Posted on June 24, 2016 under Reviews
I really like self-contained, do-it-all palettes. I know some people get annoyed having so many similar shades scattered across palettes, but I don’t like to have to hunt through multiple palettes or singles to be able to create one complete look. An ideal palette, for me, would have an off-white highlight shade, a light matte transition shade, and a medium matte crease shade along with many fancy, special colours. (I can do without a matte black.) Most of my palettes – the LORAC Pro, Stila In The Light, Naked 3 – have everything I need in one place.
But I have two palettes that I really, really like that just don’t work on their own: Stila Eyes are the Window – Spirit, and the iconic Wet N Wild Comfort Zone. These palettes are almost perfect for me. They’re both neutral with some twists. I don’t wear much in the way of truly bright shadows, but I like slightly interesting neutral to neutral-ish shades. Both palettes deliver these.
I will say that the Stila palette is slightly underwhelming when looked at as a whole. Some of the shades are a bit too similar, and the two matte shades, Chinois (an off-white) and Puppy (a light taupe), don’t have great colour payoff. There is no darker matte crease colour, and Puppy is light enough that it would either be a subtle transition shade on someone fair or just straight up not work in the crease at all on anyone darker than about a light-medium skin tone.
However, some of the shades in the palette are gorgeous and different from things I have in my more standard neutral palettes. In particular, I love the shades Jezebel (a very orange-y copper), Slate (a taupe-y grey with an almost duochrome-like quality; looks pure grey in the pan), Pewter (a grey-blue), and Pigalle (a medium burgundy). When I use this palette I’m mostly reaching for those colours, because I don’t have them in other palettes. (It is worth noting for interested parties that it does contain the beauty blogger staple Kitten, which I already own in the now-discontinued In The Light palette.)
The Wet N Wild Comfort Zone palette was a more recent purchase. I don’t often to go to Walmart (despite having one in the mall that’s a 10-minute walk from my house) so I’m able to resist the Wet N Wild hype most of the time. However, a few weeks ago I was in Walmart, and here we are now. To be honest, I bought it mainly for two shades, the right eyelid colour (which is somewhere between a lime and an olive, leaning more towards the olive side), and, of course, the blue-brown duochrome. To be honest, at $4.67 I won’t be mad if I only ever touch those two colours.
I also swatched a random shade from the left side of the palette for some reason.
Like the Stila palette, the Comfort Zone is not a standalone palette for me. It has a lot of gorgeous shades, but they’re all super shimmery, and there’s not much in the way of highlighting shades for my skintone. (That browbone shade on the left is quite a bit darker than my skin, though it would look lovely on other people, I’m sure!)
Enter the palette that fixes all “nice but not totally functional” palettes: Urban Decay Naked Basics. Like others, I do love Naked Basics for its extreme ease and its travel-friendliness. I’ve probably worn my go-to Naked Basics look (Venus all over the lid, Naked 2 in the crease, Faint on the outer corners) more times than any other look. And, obviously, its size and the durability of its packaging makes it an excellent contender for travel. But where it really shines for me is its ability to complete any look. It has all-over lid shades, a shimmery highlight shade, a transition shade, a deeper crease shade, and even a black. Barely a day goes by that I don’t at least use Naked 2, which is the perfect light transition/crease shade for my skintone.
When I first got this palette (a gift from Aisling, like many items in my makeup collection), it did not particularly excite me. But it’s proven to be an absolute workhorse. It makes all of my other palettes so much more usable as well as containing enough shades to make several of its own looks. Is it particularly thrilling? No, none of the colours are. But when paired with other palettes, especially those that aren’t complete in their own right, it’s practically indispensable. The Stila and Wet N Wild palettes make this utilitarian guy more exciting; Naked Basics makes palettes with a dearth of practical shades usable. They are perfect together.
There are two major downsides to the Naked Basics palette. First, I find the shades Foxy and Walk of Shame to be too similar; another brown would have made it that much more usable for me. As it is, I barely touch Foxy (I don’t like its yellow tone as much). Second, this is a palette that is more suited to fairer skintones. Naked 2, for example, would definitely not be anywhere close to a crease colour on many people, leaving only Faint (which is still pretty light, comparatively) or Crave (which is a straight-up black and not what everyone wants in their crease). The Naked 2 Basics seems to solve my first issue somewhat, but still skews a bit light. (Though less so!)
Sometimes it really is those boring products that get the most love. I don’t get excited when I look at this palette, but I use it every day and it’s automatically included in my travel makeup bag no matter what. Another lesson: I should probably stop buying palettes with funky colours just because they’re pretty. (That does not stop me from wanting the ABH Modern Renaissance palette with every bone in my body.)
Posted on June 13, 2016 under Reviews
I do not believe in paying a lot of money for mascara. This has been established several times over. Yet somehow I keep reviewing high end mascara. Actually, not “somehow”. Mascara is one of the things, along with moisturizer and sunscreen, that people practically throw at you when you work in cosmetics. I have not spent a single cent on mascara since the fall of 2013. I haven’t even picked out my own mascara since then; I’ve just been using samples, gifts, things I get through work.
Well, the other week I went to Murale to spend my Optimum points (more on that later, I’m sure), and all that changed. I wasn’t expecting to buy mascara, because I just busted open a tube of Clarins Truly Waterproof and I have two backups of Lancôme Hypnôse Star, but, well, I wasn’t anticipating Yves Saint Laurent Volume Effet Faux Cils Mascara in Bleu Majorelle.
Seeing the colour was enough to make me stop in my tracks. I read the shade name and shoved a tube in my basket immediately. I mean, it’s not a surprise that YSL would have a mascara called Bleu Majorelle; they already have the nail polish, after all, and Actual Human Yves Saint Laurent was a patron of the Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech. I know this! And yet – there I was, blown away by the name of this mascara. (For those of you who are new, this particular shade of electric blue is my absolute favourite colour in the world, and I truly fell in love with it when I visited the Jardin Majorelle in early 2015.)
So, first mascara I’ve purchased in almost three years. (With points; even I wouldn’t spent $37 on a Bleu Majorelle mascara. PROBABLY.) Is it actually any good?
In short, it’s decent. Not amazing, but good. It gives fantastic length and definitely lives up to the “effet faux cils” name (I mean, as much as a mascara can, I’ve never seen a mascara that literally looks like false lashes). I’ve found it very buildable and non-clumpy. This ticks all the boxes for me – if a mascara doesn’t clump and gives me good length, I’ll probably like it.
But what is missing from this description? The colour, of course. Because the colour doesn’t show up that well on me, and I’m not sure if it’s because of the mascara itself or because my eyelashes are naturally pretty dark. I will say that the blue is much more visible on the ends of my lashes, which are much lighter, so it could be that. A cursory browse through Google images seems to suggest that the blue in the Vinyl Couture mascara line is perhaps more visibly blue, but then, I’m not sure how dark all these random Google images people’s lashes are to begin with, which would be useful information.
My best luck so far with this mascara is loading up an angled brush with the product and using it as an eyeliner. It helps make the blue lashes pop more and, once dried, does hold fast without transferring. (A solid feat on my eyelids!) However, it requires several layers and a bit of finagling to build it up, and it still has a tendency to look a bit patchy – probably because it is not, in fact, an eyeliner. I finished off this eye look with a healthy dose of the Annabelle Khol Eyeliner in Lapis in the waterline, which is pretty much the perfect encapsulation of bleu Majorelle from an oft-overlooked Canadian brand.
I paired this look with peach, for contrast: Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Luminous Flush on the cheeks, NARS Audacious Lipstick in Brigitte (another Murale score) on the lips.
When I wore this eye makeup to work I did get a lot of compliments about “the blue”, but I’m not sure if people were noticing the lashes or just the liner.
I’m going to go ahead and assume that someone with fairer lashes will probably notice a more striking effect with this particular colour than me. However, colour aside, I am quite impressed with the Volume Effet Faux Cils mascara – enough that I might spend my precious points on a tube of the black, but, as always, not enough to lay down cold hard cash for it. I’m a bit disappointed in the colour payoff, but in my obsession with this colour I have come to expect disappointment.
Yves Saint Laurent Volume Effet Faux Cils Mascara in Bleu Majorelle retails for $37 CAD for 0.23 fl oz, or $160.90 per fl oz.
Posted on June 10, 2016 under Life
Technically my degree was granted on May 26, according to online records, but it somehow didn’t feel official until I crossed the stage on Tuesday. I can now officially say that after four years of hard work, I am the proud owner of a BA in Cultural Studies from one of Canada’s top universities. (Normally I’m really not one to brag about my school, but I guess this is the right occasion to say, hey, I did something cool.)
Somehow this is not exciting as actually receiving a piece of paper.
My uncle works as the editor of my university’s official newspaper, and he was on the job photographing the convocation ceremonies all week. This means that I have some really nice, high quality photos that he took! All in a day’s work, right? Anyway, here is a small picture dump:
I knew I was going to regret wearing these shoes and yet I wore them anyway. I have a degree and yet apparently no common sense! By the end of the morning when I had to return my robe and hood to the bookstore I was practically hobbling along. Shoes are from Forever 21 last year and I love them dearly for their borderline ugliness. Not so much for the comfort factor.
When I decided to do my hair like this I wasn’t expecting it to work so well with the mortarboard! I wore my hair like this to work the other day and got so many compliments and questions (mainly “Is that your real hair?”), but it’s actually really easy to do. I just did a deep part and dutch braided each side all the way around the back, braided the remainder of my hair down to the end, and pinned it to the back of my head. Simple if you can braid decently, and great for short hair.
The whole ceremony was filmed and my dad made a little edit of it with the best parts. (You know, the 15 seconds total out of 2 hours that I’m visible.) This was my favourite part! (I was waving at my mom and uncle, who were sitting right next to the camera.)
I refused to wear the mortarboard in most of my posed photos because it’s ugly and it hid my hair. But these photos make me look more like a graduate, I suppose.
As for my actual dress, I didn’t manage to get a single decent photo of it, but here it is peeking out from under my robe. I knew when I began to search for a graduation dress that I wanted something cobalt – not only because it’s my favourite colour of all time but because my high school graduation dress and prom dress were both that colour. I finally found this one from Lulus and was very happy with it!
My dad’s side is very formally educated (lots of law degrees and a PhD), but on my mom’s side I’m the first of my generation to get a degree. Out of my maternal blood relatives, I’m only the second ever – one of my uncles has a BA, and that’s it. So this is a pretty big deal, and I was so lucky to have one of my uncles attend to the ceremony (with the other there to take pictures). Most of my mom’s side also came out for a lovely dinner to celebrate. (And so did my former roommate, who might be reading this and who is amazing!) I truly feel so lucky to have had such supportive family and friends throughout my degree – in this last year especially I don’t know what I would have done without my parents, grandparents, uncles, and friends – especially my roommate, who was such great company over the course of a year that was intense and stressful, for reasons academic and personal.
As I’ve noted here before, I absolutely love school and fully intend to continue on with it. I did mentioned awhile back that I’ve opted to defer grad school for a year mainly for financial reasons. I’m a bit sad about it as I genuinely love school and was so excited to go back to Scotland, but I’m going to enjoy having a year to focus on other things – I haven’t had more than a few months off since 1998, and I want to make the most of it.