Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Loving Lately - February 2015

I couldn't be more thrilled that February is winding down, purely because this winter has been dangerously close to unbearable, and the end of February means spring isn't too far away. I have heard that we're allegedly in for an extended winter in Ontario, but I will be glazing over that because I cannot mentally handle the idea that this weather may very well drag into April.

I'm going to be taking off for a week after some academic deadlines pass, so I'll probably do a post about which products I'll be taking along with me (spoiler alert: probably a lot of sunscreens). Until then, here's what I've been into over the last 4 weeks!

I had been staring at this liner on for ages and then was lucky to receive it at a Tarte spring/summer preview this week. A Tarte national makeup artist was on hand to do makeup touch-ups. I've developed an apprehension about the phrase "makeup touch-ups", but I removed my glasses and had this liner applied and the results were perfect. The idea here is that the liner is a consistency occupying a space between a gel and a fluid and after messing with acrylic and oil paint in my Parsons days, I have to agree that dubbing it a "paint" is certainly accurate. The tube format eliminates any opportunity for the gel liner to dry up before you have a chance to actually use it (novel concept alert!). The formula is waterproof, and the colour is matte black and I quietly suggested that Tarte produce a navy version ASAP, inevitably to replace my now-dried out pot of Tom Ford Noir Absolue. The bent liner brush that accompanies this clay liner is easy to use (reminds me of a bent liner brush Benefit did ages ago, which is apparently no longer - Quo also did one similar once upon a time) and allows you to create a flick without much effort. The bristles are long enough to lay the brush on its side in order to sort of "stamp" down the shape before filling it in with more liner. The liner-brush duo ring in at $29 CAD, which is downright reasonable, especially if you will actually get the full product life span of this liner because of its ideal packaging. A squeeze tube eyeliner. What will they think of next!?!

I've had this quad for about a year, and while I do love it, I stepped away from eyeshadow for a while. It took seeing the beauty look from Tom Ford's runway show in LA (shown below!) last week to jog my memory and recall how awesome this quad is.

Cocoa Mirage in action. Credit: Sonny Vandevelde 
Completed beauty look on Gigi Hadid. Credit: Sonny Vandevelde
I believe I read somewhere that Tom Ford lipstick in "Deep Mink" was also blended onto cheeks and the outer edge of the eyes for that warm marsala haze. Mary Greenwell was the makeup artist who keyed the show, so I have no choice but to bow down because she is a legend. Since this show happened, this quad has been in high rotation and it's super wearable with three mattes and one shimmer shade. It's steep as hell ($79 US/$86 CAD - I gagged when I looked the Canadian pricing up), and while I'm sure the shades are dupable, I already invested in it so I'm using it a-plenty these days!

Marc Jacobs Beauty has been reformulating their lipsticks lately, with a new range of neutrals known as the New Nudes (noticed Moody Margot was carried over to this range from the original lipstick range, which is possibly the case for other repromoted shades) and new Le Marc Lip Creme lipsticks, which I urge everyone to check out on The Beauty Look Book, as Sabrina did a gorgeous comprehensive post full of swatches on the entire Le Marc Lip Creme range. This shade, "110 Role Play", is described as a dusty rose. It is basically the colour of my actual lips, which is probably why I've been wearing it so much. It has invariably been the first lip colour I put on every morning since I got it, so I consider it a great every day lip colour for anyone with pigmented lips. The formula contains monoi butter, vitamin E and myrrh extract. It's almost disorienting to think of myrrh related to anything that isn't Christmas, but there you have it.

ITG tipped me off about this brand, and the name totally drew me in. Elephants are my favourite animal, so I was sorta tickled by the brand name. Then I read up on the folklore tale behind the brand name: marula oil is at the basis of the product range, and elephants were believed to eat marula fruit, which would then ferment in their stomachs and make them drunk. Cute, weird, and right up my alley. I have both the JuJu and Pekee cleansing bars on a soap dish in my bathroom right now. I've been using them for a few weeks and can say they're both great. I do not rely on them to remove makeup alone (that's usually a gig I enlist an oil cleanser or Bioderma for); the JuJu bar is for a.m. use while I do my second p.m. cleanse (firm believer of a 2-step facial cleansing process) with the Pekee bar. Neither leave skin tight at all in my experience, and this is likely because they are virtually pH balanced (pH of 6.34 - pretty darn close to 7). The JuJu bar is a physically exfoliating bar with healing clay, bamboo powder, virgin marula oil and antioxidants galore all working to sweep away dead skin cells. My skin seems brighter and clearer since I started dabbling in Drunk Elephant as a brand, and even if this soap is $35/bar, I believe a bar would last ages.

This lip balm is proof that petrolatum has some stiff competition when it comes to hydrating lips. And that you can find a vegan-friendly option if you're in the market for one. I wasn't, but I'm impressed with the quality of this balm, which has stood up against the ridiculous -25C to -40C temps we've been enduring. The ingredient list is refreshingly simple (organic sunflower seed oil, candelilla wax, organic cocoa butter, organic coconut oil, organic flavor, peppermint essential oil, vitamin E, rosemary extract) and the scent is decidedly tropical, which I now deem necessary based on how extreme this winter has been. Oh, and it's $3.49 CAD and available in very random places (Boathouse clothing stores, for example), as well as health food stores, so make use of the brand's highly informative store locator on its website and buy all the tubes your heart desires (or buy online because COLD).

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Loving Lately - January 2015

Time-pressed, tired and back to the grind of work and school, so here are some bits that have delighted me over the past month!

Who actually likes putting on body lotion in the winter? Not me. If I'm damp from a shower and dying to get dressed, slathering on lotion is beyond a chore in such a vulnerable moment. I'm not as religious about body moisturizing as I ought to be, but this product helps substantially. I used to use the Olay in-shower body lotion many moons ago, but that formula made the shower/tub slick as ever, and I suspect it was pulled due to safety hazards galore, but I digress. This formula contains shea butter and only needs to be on skin a few seconds to work its magic. Towel-dry and get dressed because your skin is already hydrated. Blessed praise! P.S. There are three versions of this product for different severities of skin dryness, and the fragrance varies as well - I rec the Smooth Replenishing version, but they're all aces in my book.  

I'm East Indian, but that hardly means that I'm okay with looking pale all winter long. I'm an occasional dabbler when it comes to self-tanning efforts (I like testing products more than I like incorporating them into my daily routine), so I usually just rely on makeup to warm up my complexion. That changed last year when this product launched. This wonderful little bottle contains a fluid that you can mix in to your usual moisturizer. A few drops of this booster effectively turns your standard skin hydrator of choice into a perfect, subtle self-tanner with minimal smell (and I mean really minimal, no DHA stench situation here), no streaking, no staining and no tell-tale orange colour. You just look a little healthier than you did the day before. It's gradual, buildable and super easy to use, with little to no chance of breakouts because you're mixing it with your usual skincare. Sidebar: Clarins is launching a body version of this product in the spring, so I'm preparing to replace all gradual tanners for my limbs with the body version when it launches! 

As you may know, I'm not a fan of face primers. I usually find them to be too silicone-y, and just sort of generally suffocating on my skin. I had the joy of eating these words and feelings the other day when I was at a preview for Rodial's new makeup range that will be debuting in Canada this spring. There were actually many products that jumped out at me, namely Eye Sculpt and Glamolash XXL (which I've also been loving this month), but this primer's texture and effect were tremendous without that heavy silicone sensation. The formulation for this primer is heavily derived from Rodial's Dragon's Blood line, which is full of hyaluronic acid to plump skin and diminish fine dehydration lines. I believe this will be at Murale/ for $40 in March (though it's likely it'll land a little earlier than the official launch date). Skin looks like the most perfected canvas, even without makeup being applied on top. Definitely one to try out when it launches! 

Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara

Maybelline Canada's lead makeup artist, Grace Lee, said this was her new love when unveiling this mascara backstage at Toronto Fashion Week, so I impatiently waited for December to roll around when it was apparently launching. The rollout was a bit slow, but well worth the wait! This wand deposits a lot of product onto lashes and then does a brilliant job of separating lashes out for a seriously fanned-out effect. The formula is inky black and honestly, a little on the liquid side for my liking, but I imagine it'll be perfect once it dries out a bit. I already have a backup of this mascara on deck, which is a testament to how much I love the look it helps me attain. Another drugstore mascara home run for Maybelline! 

This was a Sabrina-fuelled buy, and I am so grateful to her for swatching and reviewing several shades from this range. Her advice to apply this balm with a lip brush is extremely helpful, so I have to insist you heed that advice if you give this balm a whirl! The colour payoff is much more even with this application method and the level of precision just adds to how great this colour looks on lips. Hydration, natural colour and substantial long wear time (versus other tinted balms) make this worthwhile.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Loving Lately - December 2014

It's a little early, but early is better than late and I have every intention of staying away from my laptop over the next week or so. I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday season! Onto this month's standout products: 

Diptyque Eau Duelle 

I've commented on how I'm not really a gourmand fragrance lover, but I've had my moments where a particular vanilla note captivates my attention without nauseating me. I bought Diptyque's Eau Duelle perfume solid (pictured above, which I dug up from my Instagram circa Feb. 2012) and travel-friendly purse sprays (set of 3) from a Diptyque warehouse sale in NYC in my Parsons days. The perfume solid and travel sprays seem to be unlisted on the Diptyque site currently, so I suppose they were discontinued. If you can track it down, note that the perfume solid has a less spicy aspect to it versus the travel sprays (which are eau de toilette concentrations). The standout notes (at least, to my nose) are cardamom, bergamot, pink pepper, black tea, musk and bourbon vanilla. I've kept the perfume solid in my bag for a little dab every so often this month, as it's a perfect winter scent in my opinion. Tip: if it's too sweet or spicy for your taste, try layering it with another Diptyque scent to mellow it out, such as sandalwood-driven Tam Dao or floral Do Son.

As I wrote this particular product blurb, I was facing a gnarly case of rhinitis, which involved ploughing through boxes of tissues (among other joys, such as cleaning my nasal passages with saline) from nose-blowing.  My parents began to call me Rudolph because my nose was bright red. This balm has saved me a number of times since it launched, and I can't give it enough love. Skin-soothing and reparative vitamin B5 aka panthenol is my nose saviour. Keep this stuff on hand. It's perfect for cuts, nicks, scrapes, burns and generally irritated skin.

Chanel Jardin de Chanel Camélia Rosé Blush

Blush is a personal thing. Some people love vibrant shades, other don't mind blending in a bit more. I find myself identifying with the latter group these days. This blush (probably launching by the time this has gone live - I say that because Chanel Spring hit counters on Christmas Eve last year) is my ideal mauvey nude soft rose nothingness blush, akin to past Chanel stars like Joues Contraste in Rose Dust. The finish is natural satin, no detectable shimmer, but prepare for a higher price tag for this embossed pan ($50 CAD). It'll move fast, so you should too if this is up your alley. 

I begged my brother to get me a far-too-light-but-I-didn't-know-better-then nude Rouge Volupté Shine lipstick for my birthday half a decade ago and have been hooked since. YSL's lip game has been pretty awesome in my eyes for a while, but the last two years have been outstanding. I don't own each iteration of lip product (high gloss shine is not my jam, though I did own a Golden Gloss that I never wore due to gloss grit), but I admire the formulations of YSL's Vernis À Levres, Gloss Volupté, Baby Doll Kiss & Blush, Rouge Pur Couture and Volupté Sheer Candy. The latest addition to the Volupté family is this range of tint-in-oils, designed to be a happy medium between a lip tint and hydrating lip care. The formula is comprised of Apricot Kernel Oil, Coriander Fruit Oil, Jojoba Seed Oil, and Possiflora Edulis Seed Oil for moisture and shine without any stickiness whatsoever. If you're after pigmentation, go for the Vernis À Levres or Gloss Volupté formulas, but personally, I love the super subtle nature of this product range. Some people seem to be put off by the lack of pigment, but I just view it as a type of gloss I can finally embrace wholeheartedly without rage over my hair sticking to my lips or a weird residue being left behind. 

Have I raved about this scent? I'm sure I have. I find it to be an invigorating scent as far as fruity floral citrus stuff goes, and this shower gel interpretation is getting me through winter doldrums quite effortlessly. The Fresh shower and bath gel formula is quite possibly my favourite, and has been since my dear Colour Theory professor at Parsons (who is a graphic designer at Fresh) shared her goodie bag from an LVMH holiday party with the class. She insisted I take two items since I was such a beauty fan (I tied most projects to the beauty realm), and I picked this shower gel (in the Citron de Vigne scent) and a Dior gloss. The gloss was a fleeting interest, but I couldn't get enough of this shower gel! The formula contains shea butter as well as vitamins C and E for soft skin and a bit of a lingering scent. Even if you aren't into this scent, definitely check out the other options available in this formulation, because it's bound to be a welcomed addition in a winter shower routine. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Review: Glossier Phase 1 Set

In my usual overzealous manner, as soon as Glossier (rhymes with "dossier") dropped in October, I had to try it. 

Okay. No. I didn't have to try it, but I wanted to. The idea that these products essentially came into existence based on trends derived from a beauty website's user feedback and comments (ITG, I love y'all) was enough to captivate my attention. It's a hyper-modern way to create a product, not unlike a school project I just wrapped that zeroed in on "cool hunting" aka essentially just finding a gap in the market based on feedback. Not to go all Porter's Five Forces on you, but as saturated as the beauty game is, there is always room for improvement and new players, as high as barriers to entry may be.  

I purchased the Phase 1 set ($80, pictured above), which isn't exactly a value grab ($1 discount versus buying the products individually, oh boy!), but I wanted to try everything in one go. It was a bit of effort and a wait to get the products. Shoutout to Glossier for (possibly unknowingly) accepting Canadian credit cards through their ecomm site, and to my big brother Sanj for a) accepting all the shit I have shipped to his US address and b) bringing this set home from NYC for me to try out and review! 

Glossier launched with four products, which make up the Phase 1 set:

My initial impressions of each product, respectively: 
  • Is this actually just Aquaphor?
  • This is refreshing!
  • Aren't all moisturizers priming? This name seems to "add" a trait to the product that is always inherently there, whether consumers realize it or not. 
  • Ooh, diamond powder is in this! 
Ingredients list - BalmDotCom
After my first day of messing with the products, I was quite smitten with BalmDotCom ($12 US), which contains castor seed oil, lanolin, beeswax, and cupuacu fruit extract. Oh and the first ingredient is petrolatum, so I wasn't exactly off the mark with that Aquaphor comment. Given that petrolatum is the first ingredient, you're probably paying too much for it in this tube. I'd say take your money and grab a tube of Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask. Petrolatum aside, I was into this balm until I scrubbed my lips with a damp towel at the end of the day. The product effectively built up on my mouth, not entirely penetrating my lips. It's still protective against elements, which I feel I can never get enough of these days, so I will be mindful of how much I apply. It's more of an overnight treatment or beginning of the day product, one that I've learned to hold back from reapplying due to that buildup experience.  

Ingredient list - Soothing Face Mist
In regards to the Soothing Face Mist ($18 US), I've only committed to face mists for air travel (Caudalie's was a go-to for a trek to Australia), and occasionally softening the look of powder makeup, but those darn Glossier glowing, healthy #skinisin pics won me over. I actually love this spray. It smells so pretty with rosewater, aloe,  glycerin, and two types of honeysuckle extract all working together so well to refresh and hydrate skin. This one's a year-round keeper. 

Ingredient list - Priming Moisturizer

The Priming Moisturizer ($25 US) definitely contains good stuff (aloe vera extract, hyaluronic acid, shea butter, glycerin, camellia extract, honey extract, rooibos tea.... And that's just what I could gather without googling all the Latin ingredient names in the list). It contains silicone, with the tenth ingredient being phenyl trimethicone, in a fairly long list, as you can see on the Glossier site or in the pic I snapped. I know 'cones are hard to dodge and they probably contribute to the "primer" aspect of this product to some degree (this one apparently prevents skin from losing water by creating a barrier on the skin's surface); I also know my skin doesn't always take well to them. I found the moisturizer to be lightweight, but still substantial enough to stand up to frigid temperatures. It didn't cause me to break out and my skin drank it up, so I can understand why they would dub this moisturizer as a buildable product. I also found this hydrator to be runny as all hell, practically falling out of the tube every time I unscrewed the cap and was holding the tube upright. A little fluid to be dubbed "crème", but that's just my 2 cents. This is no Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré texture, so if that specific texture is your cup of tea, steer clear of this. The moisturizer has no detectable fragrance, so that's always good for the sensitive-skinned or fragrance averse. 

Ingredient list - Perfecting Skin Tint

Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint in "Dark" - Swatched (L) and blended (R)

Last but not least, the Perfecting Skin Tint ($26 US). The tint is offered in three colours (light, medium, dark, and Dark was my pick for my Phase 1 set), and I don't think I need to say much about how strange that is given the array of skintones that exist on this planet (or even just in the Top Shelf subjects that ITG has covered), but hey, it's an indie beauty brand and you have to start somewhere. Glossier has dubbed this skin tint as an imperceptible wash of colour for skin that occupies the space between bare skin and makeup. When I saw it was water-based, I instantly thought of the Face & Body foundation formulas from MAC and Make Up For Ever. This is more similar to MAC's, with a fraction of the coverage. I say that because there is no coverage. It is literally a tint, which is probably appealing to many, though not quite a fit with my lifestyle. If you know me, you know that I'm a foundation-a-day-keeps-the-blues-away kinda person. I love perfected skin, and even thought I have reasonably good skin, this product doesn't offer enough coverage for my liking. That's perfectly fine though! It's ideal for weekends when I'm taking my makeup wear down a notch, and for any and all vacay situations that call for light makeup (if any). The tint is watery and lends a luminosity to skin (probs that diamond powder at play!), making it easy to apply (fingers work best, I feel, as brushes make drink the product) and worth the effort.

Swatched: Glossier Priming Moisturizer,
Glossier BalmDotCom, Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint

So there are my thoughts on the initial product offerings of Glossier. I tip my hat to (former super intern of The Hills fame) Emily Weiss for creating such a strong brand in such a clever way. I find ITG and Glossier so fascinating in terms of how one feeds the other - crazy appealing stuff for a marketing kid! 

The packaging is clean and minimal in white with shades of light pink. This can all be flipped to be quite busy since stickers are sent along to adorn the packaging with. I haven't touched my stickers because I like the packaging as it is -- feminine without fuss. 

If you have specific questions about the products, holler at me in the comments or on Twitter/Instagram @poonamkb!