Empties: September 2017 to January 2018

Posted on January 30, 2018 under Empties

My last empties post was at the end of the summer, before I moved to Glasgow – it’s been awhile! But after months of diligently using stuff, I have finally collected enough garbage to share with you.

Anything marked with an asterisk was received as gratis through work. There are no press samples featured in this post.


Biotherm Blue Therapy Serum-In-Oil*: I’m very sad to see this go, because it was an absolutely lovely, nourishing serum step. However, at $78, I will not be replenishing my supply. I will say, though, this truly is a “serum-in-oil” – it feels oily and is incredibly rich and hydrating, but it sinks into the skin easily and doesn’t feel heavy like some oils tend to do even on my dry skin. I would buy this with Optimum points if I were in a particularly indulgent mood.

Biotherm Life Plankton Sensitive Emulsion*: This is an overpriced moisturizer. It was absolutely fine as a pre-makeup step, but for $55 I don’t want “absolutely fine”.

Jouviance Glyco Laser 5% Soft Peel Night Cream*: My skin loves glycolic acid, and a 5% concentration worked really well for nightly use. This cream was great over the spring and summer months – it wasn’t too heavy but gave me enough hydration. It was fortuitous that I ran out of it as the cooler weather started to settle in, because it wouldn’t have been enough for winter.

Caudalie Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet: This moisturizer layers nicely under makeup but isn’t as hydrating as I would have wanted. It also smelled really weird, and not in a good way. It was convenient to have on hand for travelling, but hahaha $48 for a 40mL tube of an okay moisturizer.

The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane: I like having an oil on hand for my hair, body, and face, and this one didn’t disappoint. It worked well for all three purposes and I liked it a bit more than The Ordinary’s Argan Oil, which was a tiny bit heavy on my face. I have repurchased this and use it whenever my face needs some serious help in the hydration department!

Nuxe Rêve de Miel Lip Balm: I have sung this lip balm’s praises enough times, I think. This is the second pot I’ve finished; of course, I’m already enthusiastically working my way through a third. I got my mom hooked on this stuff, too. It’s on the pricier side ($17 CAD), but a pot lasts me upwards of a year and it’s legit the best thing for my dry lips.

Nivea Hydro Care Lip Balm: I’m pretty sure I got this in my stocking when I was, like, 15, and recently started using it on a regular basis. Anyway, this is actually a really nice stick lip balm. I switched to Vaseline in a stick after I used this one up, and this one gives longer-lasting and generally richer hydration. When I finish the disappointing Vaseline I’ll probably go back to good ol’ Nivea.

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5: Photographed separately and on a different background because I finished it while in Toronto for Christmas and don’t understand the meaning of the word “consistency”. I use this as a hydrating serum step and I love it; this is the third bottle I’ve finished.


John Frieda Sheer Blonde Tone-Correcting Shampoo x3: I have been around the block when it comes to purple shampoos, and my favourite is Light Blue Shade. Since I can’t get that here in the UK, I have come back to a longtime favourite. The obvious downside is that I go through a 250mL tube quickly, as you may have surmised from the fact that there are three empty tubes featured in this post. But my hair has been suitably ashy, and the price is right. John Frieda is one of the rare brands that is much cheaper here in the UK; normal price is £6.95, but I always buy my shampoo when it’s on sale for £3.95. That’s about $6 CAD, down from the ~$14 it goes for in Canada. (By the way, the bottle in the second picture is the old packaging, because I still had a tube of it kicking around back in Toronto.)

Batiste Dry Shampoo – Blush: I don’t love this particular floral scent, but my friends and I have come to the conclusion that for some reason the Blush Batiste works better than the regular one. Batiste will always be a go-to dry shampoo staple for me because it works and you can find it nice and cheap at Winners. (I mean, not that the $10 price tag at the drugstore is terrible, either.)


Remind me not to photograph black tubes on a dark background again…

Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer in Fair: This is my second shot at this concealer. The first time I used the pink illuminating shade and found it made my undereyes look ashy. This time I went for Fair, which was a great shade for me. It’s a pretty good undereye concealer, but it doesn’t blow my mind.

Clarins Truly Waterproof Mascara: My favourite mascara – it makes my lashes look super long and defined without any clumps. I don’t mind that it’s waterproof; biphase remover takes it off easily. I despise spending money on mascara and bought this with Optimum points so I could wear it to my friends’ wedding. (Good thing; I cried!) I’ll need another good excuse to buy another tube, as much as I love it – $27 ain’t cheap.

L’Oreal Brow Artist Plumper in Transparent: This truly is my favourite brow gel. The hold is great, and it never looks wet or crispy on my brows. However, I think $14 for a drugstore brow gel is pushing it, so I only buy it when it’s on sale for $8.99. Right now I’m using Essence because I ran out of this stuff and it wasn’t on sale and I was feeling very cheap. I miss it, though. God, don’t you hate getting hooked on a product that’s unnecessarily expensive? I mean… it’s clear brow gel, the most boring product on Earth. I don’t want to spend more than $5 on it!


Witchcraft Be Strong Protein Hardener: I’ve had peely nails for about three years now, and this base coat really helps keep them in good shape. Since I used this up I discontinued use since I can’t find it in the UK, and I find my nails are actually in really good shape. I speculate that it’s because I’m no longer working with my hands so much, but it could be coincidental. Either way, I strongly recommend this if you struggle with peeling nails!

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat: I fell in love with this top coat back in the summer of 2014, and after trying a few others I have ultimately come back to this one. I like it better than the ever-popular Seche Vite! Now that I’m not working retail my nail polish lasts a lot longer, and I can get through an entire week with no chips when I use this top coat.

Beauty UK Nail Polish in Black: I bought this nail polish when I studied abroad in Glasgow, and now that I am back in Glasgow it has become a gloopy mess. Full circle! There’s nothing special about this nail polish either way. Knowing myself I assume this was cheap and that’s why I bought it over all the other black nail polishes out there, and if that’s the case then I think it’s a good budget buy.

Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Barracuda: This baby blue is one of my favourite nail polish colours ever, but the last time I used it it was so gloopy that I had to remove it immediately. I’m not sure if I’ll replace it because Barry M Sugar Apple is so similar that it’s hard to justify.

Lancôme glitter polish: I stole this from my mom’s nail polish stash in high school. (I would apologize, but she hardly ever wears nail polish, let alone glitter, and she probably got it for free because I can’t see her spending $30 on nail glitter.) It’s a really pretty fine white gold glitter that applies evenly, and it has been a staple of my Christmas manicures for many years now. But it’s pretty much completely dry, and the bottle has been caught in the crossfires of a few mishaps, so it’s time to say goodbye.

I don’t normally have so many nail empties, but I’m happy to thin out the herd even more. I’ve been getting increasingly stressed with the concept of owning a lot of things, so the more I use up the better. I’m not sure when my next empties post will be or how many products it will contain, but stay tuned, I guess.

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.

Pre-moving declutter part II: Face and Eye Makeup

Posted on August 31, 2017 under Declutter

Throughout the years I have hauled my ever-expanding makeup collection back and forth between various locales. I’m never going to be a makeup minimalist, because I think it’s fun to try new products and to be able to do lots of different looks, but in preparation for my upcoming move back to Scotland I’ve been slowly weeding out useless products from my collection. There are things that I’ve been moving with me for years that I never touch. When I have to move my entire life via plane, I have limited space for the most important things I own. I don’t want to waste space transporting stuff that I hold onto only out of some strange, nebulous compulsion and not because I actually use it.

Since my last declutter, I’ve continued to put things aside to pass onto more loving homes, and finally I am ready to share my latest ruthless round of culling with you. Some of these items are products which I’ve had almost as long as I’ve been a makeup user but which I can no longer justify keeping. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – there’s nothing like a transcontinental move to help you declutter!

Because there were a lot of products, I’ve decided to do lip stuff in a separate post. Today we’ll be going over eye and face things (and a few other random bits).

Face Products

Paul and Joe Illuminating Primer: I don’t see myself using up this DS size; I don’t think it does much and I won’t miss the extra step.

Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Foundation in 110 Porcelain: Despite my dry skin, this formula works quite nicely on me – it’s lightweight, medium coverage, and not too drying at all. It’s also a great colour match for me as it’s a very fair, yellow-based shade. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this product, especially since it’s one of the few foundations at the drugstore that’s actually still cheap. But I have too much foundation as it is, and this one didn’t fill any specific niche for me. I want to use up what I have before it goes bad, so out this goes.

NYX Colour Correcting Palette: These colours are a bit too creamy and crease-prone for me. The only one that I got any use out of was the peach, and even then it didn’t layer nicely with other liquid and cream products. You can see that the yellow and both of the concealer shades are totally untouched.

Sleek Blush By 3 Palette in Lace: This was a longtime favourite; I have no complaints about the formula of either the mattes or the shimmer shade in this palette. But I only ever used the middle shade, Guipure, a warm pink which has the prettiest sheen thanks to its gold shimmer. When I think about it, I rarely reach for Guipure over, say, Hourglass Luminous Flush or my LE Chanel blush, both of which give a similar – though not identical – effect on my cheeks.

ELF Illuminating Palette: These powders are terrible and look like nothing on me.

ColourPop Super Shock Cheek in Rain: A lovely warm lilac which I used to have good fun with. Looks great applied heavily to the cheeks and up the temples. However, I don’t love cream blush, and this product taught me that I won’t wear purple blush on a regular basis. I pretty much bought it to test that hypothesis, so I consider it money well-spent.

Eye Products

L’Oréal Voluminous Base: The last time I bought a mascara primer I concluded that I would never work this extra step into my routine, and that has held true. Lesson learned, belatedly.

Revlon Mega Multiplier Mascara*: This mascara did basically nothing for my eyelashes.

Lancôme Grandiôse Extrême Mascara in Bleu Nuit*: I was never impressed with this mascara, and the unremarkable effect it had on my lashes was not mitigated by the colour. The navy blue barely showed up on me, leaving me with a mascara that read as a rather boring black. Pass!

NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil in Milk: Once upon a time NYX was impossible to get in Canada and I made my mom buy me not one but two of the 2013 staple Milk when she was in New York. (Now there are two NYX stores in Toronto.) Let’s see – this creases like a bitch on me when used as an eyeshadow base and is too thick to reasonably use as an eyeliner. I used up that much of the shorter pencil when I was trying to make me and my two friends look dead on Halloween and otherwise it has not been useful.

Stila Smudge Sticks in Halfmoon, Purple Tang, and Lionfish: I use these liners very rarely and see no point in keeping them around.

Maybelline Colour Tattoos in Tenacious Teal, Electric Blue, and Inked in Pink: The days of cream eyeshadow are largely behind me, though Inked in Pink was once a daily-use product for me. Tenacious Teal and Electric Blue are not colours that I ever wear. I probably shouldn’t have bought Electric Blue in the first place, though I believe it was on clearance for a reasonably $2.50. Tenacious Teal served its purpose in replicating David Bowie’s “Life On Mars?” video.

ColourPop Super Shock Shadows in Beverly and Stereo: At a year and a half old, Beverly is completely dried-out and useless. I enjoyed it while it worked! Stereo, a dark plum with gold shimmer, was never the colour I wanted it to be – which is my fault for trusting the (Photoshopped) swatches on the ColourPop website. Realistically, I’m not going to use it – out it goes.

Lancôme Color Design eyeshadow in Infinitely Indigo: Four years after this eyeshadow made its way into my collection c/o Aisling, it’s finally time to say goodbye. I’m actually at a point in my makeup-wearing life where the colour this eyeshadow appears in the pan appeals to me, but it shows up much more muted on my eyes. Unrelated, but I wonder when Lancôme is going to repackage their eyeshadows: the black and clear plastic looks quite cheap.

Stila Eyes Are the Window Palette – Spirit: These are nice sheer, buildable shadows, but I have a lot of neutral eyeshadow and this is the palette I reach for the least. All the shades are dupeable within my own collection, so I won’t miss it.

Sleek i-Divine Eyeshadow Palette in Ultra Matts V2: I begged Aisling to send me this from England when these palettes were all the rage in 2013. These are nice enough matte eyeshadows – they don’t live up to, say, ABH or KVD quality, but for a $15 palette I have no complaints. There were a few colours I really liked in this palette, too. The plum, Villan (sic) was a particular favourite. But these colours just don’t speak to me these days.

The Body Shop Eye Palette in Smoky Plum: This palette is constantly almost getting destashed, and then I use it and remember that I really like it. These taupey purples really appeal to me, and each shade in this palette is carefully-selected. But I still never seem to reach for it, and when I want a neutral purple eye look I have other options.

Lancôme Color Design Palette – GWP: I held onto this quad for the peach shade, Kitten Heel, which really is beautiful. The other shades, though they complement Kitten Heel perfectly, are utterly generic and not especially great quality. In the end, I don’t use Kitten Heel enough to justify keeping this quad, and I can get similar looks from other products.

Lancôme Color Design Palette in Blush Sweetness – GWP: I did at one point really enjoy these pinky shades – and they are incredibly soft, smooth, and blendable – but I pulled this palette out after at least a year of neglect and found that I didn’t like the look I got from it. Save for the middle shade, every other colour in the palette is easily dupeable, and I don’t really like the middle shade on myself anyway: it makes me look a bit ill, whereas a more saturated pink looks like a deliberate statement.

Wet n Wild Silent Treatment Trio and Comfort Zone Palette: After literal years of saying I would, I finally bought an empty palette (one of the tin ones by MUFE) and depotted the Wet N Wild eyeshadows that I actually use. The depotting process warped the plastic so the compacts don’t shut, so I’ll have to toss these.

Fragrance Samples

I had no idea I had collected so many fragrance samples that I will never use. I’m not big on fragrance anyway, and my tastes lean towards the very simple. I’m passing on these samples of Givenchy Dahlia Divin, Narciso Rodriguez For Her, Jean Paul Gaultier Classique, Paco Rabanne Olympea (x2), Dolce and Gabbana Dolce, Burberry Brit, Lacoste L.12.12 (x2), Thierry Mugler Alien Eau Extraordinaire, Prada Candy Florale, and Prada Candy Kiss.

Miscellaneous Products

Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Rosy Outlook and Essie Play Date escaped my big nail polish declutter, but when I wore them again I felt very “meh” about both. Rosy Outlook is a little too saccharine a pink for my tastes, and I wish Play Date were a tinge warmer. It’s not the most flattering colour on my nails.

I’ve never found a use for my Real Techniques Pointed Foundation Brush, but perhaps one of my friends can.

That’s 27 makeup products, 12 fragrance samples, 2 nail polishes, and one brush. Not bad – and wait until you see the lipstick declutter!