derma e Evenly Radiant Brightening Serum with Vitamin C {review}

I guiltily admit that sometimes I have a mental block when it comes to cosmetics – though more expensive definitely doesn’t mean better, in my head for some reason I can’t truly appreciate a beauty product’s value unless it costs me an arm and a leg. Why? I dunno what it’s all about, but I am trying to change that – when it comes to skincare at least (with makeup, I don’t mind so much as my expensive taste keeps me from buying EVERY DAMN THING IN SIGHT). And right now in particular, there are some amazing skincare products that are actually affordable (check out Tracy’s post on Deciem if you don’t believe me)!

derma e Evenly Radiant Brightening Serum

derma e Evenly Radiant Brightening Serum with Vitamin C ($29.95) is one such product. I’ve used a couple derma e products in the past and liked them a fair bit, but in general I often passed by their offerings because…well, I guess my snobby self found them too accessible and affordable lol. Shame, shame, double shame. After trying out the Brightening Serum, I can say absolutely that I have learned from the error in my ways.

derma e Evenly Radiant Brightening Serum w/Vitamin C

Designed to brighten skin by addressing uneven pigmentation and age damage (ie. sun spots), this treatment serum has a whole host of active ingredients in its formulation to fight discolouration and help to achieve more evenly toned, luminous skin. A quick scan of the first handful of ingredients reveals that it contains: niacinamide, an anti-inflammatory that enhances skin’s barrier function and helps erase discolourations; licorice root, anti-inflammatory ingredient that helps improve dark spots and pigmentation by inhibiting the stimulation of an enzyme that activates melanin production; sodium ascorbyl phosphate, a stable, water-soluble form of vitamin C that helps slow down the aging process; and bearberry & alpha-arbutin, both natural skin brighteners with lightening properties.

derma e Evenly Radiant Brightening Serum with Vitamin C ingredientsApparently the serum has been reformulated – this is the new, accurate ingredient list

Happily, all of those good ingredients don’t go to waste and lose potency in a jar formulation – the serum is in a bottle with a nice pump, which dispenses the perfect amount of serum in one press.

derma e Evenly Radiant Brightening Serum w/Vitamin C

Also handy is the fact that they’ve printed the expiration date of the product right on the bottom of the bottle itself.

derma e Evenly Radiant Brightening Serum w/Vitamin C

One thing to note however, is that date shows the product being good for almost 3 years. The serum does contain preservatives – namely, Potassium Sorbate, Phenoxyethanol, and Ethylhexylglycerin. These are considered safer alternatives to parabens (of which this serum is free), but I still wanted to give a heads up to those of you looking for an entirely preservative-free formulation.

The texture of the serum is like a gel, but without any stickiness or slippery, filmy feeling whatsoever – it glides on and absorbs within a minute, and leaves my normal-oily skin feeling comfortable and soft. I have been using it as both my treatment and hydrator, and I don’t need a separate moisturizer at all (though dry skins will likely need something additional to hydrate).

derma e Evenly Radiant Brightening Serum derma e Evenly Radiant Brightening Serum

I’ve been using this regularly each morning for just over 6 weeks and I quite like it. I had the presence of mind to take before and after shots (considering the fact that I have ‘mommy brain’ AND taking into account my severe lack of sleep due, this is highly impressive) so you can see the results (sorry for the difference in lighting):

BEFORE (June 25)

Before derma e brightening serum Before derma e brightening serum Before derma e brightening serumSee those gray hairs poking out!??

AFTER (August 10)

After derma e brightening serum After derma e brightening serum After derma e brightening serumPlease excuse the weird, flat shape of my hair, I’d just washed it – I give it some oomph once its dry :)

As you can see, my skin is definitely more even-toned, with most of the scarring from the small postpartum breakout I had considerably faded. Now, I do exfoliate regularly, in a variety of ways (exfoliating serum every 2nd night, exfoliating mask 1x/week, acid toning pads 1-2x/week, manual scrub 1x/week) so take that into consideration too, but I’m confident that with that stellar ingredient list, derma e’s serum definitely plays a part in the change in my skin. The niacinamide and stable vitamin c alone have sold me on this; because the niacinamide boosts skin’s barrier function, it’s perfect for use during the day to protect skin from environmental aggressors, and vitamin c’s antioxidant power helps fight off the sun’s potentially damaging free radicals. FABULOUS.

I am definitely impressed by this serum, and the fact that it’s affordable yet still has effective, mostly ‘clean’ ingredients makes it a complete YES in my books. It’s also easy to find – derma e products can be found at Shoppers, or you can buy from their online store if you’re in the States (or from in Canada).

derma e products are 100% vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free, sulfate-free, mineral oil-free, lanolin-free, gluten free, GMO-free.

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Strengthen nails with new shades of OPI Nail Envy

More polish you say? No problem! I have a constant backlog of OPI polishes to swatch and review, which means I always have more polish comin’ at ya.

OPI Nail Envy polish shades

The original OPI Nail Envy is a translucent, maximum strength nail strengthener & fortifier that you can use on it’s own or as a base coat to help nails grow faster and stronger. The new Nail Envy polish shades are formulated with the same hydrolyzed wheat protein and calcium complex to help nails resist peeling, cracking and splitting, and come in 4 delicate OPI shades – 3 existing favorites (Bubble Bath, Samoan Sand and Hawaiian Orchid) and 1 new Nail Envy exclusive shade (Pink to Envy).

IMG_1251Left to right: Bubble Bath, Samoan Sand, Hawaiian Orchid and Pink to Envy

Bubble Bath is a sheer, feminine pink that makes nails look polished and clean (due to it’s blue-leaning tones). While I like those qualities in a sheer polish, it was somewhat streaky (often a problem with sheers) so you need careful application with this one. Thin coats and a quick hand, plus ample time to dry between coats is a must.

OPI Bubble Bath swatch

Bubble Bath isn’t a terribly unique shade, and I found a few similar polishes to compare it to: Essie Muchi Muchi, which is also streak-prone; OPI Put It In Neutral, which is a touch less pink; and Dior Incognito, which isn’t really very close as it’s opaque and more of a beige-pink.

OPI Nail Envy Bubble Bath comparison swatches OPI Nail Envy Bubble Bath comparison swatchesLeft to right: Essie Muchi Muchi, OPI Bubble Bath, OPI Put It In Neutral, OPI Do You Take Lei Away?

Samoan Sand is a polish that’s been on my radar for years, as I’m a sucker for a good nude and I read somewhere this is a great option for deeper skin tones like mine. Happily, it did not disappoint – this went on easily in two smooth coats, and was quite flattering with my skin tone, though I’d be curious to see if it’s still that way once my summer tan has faded (I prefer my nudes lighter than my skin tone, not matching like mannequin hands). In the swatch below I had been wearing it for several days, so please excuse the tip wear!

OPI Samoan Sand swatch

Being a collector of shades like these, I thought I might have a few dupes in my stash, but I actually didn’t (huzzah!). Dior Sunkissed is more peach, and Tom Ford Toasted Sugar (another fave nude -> which I realize I haven’t shown you guys yet! Shame on me) is darker.

OPI Nail Envy Samoan Sand comparison swatches OPI Nail Envy Samoan Sand comparison swatchesLeft to right: Dior Sunkissed, OPI Samoan Sand, Tom Ford Toasted Sugar

Finally, we have Hawaiian Orchid, a pretty dusty mauve-pink which I normally would never look at. It’s still not entirely my cup of tea, but there’s something about it that I like – could be its smooth, creamy shine! I think this would look great on more fair skin than mine thought – which is why I might try it out again once my tan has faded (for SCIENCE).

OPI Hawaiian Orchid swatch

Naturally, I didn’t have any really similar shades in my collection, but I pulled anything close just for the hell of it (continuity, ya know). RBL Poco a Poco has that same dusty quality, but it’s much more purple; RBL Oh Slap! is much lighter and a bit brighter but is in a similar color family; and Dior Incognito is once again more beige-y than pink.

OPI Nail Envy Hawaiian Orchid comparison swatches OPI Nail Envy Hawaiian Orchid comparison swatchesLeft to Right: RBL Poco a Poco, RBL Oh Slap!, OPI Hawaiian Orchid, Dior Incognito

I didn’t swatch Pink to Envy, because though it’s got that pink tint to it, for all intents and purposes it’s a clear polish – I didn’t even find that it gave my nails a brightening effect like the Dior Nail Glow polish. Not a big deal, just – no reason to add to the massive amount of swatches I need to do these days!

OPI Nail Envy polish shades

Do you use the original Nail Envy? Do you like when polishes have a treatment in them? What are your thoughts on neutral polishes?

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The winner of the Mont Bleu giveaway is…


Congrats Peppita, you’ve won these gorgeous Mont Bleu nail files which will be your favourite files of LIFE, I promise you – you will never use any others, they’re SO DANG GREAT!!!! Please send me an email at with your address so I can get these sent out to you ASAP :)

Mont Bleu glass nail files

Thank you for those of you who entered! I hope everyone had a terrific weekend – the rain FINALLY stopped after two weeks of misery and it’s been gloriously sunny and hot the past few days, hooray!




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From the draft pile: A query for all the Beauty Obsessed out there

[This is one in a series of posts I wrote years ago and never published for some reason. They still feel relevant to me so I thought I’d let them see the light of day, finally!]

If ever asked why I started blogging about beauty, my response is that it gave me an awesome outlet for my obsession and allowed me to connect with others who feel the same.  Being a curious person about the inner workings of people’s minds, I turned that question outward: why are YOU here? If you’re a blog reader, what brings you back again and again (to any blog, not just mine), seeking and absorbing more and more knowledge about the newest products, the best techniques, and the most-loved beauty items out there at our disposal?  Why do you love beauty??  What is it about beauty products that make you swoon?  If you write a blog, what got you started?  What pushed you to stop being an observer and start taking an active part in the blogging community?

blogging-communityImage courtesy –

I’m often trying to understand why it is that I can spend $50 [EDIT: this was the value I used back in 2012…seems low now, which is SCARY] $100+ on cosmetics without batting an eye, and yet rarely seem to (or want to) plunk down the same amount on a (necessary) pair of shoes.  I’m not sure I’ll ever truly figure that out, but I do know that there is something so fun, so artistic, and transformative about makeup that I absolutely adore.  I suppose if I were fashion-minded, I could say the same about clothing.  However, since I don’t have the same skill with fashion as I do with makeup, I can get why I would lean toward something of which I have an innate understanding of versus something that seems to always elude me.  So OK, my eye just works with the face and all it’s nuances – shape, tone, features – versus the body, with its curves and angles.  Got it.  I guess I just love the way you can add a touch of color, and shading, and light to the face and it can look so beautiful and entrancing – and it’s generally the first thing people notice about one another.  Ahh…honestly, I can’t seem to put my love into words, but you know what I mean!!

IMG_1634Doing a friend’s makeup for the wedding we were in a couple years ago.

Now, as for deciding to blog.  Honestly, I truly can’t recall what spurred me on to start writing instead of just reading, it seems so long ago [EDIT: And it was! I started blogging in July 2009, if you can believe it!!].  I guess I just had this strong desire to start talking to someone about all these awesome products I was buying, and since I don’t have many friends (if any) who share this consuming passion, I thought perhaps I’d be more successful sharing my thoughts on the world wide web.  Even though my current community is fairly modest, I’ve found some astoundingly wonderful people who ‘get it’ and who have given me such comfort – instead of driving my friends crazy with my beauty antics (1 hour shopping trip to Sephora, anyone?), I have fellow readers and bloggers to whom I can relay all my excitement to without fear of being over the top.  And this, beyond anything else, will keep me blogging away, rambling on about the newest NARS launch or best new skincare ingredient, because I can share freely without judgement, and also see through others eyes what’s out there, broadening my beauty scope.  Which is trouble, of course, but also very wonderful at the same time :)

So now, please, I’d love to hear your own stories!!  What entices you about the beauty world, and if you blog, why do you continue to do it?



Giveaway time with Mont Bleu design glassware!

Well, what a happy coincidence.

Mont Bleu glass nail files

Mont Bleu – creators of the FABULOUS glass nail files I reviewed several years ago (which are still the only files I use) – has kindly offered Beauty Obsessed readers a chance to win some of their beautiful files (with Swarovski elements!), and here I am with exactly 2000 email subscribers to the blog. It couldn’t be more perfect!

Mont Bleu glass nail files

I mean, how GORGEOUS are these files!? #nailfilingsuddenlymadeglamorous

Mont Bleu glass nail files Mont Bleu glass nail files

So let’s get to the giveaway details!

HOW TO ENTER: Leave me a comment telling me ANYTHING about your manicure habits – how often you file and/or paint your nails, what color of polish do you like most, if you coordinate your manicure to your pedicure, what tricks you use to get a flawless manicure, whatever…the world is your oyster!

Follow me via email or on social media and earn 1 extra entry into the draw for each medium (Instagram / Twitter / Facebook). Be sure to provide your handle for each in your comment so I know to whom to link the entry!

Winner will be chosen at random. Contest is open internationally, and will close on August 1st at 11:59pm ADT (which happens to be a civic holiday for most of us in Canada – here in Nova Scotia it’s Natal Day :)). I will announce the winner August 2nd here on the blog as well as via Instagram / Twitter / Facebook. If the prize is not claimed within 72 hours I will draw another name as random (and so on and so forth).

Good luck to all who enter!

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Going all in with Make Up For Ever Plexi-Glosses

Ok guys. Once again I’ve been delinquent in getting this post up – I seem to be really good at taking photos of product in a timely manner, but not so great at writing the reviews. It used to be the other way around, but I am better at amusing Elena while taking photos than I am typing on the computer / editing photos and simultaneously keeping her occupied – she loves the camera (as you’ll see shortly). Anyway, she’s been taking a power nap this am, so I’m just going for it [edit: and it’s now nighttime…I got the majority of the post done while she was napping, but the finishing touches had to wait till she was down for the night!]!

Make Up For Ever Plexi-Glosses

A few months ago Make Up For Ever came out with a new formulation of lip gloss that is along the lines of the Dior Fluid Sticks / Lancome Lip Lover / etc. etc. – a long-wearing, full-impact gloss with high shine and vivid color. These Plexi-Glosses ($23CAD) are touted to be comfortable to wear and to deliver up to five hours of color impact. The ‘superflex’ applicator is design in a lip-hugging shape to allow for precision and control and sweeps on the ‘ideal’ amount of lipgloss.


It comes in a whopping 35 shades, in varying finishes – from pearly to cream, sheer to opaque – which is INTENSE, guys. I’m glad I had an opportunity to try these out and not have to choose a color (or several) on my own, because I’d be there all damn day. The three I was sent are: 403, an opaque red; 207, an opaque candy pink, and 102P, a sheer pearly sweet beige (the ‘P’ indicates a pearly shade).

Make Up For Ever Plexi-Glosses Make Up For Ever Plexi-Glosses

As I mentioned, Elena loves the camera (probably since I’ve become the paparazzi with her since she was born) and I thought I’d really keep her busy by giving her each of the glosses to play with. Now that she’s got good hand control she was loving it!

Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 403 Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 403 Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 403Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 403 Red

Red gloss has never been my first choice when it comes to lip color – I tend to favour matte shades of red, as it’s already bold enough on it’s own – but in the summertime, I confess that a gloss red lip is kind of fabulous. The sheer (or opaque, in this case) juiciness of it is so enticing and perfect on a warm summer night. 403 Red is just that kind of gloss – it truly is ‘full impact’ and majorly high shine. It’s also comfortable to wear, and though these glosses are intense, they’re not at all sticky – a bit thick, perhaps, but honestly the lip glosses I’ve had in the past that are thin fade away within minutes. I don’t mind the thicker texture on its own, but if they were sticky they’d be a no-go for me (which is why I haven’t own a MAC gloss in god knows how long).

Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 403 swatchMake Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 403 Red

Though I just said I don’t generally gravitate toward glossy reds, I did happen to have one in my collection – Maybelline’s Color Elixir in Signature Scarlet. These two are damn near dupes in my eyes; Signature Scarlet is a hair more warm in tone, but that’s getting nitpicky – for all intents and purposes, they’re the same. The real difference is in the texture (Maybelline’s feels a bit more plasticky to me) and the scent (MUFE’s has none, while the Maybelline has this bizarre sickeningly sweet/chemical smell that is just awful – it fades after wear, but UGH, SO bad). Needless to say, I got rid of the Maybelline in favour of the MUFE version!

Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 403 vs Maybelline Signature ScarletLeft: Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 403 Red; Right: Maybelline Color Elixir in Signature Scarlet

Next, we have the shade 207 Candy Pink.

Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 207 Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 207 Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 207Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 207 Candy Pink.

Since discovering cool pink look quite nice on my skintone, I’m all about the shade. 207 Candy Pink is a cheerful pink shade that leans cool, but actually isn’t heavily blue-toned, so those of you who don’t like to wear those kinds of colors could probably still wear this.  This is another saturated shade, though the formula is slightly less opaque than 403 Red. Equally nice formula though – and of note is that all 3 glosses leave my lips feeling hydrated even after they’ve worn off.

Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 207 swatch

Once again, I had a similar shade in my existing collection (a mark of someone with too much makeup, perhaps?) – Dior Addict Lip Gloss in Exquisse.  Unlike the red shades above however, there are more noticeable differences: the Dior is more sheer, and a bit more warm than 207 Candy Pink. However, they’re close enough for me that I don’t feel I need to own both – but I haven’t been able to part with either just yet. I prefer my lip products to be opaque, so MUFE – 1, Dior – 0….however, it’s like, a DIOR GLOSS, guys. And they’re kind of lovely. AND it’s got sexy packaging. So I dunno, dudes.

Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 207 vs Dior Exquisse comparison

Finally, we have the most subtle of the bunch, 102P Pearly Sweet Beige, and the only one without a ‘dupe’ in my stash.

Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 102P Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 102P Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 102P

102P Pearly Sweet Beige is a sheer, slightly milky peachy beige gloss. This was actually on my wishlist to buy previously, so I was excited to get this in the trifecta. Though I like my lip colors opaque as a general rule, I actually like my lip glosses to be neutral sheers – I find punchy, bold colors that are also high shine are a bit more in-your-face than I’d like. This would fit that bill perfectly; however – on my lips there is something about this shade that doesn’t look all that flattering. I think the milkiness for one is a (small) issue; moreover, I realized after watching a video of Karima’s (so good, go watch her RIGHT NOW!) where she described her lip line as ‘blurry,’ that I also suffer from this affliction, and this is likely why true ‘nudes’ look kind of terrible on me. As I normally choose my glosses to be either clear with a hint of shimmer, or MLBB shades, this veers too closely to a nude tone on my medium pigment lips, and I dunno…just not a huge fan. But that’s just me – I suspect for most people this will be an incredibly wearable neutral.

Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 102P

Just for fun, I thought I’d take it even further and make it REALLY nude and see if that looked better. I used a Marc Jacobs lippie (the old style they don’t sell anymore) in Dizzy Spell, a warm peachy nude (which I rarely wear, for the reasons above), underneath 102P to see what would happen. While I don’t actually hate the effect, I think 102P would probably look best on me layered over a more strongly-hued and/or pigmented shade, or lipliner.

Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 102P plus Marc Jacobs Dizzy Spell Lipstick Make Up For Ever Plexi-Gloss in 102P plus Marc Jacobs Dizzy Spell LipstickWearing Marc Jacobs Dizzy Spell under 102P. Also wearing Charlotte Tilbury Color Chameleon in Smoky Emerald – fabulous, fabulous eyeshadow!!

Do you mind wearing a thicker gloss to achieve longer wear time? What are your thoughts on glossy lips in bold, bright shades?

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OPI Two to Celebrate Coca-Cola Polish Set {Review & Swatches}

Good day everyone! How’s life been treating you lately? Our summer weather-wise has been quite lovely here, with just enough rain to keep things lush. Elena has been keeping me très busy these days; she’s going through a sort of sleep regression and is napping for 30 minutes at most – and getting those naps has been hard work! I have a few review posts that have been waiting to be written though, so I’m just going to have to sneak in a bit of blog business here and there when I can. Today’s post should be relatively short and sweet as it’s only covering two nail polishes – the OPI Two to Celebrate polish set commemorating Coca Cola’s 100th year anniversary. I don’t know what’s up with OPI doing so many Coke collections – as a non-pop lover it really doesn’t grab me, but ~shrugs~ There must be a target audience out there somewhere!

OPI Two to Celebrate Coca ColaOPI Two to Celebrate Coca ColaLeft: OPI Centennial Celebration; Right: OPI Visions of Georgia Green

The two shades in the set are Visions of Georgia Green (a pearlescent green with subtle pink duo chrome and a hint of glitter) and Centennial Celebration (a rich shimmering pewter).

OPI Two to Celebrate Coca Cola

Visions of Georgia Green is not my kind of polish shade – at all. It was quite sheer (this is 3 coats and it could have used a 4th, IMO) and it just looks ghastly on my hands. It just seemed to have too much going on, with the sort of golden microglitter, duochrome (though barely visible) and pearl finish. Plus, it’s green, which I’m just not a fan of as a whole as far as polish goes. I layered it over black on my index finger to see if it would look better, but – no. It’s still awful. LOL!

OPI Visions of Georgia Green swatch OPI Visions of Georgia Green swatch

As always, comparison swatches were had. Since I’m not a green fan I didn’t have much to compare it to, only the recently released My Gecko Does Tricks from the OPI Hawaiian collection. They’re not even close.

OPI Visions of Georgia Green swatch comparison OPI Visions of Georgia Green swatch comparisonLeft: OPI My Gecko Does Tricks; Right: Visions of Georgia Green

Thankfully, this is not a complete disaster of a set (and to be fair, there are people who will probably LOVE Georgia Green) – though it easily could have been for me, as a person who isn’t fond of silver either. Happily, Centennial Celebration is FABULOUS.

OPI Two to Celebrate Coca Cola

Though it’s described as a pewter shade, I find it is more silver in tone – probably because it just GLEAMS. The shade is crisp and clean (not what I think of when I think of pewter, which to my mind is like a dirtied silver), and the perfect mix of metallic and shimmer – not too much of either, so it’s got zero brushstrokiness that you can get with a full-on metallic, and it’s not too shimmery for this confessed creme lover. It’s replaced my previous silver polish love, Revlon Sterling, which I merely didn’t hate; Centennial Celebration on the other hand, is pure LOVE.

OPI Centennial Celebration swatch OPI Centennial Celebration swatch

I have a handful of silver & silver-ish swatches in which to compare Centennial Celebration:

OPI Centennial Celebration swatch comparison OPI Centennial Celebration swatch comparisonLeft to right: Chanel Graphite, OPI Centennial Celebration, OPI This Silver’s Mine!, Revlon Sterling, Nicole by OPI DC Lover

The pewter quality of CC is more apparent here; next to decidedly pewter Chanel Graphite, you can see its very much in the same vein only much lighter. It’s clearly more pewter than OPI This Silver’s Mine, and next to Revlon Sterling, it looks positively yellowed (aka dirtied) in comparison to Sterling’s cool tone. It’s not at all similar (red micro glitter aside) to the base color of Nicole by OPI’s DC Lover, which almost has a pinkish hue to it – and I’m glad because I actually love that shade too (two silvers I love, what is the world coming to? Maybe one day I’ll find a green I like as well??).

So, another Coca Cola collection down. I don’t really care how many they do if the polishes are nice, but it seems a bit overkill eh?

Are you a Coke fan? And do you like green and/or silver polish? What do you think of this duo?

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Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200 (or more makeup)

I was inspired by Liz’s post on the type of products she no longer uses, to do a sort of spin-off post in which I detail the products I won’t be buying for awhile – not because I no longer have use for them, but because I really want to try and use up what I’ve got. I’m still aiming for that lofty goal in which my collection is modest enough that I can purchase new items guilt-free, because owning less will inevitably enable me to use up what I have more regularly. Probably an impossibility, but I want to at least put more effort into enjoying what I already have instead of being madly in love for about 3 days, then promptly moving on to lust after the next hot new item. END THE CONSUMERISM CYCLE, dammit.

So, having given you my usual long-winded explanation as to why I do what I do, let’s get to the good stuff. A LIST (of products that are on a purchasing hiatus):

1) Base products (includes primers/concealers/tinted moisturizers/foundations/powders)

IMG_1406All 5 of my concealers, my liquid foundations/tinted moisturizers, and a few of my primers (the rest plus my powders are in my makeup drawer).

I have enough of all of these things; not an overly excessive amount (IMO), but enough that adding any more will just probably mean that some of them will go bad before I finish them all. I don’t usually go crazy over these kinds of items anyway (all but one of my primers and most of my foundations are PR samples or gratis items) except for concealers…still trying to find the holy grail of under eye concealers, but I need to give it a rest for now, as I currently have 5 on rotation, and for me that’s too much. I’ve also been on a mini powder kick, and I have 2 loose and 1 pressed, so I feel I am set for quite a while.

2) Antiperspirant

IMG_1407Clearly I have no allegiance to one brand…

Would you be disgusted to know that I’ve been using the same antiperspirant since Elena was in the NICU? Sooo that’s like…5 months? And haven’t had to replace it yet (eeks!)? I swear I use it {most days} but it seems to be lasting forever. I thought it was near the end so I bought a new one to replace it – twice – and then I discovered I already had ANOTHER backup waiting in the wings already. Plus another oldie that’s been kicking around for ages that I stopped using for whatever reason. So now I have 5 kicking around, which is making me feel far too much like my mother (who used to have hoards of them all around the house; I think she bought a new one every time she went to the drugstore – always finding a new scent or brand that she liked). So yea. I think I’m set for a while.

3) Nail polish

IMG_1422My ‘snazzy’ nail polish, displayed on my bedroom dresser.

IMG_1415The rest of my nail polish collection, housed in a shoebox in Ryan’s closet (there’s no room in mine! lol).

I have been doggedly riffling through my nail polish collection weekly in an effort to pare it down to a more manageable level; to me, if I can’t wear every shade I own more than once a year, then there is a problem. I’m hovering just slightly above 80 shades, and I’d like to cull it down more still to about 75 (in an ideal world, I’d have no more than 50, but there are too many shades I like to reach that goal). So, to keep things in check, I’m adhering strictly to a one in, one out policy. Though I love polish, I find this fairly easy to do, as I feel like I have every shade imaginable anyway. The hardest part is receiving shades for review – I’ve been getting most of the OPI collections lately, and I have to be really ruthless about which ones I keep. I give the ones I don’t absolutely love away shortly after I’ve done my swatches and post so I can’t change my mind, and that’s been working pretty well.

4) Color cosmetics

IMG_1409These are all the color cosmetics in my collection now (save for a Z palette with about 20 eyeshadows in it) – streamlined down to just one drawer, not bad eh?

Ok, this one is going to be a toughie, and I know if I get too serious in limiting myself it’ll only end in disaster (remember this?), so I am giving myself permission to buy color cosmetics that are Limited Edition – but only once a month. Additional exceptions (aren’t there always?): a) I am allowing myself to buy one non-LE item per month as well, b) the Sephora VIB sale is free game (if there is anything left at Sephora, after all the craziness – and also, in keeping with my previous guidelines which dictate that I only pick up one of each type of product), and c) all bets are off during our trip to Cali at the end of December.

After that last rule, it’s clear that basically nothing about my collection will change. LOL!


My name is Latoya and I’m a makeup-aholic.

Are you on any sort of no- or low-buy? How do you justify your purchasing habits (or do you even bother)?


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!


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.


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:



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.


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.


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.


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’).


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


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?


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).


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.


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 :)

IMG_0938 IMG_0944

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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