Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fall Nail Polish Options: Greys

Don't forget to enter the End of Summer Giveaway! Closes September 30.

I love greys. And no, we're not going to make a "Fifty Shades" joke today. We'll do that after the movie is released. ;-)  While struggling to store my nail polish collection in an orderly fashion, I decided to run some quick swatch tests of different types of shades to weed out any dupes or poor quality polishes. Four greys aren't too bad given how much I like the colour, but the truth is I haven't touched three of these bottles more than a few times each. And until the swatch test, I pretty much forgot what they looked like on the nail and how they performed.

Left to right, bottles above: JINsoon Kookie White, Misa Working Hard Or Hardly Working, China Glaze Recycle and Dior 707 Gris Montaigne.

On nails below, in reverse order: Gris Montaigne, Recycle, WHOHW, Kookie White.

I picked up some good polishes, as everything but Recycle applied perfectly in two coats. And let's face it: in a showdown between a China Glaze and a Dior, I'm going to go with Dior most of the time. Dior and I aren't really friends, but their nail polishes are pretty amazing. Gris Montaigne was a great pick back in the day.

As for the Misa and JINsoon, they're really pale and more blue-based than charcoal like the other two, but that's fine and I like them that way. You already know how much I love the quality of JINsoon polishes, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Misa was keeping up so well.

China Glaze Recycle is out. It's not a terrible polish, but there's no reason for me to hang on to it if I'm not going to wear it or be annoyed every time I do apply it -- only because I've become accustomed to better formula and there's just no going back. So long, old friend!

Edited to add a comparison of Dior Gris Montaigne to Revlon Gel Envy 500 Ace of Spades (press sample):

Left to right: Dior Gris Montaigne, Revlon Ace of Spades, Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear 28 Black Out

I was a fool to think it was possible to reduce. Ace of Spades is gorgeous. I thought it was a Gris Montaigne dupe but 'tis not. Ace of Spades is almost fully opaque in one stroke, beautiful deep charcoal with a slight blue/gunmetal lean and extremely subtle shimmer. KEEPING.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

End of Summer Giveaway

I love summer, and it's hard to let go. But apparently today is the first official day of fall. I give up. On the hunt for furry coats and boots now. Hibernating over hot beverages. I'll be the one in the cave over there.

One of this past summer's makeup hits was the limited edition Maybelline Color Tattoo -- two shades, actually: #110 Sunwashed Sky and #115 Shimmering Sea. Some countries never received them, and some only got a few. But I saw them everywhere, haunting me all summer long. I picked up Shimmering Sea for myself (reviewed and swatched) and both LE shades for one last summer hurrah giveaway. ((((hurrah))))

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment telling me what your favourite cold weather activity is, how you subscribe to the blog, and how I can contact you if you win. Bonus points if I recognize your name! (From comments, Twitter, emails, etc.) Giveaway closes by midnight EST on September 30, 2014. It's open internationally, and one random winner will be chosen to receive both Color Tattoos. Good luck!

P.S. If you don't want to put your contact info in the comments, just email me at with the subject "Giveaway" and answer the Qs there. :-)

Monday, September 22, 2014

NEW Clarins Ombre Matte Cream-to-Powder Matte Eyeshadow in 03 Taupe

As a follow-up to my review of the new Clarins Fall 2014 Ladylike Collection, I now give you their new and permanent Ombre Matte Cream-to-Powder Matte Eyeshadows! (Well, in just shade 03 Taupe for now, but it comes with a big healthy dose of swatches, comparison and opinion.)

Clarins Ombre Matte Eyeshadows

I picked up 03 Taupe because I'm one of those rare beauty bloggers not in love with that mysterious greyed-out-brown-slash-purple shade. I don't really have taupes in my collection, and I didn't want to duplicate shades from the Clarins Mineral Eye Quartet either. Therefore, this taupe thing.

Looks ashy and cool in the shade, warm brown under brighter lighting. It's a shifty one, and I highly recommend that you swatch before purchasing because it will look different on each person, depending on her unique skin tone.

I thought that a comparison of 03 Taupe to Givenchy Taupe Velours would be most apt because they're similar in colour, concept and presentation. Despite being called "Taupe Velours," I honestly just thought of the Givenchy shade as a warm minky-brown because that's how it shows up on my skin. Clarins Taupe is almost plain grey on me.

As for the texture, execution and performance, I tend to think favourably of the Ombre Mattes although I'm not completely wowed or blown away. I think that adding cream shadows was a good move on Clarins' part, as was starting with a core group of really elegant and wearable shades that anyone can dab on in a hurry. The texture and finish of the Ombre Mattes are more powdery than creamy with a smooth, velvety glide that is most similar to the L'Oreal Infallible Shadows without the slight crumbliness or fallout tendencies. Pigmentation is decent, both as a soft smoke of colour and buildable true-to-pan shade. Because texture is on the soft side, it doesn't hold up for long on oily lids without a primer underneath to lock down the colour. On its own, it will crease within several hours on the mobile lid. Do note that the Ombre Mattes are not marketed as waterproof and adhere more like traditional powder shadows. I can use both fingers and brushes with equal ease, and the velvety and bouncy texture is so beautifully done that I forgive the little flaws.

The entire range of shades from 01 Nude Beige to 06 Earth are definitely more cool in tone than warm on my NC25-ish skin. 01 and 02 were pretty much invisible on me, so I only swatched 03-06, as seen below.

01 Nude Beige (not shown), 02 Nude Pink (not shown), 03 Taupe, 04 Rosewood, 05 Sparkle Grey, 06 Earth:

As you can see, 05 Sparkle Grey is not matte by name or colour in reality. Doesn't matter to me personally, but it's a bit of an oddity in a line called Ombre Matte. (I like it enough to put it on my wish list!) 06 Earth has a touch of shimmer in there as well, making it not completely matte but not sparkly or fully shimmery either. Rae over at theNotice has a review for 06 Earth and 01 Nude Beige, and I think we agree that the Clarins Ombre Mattes are beautiful but not perfect. CAD$24 for 7g of product isn't a high risk purchase, but due to the shiftiness of the shades depending on skin tone, I highly recommend swatching first at counters before making purchases. I think they're perfect for those who favour the "one shadow" look.

Available now at your local Clarins counter or online at

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Autumn Tag (2014 Edition)

After wrestling with computer troubles all week, which is now only semi-resolved, I'm back with a tag to ease back into blogging rhythm.

I was tagged by the lovely Marianna of Impression Blend, and even though I'm actually not a big fan of autumn, I end up doing the tag every year anyway. Why break with tradition? It's kind of like eating turkey at Thanksgiving. Not my favourite bird but it just doesn't feel like Thanksgiving without it.

1. What's your favorite seasonal drink from Starbucks or another coffee shop? I've become that boring coffee drinker who only drinks plain brewed coffee. If I'm hankering for steamed milk, I'll get a misto -- and on the rare occasion I want some froth, a plain latte. None of this changes seasonally, except that I'll switch to ice coffee in the summer and add a shot of syrup if I need sugar. Gasp and horror, but I think Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte is gross. Second Cup always did it better in my opinion.

2. Accessories - what do you opt for: scarf, boots, or gloves? All of the above, plus capes. GIVE ME THE BLANKET. No longer will I shiver against the cold northern wind in the name of fashion. (But I won't wear mittens because they make my fingers feel claustrophobic.) Let me seize this opportunity to show you some of my fashion lemmings.

Gloves: Club Monaco

Boots: Frye / Proenza Schouler
Oh, and I need to mention that Benedict Cumbercheekz's Sherlock and I wear our scarves in exactly the same manner. I know there are a hundred different ways to tie a scarf more fashionably, but I feel like I'm always in a huge hurry whenever scarves need to be tied.


3. Music - what's your favourite music to listen to during autumn? The sound of the wind howling! Just kidding. I don't really know these days. Music sort of faded out in the past few years, aside from what YouTube likes to shove in my face. Anaconda skinny bitch butt what?! Wait, let me give you a real answer. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra reconvenes in the fall, so I'll go with classical.

4. Perfume - what's your favorite scent for this time of year? Warm amber things like Tocca Margaux and Susanne Lang Cashmere -- and smokey scents like Diptyque Voluptes which I'll be adding to the arsenal later. I also like nutty fragrances but don't have any perfumes that are nut-centred. The closest would be The Body Shop Brazil Nut, now discontinued in Canada for unfathomable reasons.

Oh yeah, and I should really get going on those Solstice Scents autumn sampler set I ordered....... 3 years ago? Doh. The names are utterly delightful and so... so... autumny: Outpost, Night Star, Spellbound Woods, Moonlight Grove. (Snowshoe Pass is in there but that's obviously winter.)

5. Candles - what scents will you be burning this season? Oh god, I get so excited for candles. I actually started shopping around for fall candles as early as July, because that's what candle fiends do, naturally. Strangely, I'm not enjoying anything pumpkiny or harvesty this year, so after considering a few sugary sweet gourmand options like these and completely ignoring Bath & Body Works, I ordered my cold weather favourite, Voluspa French Bourbon Vanille, when Gilt had it on sale a few weeks ago.

French Bourbon Vanille in the discontinued 3-wick tin form.

Other Voluspa candles I like: Chestnut & Vetiver and Baltic Amber.

Bath & Body Works candles I likeWarm Vanilla Sugar, French Baguette and Marshmallow Fireside.

And I would SO love for Caudalie to sell their Divine Candle here in Canada. It's cold here. We need more candles. OMG, they dooooooo.

And one more...

I was going to get Illume's Christmas annual, Woodfire, but Indigo had a sale on their own version of Feu de Bois and I couldn't resist the gorgeous mercury jar version. I wasn't terribly impressed with Indigo-branded candles in the past, but this 3-wick is doing a good job of scenting my bedroom even without being lit. It's just straight up woodsy -- not particularly complex.

6. What do you love most about autumn? Candles! Wearing lots of makeup! Apple-picking! Pretty leaves! Baking! (Attempting to bake!) Curling up under a blanket or sweater with the window open and a hot drink in hand! Everything else can go away.

7. Favorite makeup look?

Alexandra Grecco AW2013

Christina Hendricks x Netaporter

THAT GIRL, yes, sorry. But the look is fierce.

I think you get the idea. Metallic eyes, wind-flushed cheeks, berry-stained lips. Surprise, surprise.

8. What are you looking forward to most in autumn? I used to enjoy the bookishness of the season and take part in festivals like Word on the Street and the annual university book sales, but I'm itching for a change this year and not sure what exactly it is that I want. The search for my "next chapter" has been intensely frustrating and I find myself already preparing to go into survival mode in fear of the long winter ahead. Yeah, I really don't do well without the sun. I'm going to spend this weekend finishing up a few personal projects and try to make some hard decisions about my future.

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Thanks to Marianna for tagging me! Now, everyone, go watch her video and admire her perfectly applied makeup and the hypnotic candle burning in the background. And then, do the tag, especially if you love autumn.

1. What's your favorite seasonal drink from Starbucks or another coffee shop?
2. Accessories - what do you opt for: scarf, boots, or gloves?
3. Music - what's your favourite music to listen to during autumn?
4. Perfume - what's your favorite scent for this time of year?
5. Candles - what scents will you be burning this season?
6. What do you love most about autumn?
7. Favorite makeup look?
8. What are you looking forward to most in autumn?

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).

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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.