Thursday, September 11, 2014

Goodbye, Summer: Beachy Hair Products Throwdown

The "beachy hair" style is so popular now that it hardly matters what season you rock it, right? I learned to embrace my naturally curly hair a long time ago, and since then, styling hair has literally been a breeze. I let the curls air dry as often as possible, and it's so much better if there's a nice breeze outside to help it along. Too often we're slaves to the power tools in the bathroom, spending hours in there to tame our tresses, when scrunching some product into the hair and whipping it about can produce better results than all the straightening and curling can. I suppose this post is aimed at my curly-haired tribe, and a call for us to stop fighting the beast that we call our hair. Seriously... because life is better and easier this way.

I tested out three different beachy sprays, each containing those vital words: "sea," "salt" and "surf." I used to rely on any old spray gels and mousses to shape my curls, but it wasn't until a fateful trip to Miami beaches one year that I discovered the power of sand and salt on something other than the landscape. Their grit gave my hair mega volume and a kind of casually enticing bounce that I can't hope to reproduce on my own with irons and rollers. You don't call it "beachy hair" for nothing!

I tried to be scientific and impartial about the comparison, because my heart has belonged to the famous Bumble and bumble Surf Spray for years now. I used the same shampoo before using each of the sprays (going against the curly hair mantra and skipping conditioner), and I avoided testing on humid or rainy days. Each time, the hair was air dried, with a lot of hair whipping and turning my head upside down for extra boost at the roots. Each product was also shaken vigorously prior to spraying in order to mix up sediments that may have sunk to the bottom of the bottle. I also avoided other products like serums and oils as I normally would, to de-frizz the curls, because I wanted to show you the results in their most immediate state after drying.

Oh, and be kind to my makeupless face. :p

1. LUSH Sea Spray

I didn't expect much from this one, because I'm really starting to get annoyed at LUSH and their confusing messages about what's "safe" and what's not. (Confusing because greenwashing is bullshit.) I only went in there for their Ocean Salt and left with this instead because of OS's crazy price. ANYWAY. Sea Spray smells like lavender and citrus, which is not a bad combination, if not exactly "beachy" in the sense that we're used to thinking of. Okay, so there are different types of seas, and this one makes me think of a long romantic walk by the water, stumbling over beach grass, fighting chicken skin and having to grab a sweater because -- again, it's not that kind of a beach. The scent is actually quite faint once it's in the hair and doesn't bother me throughout the day. Because of the high salt content, I expected Sea Spray to give my coarse hair a strong gritty feel, but it actually made my hair touchably soft while maintaining shape and control. Volume, however, was sadly lacking, although it wasn't completely missing. (Despite the natural tendency of curly hair to add volume to hair, I always seek after extra volume because there's nothing sadder than limp and droopy half-curls.) Overall, it's not a bad product, especially for those who don't like having crunchy hair to go with beachy waves. Me personally? Would rather suffer the crunch and rock MEGA volume.

CAD$12.95, 100mL. Made in Canada. Available at

Ingredients: Carrageenan Extract (Chondrus crispus) , Sea Water , SD Alcohol , Glycerine , Fine Sea Salt (Sodium Chloride) , PVP , Fragrance , Limonene , Linalool , Neroli Oil (Citrus Aurantium amara) , Grapefruit Oil (Citrus paradisi) , Rosewood oil (Aniba rosaeodora) , Hydroxcitronellal , Geraniol , Citral , Farnesol , Benzyl Benzoate , Methylparaben. 

2. Organix Moroccan Sea Salt Spray

Organix. This brand cracks me up. They like to use ALL the trendy hair words in their products like "Moroccan," "oil," "kukui," "sea mineral," and "coconut." And damn it if it doesn't work, because I always want to try their stuff while strolling through the hair aisle at drugstores. Take this product, for example: Moroccan Sea Salt Spray ("MSSS"). What does Morocco have to do with salt sprays? And why do all hair products referencing Morocco now try to replicate MoroccanOil's trademarked shade of that particular aqua? Beats me. ANYWAY. AGAIN. The hair. This one makes it more crunchy, but it holds the curls much better. Because of the curl-shaping capabilities, hair appears slightly more fuller than what LUSH Sea Spray managed, but it's still not to the level I desire. The extreme crunchiness is definitely not worth this tiny bit of boost, and the MSSS is heavily perfumed with the scent of your standard issue drugstore shampoo -- very soapy. The liquid actually foams up to the brim when I shake the bottle. All in all, I'm not particularly impressed. It makes me want to wash my hair all over again, and I'm not adverse to having a lot of products in my hair -- it can usually take the extra weight. To top it all off, Organix claims that this will produce "soft beach waves." Ummmm, no.

CAD$13~ish, 177mL. Made in USA. Available at your local mass market retailer/drugstore.

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Magnesium Sulfate, PPG-5 Ceteth-20, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Chloride (Sea Salt), Macrosystis Pyrifera (Kelp) Extract, Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil, Fragrance (Parfum), Diazolidinyl Urea, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Citric Acid.

3. Bumble and bumble Surf Spray

Finally, the reigning champion of all beach sprays: my forever love! *throws objectivity out the window* If you can stomach B&b's painful pricing, you know that they can charge that much simply because they deliver on their promises. Surf Spray sits proudly in my Hair Hall of Fame and reclaims the throne once more. I mean, just look at my hair. VOLUME. Boost. Wild waves, not tendrils of delicate wishy-washy curls! The only reason my hair looks rather flat at the roots is because I decided to go for a walk before the hair dried completely and had trouble with the "bend and snap" on public streets just to give my hair extra boost at the roots. (I mean, I tried at random street corners, but I was also walking.) The result was a lot of side-whipping, which is why you're looking at tons of.............. sideways volume. Surf Spray is scented, but it's very subtle and smells closest to the typical beachy marine scents that we're used to. It does make the hair crunchy, but not a sticky kind of crunch like the Organix, but a straight-up duplicate of the gritty feeling you get at the beach. And the volume more than makes up for the hay hair feeling. Note also that Surf Spray doesn't promise soft hair and touchability. But that's kind of the whole point, which I feel other brands are missing, and they compromise on the volume while trying to make everything else happen all at once.

CAD$18, 50mL or CAD$29.50, 125mL. (Sephora pricing: slightly cheaper online than in-store?) Made in USA. Available at Sephora and

Ingredients: Water, Magnesium Sulfate, Macrocystis Pyrifera (Kelp) Extract, Ascophyllum Nodosum Extract, Isoceteth-20, Citric Acid, PPG-5-Ceteth-20, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Citronellol, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde, Linalool, Limonene, Hexyl Cinnamal, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Fragrance (Parfum).

* * *

I hope this was helpful! The last time I did a post like this, I ended up fielding a lot of questions from straight-haired ladies about whether these products would work on them. Not having straight hair, I really have no idea. I think the strength of "beach sprays" is to add volume and grit to textured hair, and straight-tressed lasses may fare better with dry shampoos or volumizing sprays. As for my fellow curly-haired beauties, embrace your texture and rock your awesome hair. Get a cut that accentuates the type of curls you grow, and find that one product that makes you feel not only beautiful but free and liberated. I only straighten my hair a few times a year now, and I get complimented on my curly hair all the time. And all that I do is wash, spray and go. SO EASY.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Almost Empty: Repurchase Considerations

Because real empties posts are few and far between now, I'm supplementing them with an occasional "almost empty" post, mostly to motivate myself to finish off certain products, and secondly, to publicly mull over their usefulness. I'm pondering a new scheme, which is a variation of Vita's marvelous Beauty Diet. Vita allows herself the purchase of a luxury product after finishing off two pieces of makeup. I don't finish makeup as frequently as she does, nor do I possess her will power and stubbornness, so my take is to completely finish off one product of any category and then allow myself the purchase of a highly desirable replacement if I don't already own a sufficient replacement in my stash. Makes sense?

Almost finished makeup:

BY TERRY Vanilla Cinnamon Intense Hydra Plump Lipstick - I really worked it down during a half-year makeup rut just before quitting my law firm gig. I thought of tossing it because it is undeniably old, but I don't sense a discernible change in texture, colour, or scent. It's also a shade that's hard to find and has no true dupe in my stash. Repurchase? It's a great lipstick but I'm busy exploring new lipstick territories. I will not be replacing it, nor will I seek to purchase a new similar tube. In fact, Shiseido RD351 can take its place.

Benefit Gimme Brow - I wore it non-stop since discovering it and the tube is finally starting to run a bit dry, although I think there may be a month or two more of usage left. Difficult to tell. Full review/comparison to other brow mascaras is in the works. Repurchase? Yes. I may purchase it in bulk if I come across a good deal.

L'Oreal Visible Lift Foundation - Reviewed, and since discontinued. Okay, so there's more than half left in the bottle, but you cannot deny the visible progress. Repurchase? Can't, but I won't be searching for a dupe because I managed to snag my old favourite, Laura Mercier Supreme Oil-Free Foundation, just before it was phased out. But I'll only bust out the Laura Mercier when I'm done with this.

MUFE HD Loose Powder - The pot that will never dieeeeeee. I think that there's about half left, and it's good for oil control, so I will powder my T-zone with this every morning. Repurchase? Unlikely. I'm thinking of also going back to my old fave, Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder. Sephora now carries a mini size of it in their check-out line at physical stores, so I may scoop it up during the VIB sale. Regular size of any loose powder is just ridiculous to me now, unless it's your only powder and you powder every day without fail.

BY TERRY Peach Nude Velvet Cream Blush - It's the same age as the BT lipstick above, and I AM SO CLOSE. I'll stop using it as soon as my finger catches more of the pan than product while attempting to scoop. Repurchase? Yes, if I come across a good By Terry deal somewhere, but I won't go looking for it. That's a $50 pot of the smallest blush in the world. But it's an excellent cream blush and I love it. When I do finish it, I'll replace it with the Rimmel Stay Blushed! in 003 Peach Flush, which is one of the reasons that I bought it in the first place. Worlds apart but both are good cream blushes in similar shades of peach.

Perfumes and Lip Balms:

NUXE Reve de Miel Lip Moisturizing Stick - I bought it as a two-pack and finished the first super quickly due to frequent makeupless days when I used to babysit the nephew 2-3 times a week. I think that it's about as effective as an EOS lip balm, which means it's a good, non-greasy stick balm to prep lips with before lipstick application, but it will dry out your lips if you attempt to moisturize with it at night. I use it as a quick, temporary solution while on the go, when I don't have access to my heavier balms. Repurchase? No. Will keep testing other untrieds. Hurraw! balm in Earl Grey flavour is next in line.

Hanae Mori Butterfly Eau de Parfum - I fell back in love with it after I tried to get rid of it and no one would take it. It's awful during hot weather but amazing as soon as the air turns frosty. Repurchase? No, I have plenty of warm sugary essences to keep me warm this winter. I also feel that my time with it is over, because it reminds me of an earlier chapter in my life when I was so much more naive, innocent and youthful. I do like the green "summer" version of it though, so maybe the door is open a crack to Hanae Mori yet.

*Hourglass No. 28 Lip Treatment Oil - I actually have no idea how much is left in the tube, but I've had it for a while and I sense that our time together is nearing the end. Reviewed and marveled over. Repurchase? Not unless my lips start doing crazy things this winter. I think that I'm okay with the current balms in my stash. I want to save this sort of decadence for other things.

Urban Rituelle Beachcomber - It's an Australian body spray that my friend Su sent me during a swap we conducted a year or two ago. I didn't think much of it at first, but it really made me take a liking to frangipani, and spraying it liberally all over the decollete and arms added a subtle, shimmery sheen that was also cooling at the same time. There's about a quarter left in the spray vial. Repurchase? It was nice to sample, but no. I have lofty thoughts of replacing it with Chantecaille Frangipane, but it's quite a splurge even just for the roll-on bottle. Going to work through a few more perfumes and body oils before making any similar purchases.

Cleansing Waters:

Avene Eau Thermale Micellar Lotion - I'd sometimes use it as a toner, but truth be told, it was mostly used with tissue to remove arm swatches. I can't say that it's any different from other micellar waters. This version is also discontinued in Canada. Repurchase? No. And not sure if I want to get more micellar waters either.

*VICHY Purete Thermale 3-in-1 Calming Cleansing Micellar Solution - Same deal as the Avene, except that I used this as toner more frequently because I'm testing so many VICHY products at the moment. I figure it's best to use products from the same brand/series together for maximum efficacy, since they were formulated to work in conjunction with each other. I don't like cleansing waters very much, though. They seem unnecessary in a world with ph-balanced cleansers and eye makeup removers. I know many prefer them, and I like them well enough because they don't leave greasy residue, but again, not so good that I want to spend money on them. Purchase? That's a firm no. More lipsticks instead!

So, this post turned out to be much longer than I thought it would be, but whatever. You are now maybe drunk and/or your nails are dried. Good things.

Products marked with * are press samples.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

NEW Clarins Ladylike Fall 2014 Makeup Collection

This post features press samples.

"Nude tones echo the fall light."

I giggle a little to myself whenever I have to repeat "ladylike" for this post. I could diverge into a long discussion about what the word "lady" means at Year 2014, as opposed to non-ladies like harlots and trollops, but I think you get the general gist of the theme. The Clarins Ladylike Collection is about the elegance that comes from softly enhancing your natural features during a transition season between bold tropical colours and indulgent holiday glitz. [Translation: It's about going back to work and school. Good reason to be buying more makeup!]

I felt anything but elegant during one of my makeupless babysitting days, as I picked up the Clarins package from the post office and headed to my adorable nephew's. He was taking a nap when I got there, so I took advantage of the great lighting at my sister's condo and snapped product photos right on the nephew's yellow play mat. I hope you don't mind the change in scenery this one time. :-)

Be Long Mascara (01 Intense Black), CAD$27

I'm not a daily mascara wearer, as my lashes can't hold a curl worth a damn, and many mascaras smudge on me. But this Be Long Mascara actually stays put really well on my short and thin downward pointing lashes, lasting all day like a champ. The formula is on the wet side at first and I have to wipe off a lot of it before I can take the wand to lashes, but I love the small, shorter-bristled tip that gets into the tiny corners of my eyes to coat all the baby-sized lashes in sooty black. Interestingly, Be Long is formulated with a growth activator which is supposed to increase the lashes in length by an average of 1.1 mm* after four weeks of continuous usage. I didn't know that until I looked up the product on the Clarins website, sooooo... I will report back on the lengthening powers in about four weeks' time. God, I love it when product names are meant to be literal.

*Test conducted with 33 women for 4 weeks, measurements done on bare lashes, average results.

Eye Quartet Mineral Palette (13 Skin Tones), CAD$42

As you may know from previous reviews, the Clarins eye quartets consist of wet/dry mineral pigments that are highly versatile. "Skin Tones" is a new shade addition to the permanent collection and very very subtle when worn dry. The surface texture of each shadow is tougher than the previous palettes, but using a good eye shadow primer underneath will enhance the colours as well as add longevity.

Dry swatches on bare skin.

The words "nude" and "skin tone" are bandied about recklessly without meaning in the makeup world all the time, with few being close to human skin tones. In this case, I find that the shades run slightly pale and cool to be classified as true nude for my NC25-30ish skin tone, but they are very very natural nonetheless. Yet the subtle shading on the eyes aren't without impact or drama. This palette is exactly what I wanted about six years ago when I was afraid of bolder colours and was on the hunt for modest office-appropriate eye shadows. The two paler shades are much lighter than the skin on my face, but they work well as subtle highlight and base colours. The pretty taupe and the brown create alluring shadows and contours that all women will spot immediately as the work of makeup but what the average male would classify as "natural." And when worn wet, as Tracy does in this post, you wouldn't be lacking for drama either if you had to transition your look from day to evening. It's seriously difficult to go wrong with this palette, which makes it the perfect product for hurried mornings on the go. The only caution I'd have is for ladies with darker skin tones, on whom I fear the light shades will appear too chalky and the taupe and brown muddied and lost. But give it a try at the Clarins counter and let me know if I'm wrong!

Instant Light Eye Perfecting Base, CAD$26

Finally, an eye shadow primer from Clarins! It's new and a permanent addition. Currently it's only available in shade 00, which is quite light on me -- I'd say equivalent to MAC Soft Ochre Paint Pot. Clarins describes it as a cross between makeup and skin care, which makes sense given the history of their "Instant Light" products.

Instant Light Eye Perfecting Base looks and wears like a concealer. It adds medium amount of coverage to even out pigmentation and feels emollient and dewy which makes shadows adhere better to the lids. When worn on its own, however, I find that it only lasts about 2-3 hours on a warm day before creasing on my tricky eyes. But like a concealer, it works better when "set" with powder, which is what I do with the Skin Tones quartet above, using one of the pale shades as a base for the other shadows. Also, if evening out skin tone on the lid while treating the eyes to the goodness of oat polyoses for a lifting effect and 3D pigments to brighten the eye areas sounds good, this is the product for you. Because my tube is marked as 00 (the palest shade Clarins offers), I have hope that the brand will either create darker shades or a colourless version. It already looks pale on me as it is, but I usually top it off with other shadows. Today it wore well underneath MAC Indianwood Paint Pot -- no sign of fading or creasing in 5 hours.

Rouge Eclat Lipstick (20 Red Fuchsia), CAD$27

And now for some fun and colour! Clarins added five new shades to their wonderful Rouge Eclat line (my favourite), including 16 Candy Rose, 17 Pink Magnolia, 18 Strawberry Sorbet, 19 Chestnut Brown, and 20 Red Fuchsia.

20 Red Fuchsia

Rouge Eclats can be worn subtly as a soft touch of colour with creamy glide and healthy sheen, or it can be intensified for full, opaque coverage with multiple passes. You may be thinking, 'Oh geez, it's another red.' And I had similar thoughts when opening the press package. But Red Fuchsia is what I would classify as a Fun Red, as opposed to a Serious Red. Serious Red is about asserting power, grabbing attention and keeping it. Fun Red is more light-hearted and casual about its allure. It's a perfectly versatile office-appropriate red lipstick, whether you're answering phones and greeting clients at the front lines or wheeling and dealing all day in a corner office. The Clarins lady -- she is everywhere and everyone.

I'm sitting here like, "Why are Fun Reds so difficult to find? Why can't all reds be this fun??" I fear that sometimes we take The Red Lip just way too seriously. With Red Fuchsia, I don't have to worry about being too perfect. No lip liner and no fears of looking scandalous or mismatched.

Comparison of Red Fuchsia to Pink Fuchsia, previously reviewed -- my personal gateway shade to many wonderful fuchsias. Also, how great is it that there's a red lipstick in this collection and nary a washed out boring flesh-coloured "nude" to be found?

Red Fuchsia. See? Fun Red.

A red lipstick day is a happy day, I say.

There is much more to the Ladylike Collection than what I've shown here today, and most of the products are new permanent additions to the core Clarins makeup collection and additional shades to existing lines. No annoying rush to grab limited editions!

One of the most interesting additions is the new Ombre Matte cream-to-powder eye shadow, which I'll talk about on another day. But overall, Clarins Ladylike is great. No one's reinventing the wheel here, but all the shades are easily wearable while remaining completely season-appropriate. I feel so polished and put together when wearing pieces from Ladylike. Maybe being "ladylike" simply means presenting our best foot (or face) forward.

Ladylike Collection is now available at Clarins counters across Canada and online at

Friday, September 5, 2014

Multitasking Cleansers: PHILOSOPHY Purity Made Simple and Miracle Worker Miraculous Anti-Aging Lactic Acid Cleanser & Mask

This post features press samples.

My love for Philosophy Purity Made Simple goes a long way back. During the height of my beauty consumption period (a few years before I began this blog), I discovered that Purity was the only makeup removing cleanser that actually followed through on the claim, and I've repeatedly purchased it in every size available. (Proof in this old post here!) Since then, Purity has taken the form of an oil, cleansing cloth, gel and mask. It also has a sister multitasking cleanser called Miracle Worker Cleanser & Mask, which I'm also highly impressed with.

Purity Made Simple (Original)

The 3-in-1 claim is that it will remove makeup, cleanse and tone all at once. I tend to think of Purity as an excellent 2-in-1 instead, focusing on the first two steps, as many other cleansers out in the market now are similarly gentle and pH-balanced (which means that we can safely skip toning afterwards). The need for a quick makeup removal and cleansing process was never more important to me than when I wore foundation every day to the office and carried a hectic office-to-class schedule that often made me want to drop into bed and skip face washing. Purity isn't cheap, but to me, it's one of those products that are worth it. The foamless gel-cream never leaves my face feeling tight or overwashed, and I like taking a dab of it directly onto a dry face without water for a gentle massage to melt off makeup before rinsing off. It doesn't remove stubborn foundation and waterproof makeup as quickly as an oil cleanser does, but it's awesome at removing lightweight bases and leaving the face feeling clean and fresh in one go. To take off more stubborn products, I do a double massage with Purity just to make sure everything is off, and I maintain my habit of using tools like cloths and sponges for gentle physical exfoliation as well. I have spoken to dry skin types who said Purity left their faces feeling tight, so I recommend it for those with oilier skin who aren't too attached to foam and bubbles in their skin care routine. Purity also has a subtle and light, fresh fragrance, but it's one that relaxes me in the evening rather than irritating.

Starts at CAD$13 for 3oz (featured 240mL/8oz bottle retails for CAD$28). Made in USA.

Ingredients: Water, Sodium Lauroamphoacetate, Sodium Trideceth Sulfate, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Coco-Glucoside, Coconut Alcohol, Peg-120 Methyl Glucose Dioleate, Aniba Rosaeodora (Rosewood) Wood Oil, Geranium Maculatum Oil, Guaiac (Guaiacum Officinale) Extract, Cymbopogon Martini Oil, Rosa Damascena Extract, Amyris Balsamifera Bark Oil, Santalum Album (Sandalwood) Oil, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Oil, Cinnamomum Cassia Leaf Oil, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Oil, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Seed Oil, Piper Nigrum (Pepper) Seed Extract, Polysorbate 20, Glycerin, Carbomer, Triethanolamine, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Yellow 5 (Ci 19140).

Miracle Worker Miraculous Anti-Aging Lactic Acid Cleanser & Mask

Due to Philosophy's large collection of products, this Miracle Worker Cleanser & Mask would never have come to my attention had it not been for the press event back in January that introduced me to it. As the name indicates, it's a cleanser that can double as a mask when left on the face for 3-5 minutes on a weekly basis for brightening and evening the skin tone. A gentle lactic and amino acid complex exfoliates the skin even during a quick wash-and-rinse session at the sink, which is fantastic for oily, acne-prone skin like mine which requires frequent exfoliation. Because I was testing so many different skin care products, it took me a while to crack this one open. But once I did, I fell in love on the spot because I could feel the difference in my skin immediately after the first use. Face felt softer and smoother without any irritation or stinging. As for its anti-aging claims, it's hard to tell if any lines have diminished, but there is the supremely annoying fact that I've been getting carded for my ID every single time in the past three months that I've purchased alcohol. Yes, I look much younger than 36, but holy crap -- I've never been questioned so much about my age as recently. I feel like blaming this cleanser and its lactic acid content. (It's probably a combination of just having been more diligent with skin care for the past few years, but still...) Anyway, Miracle Worker is rather pricey as well, but considering its wonderful effects and successful double-tasking qualities, I consider it a worthy splurge.

CAD$36 for 240mL/8oz. Made in USA.

Ingredients: Water, Cetyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Sodium Pca, Lactic Acid, Petrolatum, Glyceryl Stearate, Bisabolol, Arginine, Stearyl Alcohol, Evodia Rutaecarpa Fruit Extract, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Steareth-21, Steareth-2, 1,2 Hexanediol, Allantoin, Disodium Edta, Sodium Hydroxide, Xanthan Gum, Farnesol, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Caprylyl Glycol, Butylene Glycol, Bht, Chlorphenesin, Phenoxyethanol.

I know that some have been burned by the awfulness of Philosophy's shower gels (ugh, me too) -- but when it comes to skin care, Philosophy is one of my go-to brands. The products can be confusing to navigate with a multitude of similar names, but hopefully I've clarified at least two of them here today. They're definitely worth a look and sampling if you're lucky to live near a counter. I'm testing out three more Philosophy products and will report back on those in due course. (So far so good!)

In Canada, you can find Philosophy at Sephora, Hudson's Bay and select Shoppers Drug Mart Beauty Boutiques.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

elf HD Blush in Showstopper

This is my first elf makeup ever. Although I can be frugal, I've never been tempted by the brand elf before. Their tactic of copying the exact look and feel of other companies' products at dirt cheap prices isn't endearing to me, although that's exactly why some love it. As a person who is vindictively possessive over creative rights, I just don't agree with what they do. I know the whole "trickle-down effect" from luxury to drugstore is a debatable process, but an entire business strategy devoted to ripping off other companies? Meh.

But my noble stance clearly wasn't strong enough to resist a four-dollar liquid purple blush while I was buying cheese at the local Loblaws. God, maybe if I had eaten a donut before shopping I wouldn't have been so weak. I silently argued that Make Up For Ever doesn't even make the original liquid blushes that these were clearly modeled after... So, yeah, whatever; now I'm a big hypocritical blush whore. Let us examine the product.

I remember being sorely tempted by the old MUFE HD Blushes in similar pump bottles, and I also remember the severe difficulty of trying to control the amount of highly pigmented product dispensed through such crude means. But while I was under the thrall of cheese-shopping and dreaming of purple clown cheeks, I completely forgot the fact that I had an old MUFE HD sample from Sephora which I ended up giving away because finishing even a sample size of it was pretty much impossible. BEWARE PUMPABLE BLUSHES.

Like I said...

Amount dispensed via ONE full pump.

Disappointingly, Showstopper blends out to a bold raspberry shade, losing all of that cool purple tone and even revealing tiny flecks of silver shimmer. It's a pretty shade, but I wasn't looking for berries to go with the cheese. I wanted grapes!

To elf's credit, the texture isn't horrible. It's a little thicker than I expected, but that point becomes completely moot when you consider the next: to create a somewhat "normal" looking flush on one cheek, you would need only about 1/1000th of the amount that's pumped from the bottle. If you're a clownish whory sort like I am, maybe use 1/100th of the dollop. That tiny droplet blends out to a gorgeous flush, and dare I say -- the shimmery flecks even aid in the appearance of a healthy glow! Lasting power is great, too, but I don't usually have issues with blush fading throughout the day.

My problem with this blush, however, is that it's not really purple. I feel a little misled, but I didn't have high expectations to begin with, and it exorcised any curiosity that I had about elf products. And although I personally don't feel keen on the brand, I don't judge others for relying on it. Cheap makeup is cheap makeup, y'all. We shouldn't have to pay an arm and a leg for some glow and flush. (Although, sometimes we want to. Badly.)

elf HD Blush comes in five different shades, and I think the other four are regular people colours although I could be entirely wrong. Now, will someone point me in the direction of an actual purple blush? Thanks.

CAD$4, 10mL/0.34fl oz. "Made in China. Designed in USA." Available at random Loblaws and Target Canada locations and online at

Ingredients: Isododecane, Cyclomethicone, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Cetearyl Methicone, Dimethicone, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Nylon-12, Barium Sulfate, Mica, Quaternium-18 Hectorite, Propylene Carbonate, Silica, Tocopheryl Acetate (Ve), Propylparaben. May Contain: Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Red No.27 Lake (CI 45410), Red No.7 Lake (CI 15850), Yellow No.5 Lake (CI 19140), Red No.40 Lake (CI 16035), Blue No.1 Lake (CI 42090), Ultramarine Violet (CI 77007), Manganese Violet (CI 77742).