Empties: October to December 2016

Posted on December 02, 2016 under Empties

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I would have liked to post this closer to the end of the year, but this is all I have prepared for publication so we’ll have to hope I don’t finish anything else up in December. (I know I can just add it to my next empties post, but I like the idea of confining my 2016 garbage to 2016, you know?)

Skincare

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Marina Miracle Sweet and Creamy Oil Cleanser (press sample): I loved this cleanser. It was extremely effective but very hydrating. I loved that it was a creamy texture but emulsified to a more oil-like state. This was one of my top products of 2015 and I loved it until the bitter end. If you’re into natural products and supporting small businesses, I’d highly recommend this Norwegian brand. (They ship worldwide!)

The Body Shop Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil: This is an old standby; I’m on my third bottle of it now. Although there are three different oil cleansers featured in this post, I do get use out of a good gel cleanser too – but this oil one is my go-to in the cooler months when my skin is determined to expel all moisture.

A-Derma Exomega Cleansing Oil: I received this product at an A-Derma training and I do like it. It’s a thinner, runnier oil than The Body Shop one. I used it as an in-shower face oil so it’s hard to compare its efficacy to the Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil (which I used to melt off my makeup), but I did enjoy using it. I have another bottle that I’ll use up as well.

Vichy Aqualia Thermale Dynamic Hydration Power Serum: I really liked this. It sinks in fast and did make a noticeable difference when it comes to keeping my skin hydrated. I’m using a La Roche-Posay serum right now and I 100% prefer the Vichy.

No7 Beautiful Skin Night Cream: I got this hoping it would replace my Boots Botanics Replenishing Night Cream, but it wasn’t the same at all. There was nothing truly wrong with it, it just wasn’t anything special. It did a pretty good job of hydrating overnight, but it never sunk in fully. Now I’m using a combination of oils and my Origins Drink Up! Overnight Moisture Mask and that’s suiting me a lot better.

Bath and Body

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L’Occitane Almond Shower Oil: I LOVE this stuff and I still have a litre and a half of backups to get through. I feel slightly bougie buying expensive oil to use in the shower, but it seriously makes my skin so soft and smooth. This has completely replaced shaving cream for me. I can’t praise it enough – it even made it into my 2015 favourites!

L’Occitane Supple Skin Almond Oil: This sample came with a gift set of the Shower Oil that my friend got me for Christmas last year. The small sample lasted me quite a long time when I started using it because a little goes a long way. I love a good body oil for my arms and legs, and this stuff was great. The full size is too expensive for my budget, but I’d totally use a sample up again!

The Body Shop Coconut Body Butter: A winter standby! You can fully expect to see more of these in future empties posts because I go through them super quickly. I used this one up just a few weeks ago and you can already see the bottom of the tub of my replacement.

Haircare

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Light Blue Shade Original Shampoo: I started using this in May and I’ve already gone through 2 half-litre bottles. (Well, I share them with my mom, but I use way more than she does because I have a lot more hair.) It’s just the best purple shampoo. Of course, I’ve already cracked open a new bottle.

Marc Anthony Hydrating Coconut Oil and Shea Butter Deep Nourishing Conditioning Treatment: I use a deep conditioner every time I wash my ultra-damaged hair, but this is my once-a-week, heavy duty option. The coconut oil helps restore the protein in my damaged hair, and always leaves it especially soft and smooth. It’s kind of annoying that you can only buy this product in the little packets, but one packet lasts me several months so it’s not the end of the world.

Makeup

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L’Oréal True Match Super Blendable Concealer in C1-2-3: This had a slightly salmon tone that made it great for my undereyes – it cancelled out darkness without feeling thick and heavy. Ultimately I moved on to my NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, but I’d totally go back to the L’Oréal as a budget option.

Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Foundation in R210: I really did enjoy this foundation and included it in my summer favourites. I liked that it had a thin, lightweight texture and medium coverage. In the end, when comparing it to my Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation and NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation, it’s just not as long-lasting, which is something I look for as a retail worker. This foundation may be a repurchase when I’m a student again and not putting my face through so much exertion, because I liked it otherwise.

Miscellaneous

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Sally Hansen Maximum Strength Polish Remover: This was a nail polish remover. It removed my nail polish. Yay!

And that, my friends, is all of the garbage I have been holding onto for the past few months. Stay tuned to find out what garbage 2017 will bring!

Foundation for Fair Skin: NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation in Siberia

Posted on November 30, 2016 under Reviews

NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation in Siberia

I’ll let you in on something: I decided not to return the Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation after all. It looks really nice when applied with a damp sponge, and the colour match is great. I waffled on this one for awhile, but ultimately laziness prevailed because I didn’t have it in me to make my second trek to the Eaton Centre in a week to return it. (Torontonians will understand the mental and physical fortitude it takes to make this trip.) Hey, I’m just being honest about the kind of person I am. (The kind who is too lazy to get on the streetcar for twenty minutes. Whatever, I put off making an exchange at Topshop until the literal last day because I loathe the Eaton Centre so deeply.)

In between my review of the Magic Foundation and my decision not to return it, I did something silly: I purchased another foundation (with Optimum points). Yes, I, the person who has steadfastly refused to own more than one foundation at a time, now own three. I ended up picking up NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation, which I chose over Sheer Glow because it swatched better on the back of my hand. Solid decision-making skills.

It’s probably no surprise that I got the lightest shade in the range, Siberia, which is a fair, cool yellow. Between this and the Magic Foundation I’m coming to realize that cool yellows are actually a better match for me than pink-based colours as I’d previously thought. Anyway, I know that finding fair foundation can be a struggle, and it’s worth explicitly noting that these undertones are definitely yellow, so if you’re definitely not yellow, I’d watch out for that.

The texture of this foundation is very interesting to me. It’s thin and watery, which is my preferred texture. Whereas the Magic Foundation stays in a stiff peak when pumped out, the All Day Luminous Weightless foundation begins to spread on the back of my hand immediately. It’s even more watery than some of my favourites, MUFE Ultra HD and Revlon Nearly Naked (RIP). One pump delivers very little product; while I’m normally a one-pump kinda gal when it comes to foundation (seriously, how do YouTubers apply like four pumps of product to ONE face?), I need two pumps of this to cover my entire face.

NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation in Siberia texture

One pump of NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation after it’s spread out a little on the back of my hand. Like I said, not much comes out.

That said, this foundation is very spreadable. I’ve never noticed that particular quality in a foundation before, but here you can see the part of my face that I’ve managed to cover by dipping my blending sponge into the product a single time:

NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation in Siberia half on

In case you can’t tell, that’s my left cheek (right in the picture) and my chin. With the tiniest amount of product! Two pumps of this gives me enough to cover my whole face one and go over a few select areas where I prefer slightly more coverage.

The “weightless” part of the name definitely holds true for me: this foundation not only looks thin, it feels thin. I’m not someone who’s super sensitive to the feeling of product on my skin, but this is one of the least noticeable foundations I’ve tried in terms of sensory issues. It’s not tacky to the touch like Rimmel Lasting Finish 25H.

I also think it’s pretty luminous. Here’s the finish I get with it after lightly dusting loose powder all over my face:

NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation in Siberia on the skin

By the way, in this picture all I have on besides the foundation is brow product. On this particular day I opted not to use concealer on my post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation because I thought the foundation did a good job covering it.

One of the first times I wore this out of the house during the testing phase, I went to a Shoppers Beauty Boutique and the woman working there said my skin looked beautiful and glowy and asked what I was wearing, so that’s nice! Despite its luminosity, this foundation feels like it sets quickly and well, which brings me to the last point in its (long, adjective-filled) name.

Does the All Day Luminous Weightless foundation actually last all day? Well, I guess that depends on how you define “all day”. In my experience it reaches the eight hour mark very admirably. After that it breaks down a bit on my nose, which happens to literally every foundation I’ve ever tried because my nose is the only place on my body that produces oil. However, it does wear really well overall; as I always mention, I put my foundations through a lot because I work retail and usually have my makeup on for a good 10+ hours – which includes a lot of running around – before washing it off. So, it basically lasts as long as I would wear it, which is technically “all day”, but not, say, a full 24 hours, which the Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner does. Semantics, I know.

Here’s an “after” shot I took the other day – this was after only about 5 hours of wear because I was starting to lose my light (I HATE WINTER!!!), but those 5 hours did include the aforementioned Eaton Centre trip, which had me sweating like a pig because they really crank up the heating in there. (Yet another reason not to go there.)

NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation in Siberia wear

Random black cheek flakes notwithstanding, I think it’s done a good job here, and I can confirm that it basically looks like this at the end of the day minus my nose. I mean, my nose is still there, but the foundation isn’t. (Also, sorry about the lighting. Like I said, the sun was already starting to set and I’m still learning how to use my new camera!)

Now, this is not a super easy-peasy, slap it on and go product. As with the Magic Foundation, I’ve found that the All Day Luminous Weightless foundation far in a way does best with a damp sponge. On a brush it does make my forehead look pretty dry. Again, someone with combo/oily skin might not have this problem, but I’m assuming that a luminous foundation is formulated more for dryer skin types. I also find it looks better when set lightly with a loose powder as opposed to a thicker pressed powder such as Rimmel Stay Matte.

So, yes, this foundation is a bit fussy. And the reason I really liked MUFE Ultra HD is that it wasn’t fussy. It looks good applied any which way (with basically any brush, with a damp sponge, with my fingers) and it can be set with anything. But ultimately I like the finish and lasting power of the All Day Luminous Weightless foundation better, so it’s kind of a toss-up.

NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation in Siberia packaging

One thing I will say is that I fucking hate the rubberized cap. I know this is a common complaint with NARS products, but it gets messy so quickly, as you can see in the above picture. The first time I opened this foundation I accidentally untwisted the entire cap and foundation flew out everywhere (including my wall and jeans) and got all over the lid and now it is forever ugly. Sigh. At least it has a pump, though.

For those of you who were waiting, breath baited, for a really up-close picture of my chronically crusty nose, rejoice, for here it is:

NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation in Siberia nose

This foundation doesn’t glide over it perfectly, but it also doesn’t really make it look any worse (at least when applied with a damp sponge), so that’s fine. I’m not expecting miracles here, people; nothing can conquer the nose crust except a lot of oil.

Finally, a side-by-side comparison of my face with nothing on it but brows and moisturizer and my face with only foundation and brows:

NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation in Siberia before and after

There’s definitely a difference, and I think the finish is lovely. I’d recommend this if you want a medium-coverage, luminous but now dewy, fairly natural-looking foundation. If you have dry skin you’ll want to really understand that it is fussy (though worth the fuss, if fussy isn’t a total dealbreaker for you). If you’re on the combo to oily side you might get on with this foundation regardless of the name because it does wear well, but obviously I only have experience with my own dry skin.

As a bonus, I also picked up the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Chantilly (an even paler cool yellow). I don’t use it on blemishes because it’s too light for that (a novel problem!) and because I think putting a doe-foot applicator straight onto a zit and then back into the tube to fester with zit bacteria for months is gross, but it looks great under the eyes:

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Chantilly

Concealer under the right eye and nothing under the left. Obviously.

Is it worth $35 CAD? I don’t know, because that’s a lot of money and I haven’t really run it through the ringer yet. But I like it.

NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation retails for $59 CAD for 1oz/30mL of product, which obviously works out to $59 per oz or $1.97 per mL. NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer retails for $35 CAD for 0.22 oz/6mL of product, making it $159.09 per oz or $5.83 per mL. Both can be purchased at Sephora, Murale, or NARS counters.

Cold weather essentials

Posted on November 25, 2016 under Lists

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We had a very mild fall here in Toronto. Up until a week ago we had temperatures in the high teens and low twenties (Celcius) throughout, with a few nippy but not truly cold days here and there. And then everything changed and it became freezing, which is pretty much the way winter usually arrives here – that is, with no transition whatsoever.

I’m not a huge fan of winter. (That’s an understatement if I ever heard one.) The cold is one thing, but the wind, the prolonged darkness, and the ice are what really get me. Of course, as a lifelong Canadian, I’ve learned how to survive winter whether I enjoy it or not – and I have some indispensable things that I must have throughout these cold, blustery months. All of these things will be staples in my life until it finally starts getting warmer six months from now.

Skincare

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It’s probably the most obvious statement ever that skin needs more heavy-duty nourishment in the cold months. In the past few years my skin has become more normal due to a better skincare routine and a commitment to drinking a lot of water every day, but in the winter it tries its damnedest to banish all water and oil, so I have to be really diligent. I’m a big fan of using oils as moisturizer at night or on days when I’m not wearing makeup; I’ve recently been using The Ordinary’s 100% Organic Cold Pressed Moroccan Argan Oil, which was a steal at $6.80 CAD for 30mL (1oz).

I’ve also been loving the Origins Drink Up! Intensive Overnight Mask, which I purchased after hearing Allana Davison rave about it several times. Allana is a fellow dry-skinned Canadian, and because she lives in a way dryer climate than me I trusted that I’d like it. It’s $32 CAD for 100mL/3.4oz ($0.32 per mL/$9.41 per oz), which I think is a pretty fair price, especially considering the fact that a little bit goes a long way. I always wake up feeling nice and moisturized when I use this, and it helps keep the dreaded nose flakes at bay.

For my lips I could not be without the Nuxe Rêve de Miel Lip Balm. All the YouTube hype is real – it really is the best overnight lip balm. I’ve been using it for a year (so, all through last winter as well) and it keeps my lips in tip top condition. I often don’t even have to apply a lip balm during the day after using the stuff overnight!

Finally, I’m finding I have to kick my bodycare up a notch these days. Lotions just aren’t doing it for me. If my face is dry, my arms and legs are made of actual sandpaper. The Body Shop Coconut Body Butter is my body moisturizer of choice, and I’ve already stocked up on two more because I go through them like water. This one is thicker and more solid than any of the other Body Butters, I assume because coconut oil solidifies at room temperature. The coconut oil does wonders for the smoothness of my skin. I have keratosis pilaris and it’s not exactly a miracle product in that regard (generally the only thing that truly brings the KP down is a chemical exfoliant), but it really softens my skin. This is the only Body Butter I buy nowadays!

Clothes

cold-weather-clothes

Uniqlo opened in Toronto recently, and their Heattech Leggings are LEGIT. The first time I wore them under my jeans I was like, “WHY AM I BOILING HOT?” Then I realized! I’ve been a longtime lover of fleece-lined tights and leggings, but the Heattech fabric is way thinner and thus more efficient. When I wear them under my Topshop Joni Jeans (which are fairly thin and very tight and stretchy), they don’t look bulky or weird. Consider me a convert to the ways of Heattech!

Cool weather means I can finally bust out the shoes I like wearing instead of half-heartedly slipping on the same beat-up flats every day. I’m of the opinion that a good pair of boots can make a “meh” outfit amazing. My favourite pair? My Topshop Marbles Elastic Ankle Boots, my biggest fashion-related splurge of 2016. They’re so beautiful and versatile. I love them because, obviously, I can wear black ankle boots anywhere, but the shiny heel and accordion detail makes them a bit interesting. Sadly Topshop doesn’t sell these anymore, but they have a lot of great boots right now!

Beverages

cold-weather-drinks

I get cold super easily. If it gives you an idea of what I’m talking about, I sleep with a quilt even in the dead of summer and I never use a fan. If I drink my usual 750mL bottle of water during winter, I will not stop shivering for like fifteen years. So I turn to hot beverages to hydrate me, most notably peppermint tea. Unlike every other Canadian blogger, I’m not a huge fan of Davidstea – I like simple herbal teas, not fancy blends. But the travel mug I bought from them last winter is amazing and I’ve definitely used it enough to justify its price. It keeps tea warm for hours and hours, meaning I can bring it to work and sip whenever I have a chance and not have to worry about it cooling off. Plus, it’s really pretty. They don’t make my exact one anymore, but this one has the same features and looks similar.

When I fancy a sweet treat, I always go for Second Cup White Hot Chocolate. I’ve been popping into Second Cup to buy them since I was in middle school (so, a solid decade), and last winter I started buying the mix – it saves a lot of money and tastes just as delicious when mixed in with 2% milk. When it comes to real chocolate, dark is my favourite and I don’t like white, but there’s something about white hot chocolate that is so good.

Also, obviously I always drink my white hot chocolate out of my One Direction mug. Because I’m an adult.

mug

Etc

cold-weather-books

Flannel sheets (the backdrop to all these images) are obviously necessary when it gets cold – hey, I sleep with a quilt in the summer, so I really need to step it up a notch in the winter.

I’m a reader in general, but when it’s too cold to do anything I always tear through long, meaty novels. Pictured are two books I’ve read in this final quarter of 2016 – The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton and A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James, which you’ll see in my next Books Read post – and one that I read in the winter of 2015: The True and Splendid History of Harristown Sisters by Michelle Lovric. I’d highly recommend all three if you’re looking for something to sink your teeth into!

And that’s it for my cold weather essentials! None of these things will be too far from my side in the coming months.