Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Emerging Trends: Cream to Matte Lipsticks

Let's pretend for the duration of this review that I am cutting edge and with trends. And maybe I am for once. The whole "a broken clock is right twice a day" thing.

Liquid matte lipsticks are on their way out. They've been slowly taking a step back in the market for other formulas and looks. But while I was initially pretty vocal abut my dislike of liquid lipsticks, and then very carefully with a lot of requirements, dipped my toe into liquid lipsticks. I acknowledge there is a place for long-wearing, smudge-resistant, mostly bulletproof lip colours - and I have plenty of reasons to need longer-wearing lip colours. Not every day, but often enough. Enter the new cream to matte lipsticks I've been coming across. Applies like a lipstick bullet or crayon, sets to a matte finish, similar to a liquid lipstick. Not as bulletproof as some liquid mattes, but pretty close. Also more comfortable, easier to apply, take longer to set so mistakes can be fixed more easily, can be reapplied without being fully removed (mostly)...the virtues are many. Cream to matte is my new matte lipstick love. Good-bye, liquids. I have a new friend, one who hopefully won't expire quite as fast.

I've tried two different cream to matte formulas, at two different price points: NYX Super Cliquey Matte Lipstick (not to be confused with the Super Cliquey Glossy Lipsticks, which have the same packaging) and Marc Jacobs Le Marc Liquid Lip Crayon (as an aside, why do all Marc Jacobs products have to have Le Marc in their name? We get it. You're Marc Jacobs Beauty). And while there are some differences in formulas and shade ranges and how they wear and packaging, I'm very happy with both and I think both of them are great, not just for their price points, but great products. For NYX, this is saying a lot, since I think most NYX products are trash and overpriced for drugstore, and I've rarely liked anything I've tried from them. 

L-R: Night Mauves, In the Red, Obvs

According to the NYX website, the Super Cliquey Mattes are $12 in Canada, but I paid $9.99 at Shoppers because I like sales, and a friend had recommended the line to me, since she had just bought one and quite liked it. The Marc Jacobs Liquid Lip Crayon was $34. I could have bought this during the Sephora sale, but I picked it up after a visit to my ophthalmologist.

(As a note: I've been making great strides on not stress shopping and generally don't advocate it, but there are just some things in life that are too much without a bribe to work through it. I've disclosed on this blog that I have a lot of vision issues, so you can probably guess that even a routine visit to any of my eye care team is a negative thing for me. I promised myself that if I got through it, I would go to Sephora and buy a lipstick that I'd been wanting for a while. I lived, I got a lipstick. Here we are today.)

I picked Night Mauves from the selection of shades in the Liquid Lip Crayons, though I also had and still have my eye on Fram-bois! because it is the prettiest magenta. Night Mauves, on the other hand, is more wearable on all occasions. It's described as a "soft pink mauve," which is kind of accurate but doesn't mention the gorgeous pearl finish which adds some dimension and doesn't affect the long-wearing nature of this lipstick. It's pretty. It's comfortable. It's a very creamy crayon, easy to apply and easy to fix until it dries down. I find it gets heavy, transfers more, and looks frosty if you try to apply another layer over one that's already set, so I prefer to remove this before reapplying. However, I haven't much needed to on the many days I've worn it to work, since it wears well and the fade from my inner lips isn't super noticeable with a colour like this. 

Night Mauves.

It doesn't stand up to the greasiest of food, but makes it through most of my lunches and all of my snacking. Apparently this claims 16 hour wear time, to which I say "HA," but it does make it through a work day, which is 9-10 hours from me getting up and getting ready to me coming home and taking off my lipstick to eat supper. The crayon is slim and a twist up, and the cap is secure, provided you remember to push it till it clicks in place (remember this! MJ does have a label to remind you if you don't, though). All in all, this is a great product. But not exactly budget friendly at $34 per crayon.

So for the budget version, I got two of the Super Cliquey mattes, since a) sale was still going on, b) I had such a great experience with my first one that I wanted another colour for some variation, and c) I wanted to see if others in the line were as good, you know, for science. I have such a low opinion of NYX that I thought it could be a fluke. But apparently not so low to avoid giving them my money. ANYWAY. 

The bullet shape of the Super Cliquey Mattes.

The idea of the Super Cliquey lipsticks is that you click them (duh) with the button on the bottom of the tube. Each click will dispense the exact amount of lipstick you need for an application! Hahahaha. No. I've needed to click a few times to get enough lipstick to not have the tube scraping on my lips, which I don't like. I do like the teardrop shaped slanted bullet like tube, because it makes it easy to get into the corners of my lips. I've had mixed luck in reapplying this over an old layer. If I haven't properly exfoliated my lips before, reapplying really highlights any flaky skin bits and seems to make it break down faster. But if I've properly prepped, then I've had no issue. 

The first Super Cliquey I picked up was In the Red, a very vibrant true red. Man, I love it. It's so happy. And the formula is both tenacious and spectacular. It lasts most of the day, doesn't need a ton of touching up, it lights up my face, and it doesn't make my lips look dry like traditional liquid mattes do. A+ from me. I think I lucked out and picked one of the stars in this formula on the first go. It's so great that I was surprised, because NYX. 

In the Red.

My other Super Cliquey is Obvs, a muted plum. The formula of Obvs is good, but not as fantastic and tenacious as In the Red. It definitely wears and needs some lunch time touching up. It sinks a little more into my lip lines. It's basically a slightly inferior version on all fronts, and while I like the shade, it's simply not as satisfying as In the Red. If I had bought this one first, I might not have gone for a second - it's good but not that good, and with my very low opinion of NYX as a brand, I probably would have been happy with one and moved on with my life. 


I'm hoping other brands will actually pick up on this kind of formula, because while NYX and MArc Jacobs both have a good spread of colours in their lines, I feel like a lot could be done with this. And also selfishly, I'd like to have some in a more middling price point. Plus I want my title of this post to be true. Cream to mattes satisfy what I was really looking for, that long-wearing lipstick that isn't as drying and is easier to apply than a liquid on a doefoot. Finally!

Monday, 14 May 2018

Officially Bourgeois: Trying Chanel and Guerlain

(Side note: my first introduction to the term bourgeois is not through the mandatory lesson on the French Revolution we all get, but as a common last name here in l'Acadie. Acadians only have about twenty last names - yes, I'm being hyperbolic, but there really aren't that many and of the choices, most people are named LeBlanc or Leger, which also indicates that there wasn't a whole lot of creativity there either. I can say this because I'm of Acadian descent. Bourgeois literally means town dweller.)

I'm a loyal Loblaws shopper. Which is curious since I worked at an Atlantic Superstore for five years and have almost nothing positive to say about it, other than the 3:30PM-12:30AM shift was the optimal time for me to work and I will never have that joy again. Slinging groceries sucks, my friends, and I will never free up the brain space that holds onto produce codes from 2007. But I have always lived within walking distance of a Superstore. I have also, with the last two and a half years as the exception, lived within spitting distance of a Shoppers. I have been a loyal cardholder of Shoppers Optimum since high school, and PC Plus since that program was unveiled. I used to go through Superstore to get to library school, and that was connected to a Shoppers! I had points from both coming out of my eyeballs. So when Loblaws announced that they were merging Shoppers Optimum and PC Plus to make one new loyalty program brilliantly called PC Optimum, I was elated. YES! I can get points from my groceries and use them to buy makeup! And clothes! This is the best! My points will be more useful instead of split! I was almost as thrilled as my mother, who probably had the very first Shoppers Optimum card issued and is such a PC points loyalist that she has their top tier credit card to earn even more points. 

(Lest you think I'm being paid to talk about PC Optimum: I was paid pennies when I actually worked there and they sure as shit aren't paying me now.) 

I ended up with $110 worth of points when they merged, which isn't a ton, but it was enough for me to do a little shopping on Beauty Boutique. And because I used the points calculator, I started planning a tentative redemption purchase on Beauty Boutique once all of my points were in one happy place. After much deliberating and careful cart calculations, I settled on two items: the iconic Guerlain Méteorites in in Clair and Chanel Rouge Allure Ink Matte Liquid Lip Colour in Sédiusant, after having spent the better part of the year quietly coveting it, after seeing how great it looked on thelipstickstash and jacmakeup. Together, they totalled $119 before tax. After tax and redemption, I paid $26.85 for the two of them.

So value-wise, before I even get into these products, I'm not sure if I would have paid the full price for them. Don't get me wrong: this is going to be a very positive review. I love both of these. And I'm glad I got to use my points that I got for running my regular errands and get items that I really enjoy. But paying for No fancy coloured balls of powder or liquid lipstick is worth the pricetag that Guerlain (and to a lesser exent, Chanel) has applied here. And while I'm clearly not averse to paying some eyebrow-raising prices for makeup now and again, I have some limits. I would use points on these again to reduce or wholly cover the price, however. Which I'm sure cheapens the luxury aesthetic I'm sure they're going for, but manipulating the system to get what you want goes both ways.

One of the interesting things about luxury goods is the value of how they look to others. Of course, no one is going to know if I'm wearing Guerlain Méteorites unless I tell them, or pull out the tin and start applying them in front an audience. Similarly, no one will know my Chanel lipstick unless they ask, or they see the packaging. A curious thing about luxury beauty: these being my first, at least of brands that are more well-known, I felt kind of awkward about owning them. Even though, you know, no one knows unless I tell them. Class is a funny thing - not as prominent in the Maritimes, it still exists. In a sense, I feel like I'm reaching for things that I have no business owning. Which is untrue, because if I were so inclined to actually pay for these, I could have.

After a few months of owning and regularly using these two items, most of those feelings dissipated, and they've both become staples in my daily makeup. Guerlain Metéorites, while subtle, and almost certainly matter only to me (I discovered on Friday that my coworkers don't even notice my mascara or eyeliner or even the eyeshadow I sometimes wear, unless it glitters at them), make me look brighter, glowier, and airbrushed. They claim to blur, and they do soften any blemishes and meld my makeup together. If I've been too heavy handed with blush or powder highlighter, the Méteorites blur it a little, add an extra glow, and make it all look more natural. Could I get the same effect from something cheaper? Probably, but I never saw anything that appealed. 

The tin is solid, and klutzy me has only knocked out a few pearls a few times - and only one at a time, so there. I found the classic Guerlain violet scent to be overwhelming at first, but either I'm used to it now or it has gotten less strong.

A long time ago, I got a deluxe sample from Sephora of the Méteorites. It included a pearl of each colour in a plastic and cardboard little container. It was...not ideal. I couldn't swirl my brush over them and I got frustrated and gave it away. The full size makes the Méteorites make more sense. I swirl my brush (Zoeva 106 powder brush) over the top layer of pearls, and then lightly sweep it over the rest of my makeup. I kept the foam insert and use it when I want to travel with them (so far no mishaps). I haven't gone a day without them since they came in. And I think that's the mark of a good purchase: seamlessly fitting into your routine. 

Chanel Rouge Allure Ink in Séduisant, on the other hand, is meant to be seen. It's a pink leaning coral, with a very fine gold shimmer in it, giving it a gold pearl finish. If you like the mattest of matte liquid lipsticks, this is not for you. It's not totally transferproof, but that tradeoff is worth the comfort. Séduisant is, bar none, one of the most comfortable and flattering lipsticks I've ever worn. Even when it starts to wear off, it fades gracefully and leaves a stain. It can't stand up to an especially oily lunch, but you can easily remove it before (again, unlike other liquid lipsticks, it's a little less stubborn) or suffer through. It probably won't look that bad.

While I haven't tried to pile on too many layers, I have touched it up with a new layer over a partially faded one, and it applied seamlessly. Not too thick or flaky or tight. It doesn't sink into lip lines weirdly. Basically, this is the most perfect liquid lipstick I have ever owned, and everything else is now too matte, uncomfortable, and dry. Damn you, Chanel. 

One layer.

I paid $43 Canadian for it, which is the same price as a NARS Audacious, which is not totally out of my lipstick budget but definitely approaching the uppermost limit. It being a liquid means I'll have to use it up faster than a bullet, though if you've been scrolling through my Instagram, you'll note that it crops up a decent amount. It's opaque in one swipe, take a couple of minutes to dry down so you can easily smooth it out and fix any mistakes. The applicator is a small, flat doefoot, easy to use and manipulate. The packaging is small, but hefty, giving it the weight a luxury product needs to make you feel like you're getting almost your money's worth. 

It's possible that Séduisant has ruined me for other lipsticks (ha, not possible. But if it was...). Not only the formula is incredible, but the colour is beautiful and hugely flattering on me. Guerlain Méteorites, while a daily fixture now, still have to wear me completely down. Although, I generally find finishing powders to be kind of dull, and at least the Méteorites are pretty to look at and make me feel bougie as fuck when I'm putting them on, and a little bit elegant, which is not something one would usually associate with me. And while I won't pay full price for it, I do enjoy it. 

Where do you fall on luxury and high end makeup? Worth it? Ripoff? Good use of points if you have access to programs like PC Optimum?

Sunday, 6 May 2018

2018 Reads: January to March

Better late than never. Right? Right. I have a vague goal of reading 52 new books this year - emphasis on new; I almost never count my rereads in this - but I'm clearly already behind. I'm hopeful that once I get around to scheduling some vacation that I'll have some dedicated reading time. I did subscribe to The New Yorker for real now, so I've at least been reading that every week (even if I skip all the reviews of things I'll never see and places I'll never go). 

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI - David Grann

Speaking of The New Yorker, I read the first chapter of this on the website and promptly went off to find the ebook. My interest in true crime is tenuous at best, but when one holds me, it grabs tight. This was fascinating, and tragic. It details the streak of murders that happened in Oklahoma in the 1920s and on of the Osage people, whose land had an incredible wealth of oil. It detailed the laws surrounding the Osages' ability to control their money that left them vulnerable, as well as the involvement of what would later be the FBI in solving some of the murders. I highly recommend this one.

The Purchase - Linda Spalding

And this is one I don't recommend. This book was a drag. It sounded like it had potential: Quaker family starts over in slave-holding territory, and everything after the patriarch purchases a slave is a strange, confusing, terrible chain of events for the family. But no. It managed to be dull and irritating. It's told from a third person omniscient perspective, but it's very difficult to get a good read on the characters or even have interest in them. They all seem to simply let things happen, rather than take agency. It deals with slavery and freedom, abolitionist and being complicit, in some thought-provoking ways, but ultimately, the character development in this novel is lacking.  

The Burning Girl - Claire Messud

I'm still not totally sure how I feel about this book. It's the classic coming of age story about a pair of best friends, and all the intricacies of those intense friendships. On its own, it was fine, if having somewhat of an abrupt ending. But after reading Elena Ferrante's Neopolitan novels last summer, it felt a little pale in comparison. Or maybe that's because the background felt like it could have been my own: the pop culture references were almost in line with how old I was on those dates too. I think I liked it but I don't know if I'd recommend it. 

Tempests and Slaughter - Tamora Pierce

Finally! A new Tortall book from Tamora Pierce! This is the first book in her set of novels about Numair Salmalin, before he appears in the Daine books. It's always interesting to me to see how her writing has evolved over time, and this one has been especially interesting, since it's the first of the Tortall universe that is told through the eyes of a boy. Anyway, I don't know if I liked it as much as some of the others, but it was a good read. It's interesting to have some of that background filled in and see where these characters were before I first read about them.

Tortall: A Spy's Guide - Tamora Pierce, Julie Holderman, Timothy Liebe, and Megan Messinger

This was fun - for anyone who has loved the Tortall universe in Tamora Pierce's books, you'll enjoy this add-on. It's a collection of letters, maps, documents, and other associated papers which give a set of short stories that fill in gaps between the main series books and offer a glimpse into what has happened with some characters since the end of the Trickster duo. 

The Experience Economy - B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore

I borrowed this book from another site at work and renewed it three times (the limit) before I got around to reading it. And then I still returned it overdue. Guaranteed that if we had fines, I would be the biggest contributor. But then again, maybe not, since I had a user return a book he had out for nine years last fall. Anyway, I read this because it was recommended in some leadership/HR/managerial training/meeting/lecture? I went to. And it was interesting - the idea is about businesses orchestrating memorable experiences for their customers. But being the jaded millennial I am, I have a few issues with it. Mainly because it almost completely ignores tourism and hospitality...which are whole sectors based on experiences. And because I have a general distrust of this genre to begin with.

Driven to Distraction at Work - Edward M. Hallowell

The other book that I borrowed from the same site, renewed three times, and returned overdue. I thought this might be a great read for me, someone who has a job that requires a lot of interruption out of necessity and often struggles with focusing because of that. HA. It was not helpful. I mean, there were some valid tips in there...but they always suggest things like "don't answer your phone!" or "block out time where you don't respond to email!" My chosen career doesn't work like that, friends. I don't answer things outside of my work hours, but when I'm there and on the clock, it is frankly unacceptable for me to not be responsive. Urgent patient care doesn't care that I set aside two hours to ignore my emails. It did get me to really reflect what I do struggle with in terms of distractions and how to better eliminate the ones I can control, so that was at least a good thought exercise. I don't know why I keep reading these types of books, though. 

Outlander - Diana Gabaldon

Finally, finally, finally I have started Outlander. It's one of those series that I've always thought I'd enjoy (and I really liked the first book) but just never got around to reading. But now that it's a TV show and three of my coworkers with whom I eat lunch every day are obsessed, I need to catch up. I find the time travel thing a little flimsy, to be honest, and kind of random, but the story is otherwise pretty entertaining, if sometimes a little wordy. I had a few other books I wanted to read before diving into the second one, but I found myself racing through those so I could figure out what happens next.

Jessica Jones: The Pulse: The Complete Collection - Bendis, Bagley, Anderson, Lark, Gaydos, Coipel

Working my way through the Jessica Jones part of the Marvel universe! I got this after Christmas from a local comic shop, but it's taken me a while to plunge into it, even though I thoroughly enjoyed Alias. This was also good, if a little less gritty. I think I liked the grittiness of Alias better. But let's face it, Jessica Jones is my favourite Marvel character, and at the time of reading this, had yet to start watching the Netflix show (which is also excellent).

Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion - Tansy E. Hoskins

I saw this recommended on Reddit's Female Fashion Advice as a good critical read about the world of fashion, from couture to fast fashion. It is a sobering and critical overview of the exploitation and devastation that fashion causes, as well as some of the troubling societal aspects that it upholds. It was a solid introduction to those things, though if you're already interested and have started to research on your own, it won't be much of a revelation. Still, it's not terribly long and packs a lot in the text without feeling overwhelming, and includes realistic suggestions on how to mindfully reduce your impact.

Total this quarter: 10
Total this year: 10

Monday, 30 April 2018

2018 Reverse Rouge Challenge: March and April

Time for the second installment of my Reverse Rouge challenge! It's raining, it's cold, I almost-but-am-pretty-sure-I-didn't break my toe but am laying on the couch with it up to alleviate some pain, and I'm tired of the basket of garbage in my bathroom closet, so I'm going to write about it and then move on with my life.

To recap, I'm doing a Reverse Rouge challenge with some friends. I'm doing the very basic version, where I count to see what I've used up. I was waffling on some products for inclusion, like shampoo and conditioner, but have ultimately decided to include them. Again, all prices and totals are in Canadian dollars, converted where needed. I've tried to be true to the prices I paid for these things, but where I can't remember, I've checked the actual price at the store I most likely purchased them from.

  • L'Oreal Paris Elnett Satin Unscented Extra Strong Hold Hairspray (250ml): $4.99
    • I've been looking for a good unscented hairspray for a little while, and this fits the bill. It also goes on sale often enough that I'm happy to buy it. I upgraded to the larger size after finishing this one.
  • OGX Coconut Water Shampoo: $8.47
    • I bought this mostly because I liked the other OGX products I've tried, but this was one of a few scents that had noticeably different shampoo and conditioner bottles (listen, OGX, your bottle design for most of your line is shitty for anyone without decent eyesight. I can't read the label in the shower, I need more visual cues). And this is the first shampoo I've repurchased without hesitation in a long time. It smells great, nice and light, and it + the conditioner have made my hair smooth and hydrated all winter.
  • Garnier Fructis Style Deconstructed Pixie Play Crafting Cream: $4.99
    • I bought this to deal with my hair when I had that super short pixie last summer. Why did anyone let me do this. IG loved it, but my hairdresser and I were like, wtf is wrong with us. Anyway, I used up most of it till my hair grew out and stopped looking ridiculous, and used the last dregs of it last week for no real reason other than to get it out of here. It was fine while my hair was short, but I won't repurchase, barring another incident where I lose my mind.
  • Life Brand Clear Action Body Wash: $3.99
    • Bought this while I was having some bacne trouble, which has since cleared up. This is the Shoppers brand knockoff of Neutrogena. Worked well, would buy again if I needed it.
  • Bioderma Hydrabio H2O Moisturizing Make-up Removing Micelle Solution (500ml): $14.95
    • My favourite micellar water. I always buy it in 2 packs of 500ml bottles for $29.90 (actually I just bought a new pack, and it scanned at $21.99 for the 2 500ml bottles. Score!). It gives a light boost of hydration while getting all of my makeup off. I even use it on my eye makeup. 
  • The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA (30ml): $5.80
    • I use the smaller size for travel. Love this moisturizer, am hoping Deciem has different ownership when I get through my stockpile.
  • Formula 10.0.6 Seriously Shine Free Mattifying Oil-Free Moisturizer: $9.97
    • Still my favourite daytime moisturizer. It keeps the oil at bay and works as a great primer for my makeup. This is my third or fourth tube. Have repurchased.
  • Pixi Glow Tonic (100ml): $19.99
    • Bounced back to this after The Ordinary toner broke me out baaaaad. This was a travel size I purchased a while ago. I love Glow Tonic, I don't care if it isn't the optimum pH. It works for me. I bought the 250ml bottle after this one was done.
  • Lush Breath of Fresh Air Toner Water (100ml): $10.95
    • Smelled nice, did nothing except cool my face down. I can achieve the same effect with a spray bottle of water. The end.
  • CosRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence: $23.40
    • This was my backup snail for a while, then my main one. I also used it in DIY honey masks. It was fine. It lasted a really long time and is relatively accessible. I'll probably buy it again
  • CosRX Acne Pimple Master Patch (2pk): $21.00
    • Could have gotten these for cheaper, probably. They worked, but so do the Nexcare ones that are easier to find. So it goes.
  • Biore UV Aqua Rich Whitening Essence SPF 50+ PA++++: $18.01
    • bought this to try instead of my beloved Biore Bright Milk. It's more of a moisturizer consistency, though it dries similarly matte to the Milks. It was okay, but I prefer Bright Milk more.
  • Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask (3g): $3.60
    • One of the best Sephora samples out there! I love Nuxe Reve de Miel as a night balm, but this was a very close second, and I like the bubblegum scent better than honey. I actually purchased the grapefruit scent as a full size, after spotting it at an Asian market in Halifax.
  • Masque Bar Charcoal Peel-Off Mask: $1.99
    • got this in one of those teen packs that Shoppers sells in August in September - super cheap packs of toiletries and cosmetics. I usually buy them because they're seriously cheap and often have 2-3 things I already use in them, which more than makes up the price. This was an okay peel-off mask. Probably wouldn't buy myself, but good to try.
  • Bath & Body Works Keep It Fruity Face Sheet Mask: $4.95
    • I can't believe I paid $5 for this. It was a perfectly acceptable sheet mask, but not $5 worth. I bought this while wandering around the mall on a random vacation day while my car was being fixed for a voluntary recall. I remember more about the car than the sheet mask, which indicates how perfectly fine it was. Would not buy again.
  • Mediheal EGT Timetox Ampoule Mask: $3.99
    • Got this at the Asian market in Halifax. It had a cute bear on it! Adorable. I liked it - I looked brighter and smoother. My skin has only just started to show signs of aging, so not sure how effective that was, but I liked this one. Will probably buy one as a splurge again in the future.
  • The Creme Shop Super Glow Face Mask: $2
    • This was part of a gift from a friend. I liked it well enough, and I know these come in packs for a good price at Winners, so may pick it up again. It fit decently enough.
  • The Creme Shop Anti-Aging Egg Nog Sheet Mask: $2
    • Also part of a gift from a friend. I really liked this one, its effects made me look radiant for a day and helped soothe a breakout I was suffering. If I spot it again, I'll strongly consider picking it up for a treat.
  • Bite Agave Sugar Lip Scrub: $20
    • Not my favourite sugar scrub. I thought there was way too much oil to sugar, so it was hard to actually scrub. It does smell really good, though. Won't buy again, I can get cheaper, more effective ones (or make my own, I guess).
  • Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer in SX01: $58
    • This was my concealer for a year and a half. I used it pretty liberally. This isn't quite empty, but the last bit has oxidized a lot, and no longer matches well. I will be purchasing again once I work through my current concealer.
  • Glossier Stretch Concealer in Light: $22
    • This is garbage and it should feel bad. This isn't totally done either but I've used enough that I don't feel comfortable passing it on. I used it to touch up my foundation if I rubbed some off but it sucks at that too. It doesn't match well, it slides everywhere, and it doesn't cover anything. Trash. Am not buying ever again.
Total these two months: $265.04

Total year to date: $507.78

Feeling pretty good about my progress, though I definitely want to finish up more makeup and less skincare.

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Spring Plans

I've emerged from self-imposed exile to meet the deadlines for peer review and remembered I have a blog, work has calmed down slightly, and I've been told it's spring. At least that's what my coworkers told me when I wore my blouse that has a pattern of touques, mittens, and skates. They forbade me from wearing it again till next winter. However, spring hasn't really gotten off the ground yet here: it's been cold, wintery, and I haven't felt safe in having my winter tires taken off yet. This week has been promising, but I've been burned too many times before. Or frozen, if you will.

But a girl can still dream about warmer days: sandals, not wearing wool socks, putting the parka away for the season...and brighter, sunnier makeup! I've been very slowly picking up some colours more suited to spring and summer, and dipping back into the lighter scents I have in my perfume collection. You can take this as a forecast of what I'll probably be wearing this season, and things that will pop up continually on my Instagram and here. 

Glossier Lidstars in Slip and Moon

I gave in and picked up two of the Glossier Lidstars, Moon ("the sheerest cream base with blueish opalescent glimmer") and Slip ("a sheer baby pink with golden highlight effect") and I LOVE them. They're both easy to wear, easy to blend, don't crease, don't fade too much, good one-and-done colours, and they're both beautiful shimmers. I like Slip more, since it's got a beautiful golden shift, and Moon reads more as sheer cream with blue glitter. I would recommend these wholeheartedly, except Auxiliary Beauty discovered the packaging on hers cracked this week and ughhh, Glossier, would it kill you to make packaging that isn't so damn flimsy?! I'm going to be wearing these a lot this season, since sheer cream and liquid shadows are the only kinds I like to wear these days. I'll keep you posted when they crack.

L-R: Slip, Moon

Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Creme Lipstick in So Sofia

Spring and summer demand a bright coral lip. Very wisely, I bought this last fall and have only worn in a handful of times. Now is its time to shine. The formula is excellent and the colour makes me happy. Watch for it being worn all the time these next few months.

One swipe of So Sofia

Shiro lip gloss in Peach Blossom Tea

I'm still a little on the fence about this gloss, because the peach white tea scent smells amazing...and tastes like soap. It's not soapy enough to keep me from wearing the gloss, because the pink peach colour is perfect for spring and summer, but it's enough to dull my enjoyment of wearing it. So what I'll probably do is dither on this for months and wear it all through spring and summer anyway. And dull my tastebuds to this gloss or something. 

One swipe of Peach Blossom Tea

Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush in Paaarty

Yes, the blush from last year's Sephora birthday gift that was really well-liked. I fell for it too. Paaarty, obnoxious name aside, is a fantastic blush. It's a great neutral on me, and genuinely lights my face up, looking really natural, and I've been making good progress on  wearing down the imprint. I don't see this changing over the spring and summer, since it gives me such a fresh, light look. 

All the sheer matte lipsticks

Once again, the sheer mattes that I went crazy over last summer are coming back to the forefront of my look: I love how watercolour like they are. Sheer washes of colour, no shine. When spring comes, I want my makeup to be lighter, more delicate than it had been all winter, when I favour darker, bolder colours. I've cut down my collection of Colourpop Blotted Lips somewhat, getting rid of the colours I don't wear as much and the ones that annoy me the most when the bullet falls out because they've all cracked off at this point. I've also got two Glossier Generation Gs, which I love, and have (knock on wood) so far escaped the bullets snapping off/faulty packaging on those ones.

L-R, a few swipes each so you can actually see them: Glossier Generation G Cake, Zip, Colourpop Blotted Lips Drip, Bee's Knees, Sucker, Ice Cube

Solstice Scents After the Rain

Hands down, this is the best spring scent. I got this last year and am still madly in love. The notes are "Lilac, Wisteria, Blue Lotus, Rain, Green Accord, Wild Violets, Earth." They even sound like spring. In practice, this smells more like summer - the rain is a touch too warm for spring, IMO, but Solstice Scents is in Florida and I'm really not, so I suspect that's where we diverge. Regardless, the fresh lilacs and rain remind me of late spring and early summer and it is in heavy rotation right now, when I even bother to put on perfume.

Shiro Glow in Verdant

Yes, my Shiro order at the beginning of April was made almost entirely with spring in mind. This is one of their solid cream highlighters, called Glows. I've been low-key lusting after a green highlighter since I saw the Becca Light Chaser in Opal Flashes Jade, and I think that Verdant fits the bill for me. It's subtle (if a green highlighter can be called subtle, because even if it is sheer and blendable, it's still green), the glow formula is neat - the solid cream reminds me a bit of Colourpop's Super Shock Formula before it sets - and it performs beautifully on bare skin and over liquid foundation.

Built-up swatch of Verdant so you can see it.

Tinted balms

Tinted balms were my first lip colour love, and while I've moved onto the brighter, bolder, and far more opaque, I still like to pull out tinted balms for easy lip colour during the spring and summer, especially for parties, when I will be stuffing my face and don't want to worry about things smudging or wearing away weirdly. I bought Burt's Bees tinted lip balm in Red Dahlia a couple months ago, since I read it was a dupe for Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey - I don't think it quite is, but it's close enough. I recently picked up one of the new Shiro balms, Every Glance Gives My Heartstrings Apple, which is a lovely neutral pink, and perfect for this time of year (and the new formula is A+). I also have my handbag staples in rotation for more every day wear: Epically Epic tinted balm in Midnight Hour and Shiro tinted balm in With Eyes Unclouded.

L-R: Burt's Bees Red Dahlia, Shiro Every Glance Gives My Heartstrings Apple, Shiro With Eyes Unclouded, Epically Epic Midnight Hour

Josie Maran Coconut Watercolour Cheek Gelee in Pink Escape

I've had this for about a year and a half, and have panned it. It's a great blush: luminous, easy to blend with your finger, sits well on foundation and bare skin, sinks in to look natural...and I'm pretty sure they're discontinued since they aren't on the official website, and Sephora has a few random shades left. I'd like to use this up sooner rather than later, and have been making pretty consistent progress on it. This pink is also great for spring and summer, being sheer and bright. I'd like to finish it up and grab another one while they're still around, kinda of.

One unblended swipe of Pink Escape

I tend to not like spring all that much - it's muddy, rainy, and requires till nearly the end of the season to actually be nice, but after this very snowy winter, I'm ready to force it on with these products.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

bb Lipsticks

The list of things that are cuter than mini versions of full-sized products is pretty small. I love tiny things. Which is why I'm always snapping up deluxe sample sizes of lipstick when they're available in codes or other gifts with purchase. Or in at least one case, buy a mini lipstick - MAC started offering some of their classic shades in mini form, which seems like a good idea for a shade you might want but aren't going to need a full tube. Mini lipsticks in general are a great idea, in my humble opinion: as a beauty junkie, I like variety and so product sizes aren't a huge concern for me. Why shouldn't we have different sizes of lipstick, like the different sizes of moisturizer or toner or sunscreen? 

So while I'm resigned to mostly grabbing deluxe sizes with codes, I've had a very good streak lately. In addition to purchasing a mini MAC lipstick in Diva, a matte, I've gotten freebies of Fenty Beauty Matte-moiselle Plush Matte Lipstick in Griselda, Tom Ford lipstick in Indian Rose, and Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Big Bang. All of which were great for trying the shade, formula,  and seeing a comparable version of the packaging. However, not all of them were great...which is why samples are something I'm trying to take advantage of more often, particularly as I don't have regular access to a variety of stores to swatch things. This way, I'm ultimately saving money and getting to try things, even if they're not always colours I'd choose for myself.

L-R: Tom Ford Indian Rose, MAC Diva, Fenty Griselda, Urban Decay Big Bang

I'd actually already tried Big Bang in a little sample blister, but it was very different in a bullet form. It's described as "bright pink sparkle." That's true. I loosely subscribe to Auxiliary Beauty's Lipstick Taxonomy, so I'm inclined to feel like it's a glitter lipstick, since the shimmer is fairly large. Urban Decay calls it metallized. Okay.

Quibbles about the finish of this lipstick aside, it's very, very pretty. That's the end of my positive thoughts on this. It's gritty and wears off in weird patchy chunks. But it's so pretty! That is not enough to keep a little deluxe lipstick sample. Do not get this, not even with a code. The Vice lipstick range is large, so there are better things in there.

Tom Ford Lipstick in Indian Rose is probably the best mini lipstick I've ever come across. This was a 100 point perk at Sephora this fall, and I nabbed it. I wanted to try Tom Ford lipsticks, but I've heard they go rancid really, really fast, and for someone with a lipstick collection the size of mine, a lipstick that goes off quickly is no good. I've already used mine up a ton, and I can see it being an easy lipstick pan this year.

Indian Rose is a neutral pink, very wearable, office-appropriate colour. It's sheer-ish, and the formula is creamy with a glossier finish on the side of satin. It wears easily and because it's such a sheer neutral, it doesn't look weird as it rubs off. 

It's a very soft formula, and it's fine...but it's just fine. Tom Ford lipsticks run $70. I want to be singing from rooftops about how great it is for that pricetag. It's not, though. It's merely okay. I'll happily wear it. I won't ever buy a Tom Ford lipstick. There are so many amazing formulas - for much less money.

Fenty Beauty Matte-moiselle Plush Matte Lipstick in Griselda was another 100 point perk that I had picked up with my Christmas gift card purchases in January. I also picked up a full size of the Matte-moiselles, Candy Venom, so I can tell you that the formula for these varies between colours. Candy Venom is pigmented, lightweight, opaque and smooth in application. Griselda, a burgundy, is stiff, draggy, and patchy. I could not, for the life of me, get this to apply evenly at all, ever. It's terrible. I hate it. I can't even bring myself to try to pass this on to another person because it's so bad. I definitely couldn't bring myself to wear this for a whole day to test it, so I can't tell you what it looks like over a day. But I think not being willing to do that indicates to you how much I hate this.

Which is especially mystifying because Candy Venom is so good. 

Comparing Griselda to MAC Diva, Diva is the easy winner. Both are burgundies, but Diva is much smoother and more red-toned, which I think is more flattering on me. It's also along the stiff side, but it applies more smoothly and doesn't look patchy if you try to even out the layers. It leaves a really nice dark pink-red stain and wears relatively evenly, for all that burgundy is such a finicky colour. I love the vamp of this colour, though I generally try to avoid being too vampy because it's so easy. But it's certainly a colour that I only really need one of.

2 out of 4 that I actually like, and 1 out of 4 that I would buy (or in this case, buy again). Not a stellar showing for the tiny lipsticks, but again, this was an easy way to try a few things, and explore some formulas. 

Sunday, 11 March 2018

My Current Skincare Routine

It took a really long time, but I started to get into skincare in the last year and even be mildly interested in reading about it. I'm not meticulously checking the pH of my products, nor am I constantly chasing a better thing (I am always chasing a cheaper thing, though). I've gone through variations of my skincare routine over the last few years, trying to get to a place that made me happy, adding and subtracting products and steps. And I am mostly happy, even with the occasional misstep.

A few notes about my skin in its current state:
  • my skin is typically combination-oily, with some dehydration and dryness in the winter
  • my biggest concerns right now are texture and hydration
  • I take birth control (ethinyl estradiol/drospirenone, oral) and get a very mild hormonal breakout once a month
  • I tend to have very persistent post-inflammatory erythema (PIE) and in general, any mark on my skin can be pretty obvious
  • my skin isn't super sensitive, but it can be fussy - I don't react to much, but when I do, I react pretty poorly
  • I have a tendency to pick at my skin and always regret it - I've gotten better but do regress when I'm stressed
These are pictures of my face without makeup from this morning. You can see that I have some PIE from my healing breakout brought on by The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution (which I mentioned on Instagram and have ceased using). I also have some redness around my nose, and am a little dry around my mouth right now.

Before I went on birth control when I was 18, I had moderate acne throughout most of my teens - not bad enough to warrant Accutane, but enough to make me self-conscious. It started to clear up when I was 16-17, but I don't actually know what my skin would look like as an adult without being on the pill. I assume a combination of growing up and using a hormonal medication have changed the state of my skin in the last ~8 years. I don't have perfect skin, but I don't have overly problematic skin, so what this routine does isn't create miracles. I'm fairly consistent with my routine, and can't actually remember a day I haven't done it in the last year. 


  • Wash my face with Glossier Milky Jelly. I've been using it as my morning cleanse for about three months now, after finishing up my favourite Marcelle Comforting Cleansing Milk. Milky Jelly is fine, but it's more expensive, and the Marcelle cleanses + gives a dose of moisture.
  • Put on sunscreen. Currently I'm trying out Biore UV Aqua Rich Whitening Essence SPF 50+ PA++++. It's okay, it works well enough and doesn't interfere with my skin or makeup, It's got a texture like a light moisturizer, but it doesn't feel especially moisturizing. It doesn't leave a cast and has a slightly mattifying finish. I'll be going back to my favourite, Biore UV Perfect Bright Milk SPF 50+ PA++++, which has a slight blurring effect and makes me look...well, brighter.
  • I let my sunscreen absorb for 5-10 minutes before putting on my moisturizer, Formula 10.0.6 Seriously Shine Free Mattifying Oil-Free Moisturizer. This is my favourite skincare find from 2017. It gives me a lightweight dose of moisture, keeps the oil that likes to make my T-zone shiny at bay all day, and works as a great primer. Plus it's $10. 
  • I usually put on a layer of lip balm and let it sink into my lips while I eat breakfast, put the bare minimum effort into styling my hair, do my makeup, and then I wipe it off before putting on lipstick. I've been using Geek Fire lip balm in Mother of Dragons, which is perfectly fine. Not my favourite, but it does the trick.

  • Remove my makeup with Bioderma Hydrabio H20 Micellar Water. I used to use Sensibio, but my mom got me Hydrabio for Christmas 2016 and I like it much better. It's more effective and and yes, hydrating. I don't wear waterproof mascara or eyeliner, so I rest the cotton pad with Hydrobio on my eye for a few seconds and it gets it all off.
  • Wash my face with Formula 10.0.6 Best Face Forward Daily Foaming Cleanser. Every so often I will use NIOD Sanskrit Saponins instead, since it's a very intense clean, and I don't like to use it every day. The Formula 10.0.6 is a good cleanser for the end of the day - it's bright and fruity and leaves my skin feeling clean and not being stripped. I usually rinse off my cleanser in the shower, since I prefer to shower in the evening.
  • Once I get out of the shower, I use Pixi Glow Tonic. I mentioned my brief foray with The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution, which I had hoped would be a much cheaper version of that step in my routine, but obviously not. The Glow Tonic does give me a glow, and is a good, light exfoliator, even if the pH may not be optimal.
  • Every other night, I use The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion. I'm basically using this to see its effects in 20 years, but it also does have the side benefit of helping keep my skin clear and I had no purging, so yay.
  • Once a week, on a night I'm not using my retinoid, I do a stronger acid, CosRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid. It helps deal with some texture and smooths my skin. I let it sink in for about 20 minutes before using the next layer.
  • Next up is Mizon Snail Recovery Gel Cream. I didn't notice the effects of this until I went without. My skin loves snail - it's magic on blemishes, it plumps and hydrates my skin, and it even combats redness. 
  • I've been using The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG on my undereyes for the better part of a year, but honestly I don't know if it's doing much. It's dirt-cheap and a bottle lasts forever and at least two people have told me I look more awake since I've been using it, but I don't have really bad undereye circles or puffiness to combat to begin with. I'm going to finish this one and probably dispense with using it. I bring my moisturizer into my eye area anyway.
  • My last layer is The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA, which is sometimes supplemented with The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane when I need a boost of extra moisture. I really like NMF: it's not too heavy, but is really moisturizing and doesn't feel too greasy.
  • Night lip balm is currently Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask, which I have a sample pot of. I'm also working through the remainder of my Vaseline Lip Therapy in Cocoa Butter, but my real love is Nuxe Reve de Miel Ultra Nourishing Lip Balm. I'll be going back to that once I finish the others.
I'm pretty The Ordinary-heavy right now, which I expect to change once I work through the backups I've stocked up on while Deciem is imploding. If that continues, I'll be looking for dupes for my staples here. 

The last part of my skincare routine is masks. I like to do masks a few times a week, usually during the week as a self-care/relaxation tool. And also to boost my skincare. My favourite mask is a DIY honey mask, courtesy of Lena of Faceonomics. I mix 3 parts of raw honey, 1 part Formula 10.0.6 Keep Your Cool Skin Calming Gel Mask, and three pumps of CosRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence. I keep it on for at least an hour, and then I see real effects: lots of hydration, lots of smoothing and evening my skintone, and reduction of any breakouts I might have. 

I usually have a few sheet masks around for a treat - I like trying them but have never found any that did anything drastic or different from others I've tried. I also find them a little wasteful so try not to use them regularly - it's a once in a while splurge kind of thing. 

I also keep a couple of clay masks around. Glossier Mega Greens Galaxy Pack is my favourite - it has all the oil-reducing power of a clay mask but doesn't leave my skin tight or dry feeling. I also like Formula 10.0.6 Pores Be Pure Skin Clarifying Mud Mask - it smells really good and is a decent budget clay mask. It also tingles while drying down, so as a believer in "if it stings, it's working," I appreciate that.

Anyway, that's it. It feels like a lot of steps, and my partner likes to occasionally whine about how long it takes (which is not that long and honestly, cleaning my contacts takes longer, so there), but it's a nice few minutes of relaxation and routine.