Saturday, July 28, 2012

July Pickups

I despise the word "haul" although I do use it to indicate shopping sprees. From now on, my preferred replacement for haul is "pickup." It's literally more true to what I do now: pick up random things here and there and keep from lugging home excess. Read on to see how I did this month!

Polysporin ($9.99 sale) - I had some stitches on my leg removed (will explain in future post) and plan on working diligently to prevent permanent scarring. The doctor said I didn't need to apply anything, but having this around makes me feel much better.

Nature's Gate Vitamin E Oil ($10.99) - Not shown below but click here to see it on my Instagram. This is also to minimize scarring. Not sure if it's going to work, but I discovered some time ago that vitamin e oil is excellent for curing dry patches. The corners of my mouth got super dry and applying some oil made it go away completely in one night. Try it if you suffer from dry skin.

Clarisonic Normal Skin Brush (free) - My friend gave me the Sensitive Skin brush for my birthday back in March and I exchanged it for the Normal Skin instead. My ideal Clarisonic brush is something between Normal and Sensitive, but since it doesn't yet exist, I prefer Normal.

Tokidoki Lion Pappa Palette ($6.00 clearance) - I was lurking in the Tokidoki aisle at Sephora in search for an appropriate gift for a 13 year-old girl when my 34 year-old self began to feel tempted by the bargains that lay before me. You know how I love palettes - and $6 isn't too difficult to part with - so here we are.

Nails Inc. "Hampstead Gardens" (right) and "Baker Street" (left) ($5.00 each) - I'm really looking forward to autumn for once. I think these two colours will make for a good cool weather combo without looking too glum or serious.

The shades felt familiar to me, however. Then I realized I had already brought home this colour pairing before.

Who me?



They delight me so. :-)

Life Brand Ultra Soft Baby Wipes ($2.99 sale) - My summer essential. I'm already halfway through this bag.

And finally, my guilty pleasure.

Chanel "Holiday" ($25-27??) - Am so horrified by this splurge that I've managed to block out the real price from my head. But I love it and have trouble passing up a fabulous LE when I already have a solid collection. Since I'm being very careful now and completely stopped buying clothes/shoes and eat out only 2-3 times a month, a small treat feels okay and even deserving. I have no interest in accruing fifty blushes again, but I can't seem to stop collecting nail polish.

And somewhere along the way, I became fast friends with a MAC Fairy. Not sure what I did to deserve all this but I didn't say no! I've been using a couple of the products each day to test them out and they are all amazing and suit my taste exactly. Once my crazy course ends on August 1, I'll focus on conducting real reviews and feature some of these products. Thank you again, MAC Fairy. We both know you're awesome, but I also know you don't get tired of hearing it. ;-)

Grand total for this month: $60ish before tax

I suppose the Polysporin shouldn't really count since it's more health-related than beauty, but I just wanted to track my non-essential purchases and see how I'm doing on a regular basis, month by month. It seems that I'm holding steady at around $50/month on average, based on this month and last month. Last month I felt I could have done better. This month I feel the same but with less guilt. Work and school have both become extra EXTRA headachy within the past two weeks and I sense myself sliding back into a state of mind that repeats the mantra: "Whatever gets me through today." As we all know too well, sometimes that "whatever" is pretty makeup. Still, I've managed to avoid the insane sales going on all around me and even made it out of Bath & Body Works without succumbing to $1 lotions and 6 shower gels for the price of 3. Baby steps!

Do you keep track of your purchases? What were your indulgences this month?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Recent Faves

Are you guys keeping cool during these sweltering days? While in years past I would take every opportunity to soak up sunlight, this year finds me seeking refuge in shades and air-conditioned cafes more often than not. Still, I like to enjoy the summer mornings and evenings outside. I found a great routine for the odd day when I'm off work: sleep in until 9-11am, take a quick cold shower and air dry my hair in the park under the shade of trees while sipping the first cup of coffee and listening to calming/lively music, depending on mood. I wish I could do that every day.

Though I've yet to spend a full day outside this summer (was supposed to today but it got cancelled), when I do, I plan on using Aveeno Active Naturals Sunscreen Lotion SPF 55. I'm not particular about body sunscreen except that it be creamy and relatively easy to rub into the skin. I used to like the spray kind but found they're not as effective because you tend to miss little corners here and there that show up later as embarrassing triangle patches of burns. Using cream really ensures that you protect every inch of visible skin.

As for makeup, I've ditched the heavy liquids and gone the way of powder foundations. Through more diligent skin care routine, I'm breaking out less and old scars are finally starting to fade. After prepping my skin with trusty old Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer (for reviews, see here and here), I rely primarily on SilkyGirl Magic BB Powder Foundation in 03 Medium Beige (review) to even out skin and cover blemishes. While it was almost a perfect match during winter/spring, it's a bit light for my skin now and I'm having to darken my face with a light dusting of N.Y.C. Smooth & Natural Matte Powder Foundation in 733U Metro Tan, which I scooped it up for $4 (!!!) after I came back too tanned from my mega Asia vacation. (Though it claims to be a foundation, the NYC is light in coverage and acts better as colour-corrective powder for me.) As for the MUFE Duo Mat, I'm doing my damnest to finish it but it will not die. Argh.

(By the way, this picture was taken several months ago and the MUFE is almost finished and the SilkyGirl BB has hit massive pan. Yay!)

As for nails, it's not like I don't have a lot of options (see my updated nail polish inventory here)... but I couldn't resist the allure of Chanel Nail Colour in Holiday which became my guilty July splurge. And you guys? It's FANTABULOUS. I tweeted this pic meaning to showcase the ring but everyone wanted to know what the nail polish was.

And my trusty summer perfumes, all shown and discussed multiple times. Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Mandarine-Basilic remains number one favourite.

Moving out of beauty products, I give you my $7 faux-leather thong sandals from Forever 21. Honestly, it's the handiest footwear ever. It goes with everything and doesn't look as casual as plastic flip flops. I've had it for about 3 years now and it's still sturdy and strong. I never dreamt that it would last this long or bring me this much joy.

And in the entertainment zone, I've been watching old episodes of The Graham Norton Show, which is 1000 times more entertaining and informative than any North American talk shows. See for yourself. (Also, any show with Ewan McGregor and/or Chris O'Dowd is going to be a blast, no matter the host.)

Now that I've gotten this post out of my head, it's time for me to return to my 600-page novel that I've been ignoring all weekend. Tell me what you're enjoying lately, and seriously: isn't Graham Norton awesome??

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

2012 Empties Part 6

The time has come: I need a new empties bag! 11 months ago, I deemed a designated bag an absolute necessity for those who wanted to start the "empties" game, because without one, you'd just toss out the empty containers immediately and forget to blog about it. I've heard from various people that it really works. What I didn't realize at the time was perhaps a washable/waterproof bag might serve better since we're prone to tossing out containers that may spill liquids or leave oily residue. But I take it that regular shoppers have plenty of bags lying around waiting to be put to use. Just know that next post I shall have a new bag! (Oh gawd, sometimes it's the super tiny things that can really make a day, isn't it?)

Now, on to the empties!

Boscia Peppermint Blotting Linens - My staple. I buy in bulk when they go on sale for half price at Sephora during Christmas and have yet to find blotting papers that I like better. It's large, doesn't take makeup off with the oil, and I like the soft feel of it.

Philosophy Supernatural Oil Control Blotting Tissues - I hate this and have one more to finish up. I bought a two-pack along with the REN Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask from way back when, thinking that I needed to try something new. The sheets are almost half the size of the Boscia and have a crispy rice paper feel and sound. I like to be discreet with my blotting and the sound gives me away! Also one side seems to be absorbent while the other feels like wax paper or coated somehow. The container also has a double fold which makes it more difficult to take out a sheet, so blotting becomes a really elaborate process. I've watched people watch me take this out to blot and the look on their faces always seem to say either, "That's it?" or "WTF are you doing??"

Etude House Happy Teatime Milk Tea Cleansing Foam - I bought it untested at Etude House in Singapore out of trip excitement and hated this so much that I used double the amount per use to get rid of it faster. Yeah, maybe that's cheating, but who cares. The point is I finished it. It doesn't remove makeup even after I had used the matching makeup removing balm from the same line. I highly recommend that everyone avoid this like the plague.

Weleda Wild Rose Facial Toner - This is now either discontinued or reformulated. I first mentioned it in a blog switch post with awesome Larie. I loved this toner and the sturdy glass bottle it came in. But I love my Body Shop Aloe Toner even more, so that's what I'm going to stick with. While the Weleda served me well during winter/spring, I think it wouldn't have been the best match for my extra oily skin during summer, so I'm glad to have finished it back in late May.

Dermalogica Clean Start Wash Off Foaming Wash Cleanser (travel size) - This came in a kit with the all-over treatment (see below) and an acne spot treatment which I finished last month. It has 0.5% salicylic acid which I think will always be better for my acne-prone skin instead of cleansers without any (except for my holy grail, the original Philosophy Purity Made Simple). Because I was using it in conjunction with a variety of products, it's hard to tell whether the cleanser staved off any breakouts. It didn't cause negative reaction or aggravate, and I didn't detect any unpleasant odours or experience any trouble. While I like it and the brand and the series, I wouldn't repurchase it because I think there are just as good anti-acne cleansers for less.

Dermalogica Bedtime for Breakouts (travel size) - This is an all-over treatment containing 2.0% salicylic acid, to be used at night before bed. I used it in the morning as well on makeupless days, without applying moisturizer on top. (My skin can't take the piling on of treatments, moisturizers AND makeup.) It feels a little sticky on the skin and doesn't fully absorb, which is why they recommend that you apply this at bedtime. It seemed to fight the breakouts decently though it's completely ineffectual against hormonal or stressed-induced acne. It's gentle on the skin and doesn't sting or aggravate my skin. However, between this and the Murad Exfoliating Gel which I loved so much, the Murad definitely wins. But I found something that works much better than either of them, which will be reviewed soon(ish)!

Mario Badescu Alpha Grapefruit Cleansing Lotion (travel size) - I had to toss this as it was ancient. A long, long, looooooooong time ago, when I was battling acne in another lifetime, I ordered some MB products (which didn't work) and this little guy was tossed in as a freebie. It's so dumb... but I just didn't know what to do with it. Was it a cleanser or a toner? Why didn't I look it up? It sat somewhere for years until I stumbled across this and looked at it in complete stupefaction. Normally I'd be stupid enough to try expired products that are 3 or 4 years old, but I fear this is even older than that. Out it went.

Cake Milk Made Velveteen Hand Creme - Larie and Ashley loved it so much I bought it on hype. While it is pleasant-smelling and has a lovely weighty yet non-greasy texture, I didn't fall in love with it. I kept it in the office and used it about 5-10 times a day, depending on how often I went to the washroom. One day I had just applied it when a male lawyer passed by and commented that something smelled delicious. So it does have its appeal. ;-) I would repurchase it if I saw it for 50% off or something amazing like that, but I'm a bit of a hand cream whore and am excited about busting open a new one to try out.

Bourjois Paris Express Eye Makeup Remover - Some of you might remember that I once went on a rant about the packaging flaw. The result of that was Bourjois Canada somehow getting wind of it and sending me a bunch of products to compensate for it. Truth is, I'm not a big fan of Bourjois. I don't like the plastic packaging and very few of their products appeal to me. I kept the cleanser they sent, hoping to write a rave review about it to balance out the negative review, but the rest were donated to friends and good causes like that. Anyway, read the rant if you want to know how this performed. I prefer the L'Oreal bi-phase eye makeup remover which can be had for half the price of this. But going forward, I'm not purchasing separate eye makeup removers unless I start wearing a lot more waterproof eye makeup in the future.

Slatkin & Co. Verbena Waters Candle - This is a pleasant green floral scent which is really difficult to detect with a one-wick candle until the entire candle turns liquid. I didn't want to spend a lot of money on candles and in fact tried to resist buying any, but a green floral was what I wanted for spring. While I liked this very much, I don't like it enough to stock up on it or be heartbroken if it doesn't return next year. Life is short and there are a lot of candles to enjoy out there!

Life Brand Ultra Soft Baby Wipes - Believe it or not, this is my newest holy grail product for the summer. Here's why. I gave up buying facial wipes because they cause me to be lazy and wasteful. However, in the summer when sweat and oil become enemy number one, they're a necessity. This giant package of 72 wipes is $2.99 on sale at Shoppers Drug Mart. Apparently the ingredients are the same as any regular makeup removing facial wipes. (See for yourself in the second pic below.) I found that this is actually even better than the more sophisticated facial wipes produced by skincare brands. The sheets are large and just the right amount of wet. It takes two sheets both front and back to remove makeup including heavy foundation, almost completely. I admit to several lazy nights of sleeping without follow up treatments and am happy to report not only did I not break out but my skin continued its good streak. And on top of all these wonders, these wipes are great for wiping dirty feet or the inside of sweaty flats and sandals. The best multi-purpose product discovery in forever!!! I bought a new one to replace it and I make sure to buy the unscented version with no alcohol.

[Brand Unknown] Apple Polyphenal Sheet Mask - The awesome Makeup Morsels sent this to me along with two more masks and I love it! This apple mask is apparently for oily/acne-prone skin and suited me perfectly. It has a fresh green apple scent that invigorates the nose and the residue didn't feel heavy or greasy on my skin. Usually I take great care to wipe off every remnant of sheet mask fluids though most people rub them into the skin instead, but this time I left it on and let the product penetrate all day long. Face felt fresh and looked glowy!


Today's Total
Jumbo: 1 (wet wipes)
Regular: 7 
Travel/Sample: 2
Tossed: 1

2012 Total
Jumbo: 3
Regular: 46
Travel/Sample: 18
Tossed: 5

I am glad to report that I've finally reached Level 4 of The Empties Syndrome. Level 1 is starting empties, 2 is becoming obsessed with emptying, 3 is feeling sad about finishing things up too quickly, and 4 is that state of zen when you're on cruise control and know things are emptying at a steady pace and you're neither eager to get rid of more nor desperate to hoard and save. I'm not sure what Level 5 is but perhaps you might know. What level are you guys at? If you're at 0, that's okay. Just stop buying half a dozen backups of everything and we'll go from there!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Here's another quickie nail post: Essie Sand Tropez

I have tons of nail pics that I never got around to posting, from as far back as maybe a year ago. While I remain busy and distracted this month, I'll post a few of these nail photos in between "real" posts. (The definition of "real post" is hazy but you can recognize it by the fact that those posts require much more of your attention.)

Anyhoo, here's Sand Tropez. For a boring polish, it's kind of pretty. 

This is getting to be a bad habit, but here goes...

...I like it.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Chanel Le Vernis in Coco Blue

Back in early March, I excited grabbed Chanel Les Jeans nail polish collection the second it hit the floor. I think it's the only time that I bought an entire nail collection, even if it was just three shades -- it's Chanel after all and worth some debate in consideration of our beleaguered wallets. However, I am a sucker for good blues and so all three shades came home with me.

Later I thought of returning or selling them, but instead hoarded them with hopes of better days to come. Well, there's no season like summer to break out the stunner that is Coco Blue!

While I love the shade in the bottle, I wasn't expecting to love it on my fingers. But I did! I really think that Chanel does something marvelous with their precision of shades despite the lackluster formula at times, which is especially prone to their paler colours. As Denise noted, the formula for Coco Blue is pretty crap. It took three shades to reach opacity, and as you can see by my picture below, it looks rather thick and lumpy by that point. Normally that would be considered a deal breaker but... turns out I have no other blue like it! I'm keeping this baby, for now.

Left to right: Essie Borrowed & Blue, Chanel Riva, Chanel Coco Blue, Butter London Lady Muck, Zoya Skylar.

The bright sky blue with a touch of shimmer does something delightful to my soul. It just screams summer at me!

Dish from Anthropologie (CAD$10); seashell from ???

For a simple summer day, sport your favourite blue nail polish, spritz on some beachy scent and dust some bronzer on and dash out the door!

I think this is my plan for the day. Hope everyone's having a wonderful weekend! What's your favourite sky blue polish? Know of any that's similar to Coco Blue?

Thursday, July 12, 2012


I'm doing my best to enjoy summer, formerly my favourite season, but it's been kind of a shitty season so far. Still, the sun makes me happy and I try to soak up enough precious Vitamin D to keep me going at winter.

Essie Borrowed & Blue

I prefer reds or brights on my toes, but Borrowed & Blue was kind of interesting. I think it goes well with silver or white sandals. The tops of my feet are quite tanned now and B&B made the feet look kind of dirty instead, but I think it'd be a nice shade to wear with an all-white outfit. (Forgive the lackluster polish job - it was really hot that day and I didn't have the patience to apply slowly and precisely.)

My summer course on Anthony Trollope is keeping me very busy. I like to read at my favourite neighbourhood cafe with a lemon ice gelato.

And I guess a part of me is already looking forward to autumn, which is unheard of. One bored lunch hour found me swatching fall shades at the nail bar at the Eaton Centre Sephora. Left to right: Nails Inc. Hampstead Gardens (on sale for $5 so I bought it), OPI for Sephora I Come In Peas, a shade I now can't remember - argh!!!, and Dior Purple Revolution (will purchase eventually - couldn't take my eyes off of it!).

The three perfumes I enjoy in the summer: Ocean by Outremer, Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Mandarine-Basilic (my favourite) and Caudalie Thé des Vignes. I've decided to add unloved perfumes to the blog sale so watch out for that later this month.

Perfume samples (mostly from LuckyScent) that I meant to review and forgot about. Will go through them eventually!

The episode with robin egg blue made me want to wear Chanel Coco Blue and it turned out fabulously. Will review shortly.

I have another buttload of reading to do so excuse my absence on the blogosphere this week. But tell me: What are you guys loving lately?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Nature's Accident is My Gain: Robin Egg Blue Polish

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram (@Reductionista), you'll have seen that I was rather distraught this week with the discovery of an empty and broken robin's egg shell on my front lawn. I was late for work and was in too much of a hurry to do more than snap a quick shot and assume the worst. The poor egg was the unfortunate victim of foul (or "fowl" as Dovey suggested) play!

It was still sitting there when I came home, so I scooped it up and brought it in for a long study. How often does one come across a robin's egg after all? (Once every few year for me, actually, but this is the first time I cared so much.)

It was dusk by the time I got around to pulling out some nail colours to see which shade was the closest match. I immediately thought of Dior St. Tropez, Chanel Riva (reviewed here) and Chanel Coco Blue. Even in the dim lighting you can tell that Coco Blue is a total mismatch. Riva seemed to be the best contender.

Indoor at dusk

Indoor with flash

Indoor with flash

Indoor with flash

Under flash, the robin's egg shows a hint of shimmer that seems to be mimicked by Chanel Riva. I was rather delighted because Riva is a disappointment in terms of formulation and quality. Say what you will about Chanel's nail polish quality but their shades are always phenomenal.

Indoor with flash

But seeing the mismatch of Coco Blue brought to mind another contender: China Glaze For Audrey (reviewed here).

Indoor with flash

Indoor with flash

Indoor with flash

Indoor with flash

For Audrey looked to be the closest match! And it was confirmed the following morning when sunlight revealed it was indeed so.

O little egg! We honour thee.

After some browsing, it seems that "Tiffany blue" is just one variation of the robin egg blue. In this case, the egg I found is a Tiffany blue since it matches For Audrey which was created as an homage to Audrey Hepburn and Breakfast at Tiffany's.

I came across some interesting things about robins and the eggs while casually googling:
  • According to this article, the colour of the egg determines how much interest the male robin takes in the newborns - the deeper the blue, the more food it feeds the newborn! Frankly I'm a little concerned by that. >:P
  • The mother lays only four eggs and lays only one egg per day. She rotates her position and application of body temperature to incubate all four eggs under the same condition, so that they will hatch all at the same time rather than one at a time. That's some diligent mothering! (Source)
  • At 1:42 of this video recording the hatching of a baby robin, I was surprised to see the mother robin taking away the empty shell to create more room in the nest for the newborn! I wonder now if the shell I found was a discard from the nest after a successful hatch. Frankly I thought the egg was the victim of rambunctious squirrels doing embryo shots. Oh yeah, and don't watch the video if you get squeamish at the sight of raw newborn birds.

Sometimes I feel like I've gone overboard with nail polish purchases and that having so many similar colours are useless and a waste of money. However, after an exercise like this, I always feel justified in having many shades of the same colour family to compare and contrast various items to. And as you know, this sort of blue is one of my very favourites.

Which is your favourite robin egg blue, whether it's nail polish or something else? Is this egg the result of fowl play or the birth of a new robin? Hopefully it's the latter in this case and soon I'll see more of these flying around the neighbourhood.