Thursday, November 27, 2014

Sonia Kashuk All That Jazz 10-Piece Brush Set for Holiday 2014

This post features press samples.

I don't talk about brushes much, mostly because I have a strange array of economical picks that aren't as exciting to talk about as, say, Suqqu. Hell, I don't even have any Bobbi Brown or NARS brushes to show you. But somehow I've been making do, and I don't feel a lack or void in my makeupping life. I guess brushes usually don't get me very excited, even if they're made out of the softest of blue squirrel fur or unicorn tresses.

What I do like to see are solid picks from brands I can easily get my hands on and not have to give up my life savings for. I have a handful of reliable brushes from Sonia Kashuk's core collection and always take a look at her seasonal value brush sets while taking long, romantic walks down Target's makeup aisles. For this holiday season, Sonia Kashuk has this gorgeous 10-piece brush set that would look amazing under the Christmas tree.

As pretty as these brushes look, what interests me more is how they perform. I'll briefly run through each brush and help you decide whether the set is worth fighting the mall crowd for. By the way, the brushes are 100% cruelty-free and are composed of both synthetic and animal hairs.

Domed Powder Brush (goat hair) - My favourite of the set, and possibly my new favourite powder brush. It picks up powder well without overloading and feels soft and luxurious on skin. The angled tip is perfect for getting into even the corners of the eyes and nose. Also works well to blend or diffuse blush.

Flat Top Multipurpose Brush (goat  hair) - I had high expectation of this brush in particular because I love the similarly shaped No. 4 brush from the Sonia Kashuk Tools line, but it feels too floppy to use with liquid or cream products, and the hairs constantly shed before AND after washing. DISAPPOINT.

Angled Duo Fiber Multipurpose Brush (goat hair and nylon mix) -  I had a poor experience with a similar brush from EcoTools so no expectations here, but this one ended up impressing me with firmly packed bristles that don't leave streak marks and work well to buff product over skin.

Foundation Brush (nylon) - It's been a while since I've used a traditional paddle brush and this one is better than the Sephora brand I had for a long time and superior even to the By Terry brush with the loose ferrule. No shedding, no streak marks - nice and even application with bristles at just the right length. (I find most traditional foundation brushes are too long.)

Eye Shadow Brush (goat hair) - I'm starting to find that goat hair doesn't necessarily mean it's better than synthetic bristles. This one is a mess of uneven hair lengths fanning out to strange proportions and sheds, before and after washing.

Blending Brush (goat hair) - Nice and soft with a firmly packed base and good give on tip of bristles. Both this and the Eye Shadow Brush are slightly on the bigger side.

Angled Duo Fiber Crease Brush (pony hair and synthetic mix) - Perhaps the most well-constructed of the eye brushes in this kit -- the cut angle is clear and firm without being too dense or overpacked. I wish my eyes had bigger crease to enjoy this brush better.

Domed Pencil Brush (synthetic) - I really like this one as it's the perfect shape and size for getting into the crease and feels soft to the touch while retaining firmness and density without shedding.

Synthetic Pointed Eye Liner Brush - The bristles are layered and cut to create the pointed tip, and while it works as a decent pointed brush, it's not the smallest nor the most precise eye liner brush you'll encounter.

Lash/Brow Groomer (nylon) - The brow groomer has the feel of a medium-to-hard toothbrush but oddly doesn't feel abrasive on the skin at all and brushes my brow hairs well into place. The lash groomer is a typical size, which always means it's too big to be employed on my sparse lashes.

Overall, the set has a few duds with mostly very good brushes to a few exceptional ones. All the brushes are soft and I'm happy to report none contain abrasive or scratchy bristles. The major problems are the shedding and arrangement of the goat hair brushes.

If you already have a decent sized collection and want to supplement with a few extras (or are drawn by the lovely gold and black packaging), the good brushes in this set are worth taking a browse for in-store. If you're looking for mostly eye brushes, I would cast my gaze elsewhere for a set that has more consistent quality across the board, especially if you have small eyes like I do and require shorter bristles with greater precision. If you're a beginner looking to start with a decently priced brush set (this set amounts to less than $4 per brush), most definitely cut a b-tch if you manage to see this on sale. (Or grab this smaller travel set.) My local Target didn't have any of the All That Jazz sets on the shelf by the time I strolled by to check out the holiday collection in their natural habitat, but I expect it may be replenished a couple of times before things get really crazy at the store. If you miss this set completely, no fear -- I'm sure that Spring 2015 Collection will have similar offerings, although maybe not as glamorous looking. *making jazz hands at you guys*

CAD$34.99/USD$34.99, available exclusively at Target (in-store for Canadians, online for you lucky Americans.) Read more about these brushes on Sonia Kashuk

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Me-Time Tag

I was tagged by the lovely Marianna in one of her recent videos, and I thought it would be nice to squeeze in a chat session in between product reviews. Grab a cup of coffee or tea and get comfortable. :-)

What do you watch or read during me-time?

Me-time is all about TV marathons. TV productions are now so much better than the average Hollywood movies, and there are a lot of quality shows to pick from. I don't have cable and dislike having to juggle too many shows at once, so I blast through past seasons on DVDs or Netflix at pretty horrifying speed. (For example, I finished Game of Thrones Season 1 in one night and went to work the next morning bleary-eyed but satisfied. Sort of. Poor Ned.) Currently I'm on a Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathon because apparently I was too busy for TV during the late '90s. [Update: I had to stop in the middle of Season 5 because I hit my monthly internet bandwidth limit!] Before Buffy, I was slowly savouring Justified Season 4 and now I'm anxiously waiting for the price of Season 5 DVDs to drop so that I can continue watching Raylan and Boyd kick ass and take names. I hate that Netflix has such a limited collection to choose from. This is why people like me still buy DVDs.

What do you wear during me-time?

I look like a hobo most of the time with no makeup, wearing glasses and "home clothes" which are regular clothing that are too old to be worn outdoors and have become unofficial pajamas. Also fluffy robe (need a new one), Hello Kitty pajama pants and fluffy socks. Me-time is all about giving zero crap about external appearance. Physical comfort rules.

What are your me-time beauty products?

A good lip balm, hand cream and perfume of the moment puts me into zen mode. If I'm feeling up to it, a face mask is good, too.

Current favorite nail polish?

Dior Bar. I've never gone plain black on nails before but I'm really liking how clean and sharp it can look. Black nails have become weirdly elegant, no longer "bad ass."

What do you eat or drink during me-time?

Pretty much anything my heart desires. I go with my craving, which is usually salty and savoury over sweet. (If you're thinking about my donut binges, that happens once a month when I'm hormonal and temporarily insane. Usually.) Favourite snacks are blocks of cheese (blue, gouda, havarti, brie) with beer (lager) or wine (red). Sometimes entire stacks of Pringles or a loaf of soft egg bread. With kolbassa or pate. Or anything rice and chicken.

Current favorite candle?

Thyme Frasier Fir. It smells like Christmas morning.

And any candle in mercury jars BECAUSE PRETTY.

Do you ever have outdoor me-time?

As often as possible. In the summer I like to soak up as much sunlight as I can, and even in winter I like to go for walks on still nights while bundled up head to toe. I don't go to the gym or play sports, so these walks are important. I like being around tall trees with canopies because they have a calming influence.

I also like to creep on squirrels. They're funny to watch.

Sigh, I miss leaves.

Would you ever go see a movie alone?

I've done it a couple of times because no one else wanted watch those movies or I just could not bother to wait and coordinate with other people. I think that I'd watch movies alone quite often if I cared more about movies. Often I feel disappointed after leaving the theatre and think that the movies weren't worth sitting through obnoxious audiences and paying admission. The last one I remember liking is The King's Speech and that was a while ago as you can see.

Favourite online shop?

I don't shop online very often because most websites charge too much for shipping to Canadia. But I always enjoy a good browse and the occasional purchase from

Anything to add? What else do you do during me-time?

Sometimes a bubble bath if my mood dictates water therapy, sometimes an intense quality moment with a bottle of wine, sometimes just an extra long night of sleep, sometimes window-shopping at the mall, sometimes holing up in a library and reading some really obscure things that catch my fancy, sometimes sitting in a cozy cafe with a yummy dessert, sometimes attempting to make yummy desserts and failing miserably... I'm never bored with myself and there can never be enough me-time.

Do the tag! Do the tag!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Pixi Shea Butter Lip Balm Trio for Holiday 2014 (Limited Edition)

This post features press samples.

In case you haven't noticed, Target recently stocked their beauty shelves with some exciting new holiday releases. Throughout the next few weeks, I'll be showcasing a bunch of new products from Target favourites Pixi and Sonia Kashuk, starting with this adorable set of Pixi Shea Butter Lip Balms.

Left to right: Comfort Clear, Honey Nectar, Ripe Raspberry.

Honey Nectar on lips:

Ripe Raspberry on lips:

Obviously I'm not bothering with a lip swatch of Comfort Clear because it's... clear. But can I just say that I've finally found the perfect lip balm in a tube at last??? I've been on the hunt all year and either didn't like the formula, scent or shape of other balms. Honestly, I didn't have huge expectation from Pixi but they really impressed me with this cutesy set. Each balm is super soft, hydrating and emollient. They're vanilla-scented, similar to the fragrance of MAC lipsticks, which might be a turn-off if you don't like scented lip products. But if you like vanilla and shea, you must check this out. The balms are especially formulated for dry, chapped lips even in severe climates -- much like the five months of dreary Canadian winter that lies ahead of me. The clear balm is great even as an overnight treatment, and I love Ripe Raspberry for daytime. (Honey Nectar unfortunately gives me nude concealer lips.) Personally, I think that these Pixi balms are WAY better than the overrated Fresh tinted lip balms as well as Maybelline Baby Lips or Burt's Bees. YES.

Although the trio is a limited edition set, you can buy the balms individually at any time. I think that there's an orangey coral shade that needs my attention in the near future. To be completely honest, I'm not really on board with the plastic green packaging that screams adolescent makeup, but the product inside has totally won me over to the point that I don't care. I think that I just found this year's best stocking stuffers.

CAD$16/USD$16 for the trio or CAD$8/USD$8 per balm, 4g/0.141oz. Made in USA.

Available at Target Canada, (US) and Pixi Beauty (UK and international).

Ingredients: Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Polybutene, Ozokerite, Octyldodecanol, Beeswax, Trihydroxystearin, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-di-t-butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Phenoxyethanol, Vanillin. [+/- colour].

Sunday, November 23, 2014

NEW Revlon PhotoReady Eye Art Lid + Line + Lash (Limited Edition)

This post features press samples.

Ah, limited edition drugstore releases -- you conflict me. On the one hand, you excite me. On the other, what a pain. What if we fall in love and can't repurchase again? What if we're overeager and purchase without research only to hate you?

Hopefully my review of the new Revlon PhotoReady Eye Art Lid + Line + Lash will help prevent the last scenario. I was sent two shades to review: 020 Lilac Luster and 100 Topaz Twinkle.

PhotoReady Eye Art is a dual-ended cream eye shadow and glitter liner. It's called "Lid + Line + Lash" because you can apply the glitter to tips of lashes as well, but I doubt that most of us will be doing that. The cream shadow applicator is a standard size/shape doe foot sponge tip and the glitter eyeliner applicator is a small pointed brush. The PhotoReady Eye Art packaging as a whole unfortunately resembles the Revlon Nail Art Moon Candy range. I get that they want to keep the "Art" series uniform, but I've witnessed the confusion at drugstores already -- misplaced Nail Art bottles sitting on Eye Art displays and probably the other way around as well. If you're interested in purchasing Eye Arts, make sure that you're actually picking up an Eye Art and not a Nail Art. And especially don't get the Nail Art anywhere near your eyes.

There are 10 duos in the Eye Art range and I must say that the multi-coloured shimmers and sparkles look very enticing as we approach the holiday season. Looking at them certainly cheers me up during the cold grey lull up here in Canada. (FYI to US readers: our Thanksgiving holiday was in October and as soon as November 11 is over, it's go-time on Christmas madness since there's nothing else left to look forward to.)

Swatches! Don't they look pretty? Topaz Twinkle is a pretty bronzy-gold and Lilac Luster is a cool-toned light purple. In one stroke, the cream shadows apply fully opaque and quickly begin to set to a budge-proof finish. The glitters are slightly trickier, as they're suspended in clear gloss, and it can be tricky to get all the glitter strategically placed in one location without piling up on too much gloss or disturbing the flecks you've already laid down.

Close-ups. Note that the glitter flecks correspond to the cream shadow shades but also contain multi-coloured bits for added dimension.

As you know, I'm not a big "eye art" person and have only touched glitter eyeliners a few times ever, but I think that these Eye Arts are okay. Here is one stroke of Topaz Twinkle along my lash line.

And this is a dab of the Topaz Twinkle shadow cream on the other eye, blended with brush for a natural, everyday look. I can amp this up by applying an additional layer and blending less.

And once these suckers set, they pretty much stay there all day. They're easily removable with micellar water or makeup removers, but they don't slip or crease on me even without primer. The only issue that I have with the cream shadow is that it you try to blend while the shadow is drying, it can start to become patchy and difficult to work with -- but that just means that you have to work faster than usual and try to keep the look simple. I think the cream shadow works well as a base for powder shadows as well, but again, don't blend too much or you'll end up removing the cream off the lids. They're also better blended with brushes rather than finger tips, and I like that they're adjustable, going from a sheer wash of colour all the way up to all-out bling fest. The glitter can also go on top of the cream shadow of course and basically stay there all night with minimal fallout.

This sort of liquidy cream shadow can be problematic for those who don't like wet textures, and I won't say that these are so revolutionary that they'll change your mind if you belong to the non-liquid camp. But I do like them personally because once they set, they stay on my lids. I might have to chase down Black Brilliance the next time I pass a display.

Suggested retail price: CAD$11.49. Available now at drugstores and mass retailers across Canada until supplies last.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Current Makeup Faves

This is just a quick post on some of my current favourite makeup. I wanted to conduct a detailed round-up but find myself pressed for time right now with too many reviews in queue. I have a lot of posts coming up in the next few weeks and hope to get them all out on time so that I can take a mini break during the holidays. Have a browse through the post and let me know in the comments if you have any questions or would like to see a detailed review in the future.

One of these is now my new favourite mascara and I've gone crazy and stocked up with least 6 new tubes.

I tried a sample of this a year ago and liked it a lot. (See review.) I've been thinking that Dior and I should become better friends.

I don't think that I'm going to review this BITE Beauty set of minis in full, but what you need to know is that the raves are true and I am now smitten. Damn them. Unfortunately the palest shade on the far right gives me concealer lips, but I'm still happy with the other three.

NARS Autumn Leaves -- the perfect non-plummy fall lipstick.

Tarte Angelic highlighter -- still my go-to.

The original LORAC Pro foreverandeveramen.

* * *

I've been more active on Instagram as of late, so follow along there for daily beauty updates. Right now I'm in the middle of #30blush and #30daysoflipsticks. It causes me as equal parts joy and anxiety, LOL.