Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Looking Forward To Spring - Nail Polish Filler Post

Guuuuys, I'm dying. So much to do this week. March is going to kill me, but I will do my best to kill it.

Here's a flash post to brighten up the week. I'm really looking forward to spring, and certain seasonal colours have made their way into my consciousness as I scour the earth for the perfect blue/green polish and orange/coral lips. I'm still in a nail polish rut and haven't worn polish in months, but I did temptingly swatch two nail shades at Sephora: Illamasqua Nomad and Nails Inc. Haymarket. In the end I didn't purchase either of them as I felt there were enough similar shades sitting neglected at home. But I seized the opportunity to conduct a comparison with other pale greens, and I think my favourite of the lot is Nomad.

No base or top coats, two coats of each shade, and no staining upon removal.

What kind of colours are you looking at these days?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

By Terry Lumière Veloutee Ultra-Correcting Liquid Foundation

I promised to review the never-ending stash of products in my possession. One strip of the Stila eye shadows was covered in the last empties post (click here to read), and today I give you By Terry Lumière Veloutee Ultra-Correcting Liquid Foundation.

I picked this up at Winners two years ago, after By Terry was phased out of Sephora. It was one of my greatest scores ever: a $110 foundation for $24.99. I love winning at Winners!

There weren't any testers, so I took a gamble and chose Shade 6 Sunny Beige, which turned out to be a pretty good match. It's perfect for late spring/summer/fall. Currently it's slightly too dark for my paler winter visage, but not to the point that I can't get away with it if I really needed to use it.

But like I said, this is a two-year old foundation. I have used it recently to see if it's still usable, but I've been using powder foundations for the past year and don't like the feel of liquid foundation on my face anymore. I do think that the consistency of the foundation has changed slightly since I first acquired it. The rich rose scent that is the trademark of all By Terry products has also faded.

The shade, however, remains the same, so at least I can conduct a swatch test.

Mostly blended.

According to By Terry:

This radiance-revealing foundation with a matte finish, which camouflages wrinkles and fades dark spots, sculpts the face with ingenious corrective coverage.

Its double anti-dullness and anti-blemish power offers a luminous, visibly rested, perfectly even and corrected complexion.

Direction to use:

With fingertips or with the help of FOUNDATION BRUSH PRECIOSION N°6, apply a few touches on curved areas of the face and stretch the texture onto the entire face.

The texture of the foundation is rather interesting. I even have the By Terry foundation brush and have used the two together, but it is much more effective to use fingertips instead. With the traditional flat paddle brush, visible brush strokes remained on the edges of the face unless blended carefully. The medium coverage is buildable to an almost full coverage, and the finish is on the matte side without looking dull or flat. While it does not remain matte for long on my oily T-zone, it holds up quite well throughout the day between powdering and blotting. During its earlier life stage, the finish was more luminous and satiny, the scent rosy and heady, adding to the feel of luxurious self-pampering that can be so important during the start of another mundane day.

It's a shame that I didn't end up using this foundation while it was still good. The thing is, I gave this bottle to my mom when she said she needed a foundation, but she didn't use it at all and I took it back too late. At the time I was struggling to finish a handful of other products and felt generous. LESSON LEARNED.

By Terry is no longer available in any physical stores in Canada as far as I can tell, but I was happy to see its counters at department stores in Singapore last year. I'm all for affordable makeup on a regular basis, but it's nice to have luxury treats available as well, just in case you win the lottery some day. And if you really feel inclined to shell out over $100 for a foundation right now, it's available online at BY TERRY.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Blogging Notes - No More Anonymous Commenting

Hope everyone's having a great weekend! I'm swamped for the next few weeks with a variety of personal, professional and academic projects, but I hope to post at least once or twice a week at minimum.

After much debate, I've decided to disable anonymous commenting and enable comment moderation for posts that are more than 30 days old. Spam comments are on the rise again and Blogger seems to have completely lost the ability to filter them. I've been advised to switch over to DISQUS, but it's not something I have the time or attention span to deal with right now. We shall see.

This shouldn't affect most people, but if you have been using anonymous comments in the past, sorry for the inconvenience! I hope it doesn't deter you from engaging in future discussions.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

NEW Lip Glosses from The Body Shop!

My sister and I are going through a bit of a Body Shop renaissance right now. Ever since I rediscovered their olde timey perfume oils last year, to my surprise, my perfume-hating sister has been dabbing on Dewberry and Fuzzy Peach almost every day. There's something comforting about those old scents. So when I heard that The Body Shop was launching a new line of EDTs, I excitedly asked to try the bottles in Shea and Moringa. I'm still in the middle of testing out the new scents, but as a prelude to that, I want to show you the new line of their lip glosses!

From the press room:

Say hello to luscious lips with The Body Shop Lip Glosses! We’ve got 11 super-glossy, mouth-watering shades to choose from, each with a succulent fruity flavour to lift your mood. Your lips are left moisturized smooth and kissably soft thanks to our new formula enriched with vitamins E and B5 and Community Fair Trade organic virgin coconut oil. Perfect for a dewy spring look! The Body Shop Lip Gloss collection ($10 each) is available in-store and online now.

These arrived on a dreary snow-covered day and instantly cheered me up. While I go through phases of wanting to move on from a well-loved brand from the past, something about The Body Shop always has me returning to it with a lot of nostalgia. I think it has to do with the fact that the brand is constantly evolving and coming out with new releases like these, keeping in rhythm with my own changes throughout the years.

It must be stated that while the juicy and vibrant shades look rather punchy, they are all incredibly sheer and become indiscernible on pigmented lips. I suggest choosing based on the scent and ingredients rather than the shade. As is usual with The Body Shop's offerings, the scents are strong, sweet and fruity. The scents of the lip glosses correlate to the existing line of body care (i.e. Mango Lip Gloss smells just like Mango Body Butter and Shower Gel.), which is always convenient in my opinion. I hate picking up matching products only to realize later that they smell differently.

L to R: Strawberry, Raspberry, Watermelon

L to R: Pink Grapefruit, Lychee, Plum

L to R: Cocoa, Mint, Coconut

L to R: Mango, Peach

As you can see from these swatches, the consistency for each gloss differs slightly, with Mint being the most fluid. My experience with these glosses is that they work well to keep the lips moisturized while imparting shine and uplifting scent. As a heavy coffee/tea drinker, no lip product stays on my lips for longer than a few hours at most. But it's easy to tote around one or five of these glosses and reapply without trouble as occasion warrants.

Regarding ingredients, I would suggest looking up the flavour you're most interested in on The Body Shop's website to determine what the specifics are. Below is the ingredient list for Lychee only. (Ingredients vary by product.)

Ingredients for Lychee: Polybutene (Binder), Ricinus Communis Seed Oil/Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil (Emollient), Dextrin Palmitate (Emulsifying Agent), Diisopropyl Dimer Dilinoleate (Skin Conditioning Agent), Passiflora Edulis Seed Oil (Emollient/Skin Conditioner), Passiflora Incarnata Seed Oil (Emollient/Skin Conditioning Agent), Cocos Nucifera Oil/Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil (Emollient), Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil (Skin Conditioning Agent), Hydrogenated Polyisobutene (Emollient), Aroma/Flavor (Flavour), Cera Alba/Beeswax (Emulsifier/Emollient), Tocopheryl Acetate (Antioxidant), Panthenol (Skin Conditioning Agent), Benzyl Benzoate (Solvent), Tocopherol (Antioxidant), Barium Sulfate (Opacifier), Talc (Absorbent/Bulking Agent), Citronellol (Fragrance Ingredient), Geraniol (Fragrance Ingredient), CI 77891/Titanium Dioxide (Colorant), CI 15850/Red 7 Lake (Colorant), CI 77492/Iron Oxides (Color), CI 77491/Iron Oxides (Color), CI 77499/Iron Oxides (Color).

To be honest, I'm not a fan of super fruity and punchy sweet scents. However, this winter is just about killing me, and anything that reminds me of warmer seasons goes a long way to restoring good spirits and healthier outlook. I can't believe I'm saying this, but these lip glosses are doing that for me right now. My favourite is Strawberry so far.

What are your favourite scents or products from The Body Shop?

This post features products provided by company/PR for review purposes. This is not a paid/sponsored post. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

2013 Empties Part 1

It's been a while, huh? Let's get right to it. The first empties post of 2013!

Eminence Organic Skin Care Apricot Whip Moisturizer - Smells very sweet and strongly of... apricots, I suppose. The texture was rather thick, to the point that it was difficult to blend into skin. I ended up using it on my hands and had such an aversion to the scent that I was glad when it was gone.

Eminence Organic Skin Care Black Perlette Grape Moisturizer - This one was much better. Again, it smelled of fruit but in a lighter and fresher manner. The texture was soft and non-greasy, leaving the skin dewy and plump. I like it but would prefer skincare that's either unscented or fragranced very lightly.

Sunday Riley Bionic Anti-Aging Cream - I don't know what the scent of this was but it is so strong that I could smell it on me the next day. Can't get over it and will never purchase it.

L'Occitane Precious Serum and Precious Cream - The serum is a very thin clear liquid, which surprised me. Most serums I tried in the past have heavier consistencies than their cream counterparts. Nonetheless, I patted the serum onto skin without moisturizer and found that it wasn't enough to combat dryness after cleansing. I got two uses out of the sachet but couldn't see a difference on the face. The cream, however, is very effective at soothing dry patches and generally plumping up the skin during the night. I may consider using the both together or purchasing just the cream alone.

Stila In The Light Palette (Sample) - This is one of two sample strips I received from Sephora as bonus for an online purchase some months back. The shades are Bare, Kitten, Bliss, Sunset and Sandstone. While they are nice enough and form a great variety of nude/neutral shades for an everyday look, it was difficult to tell if the thin layer of powder on a paper strip was true representation of how the powder shadows would feel in a regular size palette. I had to rub the bristles of the shadow brushes fairly hard to transfer the colours and got tired of the sample after one use. Still, it's a good trial to see if the shades are something that would work with your individual colouring. For me, yes. But I don't need anymore neutral shadows or palettes.

L'Oreal Double Extend Beauty Tubes Mascara - It's the only drugstore mascara I use and it's the only drugstore tubing mascara that I know. Given the price, it's effective and pretty awesome. The tubes will not smudge or budge and comes off easily with warm water at the end of the day. However, I find the size of the wand to be too large for my tiny Asian eyes and lashes and prefer my other go-to, Clinique Lash Power. But I will probably return to this drugstore gem again since this is my 4th or 5th time despite all the other mascara samples clamouring for attention within my train case.

Shu Uemura Phyto-Black Lift Firming Anti-Wrinkle Cream - It was pretty good but not worth a huge rave. I got one or two uses out of it but don't recall seeing any tremendous results. Probably wouldn't ever purchase. I don't even want to know how much a full size costs. Seriously, don't tell me.

By Kilian Water Calligraphy - If you join the By Kilian club on Facebook, you receive free samples with every new launch. They started to mix up my name and address with another club member the last few times and I stopped receiving samples after the Asian Tales collection. Need that remedied at some point but I'm so backlogged on perfume reviews that it hardly matters right now. Water Calligraphy was very badly received by perfume critics at large and I didn't have any expectations of it. However, it was exactly the kind of faint, fresh scent that I needed on a very strange rainy winter day. I ended up spraying it all week long, and the next thing I knew, the vial was finished. I even went so far as to check if Bloor Street Holt Renfrew has the full bottle in stock -- and they do. If I ever happen to have $250-$300 to burn someday on a delightful flyaway scent that everyone hates, this is what's going to happen.

Kerastase Elixir K Ultime - I purchased this as a replacement for my beloved MoroccanOil and had an on and off love affair with it. While oily in texture and consistency, it's not something that one would use to nourish the hair. I'd not use the word "serum" to describe this product, but we live in a confused time right now. When my hair was shorter (and therefore curlier), I ran it through wet hair and just let it air dry, and added a few more drops to the dried hair to smooth out the frizz. During winter with longer hair, I used it as a heat-styling agent to combat frizz. While effective and multifunctional, it's quite costly at around CAD$50. I've gone back to MoroccanOil for time being and remain confused about Elixir K Ultime.

Simple Refreshing Facial Wash Gel (PR Sample) - Reviewed here and loved until the last drop. I will definitely purchase this in the future.

Lancome Bi-Facil Eye Makeup Remover - Reviewed here and still my holy grail. I have a couple of more of these sample sizes to use, thank goodness. While I'd love to rely on this full-time long-term, it's too expensive for my cheap ass to purchase on the regular.

Josie Maran Tinted Moisturizer in Butter - It's the best tinted moisturizer I've used to date, in terms of shade match, coverage and moisturizing effect. Unfortunately my face doesn't deal well with Josie Maran products. There's about 1/10th of the tube remaining but my face freaked out after the last time I used it, and I'm not sure if it's because it's too rich or if the product has aged and gone bad. I won't be purchasing tinted moisturizers at all from now on so that's a goner. But I highly recommend this to normal-dry skin types.

SilkyGirl Magic BB Powder Foundation - Reviewed here. My sister and I both rely on this Asian drugstore gem now. The shade 03 Medium is too dark for my paler winter visage, but it's perfect for summer. I'm hoarding my one last pan for Summer 2013 and currently trying to use up some old liquid foundations I've been neglecting.

Rexall Cottons - I use these to remove nail polish. I haven't worn nail polish in months but I keep trying to get back into it, only to wipe everything off immediately after applying. So the cottons kept getting used even though my nails have been bare almost all the time since November. Anyway, $2 cottons can't be beat. This pack lasts me half a year.

Love That White Smile Tooth Gloss - I received this when the company was just launching and passing out freebies on the streets of downtown Toronto. I tried using it a few times but there are no instructions available on how to use it and I don't like the sweet flavour of the gloss which makes me feel like I'm ingesting the product instead of being serviced by it. Teeth are coated with it for "protection" against stains and I suppose it stays on... forever? It's like walking around with remnants of toothpaste in your mouth. No thanks.

MAC Lipstick - I don't remember the shade, but that's because I never got to use it. I received it as a freebie in a makeup swap and accidentally went HULK SMASH one day. Since I don't have depotting materials for broken lipsticks, sadly it had to be tossed.

Korres Jasmine Lip Butter - I think I'm the only person who doesn't like the Korres Lip Butters. Like real butter, it has to be melted on the lips, but I find that the product never penetrates the lips and remains purely on the surface, which I find irritating and ineffective. The shade Jasmine also makes my lips look paler, so I've been using it only at home and am ridiculously happy to see it gone.

Also in my empties bag, I keep a ziplock bag filled with Back 2 MAC empties. It turned out that I had 7 empties, but we need only 6 to redeem for a free lipstick or eye shadow at Canadian MAC stores. I turned in my stash and came home with Lady Danger Lipstick, which is totally sexy and a little bit scary.

And that's it. I'm going to keep empties posts going as a way to conduct mini reviews and assess repurchasing possibilities. But I've decided to stop counting the number of empties this year, as it has been established enough times that my average number is about 100 products per year and I've become quite good at finishing products I've committed to using. No more stressing over not being able to finish something or feeling wasteful. After two years of struggling with simultaneous greedy consumerist and frugal hoarding habits, it feels great to finally be at a more balanced place where I can enjoy the things I have without feeling panic over unattainables. That's what "empties" is truly useful for, to cultivate better daily habits if you're someone who hates waste like I do. But it's not for everyone either and I respect that. No big deal.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Neutral Blushes (Benefit, Tarte, MAC, Annabelle)

There was a time when these sort of shades were all I'd wear. In fact, my first MAC blush is Blushbaby which forms a part of the ensemble below. Prior to Blushbaby, I only had one or two other blush from the drugstore which I picked with untrained eyes, randomly betting that they wouldn't clash with my skin tone or look overly garish. At MAC when I first asked for a blush recommendation, I remember the saleswoman sweeping a quick look at me and declaring, "Blushbaby, definitely." And that was the beginning of my blush whore ways. Because after the neutral, you want a pink or a plum or a red... and the list goes on and on, to our great collective joy!

"Neutral" blush is basically used to describe the natural tan or browned rose shade which ideally suits every skin tone and is considered a fuss-free makeup look. The result is supposed to add a hint of colour to the face without drawing attention to the cheeks, adding dimension and contour and flush in one fell swoop. Over the years, I relied mostly on MAC Blushbaby and Benefit Dallas. (Can you see how both show signs of being well-loved and how Blushbaby even has a slight dip in the pan?)

Top Left: MAC Equilibrium / Top Centre: Tarte Stellar / Far Right: Annabelle Pronto
Bottom Left: Benefit Dallas / Bottom Centre: MAC Blushbaby

MAC Equilibrium (Limited Edition from Fall 2011 MAC Me Over Collection) - It's the most brown of the bunch and I use it sometimes to contour.

Tarte Stellar (Limited Edition from Holiday 2012 Blush Set) - It looks quite brown in the pan but has just enough rosiness and shimmer to make it a really good neutral blush.

Annabelle Pronto (#32) - Definitely more brown than rose but much lighter than MAC Equilibrium. I add it on those rare days when I don't want to look flushed but don't want to look completely bare.

MAC Blushbaby - It looks so pink compared to all the others!

Benefit Dallas - It's marketed as both a bronzer and a blush, but I think that really depends on the individual and their skin tone. I like it as blush.

And now the swatches under a variety of lighting:

Left to Right: Benefit Dallas, MAC Blushbaby, Annabelle Pronto, Tarte Stellar, MAC Equilibrium

As you can see, there are similarities but no sure dupes within the bunch. I won't be getting rid of any at this point, but I definitely won't be adding to the collection either. Swatching these and taking stock killed my desire for Tarte Exposed and NARS Douceur which everyone touts as the universally flattering neutrals. I think that I can manage with what I have.

Swatching these have also rekindled my love of classy neutrals. When I took these photos a week ago, I fell back in love with Blushbaby and used it non-stop until Friday. But I'm such a fickle beast. As of today, it's all about peaches and apricots. After that will be corals. Then maybe purples! I can barely contain myself right now. Blush is the best. #blushfiend

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Things I Like A Lot #4: Books

Seems like a silly title, doesn't it, because who doesn't like books? Yet many people I know don't. It's not that they actively dislike books, but there are those who don't enjoy reading for whatever reason or those don't understand the value of literature. A lawyer once asked me what the point of studying English literature was and I nearly fell over in shock. She said she was entertained by movies but that books bored her, and that reading fake stories about fake people failed to inspire anything in her. Back then, I wanted respond that "real" people bore me 90% of the time and that without the "fake" things to aspire to, life would be incredibly dull and unsatisfying. I think that I tried to explain it more politely but the discussion didn't go anywhere. She remained unconvinced that literature was necessary. And it's not, to the degree that you need water, food and shelter. But as beings with thoughts and ideas and feelings over merely existing, it would be odd to not be able to express those things with the one vehicle we created for that express purpose: language.

Literature was my first love. After many years away from it, I came back to studying it with the firm belief that doing what I feel passionate about will lead me to a better place eventually. I also longed to be among my own kind, with fellow bookworms who feel similarly passionate about our subject matter and know the source material behind so many of the movies being produced these days. Maybe that's why I feel at home in the blogosphere in a way I don't in offline life, because expressing the self with text isn't something I share with a lot of people on a regular basis. Daily emails and text messages are businesslike, brief and to the point. But on blogs, people come alive with words to describe everything from the texture of a lipstick to the feelings stirred by a song. I discovered that many bloggers are avid readers, and our shared love of language, words and imagination forge many memorable moments that grow into solid friendships. Books are seeds planted for the future, gateway into other worlds and perspectives we would otherwise never know. The words within the pages give form to shapeless thoughts and feelings floating in our minds on a regular basis and tether them as something concrete and tangible. We write to express, and we read to learn to express and to understand.

So, I have a lot of books. I tried to count them several times, but it's way worse than trying to count how many blushers I have. It's not really about the numbers for me, however, so I don't really care how many there are.

I prefer to buy small paperbacks to fit as many possible on a shelf. For this particular shelf, I ended up double-shelfing the books per row to maximize space. For me, the value of a book is in its content for the most part, which is why I don't spend a lot of money on first release hard covers or fancy editions. I began collecting as a child, buying cheap discards from the library for $0.25. Eventually I was forced to buy certain editions for university classes, and I try not to keep duplicates unless there's a drastic difference between two editions with just as much value in both. (For example, Henry James was notorious for revisiting his earlier books and rewriting them -- badly, too, according to many critics. You need to take a look at what year that particular copy of the book was originally published to see what era of his writing you're looking at.)

I'd like to say that I'm a sort of an aspiring librarian with neatly catalogued books, but sadly, no. After moving from room to room in this house as different siblings moved in and out, I was happy to simply be able to fit all the books on some sort of shelf space, order be damned. The catalogue is in my head and I know exactly which book I have, if not its exact location on a shelf.

Paperbacks on top, oversized books and heavy anthologies on bottom.

Below are the other two bookshelves, also littered with all sorts of trinkets and things.

And this little unit is a small shelf I made in Grade 6 shop class. (This was back in the day when they taught home economics, visual arts and shop as mandatory requirements in middle school. I was horrible in home ec, fantastic in art and shop.) I remember sawing the pieces, sanding and varnishing with a lot of love and care. It's remarkably sturdy even after all these years. I'm going to keep it until one of us perishes.

As a result of my disorganization, the genres are all mixed up. But I kind of like the austere Northrop Frye rubbing elbows with sharp-witted Sarah Vowell and mellow Jane Urquhart. Classifications and taxonomies are not the end all or be all. Often they are as limiting as they are helpful. We can create subcategory after subcategory to no avail. Not all books fit in a box nice and neatly. (And perhaps those are the best kind of books.)

Mandatory Tolkien shot for my personal Counsel of Elrond. ;-)

When I had more time for leisure reading (for the last handful of years, it's been all course-related requirements), I'd pick a book or an author on a whim and pursue the series or the author or both until there was nothing more to pursue. It happened with The Three Muskateers by Alexandre Dumas. When I first picked it up, I had no idea that it was an entire series ending with The Man in the Iron Mask. But I fell in love with the characters and chased them all the way through the less exciting Twenty Years After and Louise de la Valliere. And obviously after that, I had to read The Count of Monte Cristo. Dumas could ramble on, but he wrote with a lot of relish, unlike Hugo who was denser and more philosophical. Good times were had.

As years went on, I pursued mostly classical literature. I delved into romance, sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, crime and even erotica, but few engaged me for long in those arenas. Then later, I developed a strange personal quirk: I liked reading about reading, reading about writing, and reading about books. I discovered those sort of books under the umbrella of literary criticism where traffic tended to be light, which was exactly to my liking. Similar to the theme of this blog, it appears that I like to examine why we love what we love. Why is it that we do any of this mad cap scribbling and photo-taking -- to the point that we have to share with the world (wide web) -- why we do what we do?

Touching back down to what I like: I love The Awakening by Kate Chopin.

The genius duo of Henry James and Edith Wharton keep me delighted year after year. I had a plan to read all of both of their books as well, but the plan was derailed by repetitive courses that had me re-read Daisy Miller, Portrait of a Lady, Ethan Frome and The House of Mirth multiple times. I dream of the day I can sit down for a week and wrestle with The Golden Bowl. Then I will read their biographies.

And if anyone asks me what my favourite book is, I answer with Fifth Business by Robertson Davies. In fact, I say the entire Depford Trilogy. I'm convinced that Robertson Davies died with the secret of life in his Santa Claus-esque beard. Born in small town Ontario and destined for greatness, Davies longed for intellectual stimulation beyond the restrictive life of 9-5 jobs and quiet Canadian living. Eventually he became one of the founding members of Massey College at the University of Toronto, where the main library is named after him. The quality of his writing is visibly progressive, but his biggest triumph is this trilogy, written during the middle years, filled with amazing dialogues and insights that he probably would have loved to have shared with fellow nerds. Lucky for us, he wrote them down.

Then a handful of years ago, I got into collecting signed books and attending author readings. Book lovers in Toronto need to check out Authors at Harbourfront Centre and free events hosted by the Toronto Public Library and Indigo. Great resources and opportunities are to be had all the time, and my only problem is that full-time work and part-time studies don't give me enough time to attend everything that I want. I sit in enough lectures as it is for time being. Anyway, below is Yann Martel's signature. I went to a reading and took a few books to be signed by him. When my turn came, the books slipped out of my grasp last second and landed with a thump on the desk, as if I had rudely slammed them down for him to sign. Yann looked at up me with a certain look on his face ('excuse you') and unenthusiastically asked what my name was. I should have explained, but it all happened in a split second. By the time I found the words to explain, it was too late. Does it look to anybody else as if he signed his name as "Sam"???

And below are the books that you sometimes see as backdrop to some of my makeup pics. (Usually I drop a piece of blank white sheet on the desk and take pictures there.) When I ran out of shelf space, I acquired this industrial-size desk with a large hutch and stored the extra books along the desk from end to end.

Now, have I read all the books that I own? Nope. I could probably fill one shelf with books I haven't read. Many were picked up at university library sales where I carted them away by boxes. I've stopped purchasing books for time being, in anticipation of reading all the unread books and eventually switching over to e-books. It doesn't mean that I'll give up my physical library, because I'll always have a fond attachment to these old friends who kept me company for many years. There's something satisfying about turning the paper page, listening to the sound of the flip and being able to take up a pen to highlight a particular word or phrase. But I foresee a time when space may be limited, and I am thankful for the availability of e-readers that make it possible for me to continue this love affair with writers and books across all ages and genres.

Given that I'm writing about a rather large book collection on a blog devoted to reducing beauty products, it begs to be asked: why don't I feel the same guilt about hoarding books as I obviously felt (and sometimes still do) about hoarding beauty products? No one will look at my book collection and ask in shock and distaste, "Why do you have so many books?" (Although, when I was working at the bookstore, a customer came in and used the term "crap" to indicate physical books.) But many people have looked at my train case and reeled back in horror at the makeup stash, asking, "Why?"

Because it's fun.

Because it transforms me into a better (or more functional) me.

Because it adds colour and beauty to an otherwise sometimes very dreary world.

And yet. Guilt sets in if I spend $100 for a Chanel highlighter. Would I feel the same guilt if I purchased a $100 antique book? I don't know, because I've never done it. I've been frugal with books for the most part, though a part of me fiercely desires to acquire vintage leather bounds or artistic hard copies of classics. Somehow I've managed to separate aesthetics, form and function with books. But while working at the bookstore, I realized once more that they all come together in various ways. Sometimes I wasn't able to locate certain books on the main shelves because they were being used as prop instead on a display. I had mixed feelings about that. Was it about show or content? Or both?

I think the answer is unique and individual to us all. For me, books were mostly about what was between the pages and the quality of writing within, their ability to make me think deeper or to entertain greatly. With beauty products, it's mostly about the way they make me feel on a daily basis as a part of morning and night rituals. It might call for a $100 Chanel highlighter from time to time, to feel pampered in a way that Edith Wharton heroines might like to feel. It took me a long time to reach this point, but I don't see why both can't co-exist harmoniously. They add joy and value to my life, internally and externally. They make me feel human.

May I never stop exploring new books nor stop exploring new lipsticks. I don't have to always buy them, but I will never stop looking. :-)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


I plan on talking about all of these things (and more) eventually. Until then, I leave you with some visuals and well wishes. Just two more work days to go, you guys -- YAY!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Orange Cheeks

Just a quick note for those who were curious as to how vivid orange cheeks could be worn. I think this picture is just gorgeous! The orange tone of the blush is echoed as a softer peach on the lips, and there are no competing colours on the canvas other than some brown shadow action to create and emphasize contours.

Obviously I won't be wearing it in this manner, as I don't frequent runways or fashion shoots, but the picture works as a source of inspiration. Here are a couple of diffused/blended swatches of MUFE #18 versus heavy swatches. (Both on bare skin without primers.)

I'll give this shade a thorough test run and will report back on any failures or stories resulting from this week's episode of clown cheeks.