Sunday, July 31, 2011

Aaaaaaaaand the winners are...!

Call me old-fashioned but I enjoy writing out the names and drawing them personally. Without further ado, the winners of my 100 followers milestone giveaway are:

(in order of draw)

1. Rebecca

2. Yarisse

3. sweetkiss

Thank you for your readership! Please send me an email at to claim your prize!

Thanks again to everyone who commented and sent me encouragements and feedback. My heart warmed with each comment and a lot of you reminded me of my original goal to reduce instead of hauling. I'll blog with a greater degree of conviction and hope you'll remain on the journey with me. Much love to you all! We'll have another party and do this again at 200. =)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

July 2011 Faves

July was a scorcher of a month (woohoo!) and I tried to keep my routine as simple as possible with only foundation, concealer, cream blush and a bright(er) lippie. I didn't bother with setting powder or eye makeup at all and don't miss them much yet!

The foundation I enjoyed this month was the leftover MUFE Mat Velvet + Matifying from last summer. I haven't touched it since last fall and it hasn't changed in colour, texture or smell, so I've been using it almost every day now that I'm tanned and extra oily from the summer sun. I'm determined to finish it by the end of August as it really is very mattifying, tends to emphasize dry patches and can't be used when the weather cools and my skin starts to turn from oily to normal.

Have I mentioned how much I love cream blush? Dab dab dab, pat pat pat, and done! I enjoyed in particular Joe Fresh Cheek Tint in Cherry, By Terry Velvet Cream Blush in 2 Peach Nude, and GOSH Silky Cream Blusher Stick in 001 Tropical Breeze (to be reviewed). I think the orange and apricot tones of the GOSH and By Terry go well with a tanned complexion, and when I need a change once in a while, the sheer red of the Joe Fresh tint provided a perfect natural flush.

Now I'm not one for overly bright lips, but even I needed to kick things up a notch as the days melted into one gorgeous sunny moment after another. The lippies I've been enjoying are Revlon Colorburst in Strawberry, NARS Wonder and Lise Watier Lip Kiss Crayon Gloss in Mango Punch.

My hair has grown a few inches since the monumental hair disaster back in May. The few extra inches make a lot of difference in how I style my hair now. The MoroccanOil Intense Curl Cream which I raved about in my May 2011 favourites had to be put away as it stopped emphasizing the curls and weighed heavier in my hair once the length started to add extra weight. So I went digging in my stash and rediscovered an old favourite. This Sunsilk Waves of Envy Sea Mist is no longer sold in the stores, which I'm rather bummed about. I remembered that it worked really well the last time my hair was this length and emphasized the waves nicely. This $1.99 purchase was a total steal. When spritzed all over wet hair, it gives me a nice beachy wave as it dries. And if I want to polish up the look, I just add some anti-frizz spray or cream after my hair is dry. (Will post something more about this soon.)

I've always loved this Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Mandarine-Basilic EDT and lately I've been drowning myself in this repeatedly throughout each day. The freshness of the citrus and basil shine while anchored by amber and sandalwood to keep it from being a ghostly salad type of scent. It lingers on my skin but it's also impossible to overspray because it's so light.

Because this bottle can't be carried around, I use a Sephora Atomizer to take it with me on the go. I wish all perfume came in travel sizes but until then, atomizers are a godsend.

So, that's basically my July routine in a nutshell. What have you been enjoying this month?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Progress! My second empties post.

First of all, thanks to everyone who took the time to comment and give me some constructive feedback on the contents of this blog. You'll notice that from time to time I tend to forget that I am a self-proclaimed "reductionista" and get carried away with the new rather than reduce the mountain of old stuff hidden in every nook and cranny of... well, everywhere I traverse.

One of the things that people wanted to see more of was empties posts and ways to cut down on products or finding ways to multi-task with current products. I've been making a conscious effort to finish up some of the things that have been kicking around the house for way too long. Here's what I managed to work off in the past month or so.

Facial Wipes - I go through these like crazy, especially in the summer. In an effort to keep from breaking out and improve the condition of my skin, I decided to wipe off all makeup as soon as I get home if I don't plan on going out again that same evening. I'll usually do the whole proper face cleansing routine with cleansers, toners and moisturizers just before bed, but until I feel like spending that much time in the bathroom, at least taking off the makeup for a few hours is better than leaving it on all night... right?!?

I've mentioned all of these previously. The Body Shop Tea Tree Cleansing Wipes are great for acne-prone skin. I rarely stock up on the same item but since I go through them so quickly now, I bought three of these while The Body Shop was having one of those "buy # get # free" promotions.

This small pack of Balea 3 in 1 Cleansing Cloths is actually from my "secret stash." I ran out of all wet cloths for a time and didn't feel like buying another one.

Giant pack of Balea 3 in 1 Cleansing Cloths. I like using these to do a preliminary wipe, then do a secondary wipe with The Body Shop ones.

Veet Ready to Use Wax Strips for Face - I seriously hate dealing with any kind of hair, whether it's on my head, face, or body. I used to get my brows waxed on a regular basis at salons, but when I was at school full-time last year and had to cut back on expenses, I decided to give these facial wax strips a try.

I find that the full strip is way too big, so I cut them in half and make them last longer that way. This way they're the perfect size for under my brow and along the sides of my lips where I have the barest hint of the dreaded female mustache. They work well and I was satisfied with them. But I find all wax strips to be pretty much the same, so I'll just buy the cheapest kind possible and who cares whether it's Veet or Andrea or some no name brand as long as they don't tear off my skin.

Sephora Brand Smoothing Primer (Sample Size) - It's still half full but I gave up on this stupid thing. First, I think it made me break out. Second, it doesn't keep the shine at bay though it's matte enough to emphasize dry patches. I thought I liked it at first because it glides on super smoothly, but it doesn't actually seem to do anything beneficial for my face. Never again.

Dermalogica Clean Start Welcome Matte SPF 15 Moisturizer (Sample Size) - I quite liked this one. I don't think that it has any anti-acne properties, but it didn't cause trouble for my oily, acne-prone skin and seemed to provide enough hydration to keep from being overly matte. I bought another travel size of it to continue testing it out.

NOW BEHOLD: an actual finished makeup product. ***GASP!!!***

To think that my favourite lipstick of all time is this ugly bonus lipstick from Clinique. I wore it down to the nub as shown in the pic, thought of scooping out the remainder and using that too but decided I was never going to actually pick up a lipstick brush and be all high maintenance about it. The reason I like this Clinique Different Lipstick in "Tenderheart" is that it's the best low maintenance lipstick ever. It looks natural, feels moisturizing on my very dry and chappy lips, and all it requires is a swipe on the top, a swipe on the bottom and I'm good to go. Totally worth buying a new tube to continue with stress-free mornings.

As mentioned in the Rimmel Match Perfect Concealer post, I finished my favourite MUFE HD Invisible Cover Concealer again. I promptly went out to replace it as I've yet to find a better multi-tasking concealer for undereye and blemishes that matches my skin shade almost exactly.

I debated about whether I should include something like toothpaste and thought, heck why not. I had sensitive teeth for a long time and think that using Sensodyne actually really helps. Will definitely use again.

Pantene Nature Fusion Conditioner - HALLELUJAH! As you will see below, I got rid of not only this but TWO conditioners. While I like this conditioner a lot, my wavy-textured normal hair doesn't require much attention in the way of conditioning and I can take it or leave it with this Pantene option. Current drugstore fave is Fructis.

John Frieda Weatherworks Conditioner - I didn't see any weather-proofing results with this. Not worth the money.

I'm most happiest about getting rid of the conditioners as the large bulky bottles were taking up too much room in the bathroom cabinet. I've been pretty good about not buying skin/hair products in a desperate attempt to get rid of what I already have. To be honest I've been terrible with makeup, but at least I'm making some progress. I'll be conducting these empties inventory at every 10 products or so. Getting excited about finishing up more stuff now! Stay tuned!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Blog Milestone - THANK YOU!

I've often said that I try not to pay attention to the number of "followers" because that's a road leading to paranoia and self-doubt, but I have to admit that hitting 100 was something I had been waiting eagerly for for the past few weeks. Because as soon as I realized what "giveaways" were, I had it in mind to do it with a special twist.

Instead of roping in new readers with enticing products, what I want to do is thank those who already support Beauty Reductionista. This isn't a slam on anyone who choose to have the regular giveaways. I just prefer not to have people following me because they want prizes or freebies. Plus, a lot of the regular readers have become friends and who doesn't love sharing makeup with their friends???

100 isn't an exact number as there are those who followed months ago and became inactive and there are those who don't follow publicly but lurk without commenting. But the only way I know someone is reading is if they let me know somehow. Every comment left is read and responded to with gratitude, and I've learned so much more from blogging than actually imparting information or knowledge. Thank you all for sharing in this journey with me!!

So this is how my giveaway is going to work. First, here are the goodies:

Winner #1

Winner #2

Winner #3

Disclaimer: All products were purchased by me.

If you have been following/emailing/tweeting at Beauty Reductionista before July 22, 2011, simply leave a comment below letting me know what you enjoy most about this blog and/or what kind of posts you would like to see more of in the future. This isn't a promise to take everyone up on their ideas but I thought I'd take the opportunity to pick your brains a bit.

In one week's time, I'm going to drop the qualifying names in a hat the old fashioned way and randomly select three winners.

Ready? Okay!

Thanks again for reading. You guys are the best.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Deborah Lippmann "Lara's Theme" and "Girls Just Want To Have Fun"

Both shades have received a lot of attention from bloggers since they debuted just in time for summer fun, but I didn't get around to putting them on until the last few weeks when temperatures reached scorching levels here in Toronto. I love summer and what the sun and heat do for my naturally cranky disposition, but it still takes quite a while for me to get with the program and actually put on some bright and happy colours.

When I put these on, my mood brightened considerably just looking at my nails. See for yourself!

Girls Just Want To Have Fun is that perfect coral that I've been looking for. It's not too cool or too warm. Perfect balance, formula and finish. Two coats lasted me all week long.


Lara's Theme is a vibrant orange that made me forget all about missing out on Dior Aloha and Essie Brazilliant. To be honest, I'm not very adventurous with brights even on nails, so it took some time to work up the courage to put on my fingertips. I took a Twitter & household poll and this came out on top.

This also took two coats and lasted all week.

When compared together, Lara's Theme puts Girls Just Want To Have Fun to shame with its superior vibrancy, but it wasn't exactly easy trying to find matching outfits that wouldn't clash with bright orange nails. For ease of wear on a daily basis, GJWTHF will probably be the one I reach for more often.

Both shades were temporarily sold out everywhere I looked, but recently I noticed that Lara's Theme has been restocked at the Bloor Street Holt Renfrew. While I was there, I also noticed that the new fall shades were also stocked. But since I'm still learning to embrace brights, I pretended not to see them. It's still July for crying out loud. Let me enjoy being cheerful without reserve for a little while longer, goddammit!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Perfume Sampling 5 of 14: HEELEY "Ophelia"

Saturday was an incredibly lazy day for me, but I decided that it shouldn't be a completely unproductive one. So I pulled out one of the Luckyscent samples and got to work at my favourite cafe, sitting under a hut next to some lovely flowers while sipping coffee, listening to music and enjoying the weather. It was hard work I tell you. I wracked my brain trying to make the connection between Ophelia the perfume and Ophelia from Hamlet.

Note the picture of the garland on the bottle. It stands for not only the floral properties of Ophelia but the flower images and associations of Hamlet's Ophelia.

But before we delve into literary studies, here's an introduction to Heeley, courtesy of Luckyscent:

As a designer influenced by nature, it was natural that James Heeley should be fascinated by the world of scent. It was after meeting Annick Goutal in 1996 that he discovered how scents are ‘designed’. His first scent, ‘Figuier’, is remarkable for it’s precision in evoking the natural scent of a Mediterranean Fig tree. With time and experience, his beautifully constructed, simple and fresh scents evolved into more complex creations such as ‘Cardinal’, ‘Esprit du Tigre’ and ‘Cuir Pleine Fleur’. His continually evolving collection now includes nine contemporary scents made according to the art of traditional French perfumery.

Every detail, from the creation of the scent and selection of ingredients, to the recyclable packaging and engraved wooden top is designed ‘in house’. Today, Heeley is one of the few owner-founder, luxury perfume houses in Europe. This independence allows the creative freedom to create individual, quality scents that are quite simply unique.

And here is the description for Ophelia:
A flowing gossamer gown, long streaming hair adorned with fresh blossoms, ribbons fluttering in the wind – that enchanted moment of young love before disillusionment comes creeping in. Fresh green flower stems and a delicate orange lead to a heartbreakingly lovely jasmine, like a summer morning so beautiful and clear that it bring tears to your eyes. Languidly sensuous ylang ylang and creamy tuberose intertwine with the jasmine to create a luminous bouquet that perfectly balances headiness and warmth. The three flower absolutes are cradled in a smooth and dreamy white musk that keeps them under control – the flowers stay radiant and fresh and never become shrill. Utterly feminine and bewitchingly romantic, this would be absolute perfection on a bride. However, it’s far too beautiful to save for only one day. Devastatingly pretty.

Notes: Italian orange, green flower stems, jasmin, ylang ylang, tuberose, moss, white musc

Put briefly, Ophelia is the girlfriend/would-have-been girlfriend of Hamlet. There's ample evidence in the text that she once meant something special to Hamlet but suddenly he treats her cruelly without explanation. Between Hamlet's rejection of her and her father's sudden death, beautiful, young and fragile Ophelia descends to madness and eventually drowns (it is unclear whether it was an accident or suicide). The poetic description of her death announcement has stirred many an artist's imagination.

It inspired Ophelia by John William Waterhouse (1894):

as well as Ophelia by John Everett Millais (1852):

When I first studied Hamlet in high school, I was rather disgusted with Ophelia's weakness and vulnerability. But I was young and naive myself and thought I was invincible. Many years later, I've had a chance to review both the play as well as myself many more times and it's not so cut and dry now. I feel an immense sense of pity and compassion for Ophelia.

Now how much does all this background information on Ophelia influence my impression of the perfume? A lot, I suppose. Like mentioned in previous posts, all it takes is a romantic name and description and I'm already at the checkout point with credit card in hand. I am forever a sucker for anything that relates to literature, especially myths, legends, fairy tales and folk tales.

To be honest, I'm not sure what ylang-ylang smells like on its own. What I smell immediately is a burst of florals, mainly the tuberose and jasmine. I happen to like jasmine but there's something about the scent that makes me hesitate, reluctant to embrace it fully. It's a warm floral, not green or white or extremely fresh. It's still light but definitely on the warmer side, with depth and elusive complexity. It doesn't take long for the white musc to surface and keep Ophelia a soft and constant presence. Words that sprang to my mind were elegant, graceful and fragile. While the scent is distinct, it doesn't overwhelm. After a few hours its potency fades to a nearly undetectable softness. Instead of a summer morning, this scent reminds me of a late spring evening: either life will bloom even brighter and bigger... or gently wilt away under the heat of a blazing sun.

While I really like Ophelia and have taken the time to draft a rather lengthy post about it, I'm not exactly in love with it. Whether it's my association with the literary Ophelia's fragility or not, it's not intriguing enough for me to spend USD$180 on a 100ml bottle. But for $4, I took a unique journey through one person's interpretation of Ophelia and enjoyed every moment of it.

Have you made any new perfume discoveries lately? What have you been enjoying?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Nail Polish: Sephora by OPI "Havana Dreams"

Is it OPI for Sephora or Sephora by OPI? I can never get it straight. Anyway.

I went to the beach a few weeks ago and wanted a beachy manicure to match the sunny sky. I had bought Havana Dreams towards the end of winter, hoping to debut it for spring but didn't get around to it until recently. I had great expectations, since I have never disliked a Sephora by OPI/OPI for Sephora polish.

It's a pretty pastel/powder blue and I had eyed it for maybe over a year. I have no problems buying dark and murky colours but for some reason I always hesitate before buying a light shade.

Well, unfortunately I wish that I hadn't bought it after all. It took three very streaky coats to achieve this:

I found it more difficult than usual to manipulate the brush and dole out even strokes. I think it could have used a fourth coat to "even things out" but I was done with this crappy polish by the second streaky coat. I'm putting Havana Dreams in the swap/sale pile and go on dreaming about Havana without it. I'll admit that the colour is very pretty and cheerful, but I'm sure there are superior blue polishes out there that won't make my jaws clench in frustration during application.

Have you encountered a bad nail polish lately? What was it? Let's all stay clear of crap formulas together.

[MAJOR EDIT: I now believe it was the intense heat wave that affected the nail polish. A re-try is in order. Consider this post a first draft.] 

[2nd EDIT - June 2013: Nope, it's crap.] 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Quest for my MUFE Replacement: Rimmel Match Perfection Skin Tone Adapting Concealer

I ran out of my favourite Makeup Forever HD Invisible Cover Concealer, which I've already talked about here, here and here. So I promptly went out and purchased it for the fourth time, using a giftcard from Sephora to do so. But as always when buying this product in particular, I questioned its high price versus value and quantity. Instead of ripping into the new package, I decided to look for a cheaper alternative. Starting at the lowest range possible, I will work my way up from drugstore to high end in search of the perfect alternative. If such a thing is not to be found, the MUFE will always be there for me... right? Right.

My search led me to this Rimmel Match Perfection Skin Tone Adapting Concealer which was on sale at Pharma Plus for about CAD$5. As stated in my previous reviews of the MUFE concealer, I wear it in 340 Sand and it works well to cover undereye circles and blemishes. My undereye circles are not too bad, so I usually don't put on much concealer there if at all - sometimes a good foundation will work just as well. However, there are those days when you need a little something extra. The idea of a nice $5 concealer made me super excited.

Unfortunately it comes in only three shades. I am never the lightest, sometimes I match the second lightest at my palest during winter, so I picked the darkest shade which is 040 Soft Beige.

The product also claims to be a 2-in-1 concealer & highlighter. Great! It may perhaps replace the outrageously expensive YSL Touche Eclat as well. Its other claims are as follows:

"Banish signs of fatigue and illuminate the eye area. With an oxygen complex. Lets skin breathe."

I'm happy with merely banishing the signs of fatigue. If it "illuminates," even better. But I'm ignoring the oxygen complex and breathing part as they're marketing embellishment BS. If I want my skin to breathe, I won't cover it up period.

Here's what it looks like with the cap off. It seems to be modeled loosely on the YSL Touche Eclat, with a brush tip/applicator.

However, this is a squeeze tube instead of a push-click. Either way, I don't mind.

What I can't get over is that this is the darkest shade offered. Even on me it looks quite light.

Let me take a moment to tell you that I'm being quite brave by putting up pics of my one very hooded eye in order to show you the effect of this concealer / highlighter / illuminator. This eye is a huge source of grievance as the other eye is nicely creased and much bigger in comparison. But for some reason I took shots of this eye. ANYWAY. Moving on.

As can be seen, not much of a dark circle. Just some slight bruising effect under the inner corner of the eye.

I took a liberal swipe all the way underneath. The concealer is slightly pink and too fair for my skin tone. I can't imagine how light the other two shades might be!

But when patted and blended in, the mismatch in shade doesn't seem too bad. In fact, it does illuminate. The coverage is light so it barely classifies as a concealer, but there's a marked difference when I wear it and when I don't. For a $5 product, it's not bad.

So, now that I have it in my possession, I'll use it until it's done. It's an okay product, but again, doesn't do much to cover major dark circles. In fact, it performs the way some people complain of the YSL Touche Eclat: that there's no concealing effect and that it's not worth the money. Well, $5 to "illuminate" is not a bad deal. While it certainly won't be replacing my MUFE HD Invisible Cover, it just might replace the YSL Touche Eclat which I'm not terribly fond of. Perhaps some other highlighter junkie/expert can defend the virtues of YSL, but that's an area in which I pay very little attention, so I just might be happy with the Rimmel for a while.

How do you feel about concealing and illuminating and what's your favourite undereye concealer? Discovered any good drugstore products lately?