Products that are worth the hype #1

Posted on November 27, 2014 under Lists

I won’t even bother writing an introduction about how it sucks when a product is super hyped up and then you hate it, because we’ve all been there and it’s pretty obvious that that’s a shitty experience. Instead, I’ll just say that these five are staples in my makeup routine and in my opinion totally live up to the hype!

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

I know that everyone and their mom talks about this eyeliner, and if you don’t use it you’re probably like, “UGH, SHUT UP, I GET IT,” but the thing is that you don’t get it because it is that good. I have tried a lot of black liquid liners in my life, and I have found exactly two that don’t transfer on my eyelids.

To illustrate how well this one stays put, I will tell you a story of how I put it to The Drunk Test, which is the best possible test. Once, I did perfect winged eyeliner (which this liner makes it really easy to do, by the way), went out, drank several sidecars, rubbed my eyes halfway through the night and vaguely, drunkenly realized I probably shouldn’t do that, came home hours later, decided to wash off all my makeup but my eyeliner so that I didn’t have to do my wings again the next morning, and woke up to perfectly intact eyeliner.

The lesson? Drunk me is an innovative genius, and this eyeliner is the shit.

Illamasqua Cream Pigment in Hollow

We’ve all heard that this is the best contour for pale, cool-toned skin. While I certainly have not tried every contour in the world and so cannot definitively say if this is true, I don’t feel the need to try every contour in the world because I have found The One.

My wonderful friend Jelena let me borrow Hollow for a not insignificant amount of time this summer, and I got so used to using it that when I had to return it to her I was lost. None of the products I was using to contour prior to Hollow came close to reaching its godliness. One of the first things I did when I got the UK, land of many Illamasqua counters, was run to Debenhams and buy Hollow. NOT SORRY AT ALL.

Hollow is, indeed, the perfect colour to give my complexion realistic-looking cheekbone definition. It also has just the right amount of pigment: it’s visible without needing to build up a million layers on your brush, but not so pigmented that it’s like, WOW, YOU PUT A LOT OF MAKEUP ON YOUR FACE. It’s easy to blend out, stays put all day, and after months of use I have not seen a dent in it at all.

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This is a bad quality picture because I actually took it to document whatever the eff my hair is doing after being dyed lavender last month, but you can also see Hollow in action.

Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer

Concealer isn’t a very glamourous or fun product, but after hearing so many UK beauty gurus rave about it, it was #1 on my list of things to buy as soon as I got here. It took a bit of hunting to find a store that wasn’t out of the lightest shade (shoutout to the Boots on Princes Street in Edinburgh!), but it was so worth it. It’s creamy and extremely high coverage, which is good because I have this one zit on my chin that pretty much never goes away so I need ALL THE HELP I CAN GET! I also love using this one on my brow bone for when I want ***flawless, high-def brows.

The only downside to this product is that the colour range is very limited, with only four shades. If you’re not fair to tan, you’re out of luck. This is worth mentioning because it’s symptomatic of a wider culture of exclusion in the beauty industry. I really wish Collection would expand this line, because there are so many people needlessly missing out on an excellent product.

Maybelline Colour Tattoos

I believe I have 14 or 15 Colour Tattoos, which really tells you everything you need to know. Some are better than others (the coloured ones tend to be a bit gritty/patchy/hard to blend), but the majority of them are fantastic. Gorgeous colours, easy to apply (I always apply them with my finger!), great staying power. I do tend to have creasing problems (a result of having hooded, oily eyelids – SO unfair when the rest of my skin is dry as a bone), but these always stay really well. I never use a primer underneath them and I have no issues. They’re a great base to add pigment or dimension to powder shadows, but they’re also gorgeous on their own.

By now probably everybody knows how great these are since they’re so affordable, but they deserve a shoutout since they’re definitely in my top 5 favourite products of all time.

Rimmel Lasting Perfection by Kate Moss Lipsticks

Again, most people are probably aware of Rimmel’s Kate Moss line of lipstick since they’re very inexpensive and so talked about. The regular and matte lines are both excellent – great formula that stays put and feels comfortable on the lips, and a really nice variety of colours, from nudes to bright corals to deep berry reds. I have five from the regular line and one of the mattes, and I usually pick up a new one when they go on sale.

My only complaint is that they could definitely expand the range of colours. While there are a lot of nice ones, I’m at the point where I pretty much have all the colours that suit me and that I like – and I want more! (I’m a lipstick hoarder, by the way.)

What do you guys think of these products? And what products are totally worth the hype to you?

On being bare-faced

Posted on November 21, 2014 under Thoughts

There has been a lot of proverbial ink spilled over women wearing makeup to hide who they really are or to trick men. I hope it’s no surprise that I think this is utter bullshit, for multiple reasons.

  1. I regularly wear dark purple lipstick or colourful eyeshadow. That is the opposite of hiding. That is saying, “LOOK AT THIS AWESOME LIPSTICK I BOUGHT.”
  2. Makeup, for me and many people, is self-expression, not self-repression.
  3. I sure as shit don’t wear makeup for men. Men can’t even tell when you’re wearing makeup. Once one of my male friends told another friend that she didn’t need makeup to be beautiful, and used me as an example of someone who looked good without makeup. I had on concealer, shimmery eyeshadow, eyeliner, and mascara. There are stories all over the internet of men saying they like Kim Kardashian’s “natural” look. Yeah, nobody naturally has a smokey eye, dude.

But I think in our feminist outrage about self-expression and wearing what we want, we often forget that some people do wear makeup because they want to hide perceived “flaws”, or just because it makes them feel better. For every woman with thick winged liner and bright lips who even those “Kim K wears no makeup!” men can tell are wearing makeup, there are plenty who don’t want it to be noticeable, who wear it because if they’re not worrying about the things they think are wrong with their faces they can focus on everything else.

In a world that is so obsessed with women’s appearances to the point where Renée Zellweger only has to step outside of her house with her face looking a certain way to be the subject of headlines across the internet, can we really blame women for doing what they can to neutralize their appearances? If you want to be taken seriously, if you want to be able to get things done without worrying that everyone is noticing your zits or acne scarring or undereye circles, how can we act as though it’s not a valid choice for women to use makeup to eliminate these concerns? Men don’t have to make these choices; they don’t have to worry about not being taken seriously professionally or personally because of how their faces look.

Just look at this recent thread in r/makeupaddiction, “Why do you wear makeup?” The responses vary, but a lot of them definitely fall into the “It just makes me feel better about myself” camp, with no speak of self-expression or empowerment or any of that jazz.

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In some of these examples, there is a bit (or a lot) of insecurity expressed, or sense of obligation (not being taken seriously as a professional). In some of them, posters eloquently explain how they use makeup to feel a bit better about themselves, but that liking how you look with makeup doesn’t mean you hate your bare face. This isn’t a black and white situation. There’s a lot of nuance in any discussion of why an individual woman might choose to use cosmetics, or how she feels about her face.

Obviously, obviously, I hate to see women saying they hate their faces and that’s why they use makeup. I hate to see the negative side of something I love, that has been so positive for me, and that I have used to make others happy. I hate that the cosmetics industry has weaponized a woman’s own face to be used against her.

But that’s just it, assholes who want to judge women for “hiding”: nobody’s trying to “trick” you. If women want to hide their faces, it’s because we are told from birth that merely by existing we are doing something wrong. The way our facial features naturally settle when we’re not smiling? Resting Bitch Face. The way our bodies look if we’re not wearing undergarments and shapewear? Unsightly. And let’s not talk about our faces with no makeup. Haggard, ugly, tired, sick. If you want women to stop “hiding”, don’t attack them. Attack the industry that makes them feel like they have to hide in the first place. Or just stop being so obsessed with what women do.

Because here’s the thing: nobody calls men fake for presenting their physical selves in a way that makes them feel powerful, or cool, or just like themselves. Men buy $300 sneakers to look cool, but you don’t see anyone calling them fake, or superficial, or acting as if it’s any of their fucking business what someone else puts on their own body.

Unless you’re doing some extreme Kontouring, you do not look like a fundamentally different person without makeup on. Hell, I’m sure even the Kardashians are recognizable when they wash it all off. Sure, with a full face of makeup my skin is smoother, I have no under-eye circles, and my eyelashes are thicker, longer, and darker – but I’m still me. Makeup does not fundamentally change my face into something unrecognizable, nor does it change who I am as a person.

I don’t mean to downplay the difference makeup makes. Most pictures of me are not how I look when I first roll out of bed. For one thing, I’m not frowning at the fact that I’m conscious. But get past the zits and eyebags and realize that my face looks pretty much the same. I’m not lying to anyone. And if you think there’s anything wrong with my face with no makeup on, that’s on you for thinking there’s something inherently wrong with a woman’s natural face. We are raised to notice flaws in women and ignore flaws in men, which is why nobody thinks men need to wear makeup or that men just naturally age better than women. No – you’re just more critical of women.

That’s why you’re shocked when you see someone’s face underneath their foundation and mascara and eyeshadow and lipstick and a million other products. It’s not because they look so different. It’s not because they’re ugly. It’s because you’re looking for flaws. And, frankly, it’s insulting to say a woman is “hiding” her face when she wears makeup, because the implication is that there’s something wrong with her bare face, that when she takes her makeup off she goes from the pretty girl you fell for to an ugly beast that you wouldn’t have looked at twice if you’d known.

And I guess part two to this post is that I don’t want my blog to be a contribution to this idea that makeup makes you worthy as a person. Makeup, for me, is an art form, a way that I express myself, and just an interest of mine that I want to share. I have friends who love makeup just as much as I do, I have friends who wear just a bit of makeup every day, and I have friends who wear no makeup, ever. I love them all. I don’t judge any of them. I never think any of them are fake, or ugly, or that that they should wear more or less makeup. In the end, it’s just smearing shit on your face. If you’re into that, cool. If not, also cool.

So let’s de-weaponize our own faces. I know it’s easier said than done, but let’s do that cliché fake-it-till-ya-make-it thing of looking in the mirror first thing in the morning and saying, “You’re beautiful,” or, even better, “Your face does not determine your self-worth. But it’s still pretty rad.” Let’s look at pictures of ourselves with no makeup on and think about the positives instead of fixating on the parts of our faces that we don’t like.

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On this day, I was hanging out with a bunch of my favourite people. I don’t know who said what, but clearly I was enjoying it. After this photo was taken I put on a full face of makeup, had my friend curl my hair, and went out for sushi. Best day ever.

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This was a beach day with three people who I love (and miss). We splashed around, played Twenty Questions in the sun, and had lunch at a touristy café.

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Who has time to worry about eyeliner when there are small children to chase around?

So men (and women) who act like women are “fake” or “hiding” who they are for wearing makeup: wake up and realize that not everything is about you. There are so many of us out there who do it for reasons entirely unrelated to insecurity – but there are women who wear makeup because they’re insecure, and they shouldn’t be blamed for that. If you really care, target the heads of cosmetics companies. (You don’t care. You just want another reason to control women.)

Bare faces are just as good as made-up faces, and vice versa. I hope that one day we will live in a world where we all embrace our makeupless faces, and where we only wear makeup because we truly want to and not because we feel obligated to. Until then, I’ll keep rolling my eyes at people who disparage women for putting makeup on, as if it isn’t our right to do what we want and feel how we want about our own faces.

Beauty-related gifts that don’t suck

Posted on November 13, 2014 under Lists

There are a lot of beauty holiday gift roundups out there, but in my opinion most of them are not that great. Obviously, tastes differ and I’m sure there are people who would disagree with me, but personally I think it’s hard to go wrong with holiday-specific sets or products. I know, I know, not very creative, but they’re nice products from brands with name recognition and THEY ARE SPECIALLY PACKAGED FOR THE HOLIDAYS. I love the holiday season and I love interesting/cute/beautiful packaging, so obviously this is the way to my heart.

This isn’t a real wishlist because I know that I will be receiving ZERO of these products. This is just a list of holiday beauty gifts that are not crap.

Lips

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Lipstick Queen Lip Nouveau Set – $48 USD ($54.46 CAD, £30.51)

I think Lipstick Queen packaging is beautiful in its simplicity (and the lipsticks are satisfyingly heavy to hold), and there is just something so special about receiving THREE ENTIRE lipsticks. You get three colours and three formulas, and although the set isn’t holiday-specific, the colours are all appropriate for cold-weather.

Charlotte Tilbury Mini Lipstick Charms – £29 ($51.77 CAD)

I’m in love with the Charlotte Tilbury lipstick I have, so of course this adorable miniature set of three miniature travel-friendly lipsticks is appealing. Plus, the packaging is perfect for the holiday season: it’s a bit fun, but still expensive with the matte chocolate brown and rose gold.

Sephora Favourites: Give Me Some Lip – $30 CAD (£16.80)

For the lipstick lover, there’s nothing better than the chance to try new formulas and colours, especially if you can try a bunch all at once. These are generous sizes (including one full-sized product), so it’s not like giving someone one-use samples. This is the gift of choice!

Eyes

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Lancôme Hypnôse Classic Mascara Christmas Gift Set – $35 CAD (£22.50)

Even though I refuse to spend my own money on high-end mascara since there’s so much on offer at the drugstore, I live for high-end samples and I love Hypnôse and its various spinoffs. Also, the Bi-Facil eye makeup remover is THE BEST and the Defincils eyeliner is a classic – and you’re getting those for free, since the set is the same price as the mascara alone. SCORE.

MAC Keepsakes Eye Palettes – $39.50 USD ($47.50 CAD, £32)

This one is entirely about the packaging for me – that cameo is too gorgeous! Plus, considering the price of MAC eyeshadows, this is actually a really great price for what you get. But I’m mostly in it for the packaging – I would treasure something this gorgeous forever!

Illamasqua Embellish Eye Trio – £49 ($87.40 CAD)

This set is a bit extravagantly priced, but when has Illamasqua ever mislead us?! The rose gold details and the beautiful box it comes in make this seem like a very special gift, plus cream eyeshadow, gel eyeliner, and brow gel are all products that would get a lot of love from me. This set is just decadent.

Face

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NARS Virtual Domination Cheek Palette – $75 CAD (£45)

This is another one that’s quite pricey, but NARS’ cheek pigments are legendary, the packaging is just the right balance between whimsical and chic, and this is a useful product for travelling. With a few cult products and a few of NARS’ lesser-known hits, this palette hits all the right notes.

Benefit Fun-Size Flirts Christmas Gift Set – $38 CAD (£29.50)

This set contains a little bit of everything – deluxe samples of primer, highlighter, blush, mascara, and more. Again, I’m into sampler gifts because the recipient can try out generous sample sizes of things for free and then know for sure if it’s worth dropping cash on the full-sized product! Also, I think the Benefit packaging is the cutest ever. Fancy packaging is nice too, but sometimes you just want something adorable.

Benefit Cutie Cravings Gift Set (Debenhams exclusive) – £26.55

And for those of us in the UK who are craving an especially adorable Benefit set, get thee to a Debenhams (or order online, it’s the 21st century). Personally I think this set is really useful, with Benefit’s cult classic Hoola bronzer, four neutral eyeshadows, the super popular They’re Real! mascara, and more. This set gives you pretty much everything you need to create a soft and pretty makeup look, which means that it’s basically the gift of a face.

So, those are my picks for beauty-related gifts I would like to receive/gifts I would give if I were rich. What are yours?