Regular readers will know of my penchant for cosmetics and skincare. So I’m having a field day here in Italy with all the different skincare and cosmetic ranges available. The ladies in Sephora (both at Termini Station and Via Enrico Ferri) know me quite well now.

I’ve popped in several times to check things out and stock up on some items. Unfortunately, the change in temperature – from cold New Zealand to pretty warm Rome – is playing havoc with my skin. So my usual rich, creamy cleanser (by NZ botanical brand, Evolu) has been put aside whilst I test out an Italian brand called Collistar.

I have somewhat restrained myself and only bought a few things. What I like about buying cosmetics and skincare here is that you get a lot of free things to try. For some reason, the ladies at Sephora keep giving me Chanel eye cream from the Ultra Correction range. The eye cream is for “skin lifting” – obviously some not-so-subtle hint that I need an eyelift.

So what did I get? Starting off with Collistar, I bought a cleanser called Gel Detergente Equilibrante. I know this sounds like I’ve bought detergent for the face but it’s a gel cleanser designed to balance the skin’s oil production. In hot climates, your skin can get oily or oilier. I must say I really like this cleanser – it has a clean, fresh smell, lathers well and you don’t need to use too much. Then, I stocked up on my favourite Dior cleanser, which I haven’t bought in ages in my attempts at frugality. It’s the Gentle Cleansing Milk for face and eyes and is so much cheaper here. This has been stashed away in my suitcase to take back to New Zealand.

Next up, I bought two eye-shadow palettes by Cargo and Sephora’s own name brand. Cargo used to be in Australia – not sure if it still is. I really liked the look of the Shanghai palette. The colours are very earthy, neutral and the palette cover is a pretty Oriental design. I’ve only used this once and I must say I’m a tad disappointed. The colours don’t seem to have much pigment to them, so you have to use a lot to get any form of colour pay-off. In contrast, the Sephora palette (Almost Nude #9) is a lovely collection of four taupe and earthy colours, along with a matte liner in an eye-enhancing hue. You can really go to town with this palette and create a smokey-eye look or keep it soft and natural. The eyeshadows are long-lasting, especially if you use an eyeshadow primer (I use my favourite Mac Paint Pot in Painterly). So I’m pretty pleased with this palette.

Then I bought a face primer by Too Faced (love this brand). It’s called Primed and Poreless. Too Faced is at Mecca Cosmetica in Australia and I think in Christchurch, Ballantynes – but Ballantynes is temporarily closed down due to The Quakes. This face primer can be used under makeup to achieve that flawless look. Basically, it’s Spak Filler for your pores. The primer goes on smoothly and helps foundation glide on, but I think it’s not so great for an oily skin.

Also from Too Faced is the Absolutely Invisible Candlelight Powder. It’s a translucent powder infused with illuminating gold powder. Basically, it’s a luminizer. Because of the heat, I’m needing a powder to mattify the face during the day. This powder is gaw-jus! Illuminating doesn’t mean you end up looking like a disco ball – it just gives a soft, fresh glow. I’ve actually used this as a base eyeshadow, over bronzer, to highlight the brow bone and at the top of the cheek bones – so it’s a multi-tasking product, which is exactly what I look for. I would buy this product again and again (Ballantynes: please have it when you re-open).

The lovely Sephora ladies also gave me a sample of Lancome’s Genifique. I hate this product, really I do. Sorry Lancome. I tried a tester of it about a year ago. It’s said to be a “youth activating concentrate”. All it did was break me out and took me back to my teenage years of problematic skin – so guess it really is a “youth activating concentrate”. So I’ll be giving this to my mother-in-law when she arrives from Portugal in the next few days. She loves it.

Last weekend, I spotted some very interesting French brands I’ve not seen before. Naturally, I’ll be undertaking further sleuth work!

UPDATE: the Cargo palette isn’t as bad as I thought. You still don’t get a lot of colour pay-off but the bottom left colour in the palette works well as a subtle base colour. The bottom right colour goes well in the crease. The top left white shade does nothing for me. I don’t really like it as a highlighter. But overall, this palette is good for that casual I’m not wearing much make-up look. For daily wear, nah don’t like it. It just takes too many layers and effort to get good colour pay-off. I wouldn’t repurchase.

My Sephora haul.

Italian brand Collistar: balancing gel cleanser.

A very pretty eyeshadow palette (Shanghai) from Cargo. Once I've finished it, I'll use it as a compact mirror.

Cargo's Shanghai palette - colours are very earthy but unfortunately they don't have great pigmentation or staying power.

Too Faced Absolutely Invisible Candlelight powder - beautiful!!

Sephora collection eyeshadow palette in #9 Almost Nude.