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.

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.

Review: Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder in Light

Posted on January 28, 2017 under Reviews

If you’re here, reading a makeup blog, you’ve most likely heard all about the iconic Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder. Up until recently, this pricey little contour powder only came in one shade, Medium. I have a semantic dispute with the word “Medium” being used for the only shade in a line, as surely “Medium” implies that it’s between two ends of a spectrum, but never mind! I managed to resist the allure of the Medium Sculpting Powder if only because it’s famously expensive and because I already had a contour product which I enjoyed.

However, recently Kevyn Aucoin launched two more shades, Light and Deep, and my interest was most decidedly piqued. Finally, armed with a Sephora gift card, I bit the bullet in early January and purchased it. I’ve been using my Illamasqua Cream Pigment in Hollow – another very popular contour product, especially for pale skin – for over two years now, and, well, cream products don’t last forever. It’s looking crusty, guys.

I have to say, at $53 CAD this is definitely an expensive powder. But I think that at this point in my makeup-wearing days I’m used to rising makeup prices and the Canadian markup, so when I actually researched this product and saw the price I wasn’t particularly shocked. L’Oreal is charging 30 bucks for an eyeshadow palette and 16 for a mascara, $53 for a product from a high-end brand is kind of not that alarming. (Maybe that’s a sign that I need to stop buying makeup?)

When it comes to contouring products, the colour is maybe more important than the texture. Here I’ve compared the Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder in Light to Illamasqua Cream Pigment in Hollow and NYX HD Blush in Taupe (which I “decluttered”, aka banished to a bag that one day I will let my friends root through):

L to R: Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder in Light, Illamasqua Cream Pigment in Hollow, NYX HD Blush in Taupe

You can see that the Sculpting Powder in Light is lighter than NYX Taupe, though slightly darker than Illamasqua Hollow.

Though colour is really important in a contour product, texture isn’t irrelevant. Part of my issue with NYX Taupe was that it blended quite poorly. The Sculpting Powder is very soft. It’s necessary to tap off your brush when applying it as it does kick up a lot of powder, which you can see in my pictures. However, I wouldn’t call the texture “powdery” – it’s smooth and super pigmented. A little goes a long way. Though this is the light shade, I think it would be easy to go heavy-handed with this product on my skintone, which makes me really glad that I never purchased the original Sculpting Powder in Medium. I find Illamasqua Hollow easier to build up, whereas the Sculpting Powder in Light goes on pretty strong.

After several weeks of experimentation, I’ve found that the best way to apply it is to tap my brush very lightly into it and start by applying the product far back (almost at my ears) and slowly blending it forward. It gives the most natural look to me. Now that I’ve worked with this product for awhile I find it delightful to use and love the results it gives me, but it did have a bit of a learning curve when compared to my Illamasqua Hollow. (I would really coat my brush with Hollow; it’s quite sheer and buildable, so it wasn’t necessary to exercise caution when sticking my brush into it.)

Although I do like how foolproof Hollow is to apply and the fact that it can be built up to desired pigmentation, I have to say that the Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder in Light beats it in two ways: firstly, I think the rosy taupe colour works a bit better on my complexion than Hollow’s taupe-with-yellow-undertones. Secondly, although it costs a pretty penny, this is a product that I can truly use up to get my money’s worth, as it’s a powder and won’t go bad unless something really wild happens. (It also probably won’t look as icky after two years of daily use.)

The packaging of this product isn’t my personal aesthetic, but it’s no doubt a luxury product. It looks and feels expensive, at least. I do like how it opens: you press the little gold edge and the compact pops open. It’s neat, makes me feel better about the money I spent, and secure for things like travelling. I like that the packaging is slim and that there’s no space wasted with something like a shitty brush that if my friend accidentally drops it into a glass of wine I won’t be upset about at all because I wasn’t going to use it anyway even though she felt really bad and bought me a tequila shot as an apology which was probably a bad idea. (True story!) Basically, the packaging is functional, unobtrusive, kind of cool, and not ugly, which is all good in my books. It does collect fingerprints easily, but I can live with that. (If I were a real beauty blogger I’d have wiped it down before photographing it, but I’m a fraud.)

Here it is on my face, sans blush, bronzer, or highlighter:

I think it gives a nice, natural look. Achieving this look requires a tad more blending than with my Illamasqua Hollow, but the end result is really lovely. When paired with blush my face looks alive and lightly defined.

So far, the Sculpting Powder in Light is definitely one of my top picks for contouring on my skintone. I won’t be keeping Hollow anymore as it’s gotten old and I don’t need two contouring products, but I will say that they’re not exactly the same type of product. One is a sheer, buildable cream; one is an opaque, full-colour powder. They both serve the same function, but do so a bit differently, so I don’t think they’re interchangeable. However, compared to most bronzers as well as NYX HD Blush in Taupe, a pale person contour staple which I didn’t get on with, the Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder in Light is right up there!

The Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder in Light retails for $53 CAD or $44 USD for 0.11oz of product. That makes it $481.82 CAD or $400 USD per oz. It can be purchased Sephora, Nordstrom, SpaceNK, Mecca, and online at websites like Beauty Bay and Cult Beauty.