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.

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.