Empties: February to May 2018

Posted on June 20, 2018 under Empties

My empties posts are always at irregular intervals because that’s how using products up actually works in reality. Sometimes I’ll use up eight thousand products in the span of a month and sometimes three months will pass with my only empties being, like, a lip balm and brow gel. This post features a four-month accumulation because things were slow on the empties front around here; after my last empties post, I was left with a bunch of close-to-full products.

But I had a very convenient alibi for an empties post when it came to leaving the UK – although I’m getting this up nearly a month after returning home.

No press samples in this batch. Things I received for free through work are marked with an asterisk.

Skincare

A-Derma Soothing Foaming Gel*: This is a decent cleansing gel, though it’s nothing special. I prefer more hydrating cleansers, anyway.

Vichy Idélia Peeling*: I liked this! My skin responds well to glycolic acid and this was no exception. However, if Deciem can survive their CEO’s long-term public meltdown, the glycolic from The Ordinary is like $7 and just as good.

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5: Speaking of The Ordinary! I’ve honestly lost count of how many bottles of this I’ve gone through. It’s just such an effective, low-cost serum. Will keep using.

Origins Drink Up! Overnight Intensive Mask: You can see that I’ve done a number on this tube in an attempt to get out every last drop. This is my favourite night cream for winter time, and I can say that for the second year in a row the dreaded nose flakies have failed to make an appearance thanks to this rich moisturizer. A tube conveniently lasts me November through March, which is the perfect amount of time.

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Intense Soothing Care*: This is a really great daytime moisturizer. It’s rich enough to really hydrate dry skin, but thin enough to sit well under makeup. I’m working through some other things right now, but I’d happily go back to this. I went through a few tubes of the thicker, richer Toleriane Ultra, but I think this one is better-suited to daytime use.

Vaseline Lip Therapy + SPF 15: This was a decent lip balm that certainly got me through a dry winter. Nivea works better for me, though.

A forgotten empty, photographed later:

Bioderma Sensibio Eye Contour Gel*: A nice thin eye cream that delivers a medium amount of moisture. My undereyes have become quite dry lately, which I’m chalking up to age, so maybe I will buy another tube.

And while on vacation I used up a mini 100mL bottle of Bioderma Sensibio H2O which I forgot to photograph. The original Bioderma remains one of my favourite micellar solutions, alongside La Roche-Posay.

Hair

John Frieda Sheer Blonde Tone Correcting Shampoo: Oh wow, more of these? I can’t help it – it’s a good blonde shampoo and I would always buy it when Superdrug had it for £3.95. That’s a bargain!

John Frieda Sheer Blonde Go Blonder Lightening Shampoo (mini) x2: Went through two of these while travelling, only managed to photograph one. I’ve been using this shampoo on and off for over three years, so these travel minis are a no-brainer.

John Frieda Sheer Blonde Go Blonder Lightening Conditioner (mini): A solid conditioner, another tried and true product that rotates in and out of my haircare routine with regularity.

Toni and Guy Damage Repair Mask: I’ve used up a lot of deep conditioner in four years as a blonde, so I feel confident in saying that this one was average. I want to say it weighed my hair down a bit, but now that my hair is actually reasonably healthy it gets greasier a lot faster, so it’s hard to say accurately.

A straggler, photographed later:

Toni and Guy Instant Refresh Dry Shampoo: This dry shampoo worked well, but not as well as Batiste. It also had a very strong smell which I did not enjoy. The only reason I bought it was because I was one second away from fully succumbing to jetlag and could not for the life of me find the Batiste in the Superdrug I was in. You know that when I step off a plane my first priority is Batiste.

Bath and Body

A-Derma Exomega Emollient Balm*: I absolutely love this product. Despite the name “balm”, it’s not a super thick lotion, yet it delivers a lot of moisture, which is absolutely necessary for someone with KP. This can also be used on the face, so it’s a true multitasker. It’s right up there with La Roche-Posay Lipikar Baume AP+.

The Body Shop Coconut Body Butter x2: This is the only Body Butter I like, and I exclusively buy it in bulk during 3 for $30 sales. Because of the coconut oil, it has a thicker, semi-solid texture and it does absolute wonders on my perpetually-scaly, KP-ravaged limbs. Weirdly, the first of these tubs that I went through had the same texture as a regular Body Butter, which was a devastating blow. The second one had the texture I like, which was a lot better – but I’m still thinking they’ve reformulated to make the textures consistent across all scents, and I just ended up with an older tub. If this is the case I won’t keep buying it, since the texture was what I liked so much about it. (Okay, and it makes me smell like I live in a hut with a palm frond roof, which I love.)

L’Occitane Almond Shower Oil: You know I love this stuff. Is it absurdly expensive for something that is on my skin for like twenty seconds total? Yes! But it’s so luxurious, and I really cannot underestimate how dry my arms and legs are. They need every bit of moisture they can get.

The Body Shop Shea Butter Exfoliating Sugar Body Scrub: I am firmly a drugstore gal when it comes to body scrubs, but I picked this up during a 3 for $30 sale so I can’t be mad. It had a very interesting soufflé-like texture. Otherwise, it was a sugar scrub. It was fine, but if you pay full price for it you’re a fool. (Well, that goes for all products from The Body Shop, but especially sugar scrubs. Come on.)

Makeup

Benefit “That Gal” Primer (mini): Can we talk about the value of this mini? It contains 7.5mL of product, and the full size is a whopping 11mL. I mean. What. Strangely generous size aside, this is a pretty classic illuminating primer, though it has a thicker texture than others I’ve used and a very noticeable pink tinge. I enjoyed using it during the transition from winter to spring, when my skin decided to protest the change in seasons by being dry as a bone. Would not pay for the full size, but would probably spend Sephora points on another mini.

Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Crème in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (mini): I don’t know if it’s fair to feel this accomplished about using up a mini, but I do. I mean, this is only the third lipstick I’ve used up in my life, so it has to count for something! I really like the Le Marc Lip Crème formula and this was a very flattering neutral which I enjoyed wearing immensely.

Lancôme Hypnôse Mascara (mini): This used to be a favourite because it delivered volume and length without any clumps. Like, I dare you to try to make this mascara clumpy. It just doesn’t happen. Unfortunately, I have now discovered that it does not hold a curl at all, which is a dealbreaker for me. I don’t know if the mini just performs differently than the full size I had, but something is up here.

Lancôme Hypnôse Drama Mascara (mini): I don’t remember anything about this. The end.

Miscellaneous

Only one item in this category today, and a boring one at that. Tesco Beauty Nail Polish Remover was a nail polish remover. I got carded when I was buying it in September because I was also buying a knife and you’re not allowed to do that if you’re under eighteen. When the self checkout machine flagged me I totally thought it was because of the nail polish remover because I guess you can huff it or maybe make something explosive out of it. That story is not very interesting, but neither is nail polish remover.

The end! Now I’m back in Canada accumulating more empty things to show off at some random point down the line.

Spring 2018 Travels: Denmark and the Faroe Islands

Posted on June 12, 2018 under Life

I don’t really remember how this trip was shaped into its final form. Initially, the whole point was for my parents to visit me and show me the Scottish Highlands, since it seemed ridiculous for me to get my Master’s in Scotland and miss out on that breathtaking beauty. Then Ireland seemed like a good idea because of its proximity to the UK and the fact that me and my mom had been wanting my dad to see it for years. Denmark was just a bit of indulgence, really. I’d been to Copenhagen back in April 2015 and knew instantly that my Nordic-loving mom would love it, so it’s natural that we wanted to go. How exactly we decided to tack it onto the itinerary I’m not entirely sure. As for the Faroes, my mom has wanted to visit for most of her life, and it seemed criminal not to go if we were already going to be in Denmark.

My dad was not interested in this leg of our journey (or from being away from home for so long), so when we finished up in Ireland he flew back to Toronto and my mom and I were on to Denmark. We flew into Aalborg, a charming city in the north of the country. My impression of Aalborg is based on a very short time there during which all we really did was go out for dinner to Dalle Valle, an incredible buffet-style restaurant that I heartily recommend. That’s because we were in Aalborg overnight simply so we could get up to Skagen, which is a two hour train ride away.

Skagen is incredibly quaint. The town is lovely, filled with cute yellow buildings. However, we were not visiting for the town. No, we wanted to go to Grenen, the northernmost point in Denmark, where the Baltic Sea and North Sea meet. The quality of light at Grenen is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, the colours of the beach almost otherworldly. Pictures really don’t capture its incredible, bizarre beauty, nor what it looks like when the two seas meet. I realized at many moments throughout this trip that there are some places which are so special that they can only truly be appreciated in person, in the moment. You have your time in these incredible places, and you leave, and that’s all you get. Grenen is perhaps the most extreme example of this phenomenon that I personally have experienced. In photographs, it looks like a nice beach. In person, you can see the waves coming in from different angles, perpendicular, and you feel that this place has a quality that is entirely its own. There are some places in the world where you feel very small, and Grenen is one of them.

I first found out about Skagen and Grenen back in 2014, so this trip was four years in the making. It was an incredibly blustery day and a lovely ten degrees Celsius – but after years of wanting to be here, I had to take my hiking boots off and stand with my feet in both seas at once. The water was painfully cold, but I don’t regret it for a moment.

I think this photo best captures what I mean about Grenen being almost otherworldly, its colour palette just extraordinary.

After walking about 8km out to Grenen and back to our hotel, we had a lovely sushi dinner at Genki. The next morning, we were up early to catch a train to Copenhagen. We only had one full day there, which we spent wandering around city center. We did pop into the National Museum of Denmark to see some more bog bodies as well as some wonderful archaeological artifacts. We also had the most amazing Danish brunch at Café Europa. If you’re ever in Copenhagen I highly recommend trying this out. It’s entirely different from North American brunch and incredibly delicious.

Me and my mom were just talking about this meal the other day, and we both agreed that it was the culinary highlight of our trip. Be warned, though – it’s not cheap, coming out to about $60 CAD per person.

I was not moved to cart my DSLR around with me in Copenhagen, but here are a few shots I took with my phone:

Taken at King’s Garden, which houses Rosenborg Palace. The expression on the lion’s face cracks me up.

Christiansborg Palace and its cool rectangular hedges.

On Sunday morning we were off to the airport to fly the Faroe Islands! The airport in Vágar is the smallest one I’ve ever seen, with only two gates. (There are only two airlines that fly in and out of the Faroes.) It also has the most beautifully-situated parking lot in the world:

For those who don’t know, the Faroe Islands are an autonomous country owned by the Kingdom of Denmark. They have their own language, Faroese, which to a North American outsider resembles Icelandic, though Faroese people all seem to speak Danish and English as well. The entire country has a population of just 50,000. The climate hovers between about 6 and 15 Celsius year-round. The highest temperature ever measured there was 26.3 degrees Celsius, which is just 79 degrees Fahrenheit. I mean, 26 Celsius would be quite a mild day during the peak of summer here in Toronto, so for that to be the basically unheard of extreme in the Faroes is shocking to me!

Our cab ride to our Airbnb in Tórshavn was absolutely incredible. The Faroese landscape is like nothing I’ve ever seen. It’s endlessly mountainous but without trees, and everything is a strange yellowy green. Tórshavn, one of the smallest capital cities in the world, is filled with the cutest houses on planet Earth. We spent our first day there wandering around the historical district of Tinganes, and I was captivated by the architecture. There were daffodils everywhere, and I noticed a lot of windowsills were crammed with plants and trinkets. And I absolutely loved the use of colour, especially against the dark grey and black that many houses are painted.

We also stumbled upon the lovely Tórshavn Cathedral as we wandered:

Tórshavn is such a wonderfully picturesque place – we wandered all around the town and it was never anything less than adorable. I mean, really:

The next day we took a boat ride from the town of Vestmanna, dipping into little enclaves surrounded by incredibly high cliffs. The scenery was stunning beyond belief, and in the shallower parts the water was a vibrant turquoise unlike anything I’ve seen before.

Elephant rock.

I mean, really, this water was insane.

On Wednesday we took a bus to Klaksvík, second only to Tórshavn in population. It was a horrible rainy, grey day, and we walked along the water with the wind whipping at us. The fog made for some nice pictures, though.

In the end, the inhospitable weather was totally worth it, because after our walk we got on a 12-minute helicopter ride back to Tóshavn. I’ve never been in a helicopter before, and it was one of the coolest experiences of my life. Flying above the stunning, unique Faroese landscape is something I’ll never forget. When we landed, new passengers boarded the helicopter and we watched it take off. The force of the propellors was way stronger than I’d imagined – it almost whipped my mom’s phone out of her hand!

On Thursday we were meant to take another day trip, but unfortunately it was cancelled at the last minute. It also happened to be a holiday in the Faroe Islands, so everything was closed. We walked around a little bit and took pictures of the unique Vesturkirkjan (which you may have noticed in some of the pictures above). Ultimately we took it easy since we’d already seen most of the small town and there was nothing else to do.

Bet you’ve never seen a church quite like this…

It wasn’t a complete wash – we took the money from the trip refund and had delicious sushi at Etika. We actually had Japanese food three times in Denmark and the Faroes – it might seem like a strange area to eat this particular cuisine, but they are huge fishing cultures and the food is always wonderful and fresh. I’ve had sushi several times in the UK and it’s always pretty underwhelming, whereas it’s been consistently fantastic in Nordic countries.

On Friday we had another beautiful drive, this time to the airport. We were back in Copenhagen for the weekend, our trip winding to a close. Again, we only had one full day, which we spent walking around and enjoying the beautiful, sunny weather. We checked out Christiania, the so-called hippie quarter of Copenhagen, and had Danish hot dogs for lunch. (Everyone hypes up the famous hot dog place in Reyjkavik, but I’m telling you to go to Denmark and get a hot dog wrapped in bacon. It is way better.) We also did a bit of shopping – our entire trip had been focused on experiences rather than acquisition, so we did a bit of damage on our last day, spending a lot of time in Cos as well as Sephora. We went for our third dinner at Dalle Valle (our second being the night before…) and then went to bed early.

On Sunday morning we flew into Edinburgh, where we took a bus to Glasgow. My mom went off to the Glasgow airport hotel in preparation for her flight back to Toronto the next morning, and I went back to my flat. And thus five weeks of travel were concluded!

Months worth of decluttering packed into one convenient post

Posted on May 25, 2018 under Declutter

Yay, getting rid of things! I did a pretty thorough destash before I moved in September, but decluttering is a constant process and I have found even more that needs to leave my collection. I’m going to go ahead and say that in nine months I downsized my lipstick collection by almost 50%, and I am very proud of that. More on that in a bit…

First, a few things that I left behind in Toronto when I was there over Christmas – a relatively small purge which inspired a larger round.

First, the hideously bad Urban Decay All Nighter Foundation. I mean, hideously bad if you’re me and have dry skin and don’t like full coverage. If you like full coverage and have combo or oily skin, you might like this! It really did look like shit on me, though.

I absolutely fell in love with NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation back when I first bought it in November 2016 despite its trickiness. Over time, my skin started rejecting it, and I just found that it never looked flattering. I don’t think my skin got any dryer, but something definitely changed. It’s a shame, because it really was lovely, and I only used about 1/3 of the bottle. At least I bought it with Optimum points – I’d really hate to get rid of a $60 foundation that I spent real money on. My mom has informed me that she has taken the liberty of adopting this foundation and actually enjoys it, so I feel quite happy knowing that someone is getting my Optimum points’ worth.

The Seventeen Instant Glow Shimmer Brick is a really pretty rosy highlighter, but I’m trying to cull my highlighter collection. Ultimately it has to go because I rarely use powder highlighter and it’s just a bit more dramatic than I usually go for. It’s still a nice product, though – the Boots house brands do a great job.

ColourPop Ultra Blotted Lips in Split is just not my thing, as it turns out. The lack of staying power, finnicky application, and dryness on the lips are – shockingly – not a winning combination.

ColourPop Lippie Stix in Trixie was just never the colour I wanted it to be, and I found the formula too slippy for my tastes. ColourPop is just so frustrating – I’ve found a handful of really great, cost-effective products from them, but there are also a lot of duds amongst the impulse purchases I threw into my cart to meet the $50 free shipping minimum. It’s probably not worth all the wasted money and product for the few good things. Ultimately, I think I have to break up with ColourPop.

Buxom Plumpline Lip Liner in Mystery* is a really pretty plum that’s just a bit too patchy to be workable. Let’s be real – I have plenty of lipstick, there’s no use holding onto stuff that’s not quite right when I could be wearing formulas and colours I absolutely love. Out of the six of these lip pencils that Buxom sent me back in 2016, I now only have two – but I wear them constantly. That’s a lot better than having four that I neglect and two that I wear.

Lastly, the Revlon PhotoReady Eye Art 2-in-1 Cream Eyeshadow and Sparkle just never worked for me. I love my Stila and Urban Decay liquid eyeshadows, so those are the ones I’ll continue to use. I meant to do a full review of the Revlon ones, but suffice to say they’re thick and sticky to the point of being downright uncomfortable.

When I got back to Glasgow, I was in a decluttering mood, and over the past few months I’ve been combing through my collection, trying out things that had been gathering dust, and tossing more items into my declutter pile.

Some highlighters had to go! Kiko Radiant Touch Creamy Stick Highlighter is pretty, but I’ll always prefer the Glossier Haloscope in Quartz. While I do very much enjoy the formula and wow factor of the Makeup Revolution Liquid Highlighter in Starlight, realistically I’ll get far more wear out of my subtler highlighters. I was enchanted with the Hourglass Ambient Strobe Lighting Powder in Iridescent when I first got it, but I really do prefer cream and liquid highlights these days. This is a very pretty product and it looks practically untouched, so it’ll be nice to pass it on to a friend who will enjoy it more than I do!

I have finally accepted that I don’t wear bronzer, so it’s bye-bye to the Physician’s Formula Butter Bronzer in Light Bronzer. I got this last winter and wore it, like, two times in the summer, and now that we’ve made it through yet another winter and it remains pretty much untouched… it’s time to admit defeat. I find the tone of this a bit too orange for my liking. The Body Shop Honey Bronzer is actually a great tone for me, and if I ever want to dip my toes back into the bronzer world again I’ll repurchase that. But I think for now I will live a bronzer-free life.

The Body Shop Shade Adjusting Drops were passed on from Aisling, but none of the foundations currently in my stash require adjusting and I don’t tend to purchase foundations that I won’t be able to use straight out of the bottle. Speaking of mismatched shades, I really liked the formula of the PS… My Perfect Colour Concealer in Nude Beige, but it was not, in fact, my perfect colour.

Lots of liquid lipsticks that are out the door today! Time to say goodbye to Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipsticks in Fiore, Aria, Viola, and Beso. The first two are goners because they’re too old (though Aria is still one of the prettiest colours ever – you can kind of see it in this ancient post). Viola was just never that flattering on me, and I prefer NARS Annabella over Stila Beso if we’re talking warm reds. Other casualties were ColourPop Ultra Matte Lips in Tuesday and Lychee and Wet N Wild Liquid Catsuit in Nice to Fuchsia. Tuesday was an obvious candidate for eradication; Lychee was yet another dud in my years-long attempt to find my perfect lilac; Nice to Fuchsia was a hype-fuelled purchase in a Kentucky Walmart that I just never fell in love with.

I have declared this many many times, but I am finally ready to officially and truthfully state that I am over liquid lipsticks. I’m not even going to say “burn my house to the ground if you see me buying another liquid lipstick,” because I don’t need any incentive other than the thought of my lips shrivelling up and dying. Also because arson is illegal so I will not encourage that behaviour. The only liquid lipsticks I have left are ColourPop Dr. M (because it is a very special colour), Stila Chianti (because I haven’t found a bullet lipstick alternative to it yet), and my two Lancôme Matte Shakers* (because they don’t look, feel, or wear like liquid lipsticks).

Other lip products that had to go: Rimmel Lasting Finish by Kate Moss in 017 (featured here – old; not my most flattering colour); Lise Watier Rouge Gourmand Velours in Cake Pop (featured here – four years old and not something I wear very often); Bite Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Beetroot (mini – I’m not a huge wearer of deep reds and I prefer something a bit longer-wearing for such a dramatic colour); Maybelline Color Drama Lip Pencil in Keep It Classy (too similar to other neutrals I own, though the formula is lovely).

I also got rid of that Primark glitter lip kit that made me look ill and hurt my lips, for obvious reasons.

That’s thirteen lipsticks gone in this post in addition to the twenty-four I decluttered this past summer. When I did my lipstick inventory in August, I had an overwhelming seventy lipsticks. So I have managed to reduce it by just about bang-on fifty percent, with a total of thirty-seven lipsticks in my collection. It hasn’t been this small in years! I honestly wasn’t even aiming for this; I was just throwing things I didn’t like into a declutter box for months until I suddenly realized I’d halved my collection. I didn’t wear a lot of makeup this past school year because I was only on campus three days a week and I didn’t feel like doing fancy/exciting makeup most of the time anyway. I think that made it a lot easier to get rid of things, because when I was wearing makeup at least 40% less frequently than I had been, I wanted to use things I really, truly loved on the days that I did. That meant chucking a lot of things that I only wore when I remembered about them and keeping the things that I really love. Thirty-seven lipsticks is still more than a human actually needs, but my collection has been hovering at fifty (or more…) since at least 2015. I’m not going to use this declutter as an excuse to buy 15 more lipsticks, but ridding my collection of the dead weight does give me a bit of breathing room to carefully select a new product here and there, as I did when I got a new Marc Jacobs lipstick in Copenhagen this month.

Eye things: Bella Pierre Shimmer Powder in Snowflake is a very pretty sheer white shadow, but do you think I have the patience to mess around with a loose eyeshadow? No. Of course I don’t. Urban Decay Troublemaker Mascara frustrated me with its underwhelmingness.

A few truly random things: The Body Shop Sparkler All Over Shimmer, because I have no opportunity in my life to wear body glitter. Superdrug Naturally Radiant 5% Glycolic Acid, because I bought it out of desperation and I prefer an 8% glycolic that doesn’t smell weird. The Real Techniques Essential Foundation Brush is certainly not essential to me. I have highlighter brushes that I prefer to bdellium tools 944.

Recently I’ve been reflecting on minimalism and decluttering. I’ve reduced my makeup purchasing significantly in 2018 (like, the only makeup products I’ve purchased – as opposed to received as a gift – are a £4 concealer in March and an £8.99 tube of mascara in April). That said, I don’t think this extremely low level of buying is going to continue on forever. I’ve come a long way in reducing my consumerist tendencies and impulse purchases, but I’m not naïve enough to think that I’m done buying makeup forever. Inevitably, I get rid of a lot of things. And I think that’s okay! A lot of these products are things that I’ve had and used for years, that I’ve managed to get a lot of mileage out of but that aren’t right for me anymore. I don’t think it’s horrific that I didn’t actually finish up my tube of Rimmel lipstick, because I used it frequently for at least four years and I got my $6.99’s worth out of it for sure. And products that I didn’t get a lot of use out of – like ColourPop Tuesday – we can chalk up to learning experiences.

I like to have a diverse makeup collection because it’s fun to try new things and to have options. But I also like to feel like everything I have is being used. So if I’m going to keep buying new makeup, I will also continue to declutter, so that my collection remains within that sweet spot. When my makeup collection first swelled to a size that I found unmanageable, I thought I could perform one big cull and be done with it. But that’s definitely not the case – as long as I’m buying new things, old things will have to leave my collection. I don’t tend to sit down and pick through my collection all at once, either. Instead, I use something, realize I don’t like it much, and throw it into a box. When the box gets full, I do a blog post and let my friends go through everything. This might be the last declutter post on here for some time since I’ve definitely trimmed the fat, but you can bank on seeing another one at some point. That’s just the nature of the beast.

By the way, I’m moving back to Toronto tomorrow, so wish me luck hauling 3 suitcases and a backpack across the world!