Posted on May 17, 2017 under Reviews
I’ve been blonde again for two months now, after a two-month flirtation with red. The red was never quite right: it took much better to my roots than to my bleached lengths, so I had a vibrant auburn that faded into a slightly watery brownish-red. And I just don’t like myself as a redhead; as soon as I went back to blonde I felt like myself again.
Of course, being blonde involves a lot of damage to the hair. This time around, my hair had had enough. For weeks I smothered it in every deep conditioner and hair mask known to man, I soaked it in argan oil, I force-fed it enough protein to keep an army going – and still it was dry, brittle, and hideous.
Olaplex has been getting a lot of hype in the beauty community for awhile now. Despite seeming on the surface like a perfect candidate for the treatments, I’ve been ignoring it since I heard about it because the price tag isn’t exactly negligible. But with my extremely damaged hair, I had to go for the big guns. I had to drop 30 bucks on a 100mL bottle of Olaplex 3.
In case you haven’t heard of Olaplex, it’s a 3-step system that helps to actually repair the damaged and weakened bonds in your hair. Step 1 and 2 are salon-grade: Step 1 would be mixed into any chemical treatments (such as bleach or toner) and step 2 would be applied afterwards. Step 3 is a diluted version of step 2 and is meant to be used at home, between salon treatments. Since I do my own hair colour and since Step 1 and Step 2 are only available to professionals, I only use Step 3.
Step 3 is not a conditioner; it doesn’t add any extra moisture to your hair. You’d apply it after shampooing, leave it on your head for at least 10 minutes, and then rinse it out and finish with conditioner or a hair mask. Personally I’ve had the best results using it as an overnight mask and washing it out in the morning. I’m not a daily hair-washer, so this feels like a bit of a chore to me, but it’s only once a week so it’s not too bad. Plus, in a time crunch, I’ve found that I can go about my day without washing the Olaplex out, though my hair gets oily faster.
So, is Olaplex worth it? Well, having used Olaplex 3 weekly since the end of March, I’m going to have to go with yes. When I first went back to blonde my hair was as damaged as I’d ever seen it. Usually after I chemically process it, it’ll be pretty dry for a bit, but I can always nurse it back to health with hair masks. However, nothing was cutting it this time – no matter how many hair masks I used or how much oil I applied, it was still crunchy, straw-like, and almost impossible to brush through. I had to wear it up or in braids every day to hide the damage. In fact, let me show you how gross it was:
This was after applying a generous helping of argan oil, and you can still see how dull and dead it looks.
With my first Olaplex treatment, I left it in for 20 minutes and washed it out, then followed up with conditioner. My hair felt better afterwards, but not significantly so. However, each time I’ve used it subsequently I’ve applied it from roots to tips, brushed it through to evenly distribute the product, waited about 20 minutes, and applied another (smaller) amount, then kept it in overnight. That’s where I started seeing results. Here’s my hair after my initial short treatment and two overnight ones:
I still think it appears damaged, though it’s obviously a significant improvement which I attribute entirely to Olaplex.
And here it is yesterday, six treatments in:
You can clearly see how improved it is. It also feels so much healthier and stronger. Not only is it smooth to the touch, when wet it’s not as elastic-y as it used to be. After I bleached it again in mid-March, every time it was wet it was stringy and stretchy. Now it has regular wet hair texture. Obviously, between the last set of pictures and this one I took off several inches, and a lot of the most damaged parts were cut out. But Olaplex has certainly improved the health of my hair by a significant amount. (By the way, I did go a slightly darker blonde, but the difference in colour is mostly due to lighting!)
I think that with Olaplex there does come a point of diminished return – that is, you can only get your hair so healthy, especially when it’s hair that has sustained three years of DIY bleach damage. My hair is not in the same condition that it was pre-bleach, and I don’t know that it ever will be. But Olaplex has restored a lot of health to my hair, and it looks and feels much better than it has in about two years, which is when I first started to experience noticeable effects of bleach damage. I’ll continue to use it because it certainly can’t hurt; though I don’t think I’ll continue to see massive improvements in the wellbeing of my hair at this point, it’ll be good for maintenance at the very least.
Now, $30 for 100mL (3.4 fl oz) does seem steep. For some reason I’m happy to spend $50 on a foundation, but any hair product that costs more than $10 is a stretch for me. This is silly; if I’m going to chemically process my hair to the extreme I should be willing to put some money into its care and maintenance. And when you break it down, Olaplex 3 treatments are weekly, so it’s not like I’m going to go through this little bottle in a month. Is it still pricey for how much product you get? Yes, of course. But is it worth it to repair traumatized hair? I think so. The fact is, being platinum blonde long-term requires special care. I keep saying I’m going to stop being blonde soon as it’s so bad for my hair, but perhaps Olaplex will allow me to continue on this path for awhile yet…
It’s that time of year again, folks! As always, my 2016 favourites post is made up of products that I personally discovered in 2016, though to my knowledge few of these actually launched this year. I’m behind the times like that. I also didn’t necessarily mention all of these on my blog, because I’m a bad beauty blogger, but I will link to relevant posts when possible. Finally, I didn’t choose one product per category or anything like that; I simply chose my sixteen favourite products from this year, period, so you may see overrepresentation in some areas.
I made no mention of this product on my blog, but I’ve been loving the Marcelle Ultra Gentle Cleansing Gel for several months now. This stuff works as both a cleanser and makeup remover and is really effective without drying out the skin. It’s also super cost effective at $12.95 for 350mL. It’s also paraben-, perfume-, soap-, and oil-free. It’s one of those products that is basic and boring (hence why I haven’t written about it) but that works. A Canadian gem to be sure!
This year I was loving about a million different La Roche-Posay products. Chief among them was the Toleriane Riche Soothing Protective Cream, a thick but not greasy moisturizer that’s great for my dry skin. It sinks in quickly despite its thickness and sits well under makeup. Plus, it’s formulated for the most sensitive skin. Also from La Roche-Posay, I was very happy to discover their Respectissime Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover, which I found just as effective as my beloved Lancôme Bi-Facil at half the cost. Again, it’s great for sensitive eyes, too. If you want a gentle but effective remover for waterproof makeup, this stuff is the bomb, and it doesn’t break the bank.
Unsurprisingly, my haircare picks this year both have to do with maintaining that perfect platinum blonde. I’ve been using Manic Panic Ultra-Violet to DIY my own toner and I love that it’s effective, gentle, and super cheap. (I still have 95% of the $15 tub left, whereas my Wella T18 toner was running me $10 every 6-8 weeks.)
I’ve tried a lot of purple shampoos in my time, so colour me surprised when I discovered that the best one costs $8.99 for half a litre at the drugstore. Yes, I’m fully willing to say it: Light Blue Shade Original Shampoo is the best purple shampoo I’ve tried. It keeps my hair light and cool far longer than anything else has; I now only use toner when I do my roots, and the purple shampoo keeps everything looking good until the next time I tone, about 2 months later. And for that prize and amount, it’s damn good value.
I really went back and forth when choosing a foundation to feature in this post; I do love the ease of MUFE Ultra HD, but ultimately the finish and wear of NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation brought it to the forefront. I actually don’t think this foundation is perfect, as I detail in my full review of it. But I love it despite its fussiness, and in my heart of hearts I know it’s one of my favourite products from 2016.
I had two highlighter loves this year: Hourglass Ambient Strobe Lighting Powder in Iridescent and Glossier Haloscope in Quartz. I’m actually not a “highlighter everyday” kind of gal, but these both work for me in different ways. The Hourglass highlighter is quite subtle and has a beautiful peachy-pink sheen which I found I’ve been enjoying lately as an alternative to the usual champagne highlighter suspects. It’s not that I don’t love my Becca SSP in Moonstone, because I do, but I like that the Hourglass gives me a different colour option and something a bit more subtle. It’s candlelit instead of blinding, which I’m moving towards now that I’m feeling a bit of highlighter overload from the YouTube/Instagram stars who seem to go through a Becca highlighter every other week.
The Glossier Halsocope is a product that I didn’t know I needed until I won it in Renee‘s giveaway, and now I don’t know what I’d do without it! It looks gorgeous on the skin – like a glaze, in the most appealing way possible – and is a dream to work with as it can be applied straight from the stick and blended out in seconds with fingertips. Because it’s so easy and quick to use, I find myself drawn to it. I’m just not willing to put in a lot of effort when it comes to highlighter, because it’s not a must-have for me.
On the other hand, I do always love a good blush, and this year NARS Blush in Sin stole the show. I don’t necessarily think the NARS blushes are the best on the market (we all know which ones are my favourites), but the formula is certainly solid and the colour of Sin is stunning: a cool plum with flecks of gold. It’s unlike anything I have and I find myself reaching for it constantly.
Swatches of Glossier Haloscope in Quartz, Hourglass Ambient Strobe Lighting Powder in Iridescent, and NARS Blush in Sin.
The Kat Von D Shade and Light Eye Contour Palette is the matte shadow palette of my dreams. The colours are varied and versatile; the palette can be used as a standalone to create a whole host of looks, or it can be used to complement palettes that are missing good mattes. The quality is also undeniably there. Say what you will about the face of the brand – you can’t argue with quality. (… Although I do have plenty I could say about KVD herself!)
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the NARS Dual Intensity Eyeshadows are iridescent, shimmery beauties. The silver-pink Callisto is definitely my favourite of the whole range, but I also have a purple-leaning burgundy called Desdemona which is stunning as well. (And layered they’re beautiful, too.) These are a great option for lovers of high-impact shimmery eyeshadow.
Finally, I can’t not mention my Clarins Truly Waterproof Mascara. I feel like I’m beating a dead horse at this point, but I absolutely loved the definition and length this mascara gave me. I’ve adjusted to the one I’m currently using, but Truly Waterproof is the winner of 2016 for sure.
First thing’s first: a good base is necessary for lip products to go on top of. Nuxe Rêve de Miel Lip Balm is an incredible, thick overnight lip balm that truly works. Now that we’re decidedly into winter, I need it more than ever, but it was an everyday product for me year-round.
The NARS Audacious Lipsticks were a momentous discovery for me in 2016. The formula just works so well for me: they make my lips look good, are comfortable, and wear well. And the colour range is phenomenal. The two I have, Brigitte and Audrey, get a lot of wear. Far in a way the best traditional bullet lipstick formula I tried in 2016!
Mentioning Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Chianti may be cheating, as I’ve been a fan of the Stay All Day formula since 2014. But it’s the colour of Chianti that is so stunning: it’s an incredibly dark, almost black purple. It’s dramatic and dreamy. It’s absolutely one of my favourite purchases of this year.
Another dark liquid lipstick love is the ColourPop Ultra Satin Lips in Prim. I was really impressed with the comfort, smoothness, and wear of the Ultra Satins, and I’m particularly into Prim, which is a hybrid between a brown and a berry. I find liquid lipsticks that don’t fully dry down to be pretty hit and miss, but this is a good one.
Swatches of NARS Audacious Lipsticks in Brigitte and Audrey, ColourPop Ultra Satin Lips in Prim, and Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Chianti.
Whew! Sixteen products to end out 2016. Did you spot any of your favourites on this list?
It’s almost September, and that kind of means nothing to me. For the first time since I can remember, I’m not going back to school this week. I’m actually pretty bummed about it, but this time next year I will either be gearing up to move to Scotland or recently arrived, so I guess it’ll all be okay in the end.
Technically summer is not actually over for another few weeks, but I can’t help but see the end of August as the end of the season, since I’ve always started school in early September. So this seemed like an appropriate time to share with you my summer beauty favourites.
I believe I’ve mentioned in passing a few times my love for Revlon Nearly Naked foundation. It had light-to-medium coverage, a lightweight consistency, and a really great natural finish. I much preferred it to its thick, full coverage cousin Revlon ColorStay. I was devastated when NN was discontinued. The much-hyped MUFE Ultra HD reminds me a lot Nearly Naked. It has pretty good coverage but still looks natural; it’s lightweight and watery compared to foundations like, say, Rimmel Lasting Finish, and I like how it looks on my skin.
The real winner, though, is the combination of MUFE Ultra HD and the Real Techniques Stippling Brush. I had one I liked using to apply pigmented blushes, and decided to get another one for foundation. I’ve spent the last year applying foundation with my fingers, and before that was a devout knockoff Beauty Blender user. But I love the way this brush applies this particular foundation. It doesn’t go on too thick, and it’s super easy and quick to blend it all out with stippling motions. I do like this foundation with the RT Buffing Brush too, but there’s just something about the finish I get with the Stippling Brush that I truly love.
I recently won the Glossier Haloscape in Quartz in Renee‘s giveaway. I was pretty jazzed about this because a) winning things is nice, and b) Glossier doesn’t ship to Canada (yet). Like many others, I’m not a massive fan of Glossier’s cool-girl branding, but I have been curious about some of the products thanks to all the hype. I’m not sure if there’s anything else I’d purchase myself if and when they do open up their international shipping, but I’m so glad I have the Haloscope.
I spent August 5 to 21 in front of my television whenever I wasn’t sleeping or working. I’m really serious about the Olympics. I actually packed a makeup bag full of stuff to keep in my living room so that I could get ready for work without leaving the television. As such, I used the Haloscape every day that I put on makeup. This is the product that has made me realize that cream is my favourite format for highlighter. It’s just so easy to swipe on (straight from the tube) and blend out with a few taps. And, I mean, the glow is real:
So real that I just assumed it would distract you from that zit, and declined to photoshop it out.
Highlighter is one of those options that I could take or leave, so I love having a product that is easy to apply, requires no brushes, and makes a huge impact.
I will admit that I’m not a huge fan of Kat Von D the human. (Although, let’s be real, her video about Jeffree Star was incredibly satisfying to watch.) And if the UD Naked Ultimate Basics had been announced six weeks later, I would have bought that. But instead I bought the Kat Von D Shade & Light Eye Contour Palette, because lately I’ve been very into mattes for the first time in my life, and I don’t regret it for a second. These eyeshadows are every bit as high quality as everyone says, and I love all the colours on my skintone. The middle of those larger pans is the perfect subtle contour shade for me. I also love the large pan on the right. That peach shade is great for blending out around the edges. And of course, the deep rusty shade is stunning. I honestly think that between this palette and my LORAC Pro, I could probably be set for neutral eyeshadows. However, I will continue to own many unnecessary palettes because I want to.
I bought NARS Dual Intensity Eyeshadow in Callisto at the end of May, and I absolutely love it. It’s a silvery pink eyeshadow with the most ridiculous shine. Seriously, you need to see it in motion to understand:
The whole point of the Dual Intensity shadows is that you can use them wet or dry. I personally have not tried Callisto wet, because I can’t imagine it looking even more amazing than it does dry. One day I will test this thesis. One day I will also use it as a highlighter and probably have my mind blown.
There’s nothing like a good eyelash curler to make your lashes look amazing, is there? I’m glad I dropped the big bucks on this Tweezerman Classic Lash Curler, because it curls my lashes much more effectively than the cheapy Walmart brand one I’d been using previously. And Clarins Truly Waterproof Mascara has been my go-to. Waterproof mascara isn’t my usual bag, but it’s nice when I’m hot and sweaty, and I adore what it does for my lashes:
I’ve always been into length over volume, and this is probably the best lengthening mascara I’ve ever used. It may have even dethroned the original Lancôme Hypnôse for my favourite absurdly expensive mascara that I would in no way ever spend actual money on. (Truly Waterproof was a gift from a friend.)
Its wand is quite standard, like so:
Generally I go for cool lipstick colours because I like them better on myself. But this summer my two favourite lip colours are quite warm. The first is NARS Audacious Lipstick in Brigitte, which is the first peach I’ve ever truly liked on myself. It’s a bit deeper – peaches with white bases are absolute no-gos for me – and has just a hint of brown. It was my go-to neutral colour this summer. I like the formula, too: I didn’t find it overly drying, and it lasted well. I’m not sure that it’s worth $39, but I bought it with Optimum points so I don’t really care anyway. (My one very pedantic criticism is that I always think of Brigitte Bardot with more of a pale nude lip than a deeper warm peach, but I found a lot of pictures of her wearing peach lipstick, so I will eat my words.)
When I wanted a bit more colour, I pulled out an old favourite: Revlon Balm Stain in Romantic, a sheer, warm red. I don’t think they even make this colour anymore. I bought it way back at the beginning of my interest in makeup – at the time I couldn’t have had more than 5 lip colours total. The few times I’ve tried to make opaque warm reds work on myself, I have hated them and given them away. But there’s something about the sheerness and slight shine of Romantic that I really like, and that gets me compliments every time I wear it.
Brigitte is on the left in this picture; Romantic is on the right. They actually look really similar in this swatch; in real life Brigitte is more peach and Romantic is more red. But you can see that I really knew what I liked this summer!
I used to have incredibly strong, thick, unbendable nails. Around two years ago, they started peeling. I’m not sure if this had to do with the fact that I stopped drinking like 75 litres of milk a day around that time, or because I started a job that required using my hands a lot around that time, or something else entirely. Witchcraft Be Strong Protein Hardener is a base coat that has really helped cut the peeling down. As for specific nail colours, I’m loving Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Rosy Outlook, Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear in Pacific Blue (though I’m having to ration it since I only have two bottles left), Sally Hansen Miracle Gel in Sugar Fix, Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Barracuda, and Barry M Gelly Hi-Shine in Kiwi. These are some of my favourite nail polish colours ever, come to think of it. Also, I really like blue. And Sally Hansen.
Light Blue Shade is the best blonde shampoo I’ve ever tried, and it’s under $10 Canadian. Contrary to its name, it’s actually a deep purple, and it’s incredibly effective at fighting brassiness. Normally my hair will take on some yellow after some time without toner has elapsed, even with a purple shampoo. Here, compare a picture of my hair somewhere between toning cycles using another shampoo with my hair today:
The last time I did my roots and toned my hair was approximately 5 weeks ago, so we’re halfway through my usual cycle and still this platinum. And that’s using my DIY Manic Panic concoction instead of a more potent developer-based toner. Needless to say, I love this stuff a stupid amount.
And that is it for my summer favourites! I hope you all had a great summer and that if you’re embarking on a new school year it goes well for you.