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?

Cold weather essentials

Posted on November 25, 2016 under Lists

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We had a very mild fall here in Toronto. Up until a week ago we had temperatures in the high teens and low twenties (Celcius) throughout, with a few nippy but not truly cold days here and there. And then everything changed and it became freezing, which is pretty much the way winter usually arrives here – that is, with no transition whatsoever.

I’m not a huge fan of winter. (That’s an understatement if I ever heard one.) The cold is one thing, but the wind, the prolonged darkness, and the ice are what really get me. Of course, as a lifelong Canadian, I’ve learned how to survive winter whether I enjoy it or not – and I have some indispensable things that I must have throughout these cold, blustery months. All of these things will be staples in my life until it finally starts getting warmer six months from now.

Skincare

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It’s probably the most obvious statement ever that skin needs more heavy-duty nourishment in the cold months. In the past few years my skin has become more normal due to a better skincare routine and a commitment to drinking a lot of water every day, but in the winter it tries its damnedest to banish all water and oil, so I have to be really diligent. I’m a big fan of using oils as moisturizer at night or on days when I’m not wearing makeup; I’ve recently been using The Ordinary’s 100% Organic Cold Pressed Moroccan Argan Oil, which was a steal at $6.80 CAD for 30mL (1oz).

I’ve also been loving the Origins Drink Up! Intensive Overnight Mask, which I purchased after hearing Allana Davison rave about it several times. Allana is a fellow dry-skinned Canadian, and because she lives in a way dryer climate than me I trusted that I’d like it. It’s $32 CAD for 100mL/3.4oz ($0.32 per mL/$9.41 per oz), which I think is a pretty fair price, especially considering the fact that a little bit goes a long way. I always wake up feeling nice and moisturized when I use this, and it helps keep the dreaded nose flakes at bay.

For my lips I could not be without the Nuxe Rêve de Miel Lip Balm. All the YouTube hype is real – it really is the best overnight lip balm. I’ve been using it for a year (so, all through last winter as well) and it keeps my lips in tip top condition. I often don’t even have to apply a lip balm during the day after using the stuff overnight!

Finally, I’m finding I have to kick my bodycare up a notch these days. Lotions just aren’t doing it for me. If my face is dry, my arms and legs are made of actual sandpaper. The Body Shop Coconut Body Butter is my body moisturizer of choice, and I’ve already stocked up on two more because I go through them like water. This one is thicker and more solid than any of the other Body Butters, I assume because coconut oil solidifies at room temperature. The coconut oil does wonders for the smoothness of my skin. I have keratosis pilaris and it’s not exactly a miracle product in that regard (generally the only thing that truly brings the KP down is a chemical exfoliant), but it really softens my skin. This is the only Body Butter I buy nowadays!

Clothes

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Uniqlo opened in Toronto recently, and their Heattech Leggings are LEGIT. The first time I wore them under my jeans I was like, “WHY AM I BOILING HOT?” Then I realized! I’ve been a longtime lover of fleece-lined tights and leggings, but the Heattech fabric is way thinner and thus more efficient. When I wear them under my Topshop Joni Jeans (which are fairly thin and very tight and stretchy), they don’t look bulky or weird. Consider me a convert to the ways of Heattech!

Cool weather means I can finally bust out the shoes I like wearing instead of half-heartedly slipping on the same beat-up flats every day. I’m of the opinion that a good pair of boots can make a “meh” outfit amazing. My favourite pair? My Topshop Marbles Elastic Ankle Boots, my biggest fashion-related splurge of 2016. They’re so beautiful and versatile. I love them because, obviously, I can wear black ankle boots anywhere, but the shiny heel and accordion detail makes them a bit interesting. Sadly Topshop doesn’t sell these anymore, but they have a lot of great boots right now!

Beverages

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I get cold super easily. If it gives you an idea of what I’m talking about, I sleep with a quilt even in the dead of summer and I never use a fan. If I drink my usual 750mL bottle of water during winter, I will not stop shivering for like fifteen years. So I turn to hot beverages to hydrate me, most notably peppermint tea. Unlike every other Canadian blogger, I’m not a huge fan of Davidstea – I like simple herbal teas, not fancy blends. But the travel mug I bought from them last winter is amazing and I’ve definitely used it enough to justify its price. It keeps tea warm for hours and hours, meaning I can bring it to work and sip whenever I have a chance and not have to worry about it cooling off. Plus, it’s really pretty. They don’t make my exact one anymore, but this one has the same features and looks similar.

When I fancy a sweet treat, I always go for Second Cup White Hot Chocolate. I’ve been popping into Second Cup to buy them since I was in middle school (so, a solid decade), and last winter I started buying the mix – it saves a lot of money and tastes just as delicious when mixed in with 2% milk. When it comes to real chocolate, dark is my favourite and I don’t like white, but there’s something about white hot chocolate that is so good.

Also, obviously I always drink my white hot chocolate out of my One Direction mug. Because I’m an adult.

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Etc

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Flannel sheets (the backdrop to all these images) are obviously necessary when it gets cold – hey, I sleep with a quilt in the summer, so I really need to step it up a notch in the winter.

I’m a reader in general, but when it’s too cold to do anything I always tear through long, meaty novels. Pictured are two books I’ve read in this final quarter of 2016 – The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton and A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James, which you’ll see in my next Books Read post – and one that I read in the winter of 2015: The True and Splendid History of Harristown Sisters by Michelle Lovric. I’d highly recommend all three if you’re looking for something to sink your teeth into!

And that’s it for my cold weather essentials! None of these things will be too far from my side in the coming months.