Posted on February 24, 2018 under Reviews
When I did my lipstick inventory in the summer, I mentioned that I might do proper lip swatches of all my lip products. Since that inventory, I decluttered a fairly large amount of lipsticks, which makes that possibility a little less daunting. (Though you should definitely not expect minimalism from me as a general rule.) I decided I’d kick us off today with a boring – but necessary – category: the neutrals, nudes, and MLBBs. Despite my penchant for loud lipstick, I’ve been busy and tired recently and that has been reflected in my tendency to reach for softer lipstick colours (and to make minimal effort with my makeup in general). I have worn all of these pretty regularly in recent memory, so I can give you accurate mini-reviews.
I recognize that “neutral”, “nude”, and “MLBB” are fairly contentious, overlapping terms without clear definitions. Personally, I interpret “nude” as a colour close to my actual skin tone, “MLBB” as close to my lip colour, and “neutral” as, well, a daytime-appropriate, wouldn’t-look-twice colour that nonetheless does not closely resemble my actual skin or lip colour. I lean more towards neutrals over nudes and MLBBs; I’m fair with reasonably low-contrast colouring, so I rely on lip products to bring a bit of colour and life to my face. As you’ll see, I don’t really do nudes in the way that I’ve defined them, and I lean very heavily towards neutrals with rosy pinkish-brown bases.
I haven’t done comparison arm swatches in this post because I figured the lip swatches would be illustrative enough; if you really want to see them next to each other, there are swatches included in the lipstick inventory post.
Here are my natural lips:
I don’t think they’re particular pigmented or pale; they’re somewhere in the middle. Lipsticks tend to be pretty true-to-colour on me.
First, let’s look at my lip liners.
Milani Color Statement Lip Liner in Nude
This lip liner basically represents the neutral colour I’m always gravitating towards, and consequently can be seamlessly paired with many of the lipsticks you’ll see in this post. It’s a very creamy, comfortable formula that can easily be worn on its own. I love this liner and have most certainly got my money’s worth out of it.
On paper, a warm, beige-based nude should look terrible on me. But when I received this liner from Influenster, I was surprised to find that I actually really liked it. If you click through to the original review post, you’ll see that I got this liner when I had red hair. I did go back to platinum last March, and this liner (and its matching lipstick, which I’ll get to in due course…) were not my absolute favourites with that hair. The platinum hair made me supremely low-contrast, which this lipstick did nothing to combat. But now I’m (ostensibly) growing out my blonde, so I have quite a lot of brown at the roots and a darker, ashier blonde through the lengths, and I like this liner again. I usually pair this with the Bite Honeycomb lipstick, but it works well under a variety of neutral and non-neutral lipsticks. I often use it just to sketch in a structure to my lips before using a completely different lipstick on top of it.
And now the lipsticks…
Rimmel Lasting Finish by Kate Moss in 17
I’ve had this tube for a long time (like, over 4 years) and have consequently used up quite a lot of it. It used to be a go-to neutral for me, but I’ve moved away from it because I’m not sure that the light peachy-pink base is my most flattering colour. I’ve been very wishy-washy when it comes to deciding to declutter it because sometimes I wear it and decide I do like it. I think it’s pretty dependent on what other makeup I’m wearing it with. It’s not one I lean on for no makeup makeup days because I think it does need a bit of strength in the eyes for balance. People rarely talk about the Rimmel Kate Moss lipsticks anymore, but they remain solid drugstore staples. (And I’ve actually used one up – unsurprisingly, it was the rosy-brown 08.) They do have a very strong scent, however, so beware.
Like the lip liner in 020, I love this lipstick despite myself. In these pictures I’ve used it on its own so you can see the true colour, but in real life I always pair it with the liner, which makes it slightly deeper. I consistently get compliments on this colour when I wear it. Yeah, colour me surprised that a beigey-orangey-yellowy colour would ever be in my rotation. I’ve been on record as liking but not loving the Bite lipstick formula (a controversial opinion, it seems), but the super creamy, hydrating formula works perfectly here. I love using this lipstick on very casual makeup days when I don’t want to worry about crusty lips. And because it’s a light neutral, it fades gracefully – though the lasting power is decent when paired with the liner. When I run through my mini, I’ll definitely consider purchasing the full size.
Despite the name, this is a jumbo lip pencil, not a lip liner, and it has no discernible plumping action that I’ve been able to identify. However, it is an excellent comfortable, creamy matte lip product in a very flattering neutral tone. This is a rosy brownish-pink that is appropriate in basically every context ever. It adds colour to my complexion without being loud or distracting (although, obviously, I also love loud and distracting lipstick). It’s one of my go-to, ride or die neutrals and basically always lives in my bag.
Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Secret Salma
This was my twenty-third birthday present to myself, and I’ve managed to get a lot of use out of it in the eight months since it entered my life. Again, this is a very standard Clem neutral, though it’s pinker – and redder – than the reasonably brown Hush Hush. I remain a big fan of the super smooth, comfortable Matte Revolution formula.
Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Creme in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (mini)
As you can see from the picture of the all-but-decimated tube, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is one of my go-to lip colours. It’s the perfect flattering neutral. It has enough colour in it to revitalize my face, but it’s still a very safe, everyday colour that can be paired with pretty much any eye makeup. By now you are probably very much noticing that this colour is firmly in my comfort zone and also nearly indistinguishable from CT Secret Salma. This is true! And while I really love the MJ lipstick formula – which I’ve articulated more fully in my review of the shade So Sofia – I will just redirect my love for this shade to Secret Salma when I use it up. Which will probably be in like 45 minutes because I wear it so often.
I am very much in love with this ultra-versatile neutral. It has hints of brown, plum, pink, and red and basically defies easy colour categorization. It also looks different on everyone – I have a friend whose lips really pull out the plum in it, and I’ve seen it turn quite brown on a lot of people. It also looks good on a huge variety of skin tones and depths. And the formula is so good – like, not just for drugstore, but in general. It’s deeper on me than my other neutrals and it has a bit of cool tone that makes it a statement neutral. If I lost my entire makeup collection this is one of the first colours I would repurchase. Which is convenient because it goes on sale for $5.99 pretty frequently!
NARS Audacious Lipstick in Anna
When I first got this lipstick, I put it on and was immediately bitterly disappointing. It drew all the life out of my face, which is of course the opposite of what I want lipstick to do for me. But that was back when I was super platinum, and now that I’ve got a higher-contrast, more natural hair colour going on, I think I can make this work. Yes, the cool mauve tones are tricky on me – but if I make sure to warm up my cheeks with a healthy amount of blush and have a decent amount of eye makeup on, I think it’s pretty. It’s another colour that falls more into the “statement neutral” category for me. I relegated this to the back of my shelf for many months, but I’ve recently rediscovered it and have been wearing it pretty often. Definitely one of my all-time favourites, but it’s a little different from my usual neutral colour palette and I’m liking it!
This is probably more than strictly necessary (especially considering how similar a lot of these are), but this is actually a relatively tame category compared to some others in my collection. But I can honestly say that since trimming the fat back in the summer, these are all colours that I use regularly. I can’t guarantee that will be true of every lipstick in the coming instalments, but my neutrals are very well-loved, at least…
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.
Posted on December 31, 2017 under Lists
Here is my last checkin of 2017! This was year zero of tracking my spending, which meant that I didn’t know what to expect. I’ll crunch the final numbers and at the end of this post I’ll reflect a little on what I learned during this year of tracking.
And a few notes before we get started…
- I’ve listed all prices in either CAD or the currency they were purchased in and a conversion into CAD that was accurate at the time of purchase.
- I list products that were ordered online on the date that I received the package.
- In order to consistently track my spending, I’m listing all totals in CAD. Since I have shopped in both Canada and the UK this year, conversion is necessary so that I can see how much I’ve spent in total. Prices in CAD make more intuitive sense to me than GBP (unsurprisingly), and I’ve purchased a lot more in Canada than in the UK this year anyway.
- Not everything is pictured – I’m in Canada right now and some of this stuff is in the UK.
With those points out of the way, let’s get into it!
Products purchased between October 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017
- 10/13: Barry M Glitter Rush Body Glitter – Aquamarine – £4.49 ($7.47 CAD). I bought this because I was going to a drag show and I just felt like I needed blue glitter in my life. A total frivolity, of course, but not one that I regret.
- 10/13: Ardell Wispies Lashes – £5.49 ($9.13 CAD). I have never been a false lash enthusiast, but in undergrad my outrageous going out looks (think black lipstick, purple blush up to my temples) were never complete without a set of big falsies. Now that I’m a student again, clearly it is necessary to have a set of lashes on hand.
- 10/13: MUA Kohl Liner – Black – £1 ($1.66 CAD). To use with black lipstick.
- 10/20: Barry M Glitter Fixer Gel – £4.99 ($8.35 CAD). I realized that I couldn’t use my teal glitter without some sort of fixative. This is the only one I could find in-store, but I like it!
- 11/03: John Frieda Sheer Blonde Tone Correcting Shampoo – £3.95 ($6.61 CAD). A gal can’t live without her purple shampoo! It’s rare that cosmetics are less expensive in the UK than in Canada, but full price on this stuff in Canada is $13.99. Definitely a bargain!
- 11/20: Collection Lasting Gel Nail Colour in Blackjack 2 – £3.19 ($5.45 CAD). I needed new black nail polish so I went with the cheapest one I could find, of course.
- 11/20: Vaseline Lip Therapy in Aloe Vera and Original – £1 each – £2 total ($3.42 CAD). I ran out of lip balm. These are normally £2.09 each but Superdrug had a 2 for £2 offer which I thought I might as well take advantage of.
- 11/20: Supderdrug Cleansing Facial Wipes – £1.29 ($2.20 CAD). Bought for my trip to Prague, since I knew it would be easier than properly washing my face.
- 11/25: John Frieda Sheer Blonde Go Blonder Lightening Shampoo (mini) – £2 ($3.42 CAD). I was delighted to find a mini of my usual shampoo at the Edinburgh airport Superdrug, since I’ve never seen John Frieda minis in Canada. I’ll definitely use this up travelling.
- 12/05: PS… Pro Blending Brush – £2 ($3.42 CAD). PS… is Primark’s house makeup brand, and you will be seeing a review of some of these products in the future!
- 12/05: PS… CustomEyes Eyeshadow in Cranberry – £0.60 ($1.03 CAD).
- 12/05: PS… Lip Scrub – £3 ($5.14 CAD).
- 12/05: PS… My Perfect Colour Liquid Concealer in Nude Beige – £2 ($3.42 CAD). Replacement.
- 12/05: PS… Get Lippy Glitter Collection in Heaven Sent – £3 ($5.14 CAD).
- 12/05: Golden Rose Ice Chic Nail Colour in 44 – £2 ($3.42 CAD).
- 12/11: The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid x2 – $6.80 each – $13.60 total. Replacement.
- 12/13: The Body Shop Coconut Body Butter x2 – $20. The Body Shop was doing buy 3 get 3 so my mom and I pooled our products. The total was $62, split 2 ways, making each Body Butter $10 and the next product $11.
- 12/13: The Body Shop Pink Grapefruit Exfoliating Body Scrub – $11. See above for notes on price!
- 12/13: The Ordinary Squalane – $7.90. Replacement.
- 12/15: NYX White Liquid Liner – $9. Replacement for my Stila white eyeliner.
- 12/15: NYX Epic Ink Eyeliner Pen – $12. Backup – I want to see if this is good enough to replace my $29 Stila liner and bought it in Canada because I knew it would be cheaper and easier to access. I probably won’t be done with my current Stila liner for awhile, but once I go back to the UK I’ll be there until September so it makes sense to stock up now while I can.
- 12/28: ELF Crease Brush x3 – $3 USD/$3.77 CAD each – $9 USD/$11.32 CAD total. ELF was doing free shipping with no minimum, so I jumped on the chance to grab more of this amazing and inexpensive crease brush. It can be hard to hit ELF’s free shipping minimum without just buying a bunch of crap I don’t want, so I was really glad to flesh out my brush collection without having to pay for shipping.
Total value (CAD): $182.78
Total spent (CAD): $154.10
Year-to-date value (CAD): $1540.53
Year-to-date spent (CAD): $899.55
Products received at no cost between October 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017
As I mentioned previously, I recently took a lot of Aisling‘s makeup castoffs off her hands. I took some of these items knowing that a friend or my mom would enjoy them. I ended up passing a lot of stuff on, so this list only includes what ultimately made it into my collection on a full-time basis.
- 10/31: The Body Shop Sparkler All Over Shimmer – £14 ($23.42 CAD). Gift.
- 10/31: Lancôme Bi-Facil Eye Makeup Remover (~50% full) – $39 full price, $19.50 value. Gift.
- 10/31: Benefit That Gal Brightening Face Primer – Deluxe Sample – $40 full size, $27.45 sample value. Gift. Also, can we note that the full size of this product is 10mL and the deluxe sample is 7.5?!
- 10/31: Rimmel Fix and Perfect Primer – $8.99. Gift.
- 10/31: The Ordinary Coverage Foundation – 1.1N – $6.70. Gift.
- 10/31: Urban Decay All Nighter Foundation – 0.5 – $49. Gift.
- 10/31: The Body Shop Shade Adjusting Drops – $22. Gift.
- 10/31: Tanya Burr Everyday Flutter Lashes – £5.29 ($8.85 CAD). Gift. I had a pair of these which I wore into the ground, so I’ll definitely use them.
- 10/31: Fleur de Force by Eyelure Lashes in Fleur Loves – £5.45 ($9.12 CAD). Gift.
- 10/31: Sleek Highlighter Palette – Midas Touch – £9.99 ($16.71 CAD). Gift.
- 10/31: Kiko Radiant Touch Creamy Stick Highlighter – 100 – £10.90 ($18.23 CAD). Gift.
- 10/31: Topshop Glow Highlighter – Polished – £9 ($15.06 CAD). Gift. I have and love this highlighter, so a backup is always welcome.
- 10/31: Makeup Revolution Liquid Highlighter – Liquid Starlight – £6 ($10.04 CAD). Gift.
- 10/31: Seventeen Instant Glow Shimmer Brick – Pink Bronze – £4.99 ($8.35 CAD). Gift.
- 10/31: Lancôme Hypnôse Drama Mascara – Sample – $34.50 full size ($11.50 value). Gift.
- 10/31: Sleek Eyeshadow Palette – Original, Vintage Romance, Garden of Eden – £8.99 ($15.04 CAD) each = £26.97 ($45.11 CAD). Gift.
- 10/31: Bella Pierre Shimmer Powder – Snowflake – $19. Gift.
- 10/31: Revlon Photoready Eye Art – Burnished Bling, Prism Peach, and Topaz Twinkle – $11.49 each = $34.47. Gift.
- 10/31: Lancôme Kohl In Love – Jade Crush – $26. Gift.
- 10/31: Maybelline Colorblur Lipstick – Partner in Crimson – $11.99. Gift.
- 10/31: Maybelline Color Drama Lipstick – Keep It Classy – £4.99 ($8.35 CAD). Gift.
- 10/31: Kiko Face Brush – 104 – £1.70 ($2.84 CAD). Gift. I feel like this kabuki brush has to be worth more, but this is the price I found when I looked it up online.
- 12/08: Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder – Luminous Light – $55. My mom bought this for herself but found it a bit too shimmery for her liking and passed it on to me.
- 12/13: The Ordinary EUK 134 0.1% – $8.80. I was in the Deciem store with my mom and she kindly picked up the tab for this one.
- 12/21: Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Solution – $6.95. I needed a mini Bioderma to bring with me to Quebec for Christmas, and my former boss let me have one of the GWPs she had floating around. Apparently the perks of working in cosmetics don’t end when you stop working in cosmetics…
- 12/25: Urban Decay Naked 2 Basics – $36. Christmas gift from my mom!
Total value: $526.14
Year-to-date value: $2274.53
So, in order to visualize all this data I made some Excel graphs.
Money spent vs. total value:
This one shows how much of my own money I spent:
And this one shows the breakdown of all the products that made it into my collection:
(By the way, the “Etc” category is my MUFE magnetic palette that I bought back in the summer.)
I’ll have an inventory update post coming soon so I won’t go into that – I just want to talk about the actual spending. This was my first year tracking my spending, so it was a blank slate for me. I am happy that the total was under $1000, though I didn’t factor in taxes here so with taxes it’ll be just about $1000. Less than half of my total of $899.55 ($449.91) was spent on makeup, which surprises me – I thought my percentage of (relatively) frivolous purchases would be higher. As I suspected, I don’t overspend on haircare, skincare, or nails – I tend to buy the first two categories on a replacement-only, as-needed basis, and while I do occasionally impulse buy nail polish I have reduced that habit significantly.
What really surprises me is the total value of the products that came into my life in 2017. I spent only about $900 of my own money (“only” – that’s still too high, really), but the total value was $3815.06. Obviously, I saved a lot by using my employee discount and because I got a lot of gratis in the first 9 months of the year, when I was still working in cosmetics. And it’s safe to say that the only reason I acquired a lot of this stuff was because it was gratis. I will receive much less free stuff in 2018!
Now that I know how much I actually spend on beauty products, it’s easier for me to set a specific budget for myself. I’m not going to worry too much about most of the categories because, like I said, I don’t feel I’m overspending in most of them. However, I’d like to cut back on the makeup and brushes for sure. I would love to reduce my spending in those categories by 30%, which gives me a budget of $392.27 (combined), down from their combined total of $560.39. Let’s just call that $400…
In 2018 I don’t think I’ll do these posts anymore – it was nice to try them for a year, but ultimately I don’t think they’re that helpful. I will track my purchases throughout the year and post an update at the end of 2018, but I’m going to abandon the quarterly updates.
And that’s it for today! Happy 2018, everyone!