Top 18 of 2018

Posted on December 25, 2018 under Favourites

This will almost certainly be my last year structuring my favourites posts this way; I just don’t anticipate having nineteen favourites next year. But here are the eighteen items that brightened up my 2018. These products are presented in chronological order and encompass things I tried for the first time this year. (I cheated a little bit but it’s my blog and the rules are made entirely by me, so whatever.)

NYX Epic Ink Eyeliner

After four years of religiously buying the Stila liquid liner, I made the switch to NYX this year. I see virtually no differences between the two liners other than the price tag. Liners have the tendency to transfer on my lids, but this one stays put all day, which is 90% of what I care about. It’s also easy to apply, and one pen lasts a long time. (I can’t give a terribly accurate gauge of how long since I go through phases with liquid liner and haven’t used it too frequently this year.) NYX products nearly always disappoint me, but their liquid liners consistently impress.

Bite Beauty Custom Lipsticks

I really like the custom matte formula that Bite offers at their Lip Labs, and of course I’m in love with the burnt orange and vibrant magenta shades I got on a bitter day in January. I genuinely really like these lipsticks, but they’re also a favourite because of how fun the custom creation experience was. Definitely one of my most memorable Christmas presents from last year!

Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Creme in Strawberry Girl

This is a bit of a cheat: I incldued So Sofia in last year’s roundup, so Strawberry Girl wasn’t exactly a risky purchase. (Especially since my mom bought it for me on the last day of our month-long European adventure…) Of course I love this creamy, comfortable, longwearing formula and the sleek, substantial packaging. (It has a magnetic closure, guys!) But this muted-ish coral is new to my collection, and since I have nothing else like it I feel justified in calling special attention to it. After years of avoiding anything in the peach/coral/orange family, these are now some of my favourite colours to wear, and Strawberry Girl is complex and flattering. Here it is on my face:

Zoeva Luxe Petit Crease brush

This picture sucks because my DSLR wouldn’t focus on it so I had to use my phone.

Just so everyone is aware, Danish Sephoras carry Zoeva, and it’s a wonder I bought only this brush. But it’s fantastic – soft and comfortable to use, the perfect size and shape for delicate crease work. Brushes aren’t exactly the most exciting of beauty products, but judging by how much I reach for this it would be a glaring omission to exclude it from this list!

Stila Shimmer & Glow Liquid Eyeshadows – Jezebel and Kitten

There is nothing I don’t love about these shadows. They’re ridiculously shiny, they’re easy to apply and blend out, and they seriously do not budge. These shadows make it so easy to create a stunning, high-impact look with minimal effort or skill. I have a gif swatch of them in my summer favourites post in case you want to see how excellent they are. By the way, I love the original Glitter & Glow shadows, but those are definitely prone to a bit of fallout. Not so with these, which are truly gorgeous without any of the mess.

Clinique Cheek Pop – Peach Pop and Ginger Pop

Once again, I am supremely late to the party here, but that’s only because I have believed in the supremacy of the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blushes for so long. And they are still my favourite blush formula, and I still wear Mood Exposure basically every day, but there are limited shades in that formula and this year I wanted something new. The Clinique Cheek Pops are sheer and buildable and come in a nice array of tones – though clearly I’m leaning into warm tones. Peach Pop was practically all I wore this summer, and Ginger Pop is a nice burnt orange that I’ve been loving in the cooler weather. While I’m not a huge fan of the aesthetics of clear plastic packaging, I love how compact and easy to store these babies are.

The Chemistry Brand HA3 Hand Hydrator

I am very picky about hand creams because I absolutely cannot deal with the feeling of anything sticky on my hands. If it leaves a residue, I will not use it, which is why I have spent most of my life not using hand cream. This one sinks in so quickly and does a great job of hydrating. Bonus: I love the lemongrass scent!

NIOD Photography Fluid Opacity 12%

I basically don’t believe in primer. I’ve tried a lot that do not make my makeup last any longer than it would without, and I find a lot of illuminating primers lose their impact as soon as I put foundation on. But this one genuinely makes a difference even under a layer of foundation – it’s not intense by any means, but it leaves a gorgeous natural radiance. It can also be used as a liquid highlighter, though I prefer it as a primer.

NARS Velvet Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl

Another cheat, since I already love NARS Cruella. But I lusted after Dragon Girl for years until I received it as a very generous gift from a family friend. This vibrant strawberry red is pure fun and I wish I had a chance to wear it more often. (My current workplace is neutrals-only, sadly.)

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel in Malibu Peach

AHHH I cheated again! I almost exclusively buy the Miracle Gel formula because it works really well for me and there are a lot of great colours in the line. Malibu Peach is a fun, bright, modern peach that is outside of my usual comfort zone but no less great. For some reason I always get compliments when I wear this colour.

Here is a close-up to prove how bad I am at painting my nails.

Marcelle Translucent Loose Setting Powder

I am all about that loose powder life nowadays, and this one is both inexpensive, massive, and effective. Even in the dead of winter it doesn’t leave my skin looking parched – it has a gorgeous smoothing effect and sets makeup perfectly. I don’t always feel the need to powder, but when I’m using a more dewy foundation that doesn’t totally dry down I always use this. Marcelle is one of my favourite drugstore brands; they just do things right.

CoverGirl Super Sizer Mascara

The worst thing in the world happened this year, which is that Clarins discontinued their Truly Waterproof mascara, which in addition to holding a curl like no other also made my lashes long, defined, and perfectly fluttery. The reason is probably that I was the only person in the world who bought it, so it makes sense from a business perspective while still remaining personally devastating. I’m not going to say this CoverGirl mascara is as good: it’s a lot more volumizing than the Clarins, so it forfeits some of the effortless flutteriness. But it makes my lashes look good, and, crucially, it holds a curl better than basically any of the high end mascaras I’ve tried recently. I’m happy to keep using this mascara because the results are great and the price tag is right. (I got it on sale for $6.99, you guys. The Clarins was $28.)

Bite Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Verbena

I obviously took this photo with a potato.

As I mentioned, I tragically have to wear neutral makeup to work, so it’s always nice to find a neutral lipstick that’s still interesting. Verbena is just that: it’s described on Sephora as a “rose terracotta”, which is the perfect description of this layered, hard-to-pinpoint shade. I’ve never been one for nude lips, and I definitely prefer my neutrals more on the rosy brown side, so this is right up my alley. The hint of orange makes it interesting, but it’s still perfectly appropriate for work.

There is no light in Toronto at this time of year, but this picture is basically colour accurate.

Drybar 100 Proof Hair Oil

I have upped my haircare game and I now use one product daily, which is this hair oil. It makes my hair smooth and shiny and adds some hydration, since I now blow it dry a few times a week. A little goes a long way, so although this is not a cheap item, it’ll last me forever. (I also bought it during the Sephora sale, because I’m smart like that.)

First Aid Beauty Hello FAB Bendy Avocado Concealer

The hype about this concealer is so real: somehow it looks completely natural but still covers and brightens undereye circles amazingly. It’s comfortable on the skin, it’s pretty crease-resistant, and it wears well throughout the day. I’m kind of mad that I like it this much because it’s $28, but shit. This stuff is great.

NIOD Survival 30

$30 for 30ml of sunscreen is clearly expensive. But dammit if this isn’t the best facial sunscreen I’ve tried so far. I’ve used Vichy, I’ve used La Roche-Posay, I’ve used Avène, and this is the least-greasy, most-layerable of all. It doesn’t feel, smell, or look like sunscreen. I also love that it’s packed full of antioxidants for broad protection from free radical damage. The pump delivery system is great, too.

Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment With Avocado

What a luxurious, rich, truly hydrating eye cream. I can’t find fault with this product, other than its $39 price tag. The 15ml tub will last a long time since very little product makes a big impact, which is the only way I can justify this purchase. That said, while I truly love it, I will certainly be on the lookout for cheaper dupes.

Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment

Bougie and overpriced? Of course. But these tinted lip balms are absolutely stunning: they soothe and hydrate while giving the lips the illusion of fullness and a gorgeous hint of colour. I balk at spending a lot on something with minimal visual impact, but my lips thank me every time I apply one of these so I guess I can’t really be too upset.

2018 was not actually a huge year of makeup discovery for me, mostly because I reined in my spending quite a bit. The majority of my beauty spending was on old staples, but I did discover some new products that I’ve happily incorporated into my daily routine.

Summer 2018 Favourites

Posted on July 30, 2018 under Favourites

I hardly ever do favourites posts, mostly because I don’t try nearly the volume of products necessary to make that tenable on a regular basis. I think occasional seasonal roundups work for my purposes, though the last one I did was back in the fall of 2016. Here is the warm-weather answer to that, then!

Like many others, in the summer months I opt for a lighter base. This is now my second summer regularly using The Ordinary Serum Foundation in 1.1N, which doesn’t work too well for my skin in winter but looks beautifully natural in summer. To pair with this lighter base, I’ve really been enjoying Bourjois Radiance Reveal Concealer in Ivory. True to its name, it has a natural, radiant finish, but its peachy undertone does wonders in brightening up my dark undereye area. To give it a bit more coverage and lasting-power (and to make it a tad lighter), I usually mix in a little bit of Makeup Revolution Conceal and Define Concealer in C1. Mixing concealers is a new and slightly finnicky trick in my repertoire, but I can’t fault the results.

Here’s the Bourjois concealer on its own (on the right, obviously) for comparison’s sake:

When mixed with the Makeup Revolution concealer, it’s not quite as dewy as it appears in this picture. I do prefer that look slightly, but I think the results of Radiance Reveal on its own are lovely: natural, luminous, and surprisingly effective for such a comfortable, emollient, lightweight formula.

Back in May I used some Optimum points to pick up the Clinique Blush Pop in Peach Pop, my first taste of this well-loved formula. Though I find the clear plastic packaging a bit cheap-looking, I can’t deny that this is a beautiful buildable, long-lasting blush. Like a basic bitch, I love peach in the summer, so I’ve used this very frequently over the past few months. When I want a more vibrant blush, I use my trusty Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Diffused Heat, a lovely red-coral. Between those two blushes (well, and the always-appropriate Hourglass Mood Exposure, of course), I’ve scarcely touched anything else.

My eyelids eat cream formulas after the six-hour mark, and I always have the best results with powder shadow over a good primer. So colour me surprised that the Stila Shimmer and Glow Liquid Eyeshadows truly stay put on my eyes all day. In the heat of a humid Toronto summer, these shadows are quick and easy to apply and completely bulletproof. I picked up the shades Kitten (Stila’s classic champagne) and Jezebel (a rose gold) in May, and I’ve been using them… basically all the time. I do really like the Glitter and Glow shadows, too, but they’re a bit prone to fallout, while the high-impact, metallic Shimmer and Glows are not.

Here’s how Kitten looks on my eye, with a matte brown powder shadow in the crease:

And Jezebel, with some similar crease shadow action (and mascara smudges):

And a swatch gif, so you can see how beautiful these guys really are:

In the summer I gravitate towards my impossibly bright lipsticks, all of which are in the same basic colour family. Marc Jacobs So Sofia, a purchase made almost exactly a year ago as summer wound to a close, has seen a lot of use. So has Revlon Fire and Ice, a truly classic shade which lives its best life in the summer months. New-to-me is NARS Satin Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl, a shade popularized by Taylor Swift several years ago. In the wake of 1989 (which was a damn catchy pop album, sue me), I coveted the colour but could never pull the trigger; when a family friend gifted it to me last month, I was predictably ecstatic. On Swift, Dragon Girl is a bright, fiery red; on me, it’s noticeably more pink, though still as delightfully vibrant. Revlon ColorBurst Balm Stain in Romantic is a long, long, longtime favourite – it’s a beautiful sheer, warm red that’s never too much. (They still make this shade, too, though most of the Balm Stains are long gone.) After a long period of gravitating more towards neutral lipsticks, I’m back to my best self with my bold colours.

L-R: Marc Jacobs So Sofia, Revlon Fire and Ice, NARS Dragon Girl, Revlon Romantic

I arrived back in Canada at the end of May after eight months in the UK, and I found that my hands were suddenly very dry in this climate. Though I have a pretty dry face and very dry arms and legs, my hands have always self-regulated pretty well. But apparently the change in climate was too much, so I had to turn to The Chemistry Brand HA3 Hand Hydrator. This is a super effective, hyaluronic-based hand cream with a light whipped texture. The reason I like it enough to talk about on my blog is that it sinks in incredibly quickly without compromising its efficacy. I cannot stand feeling like there’s anything on my hands; I want to wash them immediately. A lot of hand creams are like nails on a chalkboard to me, but not this one. It also has a very peppy zesty scent which I enjoy.

I also really enjoy The Chemistry Brand Hyaluronic Body Mist for a hit of moisture between body lotion applications. It’s especially nice to have something so quick and easy to apply in the summer, when the heat can induce lethargy. Sometimes it seems altogether too much to rub cream all over my body, but a quick mist is within my capability. This product definitely isn’t a substitute for an actual body lotion (at least not for my dry skin!), but it’s a great interim product.

In the non-makeup realm, I would probably be dead without the Invisibobble knockoffs I got at Primark back in the winter. I’m growing out my blonde (as you have no doubt been able to surmise from my photos over the past year and a half), and I have a few months to go before I can chop it all off. My hair is longer than I like it, and since it’s very thick and abundant it’s just far too much to have on my neck in the summer. I’ve been putting it up in a high ponytail or topknot almost every day, and these little coiled hair ties do an amazing job at keeping my hair comfortably in place. I definitely don’t think you should pay for the brand name version, but if you can find cheap knockoffs they are great for keeping thick, unruly hair at bay.

And, before I go, one summery miss: Avène High Protection SPF50+ Emulsion. This sunscreen has a pleasant texture (if a bit thicker than other facial sunscreens by brands like La Roche-Posay and Vichy) and user-friendly packaging, and seems truly effective if my perpetually-fair face is anything to go by. Unfortunately, it leaves such a white cast. When I’m going to work this isn’t an issue as I put foundation on top anyway, but I often leave my house without makeup but still want to be protected from the sun. It’s a bummer, because I do like the product otherwise, and the pump/squeeze-tube hybrid packaging is always welcome in my home. When I’m out of this I’ll be looking to another brand for my face sunscreen needs.

And that’s what I’ve been putting on my face this summer! It’s a nice mixture of new discoveries and old favourites.

Empties: February to May 2018

Posted on June 20, 2018 under Empties

My empties posts are always at irregular intervals because that’s how using products up actually works in reality. Sometimes I’ll use up eight thousand products in the span of a month and sometimes three months will pass with my only empties being, like, a lip balm and brow gel. This post features a four-month accumulation because things were slow on the empties front around here; after my last empties post, I was left with a bunch of close-to-full products.

But I had a very convenient alibi for an empties post when it came to leaving the UK – although I’m getting this up nearly a month after returning home.

No press samples in this batch. Things I received for free through work are marked with an asterisk.

Skincare

A-Derma Soothing Foaming Gel*: This is a decent cleansing gel, though it’s nothing special. I prefer more hydrating cleansers, anyway.

Vichy Idélia Peeling*: I liked this! My skin responds well to glycolic acid and this was no exception. However, if Deciem can survive their CEO’s long-term public meltdown, the glycolic from The Ordinary is like $7 and just as good.

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5: Speaking of The Ordinary! I’ve honestly lost count of how many bottles of this I’ve gone through. It’s just such an effective, low-cost serum. Will keep using.

Origins Drink Up! Overnight Intensive Mask: You can see that I’ve done a number on this tube in an attempt to get out every last drop. This is my favourite night cream for winter time, and I can say that for the second year in a row the dreaded nose flakies have failed to make an appearance thanks to this rich moisturizer. A tube conveniently lasts me November through March, which is the perfect amount of time.

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Intense Soothing Care*: This is a really great daytime moisturizer. It’s rich enough to really hydrate dry skin, but thin enough to sit well under makeup. I’m working through some other things right now, but I’d happily go back to this. I went through a few tubes of the thicker, richer Toleriane Ultra, but I think this one is better-suited to daytime use.

Vaseline Lip Therapy + SPF 15: This was a decent lip balm that certainly got me through a dry winter. Nivea works better for me, though.

A forgotten empty, photographed later:

Bioderma Sensibio Eye Contour Gel*: A nice thin eye cream that delivers a medium amount of moisture. My undereyes have become quite dry lately, which I’m chalking up to age, so maybe I will buy another tube.

And while on vacation I used up a mini 100mL bottle of Bioderma Sensibio H2O which I forgot to photograph. The original Bioderma remains one of my favourite micellar solutions, alongside La Roche-Posay.

Hair

John Frieda Sheer Blonde Tone Correcting Shampoo: Oh wow, more of these? I can’t help it – it’s a good blonde shampoo and I would always buy it when Superdrug had it for £3.95. That’s a bargain!

John Frieda Sheer Blonde Go Blonder Lightening Shampoo (mini) x2: Went through two of these while travelling, only managed to photograph one. I’ve been using this shampoo on and off for over three years, so these travel minis are a no-brainer.

John Frieda Sheer Blonde Go Blonder Lightening Conditioner (mini): A solid conditioner, another tried and true product that rotates in and out of my haircare routine with regularity.

Toni and Guy Damage Repair Mask: I’ve used up a lot of deep conditioner in four years as a blonde, so I feel confident in saying that this one was average. I want to say it weighed my hair down a bit, but now that my hair is actually reasonably healthy it gets greasier a lot faster, so it’s hard to say accurately.

A straggler, photographed later:

Toni and Guy Instant Refresh Dry Shampoo: This dry shampoo worked well, but not as well as Batiste. It also had a very strong smell which I did not enjoy. The only reason I bought it was because I was one second away from fully succumbing to jetlag and could not for the life of me find the Batiste in the Superdrug I was in. You know that when I step off a plane my first priority is Batiste.

Bath and Body

A-Derma Exomega Emollient Balm*: I absolutely love this product. Despite the name “balm”, it’s not a super thick lotion, yet it delivers a lot of moisture, which is absolutely necessary for someone with KP. This can also be used on the face, so it’s a true multitasker. It’s right up there with La Roche-Posay Lipikar Baume AP+.

The Body Shop Coconut Body Butter x2: This is the only Body Butter I like, and I exclusively buy it in bulk during 3 for $30 sales. Because of the coconut oil, it has a thicker, semi-solid texture and it does absolute wonders on my perpetually-scaly, KP-ravaged limbs. Weirdly, the first of these tubs that I went through had the same texture as a regular Body Butter, which was a devastating blow. The second one had the texture I like, which was a lot better – but I’m still thinking they’ve reformulated to make the textures consistent across all scents, and I just ended up with an older tub. If this is the case I won’t keep buying it, since the texture was what I liked so much about it. (Okay, and it makes me smell like I live in a hut with a palm frond roof, which I love.)

L’Occitane Almond Shower Oil: You know I love this stuff. Is it absurdly expensive for something that is on my skin for like twenty seconds total? Yes! But it’s so luxurious, and I really cannot underestimate how dry my arms and legs are. They need every bit of moisture they can get.

The Body Shop Shea Butter Exfoliating Sugar Body Scrub: I am firmly a drugstore gal when it comes to body scrubs, but I picked this up during a 3 for $30 sale so I can’t be mad. It had a very interesting soufflé-like texture. Otherwise, it was a sugar scrub. It was fine, but if you pay full price for it you’re a fool. (Well, that goes for all products from The Body Shop, but especially sugar scrubs. Come on.)

Makeup

Benefit “That Gal” Primer (mini): Can we talk about the value of this mini? It contains 7.5mL of product, and the full size is a whopping 11mL. I mean. What. Strangely generous size aside, this is a pretty classic illuminating primer, though it has a thicker texture than others I’ve used and a very noticeable pink tinge. I enjoyed using it during the transition from winter to spring, when my skin decided to protest the change in seasons by being dry as a bone. Would not pay for the full size, but would probably spend Sephora points on another mini.

Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Crème in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (mini): I don’t know if it’s fair to feel this accomplished about using up a mini, but I do. I mean, this is only the third lipstick I’ve used up in my life, so it has to count for something! I really like the Le Marc Lip Crème formula and this was a very flattering neutral which I enjoyed wearing immensely.

Lancôme Hypnôse Mascara (mini): This used to be a favourite because it delivered volume and length without any clumps. Like, I dare you to try to make this mascara clumpy. It just doesn’t happen. Unfortunately, I have now discovered that it does not hold a curl at all, which is a dealbreaker for me. I don’t know if the mini just performs differently than the full size I had, but something is up here.

Lancôme Hypnôse Drama Mascara (mini): I don’t remember anything about this. The end.

Miscellaneous

Only one item in this category today, and a boring one at that. Tesco Beauty Nail Polish Remover was a nail polish remover. I got carded when I was buying it in September because I was also buying a knife and you’re not allowed to do that if you’re under eighteen. When the self checkout machine flagged me I totally thought it was because of the nail polish remover because I guess you can huff it or maybe make something explosive out of it. That story is not very interesting, but neither is nail polish remover.

The end! Now I’m back in Canada accumulating more empty things to show off at some random point down the line.