Why I returned my Ambient Lighting Palette

Posted on July 25, 2015 under Reviews

Last month I went to Sephora for a (small) birthday haul. One of the things I picked up with my birthday money was the now-iconic Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette. Let’s be clear: I never would have purchased it with my own money, as the price is a rather extravagant $67 CAD, the most I have ever dropped on a single makeup item. But I thought, hey, I have other people’s money to spend and everyone likes this thing!

Impulse purchases, man.

The other two items I picked up in that haul (YSL Rouge Volupté lipstick in Rose In Tension and Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector pressed in Moonstone) were thoroughly researched and, as a result, I love them. But with the ALP, I was mostly going off hype. And, not so surprisingly, I was disappointed.

I gave it a try for a month, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that the palette was underwhelming. Now, part of this does have to do with my colouring. The peach-toned Dim Light is pretty much unuseable to me; it’s too dark to use as a setting powder on my fair skin but too light to work as a bronzer. Speaking of bronzer, Radiant Light does work as one for me – it’s subtle, soft, and blendable, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Make no mistake – the texture of these powders is divine. Incandescent Light doesn’t work as a highlight for me (again, due to my fairness), and as a finishing powder I really don’t feel that it does anything special. So, that’s one powder out of three that I have warm feelings about – and for $67, that’s just not going to cut it.


And so I took advantage of Sephora’s generous return policy. I did feel a bit bad since it’s been used several times, but it’s well within the parameters of their policy. And, well, if it was half the price I probably wouldn’t have bothered. But with the $75 I got back after taxes I managed to pick up an Ambient Lighting Blush in Luminous Flush and to replace my tragically lost MAC Rebel – so now I have two products I enjoy instead of one I don’t. Plus, this was a very potent reminder that hype absolutely does not guarantee satisfaction. Also to swatch before I buy instead of just throwing things into my bag in a blind excitement, which is probably the more salient lesson.

By the way – my friends Jelena, Kristin, and Aisling all returned their ALPs, so I don’t think this is one of my They’re Real!-esque unpopular opinions.

My sun protection routine

Posted on July 22, 2015 under Reviews

As is typical of someone of my pallor, I don’t tan. I go from reflectively pale to bright red with nothing in between. Luckily, I haven’t actually had a proper burn in years, thanks to constant vigilance when it comes to sun protection.

As most of us know, sun protection is important year-round, not just in the summer. But I’m especially hardcore about it when the UV index is particularly threatening, and lately I’ve found three products that have quickly ascended to “favourite” status when it comes to protecting my skin from its worst enemy.

For the face: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Fluid Lotion SPF 60 & Anthelios Mineral Tinted Ultra-Fluid Lotion SPF 50

I can’t even tell you how many thousands of dollars’ worth of these two facial sunscreens I’ve sold. They’re my go-to when a customer wants a high quality lightweight, non-greasy sunscreen for the face, and the vast majority repurchase it again and again. It sinks into the skin in no time, feels like nothing on the face, and doesn’t cause breakouts. It’s perfect under makeup since it’s so lightweight – it doesn’t feel like you’re layering a billion things on only to sweat them off.


Left: Unblended so you can see the fluid texture. Right: Blended so you can see how the tinted and untinted versions appear on the skin.

Generally, I recommend the tinted mineral sunscreen to people as physical sunscreen does offer longer-lasting sun protection. A lot of my customers like the tint, too. Personally, I prefer the untinted chemical sunscreen (SPF 60) myself, since I’m so fair. One layer of the tinted version blended away fades into my skin fairly well, but if I use enough to maximize on my sun protection I find it looks a bit muddy. I am definitely paler than average, though, and the tint would be appropriate for most people.

It’s worth noting that the bottle does look a tiny bit different now: it’s shorter and wider, but the product inside remains the same. My bottles are from last summer – but don’t worry, they don’t expire until 2016!

For the body: Avène High Protection Spray SPF 50+

I really despise applying sunscreen to my body. I have enough incentive to protect my precious face, but when it comes to the far more vast surface area of my body, I’m reluctant to bother. Most of the time it’s not the threat of a burn (or complications from burning) that motivates me to do it – rather, it’s protecting my tattoos from fading. I paid good money for them, and I intend to preserve the colour for as along as possible!

A spray is the best bet for someone as lazy as me, and I love that this one is non-aerosol. I’m not exactly an environmentalist, but there are some things that are so easily avoided that it’s foolish not to! But besides the format, I’m a big fan of the product inside. I find that it sinks in fast and feels lightweight on the skin, and it does its one job admirably. A bonus is that I find it quite moisturizing, which is nice for someone as perpetually dry-skinned as me.

I will mention that it is quite heavily fragranced, which I find strange from a brand like Avène that markets itself towards those with sensitive and intolerant skin. My skin isn’t sensitive to fragrance for the most part, but my nose can be – and I must admit that I’m not a huge fan of the scent of this sunscreen. (On the other hand, one of my coworkers raves about it, so it’s obviously up to personal preference.) The scent doesn’t linger long after application, though, so I don’t consider it a dealbreaker in the least.

And that is how I maintain healthy skin when the sun is out to get me!

Review: Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water

Posted on May 18, 2015 under Reviews

When I was staying with Aisling at the end of March, she mentioned that she had bought the Garnier micellar cleanser and didn’t like it. It was her first experience with a micellar water, and she was not impressed! Specifically, she noted that it did not do a very good job at removing her eye makeup.

I was a bit curious about it as I’ve personally found micellars to be great, but have only tried more pricey ones, so while staying with her I test drove it for the whole weekend.

I have to say, despite the hype and generally excellent reviews online, I’m inclined to agree with Aisling!

I normally use a dedicated eye makeup remover or an oil cleanser to get rid of my waterproof mascara and eyeliner, but I’ve used micellars in a pinch and they work pretty well as long as you let them soak the eye makeup off. This one, however, barely made a dent in my Stila Stay All Day liquid eyeliner – it took quite a bit of rubbing to get it all off, even after holding a soaked cotton pad against my eye for half a minute.

It took off my face makeup much more thoroughly, but it really dried my skin out – it felt very tight. This is disappointing and, quite frankly, unacceptable for a product that claims to be soothing! If my skin is screaming for moisturizer, it is not soothed. These days my skin runs more on the normal side of things, and cleansers don’t typically leave it feeling so parched!


With a mini Eiffel Tower, because it’s imitating the cult French pharmacie product. Or something.

Most of the reviews of this product on the Boots website seem to indicate that the users haven’t tried any other micellars before (“I bought this product 2 months ago after considering spending £16 on the infamous Bioderma Micellar solution”), so I’m guessing a lot of the positive reviews come either from people who don’t have anything in the same family of products to compare it to, or from bloggers/vloggers who are being sponsored by Garnier. I allow that this product may simply have not worked for Aisling and I, but I am a bit taken aback by the 4.7/5 average rating on Boots.com considering how lackluster the two of us found it!

At just £4.99 ($9.38 CAD) for 400mL (£0.012 or $0.023 per mL), this product is much more affordable than micellars from other brands such as Bioderma ($26.95 for 500mL, or $0.054 per mL), La Roche-Posay ($22 for 200mL, or $0.11 per mL) or BioBeauté ($19 for 200mL, or $0.095 per mL). I’d say if you have a dedicated eye makeup remover and skin that leans more on the combo to oily side rather than dry, this is a good budget option. But if you’re on the drier side or want a micellar that will be much better at removing eye makeup, I’d recommend either Bioderma or La Roche-Posay (but only when they have their micellar on special – double the amount for the same price). Those two are legitimately effective products and they are both great for sensitive skin. Sometimes it’s worth it to pay a little extra! It pains me to admit that a budget option is simply not as good as the fancy stuff, but in this case I think that’s very much the case.