Archive for category Brands

Recent Purchases, Part IV: The tools

MAN, I gotta get through all these ‘Recent Purchases’ posts already! There was just SO MUCH, you guys. And the photos have all been taken. And truth be told I’m a little bit lacking in original post ideas, since I’m a wee bit sidetracked these days:

IMG_3129 IMG_3227 IMG_1173 IMG_3210 IMG_3322THIS KID. She makes me laugh so much!!

I hope no one minds gratuitous baby pics…I can’t help myself!

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ANYWAY. Let’s soldier on. Today I bring you the brushes/tools I’ve purchased over the past few months. These were not really necessary to buy, yet I feel they all were fairly practical purchases as I use them all quite frequently. The first to join the ranks of my tool collection was Beauty Blender ($26CAD); I finally caved to the hype and picked on up during the Sephora sale in April.

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To be honest, I’m not particularly wowed. At least not when it’s used to blend foundation – I find I look MORE makeup-y when I use it for that purpose, and the whole reason I bought it was to look more natural, so that’s a fail. However, it’s nice for blending concealer and cream/liquid highlight, so it’s not gone to total waste. But I’m definitely not a convert nor going to preach its amazingness. Also – apparently I’m too rough when washing it, as this has already happened:

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Oops.

Next, during one of two MAC hauls I bought the #266 Small Angled Brush ($   CAD), as I wanted something to use to apply cream/gel liner in a more diffused way. I like this a lot – you could also use it damp to apply powder shadow as liner, which I haven’t done yet but intend to. I have an angel liner brush from Clinique that I use for powder brow products, but it’s splayed and fluffed out too much for liner application – this one sounds like it will retain it’s tight shape much better.

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Then, I had a bit of a ‘moment’ and decided I *needed* to buy the Chikuhodo Z-Series Z4 Cheek/Highlighter Brush ($73US) from Beautylish*. I really didn’t *need* this, but since having it I’ve been enjoying it immensely – aside from the fact that it’s SO DAMN SOFT, it applies and blends powder highlight like a dream. I used it initially with my more pigmented blushes as it’s so soft I thought it would help me stop overapplying them (damn if I don’t love my blush), but it’s too soft to blend them as well as I’d like; I’ve found myself using the Make Up For Ever #156 Large Flat Blush Brush for blush application a lot lately and LOVING it.

*Fantastic service by the way – I received my products within two days and afterward someone from the site text messaged me to see how I was enjoying the products I’d purchased. At first I found it a bit invasive, but after a bit of back and forth they left me alone, so ! I’ll be purchasing from them again. And FYI – your first purchase from the site they offer 15% off and free shipping, so BONUS.

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Finally, after deciding the Beauty Blender wasn’t doing the trick and trying to hunt down the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush for achieving a natural-looking base, I found a Lawtons that carried the brand, and I bought said brush, as well as the Real Techniques Setting Brush. Unlike the Beauty Blender, the hype surrounding these is well-deserved, especially for their price (I can’t remember exactly but they were both under $15 each). I’ve been using the Expert Face Brush for both liquid and powder foundation and it buffs them both so nicely into the skin, and so effortlessly. Equally as useful, the Setting Brush is fantastic for placing powder right where it’s needed, and with a light touch. As someone who loves a more glowing look, but has slightly oily skin – which means I can veer into greasy very easily – spot powdering is ideal; I can just dust a bit around my nose, between my brows, on my chin, and under my eyes to set my concealer, without mattifying EVERYTHING on my face. I thought my MAC #138 Tapered Face Brush was sufficient for this task, but it’s still a bit too big and ends up powdering more than I want/need. So these two = total win.

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Alright. Another purchase post down! I have 3 more to go (I KNOW. I bought SO MUCH STUFF) which I hope to get out soon so I’m forced to come up with something interesting to write about. I mean, it’s not all bad doing these kind of group mini-reviews – hopefully they’re helpful – but I’d like to get my creative juices flowing again.

Have you tried any of these brushes/tools? What sort of posts might you be interesting in reading? (I’ve been reading my old old OLD posts and I am thinking about doing a showcase of all my products by category again – thoughts?)

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Recent Purchases, Part III: The eye make-ups

In the ongoing chronicle of my intense 3 month makeup haul, next we have all the eye makeup that I bought over the past few months – again, this behaviour was nonsensical as I barely wear eye makeup these days save for mascara, but…sometimes we just lose our damn minds. I’m better now (but still want to atone for my ‘mistakes’).

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Let’s begin with the most sensible purchases, given my comment above – mascara.

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I went many years without buying much mascara at all – maybe one per year – as I’d often get free ones from Clinique, or just use the samples I’d get from Sephora etc. But this past year I’ve been trialing quite a few drugstore mascaras, as I’ve made an informal, semi-pact with myself that I won’t spend the big bucks on mascara any more; for only 3-4 months of use (and generally the same effectiveness across low- and high-end), my monies are better spent elsewhere.

The first mascara I picked up however, WAS from the higher-end of the spectrum – Benefit’s new Roller Lash mascara ($31CAD) – though I bought it during the Sephora sale in April.

Benefit Roller Lash MascaraBenefit Roller Lash Mascara

Benefit’s newest mascara offering claims to be a ‘super-curling and lifting’ mascara to give a ‘sexy, wide-eyed look.’ As my eyelashes are already pretty curly on their own, I wasn’t initially reeled in by the product, but after seeing a few tutorials and reviews online I decided I liked the way it separated and lengthened lashes. Since I tend to go very low-key on the eye makeup day-to-day, I do prefer my lashes to be ultra-defined while letting my lips do the heavy lifting. For me, Roller Lash does the job well – it gives decent length, doesn’t clump and really catches every lash so they stand out, which is important when you’re not wearing anything else on the eye.

Benefit Roller LashTwo coats of Benefit Roller Lash Mascara

Though I am quite enjoying the lengthening and separating effects of Roller Lash, I also wanted to have a more volumizing formula on hand for when I wanted more drama. Enter L’Oreal’s praised Voluminous Million Lashes Excess mascara:

IMG_1018L’Oreal Voluminous Million Lashes Excess Mascara in Black

The Million Lashes Excess is supposed to give ‘bold volume with clean definition’, and I’d say this is partly true. The formula is thin and wet, so it gives you time to build it up on the lashes without clumping. Because of this, you do get fairly defined lashes – however, it takes effort and several coats to get that ‘bold volume’, at which point the likelihood of clumps increases (though not by too much). I personally find this tedious to apply, and the effect is not dramatic as I’d hoped. Not a bad option though for those who are looking for a reasonably priced mascara with a little bit of drama.

L'Oreal Voluminous Million Lashes Excess Mascara one coatOne coat of L’Oreal Voluminous Million Lashes Excess Mascara

L'Oreal Voluminous Million Lashes Excess Mascara two coatsTwo coats of L’Oreal Voluminous Million Lashes Excess Mascara

After watching Tati’s first impressions video on the L’Oreal Voluminous Miss Manga Rock mascara, I went ahead and picked it up when it went on sale at my local Lawtons drugstore. The yet another addition to the Voluminous franchise, Miss Manga Rock is touted to give ‘mega texturized volume’ via a 360° spiked brush and textured formula, creating ‘explosive volume’ at the roots and pointed lash tips.

IMG_1016L’Oreal Voluminous Miss Manga Rock Mascara in Blackest Black

L'Oreal Miss Manga Rock mascara one coatOne coat of L’Oreal Voluminous Miss Manga Rock Mascara

L'Oreal Miss Manga Rock mascara two coatsTwo coats of L’Oreal Voluminous Miss Manga Rock Mascara

Despite the aforementioned tendency to wear little to no other eye makeup except mascara lately, I still get sucked in by a pretty shadow. I had been on the hunt for a striking gold eyeshadow with almost a greenish tint for month, when I finally stumbled upon Makeup Geek’s Liquid Gold pigment. The price was right (~$6) so I promptly ordered it because, why not?

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Shortly thereafter, I went on a MAC craze, listing all the products I *needed* to buy from the core range. I planned to buy a few every couple months or so, and one of the first on my list was the subtle highlight eyeshadow in Ricepaper (frost), and a couple months later I followed my plan and picked up Cork satin eyeshadow, which I though would be perfect as both a transition shade or an all-over lid shade that would give me just a hint of smokiness (being so close to my skin color).

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During my shopping trip to buy Cork, it so happened that the Extra Dimension eyeshadows were launched permanently, and though I don’t love a ton of shimmer in my shadows, I couldn’t help but buy one – iridescent A Natural Flirt reminded me a lot of my favourite shade in my KATE BR-2 palette, and so it was that I brought it home as well.

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Finally, I had been eyeing a handful of products from Charlotte Tilbury (who isn’t these days???) and Beautylish offers free shipping on your first order from the site, so along with a Chikuhodo brush (review to come) I picked up a Colour Chameleon eye pencil in Smoky Emerald, a gorgeous dark sparkling khaki, after seeing it in action in a post on Into the Gloss re: makeup for brown-eyed girls. Of all the new shadows I’ve bought, this is the only one I’ve worn (for shame!), and it is LOVELY. Glides on SO creamy and smooth and then lasts all day. And this shade really is PERFECT for brown eyes!

IMG_1062 IMG_1063Left to right: Charlotte Tilbury Color Chameleon in Smoky Emerald, Makeup Geek Pigment in Liquid Gold, MAC Extra Dimension Shadow in A Natural Flirt, MAC Shadow in Naked Lunch, and MAC Shadow in Cork

I also made another shadow purchase, during the Sephora sale: a Giorgio Armani Eye Tint, in the shade 10 Senso (reg. $39CAD). I was so excited to try this formula, and having to order sight-unseen as we don’t have Armani here in Halifax, I took the safe route and ordered the bronzy shade which I was sure would work well for me. When it arrived however, I was dismayed to find that not only was it not all that bronze on me (it looks much more like a taupe-brown with a purple lean), but that it looks very similar to two other shadows I already owned – Laura Mercier Caviar Stick in Amethyst and Urban Decay 24/7 Shadow Pencil in Rehab.

IMG_0672 Giorgio Armani Eye Tint in Senso swatch comparisonLeft to right: Giorgio Armani Eye Tint in Senso, Urban Decay 24/7 Shadow Pencil in Rehab, Laura Mercier Caviar Stick in Amethyst

Having already purchased more eyeshadows than I should have, and being less than impressed with the shade (and formula – this was nothing to write home about, in my opinion, especially for $39!), I returned Senso. There’s just no room for subpar products or duplicates in my stash!

And so ends my eye makeup purchases – for the time being. I’m sure I’ll buy more mascara at some point, but not until I’ve finished two of these – I’ve tried all the ones on my lemmings list now so I’m good for a while. However, I am going to try my very hardest to resist buying any more eyeshadow until our trip to Los Angeles over the Christmas holiday (can’t wait!!!!), when I’ll have access to a ton of brands we can’t get here (MOAR Charlotte Tilbury!). As you may have seen on my Instagram, I’m struggling with reducing the current collection of shades I own as it is, so until I either can eliminate a few shades or use a few up (!!!!!), I absolutely NEED to put a lid on it for a while.

Now, to leave you with a couple sweet pictures of my wee one, who was such a good girl during my swatchfest :)

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GAH. My kid is so stupidly cute.

Have you been hauling lately? How do you stop yourself from buying products that you don’t need/don’t use?

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OPI Brights summer 2015 collection {swatches & review}

[This post contains press samples] Happy second day of summer! We’ve been having a lovely June so far, with a ton of sun sprinkled with a few rainy days to keep everything lush and green. As such, I’ve been switching up my mani & pedi shades on the regular, which is also helping me pare down my collection as I go through shade after shade and determine whether it stays or goes. The OPI Brights summer collection for 2015 kept me busy for a while, but I’ve finished all the swatches and have them to show you today! The collection contains 3 existing shades from the core collection, plus 6 brand new shades – all in varying finishes to keep things interesting.

OPI Summer 2015 Brights Collection

I did a few mani/pedi pairings to easier facilitate the swatches, and also added comparison swatches for any shades that seemed to have close relatives in my existing collection. Let’s begin with the core shade Hotter than You Pink and new shade I Sea You Wear OPI:

OPI Hotter Than You Pink and OPI I Sea You Wear OPI swatches

Hotter than You Pink is described as a…’hot pink’, how novel. It’s a bright pink shade with a blue iridescent flash that I’m sure is a favourite for many. These kinds of colors aren’t my bag, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it – and the formula for this one is great, two coats to opacity and it flows easily on the nail with no drag.

I Sea You Wear OPI is yet another shimmering aqua confection from the brand, an iridescent metallic that is a classic come summer. This one is a bit sheer, like some other similar OPI shades, and requires 3 coats – even then, you can still see a bit of my nail line in certain lights (like above). It’s pretty though, and the formula otherwise is good with no patchiness.

Hotter than You Pink reminded me of the shade Hang Ten Toes from China Glaze’s Neon collection from 2012. Both that have blue flash, but CG’s polish is less shimmery and more cool-toned:

OPI Hotter than You Pink vs China Glaze Hang Ten Toes comparison swatchLeft: OPI Hotter Than You Pink; Right: China Glaze Hang Ten Toes

I figured I Sea You Wear OPI would be very similar to either the brand’s This Color’s Making Waves (recently reviewed) or Catch Me In Your Net, but it isn’t at all – it’s much more blue and shimmery (rather than metallic) than the former; and though similar in hue, it’s considerably lighter than CMIYN, with less depth.

OPI I Sea You Wear OPI comparison swatchesLeft to right: OPI This Color’s Making Waves, OPI I Sea You Wear OPI, OPI Catch Me in Your Net

Next, I paired Life Gave Me Lemons with I STOP for Red:

OPI I STOP for Red and OPI Life Gave Me Lemons swatches

Life Gave Me Lemons is a core shade, a ‘citrusy lemon-lime’ creme that is very cheerful-looking. It does have a bit of green in it, which for some might make it more wearable than just a straight yellow, which can be tricky on some skintones. While I don’t love yellow polishes on the whole, I actually didn’t mind this – it’s just so happy-looking! Also, for a yellow, the formula isn’t all that bad – it requires a bit of care when applying, but it wasn’t as fussy as other yellows I’ve come across. This is two coats.

I STOP for Red is a tomato red crelly (creme-jelly hybrid) that has the best squishy texture I’ve seen! Though the shade is nothing new, it’s the texture that really makes it stand out – it’s so juicy and delectable. On shorter nails, two coats will do, but on longer nails or if you prefer no VNL, I’d go with three.

The green tones in Life Gave Me Lemons is much more apparent when compared to other yellows:

OPI Life Gave Me Lemons comparison swatchesLeft to right: American Apparel Neon Yellow, OPI Life Gave Me Lemons, butter London Jasper

It’s much more dull (and more glossy) compared to American Apparel Neon Yellow (my fave yellow EVER and the only one I have kept in my collection), though both have that touch of green. butter London’s Jasper on the other hand, is more *ahem* butter-y, and more of a true yellow color.

OPI I STOP for Red comparison swatchesTop to bottom: Essie Meet Me at Sunset, OPI No Stopping Me Now, OPI I STOP for Red, OPI Aloha from OPI, Essie Come Here!

IT IS FREAKING IMPOSSIBLE TO PHOTOGRAPH REDS!!! Gah. The five shades above look identical, I’m sure, and though they are VERY close, they are not the same. Essie Come Here! is more pink, OPI No Stopping Me Now and Essie Meet Me at Sunset are both more orange, and OPI Aloha from OPI is more coral. Though the latter is closest in tone, it’s a straight creme and doesn’t have that glossy, squishy texture.

The last pairing I did was with My Car Has Navy-gation and Down to the Core-al:

OPI My Car Has Navy-gation and OPI Down to the Core-al

My Car Has Navy-gation is a gorgeous deep indigo blue that sadly is a bit of a disappointment once worn. It’s on the sheer side (this is three coats) and is streaky in it’s application. I think they were trying to achieve that crelly texture with this shade, too, but alas it didn’t translate properly in the final product. Let’s take a closer look:

OPI My Car Has Navy-gation swatch

The last of the core shades, Down to the Core-al is a ‘brilliant coral’ which has a touch of violet flash. This was quite pretty, a bit different than your standard summer coral, and easy to apply (this is two coats). Just the right hint of shimmer.

I own a fair number of blue polishes, but nothing was really like My Car Has Navy-gation:

OPI My Car Has Navy-gation comparison swatchesLeft to right: Deborah Lippmann I Know What Boys Like, OPI My Car Has Navy-gation, YSL Bleu Majorelle

Lippmann’s I Know What Boys Like is more purple and less vivid, and YSL’s Bleu Majorelle is much brighter and without ANY purple tone.

OPI Down to the Core-al swatch comparisonLeft: OPI Down to the Core-al; Right: OPI Go With the Lava Flow

Once again, I thought a shade from the recently released Hawaii-themed collection from the brand would be very similar to Down to the Core-al; Go With the Lava Flow is a coral shimmer polish as well, but it is more shimmery and darker, and with a more murky quality to it (which you can’t really see in the photo above).

Can’t Hear Myself Pink! is described as a ‘shimmering metallic pink’, but there’s more to it than that. Though it’s more obvious in the bottle than on the nail, there is a subtle orange duochrome that elevates this shade and makes it more unique. Alone, this shade is pretty enough, but a touch sheer and requires three coats. On my index finger, I layered Can’t Hear Myself Pink! over Down to the Core-al, and this brought out the duochrome and intensified the shade beautifully. I don’t own anything even close to this shade.

OPI Can't Hear Myself Pink! swatch OPI Can't Hear Myself Pink! swatch

My regular readers know I’m not a fan of glitter polishes, and hot pink glitter On Pinks and Needles is no exception. It’s fine, it’s cute, but not for me – here it is layered over Life Gave Me Lemons (on only one nail because glitter removal is a P.I.T.A.):

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Finally, we have my favorite shade from the collection, The Berry Thought of You, a ‘delectable purple.’ It’s a beautiful purple-based berry that has a touch of that crelly texture and an uber-glossy finish. Two coats and you’re good to go.

OPI The Berry Thought Of You swatch

Dior’s Bloom polish, an LE shade from last spring I believe, is thisclose to The Berry Thought of You but a hint more pink. If it weren’t Dior, I’d get rid of it because I love the OPI shade more; as it is I’m keeping them both…for now. American Apparel’s Neon Violet has the same purple undertones but is more vivid (and matte, as neons tend to be); Nicole by OPI’s In Grape Demand looks straight-up purple in comparison.

OPI The Berry Thought Of You swatch comparisonsLeft to right: American Apparel Neon Violet, Dior Bloom, OPI The Berry Thought of You, Nicole by OPI In Grape Demand

Though I didn’t find many of these truly ‘bright,’ OPI suggests layering them over white to make them truly pop, and while I didn’t try that I suspect I would have gotten a better effect by doing so. Nonetheless, I liked most of these shades and I think it’s a solid summer collection with a variety of color and finishes from which to choose. I actually am keeping a few of these, namely: The Berry Thought of You (naturally), Can’t Hear Myself Pink! (for layering over similar shades), and I STOP for Red (dat texture, tho!). Hooray for summer!

OPI Summer 2015 Brights Collection

Has summer arrived where you are? Will you check out this year’s OPI Brights collection? What kind of shades do you gravitate toward in the summer?

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Recent Purchases, Part II: The Limited Edition buys

Oh L.E. products…you are the bane of many a beauty aficionado! They lure you in with FOMO (for those not up on their lingo – FOMO = Fear of Missing Out), and too many times you wind up with products you don’t even like. DAMN YOU, L.E. GODS!!!!

….THANKFULLY, this is NOT a story of purchase regret, or FOMO, or anything negative :) The L.E. draw often calls to me, and I get all in a tizzy thinking I need something, but the rational part of my brain almost always wins out. If I DO purchase an L.E. item, it’s got to be something I love and that will be put to good use – and these next two products fit those conditions perfectly.

MAC High-Light Powder in Freshen Up

I’ve decided that every MAC summer collection I’m going to pick up at least one item – I generally don’t care about that kind of thing, but their summer offerings always have the best packaging, and I’m a sucker for a pretty package ;) This year, I was most drawn to the High-Light Powder in Freshen Up – who can resist a striped cheek product??

MAC High-Light Powder in Freshen Up MAC High-Light Powder in Freshen Up

I was concerned it might end up being too light on my skintone, but if you pick up more of the deep reddish-coral shade at the top, it’s packed with a ton of pigment and looks fabulous – summer in a pan, in my opinion! The second shade, a muted pale apricot, helps soften it, if that’s the look you’re going for, and the bottom shade makes a lovely, subtle highlight on my skin.

MAC High-Light Powder in Freshen Up swatchesMAC Freshen Up – individual swatches

MAC High-Light Powder in Freshen Up swatchesMAC Freshen Up – blended swatch

I’m extremely pleased with this purchase, and somehow I don’t have a shade like it, so this is a win-win all around. I’m having a hard time not wearing this every single day!

MAC Freshen Up MAC Freshen UpIn sunlight

MAC Freshen UpIn natural light. One thing I’m noticing with my blush application is it goes too far back…and too low! Wazzupwiththat? (*Also: wearing Dior Addict Fluid in Magique)

The second L.E. product I bought this season was Dior’s Sunkissed nail polish – a soft peachy-nude that looks awesome with a (perma)tan. I grabbed this kind of quickly as I was out with the babes, but I knew it would look great. And it’s Dior. So ya know, I took a gamble ;)

Dior Sunkissed

Both nude and pale peach polishes can be difficult to formulate, as I find they can be streaky, or chalky. This, happily, is neither. While I did find it required 3 coats to suit my nitpicky ways, it self-levels well and really is a wonderful option for summer – I love the way it makes my hands look, both clean and ‘sun kissed’ – how apt!

Dior Sunkissed swatchDior Sunkissed in sunlight

Dior Sunkissed swatchDior Sunkissed in shade

Not too crazy, huh? (unlike my lippie-palooza!) I’m extremely pleased with both of these and they are perfect for the season – both  feel so summery to me! Yet, they both can be worn in other seasons with ease. It’s these kinds of purchases I want to make moving forward – items that are functional AND which I enjoy using. If you follow me on Instagram you’ve seen me doing some major purging of my stash; while I DID go a bit crazy after Elena was born (as evidenced in upcoming posts), this past week I got a hold of myself and really changed my mindset, bringing it back to my desire to streamline and simplify. Once I started ‘decluttering’ in a big way, it became addictive! I just have no more room (literally and figuratively) for things that don’t bring me joy anymore. Especially with most of my time spoken for these days, I want to make it count when I do get to play with my beauty-full things.

Like this.

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Do you get sucked in by the L.E. trap? Do you prefer to have a curated selection of products or prefer to have a large variety to choose from?

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OPI Soft Shades 2015 Collection {swatches and review}

[This post contains press samples] Bah. Another delayed polish collection post – my bad! I’ve had these photos for ages, AGAIN, but these kind of posts seem to take me a while to address, for some reason. I guess because there’s not much personal about writing a review of a collection I was sent; I don’t have a good story to tell about how I acquired them, or why, and those kind of posts – psychology-heavy where I analyze my every move – is kind of my specialty, ya?

OPI Soft Shades Spring 2015

Anywho. As usual, OPI put out a collection of sheer, neutral, wearable-in-any-situation-type polishes for spring. I only can remember two past collections – the one that used the Wizard of Oz as it’s theme (I actually have two polishes from that one), and the one based on the NYC Ballet – but they’ve been doing these for a while I think. This year’s offering doesn’t have a theme as in past years. I like this type of collection for spring; it’s soft (duh) and kind of a palette cleanser after all the moody hues of winter.

First, we have Chiffon My Mind:

OPI Chiffon My Mind swatch

I was excited for this shade as I am dying to find a gorgeous translucent, ethereal white polish, but sadly this didn’t fit the bill. Though it’s unique, with blue and pink microsheen (which you can’t see here, sorry), it’s a bit streaky (which you can see – and this is 3 coats!), and somehow that floaty quality is lacking.

OPI Act Your Beige swatch

Act Your Beige is a milky cream color, that I also had high hopes for – unfortunately, this was also streaky and required 3 coats (which I don’t mind, as long as it comes out even in the end). However, Michelle from All Lacquered Up didn’t find this streaky, so perhaps it’s just my application method. It’s certainly pretty and clean-looking, and it doesn’t look this streaky from a distance, but I guess I’m just fussy. I imagine sheer shades are hard to do.

OPI Put it in Neutral swatch

Sorry for the different lighting – this was taken with my iPhone. This is Put It In Neutral, which I quite liked. You can’t see it in this photo but it was a *touch* streaky, but less so than Act Your Beige (in my experience). It’s nothing exciting, but a good sheer is sometimes hard to find.

OPI Petal Soft & Make Light of the Situation swatches

Here we have Petal Soft, a glitter polish with smallish round and hexagonal shapes, as well as the odd large flower shape, and Make Light of the Situation, a shimmering confection with prismatic glitter bits (both worn over Put It In Neutral). The former is cute, and I wore it as an accent nail for my Easter manicure, but EHHH glitter removal is the WORST. And you kind of lose the point if you can’t fish out a flower piece (they’re tricky buggers). Make Light is quite pretty and looks especially lovely in sunlight with it’s rainbow quality.

OPI This Silver's Mine! swatch

Finally, we have This Silver’s Mine!, which I thought I would really like, as it’s less cold and hard like usual silvers (which I find hard to wear). It’s got a sort of rosegold-greenish hue in the right lighting too, which is neat. While the tone is spot on for me, it is brushstroke-y, and it highlights any imperfections in the nail. Again, this looks better in practice than close-up, but when you have a lot of polishes you start to get very discerning about which ones you keep and which ones you don’t.

And on that note – of these 6 polishes, I only kept one – Make Light of the Situation. I liked Put It In Neutral, but I have another sheer neutral I prefer (the one from the Wizard of Oz Soft Shade collection – called Glints of Glinda), and I don’t need two. I don’t wear that kind of polish often, and the new me can’t justify keeping everything just because I like it OK. It needs to have a real place in my collection, and it needs to actively make me happy. Otherwise? FUGGEDABOUTIT.

 

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Recent purchases, Part I: The Lippies

It’s a good thing May was my birthday month…it helps me with an excuse for why I’ve purchased SO MANY MAKEUPS over the past few weeks :S I’ve come to the realization that it’s not boredom that causes me to keep buying stuff, but rather the attempt at keeping a piece of my old self alive in this new life I’m living. I’m truly having the best time being a mom, and it only keeps getting better as Elena gets older and more interactive – watching her grow and develop is amazing – but my life revolves around her, so I think buying makeup and skincare like it’s going out of style is just a way to remind myself that I still have other interests. Or at least that’s the theory at the moment ;)

Anyway – it’s high time I show you guys some of the stuff I’ve picked up over the past little while. I’ve returned a couple things that I wasn’t super-enamoured with, but overall I’ve found a few gems that I’m really enjoying. I have time again to do a full face of makeup and I generally wear it every day, so my behaviour is not completely ridiculous (just mostly). Although, having said that…I’ve picked up five – count ’em, FIVE – lippies in the past month, which is kind of a lot. Let’s start with those, shall we?

Lipsticks MAC Clarins GivenchyTop row, left to right: Givenchy Rose Perfecto, Clarins, MAC Elegant Accent

Bottom row, left to right: MAC Cosmo, MAC Make Me Gorgeous

Lipsticks Givenchy MAC Clarins swatchesLeft to right: Givenchy Rose Perfecto, MAC Make Me Gorgeous, MAC Elegant Accent, MAC Cosmo, Clarins

My first lipstick purchase was made during a small MAC haul I made online back in March, when I decided that the coral red Make Me Gorgeous lipstick (Amplified formula) HAD to be mine. To my dismay, when it arrived in person I realized it looked scarily close to Tom Ford’s True Coral lipstick in the tube, and I was heartily disappointed. It also makes any flakes and dryness on the lips really noticeable, so at first I thought I had a big fat LOSER on my hands.

However, once I got into the swing of mommyhood and was able to start looking after myself a bit more, my chronically chapped and flaking lips healed and the lipstick looked pretty damn good on. And when I did an actual swatch comparison between it and True Coral, it turned out that they’re not exactly the same. While very similar, Make Me Gorgeous is lighter, brighter and has a touch more pink. Happy, happy day.

MAC Make Me Gorgeous vs Tom Ford True Coral lipstick comparison swatchesLeft: MAC Make Me Gorgeous; Right: Tom Ford True Coral

My next lipstick conquest was one of the Givenchy Le Rouges – I’ve been dying to try this formula for ages but I couldn’t decide on a shade that didn’t already seem like something I owned (if you’re gonna spend $40 on a lippie, you want it to be original, no?). I finally settled on Rose Perfecto, a blue-based bright pink. Just LOOK at it.

Givenchy Rose Perfecto

As I had to order online, I could only guess that it was unlike anything else I owned. When it arrived, I immediately did some swatching to see if I made the right choice:

Givenchy Rose Perfecto vs Bite Quince vs Revlon Showy lipstick comparison swatchesLeft to right: Bite Quince, Givenchy Rose Perfecto, Revlon Showy

My first thought was that it would rival another bright pink lippie in my stash, Bite High Pigment Lip Pencil in Quince, which I love. However, it makes that shade look warm and dark in comparison. Revlon’s Matte Balm in Showy, though, was a very close match, proving to be only slightly cooler-toned and more matte. As I only spent like, $8 on it however, I felt justified in removing it from my stash in favour of the Givenchy. I’ve already noted the AMAZINGNESS that is the Le Rouge formula on Instagram – I’m completely sold – and I plan to buy one of these during each Sephora sale. So, so creamy, comfortable, and long-wearing. LOVE!

Givenchy Rose PerfectoWearing Rose Perfecto…always with the baby in tow!

Every spring it seems like everyone gets on the ‘sheer and juicy’ train when it comes to lipsticks, which I’ve just never gotten into. I decided to finally pick up something along those lines to try, and the new Clarins Instant Light Lip Balm Perfectors were a good place to start. First of all, I LOVE the smell of these – like….. The shade I grabbed, 06 Rosewood, is sort of a brownish neutral, that merely gives a hint of color to my lips. Unsurprisingly, this is not long-wearing, but it does moisturize nicely (though it doesn’t seem to necessarily improve the condition of my lips over time). I’m not wild about it, but it’s a nice enough addition to my collection and super-wearable. The only thing I have similar is L’Oreal’s Wet Shine Stain in Eternally Nude, and it’s much more brown and pigmented:

L'Oreal Eternally Nude vs Clarins Rosewood comparison swatchesLeft: L’Oreal Eternally Nude; Right: Clarins Rosewood

A couple weeks ago I went into MAC to check out a few products on my wishlist. In a fit of madness, and because Elena was asleep and peaceful (therefore giving me ample time to look around and shop), I ended up buying a handful of items from my list, two of them being lipsticks. The first was a shade from the Mineralize Rich range, Elegant Accent – a pretty pinky-coral (which strangely isn’t available on the US website but is on the Canadian one…also, the range of Mineralize Rich lipsticks is completely different between the two sites).

MAC Elegant AccentWearing Elegant Accent, as seen on my Instagram, sans filter (which skewed the color a bit)

As you do when you have too many lipsticks in general, I did another swatch comparison. This time, I though MAC’s Crosswires might be similar; however, it leans more coral-orange than pink, and the finish – which is Cremesheen – is thicker than the semi-opaqueness of the Mineralize Rich formula. I love how hydrating and forgiving the Mineralize Rich formula is – I’ll definitely be trying more shades in the future (though am I the only one that finds the shade range limited, at least here in Canada?)!

MAC Elegant Accent vs MAC Crosswires lipstick comparison swatchesLeft: MAC Elegant Accent; Right: MAC Crosswires

The second lipstick I picked up during my MAC Madness was Cosmo, rosy brown in an Amplified Creme formula. I was looking for something to enhance my lip tone – make it look lush and full, but still natural. I have a hard time with MLBB shades – they never seem to do what I want them to do, usually looking too pink or too dull. Unfortunately, while I loved the lipstick in-store, when I got it home it was again not quite what I wanted. The Amplified Creme finish in my experience is too heavy and thick – like the lipstick texture of days past. So while the shade is good, I find this looks too ‘lipstick-y’ to achieve that enhanced but natural lip I was seeking.

I also realized that I already have just what I was looking for in NARS Matte Velvet Lip Pencil in Dolce Vita:

NARS Dolce Vita vs MAC Cosmos lipstick comparison swatchesLeft: NARS Dolce Vita; Right: MAC Cosmo

Dolce Vita is a bit more reddish, and matte, but the Velvet Matte formula is so creamy and light it blends on the lip perfectly to achieve that ‘full’ look effortlessly. I LOVE these pencils, and have plans to get Dragon Girl (cool siren red), Walkyrie (warm coral red creme, similar to Dolce Vita but a bit more reddened), and Bettina (rose beige) in the future (when I use some of these lippies up already!). Seriously, if you haven’t tried these, you NEED to – they’re not drying, they last for hours and they’re the only mattes I can wear even when my lips are in rough shape. FAB-U-LOUS!

And thus ends my lipstick-palooza…for 2015 so far, anyway. It gets harder and harder to find original shades within my existing collection, so I’ve got to slow down on the purchasing for awhile and start using stuff up already. Other than the NARS lip pencils, I don’t have any lipstick purchases planned at the moment…which is probably a good thing!

Have you gone on a makeup spree lately? What kinds of products have been catching your eye?

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Nicole by OPI Coca-Cola Collection {review and swatches}

I’m on a roll here, people, let’s just go with it.

Nicole by OPI Coca-Cola collection

I’ve only ever owned one nail polish from Nicole by OPI (I just can’t get past the ugly bottles!), so swatching the Coca-Cola collection was a relatively new experience for me. I’m also not a Coke lover (or even of pop in general, really – rarely drink the stuff) so at first many of the shades didn’t make sense to me, but I eventually got the references. Though most of the shades didn’t call to me, I tried to keep an open mind as I went through them – sometimes you find a gem when you least expect it, especially when it’s shades you might not have chosen otherwise.

Let’s begin with a classic, in all senses of the word.

Nicole by OPI Always a Classic Coca-Cola swatch

Always a Classic Coca-Cola is a richly-hued metallic red, reminiscent of the iconic Coca-Cola can. I like reds like this – strangely, I find metallic reds more wearable than cremes, which I find always look stark on my skintone. The formula was easy-peasy; two thin coats to opacity. As you can see, it IS a thin textured polish as any nail imperfections are noticeable -nothing a bit of top coat wouldn’t probably cure.

Always a Classic Coca-Cola vs Red Pumps at the Nordstrom comparison swatchLeft: Nicole by OPI Always a Classic Coca-Cola; Right: Misa’s Red Pumps at the Nordstrom

The shade reminded me of Misa’s Red Pumps at the Nordstrom, a beauty of a shade that I wear a lot during the holidays. I find Misa’s version, aside from being a bit deeper and cooler in tone, also has more depth – but both are pretty :)

Nicole by OPI DC Lover swatch

DC Lover (Diet Coke) is a silver foil with red glitter that surprised me by being quite pretty when worn. This is a shade I would NEVER choose if given the chance, but there’s something about it that’s kind of ethereal and lovely – the silver is just the right tone for my colouring, and the red flecks make it wholly different and interesting. Obviously, I have nothing like this. It’s a keeper! No issues with the formula or application whatsoever.

Nicole by OPI Zero is My Hero swatch

Zero is My Hero (Coke Zero) is a deep, dark burgundy brown which does a good job at mimicking the color of Coca-Cola itself. I thought I was going to LOVE this shade – rich, mysterious, shapeshifting goodness – but unfortunately it was a dud for me. The multifaceted flash you see in the bottle (below) doesn’t translate on the nail, and it’s depth can really only be seen in direct sunlight. It reminds me of China Glaze’s Midtown Magic, another delicious-looking shade that let me down once worn on the nail. Formula on this one was the only less-than-stellar in the bunch too – three coats were required to achieve opacity.

Nicole by OPI Zero is My Hero

Every Month is Oktoberfest vs Zero is My Hero vs Royal Rajah Ruby swatch comparisonEvery Month is Oktoberfest vs Zero is My Hero vs Royal Rajah Ruby swatch comparisonLeft to right: OPI Every Month is Oktoberfest, Nicole by OPI Zero is My Hero, OPI Royal Rajah Ruby

I had a few polishes I thought might compare – OPI Every Month is Oktoberfest and OPI Royal Rajah Ruby. In the first swatch above they all look somewhat similar, but when you angle them the right way, you can see that ‘Oktoberfest’ has more purple in it’s base, and ‘Ruby’ has more red. Against the two of them, it really looks kind of blah, doesn’t it?

Nicole by OPI Seriously Citrus swatch

Seriously Citrus (Sprite) is a fresh mix of green, blue, and white glitter of varying sizes and tones. Not being a glitter fan, I didn’t love this – but it does look nice layered over other polishes – above I applied one coat over RBL’s Oh Snap! on my ring finger, and the contrast was quite pretty. I just HATE the removal of glitter polish SO. MUCH. This was no exception on that front.

Nicole by OPI In Grape Demand swatch

In Grape Demand (Grape Fanta) was another surprising win for me – I don’t typically fall for midtone polishes like this, particularly purple ones, but recently I decided I *needed* Essie Flowerista from the Spring 2015 collection – only to realize that this is essentially the same color. Another great formula on this one.

Dutch'ya Just Love OPI? vs In Grape Demand vs Neon Violet swatch comparisonLeft to right: OPI Dutch’ya Just Love OPI?, Nicole by OPI In Grape Demand, American Apparel Neon Violet 

The colors I have for comparison are clearly not even close to this shade, proving that I don’t buy colors like this normally.

Nicole by OPI The Look is Orange swatch

The Look is Orange (Orange Fanta) is for once an orange I can get behind! There’s not too much yellow in it to clash horribly with my skintone, and there’s a dash of red to make it even more wearable. This is going to be amazing as a pedi shade. Great formula too! You may have already seen me sporting this one on Instagram:

The Look is Orange vs Meet Me At Sunset vs Magnetic Force swatch comparisonLeft to right: Nicole by OPI The Look is Orange, Essie Meet Me At Sunset, LA Colors Magnetic Force

Here, you can see Essie Meet Me At Sunset is darker and more reddened, while LA Colors Magnetic Force is more coral than full-on orange.

Last year OPI did a Coca-Cola themed collection, which didn’t even hit my radar, but comparing the two collections now, I think Nicole by OPI did a better job – all of the Coke franchise flavours are represented in both collections (plus 3 additional ones in the OPI version), but the shades are more on point with this iteration (in my opinion). The only thing I’m not convinced of is that this is a spring-appropriate collection – but it seems more and more brands are releasing shades that don’t follow a seasonal theme, so what do I know? All I can say is that I’ll be hanging on to a few of these polishes – despite the unattractive bottles!

What do you think of this collection? Do you like Nicole by OPI polishes?

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