Archive for category Musings

Yüli Skincare: An introduction and review {plus a story}

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I’m going to preface this post first with a disclaimer – it’s going to be a review, yes, of some wonderful products from Yüli, an organic brand that I’ve fallen head over heels for. But I am going to share a little story with you first that is personal and a bit sad, and I don’t want anyone to feel duped or like I lured them in with a promise of review only to drag you into something else entirely. These products have a close link to my story, and I can’t share one without the other. I hope you don’t mind! (if you do, that’s completely OK – just scroll down till you start seeing pictures to get the scoop on the products!)

Back around Christmastime in 2013, Ryan and I made a huge decision to start trying to have a baby. We had been talking about it for some time, but were trying to wait until ‘the time was right.’ Of course, most of you know that there never really is a right time for these things, so one day I told him that I thought we should just go for it, and of course he was 100% on board (I think he was just waiting for me to make the call lol). I went off the pill right away, mid-pack (stupid!) and off we went. We figured it would take some time before anything happened, and so we weren’t feeling any pressure or stress, which was great. It was just exciting to know that we were taking this next step in our lives together.

To our complete surprise, in early February I started feeling a bit different leading up to my period that month. I was having some cramping, which never happened to me pre-period, and I was dead tired every night, falling asleep by 9pm. When the date my period should have started came and went, I had Ryan grab a pregnancy test from the nearest pharmacy, and with a bit of trepidation I took the test the next morning alone before he got out of bed. I was nervous because I was hoping hard for a positive result, but felt that it was too good to be true. Amazingly, it was positive. I bounded into the bedroom, woke him up, and cried ‘We’re pregnant!’ Sleepy and stunned, Ryan took a second to recover, before he broke into a huge smile. It truly was one of the best days both of us had ever had.

Over the next couple weeks, we shared the news with our families and reveled in our future. We planned, we chose names (seriously!), we basked in the excitement. I would ride the bus home and daydream about how I was going to be a mother soon. It was a time of bliss and contentment.

Two weeks into the pregnancy (which seemed like ages, especially when most people didn’t know our secret), I started having some mild spotting. Immediately I was googling what that could mean and hoping that it was nothing. The second time it happened, Ryan called the Nova Scotia nurses line, and they walked us through some questions. Naturally, they didn’t default to panic mode, but they suggested I see a doctor or go to the hospital in the next couple days to be sure.

The next day, a Monday, I went to work feeling fine. After about an hour, I went to the bathroom, and was stunned to see blood streaming out into the toilet. In shock, I left work without speaking to anyone, and called Ryan and my mom in a tearful panic, saying I was heading to the hospital Emergency unit, where they met me a short while later. After waiting hours to be seen, and having my hope rise when one doctor told me after her preliminary examination that things seemed fine, only to have it plummet when I had an internal ultrasound, after which I started bleeding profusely, the crushing results were that I had had a miscarriage.

If any of you have had bad shit happen to you in your life (which is likely all of you), you can imagine our heartbreak. Without going on and on about it, it was a tough time, made especially tough because you’re falling from such a high. But, life throws you a curveball sometimes. Ryan was extremely supportive, and we got through it, as you do. I’m not trying to minimize it, because it was one of the hardest things I’ve endured in my life, but miscarriages are common – probably more common than some realize – and of course now being pregnant again and with things progressing nicely at 25 weeks, it all seems hazy and the pain has dulled considerably. However, I know that its not as easy to move past for some, and to you my heart truly feels for your pain. I hope if you’re in the early days of that experience, that you feel hope that things usually work out eventually.

So. The REASON I’m telling you all this is because after the miscarriage, my skin went completely whack, and I had to pull out the big guns to do some damage control. First, let me show you what happened after my hormone levels spiked and then came crashing down in such a short time frame:

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I know that for anyone who has struggled with acne, this may seem like small potatoes. First, let me say that it was worse in person – and also understand that when you go from having essentially unblemished skin your entire life, to this, the frustration and dismay is considerable. This occurred one month after the miscarriage, almost overnight. For about 6 weeks afterward, nothing I did to my skin seemed to work on these breakouts – though I was very gentle with my skin (I don’t think bringing out heavy artillery when your skin is reacting like this is helpful), I was diligent in cleaning and hydrating with a simple moisturizer, and wore little makeup, to no avail. And my skin was just a small piece of the body breakdown – my hair fell out in copious amounts, my periods were different (I have always been a 28 day gal to a T), and my mental state was off (I felt angry a lot). For someone who is quite healthy, I found the physical ramifications almost more difficult to deal with than the loss itself.

After about 2 months, my body started to come back to normal – or at least, a new ‘normal’, for me – but I was left with some ‘souvenirs’ of the experience:

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The scarring was almost more noticeable than the acne, as it was much darker in color and required a lot of work to conceal. IT SUCKED. As you do when you’re a beauty blogger (or an aficionado of beauty in general), I did a bunch of research to see what I could use against these unsightly remnants of my hormone roller coaster. Somehow, I came across the brand Yüli, an exceptional skincare line based on the use of cutting-edge green biotechnology. I’d seen a few posts particularly on a product called Cell Perfecto PM, a corrective serum designed to “fade hyperpigmentation, correct dark spots and discoloration, and heal acne scars and sun damage for a brighter, smoother, more even complexion,” where the user seemed to achieve great success – I was sold.

Yüli

Yüli products are not cheap. The Cell Perfecto PM set me back $98US for 1oz. But at this stage, I was desperate for anything to work. As the brand offers a shipping discount ($8 off) when you purchase $150 or more, I also picked up one of their Elixirs, Panacea ($68 for 3.4oz), a rebalancing, clarifying and hydrating toner mist suitable for normal, combination, oily or blemish-prone skin.

Yüli Cell Perfecto PM Yüli Cell PerfectoI’m not sure if you can see, but there are little bits of sediment in the serum, which is just some of the time-released actives – this does not feel gritty on the skin AT ALL.

As Yüli mixes their product fresh to order, it took about a month for my products to arrive – at the beginning of May, right before our trip to Florida. I was so eager to get cracking, I brought both with me, packing the beautiful miron glass bottles with care. Immediately, I could tell that these products were special – my skin was crazy-soft overnight, and felt supple and hydrated. As there were no essential oils used in either product (a rarity in the organic/green beauty world), I experienced zero irritation from either, and it gave me peace of mind every time I used them. The serum is of slightly medium density – it doesn’t feel heavy, but you only need a few drops to cover your face. I apply it especially sparingly to my forehead as if I use too much I can wake up with a slightly greasy feeling there.

Ingredient list for Cell Perfecto PM: Bioregenerating Botanical Infusion (Botanical Glycosides, Sea Minerals Complex), S. chinensis (Jojoba) oil*, M. integrifolia (Macadamia) oil*, O. ficus-indica (Indian Fig) seed oil*, C. inophyllum (Tamanu) oil*, H. rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) oil*, A. uva-ursi (Bearberry) extract*, H. italicum (Helichrysum)* extract, G. glabra (Liquorice) extract*, C. asiatica (Gotu Kola) extract*, Renew Minerals Complex (Methysulfonylmethane (MSM)* Derived from Pine Lignin, Phytosterols derived from Flax), A. linearis (Rooibos) extract*, B. carterii (Frankincense) extract*, D. carota (Carrot) seed extract^^, G. lucidum (Reishi) extract*, L-arginine, L-ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), L-Gluconic Acid (Derived from Kombucha Tea Ferment).

After using the two products for a month, I saw a visible difference in my skin. While the Panacea Elixir was refreshing and helped keep any new breakouts from forming (and quite honestly it just feels lovely), it was the Cell Perfecto that truly won my allegiance to the brand. After that mere month, my acne scars had faded CONSIDERABLY – so much so that using just a foundation covered them easily. After two months, my acne scars were completely healed without a trace. I know that acne scars do fade over time, but with darker skin like mine it usually takes about six months or so. The speediness in which I experienced this fading in unheard of for me! I wish I had taken photos of the evidence, but unfortunately (VERY fortunately), I got pregnant again at which point my brain kind of ~blipped~ and I completely dropped the ball. But if you look at some of my posts from that time [such as this one (six weeks after starting the product), or this one (two months after)], you’ll notice that there’s no scarring to be seen (and I’m fairly certain I’m foundation-less in both). HOO-RICKIN’-RAY.

Ingredient list for Panacea Elixir: D-Aloe barbadenis, R. damascena (rose) hydrolat*, H. italicum (helichrysum) hydrolat*, L. angustifolia (lavender) hydrolat*, H. virginiana (witch hazel) hydrolat^, H. italicum/L. angustifolia (helichrysum/lavender) hydrolat*, frequency enhanced water, vegetable glycerine, C. sativus (cucumber) extract, N. officinale(watercress) extract*, biodynamic fruit enzymes, trace minerals complex, colloidal silver.

To say that I’m a Yüli convert is probably an understatement. Since trying those two products, I’ve picked up a few more from the brand – a replenishment of the Panacea Elixir, plus a 1.7oz of the Cocoon Elixir ($36US) and a jar of the Pure Treatment Mask ($65US). The Cocoon Elixir is just as lovely as the Panacea, and perfect for winter with it’s soothing, healing and hydrating qualities. The Pure mask is your typical powdered clay mask which requires you to add water or your medium of choice to activate it’s detoxifying and repairing properties. I use this every couple of weeks to really clarify and refresh my skin, and it’s quite lovely. As it’s so finely milled, you need only the smallest amount to cover your whole face, so this will last me ages I’m sure.

Yüli Pure MaskYüli Pure MaskClose-up shot of the Pure mask – yikes, look at the gunk coming out of the pores on my nose!

I’ve already got my next purchases planned from the brand – a full-size of the Cocoon Elixir (I’m in love!) and their Halcyon Facial Cleanser, as I’m in need of a new face wash. I’d also like to try another serum – I’m *just* finishing up the bottle of Cell Perfecto after using it almost every single night for the past 7 months (!!!) – and I’m considering buying Liquid Courage, a concentrated antioxidant serum (though the price is a little terrifying at $125 for 1oz). I’m fully committed to trying every single product from the brand, which is entirely possible given it’s perfectly-sized capsule collection.

Yüli

Yup, I definitely have an addiction.

Have you tried anything from Yüli? Have you ever experienced a severe hormonal breakout?

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What I did this summer: Recap and Update!

As summer has now come to an end (sorry guys, I know it’s hard to accept!), I find myself reminiscing about the past season and feeling quite content  that I really made the most of it this year. While I generally have a wonderfully fun-filled summer season every year, this one in particular felt very satisfying. I suspect that due to the lack of weddings (only one as opposed to the usual five or six!), I had an unusual abundance of time in which to spend on my own pursuits.

Because this summer was one of my favourites, I thought perhaps it might be nice to share some of the things I got up to and sort-of re-live the whole season in all it’s glory, all over again :)  Get comfortable, because photos abound!

This summer, I:

1) Traveled to Orlando, Florida

IMG_2294The gals :)

IMG_2271…and the gents (lol)

IMG_2314Driving down Daytona Beach!

2) Went away to Country Stiles B&B for my mom’s birthday

IMG_2376Country Stiles B&B in Amherst, N.S.

IMG_1062Breakfast!

IMG_1063Seriously…dude.

IMG_2385Party games! That’s my momma on the left ;)

IMG_2399The birthday girl

IMG_2440Blowing bubbles at Joggins Fossil Cliffs on the way home

3) Spent a few hours with the pup (aka our 6 year old chocolate lab Ally) at Martinique Beach in Nova Scotia (about an hour away from where we live)

IMG_1088Ryan and Ally

IMG_1090“Throw the stick, throw the stick, throw the stick”

4) Attended a wedding at Hatfield Farms (conveniently located 10 minutes from my house)

IMG_1091It rained for a moment…but then a beautiful rainbow came out!

IMG_1105Let me tell you, riding a mechanical bull is EFFING HARD WORK

5) Had a huge laugh watching co-workers get soaked participating in a charity dunk tank during Public Service Week (an annual event for federal public servants such as myself)

IMG_1122Fun costumes abound! 

IMG_1118Turn out was awesome!

6) Celebrated our anniversary :)

IMG_1125Unfortunately not in person…but in spirit (with beautiful flowers!)

7) Had a weekend away indulging in a lot of wine, laughs and beautiful scenery with my mom at Liscombe Lodge in Nova Scotia

IMG_2988Our spectacular view

IMG_2991And more…

IMG_2996…and more…

IMG_3008…keeps going…

IMG_3013…more…

IMG_3018~sigh~ Utterly wonderful!

IMG_3022Some neat abandoned ships on our way home. 

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8) Made two lots of strawberry jam to give away as gifts (and one lot of raspberry – my fave!)

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9) Saw the AWESOME Canadian band July Talk (amongst other acts such as Death Cab for Cutie and The Killers) at the Big Red Fest in P.E.I.

IMG_1141July Talk with good ol’ Matt Mays

IMG_1138Leah Fay is magnetic…that girl has stage presence! 

10) Bought some Hakuhodo brushes! (they’re lovely!)

IMG_3033Top to bottom: medium pointed Yachiyo brush, J142 brush, G5520BkSL brush, and the G5512BkSL brush

11) Watched a beautiful sunset and enjoyed nature with my mom and my uncle’s family at the Shangri-la Cottages in Noel, Nova Scotia

IMG_1151IMG_3040IMG_3042IMG_3041IMG_3044My mom and uncle

IMG_3049IMG_3051IMG_3059IMG_3061My wee momma ‘playing’ in the mud

IMG_3068My aunt being her sweet and hilarious self

12) Stood in crazy line-ups to eat at this years’ annual Halifax Food Truck Party….so worth it!

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13) Started a new tradition when I made hashbrown casserole for my friend, who’d never had it (we literally have HBC Fridays now lol)

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14) Played my hand (and lost as usual) during my friend’s family’s annual washer toss tourney

IMG_1160Ally lazing about in the middle of the tourney haha

And finally, the biggest event of them all was that we:

15) Created a new member to join our little family in March 2015!!

IMG_3705Our first baby gift :)

I’ve been dying to share the news with all of you, but obviously had to wait ’til the time was right. I’m 14 weeks along now – will be 15 weeks tomorrow – and things have been pretty easy so far, truth be told. Zero ‘morning’ sickness, and mostly just had the regular tiredness that comes along with the first trimester. I’m starting to experience some back pain, but all in all its been very stress-free and relaxed. I’ve been very fortunate! It definitely makes me love being pregnant that much more :D

So, aside from a very busy summer, this is another big reason why I haven’t been posting as often. Bedtime comes early! ;) And because I’ve been super busy with work, taking French lessons, working extra shifts at Clinique, and trying to get this darn condo sold, my spare time is often spent VERY low-key – mostly just reading and sleeping (lol). I’ve also started taking prenatal yoga classes once a week, which will be awesome but DAAAAAMN I’m not very good at slowing down, huh?

Now that I’m starting to get a bit of my energy back, I’m hoping to post more regularly. I haven’t been buying many cosmetics due to saving for the new house and in preparation for the baby, but I have my ‘Operation Reduce‘ that is still on-going, and I’m working on a couple new ideas to talk about. And every so often, I do pick up a treat ;)

Overall, life has been pretty amazing these past few months! I can only imagine it will continue as we start on this new, exciting adventure. I’m so totally ready (as much as you can be, I suppose)!!!  I hope all of you have had equally wonderful summer holidays – don’t forget to think back on all the fun you had, once the weather turns and you’re cursing the bitter cold! Maybe those memories will sustain you ’til next year ;)

How was your summer? Do tell!

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A life update!

Hi guys ~waves~ I have been seriously absent the last while! I don’t like to do the whole apology thing, because this is a blog and it’s supposed to be fun and not stressful – we all have lives, after all – but I did want to give a little insight as to what’s been going on with me lately (because again, this is a blog! :)).

February was a month of emotional roller coasters. I’m not prepared to tell all just now (in time), but suffice to say there was exciting new sandwiched between two traumatic events, and wrapping my head around all of it has really taken up most of my brain space. On top of it all, my bf – who was working in Newfoundland if you recall – has been off work since December, waiting to hear when he would get sent back to NL for the 2nd phase of the project he was working on.  Recently we got word that it didn’t look likely that he’d be going back, which means he was going to be looking for a job again. Funds have been pretty tight over the last few months, so to discover that he kind of was waiting in vain was, to put it plainly – SHITTY. And then last week, both the car and the washing machine conked out.  YAY!  So many *fun* things to deal with, right?  UGH.  While we’ve been trying to stay positive about it all, some days it’s just like ‘OK dude, some GOOD news, please!!’  And my skin due to all the stress is an absolute disaster.

IMG_2036Broken old crappy thing. When I went to run it last, it made a screeching sound and started to smoke :(

Happily, a couple days ago things started to turn around (I hope!).  He got a call from someone connected to the same company he was working for in NL, who had an opportunity for him to work out West – a similar set up to NL where he’d be working a number of days away, and then would have a handful of days home. Obviously it sucks that we’ll be doing the long-distance thing again, but it’s work and it won’t be forever. You gotta do what you gotta do, right?

So, to celebrate (?) we bought a washing machine, and today we’re going looking for a new car. It lifts so much weight off your shoulders to pick off the stressors one by one. Hopefully as things improve, so will my skin – having never lived with acne, I honestly don’t know what to do with it, and I’m worried if I try and tackle it too aggressively, it’ll just get worse. So I’m trying to keep my routine simple, and wash my face as soon as I get home so that its not covered in makeup for longer than it has to be. Until it clears, face shots on the blog will be next to none, so here’s hoping it goes away soon!

Haier Washing MachineNew washing machine on it’s way!

And that’s my story in a nutshell.  I hope to share more of the details with you at some point, but right now is not the time. I’m going to try and get my focus back and start posting more regularly again – I guess if Ryan is away at work I’ll have more time on my hands as well, so no excuse ;)  In the meantime, I hope you can bear with me! I know we all go through tough times so I’m not going to add more stress by worrying about not posting and all that jazz, but I did want to share why I’ve been semi-absent. Life, eh?

I hope everyone is well and that spring is starting to really show its face for you all! Here, we had a huge snowstorm Wednesday (almost all businesses were closed, even the grocery stores!) so yea…no spring here yet lol. As usual we’ll probably just have a lot of rain and then dive headfirst into summer. C’est la vie!

March 2014 Bedford, Nova Scotia It’s really warm and wet here today so the snow is melting and sun is peeking out!

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Switching Gears

I’m on day 5 of being off on a little mini-vacay from work (though, I’m back tomorrow – boo!), and as you may have noticed, with all that downtime I didn’t fill it with awesome, stupendous blog posts.  I know we are all allowed a break when we need it, but I’ve been feeling slightly guilty about not writing more – March overall was admittedly pretty quiet for me.  I’d like to blame that on my significantly decreased spending on cosmetics, but that’s a cop-out – there are plenty of other creative ways I could talk about makeup and beauty (see particularly adept bloggers here, here and here).  More than anything, it’s been the brain shift that’s prevented me from posting more often; this blog has been predominantly to showcase new products I’ve purchased, and while I’ve had a few other bits and bobs here and there like themed posts, or skincare chats, my creative juices haven’t been flowing as often as they should.  Coming up with new ways to portray my enthusiasm for makeup (because – regardless if I’m posting about it or not, I’m ALWAYS excited by it!) has been more of a challenge than I anticipated.

Clinique Face Chart (3)I went to a Clinique school in the middle of March, and we’ve got NAIL POLISH (again…we used to have it but it got discontinued back in 2005) and it’s pretty awesome.  This is a face chart I did that we needed to find a complimentary polish to go with it (check out Party Red, bottom) – I think it turned out lovely!

Here is the good news, though, about my ‘break’ over this long weekend.  I had several days to just relax, and process, and mentally and physically clear out old crap taking up space (I went through all of my financial documents, three accordion file folders full, and turfed stuff that was dated as far back as 2003!  WOOOOOO!!!).  And as tends to happen, my brain started revving up again, and I came up with a few ideas for upcoming posts that I hope you’ll like.  Nothing too groundbreaking, but topics that are relevant and encourage discussion about our favorite topic: beauty :)   *Though I must confess – lately I’ve been really into fashion as well, and any extra cash has gone toward beefing up my paltry wardrobe.  And a new blog I stumbled upon, Meek n Mild, is seriously sparking my sartorial desires – her style is pretty much where I want to be!

Cheap Monday High Waist Skinny JeansI bought these high-waisted skinny jeans by Cheap Monday that are effing fabulous!!  I though for sure high-waist + my body shape would be awful, but actually they look better on me than I think they do on this model =)

I hope that I don’t disappoint readers out there who are looking for a constant stream of product reviews – I’m sorry, my budget just doesn’t accommodate for that right now!  And additionally, as tends to happen, I’m through the stage of wanting to buy everything because of my restrictive situation, and now into the phase of pulling back and enjoying what I own rather than continuously adding to the mass.  I’m having fun playing and discovering new techniques; learning more about my skintone and type and what works best; and using what I already own in new and innovative ways.  I hope to share all of these things with you, because while accruing new pretties is totally fun and addictive, the point is to USE all of this stuff, is it not??  And as I keep telling myself, this situation is temporary and it won’t always be this way for me (in fact, I might be getting a roommate for May and June! Yay for splitting costs :P), so stick around (particularly in April, as I have been saving to splurge during Sephora’s annual VIB sale – woohoo!)!

MAC Beauty Powder in Shell Pearl (4)And…I did buy this in March (which is all Denise’s fault), so there is that review to look forward to!

End of PSA and the use of too many parentheses. 

Thanks for your understanding!! :D

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Life or Something Like It

As many of you know, I’m having a rough go of it lately with respect to finances.  I don’t really know how to handle this situation mentally and emotionally – I don’t want to come across as a whiner, or like I’m some sort of a ‘victim’ of circumstance.  I also don’t want to be one of those people who sits around not DOING anything to change their situation – generally I’m a fairly pro-active person.  But the way things are now, well – the whole issue is tricky, and not easily solved by just ‘doing something.’  First, there are so many options (and if you’ve been reading for a while, you know me and options = anxiety): I could get a roommate.  I could get a serious part-time job (not just hours here and there with Clinique).  I could sell and buy a new, smaller, more affordable hole-in-the-wall place.  I could rent my condo and then rent an affordable apartment to live in.  Everyone has great suggestions for me, and are trying to help the best way they can.  Problem is, I am the type of person that can see merit in just about any idea a person has, so every new suggestion seems like ‘The Best Choice.’  And every option has a downside, which makes it easy to cast aside.  I like my space.  I like my free time.  I love my condo – maybe not the location, which (as much as I like the area) means I’m terribly isolated from almost everyone I know, but the actual building and unit itself is damn near perfect.  SO.  What the heck do I do?!?

Essentially since I returned from New Zealand I’ve been a lesser version of myself.  I’m tired often, I’m unproductive, I’m generally uninterested (in reading, in work, in running, in being social, in romance – take your pick)…I just feel overall blah.  And everyone around me has all these great things happening and going on, and as truly happy as I am for them, what it seems to mean for me is that no one really notices that I’m struggling, that I’m trying to maintain this joie de vivre that I’ve always had, but that I’m failing.  And I’m not interested in bringing them down with me.

Note: I can write all this here because the majority of people in my life don’t read my blog.  Typing that sentence feels kind of shitty, actually, when you think about it.  But I don’t hold it against them; the reason I started the blog and then continued it was because it was so amazing to me to actually meet other like-minded individuals, when I truly thought there were none.  So they really have no reason to read my ramblings on makeup and beauty. 

Last week I realized that I spend almost 100% of my free time looking at makeup etc. on the internet.  I come home most evenings to just sit at my computer and stare at the screen, making lists upon lists of products to try, and then repeat the same behavior every single night.  I’ve been pondering this behavior a lot and trying to figure it out.  Sure, I’m kind of obsessed with beauty and I sure do love makeup and all the pretty things that come out here and there.  But I’ve never taken it this far.  It’s never taken over.

I think the reason I’m behaving this way, is because it gives me something to hope for.  Even on a small scale, regardless of the fact that ‘hoping’ for more makeup may be sad, and pathetic in it’s way, nevertheless – making wishlists of beauty products allows me to imagine a time when I might have more money to actually indulge myself, sort of like acting in a self-fulfilling way; if I write these products down, it’s like saying ‘I will be able to purchase that, someday’. It’s not to say that I don’t buy makeup at all now – obviously that’s not the case (see all the posts over the last 6 months!).  But every single purchase comes with a price: guilt.  And just like anything else, once I deem something as a ‘no-go,’ it tends to be all I think about.

Anyway, that’s a little bit of what’s going on with me lately.  Sorry to be a downer, but you know everyone has low points in their lives, and this just happens to be one of mine.  While this blog is dedicated to beauty, it doesn’t mean I’m a robot without feelings, and blogs by nature are a place to express yourself.  It just so happens that my expression today is sadness.  Additionally, sometimes its easier to confess to those you’re not as close to – for the most part I’ve been keeping my feelings under wraps with my loved ones, as I find those who care about you most want to give you advice, rather than just be an ear.  And I think right now I’m kind of maxed out on advice.

I will return to the regular light and fluffy posts now – in fact, I’m just about to write a review on Chanel’s quad in Vanités.  If you stuck through this whole ramble, I applaud you.  Life isn’t always fun, but you have to have some lows to appreciate the highs.

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The Best Of: Beauty Blogs!

It’s that time of year again, when everyone likes to compose their ‘top 5/10/20′ etc. lists which sum up opinions of what made an impact on them during the outgoing year.  I like reading these a lot, but am not fully sold on composing them myself; my lists tend to be quite small, as I’m terribly discerning when it comes to what constitutes as a favorite – and also because I rarely love a product consistently enough and get bored quickly (I’m a fickle beast, I know).  However, when I develop a loyalty to someone or something, it truly sticks.  The following list is dedicated to my absolute favorite beauty blogs, which give me such pleasure to read and are well-deserved of recognition (not that they need my help, mind you, but I always love to give credit where credit it due!).  And so, without further ado, here are the blogs that rocked my world in 2012:

1) Best Makeup Swatches
- Bloomin’ Beauty
Danielle’s swatches are of perfect clarity, and her makeup collection is large enough that she easily has some of the best comparison swatches I’ve ever seen.  She took a well-deserved hiatus in the fall, and is STILL one of the best resources I’ve found online for product swatches!

- The Beauty Look Book
Sabrina’s swatches are a great reference point for any beauty enthusiast, and she also has a vast high-end makeup collection, which is invaluable when you don’t want to waste your hard earned money on duplicate shades (and she almost always does comparison swatches).  Also, she has the good fortune to live somewhere that seems perpetually sunny, and is able to capture the nuances and sparkle of the shades in the sunlight.

2) Best Polish Swatches
- Ommorphia Beauty Bar
I have the proud honour of being one of the first readers of Eugenia’s blog – I don’t recall how I stumbled upon it, but I am SO thankful I did!  Even looking back to her first photos, her swatches were still perfection, and have impossibly improved even since then.  She is, bar none, the very first resource I go to when I want to see shots of the newest collections, and somehow can turn even a ho-hum shade into something I should desperately covet.

- Burb Beauty
I came across Lola’s blog while looking for comparison swatches of some random shade (I habit I have of doing before I buy any new polishes!) – she had been posting a series called ‘Purge Wars’ in which she swatched potential dupe shades within her collection, and instantly I was hooked.  She has exceptional swatches and a HUGE collection of shades, writes concise reviews, and is an all-around lovely person :) Plus, an additional bonus for me is her skintone is similar to mine, which make choosing shades that much easier!

3) Inspires the Most Lemmings
- Bloomin’ Beauty
For the reasons I noted above, plus Danielle’s exuberance when describing her own particular favorites and seeing her pretty face wearing the products, she easily makes almost every item she shows lemming-worthy!

- Ommorphia Beauty Bar
Again, same reasons as above – honestly, this gal KILLS me every day with another new polish to add to my wishlist.  On top of her fantabulous swatches, her way with words will hook you in Every. Damn. Time.

4) Best for Brown-Skinned Gals
- Makeup and Beauty Blog
If a product catches my eye that I’m unsure will look good on my skintone, I needn’t go any further than Karen’s blog, as she generally has reviews of any new product coming out, and is very close in color to myself.  With my penchant for online shopping lately, having a reference point helps immensely as not all shades will work for everyone, and some are less pigmented than others, which can render them almost useless to me.  Karen most definitely saves the day!

- Weekend Ramblings
As a relative newcomer to Radhika’s blog, I was so pleased to discover it in my search for shade swatches, as it gives me such a better idea on whether or not certain colors will work for me / show up on my skintone.  As there aren’t a lot of blogs featuring darker skintones, I am so grateful to find another that reviews current, department store products (as we all know I’m a snob)!

5) Most Likely to Have You Laughing Out Loud
- Makeup Morsels
The very first time I read MM’s blog, she had drawings she made of a stick figure doing lunges – how can you not love a gal who can get silly like that?  I laughed my ass off, and continue to do so each and every time I read a post – her witty humor and hilarious geekery are SO up my alley.  I came to realize that her stick figures are one of her signatures, and every time she pulls them out my day is made that much better.

- Beyond Just Beauty
Sometimes I can get pretty wordy with my posts, but Amy beats me hands down in that category!  What makes her posts so much more worthwhile to get through though, is her self-depreciating humor and her natural ability to tell a story.  Add to that her insanely fabulous vocab and you’ve got one excellent read on your hands!  Her blog title really tells it all – it’s not just beauty reviews that I keep coming back for!

- Beauty Reflections
I adore a good quirk in a person, and Tracy’s got quirkiness in spades!  She’s got to have one of the best imaginations out there (hello, Zombie Apocalypse!), and infuses every post with comic phrases and a huge dose of fun.  She’s the one you KNOW would be the life of the party and you just can’t help but absorb her cheerful energy every single time.

6) Best FOTD
- Messy Wands
Every single face shot that Xiao posts is just so insanely gorgeous that you essentially feel like buy everything she’s showing right on the spot.  She always uses makeup in a unique way, pairing colors and using techniques I’d never even think of, and is  fearless when it comes to pretty much any look.  When I’m in need of inspiration, this is one of the first places I turn to.

- Drivel About Frivol
I almost feel unworthy even trying to sum up Kate in a few words, because she is just in a league all her own.  I have yet to come across another blog that manages to showcase incredibly unusual yet still beautiful looks – the way she pairs what seems like odd color combinations together and manages to look amazing nonetheless is a skill I’d LOVE to learn!

7) Most Original Content
- Eye Heart It
While I can appreciate a structured post in which you can scan the goods in mere seconds and move on, true enjoyment when I sit down to go through my RSS feed comes from those posts you can really get into; the ones you can relate to and which feel a bit more ‘real’.  The beauty of Larie’s blog lies in the fact that she doesn’t follow a formula – she marches to her own beat, and nails it every single time, without feeling scattered (as I sometimes can be).  I always feel like what she has to say carries weight to it – you want to listen to what she has to say, and it always feels authentic.

- Beauty Reductionista
In the original sense, a blog was a tool to use in which you could discuss your opinions and personal reflections on your life and interests.  To me, Liz’s blog is the epitome of this.  Her interest (one of them, anyway) is makeup and beauty (and candles!! LOL), and in between we learn about her life and gain insight into her personality.  There’s a reason she has a strong following: because while reading her blog, she becomes someone you want to know, and someone you care about.  Her personality BLAZES through, and the fact that she writes about makeup is just an added bonus, because she could write about dust bunnies and I would keep coming back for more.

8) Most Thorough
- theNotice
Rae’s reviews are, simply put, perfect.  She has the perfect combination of information, photos (arm and face swatches), and personality, which makes for endlessly good reading.  It can be a fine line between detail and becoming detached, but she manages to pull it off and make it look easy in the meantime!

- The Beauty Sample
Becca’s blog style reminds me the most of my own in the fact that her enthusiasm for makeup mirrors mine – and we can both get a bit chatty :)   It’s a pleasure to read what she has to say, as she takes the time to truly evaluate a product and explain each nuance.  With the hoards of cosmetics I accumulate, this is important to me as I want to know exactly why *this* product is not like another product I own and thus is justifiable in purchasing (word of caution – you WILL find yourself enabled! lol).

9) Most Refined
- Glossed in Translation
Ack!  Elizabeth has truly got to be ‘the fairest of them all,’ and this doesn’t just refer to her porcelain looks.  I’m certain she’s much younger than I, yet when she writes I feel as if I’m hearing from an expert in the matter.  Her choice of products is always enviably sophisticated, and I feel that when she makes a purchase she uses exceptional judgement and taste.  I always feel that her reviews are well thought-out and each opinion is not made lightly!

- My Lucite Dreams
Aside from Taylor’s flawless skin, which could sell just about any product, she presents herself in a way that always makes me feel calm, cool, and collected.  She is the epitome of sophistication and has a well-edited stash of cosmetics that are always presented beautifully and tastefully.  She rarely features anything but the very best!

10) Most Flawless Technique
- Call It Beauty
I’m fairly certain Dani could just have a lipstick blog and I would be just as satisfied – girl can WEAR some color on that gorgeous pout! – but she’s also got a serious talent for eye makeup as well, and when she puts it all together, it truly is stunning!  With her sweet features, the contrast between them and the touch of edginess she has with makeup makes for an absolutely fabulous juxtaposition which I always find myself trying to recreate (to no avail, sadly!).

- Glitter Geek
~sigh~ Those dimples!  Arianne has an unfair advantage because of her chiseled features, of course – but even despite her lovely genes, she clearly has this makeup thing DOWN.  Even the most basic look turns into something magical, and at the same time, she makes it feel achievable.  She is a perfect example of someone who knows her face and coloring well, and uses that knowledge in the best way possible (which is, to make us all terribly jealous!).

…And now you all know what I spend my time doing most hours of the day! :)  Reading all of these blogs, ogling over makeup, laughing at their hilarity and commiserating when they have a bad day.  For someone who doesn’t really have any friends who share my love of cosmetics, discovering beauty blogs several years ago was like coming home.  Even though my spending has been somewhat curbed, beauty is still in my blood and this is how I get my fix – living vicariously through all of these lovely ladies!  So, if you haven’t already, I highly suggest you start reading them all, stat!  I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Happy New Year to everyone – I hope you all celebrate the end of another year in the very best of ways!!  See you in 2013! :D

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Blogging Woes

I’m noticing a bit of a trend happening right now in the blogosphere…seems that a few of us are feeling a lack of inspiration to some degree – something I completely understand.  What’s frustrating is that I don’t think it necessarily means disinterest or that we still don’t feel excitement about beauty – god knows that I still spend hours trying to find products for my ‘ideal skincare regimen’ and I continuously ogle over everything in Sephora even though I need to hang on to my money for dear life right now.  The latter I think is partially why I’m kind of stuck: when you’re feeling financial pressures, indulging in excess (for sure any further makeup purchases IS an excess for me) can be quite stressful.  So, even though I have a few products to write about, I almost feel guilty that I have anything new in the first place (and some products I didn’t even purchase!).  It’s sort of a moot point now since they’re all being used, so I just need to get over it, right?

Of course, the other side of the equation is that it’s the holiday season, and I’m busy as F#@K.  I’ve decided since New Zealand that there is no point in denying it any longer – I’m a party girl (you saw the photo evidence!).  Yep, that’s what I am, a social butterfly, and while I have a serious hermit side to me, my outgoing side is clearly stronger.  On top of that, I’m working shifts at Clinique to supplement my income, so these two things combined leave me with about one night a week to myself.  No offense, but on those nights I do NOT want to be sitting in front of my computer, but rather laying prone on the couch in front of the (faux) fireplace drinking rum and eggnog.  Ahhhh, yes.

Today is my day off from my regular job, but I didn’t have much of a weekend as I worked at Clinique yesterday, and I was busy all day/night Saturday (though it WAS all fun stuff – writing letters from Santa with my mom and mail carrier uncle, and going to see The Nutcracker ballet/symphony with my mom, our annual holiday event :)).  So my inclination is to totally veg and do a whole lot of nothing before my 13 hour day tomorrow (since I work at Clinique tomorrow night).  However, it’s also stressing me out to be so behind on blogging, so I think a few posts are in order first before I can truly relax.

Fear not my friends, as this whole situation is only temporary, and I’ve already begun mentally drafting out how I want Beauty Obsessed to play out in the New Year.  There will be changes: aside from aesthetically, the blog needs to reflect my personality better and follow a different path – I feel like I have been *trying* to model myself after other, more popular blogs, but it doesn’t feel right to me and hence, I write less.  So in the New Year, a more authentic blog will be coming  your way.  I hope you like it!

*End of rambling PSA.  Back to work now!*

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