Sunday, March 29, 2015


Yes, I owe you a review on the new Burberry Kisses No. 73 Bright Coral, but I've only worn it a couple of times and don't have a concrete opinion on it yet. (So far loving the colour, not so much the formula.) But given that it's new, it's obviously not going to get the boot in this round of LIPSTICK SURVIVOR. (We yell Oprah-style every time there is mention of LIPSTICK SURVIVORRRRRR. It's just more fun that way.)

* = press sample

I've divided the colours loosely into "corals" and "oranges" and deliberately left out liquid lip products and crayons/pencils because they're going to get their own cage matches after I'm done with traditional lipstick tubes. Again, as I've iterated during Round I, I'm not aiming for a specific number of lipsticks at the end of the day. I simply want to weed out dupes and anything subpar (i.e. doesn't make me happy for whatever reason) that have managed to sneak into the stash.

Left to right: MAC Retro Matte in Relentlessly Red, Revlon Ultra HD Lipstick in 825 Hydrangea, MAC Mineralize Rich in Lady At Play, Maybelline Color Sensational Vivid in 885 Vibrant Mandarin, Burberry Kisses Hydrating Lip Colour in No. 73 Bright Coral, *Clarins Rouge Eclat in Juicy Clementine.

Remember how I moaned about the coralliness of Vibrant Mandarin in the Tangerine Madness post? Well, look how orange it looks here next to the real corals. But I swear to the lipstick gods that Vibrant Mandarin is a shapeshifter. It's weirdly pinky-coral on me, highly unflattering, and AWAY IT MUST GO.

And everything else can stay.

I'm serious!

MAC Relentlessly Red - Reviewed here. One of my all-time faves, possibly. It brightens up the face so nicely. I think this is about as cool in tone as I can get away with.

Revlon Hydrangea - Not crazy about the formula (maybe wax in lipstick isn't a bad thing) but I WANT TO WEAR THIS COLOUR, GODDAMMIT. We are still wrestling.

MAC Lady At Play - Same as Hydrangea. If I haven't successfully found a way to make this or Hydrangea flattering by autumn, they're getting the boot.

Maybelline Vibrant Mandarin - I've had it for about two years and it always looks garish and strange on me. I'm done struggling with it. EXILED!

Burberry Kisses Bright Coral - It swatches orange on my skin but looks orangey-coral on my lips. The colour is cheerful, brightening and makes me happy.

*Clarins Juicy Clementine - Beautiful colour and formula. Severely underrated lipstick range in the beauty world. Rapidly climbing up to my list of all-time faves.

I think Round III has to be pinks/fuchsias. There are way too many of them loitering about.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Tangerine Madness

Because one obsession isn't enough, I straddle two. Welcome to my orange party!

* = press samples

Orange things in their non-pristine native environment.
Nary a Diptyque candle nor vase full of peonies to be found here.

Tangerine fever came up to me and said, "Would you like to be infected?" I, having nothing better to do apparently, said, "Sure, why not?"

WHAM. I drown in oranges. And I want MORE.

Before I rush off to do anything stupid, first an inventory!

Only four tubes in my current stash can be legitimately classified as "orange" on its own, but when compared to each other in a lineup, two of them were found to be wanting in orangeness. I spent a long time in Yorkdale Sephora yesterday swatching all the orange lipsticks and noticed that a lot of them shift to cooler corals on my skin, which I now realize is the reason I couldn't carry off some of the oranges from the past. For example, in the swatches below, *Revlon Audacious (reviewed) and Maybelline Vibrant Mandarin lean decidedly coral versus *Clarins Juicy Clementine (reviewed) which is a true orange in my opinion and MAC Lady Danger which is as well-balanced as an orange-red can get. I'm going to swatch Audacious and Vibrant Mandarin against the corals during a future round of Lipstick Survivor, and I'm pretty sure one of them won't make it. I've worn both of them only a few times and never really got to a truly comfortable stage with either. As for Juicy Clementine and Lady Danger though: freaking love!

I then decided to revisit my orange blushes (last stash visit was two years ago) and was surprised to discover that the orange spectrum ran wider than I had supposed.

Again, only two are truly "orange" in my opinion, being Canmake Cream Cheek #4 and a limited edition Maybelline #210 Coral Burst. Never buy something based on shade name alone because how terribly misleading. I can't stand it when oranges are called corals and corals are called oranges. No, no, no, no, no. MAC Modern Mandarin, which I always believed to be quite orange, turned out to swatch a cool coral on my skin while Becca Papaya/Topaz (reviewed) ran quite rusty due to the Topaz factor. (Papaya on its own is a striking orange-red.) I still like Modern Mandarin a lot despite its interloper status in the land of oranges, and I don't regret exiling Chanel Frivole, as the two were quite similar (look orange in pan; swatch coral). I have a sly eye on Josie Maran Coconut Watercolor Cheek Gelee in Coral Oasis (described as "tangerine orange," groan) but I'm not fully convinced at this point that I like the translucent jelly finish on my cheek and want to make a dent in the Canmake before I consider other orange liquid/cream cheek options.

I have a weird love/hate with neroli and orange blossom scented things, but I happen to love the smell of the fruit itself, whether it's orange, mandarin, tangerine or clementine. One of my all-time favourite perfumes is Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Mandarine-Basilic which never fails to cheer me up with its sunshiny-juicy burst of citrus that's not too astringent nor sweet, anchored by something more sophisticated and long-lasting at the base. Similarly cheering are the two orange nail polishes alongside it in the pic below.

Deborah Lippmann Lara's Theme (reviewed) is a true bright orange while Chanel Holiday comes close to straddling the red zone but resists last second. (Post here compares both with two other orange nail polishes.) Both boast excellent formula that makes application a breeze.

Other orange contenders? If you like your orange less citrus and more spicy and herbal, take a look at a new addition to the famous Smith's Rosebud Lip Salve family: *Rose & Mandarin Lip Balm. It comes in the traditional tin as shown below (CAD$9, Sephora) and in tube form (CAD$8, Sephora). My favourite Smith's balm remains the original Rosebud, but I'm happy to see the Smith's lineup expand. (The other new scent/flavour is Menthol & Eucalyptus but I don't have that one, nor can I stand menthol in lip products.)

To complicate the orange lipstick situation is a thing that happened during birthday week (one of three things, I might add). I probably shouldn't have, but I stepped foot into the Burberry flagship store during an outing and came out with the new Burberry Kisses Lipstick in No. 73 Bright Coral (CAD$36, now available online at Hudson's Bay) -- aaaand yep, it's a coral that looks orange. The sales guy and I agreed this was the colour for me. I know he was there to sell and happy to have a customer in an otherwise empty store, but he was also genuinely helpful as he shot down a cool pinkish coral that I insisted on trying for comparison's sake (Me: "It will look like puke on me but I MUST KNOW.") There's just something nice about a purchase that was confirmed as good by another person. Anyway, a full review is on the way.

And finally, the other orange-related item that's tempting me is Atelier Cologne's Mandarine Glaciale from the new Collection Azur line. I never really fell for anything from Atelier Cologne before and was glad because I find their pricing to be a touch higher than is comfortable: CAD$30 for a small 0.25oz travel spray, CAD$90 for an adorable 1oz mini bottle and CAD$130 for the too-large 3.3oz bottle.

I like Mandarine Glaciale because it's the cooler counterpart to my beloved Guerlain Mandarine-Basilic. Where M-B leans sunny and warm, MG is a cool breeze in the shade on a hot day. Juicy orange accompanied by minty freshness -- how can you say no? I noticed that Sephora seated this one in particular in the men's fragrance section as well as women's, and this is in line with my slowly growing preference for more "unisex" scents. And to be fully honest, I'm seriously taken in by the gorgeous blue bottle as well with the orange accent. Sounds like a losing battle to me. Thank goodness Sephora VIB sale loometh once more.

See? Obsessed.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spring Pastels for Me?

Most of you know I go through colour phases, or rather, more accurately: obsessions. I'll suddenly feel electrified by an image somewhere and the next thing I know, I'm pinning editorial looks, tracking down long-disappeared makeup and experimenting as if the chance may never come again.

When it comes to makeup, pastels and I are usually enemies. Although I admire the delicately fragile sort of beauty they invoke come spring, I've always considered them unflattering on my own complexion. Something about the whitened shades drains me of all energy and drama, emphasizing sallowness of a sun-deprived post-winter complexion. The saddest part is that they don't show up very well on my skin even if I wanted to work a corpsey look. I'd simply look half-dead, not artfully pastelly-dead.

'Let's change that this year,' I said to myself, as the pastels again emerged for the season and I nurtured this new obsession. Here are some of the images that fueled my imagination.

Talbot Runhof Spring 2014

The dashes of baby blue on the lower line on an otherwise bare face kill me. The lashes and brows are immaculately groomed but kept very natural, not piled with mascara or brow gel. In fact, the hairs look entirely naked. As for the sharp, jutting cheekbones, I'd like to think it's genetics at play rather than contour shades and photoshop but who the heck knows.

Unable to find source -- found at

Admittedly, the prettiest thing about this look is the shiny bob with a full wave, but this look incorporates both light blue lids and rosy pink lips without making the model look like a pre-teen playing at makeup. I'm a little amused to see crease lines breaking across the smooth blue of the lid (she is human and one of us, one of us) but mostly I'm fascinated by how that blue is taken WAY up to the brow bone and yet it still manages to be one of the most beautiful looks found on the internet. Again, note the spareness of drama on the rest of the face -- natural-looking skin, brow and lashes.

Valentino Fall 2011

This is the look that inspired my orange kick, with soft echoes of colour accenting lids, cheeks and lips. The only other hint of makeup here is the highlighting on inner corners of eyes and above the cupid's bow. I'd say that the colours here are soft peachy-apricot tones rather than orange, but as someone who is unable to quite work the pastel face yet, I adapted it to flatter myself that it was similar enough and that I was working the concept if not executing it halfway decently.

Armani Spring/Summer 2014

This look isn't quite pastel, but the soft diffusing of the teal shadows reminded me of the sort of shades I spotted in Laura Mercier Watercolor Mist Palette. I was really tempted to get the palette as compensation for the lack of true pastels in my life but managed to resist after swatching at the counter. Although the colours are wonderfully moody and perfectly appropriate for Canadian spring (muddy grounds and dirty snow), I felt each shade wasn't distinct enough and tended to blur into dirty hazes on my skin tone. And looking at the shot above, I'm noticing the model sport an exceptionally pale face with a more normal looking neck and chest. Not sure if they made her face paler so as to show off the look better or if it was the work of unsuitable base products bouncing off flash photography.

Found on

Lavender shadows and pale peach lips -- my sworn enemies! I'm waffling a little on whether I could use a peach lipstick in my collection or not, and I'm currently leaning towards not. I could take a soft, neutral tube and mix a little coral or orange into it and oh hey, look at me working that pro MUA backstage magic. As for the lavender shadow, I nearly bought one a month ago but remembered just in time that one of the Revlon PhotoReady Eye Arts that I hung onto is a similar enough light purple to get the job done when I get that curious hankering for lavender lids. Speaking of these Eye Arts, they're excellent dupes for the new liquid shadows from Armani and YSL that cost almost $40 per tube here in Canada. I'm thinking Revlon needs to re-issue these guys with an expanded shade range replace the silly, twee glitter tips with a corresponding matte shade to the shimmery tone. (Yeah, you're welcome, Revlon.)

A quick look into my stash revealed these products:

Maybelline The Elixir in 090 Rose Redefined, MAC Huggable Lipcolour in Out For Passion (LE), YSL Rouge Pur Couture The Mats in 210 Nude Acoustic (LE):

Shu Uemura Tint in Gelato in CR 01 Blood Orange (review), MAC Powder Blush in Peony Petal:

Revlon PhotoReady Eye Art in 020 Lilac Luster (LE) (review), Maybelline Color Tattoo in 115 Shimmering Sea (LE), Illamasqua Cream Pigment in Bedaub:

Not everything is "pastel" in the strict sense of the word, but these are about the softest colours I own, and I'm enjoying experimenting with them. My aim isn't to mimic the editorial looks so much as to figure out ways to make these lighter shades appear more flattering. So far I've discovered that a touch of it on the face is good, and surprisingly, that pairing one of these pastels with a bolder focal point is also not out of bounds. For example, the other day I took the lilac Revlon and paired it with Chanel Triomphal, a deeply saturated red gloss that I've had for probably too long now and can't find enough fancy occasions to wear because it is SUPER red and SUPER glossy.

Instead of applying them fully opaque, like this:

I patted down the red into a stain on the lips, more like this:

And zomg, pretty spring-time look without looking washed out and nowhere near dead.

All this is to say I'm inspired and I'm having fun, and it doesn't mean buying a hoard of new things just to meet a temporary need that is already giving way to yet another obsession. That orange kick I mentioned earlier? Blossoming into a full-blown head to toe makeup to perfume domination of my entire existence. Yeah, we'll talk about that another day.

How do you like to wear pastels? How do you deal with colours you like but find hard to wear?

Friday, March 20, 2015


All right, let's do this. IT'S TIME.

Basically, I was fine with my bountiful stash until I stopped being able to remember what exactly was in that stash. That's kind of a problem, mostly because it means my memory is CRAP. In any case, I'm not about to create a spreadsheet listing my makeups, nor am I going to buckle down and learn all the lipsticks. Stubborn mule that I am, I also refuse to upgrade makeup storage to blogger/YouTuber-favoured IKEA/MUJI drawer systems. If there's more storage space, believe you me, I'm going to fill 'em up in no time.

When I showed the above picture on my Instagram several months back, I didn't even realize that in fact I actually owned 19 MAC lipsticks, not 14. I'm a little chagrined to admit only three were chosen by me (all mattes and Back 2 MAC pick-ups), and the rest were given to me by the ever fantabulous MAC Fairy who always gave me multiples of similar tones at once, based on my most recent colour obsessions. So I feel a little bad for eliminating some of the shades, but I've reached a lipstick threshold that I knew not existed, and I can't spend another season staring down these tubes. My brain -- 'tis broken by lipsticks. I think we all knew this day would come.


L-R: Venus, Out For Passion, Red Balloon, Good Taste, Love Forever, Flat Out Fabulous, Zen Rose

I could spend another two months trying to figure out what shade is from what limited edition collection, but no, we've already established my brain is broken. Please look to Google for that sort of thing. Straightforward swatches -- that's the goal today, because without seeing them all lined up crookedly against the inside of my arm, I could never have made the cuts. The other day I also made up my face casually and wore them on lips. ALL OF THEM. And no, I didn't overthink this at all, because anything that didn't elicit a smile was immediately sent to the exile pile.

EXILED: Venus (too pale), Good Taste (too similar to other preferred shades), Red Balloon (I had no strong opinion about it), and Love Forever (unflattering).


L-R: Amorous, Captive, Fashion Revival, Rebel, Heroine, Viva Glam Rihanna 2

Ah, if only I had five pairs of lips, three more brains just for additional memory and endless set of drawers for makeup storage. Throughout the culling process, I found there was a greater pleasure in lining up the tubes for colour comparisons than actually putting them on. My appreciation for colours and visuals don't always overlap with functional appreciation of makeup. This is one of the greatest reasons for the past four and a half years worth of struggle between wanting to hoard all the things and using up a "minimal" stash. I like looking at things, and having them. It's not always all about wearing.

EXILED: Amorous (I prefer other vamps in my stash) and Fashion Revival (too similar to other shades).

Captive vs. Amorous in better lighting:


L-R: Apres Chic, Viva Glam I, Perpetual Flame, Lady Danger, Relentlessly Red, Lady At Play

Even as I'm eliminating, I'm pondering what next to insert. Isn't it ridiculous? But seriously, I'm missing Ruby Woo, aren't I? It shall be remedied via my next B2M.

Now, in the swatches below, I shouldn't have included Perpetual Flame with the reds but didn't know where else to put it, and Viva Glam I looks so brown that I can no longer stand it. (Recall that I spent most of the '90s sporting various shades of poo.) And then my brain finally completely fizzled as I was matching name to swatch, mixing up Lady At Play and Relentlessly Red.

EXILED: Perpetual Flame (confusing shade that's neither here nor there) and Viva Glam I (too brown). Lady At Play almost got exiled as well but I want to battle bright corals this summer and conquer them once and for all.


The hilarious result of this exercise is that by now I've learned ALL the shades and ALL the names. Studying the lipsticks. It should be a class.

(In my best Probst voice!)

THE SURVIVORS, from left to right: Viva Glam Rihanna 2, Heroine, Rebel, Zen Rose, Flat Out Fabulous, Captive, Apres Chic, Lady Danger, Relentlessly Red, Lady At Play, Out For Passion. (11 in total. Did I use the word "minimal" somewhere earlier? SNORT.)

EXILED, from left to right: Venus, Good Taste, Red Balloon, Love Forever, Perpetual Flame, Viva Glam I, Fashion Revival, Amorous. (8 in total.)

I haven't completely decided what to do with the exiles. Some are in goody bags for friends, the rest maybe I'll eat for lunch. When I ponder the possibility of coming around to these shades in future seasons as trends and whimsy dictate, I start wanting to pillage my own goody bags. But the tattered remains of my makeup-addled brain gently reminds me that I have at least a dozen or more non-MAC lipsticks to examine and that ROUND II of LIPSTICK SURVIVOR is imminent.

I'm letting go!


Somewhat of a a strange footnote for this post, but I just wanted to let Toronto readers know about a great event coming up next week. My good friend Dr. Louise Hidinger of INGREDIENTS is giving a talk on "The Science of Beauty" to explain some basics science behind beauty ingredients and products as well as to cover (and debunk) some common misconceptions. (For example: Louise, will I die if I eat these lipsticks??)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015
6:00 p.m. - 8:15 p.m.
20 Covington Road, Toronto

If you plan to attend, call the library ahead of time to reserve a seat!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


I was tagged by Lily and her post just cracked me up because there's something about a makeup thief being kicked to death (well deserved), and I had to sit down and think hard about how I'd deal in the same situation. I'm still laughing about this.

You have to get rid of all of your foundations and only keep one high-end and one drugstore, which do you keep?

Why? What is happening? I need to know the context.

High end: former holy grail, Laura Mercier Oil-Free Supreme (mentioned herehere and here), now discontinued. Still the best match for shade, coverage and oil control.

Drugstore: L'Oreal Visible Lift Smooth Absolute (review), also discontinued. It gives me a flawless face but leaves me shiny within an hour or two. But that's what blotting sheets and powders are for. I get to bring powders too, right? Seriously -- where are we GOING?

You go for an interview and the lady interviewing you has lipstick on her teeth. Do you approach the subject or ignore it completely?

I always tell, be they friend or stranger. I'd want someone to tell me, and the people I've informed always end up thanking me profusely. Like, not just "Oh, thanks." but "OH MY GOD, THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH." Pro life tip, right here. I think it's totally fine to do it in an interview so long as you do it properly. Be helpful and tactful, and don't say it in front of other people like all, "Muhaha, lipstick on your teeth, clown face!"

You’re not feeling yourself and you need a pick-me-up lipstick, which do you go for?

MAC Lady Danger, or #LADIESDAAANGERRRR as Larie likes to put it.

Runner up: "BOW, BITCHES" except that it dried out and I don't have it anymore. Haven't replaced it because I'm capping the number of liquid lip products for time being.

Second runner up: MAC Relentlessly Red (review) because I have a thing for bright coral red lately. Been eyeing NARS Audacious in Grace but can't make myself spend that much on a lipstick when I have similar enough colours. Kind of. (Someone please give me a gentle shove?)

You go back in time for a day to your teenage years, how would you do your hair or makeup differently?

My hair was kind of awesome but I wasn't allowed to wear makeup at all. Nevertheless, I managed to discover that my personal MLBB shade was a sheer plum and usually stuck to things in that arena, but there was this awful phase with an obnoxiously bright orange lipstick that I now cringe to remember. Luckily there aren't any pictures from that tragic moment in time. I'd tell Young Liz to balance out the rest of the face first and then take charge with the orange lips. She would have had a field day with Lady Danger.

You ask your hairdresser for a shoulder length Pixie Lott hair cut but they hear wrong and give you a pixie cut, what do you do?

(a) Smile, say thank you, call your mum and cry hysterically
(b) Cry in the chair and things get awkward
(c) Complain to the manager and demand a refund

There's no crying in baseball. Get yo refund and then go buy a fabulously bold lipstick to go with that daring pixie. When I was 16, I had almost waist-length curly hair and went to a salon to chop it off to chin-length in one shot and the guy doing the cutting was practically weeping himself. Big sissy. It's just hair!

Your friend surprises you with a 4 day city break and you have one hour to pack, which ‘Do It All’ palette do you pack in your makeup bag?

The only multi-palette I now own is the Laura Mercier from Holiday 2014.

I suppose that it'll do. :-)

Your house has been robbed, don’t worry everyone is safe, but your beauty stash has been raided.

MOTHERFUCKER. When I find the bastard, we're BOTH going to jail. LIZ HULK SMASH!

Wait, what's the question?

What’s the product you really hope is safe?

Oh. Dior Tailleur Bar, for sure. It's going to be an heirloom.

Your friend borrows makeup and returns it in an awful condition. Do you:

(a) Pretend you haven’t noticed
(b) Ask them to re-purchase it
(c) Secretly do it back to their makeup

Or... (d) Pretend I don't have a friend anymore?

Just kidding. I'd be the fool for letting the friend "borrow" my makeup and would have to deal with the damage. I think the whole concept of letting someone borrow a personal item equates to being okay with potential damages or loss. And I think we always know in our gut who can be trusted to return goods in proper condition and who can't. If we're too cowardly to speak up and say no, well... who is really to blame?

Do the tag if you'd like! I'm specifically tagging:

Auxiliary Beauty
brush & bullet
Cheap as Fuck

Show us your dark sides, hahaha!