Need to declutter your makeup bag? Introducing trèStiQue!

Is your makeup collection taking over your life? Our friends over at Hello Giggles have discovered a rad new makeup line that’s as clever as it is cute, and designed to help you streamline!

Introducing trèStiQue- a collection of pencils and crayons that are compact and portable, thus providing a solution to a serious hoarding situation! Makeup junkies rejoice, your on-the-go makeup loot can now be kept in check with all your necessities at your fingertips.

The alternative beauty line was created by Jennifer Kapahi and features makeup essentials for lips, face and eyes in a portable, easy to use format.

trèStiQue’s mission is to simplify without compromising your usual beauty routine.  Instead of carrying around a full set of products PLUS the tools needed for application, the tools are built in with the makeup.

For example, their blush stick has a brush attached to the opposite end, so instead of carrying a blush palette and a separate brush, trestique’s blusher has the makeup and its applicator together in one handy stick!  It’s like a really genius, cute, oversized crayon.

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Clean freaks, this is where it gets super genius: the products also feature magnetic caps (yes!)  The first of their kind in the market, the magnetic seal means you can fret no longer over spills and rogue lip liner caps; these suckers ain’t moving. I can’t begin to tell you how many mishaps I’ve had due to missing lids going hell-knows-where and leaving their pigment all over everything else, makeup bag included. Its the little things, y’know.

An added bonus of the range? Most of the products are refillable, which we like a lot. When you need a new brush or you run out of lip balm, you can easily get a refill and not have to replace the entire product. #winning.

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Cheek stick bronzer product tool brazilian bronze

This new, simple approach to makeup will help any serious makeup junkie become a de-cluttering expert in no time.

You can view the full collection here.

xDS

KNOW YOUR PRODUCT: Shanghai Suzy Lipsticks

I recently had the pleasure of receiving a beautiful array of Shanghai Suzy lipsticks to try out by the lovely Jo Wheaton, founder of this exciting, local brand of bright, colourful, electrifying lipsticks!

Hailing from my home of Melbourne, Jo is a former cosmetics marketing exec and model with a true passion for everything lipstick! Tired of paying top dollar for fashion lipsticks that she would only wear a few times, Jo identified a gap in the market for affordable, on‐trend lipsticks that delivered in terms of pigment, formula, colour and packaging.

Thus Shanghai Suzy – a bold, vibrant range of fashion-inspired lipsticks – was born. At only $12.95 each the lipsticks fit perfectly into the ‘cheap and chic’ category while delivering big results and huge colour pay off!

I was delighted to receive Shanghai Suzy’s new season range- 8 amazing creamy, densely pigmented bright and wearable colours.

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The first thing that caught my eye was their bright pigment, reminiscent of the MAC matte formulas. Bold, vibrant hues such as flamingo pink, guava, and purple shone out like beacons from their sleek packaging, making their cues from fashion obvious. These colours screamed summer and would look just luscious on skin with a hint of summer glow!

Below are the colours I received with swatches of each:

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(From L-R ): MISS LEAH (Baby Cocoa), MISS NICOLE (Burgundy Brown), MISS OLIVIA (Apricot), MISS BREE (Pink Blush), MISS COURTNEY (Electric Flamingo), MISS ALLY (Amethyst), MISS MIA (Foxy Hibiscus), and MISS CHRISTINA (Neon Guava).

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(From L-R ): MISS LEAH (Baby Cocoa), MISS NICOLE (Burgundy Brown), MISS OLIVIA (Apricot), MISS BREE (Pink Blush), MISS COURTNEY (Electric Flamingo), MISS ALLY (Amethyst), MISS MIA (Foxy Hibiscus), and MISS CHRISTINA (Neon Guava).

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Each colour in the Shanghai Suzy range is limited edition and a new on‐trend range is delivered every season.

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There are 2 formulas in the Shanghai Suzy lipstick range: the ‘Matte’ formula is bold, thick, creamy and long‐lasting, and the ‘Nourish’ formula contains jojoba seed oil to care for and moisturize lips whilst delivering a beautiful colour with a slight sheen.

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Each of the matte formulas I tested lasted well into the evening and wore well through various challenges to lipstick longevity, such as consuming food and drinking. Prepping the lips properly before use, priming and using a matching lip liner would increase the wear even further of these babies, and I will definitely be recommending them for clients who need staying power without the horrible drying and flaking that usually accompanies long-wear formulations.

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(From L-R ): MISS LEAH (Baby Cocoa), MISS NICOLE (Burgundy Brown), MISS OLIVIA (Apricot), MISS BREE (Pink Blush), MISS COURTNEY (Electric Flamingo), MISS ALLY (Amethyst), MISS MIA (Foxy Hibiscus), and MISS CHRISTINA (Neon Guava).

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Another huge plus for me is that Shanghai Suzy lipsticks are not tested on animals and contain no animal ingredients. So you can be rest assured there is no karmic debt when giving these lipsticks a go. Added to the lovely, childhood-reminiscent fragrance of grape bubblegum (yum!) and the ultra smooth, creamy formula (so easy to apply).

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(From L-R ): MISS LEAH (Baby Cocoa), MISS NICOLE (Burgundy Brown), MISS OLIVIA (Apricot), MISS BREE (Pink Blush), MISS COURTNEY (Electric Flamingo), MISS ALLY (Amethyst), MISS MIA (Foxy Hibiscus), and MISS CHRISTINA (Neon Guava).

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My verdict: I absolutely adore these lipsticks! The quality is real nice, and at such an affordable price, it would be easy to stock up on multiple colours to add to your lipstick wardrobe without breaking the bank. There is no compromise on quality either;  I am happy to report that each one I tried did not leave me with that dreaded feeling of ‘cheap lippie blues’.

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Shanghai Suzy is a winner all round. And at the low price of $12.95 I feel like I’ve stumbled across the world’s best-kept beauty secret! These are seriously great lippies.

I look forward to using these in my everyday beauty looks as well as for colour work! The colours are so wearable and absolutely POP when worn.  They’ll definitely have a place in my kit and I look forward to seeing future ranges from Shanghai Suzy!

You can check out the crazy good Shanghai Suzy range over here! You won’t be disappointed.

xDS

KNOW YOUR PRODUCT: How to spot a fake

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Buyer beware! Fake makeup (‘fakeup’) is big business and has been for some time. There are counterfeits of everything from MAC, Benefit and Bobbi Brown everywhere you turn, and it shows no signs of slowing.  Whilst many buyers will cite high cosmetic prices as a good justification for buying the cheaper knock offs, with counterfeit products any savings will ultimately be at a price. This is the flipside to the shadowy world of counterfeit cosmetics.

For starters, the regulations in place around quality or labelling of ingredients just aren’t there.  Counterfeiters churning out the cheap versions do not abide by any enforced rules or regulations, so many potentially substances may be used to drive down the cost.  Whilst cheaper imitations may look legitimate, most of these products will be filled with toxic, low-grade fillers, talcs, heavy metals and many other shady ingredients that at best irritate the skin; at worst they have the potential to cause damage to both the body and the brain. They may contain carcinogenic ingredients that are banned from use in cosmetics and could cause long-term harm.

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There have been numerous reports internationally of people having severe reactions after using fake products; from facial swelling, skin irritations, swollen and irritated eyes, rashes and psoriasis. Dermatologists are reporting an increase in the number of women with skin conditions triggered by the use of counterfeit make-up.

In a real vs fake study conducted by Staffordshire Scientific Services, eight  out of ten ‘designer’ makeup items purchased online within a two week period were found to be counterfeit when packaging and product were compared with the genuine article. Of those that were faux, further testing found they contained a cocktail of potentially harmful ingredients ranging from lead, copper and mercury to arsenic and cadmium, a metal which is highly dangerous.

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A counterfeit MAC eyeliner sold on Amazon was tested at 46 times the permitted level of copper –  deeming it unfit for use on eyes.  Paint stripper and nail varnish remover has been found in fake mascara and liquid eyeliners. And a batch of counterfeit perfume seized by the police in the UK contained urine as a substitute to stabilisers used in the genuine product. WTF?

Also concerning is that counterfeit cosmetics may not have been made in a sterile environment, whereas the manufacture of genuine cosmetics is strictly controlled and products are rigorously tested before they go on sale. 

Secondly, if you give a damn about sustainability, ethical production of products, animal testing, child labour, etc, how can you be assured of what has gone into the production of that fake product when you don’t even know who made it? With counterfeit products, your powers to choose what and who you support when you buy are effectively removed. You are putting your faith into the anonymous supplier and effectively playing russian roulette with your health and the safety of those involved in their production.

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Here’s some tips to avoid fake products, and how to spot them if you suspect you’ve already purchased one!

  • If you are going to buy a specific brand, buy it from their website or physical store, a large cosmetic department store (eg Sephora), or a certified reseller or distributor.  Beauticians, makeup artists and the like are also generally a good source; they will buy direct from the manufacturer to resell and should only ever stock genuine product (as their reputation depends on them being able to back the products they sell and use). You can also find where your fave products are stocked by going to the website of the brand and finding their list of stockists.
  • Generally speaking, steer clear of Ebay, where its pretty difficult to spot the difference between the real thing and the fake! Unless you know your products and their labelling back to front and have done your research, it can be extremely hard to determine the difference. Remember, there’s an astoundingly HUGE market in selling knock-offs, so they are abundant online. There are some sellers that disclose this; there are others who, worse, sell their products as genuine and sometimes even use genuine stock pics and swatches. It’s only when you receive the product that you find you’ve been sold something far inferior.

If you think you have a fake in your possession, have a really close look at its packaging and test it out.

  • The product itself may feel sticky and unpleasant on the skin. You may also notice the shade will be slightly different, or the pigment not as strong or bold than ones you have tried or bought before. It won’t smell the same either; this is usually one of the first things that trigger an alarm bell for me. Cheap products smell like chemicals!
  • Generally, fakes will have different shaped/ sized/ smaller lids, the packaging will feel different or cheaper, paper materials will be thinner, and finishes such as raised writing will be generally be printed on with a cheaper ink that can be scraped off easily.
  • There are many sites that outline the difference in packaging, labelling and graphics used on fake products vs the real ones; they are quite subtle but if you have a good eye it is possible to spot the differences with some careful scrutiny. Look carefully at the fonts used on the product packaging. They are often slightly different in size from fonts used on the genuine article.
  • Fake products will tend to be missing batch numbers and shade names etc. Scan the packaging and the product for a batch number — it should be printed on the base or there will be an imprint on the box.
  • Also, its worth knowing what format / style your fave brands make their palettes in. There are tonnes of fake MAC 36- and 64- and whatever eyeshadow palettes – MAC don’t make these. At all.
  • There are also many fake brushes online it ain’t funny! They’re often dyed and dipped in cheap chemicals that smell like crap and will shed their hairs everywhere!

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Golden rule: if something seems really cheap compared to what it should retail at, there’s probably a reason.

So keep your eyes out when shopping! The new generation of beauty fakes are very convincing. They’re widely available on reputable online sites including eBay and Amazon, with sellers buying in stock from Chinese wholesalers or shady middlemen in the UK. While the bigger websites are taking action to clamp down on counterfeiters, there are still thousands of products out there.  Unless tougher action is taken, unsuspecting customers on the hunt for a beauty bargain will be the ones who pay the price.

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Safe shopping Ultra babes!

xDS

KNOW YOUR PRODUCT: a Q + A session with Hayley and Katia of Birchbox

For anyone starting out their own business for the first time, it can be a scary, crazy ride. From concept through to business planning, marketing, finance, budgeting, down to knowing regulatory frameworks, your tax obligations and how to correctly report your earnings, it can be a minefield. But it’s also a journey full of positive rewards, and one where the many hours of hard work can result in great benefits as you see your passions and dreams come to life.

For many people, myself included, the dream of being your own boss one day is one that gives a great sense of joy.  There is much to learn, many lessons to be had, and many failures ahead, as you stumble down the path of discovery whilst launching and growing ‘your baby’. It’s all part of the wonderful adventure, and its this journey that leads to a great spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship as struggles and challenges are overcome and you find bigger and better ways of doing business.

Thankfully in this day and age we have so many wonderful, savvy female entrepreneurs who are lighting the way on how to start and run a successful, smart business online. There’s a plethora of knowledge on the net and many people, such as the founders of Birchbox, are only too happy to share with you some of the tips to their success and some strategies you can implement when starting up your own projects. Yay for us to have such wonderful inspiring role models to show us how its done!

Birchbox is the brainchild of Katia and Hayley, and is an online beauty and lifestyle store that helps you find products that you’ll love.  It offers consumers a unique and personalized way to discover, learn about, and shop the best beauty, grooming, and lifestyle products on the market. Headquartered in New York City, Birchbox launched in September 2010 and has since extended into men’s grooming products with Birchbox man.  Through their monthly subscription service, customers receive a gift box in the post full of the latest and most gorgeous hair, makeup and beauty samples to try and fall in love with. They also have a personalized shop with a generous loyalty program that rewards you every time you shop, refer friends, and give feedback on your monthly samples. You can redeem Birchbox Points and save on any full-size or gift purchase. With an online magazine full of insightful content to help you get the most out of your products, Birchbox has taken the discovery commerce space by storm and is going from strength to strength.

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The below is a Q & A with Katia and Hayley, originally published at goop.com.

Q: You met at Harvard Business School. At what point did you decide to start a business together? Did you have other ideas in mind before coming up with Birchbox?

A:We came up with the idea for Birchbox during our last semester of business school. We had a few months until graduation and decided it was the perfect opportunity to write a business plan and put all our learning to good use. We came up with several ideas, many of which were jokes (meggings anyone? That’s leggings for men…why should women have all the fun?), but the concept of beauty and lifestyle discovery stuck and we committed to making it happen.

We recognized that there were no new concepts when it came to beauty ecommerce and that beauty online had unique pain points since touching, trying, smelling and experiencing products are essential to product discovery. Then came the real life inspiration – Hayley had a close friend who was a beauty editor and for years had gifted her the newest and best products along with advice on how to use them. We realized that all women would love to have a best friend who could cut through the clutter and deliver them great products along with the info on why and how to use them.

Q:What’s the name about?

A:Birchbox was one of the first names we came up with… We wanted to bring in beautiful, but gender-neutral imagery. Birch trees are gorgeous in every season with their silvery bark. It’s easy to spell and the alliteration is fun.

Q:Tell us a little bit about what Birchbox was like at the beginning and what it is now.

A:At the very beginning it was just the two of us waking up every morning with new ideas, fleshing out the value proposition, writing pitch decks and building prototypes. Looking back, we’re still so amazed that we were able to secure meetings with the leadership at some of our favorite global beauty brands based on a single email and enthusiastic one pager. Once we had secured brand partners, it was off to the races… Katia and I packing boxes in my on-campus apartment, answering every email from customers and working to update the basic version our original website.

Our first hire, our beauty editor friend Mollie, was a content machine, writing everything herself from product pages to articles and tweeting up a storm. We had a lot of late nights, but it was such an amazing time, we were probably too excited to sleep. Back then we wore every hat, and over time we’ve recruited a fantastic team over 100 talented people to wear some of those hats for us. Our roles couldn’t be more different now on a day-to-day basis, but we still have the same drive and excitement.

Katia putting the 1st prototype together

Q:For readers who want to start their own business, what are your top tips?

A:First the soft stuff: Trust yourself. If you are passionate about your idea you can do more than you ever imagined. There is no secret to success; you simply start with a vision and then it is about problem solving, breaking everything down into smaller pieces, getting it done, and remaining tenacious even when the uphill pursuit becomes steeper. Nothing is more rewarding!

Now for tactical: It might seem daunting to get started, but it doesn’t need to be perfect from the start. Test your idea in its minimum viable form. Our first site was super basic, we packed every box ourselves and walked them all to the post office. We were able to let it evolve over time instead of solving everything on day one.

xDS

KNOW YOUR PRODUCT: Zao – new organic brand to hit the UK

Louise Dartford - Make-up Artist

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Zao is a French Ecocert certified organic make-up line, that is now available in the UK.  When I first saw Zao’s website I was really pleased to see pressed matt eyeshadows and liquid foundations.  These are both things that I think lots of natural and organic brands lack, there seems to be a lot of loose shimmery eyeshadows along with loose mineral powder foundations.  While both have their place, I was keen to try the pressed shadows and the liquid foundations as I like to work with these more.

I have been using the mascara from Zao, which I have already mentioned in a previous post.  I really like it, although it does need a little powder on the lashes before application to help make it last.  I was also sent one of the shadows and a lipstick to try.  The texture of both of these feels great, I’ve had a…

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