Thursday, August 30, 2012

August Pickups and Deliveries

I need a new working title for "haul" posts. Not sure that "pickups" is working out after all. I've decided to include in the lot any beauty-related gifts received from friends as well as product samples from PR for you product-loving peeping toms.

Went off on a bit of a bender this month, probably because I had to socialize more due to entertaining out-of-town visitors and celebrating birthdays and whatnot. Since March, I've basically been more or less a hermit. Going out to nice restaurants are restricted to once or twice a month in general (including special occasions). And I don't know what it is about going out, but as soon as I step foot outside the house, money automatically goes flying out the wallet. The Canadian Mint may as well issue currency with aerodynamic wings.

Anyway, here's the damage this month:

Garnier Moisture Rescue Refreshing Gel-Cream ($6.99 on sale at Shoppers) - A repeat purchase. Gasp! And a moisturizer, too, which I ignored all summer. My current cleanser was drying out my skin when I skipped toner, and it feels like autumn already in mornings and evenings, so I figured get it now and save the hassle later. I wish I hadn't been so overeager though. Forgot about the mountains of samples to claw through -- but then again, this will be nice to have on hand if the samples end up irritating me. #justified

Rexall Baby Wipes Premium containing 80 wipes (on sale for $3.99 at Rexall) - I prefer the Life Brand over Rexall Brand, and the Life Brand packs go on sale for $2.99 frequently. This wasn't too bad though. I've finished the whole package already. (For new readers: I use baby wipes to wipe off makeup and wipe down stinky summer feet and insides of shoes.) I'm going to stop buying these though in October when we can wear socks again.

Bio-Oil 125ml bottle ($15.99 at Winners) - Regular price for this is about $30 at Shoppers so I won with this find. I ended up giving the Pure Vitamin E Oil from last month's pickup to my mom and have been using this to treat the post-surgery scar on my leg. It works wonderfully. Maybe it doesn't belong in a haul post, but health and beauty go hand in hand. I plan on writing a thorough post about the discovery and removal of the viral wart that I was afraid was skin cancer.

Weleda Pomegranate Firming Eye Cream ($8.99 at Winners) - I've been talking about not using eye creams despite being well into my 30s now. But the more I talked about it, the more I talked myself into thinking it was time to give it another try. I shouldn't have, because eye creams are always too rich and end up breaking me out. This was no different and I sprouted a huge sucker on the high point of my left brow, which was really lovely for two weeks. #fail Am feeling lucky that I stuck to a cheap purchase. I don't think it's possible to buy eye creams for $8 at even drugstores now.

Guilty splurge of the month: Limited Edition Dior Vernis in Orchid and Poison ($24 each at The Bay) - I felt like slapping myself when I committed the deed and even for days after. But I kept looking and looking and looking at them and got tired of my own indecisiveness. I am a Dior nail polish collector, though I don't buy every single shade. And I've been wanting these since I first saw them on one of my favourite nail blogs, Fashion Polish. As you can see, I've left out Shadow which I didn't like the look of. I gave up so many daily joys of living in the past five months that I felt the splurge was justified and well-deserved. I don't know. I'm still torn up about it. I wore Orchid happily for a week and have yet to swatch Poison because I thought of returning it. 

On a remarkably self-restrained visit to Sephora earlier in the month, I ended up leaving with only two items:

Shiseido Facial Cotton ($5 at Sephora) - I was really pleased to see a half-size pack of my favourite facial cottons. I know that in the end $9 for a jumbo pack is worth its weight in loonies, but I'm not enamoured of spending so much on cottons. I'm going to keep using the cheap $2 stuff from Rexall but treat myself to small sizes of the Shiseido now and then.

Dior Hydra Life BB Creme (free launch sample at Sephora) - I got an email telling me this was available and headed over to score my free sample. I don't always do that but wanted to that time. Keep reading below...

I was quite bemused when the Sephora SA slapped the sample into my hand. As you can see, it's incredibly tiny.

It's about 1/2 to 2/3 the size of regular sample tubes. I know, it's a free sample. Is there room for complaints? But I feel like if you're going to send out emails about it and get people to come trampling over, try to make it a little more worth their while, no? Anyway, moving on.

I think I wouldn't feel as badly over the Dior polishes if I had limited myself to just them. But I had to hop on the nail polish train two more times as the month wore on. Work was incredibly stressful, more so than any other month due to some internal departmental conflicts, so I ran away to the nearby mall quite frequently during lunch. The perils of working in downtown. See, money flying out of wallets.

SpaRitual Can You Dig It? (left) and Hypnotic (right) ($12.50 each at Sephora) - I have two other SpaRitual polishes, both of which are lovely, and I was really excited to see Sephora added them to their nail bar. SpaRitual is a brand that doesn't get nearly enough as much attention as they deserve. I could go for a handful of some more SR shades even now. These two screamed fall colours at me and so I caved.

OPI Every Month is Oktoberfest ($10.95) - I caved again when I saw the new OPI Germany collection at a local hair salon. I read some reviews and decided the shades, while very pretty, were not unique or remarkable. However, in person they are absolutely stunning. I was blown away and that hardly ever happens. Because of the Dior splurge, I picked up just one though I wanted to snatch up all the vamps and blues and purples from the collection. For fabulous swatches, see Eugenia's posts at Ommorphia Beauty Bar here and here.

OPI Top Coat (free with above purchase) - I might have been stronger against the Germany collection had not a free top coat been offered with it. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

Now the non-purchased goodies!

SilkyGirl Magic BB Powder Foundation in 03 Medium x 5 - I had my friend J from Singapore lug them over for me on her visit in late July. Two are for me, two are for my sister (if she likes it) and one is for my MAC Fairy who has been so kind. I repaid J with the items briefly reviewed here.

Care package from the fabulous Amy of Beyond Just Beauty! I've been enjoying getting to know Amy for the past little while and suggest you check out her blog if you love clever verbose linguists with penchant for rambles on daily perfume wears, cute boys, good food and all things beauty. I was especially happy to see Revlon Whimsical which I was on the fence about for a long time. But I was most eagerly waiting for her sample vial of Dior Eau Savage, which wears marvelously on Amy but not so on me. She also included more nail polish, gorgeous jewellery (sadly my ears aren't pierced -- well, they were twice but healed and closed over super quickly both times) and some bagged flavoured nuts which I devoured before pictures could be taken.

And lastly, some PR samples of the UK skincare brand Simple which can be found in drugstores across Canada now. I was happy to receive these as they had me intrigued for a while and the products sounded just right for my finicky skin. However, I take forever to publish the more clinical reviews since I like to test the products for as long as possible and be as thorough as possible. Also, I didn't want the testing to overlap with the bad skin phase and wanted to get my face under control first. I'm going to test these all throughout the month of September and hope for the best! Later in September I'm also going to test and post about some Almay products that have been sadly neglected due to intense summer heat and bad skin days.

I spent $124.91 on arguably non-essentials. My goal was to cap at $50 max, but it's so difficult when there are as many bad days as there have been this month. I am addicted to the thrill of purchase that psychologists like to talk about, to temporarily boost morale, and I'm fully aware that having a less than fulfilling day job is a huge part of that. (Changes are afoot on that front but nothing solid yet.) On the other hand, I live for this shit. I can read, breathe, talk beauty products all day long every day. It's really really difficult to draw the line sometimes. And many times when I make a purchase, it's with a sense of hope for better days to come. That the tiny boost of positive feeling at that moment will translate into something more meaningful before the day is over, that I won't always be slaving at and hating my jobs, and that some day I can enjoy all that life has to offer without feeling guilty or having to justify each and every little thing.

The argument I have to keep reminding myself of daily is that while we are all deserving of nice things, it's not always the right moment to indulge in them. I'm sure many of us are worth more than tens of thousands of Tom Fords, Burberrys and Chanels. Denying them doesn't mean we're undeserving. And one doesn't always have to justify why they deserve big splurges. Everyone likes nice things and sometimes we just really need them. But it doesn't have to be now NOW NOW all the time and it won't kill me to hold on a bit longer for those better days. The whole thing is still so baffling to me. I can give up daily Starbucks trips but not nail polish???

Anyway, I just talked myself into returning the SpaRitual polishes which are untouched, as well as Dior Poison. The SRs are permanent and Dior has a permanent shade called Purple Revolution which I can pick up in the future at a cushier moment. This takes my monthly total down to $75.91 which is easier to live with.

No worries, friends. If you're of the party that thinks I'm being too hard on myself, wait until next month. I'm waiting for a few worthwhile goodies from NYC. :-)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Welcoming sister back home

As you may or may not know, one of my sisters was volunteering overseas for a while (you can read more about that here under the "vacation" tag) and she arrived back home safe and soundly on Friday. I took the day off to greet her at the airport and we spent all weekend together just catching up and getting the giant immigration luggage unpacked. And as you should all know by now, I welcome the occasion to shower people with products and cleared one whole shelf of the medicine cabinet for her in the bathroom. It's a two-tiered shelf divided into four units and I had been hogging the entire thing. My brother only has a shaving gel, shaver, hair gel and body lotion (his shampoo and face/body cleanser are kept in the shower) and keeps them out in the open on the bathroom counter. His succinct response when I offered him a corner once upon a time: "That's okay." followed by an ultra judgey look at the crowded cabinet units.

Anyway, in my sister's new unit are products that I know she would like and products that I don't need that she might like.

What you guys don't know is that while I style myself as the "reductionista", she's the most hardcore and truest of all reductionistas ever in the history of human beings. When we last corresponded before she boarded her flight, I told her to not bother with packing half-empty containers and to just come home with the clothes on her back. She said yes... and returned with pretty much everything she had been using. Half empty bottles of sunscreen, lotions... everything. And when she saw that I was about to toss an old lotion into the empties bag, she said it was still full and proceeded to wrestle every last drop of lotion out of it. When I mentioned that some people even cut up the tubes to use up every tiny bit, she looked at me as if I were the crazy one for not doing it. God, I love her so much.

Anyway, here's a glimpse at my shelf. These are the products I either use daily or am attempting to finish and get rid of.

And above it are some more stuff. And below is a giant cabinet full of even more things. And in my room is another cabinet full of things... along with boxes of samples that I should have reviewed months ago. @__@ <--- my overwhelmed face


Me:  Yes.


Me:  I like it that way.

Sister:  FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Seriously. If this blog isn't a record of first world problems, I don't know what is. I continue to simultaneously hoard and horrify. I stocked up on some communal products, foreseeing that my sister and I will be sharing and going through things more quickly, and really wish she would just leave the purchasing of products to me. But the result is now we have multiple sets of everything and it's driving the both of us crazy.

The good thing is we both like to see products to the very end. And I'm happy to have my hard-working sister back. The house feels 300% more crowded, but it's nice, and we won't get into fights and arguments for a few weeks at least. Now if we could both just get jobs and/or better jobs, life would be just about perfect.

Story time! How easy or difficult would it be for you to make room in your bathroom for a new occupant? I'm anticipating some hilarious answers from you crazy beauty lovers.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The amazing treatment for acne: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo

[Edit 1: The original title of this review was "The amazing cure for acne" but I changed it after realizing that "cure" is a misuse of the word.]

In case you haven't heard: I have oily and acne-prone skin. I've only said it about a gazillion times. ;-)

The breakouts never seem to end, and they get especially worse in the summer when heat and sweat enter the scene. Previously, best results were achieved with Aveda's Outer Peace regimen, Murad's anti-acne line, daily use of Clarisonic Mia (with Normal brush), REN Resurfacing AHA Concentrate and pure tea tree oil. When I ran out of the Murad treatment that worked fairly well, my wandering heart wanted to try something different. One of the products recommended by many readers and fellow bloggers is La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo.

La Roche-Posay is a popular French pharmacy line that has been carried by both Shoppers Drug Mart and Rexall in Canada for many years. It sits in the more expensive skincare aisle which I happily ignored in the past for some reason, even as I struggled with acne for years. I think a part of the reluctance was confusion over which product to use and avoidance of the somewhat aggressive sales staff/skincare specialists who tend to jump on anyone poking around that area of the drugstore. (The Vichy staff are especially vigilant.)

LRP Effaclar Duo is sold individually for around CAD$26 but I found a set with the full size along with a sample of the sunscreen and matching cleanser for less than that. Apparently these sets are carried seasonally and the staff at both Shoppers and Rexall are never sure when they'll have the sets in stock or not. The point is: grab 'em when you see 'em. I usually don't purchase back-ups, but in this case I had to.

Here's a look at the contents:

Travel size of Effaclar Gel - I haven't tried this cleanser yet but am told that it is excellent. Since I don't have any issues with the other cleansers in my routine right now, this can wait until my skin decides to go nuts and I'm forced to use it and hope for the best.

Full size of Effaclar Duo - I'm not one to concern myself with visible pores but I liked the sound of "fights severe imperfections." Yep, I have a lot of severe imperfections!

Sample of Anthelios Ultra Fluid Lotion - And I've also heard great things about the Anthelios Ultra Fluid, which is supposed to provide excellent physical sun protection without clogging pores.

Great deal all around, huh?

Effaclar Duo Ingredients:

Do you see what I see? 0.5% salicylic acid. Usually the treatments I go for in the past are 2-5%. It's difficult to break away from the mentality that more isn't necessarily better, but it can't be helped when comparing one product against another. And at the very end, there's even the dreaded word parfum.

But let me tell you: this thing works. Whatever scent there is is very very subtle and I can't even detect it. It's a white cream-gel that applies clear to the face and is instantly absorbed without any weightiness or greasiness. During summers I tend to forgo moisturizers completely (which I know we're not supposed to do but I honestly think less products on my face the better), so my routine has been:

Morning: Cleanser, toner, Effaclar Duo, primer, foundation, etc.
Night: Cleanser + Clarisonic, toner, Effaclar Duo

During the months of May-early July, my face glowed. I'd wake up with almost clear skin. Breakouts would dry overnight and I could even feel its effect underneath the makeup when I'd wipe it off at the end of the day and see that a blemish had shrunken instead of grown.

On top of that, it doesn't sting or irritate in the slightest. It may feel different for dryer skin types, but I felt nothing and simply felt clean. It's been four months of almost twice daily usage and this 40ml tube is still going. (It may show up in next month's empties post though.) I slather it all over my face, starting with a dab of pea-sized amount on each cheek where the large spots tend to accumulate, then the forehead (even though it's clear), the nose (where blackheads took up permanent residence) and the chin and even along the jawline. Luckily I don't break out further south, but I'd extend the application all the way down and around if you suffer from neck-ne/chest-ne/back-ne.

And you just let it do its thing. It doesn't get crusty or become a filmy mess because the skin seems to absorb it, unlike some other topical treatments that just sit on top of the skin.

Now, I say it only worked until early July because that's when I got stressed and started picking at the face and generally let things go crazy. My skin was at its best when I followed the routine stated above twice daily, kept my grimy hands off my face, tried to sleep at a reasonable hour, take vitamins and eat properly. I was also diligent about taking makeup off as soon as I got home instead of letting it stew on the skin for another couple of hours. I slacked off in July, and now I'm paying for it with breakouts again. Recently I also started testing some new products which was clearly a mistake. (Right now I'm sporting a brand new zit above my left eye (!!!))

So the plan is a swift return to the simple routine: cleanser, Clarisonic, toner & Effaclar Duo. I hope that the balance will be restored once more and my skin will forgive me yet again for mistreating it. I have a brand new tube of the Effaclar Duo in waiting in case the current tube dies a sudden death, and I highly highly recommend this product to those out there struggling with oily and acne-prone skin. I can't believe that it took me this long to discover it.

If you struggle with acne, TRY IT. It won't work against hormonal monthly pop-ups or intense cystic acne, but for the every day breakouts that plague skin due to bad reactions or too much makeup wearing - this is your answer. Short of the formula changing or the price skyrocketing, I'm a fan for life.

[Edit 2: July 2015 -- I'm still a fan of Effaclar Duo, which has now been reformulated to Effaclar Duo [+], a more gentler version. Check out my new review here.]

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Everyday Face

It's been a busy week. And you know what's good for a busy week? Basic, good quality products that you can rely on without a second thought. The below make up the basics of my daily face, after cleansing and treating with anti-acne regimen.

I was big on grooming eyebrows for most of my 20s, but the desire to keep up that routine tapered off by the time I turned 30. I'd pluck and wax, but I really hated doing that and stopped shaping and filling in the brows. In fact, I hated touching my brows so much that I got monthly waxes at salons near work during lunch hours. It's funny that I used to shape brows for other people in the past. You couldn't pay me to do that again.

Anyway, my one and only brow product is MAKE UP FOR EVER Eyebrow Pencil in No. 4. My natural hair colour is black or very very dark brown -- but we all know that using black on black tends to result in looking like an Angry Bird instead of a well-groomed woman. No. 4 is described as "Dark Taupe", and light strokes reveal it as a soft brown shade that can be built up to dark brown that isn't harsh or unnatural. I have fairly well-filled brows with hairs that are thick and not unruly. It takes just a little bit of work to elongate the tails and lightly fill in a patch here and there. And since I'm not an Olympic swimmer nor do anything strenuous really (and always carry an umbrella when there's the slightest chance of rain), I don't care that the pencil isn't waterproof as it lasts all day regardless. I really have no complaints about it and will readily repurchase. All I seek in a brow pencil is the right shade, some durability and the just right mix of hard and soft. Overly tough scratchy pencils are terrible things.

If my brows aren't too much trouble, by contrast, my lashes are on the extreme wimpy side. They are stick straight, short, dainty little things that will not hold a curl despite the mop of very curly non-Asian hair on the top of my head. (Honestly, there is no consistency at all in human biology.) Very few mascaras stand the test of keeping the curl and adding some badly needed oomph without smudging or looking too fake. L'Oreal Double Extend Beauty Tubes isn't my most favourite, but it is a good affordable product that won't rub or flake off until I decide to remove with just some warm water at the sink. I never bother curling my lashes anymore so I can't attest to the curl-holding ability of this mascara, but the "tubing" formula keeps my eyes smudge-free for up to 48 hours -- because, yes, I kept it on that long once or twice or thrice. I never use the primer side because it takes forever to cover the white base with the mascara part and the primer doesn't add all that much fattiness anyway, but I like the mascara part enough to purchase the whole thing, especially when it's on sale for about $8-10. One mascara lasts me about 4-6 months, and this particular one will go the entire 6 months because I've barely touched it this summer. My actual HG mascara is Clinique Lash Power, which I will purchase again when this L'Oreal dies. But I've been switching back forth between the two for the past few years and will probably continue to do so.

I believe this is my third bottle of Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer and I still love it very much. My last comprehensive rave about it can be found here. I'm halfway through the bottle after receiving it as a gift in late March and using it almost every day, so I guess there's another 4-5 months left in the bottle. The price makes my wallet cringe but I've never regretted shelling out for a product that's so good for my face. Hopefully I'll be in a better place five months from now on and repurchasing will not be preluded by the usual intense internal struggle!

Bronzers I could do or without. I like having them but I don't always use them. The wonderful and fabulous Denise got me MAC Nude On Board Pro Longwear Bronzing Powder and it's been a while since I've been so devoted to a bronzer. All my other bronzers have always been much darker, and while I was tempted by the lure of a pale bronzer, I didn't feel like I could justify adding another to the burgeoning stash. But Nude On Board is a game changer. It's the most low maintenance bronzer to skin tones hovering around the NC25 zone, because it's almost impossible to overapply and yet applying seems to subtly warm the skin, shift contours and add dimensions. I wore it every day for about three weeks and that has never happened with a bronzer before. I hope to hit pan on it some day!

SilkyGirl Magic BB Powder Foundation in 03 Medium has become my summertime HG. The plan is to put this away and work through the liquid foundation stash during fall and winter, but until it's too cold to stop wearing shorts, I'll be relying on this to keep me looking presentable during the work week. (In an effort to keep back the annual tide of summer acne, I've been trying not to wear makeup during weekends when not going out to socialize.) The full review can be found here, and I have this new pan as well as a backup in case I can't give it up for winter and continue to use it all year long.

And here you have what's basically my daily face. Lipsticks and blushes are rotated almost daily and I rarely bother with liners and shadows. (When I do wear shadows, they tend to be barely there!) But in anticipation of fall's more dramatic makeup style and mood, I'm sort of on a hunt for the most fabulously low maintenance black liner pencil and a dramatic lip colour in the dark red/wine/plum/purple family. Or I could be disgustingly boring and good and just work with what I already own. I think it's time for some more inventory posts.

What does your everyday face look like? Any great discoveries this year? And... ERMAHGERD!!! I just realized somehow concealer got completely cut out of the daily routine. This is great news! I hate concealers!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

2012 Empties Part 7

BEHOLD the new empties bag. Surely it doesn't disappoint?

It's sizable and sturdy and more water-resistant than The Body Shop paper bags. The ultimate empties bag would actually be a medium-sized Sephora bag, but weirdly I didn't have any kicking around. This bag is from when I purchased a lot of Christmas gifts from Chanel and I remember feeling kind of giddy carrying it home. I have no desire to reuse this in public, however, so it works well as the new empties bag!

I have a lot of stuff here and will try to be brief. (But I probably won't. Please grab your beverage of choice and have a seat.)

Aveda Energizing Body Cleanser - Received it as a birthday present and wasn't crazy about the smell, so it sat in the bathroom cupboard for a long while. I'm so not into Aveda's natural hippie herbal scents and feel the same about this shower gel. It does have an energizing fragrance with peppermint and ginger, and it lathers well and does the job in cleansing I suppose... but there isn't anything special about it that makes me want to shell out $16-20. It's a good wake-up scent for those who like morning showers, but I prefer night showers anyway.


 Mineral Flowers Citrus Blossom Body & Massage Lotion - This product is ridiculously old and I should be ashamed of having kept it for this long. But I hate waste more than the product, so gave it a good try and managed to empty it (mostly). I bought it from Rexall/Pharma Plus for about $8-10 while looking for a no-nonsense body lotion. It's all right as far as lotions go, but I find all lotions to be rather watery and nowhere near moisturizing enough. I do like the light and refreshing scent of this product and tried to use it as hand cream for a while, but it's simply not moisturizing enough for me.


Garnier Fructis Anti-Dandruff Clean & Fresh 2 in 1 - I bought five of these for $0.99 and thought it might be good for my slightly dry scalp. I also prefer 2 in 1 shampoos in the summer because showers become more frequent and I don't like to spend more time in it than necessary on most days. It's probably not conditioning enough though it shampoos and lathers well. I didn't find the scent or result to be offensive and like it well enough, especially when I can score it for less than a dollar. (Original pricing is anywhere from $4-7 depending on where you're shopping. I got it on sale for $2.99 with a $2 off coupon.) I gave a few of these to my parents and have another one or two in the cupboard for me. I was just saying on Twitter the other day that it doesn't really matter what shampoo I use so long as it cleans the hair and doesn't strip my scalp of all moisture.

Bath & Body Works White Citrus Anti-Bacterial Moisturizing Hand Soap - F@ck these long-ass names. UGH. Anyway, I don't plan on purchasing any more B&BW hand soaps, but I do like the sharp, clean and floral scent of the White Citrus range. Even my brother commented on it and said that it was "nice" - high praise indeed coming from a gross 25 year-old boy who couldn't care less about this stuff. (I had the bottle lying down across the sink to finished using the last remaining dregs and came home one day to find that he had tossed it in the garbage. So thoughtless!!!) I like the creamy moisturizing hand soaps more than the liquid foaming soaps as it feels more substantial and seems to require less product per use. But hand soap is hand soap. I've gone back to using generic drug store stuff with refillable options for wallet and environmental friendliness.

Sephora Brand Daily Makeup Brush Cleanser (Travel Size) - I like to keep this on the dresser for a quick spritz on the makeup brushes for every day use. I deep clean the brushes once every few weeks and this spray cleaner is good for a quick swipe. It does seem to contain a lot of alcohol though, so it may be overly drying for the super soft expensive brushes. I don't have any luxe makeup brushes and don't care. The regular size bottle of this is in my cupboard waiting to be used.

The Body Shop Aloe Calming Toner - My holy grail toner. No fragrance, no alcohol, no parabens. Two more in stock!

Etude House Happy Bee Hand Cream - The scent was fresh and upbeat and the product thick and quickly absorbing. Yet I didn't love it. I love the packaging because it makes me happy and am keeping it to reuse for something else. Etude House has a whole range of these hand creams in different animal jars - it'd be fun to collect them all, just to complete the zoo.

Clarisonic Sensitive Face Brush - It's weirdly more abrasive than the Normal face brush and I don't like it. I've gone back to using the Normal and won't be using this one again.

LUSH Bubbleroons (x2) - The amazing Ashlex gave these to me wrapped up all nicely in tissue and wrapping sheets and I hoarded them for too long because the colours had faded by the time I unwrapped them. (*tear*) They bubble up nicely as you squeeze them under the running water and I was feeling decadent and used up both in one shot for that extra bubbly feeling. I have two more bubbleroons left and can't wait to use them.

LUSH Blue Gingerbread Man - I used it for an ice bath on a sweltering day and LOVED it. The blue part of the gingerbread man dissolves right away and makes the bath water a clear ocean blue. And you can see the small pink heart bobbing around in the water for quite a while which is utterly delightful. Lots of bubbles! Smells nice! Me likey!

Sheet Masks galore! - The Face Shop ones are from my friend in Singapore and the My Beauty Diary ones are from the lovely Makeup Morsels (who I now call Morzelz). I used up most of them while stressing over the last two weeks of my summer course and in the relaxing aftermath while trying to recover my sanity and brain waves. I honestly don't know what to say about them except that they feel nice and decadent and all of them smelled amazing. My favourite was the Lemon mask from The Face Shop simply because it suits my skin type (oily and acne-prone).

L'Occitane Angelica Exfoliating Gel (Sample) - This is the strangest exfoliator I have ever used. Here's the description from the L'Occitane website: "Small, all-natural exfoliating particles gently remove dead skin cells and impurities, while micro-balls made of natural gum massage the skin, boosting microcirculation." Those micro-balls are rubbery and bouncy and downright fascinating. I got two uses out of the sample packet and found that it did somehow revive the skin and leave it feeling clean and softer. I'm on the fence about purchasing the full product for myself, but if you have very delicate and sensitive skin that reacts negatively to harsh scrubs, this might be the perfect exfoliator for you. It's gentle and... and... bouncy! So, so weird.

Life Brand Ultra Soft Baby Wipes (Jumbo) - I'm using a nameless Rexall wipe right now and don't like it. These are the freaking best. The sheets are big and wet and wipes off makeup and stinky feet odour really well. The best all-purpose product and a must-have for summer.

Rexall Quilted Square Cotton Pads - 125 pads for about a dollar or two. Not bad. They're nowhere near as good as the Shiseido cottons of course, but they'll do. In this case, Rexall definitely wins over Life Brand. (The Life Brand pads are awful.)

Slatkin & Co. Beach Grass Candle - I really liked the scent of it but the tiny mini candle has to melt almost completely for me to smell it at all. As the name connotates, it smells like grass during a summer picnic, mixed with sunscreen, sand and surf. I'm debating whether to splurge for the giant size now on clearance for 50% off, wondering if it'll further slash to 75% off. But there weren't many of this left and I'm torn. I want to perfume my room with this while the fall breeze enters through the window at night, creating the most nostalgic end-of-summer atmosphere.

And finally, we have makeup!


SilkyGirl BB Powder Foundation - It took me 6 months to finish it, but I only used it daily in the past 3-4 months. J from Singapore brought me a bunch of them and I'm sharing them with a couple of people and keeping two for myself. I think this is going to be my holy grail summer foundation. It doesn't break out and has great coverage and is long-lasting. Winner! (Reviewed here)

NARS Lip Gloss in Dolce Vita - It may not look finished but it is. I can't get any more product on the doe foot wand and it feels gross to scrape the remaining products off the sides of the tubes because this lip gloss might be about 4 years old. I tried the trick with dipping the gloss in a cup of hot water to pool the remaining products at the bottom -- but it doesn't work, even with boiled hot water. I give up. As for the shade itself, it's a lovely dusty rose for those who favour everyday neutrals. The NARS glosses are notorious for their stickiness, however, though long-lasting. I'm not sure if I'll buy another NARS gloss. I feel torn about the brand. It's like a slightly sleeker MAC but with Dior level pricing. I do like their products but I don't want to pay Canadian prices for them (which is ridiculously inflated though our dollars have been on par for the past five years).

MAKE UP FOR EVER Duo Mat Powder Foundation - I used it as a setting powder and its two year anniversary just passed. It got no action at all this summer since I switched over to the bb powder foundation that didn't require setting. My new rule is to toss powder compacts after two years so long as it's been well-used. Most of my commenters also voted to give this the heave and I defer to their wisdom despite wanting to use up more of the product remaining around the outer rim... meep. So long, old powder!

Tossing but not finished:

DDF Brightening Cleanser - I have very oily skin but this cleanser strips it of all moisture and always leaves me with almost painful dry patches around the mouth. Way too strong and offensive for any skin type. DDF has since repackaged (and/or reformulated), but I will not be going near this again.

Stella Soft Body Milk - I'm over the Stella perfume and the body milk is too old to use.

Clinique Acne Solution Clearing Concealer in 02 - None of the shades match which defeats the point of covering up acne, and it also doesn't seem to do anything for acne flare ups. I'd much rather focus on skin care to take care of acne and purchase makeup that works well to cover rather than try to treat and cover while failing miserably.

C.O. Bigelow Rose Salve - The tin is rusted around the rim and I felt gross about the remaining product after talking about it in this post. I have so many other lip balms to work through... not feeling bad about this at all. It's about two years old and I did try really hard with this. Not loving it.


Today's Total
Jumbo: 1
Regular: 17
Travel/Sample: 2
Tossed: 4

2012 Total
Jumbo: 4
Regular: 63 (holy cow)
Travel/Sample: 20
Tossed: 9

I feel like a lot of people are doing "empties" now and it's nice to see greater attempts at being less wasteful. And sometimes these empties posts are the only way I'll actually review a product. I'm not very good at thorough clinical reviews and prefer to babble instead. Anyway! How are you doing with empties? Start with just finishing up a few samples and see where that leads. :-)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Quickie Nail Post: Dior New World Purple 886

Got it last year (or the year before that) and never got around to posting about it.

I thought at the time of purchase that it was a part of the permanent line up. Who the heck can keep track with those things? Certainly not me. All I know is that I don't see this around anymore and I'm sorry for any lemmings that are born as a result.

I'm very picky about shimmery polishes and this one leaves me feeling torn. On the one hand, interesting flecks of gold scattered across a mauve sea. On the other hand, slightly old ladyish? 

In short:

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Best Beauty Products of Past Year

I love my friend J for a lot of reasons, but one of the reasons relevant to this blog is our shared love of beauty products. She's not as manic as I am about it, but she's always interested in scoping out new things and discussing new trends, which many of my other girlfriends don't seem to have patience for. For the past few years we've been giving each other beauty products as gifts. And as thanks for her bringing back some treasures from Singapore for me, I gifted her with the following things in response to her question: "What was the latest and the best in beauty this past year?"

Hybrid Textures

Maybelline Dream Bouncy Blush

J likes elegant neutrals and lives in a tropical climate, so the shade Peach seemed like a good pick for her. Though I haven't tried these cute little blushes for myself, they make fun gifts and I'm fairly certain that I'll cave for these eventually. The shades I want for myself are Hot Tamale and Plum Wine.

L'Oreal Infallible Shadows

The so-called dupes for the Armani Eyes To Kill. I reviewed a shade called Black Star here and noted its longevity and startling opacity. For J I got the shade Sahara Treasure, reviewed by Makeup Morsels here. It's one of those "swipe and go" shades that I love and I also plan on adding this to my collection eventually.

Beautiful Bronzers

Physicians Formula Happy Booster Glow & Mood Boosting Powder Bronzer

Okay, they really need to do something about this name. TOO LONG. I think most of us refer to them as "Happy Boosters" whether it's the highlighter, bronzer or blush. J thought this was really cute and pretty, so I was happy that she was happy and all three of us including the bronzer was happy happy happy.

New Lip Products

Revlon Lip Butter

J said a few years ago that she wanted to try wearing classic red lips. Upon quizzing her over the holidays, I found out that she never did get herself a red Chanel lipstick as was the plan. I had picked up Revlon Lip Butter in Candy Apple as a red lip starter, to begin with a sheer application and work my way to a more opaque coverage. Since then I've recommended this shade to a lot of people with excellent feedback. J thought it was a great idea.

Burt's Bees Tinted Lip Balm

When we were shopping in Singapore together, I noticed that J kept picking this up and putting it down. Weirdly, Burt's Bees products are sold in Asia Sephoras like a higher brand, and the price is inflated accordingly. I have and like the shade Red Dahlia and got the same one for her.

EOS Smooth Sphere Lip Balm

Last year I pulled a Boromir and stole this from a child I was planning on gifting it to. The guilty feeling has long since dissipated and I like the balm well enough. I wouldn't buy it again but it's one of those things that make a fun gift for those who have never tried it. I got one for J in Summer Fruit.

Micellar Water

Bioderma Sensibio Micelle Solution for Sensitive Skin

Though I think these micellar waters are not a big deal, others swear by them. And this cute little travel jug is freaking adorable. I figured J could use it on the return flight and see if she likes them. She had heard of the micellar water craze as well as the brand, so the curiosity is now properly satiated.

Face/Hair/Body Oils

The Body Shop Beautifying Oil

When it comes to hair, J and I happen to be the same weird breed of Asians with curly hair. We agreed that serums and oils work well for our hair type and so I knew she was friendly to oils in general. I got her the non-offensive scent in Shea and explained the oil craze infiltrating everything from skin care to bath & body. The Body Shop Beautifying Oil can be used on both hair and body and she was eager to give it a test.

Honourable Mentions

Obviously there were many other beauty news that had the community buzzing, such as: UD Naked 2, the comeback and rise of Estee Lauder (notably, the stunning Estee Lauder x Mad Men collection and their gelee shadows and highlighters), endless stream of BB creams by all the major brands both high and low, entrance of Burberry makeup, Guerlain x Pucci, and etc.

What were some of your favourite beauty launches and trends from the past year or two?