Review: ColourPop Ultra Matte Lips in Tuesday, Lychee, and Dr. M

Posted on June 01, 2017 under Reviews

I am now very behind the times with my ColourPop acquisitions; the Ultra Matte Lips were their first liquid lipstick offering, and they have since launched not one but two newer liquid lipstick formulas and updated the Ultra Matte Lips formula. I don’t know why one brand needs three different forms of liquid lipstick, but then, I’m not the genius marketer whose strategy of “Pump out trendy products with trendier names” seems to be working.

As I’ve said before, ColourPop’s prices are not dirt cheap for Canadians, so for me the main draw is the ability to try out different fun colours relatively inexpensively. (You know, compared to Sephora prices.) I’d pretty much decided against the Ultra Matte Lips formula since they first came out, since most reviewers seemed to find them very drying. Even after ColourPop updated the formula, I’ve been trying to wean myself off liquid lipsticks for at least a year now. But some of their most compelling colours are in the Ultra Matte Lips formula, so I broke down back in January and ended up with three colours: Tuesday, a bright red-coral; Lychee, a warm medium-toned lilac purple; and Dr. M, a deep forest green.

I would say the Ultra Matte Lips have a pretty standard liquid lipstick formula: a little more liquidy than moussey, pretty drying, and long-wearing. For $6 USD I’m not going to complain; sure, my lips need a little extra TLC in the form of Nuxe Rêve de Miel lip balm after the fact, but they’re not screaming in pain. The Ultra Satin lips are more comfortable but less long-wearing; Stila Stay All Day and Wet N Wild Liquid Catsuits are more comfortable and wear about the same. If I seem slightly unenthusiastic about the formula, that’s probably just because I’m getting burnt out on liquid lipsticks in general and can no longer work up much enthusiasm for them. I ordered these bad boys back in January and then in April I did pick up one of the Liquid Catsuits when I was in the US, but I think I’m going to have to ACTUALLY FOR REAL put my foot down and stop buying liquid lipsticks now. I don’t hate them, but I just prefer traditional lipsticks. The trend is dying and the backlash is starting, people. I hath declared it so.

Whereas the Lippie Pencils are, in my opinion, unapologetically cheap-looking, ColourPop’s various liquid lip offerings appear to have slightly classier packaging. However, if you own these products for more than about five seconds, the sham is exposed. The lettering on rubs off very quickly, and the tubes themselves are not very hefty. Hell, even the Wet N Wild Liquid Catsuits feel more expensive. I mean, Wet N Wild.

And now the lip swatches you have been waiting for with baited breath…

Tuesday

Tuesday is a vibrant red-coral. I bought it hoping it would replace my crusty old Rimmel Kate Moss lipstick in 06, which is one of my favourite lipstick colours ever but which I have not found a satisfactory dupe for yet. Alas, it’s redder and deeper than the Rimmel shade. I still think it’s really pretty, though. I should consider it too orange for my personal comfort level (which, you may remember, has absolutely no tolerance for orange of any kind near my lips), but I think it works. Anyway, this is a lesson for me to stop buying shit online hoping t will miraculously be an exact dupe for something.

L-R: ColourPop Tuesday, Lancôme Posh Pink, YSL 57, Rimmel Kate Moss 06

Lychee

I hope you don’t want to buy this colour, because it’s been discontinued. It’s a nice warm radiant orchid-esque purple. You may recall that I have been on a very long hunt to find a dupe for the OCC Lip Tar in Hoochie, and this is the best option I’ve found yet. Personally I would love this exact warm purple tone but lighter, but I like this as well. The added depth does make it slightly more wearable. As you can see, this colour does not apply totally evenly.

L-R: ColourPop Lychee, Stila Viola, Little Mix by Collection Perrie

Dr. M

Dr. M is a rich forest green. Now, here’s the thing. I have worn this in public once, and I will likely wear it in public another handful of times. But I bought it 100% because of Rihanna. Back in 2014 she wore forest green lipstick to the IHeartRadio Music Awards, and somehow it looked almost natural on her because she is amazing and can pull anything off and also was like the only celebrity who understood the theme of this year’s Met Gala and her makeup for that was also perfect. So, yes, I have been obsessing over the concept of forest green lipstick for three years now, and 6 bucks seemed like a fair price to pay for a very belated attempt to be as cool as RiRi.

So, I like these colours a lot but I am over liquid lipsticks in general because they are too much hassle. If you see me ever reviewing another liquid lipstick on this blog please yell at me until I am forced to repent and reform my hoarding ways. (Actually, don’t, because Lancôme sent me a few shades of their new Matte Shakers so you will be seeing those at some point.)

By the way, this has nothing to do with anything, but here is a picture of my cat to end out this post. He likes to judgmentally watch me taking pictures for my blog.

Is Olaplex worth it?

Posted on May 17, 2017 under Reviews

Olaplex review

I’ve been blonde again for two months now, after a two-month flirtation with red. The red was never quite right: it took much better to my roots than to my bleached lengths, so I had a vibrant auburn that faded into a slightly watery brownish-red. And I just don’t like myself as a redhead; as soon as I went back to blonde I felt like myself again.

Of course, being blonde involves a lot of damage to the hair. This time around, my hair had had enough. For weeks I smothered it in every deep conditioner and hair mask known to man, I soaked it in argan oil, I force-fed it enough protein to keep an army going – and still it was dry, brittle, and hideous.

Olaplex has been getting a lot of hype in the beauty community for awhile now. Despite seeming on the surface like a perfect candidate for the treatments, I’ve been ignoring it since I heard about it because the price tag isn’t exactly negligible. But with my extremely damaged hair, I had to go for the big guns. I had to drop 30 bucks on a 100mL bottle of Olaplex 3.

In case you haven’t heard of Olaplex, it’s a 3-step system that helps to actually repair the damaged and weakened bonds in your hair. Step 1 and 2 are salon-grade: Step 1 would be mixed into any chemical treatments (such as bleach or toner) and step 2 would be applied afterwards. Step 3 is a diluted version of step 2 and is meant to be used at home, between salon treatments. Since I do my own hair colour and since Step 1 and Step 2 are only available to professionals, I only use Step 3.

Step 3 is not a conditioner; it doesn’t add any extra moisture to your hair. You’d apply it after shampooing, leave it on your head for at least 10 minutes, and then rinse it out and finish with conditioner or a hair mask. Personally I’ve had the best results using it as an overnight mask and washing it out in the morning. I’m not a daily hair-washer, so this feels like a bit of a chore to me, but it’s only once a week so it’s not too bad. Plus, in a time crunch, I’ve found that I can go about my day without washing the Olaplex out, though my hair gets oily faster.

So, is Olaplex worth it? Well, having used Olaplex 3 weekly since the end of March, I’m going to have to go with yes. When I first went back to blonde my hair was as damaged as I’d ever seen it. Usually after I chemically process it, it’ll be pretty dry for a bit, but I can always nurse it back to health with hair masks. However, nothing was cutting it this time – no matter how many hair masks I used or how much oil I applied, it was still crunchy, straw-like, and almost impossible to brush through. I had to wear it up or in braids every day to hide the damage. In fact, let me show you how gross it was:

Before Olaplex

Before Olaplex

This was after applying a generous helping of argan oil, and you can still see how dull and dead it looks.

With my first Olaplex treatment, I left it in for 20 minutes and washed it out, then followed up with conditioner. My hair felt better afterwards, but not significantly so. However, each time I’ve used it subsequently I’ve applied it from roots to tips, brushed it through to evenly distribute the product, waited about 20 minutes, and applied another (smaller) amount, then kept it in overnight. That’s where I started seeing results. Here’s my hair after my initial short treatment and two overnight ones:

After 2 Olaplex treatments

After 2 Olaplex treatments

I still think it appears damaged, though it’s obviously a significant improvement which I attribute entirely to Olaplex.

And here it is yesterday, six treatments in:

After 6 Olaplex treatments

After 6 Olaplex treatments

You can clearly see how improved it is. It also feels so much healthier and stronger. Not only is it smooth to the touch, when wet it’s not as elastic-y as it used to be. After I bleached it again in mid-March, every time it was wet it was stringy and stretchy. Now it has regular wet hair texture. Obviously, between the last set of pictures and this one I took off several inches, and a lot of the most damaged parts were cut out. But Olaplex has certainly improved the health of my hair by a significant amount. (By the way, I did go a slightly darker blonde, but the difference in colour is mostly due to lighting!)

I think that with Olaplex there does come a point of diminished return – that is, you can only get your hair so healthy, especially when it’s hair that has sustained three years of DIY bleach damage. My hair is not in the same condition that it was pre-bleach, and I don’t know that it ever will be. But Olaplex has restored a lot of health to my hair, and it looks and feels much better than it has in about two years, which is when I first started to experience noticeable effects of bleach damage. I’ll continue to use it because it certainly can’t hurt; though I don’t think I’ll continue to see massive improvements in the wellbeing of my hair at this point, it’ll be good for maintenance at the very least.

Now, $30 for 100mL (3.4 fl oz) does seem steep. For some reason I’m happy to spend $50 on a foundation, but any hair product that costs more than $10 is a stretch for me. This is silly; if I’m going to chemically process my hair to the extreme I should be willing to put some money into its care and maintenance. And when you break it down, Olaplex 3 treatments are weekly, so it’s not like I’m going to go through this little bottle in a month. Is it still pricey for how much product you get? Yes, of course. But is it worth it to repair traumatized hair? I think so. The fact is, being platinum blonde long-term requires special care. I keep saying I’m going to stop being blonde soon as it’s so bad for my hair, but perhaps Olaplex will allow me to continue on this path for awhile yet…

Review: The Ordinary Colours Serum Foundation

Posted on May 08, 2017 under Reviews

I’ve been using and enjoying The Ordinary’s inexpensive, no frills skincare since last year, so when I saw that they were launching two foundations for practically pennies I found it hard to resist despite the fact that I don’t really need more foundation. They’ve been backlogged with orders for both the Serum Foundation and the Coverage Foundation, but I happened to pop into the Deciem store on Queen Street a few weeks back to find a fully-stocked selection of both. After some excited swatching, I finally settled on a bottle of the Serum Foundation in the shade 1.1N. My friend Katie, who was visiting, picked up a bottle too when I told her that the product cost a mere $6.70 CAD. (For reference, in Canadian drugstores L’Oreal, Maybelline, and Revlon all have foundations which cost $20 and up, so something that’s well under $10 is truly incredible.)

The shade range of the Serum Foundation seems to be pretty extensive. There are 21 shades with multiple undertones represented. From what I can glean from their colour chart, there do seem to be more extensive, nuanced options for light to medium skintones than for dark skintones, but the range does go quite deep.

I really appreciate the naming system for this foundation. Though I can get behind an interesting or clever product name, for foundation I prefer something descriptive and relative. I don’t know if “true beige” is darker or lighter than “shell beige” or “neutral beige”, nor do I know what the undertones of those shades are. However, I know that 1.1N is neutral and lighter than 2.1Y. The foundations are divided into three base numbers, 1 (for light), 2 (medium) and 3 (dark) and contain a letter or letters which indicate undertone. Many brands don’t denote undertone in their shade names, and when they do you’d be lucky to have a neutral option in addition to warm and cool. The Serum Foundation comes with a whopping six undertones: Neutral, Pink, Yellow, Red, Neutral Silver, and Yellow Gold. I’m not sure how this will play out for olive skin.

I chose the shade 1.1N, which is “fair neutral”. I would say that it leans a bit yellow, which I’ve found I like in a foundation. I am honestly amazing at matching myself to foundation based on the back of my hand; this is a great match for me. There are three shades in the 1.0 range for those fairer than me. As someone who is quite fair, I don’t always have the luxury of choice in undertones, so I appreciate that there are quite a few fair shade options with different undertones. I do wish that this luxury was afforded to the deeper tones. There’s quite a subtle gradiation from the lightest to more medium shades, with larger jumps between the darker shades. Dark skin comes in many variations and this should be represented in shade ranges.

Swatches for shade reference! L-R: The Ordinary Serum Foundation in 1.1N, Make Up For Ever Ultra HD in Y215 (my current best shade match), 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 (my fairest foundation). The underside of my arm is fairer than my face so these swatches might look a bit dark/orange. I also underexposed the picture so you could see them a bit better.

In terms of packaging, I have no major complaints. It isn’t the most beautiful packaging, but it’s functional and frankly much more attractive than plenty of drugstore offerings. And, really, when you’re paying $6.70 for a foundation, I don’t think you can complain if the packaging isn’t exquisitely beautiful. The foundation comes in a matte plastic bottle, which, while not as luxurious as NARS’ frosted glass, is extremely travel-friendly. The bottle is small and, unlike most foundations on the market, doesn’t try to convince you that it contains more product than it does. Compared to all the other foundations I have, this one is the least bulkily-packaged, though all four bottles in the image above contain 30mL/1 fl oz of product.

It also has a pump, which I think we can all appreciate. Now that we know that a brand can put out a foundation with a pump for $6.70, can we just agree that there is NO EXCUSE for any foundation to NOT have a pump in this day and age? I will say that the pump is pretty crude; it’s hard to press it down only halfway. The best you can do is to press it lightly, at which point a bit splutters out, and just keep doing this until you have the approximate amount you want. It’s that technique or just suck it up and go for a full pump. There’s also no cap, which does cut down on the travel-friendliness of the product. Also, the matte black stains with product a bit; you can wipe it down but there will always be remnants of foundation on the bottle. I don’t really mind this, personally, but some people might be sticklers for having clean products.

As you would expect, the Serum Foundation has a very light, fluid texture. It’s very spreadable, so you don’t much to cover your whole face. One pump is enough to cover my entire face and build up a second layer where I need it, which is generally on my chin and along my jawline. Lately I’ve come to realize that describing coverage is difficult, since we all have different needs. I’ve seen some people referring to this foundation as akin to a tinted moisturizer, but I think you can get low medium coverage out of it. That said, with the exception of a few hormonal zits and the ensuing post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, I don’t have much to cover, so I may not be the best judge of coverage level.

No makeup. I’ve prepped with moisturizer.

With one pump of The Ordinary Serum Foundation, applied in two thin layers.

Here are some closer before-and-after shots:

You can see an obvious evenness to my skin, but the foundation doesn’t fully cover my freckles/zits/hyperpigmentation.

I have normal to dry skin which right now is more on the dry side due to the change of seasons. I find the Serum Foundation easy to work with, and it clings only minimally to the underside of my nose which is undetectable under regular life conditions. My forehead is another problem zone when it comes to foundations that are too drying, and I didn’t experience any issues blending it across my forehead with a brush, a damp sponge, or my fingers. The finish is natural, but more on the dewy side than matte.

The Serum Foundation is not super long-lasting. I wore this on an uncharacteristically hot day at the end of April, and it did look pretty heavy when mixed with my sweat. But under regular weather conditions I don’t find that it cakes up; it just doesn’t wear for a terribly long time. I’d put this around the 4-hour mark before it starts to wear off my nose (which every foundation does, to be fair) and look shiny. This won’t be one I wear for my long retail workdays!

Here it is after about nine and a half hours of wear, which included a full 8-hour day in retail:

Obviously, ignore the evening lighting – despite this you can see that it’s fairly shiny. I’d probably want to blot this one and powder halfway through my day, which I don’t always have a chance to do when I’m working.

A close-up:

Based on how this performs on my skin, I’d wager that the oily-skinned among us won’t love this. Personally I see this as a casual foundation, one I’d pull out when I don’t want to do a full face of makeup and don’t need it to last a terribly long time. It’s like… a hungover brunch with friends product, I would say.

I’ve very recently gotten into cocktailing my foundations, and the Serum Foundation works great for this purpose. Half a pump of this with one pump of NARS All Day Luminous Weightless is perfection. I love the finish and longevity of ADLW, but it’s finnicky to make work on my dry skin. The Serum Foundation makes it apply much more smoothly but keeps the essential properties of ADLW that I enjoy. It’s also nice enough with MUFE Ultra HD, although I don’t find Ultra HD hard to work with so I don’t really feel the need to mix it, generally.

I think the Serum Foundation is a solid first foundation outing from The Ordinary. Neither packaging nor product are perfect, but I’ve been really enjoying it over the past few weeks and it’s nice to have an easy, lightweight option for everyday wear. I’ll be out of cosmetics retail in a few months and I won’t have such a need for fuller coverage, longer-wearing foundations, and I can see this one having a lot more use in my return to student life. If you’re on the dryer side and prefer a lightweight, lighter coverage foundation, this one might be worth a few bucks.

The Ordinary Serum Foundation can be ordered on the Deciem website (though they do have a backlog of orders!) or picked up at any of the standalone Deciem stores. Maybe. I’ve heard all the Toronto stores are sold out currently, so you might have to be tenacious.