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!)

The disappointments of 2018

Posted on December 21, 2018 under Reviews

Time to complain about things I didn’t like! Actually, almost everything on this list is merely mediocre – there were very few outright fails this year. But I am not that tolerant of mediocre when the cosmetics market is so saturated, even less so when the products in question are pricey. So, in no particular order, here are the things I didn’t enjoy in 2018.

Function of Beauty Shampoo and Conditioner

It’s hard for me to say, definitively, that this product is not worth it, because by nature everyone’s formula will differ. I was initially swayed to drop some hefty cash on this custom shampoo and conditioner duo precisely because I had read reviews that claimed it was worth it. I’m sure it is, for some. But for me, these are two products that do the job and nothing more. I can get serviceable shampoo and conditioner at the drugstore.

Pat McGrath LuxeTrance Lipstick in 35mm

This is probably the biggest disappointment of all, because you know I wanted so badly to like a $52, gaudily-packaged luxury lipstick whose name references my academic discipline. (Well, kind of, I’m more on the TV side of things but TV used to be shot in 35mm too.) I firmly maintain that this isn’t a bad lipstick, it’s just an okay lipstick. The colour is pretty but nothing special, nothing that I can’t find for $30 or even $10, it’s a bit prone to patchiness on dry lips, and the wear time is far from remarkable. (I wore this lipstick to my work party the other week primarily out of guilt that I’ve barely touched it since receiving it in January, and I had to perform quite a few touch-ups.) I seem to remain the only person on this planet who has had a less-than-glowing experience with this formula, so take that as you will.

Avène High Protection SPF 50+ Emulsion

My main issue with this sunscreen is that it leaves such a white cast, and that is coming from me. I can’t even begin to imagine how unworkable this sunscreen would be on darker skin tones! I mean, the sunscreen itself is fine: it’s a nice lotion texture, it sits well under makeup without pilling, and it does seem to adequately protect from the sun. But, come on. There are too many sunscreens out there for anyone to be spending $25 on one with a severe white cast.

Avène Cold Cream Lip Balm and Abnomaly Petrowhat? in Milk

Two mediocre lip balms! The Avène has a texture that is simultaneously thin and slippery, and it doesn’t seem to ever actually sink into my lips and do any type of moisturizing. It offers temporary relief from really uncomfortably dry lips, but it wears off quickly and doesn’t leave my lips in an improved condition. Luckily I got this as gratis at my old job.

I was excited about Petrowhat?, a new-ish Deciem launch. This lip balm is supposed to mimic the feeling of petroleum jelly-based lip balms, but it’s made with squalane and amino acids. However, I find that this is too thick and greasy and that it just sits on top of my lips. It also has quite a strong salty taste thanks to the amino acids. This is a multipurpose balm so I’m trying to use it up on my cuticles and elbows. Despite the cute packaging and coconut scent, this is a no-go for me and I’d advise you to spend your seven bucks elsewhere.

OGX Flexible+ Beeswax Texture Spray Wax

I picked this up at Walmart on an impulse, because I thought Yes, why not get a texturizing spray? Though I like to make minimal effort with my hair, I thought that a texturizing spray was something I could take fifteen seconds to incorporate. But this just makes my hair a gross, sticky mess. I want to wash my hair as soon as I spray this in. Do not impulse buy hair products at Walmart, everyone.

Luckily, those are the only products that wronged me enough that I had to share. Most of what I bought this year was either satisfactory or too boring to work up any real emotion about. My next post will, of course, be all about the best products I discovered this year, so we can end the year on a positive note instead of dwelling on things that made me sad.

Summer 2018 Favourites

Posted on July 30, 2018 under Favourites

I hardly ever do favourites posts, mostly because I don’t try nearly the volume of products necessary to make that tenable on a regular basis. I think occasional seasonal roundups work for my purposes, though the last one I did was back in the fall of 2016. Here is the warm-weather answer to that, then!

Like many others, in the summer months I opt for a lighter base. This is now my second summer regularly using The Ordinary Serum Foundation in 1.1N, which doesn’t work too well for my skin in winter but looks beautifully natural in summer. To pair with this lighter base, I’ve really been enjoying Bourjois Radiance Reveal Concealer in Ivory. True to its name, it has a natural, radiant finish, but its peachy undertone does wonders in brightening up my dark undereye area. To give it a bit more coverage and lasting-power (and to make it a tad lighter), I usually mix in a little bit of Makeup Revolution Conceal and Define Concealer in C1. Mixing concealers is a new and slightly finnicky trick in my repertoire, but I can’t fault the results.

Here’s the Bourjois concealer on its own (on the right, obviously) for comparison’s sake:

When mixed with the Makeup Revolution concealer, it’s not quite as dewy as it appears in this picture. I do prefer that look slightly, but I think the results of Radiance Reveal on its own are lovely: natural, luminous, and surprisingly effective for such a comfortable, emollient, lightweight formula.

Back in May I used some Optimum points to pick up the Clinique Blush Pop in Peach Pop, my first taste of this well-loved formula. Though I find the clear plastic packaging a bit cheap-looking, I can’t deny that this is a beautiful buildable, long-lasting blush. Like a basic bitch, I love peach in the summer, so I’ve used this very frequently over the past few months. When I want a more vibrant blush, I use my trusty Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Diffused Heat, a lovely red-coral. Between those two blushes (well, and the always-appropriate Hourglass Mood Exposure, of course), I’ve scarcely touched anything else.

My eyelids eat cream formulas after the six-hour mark, and I always have the best results with powder shadow over a good primer. So colour me surprised that the Stila Shimmer and Glow Liquid Eyeshadows truly stay put on my eyes all day. In the heat of a humid Toronto summer, these shadows are quick and easy to apply and completely bulletproof. I picked up the shades Kitten (Stila’s classic champagne) and Jezebel (a rose gold) in May, and I’ve been using them… basically all the time. I do really like the Glitter and Glow shadows, too, but they’re a bit prone to fallout, while the high-impact, metallic Shimmer and Glows are not.

Here’s how Kitten looks on my eye, with a matte brown powder shadow in the crease:

And Jezebel, with some similar crease shadow action (and mascara smudges):

And a swatch gif, so you can see how beautiful these guys really are:

In the summer I gravitate towards my impossibly bright lipsticks, all of which are in the same basic colour family. Marc Jacobs So Sofia, a purchase made almost exactly a year ago as summer wound to a close, has seen a lot of use. So has Revlon Fire and Ice, a truly classic shade which lives its best life in the summer months. New-to-me is NARS Satin Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl, a shade popularized by Taylor Swift several years ago. In the wake of 1989 (which was a damn catchy pop album, sue me), I coveted the colour but could never pull the trigger; when a family friend gifted it to me last month, I was predictably ecstatic. On Swift, Dragon Girl is a bright, fiery red; on me, it’s noticeably more pink, though still as delightfully vibrant. Revlon ColorBurst Balm Stain in Romantic is a long, long, longtime favourite – it’s a beautiful sheer, warm red that’s never too much. (They still make this shade, too, though most of the Balm Stains are long gone.) After a long period of gravitating more towards neutral lipsticks, I’m back to my best self with my bold colours.

L-R: Marc Jacobs So Sofia, Revlon Fire and Ice, NARS Dragon Girl, Revlon Romantic

I arrived back in Canada at the end of May after eight months in the UK, and I found that my hands were suddenly very dry in this climate. Though I have a pretty dry face and very dry arms and legs, my hands have always self-regulated pretty well. But apparently the change in climate was too much, so I had to turn to The Chemistry Brand HA3 Hand Hydrator. This is a super effective, hyaluronic-based hand cream with a light whipped texture. The reason I like it enough to talk about on my blog is that it sinks in incredibly quickly without compromising its efficacy. I cannot stand feeling like there’s anything on my hands; I want to wash them immediately. A lot of hand creams are like nails on a chalkboard to me, but not this one. It also has a very peppy zesty scent which I enjoy.

I also really enjoy The Chemistry Brand Hyaluronic Body Mist for a hit of moisture between body lotion applications. It’s especially nice to have something so quick and easy to apply in the summer, when the heat can induce lethargy. Sometimes it seems altogether too much to rub cream all over my body, but a quick mist is within my capability. This product definitely isn’t a substitute for an actual body lotion (at least not for my dry skin!), but it’s a great interim product.

In the non-makeup realm, I would probably be dead without the Invisibobble knockoffs I got at Primark back in the winter. I’m growing out my blonde (as you have no doubt been able to surmise from my photos over the past year and a half), and I have a few months to go before I can chop it all off. My hair is longer than I like it, and since it’s very thick and abundant it’s just far too much to have on my neck in the summer. I’ve been putting it up in a high ponytail or topknot almost every day, and these little coiled hair ties do an amazing job at keeping my hair comfortably in place. I definitely don’t think you should pay for the brand name version, but if you can find cheap knockoffs they are great for keeping thick, unruly hair at bay.

And, before I go, one summery miss: Avène High Protection SPF50+ Emulsion. This sunscreen has a pleasant texture (if a bit thicker than other facial sunscreens by brands like La Roche-Posay and Vichy) and user-friendly packaging, and seems truly effective if my perpetually-fair face is anything to go by. Unfortunately, it leaves such a white cast. When I’m going to work this isn’t an issue as I put foundation on top anyway, but I often leave my house without makeup but still want to be protected from the sun. It’s a bummer, because I do like the product otherwise, and the pump/squeeze-tube hybrid packaging is always welcome in my home. When I’m out of this I’ll be looking to another brand for my face sunscreen needs.

And that’s what I’ve been putting on my face this summer! It’s a nice mixture of new discoveries and old favourites.