Lipstick collection: Neutrals, nudes, and MLBBs

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.

Bite Beauty The Lip Pencil in 020*

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.

Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Honeycomb* (mini)

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.

Buxom Plumpline Lip Liner in Hush Hush*

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.

Maybelline Creamy Matte Lipstick in Touch of Spice

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…

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.

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.