Posted on February 06, 2018 under Lists
It’s been quite some time since I shared what skincare I’m using, so I thought I’d do a bit of a skincare update. I’m still working my way through the backlog of gratis from my days working in cosmetics; as a result, there are some items in this post that aren’t utter favourites. But I think lukewarm to negative reviews are very useful, so why not include them?
As always, my skin is normal to dry, leaning dryer at this time of year. (Actually, most of my face has settled down from the transition in seasons – it’s only my nose that is still parched.) I usually only break out hormonally, and I do have fairly persistent hyperpigmentation which follows blemishes long after they die. I focus on hydration and acid toning in my skincare. I probably do my full skincare routine about 95% of the time. I never go to bed without washing my face and slapping on some night cream or an oil, but I can’t think of the last time I skipped a step – maybe in somewhere in the Christmas madness.
Here’s what my skin looks like without makeup. These pictures were taken at the end of January, when I was recovering from a stress breakout. (80% healed now, I’d say.)
I sometimes have closed comedones on my forehead and I get the occasionally random zit there, but it’s usually clear. It’s hard to tell in this picture but at this time a rare blemish was in the final stages of healing.
It can be hard to tell the difference between freckles and hyperpigmentation, but there are a few healing blemishes around the centre of my face here, which is rare for me. The ones on the left side of my chin are more standard – I always have either an active breakout or hyperpigmentation there. Despite the fact that my most recent breakout was larger than normal, this is pretty much the best my skin will be: by the time the hyperpigmentation starts to fade, a new zit will find a home on my face. Skincare really helps mitigate the length and scope of my breakouts, but, like 99% of people on this planet, my skin will never be totally blemish-free.
By the way, usually my zits aren’t too bad, but I do have the really bad habit of picking them, and sometimes they’re monsters to begin with, and the combination sometimes results in disasters.
I also occasionally have a bit of blotchy redness at the bottom of my cheeks. This tends to be more pronounced in hotter weather, so it’s not very noticeable right now at all. I don’t generally have very sensitive skin, but some skincare also exacerbates this redness.
Finally, I think it’s essential to note that, while skincare is a really great tool to address various concerns, a lot of “good skin” is genetic. I’ve never had particularly problematic skin; even at the peak of my teenage breakouts (age 14-15) I was doing okay. I hope it’s obvious that I’m not saying this to brag, just to be realistic about the results my skincare routine can actually achieve.
Gratis received through work will be marked with an asterisk, as always.
In the morning, I like to keep things pretty simple – I prefer not to rush through my morning routine but also like to maximize on my sleep, so there’s a delicate balancing act! If my face feels quite dry I don’t bother washing it; if not, I use a light cream or gel cleanser. Currently I’m using the Avène 3-in-1 makeup remover*, which does an okay job at gentle cleansing but which I do find leaves a sticky residue if I don’t wash it off vigilantly. My favourite cleanser for this purpose is the Marcelle Ultra Gentle Cleansing Gel. It’s gentle but efficient and doesn’t strip the skin or leave a residue. And it’s only $12.95! I’ll go back to it when I finish the Avène.
Unlike every other surface of my body, my undereyes are not horribly dry, so in the morning I’ve been really enjoying the Biotherm Homme Aquapower Eye Depuffer*. It’s a light, cooling gel that is perfect first thing in the morning when I’m trying to do my makeup despite the fact that it’s pitch black.
Lately I’ve been starting my skincare with The Ordinary EUK 134 0.1%, which is an antioxidant with an oily texture. I love using antioxidants if I’m going outside – living in a city I’m exposed to lots of free radicals in the forms of pollution, car exhaust, etc. For this time of year the oily texture of the EUK has been working quite well for me, but I’m not sure if I’ll love it so much in the summer. I find it layers well under other products but I’ll have to see if it’s too heavy in the warmer months, when my skin is pretty much normal.
For moisturizer I’ve been using La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra*. I’m a longtime fan of LRP’s Toleriane Riche, which is a thicker cream great for dry, sensitive skin. However, Toleriane Ultra is thinner and layers better with other skincare and makeup. It isn’t as fluid as some moisturizers and does deliver enough hydration for my day-to-day needs – it helps that I pack on a lot of hydration in my nighttime routine so that I can use lighter products under my makeup.
Sunscreen is Vichy Ideal Soleil SPF50* – I find this one and the LRP Anthelios fluid basically interchangeable. Both are lightweight, non-greasy facial sunscreens that layer well. When I run out, I’m interested in trying some Japanese sunscreens since I hear great things about them and they seem to be a bit more cost-effective than Vichy or LRP.
And that’s it for my morning routine – I don’t use actives or do too much product layering.
My nighttime skincare routine is one of my favourite rituals, and washing my face is the best part. There’s something so satisfying about taking off broken down, hours-old makeup. I always really like the way my skin looks when I’m freshly-cleansed, too. My cleansing routine could be described as “extra”, but I like to be really thorough and make sure my face is spotless. I’ve been a devoted user of oil cleansers for about five years now; I find they’re great at breaking down makeup, and they do my dry skin a big favour. Currently I’m using the Biotherm Total Renew Oil Cleanser*. It has a very pleasant texture – not greasy, and without any residue. Though it’s effective and nice to use, I think it’s too expensive for what it is. The Body Shop Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil is half the price (and as we all know The Body Shop constantly has deals) and I like that it emulsifies more.
I find that no cleanser ever gets all my makeup off, even if my skin looks bare to the naked eye. I always do a second pass with a gentle gel cleanser, so the Avène cleanser comes into play here. On no-makeup days (which are pretty frequent, actually; I’m only on campus three days a week and don’t normally put on makeup to run errands) I just use the Avène cleanser.
I will always love the La Roche-Posay Respectissime Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover, which gets absolutely everything off without any tugging or rubbing. It’s as good as Lancôme Bi-Facil and half the price.
I follow all of that up with some micellar water; these days I’m using La Roche-Posay Ultra Micellar Water*. This one and Bioderma Sensibio are tied for my favourite. I know most people use micellar water as a first step to remove makeup, but I prefer to use it at the very end. When using an oil-based eye makeup remover it’s essential to remove the residue to avoid milia, and a micellar solution helps balance the pH of the skin prior to acid steps.
Which, of course, brings me to the second-best part of my skincare routine. I use a chemical exfoliant every day; I know that’s too much for a lot of people, but my skin tolerates it well. Generally, I get on best with AHAs. Right now I’m using the Vichy Idealia Peeling*, which is glycolic acid. It’s great, but now that we have The Ordinary there’s no reason to spend $40 on an AHA. I’ve gone through an entire bottle of The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2%, which my skin really liked. I’ve also tried The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution, which is cheap as chips and just as effective as the expensive stuff. Occasionally I use The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2% (now discontinued) instead of an acid. I always leave my acids on my face for 20-30 minutes before moving on to other steps, because acids require a specific pH to work properly and layering other products negates the effects.
For my eyes, I’ve been layering The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + ECGC and Bioderma Sensibio Eye*. As I’ve mentioned, I’m not convinced that the Caffeine Solution actually does anything for dark circles, but I’ll use it up since it’s not like it hurts. The Bioderma eye cream is a very thin gel-cream hybrid that adds a little moisture and not much else. It’s nothing special, really.
To give my skin the moisture it needs, I use The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 as a serum step. This is my fourth bottle; it’s so inexpensive and it really does make a huge difference in my skin. My night cream these days is Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask, which is an incredibly rich cream that I swear by in the winter. This is my second winter using it and I haven’t had any nose flakes since before I discovered it. About once a week, if my skin is especially dry, I use The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane. Of all the oils I’ve tried I like squalane the best – it delivers moisture but isn’t too greasy. It’s also nice on my arms and legs and on the fried, burnt ends of my hair. (Just kidding, I haven’t bleached my hair in 11 months and it’s so much healthier!)
My final step is always Nuxe Rêve de Miel Lip Balm, which truly is the most nourishing, effective lip treatment I’ve found. It does have a pretty thick, waxy texture, so it’s a nighttime-exclusive kind of product for me.
And… that is it! I would guess that this is a pretty extensive routine compared to the average, but it doesn’t take me all that long and it addresses all my skin concerns. I hate being away from all my skincare products – that’s the worst part about travelling for me. Anyway – there’s a (far too detailed) breakdown of what I’m currently using.
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.
Posted on September 07, 2017 under Empties
Hello from Scotland! I landed yesterday morning and have been dealing with an uncharacteristic bout of terrible jetlag. I still feel a bit off, but I think one more sleep will set me right. I’m currently in a hotel and will be moving into my flat tomorrow afternoon. Yay! Here’s the view from my window:
Today I have some empties for you. This post outlines the results of my efforts to use up as much stuff as possible before my big move. Look, I had to use two box lids to house all of this crap!
The Body Shop Chamomile Silky Cleansing Oil: My third bottle! I’m a huge fan of oil cleansers, and this one emulsifies my makeup really well and leaves my skin feeling soft and hydrated.
A-Derma Exomega Emollient Cleansing Oil: Got this through work. It’s my second bottle of it. It’s a little bit thicker and less runny than the Body Shop one but takes my makeup off just as well. I do wish it had a pump, though.
Bioderma Sensibio Makeup Removing Micelle Solution: One of my favourite micellar solutions for sure – it’s a classic for a reason! It doesn’t dry out my skin at all, which a lot of micellar waters do.
Vichy Pureté Thermale One Step Cleansing Micellar Solution – 100mL and 30mL bottles: I find this micellar solution too drying for my face. I used it for travel and to remove swatches. The deluxe sample size (30mL) is especially great for shorter trips.
La Roche-Posay Respectissime Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover: I’ve cracked open my third bottle after using this one up! I think it’s so great – gentle but really effective and reasonably-priced.
Lancôme Bi-Facil Double Action Eye Makeup Remover: This is one of the best eye makeup removers I’ve ever used, but the price is unjustifiable. I really like the DS sizes for travel, but otherwise I stick to the LRP – it’s just as good and half the price.
Vichy Eau Thermale: I don’t use thermal water sprays on my face, but I used this to wet my sponge when I was feeling lazy. Got this for free through work.
Lancôme Tonique Douceur: This was gratis from work. I thought it was a decently effective hydrating toner, but it’s expensive for what it is and highly fragranced. Definitely would not buy for $39.
NeoStrata Purifying Solution 8% Glycolic Acid: My second bottle. My skin likes gycolic acid a lot. I also used this occasionally on my arms and legs since I have keratosis pilaris and glycolic acid is one of the few things that seems to visibly reduce it.
The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10%: My skin really liked this and I’d totally repurchase it. I have a full glycolic acid toner I got through work that I’ll use up first, though.
The Ordinary Niacinimide 10% + Zinc 1%: I like this to help purify and control blemishes. I don’t have acne-prone skin, but I get hormonal breakouts around my chin and since adding this to my stash I’ve found the severity of those breakouts has decreased. I’m also super into Niacinimide as a great all-around beneficial skincare ingredient: this form of vitamin B3 helps to even out skin and reduce dullness, and it’s an antioxidant as well.
The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5: This is my second bottle of this product; it’s replaced all other hydrating serums for me because it’s so much cheaper and just as effective. I usually use it day and night and it really boosts my skin’s hydration. It got me through a dry winter and I don’t find it too heavy for summer.
Lierac Hydragenist Moisturizing Oxygenating Replumping Serum: I didn’t enjoy this deluxe sample very much. It was super thin and oily, which made it messy to apply. The full size is $65, which seems absurd.
Lancôme Energie De Vie Smoothing and Glow-Boosting Liquid Care: My usual review of Lancôme products: nice, does what it says, but way too fragranced and completely overpriced. Got this through work.
Reversa Antioxidant Booster Serum: This is more of a light lotion than a serum. I enjoyed the texture and thought it helped keep my skin hydrated throughout the winter. It smelled like boiled hotdogs, though. I got it through work.
Vichy Aqualia Thermale Dynamic Hydration Light Cream: Nice moisturizer! Nothing amazing, but nice. Wouldn’t buy the full size.
La Roche-Posay Cicaplast: This is what I always use to heal my tattoos. It’s a lightweight gel formula that sinks in quickly and adds lots of hydration to the tattoo without dulling the colour as its sister the Cicaplast Baume B5 does. (The Baume is zinc-based, so it leaves a pretty severe white cast.) I’ve used it on three out of four tattoos so far and I’ll use it again next time!
Bioderma Sensibio Eye: This eye cream grew on me when I abandoned the pretense that it would do anything but hydrate. As a lightweight moisturizing gel, it was very nice. I don’t have super dry undereyes, so the texture was perfect for me.
Aloe Mask: I don’t know what the brand of this mask is or where you can buy it, but it was a very nice hydrating sheet mask. Nothing super special, but a nice treat.
Life Brand Moisturizing Facial Sheet Cream Mask: This sheet mask was very much soaked in a thick, white moisturizing cream rather than a lightweight serum. I’m not sure I enjoyed this. I used two of them up, but only one is pictured.
A-Derma Intense Repair Lip Balm: I forgot to include this in the flatlays, but this lip balm honestly deserves its own picture because it is that good. It’s a clear, thin consistency which makes it a great daytime option when compared to the super thick and waxy Nuxe Rêve de Miel lip balm which I love for nighttime. The catch is that A-Derma has discontinued this product because of course they have! I would have repurchased it in a heartbeat, but apparently we just can’t have nice things in the year 2017.
Batiste Dry Shampoo in Floral & Fruity Blush and Big and Bouncy XXL Volume: I haaaated the XXL Volume so much. It completely dried my (super damaged) hair out. So I guess if you have extremely oily hair this stuff will really do the trick. The Floral & Fruity Blush wasn’t my favourite scent, but it was fine.
Light Blue Shade Original Shampoo and Volumizing Shampoo: Bottle three and four of Light Blue shade done and dusted – I’ve been using this for about a year now and I love it. It’s only $10 at the drugstore, and it’s the most effective purple shampoo I’ve ever used. It’s not too drying, either, which some purple shampoos can be. I didn’t notice any difference between the Original and Volumizing versions, but I have natural volume anyway.
John Frieda Sheer Blonde Hi-Impact Restoring Shampoo*: I got this through Influenster and I ended up really liking it. I like to alternate between a purple shampoo for tone maintenance and one that’s a little more hydrating. This fit the bill for a hydrating shampoo perfectly. I’ve generally been a fan of the John Frieda blonde hair products – one of the first thing I bought here in the UK was a bottle of their tone-correcting shampoo since I can’t get Light Blue Shade here.
Matrix Biolage Conditioning Balm: This is a nice conditioner which was a hand-me-down from my mom. It’s not enough for hair that’s thoroughly bleach-damaged, but I liked to use this on my roots and a deep conditioner through the lengths. I can’t get very excited about conditioner, nor can I compel myself to spend much on it.
StriVectin All Smooth Conditioner: Sample size received through work. Way too expensive for what it is: a decent conditioner. I used it up on my trip to Kentucky in the spring.
StriVectin All Smooth Overnight Anti-Frizz Serum: Sample size received through work. I don’t know if this did anything, to be honest.
Bath & Body
L’Occitane Almond Shower Oil: I don’t care how unnecessary this expenditure is. I love this stuff too much to stop! Anyway, this mega-sized bottle of it lasted me and my mom more than a year and a half, so I’m not too mad about it.
Freeman’s Pomegranate Sugar Scrub: A staple of my empties posts.
La Roche-Posay Lipikar Fluide: I liked this okay as a lightweight body lotion, but my arms and legs are so dry that I really need something richer. They’ve discontinued this and replaced it with the Lipikar Lait, which is very similar in texture.
Avène TriXera Nutri-Fluid Lotion: Pretty similar to the Lipikar Fluide except much more watery in texture. Nice enough for the summer, but not my ideal body moisturizer.
The Body Shop Grapefruit Body Butter (mini): Meh. This is a pretty standard Body Shop body butter – it’s pretty greasy and not enough for my dry skin. The coconut one is the best one, and I will probably buy some this winter.
Make Up For Ever Ultra HD foundtation in Y215: This is my no-brainer, no-fuss foundation that never lets me down. It applies easily with whatever method I choose (brush, sponge, fingers), it has a nice medium coverage and a natural finish, and it never makes my skin look dry. This is also one of my best shade matches. (I was previously using R210, which was too pink.) I’m trying to get through some of my other foundations right now, but I can see myself going back to this.
NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Chantilly: I loved how this brightened my undereyes in initial application, but after a few hours it looked so dry on me. I know not everything works for everyone, but I’m sad that this didn’t work for me… especially at $36.
Marcelle Ultimate Fringe Effect Mascara: I’m generally a fan of Canadian drugstore brand Marcelle, and I thought this mascara was great. If anything, it got better with age. It gave me the length and definition I so crave in mascaras and never got clumpy. It wasn’t great on the bottom lashes because it transferred, but it’s a nice little drugstore option for those in the Great White North.
Stila Stay All Day Waterpoof Eyeliner in Intense Black and Snow: Loved these. Snow was so much fun, and Intense Black is a staple in my life. I can’t even tell you how many of them I’ve gone through, but I’m probably approaching double digits now.
Clarins Waterproof Eye Pencil in Noir: This is a creamy, smooth pencil eyeliner. I used it daily to tightline. It’s not totally transfer-proof, so I wouldn’t repurchase.
Benefit Gimme Brow in Light: As much as I liked the convenience of this tinted, fiber-filled brow gel, I don’t think I could justify the price. I do really appreciate how easy this is to travel with; when I’m away I don’t always want to fuss with the pomade I usually use. There are lots of dupes on the market, though.
Tanya Burr Cosmetics Lash Glue: Even after I wore my Tanya Burr false lashes into the ground, I held onto the glue they came with. I think it’s great, and I love the brush applicator. It’s very goopy now, so it’s time for it to go.
Rimmel Exaggerate Lip Liner in Eastend Snob: I think this is the third one of these I’ve gone through – it’s such a no-fail colour, popular for a reason.
Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Patina (mini): I loved this dusty, mauvey pink colour, but my mini is finally all dried up. I probably won’t repurchase because I’m getting tired of liquid lipsticks.
ELF Lip Exfoliator: This brown sugar- and shea-based lip exfoliator is very convenient because it’s in stick form. Buying from ELF is a pain, though, since it’s hard to find most of their products in-store in Canada. (And the UK, for that matter…)
Quo Nail Polish Remover: This is a standard nail polish remover.
Sally Hansen Miracle Gel in Sugar Fix: I could get more mileage out of this bottle with a nail polish thinner, but I’m not a nail polish person and the fact that it’s goopy and lumpy tells me that it’s time to say goodbye. I loved this cornflower blue, and I think the Miracle Gel formula is great.
ELF Daily Brush Cleaner: I liked this just fine, but the scent is pretty strong and as Lyn pointed out, you’ll get the same results with alcohol.
Vichy Pore Purifying Clay Mask: This stuff totally works. I used it once all over my face and once localized on a gnarly chin breakout. I’d never buy the full size because you can buy kaolin-based masks for a lot cheaper.
Vichy Quenching Mineral Mask: This was nice, but I can give my skin a shot of moisture for cheaper.
Vichy Double Glow Peel Mask: I didn’t love the gritty texture on this mask. Because I incorporate AHAs into my daily skincare routine, I don’t really feel the need for an AHA mask.
Smashbox Insta-Matte Lipstick Transformer: I don’t like how goopy this is; it just feels like an extra layer on my lips. If I really want to mattify a lipstick I’ll just powder it through a tissue.
Benefit They’re Real! Remover: Oh, boy, I could not resist the urge to try another part of the They’re Real! line given how much I absolutely despise both the mascara and eyeliner. This did get my waterproof eye makeup off, but because it’s a lotion it’s a weird texture to use on the eyes. I prefer a biphase remover – it’s quicker and not as messy.
By the way, I am finally letting go of my trusty empties box, because it has seen better days:
Yes, that means saying goodbye to Harry Styles…
… but I have tickets to see him in October and April so I think he’ll forgive me.