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! 

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!