Packing Light for Prague

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.

Drugstore favourites: Maybelline Creamy Matte Lipsticks

Posted on November 11, 2017 under Reviews

I noticed recently that a great deal of my reviews are of mid-range to high-end products – probably because they’re more exciting to me. I’m far more likely to meticulously research pricey products before pulling the trigger, and the fact that they’ve taken up so much headspace means I’m already in the frame of mind to review them. With drugstore products, I’m prone to impulse purchasing – snapping something up, putting it in my makeup storage, and only thinking of it when it’s time to apply it. But, like most of us, I started at the drugstore and I still have a good range of drugstore products in my collection which I use regularly. Today I thought I’d shine a spotlight on one of my favourite drugstore products of all time, the Maybelline Creamy Matte Lipsticks.

When it comes to lipstick, my collection leans pretty expensive nowadays. When I first started wearing makeup regularly, I was all about the lipstick (and still am) and bought all my lip products from the drugstore. These days buying a fancy lipstick is one of my favourite ways to treat myself, and over the years I’ve accumulated so many dupes and near-dupes that I’ve weeded out a lot of my cheaper lipsticks in favour of the ones I paid a lot for. My favourite lipstick formulas are higher end; I’d say that my top two are Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution and NARS Audacious. But the Maybelline Creamy Mattes will remain in my collection, because they are amazing. In fact, I’d rank them right up there with CT and NARS formula-wise at a quarter of the price.

A lot of the time when we talk about drugstore products, we qualify them: they’re good for the price, because they’re so cheap we can’t complain, they’re a good budget option. But no joke, the Creamy Mattes are straight up one of my favourite lipstick formulas, no qualification necessary.

The name really says it all; Maybelline was not lying. These are a true matte (for a bullet lipstick, that is – they don’t look as, well, dry as liquid lipsticks) and incredibly comfortable. They don’t feel as smooth and creamy as the CT or NARS; they have a slightly dryer-feeling formula, but they don’t dry out the lips or tug on application. All in all, they’re everything you could ever look for in a lipstick formula, and you can regularly get them on sale for $5.99 CAD. The packaging is undeniably drugstore, but I think it’s pretty nice. It’s sturdy and I like that it’s matte, which always reads as less cheap to me than a shiny tube. These lipsticks feel more substantial than something like the Rimmel lipsticks. The tubes all look the same, however (with the colour of the outer packaging changing from line to line, but not shade to shade), so if you have a few of these I’d suggest storing them upside-down so you can see the shade names at a glance.

Really my only complaint is that I want them to expand the shade range! Canada gets a little short-changed here; we don’t have as many colours as our American friends. I have diligently avoided the allure of buying makeup since arriving in the UK, but it seems that Boots and Superdrug carry a whopping six shades of the line. Maybelline did just launch the Inta-Mattes a few months ago, which, as far as I can tell, share the Creamy Matte formula, but none of those colours call to me. (They also don’t seem to be available in the UK.) I would kill for more bolds in this line! The drugstore could use more high quality mattes in the plum/magenta/berry/purple family.

These smell similar to MAC lipsticks – that is, they have that vanilla-reminiscent scent that’s standard across a lot of lip formulas. I wouldn’t say I love the scent, but it doesn’t bother me in the least, and I don’t notice it throughout the day. I mention this only because I know some people dislike that specific scent in their lip products, and I myself am sensitive to certain scents as well.

Now, some pictures of the colours I have:

My first exposure to the Creamy Mattes was in the form of Lust For Blush, which is a cross between pink and lilac. This is the type of colour that should not be flattering on me but somehow is. It’s quite similar to Wet N Wild Mauve Outta Here, a colour that I destashed back in 2013 but sought to replace with something with a superior formula. (That was a lie the internet told me – I never got along with those Wet N Wild lipsticks.) It’s really the colour of Lust For Blush that compelled me to buy it, as I was convinced that it was the colour I was looking for. And it was, but it also got me hooked on the formula. This borders on a Barbie pink, which should look positively terrible on me. Every time I put it on I’m surprised not only that it doesn’t look awful but that it actually brightens up my face a lot. This is one of my favourite lipstick colours of all time!

Comparison swatches:

L-R: MAC Please Me, NARS Audacious in Anna, Maybelline Lust For Blush, Lise Watier Rouge Gourmand Velours in Cake Pop, Little Mix by Collection in Perrie

You can see that it’s more purple than the medium pink (Please Me), though not as mauve or dusty as Anna. It looks positively pink compared to a true purple (Perrie). Lise Watier Cake Pop is darker and more saturated but the most similar tonally, though it still lacks that hint of lilac.

My next foray into this line was Touch of Spice. This was a colour which I had passed over many times until I saw my coworker wearing it. This is one of those complex neutrals that can be described with a variety of colour adjectives: brown-y pink-y mauve-y. On her it pulled quite purple, which interested me as the bullet appears more brown. On me it’s more of a pinky-brown. I never would have thought I’d like something with this much brown, but it’s very flattering and easy to wear and one of my favourite fall neutrals. When I worked in cosmetics, this was one of the lipsticks I sold most frequently. I’m pretty sure every customer I put it on bought it! It looks different on everybody and it flatters such a variety of skintones. Of course I shy away from describing something as “universally flattering”, partially because that’s nearly impossible and partially because it’s really just conjecture on my part. That said, I have seen this colour on a lot of people ranging from very fair to medium-to-dark, with basically every undertone, and it’s looked good on them all. I can’t promise you anything, but it’s worth a swatch, at least. You can see in the pictures above that different lighting conditions pull different undertones out, as well, though usually on me it’s more of a pinky-brown without too much mauve or plum.

Comparison swatches:

L-R: Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Creme in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Revlon Matte Balm in Sultry, Maybelline Touch of Spice, Buxom Plumpline Lip Liner in Hush Hush

Okay, let’s address the obvious: if you have Revlon Sultry you probably don’t need Touch of Spice, though both are colours which seem to transform on the lips and look very different on everyone. On me, the red tones in Sultry are evident, whereas Touch of Spice appears a little more brown. It’s definitely more brown than pink (as you can see when compared to Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which pulls much more pink) but not entirely brown – the pinky plumminess is evident when viewed next to something more brown (Hush Hush).

Finally, I picked up a newer colour, Burgundy Blush. I believe this colour is permanent in the US but already long-gone in Canada (sorry). This is another one that seems to appear pretty different depending on who’s wearing it. On Christine of Temptalia, it looks much more like a brick or burgundy. On me, it’s a dark brown with strong red undertones. This is the type of colour that I would never have worn even when I was out there rocking dark purple lips on the regular. I was terrified of brown lipstick for a long time, but I’m finally on board. The camera seems to make this one look slightly uneven on my lips, but I don’t notice any patchiness in real life. In her review of Burgundy Blush, Christine notes that it feels a bit drier than the other Creamy Mattes, which I don’t personally notice.

Comparison swatches:

L-R: Bite Amouse Bouche Lipstick in Whiskey, Maybelline Burgundy Blush, ColourPop Ultra Satin Lips in Prim

In these swatches, Burgundy Blush appears to have a stronger red/berry hint than it does on my lips, especially when compared to Bite Whiskey, which is clearly more brown (though it does have a berry undertone, as well). It’s very similar to ColourPop Prim, especially applied to my lips rather than the underside of my arm.

Obviously, I’m a fan of the Maybelline Creamy Matte Lipsticks – they’re pretty much everything I look for in a lipstick formula, and at a great price point. I hope Maybelline continues to expand the colour selection, because this is one of the best products you can get at the drugstore.

The Maybelline Creamy Matte Lipsticks retail for between $7.97 (Walmart) and $10.99 (Shoppers Drug Mart) for 0.15oz.

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!