Top 18 of 2018

Posted on December 25, 2018 under Favourites

This will almost certainly be my last year structuring my favourites posts this way; I just don’t anticipate having nineteen favourites next year. But here are the eighteen items that brightened up my 2018. These products are presented in chronological order and encompass things I tried for the first time this year. (I cheated a little bit but it’s my blog and the rules are made entirely by me, so whatever.)

NYX Epic Ink Eyeliner

After four years of religiously buying the Stila liquid liner, I made the switch to NYX this year. I see virtually no differences between the two liners other than the price tag. Liners have the tendency to transfer on my lids, but this one stays put all day, which is 90% of what I care about. It’s also easy to apply, and one pen lasts a long time. (I can’t give a terribly accurate gauge of how long since I go through phases with liquid liner and haven’t used it too frequently this year.) NYX products nearly always disappoint me, but their liquid liners consistently impress.

Bite Beauty Custom Lipsticks

I really like the custom matte formula that Bite offers at their Lip Labs, and of course I’m in love with the burnt orange and vibrant magenta shades I got on a bitter day in January. I genuinely really like these lipsticks, but they’re also a favourite because of how fun the custom creation experience was. Definitely one of my most memorable Christmas presents from last year!

Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Creme in Strawberry Girl

This is a bit of a cheat: I incldued So Sofia in last year’s roundup, so Strawberry Girl wasn’t exactly a risky purchase. (Especially since my mom bought it for me on the last day of our month-long European adventure…) Of course I love this creamy, comfortable, longwearing formula and the sleek, substantial packaging. (It has a magnetic closure, guys!) But this muted-ish coral is new to my collection, and since I have nothing else like it I feel justified in calling special attention to it. After years of avoiding anything in the peach/coral/orange family, these are now some of my favourite colours to wear, and Strawberry Girl is complex and flattering. Here it is on my face:

Zoeva Luxe Petit Crease brush

This picture sucks because my DSLR wouldn’t focus on it so I had to use my phone.

Just so everyone is aware, Danish Sephoras carry Zoeva, and it’s a wonder I bought only this brush. But it’s fantastic – soft and comfortable to use, the perfect size and shape for delicate crease work. Brushes aren’t exactly the most exciting of beauty products, but judging by how much I reach for this it would be a glaring omission to exclude it from this list!

Stila Shimmer & Glow Liquid Eyeshadows – Jezebel and Kitten

There is nothing I don’t love about these shadows. They’re ridiculously shiny, they’re easy to apply and blend out, and they seriously do not budge. These shadows make it so easy to create a stunning, high-impact look with minimal effort or skill. I have a gif swatch of them in my summer favourites post in case you want to see how excellent they are. By the way, I love the original Glitter & Glow shadows, but those are definitely prone to a bit of fallout. Not so with these, which are truly gorgeous without any of the mess.

Clinique Cheek Pop – Peach Pop and Ginger Pop

Once again, I am supremely late to the party here, but that’s only because I have believed in the supremacy of the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blushes for so long. And they are still my favourite blush formula, and I still wear Mood Exposure basically every day, but there are limited shades in that formula and this year I wanted something new. The Clinique Cheek Pops are sheer and buildable and come in a nice array of tones – though clearly I’m leaning into warm tones. Peach Pop was practically all I wore this summer, and Ginger Pop is a nice burnt orange that I’ve been loving in the cooler weather. While I’m not a huge fan of the aesthetics of clear plastic packaging, I love how compact and easy to store these babies are.

The Chemistry Brand HA3 Hand Hydrator

I am very picky about hand creams because I absolutely cannot deal with the feeling of anything sticky on my hands. If it leaves a residue, I will not use it, which is why I have spent most of my life not using hand cream. This one sinks in so quickly and does a great job of hydrating. Bonus: I love the lemongrass scent!

NIOD Photography Fluid Opacity 12%

I basically don’t believe in primer. I’ve tried a lot that do not make my makeup last any longer than it would without, and I find a lot of illuminating primers lose their impact as soon as I put foundation on. But this one genuinely makes a difference even under a layer of foundation – it’s not intense by any means, but it leaves a gorgeous natural radiance. It can also be used as a liquid highlighter, though I prefer it as a primer.

NARS Velvet Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl

Another cheat, since I already love NARS Cruella. But I lusted after Dragon Girl for years until I received it as a very generous gift from a family friend. This vibrant strawberry red is pure fun and I wish I had a chance to wear it more often. (My current workplace is neutrals-only, sadly.)

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel in Malibu Peach

AHHH I cheated again! I almost exclusively buy the Miracle Gel formula because it works really well for me and there are a lot of great colours in the line. Malibu Peach is a fun, bright, modern peach that is outside of my usual comfort zone but no less great. For some reason I always get compliments when I wear this colour.

Here is a close-up to prove how bad I am at painting my nails.

Marcelle Translucent Loose Setting Powder

I am all about that loose powder life nowadays, and this one is both inexpensive, massive, and effective. Even in the dead of winter it doesn’t leave my skin looking parched – it has a gorgeous smoothing effect and sets makeup perfectly. I don’t always feel the need to powder, but when I’m using a more dewy foundation that doesn’t totally dry down I always use this. Marcelle is one of my favourite drugstore brands; they just do things right.

CoverGirl Super Sizer Mascara

The worst thing in the world happened this year, which is that Clarins discontinued their Truly Waterproof mascara, which in addition to holding a curl like no other also made my lashes long, defined, and perfectly fluttery. The reason is probably that I was the only person in the world who bought it, so it makes sense from a business perspective while still remaining personally devastating. I’m not going to say this CoverGirl mascara is as good: it’s a lot more volumizing than the Clarins, so it forfeits some of the effortless flutteriness. But it makes my lashes look good, and, crucially, it holds a curl better than basically any of the high end mascaras I’ve tried recently. I’m happy to keep using this mascara because the results are great and the price tag is right. (I got it on sale for $6.99, you guys. The Clarins was $28.)

Bite Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Verbena

I obviously took this photo with a potato.

As I mentioned, I tragically have to wear neutral makeup to work, so it’s always nice to find a neutral lipstick that’s still interesting. Verbena is just that: it’s described on Sephora as a “rose terracotta”, which is the perfect description of this layered, hard-to-pinpoint shade. I’ve never been one for nude lips, and I definitely prefer my neutrals more on the rosy brown side, so this is right up my alley. The hint of orange makes it interesting, but it’s still perfectly appropriate for work.

There is no light in Toronto at this time of year, but this picture is basically colour accurate.

Drybar 100 Proof Hair Oil

I have upped my haircare game and I now use one product daily, which is this hair oil. It makes my hair smooth and shiny and adds some hydration, since I now blow it dry a few times a week. A little goes a long way, so although this is not a cheap item, it’ll last me forever. (I also bought it during the Sephora sale, because I’m smart like that.)

First Aid Beauty Hello FAB Bendy Avocado Concealer

The hype about this concealer is so real: somehow it looks completely natural but still covers and brightens undereye circles amazingly. It’s comfortable on the skin, it’s pretty crease-resistant, and it wears well throughout the day. I’m kind of mad that I like it this much because it’s $28, but shit. This stuff is great.

NIOD Survival 30

$30 for 30ml of sunscreen is clearly expensive. But dammit if this isn’t the best facial sunscreen I’ve tried so far. I’ve used Vichy, I’ve used La Roche-Posay, I’ve used Avène, and this is the least-greasy, most-layerable of all. It doesn’t feel, smell, or look like sunscreen. I also love that it’s packed full of antioxidants for broad protection from free radical damage. The pump delivery system is great, too.

Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment With Avocado

What a luxurious, rich, truly hydrating eye cream. I can’t find fault with this product, other than its $39 price tag. The 15ml tub will last a long time since very little product makes a big impact, which is the only way I can justify this purchase. That said, while I truly love it, I will certainly be on the lookout for cheaper dupes.

Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment

Bougie and overpriced? Of course. But these tinted lip balms are absolutely stunning: they soothe and hydrate while giving the lips the illusion of fullness and a gorgeous hint of colour. I balk at spending a lot on something with minimal visual impact, but my lips thank me every time I apply one of these so I guess I can’t really be too upset.

2018 was not actually a huge year of makeup discovery for me, mostly because I reined in my spending quite a bit. The majority of my beauty spending was on old staples, but I did discover some new products that I’ve happily incorporated into my daily routine.

Months worth of decluttering packed into one convenient post

Posted on May 25, 2018 under Declutter

Yay, getting rid of things! I did a pretty thorough destash before I moved in September, but decluttering is a constant process and I have found even more that needs to leave my collection. I’m going to go ahead and say that in nine months I downsized my lipstick collection by almost 50%, and I am very proud of that. More on that in a bit…

First, a few things that I left behind in Toronto when I was there over Christmas – a relatively small purge which inspired a larger round.

First, the hideously bad Urban Decay All Nighter Foundation. I mean, hideously bad if you’re me and have dry skin and don’t like full coverage. If you like full coverage and have combo or oily skin, you might like this! It really did look like shit on me, though.

I absolutely fell in love with NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation back when I first bought it in November 2016 despite its trickiness. Over time, my skin started rejecting it, and I just found that it never looked flattering. I don’t think my skin got any dryer, but something definitely changed. It’s a shame, because it really was lovely, and I only used about 1/3 of the bottle. At least I bought it with Optimum points – I’d really hate to get rid of a $60 foundation that I spent real money on. My mom has informed me that she has taken the liberty of adopting this foundation and actually enjoys it, so I feel quite happy knowing that someone is getting my Optimum points’ worth.

The Seventeen Instant Glow Shimmer Brick is a really pretty rosy highlighter, but I’m trying to cull my highlighter collection. Ultimately it has to go because I rarely use powder highlighter and it’s just a bit more dramatic than I usually go for. It’s still a nice product, though – the Boots house brands do a great job.

ColourPop Ultra Blotted Lips in Split is just not my thing, as it turns out. The lack of staying power, finnicky application, and dryness on the lips are – shockingly – not a winning combination.

ColourPop Lippie Stix in Trixie was just never the colour I wanted it to be, and I found the formula too slippy for my tastes. ColourPop is just so frustrating – I’ve found a handful of really great, cost-effective products from them, but there are also a lot of duds amongst the impulse purchases I threw into my cart to meet the $50 free shipping minimum. It’s probably not worth all the wasted money and product for the few good things. Ultimately, I think I have to break up with ColourPop.

Buxom Plumpline Lip Liner in Mystery* is a really pretty plum that’s just a bit too patchy to be workable. Let’s be real – I have plenty of lipstick, there’s no use holding onto stuff that’s not quite right when I could be wearing formulas and colours I absolutely love. Out of the six of these lip pencils that Buxom sent me back in 2016, I now only have two – but I wear them constantly. That’s a lot better than having four that I neglect and two that I wear.

Lastly, the Revlon PhotoReady Eye Art 2-in-1 Cream Eyeshadow and Sparkle just never worked for me. I love my Stila and Urban Decay liquid eyeshadows, so those are the ones I’ll continue to use. I meant to do a full review of the Revlon ones, but suffice to say they’re thick and sticky to the point of being downright uncomfortable.

When I got back to Glasgow, I was in a decluttering mood, and over the past few months I’ve been combing through my collection, trying out things that had been gathering dust, and tossing more items into my declutter pile.

Some highlighters had to go! Kiko Radiant Touch Creamy Stick Highlighter is pretty, but I’ll always prefer the Glossier Haloscope in Quartz. While I do very much enjoy the formula and wow factor of the Makeup Revolution Liquid Highlighter in Starlight, realistically I’ll get far more wear out of my subtler highlighters. I was enchanted with the Hourglass Ambient Strobe Lighting Powder in Iridescent when I first got it, but I really do prefer cream and liquid highlights these days. This is a very pretty product and it looks practically untouched, so it’ll be nice to pass it on to a friend who will enjoy it more than I do!

I have finally accepted that I don’t wear bronzer, so it’s bye-bye to the Physician’s Formula Butter Bronzer in Light Bronzer. I got this last winter and wore it, like, two times in the summer, and now that we’ve made it through yet another winter and it remains pretty much untouched… it’s time to admit defeat. I find the tone of this a bit too orange for my liking. The Body Shop Honey Bronzer is actually a great tone for me, and if I ever want to dip my toes back into the bronzer world again I’ll repurchase that. But I think for now I will live a bronzer-free life.

The Body Shop Shade Adjusting Drops were passed on from Aisling, but none of the foundations currently in my stash require adjusting and I don’t tend to purchase foundations that I won’t be able to use straight out of the bottle. Speaking of mismatched shades, I really liked the formula of the PS… My Perfect Colour Concealer in Nude Beige, but it was not, in fact, my perfect colour.

Lots of liquid lipsticks that are out the door today! Time to say goodbye to Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipsticks in Fiore, Aria, Viola, and Beso. The first two are goners because they’re too old (though Aria is still one of the prettiest colours ever – you can kind of see it in this ancient post). Viola was just never that flattering on me, and I prefer NARS Annabella over Stila Beso if we’re talking warm reds. Other casualties were ColourPop Ultra Matte Lips in Tuesday and Lychee and Wet N Wild Liquid Catsuit in Nice to Fuchsia. Tuesday was an obvious candidate for eradication; Lychee was yet another dud in my years-long attempt to find my perfect lilac; Nice to Fuchsia was a hype-fuelled purchase in a Kentucky Walmart that I just never fell in love with.

I have declared this many many times, but I am finally ready to officially and truthfully state that I am over liquid lipsticks. I’m not even going to say “burn my house to the ground if you see me buying another liquid lipstick,” because I don’t need any incentive other than the thought of my lips shrivelling up and dying. Also because arson is illegal so I will not encourage that behaviour. The only liquid lipsticks I have left are ColourPop Dr. M (because it is a very special colour), Stila Chianti (because I haven’t found a bullet lipstick alternative to it yet), and my two Lancôme Matte Shakers* (because they don’t look, feel, or wear like liquid lipsticks).

Other lip products that had to go: Rimmel Lasting Finish by Kate Moss in 017 (featured here – old; not my most flattering colour); Lise Watier Rouge Gourmand Velours in Cake Pop (featured here – four years old and not something I wear very often); Bite Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Beetroot (mini – I’m not a huge wearer of deep reds and I prefer something a bit longer-wearing for such a dramatic colour); Maybelline Color Drama Lip Pencil in Keep It Classy (too similar to other neutrals I own, though the formula is lovely).

I also got rid of that Primark glitter lip kit that made me look ill and hurt my lips, for obvious reasons.

That’s thirteen lipsticks gone in this post in addition to the twenty-four I decluttered this past summer. When I did my lipstick inventory in August, I had an overwhelming seventy lipsticks. So I have managed to reduce it by just about bang-on fifty percent, with a total of thirty-seven lipsticks in my collection. It hasn’t been this small in years! I honestly wasn’t even aiming for this; I was just throwing things I didn’t like into a declutter box for months until I suddenly realized I’d halved my collection. I didn’t wear a lot of makeup this past school year because I was only on campus three days a week and I didn’t feel like doing fancy/exciting makeup most of the time anyway. I think that made it a lot easier to get rid of things, because when I was wearing makeup at least 40% less frequently than I had been, I wanted to use things I really, truly loved on the days that I did. That meant chucking a lot of things that I only wore when I remembered about them and keeping the things that I really love. Thirty-seven lipsticks is still more than a human actually needs, but my collection has been hovering at fifty (or more…) since at least 2015. I’m not going to use this declutter as an excuse to buy 15 more lipsticks, but ridding my collection of the dead weight does give me a bit of breathing room to carefully select a new product here and there, as I did when I got a new Marc Jacobs lipstick in Copenhagen this month.

Eye things: Bella Pierre Shimmer Powder in Snowflake is a very pretty sheer white shadow, but do you think I have the patience to mess around with a loose eyeshadow? No. Of course I don’t. Urban Decay Troublemaker Mascara frustrated me with its underwhelmingness.

A few truly random things: The Body Shop Sparkler All Over Shimmer, because I have no opportunity in my life to wear body glitter. Superdrug Naturally Radiant 5% Glycolic Acid, because I bought it out of desperation and I prefer an 8% glycolic that doesn’t smell weird. The Real Techniques Essential Foundation Brush is certainly not essential to me. I have highlighter brushes that I prefer to bdellium tools 944.

Recently I’ve been reflecting on minimalism and decluttering. I’ve reduced my makeup purchasing significantly in 2018 (like, the only makeup products I’ve purchased – as opposed to received as a gift – are a £4 concealer in March and an £8.99 tube of mascara in April). That said, I don’t think this extremely low level of buying is going to continue on forever. I’ve come a long way in reducing my consumerist tendencies and impulse purchases, but I’m not naïve enough to think that I’m done buying makeup forever. Inevitably, I get rid of a lot of things. And I think that’s okay! A lot of these products are things that I’ve had and used for years, that I’ve managed to get a lot of mileage out of but that aren’t right for me anymore. I don’t think it’s horrific that I didn’t actually finish up my tube of Rimmel lipstick, because I used it frequently for at least four years and I got my $6.99’s worth out of it for sure. And products that I didn’t get a lot of use out of – like ColourPop Tuesday – we can chalk up to learning experiences.

I like to have a diverse makeup collection because it’s fun to try new things and to have options. But I also like to feel like everything I have is being used. So if I’m going to keep buying new makeup, I will also continue to declutter, so that my collection remains within that sweet spot. When my makeup collection first swelled to a size that I found unmanageable, I thought I could perform one big cull and be done with it. But that’s definitely not the case – as long as I’m buying new things, old things will have to leave my collection. I don’t tend to sit down and pick through my collection all at once, either. Instead, I use something, realize I don’t like it much, and throw it into a box. When the box gets full, I do a blog post and let my friends go through everything. This might be the last declutter post on here for some time since I’ve definitely trimmed the fat, but you can bank on seeing another one at some point. That’s just the nature of the beast.

By the way, I’m moving back to Toronto tomorrow, so wish me luck hauling 3 suitcases and a backpack across the world!

Lipstick Collection: Peaches, Oranges, and Corals

Posted on May 18, 2018 under Reviews

Though I have a lot of lipsticks in this grouping of categories, I find peaches, oranges, and corals really tricky. The tones have to be just right. For a long time, I ignored these categories in favour of those that I could more easily wear – namely, fuchsias, reds, and berries. But once the floodgates were opened, I realized that colours in these categories are actually some of my all-time favourites – I just have to really pay attention to undertone and depth of shade.

As always, comparison arm swatches can be found in my big lipstick inventory post.

My bare lips, for posterity:

ColourPop Blotted Lips in Sucker

This is a bright borderline neon peach, which sounds like my worst nightmare. Because it’s sheer, I actually think it’s a really pretty colour, but I find it looks best when I go a little heavier on the blush and eye makeup. I really like the Blotted Lips formula – though I don’t generally go for sheerer lip colours, the sheer matte finish appeals to me. This is a comfortable formula which fades evenly, which I think is all you can ask of anything sheer. I will note that this can photograph a bit strangely, especially from afar – I have a few tourist pictures in Northern Ireland where I look very washed out because this colour is weird on camera. These pictures do accurately portray how it looks on me, though.

NARS Audacious Lipstick in Brigitte

Ahh, my perfect peach! This colour has the tiniest hint of brown that makes it very wearable for me. (Although that brown mostly comes across in swatches and not so much on my lips!) This lipstick goes with so much and it’s one of my go-to respectable lady colours. And, of course, the Audacious formula is pretty much unparalleled. I lost my original tube of Brigitte to the depths of a rental car in late 2016, and I misplaced my current tube for a few months, so that’s why this picture was taken on a different day – I had just unearthed it from a backpack I never use. If it had eluded me forever, I probably would have spent Optimum points on it a third time. That’s how much I love this colour.

Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Crème in Strawberry Girl

This lipstick is the newest to my collection. On the last day of our trip, in Copenhagen, my mom offered to treat me to something from the Sephora that was half a block away from our Airbnb. I ended up selecting the recently-launched Strawberry Girl, which I see as Brigitte’s old sister. It’s not the easiest colour to describe, but I think “muted coral” probably comes the closest to getting at its red, orange, and brown tones. I love this formula: it’s creamy and rich but not heavy, and it lasts pretty well, although the wear time on this particular shade is not as great as So Sofia (which I’ll get to in a moment!) or even to the Kiss Kiss Bang Bang mini that will be featuring in an upcoming empties post. I’m not sure that this is my best shade, either, but I still like it on myself. Its muted dustiness reminds me of the pinky-browny shades I buy in bulk, but the warmth takes it in a different direction.

ColourPop Blotted Lips in Candyfloss

After hating and avoiding orange lipstick forever, 2017 was the year that I embraced a good earthy orange. Candyfloss is a gorgeous terracotta. Though it’s an unusual shade, I find that it’s pretty good for casual situations; I don’t feel like I’m making a huge statement when I wear it, because it’s muted. It wears down to appear a bit more peach, too, so it’s quite versatile. It’s my favourite of all the Blotted Lips I have – the colour is glorious and it applies and wears the most evenly.

Buxom Plumpline Lip Liner in Covert Affair*

I’m pretty confident in saying that this was my most-worn non-neutral lip colour of 2017. This burnt orange is just so damn flattering. I’m really glad Buxom sent this along because I never would have fallen in love with this type of earthy orange otherwise. I actually think burnt orange is one of the ugliest colours on the planet in general, but I love it on my face. Go figure! Anyway, these lip pencils have a really comfortable formula that wears well. This is probably the most colour-accurate photo I’ve managed to get of this shade – usually it shows up very red, but I think the red in my top helps bring out the orange and brown tones more clearly here.

Bite Beauty Matte Lipstick in Custom Colour

This is a very bright reddy-orange. I don’t know that it’s quite a burnt orange since it’s so vibrant, but it’s definitely some sort of orange rather than red. (This is another one that’s tricky to photograph, but these pictures are pretty accurate, though they might read a bit more red on your screen.) Once again I’m shocked that I not only willingly put anything orange on my face but that I actually chose to have this colour custom-made. Again, I really enjoy the Bite matte formula – it’s nowhere close to a true matte, as you can clearly see, but it’s comfortable without being slippery (an issue I have with the Amuse Bouche formula). If they put out off-the-rack lipsticks in this formula I’d definitely hand over my money.

ColourPop Blotted Lips in On A Stick

A more recent lipstick colour fixation has been a good old reddy coral. On A Stick is the casual option, though it can be built up to near-opacity if you’re really looking for a punch of colour. For whatever reason I do find this makes my lips drier than the other Blotted Lips colours I have, but it’s nothing egregious.

Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Creme in So Sofia

Old pictures ’cause they’re the most colour accurate.

I probably sang this lipstick’s praises enough in the nearly-1500 word blog post I wrote about it. The formula is incredible and the colour is the best thing ever. Like, there are plenty of lipsticks that look good on me, or that I can’t really object to one way or another. But this lipstick actively looks good on me. I spent literal years searching for this exact shade of no-bullshit, in-your-face, so-damn-loud coral, and finally I have it. I treasure this lipstick.

Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Fire and Ice

This was an impulse purchase added to a basket when I was spending Optimum points and was a few dollars short of my threshold. And goddammit, I don’t think I’ve ever made a better impulse purchase. I mean, it’s not that this formula is so incredible, because it’s not. It’s a decent cream lipstick formula – nothing to complain about, nothing to rave about. But this bright reddish coral is everything. It’s a bit of a chameleon; here it looks more pink, but sometimes it appears a lot more orangey on me. I haven’t worn in it some time since the gloomy winter weather has had me leaning towards more muted colours, but now that it’s finally warm out it will be back in my rotation.

ColourPop Ultra Matte Lips in Tuesday

This vibrant red-coral is no doubt a beautiful colour. It’s a slightly more serious coral than something like So Sofia, but it’s still fun. Unfortunately, I am not only over liquid lipsticks as a whole, I am especially over this particular formula. I would describe how it feels on my lips, but I think the photo above does a pretty good job of that. I mean… no.

As I was taking these photos, I was struck by how much I genuinely love all of these colours. It’s been quite a sudden transformation from someone who hated anything that remotely hinted at orange to a devotee of a good coral or earthy orange. I guess opening your mind can be a good thing. Who knew?!