Posted on March 11, 2018 under Reviews
When The Ordinary first launched their foundations, I was quick to snap up a bottle of the Serum, which I use regularly. The Coverage foundation didn’t interest me too much at the time, because I wasn’t sure if it would work for my skin type and I don’t tend to go for heavy coverage anyway. But back in October, my friend Aisling passed her bottle along to me, since it hadn’t worked out for her. (Lucky me, she bought hers in 1.1N, which is my match in the Serum foundation.)
As with the Serum foundation, the Coverage foundation boasts a variety of undertones but overall caters more heavily to light/medium skin tones. If you’re quite fair you may have luck with The Ordinary’s base products as the lightest shade, 1.0N, is legitimately very light. The darkest shade, 3.3N, is darker than what a lot of drugstore brands offer, but it’s still not terribly deep – and the variety of dark shades is lacking.
I find that my shade, 1.1N, is a bit darker in the Coverage than in the Serum, but both ultimately blend well into my skin. If you have a chance, it’s probably worth it to swatch this product even if you already have a match in the Serum, because the colours aren’t exactly the same.
Here are some comparison swatches:
L-R: The Ordinary Coverage Foundation in 1.1N, The Ordinary Serum Foundation in 1.1N, Rimmel BB Cream in Very Light, NARS All Day Luminous Weightless in Siberia, Urban Decay All Nighter in 0.5
Do keep in mind that my inner arm is a bit lighter than my face, so the colour discrepancy isn’t always as large as it appears in swatches. This definitely isn’t my most ideal shade match of all time, but as long as I blend it well it’s fine.
The Coverage foundation comes in the same small, no frills bottle as the Serum. The bottles are durable and travel-friendly and the pump is an obvious upside. (I also find this pump smooth and responsive, which wasn’t the case for the Serum.) The black pump does collect grimy-looking foundation splatters, but, well, for under 7 bucks I’m not going to complain. It’s unremarkable packaging, but I’m not sure it would be reasonable to expect much more at this price-point.
Application and Finish
Where my winter skin started to despise the Serum foundation, I found the Coverage foundation pleasantly emollient in comparison. I started using this foundation at the beginning of November, when my skin was at its driest, and throughout the winter it’s sat decently on my skin. I like applying this foundation best with a dense brush, but it works well with a sponge or fingers as well. I don’t recommend a stippling brush or one with floppier bristles – something stiffer blends this thicker foundation much better.
I get a natural finish and a solid medium coverage out of this foundation. “Coverage” seems to be a term used relative to the sheer coverage of the Serum: it definitely has coverage, but it’s not full like UD All Nighter and products of that ilk. (Nor do I want it to be!)
Here are some before and after shots (ft. a convenient breakout):
I apologize for the lighting change – these pictures were taken on a very volatile day weather-wise, so I couldn’t get a consistent light source. I haven’t applied any concealer in these photos (including under my eyes – that’s just the foundation). I built it up a little bit over the blemishes so you can see what type of coverage you can get with some layering. Unfortunately, building it does tend to lead to a bit of a heavy look on those areas. I find that it looks fine across my forehead and cheeks, though:
I don’t normally build this foundation up past one layer, which pretty much does away with that particular issue. I hardly ever put concealer on my zits these days, anyway. Personally I’d rather my skin look like skin, even if that means a bit of discolouration from a blemish is peeking through. That’s preferable to me over the look of a very thick, heavy foundation. That said, if you do like to build your foundation up and if you have a dryer skin type, this may not be ideal for you. It works pretty well the way I usually use it, though.
The first day I tried this foundation I thought it looked really heavy on my skin by the end of the day, but since then I’ve found it wears well. I was in Brighton with limited skincare when I tried it so I assume that’s why – when I use a nice moisturizer underneath, it looks perfectly reasonable by the end of the day. I wouldn’t say it’s miraculous, but it doesn’t underperform in terms of wear time. Here’s how it looked at the end of an eight-hour day last week:
When you look at the bigger picture, it looks totally fine, I think. It looks great on the forehead and cheeks. It’s when you get really nitpicky that you can start to see the wear:
The things I post on the internet…
Yeah, that nose situation is not great. I mean, it’s not disaster-level terrible, and I always assume my nose is going to look the worst by the end of the day. But not every foundation wears off like this – it could look a lot better. Like, I’m not going to not wear it because of this (obviously, since I’ve been regularly wearing it for months now), but I might not wear it if I know I have a really long day.
(By the way, the lipstick in these pictures is Marc Jacobs So Sofia. I have desperately been trying to manifest spring through my clothes and makeup. It’s been around 9 or 10 degrees Celsius over the past few days, so maybe it’s working…)
Other Things to Note
The Coverage foundation contains Titanium Dioxide, which is a physical SPF. In Europe this is advertised as SPF 15; elsewhere SPF is not mentioned on the packaging due to different regulations. However, the titanium dioxide does mean potential for flashback. SPF 15 is also quite low, and not a substitute for an actual facial sunscreen.
Both the Serum and Coverage foundations from The Ordinary are good, but not amazing. They perform adequately and I’m happy to use them both up. But I run into the same issues with both of them: there are certain parts of my face that they tend to cling to unflatteringly (though I can mitigate that with the Coverage foundation if I just don’t build it up), and the wear is okay but not great. I do offer this review of the Coverage foundation with the caveat that I haven’t had the opportunity to test it in warmer weather, when my skin isn’t quite so finnicky. If I were short on cash and really needed foundation, I’d be happy to pick this up again – but once I use it up I’ll probably move on to something else. I’m fine with it, but I’ve used better base products.
The Ordinary Coverage Foundation costs $6.70 CAD for 1 fl oz (30 mL). It can be purchased in Deciem stores as well as online.
Posted on March 04, 2018 under Books
I’ve decided to do a book post every two months instead of every quarter, because it can be hard to remember stuff I read three months ago when I’m compiling the posts. Also, I read a lot in the first two months of 2018, and I don’t want to make this post even longer by having to squeeze another month into it!
I need to read 2.5 books each month to make my goal of 30 by the end of the year, and I read 11 in January and February – so I’d say I’m doing pretty well! I definitely don’t expect to stay on this pace the whole year, but I think I can easily read 30.
So, here’s what I read in the first two months of 2018.
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
This book tells the story of the Lees, a mixed-race family living in Ohio in 1977. Their family is barely hanging together as a unit, and when the middle child, 16-year-old Lydia, is found dead in a lake, the family begins to crumble. I thought the characterization was so rich in this novel; though every character was flawed and made awful, hurtful mistakes, I felt deep sympathy for each of them. I was relieved that Lydia was well-developed through flashbacks, because I hate the trope of a female character dying to further other characters’ emotional development. I could feel how suffocated each character was – whether because of gender roles, racism, or the burden of expectation. I particularly enjoyed the mother, Marilyn, who had dreamed of becoming a doctor before becoming pregnant and giving everything up for a life of housewifery. (Obviously, if you’ve been reading my book posts for some time, you’ll know that this is a general theme that interests me greatly.) Everything I Never Told You grapples with a lot of big themes – racism, patriarchy, homosexuality – but never feels overwrought or like an after school special. It’s powerful, but in a quiet way.
Women and Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard
This was a Christmas present from my friend Hayley, who clearly knows me well! This book comprises two essays based on lectures given by Mary Beard, a professor of Classics. She draws on ancient examples of men silencing and suppressing women in order to argue that, well… we maybe haven’t come as far as we’d like to believe. Women are still being silenced, our power undercut. Beard writes clearly and powerfully (heh), and the book is a quick, fiery, and enjoyable read. After reading quite a lot of popular feminist texts that are almost apologetic (and seem to always make #NotAllMen-type concessions), it’s refreshing to read one that is so unabashedly angry. However, for something subtitled “a manifesto”, I was hoping for just a little more in the way of a call to arms or action plan. Overall, two great essays executed well, though.
All The Pretty Little Horses by Mira Grant
Mira Grant’s Newsflesh series is one of my favourites ever – they’re political thrillers set in a world ravaged by zombies, and each novel gets progressively more twisty and insane (in the best possible way). All The Pretty Little Horses is a prequel novella, set in the early days of the apocalypse. It follows the parents of our Newsflesh protagonists as they establish themselves as survivalist heroes in the terrifying new world. I was glad to get some of their backstory as they’re fairly two-dimensional in the main series, but ultimately it just wasn’t the most exciting read. Their children Georgia and Shaun make for much more compelling characters.
NW by Zadie Smith
This should have been right up my alley – I absolutely love multiple narrative strands and perspectives when done properly, and Zadie Smith’s first novel White Teeth was one of my favourite reads of 2017. I still really enjoyed Smith’s writing in this novel – her dialogue is excellent and her narration is always a bit cheeky, which I love. But not all of the characters are on equal footing – the character whose perspective starts the novel was off-putting and not very interesting. And the end was pretty anticlimactic. I can’t deny that Smith’s prose is wonderful, but this just didn’t have the same emotional impact as White Teeth. I’m really glad I didn’t start with NW, because I might not have felt compelled to pick up any of her other work.
Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
The premise for this book is absolutely delicious! It’s billed as a retelling of Snow White, with the improbably-named Boy Novak as our protagonist. It’s 1953, and Boy flees from her abusive father, settling in a small town in Massachusetts. She marries into a wealthy family – and it seems that she loves her husband’s charming, precocious daughter, Snow, more than her husband. But when Boy gives birth to her own daughter, Bird, it becomes clear that her husband is black, passing as white, and suddenly Boy can’t stand Snow. It’s a fascinating idea and I can’t fault Oyeyemi’s writing. However, the marketing is a bit off; this isn’t really a fairytale retelling. And there’s a twist at the end that’s just… very insensitive and tasteless, really. I won’t spoil it, but if you’re interested many Goodreads reviewers go over it.
The Muse by Jessie Burton
I’ve been trying to get my hands on Burton’s first novel, The Miniaturist, for literal years, but it’s never in stock at my local independent bookstore or at Chapters. I decided to settle for The Muse on my most recent Chapters trip, and I’m damn glad I did. This book was tailor-made for me, really: it involves multiple intersecting narratives and art-related deception and intrigue. One narrative follows Trinidad-born Odelle Bastien in 1967 London. Odelle has recently started administrative work at a prestigious art gallery, and coincidentally meets a man at a party who possesses a mysterious painting which sets Odelle’s boss, the enigmatic Marjorie Quick, on edge. The secondary narrative, of course, is that of the painting – a painting which has come to be under secret, dangerous circumstances in 1936 Spain, during the early days of the Spanish Civil War. This novel is exciting the whole way through – and though its twists aren’t fully-concealed (I did figure them out), it’s complex and fully-realized.
Hag-Seed: The Tempest Retold by Margaret Atwood
I’ve never read The Tempest, but I’m familiar enough with the plot that I followed this novel easily. It’s a revenge-plot-within-a-play-within-a-novel. After twelve years in exile, disgraced former theatre director Felix decides to get his revenge on those who wronged him. Felix has spent the past few years teaching Shakespeare to low-security prisoners in smalltown Southern Ontario. (I’m going to assume the town is a standin for Stratford, known for really leaning into the name and doing an annual Shakespeare festival – and also for being Justin Bieber’s hometown.) Felix decides to lure his enemies into the prison under the guise of watching his production of The Tempest, with the idea of executing his revenge plot during the staging of the play. It’s a quick read, very cleverly-adapted. I like the prison setting because it echoes a major theme of the play as well as of Atwood’s own novels. (Often, her characters find themselves literally or metaphorically imprisoned.) It also gives her the opportunity for a bit of social critique regarding the necessity of literacy and theatre programmes in prisons, though it integrates into the plot so well that it doesn’t feel heavy-handed. At times, Felix’s explanations of the themes of the play veered into “reading a lecture” territory, but overall it’s a great novel with a lot of payoff. (I was particularly delighted by the careful attention Atwood paid to naming her characters!)
Shrill: Notes From A Loud Woman by Lindy West
I’ve enjoyed Lindy West’s writing for years, and this compilation of personal/feminist essays was no exception. She’s a funny, unapologetic, and incredibly smart woman. I particularly liked the section of the book which focused on online trolling and the impact that’s had on her personally and professionally. The internet has given misogynists very loud voices, and part of patriarchal oppression in 2018 online abuse. (Mary Beard touches on this a lot in Women and Power, too!) A few of the essays were basically just West rehashing arguments she’d had with people with additional commentary, which I didn’t love, but generally it was a very strong book.
Notes on “Camp” by Susan Sontag
I recently discovered that Penguin publishes little volumes of seminal essays by famous writers, which they sell for the bargain price of £1 a piece. So… I bought six! I had been planning on reading “Notes on ‘Camp'” for my dissertation anyway, so this one was a no-brainer. This one actually includes both “Notes on ‘Camp'” and “One Culture and the New Sensibility”. “Notes on ‘Camp'” is obviously the more prominent essay, however, so I’ll focus on that. I really love Sontag’s writing: it’s so sharp without ever becoming jargon-y. Her descriptive language is beautiful, too. Unfortunately I had some major issues with the very premise of her definition of Camp. Namely, she marginalizes and downplays how interconnected Camp is to the formation and performance of LGBTQ identity and, bewilderingly, refers to Camp as “depoliticized – or at least apolitical”. I’ve always thought of Camp as inherently very political by its close association with the LGBTQ community and its resistance to the norms of dominant cultural values. This is still a beautifully-written, seminal essay, but those are some pretty major faults. (Which, it should be noted, later academics have refuted – Moe Meyer’s “Reclaiming the Camp” is notable here.)
Africa’s Tarnished Name by Chinua Achebe
This volume includes four of Achebe’s essays on postcolonial Africa, spanning from 1989 to 2008. The first essay focuses on Nigeria’s political climate; the second is about his experience travelling throughout Africa in the 1980s and the racism he experienced during that time. The last two essays are about the representation of Africa by the Western world. Though he doesn’t cite her, a lot of the issues he writes about mirror Spivak’s “Can the Subaltern Speak?” He writes so beautifully about colonial impositions of representations of Africa and links artistic representations of the continent (most notably Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness) to wider political, cultural, and economic contexts. Achebe’s writing is clear and powerful, and there are so many incredibly potent lines scattered throughout all four essays.
The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle The Master’s House by Audre Lorde
This book consists of five of Audre Lorde’s essays. The way she writes about harnessing anger at injustice into a productive force is so powerful and inspiring. Though the term intersectionality wasn’t coined until after these essays were written, she is such a strong advocate for perceiving the ways different identities work together. If you’re interested in her work I’d really recommend this one as an excellent starter. One of my favourite lines comes from the essay “Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism”: “Anger is a grief of distortions between peers, and its object is change.” Activists are so frequently told to be less emotional and less angry, and it is vital to acknowledge that anger can actually be a great resource in creating change.
And that is it for January and February. I’ll see you in two months for some more reviews!
Posted on February 27, 2018 under Thoughts
Despite the fact that I’m a film & TV grad student, those are topics which I pretty much never cover on my blog. Maybe it’s because it’s nice to keep my academic life and hobbies separate; after all, when I’m writing essays analyzing films I don’t necessarily want to do the same thing on my blog. As you may know, I don’t often watch films for fun. I sort of fell into film studies accidentally, and I’ve always been much more drawn to television narratives. So in that spirit, I thought I’d do a little roundup of some of the recent-ish Netflix content I’ve been consuming recently.
(There’s actually an ongoing academic debate regarding what TV even is anymore, when so much “television” is watched on non-television screens and consumed in a way that does not resemble traditional broadcast scheduling. Indeed, Netflix originals tend to be structured differently from conventional narrative television because the industry and streaming format is so different. But for lack of better terminology I consider Netflix content TV, though the specificity of Netflix as a medium is definitely worth exploring.)
FBI agent Holden Ford meets serial killer Ed Kemper
Netflix originals are generally created with binge-viewing in mind. The Netflix model has certainly changed how we view television, and carving out an entire weekend to watch the new season of OITNB is standard now. But that’s not how I watched the David Fincher-produced Mindhunter. It actually took me about six weeks to get through all ten episodes, as I watched one at a time, with several days in between. Maybe it’s because of the brutal subject matter, but I think part of it is just the pacing of the series as a whole. The first episode especially is noticeably slow.
Mindhunter is a fictionalized look at the creation of the serial killer psychological profile in the late 1970s. It follows FBI agents Holden Ford and Bill Tench, as well as criminologist Wendy Carr, as they interview convicted serial killers and assemble a common psychological profile which they use to help solve open cases. Like many, I’m deeply interested in the world of serial killers; perhaps it’s the dark idea that such violence can lurk in the human psyche, and perhaps a little bit of it is a sick, voyeuristic desire to understand the tragic fates of other women. So I was surprised when this series failed to hold my attention for more than an hour at a time. Certainly the subject matter is interesting – and the interviews Holden and Bill conduct are actually taken word-for-word from interviews the real killers gave, which adds a layer of almost unbearably dark fascination. But the pacing is odd, the characterization weak. The attempts to give Holden a personal life fell flat; I simply didn’t care about his strained relationship with his two-dimensional girlfriend Debbie.
And therein lies the other essential problem I can identify with this series – the lack of female voices. Aside from Debbie, the only female character is Dr. Carr, whose presence simply doesn’t make up for the overwhelmingly male perspective. (It feels like they were overcompensating with her, too, giving her the storyline of “lesbian who must remain closeted for the sake of her career” for no real purpose other than diversity points, I guess.) This feels like an unforgivable gap considering the subject matter. This is a series about men who torture and kill women for sport – how is it made almost entirely in the absence of the female perspective? Of course I understand that it’s about the psychological profile of serial killers – and that aspect of the series was fascinating. But if they had time to devote to Holden’s boring personal life, they could have made space for robust female characters.
I was really disappointed that I didn’t enjoy Mindhunter more. I’m really interested in serial killers and I love the 70s, but the characterization and utter lack of consideration of the female perspective made the whole thing fall flat. Even though it ended with a bang, I can’t say I’m particularly excited for the second season.
The End of the F***ing World
James and Alyssa flee a crime scene after burning their clothes
If you like black comedies, you will probably love this one – and the good news is that it consists of eight very short episodes. If you have two spare hours, congrats, you can watch this series in full! It’s about self-diagnosed teenage psychopath James and his rebellious, angry friend Alyssa. Alyssa, who has a difficult home life, convinces James to run away from their southern England town – and James sees an opportunity to fulfil his psychopathic tendencies by murdering Alyssa.
The murder that eventually does occur is surprising and equal parts satisfying and disturbing. The ensuing events are funny, grim, and touching. Alyssa is a really compelling character; she’s so damaged, her anger masking her neediness and abandonment issues. James’ backstory is a little bit trite, to be honest, but his character arc is still interesting. Still, despite the premise I find that James ultimately becomes a supporting character to Alyssa, which is a delicious reversal of the usual gender dynamics we see! Anyway, I really hope this series doesn’t get renewed for a second season, because it ended perfectly – yes, there’s a bit of a cliffhanger, but I don’t really think there’s enough meat for the plot to be extended. Sometimes only a few episodes are needed to tell a story, and this is one of those times. Ambiguous endings don’t always necessitate another season to clarify what happened… sometimes they should just remain ambiguous.
Grace Marks asks her master Thomas Kinnear a question about his painting
After really enjoying the Margaret Atwood novel of the same name, I took the plunge and watched the six-part Netflix series this month. For those who don’t know, this is a fictionalized version of the life of Grace Marks, an Irish-born maid in Toronto who was convicted of killing her master and his housekeeper. Not much is known about the real Grace, and the novel and Netflix series attempt to fill in the gaps, though the question of her guilt or innocence isn’t necessarily prioritized.
The series is a bit slow at first, but once it dives into the murder plot it’s delicious. It’s visually stunning; the costuming and set design are perfect, and I really love the dim lighting that’s used in many of the scenes. The footage often has a grainy, tactile quality that echoes analogue film. And some of the filming and framing techniques are really fascinating because they aren’t incredibly naturalistic. For example, there are a lot of quick shots from the murder punctuating present-day Grace’s conversation with psychiatrist Dr. Jordan, and there’s a sequence near the end of the series where the camera is positioned as spy, which feels overtly sinister. These shots are jarring because we’re watching historical fiction; the series is set in a time without video cameras, and so the reminder of the camera feels anachronistic. It’s very interesting!
Unfortunately, the acting is hit-or-miss; the actress who plays Grace is great (and, I think, does quite a good Irish accent for a Toronto native), but some of the supporting characters are a bit hammy. And Paul Gross, while a well-known Canadian actor whose inclusion in the series seems almost necessary by virtue of the gravitas he afforded himself with Passchendaele, has the worst Scottish accent I’ve ever heard. Seriously, I played a little clip from the show to my (Scottish) friends and they were like, “Is he supposed to be German?”
Despite Paul Gross borderline ruining the character of Kinnear with the godawful accent, I think it’s a very enjoyable series. It’s quick to get through – six 45-minute episodes are not a huge time commitment, and I think it’s pretty bingeable once you get past the slower first and second episodes. Onscreen Grace is as complex and well-developed as her novelistic counterpart, and the show is stylistically interesting. Worth a watch for fans of the book for sure!
It’s cool to see Netflix partnering with CBC for this series, since I doubt the chronically underfunded and threatened public broadcast institution could afford the production value the series clearly displays. I’m the first to say that the Canadian television landscape is pretty bleak (though shows like Schitt’s Creek and Letterkenny are slowly rehabilitating that image), and I think further partnerships like this would be amazing. It’d create jobs for Canadian talent and boost Canada’s cultural capital – worldwide release on Netflix is a far cry from local distribution on CTV. I see that there’s also a CBC-Netflix adaptation of Anne of Green Gables, which is great. More of this, please!
(By the way, a fun but irrelevant fact – Paul Gross is the father of Hannah Gross, who portrays the boring character Debbie in Mindhunter.)
Antoni, Tan, Bobby, Karamo, and Jonathan watch footage of makeover subject AJ’s party
Representation of LGBTQ people on TV usually comes with some considerable caveats, and the Queer Eye reboot (and, indeed, its network television predecessor) is no exception. The ability of the Fab Five to represent themselves as gay men hinges on the value they bring to straight men and to the institution of heterosexuality in general. Seven of the eight episodes revolve around making over straight men (and their homes) to make them more attractive to women. Some of the men have obvious love interests (an ex-wife who appears receptive to getting back together, a wife who is unhappy with the way her wedding went), and some are chronically single men who are made over in order to increase their value on the dating market. The Fab Five basically act as proxies for straight women, giving their opinions on what women will find appealing with a sense of authority lended to them by their affluent homosexuality.
The best episode of the series by far involves making over a semi-closeted gay man, who uses the confidence boost from the makeover to come out to his stepmother. It’s the most genuine episode precisely because he shares something intrinsic with the Fab Five, who can relate to his struggles and insecurities in a deeply meaningful way. It’s not that the other seven men don’t get a lot out of the experience (they frequently give emotional, sometimes tear-filled speeches at the end of the process), but there is a lot more emotional depth to the narrative “These confident, successful gay men helped me become comfortable in my sexuality” versus “A group of gay guys made my wife think I’m more attractive.”
Be warned if you watch this show – the third episode is just one big “yikes” moment the whole way through. It’s disheartening that the Fab Five are forced to make over a proud Trump-supporting cop, even more uncomfortable when they have to jokingly play off his political affiliation as something a bit passé rather than a direct threat to their livelihood. And making Karamo – who is Black – speak to the cop and basically agree that “it goes both ways” with regards to police brutality… well, that’s unfortunate. I mean, that’s just not a thing – there’s no comparison between distrust of police and institutionalized racism. The episode sadly taints the rest of the series since it makes its neoliberal assimilationist politics all too clear, sacrificing the safety of gay men for the comfort of the heterosexual gaze.
That said, the show pretty successfully traffics in feel-good emotion, and it’s genuinely heartwarming. Whether or not the changes imposed by the Fab Five will be long-lasting, we can’t know – but it’s good, light fun. Each cast member has a compelling, attractive personality and over the course of the series we begin to see the complexities of their personalities. There is no cast member who I dislike, although I tend to enjoy Karamo – who’s in charge of the vaguely-defined “Culture” – and Tan – the “Fashion” guy – the most. It’s a series that has several downfalls when watched with an even slightly critical eye, but LGBTQ representation so often is one of those “take what you can get” things and there are a lot of good moments peppered throughout the series.