Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Beauty No-Buy until January 2016

I actually don't have that much to say about the no-buy itself as a plan. It's full-stop no beauty purchase until 2016. That means not only no makeup but no skincare, no hair things, no perfumes, nada. I don't want to find loopholes around it, and I am not even going to redeem points for freebies unless I run out of a necessity like shower gel or face lotion. It means no Sephora VIB sale in November, no x% back on Ebates (although you should use my referral link to sign up if you shop frequently online), no cross-border/holiday shopping, NOTHING. January isn't a random date either. I plan on skipping holiday shopping as well, unless obviously I'm buying for others.

What is spurring this crazy commitment? Well, I think that I've just about had enough with my own junkie behaviour. It was okay while I was experimenting a lot and trying different looks and techniques, but that's sort of simmered down as of late and I want to focus my energies in other directions. (What that is is yet to be determined but I'll never get there if all I'm doing is mooning over makeup. I'll likely pick up a course or two this year and try my hand at a new skill or discipline.) By now I know what sort of stuff I like and don't like. I know what my habits are (lazy) and inclinations are (natural, "no makeup makeup"). I've also become open-minded to looks that I would not have dared when I first began this blog -- and weirdly, now that I can wear strong or strange colours without feeling terribly insecure, I don't really care about acquiring those things as much.

Sure, I want pretty new things, of course. I always want pretty new things. And the biggest temptation for me is definitely sales/bargains. If I stop to look in a shop, I'll surely find something worth buying. I see something enticing and already my brain is thinking up a hundred reasons for why I deserve it. And please know one thing: I'm not denying myself this year because I don't deserve nice things. I'm saying no because I already have so many nice things. I don't need L'Oreal to tell me that I'm worth it. I know that I am. I am also worth more than the continual self-gift of makeup.

I also think that saying no to press samples has really paved the way to coming to terms with the amount of things I own. When free products were landing at the door all the time, I had the excuse of saying that blogging left me overwhelmed and that being disorganized was somehow inevitable given the crazy number of products rotating in and out. I have literally said no to everything coming my way since May and I still find myself with overcrowded cabinets, drawers and boxes. Some people are great about getting rid of things and purging regularly but I've always had a bad hoarding habit and never really kicked it. Currently I'm working hard at it, slowly but surely. Somewhere within all this is a future post about the self and creation of identities tied with belongings and material wealth, but I'm sure you've read similar posts on other blogs or maybe even entire books on such subjects. I find myself still in the learning process.

So, basically, I hope to have purged and decluttered quite a bit by January. And spurred on by this no-buy, I will give more appreciation to the things that I own and wean myself off the habit of making purchases to make myself feel better about a bad day or an aspect of my life or sense of being. To be honest, until now I didn't want to do anything permanent about it. Even the original premise of this blog and all the previous tactics and attempts at reducing were half-measures at best. Maybe that was because I did them out of some sort of guilt or obligation, and worst of all, expected to be held accountable by making my weakness public. But now... I just want to, and I don't feel anxious or sad or anything like that. It just feels right.

That's all. I just want to clean up and move on to the next thing. I may or may not update throughout this process. They may come in forms of tweets or Instagram pics instead, and there are a couple of blog sales ahead to help with the decluttering bit. (One coming up shortly and another later in winter.) I should also note that the no-buy isn't for the purpose of rewarding myself afterwards with more things. If anything, I hope to extend the no-buy even further and be able to let go of more things. I have no intention of going all-out minimalist, but somewhere between this and that, there's a healthy balance that I can be happier with. I'm already happier just thinking about it and very much looking forward to enjoying that new stage.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Berry Lips for Fall 2015 plus a mini round of LIPSTICK SURVIVOR

There are three colour families that I want to work during this upcoming fall/winter season: berries/ plum, rosy neutrals and reds (both sheer and opaque). Nothing groundbreaking here. After countless experimenting and fussing around with different brands and formulas, I'm content to rest in the knowledge that I have some damn good lipsticks in my stash and that they need to be worn more frequently. As usual, there's going to be a return to jewel tones and neutrals for the long, cold seasons ahead, and the lip shades I've chosen are complementary to those palettes.

Today I have the berry/plum picks to mull over. The only new lipstick that joined the group this year is Bite Beauty's limited edition Canada-only Matte Creme Lipstick in Mulled Maple. More on that in detail at the end of this post.

Ah, there's nothing like a row of nicely coordinated lipstick bullets, even though I honestly think that I have about three tubes too many here to do each any proper justice.

From left to right: Dior Pied-de-Poule (LE), Hourglass Nocturnal, Bite Mulled Maple, MAC Fashion Revival (LE), MAC Rebel and MAC Amorous.

In the same order as above, from left to right: Dior Pied-de-Poule (LE), Hourglass Nocturnal, Bite Mulled Maple, MAC Fashion Revival (LE), MAC Rebel and MAC Amorous.

Again, in different lighting: Dior Pied-de-Poule (LE), Hourglass Nocturnal, Bite Mulled Maple, MAC Fashion Revival (LE), MAC Rebel and MAC Amorous.

Dior PdP is my glam shade, Hourglass Nocturnal is the everyday shade, Bite is going back to Sephora (!!!), Fashion Revival may get the boot (again) because as much as I like it, it's not Hourglass Empress aka "BOW, BITCHES," MAC Rebel is an all-time fave, and MAC Amorous is the moody shade that I want to get to know a little better.

And now, more on Bite Mulled Maple, this season's hottie/forbidden fruit. I think that all the Canadians are looking longingly at the US-only Frozen Berry lipsticks while the Americans are panting for the Maples. It's sort of fun but also kind of silly. Why can't we all have all of them?!?

I don't know what Bite's typical mattes or cremes or matte cremes feel like, but this one is SUPER creamy, very opaque and very easy to get wrong on first swipe. It's big-time buttery and almost impossible to get a clean line on its own -- I only barely managed because the tube is still new with a sharp tip. Once it dulls down, I will have to invest in a lip liner to keep from occurrences of clown mouth. And I don't want to do that. While the shade is lovely (more purple and vampier in person) and the formula comfortable on lips, leaving behind a bright pink stain, I don't think that I will end up wearing it much if at all due to the troublesome application. I guess a lip brush will do but I can't remember the last time I reached for a lip brush to put something on.

I have an overly filtered full face shot of it worn here which toned down the effect quite a bit. While I am confident that I can pull it off, I am not confident of actually reaching for it often enough to warrant the price I paid. I don't know what I was thinking. I'm in the middle of a huge declutter, having put off LIPSTICK SURVIVOR for months now, and then I fall prey to all the flaff from a brand that I don't even like, just because I like the maple packaging on the BOX and the sweet maple scent of the lipstick. Hello, I can just eat maple syrup instead. And put on Pied-de-Poule. And pick real maple leaves off the lawn in a month or two. Enough with this limited edition nonsense already.

LIPSTICK SURVIVOR losers: Bite Beauty Mulled Maple, MAC Fashion Revival.

And I may as well mention this while my resolve is strong. I'm on a total beauty no-buy until January 2016. And I'm not looking for loopholes or anything like that. Obvious exception is if I happen to completely run out of something necessary like moisturizer, but I probably have enough of everything to last me an entire year or more. What I'm challenging myself to do is to ignore sales and the continual stimulus of unnecessary new purchases. Maybe I'll do a full post on this to better explain the rationale behind it. But know that a hard line has been drawn and there's no backing out. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Upgrading Makeup Brushes (Boring Brush Chat)

I'm sitting here in a sort of semi-panic because summer is almost over. There's no denying that back-to-school feeling in the air, and fall fashion has completely taken over the shops. My local dollar store brought out the Halloween stuff and I wanted to choke somebody. To distract myself from committing assault and thinking too hard about passing time/seasonal changes, I made a fabulous pork chop dinner and have now sat down to a glass of cognac on the rocks to pound out what has now become the weekly blog post.

Back in winter (yuck; shivers) I signed up for Beautylish emails and fell prey to their newcomer discount + free shipping offer. After spending days looking up swatches for Charlotte Tilbury makeup (which only landed in Canada this summer), I decided to be a little more "practical" and upgrade makeup brushes instead. As a self-proclaimed blush nut, I figured it was way past time I got a nice XYZ animal-hair cheek brush. As you can see, I picked out Chikuhodo Passion Series Cheek and Highlight brushes (USD$38 + $29 respectively) as well as a Wayne Goss Brush 02 (USD$35). I really only wanted two brushes but felt compelled to meet Beautylish's minimum amount to receive both the discount and free shipping. In hindsight I should have stuck to the original plan because one of these is now getting the boot.

I add my voice to the chorus of praise for Beautylish's speedy and safe delivery as well as outstanding customer service. The brushes arrived safely wrapped and bundled as shown below.

Now, brush reviews make my eyes roll backwards in boredom because I could care less what hairs the bristles are made of and what length the hairs and handles are. You can get the specs on the Beautylish page for each brush here, here and here. What I care about are the following: where they're made (all three are from Japan), that they do the job, don't shed and be very soft. And obviously they need to last a long time given how much they cost. Up until this point, I hated spending money on makeup tools and relied mostly on some Sephora brand, MAC, Sonia Kashuk and Real Techniques. And I really really hate being a brush snob, but I don't regret upgrading and now cannot go back to just the regular whatevers when it comes to blush and powder brushes.

All three are superbly soft, and upon trying the Chikuhodo cheek brush, I immediately got rid of the super old Sonia Kashuk that was starting to show its age. I rather like the short, stubbier handle of the Passion series as well as their relatively lower price. I don't care for the bright colour of the handle and would prefer something black and sleek like the Wayne Goss, but it's the performance that counts. (Kar Yi's review here really helped solidify my decision.) As for the Chikuhodo highlight brush, there's nothing wrong with it other than the fact that it's a bit too small and flat to suit anything in my current routine. I use a Real Techniques brush for highlighting, and since that's not something that I sweep over wide expanse of skin, I don't care that it's not the softest thing in the world.

And while I'm not a big fan of Wayne Goss (I liked his earlier no-nonsense videos but found myself unsubscribing years ago after tricked by too many BESTEST TIP EVER type of click-baity uploads), I do appreciate the fact that he went to Japan, makeup brush motherland, to produce high-quality brushes that are reliable and worth the higher price. I've completely lost respect for brands like Paul & Joe and Anna Sui that charge an arm and a leg for brushes that they now make in China, so there's my last rant of the day. I use the WG No 2 brush for powdering even though it's shaped like a typical highlight or contour brush. It's super soft like the Chikuhodos, and I like that it's narrow enough to get into the contours of the nose area as well as underneath the eyes without feeling like I'm pounding my face with a giant bear paw. Using a smaller brush to powder also means I'm more precise and gentle about powder application.

And that's it, really. I don't have anything more to say other than that half a year later, I'm more than pleased with the brush purchase and omg thank goodness I did it before the Canadian dollar plummeted to its embarrassing current low. I don't shampoo these brushes often because apparently you're not really supposed to if you want them to last years and years and years. I use a disinfecting spray over tissue or paper towel, gently brush off the tips of the hairs, and go about my merry way until a brush cleaning frenzy takes over -- at which point, I then pull out a dusty bottle of Dr. Bronner liquid soap. Yeah, that wasn't very helpful, so I'm pointing you to Mimi's blog where she has a wonderful tutorial on brush cleaning here and here.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Recent Eye Shadow Discoveries

A lot of beauty bloggers and YouTubers are on a decluttering kick right now, and the trend is rather contagious. I've been putting stuff aside for a massive blog sale as well, but I haven't been as strong-minded as some of my peers. Sometimes I waver and want to go on hoarding.

But it doesn't mean that I can't make new discoveries and share them, right? (Rrrrright.) I urge the hardcore declutterers to close the browser and look away if you don't want to succumb to temptation. Because today I'm going to talk about some good stuff out there that you might want to pick up, if you're in the mood to part with some change.

When I first heard whispers of a "nude" palette from L'Oreal for the drugstore, my response was this: "PFFFFFFFFFFTTTT." L'Oreal used to be my favourite brand from the drugstore, but now I harbour some mixed feelings about them and JEBUS -- have you seen the price of their products lately? Clearly they want to leave the drugstore arena for mid-level. Their La Palette Nude 1 and 2 are priced just as outrageously, at CAD$30 each. That's bordering on Urban Decay territory there, my friends. Fortunately for some of us, Rexall mispriced these palettes at $12.99 during the initial release and the bargain hunter in me couldn't resist picking up both, even though I was more interested in the warm, brown-toned 1 much more than the cooler, purple-toned 2. And I do have to say that the palettes are actually quite nice. We're not talking Wet n Wild or UD level of pigmentation here, but the texture is soft and even without being overly plushy, and the shadows build up nicely without having to work too hard. Best of all, Palette 1 is actually quite close to being "nude" as any neutral palette out there might claim: the shades are soft in tone without being too muted and barely need blending.

If they weren't $30, I'd say go out and grab them. In reality, I say wait for a sale. (Loblaws currently has it for $20!)

You may or may not have noticed that Buxom Cosmetics has jumped on the build-your-own-adventures/palettes and have done a spectacular job of it. There are three pre-made palettes for CAD$50 each, and there's a fourth palette option that allows you to fill it with six shades from a total of 40 individual shades (each shade costs CAD$15 on its own, so getting a palette and filling it pretty much gives you half price). I was all ready to PFFFT at these as well, if my sister hadn't unexpectedly gifted me with Dolly's Wild Side Palette. She basically walked into a Sephora in Portland for the express purpose of gifting me with something and grabbed the first SA who was like, "You MUST get this. It is the BESTEST." My sister gave it to me and regurgitated something about a built-in primer, and I had no idea what she was talking about because this stuff hadn't hit Canada at that point. After I tried wearing a few shades, I was super impressed and sister beamed with pride. So cute.

I'm actually surprised that these aren't raved about more, but then maybe it's just me not paying as much attention lately. If there are raves, allow me to join in, because tacky, under-the-radar Buxom of all the brands has managed to create intensely pigmented and gorgeous shadows in a variety of finishes and colours that don't require primers to intensify and are relatively wallet-friendly at $15 per shade. (Yeah, I was just bitching about the L'Oreal palettes but we're not in the drugstore anymore.) The reusable palette is extremely sturdy and easy to dislodge for reorganization, and have I mentioned the ravishing shades??? I'm glad that more companies are offering refillable shadow options. Now if they would just get on board with face powders!

And finally, can I get a hallelujah that MAC decided to make the excellent Extra Dimension Eye Shadows a part of their permanent offering? I first fell in love with Soul Serenade from the Alluring Aquatics collection and actively regretted for months that I didn't pick up more. Well, my restraint and patience were rewarded because I received a handful of the current shades from my very generous MAC Fairy and I think... I think that I'm going to utter that dreadful blogging term again: HOLY GRAIL. Yeah. I need to put these into a fireproof case along with my passport and Surratt blushes. As you know, I'm not a complicated eye makeup person. And these make the best one-shade-look shadows because the refined shimmer is to die for and a dash of eyeliner just makes the whole thing so simple and perfect. And it almost doesn't even matter what shade you pick up. They are all gorgeous. I mean, just look at them.

Yeah, I'm going to hang on to these for a while.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

2015 Summer Favourites - Part 2

I really haven't been wearing much makeup through July, but sometimes you have to slap a bit on to imply to the world, "I am reluctantly awake and active. Come at me."

As you know, I like to keep things simple on a regular basis, and with the heat wave we just experienced here, things took a turn for barely put together. I'm trying to polish off this old Almay foundation (reviewed) and dab one light layer over just the nose, inner cheeks and chin. It's enough to even out tone, and I don't bother with a setting powder unless I plan on wearing powder blush on top.

Smashbox Full Exposure Travel Palette is something I meant to save and bring out for autumn alongside sexy bordeaux blushes, but boredom and curiosity got the best of me. It's a cute little palette that looks perfect for travel (although the palette is quite fragile, so maybe not), and the set of four matte shades and four shimmery shades are thoughtfully put together with a strong lean to warm tones but not completely alienating for those who favour cool.

There isn't a troublesome shade in the bunch and it doesn't break the bank. Just don't break the palette. (I find it a little hard to open as does @mj_estel who said her palette also fractured the shadows.)

And last but not least, MAC Lady Danger lipstick always, always comes out to play in summer. I'm wearing it here along with the other two products featured in this post. And aside from briefly touching up the brows and adding some blush, that's all there is to it. Grab an unsweetened venti iced coffee with a splash of milk and chill together in the shade.