Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Procrastinating and Cleaning

It's essay season, so of course I have to procrastinate by writing another blog post.

I had a false alarm with a loose powder the other day. I thought it had expired because there was a strange smell, but it turned out that my kabuki brush just needed a good shampooing. (Gross, I know. I don't like to wash the kabuki too much because it's so easy to dunk the entire thing in water and ruin it. Let this be a lesson to all.) I do use the Sephora Collection Daily Brush Cleaner spray often, but it still led to this state. Perhaps an examination of the spray cleaner is in order... hmmm.

Anyway, it got me thinking that I needed a revisit to some of my products and make the use of the older items before they go to waste. This is not a "Project 10 Pan" because my entire blog is basically a huge project. (Project 10000 Pan - I dieeeeeeee!) I just want to be reminded and make a commitment to finish up a few things, being the good reductionista that I am. (Which I haven't been, so I need to up my game as well.)

#1 in the race to the trash bin is the L'Oreal Double Extend Beauty Tube Mascara, which is the second or third best mascara that I have ever tried. My puny lashes love the tubes. No smudging, no streaking, no flaking - just ever so slightly clumpy at first, but weirdly this mascara gets better with time. I just may go out and buy this again some day when I'm finished the other mascaras in the line up. Previously loved mascaras include YSL Faux Cils, Hourglass Superficial Lash and Imju Fiberwig. Just realizing now that all three are quite expensive, so this L'Oreal mascara is looking better and better.

#2 is the trusty little Rosebud Salve. I've discussed it in detail twice already. Love it, hate that the price keeps rising, good thing I have a back up in my desk drawer (oops, how did that get there?) I'm not really in a hurry to finish this so much as I need to finish it in order to finish the other lip balms that I dabbed into and ignored.

Smith's Rosebud Salve (left)
Stila Convertible Color in Peony (right)

#3 is Stila Convertible Color in Peony. I haven't made much progress with it because it only serves as a blush and isn't very convertible for me. I'm a blush philanderer and find it hard to use the same one for more than a week at a time. I've had this for a while now, so I need to hurry!

#4 is CoverFX Skinprep. It was my second time using it and unfortunately I can only use it in the winter when my skin isn't being crazy. Sometimes I'll apply this in the place of a moisturizer and achieve good result. I don't like to use it as a primer often but it's a great multi-tasking product that will act as a serum and primer (normal-oily types can wear it solo; dry types can layer this over a moisturizer). I don't want it to sit and rot in my stash over the summer, so I'll try to finish this before the weather gets really hot.

#5 is all the lip glosses (NARS "Dolce Vita", MAC Lip Gelee "Moistly", Lancome Juicy Tubes "Spring Fling", Sephora Collection "Bronzed Beauty"). They're all at various stages, the most full being only half full and the closest to being finished being the NARS. Is it just me or do NARS glosses run out really fast? I apply it sparingly as a result but that just makes me feel like I'm not getting my money's worth out of it.

#6 is the Sephora Collection Smoothing Primer. Being baby size, it shouldn't take me much longer to finish it. I've been avoiding it during the winter, though, because it's mattifying and makes the dry patches in your skin more evident. Yeah, kind of the opposite of what a primer is supposed to do?

It's nice to have goals to look forward to accomplishing. Now that this is out of the way, I really need to get back to my American Lit essay.

Are you involved in a beauty project or goal? What was the last product you finished?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Nail Polish for Spring Season

I don't normally do pastels, but cabin fever is at all-time high. The sun is teasingly bright though the temperature remains below minus. I need an extra boost of pretty to get through the final stretch of winter.

Despite the possible clash with my yellowish skin tone, pastels are very tempting at this time of the year. I try not to get swept up in the lavender and blue shadow craze that storms the makeup counters, as I will certainly and inevitably regret those purchases when I look into the mirror and behold a ghastly sight. Nail polish is much safer, so I ended up with a few lighter shades over the years despite my love/hate relationship with pastels.

Clockwise from left:
Revlon Minted, Revlon Sheer Cotton, SpaRitual Quiet Storm,
Bourjois Rose Lounge, Chanel Riva, Essie Pinkadelic.

My personal picks for this week are ck Calvin Klein in Barefoot, Chanel Riva and Revlon Minted.

Barefoot is a perfect shimmery nude. I wish I had a backup of it. Calvin Klein Cosmetics is since discontinued, which is a shame, because I thought they had some cute stuff. Barefoot may be one of my all-time fave products, even.

Riva, of course, was all over the blogosphere for months, and there are tons of better pics and swatches here, here, and here. I didn't even take it out of the box to try it until this week, because the uplifting shade seemed so out of place in the dead of winter. I was content to wallow in the land of murky dead hands for a while. Unfortunately, the negative reviews I read of Riva hold true. It's extremely streaky, requires 4 coats for opacity, and the shimmer advertised and discernable in the bottle is hardly visible on the nail.

I got Minted a few months ago, along with Sheer Cotton which I gave a negative review. Minted applies better than Sheer Cotton but it's still quite watery in texture and a little streaky in application. I'd say three thin coats will do the job. I'm not sure if I really like the colour as there's something rather teenager-like about it. Maybe it's just my discomfort with pastelly shades?

Here's a quick swatch of all three on my nails. Forgive me the messy job and dry cuticles. I just applied it quickly to be able to show you what they look like.

Riva, Minted, Barefoot

I don't know if it's that I need to get more comfortable with these colours or if they just don't suit me. I love Barefoot but I could have lived without having known/acquired Minted or Riva. You know that OPI Black Shatter thing that I posted about here? After three days, I was sick of it and sold it after seeing that many people were on the hunt for it. Better that a perfectly good product end up with someone who can enjoy it more than I can. I might do that with Riva, too, but I'm still feeling conflicted.

What do you do when you're unsure about an almost new product? What are your top picks for the spring season? Are you into pastels and soft colours?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Inventory #24: Hair Conditioners & Treatments [Edited]

Like the shampoos, my conditioners aren't too glamorous. I like to buy matching shampoos and conditioners, even though I know that the combination doesn't necessarily produce the best results just because they come together. It's a quirk that inevitably turns into irritation when I finish the shampoo much faster than the counterpart conditioner. There are days I'm lazy or in a hurry and I use a leave-in conditioner instead and run out of the house with a wet bun. I hate dealing with unruly hair!

Head & Shoulders Classic Clean Conditioner - Bought it as a package with the shampoo. It's decent and I had hoped it would help solve the dry scalp issue but it hasn't so far.

Alberto European Moisture Soak Conditioner - Absolutely terrible. It untangles your hair from the shampooing but there is very little conditioning happening, if at all. The only saving grace is that it's super cheap. I'm never buying this again.

Sebastian Laminates Reconstructive Treatment - I got greedy one day and bought the jumbo size for about $20 at Winners. I would have bought the shampoo too if I had seen it, but this was rattling around without a partner so I decided to use it as a conditioner on its own. Unfortunately it didn't come with a pump and trying to turn this mother upside down and squeeze out the product while you're wet and slippery is a real challenge. If I were more fit and used to weight-lifting, perhaps I will go back to putting this back into the shower. (Yeah, I should buy a smaller bottle and fill it up, but I keep forgetting.) As for the quality, it's good but I can't remember thinking it was super fantastic. God, I'm picky for someone claiming to be low maintenance. I'll have to give it another try and update this post.

Bath & Body Works Warm Vanilla Sugar Moisturizing Conditioner - Moisturizing, my foot. It fakes the effect in the shower but after blowdrying, my hair didn't feel moisturized any better than it would have been with that Alberto crap. Love the smell but I'm really disappointed in this one. $10 regular price and $5 on sale. Not worth it.

Pantene Nature Fusion Conditioner - I actually quite liked this one. The scent was pleasing. Neither the shampoo nor the conditioner were harsh on hair. There's about a third of it left but I put it in the cabinet when I finished the shampoo. I'll bring it out again for a reunion with its matching shampoo some day. Despite the "Nature Fusion" bit, I know it's far from being natural. I'm not a stickler for natural products (obviously) but once in a while it does bother me enough to make me go exploring for better options. It's been a while since, though.

John Frieda Weather Works Frizz-Ease Weather-Proofing Conditioner - This is another one of those products that don't live up to the name and the implied promise. When humidity or rain hits, there is nothing to be done for us wavy-haired girls. Nothing. Even if there is a solution, if it requires more than 20 minutes of my time, I will not consider it unless it's prom night or wedding or something extra special. I'm diligent about checking the weather forecast and putting my hair up in a ponytail or bun in advance when bad weather days make styling a completely fruitless endeavour. The name of this product alone being so intriguing, I had to give it a try. My sister really liked the styling lotion from this line but I thought it looked a bit greasy on the hair and weighed it down.

[EDITED: Forgot these three!

Finesse Moisturizing Conditioner - My mom liked Finesse, so I used it for the longest time before I started shopping for my own conditioner. It's not bad for a cheap conditioner... but the company seems on verge of collapse? Either they're not in the aisles anymore or barely noticeable. I think they've stopped making commercials a long time ago.

Ojon Ultra Hydrating Conditioner - I have trouble using up travel size items, especially when they come in a set. I keep saving them for trips that don't happen for various reasons. I've been hearing rave reviews about Ojon products, so I should just get to it and try, right?

Ojon Restorative Hair Treatment - Same as above.]

Garnier Fructis Curls & Shine Leave-In Treatment - This is one of those things that you take note of so often in the drugstore aisles that you just have to give it a try despite being skeptical. Well, my curls weren't defined and they weren't shiny either. I use it as a leave-in conditioner on days I put up wet hair into a bun. It's no good as a styling cream on its own. It may help to dilute styling mousse from becoming too crunchy, but I really can't think of any other uses for this than the two I listed.

Garnier Fructis Triple Nutrition Dryness Reversal Treatment - I really wanted to love this. I like it but I don't love it. It may be a case of being duped by the packaging. There's mention of avocado and olive being involved in this treatment and when you squirt it out, it actually does seem to resemble the beginnings of a guacamole. I'd say that it temporarily adds some moisture to the hair, but it doesn't seem to last for more than that one shampoo & rinse. This wouldn't be bad as a daily conditioner, actually, for the dry hair types out there. But it's far from being an ideal weekly conditioning treatment.

Goldwell Kerasilk Treatment - Speaking of weekly conditioning treatments, this one is quite good. You can feel the difference in your hair right away. It's softer and more manageable as you blowdry and style. This was recommended to me by a TradeSecrets salesperson years ago and quite affordable at $11.99. It is a little small and I believe a bigger version is in the stores, but I honestly don't spend all that much time pampering my hair. (I've used it only once since I got it again a few weeks ago.) It was my second time purchasing this product.

Phyto Universal Elixir Scalp Stimulant - I checked out the Canadian price for this at Sephora and it's about $50. I bought it for $5 at a sidewalk sale back in February. Thank goodness, because I hate this so much. (I know, I am brutal on these products today.) It's the smell, mostly. It's so strong and overpowering that it's nearly headache inducing. (If I were the type to get headaches often, this would trigger it.) Even after rinsing, shampooing, conditioning, styling and spraying, the smell lingers. It doesn't seem so bad at first, but one day I just dowsed my scalp with it in hopes of seeing an improvement in the dryness, and there was little to no payoff. I just stunk for for an entire day with dry scalp and felt so gross that I had to wash it out that very same night. I don't know if this is one of those products that you have to devote yourself to regularly in order to seen an improvement, but I tried it for two weeks before the smell got to me and I just can't subject myself to it again. I'm not sure what will become of the remaining product. Maybe I'll use it to fend off the raccoons that like to nest in our backyard shed seasonally.

MoroccanOil - I featured this as #2 in my 2010 faves list and I continue to love it to this day. I reserve this for days I use heat styling, which isn't often. It makes a huge difference in how soft and smooth my hair is. It also smells fantastic, like a tropical vacay in a bottle, and I wish they would come out with a perfume version of it. The entire line of MoroccanOil products are on my beauty lust list. But it's taking me forever to get through this bottle alone, which I purchased for just under $40 at a salon during a 20% sale over a year and a half ago. I'm only halfway through the bottle, or not even. But it's so good that I'd go out and buy the next bottle at regular price as soon as I run out. So, yay, we can end the post on a positive note after all!

I've learned something by going through this list. I'm very unhappy with most of my hair care products. I keep buying cheap things and falling for gimmicky names and claims that I know aren't true even as I hand over the cash for them. Well, maybe it's time to invest in better quality items and less quantity. I can't wait to finish using up these subpar shampoos and conditioners so that I can be on the hunt for the good stuff!

What are you using lately? Got any recommendations for normal wavy hair and dry scalp?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Confessional/Haul #5: By Terry Products (Birthday Haul)

For the first time in years, I did not receive any beauty products as birthday gifts. *pout pout* To be fair, I'm still collecting meals and outings from my friends, so I don't know if my mass purchase was premature...... but oh what the hell. You're all dying to see what I got, right?

The Canadian Sephora stores, or at least the ones in Toronto, used to carry the full line of By Terry products. You can still find the original brush foundation online. They are friggin' expensive, you guys. Wait until you see how much I saved before yelling at me for breaking the rules. First I caught the lipstick for 50% off at my local Sephora months but the others were snagged later at Winners where I saved even more.

I hear that the Sephoras in Vancouver still carry this brand, so the West Coast gals can still break their bank accounts over this stuff at regular price. You'd think that based on the allure of its luxe status it would be sold at Holt Renfrew, but nope. Which means I have no idea where you would find them in Toronto once they completely disappear from Sephora and Winners. Apparently the brand has achieved cult status, but I don't know anyone who uses it, probably because I don't know anyone who is rich or crazy enough to buy it.

By Terry Ultra-Correcting Liquid Foundation in 6 Sunny Beige:
Original price $110
Purchased for $24.99

By Terry Velvet Cream Blush in 2 Peach Nude:
Original price $45
Purchased for $9.99

By Terry Ultra-Fine Eye Shadow in 15 Pearly Flannel:
Original price $44
Purchased for $9.99

By Terry Tinted Replenishing Lip Care in 6 Devil Rose:
Original price $52
Purchased for $12.99

By Terry Intense Hydra Plump Lipstick in 6 Vanilla Cinnamon:
Original price $50-something
Purchased for $20-something

You do the math. Having tested the products, they're definitely worth the money I spent. But would I ever buy them at regular price? Never.

My favourite from the stash is the blush, I think, particularly because I'm lacking that pretty peach/coral shade since I was so partial to neutral pinks in the past.

But the product is ridiculously small. It's the same size as the eye shadow!

I really debated over the blush because of it, but the colour pulled me in. And when have I ever finished a blush before? Never. Never even hit pan on a blush, as a matter of fact. The cute little size is perfect for throwing into a purse or makeup bag for when you're on the go. Let me tell you: it blends so beautifully that I don't regret it at all.

As for the shadow, I don't have any powder shadow in a silvery shade, so between this Pearly Flannel, a midnight blue and a striking purple, I chose this. Now I kind of wish that I had gone for the blue, but I'd probably get more wear out of this than a scary dark blue or purple. The quality is superb. I'd go so far as to say it's better than Bobbi Brown eye shadows.

Here's another look at how the product sizes compare with other familiar products:

As far as packaging goes, my fave is the lipstick.

Vanilla Cinnamon is the perfect Mad Men-esque lipstick for me. Not too matte and not too glossy. I feel that it adds a certain dignity to my looks, which most people think falls in the 21-25 age category. I know it's supposed to be a compliment but I'm actually kind of insulted when people are so shocked by the fact that I'm 33. Ah, the Asian blessing/curse.

As for the gloss, it's on the short side but makes up for it by being super fat. The NARS lip gloss, which I've always felt to be anorexic, is definitely a starving model standing next to a healthy size 6 gal. The purple that you see is actually the purple colour of the gloss. But it applies sheer so the look is natural in the end. (Sorry, had a hard time capturing an accurate shot so I left out the swatch.) I don't have any lip product in a purple hue, though I have plums. I think this makes up for bypassing NARS Nana.

I'm test-driving the foundation right now as we speak. It applied like a dream and has a wonderful natural yet matte finish that I have not experienced with any other foundation before, including my all-time favourite, Laura Mercier Oil Free. It's medium coverage and I need two light coats on the bad areas of my cheek that are acne-scarred. As for the shade, it's a 95% match (amazing), leaning ever so slightly on the ashy side but can be corrected with bronzers and luminizers. I'm curious to see how it will last in the heat of summer when I become truly foundation-challenged with my oily skin.

And indeed, every single one of these products smell like roses, which is a trademark of By Terry. It adds to the feeling of luxury as you pamper.

Well, there we have it. Sometimes I think, more than the products themselves, it's really the bargains I have trouble resisting. Maybe I'll be better at practicing restraint by the time I'm 34. ;) But for this week, I'll be enjoying my new "acquisitions" (holla @ Caitlin) as well as lots and lots of cake.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Inventory #23: Shampoos [Edited]

[Scroll to the end of the post to see the edit!]

I must say, I am not pleased with my shampoo collection. However, not only am I under a self-ban to stop buying new products but I am doubly banned by my sister whom I share the bathroom with to stop buying new things without finishing the old, especially products that are shareable, such as shampoos. Due to this blog/project and sisterly love, I will refrain from purchasing new shampoos for the time being despite my malcontent.

Here's my hair situation. I have very wavy hair despite being fully Asian. My hair used to be straight when I was young, but the older I grew the wavier the hair. In middle school I had no idea what was happening and would brush my hair repeatedly to try to smooth it, which only resulted in a huge puffy mess. It wasn't until high school that I finally had to admit the hard truth: the shiny smooth silky straight strands that were the trademark of beautiful Asian girls were not to be mine. Not without artificial enhancement, anyway.

Since then, I have been through countless perms and straightening sessions, countless products and self-inflicted tortures of all kinds. The longest straightening process I've been through at a salon was 5-6 hours. When I think about it now, it's craziness. I can never do that to myself again.

Putting your hair through the wringer meant having to take care of it with quality products beginning with shampoos and conditioners.  The best haircare line I've ever tried was the Redken All Soft.  Great stuff, which I might go back to it at some point.  The worst is probably this Alberto thing pictured below.

Two years ago I got tired of struggling with my hair and decided to embrace its natural texture. I got a hair cut that enhanced the waves, worked the messy beach wave look and did not put a blowdryer or straightening iron to my hair for over a year. The result: healthy hair that I don't even have to brush. I finger-comb, work some mousse or spray gel to wet hair after shampoo & conditioner, let the whole thing air dry, and enjoy the waves and curls for 2-3 days until the next wash. Now I fear I've become too low maintenance, which is maybe why I ended up with the crappiest collection of cheap shampoos.

Head & Shoulders Classic Clean Shampoo - Both my sister and I suffered from dry scalp this winter, so although this is for dandruff, I figured it couldn't hurt. I tried many shampoos for dry scalp but none of it helped, including the dry scalp formula from H&S. This is actually not a bad shampoo, but I don't care for its smell and packaging. I also have no idea if it actually works for people with dandruff. My dad and brother both use it, but probably because it's the manliest looking shampoo that had been around for the longest time.

Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo - This is one of those old-school beauty products that the magazines promoted for decades. The idea is to use this once in a while to get rid of "build-up" in your hair that comes from styling products and your regular shampoo/conditioner. It made sense when I was younger and somehow it got stuck in my head. I was with a friend at Costco one day when I saw this jumbo size product and thought it would be a good idea to buy it. Well, I should have smelled it first, because it is FOUL. And not only that, I don't really believe in the get-rid-of-build-up thing anymore and I am so stupid for buying 946ml size of a crap product. Ugh. I would use it more often if it didn't smell so bad.

Bath & Body Works Warm Vanilla Sugar Moisturizing Shampoo - I wasn't kidding when I said that I really liked the smell of Warm Vanilla Sugar. Because of my dry scalp and long hair, I'm usually looking out for hydrating formulas, so when I saw that B&BW had this, I was excited. Well, it smells nice and lathers up well, and my hair isn't complaining, but it made my scalp incredibly dry. I think it became more dry than the usual. So I have to put this on a break until situation improves and sadly not buy it ever again.

Alberto European Moisture Soak Shampoo - I am not a shampoo snob. You've seen that I have a love for the cheapest of drugstore products as well as more luxurious items. But this shampoo is just awful. There's not a single moisturizing thing about it and my hair feels dry after I use it. I wonder if Europeans cringe when they see that this thing claims to be from Europe or derived from a European formula. Europe's a big continent. Just what exactly is the Euro factor involved? For that matter, who the f--- is Alberto?

I don't like the idea of spending more than $5 on a shampoo, but after my sister and I are done with these, I might go back to the Redken All Soft line. Or I might default to my drugstore faves, which are Herbal Essences and Fructis. They're not super great but I don't really have any complaints.

What are your fave shampoos and how do you deal with crappy shampoos when you do end up with them?

[EDIT: Of course, as usual I manage to find a few more products that were kicking around in hidden corners. I have an Ojon package I got as a gift a few years ago as well as a Rusk pack which I also got for free from a salon after buying too many nail polish one dreary afternoon. ;)

I haven't tried either of these yet so not much to say except to show you some close-ups (and yay, I don't have to buy new shampoos for a loooooooong time!):

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Inventory #22: Body Treatments (and Misc.)

I thought I would have to showcase only one body scrub, but upon rummaging, of course I discovered a few other things that I had forgotten about. Come on out, guys! [/Jeff Probst voice]  (Sorry, I've been watching a lot of Survivor lately.)

Philosophy Pure Grace Perfumed Hot Salt, Tub and Shower Scrub - I think they can do better with the name. How about just Hot Salt Scrub? These salt granules are fairly coarse but melt down as you scrub and mix with water. The entire line of the Pure Grace products all smell exactly the same, and you definitely get that pampered feeling even as you strenuously work to slough off dead skin.

Soft Soap Body Butter Coconut Scrub Body Buff Wash - Speaking of names, this one is all sorts of messed up.  I don't think there are enough beads in this thing to qualify it as a scrub, so it's like an exfoliating body wash, maybe?  I just picked it up because it was on sale and haven't used it yet.  Thought it'd come in handy on those weeks when I can't do a proper scrub. [Edited to add: Definitely not a scrub! Moving it to the body cleanser category.]

The Body Shop Peppermint Cooling Foot Spray and Reviving Leg Gel - Everyone has one of these in their stash, right?  Something like this always ends up in a gift basket that you receive from some place or another.  I received this duo after sandal season was already over and haven't had a chance to try them yet.  I was using a different foot spray last year that deodorized and refreshed but with a kind of strange smell, so I'm looking forward to the familiar and pleasing scent of peppermint this summer.

Sephora Brand Shimmer Oil Spray
- This goes with the shimmer body cream from the last inventory.  Something else to look forward to for the summer.  I'm not really into turning my body into a shimmery oil slick, but who knows what I'll get into this year, having delved into the world of sparkly and crackly nail polishes already.

However I'm slightly wary of the separation in the bottle.  Even after some vigorous shaking, the bed of shimmer at the bottom refuses to merge with the liquid.

Has anyone used this and have any advice pour moi?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mistake Purchase: Urban Decay Naked Palette

Gather around, my little pretties, and let me tell you the story of my brush with the most famous eyeshadow palette of all time.

There once was a cutting edge makeup company called Urban Decay whose much lauded eye shadows retailed for about $20 each. One day they announced the release of a Naked Palette, comprised of 12 neutral everyday shades, a brown/black duo ended eyeliner and a mini size of their famous shadow primer potion, all for the amazing price of USD$40-something dollars. Beauty addicts across the globe rejoiced! Swatches and blog posts abounded!

And I, the proclaimed reductionista, though tempted by the spectacular deal, looked at the palette in person twice at Sephora and declared a hearty "NAY."

Weeks passed and the palette flew off the shelves, in stores and online. Those who heard about the palette too late never even caught a glimpse in person. They could hardly believe that such a thing was real. More weeks passed and the shelves remained empty. Months passed. Rumours spread of the palette being sold out, forever discontinued, returning with different items and higher price. Some began to lose hope of ever seeing the palette.

And I, the reductionista, began to doubt my perhaps overhasty refusal to consider the palette a holy grail product. The seduction of the Naked Palette, now that it was out of reach, was too much even for me. I began to long for this palette, kicking myself now and then whenever I caught sight of blog posts rejoicing in the purchase of this elusive product.

'I must have this palette,' thought I. But how was I to obtain it?

Being a resident in the remote frosty landscape called Canada, where Sephora refuses to deliver without a minimum of CDN$125 worth of purchase, where tax, duty and price adjustment makes purchasing most products online a very costly exercise, I thought long and hard (really, only two seconds) before scouring the local Craigslist postings. It yielded results such as this post, leading to quick-witted lasses who were out to make a buck off the desperate beauty community. As someone who likes to write scathing posts to scalpers who sell hugely inflated amounts on the Tickets section of Craigslist, I was outraged and appalled.

I did not search very hard, for I was hoping to save myself the money and guilt by never having to see it in person again, when one boring afternoon during work, I stepped into a Shoppers Drug Mart in downtown Toronto and beheld the glowing light of the sign U R B A N  D E C A Y at the far end of the newly renovated Beauty Boutique section.

'No way,' thought I, heart starting to pound and palms becoming sweaty. 'The shelves look fully stocked, so shiny and new. Dare I hope...?'

I did. I saw. And paid nearly $60 in Canadian after taxes for the Naked Palette at last.

I carried my precious cargo home and debated long and hard. Do I open it and make it unreturnable? Did I really need this palette after all, even after all this time of longing and pining?

I did what I usually do with a purchase. Tear it open and swatch immediately.

I thought that I fell in love, but alas, it was a delusion. For a few blissful days, I was happy with my palette. I kept it in a special place away from the other makeup so that the packaging wouldn't get destroyed or dirty. Sometimes I'd just stare at it or stroke the velvet brown covers (seriously, such nice packaging) and pondered whether together the palette and I were meant to be.

Weeks passed and new spring collections emerged. New palettes such as the Smashbox In Bloom began to catch my fickle eye. Soon I started to forget that I had the Naked Palette, taking it for granted.

'Were you really worth $60?' I started to question. 'Did I just want you because others wanted you so badly and you were unattainable?'

The answers to me were: no, yes, yes. And just like that, our love affair ended.

I put my poor Naked Palette up on the same Craigslist arena and it took less than 12 hours to reach a deal with an honest fan of Urban Decay who would treasure the palette in a way I never could. I packed it lovingly in its original box and bid it a fond adieu for a modest $40 due to it being used.

And somewhere, the palette and the new owner are living happily ever after, for so long as she does not hit pan.


Congratulations to those who made it to the end of the story. I know that the more concise a post the better, what with many of us subscribing to dozens of blogs and dozens of posts to keep up with. What can I say? I like to dramatize a bit. And was there ever a beauty product in the history of cosmetics that caused such a fervor and drama as this Naked Palette?

For those lost souls in Toronto who are scouring the earth, it's right here at the Shoppers Drug Mart in BCE Place, financial district. And their shelves are always fully stocked. While we're at it, I might as well tell you that they also carry the 24/7 Anniversary Set which has also been sold out for a long time at Sephora.

And you're welcome.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Inventory #21: Body Moisturizers

Without further ado, my somewhat modest stash:

Four lotions (one of which is now gone), three body butters, one tinted lotion and one body oil.  Not very fancy. I guess I'm MUCH more low maintenance when it comes to body vs face.

Fave scented lotions: Bath & Body Works Warm Vanilla Sugar Body Cream and Philosophy Pure Grace Body Lotion. In terms of moisturizing power, they're both average. Not super great but not bad either. I like to match my scents and use the same scented shower gel, so I'm into the Warm Vanilla Sugar one lately. I ran out of the Pure Grace shower gel but haven't had the heart to spend so much on it again just to smell like it in the shower when I can spray the perfume on afterwards. Therefore, Pure Grace lotion has been neglected in the past few months. I should rotate it back in.

Fave Cheap Buys: Vaseline Dry Skin Conditioning Lotion and Johnson's Baby Lotion.  I like these better in the summer when my skin isn't as dry. But I really like the unscented Vaseline for days when I don't want to smell like anything. I gave away this particular Johnson's Vanilla Oatmeal Body Lotion to my married sister because I didn't like the smell (it was sealed in the drugstore, as all baby products should be). She said she loved it so it all works out! One less product for me, yay!

Preferred Winter Moisturizers: Body Butters: Sephora Brand Vanilla Cupcake, Sephora Brand Coconut Cream and Fruits & Passion Manoi Nourishing Butter. I loooooooove body butters. The bigger the tub, the better. It's all I can do to stop myself from stocking up on every single type of body butter I come across. My fave of the three is the one from Fruits & Passion. The creamy texture is divine and the smell of the Monoi butter isn't overpowering like the ones from Sephora. It has a permanent place on my vanity and I use it as a hand cream also.

Specials: Body Oil and Tinted Body Moisturizer: Neutrogena Sesame Formula Body Oil and Sephora Brand Beach Glow Melted Body Butter. I like the idea of body oil but not sure that I actually like it for real. In the winter, you can start with a body oil and then add a layer of lotion or cream on top if you suffer from extra dryness. In the summer, the oil gives a nice glow and sheen even without the use of tinted creams. Maybe my lukewarm feeling towards the oil has to do with the smell instead, because this sesame formula is just kind of meh. Nothing exciting. As for the Beach Glow thing here, I haven't really had a chance to try it since I got it at the end of last summer and it's been a long dreary winter.

Another inventory down and just a few more to go! After the inventories, I'll go back to the same categories and give you an update on how I'm doing, what has been discarded or added to the stash. In the meantime, stay moisturized for the last leg of this dreadful cold season! It's almost over!!