I wonder if any of you can relate to the consumerist cycle I often find myself in. Once upon a time, my big makeup vice was lipstick. I’d still consider myself first and foremost a lipstick lover, but I hit a certain point where I had so much lipstick that my acquisition really tapered off. Then, my attention naturally shifted towards blush, and I began to accumulate a lot of that. I’ve cycled through a few product categories that get all my attention (and dollars). It’s like I need something to be interested in makeup-wise, and when I max out one category I naturally meander on over to another. I’ve gone through all the interesting categories and I’ve wound up at foundation, currently. But let’s talk about blush today instead, because I love blush a lot more than foundation.
Clearly, when it comes to blush I am a brand snob. At this point I only own two drugstore blush products, and both are from Sleek. I do really enjoy blush, but at this point I don’t feel the need to bring more into my life. The last time I purchased a new blush was 11 months ago and I haven’t felt any urge to expand my collection since then. A gal can only go through so many blushes in her lifetime, and let’s be honest – once they’re on our faces, a lot of the apparent differences all but disappear.
I’ve arranged these by colour family, and I did this by using the very scientific process of “sort according to the colour in the pan”. You’ll see that some of these straddle multiple categories or might fit better in a different one than I’ve put it in, but I think we will survive my shortcomings.
By the way, I’ve slightly underexposed the swatch photos because I think the colour accuracy is a bit better when I do that.
First up, some of my peachy blushes!
Sleek Blush by 3 Palette in Lace
Sleek blushes are very, very nice, and if you live in a place where you can saunter on down to the drugstore and buy one then you should consider yourself very lucky. Some of us have to have to order them online like savages.
The Blush by 3 palette was a Christmas 2013 present from Aisling. I requested it because I was in a phase where I only watched British YouTubers and everyone talked about Sleek all the time. (Uh, does that really obviously date that phase in my life to 2013?) I use the middle shade in the palette, Guipure, the most. Actually, it’s the only shade I really use at all. I don’t normally go for shimmery blush, but this one gives a beautiful glow: just check out the swatch below! The two matte shades are so pigmented that they easily verge on clownish on my skintone, and I definitely would not normally wear straight up orange blush anyway. I take a pretty firm anti-orange stance on most things, generally.
Chanel Sunkiss Ribbon Harmonie de Blush
This late 2015/early 2016 LE blush was one of my absurd Optimum points luxury purchases. You know how it is, or maybe you don’t because you’re a better person than me. I’m not really sure what compelled me to buy it, because I’ve never been interested in Chanel makeup and prefer cool-toned makeup most of the time. As with most multi-tone products, I apply this by swirling my brush around the entire pan, which generally gives me a peachy glow. Sometimes it leans pinker and sometimes it leans more orange depending on what exactly my brush picks up. It’s quite sheer, which I find delightfully user-friendly, and the end result is always pretty. But is it worth $70 CAD? Absolutely not!
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Luminous Flush
It’s funny, swatched next to all of these blushes Luminous Flush appears quite pink, but on my cheeks it definitely reads as peach. This is easily my second favourite of my Hourglass blushes, which, as you may know, are my all-time favourite blush formula. In the summer I probably use this blush 2-3 times a week, which is pretty high proportionally.
L-R: Sleek Crochet, Sleek Guipure, Sleek Chantilly, Chanel Sunkiss Ribbon, Hourglass Luminous Flush
These are my two neutral, go-to blushes appropriate for pretty much any occasion.
Benefit Boxed Powder in Hervana
Benefit seems to be a rather polarizing brand: I know people who swear by the line as a whole and who love the kitschy aesthetic, but I’ve read a lot of backlash against the brand for having subpar products masked by cute packaging. Personally I’m not wowed by Benefit overall, but other than my arch-nemesis They’re Real! mascara (which I’ve mentioned so many times that I’m sure you are all aware of how much I despise it) I’ve never had a dud product from the brand. I’ve had several Benefit blushes in the past, but destashed most due to the bulky packaging. I kept Hervana only because it’s the perfect natural blush for me. Swirled together, on me it reads as a soft, slightly warm brownish pink. It’s truly one of those products that goes with everything. Sometimes I forget I have it because it’s not very exciting, but I’m currently going through a phase with it. It’s hard to mess it up, really! I just wish it were more travel-friendly, because I could easily get through a month-long trip with this as my one and only blush.
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Mood Exposure
You may remember that Mood Exposure is my favourite of the ALBs, and probably my favourite blush of all time. If you were to simply look at it in the pan, you’d probably wonder how something so dull could possibly be somebody’s favourite. But on the skin it transforms: it’s an incredibly brightening, flattering mixture of plum and brown with the healthiest luminosity. If I lost all my blushes this is the one I would repurchase immediately. Because Hervana is so bulky, Mood Exposure is the blush I always take travelling with me. For a weekend trip I need a minimum of five lip colour options, but I can get through ten days with just Mood Exposure, easy.
L-R: Benefit Hervana, Hourglass Mood Exposure
Bright blushes! Yay!
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Diffused Heat
This was my very first ALB, a hand-me-down from Aisling because she found the hot red-coral too intense for her tastes. I’m so glad she passed it on to me, because I don’t know that I would have discovered this formula otherwise – it’s surprisingly unhyped on ye olde internette. Generally I like to apply this with a stipple brush, and it’s more of a summer shade for me, but it’s stunning. It’d look great on darker skin too.
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Radiant Magenta
I think Radiant Magenta was a bit of a mistake of a purchase on my part. There’s nothing wrong with it: it’s just as finely-milled, glowy, and long-wearing as my other three ALBs. But it’s pretty similar to Diffused Heat (although Diffused Heat ironically appears more magenta on the skin – the tan swirls in Radiant Magenta tone it down significantly), and I don’t think I really need both. As I’ve said, that’s my sole gripe with the ALB line. It’s not extensive, and many of the shades are quite similar. I don’t know if I can bear to part with Radiant Magenta, even so, because I paid a pretty penny for it and I just love the ALBs in general.
Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush in Natural Beauty
I first laughed when I saw that the name of this bright pink-red blush was Natural Beauty, but applied lightly it actually does make me look how I naturally do when I’ve just come out of the cold. This formula isn’t my favourite; it’s rather stiff, and I prefer something softer and more finely-milled. However, I like that it’s not too pigmented (with a colour like this that would be a real killer), and the colour is one of my favourites.
L-R: Hourglass Diffused Heat, Hourglass Radiant Magenta, Tarte Natural Beauty
Finally, plums and purples and berries, a category which I love maybe a little too much…
ColourPop Super Shock Cheek in Rain
You know, I bought this to see if I would actually wear lavender/lilac blush, and the answer is no, not often. (Don’t be fooled by the pan you see. This is the result of perhaps five applications.) However, I have on several occasions been very happy to have this on hand, as when I go out with my friends I usually do pretty funky makeup and enjoy applying this with a very heavy hand all the way up to my temples. It’s a fun product! But I’m not going to upgrade it for a more expensive lavender blush, probably.
Sleek Blush in Flushed
This was another Aisling hand-me-down, and it’s one of my favourites for fall and winter. It’s a warm berry shade with a satin finish and very subtle gold flecks running through it. It looks absolutely beautiful and glowing. I think this would look even better on deeper skintones that can take more colour. You’ll see in the swatch that it does come off warmer than it looks in the pan, but that’s also because it really doesn’t photograph true-to-colour. That’s been one of my ongoing struggles with this product! If you’re in the market for an affordable, warm-toned plummy blush… this may be the one!
Guerlain Rose Aux Joes Blush in Wonder Violette
Another absolutely wild Optimum points purchase! This is a soft, warm pinky plum. It’s another one which appears warmer on my skin than it does in the pan. I do not think it’s worth $60 and will not buy another Guerlain blush, with Optimum points or otherwise. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with it: the formula is nice and I like the colour, but there’s better stuff out there for cheaper. Speaking of which…
NARS Blush in Sin
Personally, I think NARS blushes are a little overrated formula-wise, but some of the colours are to die for. Sin is the colour of a bruise, which sounds very unappealing but which I adore. I have nothing else like this and I rarely see anything similar on the market. This blush doesn’t go with every makeup look, but I love having it on hand. I doubt I’ll become a NARS blush collector, but if any of the colours call my name I’d be willing to buy another one. (And yes, I felt like I truly belonged in the makeup community when I bought this. I mean, are you a real beauty blogger if you don’t own a NARS blush?!)
L-R: ColourPop Rain, Sleek Flushed, Guerlain Wonder Violettes, NARS Sin
And that, my friends, is the extent of my blush collection. Fourteen total if I count the shades in the Sleek palette separately, twelve actual products. I think that’s pretty manageable, and I don’t think I could realistically trim it down much. I genuinely use and like everything I have here. I can also easily list every product in my blush collection off the top of my head, which I think is a pretty good benchmark.
Next time shall I do a more boring category? I don’t want to exhaust all the interesting ones too early on…
Posted on October 28, 2016 under Lists
I try not to get too caught up with seasonal colour categorizations, because life is too short not to wear products you like whenever you want. I’m generally more of a fan of arbitrarily-designated cool weather colours, anyway, which means that I’ll be wearing them more heavily than normal now that we’re moving into fall weather. (The cold has finally settled in here in Toronto, and I’ve been wearing my fall jacket regularly.)
I’ve also become something of a blush fiend in the past year or so. It never used to be a product that interested me much, but I guess my lipstick obsession has trickled over into enjoying all types of colour cosmetics. While rifling through my blush collection, I realized how excited I was to pull in some of my fall colours, and thought I’d share my favourite fall blushes. (Which, of course, can be worn year-round as well. Duh.)
Guerlain Rose Aux Joues Blush in Wonder Violette
Wonder Violette is a soft plum with a satin finish. It’s a soft, blendable texture that applies evenly. It has a very strong floral scent, as is common in luxury makeup products. The packaging is okay – it’s not as gorgeous as my Guerlain eyeshadow palette, but it’s very hefty and sturdy. I do wish high end brands would stop putting unusable brushes into their compacts; it just increases the size of the packaging and adds absolutely no value. Of course, the price is absurd. As with basically all of my luxury makeup items, I purchased this with Optimum points and have no problem saying that, while I use it often and think it’s a solid product, it’s just not worth the big bucks. You can get blushes that are just as good or better for significantly less. Worth some Optimum points if you’re into Guerlain, but probably not worth $60. (Okay, definitely not worth $60.) Sometimes I absurdly have Optimum point-spending regret with certain products; this is not one of them. I really love the colour and the formula is solid, and I’m glad I own it. I just can’t wrap my head around the price tag.
The Guerlain Rose Aux Joues blushes retail for $60 CAD for 0.22oz of product, or $272.73 CAD per oz.
H&M Pure Radiance Powder Blusher in Cherry
This is an amazing magenta colour unlike anything in my collection. I love to pair it with MAC Rebel and other magenta lipstick shades. It also looks great used an eyeshadow, and is in fitting with the current red/magenta/orange eyeshadow trend. Unfortunately, as I’m very fair and this is a deep and pigmented colour, it’s slightly hard to work with on the cheeks. Applied with a regular blush brush it generally veers into clown territory, but with a stipple brush it’s pretty patchy. This is probably not helped by the fact that it’s quite a dry and stiff formula – that is, it doesn’t blend easily. That said, the colour is stunning and would undoubtedly be better suited to deeper skintones. I also like the packaging for the pricepoint – it’s just flimsy, lightweight plastic, but the octagonal shape is interesting and I can’t complain since it costs a mere $12.99.
H&M Pure Radiance Powder Blushers retail for $12.99 for 0.18oz of product, or $72.17 CAD per oz.
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Mood Exposure
To be fair, this is my most-used and favourite blush of all time because I find the colour immensely flattering and so versatile. If I’m not sure what blush to use, I pop on some Mood Exposure. If I’m travelling, I only need to bring Mood Exposure because I know it’ll go with everything. But the plummy mauve shade lends itself well to winter, I think. And, of course, the formula is exceptional: soft as a baby’s bottom without being powdery, blendable, and long-wearing. In the pan this blush isn’t worth paying attention to, but it brings the cheeks to life in the most glowy way.
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blushes retail for $45 CAD for 0.15oz of product, or $300 CAD per oz.
NARS Blush in Sin
The first time I used this cool, purply plum with gold shimmer, I hated it. I thought it looked like a bruise on my cheeks. It was the first time I’d ever found a blush colour truly unflattering on me. But it’s grown on me quite a lot; I think it was just the starkness of a truly purple-toned plum that shocked me. If I use a light hand, it’s the perfect complement to berry lips. I like the formula of this blush a lot – it’s soft and fairly sheer, which is the level of pigmentation I prefer in a blush. This being my first NARS blush, I understand why people like them but I definitely wouldn’t say they’re the be-all-end-all. There are some really beautiful colours in the line and I can see myself purchasing more should I be particularly drawn to a certain shade, but the incredible softness and natural luminosity of the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blushes puts them light years ahead of anything else I’ve tried.
NARS blushes retail for $38 CAD for 0.16 oz, or $237.50 per oz.
Sleek Blush in Flushed
I absolutely fell in love with this blush two years ago. It’s one of the first blushes I can remember thinking looked good on me. It’s a red-toned berry that gives me a gorgeous flush (an apt name!). The first year I had this, in the fall and winter of 2014/2015, I wore it constantly – and it’s been a well-loved addition to my fall blush rotation ever since. I also think this colour has enough depth that it would look stunning on darker skin – but with a light hand, it’s completely workable and lovely on my fair skin. (If you look up reviews of this specific shade you’ll see it gets rave reviews from women of colour, and with good reason.) It’s a slightly stiffer formula than, say, the Hourglass ALBs (but everything is stiffer than those!), but it has great colour payoff without being unworkably pigmented and blends easily on the cheeks. Plus, it’s an absolute steal and generously sized to boot. I’d pay much more for this formula than it’s going for.
Sleek blushes retail for £4.99 ($8.12 CAD at the current conversion rate) for 0.27 oz of product, or £18.48 ($30.07 CAD) per oz.
Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush in Natural Beauty
When I first got this bright reddish pink blush over three years ago, I thought it was a summer colour: surely something as bright and audacious as this wasn’t appropriate for the more subdued months of fall and winter? But then I realized that it gives the perfect “just stepped in from the cold” flush on my cheeks, making it perfectly-suited to winter. It’s different from your classic plummy winter blushes (which I have, of course, featured heavily in this post), but I think it works very well for this time of year – on my skin, at least. The name “Natural Beauty” for something this bright seems a bit silly, but, well, I don’t know about you, but I personally blush a reddish-pink, not any shade of plum. While my love for this colour is enough to bring this into my fall/winter rotation each year, I have to say I’m not a huge fan of the formula. It’s a very dry and stiff blush – not enough to truly impede working with it, but I prefer something much softer. This is easily the driest blush I own. The lasting power is reasonable, but not worth the hype it received back in the day. Once again, my Hourglass ALBs are the gold standard in terms of lasting power, and everything else.
Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blushes retail for $35 CAD for 0.2 oz, or $175 per oz.
And here are swatches of these six blushes:
By the way – I took these pictures in our guest room because it has great lighting conditions, and Jet was very intrigued by the whole process:
What are your favourite fall blushes? If I go to Murale soon to spend Optimum points, what NARS blush colours should I consider?
Posted on October 01, 2016 under Reviews
In the past year and a half, I have moved to a quality over quantity approach in my makeup acquisition. When I was just starting out, it didn’t make sense to pay big prices for products that I didn’t know how to use. Now, though, I have everything I reasonably need (insofar as anybody can “need” makeup), and my purchasing has decreased at a steady rate. I’m a big fan of regularly evaluating my collection and decluttering items I’m not using, but I’m also decidedly not a minimalist. I will continue to acquire new makeup – just at a slower pace.
Although I do love a good bargain and swear by many a drugstore product, much of my makeup interest lies on the more expensive side of things these days. Well, that’s not strictly true. For boring things (the necessities, you might say), I’m more likely to spend my money at the drugstore. But for colour cosmetics, things that excite me, I’m all about those fancy products!
I wholly acknowledge that, often, higher end products are all about marketing and nice packaging. I used to scoff at people who shopped at Sephora, thinking that there was no way any of those products were worth it. But, well, some of those products are worth it.
This probably doesn’t come as any surprise to those of you who have been reading my blog for awhile, but I adamantly believe that the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blushes are worth their weight in gold. (Incidentally, ounce for ounce, gold is currently worth almost six times as much as an ALB. Adjusting for Canadian price differentials, the closest blush I could find to the weight of gold was Tom Ford, at $313.71/oz.) Aisling gave me Diffused Heat in January 2015, and over the course of that year I collected four of the seven shades, adding Luminous Flush in June and Radiant Magenta and Mood Exposure in December.
Maybe I’m just looking in the wrong places, but I feel like a lot of the time blush reviews talk about colours, pigmentation, texture, and blendability and completely skip over longevity. I don’t know about you guys, but I have a lot of blushes that are beautiful colours and textures that fade fairly quickly. These blushes are the antithesis to that – they check every box, including longevity. I always put products to the work test – if they can survive eight hours of me being run off my feet in a busy retail environment, they can’t be too bad. The other week, I applied Diffused Heat at 2pm and got home past 12am. When I looked in the mirror, it had not budged. That’s why I think Hourglass has managed to edge out some of the other more expensive blushes that may be pigmented, soft, and blendable but not intensely long-wearing. They also give the most gorgeous glow to the face without ever looking shimmery. I was not a fan of the Ambient Lighting Powders, but damn they’re nice mixed in with a blush.
My only real complaint with these (other than the obvious – the price point) is that the shade range is not great. There are only seven shades to begin with – which seems to be about average compared to luxury brands like Tom Ford and Guerlain – and, more disappointingly, the actual range is honestly not the best. There is only one truly cool-toned blush out of the bunch, Ethereal Glow, and it’s so pale that I can’t imagine it would be serviceable for a very wide range of skin tones. Mood Exposure is the only other standout in terms of sheer difference; it’s a warm mauvey plum. The others are all variations of coral or peach – and, let’s face it, when blended out they’re not going to look that different. I wish that Hourglass would bring out more shades, but also that they’d thought through the original six a little more fully. I think a deep, cool pink is missing from the range, and a deeper berry or soft rose would be welcome additions in my mind!
You can see what I’m talking about in my swatches:
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Diffused Heat is a warm coral red. It has visible shimmer in direct sunlight. It’s pretty pigmented right out of the gate, but not too much so.
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Luminous Flush is a peachy pink. Like Diffused Heat, it’s quite pigmented.
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Radiant Magenta is a toned-down fuchsia. It has visible shimmer in direct sunlight. It’s a bit sheerer than Diffused Heat and Luminous Flush.
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Mood Exposure is a brownish plum, or maybe a plummy brown. It’s my favourite of them all because it’s so versatile. It looks boring in the pan but on the face it’s stunning.
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Luminous Flush on my face.
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blushes retail for $45 CAD for 0.15oz, or $300 per oz. (For those wondering, at the time of writing, gold is currently $1730 CAD per oz.)