Packing Light for Prague

Posted on November 25, 2017 under Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review: ColourPop Blending Brush and Blush Brush

Posted on October 21, 2017 under Reviews

I’m a sucker for fancy makeup, but when it comes to brushes what I want is cheap. I have a few pricier staples, but if you look at the brushes I use most frequently it’s pretty evident that I’m a budget-conscious gal first and foremost.

I keep going on and off ColourPop, and they totally reeled me in with the release of a synthetic brush collection back in the summer. I made my purchase only having seen one review from a YouTuber who works closely with the brand, so it was a bit of a crapshoot. Of course, this is the way it always is with ColourPop: I say, “It’s cheap, so who cares?” That’s the attitude their business model is banking on. It doesn’t always work on me, but they got me this time.

I didn’t want to commit to too many brushes if the quality wasn’t there, so I went with the two I thought I’d use the most: the blending brush (because who amongst us doesn’t need an infinite amount of blending brushes so as to postpone washing theirs?) and the blush brush (because I’d been idly wanting another blush brush for awhile).

Blending Brush

This brush is just a bit too stiff to be the most effective blending brush, in my opinion. It’s just not fluffy enough to effortlessly blend away harsh edges. I know I’ve talked about my MAC 217 as my gold standard blending brush, but one that I use almost every day is the ELF Crease Brush, which costs a grand total of $3 USD. That’s a damn good brush for applying diffused crease shades and buffing out edges, not just for the price but in absolute terms. So if you want a good blending brush, pick up 2 of the ELF ones for the cost of one ColourPop Blending Brush.

That said, this isn’t a bad brush. It can blend, just not as well as other brushes. I use it pretty regularly, just not as a traditional crease blending brush. I pretty much do the same thing with my eyeshadow every single day with different colours, and I can work this into my routine. Usually I start by buffing a light-to-medium transition shade in my socket, diffusing it quite a bit. I’ll often deepen up the socket by applying a darker colour more precisely, which the ColourPop Blending Brush is good for, because it does have some give and won’t pack on colour like a flat shader brush. I find that the perfect middle ground for it is in this type of application – it’s neither super precise nor terribly diffuse. Because it doesn’t pack on full-throttle pigment, it’s good for adding some definition without overdoing it.

I would say this brush is generally a flop at being a blending brush, but it’s perfectly serviceable in general. That said, I could happily live without it, so while it’s fine I’m not enthused about it.

L-R: ColourPop Blending Brush, ELF Crease Brush, Real Techniques Base Shadow Brush, MAC 217, bdellium tools 766

First of all, no I absolutely did not wash my brushes before taking these pictures. Second of all, here you can see that the ColourPop Blending Brush has a similar shape to the MAC 217 and bdellium tools 766, but it’s packed more densely and the bristles are stiffer so it doesn’t blend as effortlessly. It’s not as dense and stiff as the RT Base Shadow Brush, but clearly not as fluffy and malleable as the ELF Crease Brush. Third of all, my bdellium tools 766 has not held up very well, as you can see…

Blush Brush

Now this is the kind of thing that keeps me coming back to ColourPop! I tend to favour larger, stiffer blush brushes. Compared to my go-tos, the Real Techniques Cheek Brush and the Real Techniques Multitask Brush, this one is smaller, flatter, and less stiff. And I love it! Sometimes it’s nice to take a bigger brush and do one cheek super quickly, but I have really been enjoying the precision that this smaller brush offers. This brush picks up the perfect amount of pigment and blends it as it goes, and since I got it (uh, in early August, because why review things in a timely fashion?) I’ve been using it above all other blush brushes. Totally a winner in my books, and worth the very reasonable $9 USD.

L-R: ColourPop Blush Brush, ELF Blush Brush, bdellium tools 964, Real Techniques Cheek Brush, Real Techniques Multitask Brush

The ColourPop Blush Brush is a lot smaller than both RT brushes and the bdellium tools brush. The RT brushes are a lot denser, while the bdellium tools brush has about the same amount of give. This brush appears most similar to the ELF Blush Brush, but that brush is pretty flat and floppy, which makes it harder to work with.

I don’t think these brushes look especially cheap or fancy; they’re just standard, fairly boring brushes. The ColourPop logo is embossed into the handles, and so far the lettering hasn’t worn away at all. This should be a given instead of something I actively celebrate, but I have to work within the confines of reality and reality says that ColourPop’s lettering is fleeting. The brushes seem sturdy; they’ve held up to washing and the ferrules don’t wiggle. My major complaint here is that the names of the brushes are not on the handles, which truly is egregiously annoying. Will ColourPop ever come through with perfect packaging?

That text has stayed put for more than 45 seconds!

Anyway, my verdict here is that the Blush Brush is great and Blending Brush is fine but nothing special. Quality-wise I’d be comfortable purchasing more ColourPop brushes if I thought I’d actually use them. One win and one not-fail is pretty good for fifteen bucks, in any event.

By the way, yesterday was apparently my blog’s third birthday. We’ve come full circle: I started it in my Glasgow dorm room, continued it through my last year of university in Montreal and a gap year in Toronto, and now I’m sitting in graduate student housing in Glasgow writing this post.

Pre-moving declutter part III: Lip products

Posted on September 03, 2017 under Declutter

I’m back with one last declutter post for you before I’m off to Glasgow! I was quite ruthless with my lipsticks and managed to get rid of almost a third of my collection.

If you want to see swatches of any of these colours, you can refer to my recent lipstick inventory.

Things That Are Old

ColourPop Ultra Satin Lips in Marshmallow and Prim: The two times I wore Marshmallow in public were worth the $6 USD I spent on this supremely unflattering purple-grey. I knew it would look like shit on me when I ordered it, and it surely delivered. Sadly, it and Prim, a striking deep brown with a hint of purple, both smell very off now. ColourPop products don’t seem to have a very long shelf life.

Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm in Shameless: Do you know how long I spent popping into every drugstore I passed to see if they had an unmarred tube of Shameless? So long. And then I finally found this tube, in early 2014, and I wore it a lot, and now I don’t wear it anymore. I still love the colour, but it’s old besides being flawed (patchy, not as comfortable as other Matte Balms).

Joe Fresh Matte Lipstick in Raspberry: Raspberry is from the OG Joe Fresh line (pre-expansion into Shoppers Drug Mart, back when the prices were considerably lower) and it used to be one of my absolute favourites. I still love the playful pink-red, but the formula no longer excites me when I compare it to other lipsticks I have, and the packaging has been broken for almost as long as I’ve had it. The only way to describe the state of this lipstick is “crusty”.

Rimmel Lasting Finish by Kate Moss in 06: I love this colour and I have held onto this very old tube for longer than I probably should have while hunting for a suitable dupe. I have finally found it and can now say goodbye to this old, nasty tube.

Colours That Look Bad On Me

Buxom Plumpline Lip Liners in White Russian, Ransom, and Intrigue*: Buxom sent me six of these and I kept half. I really like this formula – and I use the rosy brownish pink Hush Hush and burnt orange Covert Affair regularly – but these colours do me no favours.

Tony Moly Cat Chu Wink Lipstick in Orange Pop: This is a sheer neon orange which does not suit me in the slightest. It’s okay, I bought it because it looks like a cat (proof here), and that alone has brought me joy for many years.

Lancôme L’Absolu Rouge Lipstick in Pourquoi Pas?: Okay, listen, I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but I got this as gratis from a Lancôme training I did for work back in the spring, and I was super excited to get one of these fancy clicky tubes until I saw the colour. This is a sheer, cool hot pink that looks like shit on me. I wore it to work one day despite my reservations and I regretted it the entire time.

Lancôme Matte Shaker in Yummy Pink*: I actually haven’t even tried this product on, but see above re: cool pinks. I love the Matte Shaker in Pink Power, which is much warmer, so I’m sure a friend will enjoy this brand-new product.

Colours That Are A Little Bit Off

Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Viola (Mini): I want this to be warmer! The difference between lavender and lilac is crucial for me, and this is just a hair short of lilac. I don’t think it’s completely unwearable, but I’m still on the hunt for the perfect lilac.

Little Mix By Collection Lipstick in Perrie: This dusty medium purple is very pretty but not quite right on me. I wore it a lot when I got it, but I tried it on recently and wasn’t wowed. This lipstick was £2.50 so I think it was money well spent.

MAC Matte Lipstick in Please Me: Light and mid-toned pinks are tricky on me, and this one is just slightly wrong. It’s not horribly unflattering, but when it comes to everyday colours I can do a lot better.

Colours That Are Similar To Things I Like Better

Little Mix By Collection Lipstick in Jade: This is a rosy brownish pink, a colour description that I have already used in this post in reference to the Buxom Lip Liner in Hush Hush. I prefer the matte, longwearing formula of Hush Hush, and I have no need for both.

Joe Fresh Long Wear Liquid Lipstick in Fuchsia: You know, I have to give Joe Fresh credit for coming out with these (now discontinued) liquid lipsticks ahead of the curve. I bought this well before the liquid lipstick trend had beat itself to death. I used to love this ultra bright fuchsia. I’ve noticed that my feelings towards fuchsia – once my favourite lipstick colour – have changed considerably, and this isn’t a colour I love on myself anymore. I have similar shades that are just more flattering on me. Also, yes, I have two tubes of this, because I lost mine, repurchased it, and found the original tube within hours.

Lancôme Color Design Lipstick in Posh Pink: I wanted this lipstick to be a replacement for the Rimmel shade, but it’s too pink and not vibrant enough. I have plenty of bright warm pinks and corals; this one is unnecessary.

Little Mix By Collection Lipstick in Leigh-Anne : A redundant red. That’s it for my Little Mix makeup products! Ironically considering the name of this brand, I have decided that collector’s items do not need to stay in my makeup stash. I absolutely love British girl band Little Mix, and these lipsticks are really good for the mere £2.50 they cost, but this colour is generic and unnecessary in my life.

Clarins Rouge Prodige in Fusion Red: I like the shiny finish of this slightly warm-leaning red, but it’s not the most practical when it comes to wear time. I have both warm reds and true reds which I prefer over this. This is one of my oldest makeup products and the packaging is so pretty that it pains me to part with it, but I don’t think I’ll actually miss it.

MAC Cremesheen Lipstick in Hang-Up: Again, a sheer, moisturizing finish for a fairly deep shade is not my favourite. This colour is very similar to the Buxom Lip Liner in Mystery, and since it’s matte I think the formula is more compatible with the richness of the colour. I do like Hang-Up a lot (the colour is super pretty and it’s comfortable to wear), but it’s time for it to go.

Things I Just Don’t Like

Joe Fresh Matte Lipstick in Scarlet: Scarlet is housed in much sturdier packaging than its younger sister Raspberry up there, but it has always been a little “meh”: a bit patchy and not my most flattering colour. I have deep reds/wines/berries that I think look nicer and that have far superior formulas.

Lancôme Color Design Lipstick in Wannabe: I love this colour, but the formula is quite waxy and I don’t enjoy wearing it.

Essence Matt Matt Matt Vibrant Shock in 09: This product taught me that I like navy blue lipstick, but that’s the only good thing I can say about it. It’s too sheer for such a bold colour and it wears off easily.

Know Cosmetics No, My Lips Are Sealed Topcoat: I didn’t notice that this did anything, and I didn’t like having to apply it from the little spatula on the end of the wand.

Lip Liners

Arbonne Lip Liner in Berry*: The formula on this is fine, but it’s a colour that doesn’t pair that well with any of my lipsticks.

MUA Lip Liner in Brooding Plum: I’ve used this with my deeper reds enough times to justify the £1 I spent on it, but it’s a fairly dry formula that’s not that pleasant to work with.

Collection Lip Definer in Damson: A truly beautiful deep plum that doesn’t go with any of my lipsticks. It’s pretty dry by now, too – I’ve had it for ages.

That’s 24 lipsticks, 3 lip liners, and one lip topcoat. Combined with the face and eye makeup products, that is a total of 57 products plucked from the loving embrace of my collection. These products completely fill up one makeup bag, which I think is a considerable amount of space to have saved in my luggage. Yay!