Thursday, June 30, 2011

June 2011 Favourites

How quickly June has flown by! The weather was quite topsy-turvy and downright unpredictable for most of it, but June is such a beautiful transition month between spring and summer and I'm sad that it's already over. (But I'm also more than ready for July's blazing sun - bring on the heat!) Here are some beauty goodies that I've been enjoying this month.

NARS Blush in "Gilda"

I featured it back in the winter-to-spring transition post and never mentioned it again. I neglected it all throughout May while I was enjoying Benefit's Coralista, then suddenly loved the hell out of it this month.

It's a much more vibrant colour than I've ever tried, and it's hellish trying to capture the colour correctly on photos. The NARS website simply describes it as "coral." I know it looks pink in the photo above, but in person it looks peachy coral, stopping just short of the orange territory. (Again I must refer you to a superior blog photo that captures the shade more correctly.)

Now, I'm not very good at swatching, but I made the attempt this time.

There. That looks more peachy/orangey. I think the shift to a warmer shade is natural as my skin starts to darken and tan. I'm glad I took the plunge to experiment - it's truly a unique shade in my collection.

GlowFusion Micro-Tech Intuitive Active Bronzer in "Golden"

Though my face has become more tanned, I haven't changed my foundation to match my face. The difference is slight but noticeable enough that bronzers have become a must-have this month. I thought I'd try the one that I neglected the most. At the time of purchase, I was doubtful as to whether I would end up using it at all, but I am just loving it right now.

As you can see, there's a pretty golden shimmer. This shimmer is not noticeable in person.

Heavily swatched for your viewing pleasure.

See the fine shimmer?


I think when GlowFusion calls this shade "Golden", it's not actually for the shade of bronzer itself but the tiny golden shimmer hidden within it. I never realized how shimmery this was until the photos showed me. But seriously, you cannot detect it on the face at all. Just a nice, healthy glow. Love.

Shiseido Extra Smooth Sun Protection Cream For Face SPF 38

Already raved about it back in the sunscreen post earlier this month. Definitely still loving it.

Dippity-Do Mega Hold Hair Gel

By the end of May, I had a firm grasp on how to style my newly shortened curly 'do. However, the short layers have grown out a little since and already the whole thing is starting to drag, resembling messy waves instead of shiny curls. Honestly, I'm the laziest person when it comes to hair. On humid days when the hair just goes wild, frizzy and crazy, I grab this $2 gel and slather it on top. It's the only way to keep the crazy at bay. I remember my brother going through countless bottles of this stuff during his teenage years to keep his hair "spikey" and I also remembered that it was dirt cheap. It still is. I got the gel instead of a wax because when I asked my brother out of desperation after five days of wrestling with unruly ends, he was like, "Uhhhh... I usually get the got2b stuff. I dunno. It works." I hit the drugstores and found that hair wax/putty are like $7-15. I know, it's silly to be penny-pinching now when I'm buying NARS blush and what not, but do we not all become sour-faced el cheapos in the drugstore? I didn't want to buy another hair care product but I needed something. Frankly, to me, all hair gels are the same. This one does the job and I love that it's cheap and humongous and I will be able to bequeath it to my brother in my will since I'll never be able to finish it in one lifetime. Or will I? Only the crazy summer weather will tell.

Laura Mercier Silk Creme Foundation

Weak-willed wench that I am, I gave in to my love of Laura Mercier once more. This is actually just a preview of my next post which will be a spotlight on Laura Mercier foundations. (It's confession time!!!) Stay tuned 'til then!

What have you been loving this month? Do you get progressively lazier throughout the summer as I do?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Progress! My first empties post.

As recounted numerously on this blog from the start - and less consistently from time to time since - I've been working on reducing the amount of beauty products from my stash. Now I finally have some finished products to talk about! I used to just throw away empty packages until the realization of such things as the "empties posts." Really, I should be doing a lot more of that than reviews of new products. But it seriously takes me forever to finish anything, so I'm very proud of this line up of "empties" today.

This particular one is mammoth. I have been working through this giant pot of St. Ives Apricot Scrub since the beginning of time. When I eventually realized that I could use it for basically the entire body as opposed to just the face, this baby finally started to dwindle. I might have screamed for joy when I scraped up the last little bit that was left and joyfully used it to scrub my feet in the shower.

The next product was mentioned recently in my anti-acne products post. Since then I've been using it twice a day every day and finished it in record time. Sure, it was travel size, but I even have trouble finishing those because there are so many other things going simultaneously in the lineup. It's the DDF Blemish Foaming Cleanser. I really liked it and would buy the full size except that DDF is rather pricey and I do have a few other anti-acne cleansers in my stash at the moment. Since I've stopped using it, I've grown a few new zits, so it seems crucial that I use an anti-acne cleanser, be it this or something else. Anyway, I definitely recommend this to those struggling with acne.

I guess shampoos and conditioners are things that are always being finished, but again, it's been a while since I actually finished a set since I was rotating between so many different types. The weird geeky anal part of me is super happy that the matching shampoo and conditioner were finished at the same time. I've talked about these in my shampoo and conditioner inventories. My sister and I both suffered from dry scalp in the winter and thought Head & Shoulders might help. If it did, it was minimal. Strangely, though, I don't hate H&S. I don't really want to buy it again, but it wasn't bad on my normal hair.

Facial wipes are also things that I consistently finish. I get really eager to finish them up especially when there are only a few left in a package because I don't want them to dry out. The Marcelle Eye Make-up Remover Cloths are not bad but not super great. They're good because they don't irritate your eyes, but I feel like these cloths could use an extra douse of moisture to really work more effectively and faster at removing stubborn eye makeup. You have to rest these over your eyes for a few minutes, just like you would with a regular makeup remover on cotton pads. In which case, I prefer the regular makeup remover + cotton instead of this thing. However, this is awesome for traveling or makeup on the go. I'm not going to buy it again unless I need it specifically for travel.

Balea 3 in 1 Cleansing Cloths are something I've been using for a while. One, it's the cheapest wipes in Shoppers Drug Mart (Balea is the replacement brand for the Shoppers generic Life brand), and two, these are surprisingly good quality cleansing cloths. The wetness level is perfect, it takes makeup off very well (though I still use toner after to really make sure), and it's not drying or harsh on the face. I didn't bother with a moisturizer sometimes and never had any issues (but I have oily skin and don't need too much moisturizing in the first place). It even works well to take off eye makeup without irritation. But ever since I discovered The Body Shop Tea Tree Cleansing Wipes, I've been using these Balea wipes to remove the initial layer of makeup while saving the more costly Tea Tree wipes for the second round of wiping/cleansing. I like that two-tier system, though it sounds awfully high maintenance for what's supposed to be an easy and quick emergency solution. I'll keep using Balea until something better comes along.

The last is actually makeup! Technically I didn't "finish" it since the tube seemed to never end, but it's a mascara - it was time to let it go. I used it for much longer than I should have because I liked it so much. Some people really hate tubing mascara but I love it because it's completely budge/smudge-proof and weirdly seemed to get better as time went on. The only other mascara that stayed so well on my puny straight lashes was Imju Fiberwig which is now gonzo. L'Oreal Double Extend Beauty Tubes is also a much cheaper alternative to my beloved YSL Faux Cils. Some time ago I swore that I'd never cheat on YSL again, but now I'm thinking of going back to this L'Oreal. It's kind of expensive for a drugstore mascara, but it's pennies compared to YSL.

Man, it feels good to get rid of things. I have a handful of other things that are nearing the end and will continue to diligently work through them for the next empties post. How are you guys doing with finishing up products and what were some good stuff you decided to repurchase?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tagged again! Versatile Beauty Blog Award

(Sorry for the seemingly endless parade of self-promotion! Regular beauty blogging to resume after this.)

Earlier this month, I was honoured to be awarded my first Versatile Blogger Award by the lovely Zuzu's Petals of Everyday Beauty. Since then, I was tagged for the same award by the amazing Product Doctor Beauty Blog and have decided to combine the two nominations to give you one post instead of bombarding you with facts about me that you may or may not be interested in. Before I go on, please make sure to check out the two lovely ladies who tagged me - their blogs are full of gorgeous products and high-quality reviews!

The rules:
  • Worship at the feet (or makeup vanity) of the person who nominated you and link back to her (or his) blog in your post. 
  • Share 7 facts about yourself that only your ferret knows.
  • Pass the award on to 15 other bloggers.
  • Contact your nominees and let them know you've tagged them.
Here goes!
  1. I don't own a ferret but I once had a crush on a boy who did. He and his family moved to another city mid-crush, so I was devastated! Ahahahahaha... 14 was a rough year.
  2. I (not so) secretly wish that I were a superhero or an action hero. There's a reason I love Nikita so. She's such a BAMF. I also need to watch the new X-Men movie but my 20/30-something girlfriends are hardly the movie's target demo. Is it weird if I go alone? Or should I make a boy watch it twice?
  3. I once took fencing lessons. Loved the fencing, hated the instructors and the 10 year-olds who were more advanced than I was.
  4. I don't know how to swim. I was older when the lessons began and I had already developed a healthy fear of drowning. I'll face this fear some time in the near future... maybe next summer.
  5. I don't have a problem killing insects with my bare hands. Gross? Maybe. I think it'd be grosser to let them get away and end up with them crawling over your face during the night.
  6. Sometimes I think life is all about context. That's probably why I enjoy history and biographies.
  7. I wish I could have hung out with Henry James and Edith Wharton. Or at least sit in on one cocktail party eavesdropping on their conversation. Henry would take 3 hours to tell a story while Edith would roll her eyes and sum it up in 5 minutes.
I now pass this award on to the following fellow bloggers:
  1.  A Vain Woman - Cecilia is not really vain, but be warned: looking at her blog will seriously create massive lemmings you may or may not be able to afford. I'm always in awe of her gorgeous photos and come away massively tempted. 
  2. Broke in the City - Amy chronicles budget-friendly fashionable life in the great city of San Francisco. It's more fashion-focused than beauty, but her recent post on wonderous drugstore products definitely makes her a versatile blogger!
  3. Eyelining Obsessions - Something about the way Claire writes makes me want to sit down and have a drink with her while discussing eyelining obsessions and such things. Her reviews are always clear, straight forward and extremely honest.
  4. et tu and you - I'm new to Meredith's blog, but she writes with such flair on fashion and beauty experiences as well as some personal experiences like maintaining composure and perspective during frustrating work moments.
  5. Glitter Geek - Arianne is a fellow Torontonian with a super pro-style blog. She writes effortlessly on anything from budget lipsticks to luxe bronzers. Her sense of fun always comes through in her posts. Check her out if you haven't already!
  6. Gothan Polish - Amy's nail polish cartoons are so much fun! That's a mighty whimsical and creative mind at work there. I always get a good chuckle as well as useful information from her blog.
  7. Lipstick Rules - Another fellow Torontonian, Michelle is a blogging veteran in her own right and hardly needs me to promote her, but I want to recognize her thoughtful posts which always generate interesting discussions and a lot of good, sage advice.
  8. My best beauty buys - I love reading Tracy D's posts because I feel like she's always chatting directly to me personally over a cup of tea or coffee and our "chat" sessions are never boring! It's like chatting about makeup with your BFF.
  9. naturalNchicmakeup - Kristie's blog is a showcase of gorgeousness. Her pictures are amazing as are her reviews and choice of products. It inspires me to a new level of excellence!
  10. Polish Police - I'm new to Pam's blog and astounded I haven't come across PP earlier. She has the latest buzz on the new nail polishes in store for the eager public. Also, her stand against blog thieves is a must read for every blogger. 
  11. Productrater! - Justine is an energetic blogger and a fellow Torontonian who is resourceful and creative when it comes to obtaining difficult-to-get products. Her blog is a wealth of information!
  12. Raspberry Rouge - Nat is a gorgeous UK blogger with flawless taste in makeup and one of the most beautiful blog designs. Reading her blog is always a joy.
  13. Red Lip Gloss - Many of Christina's posts had me nodding in vehement agreement or just plain impressed with her resourcefulness. Her "DIY Friday" series is a must read!
  14. Stupid Nail Polish Names - I stumbled across this one day and had a blast reading and laughing simultaneously. As you can tell by the blog name, good times can be expected. I wish Panderbear would update more frequently.
  15. Visionary Beauty - I don't know much about the blogger but I do love to visit this blog now and then to drool over high-end products I don't have the budget or nerve to purchase. If you like to drool over such things, this is a good blog to visit.
I find it amazing that I'm able to name 15 blogs that don't overlap with other great blogs that I've mentioned in the past. One of the things that surprised me most about blogging is how warm and open the online community is and how quickly beautiful friendships can build just from talking about seemingly inane things like the right kind of hairspray or foot powder. I would like to take this moment to thank everyone who takes the time to read my posts and have encouraged me by leaving comments or even sending emails in support. This blog was begun out of boredom on a whim, but lately I feel like it's turned into something much more special. It's a magical process that takes the participation of both the blogger and the readers. Amazing.

Thanks again to Zuzu and Product Doctor for this award!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tagged! The Liebster Award

The awesome Ashley of Makeup Kismet recently tagged me with the Liebster Award, which I am totally stoked about!

The Liebster Award is designed to be awarded to blogs with less than 300 subscribers to spread the blog love and get them out them out to a wider audience.

I love the idea of awarding newer blogs that deserve the recognition but haven't built a wide audience yet.

The Rules:

1. Post displaying the award, linking back to the person who awarded you.
2. Pick 3 blogs and let them know they're awarded.

Everyone, do check out Ashley's awesome blog Make Up Kismet. First, I just adore her design and layout. Second, she writes wonderful informative reviews on some well known products as well as some lesser known products that I never would have heard of if she hadn't written about them! Third, check out her generous giveaway to celebrate 50 followers which closes on June 30! Thanks again for tagging me, Ashley!

I now tag:

I Colour Outisde the Lines

Christine is a true beauty lover. Her taste in makeup probably differs wildly from mine, but I admire her boldness and fearlessness. Do check out her blog! 

Miss Prissypants

Dee is simply hilarious. Whenever I need a good laugh while reading about beauty stuff, I always head for one of her posts. She has a way with words. See for yourself!

Makeup Magpie

Her blog is beautifully designed and filled with amazing pictures. I'm always in awe of MM's thoughtfulness and love of beauty. Her "Sea & Sand" series is particularly inspiring.

Thanks again to Ashley for the blog love!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Nail Polish: Butter London "Pearly Queen"

One thing I try to avoid in nail polish is stark white or pitch black. I like moving between the extremes and you won't find too many things close to either end in my collection. But if I have to choose between white or black, I'll almost always choose black. So I barely noticed when Chanel Pearl Drop debuted with my beloved Black Pearl.

However, someone has been whispering sweet nothings about Chanel Pearl Drop lately (*cough* Carrie *cough*) and I guess it was in the back of my mind when I was browsing some Butter Londons. I ended up with Pearly Queen, which turned out to be quite close to Pearl Drop based on some internet browsing (as far as I can tell).

I had only one other Butter London nail polish but had been planning to venture into the brand some more. The quality of Butter London formula is fantastic. You'd think that with a pale shade like this, multiple coats, much strength of will and patience will be required. But nope. Two thin coats and I had complete coverage. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this colour.

Part of me thought it was a bit granny and wedding-y while the majority parts of my conflicted soul thought it was refined and classy. I ended up leaving on for 7 days, which almost never happens these days, so that tells you something. I'm quite glad I picked this up as there isn't anything like this in my stash and is a great quality nail polish.

I definitely recommend Butter London for those who are curious about the brand. I've tried the polish in Marrow as well as a few of their body lotions. Overall it's a solid brand that's slightly on the expensive side without being anywhere near close to Chanel territory.

What's your take on the shade? Dig it or leave it?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Nail Polish: Essie "Da Bush"

Here's a quick follow up to my post on Essie's "Absolutely Shore". "Da Bush" is a paler olive-khaki sister to Essie's "Sew Psyched" and perhaps a second cousin to Absolutely Shore.

The formula is great for a pale shade. Two easy coats and I was done.

This definitely was what I was looking for when I picked up Absolutely Shore by accident. I felt slightly less conscious of my nails and didn't worry as much about colour-coordinating with my outfits. However, it's far from the army green that I was beginning to associate this with.

Still, you can tell that they're distantly related. Now, do I love this polish? Not really. I got fairly bored of it a few days in and right now am wearing something completely different. However, Da Bush is a unique shade in my collection and I'm sure I'll pull it out frequently enough in the future. I'm very much in like.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Spotlight on Anti-Acne Products

Oooh, boy. I said anti-acne and I know that perked up some people's ears. You know when sometimes people get asked what they most wish for in the world and they say something vague and wonderful like "world peace"? You just know that the second or even the first thing some actually want to say is: "TO ELIMINATE THAT MOTHERFUCKING BANE OF EXISTENCE A.K.A. ACNE."

Or, at least, I would. ;)

I struggled with teen acne as soon as puberty hit. Luckily they were mostly little bumps that got zapped quickly with drugstore cures, though they did re-emerge rather persistently and consistently. But from ages 19 to 22, I was actually blessed with a period of respite and had the best skin of my life since being a freshly scrubbed toddler. Then disaster hit. I went through a super stressful season due to circumstances beyond my control and literally broke out in hives all over my body. My face became a war zone and I actually cried when I looked in the mirror because the reflection was so horrifying. I don't know why I never went to a dermatologist, but I was raised in a household that rarely consulted outside help when things went badly. Our troubles were our own. I chalked it up to stress and figured the phase would pass eventually.

It did, but my face was never to be the same again. Acne scarring began and I would struggle on and off with my skin for the rest of my life. I visited one dermatologist a few years ago but she was such a terrible bitch that I became completely turned off from seeking consultation or outside help. (I will reconsider going to a different derm someday but first I need a new family doctor!)

I've mentioned before that my skin tends to calm down in the winter and turn "normal" while it's terribly oily and acne-prone in the warmer seasons. True again this year. As soon as winter thawed out, I broke out again. But that was in April when I was barely sleeping due to an onslaught of papers and finals, so my hygiene, diet and health just weren't at their best. Add to that the warmer air and increase in sweat and oil production, I had to face that age-old battle once more.

I acquired a few new treatments since my last inventory. I tossed out the things that didn't work or expired and explored a few new products. As discussed not too long ago, there was one product I deemed a fail. Today I showcase the ones that work to some degree or another.

Aveda Outer Peace - The picture is of a moisturizer only but I had the entire collection at one point or another. This lotion is at the end of its life and I will bid it a fond fairwell. If you're looking for an anti-acne routine that will be gentle but effective, this is it. Unfortunately the individual items are horrifyingly expensive for such a simple-looking packaging and concept. I believe this lotion is about CAD$63. I bought it last summer and literally turned on my heels and left the Aveda store upon hearing the price but ended up going back for it the following day. The bad news for Canadians is that you cannot order from Aveda online, but a nice salesperson at the Aveda store will be able to make samples for you. I had originally bought the cleanser and spot treatment, found them effective and wanted to try out the lotion without committing to a full bottle at first. I'm debating whether to purchase the whole kit once more, since my skin has calmed down a bit. I'm fairly sure that I'll end up repurchasing this line when I do break out again. For more information, hit the Aveda website here.

Murad Acne Spot Treatment - After the failure of B. Kamins spot treatment, I decided to get this one since it was getting pretty decent reviews. I'm not saying that it's a miracle-worker or anything, but redness and swelling were much reduced after applying this overnight and I'm happy with it. It's available for about $20 at Sephora or select Shoppers Drug Mart.

Murad Exfoliating Acne Treatment Gel - This is my favourite new discovery. Honestly, for oily and acne-prone skin like mine, I do believe exfoliation is your best friend. We just can't exfoliate enough. After removing makeup, using an anti-acne cleanser, massaging the face thoroughly (with a scrub, wash cloth or extensively with your fingers), and toning, I applied this all over my face before bed, and woke up to a clearer and more radiant face. I didn't wear a night cream or any sort of moisturizer on top, except for eye cream and a little bit of lotion around my mouth where my skin tends to be a bit dry. This gel won't treat acne spots on its own, which is why I got the spot treatment above, but the combination works pretty well to treat spots and the entire face.

Clinique Clarifying Lotion 4 (aka toner for oily skin) - Exfoliation being a super important step, I just can't skip toner at night. I think this particular toner works just as well as any other toner that I've tried, but it's the one that I happen to be working through at the moment. You probably don't need to worry about it if you don't wear foundation or heavy makeup, but for those who do, it really helps to ensure that every trace of makeup is removed from your face prior to applying treatments. I think that considering every other thing I put on my face is anti-acne, this being a regular toner helps not to dry out the face too much while it still performs well and does what it's supposed to do.

DDF Blemish Foaming Cleanser - As much as I love my Boscia Purifying Cleansing Gel, I had to switch over to this when I broke out. This is a travel size version I picked up from a makeup swap and I'm really glad that I picked this. DDF products tend to be rather harsh, but this cleanser works well in conjunction with all the products I went through above. I'm nearly finished with this mini size now and might pick up the full size if I encounter further issues throughout the season.

The Body Shop Tea Tree Cleansing Wipes - Tea tree as an acne cure is something that requires further personal investigation from me, but after reading Caitlin's great post on her success with tea tree oil, I decided to pick this up during a Body Shop sale. I was planning on lounging in the sun with sunscreen slathered all over me before night class and thought this would be great for a faux-cleanse before heading indoors for the rest of the evening. Well, it has surged up top above any other cleansing wipes I have ever used. There is a slight tingling sensation on the skin to let you know that something is happening or working. I can ignore the medicinal smell because my face felt super clean without feeling dry afterwards. I am going to stock up on these babies during the next sale!

I have a few more products in reserve but haven't tested yet. Because the ones I featured today have done a terrific job to help me in the last two months, I don't feel the need to pull them out at the moment.

Other things I do to combat acne is to chemically exfoliate weekly with the Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel and physically exfoliate twice a week with a homemade lemon-sugar scrub. I also have plans to acquire the Clarisonic at some point in the near future, but until then, these remedies suffice. And as painful as this last fact is, I have reduced my cheese intake for the season. I freaking love cheese. Soft, hard, stinky, creamy - I love them all. I finally had to admit that consuming a block of brie at midnight during some of those study sessions did not help the acne issue.

Do you struggle with acne? And if you do, what solutions have you sought and what worked best for you?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Inventory #26: Sun Protection Products

Every night I'm stuck in 3-hour classes. Every other day I'm stuck in a bank tower. Last summer, I was stuck inside every day and every night except for weekends. It changes this year. Tuesdays and Thursdays before 5pm are my sunning days.

Yup, I said sunning, not tanning. The point isn't to get dark. I'd like a glow but am not in a hurry. I just feel good being under the sunlight and feeling the heat on my skin. The tanning is just a side benefit. It takes me only 2-3 full days in the sun to get dark. I don't mind building gradual colour to move with the season as summer deepens.

So, what's a makeup loving gal to do about sun protection?

Like most things, I also managed to build a stash/collection of sun protection products. (For my earlier inventories, click here.) I'm determined not to get caught without sunscreen in my purse this summer.

Here are some familiar items from the drug stores:

1. Aveeno Sunscreen Lotion for Face SPF30 - A very decent product for about $10-15. It's slightly on the heavy side, but it absorbs nicely into the skin and doesn't pill or flake or look overly greasy. If applied with a light touch, it even layers under makeup (primer + foundation + setting powder) quite nicely. If applied with a heavy hand, it will look slightly greasy to begin with. Being oily and acne-prone, this product did not make me break out, so it's a winner in my book. I use it generously on my face on the days I don't wear makeup. (Because I prefer something else under my makeup as you will see below.) However, protection factor of SPF30 seems awfully low now that SPF100+ products are available. I've read claims that there isn't a whole lot of difference between 30 to 100 (I'd say 30 seems to be the bare minimum now while 15 was the minimum 5-10 years ago) but higher numbers just make me feel better. When using this, I reapply every 2-3 hours. FYI, Aveeno does make this with higher SPF. I grabbed the SPF30 because it was the only one left on the day my local Shoppers was having a sale.
2. Aveeno Sunscreen Lotion for Body SPF55 - I was all set to abandon sunscreen lotions for body now that those super handy sprays are available. But despite spraying myself vigorously on a beach in Miami a couple of years ago, I noticed a few spots were missed or didn't absorb properly. So I decided to carry this one around since it fits better into a purse than a spray can and use it for impromptu sunning moments. I also just feel better rubbing it into the skin and feeling like I'm absorbing the protection instead of spraying a light mist that may or may not be doing its job. Used it today without any issues. Another great bargain!

3. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Face Sunscreen SPF60 - This is a leftover product from last summer. I wasn't very diligent about sun protection since I hardly ever saw the sun at that point, so I haven't used this often. But on the few times I did, there were no breakouts or any other issues. I'd say that it's on par with the Aveeno. In the future I'd probably buy one over the other based solely on which happens to be on sale. As for this particular tube, I have yet to give it a squeeze to see if it's expired or not. Some say sunscreen expires in a year. I suppose it's better to be safe than sorry in a situation where skin cancer is on the line, but I'm a cheapo hoarder and it's hard to change. However, I did just toss a Hawaiian Tropics one that clearly went bad - it was super goopy when it wasn't like that originally - so I won't have any issues throwing this out if it looks/smells/feels weird.

4. Coppertone Continuous Spray SPF60 - As you can see, it's sealed. Brand new! I've been using the Neutrogena sprays for the past few years but noticed that Coppertone is about $5-7 cheaper at Shoppers these days. Craziness. I'm not picky about body sunscreen and know from years of playing softball that Coppertone is just as good as whatever else is out there.

5. Shiseido Extra Smooth Sun Protection Cream SPF38 - You can read the blurb from Sephora on here. To be honest, I was overwhelmed by the variety of products from Shiseido sun care line and randomly grabbed this one. And how glad I am that I did! It feels incredibly smooth and so velvety that one day I skipped primer (which I never do) and just applied my foundation on top of it before work. It kept my oily face matte just as long as my beloved Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer does. My makeup lasted all throughout the work day and even through night class. I'm loving this one and prizing it above the Aveeno for sure.

[EDIT: It made me break out. So I'm breaking up with Shiseido.]

6. Clarins Sun Control Eye Contour Care Very High Protection SPF30 - Gosh, time for Clarins to give this product an update in the name, yeah? SPF30 can't claim to be "very high protection" anymore! But wait, it looks like they did already! I must have bought an outdated product, as both and carry a "Sun Wrinkle Control Eye Contour Care SPF30" instead of this. Well, I didn't have any problems with this the last few times and it feels nice and smooth and light and moisturizing, so I guess I'll go on using it. Last year I used Shiseido Sun Protection Eye Cream SPF32 and thought it was fine. Between the two, I think the Clarins feels more moisturizing and the Shiseido feels more like sunscreen.

7. Clinique Sun SPF45 Targeted Protection Stick - I thought this would be nice and small to carry around and use as needed. Today it came in handy after I wiped off all my makeup after lunch to read about Julius Caesar outside in the sun. I applied it all over the face and found that it felt rather heavy and greasy. It turned out that I looked pretty greasy, too. It remained kind of sticky on top of the skin all afternoon, so I wouldn't advise it for use under makeup. But I didn't burn and I didn't break out. I probably won't use it for my face like that again unless I really had to, but it's good to know that it really can be used for sensitive areas. Because I also used it all around my eyes and it did not irritate my dry, contact-lensed eyes at all. I was also advised that it can be used on lips, which is a bonus since lip products don't come with high SPF. Read the blurb about it here.

8. LAVANILA The Healthy Lip Screen SPF30 - I have been looking for this little tin for weeks. I finally found it today at the Sephora on Bloor/Avenue. It's in the LAVANILA section at the very top shelf where you can't actually see the product unless you're seven feet tall. (The cashier thanked me for finding them because she had no idea that they were carried at the location.) ((Why am I so fond of brackets?)) Anyway, I have yet to come across a review for this product so I'll do a mini review here.

As you can see, it's one of those stark white lip balms. I don't understand why it's so difficult to come out with lip products with high SPF that have colour. Someone must fix this immediately. I'm deathly afraid of stark white lip products because they make me look like a corpse. This one, fortunately, looks clear on the lips. The white substance is rather hard (but not waxy) and I had to warm it with my finger and apply multiple times to the lips to feel like there was transference. I think it'll actually be a really nice layering product under lipsticks. Perhaps that was the intent... ah, no. says that it's a "luxuriously creamy" product but I completely disagree on that point. It's definitely not creamy and it's far from luxurious. It's solid and functional.

Surprisingly, there's a subtle minty smell to this balm and a subtle tingling effect upon application. I totally expected this to smell like vanilla like all the other LAVANILA products. Since I was reading and needed a feeling of being alert, the mintiness was refreshing. In terms of moisturizing effect, it feels like your typical balm at first but doesn't have much of a lasting power. If you're looking for hydration, you'd have to reapply every hour or two. It'll not withstand meals or drinks. As for the actual sun protecting, I didn't burn today and will have to use it more frequently to be able to report accurately on that front.

And finally, there is only one product missing in my sun protection arsenal and it's a powder with SPF. BeautyEditor recently wrote an awesome article about that here, so be sure check it out if you wear a lot of makeup and would like to touch up frequently and protect your face at the same time. With the recent discovery of the Shiseido face protection cream, I'm leaning toward getting this particular sun protection powder:

Damn, I write some long-ass posts. So what's your sun protection routine? On the scale between Careless ---> Paranoid, where do you stand? If you're anything like me, you're definitely standing in the Excessive and Paranoid zone. I welcome you with open arms.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Quelling that Lemming (again): Sephora Brand instead of NARS

I had a serious hard-on for the NARS Body Illuminator for the last month or so. While I've always loved NARS, lately it's become almost a disease. Maybe it's the effect of blogging and seeing so many great reviews, or NARS is just doing a stellar job in marketing lately... I don't know. But without even the experience of body illuminators or anything of the sort, I just really really wanted the new limited edition NARS Body Illuminator.

I was pretty pasty during April/May when we began having to show skin again after a brutal winter. While I didn't want to sport a faux tan, I didn't want to look like a ghost either. Luckily I was reminded of a similar product in my stash. As of March, I hadn't even tried one squirt of it. But within the past few weeks, I've been slathering my arms and legs with it as it's turned out to be a pretty good dupe for the NARS product.

It is the Sephora Collection "Beach Glow Melted Body Butter." I purchased this in a set along with the matching dry shimmer oil at the end of last summer and they've been waiting for me to pull them out of the vault to finally review.

I'm not crazy about glitter and shimmer, but both the NARS and this Sephora illuminator are packed with gold shimmer. I would say that the individual shimmer flecks in NARS are perhaps much smaller and more subtle than the Sephora, but the quantity of shimmer in both are about the same.

They both come in the form of cream in a big squeeze tube.

They're both a deep bronze colour. If there is a difference, I'd say that the NARS looks a little more brown (to mimic the shade of their Laguna bronzer) while the Sephora looks more bronze. (I tested the NARS product at a Sephora counter to compare.)

You can see the golden flecks reflecting immediately under any sort of light.

I piled on quite a bit on my arm to make it more visible. Um... don't put this much on yourself when you're actually applying it.

Starting to blend it in:

Not being a user of self-tanners or self-bronzers, at first I was a little nervous about the colour and how much it was going to stain my skin. I didn't have to be afraid because the effect is actually very natural.

You're left with the merest hint of bronze and much more than a hint of shimmer. Like I said earlier, I'm not a shimmery person at all, but I quite like how it glints off the sun when outside.

It basically looks the same as when I tested the NARS. The difference is miniscule to me. With how popular the NARS body illuminator is, I'd be surprised if they didn't bring it back every summer. So I suppressed the panicky part of me that wants to grab every limited edition product out there in the world. Also, the price difference between these two is crazy. I got the Sephora package for about CAD$15-20 and the NARS illuminator alone is CAD$58. Shopping my own stash felt really good!

Now, the Sephora illuminator has a rather striking scent. According to the tube, it's a "flirty combination of lily of the valley and gold coast jasmine, with nuances of kiwi and pear." It's definitely much more than a nuance as the smell is both powerfully fruity and floral, but it's not unpleasant and I've come to associate going outside with this smell since I've been using it so much lately. The NARS illuminator has a perfumed scent as well but it's much more subtle - I couldn't really tell what it smelled like based on a quick whiff in the store.

You're also left with quite a lot of shimmer on your hands afterwards, so I would advise a good handwashing afterwards. It also comes off easily with wet wipes, but I noticed that the scent lingers.

I don't know whether the melted body butter transfers on to white clothing, because I just can't take the risk. I apply this when I wear colourful sundresses or plain t-shirts and shorts. I'm sure some of the shimmery bits transfer on to clothing but take precaution and pair with clothing you don't want to ruin. I just know that as soon as I put on something clean and white, I'm going to stain it horribly with these illuminators no matter how careful I try to be. It's the law of the universe. The last time I wore white pants, I spilled coffee on my lap within the hour. Truth.

And of course, after going on and on about how great this melted body butter is, I do believe Sephora no longer carries it! However they do have a new illuminating bronzing oil which does the same thing, and The Body Shop also has a new Honey Bronze Shimmering Dry Oil which I was super tempted by.

And this one's only $14! The moral of the story is that they all do the same freakin' thing. As a body illuminator newbie, I can't discern a crucial difference between any of them. If I didn't have last year's body butter, I would have opted for The Body Shop version. Personally I just don't see the need to shell out $40+ for the NARS illuminator. But for those who are adamantly pro-NARS, Eugenia of Ommorphia Beauty Bar meticulously reviewed each of the new limited edition NARS products including the body illuminator. Do check it out!

So, that's another lemming successfully squashed. (For those who missed it, the first squash happened like this.) Pretty soon I'm going to wipe out the lemming colony. Who's with me?!