Recent Drugstore Hair Favourites

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Haircare has always been a bit of a half-hearted venture for me – I don’t have a ton of issues with my hair and I keep my styling products to an absolute minimum, – I’m not committed to spending a ton of money like I am with skincare, but at the same time I want quality products. The main hair concern I have is dryness, especially at the ends, due to my daily straightening/curling bonanza. Since IĀ  ran out of my ridiculously expensive Macadamia Oil Masque a few months ago, I decided to try something a bit lower on the $$$ scale. I got the Garnier Fructis Damage Eraser on sale in the fall. I believe in Canada it retails for around $6.99, which is a great price. I find it works decently well if left in the hair for a few minutes and then rinsed out. To fill the void of macadamia oil in my life, I also picked up the Organix Hydrating Macadamia Oil Shampoo and Conditioner, which smell wonderful and also hydrate the hair like no other. I’ve spoken about how much I like the Organix range before and this is simply reinforcing my love for the brand. They’re a bit pricier than your average drugstore shampoo/conditioner, but if you can find them on sale (which they are, frequently), then it’s a decent price.

For after-shower treatments, I’ve been trying to find an alternative to my beloved and very favourite Alterna Bamboo Smooth Kendi Oil, which retails for $31 at Sephora here, so I decided to go with the Garnier Fructis Marvelous Oil. There are three varieties; the one pictured above is the Deep Nourish kind for Dry, Damaged Hair. I massage 4-5 pumps of this stuff into my damp hair and it absorbs pretty well. It doesn’t top the Alterna for me, but it’s a lovely drugstore alternative that doesn’t make my hair overly greasy, which is a problem I struggle with when I’m trying hair oils.

The last product I use on a daily basis, thanks to excessive (?) use of my straightening iron is the Tresemme Keratin Smooth Flat Iron Smoothing Spray. Tresemme makes decently priced and high quality heat protectants, and this is another one I received for free at an event – I would definitely repurchase though, as it comes out as a fine mist and does exactly what it says it will do – reduce frizz and lock in shine to make straightened hair look healthy.

What are your favourite hair products, especially for dry, damaged hair?

Setting Spray Showdown

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It’s no secret that us oily-skinned gals have an issue with makeup sliding around, changing colour or not doing quite what it’s supposed to throughout the day. It’s also no secret that due to this oiliness, it’s key to powder at least the t-zone, if not the whole face – so a couple brushes later and cue cake face in 3, 2, …

In come setting sprays to help with both keeping makeup in place and tone down any potential cakiness. I’ve tried a range of them, and with the release of a recent drugstore version, I knew I had to pick one up to see how it compared. As far as I know, setting sprays have mostly been the domain of higher-end makeup brands, although I know NYX does one, but it’s a bit more difficult of a brand to get hold of in Canada (I believe they are only sold at Rexall stores).

The first setting spray I ever tried was the Urban Decay De-Slick Oil Control Makeup Setting Spray, which works great. It really helps makeup last all day, even though makeup doesn’t tend to slide around on me too badly compared to how much oil I produce, although it does turn my face makeup into a kind of layer that rolls off if rubbed. I would suggest that this is better used almost as a primer and sprayed on before makeup. The All-Nighter version for all skin types is also great – it’s slightly less intense, so if I am going to repurchase one of the Urban Decay sprays, I’d probably opt for the latter.

Next is another setting spray that has been on the market for a long time and is well-loved – MAC Prep and Prime Fix+. From the website, it claims to “create and even surface” and “finishes makeup”, though I’ve never used it as a priming spray, I find this one to be really refreshing, but it doesn’t hold my makeup for any longer, nor does it control shine (not that it claims to). I tend to save this one for days when I know I won’t be needing to keep my face painted for too many hours.

The most recent and exciting release is the L’Oreal Infallible Makeup Extender Setting Spray, which I’ve been hearing rave reviews about on YouTube from some Americans. I figured that like all things, it would take forever for the same stuff to appear on shelves in Canada, but I spotted this, along with the rest of the new Infallible line, at my local Shoppers last week, and immediately had to grab one to try. The mist is not as fine as the Urban Decay one, but it works quite well at keeping makeup in place. I think that in the future, I will be repurchasing this one rather than one of the higher end ones. It’s not cheap, I think I paid around $19 for it, but seeing as how us Canadians have to cough up $36 per 4 oz bottle of Urban Decay setting spray, I’d say it’s well worth it.

What are your favourite ways to make your makeup last all day, and what setting sprays would you recommend?

Sephora Brush Love

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When it comes to makeup brushes, I’ve come a long way – from stealing ‘borrowing’ my first Estee Lauder powder brush from my mom’s stash of unused brushes (which was my only brush for years) and only buying cheap brushes that cost ~$10 (big mistake!).

Sephora has quite a large range of products, some of which are hits and others are misses. Their makeup brushes are one of their biggest hits overall, and over the years, I have built up a mini collection, some of which I use on a daily basis. They generally wash well, dry decently quickly, and don’t shed or get dried out with continued washing.

The first is the Pro Airbrush Concealer Brush #57, which I use everyday to blend in concealer under my eyes and sometimes on the rest of my face. It’s small and soft, and dense but not too dense. Next is my newest purchase, the Pro Flawless Light Powder Brush #50, which I actually bought recently to replace my Estee Lauder, which I have been using everyday since about 2009 (!). It’s lovely and soft and doesn’t pick up too much product, which I like. I’m still getting used to it – after using the same powder brush for so long, it’s weird to switch to something new.

One brush that I haven’t quite figured out a use for yet is the Classic Mineral Powder Brush #45 – on the website it says Multitasker Brush, but on the handle of mine it says Mineral, so I’m not sure if they’ve renamed it, but it’s a very dense brush with short bristles, which I assume is for packing on product. I did toy with the idea of using it for powder, but it simply picks up too much product. I would like to try mineral foundation someday, so I am saving it for that, but at this juncture, it’s just sitting and looking pretty.

Another brush I should really be pulling out more is a very simple one – the Angled Liner Brush #22 – I got this one years ago and it seems like they have made a ‘Pro’ version to look the same as the rest of their line, but mine doesn’t match up – I’m sure it does the same thing though. I rarely use pots of gel/cream liner because I’m so lazy, but this one does get busted out every now and then when I want to pop a bit of champagne coloured eyeshadow on the inner third of my lower lash line.

Lastly is a lovely, and multi-use product, the Pro Angled Blush Brush #49. You may or may not have noticed on this blog, but I never ever post about blush – that is because I don’t use it. I own one – only for cases when I feel like a lipstick is washing me out slightly, but really, even for special occasions, I never really use it. I had been looking for a fluffy angled brush to apply bronzer/contour with and I do like using this one along with another one in rotation for that very purpose. On the odd day I decide to bust out some powder highlight, this one also works well. Using the pointy end of the brush is great – since the bristles are long and light, they don’t pick up too much product, making this a great double duty brush – triple if I were to use blush.

One point to make is that they have various collections, and I mostly have face brushes from their Pro collection – would I say they are better quality? Definitely. The bristles are nicer, and everything about them seems more luxe. I would love to add more to my collection, maybe try eye brushes (I have a motley assortment of eye brushes in my collection right now, so probably not for a while), and the Pro Airbrush #55, which I have heard amazing things about.

The price point of Sephora brushes certainly aren’t cheap, but all in all, I’d say these are mid-high range brush, similar in price and quality to MAC, but nothing that crazy. If you invest in nice brushes and take care of them I’d definitely say they are worth the splurge!

What are your favourite Sephora brand brushes, or other makeup brushes? What would you recommend?

Winter Whites

Winter Whites
Winter has recently hit us quite hard, so I thought in honour of the snow outside and -20 temperatures, I’d write up about my favourite white nail polishes. White is not a colour I wear often, sometimes as an accent nail, or in the summer to make a tan look better, but I think it’s also nice to wear it in the wintertime in the spirit of the season.

First up is the Rimmel 60 Seconds Nail Polish in 703 White Hot Love from the Rita Ora collection. This is a white with bits of white micro shimmer, so it’s not completely flat – but it’s got much more dimension than just a plain white. Next is Essie’s Oui Madame, which is a sheer pearly white, and looks good on its own or on top of other polishes. I would imagine this is a nice colour for brides as well. The plainest white, and the kind that works good under bright colours to really make them pop is the Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear Nail Color in 300 White On. I also love the formula of the Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear polishes, so the no chipping is a huge plus. Lastly, I have the Color Institute nail polish (no name), and it’s another sheer polish that has iridescent micro shimmer in it, making it another good pseudo-top coat to jazz up another polish.

What is your go-to white nail polish, and do you wear white nail polish often, or as an accent nail?

Kiehl’s Box of Moisture

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I haven’t a clue what this gift box is actually called. And is it too late to be posting about Christmas gifts? Anyhow, this is one I got very kindly from my boyfriend and I am very excited to try – I have been a fan of Kiehl’s for a while now, slowly adding bits and pieces to my skincare collection when I can. So when I received this I was quite excited, as it is a four-piece set that contains lots of stuff I’ve never used before.

First up is a teeny-weeny sample of the Midnight Recovery Concentrate, which I have already spoken about – awesome for travel size, and the little vial even comes with an eyedropper! Next up is a full-size jar of the Ultra Facial Cream, which I have heard good things about — according to the website, it is their #1 moisturizer. This should come especially handy in the winter time when I need to inject a bit more moisture into my skin. I haven’t tried it on my face yet, but it appears to be a lightweight gel-cream texture, my favourite! Another thing I’m sorely needing in my life right now is a good, sturdy hand cream, so I’m hoping the Ultimate Strength Hand Salve comes to the rescue. I just applied some and it has a nice, zingy scent and doesn’t feel very greasy. Lastly, is a travel size bottle of their famous Creme de Corps, which I have sniffed in stores and wanted to try for ages, but couldn’t be bothered to spend the money, so I’m glad I have some of this in my life now, and it’s a handy size for traveling.

The salesperson also threw a couple samples into the bag, which is always nice – it’s stuff that is targeted towards men, but I have absolutely no qualms about using. First up is the Facial Fuel Energizing Moisturizer, which is meant to help relieve fatigue, and then the Facial Fuel No-Shine Hydrator, which looks like a great option for those of us who suffer from oily skin.

Who knows, I might find some new favourites. What Kiehl’s products are you using and loving, and what would you recommend?

The One-Two Punch of Morning Cleansers

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As I mentioned in a previous post, the last couple of months have been a real battle for me and the legions of blemishes popping up all over my face. I began to randomly get huge cystic acne in places I don’t normally get it – around my nose and on my cheeks (it is usually reserved for my chin). Because I’m obsessed with skincare and like to experiment with products, I was at a bit of a loss as to how to deal with so many blemishes at once. I tried paring down my skincare and using gentle products, but whenever I try that consistently for days, my lazy, clogged up skin never seems to improve. So after a few different combinations and pulling out several different cleansers from my closet, I realized that I needed to get some daily scrub back into my life, but not miss out on any acne-fighting ingredients a cleanser might have, however short a while it would stay on my face.

I’d heard one or two people talking about the Murad Pore Reform Skin Smoothing Polish, and I had been using the Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Cleanser by itself, so I decided to mix a bit of them together to try and give a bit of oomph to both. The result? Combined with other treatment products and masks, this duo has been great in reducing the acne, and makes my skin feel clean and polished, but not overly dry. The Murad is fairly gentle, but scrubby enough that if you applied more pressure, you could get quite an intense polish, and the Juice Beauty cleanser has a light gel texture and smells good too. I definitely would repurchase both products when I’m finished. This is also the first Murad product I have ever tried – I am tempted to try more now…

A note on exfoliation: some people can’t use a manual scrub everyday, but because I have such oily skin, which doesn’t tend to be at all sensitive, I am okay to exfoliate every morning without issue. As long as the product isn’t too harsh or have very large granules, it’s great, but this largely depends on your skin type. I use this scrub/cleanser combo every morning: it just feels wonderful to get all that grime off my face after 8 hours of sleep!

What is your favourite cleanser at the moment, and what products make your skin feel refreshed and awake in the morning?

2014 Flops: Disappointing Products

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The last in my 2014 series is a bit of a more negative post, but we all have products we’ve tried and just hated or couldn’t make work. This is a roundup of some of the biggest disappointments I had product-wise.

For makeup, I had a lot of fails, especially in my quest for the perfect foundation. First, I got a mini of the Urban Decay Naked Skin Beauty Balm with the foundation set, and this absolutely didn’t do a thing. First, the colour is wildly pink (as opposed to the foundation being very yellow), and there is no coverage, so I wasn’t sure what it was supposed to do. Also, I tried The Body Shop All-in-One BB Cream in the shade 2, which starts out white but as you buff the product into your skin it changes colour to adjust to your skin tone. Neat concept, but even applied directly from the tube to my face, it changed to be several shades too dark for me, and it left my face extremely oily. Probably a formula intended for drier skin types. Lastly, the CoverGirl Ready, Set Gorgeous foundation in shade 205 Natural Beige was a huge disappointment mostly because I’d had high expectations thanks to a rave review of this. But I understand that everyone’s skin reacts differently to products, so it didn’t work as well for me as it did for her. I will continue to use it, but it definitely doesn’t control oil the way I wanted.

Underneath my base, I’ve also struggled to find a good primer I like. One I’ve had for a long time and only grudgingly use to try and get my money’s worth is the CoverFX Mattifying Primer with Anti-Acne Treatment. It feels greasy going on, the way a lot of primers feel to me, and it’s supposed to contain 1% salicylic acid to help treat blemishes. Honestly, I’ve never noticed a difference, so after I use this one up, I won’t be repurchasing. The other item I bought is The Body Shop’s Vitamin C Skin Boost, thinking it was a serum, but from its silicone-y texture, it’s clearly meant to be a brightening primer, which I really am not digging.

One of the most disappointing buys for me in 2014 was the Laura Mercier Smooth Focus Pressed Setting Powder – Shine Control, especially due to the price. It’s the first translucent powder I ever bought, but it doesn’t control my apparently uncontrollable oil, and a very light hand is needed, barely touching the brush to the powder, otherwise you’ll end up with a very white, powdery face. The last makeup item, which I won’t go on about since I’ve written about it before, is the Maybelline The Falsies Volum’ Express Waterproof mascara, which smudges all over the place on me within a couple hours – huge disappointment.

Skincare-wise, I am rarely super disappointed with anything because I put in major research into the products I buy, but there are a few I get every now that then that don’t live up to expectations. Firstly, the Nip + Fab Dark Circle Fix, that I’d posted about previously and said it was decent. Recently, I ran out of my Origins eye cream, so I decided to try using the Nip + Fab as a morning eye cream, but I quickly encountered problems when I’d try to apply my concealer and it would go on very lumpy and streaky. Throughout the day, I was getting very dry under my eyes as well, so this definitely is reserved for no-makeup days and I won’t be repurchasing. The next thingĀ  I’m glad I got in a point perk is the Fresh Sugar Lip Polish, which is a major cult favourite, but I definitely think it’s overpriced and the Lush lip scrub is far more effective. It’s very creamy and not exfoliating enough, so if you need to get rid of some major grossness, I’d suggest the Lush, or making your own at home. Lastly, the Juice Beauty Oil-Free Moisturizer is one of the greasiest-feeling creams I have ever tried. It doesn’t absorb into my skin and it feels oily an hour after applying it. While I do enjoy other Juice Beauty products, I will be staying far away from the moisturizer.

What products disappointed you in 2014, and how? How do you decide to spend money on higher end items?