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.

Review: John Frieda Sheer Blonde Hi-Impact Shampoo, Conditioner, and Restoring Oil Elixir

Posted on May 21, 2016 under Reviews

Note: I received these items for free through Influenster (referral link – I get 5 points if you sign up using it), but all opinions are my own!

John Frieda Sheer Blonde Hi-Impact Shampoo, Conditioner, Oil

I was really excited when Influenster sent me a box of John Frieda’s newest goodies for blonde hair: firstly, because it’s the first time I’ve qualified for an Influenster campaign, and secondly, because I’ve been using John Frieda blonde products for quite some time now. I’ve tried various tone-correcting shampoos and conditioners, but I return to good ol’ John most frequently because the prices are reasonable and the products are good.

Influenster sent along three items from the new launch, all from the Sheer Blonde Hi-Impact line: the Restoring Shampoo, Restoring Conditioner, and Restoring Oil Elixir. All of the copy about these products talks about how they “Repair and restore a healthy look and feel to distressed blonde hair” – however, I don’t believe they’re supposed to particularly colour correct, unlike the Go Blonder, which I love, or the Colour Renew, which is a true purple shampoo.

Although my hair is (very) damaged and I’m actively attempting to bring it back to life, generally when I’m looking to buy a product marketed specifically for blonde hair I want something that is tone-correcting. Very light blonde hair is a pain to maintain, and absolutely requires specialty products!

John Frieda Sheer Blonde Hi-Impact Shampoo and Conditioner

The Hi-Impact Restoring Shampoo and Conditioner are decent products. They leave my hair feeling fairly healthy and soft. However, my hair is really damaged at this point, and with these products I still don’t feel totally comfortable going without a deep conditioner. For someone with dry or moderately damaged hair, the shampoo and conditioner might do. For me, they don’t quite cut it – though I’ll admit that I’m a more extreme case than the average person. However, when paired with my usual Ice Cream hair mask my hair does feel softer than when I use the regular Go Blonder or the L’Oreal EverPure purple shampoo. I’ll use these guys up, but I’ll probably go back to my Go Blonder when they’re gone. I will say, though, that I haven’t found my colour has become significantly more brassy since I started using these products about a month ago. I just prefer to have something that does some heavy duty tone correction.

These products aren’t bad by any means; they’re just not quite right for my damaged blonde hair’s needs. I imagine they’d work quite well for other people – and probably not only blondes. (I guess they’re marketed towards blondes because it’s assumed that blonde = bleach = damage, which is certainly true in my case.)

John Frieda Sheer Blonde Hi-Impact Restoring Oil Elixir

The Hi-Impact Restoring Oil Elixir is very much for me. It’s a lightweight, thin oil which can be used on wet or dry hair. I try to avoid heat on my hair, but once in awhile I really don’t have a choice but to blow dry my hair so I won’t show up to work soaking wet. (I have a lot of hair; it takes a minimum of four hours of air drying before it looks at all socially acceptable.) Two pumps of the Restoring Oil Elixir leaves my blown-dry hair soft, smooth, and shiny. I’ll also use a pump of it mainly through the ends of dry hair if I notice that it’s feeling a bit crunchy. It doesn’t feel like oil on the hair and doesn’t make my hair greasy any faster – although, it should be noted, I have naturally dry hair made drier by bleach, so it doesn’t tend to get greasy very fast anyway.

All in all, I’m pretty happy with this Sheer Blonde Hi-Impact collection. In general I’ve been pretty impressed with the John Frieda products I’ve tried; while the shampoo and conditioner didn’t suit my needs, I think they’re nice moisturizing products, and the price point is pretty reasonable. And, of course, I love the oil. A little goes a long way so I don’t see myself running out of it too soon, but I would absolutely consider repurchasing it.

A new haircut for 2016

Posted on January 11, 2016 under Thoughts

In January 2014, I bleached my hair for the first time so that I could dye it magenta. After a brief flirtation with magenta and then hot pink (and a 6-week lavender interlude in the fall of 2014), I became a fulltime blonde in April 2014.

On January 4, 2016, I bleached my roots and toned my hair like I’ve done countless times. This time was the straw that broke the camel’s back: my hair became in alternating sections gummy and brittle, breaking off in remarkable amounts. The toner burned my scalp and I turned beet red. (Later I was told that I’d probably developed an allergy to my beloved Wella T-18!)

I knew this day would come; I’ve been rather indiscriminate with the bleach and was under no illusions that I’d be able to keep up the platinum forever. I immediately made an appointment with my hairdresser, who squeezed me in for the next day. I told her I was prepared to take as much off as necessary. She said we’d really only need to cut side-swept bangs to camoflage the breakage around the hairline and take a few inches off the lengths. I told her to go shorter.


Apparently my favourite selfie pose, with and without lipstick – because a good selfie is not complete without lipstick. YSL Rouge Volupté 17, for the record.

So shorter we went!

I really like my haircut; I’ve never been particularly attached to my hair, and though it was a bit of a shock to see it shorter than it’s been since I was thirteen, I was excited. I think once about three or four more inches grow back in I’ll like it even more, since I find just below chin length to be the most flattering on my face shape. But I’m glad I went for a big chop, because the more we took off last week, the less destroyed hair there is for me to deal with. I’m most devastated about the bangs; it took me eighteen months to grow them out from the blunt fringe I had for years, and I didn’t want to give up on my hard work. But they’ll grow back.

Shorter’s okay by me too because my hair is so thick that when it gets long sometimes it’s a bit unmanageable. I don’t think it’ll stop having a life of its own, but at least there’s less of it to wrangle! Also, don’t tell all the people who have told me repeatedly that blonde suits me, but I will not miss the process of doing my roots.

I’m not sure what the gameplan is now. Clearly, no more bleach will be in my future. I haven’t yet decided if I’ll dye the ends to match my roots or if I’ll just embrace a grungy, two-toned, very-long-roots look. Maybe I’ll even dye it another bright colour while I still have the blonde base. I think I’m going to try to let it be as much as possible for as long as possible, though – it’s been through a lot over the past two years, and certainly deserves a break!

All I know for sure is that I’m still adjusting to the extremely reduced amount of conditioner it takes for my whole head.

It doesn’t seem to dry any faster, though. It’s still absurdly thick, after all.