The England Haul: Part 2 – Drugstore

Ah, foreign groceries and drugstores. Is there anything else more exciting? …at least to me. Boots and Superdrug were both major targets for me on my trip as I know there are loads of affordable brands we can’t get here. I hit up the big Boots at Oxford Circus and came away with way too much stuff – but I’ve found that despite the exchange rate, drugstore prices in the UK are actually great and wonderfully affordable.

The first thing I was after was of course the Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer. I’ve heard SO much about this concealer and Collection is not  brand I can get my hands on over here. I picked up the shade 3 – Warm Medium. I really like the texture – creamy and very pigmented. The only issue I have is with their terrible shade range: there are only 4 shades and 1 – Fair is far too light for me, while 2 – Cool Medium is obviously too cool, and shade 3 ended up being way too dark for me. I’ll have to save it for using in the summer when I pick up quite an intense tan. Another Collection product I decided to pick up was something that I haven’t heard much about – the Illuminating Touch Brightening Concealer in shade 2 – Natural. I am hoping to use this under my eyes but haven’t tried it yet. The Fast Stroke Eyeliner is one I’ve heard a lot about so I thought I’d pick it up as well. I got the Velvet Kiss Moisturising Lip Cream in shade Cotton Candy for free since I bought other Collection products. I haven’t used it much yet but it’s very comfortable to wear and the colour is lovely.

Some random other products I picked up but haven’t tried yet are the Natural Collection Brow Gel in Dark Brown, Barry M Sunset Nail Paint in Fuchsia Generation, Boots Tea Tree & Witch Hazel Peel Off Face Mask, and the two items I’m most excited about – the Fleur de Force By Eylure Lashes in Fleur Loves, and the La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo (+). I’ve heard a lot about the Effaclar Duo and we can get a version of it over here, but I’m almost certain the ingredients are different.

Full sized skin/hair/body products were another priority of mine, despite the annoying fact of having to lug all the big bottles home, but luckily I packed light initially so I was able to bring home the Charles Worthington Moisture Seal Hair Healer, which I’m quite excited to try, as well as the Original Source Shower Gel in Mango, which is going to be great for the summer time. I also picked up two facial scrubs – the Sanctuary Spa Radiance Exfoliator, and the Botanics All Bright Purifying Face Scrub (are you seeing a theme here?). I also had to pop into Superdrug to pick up the Zoella Wondrous Whip Body Cream to see what her line is like.

Another store I was dying to go to was Kiko Cosmetics, which is another store that exists in the UK and US, but not here, sadly. There were a ton of things I wanted to pick up but in the interest of not hoarding I limited myself to only three products. I obviously went a little concealer crazy this trip – I picked up the Natural Concealer in shade 02, which comes in a tiny tube. It turns out this one is also too dark for me but it blends out beautifully and I will be cracking it out in the summer time. Something else I’m super excited about is the Velvet Passion Matte Lipstick in shade 304. It comes in the most unique, luxurious packaging and I am really excited to wear this colour in the spring/summer. Lastly, I had to grab one of the Extra Sculpt Waterproof Mascaras – I really don’t need more mascara in my life right now but couldn’t resist since KathleenLights loves the Extra Sculpt… and it was on sale!

The very last product pictured is the Satin Matte Nail Polish from Primark, which I haven’t tried yet.

Whew – that was a lot of stuff but I don’t think I went too crazy with the shopping. What are your UK favourites and what would you recommend I try next time?

The England Haul: Part 1 – SpaceNK

I’m baaack! Sorry for the long delay but I have been away and of course while I was out of the country, I bought a ton of beauty products that I needed (wanted??). The main goal for me was to hit up SpaceNK, which is a store they don’t have here and I suppose is kind of like Sephora for Brits. I was quite excited to find one close to my hotel and picked up a few bits and pieces to try.

First up, and most expensive, is the Sarah Chapman Overnight Exfoliating Booster. This is a UK brand that I don’t think is sold in stores anywhere here in Canada, so I figured I had to try something. This looked the most promising – I’ve used it the last couple nights as my serum step. Feels nice but I haven’t seen any results yet. Another skincare item I got talked into buying is the Goldfaden MD Pure Start Gentle Detoxifying Facial Cleanser. It’s meant to be used as either a makeup remover, or second cleanse, and is perfect for those of us with combo skin. I haven’t actually used this yet but I have high hopes! Anna has spoken at length about the Smith & Cult nail polishes, and since I’m an easily-convinced sucker, I had to pick one up since I don’t think they’re available here (and doesn’t ship them to Canada). I will say the huge chunky lid makes it sort of awkward to apply the colour, but otherwise, it applies beautifully – no streaking, and it dries quickly. I would love to pick up more shades, but they’re not cheap at all.

Two items I had to grab out of sheer curiosity and not availability (I can easily buy these at Sephora) were the NARS Sheer Glow Foundation (in shade Ceylan) and Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil. Both items are actually cheaper to pick up in GBP rather than CAD, especially when you consider that most of the tax can be refunded at the airport (I got 18% of the overall price refunded to me). Sheer Glow is of course a cult favourite that I’ve been hearing about for years. It’s quite pricey so I thought why not pick it up while I can get it a bit cheaper? The shade is quite light and yellow-based, which is good for me at this time of year. And miraculously, this foundation does not oxidize one single iota! It’s a bit harder to blend than other foundations I’ve used, but once it’s blended in, it sits nicely on the skin. The Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil I actually needed since I’m running out of my current hair oil. It’s lightweight and not greasy at all, so not sure if I’ll repurchase but I will definitely enjoy using the bottle while I have it.

What are your favourites from SpaceNK and what should I try next time?

The Travel Essentials

I’m jetting off on a week-long trip soon and I thought I’d share a few essentials I am bringing with me. Aside from being ridiculously cute, mini products are great for saving for these types of occasions.

For skincare, I’m bringing the Laneige Multi Cleanser, which is a creamy and lightly exfoliating daily face wash, then I’ll be using my mini of the Sunday Riley Martial Mattifying Melting Water-Gel Toner and then slapping on my absolute favourite Laneige Water Sleeping Mask, which works great for both day and night. For any breakouts that might happen (which often do when I travel, sadly), I have my trusty Clinique Acne Solutions Clinical Clearing Gel. If that’s not strong enough, I can use a dab of the GlamGlow Supermud Clearing Treatment, or use it all over the face.

For makeup, I’ve got the mini of the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Custard, which is great for under the eyes and around the face, which will be blended out with my Sephora Collection Pro Mini Airbrush #55.5 Brush. For adding warmth and contouring the NYX Contour Pro Single in Sienna is being packed away for its compactness – it’s also a great colour. For highlight, the cute little Benefit Watt’s Up is my favourite, and it doubles as a great cream eyeshadow. The Kat Von D Tattoo Liner is a perennial favourite, and having a mini-sized pen is just great for travel.

To take all this makeup off at the end of the day I have the cutest pot of the Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm, and to wash my brushes, I packed the Sephora Collection Solid Brush Cleanser.

What are your travel go-tos and what do you recommend?

Hopping onto the Colourpop Train

ColourPop…probably one of the biggest breakout brands in the last couple years – the name has been on everyone’s lips and the products on everyone’s faces. I finally jumped on the bandwagon around Christmas – I had browsed the site about a million times but never bitten the bullet. Around the holidays, however, there was a discount on some of the products due to KathleenLights and her work with the brand. So I figured, why not? I placed and order and started playing a bit with these products.

The first thing I noticed is that the texture is WEIRD. I have absolutely no idea how to describe it – if you haven’t tried any of the Super Shock eye/cheek products, I’d recommend you stick your finger into one if you can. It’s like a gel/cream/powder all in one. I picked up the Super Shock shadows in the shades: Glow (matte cream), Cornelious (matte medium warm brown), KathleenLights (metallic copper), Blaze (metallic bronze), La La (metallic pinky-copper),  and Cheap Date (metallic gold). I took me a little while to figure out how to use these – but I think I’ve sort of figured it out. Fingers are definitely best. There’s no getting around that – dipping a brush into the pots doesn’t really pick up much product. I’ve tried with several brushes and the colour payoff is pretty pathetic. What I’ve been doing is dipping my finger into the colour, placing it roughly where I want it, and then using my blending brush to soften the edges. The easiest look for me is to use Glow all over the lid and then stick a bit of Cornelious into the crease. But La La and KathleenLights are beautiful all over the lid as well. Cheap Date came shattered, but it still works, so I haven’t really had any complaints there – only that the colour itself is extremely metallic and more difficult to wear.

Another product I picked up is the Super Shock Cheek bronzer in the shade Paradise Cove, which I can’t seem to find on the website anymore (discontinued?). Either way, it’s a lovely mid-toned brown with very tiny shimmer, which is new to me. I’ve never owned 1) a cream bronzer or, 2) a metallic bronzer. This will be very pretty in the summer. I use the same method – dip my fingers in the pot, paint it all around the perimeter of my face, take my brush and blend it all in.

I will say that despite my initial annoyance with the inability to stick a brush into the products, they blend out beautifully and build pigment really nicely as well. I’d like to try more of their products and especially their new pressed powder shadows eventually.

The Creme Gel Liners from ColourPop have received a lot of good press as well, so I couldn’t resist trying a couple, despite the consistent inability for me to wear pencil-type eyeliners. I picked up two shades – Over Board (shimmery bronze) and Dirty Talk (shimmery gold). Both are too light for me to really use on my upper lash line, and they tend to dissolve in my waterline (as all liners seem to..). The one thing I’ve really been enjoying doing is to smudge a bit of Over Board into the outer half of my lower lash line just below my waterline, and then Dirty Talk in the inner half. They blend really well together and last all day like that with no smudging.

All in all I am really enjoying (and still experimenting with) ColourPop products and I can see how people get addicted to collecting them! What ColourPop products have you tried and what would you recommend?

Blending it all Out…

Despite my never-ending love of cream eyeshadow, for both its convenience and ease of application (fingertip), I do really enjoy playing with my zillion powder eyeshadows sometimes. While I find it does take more time and work, having the right tools can change everything, especially for blending, which is key to making eyeshadow work. Over the years I’ve slowly acquired more and more blending brushes of various shapes and sizes which are great for various uses.

The largest blending brush I own is the NYX Pro Blending Brush (far left), which is actually quite dense, and is too big for my small crease space. I like to use this one to either add the absolute lightest transition shade to my eyes, or for a light wash of colour all over my lid. The next largest is the cult-favourite MAC 217 Blending Brush, which I use for the same purposes as the NYX. It’s not as dense, so it doesn’t pick up too much shadow at once, and blends really well. I like to use this as a final blending brush as well to finish a look. Very similar to this one in size, density and use is the Chikuhodo GSN-10 Eye Shadow brush. It’s lovely and I like to use this for blending medium crease shades, though it works really well for all over the lid too.

Probably my absolute favourite and cheapest brush is the ELF Crease Brush, which is small and light, so it pretty much blends anything you want. The next time I make an ELF order I’m going to buy about 5 more of these because they’re so affordable and great. I’ve also washed this brush about a million times and it has never lost its shape. Another great one that’s useful for more precise work is the Zoeva 231 Luxe Petit Crease, which I picked up while I was in Europe. It’s definitely more of a dense brush, but it does everything you need it to, blending-wise and it also acts as a larger pencil brush for smudging.

The smallest brush I own is an old one that they probably don’t sell anymore, but it’s an Estee Lauder eyeshadow brush I filched from my mom years and years ago. I don’t use it a ton so it’s still in great condition. It’s less dense than the Zoeva brush so it can be used for blending deeper colours easily.

What are your favourite eyeshadow brushes and what would you recommend?

The Winter Switchup

In this part of the world, winter has not been that bad thus far – it has to be said. But inevitably, the colder temperatures bring drier air and plenty of wind, which wreaks havoc on my skin every year.

It was around December when I started to really feel the dehydration and dry patches. I was forced to put away my usual night time moisturizer and bring out the big guns – the GlamGlow ThirstyMud Hydrating Treatment, which I mix with a couple drops of the Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate. It took about four consecutive days of use, but after that most of my dry patches were gone. Now I use this combo a couple times a week just for maintenance, as I do need constant injections of moisture in my PM routine.

Another product I bought in a bit of a panic was the Origins A Perfect World Age-Defense Treatment Lotion with White Tea, because I was in need of a more hydrating toner. It smells wonderful and I slap a bit of this on after cleansing in the morning, so that my skin isn’t so sapped from all the various treatments I use during the day. As you can tell, I don’t normally keep anything too hydrating in my routine but this time of year, it’s so important even for us oily-skinned folks!

The last thing I’ve had issues with is foundation shade-matching. For some reason all of the foundations I own have been oxidizing like crazy on me, and I’m at my palest, so I was struggling a bit with what to do, since I’m so used to buying light-medium or medium foundations that I finally had to run to the drugstore and pick up a shade that made no sense to me – the Maybelline Fit Me Foundation in the shade 120 Classic Ivory. It’s light with neutral undertones – the problem for me is that I have quite neutral-warm undertones, but most brands’ lightest shades lean quite cool, so it’s an ongoing battle for me. So far I’ve been mixing this with a bit of my regular foundations to lighten it up, but the oxidizing issue is persistent. If you guys have any ideas of how to prevent or lessen this, any suggestions would be welcome! I have already tried the primer / primer + powder prior to foundation and neither have worked so far :(.

What are your winter skincare and makeup staples?

2016 Final Clearout and Purge

This is my last post detailing the products I’ve used in 2016 and I’m sure you’re all sick of it, but since 2016 was a year of major commitment to using up products and buying less, I thought it was important to see what I had actually managed to accomplish in this area.

The first picture has all the stuff I used up – mostly skincare and minis. I really powered through a few things, and have already repurchased some. Other things, including the Algenist GENIUS White Brightening Moisture Softener, I am really missing. It was a pricey little number, but it really did reduce my dark spots and worked great at moisturizing. I will also totally repurchase the Ole Henriksen Invigorating Night Treatment, the Simple Cleansing Micellar Water, and The Body Shop’s Vitamin C Microdermabrasion, which are all amazing and not overly expensive.

Some ‘meh’ products that I won’t be looking for again include the Clarins Beauty Flash Balm – what exactly does this stuff do again? I also saw absolutely no results from the Sally Hansen Diamond Strength Instant Nail Hardener. Quite disappointing, but that’s how it goes with products sometimes.

I am also getting rid of quite a few makeup products – as you know, they have a shelf life and things can get a bit funky after a while. I’d say I probably keep products longer than the average person so really, it’s important that I get rid of things regularly… I’m working on it. Two major product dumps are sadly, high-end foundations: the Benefit The Big Easy Liquid to Powder SPF 35 Foundation, which was good but far too dark for me (they have a terrible shade selection). The bottle is also 2.5 years old and almost empty – it was time for that to go. The Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Foundation is another over 2 year old foundation that I’ve barely used, so there really was no point in holding onto it. Another sort of sad thing that may be controversial, is that I’m getting rid of all my Bite Beauty lip products because even though they are lovely in colour and texture, I just can’t take the scent/taste. I can’t really explain it but something about these just doesn’t sit well with me, so bye-bye Bite. Other products that have basically dried out are my two Maybelline Color Tattoos and various liquid lip products.

All in all I’m quite happy with the items I’ve used up and decided to throw away – it was time and I also hope to continue on this trend this year. What products have you used up in the past year and is this something you’ve committed to doing?