Empties: September 2014-February 2015

Posted on February 20, 2015 under Empties

Who here loves empties? I love empties. I think I get a rush from seeing people use up products, because when you have a lot of things that can seem like an impossible task. It’s like vicarious satisfaction. Plus I like the sort of allowable voyeurism empties posts afford: it’s like digging through someone’s trash, except you’re invited to do it.

I have been hoarding empty products for months now (uh, since I moved to Glasgow in September), and I have finally gotten off my ass and photographed them all so that you can dig through my trash.

It’s cleaner than it sounds, I promise.

Products denoted with an *asterisk* are sample sizes.

Products in italics were received for free through work. All opinions are my own and the individual companies were not responsible for me acquiring these products. (I’m just not that important.)

Hair Stuff

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L’Oréal Elvive Smooth & Polish Perfecting Shampoo: I did not especially care for this shampoo. Despite its claims, I didn’t find it particularly moisturizing or smoothing. It was just a shampoo. I used it up because I didn’t hate it, but I would not repurchase.

John Frieda Sheer Blonde Colour Renew Tone Correcting Shampoo: This shampoo keeps my hair nice and blonde and doesn’t cost a bomb. It does a good job of cleaning my hair, and I feel like it’s fairly moisturizing. Thus, it does all three things I need it to do. My only complaint is that for someone with a lot of hair, one tube of this stuff gets used up scarily quickly. But I’ll keep buying it, probably. (I’m on my third or fourth tube, which is fairly high praise.)

Clean Scalp & Hair Therapy Total Care Shampoo*: I took this (and the conditioner, which I accidentally left in a hostel in Dublin) with me travelling. That is, essentially, the purpose it served: small enough to be packed in carry-on luggage for weekend jaunts around Europe. It did not blow me away otherwise, although, like the L’Oréal shampoo, I also didn’t hate it.

Aussie Miracle Moist Shampoo*: Now this is a travel-sized shampoo that I like. I buy one of these every time I’m at the airport, because it is really, really good. It’s super moisturizing and leaves my hair feeling silky and wonderful, even without my trusty hair mask (which doesn’t conform to carry-on liquid restrictions). Unfortunately, it smells like public bathroom hand soap mixed with an old woman, which I don’t love. But the price is right, and it does the trick, so it remains my go-to travel shampoo.

Batiste Dry Shampoo – Oriental: Despite the (dubious) name, this does not smell especially strongly of anything to me, which is fine. I don’t need my dry shampoo to smell magical. I just need it to soak up the oil in my hair when I’ve been a lazy ass. I’ll probably just sick to the classic Batiste scent from now on, but this worked just as well.

L’Oréal Elvive Colour Protect Mask: Y’all know I swear by this mask.

L’Oréal Préférence Brass Defy Conditioner: This is such a good toner! It’s super effective and doesn’t leave a purple stain if you leave it in for, like, a minute longer than the recommended time, which so many toners do. The major downside to this one is that you can’t buy it separately – it comes with boxed bleach, and I prefer to mix my own bleach. Alas.

Skincare

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The Body Shop Vitamin E Illuminating Moisture Cream: I hated the “illuminating” part of this moisturizer, and admittedly it’s my fault for buying it despite the name, but, like, WHY WOULD THE BODY SHOP MAKE THIS? This is not the kind of subtle glow that means you look like an ethereal goddess even without any base makeup on. This is weird shimmer all over your face, which is fine if you live inside of a disco ball, but not fine if you live on planet Earth. I also didn’t find the moisturizer particularly great, but it is billed as “for all skin types” and I really should only be using products specifically aimed at dry skin.

The Body Shop Vitamin E Hydrating Toner: I like this particular toner because it does precisely what it says on the tin (er, plastic bottle). I use it before moisturizer every single day, and I have noticed that my skin feels a lot better moisturized, for longer, since I’ve started using it. When I was in Canada over winter break (where Body Shop products are cheaper), I picked up a backup, which I have happily begun using ever since I ran out of the first bottle.

The Body Shop Coconut Body Butter: I’m a rather passionate advocate for body butter, and I always stock up on them when The Body Shop has a 3 for $30 sale. I’ve tried various scents, but this one is my favourite by far. It’s the thickest consistency of body butter I’ve tried, which makes it less slippery and messy, and the coconut oil does wonders for my dry, keratosis pilaris-plagued skin. Also, it makes me smell delicious. Next time there’s a 3 for $30 sale I might just buy 3 of these.

StriVection Present Perfect Antioxidant Defense Lotion*: This is a moisturizer. It is billed as a lotion that prevents aging before it starts, and I don’t know if that’s true or not because I’m only twenty and have not been using it long enough to know if it makes any difference. I have a million of these little samples thanks to a very generous StriVectin rep I used to work with occasionally, and I use them when I’m travelling. They are fine. They are moisturizers. The full size is $60, which is actually incredibly inexpensive for StriVectin. I will not be purchasing it.

Lancôme Bi-Facil Double Action Eye Makeup Remover*: You know when you get a free sample of a really expensive product and you’re like, God, I hope I hate this so I don’t have to buy the full size, and then it’s the most magical product in the world and you’re like, Dammit, now I have to spend $36 on an eye makeup remover! Yeah. This is that. I thought micellar water was pretty damn good at removing eye makeup, but it is NOTHING compared to this magical shit. Fuck you, Lancôme. Just take my money.

Makeup

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Maybelline Mega Plush Volum’Express Waterproof Mascara: I did not care for this mascara, and I am rather easy to impress when it comes to such things. My lashes are naturally pretty long and thick, so it doesn’t take much for me to at least like a mascara. This one made them quite lackluster, and didn’t hold a curl well. Boo.

Maybelline Illegal Length Fiber Extensions Mascara*: Conversely, I have very strong feelings of love for this mascara. It lengthens admirably without ever clumping. It holds a curl well. It doesn’t smudge. I got three of them for free through work and I will be eagerly using up the other two.

No 7 Extreme Length Extend Mascara*: This mascara was okay. Despite the name, it didn’t do anything extreme to my lashes, but it’s a solid everyday option for those who like something a bit more subtle.

Lancôme Hypnôse Doll Lashes Mascara*: I loved this one! My lashes looked fluttery and voluminous with it. I’d totally buy the full size if I weren’t strictly morally opposed to ever spending more than $10 on mascara when a) the drugstore has so many awesome options, and b) you can get free samples of the fancy shit very easily.

Make Up For Ever Smoky Extravagant Mascara*: I liked this one too, and thanks to my mascara-sensitive mother donating her Sephora birthday gift to me, I have a backup. This is lengthening, voluminous, and slightly prone to clumping if you’re not careful. It’s great for dramatic looks, or just for when you want your lashes to look truly top-notch in every dimension.

ELF Wet Gloss Lash & Brow Clear Mascara: This was sent to me by my lovely friend Liz in a makeup swap, and it makes a great brow gel. I used both sides for my brows since my eyelashes scoff at the idea of clear mascara (or, indeed, any mascara that isn’t jet black) and didn’t notice any differences in formula. It held my eyebrows in place, and that is all I ask of a brow gel. If you want a good brow gel and you’re on a budget, I highly recommend this one.

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner: Normally a story beginning with “I was in Brussels” would be happy, but what if that story is “I was in Brussels and accidentally destroyed a $26 eyeliner that I had just opened”? Yeah. True story. Tragic story. Of course, I promptly purchased another one, because this is my holy grail eyeliner.

Benefit They’re Real! Push-Up Liner*: I hate this eyeliner. Hate. DESPISE, even. It is evil. It simultaneously transfers on my eyelid and then refuses to come off. It can be used in the waterline, or to tightline, with reasonably okay results, but I find the applicator rather unwieldy to use. Dare I call this a gimmick? Yes, I do: it’s a gimmick. I’ll stick to gel liner with a brush, thanks. It must be noted that I also passionately despise the They’re Real! mascara, and thus must go on the record as being vehemently opposed to the They’re Real! line.

Revlon Nearly Naked Makeup in 110 Ivory: I’ve talked about this foundation before; I love it. This was my second bottle, and if it weren’t for Shoppers Drug Mart thwarting me and being out of my shade, I’d be well into my third bottle right now. (I suppose I could go to Superdrug and purchase it, but things are always more expensive in the UK and I’m stubborn.) When I make my triumphant return to Canada in April, I will be picking up another bottle of this. It’s a wonderful foundation, and it’s super budget-friendly. That’s a win, in my books.

L’Oréal La Touche Magique Highlighting Concealer in Rose Beige: I love this concealer and I bought another one as soon as I ran out. The fact that it covers my very dark, very present undereye circles so well and never creases makes me love science.

OCC Lip Tar in Hush*: I bought some Lip Tar samples from an online vendor for my friend Cheyne’s birthday last February. (It’s her birthday tomorrow! Happy birthday, Cheyne!) The vendor threw in this nearly used-up tube of Hush for free, and I kept it for myself because I’m a jerk like that. It took me until two weeks ago (so, almost an entire year) to try it on. It is not my colour; peachy nudes never are. It is also now empty, so I can finally throw out this used-up tube of Lip Tar that I have been hoarding for a year, which I even brought across the Atlantic Ocean with me like a total ding-dong.

And there you have it, my friends: 23 items from my trash, circa September to now. I hope it has been enlightening.

Two Taylor Swift-inspired makeup looks (that you’re not expecting)

Posted on February 17, 2015 under FOTD

If I never see another winged eyeliner and red lipstick Taylor Swift makeup tutorial again, it will be too damn soon. It’s not that I don’t like the look, on her and in general; it’s a classic for a reason. But the beauty blogging and vlogging world does not need seventeen thousand identical tutorials! (See also: any and all Kardashian Kontouring tutorials.)

This is especially true when you consider that in her eight-year career, Taylor has worn a variety of interesting, pretty makeup looks that most people ignore. She’s one of those celebrities who, in my book, always looks good, and that includes her makeup. She has been settling on more of a makeup uniform in the past year or so, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take a little inspiration from some of her most excellent past looks!

For both of these looks, I started by perfecting my base: I filled in my eyebrows with my trusty Maybelline Colour Tattoo in Tough As Taupe, and on my face I used Revlon ColorStay foundation in 110 Ivory, MAC Studio Finish concealer in NC15, and L’Oréal La Touche Magique Highlighting Concealer in Rose Beige.

Look One: Bronze smokey eyes and light pink lips

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Taylor wore this look to the People’s Choice Awards in 2013.

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I started by using Stila’s eyeshadow in Sunset, a shimmery copper found in the In the Light palette, all over my eyelid. I brought the shadow up fairly high, since Taylor’s goes nearly to her brows in this picture.

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Next, I used Stila Sandstone, a matte brown found in the same palette, on the outer third of the lid and a bit in the crease. This picture is pre-blended, of course; never fear!

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And here it is blended properly. I ended up adding more of both Sunset and Sandstone after blending the first time, to darken the colours and to really layer them up to get the same effect as Taylor. I also added a bit of Sunset under the first half or so of my lower lashline.

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To finish of the eyes, I lined my upper lashline and waterline with black gel liner and applied several coats of MUFE Smoky Extravagant mascara on the top and bottom lashes. I’m pretty sure Taylor was wearing false lashes as well (or else her lashes are just crazy long!), but I didn’t want to go through the hassle of applying them.

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To complete the look, I added some peachy blush (theBalm FratBoy), a light pink lipstick (Rimmel Lasting Finish by Kate Moss in #17), and a matte white highlight under my eyes, on the tip of my nose, and in the cupid’s bow. Taylor’s lips had a brown undertone, but this pinker lipstick suits my complexion better, which is why I chose it. I figure it’s all about the nude look, not about using the exact same colour. And there we have it: smokey bronze eyes and light pink lips, à la Taylor Swift at the 2013 PCAs.

This look ended up being a bit more on the copper side (rather than bronze), but I still really like it. Next time I’d use the Maybelline Colour Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze as a base to stay more faithful to the makeup Taylor wore.

Look two: Blue on the eyes, coral on the lips

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Taylor’s 2014 Country Music Awards look is THE BEST THING SHE HAS EVER DONE TO HER FACE. I love it so much! I took some liberties with it here, making it a bit more dramatic and confining the blue to the lower lashline, but I recreated it more accurately this summer, and even curled my hair to match:

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Anyway, let’s get on to how I interpreted it this time around.

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I used my trusty Stila palette yet again, using Bare, a matte off-white, as a base. I then mixed two matte Sleek shadows, Thunder and Noir, respectively a medium grey and a black, and used that to define an angled corner on the outside of each eye.

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Here it is blended. It’s meant to be quite subtle, since the rest of the look is fairly dramatic.

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Eyeliner! This is probably where I took the most liberties; though I suspect Taylor’s soft, short flick was made with eyeshadow, I made mine a lot thicker and longer and used gel liner. My hooded eyelids tend to swallow winged liner, so I had to make it bigger so it would show up properly. I used the Real Techniques Eyeliner Brush for this, and used their Silicone Liner Brush in my waterline.

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As I mentioned, I only used blue on my lower lashline, although Taylor had some on both the upper and lower. I thought my eyelid was already heavy enough! This blue is Infinitely Indigo by Lancôme, which I applied using the ELF Small Smudge Brush. I also brought some up under the wing.

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I kept the same cheek colour for this look. Taylor also seemed to have more of a glow here, so I used my beloved Topshop Glow Highlighter in Polished on the tops of my cheekbones. On the lips, I used Revlon’s Balm Stain in Romantic, a sheer warm red, with Lancôme’s Fever Gloss in 100 Degrees on top. I love this combination on the lips, and I think it complements the blue beautifully. As you can see, I didn’t have it in me to curl my hair this time – sorry!

This is definitely more dramatic than the source look, but I think it’s nice like both this and with my more delicate initial interpretation.

And if you need any more convincing that there is more to Swiftian makeup than matte true-red lips and winged liner, well…

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Review: L’Oréal Color Radiance Protecting Mask / Elvive Colour Protect

Posted on February 14, 2015 under Reviews

You won’t find me denying that my blonde is 100% fake. For one thing, it wouldn’t be a very convincing argument, considering my particular hue and my near-constant roots, but I also just don’t believe in that type of coy pretense. There’s nothing wrong with altering your appearance, and not all of us are born with what we want.

You may imagine that, after enough bleach applications to take my hair from a stubbornly persistent medium brown to a near-platinum, it’s pretty damaged. And I suppose it is, if you don’t take into account what I do to care for it. But the fact is that my hair in all its bleached glory feels much smoother, softer, and healthier than it did pre-bleach.

Even as I started getting into makeup, I was ignorant about how to care for my hair. I used a clarifying shampoo every wash (shudder!), and my habit of blowing my hair dry most days left it frizzy, full of split-ends, and overall thirsty and sad. (“Thirsty and sad” is a good descriptor of a lot of people, incidentally.)

Then I dyed my hair hot pink, over a bleached base, and it became imperative to actually take care of my hair. I bought the L’Oréal Color Radiance Protecting Mask (called Elvive Colour Protect in the UK) for two reasons: to keep the colour in my hair for as long as possible, and to keep it feeling and looking healthy despite being systematically destroyed with bleach.

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I added cute things to this picture – am I a real blogger now?

When I went blonde in April, I put my Color Radiance products away since I was using purple shampoo and conditioner to maintain my hair colour. But let me tell you a (potentially obvious) fact: regular conditioner just does not cut it when it comes to hair that has been bleached eight times.

I pulled out the Color Radiance mask in June, and within two washes my hair felt alive, even though it was objectively more dead than it had been in my entire life. I’ve been using it faithfully since then, every single time I wash my hair, and my bleach-destroyed hair is paradoxically in the best shape of its life.

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Because this shit is magical. Seriously, I think there is some sorcery involved in how damn good it is. I brush my hair infrequently because I have wavy hair and brushing it messes up the texture. Sometimes, it can get quite tangled in the back. But when I rinse this mask out of my hair, I can always run my fingers straight through it, no detangling efforts required. It’s soft, it’s smooth, and I have no frizz or split ends. (That also has something to do with the fact that I stopped using heat on my hair, of course.)

The texture of this product is of medium thickness, and can be best described using the very technical term “goopy”. I usually use my middle three fingers to scoop some out of the tub, which is enough to cover my hair. You don’t want too much of it; a little goes a long way! If your hair isn’t super damaged then I’d just apply this to the ends, but I need to cover my hair root to tip because it gets crunchy and dry all over otherwise. The texture thins out a bit about halfway through the tub, but this isn’t a con to me – it still works just as effectively.

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So, basically, if you have damaged or dry hair, whether it’s coloured or not, you need this stuff in your life. It’s cheap, a tub lasts forever, and it works. I’m on my third tub, and I will continue buying it until the universe blesses us with something that is somehow even better.

L’Oréal Color Radiance Protecting Mask / Elvive Colour Protect retails for about $8 CAD or £5 for 300mL (10.6 fl oz), making it $0.026 CAD per mL ($0.75 per fl oz) or £0.17 per mL (£0.047 per fl oz), and can be found at any drugstore/pharmacy.