Friday, February 27, 2015

Splurge Or Save: Nude Eye Liner

Nude Eyeliner Comparison
Today I'm comparing the NARS Larger Than Life Long-Wear Eyeliner in Rue Bonaparte - light almond ($29) to the RIMMEL LONDON ScandalEyes Waterproof Kohl Eyeliner in Nude (~$9). 

A nude shade of eyeliner is applied to the waterline (see the arrow in the photo below) to brighten up the eye and erase any redness that tends to appear in that area. If you're wearing a darker eye look, with lots of shadow and mascara on the lower lash line, using a nude eyeliner makes the whites of your eye appear larger, opening up your face and keeping the dark makeup from making your eyes appear smaller.



NARS (twist-up pencil)
- Intense colour, easy application 
- Sharpener included in in the bottom cap

Rimmel (sharpen pencil)
- Very creamy, nice pigmentation 
- Not as long-lasting

As you can see in the photo to the right, The Rimmel liner is a shade or two darker than the NARS option. For my skin tone, NARS Rue Bonaparte is quite "brightening". The Rimmel pencil is too dark to give me that bright look.

I've actually tried the black versions of both of these pencils, and can confidently say that they are nearly identical. The NARS liner is creamer in general and lasts longer before the pencil dries out. I've noticed that you can't keep the Rimmel eyeliners for very long since the cap doesn't have a super tight seal and the formula turns dry and flaky around the one year mark. But they both work great within the first few months. 


Final Verdict: I probably wouldn't splurge or save if I were looking to make the purchase again. It's just too high-maintenance of a step for me at the moment. But for the sake of this review, I'd splurge since it doesn't even seem worth using the Rimmel pencil on my skin - the effect is barely evident.

Note: I've also heard of people using a nude eyeliner to trace around a dark lipstick to keep the edges sharp and the colour in place.

For any of you with a very light skin tone, go for the NARS pencil if you really want to erase all redness for a brighter eye look. For anyone with a darker skin tone than me, I'm sure you'd notice a significant enough difference with the Rimmel liner. 

xx

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Review: Wet n Wild Silk Finish Lipstick

Wet n Wild Silk Finish Lipsticks - Photo courtesy of Kelly from Vampy Varnish (click here to see her review)
I have never been a confident lipstick wearer. Light colours make me feel washed out, and the thought of a dark colour smudging all over the place gives me anxiety. I usually stick to something like a Clinique Chubby Stick (review here) for lip colour, but my feelings are beginning to change.

The newly reformulated wet n wild Silk Finish Lipsticks are gorgeous. They make a ton of shades (like 25) and the new formula is absolutely divine. They have included Vitamin A & E, Aloe Vera, and Macadamia Nut Oil, which are all repairing and moisturizing for the lips. Of course these lipsticks don't feel as slippy as a lip balm, but they definitely do not dry out your lips like the typical formulas I steer clear of. For that super balmy feel, I'd highly recommend the Balm Stains, also from wet n wild. (more on those coming soon)

The pigmentation is consistent and rich for each and every colour, both with the creamy finishes and the more shimmery ones. If you build up the colour, like in my swatches below, the lipsticks have a definite sheen to them. If you apply just a small bit (like you'll see in my Clinique review here and on Instagram here) the finish is practically matte.

Here are the select few I decided to try on my fair complexion:

Top Row: 503C Will you be with me?  507C Blushing Bali,  542B Hot Paris Pink
Bottom Row: 518D Nouveau Pink, 522A Dark Wine, 524F Duneberry 

The only downside, in my opinion, is the packaging. This is also a new feature, but I honestly prefer the old version better. This U shape cap doesn't close very tightly, and the lipstick bullet tends to hit the inside of the cap since it doesn't twist down all the way. I also noticed this problem with the MegaLast lispsticks, reviewed here.

Overall, I would highly recommend these long-lasting, highly affordable lipsticks. They can now be found at Loblaws and Walmart for only $1.99 in Canada. They're best friend/mom-approved too! Everyone is loving them.

See more thoughts in the video linked here: http://youtu.be/RpUJtzpG7kk



xx

Monday, February 23, 2015

What I've Bought

Recent Purchases

In anticipation of Spring, I did a bit of shopping these past few weeks and decided to share some of the highlights. The items still available for purchase are linked above, via Polyvore.


I have been seeing rave reviews everywhere about the Clarins Instant Concealer and the limited edition Instant Light Lip comfort Oil in 02 raspberry. So naturally, I caved. The Bay was running a promotion for Chinese New Year so I got a little bag of deluxe size samples, along with a backup of my favourite self tanner and a fantastic mini facial.

I also got the new Nivea In-Shower Body Milk in a gift bag after watching a live taping of The Social downtown with my mom. I've seen really great reviews, and it seems to be like a less fancy (and affordable) version of my beloved Ro's Argan Body Conditioner from LUSH.

Next come some purchases from a short trip to the States. I got a cute little water bottle from GAP (CamelBak lookalike!) and a small polka dot Totes umbrella from Target. These were both on clearance for under $10, and the umbrella comes with a lifetime warranty. Score.

Also from target, I finally found the double bar bobby slides from Goody. These are high quality bobby pins that look really pretty and hold a good amount of hair in place.

From Walgreens I found this gorgeous Sally Hansen nail polish in the shade Babe Blue, for under $3! Tip: Sign-up online for a Walgreens account and remember the phone number you register with - this allows you to get "members only" discounts in-store. I always save at least a dollar when I get stuff from there now.

Finally, Nordstrom Rack. The last time I shopped at a Nordstrom Rack was back in 2012, and I hit a real goldmine. This time was no different. I found two pairs of perfectly fitting shoes, that are making me crave some warmer weather. These Steve Madden gladiator sandals came to $35 and fit like a dream. They're all leather and are made in Italy. The d'Orsay flats are Franco Sarto, and were $50. I could only find them online at Macy's for the regular price of $127. (Again, score.)

I also hit up the thrift store and found some cozy sweaters, various gold frames, vases and handbags, but that's not unusual of me. I just can't get enough of the second-hand gems. Sanitized, of course.

Now off to dream of Spring...

xx

Friday, February 20, 2015

Review: CLINIQUE All About Shadow 8-Pan Palette


Ever since their release at the end of 2014, I've had my eye on the new Clinique palettes. Reviews have been nothing but positive and I love the classic minimalism of Clinique's brand in general.

The All About Shadow 8-Pan Palettes ($40 CAD) are a permanent addition to Clinique's line, and I was able to try the Wear Everywhere Greys this past month. There are five palettes, each with eight powder eyeshadows in both matte and shimmer finishes. Greys, Nudes, Green, Pinks and Blues are covered in the range, so there is definitely an option for everyone.


They come in a super sleek, slim silver package (that doubles as a mirror on the go!) with a foam applicator and a large mirror on the inside.

These shadows are extremely high quality. Too many times I've tried palettes from high-end brands that cost upwards of $50, and come across a few duds in the mix. I can honestly say that every shade in this palette is great. I usually opt for warmer tones, like browns and pinks, so I was ecstatic to see that these grey tones are actually quite neutral - they don't look dull and blue on the skin.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Splurge or Save: Liquid Liner Pens

Splurge or Save Liner Pens


I have been testing and comparing two liquid liner pens recently: Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner in black vs. Maybelline Eye Studio Master Precise Ink Pen Eyeliner in black. With the Stila option costing nearly 3x as much as Maybelline, is it worth splurging or saving?

Stila vs. Maybelline after around 8 hours of wear

Breakdown

Stila

- Leather-like finish that doesn't budge
- Secure closure with a spring tight cap
- Very thin tip, yet still flexible

Maybelline 

- Smudgeable finish, easier to correct
- Slightly less precise tip


I'd say that both pens last for the same amount of time before drying out (~3 months with daily use)

Since I don't have very strong features, I usually stay away from dark black gel or liquid liner unless I'm doing full fancy makeup. I've really been enjoying the Maybelline Eye Studio pen since I can apply a thinner line, then smudge it out a bit to reduce the impact. The Stila Stay All Day liner does not smudge - it flakes off if you try to move it after application. But the finish is very sleek and long lasting, compared to Maybelline which can dull out throughout the day (I always wear eye shadow primer to avoid smudging).

TIP: Store liner pens horizontal in a drawer or bag as opposed to upright in a cup, to keep the tip saturated with eyeliner.        

Considering how liquid liner is not part of my daily makeup routine, I would save with the Maybelline pen. Since they dry out so quick, it would only be worth splurging if you wear liquid liner daily and need to achieve a very precise outer flick. Both are fantastic products, in my opinion.

xx

Monday, February 16, 2015

HowTo Have A Great Spa Night


Spa nights are a big part of my life. Once per week I make an effort to take an hour or two in the evening to run a bath, do some beauty maintenance and really nourish my hair, skin and nails. February totally sucks every year, so this is the perfect time to show yourself some lve by reducing those stress levels and maintaining healthy skin.

I don't really like candles, so instead I'll diffuse essential oils using my electric salt lamp (similar here). I'll put a bit of water into the top cup, then add a few drops of eucalyptus and sweet orange. This mix is both stimulating and relaxing, perfect for an evening bath.

Gommage 

Much like the French, I take exfoliation very seriously. I use a very gentle Clarisonic brush head and a cleanser on my face and neck each night, with the addition of chemical exfoliants at least every other day. (See my fave BHA here and Enzyme here, which I use with my Clarisonic

A simple way to achieve smooth, flake-free skin on the body is by mixing a simple carrier oil with salt. I like almond oil and pink Himalayan salt - both available at any heath food store for only a few dollars. Use this mixture in the bath, since a slippery shower can get dangerous. Be sure to wash the tub afterwards since there will be residue left behind.

*Note: fragrances (even natural ones) can irritate the skin. Be careful with bubble bath products since soaking in a synthetic cocktail of sparkles and suds may do more harm than good.

If you use oils in the tub, you don't always need to follow up with a moisturizer. That's why this step is ideal for winter- hop out of the warm water and quickly wrap yourself up in a cozy robe.


Hair

Hair, like the skin, is absorbent. It cannot absorb silicone since those molecules are too big. So instead, they will coat the hair and give it a slippery feel, which is really only beneficial for taming frizz. 

When looking into a "repairing" and "moisturizing" hair mask, opt for pure oils (like coconut or argan) which your hair will actually absorb. Popular drugstore treatments usually contain silicone polymers like dimethicone as the first ingredient, after water. These ingredients are not harmful, they're simply a barrier which help your skin or hair retain the water it absorbs, instead of having it evaporate and dry out.


Friday, February 13, 2015

Glittery Valentine's Day Manicure



Couldn't you see Dorothy donning this glitzy red mani on her way down the yellow brick road? It matches her pretty pumps perfectly!

Nail art has been one of my favourite pastimes, and I hate that I don't do it more often. With oodles of school work due this week, I managed to squeeze in a simple Valentine's day mani complete with a (nearly) perfect heart accent.

Like my typical routine, outlined here, I started with clean, smooth nails quickly wiped down with rubbing alcohol. I used my favourite base coat, OPI Nail Envy, and only one coat of the following colours: Wet n Wild French White Crème and Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Red My Lips. I used a simple dotting tool to create the heart, and topped off the red polish with some fantastic glitter from L.A. Girl in Animate that I picked up from Winners years ago.

My top coat of choice KM is Out The Door and I used a new Sheer Tint Top Coat from OPI to really deepen that red glitter on the other nails. It's pretty thick but dries quickly, so it gave the glitter a smooth finish.

For an easier method of heart drawing, check out my manicure from last Valentine's day, linked here. Like always, give your nails sufficient time to dry between each thin coat. When brushing a top coat over any design, make sure your brush has a good amount of polish on it before swiping very quickly over the nail, trying not to drag the bristles across the base colour.

Happy Valentine's day beauties!
xx

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sweetease Wax Strips

SWEETEASE Kit for face, legs and bikini with some "fuzzy" peaches 
First and foremost, I must state my thankfulness for being blonde. I don't have thick hair, but I do have a lot of it. (extra insulation, right?)

Over the years I've tried multiple methods of hair removal. I'm one of the few who does like using an epilator for the underarms, which I wouldn't recommend unless you have very thin, sparse hair.

So I'm on and off with waxing. As a student, the financial burden is real and I don't always have the willpower to rip my own shins off. So I'll usually stick to the good 'ol Hydro 5 razor when I wanna feel smooth.

At a press event a few weeks back, the lovely "waxing guru" Alley introduced me to a few waxing products from SweetEase and Parissa. I'm definitely a fan of the Parissa $20 Organic Sugar Cane Wax (thanks big sis for letting me test it on you!) but today, I'm talking about a slightly more convenient product.

SWEETEASE wax strips (sweet-ease, sweeties, sweet-tease) come in three sizes: face, legs, bikini, and they're available at Walmart.

Who is this for? 
- Those who need to wax in a pinch, especially for the upper lip and legs
- Those who hate messes, and cannot be bothered to use sugar wax and wash the strips
- Teens who are new to waxing

APPLICATION
1. 20 mins before, take an Advil (ibuprofen) NOT Aspirin- you want the anti-inflammatory properties of Advil to reduce irritation, pain and redness, but not thinned out blood before waxing.

2. DO NOT wash your skin- the natural oil is necessary to let the wax stick to the hair, not your skin. (Washing is required for sugar wax, though)

3. Avoid the week of ovulation and the week following. The first week of your cycle post-flow is your skin's least sensitive time to be waxed. You could expect bleeding from the follicle otherwise.

4. DO NOT GET THE WAX STUCK TO ANY SURFACES. Please. Be careful. It took me an hour to get one stupid strip off the floor.

5. Warm the strips - I placed mine under a heating blanket since I'm far too lazy to do the hand-rub action, shown in the image to the left. Make sure the two papers come apart smoothly, without that ticking and resistance of cold wax.

6. Press firmly onto the furry surface, then RIP OFF FAST! Remove any sticky residue with the "after wax wipe".


Monday, February 9, 2015

When Cosmetics ACTUALLY Expire

Here's the rule of thumb: texture, colour, scent.

1. Note the state of these three factors when you purchase a product.
2. Keep the date of purchase written on the bottom if you're forgetful.
3. Never hesitate to check when the product was manufactured using the databases on Check Fresh or Check Cosmetics.

Batch/Lot code for Check Cosmetics type sites, EXP for sun protection and general "best before"

SPF 
Companies must put expiry dates on products with sun protection, since that is the one factor which will 100% lose efficacy post date. A good trick is to toss most sunscreens within the year it is opened, and most definitely once the expiry date has passed. You only have one skin for your entire life - don't get sunburned.

Makeup
Powder products like blush, eyeshadow, and bronzer are typically fine for years. Again, abide by the texture colour and scent. If you never wash your makeup brushes and powders, you may notice a shiny, dark crust developing on the surface of the product. This is a buildup of oil, dirt and possible bacteria which has been absorbed by the powder. Scrape it off using a clean spooly brush (free at Sephora) and please, WASH YOUR BRUSHES. (see my methods here)

Note: Keep a spray bottle filled with rubbing alcohol to spray on the interior and exterior of any dry makeup product. It will not disturb the powder/cream and it will kill bacteria. This is great for lipsticks - if they haven't started to smell toxic and develop a fuzzy coating, keep lipsticks fresh and clean with a quick swipe of rubbing alcohol on a paper towel.

Creams like foundation, lip gloss and concealer should be finished within the year. If it's in a pump bottle or tube, give it 2. Separating of the pigment and base oil/water will most likely happen within a year. Anything with a doe foot applicator needs to hit the trash sooner - bacteria from your skin, blemishes, mouth, etc. will thrive in creamy tubes.

Eyes
Let me preface this by saying that I am one of the lucky few who has never experienced any kind of eye infection. I can attribute it to being anti-sharing, frequent hand washing, and luck.

Mascara - 4 months with constant use, 1 year MAX if you are a clean freak.
Liner - sharpen often and swipe a piece of cotton with rubbing alcohol over the tip to sanitize. Also, get that alcohol paper towel into gel liner pots if someone else uses it.

Don't forget to toss all dip-tubes and sanitize solid products if you ever get an eye infection!

Hair Care, Fragrance, Nail Polish
Use your common sense - I don't set a time limit since you don't need to. Hair products are no concern, fragrance usually has a date printed (1-2 years) and nail polish dries up or separates within 5 years. Always keep fragrances hidden from the sun, since light is the biggest culprit for changing scent and colour. You can find nail polish thinner at beauty supply stores to extend the life of a thickening formula. Also, don't buy the claim that nail polish "expires" - those solvents can kill anything.

Skincare
The most common signs of expiration in cosmetics also follow the texture, colour, scent rule: oil separating in creams, gels drying out, fragrances turning rancid, oils going cloudy, grey spots developing, etc. All of this = product is going bad. After a year, use up quick or say goodbye.

Jars
Keep in mind that any product in a jar is VERY likely to lose its effectiveness as time goes on.

"The ingredients most beneficial for your skin are not stable, which means they won't be effective if exposed to light and air, which is exactly what happens when you take the lid off a jar. No matter how great the formula, it all begins to break down when you first open it! There is also the issue of hygiene; dipping your fingers into a jar transfers bacteria from your hands into the product, and that causes the important ingredients to further deteriorate." - Paula's Choice

So in general, stick to tubes.

Every year, I try to use up my entire stock of opened products. I very rarely keep an opened product for more than 2 years. Most skincare products that I put onto my face expire in 6-12 months anyways, so I always pay attention to dates and pass items off to friends and family who could use them in time. Why put a separated, rancid lotion on your face when it could make any skin issue 10x worse? JUST TOSS IT!

You can do it, babes.
xx

Friday, February 6, 2015

New Year, New Empties


With so many new 2015 product launches happening right now, I started my spring cleaning in January and a big part of it took place underneath my sink. Here are the products I used up over the last few months of 2014, and thoughts on if I'd repurchase or not.

 Smiths Minted Rose Lip Balm - This is a fantastic lip balm to use before bed, or any time throughout the day. I've purchased the regular Rosebud Salve to try out now.

✓ Kiehl's Ultimate Strength Hand Salve - I got a bit tired of the eucalyptus scent, but this is a very good hand product in general.

 L'Occitane Foot Cream - This lavender lotion is thick and balmy, perfect for dry and tired feet.

 Lush Eau Roma Water - This is a fine product, but just a "special" version of something like Thayers Witch Hazel. I'd recommend saving money and just picking up that instead.

 Bliss Clog Dissolving Cleansing Milk - I wouldn't repurchase this as a face wash, since I wasn't satisfied with its cleansing abilities (doesn't foam up, so it won't remove any makeup). For a 10-minute enzyme exfoliating mask, it worked well. If that's what you're looking for, be sure to pop into Sephora to try out the weird citrus-milk scent beforehand.

 Avène Soothing Moisture Mask - Just try it. Thank me later. (reviewed here)

 Monoprix Deodorant - I don't like the sticky feeling of liquid deodorants, so this is a no.

✓ Avène Light Hydrating Cream - I love this lightweight moisturizer during the day even though it is expensive in Canada.

 Weleda Citrus Creamy Body Wash - This is a fantastic body wash. I am using a new tube now and I will continue to repurchase. You can read more on it here.

 Garnier Fructis Volume Extend Instant Bodifier - Don't waste money, buy Klorane dry shampoo instead.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Review: Clinique Chubby Stick Moisturizing Lip Colour Balm

Clinique Chubby Stick in 02 Whole Lotta Honey, 06 Woppin' Watermelon and 07 Super Strawberry

5 years ago, I remember popping into Sephora after school to track down Clinique Chubby Sticks. The first of its kind, these lipstick/lip balm hybrids started a trend that is still being copied today. I can't believe I've never done a post solely on these pretty lippies, since they're by far my favourite lip product on the market.

Chubby Sticks are formulated with "comforting oils and butters to relieve dry lips and provide immediate and long-term moisturization" - Clinique

When my lips feel dry, I definitely don't want to smear a lipstick on them, which I know will just make the dryness worse. Believe it or not, Chubby Sticks are actually a lip balm.

Here are the ingredients: 
Castor seed oil, caprylic/capric triglyceride, vegetable oil, candelilla wax, beeswax, ozokerite, shea butter, hydrogenated vegetable oil, jojoba seed oil, tocopherol, mango seed butter, meadowfoam seed oil, hydrogenated olive oil, sunflower seed oil, and colour pigments

The oils will add moisture to dry lips while the wax adheres to keep the colour intact for hours. The product stays balmy, not sticky so it won't trap your hair on a windy day. And most importantly, the vibrant, natural tint doesn't require a mirror to apply. Since they don't leave a stain, you can apply Chubby Sticks like a regular balm, or layer for a more intense look.

I'm all about Whole Lotta Honey these days, since it's the perfect warm nude to go with any look. Whoppin' Watermelon is my go-to baby pink and Super Strawberry gives your lips that perfect "I just ate a popsicle" tint. With 16 shades available, you'll be sure to find a few favourites in this line. The coolest part is that they're made in Canada.

If you love the Chubby Stick concept, check out the new Intense Moisturizing Balms, Baby Tint BalmsCheek Colour Balms, and Shadow Tints For Eyes. They even have a contour and highlight stick for the makeup artists of the world.

xx

Monday, February 2, 2015

January Favourites


Now that January is in the books, I decided to round up a few favourites that have really stood out within the past few weeks.

1. Clarins Liquid Bronze Self Tanning Lotion & EcoTools Blush Brush

This is the best tanner for the face. It has aloe and vitamin E to help calm and heal the skin, and it doesn't leave too much "tanner scent" behind. I started to apply it with a brush, and haven't looked back. The EcoTools blush brush works great at applying product evenly and leaving my hands free of orange stains.

2. Miracle 10 Toner 1

This witch hazel and aloe vera based toner is a fantastic product, especially for those with sensitive skin. It's very gentle and refreshing, just like my Thayer's Witch Hazel toner (with aloe vera) but amped up with a few extra ingredients.

3. Bumble and Bumble B.b Texture Hair (Un) Dressing Creme

I've been perfecting my overnight hair styling routine, which now consists of washing at night, throwing in a big dollop of this cream (root to tip) then doing two french braids or leaving it to air-dry. The B.b Undressing cream gives my hair weightless texture and a nice amount of hold for those wavy styles. There's also a ton in the tube, so it's a great value.

4. Covergirl Flamed Out Mascara

This stuff rules. With its curvy figure 8 brush, I never hit my eyelid when applying this super black mascara. I haven't noticed flaking and my curl tends to last all day.

5. Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer & Wet n Wild Foundation Brush (review)

My makeup routine has been seriously simplified this month, so I've swapped out foundation for this creamy concealer. I only apply it to my t-zone and under the eyes, since my skin doesn't need much coverage overall. I love the finish and vanilla seems to be my perfect match. Their colour range is great.

See the video here for more details: http://youtu.be/fOF-tvSNMdc

xx
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