The Sephora Birthday Haul 2017

Seems like I have been buying a lot of things recently – though it’s also true that I have been running out of things left right and centre. My birthday was a few weeks ago and as per my usual tradition, I’ve been to Sephora to pick up a few items as well as the free birthday gift. To be honest, most of these buys are pretty boring – I had to get another Sephora Collection Solid Brush Cleanser, and a Nails Inc. 45 Second Top Coat with Kensington Caviar, both of which are staples in my day-to-day routine. I also ran out of nighttime moisturizer so it was time to go back to my old faithful, the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask – it’s honestly the best for my oily/combo skin, especially as spring and summer are approaching.

The one new thing I did spring for is the Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser, which I had used a sample of while away. It’s a wonderful milky cleanser with some beads to help with manual scrubbing without being too harsh. Skin feels soft and clean afterward, which is awesome. This is definitely not a cheap product, but the bottle is gigantic and will probably last a good while. I’m also quite excited about the  minis I got, a 100 point perk of the Sunday Riley Good Genes Treatment, as well as the Caudalie birthday set.

What have you picked up from Sephora recently and what would you recommend?

2016 Favourites: Makeup

Happy 2017 everyone! I can’t believe how fast time has flown, but another year has gone by and with it, more favourites. Products in this post are going to look awfully repetitive but what can I say? These are the things I used and loved throughout 2016 and in the end, it was really easy to pick them out.

For base, I’m still loving my L’Oreal Infallible although I did play around quite a bit more this year with various foundation-type products. The CoverGirl Clean Matte BB Cream for Oily Skin turned out to be quite the find especially around the summer and lazy days when I was looking for easy makeup. I wear the shade light/medium and I have to say that now that winter has rolled around it’s gotten a bit too dark for me, but I’ll be finishing up what is left of this tube when the warmer weather comes back. This is a great everyday base that really does control oil and doesn’t look too matte. Also, as an added bonus, this is the only foundation I’ve ever found that I can apply with my fingers without it looking too streaky or patchy. Another product I’m quickly running out of is the Revlon Colorstay Concealer in Light Medium. This is actually my second tube but I seem to be scraping the sides again – goes to show how much I’ve been using and loving this guy!

The really beat-up, unrecognizable tube is a product I have used without fail every single time I wore makeup in 2016 – the L’Oreal Brow Plumper in the shade Medium Deep. I still haven’t really gotten on board with using anything else in my brows – tinted brow gel is just the easiest and this tube seems to be lasting me absolutely forever. ELF really seems to have stolen my heart where eyeshadow is concerned this year. I’ve used the Back to Basics Smudge Pot and/or the Mad for Matte Palette everyday – they’re just so easy to use, blendable and effortless, which is really what I’m looking for in any eyeshadow, especially on workdays. Do I even have to mention how affordable they are? Lastly, for eyes, the FairyDrops Scandal Queen Waterproof Mascara has been another everyday staple for me – definitely not the cheapest, or the easiest to get a hold of, but a solid, reliable mascara that gets the job done and holds a curl, without flaking or smudging all over the place.

One of the integral parts of my beauty routine is my favourite nail polish top coat – the Nails Inc. Kensington Caviar Top Coat. I’ve gone through bottles and bottles of this stuff and it’s just the best. It dries almost instantly and makes your nails feel like gels. The most magical part of this is that if in the course of painting your nails, one gets smudged, brushing this top coat on top will smooth everything out. It’s basically magic in a bottle.

My last favourite has been an absolute obsession and my most worn lip product this year – the NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams. I’m a little slow to the party, but these truly are the best. I’m on the fence when it comes to the liquid lipstick craze but these really do what they say on the tube and last all day with no transfer and minimal drying. There are colours to satisfy everyone and the price point is amazing.

All in all it looks like 2016 was a great year for drugstore makeup for me, which is good news, especially as I will be continually be looking for ways to cut down on the $ I spend on makeup. What were your favourite makeup products of 2016?

The No Buy Sephora Haul

A Sephora haul – right at the beginning of a no-buy year?? That can only mean one thing – my birthday is just around the corner, and while I did dedicate myself to not buying unnecessary stuff in 2016, I can’t say no to free! Case in point, the annual Sephora birthday gift. They have two choices this year, and I chose the Marc Jacobs mini set that includes a tiny mauvey-nude lipstick and one of their gel eye pencils, which I’ve always wanted to try. With that, I also picked up a free set of Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Extra Strength Formula pads, which are supposed to help with breakouts, oil, wrinkles and dullness – quite the claim, so I’m excited to try these.

What I actually spent money on was pretty boring and stuff I actually needed – a new top coat, since I’m running out, so I’ve decided to go back to and try the new re-branded (and more expensive) Nails Inc. 45 Second Top Coat with Kensington Caviar, an old staple. I also needed a new pair of tweezers, so I went with the trusty Mini Slant Tweezers from Tweezerman. The one thing I ‘treated’ myself to was a sample kit of La Neige minis, which contains a couple items I’m currently using/have tried, as well as some new stuff to try.

All in all, I don’t think this was a bad effort or overspending too much, so in spite of my no-buy I’m really pleased with this year’s birthday haul, and so is my wallet.

What have you tried recently from Sephora, and what would you recommend?

The Nail Wardrobe: Alternative Holiday Cheer

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Happy Boxing Day, everyone! I thought I’d share a quick post of how I painted my nails for Christmas this year. Despite my last post lauding all shades of red, I decided to go with something a little different. Blue and silver are often used as colours to decorate Christmas trees, so I thought why not apply that to my nails?

I’m not even sure if accent nails are still in, but I’ve happily jumped on that bandwagon and will continue to ride it out… as my main colour I used Tarina Tarantino Nail Color in Meteor Night, which is a very dark polish with teeny tiny shimmer in it. I rarely use this one as it is a very difficult colour to paint with – see how ragged my edges are! I believe this particular line has been discontinued, but I’m not sure. Correct me if I’m wrong! Then on my ring finger, I used one coat of Nails Inc. Cambridge Terrace, my favourite solid silver, and then a coat of the Color Institute Nail Polish (no shade name), which has a slightly bigger sparkle. I don’t know where you can buy Color Institute stuff, but I got mine in a gift set during a Secret Santa exchange. It looks really cheap but actually has amazing lasting power and dries incredibly fast. Get your hands on some if you can!

What nail look did you rock for Christmas?

The Nail Wardrobe: Top Coats and Treatments

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I alluded to this in my last post, but I absolutely adore nail polish. As a small child, it was the first makeup item I zoned in on, and while it has taken me years to pluck up the courage to add various products to my routine (I am still working on lipstick and blush), nail polish has been a constant since about age 5. I own more nail polish than any other type of product, and it’s my favourite and in my opinion, easiest product to buy.

Being such a lover and constant wearer of nail polish, it is a very depressing fact of my life that I have extremely weak, thin, flimsy and flaky nails. I’ve tried to figure out why for ages–and my mother has very thick, strong nails that have always been long. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’ll never have long nails, but at least I can prevent the constant flaking and peeling. I’ve tried many products, base coats, moisture treatments, over the years, but these are the ones that I’ve found work the best:

Sally Hansen VitaSurge Strength Gel
This is my second bottle of the stuff and it’s the first step for me in trying to infuse as much moisture and strengthening-power into my nails as possible. What’s great is it can be massaged into bare nails or nails with polish on them. There are beads inside that burst as they are worked into the nails. I’ve found that once this is out of my life, my nails suffer as a result.

OPI Original Nail Envy Nail Strengthener
What I used as my base coat for the past 6 months or so – after hearing rave reviews about this stuff I had to get my hands on a bottle. While I have tried OPI base and top coats and hated both, this stuff seriously works. And it dries almost instantly.

OPI Soft & Thin Nail Envy Nail Strengthener
A super recent purchase, as recently I was finding that my original Nail Envy didn’t seem to be working anymore. I decided to try the Nail Envy that was formulated specifically for nails like mine, and found that it works the same. I’m not sure if my nails just plateaued or what, but I think switching up the two works really well, as both work really well as base coats.

Nails Inc. Caviar Top Coat
I’ve lost count of how many bottles I’ve gone through. This is the best top coat ever. Hands down. One caveat to that – one my main priorities in any base coat, top coat and nail polish are that they dry fast. Obviously minimizing chipping is important, but as I change my nail polish colour at least once a week, usually twice, I am much more concerned with quick-drying, and this one does that, faster than I’ve ever experienced. It also makes your nails feel incredible, I can’t explain it, but it does. Another note is that they seem to have repackaged this product – it used to come in a clear bottle and was pink-looking (painted on clear), but now it’s in a black bottle, and on Sephora.com they seem to have a big square bottle of it now that’s more expensive. I haven’t tried that version yet, but it may be next on the list!

I should also quickly mention that I buy the Sally Hansen and Nails Inc. products from Shoppers Drug Mart, whereas the Nail Envy incarnations I get from Trade Secrets.

What products do you use to strengthen your nails and/or improve your manicure?

The Nail Wardrobe: Autumn Essentials

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Since the last post introduced some autumnal shimmer back into the life, I figured why not continue with the autumn theme. The focus this time will be non-shimmery nail choices – as an aside, what do you call regular nail polishes that don’t have any sparkle? Matte? No, but they’re shiny.. Cream finish? I’m not really clear.

Anyway, these picks are my favourites for the fall and winter – and definitely more office-appropriate if that is a concern.

1) American Apparel Nail Lacquer in Factory Grey
American Apparel nail polish is actually really, really good–it dries fast and doesn’t chip too badly. It’s not a product I ever see mentioned on the beauty blogs or YouTube channels I watch, but I’ve been a fan for a long time. This is my favourite fall pick, as it is neutral, but quite a lovely dark grey, with almost bluish-purple undertones that make it less ‘dead’ looking. *Note: upon further perusal of the website, they don’t appear to have this colour anymore on the online store? I’m not sure if it’s still available or if you can still purchase it in stores.

2) Nails Inc. Nail Polish in Jermyn Street
I don’t even know how to describe this colour. It’s a mid-tone brown with some red/purple thrown in? It actually paints on much darker than it appears in the bottle, but to me it’s quite a unique colour and perfect for the cooler months without being too dark or too grey.

3)  L’Oreal Nail Color in #470 Haute Couture Red
This is not a special colour or formula, what I am trying to say with this one is that everyone should have a dark, vampy red in the fall. It’s a no-brainer and always in!

4) Essie Nail Lacquer in Haute in the Heat
Strangely enough, Haute in the Heat was part of Essie’s summer collection a few months ago, but when I picked it up, I was instantly drawn to the deep raspberry colour–it was lovely for summer and I think it’s deep enough, but will still brighten up your fall wardrobe. This might be my favourite nail polish purchase of the year (and I am OBSESSED with buying nail polish).

5) Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in #510 Pat on the Black
A discovery from last fall, this deep, almost-black purple is a beautiful colour, a good substitute for a dark red, but still chic. Love the Complete Salon Manicure range from Sally Hansen–very affordable and it has a good formula. I find it’s quite difficult to find a dark purple that doesn’t have any shimmer in it, so I would love to know if you guys know of any good dupes!

I have many, many more polishes that I wear in the fall, but these are some of the ones I will be painting on the most. Let me know what your favourites are!
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