Bitten by the bug

For the past few years I have been an avid reader of several beauty websites; mainly makeupandbeautyblog.com.  I enjoyed Karen's writing style, honest reviews and ability to convey her witty personality.  Often, I would spy adverts and invitations to guest blog, but would never really think twice.  That was until I moved almost all the way around the world from the US to Australia! Comparisons have been made, shopping has been had and my wallet's been hit hard.  This life changing event is what inspired me to share my personal experiences with Karen's readers; I thought, maybe, everyone could compare notes and perhaps empathize with me.

I apologize for posting this story twice (once here and on Karen's site), however, the feedback was incredible and made me feel like I should start my own blog.

Late last year my husband and I became American expats living abroad when we made the move to Australia from the U.S. for his new job. I knew about our big journey months in advance, so I did the best I could to prepare and studied anything and everything I could about the land down unda’ before we arrived; however, I made two fatal mistakes.

First, I never fully realized just how expensive things would be down here, and second, I was unprepared for how long I’d have to wait for makeup collections to make their big debuts here after being released in the States.

As a woman of substance, I have my needs. Among them: facial moisturizer, hair products (loads of ‘em), perfume, nail polish, and anything pertaining to MAC, Benefit, Clinique and Philosophy. Not long after moving, I was already hitting the bottom of my assorted elixirs and potions, wondering what I was going to do.

I realized that I could either A.) Skype my mom and ask her to send a care package my way, or B.) venture out into the city of Melbourne to find more permanent beauty solutions. Gone were the days of Cheese-Itz and Dunks’, so I figured it was also time to broaden my horizons and revamp my beauty artillery.

The first thing to go was my coveted container of Origins GinZing Eye Cream; I needed to find something just as good at combating my puffy under-eye circles. In the States, the cream sells for $29.50 USD, but here it sells for a whopping $64.00 AUS! With the US dollar on par with the Australian dollar, I just couldn’t justify paying more than double for the same thing.

I searched high and low for hours in Mecca Cosmetica (heaven), The Body Shop, L’Occitane and several other local pharmacies and department stores. During my quest, I kept happening upon a brand by the name of Jurlique, which I’d seen before in Sephora but never really gave much thought.

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It’s a homegrown brand here in Australia, and the company prides itself on using organic ingredients. The price for a tube of Jurlique’s Herbal Recovery Eye Cream ($52.00 AUS/$40.00 US) wasn’t as bad as GinZing’s, and I also figured I should start using things I’d be able to find anywhere in Oz.

Arnica, the active ingredient used in Jurlique’s Herbal Recovery Eye Cream, claimed to fight my tired, puffy eyes, and I was up for the battle. I have to say, I’ve been happy with the results.

I’ve been using the cream since last November and like it just as much as GinZing. Both products contain the same amount of cream — 15ml — but the one from Jurlique has a much longer shelf life. We’re talking 24 months versus 6. You be the judge.

I, like Karen, have wavy hair that can go as mad as Medusa in mere seconds when exposed to humidity. I don’t even attempt to blow dry it when the forecast calls for more than 55% humidity; it’s just not worth the time or the arm strength.

My former hairdresser, Laura, knew the texture and wicked ways of my hair, so she introduced me to Moroccan Oil back in 2008. Not only did I fall in love with the scent, but I also fell in love with the fact that it kept my frizz in check on those really humid days. Alas, I ran out of the travel-size bottle I brought with me here and didn’t bring any spares, but equipped with the lessons learned from my previous adventure, I went out to my local hair supplier and plunked down $34.95 AUS for a 100ml bottle of One n’ Only’s Argan Oil.

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It has a similar consistency, color and scent as Moroccan Oil and comes in a travel-friendly plastic bottle, instead of a glass one. It was another win-win — the price was right, and I’ve been very happy with the resulting smooth, shiny hair.

The next thing to go, unexpectedly, was my trusty eyelash/eyebrow comb from Sephora. I purchased it ages ago, but it eventually crumbled somewhere between Boston, Vegas, Miami, Amsterdam, Singapore and Melbourne. With as much as we’d been traveling lately, I’m truly surprised I didn’t have even more casualties inside my makeup bag.

This time I decided to head over to Myer (a local department store), a mere walk away, and perused their assorted high-to-low-end options. Restless and weary, I wandered past Benefit’s Brow Bar and was stopped in my tracks when I spotted this little beauty.

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Tweezerman teamed up with Benefit to create this retractable eyebrow tool — the mascara-type wand keeps my brows in line, and it’s handy for separating my lashes before curling. It sells for $12.00 in stores and online in the US, but it costs twice the price here. I was willing to splurge, though, because I take my brow grooming seriously, thanks to my old friend Diana and her insistence on keeping the caterpillars at bay.

Not long after that, wouldn’t you know it, the pump in my Aveeno bottle stopped extracting its precious cargo. I removed the cap to tap out as much as I could, a ritual that went on for a few more weeks, but eventually the bottle was well and truly empty. I sort of felt like that crazy lady in Love Potion No. 9, trying to coerce every last drop from the bottle (you know you’ve seen it; don’t lie). 

The stress of moving had done a number on my skin; I’m talking breakouts aplenty. What I really wanted to find was something I could afford here that would moisturize my now unpredictable combination skin and protect it from UV rays, while keeping the shine from seeping through.

My Aveeno moisturizer wasn’t quite hacking it anymore, so I returned to the heavenly Mecca Maxima (Mecca Cosmetica’s big sister) in search of something new. The store carries Clinique, Mario Badescu, Clarins, DDF, Philosphy and many others, but what really caught my attention was Dermalogica’s new baby, Clean Start.

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It’s a facial care range targeted at teens and young twenties, but I figured, what’s age got to do with it? Maybe it’ll work for my 27-year-old mug. The 60ml bottle cost me $45 AUS ($24 back in the 50).

I incorporated Welcome Matte (with SPF 15) into my morning regime, but, unfortunately, it didn’t work any miracles on me. The back of the bottle advises you to “Say goodbye to shine without drying skin with this extraordinary, lightweight lotion that won’t clog pores.”

Meh, I wouldn’t call it extraordinary. Sure, it moisturizes with SPF, but that’s about it. I guess I’ll have to find something perhaps a little more age appropriate.

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Melbourne, Australia

No matter where you find yourself in this world, make sure you’re ready for what awaits you before you arrive. Melbourne has been lovely thus far, but the American in me keeps screaming, “you know you can get that a lot cheaper at Macy’s, Target or Nordstom’s!” Case in point, that KitchenAid Mixer? Let’s just say I’ll be lusting after it a little while longer.

Please visit Karen's site and read the original post here.