Friday, October 31, 2014

Holiday Beauty Buys 2014

I suppose it's Halloween, so that means Starbucks Christmas cups will probably roll out on Saturday morning and The Bay will add twinkle lights to the pine trees they already have erected in their store aisles in the blink of an eye *sighs deeply*. Holiday media previews were held this summer as always and I've had time to process what's out there and worthwhile to snap up this season. Read on for gorgeous beauty buys this holiday season - for you and your loved ones!



This set of limited edition shrunken cream shadow sticks is exclusive to Sephora and is actually completely sold out online, but I found plenty in stock at Sephora locations in Toronto, so it's bound to still be available in other locations throughout Canada -- spare yourself the legwork and call around before heading out to grab it.  EDIT Nov. 3rd, 2014: this set's back in stock on sephora.ca right here!

I hadn't tried this range of shadow sticks in 4-5 years, so I did grab this set on a semi-whim, but I've worn it daily since I did so I can say I'm very fond of the finish, staying power and neutral shades of this set. The highlight shades (Rosegold and Moonlight) still have a bit of warmth to them (nothing I detest more than a stark, cool-toned highlight shade) and the Amethyst and Cocoa shades worn together make a lightning fast smudgy-sexy eye. The full-size Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye is 0.05 oz for $34 CAD. This set is $46 CAD for 0.12 oz, so the value is quite apparent on a per ounce basis and you get 4 shades to play with. Score!



No holiday is complete without the presence of Fresh, the brand's lip balms in particular. Each year, a flurry of gift sets hit the shelves from Fresh and each year, value is tremendous for the quality of product you get. This set of Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment SPF 15 lip balms pretty much sets you up for the year, if not longer, as it contains 7 mini lip balms, each a different wearable shade (one for each purse/coat pocket to tide you through winter!). The formula contains black currant, vitamins A, C, E, and SPF to nourish and protect lips year-round. This set is a fantastic way to try out a slew of different shades of this beloved lip balm and figure out which is your fave to repurchase down the road in a full size format (I'm partial to Honey and Petal myself). Warning: these balms can be breakable/smushable in warm weather, but methinks we won't have to worry about that any time soon here in Canada.......... :)


Benefit has a pretty strong boxed blush game (I mentioned my personal favourite Benefit boxed powder in a post not too long ago!), so if a bunch of their boxed powders are housed in a single offering, I recommend you commit to the purchase! This is a wonderful mix of shades that actually run the gamut of blush, bronzer and highlighters, so your cheeks are beyond taken care of. These powder pans aren't the full-size amounts, but consider all the sets I've mentioned so far as an economical way to try a variety of shades of a particular formula without breaking the bank. The value is pretty solid here; a full-size boxed powder is $36 CAD for 0.25 oz of product whereas this set is $43 CAD for 0.94 oz of product (this includes the little Watt's Up cream highlighter). Well worth a purchase!

Clé de Peau Beauté Holiday Coffret


Hustle to Holts for this one, y'all. I mentioned this palette in my September faves, and I will say this again - it's a gorgeous and very wearable palette packaged up with a mini Extra Rich lipstick and full-size Perfect Mascara, making this a really lovely set (for yourself or someone awesome) at the $200 price tag. Did we all pause and reflect on how gorgeous this celestial holiday packaging is? It's a luxe little treat. 

Jo Malone Cologne Intense Collection


'Tis the season for warm, cozy perfumes, and the Jo Malone Cologne Intense range is the perfect addition to all the wintery layers you'll be piling on each time you step outside. The collection is decidedly richer and deeper than the original Jo Malone fragrances, so it's definitely geared towards those who appreciate a more complex fragrances. This coffret set is an excellent way to explore the range of Cologne Intense scents, including 0.3 oz each of Tuberose Angelica, Velvet Rose & Oud, Saffron, Dark Amber & Ginger Lily, and Oud & Bergamot for $150.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Loving Lately - October 2014

I wrote this a couple weeks ago and never got around to posting it...reading week (and actually being quasi-productive during said stretch of time) got in the way! Without further ado, let's move on to the awesome:

Emjoi Micro Nail 


I have been a fan of Emjoi's Micro Pedi for a little over a year now. I was first introduced to it at EGPR's Essentials Lounge 4 in fall 2013 during TIFF. It presented a very fast, convenient method for smoothing rough heels, so it's been a tool I've used a ton since receiving one. This past September, I was able to try Emjoi's Micro Nail, which is a automated nail buffer and shiner. This thing rotates 1800 times per minute, so the buffing roller smooths out ridges and leaves the surface of your nails ready for the second roller, which polishes them to a shiny finish. It's actually bewildering to see how shiny you can get your natural nails without the use of any products, just this tool. It's hitting stores during the holiday season here in Canada, so keep an eye out for it. It's great for anyone who isn't into manicures due to the high maintenance nature of the whole process, but does like the look of a clear coat.


I've never been drawn to loose powder foundation formulas; they're hard to travel with, messy to use generally speaking (unless you're a fan of powder all over your vanity) and usually are mineral-based, meaning bismuth skin itch settles in shortly after applying. Leave it to Chanel to change how I feel about the entire category of loose powder foundation! First of all, Chanel's original retractable kabuki brush is one of my favourite brushes of all time, so to have a mini version of it included with this foundation is definitely a value-add for me. I can't say enough good about this super-soft and supple brush. It's just a joy to use. The foundation formula itself is housed in genius packaging with a lid that has a stopper of sorts to prevent powder from releasing unnecessarily. To release the powder, keep the lid screwed on, turn the entire container upside down, tap on the bottom a couple times and you're good to go. The foundation isn't itchy on skin, but rather comfortable. I've been wearing this to school for light to medium semi-radiant coverage, so it's been excellent for daily wear, even with shifting temperatures.


When I first read in WWD that J.Crew was delving into the fragrance realm (Who isn't these days - get those incremental sales, fashion brands!), I thought the scents wouldn't be as unique as they've turned out to be. To my delight, No. 31 and No. 57 are very distinctive fragrances that are exactly in line with their inspiration, which was Exhibition by 31 Women, the first all-female modern art show in the US, held in New York City, curated by Peggy Guggenheim in 1943. I am definitely more into the Bulgarian rose, oakmoss and red vermouth elements of No. 31, which are so warm and inviting on my skin, and it lasts for ages (I believe these are EDT concentrations, so 6-8 hours of wear time I get from a quick dab of this scent is outstanding). If you're a fan of Elizabeth & James Nirvana Black or any other sandalwood-driven scent, No. 57 is probably more up your alley. The bottles are pretty, but I'm more of a rollerball person these days, as no fragrance is in rotation for too long in my life.


I've been trying to diligently get to bed early to accommodate how early I need to rise on certain days of the week. Luckily, I've never had issues getting up early, but that doesn't necessarily mean my skin looks as well-rested as I feel (shoutout to calcium magnesium with vitamin D for proper rest!). The eye area is the first to make me look exhausted, so this gel has been a nightly treat for my eyes. The trick is to use it sparingly -- every time I use too much, I can feel my lower lid stick to itself, which is a really weird and undesirable sensation. By morning, fine lines are significantly diminished, making concealer that much less time-consuming to apply.





I actually came across this specific shade when I received NUDESTIX GILTYLOVE Holiday Eye Kit after meeting the brand founders, Ally, Taylor and Jenny at Sephora Eaton Centre for a blogger event. I love the blendability of this pencil, and it has a subtle sheen that doesn't overwhelm the whole face, as I've been steering clear of anything too shimmery or loud for a while now. The whole range is very wearable and user-friendly, with a lot of flexibility in how the products can be worn. Sidebar: There's a NUDESTIX lip pen launching soon, in both soft matte and shiny gloss finishes -- the matte versions are comfortable and lovely for a diffused wash of colour or bold lips alike so check them out when they hit stores!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Loving Lately - September 2014

Hello, friends.

I am writing this post in a haze of mental exhaustion. I just started my MBA and the last 3-4 weeks have been a very firm and real adjustment of schedules, sleep, priorities and stress factors. Cortisol is at an all-time high in my body - seriously, stress rashes and hives are a thing I had the displeasure of experiencing during orientation - and feeling energetic or well-rested is a fleeting memory, but I'm actually enjoying my classes I'm in, so yay for me! On the flip-side, I'm quietly cursing the TTC commute. Here are products that have made me either look or feel less dead lately. High praise for everything mentioned below!



Essential oils have always seemed a touch hippy-dippy for my liking, but when I went to the NKPR IT Lounge during TIFF this year, a brand representative rolled Peppermint Halo all over my shoulders and neck area and the tingling delight was quick to set in and remain for probably a solid hour or so after the fact. It felt like a tension release without having to actually do anything, except use a rollerball. Pretty simple stuff. This set is dubbed a pocket pharmacy because several ailments can be addressed with the five rollerball minis enclosed in this pouch. The set comes with an instruction manual, explaining the benefits of each essential oil and where to specifically apply them on the body for maximum benefit. A superb little kit to keep on hand.


I know, I know, another oil-based foundation. To be honest, I've tried every iteration that's come out from L'Oreal and they're all pretty excellent. I generally felt the biggest difference was actually the shade range, not much else....until this YSL version launched. It's slightly more geared towards oily skintypes, which I certainly don't have, but I'm finding it to be the perfect texture for September weather, when it's chilly early and late at night (anyone else feeling their skin get a little drier?), but temperatures still hit the 20s, which can cause a slight spike in sebum production (at least in my skin). It manages to stay velvety matte pretty much no matter what. I also love the original oil wonder, Armani Maestro, but it definitely gives a far less matte finish than this formula. I wear shade B60, which seems a bit dark and warm for me, but blended out, it's a pretty spot-on match. It's definitely not full coverage - more medium, I'd say - but I do get at least 14 hours of wear out of it, so I have zero complaints about longevity in my experience.


I can't say this liner itself is groundbreaking, but it does apply with the utmost ease imaginable as far as waterline application goes, and it's a dream to tightline with. No brush, no fuss, no mess - just a simple glide of the pencil. A downside to this product is that it's supposedly only 17-20 uses in each cartridge (this can be purchased as a single unit, or in a set of 3 pencils - all obsidian black in colour). I have to beg to differ, because I've been using the single pencil since the product launched a few months ago, and I have yet to hit the end of it. It transfers to the waterline a bit when I tightline with it, but I don't particularly care about that. I don't find that it runs, smudges or smears, so it stays in the rotation. 

Blush, Blush, Blush


I probably pile on more cheek colours than apparent to the naked eye, but that's because I'm a big fan of natural, second-skin blushes. The term "nude blush" just seems silly, but I maintain these products have been one of the biggest saving graces I've had in my arsenal to prevent me from looking like the living dead on campus and in transit. I like that these shades sort of serve as both a blush/highlighter all at once, since there's a sheen or subtle shimmer to all of these (minus the CdP palette). I also like that these colours create an understated contrast against my skin, as I evidently am at odds with brighter makeup these days. 
Go-to shades, from the top right moving clockwise:
- Benefit Dallas - I've developed a significant dip in this boxed powder, it's been in rotation for years
- Joe Fresh Shimmer Powder Blush in "Radiant Rosette" - $6 steal, people! Pigmented but not scarily so!
- Lorac Velvet Rope - a bit more on the mauvey plummy rose side
- Edward Bess Quad Royale in "Summer in Capri" - definitely more of a highlight or for super low-key days
- Clé de Peau Beauté's cheek/eye palette from their Holiday 2014 Makeup Coffret (minus the included lipstick and mascara, which are both lovely) - This was love at first swatch. I've been using the whole palette (how often can you say that about a palette? That you use the whole thing?!) pretty frequently, as a couple shadows and a hit of blush are about as elaborate as my makeup gets these days. Available in October at Holts.

I hope everyone has had a marvelous month. Fall is a brief stopover on the way to winter hell, but I'm gonna try my best to enjoy it and I suggest you do the same!




Saturday, August 23, 2014

Lovely Lately - August 2014

Summer is winding down to everyone's dismay, and I'm not exempt from that sadness! I say this so often that it's nearly lost all meaning, but I truly have no idea where the time has gone. The past few months were pretty fantastic, so that's probably why they flew by, right?

I've worn significantly less makeup lately than ever before (with the exception of weddings, in which case, more is more), but that doesn't mean I am lacking favourite products to share with y'all. I now realize this is also a bit of a fall preview of sorts, since most of these products have yet to hit stores, but here are the products I couldn't imagine getting through August without! 

Deborah Lippman Dear Mr. Fantasy


I spotted this at the Murale Fall 2014 Preview and flipped out. It is my absolute dream colour for nails, as it's a vibrant purple-fuschia with a shimmer shot through, so it looks like glowing satin when applied. It's kind of crazy how much I love this shade and I'm going to buy all the bottles I can manage when it hits shelves. This is backup-worthy in my books. Lancôme has a similar shade or two in their fall collection (Vernis In Love in "Amethyste Brune" and "Topaz Rose"), so check those out if you can't stand to wait for this one (launching in October 2014, I believe).



This is technically a relaunched product, but that doesn't make it less worthy of your attention. The formula was updated to now fight acne marks left on skin post-breakout. It actually prevents your skin from forming pigmentation where a breakout existed. Science! It can be used as an overall facial moisturizer (it wears well under makeup) or localized spot treatment. It's proved to be useful to me in fighting clogged pores and breakouts alike this summer, so I highly recommend it. I have a soft spot for most LRP products, and this is just another example of the brand's offerings surpassing my expectations. Snap this up at Shoppers or Rexall, y'all, as it's a product to keep on hand, which I find to be true of most LRP products.


Dior DiorSkin Star Concealer


This concealer isn't hitting counters until next week, but I urge you to scoop it up once it does. I've been living out of a bag for one reason or another lately, taking mini trips here and there to visit family (mine and my bf's) and I also live across from a very major construction site that seems to pride itself on breaking every Toronto by-law regarding noise pollution and construction start and end times *sighs deeply*, so suffice it to say that sleep has been inconsistent as can be the past few weeks. This concealer is a godsend for effective (medium to full) coverage of undereye darkness and it doesn't crease or settle into fine lines, even after hours of wear. I believe it's available in 5 shades, so do check it out if you're at all plagued by anything that robs you of sleep! 



L to R: Roly Poly Rosy, Robust Rhubarb

Expanding on their Chubby Stick business was just good sense for Clinique, as they have had wild success with their various lip iterations and their eyeshadow version. I am more of a cheek product fanatic than I realized, owning more blush, contour colours and highlighters than I care to admit to, but these are a welcomed addition to my stash. The stick factor automatically means portable and easy to apply - dab it on, blend it out with a synthetic brush or finger tips and you're on your way. My favourite aspect of this product is easily the subtle sheen these blushes give skin, thanks to microfine shimmers in the formula that don't settle in pores. Rejoice! 


Armani Eye & Brow Maestro and Maybelline Brow Drama


I haven't changed my brow routine much at all since this post, but I'm always open to straying from my old faithfuls to try new formulations and product types. I've dabbled in potted brow products before, starting with Laura Mercier Brow Definer in "Warm" maybe four years ago. It's a good formula, but it didn't give me the lasting power or slightly bolder colour payoff I was looking for. Upon first application of this Armani product, a hybrid brow and eye colour (wear it through brows, as eyeliner or as an eyeshadow), I was sold. The shade range for this product leans to the cool side, as I feel most brow products ought to, but the shade I have (shade 2, "Wenge Wood") has a barely visible reddish shimmer shot through. This makes sense to me, because hair is reflective in nature, so matte-finish potted brow products (looking at you, Anastasia Dipbrow Pomade) don't make sense to me. They really look painted on, instead of enhancing your brows. This product will be hitting Armani counters in the fall, so wait patiently if this is at all piquing your interest. If you have particularly unruly brows, you'll probably still want to use a brow gel in addition to this cream brow colour. My fave these days is Maybelline Brow Drama in "Dark Brown", launching in the fall in Canada, but I believe it's available in other markets already. Drugstore brow gel at its finest! 




On a semi-related note, this lash and brow serum has really made a difference for me in the few weeks I've been using it. Every time a "brow expert" would look at my brows, they would exclaim, "You overplucked these areas!" and would demand I grow out the sparse areas I have on the outer top edge of both my brows. Like the dry person I am, I would flatly say, "I didn't pluck them this way, they've been like this since birth, so... any other suggestions?" No one suggested any specific brow growth product, so I tried this one and I'm happy with the results. My sparse spots have grown in considerably, which has made filling them in less of a challenge. Creating a good shape on a daily basis has become a simpler task and more of a joy when people see me and compliment me on my brows. Bless the peptide blend in this silver tube. It has done wonders for me. My lashes have also seemed longer and more fluttery, which I am absolutely NOT mad at.

Anyone want to share their faves of the last month or few? Do tell!