Monday, 3 December 2018

Mascara Showdown

I never review mascara on here or Instagram for a handful of reasons:
  • I have pretty good lashes - long, curly, plenty of volume. 
  • Because of my aforementioned lashes which adhere to beauty standards, I really don't ask for much in a mascara: some definition and no clumps
  • Mascara is one of those things I think differs more from person to person
  • I tend to buy one mascara at a time, use it for three months and then either repurchase or move on to a new one
  • Mascara is kind of boring to me because of all these reasons
But! I picked up Sephora Lashstash to Go in the spring, which gave me five mini mascaras to try out (and a voucher for a full size of one of them), plus I tried Glossier Lash Slick and fell completely in love (a new feeling when it comes to mascara), plus I bought a Wet n Wild mascara to tide me over till I reordered Lash Slick and tested out all of my minis. I have a lot of mascara right now, and it turns out, a lot of opinions on mascara after all. Also I want to purge some of these tubes, redeem my voucher, and then recommit to Lash Slick for the forseeable future. Ahem. 

Test driving a lot of mascaras lately has brought my preferences into the forefront. I'e been wearing mascara regularly for 14 years, and only now really was able to determine what kind of formula I like, because I tend to just try everything. I like rubber bristle brushes better than wire. I don't like waterproof formulations. I like drier formulas. It better not flake ever (this one I did already know). It should dry in a reasonable amount of time. No smudging off. I don't care what it looks like on my bottom lashes since I only put mascara on the top. 

My bare lashes:

Wet n Wild Mega Length Mascara (Waterproof)

I picked up this one as a stopgap till I reordered Glossier Lash Slick because Auxiliary Beauty recommended it as relatively similar and it's cheap. I definitely would buy this one again, in a pinch, because I do like it overall, though it's not quite Lash Slick level. It's got a small, rubber bristle brush, which is great for that definition I like. It was only available in one colour at my Walmart: Very Black, so that made decision making easy. I did accidentally grab the waterproof formulation of this, so my thoughts come from that. I don't normally wear waterproof mascaras.

What I don't like: this mascara takes a weirdly long time to dry, like actual minutes. If I blink too hard while it's drying, I get a nice smudge on my lower lashes and lid. I also don't like waterproof mascara that much - I don't have issues with mascara coming off easily, and so waterproof is just harder to remove. Meh. But for $5, it's pretty great. It's cheaper than most drugstore mascaras in Canada these days, and that is nothing to sneeze at.

Too Faced Better than Sex Waterproof Mascara

This was the first one I tried from my Sephora Lashstash to Go. I know this is a polarizing formula, and once again, I don't like waterproof mascara. I do love the packaging on this, though - the raised water droplets are gorgeous.

I found the formula difficult and too wet to really work with when I first opened it, though it dries out and improves over time. But it was too wet for the first month, and when I only keep mascara for 3 months, that's not a great thing. I also don't love the brush. It's at least not enormous, but I had to be very careful with it while putting it on to avoid clumps or depositing too much on my lashes. You can see I wasn't entirely successful. I have a metal lash comb. I don't want to use said metal lash comb every day, so if a mascara requires one, I'm out. 

This mascara is also impossible to remove with my conventional method (Bioderma Hydrabio on a cotton pad, held over my lashes for a few seconds). If I need to dip into my sample stash to find a remover, I'm out. Not a fan. Would not buy, even though the tube is cute as hell.

It Cosmetics Superhero Elastic Stretch Volumizing Mascara

Why do so many mascaras have these giant brushes? Eyes aren't that big. And how am I supposed to get the brush into the corners of my eyes to get errant lashes? Giant brush aside, I like the Superhero mascara more than Better Than Sex. It's a drier formula and therefore, easier to work with from where I stand. It doesn't flake or smudge, it dries very quickly, and removes easily with my micellar water.

What I don't like: the giant brush + the wire bristles. I find the bristles to be very far apart on this one, which leads to clumpiness if I don't wiggle the brush in a zigzag motion when applying the mascara. As it's dried out, it's gotten a little clumpier. I don't really need volume on my lashes, so I find a lot of volumizing mascaras look a little spidery on me. Not really what I'm looking for. And yes, I'm being very critical here. 

Urban Decay Troublemaker Mascara

This mini is hilariously tiny (and sadly not the magical rainbow chrome of the full sized tube), but it was my favourite of the Lashstash To Go set, and the one I'll be redeeming my voucher for. The brush is relatively small (read: more proportional to the size of an actual eye), and it's got rubber bristles. The bristles are spaced kind of far apart, but I get a nice, well-defined, non-clumpy, non-spidery lash out of Troublemaker. The formula is middle of the road between wet and dry, and it doesn't really seem to change over time. It's a solid choice.

Lancôme Monsieur Big Volumizing Mascara

This one is one I've seen stealth-hyped (is that a thing? It is now) in the various beauty communities I frequent. And it's...okay. It wasn't special, and I found the way the wire bristles on this brush + the wetter formula of the mascara came together and made a slightly clumpy mascara, without some finesse. The brush WAS a normal size, thankfully. I just wasn't very excited about it - it didn't flake or smudge or anything like that, and if I brushed it on with a wiggling motion through my lashes, it looks fine but it was very meh, and I shouldn't feel meh about expensive mascaras. They should be magical! Or at least nice. 

Bobbi Brown Eye Opening Mascara

I hate this one. The brush is unnecessarily large, and because of the way that the sample tube is, you can clearly see how much mascara gets between the bristles. And that much mascara on the brush is a potential for disaster. I find it very difficult to get into the corner of my eye to get the smaller lashes, and it's generally very unwieldy. It's not difficult to remove, but that's about the only good thing. The messiness of the brush, lack of effective stopper, and very middle of the road formula makes this a pass for me.

Glossier Lash Slick

Oh Lash Slick. You are my one true mascara love. I regretted trying others as soon as I finished my first tube, and have missed you ever since. So I ordered this new tube and am back to pure mascara happiness. This is the kind of mascara I want: darkens, separates, and basically makes my lashes look fluffy and natural. This doesn't flake or smudge on me, as usual, and the stopper on this tube is magic. It wipes the brush so well that there's no way you could end up with anything but a thin, even coat of product on your lashes.

The only thing I don't really like about Lash Slick is that fact that it's $20. I firmly believe mascara shouldn't be more than $10. But I really, really, really like this one, and it's been a very long time since I've felt such strong positive feelings about a mascara. So I'm probably going to be able to move past this mental block.

As delightful as this journey through mascara has been, I intend to be less exploratory in 2019. Lash Slick and Troublemaker will make up my year, and that's okay, because I still stand by my original statement: I find mascara boring.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

The Throne Speech, or 2019 Plans + Blogging Reflections

In Canada, we have what is called the throne speech. The closest American thing that is comparable (and I choose the US only because I know I have American readers) would be the address a new president gives in lieu of the State of the Union address. The throne speech is written by the governing party and delivered by the governor general (federal) or lieutenant governor (provincial). It outlines the government's plans and goals for this session. In New Brunswick, we just had our second throne speech this fall after our incredibly unclear provincial election, since one party was toppled in a confidence vote and the other party with a large number of seats is now taking their crack at it...oh? You don't come here for discussions of New Brunswick politics? 

In effect, I'm using this post as my throne speech for the next session, which in this metaphor, is 2019. There won't be a confidence vote because this is a blog and not the government, but the general idea is the same: I'm outlining my goals and plans for 2019, while also taking a moment to reflect, because who doesn't love some low risk navel-gazing?

My blogging was somewhat erratic this year, and I guess I'm not terribly surprised I couldn't hold myself to roughly one post a week. I usually write on weekends and I travelled almost every single weekend for five months this year. I've been away a lot for professional purposes. This is a hobby, and I want it to remain one. So it taking a backseat is fine, and I still want to blog semi-regularly. I've also been cutting back on my social media use and general internet time, which means less time for blogging purposes - again, I'm okay with this. 

I'm still moving more toward mindful consumption, and the latter part of this year has been reflecting a lot about how that should look in 2019. I'm frequently guilty of saying something on here to keep myself accountable, and then not following through. However, I also think I'm getting better at this too: I managed to keep my Reverse Rouge posting and tracking this whole year, and while I won't be repeating that in 2019 because it's honestly pretty boring to keep trash and then write about the same stuff every couple of months, I do have ideas for a few series through 2019 that I'm pretty sure I can stick to, this time around.

I'm also in a place where I feel like my current beauty rotation reflects where I am in life (finally). Am I always going to be changing and looking at new things? Yeah, probably. But I also know how long it takes to use up one colour cosmetic. 

So 2019 plans:
  • No buy: I've been dithering on this, because I am the queen of announcing I'm going to do something and then just not doing it (I am also the queen of biting off more than I can chew and forever keeping items on my to-do list and bumping them down for more interesting thing) and I don't want this to be yet another thing I say and then never happens. However, I think the stars are aligned for this one: I'm feeling some general internet fatigue these last couple of months, and because of that, have begun to limit my beautysphere trawls and therefore am not as interested in what's new; I'm going on a trip to New Zealand in April and would rather have spending money there than more lipstick; and I'm in a really good place with variety and the kinds of products that make sense for my current life. I've also been reflecting on doing this since August, and Renee's recent post spurred me to commit. So we're going to try no buy 2019, with some exceptions:
    • Repurchases: these are allowed for staple items, which will be largely skincare. Acceptable. They must be direct replacements, unless the product in question has been discontinued or has suddenly reacted with my skin.
    • Gift cards: I can buy new things with gift cards given to me.
    • Points: I'm allowed to use the points I rack up at Shoppers and Superstore for beauty purchases - they have to cover the cost (not including tax, but that's a restriction of the points), but I can purchase new things with them.
  • Collection inventory: I'm going to post a collection inventory through 2019, and actually finish it this time. 
  • More varied posts: Reviews are cool but I too am jumping on the bandwagon of wanting more creative content in the beauty world and wanting to create more of it. I intend to continue moving toward that sort of thing in 2019. I have a good list of ideas lying in wait!
  • Structured wishlist: I'm still going to want things, because I live in this world and am not impervious to marketing. However, I think being more deliberate about my wishlist, keeping a wishlist organized in one place (I'm thinking OneNote with links, since I can access that on my phone and computer and it doesn't need internet connection all the time), and keeping track will allow me to be both realistic about what I actually want and what is a fleeting fancy, as well as use my points judiciously when I do so.
  • No new skincare: clearly, my skin doesn't like when I alter routine just because. I don't need to experiment with skincare at the moment. When I try something new or leave a step out or accidentally forget a birth control pill for the first time ever (took it promptly upon realizing and was still in the window of safety efficacy-wise, in case you're worried), my skin responds with a vengeance. But when everything is as it should be, all is well. I have a few things that I haven't tried yet but am not shelling out for any more in 2019. Let's not rock the boat, because I've regretted it almost every single time I've done it this year. 
My final planned purchase of the year was an order from Glossier for Black Friday, to both replenish some staples and pick up the remaining few things I wanted to try from their current range. While my no buy officially begins January 1st, I've committed as of last week. Here goes nothing! I'll be keeping myself accountable, success or failure, so I'll see you in February, when I'll post my first check-in.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Aquatic Life: Solstice Scents During the Rain and Gulf Breeze

Two blog posts in two days! What is this world coming to?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I don't frequently wear perfume anymore because I can't wear it to work, and have long since rebranded my blog to reflect this drift from its original form as an indie perfume blog, but sometimes I step back into the indie perfume world when something catches my eye. Solstice Scents had its late summer release in August, and then added a couple of more perfumes in a restock, a layering note called During the Rain, and the ocean aquatic Gulf Breeze. Since I'm pretty sure I'm some sort of water nymph, I ordered them. 

During the Rain is the perfume that caught my eye first. It's described as "petrichor, soaked Earth, limestone, loam, clay and wet concrete," and is similar to rain accord in two of my favourite Solstice Scents offerings from recent years, Cliffside Bonfire and After the Rain.

I love rain - you know, provided I don't have to go out in it for long periods of time and it's not in October or November where it could easily turn into snow. See: October 24, 2018, where it was supposed to rain all day but snowed all day instead. During the Rain is not warm summer rain, but isn't brutal November rain either. It starts off as wet sidewalks and damp earth, with a lot of petrichor. As it sinks into my skin and wears, it becomes more rain - cool and refreshing, and not gale-force rain, just steady, gentle rain. It gets lighter and lighter as it wears, till it's a touch of rain and grass. Since it's a layering note, I don't find it to have the usual tenacity of Solstice Scents perfumes on me, but honestly...wear time isn't something I much care about anymore, since perfume is an evening/weekend thing for me. I think I get about four hours out of this before the scent is completely gone. The sharpness of the petrichor is my favourite thing about this scent, so I have reapplied to get that back once it starts to fade. I have yet to really layer it with anything, but I think it would really go well with a lot of my more atmospheric scents.

I decided to go for it once I saw a review of Gulf Breeze that described it as a true ocean scent. I'm always here for that, if you recall my preferences from my perfume-heavy days. It's described as  "saltwater, sand, seashells, sea oats, rain, ambergris." (Note the ambergris is a vegan accord.)

It starts off smelling a little fishy, but that quickly dissipates in favour of ocean and crisp air. It smells a little like the shore in the summer, warm and salty, with a little bit of sand. It's largely saltwater on me, and it fades to crisp ocean air. Ocean air makes me hungry, so that's kind of an unfortunate side effect of wearing this perfume, because I end up eating more snacks, but does speak to how true to life this scent it. This one lasts about five hours on me, but again, not particularly concerned about that these days, and I always carry my perfume if I happen to go out wearing it anyway, so there you go. Highly recommend Gulf Breeze if you enjoy ocean scents, and prefer ones that smell like a walk on the shore. 

I'm pretty satisfied with these two - I think Solstice Scents has been doing some really cool things with their newer scents, and they've had a number of hits for me with the newer ones. While I should probably stop looking at perfume, I still enjoy wearing it when I can. I've mostly stopped looking at new releases, so those that actually grab my attention once or twice a year are probably worthy. 

Saturday, 3 November 2018

2018 Reverse Rouge Challenge: September and October

The penultimate installment of my empties series for this year. Next year, I'll probably only write posts titled "Empties Worth Talking About Because I'm Actually a Very Boring and Routine Person." Though while I do have lots of boring stuff this time around, I do get to write about some very exciting empties too!


  • L'Oreal Paris Elnett Satin Hairspray in Unscented (400ml): $10.99
    • I like this hairspray because it's unscented and I need that for work. Regular price is still a joke, so I buy it on sale. I had a bottle of this in my last post too, so you know it's a favourite. 
  • OGX Coconut Water Shampoo: $8.47
    • I finished off this bottle after my disastrous Function of Beauty dalliance. I've decided to move onto some other drugstore shampoos, but I would return to this in the future. It's been an excellent shampoo for the last year.
  • Drybar Triple Sec 3-in-1 (mini, 10g): $2.80
    • I'm not a dry shampoo fan, but I always have some on hand. I don't use it that often. I think I got Triple Sec as a point perk from Sephora. It was fine, I guess. Very strongly scented. I won't buy the full size because I have plenty of other dry shampoos I've picked up (Cake and Batiste) and it wasn't $33 good.
  • Nivea Care (2 samples, 8ml each): $0.52
    • My only knowledge of Nivea Care before somehow acquiring two samples in two days is that the ice dance queen, Tessa Virtue, is the face. One of the most decorated ice dancers ever tells me to wear a lotion, I'll at least try it (okay, I love Virtue and Moir, can you tell?). This was really nice, definitely non-greasy like it claims, and I will probably buy a tub in the future, once I work through some other lotions I have currently. My skin was smooth and soft and supple, and it did quick work on some dry patches.
  •  Bioderma Hydrabio H2O Moisturizing Make-up Removing Micelle Solution (500ml): $14.95
    • My one true micellar water love, as always.
  • The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA (30ml and 100ml): $13.50
    • Finishing up some older tubes here. After the Deciem drama of the last month, I'm now more comfortable purchasing from them again, even though I had kind of accepted that they were still the best price point and most accessible for a lot of things in my routine.
  • Formula 10.0.6 Best Face Forward Daily Foaming Cleanser: $8.97
    • Still my favourite night cleanser. Nothing new to add here. Don't get it in your eyes. That stings.
  • The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion (2 bottles): $19.60
    • Yeah, I go through a lot of this. I could probably be less heavy-handed. Oh well.
  • Formula 10.0.6 Keep Your Cool Skin-Calming Gel Mask: $9.97
    • This gel mask is okay by itself, but really shines as one of the components of my favourite mask, a DIY honey mask. I mix this with something snail and honey, and it's wonderful. I haven't repurchased this yet but I will.
  • Mizon Snail Recovery Gel Cream: $16
    • The price on this went down since the last time I bought it, yay! (I buy two packs.) My absolute favourite snail product. It works so well for me.
  • Biore UV Bright Milk: $11.23
    • The best face sunscreen, for me. I've opened my remaining bottle in my sunscreen stash, and will make an order to restock in the new year.
  • Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser (2 samples, 3ml each): $0.75
    • I like Milk Jelly as a morning cleanser, not enough to buy regularly, but enough to pick it as my sample whenever I order from Glossier. I then bring the samples with me on short weekend trips. Works out great.
  • Mediheal EGT Timetox Ampoule Mask: $3.49
    • I've purchased this before, and this is the second time. I bought it for three reasons: it has a bear on the package and the sheet, I saw it at Miniso when I went for the first time and recognized it, and I remember it being a perfectly serviceable sheet mask. It was a nice treat after my garbage October of travelling and stress and no sleep.

  • Tom Ford Lip Colour in Indian Rose (mini, 1g): $23.33
    • This mini lipstick is so absurdly valued because Tom Ford is so overpriced. This was a really nice lipstick - creamy, flattering colour, comfortable, but I would never actually buy it because they're so overpriced and go rancid quickly. I finished this in about 10 months, which I never really intended to do, but was really excited when I did! 
Managed to scrape some out for one last swatch.

Total these two months: $144.57

Total year to date: $1155.16

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Choosing Instagram Tags, or How I Cope Without a Controlled Vocabulary

One of the biggest sources of stress for me on social media, as a librarian, is tagging. My blood pressure is rising right now just thinking about it. I fret over it every time I make a post on Instagram - I sit there with my phone and start to write down likely tags and attempt to shut off the part of my brain that picks apart concepts and comes up with every possible way it could be described. For example, if I'm doing a literature search at work, and the group the person wants to look at is family members of patients, my logic grid (basically brainstorm list) for that concept might look like this:
  • famil* (the asterisk is to remind myself to use truncation, so it looks for family or families without me having to write it)
  • relative*
  • relation*
  • parent*
  • brother*
  • sister*
  • cousin*
  • extended famil*
  • aunt*
  • uncle*
  • grandmother*
  • grandfather*
  • grandparent*
  • sibling*
  • father*
  • mother*
See? It took me less than thirty seconds to come up with that. And this would be in an environment where there's a finite amount of ways people would write about something: peer-reviewed literature. There's both a controlled vocabulary - subject headings, or the way the database categorizes each article - and keywords to search in. There's also far more sophisticated search functions than Instagram. How anyone searches things like Instagram or Twitter is beyond me and actually really scares me about what I might be missing on social media, because it's so hard to search those places. Hashtags are plentiful, can have multiple concepts to them, and they can be created by anyone, anywhere. And often they're inexplicable.

(My blood pressure is spiking right now thinking about this, and yes, social media is stressful for me.)

While I've been very open in the past and continue to be committed to being a purely hobby blogger, I recognize that part of me posting about beauty means that I want it to help people who stumble across my ramblings and my frequently-poorly-lit-because-I-never-remember-to-change-the-battery-in-my-ring-light photos. Part of the things I post actually being of help to others is that it's easily found by the casual searcher. And here's where I get stuck.

I don't think there's value in tagging a post with the maximum amount of tags, especially when a lot of them don't mean anything. #thatsdarling, for example. What the hell am I supposed to be looking at when I see this? I've been experimenting with tags - I don't see a huge uptick in my engagement with this change, just the normal small growth of someone who isn't super focused on hitting the right tags for popularity. I look at tags in a few categories:
  • General subject: #makeup, #skincare, #perfume, #hair, etc. Usually narrowing the focus of my picture down
  • Author: #bblogger, #bbloggers, #thegirlgang (kind of out there but does allow the author to associate with a group)
  • Location: #canada, #miramichi, #explorenb, etc. Telling you where I am. I usually only use these when posting about non-beauty things
  • Brand: #glossier, #nars, #lauramercier, #solsticescents, etc. 
  • Identifier: This can include the brand as well as the shade. #chaneldragon, #narsaudrey, #shiroalkahestry, etc.
There are other kinds of tags, of course, but these are the ones I find most useful when it comes to actually finding something. My problem becomes when I have 20 hashtags to cover all or most of these. And of course, the real problem is that most pictures aren't tagged by people who cognizant of the importance of good tags, like librarians. They're tagged by normal people who don't think about these things or feel the need to perform systematic searches in order to make sure they haven't missed something important. But here's the thing: I shouldn't have to search fifty different hashtags to get what I'm looking for. And yet. This is where I think tagging is difficult to parse, when coupled with the limited search functions that social media offers is. It does a disservice - if you can't discover the things you're actually looking for, then you're going to be frustrated and not want to spend as much time engaging with the platform, and then everyone misses out on the precious ad dollars your engagement produces.

Am I overthinking this? Maybe. Am I right to be concerned about the searchability of social media? I think so. If I'm absently searching for swatches, I go to Google (this probably is going to date me in the not-terribly distant future). Very occasionally I will search by hashtag on Instagram, and then I run into the problems outlined above. What are people using? Am I catching the right ones? Why is this search function so garbage? Why is this stressing me out and ruining my hobby? I don't have a solution, largely because I don't work for any social media company. But if they want to chat, I'm not opposed.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

2018 Reads: July to September

I did make the grand statement that I wanted to read 52 books this year - but at the six month mark, I was only at 18 books. I don't think it's the end of the world if I don't meet my goal...but I want to meet my goal. Fortunately, after struggling with it for what seems like ages but is actually only 3.5 years, on and off, I feel like I'm finally getting somewhere with reading. It also probably helps that this is the quarter during which I finally got new glasses, so I can finally read just before I go to sleep again. I'm not sure I'm making much progress on my to-read piles, both physical and digital, because I keep adding to them, but hey! I'm regularly reading things that aren't work-related and that is a triumph.

The Fiery Cross, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, An Echo in the Bone, and Written in My Heart's Own Blood - Diana Gabaldon

Finished all the currently published main series Outlander books, so I've started the TV show. Book Claire of the later books is far less irritating, and I'm glad we finally started to get around to more of the mythos of time-travelling, because I've always felt that it wasn't a huge part of the series that really needed to be explored - you know, more than the kinds of plants that grew in North Carolina in the 18th century. Gabaldon can write beautiful descriptions, and I'm going to see this through, but less woods and hardships of life in the 18th century and how to run a still and more about time-travelling.

Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech - Sara Wachter-Boettcher

More AI fun! I probably didn't need to read all of these books on AI, but honestly, a lot of my work is governed by search algorithms and how they're biased absolutely matters to me. Peeling back how these systems work is so important, and the more that we're aware of them, the better. 

Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism - Safiya Umoja-Noble

This tackles AI and algorithms from the lens of how they propagate racism, addressing the lack of diversity in tech companies, and how it directly affects and reaffirms how society treats minority groups. This is something we need to be more cognizant of, and again, examine our Internet trawls more critically. 

The Firebrand - Marion Zimmer Bradley

My thing this quarter has been retellings of Greek myths. And it started with this one. The Firebrand takes the Iliad, and flips it, telling the story from the viewpoint of Kassandra. This was riveting - it's framed as an elderly Kassandra telling the truth of what happened, after she listens to a minstrel sing about the fall of Troy. It follows Kassandra through her childhood, from an unloved child to finding a home with Amazons to becoming a priestess. It's chilling and sad, but also hopeful and beautifully written. Unfortunately, Bradley was a garbage person, which is always disappointing when it comes to art you've enjoyed. 

Winter Tide - Ruthanna Emerys

If you like H.P. Lovecraft for the mythos but want less horror and racism in your stories, you need to read this. It's the first of a series, taking place twenty years after the raid of Innsmouth in 1928. The narrator, Aphra Marsh, and her brother Caleb are Deep Ones who were placed in internment camps, (alongside the Japanese) and this meets them as adults, still far from home, and puts them in a position to help the FBI figure out what dangerous information from Miskatonic University may have fallen into the hands of Communist spies. It ties so much of that period in history with the Deep Ones and weaves it into a completely believable story - one that flips Lovecraft and makes the Deep Ones more fleshed out and sympathetic. You don't need to have read Lovecraft before, however, since Emerys explains enough of what you need to know. Anyway. It's great. It started off a little slow, but picked up in the second half of the book.

The Golden Passport: Harvard Business School, the Limits of Capitalism, and the Moral Failure of the MBA Elite - Duff MacDonald

So this was an exercise in validation. I'm sure there are lots of lovely people who get MBAs, who want to make the world a better place - but I've always been slightly suspicious of business school in general. Plus everything I've read in the Harvard Business Review has been maddening and/or poorly researched. This was not a flattering portrait of, arguably, one of the top business schools in the world. It goes through the founding, the early struggles of HBS, the development of the case study method of instruction, the influence of HBS, and examines whether or not the MBA-educated have been successful. It didn't exactly improve my opinion, though it is only a slice of the current picture. If you're interested in a critical look at the evolution of the MBA from where it began, I recommend it.

Esther - Sharon E. McKay

I actually have read this book before, probably shortly after it was published in 2004 and I bought it in a Coles either in Saint John or Sydney (there are no other options for that period in my life). However, I left it at my parents's house and forgot it was still in that bundle of books, which I allowed my parents to give away (presumably, my dad was running out of room on all the other bookshelves in the house and saw an opportunity). And then when I came across a mention of Esther Brandeau somewhere online, I remembered this book and promptly took myself to Amazon to order a new copy. Esther Brandeau was the first known Jew to arrive in New France in 1738. Her story on the official record is very brief, but what is there is fascinating: she disguised herself as a boy named Jacques La Fargue, a sailor. She stayed in New France for about a year, resisting attempts to convert her to Catholicism, and was ultimately sent back to France, as there were no Jews permitted in the Catholic colony of New France. This is one of the imaginings of what led Esther to New France, and I think my favourite one. It's tumultuous and takes the brief details that were given in the official record to create a compelling story about a woman who wanted freedom.

The Tale Teller - Susan Glickman

This is the other novel about Esther Brandeau, and I think McKay's novel is far superior. This one focuses more on her time in New France, rather than the lead-up and her story. Glickman imagines Esther as a storyteller, weaving elaborate tales to disguise who she really is. She also takes a few more liberties with the few details we do know about Esther. Ultimately, I didn't find this one to be as compelling and none of the characters were as interesting as they were portrayed by McKay.

The Home for Unwanted Girls - Joanna Goodman

A lot of CanLit really just reminds you that you're fortunate to not have grown up in the deeply religious parts of Canada before society shifted. Goodman tells the story of Maggie, the daughter of an anglophone father and a francophone mother, coming of age in the very Catholic 1950s Quebec. She falls in love, gets pregnant, and her parents force her to give up her daughter, who she names Elodie. Elodie is sent to an orphanage run by nuns, where she grows up relatively happily, until, as the result of a new law, orphanages are converted to mental hospitals in order to get more funding, and Elodie's life spirals into a darker place. Meanwhile, Maggie pulls her life back together, though not without consequences, and a desire to find out what happened to her daughter. It's dark, brutal, critical, and somehow still hopeful, even though it is a tragic story. I thought the ending was a little too neat, but overall, it was good.

Circe - Madeline Miller

The second of my Greek myth retellings this quarter - I had actually already decided to get my hands on a copy of this when Renee posted her glowing recommendation of it, but that made me even more excited to start reading it. I was not disappointed. This is a truly wonderful story. It paints CIrce as far more real, far more complicated, and examines her motivations for her actions. It is masterful, honestly. It follows CIrce as a child through her life, and balances the magic and brilliance of the immortal, legends, and gods, with very real things like single motherhood, betrayal, disappointment, protection, and the ties of family. This is among the best books I've read this year.

The Weight of Ink - Rachel Kadish

I wanted to like this story more than I did, because it sounded really cool, but parts of it dragged and no one was likeable or really compelling. It was still good, I just think it could have been...more. This is split between London in the early 2000s and London of the 17th century: Helen, a historian specializing in Jewish history at the end of her career, is asked to go to a house in the city after the owners find a stash of papers hidden in the walls. The stash, or genizah, turns out to be the writings of a rabbi in the 17th century who knew wrote to many influential people in the European Jewish community. Aaron, a pretty obnoxious grad student, is enlisted to help Helen unravel the mystery of the genizah. They determine that the rabbi, who was blind, employed the help of a female scribe - a shocking thing for the time. Said scribe is Esther Velasquez, a young Jewish woman and radical philosopher, who defies a lot of norms of the 17th century. Esther's story is told alongside the story of Helen and Aaron going through the documents. There's also some really annoying stereotypical portrayals of librarians and archivists in this novel, which of course pissed me off and probably contributed to me not enjoying it as much as I could have.

House of Names - Colm Tóibín

And the third of my unintentional Greek myth retelling theme. This follows Clytemnestra, Electra, and Orestes at the end of the Trojan War, and the fallout of the sacrifice of Iphigenia, Agamemnon's return home, and subsequent murder by Clytemnestra. The bulk of the story is focused on Orestes, and creating a story for what he was doing in between the murder of Agamemnon and his return many years later, to kill his mother, though it also addresses Electra's years of lying in wait for revenge, and the original catalyst of this, Clytemnestra's grief over the death of her daughter Iphigenia and revenge on Agamemnon. Tóibín doesn't waste words, but he also leaves out things that probably would have enriched the story, like more details about how the society worked. It falls a little short without some of that context. Interestingly, the gods are left out of this one, other than various characters to dismiss them and their involvement or care for humans. This is kind of a dark, murky story, without the details I think it needed to really shine.

Total this quarter: 15
Total this year: 33

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Current Wishlist

With the winds of autumn comes the part of the year where people ask me for gift ideas and then give me Sephora gift cards. My birthday is in early November, and then a scant seven weeks later, Christmas shows up. My birthday also falls very close to the fall Sephora sale (if there is one this year - the surprise August sale may have borked my usual timeline; regardless, I'll probably get a Sephora gift card around my birthday). So this is also the time of year where I tend to lie in wait for these occasions, and carefully build a wishlist of things I might spend gift cards on.

A burnt orange lipstick

I have a few that are close to this, but what I'm really feeling for fall is a burnt orange lipstick. All of the current possibilities in my collection are too red - Bite Braised Maple is more red, and Besame Chocolate Kiss leans too brown, as well as lacking the brighter warmth of orange tones. I've never really been big on orange, but I've never actively avoided it either. And for some reason, I latched onto the idea of a burnt orange lipstick when I was thinking about what I might be wearing this fall.

There are a few possibilities I have in mind, like Marc Jacobs Rei of Light (which I think might be too red) or Buxom Covert Affair (may pull too brown). What I'm going to have to do is go on a good swatching session in Sephora sometime before November, and fortunately my work travels in October will bring me close to all four of the Maritime Sephoras.

Update: Since I wrote this, I went and swatched a bunch of burnt oranges at Sephora. It's going to be Buxom Covert Affair.

Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer in Diamond Milk

I love the original Gloss Bomb in Fenty Glow - so much so that I convinced one of my neighbours in the next department at work to buy it. It's a great gloss and a great formula. So when I saw that Fenty had released another shade in this formula, I was immediately intrigued. However, I'm a little divided on this one. Diamond Milk is, well, milky. And I've not loved milky glosses in the past - they wash me out in a non-cool dead way. But I would absolutely love another shade in the Gloss Bomb formula. Just maybe not this shade. I'll have to swatch this one too, preferably a tester that hasn't been ravaged yet.

Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask

After the wild year of skincare I've had, with the changes in my skin and already having a solid routine that works, should I really be looking at more skincare to try out? Especially when a lot of things I've tried this year ended up breaking me out. No, no I should not. And yet, when I saw that Glow Recipe had finally come to Sephora Canada, I popped this onto my wishlist. It's been raved about for so long and by so many people and the fact that I hate watermelon on most levels is apparently irrelevant. I may be easily swayed out of this one, especially since I don't need a sleeping pack or want one in my routine, but it's intriguing. And there is a mini, which makes more sense for something I want to try. But we'll see.

Tom Ford Cream and Powder Eye Colour in Golden Peach


I know, I know. An $80 powder and cream shadow duo. $80. Are you kidding me? There is no eyeshadow duo worth $80 in the entire world. However, I've heard nothing but raves for the cream eye colours, and solid reviews for the powder shadows. The peachy bronze powder shadow and rose gold cream shadow are things that I would wear, a lot, now that I've dipped my toes back into eyeshadow. This is definitely not something I would spend my own money on, but a gift card, were I to get would be a consideration.

Glossier Lash Slick


Since I already know I like this, this isn't a wishlist item so much as a repurchase. But I'm sticking it here because I really have no business buying mascara right now: I finally got my hands on this year's Sephora Favourites Lashstash, and am working my way through the five mini mascaras in there, so I can pick out my free one for the voucher that comes for a full size. Plus I picked up a few more minis in gifts with purchase and codes. I have a ton of mascara right now...but my heart calls to Lash Slick. I've been wearing mascara most days since 2004, guys. I've worn a lot of it. I've tried a lot of it. Lash Slick is the first mascara that I've genuinely loved. Admittedly, a lot of mascaras are decent enough for me, and there have been very few I've said were garbage and tossed. But there haven't been a ton of ones that stuck for more than one repurchase. I think Lash Slick may be the one. So I fully anticipate breaking down very soon and re-ordering it because none of the ones I've been cycling through get even close to my love for Lash Slick.

A new travel makeup bag

I said I was moderately okay with my current travel makeup bag setup in my last post, though I was interested in a new bag for my morning stuff. This was a little bit of a lie. I like to pack things in two different bags, one for things I use at night and one for morning stuff, but that's also a convention I practice because I've never really been satisfied with one makeup bag. So what I really want isn't a new morning bag, it's a new makeup bag, period. I always feel like I'm looking for the perfect travel toiletry bags. Always. I find one, I buy it, I use it for a while, and then its flaws become apparent or it falls apart or my needs change slightly and suddenly it doesn't fit all the things I need (side note: weirdly, my makeup never takes up the most room. It's always the contacts and glasses stuff. Ugh). The perfect makeup bag needs to be large enough to hold all of my stuff, but also not too bulky. Which is something of a paradox, but it's what I want. I want it to have sufficient pockets to hold smaller items (eye drops, makeup) and a separate zipped pocket for brushes. I want to not have to play too much product tetris to get it shut.

What I really need to do is to go examine a bunch of travel bags in person, check sizes and pockets and think about what I really need to bring with me and what's just nice to have, for most travel. But if you have any recommendations, seriously, let me know.

And that's it. Some of these things are probably going to appear here or on Instagram this fall/winter. We'll see what sticks (and how many gift cards I get).

Sunday, 16 September 2018

The Travel Makeup Bag

The biggest reason the blog has been so quiet this summer, aside from the fact that it was 1.2 billion degrees out for most of July and August, is because I was never home. Just about every Friday for the last three months have involved me coming home from work, quickly packing, and hitting the road to whatever family thing/party/camping was planned. On the Fridays I wasn't going anywhere, it's because I was either already there or leaving on Saturday. While I've been very happy to have to much to do over the summer, I've been dragging the last couple of weeks because I just wanted to spend time at home, enjoying my town in the summer (when it's the nicest it will be all year). But all this travelling has allowed me to do something I'd fallen out of really good practice in building: the travel makeup bag.

I'm a planner. I do not like surprises. I will run through every possible thing that might happen to me during a trip, no matter how long or short, and then make sure I'm prepared. Just in case. So while I make adjustments for what I know I'll be doing (like camping or just visiting family or going to a party), I also try to bring a couple of items that could fill in if something unexpected comes up. Like we're camping but we decide to go to a bar in the closest community - yeah, I'm going to want to throw on some mascara and a tinted balm. If I'm enjoying a family weekend but we end up having a last minute party, I'm going to want to have a brighter, long-lasting lipstick to look a little more dressed for the occasion. 

The easiest packing jobs for me is when I'm travelling for work, since the bright lipstick I prefer to wear in the library can do double duty if I end up doing something unplanned that requires more of a statement.

When I pack to go somewhere, I usually prefer to bring two bags: one for my night routine and one for my morning routine. The morning routine one being where my makeup goes, of course. I'm still not totally satisfied with my makeup bag situation for the morning, so if anyone has any suggestions for a medium sized bag with a few pockets/pouches, let me know. There are a few things that I have to shuffle back and forth between bags: contact case, glasses, and comb, but I find the two bag setup works well. I'm not going to go into detail about my skincare, since it's all mini or decanted versions of what I detailed in this post.


I've been living a foundation-free life for the last two months (which has really helped me return to a healthier relationship with my skin), which means fewer things in my makeup bag, which means more efficient packing. Because even though I have a car now and can pack as haphazardly as I like, as long as it all fits in there, I still like to use smaller bags and take up as little space as I can with my belongings. I credit the joy I get out of this to my five years in grocery retail.

My base these days consists of concealer if needed, a little bit of powder, and once everything else is on, a finishing powder. Surprisingly, the ones in my current rotation are all things that I've started using this year, after a fairly long period of having the same base products. 

I started using the Sephora Collection Make No Mistake Concealer in Fleur de Sel this spring, and I love it. It's highly pigmented, but blends well, and you don't need very much of it. I  bought it to replace my beloved by oxidized and kind of going off Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer in SX01. The Sephora one comes in a tube, which I think is more hygienic and easier to preserve the product. I'm really only interested in concealer for hiding pimples and residual redness, and this is great for that.

I also added MAC's Next to Nothing Powder in Light to my collection this spring, after reading posts from Lena of Faceonomics on Instagram praising it highly. Light is dangerously close to being too dark for me, so I think I'll be shelving it in the winter, but here in the summer, it's been great for providing my t-zone with a little extra help to stay satin but not greasy. 

I swear there are three swatches there. L-R: Guerlain Méteorites in in Clair, MAC Next to Nothing in Light, Sephora Make No Mistake in Fleur de Sel

My third base product, and the thing that melds it all together, are my Guerlain Méteorites in in Clair. I've been toting the whole tin around all summer, but recently sprung for the pressed compact for travelling, thanks to some PC Optimum points. I typically don't like to get travel versions of my makeup, since I don't really see a need, but in this case: the pressed compact will be in all ways better for when I'm not in my usual set up at home. After this summer, I felt it was worth it for me. 


This is very dependent on where I'm going and what I'm doing, but generally, I bring mascara, eyeliner, brow gel, and some sort of one-and-done eyeshadow if I think I might need something to step up my look. My usual travel and/or weekend eye look these days is a swipe of mascara and the brow gel to hold my unruly brows in place, but I always bring an extra something if I decide I want to step up my look a little more. 

I'm in the midst of trying out mascaras from the minis I have, but my true mascara love these days is Glossier Lash Slick. It's perfect: darkens my lashes, keeps them separate, makes the fluffier, and is basically my lashes but better. But because I have so many minis right now, I'm not repurchasing it till I get through the stockpile (but I'll probably crack in a few months). Currently using Lancôme Monsieur Big mascara. It's okay.

The next two items are long time staples: Glossier Boy Brow, the only thing I've put in my brows willingly since I got it in July of 2017, and the gimmicky-sounding Physician's Formula Eye Booster 2 in 1 Lash Boosting Eye Liner & Serum in Deep Brown. I hate the attempts to convince me this will make my lashes longer, but it's an amazing brush tip liquid liner. Since I don't do wings or like a heavy liner, I use Deep Brown for some easy definition that looks a little more natural.

L-R: Physician's Formula Deep Brown, Glossier Slip, Urban Decay Grind, Laura Mercier Rosegold, Laura Mercier Amethyst, Laura Mercier Vanilla Kiss, Laura Mercier Au Naturel, Tocuh in Sol Grace (liquid), Touch in Sol Grace (glitter), Touch in Sol Titania (liquid), Touch in Sol Titania (glitter)

In terms of colour cosmetics in the eye category, I usually bring a couple of things: some glitter and one or two one-and-done eyeshadows, or a couple of cream shadow sticks that can make a look together. I largely prefer cream or liquid shadows in general these days, and have mostly gotten rid of powder shadows, but I definitely won't bring powder shadows with me on a trip. The fewer brushes I have to bring with me, the better. 

The last few times I've gone anywhere, I've brought Glossier Lidstar in Slip (my very favourite Lidstar of all) and Urban Decay Heavy Metal Glitter Liner in Grind, since they pair well together and also stand alone nicely. For something a little more complex, I'd bring my mini Laura Mercier Caviar Sticks. For the next weekend away I have planned (for a concert), I'll be bringing my new Touch in Sol mini Metallist duos, since they have both glitter and a liquid shadow in them. 


I also prefer to bring creams or liquids when it comes to my blushes and highlighters, though I have two powder blushes that go with absolutely everything (Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Mood Exposure and Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush in Paaarty). I've been bringing Paaarty with me a lot this summer, since it's such a natural, warm glow on me. If I ever pan this mini, I'll be getting a full size because I love it that much. 

Hourglass Mood Exposure, Tarte Paaarty

L-R: Mood Exposure, Paaarty

The last few trips I've taken, however, I've been bringing multisticks for my blush/lip colour, to cut down on the number of products I pack. My current three multisticks are NARS The Multiple in Orgasm, for a more glowy look, and two of the Shiro Multisticks, which I've really been enjoying, in Wu (a cherry red with very fine gold, almost invisible, shimmer) and Lovelace (a light bright pink). The Multiple is more like a powdery cream, while the Shiro ones are closer to a real cream. All three tend to fill out the needs I might have. However, I've come to the conclusion that I don't like the cardboard packaging of the full size Shiro Multisticks: I find the product harder to apply from the tube, and the tube doesn't feel like it's going to stand up well. They are smooth and easy to blend, but the swatches do not indicate that at all.

Highlighter-wise, I've been trying to use up my Glossier Haloscope in Quartz this summer, so it's been the highlighter I wear pretty much every day and the only one I bring on trips right now.

L-R: NARS Orgasm, Shiro Wu, Shiro Lovelace, Glossier Quartz


In addition to my multisticks, I also like to bring a few other lip products. You know, in case I haven't full anticipated everything I might like to have. This is the category I definitely way overpack in. I usually bring a clear lip balm with me for morning and evening wear while I get ready - lately it's been Hurraw! lip balm Moon Balm (Blue Chamomile Vanilla). I also bring a lip scrub, currently Mountain Madness lip scrub in Peach & Coconut Milk. This a solid oil with very fine sugar in it, and I use it to prep my lips. 

I lean toward longer wearing lip products for travel. Since my routine is disrupted and I'm never quite sure when and how I'll be able to reapply, plus I usually anticipate a lot of eating and talking, I focus on things that I know can withstand meals and drinks. Lately, it's been Peripera Peri's Ink Velvet in Sellout Red, which I got recently in Halifax and adore; and Marc Jacobs Le Marc Liquid Lip Crayons on Night Mauves (for more neutral looks) and Fram-bois (for bolder looks). If I decide not to bring the Ink Velvet but still anticipate needing a red, I bring NYX Super Cliquey Matte Lipstick in In the Red or any Bésame lipstick, because those things do not budge ever. 

L-R: Peripera Sellout Red, NYX In the Red, Bésame Victory Red, Bésame Cherry Red, Marc Jacobs Night Mauves, Marc Jacobs Fram-bois


The three brushes I end up bringing with me are my Zoeva 142 Concealer Buffer (I have two of these, so whichever one is clean), and two of the Hakuhodo + Sephora brushes: the Ougi (fan cheek brush, for Tarte Paaarty) and the Kusabi (wedge powder brush, for the Méteorites). I know the Hakuhodo + Sephora brushes weren't popular, but I love them, so thanks everyone else for hating them and letting me get the ones I wanted on sale (I also have the Kotsubo, the small teardrop powder brush, which I use for powder highlighters).

Top to bottom: Kusabi, 142 Concealer Buffer, Ougi

I've got a super brief reprieve from travelling most weekends right now, but I'll be hitting the road for most of October, largely for work, and I'll be sure to show on Instagram what made the cut as the weather gets cooler and my tastes shift to reflect that.

Mascara Showdown

I never review mascara on here or Instagram for a handful of reasons: I have pretty good lashes - long, curly, plenty of volume.  Because...