Saturday, April 4, 2015

Loving Lately - March 2015

March has been a busy month leading into the homestretch of the semester, which I'm now fully in the midst of. Products I've relied on have been highly functional, straight-forward and unfussy. Let's hop to it.

I rotate through different concealers all the time, but this one has held a spot in my makeup routine quite firmly all month. I'm a fan of UD Naked Skin Foundation, so I'm not surprised I like this concealer (also a fan of the UD Naked Skin Ultra Definition Powder Foundation), as it brings the same natural-looking coverage to the table. I've actually been applying a swipe of this on each section of my skin after a heavy dose of moisturizer and then buffing in with a duo-fibre brush (Real Techniques Stippling Brush) and it's just enough coverage for an everyday look. I have both "Medium-Dark Neutral" and "Medium-Dark Warm" and must note that the neutral shade is noticeably darker than the warm shade. Also, the neutral shade is too pink for my liking, so I don't use it without mixing it with another concealer (usually with a shade or two of NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer that I have that happen to be too yellow in undertone). If you're a person who sticks to spot-concealing with a little bit of powder to set, this is a sound option to explore. The shade range isn't massive, so if you have tricky skin to match, definitely try before committing to the buy. 

Chanel Stylo Eyeshadow in "Caroube" (on counters May 4th) 

Summer beauty collections are trickling in and Chanel's features a bunch of new shades of the Stylo Eyeshadow formula that I believe first launched with the Papillon d'Ete summer collection two years ago. The shades then were more about blues, greens and one killer black shade. This summer collection features five new shades, and Caroube, described as a luminous warm brown, has been my go-to shadow for a few weeks now. The formula is less shimmery than any Illusion d'Ombre shadow I've encountered, and the formula is delightfully cool on the lids when applied. These set fairly quickly, so work fast to blend the shadow in! My way to avoid shadow setting before I've buffed it out with a fluffy synthetic shadow brush is to apply it in smaller sections instead of attacking the whole lid at once. The look is still cohesive, soft and so pretty. 

I was so committed to Armani Brow Maestro (and still really appreciate the formula as a whole!!), but it felt really time-consuming and one day, I just strayed. I actually rediscovered Tom Ford Brow Sculptor in "Taupe" in my stash and immediately started using it again. The colour is delightfully cool-toned and great to run through the front of brows for soft definition. It's not great for precision (even with its handy dandy built-in sharpener), so I use it in conjunction with Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Brow Pen in "Dark". This pen gives me ultimate control with the ability to draw in "hairs" wherever I need'em. I set everything with Maybelline Brow Drama, which is the best darn drugstore brow gel, period. 

After I returned from Dominican, my skin freaked out pretty aggressively, resulting in a cystic breakout on my forehead that I began to refer to as "The Volcano". It never surfaced per se, but it was painful and basically left my forehead deformed. Everything I would normally use (La Roche-Posay's Redermic [R] and Effaclar Duo+) wasn't doing anything for me, so I started freaking out. Then Amanda, the IDI's star skin whisperer, introduced me to this product. Instead of benzoyl peroxide (towel bleacher!) and salicylic acid, this formula contains antibacterial colloidal silver and lactic acid to address skin woes. It works really well and cools off breakouts thanks to a menthol-type ingredient. Glad to have a trusty spot treatment on hand! 

Burberry has been changing Canadian distribution plenty since pulling out of Holts (I heard Tom Ford Beauty snapped up the Burberry counter spaces with the exception of the Vancouver location). The beauty range can be found in Burberry boutiques across Canada aka basically nowhere except Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. I grilled the store associates about increased counter presence in department stores and they said that the range will be carried at Nordstrom (currently only in Calgary's Chinook Centre) as the department store continues to gradually roll out in Canada. Glad to hear this! Also discovered that the brand's full beauty range hit last week. I learned about these lipsticks from the Clarins PR team, but decided to seek them out IRL to try the formula. This shade is one of four signature shades in the new lipstick range, but there are lots of options available. I am apparently never in possession of enough nude-rose-pink lipsticks, so I bought this lipstick. For the price point ($36 CAD), I am super pleased with the formula and can envision myself wearing this embossed bullet down to its base. Your mileage may very, but I find the lipstick formula is super comfortable, lasts a long time without reapplying and the colour is sublime for everyday wear. I appreciate the magnetic packaging, the reflective case (I use the lid as mirror if I ever do reapply) and the hydrating formula (features tea, lavender, rosehip). 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Sunny Destination Travel Essentials

I was fortunate to escape the cold for 7 days this month to scurry off to SamanĂ¡ in Dominican Republic with my boyfriend. Pretty sure the cold snap ended as soon as we left, but the tropical weather in SamanĂ¡ was a welcomed reprieve after the unfathomably cold winter we just endured in Toronto.

As I mentioned in my last post, I planned on packing mostly sunscreens; I wound up only wearing makeup two nights of the entire trip. Here are the products I donned daily to protect against the sun during the day and rehydrate at night.

I like sunscreen oils, which were barely a category up until a couple years ago. Traditionally, oil + sun = human roast, but that's not the case anymore. Last summer, I wrote about L'Oreal's Sublime Sun SPF Oil and how much I adored it, and I think I actually might like this Supergoop! version more. It's a bittersweet discovery though, because I don't even know if it's possible to get it in Canada without paying an arm/leg + duties. Fun fact: I did some digging and can confirm that Supergoop! is reformulating and repackaging to meet the stringent rules we have in Canada regarding sun protection, but will be relaunching in due time this year. On with the review: I find the Supergoop! version dries down much faster than the L'Oreal oil and it just feels like moisturizer, no sunscreen residue or even oily residue at all, since the formula absorbs quickly. The formula is full of antioxidants to fight off free radical damage that sun exposure causes, and meadowfoam hydrates skin beautifully. The 1 oz size was included in last spring's Sephora Sun Safety kit, so it was perfect to take along and try out last week. I'll definitely be stocking up on my next trip to the states. Semi-related sidebar rave-rant: I love Supergoop!'s SPF wipes and curse the day they were discontinued.

Shiseido Wetforce Ultimate Sun Protection Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ For Face/Body

This sunscreen's technology is remarkable in that it actually improves its ability to protect skin against sun damage when wet aka it works the exact opposite of every traditional sunscreen lotion or spray that's ever graced the marketplace. Negatively charged ions in the formula bond with positively charged ions in the water (such as calcium and magnesium deposits) to then spread the SPF over the skin’s surface, improving its efficacy. I was pretty big on being in the shade, but did hit the water and was sure to liberally apply this sunscreen before doing so. Note: just because efficacy improves with water exposure doesn't mean you should skip out on reapplying!

Having unevenly pigmented lips means sun exposure makes the uneven pigment even more exaggerated. No thanks. Swiped this on repeated throughout the day to avoid shade deepening (SPF 30!) and keep lips moisturized (vitamin E, sunflower extract). Fancier alternative: Fresh Sugar lip balms (which have an SPF of 15), but frankly, they melt like a snow cone in Phoenix when in high temperatures.

Honestly? I picked up a 0.5 oz bottle of this from Sephora, thinking I would use it in my hair while away. I tried it and absolutely hated the results. Luckily, this stuff can also be used on skin so I switched to using it after scrubbing away all the sunscreen and it was awesome. The floral smell is really strong so smell before committing to the purchase, but it didn't overwhelm my senses and the blend of argan, grape and sesame oils was just what my skin wanted. Great size for travel and a little goes a long way.

Airplane Essentials:

I used to fly to Halifax from Toronto or Hamilton throughout undergrad and then between Toronto and New York all the time during post-grad, but my skin was never really bothered. Now I can't seem to get through an hour of flying without digging into my Ziploc of products to apply one thing or another. I flew with zero makeup this time around and while it was a bit disorienting to catch my own reflection on a shiny surface and not entirely recognize my own bare face out and about in broad daylight, it was definitely more conducive to applying and reapplying the following products every hour on the hour to SamanĂ¡ and back.

I've harped on about this product too many times to count on this blog and that's because it is WONDERFUL. My skin has a tendency to flake in the winter and that had reached a breaking point by the time we boarded our flight. When in makeup, I can't really make a point of slathering on a layer of this magical cream every time I would like to, so I took advantage of my makeup-free face and put this stuff on throughout the flight to keep any and all flakes at bay.

This product is an editor favourite and I didn't get the hype at first, and frankly, I'm not even sure that I've seen a major difference in my skin, but man, I felt the difference when it was abnormally warm in the plane cabin and spritzed this refreshing fluid onto my face. It was invigorating and reenergizing in a wonderful way. The formula is full of white tea and licorice extract to fight against signs of aging while pea extract gives skin a flash-firming effect. It was a skin treat, straight-up.

No, one lip balm is never enough. Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Lipair is cooling and minty, with a lot of oils in the formula (babassu seed oil, avocado oil, jojoba seed oil, coconut oil, and pomegranate seed oil) as well as shea butter, but it still is no match for airplane dryness! I topped off the aforementioned balm with Rodial's thick, semi-goopy (but not necessarily sticky) Glam Balm, which is full of hyaluronic acid, rose wax and vitamin E to really seal moisture in.

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.