Things I do in my spare time: Research skincare oils

Alright guys, prepare yourselves for a MASSIVE post! I know that I haven’t been posting as much over the summer, but trust me when I say that just because I’m not talking about cosmetics here does not mean that they’re not on my mind 24/7 (sad but true). Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time doing research on various things, and one of the biggest time consuming endeavours was reading up on skincare oils. Over the weeks, I’ve been compiling information on various aspects of oils, trying to figure out what’s best for my skin. The green/organic beauty world is just so FULL of new products and things to try that it can get a little overwhelming. I decided to take matters into my own hands and trust in my own research to decide which products are worth my time. There are two main components that I look at when choosing a skincare oil: it’s comedogenic rating, and it’s fatty acid profile, both of which I get into detail below.

If you’re at all interested in this kind of stuff, I suggest to grab your bevvie of choice and get comfy, because this is a DOOZY.

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Comedogenicity

The first criteria I have when choosing a facial oil is it’s comedogenicity. Though my skin is not very acneic (usually), it is on the oily side and does get congested fairly easily, so I try to avoid any oils that may clog my pores and exacerbate the situation. I think this point is extremely important for everyone to note, because while facial oils are becoming more and more accepted in skincare, there are still some who get nervous at the thought of wearing oils on their skin, especially if they are acneic or feel their skin is already oily. So, it’s important to know that there are some oils that are better suited for particular skin types – some oils have no or low comedogenicity, and can likely be used without fear of breakouts or clogged pores. A final point to note on this topic is that clogged pores and acne are not a concern for everyone, so to those with perhaps drier skin or skin that never breaks out and pores are a myth (I know a gal that literally has ZERO pores that I can see – bitch!), you can likely use oils with a higher comedogenicity without fear. I also use this list to determine which oils might be well suited for my body skin, as it’s much drier due to my eczema and can handle an oil that’s more comedogenic because it rarely breaks out.

Below, I have a list of oils and a few other common skincare ingredients with their corresponding comedogenic scores out of 5 (I found this information through researching several different articles on comedogenicity).

Non-comedogenic:
Hemp seed oil (0/5)
Mineral oil* (0/5)
Petrolatum* (0/5)
Shea butter (0/5)
Sunflower oil (0/5)
Safflower oil (0/5) *high linoleic acid variety only
 
Low Comedogenic Properties:
Castor oil (1/5)
Jojoba oil (1/5)
Pomegranate oil (1/5)
Rosehip oil (1/5)
Calendula oil (1/5)
Emu oil (1/5)
Squalene (1/5)
Grape seed oil (1/5)
Sea buckthorn oil (1/5)
 
Med. Comedogenic Properties:
Almond oil (2/5)
Apricot kernel oil (2/5)
Avocado oil (2/5)
Baobab seed oil (2/5)
Borage oil (2/5)
Pumpkin seed oil (2/5)
Olive oil (2/5)
Hazelnut oil (2/5)
Tamanu oil (2/5)
Sesame oil (2/5)
Beeswax (2/5)
Vitamin E (tocopherol) (2/5)
Vitamin A palmitate (2/5)
 
Comedogenic:
Corn oil (3/5)
Evening primrose oil (3/5)
Soybean oil (3/5)
Cotton seed oil (3/5)
Cocoa butter (4/5)
Coconut oil (4/5)
Wheat germ oil (5/5)
 
*Some of you may be surprised to see mineral oil and petroleum as non-comedogenic – I was! There are a ton of articles out there for and against mineral oil, so I suggest doing some of your own reading and coming to your own conclusions on it. But it looks like if you were avoiding it because you felt it clogged your pores – that might not be the case! As I said, do a little reading on it to get the full picture.
 
Aroma Therapy

Fatty Acid Profiles

This is a topic to which I’ve only recently been doing extensive research on. After coming across Minimalism Beauty Dawn’s post on using carrier oils to cleanse the face and her finding that oils higher in linoleic acids may be better suited to acneic or clog-prone skin, I started looking up the fatty acid profiles of a number of oils that I see listed in a lot of my skincare. Without getting too technical, different oils contain different types of fatty acids, and each acid type behaves differently on the skin. Below is a list of the most common fatty acids I’ve noted, along with a brief profile.

Oleic acid - very moisturizing, absorbs well, regenerative, anti-inflammatory
Linoleic acid - improves skin’s barrier function, soothes itchy, dry skin, retains moisture, anti-inflammatory
Linolenic acid - helps reduce acne, retains moisture, strengthens skin’s barrier function, anti-inflammatory
Gamma linolenic acid – exceptional at improving skin’s barrier function, soothes itchy, dry skin, retains moisture, helps with acne-prone skin, absorbs quickly, improves skin suppleness and flexibility, anti-inflammatory
Palmitic acid – forms occlusive barrier on skin and protects it
Palmitoleic acid – prevents burns, wounds, scratches; anti-microbial, heals damaged skin
Stearic acid – improves moisture retention, increases skin flexibility, repairs skin damage

In her research, Dawn found that sebum in oily, congested and acne-prone skin tends to be made up of mostly oleic acid, and they need a balance of linoleic and oleic acids to avoid or lessen breakouts and congestion. So, by applying predominantly linoleic acid-based oils to these skin types, you can achieve this balance. Though she doesn’t mention it in her post, I would think the flip side would also be true – drier skins probably lack oleic acid in their sebum (conversely having more linoleic acid in their natural oils), and therefore using oils high in these fatty acids would help balance them out and make them less dry over time.

Of course, being the nerd I am, I put together yet ANOTHER list that notes the fatty acid profiles of many of the oils we see in skincare today (note that I omitted some of the fatty acids that had extremely low values or which were not part of the common list of acids I noted above).

Higher in Linoleic Acid:
Black Cumin Seed oil - 56% linoleic, 23% oleic, 12% palmitic
Borage oil - 39% linoleic, 20% GLA, 18% oleic, 10% palmitic
Evening Primrose oil - 73% linoleic, 9% GLA, 8% oleic, 6% palmitic
Grapeseed oil - 71% linoleic, 16% oleic, 7% palmitic
Hemp Seed oil - 52% linoleic, 10% linolenic, 10% oleic, 6% palmitic
Kukui Nut oil - 40% linoleic, 26% alpha-linolenic, 25% oleic, 6% palmitic
Pumpkin oil – 57% linoleic, 23% oleic, 13% palmitic
Rosehip oil - 44% linoleic, 34% linolenic, 14% oleic
Safflower oil - 68-85% linoleic, 8-30% oleic, 4-10% palmitic
Soybean oil - 53% linoleic, 23% oleic, 11% palmitic, 7% linolenic
Wheat Germ oil - 58% linoleic, 17% palmitic, 12% oleic, 9% linolenic
 
Balanced:
Argan oil - 42-48% oleic, 30-38% linoleic
Baobab oil - 30-40% oleic, 24-34% linoleic, 18-30% palmitic
Cranberry oil - 30-38% linoleic, 22-26% oleic, 20-38% linolenic
Sesame oil - 46% linoleic, 39% oleic, 9% palmitic
Tamanu oil - 41% oleic, 30% linoleic, 15% palmitic, 13% stearic
 
Higher in Oleic Acid:
Apricot kernel oil - 69% oleic, 22% linoleic
Avocado oil - 63% oleic, 16% palmitic, 10% linoleic
Camellia oil - 79% oleic, 7% linoleic
Carrot Seed oil - 68% oleic, 11% linoleic
Hazelnut oil - 79% oleic, 12% linoleic
Macadamia Nut oil - 54% oleic, 21% palmitoleic, 8% palmitic
Olive oil - 55% oleic, 20% palmitic, 18% linoleic
Palm Fruit oil - 43% palmitic, 41% oleic, 10% linoleic
Shea Nut oil - 73% oleic, 14% linoleic, 9% stearic
Sunflower oil - 70-88% oleic, 3-20% linoleic, 3-6% palmitic
Sweet Almond oil - 67% oleic, 25% linoleic, 6% palmitic

As I have been using facial oils now almost exclusively for several years, I can say with confidence that I believe this theory of using linoleic acid-rich oils on oilier skin does work! At least for my skin, I’ve found that by using oils with lower oleic acid profiles, I’ve had much more success in keeping my skin less congested and less oily overall. It’s certainly been trial and error, especially when a lot of the oils that are being marketed to death right now are also often high in oleic acid (camellia and argan come to mind). My skin reacted VERY poorly to camellia oil, and argan, which is a more balanced oil, hasn’t been the miracle cure-all that it’s touted to be in my experience. I can use it sparingly when I feel a bit on the drier side (at this time of year its mostly after I’ve done a clay mask or something of that sort), but regularly use has not been very fruitful, as it leaves my skin feeling very oily and not as soft and smooth as other oils have done.

So far, I’ve had great success with several linoleic acid-rich oils, such as rosehip (probably my favourite to date, with a low comedogenicty rating) and currently organic grapeseed (another one with low comedogenicty), with which I’m using to oil cleanse my face at night. In fact, after I cleanse with the grapeseed oil, my skin is left feeling so comfortable that I’ve been skipping applying anything else at all, and I wake up with baby-soft skin. Seriously, it’s been absolutely amazing! (If you’re curious, I purchased the oil from Mountain Rose Herbs for $17.50US for an 8.5oz bottle) Eventually, I’d like to try something with hemp seed oil in it too (a drier-feeling oil with zero comedogenicity and a low oleic acid profile).

There are a number of other facial oils that do not have the average acid profiles of those above – these I like to think of as ‘speciality oils.’ A lot of these oils have exceptional qualities not found in the oils above, and my plan is to incorporate some of them into my routine as well to reap their unique benefits. Here are a few on my radar.

Other Acids:
Pomegranate seed oil - 78% punicic, 7% linoleic, 6% oleic (cell regenerating, helps repair sun damage, helps reduce collagen damage)
Castor oil - ricinoleic 88%, 4% oleic, 4% linoleic (alcohol soluble, humectant, analgesic)
Unrefined coconut oil - 49% lauric, 19% myristic, 9% palmitic, 8% caprylic, 7% capric, 7% oleic (anti-oxidant, helps with sun damaged skin, penetrates hair shaft)
Sea Buckthorn oil – 31% palmitic, 29% palmitoleic, 28% oleic, 7% linoleic  (very healing, anti-microbial)
Jojoba oil - 71% gadoleic, 14% erucic, 11% oleic (astringent, forms non-occlusive barrier on skin, easily penetrates)C
Meadowfoam Seed oil - 62% gadoleic, 18% bras sic, 13% erucic (similar to jojoba, forms non-occlusive barrier on skin, easily penetrates)
Palm Kernel oil – 48% lauric, 16% oleic, 16% myristic, 8% palmitic (anti-bacterial)

You can bet that I’ll be getting my hands on some pomegranate seed oil, stat! I currently use unrefined coconut oil as my sole body moisturizer and have been for well over a year, to great success. I have a facial oil now that contains jojoba oil as one of the main ingredients, and I’ve found it very satisfactory in it’s efficacy – not greasy and penetrates quickly.

After doing all this research, I have a good list of oils that I always keep a lookout for when making a purchase. Just to make this post EVEN LONGER, I’ve noted them below:

Face
- any time; non-comedogenic and low in oleic acid: rosehip, grape seed, hemp seed, kukui nut, safflower, jojoba, pomegranate
– night; med. comedogenicity, but low oleic acid or balanced acid profile: pumpkin, argan, cranberry, sesame, baobab, tamanu
day, winter; med. comedogenicity but very protective: baobab, pumpkin, tamanu

Body
– baobab (balanced, occlusive)
– tamanu (balanced, occlusive)
– avocado (moisturizing, occlusive)
– argan (balanced)
– sesame (balanced, occlusive)
– macadamia nut (moisturizing, healing, occlusive)
– olive (moisturizing, occlusive)
– palm fruit (occlusive, moisturizing)

Marketplace-palm-oil-largePhoto source

Final Word

With all these considerations in mind, learning the basics of these oils has made choosing skincare products much easier overall. If I see a product that sounds appealing, I scan the ingredient list first, and if the oil content is composed of a mix I think that will not benefit my skin type, I pass it over. It’s reduced my wish list considerably (which really needed to happen anyway), and I love feeling informed and confident in my purchases.

I know that using oils in skincare may not be for everyone, and that this post might not be as helpful to you. But my hope is that it IS useful for some, and I figured that since I literally have spent hours doing this research for myself, I may as well share it with you guys too! I really do always have beauty on the brain, even if I’m not posting about it as frequently at the moment.

Do you use facial oils? What do you look for when purchasing an oil or other skincare item?

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It’s Transition Time! Segueing from summer into fall with Hourglass Icon

I’m Guilty!

I need to preface all of my posts over the next few weeks with that phrase, because I fear the response I will get when I admit that I’m ready for summer to end and I’m eager for fall.

I know, I know. But we love the sunshine! And the warm weather! And winter in Canada is brutal and goes on forEV-ER!  Yes, my friends, I know all of this. And when winter rolls around I’ll be right there with you dreaming of the beautiful sunny days of yore… I love summer as much as the next person, and here in Canada we are PARTICULARLY eager for summer to arrive, but once August hits, no matter if we’ve had an awesome summer (like we did this year) or a shit one (where it rains 75% of the time), I’m always super-keen to get the fall party started. Call me crazy, but…I just really like the change of seasons.

I’ve been doing a bit of transitioning with my makeup over the past few weeks in preparation for autumn’s impending arrival. Though it’s still been quite hot here, and tons of sun the last couple weeks, I’m slowly adding autumnal aspects to my makeup because, gosh darn it I like a theme! The other gals of the Beauty Envy Bags were on the same wavelength, and so today we’re each going to show you our own takes on transitional summer-to-fall looks!  It was perfect timing, because last week during a moment of Sephora insanity (you know you get it too), I picked up NARS Mekong eyeshadow (which I ended up taking back – hel-LO, eyeshadow reduction!?!) and a perfect product (sample) fell into my lap to assist me in my cause: Hourglass Opaque Rouge Liquid Lipstick in Icon (full size $33CAD).

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Icon is a gorgeous blue-based red that just plain SCREAMS fabulous (my kind of lippie!). Hourglass carries the shade in this Liquid Lipstick form, in a Creme Lipstick in bullet form, in a High Shine Gloss, and in a Long Wear Lip Liner. I had never really considered trying it before in any version, but the 500 point perk at Sephora happened to be an Hourglass sample set (also including sample packs of their three foundations, a sample vial of Veil Mineral Primer, and the Film Noir mascara), and I couldn’t pass it up. The Liquid Lipstick formula is very long wearing, as tends to be the case with liquid lipsticks, and I don’t find it particularly drying, though it’s far from moisturizing as well. I did notice that if I wasn’t careful in my application, that it got a little patchy after a short period of time, but if I was sure to blend it well (with either the doe-foot applicator, my finger, or a brush), this problem was easily avoided.

With autumn on my mind, I had an idea to pair Icon with very warm-toned blush and eye makeup so it would wear a bit more casual and late-summery, rather than class-act cool.  NARS Taj Mahal blush and MAC Amber Lights eyeshadow fit the bill perfectly.

IMG_3363Left to right: MAC Amber Lights, NARS Taj Mahal, Hourglass Icon

The look was quite simple, as the boldness of Icon really speaks for itself. Too much other makeup is just plain overkill. A wash of Amber Lights, and a dusting of Taj Mahal, and I was set to go!

Hourglass Icon swatch

Hourglass Icon swatch

MAC Amber Lights swatch

Here’s a shot of me in natural lighting indoors (below) so you can see that no matter what the light, that lipstick is KAPOW!

Hourglass Icon swatch

Close-up of THE RICHNESS.

Hourglass Icon swatch

As you may have guessed, I absolutely LOVE this lipstick and I can’t even handle how fabulous Icon as a colour is. While I have a handful of red lipsticks, none are as eye-catching as Icon, and I find the slightly cooler base suits my neutral skin tone exceptionally well. It’s a shame for my wallet that they make this shade in so many other formulas, as I just might need to own them all!! I am looking forward to wearing the heck outta this sample, and I love that it worked so well for a summer’s day as I know it will in the depths of winter. BRING ON ALL THE SEASONS!

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Check out what the other lovely ladies have come up with to help ease them from summer into fall!

What is your favourite red lipstick? Do you transition your makeup from summer to fall?

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Operation Reduce: Eyeshadows, Part I

You may have noticed that there have been less makeup reviews on Beauty Obsessed over the past few months. Aside from our big push to save money for a substantial down payment on a new home, I’ve also been in the mood to pare down my makeup (and polish) collections, and adding new items to it at this stage would be a bit counterproductive. While I have made small strides toward this goal, this weekend I finally sat down and really started to do some serious clearing  out. The first up on my hit list were 100+ eyeshadows.

IMG_3311My shadow collection, give or take a few.

As I’ve mentioned time and again, I have fallen a bit out of love with eyeshadow – while I still love all the pretty colours, I tend to favour a minimal eye look day to day, focusing more on bold lips to be the star of the show. I suspect over time my preferences will change, as things go, so rather than get rid of previously loved shades (which I’m sure I’ll love again at some point), I’m turning my eye toward removing any duplicates to decrease the number of shadows I have.

urban decay book 4I don’t even have a pic of my own palette, because as soon as I depotted the shades I turfed it, TOOT SWEET.

I am not a lover of palettes, nor will I ever likely be – all that choice, all those colours in one bulky place! Nah, too stressful for this here gal. And so it was that I began my weed-through there, starting with my oldest palette – Urban Decay’s Book of Shadows III.

Containing 16 shadows, the BoS III was probably the gateway product that turned me into a full-fledge makeup junkie. The buttery textures and variety of richly pigmented shades was impossible to resist. At first, I used it all the time….but over the years, it fell out of grace due to its bulky packaging. On embarking on my pare-down plan, I decided that depotting was the way to go with this beast, and away I went!

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Today I begin with the first five shades from the palette that went through a rigorous swatch- and comparison-fest: Smog (bronze), Haight (bright teal), Rockstar (deep eggplant), Suspect (golden taupe) and Loaded (blackened teal green).

SMOG & HAIGHT

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Smog is a gorgeous bronze shade that leans more brown than reddish or golden. On my skin tone its quite complimentary, and has enough depth and pigmentation to be a one-and-done shade for me. Haight is a bright tropical teal that always draws me in, yet requires a little bit more effort to look appropriate on my darker skin.

IMG_3207Left to right: Smog, Haight

Just for fun, I paired the two together in an eye look to see if Smog could ground Haight and make it more wearable:

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Sorry for the lack of shots capturing the whole picture – I was bound and determine to be a fuzzy-headed slob yesterday, and I didn’t want to subject you to that horror. Suffice to say, with a bit of liner and mascara, the whole look (Haight on the lid, Smog in the crease) came together really well, and I will definitely be repeating it on a day when I actually leave the house. It’s fun and summery without being too bold.

IMG_3231Clockwise from left: Clinique Rum Spice (d), G.Armani #6 Khaki Pulse, Kat Von D Fallen, UD Smog  

Now for the dupe hunt! Starting with Smog, I pulled all of my bronze-like shadows and swatched each one to see how they’d measure up.

IMG_3225Left to right: G.Armani #6 Khaki Pulse, Kat Von D Fallen, UD Smog, Clinique Rum Spice (d) 

While there are similarities between the shades, none of the above are dupes, and as I do tend to favour bronzy shadows, I am keeping all four.

Moving on to Haight, I only had one shadow in my arsenal that resembled the shade – Kat Von D’s Bukowski:

IMG_3234 IMG_3239Left to right: Kat Von D Bukowski, UD Haight

As you can see, these two are extremely similar – if you want to get nit-picky about it, Bukowski is a touch more teal with slightly less shimmer, while Haight is brighter and more blue. Tomato, to-ma-to, they’re close enough for me! As both shades have the same smooth, buttery texture and great pigmentation, I decided to keep Haight over Bukowski because it’s smaller in size (0.8oz as opposed to 1.4oz) since its not a shade I’d wear often. When the time comes (soon!) to depot the Kat Von D palette Bukowski is in (the Spellbinding one from Holiday 2013), it’ll be finding itself a new home somewhere else!

Two down, three to go!

ROCKSTAR, LOADED, AND SUSPECT

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Rockstar is a lovely deep eggplant shade that doesn’t veer too blue or too red, and hence is likely wearable by most skin tones. Loaded is a beautiful blackened teal that is a bit more muted applied, but still gorgeous. Suspect, well-loved as you can see, is a super-wearable light golden taupe-y shade that adds a touch of brightness to the eye area without being very obvious. All three of these shades are right up my alley…but the question was, did I have any similar colours kicking around?

IMG_3205Left to right: Suspect, Loaded, and Rockstar. 

Again, for fun, I did a quick eye look using all three of these shades to see how they played together (Fall prep, methinks!).

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You can see the neat flash of teal green that Loaded provides; paired with Suspect all over the lid and Rockstar in the crease, I think this ended up pretty decent as well. Subtle, but with interest. Next time I’ll be sure to use a primer, which I think will help the shades reach their full, fabulous potential.

I had several contenders for each of the shades above; let’s begin with the most dupable shade, Suspect.

IMG_3271Clockwise from bottom left: NARS Rajasthan duo (golden shade), Laura Mercier Bamboo, MAC All That Glitters, Urban Decay Suspect, Kat Von D Precious

On lighter skintones, I suspect (haha) that the nuances of most of these shades would be readily apparent. However, on my darker skin tone, I find that they lose their uniqueness quite quickly:

IMG_3261Left to right: LM Bamboo, NARS Rajasthan, UD Suspect, MAC All That Glitters, Kat Von D Precious, Kat Von D Galore (I threw that one in for my own comparison purposes but forgot to take pics first, oops!)

Though you can see the graduation from dark to light, there are a lot of similarities here, which happens to me a lot when dealing with sort of champagne-type shades. Ultimately though, only the NARS Rajasthan golden shade is close enough to Suspect, and for me it’s enough to feel likeI don’t need both.  Let’s take a closer look.

IMG_3292Left to right: UD Suspect, NARS Rajasthan

I can’t believe I never noticed how similar these two were! The shade from the Rajasthan duo up close has more nuances than Suspect, and is actually more pigmented as well, so it should be a no-brainer to decide which one to keep. HOWEVER, there are two factors at play here. 1) Suspect has hit pan, and therefore could conceivably be finished in the next few months with diligent use (and who doesn’t like a REAL LIVE MAKEUP EMPTY??) and 2) the other side of the Rajasthan duo is a blackened teal, much like Loaded up there, and so we’ll need to investigate that first before making any decisions.

On, on!

IMG_3278Clockwise from left: NARS Rajasthan duo (teal shade), theBalm Jealous Jordana (depotted), UD Loaded

Next up in the dupe war is Loaded and it’s dark teal goodness. Though I don’t wear it often, I love this kind of shade – so mysterious and sexy ;-)  However, I don’t really need THREE of them. Let’s see how they fare in swatches:

IMG_3295Left to right: NARS Rajasthan, UD Loaded, theBalm Jealous Jordana

All three are definitely in the same vein, with Loaded having the most teal flash of the three. Though the texture of the teal side of the Rajasthan duo leaves me a bit wanting (it’s a little stiff), there’s something to be said for the convenience of having the two shades together. To be sure, I did another set of swatches, this time with the teal Rajasthan shade swatched wet to see if it had more depth of pigment (which is ultimately what matters to me in this case).

IMG_3298Left to right: NARS Rajasthan (swatched wet), NARS Rajasthan (dry), UD Loaded, theBalm Jealous Jordana

Clearly, swatched wet, Rajasthan is a whole different ballgame, and thankfully made the decision easy for me. Bye bye, Loaded & Jealous Jordana! Nice knowing you (no really, it was – we had some good times)!

Urban Decay Rockstar shadow comparisonLeft to right: UD Rockstar, Hourglass Exhibition duo (violet side), Kat Von D Wonderland

Finally, we have Rockstar in all it’s plummy glory. In my head, the shades above were all close matches, but upon pairing them side by side, I can easily see that’s not going to be the case. Eh. Let’s go through the motions anyway to satisfy our curiosity!

IMG_3248Left to right: Hourglass Exhibition, UD Rockstar, Kat Von D Wonderland

Nope, no dupes here – not by a long shot. Rockstar lighter than both the other options and by far more frosty, not to mention much cooler than Wonderland. Looking at these three side by side however, DOES make me like Rockstar a little less – it seems almost gaudy by comparison. For the time being, I’ll hang on to it as it seems I don’t have anything like it…but time will tell if I decide to keep it around or eventually let it go.

O-KAY! So, after today’s endeavours, I’ve managed to decrease my shadow collection by three (counting Kat Von D’s Bukowski when I get around to depotting those shadows). Not too shabby. At the mo, my entire collection (palette shades and all) consists now of 106 shades. My goal is to get this down to at least under 100, and I may not even stop there. One thing about paring down is that you can eventually start making way for new stuff! An activity I am wholly looking forward to, I readily admit.

Are you doing any makeup house-keeping lately? How many eyeshadows do you own?

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Summer Makeup Staples: Favorite Summer Lippies

Even the biggest cynic has to admit, we’ve had a pretty sweet summer season, at least here in Atlantic Canada! Almost every weekend is sunny, and often days that call for rain turn into a beautiful and bright sunshiny day. It’s been sticky and humid, I’ll grant you, but hey – what’s the beach for if not to keep cool in the heat?

In an effort to use more of my eyeshadows, I went though a period of wearing different eye looks over the past couple months, only to become frustrated that they looked overdone and kind of grimy in this muggy weather. I finally decided that the shadows will have to wait until the cooler months, and instead I would focus on my TRUE makeup love of the moment – juicy lip colours.

Favorite Summer LippiesLeft to right: NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dolce Vita, YSL Glossy Stain in Corail Aquatique, NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Red Square, Tom Ford Lip Color in True Coral, Dior Fluid Stick in Magique, purminerals Plumping Lip Gloss in Pink Crush

Over the past year or so, I’ve really started upping my lip game. For the most part, I own and wear shades in almost every shade imaginable, and change it up with each season. During the summer, I find warm pinks, happy corals, dusky roses, and orange-leaning reds tend to flatter my tanned skin most. The lippies that are in highest rotation are of all textures – gloss, stain-gloss hybrids, mattes, and cremes.

IMG_3097Left to right: NARS Dolce Vita, YSL Corail Aquatique, NARS Red Square, Tom Ford True Coral, Dior Magique, purminerals Pink Crush

I picked up NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dolce Vita last fall on a whim – I cannot remember what drew me to the dusty rose shade, but I’m SO glad I brought it home with me, as it’s honestly one of my favourite, most flattering lip colours (in ALL seasons!) and I wear it CONSTANTLY. I will definitely repurchase this when I run out, which is SO unlike me!

I’ve had the YSL Glossy Stain for a couple years now, and while I wasn’t entirely enamoured with it when I bought it, it’s such an easy-to-wear soft coral that goes with essentially every look I create. Another one that I would definitely consider repurchasing as I probably wear it more than any other lippie I own, period.

The NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Red Square was a recent addition; after swatching orange-based reds on at least three separate occasions at Sephora, I finally went with with this one as I like the Velvet Matte formula, and it seemed to be the most flattering on me. I love it!

IMG_3103 Left to right: NARS Dolce Vita, YSL Corail Aquatique, NARS Red Square

I’ve shown you the Tom Ford Lip Color in True Coral before after I picked it up in NYC late last year. I was concerned that its coral-red tone was so bright it would be garish on my skin tone once tanned, but my fears were unfounded, as it looks even BETTER with a tan! The formula is more suited to this time of year as well, as my lips tend to be in better condition (read: not as sahara dry and flaky as in the winter) so it wear much better as well.

Back in June, after a monster swatching session at Shoppers, I picked up one of the new Dior Fluid Sticks in #479 Magique (which doesn’t seem to be available at Sephora for some reason), a bright coral pink. I really like the formula on these, and am always tempted to buy more but wish there was a bit more selection in the shade range – the lighter shades are too milky on my skin tone, and some of the other shades look too similar to this one. LOVE that juicy, colour-rich shine, though!

Lastly, a few years ago my aunt gave me a ton of purminerals lip glosses (you can find the brand at Shoppers), which have a great lovely, moisturizing formula. I gave away many of them as the shades didn’t call to me (and I don’t wear gloss too often these days), but this one in Pink Crush has become a huge staple for me as it gives just a hint of muted rose-y pink to the lips, and awesome shine. Another goes-with-everything lippie.

IMG_3101Left to right: Tom Ford True Coral, Dior Magique, purminerals Pink Crush

All six of these shades are without a doubt my most-worn, and most-loved lippies at the moment. They allow me a variety of looks and I truly enjoy wearing each one! This is my ultimate goal with my makeup collection – regardless of the number of products, as long as I take pleasure in wearing each item, then that’s really what counts. I’ve been slashing and hacking at my stash methodically over the past few months, and every week I feel that much more satisfied!

I will admit though…I’m starting to get that itch for fall makeup! Don’t shoot me… :)

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What lippies have you been wearing to death this season?

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Summer Polish Combo: Light and Dark

I’ve been methodically going through my polishes over the summer and trying to pare down my collection to shades I truly love – my aim is to get below 100 bottles.  I’m 6 bottles away from my goal so I’m making serious progress! One of the two polishes on the chopping block was China Glaze’s Re-Fresh Mint – if you recall, in my review I found it none to flattering on my skin tone, and the formula left much to be desired. Nevertheless, as I discovered with Zoya’s Cho, which I hated on my fingernails but actually love on my toes, I gave the polish a second chance by wearing it as a pedicure, which sometimes does the trick. As we’re moving into late summer, I’m slowly incorporating darker shades into my repertoire, and I paired it with another chopping block contender, Essie’s No More Film, a polish I picked up well over a year ago in a swap but haven’t gotten around to swatching. Here we go!

Essie No More Film and China Glaze Re-Fresh Mint

No More Film is a deep, slightly dusty ‘blurple’ – it’s almost like a super-dark periwinkle shade. The first time I tried it, I thought it was one of those ‘almost black’ shades which I dislike, but this time around for whatever reason, it just worked! It never appeared black, even in dim light, and it looked great on. It’s extremely pigmented and I actually only wore it with one coat (but added an additional coat for swatches). It’s quite glossy on it’s own and applied extremely easily. This shade is staying!

Essie No More Film swatch Essie No More Film swatch Essie No More Film swatch

I felt like NMF would go well with RFM as the light and dark tones, while opposites, still somehow seem complimentary. I find as summer rolls along I really like to bring out my tan which pale shades, and emphasize the deepening light with dark shades to contrast. Check out the pairing below. *As an aside, I bought these sandals to wear to an all-day concert I went to a couple weeks back, and they are the COMFIEST EVER! They’re totally like orthopaedic shoes but I figured in an edgy metallic I could pull ‘em off. I don’t even care because they are like HEAVEN to wear.

Essie No More Film and China Glaze Re-Fresh Mint combo swatch Essie No More Film and China Glaze Re-Fresh Mint combo swatch

I really liked the pairing of No More Film with Re-Fresh Mint, but I’m not sure it’s enough for me to keep the latter – though I’ve done the same with Cho and ONLY wear that shade on my toes now, I still find the formula on ‘Re-Fresh’ irritating and I’d always opt to wear a more blue-leaning mint shade (like MAC Mischievous Mint) than this, so to the giveaway pile it goes.

What do you think of this pairing?  Do you switch it up from juicy brights to something else as the summer passes? 

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Summer Makeup Staples: The Basics

As some of you may know, I’ve been trying hard to keep my new purchases to a minimum, putting effort in to enjoying the products I already have before galavanting around buying up more stuff. The only problem with that concept is that in the summer, I tend to wear a bit of a ‘makeup uniform,’ which means the same products get used over and over again and the rest get forgotten. However, there IS something to be said for products that just plain work, and that work with your lifestyle. I thought I’d give you a peek into my recent beauty world at the handful of products I’m loving big time this summer!

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All of the products above are new to me this summer, and have all wormed their way into my heart in a BIG way.

Earlier in the spring, I ran out of powder (those Ambient Lighting palettes were a cute idea, but HOLY MOLEY those powders got used up fast!), so I picked up Laura Mercier’s Translucent Loose Setting Powder ($44CAD). I’d heard and read good things, so I finally took it off the wish list and brought it home with me. I’m quite pleased with it overall – though it doesn’t combat shine fully, it leaves me skin with a radiant matte finish and never looks heavy or cakey. It’s extremely finely milled, and feels like air going on. Probably one of the best setting powders I’ve used to date.

On my birthday, my aunt gave me her usual ‘beauty package’ of goodies she’d purchased from The Shopping Network. One of those items was the CoverFX MintGlaze FX Moisturizing Lip Treat-mint Primer with SPF15 (also known as the-lip-balm-with-the-longest-name-ever). Normally not a fan of mint anything, I actually like the gentle cooling sensation this imparts on the lips, and its nicely moisturizing. A thin layer is great to use just before applying lipstick, but even on it’s own it looks great, with a nice glossy shine.

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It’s not cheap at about $22 a pop, but hey, I got it for free so I’m not complaining! I read on Paula Beguoin’s site that the peppermint oil is a no-no (re: irritation) but I don’t find it a problem.

Another gem of a find I’ve come across recently is Sephora Brand’s Waterproof Retractable Brow Pencil ($16CAD). I was finding the shadow I was using to fill in my brows was too dark, and the method of application not precise enough – I’ve been growing my brows for a while now, and they can get a little unruly if I’m not careful. I picked this up on a whim because it was relatively inexpensive, and turns out I sort of love it! It’s fine enough to allow for great control and accuracy, but it’s not too dark or hard of a formula, so it’s never harsh-looking. The shade I bought, 04 Midnight Brown, is the perfect ashy dark brown; additionally, sometimes I get breakouts in my brow line, but I haven’t had that problem once since using this, so I’ve definitely found a winner! It’s got a little comb on the other end of the pencil which is a neat inclusion, but which I haven’t used once (lol).

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Finally, the last product that has been getting a lot of love from me is the Make Up For Ever Aqua Matic ME-50 shadow pencil I’ve previously shown you. This is still getting some major love from me, as it just goes with everything – dramatic eyes, bold lips, natural looks – you name it! I am considering picking up another one of these in the D-12 Diamond Golden Grey shade, which swatches just as it sounds – a sparkling gunmetal grey with golden shimmer (!!!!).

IMG_2975Left to right: Cover FX Lip Treat-mint, MUFE Aqua Matic in ME-50, Sephora Brow Pencil in Midnight Brown 

That sums up my basic makeup wardrobe for summer – stay tuned for my next instalment, when we look at my favourite COLOURS of the season!

What basic makeup staples do you find yourself using on the regular during the warmer months?

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The easiest primer you’ll ever use: Skindinavia The Makeup Primer Spray

MAN how time flies in the summer! Here I’ve been having a blast, getting away from the city almost every weekend for the past two months, and here the blog ia getting more neglected by the day! It’s just the way I roll when the sun starts shining. Can’t say I’ve been missing it terribly – I spend enough time on a computer at work when I’d rather be outside – but I don’t want to fall completely off the radar, either. And so, here I am :)

Last month I was sent a sample of Skindinavia’s The Makeup Primer Spray ($35/4oz; $49/8oz) to try out, which couldn’t have been more timely due to the crazy humidity we’ve been having (not complaining of the heat though! No siree!). I was excited to try it out because the spray mechanism really appeals to me, and I figured it would feel a lot less heavy than your usual primers, which I tend to avoid save for events because I hate that extra layer of product. In addition, the product is non-comedogenic, as well as silicone- and oil-free, so you’re pretty much guaranteed for a light-as-air experience!

Skindinavia The Makeup Primer SprayI also received a small sample of the ‘Oil Control’ version as well (on left)

The Makeup Primer Spray, like most other primers, is designed to help makeup go on smoother and last longer, and to help reduce the need for blotting throughout the day as it controls excess oil production and diminishes shine.  At the same time, it’s also supposed to hold moisture in the skin by creating a lightweight, breathable ‘web.’ It also claims to help prevent redness, uneven skin tone, and large pores. Sounds pretty sweet, right?

Skindinavia The Makeup Primer Spray

Because sometimes I am not so smart, initially I imagined this as a makeup SETTING product, so I was using it after applying my makeup. OOPS. How you are supposed to use this, is to spritz the face in an ‘X’ motion, then apply your makeup shortly thereafter. It’s supposed to help foundation apply sheer to prevent caking, so obviously in order for this to happen you need to apply it while it’s still a bit damp. On this score, I found this to be true. I prefer my foundation sheer to just even out my skin tone, so the fact that this helps encourage this is a bonus.

However, the claims of oil-control, shine reduction and less need for blotting is JUST NOT TRUE, dudes. It *could* be this mega-humidity, but I find that more than anything this actually makes my skin look MORE greasy, unfortunately (same story with the ‘Oil Control’ version, too). By the end of the day, it’s shine-city! It’s almost fascinating in a way though, because it reminds me of model-dewy skin, you know, like this:

how-to-achieve-dewy-skin-beauty-tips-and-tricks

If I had flawless skin and was wearing (next to) no makeup, this would be all sorts of awesome. Mostly, though, it looks like this:

adriana-lima-dewy-skin-summer-2014-beauty-trend-w540

Which isn’t horrible I guess, but it’s a wee bit too shiny/greasy for my taste. Part of me just feels like I’m using it wrong, and if I could *just understand* I could get it to look more like the first photo. Or maybe I just need perfect skin for that to work. ~sigh~

Anyway, the moral of this story is that I think this does quite well on the moisture retention front, but not so great on the other points like keeping makeup in place or warding off the shine-ies. For those of you with drier skin, this might be a great bet – it’s also paraben-free and hypoallergenic, so it’s great for more sensitive skins. Because I’m stubborn, I’m going to keep trying to figure out how to get this to help me achieve that first-photo glow….I WILL find a way, dammit!

Have you tried a primer spray before? Which do you prefer: a matte, satin, or dewy skin look?

*Products were provided by the PR company/brand for my unbiased consideration.

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