Onwards with the inventory series! Today I’m doing highlighter, bronzer, and contour products all in one, since I don’t have enough of the latter two categories to warrant their own posts. As always, I’ve linked to full reviews where they exist.
Whoever led me to believe that the ELF Illuminating Palettes were good should be JAILED, because they are TERRIBLE. I am so heated about this that I am in caps lock mode. You’ll be able to see better in the swatches below, but they have basically no payoff at all and are powdery and dry-looking. I’m on board with a subtle highlight, but these are just bad.
Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Moonstone was my first highlighter purchase, and it’s one of my favourites. It’s the perfect light champagne shade for my fair skin, and though it packs a punch it’s not glittery or chunky. I don’t always want a highlight this in-your-face, but it’s beautiful for those moments. The SSP in Opal is most talked-about, but if you’re on the fairer side check out Moonstone – it gives pretty much the same effect but is more suited for fair to light skintones.
I really enjoy the peachy-pink glow of my Hourglass Ambient Strobe Lighting Powder in Iridescent. However, all in all I think this is a pretty standard highlighter, and I was expecting more of Hourglass. As the world’s biggest Ambient Lighting Blush fan, I yearned for them to do a proper highlighter for ages, so of course I was first in line to buy one when they launched. I do think this is a nice powder – finely-milled, soft, and glowy without being glittery – but I was kind of expecting them to revolutionize the highlighting game. I enjoy the one I have but I won’t buy another.
The first four swatches are the ELF highlighters, but you can’t even see the first three because THEY ARE SO BAD. After those we have Becca Moonstone and Hourglass Iridescent.
I much prefer powder over cream when it comes to blush, but with highlighter it’s the opposite. It’s partially the ease of swiping on a cream product and partially the finish creams tend to give. Powder highlighters are usually more intense, whereas creams are slightly toned-down and melt into the skin better.
The Topshop Glow Highlighter in Polished is probably my favourite highlighter ever: it gives an intense, pearly glow that is downright otherworldly. It’s a statement highlight, but I love it. I own nothing else remotely like this.
Glossier Haloscope in Quartz was my first exposure to stick highlighter, and it could not have been a better one. This is an incredibly emollient formula which looks almost glazed on the skin. It can be applied directly from the stick and blended in with the fingers with minimal effort. It’s super pretty and just how I like my highlight to look: present but not over-the-top.
I wasn’t expecting much from the new-ish Revlon PhotoReady InstaFix Highlighter Stick in Pink Light, but I do like it. It has a dryer texture than the Glossier Haloscope by far, so I like to apply it by rubbing my finger in the product and then tapping it onto my face. It also doesn’t blend as easily, but it doesn’t require excessive elbow grease by any means. It gives a very nice, borderline metallic pink highlight. They do make one in a champagne shade as well, but champagne highlighters are a dime a dozen and I do find something more pink-based quite flattering on my skintone. My only major complaint about this product is that it costs $23 in Canadian drugstores. Like… what? DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT THE DRUGSTORE IS, REVLON????
Finally, the newest addition to my highlighter collection, Vichy Teint Idéal Highlighter. This is a liquid product which is applied via rollerball. It’s a very thin, sheer, almost white-based formula which doesn’t add much colour to the face but which gives a glorious wet look. I got this at a Vichy brand training and wasn’t expecting to enjoy it, but it’s quickly becoming one of my favourites. It’s easy to apply straight from the tube, blends in easily with the fingers, and looks stunning on the skin. I’d definitely recommend this one if you want a wet-look highlighter!
L-R: Topshop Polished, Glossier Quartz, Revlon Pink Light, Vichy Teint Idéal.
Bronzer & Contour
I only ever have one bronzer at a time because it’s not a product type which I use heavily. Currently I have the Physician’s Formula Butter Bronzer in Light Bronzer, which is a good option for fair skin. I find this slightly warmer than the lightest shade of The Body Shop Honey Bronzer, for reference, but it still works fine on my skin. I’m not a bronzer connoisseur so I don’t have much to compare it to, but it’s nice. I don’t know that it’s necessarily worthy of the raves it got on YouTube when it first launched, because it doesn’t seem like anything special to me, but what do I know about bronzer? Not much! Oh, I also really dislike the strong artificial coconut scent, but that seems to be one of its drawing points for many people.
I love love love my Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder in Light for contour. It’s not too ashy but not warm by any means, and the depth and shade work very well on my colouring. This is a pricey little guy, but so far I have no regrets about this purchase.
L-R: Physician’s Formula, Kevyn Aucoin
Obviously, I’m very happy with the state of my bronzer and contour stash – I have one product to fulfill each of those functions, which is exactly what I need. I think my highlighter collection is a tiny bit excessive for someone who isn’t a highlighter fanatic, but it’s under control. I don’t see myself acquiring more products in any of these categories, at least not for quite some time.
About a month ago, I created a pile of items to try out and decide on one way or the other before I packed up and moved back to Toronto post-degree. Well, here’s the verdict on those items, plus some other random bits I’m getting rid of. (I’m moving at the end of this week, but I’m still not quite done my degree yet…)
I’m getting rid of the Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner Brights in Cobalt, Mint, and Periwinkle, because they’re just bad products. I’ve tried to make them work for so long, and I can’t! They’re old now, anyway.
I’m keeping Benefit Gimme Brow because despite its relatively rare use, it is extraordinarily handy on the occasions when I need it. I’ll be back at work soon and this is one of my go-to products when I have to open the store and sleep in as late as possible, leaving myself with about 20 minutes to do a full face of makeup. I’m also keeping Maybelline Colour Tattoo in Inked in Pink for similar reasons, and because it’s a great base for rose gold eye makeup.
I’m keeping L’Oreal Infallible Lipstick in Violet Parfait because I discovered that I actually really like it. Everything else is going.
I felt very “meh” about Marcelle Rouge Xpression in Cleopatra on me, despite it being a colour that’s usually up my alley. Hourglass Opaque Rouge Liquid Lipstick in Icon is nothing special, and my little sample is nearly gone anyway. My OCC Lip Tar in Strumpet has separated, and though I like the colour a lot I found that it feathered and was generally a hassle to work with. Finally, I’m getting rid of Topshop lipstick in Depth; I don’t like the formula, and now that I have Stila Chianti (featured on my face in my ColourPop haul), I don’t need it.
I’m keeping Illamasqua Cream Pigment in Hollow despite how beat up it looks. It hasn’t gone off and it’s just the best contour ever. NYX Blush in Taupe is NOTHING compared to this baby.
Like I said in my initial post, Lancôme Blush In Love in Pêche Joue-Joue is a gorgeous colour and there’s nothing wrong with the product at all. I just have other go-to peach blushes, and I don’t need that many. I also returned Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Pearl, so now I have more than $50 in store credit to spend as I wish.
I’m also getting rid of the following, which were not a part of this little project:
I totally put The Body Shop Smokey Plum palette into these pictures, but after looking at reviews I remembered how much I love this so THE PICTURES LIE. However, I am getting rid of this Lancôme GWP quad because I don’t use these colours and I don’t think they’re very good quality anyway! I’m also tossing Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow Stick in Shadow (sample); this was a 100-point perk and I wanted to love it because it’s the perfect cool taupe. Sadly, it creased to hell on my eyelids, even with primer. I tried using it to contour, but it’s just a bit too grey for that. The cashier at Sephora told me that it makes a good lipstick, but I tried it and just didn’t see myself actually wearing it regularly. So, of it goes to someone whose eyelids aren’t eyeshadow-consuming demons.
Although Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet in Nude-ist is a really nice colour with a decent formula, it smells a bit off. I liked this, but I wouldn’t repurchase because I have similar colours and, I mean, ENOUGH WITH THE LIQUID LIPSTICKS.
Rimmel Lasting Finish by Kate Moss Matte 107 is practically a beauty blogging cliché. It’s a nice colour and formula, don’t get me wrong – I just have too many berry red colours to justify keeping it around. This colour has sentimental value for me because it’s the lipstick I bought on the day that I went to hand my résumé to my now-boss – I picked it in a panic because I thought I should buy something rather than just ask her to hire me. But that is not a good reason to keep it! (Early May will be two years at that job!)
I’ve kept Lipstick Queen lipstick in Electric Slide around through two separate holiday seasons thinking it would be perfect for a Christmas party. But who am I kidding? I’ll choose matte red lips over garishly sparkly red lips any day.
I really do think that Arbonne Smoothed Over Lipstick in Aster* and Glossed Over Gloss in Hyacinth* are objectively good (though overpriced) products for what they are. I’m just not a person who goes for sheer lipstick or lipgloss of any kind. I know a friend will enjoy the hell out of these, though.
Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Ultra Lipstick in Cassis is just not my thing. It’s a frosty brownish-plum and that’s not what I’m about.
Rimmel Provocalips Kiss Proof Lip Colour in Play With Fire is just okay. I prefer the L’Oreal version of this product, mainly because this one bleeds out of my lip lines. Otherwise it does have excellent staying power, but I have other reds that don’t bleed.
The Beautypedia calls Pür Minerals 4-in-1 Pressed Mineral Makeup in Porcelain the “cornerstone” of Pür Minerals, and I’d agree. I sell these powders all the time at work. I liked this pretty well when I first got it even though it’s about half a shade darker than my skin, but it developed a film that I had to constantly scrape off. Plus, it could be a bit too powdery on my dry skin. Ultimately, I realized that if I don’t wear liquid foundation I just put concealer where I need it and don’t bother with a light coverage powder foundation. This product is pretty old and crusty, so I’ll toss it instead of passing it on to someone else.
I swatched Stila Perfecting Concealer in A a million times and could have sworn that it was light enough for me, but when I actually used it on my face it was another story – too dark and orange. I’m a bit sad that I barely even used this $30+ concealer, but I did buy it with Optimum points so it’s not like I wasted any actual money on it. It’s a great coverage concealer, so I’m sure one of my slightly less fair friends will enjoy it.
Body and Skin
I have nothing to say about any of these products because I haven’t used them. I just have an overflow of products thanks to my job. For the record, they are La Roche-Posay Lipikar Soothing Protecting Shower Gel*, Vichy Idélia Life Serum, Vichy Idélia Eyes, and Lise Watier Age Prevention Supreme Mattifying Creme-Gel. I have no idea why I receive so many anti-aging products…
I also gave away a Topshop Lipstick in Brighton Rock and Bourjois Java Rice Powder to my friend Hayley in February. I do not get on with the Topshop formula, even though Brighton Rock is a really pretty vibrant pink (and named after one of my favourite places in the UK). I never quite understood how to use the Java Rice Powder – it’s too sparkly to be a setting powder but not really noticeable as a highlight, at least on me.
And that, my friends, is a total of 24 products moved out of my collection. Not bad!
So, I’ll be finished my degree a month from today, and a few days after that I’ll be going back to Toronto for the summer. I am already stressed about packing everything into a suitcase and moving to another city via Megabus, which has put me in the mood for a serious round of decluttering. I’ve had a bunch of makeup products that I’m on the fence about and have been meaning to try and decide on for awhile now – and now I have a deadline. Transporting things back with me just to get rid of them there is illogical, so I’ve made a pile of products to try in the next month and decide on one way or the other.
I used to use the Maybelline Colour Tattoo in Inked in Pink at least 3 times a week, but I haven’t touched it in months. Maybe even a year! I rarely use cream shadows anymore. I do really like the colour of this one on my eyes, and it works really well as a base for shadows from the Naked 3 palette, but I’m just not sure if it’s worth keeping this (rather clunkily-packaged) product around.
I don’t know if there’s really anything left of my Benefit Gimme Brow, and regardless I pretty much never use it. I used the bulk of it up last year when I was travelling a lot, because when sitting on a hostel bed with terrible lighting I wanted to quickly whip a few products on my face and be done with it. If there’s nothing left in it, that will make my decision for me – but if it’s still usable, I have to weigh whether I’ll use it enough to justify keeping it.
I’m really not a fan of the Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner Brights line. The regular Stay All Day liners are holy grail status to me, but the Brights are different. These are also fairly old, so this is really just a matter of using the three of these for the next month and then most likely tossing them. I may keep Cobalt, because it’s the only one with any real colour payoff.
Back when I cut back on my fuchsia lipsticks, Marcelle Rouge Xpression in Cleopatra just barely made it through – and since then, August 2015, I’ve probably worn it twice. I really do love the colour, so I need to seriously evaluate it. And also STOP BUYING FUCHSIA LIPSTICK. Back in summer 2013 that was the only colour of lipstick I bought, and I’m still very drawn to it despite not lacking for it whatsoever.
The deep purple of Topshop lipstick in Depth is absolutely gorgeous, but the formula is tricky. I find that it goes on pretty patchy, and it’s not as long-lasting as I’d like for a lipstick that’s this intensely different from my natural lip colour. I don’t have any other colour like this, and I love the colour itself, so I’m hesitant to let it go. We’ll see how it goes – but next time in the UK I will bypass the regular Topshop lipsticks and go straight for the Matte Lip Bullets, which I have heard very good things about.
I know I don’t have a hope in hell of finishing OCC Lip Tar in Strumpet (which is actually more of a reddish berry; the image quality isn’t very good). The amount of product in the Lip Tar tubes is insane for how little you actually need to achieve full, opaque coverage on the lips, and they do go bad – my tube of Hoochie separated something fierce and became completely unusable. Strumpet is a beautiful colour, but the Lip Tars are such a pain in the ass to use that I reach for it very infrequently. But maybe if I make myself fall in love with the colour I’ll use it more often.
I’ve used this sample of the Hourglass Opaque Rouge Liquid Lipstick in Icon once, and I wasn’t terribly impressed. I’ll give it another shot and then toss it. There’s not much product in it, anyway; it’s really only good for a very few uses.
Embarrassingly, I bought the L’Oreal Infallible Lipstick in Violet Parfait in the summer and have worn it ONCE since then. I actually love the formula and enjoy the slightly grey-toned purple, and I think I would have used this a lot two years ago – but I have naturally been gravitating towards slightly more socially acceptable colours in the last year. I need to really evaluate the colour on my face and ask myself whether this will fit into the actual life that I am living.
The Lancôme Blush In Love in Pêche Joue-Joue (which is a bizarre phrase, translating to “peach cheek-cheek”) is no doubt a beautiful, easy-to-wear colour, but do I really need more warm peach blushes? It’s not a colour that I reach for terribly often, and definitely not in the colder months. And ever since I bought Hourglass Luminous Flush back in July, that’s been my go to peach blush 90% of the time. The only thing that sets Pêche Joue-Joue apart from the others is that it’s matte – but I’m not sure that that’s quite enough to justify keeping it around.
(In case anyone was wondering, I’ve photographed it with Milani Baked Blush in Luminoso, Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Luminous Flush, and Sleek Blush by 3 in Lace – though the middle shade, Guipure, is the one I use on a regular basis.)
Illamasqua Cream Pigment in Hollow was universally touted as The Contour Shade for pale people back in 2013, so one of the first things I did when I got to the UK in September 2014 was go to an Illamasqua counter and purchase it. You’re probably looking at this picture and screaming, “GET RID OF IT, IT IS DISGUSTING,” and, I mean, yes, it is, but it’s still usable. It looks crusty, but it’s perfectly creamy and shows no signs of having gone bad. NYX Taupe was the other contour that everyone said was made for the fair-skinned among us, so when NYX finally came to Pharmaprix/Shoppers Drug Mart I picked it up. I think the new formulation may be different from the old one – or maybe the YouTube hype machine lied to me. I don’t hate it, but it’s quite a bit darker than Illamasqua, and less blendable. I have to decide if it’s worth keeping Hollow or if it’s time to let it go now that it’s grimy as hell.
At this point, I don’t think NYX Taupe will be my always-and-forever contour product. I do love Hollow, but it has the downside of being a cream, so it spoils much more quickly than a powder. I think eventually I will either repurchase Hollow (when I’m back in the UK) or try out the Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder that everyone and their mom loves.
Ahh, Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Pearl. I truly should love this: the Becca highlighter formula is great, and a pure white highlighter is the ideal for someone who’s barely any darker than pure white. But for all the YouTube hype (I swear it was in everybody’s 2015 favourites), I just don’t love it. I mean, is it good? Sure. But it doesn’t do anything mindblowing for me, and, in fact, once actually on my cheeks I don’t find that its effect is radically different from Moonstone! I’ve been going back and forth on returning this to Sephora for quite some time, and now that I’m in the last 30 days of the return window I need to figure it out.
I’ll do a check-in post in about a month letting you know what I kept and what I got rid of. I’m anticipating a fairly high rate of decluttering here, but I’m also indecisive and prone to falling in love with long-forgotten products, so we’ll see!