Thursday, 30 January 2014

January Favorites

I'm going to start this post by saying that this has been a very long month for me. This month has been spent doing a work term in rural Newfoundland and the country life is not for me. That being said, having to pack my bags for the Monday-Friday workweek made me pare down my makeup bag and use only a handful of products each week. In the process of doing so, I feel like I have re-kindled my love with so many products in my own stash (which will hopefully prevent me from buying more makeup... but let's be real here). I have been doing my makeup a little differently this month, mostly because I want to look semi-professional (who wants a nurse who looks like she's going clubbing?). Therefore I have been sporting a whole lot of barely-there eye looks, well groomed and penciled brows, sculpted cheeks via blush & bronzer and a trifecta of natural lip colors. It was actually really nice to get back to basics and I think I'll continue to wear a really natural and perfected look from time to time. But for now, I'm dying to wear my new Nars Satin Lip Pencil that arrived last week, in the most trampy shade of pink I have ever witnessed (post to come, it's a beaut).

Here's what I've been loving:

I received this tiny primer in a Too Faced gift set and I gave my two cents on it early this week (read here). Basically this primer was fabulous at keeping my foundation/concealer/powder in place all day and also helped majorly with oil control on my t-zone (not even sure if powder was necessary!). Great primer, so light and velvety.

My lovely mother was kind enough to bring this back from Vegas for me about a month ago. As I do not have access to a NARS counter for swatching, I had to pick a shade based on the Sephora website and countless beauty blogger reviews. I ended up picking Madly, described as a seashell pink. I'm not sure what seashell pink is supposed to look like, but I would definitely say this is far from pink. I would describe the color as a brown with a touch of red, somewhat like a terracotta color. In the pan, it looks completely frightening, but on the face it is so gorgeous. Because I am so pale, I used this color as a contour on some days, a full bronzer on other days or merely on the apples of the cheeks for a healthy flush. This blush warmed up my whole complexion so nicely and it's a great multi-purpose blush-bronzer hybrid. I will definitely use this blush in a tutorial soon, as there is no way to explain the wonder of this unique color.

Another sample joining the gang! I received this mascara in a gift with purchase months ago and I've used it so many times this month. It's a nice mascara with a tapered brush that's fat on one end (great for adding volume) and pointed on the other end (perfect for getting those lashes close to the corner of the eye). The brush helped to fan out my lashes in a pretty way and give a hefty amount of definition without looking too overboard for daytime.

This is my first ever high end highlighting pen. This was a saviour in my many early mornings this month. I used this under the eyes, atop the cheekbones/temples, down the nose, above the cupid's bow and on my chin. This highlighting pen adds a very subtle luminosity to the skin that's barely detectable but makes such a lovely sheen when light hits the face. I have the lightest shade 01 which looks very peachy when swatched. Clarins has yet to disappoint me!

I know this sounds really vague, but I did not go without a brown liner in my makeup bag this month. I would use brown eyeliner everyday in conjuction with a nude eyeshadow or simply on it's own. The beauty of a brown liner is it's versatility. I used it smudged into the lash line for subtle definition, smudged over the lid for a quick smokey eye, lined neatly across the top lid and as a full on feline flick. Another bonus is that brown eyeliner is not too harsh and really helps blue eyes to look super blue. I used a handful of brown liners this month, and I can't pick just one. Pictured above is the Rimmel ScandalEyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal in 003 Brown, which is a pretty metallic brown with a slight gold glitter running through.

This is not my first time mentioning this lipstick, it was the proud winner of my Lipstick of the Year 2013. It's a lovely peachy-browny-warm pink color that looks particularly delicious with peach and other warm toned blushes. The color is long lasting and comfortable. The satin finish is also quite pretty. Add a touch of gloss to the center of the lips and it looks like you had your lips done. If you love the nude lipstick look but feel like you look corpse-like with a beige/baby pink lip, this is a fantastic alternative.

Disclaimer: the name of this lipstick is deceiving. When I hear “pale lip”, I get visions of those nasty concealer-esque nude lipsticks that make me look like I'm dead. This is so far from the truth. This lipstick is a light warm pink that comes off as a slight dusky rose on the lips. Super pretty, and the one and only light pink lipstick that I have actually loved the look of on myself (love it on other people and so jealous of the people who can pull it off!).

I think the Color Whispers are highly underrated and a much better version of the Revlon Lip Butters (which I find to be really drying and heavy). These lip butter/balm thingies are really nice and easy for busy days when I don't have time for touching up lipstick. It's super moisturzing and leaves a pretty, shiny neutral pink slick on the pout. The color is really natural and has the feel of a high end product. Fabulous budget buy and highly recommended.

I'm really looking forward to next month and being a little more adventurous with my makeup looks. I love planning Valentine's Day looks and all the girly-ness that surround the holiday. What products have you been loving this month?

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

A Touch of Too Faced: Beauty Blogger Darlings Set Reviewed

I was lucky enough to be gifted a lovely Too Faced Beauty Blogger Darlings gift set for Christmas from my family. Before then, I had not tried anything from the brand, though I had heard much about it in the beauty community. Value sets are a great way to try multiple products within a brand that double as convenient, travel-friendly products ideal for chucking in a handbag or a compact makeup bag for an excursion away. I was definitely impressed with the samples I was gifted, and I would not hesitate to try out other products from the brand.

Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer

The Good: This is a no-nonsense bronze that is truly matte (not a glitter particle to be seen). It can be applied very lightly or built up in layers for a deep bronze. The color is deep to medium toned brown and it looks quite natural on the skin. This bronzer is highly blendable and I can understand why it is so well loved. I did use this very lightly dusted on the areas of my face where the sun would naturally hit and it had a very “bronzed goddess” effect. The formula is definitely spot on.

The Bad: Although I applied this very sheerly, I think it is just too dark for my sickly pale winter complexion. Though I am holding off on this bronzer for the winter, I look forward to cracking this out again in the summer months to give it another go. I did notice on the Sephora website that there is a lighter shade called the Milk Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer, perhaps this would be a better color match for my ghostly paleness. It is also scented with a very sweet, candy-like smell. I have no issue with scented products but they make me weary of causing skin reactions (not that I have ever reacted from a scented product, it's just quirk of mine).

Overall grade: B

Too Faced Primed and Poreless Skin Smoothing Face Primer

The Good: This primer is so velvety in texture. It glides smoothly onto the face and helps to make the skin look more even and helps to make imperfections less noticable. My foundation, concealer and powder lasts all day and looks almost exactly the same by the time I wash my face at night. This primer reminds me of my Clarins Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch Primer (which I used daily, until recently). I have used this primer pretty much every day in the month of January and I'm quite happy with the performance. The tiny tube is also SO convenient to pop in a purse or overnight bag.

The Bad: Nothing bad to say about this!

Overall Grade: A+

Too Faced Shadow Insurance Eye Shadow Primer

The Good: The formula reminds me so much of the Urban Decay Primer Potion. I would say the difference between the two is that the Too Faced Eye Primer is less thick and easier to blend onto the lids. I tend to use eye shadow primer every day to not only increase the longevity of my eye shadow, but also to help the colors look more vibrant. What more can I say? This primer does what it says it will, and it does it well! If I had to choose between Too Faced or Urban Decay, I would probably go with Too Faced because I think it is a little cheaper in price and excellent in formulation.

The Bad: No complaints!

Overall Grade: A+

Too Faced Better than Sex Mascara

The Good: While I'm not going to comment on the name of this particular mascara, I would say that it's pretty good (but not that good). I'm extremely picky when it comes to mascaras but I think this one is better than I was expecting. The brush is big with lots of bristles, which makes it easy to apply lashings of mascara without any stubborn clumps getting deposited all over the lids or lashes. With two coats the mascara gives a pretty dramatic volumized look. The bristles on the wand help to separate the lashes for a very doll-eyed effect. I didn't have any issues with smudging or flaking and think it's an all around good mascara, nice for pretty daytime lashes. I've thoroughly enjoyed nearly using it up and I would recommend for those who like a lot of separation of their lashes rather than a clumpy look.

The Bad: This mascara looks lovely on the lashes but it's not quite dramatic enough for me. I like loads of volume and this mascara didn't quite give me the drama I wanted.

Overall Grade: B+

This was my first set of makeup products and it was fun to get to try so many products from a brand. This particular Too Faced set is definitely suited for a wide variety of people and I can definitely see why the Beauty Blogger Darlings is such a crowd pleaser. I see no duds in this set, and that makes me very happy.

Have you tried any Too Faced Products? What are your thoughts on the brand as a whole?

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

The Body Shop Camomile Skin Care: A Thorough Review

A few months ago I happened into The Body Shop during the release of the Camomile skincare range. As I am always on the look out for skincare at a good price, I picked up three products from the range to try out. I purchased the Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter, the Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil and the Camomile Waterproof Eye & Lip Makeup Remover. If you cannot tell from the pictures, I have pretty much used up the eye makeup remover and cleansing butter (minus a few drops here and there) and I have used up about 75% of the cleansing oil. I wanted to use them up before giving a review because it can take months to see the benefits of skincare. I have tried other skincare bits from The Body Shop and been pleased in the past (I'd like to give a special shout-out to the Vitamin E SPF 15 Moisture Lotion) so it was interesting to trial the new products up their sleeve.


The Good: I love the gorgeous herbal scent, it makes it feel so much luxurious and expensive than it actually is. After washing this off well with a hot washcloth, my skin definitely felt very hydrated and soft. This was a saviour for my skin when it was very dry and irritated from the cold winter winds.

The Bad: I have such mixed feelings about this cleanser. Although I used up the entire tin, I'm not sure if it did my face any favors in the long run. I think that this cleansing butter was a little too heavy and rich for my skin type (combination) but I imagine it would be amazing for someone dealing with dry skin. I fear that the richness of this cleanser may have contributed to breakouts. I also found that even after cleansing my face with a washcloth a few times, I was left with a slight oily residue on the skin. The texture of the product is also a little strange. It is a semi-solid waxy type product that you have to scoop out with your finger and then massage into the face. Once the product heats up, it melts into an oil but there are occasionally some bits that do not dissolve and make the texture of it oily with chunky bits. It also made my eyes water, and I'm not sure why that happened since I didn't put it directly on my eye lids or general eye area.

Overall Grade: B (Purely because the product did not jive with my combo-skin, a dry-skinned individual may beg to differ).


The Good: This cleansing oil is almost powerful enough to dissolve the most waterproof of makeup. I usually remove my eye makeup before washing my face but I did try this puppy on it's own a couple of times and I was pretty impressed. Also, it smells really nice.

The Bad: No matter how many times I tried to buff this oil off of my face with a washcloth, I could not get that greasy feeling to go away. This was a major turn off and I find it so annoying to get this product properly washed off of my face that I rarely bother to use it. This oil is super heavy and is probably not a good mix with my combo skin. I also found that the texture of the oil was much thinner than I expected. The oil would pretty much run out between my fingers from the time I pumped it into my hand and slapped it on to my face.

Overall Grade: D


The Good: Saving the best for last! I have nothing but good things to say about this product. It is definitely the star product of the range. This eye makeup remover can power through the most waterproof of eyeliners, the most stubborn of mascaras (I'm talking to you, Clinique High Impact Extreme Mascara), and the most potent lip stains known to man. There is nothing that I haven't been able to remove with a cotton pad and a good soaking of this makeup remover. It has two layers that settle in between use and you simply give the bottle a shake to mix it up before use. Another plus is that it didn't irritate my eyes.

The Bad: I have nothing bad to say about this... except that I ran out of it.

Overall Grade: A+

Have you tried any skin care products from The Body Shop? Has anyone had similar experiences with the cleansing butter/oil, or is it just me? Please let me know any recommendations in the comments below. 

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Review: Stila Convertible Color in Peony

I have had my eye on the Stila Convertible Colors for quite some time now. I heard much hype about these cream blushes that double as lip creams sometime last year. Somehow, I have managed to refrain from immediately buying one, though I longingly swatched them every time I took a gander in the Shoppers Drugmart Beauty Boutique. I finally caved and bought the shade Peony about two weeks ago and have had the opportunity to give it a few goes. Here are my thoughts:

PACKAGING: Let's start with the most objective, unimportant feature of this product; the packaging. I personally love the look of this blush, it's in a plastic compact that is quite flat and petite. I love how the packaging is different than any other blush I own and the gorgeous frosted dusty pink color makes me feel like a proper lady. It looks like it would travel well and is tough enough to throw into the depths of a purse for on the go makeup.

FORMULATION: The formula of this cream blush is so different that I expected. From doing my research before buying, I assume it would be a very "wet" and dewy blush (which is probably why it has taken me so long to buy it). I was pleasantly surprised to discover that actually has a semi-matte finish, which looks gorgeous blended into the cheeks.

APPLICATION: The product itself is very pigmented but difficult to go overboard with. I'm the type of girl who would prefer to slap it on with my fingers and blend it in to the skin rather than use a brush, but I imagine it would work well applied with a brush as well. It blends gorgeously and is super easy to use, I would definitely recommend this as a great cream blush for beginners. In the pan it looks like a very dark, dusty pink but it actually swatches to be a neutral-browny-peach. Yet it does not look at all like a bronzer, nor does it look orange at all. I think that Peony would be flattering on light and medium skin tones. 

WEAR TIME: I have combination skin, so I am often weary about cream products wearing off before I've drank my morning tea. To put it to the ultimate test, I applied it without any setting powder to see how long lasting it was. To my pleasant surprise, this blush will stand the test of time and I do not need to set with powder to keep it in place. By the end of the day, it looked nearly exactly the same as it did 12 hours ago with very minimal fading. It doesn't smear, get blotchy or transfer. I am very impressed with it's wear time. 

LIP CREAM CAPABILITIES: I'm definitely not the type of person who longs for a 3 product face. In fact I don't tend to lust after multitasking products because I just love makeup and using lots of different things is fun for me. My point is that I like wearing lipstick, so I wouldn't necessarily think to use this as my primary lip product. That being said, if I was really stuck, I would have no problems swiping this on the lips for a subtle pinky brown pout. It's not the most moisturizing on the lips but would be fine combined with a lip balm if you were in a pinch. I bought this to be a blush so I'm not too concerned about it's downfall as a lip cream.


I am definitely impressed with the Stila Convertible Color in Peony, and I think it lives up to the hype. I am now curious to try other shades to see how they compare (all in the name of conducting an experiment, right?). Have you tried the convertible colors? What are your favorite shades?

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Getting Cheeky: Give Blush a Chance

Top Row (L-R): Nars Deep Throat, Nars Madly. Bottom row: Stila Convertible Color in Peony, Smashbox Chiffon
In case you weren't already aware, blush is my favorite beauty product (with lipstick coming in at a close second). I still remember my very first blush. It was a Covergirl Cheekers in some shade of peachy-pink. I was inspired to purchase blush by reading YM magazine (may it rest in peace), where I found a full-page feature on achieving Kate Bosworth's red carpet makeup look. Kate had a gorgeous peachy flush across the cheeks, and according to the magazine, a Stila blush was used for the look. With limited funds and limited resources, the best alternative I could find was a Covergirl blush from Walmart that looked very similar in color. Of course I used the small plastic brush that came in the package and could not understand why I could not recreate Kate Bosworth's lovely flush. I never bought another blush after that for years, assuming that blush was not for me. Looking back, the blush itself was likely not very pigmented, and the rubbish brush did not help it's case.
Fast forward to 9 years later and I now possess 9 beautiful blushes that I could not live without (and the collection continues to grow). I believe that my experience is similar to so many others. Trying a dud and giving up on it forever. For whatever reason, I feel like the girls of my generation do not place great importance on blush. In fact I felt like a bit of a granny when I first started wearing blush, as I was probably the first of my friends to try it. The moral of this drawn out story is this- GIVE BLUSH A CHANCE! If you feel like you are afraid of blush/ think it is dumb/ think it's for grannies- I beg of you to pick up the blush brush and try once more. It's really not that scary and it looks so beautiful when it's done right. I will have more posts to follow on application secrets, but here are some basic points on buying a blush and picking a color: Let's get cheeky!
1. The Brush:You know that convenient little brush that sits ever so cutely next to the blush? Throw it out! They are junk, and even if they aren't, it's not worth the risk. Go out and buy yourself a proper brush and I promise you it will make all the difference. A nice blusher brush can make a cheaper blush look fantastic. Of course there are lots of expensive brushes that are beautiful quality (MAC, Lancome, etc) but I personally use a more affordable brush (see picture above). Make sure the brush is domed and soft for evenly blended color. Some suggestions for brands that make lovely brushes at a good price point are Sonia Kashuk (what I use, available at Target), Real Techniques (Multitask brush is really good), Ecotools, and The Body Shop.

2. Amount: Start low and go slow (I believe this is a rule for medicating the elderly? Oops! Sorry for the medical talk). By this, I mean start with really small amounts of blush and work from there. Do not load up your brush with oodles of powder and then wonder why you look like a member of Cirque de Soleil. Sweep your brush lightly across the pan, then tap the brush/dab on back of hand/blot on tissue to remove the excess pigment and sweep lightly onto the cheeks. For highly pigmented blushes, this may be enough. For more sheer brushes, you may want to repeat this a few times. From my experience, you can always add more, but you cannot take away. It's easier to add a small amount of color and reapply rather than washing off a full face of makeup (learned from experience!).
3. Color selection: There is no "one size fits all" color for blush. There are some colors that are flattering on MOST skin tones, but this does not necessarily mean it is for you. If you have no idea what blush color you want, I would recommend buying some drugstore blushes and see what colors look the most flattering before slapping down some cash on a high end pick (there is truly nothing like a Nars blush). I have heard so many rules about choosing blush, but I'm not sure if I feel like endorsing them, as I don't tend to follow many makeup rules myself. I have heard people say to get a blush similar to the color your cheeks turn in the cold/after exercise, but this doesn't work for me. I took that advice and I did not like the end result. So what I'm saying is, buy a few colors if you are really unsure (a peach, a light pink, bright pink, warm pink, coral, plum, rose and/or a neutral browny- pink) and see which one looks right. Just one more thing about picking out a color; I've never met a person who disliked a coral blush (but don't hold me to that). Another very general suggestion is that if you have a warm skin tone, warm colors will compliment your complexion, and ditto for cool skin tones. But again, I do not follow this rule myself but it may be a good place to start if you are looking for a blush that compliments your skin tone rather than appearing too stark. It shouldn't LOOK like you are wearing blush, but it should look blended and natural. My recommendations for budget blushes are Wet n Wild Color Icon blushes, Gosh Cosmetics blushes, Physicians Formula Happy Booster blushes, Rimmel London blushes and NYX blushes.

Blush is such a beautiful product and I really hope that more people take interest in the most elegant, feminine beauty product known to humankind (that's right, I said it). Do you remember your first blush? What are your favorite budget blushes for blush-noobs?

Thanks for reading :)

Monday, 6 January 2014

My Beauty Resolutions for 2014

Due to power outages and blizzards ravaging the province, I have been unable to post for far too long. I know it's kind of late on the resolution train but they are no less true than they were on New Years Day. I will hopefully get back to a regular posting schedule when power issues are resolved.

There's nothing like the start of a new year to try to improve the status quo. I think that 2013 was definitely a great year for me on the makeup front and I have already developed some good habits that I will likely carry on into this year. When I say “good habits” I mean: putting research into products before I buy, investing in some fabulous quality brushes that have greatly improved the way products blend onto my face, managing to wash my makeup off EVERY night and making some fantastic brand discoveries. Of course, I'm not perfect and this year I have set the bar high for myself in terms of bringing my makeup knowledge to a whole new level and share my discoveries with y'all. So like I said, this seems like a lot to accomplish... but I'm ready for the challenge.

#1 Reduce the acne scarring on my face (still assembling a game plan, post to follow).
#2 Find the perfect nude eye palette.
#3 Find a perfect coral lipstick.
#4 Be more comfortable in less/no makeup and create the best “no makeup/minimal makeup look”.
#5 Find a foundation worthy of HG status.
#6 Purchase a second eyeshadow blending brush.
#7 Obtain anything from Tom Ford Cosmetics/Chanel Cosmetics.
#8 Come up with a good solution for makeup storage.
#9 Incorporate more color into my makeup looks (colored eyeliner perhaps?).
#10 Continue with my skincare regime (e.g. don't sleep in makeup).
#11 Create a makeup look that will withstand a day in the life of a nurse (12 hour shift).
#12 Wash my makeup brushes frequently.
#13 Make planned beauty purchases- not impulsive beauty buys.
#14 Put more effort into actually DOING my hair (anything other than my usual “just rolled out of bed” hair smothered in dry shampoo)

Of course I have all of the other classic resolutions that every person and their cat has: get back into my exercise regime, attempt to eat clean, get solid rest, blah blah blah. But that is always in the back of my head during the year so I hardly think it's worth mentioning. Just ask the boyfriend, I'm sure I declare a total health reform on us at least every two weeks. So hopefully this will continue throughout the year as I try to balance a little bit of indulgence with a generally healthy lifestyle (aren't we all?). Another wish for 2014 is to be more positive. More and more I am beginning to realize that negativity is contagious and how quickly a minor hiccup can bring my day from great to the worst. In this new year I'm going to try to be more positive and hope I can help spread it around to those around me.

So what's on your beauty bucket list for the year? Maybe you want to find the perfect blush. Maybe you want to muster up the courage to wear a red lip in public. Or maybe you just want a good eyebrow wax. Either way, I wish you luck on your new beginnings. Please let me know your beauty resolutions in the comments below, as they may become the basis for future blog posts.

Thanks for reading.