Summer 2015 Favourites

Posted on August 25, 2015 under Favourites

My summer vacation is winding to a close; in a week I’ll head back to Montreal to complete my degree. (That was a very casual statement, but internally I am freaking out that I only have two semesters left of my undergrad!) As such, this seems like as good a time as any to share some things I loved this summer. Here are a bunch of beauty favourites and a few non-beauty things I enjoyed.

summer-favourites-skincare

On the skincare side of things, I first must mention La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Fluid Lotion SPF 60, which has kept my pale, pale face free of burns all summer. A new discovery for me is Vichy’s Aqualia Thermal Serum, which I use a few times a week when my poor dry skin needs a little extra pep. Curiously, my face defied convention by being fine during the winter and a flaky, dry mess as soon as summer hit; this serum applied underneath my regular moisturizer gives my face a noticeable boost in moisture and eliminates the flaky patches around my nose and between my eyebrows.

summer-favourites-face

I forced myself to use up my bottle of ColorStay before moving back to Revlon Nearly Naked Liquid Makeup in 110 Ivory, and boy did I miss it! I love this foundation year-round, but it’s especially perfect for summer since it’s lightweight and dewy without looking greasy. (Yeah, like I need to look like I’m sweating more than I actually am!) It also doesn’t break the bank, which makes it perfect to go back to again and again.

summer-favourites-cheek

I was very into cheek products this summer, from Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Moonstone, which was the perfect intense yellow-toned highlight for my fair skin to my beloved Body Shop Honey Bronzer in Fair Matte, which is a beautiful natural bronzer for those of us who look like we don’t get much sun (but want to pretend we do).

Two blushes reigned victorious for me this summer: Milani Baked Blush in Luminoso and Hourlgass Ambient Lighting Blush in Luminous Flush, which I reached for a combined total of approximately seventy bazillion times throughout the warmer months. Luminoso actually took me a year to warm up to after I initially hauled it on a trip to upstate New York, mainly because I wasn’t sure about peaches on my complexion. I surprised myself by using it so often this summer, but it is the perfect easy, glowy, warm summer shade. As for Luminous Flush, I wore it for two weeks straight after I first got it, which is rare for me. I always switch up my makeup! The Hourglass blushes are so worth the money – they have the perfect amount of pigmentation, they’re a dream to apply and blend, and they last through 10+ hours (and lots of sweat). Luminous Flush in particular is a gorgeous warm pink that seems playful and carefree.

summer-favourites-cheek-swatches

Everyone loves swatches!

summer-favourites-eyeshadow

Two of my eyeshadow palettes got a lot of love this summer. I found myself wanting to put minimal effort into the eyes quite often, which called for my (well-loved) Urban Decay Naked Basics palette. When I wanted something a bit more complex, I could not get enough of everyone’s favourite neutral palette, the LORAC Pro. It has basically every colour a neutral lover could wish for! I used my MAC 217 eyeshadow brush, a birthday gift from my friend Hayley, constantly to blend everything beautifully. I don’t know if it’s quite worth the constant hype it receives, but I do see why it’s a staple in many a makeup bag. Are there solid, less expensive alternatives? Yes. Am I glad I have it? Hell yes!

summer-favourites-lips

Although I have a deep and abiding love for bold lipstick, this summer I loved quick, neutral looks. Rimmel’s Lasting Finish by Kate Moss in 08 was my go-to for this. The slightly brownish pink goes with everything, and I used it at least once a week – which is definitely saying something when you consider how many lip products I have!

Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Red Carpet Red is easily my holy grail true red through every season of the year. This summer it was my most-used bold lipstick, probably because it’s such a classic colour and the formula is truly a dream.

summer-favourites-nails

You guys probably know how obsessed I am with Sally Hansen’s Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear Nail Polish in Pacific Blue (more on that soon!). I will wear this nail polish year round, whenever I feel like it, but I especially like it in the summer. That electric blue is perfect for the weather and takes me back to my warm January weekend in Marrakech when I got to see bleu Majorelle in person. I’m still on the hunt for a replacement, though, as I still cannot get behind the new Pacific Blue that looks nothing like the old one.

summer-favourites-random

I had a few non-beauty favourites as well. H&M did me a solid with a gorgeous pair of high-waisted, tie-front black shorts that went with everything and instantly made a simple black tank top or a band t-shirt seem that much more deliberate.

summer-favourites-earrings

I got my ears pierced in Edinburgh in March and got to take my starter studs out in May. This summer I was very into stud earrings! I love the triangular prisms from H&M because they’re simple but a bit different, and the flowers were a gift from my brother’s girlfriend. The jury is out on whether they’re roses or tulips, though I’m hoping for roses since they’re my birth flower. (I have two roses tattooed on my body, so I’m pretty serious about the whole thing.)

In terms of entertainment, I’ve recently been very into novels written by women. (This year one of my goals was for 75% of the books I read to be by women, and so far I’m batting 1000!) I loved Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places (possibly more than Gone Girl?) for its twisted, fast-paced plot that never dragged. I’m about 3/4 of the way through Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah, and I can barely put it down. The writing is lush and provocative and the story has me hooked.

Finally, this summer I watched all 202 episodes of The X-Files (and both films) in a month and a day, which I personally consider quite an accomplishment. I also took about a month of from this blog back in June and July, which is no accident – I simply spent every spare moment getting sucked into Mulder and Scully’s world. They made me believe in love, okay?! I haven’t had the heart to dive into a new television series since I finished The X-Files over a month ago; it’s going to take me awhile to open my heart to something new.

And there we have it: everything I loved this summer. Here’s to a fantastic fall semester full of new discoveries, beauty-related and otherwise.

LORAC Behind the Scenes Eye Primer vs. NARS Pro-Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base

Posted on August 17, 2015 under Reviews

Despite Reddit’s more-than-fair-share of umitigated grossness, there are a handful of subreddits that I consistently frequent: /r/toronto and /r/montreal, to keep up-to-date with my cities, /r/declutter, for vicarious satisfaction and a super supportive community, and, of course, /r/makeupaddiction, for inspiration, news, reviews, and makeup chit-chat. A newer discovery is /r/makeupexchange, a marketplace for new or barely-used makeup.

Recently, someone in Ontario was selling their lightly swatched LORAC Pro palette for $35 – a steal in itself, irresistible when combined with the inexpensive (and quick) domestic shipping.

Tangent: I’ve actually barely had any interest in this palette despite the nearly unanimous glowing reviews. LORAC is essentially unavailable in Canada, and I told myself I didn’t need it because it’s just another neutral palette. The moment it was available, however, I realized that I had been holding onto a latent desire for it for awhile.

The seller shipped the palette with two bonuses: a sample of the NARS Copacabana liquid Illuminator, and a tube of the LORAC Behind the Scenes Eye Primer. Being perilously close to finishing my beloved NARS primer, I eagerly gave the LORAC a try. If it was as good as the eyeshadows, it would save me dropping a borderline exorbitant $31 on a new tube of the NARS.

It was not as good as the eyeshadows. Not even close. Actually, it pretty much sucks, at least on my eyeshadow-eating hooded eyelids of doom.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. Here we have LORAC Light Pink, Light Bronze, and Mauve over the LORAC Behind the Scenes primer. Top: Freshly applied, 3pm. Right: after work, 12:30am.

lorac-before-after

Excuse the terrible bathroom lighting. Natural light was long-gone by the time I got home from work!

Uh, yeah. What little eyeshadow hasn’t disappeared has creased like nobody’s business in those blasted eyelid wrinkles. This is much more prominent with the darker shadows; knowing I was using the primer for the sole purpose of photographing the disaster, I purposefully used light colours so I wouldn’t look like a mess at work. But trust me, I could have lived without my beautiful coppery eyeshadow being eaten by the crease in the middle of my mobile lid.

Now, you may be thinking that this is the fault of the shadows and not the primer. Without a control variable, we can’t make any meaningful conclusions. Given that the LORAC shadows are so soft, maybe they are simply prone to creasing.

In the interests of science, I applied the same shadows over the NARS Pro-Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base (phew, what a mouthful). Here is a comparison of post-application (3pm), my break (8pm), and just before makeup removal (12:30am):

NARS-before-after

Um… it’s definitely not just the shadows. To save you the work of scrolling back up to compare, LORAC on top, NARS on bottom:

NARS-vs-LORAC

I think these images tell you pretty much everything you need to know. However, I will add a word about the applicator. While more hygienic, I find the LORAC’s squeeze tube a bit hard to control. We all know that a thin layer of eye primer is ample, but sometimes the tube squirts out more than necessary. I find the NARS doefoot gives me much more control.

LORAC-texture

Top: how much product the tube squeezed out on me. That is enough for, like, three applications! Bottom: blended into the skin. It ends up being colourless on the eyelids, so is really a primer and not a base to even out the eyelids.

The NARS eye primer is more dependable than 90% of the people I know; I wouldn’t trust the LORAC one to buy me the right flavour of chips when running to the corner store for junk food. Honestly, it would probably take my money and run. Unsurprisingly, I have repurchased the NARS.

NARS-old-and-new

Friends old and new. Friends that get DISGUTINGLY DIRTY easily. But that’s a small price to pay for amazingness.

The NARS Pro-Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base retails for $31 CAD for 0.26oz ($119.23 per oz) at Sephora and NARS counters.

The LORAC Behind the Scenes Eye Primer retails for $21 for 0.53oz (a much more reasonable $39.62 per oz) on the LORAC website. Shipping within the US only.

My new favourite MLBB: Rimmel Lasting Finish by Kate Moss in 045 Rose Nude

Posted on August 11, 2015 under Reviews

I still haven’t quite discerned the difference between “my lips but better” and “nude”, although I tend to think of “nude” as more “concealer lips” and less “very natural lip colour”. Thus, I’m not sure if you could classify 045 from Rimmel’s new Kate Moss Nude Collection as “nude”, at least not on me – but it is my new favourite MLBB, as it most accurately matches the colour of my lips as compared to every other colour in my collection.

The Nude Collection comprises five shades, three of which I could tell just by swatching would be a disaster on me. (Oh, who am I kidding? All I had to do was look at the bullet of the lightest shade to know that it WOULD. NOT. WORK.) The darkest shade is a bit too brown for my personal tastes, but it would make a perfect true nude on darker skin. 045 Rose Nude, however, is the perfect shade for me.

When I first applied it I felt that it barely showed up on my lips – but upon swatching it on my arm I discovered that it was perfectly pigmented – it’s just that it’s that close to my actual lips. The lipstick has a tiny bit more of that brownish rose undertone, but I do feel that it could easily be mistaken for my natural lip colour.

rimmel-kate-045-lip-swatches

Some people don’t “get” the MLBB thing, and I’m certainly not one to normally choose colours in that family over my bolder lip colours – but they really are handy to have around. I feel that this colour helps to even out my lips and add a tiny bit of colour to my (admittedly unusually pale) complexion. It’s also great for no-makeup makeup occasions – for example, I wore it to get my photo taken for my American passport.

The Nudes collection is part of the regular Kate line, so they’re creamy, opaque, and not fully matte. The finish is perfect, in my opinion: anything too shiny or too matte wouldn’t look natural, thus defeating the point of wearing a nude. They feel comfortable and wear off fairly evenly. Like the original line, they’re not extraordinarily long-lasting, but they hold up to light-to-moderate food or beverage consumption.

rimmel-045-arm-swatches

Swatched (on the far left) next to some of my favourite neutral/MLBB lipsticks: Little Mix by Collection lipstick in Jade (darker, warmer) Rimmel Kate Moss 08 (darker and warmer still), Rimmel Kate Moss 017 (much pinker). Clearly I like my Rimmel neutrals!

My one (minor) complaint is that I don’t think the packaging is nice as the other Rimmel Kate lipsticks. None of them exactly scream “fancy”, but this shiny pale pink just doesn’t do it for me! I get the nude colour scheme, but I wish the plastic were matte like the others – the shininess seems so cheap. But as we all know, it’s what’s on the inside that counts, so I’ll probably get over it.

Overall, I’m really pleased with this lipstick. I’m (obviously) a huge fan of the Kate line; they’re my favourite drugstore lipsticks by far. The nude line is a great addition to the collection, and 045 in particular is a great addition to my collection.