As this post goes live, my friends Paige and MJ are getting married. This is exciting enough as it is, but I’m also officiating the wedding. I thought this joyous occasion called for another “What’s in my travel makeup bag?” post.
A note on semantics: I’m writing this post in advance (no wifi at our Airbnb, plus I will be busy, plus they are literally getting married AS THIS POST GOES LIVE, and I will obviously be present), so everything will be in future tense.
So, the wedding is in a small town halfway between Montreal and Ottawa, and I’m travelling by train. I’m also rolling this into a little side trip to Montreal, so I’m packing for that as well. I’m travelling by train, so there are no liquid restrictions.
First, I want to show off my makeup bag because it’s seriously the score of the century. I got it for 90% off – it totalled $2.50. And it’s actually pretty cute! I feel silly buying a makeup bag when I have so many that I’ve accumulated through my three years working in cosmetics, but this one is special. All my other makeup bags are envelope-style, which means that when I pack them to the brim I have to empty them out to find whatever I’m looking for in the dark cavern.
This makeup bag, on the other hand, has a clear pocket and the shape allows me to see what’s inside of it a lot more clearly. And it has a mesh compartment at the top that’s perfect for brushes. I’d go with a different makeup bag when packing light, but you can’t really go to a wedding and pack light in the makeup department, can you? This bag fits SO MUCH, so it’s perfect for this occasion.
For base I’m going with my longest-wearing product: Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation in Alabaster. I did buy it pretty much specifically for the wedding, which seems silly, but I don’t want to worry about my makeup melting off my face! Because I’m extra, I also packed my Serum Foundation from The Ordinary because I’m definitely not going to feel like putting on the Hourglass foundation when I’m going out for St. Viateur bagels in Montreal.
In terms of concealer, I was feeling cheap when I ran out of my NARS RCC and replaced it with Maybelline Instant Age Rewind in Fair. I had this once before in the brightening shade and didn’t like it, but the shade Fair works a lot better for me. I’m also packing my Maybelline Master Conceal for blemishes, although I’m hoping I won’t need it! Going high-low with the skin here: a $56 foundation and two Maybelline concealers.
Overall I’ve been loving loose powder, but it’s a pain to travel with and doesn’t lend itself to quick touch-ups. For those reasons, I’m packing my Rimmel Stay Matte.
For blush I’m going with two from Hourglass: Luminous Flush, a peach that I’ll be wearing on the day of the wedding, and Mood Exposure, which is my favourite blush ever. (You all know this, I’m sure, and you should assume that I will bring Mood Exposure on every trip I ever take!) I could probably get away with just Luminous Flush, but I don’t know what type of makeup I’ll be doing on the other days of my trip and Mood Exposure is a safe, goes-with-everything option.
I’m of course bringing my Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder in Light. I’ve actually kind of been off contouring lately, but obviously I’m going all-out glam for the wedding and probably if I go out with my friends in Montreal too! (Actually, when I go out with my friends I usually do, like, red eyeshadow and forest green lips, but contouring just adds to the over-the-topness of that vibe.) I’ve decided to pop in my Physician’s Formula Butter Bronzer – I don’t know if I’ll end up using it because I’m bronzer-ambivalent, but it can’t hurt to have it.
I’m also highlighter-ambivalent, but a wedding surely demands it. I’ve selected two options from similar colour families: the Glossier Haloscope in Quartz, which is probably my favourite highlighter, and Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Moonstone, which is a little more blingy and which wears better. I might layer them or I might just go with Becca, but the Haloscope is a good casual product. Like, I’m not going to go all in with the SSP to go eat a bagel, you know?
Boring things first: I would be nowhere without my Milani Eyeshadow Primer. I’m not sure if I’ll use liquid liner on the day of the wedding, but I will want it at some point during my trip, so I’ve thrown in Stila Stay All Day in Intense Black. I will want to tightline with Marc Jacobs Highliner in Blacquer, as it’s a step I never miss. The NYX Wonder Pencil in Light will brighten up my waterline nicely. And of course, I bought my favourite mascara, Clarins Truly Waterproof, specifically for the wedding. It does amazing things to my lashes, and waterproof is a must at a wedding!
Speaking of lashes, I have the Ardell Knotted Flares. The last time I wore false lashes I was in university and I peeled them off at 5am and slapped them onto the nearest surface. This time I’m going with a few placed strategically. Lash glue is just the one that came with my Tanya Burr lashes, because it’s what I have. (I actually totally would have worn those lashes if I hadn’t run them into the ground.)
My brow products are so standard I should stop mentioning them: Maybelline Colour Tattoo in Tough as Taupe and L’Oreal Brow Stylist Plumper Brow Gel. I hate how much I like this brow gel, because it’s $15 and that is absurd. L’Oreal needs to humble itself and calm down with these prices.
I love my Modern Renaissance palette something fierce, and it has everything I need for both a softer wedding look and something more interesting should the compulsion grip me during my trip. When I’m in Montreal for some reason I am drawn to do crazy makeup, so the berries and reds in the palette are a safe bet.
Other fun things: NYX Vivid Brights Eyeliner in Sapphire and two ColourPop Super Shock shadows in Paradox (a red berry) and Animal (a neon orange).
Wedding glam: Stila Magnificent Metal Liquid Eyeshadow in Rose Gold Retro because it is oh so beautiful and this is probably my best excuse to wear it. The Lise Watier 24 Hours Glam Eyeshadow Stick in Satin Glam is perfect for a strong inner corner highlight.
Even when I pack light, I go overboard with lip colours. I just never know what I’m going to be feeling, you know? This time I’m packing two options for the day of the wedding (Revlon Balm Stain in Romantic, a warm sheer red, and NARS Audacious in Brigitte, my perfect peach), an easy moisturizing colour for travel days (YSL Rouge Volupté #17, a true staple in my travel makeup bag, which I pair with ColourPop Lippie Pencil in Contempo), and a few fun colours to give me options: Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution in Electric Poppy and Little Mix by Collection in Perrie. Somehow I forgot to include the latter two in my picture, but you can see them swatched below:
L-R: Revlon Romantic, NARS Brigitte, ColourPop Contempo, YSL #17, Charlotte Tilbury Electric Poppy, Collection Perrie. On my lips Revlon Romantic is more obviously red; because it’s sheer the colour looks a lot lighter on my pale inner arm.
Tweezerman has me covered with their eyelash curler and tweezers. I don’t know if I’ll actually need to sharpen anything, but if I do, my NARS sharpener has my back. Finally, I’m bringing my Quo Blending Sponge for the stick foundation.
I tend to pack every brush I’ve ever touched in my life when I travel, and I didn’t cut back too much here:
Eye/lip brushes: ELF Eyelash and Brow Wand, million-year-old Forever 21 angled brush, bdellium tools 766 Blending Brush
, MAC 217, ELF Crease Brush, Elf Concealer Brush x2 (best brush ever for packing shadow on), Real Techniques Base Shadow Brush, Elf Eye Contour Brush, Real Techniques Bold Metals 201 Pointed Crease Brush, Real Techniques Smudging Brush, Quo Crease Blending Brush, Lise Watier Eye Contour Brush, Real Techniques Accent Brush, Real Techniques Detail Brush, Elf Small Smudge Brush x2 (amazing for the lower lashline), Real Techniques Lip Brush, ELF Lip Brush.
Will I use all of these? Probably not, but it’s good to have options.
I separated my skincare/toiletries into a different bag just for ease of access. I really like using my Glossier pouch for travel because it’s cute and functional. I do have a TSA-approved clear bag from Muji, but the Glossier one is cuter.
For skincare, I mainly went with travel minis just to save space, since full size skincare can be so bulky. That said, I am not one to ever skimp on my skincare routine, so I still brought a lot…
I got my Caudalie birthday gift from Sephora last month, which was perfect timing for the trip. I actually really like how the Vinoperfect Radiance Serum and Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet layer under makeup. In my real life I have an eye cream for day and one for night, but in my travel life I’m bringing Biotherm Homme Aquapower Eye Depuffer for both. Nivea lip balm is basic but necessary!
I have weaned myself off Lancôme Bi-Facil in favour of La Roche-Posay Respectissime, but the travel minis sure come in handy! I repurposed an empty sample of the Vichy micellar solution and filled it with some good old-fashioned Bioderma Sensibio. For real cleansing I’m bringing my mini of the La Roche-Posay Cleansing Milk. I normally favour an oil followed by a gel, but I can’t be bothered when I travel.
For nighttime I’m bringing along my Hyaluronic Acid from The Ordinary for general hydration as well as their Lactic Acid 10% for an exfoliating step (not pictured ’cause I’m stupid). Normally I have a separate night cream, but I’ll use the Caudalie just to save the space. If I feel I need it, I can use my Squalane from The Ordinary, which I can also use as a body moisturizer and on the ends of my hair. And, obviously, I could never even fall asleep without my Nuxe Rêve de Miel lip balm…!
I’m also bringing these Life Brand sheet masks for me and my friends so that we can have a fun girls’ night the day before the wedding. I don’t really think these masks do anything other than moisturize, but there’s something about sitting in your Airbnb farmhouse with four of your friends with a sheet mask on and a glass of rosé in your hand, you know?
I forgot to photograph my sunscreen, but I’m bringing Vichy Ideal Soleil Ultra-Fluid SPF 50 for the face and La Roche-Posay Anthelios Lightweight Lotion SPF60 for the body.
Hair-wise, I decanted a bit of my Light Blue Shade purple shampoo and my current hair mask (Ice Cream Restructuring Mask with Keratin), since my hair demands very specific products. (The D and N labels are leftover from when I used these containers for day and night cream on another trip!) I’m also bringing my Olaplex Number 3 so that I can have the most perfect, damage-free hair in the world. Honestly, I could cut down most of the products I’m bringing, but my hair is so damn high-maintenance these days that it’s a pain when I travel.
Hairspray is one of those things that you just can’t decant, but my full-sized bottle is huge and bulky so I was forced (forced, I say!) to buy a mini. I was going to go with Elnett, but when I saw that the travel-size was $7.99 I decided to cheap out on the $2.99 TreSemmé because what the goddamn hell.
On the other hand, I packed my full-size dry shampoo because fuuuuuck mini Batistes are expensive as shit and I already have two bottles of the full size on backup.
I inherited this travel-sized hair straightener from my mom a million years ago. I use this technique to curl my hair with it.
I have clear elastics and bobby pins in case I want to do anything fancier than quick curls. Super exciting, right? The black headband is essential to keep my hair out of my face when I’m doing my makeup.
And that is everything! Phew. Being in a wedding requires a lot of shit, huh?
PREVIOUSLY: Gallivanting around Europe makeup bag | Funeral/graduation hybrid makeup bag (pretty similar to this one, actually, but with way worse photos)
Whew, that’s a mouthful. I’m so bad at being concise, everyone. Anyway, since one of my goals this year was to be more mindful of my beauty product consumption, I thought I’d check in here. I’ve been dutifully cataloguing everything that’s come into my possession this year in two separate lists. I’m using one list to track the products I’ve purchased myself and one to include gratis from work, PR samples, gifts, GWP, and other things of that nature. I’m going to share those lists with you along with the dollar value of each product. Some products will have a second price listed in brackets which will reflect what I actually paid for the product after my 30% employee discount. I’ve also been converting anything purchased in USD to CAD. Because the dollar value fluctuates, those values may not be accurate as of right now, but they reflect how much I paid in CAD at the time of purchase.
Products purchased in between January 1, 2017 and March 31, 2017
- 01/02: Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder – Light – $53 – $30 gift card used. Replaced my previous contour product, which was about two and a half years old.
- 01/02: Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Palette – $55. I had been attempting to buy this palette since mid-June, so I feel justified in the purchase.
- 01/11: The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 – $6.80.
- 01/11: Nuxe Rêve de Miel Lip Balm – $17 ($11.90). Replacement.
- 01/15: Maybelline Fit Me Foundation – Matte and Poreless – 110 Porcelain – $5.99. This was an impulse buy because it was on deep sale. (Normal price in Canada is about $12.99.) It’s okay, but I didn’t need it and I don’t love it. I never used to be the kind of person who would impulse buy foundation of all things.
- 01/23: L’Oreal Brow Stylist Plumper Brow Gel Mascara – Transparent – $5. Replacement for my Essence brow gel.
- 01/23: TreSemmé Colour Revitalize Shampoo – $4. I bought this when I went red thinking it was a great deal: a mere four bucks for nearly a litre of shampoo! Of course, now that I’m blonde I’m back on the purple shampoo bandwagon, so I won’t need this anymore. It was a good deal at the time, though…
- 02/01: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Riche Moisturizer Set – $31 ($21.70). This was a replacement. I bought it in a set because it was the same price and I got some minis that I can bring travelling.
- 02/01: Quo Blending Sponge – $7 ($4.90). Replacement for my very crusty and old blending sponge.
- 02/01: Essence Gel Top Coat – $4.49 ($3.14). I bought this because I needed a new top coat and didn’t want to splurge for Sally Hansen, but I ended up buying Sally two months later because this one isn’t as good. Lesson learned.
- 02/01: L’Oreal Voluminous Lash Primer – $10.49 ($7.34): I bought this to use as a primer under coloured mascaras so they’ll show up better on my lashes. Not a totally necessary purchase, but it does do what I wanted it to.
- 02/08: ColourPop Super Shock Shadows – Stereo, Paradox, Animal, Boy Band – $5 USD or $6.53 CAD each = $20 USD or $26.12 CAD total. I’ll review these at some point and get into my reasoning behind purchasing them, I promise!
- 02/08: ColourPop Lippie Pencil – Contempo, Nevermind, Heart On – $5 USD or $6.53 CAD each = $15 USD or $19.59 CAD total.
- 02/08: ColourPop Ultra Matte Lips – Dr. M, Lychee, Tuesday – $6 USD or $7.84 CAD each = $18 USD or $23.52 CAD total.
- 02/14: MUFE Ultra HD Foundation – Y215 – $52. Technically this was a replacement for my used up bottle of Ultra HD, but since I already had two foundations on the go I’m not sure this counts as a replacement… In my notes I’ve marked it as such, so obviously I was in a cheating mood that day.
- 02/21: La Roche-Posay Respectissime Eye Makeup Remover – $19.50 ($13.65). Replacement for the same product, which I used up.
- 03/14: Ice Cream Restructuring Mask With Keratin – $14.99 ($10.49). I had a very serious love affair with another Ice Cream hair mask, so when I saw that they had this one with keratin I went for it without second thought. I did need a new deep conditioner. So far so good!
- 03/17: Olaplex Step 3 – $30.70. Not a replacement, but a necessary purchase as after I went back to blonde my hair was in terrible condition. It’s made a huge difference already and it’s only been a few weeks!
Total value (CAD): $405.18
Total spent (CAD): $334.84
Honestly, I’ve never tracked my beauty spending before so I’m not sure how to feel about this number! For the most part, I don’t think it’s bad, considering I’ve included skincare, bodycare, hair products, and nail products in this and not just makeup. I did make a few frivolous and/or impulse purchases, but if you take the ColourPop order and Maybelline foundation out of the equation, almost all of it was either a) a replacement, b) necessary though not a replacement, or c) something I thought about for a long time before buying. The dollar value might seem a little high, but I don’t regret most of these purchases. By the way, if you’re American hopefully you’ll see our shitty dollar value reflected in these prices: if you convert my total spent into USD it’d be less than $250. HOWEVER I did get to use my employee discount on a lot of these items, so as you can see the actual dollar value is obviously higher if the average consumer were to buy all this stuff. I’m not mad about what I bought this quarter, but I still think I can trim the fat a bit next time!
Products received at no cost between January 1, 2017 and March 31, 2017
- 01/18: Marc Jacobs Style Eye Con No 7 Plush Eyeshadow Palette in The Lolita – $71 – Gift. My friend Kristin got me this for Christmas (and of course we had our gift swap almost a month after Christmas).
- 01/28: Bite Beauty Lip Liners – 020 and 044 – $20 each ($40 value) – PR. Received from Influenster.
- 01/28: Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipstick – Honeycomb and Whiskey – Deluxe Samples – $30 full size – $10 sample value ($20 for both) – PR. Received from Influenster.
- 02/14: Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair Hair Mask – Deluxe Sample – $46 full size – $5.75 sample value. Used Sephora points.
- 02/25: Reversa Antioxidant Booster Serum – $49 – Gratis. I completed an online Reversa training and received this as gratis.
- 02/28: StriVectin Active Infustion Youth Serum – $99 – Gratis. Received at a brand school.
- 02/28: StriVectin All Smooth Starter Trio (Haircare Deluxe Sample Kit) – $30 – Gratis. Received at a brand school.
- 02/28: StriVectin Silver Peel-Off Purifier – Deluxe Sample – $72 full size – $7.20 sample value – Gratis. Received at a brand school.
- 03/15: Maybelline Creamy Matte Lipstick – Burgundy Blush – $10.99 – Work. Occasionally my boss puts out a bag full of discontinued products for us to pick through. This was in one of those bags. I couldn’t resist it since I know I adore the Maybelline Creamy Matte formula.
- 03/29: Avène YsthéAL Intense – $55 – Gratis. Received at a brand school.
- 03/29: Avène Eau Thermale – $16.50 – Gratis. Received at a brand school.
- 03/29: Avène TriXera Nutri-Fluid Lotion – $30 – Gratis. Received at a brand school.
- 03/29: A-Derma Exomega 2-in-1 Shower Gel – $25 – Gratis. Received at a brand school.
- 03/29: Ducray Anaphase+ Strengthening Conditioner – $26 – Gratis. Received at a brand school.
Total value: $485.44
So, this is the area where I think I struggle the most. In the cosmetics world spring and fall are when you go to brand training schools, aka sit in a hotel conference room with stale pastries for 4 hours learning about the new launches so that you can walk away with a generous swag bag. You’ll see more of my training school hauls reflected in my next check-in post as well. I give away quite a bit of the stuff I receive without even opening it, but even so I end up with a lot of skincare goodies. I try to only keep things I’ll use, but I don’t like to have too much open at one time, so inevitably some of it goes in the backup drawer. I really do try to limit the products I own, but at the same time part of my job is trying a lot of products so I can give good recommendations to customers. So I don’t know…
All in all, a lot of stuff came into my possession this quarter. In terms of what I bought, I feel good about most of it, though I did somewhat succumb to impulse. I think the gratis category is kind of a lost cause at this time of year because I’m being plied with products left, right, and centre. But I think I’m doing okay, all things considered!
(Jeez, 38 new products in 3 months does seem like a lot though.)
Posted on January 19, 2017 under Thoughts
I’ve had a bunch of makeup reviews that I want to get up here, but I rely completely on natural lighting for my photos and it’s been unrelentingly dark and grey here lately. There are some really exciting new launches and new-to-me products that I want to showcase here, but today I’m going to improvise and share some of my tips on how to be a smart makeup buyer. These come both from my own experiences as an avid makeup consumer over the past four years as well as my professional experience working cosmetics retail for coming up on three years.
Research, research, research
We’ll start with the most obvious tip. There really are no guarantees when it comes to purchasing makeup. For whatever reason, a much-loved or super hyped product may not work out for you. Skin type and personal preferences play huge roles in our experiences of different products. But, obviously, the first step when it comes to becoming a smart beauty consumer is to cut down on impulse purchases. Buying blind isn’t guaranteed to lead to disappointment, but when you carefully research each product you buy you’ll have a better idea of what you can expect. I look for detailed reviews which clearly describe colour, formula, and application. I know that longwinded beauty reviews aren’t really the norm, but I appreciate a 1500 word lipstick review far more than one that’s just like, “I love this! It’s sooo pigmented and feels great.” The more details, the better – that way, I’m able to make a decision based on my preferences rather than the blogger’s. I mean, if I read a rave review of a lipstick that mentions that it has a very creamy, almost slippery formula, I’m probably not going to buy that product even if the blogger loves it, because I know I prefer a slightly dryer, longer-lasting formula.
Be aware of what you have in your collection
When you’re a makeup enthusiast and you have more products than you functionally need (inasmuch as you need any makeup products), it’s easy to forget what you already have. Most of us makeup hobbyists have probably been in the position of bringing home a new product only to realize that it’s pretty much the same as something we already own. I think this gets exacerbated further by the rise of eyeshadow palettes. Once you own a few neutral palettes, everything else just becomes different combinations of colours that you already own with a few new shades here and there. I rarely get inspired by new palettes anymore because I know that I own pretty much all the shades already – and I own way fewer eyeshadow palettes than your average YouTuber. It’s also easy for me personally to accumulate multiple lipsticks of the same shade. When I first got into makeup I kept buying fuchsias because that was a colour I was really into at the time and which I thought looked great on me. I think that sometimes we get caught up in hype and want to try a new product and so we buy a colour that we know we’ll like so we can try the formula. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do this if you really want to, but at this point I’m not going to buy something just to try it. I’ll buy it if it’s something I don’t already have, or if it’ll replace something I do have.
Don’t get fooled by packaging
I don’t mean not to let pretty packaging convince you to buy a product (which is also true, and which I need to get better at myself). The fact is that a lot of packaging is specifically designed to deceive you into thinking you’re getting more than you are. Lyn at Brutally Honest Beauty has a great series devoted to exposing this. I see this all the time with my customers. I can’t tell you how many times a customer has looked at the L’Oreal True Match foundation (not an affiliate link; there’s an image on the page for reference) and exclaimed at how small it is. They’re always shocked when I pick up a bottle of the True Match Lumi and tell them that it contains the same amount of product. Almost every foundation is 1oz (30mL); it’s one of the few types of makeup products with a very standardized size across brands. Bulky packaging might fool you into thinking you’re getting more, but with a few rare exceptions such as the MUFE Water Blend, you’re not!
This is the case with a lot of products.
From the packaging I’d assume that the two full-sized liquid lipsticks seen here contain about the same amount of product and that the mini Stila one contains about a third of the product of the full-size. (The tube is considerably smaller in all dimensions – it’s shorter and thinner.) However, the mini contains half the product of the full size (0.05 fl oz and 0.10 fl oz, respectively), and the hot pink Joe Fresh lipstick contains twice as much product as the Stila one, with 0.20 fl oz. You’d never know that just from looking at them!
Twist-up chubby lip pencils can be really convenient when it comes to application, but the packaging is also pretty deceptive as the product doesn’t go very far down in the tube. This Revlon Balm Stain contains 2.7g of product; the more standard Maybelline bullet lipstick has 4.2g.
While the NARS blush compact pictured here is clearly larger than the Sleek blush, the Sleek product actually contains 8g of product to NARS’ 4.8g.
Clearly, it’s incredibly hard to tell from packaging just how much you’re getting. If price per ounce or gram is a big concern for you when makeup shopping (which makes sense for products you’re likely to use up and repurchase regularly, such as foundation or eyeliner), your best bet is to actually read the label to see how much product you’re really getting! Packaging doesn’t tell much of a story when it comes to how much product it truly contains.
Know your ingredients
This mostly pertains to skincare, but having a good idea of the basics of ingredients can help you be a savvy shopper. Because I’m trained in skincare I can pick up any product, read the ingredients list, and have some idea about what it’s supposed to do and probably if it will work well for me. I know what ingredients do and what works for my skin. Being able to identify filler ingredients, irritants, ingredients that don’t mesh well together, and ingredients that work (or don’t work) for you really gives you a leg up with shopping. This is true for all cosmetics (you might know that you’re allergic to a specific pigment or that a common ingredient in many foundations breaks you out), but it really helps to have an understanding of this stuff when you’re purchasing skincare so you don’t have to go off the claims on the box. You definitely don’t have to be an expert in ingredients, but knowing a lot of the common ones will help you narrow down the field and can also help your sales associate make a great recommendation if you ask for help!
These are the things I personally do and keep in mind when I’m trying to shop mindfully. I’ve become much more picky with my makeup purchases as of late and I think that’s been working in my favour – I realized that there weren’t really any outstandingly bad makeup duds for me in 2016, which could be a fluke but which I like to believe has to do with my smarter consumption habits.