In News Thoughts

How Fenty Beauty Stole My Heart

I find it hard to believe that anyone with an internet connection in the past couple of months hasn't heard about Rihanna's Fenty Beauty launch. And in my opinion, it's not without good reason.

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably saw how excited I was for the release.


Being in the makeup industry, I'd known Riri was getting ready to launch a brand for some time. I wasn't expecting much. To be honest, I thought the whole thing would be a total flop and we'd never mention it again. That was until about a week before release day, when I spotted the beautiful mosaic of forty skin tones as one of the advertising images. Right then and there, I was sold. I hadn't even touched a Fenty product yet, but I didn't need to. 


When this image made the rounds, so many people commented that most brands had 40 or more shades of foundation, so why was this anything special? I'll tell you why.

Very very few brands actually launched their lines with 40 shades. Actually, I can't think of anyone who did that. Foundations are apparently hard for brands to get right, so having 40 unique colours - let alone starting with that many - is unheard of. I also feel like it's incredibly important to note that Rihanna is a musician, it says a lot that someone outside of the cosmetic industry was able to make an impact like this. There are well established brands that have been in the cosmetic industry for double, even triple my lifetime that aren't even close to having 40 foundation shades in just one formula. And those brands are headed with a team of cosmetic industry professionals. Basically, what Rihanna did is special.

What makes all this even more noteworthy is how vocal she's been about the importance of cosmetic diversity. That's why I'm living for Fenty right now. She didn't make 40 shades so that she could sell more product, she made 40 shades so that there was at least one brand out there standing for inclusivity. That's an important message to put out there. A quick trip to your local beauty store will probably show you that most brands have a handful of shades, starting at light-ish beige and ending at dark tan. If your skin is darker or lighter than most, you're going to struggle. Rihanna's aim was to have one brand cater to all skin tones, and while I'm not sure everyone could find their shade in Fenty, given the excitement about the brand, it's clear that a hell of a lot of people can.

I also find it interesting how other brands are taking the competition. It's quite clear that Rihanna is capitalising on a very real gap in the market, and that consumers are taking note. So much so, that industry giants seem to be having a wobble. MUFE - I'm looking at you.



The sly little digs across social media just goes to show that Fenty is making waves.

In my last post, you might have seen how I picked up a bottle of Pro Filt'r Foundatoin in the shade 100 (the lightest). I was apprehensively optimistic that this would be light enough for me, given that Illamasqua and  Kat Von D are the only brands to even come close to matching my inconveniently pale skin. I'd also heard rumors that the foundation oxidises, which made me even more nervous. That being said, I was thrilled to find that it matched me perfectly! I've actually had so many compliments about how great my skin looks since wearing the Pro Filt'r foundation, which is always nice! Also, can we just take a second to appreciate the packaging. Next on my wish list is one of the Match Stix because of that dreamy soft pink hexagonal-ness.

Overall, Rihanna has seriously impressed me. I can't wait to see what's in store for the brand.

Have you tried Fenty Beauty? What did you think?




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In Haul

Sephora Haul!




So if you follow me on Instagram (@meghanbaxtermua if you don't) then you'll have seen from my stories that I was lazing around on a beach in Majorca last week. But while I wasn't sipping cocktails and soaking up the sun, I was running around Sephora like a kid at Disneyland. With all things considered, I think I showed admirable restraint and only picked up enough to fill one bag. And as promised on my story, I'm about to take you through what I bought and why.





First up is this this mini Kat Von D lip set, containing a lipstick and liquid lipstick, both in the shade Mother. I've only ever tried the Lock It foundation from Kat's line, but I've been meaning to try out her always hyped about lip products for the longest time. As soon as I walked into Sephora, this little box set caught my eye, so straight into the basket it went. One of my favourite things about Sephora is that they sell mini sets like this, which are totally perfect when you want to try out a handful of new products. I actually can't wait to try out the liquid lipstick!


Speaking of mini sets, I also grabbed this adorable BECCA Glow On The Go highlight duo. This set contains a baby Opal pressed highlight and a liquid version of the same product. I don't know how I've made it this far without trying a single BECCA product, so naturally I couldn't leave the store without these beauties!


With my thirst for mini products still not quenched, I spotted a baby size of the new Galifornia blush by Benefit. I'd seen this blush before in the blogoshpere and fell in love with the gorgeous packaging. I'll admit, I was disappointed that the little size doesn't have the beautiful golden sun pattern pressed into the pan like the full sized versions do, but the peachy blush itself is a gorgeous colour and I was in the mood to treat myself.


My lips and cheeks were sorted, so at this point I figured I might as well seal the deal and grab some complexion products too. That's when I spotted the FENTY Beauty stand. I didn't even have think about this one. I'd been meaning to run out and grab a FENTY foundation since launch day. If you follow me on Twitter (@meghanbaxtermua - yes, this is a second shameless self promo) then you'll have seen my hardcore fangirling over this brand during launch week. I'll be typing up a whole new post on why I'm so obsessed with FENTY so stay tuned.


Because I'm a go big or go home kind of girl, I figured one more complexion product wouldn't do any harm. As I said before, I've tried the KVD Lock It foundation before and loved it, so I threw the concealer in my basket too.

By this time I was starting to wrap things up. I could feel my boyfriend quietly losing the will to live as he reluctantly followed me around the store. That being said, those damn displays Sephora put next to the till always get me. They know what they're doing, that's for sure. A setting spray and a couple of sheet masks might have fallen into my basket amidst the chaos, but eventually I made it out of the store.




If you made it to the end of this post then congrats! I apologise for being painfully behind on posts - life has been keeping me super busy lately. Hopefully we'll be back to scheduled programming now. Thank you for your patience!



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In

The Makeup Tool You Need To Start Using Again


The beauty community is constantly coming up with new, and sometimes even bizarre, ways of applying makeup. In the past year we've seen everything from the SiliSponge to chicken nuggets (thanks, YouTube) being hailed as the foundation application tools of choice. But there's one tool that has recaptured my imagination in the past couple of weeks. My hands.

I remember when I first started wearing makeup almost a decade ago. My highly limited repertoire of tools saw me using my fingers to apply tinted moisturiser every day. But as my adoration for cosmetics grew, so did my collection, and foundation brushes quickly replaced my inexperienced fingertips. From then on I would pine after MAC Duo Fibres, Real Techniques and Beauty Blenders, forever searching for the perfect base application tool to give me the flawless application I've forever been looking for.

It wasn't until I took on a new job at a cosmetic retail agency and found myself working on a Nars counter that everything changed. Using your hands is the standard application method for foundation products at Nars, so I had to get used to it pretty quickly. It feels almost primitive and childlike applying makeup in this way, particularly in a world where sponges and brushes are sold to us as the only tools available. But when you really think about it, using your hands makes perfect sense.

One of the first things I learnt as a makeup artist is that warming up your base product with your hands helps it to blend into the skin and give a more natural finish. It's a well known trick that most makeup artists use in one way or another. So as consumers, why aren't we?

During my shift at Nars, I was surprised to see how quick and easy it was to create a flawless base again and again with nothing but the long skinny witch fingers I was born with. In my personal makeup routine, brushes have now officially taken a back seat. My method of choice has been to squirt a blob of foundation into the back of my left hand, then dab splodges on my forehead, cheeks, chin and nose. From there, I start to blend out with smoothing and dabbing motions, replicating the same movements we use with brushes and sponges. Trust me when I say that since I started using my hands, my application time has been cut in half. I've also noticed that I use way less product because it's not getting soaked up by a sponge or brush. Honestly, I'm totally in love.

I'd like to take this opportunity to encourage you to experiment with the way you do makeup. Break the boundaries that cosmetic consumerism has bestowed upon us. (Okay, maybe that was way too philosophical for a post about using your hands to put on foundation...)

Let me know what you've changed recently in your everyday makeup routine in the comments below.



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In Makeup

Makeup Mixology; My Favorite Ways To Custom Blend Foundations


As a makeup artist, I mix products together most of the time. In fact, I don't even remember the last time I used a foundation straight out of the tube! Custom blending is great because it enables you to get the best out of products, or even create something totally new. As a consumer, mixing products is a great way to expand your makeup collection without having to break the bank. Today I'm going to take you through my favorite foundation mixes, and show you some ways you can experiment with mixing your own products like a pro.


If you're one of those people (like me) who struggle to find foundations that match your skintone, mixing up your own shade is a great technique to master. For myself, I like to use MAC's Pro Longwear Waterproof in NC15 with Illamasqua's Skin Base in shade 01. I love the long lasting and high coverage formula of Pro Longwear Waterproof, while Skin Base helps me to create the perfect shade.
If you're thinking about mixing your own foundations into the perfect shade, then I suggest going for one product a shade lighter and one a shade darker if you can. If your skintone is on the lighter or darker side of the spectrum, this is going to be harder for you (we all know how great cosmetic companies can be when it comes to diversity...) You can find shade adjusting drops at NYX and The Body Shop that might work better for you.

Another way I love to mix foundation products is by adding thinners, primers and moisturisers. Taking this approach will help you create the perfect formula to meet your skin needs.
To create a lighter coverage/tinted moisturiser I love to use the Makeup Mixer by MaqPro. It thins products to the desired consistency without changing the integrity of the original formula. It's a total must have in my pro makeup kit!
If you're somebody with oily or dry skin, then you can use primers to thin foundations while also tackling your skin's needs. I love using Illamasqua's Matte Veil and Hydra Veil primers to do this because they blend so seamlessly into base products. MAC's Matte Mixing Medium also gets an honorable mention for creating a lighter coverage and super matte finish when mixed with foundations.

And finally, I've saved my favorite combinations for last.
I completely adore mixing illuminating products into my foundations to create a beautiful natural glow. My faves for this technique are MAC's Strobe Cream, Lustre Drops and Charlotte Tilbury's Wonder Glow. Strobe is particularly amazing for creating a subtle radiance, while the golden tones in Wonder Glow give the prettiest sunkissed effect. If you haven't tried blending your foundation with a highlighter or illuminator then you definitely need to give it a try!


Do you mix any of your products together? What are your favorite combos?


This post idea was inspired by Beauty By Kelsey. You can read her post here.










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In News Thoughts

A Closer Look At The Subculture Controversy; What Really Happened?



If you're part of the beauty community, then you've probably heard of Anastasia Beverly Hills (ABH for short). And if you've heard of ABH, then you've probably heard of the new Subculture palette, sister to the Modern Renaissance. The palette was finally released at the end of July, and has caused quite a storm since. If you're confused on what happened, or what to know what top beauty influencers and industry professionals think, then grab a cup of tea, sit down, and read on...

*Please note: there's been a huuuge amount of reviews, videos and comments put out there about this palette. I wish I could take the time to dissect all of the information, but in the spirit of maintaining my sanity, I chose to pull together the pieces I found most interesting and important to include. I give you my thoughts about what happened and why at the end of this post*

Let's start right at the beginning. The palette was already the center of a controversy even before it was in customers hands. Pictures of the palette were leaked online prematurely by a company employee (who was later fired). Twitter blew up for the first time over the Subculture palette and once the images circulated, people could hardly contain their excitement. The countdown to the release was on.



The excitement was short lived. Things began to crumble (see what I did there?) when the palette was released and popular beauty influencers began posting videos of their first impressions and reviews. The palette received a less than warm welcome from several large beauty influencers. YouTuber Alissa Ashley was the first to post a negative review and gain a large response. You can watch the video here, where she talked about how powdery and unblendable the shades are. I think it's worth mentioning here that in Alissa's initial YouTube video, she began the first impression/review very positively. Watching her video, I didn't get the feeling at all that she set out to intentionally leave a negative review. Later she took to Twitter to post a close up video, showing how much product was crumbling away as she brushed at the now visible pan.



It quickly became evident that Ashley wasn't alone in her views. Beauty influencers with substantial followings started posting their own videos consistently showing consistently patchy blending and a powdery texture. Comments also arose several times about how pigmented and difficult to use the shadows are, particularly in MannyMua's video (we'll come back to this later).






But it's not just influencers. Even consumers are having trouble using the product. If you've not seen it already, John Kuckian uploaded a video on the topic which is well worth the watch (you can see it here). He showed one of his subscribers using the palette and having an all round hard time. Kuckian also mentions Stephanie Nicole's video (here) which discusses how a more pigmented eyeshadow like those seen in the Subculture palette is harder to blend. His opinion is that the source of the issue is because of a  trade off ABH seems to have made, between having a more pigmented, harder to use product, rather than the opposite. He makes the point that in ABH's persuit of being the 'best' in pigmentation, they fell through when ensuring the product is blendable.





ABH boss Norvina was quick to step in, explaining that the manufacturing process is the reason for the powdery nature of the shadows; claiming that a new pressing process was to blame. Some people sensed a bit of sass when Norvina asks why someone would swirl a brush into a product until it hit pan. To be honest, I feel like it was some intended shade on her part. To be fair to Norvina, I'm sure she was getting frustrated with the mob and pitchforks coming after her on Twitter, and she maybe lashed out just a little. It is what it is.




Despite the product being apparently sub-par, the controversy was relatively drama free. That is, until another ABH employee rocked the boat (I'm sensing a pattern here...) by responding to negative reviews on Instagram by claiming customers simply had a lack of talent. Thecomments have now been deleted. Side note; I'm not sure why brand execs and employees think it's a good idea to slate customers online? Obviously this isn't Norvina's fault, but I can't figure out why this keeps happening! Remember the Z Palette drama? It NEVER ends well. So unprofessional!





YouTuber Wayne Goss also came to ABH's defence, posting a video (here) claiming that videos like Alissa Ashley's, showing the crumbly nature of the Subculture shadows, aren't totally honest. (I do feel like in the start of his video, Wayne was exaggerating quite a bit by saying Alissa was "really grinding" the brush into the product.) He tested his theory by swirling a brush into several popular high end eye shadows, which were also showing a high amount of kick up. While I appreciate that it's normal for eye shadows to behave like this, particularly when a brush is swirled into them, personally I'm not totally convinced. In Alissa's Twitter video it appeared as though she was using a light swiping motion rather than a swirl. If you look close enough you can see the hole in the shadow gets larger as she brushes, revealing more and more of the pan. Wayne also claimed that the eyeshadows in the Subculture palette are pure pressed pigments, which could explain their consistency, but he also admitted at that he had no evidence to support his theory. That being said, in Stephanie Nicole's video (here), she discusses how the Subculture palette contains less binders and more pigments in it's formula than it's sister, the Modern Renaissance, which is perhaps what Goss meant to say. Stephanie also said that people were perhaps having issues using the palette due to technique. She felt that being too heavy handed with both the amount of product and the brush, alongside primer choice, is the reason for patchy application.




By this point, there had been circulation of a theory that there was an inconsistency between batches, and that those with a 'bad' palette simply had a bad batch. Professional makeup artist and industry leader Kevin James Bennett (KJB) put this theory to rest on Facebook with his insider knowledge.




KJB also makes a very valid point about the manufacturing process; that in manufacturing colours are pressed separately and then assembled into a palette. So how can all the colours in one palette be bad, and perfectly fine in another? Wouldn't there only be one or two 'bad' shadows in a palette at most given the manufacturing process? But this means that there is no 'better' batch, the people with the 'better' palette are most likely better skilled to use the product. KJB believes that the formula of the Subculture palette is "challenging even for a pro makeup artist to manipulate", so of course consumers are having a hard time.


So, what are my thoughts on all of this?

I think that the idea that this is a difficult product for consumers to use is probably the most realistic. I don't believe that there was a manufacturing error made here, although I do believe that these shadows are more powdery than most others. I think that Norvina was probably aware when manufacturing that she was striking a deal to have a more pigmented yet harder to use product. I think it's understandable that she made that decision. In an industry were YouTube rules the beauty roost, the word 'pigmented' is tossed around A LOT as a buzzword, and it's easy to see why Norvina wanted her product to be the most 'pigmented' out there. I don't think she anticipated just how hard consumers were going to find it using the palette. I also think she deserves credit where it's due. She took a real hounding, especially on Twitter. People can be really, genuinely nasty, and she took a serious beating. While she might have thrown the tiniest bit of shade here and there, under the circumstances I think she handled the situation admirably well. She maintained that she was most concerned with keeping her paying customers happy. I think the next few weeks will determine her brand's future success - if customer care do their job right, she might be able to come out of this reasonably unscathed.

And finally, I think that this whole ordeal opened up the opportunity to have an interesting discussion about how seriously we should take product reviews. As Stephanie Nicole prefaced in her video (here), people experience products differently. The way someone does their makeup is incredibly personal, so perhaps we shouldn't put so much weight behind someone else's subjective opinion.


I'd like to take the opportunity to give an honorable mention to this video by Beauty News, who completely deconstructed the Subculture palette meticulously. They tested fallout before and after repressing, and had some interesting results. They also tested the product against others to see just how powdery the product is. The girls did a really great job with this video, kudos to them!




Let me know in the comments below what you think happened.
Have you tried the Subculture palette for yourself? 
What did you think?




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