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.

Inventory: Highlighters, Bronzers, and Contour Products

Posted on July 19, 2017 under Inventory

Onwards with the inventory series! Today I’m doing highlighter, bronzer, and contour products all in one, since I don’t have enough of the latter two categories to warrant their own posts. As always, I’ve linked to full reviews where they exist.

Powder Highlighter

Whoever led me to believe that the ELF Illuminating Palettes were good should be JAILED, because they are TERRIBLE. I am so heated about this that I am in caps lock mode. You’ll be able to see better in the swatches below, but they have basically no payoff at all and are powdery and dry-looking. I’m on board with a subtle highlight, but these are just bad.

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Moonstone was my first highlighter purchase, and it’s one of my favourites. It’s the perfect light champagne shade for my fair skin, and though it packs a punch it’s not glittery or chunky. I don’t always want a highlight this in-your-face, but it’s beautiful for those moments. The SSP in Opal is most talked-about, but if you’re on the fairer side check out Moonstone – it gives pretty much the same effect but is more suited for fair to light skintones.

I really enjoy the peachy-pink glow of my Hourglass Ambient Strobe Lighting Powder in Iridescent. However, all in all I think this is a pretty standard highlighter, and I was expecting more of Hourglass. As the world’s biggest Ambient Lighting Blush fan, I yearned for them to do a proper highlighter for ages, so of course I was first in line to buy one when they launched. I do think this is a nice powder – finely-milled, soft, and glowy without being glittery – but I was kind of expecting them to revolutionize the highlighting game. I enjoy the one I have but I won’t buy another.

The first four swatches are the ELF highlighters, but you can’t even see the first three because THEY ARE SO BAD. After those we have Becca Moonstone and Hourglass Iridescent.

Cream/Liquid Highlighters

I much prefer powder over cream when it comes to blush, but with highlighter it’s the opposite. It’s partially the ease of swiping on a cream product and partially the finish creams tend to give. Powder highlighters are usually more intense, whereas creams are slightly toned-down and melt into the skin better.

The Topshop Glow Highlighter in Polished is probably my favourite highlighter ever: it gives an intense, pearly glow that is downright otherworldly. It’s a statement highlight, but I love it. I own nothing else remotely like this.

Glossier Haloscope in Quartz was my first exposure to stick highlighter, and it could not have been a better one. This is an incredibly emollient formula which looks almost glazed on the skin. It can be applied directly from the stick and blended in with the fingers with minimal effort. It’s super pretty and just how I like my highlight to look: present but not over-the-top.

I wasn’t expecting much from the new-ish Revlon PhotoReady InstaFix Highlighter Stick in Pink Light, but I do like it. It has a dryer texture than the Glossier Haloscope by far, so I like to apply it by rubbing my finger in the product and then tapping it onto my face. It also doesn’t blend as easily, but it doesn’t require excessive elbow grease by any means. It gives a very nice, borderline metallic pink highlight. They do make one in a champagne shade as well, but champagne highlighters are a dime a dozen and I do find something more pink-based quite flattering on my skintone. My only major complaint about this product is that it costs $23 in Canadian drugstores. Like… what? DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT THE DRUGSTORE IS, REVLON????

Finally, the newest addition to my highlighter collection, Vichy Teint Idéal Highlighter. This is a liquid product which is applied via rollerball. It’s a very thin, sheer, almost white-based formula which doesn’t add much colour to the face but which gives a glorious wet look. I got this at a Vichy brand training and wasn’t expecting to enjoy it, but it’s quickly becoming one of my favourites. It’s easy to apply straight from the tube, blends in easily with the fingers, and looks stunning on the skin. I’d definitely recommend this one if you want a wet-look highlighter!

L-R: Topshop Polished, Glossier Quartz, Revlon Pink Light, Vichy Teint Idéal.

Bronzer & Contour

I only ever have one bronzer at a time because it’s not a product type which I use heavily. Currently I have the Physician’s Formula Butter Bronzer in Light Bronzer, which is a good option for fair skin. I find this slightly warmer than the lightest shade of The Body Shop Honey Bronzer, for reference, but it still works fine on my skin. I’m not a bronzer connoisseur so I don’t have much to compare it to, but it’s nice. I don’t know that it’s necessarily worthy of the raves it got on YouTube when it first launched, because it doesn’t seem like anything special to me, but what do I know about bronzer? Not much! Oh, I also really dislike the strong artificial coconut scent, but that seems to be one of its drawing points for many people.

I love love love my Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder in Light for contour. It’s not too ashy but not warm by any means, and the depth and shade work very well on my colouring. This is a pricey little guy, but so far I have no regrets about this purchase.

L-R: Physician’s Formula, Kevyn Aucoin

Obviously, I’m very happy with the state of my bronzer and contour stash – I have one product to fulfill each of those functions, which is exactly what I need. I think my highlighter collection is a tiny bit excessive for someone who isn’t a highlighter fanatic, but it’s under control. I don’t see myself acquiring more products in any of these categories, at least not for quite some time.

Top 16 products of 2016

Posted on December 27, 2016 under Favourites

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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.

Skincare

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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.

Haircare

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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.

Face Products

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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.

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Swatches of Glossier Haloscope in Quartz, Hourglass Ambient Strobe Lighting Powder in Iridescent, and NARS Blush in Sin.

Eye Products

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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!)

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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.

Lip Products

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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?