Favourite fall blushes

Posted on October 28, 2016 under Lists

Favourite Fall Blushes

I try not to get too caught up with seasonal colour categorizations, because life is too short not to wear products you like whenever you want. I’m generally more of a fan of arbitrarily-designated cool weather colours, anyway, which means that I’ll be wearing them more heavily than normal now that we’re moving into fall weather. (The cold has finally settled in here in Toronto, and I’ve been wearing my fall jacket regularly.)

I’ve also become something of a blush fiend in the past year or so. It never used to be a product that interested me much, but I guess my lipstick obsession has trickled over into enjoying all types of colour cosmetics. While rifling through my blush collection, I realized how excited I was to pull in some of my fall colours, and thought I’d share my favourite fall blushes. (Which, of course, can be worn year-round as well. Duh.)

Guerlain Rose Aux Joues Blush in Wonder Violette

Guerlain Rose Aux Joues Blush in Wonder Violette

Wonder Violette is a soft plum with a satin finish. It’s a soft, blendable texture that applies evenly. It has a very strong floral scent, as is common in luxury makeup products. The packaging is okay – it’s not as gorgeous as my Guerlain eyeshadow palette, but it’s very hefty and sturdy. I do wish high end brands would stop putting unusable brushes into their compacts; it just increases the size of the packaging and adds absolutely no value. Of course, the price is absurd. As with basically all of my luxury makeup items, I purchased this with Optimum points and have no problem saying that, while I use it often and think it’s a solid product, it’s just not worth the big bucks. You can get blushes that are just as good or better for significantly less. Worth some Optimum points if you’re into Guerlain, but probably not worth $60. (Okay, definitely not worth $60.) Sometimes I absurdly have Optimum point-spending regret with certain products; this is not one of them. I really love the colour and the formula is solid, and I’m glad I own it. I just can’t wrap my head around the price tag.

The Guerlain Rose Aux Joues blushes retail for $60 CAD for 0.22oz of product, or $272.73 CAD per oz.

H&M Pure Radiance Powder Blusher in Cherry

H&M Pure Radiance Powder Blusher in Cherry

This is an amazing magenta colour unlike anything in my collection. I love to pair it with MAC Rebel and other magenta lipstick shades. It also looks great used an eyeshadow, and is in fitting with the current red/magenta/orange eyeshadow trend. Unfortunately, as I’m very fair and this is a deep and pigmented colour, it’s slightly hard to work with on the cheeks. Applied with a regular blush brush it generally veers into clown territory, but with a stipple brush it’s pretty patchy. This is probably not helped by the fact that it’s quite a dry and stiff formula – that is, it doesn’t blend easily. That said, the colour is stunning and would undoubtedly be better suited to deeper skintones. I also like the packaging for the pricepoint – it’s just flimsy, lightweight plastic, but the octagonal shape is interesting and I can’t complain since it costs a mere $12.99.

H&M Pure Radiance Powder Blushers retail for $12.99 for 0.18oz of product, or $72.17 CAD per oz.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Mood Exposure

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Mood Exposure

To be fair, this is my most-used and favourite blush of all time because I find the colour immensely flattering and so versatile. If I’m not sure what blush to use, I pop on some Mood Exposure. If I’m travelling, I only need to bring Mood Exposure because I know it’ll go with everything. But the plummy mauve shade lends itself well to winter, I think. And, of course, the formula is exceptional: soft as a baby’s bottom without being powdery, blendable, and long-wearing. In the pan this blush isn’t worth paying attention to, but it brings the cheeks to life in the most glowy way.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blushes retail for $45 CAD for 0.15oz of product, or $300 CAD per oz.

NARS Blush in Sin

NARS Blush in Sin

The first time I used this cool, purply plum with gold shimmer, I hated it. I thought it looked like a bruise on my cheeks. It was the first time I’d ever found a blush colour truly unflattering on me. But it’s grown on me quite a lot; I think it was just the starkness of a truly purple-toned plum that shocked me. If I use a light hand, it’s the perfect complement to berry lips. I like the formula of this blush a lot – it’s soft and fairly sheer, which is the level of pigmentation I prefer in a blush. This being my first NARS blush, I understand why people like them but I definitely wouldn’t say they’re the be-all-end-all. There are some really beautiful colours in the line and I can see myself purchasing more should I be particularly drawn to a certain shade, but the incredible softness and natural luminosity of the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blushes puts them light years ahead of anything else I’ve tried.

NARS blushes retail for $38 CAD for 0.16 oz, or $237.50 per oz.

Sleek Blush in Flushed

Sleek Blush in Flushed

I absolutely fell in love with this blush two years ago. It’s one of the first blushes I can remember thinking looked good on me. It’s a red-toned berry that gives me a gorgeous flush (an apt name!). The first year I had this, in the fall and winter of 2014/2015, I wore it constantly – and it’s been a well-loved addition to my fall blush rotation ever since. I also think this colour has enough depth that it would look stunning on darker skin – but with a light hand, it’s completely workable and lovely on my fair skin. (If you look up reviews of this specific shade you’ll see it gets rave reviews from women of colour, and with good reason.) It’s a slightly stiffer formula than, say, the Hourglass ALBs (but everything is stiffer than those!), but it has great colour payoff without being unworkably pigmented and blends easily on the cheeks. Plus, it’s an absolute steal and generously sized to boot. I’d pay much more for this formula than it’s going for.

Sleek blushes retail for £4.99 ($8.12 CAD at the current conversion rate) for 0.27 oz of product, or £18.48 ($30.07 CAD) per oz.

Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush in Natural Beauty

Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush in Natural Beauty

When I first got this bright reddish pink blush over three years ago, I thought it was a summer colour: surely something as bright and audacious as this wasn’t appropriate for the more subdued months of fall and winter? But then I realized that it gives the perfect “just stepped in from the cold” flush on my cheeks, making it perfectly-suited to winter. It’s different from your classic plummy winter blushes (which I have, of course, featured heavily in this post), but I think it works very well for this time of year – on my skin, at least. The name “Natural Beauty” for something this bright seems a bit silly, but, well, I don’t know about you, but I personally blush a reddish-pink, not any shade of plum. While my love for this colour is enough to bring this into my fall/winter rotation each year, I have to say I’m not a huge fan of the formula. It’s a very dry and stiff blush – not enough to truly impede working with it, but I prefer something much softer. This is easily the driest blush I own. The lasting power is reasonable, but not worth the hype it received back in the day. Once again, my Hourglass ALBs are the gold standard in terms of lasting power, and everything else.

Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blushes retail for $35 CAD for 0.2 oz, or $175 per oz.

And here are swatches of these six blushes:

fall-blush-swatches

By the way – I took these pictures in our guest room because it has great lighting conditions, and Jet was very intrigued by the whole process:

jet

What are your favourite fall blushes? If I go to Murale soon to spend Optimum points, what NARS blush colours should I consider?

What’s in my travel makeup bag? 2016 edition

Posted on June 02, 2016 under Lists

The last time I did one of these posts was back in April 2015, and that was in the context of the frequent European weekend jaunts I did when I was studying abroad in Glasgow. Tomorrow I’m departing on a six day trip which will take me to Kentucky for my uncle’s memorial service and then to my university graduation. Since we’ll be flying from Kentucky to Montreal, I’m packing as light as possible while considering the two very different occasions I’ll be making myself up for.

travel-makeup-base

Base

This is a no-brainer since I am not a hoarder of base products. I’ll be bringing my Make Up Forever Ultra HD Foundation, L’Oreal True Match concealer (for under the eyes), Maybelline Master Conceal (for blemishes), and my brand-spanking-new Rimmel Stay Matte Powder (absolutely necessary in the heat of Kentucky in June). Those are pretty much the only base products I own, so this really was an easy choice. Or non-choice, as the case may be.

Cheeks

travel-makeup-cheeks

I have a tendency to want to bring every possible shade of blush with me when I travel, but I’m not listening to that urge. I’m bringing only two, Hourglass Luminous Flush (a glowy peach that’s perfect for summer) and Mood Exposure (a warm brownish shade that goes with everything). I’m also bringing my Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Moonstone since I also feel that it goes with anything. Illamasqua Cream Pigment in Hollow is a no-brainer for me since it’s my perfect contour shade; The Body Shop Honey Bronzer in Matte 1 is the only bronzer I own, so once again I don’t even have to think about it. (If this were just a trip down south I wouldn’t bother with the contour and just use bronzer instead. I also probably could cut out Luminous Flush, but I didn’t say this was going to be the most minimalist makeup bag ever.)

travel-makeup-cheek-swatches

I promise the bronzer isn’t that orange in real life.

Eyes

travel-makeup-eyes

For my eyebrows I must have my Maybelline Colour Tattoo in Tough As Taupe, which is still the BEST colour I’ve ever found for my brows. I’ll top it off with Rimmel Brow This Way in Clear, though that’s more because it’s what I have on hand than because it’s a particularly good product.

Obviously I’m bringing my NARS Pro-Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base, because I would be nowhere without it on an everyday basis, let alone in 100+ degree Kentucky!

For everyday use, I’m bringing my beloved Urban Decay Naked Basics palette, which hardly sees a day without use. I imagine I’ll be using this for most of my trip: my go-to look is Venus all over the eyelid, Naked 2 in the crease, and a slightly more precise application of Faint on the outer corners. Again, were I only going to Kentucky this would be the only eyeshadow I packed, but I’m also tossing in my LORAC Pro palette for my graduation: I’m planning on using Gold, Sable, and Espresso. Strictly speaking I could probably just bring this and get everyday looks with Cream, Nude, Taupe, and Mauve, but for very simple neutral looks I just really love having my Naked Basics on hand.

I’m bringing four eyeliners: Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner for my lashline, Clarins Waterproof Eye Pencil to tightline, and Stila Smudge Stick in Damsel and Little Mix by Collection Rock It Glitter in Leigh-Anne for my graduation look.

The mascara that I’m currently loving is Clarins Truly Waterproof. It gives me a really nice lengthening effect on the lashes and doesn’t get clumpy at all.

Finally, I’m packing my Tanya Burr Everyday Flutter false lashes for my graduation.

Lips

travel-makeup-lips

Lip products are my weakness, and I find it hard to pack less than a lipstick a day for a trip. However, I have edited this batch down to an easy-to-wear neutral (NARS Audacious in Brigitte, a new-to-me peach with a hint of brown), a sheer berry that’s super easy to apply on-the-go (Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Volupté in 17), and the red that I intend to wear for graduation (Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution in Red Carpet Red, of course). I’m also bringing two lip liners, both by Rimmel: East End Snob for use with the first two lipsticks, and Red Diva to pair with Red Carpet Red.

travel-lip-swatches

Tools

travel-makeup-tools

Tweezers are a must wherever I go; Tweezerman currently owns my heart.

I have very straight lashes so I won’t go anywhere without an eyelash curler. This one is also by Tweezerman.

I’m bringing my Quo blending sponge for foundation, though I’ll probably use my hands most of the time because it’s quicker and sometimes I’m too lazy to go wet the sponge. (This is why people hate millennials, isn’t it?)

travel-makeup-face-brushes

For face brushes, I’m packing my Real Techniques Multi-Task Brush for blush, Duo-Fiber Brush for bronzer, Contour brush for, well, contouring, and Kabuki brush for powder. I’ll also be bringing my bdellium tools 944 for highlighter.

travel-makeup-eye-brushes

For eyes I’m bringing my Real Techniques Base Shadow Brush (for all over application), Angled Shadow Brush (for application of imprecise crease colours), and Detailer Brush (for inner corner highlight). Rounding out the eye brush category are my ELF Concealer brush (for packing on the shadow), ELF Small Smudge Brush (great for the lower lash line), Lise Watier Eye Contour Brush (for more precise outer V/crease work), and of course my beloved MAC 217 (for blending). I’m also bringing this old Maybelline mascara wand that I’ve been using as a spoolie since my first year of university, as well as an old Forever 21 angled brush which is surprisingly the BEST for applying brow pomade.

For some reason I find it really hard to be minimal with brushes, especially eye brushes. And, FYI, I washed all of my brushes immediately after taking these pictures, so don’t judge me too harshly.

Skincare

travel-makeup-skincare

I would be lost without sunscreen; this one is La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Fluid and has seen better days. (It’s almost empty and expires in the fall, so I’m using it up.) In the spray bottle I have some micellar water (this one is by Vichy because it’s what I have on hand). I also have sample sizes of the La Rohe-Posay Makeup Remover Milk and the Lanôme Bi-Facil eye makeup remover. In the jars are my current day cream (Avène Hydrance Optimale Légère) and night cream (No7 Beautiful Skin for dry skin).

Miscellaneous

travel-makeup-etc

My hair is currently the perfect platinum blonde, so I’m bringing a hardcore purple shampoo: Light Blue Shade. In the pot is Marc Anthony Nourishing Argan Oil of Morocco Deep Hydrating Treatment, which I’m currently trying out (and liking!).

Then, we have two lip balms: one thinner for day (Arbonne Lip Intelligence*), and my favourite thick nighttime balm (Nuxe Rêve de Miel, of course). I have to have my current nail colour (Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Gilty Party) lest my polish chips before my graduation. Finally, I have a pack of Joe Fresh blotting papers because “Kentucky in June” and “standing outside waiting to graduate for four hours” both seem like situations with the potential for a lot of sweat.

And that is it for the makeup and toiletries. Which is admittedly a fair amount! It would be a lot less were I not graduating somewhere in this whirlwind 2500km round-trip. Anyway, I probably will not check in here until after I have graduated, so take care until then! Next time you hear from me I’ll be coming at you as a human with a degree.

What’s in my bag?

Posted on November 04, 2015 under Lists

Over the past year, I have been searching for two staple bags, one small and one larger. I have found the larger bag, but I’m still on the lookout for a smaller bag that suits my needs. I have found, in this process, that I am apparently extremely picky when it comes to bags. My criteria for both of them are essentially the same, although obviously the volume differs.

Basically, my needs are as follows: black or navy, without gold or bronze hardware, free of bling, and with at least a few internal pockets. Ideally big enough to hold my iPad, although I will concede this point for the smaller bag. Finally, it must have a cross-body strap, as I am not all about carrying a bag in the crook of my arm.

Oh, and I’m on a student budget, so that limits my options rather severely.

marc-b-brook-bag

I’ve been using the Marc B Brook bag as my main school bag for about 2 months now, and I love it. Considering my last two bags were from Primark and Forever 21, at $120 this was a bit of a splurge for me, though it’s nothing in the grand scope of handbag pricing.

marc-b-brook-detail

Anyway, I love this bag. It’s sturdy, the perfect size, and partitioned off perfectly. It has three main pockets: two open, one zipped off in the middle. There are three smaller pockets on the inside that are perfect for the small items that I don’t want to lose in the bottom. It has a cross-body strap and handles, so it can be worn or carried. It’s perfect for my needs.

marc-b-brook-overview

marc-b-brook-pockets

So, what am I toting around inside of it at any given time?

Front open pocket

bag-big-pocket-1

Notebook: I take my notes by hand, because I’m old-fashioned. (I retain the information so much better than if I type it!) This semester I’m taking two anthropology classes and three English classes, so I found it easiest to have a notebook for each discipline.

Mars wrapper, Metro receipt for Bits and Bites and frozen pizza: Clearly I have not done a deep-cleaning of my bag in awhile. And really like junk food. :(

bag-planner

Planner and pens: I don’t think I’ve talked about it on here before, but my friends know that I am in love with the large Moleskine Weekly Planner. I’ve been using one since 2009 and it suits my planning style perfectly. I’m not an obsessive planner at all; I mainly use it to track all the readings I have, although it’s useful for writing down assignments, tests, and appointments. I write in it with Staedtler Triplus Fineliners, which are my favourite felt tip pens. This set of 20 was a bit expensive, but I love having the colour variety.

Back open pocket

bag-big-pocket-2

Coursepack and textbook: I almost always have school readings on hand so I can make the most out of my downtime. I have so many readings to do now that I’m in fourth year that I pretty much don’t let a single second tick by without being productive. If I arrive at class early, the book comes out. And with about a 25 minute commute to and from campus, I get a lot of reading done on the bus!

Old quiz, study notes for a midterm: More trash! I took the midterm on the day I took these pictures, so that’s my excuse for that one – but I don’t know why the quiz was still floating around in there.

Middle zipped pocket

bag-middle-pocket

iPad: I don’t always bring my iPad with me, but I did this day because I was reading an ebook for one of my anthropology classes. A lot of my readings are uploaded online, so I download them into the Adobe Acrobat Reader app so I can read and annotate them on my iPad when I’m on the go. I find this a lot easier than doing it on the computer, and obviously my iPad is more portable than my laptop anyway.

Wallet: I often just go to campus with my student card, bus pass, and debit card, but some days I’ll pop my wallet into my bag if I think I might want cash or any of my other cards. I’ve been trying to get into the habit of carrying my full wallet with me since I never know if I’ll want my credit card, ID, etc. My wallet is from Primark and aside from the fact that it’s disgustingly dirty I like it – and it’s held up well for over a year, which is pretty shocking considering it was like £4.

Emergency cheques from the bank: I ordered in three cheques so I could pay my rent and picked them up on the day I took these pictures.

Front compartment inner pockets

bag-small-pocket-2

Sephora compact: For touching up my lipstick.

Earbuds: I want to cry imagining ~50 minutes of commuting each day without music. I obviously also bring my phone with me, but I usually keep it in my coat pocket, not in my bag.

Keys: Self-explanatory. I attached them to a silver C keychain that I have had forever.

Cardholder: My cardholder is a convenient little sleeve for my bus pass (essential!) and student ID card, which I use to get into various student-only areas on campus. (Check out eighteen-year-old me with dark hair and bags!) I bought the cardholder at Dix-Mille Villages and I love it!

Back compartment inner pocket

bag-small-pocket-1

Lipstick: Obviously, my bag accumulates lipstick. Revlon Shameless and Rimmel East End Snob were from previous days; MAC Rebel was what I wore on this particular day.

Pens: I buy BIC Ultra Round Stic Grip ballpoint pens in bulk. So many people swear by fancy pens, but these cheap ballpoint pens are my life. I will not take notes with anything else. They’re like $2.50 a pack, they write smoothly, and they make my writing look really nice. I stock up on them at the beginning of every semester because I wear them out or lose them so quickly.

Phone charger: One day a week I’m on campus for 7 hours, and on Thursdays my school day tragically lasts 9 hours. A phone charger is essential for these days! I can’t remember what brand this one is; I just buy whatever is the cheapest at Walmart, since the Apple lightning cables are ridiculously expensive for something that seems to break every few months.

Etc

bag-water-bottle

Water bottle: I tend to clip this onto the outside of my bag since it doesn’t fit inside very well. Anyway, I drink water obsessively, as anyone who has hung out with me can tell you. I try to drink 2.5-3L of water a day. I cannot be without my water bottle on campus. This is a Camelbak Eddy 750mL. I don’t really think it’s worth the price, but I like it and will continue to use it.

Et voilà – my very uni-focused bag. I could probably do without having to lug all this stuff around with me, but where’s the fun in that?