My Favourite High End and Budget Highlighter For Summer 2017

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We all have those products in our collection; which prove to be utterly useless to us on a daily basis, but to lose them would be harder than losing blood. For me, those products are highlighters. I know what you’re going to say – we live in a highlighter obsessed society! Admittedly that’s true and even more shameful to admit, I have far too many to account for. However the sad truth is, I only get to play with them when I’m getting seriously glam…or when I’m watching Love Island on a Friday night, in my pyjamas, at home alone with no other makeup on…don’t pretend that you’re any different.

With a simple swipe of a fan brush, the right highlighter can exaggerate your cheekbones, add a healthy ethereal glow and turn any modest look into a work of art. So it’s fair to say that I’ve wisely invested a lot of money into highlighters over the years.

I found it really hard to put this post together simply because I couldn’t make my mind up and if I had children I think would find it easier to pick a favourite amongst them. Nevertheless, in the spirit of summer (and this blog) I have picked one high end and one high street highlighter; which have seen me through some good times this summer and you know I just had to share them with you…

HIGH END – ICONIC London Illuminator in Original £29.99

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If you haven’t heard of ICONIC before you’ve been living under a rock and I forbid you to continue on with this blog until you learn some behaviour.

ICONIC London took the world by storm with their out of the world liquid illuminators hitting every possible influencer page on Instagram. The brain-child of my favourite Essex beauty spot Harmony Health & Beauty, Iconic have taken the makeup world by storm and it’s not hard to see why.

This illuminator is like nothing else I’ve seen before. To say that you get a glow with this product would be an understatement. This illuminator will give you life, pay your mortgage, cook you dinner and give you a fully committed relationship all in one tiny glass bottle. Three tiny droplets on the tip of your cheekbones is all you need to add a really intense glow; which can be applied before or after your complete your base makeup. My favourite way to use this is by adding a few drops to my primer to give an all-over glow to my skin before I go in with foundation. I also use a few tiny drops on my décolletage and front of my calves for an all over body glow.

Available in three colours – Shine (pearlised pink), Original (champagne gold) and Glow (deep bronze). I opted for the original shade as it seemed the most universal for any makeup look. However I love the fact that ICONIC offer a selection of shades dependant on skin tone rather than one generic colour.

The bottle, on first inspection, is just as glamorous as the product itself and the dropper offers stress free application without the need for messy fingers. The glass bottle isn’t very convenient to travel with and the screw top lid does often come undone in my makeup bag; which is a little annoying but it’s certainly not a deal breaker for me.

Much like the CoverFX Customer Enchancer Drops (which is near enough the same concept), the bottle is almost impossible to finish even if you used it on a daily basis; which (in my eyes) justifies the £30 price tag. However, if you do decide to invest in this product, do yourself a favour and purchase it directly from ICONIC’s website. Despite being stocked by many online retailers, it’s always out of stock and hard to get a hold of but the original website has plenty to offer in each colour and more often than not there’s a discount on hand to get a little money off.

BUDGET FRIENDLY – MUA Luxe Glow Beam Highlight Cushion Gold  £5.00

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There I was, in Superdrug, minding my own business whilst trolling the aisles for my regular stock up of tampons and multivitamins when I stumbled across (walked directly to) the makeup aisle. I wasn’t looking for anything particular – hell I didn’t even need any makeup but that’s never stopped me in the past and before I knew it I had makeup swatches in places no person should put them (in public).

I had never been a fan of MUA‘s range before and never really gave them a second look until I heard of their utterly fabulous Glow Beam Highlighting Powder; which supposedly gives you a golden glow like no other. For £5.00, you can’t go wrong so I thought I would give it a shot until I saw the Liquid Cushion version and it all went downhill from there.

Since that fateful day, I have purchased 6 of these. Yes that’s right…6. Not sure why I need that many to be honest, but these never seem to be in stock other than on Superdrug’s website so it was a simple case of panic – purchase – worry about it later.

I won’t go as far to say that this gives me a glow like the ICONIC Liquid Illuminator, in fact, it’s not even close. What it does offer is a subtle glow for those occasions when you want to look glowy but not too drag (I don’t have many of those days).

The cushion aspect is very interesting as I’ve never seen it done with anything other than foundation, but in all honesty it’s actually pretty nice and it certainly helps to achieve a natural/blended look to your highlight. It sits pretty nicely on top of powder; which we all know is a big no-no in the makeup community, but I’ve not had a problem with it breaking up my powder makeup underneath.

What I LOVE about this product is that for a mere fiver you get a travel-friendly highlighter; which not only looks pretty on the outside, it offers a mess-free application with a finish which isn’t too opaque – perfect for day looks or less glamorous makeup (if there is such a thing).

The sponge applicator that comes with it is pretty shit so if you want your pot to stay pristine and white I would get rid of it as soon as. I tend to go in directly with my Beauty Blender and apply it directly to my chosen area to get the biggest effect and ensure that it blends perfectly into my skin.

 

What are your favourite highlighters of Summer 2017? Comment below with some suggestions of what I can try out next!

The Definitive Guide To Makeup Expiration

makeup expiration

Who knew that those tiny little jars on the back of makeup products are actually called PAO (Period After Opening). Well I didn’t but I do know that, like many women, I take no notice of makeup shelf-life dates.

As shameful as it is to admit, I find it hard to let go of my makeup. Rather than a hoarder, I like to refer to myself as a devotee. I’m ride or die for my makeup; which makes it extremely hard to purge when things edge on the side of funky.

There are a few cardinal rules when handling makeup to ensure that shelf life is at its maximum potential. These include:

  • Washing your hands before direct contact with the product
  • Refrain from sharing makeup with others
  • Keeping products in a dry area, away from direct sunlight
  • Ensure lids are placed on firmly, particularly in makeup bags where bacteria can breed.

Keeping my makeup clean has never really been much of a problem for me as I’m quite meticulous about…well…everything. What I do find difficult is determining when it’s time to let go. There are, of course, a few tale tell signs of when a product is on its way out, for example:

  • Change of smell
  • Obvious exposure to heat
  • Colour/textural change
  • Evident mould

While generic guidelines advise an approximation of shelf life, I find some of them unrealistic for people who don’t have an unlimited budget for makeup. Cosmetic experts suggest 3 months for mascara, 6 months for liquid foundations, 1 year for lipsticks and so on. Whilst using ‘healthy’ products on your face is important, I couldn’t imagine throwing away a tube of mascara after 3 months before I’ve scraped out every last fibre.

Why can’t cosmetic companies make it easier on our poor, makeup-loving souls?! Personally speaking, I would appreciate a simple expiration date or even a date of manufacture. That way, we would have a clear indication of when our favourite lippie needs a ceremonial goodbye rather than having to scramble our brain on which date you cracked open the packaging.

I recently discovered a fantastic site called Cosmetics Calculator; which has answered all of my expiration-date questions. The site supports a long list of brands; which are all detailed at the bottom of their landing page. Entering, into the calculator, the brand and batch code; which are easily located on the packaging of most makeup products, allows for the calculator to determine when the product was made. The user-friendly website scours its database to find the exact manufacturing date so you can make an informed decision on its usability. Pretty cool right? In fact, this baby has been a God-send during my big fat makeup spring cleaning session…also known as ‘the day angels fell from the sky’. I’ve also discovered The Cosmetics Wizard; which edges on the exact same idea, but focuses more on skincare brands (particularly in the UK). Now if you’re really OCD, like me, you could look up the dates upon purchase of your beauty product and add a nifty little label of your own on the packaging with an exact expiration date. That wouldn’t make you pathetic…I promise!

What are you waiting for? Get ready to purge girls! After all, you can’t buy more makeup without a little more room in your  storage!

The Dos And Don’ts Of Baking

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Whether you love or loathe her, Kim Kardashian West has paved the way to many of the great makeup techniques that we know and love today. One very famous example of this was her social media revelation of how she keeps her makeup in place without a smudging in place.

‘Baking’ is a technique used to apply excessive powder to areas which are prone to creasing/fading throughout the day. Originated from the entertainment industry, drag queens would use this technique to keep their makeup in place under extreme lighting.

I must admit, ‘baking’ isn’t necessarily a technique I use on a daily basis, but on occassion I do dabble in some light ‘baking’ to makeup sure my makeup stays in place when my behaviour isn’t!

One thing that I do find off-putting about ‘baking’ is that it tends to further dry-out my already parched eye area and can often leave the rest of my face looking swallow and dull. However, I have found a few small tricks to eliminate the ‘cake-face’ look that I normally get when I bake.

Hydrate under the eyes – This would appear like an obvious statement to some, but many women opt out of using eye cream during the day. I personally cannot live without it, but I’m particularly pre-cautious when doing a full on glam look. Hydrating around your eye socket before applying your concealer and powder will ensure that the makeup doesn’t ‘cling-on’ to dry skin.

Setting powders are also designed to soak up excessive moisture. Therefore, the skin around your eyes tends to feel dry and tight. Applying a gel-based eye primer, like the Clarins Eye Contour Gel, will ensure that your peepers stay fresh and moisturised without feeling too heavy with product.

Use a damp sponge – I used to apply my setting powder with a brush, until I discovered the technique of using a damp cosmetic sponge – I’ve never looked back. Applying your setting powder with a damp sponge will ensure a higher concentration of coverage along with a more precise application. Getting into those tiny corners of your face or achieving a sharp and defined line under your contour is far easier with a sponge. The damp element of your sponge will also ensure that you’re adding moisture back into your skin. I tend to use the same sponge to ‘pat-out’ my concealer before applying the powder. I don’t go heavy with the powder. A light dab into the pot will pick enough more than enough product than you actually need.

Don’t let it sit for too long – One of the biggest mistakes you can make when ‘baking’ your face is allowing it to sit for too long. I can’t tell you the amount of ‘white cast’ photos I have of myself where I’ve allowed my setting powder to sit for too long therefore creating a ‘ghostly’ shadow underneath my eyes. Unfortunately it happens to the best of us, but I’ve now learnt to not allow my setting powder to sit around. KKW and her famous makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic advise for your setting powder to sit around for 10-15 minutes before brushing it away. I, personally, don’t have time for that nor do I care to wait for that long. I’m not particularly fond of lengthy makeup routines, but I also feel that allowing a powder to sit for that long opens up the door to ‘cake-face’; which is never a good look. I let my powder ‘cook’ for no longer than 2-3 minutes. It’s more than enough time to set your base makeup without having to feel like you’re plastering your face.

Use a slightly tinted powder – Whilst many believe that using a translucent powder is the way forward when it comes to baking, I’ve actually found that using a slightly tinted powder gives me a much better finish to my skin. My skin tone calls for a yellow-based powder to counter-act the dark circles that I’m burdened with. If you have a fairer skin tone then using a pink-based powder may work out better. I love the Sacha Buttercup Powder for its brightening effects without making my skin look ashy. I then finish off my under eyes with a dusting of Hourglass’ Ambient Lighting Powder in Diffused Light for a natural brightening effect that melts into the rest of my face.

Spritz with a facial spray – Although spritzing your face wouldn’t necessarily eliminate the matte effect under your eyes, a good facial spray will ensure that the rest of your face (baked or not) is free from any excessive powder. This is particularly important when trying to avoid the ‘cake-face’ look. Facial sprays don’t need to be fancy; even a spritz of water will do the trick. Facial sprays will also ensure that your makeup is ‘locked’ into your skin which kinda works well with the purpose of ‘baking’.

What are your ‘baking’ tricks? Comment below with some that I could try out.

 

Makeup Bags I’m Crushing Over | Spring 2017

Along with my ever expanding makeup collection, I have a ridiculous amount of makeup bags. From kitsch designs to pretentious designers – I can’t help a good makeup bag purchase.

I’ve been on the search for a new makeup bag for my every day handbag (how many times can we say bag?). Sounds pretty excessive for a person who doesn’t touch up their makeup throughout the day, but I need something to house my hand cream, hair ties, travel atomiser, etc. One or two of the makeup bags below aren’t exactly what I would necessarily carry on a daily basis, but they are great for travelling.

This blog post isn’t going to contain my usual ramble because…well…there’s not much to say about makeup bags. So for this week – just enjoy the images/links below and hopefully get some inspiration for your next makeup bag purchase…

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TED BAKER WOMEN’S VANITY CASE – £140

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CHARLOTTE TILBURY 1ST EDITION MAKEUP BAG – £15.00

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TATTY DEVINE LIPSTICK MAKE UP BAG – £15.00

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NAILS INC STOP! GLAMOUR TIME SLOGAN COSMETIC BAG – £12.50

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LULU GUINESS BLACK MEDIUM PATENT T-SEAM – £65.00

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TOM FORD LEATHER COSMETIC CASE – £510

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GIVENCHY ANTIGONA LEATHER COSMETIC CASE – £425.00

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ACCESSORIZE OMBRE GLITTER MAKEUP BAG – £12.00

 

Iconic London Rose Gold Evo Set Review

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Since my teens, I’ve been a loyal devotee to my favourite Essex beauty haven, Harmony Health and Beauty. Despite moving cross-county a few years ago, I never miss an opportunity to put my feet up and soak in the blissful atmosphere this wonderful salon. As funny as it sounds, it makes me feel at home. The sound, the smell, the ambiance – are all so familiar that I never leave without a smile on my face. Luckily, my family still live close by so I can justify the journey, but nevertheless I’ve never since found a salon that I enjoy as much as Harmony.

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Of course, my devotion is further exaggerated by the fact that it is indeed home to one of the biggest Instagram beauty phenomenons around – Iconic London. Many of us have seen their Illuminating Drops take over the feeds of beauty bloggers, makeup artists and enthusiasts alike. I’m no stranger to a beautiful glow, but it’s their Evo brushes; which caught my eye from the offset. In the name of research, I took the plunge, purchased their complete brush set and lied through my teeth when my husband questioned me on how much they were…

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Truth be told, collecting makeup brushes has become somewhat of a sick obsession. I have more brushes than what’s required for one face. Nevertheless, when I saw images of the Iconic London Evo Complete Face Set, I couldn’t resist. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but they look very similar to the Artis Brushes; which have been at the top of my makeup wish list for quite some time. What’s even better is that they’re a fraction of the price…and they come in rose gold (enter ‘heart eyes’ emoji here).

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The Complete Face Set comprises of everything your need to slay your base. There’s a brush for your foundation, a brush for your bronzer and so on. What’s interesting, is that the brushes are fairly multi-functional. For example, the bronzer brush (002) can be used for setting powder and the concealer brush (006) can be used for contouring the nose. There are a total of 6 brushes in the collection; which I’ll explain in greater detail. There is a smaller collection available which only contains 4 brushes, but of course, if I don’t have it all I’m not happy so I settled with the larger set. What really caught my eye (like a cat distracted by a shiny object) was the rose gold hue of these brushes. Let’s be honest, they’re stunning and the pictures don’t do them justice. Iconic sell these brushes in both black and white, but I find it hard to resist anything that’s rose gold.

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If you’re lucky enough to live within a close proximty of Harmony Health and Beauty, you can easily find an array of Iconic products in their display cabinets, including the white Evo brushes which are always out of stock on the website. Debra, the salon’s owner and Mum of Iconic’s founder Jade, is usually on hand as well as the other lovely ladies at Harmony to explain how to use any of their products. Of course, Iconic London also have their own website, www.iconiclondoninc.com, where you can purchase any of their items and often at discounted rates as they consistently have offers going on. The Complete Evo Brush collection is priced at £75; which for 6 brushes isn’t really that bad. At £12.50 per brush, that’s pretty much the same price as a Sigma or Morphe brush. The smaller collection, the Evo Contour & Conceal Makeup Brush Set, is priced at £42.99 and works out slightly cheaper at just over £10 per brush, but you do miss out on the powder and foundation brushes; which in my opinion are the most enjoyable brushes to use of them all.

Here’s what is included in the collection:-

001 – Perfect for foundation, bronzer and setting powder. It leaves no streaks or residue bristles on the face and creates a beautifully blended finish. My foundation went on and was blended out in literally seconds. Perfect for every day use if you don’t want to faff about with wetting Beauty Blenders in the morning.

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002 – Slightly smaller than 001, but still perfect for foundation, blending out contour, bronzer, blusher and setting powder. I love using this brush for all over setting with powder.

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003 – Perfect to sculpt out your cheekbones. It’s small enough to get into the contours of your face, but big enough to avoid harsh lines. It’s also great for cleaning up your contour with a brightening powder.

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004 – Although it’s labelled as a great highlighter, concealer or contouring brush, I found it best worked with powder or cream highlighters.

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005 – Meant for eyeliner, brows and lip perfecting I actually use this to draw out the lines on my nose contour or cleaning up my lipstick with concealer.

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006 – The ultimate brush for nose contouring, and other smaller areas. Also good for spot concealing.

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The brushes themselves are vegan-friendly and cruelty-free, with synthetic fibres making up the bristles. Whatever your conceptions are of synthetic fibres, put them aside. I have never felt something so soft against my skin since my hen do in Vegas (sorry Mum). What I love most about these brushes is that they’re so densely packed it almost feels like you’re using velvet on your face. I’m not going to lie, I am forever dedicated to my Beauty Blender. In fact, I’ve never been a fan of using a brush to apply my foundation. However, the foundation (001) brush left no streak marks or inconsistency in my application.

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Now here’s my bit of honesty. My only gripe with these brushes is the handle. I LOVE the fact that the rose gold colour doesn’t get dirty with use, but I would’ve prefered a slightly heavier feel to the brush. Considering that you’re having to part with near enough £100 when buying these brushes, the handles don’t quite match up. I wouldn’t say that it’s a deal breaker by any means – I have the upper body strength of a 6 year old anyway, but it’s just my opinion.

Cleaning of the Evo brushes is fairly straight forward. Of course, Iconic offer their own brand of Brush Cleanser; which you can pick up for a mere £12.99. I’ve been using The Pro Hygiene Collection Makeup Brush Cleaner on all of my brushes for years, including the Evo brushes and I’ve yet to experience a problem. By no means should you submerge the Evo brushes in water or use any harsh methods of cleaning; which is right up my street because I hate cleaning brushes. In my opinion, they’re fairly low maintenance compared to my traditional brushes as they are so densely packed that you also don’t need to waste time in re-shaping them and they require very little drying time.

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I often reserve my ‘speciality’ makeup purchases for glam events, however, the Complete Evo Brush collection has become somewhat of an everyday staple for me. Although I still love my Beauty Blender and traditional brushes, I love the fact that the Evo brushes are so ‘pick-up-and-go’ with very little upkeep required. I won’t deny the fact that the rose gold hue has a part to play in why I love these brushes so much,  my vanity table has never looked so good. I do, however, love everything that Iconic London stands for and how quickly they have evolved in the makeup world from their humble beginnings in Essex. Call me slightly biased but I’m an #iconicbae for life!

Creating A Capsule Makeup Collection

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Although I adopt a minimalistic approach to my home life, I love excess. From makeup to food, I can’t help but have it all in abundance (probably why I’m always broke and on a diet).

Being a beauty blogger means that I’m constantly surrounded by an array of beauty products. It also means that I get to feed my insatiable appetite for all things beauty in the name of research. Of course, that excuse doesn’t really get me far when having to explain the credit card bill to my husband, but it’s perfectly logical in my mind. However, there are times when I look at my makeup collection and wish that I could apply my minimalistic approach.

As a self-confessed makeup lover, I can’t resist the lure of a new makeup purchase. So much so that I have multiple of each makeup item. Of course, items such as lipsticks come in an array of colours so multiples are a must, but there’s only so many colours of the rainbow and I probably have double that. This brings me to my inpromptu makeup spring clean. I’m not going to lie; it hurt –  I cried less during my wedding vows. However, it was the best decision I’ve made thus far.

Creating a capsule makeup collection not only makes everything super organised, but also allows you to make informed purchases in the future therefore saving you money. Here’s how to create your capsule makeup collection:-

  1. Purge the outdated – In order to know what you’ll keep in your capsule collection you first need to get everything out and spread it on the floor. If anything smells ‘funny’ or has been in your collection for as long as you’ve been alive, it goes in the bin. Tossing out old/expired makeup is a great place to start when purging your makeup.
  2. Do a 2nd purge – Once all of the ‘rubbish’ is tossed out, it’s then time to put your best ‘cut-throat’ face forward. Look at your collection and make an informed decision on what you really need. What items do you use on a daily basis and what items do you rely on no matter what look you choose? Whilst ‘novelty’ or ‘specialised’ makeup can be fun, do you really need that florescent purple blusher? Decide on what colours suit you and what colours you reach for most. Then decide on what brands/products you can’t live without. If you haven’t reached for a particular product for a significant amount of time, it’s got to go. Remember, it’s quality over quantity. I’m not suggesting that all drugstore/cheap makeup needs to go in favour of more expensive items. You just need to decide on what’s more valuable to you and what you can use to create your signature look.
  3. Get rid of the duplicates – Whilst having multiple concealers, foundations or mascaras is great for variety, chances are you’re letting at least one of them mould away. We all have favourites and we all reach for that one product over the other, so having multiple of one item just means that you’re wasting your money. I love testing new brands and new products as much as the next person, but the idea here is ‘one in, one out’. That way, you’ll have more space and you’ll soon realise what products suit you best.
  4. Organise it – Once you’ve decided on what makeup you’ll like to keep, you then need to figure out how to store it. This is my favourite part (obviously). I’ve got nothing against makeup bags, but no matter how spacious they may be, they’ll never be ideal for storing your precious products. To keep things clean and in clear vision, you need to invest in some great storage solutions. Acrylic makeup boxes, such as The Original Beauty Box, are perfect for storing your makeup. If your budget doesn’t stretch that far, then Muji offer some really great, budget-friendly solutions. You don’t need to go crazy and get loads of different boxes/trays. Personally, having a simple acrylic box upon your vanity table looks very chic. Find what solution works best for you, but more importantly, will offer easy access to your makeup at all times.
  5. Maintain it – Once you’ve got your storage solution(s) set, you’ll need to maintain its convenience. That means you’ll need to firstly clean off your makeup products. Sticking a dirty compact in an acrylic makeup box will not only defeat the purpose here, but it will become that much harder to maintain your new system. Wipe off excess makeup/spillage, store it in a manner which makes sense to you e.g. grouping together brands; and make sure that any used products goes back clean and in the place where you last found it.
  6. Purchase according to season  – When you decide to expand your capsule collection, think about your next purchases in terms of season. When winter comes around, think about your signature dark lip. Do you already have it in your collection or would this be a new addition? Purchasing makeup according to season allows you to really use up the items which you’ve bought rather than impulse buying something that you won’t use for months on end.