2017 recap + 2018 goals

Posted on January 03, 2018 under Life

Chihuly exhibition at the ROM, Hank, The Big Apple

2017 was a very rough year from a big picture perspective, for reasons that require no explanation. On a personal level, though, it was a lot better for me than 2016. Nobody I know died this year, which is a lot better than 2016’s total of four deaths. Therefore, I have nothing to complain about. This year also marked some achievements for me: I got my driver’s license, I moved to another country, and I started grad school, which has been a goal since I was 19. I had a bit of performance anxiety since I had been out of school for a year and a half before starting my Master’s, but I’m happy to report that I killed my first semester.

So, let’s take a look at how I did with my 2017 goals.

Lemon cheesecake with raspberry topping (made by me!), posing in front of a bakery in Kentucky, fika at Karelia Kitchen in Toronto
  • Blog at least five times a month: I told myself that if I missed a single month I’d fail the goal, which means I definitely failed. However, I’m okay with this – I posted more than five times in June, July, and August, and overall I posted pretty consistently. I fell off the wagon a bit at the end of the year because I got busy with school. At the end of the day, blogging is a hobby, so I’m not going to stress too much about it. And hey, I have a semester of straight As to show for letting blogging fall by the wayside…
  • Read 50 books: This was a stretch goal and I totally made it, reading a total of 51 books in 2017. (I do wish I’d read one more for an average of one a week, but oh well.) I have very strong time management skills, so I managed to read 45 books before I started grad school, which made it much easier to finish this goal in the last bit of the year.
    This was my most prolific year as a reader since 2012!
  • The Royal Cinema, a flower in my backyard, Cassius and Wally enjoying the sunshine
  • Be tidier: I’m still not a neat freak by any means, but I do think that I am slowly improving upon my natural messiness. I was worried that living by myself for the first time in my life would encourage me to be completely slobby since I didn’t have to think about anyone else, but I’ve been maintaining my flat quite well! I have actually become a person who can’t go to bed until everything is passably tidy, which will come as a shock to anybody who knows me in real life.
  • Declutter: This was kind of a freebie since I didn’t have much choice but to get rid of a lot of stuff before I moved. I did, however, manage to considerably declutter my clothes, makeup, books, and other possessions.
  • Mural on Queen St. West, walking Jet, officiating my friends’ wedding in July
  • Be mindful about new purchases: I made some impulse buys that didn’t entirely work out, but mindful consumption is a process, not an end goal. I think I’m moving in the right direction.

So… looks like I actually did a really good job with my goals this year, which is shocking. Either I set the bar low or I actually rose to the occasion. I’ll leave you to decide.

Me and my friend Katie, view from the Lachine Canal in Montreal, learning to drive

And my goals for 2018…

  • Finish my MA with an A average. I come from a university known for grade deflation, where a TA once said “Great job, Clementine!” as she handed me back an assignment I got 7/10 on, so I almost feel cocky setting this goal. However, I got all As this semester so I think this is doable. By the way – in the UK MA programmes are one year long, so I have one more semester of classes and then I’ll write my dissertation over the summer. I’ll have my degree by this time next year!
  • Complete all my readings and screenings before messing around on the internet. I always have a more productive day overall if I complete my routine schoolwork prior to checking social media. Last semester I did well keeping up with readings and screenings, but this semester I want to form a stronger habit that truly prioritizes school.
  • Neighbours’ plants, hanging out in the hammock with Jet, a building in Glasgow
  • Get fitter. Ugh, I know, I’m being that person this year. I always neatly avoid setting this goal for myself, but I think it’s finally time, guys. I’ve always been a walker (and currently walk about 5km round trip each day), but I think I should step up my game. I’m not out here to run a marathon or anything, but I’d like to raise my level of fitness just for my daily life.
  • Read 30 books. Adjusted the reading goal downwards again because grad school = very little desire to read for fun. 30 might actually be pushing it, but I might as well challenge myself a little. I just picked up four books today with a Chapters gift card,
    so that will help me start the year right!
  • Trixie Mattel performing in October, being a tourist in Lewes, pretty steps in Glasgow
  • Keep to my beauty budget, consume mindfully, and enjoy using what I have. Self-explanatory! I’ve been doing pretty well with mindful consumption over the past few years since I really started to think about it, and I want to do even better this year!

Nothing special here, really, and no blogging goals. I’ll keep posting as regularly as my schedule and interest allows, but I don’t want to hold myself to a posting schedule and feel guilty when I inevitably fail to meet it.

Happy 2018, everyone! I hope this year is a little kinder to the world…

Scenes from Prague, Christmas tree

Quarter 4 Beauty Product Consumption Accountability Checkin

Posted on December 31, 2017 under Lists

Here is my last checkin of 2017! This was year zero of tracking my spending, which meant that I didn’t know what to expect. I’ll crunch the final numbers and at the end of this post I’ll reflect a little on what I learned during this year of tracking.

And a few notes before we get started…

  • I’ve listed all prices in either CAD or the currency they were purchased in and a conversion into CAD that was accurate at the time of purchase.
  • I list products that were ordered online on the date that I received the package.
  • In order to consistently track my spending, I’m listing all totals in CAD. Since I have shopped in both Canada and the UK this year, conversion is necessary so that I can see how much I’ve spent in total. Prices in CAD make more intuitive sense to me than GBP (unsurprisingly), and I’ve purchased a lot more in Canada than in the UK this year anyway.
  • Not everything is pictured – I’m in Canada right now and some of this stuff is in the UK.

With those points out of the way, let’s get into it!

Products purchased between October 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017

Eye makeup
  1. 10/13: Barry M Glitter Rush Body Glitter – Aquamarine – £4.49 ($7.47 CAD). I bought this because I was going to a drag show and I just felt like I needed blue glitter in my life. A total frivolity, of course, but not one that I regret.
  2. 10/13: Ardell Wispies Lashes – £5.49 ($9.13 CAD). I have never been a false lash enthusiast, but in undergrad my outrageous going out looks (think black lipstick, purple blush up to my temples) were never complete without a set of big falsies. Now that I’m a student again, clearly it is necessary to have a set of lashes on hand.
  3. 10/13: MUA Kohl Liner – Black – £1 ($1.66 CAD). To use with black lipstick.
  4. 10/20: Barry M Glitter Fixer Gel – £4.99 ($8.35 CAD). I realized that I couldn’t use my teal glitter without some sort of fixative. This is the only one I could find in-store, but I like it!
  5. 11/03: John Frieda Sheer Blonde Tone Correcting Shampoo – £3.95 ($6.61 CAD). A gal can’t live without her purple shampoo! It’s rare that cosmetics are less expensive in the UK than in Canada, but full price on this stuff in Canada is $13.99. Definitely a bargain!
  6. 11/20: Collection Lasting Gel Nail Colour in Blackjack 2 – £3.19 ($5.45 CAD). I needed new black nail polish so I went with the cheapest one I could find, of course.
  7. 11/20: Vaseline Lip Therapy in Aloe Vera and Original – £1 each – £2 total ($3.42 CAD). I ran out of lip balm. These are normally £2.09 each but Superdrug had a 2 for £2 offer which I thought I might as well take advantage of.
  8. 11/20: Supderdrug Cleansing Facial Wipes – £1.29 ($2.20 CAD). Bought for my trip to Prague, since I knew it would be easier than properly washing my face.
  9. Face products
  10. 11/25: John Frieda Sheer Blonde Go Blonder Lightening Shampoo (mini) – £2 ($3.42 CAD). I was delighted to find a mini of my usual shampoo at the Edinburgh airport Superdrug, since I’ve never seen John Frieda minis in Canada. I’ll definitely use this up travelling.
  11. 12/05: PS… Pro Blending Brush – £2 ($3.42 CAD). PS… is Primark’s house makeup brand, and you will be seeing a review of some of these products in the future!
  12. 12/05: PS… CustomEyes Eyeshadow in Cranberry – £0.60 ($1.03 CAD).
  13. 12/05: PS… Lip Scrub – £3 ($5.14 CAD).
  14. 12/05: PS… My Perfect Colour Liquid Concealer in Nude Beige – £2 ($3.42 CAD). Replacement.
  15. 12/05: PS… Get Lippy Glitter Collection in Heaven Sent – £3 ($5.14 CAD).
  16. 12/05: Golden Rose Ice Chic Nail Colour in 44 – £2 ($3.42 CAD).
  17. 12/11: The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid x2 – $6.80 each – $13.60 total. Replacement.
  18. 12/13: The Body Shop Coconut Body Butter x2 – $20. The Body Shop was doing buy 3 get 3 so my mom and I pooled our products. The total was $62, split 2 ways, making each Body Butter $10 and the next product $11.
  19. 12/13: The Body Shop Pink Grapefruit Exfoliating Body Scrub – $11. See above for notes on price!
  20. 12/13: The Ordinary Squalane – $7.90. Replacement.
  21. 12/15: NYX White Liquid Liner – $9. Replacement for my Stila white eyeliner.
  22. 12/15: NYX Epic Ink Eyeliner Pen – $12. Backup – I want to see if this is good enough to replace my $29 Stila liner and bought it in Canada because I knew it would be cheaper and easier to access. I probably won’t be done with my current Stila liner for awhile, but once I go back to the UK I’ll be there until September so it makes sense to stock up now while I can.
  23. 12/28: ELF Crease Brush x3 – $3 USD/$3.77 CAD each – $9 USD/$11.32 CAD total. ELF was doing free shipping with no minimum, so I jumped on the chance to grab more of this amazing and inexpensive crease brush. It can be hard to hit ELF’s free shipping minimum without just buying a bunch of crap I don’t want, so I was really glad to flesh out my brush collection without having to pay for shipping.

Total value (CAD): $182.78
Total spent (CAD): $154.10

Year-to-date value (CAD): $1540.53
Year-to-date spent (CAD): $899.55

Products received at no cost between October 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017

As I mentioned previously, I recently took a lot of Aisling‘s makeup castoffs off her hands. I took some of these items knowing that a friend or my mom would enjoy them. I ended up passing a lot of stuff on, so this list only includes what ultimately made it into my collection on a full-time basis.

Skincare products
  1. 10/31: The Body Shop Sparkler All Over Shimmer – £14 ($23.42 CAD). Gift.
  2. 10/31: Lancôme Bi-Facil Eye Makeup Remover (~50% full) – $39 full price, $19.50 value. Gift.
  3. 10/31: Benefit That Gal Brightening Face Primer – Deluxe Sample – $40 full size, $27.45 sample value. Gift. Also, can we note that the full size of this product is 10mL and the deluxe sample is 7.5?!
  4. 10/31: Rimmel Fix and Perfect Primer – $8.99. Gift.
  5. 10/31: The Ordinary Coverage Foundation – 1.1N – $6.70. Gift.
  6. 10/31: Urban Decay All Nighter Foundation – 0.5 – $49. Gift.
  7. 10/31: The Body Shop Shade Adjusting Drops – $22. Gift.
  8. 10/31: Tanya Burr Everyday Flutter Lashes – £5.29 ($8.85 CAD). Gift. I had a pair of these which I wore into the ground, so I’ll definitely use them.
  9. 10/31: Fleur de Force by Eyelure Lashes in Fleur Loves – £5.45 ($9.12 CAD). Gift.
  10. 10/31: Sleek Highlighter Palette – Midas Touch – £9.99 ($16.71 CAD). Gift.
  11. 10/31: Kiko Radiant Touch Creamy Stick Highlighter – 100 – £10.90 ($18.23 CAD). Gift.
  12. 10/31: Topshop Glow Highlighter – Polished – £9 ($15.06 CAD). Gift. I have and love this highlighter, so a backup is always welcome.
  13. 10/31: Makeup Revolution Liquid Highlighter – Liquid Starlight – £6 ($10.04 CAD). Gift.
  14. 10/31: Seventeen Instant Glow Shimmer Brick – Pink Bronze – £4.99 ($8.35 CAD). Gift.
  15. 10/31: Lancôme Hypnôse Drama Mascara – Sample – $34.50 full size ($11.50 value). Gift.
  16. 10/31: Sleek Eyeshadow Palette – Original, Vintage Romance, Garden of Eden – £8.99 ($15.04 CAD) each = £26.97 ($45.11 CAD). Gift.
  17. Sleek palettes
  18. 10/31: Bella Pierre Shimmer Powder – Snowflake – $19. Gift.
  19. 10/31: Revlon Photoready Eye Art – Burnished Bling, Prism Peach, and Topaz Twinkle – $11.49 each = $34.47. Gift.
  20. 10/31: Lancôme Kohl In Love – Jade Crush – $26. Gift.
  21. 10/31: Maybelline Colorblur Lipstick – Partner in Crimson – $11.99. Gift.
  22. 10/31: Maybelline Color Drama Lipstick – Keep It Classy – £4.99 ($8.35 CAD). Gift.
  23. 10/31: Kiko Face Brush – 104 – £1.70 ($2.84 CAD). Gift. I feel like this kabuki brush has to be worth more, but this is the price I found when I looked it up online.
  24. 12/08: Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder – Luminous Light – $55. My mom bought this for herself but found it a bit too shimmery for her liking and passed it on to me.
  25. 12/13: The Ordinary EUK 134 0.1% – $8.80. I was in the Deciem store with my mom and she kindly picked up the tab for this one.
  26. 12/21: Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Solution – $6.95. I needed a mini Bioderma to bring with me to Quebec for Christmas, and my former boss let me have one of the GWPs she had floating around. Apparently the perks of working in cosmetics don’t end when you stop working in cosmetics…
  27. 12/25: Urban Decay Naked 2 Basics – $36. Christmas gift from my mom!

Total value: $526.14
Year-to-date value: $2274.53

Miscellaneous products

So, in order to visualize all this data I made some Excel graphs.

Money spent vs. total value:

This one shows how much of my own money I spent:

And this one shows the breakdown of all the products that made it into my collection:

(By the way, the “Etc” category is my MUFE magnetic palette that I bought back in the summer.)

I’ll have an inventory update post coming soon so I won’t go into that – I just want to talk about the actual spending. This was my first year tracking my spending, so it was a blank slate for me. I am happy that the total was under $1000, though I didn’t factor in taxes here so with taxes it’ll be just about $1000. Less than half of my total of $899.55 ($449.91) was spent on makeup, which surprises me – I thought my percentage of (relatively) frivolous purchases would be higher. As I suspected, I don’t overspend on haircare, skincare, or nails – I tend to buy the first two categories on a replacement-only, as-needed basis, and while I do occasionally impulse buy nail polish I have reduced that habit significantly.

What really surprises me is the total value of the products that came into my life in 2017. I spent only about $900 of my own money (“only” – that’s still too high, really), but the total value was $3815.06. Obviously, I saved a lot by using my employee discount and because I got a lot of gratis in the first 9 months of the year, when I was still working in cosmetics. And it’s safe to say that the only reason I acquired a lot of this stuff was because it was gratis. I will receive much less free stuff in 2018!

Now that I know how much I actually spend on beauty products, it’s easier for me to set a specific budget for myself. I’m not going to worry too much about most of the categories because, like I said, I don’t feel I’m overspending in most of them. However, I’d like to cut back on the makeup and brushes for sure. I would love to reduce my spending in those categories by 30%, which gives me a budget of $392.27 (combined), down from their combined total of $560.39. Let’s just call that $400…

In 2018 I don’t think I’ll do these posts anymore – it was nice to try them for a year, but ultimately I don’t think they’re that helpful. I will track my purchases throughout the year and post an update at the end of 2018, but I’m going to abandon the quarterly updates.

And that’s it for today! Happy 2018, everyone!

Top 17 of 2017

Posted on December 22, 2017 under Favourites

One day the year will probably become so advanced that I will no longer be able to do these gimmicky little roundups. If I still have a blog in 2032 I probably will not have 32 products to share with you. I figure I’ll just keep doing this until I no longer have enough products to flesh out the list, and then I will make something new up.

Anyway, here’s what I discovered and loved in 2017. This time I’m doing it in chronological order instead of by category, because I like to shake things up. As always, these are products that I personally discovered in 2017. Most of them were not released this year! I’ll link to full reviews where possible.

Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder in Light

The hype is real: this is a soft, blendable, natural contour shade that is perfect for fair skintones. It’s not so cool as to look ashy but not so warm as to look muddy. This is an everyday product for me and absolutely a staple over the past year.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Palette

This has to be my favourite purchase of 2017. I lusted after it for half a year and it still managed to exceed my expectations. The shadows are wonderful quality, I genuinely use and love every shade, and I can get such a variety of beautiful looks out of it. This is my favourite palette, for sure.

(By the way, I took the pictures for this post quite a long time ago, but since then I’ve actually hit pan on Cyprus Umber.)

Lancôme Grandiôse Eyeliner in Ceruluean and Fuchsia*

Though these come with a hefty price tag, the vibrancy of the colours and the long-wearing formula of the liner makes me love them. I don’t have anything like these colours in my collection and I think they’re so fun and unexpected.

Buxom Plumpline Lip Liner in Hush Hush and Covert Affair*

Despite the strange marketing of these chubby, sharpenable pencils as lip liners, I think these are great matte lipsticks. They apply easily and smoothly, last well, and aren’t too drying. Somehow I can apply them over flaky lips and still like the result. Hush Hush is my go-to neutral and I can’t get enough of the burnt orange Covert Affair.

I have a hard time getting Covert Affair to photograph as orange as it is!

Hush Hush, from all the way back when I had red hair.

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

I’ve now gone through three bottles of this and I plan to keep going forever! This product has replaced all my other hydrating serums for a fraction of the cost. It’s great stuff, and at $6.80 CAD you really can’t go wrong.

Magic Collection Oval Brush

This $10 Artis knockoff has become my absolute favourite foundation brush. Its density is unparalleled by any other brush in my collection, and it buffs foundation seamlessly into the skin. Plus, its bristles are super soft, making foundation application as pleasant as possible.

Olaplex Step 3

I am staunchly pro-drugstore when it comes to hair products, but Olaplex was the only thing that worked on my supremely bleach-damaged hair when I went back to blonde in March. I’ve been using it weekly since then and it’s kept my hair in great condition. I mean, I did three years’ worth of bleach damage before I ever used Olaplex, but my hair is soft and smooth and actually looks and feels like hair instead of straw. Olaplex is the best thing I’ve ever done for my hair!

ELF Small Stipple Brush

This is such a great multi-purpose brush. It’s great for applying cream products to the cheeks, and it’s become my new go-to for contouring because it gives me more control and allows me to build the product up slowly for a more subtle effect. I have a lot of time for ELF brushes, and this is one of my favourites.

Milani Eyeshadow Primer

After years of loyalty, my NARS eyeshadow primer just stopped performing very well. Disheartened, I picked up a tube of the Milani Eyeshadow Primer on emilynoel83’s recommendation, thinking that if it didn’t work out it was only nine bucks down the drain. Well, colour me pleased: this primer holds onto eyeshadow amazingly well. I use it every single day and I know that nothing will come off my eyelids until I want it to.

Vichy Teint Idéal Pure Light Face Roll-On*

This is the most beautiful, impactful wet-look highlighter. Vichy’s makeup doesn’t get any buzz online, but if this absolutely stunning liquid highlighter is anything to go by, we should be paying attention to their releases. I neglected to take a picture of this on my face, but you can see it swatched on the right below:

Stila Magnificent Metals Liquid Eyeshadow in Rose Gold Retro

As usual, I jumped on the bandwagon late, but these liquid eyeshadows deserve every bit of the hype they’ve received. They are pure glitter in a user-friendly format, and the shade Rose Gold Retro is a beautiful dream.

Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Fire and Ice

This summer I decided to jump into the world of oranges and orangey-red lipsticks, starting with the long-time classic Fire and Ice. I’ve always been iffy about these types of tones on myself, but I surprised myself by immediately falling in love with Fire and Ice. The formula is comfortable and smooth without being slippery, and the colour is divine. I’ve seen appear on different people variously as an orange-red, a coral with a definitive hint of pink, and a straight-up orange. I don’t why I like this on myself so much, because it has a healthy dose of orange and neon, which should be a very unflattering combination on me. But I lived in this lipstick this summer!

Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Creme in So Sofia

God, I love this lipstick so goddamn much. I have been searching for this exact colour – a super vibrant coral that flatters my complexion – for eons, and So Sofia is it. Not only is the colour beautiful and harmonious on my face, the formula is excellent. I bought this lipstick in the second half of the year and it’s already one of my favourites ever.

ColourPop Blush Brush

When I ordered this brush out of curiosity back in the summer, I didn’t expect for it to become my favourite blush brush. I merely wanted another one so that I didn’t have to clean my brushes as often. (Uh, I already clean them shamefully infrequently, so…) But the soft synthetic bristles combined with the shape and size of this brush make it absolutely perfect for applying the exact right amount of blush every single time. I’ve used it almost every day since I bought it.

ColourPop Blotted Lips in Candyfloss

I’m very into ColourPop’s sheer matte Blotted Lips – they’re a comfortable, easy way to wear colour, and they’re a staple for casual makeup days. The terracotta Candyfloss is an unexpected favourite – as with most of the lip products I’ve featured in this roundup, Candyfloss has taught me to move outside of my comfort zone and embrace colours in the orange and brown families. Though it’s a bit of an unusual colour, the sheer matte finish means Candyfloss can look fairly understated and casual.

Urban Decay Liquid Moondust in Solstice

I don’t know if I’m just looking in the wrong places, but I haven’t seen anybody talking about Urban Decay’s liquid eyeshadows. Solstice is a stunning blue-red duochrome that I positively die for. It lasts forever on my eyes too – and when it comes to liquid and cream eyeshadows on my hooded lids, that’s a feat. I’ll have to check out some of the other shadows in this line, because it looks like there’s a whole range of absolutely stunning shades.

IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream in Fair*

If you asked me to describe my ideal foundation, I’d probably say “Fair with neutral-to-yellow undertones, medium coverage, finish somewhere between satin and dewy, hydrating and able to glide easily over dry patches, can be applied with brushes, a sponge, or fingers”. And that is exactly what the It Cosmetics CC Cream is! I actually tried quite a few foundations this year which I liked – Maybelline Fit Me Matte and Poreless, The Ordinary Serum and Coverage – but this one takes the cake. It looks so beautiful on my skin and is always comfortable to wear, and I love the incredibly functional packaging.

Runners up

(Because I like to cheat.)

And some runners-up for you, too: Bite Beauty Lip Pencils in 020 and 044*, ColourPop Lippie Pencil in Contempo, Lancôme Matte Shakers in Pink Power and Kiss Me Chérie*.

The Ordinary Colours Serum Foundation in 1.1N, Revlon PhotoReady Instafix Highlighter Stick in Pink Light, L’Oreal Brow Artist Plumper in Transparent.