The Drugstore Concealer Experiment

I’m no stranger to drugstore concealers. It’s just that in the last few years, it seems that all I’ve been using is stuff from Sephora – easy to get sucked into the pretty packaging and online hype. You may remember that I’m trying to cut down on unnecessary makeup spending in 2016, and as part of that, I’m trying to replace any high-end products with their drugstore counterparts.

I’ve tried the Maybelline Fit Me Concealer before, which I do like, but always seems to be sold out at every drugstore I visit. I did try to get my hands on the ‘Light’ shade, but to no avail, in the past 4 months or so. Sadface. The story with my concealer situation is a bit weird – I use two different shades of concealer around my face for hiding acne scars and other fun things, because my cheeks are much lighter than my t-zone. This wouldn’t normally be a problem if I use foundation to even everything out, but on some days, I just really don’t feel like whacking on a full face, you know? So I prefer to just slap on a bit of concealer where needed, and finish with powder. For this, I always need to keep a lighter shade for my cheeks – with the NARS concealers, I used Custard on the cheeks and Ginger on the centre of my face.

Since I’ve run out of my NARS, which were a tad on the orange side for me anyway, I’ve been struggling to replace them, and the first stop I made was the Revlon section of the makeup aisle, where I picked up the Colorstay Concealer in 03 Light Medium. It must have been my lucky day or something, because this colour is actually quite a good match for me. It has a light texture, and my only gripe is that I wish it was a bit more pigmented. I tend to have to layer it up to conceal some of the more stubborn spots on my face.

Under the eyes, I have actually been foregoing concealer for the most part, just applying a peachy corrector first and then going over the area with foundation. But when I really want to brighten those puppies up, I’ve been reaching for the Maybelline DreamLumi Touch Highlighting Concealer in Nude, which I paint on in a triangle shape and blend in with my BeautyBlender.

What are your favourite drugstore concealers, and what should I try next?


The Mini Makeup Purge and New Year’s Beauty Resolutions

In the spirit of entering the new year with a fresh start and outlook on life, including my beauty routine and purchasing habits (cough), I thought I’d enumerate a few things I will hopefully be sticking to faithfully into the new year.

1) Purge. It’s ridiculous how much stuff seems to accumulate, especially in my beauty drawers. Why do I have eight red lipsticks? Why do I hold onto a foundation I never use? What’s the point in having expired products lying around? I’ve seen a lot of makeup collection declutter videos on YouTube this year, and while my collection is nowhere near as large as some people who do beauty for a living, I thought it was high time that I had to get rid of some products, which are pictured above, many of which have separated and are looking/smelling pretty icky. I hope to continue doing this every few months so that I don’t have any expired products or things I won’t use lying around.

2) Use things up. It’s difficult to use up an entire product, especially when you have a few on the go and whatnot. I’ve resolved not to start using anything new unless I’ve used up a like product – one bronzer only, etc. Also, it’s so satisfying to use something up completely!

3) One in, one out. By this I mean, no moreĀ  buying things. I have a good friend who went on a fiscal fast in 2015, which meant no buying makeup/skincare/clothing/accessories unless something was finished and really needed to be replaced, I was inspired by her. It’s easy to get sucked into the advertising and constant pressure of buying things, and I’ll admit, I love having the choice. But do I really need 3 mascaras open at once? How about six eyeshadow palettes? Five gold cream eyeshadows? Unbelievable. I’ve gotten to the point where I have enough makeup to last a good while, so I really don’t need to buy anything unless I run out. For example, I only have one liquid eyeliner on the go that I use daily. I’ll replace that, but outside of that, I will be trying very hard not to buy multiples of anything I already have in any given category.

What are your beauty goals for 2016?

The New Year’s Detox

There is nothing like a good, food and alcohol-filled holiday season, I will be the first to say. However, after all the eating and drinking and partying like it’s 1999, my skin tends to have a bit of a freak out – and seriously, the cold winter air isn’t helping a bit. Now that we’re into the second week of 2016, it seems that my skin has decided to just give up and start breaking out all over the place, despite me not spending new year’s eve in a bar (I was in a plane – potentially worse?). So I’ve decided to whip out all the clarifying and super-clearing clay masks I could find in my stash and give all of them a try.

For the everyday type of cleansing, I tend to favour my Elemental Herbology Facial Detox Purifying Facial Mask, which unfortunately, I’m running low on, and was procured in the UK (you can also get it online). It comes out as a thick, grey liquid, which spreads easily over the face and dries down in about 10 minutes, depending on how thick a layer is applied. After it’s washed off, my skin feels clean and soft. It’s definitely not the most intense clay mask I’ve ever tried, but I’d be careful if I had overly dry or sensitive skin. I find that the Aesop Parsley Seed Mask is a slightly toned down version of this one – it can be used often, as it’s not as clay-like as the Elemental Herbology, and doesn’t quite dry down to the same consistency. People with drier skin would definitely be able to use this and I pull it out quite often when I’m just looking for a quick fix for troubled skin.

If the target of my treatment is more blackheads/whiteheads/clogged pores, or any other yummy stuff, I tend to gravitate toward the First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Purifying Mask with Red Clay. It’s red and gooey, and almost looks like liquid plastic, but once it’s dries, you can peel it off in one go, and it gets rid of all the nasties hiding in the crevices of your face. Another mask for less troubled skin, but still has some great anti-bacterial properties is the Good Things Manuka Honey Radiance Face Mask, which contains white clay but smells honey sweet and somehow manages to purify while also moisturizing the skin.

If it’s the big guns I really need, and I want an all over mask or an overnight spot treatment, I go for the one and only item in my skincare arsenal that has not changed over the past 6-7 years, which is the Fresh Umbrian Clay Purifying Treatment Bar. I’m telling you guys, this is my absolute, one and only real staple in my skincare routine and has never been beaten. I’ve never found a clay mask that works better than this one (yes, I have tried GlamGlow and Lush offerings – while I like them, they are no comparison). I don’t know what it is about the Fresh, but it is incredible. It’s pricey, but the bar lasts forever. I wet my fingers and kind of rub the bar to make a thin liquid that is then easily spread over the face. It dries very quickly and after a few minutes, it can be rinsed off to reveal the softest, smoothest skin you’ve ever felt. It’s gentle enough to be used daily (I did that for a while in university), but packs enough of a punch that it can be used overnight as a spot treatment. The best use is for when I can sense one of those huge, painful breakouts lurking, I slap some of this stuff on it and a lot of the time, it shrinks the zit away completely. If there’s one thing from this entire blog that I’d say is worth every penny, it would be the Umbrian Clay Purifying Treatment Bar. Love, love love, and will forever repurchase. They better not discontinue this………..

What are your favourites for boosting your skin after the holiday season?

2015 Un-Favourites: Best of the Worst

The title of this post may not be entirely accurate – but each year I do try quite a few new products, so it’s inevitable that I’ll have some that don’t work out for me. I’ve mentioned a couple in earlier posts, but I thought I’d do a final round-up of the products that disappointed me this year, for various reasons.

First up is the Tony Moly Lip Balm in Apple, which I purchased at a local Korean market after hearing rave reviews about the stuff. However, I really don’t think I’ll be able to get through the tub. It has a thin, unappealing texture, and the scent of it is chemical-ly and overwhelming, and somehow it always manages to get into my mouth – bleh! On top of it all, it doesn’t really do anything and just sits on the lips. I only use this when I’m absolutely desperate.

Next, I have a couple of face products – the CoverFX Custom Cover Drops ushered in a whole new obsession with ‘serum foundations’ and while I may try others in the future, I cannot stand this stuff. The colour is way off – I got one of the N shades, which is supposed to be neutral, but it’s basically bright yellow. Also, no matter how you buff or brush it in, it seems to sit on top of the skin and cling to things you don’t want it clinging to. Yup. I’m going to be passing on this one. Next was not quite as extreme of a disappointment – the Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer in the shade Medium-Light Neutral. On the positive side, this concealer is both weightless and provides complete coverage, so it definitely lives up to its name. In fact, I liked its texture so much I had been planning to replace my Nars concealer with this one. However, there is one major problem. In the tube, and on first application, it appears to match my skin tone. In a few minutes though, it quickly oxidizes and turns much darker, so it appears that I have brown spots all over my skin – not cute. Of course the solution would be to try a lighter shade, but after testing and swatching and waiting a bit in store, I think both the ‘light’ options are too light. So that sucks, but I’ll be using it in the summer time when I’m more tan.

For the eyes, I’ve got a bit of a shocker – the MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack, everyone’s favourite black gel liner. I was fortunate enough to be gifted this from a friend who couldn’t make use of it. I was super excited as I’d heard loads and have never really found a gel-eyeliner-in-a-pot that I’ve liked. It applies smoothly and jet black, but there’s a major smudging problem on me, even with primer. So I can’t wear it and I can’t be bothered to set it, etc., when I have perfectly long lasting options like any of the liquid liners I’ve mentioned over and over again on this blog. So that was very sad. The other major disappointment for me this year was the hugely overpriced Marc Jacobs Twinkle Pop Stick Eyeshadow in Volver. I reviewed this a few months ago and it was patchy and not long-wearing at all, so I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it – perhaps reserve it for occasions I know I won’t be wearing makeup for too long.

Lastly is a stand-in for an entire line – the whole line of Sephora Formula X Nail Polishes has been a huge let-down for me. I’ve got a couple of them and while they apply nicely at first, they chip in about 30 seconds after they dry, so definitely not worth the money – sad as they canned the Sephora by OPI line and replaced it with Formula X. It’s a shame, since they have such a lovely range of colours and finishes, but I can’t justify spending the money on these polishes – better to go to the drugstore.

Welp, that concludes my 2015 wrap-up of products – hope that wasn’t too negative, although I’m sure that the products mentioned above worked great for some people.

What were your biggest makeup disappointments of 2015?

2015 Favourites: Skin Care

Following last year’s precedent, it’s only right to do a post on my most-loved and used skincare favourites from 2015. It’s been an interesting year for skincare – some old, some new, but also a lot of the same stuff I’ve been using for a while. That’s the thing about skincare. It’s much more finnicky, although I’m hoping that now I’m coming closer to a finalized skincare routine, at least in terms of ingredients, if not specific products.

One of my favourite cleansers of the year has to be the Philosophy Microdelivery Exfoliating Wash, which I have used on and off since around 2009. This is either my third or fourth bottle of the stuff, which is creamy and gentle and exfoliates the skin with the teeniest beads ever. I use this every morning. After work in the shower, I’ve decided to give my Clarisonic a bit of break and just go back to using a simple cleanser. The one I’m loving right now is the Clarins One-Step Gentle Exfoliating Facial Cleanser, which is gentler, more moisturizing and has slightly bigger beads than the Philosophy. I’ve had samples of this cleanser in the past and I am definitely glad to finally have the full-sized product in my arsenal. To remove makeup, nothing can beat the Body Shop Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil – it’s fast, efficient and affordable, and removes every scrap of waterproof eye makeup imaginable.

Other faves have been the Clinique Superdefense Age Defense Eye Cream SPF 20, amazing for all year round, and my most-used night time moisturizer, the LaNeige Water Sleeping Mask. I’m on my third tub of the stuff, but only really started using it daily in 2015.

To set all my makeup on the daily, I’ve found a cheaper alternative to the Urban Decay Setting Sprays – L’Oreal’s Infallible Pro Spray & Set Makeup Extender Setting Spray, which is under $15 and lasts ages. I can’t live without the stuff and am down to the last couple of sprays in my second bottle.

For the body, my lifesaver is the Kiehl’s Ultimate Strength Hand Salve, which is thick but sinks into the skin instantly, and does not leave a greasy finish. I apply it every night to hands, feet and elbows when needed. Also, as a little indulgence, the Laura Mercier Creme de Pistache Souffle Body Creme is incredible, used as a lotion or as a perfume. The texture is amazing and the scent lingers all day. Worth the splurge, in my opinion.

What have your skincare/body care faves been in 2015 and what are you looking forward to trying most this coming year?

2015 Favourites: Makeup

What better way to kick off 2016 than by posting about the products I loved the most and you’ve all seen scattered throughout the blog in 2015? Many things have not changed from last year, but I thought I’d include all the stuff that I’ve been absolutely loving and needing in my makeup routine these past 365 days.

First for face, was the most wondrous discovery of them all – the L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation. It’s creamy, light and keeps oil at bay all day long, which is practically a miracle in my books. The only drawback, I’d say, is that the shade selection is terrible. I currently mix shades 103 and 105; the former being a smidge too pink, and the latter being too yellow. With my foundation now being so long-lasting, I found myself needing less powder, so in came the Real Techniques Setting Brush for light dustings of setting powder under the eyes and a bit on the chin and forehead. It works great in the grooves of the face and stops me from looking too cakey. Another product that the brush would work beautifully with is the Laura Mercier Matte Radiance Highlight Powder, which is the most gorgeous champagne shimmer that makes the cheekbones look incredible, day or night. It’s the first highlight I’ve ever found that I’ve deemed subtle enough to use in the office – but it can also be layered on for a more dramatic look, without ever getting full on sparkly or glittery.

For the eyes, I discovered a few new favourites that I’m now unsure if I can go without, the first and most interesting being the Bare Minerals Locked & Coated Waterproof Lash Topcoat, which has allowed me to use regular mascara, but also smudgey ‘waterproof’ mascaras on a regular basis. Another yearlong fave has been the much-talked about Kat Von D Tattoo Liner in Trooper, which seems to have replaced its Stila counterpart. I do love the calligraphy pen tip (vs. the Stila felt-tip), and it lasts just as long without smudging, but the colour is definitely not as black as the Stila. My other obsession this year has been the Nudestix Magnetic Eye Colour in Gilt – I won’t go on about this one as I’ve raved about it a lot. I’d love to get some of the other colours someday, but as it stands, I currently have in my possession far too many cream shadows! My most-loved palette this year has been the Too Faced Natural Eyes Collection, another product I don’t need to rave about any more. The texture of the shadows is buttery smooth and it’s perfect for every occasion, as well as being more affordable than some of the higher-end palettes.

For lips and tips, I discovered the Revlon Lip Butter in Berry Smoothie at the end of last year and have not been able to stop using it since – I’ve worn my first one down to a tiny nub and already have a backup tube ready to go. It’s a lovely berry colour, as the name would suggest, but light enough to apply without a mirror. I would highly recommend this colour to anyone who is getting into lip colour or just wants something lower maintenance than a full-on lipstick. 2015 was the year I finally tried Seche Vite Top Coat, which is amazing as people have said it is – it dries fast and glossy, making it look like you did a salon manicure at home. The other nail find of the year was one I made relatively late, but has totally upped the standards to which I hold other nail polish. The ArtDeco Art Couture Nail Lacquer in 758 Porcelain Rose dries fast and lasts a long time, something that almost no nail polish formula manages to do. The brush is also thicker, which makes it easier to actually paint it on.

What were your 2015 favourites and what products are you most excited about trying in 2016?