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!


A Few Loves…

On the heels of my last ‘meh’ post, I figured I’d follow with something a little more positive. Over the last few weeks/months, I’ve found a few products that I am absolutely in love with, and would repurchase over and over again if possible.

The first one is the Soap & Glory Smoothie Star Breakfast Scrub, which for some reason, they don’t sell here. I bought this in the UK and have been using it almost everyday since I came back. It’s an absolutely heavenly sugar scrub that smells exactly as described and leaves the skin really soft and smooth. If I could get my hands on this again, I would buy it 100x, and I don’t even normally like body scrubs. Please bring this product to Canada S&G……!!!

The next thing I’ve been super loving is the Benefit Gimme Brow in shade 5. This stuff has been on my wishlist FOREVER and I finally picked it up in a sale last fall and only cracked it open a few weeks ago because I ran out of my other brow gel. As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I don’t use anything else in my brows other than tinted gel since that seems to do the trick – my brows aren’t overly sparse or anything so they just need a little help, and boy does this product ever help. The brush is tiny, and the gel has little fibres in it to make the brows appear fuller, and it doesn’t leave the hairs feeling crusty or tight. If this stuff wasn’t so darn expensive I’d be buying it all the time. Oh well, time to save up those Shoppers Optimum points…

And lastly, this has become an absolute handbag staple for me – the Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Gloss in the shade 215 Super Natural. I’ve always enjoyed this line of lip glosses, but I think Revlon has changed the shades up a bit from what they used to be (?). In any case, this is basically the most perfect pinky-nude gloss I can find for myself (at an affordable price point). It’s unscented, non-shimmery and doesn’t wash me out like a lot of nude glosses do. The texture is also perfect for a lip gloss – not too thick or sticky and feels moisturizing on the lips. I hope they don’t discontinue this colour ever!

What items have you been loving recently and what would you recommend?

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?

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?

The Collective Autumn/Winter Haul

Ahh, fall. It’s the time of year when there are sales and deals galore. Parts of this post are a bit late due to the annual Sephora 20% off sale being over a month ago, but there were so many other beauty bits I bought in November/early December that I figured I’d cram them all into one post.

Of course the biggest deal of them all is the Sephora VIB sale – everyone knows about it by now and we all eagerly anticipate it, making lists weeks in advance and sussing out the best items to buy during this time. You’ll know by now that 2016 was supposed to be a year of purging and buying only what was necessary for me, so I didn’t go as crazy at Sephora as I could have this year. I only bought items I was running out of and really needed. First up is the Estee Lauder Clear Difference Advanced Blemish Serum, which I’ve been dying to try for ages now but was always sold out. I use this in the mornings and so far it’s been working out decently well. It’s got a thicker, creamy consistency that I like for cold weather days as it’s not too drying. I had also run out of eye cream months ago and was surviving off samples, so I finally picked up the Ole Henriksen Fresh Start Eye Cream, which comes in a giant 1 oz pot, and I use morning and night. It’s a good, solid eye cream that I had used about 4 years ago, but decided to go back to. I’m always needing a makeup remover, and I decided to buy another bottle of the Sephora Collection Supreme Cleansing Oil, which works a real treat in removing everything from your face. Lastly, the one item I bought as a treat to myself was the Tarte Tarteist Metallic Shadow in Scandal, which is described as a ‘bright copper’. I am actually going to return this as the colour ended up being much darker and rustier than I thought – silly me for not looking up skin swatches first. I also redeemed several hundred points for various gifts, including this one, as I’ve wanted to try the cleanser in there for a while.

A few weeks later, Shoppers Drug Mart had an epic Spend Your Points event, whereby the points that you collect are suddenly worth more $-wise for one weekend. I needed a night-time serum as well, having run out of that, and first on my list was the Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector, which I haven’t used long enough to see any changes in my skin, but hasn’t done anything bad so far. I was also out of daytime moisturizer, so I picked up the Bioderma Sebium Shine-Control Moisturizer. I’ve always been curious about Bioderma’s other products and this one looked good, and reasonably priced (around $20) to me. I will say that in these colder months I might use it more as a primer rather than a moisturizer. I also snagged a Benefit Gimme Brow in the shade 5, which is a brow gel I have always wanted to try but could never justify spending $30 on. But since I got it for free…

Shortly after the Shoppers haul, Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals were all over the place. In the last few years some of the deals have managed to make their way north of the border, despite the fact that we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in November. Either way, I was very excited and feeling entirely too spendy, so I went to the Tarte website, where they were selling all of their foundations for $25. I couldn’t resist, so I picked up an Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Airbrush Foundation in the shade Light-Medium Neutral, which normally retails for $47, so was basically 50% off. I have been dying to try this foundation, as it has gotten rave reviews not only on the internet, but from friends of mine. The rest of the Tarte site also had 25% off at the time and to get free shipping I had to spend $75, so naturally I picked up the matching Airbuki Brush and my holy grail Colored Clay CC Undereye Corrector in Light-Medium. I have to say that after I ran out of my first one and decided to replace it with a cheaper alternative, it’s just not the same! So I am happy to have the Tarte corrector back in my life. They also included a free concealer brush in the order, which is a great size for travelling.

Lastly, because Sephora is all knowing and somewhat evil (not really), they sent out a $25 off $50 coupon for everyone who reached VIB Rouge by a certain date. That’s half off, so of course me and my lack of self-control couldn’t resist. I popped into my local store and picked up the Fresh Umbrian Clay Oil-Free Lotion. I’ve always wanted to try more products from the Umbrian Clay range since I love the treatment bar so much. It’s also $50 on the dot so I got exactly 50% off. I was also in luck since when I went to pay they had as a 100-point perk a mini of the Sunday Riley Martian Mattifying Melting Water-Gel Toner, which a co-worker of mine has been raving about, but I couldn’t justify spending $69 on to try. I will be giving this a good go over the Christmas season to see if it really makes a difference in my skin.

Whew – that’s a lot of stuff and hopefully I won’t be buying too many things any time soon. What did you pick up in the recent sales, and what is your favourite item?

Sephora Favorites – Trending: Beauty’s Most Coveted

Holiday beauty sets are everywhere it seems – and it also seems like more and more brands release more and more sets each year! Sephora Favorites is one of the best at putting together great brands and products in various themes, and I’ve always drooled over them, but never had the wherewithal to actually buy one. When I saw the Trending: Beauty’s Most Coveted set online, I knew I had to have it. Unfortunately I waffled for ages and it sold out online quite quickly. However, I managed to find it in a physical store – so even though it might be annoying for me to post about something that did sell out a while ago, it’s worth checking your local Sephora(s) for the set. While I can no longer link the set at Sephora, check out Temptalia’s itemized description and pictures here.

Generally speaking, what makes me so hesitant about buying sets, and palettes/kits in general, is that I want to make sure I will use every single item or colour in a set. Sure, it’s good value for money to get a palette or set, but if you’re only going to use a fraction of the product, then what is the point? Which is why I wavered a bit with this one – two products were giving me pause despite the fact that the price tag ($90 CAD) were well worth the other products in the kit. I have since given them away to a friend – the Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in 714 and the Estee Edit Kohl Shadowstick. I have nothing against the lipstick, but I already own so many reds that I wasn’t sure what I’d do with another one, and I just can’t wear kohl eyeliner with my oily face.

The actual value of this set is insane – there are a ton of full-sized products and the minis are deluxe sized. Really, what I was after was the Foreo Luna Play, which by itself retails for $49, because I really wanted to try the Foreo without shelling out the full $200. I haven’t used it a ton, but it definitely works well – I’d say it’s quite gentle compared to the Clarisonic. My only gripe is that it’s exceptionally small – no more than 1.5-2 inches in diameter.

The other no-brainer products I was after in the set were the Beautyblender nude (you can always use another beautyblender), and the Kat Von D Eyeliner in Trooper, which I am currently running out of, so buying the set was quite timely. I also wasn’t about to complain about having minis of the GlamGlow Supermud Clearing Treatment (about $20 worth), and NARS Creamy Radiant Concealer in Custard, which are perfect for traveling.

I recently went on a short trip and actually brought a few of the mini items in the set with  me, including the Laura Mercier Translucent Setting Powder, which is my new favourite for under the eyes, the Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Marine Boosting Mist (perfect for the plane and smells delicious too!), and the adorable Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Moonstone. I’ve never tried any Becca highlighters, although it must be the  most popular line of highlighters in the world, from what I’m hearing on YouTube. I always thought Moonstone would be slightly too pale for me, but with a light hand, it works perfectly well for day time or night.

The last two products in the kit I’m not 100% sure about: the CoverFX Enhance Click Highlighter in Bubbly, which is a lovely cream highlighter that leans slightly pink, and the Benefit Ka-Brow! in Shade 3, which is a warm medium brown that actually does sort of work for me since my hair is warmer than my eyebrows, but I’m completely unused to using any kind of brow product other than a quick swipe of tinted brow gel. The tiny bottle is also very hard to work with – product doesn’t come out of it easily.

Either way, I’m very pleased with this set and will be working my way through the products in the next year. Hopefully it’s still available at Sephora stores – what is your favourite holiday kit for 2016?

Mini Reviews on Minis

What is it about mini products that just makes everyone go nuts? They’re so cute and the packaging is so adorable and… they’re also cheaper than the full-size and oh-so travel friendly. Between my Birchbox subscription from 2015 and point perks and the aisle of doom in every Sephora store, I’ve managed to acquire quite a few minis that needed to be used and used up.

The most exciting mini for me has to be the recently-released Urban Decay All-Nighter Liquid Foundation. I had the Naked Foundation a while back and it was alright, but once I heard about the new long-wearing full coverage formula,  I absolutely knew I had to try it out. The only thing that really gave me pause (other than the $49 price tag) was the Urban Decay colour selection. I had the 4.0 shade in the Naked foundation and always found it to be far too yellow for me. The other question I had was whether this new formula would oxidize the same way. I can unquestionably confirm that it does. I managed to pick up the shade 5.0 of the All-Nighter, and while upon first swipe it seems alright, it quickly darkens and goes far too dark and orange on my skin. The strange thing is that they introduced a couple of neutral undertone shades but not as dark as I need – a 4.25 would be perfect for me (currently, the Urban Decay foundation lines have the .0s as yellow-undertoned and 0.5s as pink undertoned). Colour aside, this is definitely the most full coverage foundation I’ve ever used – it goes on very smoothly and covers everything. It lasts a fair bit but I definitely still get oily and have to blot periodically, so on the oil control front, it’s just meh. But if you like a full-coverage foundation, and you have moderately oily skin, I would recommend this for sure – just make sure you go a shade lighter.

The next thing I had to try is the miniature Too Faced Better Than Sex Waterproof Mascara. I was extremely excited to try this because everyone and their grandmother has been raving about the regular Better than Sex mascara, which I have always avoided because I knew the formula wasn’t waterproof. Sad to say, my oily eyelids eat this stuff for breakfast. It smudges all over the place and I can’t wear it. Also, the brush is far too big and bushy for my eyes, so it tends to get everywhere. It’s another mascara fail for me, unfortunately, so the hunt continues for a more accessible and affordable mascara I can buy here. The packaging is insanely cool though – the fake water droplets though?!

Laura Mercier is a line I have always wanted to try more of, but it’s quite expensive, so I’ve had to pick little bits and pieces as I go. A while back they were offering a 100 point perk at Sephora of the Lip Glace in Bare Baby, which is a lovely light pink. The lip gloss goes on smoothly and isn’t sticky. The one thing I’m not crazy about is the scent – it’s smells strongly of sickly sweet vanilla, but if you like that smell then you’d probably love this product.

Onto the skincare – another 100 point perk I grabbed is the Ole Henriksen Truth Sugar Glow Polishing Mask, which is a gritty exfoliant that smells like oranges. You’re meant to spread it over the skin and leave it for 10 minutes before scrubbing it off and therefore getting both chemical and physical exfoliation. It’s nice so far but I haven’t noticed any massive changes. I will continue to use it until it’s gone but may not purchase the full sized product.

Eye creams are something that I’m not overly fussy about – the only things they really have to do are keep my undereye area hydrated, and not ball up and disappear when I put concealer there. The Benefit Puff Off! is supposed to help with puffy bags, but that’s not really a problem I have – however it’s a nice eye cream to use in the morning – not too heavy, and it sinks in instantly. I haven’t had any issues in the makeup department either.

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