Posted on February 06, 2018 under Lists
It’s been quite some time since I shared what skincare I’m using, so I thought I’d do a bit of a skincare update. I’m still working my way through the backlog of gratis from my days working in cosmetics; as a result, there are some items in this post that aren’t utter favourites. But I think lukewarm to negative reviews are very useful, so why not include them?
As always, my skin is normal to dry, leaning dryer at this time of year. (Actually, most of my face has settled down from the transition in seasons – it’s only my nose that is still parched.) I usually only break out hormonally, and I do have fairly persistent hyperpigmentation which follows blemishes long after they die. I focus on hydration and acid toning in my skincare. I probably do my full skincare routine about 95% of the time. I never go to bed without washing my face and slapping on some night cream or an oil, but I can’t think of the last time I skipped a step – maybe in somewhere in the Christmas madness.
Here’s what my skin looks like without makeup. These pictures were taken at the end of January, when I was recovering from a stress breakout. (80% healed now, I’d say.)
I sometimes have closed comedones on my forehead and I get the occasionally random zit there, but it’s usually clear. It’s hard to tell in this picture but at this time a rare blemish was in the final stages of healing.
It can be hard to tell the difference between freckles and hyperpigmentation, but there are a few healing blemishes around the centre of my face here, which is rare for me. The ones on the left side of my chin are more standard – I always have either an active breakout or hyperpigmentation there. Despite the fact that my most recent breakout was larger than normal, this is pretty much the best my skin will be: by the time the hyperpigmentation starts to fade, a new zit will find a home on my face. Skincare really helps mitigate the length and scope of my breakouts, but, like 99% of people on this planet, my skin will never be totally blemish-free.
By the way, usually my zits aren’t too bad, but I do have the really bad habit of picking them, and sometimes they’re monsters to begin with, and the combination sometimes results in disasters.
I also occasionally have a bit of blotchy redness at the bottom of my cheeks. This tends to be more pronounced in hotter weather, so it’s not very noticeable right now at all. I don’t generally have very sensitive skin, but some skincare also exacerbates this redness.
Finally, I think it’s essential to note that, while skincare is a really great tool to address various concerns, a lot of “good skin” is genetic. I’ve never had particularly problematic skin; even at the peak of my teenage breakouts (age 14-15) I was doing okay. I hope it’s obvious that I’m not saying this to brag, just to be realistic about the results my skincare routine can actually achieve.
Gratis received through work will be marked with an asterisk, as always.
In the morning, I like to keep things pretty simple – I prefer not to rush through my morning routine but also like to maximize on my sleep, so there’s a delicate balancing act! If my face feels quite dry I don’t bother washing it; if not, I use a light cream or gel cleanser. Currently I’m using the Avène 3-in-1 makeup remover*, which does an okay job at gentle cleansing but which I do find leaves a sticky residue if I don’t wash it off vigilantly. My favourite cleanser for this purpose is the Marcelle Ultra Gentle Cleansing Gel. It’s gentle but efficient and doesn’t strip the skin or leave a residue. And it’s only $12.95! I’ll go back to it when I finish the Avène.
Unlike every other surface of my body, my undereyes are not horribly dry, so in the morning I’ve been really enjoying the Biotherm Homme Aquapower Eye Depuffer*. It’s a light, cooling gel that is perfect first thing in the morning when I’m trying to do my makeup despite the fact that it’s pitch black.
Lately I’ve been starting my skincare with The Ordinary EUK 134 0.1%, which is an antioxidant with an oily texture. I love using antioxidants if I’m going outside – living in a city I’m exposed to lots of free radicals in the forms of pollution, car exhaust, etc. For this time of year the oily texture of the EUK has been working quite well for me, but I’m not sure if I’ll love it so much in the summer. I find it layers well under other products but I’ll have to see if it’s too heavy in the warmer months, when my skin is pretty much normal.
For moisturizer I’ve been using La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra*. I’m a longtime fan of LRP’s Toleriane Riche, which is a thicker cream great for dry, sensitive skin. However, Toleriane Ultra is thinner and layers better with other skincare and makeup. It isn’t as fluid as some moisturizers and does deliver enough hydration for my day-to-day needs – it helps that I pack on a lot of hydration in my nighttime routine so that I can use lighter products under my makeup.
Sunscreen is Vichy Ideal Soleil SPF50* – I find this one and the LRP Anthelios fluid basically interchangeable. Both are lightweight, non-greasy facial sunscreens that layer well. When I run out, I’m interested in trying some Japanese sunscreens since I hear great things about them and they seem to be a bit more cost-effective than Vichy or LRP.
And that’s it for my morning routine – I don’t use actives or do too much product layering.
My nighttime skincare routine is one of my favourite rituals, and washing my face is the best part. There’s something so satisfying about taking off broken down, hours-old makeup. I always really like the way my skin looks when I’m freshly-cleansed, too. My cleansing routine could be described as “extra”, but I like to be really thorough and make sure my face is spotless. I’ve been a devoted user of oil cleansers for about five years now; I find they’re great at breaking down makeup, and they do my dry skin a big favour. Currently I’m using the Biotherm Total Renew Oil Cleanser*. It has a very pleasant texture – not greasy, and without any residue. Though it’s effective and nice to use, I think it’s too expensive for what it is. The Body Shop Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil is half the price (and as we all know The Body Shop constantly has deals) and I like that it emulsifies more.
I find that no cleanser ever gets all my makeup off, even if my skin looks bare to the naked eye. I always do a second pass with a gentle gel cleanser, so the Avène cleanser comes into play here. On no-makeup days (which are pretty frequent, actually; I’m only on campus three days a week and don’t normally put on makeup to run errands) I just use the Avène cleanser.
I will always love the La Roche-Posay Respectissime Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover, which gets absolutely everything off without any tugging or rubbing. It’s as good as Lancôme Bi-Facil and half the price.
I follow all of that up with some micellar water; these days I’m using La Roche-Posay Ultra Micellar Water*. This one and Bioderma Sensibio are tied for my favourite. I know most people use micellar water as a first step to remove makeup, but I prefer to use it at the very end. When using an oil-based eye makeup remover it’s essential to remove the residue to avoid milia, and a micellar solution helps balance the pH of the skin prior to acid steps.
Which, of course, brings me to the second-best part of my skincare routine. I use a chemical exfoliant every day; I know that’s too much for a lot of people, but my skin tolerates it well. Generally, I get on best with AHAs. Right now I’m using the Vichy Idealia Peeling*, which is glycolic acid. It’s great, but now that we have The Ordinary there’s no reason to spend $40 on an AHA. I’ve gone through an entire bottle of The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2%, which my skin really liked. I’ve also tried The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution, which is cheap as chips and just as effective as the expensive stuff. Occasionally I use The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2% (now discontinued) instead of an acid. I always leave my acids on my face for 20-30 minutes before moving on to other steps, because acids require a specific pH to work properly and layering other products negates the effects.
For my eyes, I’ve been layering The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + ECGC and Bioderma Sensibio Eye*. As I’ve mentioned, I’m not convinced that the Caffeine Solution actually does anything for dark circles, but I’ll use it up since it’s not like it hurts. The Bioderma eye cream is a very thin gel-cream hybrid that adds a little moisture and not much else. It’s nothing special, really.
To give my skin the moisture it needs, I use The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 as a serum step. This is my fourth bottle; it’s so inexpensive and it really does make a huge difference in my skin. My night cream these days is Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask, which is an incredibly rich cream that I swear by in the winter. This is my second winter using it and I haven’t had any nose flakes since before I discovered it. About once a week, if my skin is especially dry, I use The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane. Of all the oils I’ve tried I like squalane the best – it delivers moisture but isn’t too greasy. It’s also nice on my arms and legs and on the fried, burnt ends of my hair. (Just kidding, I haven’t bleached my hair in 11 months and it’s so much healthier!)
My final step is always Nuxe Rêve de Miel Lip Balm, which truly is the most nourishing, effective lip treatment I’ve found. It does have a pretty thick, waxy texture, so it’s a nighttime-exclusive kind of product for me.
And… that is it! I would guess that this is a pretty extensive routine compared to the average, but it doesn’t take me all that long and it addresses all my skin concerns. I hate being away from all my skincare products – that’s the worst part about travelling for me. Anyway – there’s a (far too detailed) breakdown of what I’m currently using.
Posted on December 31, 2017 under Lists
Here is my last checkin of 2017! This was year zero of tracking my spending, which meant that I didn’t know what to expect. I’ll crunch the final numbers and at the end of this post I’ll reflect a little on what I learned during this year of tracking.
And a few notes before we get started…
- I’ve listed all prices in either CAD or the currency they were purchased in and a conversion into CAD that was accurate at the time of purchase.
- I list products that were ordered online on the date that I received the package.
- In order to consistently track my spending, I’m listing all totals in CAD. Since I have shopped in both Canada and the UK this year, conversion is necessary so that I can see how much I’ve spent in total. Prices in CAD make more intuitive sense to me than GBP (unsurprisingly), and I’ve purchased a lot more in Canada than in the UK this year anyway.
- Not everything is pictured – I’m in Canada right now and some of this stuff is in the UK.
With those points out of the way, let’s get into it!
Products purchased between October 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017
- 10/13: Barry M Glitter Rush Body Glitter – Aquamarine – £4.49 ($7.47 CAD). I bought this because I was going to a drag show and I just felt like I needed blue glitter in my life. A total frivolity, of course, but not one that I regret.
- 10/13: Ardell Wispies Lashes – £5.49 ($9.13 CAD). I have never been a false lash enthusiast, but in undergrad my outrageous going out looks (think black lipstick, purple blush up to my temples) were never complete without a set of big falsies. Now that I’m a student again, clearly it is necessary to have a set of lashes on hand.
- 10/13: MUA Kohl Liner – Black – £1 ($1.66 CAD). To use with black lipstick.
- 10/20: Barry M Glitter Fixer Gel – £4.99 ($8.35 CAD). I realized that I couldn’t use my teal glitter without some sort of fixative. This is the only one I could find in-store, but I like it!
- 11/03: John Frieda Sheer Blonde Tone Correcting Shampoo – £3.95 ($6.61 CAD). A gal can’t live without her purple shampoo! It’s rare that cosmetics are less expensive in the UK than in Canada, but full price on this stuff in Canada is $13.99. Definitely a bargain!
- 11/20: Collection Lasting Gel Nail Colour in Blackjack 2 – £3.19 ($5.45 CAD). I needed new black nail polish so I went with the cheapest one I could find, of course.
- 11/20: Vaseline Lip Therapy in Aloe Vera and Original – £1 each – £2 total ($3.42 CAD). I ran out of lip balm. These are normally £2.09 each but Superdrug had a 2 for £2 offer which I thought I might as well take advantage of.
- 11/20: Supderdrug Cleansing Facial Wipes – £1.29 ($2.20 CAD). Bought for my trip to Prague, since I knew it would be easier than properly washing my face.
- 11/25: John Frieda Sheer Blonde Go Blonder Lightening Shampoo (mini) – £2 ($3.42 CAD). I was delighted to find a mini of my usual shampoo at the Edinburgh airport Superdrug, since I’ve never seen John Frieda minis in Canada. I’ll definitely use this up travelling.
- 12/05: PS… Pro Blending Brush – £2 ($3.42 CAD). PS… is Primark’s house makeup brand, and you will be seeing a review of some of these products in the future!
- 12/05: PS… CustomEyes Eyeshadow in Cranberry – £0.60 ($1.03 CAD).
- 12/05: PS… Lip Scrub – £3 ($5.14 CAD).
- 12/05: PS… My Perfect Colour Liquid Concealer in Nude Beige – £2 ($3.42 CAD). Replacement.
- 12/05: PS… Get Lippy Glitter Collection in Heaven Sent – £3 ($5.14 CAD).
- 12/05: Golden Rose Ice Chic Nail Colour in 44 – £2 ($3.42 CAD).
- 12/11: The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid x2 – $6.80 each – $13.60 total. Replacement.
- 12/13: The Body Shop Coconut Body Butter x2 – $20. The Body Shop was doing buy 3 get 3 so my mom and I pooled our products. The total was $62, split 2 ways, making each Body Butter $10 and the next product $11.
- 12/13: The Body Shop Pink Grapefruit Exfoliating Body Scrub – $11. See above for notes on price!
- 12/13: The Ordinary Squalane – $7.90. Replacement.
- 12/15: NYX White Liquid Liner – $9. Replacement for my Stila white eyeliner.
- 12/15: NYX Epic Ink Eyeliner Pen – $12. Backup – I want to see if this is good enough to replace my $29 Stila liner and bought it in Canada because I knew it would be cheaper and easier to access. I probably won’t be done with my current Stila liner for awhile, but once I go back to the UK I’ll be there until September so it makes sense to stock up now while I can.
- 12/28: ELF Crease Brush x3 – $3 USD/$3.77 CAD each – $9 USD/$11.32 CAD total. ELF was doing free shipping with no minimum, so I jumped on the chance to grab more of this amazing and inexpensive crease brush. It can be hard to hit ELF’s free shipping minimum without just buying a bunch of crap I don’t want, so I was really glad to flesh out my brush collection without having to pay for shipping.
Total value (CAD): $182.78
Total spent (CAD): $154.10
Year-to-date value (CAD): $1540.53
Year-to-date spent (CAD): $899.55
Products received at no cost between October 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017
As I mentioned previously, I recently took a lot of Aisling‘s makeup castoffs off her hands. I took some of these items knowing that a friend or my mom would enjoy them. I ended up passing a lot of stuff on, so this list only includes what ultimately made it into my collection on a full-time basis.
- 10/31: The Body Shop Sparkler All Over Shimmer – £14 ($23.42 CAD). Gift.
- 10/31: Lancôme Bi-Facil Eye Makeup Remover (~50% full) – $39 full price, $19.50 value. Gift.
- 10/31: Benefit That Gal Brightening Face Primer – Deluxe Sample – $40 full size, $27.45 sample value. Gift. Also, can we note that the full size of this product is 10mL and the deluxe sample is 7.5?!
- 10/31: Rimmel Fix and Perfect Primer – $8.99. Gift.
- 10/31: The Ordinary Coverage Foundation – 1.1N – $6.70. Gift.
- 10/31: Urban Decay All Nighter Foundation – 0.5 – $49. Gift.
- 10/31: The Body Shop Shade Adjusting Drops – $22. Gift.
- 10/31: Tanya Burr Everyday Flutter Lashes – £5.29 ($8.85 CAD). Gift. I had a pair of these which I wore into the ground, so I’ll definitely use them.
- 10/31: Fleur de Force by Eyelure Lashes in Fleur Loves – £5.45 ($9.12 CAD). Gift.
- 10/31: Sleek Highlighter Palette – Midas Touch – £9.99 ($16.71 CAD). Gift.
- 10/31: Kiko Radiant Touch Creamy Stick Highlighter – 100 – £10.90 ($18.23 CAD). Gift.
- 10/31: Topshop Glow Highlighter – Polished – £9 ($15.06 CAD). Gift. I have and love this highlighter, so a backup is always welcome.
- 10/31: Makeup Revolution Liquid Highlighter – Liquid Starlight – £6 ($10.04 CAD). Gift.
- 10/31: Seventeen Instant Glow Shimmer Brick – Pink Bronze – £4.99 ($8.35 CAD). Gift.
- 10/31: Lancôme Hypnôse Drama Mascara – Sample – $34.50 full size ($11.50 value). Gift.
- 10/31: Sleek Eyeshadow Palette – Original, Vintage Romance, Garden of Eden – £8.99 ($15.04 CAD) each = £26.97 ($45.11 CAD). Gift.
- 10/31: Bella Pierre Shimmer Powder – Snowflake – $19. Gift.
- 10/31: Revlon Photoready Eye Art – Burnished Bling, Prism Peach, and Topaz Twinkle – $11.49 each = $34.47. Gift.
- 10/31: Lancôme Kohl In Love – Jade Crush – $26. Gift.
- 10/31: Maybelline Colorblur Lipstick – Partner in Crimson – $11.99. Gift.
- 10/31: Maybelline Color Drama Lipstick – Keep It Classy – £4.99 ($8.35 CAD). Gift.
- 10/31: Kiko Face Brush – 104 – £1.70 ($2.84 CAD). Gift. I feel like this kabuki brush has to be worth more, but this is the price I found when I looked it up online.
- 12/08: Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder – Luminous Light – $55. My mom bought this for herself but found it a bit too shimmery for her liking and passed it on to me.
- 12/13: The Ordinary EUK 134 0.1% – $8.80. I was in the Deciem store with my mom and she kindly picked up the tab for this one.
- 12/21: Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Solution – $6.95. I needed a mini Bioderma to bring with me to Quebec for Christmas, and my former boss let me have one of the GWPs she had floating around. Apparently the perks of working in cosmetics don’t end when you stop working in cosmetics…
- 12/25: Urban Decay Naked 2 Basics – $36. Christmas gift from my mom!
Total value: $526.14
Year-to-date value: $2274.53
So, in order to visualize all this data I made some Excel graphs.
Money spent vs. total value:
This one shows how much of my own money I spent:
And this one shows the breakdown of all the products that made it into my collection:
(By the way, the “Etc” category is my MUFE magnetic palette that I bought back in the summer.)
I’ll have an inventory update post coming soon so I won’t go into that – I just want to talk about the actual spending. This was my first year tracking my spending, so it was a blank slate for me. I am happy that the total was under $1000, though I didn’t factor in taxes here so with taxes it’ll be just about $1000. Less than half of my total of $899.55 ($449.91) was spent on makeup, which surprises me – I thought my percentage of (relatively) frivolous purchases would be higher. As I suspected, I don’t overspend on haircare, skincare, or nails – I tend to buy the first two categories on a replacement-only, as-needed basis, and while I do occasionally impulse buy nail polish I have reduced that habit significantly.
What really surprises me is the total value of the products that came into my life in 2017. I spent only about $900 of my own money (“only” – that’s still too high, really), but the total value was $3815.06. Obviously, I saved a lot by using my employee discount and because I got a lot of gratis in the first 9 months of the year, when I was still working in cosmetics. And it’s safe to say that the only reason I acquired a lot of this stuff was because it was gratis. I will receive much less free stuff in 2018!
Now that I know how much I actually spend on beauty products, it’s easier for me to set a specific budget for myself. I’m not going to worry too much about most of the categories because, like I said, I don’t feel I’m overspending in most of them. However, I’d like to cut back on the makeup and brushes for sure. I would love to reduce my spending in those categories by 30%, which gives me a budget of $392.27 (combined), down from their combined total of $560.39. Let’s just call that $400…
In 2018 I don’t think I’ll do these posts anymore – it was nice to try them for a year, but ultimately I don’t think they’re that helpful. I will track my purchases throughout the year and post an update at the end of 2018, but I’m going to abandon the quarterly updates.
And that’s it for today! Happy 2018, everyone!
Posted on December 18, 2017 under Lists
You know, if you ask anybody who knows me they will no doubt tell you that one of my main hobbies is complaining bitterly. Yet I have never done a year-end roundup of products that disappointed me, which amazes me. So far I’ve done three yearly “best of” posts, but this is my first ever “worst of” post. (I decided to post this one before my Top 17 of 2017 because I thought it’d be better to end 2017 on a high note.)
Unlike my yearly “best of” recaps, I have not chosen a catchy number for this post. This is simply a list of everything that disappointed me in 2017, in chronological order.
Maybelline Lash Sensational Luscious Full Fan Effect Mascara
I don’t have my own picture of this product because I slammed it into the garbage and never looked back.
Look, it’s hard to truly impress me with a mascara, but I also rarely hate a mascara. Generally mascara generates in me emotion no stronger than “Meh.” The last mascara that inspired true, passionate hatred was Benefit’s They’re Real!, which is my gold standard for shitty mascara. That was about four years ago, so that tells you how rarely I encounter a mascara that really enrages me. However, this mascara is that. I am mad at it, okay? The first time I applied it my very standard set of eyelashes became three giant clumps and I was like, “Well, that sometimes happens with brand new mascara.” Then I tried to wash it off, and I had flashbacks to trying to wash off They’re Real!, which is a battle which usually ends up in you cradling your amputated eyelashes and crying in the corner of your bathroom. Lash Sensational Luscious is THE EXACT SAME. And this isn’t even the waterproof version! I tried it again the next day just to be fair, and my opinion did not change. Look, maybe it does get better with age, but I was not about to subject my lashes to warfare just to find out.
Marc Jacobs Style Eye Con Plush Eyeshadow Palette in The Lolita
My friend Kristin gave me this palette for Christmas because she wanted to buy me something that I would never buy myself. She’s right that I would never pay $71 for a palette of seven eyeshadows. And, you know, unlike the Lash Sensational Luscious mascara, I do not hate this palette. Actually, I think it’s very wearable, and most of the shadows are very pretty and blendable. This is sort of like a Naked Basics palette kicked up a notch; it has a few more interesting shimmery shades in addition to the staple mattes, and the packaging is a lot more beautiful than Naked Bascis’ rubbery, utilitarian feel. But – and if you’ve ever swatched this palette you’ll know exactly what is coming – that one shade, man. The middle one, I mean. It’s glittery and looks so pretty in the pan, but I have never experienced such fallout carnage in my life. Even packed on with my finger for maximum density, it delivers very little colour payoff. All the glitter seems to miss my eyelid and fall directly onto my cheeks, where it sticks unless I remove my makeup. It SUCKS, dude. And when 14% of your $71 palette is unuseable, you’ve got yourself a stinker. I see that MJ has discontinued this product, and the new palettes in this packaging seem to be getting good reviews – which is good, because they cost a pretty penny. Overall I do actually enjoy this palette and use it fairly frequently, but the one awful shade brings the entire thing down.
ELF Highlighting Palette
Pictured on the far left.
These highlighters do not show up on me at all. There’s a subtle highlighter and there’s a highlighter that does nothing. You can see swatches in my highlighter inventory post, but actually you won’t be able to see anything because they truly look like absolutely nothing on the skin. My mom, who is all about subtle highlighter, had the same experience with this palette.
On the opposite end of the spectrum from Lash Sensational, this mascara just did nothing for me. I mean, I can get behind a subtle mascara, but when a mascara is named Mega Multiplier I’m just going to assume that it sucks when it gives me this effect:
The Ordinary Caffeine Solution
Like several other bloggers who bought this product because it was cheap, I have concluded that this does absolutely nothing for my dark circles. I love so many products from The Ordinary, so it’s a bummer that this one didn’t work out for me. Luckily it was so cheap that I’m not exactly crying about it.
ColourPop Lippie Stix in Trixie
I ordered this thinking it would finally allow me to end my long-term quest for the perfect bright coral. I then promptly forgot about it and bought Marc Jacobs So Sofia. When my ColourPop package arrived, I kicked myself for buying So Sofia when I had Trixie on the way. When I actually got around to trying Trixie on, however, I felt vindicated – it’s a hair too neon to be totally flattering on me. Also, the formula is thin, tugs in application, and emphasizes dry patches. I really like the Matte X Lippie Stix I have, so this one was a huge letdown.
Here’s Trixie on me:
Definitely not the worst colour I’ve ever put on my lips, but when compared to So Sofia I don’t think there’s any contest:
ColourPop Ultra Blotted Lips in Split
The Ultra Blotted Lips are a cool idea, in theory – I can always get behind a good lip stain. Unfortunately, Split is a deep enough colour that it gets patchy in application very easily, and it doesn’t wear long enough to justify the discomfort of a liquid lipstick or the finnicky application.
This is a full-coverage foundation made for combination/oily skin and I knew I wouldn’t like it, so it’s not exactly a disappointment. But it is a product which I dislike very adamantly. It looks like a dry, heavy mask on my skin, and it only looks drier and heavier by the end of the day. But hey – if you’re oily you’d probably really enjoy this!
Revlon PhotoReady Eye Art
I’m going to do a proper review of these at some point, but suffice to say that these are just “meh” in the world of liquid glitter eyeshadow. They’re finnicky to apply, take too long to dry, and don’t wear particularly well. It’s a shame, because they’re beautiful!
So there we go: my most disappointing products of 2017. Nine doesn’t seem too bad, really – that’s less than one stinker per month. Have you tried any of these products? Do you think they suck, too, or have you had more luck than me?