Monday, December 31, 2012

Favourite Products of 2012

My list of favourite products aren't necessarily of new launches. They are products I personally discovered and enjoyed throughout the year. I've talked at lengths about most of them, if not devoted reviews to them.

Simple Refreshing Facial Wash Gel - Reviewed here. I love it so much that the PR sample is nearly finished merely within a few months of receiving and testing it. Definitely will repurchase.

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo - Reviewed here. This thing saved my acne-ridden face. I was on the right track with using the Clarisonic along with the REN AHA Concentrate, but the final touch was the addition of this super gentle yet extremely effective treatment that can be used day and night to banish breakouts within half a day.

Nivea Creme - I haven't talked much about this, but I keep a tiny travel size pot of it in my daily makeup bag and use it on random dry patches on the face as well as to substitute as hand cream when I'm short on actual hand cream hand creams. I also keep a big tin of it at work to use as a cheap hand cream because I fear that the same weaselly co-workers who steal other people's lunch will probably stoop to stealing nice hand creams if given the chance. I'm about 1/3 through that tin and find that it's actually quite similar to the L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream at one tenth of the price, failing just short of the coveted dupe status only because it doesn't permeate dry skin quite as well. The look, texture and scent is nearly the same, offering a hefty coverage over rough hands and providing an effective barrier between skin and nature. It's not holy grail but just an all around awesome and useful multifunctional product to have on hand, literally.

George's Cream - Reviewed here. My parents still keep this at their store and I use it every chance I can. Would definitely purchase the second I finish using up the 100 other moisturizers at home.

J.R. Watkins Lavender Hand & Cuticle Salve - It's a recent discovery, one that I picked up on a whim. I used to hate the smell of lavender but suddenly I can't get enough of it. Out of the multitude of lavender-scented products I managed to accrue in the past two months, this one is my favourite. The salve feels like a thick, dense oil that requires one to warm the product for half a minute on skin before rubbing into skin for a soothing, therapeutic experience. It's oilier and more liquified than the Burt's Bees Cuticle Salve and ten times the size for a few more dollars. I love rubbing this over my hands and feet as the last step before falling asleep.

Hourglass No. 28 Primer Serum - Reviewed here. I don't have it yet but I'll probably spring for the full bottle some day. An amazing product from an amazing (and rather underrated) brand.

SilkyGirl Magic BB Powder Foundation - Reviewed here. My sister is now hooked on this as well and we have cast aside Laura Mercier and Shiseido powder foundations in favour of this affordable Asian drugstore find. I'm nearly finished my second compact and will be relying on the one remaining backup for Summer 2013. Will definitely ask my friend in Singapore to send me more!

L'Oreal Infallible Eyeshadows - See reviews of Goldmine, Bronze Divine and Black Star. I had a feeling as soon as they were launched that I was going to like them. I resisted for a long time but finally have four, including Sahara Treasure. For those confused about shade names in different countries, MAC Nunu has a fantastic chart cross-referencing all the shades which is super helpful. Click here to access.

NARS Pure Matte Lipstick in Amsterdam - Reviewed here. The day finally arrived when I stopped being afraid of full coverage lipsticks. This one is a matte, which I had also avoided in the past. While the texture and glide were smooth and wonderful in fall, I can't wear this right now as my lips are a total wreck. But I look forward to better days when I can whip this out and kick ass with my lips.

Hourglass Opaque Rouge Liquid Lipstick in Empress - I was dared to trial it at Sephora and tweet a picture of me wearing it. Click here to see how that turned out. I've been in love with it ever since. If I become brave enough, I might even go for Icon, one of the most beautiful reds I ever saw. I think there's a picture of that one as well... here.

Caudalie Divine Oil - Reviewed here. An amazing product that will make you feel decadent and pampered. The scent is rather strong so it can even double as perfume.

Caudalie The des Vignes - Never gave it a proper review but I will soon, since I purchased a second bottle of it. It's one of those things that are totally under the radar and just happens to work well with my body chemistry. Even my perfume-hating mom likes it on me and a certain Tim Horton's employee went gaga over it. (Click here for a refresher.)

Bath & Body Works French Baguette Candle - Reviewed here. I have three more 3-wicks left and have been burning one all evening. Mmmmm, mmmmm, mmmmm.


I don't know about you, but I feel a certain amount of satisfaction from drawing up a list like this. It makes me content to have found so many great products that I can return to without stress. I also like that I've managed to branch out into uncharted territory on a personal level with makeup and colours. This foray into bolder makeup is actually taking me on quite a journey. More on that in the new year, which is only one hour away for me right now.

Previous years' favourites:

2011 Favourite Products: Skincare and Hair
2011 Favourite Products: Makeup, Nail and Perfume
2010 Favourite Products

Happy new year, everyone!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 Empties Part 10

Last empties of 2012!


Empties

Pond's Cleansing and Makeup Removing Towelettes* - I was surprised by how much I liked this. I stopped buying overpriced wet wipes geared for makeup removal and have been relying on baby wipes instead. This one has a strong floral/soapy smell and is super wet. Perhaps because of the extra wetness, two sheets used front and back removed 99% of makeup and exfoliated my face nicely with its textured finish. Pond's is pretty cheap so I may come back to this at some point. I was sent this product in early December and blazed through it due to long days and much laziness.

MaskerAide Hydrating Facial Sheet Mask - My first blogger friend Toya of Beauty Obsessed sent me this along with a lovely Xmas card, and I slapped it on that very same night after removing makeup with the Pond's wipes noted above. I've been wiping my face and just going to bed for the past month, so either my face wasn't used to good treatments anymore or the mask was just too rich for my stupid skin. I broke out a little the next morning and sadly can't say whether it was me or the mask.

LUSH Magic Mushroom - Ashley of Makeup Kismet gave me this back in March and I was saving it because it's so darn cute. One night I really needed a bath, didn't have the strength for a shower, and just tossed it into the tub. It turned the water red due to the red mushroom cap and looked a little disturbing, as if I had slowly bled to death in the water. I love the concept of LUSH products but find that they don't always execute to my liking in the end.



mereadesso Beautiful Body Balm* (Travel Size) - The full size will set you back CAD$54 according to the product website. While I loved receiving samples of an unknown new luxe brand, I didn't love the balm to the point that it made me want to purchase it or do an individual review on it. It's a lotion in texture rather than a balm and smells fresh and citrusy with notes of herbs in the background. Not bad but nothing to rave about. I used it as a hand lotion because the sample size was handy to tote around.

Vichy Idealia Smoothing and Illuminating Cream (Sample) - It plumped up my face and gave it a nice, soft, luminous look and feel in the morning. Enough to make me feel positively about testing out a bigger size, but not enough to make me want to buy the full size at regular price.

L'Occitane Angelica Hydration Cream (Sample) - I can barely remember the effect of this cream. It wasn't bad and it wasn't spectacular. Kind of like the Vichy above except less memorable. Will not purchase.

Borghese Tono Body Lotion (Travel Size) - Reviewed here. I actually went to Sears to look this up and they didn't have the body moisturizers - just the scrubs. Then I found the moisturizers at Winners! They were marked down to $24.99 and I really wanted the body cream but was holding the Guerlain Terre Indigo palette and pretty makeup won. I also have a lot of body moisturizers stocked up and really couldn't justify another, even though I could justify yet another shadow palette. Dammit, life is tough, first world problems, etc, etc.


EOS Lip Balm Smooth Spheres - One year and one month ago, I pulled a Boromir and kept this lip balm for myself instead of gifting it as I should have to an adolescent girl. The flavour was Passion Fruit, not that it really mattered because the scent was very light and I never noticed it at all. To do penance for my sin, I used up this sucker almost every day. Then I grew to like it because it was the least stickiest of lip balms and made for a nice prepping material before slapping lipstick on top of dry lips. I'm not sure that I'd repurchase but I don't want to say no either. Let's leave it at maybe but don't call me.

Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment (Mini) - Reviewed here. I like the balm but they really need to work on making the packaging better. It looks nice and seems perfect but the balm is so soft and skinny that it gets knocked off and battered to the point that I got really annoyed with it and don't even want to look at the full sizes anymore. It's debatable whether I'd spring for the regular ones at regular prices. Maybe with a coupon or a gift card. Maybe. Really don't call me.


REN Resurfacing AHA Concentrate - Reviewed here. I used a Sephora coupon to repurchase it. Love!

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Mandarine-Basilic - MY FIRST EVER PERFUME FINISH. It took 3-4 years. I used it like a fiend almost exclusively during summer months. And because I was down to the last 1/5 of the bottle and missed summer a lot in the fall, I kept on using it. I'd spray it at night to remind myself of sunny days filled with scents of basil and warm citrus. Despite being a light, refreshing sort of scent, something warm at the base really gels with my body chemistry and keeps it from being too light and flyaway. To me, it's more orange and warm, not green and leafy. I already repurchased it using the Sephora VIB 20% deal last month.

Unknown perfume in Sephora Atomizer - I cannot remember what was in it. The scent tickles my nose and it's driving me nuts. I had this in my desk at the office and thought the atomizer was broken. But it turned out that I had emptied it long ago. I'm going insane. Soon I'll be able to take a leave of absence after pleading insanity!


Tosses

To properly ring in the new year, I decided that some more old stuff had to go. I was nearly finished with the Lancome and Sephora lip glosses, but they are now going on 4-6 years in age and I feel gross looking at them. Gone.

Lancome Hypnose Star Mascara (Sample)* - I love this mascara. And I never have to buy it because somehow I ended up with like four samples.

Tarte Lock & Roll Creaseless Eye Shadow Duo - One side is a liquid cream and the other is a loose shadow. Both are pretty shades of rose gold that I found too shimmery when I first bought it years ago. The liquid side has dried up and I have no use for a half-finished thing that I never reach for. Also, it's so old that Tarte no longer makes this. Wah wah.


Tarte 24.7 Natural Lip Sheers in Wednesday and Sunday - Also really old Tarte stuff that are no longer made. I loved Wednesday but was shy of wearing colours back then. The fool I was! Sunday was basically nude and I was all over it. There's plenty of product left in both but they are old and I need to move on with new loves. Also, they weren't as moisturizing as they claimed to have been.

Not pictured: Third finished French Baguette 3-Wick Candle - reviewed here. The love is going strong. I have three more left!



Today's Total:
Jumbo - 0
Regular - 6
Travel/Samples - 7
Tosses - 5

2012 GRAND TOTAL:
Jumbo - 6
Regular - 87
Travel/Samples - 40
Tosses - 21

The Math:
1 Jumbo = 2 Regulars
5 Travel/Samples = 1 Regular

That's 107 products finished this year. INSAAAAANE. Why do we need so much stuff again? I really really want to give a concrete answer to this before this blog retires some day.

Onwards, to 2013!

*Products sent by PR/company for review. 

December Pickups and Deliveries

I always have a silent debate about whether to post haul or empties first when we near the month end. My tendency is to post the haul first and then assuage any guilt over the excess by posting the empties immediately after!

At some point, I intend on writing a long post on the powerful hold that makeup has over collectors like us and the hows, whys and nature of growing collections. Until then, my brain has decided to remain dormant and let my impulse pick up a few last deals of 2012.

Purchases

L'Oreal Infallible Shadows in 024 Bronze Divine, 021 Sahara Treasure, 027 Goldmine - I now have four Infallible shadows and am pretty much in love with the colours and textures of all of them. (Click here for a review of 023 Black Star.) I was never big on noticeable blingy shimmer in the past, but suddenly I can't get enough of them. Sahara Treasure was one that I had my eye on all year, so I figured it was time to just snatch one up when the drugstores put these on sale. Except that I picked up three. Oops.


REN Resurfacing AHA Concentrate - October and November are temptation months at Sephora. I got a coupon for $20 off $50 purchase and hemmed and hawed for weeks, debating whether to get something new and nice (we just got Becca and Illamasqua at the Eaton Centre location (!!!)) or old and faithful. In the end, I decided to repurchase the REN Resurfacing AHA Concentrate which clears up my skin and makes it glow. I had used it every day for the first few months of 2012 and the last few months with a big gap in between during spring/summer. If used every night, I might need 1.5-2 bottles per year. At CAD$54, it's also the most price-friendly of the REN brightening series. I really liked the mask also and wanted to try the serum but didn't want to stray too far past the $50 minimum purchase requirement.

Tom Ford Noir (Free Sample) - I will try anything Tom Ford and hope and pray to the cosmetics gods that I won't fall in love with his insanely expensive products.


MAKE UP FOR EVER 3 Eye Shadow/Blush Palette, Powder Blush Refills in #75 Neon Pink (bright fuschia pink) and #99 Scarlet (matte red) - Just as I thought that I had survived the Sephora valley shadow of death, they redeemed my VIB status for next year and sent me a 10% off coupon. Goddammit. The newly renovated location at the Eaton Centre now has a huge MUFE pro boutique and I decided to substitute my lust for NARS Exhibit A and NARS Desire by purchasing the much cheaper refill pans and creating a customized blush palette. $18 vs. $32 isn't really a difficult choice to make.


Guerlain Terre Indigo 4-Shade Eyeshadow - Guerlain Summer 2011 Terra Inca remains one of the most stunning makeup collections in my mind. I oohed and aahed over the promo pictures and didn't dare approach the counters lest I do something insane. Months and months later, there I am at Winners*, casually browsing as I am prone to do, and I see a Guerlain palette in a sealed plastic bin in the far back corner of the cosmetic shelf. I ask a cashier to unlock it so that I can look at the merchandise and ...BAM! This happened.



*FYI for our non-Canadian friends: Winners is a discount chain that sells brand name merchandise at marked down prices. Some locations are really good, others are really crappy. I live near a Winners and I work right around the corner from another Winners, which is why I talk about it so much and go there so often. Sometimes I see the same items in regular stores at Winners at the same time and regular stores end up offering better values during sales and promotions. A lot of people assume that Winners has the best pricing but that's not always the case. Sometimes, especially as of late, they don't. You have to be a savvy shopper to know whether you're getting a deal or not. In the case of this Guerlain, which is now sold out and was in the $70 zone for Canadians, I sure did score a deal for $35.

I Have The Bestest Blogger Friends In The World

Amy at Beyond Just Beauty and I conducted a small swap, and along with that, I ended up buying her unwanted Hourglass Opaque Rouge in Empress for $20 because I've been in love with it since the summer when it launched and Amy is clearly insane to part with it. (Love ya!) I think she was supposed to send me just the Prestige Total Intensity Eyeliner but she either stalked me and knows everything I like or she is brilliantly intuitive and sent me everything that I love! Included in the package were this year's Boscia Peppermint Blotting Linens which I missed out on, Zoya FeiFei which I also missed out on, a keychain MADE WITH FeiFei, Lancome Hypnose Star Mascara Sample which I adore, a glass nail file (finally get to upgrade - woohoo!), some skincare samples for oily skin, a lovely rambly letter/card full of Amyish quirks and some delicious treats from Tibalu which is run by Amy's mom. Nobody does gifts like fellow bloggers. Thanks, Amy!!!!!!


About a month ago, Tracy and I were chatting on Twitter with Maggie of Maggie's Makeup when she offered to send us some samples for Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. I think we were talking about booze at the time. Somehow the brand came up and browsing the website caused an awful lot of lemmings. Well, I thought that Maggie was going to send a few sample vials to start us off, but one day I came home to a rather sizeable box and THIS happened. Like Amy, she is a crazy person. As I said earlier: Nobody does gifts like fellow bloggers. Thanks, Maggie!!!!!!


Last month's haul contained quite a bit of nice things from the lovely MAC Fairy. Not shown in that post was a MAC x Carine Roitfeld Limited Edition Desert Camouflage Full Face Kit from Fall 2012 that my sister had stolen. Sister decided that she didn't like it after all and kindly returned it. I was so happy because this was one of my favourite items from the lot but couldn't bring myself to ask for it back when sister has only one foundation and one blush. (I suspect that the palette rather overwhelmed her, hahaha.) Say it with me: Nobody does gifts like fellow bloggers. Thanks, Denise!!!!!!!!!



I also did a small swap with my darling friend S in Portugal. I wasn't actually expecting anything back in return but this is what arrived.


The lovely bimba & lola makeup bag was full of samples, and my favourite is the Caudalie candle which smells fresh and luxuriantly floral all at the same time. I need Caudalie to make that in a bigger size and sell it in North America. Thank you, S!!!!!!!!!!!!


PR Samples

Because of my crazy winter schedule, I missed out on a major beauty event in November and the lovely ladies at Harbinger kindly sent me a gigantic box full of goodies that made me feel not so missed out. :-)


I also received some lovely samples from PRITTE that I'm looking forward to testing out and reporting back on.


Paying It Forward

There were some last minute unexpected guests for Christmas dinner and I prepared a last minute gift for them in a dual attempt to (a) not let them go home empty-handed at Christmas, and (b) to downsize the monstrous hoard of beauty samples sitting in my room. Well, one couple clearly felt the need to reciprocate and my attempt to reduce products was in vain. I got back a tin of German-made Nivea Creme and a Nivea Happy Time Deodorant. Luckily I like Nivea, even though I have no use for deodorants. Lesson learned: "Merry Christmas and God bless us all, everyone, goddammit." (TM Dustin Hoffman at 5:50 of this video.)


Aaaaaaand that's the end of my 2012 pickups. May 2013 bring that elusive simplified lifestyle that I supposedly so long for. (But leave my Chanels, Diors and Guerlains alone pleasethankyou.)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Blackened Goldy Green/Olive Shadows

You'll note that the title is extremely confused. I barely know what I'm trying to say here, but once you see the shadows, you'll know exactly what I mean. I have a particular liking for in-between shades that are nothing and 1000 different things at once. It's why I dove for Laura Mercier Black Karat as soon as it was released and why I picked up L'Oreal Infallible Bronze Divine.


Bronze Divine, despite its name, appears to be a dark golden olive. Black Karat is as the name suggests: blackened gold.


Top: Bronze Divine / Bottom: Black Karat

Like all the Infallibles I've tried, Bronze Divine applies smoothly and opaquely with very little effort. I've heard of people complaining of fallouts with Infallibles but I haven't had that particular problem. In fact, the fallout issue occurs with Black Karat due to its baked shadow formula. It's less troublesome when applied wet, and because it's a gorgeous shade, I forgive whatever issues I have with its performance.

Then as I was swatching the two, I remembered that I acquired MAC Gilt By Assocation last month. I was afraid that it would be way too similar to Black Karat, but its allure was irresistible nonetheless.



Left to right: Bronze Divine, Black Karat, Gilt By Association.


In the end, Gilt By Association and Black Karat bear more similarity. Gilt By Association, however, seems to be more black with traces of gold while Black Karat appears to be equal parts black and gold. Bronze Divine belongs in a category of its own away from the other two, with greens, golden bronzes and khakis.

All three are gorgeous shades that I find alluring and mysterious. But the troublesome nature of BK has me thinking twice about its merits and permanence in my stash. I think that I might be perfectly happy with just GBA and BD in my life. I see no reason to keep it just because it's Laura Mercier, even though I love Laura Mercier products in general.

Do you have any of these shades? How would you describe them?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Gold for Christmas

I know it's kind of a cliche to pair gold eyes with red lips, but I can't help it if that's a look that I fell head over heels for this season. What can I say? I'm a late bloomer. :-)

It kind of makes sense for me to delve into gold shadows at this point in time, as an extension to my favourite "barely there" shadows. Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow in Sandy Gold makes a second appearance as a tie-in to the original post. The others are a mix of old and new things: L'Oreal Infallible in Goldmine, Tarina Tarantino Sparklicity Pure Gold Sparkle Powder and theBalm Snobby from the Nude 'tude Palette.


L'Oreal Goldmine

Bobbi Brown Sandy Gold

Tarina Tarantino Pure Gold

theBalm Snobby

My preference for gold shadows is still quite tame. I don't like them to be too yellow as it just feels like too much yellow on top of my Asian olive undertone. I also don't like them to lean too silvery either. The middle of the line gold is truly difficult to find, and a part of me is still on the hunt for that perfect shade.

L to R: TT Pure Gold, BB Sandy Gold, L'Oreal Goldmine, theBalm Snobby

L to R: TT Pure Gold, BB Sandy Gold, L'Oreal Goldmine, theBalm Snobby

L to R: TT Pure Gold, BB Sandy Gold, L'Oreal Goldmine, theBalm Snobby

As you can see, the yellowest is Snobby. Sandy Gold is almost flesh-coloured and looks nearly rose gold at times. On the lids, Sandy Gold is nearly invisible and adds a nice sheen to the lids and truly belongs in the "barely there" category rather than among the golds. My favourite of the lot is Goldmine for the bling factor. You pat a bit of that on your lids and watch as you suddenly look 100 times more awake than you've ever been in your life. As for Pure Gold, it's a loose sparkle powder that's meant to be added as a final touch to a look for added shine and shimmer, not for any intensity of colour.


In general, I'm quite happy with the round-up of gold shadows in my stash. I'm not going to go crazy looking for that elusive perfect gold shade, but if I do find "it", you bet I'll snatch it up. What's your favourite gold shadow and what are you wearing for Christmas?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Sneak Peek

You know what? Last night's post was depressing. Here's something much more fun to look at. Feast your eyes until next time, my pretties.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Lately

I've been acting like winter was here since October. It's not snowing Toronto yet, thank goodness, but I don't deal well with cold weather, and hibernation instincts emerge full force by mid-October. November passed in a haze as I worked through two jobs and nursed fatigue at night with the following things:

2005 aperatif and blue cheese


Blue cheese is my favourite because the stinkier the cheese, the better I like it. I know men who won't kiss their wives if they have blue cheese on their breaths, so I hope my future husband is the blue cheese loving sort. I refuse to settle for a lactose-intolerant. The wine was okay. I don't like aperatifs but this one was recommended to pair with blue cheese. I pretended that it was summer time in the south of France as I inhaled them in a very klassy fashion while in bed wearing Hello Kitty PJs and fluffy socks.


Voluspa Chestnut & Vetiver Candle, DAVIDs Tea Forever Nuts loose leaf tea, J.R. Watkins Lavender Hand & Cuticle Salve, Life Brand Melatonin (Extra Strength)


These are my night time soothers. The warm, sweet and toasty candle set the mood for relaxation and I'd partake of the tea and down a melatonin for a decent night of sleep while rubbing the lavender salve on my hands and feet. I've had sleeping troubles for years and never really sought solutions beyond ear plugs and eye masks. The melatonin helps to feel refreshed and less groggy in the morning, but this dosage isn't really right for me as it would wake me up around 4-5am even if I went to sleep at midnight or 1am. I've put it aside since and just try to rely on the other things for rest.


MORE CANDLES, MORE OWLS


People are blaming me for their candle lemmings and rightly so. I love having the right candles. I still love my owls, too.


LUSH Baths


After a full day at the office and a full night of running around at the bookstore, sometimes I'm too tired to stand and take a shower. In a joint effort to finish off LUSH products at the same time, I've taken to taking baths at night. I think it's one of my favourite things to do and I should just be hanging out at a spa during every spare moment. 
 

The Lover



I'm also completely out of the loop on good new music and fall back on things from my memory. The Lover was a movie I got tricked into watching as a young girl and I remember the older girls fast-forwarding through the graphic sex scenes once they realized what they were exposing us to. Then it became hilarious because the whole thing just got ten times worse. Decades later, I was reminded of the movie for some reason and tracked it down. Then it turned out to be the soundtrack that got me. One day my brother asked me what I was listening to and when I started to detail the movie's plot, he was like, "Okaaaaaaay..." and started to walk away.  


ONE MORE DAY... ONE DAY MORE!



Les Miserables was one of those books that changed my life. I was a depressed teen, struggling to get out of bed every morning just to breathe, and reading about sufferings coupled with redemptions went a long way to restoring fighting spirits. I basically memorized the 10th Anniversary Dream Cast Concert and the songs really make me want a revolution RIGHT. NOW. I know the new movie won't compare to it in the end, but Anne Hathaway's Fantine makes me cry just from watching the trailer, so I'm looking forward to the eventual sob fest regardless. Anyway, this song has been my personal anthem every day for the past few months, and I put it on repeat at night too if I need an extra kick of heart-stirring emotions to get me through the hour.

It's the little things that get me through tough times. It's also little words of encouragement as well, and I want to thank all the kindly readers who have left helpful comments and sent emails throughout the year. I say this now in case I don't get around to writing new posts before 2012 ends. I'd like to get through a few more topics and post one last empties, but my schedule is taxing and I can't make any promises. 2013 is looking better, though I am about to mess it all up again by not being able to sit back and relax. Too much Les Mis. I can't stop seeing places where barricades should go up.

Anyway, I hope all your holiday preparations are moving ahead swimmingly! If you're going through a tough time, grab a candle and just do what you love to do best. Whatever gets you through the day, my dears. For me, it's blogging and I'm truly thankful for all the joys it brought me.

Love,
Grumpy Cat

Monday, December 17, 2012

Essence Renesmee Red Blush

I love a good red blush. Some of you already know this. While I am mostly a cautious neutral-loving person in every day life, I go absolutely nuts over all shades of blush. Cheap or expensive, if I like what I see in the pan, I stew over it for hours and days and weeks until I either buy it or shatter my heart into itty bitty pieces in unfulfilled longing.

Now, isn't that a fitting overwrought intro for a Twilight-themed piece of cosmetic? ;-)

Essence had been intriguing me for a while after it finally became available in Shoppers Drug Mart in Canada this year. Last month I finally decided to try two items from the brand, one of which is Renesmee Red.


For all the anti-Twilight sort, Renesmee happens to be the name of Edward and Bella's daughter. Yes, I read the "saga" and thought it was entertaining in all the wrong ways. No, I will not see the movies. :-)

Sorry name aside, a pretty blush is a pretty blush. I cannot emphasize this enough.

A PRETTY BLUSH IS A PRETTY BLUSH.


I was afraid that given its super low price of CAD$2.99, it would end up chalky or grainy or somehow misperform.


But it doesn't!!!!!!!!!! It's lovely and silky and pigmented and goes on without trouble!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Lightly tap the pan with a fluffy blush brush and blend blend blend! Not because the blush is problematic but because the colour is strong and you don't want to look like some deranged Twi-hard!

I AM SO HAPPY!  

HAPPINESS IS A PAN OF BLUSH.

This review was brought to you by my hungry and sleep-deprived alter ego. The other Liz may or may not return in January when life settles down. In the mean time, sorry about the lack of blog visits, comments and responses. I'm feeling so overwhelmed and trying not to buy any more unnecessary stuff and ackghdfjakds;l!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Quickie Nail Polish Filler Post

I post this in case I don't get around to a new post until Saturday. Job #1 remains mind-numbingly boring where I spend most of my day watching the clock, but Job #2 is keeping me literally on my toes and on my feet all night. Therefore, my lunch hour visits to Sephora have become ever more precious.

I haven't had time to cut my nails much less polish them, so I took advantage of the giant new nail bar to explore some new shades. As usual, I was drawn to blues.

Illamasqua "Cameo" (CAD$18)

YSL "Bleu Majorelle" (CAD$31)

Both were applied without base coats or top coats, and frankly, I amazed even myself. I applied these suckers in five minutes flats, two coats each, and topped it with some Sephora/OPI drying drops. I received a compliment on them right away (yes, each hand different colour) and most people preferred Cameo over Bleu Majorelle, which I agree with. Cameo is a more unique periwinkle while Bleu Majorelle, stunning in its own right, is still a blue that looks a lot more dupable and familiar. Also: look at the chips on Bleu Majorelle. That happened on Day 1 and got worse by Day 3. Cameo by contrast is still in perfect shape without any tip wear. $18 polish vs. $31 is no contest in this case. Suck it, YSL.

(I didn't buy either of them as I seem to be going through a disturbing nail polish withdrawal phase. We shall monitor this new development in the coming weeks/months.)

Friday, December 7, 2012

2012 Empties Part 9

ALL RIGHT, HERE WE GO. Second last empties post of 2012!


Just wondering: has anyone reading this ever finished a Chanel anything before? 

Bath & Body Works French Baguette 3-Wick Candles x 2 (reviewed here) - Will I ever shut up about these candles? No. Go get some! Because they're so soothing and easy on the nose, it's very possible to burn through two giant jars within 2.5 weeks. This is why I bought four more immediately.


St. Ives Mineral Clay Firming Masque - I've tried clay masks both high and low, and I don't think any of them has ever done anything for my skin. Mud masks are always recommended for oily skin, and while it always feels nice right after rinsing off, there are no long-term effects. I honestly think the nice feeling is the result of double cleanse at the sink (triple cleanse if your normal routine is to double cleanse - le sigh).

Garnier Fructis Anti-Dandruff Clean & Fresh 2-in-1 - Bought five for $0.99 each and have no complaints. Out of the cheap drugstore shampoos, I like Fructis in general, mostly because they go on sale often for $2.99. Their regular shampoos dry out my scalp like crazy during cold season though, and the anti-dandruff stuff are a little kinder. I'm testing out some PR samples right now and will report back on those later.


Sephora Collection Coconut Cream Body Butter (discontinued) - I had this one for a LONG time. I had bought this at the same time along with another body butter and regretted it after, but a strange thing happened. I grew to love it more and more as time went by. The scent was sickly sweet and not my usual sort of thing at all, but I got really attached to it and you can see how I scraped the jar clean. Sephora recently re-released new body products and I might have to try one of the body butters eventually.

Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer - YOU KNOW - holy grail primer. Will repurchase when I finish the Becca Resurfacing Primer.

Boscia Peppermint Blotting Linens - I make an annual trip to Sephora as soon as the newly designed Boscia Peppermint blotting sheets are released and stock up when they're half price. This year I somehow forgot and now they are freaking sold out. Yes, I can buy it online, but no, I'm not going to spend $75 to get free delivery. I also refuse to pay $12 for blotting sheets. My face looks like this right now.


LUSH Golden Wonder (reviewed here) - My favourite holiday bath bomb! I wanted to buy 10 but resisted. $7 is a lot for one bath and you can only stay in the water, say, an hour max. Considering that I could pay $10 to go to a spa and use their piping hot water for hours at a time, I've decided to reduce the number of bath bombs I purchase in the coming year. More spa relaxing times, less time spent scrubbing the tub! Tip for those using Golden Wonders though: throw it into the bath at the last minute. The bubbles disappear pretty quickly if the bomb dissolves too early.

LUSH Bubbleroons x 2 - I threw both of them into the same bath as the Golden Wonder because I didn't get enough foam in the end. The bubbleroons are from almost a year ago when Ashley sent them to me. LUSH products should be used as soon as possible, however. The bubbleroons had hardened and were less foamy than the last time I used them, back in August. It's hard to let go of these hoarding habits but lesson learned.

Shiseido Facial Cotton - Who knew one day we'd have holy grail cottons? But they're worth it. I'm using a cheaper package now as I like to rotate between the splurge and the cheap. And yes, Larie, I will investigate the Costco cotton packs eventually!


Boring stuff. Baby wipes, Balea wipes, Rexall cotton rounds. All previously featured, all regular purchases.


Samples! Links will take you to the reviews.


TOSSES
  • Revlon Colorburst Lip Gloss in Sienna Sparkles (Expired) - Swatched here. I used it only 10 times or so, but one day it smelled funky. Gross.
  • Boscia Oil-Free Daily Hydration (Expired)
  • Boscia Enlivening Amino-AG Eye Treatment (Expired)
  • Revlon Lip Butter in Candy Apple - You heard the story. No more lip butters for me until Revlon fixes this problem.
  • Physicians Formula Multi-Colored Pressed Powder in Beige - Not exactly expired but too old for comfort. Also not a match to my paler winter complexion.


Todays Total:
Jumbo - 1 (Rexall Baby Wipes)
Regular - 10
Travel/Samples - 11
Tossed - 6
(As usual, candles not counted.)

2012 Total:
Jumbo - 6
Regular - 81
Travel/Samples - 33
Tossed -16

By my old rule (1 jumbo = 2 regular; 5 travel/sample = 1 regular), I have used up 99.6 products in 2012. I have a few more old bottles and samples headed to the empties bag before the year ends, but it seems that my rough estimate of 100 products per year still stands. It is seriously insane how much stuff we plow through. Although there are many days when I want to throw aside this reductionista business and call it quits, seeing the end of a project journey has me inspired and pumped for more projects in the future. Perhaps I can work on reducing the amount of waste produced in 2014, since 2013 will be spent finishing up what I purchased in 2012 and 2011 (groan). For some reason I managed to accrue soap bars rather than shower gels this year, and already that is much less wasteful in terms of non-recyclable packaging and whatnot. We shall see.