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.
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.
Posted on May 05, 2017 under Reviews
ColourPop loses a lot of its appeal when you’re still dealing with the Canadian dollar being at $0.73 to the almighty USD in addition to steep international shipping. (As a Canadian I love seeing Americans griping about $10 shipping when that’s standard if not inexpensive for me.) However, ColourPop has recently started having free international shipping occasionally, which removes one of those barriers. Normally this isn’t enticing enough to get me to make an order, but sometimes you just need a pick-me-up in the form of 10 products for 50 bucks. (American bucks, that is. I like to live in denial about the exchange rate. Late last year I bought two Green Day tickets on Stubhub and it took me an entire month and a few vodka cranberries to find out what they actually cost me, which was $311. For Green Day tickets in the year 2017. I KNOW.)
Anyway, at the end of January I made a ColourPop purchase mainly on a whim. I got three Ultra Matte Lips, three Lippie Pencils, and four Super Shock Shadows. I swear I didn’t mean to buy TEN products, but I had to get to fifty bucks for free shipping and somehow I managed to justify all of this to myself. We all have our bad days, alright? I have genuine reasons for some of these products and nothing but a whimsical fancy to blame for others.
I’m going to split my reviews into three parts and deal with the different types of products separately. In this post we’re talking Lippie Pencils.
I hate the word Lippie, but I like “Lippie Pencils” far more than “Lippie Stix” and its forced plurality, so I’ll begrudgingly accept it. It’s kind of like when Stephen Harper is your Prime Minister for almost a decade and then Justin Trudeau gets elected and you’re like “Yeah, okay” even though you find the Liberal party far too establishment and think Trudeau is all about the talk and not so much about the walk and you’re a staunch NDP supporter but anything has to be an improvement on Harper. ANYWAY.
I try to keep my lip liner collection to a minimum, but lately I have come around to them as a general concept. I prefer to slap on some lipstick without a liner, but slippery formulas do a lot better with something to cling to. I also find that I have a fairly ill-defined lower lip line and liner helps me define it for a crisp look before I apply my lipstick. The idea of spending a lot on lip liners enrages me because to me that’s like paying double to use my lipsticks. Unfortunately the colour range of drugstore lip liners leaves a lot to be desired, so ColourPop seemed like a decent alternative. I will say that their liner range, though it includes quite a few unconventional shades, isn’t as extensive as I’d hoped. Not every lip colour stocked on their website has a corresponding liner, which would be truly awesome. However, if you’re looking for a dark purple or black lip liner, ColourPop has you covered! (I mean, or you could use cheap black Rimmel eyeliner, which is what I do when I wear black lipstick, which is more often than I ever imagined.)
These liners are regular, sharpenable pencils housed in plastic packaging. They’re very creamy and glide on easily. They’re comfortable to wear; you could wear these on their own without any trouble. I know some people have had issues with sharpening the plastic packaging, but they’re fine with my NARS sharpener.
The packaging does get a little janky because it’s white plastic that seems to have an actual compulsion to stain horribly, but I’m not too concerned about it. I prefer an all-black to all-white aesthetic, and I think white packaging usually looks cheap, but, I mean, ColourPop is cheap, so who am I to complain?
Anyway, here’s a closer look at the colours I bought.
I thought this would be a good everyday liner which I could use with a variety of lipsticks. Basically an alternative to my oft-repurchased Rimmel East End Snob. It is a nice slightly dusty pink colour which I most often wear on its own, but I probably wouldn’t repurchase. It is very similar to East End Snob but a lot more hassle for me to get my hands on.
First, ew at this name. I really hate ColourPop’s marketing and basically everything they choose to be. Anyway, I bought this because I have a lot of fuchsia lip colours but find it surprisingly hard to find a fuchsia lip liner with the correct undertones and depth. This one isn’t quite right, either, and this is a lesson in why you shouldn’t buy shit online, sight unseen. This is much brighter and cooler-toned than I was hoping for, which is what fuchsia liners seem to always be. However, I have no complaints formula-wise, and I have received compliments when I’ve worn this liner on its own. I don’t think this looks bad on me by any means, but my preference for a fuchsia is just a little bit warmer and more muted, and every time I put this on I sit there looking at my face and thinking, “Oh. Hmm.”
I love the blackened purple of my Stila liquid lipstick in Chianti (pictured here in my first-ever ColourPop post). I think it’s amazing and badass and I love wearing it. But it does feather a bit as dark lipsticks are wont to do on me (maybe because of my shitty lower lip line?), so I got Nevermind to help with that issue. I probably won’t ever wear this alone for reasons that are probably obvious from the pictures – though the camera picks up a lot more unevenness than you can see in real life. This is pretty much a perfect match for the Stila lipstick colour-wise, though, so I call this one a success.
I’m pretty impressed with the formula of these liners and I’d consider picking up more, though I should probably stop messing around with both online-only makeup brands generally and ColourPop specifically. However, I really have no complaints about the creamy, glide-on formula of these pencils, and they’re one of the best ColourPop products I’ve tried. I just wish ColourPop were a little easier to justify for this Canadian.
Posted on March 30, 2017 under Reviews
I almost hate to add my voice into the fray when it comes to the Anastasia Modern Renaissance palette, aka the most-hyped release of 2016, aka an undisputed inclusion in every YouTuber’s best of 2016 video, aka you have all heard this palette talked about to death. But, well, after six months of lusting after it, chasing after it at different Sephora, and finally pulling the trigger when I saw that it was in stock online and I was armed with a gift card, I love it so much that I had to write about it. I mean, I don’t want it to be a shock when I include in my best of 2017 roundup, you know? I want you guys to be like, “Duh, Clem loves that palette, of course she would be here, saying it was one of her favourites of the year only a year later than everyone else.”
Okay. Deep breath. Let’s back up.
I tend to ignore new palette releases. They just don’t interest me much. In 2016 I purchased one palette, Kat Von D Shade and Light, which was my birthday gift to myself only because Modern Renaissance was out of stock. Shade and Light is also a very functional palette, one which I can use on its own and which fills basically every gap any other eyeshadow palette leaves. It’s lovely, and was one of my favourites of 2016, but it’s not really exciting. Just very functional. Before that, the last palette I bought was… I don’t know! Because once you have a few neutral palettes, you have every neutral palette. Oh, these brands try to fool you by switching up the order of the eyeshadows or including a blue or purple here and there, but if you look at most new palette releases shade by shade you probably have almost everything in it already, and are you really going to use that shitty purple shade that Too Faced includes in every palette anyway? (No, not every palette released in 2016 was neutral, but I know that I’m definitely not going to use the UD Moondust palette ever in my life, so that didn’t catch my attention either.)
When the Modern Renaissance palette was first released, I ignored it as I do with most new palette releases. But when I saw emilynoel83’s glowing review of it, I was sold. And then I became obsessed with it for the next six months until I finally owned it.
To me, this palette toes the perfect line. It has a bunch of shades that are interesting and which I don’t already have in my collection, and the more basic shades are perfect and functional and allow me to be a lazy person and use the palette for a complete eye look without having to reach for anything else. I suppose that I don’t really need another matte medium brown, a matte dark brown, or a light shimmery champagne shade, but dammit I appreciate having them there. I’ll delve into this more in a bit.
Obviously, I love the more intense shadows – Love Letter, Venetian Red, Red Ochre, and Realgar. They’re absolutely stunning and I love the looks I’ve managed to get with them. They can be used for quite bold looks or be used more subtly. But I want to give a shoutout to some of the shades that are in the middle – not those workhorse, every-palette-should-have-them shades and not the standout reds and oranges. Buon Fresco is one of my absolute favourites: it’s a great transition shade on my skintone and, while neutral, it’s a little bit special and like nothing else I own. I really like Raw Sienna and Burnt Umber, which are both gorgeous, neutral yet interesting matte shades. I guess shades like those two aren’t super hard to come by with the current warm smokey eye trend, but I personally have nothing even close to them in my collection.
Everything you’ve heard about these shadows is true: they’re super soft and they pretty much blend themselves. I think I find them easier to work with than LORAC Pro shadows, which I love. I definitely like both the shimmers and mattes better than Urban Decay shimmers and mattes. (Are we still using UD as the gold standard for eyeshadow, or…?) These shadows do kick up a lot of powder and thus are prone to fallout if you don’t tap off your brush thoroughly, but as long as I do that I don’t have any issues. All of the shades are soft and smooth, but I’m especially impressed with the matte shadows, since those tend to be chalkier and stiffer in general. I can’t believe how soft they feel to the touch.
The brush that comes with the palette is okay – the flat side is pretty good for packing on shadow or creating the shape of the outer V. I don’t love the fluffy side, but it’s useable. Personally I’d always prefer that brands omit the brush and lower the price of the palette by a few bucks. I have a decent amount of brushes and I prefer to just use my own, which I’ve picked out, than to have a brand decide what brushes I need.
Now I do want to talk about duping this palette. Clearly, hordes of people are buying it for the intense colours, but there are a lot of shades in this palette which are pretty similar to ones that you probably own. I wanted to be really thorough here, so I busted out all my of my eyeshadow palettes to find dupes:
And here is what my lengthy investigation uncovered!
L-R: Anastasia Tempera, Urban Decay WOS (Naked Basics), Kat Von D Latimus (Shade and Light), Urban Decay Strange (Naked 3), LORAC Cream (Pro).
L-R: Anastasia Tempera, Urban Decay Foxy (Naked Basics), Marc Jacobs, Stila Bare (In the Light), Stila Chinois (Eyes are the Window – Spirit), Kat Von D Laetus (Shade and Light)
Tempera is one of the least special colours in the palette. It’s a satin finish peachy beige, and I have a lot of similar shades in my collection, though most of them lean more yellow or pink than peach. I use shades like this a lot to set my eye primer and make the shadows I put on top blend more easily, but I rarely use them on their own, so I don’t really care if this type of shade is unique.
L-R: Anastasia Vermeer, Urban Decay Dust (Naked 3), LORAC Nude (Pro), LORAC Champagne (Pro)
Vermeer is a pink-leaning champagne; ABH describes it as an “iridescent shell”, which I think is fairly accurate. I have some shimmery pink shades, but nothing exactly like it. It’s not standout in its uniqueness, but it’s very versatile and it’s one of the shades that makes this palette very useable for me.
L-R: Anastasia Buon Fresco, Urban Decay Limit (Naked 3), Urban Decay Nooner (Naked 3), LORAC Mauve (Pro)
Buon Fresco is a very cool, neutral taupe with quite a lot of lavender (it didn’t photograph very well in this swatch). Everything I have that’s at all similar is a lot warmer and more brown.
L-R: Anastasia Antique Bronze, LORAC Garnet (Pro), Stila Sunset (In the Light), Stila Barefoot (Eyes are the Window – Spirit)
Antique Bronze is, well, a bronze. I have comparable shades in my collection, though nothing I’d call a dead-on dupe.
L-R: Anastasia Cyprus Umber, LORAC Espresso (Pro), LORAC Sable (Pro), Stila Sandstone (In the Light), Kat Von D Solas (Shade and Light), Kat Von D Saleos (Shade and Light)
Cyprus Umber is a deep neutral brown. I have plenty of colours that are similar, though they tend to lean a bit warmer.
L-R: Anastasia Primavera, MJ, Stila Kitten (In the Light; Eyes are the Window – Spirit), theBalm Iron Maid-in (theBalm Jovi), Stila Oasis (Eyes are the Window – Spirit), LORAC Light Bronze (Pro)
Primavera is a light gold champagne. It’s deeper than a lot of my champagne shades, though lighter than some of the light golds I have. It also is far more high-shine than anything else I have. The general effect of this shadow can be duplicated throughout my collection, but again, this colour is a workhorse for me and one that I’m glad to have in this palette.
L-R: Anastasia Warm Taupe, LORAC Taupe (Pro), Stila Bliss (In the Light), Stila Puppy (Eyes are the Window – Spirit), Kat Von D Samael (Shade and Light), Urban Decay Naked 2 (Naked Basics), MJ, theBalm Allegro (theBalm Jovi)
Warm Taupe is a very descriptive name for this shade. As you can see, my eyeshadow collection is full of similar shades, for good reason: most palettes include a colour like this for the crease. Again, not terribly unique (and I believe this is a shade that ABH sells individually, so it’s not exclusive to this palette), but almost necessary for a fully-functional palette.
If you’re the type of person who likes palettes to be totally unique, or who depots all your shadows, you may find this one has too many redundant shades to justify the interesting ones. However, I find that a lot of the more neutral shades don’t have exact dupes in my collection and that I use all of the shades anyway. There’s not a single colour in this palette that I’d swap out: they all serve a function, and some of the more boring colours make this palette extremely functional as a self-contained unit. In the three months that I’ve had this palette I haven’t felt the need to pull in other shades. Personally I’m a palette-lover as opposed to a collector of singles; I like having everything I need in one place, even if it means a bit of redundancy throughout my collection. Because the overall colour story of this palette is completely unique in the context of my collection, I’m not at all bothered by having borderline dupes for some of the shades. I find that everyone has a different relationship with palettes, and if you’re the type of person who prefers picking out singles to avoid dupes, you may be put off my some of the more neutral shades in this palette. However, if you’re like me, and you like to be lazy and have someone pick out colours for you and put them all in one place, you might really like this particular palette for its versatility and simultaneous usefulness and uniqueness.
And here are some looks I’ve created with this palette; hopefully these will demonstrate how versatile this particular array of shadows can be.
You would have seen this look in my review of the Bite Lip Pencils. One of my go-to looks is a bronzey or coppery eye, so I get a lot of use out of Antique Bronze. Here I deepened it up with Cyprus Umber and used Raw Sienna to add some warmth.
From the Modern Renaissance palette: Vermeer all over the eyelid, Buon Fresco in the crease, Cyprus Umber on the outer V. On my lips: Maybelline Creamy Matte lipstick in Lust For Blush.
You can see the lavender tones in Buon Fresco a lot better here. I absolutely love this shadow in the crease paired with a light pinkish shadow all over the lid; here I’ve paired it with Vermeer, but it also looks great with NARS Callisto, which is a high shine silvery pink. To ground this particular look I added a tiny bit of Cyprus Umber for depth. This look is neutral and wearable, but I think Buon Fresco makes it a bit interesting.
From the Modern Renaissance palette: Primavera all over the eyelid; Realgar in the crease, inner corners; Burnt Orange to blend out the edges. On my lips: Buxom Plumpline Lip Liner in Hush Hush
This is a more dramatic cut-crease type look. Normally I avoid anything orange on myself, but I thought it looked really cool with my red hair. For extra drama I brought it down into my inner corners. I decided to leave my lower lashline bare so that it was a stark, more editorial look. My boss said she loved this look on me, and I did too!
From the Modern Renaissance palette: Tempera all over the eyelid; Warm Taupe in the crease; Love Letter across the lashline, in the outer V, and in the crease. Eyeliner: Lancôme Grandiôse in Fuchsia. On my lips: YSL Rouge Volupté in 17 over Rimmel Exaggerate Lip Liner in Enchantment.
My favourite way to wear Love Letter is in this type of shape. I did something similar a few months ago, though this time I made the eyeshadow more of a focus than the eyeliner. This shadow also looks great all over the eyelid and blended out at the edges. Obviously, it’s a dramatic look, but I’m into it.
From the Modern Renaissance palette: Primavera all over the eyelid; Warm Taupe in the crease; Red Ochre on the outer V, inner corners, in the crease, and on the lower lashline. On my lips: NARS Audacious lipstick in Audrey.
Red Ochre is the perfect balance between neutral and dramatic, and I think it makes for an excellent focal point in a halo eye. Usually I put shadow on the outer third to half of my lower lashline, but I thought for this look it looked best all the way along. My boss loved this one on me too!
I find the Modern Renaissance palette absolutely delightful. It forcefully brought me out of an eyeshadow rut and is the first eyeshadow-related launch that’s excited me pretty much since the beginning of time (or my makeup-wearing days, anyway). I think the formula is top-notch and the shadows are thoughtfully-selected. It’s the perfect balance between familiar and novel. I get a lot of use out of this palette and I’m so glad I finally own it.
P.S. For further reading, I highly recommend Auxiliary Beauty’s thoroughly interesting post, “How Renaissance is the ABH Modern Renaissance Palette“?
P.P.S. I am blonde again because this is me and I will never be happy unless I’m blonde. Yes, my hair is staging a violent rebellion which only Olaplex can put down.