Top 17 of 2017

Posted on December 22, 2017 under Favourites

One day the year will probably become so advanced that I will no longer be able to do these gimmicky little roundups. If I still have a blog in 2032 I probably will not have 32 products to share with you. I figure I’ll just keep doing this until I no longer have enough products to flesh out the list, and then I will make something new up.

Anyway, here’s what I discovered and loved in 2017. This time I’m doing it in chronological order instead of by category, because I like to shake things up. As always, these are products that I personally discovered in 2017. Most of them were not released this year! I’ll link to full reviews where possible.

Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder in Light

The hype is real: this is a soft, blendable, natural contour shade that is perfect for fair skintones. It’s not so cool as to look ashy but not so warm as to look muddy. This is an everyday product for me and absolutely a staple over the past year.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Palette

This has to be my favourite purchase of 2017. I lusted after it for half a year and it still managed to exceed my expectations. The shadows are wonderful quality, I genuinely use and love every shade, and I can get such a variety of beautiful looks out of it. This is my favourite palette, for sure.

(By the way, I took the pictures for this post quite a long time ago, but since then I’ve actually hit pan on Cyprus Umber.)

Lancôme Grandiôse Eyeliner in Ceruluean and Fuchsia*

Though these come with a hefty price tag, the vibrancy of the colours and the long-wearing formula of the liner makes me love them. I don’t have anything like these colours in my collection and I think they’re so fun and unexpected.

Buxom Plumpline Lip Liner in Hush Hush and Covert Affair*

Despite the strange marketing of these chubby, sharpenable pencils as lip liners, I think these are great matte lipsticks. They apply easily and smoothly, last well, and aren’t too drying. Somehow I can apply them over flaky lips and still like the result. Hush Hush is my go-to neutral and I can’t get enough of the burnt orange Covert Affair.

I have a hard time getting Covert Affair to photograph as orange as it is!

Hush Hush, from all the way back when I had red hair.

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

I’ve now gone through three bottles of this and I plan to keep going forever! This product has replaced all my other hydrating serums for a fraction of the cost. It’s great stuff, and at $6.80 CAD you really can’t go wrong.

Magic Collection Oval Brush

This $10 Artis knockoff has become my absolute favourite foundation brush. Its density is unparalleled by any other brush in my collection, and it buffs foundation seamlessly into the skin. Plus, its bristles are super soft, making foundation application as pleasant as possible.

Olaplex Step 3

I am staunchly pro-drugstore when it comes to hair products, but Olaplex was the only thing that worked on my supremely bleach-damaged hair when I went back to blonde in March. I’ve been using it weekly since then and it’s kept my hair in great condition. I mean, I did three years’ worth of bleach damage before I ever used Olaplex, but my hair is soft and smooth and actually looks and feels like hair instead of straw. Olaplex is the best thing I’ve ever done for my hair!

ELF Small Stipple Brush

This is such a great multi-purpose brush. It’s great for applying cream products to the cheeks, and it’s become my new go-to for contouring because it gives me more control and allows me to build the product up slowly for a more subtle effect. I have a lot of time for ELF brushes, and this is one of my favourites.

Milani Eyeshadow Primer

After years of loyalty, my NARS eyeshadow primer just stopped performing very well. Disheartened, I picked up a tube of the Milani Eyeshadow Primer on emilynoel83’s recommendation, thinking that if it didn’t work out it was only nine bucks down the drain. Well, colour me pleased: this primer holds onto eyeshadow amazingly well. I use it every single day and I know that nothing will come off my eyelids until I want it to.

Vichy Teint Idéal Pure Light Face Roll-On*

This is the most beautiful, impactful wet-look highlighter. Vichy’s makeup doesn’t get any buzz online, but if this absolutely stunning liquid highlighter is anything to go by, we should be paying attention to their releases. I neglected to take a picture of this on my face, but you can see it swatched on the right below:

Stila Magnificent Metals Liquid Eyeshadow in Rose Gold Retro

As usual, I jumped on the bandwagon late, but these liquid eyeshadows deserve every bit of the hype they’ve received. They are pure glitter in a user-friendly format, and the shade Rose Gold Retro is a beautiful dream.

Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Fire and Ice

This summer I decided to jump into the world of oranges and orangey-red lipsticks, starting with the long-time classic Fire and Ice. I’ve always been iffy about these types of tones on myself, but I surprised myself by immediately falling in love with Fire and Ice. The formula is comfortable and smooth without being slippery, and the colour is divine. I’ve seen appear on different people variously as an orange-red, a coral with a definitive hint of pink, and a straight-up orange. I don’t why I like this on myself so much, because it has a healthy dose of orange and neon, which should be a very unflattering combination on me. But I lived in this lipstick this summer!

Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Creme in So Sofia

God, I love this lipstick so goddamn much. I have been searching for this exact colour – a super vibrant coral that flatters my complexion – for eons, and So Sofia is it. Not only is the colour beautiful and harmonious on my face, the formula is excellent. I bought this lipstick in the second half of the year and it’s already one of my favourites ever.

ColourPop Blush Brush

When I ordered this brush out of curiosity back in the summer, I didn’t expect for it to become my favourite blush brush. I merely wanted another one so that I didn’t have to clean my brushes as often. (Uh, I already clean them shamefully infrequently, so…) But the soft synthetic bristles combined with the shape and size of this brush make it absolutely perfect for applying the exact right amount of blush every single time. I’ve used it almost every day since I bought it.

ColourPop Blotted Lips in Candyfloss

I’m very into ColourPop’s sheer matte Blotted Lips – they’re a comfortable, easy way to wear colour, and they’re a staple for casual makeup days. The terracotta Candyfloss is an unexpected favourite – as with most of the lip products I’ve featured in this roundup, Candyfloss has taught me to move outside of my comfort zone and embrace colours in the orange and brown families. Though it’s a bit of an unusual colour, the sheer matte finish means Candyfloss can look fairly understated and casual.

Urban Decay Liquid Moondust in Solstice

I don’t know if I’m just looking in the wrong places, but I haven’t seen anybody talking about Urban Decay’s liquid eyeshadows. Solstice is a stunning blue-red duochrome that I positively die for. It lasts forever on my eyes too – and when it comes to liquid and cream eyeshadows on my hooded lids, that’s a feat. I’ll have to check out some of the other shadows in this line, because it looks like there’s a whole range of absolutely stunning shades.

IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream in Fair*

If you asked me to describe my ideal foundation, I’d probably say “Fair with neutral-to-yellow undertones, medium coverage, finish somewhere between satin and dewy, hydrating and able to glide easily over dry patches, can be applied with brushes, a sponge, or fingers”. And that is exactly what the It Cosmetics CC Cream is! I actually tried quite a few foundations this year which I liked – Maybelline Fit Me Matte and Poreless, The Ordinary Serum and Coverage – but this one takes the cake. It looks so beautiful on my skin and is always comfortable to wear, and I love the incredibly functional packaging.

Runners up

(Because I like to cheat.)

And some runners-up for you, too: Bite Beauty Lip Pencils in 020 and 044*, ColourPop Lippie Pencil in Contempo, Lancôme Matte Shakers in Pink Power and Kiss Me Chérie*.

The Ordinary Colours Serum Foundation in 1.1N, Revlon PhotoReady Instafix Highlighter Stick in Pink Light, L’Oreal Brow Artist Plumper in Transparent.

Review: Anastasia Modern Renaissance Palette

Posted on March 30, 2017 under Reviews

Anastasia Modern Renaissance Palette header

I almost hate to add my voice into the fray when it comes to the Anastasia Modern Renaissance palette, aka the most-hyped release of 2016, aka an undisputed inclusion in every YouTuber’s best of 2016 video, aka you have all heard this palette talked about to death. But, well, after six months of lusting after it, chasing after it at different Sephora, and finally pulling the trigger when I saw that it was in stock online and I was armed with a gift card, I love it so much that I had to write about it. I mean, I don’t want it to be a shock when I include in my best of 2017 roundup, you know? I want you guys to be like, “Duh, Clem loves that palette, of course she would be here, saying it was one of her favourites of the year only a year later than everyone else.”

Okay. Deep breath. Let’s back up.

I tend to ignore new palette releases. They just don’t interest me much. In 2016 I purchased one palette, Kat Von D Shade and Light, which was my birthday gift to myself only because Modern Renaissance was out of stock. Shade and Light is also a very functional palette, one which I can use on its own and which fills basically every gap any other eyeshadow palette leaves. It’s lovely, and was one of my favourites of 2016, but it’s not really exciting. Just very functional. Before that, the last palette I bought was… I don’t know! Because once you have a few neutral palettes, you have every neutral palette. Oh, these brands try to fool you by switching up the order of the eyeshadows or including a blue or purple here and there, but if you look at most new palette releases shade by shade you probably have almost everything in it already, and are you really going to use that shitty purple shade that Too Faced includes in every palette anyway? (No, not every palette released in 2016 was neutral, but I know that I’m definitely not going to use the UD Moondust palette ever in my life, so that didn’t catch my attention either.)

When the Modern Renaissance palette was first released, I ignored it as I do with most new palette releases. But when I saw emilynoel83’s glowing review of it, I was sold. And then I became obsessed with it for the next six months until I finally owned it.

Anastasia Modern Renaissance Palette

To me, this palette toes the perfect line. It has a bunch of shades that are interesting and which I don’t already have in my collection, and the more basic shades are perfect and functional and allow me to be a lazy person and use the palette for a complete eye look without having to reach for anything else. I suppose that I don’t really need another matte medium brown, a matte dark brown, or a light shimmery champagne shade, but dammit I appreciate having them there. I’ll delve into this more in a bit.

Obviously, I love the more intense shadows – Love Letter, Venetian Red, Red Ochre, and Realgar. They’re absolutely stunning and I love the looks I’ve managed to get with them. They can be used for quite bold looks or be used more subtly. But I want to give a shoutout to some of the shades that are in the middle – not those workhorse, every-palette-should-have-them shades and not the standout reds and oranges. Buon Fresco is one of my absolute favourites: it’s a great transition shade on my skintone and, while neutral, it’s a little bit special and like nothing else I own. I really like Raw Sienna and Burnt Umber, which are both gorgeous, neutral yet interesting matte shades. I guess shades like those two aren’t super hard to come by with the current warm smokey eye trend, but I personally have nothing even close to them in my collection.

Everything you’ve heard about these shadows is true: they’re super soft and they pretty much blend themselves. I think I find them easier to work with than LORAC Pro shadows, which I love. I definitely like both the shimmers and mattes better than Urban Decay shimmers and mattes. (Are we still using UD as the gold standard for eyeshadow, or…?) These shadows do kick up a lot of powder and thus are prone to fallout if you don’t tap off your brush thoroughly, but as long as I do that I don’t have any issues. All of the shades are soft and smooth, but I’m especially impressed with the matte shadows, since those tend to be chalkier and stiffer in general. I can’t believe how soft they feel to the touch.

Anastasia Modern Renaissance Palette brush

The brush that comes with the palette is okay – the flat side is pretty good for packing on shadow or creating the shape of the outer V. I don’t love the fluffy side, but it’s useable. Personally I’d always prefer that brands omit the brush and lower the price of the palette by a few bucks. I have a decent amount of brushes and I prefer to just use my own, which I’ve picked out, than to have a brand decide what brushes I need.

Now I do want to talk about duping this palette. Clearly, hordes of people are buying it for the intense colours, but there are a lot of shades in this palette which are pretty similar to ones that you probably own. I wanted to be really thorough here, so I busted out all my of my eyeshadow palettes to find dupes:

Anastasia Modern Renaissance Palette

And here is what my lengthy investigation uncovered!

Anastasia Modern Renaissance Palette Tempera Comparisons

L-R: Anastasia Tempera, Urban Decay WOS (Naked Basics), Kat Von D Latimus (Shade and Light), Urban Decay Strange (Naked 3), LORAC Cream (Pro).

Anastasia Modern Renaissance Palette Tempera Comparisons

L-R: Anastasia Tempera, Urban Decay Foxy (Naked Basics), Marc Jacobs, Stila Bare (In the Light), Stila Chinois (Eyes are the Window – Spirit), Kat Von D Laetus (Shade and Light)

Tempera is one of the least special colours in the palette. It’s a satin finish peachy beige, and I have a lot of similar shades in my collection, though most of them lean more yellow or pink than peach. I use shades like this a lot to set my eye primer and make the shadows I put on top blend more easily, but I rarely use them on their own, so I don’t really care if this type of shade is unique.

Anastasia Modern Renaissance Palette Vermeer Comparisons

L-R: Anastasia Vermeer, Urban Decay Dust (Naked 3), LORAC Nude (Pro), LORAC Champagne (Pro)

Vermeer is a pink-leaning champagne; ABH describes it as an “iridescent shell”, which I think is fairly accurate. I have some shimmery pink shades, but nothing exactly like it. It’s not standout in its uniqueness, but it’s very versatile and it’s one of the shades that makes this palette very useable for me.

Anastasia Modern Renaissance Palette Buon Fresco Comparisons

L-R: Anastasia Buon Fresco, Urban Decay Limit (Naked 3), Urban Decay Nooner (Naked 3), LORAC Mauve (Pro)

Buon Fresco is a very cool, neutral taupe with quite a lot of lavender (it didn’t photograph very well in this swatch). Everything I have that’s at all similar is a lot warmer and more brown.

Anastasia Modern Renaissance Palette Antique Bronze Comparisons

L-R: Anastasia Antique Bronze, LORAC Garnet (Pro), Stila Sunset (In the Light), Stila Barefoot (Eyes are the Window – Spirit)

Antique Bronze is, well, a bronze. I have comparable shades in my collection, though nothing I’d call a dead-on dupe.

Anastasia Modern Renaissance Palette Cyprus Umber Comparisons

L-R: Anastasia Cyprus Umber, LORAC Espresso (Pro), LORAC Sable (Pro), Stila Sandstone (In the Light), Kat Von D Solas (Shade and Light), Kat Von D Saleos (Shade and Light)

Cyprus Umber is a deep neutral brown. I have plenty of colours that are similar, though they tend to lean a bit warmer.

Anastasia Modern Renaissance Palette Primavera Comparisons

L-R: Anastasia Primavera, MJ, Stila Kitten (In the Light; Eyes are the Window – Spirit), theBalm Iron Maid-in (theBalm Jovi), Stila Oasis (Eyes are the Window – Spirit), LORAC Light Bronze (Pro)

Primavera is a light gold champagne. It’s deeper than a lot of my champagne shades, though lighter than some of the light golds I have. It also is far more high-shine than anything else I have. The general effect of this shadow can be duplicated throughout my collection, but again, this colour is a workhorse for me and one that I’m glad to have in this palette.

Anastasia Modern Renaissance Palette Warm Taupe Comparisons

L-R: Anastasia Warm Taupe, LORAC Taupe (Pro), Stila Bliss (In the Light), Stila Puppy (Eyes are the Window – Spirit), Kat Von D Samael (Shade and Light), Urban Decay Naked 2 (Naked Basics), MJ, theBalm Allegro (theBalm Jovi)

Warm Taupe is a very descriptive name for this shade. As you can see, my eyeshadow collection is full of similar shades, for good reason: most palettes include a colour like this for the crease. Again, not terribly unique (and I believe this is a shade that ABH sells individually, so it’s not exclusive to this palette), but almost necessary for a fully-functional palette.

If you’re the type of person who likes palettes to be totally unique, or who depots all your shadows, you may find this one has too many redundant shades to justify the interesting ones. However, I find that a lot of the more neutral shades don’t have exact dupes in my collection and that I use all of the shades anyway. There’s not a single colour in this palette that I’d swap out: they all serve a function, and some of the more boring colours make this palette extremely functional as a self-contained unit. In the three months that I’ve had this palette I haven’t felt the need to pull in other shades. Personally I’m a palette-lover as opposed to a collector of singles; I like having everything I need in one place, even if it means a bit of redundancy throughout my collection. Because the overall colour story of this palette is completely unique in the context of my collection, I’m not at all bothered by having borderline dupes for some of the shades. I find that everyone has a different relationship with palettes, and if you’re the type of person who prefers picking out singles to avoid dupes, you may be put off my some of the more neutral shades in this palette. However, if you’re like me, and you like to be lazy and have someone pick out colours for you and put them all in one place, you might really like this particular palette for its versatility and simultaneous usefulness and uniqueness.

And here are some looks I’ve created with this palette; hopefully these will demonstrate how versatile this particular array of shadows can be.

Anastasia Modern Renaissance Palette Look

Anastasia Modern Renaissance Palette Look

From the Modern Renaissance palette: Antique Bronze all over the eyelid, Cyprus Umber on the outer V and lower lashline; Warm Taupe and Raw Sienna in the crease. On my lips: Bite Amuse Bouche lipstick in Honeycomb over Bite Lip Pencil in 020.

You would have seen this look in my review of the Bite Lip Pencils. One of my go-to looks is a bronzey or coppery eye, so I get a lot of use out of Antique Bronze. Here I deepened it up with Cyprus Umber and used Raw Sienna to add some warmth.

Anastasia Modern Renaissance Palette Look

Anastasia Modern Renaissance Palette Look

From the Modern Renaissance palette: Vermeer all over the eyelid, Buon Fresco in the crease, Cyprus Umber on the outer V. On my lips: Maybelline Creamy Matte lipstick in Lust For Blush.

You can see the lavender tones in Buon Fresco a lot better here. I absolutely love this shadow in the crease paired with a light pinkish shadow all over the lid; here I’ve paired it with Vermeer, but it also looks great with NARS Callisto, which is a high shine silvery pink. To ground this particular look I added a tiny bit of Cyprus Umber for depth. This look is neutral and wearable, but I think Buon Fresco makes it a bit interesting.

Anastasia Modern Renaissance Palette Look

Anastasia Modern Renaissance Palette Look

From the Modern Renaissance palette: Primavera all over the eyelid; Realgar in the crease, inner corners; Burnt Orange to blend out the edges. On my lips: Buxom Plumpline Lip Liner in Hush Hush.

This is a more dramatic cut-crease type look. Normally I avoid anything orange on myself, but I thought it looked really cool with my red hair. For extra drama I brought it down into my inner corners. I decided to leave my lower lashline bare so that it was a stark, more editorial look. My boss said she loved this look on me, and I did too!

Anastasia Modern Renaissance Palette Look

Anastasia Modern Renaissance Palette Look

From the Modern Renaissance palette: Tempera all over the eyelid; Warm Taupe in the crease; Love Letter across the lashline, in the outer V, and in the crease. Eyeliner: Lancôme Grandiôse in Fuchsia. On my lips: YSL Rouge Volupté in 17 over Rimmel Exaggerate Lip Liner in Enchantment.

My favourite way to wear Love Letter is in this type of shape. I did something similar a few months ago, though this time I made the eyeshadow more of a focus than the eyeliner. This shadow also looks great all over the eyelid and blended out at the edges. Obviously, it’s a dramatic look, but I’m into it.

Anastasia Modern Renaissance Palette Look

Anastasia Modern Renaissance Palette Look

From the Modern Renaissance palette: Primavera all over the eyelid; Warm Taupe in the crease; Red Ochre on the outer V, inner corners, in the crease, and on the lower lashline. On my lips: NARS Audacious lipstick in Audrey.

Red Ochre is the perfect balance between neutral and dramatic, and I think it makes for an excellent focal point in a halo eye. Usually I put shadow on the outer third to half of my lower lashline, but I thought for this look it looked best all the way along. My boss loved this one on me too!

I find the Modern Renaissance palette absolutely delightful. It forcefully brought me out of an eyeshadow rut and is the first eyeshadow-related launch that’s excited me pretty much since the beginning of time (or my makeup-wearing days, anyway). I think the formula is top-notch and the shadows are thoughtfully-selected. It’s the perfect balance between familiar and novel. I get a lot of use out of this palette and I’m so glad I finally own it.

P.S. For further reading, I highly recommend Auxiliary Beauty’s thoroughly interesting post, “How Renaissance is the ABH Modern Renaissance Palette“?

P.P.S. I am blonde again because this is me and I will never be happy unless I’m blonde. Yes, my hair is staging a violent rebellion which only Olaplex can put down.

Inventory: Large eyeshadow palettes

Posted on March 04, 2017 under Inventory

I’ve decided to jump on the bandwagon and start an inventory series on my blog to showcase everything I have and give products I don’t mention much a chance in the spotlight. I’m kicking things off with a category which interests me but is manageable. (I’m afraid to do lipstick, guys.) I have a fair amount of eyeshadow, so I’m focusing on my big palettes today. I’ll do smaller palettes, quints, quads, and trios in another post, and singles in yet another. I’m not sure if my next inventory post will be eyeshadow or if I’ll bounce over to another category of makeup. We’ll have to see where my whims take me.

I currently have five larger shadow palettes, which I think is a pretty good number. There’s a lot of variety within those five palettes, but it’s a manageable number and I can use each one of them regularly. I’d say that eyeshadow is my second biggest makeup love, next to lipstick. Lipstick got me into makeup, but once I figured out how to apply eyeshadow to my eye shape I never looked back.

I’ll likely arrange the products differently in future posts depending on what makes most sense (for example, I’ll do lipstick by colour family), but today I’m just going to speak about these in chronological order of when they came into my collection.

Urban Decay Naked 3

Like a number of items in my makeup collection, this was a very generous gift from Aisling, who didn’t like the rose-gold shades in this palette on herself. I went to visit her in Brighton and came out of it with a snazzy palette! Out of all three full-sized Naked palettes, this one seems to be the most contentious. Some people love it, but most people don’t use it as much as the Naked 1 and 2. I can see why: it has a much clearer colour story, and you can’t get that many different looks out of it. It’s a rosy, soft palette. I actually really enjoy these colours and have quite a few go-to looks I can create with them. These shadows are definitely not the best quality I’ve used (my Anastasia, Kat Von D, and LORAC palettes all easily best this one in terms of pigmentation and blendability), but most of them are perfectly fine. (The shade Buzz is a notable exception; it’s a bit of a mess.) I have to be in a specific mood to use this palette and it’s not the type of thing I’d throw into a suitcase with the knowledge that it’ll cover all my bases, but I do like it.


This palette got a tonne of hype back in the day and now we barely hear anything about it in the land of beauty blogging, which I suppose is the natural cycle. I wasn’t really that interested in it (probably because we can’t get LORAC in Canada) until I saw it on r/makeupexchange for $35 and had to do it. In contrast with the UD Naked 3, this is a palette I travel with, because I feel like I can get a million different looks out of it. There are a few shades that I feel are redundant, but there are so many that are absolutely glorious that I can overlook that. Gold is my favourite gold shadow ever and a staple of my go-to look for any special event I have.

Stila Eyes are the Window – Spirit

I lusted after this palette for at least a year and a half until spending my Optimum points on it in early 2016, and I use it less than I thought I would. There are a few standout shades in here; my favourite is the burgundy, Pigalle. Between the time I first saw it and when I actually bit the bullet and bought it, I accumulated enough neutral eyeshadow that this palette is actually kind of redundant in my collection. I still like it and use it, but not as often as I’d imagined. These shadows are quite sheer – though not unpigmented – so they’d be better suited for someone who prefers to build up colour slowly.

Kat Von D Shade and Light

I feel too icky about Kat Von D to buy any more of her products, but this palette really is phenomenally good. These are some of the creamiest, most blendable mattes I’ve come across. This palette is great for self-contained looks and it’s the perfect complement to those palettes that just aren’t complete on their own. I can get such a variety of looks out of this palette: warm, cool, soft, smokey… If you don’t like shadows that kick up a lot of powder I’d avoid this, but if you don’t mind that too much then this palette really is great.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance

You guys, this is my favourite palette. It just is. I know I’m so two-thousand-and-late here, but I just can’t think of a more perfect palette for my tastes. Setting aside the fact that the shadows are beautiful quality (which they are), every single colour makes sense to me. There’s not one shade in this palette that I don’t use happily. I love that I can do a variety of neutral looks but that there are also interesting, bold colours. This palette is just so well thought-out and interesting yet complete. I’ll have a full review with several looks up at some point.

This is likely more eyeshadow than any human could ever go through in a lifetime, and that’s not even taking into consideration my smaller palettes and singles. I did just get rid of two palettes, though, and even if I never actually use up all of this eyeshadow each palette fits a slightly different niche in my collection, so I’m happy to hold onto them all for now.