Tuesday, August 30, 2011

August 2011 Faves

August was essay/exam month, which means it was punctuated by super caffeinated all-nighters, glasses without makeup, greasy unwashed hair tied up in an unflattering manner... you know. Very glamorous. But I still managed to discover a few gems among the multitude of products crying out to be used and loved.

Dry Idea Clinical Complete Roll On Antiperspirant/Deodorant (Unscented). I don't need deodorant (seriously, I don't ever get b.o. even if I don't shower for a week - tried, tested and true) but I'm always on the hunt for a good anti-perspirant, which is much more difficult. How do sweat pores get blocked? If liquid is meant to be released from the body, it'll come out one way or another. Impossible task. However, I find that this particular roll on antiperspirant actually keeps the wetness at bay for a solid few hours and sometimes even longer than that. It has a strange, slick feel once applied, but let it dry for a minute before putting on your outfit and it works well without leaving powdery or visible remnants behind. I can't tell you whether the deodorant aspect of it works, but as an antiperspirant, it's definitely a winner. Sold at drugstores for $7-10.

Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray. Reviewed here.

Chanel Peridot Nail Colour. Reviewed here.

The Body Shop Tea Tree Skin Clearing Travel Pack. I was so impressed by the cleansing wipes from the same line that I decided to give the entire line a try. So far I like it a lot. It doesn't smell very nice, but the constant stream of breakouts seems to have stopped for now and even look like they're healing. Full review to come once I finish the trial.

GOSH Silky Cream Blusher Stick in Tropical Breeze. I enjoyed this so much that it basically became a summer fave. I mentioned it briefly in my July Faves but failed to do a proper review.

This was a limited edition summer release from GOSH Cosmetics which is a Danish brand sold in Shoppers Drug Mart across Canada. I picked it up for about $5-6 and was pleasantly surprised by how smoothly the product applied and blended for a perfectly natural look despite the garish orange shade in the tube.

I was also impressed by the clear protective cap that is provided under the cap. I don't know that a second level protection is actually necessary, but I suppose two seals are better than one, right? In any case, I really appreciate that, especially for what is essentially a budget brand.

There was a small crack on the surface of the blush, but given the low cost and rather satisfying quality of the product, I can totally overlook that.

I know the photos make it look very shimmery, but I swear the shimmer didn't show on the face once I blended carefully. The orange shade worked beautifully with a light tan.

There you have it. Hopefully I can showcase more exciting makeup in September. In the meanwhile, I'd love to hear what you've been enjoying this month!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Design Fail: Bourjois Paris Express Eye Makeup Remover

I hate design failures on products. It's a dead giveaway that the company is thinking more of profit than consumer satisfaction. "What's going to look cute and sell?" versus "How useful can we be?" Yeah, every company thinks profit, of course, but at least they can pretend that they're offering us something worth spending money on, right?

The last product I hated on was the T3 Veloce Dryer which places the on/off button exactly where the hand has to grasp the dryer. Today it's Bourjois Paris Express Eye Makeup Remover.

The little pearl is supposed to be attached to the top of the lid and it's what you tug on to open the lid. One day it just fell off.

What's the big deal? The deal is that it's very difficult or next to impossible to open the remover without it.

There's no place for you to dig your hand into in order to lift the lid. After minutes of wrestling with it, I can wedge a fingernail into the crack but it results in chipped or scrached manicure. Fucking annoying is what it is.

Mine isn't the only one that had the pearl thingy come off. I saw the displays and samples at the drugstore had most of the pearl handle missing.

Because it got so irritating, I was forced to go out and find a similar size bottle to pour the remainder of the eye makeup remover into. A container with a normal lid.

Then I had to practially tear off the upper part of the Bourjois bottle to get to the opening.

So now my $4 travel container is filled with the remainder of the Bourjois makeup remover. I shouldn't have had to go through this trouble. The remover itself is just kind of okay, not the kind of amazingness I've experienced with Lancome Bi-Facil. So not worth the trouble. But I'm a cheap-ass when it comes to removers and can't toss a perfectly good bottle, no matter the annoyance.

I still wonder if I'm making a big deal over nothing, but I can't help but think if I were designing a bottle, I'd perhaps make sure that it's secure, easy to open and close and generally hassle-free for the person who might be using it on a daily basis. Simple things like that. But, you know, that's just me.

Smell ya later, Bourjois.

What do you guys think? Is packaging failure a deal breaker for you?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Progress! My third empties post.

Ladies... I proudly present to you my official EMPTIES bag. It sits on my overcrowded desk as a reminder to continue to use up the things I have. Every time I toss something into this bag, I feel ten pounds lighter. Ha, it's like a beauty product diet. Novel concept.

Without further ado, this is what I managed to get rid of recently.

Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo. Not sure whether it actually works to get rid of "residue" or not, but the medicinal smell was unbearable. I stupidly purchased this giant vat of it from Costco and it was impossible to finish. Luckily when Holt Renfrew hosted a Fekkai shampoo trade-in event, my sister and I were able to take this in and redeem it for a Fekkai Glossing Shampoo instead.

Alberto European Moisture Soak Shampoo. Not moisturizing at all. One of the most horrible shampoos ever purchased. Also traded in for a Fekkai shampoo at the event noted above.

Finesse Moisturizing Conditioner. Managed to finish this to the very last drop. My mom always used to buy Finesse when I was little and I still have a lingering fondness for it. It's not too terrible but not great either. For a few bucks at the drugstore, you get what you pay for. I probably won't ever buy it again. Good bye, Finesse. It was nice growing up with you.

The Body Shop Tea Tree Cleansing Wipes. Already discussed a few times before. I'll continue to work my way through this stuff.

Balea 3 in 1 Cleansing Cloths. Also discussed many times. Will continue to purchase.

Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel. Ahhh, a monumental finish! The fact that I finished it means that I really liked it. I know the redness and stinging horrifies some people, but the redness fades within a few hours and my face feels wonderfully smooth afterwards. Now the dilemma is whether I repurchase this or go experimenting once more. I've been curious about REN Glycolactic Skin Renewal Peel Mask for a long time, so I may take a detour there and then return to this Juice Beauty peel if REN doesn't work out for me. [Edit: Ordered the REN!]

Aveda Outer Peace Acne Relief Lotion. The Outer Peace line is outrageously expensive but it is one of the few anti-acne lines out there that (A) actually work, and (B) doesn't strip your face dry. I'm working with a few other anti-acne products right now so it'll be a while before I come back to this one. But come back I will, because that's what happened the last time and my face turns into a mess without it.

butterLONDON Master Black Tea Luxury Lotion (Travel Size). I won a bunch of butterLONDON stuff in a contest last year before I began this blog but forgot to include these lotions in the hand lotion inventory. This is a body lotion but the size makes it perfect for carrying around in my purse. It's actually the exact kind of consistency and texture I like for a hand lotion. For the body I prefer heavier creams and butters. The smell of Black Tea is interesting. I definitely get the tea aspect of it but it isn't heavy at all. I don't like it enough to pay the rather expensive price for the full size but perhaps I will repurchase if smaller sizes for lower price becomes available.

Makeup Forever Lash Fibers. I don't know if lash primers work. My lashes are so puny that I feel like they can use every help they can get, but primers will uncurl the curl, turn white and become difficult to cover up with the mascara and add an extra annoying step in my morning routine. This is old enough that I have to toss it for safety reasons. I might not be as careful with other products in my stash but I have super sensitive eyes and am very careful about products that get so close to my weak, aging eyeballs. Will not repurchase.

H2O Shine Control Mattifying Essence. A product so old that it is no longer carried in the stores. Still, it works and doesn't smell bad or anything. But I know for a fact that it's really old and it's time for it to go. I might repurchase if it still exists. It soaks the oil right off your face but will accentuate dry patches.

theBalm Balm Shelter SPF 17 Tinted Gloss in "Dream Girl". I just finished talking about how much I love theBalm. Well, one thing I don't love about them is their lip gloss. It has a sickly sweet smell that makes me feel ill and I don't think the tinted gloss is so great that it's worth spending $20 on. This one, however, I got in a MUA swap because although I hate swapping for lip products, the person swore that it was swatched only once very lightly. I believed her until I recently found a long black hair tangled with the doe foot applicator inside the lip gloss. GROSS. In the trash it goes. I'll never swap lippies with strangers again. Never.

Boscia Peppermint Blotting Linens. I scooped up a ton of these during Christmas when they were on sale for $5 each. I like the uncomplicated nature of the Boscia blotting linens. But since they're regularly $13 each, I need to find a cheaper replacement. I'm thinking of trying out the NYX blotting sheets that are sold at Rexall for about $6. Anyone know if they're any good?


12 products gone. I think I'm improving with time. Have you been working on empties or Project 10 Pan or the like lately?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Perfume Sampling 6 of 14: Parfumerie Generale "L'eau de Circe"

I'm unfamiliar with Parfumerie Generale and again picked a sample based on its mythological associations rather than notes or popularity. However, I finally think I'm getting better at "reading" scents!

Description from Luckyscent:

The legend of Circe, an enchantress in the mythological tale of the Odyssey, greatly inspired the perfumer: She caused the loss of Ulysses’ companions through her magic spells. Eau de CircĂ© is a 'magic potion' exploring a new kind of Oriental perfume: light, aerian with transparency, an evanescent oriental. Captivating and magnetic, it draws it mystery from a precious floral blend of Absolute of Damask Rose, Jasmine, Osmanthus, Orchid, Ylang-ylang, white Peach leaves and Tangerine. Sensual and scheming with Patchouli, Wood and Amber, the warm, caressing Honey Balm brings light and delicate sweetness to the scent.

I say that I'm getting better at deciphering scents because even before referring back to the description above, I applied the EDP and smelled a rich burst of florals along with a side of something curiously oriental. I've never been a fan of the so-called oriental perfumes in the past, though I'm trying to keep an open mind with future experimentation. I'm not sure that I like this mixture. And I imagine that those poor souls who came across Circe in The Odyssey might have felt something similar upon their first meeting with the enchantress.

I had the pleasure of being assigned Lattimore's translation of Homer's The Odyssey about 14 years ago. As you may guess, my memory isn't what it used to be. So today I point you to good old Wikipedia for a quick catch-up session on who/what Circe is all about. The gist of it is that after the sacking of Troy, Odysseus who is the mastermind behind the Trojan Horse which led to the decisive Greek victory, wandered the seas for 10 years before finally landing at his home isle of Ithaca.

I never liked Odysseus and loved Circe for getting the upper hand on him so quickly before he could screw her over the way he did everyone he encountered. The 7 of the 10 years he was kept from home? Circe's fault. She created a magic potion, fed it to Odysseus's crew and turned them all into pigs. What a badass bitch.

Circe Invidiosa, John William Waterhouse (1892)
I think the perfume definitely evokes something of the mysterious nature of Circe and her latent powers.

Circe Offering the Cup to Odysseus, John William Waterhouse (1891)

The split personality of the perfume captures the duality of Circe's nature quite well. I mean, you don't keep a man around for seven years just because. (Or do you?) I want to run away from Circe and I want to avoid L'eau de Circe from now on. Either I'm afraid it'll turn me into a pig or Circe and her magic water is just not my thing. The florals are giving me a headache and the vague oriental qualities are making me feel irritated rather than warm and sensual. I feel like it could use something sweet in the mixture to make it more compelling. Perhaps it just doesn't gel with my body chemistry and will smell marvelous on someone else.

The sample cost me $4 and the full bottle stands at USD$100. I will not be purchasing, but as with each sample, the journey is always the most interesting part.

Previous reviews:

Sample 1: Juliette Has a Gun "Not A Perfume"
Sample 2: Sarah Horowitz "Perfect Veil"
Sample 3: M. Micallef "White Sea"
Sample 4: L'Artisan "Verte Violette"
Sample 5: Heeley "Ophelia"

Have you been trying any new, interesting perfumes lately? Let me know if you want a sniff at L'eau de Circe. A second opinion is more than welcome!

Inventory #27: Multi-Purpose Palettes

I was going to stop with the inventories because I thought all the topics were covered, but I realized recently that a few categories were still missing. Today we analyze my particular weakness: the multi-purpose makeup palette. I mean, shoot me through the heart. Palettes save money, space and time. That is, until you rack up a whole bunch of different palettes that don't get full-time attention and play. But I can't resist something that's supposed to be great value as well as literally a bundle of fun. Read on, fellow junkies.


I still have my first palette ever. It's the Living Beauty Palette by Bobbi Brown, launched back in 2007. It has three Pot Rouge for Lips and Cheeks and six neutral matte eye shadows. I have never come across a better palette for the classic, everyday, neutral-loving person. From left to right, both the Pot Rouge and Eye Shadow shades move from light and bright to dark and sultry, all the while remaining perfectly understated and easy to wear.

I remember feeling so professional carrying this with me everywhere, touching up during the day at the office and feeling very adult. What the briefcase does for some people, this palette did for me. It was my secret weapon in a very old-school corporate setting.

However, it has been a while and it's probably time for me to toss it. I'm nowhere near finishing it, so it's difficult to toss a nearly intact palette into the garbage. I still dip into the medium brown shadow to touch up brows and consider the darkest shade called "Espresso" to be one of the most perfect eye shadow colours ever. It does something mysterious and sexy to my eyes without looking like makeup. Too bad I'm so lazy and rushed in the morning to spend more time with it. I'm definitely getting Espresso solo when I do part with this at last.


My second palette came years later. Before I started blogging, I watched a lot of YouTubers and got the scoop on how great theBalm's Shady Lady Vol. 2 Palette was. This palette turned me into a die-hard theBalm fan. I'm no eye shadow expert but the quality of these shadows are truly amazing.

Whenever I took the time to carefully apply shadows using this palette, I always received compliments. There's just the right amount of shimmer in these babies to kick things up a notch from my ordinary non-descript makeup application. This palette is still kicking around at Sephora and is totally worth the price of admission.


While I love Bobbi Brown, I rarely shop from them for some reason. But I clearly have a weakness for their palettes. This time it was the Modern Classic Lip & Eye Palette which debuted in November 2010. I wrote a confessional post about it at the time.

The shadows are beautiful. They're rather on the pale and subtle side, as a lot of the BB colours tend to be, which I prefer. I'm not a fan of lip glosses in palettes but I prefer having them to just shadows. It's better value if the palette offers at least two different types of makeup. Then you can just take one on a trip without packing tons of tiny little bits and pieces of makeup you might or might not wear. I haven't worn this much since I tend to avoid eye makeup in the summer, but you can bet I'll be digging into this again as soon as the weather gets another degree cooler.


My fourth palette was a bargain from Stila: Make an Impression in Moscow Travel Palette. I thought these Travel series were so cute. Plus they were only USD$10/CAD$13! I thought I was being so bold too because the shadows are not the kind of shades I would ordinarily pick.

I was back in university full-time and felt experimental. I can't say the orange shadow got much play but the others were quite nice - even the blue! Now that I'm looking at it, I should have worn the blue this summer. Rats.


To fill the void that the Urban Decay Naked Palette left me while I was pining for it, I was swayed by Smashbox's In Bloom shadow palette in late winter/early spring. I had fallen out of love with Smashbox and barely paid them any attention, but the understated neutral shades got me yet again. What can I say - I'm a sucker for boring shadows.

I quite like this but the shades are rather tricky to work with because being so pale, they turn out quite differently on the skin than what they seem in the pan. I still need to experiment with these and figure out how to maximize usage.


Then, just because I love theBalm so much, I picked up the Balmbini palette. It's still brand new and pristine. I can't bring myself to dip into it yet.

Still, I love this palette for many reasons. One, it's theBalm. Two, it has three different types of makeup in it: shadows, glosses and blush. Three, the cover is comprised of all the fun covers of all of the existing theBalm makeups. Four, this palette is super thin and will be fabulous for travel. I thought that this was permanent but I'm not sure anymore. They were still kicking around up until last month, but lately I have not seen them.


I don't know if I can promise to stop buying palettes. One that I had my eye on lately was the Tarina Tarantino Sparklicity Bronze Palette. I think that I can resist picking it up, but every time I see it a part of me melts. It's probably due to that one seafoamy greenish teal shade that perk up the bronze. Without it, it'd be totally boring.

Soooo, what's your take on multi-purpose palettes or just palettes in general? Love 'em like I do or leave 'em for solo offerings better suited for particular needs? And... I don't really need this TT palette now, do I? Or... I do? Argh!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Getting Ready for Fall: Red Blush

The temperature here has definitely cooled in the mornings and nights. Fall isn't imminent; by Toronto standards, it's kind of already here. When I find myself reaching for a sweater or something with sleeves when the sun goes down, it's time to face the music.

Just as I've bid the juicy bright nail colours a fond farewell, I'm starting to do the same with the orange/apricot blushes that coordinated so well with a summer tan. As my complexion starts to lighten, I look forward to sporting a natural flush that looks like the result of exposure to cold winds.

With my aversion to pink, it's no surprise that I turned to red blushes instead. I managed to find four from my stash.

Missing: Joe Fresh Cheek Tint

Maybe "managed to find" isn't exactly the most accurate phrase to use, considering that all four were purchased within the past year. Oops.

Joe Fresh Cheek Tint - Cherry

From the four, the one I currently use the most is the Joe Fresh Cheek Tint in Cherry (see previous review here for swatches). I'm still big on cream blush as it's easy to apply and carry around. Plus it's only CAD$4 at Loblaws. If I lose it or damage it, I'll have no problem replacing it.

What it looks like new:

Cherry is a great name for the shade, as it really mimics the colour of a cherry popsicle. Luckily it doesn't apply opaque on the cheeks so I get a nice, natural flush if blended carefully. In fact, I'll go so far as to say it's like a creamy version of Benefit's Benetint. The effects are pretty darn similar. While I like Benetint, I can't stand working with liquids so I've decided to ignore it for a while. This Joe Fresh Cheek Tint is the perfect replacement for it.

Stila Make Me Blush

The second "red" blush I picked up is actually not entirely red. But I think the highly pigmented effect of the blush is from the red patches.

This was a winter offering from Stila at a great value of USD$14. It came out just before the Physician's Formula Happy Booster blushes did, and when I compared the prices, Stila turned out to be the cheaper option. So I scooped one up on a blah winter day when I needed a pick-me-up.

The hearts are rather irresistible. It was the first prettily designed makeup I purchased, so I had a hard time working up the nerve to use it.

When it released, there was a lot of complaint about the powdery gold shimmer, but to me it's a part of the appeal of this product. I didn't pick this for anything other than the fun factor.

In any case, the gold can be dusted off with a kabuki brush so that you can get straight to the colours. While I usually abhor shimmer and shine on my face, I don't hate the gold dust and how it looks. The gold in conjunction with the pale pink work like highlighters while the darker pink and red patches provide the flush.

Being highly pigmented, all I need is a slight touch of the brush to the pan, and then I have to blend, blend, blend! After overcoming the design obstacle of the MAC My Paradise blush, I feel like I can really dip into this one now and enjoy the hell out of it.

Sorry, I believe this was a limited edition release and no longer available.

Tarte Amazonian Clay Long-Wear Blush - Natural Beauty

After hearing so much about these Amazonian Clay blushes and resisting and resisting, I finally caved at some point in spring. I like the colour so I'm glad to have it, but I still don't get what the big deal is. But then I usually don't experience blush-fading issues. Therefore, the long-wearing promise of the blush is difficult to assess.

The plastic packaging makes it rather difficult to swallow the inflated price difference we Canadians are forced to deal with. Cute but zero sense of luxury here.

Tarte is a brand that I want to like more than I actually do. I've had some real duds from Tarte but they always manage to reel me back in with interesting new stuff and I keep falling for them.

This blush is available at Sephora for USD$25/CAD$33 in 8 different shades. I was torn between this and a few other shades, but a part of me was forecasting even way back then to this moment: I needed red blushes for fall/winter. A red powder blush without shimmer.

This is more of a strawberry red rather than cherry. It's also highly pigmented and require just the lightest touch with the brush.

I'm looking at the embossed design for the first time right now. Tarte is paving a path through the Amazonian forest. I'm not sure what to make of that.

Again, it requires a lot of blending and take up an extra few minutes in the morning in order to avoid the clown face effect. But I get the feeling I'll be getting a lot of mileage out of this beauty in the next few months.

Chanel Joues Contraste - Rouge

I finally bit the bullet a month ago and purchased my first non-nail polish product from Chanel. Yep, I'm merrily skipping down the road to makeup heaven/hell, depending on your point of view. My intention was to completely ignore the Byzantine collection and go nuts with the Fall 2011 collection. The promo pics for the Byzantine didn't really call to me. I barely noticed the deep red blush in the pic.

But then I saw swatches by Kristie of naturalNchicmakeup and fell in love. Check them out here. I thought it was one of the most unique blushes around. Plus it was limited edition. That set off my hunter's instinct and the decision was made once I swatched it in person. 

I think you know what it's like to deal with your first Chanel makeup. You keep it in the box or velvet pouch and barely take it out for fear you'll damage it. I'm afraid to even put fingerprints on it!

I was amused/scared to find that there's another level of protection for this blush once you work up the nerve to open the compact.

 When I lifted the protective screen, I just stared for a while. Beau-ti-ful!

 Despite the scary intensity of colour, I did manage to wear the blush on several occasions.

As you can tell from the fallout around the rim, the texture is rather powdery. But that in no way takes away from the pigmentation or effect of the blush.

I'm never going to run out of this blush since the barest whisper of a tap of the brush will give me more than enough flush to stand in competition with the most rouged up of rouged whores. But... I kind of love it!

Frankly, I think Nicole Kidman could have used some of this Rouge Joues Contraste in Moulin Rouge. Girlfriend is looking rather too pale.

You might ask what the point of a red blush is if I'm wearing just the slightest of amounts to the point it's barely discernible as a red blush. Well, I like it because it could have the effect of a pink blush without actually looking pink on the cheeks. And as someone who looks much younger than her age, I like to avoid things that look obviously pink since pink connotates youth. I'll probably take a dive for the pinks once I hit 40. To me, red is stunningly sophisticated and well worth the effort to practice pulling off. I love all my red blushes, from the little Joe Fresh to grown-up Chanel.

Have I convinced you yet? What's your take on red blush?