The disappointments of 2017

Posted on December 18, 2017 under Lists

You know, if you ask anybody who knows me they will no doubt tell you that one of my main hobbies is complaining bitterly. Yet I have never done a year-end roundup of products that disappointed me, which amazes me. So far I’ve done three yearly “best of” posts, but this is my first ever “worst of” post. (I decided to post this one before my Top 17 of 2017 because I thought it’d be better to end 2017 on a high note.)

Unlike my yearly “best of” recaps, I have not chosen a catchy number for this post. This is simply a list of everything that disappointed me in 2017, in chronological order.

Maybelline Lash Sensational Luscious Full Fan Effect Mascara

I don’t have my own picture of this product because I slammed it into the garbage and never looked back.

Look, it’s hard to truly impress me with a mascara, but I also rarely hate a mascara. Generally mascara generates in me emotion no stronger than “Meh.” The last mascara that inspired true, passionate hatred was Benefit’s They’re Real!, which is my gold standard for shitty mascara. That was about four years ago, so that tells you how rarely I encounter a mascara that really enrages me. However, this mascara is that. I am mad at it, okay? The first time I applied it my very standard set of eyelashes became three giant clumps and I was like, “Well, that sometimes happens with brand new mascara.” Then I tried to wash it off, and I had flashbacks to trying to wash off They’re Real!, which is a battle which usually ends up in you cradling your amputated eyelashes and crying in the corner of your bathroom. Lash Sensational Luscious is THE EXACT SAME. And this isn’t even the waterproof version! I tried it again the next day just to be fair, and my opinion did not change. Look, maybe it does get better with age, but I was not about to subject my lashes to warfare just to find out.

Marc Jacobs Style Eye Con Plush Eyeshadow Palette in The Lolita

My friend Kristin gave me this palette for Christmas because she wanted to buy me something that I would never buy myself. She’s right that I would never pay $71 for a palette of seven eyeshadows. And, you know, unlike the Lash Sensational Luscious mascara, I do not hate this palette. Actually, I think it’s very wearable, and most of the shadows are very pretty and blendable. This is sort of like a Naked Basics palette kicked up a notch; it has a few more interesting shimmery shades in addition to the staple mattes, and the packaging is a lot more beautiful than Naked Bascis’ rubbery, utilitarian feel. But – and if you’ve ever swatched this palette you’ll know exactly what is coming – that one shade, man. The middle one, I mean. It’s glittery and looks so pretty in the pan, but I have never experienced such fallout carnage in my life. Even packed on with my finger for maximum density, it delivers very little colour payoff. All the glitter seems to miss my eyelid and fall directly onto my cheeks, where it sticks unless I remove my makeup. It SUCKS, dude. And when 14% of your $71 palette is unuseable, you’ve got yourself a stinker. I see that MJ has discontinued this product, and the new palettes in this packaging seem to be getting good reviews – which is good, because they cost a pretty penny. Overall I do actually enjoy this palette and use it fairly frequently, but the one awful shade brings the entire thing down.

ELF Highlighting Palette

Pictured on the far left.

These highlighters do not show up on me at all. There’s a subtle highlighter and there’s a highlighter that does nothing. You can see swatches in my highlighter inventory post, but actually you won’t be able to see anything because they truly look like absolutely nothing on the skin. My mom, who is all about subtle highlighter, had the same experience with this palette.

Revlon Mega Multiplier Mascara*

On the opposite end of the spectrum from Lash Sensational, this mascara just did nothing for me. I mean, I can get behind a subtle mascara, but when a mascara is named Mega Multiplier I’m just going to assume that it sucks when it gives me this effect:

The Ordinary Caffeine Solution

Like several other bloggers who bought this product because it was cheap, I have concluded that this does absolutely nothing for my dark circles. I love so many products from The Ordinary, so it’s a bummer that this one didn’t work out for me. Luckily it was so cheap that I’m not exactly crying about it.

ColourPop Lippie Stix in Trixie

I ordered this thinking it would finally allow me to end my long-term quest for the perfect bright coral. I then promptly forgot about it and bought Marc Jacobs So Sofia. When my ColourPop package arrived, I kicked myself for buying So Sofia when I had Trixie on the way. When I actually got around to trying Trixie on, however, I felt vindicated – it’s a hair too neon to be totally flattering on me. Also, the formula is thin, tugs in application, and emphasizes dry patches. I really like the Matte X Lippie Stix I have, so this one was a huge letdown.

Here’s Trixie on me:

Definitely not the worst colour I’ve ever put on my lips, but when compared to So Sofia I don’t think there’s any contest:

ColourPop Ultra Blotted Lips in Split

The Ultra Blotted Lips are a cool idea, in theory – I can always get behind a good lip stain. Unfortunately, Split is a deep enough colour that it gets patchy in application very easily, and it doesn’t wear long enough to justify the discomfort of a liquid lipstick or the finnicky application.

Urban Decay All Nighter Foundation

This is a full-coverage foundation made for combination/oily skin and I knew I wouldn’t like it, so it’s not exactly a disappointment. But it is a product which I dislike very adamantly. It looks like a dry, heavy mask on my skin, and it only looks drier and heavier by the end of the day. But hey – if you’re oily you’d probably really enjoy this!

Revlon PhotoReady Eye Art

I’m going to do a proper review of these at some point, but suffice to say that these are just “meh” in the world of liquid glitter eyeshadow. They’re finnicky to apply, take too long to dry, and don’t wear particularly well. It’s a shame, because they’re beautiful!

So there we go: my most disappointing products of 2017. Nine doesn’t seem too bad, really – that’s less than one stinker per month. Have you tried any of these products? Do you think they suck, too, or have you had more luck than me?

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.