Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Preemptive Strike: Makeup Bans!

A dangerous season approaches for us makeup maniacs. Come October, we will be wading through countless reviews and posts promoting the Holiday 2011 collections from the likes of Evil Chanel, Evil Dior and Evil Guerlain. My weak will not be able to withstand the onslaught. Therefore, a preemptive measure is crucial if I am to survive the holidays with extra dollars in my pocket!

I've been contemplating several different types of makeup bans but hesitant to post without committing fully to the endeavour. My original ideas (several times revised) didn't really work. I need to impose something realistic and doable without killing my makeup-loving soul. So here's what I've come up with.

No New Lippies...

...until I've completely finished at least five. Unless you see five lipsticks, glosses or stains pass through my empties posts, I am not allowed to purchase a new lippie. Lip balms don't count.

No New Eye Shadows...

...until I've hit pan on at least one shade. It's pathetic how spare I am on shadows yet I am unable to quell the urge to give in to pretty new colours. No shadows until I see pan! I have never ever hit pan on a shadow before! God help me!!!

No New Eyeliners...

...until I've either finished one completely or somehow gotten rid of at least half of my stash. No pencils, no felt tips, no liquids, no gels, no creams... no liners.

I've chosen the three categories of makeup that I tend to accrue quickly yet can't seem to use up or even rotate between properly. I always end up reaching for the same lippies over and over again, the same neutral shadows on the days when I actually bother with them, and I ignore liners almost completely. I've simply run out of excuses with these three things and need to experiment heavily with the products in my stash before getting any more new ones.

It's my hope that with an early start -- and the aid of a public proclamation -- I can keep myself in check better from now on. The three bans start as of today. There is no expiration date. I'm hopeful that the lippies ban will lift within a few months and the shadows ban in perhaps half a year. As for the liner ban, it may become a permanent thing. (I'll explain my issues with it in depth at some point in the future.)

Are you on a Project 10 Pan or some sort of self-imposed ban? If yes, let's band together and stay strong! If no, I will live vicariously through you in the next few months!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Inventory #28: Brushes

The first time I was told that I needed to buy makeup brushes was years ago at a Laura Mercier makeover. It was my first time at Laura Mercier, and the MUA on the job was a sweet and lovely young woman who kindly advised that brushes get the job done much better. We were getting along splendidly and I was learning a lot from her. Then an egotistical regional manager of some sort who happened to be visiting the location that day butted into our conversation and told me in a very aggressive tone that I must use brushes to apply makeup or else I was wasting my time and just asking for trouble. One, I was horrified by her manner. Two, I was horrified by the price of the brushes. I distinctly recall leaving the scene with a lip liner, blush and lip gloss -- but no brushes. It took a few years before I even began to consider makeup brushes as a necessity.

Even now, if there's anything I skimp on, it's brushes. Many say they are the tools of the trade -- that in order to maximize the benefits of makeup, it's worth investing in the best brushes possible. I am no brush expert and I don't work in the makeup industry or go in front of HD TV. I only need the basics to slap on what I need for the day. I have definitely advanced enough to dispense with the tiny useless complimentary brushes that sometimes accompany a powder or blush (though some are still very useful and not at all worthless) -- but I've yet to splurge on MAC's handmade brushes or any high-end brand brushes. I accrue the brushes one by one as needed.

So, I do not in any way struggle with accruing makeup brushes. I would in fact dispense with the whole thing if I could.

Method of storage: small clear vases from the dollar store. Two vases: one for the "small" brushes, one for the "big" brushes. Visually terrible but they serve the purpose.

Here's what I've managed to attain so far:

1. Lise Watier Powder Brush which I use as a bronzer brush. It's rather old -- my sister received it as a gift at some point and I stole it from her -- and the ends are breaking off. My other sister calls it "bear paw." Perhaps it's time for it to go into the empties bag.

2. Sephora Collection Pro Natural Rounded Powder Brush #41 which is super soft and fluffy but sheds ever so lightly and annoyingly after each encounter. It was one of the few brushes I actually spent some money on, so I was disappointed. Not enough to return it (though I suppose I can still do that) but mildly annoyed at the disparity between its potential and actuality.

3. Sonia Kashuk Blush Brush which I picked up for something like $5 at Winners. I was looking for a traditional blush brush that didn't cost a lot. It's not super soft or luxurious at all but does the job. Some day I will replace this with a nicer fluffier one since I love blush so much.

4. Sephora Collection Classic Angled Blush Brush #40 which I got only because the next brush is on its last legs and I got used to using an angled blush brush for a while. Been a while since I've used it since I've been relying on the Sonia Kashuk above.

5. Lancome Angled Blush Brush which I got for free in some huge mega bonus thing a long time ago. It's one of those things that are clearly not up to par with the real brushes that are sold for super expensive prices, but I love me some free brush I do not have to pay for. I used it for a few years and noticed it's really starting to shed rapidly now and just keep it around for swatches, not to actually use on my face.

6. Sephora Collection Classic Foundation Brush which is just your generic foundation brush for liquid foundations. I used it diligently for the past 3-4 years but discovered that it's not the best brush for some of my mattifying and oil-free foundations which tend to be thicker in texture. This brush is rather bendy and I find myself wanting something that's a bit more dense or thicker.

7. Make Up For Ever HD Blush Brush #55N which I got at the height of my YouTube beauty video addiction. Every "guru" was waving around a duo-fibre brush and made me think life wasn't worth living without it. I also had a deluxe sample of the MUFE HD Microfinish Blush which I was having a hard time with, so I thought the brush would be worth the splurge. It's a good brush, I guess, and I've even used it to apply the MUFE Mat Velvet + Matifying Foundation which dries really quickly and doesn't work as well with the classic foundation brush. I need to experiment more with this brush and figure out other uses for it and get my money's worth.

Bare Escentuals brushes from
the BareMinerals Starter Kit.

8. Bare Escentuals Full Coverage Kabuki Brush which I currently use as a powder brush to set my makeup in the morning. It's been a long time since I've messed around with Bare Escentuals and their annoying loose powder pots, but the starter kit was kind of worth it just for the brushes alone. These may be the best quality brushes in my possession.

9. Bare Escentuals Flawless Application Face Brush which I use either as a powder brush or a blush brush, depending on how many brushes I've used and not cleaned in a given week.

10. Bare Escentuals Maximum Coverage Concealer Brush which I use as a cream eye shadow brush. I find this just the right size to dip into a MAC Paint Pot. Love it.

11. Tarte Double-Ended Liner Brush that comes free with the EmphasEYES Waterproof Clay Shadow/Liner. The clay pot dried up so quickly that I barely even had a chance to use it but the brush remains with me. It's a decent brush that can dip into liquids, creams and powders. But I don't use it much simply because I have such a hard time with liners (another story for another day).

12. Sephora Flat Eye Liner Brush that was on clearance for $5. Haven't used it but couldn't resist the bargain.

13. Cargo EyeLining Angled Brush that was on clearance when Sephora booted Cargo. I love the long, skinny handle and the angled cut of the brush but find that the bristles are weak and tend to fan out of shape quickly. Don't use it much.

14. Laura Mercier Flat Eye Liner Brush which I bought while on a mad, therapeutic shopping spree during which I threw in the Cake Liner and the brush without thinking of how rarely I use eye liner. Fortunately my sister likes to use it now and then so it's not a complete waste.

15. Sephora Collection Classic Concealer Brush #46 which I use as a cream shadow brush or lip brush instead. The shape and size is just right for my eyelids and I find it's too big and not precise enough as a concealer brush. The synthetic stiffness of the bristles also make it perfect for dabbing on cream shadows.

16. Sephora Collection Classic Blending Eye Brush #29 which I don't use as much as I should. Lately I've been dabbing on some solo cream shadow with my finger and running out the door. It's time to experiment with colours and blending!

17. Sephora Collection Classic Small Synthetic Eyeshadow Brush #26 which is so small that I get impatient using it on my eyes and now use as a concealer brush instead. As a concealer brush it's great and I have no complaints. Hmm... I have too many Sephora brushes.

18. Quo dome shaped smudge brush thingy... that I have no idea how it came to be in my collection. I can't remember buying it. Puzzled now.

19. Nameless All Over Large Shadow Brush which I found at Winners for about $5. For some cheap nameless thing, it's not bad!

20, 21 and 22. Free Lancome brushes -- see #5 above.

23, 24, 25 and 26. More free Lancome brushes in travel size! I've never used these and can tell from looking at them that they're not very good, but I haven't the heart to throw them away.

27. Somewhere lost in the mess that is my room is my retractable Quo lip brush.

28. In my travel bag is a retractable EcoTools Powder Brush.

Well, that's it for me. I'd like to be able to get some better quality brushes, especially for foundation and blush which I use all the time, but as for the rest, there's no need to go all out and start accruing MAC and Bobbi Brown brushes. What kind of bugs me upon looking at this as a whole is how much of a mismatched jumble my collection is. It would be nice to have a complete matching set some day... I guess... maybe.

How do you feel about makeup brushes? Priority? Worth the dollars invested into them? Do you have full matching sets and kits?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dior Mitzah Collection: "Camel" Nail Polish

Here's a quick post to let the Canadian gals know that the Dior Mitzah Collection has finally hit the Sephora shelves! Go nuts!

Ever since Cafe Makeup posted about the Mitzah nail polishes (see her fantastic posts here and here), I've been eagerly waiting for it to reach this bitterly cold and isolated landscape we live in. The Bloor St/Avenue Road Sephora put up a huge banner which alerted me to their divine presence, and I nearly got run over by a car as I stopped dead in my tracks before suddenly bolting to cross the street.

I stormed into the Sephora like a mad woman, ran straight to the Dior shelf and shocked the hell out of a saleswoman and a customer by demanding, "Are they all sold out?!?"

They both looked at me like I was a crazy person, then moved graciously out of my way as people often do when they encounter the crazies. I was torn at that point. Which products do I go home with? All of them? Just the nail polishes? Just one nail polish? Gaaaah!

The salesgirl came back to finally offer her assistance and insight. We both thought Ebony was sort of being done and re-done over and over this season. It's a slightly more blackened and greyed version of Underground, which Dior released not all that long ago. My take was that the reason the shades look so good is because (a) they're packaged in Dior, and (b) Ebony and Camel side by side go to together. Take one solo and they don't look anywhere near as good as they do together.

Yet I was not convinced that Ebony is unique enough to pay Dior prices for. I had my doubts about Camel as well and swatched and squirmed and debated for God knows how long. The salesgirl got tired of me and eventually wandered off.

Well, I came home with just Camel, knowing that I did have something kind of similar in my stash but fairly confident that they differed enough to justify the purchase.

Dior Mitzah Camel

It even comes in a special box.

I've been noticing camel coloured clothing everywhere lately. It's usually paired with navy blue, which is a beautiful combination. I love navy clothing but camel tends to wash me out so I avoid camel coloured clothes. It's nice that I can have a little camel on nails at least.


I'm not a huge fan of the Dior shimmer, but it looks really nice here.

And now for the comparison...

Left to right: OPI A-Taupe the Space Needle (yeah, I caved to one from Touring America Collection), OPI San Tantonio (another from the Texas Collection), Dior Camel, MAC In the Buff (click here to see my review of In the Buff way back when no one was reading this blog... :))

[Edited: Becca Lost Weekend Nail Collection also has a beautiful camel called "Saddle Up" -- see Zuneta's YouTube video here. It also has some great application tips by the manicurist!]

As I suspected, Camel is the closest to In the Buff, but In the Buff has a sickly jaundiced look when compared to Camel's smoothness and warmth. I breathe a sigh of relief at not having brought home a dupe.

I know that this collection is going to go fast, especially the nail polishes. I normally don't like to encourage lemmings but feel it's my duty to warn you to GO NOW if you want a piece of the Mitzah action. When I checked today, Holt Renfrew and The Bay did not stock this collection (not sure if they will in October or never), so please go straight to Sephora.

Unfortunately in Canada they don't have the Mitzah Collector Palette Panther Eyeshadow that is the crown jewel of the collection (salesgirl said it is "extremely limited"), but they do have the similarly outrageously expensive Mitzah 5-Couleurs Eyeshadow.

Will you be indulging in the Dior Mitzah Collection, or like Larie do you only see a dirty slobbering animal?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Progress! My fourth empties post.

I am getting better at this. It's a semi-monthly empties post, baby! Yeah!

I've been concentrating my efforts on half-finished containers and seasonal things. Skincare and beauty products aren't like sandals that can be put away and brought out again intact. It pains me to throw away anything that isn't used to the last drop, so I am on a mission to get rid of as many summer things as possible before winter!

Herbal Essences Hello Hydration Moisturizing Shampoo

I really liked this shampoo for a while and this was maybe my third or fourth time using it. However, by the end of this bottle, I felt like the sweet coconut scent started to drift over to the overly sweet and sickening territory. It's something I've been going through lately with perfumes as well. Part of it is due to the changing season and I'm looking for headier scents, less sugary. In any case, that's the only reason it might be a while before I return to this shampoo. It's definitely an okay-to-good shampoo for the normal hair types. (Sophisticated rating system here, I know.)

Sunsilk Waves of Envy Sea Mist

First introduced here, mentioned here, and finally reviewed in full here.

I've had this bottle forever it seems. As mentioned, this product is now irreplaceable. So long, Sea Mist! It's been swell.

John Frieda Brillian Brunette Satin Shine Finishing Creme

I swear to God, I had this thing for about 3-4 years. Maybe more. Holy hell, did it take long to finish.

Guess what I did? Went out and bought it again. Once I figured out that it works much better on curly/wavy hair than it does on straightened hair (applying it after straightening my hair brings the waves back again for some reason), I've been using it to touch up on the frizz and waves. Too much will look greasy and weight hair down, but just the right amount will add a nice sheen. Solid product for decent price!

The Body Shop Olive Body Scrub

I meant to do a review of it first but here we are with a finished tub. I wish these Body Shop scrubs would come in a larger size. Do they? I've checked at the stores but all they have are these 200ml jars.

Anyway, I really really like this. I like the fresh smell that isn't anything like olives, I'm not terribly impressed with the sickly green hue that resembles a guacamole gone bad but the grains buff nicely while the paste mixture doesn't leave skin feeling stripped or dry. Yet I can't say that it's any better than the St. Ives Apricot Scrub. What some people found way too harsh for the face, I used for the body. What matters then is the price difference. $5 or double that? Let's just say... I've been waiting for St. Ives to go on sale.

The Body Shop Tea Tree Cleansing Wipes

I know. Again. I have one more pack of this left and am debating whether I should continue to buy them. On the one hand, they are the best wipes ever created for oily/acne-prone skin. On the other, I could forget the wipes and just do a double-cleanse at the sink every night. I do need to work through a lot more facial cleansers so I might give the wipes a rest and concentrate my energy on finishing up facial cleansers. Go me!

Rembrandt Premium Whitening Toothpaste

This is the most expensive toothpaste I have ever paid for or heard of in my life. CAD$10, y'all. I know. What the hell, right? But it had to be tried. And having tried it, I think it does work nicely if you use it diligently immediately after a visit to the dentist. I'm constantly drinking coffee or wine or whatever else, so stains and I are in a stalemate. I think what I'm worried about most is enamel wear/sensitivity, so I'll probably go back to using Sensodyne which only costs CAD$4 compared to this monstrous extravagance.

Okay, now you can really get excited. I've finished a makeup product!


Make Up For Ever Mat Velvet + Matifying Foundation

Hallelujah! It was carried over from last summer and I had to wait until I became more tanned before it could be used. It's an extremely drying foundation, so only the super oily will derive any benefit from this. Previously mentioned here and here. I don't think that I'll buy this again because I now prefer Laura Mercier Silk Creme which provides much better coverage, although Mat Velvet is supposed to be full coverage as well.

Smith's Rosebud Salve

This little tin requires no introduction. (But previously reviewed here, FYI.) Who doesn't own one or ten tins of the great Rosebud Salve? I love this balm but refuse to buy it again until I have finished all the other lip balms in my stash (currently five). My only gripe with this balm is the overinflated Canadian price. Currently it stands at $9 in Sephora while the tube version which contains less product costs more at $9.50 (someone explain that to me please). If it hits the $10 mark, I might never buy it again. It was $4 when the craze started, which was not that long ago. If I hadn't known that it was once so much more cheaper, I might not care as much. But I guess I'm doing that old people thing where you look back upon "the good old days" and wonder why everything is so degenerate now. Back then, air was fresher, water was cleaner and lip balms were cheaper. The good old days.

[EDITED: The tin is $9.50 and the tube is $8.50. I stand corrected.]

Vasanti Conquer 3-in-1 Stick and Laura Mercier Foundation Primer (Sample)

I've used and really liked a deluxe sample size of the Laura Mercier Foundation Primer. It had been a while and I wanted to re-try the primer, so I got a sample of that when I bought the Loose Transluscent Powder. I still really like it, so I might go ahead and get the full size. It might be nice for winter and sometimes it's nice to work with a non-mattifying primer that still controls oil and keep your makeup from melting off.

As for the Vasanti Conquer, I really like it but don't want to pay CAD$15 for it again. I realize I sound really cheap when it comes to lip balms, but something in me burns knowing that chapstick-wearers can slap down a dollar or two and walk away with perfectly moisturized lips while people like me with sandpaper lips have to fork over at least $10 for a nice balm that doesn't smell bad or taste funny. Not fair.

In case you're wondering how I got all the product out of the tube, I took a sample jar from Sephora and emptied the balm from the tube with a toothpick. What would have been really handy in this situation is one of those little spatulas that come with a tiny sample jar of Creme de La Mer.

9 products + 1 sample gone. I love the feeling of throwing out a well-used item. How about you? Been emptying anything lately?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Drugstore Discovery: NYC Color Wheel Mosaic Face Powder in "Rose Glow"

My friend J who actually reads this blog commented the other day that I don't discriminate between high-end names and drugstore brands. That is true for the most part. I usually operate on a more complicated system of bias and prejudice that no one has the time to analyze unless they're getting paid for it. The point is I'm glad that I haven't lost the ability and desire to swoop in on a bargain buy even after my first Chanel makeup purchase.

One of the drugstore makeup brands I have a strange fondness for is NYC New York Color. I honestly don't know why. I didn't grow up with it nor did I even notice it until two years ago. Maybe it's the super low price range or the simplicity of their packaging. Perhaps it's the way all these things together point to the refreshing way the brand doesn't claim to be more than what it is. According to the NYC website: "Uptown Style: Down to Earth Prices." Yup, sign me up for down to earth prices!

Color Wheel Mosaic Face Powder in Rose Glow

I picked this face powder because (a) it was on sale for something crazy like CAD$2.99 (sold online for USD$4.99), and (b) it's PRETTY.

The Claim:
Enhances skin tone with a fresh rosy glow and helps reduce shine. Oil absorbing. Fragrance Free.

For the record, I've been remiss in posting ingredients in my reviews but that's something I'm striving to improve going forward.

On me it wears like a very soft blush. It has been a while since my blush has been so subtle, but it's great for the no-makeup makeup days when you want to add a bit of something without looking "done."

There are four different shades that can be swirled together for a rather natural and softly pigmented colour. It's like having a powder, bronzer, matte sculptor and shimmery blush combined together.

Despite the shimmery bits, the general effect is on the matte side.

I'm kind of impressed with this product given the amazingly low price. It's densely packed and has almost no fall-out. For a powder it's pretty smooth.

The most natural blush I owned prior to this was Benefit Dandelion. Rose Glow is not as pink as Dandelion, which I appreciate. On my NC30-ish skin, it's oh-so-natural. Uh oh, I'm starting to love mosaic powders.

Apparently there was a Peach Glow version of this blush that was discontinued, which is too bad. The other options are Transluscent Highlighter Glow, Pink Cheek Glow and All Over Bronze Glow. I'm currently drowning in powders and bronzers right now; otherwise I would have picked up everything in the series given the bargain price.

NYC products are sold at Rexall/Pharma Plus across Canada and online here.

Have you tried NYC makeup before? What's your bargain fave/recent discovery?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Essie "Very Structured" and its dupe Misa "Moody Models"

Despite some valiant lemming-crushing, I succumbed to the glory of autumnal hues even though the trees haven't turned colours yet.

Let's play a guessing game. If you know me by now, you might be able to pick out the two colours I would be most drawn to from Essie Fall 2011 Collection.

Scroll down to see the answer!








Selected: "Carry On" (left) and "Very Structured" (second from right)

I offer you the paltry excuse that I had no shade quite like Very Structured in my stash. Then, as things usually will, within the same week I also managed to find Misa Moody Models which is a very close likeness of Essie Very Structured.

At a cursory glance, one might mistake Very Structured for a very warm chocolate. But clearly it has too much orange to be classified as brown. Perhaps the colour of an aged brick? Essie calls this a "classic burnt sienna." There's an old-fashioned/vintage feel to the colour that I would not be drawn to at any other time other than fall. Bravo, Essie. You've managed to reel me in yet again.

I quite like Very Structured very much. There's a definite Mad Men kind of vibe to the shade. Like I should be pairing it with an outfit composed of rich forest green or a gorgeous mustard yellow. Behold Exhibit A:

Yes? No? Maybe? I mean, speak of being structured: I give you Exhibit B.

Before I veer off wildly into TV blogging territory, here's how Very Structured compares with some better known shades.

OPI "You Don't Know Jacques" (left); Zoya "Tamsen" (right)

Very Structured looks almost orange next to the taupe-brown of OPI You Don't Know Jacques but looks brown next to the orangey tomato red of Zoya Tamsen.

Misa "Moody Models" (left); SpaRitual "Hush" (right)

However, next to a rich chocolate brown such as SpaRitual Hush, Very Structured and its near-dupe Misa Moody Models look quite orange by comparison.

However, between the two alone... I would say Very Structured leans more orange while Moody Models pulls more brown. I can see the difference but it's not by much, especially once the colours are on the nails.

I wanted to showcase both together because if you missed out on Very Structured, you can rely on Moody Models instead. Misa polishes are sold for CAD$7.99 at Trade Secrets while Essie costs around CAD$9.99-$10.99. Moody Models is a permanent shade, so there's that bonus factor as well.

I'm new to Misa nail polish but so far I have no complaints. (Will post some more in-depth reviews of Misa polishes in the future.) But if I had to choose between the two, I might go with Very Structured because I'm intrigued by the indefinable quantity of orange in the shade. The formula for both were great, though I thought Misa was just a tad more chip-prone than Essie.

Have you picked up anything from Essie's new fall collection or found a great new unique shade?