Empties: September to December 2018

Posted on January 13, 2019 under Empties

Slightly belatedly, here’s the last bit of stuff I used up in 2018. Unsurpisingly, there are a lot of staples in this batch, but there’s some newer stuff too.

Bath and Body

As always, I am a shining example of refinement in my refusal to clean off gross globby residue before photographing my garbage for the internet.

A-Derma Exomega Emollient Lotion and Emollient Balm: A-Derma bodycare is always good. I prefer the Emollient Balm because I have dry lizard skin year-round; I used the Lotion up during the summer and switched to the Balm when the weather turned. The 200mL tube goes very quickly!

The Chemistry Brand Hyaluronic Body Mist: I really enjoyed this mist during the summer to quickly top up my hydration without having to commit to rubbing lotion in. It’s too bad it’s been discontinued!

Hair

Marc Anthony Nourishing Argan Oil of Morocco Extra Hydrating Shampoo with Keratin: This was my first shampoo purchase post-blonde, and I liked it. I don’t think it’s particularly better than all of the other hydrating shampoos on the market, but it worked and I enjoyed the scent and texture. It is a bit on the thicker side so if you have fine hair you might not like this.

John Frieda Sheer Blonde Hi Impact Restoring Conditioner*: This is a very standard conditioner. I used it up when I was in between conditioners I liked more. Also yes it is definitely covered in mildew because it’s been in my shower for two and a half years.

Olaplex Hair Perfector Number 3: Olaplex literally saved my hair’s life. After a certain point it didn’t particularly help anymore, but I used it as a treatment about once a week just to encourage my hair to continue getting healthier. I think it’s best as a short-term treatment to repair severely damaged hair (or, you know, as a preventative step when used in conjunction with the salon-only Number 1 and Number 2). All I can say is that my before and after pictures truly speak for themselves.

Skincare

La Roche-Posay Micellar Water Ultra: I really enjoy the LRP Micellar Waters. However, I have literally five 500mL bottles of Bioderma in my cupboard, so I won’t be repurchasing any time soon.

Avène 3-in-1 Make-up Remover: I didn’t like this – it left a major residue on my face and wasn’t particularly effective compared to my favourite gel cleanser, which is by Marcelle. Glad this was gratis from my old job, because I would not be happy to have spent money on this!

Lancôme Bi-Facil Double Action Eye Makeup Remover: Still a great product for stubborn waterproof eye makeup, still way overpriced compared to the La Roche-Posay version. Now and then a bottle of Bi-Facil will come into my life and I’ll use it because it is good, but I will certainly not be purchasing it ever again.

The Ordinary Marine Hyaluronics: I thought I would prefer this to the original Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 since it’s much more lightweight, but that wasn’t the case. It’s so thin and watery that I found it tricky to apply. It worked just fine, but the HA 2% is a bit more user-friendly, in my opinion.

Nuxe Rêve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm: Standard. This is the fourth one I’ve gone through (and I’m well into my fifth), so you know it’s serious.

StriVection Active Infusion Youth Serum: This is an overpriced serum. The pump stopped dispensing product pretty soon after I started using it, so I had to screw off the lid and tip the serum out. That’s a pretty major flaw for a $100 serum! I didn’t particularly notice any results. (I got this as gratis from my old job.)

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo: I did enjoy this salicylic acid-based spot treatment, but I’ve switched to The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% since it’s far more cost-effective.

Strivectin Multi-Action Stress Defense Hydrating Water Gel: This is an overpriced gel moisturizer. It was fine, but it was only workable because I used it during the summer. I shudder to think how flaky my skin would be in the winter if I used this! This was old gratis as well.

Makeup

NIOD Photography Fluid 12% sample x3: After going through four sample packets of this glowy primer, I ended up getting the full size. It made my 2018 favourites list, so obviously I like it. It’s definitely on the pricey side, but I love the effect it gives my skin.

The Ordinary High-Spreadability Fluid Primer: I have never found a silicone-based primer that I have felt does anything. I used this up to use it up. All I really need is a good illuminating primer!

IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Colour Correcting Coverage Cream*: Ugh, I told myself I wasn’t going to buy another tube of this because the shade range is so terrible, but I really miss it. I absolutely love the coverage, finish, and wear of this foundation, but I do hesitate to support a brand that really lacks inclusivity. I’m on the market for a similar product that I feel a bit better buying!

The Ordinary Colours Serum Foundation in 1.1N: I liked this foundation a lot in the summer and less in the winter. I wish it was a bit more seasonally versatile, because the lightweight feel and coverage and skinlike finish were great. I’ve gone back to my MUFE Ultra HD because that one is a lot easier to work with (even in the winter). However, for $6.70 I think I got my money’s worth out of this foundation and I’m happy to have tried it.

Bourjois Radiance Reveal Concealer: I loved everything about this truly radiant, brightening concealer except the fact that the lightest shade was just a bit too dark to be workable. I ended up using it up by mixing it in with a lighter concealer, but that’s just too much work for me to continue doing daily. Luckily I now have my First Aid Beauty concealer, which is a great colour match.

Annabelle Skinny Brow Liner in Universal Taupe: I liked the waxy consistency and fine tip of this brow pencil, but the colour was a hair too warm for me. It’s nice to have a brow pencil on hand for lazy days, but ultimately I’ve been loyal to brow pomade for over five years now.

L’Oreal Brow Sylist Boost & Set Brow Gel in Clear: I never hear anyone talking about this brow gel, but I’ve been through several tubes now. It has the perfect amount of hold without making the brow hairs feel stiff or crispy. It’s a bit expensive for what it is at full price, but I try to buy it when it goes on sale for 40% off.

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner: I went through SO MANY of these pens. I was devoted to the cause for years and years. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with this liner in my opinion. It’s just that I’ve found something much cheaper that works just as well.

NYX Epic Ink Liner: Yeah, this is my go-to liner now. It does everything the Stila does for 1/3 of the price. My only gripe is that it’s not sold at Shoppers, so I have to go to the NYX store for it. I tend to just buy one when I’m at the mall so I’m not left liner-less.

Clarins Truly Waterproof Mascara: Listen, I have never found a better mascara. This holds a curl and creates the most beautiful fluttery, defined, lengthened lashes. I am in denial that this has been discontinued.

The only proper conclusion for this post is to beg for non-smudging mascara recommendations for people with stubbornly straight eyelashes. (I’m currently trying out Glossier Lash Slick and liking but not loving it, so I’m open to suggestions!)

Things you should or should not buy for your brows and lashes

Posted on April 22, 2018 under Reviews

Here, have three reviews of things that are not exciting enough to warrant their own posts. We have two mascaras and a brow pencil, and those things are kind of related, right? I mean, they both pertain to hair on your face. That’s a good enough parallel for me to justify shoving them into the same post.

Annabelle Skinny Brow Liner in Universal Taupe

I’ve been doing my brows the same exact way for four years. I use Maybelline Colour Tattoo in Tough As Taupe on an angled brush, and it works marvellously. The colour match is perfect and I get the exact angles I want. However, some time ago I decided that I wanted a brow pencil for travelling, since the heavy pot of cream eyeshadow plus an angled brush can get a bit unwieldy. I’ve read really good reviews of this Annabelle pencil, and it’s always been a high seller in my experience working cosmetics retail, so I picked one up back in the summer.

This is a very fine twist-up brow pencil à la the almighty Anastasia Brow Wiz and its army of dupes. It comes in five colours – Universal Light, Universal Medium, Universal Dark, Universal Ebony, Universal Taupe, and Universal Auburn. I’m not really sure what the hell Annabelle thinks “universal” means, but whatever. I selected Universal Taupe because it seemed to be the closest to the colour of my brow hairs. Unfortunately this colour is a hair warm for my brows. I find that brow pencils are either too dark or too warm. Where is the nice light, ashy taupe I need?! See, this is why I can’t stray from cream eyeshadow.

Here’s how my bare brows look:

Clearly, I already have pretty full, well-shaped brows. I mostly like to fill in the tail and add a tiny bit of structure.

Here’s the same brow filled in using the Annabelle Skinny Brow Liner:

I’m not crazy in thinking that colour just isn’t right, am I? This is how I usually do them:

I just think that tone is a lot better for me!

Colour aside, this pencil has a pretty dry formula, which I definitely prefer for a brow pencil – I don’t want to accidentally overdo it with an emollient pencil. It’s also not super pigmented, which is a plus for the same reason. The teeny-tiny tip is absolutely great for making small, precise strokes.

Unfortunately, as it turns out I’m just not a huge fan of brow pencils. I seem to prefer the application and final look of pomade. Maybe this is just bias because the last time I regularly used a brow pencil my eyebrows look like this:

(However, I also had healthy hair, so that’s a tradeoff, I guess. Although as you may have noticed in recent pictures I’m making good progress growing out my blonde hair!)

I don’t know. There’s no particular fault in this product I can point towards. It’s actually really good for what it is. I just don’t like using an eyebrow pencil, apparently. And I want my brow products to be ashier than Pompeii, which this pencil just isn’t. I’d recommend it to those who enjoy pencils and can find a good colour match!

L’Oréal Paradise Extatic Mascara

I am 99% sure that this bizarrely-named mascara is the exact same thing as the Lash Paradise mascara that the entire world went crazy for over the summer. (Seriously, we could not keep it on the shelves at work. We’d get a shipment of like thirty tubes twice a week and within a day THEY WOULD ALL BE GONE. Except for the brown. Those usually stayed put.) I don’t know why the UK had to give it this name, but whatever. It’s the same thing.

As usual, I am unfashionably late to this bandwagon, probably because this is the first time I have spent real currency on mascara in five years. (I always got it free from work, but now I no longer work in cosmetics, and I ran out.) Really I was looking for something that would hold a curl because I’ve noticed that some of my old mascara faves have failed to do that lately. (Lancôme Hypnôse, I’m looking at you.) This formula is more volumizing than lengthening, which is fine. My preference is for extreme length and solid definition, but I’ll take volume as long as it doesn’t clump. This definitely is not a super-clumpy formula, but it takes about a week to get to the sweet spot, I think, whereas something like Lancôme Hypnôse (for all its curl-killing faults) is impossible to make clumpy. That’s okay, though; my favourite mascara of all time, Clarins Truly Waterproof, also need a few weeks to bloom into its full potential, and I can be patient. (You can see how that mascara looks on me in this post, because it is truly everything I need.)

I like this brush. I prefer natural to plastic bristles so this delivers on that front. I don’t really care about the hourglass shape; it works just fine, but I wouldn’t say it’s especially noteworthy. The brush doesn’t hold onto too much product, so that’s fine by me.

I have pretty thick and long lashes that are tragically straight. Like, if a mascara isn’t going to hold a curl then I might as well not have eyelashes, let alone good eyelashes. I would say this mascara is medium at holding a curl. I’ve certainly experienced the letdown of a mascara that immediately kills a curl and makes applying mascara pointless, but I’ve also seen the magic of Clarins Truly Waterproof and this ain’t that. It’s serviceable in the curl department, though. I also don’t notice flaking or extreme amounts of smudging if I use it on my bottom lashes. It’s not waterproof, but it’s slightly harder to remove than your average washable mascara. I personally don’t mind that; like I said, my favourite mascara is waterproof, and I use a biphase eye makeup remover anyway. It takes a bit more work to remove this with a simple micellar solution.

Here’s how the Paradise Extatic mascara looks on my top and bottom lashes:

And a comparison of my lashes with and without the mascara:

All in all, I think this is a nice mascara. It does everything I want it to do even if it takes some time to truly hit its stride. That said, it costs $15.99 in Canadian drugstores and that is just absurd. I can spend $11 more and get a tube of my beloved Clarins. Next time I’m looking to the drugstore, I’ll probably grab a tube of CoverGirl, which is $6.99 on sale. (Seriously, I know Maybelline and L’Oréal are the darlings of the drugstore mascara world, but in my experience CoverGirl knocks it out of the park every time at a cheaper price.)

Urban Decay Troublemaker Mascara

Ugh, this mascara is bullshit. First of all, the marketing sucks and is stupid. Second of all, the mascara sucks and is stupid. It basically did nothing for my eyelashes and rubbed off underneath my eyes within eleven seconds. I used it all of three times before I threw it violently into my declutter box.

As I’ve said a million times, it doesn’t take a miraculous mascara to content me, because my baseline is already pretty good. So when I actively dislike a mascara, you know it’s bad news.

Here’s what UD Troublemaker looks like after being built up pretty much to the greatest extent possible:

If you want something subtle, this may be the mascara for you! But when UD boasts that they “loaded up this mascara with insane benefits—for thicker, longer and fanned-out looking lashes”… well, no. That is a lie. Also, if you DO like subtle eyelashes, you can go to Walmart and get Wet N Wild for three bucks.

Here, let’s compare L’Oréal and UD:

The Paradise Extatic on the left gives noticeably more volume and length and holds a curl a lot better. I know which one I’m choosing!

And in case you were wondering, here’s the brush on the UD:

I tend not to get along with rubber bristles too well, so maybe this was doomed from the start.

And there are some reviews of some things. In conclusion, do not waste your coin on UD Troublemaker. Buy L’Oréal Lash Paradise maybe if you don’t mind that it’s very expensive for the drugstore. Buy the Annabelle brow pencil if they have a colour that works for you and you like micro brow pencils. The end.

Packing Light for Prague

Posted on November 25, 2017 under Life

My last few trips I did not bother to pack light makeup-wise, either because I didn’t have to or because I felt I needed options. This weekend, however, I’m going to Prague for purely touristy reasons, and I thought this would be the perfect time to exercise some restraint. As with all my European weekend trips, I pack entirely in one small school-sized backpack, so I really need to streamline my makeup to make room. I thought I would share my very minimal makeup bag today.

I can easily fill a liquids bag with skincare, but I know that when I’m walking around all day and sleeping in a hostel dorm room at night my desire to keep up with a complex skincare routine is zero. So my liquids bag – which is from Muji, by the way – reflects a back-to-basics approach.

The skincare steps I cannot do without are cleansing and moisturizing. The Caudalie Vino Perfect Serum from this year’s Sephora birthday gift will help boost the La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra moisturizer to keep my skin nice and hydrated. I’ve never had issues with dry undereyes until the past month or so, so I decided to bring the Biotherm Homme Eye Depuffer (which, by the way, is a nice gel eye cream even if you’re not a man). I got a sample of the Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Reconstructor which I’ve been saving for travel, since obviously my poor dead hair requires a lot of moisture. I don’t have any travel-sized shampoo right now, so I’ll have to pick one up at the airport.

The IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream is such an easy, fuss-free foundation that it was a no-brainer when it came to choosing which base product to pack. The packaging is also incredibly travel-friendly. For concealer, Maybelline Master Conceal works under the eyes and on blemishes.

I can’t be without Milani Eyeshadow Primer, and Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner is a staple for me as well. The Lancôme Hypnôse Drama mascara mini is convenient for travel, and I like the mascara as well. (Lancôme mascaras are so hit and miss to me, but this one is a hit.) Finally, a fresh tube of Essence Lash and Brow Mascara to keep my brow hairs in place.

And then the rest of my makeup easily fits in one small bag, which is a point of pride when I am prone to overpacking.

For the cheeks, Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Mood Exposure goes with everything and is a perennial travel staple for me. This is the most beautiful flattering blush colour in the world despite how “meh” it appears in the pan. I’m not sure if I’ll bother with highlighter, but I figured I’d give myself the option. Glossier Haloscope in Quartz is easy to apply without brushes and it gives a very natural effect, so I thought it would be perfect for travel.

Urban Decay Naked Basics is probably the most boring travel palette choice in the world, but it’s small, practically indestructible, and foolproof. I decided to add an eyebrow pencil into my repertoire mainly for travel purposes, so I don’t have to mess around with a brush and pomade when I’m on the go. The Annabelle Skinny Brow Liner in Universal Taupe is one of many ABH Brow Wiz dupes, and it works for me.

Forgive me for being extra and packing two lip balms. Overnight, my lips need the heavy-duty power of Nuxe Rêve de Miel, but during the day I prefer something a little lighter like Vaseline Lip Therapy. In an uncharacteristic move, I am committing to a single lip liner – Rimmel Exaggerate Lip Liner in Enchantment – and a single lipstick – YSL Rouge Volupté in #17. I love moisturizing lip products when I’m travelling, and the soft berry shade of #17 makes it a perfect candidate for this trip. I usually like to pair the Rouge Voluptés with a liner underneath to increase the staying power a bit, so I’ll likely just wear this combination together each day.

I tend to really overpack brushes, but this time I cut it down to the essentials: Magic Collection Oval Brush, ColourPop Blush Brush, ColourPop Blending Brush, ELF Crease Brush, ELF Eyeshadow C Brush, ELF Eye Contour Brush, ELF Small Smudge Brush, Elf Spoolie. Wow, I do really like ELF brushes, don’t I?

(By the way, I definitely washed that foundation brush after I took this picture!)

In case you were wondering about cleansing, I did buy a pack of makeup wipes from Superdrug. I hardly ever use wipes, but I just think washing my face with an actual cleanser while travelling is more hassle than it’s worth. My skin is pretty resilient, so I think it’ll survive. I love using actives on my skin, but I know that I can get away with just makeup wipes and moisturizer for three nights. It’ll make my life easier!

Anyway, I’m off this evening with my nice light makeup bag. I’ve wanted to go Prague for years, so I’m really excited that I could finally make it happen.