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.


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 recently wrapped that zeroed in on "cool hunting" a.k.a. essentially 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.

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!


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!


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.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I'm A Fool For Foundation - Part II

Some more foundations faves from yours truly, the foundation hoarder! [peep Part I here]

I was first introduced to this compact foundation when I attended the Murale Spring 2014 preview last November. It was a treat because I was able to meet Victor Casale, a founding partner of the brand who actually was chief chemist and managing director at MAC. Naturally, I didn't realize who the hell I was rambling on to until about halfway through the chat, but we had a solid discussion about powder foundations for women of colour. I expressed that in addition to not necessarily needing a ton of shine control from powder, I didn't really love the ashy cast of powder foundations on my skin. Vic assured me that CoverFX had put in a tremendous amount of research and effort to find the right shades that were true to the undertones found in a vast array of women of all ethnicities. I was colour-matched to shade G50, which is for medium to tanned skin with golden undertones. I was pretty thrilled with the look and feel of this powder, because it wore more like a cream than a powder (though it isn't a cream-to-powder formula), and it looked very believeable as skin, as makeup should. The powder wears well on oily skin, and I would definitely recommend it to any women of colour looking for a powder foundation that doesn't contain talc.

This one's a new addition to the Chanel foundation lineup, which has been going through some changes in the last couple of years. I was interning at Chanel when the original Perfection Lumière launched and I personally didn't have use for a long-wear product at that point in my life, so I didn't embrace it as I did the more lightweight formulas such as Vitalumière and Vitalumière Aqua. This foundation is a whole other experience than the original Perfection Lumière. They're meant to be different, so I feel ridiculous comparing them, but rest assured, these formulas are very much their own entities. Perfection Lumière Velvet is a medium-coverage, lightweight fluid that smooths on to skin with little effort, drying down to a velvety soft finish. It's apparently replacing Mat Lumière, which is a bit of a bummer (I just hate change, let's be real), so I can definitely see how Perfection Lumière Velvet is meant to be a more modern, updated interpretation Mat Lumière. It's definitely geared towards normal to oily skin, but I wouldn't rule it out entirely for anyone with dry skin, especially as summer heat rolls around. This will be a serious go-to for humid days, because the soft matte finish holds up brilliantly all day. Bonus: the packaging is PLASTIC aka TRAVEL-FRIENDLY! No decanting necessary, no praying to a higher power for leak-free luggage on arrival. HIGH PRAISE TO CHANEL!

Y'all, I've almost used up this foundation. Me. I have nearly used something UP! Big statement and/or accomplishment, one that allows me to comment on this foundation and how it wears. Obviously, Urban Decay has been putting a lot of effort into the whole Naked range (and who can blame them, it's selling like hot cakes), and I was a bit apprehensive about this foundation because I hadn't really ventured beyond lip or eye products from the brand before [Note: and one nail polish in 1999 called "Adrenaline" that Victoria Beckham supposedly sported]. This foundation is excellent! It imparts a satiny finish, it's virtually imperceptible on the skin, and the formula is loaded with a bunch of antioxidants and hyaluronate. It's one I would most certainly consider repurchasing.

Rumour Mill:

Word on the street (internet) for ages now has been that that L'Oreal True Match liquid foundation is allegedly similar to Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk. Now, you'd think that since I'm such a lover of Luminous Silk, I'd run out to my nearest drugstore and snap it up to confirm, but a couple things have held me back from doing so:
1) I need another foundation like I need a hole in my lungs (I have six (6!!!!) bottles on the go on my bathroom vanity at this moment)
2) The price point, while fair for a dupe of a $68 foundation, is a bit steep for drugstore levels (I believe it runs about $20+tax).
If anyone has any thoughts on this dupe situation, do share! 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

For Your Consideration: Deodorant

A couple years back, I broke out in a pretty heinous rash and discovered that I'd apparently developed a high intolerance to aluminum chlorohydrate. This chemical compound is the active ingredient found in virtually all antiperspirants on the market, as it is the ingredient that literally plugs your sweat glands and prevents them from releasing sweat.

I have minimal desire to hypothesize about the impact of aluminum chlorohydrate on one's overall health. Aluminum chlorohydrate has been linked to breast cancer and Alzheimer's disease, both of which run in my family. I can't say I made the conscious effort to switch to a deodorant from an antiperspirant because of research findings linking the chemicals to the aforementioned illnesses, but I can say I'm happy to release toxins through sweating. That's a good, normal and healthy thing to do, at least in my opinion for my own existence. I suppose it's an inherently Western ideal to not sweat and avoid it like the plague, but if you plug those sweat glands up, where will the toxins go? That thought freaks me out, so I say let it out, and stick to deodorants that will help you neutralize your natural odour. If that's the best than can be done, then so be it!

I've tried deodorants from the following brands: Dove, Dove Men, Secret, Adidas, Dr. Hauschka, Nivea, Tom's of Maine, Weleda, Arm & Hammer, Kiss My Face, Lavilin, Lavanila, Green Beaver, Dr. Mist, Le Couvent De Minimes, Right Guard, Byly, Crystal, Fresh...... the list goes on. Many variables go into the successful pairing of a person and a deodorant, so naturally, some of these products weren't the best fit. Here are some deodorants I've tried and have repurchased in the past couple of years.

Okay, this stuff is available on, but it costs a small fortune. I only ever spot antiperspirants from Arm & Hammer in our Canadian drugstores, and I think maybe a deo or two, but the smell is totally different. I usually stock up on this particular product when in any American drugstore, or I get my dear mother (thanks mom!) to grab it in Publix when she's in Florida for $2.99. It's aluminum-free and paraben-free, smells fresh and very gender neutral. It won't compete too aggressively with any fragrance you choose to wear. This one didn't stop me from sweating, but it did inhibit any odour quite effectively.

This roll-on was a product I purchased on a whim from, of all places. I was pleasantly surprised at how effective this liquid is. It seems to have curbed both sweat and stench in one fell swipe (hehe), so it's my current go-to. I have a backup ready to rock, as I'm nearing the end of my first one. It has no smell of its own, which thrills me, but it does come in a sport scent and a lavender scent, neither of which sat well with me when I sought them out at Loblaws. One severely annoying downside to this deo: the packaging leaks like CRAZY, so it's a no-go for travel, especially air travel. Do not pack this on a trip, because the entire contents will leak out almost instantly. KISS MY FACE, if you can HEAR (read) ME, PLEASE REPACKAGE THIS FLUID!!

This was a recommendation from Lesa Hannah, who suggested I keep my pits guessing by switching up my deodorant on a regular basis. I ordered this one from and while it wasn't cheap, it does work well. Do follow directions and also note that a stick and cream version exist if roll-ons aren't your preferred method of application. There's apparently a fragrance-free version also floating around out there, but I haven't come across it to give it a whirl. The Lavilin scent is unoffensive and won't overbear your senses by any stretch.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Chanel Le Volume de Chanel Mascara Vending Machine

I wandered into Holts Bloor today and was greeted by a pretty fun concept: A Chanel Le Volume de Chanel Mascara vending machine !

Here's the scoop: go to the counter and purchase a token (for $37 aka the price of the mascara, and as you may know, I'm a MONSTROUS fan of this formula - instant huge volume with practically no effort), scurry over to the vending machine that's sitting front and centre as soon as you walk into the main entrance of Holt Renfrew Bloor Street, and insert the obviously cool token to dispense a fresh mascara that you will love.

While you're around the counter, be sure to take a gander at the new eyeshadow quads, Les 4 Ombres Eyeshadows that have just been reformulated for the first time since they launched in 1982. The colours are inspired by tweeds (lest we forget, this is CHANEL!), and the pigmentation is outstanding compared to the former baked formulation.

I believe the vending machine will be in-store for another week, so stop by the counter to peep what's new and tell'em Poonam sent you!!


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Travel Bits

I recently escaped the cold for a brief jaunt to sunny Arizona. Here are some products I used on the daily (if not multiple times a day) while traveling! 

This product alternative title is apparently "24-hour Miracle Cream", and I'm thinking that's a substantial claim, but not one that I'm really going to argue with. I first started using this when I heard about it in a Pixiwoo video and then stumbled upon it at Ricky's NYC. I'm pretty into the texture and hydrating properties (shea butter, beeswax, aloe vera, soy protein), though I'm not wild about the packaging. The metal tube is pretty beat up, as it's my go-to travel moisturizer. I figured it'd be a great contender for any airplane dryness I'd face (boo HISS @ connecting flights), and it was.

It's a daily staple, not just a travel necessity, and frankly, sunscreen ought to be a daily staple for all y'all! This is an incredibly lightweight titanium dioxide/zinx oxide formula that absorbs quickly with no greasy residue at all. If you're at all averse to sunscreen greasiness of yesteryear, try this formula to have any and all of your sunscreen apprehension dramatically shift to complete and utter love. This one won't leave any whitish cast on your skin, so it's great for any and all skin tones. It's a needed product in your daily routine. Also: this sunscreen wears beautifully under makeup!

As I've mentioned, I have unusually pigmented lips, and time in the sun makes the edges of my mouth much darker. My go-to tinted balms that contain SPF usually melt in no time in heat (sorry,  Fresh Sugar Lip Tint), so I avoided carrying them in my bag for touch-ups or taking them with me when traveling. For sunscreen protection without a tint, I packed this Nivea stick, which is comfortable to wear thanks to vitamin E and sunflower extracts.

A newcomer to the Benefit range and a totally welcomed addition to my warm weather face routine, this lightweight foundation formula adjusts to match your skintone (though there are multiple shades in the range to begin with), goes from a creamy liquid to a matte, powder-like finish and contains SPF 35. What's not to like about this?

Nabbed a mini of this perfectly summery EDP as a Sephora VIB Rouge deluxe sample and have thoroughly enjoyed both wearing it and admiring the adorable nature of the teensy bottle. The pink peony, rose and amber notes are unusually appealing to me, a not-so-floral fragrance lover. Reminder: I like mini beauty things.

I can't say I love decanting products too much for travel purposes. I seem to buy endless amounts of travel-size containers for this exact purpose and they all seem to collectively suck because they all end up being the containers that leak endless inside my Ziploc bag. No bueno. Every hand cream I had in my arsenal seemed to be 2+ ounces, so I was amped when this sample surfaced in a drawer. I've had a number of these over the years, and the smell now reminds me of air travel (in a good way - and yes, I do think that's a thing!), and it really does an excellent job of hydrating, softening and soothing hands. Well worth the full size purchase!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Loving Lately - February 27th, 2014

Haven't done a post like this in quite some time, so I thought I'd write about some products I've been enjoying lately. Starting in the top left corner and moving clockwise...

Aerin Rose Balm

This smooth balm gives skin a luminous finish without any shimmer -- it's just an emollient texture that leaves a sheen. It's great for any dry areas (face or body or, my preferred use, cuticles), and in a pinch, you could probably get away with using it as a highlighter on cheekbones. The rose oil in this balm was apparently extracted from 350 rose petals, so you're getting some pretty great hydration in each jar. Good news for anyone who hates heady rose scents, this one isn't overwhelming by any stretch, so don't worry about it giving you a headache or competing with other scents.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in "Luminous Flush"

When I first saw the visual for this launch, I gasped (and then wrote this tweet). This blush had big promises to fulfill, combining a soft flush and the effect of the brand's Ambient Lighting Powders (easily one of the biggest launches of 2013), but the blushes delivered. The shade pictured above is described as a champagne rose shade, and frankly, those are really separate things, but I guess that's what you you have to call it when you mix the two together in a single powder compact. The powder is soft, doesn't kick up as much excess product as the Ambient Lighting Powders did (at least in my experience), and a little goes a long way, meaning this blush will last a while, even if you're applying liberally on the daily.

Fresh Sugar Face Polish

Pictured is a deluxe sample I received when I was browsing at Sephora one day (when am I not browsing at Sephora). It was a brand demonstrator who handed it to me, and he told me to make sure I applied it in circular motions for the exfoliating effect, but then to leave it on my face for a few minutes to reap the moisturizing benefits. Following instructions is just good sense, especially when this guy knows the product inside and out, and I wasn't disappointed! This is exactly what all faces could benefit from after this STUPID WINTER THAT WON'T DIE. Sorry, I just.. can't with how it's still -30C out there. The moral of the story: this scrub will exfoliate and hydrate, so try it if you're in the market for a little help in cell turnover.

LORAC Perfectly Lit Oil-Free Luminizing Powder in "Spotlight"

Not to put time pressure on you, but if you have any desire to buy this, do it now at because as you may gather from the brand page on Sephora's site, they are pulling out of Sephora stores and ecommerce, so this product has actually been marked down. That was actually what spurred me to get it, and I'm glad I did. It's a microshimmer highlighter (no chunky flecks of shimmer here) in a soft beige shade that is really flattering on warm skintones. It would probably work perfectly fine on cooler skintones as well, so have at it!

Laura Mercier Second Skin Cheek Colour in "Rose Bloom"

This was given to me in a little Laura Mercier pouch along with some other deluxe samples (Laura Mercier Eye Basics in "Flax", Radiance Foundation Primer, and an eyeshadow duo that I can't seem to find anywhere online) as an apology for being given the wrong eau gourmande when I had visited the counter at Bloomingdales in SoHo. That explains the teeny, tiny size. The colour is described as a matte, warm tawny rose. ....sure. Why not. It's a midtone matte pink that's incredibly unoffensive and very wearable. I'd probably spring for the full size, except I know myself better than to think I'll ever use a blush up. If anyone ever catches me saying I'm going to buy a backup of a blush, kick me. Hard. Thanks!

Clarins Opalescent Face and Cheek Powder

I was sucked in by the holographic packaging, and I stuck around for the gorgeous glow. This powder looks pretty basic in the pan, nothing too dimensional or fancy, but it gives a soft warmth (and I do mean soft - this isn't a pigment-packed pan) to the face when applied with a heavy hand. The bits of the pan that do have more pigment are fairly neutral, so it's pretty hard to mess the application of this stuff up. I like it for days where I don't want to think about how I'm applying blush or which brush I'm using or how I accidentally meant to apply a cream product before powdering, blah blah blah. It's carefree and I'm into it. Chances are, you will be too.

Bonus shot of me being silly with the Clarins palette:

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