Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Two Months In: Sephora Fall Sale Recap

The Sephora fall sale is the beauty event of the fall. Or I assume it is, based on the beautysphere devotion to discussing it most of the autumn. I also live in rural New Brunswick so a) my metrics for exciting events are pretty damn low (we're still going nuts over a rare bird) and b) I have no way of actually proving myself wrong. The Sephora fall sale is the biggest coupon discount given in a calendar year there and lots of people will hold onto their wishlists for the moment that they can use that code. A lot of people will point out that brand sites have bigger sales and Sephora's point systems is lame and blah blah blah something about Ulta I don't really care because I'm not American. Sephora is a one-stop shop for lots of mid-range and high-end brands. It makes it easy to snap up a bunch of products from different brands and that is why I will always enjoy the Sephora sales. Most brand websites are a) garbage design; b) are based in the US so will take forever to get here if they even bother to ship to Canada; and c) probably have absurd shipping costs. 

Anyway, I started planning for this at the beginning of October. My birthday always falls near the sale, so I usually set aside some birthday money for the sale, and I also always get to pick up the birthday gift. 

When your holiday/birthday beauty mail comes all at once. I made a @glossier order a couple of weeks ago, and it arrived the same day as my @sephoracanada sale order (my last year as Rouge, thankfully). Lotsa pretty stuff to play with and swatches! From Glossier: Mega Greens Galaxy Pack, Generation G lipstick in Cake, a sample of Glossier You perfume, and a sample of the Milky Jelly Cleanser From Sephora: @hourglasscosmetics Ambient Lighting Blush in Diffused Heat, @kevynaucoin The Celestial Powder Highlighter in Candlelight, @narsissist Liquid Blush in Dolce Vita, @besamecosmetics mini lipstick set, Sephora + Hakuhodo Fan Cheek Brush (Ougi), the @tartecosmetics Birthday Present (Tarteist lip paint in Birthday Suit and Blush in Paaarrty), and samples of @drunkelephantskincare Lala Retro Whipped Cream, Sephora Cleansing Cream in Rose, and This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray) Lip swatches L-R: Cake, Birthday Suit, Besame Red Velvet, Chocolate Kiss, Noir Red, Dusty Rose, Cherry Red Face swatches L-R: Dolce Vita, Diffused Heat, Candlelight, Paaarrty
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The haul:
  • the Tarte birthday gift: minis of the Amazonian Clay Blush in Paaarty and Tarteist Lip Paint in Birthday Suit
  • NARS Liquid Blush in Dolce Vita
  • Hourglass Cosmetics Ambient Lighting Blush in Diffused Heat
  • Kevyn Aucoin The Celestial Powder Highlighter in Candlelight
  • Besame mini lipstick set (1930 Noir Red, 1935 Cherry Red, 1946 Red Velvet, 1969 Dusty Rose, 1970 Chocolate Kiss)
  • Sephora + Hakuhodo Fan Cheek Brush (Ougi)

L-R: Tarte Birthday Suit, Tarte Paaarty, Hourglas Diffused Heat, NARS Dolce Vita, Kevyn Aucoin Candlelight, Besame 1930 Noir Red, Besame 1935 Cherry Red, Besame 1946 Red Velvet, Besame 1970 Chocolate Kiss, Besame 1969 Dusty Rose

First things first: the Tarte birthday gift. Having a birthday in November means that by the time I get around to obtaining the birthday gift, it's already been reviewed to death. I'll keep it short and sweet: this is probably my favourite Sephora birthday gift in all of the years that I've been receiving them (since 2011). I've tried the Amazonian Clay blush formula before, so that wasn't new, but Paaarty is a truly flattering neutral blush on me. I feel it lights my face up in a subtle, natural way, even though the name sucks. 

Paaarty on my cheeks.

The Tarteist Lip Paint is a new formula to me. In continuing the 2017 trend where I kept getting liquid lipsticks and liking them, Birthday Suit was a hit. The formula is oddly minty, but lightweight and dries down to an almost powdery feel. It's not too drying, and while Birthday Suit is slightly lighter and warmer than my natural lip colour, it doesn't wash me out or look unflattering. I dig it. 

Birthday Suit. I like it.

Next: NARS Liquid Blush in Dolce Vita. I was really into liquid and cream formula for most of the fall and early winter. If it came in a liquid or cream form, I wanted it. I've really enjoyed my Glossier Cloud Paint in Beam, and was considering ordering another Cloud Paint until I saw Lena of Faceonomics talk about how much she loved the NARS Liquid Blush formula and how it was what she wanted the Cloud Paints to be. I was intrigued, and after much deliberating, I picked Dolce Vita. The vaguely annoying thing about NARS is that they have a bunch of products in a shade called Dolce Vita...and they aren't all the same colour. I have the lipstick in Dolce Vita, which is noticeably not the same colour as the Liquid Blush in Dolce Vita. The blush is described as a matte dusty rose.

The liquid blush is smooth and blendable and lasts all day and even matches my Besame lipstick in 1969 Dusty Rose almost perfectly - but holy hell is it pigmented. This would be a beautiful colour for deeper skintones. For me, I need the tiniest pinprick of product - any more and I end up overdoing it. This has so far led to a lot of product wastage, since I find the pump makes it harder to control how much product comes out of the bottle. It's not ideal. On the other hand, this bottle is 15ml of liquid blush, so I'll probably have plenty long after it goes off, so wasting the product doesn't seem like a huge deal to me right now. The frosted glass bottle is nice anyway, though the stupid cap is that awful black standard NARS plastic that attracts every smudge known to humankind. I tried to clean it off before taking pictures. I was not successful.

Dolce Vita, paired with Besame 1969 Dusty Rose on my lips and Kevyn Aucoin Candelight on my cheekbones.

The other blush I picked up was the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Diffused Heat, which is described as "a vibrant poppy blush combined with Diffused Light for a subtle halo effect." I'm still completely in love with Mood Exposure, which I picked up in the 2016 Sephora fall sale, so I decided I wanted to try out another of the range. I don't love Diffused Heat quite as much as Mood Exposure (probably because Mood Exposure goes with everything ever), but Diffused Heat is still a really incredible blush: finely milled, long lasting, looks absolutely radiant on my skin, and wonderfully flattering. The only thing I wasn't prepared for was the noticeable glitter in the pan. It doesn't seem to be noticeable on my skin, but I was taken aback when I saw it.

Diffused Heat

I haven't been restrained at all when it comes to highlighter acquisition this year, so it was not unexpected that I picked up a highlighter in this sale. What is vaguely unexpected is the subtlety of this one. The Kevyn Aucoin The Celestial Highlighter in Candlelight has been touted as one of the best highlighters for a glowy, natural, look, sans glitter or obvious shimmer. It's just a lovely, natural light on the face. It's a cool enough gold that it blends well into my skin, it's soft and finely milled, and it blends beautifully. 

I am so bad taking pictures of highlighter. I swear it's there. Check the other blush photos for more.

The final thing in my order, and possibly the thing that I was most excited for, is the Besame mini lipstick set. I was blown away by Besame's formula when I got Tango Red a couple years ago, and have wanted to try others, especially since Renee confirmed that the formula was incredibly consistent across the range. But I couldn't decide exactly what I want, and they're also pretty terrible at keeping them in stock on Sephora, so every time I had almost decided, the ones I was looking at were out of stock. This quietly went live on Sephora just before the sale, and I snapped it up. Five mini lipsticks in that great formula? Yes please. Overall, I'm still really happy with it. I have a few contenders for full sizes once I finish the mini tubes. I probably didn't need to have all those reds...but I didn't really need to make this order, either, so...

The one disappointment from this set has been 1930 Noir Red. I've been agonizing over it on Instagram and have come to the conclusion that it doesn't work well on me - it pulls entirely too brown on me, and while the formula is as smooth, pigmented and tenacious as the others, it's not a flattering colour on me. 

1930 Noir Red

When it comes to the pure reds in this set, 1946 Red Velvet and 1935 Cherry Red, I think I like Cherry Red ever so slightly more. Both are wonderful, beautiful, vibrant reds, but the slightly cooler tone of Cherry Red looks more striking on me and dare I say it? Might be my red, the red that looks better than all other reds. Red Velvet is still lovely, however.

1935 Cherry Red

1946 Red Velvet

1970 Chocolate Kiss was the sleeper hit for me. I don't think the reddish brown is as flattering on me as other colours, but I really dig it anyway. It's a really interesting, complex colour, much more so than I expected. This will be a full size purchase when I finish the mini tube (and I'm pretty sure I will!).

1970 Chocolate Kiss

And lastly 1969 Dusty Rose. This one has been getting the most wear time of the set, partially because I love how it pulls to more of a berry on me and also because I find it pairs really well with NARS liquid blush in Dolce Vita. Also a full size purchase in the future - it's flattering, long wearing, fades evenly, and is thus perfect for work, when I pretend that I'm more straight-laced than I am (cat-print and red lipstick forever). 

1969 Dusty Rose

(I keep using the years, FYI, because that's what are on the bottom of the tubes for labels, so I'm trying to imprint the years into my brain alongside the colour. Is it working? Kind of.)

I'm not going to say a ton about the Sephora + Hakuhodo brush, because that collection is two years old and has been on clearance for at least a year. I picked up the wedge powder brush (full price) and the highlighter brush (on clearance) and decided to grab the cheek brush since I could always use another blush brush...or I am lazy and don't want to wash my brushes too much. I liked the other two brushes I got - they're very soft and high quality, so I grabbed this cheek brush and am equally as happy with it. 

Shh, it needs to be washed.

I am overall very pleased with how this purchase went. It's a good reminder that a well-researched splurge is preferable to a bunch of impulse purchases over time, and that this is what I'd rather do. Soooo...April sale planning, here I come!


  1. I love the Besame lipsticks on you! I think Dusty Rose is my favorite with your coloring, but (imo) even Noir Red isn't bad. It's a lot of look for sure, and I can understand why you might not feel comfortable in it, but I think it could work with some heavier eye makeup. It really complements your eyes.

    You know how I feel about Paaarty, but I hated the liquid lipstick. It was too warm to work as a nude lip for me, and I found the powdery finish annoying. It looks great on you, though.

    1. I'm still surprised how much I like Birthday Suit. I didn't have very high hopes for it, and had basically ignored all reviews of the Lip Paints, but I'm really very happy with it.

      I think my problem with Noir Red is that it pulls too brown on me. I'll have to try it with heavier eye makeup, though then I feel like my face is overwhelmed. Meh, that's what weekends are for.

  2. I've never actually participated in a Sephora sale because I'm such a Shoppers loyalist. I buy stuff from Sephora so rarely, and it never seems to line up with the sale. I truly wish Shoppers would get a few more brands (namely Hourglass and ABH) so I never have to set foot in a Sephora again. BUT I cannot deny that the sale is a great opportunity if you can take advantage of it!

    I regret that I went for the Caudalie gift instead of Tarte! I had no interest in the liquid lipstick and I was pretty sure I had enough blush, but I have seen so many raves about the blush that I'm having some FOMO. The Caudalie stuff was nice for travel but very lacklustre generally. I'll go with the Bite one this year, not that my birthday is anytime soon.

    Diffused Heat was my first Hourglass blush and what got me into the line! Obviously I prefer Mood Exposure (I think I've worn it every day for the last 2 weeks...) but Diffused Heat is great with my corals/warm reds in the summer. I recommend Luminous Flush for a really pretty pinky peach - it looks good on fair skin and goes with a lot. That is, if you want to get more ALBs... this is just my completely unsolicited suggestion, haha.

    I agree that Cherry Red looks especially great on you! I agree with AB that you could make Noir Red work with heavier makeup to balance it a bit more. I find that when I wear dark browns I have to wear a lot of eye makeup and a bit of extra blush or it just draws all the colour out of my face.

    1. I would be more of a Shoppers loyalist with regard to beauty if a) the Beauty Boutiques here were bigger/better and b) if the two Shoppers in town weren't on the other side of the river! This is the first time in my life I've not lived within spitting distance of a Shoppers and my Optimum points accumulation these last two years has demonstrated that very clearly.

      ALBs are so great. I want to finish some of my cream and liquid blushes before I cast an eye to others (or at least try) but I will definitely keep Luminous Flush in mind.

      I've got to play around with Noir Red some more to see if I can find a look to suit me. Or I'll commit to being the gothest librarian I can be.


Collection Inventory: Red Lip Products

Kicking off my collection inventory project with the most ridiculous category of makeup I own: red lipsticks. I have a lot, as determined by...