Top 17 of 2017

Posted on December 22, 2017 under Favourites

One day the year will probably become so advanced that I will no longer be able to do these gimmicky little roundups. If I still have a blog in 2032 I probably will not have 32 products to share with you. I figure I’ll just keep doing this until I no longer have enough products to flesh out the list, and then I will make something new up.

Anyway, here’s what I discovered and loved in 2017. This time I’m doing it in chronological order instead of by category, because I like to shake things up. As always, these are products that I personally discovered in 2017. Most of them were not released this year! I’ll link to full reviews where possible.

Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder in Light

The hype is real: this is a soft, blendable, natural contour shade that is perfect for fair skintones. It’s not so cool as to look ashy but not so warm as to look muddy. This is an everyday product for me and absolutely a staple over the past year.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Palette

This has to be my favourite purchase of 2017. I lusted after it for half a year and it still managed to exceed my expectations. The shadows are wonderful quality, I genuinely use and love every shade, and I can get such a variety of beautiful looks out of it. This is my favourite palette, for sure.

(By the way, I took the pictures for this post quite a long time ago, but since then I’ve actually hit pan on Cyprus Umber.)

Lancôme Grandiôse Eyeliner in Ceruluean and Fuchsia*

Though these come with a hefty price tag, the vibrancy of the colours and the long-wearing formula of the liner makes me love them. I don’t have anything like these colours in my collection and I think they’re so fun and unexpected.

Buxom Plumpline Lip Liner in Hush Hush and Covert Affair*

Despite the strange marketing of these chubby, sharpenable pencils as lip liners, I think these are great matte lipsticks. They apply easily and smoothly, last well, and aren’t too drying. Somehow I can apply them over flaky lips and still like the result. Hush Hush is my go-to neutral and I can’t get enough of the burnt orange Covert Affair.

I have a hard time getting Covert Affair to photograph as orange as it is!

Hush Hush, from all the way back when I had red hair.

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

I’ve now gone through three bottles of this and I plan to keep going forever! This product has replaced all my other hydrating serums for a fraction of the cost. It’s great stuff, and at $6.80 CAD you really can’t go wrong.

Magic Collection Oval Brush

This $10 Artis knockoff has become my absolute favourite foundation brush. Its density is unparalleled by any other brush in my collection, and it buffs foundation seamlessly into the skin. Plus, its bristles are super soft, making foundation application as pleasant as possible.

Olaplex Step 3

I am staunchly pro-drugstore when it comes to hair products, but Olaplex was the only thing that worked on my supremely bleach-damaged hair when I went back to blonde in March. I’ve been using it weekly since then and it’s kept my hair in great condition. I mean, I did three years’ worth of bleach damage before I ever used Olaplex, but my hair is soft and smooth and actually looks and feels like hair instead of straw. Olaplex is the best thing I’ve ever done for my hair!

ELF Small Stipple Brush

This is such a great multi-purpose brush. It’s great for applying cream products to the cheeks, and it’s become my new go-to for contouring because it gives me more control and allows me to build the product up slowly for a more subtle effect. I have a lot of time for ELF brushes, and this is one of my favourites.

Milani Eyeshadow Primer

After years of loyalty, my NARS eyeshadow primer just stopped performing very well. Disheartened, I picked up a tube of the Milani Eyeshadow Primer on emilynoel83’s recommendation, thinking that if it didn’t work out it was only nine bucks down the drain. Well, colour me pleased: this primer holds onto eyeshadow amazingly well. I use it every single day and I know that nothing will come off my eyelids until I want it to.

Vichy Teint Idéal Pure Light Face Roll-On*

This is the most beautiful, impactful wet-look highlighter. Vichy’s makeup doesn’t get any buzz online, but if this absolutely stunning liquid highlighter is anything to go by, we should be paying attention to their releases. I neglected to take a picture of this on my face, but you can see it swatched on the right below:

Stila Magnificent Metals Liquid Eyeshadow in Rose Gold Retro

As usual, I jumped on the bandwagon late, but these liquid eyeshadows deserve every bit of the hype they’ve received. They are pure glitter in a user-friendly format, and the shade Rose Gold Retro is a beautiful dream.

Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Fire and Ice

This summer I decided to jump into the world of oranges and orangey-red lipsticks, starting with the long-time classic Fire and Ice. I’ve always been iffy about these types of tones on myself, but I surprised myself by immediately falling in love with Fire and Ice. The formula is comfortable and smooth without being slippery, and the colour is divine. I’ve seen appear on different people variously as an orange-red, a coral with a definitive hint of pink, and a straight-up orange. I don’t why I like this on myself so much, because it has a healthy dose of orange and neon, which should be a very unflattering combination on me. But I lived in this lipstick this summer!

Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Creme in So Sofia

God, I love this lipstick so goddamn much. I have been searching for this exact colour – a super vibrant coral that flatters my complexion – for eons, and So Sofia is it. Not only is the colour beautiful and harmonious on my face, the formula is excellent. I bought this lipstick in the second half of the year and it’s already one of my favourites ever.

ColourPop Blush Brush

When I ordered this brush out of curiosity back in the summer, I didn’t expect for it to become my favourite blush brush. I merely wanted another one so that I didn’t have to clean my brushes as often. (Uh, I already clean them shamefully infrequently, so…) But the soft synthetic bristles combined with the shape and size of this brush make it absolutely perfect for applying the exact right amount of blush every single time. I’ve used it almost every day since I bought it.

ColourPop Blotted Lips in Candyfloss

I’m very into ColourPop’s sheer matte Blotted Lips – they’re a comfortable, easy way to wear colour, and they’re a staple for casual makeup days. The terracotta Candyfloss is an unexpected favourite – as with most of the lip products I’ve featured in this roundup, Candyfloss has taught me to move outside of my comfort zone and embrace colours in the orange and brown families. Though it’s a bit of an unusual colour, the sheer matte finish means Candyfloss can look fairly understated and casual.

Urban Decay Liquid Moondust in Solstice

I don’t know if I’m just looking in the wrong places, but I haven’t seen anybody talking about Urban Decay’s liquid eyeshadows. Solstice is a stunning blue-red duochrome that I positively die for. It lasts forever on my eyes too – and when it comes to liquid and cream eyeshadows on my hooded lids, that’s a feat. I’ll have to check out some of the other shadows in this line, because it looks like there’s a whole range of absolutely stunning shades.

IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream in Fair*

If you asked me to describe my ideal foundation, I’d probably say “Fair with neutral-to-yellow undertones, medium coverage, finish somewhere between satin and dewy, hydrating and able to glide easily over dry patches, can be applied with brushes, a sponge, or fingers”. And that is exactly what the It Cosmetics CC Cream is! I actually tried quite a few foundations this year which I liked – Maybelline Fit Me Matte and Poreless, The Ordinary Serum and Coverage – but this one takes the cake. It looks so beautiful on my skin and is always comfortable to wear, and I love the incredibly functional packaging.

Runners up

(Because I like to cheat.)

And some runners-up for you, too: Bite Beauty Lip Pencils in 020 and 044*, ColourPop Lippie Pencil in Contempo, Lancôme Matte Shakers in Pink Power and Kiss Me Chérie*.

The Ordinary Colours Serum Foundation in 1.1N, Revlon PhotoReady Instafix Highlighter Stick in Pink Light, L’Oreal Brow Artist Plumper in Transparent.

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: It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream in Fair*

Posted on September 21, 2017 under Reviews

IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream in Fair

The product featured in this post was provided to me by the company at no cost. I was not compensated monetarily for this post and my opinion is completely honest, as always.

I have been interested in the IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream* for years now due to its much-loved status in the YouTube community. This is a product that is not only apparently universally-adored but that has longevity. It’s not a flash-in-the-pan trend; it’s a staple in YouTubers’ foundation drawer. When IT Cosmetics finally came to Sephora Canada in early August, I made a mental note to look into it when I ran through a bit of my current foundation stash. And then IT sent me a tube to try, which I think means this was meant to be.

Before I delve into the review, I’ll remind you that I have normal-to-dry skin. Currently I’m on the drier side as the weather transitions, and I live in a wet, temperate climate that’s heading into fall. I have relatively clear skin but deal with regular hormonal breakouts on my chin and persistent hyperpigmentation after active breakouts heal. I prefer light-to-medium buildable foundations with a natural finish.

Shade Range

The shade range of this product is pretty abysmal, which is such a bummer. Canada has a lot of multicultural cities (my hometown of Toronto was recently named the most diverse city in the world!), so seeing a brand with only seven shades and no apparent plans for expansion enter our market is disappointing. (It looks like they added the shade Deep pretty recently, but there are still plenty of darker-skinned people who will be completely shut out of this range.) Small shade ranges are looking particularly bad these days now that Rihanna’s brand Fenty Beauty has released 40 shades of foundation. Though it’s unfortunate that diversity tends only to gain traction when it’s clear that it’s profitable, that’s a reality of capitalism and I’m hopeful that the massive success of the darker shades in the Fenty Beauty range will inspire brands like IT Cosmetics to get on board with diversity.

I was sent the shade Fair for review, and my PR package actually stated that if the colour match was wrong I could request a different one, which I thought was nice. Luckily, Fair is a pretty bang-on match for me. I’m fair with neutral-leaning-yellow undertones, which is exactly how I’d describe this shade. (Generally these colours appear to run more on the neutral-to-yellow side.)

IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream in Fair swatches

Out of all of these shades I’d say the Ordinary 1.1N is my current best match, though MUFE Ultra HD in Y215 is the best I’ve found yet. (I completely used up my bottle so couldn’t use it for comparison swatches.) In swatches, the IT CC in Fair looks like it will be significantly too dark for me, but as you’ll see the shade works fine. If you’re lighter than around NC13 in MAC shades this will probably be a hair dark. I like that the IT CC Cream is neutral with slight yellow tones, which seems to suit me best. Though it’s certainly not pink-toned, in comparison with NARS Siberia it’s far less yellow.


IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream in Fair

Dude, I love this packaging. I wish every liquid foundation were packaged like this. First, there’s a pump, which is obviously the #1 thing we all look for in a foundation. Second, it’s in a squeezy tube! This means that a) you can squeeze out the last bit of product when the pump stops dispensing anything, and b) it’s super travel-friendly because there is no worry about breakage as with glass bottles. My only (small) gripe is that the silver does wear off – you can see in my photos that my tube looks pretty beat up even though I haven’t even had it for two months. It got a bit dinged up in my move, but it’s still totally functional. I don’t think this is the most aesthetically beautiful packaging, but from a usability standpoint it’s incredibly well-designed.

IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream in Fair

The wondrous pump!

This foundation contains an unusual 1.08 fl oz/32 mL of product, as opposed to the industry-standard 1 fl oz/30 mL. Oh well, I’m not going to complain about more product than is standard. At least it’s not a $65 foundation containing a mere 0.84 fl oz/25 mL of product.

Application and Finish

The Your Skin But Better CC Cream* is quite thick: a pump stands in a straight peak rather than spreading out as a thin liquid. Thicker foundations like this don’t always work on my skin, but this applies like a dream with every method I’ve tested and doesn’t feel or look thick. I’ve used my fingers, a damp sponge, and three different foundation brushes – two dense (my Magic Collection Oval brush and the Real Techniques Buffing Brush) as well as the Real Techniques Stipple Brush. I get an easy application and a beautiful finish every time. I absolutely delight in finding foundations that apply quickly and easily with my fingers, because when I’m lazy/in a rush that’s how I apply my foundation. I don’t mind making a little extra effort for a gorgeous finish, but obviously it’s a huge bonus when I know the product is going to work no matter what I do. That’s one of the reasons I love MUFE Ultra HD so damn much.

This foundation has a pretty natural finish, leaning towards dewy. Despite being on the drier side, I don’t love a super dewy foundation and prefer something between satin and dewy. I really like the finish of this product on my skin but wouldn’t want it to be much dewier.

A lot of people on YouTube seem to consider the Your Skin But Better CC Cream* full coverage; I would say it’s a solid medium. Maybe it’s just that it’s high coverage for a CC cream? I’m not one who expects massive coverage out of my base products and even I wouldn’t consider this full. I can build it up where I need it and it doesn’t look heavy or emphasize texture. Recently my nose has started to get super dry, which always signals an impending change in season, and this foundation applies very smoothly over that area, which is always the true test.

One pump of foundation is more than enough for this one – it allows me to do two thinner layers all over my face.

And of course, what we’re all waiting for – the before and after:

IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream in Fair

No makeup

IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream in Fair

Wearing only IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream in Fair*

And the left-side-of-my-chin test, because that’s my problem area:

No makeup

Wearing only IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream in Fair*

You can see that I actually wasn’t dealing with an active breakout here, just a bit of hyperpigmentation from old breakouts. The Your Skin But Better CC Cream* doesn’t completely cover those areas, but it really evens out the skin and looks natural and healthy.

IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream in Fair

Wearing only It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream in Fair*

I think this picture really shows the finish. It’s natural, glowy, and skin-like.


For a product that borders on dewy, this wears really well on my skin. My nose is pretty much a lost cause – though it’s dry right now, it’s also the only part of my face that produces oil, making it the worst of both worlds. My foundation always wears off there first. But on the rest of my skin, it looks really great throughout a full 10 hours of wear. It doesn’t break down or look heavy throughout the day. Do keep in mind that my skin is normal to dry, so base products don’t wear as quickly on me as they might on someone with a combo or oily skin type.

It can be difficult for me to get pictures showing 8+ hours of wear time since natural light quality isn’t very good past about 4pm at the moment, but here are some pictures I took last month after 8 hours, which included vigourous sweating. (These were taken after I did my driving test on a super hot day in a car with no AC and then walked 15 minutes home from the subway station – I put it through a fair amount.)

IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream in Fair

Full face situation. Overall good, but let’s zoom in and be picky.

It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream in Fair

As I said, on my nose it pretty much wore off completely, which is fine because that always happens. There’s also a bit of bunching of product at the top of my nose and between my brows, but that’s because I was wearing my glasses all day and that’s just the way life works. On days when I wear contacts I don’t experience that.

IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream in Fair

There’s a bit of bunching around my nose, but otherwise it looks pretty much impeccable across my cheeks. Yay!

Other Things to Note

The Your Skin But Better CC Cream* has an SPF of 50+, which is really high for a base product. Personally I still wear SPF underneath it because I can almost guarantee that to actually get SPF 50 out of this you’d have to apply way more than you’d ever want to. As with most if not all base products with SPF, this is a physical sunblock – containing titanium dioxide and zinc – meaning that it will cause a white cast when it comes to flash photography. It also may look ashy on darker skintones due to the physical SPF, though I can’t speak from personal experience there. Honestly, I could do without the SPF in this one; because I don’t think I’m really getting SPF 50 coverage I use a sunscreen underneath it so it makes it redundant, and it’s not super versatile because I wouldn’t wear it to any event where there might be flash photography. I guess SPF in base products is good for those who won’t wear a separate SPF, but I find it kind of annoying personally. It’s a shame because otherwise this foundation has a beautiful finish and photographs really well in natural lighting conditions.

This product has a pretty strong citrus scent. If you’ve smelled Bite Beauty lipsticks it’s quite similar to that. I don’t mind the scent and don’t find it lingers, but I’m against strong fragrance in makeup on principle. If you’re sensitive to scent maybe avoid this one.

Overall Thoughts

Despite its limited shade range, I think the It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream* is a really wonderful product that completely deserves its hype in the makeup community. It hits all the right notes for me: it’s easy to apply, looks beautiful on my skin, and wears impressively. Although the SPF50 and citrus fragrance are flaws, this is still a product that is extremely useful for my everyday life and that I will use up happily and even consider repurchasing.

The IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream retails for $49 CAD for 1.08 fl oz/32 mL of product, or $44.95 per fl oz/$1.53 per mL. Canadians can now purchase it at Sephora.

If you’re interested in picking a tube for yourself, IT Cosmetics kindly provided me with a 10% off code for use on Just enter ITGIRLCLEMENTINE at checkout by October 31. I don’t receive any commission on your purchase!