Makeup Interview: Aisling

Posted on March 02, 2015 under Interview

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the second installment in my makeup interview series! Today I’m talking to my friend Aisling, who over the years has been my own personal makeup fairy (more on that in the interview)! Aisling (pronounced “Ashleen”) is a Brighton-based web designer originally from Calgary. She loves theatre, history, and cooking, and you can read all about her adventures on her blog, Aisybee.

1. How would you describe your style of makeup?

I would say it is quite “classic.” Maybe a step or two above “natural.” It’s not about being flashy for me, and I definitely have a “comfort zone” that I stay within. I mainly wear makeup to enhance and make myself feel a bit cuter!

2. Describe a makeup look that you would consider “classic” you.

I like a matte base (not dry though!), although I barely wear foundation or anything on my skin. I cannot go out without darkening my eyebrows — it is my one main weakness! For my eyes, I usually go with a lightening base, and a darker crease colour (I’m really into golds and bronzes lately), with black liquid eyeliner. I keep my blush fairly natural. I can take or leave lips, really. I will wear lip colour when going out, but I don’t wear it to work or anything.


Base is MAC Studio Fix Powder Foundation in C3.5, Eyebrows is Body Shop Eyeshadow in Coconuts About You, Eyelids are Urban Decay Walk of Shame and MAC Woodwinked EVEN THOUGH YOU CANNOT SEE IT DUMB EYELIDS, Mascara is No7 Stay Perfect Long-lasting Volume Mascara in Black, Eyeliner is Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner in Intense Black, Blush is Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-hour Blush in Exposed, Lips are No7 Precision Lips Pencil in Nude.

3. What is the most recent product that you bought? What’s your most recent makeup discovery that you’re excited about?

I’m supposed to be on a no spend because I spend way too much on makeup that I don’t use! But, recently, I picked up a L’Oreal eyeshadow in the shade “Lumiere 500,” which is a warm gold, and it is so gorgeous. It’s totally worth it, as it’s quickly becoming a staple.

I’ve been getting into idea of holding on to products that I love, which means I have been buying less to experiment. But I recently picked up the Real Techniques Bold Metals contour brush, and I love it.

4. What are your 3 holy grail products?

Like I said, I do not go anywhere without my eyebrows! Two Christmases ago, I was a lot more boring with makeup and was firmly in my “matte neutral eyeshadow” phase, so you got me the Body Shop matte eyeshadow in Coconuts About You. I don’t know what drove me to try it as an eyebrow colour one day, but I did, and now it is easily my most used product.

Next up is the No. 7 Stay Perfect mascara. I have awful eyes. They’re blinky and watery and just a nightmare. So, I’ve never been able to use a mascara without it racooning nearly instantly. This mascara is a tubing mascara, so it basically wraps your eyelashes in… plasticky mascara. It sounds weird, but it never smudges, so basically it is a life saver!

And, obviously, my favourite black liquid eyeliner is the Stila Stay All Day. Nothing else works for me (again, picky eyes!). My life would be much worse without it.

5. What product do you think is worth the high price tag, and what product that you can find at the drugstore do you think is awesome?

The NARS eyeshadow primer, for sure for higher price tag. It’s brilliant.

For drugstore you cannot beat a good Sleek eyeshadow palette. Seriously. I’ve given away most of my higher end shadow palettes because they did not do the trick, whereas Sleek hits the mark every time. They also allow me to experiment more without breaking the bank. I have the Vintage Romance and Garden of Eden palettes and I love them.


Left to right: Maybelline Expertwear Blush in Flash Plum (bottom), L’Oreal Colour Riche Gel-infused Eyeshadow in Lumiere 500 (top), Rimmel Provocalips in Kiss Fatal, Sleek iDivine Eyeshadow Palette in Vintage Romance, Collection Little Mix Lipstick in Jade, Sleek iDivine Eyeshadow Palette in Garden of Eden.

6. About how long does your normal makeup routine take? What does it consist of? Do you do anything else while you do your makeup, like drink your morning coffee or watch TV?

My pre-work routine probably clocks in at about 15 minutes. I don’t do anything particularly fancy, but I do take my time a bit because it’s relaxing. I usually moisturize, maybe brush on some Mac Studio Fix Powder if my cheeks are a bit redder than I would like. Then I put on eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara and fill my eyebrows. Then a bit of blush and I am good to go!

I will often put on a show or some music, but sometimes I just kind of sit in silence. Zen. Inner peace.


Clockwise from top left: MAC Studio Fix Powder Foundation in C2, Body Shop Eyeshadow in Coconuts About You, MAC Eyeshadow in Woodwinked, No7 Stay Perfect Long-lasting Volume Mascara in Black, Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner in Intense Black, No7 Precision Lips Pencil in Nude, MAC Eyeshadow in Brule, Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-hour Blush in Exposed.

7. Where do you get makeup inspiration from? Are there any websites or YouTube channels you visit regularly? Any celebrities whose makeup you might draw inspiration from?

I follow Charlotte Hayward on social media. She does makeup for Emma Watson and I love her work. Other than that, my style is fairly simple, so I don’t need much in terms of “inspiration.” When I do branch out, it’s often something I’ve seen you post on Tumblr and have decided to give a go.

8. Do you feel that your makeup helps to convey your personality, or is a way in which you can visually and aesthetically construct a sense of self? What are you trying to convey through your makeup, if anything?

I wouldn’t say it has too much of an effect on me, actually. I like makeup, but I also am okay going without it. I often roll into work without a stitch on (other than my eyebrows… how many times can I stress this?). I definitely feel a bit cuter when I put in “effort” whether that be through makeup or by wearing a cute outfit, so I suppose it boosts my confidence a bit.

9. What is it that you like best about makeup?

I love discussing it with my friends, because it is such a personal thing and I think it can help tell a lot about a person. I love comparing products and perhaps being able to help a friend with a recommendation. I love seeing the people in my life feel more confident in themselves. I think spending a lot of time staring at your own face and getting to know yourself is a great thing. Women are shamed for “vanity” and are taught to reflect compliments, so I think the act of brazenly staring yourself in the face is so liberating and important.

10. Why do you wear makeup?

Again, it’s about feeling cute and making an effort for me. I like to look put together, so when I have the time and energy to do so, I’m totally on board! I definitely don’t do anything that would be considered “transforming” or even particularly expressive. I am just attracted to traditionally “feminine” things, I suppose.

11. When did you first start wearing makeup regularly? When did it become an interest for you, i.e. something you actively wanted to talk about, read about, etc?

I’m unsure if I would qualify as wearing it “regularly” now, because I am so sporadic, and it really depends on my mood. But I’ve been collecting makeup for about 5 years. I think after I first discovered the Stila Stay All Day Eyeliner in 2012 or 2013 I kind of started getting into it a bit more.

12. I have personally benefited from your pickiness when it comes to makeup; you’ve passed a lot of stuff onto me, including plenty of high-end products. How do you decide what to keep? What types of products are you most likely to buy, and what types of products do you think you’re most discerning about? And what are some products that you had high hopes for but that ultimately disappointed you?

For me, I love makeup, but I want it to be very stress free and easy. I like to try new things, but I also like to be confident in my choices, so if I don’t like something I get rid of it. Basically my ideal is to be able to go to my collection of carefully curated products that I know I LOVE and be able to throw whatever on my face and leave feeling adorable and confident.

Most of my splurges are on products like powders and blushes, because I can feel fairly confident that they will work for me without needing to try them very much. I’m less likely to buy a lip product simply because I am not a huge fan of them in general. There are standouts, of course.


Hourglass Ambient Blush Palette (back), Hourglass Ambient Powder Palette (front).

My main downfall is that, despite being a designer, I can often misjudge colour. And I suppose sometimes I want to own a hyped product simply because of the hype. I wouldn’t say I’ve ever been disappointed by the quality of a higher end product. For example, the Naked 3 palette and the Hourglass blush which both live with you now… both were great quality, but the colours were wrong for me. But I’m glad that I took the risk and tried new things and branched out a bit, despite the products not working for me. It’s nice to experiment. And I love that I can pass some of these things on to people it will work for. You saw the struggle I went through before handing my Naked 3 palette over to you, but I’ve never regretted it since, because it made you so happy and you will benefit from it in a way I never would have. So, I got to try a product I wanted to try, and it didn’t work out, but it still gets to be enjoyed by someone who will love it and… I really love that aspect of makeup.

13. I know that you tend to favour higher end brands and like a good splurge now and then. Let us live vicariously through you: what are some luxury products that you could not live without?

Yes, yes, I do have my special high-end favourites.

I always talk about my Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution lipstick in Walk of Shame, and I am such a bad influence since I basically made you buy one as well, but I really love it. And for me to love a lip product, that is a very big deal. But it almost seems like it was made for me. It’s a fairly neutral red in a matte finish with amazing packaging. It appeals to me on every level!

Less talked about is the combo of my new RT Bold Metals contour brush and the Kevyn Aucoin sculpting powder. I live in this strange land where I am quite pale but also warm toned, and I also prefer powder products on my face over cream ones, so it took me forever to find a contour that would work for me. I love this bad boy though. I don’t contour very often, so this is for special occasions only!

I have both the Hourglass Ambient Lighting and Ambient Blush palettes and I truly adore them. It’s nice to be able to try 3 different shades of each product and they’re all beautiful, and always surprising. I had a full sized Ambient Blush previously (as you know since you now own it!) but it pulled too red (and my cheeks already suffer from quite a bit of redness, especially in winter) so it was not great, even with a stippling brush and a light hand. So, I decided to get the blush palette, even though I was a bit iffy about the peachy colour… well, joke’s on me because the peachy colour is by far my favourite!

One of my biggest indulgences is buying a tub of Lush’s Gorgeous moisturizer each winter. I have chronically dry skin, so I use their Ultrabland cleanser year round but in the winter I need a little extra, and nothing I’ve tried compares to Gorgeous. It is very expensive, but it does last most of the year for me and I think it is worth every penny.


Left to right: Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder Palette, Charlotte Tillbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Walk of Shame, Lush Gorgeous Facial Moisturizer, Real Techniques Bold Metals Contour Brush, Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder in Medium.

14. You’re a very social person, a classic extravert, and you enjoy makeup. Do these things ever intersect? How do you feel about makeup as a tool to facilitate bonding? Obviously there is the beauty blogging/vlogging community, but what about in the corporeal world?

I love talking about makeup with people, so yes, I will pipe up and talk or offer a suggestion when I encounter other people. I’ve started going to more blogging events, so it is kind of crossing over into the real world, since a lot of women blog about makeup, although I do not. But yeah, I think it’s like any hobby. I will obviously bond with people who share my interests, whether it be design, photography, baking… it’s all just another form of creation and expression and I love it!

Thank you so much for your thoughts (and beautiful pictures), Aisling!

Makeup Interview: Ashley

Posted on February 24, 2015 under Interview

Hi, everyone! Today I’m introducing a new series. Semi-regularly, I’ll be publishing an interview with someone about their makeup habits and style and favourite products.

There is a mixture of lighter, fluffier questions, and ones that are designed to be a bit more thought-provoking. I love hearing about people’s routines and products, but I am also intensely interested in what makeup means to people, their experiences, and their sense of self.

The first interviewee is my friend Ashley, a user experience designer and artist living and working in Boston. She artblogs and has links to her work at

Also, as a note of housekeeping, I will be in Ireland from Wednesday to Saturday so this will be the only post this week.

Now, on to the interview!

How would you describe your style of makeup?
I like classical conventions, and then I like to goose them. I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy looking slightly like a doll. Is that cute or is it unsettling? Is it both? I DON’T KNOW.

Why do you wear makeup? What is it that you like best about makeup? Do you feel that your makeup helps to convey your personality, or is a way in which you can visually and aesthetically construct a sense of self?
That makeup is a way I can visually and aesthetically construct a sense of self is exactly why I wear it and love it. Aside from the general artistry of it, it’s an important daily ritual for me. I have anxiety disorders and dysthymia, which have a tendency to bounce off each other and make one another flare up, and as a consequence I frequently experience dissociation. For me it manifests as a sense that I’m somewhat separate from my body, or that I don’t fit inside of it. Putting on makeup, studying and touching my face, is a way to say “hey, look, you’re here! and also you look fantastic!” and helps me feel more like I fit my edges.

(I want to put a quick disclaimer here that dissociation functions on a continuum and, like most symptoms of mental illnesses, is different for every person that experiences it ­ my own symptoms are on the lower end of the spectrum.)

I’m trying to think of how to phrase this without it being cheesy, but it’s probably impossible so let’s just go with it ­- not that I don’t like how I look on my own, but using makeup gives me the sense that I’m more accurately reflecting an inner vibrant and imaginative self. I think my style of application is in tune with my personality and the sense of myself I want to convey, and coupled with its ritual sense of grounding it makes me feel as if I’m presenting a nice complete picture to the world when I leave the house in the morning.

Describe a makeup look that you would consider “classic” you.
Smooth, shiny texture ­ leaning towards porcelain. Lightly contoured cheeks, lips with some shine, heavily emphasized lashes, and use of pinks and reds throughout.


On her eyes, Ashley used Urban Decay’s Vice 3 palette: Last Sin on the full lid up to the browbone; Bobby Dazzle as a browbone highlight; Alien on the lid; Alchemy in the crease; Bondage on the outer corner. She also used Tarte Amazonian Clay 12­Hour Blush in Dazzled, Revlon ColorStay Lip Liner in Pink, and Revlon ColorBurst Balm Stain in Lovesick.

When did you first start wearing makeup regularly? When did it become an interest for you, i.e. something you actively wanted to talk about, read about, etc?
I started wearing makeup regularly about six, sevenish years ago, going into my first year of college. A lot of it was me being a complete twerp. I was part of a dorm group of art students, and we had a tendency to want to REMIND YOU CONSTANTLY and VERY LOUDLY that they are ART STUDENTS!! AND ARE VERY DIFFERENT FROM EVERYONE ELSE HAHA WE’RE SO RANDOM!! I’d wear like, hot pink and lime green eyeshadow without blending any of it and draw stars on the tops of my cheeks with liquid liner, and “cat eyes” that were so thick and poorly executed that they took up my entire lid. Obviously, people should do what they want, but I was totally doing it to get people to look at me weird, so I could be like “HAHA EVERYONE THINKS WE ARE SO WEIRD!” I toned it down around my junior year and usually just stuck to eyeliner, although I added lipstick occasionally after dumping this guy who I’d dated who hated lipstick.

In about the last year and a half is when it’s become a proper hobby for me, as far as experimenting with products, developing my technique, and learning about it not just on an application basis but on a sociopolitical basis as well. I love discussing makeup politics and the development of personal aesthetics.

(It’s also been in the last year and a half that I’ve actually started liking wearing lipstick.)

What is the most recent product that you bought? What’s your most recent makeup discovery that you’re excited about?

I think the most recent product I bought was the Tarte Amazonian Clay blush in Dazzled, but that was a few months ago so… don’t hold me to that. I LOVE Dazzled. It’s shimmery in the palette so it looks like it’s going to look goofy on your face, but it has this beautiful translucency and is my absolute favorite color to contour with. I’ve recently worked on my blush and highlighter blending technique and that’s been my favorite addition to my routine in probably ever. It results in such a fun glowy, blurry look that I can play up or down depending on the blush color and the amount of highlighter I use.


For this look, Ashley used eyeshadows from two Urban Decay palettes. From Ammo she used Maui Wowie on the full lid up to the browbone and Polyester Bride as a browbone highlight; from Naked she used Half Baked on the outer half of the lid and Smog in the crease. She also used Tarte Amazonian Clay 12­Hour Blush in Dazzled, Revlon ColorStay Lip Liner in Pink, and Revlon ColorBurst Lacquer Balm in Whimsical.

What are your 3 holy grail products?
This is actually super difficult! While my makeup collection is probably more extensive than the average makeup user, I’m very much a product minimalist (except for lipstick… but even then, I could be worse), and have spent a lot of time and research finding just the right product for me in each category. So there’s really nothing I have that I wouldn’t consider holy grail! But picking based on what I find most intrinsic to my look and the most fun to use, I would say the Urban Decay Vice 3 palette, Benefit High Beam, and the Urban Decay Subversion / Perversion primer / mascara combo.

(That’s technically four products I cheated but you can totally buy Subversion and Perversion together in a single box SO)

What product do you think is worth the high price tag, and what product that you can find at the drugstore do you think is awesome?
The Urban Decay Vice 3 palette is probably the best investment I have made in my lifetime. That is only sort of hyperbole. I also think Tarte’s blushes are well worth their cost.

Most people, including me really, would say that if you’re going to splurge on one thing, it should be your base makeup, since that’s something you’re going to be using all the time. But I’m totally in love with Almay’s CC cream. It’s 35 SPF, and I’m a big proponent of the fact that daily SPF is critical. The CC cream lets me do makeup and sunblock in one step (remember kids, if your makeup has SPF, it has to be a full even coat over your face or the SPF doesn’t count!). I also love Maybelline’s FitMe concealer. And REVLON LIP PRODUCTS, forever and ever, especially the balm stains and lacquer balms. I have them in daily rotation. Honestly, I own a few higher-­end lipsticks from MAC and Kat Von D that I really do love, but 99 times out of 100 I’m wearing a Revlon balm. The color payoff is gorgeous and honestly their staying power is second to none. Paired with lipliner, they regularly survive tacos without needing touchups. I will sing their praises forever.

About how long does your normal makeup routine take? Do you do anything else while you do your makeup, like drink your morning coffee or watch TV?
I’ve never timed it without also doing my hair, which takes a bit because I like to braid and I’m clumsy ­- but all told I think it takes me about 30­-40 minutes to do my preferred full­-face routine.

I always listen to a favorite album while I do my makeup. For the past few months, it’s been either Taylor Swift’s 1989 or In This Moment’s Black Widow. Obviously they’re on complete opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of genre and the way I’m feeling on a given day will influence which of the two I’ll pick, but both Taylor and ITM’s frontwoman Maria Brink are idols of mine, both in aesthetics and as great people. They are both unapologetically feminine, seek to own their art, and vocally lift up other women; they’ve also got some of the best fan engagement I’ve ever seen and you can just feel the love pouring out of both of them when they interact with their audiences.

Maria is also open about her experiences with mental illness and uses them as themes in her work. My absolute favorite track of hers right now is Big Bad Wolf, which takes the view of the little pig being the ugly illnesses that try to own her and the big bad wolf being her strong, unchainable side. It touches on themes of personal power and becoming the animal you choose to feed and is very important to me ­ sometimes I just leave it on repeat by itself while I’m getting ready, and then I’m subsequently ready to squish the world under my heel. Or rude commuters on the subway, either or.

Whichever one I listen to tends to subtly influence how my makeup looks that day. Based on the singles I’ve heard so far, I think Marina and the Diamonds’ upcoming Froot is going to be entering the rotation too, so I’m looking forward to seeing what colorful looks I can get out of that!


From Urban Decay’s Naked Palette, Ashley used Virgin on the full lid up to the browbone and Half Baked on the crease and outer half of the lid; from Vice 3 she used Dragon on the outer corner and outer crease. She also used Tarte Amazonian Clay 12­Hour Blush in Blissful, Revlon ColorStay Lip Liner in Pink, and Revlon ColorBurst Lacquer Balm in Coquette.

You have a background in theatre, which typically utilizes much more dramatic and heavy makeup in order to make features visible from far away. Do you think this has had any impact on how you do your makeup today ­- for instance, does that sort of theatricality of colour have anything to do with your experience with theatre?
Absolutely ­- it’s funny because none of the characters I’ve played have involved particularly crazy colors themselves (or well, nothing beyond the oompa loompa foundation and the blue shadow), but the people I’ve played alongside, the experience of creating a beautiful set, are definitely influences. Getting into your character for your first full dress rehearsal is one of the best parts of being involved in a production, and I think that sense also relates to how I like to think of makeup.

Where do you get makeup inspiration from? Are there any websites or YouTube channels you visit regularly? Any celebrities whose makeup your might draw inspiration from?
I actually don’t watch tutorials or visit beauty blogs or similar all that often. I mostly look to the high fashion industry ­ lots and lots of runway and editorial looks. I like to look at color combinations and techniques and think about ways I can translate them into something more “wearable.” Aside from looking at actual faces, 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.

I also take a lot of inspiration from the visuals of fairy tales and fantasy stories. Honestly, some mornings I feel like I’m trying to will myself into an elf. Like, use half my bottle of High Beam and channel Galadriel all day. But there’s multiple parts of the spectrum I love and subsequently pull ideas from. There’s the delicate and classic types from Victorian era fairy tales, there’s your Tolkien creatures, and your Fair Folk from Gaelic folklore. The Fair Folk are mischievous and incredibly dangerous, often malicious. Contrary to popular depictions of fairies, I see the Fair Folk as eschewing gender norms and traditional aesthetics and embodying wild combinations of color and texture.


For Ashley’s Halloween look, she used shadows from the Naked palette: Virgin on the full lid up to the brow bone, Sin on the outer half of her lid, Toasted in the crease, and Hustle on the outer corner. She also used Benefit High Beam blended with Almay CC cream, applied all over her face with additional highlighting on top of her cheekbones and browbones, nose, and cupid’s bow; Tarte Amazonian Clay 12­Hour Blush in Blissful; Revlon ColorStay Lip Liner in Wine; Revlon ColorBurst Balm Stain in Lovesick.

And like I mentioned before, moods of music are definitely influential. I’m a big metalhead, so the aesthetics of that culture are fun to play with and try to work in on a more “day­-to-­day” basis in subtle ways. As far as celebrities, the one directly off the top of my head that I pull inspiration from is FKA Twigs, I love everything she does. I’ve been absolutely loving Rihanna’s looks lately too.

Does your job put any constraints on your makeup? Do you do your makeup differently for work than for weekends or other non­-work contexts?

It doesn’t! I mean, I would not go into the office with a full metal face, but I don’t have to stick to neutrals. My one personal rule is I do NOT experiment with new products or color combinations if I have an in-­person or video client meeting that day, because a) I have a horrible habit of trying out new products when I’m doing my makeup for the day rather than, you know, doing it on a weekend or after work, and b) I rarely leave myself enough time to fix anything that looks ridiculous and I don’t want it to reflect poorly on my skill level or something. Other than that I’ve definitely gone to work with a lipstick that was too dark or too neon before, but my coworkers have been gracious enough not to say anything, ha. I once had a fiasco with some Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick the first time I wore it, when I didn’t know that you need to wipe off the applicator pretty thoroughly before you put it on, and had like, a centimeter thick of dark purple on my mouth that dried and cracked. Not cute.

I pretty much keep my makeup routine the same in all contexts, although on the weekends since I rarely go out I might just slap on some CC cream, brows, and lashes in five minutes if I’m only going to run errands and save the fuller face only for going out with friends. The only time other than photography projects I get particularly theatrical with it is when I’m going to a metal show, which is a lot of fun but takes a long time.


For Ashley’s show look, she used shadows from Urban Decay’s Vice 3 and Ammo palettes. From Vice 3, she used Bobby Dazzle on her full lid, Defy on the outer half of her lid, Revolver on the outer corner and lower lash line, Sonic at the top of the crease and inner corner of her lower lash line; from Ammo, Polyester Bride on the browbone and Oil Slick on the edge of the upper and lower outer corners. She also used Tarte Amazonian Clay 12­Hour Blush in Dazzled, Revlon ColorStay Lip Liner in Red, Revlon ColorBurst Lacquer Balm in Enticing, and Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner in Black.

You use a lot of colours or colour combinations that could look quite dramatic, editorial, or costume­y but manage to make your looks interesting but still wearable for a general daily context -­ for example, you like using magenta on your eyes. How do you do this? Do you have any tips for people looking to experiment with colour in a wearable way?
Obvious disclaimer before I go into this: DO WHAT YOU WANT ALWAYS. But I’m going to make these recommendations based on wanting to work colors into a look that doesn’t necessarily shriek. Another disclaimer, my eyes are pretty grey, so not a lot of colors clash with them; your mileage may vary depending on your own color, but I think all these recommendations should be pretty applicable to anyone.

First and foremost, wear it like you mean it. If you act self conscious of what you’re wearing all day, it’s harder to pull off. But you can get away with basically anything if you act like you mean it.

Even base makeup goes a long way towards setting off brighter colors, especially if you want to wear warm colors, and particularly reds, on your eyes. Red patches risk making your color application look blotchy even if it’s not. I know the pain, my acne is terrible, and I have combination skin that loves to go to both extremes at once. It’s taken a lot of trial and error to figure out what works both in terms of makeup and skincare. So be patient with yourself!

For eyeshadows, blushes, contours, start light and blend absolutely everything. If you overblend, you can always add more, but it’s basically impossible to take away once you’ve added too much.

When you’re creating an eye look, I find it useful to do a few things. Use a base color that’s just a tad lighter than your natural skin tone (mine is usually Truth from the Vice 3 palette or Virgin from the Naked palette, but I’m a sheet, so do some experimenting yourself), rather than something too stark white, so that you have a soft contrast with your colors. Apply this base over your whole lid up to your brow bone before you do anything else. Next, I rarely if ever cover my whole lid with a funky color. I usually let the neutral base be the color for at least the inner third of my lid, if not the whole thing. Most of my colors happen in the crease. Pick a color or two for your crease, and something a tad darker for your outer corner, again being careful about contrast. When I do darker eye looks, I usually go for grey or dark brown rather than black as it’s softer. The less harsh the contrast, I think the more color you can get away with. Finally, don’t bring the color up too high or out too far. I pretty much keep the outer corner color just to the lid, and I only bring the crease color just high enough to have a small peek above my lashes when my eyes are open.

TL;DR: soft contrast.

Ditching eyeliner goes a long way to keeping colors from seeming garish. My eyes are huge and my lashes are pretty naturally long, so once I put on mascara, I really don’t need any extra definition unless I’m trying to go for something more theatrical. If you still want to use liner for a bit more definition, I would recommend tightlining. Basically, the colors are going to be drawing enough attention that you don’t need to do too much more.

Balance your lips and your eyes; if I go for a more dramatic eye, I will usually opt for a softer pink or lighter fuchsia lip. If I go for a darker lip, I usually go for a more neutral eye, but I’ll give my brows a little more definition than usual so my face isn’t bottom­-heavy.

Finally, ALWAYS LINE YOUR LIPS. Or at least, if you don’t line your lips, be careful… If your lines aren’t clean when you’re wearing a bright lip color, it really stands out, and especially if you’re wearing bright eyeshadows too. And anyway, lipliner is critical for taco-­eating survival, which is a critical life skill.

Thank you so much to Ashley for being my first interview subject and providing such interesting answers!

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


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.



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.



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.