The First Sephora Haul of 2018

The title might sound alarming, but I promise the theme of my little excursion to Sephora was just recovery and replacement. I’ve recently found that both my hair and nails have gotten alarmingly dry and damaged, so it was over to pick up some stuff to help with the situation. The Alterna Bamboo Kendi Oil is my all-time favourite hair oil. I’ve tried so many other brands but nothing seems to work like this guy. It’s not cheap, but one only needs a few drops, and it lasts ages.  I pat a few drops into the ends of my damp hair and when I wake up in the morning my hair feels stronger and smoother – it’s a miracle. The Nails Inc. NailKale Superfood Base Coat seemed to me like a slightly gimmicky product (really? Kale in nail products?), but I’m a fan of the brand overall, so I figured I would give it a go. The nice thing about this is that one coat = base, and two coats = intense treatment. Multi-tasking products are always nice to have around, so I have high hopes for this little bottle.

Two other things I needed were eye-related. I can’t tell you how many shu uemura eyelash curlers I’ve gone through in the past 10 years. I tend to use them way longer than recommended (too expensive otherwise!) but the hinge on my last one was really starting to go, so I picked up another, and man is it wonderful to have a brand new curler. Curling my lashes now takes half the time as before. And last but not least, I needed another liquid liner so I grabbed an oldie but a goodie – the Kat Von D Tattoo Liner in Trooper. This is definitely one of the best eyeliners in the price range and I would highly recommend to anyone, especially liquid liner n00bs who want to practice. The brush tip never gets weird or splayed and each one of these pens lasts me  anywhere between six months and a year.

What were your first Sephora purchases of the year and what would you recommend?


2017 Un-Favourites

2017 was a good year in terms of products bought and tried – not only was I trying not to buy too many unnecessary things, but I think most of the new items I tried worked out really well. Of course there will always be duds and this year there were really just three that disappointed.

I’ve mentioned the CoverFX Perfect Pencil before, and I still haven’t figured out how to use this properly. It is either an overpriced nude eyeliner, or a too-slippery and not very effective concealer. I tried to use it for spot concealing as well as cleaning up around my lips to clean up a line, but it’s not opaque enough for that. If anyone can explain to me how to use this, it would be great, since it wasn’t cheap!

Another odd product is the Tarte Rainforest of the Sea 4-in-1 Setting Mist. I only have a mini, and I had high hopes because I generally enjoy Tarte products. However, I found this setting spray to be quite sticky and never really ‘set’ down, which I hate since I really hate anything that leaves my skin feeling tacky or moist. Of course I probably shouldn’t have been surprised because from what I understand, the Rainforest of the Sea range is really meant for dry skin, so in all honesty it’s probably great for that, but sadly not for me.

The last product I just couldn’t work with is the Body Shop’s Lightening Drops, which are good for the most part; they do lighten foundation without changing the texture or finish, but because they are slightly pink, they are meant to neutralize yellow tones. This is probably a good thing for those of you who don’t have yellow undertones in your skin, but for me it definitely isn’t what I want. I wish they had made a pure white formula and then had a separate pink one instead of combining the two. So this is definitely a very personal choice due to my skin tone but if you lean more on the cool side then this would definitely work for you.

What are your 2017 product regrets?

2017 Makeup Favourites

In contrast to my skincare, my makeup routine changed quite a lot in the past year – I tried a lot of new products that I ended up falling in love with and now can’t imagine living without. To start off with, the Jouer Anti-Blemish Matte Primer was amazing. It’s the first product I have tried from the brand, and it did not disappoint. It fights blemishes but sits really nicely under makeup without feeling too slippy or strange. If it was easier to get a hold of Jouer products in Canada I would definitely repurchase in a heartbeat. My new foundation love this year has to be the Giorgio Armani Power Fabric Foundation; it was a huge splurge, but is totally worth it – it has SPF 25, has a lovely demi-matte finish, and super high-coverage. It also stays all day – I wore it for around 20 hours the day of a friend’s wedding and it held up pretty darn well, with minimum flashback to boot. I wear the shade 4.5.

How can anyone’s makeup favourites not include the fabulous Tarte Shape Tape Concealer? Enough has been said about this concealer – it’s pigmented, blends like a dream, and sets itself under the eyes. What more could you ask for? When I did want to set this, and the rest of my face, I used one powder for most of the year – the Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder. This is a pricey little product, but works amazingly well and lasts forever. I found the best way to apply this was either with a damp beauty sponge or a powder puff to press it into the skin gently. An interesting find for me this year was the NYX Pro Foundation Mixer in the shade White. I’ve written a few times about how I struggle with foundations oxidizing on me or just turning darker, and I have found that this really helps to find the perfect shade for my skin. I mix a little bit in with my foundation and gradually add more as needed – it’s especially good when you’re trying to transition through the seasons and don’t want to buy a whole other bottle of a lighter or darker shade.

For eyes, I have found a new mascara that’s truly waterproof and sticks around all day without smudging or flaking – the Clinique High Impact Waterproof Mascara. It’s quite lengthening and probably not as thickening as I would like, but the fact that it stays on my lashes all day is already a small miracle. It also holds a curl and doesn’t get clumpy or gloopy. Its companion is the Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara, which I love. Even though my bottom lashes are quite short and sparse, applying a bit of this stuff really makes a difference and opens my eyes up a lot more than usual. It also makes application so much easier – regular sized mascara wands are just too messy in that area. The Colourpop Creme Gel Liner is another item I’ve added to my daily routine that I can’t live without. I smudge a bit into the outer half of my lower lash line, which helps define the eyes so much more. It also sticks around all day and the shade Overboard is perfect; it is a metallic brown that isn’t as harsh as a black but still manages to define the lower lash line. Lastly, I have been absolutely loving the Charlotte Tilbury Eyes to Mesmerise in Bette, which is a lovely bronze colour. As a cream eyeshadow addict, the texture of this shadow is completely different to any other one I own – it’s a light whipped mousse that can be used as a light wash of colour, or built up to be more intense. Even though it’s metallic it can be blended into the crease for some subtle definition, or smudged into the lash line for a more intense look. I really enjoy this and it is totally worth the expensive price tag.

What were your favourite makeup items of 2017 and what would you recommend?

2017 Skincare Favourites

Happy 2018 everyone! I know it’s been quiet here the last couple of months but it’s been super busy with traveling and holidays and such, so I’m back now with my usual rundowns of my favourite products of the past twelve months.

I think in the past couple of years I’ve more or less figured out what works for me and what my skin likes, so there are repeat products here, but at the end of the day that is basically just a testament to how good the products have been. One product I’ve blogged about nonstop has been the Bosia Clear Complexion Treatment – I slather it on in the morning and it is amazing. I haven’t been able to find anything as good in a similar price range, and I simply can’t do without. Another love is the Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm. This stuff is magic for oily skin – it removes makeup gently and effectively without leaving any weird residue or scent behind, and as an extra plus, no cotton pads are required to make this work. The Ole Henriksen Invigorating Night Transformation Gel is another repurchase; I bought the jumbo bottle in the fall and use it every night. It really helps with blemishes and evening out skin tone, so I think my day and night treatments are really set for the foreseeable future.

One of my newer discoveries this year and absolute loves have been the Belif Witch Hazel Extract Toner, which I use every morning. It combats blemishes and moisturizes, which is a combination that basically defined my skincare routine in 2017. It’s got a bit of a thicker consistency, so I don’t even bother with a cotton pad to apply, I just dump a bit into my hand and pat onto the face. It’s not cheap but at this rate it is going to last me absolute ages.

Another love is the Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser. I’m getting down to the dregs of it now, but I used it faithfully every morning for the majority of 2017 and really enjoyed the gentle exfoliating effect it has. The bottle is also huge and lasts ages. I will definitely repurchase in the future and recommend pretty much all the Murad cleansers.

My last favourite is a bit of a cheat because I didn’t start using it until the fall, but I can 100% say it is responsible for my lack of dry patches this winter, which is a first in my life. The Ordinary’s 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil is really great; it helps to brighten the skin and to moisturize, without being too rich or greasy for my skin. I add 1-2 drops to my regular moisturizer every night and it works wonders. The best part is that it only costs $10 and there is a Deciem store close to where I work. As an added bonus, it seems they’re now carrying The Ordinary on Sephora. Woohoo!

What were your 2017 skincare favourites and what are you excited to be using going into the new year?

Sephora VIB Sale Haul

Yup, it’s that time of year again, the eagerly anticipated Sephora 20% sale for their beauty insiders. As in past years, I’ve not bought anything overly exciting – I had been waiting for ages for this sale since I had slowly begun to run out of a bunch of skincare items. In the end, I only really bought four things – my usual Laneige Water Sleeping Mask, Boscia Clear Complexion Treatment, a jumbo holiday-sized Ole Henriksen Invigorating Night Transformation Gel, and a new product I’ve never tried, the Herbivore Brighten Pineapple Enzyme + Gemstone Instant Glow Mask. The first three I was in dire need of and are repurchases. I’ve tried another Herbivore mask before and really liked it so I figured it was worth trying another. I haven’t used it yet but will report back!

I also got a bunch of samples and used some points for minis. The first is the NEST Black Tulip rollerball, which I’ve sniffed in store a few times but never actually bought. I find the NEST family of fragrances to actually be quite up my alley, so I’m taking baby steps seeing as how I am such a perfume n00b. I don’t know how to explain how it smells but it’s quite dark and sensual while still being sweet. I’m also quite excited to try the Sunday Riley CEO antioxidant Protect + Repair Moisturizer. Sunday Riley products are quite good, but so expensive that I like to try samples before I buy anything. My 500 point redemption was a set of Murad products from their Essential-C line. Over the years I’ve found Murad products to be hit or miss so I always like to try their minis, plus they’re awesome for travel. A couple other samples I got that are good for travel are the Bumble & Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil and the Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream. The latter is quite an expensive full-sized product and I’ve never tried anything from the brand (though I’ve only heard good things!), so I’m excited to see what the texture is like.

What did you pick up from the sale and what goodies are you looking forward to trying?

Compare and Contrast x 2

It’s been a while since a posted..! Sorry for the long delay but I’ve been really busy with work and traveling and whatnot, so I’m back with a sort of double mini review post.

I’ve spoken before about the beautyblender and how much I think it’s a great tool for applying foundation/concealer, and sometimes even powder. I had never tried any other sponges before, so a couple months ago, picked up a couple of the RealTechniques Miracle Complexion Sponges, which are about a third of the price of a beautyblender. Everyone seems to have good things to say about the RealTechniques sponge, so I figured, if I could find a cheap dupe, then why not? I’ve been using both sponges the past month and have come to the conclusion that the beautyblender is actually just better. I don’t know if that justifies the enormous price tag, but I can use a beautyblender sponge for around 6 months (this is with 5 days a week use) before it starts to fall apart from daily washing and use. By contrast, the RealTechniques sponge started to crack and lose pieces after only a few weeks of use – this is definitely the biggest difference between the two sponges, and I use the same method of cleaning for both. There’s also no denying the original beautyblender is so much softer than its cheaper counterpart. I found that while makeup application is similar, if I used the flat part of the RealTechniques sponge to apply my foundation, the abrupt edge would sometimes make lines all over my face, which was annoying and I’d have to use the round bit to smooth out. Going forward, I think I would still prefer to buy the beautyblender, since it lasts about 6 times as long.

Another product I’ve been using faithfully for the past year is the Benefit Gimme Brow Volumizing Fibre Gel. I love this stuff – having tried a number of other brow gels that weren’t as good (the only comparably good one is the one from L’Oreal). First off, there are five different shades of this product, which is kind of amazing selection for a brow gel. I use the shade 5, which is a super dark, cool-toned brown,which is perfect for me. It applies really great with the tiny brush and dries down without feeling crunchy or weird. Also, because it has fibres, it adds volume to the brows in a pretty natural way. I don’t have overly sparse brows but they could definitely use some beefing up, so tinted gel is the only product I use for my brows.
A little while ago, I was in the US and one of my favourite things to do there is to browse the drugstores because there are definitely a bunch of items that I can’t get up here. I picked up the Soap & Glory Archery Volu-Boost Brow Fibre Gel, which I think is clearly a knock-off product of the Gimme Brow, but it’s only $12 USD, which is half the price. I picked up the shade Talk of the Brown, which is a medium, warm brown. Once it’s brushed through the brows it doesn’t come off as warm as it appears, and it dries down nicely as well. Overall I would recommend the Soap & Glory offering if you’re on a budget – it’s definitely worth it if you can get your hands on it where you live.

Have you tried any of these products and what is your favourite beauty sponge or brow gel?

*On a safety note, it appears Benefit has recently recalled Gimme Brow due to a few batches not being up to par. Please be careful if you’re thinking about purchasing this product!

Fall Comes to The Body Shop

The Body Shop has long been a staple of my body and skincare routine – over the years they haven’t really switched up their lineup a whole lot, except to add the occasional fragrance here and there, and of course every year they release similar versions of their holiday scents. This year however, they’ve released a fall scent that I simply couldn’t resist picking up – Vanilla Pumpkin. If you know anything about me, I am absolutely obsessed with pumpkin anything: face masks, body washes, scrubs, candles and any sort of pumpkin food item, and this is no exception.

I only picked up the body wash and body butter but they also released a hand cream and fragrance mist as well. If you’ve ever used The Body Shop bath products these have the same creamy, rich texture, and I especially like to use the body butters as the weather turns colder and we head into fall. The scent leans quite strong on the vanilla but the pumpkin is definitely present. While I would prefer it to be more spicy rather than sweet, I will definitely be enjoying using these for the next couple of months. The Vanilla Pumpkin line will be out until around Christmas.

Have you tried this line and what is your favourite scent/product from The Body Shop?