Summer 2018 Favourites

Posted on July 30, 2018 under Favourites

I hardly ever do favourites posts, mostly because I don’t try nearly the volume of products necessary to make that tenable on a regular basis. I think occasional seasonal roundups work for my purposes, though the last one I did was back in the fall of 2016. Here is the warm-weather answer to that, then!

Like many others, in the summer months I opt for a lighter base. This is now my second summer regularly using The Ordinary Serum Foundation in 1.1N, which doesn’t work too well for my skin in winter but looks beautifully natural in summer. To pair with this lighter base, I’ve really been enjoying Bourjois Radiance Reveal Concealer in Ivory. True to its name, it has a natural, radiant finish, but its peachy undertone does wonders in brightening up my dark undereye area. To give it a bit more coverage and lasting-power (and to make it a tad lighter), I usually mix in a little bit of Makeup Revolution Conceal and Define Concealer in C1. Mixing concealers is a new and slightly finnicky trick in my repertoire, but I can’t fault the results.

Here’s the Bourjois concealer on its own (on the right, obviously) for comparison’s sake:

When mixed with the Makeup Revolution concealer, it’s not quite as dewy as it appears in this picture. I do prefer that look slightly, but I think the results of Radiance Reveal on its own are lovely: natural, luminous, and surprisingly effective for such a comfortable, emollient, lightweight formula.

Back in May I used some Optimum points to pick up the Clinique Blush Pop in Peach Pop, my first taste of this well-loved formula. Though I find the clear plastic packaging a bit cheap-looking, I can’t deny that this is a beautiful buildable, long-lasting blush. Like a basic bitch, I love peach in the summer, so I’ve used this very frequently over the past few months. When I want a more vibrant blush, I use my trusty Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Diffused Heat, a lovely red-coral. Between those two blushes (well, and the always-appropriate Hourglass Mood Exposure, of course), I’ve scarcely touched anything else.

My eyelids eat cream formulas after the six-hour mark, and I always have the best results with powder shadow over a good primer. So colour me surprised that the Stila Shimmer and Glow Liquid Eyeshadows truly stay put on my eyes all day. In the heat of a humid Toronto summer, these shadows are quick and easy to apply and completely bulletproof. I picked up the shades Kitten (Stila’s classic champagne) and Jezebel (a rose gold) in May, and I’ve been using them… basically all the time. I do really like the Glitter and Glow shadows, too, but they’re a bit prone to fallout, while the high-impact, metallic Shimmer and Glows are not.

Here’s how Kitten looks on my eye, with a matte brown powder shadow in the crease:

And Jezebel, with some similar crease shadow action (and mascara smudges):

And a swatch gif, so you can see how beautiful these guys really are:

In the summer I gravitate towards my impossibly bright lipsticks, all of which are in the same basic colour family. Marc Jacobs So Sofia, a purchase made almost exactly a year ago as summer wound to a close, has seen a lot of use. So has Revlon Fire and Ice, a truly classic shade which lives its best life in the summer months. New-to-me is NARS Satin Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl, a shade popularized by Taylor Swift several years ago. In the wake of 1989 (which was a damn catchy pop album, sue me), I coveted the colour but could never pull the trigger; when a family friend gifted it to me last month, I was predictably ecstatic. On Swift, Dragon Girl is a bright, fiery red; on me, it’s noticeably more pink, though still as delightfully vibrant. Revlon ColorBurst Balm Stain in Romantic is a long, long, longtime favourite – it’s a beautiful sheer, warm red that’s never too much. (They still make this shade, too, though most of the Balm Stains are long gone.) After a long period of gravitating more towards neutral lipsticks, I’m back to my best self with my bold colours.

L-R: Marc Jacobs So Sofia, Revlon Fire and Ice, NARS Dragon Girl, Revlon Romantic

I arrived back in Canada at the end of May after eight months in the UK, and I found that my hands were suddenly very dry in this climate. Though I have a pretty dry face and very dry arms and legs, my hands have always self-regulated pretty well. But apparently the change in climate was too much, so I had to turn to The Chemistry Brand HA3 Hand Hydrator. This is a super effective, hyaluronic-based hand cream with a light whipped texture. The reason I like it enough to talk about on my blog is that it sinks in incredibly quickly without compromising its efficacy. I cannot stand feeling like there’s anything on my hands; I want to wash them immediately. A lot of hand creams are like nails on a chalkboard to me, but not this one. It also has a very peppy zesty scent which I enjoy.

I also really enjoy The Chemistry Brand Hyaluronic Body Mist for a hit of moisture between body lotion applications. It’s especially nice to have something so quick and easy to apply in the summer, when the heat can induce lethargy. Sometimes it seems altogether too much to rub cream all over my body, but a quick mist is within my capability. This product definitely isn’t a substitute for an actual body lotion (at least not for my dry skin!), but it’s a great interim product.

In the non-makeup realm, I would probably be dead without the Invisibobble knockoffs I got at Primark back in the winter. I’m growing out my blonde (as you have no doubt been able to surmise from my photos over the past year and a half), and I have a few months to go before I can chop it all off. My hair is longer than I like it, and since it’s very thick and abundant it’s just far too much to have on my neck in the summer. I’ve been putting it up in a high ponytail or topknot almost every day, and these little coiled hair ties do an amazing job at keeping my hair comfortably in place. I definitely don’t think you should pay for the brand name version, but if you can find cheap knockoffs they are great for keeping thick, unruly hair at bay.

And, before I go, one summery miss: Avène High Protection SPF50+ Emulsion. This sunscreen has a pleasant texture (if a bit thicker than other facial sunscreens by brands like La Roche-Posay and Vichy) and user-friendly packaging, and seems truly effective if my perpetually-fair face is anything to go by. Unfortunately, it leaves such a white cast. When I’m going to work this isn’t an issue as I put foundation on top anyway, but I often leave my house without makeup but still want to be protected from the sun. It’s a bummer, because I do like the product otherwise, and the pump/squeeze-tube hybrid packaging is always welcome in my home. When I’m out of this I’ll be looking to another brand for my face sunscreen needs.

And that’s what I’ve been putting on my face this summer! It’s a nice mixture of new discoveries and old favourites.

Months worth of decluttering packed into one convenient post

Posted on May 25, 2018 under Declutter

Yay, getting rid of things! I did a pretty thorough destash before I moved in September, but decluttering is a constant process and I have found even more that needs to leave my collection. I’m going to go ahead and say that in nine months I downsized my lipstick collection by almost 50%, and I am very proud of that. More on that in a bit…

First, a few things that I left behind in Toronto when I was there over Christmas – a relatively small purge which inspired a larger round.

First, the hideously bad Urban Decay All Nighter Foundation. I mean, hideously bad if you’re me and have dry skin and don’t like full coverage. If you like full coverage and have combo or oily skin, you might like this! It really did look like shit on me, though.

I absolutely fell in love with NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation back when I first bought it in November 2016 despite its trickiness. Over time, my skin started rejecting it, and I just found that it never looked flattering. I don’t think my skin got any dryer, but something definitely changed. It’s a shame, because it really was lovely, and I only used about 1/3 of the bottle. At least I bought it with Optimum points – I’d really hate to get rid of a $60 foundation that I spent real money on. My mom has informed me that she has taken the liberty of adopting this foundation and actually enjoys it, so I feel quite happy knowing that someone is getting my Optimum points’ worth.

The Seventeen Instant Glow Shimmer Brick is a really pretty rosy highlighter, but I’m trying to cull my highlighter collection. Ultimately it has to go because I rarely use powder highlighter and it’s just a bit more dramatic than I usually go for. It’s still a nice product, though – the Boots house brands do a great job.

ColourPop Ultra Blotted Lips in Split is just not my thing, as it turns out. The lack of staying power, finnicky application, and dryness on the lips are – shockingly – not a winning combination.

ColourPop Lippie Stix in Trixie was just never the colour I wanted it to be, and I found the formula too slippy for my tastes. ColourPop is just so frustrating – I’ve found a handful of really great, cost-effective products from them, but there are also a lot of duds amongst the impulse purchases I threw into my cart to meet the $50 free shipping minimum. It’s probably not worth all the wasted money and product for the few good things. Ultimately, I think I have to break up with ColourPop.

Buxom Plumpline Lip Liner in Mystery* is a really pretty plum that’s just a bit too patchy to be workable. Let’s be real – I have plenty of lipstick, there’s no use holding onto stuff that’s not quite right when I could be wearing formulas and colours I absolutely love. Out of the six of these lip pencils that Buxom sent me back in 2016, I now only have two – but I wear them constantly. That’s a lot better than having four that I neglect and two that I wear.

Lastly, the Revlon PhotoReady Eye Art 2-in-1 Cream Eyeshadow and Sparkle just never worked for me. I love my Stila and Urban Decay liquid eyeshadows, so those are the ones I’ll continue to use. I meant to do a full review of the Revlon ones, but suffice to say they’re thick and sticky to the point of being downright uncomfortable.

When I got back to Glasgow, I was in a decluttering mood, and over the past few months I’ve been combing through my collection, trying out things that had been gathering dust, and tossing more items into my declutter pile.

Some highlighters had to go! Kiko Radiant Touch Creamy Stick Highlighter is pretty, but I’ll always prefer the Glossier Haloscope in Quartz. While I do very much enjoy the formula and wow factor of the Makeup Revolution Liquid Highlighter in Starlight, realistically I’ll get far more wear out of my subtler highlighters. I was enchanted with the Hourglass Ambient Strobe Lighting Powder in Iridescent when I first got it, but I really do prefer cream and liquid highlights these days. This is a very pretty product and it looks practically untouched, so it’ll be nice to pass it on to a friend who will enjoy it more than I do!

I have finally accepted that I don’t wear bronzer, so it’s bye-bye to the Physician’s Formula Butter Bronzer in Light Bronzer. I got this last winter and wore it, like, two times in the summer, and now that we’ve made it through yet another winter and it remains pretty much untouched… it’s time to admit defeat. I find the tone of this a bit too orange for my liking. The Body Shop Honey Bronzer is actually a great tone for me, and if I ever want to dip my toes back into the bronzer world again I’ll repurchase that. But I think for now I will live a bronzer-free life.

The Body Shop Shade Adjusting Drops were passed on from Aisling, but none of the foundations currently in my stash require adjusting and I don’t tend to purchase foundations that I won’t be able to use straight out of the bottle. Speaking of mismatched shades, I really liked the formula of the PS… My Perfect Colour Concealer in Nude Beige, but it was not, in fact, my perfect colour.

Lots of liquid lipsticks that are out the door today! Time to say goodbye to Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipsticks in Fiore, Aria, Viola, and Beso. The first two are goners because they’re too old (though Aria is still one of the prettiest colours ever – you can kind of see it in this ancient post). Viola was just never that flattering on me, and I prefer NARS Annabella over Stila Beso if we’re talking warm reds. Other casualties were ColourPop Ultra Matte Lips in Tuesday and Lychee and Wet N Wild Liquid Catsuit in Nice to Fuchsia. Tuesday was an obvious candidate for eradication; Lychee was yet another dud in my years-long attempt to find my perfect lilac; Nice to Fuchsia was a hype-fuelled purchase in a Kentucky Walmart that I just never fell in love with.

I have declared this many many times, but I am finally ready to officially and truthfully state that I am over liquid lipsticks. I’m not even going to say “burn my house to the ground if you see me buying another liquid lipstick,” because I don’t need any incentive other than the thought of my lips shrivelling up and dying. Also because arson is illegal so I will not encourage that behaviour. The only liquid lipsticks I have left are ColourPop Dr. M (because it is a very special colour), Stila Chianti (because I haven’t found a bullet lipstick alternative to it yet), and my two Lancôme Matte Shakers* (because they don’t look, feel, or wear like liquid lipsticks).

Other lip products that had to go: Rimmel Lasting Finish by Kate Moss in 017 (featured here – old; not my most flattering colour); Lise Watier Rouge Gourmand Velours in Cake Pop (featured here – four years old and not something I wear very often); Bite Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Beetroot (mini – I’m not a huge wearer of deep reds and I prefer something a bit longer-wearing for such a dramatic colour); Maybelline Color Drama Lip Pencil in Keep It Classy (too similar to other neutrals I own, though the formula is lovely).

I also got rid of that Primark glitter lip kit that made me look ill and hurt my lips, for obvious reasons.

That’s thirteen lipsticks gone in this post in addition to the twenty-four I decluttered this past summer. When I did my lipstick inventory in August, I had an overwhelming seventy lipsticks. So I have managed to reduce it by just about bang-on fifty percent, with a total of thirty-seven lipsticks in my collection. It hasn’t been this small in years! I honestly wasn’t even aiming for this; I was just throwing things I didn’t like into a declutter box for months until I suddenly realized I’d halved my collection. I didn’t wear a lot of makeup this past school year because I was only on campus three days a week and I didn’t feel like doing fancy/exciting makeup most of the time anyway. I think that made it a lot easier to get rid of things, because when I was wearing makeup at least 40% less frequently than I had been, I wanted to use things I really, truly loved on the days that I did. That meant chucking a lot of things that I only wore when I remembered about them and keeping the things that I really love. Thirty-seven lipsticks is still more than a human actually needs, but my collection has been hovering at fifty (or more…) since at least 2015. I’m not going to use this declutter as an excuse to buy 15 more lipsticks, but ridding my collection of the dead weight does give me a bit of breathing room to carefully select a new product here and there, as I did when I got a new Marc Jacobs lipstick in Copenhagen this month.

Eye things: Bella Pierre Shimmer Powder in Snowflake is a very pretty sheer white shadow, but do you think I have the patience to mess around with a loose eyeshadow? No. Of course I don’t. Urban Decay Troublemaker Mascara frustrated me with its underwhelmingness.

A few truly random things: The Body Shop Sparkler All Over Shimmer, because I have no opportunity in my life to wear body glitter. Superdrug Naturally Radiant 5% Glycolic Acid, because I bought it out of desperation and I prefer an 8% glycolic that doesn’t smell weird. The Real Techniques Essential Foundation Brush is certainly not essential to me. I have highlighter brushes that I prefer to bdellium tools 944.

Recently I’ve been reflecting on minimalism and decluttering. I’ve reduced my makeup purchasing significantly in 2018 (like, the only makeup products I’ve purchased – as opposed to received as a gift – are a £4 concealer in March and an £8.99 tube of mascara in April). That said, I don’t think this extremely low level of buying is going to continue on forever. I’ve come a long way in reducing my consumerist tendencies and impulse purchases, but I’m not naïve enough to think that I’m done buying makeup forever. Inevitably, I get rid of a lot of things. And I think that’s okay! A lot of these products are things that I’ve had and used for years, that I’ve managed to get a lot of mileage out of but that aren’t right for me anymore. I don’t think it’s horrific that I didn’t actually finish up my tube of Rimmel lipstick, because I used it frequently for at least four years and I got my $6.99’s worth out of it for sure. And products that I didn’t get a lot of use out of – like ColourPop Tuesday – we can chalk up to learning experiences.

I like to have a diverse makeup collection because it’s fun to try new things and to have options. But I also like to feel like everything I have is being used. So if I’m going to keep buying new makeup, I will also continue to declutter, so that my collection remains within that sweet spot. When my makeup collection first swelled to a size that I found unmanageable, I thought I could perform one big cull and be done with it. But that’s definitely not the case – as long as I’m buying new things, old things will have to leave my collection. I don’t tend to sit down and pick through my collection all at once, either. Instead, I use something, realize I don’t like it much, and throw it into a box. When the box gets full, I do a blog post and let my friends go through everything. This might be the last declutter post on here for some time since I’ve definitely trimmed the fat, but you can bank on seeing another one at some point. That’s just the nature of the beast.

By the way, I’m moving back to Toronto tomorrow, so wish me luck hauling 3 suitcases and a backpack across the world!

Is Primark makeup any good?

Posted on February 13, 2018 under Reviews

Since the last time I lived in the UK, everyone’s favourite ultra-cheap fast fashion retailer Primark has brought out a full makeup range. Previously they carried only tertiary beauty products such as nail files and makeup wipes, but now they have everything from heat tools to nail polish to makeup proper. I know from experience that some Primarks are considerably better than others, so I’m not sure if all of them have the full range – but the one on Argyle Street here in Glasgow has substantial floor space devoted to this section.

At some point I wasn’t going to be able to resist testing out dirt cheap makeup, but I tried really hard not to just buy for the sake of buying. I avoided lipstick entirely, for instance, because I already have too many lipsticks as it is. I’m not saying that I needed everything I bought, but did buy things that I thought I would actually use.

PS… Pro Blending Brush (£2)

This is another one of those knockoff Artis brushes that every brand is bringing out. I probably wouldn’t have bothered, but it was marked down from £5.50 to £2, which I thought was a reasonable price. I really enjoy the other Artis knockoff I have, so this seemed like a pretty sure bet. This one is a lot bigger than my Magic Collection Oval XL brush, which itself has more surface area that your standard foundation brush:

It’s also softer, but less dense. I prefer a pretty dense brush for foundation because I find otherwise the bristles are too floppy to blend efficiently, but this one does a great job. As you would imagine, the size is both an asset and a liability: it blends foundation incredibly quickly, but it’s not great for reaching the nooks and crannies of my face. It works well with more watery foundations as well as thicker formulations. Since I got it in early December, I’ve used it almost every time I put foundation on, so I think it’s safe to say that I’m cool with where my £2 went.

I find that incredibly dense brushes of this nature are hard to clean thoroughly – no matter how many times I go over them and how thoroughly I work shampoo into the bristles, it’s hard to get out all the foundation that’s wormed its way in. That’s the major downside to this entire genre of brushes – but maybe I’m just doing it wrong.

PS… CustomEyes Eyeshadow in Cranberry (£0.60)

Say hi to that random hair that I didn’t notice until I was editing these pictures.

I liked the idea of cheap, no frills shadow pans that you can pop into an empty palette, and this wine shade was very pretty and seasonally appropriate. For some reason there is no indication of the shade name on the outer packaging of this eyeshadow – it’s only there on the back of the pan itself. This eyeshadow is 0.05oz, which at the current conversion rate makes it $21 CAD per oz, as compared to ColourPop ($4 USD for 0.053oz – $95.09 CAD per oz), MAC ($8 CAD for 0.05oz – $160 CAD per oz), and Makeup Geek ($10 USD for 0.064oz – $156.25 per oz).

When I first applied this shadow with a flat brush, I was pretty disappointed – it appeared almost matte, and the colour was quite dull. However, applied with a finger it came to life. I often pretty much always apply shimmery shades with my fingers anyway, so I don’t mind this at all. I find this shade smooth and blendable as well. I can’t speak for the other colours, but this one is definitely worth £0.60.

These swatches will show you how much better this shadow performs when applied with a finger:

L-R: One pass with a brush, built up with a brush, finger swatch

And here’s how it looks on my eyes, using ColourPop Stay Golden in the crease and lower lashline:

PS… Lip Scrub (£3)

When the weather started cooling down in late November, I began to really wish I had a lip scrub, so I was glad to happen upon this. My lips have been especially crusty this winter! I’ve been sporadically mixing my own scrubs out of olive oil and brown sugar, but it’s just more convenient to have a premade one. As lip scrubs go, this one does the job just fine. I feel like loose lip scrubs are pretty much all the same, so I got exactly what I expected out of this. I have to say I do prefer the convenience of the ELF lip scrub, which is packed firm in a lipstick tube. This one tastes really good, though.

Golden Rose Ice Chic Nail Colour in 44 (£2)

I wasn’t actually going to buy any nail polish, but then I saw this muted magenta and decided to take a chance on it. In the bottle, it looked how I wanted Essie Bahama Mama to be on my nails. It requires two coats for opacity (it’s super streaky with just one coat) and ends up a deep purple, definitely not a magenta.

With my Sally Hansen Miracle Gel tip coat, I got well over a week with minimal chipping. Here’s how it looked on day ten:

It appears truer to colour here thanks to the sunlight – but in most lighting it was much darker.

One of the brush hairs wasn’t trimmed properly, which causes it to deposit colour where I don’t want any. This is the type of bizarre defect I would expect from Primark nail polish. Otherwise I think this is a fine product. I’d buy more if they had any colours that interested me.

A bit out of focus, but hopefully you can see that annoying little brush hair.

PS… My Perfect Colour Liquid Concealer in Nude Beige (£2)

I actually needed a new undereye concealer, so when I saw this I thought it was a worthy risk. My Primark doesn’t provide testers for this particular product, but luckily a herd of bipedal mammals had helpfully created their own. Unluckily, I had to dig pretty hard to find an unspoiled one. I have never been Nude Beige in anything in my life, but it turns out this works really well colour-wise under my eyes. It’s a hair darker than my actual skin, but the tone helps conceal undereye circles. I wouldn’t buy this exact shade again, but I can make it work.

This is a light-medium coverage with a creamy, blendable texture and a natural finish. It does crease a bit under the eyes if not set with powder, but most concealers do. I’m shocked that I like this as much as I do, to be honest, but it works better under my eyes than NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer and Maybelline Age Rewind. (To be fair, I really never got on with RCC – I’m sure most people would feel differently.)

No concealer on the left, concealer on the right

PS… Get Lippy Glitter Collection in Heaven Sent (£3)

Yes. I bought a glitter lip kit. This is ridiculous and arguably skirts the line of “things I will actually use”. But for £3… come on. How could I not? The kit comes with a lip liner, a “lip vinyl” (a very sticky, opaque gloss), and a pot of chunky glitter. I want to say they had a gold kit as well, but I went for this light, cool pink for some unknown reason.

Spoiler alert: I hate this! First of all, it’s a bad colour on me, but that doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker. I mean, it’s a glitter lip kit, I’m obviously wearing it to make a statement, and the statement doesn’t have to be “looking pretty”. I bought it basically thinking I could wear it to drag shows and the random nights out I have with my friends where we put on wild makeup for the purposes of sitting in a private karaoke room and screaming “Not Ready To Make Nice” by the Dixie Chicks until we’re hoarse. However, the other problem is that this glitter is so large that it actually hurts to wear. I’ve never worn regular-sized cosmetic glitter on my lips, but I imagine that it feels like sand. Which is probably not comfortable but also probably not painful. This stuff though… it was like having five hundred tiny pieces of glass digging into my lips. So after I documented it, I promptly removed it (which was a hassle, because that shit really does stick) and put on a sensible pink Matte Shaker* instead.

I also promptly removed the lashes and replaced them with a half strip.

There’s really not much glitter in the pot so if you were to buy this and use it semi-regularly you could conceivably use it up and be left with a lip liner and lip gloss. However, I don’t see that actually happening because it is so damn uncomfortable to wear. Also, the lip vinyl feels very thick and uncomfortable. The lip liner’s pretty nice, but it’s not a colour I’ll ever wear. So, 0/3 here. Oh well. It was £3, you know?

And that is that! We had one obvious dud in the bunch, but I actually use all of the other stuff. Not bad for a haul costing a monumental £10.60. If you’re in the UK (or visiting!) I would definitely recommend popping into your local Primark to check out the makeup section – it’s surprisingly good!