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.

Empties: December 2016 to February 2017

Posted on February 20, 2017 under Empties

I feel like I did an empties post pretty recently, but I have accumulated a lot of garbage which I would like to throw out so that I can hoard new garbage in my room! So here you go…

Skincare

La Roche-Posay Respectissime Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover: This is definitely my favourite eye makeup remover. It’s gentle, super effective, and half the price of the Lancôme Bi-Facil. Have repurchased!

Bioderma Sensibio H20 Makeup Removing Micelle Solution: I got this for free through work and I really liked it. It’s right up there with the La Roche-Posay micellar water for me. A lot of micellar waters I’ve tried (Vichy, Avène, Garnier) have left my face feeling too dry and tight, but this one doesn’t dry me out. My mom and I are currently working our way through one of the 500mL bottles.

La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water: Obviously, I got this from work, because I am the kind of cranky skeptic who does not believe in paying money for a can full of water. I mean, they can say it’s packed full of minerals, but the literal only ingredient on this can is “water”. I know a lot of people swear by this stuff, but I am not one of them. I actually had this little can for about two and a half years and finally used it up by spraying it on my blending sponge to get it damp when I was too lazy to go run it under the bathroom faucet.

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Riche Soothing Protective Care: This is my favourite winter moisturizer. It’s quite thick and rich, but it sinks into my skin pretty fast and I can easily put makeup on top of it. This was my second tube of it and I’m on my third now. Once it starts getting warmer I’ll have to switch to something a bit lighter, but this one is seriously great for dry winter skin – and if you’re super sensitive it’s a great option too.

Nuxe Rêve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm: I love this stuff and seriously spent all day a few weeks ago going to five different Shoppers to hunt down a new one because they were all sold out. I scraped every last bit of product out of this jar and I will do it again with my current jar.

Body

The Body Shop Coconut Body Butter: I got three tubs of this in early November during a 3 for $30 sale and I AM OUT OF THEM ALREADY. Yes, since December 2 (when I posted my last Empties), I have used up TWO tubs. My dry skin loves this stuff. I’ll probably buy three more when there’s another good deal at the Body Shop, because obviously you should never buy anything full price there.

A-Derma Xera-Mega Nourishing Anti-Dryness Cream: I got this for free at a brand training event I attended for work. I loved this and I loved the Exomega Emollient Balm too. Both of them did a great job of hydrating my dry winter limbs without feeling too heavy or sitting on top of my skin.

Haircare

L’Oreal EverPure Repair Remedy Mask: This was pretty average as hair masks went. It made my hair feel pretty nice, but I don’t think it really repaired it. (I mean, my hair is super bleach damaged, so it’s not like I’m expecting a miracle.) It also had a very strong eucalyptus scent which I became accustomed to but did not enjoy. I think this has been discontinued, but I wouldn’t repurchase anyway.

Marc Anthony Hydrating Coconut Oil and Shea Butter Deep Nourishing Conditioning Treatment: Man, I bought two of these little packets back in June and I’m just now finishing the second of them. I use this about once a week and the packet is pretty generous, so I can make one of these stretch a long time. I like this treatment a lot and it always leaves my hair feeling smooth and healthy, but it’s not very cost-effective so I think I’ll hold off repurchasing for the time being.

Matrix SoColor Conditioning Permanent Hair Colour in 6C: This is what I used to dye my hair red and I liked it pretty well. I’ve never dyed my hair a natural colour before so I don’t have anything to compare it to, but I like the colour result and it’s lasting pretty well. The colour is also really vibrant on top of my natural hair colour, which surprised me. All in all, good stuff. I still haven’t decided if I’m going to maintain red hair for awhile or go back to something similar to my natural colour, so stay tuned.

Makeup

Essence Lash & Brow Gel Mascara: Standard. This must be my third of these now. I don’t think it’s the best brow gel on the market, but it’s three bucks so a lot can be overlooked at that price point.

Lancôme Hypnôse Star Mascara: This mascara was okay. I ended up liking it better as it dried out a bit, which is normal for me, and I think anyone looking for volume would enjoy it. However, I think the original Hypnôse is better, and I prefer a lengthening formula anyway.

Maybelline Colour Tattoo in Tough As Taupe: Man, I am so proud of this one, guys. I used up an entire cream eyeshadow. It took me three and a half years, but I did it! I use this on my brows every single day, and I swear it’s looked almost empty for at least two of those years. Here’s a closeup to show just how empty it is:

The product that’s left on the bottom is so hard that I can’t get any colour from it. I’ve used absolutely every useable molecule of this product. Woohoo! And yes – I’m going to break open a new pot of it, because it’s been a staple in my life pretty much since I started doing my brows and I love it. I’ve never found a brow product that’s a better colour for me.

Miscellaneous

Essence Gel-Look Plumping Top Coat: You know, I still think my Sally Hansen Miracle Gel is my favourite top coat, but I always spring for Essence when I’m feeling cheap. It’s good but not the best. I haven’t yet decided if it’s worth sacrificing a week-long chip-free manicure for $10 savings.

Witchcraft Be Strong Protein Hardener: My nails started peeling about three years ago, and finally I decided to try a base coat to combat this problem. (I’d been holding out because I don’t really want to add an extra step to my nail-painting routine!) When this bottle got too goopy to use and I was too lazy to repurchase a replacement it became very clear to me how much it actually did for my nails. They still peel occasionally, but the problem has been drastically mitigated. I’ve made significant progress on my second bottle.

Quo Blending Sponge: So, I’ve never tried the original beautyblender because I am the type of person who physically cannot part with $26 for a sponge. But I have tried a lot of cheap blending sponges, and this one is my favourite by far. It’s very soft and does the one function it has very well. Plus, it’s $7, which is a price I am okay with.

Samples

I’m trying to make an effort to actually use up the samples I accumulate, throw into a box, and never look at again, so here are a few I’ve used up recently.

Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer: I have used up so many foil packets of this stuff with so many different foundations and it never does a single thing for me. My foundation looks the same on top of it and doesn’t last any longer. NO.

Deciem Hylamide SubQ Anti-Age Advanced Serum: I layered this with my hyaluronic acid from The Ordinary for maximum hydrating benefits and I really liked it. That said, I won’t be buying the full size because I have enough serums for the moment and because I’m not really interested in anti-aging products at the age of 22.

Josie Maran Pure Argan Milk Intensive Hydrating Treatment: Maybe I used too much of this in one go, but it felt a bit heavy on my skin. It did a good job of hydrating and would probably be a nice overnight treatment, but I just looked it up to find out how much the full bottle costs and the answer is $70, so ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

By the way, the box which holds my empties is from a One Direction fragrance set that I got for £10 at Superdrug in early 2015 and split with my friend Bec. Ridiculously, I brought the empty box back to Canada with me when my study abroad was over because I love One Direction and really wanted a cardboard box with a picture of them on it. So, basically, I hauled garbage across the Atlantic Ocean so that I could use it to store more garbage. Woohoo!

Top 16 products of 2016

Posted on December 27, 2016 under Favourites

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It’s that time of year again, folks! As always, my 2016 favourites post is made up of products that I personally discovered in 2016, though to my knowledge few of these actually launched this year. I’m behind the times like that. I also didn’t necessarily mention all of these on my blog, because I’m a bad beauty blogger, but I will link to relevant posts when possible. Finally, I didn’t choose one product per category or anything like that; I simply chose my sixteen favourite products from this year, period, so you may see overrepresentation in some areas.

Skincare

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I made no mention of this product on my blog, but I’ve been loving the Marcelle Ultra Gentle Cleansing Gel for several months now. This stuff works as both a cleanser and makeup remover and is really effective without drying out the skin. It’s also super cost effective at $12.95 for 350mL. It’s also paraben-, perfume-, soap-, and oil-free. It’s one of those products that is basic and boring (hence why I haven’t written about it) but that works. A Canadian gem to be sure!

This year I was loving about a million different La Roche-Posay products. Chief among them was the Toleriane Riche Soothing Protective Cream, a thick but not greasy moisturizer that’s great for my dry skin. It sinks in quickly despite its thickness and sits well under makeup. Plus, it’s formulated for the most sensitive skin. Also from La Roche-Posay, I was very happy to discover their Respectissime Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover, which I found just as effective as my beloved Lancôme Bi-Facil at half the cost. Again, it’s great for sensitive eyes, too. If you want a gentle but effective remover for waterproof makeup, this stuff is the bomb, and it doesn’t break the bank.

Haircare

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Unsurprisingly, my haircare picks this year both have to do with maintaining that perfect platinum blonde. I’ve been using Manic Panic Ultra-Violet to DIY my own toner and I love that it’s effective, gentle, and super cheap. (I still have 95% of the $15 tub left, whereas my Wella T18 toner was running me $10 every 6-8 weeks.)

I’ve tried a lot of purple shampoos in my time, so colour me surprised when I discovered that the best one costs $8.99 for half a litre at the drugstore. Yes, I’m fully willing to say it: Light Blue Shade Original Shampoo is the best purple shampoo I’ve tried. It keeps my hair light and cool far longer than anything else has; I now only use toner when I do my roots, and the purple shampoo keeps everything looking good until the next time I tone, about 2 months later. And for that prize and amount, it’s damn good value.

Face Products

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I really went back and forth when choosing a foundation to feature in this post; I do love the ease of MUFE Ultra HD, but ultimately the finish and wear of NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation brought it to the forefront. I actually don’t think this foundation is perfect, as I detail in my full review of it. But I love it despite its fussiness, and in my heart of hearts I know it’s one of my favourite products from 2016.

I had two highlighter loves this year: Hourglass Ambient Strobe Lighting Powder in Iridescent and Glossier Haloscope in Quartz. I’m actually not a “highlighter everyday” kind of gal, but these both work for me in different ways. The Hourglass highlighter is quite subtle and has a beautiful peachy-pink sheen which I found I’ve been enjoying lately as an alternative to the usual champagne highlighter suspects. It’s not that I don’t love my Becca SSP in Moonstone, because I do, but I like that the Hourglass gives me a different colour option and something a bit more subtle. It’s candlelit instead of blinding, which I’m moving towards now that I’m feeling a bit of highlighter overload from the YouTube/Instagram stars who seem to go through a Becca highlighter every other week.

The Glossier Halsocope is a product that I didn’t know I needed until I won it in Renee‘s giveaway, and now I don’t know what I’d do without it! It looks gorgeous on the skin – like a glaze, in the most appealing way possible – and is a dream to work with as it can be applied straight from the stick and blended out in seconds with fingertips. Because it’s so easy and quick to use, I find myself drawn to it. I’m just not willing to put in a lot of effort when it comes to highlighter, because it’s not a must-have for me.

On the other hand, I do always love a good blush, and this year NARS Blush in Sin stole the show. I don’t necessarily think the NARS blushes are the best on the market (we all know which ones are my favourites), but the formula is certainly solid and the colour of Sin is stunning: a cool plum with flecks of gold. It’s unlike anything I have and I find myself reaching for it constantly.

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Swatches of Glossier Haloscope in Quartz, Hourglass Ambient Strobe Lighting Powder in Iridescent, and NARS Blush in Sin.

Eye Products

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The Kat Von D Shade and Light Eye Contour Palette is the matte shadow palette of my dreams. The colours are varied and versatile; the palette can be used as a standalone to create a whole host of looks, or it can be used to complement palettes that are missing good mattes. The quality is also undeniably there. Say what you will about the face of the brand – you can’t argue with quality. (… Although I do have plenty I could say about KVD herself!)

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On the opposite end of the spectrum, the NARS Dual Intensity Eyeshadows are iridescent, shimmery beauties. The silver-pink Callisto is definitely my favourite of the whole range, but I also have a purple-leaning burgundy called Desdemona which is stunning as well. (And layered they’re beautiful, too.) These are a great option for lovers of high-impact shimmery eyeshadow.

Finally, I can’t not mention my Clarins Truly Waterproof Mascara. I feel like I’m beating a dead horse at this point, but I absolutely loved the definition and length this mascara gave me. I’ve adjusted to the one I’m currently using, but Truly Waterproof is the winner of 2016 for sure.

Lip Products

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First thing’s first: a good base is necessary for lip products to go on top of. Nuxe Rêve de Miel Lip Balm is an incredible, thick overnight lip balm that truly works. Now that we’re decidedly into winter, I need it more than ever, but it was an everyday product for me year-round.

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The NARS Audacious Lipsticks were a momentous discovery for me in 2016. The formula just works so well for me: they make my lips look good, are comfortable, and wear well. And the colour range is phenomenal. The two I have, Brigitte and Audrey, get a lot of wear. Far in a way the best traditional bullet lipstick formula I tried in 2016!

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Mentioning Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Chianti may be cheating, as I’ve been a fan of the Stay All Day formula since 2014. But it’s the colour of Chianti that is so stunning: it’s an incredibly dark, almost black purple. It’s dramatic and dreamy. It’s absolutely one of my favourite purchases of this year.

Another dark liquid lipstick love is the ColourPop Ultra Satin Lips in Prim. I was really impressed with the comfort, smoothness, and wear of the Ultra Satins, and I’m particularly into Prim, which is a hybrid between a brown and a berry. I find liquid lipsticks that don’t fully dry down to be pretty hit and miss, but this is a good one.

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Swatches of NARS Audacious Lipsticks in Brigitte and Audrey, ColourPop Ultra Satin Lips in Prim, and Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Chianti.

Whew! Sixteen products to end out 2016. Did you spot any of your favourites on this list?