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:

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

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Naturally Flushed: Cream Blush

Cream blushes are an increasingly common step in my makeup routine; I think they can take the "clown" fear out of wearing blush for a lot of people out there. Cream blushes are definitely more user-friendly than their powder counterparts, mostly because the creamy nature of the product allows it to seamlessly blend into skin. The flush appears more natural and from within as opposed to a powder, which can sit heavily on top of skin if it isn't blended well. My preferred way of using a cream blush is to apply it with this brush from Sephora as an anchor for a powder cheek colour, leading to a dimensional and long-lasting look. Here are some formulas that are in my current rotation. 

This formula is a new offering from Clarins this season and it's a goodie. I am a sucker for this "Rosewood" shade, but colours aside, there's a bunch of waxes in this formula (rose, mimosa, sunflower, jojoba) to ensure easy blending and proper hydration, as well as vitamin E, which is always great for skin. Super blendable and hard to overdo thanks to the satin finish with no shimmer whatsoever, which makes this rather user-friendly for all ages.

A fantastic drugstore cream blush if I ever saw one! I have only been playing with this one for a couple weeks, but it gives a great satin finish with a very faint hint of shimmer, making it a fun option to play with if you're just getting into the cream blush scene. "Pinched" is a gorgeous peachy shade to transition into spring with (if this winter ever dies).

I'm a bit of a jerk to include this, but anyone who is in the UK can possibly benefit from my appreciation and recommendation of this creamy little pot of awesomeness. Dear friend Danielle (of SRSLY fame) was in London in fall 2012, and I asked her to be a dolly and grab me a couple of these, and she DID and they're GREAT! I hate that P&G totally has used the same packaging for CoverGirl items, but that the contents are SOOOOO different. Here's to hoping and praying that this cream blush makes its way to the Canadian market under the CoverGirl banner since MaxFactor is no longer a thing here, because these are phenomenal. Subtle shimmer to bounce enough light off the face, but nothing gaudy or overwhelming. A treat to use, and probably my most reached-for product of the post ("Soft Copper" is one of my favourite things).

Probably the creamiest of the bunch and most pigmented, this formula by Kevyn Aucoin offers up flexibility, since it can be sheered out or built up for a bigger splash of colour. The colour range is all quite wearable with one really bright pop of colour (pictured above, "Liquifuschia"). If you've ever messed around with Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancers, then you'll know emollient is an understatement for potted products from the brand, and this stuff is no exception. A dab'll do ya.

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

A Huge Departure for Thierry Mugler: Alien Eau Extraordinaire

As a person who is obsessed with scent and the concept of having a fragrance wardrobe, I was curious when I received an invite to the unveiling of Thierry Mugler's latest fragrance addition to the his brand. When I see the name "Mugler", I think purely of Thierry Mugler Angel, which has to be one of the most polarizing fragrances I've ever smelled.

When I interned at FASHION Magazine in summer 2011, I recall we were coming upon the 20th anniversary of Thierry Mugler Angel (launched in 1992 in Europe, and I believe 1995 in North America) and it was the second time in my life I paused and gave the juice a deep inhale (the first time was at The Bay before a Blink 182 concert with a couple friends, and the sales associated asked us if we wanted to smell like an angel...). I was not crazy about the gourmand oriental notes that flooded my sinuses, and those feelings remain to this day, hence a slight feeling of apprehension when entering the event last week for the launch of Alien Eau Extraordinaire.

To be fair, Thierry Mugler Alien is not at all in the same vein as Angel, and for that, I'm quite grateful. Alien contains a pretty substantial jasmine dose, unlike the headiness that is Angel, weirdly complex with notes of vanilla, patchouli, chocolate, caramel and red berries. Just typing the notes gives me a headache, I swear. 

All that being said, I was practically bowled over when handed a paper blotter with a spritz of Thierry Mugler Alien Eau Extraordinaire on it. Light, luminous, and wearable are the words that came to mind, and that's not really the first three words that I'd ever associate with Thierry Mugler scents. This is a huge departure from the fragrance brand's normative behaviour, and I'm frankly thrilled to see such a shift in direction. 

At the presentation, Christophe De Lataillade, Creative Director of parfums Thierry Mugler, shared such interesting little facts about the process of creating the scent story, as well as what went into creating the visual campaign and TV spot (directed by Torontonian Floria Sigismondi!), making the presentation quite full of teeny anecdotes, delightful to hear. 

Thierry Mugler apparently said to "start where you stopped", so the lights were figuratively and literally turned on to revive the model in the campaign. The idea at play was that a solar goddess needed to be revived by sunlight. Mugler encouraged the team to use fiber optic technology in the dress for the campaign (it apparently weighed 30 kg!), and the TV spot itself has musical stylings of Sigur Ros to express the feeling of brimstone turning into gold, luminous elements. 

The composition of the fragrance:
Top notes -- Bergamot, Tunisian neroli, Tea
Middle notes -- Heliotrope, Tiare flower
Base notes -- White amber, Cashmeran

These base notes are at the heart of all Alien fragrances, so they're very much the link that tie the different fragrances together. The reason I decided to write this post is because I normally would pass by any offering from Mugler, thinking it would be another Angel experience. I urge you all to smell this scent when it launches in stores in April at Hudson's Bay, Sephora and Shoppers Drug Mart. It's incredibly wearable and a sound option for spring/summer, as it's the most non-Mugler Mugler scent imaginable!  

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

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Initial Thoughts: Diptyque L'Art Du Soin Facial Skincare

One of everyone's favourite French fragrance brands, Diptyque, has entered the skincare game with a range entitled Diptyque L'Art Du Soin Facial Skincare. I was fortunate enough to receive some precious and twee samples while visiting Diptyque's Bleecker Street boutique in Manhattan last week. Upon visiting their US site, I couldn't seem to find the products to link to, so I believe they're sampling the range, but that it isn't launching until later this month.

When I took a look at the samples, I noticed a highly informative little packet that contained a card for each product in the range, explaining the ingredients of each product and how the product is meant to perform or the different ways in which it could be used.

The sleeve of the card packet, explaining the concept for the skincare range

This presentation of not only how to use a sample of skincare, but also a card including a full list of ingredients (something that's usually missing in samples, and something that's really helpful to know when it comes to skincare) is outstanding! I want to hug the person who made sure this idea was executed. It's so essential when launching and sampling skincare, so I applaud Diptyque for getting it right.

Side one of the ingredients card for the range

Side two of the ingredients card for the range

I was given 4 product samples, and the range is 5 products total. The only product I didn't sample is the Radiance Boosting Powder. I've used each product a few times and can definitely attest to the fact that they're Diptyque products through and through, fragrance-wise. The Nourishing Cleansing Balm and Infused Facial Water are extremely Damask rose-based (similar to Eau Rose, not quite the same though), while the fine-grit Multi-Use Exfoliating Clay has a hint of Diptyque's figgy Philosykos scent lingering even after it's been rinsed away, so anticipate a very multi-sensory experience if you decide to try this range.

The Nourishing Cleansing Balm is multi-use, in that you can warm it up in your hands and use it as a cleansing oil, making it excellent for makeup melting and deep cleansing, creating an emulsifying lotion when hit with water after being massaged into dry skin. The informative little card also tells me it can be mixed with water to create a lotion texture that can be swept across skin on a cotton pad. The formula contains mimosa waxes and sweet almond oil (among other skincare-friendly ingredients) to leave skin comfortable and soft, never dry.

The Multi-Use Exfoliating Clay has a fresh fig scent, as I mentioned above, and the fine grit texture is thanks to marble powder, which obviously whisks away dead skin cells when used as an exfoliator. When used as a mask, skin is purified is ushered along thanks to clay and apricot kernel oil. I think I liked the smell of this product just as much as its actual function. I appreciated that a little went a long way and that it can be used in two different ways, though I feel the need to point out, no matter how you use it, you'll probably get a bit of the exfoliating factor when you rinse it off, so... if you're looking for a straight-up clay mask, move along. 

The Infused Facial Water at first seems like it's simply the standard rose water. The ingredients tell me that it contains glycerin (forever working to retain moisture in the skin), witch hazel, peppermint leaf extract, nasturtium (aka a source of skin-brightening vitamin C)...and a lot of other stuff. I'm not big on toners or softening lotions personally speaking, but I think this would fall into that category, and I think it's more so a nicety than a necessity in one's skincare routine. It smells pretty, so if that's your jam, have at it.

The Protective Moisturizing Lotion is probably the least sunscreen-y sunscreen I've ever used, and that's probably because it's only hitting SPF 15 level, making it inherently less greasy. Even if the SPF level isn't high enough by most standards, I suppose it's better than nothing. It packs a nourishing punch, containing Omegas 3, 6 and 9, as well as grapevine root extracts. It's a really light and smooth emulsion that I enjoy applying and can see myself committing to in a full size. It leaves skin super soft with no residue or stickiness, making it completely delightful to use. 

In regards to pricing and availability, I have no info whatsoever to share with you. I know. I'm awful. I'm sorry! As soon as I do have info to share, I will update the post accordingly. I do believe the line is set to launch at the end of February, at least stateside. I have no idea if this range will launch in Canada at the same time or not, but consider it something to take a gander at next time you're south of the border next month onwards!

EDIT: The range will launch in Canada, and naturally only 4 of the 5 products will launch in the Canadian market (the Protective Moisturizing Lotion is a no-go here, at least initially, inevitably because of the SPF). The range will be available at Holt Renfrew, and pricing is as follows:
Infused Facial Water, CAD $66
Radiance Boosting Powder, CAD $62
Nourishing Cleansing Balm, CAD $78
Multi-Use Exfoliating Clay, CAD $78

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Bits I Bought in NYC

I spent 4 nights and about 4.5 days in New York, NY, crashing with my dear brother (you know, family day weekend and all). I mostly had intentions of seeing friends, eating and generally wandering the city as I used to. I had a couple items in mind that I wanted to check out, so here are some of the bits I came back with. 

I remember reading about Canadian brand Bite Beauty's custom-colour-making Lip Lab a little while ago, and then I saw Lesa whipping up a custom blend on Insta, and I made a mental note to check it out next time I was going to be in the city. My flight back to Toronto was pushed back substantially, so I had extra time to poke around. I made my way to Prince Street to partake in this experience and had a delightful time creating a custom lip colour. I decided to stick to a colour that I would wear more often than not, so a fairly neutral-leaning-ever-so-slightly-warm shade was born after two rounds of mixing and trying on the blends with my lip lab tech. The options include picking out a formulation (Matte? Sheer? and so forth and so on!), tweaking the colour to your liking, adding a scent via essential oils and deciding what type of lipstick cap you prefer (an odd but interesting choice to make).

My lip lab tech mixed too much of my custom colour, so I wound up with two bullets for the price of one. Custom lipsticks start at $36 each and go up depending on the formula you choose. I walked away with a flesh-toned sheer luminous creme lipstick scented with mango and mint essential oils. If you're never able to find a colour that pleases you, definitely stop by for a bullet or few as unique as your taste.

This jar untouched was so pretty, but I couldn't even slow my roll enough to snap a pic of it before completely messing up the gold leaf of this lip balm. I'm so not blogger-minded in that regard! Oh well! What I can express is that this balm is reeeeeeally pretty (immaculate packaging, y'all), and is loaded with camellia oil. I recently fell hard for this type of oil after realizing it's the magic ingredient in Shu Uemura's Moisture Velvet range, as well as Shu Uemura's Essence Absolue hair oil. Those products are the only things that hydrate my hair, so I was more than willing to try this balm, and I'm quite pleased with it. There's a square of gold leaf on top of this balm that lends a hint of shimmer when applied to the lips, but once it's gone, you're looking at a pretty emollient formula.

Once I saw this pop up on US blogs, I knew I'd make a point of hunting it down. I first asked the PR team for Vaseline if this was going to launch in the Canadian market any time soon, and after I received confirmation that it wouldn't in the foreseeable future, I began plotting. I hit several Duane Reades and didn't spot it, so then I carried on to Walgreens in Times Square, because desperate times call for desperate measures! I found a bunch, bought 3 (2 for friends - my hoarding mentality is more selective than that!) and have enjoyed the hint of tint and floral scent that this formula has. People have their views on petroleum jelly, but I cannot deny the way it keeps lips moisturized, even in heinous weather (and I spent three days outside for about 12 hours a day, and I barely reapplied - fantastic!). 

Aesop Moroccan Neroli Shaving Duet

Aesop has expanded aggressively in the US market (the brand originally hails from Australia!), with Manhattan proper being its primary focus. They have stores all over the city, all quite interesting and made from recycled or renewable materials, like old copies of The New York Times. When I lived in the city, I was an avid user of the Moroccan Neroli Shaving Serum. It's a lightweight gel texture that offers low-foam slip, allowing a razor to glide through with absolute ease. I admittedly grabbed this duo for my boyfriend to make up for a really foiled vday gift (Sidebar rant: Dear J.Crew, how did you completely mess up the execution of monogramming a scarf? Not one letter was correct!!!). The shave serum is accompanied by a soothing aftershave lotion, which is lightweight, hydrating and quite comforting to the skin thanks to shea butter and olive fruit, and a slew of other beneficial ingredients that Aesop just loves throwing into the mix (witch hazel. orange flower oil aka NEROLI, glycerin, ginger root extract)! You can find the Aesop range at Holt Renfrew Yorkdale if you're not keen on ecomm or heading stateside any time soon.

I don't even know what the classification of "Eau Gourmande" is. Is that a thing? Do I just know nothing about fragrance concentrations?! Doubtful, but I need to go on record and say this was a wildcard buy for me. I'm not that into gourmand scents, and I truly haaaaate vanilla fragrances. Anyone who likes to smell like a cupcake is dead to me, and the success of scents like Aquolina Pink Sugar ASTOUND me. Suffice it to say, this scent does not smell that sugary. It's sweet, but it isn't cloying to me personally. The amber element sucked me in. I originally was drawn to the hand cream in this scent, then just started using the hand cream when I wanted to smell this, and well, logic eventually prevailed! YAY!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Eye Cream !

Ha ha ha!

Eye cream is a product that I think people tend to expect a bit too much from. In my opinion, skincare is best for hydrating... anything beyond that is a bonus. Too much hydration can be a problem, as milia can form and they are rather unsightly, so finding the right balance for skin is key. Consistency of use is key with eye cream, so keep that in mind when engaging in the ol' skincare trial and error routine! Here are some eye creams I'd gladly scoop up again.

A lengthy name for a single product, but that's nothing new or out of the norm in this industry. I luckily never had to purchase this one, as it is pricey, but got my hands on some tiny samples to get me through a few months of use and I can understand why people throw down $205 for a 15g jar of this cream. It's light yet rich and hydrates effectively and didn't create milia or irritate my eyes in the slightest. If you're feeling splurgy, grab a jar of this.

I set the bar marginally higher for this product because it isn't the usual eye cream. It's a retinoid! For EYES! Sounds scary, and I guess it kind of was initially. I did experience a touch of irritation, and a bit of product pilling up when I applied other skincare on top or near where I applied this stuff, but it did reverse fine (non-dehydration) lines, which is always impressive. If you're looking for results, something with active ingredients is usually necessary so I would definitely recommend this retinoid for visible impact. 

[Note: Okay, I'm about to go on a serious brand rave, but I maintain it's because these products are actually worth your attention, regardless of the fact that they all coincidentally hail from the same brand. It's safe to say Kiehl's has pleased me in the eye cream game.]

Being a fan of Kiehl's Midnight Recovery formula for facial use, I was intrigued when this product launched. The facial formula was really hydrating and soothing, so I anticipated similar results from this product, and it did that, as well as diminish fine (dehydration) lines with continued use. I like that it's fragrance-free and has a fair price point ($40 for 15mL is pretty decent, as a little goes a long way) for some pretty great ingredients, namely squalane for hydration, evening primrose oil for brightening.

If your undereye area is particularly similar in texture to the Sahara, this needs to find a way into your skincare regimen. This is probably the most hydrating eye cream I've come across, so oily-skinned friends should probably take a pass on this one. This formula, loaded with avocado oil and shea butter, is super creamy ( case mentioning the creamy ingredients or the product name didn't tip you off) and will eliminate any dryness or tightness in the eye area. I put this one high in rotation whenever it dips below -15C, so it's been in pretty high use these days, and I'm grateful to have it around, even if I don't need such a huge dose of moisture at all times.

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

Friday, February 7, 2014

Best Neutral Lip Colours for Pigmented Lips

Hi, y'all. As you may or may not realize, I'm East Indian! As a result of being East Indian, I have pigmented lips. And not evenly pigmented, might I add, but almost like a fleshy ombre situation. The edges of my bottom lip are a few shades darker than the rest of my mouth. If I wear lip colour that is semi-sheer, people often ask me if I've ombre'd two different shades of the same colour family together. Nope, I'm just that annoyingly on-trend by nature !

I thought I'd throw a list together of my go-to "nudes". I use the term "nudes" rather loosely, because I will basically never be the girl who is all about a true nude concealer lip look, mostly because that would a) make me look absolutely dead and b) isn't what my naked lips look like, so it's actually more "nude" than I care to go for. The colours called out here are mostly neutral in nature, and will suit my fellow people (women, I suppose, but I really hate saying anything that specific) of colour quite nicely. A lot of rosy browns, a lot of mauvey shades because that's essentially the two shades at play in my lips.

To be fair, this colour slays on everyone. In a brief stint at the Chanel counter to help out this past holiday season, any time anyone approached the counter to find a new lipstick, this was the first thing I suggested (unless they were in the market for a specific shade). I suggested it because it's a slightly slicker formula than others available from the brand (so it's shiny, but not glossy and you can forget about sticky [I don't have time for that mess -- my hair is shoulder-length and I don't like pin-thin strands of gloss across my cheeks after my hair gets stuck in it]), and the colour is so neutral and flattering on everyone. A universal colour that can honestly be applied without a mirror is what I usually said, and dag nabbit, I meant it! I love this colour dearly and was so enthused when it first launched 3 years ago, ahead of the rest of the colours in this range. I hope it never goes away (...and it probably will now because such is the nature of cosmetics)!!!

I barely made it past how redundant this product title is, but once I did, I fell pretty hard for this lipstick. This range came out in fall 2012, and luckily seem to have made it to the permanent range, even though I originally was under the impression they were to be limited edition (my worst nightmare/my trigger words). The formula is comfortable and relatively hydrating. The entire shade range of "lip blushes" that launched in this collection were all pretty great as far as nudes go...nothing too over the top or extreme. I nabbed a backup of this shade because hi, I'm crazy, but also because that's how much I love it. I also have Trench and Indiscrete (the latter of which is definitely too light for me for daily wear and I wear mostly with heavy eye makeup for balance), and they're both aces, so if you pass a Dior counter, check the neutrals out!

A recent addition to my swipe-on-with-no-mirror lifestyle is this stick of greatness right here. Vitamin E, hyaluronic spheres and cocoa butter make this one of the creamiest tinted balms I've ever encountered and it's been pretty helpful in this polar vortex garbage weather we've been enduring here in Toronto. I think it'd probably be a melty mess in the summer (as most hydrating creamy things are), so buyer beware, but grab it to tide you over til spring, whenever the hell that might be. *glares at snow*

A more wallet-friendly option and one that I continuously come back to because the formula is packed with many a butter (mango, shea, coconut!) to hydrate lips, these lip butters, worn together, are effectively MLBB. This is where I get all ~bloggy~ on you and explain that that stands for "my lips but better". *sighs deeply* The internet. What a place. ANYWAY, back to these pretty awesome lip colours... if you're not looking to break the bank or are the type to use a product up (...something I do so rarely myself, I'm not sure I even know how that works), this is a great option that doesn't compromise colour or leave you cursing me for getting you hooked on a $40+ product. Swipe on, dear friends (and don't you dare feel the need to bust out a mirror)!

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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