Category Archives: makeup

Ask Ellen – Do I need… very expensive face cream?


I love a nice face cream. I love the nice jar and the feel and how it makes me glow and how it looks on my shelf and how my makeup looks nice over it PLUS want it to work and give me a whole new head and smell amazing and preferably bring me a coffee in the morning and bring world peace and the whole shebang. Consequently, my face cream costs enough to feed a small village for a year. #sorrynotsorry . I don’t have an expensive car or lots of shoes or diamonds or avocado on toast any of those things, but gosh darn I use a great face cream. ( That’s a lie. I do like a bit of smashed avo from time to time .)

I would prefer to eat 79c tuna from the discount bin at Woolworths than downgrade my key beauty products, but that’s just me. For many of us, we just want it to work and not require taking out a second mortgage.

The world of skincare is ridiculously complicated. Every skincare company on the market wants to convince you to buy their brand, and will make confusingly worded claims to get you to do so. For today, we’re going to stick to the topic of moisturiser, specifically.

Firstly, what is moisturiser anyway and why do we want/need it?

Here’s the dealio. The external layer of our skin turns over every 28 days or so. The new cells travel up from underneath and flatten out on the top, forming a nice protective layer. These cells travel through a little soup of natural moisturising factors called glycosaminoglycans ( GAGs) ( essentially, moisture with nutrients ) to get to the surface. When we don’t have enough GAGs, our skin’s ability to function effectively is compromised. This results in the outer layer looking flat, dull, and less bouncy.

Think of it this way- your skin is like a car, it needs oil and water to run its best.

The function of moisturiser is to ‘top up’ these moisture levels and keep your skin bouncy and smooth.

You can get moisturiser for $4 or $400+ – so what’s the difference?

The factors that affect price are as follows:

  1. Superficial – smells good, pleasant texture / smell / packaging / brand image / marketing ( this is the most expensive element )
  2. Active ingredients / quality of ingredients / scientific research and data backing up the efficacy – does something in addition to basic hydration ( this costs a medium amount of money ) . Actives really need a whole article of their own but essentially, you’re looking at ingredients like niacinamide, peptides, retinol, vitamin c, hyaluronic acid etc.
  3. Quality of basic ingredients that hydrate – this does not need to be super expensive.

This means, if you just want moisture and are not fussed about any additional features i.e. effective anti ageing, pretty packaging etc you can buy a nice, inexpensive moisturiser suited to your skin type and call it a day.

If you want great hydration AND anti ageing / pigment reducing/ face lifting / scar reduction you probably need to drop a few more $$ on something with active ingredients.

If you want hydration AND pretty packaging AND active ingredients, prepare to take out a second mortgage on your house coz it’s gonna cost you.

A word of caution: JUST because a cream is expensive doesn’t necessarily mean it is super effective for anti ageing and so forth – for that it needs to have great actives as well as a nice smell and a sexy jar.

Here’s my pick of some of the best in show,

Basic moisture with no frills $ ( may contain a small amount of actives but mostly just hydration ):

Normal skin

‘The Ordinary’ Natural Moisturising Factors + HA RRP $9.80 ( great hydration, great price. Don’t let the price tag put you off- this is a great product and well worth your time.)

natural moist ha

Dry Skin

‘Nivea’ The Original ‘Creme’ RRP $8.00 (  The mainstay of grandmothers with mysteriously perfect skin everywhere. Super thick, healing, and a cult favourite. Can be used on dry feet and elbows, too.)

nivea creme

Mature / Anti Ageing

Olay ‘Total Effects 7 in 1’ cream RRP $33.50 ( Moisture with some anti inflammatory/ anti pigment properties in the form of vitamin B3.  Does it do 7 things? ……no. It is decent? Yes.)



Oily Skin / Young

Neutrogena ‘Hydro Boost’ Water Gel RRP $24.99 ( hyaluronic acid and a bit of glycerin- should leave your skin bouncy )



Active ingredients /  mid range $$

Normal Skin

Malin and Goetz ‘Vitamin E’ cream RRP $73 ( gorgeous smelling and super kind to sensitive skins, plus carrot extract to brighten. It’s also more than double the size of most moisturisers so great value.)


Anti Ageing

Philosophy ‘Renewed Hope in A Jar’ RRP $68 ( Made famous by Oprah – hydration with some resurfacing, entry level anti ageing . Cult fave.)


Dr. Dennis Gross ‘Ferulic and Retinol Fibroblast Anti Ageing Moisturiser’ RRP $105 ( ferric = anti pigmentation, retinol = faster skin turnover. Result? Smoother brighter skin.)


O Cosmedics ‘Immortal Cream’ RRP $102 ( Top notch cosmeceutical for a decent price. Anti ageing . Actually works. )

Screen Shot 2018-03-13 at 7.27.58 pm

Schnazzy pants gorgeous looking expensive moisturisers that actually do something $$$

Dry skin with sensitivity / scarring

La Mer, Creme de la Mer RRP $242- $665 ( Insanely expensive cream-of-joy . Originally a burns cream- works best on dry, red, or thinning skin. Not big on actives, but it works anyway.)


Anti Ageing

Chantecaille ‘Nano Gold Firming treatment’ RRP $433 ( AKA ‘new head in a jar’. Stem cells + peptides + smells great + lifting )


Perricone MD Neuropeptide Firming Moisturiser RRP $398 ( This is for my girls who want a facelift. not super hydrating per se – more heavy lifting and tightening. )



Stuff you shouldn’t be doing with makeup ( but probably are ).

1. Keeping it in the bathroom .

I know, I know. Probably the best light is in there, your room is small, you don’t want makeup on your carpet etc. I get it. Here is the problem. There is LOTS of moisture in the air in the bathroom, and it tends to breed mould, as well as get into your powders and make ‘em sticky. Think about this: the cleaning products you use for the bathroom are hard core- because the environment tends to breed mould. Mmmmm. MOULDY POWDER. MOULD. DELICIOUS MOULD. SO NICE. MOULDY MOULDY FACE. That, my friend, is what is breeding on your makeup. Top tip: get a pretty makeup bag to store your makeup elsewhere, and just carry it in there when you need it. It’s easier to find what you need, and it will stay nice longer.

2. Using old mascara .

Let’s all say it together. Con-Junc-tiv-itis. The preservative systems in mascara are designed to work properly for three months, after which the Bacteria start escalating. If your mascara is old, smells funny, or is flaky, THROW IT OUT. And, while we are at it, don’t share it ( or any eye product ) with anyone. ( unless you don’t like them and you actually WANT to give them an eye infection in which case WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU BUT ALSO HILARIOUS BUT ALSO DON’T DO THAT.)

3. Not washing brushes, sponges, or the little powder puffs in your compact .

Ok. Have you ever had a powder product that has a film of weird grainy stuff on it? Wanna know what it is? Let me give you the breakdown. Makeup brushes touch your skin. Your skin has oil and gunk and dead skin cells floating around on it. When you put your brushes into a product ( say, eyeshadow) you are actually transferring that oil and gunk into that eyeshadow pan, where it breeds bacteria. This forms a sticky, grainy layer on top of your products. Noice. This lovely layer can also be achieved by sticking sticking your fingers directly into a powder shadow, or putting a dirty powder puff back on top of a pressed powder. Schmexy, no?

4. Keeping perfume in the car or direct sunlight.

It goes off faster. Enough said. Perfume should be kept like wine-in a cool, dark area. HELPFUL HINT: keeping your perfume somewhere hot is a great way to make very fragrant vinegar. ENJOY.

5. Concealing first, then adding foundation over the same area.

I don’t know who started this, but it needs to stop. When you apply liquid foundation over concealer, you tend to move the concealer off whatever it was you wanted to cover. This means you then have to go back and apply more concealer after foundation- making your makeup thicker and less even. Apply foundation all over and then see what you need to cover- you can even mix concealer and foundation to ensure a seamless match. The exception: colour correctors can be used under foundation, provided you stipple your foundation super carefully over the top to avoid dislodging the corrector. Oh, and while we are at it. Using pale concealer to cover pigmentation doesn’t work- it just looks ashy. Orange corrector is your new friend, followed by a matching concealer. You are welcome.

6. Dipping the mascara wand into the bottle lots of times.

I’m just going to do a tutorial on how to get a great result out of your mascara because this annoys me so much. Short version: keep brushing your wand through your lashes to spread the product evenly, rather than just dipping back in for more product and then wondering why it’s clumpy and lame and does not look like the commercial at all and now you need to take half of it off with an old eyebrow brush and it’s flaking under my eyes and why does my mascara hate me I give up. ( you know the commercial is photoshopped, right? )

7. Pumping the wand.

This puts air in the tube and it dries out faster. Geez- what did YOU learn in school?

8. Pulling your eyelids when applying eye makeup.

Just tip your head back a la Sophia Loren so you can SEE what you are doing without distorting your eye shape and prematurely stretching the skin on your eye.

9. Applying bronzer all over.

Contrary to its name, powder bronzer is NOT designed to take your whole makeup one shade darker. It’s designed to ‘shape’ the face by selectively adding warmth on cheekbones, bridge of the nose, or décolleté to simulate a sun kissed effect. The ONLY time you should consider using bronzer all over is if you are super tanned and it actually matches your face.

FAQ: what if my face is paler than my body? Can I just use darker foundation? Glad you asked. NO YOU CANNOT. Using dark foundation without actually having a tan underneath just looks orange- ask any ballroom dancer. If you are fake tanning, tan your face too. Fake tan changes the ‘base’ of your skin ( think: pink face, yellow body ) and NO amount of darker foundation will give an accurate match. I know, you are in the habit of not tanning your face because you heard it’s ageing….they are talking about sun damage, not fake tan. Oh, and these days you can get beautiful hydrating organic DHA fake tan that actually leaves your skin feeling beautiful.

N.B. If you sunbake and do not tan your face (… why are you ok with sun damage on your body? STOP. IT.) Then you can use a liquid bronzer on your face to bring your natural colour up a shade, as your natural base is still the same undertone as your sun damaged body.

Feel bad yet?

AUTHOR’S NOTE: At the end of the day, it’s your makeup, and you can do whatever you wish. PAINT YOUR FACE PURPLE AND SHOUT ‘ I AM THE LIZARD QUEEN !!!!’ if that makes you happy. Hope this article gave you a giggle and hopefully inspired you to de-gunk your makeup, I’d love to hear what you think! Xx Ellen

Watch out world- Glamazon at large.

So, I thought it was time I updated my page about my various adventures. Its been a whirlwind year, singing with Harbour City Opera, leaving my steady job to work for myself, lots of writing, lots of freelance makeup- all in all a wonderful adventure!

When I was a little girl, I had several answers to the question ” what do you want to be when you grow up?” The top answers went like this:

1. I want to be onstage or tv singing/acting/talking

2. I want to do makeup ( to be fair, I actually told one lady I didn’t need to ‘become’ a makeup artist or singer – ‘because I already am one’)

3. I want to study literature and languages.

4. I want to be a philanthropist.

As an adult, I’ve often struggled with choosing what to do. It’s got to be said that singing and writing, in particular, are not known as super reliable career paths. Independent makeup artistry is a little better, but still not a steady job! It’s often seemed like an either/or. Should I go for the reliable route? Should I chase the dream? Should I give up and get a ‘normal’ job? I’ve often taken what appeared to be a ‘safe’ route only to make myself miserable- not rich, not thriving, just… getting by. This year has marked a big change for me, as I’ve had a little lightbulb moment. It’s pretty simple, but it goes like this. Have a go. Just have a go. At everything. Everything I like, everything I’m excited about, everything I’d genuinely like to do. All of it.

There is a parable in the Bible about using your talents, and it basically talks about doing the best you can with what you have. It tells a story about three servants, each are given a ‘talent’ to look after by their boss, who then leaves them to it. When the boss comes back, the servants who ‘had a go’ and did something with their talent are praised and given more talents and riches and groovy jobs, the one who just buried his talent for fear of failure gets massively told off, and his talent taken off him.

This story always seemed a bit harsh, I mean, lots of people get scared and don’t try. You shouldn’t be in trouble for being scared, surely. It only occurred to me recently that the opposite of fear is courage, and the antidote to fear is love. There are amazing stories of women lifting cars to rescue their children- their love for their children overrides their belief that they can’t do it, their fear of failure or injury, pretty much any obstacle in their way. Of course, they would feel afraid to lose their child, but the love factor enables them to use that energy for a courageous act, rather than immobilising them.

So it seems that being scared of failure is not the issue- it’s failing to love. If you love yourself enough, you’ll make every effort to have a life worth living. Even if it’s scary, or looks a bit impossible.

So, at the risk of sounding annoyingly new age, love yourself enough to have a go, at whatever it is you are talented at. I’m not saying you should quit your job tomorrow and move to a commune, but have a go, in whatever way you can. You might just get a surprise.

Ellen Malone.

Singer. Make Up Artist. Freelance Writer. Presenter. Glamazon at Large.

Harbourb City Opera- Opera on Tour

Harbour City Opera- Opera on Tour