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! 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Loving Lately - November 2014

I may not post much, but a monthly faves post is actually something I think about frequently. Doing so forces me to be more present when playing with products and doing my daily face (less so on weekends though, as of late). I'm pushed to stop giving in to anxious thoughts or feelings related to school or general life pressures to instead pause and appreciate how a simple stroke of liner can change and elevate my whole mood, outlook and persona. Magic's in the makeup for me, as always. Onto the best bits:

When I first swatched this cream shadow formula, I was stunned. A tiny dab resulted in an absurd amount of pigment and I froze while staring at my hand because the texture felt so similar to something I had felt before and then it clicked: this formula was an absolute dupe for Tom Ford's limited edition cream shadows (two of which are back on counters for another limited edition run this holiday season). I paid an exorbitant amount on eBay for the Tom Ford "Platinum" shade, but I'm pretty sure I'll save my dollars and stick to this range of metallic shadows because they're awesome. They are longwearing, blendable, have a gorgeous shimmer and are very affordable (exclusive to Walmart). Total steal and they seem like a splurge. I can't say it's shocking that Drew Barrymore married into the family that owns Chanel and is now pedalling cosmetics that are largely inspired by high-end formulations of luxury brands. If anything, it's smart. Good on her and yay for us!

This one's exciting for a couple reasons. Have you ever tried any Cynthia Rowley Beauty products before? No? That's probably because they didn't exist in the Canadian marketplace until recently. Birchbox is the exclusive retailer for Cynthia Rowley Beauty and being able to get my paws on these liners gives way to rather exciting news: Birchbox finally launched in Canada this month! It took about four years for them to finally get up here, but they did and it's pretty exciting stuff for Canadian beauty addicts! Back to this liner: my favourite liquid liners are Dior's Art Pen and Tom Ford's Eye Defining Pen, neither of which is cheap, both of which are awesome. This liquid liner (my faves are cobalt and navy) is definitely more akin to the Dior format, featuring an elongated felt tip that basically draws your liner flicks for you when laid on its side at an angle pointed towards the end of your brow and dragged towards the lash line. Cat eyes for everyone! 

Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Replenishing Moisture Shampoo & Conditioner

Let it be known that basically nothing works well on my hair. I've been frustrated with my hair for as long as I can remember, and it's been irritating me to high heaven lately. It just doesn't do much of anything and it never feels soft or manageable. I have finally come to the end of my Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil Shampoo, which I used like crazy since I only wash my hair once a week, so it's great at cutting through buildup. I have a backup of that stuff ready to roll, and I used it in tandem with Shu Uemura's Moisture Velvet range, which was the most hydrating stuff I'd come across (love you, camellia oil) until I tried this shampoo and conditioner on a whim. I grabbed a couple samples from a Sephora associate and gave it a go, used it a couple weeks and then went back to my usual Shu lineup. My hair felt remarkably dry when I switched back to my usual and I couldn't grasp why until I realized how soft, smooth and hydrated this duo made my hair feel. I snapped up the limited edition shampoo and conditioner set during Sephora's VIB sale earlier this month and am thrilled I did. It's outstanding and I can't recommend it enough to anyone with dry, unruly and hard-to-manage hair.

I think I waited about 20 months for this stuff to launch on this side of the pond, and even so, it's still not available in Canada unless you order online through a US retailer. Silly. I had wanted to try this mascara after seeing Charlotte Tilbury go on and on about all the things this single tube of mascara could do for lashes, including volume, curling, lifting, separating and lengthening. I also remember reading that Tilbury is obsessed with lashes and mascara since she discovered how transformational makeup is so leave it to the obsessive to get a product right. This mascara is lightweight but heavy in impact, with a buildable formula and excellent wand that allows you to build up without globbing on too much product. It's easy on lashes and it doesn't make lashes stiff or brittle at all.

Showering has been elevated from a mundane task to a fragrance dream with this divine shower gel. I've been nursing a bottle of this since it launched and didn't really use it for a while, but the colder it gets, the more I've been reaching for it. The scent of this shower gel is lighter and airier than its eau de parfum or pure perfume counterparts, and it lingers on skin in the best way. I'm definitely a person who wears scent every day, and using this shower gel totally suffices. The fragrance is usually described as a luminous oriental, with notes of jasmine & rose (Chanel's fragrance staples in all they create), tonka bean, vanilla, patchouli and sandalwood. Skin isn't left dry or tight at all, but rather hydrated and silky. Love this so much.

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!