Thursday, January 30, 2014

Favourite Drugstore Products

I did a guest-speaking spot at York University last week (shoutout to the social media marketing kids at Schulich!!), and some very pleasant and curious girls approached me after the class and asked me what my favourite drugstore products are. While there are a boatload to rave about, here are some that came to mind without me even thinking twice. Read on to find out what I gravitate towards every time I set foot in a Shoppers or Rexall (or what I click over to when perusing or

I could ramble on about lip balms all day (or for a considerably long post right here), especially at the drugstore level, where there's quite the selection of sticks, pots and spheres to choose from. That being said, this stick of Live Clean lip balm held its own when I started using it this past summer. It's an all-organic formula, enriched with natural oils that are hyper-hydrating for lips. Equally important is what this formula doesn't contain, which is petroleum, mineral oil, parabens, phthalates, phosphates, preservatives, dyes and colours. None of that stuff! None of it! And it's a vegetarian-friendly formula and is cruelty-free. Not too shabby for $4!

At the Unilever 2014 preview last year, there was sort of a travel-sized free-for-all situation set up on a table in a corner of the event space. A travel set of Simple products was bestowed upon me and a lil tube of this rather understated face wash was included. I've used it any time I've traveled (mostly short jaunts to visit the folks) since then, and I'm actually rather chuffed to find an effective, soap-free cleanser at a drugstore price point ($10 for 150 mL -- not too shabby!) that doesn't dry out skin at all (thanks to it being soap-free -- it's not rocket science, y'all) yet still manages to remove a full face of makeup (and y'all know I'm not exactly light-handed when it comes to my face). Bonus: It contains panthenol to hydrate and soothe skin. What could be bad about that?!

I get excited over mascara. Y'all know I've tried plenty of them (exhibit A, exhibit B), and there are some fine formulations at the drugstore price point, but this brush has really flipped the script for me. In my experience (and as we know, everyone's mileage may vary with beauty products, mascara especially), this brush is great for volumizing lashes, lifting and winging them out, which conveniently mimics the visual effect of a feline flick liner, all for about $12 bucks. The past few months I've had this tube in my rotation, I've had more people stop and ask me which mascara I'm wearing when I've worn this formula over any other. It's (foot) traffic-stopping!! I've always found mascara, Voluminous formulas being no exception, to work much better when they've dried out. Make sure you let it dry out a little and give it a go.

I'm a sucker for a high-end lotion usually because I like a good scent just about any way I can get it, but I have a serious soft spot for drugstore lotions. Since I've finally established and committed to a routine of habitual body moisturization (though, frankly, in this weather, it's moisturize or cringe from your skin feeling too tight and itchy all bloody day), buying into a more expensive body moisturizer is quite illogical for this time of year. This particular lotion came to me in the fall after Nivea underwent a repackaging of their body range, and I'm rather thrilled it did! I worked my way through the smaller bottle I received and actually repurchased a bigger bottle [Note: A testament to the product: I felt the need to actually add yet another bottle to my bathroom counter because it performed that well]. The formula contains vitamin E, shea butter and ginkgo extract, making it quite hydrating. It absorbs quickly and has a fairly gender-neutral, subtle scent (i.e. my boyfriend doesn't object to using it at all). A big bottle is around $11 at drugstores and it will last you, so I urge you to slather on generously post-shower and please be comfortable in your skin.

Hand cream is a whole other post, quite frankly, because there are a slew of good ones out there, but y'all know they clock in at incredibly variable price points. This Neutrogena hand cream is honestly more salve-like in texture, brimming with glycerin, but that's what makes it so highly effective in rehabbing chapped hands to a much more hydrated and smooth state. This stuff seems like a bit of a rip when you think, "$7 for 50 mL? What am I paying for?" I assure you, this is a highly concentrated formula. Hell, the box even assures you that there are approximately 200 applications in a single tube, so don't fret if you're a frequent hand cream user, because this one will last you.

I've been using this pressed powder for probably 4 years now and it does a brilliant job of banishing oil and keeping makeup in place, and the price point is so incredibly fair. This is a product I've hit pan on and repurchased many times. I keep an eye on ASOS to see what the UK Rimmel product assortment is like. They have this powder in a lot more shades than we do (and really neat ones, too, like "Peach Glow" and "Pink Blossom"), though it is marginally pricier through ASOS, so just keep an eye on it because usually the whole brand goes on a 30% off offer every so often. One downside that I wish the brand would pay attention to when people review this product: the packaging is absolute garbage. I'm shocked my powder hasn't shattered, because the packaging is so flimsy. Just use caution when packing this in a makeup bag for travel, and definitely don't grab this if you're thinking it would be handy for touch-ups on the go. It's not. Aside from that, it's a wonderful product that delivers on its claim!

L'Oreal Infallible Silkissime Eyeliner

This is one of the most pigmented and smooth eyeliners I've had the joy of using, and it just happens to be a drugstore product. It's oil-based and is loaded with polymers to give the gel-like application, but it can be a bit tricky to remove, as it is in the Infallible range, meaning it's a long-wearing formula. No matter how much Bioderma I use, I always seem to have a bit of residue the next morning. This doesn't bother me too much, as I feel the pigmentation and how the liner wears when I tightline with it is phenomenal. 

Disclosure: This post contains product(s) sent from the company or their PR team for editorial consideration. For more information, please click here. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Rewind The Clock: Anti-Aging Serums

I can feel your skepticism as you read the title of this post. "Poonam, you're 26, what on earth do you know about aging, let alone anti-aging?" Well, to you, I must dryling exclaim, "Probably more than you do!!"

Okay, snark aside, anti-aging skincare is something I take fairly seriously. If you know me, you know I never, ever, EVER sleep in my makeup, because that would mean foregoing my nighttime ritual of applying skincare products galore in the everlasting hope that I will outsmart or marginally disrupt the natural aging process. [Note: I also never sleep in my makeup because it's an awfully unhealthy habit to have that can lead to breakouts. At least have some cleansing wipes -- these'll do -- bedside if you're really lazy/tired/intoxicated]

For anyone who is unclear on the function of serum, consider it booster for your skin, delivering a high dose of beneficial ingredients directly to your skin. Serums are generally applied first, before a moisturizers, sunscreen or anything else you may want to slap on your skin. Here are three I've used and enjoyed immensely:

Gone are the days of product names that are even remotely concise, I guess. Lengthy name aside, this serum is actually two fluids housed in separate chambers that mix upon dispensing the product into the palm of your hand. Clarins has a whole method of application that comes specified on paper in the little pamphlet in the product box, but I prefer just ensuring the fluids are combined and dabbing it on all over and gently smoothing it over the skin's surface. It contains green banana, kiwi extract, and katafray extract. These ingredients increase firmness, make skin supple and maintain moisture levels in skin, respectively. It's steep for the results, but it's a nice texture and smells fantastic.

My first proper foray into anti-aging serums started with this product right here. I was curious about retinols, but had read too many horror stories about itching, burning, peeling and other hellish tales, so when Origins launched this serum, I was drawn to it immediately upon reading that it had the effect of a retinol without the irritation because it was plant-based! I tried it and actually loved it. It smells kind of terrible, but who cares! You can use it every night and your skin will look better in about a month's time! It uses Anogeissus extract (I'll spare you the googling - it's a tree native to the India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Myanmar -- formerly known as Burma, of course) to block enzymes that weaken skin's elasticity. While doing skin such a huge favour, it also increases the production of fibrillin, which increases elasticity. So there's your mini science lesson for the day. Honestly, if you're hesistant about trying anything more chemical, give this a try. Smells awful, works great!

Drugstore skincare picks are plentiful these days, so it's not entirely shocking that I'm gladly recommending an Olay product to you! Excellent at plumping, brightening and hydrating skin, this serum is a multitasker that ultimately works to lift skin for a more sculpted appearance. It contains allantoin (an anti-inflammatory), vitamin B3, glycerin, panthenol, hyaluronic acid (all to moisturize)... the list goes on and on. This one is definitely sufficient for most skincare concerns out there, and is more budget-friendly than not. 

And now for a bonus product, because I suppose it doesn't totally qualify as a serum, but boy oh boy, it's an anti-ager...

 La Roche-Posay Redermic [R]

Oh god, I have harped on and on about this product, but with good reason. I first nabbed this silver tube of magic when I was in a pharmacy in Paris this summer (I know, I know, what a quaint story). I started using it immediately and actually haven't touched my Clarisonic since. That was June 6th, 2013. I use this stuff every. single. night. The product tagline on LRP's site really says it all regarding the concerns it addresses: accentuated wrinkles, irregular complexion, premature age spots. My skin's surface has completely changed for the better, and too often, I'm stopped in public places (mostly the subway, oddly enough) by strangers, asking if I've had Botox or what I use because my skin is in good condition. The formula contains 0.1% pure retinol (to boost collagen production and reverse fine lines), retinyl linoleate combined with adenosine (to reduce skin irritation and improve retinol efficacy) and 0.3% lipo-hydroxy acid (to increase cell turnover and exfoliation).

While genetics play an obviously huge part in skincare, I do feel I owe a large part of my relatively line-free face to this product. They're launching an eye counterpart soon, and I cannot wait to get my paws on it, as Redermic [R] is not safe for use in the eye area. This retinol treatment was created with sensitive skin in mind, but if you try it and it somehow doesn't sit well with your skin, try slowly introducing it into your routine gradually, either applying it every other night at first, or cutting it with moisturizer (this will obviously impede results, but being quite literally comfortable with skincare is important).

Disclosure: This post contains product(s) sent from the company or their PR team for editorial consideration. For more information, please click here. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Slather'em On: LIP BALMS

Let me push the banal envelope and whine about the arctic temperature for a moment: JESUS CHRIST, IT IS COLD OUT THERE. And to me, that basically means abandon all lip colours and focus on proper balms that protect lips instead of drain them of moisture *glares at matte lipsticks*. I was reading through the comments section of a lip balm free-for-all post on IntoTheGloss and thought I could throw my two cents down (I'm giggling because we no longer have the penny)....! The temperature has been somewhere around the -40C mark more than a few times in the past week, so I thought it may be handy to go over some lip balms and products that may be worth your while if you're trying to nurse them back from a cracked or peeling state. Let's get right into it!

Okay, I admit this one is more luxurious than anything else, and it won't do too much for you in harsh weather, but I first bought this in the early 2000s and have repurchased it several times since. I've never been one to care about flavours of lip products because I don't lick my lips (yes, I'm superior to you like that - let's be real, it never was a habit for me and it just further dehydrates your lips due to the acidic nature of saliva, so...), but this one tastes pleasant for others, so I like to be considerate in that way, and it's pretty much the smoothest lip balm ever when applied on freshly exfoliated lips. It's known for containing the famous La Mer broth that is in the other La Mer skincare products. Famous broth aside, La Mer Lip Balm is pretty pricey ($60, at Holt Renfrew), but if you're in the mood for a small indulgence, let it be this one.
[Note: I exfoliate my lips every single night with a slightly dampened face towel and then apply lip balm. I started this ritual in high school and have stuck with it since and it helps immensely with both eliminating flakey, dead skin and lip balm absorption]

Finally, a suitable and petroleum-free alternative to Vaseline, Aquaphor and the like! This thick, emollient balm is meant to be a leave-on "mask" for your lips, but really it's a balm that you can wear any time you jolly well please (I'm sorry, I just finished rewatching Seasons 1 through 3 of Downton)! It contains jojoba oil, lanolin, and the antioxidant that Bite Beauty is most known for, resveratrol (commonly found in red wine). This stuff is so soothing and comfortable, it's just what's needed for this heinous weather we've all been trudging through. The price point is rather fair. One downer: it's in one of those classic metal tubes so getting every bit out might be an absolute nightmare, but enough people have ranted about it that I anticipate a repackaging situation at some point... I hope. A solid bet for your money ($30, at Sephora), packaging aside.  

I believe I grabbed one of these in a cutesie tube that had a cartoon drawing of the classic Elizabeth Arden Red Door on it at Duty Free in EWR on one of my various visits home a couple years ago and have been rather happy that I did. This lip balm ($23, at The Bay) is essentially a stick version of the heralded Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream, known as such because it was alleged by a customer that the cream healed her son's scrapes in 8 hours. The formula contains petrolatum (wah!), vitamin E, salicylic acid and other emollients. The lip balm in particular also contains SPF, making it a fine option for any day there's a fresh snowfall (fun fact: snow reflects light like crazy SO WEAR SUNSCREEN EVERY DAY, even in the winter). If you know the smell of the 8 Hour Cream, then you can probably conclude what this balm smells like ... herbal, at best, but man, it does a damn good job of soothing irritated lips.

I have been a long-time user of Nivea lip products... probably more so when they were still Labello lip products and then bought out by Nivea, but whatever, I'm no stranger to the stick balms. You know, the light blue hydrating, the darker blue classic, all the wacky ones they've conjured up in the last couple years (chamomile? mint & minerals?)... I've tried them all! I've even gone as far as ordering weird fruity flavours from Asia via Amazon (it was one of those orders where I guess I kind of fell into an Amazon blackhole, but I'm pretty sure that's *all* Amazon orders, am I right?). When I saw a tin lip butter ($3.60, was emerging from Nivea, I was rather enthused. Naturally, the Canadian market somehow got the shaft and only received two of the 4 SKUs that launched in US and UK markets. Typical! Either way, I went for the original and I'm quite pleased with it. While I'm admittedly skeptical of any balm with a whitish hue since I have pigmented lips and well, simple math: pigmented lips + whitish balm = gross greyish cast of colour, but that wasn't the case with this balm. This buttery stuff absorbed, and the formula is rich with almond oil and shea butter, so actual hydration is a thing that occurs here! Huzzah!

Disclosure: This post contains product(s) sent from the company or their PR team for editorial consideration. For more information, please click here.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy 2014 + 2013 Favourites

Hello, dear friends. It's been a minute since I posted anything new, and I maintain it's because the holiday season was far more blur-like than it's ever been before. I spent the majority of December working away rather diligently, and have spent the last few days curled into a ball, so allow me to apologize for leaving anyone who actually looks at this blog in the lurch for about a month.

That being said, let me blab on about some favourite products that were really significant standouts in the 2013.

Chanel Les Beiges 

When Chanel Les Beiges initially launched, I was admittedly a bit confused about what the point of the product was. Was it a bronzer? Was it used to contour? Was it a setting powder? Someone told me to use it as a blush -- was that serious? Did it just add a bit of warmth to the skin? How did the numbering system work in correspondence to the other Chanel shades, and why did it always seem darker than the usual shade I wore (shown in Shade 40, which is my standard Chanel shade)? I had a slew of inquiries and not too many answers, so I just started playing with it and discovered that different shades can serve different purposes. Shade 40 is a great contour shade for East Indian women, and I have actually managed to hit major pan on this compact. Me. I hit pan. On a beauty product. Those of you who know me know that this happens very rarely and that it's a momentous occasion and testament to how much I love a product. I use Chanel Les Beiges daily and find that I look like a corpse if I don't. Superb stuff, will absolutely replenish when I'm done with this one! 

Chanel Retractable Kabuki Brush

This past year was very much an exploration of brush necessities and I was seriously enamoured by this retractable kabuki brush as soon as I felt it. You've probably never felt anything so soft and silky against your skin that also happened to be a makeup brush. It is unbelievable. The brush also happens to lay powder products down beautifully, so this one is an all-around winner.

Laura Mercier Matte Eye Color in "Truffle"
I fell pretty hard for one shade from the Laura Mercier Artist's Palette For Eyes, dubbed "Truffle", and it's luckily a permanent shade that is available for purchase on its own. I used this warm chocolate taupe shade as a crease colour, but since I have slightly hooded eyes, I apply this shade lightly with a fluffy brush to the area slightly above my crease while looking straight forward into a mirror so that it's visible when my eyes are open, blending it in to avoid a harsh line, obviously. Long story short: this shade is great and I'll probably use it for years to come. I love the warmth of it, and it's a great transition shade if you're into that concept for between a smokier shadow and your brow shade. Superb!

Bite Beauty Cashmere Lip Cream in "Rioja"

This may look like your run-of-the-mill lip colour, but this cream-to-powder formula is wacky in a really fantastic way. When I first pulled this wand out, I didn't understand the consistency of this lip cream, because it was drier than anything else I've ever seen, but don't let that put you off. The formula contains different waxes and butters that have varied melting and absorption temperatures and rates, meaning it keeps lips from falling prey to dehydration, and the pigments leave a powdery matte finish with the most out of control pigmentation imaginable. I enjoy this formula for a different kind of lip product experience. Yes, that's a serious sentence I just wrote. I mean it though!

MAKE UP FOR EVER #158 Double Ended Sculpting Brush


MUFE put a considerable amount of time, research and design efforts into their newest brush range, and this brush is such a joy to use every day. The brush heads are 100% synthetic, which is awesome for anyone who is concerned with avoiding animal byproducts, or for anyone who is sensitive to natural bristles. These synthetic hairs are made to mimic natural bristles with two types: straight and wavy hairs. The angled end is perfect for contouring, while the more rounded end is great for blush or highlighter application. If you haven't felt any of these brushes in person, I urge you to get to a Sephora to do so, because they're really excellent quality. 

Dior Huile Abricot Daily Nutritive Serum

Cuticle care is something traditionally addressed with cuticle oil, but can we all just pause to lament the greasy marks cuticle oil leaves on everything? I'm mostly referring to my poor, smudgy smartphone screen. It's downright hindering to apply cuticle oil and then have to sit still while it absorbs while dribbling down your hands all over the damn place. This serum gel formula from Dior is pretty much the best thing to happen to cuticle care this past year. The brush-on applicator makes it super convenient to pinpoint where you apply it, and it doesn't make a mess at all. Never want to be without this stuff!

I had a lovely NYE, and hope you did too! 

I want to wish y'all a happy and healthy new year to come in 2014! Hopefully will be writing much more in the next little while!

Disclosure: This post contains product(s) sent from the company or their PR team for editorial consideration. For more information, please click here.

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