Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer

I am SO late to the party with this it’s unbelievable! What can I say? I live in a miserable backwater in the North whose only make-up counters are the ones aimed at the landed gentry, usually of the over-60s variety!

While I was in London before Christmas, I was SO EXCITED to pick up this eyeshadow primer! It’s been on my wish list for 3 actual YEARS.

Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion in Original
Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion in Original

What can I say about it? It comes in a purple tube that’s shiny with an applicator in the lid, yada yada… I got the large tube because a small one was £10.50 but the large was £16 which was twice the amount of product and I foresee myself using this a LOT and not being able to buy more for possibly 3 more years (actually, it depends where I emigrate to, but Ireland’s not known for its availability of make-up brands, and neither is New Zealand). Having said that, I’ve seen it for sale on US Amazon for a reasonable price (it’s disgracefully expensive on UK Amazon), so now that I know I like it, I will probably just get it off there after I emigrate to wherever I end up going, because aside from delivery to the UK, Amazon.com tends to be pretty good at international delivery.

I got the original; I didn’t ask the counter assistant what the difference was because I got this a few days before Christmas and the stores were literally heaving, and I was all like, “gimme makeups” like some sort of chemically deficient crack whore that needed a hit. If you’re wondering about getting into make-up, be warned that this will happen to you despite your best intentions at moderation and temperance! Joking aside though, the assistants were rushed off their feet and I didn’t want to waste their time and add to their stress by asking inane questions about products, so I just went with original since I was fairly sure I’d be happy with any. …And I am SO happy with this product! If you’re uncertain which version to get, go with the original purple one!

Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion glides on the eye easily, turning pretty much invisible once it’s on, and it also does the following things that I liked:

  1. It makes the eyeshadow colors stand out more.
  2. It makes the eyeshadow colors blend more easily.
  3. It makes the eyeshadow colors MUCH easier to remove at night with less crappy residue under my eyes after using my micellar water.
  4. It makes my eye area look fresh and vital.

I don’t know how it does all this, probably some sort of mysterious voodoo magic or something, but whatever it is, I am in LOVE with this product. It was always going to be a gamble, getting a product that I’d wanted for so long, but in this case, it DEFINITELY lived up to all my expectations.

I’ve seen a lot of people claiming that the MAC Pro-Longwear Paint Pots are a better base for eyeshadow, but having used those in the past, I could not disagree more. The Urban Decay eyeshadow primer potion is much kinder to the eye area and looks way better under eyeshadow, and it gives better blendability too.

Thank-you, Urban Decay, for making the most fabulous eyeshadow primer ever!

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How to find your perfect red lipstick

perfect red lipstick

Have you ever fallen in love with a beautiful bright red lipstick that you had to stop wearing because it didn’t look right? When we get the wrong shade of red, we look washed out or sickly, regardless of skin tone. I decided to investigate exactly what you need to do, to find your perfect red lipstick to wear this season’s most daring lip color so you can look like a sparkling ruby, rather than a shrinking violet.

There are two schools of thought on finding the right shade of red lipstick: The traditional method says that it’s got to match your skintone, by which they don’t mean you should choose a lipstick that’s the same colour of red that your face goes when you accidentally inhale a cranberry.

red lipstick mouth
Apparently, four is the number of lipsticks I can fit in my mouth at one time, so the fifth had to remain in my hand.

Instead, you should look at red lipsticks closely and decide whether they are a yellow based red (are they slightly orange) or a blue based red (are they slightly pink). By matching up the base colour of the red with the amount of orange or blue in your skintone, you should apparently find your perfect red.
Problem: We aren’t orange and blue based. If you are warm toned, you have yellow base, and if you are cool toned, you have a red base. And most of us are neutral-toned anyway, and just veer more towards one or the other.
Second problem: If everything you wear (clothes, make-up, hair etc) matches your skintone, you start to look a bit invisible, a la Jennifer Aniston in 1999, fading into the sofa at Central Perk in Friends:

jennifer aniston 2002

See how her hair, skin and clothing are all nearly the exact same shade, and so is the sofa behind her?  If she was next to someone else, you’d be able to see that they popped out of the screen while she faded away, which I’ve noticed about Rachel in quite a few episodes of Friends.  This is a real danger if you are almost 100% neutral toned (like me) because everyone tells you that you’ll look good in neutrals (which is true, but it’s also only part of the story; you’ll look good in most other colours as well, including red).

I decided to investigate whether this was a good way to choose the perfect red lipstick by buying the W7 “The Reds” collection from Amazon (which was £4.79 for six tubes of red lipstick: scarlet fever, racing red, red hot, bordeaux, very red and kir royale, which isn’t really red so got ditched at the start of the experiment) then I swatched them on my arm before trying them on my face. That (putting one on my face) was when I discovered I was allergic to one of the red lipsticks (apparently lipstick allergy is the most common make-up reaction but I’d never heard of it before my lips started getting bumpy swellings and a lovely couple of splits in them). When my lips swelled down 2 days later, I tried again with the protection of two layers of foundation and a layer of silicon primer.  Turned out the one that caused a reaction was the only red lipstick didn’t remotely suit me anyway.  Apparently orange-based red lipsticks look best on me but I can also wear neutral based ones (neither orange nor blue is predominant), which figures.  I’m slightly on the warm side of neutral skin tone, so I expected the neutral red lipstick colors to look best, but the orange-based shade really surprised me, I think it was my best red colored lipstick.
Here’s the video of me showing how to find the perfect shade of red lipstick using this warm and cool method:

The second school of thought, invented (as far as I know) by Makeupgeek.com, is that the perfect shade of red lipstick isn’t anything to do with blue or yellow undertones, it’s to do with the vibrancy of the lipstick, and how that matches up to the vibrance of your skin colour.
For example, if you have a very pale or fair skin, you don’t need a PALE red, you need a MUTED red lipstick, one that can be as light or dark as you like, as long as it’s not super-vibrant, because vibrancy will overpower the color of your skin, your eyes, your hair and everything else. If you have dark skin, your red lipstick can go as vibrant as you like, the brighter the better.
You can read more about this theory here:
https://www.makeupgeek.com/best-of/my-top-5-red-lipsticks/

And if you’re still stuck between all the shades on offer, according to most well-known glossy magazines, MAC’s lipstick in Ruby Woo is apparently somehow flattering to everybody. Whether you’re fair, dark, olive, neutral, warm or cool; this red lipstick will suit anyone.  That sounds very mysterious (but I expected nothing less from MAC); I look forward to trying Ruby Woo out.

Check out this article if your lips are on the skinny side and you want to know how to plump your lips (without getting a filler).

Do you wear red lipstick?  Do you have a perfect shade?  I suspect red’s going to be popular again this year since we’ve just had two years of neutral and nude lip colors!

Beautiful Saturday: Primer Review

So I got Smashbox’s Photo Finish Primer recently.  I have been using Avon’s Anew Primer before, because it was the best primer I’d ever found, and before that I was using Clarins’s primer, which I received as a gift for Christmas 2013 and mistakenly thought it was an eye cream until I read the packaging in more detail.  I thought I’d do a review of them all because I thought they were all so very different.

In order, then:

Clarins Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch:

What it looks like in the packet:  It comes in a screw top jar that’s really tiny.  It’s unusual for a primer, because it’s solid.  I found it a bit like putting butter on my face, but it did melt in nicely and provided a reasonable base for my foundation.

What it looks like on my face:  I used L’Oreal True Match and Benefit WOW Oxygen foundations with the Clarins primer.  I did find that they sat on top of it rather than settling in, which I thought was normal for primers at the time because I’d never used one before, but now I know better I don’t think I’m as happy about this.  A finishing powder is a must with this primer.  Also it didn’t fill in the potholes.  You know, the pores you get in summer.  It kinda made them worse because it sat on the higher bits so exaggerated the pores making me look old and haggard.  At 26 that wasn’t really what I wanted from a primer.

What it looks like when you wash it off:  It made no difference to how the make-up wore or came off, it didn’t prolong the wear of the foundation.

clarins primer

Overall rating:  It was my first, and my least favourite primer.  At the time, I didn’t really think it was useful as an addition to my make-up routine since I hadn’t tried any other at that point.

Avon Anew Skin Transforming Primer

What it looks like in the packet: It came in a pump action cylinder.  It’s a thick white creamy substance that has the consistency of frozen soft serve ice cream.  It’s not this one, it’s a different range, and it’s NOT an eyeshadow primer either!

What it looks like on your face: It fills in the surface and smooths out the summer pores nicely, I also found it covered up fine lines quite well and provided a good base for both foundation and eyeshadow.  The foundation sank in slightly but not enough to dry out or form a crust (if you have even slightly dry skin and have ever been fooled into using powder foundation on bare skin, you know what I’m talking about).

What it looks like when you wash it off: I find this primer makes it easier to wash off any make up I wear, leaving far less residue than any other primer, or foundation with no primer.  I also find it isn’t remotely moisturising, so it’s important to use a proper day cream underneath, especially if you’re trying to preserve your youthful vigour for as long as possible before any of the obvious signs set in.  I would certainly say that while it has no “anti-ageing” properties in the scientific mumbo-jumbo kind of way, it certainly creates a good visual and makes you look more flawless.

avon anew

Overall rating: I only bought this for my wedding, because I was an Avon rep at the time, but I’m still using it (long after I quit being a rep) and really love it.  At £9 I thought it was a bit expensive, but I got it at £4.50 and when I think about how much the other two primers cost, I think I got one heck of a bargain.  Avon’s usually VERY hit or miss but this primer is a big hit.

Smashbox Photo Finish Primer:

What it looks like in the packet: It’s a squeezy tube.  When I first opened it, there was this very greasy fluid (like, the exact opposite of viscous, it was about as fluid as acetone) that went straight down my hand and reached my elbow before I could wipe it off.  After that first time, it’s always been a see-through colourless gel like silicon, almost like the lubricant we used to use on the milkshake machine at McDonalds.

What it looks like on your face: It goes on like silicon as well, so I would guess that it’s probably made of mostly silicon.  It provides a phenomenal base for foundation and when I used it for a music video this week it made the foundation look totally flawless and that foundation stayed put all day on both days of filming.  It also gave a good finish with the pigmented finishing powder I used (foundation alone tends to make one look pasty when you’re filming with bright lights) and this was the result:

smashbox primer provides a flawless base

smashbox primer provides a flawless base

What it looks like when you wash it off:  It really lets itself down here.  Maybe I’ve been spoilt by the Avon primer, but this one did something to make the foundation into a highly pigmented emulsion and it took over 10 minutes to wash it off with warm water and a sponge.  Cold water just beaded off it.  I guess that this is the flipside of using silicon.  I didn’t use soap because soap is designed to get rid of oil-based things (such as most dirt) rather than silicon.

smashbox primer

Overall rating: I really loved the perfection this one created, it really did a good job at making skin look great on camera, and I would not hesistate to recommend the Smashbox Primer for anyone working in film and photography because underneath foundation and finishing powder it’s the best primer I’ve used for this purpose.  I wish I’d had it for my wedding.

Overall Comparisons:

I don’t think there is any situation where the Clarins one would win.  It just doesn’t do anything very well.  I guess if you want something that’s 100% plant-based, you might want to give it a look, but I’m really scraping the bottom of the barrel for a positive because I’m not convinced on the provenance of the ingredients.  See my article “what’s all natural and what are chemicals” for more explanation on this.  I would ALWAYS use the Smashbox primer for moving pictures, and any time I want to make a Youtube video from now on I will use the Smashbox Primer because it is really phenomenal at what it does.  However, for a day-to-day primer if I was to get a job where I needed to wear makeup every day, I would not choose this one.  Instead, I would pick the Avon Anew Primer.  Why?  Because it washes off easily, and when I’m working in a job where I have to wear make-up (professional ice skater, entertainment host, make-up sales rep, receptionist; all on my CV, and all GENERALLY jobs where you will get frowned upon if you don’t wear make-up) , my biggest pet hate is spending up to fifteen minutes trying to get the day’s foundation and mascara off, when I could be in bed getting more sleep.  I’d rather look a bit less HD ready for day to day life and save the Smashbox stuff for filming.

Dry Skin? Have you tried macadamia oil?

Last night I was despairing at the state of my skin.  I had a huge dry patch on my forehead where the car’s heater vents have been blowing straight into my face.  It would probably be a lot worse if I didn’t wear sunglasses like ALL THE TIME.

So I thought I’d try putting macadamia oil on instead of moisturiser.  I got mine from Aldi last year, but you could try this with any light oil such as grapeseed oil, olive oil or coconut oil.

I put a fair amount on my face and neck, but not so much that it didn’t sink in within a few minutes, because the worst thing you can do to dry skin is to swamp it with greasyness, that just leaves you with dry skin and spots, which means  the dry bits have to get drier while you avoid oils until the spots go away.  It’s just a bad time.

I went to sleep and when I awoke, I was pleased that my skin had regained its moisturisation and suppleness, because we all know that oil has the potential to just make you look like you bathed in a chip pan, whatever skin type you have.

I washed it off with some warm water, because I have found that spots are caused by grease getting trapped in my pores.  I rarely have spots.  I reapplied it today, more lightly, as a base for foundation – it was an idea I got when I heard someone say that younger people don’t need primer unless they have very dry skin, and I thought, what would be better than moisturiser and primer for dry skin?

The night before
The night before
The next morning, after washing my face.
The next morning, after washing my face.

Well I tried it and I’m completely sold.  Instead of expensive primer full of silicones and whatnot, for everyday wear, I’m going to use my macadamia oil as primer.  It’s amazing.  *UPDATE: Photo below* I don’t have any photos because I lost my phone yesterday (and there has been major drama while I’ve been searching for it) and so I can’t take any pictures, but if you have dry skin and find that your foundation creases when you first apply it, try a light oil on your face, like coconut oil or macadamia (or almond) oil, apply only a small amount, your face shouldn’t be an ice rink otherwise the foundation won’t stick, and see whether it improves the smoothness of your foundation.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that it makes my face feel cool and refreshed, and the foundation feels much more breathable than usual, which is a nice bonus! I use the Benefit Oxygen Wow foundation in Ivory.

This is what my foundation looks like with using Macadamia Oil as a primer instead of moisturiser and primer.
This is what my foundation looks like with using Macadamia Oil as a primer instead of moisturiser and primer.

Oils not to use: Sunflower oil, any animal based fat calling itself an oil, mineral oil, baby oil, vegetable oil, castor oil, aromatherapy “scented” oils (they’re too strong for the facial area unless being used under the direction of an aromatherapist who will usually dilute them with a carrier oil such as the grapeseed oil I mentioned earlier).

Only use a very small bit of coconut oil because it’s thicker than some of the others that I said were good to use.

Update: I’ve now added before and after pics of using macadamia oil on bare skin and under foundation.