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.

The disappointments of 2017

Posted on December 18, 2017 under Lists

You know, if you ask anybody who knows me they will no doubt tell you that one of my main hobbies is complaining bitterly. Yet I have never done a year-end roundup of products that disappointed me, which amazes me. So far I’ve done three yearly “best of” posts, but this is my first ever “worst of” post. (I decided to post this one before my Top 17 of 2017 because I thought it’d be better to end 2017 on a high note.)

Unlike my yearly “best of” recaps, I have not chosen a catchy number for this post. This is simply a list of everything that disappointed me in 2017, in chronological order.

Maybelline Lash Sensational Luscious Full Fan Effect Mascara

I don’t have my own picture of this product because I slammed it into the garbage and never looked back.

Look, it’s hard to truly impress me with a mascara, but I also rarely hate a mascara. Generally mascara generates in me emotion no stronger than “Meh.” The last mascara that inspired true, passionate hatred was Benefit’s They’re Real!, which is my gold standard for shitty mascara. That was about four years ago, so that tells you how rarely I encounter a mascara that really enrages me. However, this mascara is that. I am mad at it, okay? The first time I applied it my very standard set of eyelashes became three giant clumps and I was like, “Well, that sometimes happens with brand new mascara.” Then I tried to wash it off, and I had flashbacks to trying to wash off They’re Real!, which is a battle which usually ends up in you cradling your amputated eyelashes and crying in the corner of your bathroom. Lash Sensational Luscious is THE EXACT SAME. And this isn’t even the waterproof version! I tried it again the next day just to be fair, and my opinion did not change. Look, maybe it does get better with age, but I was not about to subject my lashes to warfare just to find out.

Marc Jacobs Style Eye Con Plush Eyeshadow Palette in The Lolita

My friend Kristin gave me this palette for Christmas because she wanted to buy me something that I would never buy myself. She’s right that I would never pay $71 for a palette of seven eyeshadows. And, you know, unlike the Lash Sensational Luscious mascara, I do not hate this palette. Actually, I think it’s very wearable, and most of the shadows are very pretty and blendable. This is sort of like a Naked Basics palette kicked up a notch; it has a few more interesting shimmery shades in addition to the staple mattes, and the packaging is a lot more beautiful than Naked Bascis’ rubbery, utilitarian feel. But – and if you’ve ever swatched this palette you’ll know exactly what is coming – that one shade, man. The middle one, I mean. It’s glittery and looks so pretty in the pan, but I have never experienced such fallout carnage in my life. Even packed on with my finger for maximum density, it delivers very little colour payoff. All the glitter seems to miss my eyelid and fall directly onto my cheeks, where it sticks unless I remove my makeup. It SUCKS, dude. And when 14% of your $71 palette is unuseable, you’ve got yourself a stinker. I see that MJ has discontinued this product, and the new palettes in this packaging seem to be getting good reviews – which is good, because they cost a pretty penny. Overall I do actually enjoy this palette and use it fairly frequently, but the one awful shade brings the entire thing down.

ELF Highlighting Palette

Pictured on the far left.

These highlighters do not show up on me at all. There’s a subtle highlighter and there’s a highlighter that does nothing. You can see swatches in my highlighter inventory post, but actually you won’t be able to see anything because they truly look like absolutely nothing on the skin. My mom, who is all about subtle highlighter, had the same experience with this palette.

Revlon Mega Multiplier Mascara*

On the opposite end of the spectrum from Lash Sensational, this mascara just did nothing for me. I mean, I can get behind a subtle mascara, but when a mascara is named Mega Multiplier I’m just going to assume that it sucks when it gives me this effect:

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution

Like several other bloggers who bought this product because it was cheap, I have concluded that this does absolutely nothing for my dark circles. I love so many products from The Ordinary, so it’s a bummer that this one didn’t work out for me. Luckily it was so cheap that I’m not exactly crying about it.

ColourPop Lippie Stix in Trixie

I ordered this thinking it would finally allow me to end my long-term quest for the perfect bright coral. I then promptly forgot about it and bought Marc Jacobs So Sofia. When my ColourPop package arrived, I kicked myself for buying So Sofia when I had Trixie on the way. When I actually got around to trying Trixie on, however, I felt vindicated – it’s a hair too neon to be totally flattering on me. Also, the formula is thin, tugs in application, and emphasizes dry patches. I really like the Matte X Lippie Stix I have, so this one was a huge letdown.

Here’s Trixie on me:

Definitely not the worst colour I’ve ever put on my lips, but when compared to So Sofia I don’t think there’s any contest:

ColourPop Ultra Blotted Lips in Split

The Ultra Blotted Lips are a cool idea, in theory – I can always get behind a good lip stain. Unfortunately, Split is a deep enough colour that it gets patchy in application very easily, and it doesn’t wear long enough to justify the discomfort of a liquid lipstick or the finnicky application.

Urban Decay All Nighter Foundation

This is a full-coverage foundation made for combination/oily skin and I knew I wouldn’t like it, so it’s not exactly a disappointment. But it is a product which I dislike very adamantly. It looks like a dry, heavy mask on my skin, and it only looks drier and heavier by the end of the day. But hey – if you’re oily you’d probably really enjoy this!

Revlon PhotoReady Eye Art

I’m going to do a proper review of these at some point, but suffice to say that these are just “meh” in the world of liquid glitter eyeshadow. They’re finnicky to apply, take too long to dry, and don’t wear particularly well. It’s a shame, because they’re beautiful!

So there we go: my most disappointing products of 2017. Nine doesn’t seem too bad, really – that’s less than one stinker per month. Have you tried any of these products? Do you think they suck, too, or have you had more luck than me?

Packing Light for Prague

Posted on November 25, 2017 under Life

My last few trips I did not bother to pack light makeup-wise, either because I didn’t have to or because I felt I needed options. This weekend, however, I’m going to Prague for purely touristy reasons, and I thought this would be the perfect time to exercise some restraint. As with all my European weekend trips, I pack entirely in one small school-sized backpack, so I really need to streamline my makeup to make room. I thought I would share my very minimal makeup bag today.

I can easily fill a liquids bag with skincare, but I know that when I’m walking around all day and sleeping in a hostel dorm room at night my desire to keep up with a complex skincare routine is zero. So my liquids bag – which is from Muji, by the way – reflects a back-to-basics approach.

The skincare steps I cannot do without are cleansing and moisturizing. The Caudalie Vino Perfect Serum from this year’s Sephora birthday gift will help boost the La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra moisturizer to keep my skin nice and hydrated. I’ve never had issues with dry undereyes until the past month or so, so I decided to bring the Biotherm Homme Eye Depuffer (which, by the way, is a nice gel eye cream even if you’re not a man). I got a sample of the Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Reconstructor which I’ve been saving for travel, since obviously my poor dead hair requires a lot of moisture. I don’t have any travel-sized shampoo right now, so I’ll have to pick one up at the airport.

The IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream is such an easy, fuss-free foundation that it was a no-brainer when it came to choosing which base product to pack. The packaging is also incredibly travel-friendly. For concealer, Maybelline Master Conceal works under the eyes and on blemishes.

I can’t be without Milani Eyeshadow Primer, and Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner is a staple for me as well. The Lancôme Hypnôse Drama mascara mini is convenient for travel, and I like the mascara as well. (Lancôme mascaras are so hit and miss to me, but this one is a hit.) Finally, a fresh tube of Essence Lash and Brow Mascara to keep my brow hairs in place.

And then the rest of my makeup easily fits in one small bag, which is a point of pride when I am prone to overpacking.

For the cheeks, Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Mood Exposure goes with everything and is a perennial travel staple for me. This is the most beautiful flattering blush colour in the world despite how “meh” it appears in the pan. I’m not sure if I’ll bother with highlighter, but I figured I’d give myself the option. Glossier Haloscope in Quartz is easy to apply without brushes and it gives a very natural effect, so I thought it would be perfect for travel.

Urban Decay Naked Basics is probably the most boring travel palette choice in the world, but it’s small, practically indestructible, and foolproof. I decided to add an eyebrow pencil into my repertoire mainly for travel purposes, so I don’t have to mess around with a brush and pomade when I’m on the go. The Annabelle Skinny Brow Liner in Universal Taupe is one of many ABH Brow Wiz dupes, and it works for me.

Forgive me for being extra and packing two lip balms. Overnight, my lips need the heavy-duty power of Nuxe Rêve de Miel, but during the day I prefer something a little lighter like Vaseline Lip Therapy. In an uncharacteristic move, I am committing to a single lip liner – Rimmel Exaggerate Lip Liner in Enchantment – and a single lipstick – YSL Rouge Volupté in #17. I love moisturizing lip products when I’m travelling, and the soft berry shade of #17 makes it a perfect candidate for this trip. I usually like to pair the Rouge Voluptés with a liner underneath to increase the staying power a bit, so I’ll likely just wear this combination together each day.

I tend to really overpack brushes, but this time I cut it down to the essentials: Magic Collection Oval Brush, ColourPop Blush Brush, ColourPop Blending Brush, ELF Crease Brush, ELF Eyeshadow C Brush, ELF Eye Contour Brush, ELF Small Smudge Brush, Elf Spoolie. Wow, I do really like ELF brushes, don’t I?

(By the way, I definitely washed that foundation brush after I took this picture!)

In case you were wondering about cleansing, I did buy a pack of makeup wipes from Superdrug. I hardly ever use wipes, but I just think washing my face with an actual cleanser while travelling is more hassle than it’s worth. My skin is pretty resilient, so I think it’ll survive. I love using actives on my skin, but I know that I can get away with just makeup wipes and moisturizer for three nights. It’ll make my life easier!

Anyway, I’m off this evening with my nice light makeup bag. I’ve wanted to go Prague for years, so I’m really excited that I could finally make it happen.