Monday, October 31, 2011

Beauty Reductionista is 1 year old!

Exactly one year ago today, it was not only Halloween 2010 but the day I became so bored and restless that Beauty Reductionista was created and I proceeded to push out five posts in rapid succession all day long. Who would have thought that a year later, we'd still be wading through so many products together?!?


Thank you so much for reading! It means a lot to me to know we not only share an insane love for beauty but just as insane an obsession to control and manage our material collection. I fear finding and maintaining that balance between the two ends is not just a 365-day task but a lifelong journey. Isn't it so strange how a beautiful lipstick can cheer us up on a gloomy day, and how the act of presenting the best version of ourselves can also manifest in becoming that best version? Yet if I am not careful, often I fall prey to depending on a purchase to lift my spirits rather than facing and conquering the true issues that plague my mind on a daily basis and the wrong mask can become my permanent face.

In the next few months or more, I'll be revisiting my inventory posts and reassessing how I've reduced (or not) in various areas and categories. In between the re-inventories, I'll also continue exploring the issues relating to beauty that we live with and struggle with.

Classical Beauty, Godward

For as long as concepts of beauty, time and history remain in flux, they're worth discussing, wouldn't you say?

*passes cupcakes & champagne all around* =)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Blog Awards!

I was tagged in two blog awards by Frances @ Spot of Tea? and Vita @ Making up 4 my age whose blogs I recently began following. Click on the links to find out more about them and give their awesome blogs some well-deserved love. Thanks again, Frances and Vita!



For each tag, I'm suppose to post seven random facts about myself. To compromise, I'll do 7 instead of 14 in this combined post. I've done a few of these in the past (click the tag label at the end of this post) so I'm trying desperately to not be repetitive. Hopefully you won't be bored to death or scared off by the end.

1. I'm a sucker for bookish type things. Books that refer to books, journals with pictures of pencils on the cover, reed diffusers with references to Thoreau on its packaging... yes, take my money please! Thoreau and Emerson are cursing us from the afterlife, screaming that we should dispense with all this materialism and go live with the raccoons and foxes in the wild. But no thanks, guys. Love reading your books in the comfort of my warm and materialistic room filled with cosmetics and cheap synthetic fragrances bearing your name.


2. I'll find a way to work the subject of coffee into every conversation. I usually get the mild brewed coffee at Starbucks, but believe it or not, there are some corners in the city without a Starbucks. Like, OMFG. As backup, I have a dozen other coffee shops that I frequent, depending on where I am and what I'm doing. At each shop, I like to order very specific things. I'll even tell you what they are:
  • Tim Hortons - Medium regular or large with one cream and two sugars.
  • Second Cup - Earl Grey tea or lattes -- their brewed coffee taste like crap.
  • Timothy's - Fancy dessert drinks -- their brewed coffee taste like crap.
  • Marcello's - Medium or large medium strength Columbian.
  • Expensive place closest to work - Medium or large dark roast. But I try not to go there - their dark roast isn't that dark and the regular is too bland.
  • Happy place near home - Large house blend.
  • Mmmmmmmmuffins - I might stop going there. Coffee is weak.
  • Fancy place close to the campus - Small coffee (their sizing is even more ridiculously oversized than Starbucks).
  • McDonald's - Regular coffee -- believe it or not, it's not that bad!
  • Random donut shop - Regular coffee.
  • Random restaurants - Regular coffee or cafe au lait.


3. I have a deep appreciation for quirkiness. My siblings and I are constantly adopting quirky people we love into our siblinghood. There's a waitlist and it has to be a unanimous vote. Quirky is an insufficient word but it basically means something we find funny and interesting, be it people or items. Like this parrot pen for one. I don't remember who gave it to me (he/she must not have been quirky enough) but I'll carry this gem to the grave. Peck, peck, peck!


4. If I could have any animal in the world as pets, I'd pick miniature horses and fainting goats. They can roam free in my backyard to their hearts' content, galloping and fainting as they please. It will be a riot.





Adorable, aren't they???

5. I haven't travelled much outside the continent but I have been to Kazakhstan of all places. Now you're all thinking of Borat but I haven't even watched it so your references will fly over my head. One of the things I did there was to go on a three-day train ride and on the first night the train ran out of water so we couldn't even wash our faces for the remainder of the trip. That had to be the biggest beauty nightmare ever. Ever.


6. I'm obsessed with checking the weather before I go out. Doesn't matter if I've already checked in the morning -- I have to check it mid-day and evening also. If it's raining as I leave the house, I'll carry the biggest umbrella and pull on a water-resistant coat and wellies. If it won't rain until later, I'll probably dress normally and tote around a mini umbrella. Lately I feel like the forecast is always wrong or not being updated frequently enough. By the way, Toronto: here's our shitty weather for the week:


7. Shuffling Jesus is one of the best things I've seen all year. If you don't know what shuffling is, watch LMFAO's Party Rock Anthem video -- it gets awesome at 3:40. I'm trying to convince my brother to dress up like the robot for Halloween but he's refusing even though I found sparkly gold leggings. I'm totally willing to be Jesus. I don't think gold leggings is asking for too much. Is it??


Now that you realize I'm much weirder than you first supposed, I pass the awards on to some of my new(ish) fabulous friends who must be hiding some similarly weird details about themselves!

Check them out -- they're awesome! Oh, and if you are one of them, there's no obligation to do the tag. But I always think it's nice to find out more about the bloggers beyond our shared love of beauty stuff. :)

Friday, October 28, 2011

October Luxe Box from Loose Button

I've been curious about the boxed beauty sampler subscriptions for a while, ever since Birchbox in the States first began to garner a lot of hype. When Loose Button sent me the October Luxe Box to review, I was eager to accept and see what little delights awaited to feed my beauty-hungry soul. For those who are unfamiliar with "the boxes": the concept is that each month, for a flat fee of $10, a box of deluxe beauty samples is delivered right to your door. Part of the appeal is the wide range of products you get to test without leaving the house, scouring the malls and stores or spending a lot of money. For the insatiably curious beauty addicts, it sounds like the perfect arrangement.


This being my first box, I was unaware that Luxe Box had recently undergone a design change. The sleek black box was sturdy and safely held the five samples without messes or hassles. You can't help but to feel giddy and excited as you begin the process of unpacking the box.


The Loose Button logo is pretty cute, though rather at odds with the stark black and white colours.


Personalizing the address for each box was a great idea. It's like receiving a present from a friend.


The personalizing continues over to the information pamphlet contained within.


I appreciate that it lists the brand, full name of product and a short description of what each item is about. The pamphlet also includes information about the size and pricing of the full size products.


My box contained the following five items:
  • Lise Watier Flash Lift Radiance Vials (x1)
  • Kerastase Elixir Ultime
  • Essie Nail Polish in "Absolutely Shore"
  • Olay Professional Pro-X Eye Restoration Complex
  • Lise Watier Plumpissimo Le Gloss in "Opalescence"


Here's a closer look at each product:

Lise Watier Flash Lift Radiance Vial


I appreciate that it's a sneak peek at a new product that hadn't yet launched in the stores when the October boxes were packed and shipped. However, it's a very small ampoule that's only good for a single use.


"A concentrate of smoothing agents and moisturizers for a lifting effect and instant radiance." The full size retails for CAD$27 for 7 x 1 ml vials. I was rather bemused after opening the package to reveal the tiny vial. You can see that it falls somewhere between the size of a small and large paperclip.


Kerastase Elixir Ultime


Kerastase is a luxe haircare brand that I've wanted to try forever. This elixir "brings shine, nourishment and deep conditioning to the hair while smoothing the hair fiber, resulting in incredible shine... also helps restore strength to the hair and protect it from external aggressors."

It sounds amazing but this vial also happens to be on the tiny side. My hair may be short but it's unruly and there's a lot of it. Even if a little of the product goes a long way, I have doubts as to whether there's enough for even one-time use.

Essie "Absolutely Shore"


A full size nail polish is always nice and it automatically makes the $10/month charge worth the risk. Unfortunately for me, I already own Absolutely Shore, which I already reviewed back in June. It's a nice colour and I like it more now than I did back then, and Essie indeed is a great nail polish brand for Loose Button to ally with.

Olay Professional Pro-X Eye Restoration Complex


This is a hefty size for an eye cream! I've been wearily watching the rising price of upper tier drugstore brands and Olay Pro-X series is quite expensive. The full size (15ml) retails for a whopping $60. Personally I find eye creams the most difficult to finish because of the tiny amount used per application, so this is as good to me as a full size product might be.

Lise Watier Plumpissimo Le Gloss in "Opalescence"


Perhaps due to the lippies ban, or just because sparkly glosses are so appealing as we approach the holidays, I was most excited to see the Lise Watier lip gloss. It's a sizeable amount and while I'm no fan of the plumping action, I look forward to layering on the pale, shimmery pink over different colours and experimenting.

And a little extra...


Conclusion


Enjoyed:
  • personalized address
  • packaging
  • free shipping/delivery
  • wide variety of products
Neutral on:
  • range of brands
  • overall sizing of samples
Suggestions:
  • instead of ambiguously promising "3, 4 or 5 products", nail down a number and stick to it (or offer the choice of choosing 3 samples for $5/month, 4 samples for $7/month, 5 samples for $10/month)
  • consider the usefulness of the sample size for the product (need more than one-time usage for skin and hair care)
  • could widen the range of brands offered in one box (Lise Watier is a good brand but two in one box is repetitive)
  • go further with the personalization (perhaps allow people to choose only what they're interested in -- i.e. receive only makeup or only skincare, etc.)
  • stick to beauty products (I've seen other/previous boxes with granola bars or chocolate -- no thanks)

While I can't argue that this box definitely contains more than the money's worth, I think several improvements can be made to aid the overall experience. Personally, I don't believe in paying for samples, which is one major reason I have yet to subscribe to any of the boxes so far. One can easily walk into a Sephora and walk out with three different samples for free each visit. I've also received a lot of hefty-sized products being passed out on the streets or at events for promotional purposes. When the box services began at $5/month, I thought the overall experience was worth it, but at $10/month, people will be extra careful about whether they want the service at all and for how long they want it. Based on the October box, I personally would not order; however, I am also someone who is fighting against the tide of products accruing in her bathroom cabinets.

This is a really lengthy way of saying that I feel rather neutral about it. I would neither encourage nor discourage subscription.

For different perspectives and opinions on Luxe Box, see what some of my favourite fellow bloggers have to say:
And to subscribe or gather more information, you can skip over to Loose Button's website.

Do you already subscribe to a sampling program? Would you? What would it take for you to sign up for a box?

October Luxe Box was provided by Loose Button for review only.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Not quite a dupe but close: Maybelline Natural Beauty vs. Dior Camel

I took a jaunt through Shoppers Drug Mart the other day, taking in what was new and interesting in the cosmetics aisle as your typical beauty addict does, at least a few times a week. (What's that? Sometimes a few times a day? Yer (we're) nuts!)

I was doing fine until I saw this little bottle, sitting there on the display among its fellow "limited edition" items which, thankfully for my wallet, weren't as interesting. Bless Maybelline for keeping it real -- it's only $5.


It's that funky camel colour that's been invading fall collections recently. This one looked a bit darker than the others... but never can tell until tested, right?

But first, note once more that it's a LIMITED EDITION colour.


This happened to be the last bottle I saw in that particular Shoppers. I heaved a heavy sigh when I saw the LE sticker. A pox on this limited edition crap! Boo! Hiss!

Ahem. [Very lengthy rant deleted.]

The shade is called Natural Beauty #805.


It falls somewhere between camel and dark flesh tone. I love the colour on me and think it'll look nice on everyone. Yes, everyone.


I didn't wear a base coat underneath it, planning for it to be only a three-day manicure. If you can detect ridges, that's just my nails and not to be blamed on the formula. It's a bit streaky and doesn't flow as nicely as Essie and OPI, but covers well with two coats. It dries relatively quickly with the finish on the flat/matte side, so a glossy top coat is recommended.


Comparison from left to right: OPI San Tan-tonio, Maybelline Natural Beauty, OPI Chocolate Moose, Dior Camel. You can tell right away that Chocolate Moose is nowhere near close, so that's out.


While at Shoppers, I was sure that Natural Beauty would be a closer match to San Tan-tonio than Camel, but I was wrong. Natural Beauty is definitely more mellow yellow.


With Dior Camel, which I reviewed last month here. Not a bad copy, Maybelline. However, Camel is lighter, contains micro shimmer and has a flawless formula. Natural Beauty might feel a bit flat by comparison. Still... it's only $5! I'm not complaining.


For one, it's a great seasonal colour that complements autumnal shades perfectly.


I wore it like this today with a pair of dark wash jeans and rust-coloured sweater. I could swear my morning class professor looked at me a few times like, 'WTF are you staring at your nails so much?'


"I'm sorry, sir, but I love it so much when a bargain product turns out well. You're lucky I didn't wear Camel to class today."

Oh, how I wish this conversation actually took place!

For those who missed out on Camel, would you say Natural Beauty is a good enough replacement? And if you still hate camel, that's okay. It's only $5 and less than the cost of a trip to your local Starbucks. I say it's worth the experiment.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Essie Winter 2011 Collection

This collection quietly appeared on the shelves of Trade Secrets without any of the hype that usually accompanies a new nail polish collection. I couldn't understand it at the time but today I can see why.

This was the Winter 2010 collection:


The masquerade theme is quite enticing. Individual colours are rich and intriguing, though not exactly exquisite or amazing together.

This is the Winter 2011 collection:


It's basically a paler variation of last year's shades. Cocktail bling is a great name and theme, but I'm not sure that the colours translate it successfully.

Nonetheless, when I found myself picking up one, then two, then three of the colours from the collection, I decided it might be more economical to simply purchase the mini kit of four.


I rarely purchase mini size nail polish. Mostly it has to do with storage issues. It's easy to misplace such a tiny bottle and it doesn't stack as well as the regular size. Plus, it just feels like you get more of your money's worth with the regular size.


In any case, the decision was made and the following shades came home with me. From left to right:
  • Size Matters
  • Cocktail Bling
  • Bobbing for Baubles
  • Bangle


Looking at them now, I'm not sure why I was so drawn to any of them. They don't seem all that remarkable to me tonight.


However, I enjoyed them much better once they were applied.


The formula are great, though Bangle being the pale lavender was streakier and more watery than the others. Bobbing for Baubles is my fave of the set and is almost a one-coater. I was also pleasantly surprised that Cocktail Bling didn't clash with my skin tone. Pale icy blues tend to clash with my warm skin tone.


Once I began to enjoy the visual treat before me, I started to wonder if I should have bought the full size bottles instead. It's amazing how swiftly I can span the distance between prudence to batshit crazy.

Because as nice as these are, none are exactly unique or special. They've all been done before. I happen not to own dupes because these are relatively simple shades I purposely avoid on a regular basis. And have I ever finished a nail polish before? No. Will I be reaching for these shades over and over again? Probably not.

As declared on Twitter, for those with an already large nail polish collection, Winter 2011 is an entirely skippable one. However, for those who are only beginning to grow a basic collection, you might find some of these shades necessary staples of great quality.

The mini set of four is available at Trade Secrets for CAD$16.99.

Will you be picking up any from this collection? Meh or yay?

Progress! My sixth empties post.

It's that time of the month again! The one I look forward to, that is, rather than the one that makes me snarl at people and weep at the drop of a hat while shoving chocolate bars in my mouth in rapid succession.


Caudalie Grape Water


I've had this kicking around for a while and was so relieved when the spritz dwindled to a pitiful squirt and the end was nigh. It was one of those products I bought just because I wanted to try something from the brand without spending an arm and a leg. Unfortunately I can't tell you whether it works well or not because I have oily skin and usually don't feel the need to sooth or moisturize. Sometimes I'd just spray this on my face in lieu of a moisturizer on hot summer days. It sprays a very fine mist and smells faintly fresh and grape-like. I wish I could have found a better use for it. It might work well as a moisturizing toner for those with dry skin.



Garnier Fructis Extreme Hold Spray


My sister and I both went at this spray pretty hardcore. Fortunately we both had plenty of lazy hair days during which we'd put the hair up into high bun/ponytail and spray the shit out of the whole thing. For that purpose, I'd say this spray did the job very well indeed. My hair always stayed exactly the same on those days, from morning to night. It becomes very stiff and untouchable, so if you're looking for a flexible styling spray, this isn't it.


L'Oreal True Match Super Blendable Makeup Liquid Foundation (N3 & W4)


This was my go-to drugstore foundation for a long time and I paid it a revisit last winter after years apart from it. It's a great foundation for those with normal skin but it definitely doesn't stand up to oily skin for a full day. The coverage is light to medium and the formula is on the watery side without being too thin. I love the glowy effect of this foundation but it doesn't provide me with enough coverage or staying power, which is why now I must bid it a fond farewell.


I picked up N3 because it used to be a match for my skin (or so I thought) but it's too pink. Then I picked up W4 because it's slightly darker than my tanned summer skin and great for mixing with the paler foundations in my stash. The N3 bottle is still mostly full but I'm giving up on it since it's not a match and neither the texture nor coverage suits me now. The W4 bottle is empty even though it doesn't look like it. I mixed it in with other leftover foundations into a generic plastic bottle to finish using.


Cover FX BritePrep FX Brightening Foundation Primer SPF 50


I think I got this in a kit with some other Cover FX products and thought it sounded fantastic. High SPF and a primer combined into one? Yes please!

However, I haven't gotten much use out of this product since it leaves me a very greasy mess almost immediately. It also has the same chemical sunscreen components that may aid in breakouts. I'd only recommend this for those with dry skin that isn't on the sensitive side.


Benefit Big Beautiful Eyes


I received this as a birthday present almost four years ago, I think. My my, how time flies yet the shadows just won't diminish!


I think you can understand my reluctance to dip into a concealer that's almost four years old. Yuck.  But I did manage to make a sizeable dent in it. This is Benefit Boi-ing concealer in shade #2, Medium. It's an industrial strength concealer that is fantastic at covering dark spots and scars. I wish Benefit would offer a greater shade range because I fall somewhere between Light and Medium, though Medium is closer to my skin than Light is.


 The shadows, however, are in okay condition. But I just feel icky with the whole kit at this point and would rather toss it and leave more room in my train case. 


I liked using the dark brown shadow for my eyebrows and can still do so I suppose, but I'm just not into de-potting and all that jazz.



And I did make good use of the mini brushes in this kit, because four years ago I didn't own any makeup brushes.


L'Oreal Telescopic Mascara in Carbon Black


I stumbled across this in my train case and was surprised because I had completely forgotten about it. When I bought it, I don't remember. When I opened it, I don't remember. How well it worked? I have a vague memory of it being an okay mascara. It added length and definition and didn't smudge. But clearly it wasn't anything to write home about if I can forget it so easily.


I think my issue was with the brush, which is very long and thin. I usually like smaller brushes because my eyes are quite small, but this one feels very flimsy and doesn't really grip my puny individual lashes all that well. I'm nowhere near finishing this mascara but who knows how old it is -- so it must go.


Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer Light


The Smashbox primer was the first foundation primer I ever used and I think this was my second bottle of Photo Finish Light. But after experimenting with other primers, I just could not go back to using this again. It's thick, goopy and doesn't help with breakouts nor help make the foundation last all day. I haven't touched it since September 2010 and when I pumped out a bit to test on my hand last week, the texture was so gluey that I was grossed out. I don't feel bad about tossing it since it's more than half finished.


The Body Shop Tea Tree Skin Clearing Facial Wash (Travel Size)


I talked about it in my last post here. I quite liked this one, though I'm not sure if I'd purchase the full size.

DDF Glycolic 10% Toning Complex


Previously discussed here. As soon as I finished it, I went to Sephora for a repurchase but guess what? DDF toners are no longer sold in Canadian stores for some reason though they still carry the DDF cleansers and moisturizers. For time being I'll work with the other toners in my stash, but it looks like I'll be purchasing it on strawberrynet.com from now on.

Philosophy Purity Made Simple


Simply the best facial cleanser I have ever tried. It's gentle enough for all skin types and it washes away makeup better than any other cleanser. It really is a one-step facial cleanser. Admittedly, sometimes I do end up using it for a double cleanse: first with this and second with an anti-acne cleanser. But on good days I just massage Purity on my face for a few minutes before rinsing. It's the second time this year that I've finished this 240ml size bottle. The only issue with it is that it's not cheap. Luckily I have the larger 473.1ml bottle as backup.

Total # of Empties


5 full size products (1 of which is makeup)
1 trave size product
4 products being tossed due to old age/expiry

Not bad. It was hard for me to part with the Big Beautiful Eyes palette because it seemed so wasteful, but as I was typing out this post and having to think back to just how old it was, I realized once more how silly it was to hang on to things just for the sake of having it.

If you're working on empties or variations of the Project 10 Pan, how goes the battle? Like I've said before, the more you do it, the more getting rid of things become almost as fun as getting new things. Hard to believe but it's true! Try it!