• About
  • The Edit
  • The Review
  • The Video
  • Contact/PR

A Bit of Bronze

I'm one of those people who's never burned a day in my life.  I'm waiting for the pain-free hours of lying out in the sun to catch up with me, but until that day, I've always been able to tan easily and not worry about burning, peeling or maintaining.  If anything, my skin tone is one of those that won't let the colour go -- I never go back to the level of paleness that I was.  I joke regularly with my friends that my skin colour is an amalgamation of a lifetime of sun exposure.

That said, when I heard about Caudalie's Divine Legs Body Moisturizer*, I had to see what it was all about.  Since I'm no longer privileged enough to have summers off, I'm much paler than I've ever been.  I didn't realize how pale my legs start off!

My other issue with self-tanner is that they're often a weird colour.  Even extremely famous versions that are famed for leaving you properly bronzed go a little wonky on me.  My skin is quite olive so I tan a strange taupe-y gray colour, and Caudalie's Divine Legs is the perfect marriage between the colour I would like to be and a colour I can pull off naturally.

The product takes your legs down a few shades, but you can definitely control the depth of your tan by putting more on.  I've also used this on my stomach whenever I wear a crop top -- instant abs.  It's marketed as a body moisturizer so it leaves your skin feeling soft and hydrated.

I enlisted Tod's help for this post -- she's much lighter than me so she's tried a number of self-tanners.  Here's what she had to say:

"It's a pleasant consistency.  I find a lot of them gross -- like, greasy.  At least the ones I've used in the past.  It's one of the more natural-looking fake tans I've had in a while.  It's kind of nice that it's not permanent, that it washes off in the shower.  It's less of a commitment; in case you make a mistake or something.  The other ones that are more permanent that last a few days, if you forget to avoid your knees, then you're stuck with dark knees for four days.  At least if you mess this one up, it's only one day."

For the swatch below, I took one single pump of the product and rubbed it into my thigh -- please bear in mind that I'm 5'10 and my thighs are longer than most people's.

Left: One pump of Caudalie Divine Bronze, Right: bare skin

*PR Sample

Current Rotation

In the very beginnings of Into The Gloss's blogging career, she showed us her own daily makeup.  Since that very moment, I've lusted that Container Store organizer, fruitlessly searching for that exact model in Container-Store-less Toronto.  You can actually find it at Neat, but it's twice as expensive.  Je refuse!

Even with the purchase of a Clear Cube, I found my desk littered with my daily makeup paraphernalia.  I've found that corralling it in one place has really helped me use up products and switch them out more regularly.  That's right. Prepare yourselves for an epic empties post at the end of the season *fingers crossed*.

After washing my face, I'll apply a serum -- either Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair, or my new-found Caudalie Radiance Serum.  Immediately after I'll use my equally beloved Caudalie Vinoperfect Day Fluid, which leaves me with glowing, hydrated skin with a kick of SPF without any sort of white cast.  Huzzah.

Next I'll mix myself a base -- a combination of Kanebo Sensai Fluid Finish Velvet Foundation in 203 and 204.5, with the tiniest dot of MUFE Aquarelle in #6 Apple Green.  It makes any foundation match my skin perfectly, and it doesn't make me break out.  I'm weirdly diligent about switching out my favourite concealers, but lately I've been loving a combination of Bobbi Brown Corrector in Light Peach and Laura Mercier's Secret Camouflage #3.

After my base is done, I'll start playing with various cheek products.  Usually a dot of Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector (I don't ever think I'll get tired of this product) on the tops of the cheek bones, and a dusting of Guerlain Meteorites all over to set everything.  Then I'll contour with NYC Sunny Bronzer (sent by the lovely Roses and Rouge), and a light wash of Chanel Joues Contraste Rose Petale to tie it all together.

For lips I'll use any number of lip products -- I've purchased a Muji 3-drawer to contain it all (video? Would you be interested?), and on my eyes, I've gone fairly neutral with Le Metier de Beaute Tamarack, or the Cle de Peau Eye Color Quad #9.  Lately my lashes have been loving Benefit They're Real or Max Factor Masterpiece Max.  For extra-long, Bambi lashes, I layer them.

If you've been following me for a while, you'll know that this is way more makeup than I've ever worn in my life.  Thing is, ever since I started working my grown-up job, taking 10 minutes to really work on my skin and detail my face is possibly the most relaxing part of my day.  I'm not giving it up any time soon.

Can I help you develop a regular makeup routine?  Comment below and we'll get together on!

Ode to the Clarins Lip Perfector

It was inevitable that I would write about this.

After mentioning this product here, here, here and here, it was time for a real review.  Never mind that, I have one of these in my bag, on my vanity, and at the office.  If I drove, I'm sure I'd keep one in my car.

This lip product is -- hands down -- my most used lip product of 2013 so far.  I first purchased 01 Rose and 02 Apricot in a duty-free shop, and happily went about glossing my lips with what felt like cake frosting.  I can't even decide which part of this product I love the most: its hydrating ability, the scent or the texture.  The last product I felt so strongly about was the C.O. Bigelow Mentha Lip Tint.  This is exactly like that, but a thousand times more hydrating.  Worth. Every. Penny.

The only thing that I felt was a little lacking was the colour.  No more!  Earlier this year, Clarins released a few more shades to suit a greater variety of skin tones.  I received 04 Petal* and 06 Rosewood* and instantly set to swatching.  While 04 is far too light for me (it's an extremely pale nude on Tod -- great for blanking out lips for a dramatic eye looks), 06 is my perfect nude.  The colour is close to my skin tone without looking like,  There's enough pink to bring a little life back into my face while containing enough brown to nude out my lip.  The natural colour makes application almost painfully forgiving -- no mirror required!

The texture is that of a traditional gloss, but instead of sitting on top of your lips, it sinks in and leaves them comfortably hydrated.  It smells beautifully of caramel and all I want to do is reapply.  I've never finished a lip product this quickly, and given the 10 ml of product you get, that's especially impressive.  Note: a MAC Lip Glass is only 5 ml.  I've only finished a couple of those in the 10 years I've been using MAC.  I only discovered Clarins a year ago, and I'm almost done with my second one.  

At $20 a pop, these aren't the cheapest lip colour or lip balm.  But for both?  Think of it as two products that are $10 each.

*PR Sample

Tom Ford

Narcotic Rouge.  As though red lipstick wasn't addictive enough on its own, the inspiring and completely dashing Mr. Tom Ford had to go and raise the bar on lip addiction.

It's taken me over three years to finally, finally succumb to a Tom Ford lip product.  People are fairly divided on whether the formula is really that good, and isn't that other brand's lipstick just as good for a fraction of the price?  It's all a matter of opinion, but I think we can all agree that Mr. Ford raised the bar when it came to luxe lipsticks.  Some people might even say that after a decade of Lip Glass, Juicy Tubes, and Lip Glazes, he made lipstick cool again.

And how could you not be?  Picture pulling this divine, black-lacquered (or if you were lucky enough to hop onto the bandwagon during the bone white packaging, kudos!) case out of your clutch.  I've never been one to condone applying lipstick in public, but imagine yourself, casually leaning on a cocktail table, popping off the cap to expose a beautiful gold case.  Then the base twists up to reveal the most perfectly rich red.  It's just pink enough to add a pop of brightness, but the extremely high pigment will finish your lip look with just one swipe.  Then it disappears back into your bag as though it had never been.  That flash ebony, gold and scarlet will have people taking a second look.  Where did it come from?  Where did it go?

The colour is perfect for the summer.  It's different than my regular blue or orange-based reds -- this reminds me of my first MAC lipstick ever -- Brave Red.  I don't have that one to compare for you, but Narcotic Rouge starts off with a bright hot-pink base.  It's the ultimate Marilyn Monroe colour -- even the finish is glossy, just the way she liked it.

Tom Ford is available at Holt Renfrew for $55 CAD.

Sick Day Essentials

Pardon the lack of posts this week, lovelies!  I've been fighting off the most dreadful of throat infections, so my schedule has been largely Tylenol 3x a day, and lots of sleep.  Funny enough, I find being sick brings more people to your bedside than when you're healthy.  It must be my schmexy drag queen voice.

And because I've had a few visitors, I've been using my hands to apply Laura Mercier Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer in Bisque (I might be in love...) all over, focusing on areas I might need it.  For any redness around the nose and blemishes, I've been using my Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage in SC-3 on a Beauty Blender, my lazy-day face tool.  I also use it to blend out Bobbi Brown Corrector in Light Peach to hide any darkness under the eyes.  Here's a little cheat I do when I'm feeling very tired, I take the lighter colour from my Secret Camouflage compact and do the Kim Kardashian highlight.  I apply this oil-free concealer in a triangle shape under my eyes to help brighten the area and lift any darkness and hide puffiness. Miracle.  Depending on how healthy I want to look, I'll add a couple dots of Stila Convertible Colour in Peony, for a quick, blendable flush.  Because my eyes also get quite swollen, I'll put on a cream shadow -- my favourite of late has been NARS Cream Eye Shadow in Mykonos, but more on that later.  Five products, no brushes -- proof that I really am ill... -- and you'll be rocking an almost-healthy glow!

A few other essentials that have helped me through a four-day apartment lockdown:

Water, water and more water.  It's exceptionally dry in my apartment, so I've been throwing back 1.5L bottles just so I don't have to travel to the kitchen.

An eye mask.  For those times when you need to catch up on sleep because you've spent the night coughing away. I particularly love the 40 Blinks by Bucky, it really blocks out all the light. The best part is the molded cups -- they don't put more pressure on your eyes and they don't crush your lashes.

Book Three of the Game of Thrones series.  For times when you feel a little better but really shouldn't go around prancing outside.  I'm addicted.  I'm also having more and more trouble resisting the show before I finish the books.

Homeoplasmine.  I speak about this French pharmacie favourite endlessly, but it really is the best product for the inevitable dry, chapped skin you'll get from blowing your nose.  My hands have also gotten awkwardly dry this weekend -- you know when the webby skin at the base of your fingers gets dry? Yeah.  You can see how well-loved mine is.

Penhaligon's Elizabethan Rose Eau de Toilette -- the fresh, green cut of this soliflore makes me feel like I'm outside, enjoying the amazing weather with everyone else.  It settles into a not-to-sweet floral that smells more realistic than any other rose fragrance I've ever sprayed.

The French Pharmacy Repurchases

Someone's missing...that Bioderma Hydrabio Lait always checks out on me.

As much as I like to indulge my Product Attention Deficit Disorder, I always keep a few stand-by products handy, just in case things don't work out.  Finding those permanent products can be trying, but when you find one, know that your life is forever changed. *cue dramatic music*

Sometime last year, I fell down the French pharmacie rabbit hole.  Fell is even a mild word -- I tumbled straight head-first and there was no gravitational suspension to keep me from plummeting straight into a German Apotheke (the rabbit hole isn't always directionally accurate, but it's close).

I fell in love with Bioderma Sensibio (as did everyone, their mother and their dog, based on the MakeUpAlley reviews) and its other-worldly ability to remove makeup, correct eye liner mistakes and in a pinch, clean brushes.  I've gone on and on and on about our love affair, so let me focus on its sidekick:  Shiseido cotton.  Yes, it's not exactly French pharmacie.  Yes, I'm paying $9 for cotton.  A little bird told me it will soon be increasing to $11 due to a global cotton shortage...please don't ask me to fact-check that, I'm not sure how I'd explain that on my Google history.  Bottom line, it is the softest, yet most effective cotton I have ever used, and you need to stock up before the cotton shortage takes it away from us.

To throw a wrench into the mix, here's another Bioderma favourite: Bioderma Hydrabio Lait -- it was a Garance Dore-inspired purchase, and I haven't looked back.  This is my cleanser of choice when I've gone through my proper skincare routine the night before.  You know that feeling you get when you are absolutely certain that you've chosen the right products and you wake up with the smoothest, most glowing, most perfected skin you've ever had?  This cleanser helps you retain all the goodness you've put in the night before, but refreshes away all the gunk that's accumulated.  It's that good.

Possibly the most backed-up item in my beauty arsenal is Avene Eau Thermale.  Yes, I occasionally cheat on it with Evian's version, but I always, always come back to this.  It's my toner, my setting spray, and my main hair-styling product in one.  I use it before and after cleansing, after makeup, and after heat-styling my hair.  I have no idea how or why it makes my curls so soft and touchable, but it does.  My best hair tip is to spray a light mist of thermal water on your hair before using a hair oil to seal it in.  Magic literally ensues.

I've been flubbering between moisturisers lately -- it's been that in-between weather where I can't just slick on one of my beloved oils to fight back the intensely dry winter air, but not quite warm enough that I turn to my summer spf-only routine.  What to do?  Remember this combination from last year?  While I can't quite bring myself to repurchase the serum, I did fall in love with Caudalie Vinoperfect Day Perfecting Fluid.  It's one of those products that you mindlessly throw on in the morning, only to touch your cheek a few hours later and wonder, "Why does my skin feel so good?  What did I put on today?" It's Caudalie, baby.

I've tried for years to convince myself that I don't need an $18 concoction of water, essential oils and grape extract, but I've decided to embrace my Caudalie Beauty Elixir addiction.  This never leaves my purse in the summer -- it calms any motion sickness that arises during impromptu road trips, soothes the irrationally bitter jealousy that arises when people talk about going on vacation, and wards off city grime.  An absolute essential.

I feel like I'm forgetting a few things, so there will probably be a follow-up post to this one, but for now, share your best Pharmacie products in the comments!

Dior DiorSkin Nude Tan Paradise Duo 001

I've been on the hunt for a new blush for some time now.  My current blush collection is filled with one of two extremes:  aggressively pigmented orange/red/hot pink or dusty rosy-pink.  Time to branch out.

Before we get started, I have to address the issue of coral.  How is it exactly different from peach?  I'm never sure, but every once in a while, I'll point at a colour and say, "You.  You are peach."  Then I'll point at one that's a smidge darker/lighter/coral-er and name it coral.  How do you know?

For the purposes of all future blog references, I'm going to define peach as a combination of orange and pink with more yellow in it.  That is, it'll be more orange than pink.  Anything that leans more pink will be safely ensconced in its coral kingdom.  For example, Tarte Tipsy is a vibrant peach, whereas this beauty coral.

This insanely beautiful chrome-quilted compact is a blush/bronzer duo from Dior's Summer 2013 line, the Diorskin Nude Tan Paradise Duo in 001.  One one side, we get two shades of bronzer -- a medium brown on top which mixes beautifully with darker, cool-toned brown to give an extremely realistic tan.  The key to a believable bronze is the amount of red in the pigment -- since a tan is glorified burned skin, there will always be red pigment, so even the most olive of skins will need a tiny hint of pink in their tan.

The other side is made up of two blush colours, one shimmery, one matte.  The shimmery quadrant is a shimmery coral and matte quadrant leans darker and more pink.  When mixed together they render a bright, medium-pink blush.  The magic happens when you mix all four shades together, they give you the most perfect coral.

I can't tell you how it happens or why it happens, but I have a very strong feeling that it's got something to do with the rosy shimmer mixing in with the peach-toned bronzer and all four shades amalgamating into a beautifully complex combination.  The colours lay down on your cheek in an almost imperceptible texture -- I rubbed my fingertips into the bronze side and double checked to make sure there was pigment there.  It's that smooth.  The shimmer in the pink is delightfully creamy, and even before blending out the product, the texture will have already disappeared, leaving you with nothing but your newly-blushed and bronzed skin.

Burberry Pink Azalea

Ladies (and some gentlemen?) -- I present you with my second Burberry product ever:  Lip Velvet No. 308 Pink Azalea.  Let's begin.

Beyond being a lip junkie, I'm a texture junkie.  As much as I'm obsessed with depth of colour, my favourite part of putting makeup on is the actual feeling of applying product, and feeling the textures and seeing how they translate onto skin.  The texture of this lipstick is phenomenal, especially for a matte.  I often find matte lipsticks fairly drying, with a tendency to cause the skin to pull and emphasize any rough patches.

When I first apply the product, the bullet glides smoothly over the lips, depositing a highly pigmented, thin layer of colour.  I can't even explain how impressed I am with the way this product lays down colour -- the colour is completely even in one swipe.  What I like most is that the texture will never feel cakey, simply because you would never need to pass the bullet enough to build up the colour.  As a result, the colour lasts for several hours on me (short of eating anything legitimately oily), since the colour doesn't collect and separate from your lips.

The colour itself is a browned raspberry -- at first I thought it would be an accidental dupe for Chanel #28 Romantic, but that's shinier, sheerer and cooler-toned; it pulls much more pink on my lips.  By comparison, Pink Azalea is reminiscent of the brown-toned lipsticks of the 90s, but in the best possible way.  It's incredibly versatile in that it can be a muted, office-appropriate lip, but with a couple more swipes, it turns into a beautifully dark, berry that gives your lips a vampy look without committing to a blackened lip colour.

The casing for the lipstick is matte plastic, and it's much lighter than its eye shadow counterpart.  The Burberry check covers the lid, which swooshes closed magnetically.  Incredibly satisfying.

Burberry lipsticks retail for $36/3.5g and are available at Holt Renfrew in Toronto and Vancouver.  Based on the comments in the last post, I need to try Pale Barley, Midnight Brown and a blush!  I was previously lusting Tangerine and now I'm also anxiously awaiting the arrival of Blossom.

Burberry Rosewood Eye Shadow

I've been craving me some Burberry cosmetics for a long time -- I'd say since Lisa Eldridge's review came
out.  A word of caution:  if you watch that video, you will just want it more.  I didn't end up getting anything from the video, but I'm extremely happy to have the Sheer Eye Shadow in No. 09 Rosewood.

The packaging is beyond gorgeous.  The box is made of thick cotton card, and it opens to reveal a velvet pouch embossed with the signature Burberry check.  A granite-coloured compact slides out -- more Burberry check -- which closes with the most satisfying snap.  It comes with a standard sponge-tip applicator that no one will ever use (except to swatch), and the mirror inside is full-size.

The actual texture of the product is fantastic. Thing is, I don't know if the Burberry texture was overhyped or what, but I was initially a little underwhelmed with the texture.  Don't get me wrong, it's smooth and evenly pigmented and soft (yet not too powdery), but I think I was expecting that smush that I usually acquaint with Urban Decay's shimmery shadows.  In fact, it's probably better that there's no smush, because I do find I tend to pick up too much product if that's the case.  To reiterate, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the beautiful texture of this product, I just had a weird moment of culture texture shock.

Which brings me to colour -- I didn't buy this myself so I didn't really get a chance to test it in person, but I am not regretting this colour in the least.  In the pan it's a cool, light taupe with the tiniest hint of shimmer running through it but on the eye it shows up as a smokey lavender-mauve, almost gray!  The shimmer is barely there on the lid, it just adds a bit of luminosity.

Lately I've been wearing this all over the lid, just blended out with a MAC 217 or my trusty Hakuhodo Kokutan T.  If I'm feeling fancy, I'll use my pinky finger to dab on a bit of Urban Decay Toasted on the centre of the lid, with a quick flick of Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Liner.  I like to pair this with a light, sheer wash of blush, usually MAC LoveCloud.  And on the lips...maybe another Burberry product I came across?  I'll show you later this week!

These are available at Holt Renfrew in Canada, I believe they're $33/2.5g .  What are your favourite Burberry products?  I'm desperate to try the Light Glow blush in Tangerine!

What's in My Bag?

 Let's start with my most-used item -- my wallet.  It is so unbelievably dirty.  I desperately need a new one.  I keep an inordinate number of receipts in there and I almost never clean it out.  Horrifying.  

Next to my wallet is a very typical Moleskine 18-month planner, which I only really started using when I had about a year left.  Oops.  I use it for to-do lists, wish lists, appointments (which I also put in my Google calender, which I get on my phone, which is probably overkill) and more wishlists.  I like writing with an ink pen instead of ballpoint, and my weapon of choice is the Sharpie Pen.  It bleeds slightly less than an Ultrafine Sharpie.  That blue thing is a little pill case containing Advil, gummy vitamins and various supplements.  Oh, and my phone is a Google Nexus S with a terribly cracked screen. *sadface*

I constantly forget my keys, especially when Tod is here on the weekends.  We both have a terrible habit of not locking the door if the other is still in the apartment...disaster awaits.  I'm not sure what my logic was when I decided to attach this tiny Roots Pouch to my keys, but inside I have my credit card, some subway tokens and a Pocket Monkey.

Directly above and below my keys are my sunglasses (Rayban Aviators in the widest possible size) and my beauty essentials, which I showed earlier this week.  I also like to keep a book on me, because I can't sit still without some sort of distraction.  Currently, I'm reading Tales of the Unexpected by Roald Dahl.  I'm 80% sure its giving me nightmares.  The purple tube in the lower left hand corner is my current hand cream-- it's a Tom Ford Violet Blonde body lotion that doubles as my everyday fragrance, for days that I forget to put perfume. I.e., every single day of my life.

I'm not going to lie -- I showed you mine so that you all would show me yours.  If you've done a What's in My Bag post, leave it down below or just tell me of any fun things you keep with you!

Testing Elizabeth Arden

Ah, the infamous Elizabeth Arden Red Door.  Discreetly printed into these gorgeous gold compacts, I almost feel like I'm standing outside their 5th Avenue salon.  Almost.

I've been so looking forward to warmer weather that a summery day look was in order.  I love a lightly smoky eye in the summer!  Paired with bronzed skin and juicy lips, it's usually my go-to look for cocktails on a patio.  I kept the base light and simple, under-eye corrector with a little mineral powder on top just to give a nice, matte finish.  On the eyes I used the eye shadow duo in Beautiful Color Eye Shadow Duo in Heathered Plums 04* -- the buttery, lighter shade is perfect for an everyday wash of colour, and the darker shade makes for an amazing liner.

Can we talk about this Pure Finish Radiant Bronzer Powder in Warm* for a moment?  Have you seen anything so beautiful?  The powder is made of four different shades -- a rosy, dark brown, a golden brown, a light ballerina pink and an ivory shot through with gold shimmer.  This isn't one of those bronzers I'd necessarily use to contour; this is a traditional, shimmery, glowifying (that's a word) bronzer.  Use it to fool people into thinking you've had an extra week of holiday.  The Beautiful Colour Radiance Blush in Plum Perfection 03* has an insanely blendable texture (not unlike the eye shadow) and the most subtle, barely-there shimmer running through it.  If you regularly watch my videos, you'll know that I prefer to use the same brush for foundation, blush and bronzer to give it a more seamless finish.

Lips are finished off with a lipstick/lip gloss hybrid that is so pigmented, I can't even put it on full-strength.  Beautiful Colour Luminous Lip Gloss* is chock full of ultrafine pink and silver shimmer to give your lips dimension, and formulated with mango and shea butter to keep your pout hydrated.  The best part?  The built-in mirror.  No joke.

Deets:  These are available online on the Elizabeth Arden site, at most department stores and the occasional Shoppers Drug Mart.  That  beautifully embossed bronzer is limited edition and will run you $38/10g of product.  The blush is permanent and is $26/5.4g, and all eyeshadow duos are $28.50/3g.  That lip gloss goes for $18 --  the same as a MAC Lipglass but with a smidge more product at 5g.

Keep an eye out for a few more Elizabeth Arden -- maybe a few things from the Eight Hour line? We'll see!

*PR Sample

Purse Beauty Essentials

I keep a catch-all pouch in my handbag to corral all the beauty items that end up running around my bag when I'm not looking.  This particular case is from CARGO, and it came stuffed full of fun beauty products.  Truth be told?  I bought it for the bag and haven't looked back.

Let's talk lips.  I'm a lip product fiend enthusiast, and I firmly believe that I need a lip look for every eventuality.  I'm kind of a just-in-case girl.  I always bright a neutral lip and a lip balm, so the Clarins Lip Perfector works on both counts.  Right now I'm using up 02 Apricot, but I'm feeling one of the new colours that are due out this spring!  Then I always a need a red lip (because you never know), and my go-to of late has been Chanel Rouge Allure #99 Pirate (swatch here)  It is the perfect blue-based red and the formula is classically gorgeous.  I also throw in a punchy, bright colour -- in this case, GLEAM Uncontrollable* (review here).  The fuschia-violet goes on ultra-glossy and leaves behind a popsicle-like stain.

Next, I'll throw in a base product -- usually an opaque concealer that I can apply with my fingers.  Weapon of choice?  Cle de Peau Concealer in Ochre -- this works under my eyes and on blemishes, so it's a winner in my book.  Next, for a little cheek colour, I like to go with something more neutral (if you're feeling a brighter cheek, use that red lipstick), so I've stashed my recent Stila acquisition: Convertible Colour in Peony.  I'm also someone who needs eyelid definition and the Maybelline Colour Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze more than does the trick.  This shimmery, waterproof bronze brings just the right amount of light to my eyes.

I went on a mini-road trip this weekend and since I'm supremely prone to motion sickness, I like to indulge in a little aromatherapy to help quell any queasiness.  Not only is Caudalie Beauty Elixir a fantastically refreshing on-the-go spritz, the herbal scent really does make me feel more refreshed and less sick.  Have any of you tried Tiger Balm?  It's reminiscent of that, but less pungent and significantly less likely to hit you over the head.

Other miscellaneous items that I keep in there include random hair ties, tiny claw clips and whatever jewelry I've shed that day.  Usually one of these.

What beauty products do you keep with you?

*PR Sample

Urban Decay Vice Palette

This is the one that got away.  A beautiful combination of buttery, creamy shadows in a fantastic range of shadows with the most perfect bright/neutral ratio.  Yes, we are talking about the Urban Decay Vice Palette -- one of those instances where I debated far too long about getting it, and I'm feeling the regrets.

Fortunately enough, my beautiful friend Peruana who is a beauty fiend lite managed to get her hands on the palette. We've been talking about me playing with it for months, and I knew I had eyes for only one colour.  Chaos.  Come to us, precious.

This is one of those tutorials where I literally sit down and play with makeup -- there is no direction, no plan -- I play with all the colours and I hope it turns into something I like.  The process usually goes something like, "Ooh, pretty colour!  Are we going out after?  Is it night time?" and those are the factors that decide which products I use, how crazy I go with shapes and colour, and how much glitter I can use.  Super professional, no?

Hope you enjoy the tutorial and don't forget to watch on Youtube for a full line-up of products and links!

Current Favourite Lip Combination

Winters are essentially an exercise in lip hydration  -- that is, I switch between any one of these lip balms.  If I use anything else, my lips turn into a minefield of lip splitting waiting to happen.  Not pretty.

Then it starts to warm up, the winds die down and I'm free to wear as much or as little product as I want!  I don't often go for the lipstick + lip gloss combination (I'm far too lazy for that), but I've been playing with a few of them lately, and I've found one I particularly adore.

I'm currently rocking Chanel Rouge Allure Romantic, topped off with Naked Lip Radiance from GLEAM, a nude, peachy gloss.  For those of you have trouble finding a my lip but better colour, this is a great compromise.  I don't know about you guys, but for me, MLBB (there's some blog slang for you) colours tend to wash me out or make my lips look oddly swollen.  This combination settles into a very flattering rose-pink, with just the right balance of brightness and warmth for my skin.

The trick to achieving this look is to find a nude gloss that puts more weight on pigment than shimmer.  For example, this doesn't work well with my beloved MAC Nymphette -- that colour comes off too much like a gold shimmer and doesn't actually alter the colour of the lipstick underneath.  Clarins Lip Perfector 02 is an ultra-hydrating option, and Stila Lip Glaze in Apricot also works well -- that one gives the smoothest finish.  A fantastic drugstore option is Revlon Nude Lustre -- this colour is flattering on everyone I've put it on.  Layer it over a bright lipstick that you know adore and you're on your way!  To keep your lips from feeling like they're overloaded with product, don't apply from the bullet.  Instead, use your fingers to stain on the lipstick for a lighter texture.

What lipstick/lip gloss combinations are you playing with?

11 Questions Tag (twice)!

A couple lovely ladies tagged me to do this -- the idea is that they ask 11 questions, I answer them, then I ask you 11 of my own.  I tried so many times to film this, and it was just wasn't working out -- random fire alarms, filled SD cards, camera batteries dying, I gave up and filmed as much as I could.  I figured I'd answer one of the tags in the video, and the other here so those who visit my Youtube channel could enjoy one, and the readers could have the other!

I answer Annick's questions in the video -- she's the writer behind The Small Little Things in Life.  Here are her questions!

1. You are traveling to Morocco and can only bring 5 makeup items. What would those items be? 
2. What is your favorite eyeshadow of all times.
3. What's your 5 minute face? 
4. Do you pencil/draw in your brows? If so, with what products?
5. Tell me of an embarrassing makeup moment or story 
6. Heels or flats?
7. What is the most luxurious makeup item you own?
8. Do you have any pets? 
9. You've won a gift certificate at Sephora for $100. How would you spend it? 
10. What's your skin type? 
11. Do you like ice cream? What's your favorite kind?

Becca from The Beauty Sample tagged me to do this too!  Here are her questions, with my answers!

1. Do you have a go-to look when it comes to makeup? If so, describe it!
My go-to look is usually nothing!  If I'm putting in a tiny effort, the first thing I'll do is this look I recently showed you.
2. On average, how often do you buy new makeup? Do you buy makeup more in-store or online?
I really hope my mother isn't reading this.  I'm pretty sure I buy something every month, but it comes and goes in waves.  For example, around June, there's a few warehouse sales in Toronto and that ends up being...not a great month for me, budget-wise.  I've recently dabbled in online makeup purchasing, you can see my first purchase here!
3. Are there any brands that you have been dying to try but haven’t gotten a chance to yet?
SO MANY.  Tata Harper skincare is one of them, Costes fragrances, MAQPro, By Terry, Rouge Bunny Rouge, Tom Ford, REN skincare, Burberry makeup, T. LeClerc, Ellis Faas makeup, Barry M, Collection 2000...shall I go on?
4. Do you spend more money on makeup or skincare?
This is a tricky question.  I think my current makeup collection holds more dollar value, but I regularly use up and replace my skincare.  It's probably both?   I know for a long time I was spending way more money on nail polish than anything else!  You know what scares me?  My tolerance for outrageously priced cosmetics is getting higher and higher...
5. When it comes to skincare products, do you like to try new things a lot or do you stick to something loyally if you find it works for you?
Both!  One of my cardinal skincare rules is that you should establish a routine that always works for you, no matter what.  Then you can play with other products without worrying that you won't have something to go back to.
6. Most reached for blush as of late? What about eyeshadow? Eyeliner?
Blush is one of those things I can switch up every day.  I'm currently loving using my lip colour on my cheeks!  Eye shadow...anything neutral?  Currently it's Naked from Urban Decay.  I almost never wear eye liner these days, but I've been playing with the Stila Stay All Day liner (giving myself fun tattoos), and that's working really well!
7. Do you have any “HG” products? If so, share!
Not sure that I do...I have products that I adore, but none that I would necessarily call HG.  I think that kind of implies that you don't want to try anything else and my Product A.D.D. refuses to let that happen.
8. Is there that one perfect product that you keep searching for but have yet to find? If so, what is it? 
If one day...ONE DAY, I could find a foundation that is green enough to suit my extremely olive skin...I don't think I'd look any further.  It's not enough for foundation to be warm -- it has to have a little green in it. That is, if it makes you look ill, it's probably right for me. I'm open to any and all suggestions!  
9. If you had to choose just one beauty brand to shop from for the next 5 years, which brand would you choose?
What's supremely funny about this question is that I feel like my perfect brand is one of the ones I mentioned above.  Out of the ones I've tried so far...Institut Esthederm for skincare (they're the creators of Bioderma!) and Make Up For Ever for cosmetics!
10. Are you a sucker for packaging and/or pretty presentation (like the new trend of gorgeous, intricately embossed powders)?
Yes. Yes. And yes.  I (almost) never buy them.
11. You’re already running late but have on a completely bare face. Do you take an extra 5-10 (or even 15…:P) minutes to throw on just a little bit of makeup or do you go as is?
Not even a little.  If I'm late, I'm running out the door, stopping only to brush my teeth (because if I don't, my entire day is legitimately ruined).  The only other thing I might stop for is a face oil!

This was such a fun (yet oddly difficult) tag to do!  I'm going to recycle a few of the questions I loved answering.  I tag Christine B. from Little Red Bow, Evelyn from We Were Raised by Wolves, Esther from In a Nutshell, Alma from Honey Lushy and Jessica from Pixel Bunny!  No pressure though!  
  1. Check your bag.  What lip products do you have in there?
  2. Do you also hate CAPTCHA codes on comments?
  3. Tell me an embarrassing makeup story!  What's one makeup habit that (in hindsight) was so, so wrong for you?
  4. What's the one product/trick/technique that instantly boosts your confidence?
  5. What do your favourite physical feature on yourself why?  How do you enhance it or show it off?
  6. Share: your favourite blog? One that you think deserves more attention?
  7. What was the most recent beauty item you repurchased?
  8. What's worse:  Terrible drawn eyebrows or horribly chipped polish?
  9. Most affordable beauty favourite?  Most expensive beauty favourite?
  10. Any HG products?
  11. Go-to nail colour?
Anyone reading this who feels like answering any of the questions, I'd love to hear them!

my hair

After I did my Batiste review, I got a couple of questions from Becca at The Beauty Sample about my hair.  I figured it'd be fun to do a hair history -- that way, if I review any hair products in the future, you'll always have this to come back to.

My hair history begins with a very typical, toddler bowl cut.  Unlike most parents who decide on this cut, my parents decided to bring me to a salon and have someone inflict it on me.  If I had any of the baby pictures, I would show you's probably better that I don't.

I'm going to skip over the first decade and  half of my life where I remained under a regime of regular bowl cut oppression, and into a time after puberty when my hair grew out.  I didn't do much with my hair in high school -- I didn't even own a hair straightener!  I pulled my hair back in a pony tail every day and went about my nerdy way.

Then it happened -- I got a perm.  Before you ask, here's how it happened.  I was going to a wedding in Hong Kong, and my cousin suggested we get blowouts.  The hairstylist gave me a few waves with a curling iron and I thought...wouldn't it be great if I woke up and my hair looked like this?

You should know that nothing in life is that easy.  In fact, I'm sure most people know that, it just took me two perms to figure out.  Yes, two.  Back-to-back, no less.

The perm wasn't as bad as the word "perm" conjures -- here's a photo for your viewing pleasure.  The issue was that my hair came out completely fried and damaged, from root to tip.  That is, despite my efforts at deep conditioning, I had to wait until the entire length of my hair -- root to tip-- grew out before it would stop feeling like hay.  The first night I laid down after straightening my hair post-perm, it literally felt like I was sleeping on horsehair.

It was Halloween. Not that I didn't wear fairy wings all the time, under my clothes.

Now my hair is pretty routinely subjected to heat-styling -- I'd say I style twice a month, maybe more in the summer.  In the video you can see my hair colour, texture and length.  I've never dabbled in hair colour, and I hope I won't have to for a few more years (though I do have more than a few greys peeking out).  As for my cut, I've had the same hairstylist since I was five.  I've grown to stop resenting him for the Bowl Cut Era, because he does a fantastic job now. He is also responsible for all of Tod's crazy haircuts that I choose for her.  Check out her Arizona Muse-inspired cut here and her asymmetrical cut here.

Check out the video for all the products I use to keep my hair it does in the video.  The Youtube info box will also have a full list of products!

100 Point Perk

I (and I'm sure everyone who's reading this) recently got an email from Sephora about a few of their new 100-point perks.  It was exciting because Sephora Canada's perks can be pretty hit or miss. I've seen some fantastic perk packs in the States, but the ones up here are kind of lacking.   What do you mean you're not a Sephora Beauty Insider?  Get thee to a counter, pronto.

Among other fantastic perks, they are offering a Stila Convertible Colour.  I beelined.  I've heard mixed reviews about this product, so I was excited to try it.  I'm a die-hard fan of the Stila Lip Glazes, but I haven't tried much else from the line.  In case there are a few of you who adore these or are curious about trying them, I wanted to get a first impression out so you can grab them before they disappear!

This is a cream product meant for cheeks and lips.  The texture is fairly emollient; on the cheeks it dries down to a slightly tacky finish which could be remedied with a little powder (or just left alone if you want a more natural finish), and on lips, it feels exactly like cream lipsticks have always felt -- none of this newfangled (old person talking) balm-texture that's been going on lately.  I can see why some people find it drying, but so far it hasn't made my lips flake at all.

The colour they're giving away is Peony, and I knew right away it was right up my alley.  So up my alley that I immediately felt the need to compare it to a few other products in my collection.  It's a pink-brown that looks red-based on the skin, so it mimics a flush very well.  In certain lights, I can see a hint of peach creaminess, but it doesn't show up that well on me.  It would pull peachier on a cooler skin.  This colour is so up my alley that I've included comparison swatches -- of the four, it is the most neutral.  Make Up For Ever HD #8 is a close match, but with a little more red in its base. Tarte Matte Lipsurgence in Exposed is much darker and browner, and Fusion SculptDiva in Haute is nowhere close, being a brighter, blue-based pink.  Are these product names just getting longer and longer?

Normally these retail $33 for 0.15 oz (4.3 g), and the 100-point perk size is about half, at 0.17 oz (2.2g).  Would I repurchase this?  Right now, I'm glad I didn't, just because I have so many blushes that I love and have yet to use.  But for (essentially) free?  You know I love anything travel-size.

Phalange Decoration

I don't wear a lot of jewelry, and if I do, I almost never post about it.  That said, I've been switching rather regularly through these pieces the past couple of months, so I thought I'd share!

First up, my Single Crochet Leather Ring from Dylanium Knits.  Dylan Uscher is a Toronto knit designer who has worked with several fashion elite in Canada.  I went to a bazaar where he was doing a rare sale of his pieces, and managed to snag one of these.  These come in several sizes and widths -- it's recommended that you buy one that feels snug, as they'll loosen with some wear.  He also makes studded and wool versions! It gives my uniform (a white button down, jeans and Keds) the slight bit of edge that it needs to keep from looking too boring.  Every time I wear it, someone asks me about it.

My puppy ring garners just as many oohs and aahs as my leather ring.  It's made of a heavy bronze (not good for when you need to write or type for an extended period of time), but the weight is oddly satisfying.  Tod has the Golden Retriever version, which has fur etched all over it.  Careful though, these rings are really big!  They don't look that big on Tod or me because we're tall and have giant man-hands.  This I ordered online from Nove25.

This ring was a gift from a friend.  He said he found it on a beach in Caesarea when he was a kid and had kept it ever since.  I was extraordinarily touched when he gave it to me for my most recent birthday.  It's a smooth, matte, turquoise stone in a gold-toned setting.  Due to its proportion, I'm pretty sure it was made for a child, but it fits perfectly onto my pinky for days I want to wear something but nothing.  Does that make sense?  I love a delicate pinky ring, it feels so lady-like without being over-the-top.  One of my favourite pieces I've ever received.

My rings live in a tiny, little bathtub from Umbra.  Tod got it in Vancouver last year and it is the most organized part of my jewelry collection, floating in a sea of tangled necklaces, bangles and chandelier earrings.

Everyday Makeup

Lately I've been in a bit of a makeup rut.  Not in a bad way, more in a I have my routine down-pat type of
 way.  It lies somewhere between lazy winter face and light spring face with its ultra-light, but perfect base, highlight, rosy cheeks and groomed eye.  In fact, if I'm in a massive rush, I'll even skip gloss and brows (and usually mascara, but that's just me).

Also, since some of you have yet to meet Tod in a timely capacity, she is the model for my video.  Tutorials have been few and far between since she moved away (weekends are now usually spent scouting for milkshakes and extra-thin crust pizzas instead of filming), so it was nice to try and get back into the groove.  Also, we went on a bit of a makeup hunt and came back with Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer samples, so we needed an excuse to play with them.

Since this is my first attempt at a voice-over tutorial (how much rambling/awkward pausing can I get into eight minutes if left to my own devices?  Find out.), she ends up talking through the entire video.  At one point (or five) she gets some pretty weird facial posing going.  It's worth a watch just for that.

Hope you enjoy the tutorial and don't forget to subscribe/sound off in the comments!


Every now and then, I find myself going through my old posts for inspiration.  I've been blogging for a while now, and it's given me the opportunity to experiment with my web identity.  I know a lot of you are new to my site, so here are a few throwback posts -- prepare yourselves for terrible picture quality, limited product selection and unfiltered thoughts.

I almost prefer the way I used to write on the blog -- it was much more of an instructable.  You can check out one of my favourite looks I've ever done here.  It was my version of an "editorial" look (in my defense, it seemed wild because it was before everyone got into this bright lip thing) and fully amped up the edge by making my model do a lot of awkward hand positioning.

Speaking of my model, a lot of you have never met her!  I call her Tod.  It's such a strange thought because there was a time when I was afraid of the internet and used her face as my own.  That is, I would pretend to be my roommate so I wouldn't have to share my identity.  It got especially funny when people started recognizing her and asking her for makeup advice.  The best Tod story I have on the blog is one of her horrendous first dates.  I wrote it in first person because I was planning to publish it before I came out.  It's still one of my favourite posts to date.

I recently posted about travel organization, but I don't know that my new readers completely understand how much I love travel containers.  Check out my post here -- all those containers are still valid.  And you're seeing right, I didn't even have regular access to a camera back then.  I do have one addition: I now use those Bath & Body Works anti-bac containers for shampoo, conditioner and body lotion when I travel.  They're easy to decant into and they are just squeezy enough to get all the product out.

While I much prefer the quality of my blog now, I really love some of my older posts.  I'm thinking about republishing them with my own photos and more accurate/applicable advice. What do you think?

Laura Mercier Portfolio for Home and Away

 Pardon the photo overload -- can you tell I'm excited?  This is the Laura Mercier Portfolio for Home and Away that I showed in my last weekend update.  If there is one thing I love more than makeup, it is makeup storage itself.  I first saw this in a Wayne Goss video where he told me it was limited edition and I got so sad because I didn't think I'd ever see it again.  Cut to a week and a half ago when I came across it at Holt Refnrew and nearly shrieked.

This is a travel makeup case measuring 11.5 in x 9 in.  The hard outer shell unzips all the way around to reveal two magnetic covers.  On the first "page" there are two pouches of the same size that stick to the front cover.  With all of these mesh pouches, you can pull them out and use them as makeup bags alone.  The two on the back cover are different sizes -- one looks like it would be TSA compliant, and the other is a skinnier pouch suitable for pencil products.  The entire case is made of plastic which makes it really easy to wipe down with a baby wipe before and after each use.

The middle flap has seven slots for brushes, and here is where my first criticism arises.  There are two slots wide enough for standard face brushes (here I've shown the Cover FX Foundation Brush #160 and the Smashbox Blush Brush #16) but the eye slots are extremely snug.  I tried to fit a MAC 227 in one of them, and there was no way it was happening.  On the back of this flap, there is an elasticized compartment that could hold more brushes, but they might move around given that there's no protective dust cover or stitching to separate it into compartments.

The case also comes with two empty Laura Mercier palettes -- a six-pan and a three-pan.  I've never tried a Laura Mercier colour in my life, but these would be helpful if you'd already amassed a collection.  The mirrors inside these are large and take up the entire lid of the palette.  I've shown them here with a couple of my travel essentials.

Good makeup storage makes me want to make better use of my makeup.  I've never found something I liked for travelling -- if it had a hard shell, there weren't enough compartments and my products would knock into each other.  If it was a soft case, it wasn't protected from my other belongings in my carry-on.  Here, I'm not concerned that any of my products will explode and get all over my clothes, I don't think any of my glass bottles will break or even that my brushes will be crushed.  I'm officially a happy camper.

How do you pack your makeup for travel?

March Favourites

I don't believe I've ever done my favourites post before the month's end before.   Actually, I was going to film my responses to the 11 Questions Tag, but every single thing that could possibly happen to interrupt my five separate filming occasions has happened -- picture fire alarms, battery packs dying, not one, but two full SD cards...I digress.

This month has been a very favourite-y month for me.  Did that make sense?  Probably not.  What I mean is, that for me, favourites usually refer to products that have made more than one appearance within a given month.  These favourites are different because I've used every single one of them at least five times a week (except the nail polish, but only because I don't reapply every day).  That's insane for me.  Not surprisingly, I'm not wearing any of them in the video.  In fact, I'm not wearing a stitch of makeup in the video, because I was so excited about catching the last five minutes of evening light.  You do what you gotta do.

As always, links and products mentioned will be on the Youtube page.  Click through and enjoy!

Other things I've enjoyed this month...
1. Since you all loved my dad's top shelf last month...check out my brother's.
2. The Face.  ANTM with infinitely better sponsors  Anyone see the finale last night?
3. Lemon water.
4. This clip of Jennifer Lawrence talking about her mom.
5. The Wild Oats & Bourbon candle from NEST Fragrances.

Tell me about your March loves!

Clarisonic vs Neutrogena Wave, Re-Evaluated

The most popular post on this blog is my Clarisonic Mia vs Neutrogena Wave post.  I didn't know how popular that post would get -- if I did, I probably would have included my own photos instead of relying on the power of Google Images.

I think it's time that I update my experience with the Clarisonic.  My knowledge of skincare since that time has expanded so much, my skin needs different things, and I now have the power of hindsight.

First off: Don't buy the Neutrogena Wave.  It will do nothing good for your skin. Even when I thought it was exfoliating and helping my moisturiser sink in more, what it was probably doing was tearing up my skin matrix and the moisturiser was bleeding into the gaps.  Horrifying visual.  Throw in the cheap, skin-peeling cleanser they pre-soak the cotton refills with, and you'll spend more money trying to fix your skin afterwards.

The only thing left to consider is whether or not you need a Clarisonic.  I bought the Mia, which I'm fairly certain has gone down in price since I purchased mine.  Refills are $30 a pop in Canada, and you have to replace them every six months if you use it once a day.  And that's where the issues begin.

I first got a Clarisonic to help remedy my vengeful cystic acne.  It was as though bacteria and sebum had decided to band together and have a dirty, four-month-long orgy on my jawline, cheeks and chin.  Before one cyst had shrunk, three more would pop up to see it go -- they started multiplying on top of each other, and effectively changed the shape of my jawline because they were so swollen.

Twice a day, for six weeks, I diligently used the Clarisonic Mia with Lancome Creme Radiance foaming cleanser. In fact, I don't think I've been this careful about my skin before or since then.  After a while, I noticed that the acne started calming down.  Thrilled with the results, I continued with my routine.

Then it happened.  The acne started coming back.  After blaming everything I could -- my diet, my lack of exercise, hormones -- and changing all those things, the acne persisted.  It took me an embarrassing amount of time to realize that since I was using the brush twice a day, the suggested replacement time was effectively halved.  So take note of how often you're using your brush, and don't vibrate the bacteria back into your pores.

After figuring that out and properly maintaining my Clarisonic, I continued on.  I eventually graduated to a different kind of acne -- it wasn't cystic, it was a more human-sized pimple that would still scar.  It also took me an embarrassing amount of time to realize that I was over-exfoliating, and that my skin was producing more oil in order to keep up with its twice-daily foaming torture.  After switching to a gentler cleanser and once a week use, my skin calmed down, and we arrive at my skin today.

I still break out.  And of course, whenever I do, I attack with my Clarisonic and its faithful army of treatments.  But on a regular basis, I almost never use it.  Every once in a while, I'll have been lazy about washing my face or been wearing especially heavy makeup and I'll do a pass with good ole Lancome Creme Radiance just to satisfy my neuroses.  I don't know that I actually need to do that, but I'm a firm believer of the placebo effect.

All in all, you only need one if you have acne, and the problem with your acne is that your skin is clogged and dirty.  Even then, know that this is a one-time fix for your acne -- after it goes away, you won't and shouldn't use it that often anymore.  That said, $139 CAD to rid me of 85% of my skin issues?  I don't regret a thing.

Design by | SweetElectric