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.

Is Olaplex worth it?

Posted on May 17, 2017 under Reviews

Olaplex review

I’ve been blonde again for two months now, after a two-month flirtation with red. The red was never quite right: it took much better to my roots than to my bleached lengths, so I had a vibrant auburn that faded into a slightly watery brownish-red. And I just don’t like myself as a redhead; as soon as I went back to blonde I felt like myself again.

Of course, being blonde involves a lot of damage to the hair. This time around, my hair had had enough. For weeks I smothered it in every deep conditioner and hair mask known to man, I soaked it in argan oil, I force-fed it enough protein to keep an army going – and still it was dry, brittle, and hideous.

Olaplex has been getting a lot of hype in the beauty community for awhile now. Despite seeming on the surface like a perfect candidate for the treatments, I’ve been ignoring it since I heard about it because the price tag isn’t exactly negligible. But with my extremely damaged hair, I had to go for the big guns. I had to drop 30 bucks on a 100mL bottle of Olaplex 3.

In case you haven’t heard of Olaplex, it’s a 3-step system that helps to actually repair the damaged and weakened bonds in your hair. Step 1 and 2 are salon-grade: Step 1 would be mixed into any chemical treatments (such as bleach or toner) and step 2 would be applied afterwards. Step 3 is a diluted version of step 2 and is meant to be used at home, between salon treatments. Since I do my own hair colour and since Step 1 and Step 2 are only available to professionals, I only use Step 3.

Step 3 is not a conditioner; it doesn’t add any extra moisture to your hair. You’d apply it after shampooing, leave it on your head for at least 10 minutes, and then rinse it out and finish with conditioner or a hair mask. Personally I’ve had the best results using it as an overnight mask and washing it out in the morning. I’m not a daily hair-washer, so this feels like a bit of a chore to me, but it’s only once a week so it’s not too bad. Plus, in a time crunch, I’ve found that I can go about my day without washing the Olaplex out, though my hair gets oily faster.

So, is Olaplex worth it? Well, having used Olaplex 3 weekly since the end of March, I’m going to have to go with yes. When I first went back to blonde my hair was as damaged as I’d ever seen it. Usually after I chemically process it, it’ll be pretty dry for a bit, but I can always nurse it back to health with hair masks. However, nothing was cutting it this time – no matter how many hair masks I used or how much oil I applied, it was still crunchy, straw-like, and almost impossible to brush through. I had to wear it up or in braids every day to hide the damage. In fact, let me show you how gross it was:

Before Olaplex

Before Olaplex

This was after applying a generous helping of argan oil, and you can still see how dull and dead it looks.

With my first Olaplex treatment, I left it in for 20 minutes and washed it out, then followed up with conditioner. My hair felt better afterwards, but not significantly so. However, each time I’ve used it subsequently I’ve applied it from roots to tips, brushed it through to evenly distribute the product, waited about 20 minutes, and applied another (smaller) amount, then kept it in overnight. That’s where I started seeing results. Here’s my hair after my initial short treatment and two overnight ones:

After 2 Olaplex treatments

After 2 Olaplex treatments

I still think it appears damaged, though it’s obviously a significant improvement which I attribute entirely to Olaplex.

And here it is yesterday, six treatments in:

After 6 Olaplex treatments

After 6 Olaplex treatments

You can clearly see how improved it is. It also feels so much healthier and stronger. Not only is it smooth to the touch, when wet it’s not as elastic-y as it used to be. After I bleached it again in mid-March, every time it was wet it was stringy and stretchy. Now it has regular wet hair texture. Obviously, between the last set of pictures and this one I took off several inches, and a lot of the most damaged parts were cut out. But Olaplex has certainly improved the health of my hair by a significant amount. (By the way, I did go a slightly darker blonde, but the difference in colour is mostly due to lighting!)

I think that with Olaplex there does come a point of diminished return – that is, you can only get your hair so healthy, especially when it’s hair that has sustained three years of DIY bleach damage. My hair is not in the same condition that it was pre-bleach, and I don’t know that it ever will be. But Olaplex has restored a lot of health to my hair, and it looks and feels much better than it has in about two years, which is when I first started to experience noticeable effects of bleach damage. I’ll continue to use it because it certainly can’t hurt; though I don’t think I’ll continue to see massive improvements in the wellbeing of my hair at this point, it’ll be good for maintenance at the very least.

Now, $30 for 100mL (3.4 fl oz) does seem steep. For some reason I’m happy to spend $50 on a foundation, but any hair product that costs more than $10 is a stretch for me. This is silly; if I’m going to chemically process my hair to the extreme I should be willing to put some money into its care and maintenance. And when you break it down, Olaplex 3 treatments are weekly, so it’s not like I’m going to go through this little bottle in a month. Is it still pricey for how much product you get? Yes, of course. But is it worth it to repair traumatized hair? I think so. The fact is, being platinum blonde long-term requires special care. I keep saying I’m going to stop being blonde soon as it’s so bad for my hair, but perhaps Olaplex will allow me to continue on this path for awhile yet…