Monday, August 31, 2015

Opaque Red Lips for Fall 2015 and a BRUTAL round of LIPSTICK SURVIVOR

ZOMG, another post and now the word "brutal" is used.

If you've been following along on Twitter or Instagram, you already know that I picked up a copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up which is fanning the flames of contemporary minimalist movement. It's a small book and a fascinating read, so I tore through it this weekend and decided to put some of the KonMari Method into practice for a trial run while I was still reading it. Marie Kondo would never advise such a thing, but the book was inspiring and since I was already in the middle of a large cull, I carpediemed the hell out. Since Tidying Up is so popular and many people expressed curiosity and interest, I'll go ahead and do a full review of the book in the near future. For now, we have lipstick to discuss.


It's hard to believe that I used to be afraid of wearing opaque red lips but it's a common fear out there. Self-consciousness is a hard shell and we need to be bonked over the head into realizing that not that many people out there in the world give a crap about what colour our lips are. Your friends will probably declare it's fabulous, and if anyone doesn't like it -- well, that's too fucking bad. Do we or should we care what they think? (I'm speaking on a more of social/casual level; work environments are more complicated.)

Now I love wearing red lipsticks, and the only reason I don't wear it more often is out of laziness because it does take time to shape the lips and keep from veering into clown territory. (To me, clown cheeks are perfectly acceptable while clown mouths are debatable.) Also: I have many, many other lipsticks to consider. Still, I somehow managed to end up with nine opaque red lipsticks. This is not even including red glosses, tints and balms, so you can imagine the time eaten up each day trying to make a decision about what shade of red I need to sport.

From left to right: NARS Cruella, Bite Beauty Pomegranate, MAC Apres Chic, MAC Huggable in Flaming Lips, MAC Huggable in Dramatical, Hourglass Raven, Shiseido RD 553, Clarins Red Fuchsia and Clinique Cherry Pop.

(As a side note, I only purchased Pomegranate, Apres Chic and Flaming Lips. Cruella is a Sephora perk, Dramatical and Cherry Pop were gifts, RD 553 was a contest win and Raven and Red Fuchsia are press samples.)


At first I tried to weed them out on my own, slowly and modestly... reluctantly. Because I rather like them ALL. What's not to like? After reading Tidying Up though, it again hit me that I wouldn't really be enjoying the hell out of reds if I'm forever stressing about what's going to expire and which I'm neglecting, and I am so sick of the internal battle. Not the end of the world if I give up some lipsticks. If I regret anything, it's not like I can't go out and buy another one. (Not during the no-buy period but like... in the distant future. Eventually. I hope.)

Anyway, long story short: I've decided to get rid of everything but for NARS Cruella (which I have two of; I originally had three and gifted one away) and Bite Pomegranate. I KNOW. Heartbreak and rending of hair and ashes in my hair and clothes. Yeah, yeah. The end.

Seriously. The end. Rosy neutrals up next.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

One Out, One In: Eye Creams, Facial Mists and Lip Balms

I know that this isn't the most exciting sort of post despite the revamp from the older empties style, but the slower pace of "emptying" and displaying has a calming influence rather than hurried and manic. It now seems to me that I finish products so much more quickly than I can foresee or anticipate, instead of feeling like a bottle is taking forever and will never die. Maybe having a bunch of backups isn't so terrible. (Marie Kondo is shaking her head at me: 'no no no no NO!')


EYE CREAMS - I use them diligently now. Not the end of the world if I run out, but my eyes are a little sensitive and water more easily these days.

OUT: Vichy ProEVEN (press sample) - I might do a quick review of the entire ProEVEN range. If so, that would be the very last dedicated press sample "review" on this blog. The eye cream was my favourite of the lot because it hydrated well despite the light texture and seemed to sink into the skin instead of merely sitting on top. I may actually have to buy this after I polish off the skin care hoard.

IN: Lirikos Marine Antiaging Eye Cream (gift from Korea) and Avene Soothing Eye Contour Cream - I've already finished the Lirikos sample and thought it was just okay. I'm now halfway through the Avene and prefer Vichy ProEVEN. While a nice, basic cream, the Avene feels like something that would layer well over a more hydrating serum. It's also expensive given the small size and impossible to work into the skin while damp with water or toner.


FACIAL MISTS - A must-have for me during summer months. But I rarely like to pay for them.

OUT: Vichy Eau Thermale (press sample) - Honestly can't tell a difference between this and any other similar waters out there. It was nice to have on hand during the heat wave though. I misted myself from head to toe with it and that helped me sleep better during hot nights.

Also out by this point: Avene Eau Thermale - Same as above. I got this for free at Shoppers Drug Mart while buying the Eye Contour Cream. It wasn't a bonus pack or a gift with purchase -- the SA was just really nice. She also gave me a mini Klorane dry shampoo but I put that into a donation bag for my sister's organization that works with homeless and at-risk youths.

IN: Innisfree Green Tea Mineral Mist - I found the Innisfree Green Tea range at a random Asian beauty shop near Yonge and Finch and was so happy that I immediately invested in the facial mist since it was the beginning of summer. And then I chose to ignore it, lol. It has the same nice and fresh scent as the rest of the range and tastes a little sweet if you happen to have your mouth open while misting. Yeah, I guess that happens sometimes... but it's kind of yum?!

Also in: Caudalie Beauty Elixir - I've talked about this before and swear by it. I think it's a great toner/mist for oily skin. Anyone dry or dehydrated complain about the alcohol but I think that's what works so well for me along with the other antiseptic ingredients. Seems to keep my face clear and glowy. I'm also insane about the smell which I disliked at first.


LIP BALM - I've become much more low maintenance about lip balms after eliminating most lip glosses. YES, it was the glosses that were drying out my lips. Funny, isn't it? Now I don't have to use anything fancier than the Nivea to keep the lips happy. I'm working on finishing off the over-rated Jack Black and really hate that the label gets scratched off the second you throw it into a purse. Not buying again.

OUT: Nivea.
IN: Another Nivea.


Bonus round - samples! I didn't really keep track of the one-time use sachets and have also thrown out a bunch of old lip products and brushes that remain undocumented. But I wanted to throw this up here as a reminder that skin care samples do go bad and should be used or tossed as soon as possible.

Clarins sunscreen - I don't even know which this is (I can't find it on any Canadian sites) but it lasted quite a while (2-3 weeks used daily on face only) and had a nice, smooth and silky texture although it's not dry-touch and felt hydrating and comfortable as well. It's similar to the popular La Roche-Posay Anthelios SPF60 for face. I'd stick to the cheaper option going forward. I'm using the LRP now but miss my old Neutrogena, so I'll probably go back to that later.

Algenist Genius Ultimate Anti-Aging Vitamin C+ Serum - Love the idea of having more Vit C in my skin care but my face seems sensitive to it.

Avene serum - I wasn't crazy about it and prefer this Vichy which feels more "wet" and hydrating.

Avene light cream - Quite nice if you want a fuss-free basic moisturizer. I actually bought a full-size tube but in the heavy version for winter.

Lirikos samples in tubes - It was either empty, dried out or the pumps didn't work. I was very happy to discover this at home and that I hadn't taken them on some trip only to be stranded with no products.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Beauty No-Buy until January 2016

I actually don't have that much to say about the no-buy itself as a plan. It's full-stop no beauty purchase until 2016. That means not only no makeup but no skincare, no hair things, no perfumes, nada. I don't want to find loopholes around it, and I am not even going to redeem points for freebies unless I run out of a necessity like shower gel or face lotion. It means no Sephora VIB sale in November, no x% back on Ebates (although you should use my referral link to sign up if you shop frequently online), no cross-border/holiday shopping, NOTHING. January isn't a random date either. I plan on skipping holiday shopping as well, unless obviously I'm buying for others.

What is spurring this crazy commitment? Well, I think that I've just about had enough with my own junkie behaviour. It was okay while I was experimenting a lot and trying different looks and techniques, but that's sort of simmered down as of late and I want to focus my energies in other directions. (What that is is yet to be determined but I'll never get there if all I'm doing is mooning over makeup. I'll likely pick up a course or two this year and try my hand at a new skill or discipline.) By now I know what sort of stuff I like and don't like. I know what my habits are (lazy) and inclinations are (natural, "no makeup makeup"). I've also become open-minded to looks that I would not have dared when I first began this blog -- and weirdly, now that I can wear strong or strange colours without feeling terribly insecure, I don't really care about acquiring those things as much.

Sure, I want pretty new things, of course. I always want pretty new things. And the biggest temptation for me is definitely sales/bargains. If I stop to look in a shop, I'll surely find something worth buying. I see something enticing and already my brain is thinking up a hundred reasons for why I deserve it. And please know one thing: I'm not denying myself this year because I don't deserve nice things. I'm saying no because I already have so many nice things. I don't need L'Oreal to tell me that I'm worth it. I know that I am. I am also worth more than the continual self-gift of makeup.

I also think that saying no to press samples has really paved the way to coming to terms with the amount of things I own. When free products were landing at the door all the time, I had the excuse of saying that blogging left me overwhelmed and that being disorganized was somehow inevitable given the crazy number of products rotating in and out. I have literally said no to everything coming my way since May and I still find myself with overcrowded cabinets, drawers and boxes. Some people are great about getting rid of things and purging regularly but I've always had a bad hoarding habit and never really kicked it. Currently I'm working hard at it, slowly but surely. Somewhere within all this is a future post about the self and creation of identities tied with belongings and material wealth, but I'm sure you've read similar posts on other blogs or maybe even entire books on such subjects. I find myself still in the learning process.

So, basically, I hope to have purged and decluttered quite a bit by January. And spurred on by this no-buy, I will give more appreciation to the things that I own and wean myself off the habit of making purchases to make myself feel better about a bad day or an aspect of my life or sense of being. To be honest, until now I didn't want to do anything permanent about it. Even the original premise of this blog and all the previous tactics and attempts at reducing were half-measures at best. Maybe that was because I did them out of some sort of guilt or obligation, and worst of all, expected to be held accountable by making my weakness public. But now... I just want to, and I don't feel anxious or sad or anything like that. It just feels right.

That's all. I just want to clean up and move on to the next thing. I may or may not update throughout this process. They may come in forms of tweets or Instagram pics instead, and there are a couple of blog sales ahead to help with the decluttering bit. (One coming up shortly and another later in winter.) I should also note that the no-buy isn't for the purpose of rewarding myself afterwards with more things. If anything, I hope to extend the no-buy even further and be able to let go of more things. I have no intention of going all-out minimalist, but somewhere between this and that, there's a healthy balance that I can be happier with. I'm already happier just thinking about it and very much looking forward to enjoying that new stage.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Berry Lips for Fall 2015 plus a mini round of LIPSTICK SURVIVOR

There are three colour families that I want to work during this upcoming fall/winter season: berries/ plum, rosy neutrals and reds (both sheer and opaque). Nothing groundbreaking here. After countless experimenting and fussing around with different brands and formulas, I'm content to rest in the knowledge that I have some damn good lipsticks in my stash and that they need to be worn more frequently. As usual, there's going to be a return to jewel tones and neutrals for the long, cold seasons ahead, and the lip shades I've chosen are complementary to those palettes.

Today I have the berry/plum picks to mull over. The only new lipstick that joined the group this year is Bite Beauty's limited edition Canada-only Matte Creme Lipstick in Mulled Maple. More on that in detail at the end of this post.


Ah, there's nothing like a row of nicely coordinated lipstick bullets, even though I honestly think that I have about three tubes too many here to do each any proper justice.

From left to right: Dior Pied-de-Poule (LE), Hourglass Nocturnal, Bite Mulled Maple, MAC Fashion Revival (LE), MAC Rebel and MAC Amorous.


In the same order as above, from left to right: Dior Pied-de-Poule (LE), Hourglass Nocturnal, Bite Mulled Maple, MAC Fashion Revival (LE), MAC Rebel and MAC Amorous.


Again, in different lighting: Dior Pied-de-Poule (LE), Hourglass Nocturnal, Bite Mulled Maple, MAC Fashion Revival (LE), MAC Rebel and MAC Amorous.

Dior PdP is my glam shade, Hourglass Nocturnal is the everyday shade, Bite is going back to Sephora (!!!), Fashion Revival may get the boot (again) because as much as I like it, it's not Hourglass Empress aka "BOW, BITCHES," MAC Rebel is an all-time fave, and MAC Amorous is the moody shade that I want to get to know a little better.


And now, more on Bite Mulled Maple, this season's hottie/forbidden fruit. I think that all the Canadians are looking longingly at the US-only Frozen Berry lipsticks while the Americans are panting for the Maples. It's sort of fun but also kind of silly. Why can't we all have all of them?!?


I don't know what Bite's typical mattes or cremes or matte cremes feel like, but this one is SUPER creamy, very opaque and very easy to get wrong on first swipe. It's big-time buttery and almost impossible to get a clean line on its own -- I only barely managed because the tube is still new with a sharp tip. Once it dulls down, I will have to invest in a lip liner to keep from occurrences of clown mouth. And I don't want to do that. While the shade is lovely (more purple and vampier in person) and the formula comfortable on lips, leaving behind a bright pink stain, I don't think that I will end up wearing it much if at all due to the troublesome application. I guess a lip brush will do but I can't remember the last time I reached for a lip brush to put something on.


I have an overly filtered full face shot of it worn here which toned down the effect quite a bit. While I am confident that I can pull it off, I am not confident of actually reaching for it often enough to warrant the price I paid. I don't know what I was thinking. I'm in the middle of a huge declutter, having put off LIPSTICK SURVIVOR for months now, and then I fall prey to all the flaff from a brand that I don't even like, just because I like the maple packaging on the BOX and the sweet maple scent of the lipstick. Hello, I can just eat maple syrup instead. And put on Pied-de-Poule. And pick real maple leaves off the lawn in a month or two. Enough with this limited edition nonsense already.

LIPSTICK SURVIVOR losers: Bite Beauty Mulled Maple, MAC Fashion Revival.

And I may as well mention this while my resolve is strong. I'm on a total beauty no-buy until January 2016. And I'm not looking for loopholes or anything like that. Obvious exception is if I happen to completely run out of something necessary like moisturizer, but I probably have enough of everything to last me an entire year or more. What I'm challenging myself to do is to ignore sales and the continual stimulus of unnecessary new purchases. Maybe I'll do a full post on this to better explain the rationale behind it. But know that a hard line has been drawn and there's no backing out. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Upgrading Makeup Brushes (Boring Brush Chat)

I'm sitting here in a sort of semi-panic because summer is almost over. There's no denying that back-to-school feeling in the air, and fall fashion has completely taken over the shops. My local dollar store brought out the Halloween stuff and I wanted to choke somebody. To distract myself from committing assault and thinking too hard about passing time/seasonal changes, I made a fabulous pork chop dinner and have now sat down to a glass of cognac on the rocks to pound out what has now become the weekly blog post.

Back in winter (yuck; shivers) I signed up for Beautylish emails and fell prey to their newcomer discount + free shipping offer. After spending days looking up swatches for Charlotte Tilbury makeup (which only landed in Canada this summer), I decided to be a little more "practical" and upgrade makeup brushes instead. As a self-proclaimed blush nut, I figured it was way past time I got a nice XYZ animal-hair cheek brush. As you can see, I picked out Chikuhodo Passion Series Cheek and Highlight brushes (USD$38 + $29 respectively) as well as a Wayne Goss Brush 02 (USD$35). I really only wanted two brushes but felt compelled to meet Beautylish's minimum amount to receive both the discount and free shipping. In hindsight I should have stuck to the original plan because one of these is now getting the boot.


I add my voice to the chorus of praise for Beautylish's speedy and safe delivery as well as outstanding customer service. The brushes arrived safely wrapped and bundled as shown below.



Now, brush reviews make my eyes roll backwards in boredom because I could care less what hairs the bristles are made of and what length the hairs and handles are. You can get the specs on the Beautylish page for each brush here, here and here. What I care about are the following: where they're made (all three are from Japan), that they do the job, don't shed and be very soft. And obviously they need to last a long time given how much they cost. Up until this point, I hated spending money on makeup tools and relied mostly on some Sephora brand, MAC, Sonia Kashuk and Real Techniques. And I really really hate being a brush snob, but I don't regret upgrading and now cannot go back to just the regular whatevers when it comes to blush and powder brushes.

All three are superbly soft, and upon trying the Chikuhodo cheek brush, I immediately got rid of the super old Sonia Kashuk that was starting to show its age. I rather like the short, stubbier handle of the Passion series as well as their relatively lower price. I don't care for the bright colour of the handle and would prefer something black and sleek like the Wayne Goss, but it's the performance that counts. (Kar Yi's review here really helped solidify my decision.) As for the Chikuhodo highlight brush, there's nothing wrong with it other than the fact that it's a bit too small and flat to suit anything in my current routine. I use a Real Techniques brush for highlighting, and since that's not something that I sweep over wide expanse of skin, I don't care that it's not the softest thing in the world.


And while I'm not a big fan of Wayne Goss (I liked his earlier no-nonsense videos but found myself unsubscribing years ago after tricked by too many BESTEST TIP EVER type of click-baity uploads), I do appreciate the fact that he went to Japan, makeup brush motherland, to produce high-quality brushes that are reliable and worth the higher price. I've completely lost respect for brands like Paul & Joe and Anna Sui that charge an arm and a leg for brushes that they now make in China, so there's my last rant of the day. I use the WG No 2 brush for powdering even though it's shaped like a typical highlight or contour brush. It's super soft like the Chikuhodos, and I like that it's narrow enough to get into the contours of the nose area as well as underneath the eyes without feeling like I'm pounding my face with a giant bear paw. Using a smaller brush to powder also means I'm more precise and gentle about powder application.

And that's it, really. I don't have anything more to say other than that half a year later, I'm more than pleased with the brush purchase and omg thank goodness I did it before the Canadian dollar plummeted to its embarrassing current low. I don't shampoo these brushes often because apparently you're not really supposed to if you want them to last years and years and years. I use a disinfecting spray over tissue or paper towel, gently brush off the tips of the hairs, and go about my merry way until a brush cleaning frenzy takes over -- at which point, I then pull out a dusty bottle of Dr. Bronner liquid soap. Yeah, that wasn't very helpful, so I'm pointing you to Mimi's blog where she has a wonderful tutorial on brush cleaning here and here.