Sunday, June 26, 2016

Loving Lately - June 2016

As per usual, no idea where the month has gone, which tends to be the case when summer is fully underway. I spent a chunk of time in the suburbs this past month, so minimalism was the general approach when living out of a weekender bag. I had the joy of taking in a couple Jays games and spent lots of time with family, so all in all, June was a rather dreamy start to the season.

Here are some bits I've been really keen on the last few weeks!:

This fragrance was the first beauty product I purchased when I moved to New York in 2010 and it remains in my collection as a go-to scent for peak summer days when it's really heating up. I say this because it's a classic eau de cologne formulation, zesty as can be thanks to bright notes of neroli, bergamot and mandarin, making it right up any citrus fan's alley. Chanel dubbed this scent a celebration of summer, and I have to agree! It's a serious reprieve from all the stenches of hot weather that waft around in the city, so I appreciate the nose break. The staying power leaves something to be desired (unsurprisingly, as it is a citrus scent!), but I find it lingers longer when sprayed on freshly moisturized limbs (confession: I tend to spritz heavily when wearing light scents like this). I also have enjoyed layering it with a year-round fave, Byredo Mojave Ghost, if I'm in the mood for a citrus-floral combo.

Ok so I wasn't exactly dying over the formula of the original scentless version of this heralded all-purpose salve, but I did get the trio of new flavours when they launched out of curiosity (I fully admit this is what fuels most, if not all, purchases I make, particularly from Glossier). Spoiler alert: they're all pretty good, but the rose one takes the cake. The official description of this product describes the scent as a "sweet rose"; there's a vague sugary note, but it never crosses the line into cloying territory. It somehow remains almost fresh and uplifting instead. This balm has a soft pink tint to it that is essentially undetectable once applied (at least on my lips), but it's still a pretty welcomed addition to my trillion-strong lip balm arsenal. Honourable mention goes to Mint Balmdotcom, which is delightfully refreshing upon application, giving lips a light, tingly sensation for a brief period. Coconut has become a cuticle care staple lately and Cherry remains a cough syrup memory that I don't reach for nearly as often as the rest. Key lesson? Buy less and more selectively.

It's been a while now that brands have launched their own interpretations of gel nail colour ranges, spanning the two-step non-curing nail colour and top coat systems to the at-home light-curing systems that launched a few years back. I've personally been quasi-content with the at-home, non-curing nail systems, even if it meant winding up with a wardrobe of top coats to correspond with each brand (Revlon ColorStay Gel Envy Diamond Top Coat, Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat, Dior's gel top coat, countless bottles of CND Vinylux top coat....). I appreciate the flexibility to change my nail colour without busting out the foils and hardcore acetone. With the market being somewhat saturated in gel-like nail colour with promises of extended wear time, the launch of Essie Gel Couture seemed almost late. That's what I thought until I tried it and realized it was late since it was being perfected to the absolute core. Essie Gel Couture launched with 45 shades and one top coat, designed to work in tandem to give you up to 14 days of wear. Normally, I'd roll my eyes at such a claim from any product that doesn't require light-curing technology. I am thrilled to eat my own words right now! I gave a vermillion red shade dubbed "Beauty Marked" a whirl and a week later, it was still going strong. I was a bit misbehaved the first time I tried this formulation, giving myself virtually no drying time before making dinner (washing and chopping veggies) and cleaning up thereafter (pots, pans and no gloves in sight!), and the red polish still hung on. Tip wear was inevitable (typing furiously will do that), but no significant chips occurred and the polish stayed relatively glossy through the entire wear time. This stuff is too legit to quit! The bottle is a twisted rendition of the usual Essie bottle, and it's actually more ergonomic than ever, nestling nicely between your index and thumb of the hand you're applying polish to. The brush stem itself is twisted so that the polish doesn't drip off in globs onto your nails, but rather it flows down the stem and onto the brush in a controlled manner. Another new design feature: I have never been a fan of the traditional Essie brush, as it's skinny as hell and I don't have crazy narrow nail beds, so it's never been a brush I've been drawn to. The Essie Gel Couture brush is a wider brush that covers more surface area with fewer strokes, making application so stupidly easy. It's kind of a dream nail colour range. I personally wish Essie would do more shimmers and unusual shades than the more safe, neutral shades (I've never been an Essie Ballet Slippers fan, sue me), but that's just my taste. This new formulation performs incredibly well, and I'm super happy to recommend it over any other gel polish out there. You can find this range on separate displays in drugstores nationwide right now. The shade pictured is called "Touch Up" and it's what I'm currently sporting; it's a subdued mauve-lilac shade. Happy to report it's been on 5 days and I have no chips in sight. Get into it!

Straight up, brows are a big deal to me and that's probably because mine take up a fair amount of time/focus in my everyday makeup routine (even more so for special occasions). I saw Charlotte Tilbury bust out this product in a sponsored Pixiwoo vid a couple months back and was instantly into it. The effect that this stuff gave Nic's brows in the video was natural, defined and polished aka my personal brow objectives. I waited patiently for this stuff to launch, and committed to Legendary Brows in Cara when the product finally rolled out online the week of the 6th. Y'all. This is the brow product of my dreams. I have been a two-product brow person for a while, using a product to fill in (pencil, powder, pomade, you name it) and then following with a brow gel to hold everything in place / feather out my hairs. Legendary Brows is my one-step wonder. First off, the spoolie is tinier than anything I've ever seen in the brow game, and I love it. I don't have massive brows, so the micro wand (smaller than all the tiny-wand wonders I wrote about here) is genius for applying the tinted gel (well, mine was tinted, but there's a clear version available!). Tilbury mentioned in the Pixiwoo vid that her team had to work on creating the perfect amount of suction to leave a manageable amount of gel on the wand, and I think they nailed this aspect of the product. The micro wand really does help you pick up on small hairs that normally are overlooked, which helps create a fuller brow shape without drawing in hairs or using multiple products. This will likely remain in my makeup rotation for a long time to come. I've gone through a couple brow gels lately that have applied like a nightmare (looking at you, NYX and MAC Pro Longwear Brow Set), in globs with no ease, so I am thrilled I tried this kick-ass brow product. It's a must-have for anyone; I don't care how low-key you are, everyone can use a little brow boost.

Y'all know I'm a retinol fan, usually pushing products laced with vitamin A derivatives on anyone who will listen. It's well-documented that I've been raving about La Roche-Posay Redermic [R] for a few years now, but I'm always open to newness. Sunday Riley is hardly a new brand on my radar, as I've been dabbling in cosmetics from the brand for at least 4-5 years now. I first came across the brand as an intern at Bergdorfs and the brand has certainly evolved since, shifting its focus towards skincare and away from colour cosmetics (also apparently in the midst of a site redesign, as there's no functioning official site for Sunday Riley at this time). Over the years, I've tried Juno Oil (both formulations, one for face and one for body), Disrobe Body Lotion and Ceramic Slip Cleanser, all to mixed results. I never felt too compelled to dabble in the brand over the last couple years, but I had a sample of this with a recent Sephora order and fell pretty hard for its skin-perfecting properties. This formula contains trans-retinoic acid ester, which is essentially a mild retinoid that improves the texture and turnover speed of skin. It also contains blue tansy oil and German chamomile to soothe and calm skin (a balancing effect to the retinoid). I used about 4 drops a night for my a whole face and the teensy sample lasted me a few weeks to get a proper sense of how this product performs. I noticed my skin's texture was smoother and clearer, more so than with my previous retinol. There's a reason people are raving about this stuff - it's a high-performance product that can seriously turn around your skin. As usual, try a sample before committing to this crazily priced oil, but it's a winner in my books. 

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