Monday, July 14, 2014

Weekend Roadtrip Essentials

I headed up north to Muskoka this past weekend for the first time in nine years. Here's a handful of products I found indispensable during my stay! 

Gillette Venus Snap

How cute is this thing?! When I first saw it, I sort of thought, "How hard can it be to pack a razor and a handle instead of using this little thing?" But the case of this shaver has proven to be pretty practical when traveling this summer. This shaver is around $17, fits any Venus razor (it comes with one when you buy it) and the case is aerated, so your razor will dry properly even if you have to pack up immediately after using it. These types of things matter to me, as a razor that stays in a wet environment can harbour bacteria. Handy dandy hair removal!

La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Baume B5

This stuff is an all-around do-gooder. It's a product to keep on hand, because once you do, you'll find endless uses for it. It speeds up healing, thanks to vitamin B5, making it practical for cuts, scrapes, burns, dry patches, bug bites, irritated skin....anything that ails your skin will almost inevitably find solace from a dab of this thick cream. I'm on my third tube and it only launched just under a year ago -- testament to a product!

Bath & Body Works White Citrus Travel-size Products

Regardless of where I stay, I don't rely on the room toiletries to give my skin what it wants. Hotel soap is annoyingly drying; body washes definitely are better, but if I'm not into the scent, I'm less likely to use it. I threw these two minis in my bag and they've been in high use since I placed them in the bathroom as soon as we reached. The shower gel removes sunscreen effectively, leaving behind a bit of scent and the lotion builds on the same scent, but neither are cloying. Would pick these two up again in a heartbeat.

L'Oreal Sublime Sun Invisible Protection Oil SPF 50

This is the US version of the Sublime Sun SPF oil that launched here in Canada this year, but I'm pretty sure they're effectively the same product in different packaging with diff SPF levels. I absolutely love this stuff. I bought it on a whim last summer and haven't looked back. The idea of a protective sunscreen oil may seem so counterintuitive after years of people essentially roasting themselves with baby oil (I'm cringing as I type this and thinking of Kramer roasting himself with butter in that ep of Seinfeld), but it actually works very well. This oil is water-resistant, hydrating, non-sticky, absorbs quickly and smells fantastic. The whole Sublime Sun range is, well, sublime (I've been using the BB facial sunscreen and SPF mousse plenty  this summer as well), so be sure to give it a gander next time you're in the drugstore.

The Body Shop Pink Grapefruit Hand Cleanse Gel

This was actually included in a rather thoughtful welcome kit (primarily full of snacks) that each family received as they arrived at the resort this weekend. It was a practical idea. They gave us food, and sanitizing is logical beforehand. Also: weddings mean introductions and handshakes anytime anyone new comes into the picture. Also: I'm Indian. We eat with our hands a lot. Need I say more? I always prefer washing my hands properly with soap and water, but when that's not an option at any given moment, this'll do, and I really like the citrusy slap this hand sanitizer gives me.

Also pictured: prescription sunglasses with polarized lenses, because boating/driving can do a number on the eyes. Don't forget to wear shades for UV protection!

I can't believe how quickly the summer is going, as it's already mid-July. I hope everyone is enjoying it as much as possible! Wear lots of sunscreen and have fun, y'all!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Loving Lately - June 2014

I suppose this is a bit early, but I think I can confidently say the following products have been in high rotation the past few weeks and I don't see that changing in the next week, so off we go with June faves. Happy summer, y'all !

I always have a couple face brushes on the go for foundation/concealer application, and this one has been my most used this month. This brush can be used for buffing and stippling on cream or liquid products for a flawless finish. If you're a paddle foundation brush user, I must insist you try using a buffing brush and less product for a more natural finish than you deemed possible while wearing foundation. As always, love to Samantha Chapman and the Pixiwoo sisters for creating the content and products that they do!

Okay, apparently pink was a thing for me in June, as these two blushes and the next polish highlight. These two blushes have pretty wonderful levels of pigmentation for drugstore purchases. Application isn't nearly as intimidating or impossible as I imagined it would be; I don't even apply these with a stippling brush! My makeup has been very, very neutral for a while now, so injecting a bit of colour into my routine feels like I'm finally stepping into summer, and it was much overdue.

Ceramic Glaze Exotic Dragon Fruit

I'm pretty sure I've been drawn to hot pink nail colours since I was a toddler, insisting my mom apply "ninnie monish" (how I used to say "nail polish" as a child) to match her nails, and she has always been a hot pink and fuschia fan (clothing, nails, lips -- all pink). I've had this colour for a year now and the bottle is depleted, as it's a colour I reach for repeatedly for hands and feet. It's probably my favourite polish for pedicures, as I wear it, remove it and then reapply it. The colour is bright and has a hint of shimmer to keep it from being boring, and it dries quickly to a matte finish, meaning it's ideal for quick application, finishing with a gel top coat for hyper shine. The whole range of polishes are exclusive to Shoppers, so take a gander next time you're passing through.

After familiarizing myself with the Les Exclusifs range over the holiday season and subsequently finding a high level of appreciation for each scent in the range, I was ecstatic to learn three of the Exclusifs were going to be launched as pure perfumes, or extraits. There's something so quintessentially feminine and ladylike about pure perfume, especially the way it's dabbed onto pulse points sparingly with the crystal stopper. The warmth of the scent as it develops and morphs throughout the day is very much a journey each time. Beige consists of notes of freesia, hawthorne, frangipani and honey, and it wears close to the skin and has excellent longevity versus the eau de parfum concentration.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Loving Lately - May 2014

Another month gone and gorgeous weather is setting in at last. I haven't been using as many products on a regular basis as I usually would, but when I do, I've been reaching for these PLENTY.

Dior Diorlisse Abricot Nail range

When I say range, I mean the whole kitten kaboodle: remover, base coat, ridge filler in "Snow Pink", top coat, nail serum and nail cream (which apparently darkens with oxidization, oh well). Sounds excessive (please see title of blog), but all the products have a pleasant scent paired with ingredients that strengthen and improve the condition of nails. The serum and creme work wonders on cuticles. Can't say enough good about the serum, since it doesn't drip, dribble or make any mess at all. I've been doing less and less colour on my nails (even with summer shades galore all around me), so this is my clean, healthy nail moment and I've been enjoying it!

I used to use two different curlers because I'm actually neurotic to a point of firmly believing my eyes are that differently shaped from each other. Shu Uemura and Tweezerman were the two I used before this lash curler came my way, and I have appreciated how this curler fits both of my eyes brilliantly. It's best suited to anyone with larger eyes, less deep-set eyes, short-lashed people or almond-shaped eyes, so give it a go if you have any of the above and you'll inevitably experience less crimping and pinching than with other curlers.

I'm not a fan of Benefit's They're Real! Mascara at all, but this product was love at first application (which, albeit, was only last Wednesday...), as it is a product that delivers on its claim! This is a matte black gel liner that comes in a twist-up dispensable pen format and it does not budge at ALL once on. It's a drier texture of gel, meaning it doesn't take ages to set (anyone who battles liner transfer to their lids, PAY ATTENTION!) and it's actually waterproof so an oil-based remover is your best friend if you choose to use this liner. It is absolutely excellent for tightlining due to its waterproof nature. Cat or kitten flick enthusiasts will want to try this pen due to ease of flick creation, thanks to the AccuFlex tip. On my first try, with a group of bloggers watching, I achieved a reasonably good kitten flick with one hand, so this is a user-friendly product, without a doubt. Honestly, I don't love the removal process of this liner, but I am so keen on matte black liner that I had to let y'all know about it. It's hitting stores June 27th here in Canada, so do keep your eyes out for it. It's a fantastic product!

Mascara samples

I like being able to try mascaras before buying (who wouldn't?), so mascara samples are probably the most appealing to come across when redeeming points at Sephora or interacting with a sales associate at a counter. That's more or less how I wound up with these four! The Guerlain Maxi Lash and Dior Addict It-Lash samples were from purchases as add-on samples, the Make Up For Ever Smoky Extravagant sample was actually a part of Sephora's VIB Rouge Birthday Gift this year, and the YSL Faux Cils Babydoll sample was from a kind associate at the YSL counter at The Bay Yorkdale. Out of these samples, I'd probably put my money towards YSL or Guerlain full-size versions for a voluminous yet defined lash. I love that the YSL brush is nothing like the other Faux Cils brushes, and it doesn't seem to dry out as quickly, so huge props there. Guerlain Maxi Lash is a well-rounded formula that applies without clumping, allowing me to build up for clean volume.

I bounce around from sunscreen to sunscreen, because as long as I wear one, I'm not particularly fussy about which one I wear. I have been using this formula for a few weeks now and it has become a product I reach for more and more over the other sunscreens that crowd my bathroom vanity. I love the texture (not too fluid), the smell (citrusy!), and that it contains antioxidants and a bit of technology to attract and bind water in the environment to the skin to keep skin hydrated and healthy-looking. That can never hurt, am I right?

May was a real treat, as it was my birthday a couple wks ago and today marks 6 months with a pretty fantastic guy. I'm looking forward to the next few months of warmth, sunshine (with adequate SPF on hand, of course), and spending time with some great people. Hope everyone had a swell month! What've y'all been loving lately?

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Bronzer Bonanza!

I first came across bronzer when I was a tween, rifling through my mom's makeup drawers as per usual (Note: My cosmetic obsession started young. I drew all over my bedroom carpet with my mom's MaxFactor lipstick when I was in preschool...), and it was a Guerlain Terracotta powder, darker than anything I'd ever seen my mom apply to her face. The protective plastic round was still in place on top of the embossed Guerlain symbol, meaning my mother barely touched it. This wasn't too surprising, as being darker isn't in line with Indian cultural beauty norms or values. I, however, am first generation here in Canada, so bronzer and the idea of being tan appealed to me (thank you, media and pop culture) in a pretty serious way, and so began the amassing of bronzers. Here are some I've been applying liberally, willing warmer weather into existence -- and I think it finally worked! :)

This compact is hefty and expensive ($84 for 10 g), but this could very well be the only bronzer you need for year-round use. The powder is split into 4 quadrants (shown in "Natural Brunettes"), which I suppose you can interpret as seasons, the lightest being the shade used in winter and so forth and so on. This range used to be split into just Brunettes (warm tones) and Blondes (cool tones) with two depths for each (light aka "Natural" and medium aka "Moyen"), but last year, two new shades were added - Ebony (darker with a coral blush in one of the quadrants) and Nude (lighter and much more suited to fair skintones [not that that stopped me from buying it] with a lighter pink blush in one quadrant). Variety is there, the pigmentation is excellent and shimmer is minimal (nonexistent in the Brunette and Blonde shades, I believe). Perfect for warming up the complexion at any time of year.

My boyfriend gave this to me for my birthday after I was obsessing over its arrival at Sephora at the beginning of May (which really didn't pan out until mid-May). The motif is glaringly similar to the cover of Watch The Throne, which makes entire sense since Riccardo Tisci designed the album cover and he's the head designer of Givenchy. WTT is one of my favourite albums, so I half-wonder if I was drawn to this in a subliminal way, or if it was because I liked the powder's effect so much. Took the liberty of smushing these two together for your viewing pleasure:

This bronzer is gigantic, and at $71 for 16 g, it may seem like a big purchase, but I must point out it's a significantly better value than the permanent version of this product, which is $55 for just under 7 g. I use it as a blush-bronzer effect and it has a sheen to it (courtesy of very fine shimmer), so it's not one I'd throw on just about anywhere, but it livens up the skin in a gorgeous way. The formula is apparently a baked gel, so ...that's...something. I do like that it doesn't appear heavy or powdery on the skin and a little goes a long way. It was semi-heartbreaking to use the powder and mess up the design, but I gotta USE what I own, y'know? To not use it would be silly. This version only comes in shade #2, but the permanent version is available in 3 other shades if this one isn't your cup of tea.

I just started tinkering with a mini version of this bronzer the other day when I picked up a Sephora Sun Safety Kit. This bronzer has a matte formula that stays put nicely in warm temps that we've had for all of a few days this year, but if you're looking for something sweatproof, please direct your attention to Cargo's Swimmable products! I like the colour because it's dark enough for someone who's already medium to medium-deep (sorry, fair-skinned friends, this one isn't for you, but they do have a light/medium version), so the colour payoff is substantial. I also like the tone of this bronzer, because I do feel that natural tanning (A TOTAL NO-NO!) gives your skin a hint of red tint (which is obviously incredibly unsafe, unhealthy and dangerous), so this colour mimics that without being muddy and obviously in a much safer manner. The value is solid, at 10 g for $38, so apply as liberally as you like!

In terms of preferred brush, I've been using and enjoying the Sigma F25 tapered face brush and it's superb for both contouring (thanks to the taper) and bronzing. If you're perpetually terrified of overdoing it when applying bronzer, then opt for a duo-fibre brush (like the classic MAC 187) to make things a little more foolproof.