Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Inventory #6.1: Help, I'm turning into a Blush Fiend!

A consultation with notable blush fiend, Tracy of Beauty Reflections, revealed that while I have not quite achieved the Blush Fiend status, I am well on my way. Call me a blush hound -- I adore blushes!

Maybe not quite THIS much...but let's talk again next year.

The thing is, I had 13 blushes last year that I was perfectly happy with. Here's the inventory. The only thing I got rid of is the tiny vial of Benefit Benetint after vowing not to work with liquid blush anymore. Everything else is still here. (Except for Laura Mercier Wild Bouquet which is on loan to my sister until she moves back to the city next year.)

I knew I had at least doubled my stash from last year. After doing the count last night, I discovered that I more than doubled it. 18 new blushes had joined the happy family of 13 from last year. WHAT THE WHAT?!?

Once I came to terms with the fact that I temporarily went insane, it didn't take long to figure out the thought process that led me to this accrual. Here's how I moved closer and closer to the Blush Fiend zone.

Cream Blush

Despite having trouble finishing up the Stila Convertible in Peony and NARS The Multiple in Maui, I developed a lasting love for cream blush that could not be quenched. I tried to appease it with affordable ones such as the Joe Fresh Cheek Tints in Cherry and Peach (reviewed here), GOSH Silky Cream Blusher Stick in Tropical Breeze (reviewed here) and NYC Creme Stick in Mauvin' Uptown (not reviewed). However, once I experienced the wonder of ByTerry Velvet Cream Blush in Peach Nude (reviewed here), I knew that I was not to be dragged back from the Fiendish end of the blush fanatic spectrum. There are many, many undiscovered cream blushes waiting for me to snatch them up and provide a loving home to. I think it's only a matter of time before I adopt them, one by one.

Affordable Powder Blushes

I tried to tell myself that I couldn't possibly need any more blush, but when the blogosphere would not shut up about these Hard Candy "dupes" of Benefit Box-o-Blushes, I had to pick one up during a trip to Wal-mart. Then the Stila Make Me Blush surfaced at the same time as the Physician's Formula Happy Booster blushes and I picked the one that was cheaper which was Stila at the time. Then Marcelle went on sale at Rexall and Blushing Bronze looked like a nice dupe of MAC Equilibrium -- so I convinced myself I had to perform a dupe test. Cargo BeachBlush in Coral Beach (not reviewed) is the result of a swap, and Benefit Coralista (not pictured, not reviewed) is a 500-point reward at Sephora. Surely I had had enough by this point.

The NARS Attack

Oops, Luster (bottom left) isn't new.

The valley of shadow of death of the cosmetics aisles called NARS beckoned with its crooked finger and I willingly became one of its many victims. "Gimme all your money," said the NARS counter, and all I could say in response was, "Okay!" As a result of this robbery, Gilda (reviewed here) came home during the summer and The Danmari Palette (reviewed here) with the sisterhood of Orgasm, Super Orgasm, Desire and Sin joined Gilda and Luster. I don't know what it is. You really don't feel like a fledgling blush fiend until there's a heavy stash of NARS in your collection.

(Side story: When I wore NARS Orgasm for the first time to work, the first comment I received that morning was, "You look well-rested." It was on the tip of my tongue to respond with, "It must be all that Orgasm" -- but my boss was not going to understand it and would have thought I was being very inappropriate.)

The Do-I-Need-It? Stash

You've already heard the story of my hemming and hawing over MAC My Paradise (reviewed here) and MAC Equilibrium (haul post here). Surprisingly, these two are the only MAC blushes I own aside from Blushbaby. Because MAC can overwhelm so often with its dozens of limited edition collections, I am pickier about  MAC than I am about other brands and products. As for Tarte Natural Beauty, it's a part of the red blush strategy discussed at length here. These three are definitely in the indulgence category and have paved the way for...

...The Ultimate Splurge

It's the stunning Chanel Joues Contraste in Rouge, discussed here. It seems appropriate that I crossed my Chanel hurdle for the first time with nail polish (first and greatest indulgence) and then a second time with blush (second greatest indulgence).

So... I have 31 blushes. I'm not even going to bother justifying this. But to ensure I don't completely go off the rails, I'm going to cap myself at 30 from now on. If I want a new blush, something has to go. That means I have one to purge at the moment. I think it's going to be one of the old L'Oreals, which I had meant to get rid of in the first place.

Are you a blush fiend? (If the response to "Happiness is a pretty pan of blush" is a resounding yes, then yeah, you're as hopeless as I am.) Is Tracy turning you into a blush fiend? (We channel her while cosmetic shopping -- you find yourself slipping three or four blushes into your purchase basket in one outing. *salute*) What's a reasonable number for a blush collection, that is if you believe in reason at all???

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Conquering Another Hurdle: Sample-Hoarding

Ashley of Makeup Kismet and I had a brief Twitter conversation the other day that touched on a topic I've been thinking about a lot lately: hoarding samples.

First, if you don't follow Ashley on the blog or Twitter, you need to! She's hilarious!  

Second, you might have noticed that I've been showcasing a few samples in my recent empties posts and it is due to a conscious effort to try to reduce the samples collection as well as my regular stash. Isn't it funny how hungry we are for samples and freebies, but once they're lugged home they completely seem to lose all appeal and become a chore to use up?

I think it was the Luxe Box sampling system that sealed the deal for me. I do NOT want any more samples unless I'm actually interested in the product or the brand. No more blind "gimme gimme gimme" when it comes to samples. I donated a ziplock bagful to the women's shelter and now keep my reduced sample stash in the empty Luxe Box.

The plan is to try a sample per week. If I have multiple samples from the same brand or series, I'll try to use them together to derive the maximum benefit possible. If I end up with samples I don't want, they'll promptly be given away so that someone else can try them before expiry.

Ohhhhhh, yes. That pesky thing called an expiry date. Many of the samples are skincare products and the ones packaged in plastic packets don't tend to stamp expiry dates on them. But I was opening up a DDF moisturizer sample box and saw that it expires in less than a year. I meant to try this moisturizer last year when I got it as a part of a swap. Luckily I just finished that Garnier gel-cream and am in need of a moisturizer. Instead of going out to buy a new cream, I'm using up some samples to see what's good and what's not.

So here's my game plan with samples:
  • I will not hoard more than what the empty Luxe Box will carry.
  • I will use one or two samples a week. Older samples closer to expiry will be used first.
  • If I have samples that can substitute for a finished product, I'll use the sample(s) before purchasing new replacements.
  • I will not make purchases because samples are being offered in the promotion. (This goes hand in hand with my rule of not paying for samples. Note to retailers: Samples should be free.)
  • If I have a bad gut feeling about a sample (sense that it's not good for me or is expired), I will not use it.
And lastly:
Samples are not gold and I didn't pay for them. There's no need to treasure and hoard them. And yet I do, either because of my waste-hating conscience or the middle-schooler habits that still cling to my 33 year-old adult self. I've had enough of this.

Also, I now despise the retail trend of using samples to lure customers into making purchases. What the heck is that about? I refuse to play into it. If the products are as good as they claim, they should be tossing free samples to the masses all over the place. I don't understand places that refuse to provide samples. Way to stand behind your products, people.

Wow, I had more to say about samples than I first thought. Over to you: do you collect samples? What's your sampling system?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Progress! My eighth empties post.

You know what? This empties thing is pretty easy now. It's kind of amazing how fast I go through things once I decide to devote myself to them from beginning to end. And that feeling of having to go out to get a replacement for the finished product? EVEN MORE AMAZING.

Philosophy Pure Grace Perfumed Hot Salt, Tub and Shower Scrub

I was in love with Pure Grace and hoarded the perfume, travel size perfume, shower gel, body lotion and this body scrub. The perfumes and the lotion still remain. This scrub was quite good but slightly on the harsh side. It's harsh until the salt starts to melt down. I'm not sure if this is still being sold, what with Philosophy pushing out a thousand new bath products each season. Even if it is, I doubt I'll buy it again, simply for the reason that there are so many other scrubs I want to try and this one isn't good enough to return to.

Herbal Essences Totally Twisted Curl Boosting Mousse

As far as mousses go, I quite like this. It's cheap and holds the curl. Unfortunately it does have that crunchy look that one wants to avoid, but I'd run this through wet hair after my night shower, let the hair dry before going to bed and wake up with some nice curling/wave action that doesn't look stiff or greasy. The only issue is the nozzle that falls off after a while. Weak. I reattached it but once in a while it'll fall off again and become an annoyance. Not sure whether I'd repurchase.

Nivea Refreshing Toner

This was my no-fuss toner. It's not anti-acne or have any treatment properties. It does, however, contain both alcohol and fragrance. While I didn't experience any problems with it, alcohol and perfume are two ingredients something I'm going to attempt to avoid in skincare products. Despite it, I really liked this toner. It's a great $5 toner when on sale.

The Face Shop Pore Minimizer Controlling Pack

I didn't finish this one but it has to be tossed. My cousin left it here after staying with us for six months and I used it only once after she left. Since then, the girl has gotten married and had a kid. I can't believe so much time has gone by and this product was still sitting in my bathroom cabinet. I decided to contribute to the circle of life by tossing it in the garbage.

Garnier Nutritioniste Moisture Rescue Gel-Cream

I can't remember the last time I finished such a big jar of facial moisturizer. I skip moisturizers quite often in the summer due to excessive oiliness but this one had a nice cooling effect. Frankly, it's the best lightweight moisturizer I've ever used, drugstore brand or no. I'm going to play around with some other products for a while but definitely make a return to this if I can't find a better replacement.

Boscia Peppermint Blotting Linens

This is the last of last year's stock. I kept it at work on my desk and blotted my face with it about 5 times per day. This year's Peppermint linens with the gold packaging is now being toted around in my purse and kept at the desk as well. I might pick up a few more before they disappear since shopping around for blotting linens is a huge snorefest.

Bliss Triple Oxygen +C Energizing Cream

Bliss is one of those brands I was really skeptical about. All sorts of gimmicky and not at all convincing. I have the Oxygen Facial Mask and thought I'd give it another try. This sample cream was a nice follow-up to the mask. It's good for normal skin, I think. Not moisturizing enough for dry skin and slighty too heavy for oily skin though probably okay for colder winter evenings. I wore it twice before tossing the sample: once in the morning and once at night. It's just okay, nothing to rave about or disparage either.

Kinerase Clear Skin Moisture Light and C8 Peptide Intensive Treatment

I got the C8 Peptide sample from Sephora forever ago when they still carried Kinerase. I'm a little torn on how I feel about the C8 Peptide. Sometimes it feels amazing, like it did fill in the lines and plump up the face. And then there were days when it seemed to do nothing. It didn't break me out or feel like there was anything on my skin at all, so it's a good treatment to add underneath moisturizer for those who are wary of piling things on. This little tube lasted for months and months because I only applied it around my eyes where fine lines have begun to form and over my forehead where years of scowling and glaring have left their mark. Perhaps I'll splurge for the full size after some more scowling and frowning. I hope Shoppers will continue to carry this line.

As for the Clear Skin Moisture Light which is an anti-blemish moisturizer, I thought it too was great until one day I detected a funky smell. This was the result of a swap and the swapper promised that it was a brand new untouched tube. I believe her -- but the thing is, I don't know how long she had it for. Still, it gave me the chance to test it out for a few weeks before I threw it away. It has a nice, lightweight feel and is a decent moisturizer for oily skin. I'm not convinced that it prevents blemishes but it doesn't cause any new ones or aggravate existing issues.

The Body Shop Tea Tree Skin Clearing Lotion

I thought of sending this to the garbage unfinished but the die-hard frugal part of me wouldn't let up. So I used this over my T-zone where it could use the mattifying effect and used something else around my cheeks and mouth where skin is dryer. Originally reviewed here.

Clinique Lash Building Primer

It's being tossed 90% full, simply because I opened it a long time ago but never actually used it. Now it's too old to even consider testing. Also, I'm done with lash primers. They don't work for me and I refuse to take that extra step in the morning.

Kinerase Elixir Ultime

I received this sample in the October Luxe Box reviewed here -- and it was one of the items I was most eager to try out. My issue of not having enough product was untrue. I was able to run a generous amount through wet hair as well as use the remainder of the mini bottle for touch-ups in the mornings a few more times. The texture is thinner and more liquid than the MoroccanOil but it has a similar oily feel. There's a fresh scent that tickles the nose a little without coming off too strong. And what it does for the hair? Amazing. Hair dried soft and shiny. A few more drops took away any remaining frizz in the morning. Small amount goes a long way. Luxe Box says the regular price for the full size is $50. I am so very tempted. But I think I'll wait until a few more hair products get tossed.

In total:

  • 5 full sizes
  • 4 travel size/samples
  • 3 full sizes

Slowly but surely, my stash is shrinking. Unfortunately, none of these are makeup. Skin/haircare products are definitely easier to get rid of than anything else... but I'm working on the makeup too! A few lip glosses are being worked overtime so that I can get off the lippie ban (you Lipstick Bandits are killing me with your glorious swatches!) -- but there is no way I'm going to hit pan on a shadow or finish an eyeliner this year. Still, I'm not losing hope. The purpose of the ban is to help me rediscover hidden gems. It's also helping me discover what needs to be tossed.

What have you emptied or tossed lately? How are your bans and emptying projects going?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Alternative to the amazing Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer: It's a Sunscreen!

If you've been reading this blog for a while, it's no surprise that I choose to rave about the Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer at every opportunity. For this oily-faced daily foundation wearer, Veil Mineral is a lifesaver. I usually have to blot my nose within an hour of makeup application. With this primer, I don't blot until noon. It's pricey but so, so worth it.

But I understand that it's not for everybody. We all have different skin types and concerns. However, this search criteria that led someone to my blog made me laugh out loud.

I'm sorry to whomever this was, but it actually is quite amazing.

However, I certainly understand and sympathize with those who cannot bring themselves to pay $70 for a primer. So it always makes me feel a little guilty to talk so much about a product that not everyone can enjoy. As a result, I have been on the lookout for a dupe. Frankly, I'd rather not pay $70 either. If there's a comparable alternative, I am all ears!

Interestingly, the closest dupe I've been able to find is a sunscreen. I've heard great things about Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Water-Light Sunscreen but it's usually about CDN$20 at the drugstores and you know that the el cheapo within emerges only at the drugstore for some reason. If you think it's ludicrous that I'd fork over $70 for a primer but not $20 for sunscreen, I agree with you.

After the Shiseido sunscreen broke me out, I went on a hunt for a replacement. After debating this and that, I thought I'd stick with the Aveeno which wasn't bad. But then I finally saw this Water-Light one on sale at Shoppers. It was on clearance for $5 and so I had to grab two. And yes, I made sure that they weren't expired.

It feels to me like a liquid version of Hourglass Veil Mineral and does a good job of keeping my face matte for a few hours. Now, it is not a perfect replacement for the Veil Mineral and isn't as smooth and soothing. But for a sunscreen, it indeed does wear extremely well under makeup and should double as a sunscreen + primer excellently for many people. As for the actual performance as a sunscreen, I won't be able to test it out until Xmas/New Years when I'll be basking under the UV rays in an exotic location far, far away!

Here are the ingredients:

And I believe this sunscreen recommendation answers the query that popped up in the stats last night:

I wish I had listened to the rave reviews about this sunscreen earlier and tried it out sooner. I really regret the extra money spent on the Shiseido and the consequence of that remains on my skin as a fresh scattering of acne scars. I've had zero issues with the Neutrogena Water-Light and highly recommend it to everyone, except for those with extremely dry skin who might find it tight and mattifying.

And for those who are still interested in testing the Veil Mineral primer, it's available at Sephora in two sizes (travel size for around $20 and the full size). Don't just listen to me but try a sample first. That's how I got hooked on it. As for whether I'd keep purchasing the Veil Mineral... I'm not sure. One way to have the best of both worlds is to rely on Water-Light on a daily basis and pull out the travel size of Veil Mineral for special occasions. But I may stick to Veil Mineral simply because it is that amazing for my skin.

Have you tried Water-Light or Veil Mineral? Which would you pick?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Frederic Fekkai Brilliant Glossing Shampoo & Glossing Conditioner

You didn't misread the title: it really says BRILLIANT GLOSSING shampoo and just GLOSSING conditioner. I was wondering why upscale Fekkai conditioners showed up at low-class Winners and the answer is that Fekkai repackaged, renamed the glossing line and perhaps reformulated. It's not enough just to say glossing. It has to be BRILLIANT glossing. Well, at CDN$30 per bottle, it had better be.

I got two of the shampoos for free during a shampoo exchange at Holt Renfrew. I guess Fekkai was promoting the new stuff and apparently the old shampoos we brought in for the exchange went to charity. I would never even consider purchasing these at regular price. But because I had the shampoos, it seemed only fair that I get the matching conditioner to really test out the full benefit of the line. Fortunately the older stock (the non-brilliant glossing types) showed up at Winners and I snagged a conditioner for about half the regular price. Even then I was dilly-dallying over it. I'm normally a $3 shampoo/conditioner girl despite some expensive taste in makeup and skincare. Hair care just doesn't excite me.

Brilliant Glossing Shampoo



First Impression: The bottle is TINY compared to the giant vats I usually buy. Still, now that both of my sisters no longer live with me, I can have this all to myself and not worry about running out any time soon.

Upon Usage: The shampoo looks like a gel and has the squishy feel of one. It takes a long time to lather compared to most other shampoos. I took it as a good thing. It's a part of the brilliant glossing action. It'll help with the dry scalp situation too.

Final Thoughts: I don't see any brilliant glossing results but it seems to be a much gentler shampoo than the ones I'm used to and I don't dislike it. The texture and longer-than-usual lathering still feels weird, but I can live with it.

(Re)purchase? No freaking way. The result isn't obvious enough to warrant the outrageous price. I don't know if this has better effect on people with straighter hair but my hair definitely is not visibly glossier.

Glossing Conditioner



First Impression: Again, tiny bottle. But I don't mind the conditioner being small, simply because I use shampoo more than conditioners. There are days when I skip conditioning and put my hair up into a bun. Bad, I know. But it's a time-honoured tradition for lazy gals who can't be bothered to mess with unruly hair!!

Upon Usage: I really had some high expectation for this because the glossing effect is usually much more evident with the conditioners than with shampoos. It didn't feel any more moisturizing or sleek than a regular drugstore conditioner. Still, I thought perhaps it was one of those things that would show more visible results over time.

Final Thoughts: I remain disappointed. It is lightweight as indicated on the bottle but definitely not extra "glossing." I'm pretty sure I saw better results with Redken All Soft which is slightly cheaper and not as pretentiously marketed.

Repurchase? Never. Not for CDN$27.50. Not even for $10.

Feel free to let me know if you've experienced different results with the Glossing/Brilliant Glossing line. Based on my experience, I wouldn't recommend this to anyone simply because of the outrageous price tag. They're not bad products but not so good that you should be paying more than $60 for the duo. The shampoo is on its way to the empties bag after a few more washes. I am so so so so soooooo glad that I didn't pay for it.

Do you shell out for expensive shampoos and conditioners? What has been worth the cost? For a miracle-worker, I might consider shelling out!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Inventory #5.1: Mascaras

Hallelujah! I have only THREE mascaras! And only one is being used while the other two remain sealed!!!

Look at the drastic improvement since last year!

Last year I had 13 mascaras + 2 lash primers -- ALL going at the same time. And out of the 13, I only did about three of them any justice and gave a good attempt with the primers. The rest were totally wasted and had to be tossed due to old age rather than usage.

Clinique Lash Power

This is my go-to every day ordinary mascara. It has a teeny tiny brush that is perfect for my teeny tiny eyes and lashes. The formula is on the wet side but does dry to a completely smudge/flake-proof result that lasts all day long. And best of all, somehow it comes off super easily with warm water. I think this is my third time buying it.

Too Faced Lash Injection Pinpoint

I got this last year and never opened it. I'm not sure why I bought it or what I was expecting. Anyone have any stories about this one?

L'Oreal Double Extend Beauty Tubes

This is another go-to mascara for me. Also third time purchase. I'm determined to keep this sealed and not use it until I finish the Clinique Lash Power. In terms of volume/length, L'Oreal Beauty Tubes definitely gives more oomph to the lashes than Clinique Lash Power. But it's not buildable and I feel like you have to work faster with this before it dries on the lashes. Still, it also lasts all day, does not budge, smear, smudge... and again, comes off with warm water.

As for the primer on the other end of this tube -- I'm going to ignore it. Lash primers do nothing except to cover the lashes in white and makes the job of applying mascara even more difficult. I just don't see enough of a difference to go through this extra step. Here's a thought, makeup companies: how about coming out with dark coloured lash primers, huh? 


So, that's it for me. I'll stick to the Clinique and L'Oreal for the most part and play around with a new mascara every once in a while. But going forward, I will not keep more than 2 or 3 in my possession.

Oh, and I always buy all my mascaras in the blackest black possible. And usually waterproof. I know it opens up the eyes or whatever, but applying mascara is one of the biggest chores ever. I'll happily do without any if I must.

How many mascaras do you have? Is it a must-have for you each day?

Monday, November 21, 2011

"But we wantssssssssss iiiiiiiiiiiiiiit": those goddamn EOS Lip Balms

I've committed a serious beauty sin. You know when you buy something, thinking that it'll make a cute gift? And then you start to want it for yourself? Yeah, that. Before you get out the tar and feathers, first hear me out!

I was looking for these EOS lip balms for the longest time. For over a year they remained completely elusive to me -- and believe you me, I am a master shopper. I heard they were at Shoppers Drug Mart but none of the half a dozen locations I visited ever had them in stock. Then finally RW&Company of all places started carrying them, but they were sold out as well. I never saw the balms in person and kept hearing of how cute they were and blahblahblaaaaaaaaaaah babycakes.

So I decided to forget about them. They were just lip balm after all.

THEN I finally saw them in Zellers. Hanging off a forgotten shelf corner near the vitamins were a few packages of the 3-pack. I might have actually made a noise like "Harrrrrrrrrrrumph!" when I saw them. I was determined to shun them.

Then the devil on my left shoulder started to whisper how great they would be as a small add-on in gift bags and such. I do know a middle schooler who might appreciate such a thing. So I bought one pack and came home. And opened it. And fell in love.


Like easter eggs or the cutest manna from the sky. HOW CAN ANYONE RESIST SUCH ADORABLENESS???

Notice how the box says to share the love? Yeah, I'm sharing. Two of the spheres are untouched and will be gifted. But I could not resist opening one up to test for myself.

Naturally, I chose the purple one.

Even the inside is adorable. Just look at it and try to resist.

Honestly, at first, I just looked and tried not to touch it. But it beckoned.

And so I caved. This is how you become a beauty criminal. 

My 99 other lip balms are not enough. I have to possess everything. That is the crazy urge that I try to fight on a daily basis. Yes, I can buy anything. But should I? Not really. I just stole a middle schooler's Christmas present before I could even give it to her. See what happens when you're an insane product junkie?!?

My curiosity regarding the EOS balms are satisfied. But my happiness is tainted. What should I do to atone for this grievious error? I feel like Boromir after he tried to take the ring from Frodo. Death by a thousand orc arrows is literally overkill, but I need to make up for this somehow. Suggestions?