Cream and liquid highlighters for every occasion

Posted on April 27, 2018 under Reviews

I only have powder blushes in my collection; after dabbling in various cream and liquid formulas, I have finally come to the conclusion that they just aren’t for me. But I’m the complete opposite when it comes to highlighter – I vastly prefer cream and liquid formulas, as a general rule. I tend to enjoy a more subtle highlight, and creams reign supreme at creating a natural effect on the skin. But even when I’m looking for something a little more out-of-this-world, I find creams and liquids just sit on my skin more seamlessly. Today I’m going to share with you a variety of cream and liquid highlighters that cover the spectrum from “barely-there” to “very blingy”.

For once the dreary Scottish weather (and endless winter!) came in handy as I find underexposed pictures better show off how highlighter looks on the skin. That said, it’s true that when blended out the similarities between highlighters tend to flatten, even moreso when photographed (at least by the amateur known as Clementine). The comparison swatches at the end of the post will hopefully elucidate the differences between these products, but at the end of the day they are all shiny things you rub on your face. You really only need so many.

Glossier Haloscope in Quartz

$22 USD/$27 CAD for 0.19oz ($115.79 USD/$142.11 CAD per oz)

This is the highlighter for the person who wants a little glow without looking like they’re wearing anything. It gives the most beautiful radiance without appearing to actually be there at all. It has a very emollient, slightly sticky texture which never totally goes away, so if you have combination to oily skin this may not be the product for you. However, on my dry skin it blends in beautifully with my fingers and looks so fresh. It gives an almost glazed appearance to the skin, which sounds weird but is really excellent. I pretty much always roll my eyes at Glossier products – their marketing doesn’t resonate with me at all and most of what they do can be easily duped – but I can’t deny that this is my most-used highlighter. You win this round, Glossier.

Revlon PhotoReady InstaFix Highlighter Stick in Pink Light

$13.99 USD/$21.99 CAD for 0.31oz ($45.13 USD/$70.94 CAD per oz)

First I would like to point out that if you stroll into a Canadian drugstore, this Revlon highlighter will cost a mere $5 less than a similar product from Glossier. I mean… drugstore prices are absurd. $22 for a highlighter from Revlon? Seriously? Begrudgingly I must admit that this is a very beautiful highlighter. If you want, you can get this product in a standard champagne-y highlighter tone and I’m sure it would be lovely. Personally, I live for Pink Light – I find this tone of highlighter really flattering on me! This is one that you definitely want to apply with your fingers rather than swiping it directly onto your face, since the texture is a bit dry. However, that means it’ll last a lot longer than something as dewy as the Haloscope, and won’t leave you with that lingering stickiness on your cheekbones. You can blend out a thin layer of this product for a more subtle look or build it up if you want an intense highlight – just keep in mind that it is unmistakably on the metallic side.

Vichy Teint Idéal Highlighter

$27 CAD for 0.24 fl oz ($112.50 per fl oz)

This is the most glorious wet look highlighter that has ever existed. It has a very thin and sheer formula, though it can be built up. It has a distinctly white base, so it’s probably not suitable for all skintones – though it’s sheer enough that I think it’d be decently forgiving on light to medium skin. What do I know, though, I’m very white. Anyway, one layer of this highlighter is pretty subtle, but two layers gives you that super intense pearly wet look. This is a very reflective highlighter, so it’s not like it’s exactly a natural look, but it’s not blingy, either. There’s no visible glitter chunks and it melts into the skin really nicely. Basically, it’s beautiful, and I love it.

Topshop Glow Highlighter in Polished

£10/$17.91 CAD for 0.14oz (£71.43/$127.93 CAD per oz)

Have you ever wanted to look like you rubbed the visual essence of opals all over your cheekbones? Well, Topshop can hook you up with this insane highlighter that shifts between white and pearlescent pink. It is so beautiful. It’s also pretty intense, but I don’t find it emphasizes texture. It just blends into my skin and makes me look like I’m from another world. I cannot say enough good things about this highlighter, because it is so special and impactful and brilliant. I fell in love with it when I bought it over three years ago and that love remains at a fever pitch to this day.

Makeup Revolution Liquid Highlighter in Starlight

£6/$10.75CAD for .4 fl oz (£15/$26.88 CAD per fl oz)

This is not a highlighter for the faint of heart. No, this is a super metallic highlighter that you could probably see from outer space. So if you don’t want aliens to see you then you should definitely not buy this. But if you do want to make friendly contact with them, well, I’m not saying that highlighter is a substitute for, like, NASA, I’m just saying that this highlighter is visible from anywhere in the universe. It’s not often a look that I go for, but sometimes you go out with friends or just really feel like a pick-me-up in the form of really intense highlighter. This one probably wouldn’t be the best if you have a lot of texture on your cheekbones, though. I also find that it by far blends best with the fingertips; you’d think a liquid highlighter would do well with a damp sponge, but no, that is not the case here. If you want to blend out the harsh edges, you are going to need to use your fingers. That’s not a problem for me because I am a huge advocate of using my fingers for as many makeup application steps as possible. Maybe you’re different. I’m just letting you know.

Here are some comparison swatches:

L-R: Glossier Haloscope in Quartz, Revlon PhotoReady InstaFix Highlighter Stick in Pink Light, Vichy Teint Idéal Highlighter, Topshop Glow Highlighter in Polished, Makeup Revolution Liquid Highlighter in Starlight

And an underexposed shot so you can really see how these babies shine:

I’m telling you Polished and Starlight are high-impact.

And a gif, because movement really helps show a highlighter’s potential:

And I think three swatch photos probably suffice…

I’m still not the biggest highlighter person; it’s a step that I can easily sacrifice if I’m in a rush. But this cream and liquid highlighter wardrobe gives me every option I need, from “I don’t want you to know I’m actually wearing highlighter” to “I’m going to be in the presence of drag queens and my cheekbones need to catch their attention”.

My AM and PM skincare routine, winter 2018

Posted on February 06, 2018 under Lists

It’s been quite some time since I shared what skincare I’m using, so I thought I’d do a bit of a skincare update. I’m still working my way through the backlog of gratis from my days working in cosmetics; as a result, there are some items in this post that aren’t utter favourites. But I think lukewarm to negative reviews are very useful, so why not include them?

As always, my skin is normal to dry, leaning dryer at this time of year. (Actually, most of my face has settled down from the transition in seasons – it’s only my nose that is still parched.) I usually only break out hormonally, and I do have fairly persistent hyperpigmentation which follows blemishes long after they die. I focus on hydration and acid toning in my skincare. I probably do my full skincare routine about 95% of the time. I never go to bed without washing my face and slapping on some night cream or an oil, but I can’t think of the last time I skipped a step – maybe in somewhere in the Christmas madness.

Here’s what my skin looks like without makeup. These pictures were taken at the end of January, when I was recovering from a stress breakout. (80% healed now, I’d say.)

I sometimes have closed comedones on my forehead and I get the occasionally random zit there, but it’s usually clear. It’s hard to tell in this picture but at this time a rare blemish was in the final stages of healing.

It can be hard to tell the difference between freckles and hyperpigmentation, but there are a few healing blemishes around the centre of my face here, which is rare for me. The ones on the left side of my chin are more standard – I always have either an active breakout or hyperpigmentation there. Despite the fact that my most recent breakout was larger than normal, this is pretty much the best my skin will be: by the time the hyperpigmentation starts to fade, a new zit will find a home on my face. Skincare really helps mitigate the length and scope of my breakouts, but, like 99% of people on this planet, my skin will never be totally blemish-free.

By the way, usually my zits aren’t too bad, but I do have the really bad habit of picking them, and sometimes they’re monsters to begin with, and the combination sometimes results in disasters.

I also occasionally have a bit of blotchy redness at the bottom of my cheeks. This tends to be more pronounced in hotter weather, so it’s not very noticeable right now at all. I don’t generally have very sensitive skin, but some skincare also exacerbates this redness.

Finally, I think it’s essential to note that, while skincare is a really great tool to address various concerns, a lot of “good skin” is genetic. I’ve never had particularly problematic skin; even at the peak of my teenage breakouts (age 14-15) I was doing okay. I hope it’s obvious that I’m not saying this to brag, just to be realistic about the results my skincare routine can actually achieve.

Gratis received through work will be marked with an asterisk, as always.

AM Routine

In the morning, I like to keep things pretty simple – I prefer not to rush through my morning routine but also like to maximize on my sleep, so there’s a delicate balancing act! If my face feels quite dry I don’t bother washing it; if not, I use a light cream or gel cleanser. Currently I’m using the Avène 3-in-1 makeup remover*, which does an okay job at gentle cleansing but which I do find leaves a sticky residue if I don’t wash it off vigilantly. My favourite cleanser for this purpose is the Marcelle Ultra Gentle Cleansing Gel. It’s gentle but efficient and doesn’t strip the skin or leave a residue. And it’s only $12.95! I’ll go back to it when I finish the Avène.

Unlike every other surface of my body, my undereyes are not horribly dry, so in the morning I’ve been really enjoying the Biotherm Homme Aquapower Eye Depuffer*. It’s a light, cooling gel that is perfect first thing in the morning when I’m trying to do my makeup despite the fact that it’s pitch black.

Lately I’ve been starting my skincare with The Ordinary EUK 134 0.1%, which is an antioxidant with an oily texture. I love using antioxidants if I’m going outside – living in a city I’m exposed to lots of free radicals in the forms of pollution, car exhaust, etc. For this time of year the oily texture of the EUK has been working quite well for me, but I’m not sure if I’ll love it so much in the summer. I find it layers well under other products but I’ll have to see if it’s too heavy in the warmer months, when my skin is pretty much normal.

For moisturizer I’ve been using La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra*. I’m a longtime fan of LRP’s Toleriane Riche, which is a thicker cream great for dry, sensitive skin. However, Toleriane Ultra is thinner and layers better with other skincare and makeup. It isn’t as fluid as some moisturizers and does deliver enough hydration for my day-to-day needs – it helps that I pack on a lot of hydration in my nighttime routine so that I can use lighter products under my makeup.

Sunscreen is Vichy Ideal Soleil SPF50* – I find this one and the LRP Anthelios fluid basically interchangeable. Both are lightweight, non-greasy facial sunscreens that layer well. When I run out, I’m interested in trying some Japanese sunscreens since I hear great things about them and they seem to be a bit more cost-effective than Vichy or LRP.

And that’s it for my morning routine – I don’t use actives or do too much product layering.

PM Routine

My nighttime skincare routine is one of my favourite rituals, and washing my face is the best part. There’s something so satisfying about taking off broken down, hours-old makeup. I always really like the way my skin looks when I’m freshly-cleansed, too. My cleansing routine could be described as “extra”, but I like to be really thorough and make sure my face is spotless. I’ve been a devoted user of oil cleansers for about five years now; I find they’re great at breaking down makeup, and they do my dry skin a big favour. Currently I’m using the Biotherm Total Renew Oil Cleanser*. It has a very pleasant texture – not greasy, and without any residue. Though it’s effective and nice to use, I think it’s too expensive for what it is. The Body Shop Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil is half the price (and as we all know The Body Shop constantly has deals) and I like that it emulsifies more.

I find that no cleanser ever gets all my makeup off, even if my skin looks bare to the naked eye. I always do a second pass with a gentle gel cleanser, so the Avène cleanser comes into play here. On no-makeup days (which are pretty frequent, actually; I’m only on campus three days a week and don’t normally put on makeup to run errands) I just use the Avène cleanser.

I will always love the La Roche-Posay Respectissime Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover, which gets absolutely everything off without any tugging or rubbing. It’s as good as Lancôme Bi-Facil and half the price.

I follow all of that up with some micellar water; these days I’m using La Roche-Posay Ultra Micellar Water*. This one and Bioderma Sensibio are tied for my favourite. I know most people use micellar water as a first step to remove makeup, but I prefer to use it at the very end. When using an oil-based eye makeup remover it’s essential to remove the residue to avoid milia, and a micellar solution helps balance the pH of the skin prior to acid steps.

Which, of course, brings me to the second-best part of my skincare routine. I use a chemical exfoliant every day; I know that’s too much for a lot of people, but my skin tolerates it well. Generally, I get on best with AHAs. Right now I’m using the Vichy Idealia Peeling*, which is glycolic acid. It’s great, but now that we have The Ordinary there’s no reason to spend $40 on an AHA. I’ve gone through an entire bottle of The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2%, which my skin really liked. I’ve also tried The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution, which is cheap as chips and just as effective as the expensive stuff. Occasionally I use The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2% (now discontinued) instead of an acid. I always leave my acids on my face for 20-30 minutes before moving on to other steps, because acids require a specific pH to work properly and layering other products negates the effects.

For my eyes, I’ve been layering The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + ECGC and Bioderma Sensibio Eye*. As I’ve mentioned, I’m not convinced that the Caffeine Solution actually does anything for dark circles, but I’ll use it up since it’s not like it hurts. The Bioderma eye cream is a very thin gel-cream hybrid that adds a little moisture and not much else. It’s nothing special, really.

To give my skin the moisture it needs, I use The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 as a serum step. This is my fourth bottle; it’s so inexpensive and it really does make a huge difference in my skin. My night cream these days is Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask, which is an incredibly rich cream that I swear by in the winter. This is my second winter using it and I haven’t had any nose flakes since before I discovered it. About once a week, if my skin is especially dry, I use The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane. Of all the oils I’ve tried I like squalane the best – it delivers moisture but isn’t too greasy. It’s also nice on my arms and legs and on the fried, burnt ends of my hair. (Just kidding, I haven’t bleached my hair in 11 months and it’s so much healthier!)

My final step is always Nuxe Rêve de Miel Lip Balm, which truly is the most nourishing, effective lip treatment I’ve found. It does have a pretty thick, waxy texture, so it’s a nighttime-exclusive kind of product for me.

And… that is it! I would guess that this is a pretty extensive routine compared to the average, but it doesn’t take me all that long and it addresses all my skin concerns. I hate being away from all my skincare products – that’s the worst part about travelling for me. Anyway – there’s a (far too detailed) breakdown of what I’m currently using.

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.