Mecca Maxima haulin' and other random bits of madness

Can you say out of control?

Can you say out of control?

Well, I've gone and done it again.

Ahhh, retail therapy, that inhalation of stale air, the teetering back and forth under horrible fluorescent lighting while clamouring for the newest makeup-y things to hit the shelves. That was me this past Friday.

I recently changed employers, hence the infrequency in posting since late January. Needless to say it was a stressful and emotional time for me before, during, and after saying see ya later to the the company that gave me a shot after landing in Oz. To celebrate this transition I felt the need to treat myself.

Here's the rationale behind my latest spend..

Argument: If it's good enough for Vivianna and Lily, then it's good enough for me.

Being the enablers that they are, both ladies, in their own way, convinced me (it's the accent, I swear) to purchase Bobbi Brown's Powder Brush (holy crap, it's crazy expensive), Real Technique's Setting Brush, Bumble and Bumble's Sunday Shampoo, and UD's Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer in Light Warm. I hope these ladies work on commission, because they're doing something right!

Argument: Needed a fill me up.

True story: This Works Perfect Eyes Recovery Cream really works! It de-puffs, hydrates, and reawakens the under eye area. Definitely using this on the regular.

Argument: It was pretty!

Nars' Eye Paint in Porto Venere had me at first swatch. That said, if you own MAC's Painterly I don't think you need Porto Venere this very second.

UD's 24/7 Glide on Pencil in Sabbath for its matte-y, navy, and equally dreamy qualities. I can tell Ro(Cocoa) will be getting a bit of a break now that I have Sabbath in my life.

My shop wouldn't be complete without grabbing a lippie, cue UD's Sheer Revolution in Sheer Shame. Slightly intimidating in the tube, yet appears as a sheer beet-y, plummy hue that only sticks around for two or so hours -- points off for longevity.

Argument: Memories / nostalgia.

Essie's Ballet Slippers will forever hold a special place in my heart as it was the first shade to ever be professionally polished on my nails. I was nearing the end of a winter break from school, so my Mom treated me to a last-minute manicure before driving me back to Boston. Thanks Mom!

A good hair day paired with pretty much everything I mentioned above

A good hair day paired with pretty much everything I mentioned above

After this latest indulgence, let's just say I've handed my debit card over to Scott to help keep me honest.

Your turn. What did you last splash out on?

NARS Autumn 2012

Here's a quick look at my latest purchase, a few pieces from NARS' Autumn 2012 collection. Alex - thanks for letting me buy these today and make sure you take care of that hand!


First Impressions:

  • I adore the subtle golden flecks in Autumn Leaves
  • Outlaw is definitely a berry variant/take on Orgasm

Pictures, review and more swatches to follow.

So, what do you think?

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Makeup lesson with Cindy of Mecca Maxima - review

When it comes to makeup I am a lover, fan, avid buyer, but certainly not a master of creating a flawless look.  Typically, something goes astray because my hands have a tendency to be a bit shaky. With practice I think and hope that the uncertainty/shakiness will subside.  Until then, I need to gobble up as many tips out there; it's one thing to swatch, but I am striving to show and teach you a thing or two whenever you stop by Bagful of Notions. In addition to the rather brave and bold Burberry lip gloss I received for Christmas, I was also given a few other lovely gifts - one of those items happened to be a gift card to Mecca Cosmetica.  This card entitled me to one makeup lesson where the full value of the card was redeemable for makeup carried by Mecca.  A lot of cosmetic counters partake in this practice; a beauty professional will offer their time in exchange for buying a few of their wares.  Keep in mind this is sometimes free on weekdays and varies from company to company.  Alternatively, an appointment is expected to be made and a minimum purchase is usually set for the weekend due to the change in clientele; do your homework before jumping in.


During my shopping excursion last week, I visited Mecca with the hope someone was there to educate me.  Alas, their best artist, Cindy, was out that day, but was definitely available on New Year's Eve - perfect!  I made a mental list of what I wanted to accomplish during my lesson and reminded myself to not be afraid of asking questions.  Here's a list of what I think we attained during my lesson:

  • Foundation application on my sensitive skin; I just got diagnosed with rosacea, bummer :(
  • How to properly apply gel liner with a brush
  • Preventing eyeshadow creasing

Cindy listened to my questions and concerns and then wandered around the store in order to equip herself with the products she wanted to try on me.  I figured honesty was the best policy in regards to sharing what's been going on with my skin; direct sunlight and I don't mix well anymore.  What I thought was adult onset acne ailing me this past year, really turned out to be a mild form of rosacea. With the aid of antibiotics, knowing what my trigger(s) are (the sun), the use of mild skin care products and using 30 SPF religiously has helped to balance my skin out.

Cleansing my face was the first item on the menu; Cindy started with Mario Badescu's line and thankfully I didn't experience any stinging or breakouts afterward.  Here's a look at what she used for this part of the process:


Onward Cindy went and tackled my foundation concerns; this included finding the right brand to help protect my skin, as well as honing in on something light but buildable in terms of coverage and more important - colour matching.  We settled on Smashbox's Primer in green which helped to combat the red in my skin, Studio Skin Foundation and Halo Powder to set.  While I am not a huge fan of using primer, Cindy educated me about why it's a good idea to use primer in conjunction with foundation; it creates a great base for your foundation to sit on top of and minimizes foundation from moving around and finding fine lines, wrinkles and pores.  Consider it one of the first big steps in creating a blank and flawless canvas.

Cindy threw in Bobbi Brown's under eye corrector and By Terry concealer (similar to YSL's Touche Eclat sans the highlighting properties) to cancel out the blue around my eyes.  Usually I hide this problem area with Bobbi Brown's creamy concealer kit, but I must admit it was nice trying something new. Although, I am not ready to give up my kit just yet.

A tip I learned about Bobbi Brown's corrector is I can apply and go without setting it with liquid foundation or powder; this product really does help to neutralise my under eye circles.  A definite low maintenence win in the morning! Also, for foundation newbies: start applying from the center of your face and work your way out; Cindy said this is a main focal point and is often the place where the most coverage is needed.


Once makeup trickery was completed on my face, we then moved onto my eyes.  While I do love a good smoky eye, the traditional colours used leave me looking like a raccoon.  It's not pretty.  Browns and golds are more my speed and also help to accentuate my hazel eyes.  First, Cindy started with Stila's smudge pot in 'kitten', this was applied from my lashes to my brow bone.  Then she went back in with Stila's smudge stick in 'lionfish' and applied it along my lash line; Cindy then smudged the fine line with the smaller end of this brush.  The smudging and blending of the golden brown liner created the smokiness I was looking for.  Be sure to do this straightaway in order to avoid having this product set and dry unless you're looking to line your eyes.  The last colours she added were Stila's eye shadows in 'wheat' (applied all over my lid) and 'barefoot contessa' (blended over 'wheat' starting from the middle and through to the outer corner of my eye).

The final thing I wanted to learn was lining my eyes with gel liner like a pro.  Cindy believes once you finish applying the various shadows, it is best to go back in with your liner; I likened this practice to wrapping a package with a pretty bow.  But, as you might recall, I am not terribly handy, no pun intended, or steady.  My fears were calmed by Cindy when she introduced me to this little guy.  After a quick tutorial, which involved Cindy using her hand like a sketch pad.  This part of the lesson allowed her to show me how to properly hold the brush and how to dash the bristles along the lashes a la morse code.  With a flick of the corner of the brush with a small amount of Stila's smudge pot in 'black', Cindy then illustrated how to accomplish the cat eye effect.  Colour me smitten!  Being the great teacher Cindy is, she asked me if I'd like to have a try at lining one of my eyes, but I wasn't in the mood to ruin her artistry.

Another great tip I learned is if your gel liner pot looks like it's drying out on the surface, don't throw it out.  Use the end of a brush to stir up your product; the gel will most likely be fresh underneath!

Since it was New Year's Eve, Cindy added a few lashes to the outer corners of my eyes to amp up the drama.  A bit of blush, NARS Luster layered over Gilda, was applied to my cheeks and for my lips we went with NARS Niagara and Greek Holiday.  I believe Cindy's a big fan of lippie.  When she was swatching the assorted tubes of lipsticks and glosses, I should've taken a picture as she brought over six or seven colours for my consideration.  Cindy also pointed me to creamier formulas - however, I'm not sure when I'll be ready to try;)  Twist my arm!


A few other items used which helped to complete this look:


Getting to know Cindy:

When Cindy isn't painting pretty faces at Mecca Maxima (twice weekly), you can find her teaching at a local beauty school in Melbourne. Cindy is armed with close to ten years experience in the beauty industry - she knows her stuff!  Aside from being a makeup guru, she is also extremely knowledgable about proper skin care and health.

Cindy's calm demeanour and sweet personality made for an extremely enjoyable experience - I will be sure to harass her whenever she's working.  If you ever want to meet with Cindy for a lesson, I would strongly recommend making an appointment with her in advance due to her limited schedule.

Cindy's been praised by her co-workers as being the best and she is!


The Bagful breakdown:

Total amount for one 90 minute lesson (a gift from Santa Scott):

  • $150.00 AUS - here's a look at what else is available in store

Value for money spent (performance and quality):

  • 10 out of 10 bags; I walked away with lots of helpful tips, a face chart to reference and a mini haul

Likelihood to purchase again from Mecca Maxima:

  • Cindy is by far and away my favourite, but I will gladly buy from any of her fellow workers when she's not there

My New Year's Eve outfit

Last year Scott and I started a tradition of visiting The Waiting Room inside of Crown Casino's main lobby area.  People watching was on the menu for the evening; that's our thing when we go out to get tipsy and there's no shortage of interesting people roaming about on New Year's eve.  Lobbies are transient - most people sought refuge from the hot summer day; at it's hottest Melbourne's temperature hit 34 degrees celsius (93 F) and that was around 5:30 in the evening. Because last New Year's eve was even hotter, I knew I needed to dress accordingly.  Sale shopping convened at the local Gap this past Friday and fortunately I walked away with an outfit for $68 AUS. I don't want to even begin to rant about all of the other things I saw on sale, which included items I had purchased the day the Gap had officially opened.

Question for the Gap: when will you start honoring price adjustments here in Australia?

And without further ado, here's the outfit I wore last night.


I paired this steal with espadrilles (mine are cream coloured) my mom had given me for my birthday - funnily enough, they came from the US Gap.  A belt from SABA in tan finished the look.  I know this look might appear to be on the casual side, but I am still getting acclimated to hot weather in December.

Yesterday I went for a makeup lesson with Mecca Maxima - Cindy worked her magic while I tried to take tons of mental notes about all of her tips and tricks.  Here's a sneak peek…


Stay tuned for my full review!