The ELF Haul and Mini Reviews


E.L.F. is not a brand I have tried too many products from – it’s difficult to get my hands on in Canada, with the exception of the website. While I’ve made an order from the site before, I’ve never really tried any of their actual makeup products, so a couple weeks ago, I decided it was high time to make it happen.

I’ve been able to try the products at least once and I have to say that I’m decently impressed, for the price point, the quality is really comparable to a lot of much more expensive products. I decided to go for a bunch of eye products, including three of the Smudge Pots, in Back to Basics, Wine Not and Ocean Bound. Cream eyeshadows are a huge weakness of mine, so I knew I had to try the ELF ones. What sucked me in was the fact that they are marketed to be used not only as eyeshadows but as eyeliners as well. Taking that cue, I decided to take a leap and go for the deep shimmery blue, which I am planning to use exclusively as an eyeliner. I tried it out once and it is a really lovely colour for eyeliner – I’d need to use a primer underneath, however, as it smudged a tiny bit under the eyes. Back to Basics is a neutral gold colour that leans a bit more yellow than anything else I have, and works really nicely for everyday wear. I decided to pick up Wine Not to be used both as shadow and liner, and so far it’s a really lovely colour that works well smudged into the lower lash line as well (I rarely put anything too dramatic under there for fear of panda eyes).

Next, I was really pleased to see that they had brought out a few eyeshadow palettes in the vein of more expensive brands, but these ones only cost $10 USD apiece, which works out to $1 per shade! I opted for the Mad for Mattes palette, which has a great range of colours – light, dark, warm and cool. I chose this one instead of the more neutral one since I feel like I lack a lot of medium transition shades/crease colours, and this really does have some great shades – I’ve been using the first six quite a bit and they have decent payoff with all-day lasting power. The only downside I will say is that the powder products appear to have quite a bit of fallout and it’s difficult to keep the powder from venturing into other shades, so it does take a bit of delicacy to pick up the right amount of colour without contaminating its neighbours. This powderiness is the same in the contour palette, which I have been trying out for the last couple of days. I think the shade selection is quite good on the cool contour shade and the warmer bronzer, as well as the yellow highlight powder. I’m not the biggest fan of the white shimmery highlight shade, but it’s pretty subtle, so if a light hand is used, it can work on a lot of different people.

I feel like one person can never have enough fluffy eye blender brushes, so I thought that instead of spending $20+ on another one, I’d try the $3 Studio Crease Brush, which is much smaller than my other blender brushes, and is great for more precise application. If I ever make another order, I will definitely be picking up a few more of these!

The last product I bought and have yet to trial long-term is the Studio Matte Lip Color in Wine, which is a dark plummy colour that will be great for the cooler months. I did apply it briefly just to see what the colour looked like on, and I love that it’s different from the other dark shades I own. It goes on quite smoothly, but I have yet to test its longevity.

Overall I’m quite pleased with this haul and amazed by how much you can get for such a good price. What are your favourite E.L.F. products and what would you recommend?


Battle of the Drugstore Brow Gels

I’m quite the latecomer when it comes to grooming my brows. I’ve never had them professionally done, mostly because I hate paying for things I can do myself (no, I don’t have perfect brows, and tweezers don’t always cut it, unfortunately), and because generally speaking, my brows are fairly low maintenance. They’re not overly sparse or thick, and they have a decent natural shape, but I definitely need to go in with tweezers and brow razors every so often. Also, the thought of sitting there with a pencil or powders/angled brushes and then a clear brow gel seemed like it would take up ages in the morning. Therefore, it’s kind of been the last item on my makeup radar.

But recently, with the spate of tinted brow gels hitting the market, I thought it’d be an easy way to fill in some of the sparser bits with a couple swipes without having all the fuss of a full brow routine. I believe the first one that I saw was the Benefit one, which I would still like to try, but somehow can’t find the wherewithal to spend $30 on such a small amount of product. So I decided to bide my time, and sure enough, a ton of drugstore imitations flooded the market. The first one I was able to get my hands on in Canada was the Maybelline Brow Drama Sculpting Brow Mascara, which I have in the shade Soft Brown, the third darkest (out of four) shades. I’ve been using this for a while, and it’s a bit of a perplexing product. The colour is good, it’s a medium ashy brown, which meshes well with my naturally black brow hairs (my natural hair colour is a dark reddish brown), but the brush is inexplicable to me. It starts out as a regular mascara wand, and then has a big bobble on the end, which is difficult to use on the tail part of the brow. I’ve made it work so far by just wiping away any excess product that gets on my skin, but that’s the one thing I would like to be different.

The next product that was released a bit later is the L’Oreal Brow Stylist Plumper Brow Gel Mascara, which I have in the shade 380 Medium to Dark. This one is a tad darker than the Maybelline and has a tiny wand which works great for combing through brows, especially since mine are not thick.

Lastly, and the most recent discovery of mine, is the Rimmel Brow This Way Brow Styling Gel, in 002 Medium Brown. This colour is vastly different from the others – much warmer, like a chocolate brown. The brush is also a larger version of the L’Oreal one, which can get a bit messy sometimes.

In terms of staying power and crispiness, all three are pretty good – they hold brow hairs in place all day without any weirdness or crunch to them. The only thing I’d really say is that there isn’t much colour selection if you require a vastly different colour than brown or blonde. They’re all awesome for a really low-maintenance brow routine, but I’d recommend the L’Oreal as the standout product in the drugstore if you are looking for something like this.

What brow gels have you tried out and what did you think? What would you recommend?

A Rant and a Rave

I don’t rave about very many products. I find that with the plethora of beauty items available on the market I find very few I absolutely cannot live without, or maybe there’s just so many I haven’t gotten around to trying them yet! Recently, I’ve been trying out a couple of new things and thought it was time to share my thoughts about them.

Let’s start with the good – it’s been well-documented how oily and smudgy my eyelids are. Regular eyeliner and mascara go the way of breakfast as far as my eyes are concerned, and in a couple hours, I’m pretty much a part of the panda family. So when I discovered mascara top coats as a concept, I was dying to try one out. Sephora offers two that I could find and I decided to start with the BareMinerals Locked & Coated Waterproof Lash Topcoat. So far I have tried it on top of two different mascaras that I know smudge on me and.. it works! It works amazingly well. The only issue is that it’s hard to put the top coat exactly where you applied mascara, but if you can cover it all, it does what it says on the tin, and helps to hold a curl. This was super exciting for me, since it practically opens a whole new world of possibilities for mascara purchases now – things that I was never able to buy before I might not be so shy about since I have a smudge-proof coat I can put on top. I recommend this for anyone who suffers from smudgy mascara like I do!

The next new item is a bit of a recent cult obsession on the internet, so I knew I had to get my hands on it. But how to justify the horrific price tag? Sunday Riley Luna Night Sleeping Oil has pretty much taken the beauty world by storm and in Canada, it retails for $131, for a 1 oz bottle. Pretty ridiculously steep. One day a few weeks ago, I was browsing the Sephora website as usual, and found they were offering a mini size as a beauty deal, so I immediately made an order to get the sample, which, when it came, I discovered was surprisingly large. You get 7 ml, which is just shy of 25% of the full-sized product. I was really pleased, since it’s much better to be able to trial the product before splashing out a ton of money and potentially hating it. I’ve been using it every night for the past 10 days, and I’m not entirely sure it has done anything positive. It claims to smooth fine lines, shrink pores, and improve the appearance of skin. While I know it can take a while before any results appear, and none of the above claims have happened so far, I did get the worst breakout of acne on my chin that I’ve had in a long while a couple days after I started using it. Coincidence? It could be, but after that I began to mix one or two drops into my nighttime moisturizer instead of just using it on its own. The patch of breakouts has started to get a bit better, so I will persist with using this to see how it goes. Since you only need a couple drops a night, this bottle will last me ages! While this isn’t really a rant, I’m just generally disappointed after the hype surrounding the bottle, and its hefty price tag. Spending that kind of money, I’d expect miracles to happen, and they didn’t. It could be that my skin type is just not super receptive to oils or retinols (I’m a retinol n00b, other than spot treating with Retin-A a couple times – that dried my skin out like nothing else I’ve ever used), but I will keep you updated just in case there are miracles coming further down the line.

Have you tried either of these products, and what did you think?

IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream SPF 50

I have to admit, I’m not immune to hype. And one product that has really made the hype-rounds recently is the IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream SPF 50 – there are myriad benefits and claims. Sun protection, non-heavy coverage, a natural finish, etc. It Cosmetics is an American brand that right now is very difficult to get a hold of in Canada. You can pretty much only buy it online, for a cool $38 USD. Any Canadian right now is feeling the pinch of the exchange rate (that price converts to $50 CAD today) so I was definitely holding off on buying it. Not to mention, I wouldn’t be able to swatch it, so I wasn’t sure which shade to go for.

When sent out an email inquiring if I would like to receive a deluxe sample of the stuff for free, I thought, hell, why not? Even better if I get the chance to trial it instead of buying the full-sized product and hating it. I decided on the shade Medium, since I had just gotten quite the tan, and a few days later, this cute 0.135 oz tube arrived in the mail, complete with a box and fancy black pouch. I’ve been trialling it on and off, mostly on the weekends when I have the freedom to try new things without worrying if my face will melt off halfway through the workday. I’ve applied it with my fingers, with a buffing brush, and most recently, with a beautyblender, and I’ve used a variety of primers underneath.

My thoughts? Overall, I think it’s alright. Coverage is quite good for a “CC Cream” and the colour blends quite nicely into the skin. It also smells fantastic, like lemons. However, I did find that I didn’t like the way it looked with a brush or fingers, as the texture of it didn’t ever seem to mesh with my skin properly. It also felt tacky throughout the day, even after powdering, and with the discovery of the L’Oreal Infallible foundation, nothing else seems to live up to it, especially given the high price tag on this one. Also, with my oily skin, I definitely felt greasy throughout the day and had to blot. The beautyblender gives the best application by far, for me, since it stops it from feeling sticky. Since the shade match is quite good for my skin right now, it really does help to blend well both colour-wise and texture-wise. Would I splash out for the full-sized product? No. I’ll continue to use and play with the product until it’s finished, but for me there are other things on the market that are better. This might be somewhat of a negative review, but to be completely honest I don’t think that for my particular skin type there are any special benefits to it other than the superb colour match.

I’m definitely interested in trying more from IT Cosmetics, but not sure what I’d like to try yet.

Have you tried this product and what did you think? What would you recommend from the line?

The Daily Eye

As you may or may not know, I’ve been trying to make more of an effort on the daily to wear some of the loads and loads of eyeshadow I have sitting around on my desk. For the past year or two it’s been easy to convince myself that I’ve been making use of my stash since I tend to just go for a quick swipe of cream shadow most days and instantly move onto eyeliner and the like. Last fall I decided it would be a good idea to at least incorporate one powder shadow since I have so many (four neutral palettes and counting!!) that I never really use. So it’s been on-and-off, and a bit of experimentation here and there since. But the last few months, I discovered the perfect summer eye that could really work year-round (let’s face it – how many gold/brown/taupe looks are season-specific?), and I will probably be wearing into the fall months because I’m so obsessed with it.

The star of the show is the Nudestix Magnetic Eye Color in Gilt, which is a lovely gold cream shadow that I hauled back in March. The colour is not too yellow and not too coppery, but a perfect neutral gold that isn’t too different from my natural skin tone and really makes the eyes pop. A couple of swipes across the lid and it stays put all day long. Any time I’m on the clock I do prefer to start with a cream shadow since that cuts out the primer step, which would be essential if I was only using powders. The texture is very creamy and easy to apply. It practically blends itself in and isn’t too obvious or disco-like for work. If I’m feeling like I have extra time or fancy, I grab a fluffy blender brush and my Too Faced Natural Eyes Palette and mix a bit of Nudie and Cashmere Bunny together into my crease. Voila, a pulled together shadow look that basically takes one minute. And while I’m barely making a dent in my eyeshadow collection, at least I’m trying..!

After that, I curl my stick-straight lashes with the Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler (just bought a new one!) and go in with whatever liquid liner I happen to be into, which currently, is the Kat Von D Tattoo Liner, and then follow up with a coat of Marc Jacobs mascara.

If you’re looking for a quick but professional eye look to do everyday, I would definitely suggest some combination of the above steps. I do think that of all the palettes I own, the Too Faced one is the most flattering for my skin tone, and could work for tons of other people as well, especially in an office setting. I also think that for any gals with oily eyelids, start with a cream eyeshadow! It helps so much. I have the type of eyelids that eat regular eyeliner and mascara for breakfast and then leave black smudges everywhere, and all of the cream shadows I’ve ever tried, from drugstore to high-end, have done the trick. No creasing, no worrying about applying a primer, and they really do work well on their own – no blending or crease-defining required.

What has been your daily eye makeup routine lately, and what products would you recommend for everyday looks?

Buy, Try and Review #2

With summer winding down (although the hot weather might say otherwise!), I thought it’d be a good opportunity to post my second round of mini reviews of the stuff I’ve been able to test out recently. There’s been quite the range of products to try out and I’ve found some real gems that will definitely become staples in my beauty routine.

Macadamia Natural Oil Flawless Cleansing Conditioner
Let’s start with the best, shall we? I’ve really liked cleansing conditioners since I tried the Herbal Essences one that for some reason is unavailable for purchase in stores here in Canada. The only ones I know of are the really high-end ones you can buy at Sephora or, this one right here. In another Winners score, I managed to snag two bottles, which they were selling for $16.99 (retails for $33.00 normally), which in my opinion is still expensive for a hair cleansing product, but I was so curious about it I had to try it. In a word, it’s awesome. It is a bit of a strange texture, and obviously doesn’t lather since a conditioner, so it’s difficult to work into the hair, but once it’s rinsed out, it made my hair feel amazing – clean, soft and not stripped. I would buy this again if I could find it discounted.

Make Up For Ever Step 1 Skin Equalizer Mattifying Primer
I picked up a mini of this in the travel-sized aisle at Sephora and have been testing it out under several different bases after hearing rave reviews about it online. The texture is lovely, like a matte gel that does not feel like silicone at all (a huge plus!), and it instantly makes skin feel less oily and sticky. In terms of performance throughout the day, I don’t necessarily think that this primer has worked any miracles for me. To me, the oiliness of my skin really depends on the foundation I use rather than any primer I’ve been able to hunt down so far. When this runs out, I don’t think I’ll be going to repurchase the full sized product, but it probably works great for some people. I’m glad they brought out the mini version so you don’t have to splurge on the full-size product.

Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage in SC-3
This is a concealer palette I’ve been wanting to try for ages. I like the idea of having a couple different colours to mix together to get the perfect shade – especially handy for when my skin gets more tan/lighter throughout the year. The lighter shade works perfect for my cheeks, while the darker shade can be used on the rest of my face. Recently, I’ve gotten a lot more sun so this is a bit too ashy for me, but as it gets colder and I lose my tan, this will work a treat for “no makeup days” when I can just spot conceal with this and be done.

Jack Black Moisture Therapy Lip Balm SPF25 in Lemon
After I ran out of my usual lip balm, I was searching for a replacement and decided to try this one as I think it is a favourite of Temptalia’s – she does tons of lip swatches so I figure if her lips are in tip top shape, this has got to be a great product. It comes in a few different flavours and I settled on the lemon flavour, which is amazing. It smells like a sweet and tangy lemon dessert…yum. And it’s not too overpowering, since I’m not usually a fan of scented lip products. It’s also got a great texture – halfway between slippy and thick, neither of which I like. It also lasts all night and is still there in the morning. This could definitely be a new favourite and I’m excited to try the different flavours.

Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Exfoliating Facial Pads
Everyone and their mother has been obsessed with the First Aid Beauty facial pads and I’ve tried both kinds – the exfoliating and the acne-treating ones, and honestly, I didn’t notice that much of a difference; in fact, I’m pretty sure the acne-treating ones actually broke me out. I’ve been eyeing these up for a while and finally decided to buy them for use after my post-work shower – I don’t tend to do a full skincare routine after that – just a swipe of one of these pads and bit of moisturizer and I’m good to go. I save the drawn-out routine for just before bed. So far I haven’t noticed a massive different in these either, but they haven’t done anything bad to my skin, so I probably won’t repurchase, but I’ll continue to use them until they’re gone. Nip + Fab is not a brand I’ve tried a ton of things from, so it was good to try something from a brand that is quite a fixture at the drugstores here.

Sally Hansen Cuticle Rehab
I’m always looking for something to help the state of the skin around my nails – they’re always dry and cracking, so I thought I’d give this gel/oil formula a go.  I squeeze a little bit out on the brush and then rub it into my fingertips and let it sit for 20-30 minutes, after which I wash it off, and it has stopped a bit of the cracking. So far it hasn’t worked any miracles but I will persist in using it after I paint my nails.

What new products have you tried recently and what should I try next?

The Best Multitasking Brush Ever?

Sephora brushes are some of my favourites, and I use them everyday, but they are pretty expensive to keep buying. I had mentioned before that I would absolutely love to try the foundation brush from the Pro range, which would complete my collection of Sephora face brushes, for the most part, but I was always put off by the $42 price, which is significantly more than my current everyday foundation brush (Real Techniques Buffing Brush). Recently, I was in the store browsing and I noticed that they had brought out a couple of mini versions of their popular brushes, including the #55, which sells for $30 CAD, still expensive, but much more palatable for me.

Beauty bloggers around the internet have been raving about the full-sized brush and I can completely see why. I got the PRO Mini Airbrush #55.5 in an online order a couple days ago and have been loving it. The interesting thing is that because the bristles are longer and less dense than what I’m used to, it gives a really lovely light and even application of product. I have also been using it to stipple in concealer, powder all over the face and apply bronzer (in that order), and it works beautifully for all of the above. So not only is this is a great brush for travel because it’s small, but because it can be used for everything! I can definitely say I’m in love and really happy that I held off on buying the full size brush. If you’re looking for a good foundation / all-in-one brush, I would highly recommend this one.

Have you tried the 55.5 and/or 55 and what did you think?