My Maybelline Color Tattoo collection – reviews + swatches + declutter

Posted on August 01, 2015 under Reviews

By far the product I have collected the most of are Maybelline’s Color Tattoos, a staple of every makeup addict’s drugstore collection. They’re one of those things that seemed to just happen, as I collected every shade I could get my hands on – even those that I knew I probably would not use very often.

I’m always trying to prune back my makeup collection to make it manageable, and cream and liquid products are always the first to go since they dry out or go off more quickly. The truth is, I’ve been using my Color Tattoos much less in the past six months, and some colours have barely been touched at all. In a continuing effort to pare down my possessions, I’m looking at all 15 of my Colour Tattoos and asking if I really need each one.

True neutrals


Barely Branded (permanent) is a yellow-based champagne with a bit of shimmer. It goes on fairly smoothly, and any (minor) patchiness is easy to remedy on my skintone since it’s a light colour.
The verdict: Purged; it was one of the first I bought, in summer 2013. It’s very dry, and Pure Nude is so similar. It definitely served its purpose:


Pure Nude (LE Spring 2014 Dare to Go Nude collection) is, essentially, Barely Branded with a pink base. It suits my skintone as a “nude” tone a bit better since my undertones lean more cool, but swatched the two are practically indistinguishable. If you managed to snag Pure Nude last spring and don’t have Barely Branded, don’t bother picking it up.
The verdict: Keep; it’s still good, and it’s a versatile base.

Inked in Pink (permanent) is a muted shimmery pink with subtle gold shimmer. This is my go-to shade when I’m having a lazy day and just need to slap one colour all over my eyelids and go; it works well with my complexion and adds a little dimension to my eyes without being noticeable or requiring any effort. It also works well as a base for more deliberate eyeshadow looks.
The verdict: Purged; like Barely Branded, this was one of the earlier additions to my collection. I’ve hit some major pan on it and it’s drying out something fierce!

Pink Gold (UK; permanent) is the UK version of Inked in Pink. (It was given to me by Aisling; I didn’t buy a nearly identical eyeshadow to one I already have!) I find that the gold shimmer is a bit more pronounced in the pan, and the pink is a bit darker and warmer. I’d consider it more of a rose gold than Inked in Pink, though once blended on the eyelid they’re essentially the same.
The verdict: Keep. If I’d kept Inked In Pink I would have purged this one, but it’s a replacement.

Tough as Taupe (permanent) is a matte, cool-toned taupe (true to its name), and it is my favourite of the fifteen I have. It works beautifully as a base for all sorts of colours, it can be used as a contour in a pinch (on my skin tone, at least), and it’s my holy grail eyebrow product. I started using it on my brows about half a year before Anastasia’s Dipbrow came out, and I feel like a goddamn innovator. Plus I’m saving like twenty bucks, so. (By the way, it looks a bit uneven in the swatch – that would be due to the fact that it’s getting a bit dry from daily use.)
The verdict: Keep; though it’s drying out, it still works well for my brows since I don’t want to pick up too much product for them anyway.

Permanent Taupe (UK; permanent) is the UK version of Tough as Taupe. Aisling gave this one to me too when I was staying with her in Brighton and realized that I’d forgotten to bring Tough as Taupe, leaving me eyebrow-less. Oh, the horror! Luckily she had Permanent Taupe lying around and didn’t care for it, so it is now in my backup drawer, ready for action.
The verdict: Keep; it’s my HG brow product and it will definitely be used.

Bad to the Bronze (permanent) is every blogger and YouTuber’s favourite; it’s a gorgeous, multi-dimensional bronze with lots of shimmer. Although it’s obviously a warm colour, it pulls on the slightly cooler side of bronze – it’s definitely a bronze and not a copper. Two layers of this and you’ve got a full eyeshadow look, no crease colour required. I often forget I have this one, but I need to bust it out more often – it’s absolutely stunning.
The verdict: Keep, though it’s on its last legs of usefulness. I’ll try to get some use out of it and determine whether it’s worth replacing once it gets too dry to use.



Vintage Plum (permanent; Leather collection) reminds me of tough as taupe, if you added a helping of purple to it. It’s a muted, dusty purple. I think the “vintage” in its name is apt – it’s as if a purple has faded over time. It’s a rather subtle colour and can function as a neutral depending on what other eye makeup is added to it. The formula is a bit patchy, and it can be difficult to get an even application with it.
The verdict: Purged, reluctantly; though I love the colour, I never reach for it because it’s a bitch to work with.

Audacious Asphalt (possibly discontinued) is a medium grey with silver sparkle. Despite the size of the sparkle particles, it is shockingly easy to work with, providing an even dispersal of colour. It also makes a great base for a classic smokey eye.
The verdict: Purged; it’s a gorgeous shadow, but I simply never use this type of shade!

Silver Strike (possibly discontinued) is a cool, frosty silver with considerable shimmer. I find silver looks a bit stark on me (I’m already pale enough!), and it’s not the most smooth to apply (though it’s certainly not the worst). It’s the sheerest Color Tattoo I’ve tried, which means it can be fairly subtle or built up to sparkly silver perfection.
The verdict: Purged; it just doesn’t suit me and I have a few other silvers that I like better on the rare occasions that I want silver eyeshadow.

Shimmering Sea (LE Summer 2014 Bleached Neons collection) is a muted teal and pink duochrome. It is simply stunning. It defies being photographed, but it is truly the most beautiful eyeshadow colour I own. I get compliments on it every time I wear it. The formula of this one is also top-notch.
The verdict: Keep; it’s my favourite after Tough as Taupe.

Sunwashed Sky (LE Summer 2014 Bleached Neons collection) has a grey-blue base with fine gold and purple shimmer. That sounds a bit garish, but the effect is a subtle shift. Although the formula is just as strong as Shimmering Sea, the colour itself is not as wonderful. Don’t get me wrong – it’s still pretty, but it’s not as multi-dimensional as Shimmering Sea.
The verdict: Keep, but make an effort to use more often! It is lovely, but I usually pass it up in favour of Shimmering Sea.



Edgy Emerald (possibly discontinued) is a medium green with slight shimmer. I don’t think it’s deep enough to be considered an emerald – I’d call it more of a grass green. I really like the formula on this one; it’s super creamy and smooth.
The verdict: Keep, though I wear it rarely. I don’t own any other bright green eyeshadows, and this is perfect for a pop of colour on the lower lashline. I also wore it for St. Patrick’s Day this year and got lots of compliments, so I’ll probably repeat the feat next year!

Electric Blue (discontinued) is another misnomer: it’s a dark navy shimmer, hardly electric. For such a dark formula with rather sizable shimmer, the formula is impressively smooth. Navy is not a colour I tend to wear on my eyes often, but it would make a nice alternative to classic black eyeliner.
The verdict: Keep, but try to use it more often. It’s out of my comfort zone, but I like it enough to try to work with it.

Pomegranate Punk (permanent) is another colour that’s quite difficult to describe. It’s part reddish-brown, part plum, and very shimmery. It looks very red in the pan, but once it’s on the eyelids it can blend out to be fairly neutral. It’s not totally even upon first application, but it’s easy to smooth it out with a second thin layer. I think it’s a very interesting colour, and works well as a base for both the truly dramatic and the more wearable.
The verdict: Keep, but make an effort to wear it more often! It’s gorgeous and unique, but I forget I have it.

My Color Tattoo collection is still on the large side at 10 shadows, but I got rid of 1/3 of the ones I owned so I figure that’s a start. And it’s helping to put me in the right mindset to get rid of more makeup – I’ve been great at getting rid of books, clothes, and other possessions, but for some reason I find letting go of makeup a lot harder.

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!