Massachusetts to Melbourne: Beauty Down Unda’

Published in: Beauty Tips, Guest Post


Written by Nicole

What does an American beauty addict do when she finds herself living a world away from her favorite products and familiar haunts? Why, she learns the lay of the land, of course, and discovers a world of new beauty possibilities.

Melbourne, Australia
Photo remixed from an original by Teknorat

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.


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.

Argan Oil

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.

Benefit Tweezerman

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.

Dermalogica Clean Start

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.

Melbourne, Australia
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.



Written by Nicole

Nicole is a newlywed ex-pat who moved from Eastern Massachusetts to Melbourne, Australia in late 2010. Her love for makeup began at the ripe age of 5 when she happened upon her mother’s Clinique electric blue eyeliner. Makeup counters later became hallowed grounds during her college days, as she would peruse the counters before commuting home from a long day in class. When Nicole isn’t tinkering with makeup brushes and powders, you can usually find her galavanting all over Melbourne’s CBD, drooling over architecture, searching for the next best ballet flat or drinking wine with her husband Scott.


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So far, 18 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Rach says:

    This makes me miss Melbourne so badly! Be sure to check out Adore Beauty in Carlton. They also have a tremendous website. And go get coffee at Seven Seeds! I’m now an expat in Amsterdam, and I miss Melbourne coffee horribly.

    Oh, and stock up on Kevin Murphy hair products. I don’t know if they’ve made it to the States yet, but I miss Easy Rider! It’s the best anti-frizz product ever.

    • Nicole says:

      I’ve heard of his products, but I’ve never tried them. I will definitely keep my eyes peeled.

      Coffee is an art form here; they take it seriously. I don’t know what I’ll do if we ever decided to leave!

  2. Rach says:

    Aaaaand I just recognised the photo above – you took it on Spuistraat in Amsterdam, right??

  3. Liza says:

    You’re so lucky! I traveled to Australia this past summer and went to Sydney, Cairns, the outback, Surfer’s Paradise etc. and had the best time. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to Melbourne though. Australia is such a beautiful country:) I can totally relate though- everything is insanely expensive there! I blew my budget in a couple weeks and barely bought anything except a few tiny souvenirs for my friends and family back home. It’s great that you found some cool new products that work well though.

  4. Hilary says:

    I live in Melbourne. This is so helpful 🙂

  5. Noodles says:

    I live in Melbourne. This is so helpful! 🙂

  6. Evelyn says:

    Make sure you check out It’s full of fantastic discounts on everything from perfume to make up to skin care to hair products and delivers within days or ordering. It certainly keeps the cost down for us Australian girls! Also, WELCOME! I hope you love Melbourne as much as the rest of us 🙂

    • Nicole says:

      I have – a co-worker suggested this site to me recently.

      Lots of deals to be had, just wish they had a bigger selection.

      Thank you!!

  7. Imogen says:

    I’m a londoner living in Sydney. I’ve been here nearly 4 years and I STILL can’t believe the prices! I just plain refuse to buy anything in Mecca (as gorgeous as it is). I do all my beauty shopping online. Having said that, it is an insanely beautiful place to live. I hope you enjoy Melbourne, I love it 🙂

  8. AnieJ says:

    Although I’m practically too poor to be a makeup lover in the States as is, this still makes me want to live abroad. Case in point, I’ve never felt more at home than I did when I studied in New Zealand (close enough, no?), but I would say that I’d get considerably less variety in cosmetics if I wanted to continue junkie-dom there….

    Stay strong, and we’d love to hear more about the beauty finds you encounter soon!
    AnieJ recently posted … I Spy an Ad I Like…So Is It the Real Deal?

  9. Shannon says:

    I’m so sympathetic. Everything in South Africa is more expensive too; Pantene shampoo costs what salon shampoo would at home. It’s been a year and yet I’m still outraged every time I walk in the store. OUTRAGED. And I can’t even bear to think how I’m being gouged at MAC. And don’t even get me started on electronics; finding a blender that’s less than $200 is like finding the Shroud of Turin. Eish.

  10. AS a Mass-er, this is fascinating.

  11. Megan says:

    Ah the joys of the ridiculous mark-ups in Australia. I do the majority of my shopping online now ordering quite a lot of stuff from the USA – even with the high shipping costs it still works out cheaper that way with the strong Australian dollar. Melbourne is an amazing city though, beautiful with great character.

  12. Barbie says:

    Your comment about 55% humidity made me lol. I totally understand. I lived in Miami my whole life and moved up to Gainesville for college AKA “The Swamp”. And I thought Miami was humid! Nuh Uh. Girl, it’s 70% and humidity here, every day. My hair literally can’t handle it. Hair oils really do help though. I like Ojon Rare Hair Oil and John Freida Frizz Ease.

  13. Nicole says:

    @ Barbie, Redken makes a really nice Argan oil –

    I love the bottle with pump, it’s far more durable and manageable. Plus, it works just as well as One n’ Only.
    Nicole recently posted … Our weekend in Sydney

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