Why I returned my Ambient Lighting Palette

Posted on July 25, 2015 under Reviews

Last month I went to Sephora for a (small) birthday haul. One of the things I picked up with my birthday money was the now-iconic Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette. Let’s be clear: I never would have purchased it with my own money, as the price is a rather extravagant $67 CAD, the most I have ever dropped on a single makeup item. But I thought, hey, I have other people’s money to spend and everyone likes this thing!

Impulse purchases, man.

The other two items I picked up in that haul (YSL Rouge Volupté lipstick in Rose In Tension and Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector pressed in Moonstone) were thoroughly researched and, as a result, I love them. But with the ALP, I was mostly going off hype. And, not so surprisingly, I was disappointed.

I gave it a try for a month, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that the palette was underwhelming. Now, part of this does have to do with my colouring. The peach-toned Dim Light is pretty much unuseable to me; it’s too dark to use as a setting powder on my fair skin but too light to work as a bronzer. Speaking of bronzer, Radiant Light does work as one for me – it’s subtle, soft, and blendable, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Make no mistake – the texture of these powders is divine. Incandescent Light doesn’t work as a highlight for me (again, due to my fairness), and as a finishing powder I really don’t feel that it does anything special. So, that’s one powder out of three that I have warm feelings about – and for $67, that’s just not going to cut it.

hourglass-alp-swatches

And so I took advantage of Sephora’s generous return policy. I did feel a bit bad since it’s been used several times, but it’s well within the parameters of their policy. And, well, if it was half the price I probably wouldn’t have bothered. But with the $75 I got back after taxes I managed to pick up an Ambient Lighting Blush in Luminous Flush and to replace my tragically lost MAC Rebel – so now I have two products I enjoy instead of one I don’t. Plus, this was a very potent reminder that hype absolutely does not guarantee satisfaction. Also to swatch before I buy instead of just throwing things into my bag in a blind excitement, which is probably the more salient lesson.

By the way – my friends Jelena, Kristin, and Aisling all returned their ALPs, so I don’t think this is one of my They’re Real!-esque unpopular opinions.

My sun protection routine

Posted on July 22, 2015 under Reviews

As is typical of someone of my pallor, I don’t tan. I go from reflectively pale to bright red with nothing in between. Luckily, I haven’t actually had a proper burn in years, thanks to constant vigilance when it comes to sun protection.

As most of us know, sun protection is important year-round, not just in the summer. But I’m especially hardcore about it when the UV index is particularly threatening, and lately I’ve found three products that have quickly ascended to “favourite” status when it comes to protecting my skin from its worst enemy.

For the face: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Fluid Lotion SPF 60 & Anthelios Mineral Tinted Ultra-Fluid Lotion SPF 50

I can’t even tell you how many thousands of dollars’ worth of these two facial sunscreens I’ve sold. They’re my go-to when a customer wants a high quality lightweight, non-greasy sunscreen for the face, and the vast majority repurchase it again and again. It sinks into the skin in no time, feels like nothing on the face, and doesn’t cause breakouts. It’s perfect under makeup since it’s so lightweight – it doesn’t feel like you’re layering a billion things on only to sweat them off.

sunscreen-swatches

Left: Unblended so you can see the fluid texture. Right: Blended so you can see how the tinted and untinted versions appear on the skin.

Generally, I recommend the tinted mineral sunscreen to people as physical sunscreen does offer longer-lasting sun protection. A lot of my customers like the tint, too. Personally, I prefer the untinted chemical sunscreen (SPF 60) myself, since I’m so fair. One layer of the tinted version blended away fades into my skin fairly well, but if I use enough to maximize on my sun protection I find it looks a bit muddy. I am definitely paler than average, though, and the tint would be appropriate for most people.

It’s worth noting that the bottle does look a tiny bit different now: it’s shorter and wider, but the product inside remains the same. My bottles are from last summer – but don’t worry, they don’t expire until 2016!

For the body: Avène High Protection Spray SPF 50+

I really despise applying sunscreen to my body. I have enough incentive to protect my precious face, but when it comes to the far more vast surface area of my body, I’m reluctant to bother. Most of the time it’s not the threat of a burn (or complications from burning) that motivates me to do it – rather, it’s protecting my tattoos from fading. I paid good money for them, and I intend to preserve the colour for as along as possible!

A spray is the best bet for someone as lazy as me, and I love that this one is non-aerosol. I’m not exactly an environmentalist, but there are some things that are so easily avoided that it’s foolish not to! But besides the format, I’m a big fan of the product inside. I find that it sinks in fast and feels lightweight on the skin, and it does its one job admirably. A bonus is that I find it quite moisturizing, which is nice for someone as perpetually dry-skinned as me.

I will mention that it is quite heavily fragranced, which I find strange from a brand like Avène that markets itself towards those with sensitive and intolerant skin. My skin isn’t sensitive to fragrance for the most part, but my nose can be – and I must admit that I’m not a huge fan of the scent of this sunscreen. (On the other hand, one of my coworkers raves about it, so it’s obviously up to personal preference.) The scent doesn’t linger long after application, though, so I don’t consider it a dealbreaker in the least.

And that is how I maintain healthy skin when the sun is out to get me!

Products with bad packaging

Posted on June 18, 2015 under Lists

I’ll admit it: I’m a packaging snob. I have all the makeup basics covered, which means that to introduce a new product into my collection I need to be wowed – and packaging is definitely something that I take into consideration. For me, makeup isn’t just something I put on my face. It’s something I experience, and if it looks pretty my experience is even better. Just today I bought a YSL Rouge Volupté lipstick, which I have wanted for the better part of a year pretty much solely based on the packaging. It makes me feel so fancy! (And it’s my birthday tomorrow, so I can do what I want.) But packaging isn’t just about beauty, either: it needs to be functional.

So, today I bring you some of my least favourite packaging, both aesthetically and functionally. Let’s begin!

Rimmel Stay Matte Powder

rimmel-stay-matte-powder

Rimmel Stay Matte Powder packaging, how do I hate thee? Well, let me not count the ways, because we’ll be here all damn day. I hate that you’re not a compact. I hate that your lid has no fastening mechanism, meaning I cannot in good faith toss you into my makeup bag and expect you to stay intact. I hate that you have no mirror. I hate how goddamn cheap you are. But what’s inside of you? Well, there’s a reason this powder is a $5 staple in makeup bags all over the world. But you suck, packaging. You truly do.

Joe Fresh Matte Lipstick

joe-fresh-matte-lipstick

I genuinely love the formula (and colour) of this $6 lipstick, but the packaging betrays its price point. Not only does it look cheap (white and clear plastic are dead giveaways), it’s flimsy as hell. I’ve never had lipstick packaging break in the way this one did – that middle piece in the picture is part of the tube! Add into the mix the tendency to get really dirty really quickly and you’ve got a recipe for unambiguously terrible packaging.

Wet N Wild Eyeshadow

wet-n-wild-shadow-trio

By now we all know that Wet N Wild eyeshadow is some serious drugstore sorcery. There are, like, two powder eyeshadow formulas I will pull off the drugstore shelves and buy, and this is one. But the packaging is just so cheap. It’s entirely plastic, and no effort whatsoever has been made to make it look even a bit pretty. At ridiculously low prices I know I can’t complain, but I just wish the packaging would reflect the quality of the shadows. Think of how many people might overlook these amazing, insanely inexpensive eyeshadows just because the packaging makes them look like crap!

Benefit Boxed Powders

benefit-boxed-blush

Don’t get me wrong – the packaging on these blushes is very aesthetically pleasing. Like most Benefit products, their boxed blushes are adorable. However, from a practical standpoint this packaging is hell. It’s, like, at least an inch thicker than it needs to be, making the products hard to store and even harder to pack for travel. Benefit Hervana would be my go-to neutral travel blush if it weren’t for the goddamn packaging! They’re also very annoying to store, since they take up so much room. Seriously – look at all that unused space! And I’ll always sideye cardboard packaging when I’m paying $35+ for a product.

Milani Baked Blushes

milani-baked-blush

Ugh, talk about bulky! This compact is ostensibly so large because it contains a brush and a mirror, but I don’t think most people use the dinky brushes that come with blushes. I certainly don’t, as evidenced by the fact that it’s still in its wrapper. And I fail to see why the mirror can’t just be in the lid, instead of in a special panel underneath the product. There is nothing sexier than a slim, sleek blush compact, and THIS IS NOT THAT.

Every Physician’s Formula product ever

physicians-formula

I know, I know. A lot of people think their packaging is cute. I think it’s gaudy and unnecessary. This Happy Boosting Powder that I have is actually rather inoffensive compared to some of their packaging, but it’s still unnecessarily large. Like the Milani Baked Blushes, it has a panel with a mirror and brush, both of which go completely unused. I find a lot of PF packaging to be similarly large: their mascara is almost offensive to me, for example.

I know it’s what’s on the inside that counts and that I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But I think my days of buying crappily packaged products are, for the most part, over. I like beautiful things, and I like things that aren’t a pain in the ass to use and store. Maybe that makes me high maintenance and shallow, but at least I’ll have a lot of pretty pretty things!