This sample has 4g of product, which, I believe, is only slightly less than a full-sized one! If so, that puts the value of this sample at almost $40, which is amazing. I've passed this product onto my mother as well.

Malin+Goetz Grapefruit Face Cleanser || I always find myself stopping by the Malin+Goetz section at Mecca, peering at the bottles of face wash and body wash and wondering if they're any good. I got a little sachet of this, which really isn't enough for me to make an informed opinion, but hey, I won't say no, y'know? The sachet only has 1.2ml -- probably enough for one use and not worth very much, but a nice edition to the box all the same.

By Terry Baume de Rose || Sorry, Mum, you're not getting your paws on this! I'm always attracted to the shiny, expensive set-up that boasts the By Terry range, but my inner financial advisor always shouts at me, "Stop! You can't do it!" Baume de Rose seems to be a kind of signature product by By Terry and, as far as I can tell, it's just a super fancy lip balm -- which you can also use on your cuticles... I got a pot of this about the size of a gel eyeliner pot, containing 3g of product -- the value of which being about $25! That feels so expensive for a product only 30% of the size of the regular product, so I'm amazed! It's a very light pink colour and smells, as you may have guessed, of roses -- that's probably why it's so expensive. Reviews, however, seem to be mixed and the price tag is a definite deterrent.

That's it for this particular unboxing! Have you unboxed anything recently?

Sarah xo

Monday, 21 July 2014

Sweet Secrets: Triple Chocolate Cookies

I used to bake like a madwoman. No, seriously. When my brother turned 18, I made no fewer than nine cakes for his party. Yes. Nine cakes. Plus sweet snacks -- including my now infamous cupcakes, which is almost a literal death by chocolate. I had spent two days mixing and baking and cooling and icing -- it was a mammoth effort! These days, I don't usually have much time to experiment in the kitchen, but I've been on holidays for about a month, so I've tried hard to try and fatten up my family! After baking batch after batch of failed yet delicious brownies, I turned to a biscuit recipe for something essentially the same yet somewhat different. The fact that I felt guilty about pinching and eating my brother's biscuits had nooothing to do with it.

So what exactly is a biscuit? In the US, they're called "cookies" -- in the UK, they're still "biscuits". We also use the term interchangeably with certain kinds of crackers; the flavoured kind, usually, such as Shapes. Finding out the cultural differences between what are biscuits and crackers and scones and cookies is a conversation that can go on for hours, literally -- I know, I once had a sad, sad conversation that lasted that long.

The website I found this recipe on, called The Pioneer Woman Cooks, calls these biscuits "Chocolate Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies". That sounds like an overkill of chocolate to me, and it's meant to be. She strongly suggests drinking a tall, cold glass of low-fat milk with it -- because full cream would be too decadent and skim milk just doesn't cut it! I have to say, I can definitely see how she came to that conclusion. Feeling sick never felt so good.

This recipe is super easy but converting some of the measurements to Australian metric can be bamboozling, especially to those who aren't so confident in the kitchen. The first step is to cream together the butter and the sugar -- but how much butter to do you need for two and a half sticks? It's about 275g -- just a little more than your average block.

Mix it up nice and good.
Then you mix in the eggs, one by one. Egg. Mix. Egg. Mix. Egg. Mix. Simple enough stuff.

Then sift together all of your dry ingredients!

Add the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar-egg mix, a bit at a time...

...then dump all of your chocolate in!

The recipe says to add 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips and two cups of white chocolate chips. I do believe that's a lot of chocolate, but I tend to ignore such instructions and just dump my own quantity in! In this case, it was a single 230g packet of Cadbury Milk Chocolate Baking Chips, then chopped up 220g of Cadbury Cooking White Chocolate. Doing so sounds super tedious, but it's pretty easy: break the up all the squares individually, then take a sharp knife -- like a steak knife, I guess -- and chop each square into rough quarters. This way, you'll have nice huge chunks of chocolate, and we all know what that means -- deliciously ugly biscuits!

Mix that mix with the chocolate chips, and do it with style! Shimmy, samba, boogie! Okay, so nobody's said the word "boogie" since the 80s, but you'll want to start working off the calories before you eat these! Trust me, this recipe practically makes me a professional.

Line an oven tray with baking paper and start doling out doses of cookie. The recipe said that it would yield three dozen biscuits and naturally I was sceptical -- but it did! I had three of these beauties ready to go, although to ensure perfect deliciousness, I baked one tray at a time, for about ten minutes. This really is all you need. The biscuits might seem far too soft when you take them out of the oven, and while there's nothing wrong with cooking them for an extra five minutes, this does result in a crispy, crunchy bikkie. I like mine soft, personally.

Ten minutes later and voila! I've got a deliciously warm batch of soft cookies. I'm not going to lie, I ate the three that were in my first photo (because, hey, why not?), and I was so thankful for the milk, even though it was full cream (go hard or go home!). I swore myself off chocolate for about three hours afterwards -- that obviously didn't last.

Minus the three I ate very quickly, I made three dozen of these delicious morsels and they were all gone within twenty-four hours. Three dozen biscuits in less than a day! What kind of family does that? It's obviously a testimony to just how good these biscuits. Soft, warm, delicious -- they are the perfect kind of sweet winter warmer that we need right now.

You can read the original recipe here but I've included a tweaked version below. The original mentions something called a "cookie scoop", and when I read that I was like, "Whaaaat?" We don't have those in Australia as far as I know, so hopefully this recipe will help quash any confusion!

Triple Chocolate Cookies

Makes 36 biscuits


  • 275g butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cups cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 230g bag Cadbury milk chocolate chips
  • 220g block Cadbury white cooking chocolate.


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F.
  2. Break the white cooking chocolate into squares; roughly cut each square into quarters.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy, scraping down the sides with a spatula.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Mix in the vanilla.
  5. Sift together the dry ingredients, then add in batches to the flour, mixing until just combined after each addition.
  6. Gently fold in the chocolate chips and the chopped white chocolate.
  7. Add 1 tbsp. portions of mix onto oven trays lined with baking paper. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the biscuits are just done but still soft and chewy.
  8. Let cool on a baking rack.
Tell me, what kind of biscuits are your favourite?

Sarah xo

Friday, 18 July 2014

Drugstore Haul #3

Last week, Priceline were having a 50% off Rimmel sale and, as I absolutely adore Rimmel, I thought I should stock up on some more lip products -- lately, I've really wanted expand my colour range. As it happened, I hardly got anything that I'd set out to get and ended up buying things that I'd had no intention of buying when I'd walked in! Isn't that always the way?

Real Techniques Your Eyes Enhanced Starter Set || "What is that?" you say. "Are those brushes dirty?" Why yes, yes they are. I tried to resist using them until I took the photo for this post but I just couldn't! I've wanted more eye shadow brushes for a while, especially as I think I did something to my Mecca ones to make them go a little funky, and these are an absolute dream to use. I think I'm in love with them. This set comes with (from left to right): a deluxe crease brush, a base shadow brush, an accent brush, a fine liner brush, and a brow brush. I probably won't get much use out of the last one, because I don't do my brows at all, but who knows what kind of ideas I'll get for it!

Real Techniques On Location Travel Essentials || I can't lie, I bought this for one reason: the multi task brush. If my memory serves me correctly, you cannot buy this brush separately, it only comes in this kit. Lauren Curtis has raved about this brush -- I think this brush -- several times in her past videos, and she's the top Australian beauty YouTuber, so... If she thinks it's the bomb dot com, I'm willing to give it a go. This kit also comes with a foundation brush and a domed shadow brush.

Essie No Chips Ahead Top Coat || I've used this too, over the top of a MAC nail polish. I've wanted a decent top coat for a while and Essie has always seemed like a reliable brand. I think I'll have to road test this a little longer before I make up my mind about it.

Max Factor Max Effect Dip-In Eye Shadow in "Vibrant Turquoise" || I wasn't going to buy this at all. It wasn't on sale and even though I'd picked it up a couple of times, I'd put it back on the shelf. I wanted this to practice a look I've been playing with -- and so naturally that meant I caved and put it in my basket.

Rimmel Apocalips Lip Lacquer in "Stellar" and "Big Bang" || I really like "Apocaliptic", so I thought I should grab a couple more of these beauties. "Stellar" looks like a bright coral pink; "Big Bang" looks like a blue-toned red on first appearance. I'm excited to use these, and I think it'll be interesting to see if they bleed like "Apocaliptic".

Rimmel Lasting Finish Lipstick in "Amethyst Shimmer", "Sugar Plum" and "Starry-Eyed" || I'd intended to buy more Moisture Renew lipsticks, but the variety available at Priceline wasn't that great so I bought a few of these instead. There weren't any testers for me to look at the tube, and as a result I was relatively surprised by the colours when I opened the tube -- "Amethyst Shimmer" and "Sugar Plum" look very, very similar, unfortunately. I'm hoping they'll wear differently but I don't have much faith in the formula -- there are some tell-tale cracks in the lipstick tube.

Rimmel Wake Me Up Concealer in "Ivory" || I've seen this used a couple of times in YouTube tutorials and I thought I might give it a try. The shade isn't one I'd wear as a foundation, but I've seen it used as a kind of highlight, which is why I've gone for it.

And that's it for my most recent haul! What have you picked up lately?

Sarah xo

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Wednesday Weekly: Beef & Cheddar Pastries

Finally, back to a semi-normal schedule! I tried out something new this week, although when I thought about it, I wondered why I really needed a recipe after all. Beef & Cheddar Pastries. It sounds easy enough -- and it is. I did my usual thing where I doubled the quantity to make a double batch, but I don't think anyone was feeling particularly hungry because we ended up having leftovers! Delicious, delicious leftovers... Excuse me while I go and heat up my lunch.

The great thing about this recipe is that it includes three kinds of vegetables that children tend to hate -- carrots, eggplant and zucchini -- but they won't be able to tell. At the moment my house is going through a "culinary phase" where we try to finish off everything in the freezer/fridge/pantry and buy as little as possible -- this meant that we had neither eggplant or zucchini, so it's not in the version that I made. Either way, eggplant in my opinion is rather like mushroom -- there's no discernable taste -- and I imagine zucchini to be much the same way.

Looks tasty, no?
I will definitely make this recipe again, as it's very easy and not hugely time consuming, but there are a couple of things I might change. This is essentially just a beef sauce with cheese on top, so I think it's quite versatile in how you present it -- personally, I think I'd like to try it as a pie.
The first thing you need to do is take your puff pastry out of the freezer. I doubled the original recipe, so I took out two, but in hindsight I probably could've used another. You need to let the pastry defrost, but it doesn't take long.
While you're waiting, preheat your oven to 200 C/390 F, then grate your carrots -- two of them. Don't forget to get little annoying bits of carrot all over your chopping board! Now is also the time to grate up your zucchini and chop up the eggplant, if you're using it. Make sure you use a fine grater: this is the key to not letting your little ones catch on about the fact they're eating vegetables.
By the time you've finished the veggies, your pastry will have defrosted. Cut them into four squares, then lay them out on an oven tray with baking paper on it. Pop it into the oven for 15 minutes -- do one tray at a time if you're working with more than one.
While your pastry is puffing to perfection, give a large pot a nice splash of olive oil, chuck in your vegetables and a couple of teaspoons of minced garlic. If it smells weird, yes, it is supposed to do that. That's the smell of carrot frying and I've decided that I don't like it!
Throw in your beef -- I used a kilo -- and cook it with the veggies. The carrot will turn it slightly orange in the process, because that's what carrot does best, but it means that the carrot will be harder to spot later on.
Meanwhile, your completed puff pastry squares will look like something out of a high-end restaurant...
...and then you can get back to the sauce. The recipe calls for diced tomatoes, but we don't eat tomatoes, so I used passata instead. In doubling it, I would have needed over 800g, but a standard bottle holds less than 700g. I debated about whether or not I should use two, but then that was significantly more than what I needed. In the end, I decided to use one jar, fill it about halfway with water and add that in, then throw in a whole can of tomato paste. It will be very watery, but don't worry about that -- it will reduce down. So, you'll need to adjust the heat on your stove to High, bring it to the boil, then turn the heat down and let it simmer.
I let the sauce boil for several minutes before I turned the heat down, because there was so much water. Occasionally I'd give it a good stir to make sure that nothing got stuck to the bottom.
Cheese. One of the two most important ingredients. I used a fine grater for this as well, but you're able to use whichever kind you like -- heck, buy a different cheese, already grated. Cheddar can sometimes be on the pricier side, so there's no reason why you shouldn't use something else if it suits your budget.
When I was first reading this recipe and it said "split the pastry", I was really confused. I had no idea what they were going on about! It obviously became much clearer once the pastries were cooked that I needed to cut it like a roll, so I did just that, with a serrated bread knife. You probably don't need a bread knife for pastry, but I love any excuse to use it.
This is basically what your sauce looks like when it's done.
Ladle some of that delicious sauce onto the bottom half of the pastry, then put a nice dollop of cheese on top. They need to go back into the oven, but the recipe doesn't state how long for -- so I kept the temperature at 200 C/390 F and kept an eye on it to make sure it didn't burn. Three or four minutes seemed to do the trick, just until the cheese melts.
Behold. Gloriousness.
Place the tops of the pastry squares on it and dish it up. Voila, a messy dinner is served! The meat sauce was surprisingly tasty, given the lack of herbs in it (I do love to herb it up) and the cheese was delicious and soft. The pastry at the bottom did go a little soggy, but I'm not surprised -- a) it's puff pastry, and b) I'm no MasterChef!
If you don't have pastry in your freezer -- or if working with it scares the bejeezus out of you -- this would go nicely on toast, or in a huge pillow-soft roll. I want to experiment with it and turn it into a shortcrust pie, because I think it would be a huge success -- but obviously with more cheese!
This recipe came from the November 2009 issue of Australian Good Taste magazine, but you can look at it online. I have included the original recipe below.

Beef & Cheddar Pastries

Serves 4


  • Olive oil spray
  • 1 sheet (25cm x 25cm) frozen puff pastry, just thawed, quartered
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 zucchini, trimmed, coarsely grated
  • 1 Lebanese eggplant, trimmed, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled, coarsely grated
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 500g beef mince
  • 1 x 420g can diced tomatoes
  • 90g (1/3 cup) tomato paste (that's about half a can)
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 65g (3/4 cup) coarsely grated reduced-fat cheddar


  1. Preheat oven to 200 C/390 F. Spray a large baking tray with oil (or just use baking paper). Bake the pastry for 15 minutes or until puffed and golden.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook the zucchini, eggplant, carrot and garlic, stirring, for 5 minutes or until soft. Increase heat to high. Add mince. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up any lumps, for 3 minutes or until the mince changes colour. Stir in the tomato, tomato paste and water. Bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes or until the mixture thickens.
  3. Split each pastry square. Divide the mince mixture among the pastry bases. Top with the cheddar. Bake for 3 minutes or until the cheddar melts. Top with the remaining pastry.
And that's it for these delicious pastries! Would you try these out?
Sarah xo

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

You're It! The Interrogation Beauty Tag

I can't lie -- recently I've hit a little bit of Writer's Block on the blogging front. For me, getting over that means a combination of time away and trying to push through it, so I've been looking at other blogs to see what else people are writing about! I saw this beauty tag on Oh So Rosie! and she nominated everyone who read her to do their own. I do enjoy answering these sorts of quizzes, so I thought, "Why not?"

It's been a while since my customary dodgy-quality selfie! Hiii!

1. What is the one product you'd grab if your house was on fire?

It would probably have to be Too Faced's Better Than Sex mascara. I find that I could survive without anything else if I had to, but a decent mascara is necessary!

2. Which beauty blogger would you want to do your makeup?

I'm not sure if she's a professional makeup artist or not, but Karen from Makeup and Beauty Blog. I'm constantly in awe of the looks that Chanel-loving, MAC-adoring friendly neighbourhood cat lady is coming up with.

3. What celeb people do people think you look like?

A surprising number of people have told me that I look like Maggie Siff, who plays Tara on Sons of Anarchy. I don't watch the show, but I've looked at pictures and I'm not sure I really see it.

 It's a huge compliment, but... Look at her cheekbones! To die for!

4. What beauty product do you save for date night?

It'll be a perfume! I wear perfume all the time, and it depends on what I wear usually, but I'll likely bust out Estee Lauder's Beyond Paradise on a special occasion.

5. Which of your guy friends take longer than you to get ready?

I don't really have many guy friends... But even if I include my brothers, I don't think any of them take longer than me to get ready -- probably because they've got much less time to work with than I do!

6. If you could create your own miracle beauty product, what would it be?

Oh gosh, I don't know! I'm pretty sure that there exists something to suit every need that I have, and I just haven't found it yet (or is that my own naivety?). Maybe a nice under-eye cream.

7. What's your best beauty tip?

I don't think I've been in the game long enough to have any of my own beauty tips to give! Hmm... It might be to invest in a really high-quality razor. Life is way too short, and your skin is way too precious, to use only cheap disposables.

8. What beauty products do you love to splurge on?

Eyeshadows, lipsticks, foundations... Just about anything, I think, if the quality is up there!

9. Which beauty bloggers would you bring on a shopping spree?

Danielle, hands down, no questions asked. That girl is an enabler and if I'm ready to go shopping, I'm ready to be enabled.

10. What is your signature scent?

It'd be either David Beckham's Intimately Beckham For Her or Gwen Stefani's G in the Sea.

11. I am on an endless quest for the perfect...

Foundation! I want something that gives me great coverage in a perfect shade that doesn't sit too heavily on my skin after a few hours. I think I might be onto one at the moment, but I do not want to count my chickens just yet.

12. How many beauty products does it take to get you ready?

It depends on if I feel like wearing anything and how much I want to put on. I tend to do a full face when I put on makeup because I'm still practicing with so many different techniques. I guess I could use... maybe 8 or 9 products? Maybe more if I feel like taking a couple of extra steps. That being said, if I'm lazy and I only want the bare minimum, 2 or 3 products do me just fine.

13. What lipstick/lip gloss is in your purse right now?

At the moment I've got CoverGirl WetSlicks in "Clear Radiance" (which I used to add a glossy finish over some lipsticks), Rimmel Vinyl Gloss in "Crystal Clear" (which I use on its own), and L'Oreal Paris Glam Shine Reflexion Gloss in "Sheer Pink". I've just switched out to a new bag though, so give me a couple of weeks and I'll have another half dozen products in there!

14. Who is your celebrity beauty icon?

Jena Malone and Perdita Weeks. I love them. That is all.

15. Name the beauty brand you'd most love to be a spokesperson for.

Maybe... Too Faced? I'm not too sure, but I always to covet their products when they bring out something new. If I have to go with a domestic brand, maybe Chi Chi -- which is a weird choice because I don't actually have any of their products. Yet.

16. What's your current nail polish?

MAC Maleficent polish in "Flaming Rose" with an Essie topcoat. It's a beautiful colour but the quality has been very disappointing.

17. Favourite mascara right now?

Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara. I feel kinda bad about that, I didn't think I could love anything more than L'Oreal Paris Butterfly Wings mascara!

18. The last thing you bought at Boots?

I have no idea what Boots is. My last makeup purchase was at Priceline, however!

19. I try never to be seen without wearing...

Mascara or a BB cream, at the very least.

20. What's one beauty product you'd always recommend?

Oh gosh... I'm going to say mascara, because there are drugstore varieties which, in my opinion, can be just as good as some high end products. If you're not sure if the one you're looking at is for you, read reviews! On the label site, on blogs, on YouTube... Look at the positives and negatives, and get an informed opinion.

If you've read this, then I tag you to do one on your own blog! Leave me a comment below when you have so that I can take a look at it, or send me a tweet @sarahliz92.

Sarah xo

Monday, 14 July 2014

Product Review: Benefit's They're Real! Push-Up Liner and Remover

A couple of weeks ago I purchased Benefit's They're Real! Push-Up Liner as part of a high end makeup haul (which you can read about here), as well as the They're Real! Remover. I asked the woman at the counter if the liner was especially hard to take off, as I have astringent toners and the like at home, but she was adamant that the liner would not budge. Let's be honest here, while I nodded and said, "Ah, okay", on the inside I was laughing. I might not be a Beauty Yoda by any means, but I've never used an eyeliner I couldn't take off. Either way, I decided that I didn't want to risk it, so into my shopping basket it went.

Benefit They're Real! Push-Up Liner
The liner comes in a pen-type device that has a clicky end on the bottom -- yep, those are technical terms. The lid screws off (don't try pulling it like I did, you just make yourself feel foolish) to reveal an angled dispenser. When you first buy the liner and take the lid off, the dispenser has a little orange plug in it. The girl at the Benefit counter recommended keeping the plug and using it if you found yourself not likely to use often -- this is to prevent the gel liner inside from drying out.

Benefit They're Real! Push-Up Liner -- close up
She also said to be careful when clicking it the first time -- it does take several clicks, but you want to go about it slowly, because if you go nuts like a squirrel on coffee, you will end up with a big blob of liner. From there, she recommended two clicks at a time when using it, for much the same reason. I'm not sure how many clicks it took me before I saw any product on the nib, but I do remember standing there going urging it to hurry up already -- keep in mind, however, I was going slowly.

A close-up of the nib.
Does the liner hug the lashline? That depends on whatever "hug the lashline" means -- personally, I don't really know. I had the impression that it wouldn't go where I wanted it to if I tried to use it like gel liner brush, so I made sure to position it closer to the lashline than I might've otherwise. As a result, I find that I have been able to get a generally neat application, and I've been able to achieve a more natural look with ease.

On the downside, I have noticed a little wastage. The product can get on the sides of the nib when you're applying -- and because both are black you can't really see it -- however you could just use the sides of the nib to help colour in your wing or go over your cat-eye, if you're feeling up to it.

What's the staying power like? For me, it has been absolutely incredible. I used this when I was at Comic-Con last weekend and it stayed on all day -- in fact, on me it was intact for eighteen hours! I applied it at 5am and I came home at about 11pm, and not once did I feel the need to retouch. I had to re-powder my face, I was constantly touching up my lipstick, but my liner? Didn't need to. I have had liner fade or smudge on me on a normal day at work -- this was a day of nerd convention madness! I was very, very impressed.

Wearing the Benefit They're Real! Push-Up Liner
It is true, a product like this doesn't budge that easily when you first apply it, and if you make a mistake then water simply won't cut it. But is the They're Real! Remover necessary? It really depends. If you put it on at the beginning of the day and take it off at the end, then I think a cleansing water or a makeup wipe does the job perfectly fine -- so what's the point? That being said, if you make a mistake, the remover really does make an easy job of it, but I'd suggest using a cotton bud instead of a cotton pad.

Benefit They're Real! Remover
I can see myself running out of the liner before I run out of remover, so forking out $25 for something I won't use too often might be something that people don't want to do. That being said, I think it would work great on waterproof makeup, so people who find mascara hard to get off might definitely get some use out of it. I think I would've preferred to have seen a smaller tube with a lower price.

A close-up of the tube nozzle.
So, do you really need Benefit's They're Real! Push-Up Liner and They're Real! Remover? I think the liner is definitely Beauty Padawan-friendly, just as long as you keep in mind the cautions about your first use. I think it's really just a more convenient version of using a gel liner with a brush -- and if you're perfectly happy with the latter, then you might find that this isn't a necessity. Whether or not you need the remover depends on practicality -- I doubt Beauty Yodas will think it's a must-have -- but it does do a great job.

The results of using water (left), Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water (middle) and Benefit They're Real! Remover (right) to remove the liner approximately two minutes after swatching.
From what I've gathered on the internet, one either loves these products or one hates them. If you want to see an opinion from the other side, Danielle has written her own review, which is rather less glowing than mine.

Padawan Product Rating (Liner): A

Padawan Product Rating (Remover): A-

Would you buy either of these products? What do you think of them?

Sarah xo