Monday, January 26, 2015


Well, here we go again. I'm actually embarrassed to host too many blog sales at this point, so there will just be ONE more after this later on in the year when I make some concrete decisions about storage options and what my collection should look like. After that, no more of this over-accruing and selling nonsense.

Until then, head on over to the Blog Sale page and help me find new homes for these neglected beauties.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Beauty Nibbles: January 2015

Snack-sized thoughts and tips for beauty on the go.

Errr... no tips today, I think, but just snack-sized thoughts. I have some longer posts in the works but either don't have the requisite photos or attention span to sit down and finish writing. Please nibble on these until I can get my act together!

ALL THINGS EARL GREY. I'm a die-hard coffee addict turned seasonal tea lover who's particularly enamoured with the scent of bergamot in Earl Greys. For a while I was into Cream of Earl Grey from DAVIDsTea but it's starting to lose lustre for whatever reason. Then I poked my head into the pop-up tea shop at the basement level of Bloor Street Holt Renfrew where I discovered Fortnum & Mason's Earl Grey Classic (CAD$10 for a box of 25 sachets or CAD$20 for a tin of loose leaf). I prefer my teas stronger than this but its bright, sparkly bergamot note is extremely cheerful on winter afternoons. As for the Hurraw! Earl Grey Lip Balm, the scent strikes a perfect balance between the bergamot and black tea while the emollient balm provides hydration. (Buy it directly from Hurraw! or The Detox Market, Amazon or iHerb.)

Guerlain Meteorites: both in shade "Medium" in their respective series.

OLD BALLZ OR NEW BALLZ? Regular ballz or pressed ballz? I was going to write a long-winded post on this topic but... BORING. They're practically invisible on the face and only the wearer will know the diff. I like the old Meteorites for adding subtle illumination on a face turned flat after too much powdering, and I like the new pressed Meteorites for the same reason although it can make me look ever so slightly pale if I whack on too much. Neither are really must-haves for my skin type as it is, because my T-zone remains as shiny as ever, but they're nice for adding a touch of glow on dim winter days. Buy 'em at the usual haunts: Holt Renfrew, Hudson's Bay, select Shoppers Drug Marts and Murale, Nordstrom, Saks, etc, etc.

MATTIFY EVERYTHING. I haven't worn nail polish since November (gasp!) but started giving the new Essie Cashmere Matte Collection the old hairy eyeball. (See swatches on beautygeeks and Ommorphia Beauty Bar.) Pretty, right? Then it occurred to me that I could just use a mattifying top coat on top of my existing polishes to come up with another 200 shades, just like that. Case in point: CND Vinylux in Wild Moss #186 ($11.99 from Trade Secrets) topped with GOSH Matt Effect Top Coat (around $6 at Shoppers Drug Mart).

Forget the long-wearing "gel" aspect of Vinylux -- I hear it does nothing for some people even with the matching top coat. I do like the colour a lot and that it dries pretty quickly on its own. I resisted matte polishes for a long time but Immabe mattifying EVERYTHING now.

BLOTTING MY LIFE AWAY. My stupid shiny nose thinks it's still 13 years old. Sometimes you can catch me discreetly pressing my face with a Starbucks napkin but there are days when I need to feel more refined, less hobo. MUJI Toronto was completely ravaged by the time the crowds lessened, so the only thing I came away with on my second voyage was a pack of blotting sheets (a little over $2). Then Sephora put my favourite Boscia Blotting Linens on sale (down to $4 from $13) and then had a sale on the sale items, so I grabbed two packs. This unscented version is no longer available but you can still get the Green Tea linens.) Both are tissue-thin beige blotters, with the Boscia being slightly more substantial in weight. Am I the only one who gets ridiculously excited to pull out new blotting packs?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Worth Hoarding in Multiples! Sonia Kashuk Lustrous Lip Shine Crayons in Dahlia and Orchid

This post features a press sample. (I bought Dahlia but Orchid was sent for review.)

Canada is in an uproar today because news broke that Target Canada is shutting down all of its 133 stores across the country and probably leaving us FOREVER. This is fine by me, except for the 17,600 people who are now out of jobs and the fact that I'm going to miss their beauty aisles. Target pricing is a couple of dollars lower than Rexall which is a couple of dollars lower than Shoppers. And since I don't shop at Walmart, it's going to leave a certain void in my personal shopping routine. But frankly I thought their tech and clothing sections were absolutely useless while home, baby and toy were just okay. My neighbourhood store was pretty packed today with "the vultures swarming already" as one sales associate put it loudly enough to be heard by anyone in the same aisle. I can't blame her for being bitter but HEY. This particular vulture gave a lot of support to this lame ass corporation with its lack of variety in stock and constantly empty shelves. With mixed feelings I picked up a few things from Sonia Kashuk and Pixi that I had been wanting for a while and decided to return with the real vultures later when liquidation begins.

In short: I'm going to miss Sonia Kashuk the mostest. Almost everything I've tried from the brand has been not just good but excellent while priced reasonably. In fact, there isn't even a price difference between US and Canada which is unheard of. If there's any way that Sonia Kashuk can pull out of its super duper airtight exclusive Target contract to grace Canada with its presence again in the future, I am all for it.

As you can tell by the title of the post, I'm more than enthused for these Lustrous Lip Shine Crayons. I've been sitting on a bunch of Sonia Kashuk review for months but when I heard the Target news this morning, I felt it was my duty to inform Canadian beauties to go and grab as many of these crayons as possible. It's true that I went through a crayon fatigue last fall and declared "NO MORE"... but I am fickle and the makeup world is so very vast. Back then I didn't know these lip crayons existed and that they're completely wonderful if you want something easy to apply, creamy in texture, kind to lips with full colour coverage.

It's a shame that the Lustrous Lip Shine Crayons only come in four shades (in order from lightest to darkest: Sweet Pea, Peony, Orchid and Dahlia) because I'd like one in every colour imaginable. I actually went to Target today to grab Sweet Pea and Peony but the word must be out already on these crayons because there weren't any although the Sonia Kashuk aisle was well-stocked otherwise.

Each crayon contains more than a reasonable length of product, and while it may feel initially hard and waxy, the application is smooth, creamy and fully opaque in a single swipe. Packaging is sturdy and secure, and best of all, there's no need to sharpen.

I'd describe Dahlia as a reddened plum and Orchid as a pink berry. Although they're called shiny by name and have a sheen in the finish, I don't find them to be glossy or actually shiny once applied on the lips which is a good thing. Maybe it's the getting older thing but I find high shine and mirror gloss to be garish and tacky as of late. These are also non-sticky, scentless and apparently have some UV-protection as well according to the Sonia Kashuk website. See why I want one in every colour?

Orchid (left), Dahlia (right)

I end my rave with this: if you see them, just scoop them up whether they're on clearance or not. At $8.99 a pop, they're better in quality than many lip crayons double and triple the price. You bet I'll be keeping my eyes open for the other two shades, and let me just tell you: I can swarm with the best of vultures. My shopping elbows are ready.

CAD$8.99/USD$8.99, 0.08oz/2.3g. Available exclusively at Target. Made in USA.

Ingredients: Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Bis-Diglyceryl Polyacyladipate-2, Bis-Behenyl / Isostearyl / Phytosteryl Dimer Dilinoleyl Dimer Dilinoleate, Squalane, Polyethylene, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Triisostearin, Diisostearyl Malate, Cera Microcristallina, Trimethylolpropane Triethylhexanoate, Pentaerythrityl Tetraethylhexanoate, Polyamide-3, Dicalcium Phosphate, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Propylene Carbonate, Tocopherol. May Contain / Peut Contenir : Mica, Iron Oxides, Yellow 6 Lake, Blue 1 Lake, Manganese Violet, Yellow 5 Lake, Red 7 Lake, Red 28 Lake, Red 6, Red 22 Lake, Carmine, Titanium Dioxide, Bismuth Oxychloride. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Red lips inspired by Polanski's Chinatown (1974) and subsequent stash inventory

My siblings and I watched a lot of movies via Netflix over the holidays, and one thing my sister and I attempted was to cross off some classics from our list of unwatched movies. The two of us have drastically different personalities as well as tastes in entertainment, so it's actually really difficult to agree on anything to watch together. Somewhere between romantic comedies and sci-fi action adventures, we met in the realm loosely called suspense. Watching a young Jack Nicholson not play a caricature of himself was downright fascinating. I think that once you achieve a certain level of fame or notoriety, the most difficult thing to get over is not the scripts, directors or budgets but maybe that deliberately created version of your public image.

Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway in Chinatown (image source)

I won't spoil Chinatown for anyone who hasn't watched, because while I don't believe in enabling spoilerphobia (stay off the net, Luddites), my enjoyment of the movie was definitely enhanced from having been shrouded in complete ignorance. (Yes, I contradict, but I wouldn't be upset at anyone for "spoiling" something that was released four decades ago.)

More relevant to this post, the other half of my enjoyment came from following the visual trail of Faye Dunaway's character, Evelyn Mulwray, most strikingly punctuated by her amazing red lips.

Faye Dunaway as Evelyn Mulwray in Chinatown (image source)

I spent a long time trying to Google for the colour but often the results led to long lists of movie femme fatales, best red lipsticks of all time or general commentary on the importance of colours used in the film. In the end, I decided that the precise lipstick shade itself wasn't so important after all. My fascination with it lay in the way Evelyn uses it to craft an image of herself.

Contrary to the assumption that red lips are deployed as a weapon of seduction, in Chinatown, they rather portrayed Evelyn's herculean efforts to keep herself pulled together. Beneath the calm, collected and cool veneer lies the twist to the Chinatown mystery. The first glimpse of Evelyn is as a subverted power figure, striding into Jack Nicholson's character's office to slap him with a law suit on behalf of a husband who remains voiceless in the film. All throughout their encounters, as Nicholson's character tries to figure her out, the lipstick remains eye-catching and flawless. Sometimes it's more orange than red, and at times I think it looks rusty, almost brown -- and none of the screen caps in this post is remotely close to what I saw on the TV screen. It's likely a shade belonging to a family dubbed the "Chinese red" that was popular in the '30s. In any case, the lipstick aids in cementing a public image of Evelyn Mulwray as someone more in control than perhaps she really is. It is always on, always perfect. The lipstick and Evelyn are one.

Found on Pinterest; source unknown.

According to some articles I read, including this one, Polanski was maddeningly meticulous about every little detail while Dunaway clashed with him at every other opportunity. At one point she refused to continue work on the film because he fiddled with her hair and started adding extra powder to her face himself. And then he would get pissed off in turn when she'd take too long to touch up the lipstick which supposedly happened after every single take. Oh, I bet they both remember until this day what that lipstick shade is!

Now, I've managed to stockpile a lot of red lipsticks after getting over my fear of wearing them full force. It's been on the back of my mind to start comparing them and weed out some dupes, so now is good a time as any. I got to swatching the other night and ended up with the dirty beauty blogger fist.

I never did find that missing Shiseido. But I'm sure it'll turn up months down the road, innocently sitting in the place I've already searched 500 times.

For the sake of pinpointing something close to the Chinatown lipstick, I eliminated glosses and anything that was too pink, too brown or too purple and was left with the following:
* = press sample

Silly me, I didn't feel like drawing my arm with lipsticks so I opted for a white paper. There's a world of a difference seeing these shades on paper vs. flesh.

I gave up and drew on my arm after all. Now, see why I say Perpetual Flame shouldn't have been included? I kept thinking it was more red because of the name but it's quite pink. (I don't understand you, MAC.) When I was on the hunt for a Chinatown dupe, the back of my shopping-addled mind was already plotting a purchase if my stash proved insufficient. I don't have a NARS Audacious yet and I know they have a lot of strong reds. But after eliminating Perpetual Flame along with MAC Viva Glam I (too brown) and Sonia Kashuk Dahlia (too purple), I'm still left with four very good contenders -- five, if I count the lip liner.

I was hoping for a shade between the two orangey reds (Lady Danger & Raven) and two mid-toned reds (Pomegranate & Red Fuchsia), but like I said, the precision of the shade isn't really the thing I'm now after. I wanted to get to know my crazy lipstick collection better, and I want to rock the hell out of these gorgeous reds, be it to project an image of a confident woman or revel in internal self-empowerment. I didn't realize until the swatchfest how similar Lady Danger and Raven are in colour, although one is a matte and the other a creme. Pomegranate is sort of off in its own world in terms of brightness and saturation, and as demonstrated in last fall's Clarins review, Red Fuchsia remains a more casual red for the blasé kind of days. I can always mix shades, too, to try to replicate the Evelyn Mulwray Red. The point of this whole exercise? Find inspiration where I can, enjoy what I have, and rock that goodness at every opportunity. And watch some more classic films. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Guerlain Spring 2015 - Météorites Perles de Blush in Éclat Angélique/Angelic Radiance (Limited Edition)

[FYI: This isn't so much a review as it is a combination of personal thoughts about my purchasing choices, information about the availability of limited edition products in the Canadian market and how my fellow Canadians can get a hold of this spring launch from Guerlain in particular. Read on if you enjoy a good ramble!]

I caught sight of Guerlain's Les Tendres Spring 2015 Collection just before Christmas Eve when it unexpectedly landed super early (for Canadian launches) at the Toronto Queen Street Hudson's Bay. Despite the waning blush madness, I was immediately taken in by the Meteorites Perles de Blush in Angelic Radiance (CAD$68/USD$53) as well as the pressed version of the Meteorites Perles Illuminating Powder, called Meteorites Compact Light Revealing Powder (CAD$68/USD$62). I tried both on the face and loved their effects. The Meteorites Compact in #3 Medium added soft illumination although it was slightly on the pale side, and the blush was strongly pigmented and therefore became all the more alluring. Like a good beauty addict, I checked the reflection under various lighting at the store and upon getting home hours later and was happy to see the application was not only intact but seemed to add radiance that can only be welcome as winter wears on. Sometimes we complain about the confusing overlap of real time season versus the insane pace of fashion and beauty launches, but I really like that the soft and cheerful spring colours were released earlier this year because rose and pastel tones work so well with winter whites and paler complexion. Spring is an extremely short season in Toronto, Canada -- so brief that I hesitate to even classify it as a legit season in my head. It never made sense to invest in "springy" sort of shades before.

Although I was warned that the Queen Street location only received six of the blushes (surprising because it's one of the largest department store locations in the country), I refrained from purchasing on the spot and decided to mull these findings over the holidays.

As you can see: sufficiently mulled.

Hudson's Bay at Yonge/Bloor had just received the collection when I happened to be there. This is kind of sad, but the Guerlain SA recognized me and waved me over to show them off. I was like, "Yes, yes, I know..." and it was pretty much game over when it turned out they had only two or three blushes in stock. It's common knowledge that Canada in general receives very limited number of prestige products compared to the States, and when that low figure is divided for individual store locations across the country? Your local store stock turns out to be paltry, and avid collectors have to act with superhuman speed to obtain the new pretties. Prestige brands also don't want to enter certain retail chains or even individual locations, so it's not entirely the big chain store's fault that they can't sell more to us. The fact that some of the Shoppers Drug Marts now carry Chanel, Dior and Guerlain is a monumental feat, and I have to take back a little of my criticism in the Murale post because apparently it wasn't for lack of trying that Dior isn't at the Shops at Don Mills location. Personally, I find all this very fascinating even as it might bore the crap out of some of you. I think at times we can be unduly harsh in our criticism of sales associates and retailers without knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes. Still, if you have a demand, make it heard. That's how changes happen.

Going back to the blush: it's small and absurdly expensive. Unlike the regular Meteorite pearl powders in sturdy metal tins, this comes in a vintage-y cardboard packaging with letterpressed cherubs gracing the lid. I see the effect they're going for, impractical as it might be: soft, old-fashioned, delicate, fleeting. I've been suckered in, but damn it if I'm going to allow this to be fleeting. This baby isn't going anywhere near water or heat, and I'm going to designate a special blush brush just for these pearls.

I got the arm swatch by using the puff sponge that was inserted into the package as protection for the pearls. It's too bad that the puff doesn't have any sort of ribbon or handle because taking it in and out is more difficult than it should be, but I guess it wasn't meant to be used as an applicator. Still, for the price that Guerlain commands, I think they could have added that small bit of detail and ease for us as they do for the other limited edition Meteorites.

Indirect sunlight.


Closeup under indirect sunlight.

As you can see, it's shimmery but more glowy than glittery with the exception of the odd silver particles. But the good thing about the pearl format is that the level of shimmer can be adjusted by taking out some of the paler and more shimmery pearls and mixing as you please. You will never be rid of the shimmer due to transference, but that's actually better than trying to avoid a pressed patch on a compact with a brush that's too big. And if you think that the rosy pearls are too soft in colour, you'd be mistaken. They're fantastically pigmented, to the point that it may appear ruddy. I'd go in with a light hand and build up to desired level. On my NC25-ish skin, it perfectly mimics a windswept flush, leaning cool in tone without contrasting too much against my natural colours. (Personally, I'm ecstatic that it's not another pale pink spring blush that turns up invisible on medium+ skin tones.) As is the case with most Guerlain powders, it's strongly fragranced with their signature violet. Sensitive noses should be wary, and my personal wish is that they'd tone it down a notch if not able to provide unfragranced versions alongside the standard.

Meteorites Perles de Blush (top), Meteorites Perles (original version in #3) (left), Meteorites Compact #3 (right)

Due to some excellent deals offered by B. at Yonge/Bloor, I also came home with the Meteorites Compact in #3 Medium as well. There's mixed messages on whether the Meteorite Compacts are now part of the permanent collection or not, and I get the feeling that they are, so there's no real rush although I see that shade Medium is already sold out on

For a detailed review on the blush, Sara of Color Me Loud has an excellent one here with info for Europians. Americans can order without fear from Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue where stock seems to be in plenty. (Well, maybe you do want to hurry because it sold out from Nordstrom as I was drafting this post!) In Canada, you may find that it's already sold out in some Holt Renfrew, Hudson's Bay and select Shoppers Drug Mart Beauty Boutiques, but they're also being released in extremely staggered manner, so watch your local Guerlain counter if they haven't yet landed. For Torontonians, your best bet is to head to the Guerlain mothership on Bloor Street West:

Guerlain Boutique & Institute
110 Bloor Street West, Toronto
(416) 929-6114

I'm told they're not expected to receive the spring collection until February (!!!) but once they do, I'm betting they'll receive a good number. Count your changes and modify your winter wish list! I know that this blush was an extravagant splurge and those darling cherubs may as well wear horns on their heads, but it's not every day that BLUSH BALLZ make an appearance.

CAD$68/USD$53, 13g. Made in France.

Ingredients: Synthetic Fluorphlogopite, Talc, Nylon-12, Distarch Phosphate, Magnesium Syristate, Aluminum Hydroxide, Magnesium Carbonate, Hydrated Silica, Pentylene Glycol, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Tritcum Vulgare (Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Starch), Parfum (Fragrance), Sodium Dehydroacetate, Glyceryl Stearate, Caprylyl Glycol, Sorbic Acid, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Benzyl Benzoate, Linalool, Benzyl Alcohol, Diamond Powder, Limonene, Amyl Cinnamal, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Geraniol, Cinnamyl Alcohol, Tocopherol, BHT, [+/- colouring agents].