Bleu Majorelle, Sally Hansen Pacific Blue, and Barry M Damson

Posted on April 01, 2015 under Reviews

In January, my friend and I went on a quick jaunt to Marrakech, a bustling, vibrant city unlike any place I’ve ever been. When my mom saw my pictures from the trip, she described the city as “a riot of colour and pattern”, which is perfectly accurate.

My favourite place we visited in Marrakech was the iconic Jardin Majorelle, a secluded oasis in the heart of chaotic Marrakech. It was designed by Jacques Majorelle, who wanted to create the garden and onsite Berber Museum to display the rich culture and history of Morocco.

Throughout the gardens, there is an abundance of a vivid, electric blue, known as bleu Majorelle:

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In the mid-20th century, the garden fell into disrepair. It was then purchased by Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé. Saint-Laurent became so taken by bleu Majorelle that it became one of the most iconic YSL nail polish colours.

Although luxury beauty lines were created to be more accessible and affordable to the average human than, say, a YSL dress, upwards of $30 for a single bottle of nail polish is still rather steep.

Luckily for those of us who, like Saint-Laurent, have fallen in love with the unrivaled dynamism of bleu Majorelle, there are two drugstore options for this amazing colour. Good old Sally Hansen and Barry M always have our backs!

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My first flirtation with this glorious colour was this summer, when I picked up a bottle of Sally Hansen Hard As Nails Xtreme Wear Nail Polish in Pacific Blue. Like Yves Saint-Laurent before me, I had never seen quite a colour before. (Yes, I did just compare myself to Yves Saint-Laurent. I know.) In the months that ensued, I probably wore Pacific Blue at least a third of the time – which is definitely not an even distribution when you consider how many nail polish colours I have!

However, tragedy of tragedies, Pacific Blue got reformulated – and this resulted in a drastic change in colour. It is now darker, sheerer, and slightly shimmery. It’s simply not the same dreamy, striking blue I fell in love with. I love a good cobalt as much as the next person, but what if I want a bleu Majorelle dupe?

Enter Barry M, a UK drugstore brand known mainly for their amazing, long-wearing, beautifully pigmented nail polishes. When I first arrived in Glasgow and went to Superdrug, I immediately noticed that Barry M had what appeared to be a dupe for Pacific Blue. However, it wasn’t until about a week ago that I broke down and finally bought the Gelly Hi-Shine Nail Paint in Damson. (Incidentally, the colour does not resemble that of damsons at all.) Normally I would never knowingly buy a nail polish shade that’s a dupe for one in my collection, but my bottle of Pacific Blue isn’t getting any more full, and at this point it’s irreplaceable.

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Barry M Damson on the left, Sally Hansen Pacific Blue on the right.

Are these exact dupes? To my extremely discerning eye, no. Damson is bluer and a tad deeper, whereas Pacific Blue has the slightest hint of purple and a lighter, creamy quality that makes it so magical. Damson is a beautiful colour, but when I look at them side by side, on my nails rather than in a photograph (where they look almost exactly the same), Pacific Blue still has some sort of special quality that I’m drawn to. Damson is a gorgeous colour, and very similar, but it seems to me to be a colour that’s more dupeable.

I know that this is just me being picky. To the untrained eye that has not had months to fall in love with Pacific Blue, the colours are indistinguishable; and, indeed, photographed they’re essentially the same. I’m not saying I don’t love Damson, because I do, and I think it may just be the closest dupe I’ll get with a formula that I enjoy. (Essie’s Butler Please is supposedly a Pacific Blue dupe, but I am not fond of the Essie formula. Blasphemous, I know!)

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Sally Hansen Pacific Blue on the left, Barry M Damson on the right. In this picture I think you can see that Pacific Blue is just the tiniest bit lighter and creamier than Damson.

In terms of application, they’re very similar. They both go on beautifully, without any hint of streakiness or globs in the formula. Pacific Blue looks slightly more even and opaque after one coat, but I usually give it two just to be on the safe side.

They both dry relatively quickly, though Damson ends up being a bit shinier than Pacific Blue without a topcoat. (With a topcoat, the slight edge it may have in this imaginary competition vanishes.)

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Barry M Damson on the left and top; Sally Hansen Pacific Blue on the right and bottom.

I’ve never had a problem with the Xtreme Wear brush, but I will say that I do prefer the Barry M brush. It’s just that much slimmer, making it easier to navigate around the edges of nails. However, the wider, flatter Xtreme Wear brush is still very compact and easy to use, and definitely one of my favourite nail polish brushes!

The two polishes wear very similarly: without a topcoat they’ll chip in about three days on my nails; with a topcoat they’re still pristine a week on. That’s firmly within the range of “acceptable wear” for me, and it doesn’t tip either one ahead of the other since they both perform admirably.

The major downside to Damson is, of course, its lack of availability outside of the UK. Nail polish can’t be shipped internationally, either, so once I use up both Pacific Blue and Damson I’ll need to move onto something else – or fly myself over to the UK to grab another bottle of Damson, which seems unlikely. (That would be one expensive bottle of nail polish!) However, if you’re in the UK and lusting after a colour like Pacific Blue, give Damson a shot. It’s not exactly the same, but it’s close – and it’s beautiful.

I suppose Pacific Blue is singular. It’s a colour that I’ll need to let go of, however, and Damson will do a fine job at filling that electric blue void in my heart.

(And in case anyone was wondering, my bleu Majorelle-esque eyeliner is Annabelle’s Lapis.)

Sally Hansen Hard As Nails Xtreme Wear Nail Polish retails for $3.49 for 0.4 fl oz, or $8.73 per fl oz.

Barry M Gelly Hi-Shine Nail Paint retails for £2.99 ($5.59 CAD) for 0.35 fl oz, or £8.54/$15.97 per fl oz.

Harry Potter Studio Tour: Focus on Beauty

Posted on March 30, 2015 under Thoughts

I was in London and Brighton this weekend to visit Aisling – and also to be a tourist, because duh. I’ve only been to London once before, in October, and there is just so much more to see there, always! (I’ll be back one day, mark my words.)

Amongst other things, we went on the Harry Potter Studio Tour, which is absurdly overpriced but absurdly awesome for the hardcore HP fanatics out there. (Aisling and I certainly fall into that category.)

One of my favourite parts was the hair and makeup station – it was so incredibly illuminating to see the wigs and all the products the makeup artists used!

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It’s obvious that some of the characters were very heavily kitted out with wigs and artificial facial hair (Dumbledore, Snape, Hagrid, Lucius Malfoy), but there were others who I was surprised to learn were wig wearers – Molly, Arthur, and Ginny Weasley, for example. Not that I necessarily thought they were all natural gingers, but I guess I assumed they just dyed their hair for the roles!

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The sticky note on the mirror says “We ♥ Dan if he does not pick his scar off!”

It was so much fun trying to spot products and brands I recognized – I see Laura Mercier, Lancôme, MAC, and lots and lots of stage makeup brands. And falsies galore! I suppose it makes sense that false lashes would be used, but it does make me laugh to think of a witch putting on individual lashes in the middle of a wizarding war.

I think I was a bit surprised at how many “normal” and recognizable products were used here – although, in retrospect, I shouldn’t be. Although there’s a lot of costume makeup, scars, prosthetics, and weird facial features there are plenty of characters who just have the faces they were born with. I suppose it’s especially funny because you never really think about cosmetics in the wizarding world – I don’t think there was a single mention of any sort of makeup in any of the books! I can’t imagine Hermione applying blush.

You guys know I love seeing people’s makeup collections and how they organize it all, so I adored this part of the tour. It’s like peering into someone’s vanity, but on such a large (and more interesting) scale. I feel a newfound feverish desire to find out what products are used on different movie sets now!

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And because she’s my favourite, Luna’s wardrobe. God bless her soul.

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I was very enthusiastic about this!!!!

(All photos by the wonderful Aisling Brock!)

Makeup Interview: Maura of Maura Ivy

Posted on March 20, 2015 under Interview

Long time no see, everyone! I’ve been busy with the end of semester and trying to cram in as much international travel as possible before I go back to Canada in a few weeks. (I know, hard life.) However, I think I’ll be back on a regular blogging schedule from now on.

Today I’m interviewing Maura, a 20-year-old student from the Netherlands who has her own excellent beauty blog at MauraIvy.com. I’m very excited for this one because Maura is not afraid of standing out, which you will soon see!

1. How would you describe your style of makeup?

#feministmakeupping is the first thing that comes to mind.

2. Describe a makeup look that you would consider “classic” you.

I usually start with a radiant looking base with contoured cheekbones and some blush, and then I do something with my eyes and what’s on my lips depends on what I’m doing with my eyes. On a school day I usually do a bold lip colour combined with a neutral-ish eye look.

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Two looks that Maura often wears: bold lips and easy eyes.

3. What is the most recent product that you bought? What’s your most recent makeup discovery that you’re excited about?

I recently bought the Milani Baked blush in Rose D’Oro. It’s really pretty. I also ordered this set of two dual ended eye brushes from Ecotools. Such a nifty set, you can create entire looks with just those two brushes. And they’re very affordable, too.

4. What are your 3 holy grail products?

  1. Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream. I use it for chapped lips and irritated skin but also to create eye gloss or highlighters (just mix it with some pigment!).
  2. NARS Liquid Illuminator in Copacabana. It’s the best highlighter I’ve tried so far. It doesn’t contain huge chunks of glitter and it blends beautifully. I’ve heard that the BECCA highlighter is even better so I’m really intrigued to try that one too.
  3. Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick. The best lipstick I’ve ever tried. I only own one (Glastonberry), but I want them all.

5. What product do you think is worth the high price tag, and what product that you can find at the drugstore do you think is awesome?

Urban Decay eyeshadow palettes are amazing. I use them every day and I’d rather have less palettes that I actually use a lot. These eyeshadows all have beautiful finishes and they’re so easy to use. Nothing is more frustrating than an eyeshadow that doesn’t blend or that’s chalky. I’ve always been pleased with drugstore eyeliner and mascara. My favourite eyeliner is by Catrice and it’s not even €3.

6. About how long does your normal makeup routine take? What does it consist of? Do you do anything else while you do your makeup, like drink your morning coffee or watch TV?

On a school day I usually give myself 45 minutes. I’m really bad at waking up in the morning, so I have to sit around and drink coffee for a while before my brain starts working. I use that time to do my makeup because it’s a relaxing morning routine for me. First when I wake up I clean my face and apply moisturizer. While that’s sinking in I’m making my coffee. Then I go upstairs and usually put on a tvshow of some sort. While sipping coffee I do my makeup. Usually it takes me around 20 minutes to do my eyes and then I finish everything else. On weekend days I can spend ages on my makeup, though.

7. Where do you get makeup inspiration from? Are there any websites or YouTube channels you visit regularly? Any celebrities whose makeup you might draw inspiration from?

I get inspiration from so many places. I regularly visit xoVain.com, the Powder Doom Tumblr (which I’m a proud contributor of) and I subscribe to tons of Youtube channels. My favourites are Pixiwoo, Wayne Goss, Claire Marshall and NikkieTutorials. I also get a lot of inspiration from Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest. I get a lot of inspiration from editorial looks and I often try to make them work in real life. I really like Lorde’s makeup. Both her aesthetics and face shape are very similar to mine. I’m a massive Beyoncé fan so I always look at what she’s wearing too. However, recreating her looks can be a punch in the self-esteem because she’s so beautiful. She often has her makeup done by Sir John. He’s a great makeup artist and I love his work. I’m very guilty of buying things just because I know he used them on Beyoncé. I mean, if it’s good enough for Queen B, it must be really good.

8. Do you feel that your makeup helps to convey your personality, or is a way in which you can visually and aesthetically construct a sense of self? What are you trying to convey through your makeup, if anything?

I often think of myself as a concept. This sounds really pretentious but it’s my way of dealing with body image issues. I feel like my personality floats somewhere above my body, I don’t feel fully connected to it a lot of times. This is what makes it so easy to take risks with my appearance, I think.

I don’t do the whole ‘expressing your feelings through makeup’ by wearing black eyeshadow if I’m sad. Makeup a way of making myself feel better when I’m not feeling good. It’s a way to make myself look even better when I’m already feeling good.

My personality is visible in my makeup in the way that I like weird things and some people might conceive my makeup as weird. But most of all I just like to draw on my face. I don’t like it when people make assumptions about me based on my appearance, I just do whatever I like that day. There usually isn’t a deeper meaning.

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One of Maura’s bolder looks, complete with glitter, glorious glitter!

9. What is it that you like best about makeup?

Makeup is very calming to me. It’s peaceful. I got into the whole makeup game because at that time I was dealing with anxiety and depression. One day I made a trip to Sephora and I looked at all the beautiful stuff, I had no idea how to put it on. That’s when I started watching Youtube tutorials. Those videos were so peaceful to me and it really helped me relax. That’s when I started learning more and more. A bit later I started practicing the things I’d seen in the videos, and I kept getting better and better at makeup. At that time makeup was a way to make myself look good when I was feeling really bad. I found out that using concealer made the people around me less worried, and as it turned out, it also worked for myself. I was sad but at least I looked good. That’s what I like best about makeup. It’s really calming to me. From talking about it to applying it, it’s all a very soothing process for me.

10. Why do you wear makeup?

I wear makeup because I want to. I love doing my makeup, sometimes I love the process of applying it even more than the actual look I’m wearing. Of course there are days I just put on some makeup to conceal a zit and make myself look awake, but I don’t feel obligated to wear makeup at all.

11. When did you first start wearing makeup regularly? When did it become an interest for you, i.e. something you actively wanted to talk about, read about, etc? How did that interest develop?

I started wearing makeup regularly around the age of 14. At that time I had a massive crush on Alexa Chung and I wanted to look like her as much as I could. I dressed like her and I had her haircut. At that time she started wearing winged eyeliner, which was kind of a big deal back then because it wasn’t as much of a staple as it is now. That’s when I started practicing that. On the face I would spot-conceal with foundation. It was a different time. I wore the winged eyeliner for years, until I started practicing makeup at 18. After that became more and more passionate about makeup. At 19 I started blogging about makeup because I wanted a safe space where I could share my passion. I just liked talking about makeup so much and I felt that the people around me didn’t care as much as I did, so I had to find a place to share my thoughts.

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Two of Maura’s earlier looks. Of the look on the left, she says, “This look is from last summer, the bold lips with winged eyes and dark and strong eyebrows were my signature look back then.” The look on the right “is when I just started makeup. I was really proud of this look. It’s one of the first ones I created.”

12. You do a lot of very interesting, almost editorial looks, with bold colours and glitter. Is there something in particular that draws you to these types of looks instead of something more “conventional”? Does this relate to any sort of makeup philosophy you might have? And do you wear these looks out – if so, what context (class, out for drinks, etc)?

I have always been drawn to all things extraordinary and strange. I’ve never been one to ‘fit in’. This quickly translated to my makeup philosophy. Especially when I started I only had bright, colourful and glittery items. I’m still really drawn to shiny things, they just make me happy. For a long time I didn’t do conventional looks because I didn’t know how to do them. I used to watch many drag and other over the top tutorials, and I enjoyed those. I learnt to do the “no makeup makeup” way later. My makeup philosophy has always been “if you like it, wear it” and “it’s not permanent”. So if you end up disliking your look, just take it off. Don’t worry about your brows not being #OnFleek today, tomorrow is another chance. Literally no one cares that your makeup looks wonky for a day (unless you’re a female celebrity, but that’s another discussion).

I wear all my looks out! My FOTD’s are usually pictures from school days, or weekend days but most of the days I leave the house. If I’m ok with putting my picture online for the whole world to see, it’s good enough for everyone else to see.

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One of Maura’s bold looks, which she wore to a New Year’s Eve party this year!

13. Balance is something I’m very interested in, because often we get told “bold eyes or bold lips, but not both”, which I think isn’t necessarily true. Obviously you like to do a lot of creative and bold looks. How do you decide what lipstick to pair with a bold eye look, or vice versa? And how do you feel about this kind of prescriptive beauty “rule”?

I don’t believe in rules when it comes to makeup. Rules are boring, you should just try everything and see how it works on you. I think that bold eyes on bold lips can totally work, dramatic bronze eyes with plum or red lips for example. So glamorous!

When I don’t have a clear idea when I’m doing my makeup, which happens often, I just try on a couple lipsticks and see which one matches the look. Sheer lipsticks are a safe bet because they look great with anything. I often wear those with bold dramatic eye looks. When I’m doing bold lips I usually combine them with neutral shimmery eyes.

14. On your blog, you sometimes do tutorials that recreate, or are inspired by, celebrity looks. Obviously tutorials are designed to teach others, but I’m wondering if you learn anything from creating these types of looks. Does recreating a look help you be more detail-oriented when it comes to doing your makeup?

Recreating celebrity looks is a great way for me to do a look without being limited by your own idea of what your makeup should look like. That way I try completely different things that I maybe wouldn’t have come up with myself. It’s a good way to see what works on my face and what doesn’t.

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Another bold look – so much glitter!

15. I saw you mentioned that you’re on a self-imposed eyeliner ban. Why is this? How has this forced you to get creative with how you do your eye makeup?

I’ve been on an eyeliner ban before, it was this spring. I watched a tutorial with Sir John and he was recreating a look he did on Beyoncé. He said that eyeliner is over and that everyone should stop doing the winged eye all the time. At that time I’d been a winged eyeliner enthusiast for five years and I thought he had a point. I banned it for a month. I really wasn’t used to seeing my bare eyelids anymore, but I got used to it after a while.

At the beginning of this year I ditched the winged eyeliner again. I’m just bored of the look, it’s not my aesthetic anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I think it can look glamorous on a lot of people but I’m just done with it. It’s a look I’ve worn for years, and I don’t like it anymore It’s forced me to get creative because suddenly there was an entire eyelid to fill, when before I’d cover up half of it with eyeliner.

Lastly, Maura kindly shared these pictures of her setup:

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I want to thank Maura for sharing her unusual and inspiring makeup philosophy today and letting me pick her brain! Make sure you check out her blog, Maura Ivy, for more of her aesthetic and perspective.