Behind the scenes: July and August 2017

Posted on September 11, 2017 under Life

Back when I was taking driving lessons, my instructor asked me when my summer break would start. It was early enough in my lessons that the idea of speaking and driving simultaneously was ludicrous to me, so I just laughed and said shortly, “I don’t have a summer break.” So, yes, July and August were spent working 40+ hours a week (as all my months have been for the past year), but they were also spent preparing for my move to Scotland. (Which is a thing that happened, but in September, so you will hear about it next time.) However, I did manage to get a bit of stuff done outside of working and packing!

Officiated a wedding

I mentioned this already, but my amazing friends Paige and MJ got married in July and I officiated the wedding! It was an absolutely perfect day! It had rained all week but the day of the wedding it was sunny but not too hot. The ceremony went smoothly, the vows were beautiful, and the reception was so much fun. What an honour not only to celebrate their love but to officiate their wedding! I get a little nervous with public speaking, but the rehearsal really soothed my nerves. It went well and it was in front of everyone who mattered, and on the day of I was able to pretty much tune out everyone but the beautiful brides. I tend to speak quickly when I’m nervous so I was very careful to pace myself, and it all turned out well. Then when the ceremony was over I got to celebrate by dancing so enthusiastically that I managed to give myself a mysterious and very large bruise on my leg. As a bonus, my friends and I rented a farmhouse in small-town Ontario for the weekend of the wedding, which was awesome. It came with a barn in the backyard!!!

In case anyone was wondering, here’s a picture of my dress (which is also the FIRST picture my friend/old roommate Katie and I got together in daylight in three years):

I literally looked through thousands of dresses online and hated everything I found and ordered this one from ASOS in a moment of desperation. It fit perfectly and the brides loved it because it contrasted nicely with the peachy-pinks the bridesmaids wore. All in all a success!

Went to Montreal

I feel like there is a trip to Montreal in all of my Behind the Scenes posts! I moved back to Toronto in April 2016 and since then I don’t think Katie and I have gone more than about 2 months not seeing each other. The Megabus journey isn’t fun, but it’s worth it to get to hang out. In Montreal we did private room karaoke (a classic activity for my friend group) and went to see the excellent Revolution exhibition at the MMFA. Oh, and we ate a lot of really good, cheap food (Montreal is the best for that) and drank canned sangria by the Lachine canal. All in all, pretty perfect. (Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” literally contains the line “Drink sangria in the park”, although that song is also very melancholy and possibly about heroin so maybe not the best descriptor of my weekend with my friends.)

Passed my driving test

I finished my driving lessons in May, but I definitely wasn’t ready for my test at that point. I was nervous about how to proceed since my dad sold his car in the early 2000s, but luckily his good friend has a car with his name on the insurance. He was so patient and wonderful taking me out driving a few hours a week. He’s a great teacher and really built my confidence. And it all paid off, because I passed my driving test in mid-August!

The test is a bit of a blur – it was only 15 minutes long and felt even shorter. I remember taking a left turn and thinking, “Oh my god, did I check my mirror? Wait, have I checked my mirrors at all this entire time?” Then my examiner told me to parallel park and I said, “No problem,” which I immediately regretted because WHAT IF THERE WAS A PROBLEM AND I JUST LOOKED LIKE A COCKY JERK FOR NOTHING?! Luckily, I did it perfectly, and then completed a perfect 3-point turn, so I was feeling very confident heading back to the testing centre. Then my examiner threw me a huge curveball by asking me to front-in park. Now, I had been told that I would be asked to either parallel park or back-in park, so naturally I spent nine million hours practicing back-in parking since I found it pretty difficult. OF COURSE I had to front-in park. The combination of the surprise and the fact that I hadn’t practiced it nearly as much led me to unfortunately do a terrible job of it, and I was 100% convinced I had failed my test because, really, how are you supposed to pass when you end up parked in two spots? I took my test at 3pm on a Friday and I think my examiner was just done for the week because he shrugged and said, “Eh. I’ll pass you.” My instructor was waiting in the parking lot and witnessed the whole thing and said he was sure I had failed. (Me too, buddy!) I think my excellent parallel park is what saved me. Anyway, I actually DO know how to drive despite the error and now I have a license to prove it.

I know driving isn’t an especially impressive skill, but I’m pretty proud of myself. I had no interest in driving until I was 20, and I felt a little overwhelmed because I was quite a bit older than average when I actually started the process of getting my license. (I was 3 weeks away from 22 when I got my learner’s permit.) I went from having never touched a steering wheel to a licensed driver in about 4 months, and I passed my test on my first try at a testing centre with a 50% fail rate. So… I’m going to toot my own horn a bit here. ;)

Had a going away party

I hosted a going away party in my backyard before I left, and it was so great. It was lowkey and fun, which was exactly what I wanted. I felt super lucky because I had multiple friends come out of town for it. Also because my mom made 3 pitchers of sangria and her sangria is the best ever. ALSO because my friends brought a shrimp ring because I had been complaining about how expensive they are. I like shrimp but I mainly wanted a platter because they are a vehicle for cocktail sauce, which is one of the best things ever invented. So, friends, sangria, and cocktail sauce – who can complain?!

And that is pretty much that for July and August. I think I’ll probably have some more exciting stuff to share in my next behind the scenes post!

Empties: May to September 2017

Posted on September 07, 2017 under Empties

Hello from Scotland! I landed yesterday morning and have been dealing with an uncharacteristic bout of terrible jetlag. I still feel a bit off, but I think one more sleep will set me right. I’m currently in a hotel and will be moving into my flat tomorrow afternoon. Yay! Here’s the view from my window:

Today I have some empties for you. This post outlines the results of my efforts to use up as much stuff as possible before my big move. Look, I had to use two box lids to house all of this crap!

Skincare

The Body Shop Chamomile Silky Cleansing Oil: My third bottle! I’m a huge fan of oil cleansers, and this one emulsifies my makeup really well and leaves my skin feeling soft and hydrated.

A-Derma Exomega Emollient Cleansing Oil: Got this through work. It’s my second bottle of it. It’s a little bit thicker and less runny than the Body Shop one but takes my makeup off just as well. I do wish it had a pump, though.

Bioderma Sensibio Makeup Removing Micelle Solution: One of my favourite micellar solutions for sure – it’s a classic for a reason! It doesn’t dry out my skin at all, which a lot of micellar waters do.

Vichy Pureté Thermale One Step Cleansing Micellar Solution – 100mL and 30mL bottles: I find this micellar solution too drying for my face. I used it for travel and to remove swatches. The deluxe sample size (30mL) is especially great for shorter trips.

La Roche-Posay Respectissime Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover: I’ve cracked open my third bottle after using this one up! I think it’s so great – gentle but really effective and reasonably-priced.

Lancôme Bi-Facil Double Action Eye Makeup Remover: This is one of the best eye makeup removers I’ve ever used, but the price is unjustifiable. I really like the DS sizes for travel, but otherwise I stick to the LRP – it’s just as good and half the price.

Vichy Eau Thermale: I don’t use thermal water sprays on my face, but I used this to wet my sponge when I was feeling lazy. Got this for free through work.

Lancôme Tonique Douceur: This was gratis from work. I thought it was a decently effective hydrating toner, but it’s expensive for what it is and highly fragranced. Definitely would not buy for $39.

NeoStrata Purifying Solution 8% Glycolic Acid: My second bottle. My skin likes gycolic acid a lot. I also used this occasionally on my arms and legs since I have keratosis pilaris and glycolic acid is one of the few things that seems to visibly reduce it.

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10%: My skin really liked this and I’d totally repurchase it. I have a full glycolic acid toner I got through work that I’ll use up first, though.

The Ordinary Niacinimide 10% + Zinc 1%: I like this to help purify and control blemishes. I don’t have acne-prone skin, but I get hormonal breakouts around my chin and since adding this to my stash I’ve found the severity of those breakouts has decreased. I’m also super into Niacinimide as a great all-around beneficial skincare ingredient: this form of vitamin B3 helps to even out skin and reduce dullness, and it’s an antioxidant as well.

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5: This is my second bottle of this product; it’s replaced all other hydrating serums for me because it’s so much cheaper and just as effective. I usually use it day and night and it really boosts my skin’s hydration. It got me through a dry winter and I don’t find it too heavy for summer.

Lierac Hydragenist Moisturizing Oxygenating Replumping Serum: I didn’t enjoy this deluxe sample very much. It was super thin and oily, which made it messy to apply. The full size is $65, which seems absurd.

Lancôme Energie De Vie Smoothing and Glow-Boosting Liquid Care: My usual review of Lancôme products: nice, does what it says, but way too fragranced and completely overpriced. Got this through work.

Reversa Antioxidant Booster Serum: This is more of a light lotion than a serum. I enjoyed the texture and thought it helped keep my skin hydrated throughout the winter. It smelled like boiled hotdogs, though. I got it through work.

Vichy Aqualia Thermale Dynamic Hydration Light Cream: Nice moisturizer! Nothing amazing, but nice. Wouldn’t buy the full size.

La Roche-Posay Cicaplast: This is what I always use to heal my tattoos. It’s a lightweight gel formula that sinks in quickly and adds lots of hydration to the tattoo without dulling the colour as its sister the Cicaplast Baume B5 does. (The Baume is zinc-based, so it leaves a pretty severe white cast.) I’ve used it on three out of four tattoos so far and I’ll use it again next time!

Bioderma Sensibio Eye: This eye cream grew on me when I abandoned the pretense that it would do anything but hydrate. As a lightweight moisturizing gel, it was very nice. I don’t have super dry undereyes, so the texture was perfect for me.

Aloe Mask: I don’t know what the brand of this mask is or where you can buy it, but it was a very nice hydrating sheet mask. Nothing super special, but a nice treat.

Life Brand Moisturizing Facial Sheet Cream Mask: This sheet mask was very much soaked in a thick, white moisturizing cream rather than a lightweight serum. I’m not sure I enjoyed this. I used two of them up, but only one is pictured.

A-Derma Intense Repair Lip Balm: I forgot to include this in the flatlays, but this lip balm honestly deserves its own picture because it is that good. It’s a clear, thin consistency which makes it a great daytime option when compared to the super thick and waxy Nuxe Rêve de Miel lip balm which I love for nighttime. The catch is that A-Derma has discontinued this product because of course they have! I would have repurchased it in a heartbeat, but apparently we just can’t have nice things in the year 2017.

Hair

Batiste Dry Shampoo in Floral & Fruity Blush and Big and Bouncy XXL Volume: I haaaated the XXL Volume so much. It completely dried my (super damaged) hair out. So I guess if you have extremely oily hair this stuff will really do the trick. The Floral & Fruity Blush wasn’t my favourite scent, but it was fine.

Light Blue Shade Original Shampoo and Volumizing Shampoo: Bottle three and four of Light Blue shade done and dusted – I’ve been using this for about a year now and I love it. It’s only $10 at the drugstore, and it’s the most effective purple shampoo I’ve ever used. It’s not too drying, either, which some purple shampoos can be. I didn’t notice any difference between the Original and Volumizing versions, but I have natural volume anyway.

John Frieda Sheer Blonde Hi-Impact Restoring Shampoo*: I got this through Influenster and I ended up really liking it. I like to alternate between a purple shampoo for tone maintenance and one that’s a little more hydrating. This fit the bill for a hydrating shampoo perfectly. I’ve generally been a fan of the John Frieda blonde hair products – one of the first thing I bought here in the UK was a bottle of their tone-correcting shampoo since I can’t get Light Blue Shade here.

Matrix Biolage Conditioning Balm: This is a nice conditioner which was a hand-me-down from my mom. It’s not enough for hair that’s thoroughly bleach-damaged, but I liked to use this on my roots and a deep conditioner through the lengths. I can’t get very excited about conditioner, nor can I compel myself to spend much on it.

StriVectin All Smooth Conditioner: Sample size received through work. Way too expensive for what it is: a decent conditioner. I used it up on my trip to Kentucky in the spring.

StriVectin All Smooth Overnight Anti-Frizz Serum: Sample size received through work. I don’t know if this did anything, to be honest.

Bath & Body

L’Occitane Almond Shower Oil: I don’t care how unnecessary this expenditure is. I love this stuff too much to stop! Anyway, this mega-sized bottle of it lasted me and my mom more than a year and a half, so I’m not too mad about it.

Freeman’s Pomegranate Sugar Scrub: A staple of my empties posts.

La Roche-Posay Lipikar Fluide: I liked this okay as a lightweight body lotion, but my arms and legs are so dry that I really need something richer. They’ve discontinued this and replaced it with the Lipikar Lait, which is very similar in texture.

Avène TriXera Nutri-Fluid Lotion: Pretty similar to the Lipikar Fluide except much more watery in texture. Nice enough for the summer, but not my ideal body moisturizer.

The Body Shop Grapefruit Body Butter (mini): Meh. This is a pretty standard Body Shop body butter – it’s pretty greasy and not enough for my dry skin. The coconut one is the best one, and I will probably buy some this winter.

Makeup

Make Up For Ever Ultra HD foundtation in Y215: This is my no-brainer, no-fuss foundation that never lets me down. It applies easily with whatever method I choose (brush, sponge, fingers), it has a nice medium coverage and a natural finish, and it never makes my skin look dry. This is also one of my best shade matches. (I was previously using R210, which was too pink.) I’m trying to get through some of my other foundations right now, but I can see myself going back to this.

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Chantilly: I loved how this brightened my undereyes in initial application, but after a few hours it looked so dry on me. I know not everything works for everyone, but I’m sad that this didn’t work for me… especially at $36.

Marcelle Ultimate Fringe Effect Mascara: I’m generally a fan of Canadian drugstore brand Marcelle, and I thought this mascara was great. If anything, it got better with age. It gave me the length and definition I so crave in mascaras and never got clumpy. It wasn’t great on the bottom lashes because it transferred, but it’s a nice little drugstore option for those in the Great White North.

Stila Stay All Day Waterpoof Eyeliner in Intense Black and Snow: Loved these. Snow was so much fun, and Intense Black is a staple in my life. I can’t even tell you how many of them I’ve gone through, but I’m probably approaching double digits now.

Clarins Waterproof Eye Pencil in Noir: This is a creamy, smooth pencil eyeliner. I used it daily to tightline. It’s not totally transfer-proof, so I wouldn’t repurchase.

Benefit Gimme Brow in Light: As much as I liked the convenience of this tinted, fiber-filled brow gel, I don’t think I could justify the price. I do really appreciate how easy this is to travel with; when I’m away I don’t always want to fuss with the pomade I usually use. There are lots of dupes on the market, though.

Tanya Burr Cosmetics Lash Glue: Even after I wore my Tanya Burr false lashes into the ground, I held onto the glue they came with. I think it’s great, and I love the brush applicator. It’s very goopy now, so it’s time for it to go.

Rimmel Exaggerate Lip Liner in Eastend Snob: I think this is the third one of these I’ve gone through – it’s such a no-fail colour, popular for a reason.

Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Patina (mini): I loved this dusty, mauvey pink colour, but my mini is finally all dried up. I probably won’t repurchase because I’m getting tired of liquid lipsticks.

ELF Lip Exfoliator: This brown sugar- and shea-based lip exfoliator is very convenient because it’s in stick form. Buying from ELF is a pain, though, since it’s hard to find most of their products in-store in Canada. (And the UK, for that matter…)

Miscellaneous

Quo Nail Polish Remover: This is a standard nail polish remover.

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel in Sugar Fix: I could get more mileage out of this bottle with a nail polish thinner, but I’m not a nail polish person and the fact that it’s goopy and lumpy tells me that it’s time to say goodbye. I loved this cornflower blue, and I think the Miracle Gel formula is great.

ELF Daily Brush Cleaner: I liked this just fine, but the scent is pretty strong and as Lyn pointed out, you’ll get the same results with alcohol.

Foil Samples

Vichy Pore Purifying Clay Mask: This stuff totally works. I used it once all over my face and once localized on a gnarly chin breakout. I’d never buy the full size because you can buy kaolin-based masks for a lot cheaper.

Vichy Quenching Mineral Mask: This was nice, but I can give my skin a shot of moisture for cheaper.

Vichy Double Glow Peel Mask: I didn’t love the gritty texture on this mask. Because I incorporate AHAs into my daily skincare routine, I don’t really feel the need for an AHA mask.

Smashbox Insta-Matte Lipstick Transformer: I don’t like how goopy this is; it just feels like an extra layer on my lips. If I really want to mattify a lipstick I’ll just powder it through a tissue.

Benefit They’re Real! Remover: Oh, boy, I could not resist the urge to try another part of the They’re Real! line given how much I absolutely despise both the mascara and eyeliner. This did get my waterproof eye makeup off, but because it’s a lotion it’s a weird texture to use on the eyes. I prefer a biphase remover – it’s quicker and not as messy.

By the way, I am finally letting go of my trusty empties box, because it has seen better days:

Yes, that means saying goodbye to Harry Styles…

… but I have tickets to see him in October and April so I think he’ll forgive me.

Pre-moving declutter part III: Lip products

Posted on September 03, 2017 under Declutter

I’m back with one last declutter post for you before I’m off to Glasgow! I was quite ruthless with my lipsticks and managed to get rid of almost a third of my collection.

If you want to see swatches of any of these colours, you can refer to my recent lipstick inventory.

Things That Are Old

ColourPop Ultra Satin Lips in Marshmallow and Prim: The two times I wore Marshmallow in public were worth the $6 USD I spent on this supremely unflattering purple-grey. I knew it would look like shit on me when I ordered it, and it surely delivered. Sadly, it and Prim, a striking deep brown with a hint of purple, both smell very off now. ColourPop products don’t seem to have a very long shelf life.

Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm in Shameless: Do you know how long I spent popping into every drugstore I passed to see if they had an unmarred tube of Shameless? So long. And then I finally found this tube, in early 2014, and I wore it a lot, and now I don’t wear it anymore. I still love the colour, but it’s old besides being flawed (patchy, not as comfortable as other Matte Balms).

Joe Fresh Matte Lipstick in Raspberry: Raspberry is from the OG Joe Fresh line (pre-expansion into Shoppers Drug Mart, back when the prices were considerably lower) and it used to be one of my absolute favourites. I still love the playful pink-red, but the formula no longer excites me when I compare it to other lipsticks I have, and the packaging has been broken for almost as long as I’ve had it. The only way to describe the state of this lipstick is “crusty”.

Rimmel Lasting Finish by Kate Moss in 06: I love this colour and I have held onto this very old tube for longer than I probably should have while hunting for a suitable dupe. I have finally found it and can now say goodbye to this old, nasty tube.

Colours That Look Bad On Me

Buxom Plumpline Lip Liners in White Russian, Ransom, and Intrigue*: Buxom sent me six of these and I kept half. I really like this formula – and I use the rosy brownish pink Hush Hush and burnt orange Covert Affair regularly – but these colours do me no favours.

Tony Moly Cat Chu Wink Lipstick in Orange Pop: This is a sheer neon orange which does not suit me in the slightest. It’s okay, I bought it because it looks like a cat (proof here), and that alone has brought me joy for many years.

Lancôme L’Absolu Rouge Lipstick in Pourquoi Pas?: Okay, listen, I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but I got this as gratis from a Lancôme training I did for work back in the spring, and I was super excited to get one of these fancy clicky tubes until I saw the colour. This is a sheer, cool hot pink that looks like shit on me. I wore it to work one day despite my reservations and I regretted it the entire time.

Lancôme Matte Shaker in Yummy Pink*: I actually haven’t even tried this product on, but see above re: cool pinks. I love the Matte Shaker in Pink Power, which is much warmer, so I’m sure a friend will enjoy this brand-new product.

Colours That Are A Little Bit Off

Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Viola (Mini): I want this to be warmer! The difference between lavender and lilac is crucial for me, and this is just a hair short of lilac. I don’t think it’s completely unwearable, but I’m still on the hunt for the perfect lilac.

Little Mix By Collection Lipstick in Perrie: This dusty medium purple is very pretty but not quite right on me. I wore it a lot when I got it, but I tried it on recently and wasn’t wowed. This lipstick was £2.50 so I think it was money well spent.

MAC Matte Lipstick in Please Me: Light and mid-toned pinks are tricky on me, and this one is just slightly wrong. It’s not horribly unflattering, but when it comes to everyday colours I can do a lot better.

Colours That Are Similar To Things I Like Better

Little Mix By Collection Lipstick in Jade: This is a rosy brownish pink, a colour description that I have already used in this post in reference to the Buxom Lip Liner in Hush Hush. I prefer the matte, longwearing formula of Hush Hush, and I have no need for both.

Joe Fresh Long Wear Liquid Lipstick in Fuchsia: You know, I have to give Joe Fresh credit for coming out with these (now discontinued) liquid lipsticks ahead of the curve. I bought this well before the liquid lipstick trend had beat itself to death. I used to love this ultra bright fuchsia. I’ve noticed that my feelings towards fuchsia – once my favourite lipstick colour – have changed considerably, and this isn’t a colour I love on myself anymore. I have similar shades that are just more flattering on me. Also, yes, I have two tubes of this, because I lost mine, repurchased it, and found the original tube within hours.

Lancôme Color Design Lipstick in Posh Pink: I wanted this lipstick to be a replacement for the Rimmel shade, but it’s too pink and not vibrant enough. I have plenty of bright warm pinks and corals; this one is unnecessary.

Little Mix By Collection Lipstick in Leigh-Anne : A redundant red. That’s it for my Little Mix makeup products! Ironically considering the name of this brand, I have decided that collector’s items do not need to stay in my makeup stash. I absolutely love British girl band Little Mix, and these lipsticks are really good for the mere £2.50 they cost, but this colour is generic and unnecessary in my life.

Clarins Rouge Prodige in Fusion Red: I like the shiny finish of this slightly warm-leaning red, but it’s not the most practical when it comes to wear time. I have both warm reds and true reds which I prefer over this. This is one of my oldest makeup products and the packaging is so pretty that it pains me to part with it, but I don’t think I’ll actually miss it.

MAC Cremesheen Lipstick in Hang-Up: Again, a sheer, moisturizing finish for a fairly deep shade is not my favourite. This colour is very similar to the Buxom Lip Liner in Mystery, and since it’s matte I think the formula is more compatible with the richness of the colour. I do like Hang-Up a lot (the colour is super pretty and it’s comfortable to wear), but it’s time for it to go.

Things I Just Don’t Like

Joe Fresh Matte Lipstick in Scarlet: Scarlet is housed in much sturdier packaging than its younger sister Raspberry up there, but it has always been a little “meh”: a bit patchy and not my most flattering colour. I have deep reds/wines/berries that I think look nicer and that have far superior formulas.

Lancôme Color Design Lipstick in Wannabe: I love this colour, but the formula is quite waxy and I don’t enjoy wearing it.

Essence Matt Matt Matt Vibrant Shock in 09: This product taught me that I like navy blue lipstick, but that’s the only good thing I can say about it. It’s too sheer for such a bold colour and it wears off easily.

Know Cosmetics No, My Lips Are Sealed Topcoat: I didn’t notice that this did anything, and I didn’t like having to apply it from the little spatula on the end of the wand.

Lip Liners

Arbonne Lip Liner in Berry*: The formula on this is fine, but it’s a colour that doesn’t pair that well with any of my lipsticks.

MUA Lip Liner in Brooding Plum: I’ve used this with my deeper reds enough times to justify the £1 I spent on it, but it’s a fairly dry formula that’s not that pleasant to work with.

Collection Lip Definer in Damson: A truly beautiful deep plum that doesn’t go with any of my lipsticks. It’s pretty dry by now, too – I’ve had it for ages.

That’s 24 lipsticks, 3 lip liners, and one lip topcoat. Combined with the face and eye makeup products, that is a total of 57 products plucked from the loving embrace of my collection. These products completely fill up one makeup bag, which I think is a considerable amount of space to have saved in my luggage. Yay!