Empties: April to June 2019

Posted on July 10, 2019 under Empties

I have accumulated a lot of empties over the past three months, especially in the realm of skincare. (Not surprising, since I’m way more into skincare than makeup these days, my routine is far more complex than it ever has been, and I work in the industry.) So let’s get right into it without wasting any words!

Bath and Body

A-Derma Exomega Emollient Balm: A great soothing, hydrating body cream, but I just can’t keep up this habit when I go through a $30+ bottle in two months!

The Body Shop Body Butter – Coconut: The last of my winter stockpile. I’m sure I’ll buy another three next fall.

The Chemistry Brand HA3 Hand Hydrator: To this day one of the only hand creams I can tolerate. It sinks in quickly, it hydrates really well, and it smells great. Plus it’s only $9 a tube, which feels very reasonable.

Old Spice Bearglove Deodorant: I’m a huge fan of Old Spice deodorant. It lasts way longer than standard women’s deodorant and it works really well for me. I’ve been using various Old Spice scents for around six years now. A stick lasts me around two years and I buy them on sale, which works out to be very cost-effective. Bearglove is a bit of a sweeter scent with apple and citrus, which I really enjoyed. I’ve moved on to the ingeniously-named Fresh scent, which is a little more traditionally masculine. (That’s cool with me; the idea of scents as gendered is fake and made up and I just wear what I like and want to smell like.)

Hair

Function of Beauty Shampoo: This is probably the most extravagantly overpriced thing I have ever bought in the name of beauty. NO. This was not awful, it was just… a shampoo… and a $40 custom shampoo should be more than just a shampoo.

HIF Anti-Frizz Support and HIF Intensive Detox: I’m pretty sure these have both been discontinued, which is fine because they’re not that great. I didn’t mind Intensive Detox as a super minty, scalp-tingling clarifying shampoo that’s not too stripping, but Anti-Frizz Support is nothing special. I’m all for metal packaging as a better alternative to plastic, but metal tubes are impractical for several reasons and I did not enjoy trying to wring product out of these damn tubes.

Skincare

Marcelle Ultra Gentle Cleansing Gel: A staple since 2016! It works, it’s gentle, it’s cheap. What’s not to love?

The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser: This was okay – it’s definitely gentle and doesn’t strip the skin, but I don’t find it’s terribly effective at removing makeup compared to other cleansers. It’s also pretty small; I ran through this in a little under a month. At $7.90 for 50ml, it’s not really a better deal than Hylamide’s oil cleanser, which is $19 for 120ml.

Marcelle Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover: This did not work nearly as well as my La Roche-Posay eye makeup remover, and it irritated my eyes despite claiming to be super gentle. It’s cheaper, but not by so much that it’s not worth it to pony up the extra $4.50 for the LRP, which remains the gold standard in my eyes. (Or for my eyes?)

Bioderma Hydrabio H2O Micellar Water: I think I slightly prefer Sensibio (the original formula with the pink cap), but I have so many of these on backup it’s not funny and I’m happy to slowly (SLOWLY) use them up.

Bioderma Sensibo H20 Micellar Water (mini): Nothing much to say. It’s Bioderma. I like it and I’ll keep using it. I pretty much always have a bottle this size for travel.

Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask to Quench Skin’s Thirst: I do not want to spend a single winter without this product. In the three winters I’ve now used it, I have not experienced the extreme dryness and flakiness I became used to. Anything that keeps my nose from flaking in the dead of January is a winner in my books. This isn’t the cheapest product, but it lasts me all winter, so I’m down to buy it year after year.

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Intense Soothing Care: I really enjoy this lightweight but nourishing daytime moisturizer, though I didn’t repurchase it this time around because $34 is a little steep. I always come back to it when I need something I know I can trust!

La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Baume B5: I vastly prefer the texture of the thin LRP Cicaplast Gel, but the Baume is undeniably a powerhouse for intense hydration and healing the skin. I was profoundly afflicted by a dry patch on the side of my nose for about four months last spring and summer, and the only thing that would make it go away even temporarily was this product. I also used it to heal my most recent tattoo, and I thought it did a really good job. I’d still probably go back to the Gel next time simply because I like that it’s clear, which doesn’t compromise the colour of tattoos. The Baume leaves such a thick white cast that it’s not the prettiest option!

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion: I’m heartbroken that this product is no longer sold in Canada – it might just be my favourite TO product of all time. You’d better believe I stocked up on a bunch of these when I heard the pharmaceutical regulations were changing! (Seriously, I have another bottle on the go and four backups.)

The Ordinary Buffet + Copper Peptides 1%: I’ve been trying a bunch of products that promote healing and overall skin health in the hopes that they’ll address my post-inflammatory erythema. Copper is a great healing ingredient and I think this did help, but I probably won’t repurchase this product since I’m not benefiting from the other two peptides in it. (Matrixyl and Argireline are strictly corrective, not preventative, and I really don’t have any lines yet!) At $28.90, this is the most expensive product in The Ordinary lineup, and it seems silly to keep buying it when 2/3 of the active ingredients aren’t doing anything for me. I’ve moved on to the NIOD Modulating Glucosides, which is even better for the PIE and only $0.10 more.

NIOD Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Complex (30ml and 15ml): Well, clearly I really like this super lightweight hyaluronic acid serum. It’s not cheap, but it’s leagues above The Ordinary version both in terms of efficacy and texture. (It has five times the types of HA molecules as well as ten times the concentration of HA!)

NIOD Modulating Glucosides: This serum for sensitivity has worked wonders in calming post-inflammatory erythema and healing my breakouts much faster than nature intended. What started out as a fairly boring product that I took a flyer on has quickly become a staple in my routine.

NIOD Survival 30: This is the best facial sunscreen I’ve ever tried and I am very sad that it’s been out of stock for months now. My old staple from La Roche-Posay simply doesn’t cut it now that I know how amazing Survival 30 is.

StriVectin Advanced Retinol Eye Cream: This was a random piece of gratis from my old job. I didn’t notice any huge changes thanks to the retinol, but I guess at this point I’m really just hoping that I’m helping my skin produce collagen for the future. It was decently hydrating, but I wouldn’t pay $90 or whatever it costs.

IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Undereye Eye Cream (sample): I liked this for lots of hydration under my eyes. Obviously I couldn’t use it long enough to see any long-term results, but I’d have to say it’s, you know, an expensive hydrating eye cream. I already have one of those from the fall Sephora sale when I decided I had to have the Kiehl’s eye cream (which I do love, despite the ridiculous price).

Nuxe Rêve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm: I’ve lost track. This is the only lip balm that matters. This pot is the old formula, but I like the new one just as much. (For those keeping count, the new formula is a little less waxy and slightly more spreadable, but it’s still super hydrating.)

Makeup

MUFE Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation – Y215: This foundation used to be my go-to, but it doesn’t work as beautifully with my skin anymore. I find it a bit harder to make it look natural and seamless on my skin these days. I’m back to my IT CC Cream because I really just missed it the entire time I was working through the MUFE.

Glossier Lash Slick: This ended up growing on me, but I also kind of hated it. Let me explain – I ended up really getting behind the natural look, and I loved that it did not smudge at all. It was easy to remove completely with nothing but warm water, which is always a bonus. However, I think the fibres irritated my eyes. I have never been prone to eye sensitivity, but I cannot even tell you how many times over the past few months my eyes bothered me! That’s really decreased since I switched mascaras, so I will not be repurchasing Lash Slick.

L’Oréal Brow Stylist Boost and Set Volumizing Brow Mascara: My go-to brow gel. $16 is pretty steep for something you buy from the drugstore that you don’t even see on my face, but you know I keep my eyes peeled for a sale.

NYX Epic Ink Eyeliner: I rescind my love for this product! I thought my first pen was so great that I even included it on my best of 2018 list, but the second pen is garbage. Three times now I have applied it only to have it bleed all over my eyes to the point where I have to remove my makeup and start again. You know what they say – fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me, fool me three times, I am an idiot and I really needed to throw this eyeliner out five months ago. Anyway, I’ve moved on to the long-named Physician’s Formula one that everyone raves about, which I’m not completely sure about yet.

Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment – Rosé: I loved this even though I admit it was a rather indulgent purchase. It’s like… yeah, it’s not necessary to spend that much money on a tinted lip balm that wears off in fifteen seconds, but it’s nice. Definitely a purchase for those “treat yourself” moods.

Milani Eyeshadow Primer: After many years spent devoted to the NARS eyeshadow primer, I hopped onto the Milani bandwagon two years ago. This stuff is just as reliable and it costs like $9 for a tube that lasts two years. Sign me up forever!

Miscellaneous

Quo Nail Polish Remover – Strengthening: This is a drugstore house brand nail polish remover. It’s fine. I always buy it in the Strengthening variety because I am trying to be nice to my nails. I have no idea if it makes any real difference.

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat: I’ve probably used up at least ten of these bottles over the five years it’s been in my life. It really does protect nail polish from chipping, but it gets a bit stringy and can leave bubbles on top of the nails, so I’m exploring new avenues.

Quo Blending Sponge: This cheap little blending sponge used to be great, but they changed it and now it’s not. It’s really dense, not particularly soft, and soaks up far too much product.

Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge: So much better than the Quo sponge, and also better than I remember it being back in 2014 when I originally tried it. It’s super soft and blends makeup out beautifully. I got a two-pack when I visited Ulta for the first time back in March, and I’ll probably re-up when that one gets too crusty for comfort.

The end!

The disappointments of 2018

Posted on December 21, 2018 under Reviews

Time to complain about things I didn’t like! Actually, almost everything on this list is merely mediocre – there were very few outright fails this year. But I am not that tolerant of mediocre when the cosmetics market is so saturated, even less so when the products in question are pricey. So, in no particular order, here are the things I didn’t enjoy in 2018.

Function of Beauty Shampoo and Conditioner

It’s hard for me to say, definitively, that this product is not worth it, because by nature everyone’s formula will differ. I was initially swayed to drop some hefty cash on this custom shampoo and conditioner duo precisely because I had read reviews that claimed it was worth it. I’m sure it is, for some. But for me, these are two products that do the job and nothing more. I can get serviceable shampoo and conditioner at the drugstore.

Pat McGrath LuxeTrance Lipstick in 35mm

This is probably the biggest disappointment of all, because you know I wanted so badly to like a $52, gaudily-packaged luxury lipstick whose name references my academic discipline. (Well, kind of, I’m more on the TV side of things but TV used to be shot in 35mm too.) I firmly maintain that this isn’t a bad lipstick, it’s just an okay lipstick. The colour is pretty but nothing special, nothing that I can’t find for $30 or even $10, it’s a bit prone to patchiness on dry lips, and the wear time is far from remarkable. (I wore this lipstick to my work party the other week primarily out of guilt that I’ve barely touched it since receiving it in January, and I had to perform quite a few touch-ups.) I seem to remain the only person on this planet who has had a less-than-glowing experience with this formula, so take that as you will.

Avène High Protection SPF 50+ Emulsion

My main issue with this sunscreen is that it leaves such a white cast, and that is coming from me. I can’t even begin to imagine how unworkable this sunscreen would be on darker skin tones! I mean, the sunscreen itself is fine: it’s a nice lotion texture, it sits well under makeup without pilling, and it does seem to adequately protect from the sun. But, come on. There are too many sunscreens out there for anyone to be spending $25 on one with a severe white cast.

Avène Cold Cream Lip Balm and Abnomaly Petrowhat? in Milk

Two mediocre lip balms! The Avène has a texture that is simultaneously thin and slippery, and it doesn’t seem to ever actually sink into my lips and do any type of moisturizing. It offers temporary relief from really uncomfortably dry lips, but it wears off quickly and doesn’t leave my lips in an improved condition. Luckily I got this as gratis at my old job.

I was excited about Petrowhat?, a new-ish Deciem launch. This lip balm is supposed to mimic the feeling of petroleum jelly-based lip balms, but it’s made with squalane and amino acids. However, I find that this is too thick and greasy and that it just sits on top of my lips. It also has quite a strong salty taste thanks to the amino acids. This is a multipurpose balm so I’m trying to use it up on my cuticles and elbows. Despite the cute packaging and coconut scent, this is a no-go for me and I’d advise you to spend your seven bucks elsewhere.

OGX Flexible+ Beeswax Texture Spray Wax

I picked this up at Walmart on an impulse, because I thought Yes, why not get a texturizing spray? Though I like to make minimal effort with my hair, I thought that a texturizing spray was something I could take fifteen seconds to incorporate. But this just makes my hair a gross, sticky mess. I want to wash my hair as soon as I spray this in. Do not impulse buy hair products at Walmart, everyone.

Luckily, those are the only products that wronged me enough that I had to share. Most of what I bought this year was either satisfactory or too boring to work up any real emotion about. My next post will, of course, be all about the best products I discovered this year, so we can end the year on a positive note instead of dwelling on things that made me sad.

Function of Beauty: Is personalized haircare worth the prestige price tag?

Posted on November 14, 2018 under Reviews

After reading rave reviews of Function of Beauty from a few small bloggers whose opinions I trust, I somewhat reluctantly placed an order. I really wanted to try this personalized haircare brand because the promise seemed so vast, but I also kind of hoped that the product would disappoint so that I would not have to incorporate an $80 CAD shampoo and conditioner set into my regular life.

As some of you may have seen on Instagram, I recently went through a drastic hair change. I finally cut off all the old blonde, and I got bangs. Growing out my blonde has been a goal for a year and a half, and I’m very proud that I finally made it to this point. My hair is now healthier than it’s been in half a decade, which means I feel that I can give haircare reviews from a normal human standpoint, whereas before everything I said could really only apply to people who also had ultra-processed hair on the verge of death. My hair is of medium thickness and naturally wavy; I’m prone to a slightly oily scalp. I can get a bit of frizz, especially in humid weather. In the past few years I’ve started noticing some very mild dandruff (especially in the colder months), likely because the years of bleach dried my scalp out. I wash my hair every other day, though by the end of day two it’s definitely getting to a not-so-nice place. (Truthfully I just can’t be bothered to go through the whole washing and blow drying rigamorale every day.)

When you order from Function of Beauty, you take a quiz about your hair and your shampoo preferences which then allows them to customize a formula that theoretically addresses the needs of your hair better than anything else on the planet. My hair goals were strengthen, anti-frizz, shine, replenish hair, and soothe scalp. You’ll probably guess that I’m most focused on keeping my hair as visibly healthy as possible after years of bleach abuse.

I selected the scent Nude (P)each, mostly because it was limited edition at the time and I had FOMO. It’s now been made permanent. The scene is fine – definitely peachy, though it doesn’t linger in my hair at all after being rinsed out.

Function of Beauty orders come with a card outlining your preferences as per your hair quiz, as well as a sheet of stickers that I will hoard alongside my unused Glossier stickers.

Now that I’ve been using this shampoo and conditioner for a month now, I feel like I’ve gathered enough thoughts to write a proper review.

Texture

I am very picky about the texture of my shampoo. I can tell instantly if I will like a shampoo based on the texture alone. Almost without fail, shampoo that has a runny, gel-like consistency as opposed to a thick, stiff cream will not adequately wash my hair. My Function of Beauty shampoo is a lot runnier than the texture that I normally prefer. This makes it more prone to slipping out of my fingers and onto the bottom of my tub, which of course makes me brilliant with rage when I’m spending $40 on a bottle of shampoo. The conditioner has a much more reasonable texture and I have no complaints there.

Packaging

Get it? Functions! (I think – I was 2% away from failing Functions and that was seven years ago. Also I managed to pass that class without ever learning what a function actually is.)

These bottles are surely very aesthetically-pleasing, from the minimal text to the clear plastic that allows you to see the pretty colours. I almost feel like the main point of the packaging design is to be as Instagrammable as possible, and given Function of Beauty’s aggressive Instagram marketing this seems like a valid theory. Functional standpoint, I do think that we as humans have evolved to a point where we should no longer tolerate any shower products which cannot be stood on their caps. I am used to squeezy tube shampoo and conditioner packaging and I don’t wish to experience anything else. I do appreciate that Function of Beauty sends pumps to use with the bottles – because, trust me, trying to squeeze a brittle bottle to coax product through a relatively small opening is not fun. I must reiterate that there is no way to stand these bottles upside down, which means that when I get down to the last dregs of product – which I will CERTAINLY want to use up given the price tag – I will have to pull some lean-the-bottle-against-other-stuff manoeuvers just to use the product that is by its very definition mine and mine only.

If this were a drugstore product and it did awesome things to my hair, I could probably get over suboptimal packaging. But, of course, if I’m going to pay $80 for shampoo and conditioner, I want every detail to be thoughtful and functional. I don’t want to pay $80 for shampoo and conditioner and then have to work especially hard to get it out of the bottle. That’s just rubbing salt in the wound.

Efficiency

Let’s go through my hair goals. First, strengthen. I’m not sure that my hair is any stronger than it was a month ago, but it’s not any weaker, and I have been using heat on it a lot more often. (At its current length, it really only looks good when I blow it dry. Once it grows out some more I’ll be able to air dry.) I’d say this little routine shines in terms of its anti-frizz benefits. I’m noticing a lot less frizz than I was a few months ago, and that’s with the addition of frequent blow drying into my routine. The shine aspect is about average; I don’t tend to have incredibly shiny hair nor incredibly dull hair, and this does about as well as anything. The same can be said for replenish hair: in all fairness, there’s not much left to replenish since all the damage is now gone, but I used this on my bleached ends for about ten days before I got my hair cut, and it didn’t seem to do any better than Marc Anthony. Finally, soothe scalp – I haven’t noticed any itchy scalp or dandruff, though that could ultimately change with the weather. However, I was dealing with mild dandruff through the summer, which is now gone.

With some of my shampoo/conditioner combos, I can get to day three before I have to wash my hair, but this routine reliably leaves me in need of a wash by day two. Now, this is definitely in part because my hair is healthier than it has been in years – I can’t compare how greasy it gets now to two years ago at the height of the bleach damage. It’s also impossible to stretch bangs more than two days before washing them (in the sink so you don’t have to wash your full head of hair because you have no time but want to trick people into thinking you’re clean am I right ladies?). And, of course, the hair goals I chose lean towards heavy hydration and nourishment, which will obviously leave hair less clean-feeling faster. That said, I sometimes have the feeling after blow drying my hair that it’s not totally clean even though I just washed it fifteen minutes ago, which I’m going to blame on that liquidy shampoo. (I am telling you, that type of shampoo never gets my hair fully clean, and I need to use so much of it to get the most minimal effect.) And while my scalp produces some oil, it’s not exactly greasy – my hair should feel clean for at least a day.

Value

This shampoo and conditioner do an admirable, better-than-average job of addressing two of the five things I paid a lot of money for them to do. While I am very much appreciating having less frizz and less dandruff than normal, I don’t think it’s controversial to say I can’t justify the high price tag in this instance, especially when combined with my complaints about texture and packaging. This is an incredibly interesting business model and I have no doubt that Function of Beauty does genuinely address other people’s concerns in a way that is worth the premium price tag. It’s just not quite there for me: I don’t feel that my hair is looking better than it ever has, and if it is that’s mostly just because I stopped bleaching it with 30 volume developer every other month.