Sunday, 30 December 2012

Lab Muffin's top beauty products of 2012

2012 is nearly over, so here's a round-up of the beauty products that got the most use this year (nail polish excluded):

Skinfood Pineapple Peeling Gel (reviewed here) - My go-to exfoliator when my skin feels like it needs a good scrub. It's a mix of physical and chemical exfoliant, and it lives in my shower caddy pretty much permanently.

PVA base coat
(how to make it here, troubleshooting here) - I've used this under the manicures that contain glitter, or that I might layer glitter on top of later (i.e. all of them). So much easier to remove, and on my nails, it doesn't do any damage.

Models Prefer Cleansing Brush (reviewed here) - I only picked this up recently, but I've used it almost every second or third day since. It turns any cleanser into a scrub, and makes my skin feel properly clean when I need to remove foundation.

Rose Hip Oil (reviewed here, here, here and here)* - This has reduced breakouts significantly, and whenever my skin plays up, it's likely that I've been lazy about the RHO.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Muffin goes bush!

I'm going to be away for the next week or so, facing the dreaded horror that is CAMPING. Old-school, no showers, no electricity camping, 6 hours drive away with my boyfriend's hippie friends, who are lovely but would think that "skincare regimen" had something to do with the military. I've scheduled a few posts for while I'm gone, but chances are I'll run back screaming before the week is out. Happy new year and stay safe - see you in 2013!

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Artsy Wednesday: New Year's Eve

Since Artsy Wednesday is doing New Year nail art a week early, I actually wore these for Christmas - lucky they work, and are a pleasant change from the wonderful Christmas tackiness I've been rocking recently!

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from Lab Muffin! Wishing you all a good holiday stuffing-of-the-mouth :D

Monday, 24 December 2012

Orly Hope and Freedom swatches and review - Coachella Dweller and High on Hope

Today I have two shades from Orly's forthcoming limited edition Hope and Freedom collection. It's predominantly a range of pastel shades, with a dark navy shimmer thrown in the mix. They have very hippie names, and the shades remind me of faded 70s psychedelic album covers.

Coachella Dweller is a pale green creme, with a slight yellow tinge. I love it! Green is one of my favourite polish colours, and it's hard to find a good pastel green. This is completely even in 2-3 coats, and self-levels to erase brushstrokes.

High on Hope is a navy shimmer - but the shimmer is multichrome! I think it's very similar to the particles in Space Cadet, but toned down by the creamy dark blue base. The shimmer sticks to the glass, so it's less shimmery on the nails than it looks in the bottle.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Fruity body wash reviews - Vice & Velvet and Allegra Rhodes

I am not a bath person - the last time I took a bath was when I was staying in a hotel, months and months ago. I'm definitely a shower girl, and I have scent categories of shower gels I like using, with a separate sponge for each type (not crazy I swear).

As it's been warming up, I've been shifting from creamy scents to fruity ones. My favourite at the moment is Vice & Velvet Blushing Phoenix Bathing Whip. Vice & Velvet specialise in richly scented bathing products. While that phrase would normally make my poor hayfever-riddled sinuses scream, their products have caused me no problems so far.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

CoverGirl Lash Blast Volume Waterproof review

CoverGirl Lash Blast Volume Waterproof in Very Black has been my default mascara of choice for a while. No matter how many high end mascaras I try, I always end up reaching for this funky orange tube. I use Very Black, which is... very black.


- Drugstore, so pretty cheap and widely available (RRP $17.95 in Australia grrr, but about half that in the US)

- Easy application - I was originally apprehensive about the scary-looking rubbery bristles on the wand, but they're great for separating lashes and ensuring it's clump-free in only a couple of strokes

- Very Black is definitely very black, and doesn't go ashy as it dries like some other mascaras.

- Makes lashes look plump and thick, without looking crunchy.

- Holds a curl very well - I've had a few mascaras destroy my carefully curled eyelashes before my eyes. This one doesn't, at all, and it doesn't even change the shape of the curl. Win!

- Long wear, doesn't crumble over the day. Also very waterproof - it doesn't budge!


Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Artsy Wednesday: Santa nails

I love Christmas nail art - it's one of the few things this Grinch loves about Christmas (the others are food and holidays). Today's AW theme is Christmas, so here's my third and most ridiculous Christmas design, a bit different from the sophisticated tree/jelly sandwich design I posted yesterday.

Enough Santas for you?

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Christmas tree jelly sandwich nail art

I'm a bit of a Grinch at Christmas (crowded shops, buying presents for people you don't really like, overindulgence guilt, family dramas, endless gift guides - bah humbug!) but I can't resist a bit/lot of Christmas themed nail art!

Monday, 17 December 2012

How to curl thick Asian hair with a hair straightener

I love romantic curly hair, but I'm scared of my curling iron - too much exposed metal! I recently discovered that you can curl hair quite well using a hair straightener, which is a lot less scary for a butterfingers like me to use on the back of my head where I can't quite see it (I've also been thinking about investing in some heated rollers, but I haven't gotten around to finding some yet).

I've been using a pimpin' ghd gold V classic styler in a limited edition sahara gold metallic finish. I've heard a lot about ghds, but never tried one properly until now, and I'm impressed! For my stiff Asian hair it's a godsend - it's so much faster than any other styler I've tried, and my hair stays straight until I wash it (longest so far is two days). It's lightweight, the cord is generously long (2.7 m), and the on/off button sits cleverly between the arms, so you don't turn it off by accident. It's on the expensive side though, and doesn't have temperature control settings. It heats super quick - 15 seconds is all it takes until it beeps and is ready to use.

Here's a fun, casual evening look I did on my sister, who has the same thick, coarse, stiff hair as me, but chemically straightened. For my massively thick hair, I've found that doing the thing where you pin the top layers up and work on the bottom layers first is usually a fail, and I end up with an out-of-control, clownish afro.

On the left is how her hair naturally dries - I'm definitely getting mine permanently straightened soon!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas - Candles

I know candles are a stereotypical entry on the "Generic Girly Gift" list, but I'm incredibly partial to a good scented candle. I firmly believe that if you're going to gift a candle, you should actually put in some effort and get them a good quality candle - if you're heading for the $2 shop or on a tiny budget, you may as well get them chocolate (I may be speaking from experience. Maybe.).

Here are two candles I've tried out recently - both are made with organic soy wax, which presumably burns cleaner and longer than traditional paraffin wax (although the sootiest candle I've ever owned is apparently 100% soy). It also comes from a renewable source (soybeans) as opposed to petrochemicals (oil crisis etc). Soy is also handy because it melts quicker, meaning you can flatten an uneven candle easily with a hairdryer! Both are in containers, which I love - after finishing the candle, you can reuse the jars for earring/key/coin/brush/cotton bud storage.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Artsy Wednesday: Glitter Gradient

This week's nail art topic is glitter gradients. If you know me well-ish, you'll know I'm fan of the cotton bud/Q-tip glitter gradient method. I decided to do a Christmas manicure for my research group's Christmas party today. Here's the result:

Polishes used:

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

OPI Mariah Carey Liquid Sand polishes - this time glossy!

I swatched and reviewed some of the OPI Liquid Sand polishes earlier here, and a few people requested glossy swatches. So here are Can't Let Go, Got Your Number and The Impossible again, this time with a thick layer of Essence Gel Look Top Coat, followed by Seche Vite.

Can't Let Go when glossy has so much added depth. It's probably my favourite of the collection.

Got Your Number - the glossy topcoat really brings out the holo sparkle, which is subtle indoors and super rainbow goodness in the sun. My photos don't capture how shiny and happy this is!

Monday, 10 December 2012

DIY Custom Lipstick; or, How to use up old lippie part 1

Today I've got a DIY project to show you, that I'm very proud of - mixing lipsticks to get custom colours.

I've recently started buying lippie, inspired by the likes of Michaela and Ling. As a rookie lipstick buyer/wearer, I have a whole collection of shades that look terrible on me - they'd be great if they were sheer, but as opaque colours they are definitely bleh and make me look like an "avoid" from Shag Marry Avoid.

Being frugal, I couldn't just leave them all lying unused though, so I decided to melt them down and turn them into something I'd actually use. So I made...DIY Custom Lipstick!

I'm in love with the mini Make Up For Ever Rouge Artist Natural lippie I picked up at BBU12 - it's the perfect understated colour that matches my lips almost perfectly. I kind of wish it'd be a tad redder though, so I decided to try making my own out of some lippies I didn't like: ulta3 Vixen, Mode Truly Red and Revlon Black Berry.

What you need:
  • Old lipsticks
  • Small heat-safe container for mixing
  • Microwave or double boiler
  • Spatula (I broke off the handle of a plastic fork)
  • Tissues
If you want to make a lipstick in stick form, you will also need:
  • Empty lipstick container
  • Small piece of foil
  • A pen or similar object the size of the lipstick you want to make
  • Hair dryer
1. Decide what colour you want. Having a swatch (just a colour cutout from a magazine, for example) with you is very helpful for colour adjustment, but of course you can just try it on your lips to see the effect. I'm basing my colour on MUFE Natural.

2. Decide how you want to store your custom lippie. The easiest is a lip balm container or empty lip pan (use a lip brush for application). If you want to make a lipstick, follow the optional steps further below.

3. Choose lipsticks to mix. This step requires a bit of practice - it helps if you have a lipstick that you want to change just slightly. ulta3 Vixen is pretty similar to what I want, but I'd like more red (Mode Truly Red) and a bit of brown (Revlon Black Berry).

4. Chop up your main colour into the mixing container.

5. Melt it either gently on the double boiler, or in the microwave (be careful not to overheat your lipstick, 15-30 second intervals is good, with stirring in between). You want the consistency to be quite liquid, as lipstick will solidify quickly at room temperature.

6. Add the other colours, a small amount at a time, and heat further to melt. Make sure it's all incorporated in before you add more - lipsticks from different brands often melt at different temperatures, and you don't want to end up with hidden lumps of unmixed colour!

Getting pretty close with mine!

7. Once you're happy with the colour, melt it once more and scoop it into the container of your choice. If it's in chunks and you'd like it to lie flat in the container, you can secure it, then blast it with a hairdryer to melt it (make sure the container is heatproof before you do this, and make sure you secure it - a hairdryer blast is surprisingly powerful!). Be careful, hairdryers can get very very hot!

To stick it into a wind-up lipstick (optional):

1. Clean out an old container - I'm using the case of ulta3 Vixen.

2. Find a pen or other cylindrical object that fits in quite nicely in the holder. I'm using a white-out pen.

3. Wrap foil around the object, then flatten the end.

You should end up with a little foil tube like this, with one closed end and one open end.

4. Transfer completed custom lippie to the tube - you'll want to stabilise it somehow (I've put it in a mini jam jar). If it's all lumpy, blast it with a hairdryer, but be careful - the air from the hairdryer can knock your tube over, and it gets very hot! Leave it to cool - you can put it in the freezer to speed up the process.

5. Unwrap your lippie...

6. ... and jam it into the container. Done! If you don't like the wrinkles on your lipstick, you can smooth them out with the foil, and if you want, you can cut the lipstick at an angle.

I'm super happy with my colour, and I've been wearing it quite a lot! Definitely one of my most successful DIYs so far!

Do you have a lot of unused lippies? Have you thought up any good uses for them? Let me know :)

Friday, 7 December 2012

Four makeup tips every girl should know

Happy Friday! Today I have a guest post about makeup tips, something I'm not completely confident in yet - so instead here is some advice from Isabella Franklin, who knows a bit more about this than I do...

If you slap on the same concealer and blusher every day with little to no thought, it might be time for a change. A few tweaks to your routine could leave you looking (and feeling) a lot more glamorous, so take a look at these makeup secrets every girl should know:

Find an everyday concealer

Concealer is notoriously difficult to wear, but finding the right product will help you achieve a wonderful, glowing complexion. Now, you shouldn’t be able to see any lines when you apply it, so opt for something that’s as close to your natural skin colour as possible. To find something suitable, don’t test the foundation on the back of your hand like many women do, instead rub it into your jawline. The ideal cosmetic will be very subtle and blend into your skin like it was meant to be there. It should not stick out like a sore thumb.

Learn how to disguise your flaws

Once you’ve found a foundation that can be applied over your whole face, look for something that’s a tone darker than what you’ve just bought. You can then use this to correct a whole array of flaws and perfect the symmetry of your face. If you have a wide nose, for example, you may have thought about rhinoplasty, but there is one simple makeup tip that can make it look thinner. All you need to do is apply the darker foundation from the inner corner of each eyebrow and down the side of your nose using a wet concealer sponge. This will create a shadow and draw the eye towards the lighter part.

Bring your eyes to life

If you are extremely tired, it can start to show in your eyes, so there are times where you’ll want to keep them looking fresh. One of the best ways to do this is to ensure your makeup is as neutral as possible, as dark colours can leave you looking a little washed out if you’re not feeling your best. Instead of plastering on thick eyeliner in a bid to look awake, stick to white, cream and ivory shades, as these will widen your eyes. If you’re going out, you can blend light and dark cosmetics together to create a more dramatic look. Once that’s done, learn how to curl your eyelashes and apply some mascara to perfect your look.

Andres Hernandez

Perfect your pout

These days, you can hardly go a week without reading about the latest hair transplant procedure or boob job, but sometimes a good smile is all you need to look good – and this can be achieved with makeup. That’s right: lip fillers and other treatments may seem appealing, but maybe a little lippy could do the same job? If you don’t already wear it, applying a little colour to your pout could work wonders, but if you do, why not spice up your look by emphasising your Cupid’s bow? This is the dip in the top of your lip and can be defined using a high-quality lip liner.

Every girl needs a few trusty cosmetics, so see what you can find and revitalise your appearance.

Isabella Franklin is a beauty blogger and runs, a blog dedicated to advice and guidance on all surgical and non-surgical procedures. She also enjoys writing about fashion, beauty and current health issues. You can also contact her over on twitter @Cosmetic_Bella.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Artsy Wednesday: Tape manicure

Today for Artsy Wednesday the theme is tape manicure. I've done a lot in the past, but today I decided to try something a bit different, inspired by Casey of Drama Queen Nails - Rubik's cube nails!

I've been meaning to do them for a while, but seeing how good they looked on Casey's nails was what finally made me take the leap. I'm not entirely happy with the colours, but it took forever and by that point I stopped caring!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

La Mav Organic skincare review

La Mav is an Australian, certified organic, natural-based skincare range. They're also cruelty free and eco-friendly, and most importantly, use ingredients with proven results, which is a rarity in the "natural" market, and something I'm very excited about! Exhibit A: an ingredients list on their website, which specifically states the mechanism of action of each ingredient, in simple terms. Win!

I recently had the opportunity to meet the founder of the line, Tarj Mavi, a passionate mother and skincare obsessive ex-veterinarian. Her skincare journey began when she found that skin-lightening products were too harsh, and discovered that natural ingredients which had similar effects weren't available for purchase in a formulated product.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Rimmel Scandal'Eyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal Eyeliner swatches and review

If you follow me on Instagram (you do! Of course you do! *puppy dog eyes paired with sadface*) you may have seen evidence of my latest obsession - bright eyeliner. I've been using Rimmel's recently released Scandal'Eyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal Eyeliners both on top (normal for me) and under (unexplored territory) the eye to add a pop of colour to an otherwise boring look. And I have to admit, I'm addicted! It takes zero prep work, and looks so striking.

These new Scandal'Eyes eyeliners come in 15 different colours and claim to be resistant to heat, water and sweat for up to 10 hours. I was initially sceptical about the staying time, but surprisingly it actually delivers, even on my oily skin! And as a bonus, it glides on like butter, and even a novice like me can get very precise application.

Here are a couple of looks I tried - these photos were both taken about 6 hours after application, and pretty much look like they did when I first put them on, on warm (but not sweltering) summer days.

Under eye Purple - I was trying to go for "fierce" but as usual, I think I just ended up with "cute".

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Models Prefer Skin Cleanser review

I've been umming and ahhing about investing in a Clarisonic for a while - I've heard really good things about it, but I have the worst habit of buying electric appliances and using them feverishly for a week, then never using them again (hello, epilator!). So when I heard that Priceline had started stocking a similar product at an extremely low price point, I thought it would be a good way to test how it'd fit into my current regimen before deciding whether to invest in the real thing.

The Models Prefer Skin Cleanser retails at $15.99, and comes with 4 attachments - one regular brush, and a sensitive brush, and a foam moisturiser applicator and rubbery massage "fingers". It also comes with a storage stand. It's battery operated (2 x AA) and waterproof, although I'd advise against using it underwater.

I had an embarrassing moment trying to work out how to put the batteries in - it took me a few minutes of desperate tugging to work out that this is how it comes apart. If you end up buying it, save this photo! You can also see the black rubber ring which prevents water getting into the electronic innards.

I originally thought the brush would rotate, but it actually vibrates and causes the head to make small, rapid circles.It's kind of entertaining how it vibrates the skin, and my face felt funny after the first few times I used it, but you get used to it quickly. I've found it extremely easy to incorporate into my skincare regimen - I've simply used it to apply cleanser a few times a week instead of my hands, and I keep it just outside the shower.


Normal brush - This is the attachment I get the most use of, and I wish I'd been given two of these! On my skin it feels like a coarse-grained scrub, and the bristles are as hard as those on a soft toothbrush.

I've been using this with a variety of cleansers (e.g. Guinot Bioxygene Cleansing Foam, Nivea Cleansing Mousse, Lush Angels on Bare Skin, Kosmea Daily Facial Exfoliant, Jurlique Purifying Foaming Cleanser). The grainier scrubs aren't much good with this brush - the brush's scrubbing action is stronger than the scrub's, and more than sufficient to get a good clean, plus the grains get clogged up in the brush, making it hard to clean. The self-foaming cleansers tend to block my nose with soap suds. The best ones in my opinion have been the gel cleansers that don't foam too much. I've been able to thoroughly remove makeup with it, and my skin has broken out less after full makeup days since I started brushing.

Gentle brush - The same idea, but with softer bristles. I can barely feel this one - it's probably good for girls with sensitive skin, or perhaps if you're sunburnt but desperately want to scrub your skin. But for me it's meh.

Sponge applicator - This is basically a cosmetic sponge on a plastic holder, for jiggling moisturiser into your skin. I tried this once, and it left my face covered in greasy plastic smell, which refused to go away, so I've steered clear of this one.

"Massaging fingers" - This is supposedly for massaging your face when you're stressed - I was originally skeptical (I mean, the brush already vibrates, is it necessary to include something that feels like it's made from "body-safe" silicone and has three little fingers?!) but I tried it, and yeah, it's not bad. It's particularly nice on the jaw and temples if you tend to clench when you're tense. So I take it all back, weird fingers!

Biggest pro: Super cheap - a Clarisonic will set you back about $150.

Biggest con: Battery operated. Old school! Models Prefer does have a rechargeable model that's around $100, but for that price I would go for a Clarisonic.

Verdict: This brush cleanser is amazing value, and a great way to test out a cleansing brush. I've used it almost continuously for three weeks, and it feels like it's paid for itself. I can't properly compare it to a Clarisonic, and I'm not entirely sold on the whole "sonic action" thing, but this has really sold me on the cleansing brush concept.

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