British Beauty Haul: Everything I Bought On My Year Abroad

Posted on April 10, 2015 under Lists

One of the allures of a year abroad in the UK was, of course, access to UK makeup brands. When I’m in Canada I can usually find my ways to get my hands on the goods, but nothing beats being able to browse at your leisure, to swatch, to mull things over in the aisle of Superdrug. (Not to mention not paying postage, not having to wait for the package to arrive, and not implicating someone else in the process of buying a simple lipstick.)

I think I controlled myself, to be fair. Sure, I purchased things, like any makeup lover would, but I tried to limit my purchases to things I would actually use and to avoid being swayed by the novelty factor of having so much British makeup at my fingertips.

I’ll be leaving the UK today, having a brief dalliance with all that Iceland has to offer, and returning to Canada on Monday. Today seems like the right time to post this: what I purchased, beauty-wise, while in the UK, in roughly chronological order.

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Illamasqua Cream Pigment in Hollow
I think I bought this within my first three days here. My lovely friend Jelena had managed to acquire this product in Toronto, and let me borrow it for around two months. It became a staple in my routine and was hastily purchased when I made it to the land of abundant Illamasqua counters. A full review of it will be coming at some point!

The Body Shop Camomile Oil Cleanser
The Body Shop was opened in Brighton, so it totally counts! I’ll probably write a proper post about this cleanser at some point, so suffice to say that it’s one of my favourite products from The Body Shop.

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Barry M Hi Shine Nail Paints in Kiwi, Sugar Apple, and Damson
I did not buy these at once, but as my opinion on the three of them is the same I may as well lump them in together. I love these three colours, especially Kiwi (it’s so vibrant and unexpected!), and I love the formula. These nail polishes were very hyped in 2012 and 2013, and for good reason: they really are long-lasting and shiny. I’ve recently written all about Damson, and Kiwi featured in one of my first blog posts. Here’s a shot of Sugar Apple:

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Unsurprisingly for a lighter colour, I do find that Sugar Apple needs three coats to reach full opacity as opposed to Kiwi and Damson’s two, but that’s a small gripe.

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Barry M Lip Paint in Black
Admittedly, I only bought this because I have never seen black lipstick in a North American drugstore. I’ve never worn it out, but I’ve tried it on, and it’s surprisingly comfortable to wear. One day I will wear it for real.

Eyelure Nadine no125 lashes
This was a stupid purchase. I didn’t bring any lashes with me to the UK, and I was like, “What if I need some?”, ignoring the fact that I have never in my life found myself in a situation where I felt false lashes were especially warranted. I’m just not a false eyelash person, with one exception. Oh, well – I like these well enough for what they are, and I suppose I’ll find an occasion to wear them.

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Rimmel Apocalips Lip Velvet in 307 Meteoric Matte
I was drawn in by the hype, by my love for liquid lipsticks, and by the colour. I’ve worn it twice. I have products with similar colours in formulas I like better. It’s not that it’s a bad product, it’s just that it doesn’t fill any hole in my collection and thus falls by the wayside. I’ll probably end up passing it along at some point so someone else can enjoy it more than I will.

Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer
Despite a more positive post about this concealer, upon further use I have to conclude that I don’t quite get the hype. Maybe it’s just that the lightest shade is still too dark and too orange for me, but, although this is a perfectly adequate concealer, it just doesn’t blow me away. I’ll stick to my MAC Studio Finish; it’s more hygienic, anyway. (God, I hate doe-foot applicator concealers.)

Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge
I love this sponge – the density, the shape, and the application, everything. Not to mention the price! At around £5, it’s much cheaper than the beautyblender, and totally does the job.

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Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum foundation
I picked this up despite my reservations about the colour. These reservations turned out to be well-founded; it’s simply too dark and too warm for me. Surprisingly, I also didn’t love how it applied on my skin – it seemed to sit on top of it rather than sink into it, and it made me look oily, which is quite a feat considering I’m on the dryer side of normal. My friend Hayley loves this foundation, so I’m taking it back to Toronto to pass on to her.

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Real Techniques Nic’s Pick’s brush set
Reviewed – I use every single brush from this set regularly. A very good purchase.

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Collection Cream Puff Moisturising Lip Cream in Cotton Candy
Not the best liquid lipstick, but it performs reasonably well, especially at £3. I have relatively few neutral lip colours, so this one is good to have on hand. I will contest the claim that this is moisturizing – it’s fairly drying, just as you’d expect of a cheap matte liquid lipstick.

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Topshop lipstick in Depth
Love the colour, love how it feels on the lips, don’t love the staying power. Ah, well; a colour like this is bound to be high-maintenance. I did not give this lipstick enough love this fall and winter, and now it’s getting too warm for it to be seasonally appropriate. Whatever; I’ll probably wear it this summer anyway. Life’s too short not to use gorgeous lip colours whenever the heck you want.

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Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Red Carpet Red
Reviewed here. This is still my favourite lipstick formula. Even though I like to mix up my lipstick colours and not just stick with a classic red, I reach for this one all. the. time. I’ve never understood people who underuse expensive products – sure, one day this baby will be all used up, but at least I’ll get my £23’s worth!

Tanya Burr Everyday Flutter False Lashes
Reviewed here. Still impressed with these, still the only lashes I’m inclined to wear with anything resembling regularity.

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Vaseline
I mean, it’s just a mini tub of Vaseline. But the packaging is cute and it keeps my lips in good condition, so it can stay.

One Direction You & I Shower Gel
Tragically, the newest One Direction perfume was on special along with the shower gel for just £10 at Superdrug. My friend Bec and I split it, and she got the perfume. Fine with me; I wear fragrance so rarely that shower gel is much more useful to me. I’ve smelled the perfume, anyway, and on me it’s pretty much indistinguishable from One Direction’s original fragrance launch, Our Moment, which I already own. (I’m ashamed of this fact, but not as ashamed as I should be.)

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Topshop Glow Highlighter in Polished
Reviewed here. My opinion on this highlighter is unwavering: it’s simply the best, in my books.

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Rimmel Exaggerate Lip Liner in Red Diva
These twist-up Rimmel lip liners are excellent quality – so creamy and pigmented! This one is the perfect true red to match the red lipsticks I favour. I just wish there were more shades in the line, because I’ve bought all the colours I like!

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Little Mix By Collection Lipstick in Jade
By the time you read this, I may have purchased Jesy’s lip colour just to complete the set. (I have Perrie’s and Leigh-Anne’s from a 2013 haul.) At just £2.49, these lipsticks are really great quality – easy to apply, comfortable to wear, and surprisingly long-lasting considering how creamy they are. It was Aisling who originally put me onto this colour, because it’s one of her favourite neutrals. I do love the slightly brown pink; it’s very wearable. And, as a fan of Little Mix, I also consider this a collector’s item. The packaging isn’t glamourous, but it’s very cute!

Boots Botanics Radiant Youth Night Cream
This was another product bought at the urging of Aisling, who is such an enabler. (I never would have bought the most expensive lipstick I own without her!) So far, I am loving it. Look out for a full review within the next few weeks.

And there you have it: a collective beauty haul spanning from September to April.

(And, of course, in the interest of not reducing seven months in the UK to pure consumerism, I had an amazing time in Glasgow, exploring the city, the UK, and beyond. I’ll absolutely be back… and I’ll probably pick up some more makeup while I’m at it.)

Empties: February-April 2015

Posted on April 07, 2015 under Empties

It’s almost time for me to leave Scotland (Friday, baby!), so I have frantically been attempting to use up some products to save room in the luggage that I need to haul across the ocean back to Canada. Here are the products I’ve used up just in the nick of time!

Skincare

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La Roche-Posay Physiological Micellar Solution
I got this when there was a promo where you could get twice the product for the same price. That was back in June. $22 for a product I use at least four times a week that lasted me nine months is a steal, in my opinion. Additionally, I liked this product: it was gentle, but thorough. It didn’t sting or dry out my skin at all. La Roche-Posay continues to impress! I don’t think I’d buy the regular size at full price as it puts it at a much higher price per fl oz than Bioderma, but if they have this special again I’d definitely repurchase.

The Body Shop Tea Tree Mask
I enjoyed this mask’s soothing and cooling sensation, and I found that it worked reasonably well at reducing breakouts quickly. I didn’t use it regularly, but if I had a particularly rough breakout I’d use it every day for three or four days and it would do wonders at calming it down much faster than normal. I don’t think I’ll repurchase this anytime soon because I want to explore other masks, but I’d definitely recommend it.

Indeed Labs Pepta-Bright
Okay, so this is a bit of a cheat because Aisling gave me the tail end of a tube, meaning I did not use the whole thing up! Rather, I used it twice a day for about a week on a bout of hyperpigmentation that arose several months ago as a result of a particularly nasty zit. (I get terrible zit-caused hyperpigmentation; it sucks!) Here’s the before and after:

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One of the little spots has almost completely faded, and the other is visibly reduced (though it sprouted a new zit, so it’s hard to reach any conclusions about it). I know it’s easy to say, “Well, those spots would have faded naturally anyway” – but trust me, I know how my skin acts, and I can say that the Pepta-Bright has definitely faded those spots.

Also, I took a pretty picture of it when I had access to Aisling’s camera:

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Anyway, this one is a winner in my books, and I really didn’t expect it to do anything. It’s on the pricey side so I’m not sure if I’ll end up buying it, but if I ever get serious about eliminating my hyperpigmentation this will be at the top of the list. And now I don’t have to do a full review of it!

Bodycare

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The Body Shop Olive Body Butter
I would recommend this body butter to someone who doesn’t like an overwhelming scent in their products. It doesn’t smell like olives at all, really; it’s quite a subtle scent, and reasonably pleasant. I prefer the scent and thicker texture of the coconut one, and once I’ve used up the remainder of my mango body butter I think Mr. Coconut and I will go exclusive. Gotta love modern romance.

Dermaglow Moisturizing Body Oil
Dermaglow went out of business several years ago so this is probably expired, but it smells the same so whatever. I like to live dangerously. I loved this stuff; it made my skin feel incredibly silky and worked fantastically under a thicker body moisturizer. Plus, that rose scent was divine. I’m sad this is gone. RIP Dermaglow. You made the only product that significantly impacted my keratosis pilaris and you will be forever mourned by your faithful devotees, my mother and I. (Seriously, if anyone can hook me up with a product even half as good as their 8% glycolic acid body lotion, I will be your slave for life.)

Makeup

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Revlon Lip Butter in Berry Smoothie
This is the first lipstick-ish product I have ever used up, which feels like an accomplishment. I loved the colour; it’s so wearable yet pretty, understated but a still a bit interesting. I wore this pretty much every day I travelled this year because it’s a comfortable formula and a great casual colour. However, I don’t love the Lip Butters in general so I won’t repurchase this.

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Oh, hello, disconcerting close-up that shows off my peach fuzz and chin zits!

For the record, I purchased this in the winter of 2013 and finished it in March, so it lasted me somewhere in the vicinity of two years.

Rimmel lip liner in Eastend Snob
I put this lip liner through a lot; it’s a similar colour to my lips so it worked well under most lipsticks, and it’s a gorgeous colour on its own as well. I’m already well on my way through a second one of these.

Miscellaneous products

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L’Oréal Elvive Colour Protect Mask
I told you I love this stuff! This is now my third tub of it and I will repurchase until the end of time! I’ve been without it for a few weeks now since I didn’t want to get a new tub and haul it back to Canada, but rest assured my baby and I will soon be reunited.

Superdrug Nourishing Nail Polish Remover
I mean, this was nail polish remover. It removed my nail polish. I much prefer the tubs with the sponges because I find them quicker and more convenient (not to mention less wasteful since you bypass the whole cotton pad issue!), but those don’t seem to be a thing in the UK, at least not as far as I could tell. I will be happy to get back to the land of abundant “I’m a lazy ass” nail polish remover!

Things I’m getting rid of

There are also a few products that aren’t empty but that I’m tossing or passing on.

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Benefit Gimme Brow in Medium
Aisling gifted this to me (she tends to unload her unwanted products on me), and it’s far too warm for my brows. It’s a perfectly good product so I will rehome it with one of my friends.

NYX Extra Creamy Round Lipstick in Paris
This pale pink simply clashes with my complexion. I’ve tried to make it work several times, and I just hate it on myself. My friend Marston is much more tan than me and looks great in these types of colours, so I’m passing it on to her.

Revlon Lip Butter in Peach Parfait
Remember how I said I don’t love the Lip Butters? Yeah. I’m down to one now, and even that is tenuous. Peach Parfait was super hyped as a “my lips but better” colour in 2012/2013. That may be true for some people, but peaches never look good on me. Add that to the extreme gold sparkle in this particular shade and the fact that I don’t love the formula (it doesn’t last through anything!) and it’s time for someone else to give this product some love.

Soap and Glory Archery Brow Pencil in Medium
Again, the shade doesn’t work for me. This is also the old packaging, with a much thicker pencil; I find the new packaging, with the fine Anastasia-reminiscent tip, much more agreeable.

Benefit Pocketpal
I have absolutely no use for a clear gloss (I do not like lip gloss), so I emptied the mini Benetint into my full-sized Benetint. I will now proceed to throw this out, because I doubt any of my friends want a half-empty, used product.

I made it a mission to use up as much as possible between February and now, and I think I did okay! That’s fourteen products that I don’t have to fit into my very limited suitcase space.

The Makeup and Style of Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

Posted on April 04, 2015 under Thoughts

When I was in London last weekend, I had the chance to see Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the Victoria and Albert museum (for free, thanks to Aisling‘s membership). I’d heard incredible things about the exhibition from those who had seen it at the Met in New York, and I was incredibly excited to go.

It did not disappoint. The exhibition was unbelievable – so well-curated and presented. Alexander McQueen was a visionary and his work speaks for itself, but the presentation of the exhibition was incredibly tasteful and atmospheric, lending itself to enhancing the garments without distracting from them.

No photos were allowed inside of the exhibition hall, but Aisling bought the accompanying book and I have some pictures to share from that, which I hope will help to capture the feeling and scope of the show.

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For someone who is incredibly interested in the creation of an aesthetic sense of self, I found the show absolutely inspiring. McQueen’s imagination seemingly had no limits, something that’s obvious when you wander through room after room of extravagant, wild, and ultimately beautiful clothing. I’m reminded of when my friend Ashley said that “looking at textures, patterns, and colors in runway clothing is a great source of inspiration; I like thinking about how to recreate a certain mood.” All the pieces displayed throughout the exhibition were indeed incredibly moody, and I think would lend themselves well to beauty inspiration.

Aside from the idea of translating clothing into makeup looks, there’s also the hair and makeup itself. The book is chock full of beauty inspiration, from the soft and ethereal to the almost grotesque. There’s something for everyone, makeup-wise. I often love runway makeup for the same reason I love haute couture collections: there is no constraint of “wearability”, which allows us access to some of the most unrestrained creativity and artistry on the planet.

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I love this graphic cut crease. I think it could be translated into a more wearable look!

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I love these overdrawn black lips with the center not filled in – there’s something so unexpected about the fleshy colour in the center of the harsh geometric black.

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Another very wearable look – a 60s-style modular cut crease.

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I adore the shiny blood-red lips that go far past the natural lip line. It’s so animalistic. This makeup is the definition of “savage beauty”. I love that idea that if makeup and femininity are so tied up in each other, this look is about femininity going out of bounds, refusing to adhere to expectations.

There was a piece in the book about the makeup of the Alexander McQueen runway shows, which I found fascinating. It read almost as a visual analysis that you’d find in an art history or film class, deconstructing the makeup choices, their symbolism, how they contributed to the collections they were a part of, and what these choices say about femininity.

The show was amazing in itself, but as someone who obviously has quite an interest in beauty, I found it particularly inspiring.

The show is on at the V&A Museum in London until August 2. Tickets cost £17.60 (free for V&A members) and can be booked online. If you have the chance to go, I heartily recommend it – you won’t regret it.