Onwards with the inventory series! Today I’m doing highlighter, bronzer, and contour products all in one, since I don’t have enough of the latter two categories to warrant their own posts. As always, I’ve linked to full reviews where they exist.
Whoever led me to believe that the ELF Illuminating Palettes were good should be JAILED, because they are TERRIBLE. I am so heated about this that I am in caps lock mode. You’ll be able to see better in the swatches below, but they have basically no payoff at all and are powdery and dry-looking. I’m on board with a subtle highlight, but these are just bad.
Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Moonstone was my first highlighter purchase, and it’s one of my favourites. It’s the perfect light champagne shade for my fair skin, and though it packs a punch it’s not glittery or chunky. I don’t always want a highlight this in-your-face, but it’s beautiful for those moments. The SSP in Opal is most talked-about, but if you’re on the fairer side check out Moonstone – it gives pretty much the same effect but is more suited for fair to light skintones.
I really enjoy the peachy-pink glow of my Hourglass Ambient Strobe Lighting Powder in Iridescent. However, all in all I think this is a pretty standard highlighter, and I was expecting more of Hourglass. As the world’s biggest Ambient Lighting Blush fan, I yearned for them to do a proper highlighter for ages, so of course I was first in line to buy one when they launched. I do think this is a nice powder – finely-milled, soft, and glowy without being glittery – but I was kind of expecting them to revolutionize the highlighting game. I enjoy the one I have but I won’t buy another.
The first four swatches are the ELF highlighters, but you can’t even see the first three because THEY ARE SO BAD. After those we have Becca Moonstone and Hourglass Iridescent.
I much prefer powder over cream when it comes to blush, but with highlighter it’s the opposite. It’s partially the ease of swiping on a cream product and partially the finish creams tend to give. Powder highlighters are usually more intense, whereas creams are slightly toned-down and melt into the skin better.
The Topshop Glow Highlighter in Polished is probably my favourite highlighter ever: it gives an intense, pearly glow that is downright otherworldly. It’s a statement highlight, but I love it. I own nothing else remotely like this.
Glossier Haloscope in Quartz was my first exposure to stick highlighter, and it could not have been a better one. This is an incredibly emollient formula which looks almost glazed on the skin. It can be applied directly from the stick and blended in with the fingers with minimal effort. It’s super pretty and just how I like my highlight to look: present but not over-the-top.
I wasn’t expecting much from the new-ish Revlon PhotoReady InstaFix Highlighter Stick in Pink Light, but I do like it. It has a dryer texture than the Glossier Haloscope by far, so I like to apply it by rubbing my finger in the product and then tapping it onto my face. It also doesn’t blend as easily, but it doesn’t require excessive elbow grease by any means. It gives a very nice, borderline metallic pink highlight. They do make one in a champagne shade as well, but champagne highlighters are a dime a dozen and I do find something more pink-based quite flattering on my skintone. My only major complaint about this product is that it costs $23 in Canadian drugstores. Like… what? DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT THE DRUGSTORE IS, REVLON????
Finally, the newest addition to my highlighter collection, Vichy Teint Idéal Highlighter. This is a liquid product which is applied via rollerball. It’s a very thin, sheer, almost white-based formula which doesn’t add much colour to the face but which gives a glorious wet look. I got this at a Vichy brand training and wasn’t expecting to enjoy it, but it’s quickly becoming one of my favourites. It’s easy to apply straight from the tube, blends in easily with the fingers, and looks stunning on the skin. I’d definitely recommend this one if you want a wet-look highlighter!
L-R: Topshop Polished, Glossier Quartz, Revlon Pink Light, Vichy Teint Idéal.
Bronzer & Contour
I only ever have one bronzer at a time because it’s not a product type which I use heavily. Currently I have the Physician’s Formula Butter Bronzer in Light Bronzer, which is a good option for fair skin. I find this slightly warmer than the lightest shade of The Body Shop Honey Bronzer, for reference, but it still works fine on my skin. I’m not a bronzer connoisseur so I don’t have much to compare it to, but it’s nice. I don’t know that it’s necessarily worthy of the raves it got on YouTube when it first launched, because it doesn’t seem like anything special to me, but what do I know about bronzer? Not much! Oh, I also really dislike the strong artificial coconut scent, but that seems to be one of its drawing points for many people.
I love love love my Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder in Light for contour. It’s not too ashy but not warm by any means, and the depth and shade work very well on my colouring. This is a pricey little guy, but so far I have no regrets about this purchase.
L-R: Physician’s Formula, Kevyn Aucoin
Obviously, I’m very happy with the state of my bronzer and contour stash – I have one product to fulfill each of those functions, which is exactly what I need. I think my highlighter collection is a tiny bit excessive for someone who isn’t a highlighter fanatic, but it’s under control. I don’t see myself acquiring more products in any of these categories, at least not for quite some time.
Okay, I’ll be frank with you right off the bat. I have four foundations and that stresses me out. Up until, like, six months ago, I was a strictly one foundation kind of gal. I went through a bottle every six months and liked to feel like I could use my product up before it went bad. But then a lot of things happened and I ended up buying more foundation than I ever needed. But my concealer, primer, and powder is under control, so there’s that.
The only primer I have a deluxe sample size of the Paul and Joe Illuminating Primer. Usually I use it mixed into foundation instead of as a primer. It’s alright, but I won’t repurchase it or a similar product when I run out. So far I haven’t found a primer that does a damn thing for me!
NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation in Siberia: I have always maintained that this is a finnicky foundation which gives a very nice finish on my skin. However, in the last month or so my skin has stopped liking this product as much. I’m not sure why – I’m not any dryer than normal. I have been liking it mixed with other foundations, though, so that’s how I’m soldiering on with it. I’m sad, though, that some unknown force abruptly changed how this foundation worked for me, because it was going well for a good while.
Maybelline Fit Me Matte and Poreless Foundation in 110: This is a thin, watery formula that dries to a matte, powder finish. Though I’m normal to dry, this works decently on my skin. I don’t know that somebody who is truly dry would enjoy it very much. What I really like about this is the shade: it’s more yellow-toned than pink (which can be hard to find in fair foundations) and it’s the palest foundation I own. It’s definitely the best shade match I’ve found at the drugstore. I think this is a really great affordable foundation option for those with normal to combination skin. It’s not amazing, but in a world where L’Oreal wants me to pay $22 for their foundation I’m down to spend $10.99 on this one. (It goes on sale for $5.99 and $6.99 frequently, too!)
Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Foundation in Y210: I am a big fan of this foundation. It gives a medium, natural-looking coverage and it works on my skin throughout the year. I don’t have to fuss with it or mix it to make it work; I can apply it with my hands, multiple brushes, and a sponge; it’s just a no brainer for me. The shade Y210 is my best foundation match out of anything I’ve ever tried.
The Ordinary Colours Serum Foundation in 1.1N: I appreciate this foundation quite a lot. Because of its lightweight texture it’s great for casual, minimal makeup days. It applies easily just like the MUFE Ultra HD. It feels comfortable on the skin and it’s a good colour match for me, too. Staying power isn’t excellent, so I keep this one on reserve for times when I don’t have a full day of wear ahead of me.
Recycling this picture from my Serum Foundation review, for reference:
L-R: The Ordinary Serum Foundation in 1.1N, Make Up For Ever Ultra HD in Y215, Make Up For Ever Ultra HD in R210 (my old shade), NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation in Siberia, and Maybelline Fit Me Matte and Poreless in 110. This picture is slightly underexposed.
NYX Color Correcting Palette: I bought this because I needed a good salmon-toned corrector to help conceal my eyebrows for Halloween. It did the job, but I don’t really care for the product otherwise. The salmon colour does actually do a great job hiding undereye circles, but it creases quickly and doesn’t layer well under concealer. I’ve used the green a few times too on angry red blemishes and I just felt like I had to layer on more concealer on top to get rid of the green cast.
NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Chantilly: I’m not really sure about the name of this concealer, because I get a distinctly matte finish. It covers and brightens my undereyes like nothing else, but it does look quite dry after a few hours of wear. It’s a touch too light to use on the rest of my face. I’m glad I indulged my curiosity, because I know that I will not require a $36 concealer every 6 months.
Maybelline Master Conceal in Fair: I really like this concealer; it has good coverage, it’s blendable, and it lasts well on my skin. It works underneath my eyes and on zits. The colour is slightly pinker than my skintone, but once it’s blended in the discrepancy is not noticeable. I also really like the squeeze-tube packaging; I hate using doe-foot applicators on my blemishes because I think it’s unsanitary and just plain gross.
This loose powder bears absolutely no clues as to its origin, but I think it’s quite nice. I like to use this with my more satin-to-matte foundations and just dust it loosely across my t-zone. When I want to really set and mattify I use the Rimmel Stay Matte Powder in Translucent. I don’t go through powder quickly so it’ll be some time before I’m done this one; I’ve had it for around a year at this point with no sign of pan at all. I think it’s a pretty nice powder, but I’ll move on when I do finally use it up. I’d like to use something a bit creamier and with sturdier packaging. The Stay Matte packaging could not be worse if Rimmel tried.
I have a feeling I’ll be halving my foundation collection before I move in September, but I think in terms of the other categories of base products I’m doing pretty well. My next inventory post will be something a bit more interesting; I just wanted to get this boring one out of the way!
I’m getting to the point where I’m close enough to moving across the ocean that the metaphorical weight of all of my possessions is becoming rather burdensome. I’m itching to divest myself of material goods. I have a bin I’ve been filling up with clothes as I realize I no longer want them; there’s a makeup bag sitting on my vanity that serves the same purpose. I’m becoming rather ruthless by my standards.
I’ve actually been thinning out my nail polish since September, because it takes some time to really put your polishes to the test. I usually change my manicure once a week, so when I counted up my stash and realized I had 41 bottles of the stuff, I knew I’d have to start early.
I have never considered myself a nail polish person. I tend to purchase it on whims and never hem and haw over a $10.99 bottle of Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure the way I do over a $10.99 Maybelline lipstick.
Now, I suppose I am a nail polish person in some ways. I vividly remember sitting in the back of a grade 11 biology presentation and painting my nails out of sheer boredom. (I had a brief fever dream of becoming a paleontologist, and it took about half a biology lesson to talk me out of that one.) Since then I’ve scarcely been without painted nails; I’d estimate that since late 2010 I’ve gone maybe 15 days with bare nails. I began religiously painting my nails months before mascara ever touched my eyelashes and two and a half years before I got into makeup in any real capacity.
But I’m not the type of person who tracks new nail polish launches, knows about indie brands, can justify luxury nail polish purchases, or can name ten dupes for any given nail polish colour. I just think having colours on my nails is fun. Yet for a fairly casual nail polish wearer I think I have a lot of nail polish.
When it comes to moving, I view nail polish as one of the most frivolous things I could bring with me, a staple though it may be in my life, and so I’ve committed to decreasing my collection significantly. My goal was for everything to fit into my two acrylic nail polish holders (each of which holds 15 polishes) with no overflow. I think ideally I’d like fewer than 30 polishes, but that’s a good, practical place to start.
The mighty stash, before.
My first step was to cull everything I knew I didn’t like enough to even try on, which did not yield the most fruitful results. The second step was to test every polish I owned. This process took me a good 7 months. I used coloured dot stickers to designate each polish I tried as a for sure keeper (green), a for sure purge (red), or undecided (yellow). Once I finished this first round of testing I removed all the red dot items from my acrylic holders and found that everything fit much better, with minimal overflow.
Then I tested out all of my yellow dot items. I designated most of these polishes this way because I didn’t love them but still didn’t want to get rid of them for whatever reason. A few were given yellow stickers because I thought I had dupes for them within my collection, in which case I tried one on each hand and kept the best one.
In the end I got rid of 21 polishes. I did buy three more during this time period (with one gifted to me on top of that), but I tried to curb my nail polish buying significantly. I now have a total of 25 polishes, one base coat, and one top coat.
Here’s what I got rid of:
Stuff I just plain didn’t like: two polishes from the long-discontinued Wet N Wild Fergie collection, in Dutchess and Tonight’s Gonna Be A Good Night.
Things that are getting old: YSL Bleu Majorelle, Essie Cocktail Bling, Wet N Wild Party of Five Glitters, Orly Go Deeper, Joe Fresh Mist, Joe Fresh Oyster.
Colours I don’t like: Misslyn Rose Sublime (thought it was going to be more of a dusty mauve), Essie Bahama Mama (looks more wine than purply-berry on my nails), Sally Hansen Pucker Up (I never wear red nail polish), Essie Tart Deco (I tend to stick to cooler colours), Revlon Chroma Chameleon in Topaz, Nicole by OPI A Million Sparkles, Sally Hansen Grape Shifter, Sally Hansen Carnival.
Colours that are close to things I like better: Sally Hansen Coin Flip (I prefer a more white gold), Sally Hansen Wined Up (I only wear wine nails around the holidays), China Glaze Merry Berry (ditto). I’m also tossing my bottles of Seche Vite and Essence The Gel Nail Polish Top Coat because I like the Sally Hansen Miracle Gel top coat better than either.
Here’s a quick look at what I’m keeping – you’ll see that I really meant it when I said I like cool colours on my nails.
Revlon Parfumerie Scented Nail Enamel in Bordeaux (does kind of smell like wine); Sally Hansen Gem Crush Nail Colour in Lady Luck; Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Rosy Outlook.
Barry M Gelly Hi-Shine Nail Paint in Kiwi; L’Oreal Color Riche Le Vernis A L’Huile in Vert Époque; Barry M Gelly Hi-Shine Nail Paint in Sugar Apple; Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Barracuda; Sally Hansen Miracle Gel in Let’s Get Digital; Deborah Lippmann Mermaid’s Eyes; Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Sugar Fix.
Sally Hansen Hard As Nails Xtreme Wear Nail Polish in Pacific Blue (x4, because I’m a freak); Barry M Gelly Hi-Shine Nail Paint in Damson; Sally Hansen Miracle Gel in Byte Blue. YES I HAVE A PROBLEM.
Sally Hansen Miracle Gel in Midnight Mod; Orly Nail Lacquer in After Party; Essie Play Date; Sally Hansen Miracle Gel in All Chalked Up.
Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Gilty Party; Lancôme Nail Polish in 003; Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Blush Over Hue; Beauty UK Nails in Black Out; Sally Hansen Hard As Nails Xtreme Wear in White On.
And my standard base and topcoat duo: Witchcraft Be Strong, which helps prevent my nails from peeling, and Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat.
And here’s how I’m going to keep my collection under control:
- No more buying nail polish on a whim. The same care and research should go into buying it as I put into buying makeup.
- No more buying near-dupes of Sally Hansen Pacific Blue which I know will never live up to the original. You know what, I will spend $30 on a bottle from Ebay because I know it’s the only thing I will ever love!!!!
- No more buying Essie polishes. They have some beautiful colours and always have stunning seasonal collections, but I just never get on with them. I’ll use the ones I do have because I like the colours, but I have to stop myself from buying more no matter how alluring the colours!
- In that vein, buy only from lines that I know and trust. My favourite nail polish formulas are Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure, Sally Hansen Miracle Gel, and Barry M Nail Gelees. Those lines have enough colours to keep me covered and I know I love the formulas.
- NO MORE GLITTER POLISH! It’s always disappointing and more trouble than it’s worth in both application and removal.
Anyway, I reduced my nail polish collection by 40%, which I think is a pretty good amount. I really can’t see any clutter in what I’ve kept, aside from the fact that I own four bottles of Sally Hansen Pacific Blue, all of which are necessary.