Posts Tagged halifax beauty blog

An Inside Look: My Eyeliner Collection

Since I’m on somewhat of a purchasing slow-down during the holidays, and due to the fact that I’ve shown you all my skincare products, most of my nail polishes, my top faves, and my NARS collection…I’m sort of running out of new material here! LOL  No, not really, but without any new products, I have to go ‘back to the beginning’ so to speak – this time around, I’m going to show you all the eyeliners I have in my stash.

I think that as far as liners go, I have quite a few.  They’re all different colors for the most part, but it just seems like I have a larger collection than is probably necessary, especially since I don’t even wear eyeliner every day!  Still, eyeliner is a quick way to look polished without much effort, so I like to have options on hand.  I didn’t purchase many of these –  most I amassed through swaps, or they came with other products in a value set.  Let’s take a gander, shall we?

First, we have all my Urban Decay 24/7 liners – from left to right: Zero, Oil Slick, Crash, Bourbon, Lucky, and Covet.  I purchased Covet, but the rest were through swaps or came with the BoS III palette I got last year (so, yeah, I guess I purchased that too :P).  These liners are some of my faves, though I have to be very careful with them around my lower lash line, because aside from Zero they’re all sparkly and can cause some irritation.  Excellent wear though, with a creamy, easy gliding formulation and awesome colors.  These retail for $22CAD.

My three liquid liners – MUFE Aqua Liner #5, #14, and Illamasqua Havoc (left to right).  Odd that I don’t even have a plain black eh?  I’ll have to remedy that.  I really like wearing a crisp liner with a flick at the end – not just because that’s the trend now, it’s always been a ‘thing’ of mine.  I’ve reviewed all three of these previously (here, here and here).  All around stellar liners that I would repurchase in a heartbeat.

My two MAC liners – Pearlglide in Petrol Blue, and Chromagraphic in NC25/NW30.  I rarely wear the blue, but it’s really very pretty – especially on the lower lash liner.  On my upper lashes, it kind of just looks like it’s trying to be black but isn’t.  It looks better smoked out.  The Chromographic pencil I picked up to use under my lash liner or on my waterline.  It’s less stark than white and really brightens the eye area.  Both are creamy and do not tug at the lashes, but not the greatest staying power.  Pearlglides are LE – I think around $17CAD – and the Chromographics are $15CAD.

My Clinique pencils.  Obviously didn’t pay for these :)  First on the left is a Cream Shaper in Egyptian – such a pretty. shimmering dark khaki shade that works on all skintones.  Very creamy and easy to blend, but is water resistant and will stay put until you wash it off.  The one on the right is a Kohl Shaper, and its a bit harder to draw with, but smokes out beautifully.  This shade is Blackened Coffee – a medium brown.  The Kohl’s come with a sharpener in the cap, which is a great feature.  Generally these pencils run $17 and $17.50CAD, respectively.

The only cream liners I own.  I want to change this big time as I love the application and formula of cream liners.  The first on the left is Smashbox Cream Eyeliner in ……  ($27CAD). Very similar to Clinique’s Egyptian above.  I will likely put this up for swap soon, I really don’t need both.  The second is a Stila Smudge Pot in Black ($26CAD), a charcoal black.  I got this in a Christmas gift about two or three years ago.  It’s drying out a bit now and doesn’t work as well.  When I first got it, it was amazing for creating a defined cat eye.  I don’t use it much now because it’s really only good for smudging out.  Still, a very nice product at one time.

I’ve reviewed these both here and here – MUFE’s Aqua Eyes #0L (a mat black – though it looks kinda brown here, doesn’t it??), and Khol #4K (a forest green).  They don’t look like anything special, but the wear on these is excellent, and the Khol is great for the waterline.  $20 and $19CAD.

Sorry for the majorly wobbly swatches here, these pencils were itty bitty and I could hardly get a grip on them!  They’re all Revlon – one is a Luxurious Color liner in Blackened Sapphire, the other two are from the same pencil – a Streetwear one!!!!!!!  If you remember Streetwear, then you’ll remember they had these neat double-ended pencils – I bought this white one (one end matte, one end shimmery) for the same reason I bought the MAC Chromographic – to line the water line.  However, I realized when I started this post that these have gotta go.  The Luxurious Color was a few years old and down to the nub, and Streetwear was a 90’s collection – I shouldn’t be using anything that old around my eyes!!  Yikes!!  Off to the empties pile they go!

I received Laura Mercier’s Kohl Eye Pencil in Black Violet in a swap earlier in the year.  While I love the deep black-plum shade, it tends to migrate during the day, so I haven’t worn it much for this reason.  Strange, as this is designed to be worn “inside the eyelid, at the base of the lashes.”  A shame really, because otherwise this is a nice pencil.  $25CAD.

My Chanel baby :)  As previously noted, Khaki Platine is relatively innocuous – it doesn’t look like much, but I really find myself reaching for this pencil at least half the time.  It brightens my eye area so easily with such little effort – and it never, ever irritates my eyes, which is becoming a really important feature of any eye product I use now.  At $27CAD it’s expensive as all Chanel products are, but I don’t care: me like-y!

I bought this Lise Watier Eye Shine in Gold ages ago, and rarely wear it.  I was experimenting with it last week though, and my interest was renewed – it looked pretty great alone on my top and bottom lashes with a good coating of black mascara!  Normally I just use it to emphasize the inner corners of the eye.  Lise Watier pencils are similar to UD’s pencils, without the glitter.  I think these are around $17CAD.

My one glitter eyeliner, also from Lise Watier, that I may have worn once ever.  Just not my thing, but they look so pretty in the containers and in swatches!  I never realized that this particular liner has gold and silver glitter amongst the prevalent aqua blue.  Quite pretty, and hasn’t evaporated terribly like some glitter liners (UD’s especially).  Kind of going to waste in my stash, though.  I’m not sure how much these retail for.

Well, that’s another collection down!!  I hope these posts aren’t terribly dull –  I always find it interesting to see what’s in other people’s makeup stash, but my collections are not as large and diverse as some.  In any case, I like to have the swatches on hand because it helps remind me what shades to revisit – or if I give some away, and then pine for them later, I can take a look at these photos and remember exactly why I let them go.  Documentation, you see :)

I’m headed to T.O. in a few days for a work forum, as I’m co-chair of our Atlantic youth network.  I’m going to get to visit Liz from Beauty Reductionista again – yay!!  I can’t wait :)  Again, no shopping trips in our future, but I know one day we’ll get our chance.  And at this time of year, it’s probably a good thing eh?

Happy Hump Day everyone!

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Ooh, Sparkly: Icing’s Blackout

I’ve been diversifying a bit with the topics of my posts, but I still have a handful of nail polish swatches to show you, so I gotta get on it!  I should be receiving my package from Nail Polish Canada any day now, so I’ll be on a swatchapalooza then!  I can’t wait!!

Without further ado (because really…I think I ramble too much), please let me present to you the polish ‘Blackout’ from Icing’s nail polish line (Icing being Claire’s little sister I think):

I layered two coats of Blackout over OPI’s Diva of Geneva , as this polish is fairly thin and really needs some underwear first.  You could get enough coverage after three coats, but not the same depth.  I saw a post once where they layered this over China Glaze Ruby Slippers, and is was awesome.  However, I was wearing a specific outfit with pink and wanted it layered over pink to coordinate.  You can’t really tell but I would know.  And I’m anal like that.

Cheap-y polish, $5.49 or something at Icing (sad that $5.49 seems like a steal now, after the price I’ve paid for some polishes!), and applies well with no real issues aside from the sheerness – which is sort of a given as this polish is pretty much a jelly.  The holo shimmer in this is actually fairly apparent without any particular lighting (though it was tough to capture in photos), which is a plus.  This isn’t a polish I wear often, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate it or or that it’ll go up for swap; sometimes there are *those* polishes that you really like but you just need the right occasion – this is one of those.  Just the way it is, folks :)

I hope everyone is getting into the holiday spirit and enjoying all that the season brings!  Don’t let all the hulabaloo get to you – remember what it’s all about – the rum ‘n eggnog! LOL ~kidding!~  Really though, I hope no one is stressing themselves out, it’s not worth it and it taints the beauty of this time of year!

 

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Sure to Be a Crowd Pleaser: Joe Fresh Twilight (A Flakie!)

I’ve been meaning to get to this review for some time now, but my first quick swatching session with this polish left something to be desired.  Finally, I brought myself to try it again, with more success – though I’ll warn you first off that flakie polishes aren’t my favorite to begin with.  So take that knowledge into consideration while reading the review, because it’ll mean a bias toward the product.

It sounds silly that I bought a polish that I may not have liked from the get-go, doesn’t it?  I do have a method to the madness though – despite my ambivalent feelings about flakies, I’m smart enough to know how much other people love them, and I figured for $4 I could afford to pick this up so I could showcase it on the blog.  Unfortunately, Joe Fresh polish seems to be a bit of a hard find, even for those of us in Canada, but if you get an opportunity to try them somehow, I’d say check them out because they do have some neat shades (some in which I’ve reviewed, here and here).
‘Twilight’ has a sheer black jelly base with primarily green-flashing flakies encapsulated within the polish.  In the right light you can also see red, yellow and orange as well, which makes it pretty neat to look at.  This polish makes me think of Halloween in a big way, though it’s wearable all year round.  If you have a black or near black polish on hand, I recommend applying a coat of that first before moving forward with ‘Twilight’ – for two reasons.  One, this polish is relatively sheer, and while I only used two coats for the swatches you see here, I could have used a third.  Using a dark polish first will help give a deeper, darker look.  Second, these flakies were the absolute WORST to remove, and an extra coat of polish after the base coat would have probably helped with the removal process.  And, it stained my nails, so there’s that too.  Lastly, another thing to keep in mind is that even though $4 seems like a bit of a steal, these bottles are only 0.2 oz, which means you’re paying $20 per ounce, which is greater than Zoya, OPI and Orly polishes (on average).  So it’s not as great a deal as it seems.  Sound like a polish you wanna have, right??I took this shot next to the kleenex box in my room – bizarre, yes, but the colors reminded me so much of Twilight!  Don’t you think?

Despite the irritation aspect of ‘Twilight,’ if you’re a flakie fan then I think you’ll be willing to put up with the downsides.  As you can see, the effect is really noticeable in all lighting, and quite striking.  The jelly finish of the base gives it a really murky look and allows the flakes to shine through rather than dull them at all.  I’m still not a fan of these Joe Fresh bottles – being so short and stubby with a rather large top makes it tricky to see where you’re applying the polish, though it wasn’t a deal-breaker.

Overall, I like the uniqueness of this polish but that’s pretty much it.  I’m tempted to put it up for swap because it’s unlikely to get much play in my world (except for maybe near Halloween).  I feel like I need to give flakies a real chance, but so far I’ve really not been into the effect all that much.  How do you feel about flakie polishes, yay or nay?

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An Inside Look: My NARS Collection

I had a hard time coming up with the title for this post, as to state I have a NARS collection sounds like I should have a HUGE stash, and in fact I don’t – but out of all the cosmetic brands I own, I have more NARS makeup than any other, so that constitutes as a collection, right?   Anyway, don’t say I didn’t warn you!Modest, to some I’m sure.  In any case, I definitely feel that NARS is the brand that gets most of my money on a consistent basis.  I’m pretty much a devotee and I’m certain my relatively small assemblage will continue to grow until it is no longer ‘modest.’  I’m OK with that!

Earlier in the week, several of my fave blogs wrote on one of their own collections – of blushes.  As I am becoming something of a blush enthusiast myself, I read these posts eagerly with a mixture of interest and envy.  While their numbers were all near the 30 range, a quick look in my train case revealed that I have a measly 8 blushes – a fair number if one is to be realistic, but clearly I am nowhere near a true aficionado yet!  Anyway, to the point: half of my blush collection is made up of NARS shades (plus 3 of my 4 highlighters).  While there is something like, 31 shades of NARS blush, I have had an idea percolating in my head that I want to start a collection of just NARS blushes – I know having 4 hardly makes a dent, but it’s something to work towards right?

Anyway, again, getting back on track – here are my NARS blushes, or 1/2 of my blush stash:Starting with the most exciting, as well as my first NARS blush if you can believe it – WOW, take a look at Taj Mahal!  When I was first breaking into higher-end cosmetics, I wanted to buy really interesting, one of a kind products you couldn’t replicate at the drugstore.  Case In Point: Taj Mahal is a fiery orange with high shimmer.  It looks terrifying, not only to the shade but the formulation, but it’s actually quite beautiful on the right skintone.  I limit this to the Summer months as it just feels that way to me, though the shimmer probably would do wonders for Winter-pallid skin.  It can show up rather noticeably in sunshine so a light hand and some major buffing is necessary, but the resulting look is well worth it.My next blush purchase from NARS was the lovely Torrid, which the SA noted would be my version of the award-winning ‘Orgasm,’ which was too light for my skin.  I’ve gotten a lot of use out of this blush, especially in Spring and Summer.  It’s a lovely peachy-pink shade that really goes with just about anything, but I like to switch it up (but of course).  Very flattering and girly on, and the shimmer really doesn’t even factor into it when all’s said and done.  Another winner.I snagged Turkish Red, a discontinued NARS cream blush, through a swap, and at first I was not impressed.  I wanted a red blush to give me that ‘cold weather flush,’ but I found it just looked silly once on.  However, I gave it another shot and made sure to keep a light hand (I use my MAC #130, which is why you see pock-marks in the blush), and now I find myself reaching for this shade again and again – it almost gives me a two-in-one look where I look like I got some sun, as well as was out in the cold.  Really pretty effect.After reading the infamous ‘blush posts,’ I confess I pretty much ran out to Sephora and picked up Sin, in order to make myself feel better.  Also, I had just finished a blush (which is kind of amazing) and figured I was allowed to buy a replacement of sorts.  I’ve owned this blush now for a total of 26 hours, and already I can say with certainty that this is my favorite of all my blushes (all 8), hands down.  Wowza, this blush was made for my  brown-olive skintone!  An MUA-er noted that this shade works well for olive skin as it “swallows up the purple” – sound strange, but considering some reviews I’ve heard find it produces a bruise-like effect, it seems accurate, as on my skin it looks absolutely wonderful.  It turns out to be more of a neutral pink-mauve and is ridiculously flattering and perfect for Winter.  I haven’t been this excited about a makeup item in a really long time – I woke up this morning and was so happy just to know that I’ll get to wear it again!  So, so sad, but ultimately true.

NARS blush retails for $29CAD.

Next, we have almost my entire collection of highlighters, courtesy of NARS. First, my fun Summer purchase, one of the coveted illuminators in Laguna (reviewed here).  I didn’t get as much use out of this as I’d hoped, mostly because I’m lazy and an extra step wasn’t always in the cards.  Still a great product though and I’m hoping I’ll start pulling it out more this coming year.I received this from the Sephora rep after the luncheon I attended back in May.  It’s a lovely bronzed shade of highlight, that could be used in place of bronzer for fairer skins – for me it’s really just a highlight with a touch of bronzed effect.  I can use this year-round, which I like, and the texture is so smooth and not at all greasy.  This is my first full-sized Multiple and it has me considering buying another down the road (they retail for $46 CAD).I hounded people on MUA to get this product, one of The Multiples in South Beach.  I wanted it so bad and no one wanted to swap for it with me – until finally someone approached me for a swap and had this deluxe sample in her swap list.  Shortly thereafter I received the Laguna Multiple from my Sephora luncheon, and didn’t have as much need for this.  I’m not sure if it’s because it’s a sample, but the texture on this is so smooshy, it’s quite irritating.  I can’t apply this directly to the face, but have to use my fingers because otherwise it’ll deposit way too much product and ball up on my skin.  So, needless to say I’m glad this is just a small portion of product – though the shade and look of it is quite lovely.  Sort of like warm rose-gold.

Moving right along…NARS eye shadows!I bought this Habanera Eyeshadow Duo without first trying it on or even really swatching it, which was a mistake.  I was going by the awesome photos on MUA, but sadly, on me this duo falls flat.  The metallic ice blue shade is far too much on my darker skin, and the pretty plummy shimmer has poor color payoff that makes me sad.  I have this up for swap now, which hurts my heart a bit as it was my first NARS eyeshadow purchase – and I hate to part with a NARS product, regardless – but it’s gotta go.  I never used it, and it could be receiving some mad love elsewhere, so…Ohhh, how badly I wanted this Rajasthan duo from last year’s Fall collection!!  As soon as it landed on counters I scooped it up, and I’m still very pleased with the purchase.  The golden metallic shade is very subtle but really, really gorgeous; the dark blackened-teal shade is mysterious and adds depth to any look.  Its texture is a bit more stiff than the gold shade, but it isn’t usually a problem.  Overall, a solid combo which you can make work a variety of ways.The lovely Grand Palais duo from this past Spring collection.  Previously reviewed here.  I don’t use this as much as I’d like, but I still get great pleasure from it, especially the taupe side, and I think this adds two new shades to my eyeshadow collection, that I might not have purchased otherwise.  Soft and lovely!

NARS eyeshadow duos retail for $38CAD.

My one lipgloss from the brand:I posted a swatch of Wonder back in the Summer after I received it also at the Sephora luncheon.  Great shade of tomato red-orange.  My first and only NARS gloss ever, and I really love everything about it – the texture, the opacity, the shade.  Eventually I’ll pick up another from the line (they retail for $28CAD), but at this point I have too many to entertain buying any more at the moment!

And the basics:I totally forgot to include the Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Base in the group shot, oops!  Too late now (literally – it’s almost midnight)!  I discussed the awesomeness of the base in my Best Of post – really stellar product that works wonders for keeping your eye makeup in place.  Go check it out!I also just extolled the virtues of the Sheer Glow foundation in my last post – this shade in Syracuse is an insane match for my skin, it blows my mind a little bit.  Definitely get to your nearest NARS counter and at least try this formula out, it’s worth a look!As much as I love loose powder for it’s long-lasting ability – as in, you don’t have to buy it very often because it lasts forever! – I also hate it for the same reason.  I thrive on change, and MAN do I ever want to change to a different powder than this one!  This is the shade Mountain, and that’s another thing I’m totally over – powders with shades, rather than just an overall translucent one.  I won’t make that mistake again.  In the meantime, I swear I’ve only used a third of this product, and I’ve had it for probably two years!!  It really just needs to get be finished already.  Absolutely nothing wrong with the product, it sets makeup well and looks natural, but I’m just done with it now.  I want something new, damnit!! (The loose powders retail for $42CAD)

So that’s my collection – nothing too crazy but I like just about all of it and I feel that it was all money very well spent.  I’d like to try some of the new Longwear Eyeliners, and the Larger than Life mascaras, as well as continue to pick up a new blush every so often.  NARS to me is like the upscale, less gimmicky version of MAC, which suits me to a tee.

What do you think of my collection?  And of NARS in general? 

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A Year’s Worth of Favorite Products: My Top Ten of 2011

I started to write my regular ‘Fave Product of the Month’ post, but realized that 2011 is nearing it’s close, and there are many other products I’d like to write about before the year comes to an end.  Since December is looking like a crazy-busy month for me (and likely most of us!), I figured I’d do the Top Ten post now, rather than later, where it might get put on the backburner and come 2012, I’ll have never done it (case in point – this post has been in the works for three days and I’m just getting it out now!).  And so – in ten separate categories, here are my personal fave products of 2011:

1) Primer:  While I have been impressed by both MUFE’s HD Primer, and the Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer, my true fave of the bunch is NARS’ Smudgeproof Eyelid Primer.  I have been a faithful devotee to UD’s Primer Potion for a couple years, but found it somewhat drying and could make certain shadow formulations too intense (metallic, in particular).  NARS’ version is colorless, blending seamlessly into the skin, and feels like nothing on.  It doesn’t change the color or intensity of my shadows/liners, but they wear infinitely better and longer with this applied first.  A must-have if you want your eye products to last all day, or for a night of dancing.  Absolutely no negatives on this one!  $29CAD.

2) Foundation/Concealer:  I’ve tried my fair share of concealers this year, and none of them have really lived up to my hopes.  However, my NARS Sheer Glow foundation (reviewed here) surpassed any dreams I had – while I don’t *need* too much coverage, I like a nice wearing foundation that gives my skin a natural, flawless look without too much fuss.  This formula in the shade Syracuse matches my skin to a T.  I worried that this might be too heavy for my oilier skin, but it’s proven not to be the case – rather, it’s improved the look of my skin and kept it hydrated during cold, windy days and nights.  I wouldn’t choose this in the warmer months, as I prefer something very sheer and lightweight, but for Fall and Winter, this is an definite go-to for me. $55CAD.

3) Eyeshadow: This is a toss-up for me, because different shadows do different things.  For a basic, dress up or down shadow, I’d reach for Urban Decay’s Smog in a heart beat.  This bronze-y/brown shadow is close enough to my skintone to be natural looking, but metallic enough to be perfect for a special evening or event.  Not to mention that most of UD’s shadows ($20CAD) feel like absolute butter (this one being no exception) – it’s a smooth, evenly pigmented formula that wears really well.

Following close behind, another versatile shadow I have is Chanel’s Emerveille (reviewed here).  Worn all over the lid, it’s very subtle but the beautiful shimmer in it is far from boring.  It’s makes a truly fabulous highlight for inner eye and brow bone, and is terribly easy to apply with a finger or dense brush.  I’ll never get bored of this shadow!  $37CAD and worth every penny.

4) Eyeliner: Though I really adore MUFE’s Aqua Liners, particularly #14 (a gorgeous, multi-colored shimmer liquid liner with a charcoal base – $26CAD), my heart is forever taken by Illamasqua’s Havoc Precision Ink Liner.  OMG.  Seriously, I gaze at this liner lovingly and sigh.  It’s so unusual and yet so ridiculously amazing and flattering – that combination of pretty yet unique is hard to find, and oh-so-covetable.  And the wear on this baby is outta this world!  C’mon, if I can sleep with this on and wake up without nary a budge or smudge?  Yeah, that’s kind of awesome.  $27CAD.

5) Lippie: I actually thought at first that I didn’t have anything of note in this category, but then I took a look and realized I was forgetting two gems – Buxom’s Big and Healthy Lip Stick in Sydney, and MAC’s Dare You lipstick.  I know….I have two products in this category too – seems I’m not so good at making decisions, eh?  Regardless, both of these should be mentioned anyway, because one came out this year and the other didn’t, so we’ll leave the latter as an honorable mention (since I’m also having difficulties chosing products from the right timeframe!).  Also, both are classics that every gal should have in her lippie wardrobe – maybe not these specific shades, but as a general rule ;)

And so.  My first choice is a nude lippie, which is a great staple color to own, particularly as it pairs very well with the more intense eye makeup looks I tend to wear.  As some of you may know, I was on the hunt for a great nude shade – and I found perfection in Sydney.  Not too pink/peach/beige or otherwise, this just mutes my lips enough so that my eyes take centre stage.  A touch of gloss on top (because it’s fairly matte), and I’m ready to go ($23CAD).Runner-up notable lippie is MAC’s Dare You ($17.50CAD), which you’ll be happy to hear is a permanent shade, and is also one very sexy deep red.  For my complexion, and taking into consideration my fuller lips, this is the perfect shade of red for me as it’s classic, stand-out, yet demure enough that it isn’t aggressively in your face.  As much as I love the bright lips look that’s so popular right now, it just doesn’t work for me, sadly.  Or least I haven’t figured out how, yet.  In the interim, this makes me feel powerful and beautiful, and requires very little else on the face.  I’m completely sold!

6) Nail Polish: I’ve tried and worn a plethora of polishes this year, more so than any other in my (relatively) short 29 years.  It’s extremely hard – nay, impossible –  to narrow it down to only one shade that was above all others, but if it must be done…I’d pick Chanel’s Peridot ($27CAD).  Are you surprized?  I think not :P  It just captivated me so completely over all the other new offerings this year.  To be fair, there were some serious runners up, Essie’s Power Clutch ($11CAD)being among them.  Also, some shades that were not necessarily released this year – Illamasqua’s Baptiste ($22CAD), and butter London’s Snog ($18CAD), could even unsurp Peridot, but in keeping with my faves of 2011 – Peridot takes the prize.  Slam and…DUNK.

7) Face (Skincare) Product: Even though I’ve been singing praises for Ole Henriksen’s Truth Serum, and I’m loving the effects on my skin, I have to give this one away to Clinique’s Turnaround Concentrate (or Night Moisturizer, depending on the season – $47 and $51.50CAD, respectively).  This product takes care of it all – clogged pores, acne, flakiness, hyperpigmentation, uneven skin texture – the nature of the exfoliation really handles most problems that can crop up with your skin.  I certainly notice a difference in my skin when I’m “off the blue stuff” (as my Mom would say).  I lied – this also is a repeat product in my stash, though I get this one for free :)  If I had to buy it with my own hard earned cash though, I would.  It’s really the workhorse in my skincare regime.

8) Body Product: My body care routine is terribly boring, unfortunately – wash, moisturize, repeat; that’s about it.  But, due to the simplicity of my regime, I absolutely needed to find products that would be effective.  There are a million and one moisturizers out there, half of which I can’t use because of their fragrance; the others are either not moisturizing enough, or so occlusive that they make my skin sticky and bumping (due to clogged pores).  Aveeno’s Eczema Care Cream ($10.49CAD) is a miracle in a tube – it keeps my skin hydrated all day, but doesn’t make me greasy and leaves my skin as smooth as a baby’s bottom.  I never thought I’d see the day where I was buying a product hand over fist, repeatedly – SO not my style!  But, here it is, I’ve become devoted to a product – call me a convert :)

9) Hair Product: Sadly, my hair care system isn’t much more interesting than my body care – there’s not a whole lot you can do with this curly mop!  However, there is one product that has been my standby for the last year or so (though…also not released this year, dang!) – TIGI’s Foxy Curls Curl Contour Cream ($19CAD).  Smells like skittles (mmmm), and makes my curls soft and springy, but never stiff, crunchy or sticky.  I really love this styling lotion, and it lasts AGES – probably about 8 months start to finish, which is crazy – particularly for my hair as it EATS product.  Sadly…due to my new fear of fragrance, when this is finished, it’s finished – I’m too nervous to keep using it for fear that it’s affecting my skin in some detrimental way.  We had a great run though, and I highly recommend trying it out if you have curly hair or waves that need a little boost!

10) Fragrance: Despite my avoidance of fragranced products, I actually don’t have any issue wearing fragrance itself – I guess because it’s placed in specific spots rather than all over.  Sadly, the product that wins this category for me is not yet something I own (nor was it released in 2011)…but Prada’s Infusion d’Iris perfume is AH-MA-ZING!!  and therefore well worth mentioning, despite the fact that it was launched in 2007 (LOL).  This is SO not my usual choice for fragrance – I’m typically into very gourmand scents, ones that smell like food, like Hanae Mori’s Butterfly, but every so often a scent like this will take hold of me, and won’t let go until I give in and buy a bottle.  I have a sample of this, which I wear for only special occasions and which has lasted for a lot longer than I expected it to – but it’s nearing it’s end, which means I’ll have to bite the bullet and invest the better part of $100 just to have a small bottle of it (which is all I ever buy for fragrance because I never wear the same one twice).  This woody floral boasts notes of mandarin, vetiver, and cedarwood, which compliment the Iris Pallida perfectly.  By the end of 2011, I WILL have my very own bottle…and won’t I be smelling sweet :)

I feel like I’m missing some products that surely deserve major love and attention, but at this very moment I can’t think of what they might be!!  What I am thinking of though, is to add one more additional category – my favorite BLOGS of 2011.  There are some amazingly wonderful reads out there and I think they deserve props for doing what they do so darn well.  Most of these are well-known and likely will come of no surprize, but nonetheless they bring me immense reading pleasure.  So, here are my five absolute must-read-every-day faves:

Beauty Editor – Though I’m not entirely a fan of the shorthand words that are in heavy rotation on the blog (its totes about the prodz!), I am LOVING the in-depth posts that don’t scrimp on information about the latest makeup trends, skincare innovations, or celebrity styles.  I devour each and every post from start to finish, and I always leave with much more knowledge than I started with.  I feel like I am getting insider knowledge every time I visit the page.  A definite must-read if you want to learn as well as look!

Beauty ReductionistaBest.Idea.Ever. for a blog – beauty reduction!  As cosmetic junkies, we all know what it’s like to have just too much - and Liz lets us join in on her journey towards reducing her stash and quelling ever-present lemmings that never go away.  Of course, sometimes she indulges, and that just makes her human – there are so many pretty things out there, how do you resist!?  Liz infuses her posts with hilarity and insight, which make for a powerful combination and a terrific read.  She recognizes her weaknesses but never gives up on her quest, and I admire her tenacity every day.  It helps keep ME on the straight and narrow too!

Ommorphia Beauty Bar – OK, I mean, who comes up with an amazing blog name like this in the first place?!?  Sheesh.  From the very first time I stumbled upon this blog I knew it was something special.  Not only are her photos (and nails!) first-rate, but she injects a little something extra into each post – you know she’s not just firing them off without putting in a lot of time and effort into each one.  She oozes kindness and this positive energy that you can feel right through the blogosphere.  Looking for swatches of the latest nail polishes to hit the streets?  Eugenia has got you covered.  Go!  Now!!

Cafe Makeup (and The Beauty Look Book) – I tied these two together because when I think of one, I can’t help but think of the other.  The ladies of these blogs are absolutely some of the classiest I’ve come across – their taste is impeccable and the cosmetics stash they each have is to be seriously revered.  To spend a day at their vanity (or wherever they store their collection) would be akin to Scrooge McDuck swimming in his sea of money – pure bliss.  The infinite number of high-end products they own is something I look up to – quality all the way.  I appreciate their genuine admiration of the very beautiful nature of cosmetics in general – to them, it seems more about the experience of the product itself, and not just the prestige of owning the more luxurious items of the beauty world.

She Cooks, He Eats – This is somewhat off-topic as the nature of this blog is food- rather than beauty-related, but I just can’t help but be continuously drawn to Kat’s delicious pictures of either her own current culinary pursuits or of possible gastronomic adventures to be taken.  I am left drooling at the sight of cake batter pancakes, or five different types of nachoes (yum!!), and I just enjoy the simple, down-to-Earth (yet far from boring) approach she takes to relating her passion to her readers.  As someone who is just beginning to take a real interest in having fun in the kitchen, Kat’s blog appeared on my radar at just the perfect moment.

I’m sure that I appear biased toward these blogs, but truly – each one of them is something I look forward to reading each and every day, and I feel that they all take a truly unique, and fabulous approach to the task which I love.  I measure my own blogging path against these ladies, and only hope that I can provide my readers which half as much awesomeness as they do.  I’ll keep trying! :)

So there are my faves of 2011, whether they were created in 2011 or prior, they’re what have been rocking my world this year.  I’d love to hear what some of your own favorites are – I’m always in the market for new inspiration!

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By George, I Think I’ve Done It! My Near-Perfect Skincare Regime

Over the past few months, I’ve been researching products and tweaking my skincare regime, trying to streamline it as well as find effective products that don’t irritate my sensitive, eczema-prone skin.  While there are still a few items I’d like to incorporate, for the most part I think I’ve successfully found a system that works to effectively cleanse my oily skin, keep it  smooth and soft, and which doesn’t cause eczema flare-ups (fragrance free is a must) – all while preventing aging as best as possible.  While I’ve had good success with all of the products I’m about to show you, note that everyone’s skin is different and requires (and tolerates) different ingredients and treatments, so these are just some that work well for MY skin and it’s particular traits.  Nevertheless, I thought it might be handy for others who have similar concerns or for those looking to try a new product :)

First of all, a quick description of my skin (if you aren’t already familiar): Oily, but not overly so – gets shiny in the t-zone by mid-day and on cheeks closer to my nose.  Blotting once a day is necessary.  Pores are slightly visible on cheeks and nose, but not a concern.  Break outs are infrequent, though the odd pimple may occur every month or so, and high stress can cause consistent breakouts.  If breakout is severe, scarring may occur (seen as dark spots).  Can have dry patches (particularly on forehead, around mouth, and jawline) due to eczema; sometimes scarring (seen as lack of pigment) results.  Skin around eyes is normal, very few lines, and has recently become somewhat sensitive and can have dry patches at outer corners.  Little, if any signs of aging overall (yet!).

OK!  So now, here’s the rundown of the products that are floating my boat as of late (oh yeah, and by the way – this is gonna be a wordy post, so get comfortable!):

CleansersMAC Cleanse Off Oil, Boscia Clear Complexion Cleanser with Botanical Blast

Currently, for my morning wash I’m just using up the last drops of my Purity cleanser from Philosophy to cleanse my skin.  When that runs out, I’m unsure if I want to use the Boscia both day and night, or find something else for the morning.  I also have Philosophy’s The Microdelivery Wash, which I specifically bought to use in the AM – but I suspect its too harsh on my skin and was causing eczema flare-ups, so I’d feel more comfortable finding something else.  Some days I don’t even wash my face in the morning if I feel like its a particularly cold and windy day.  Likely I’ll find a creamy cleanser just to rinse off the night’s product/sebum but that will cushion the skin from the cold.

At night, if I wore a full face of make-up, I’ll use the MAC oil (which I’ve reviewed here) to remove it first, and then go through my normal cleansing routine with the Boscia.  I picked up the Boscia cleanser a few weeks ago, and have only started using it last week.  It’s supposed to ‘purify pores and bolster skin’s natural defenses against irritations and reactions,’ and does not contains parabens, sulfates, or fragrances – hello, this product was designed for me!  I’ve used it enough to determine whether it will or won’t work with my skin, and it’s a definitely winner.  It comes out of the pump sort of with an oil-gel texture, and then foams when applied to a wet face.  The foam is one of the most luxurious I’ve felt, its so creamy and smooth and doesn’t feel like it’s stripping my skin at all – but when I rinse, I feel perfectly clean with absolutely no residue.  I love it!  It’s a pleasure to use each evening.  I just wish it were in a bigger container (only 5oz) – another reason why I want to have a separate day cleanser, because I want this to last!  At $32CDN a pop, it’s not exactly the cheapest cleanser ever.  But well worth the price for the way it feels and works.

Daytime Moisturizers/TreatmentsOle Henriksen Truth Serum Collagen Booster, Clinique Superdefense Age Defense Moisturizer SPF25 (Combo-Oily to Oily), Clarins Sun Control Eye Contour Care SPF30

After cleansing in the morning (if I do), I apply Ole’s Truth Serum to my entire face and neck (previously reviewed here).  I leave it on for as long as I can to let it penetrate before adding Clinique’s Superdefense SPF25 moisturizer on top.  Though I’m starting to feel like its silly to use a separate SPF product for around the eye, I use Clarins Sun Control eye cream every day.  As it seems like a lot of products cause irritation to my sensitive eye area now, I think it’s better to be safe than sorry, and this doesn’t cause any issues whatsoever – and it lasts for freakin’ ever!!  This is my second tube and I’m sure I’ll have it for another year (or until the expiry runs out).  I got two years out of my last one; for about $30, I’ll take it!  That’s like $0.04 a day (for those who like to do the math like I do :P).

Nighttime Moisturizers/TreatmentsClinique Turnaround Overnight Radiance Moisturizer, The Body Shop Wise Woman Eye Cream

Nighttime is a pretty quick affair!  After cleansing, I just slap on Clinique’s new Turnaround moisturizer, and add a dab of The Body Shop’s Wise Woman eye cream and I’m good to go!  Eye creams have got to be the best ever – people have a hard time shelling out what feels like a lot for such a small jar of product, but they last forever!  I’ve had this one since probably this time last year – phew!  It’s gotta be nearing the end, though I can’t tell.  Once I finish this up, I’m going to move on to the bottle of 100 Percent Pure Coffee Bean eye cream I got from eBeauty last month (reviewed here).  Mainly I’m looking for a product that’ll help alleviate darkness (next to impossible) and which contains antioxidants to prevent aging.  The 100 Percent Pure product is actually better suited to my needs, but I read on MUA that the Wise Woman cream was pretty stellar.  It’s supposed to reduce the appearance of dark circles and puffiness, hydrate, and smooth the skin around the eyes by ‘filling in’ lines via cotton fibers. I do like it – it hydrates nicely and I haven’t seen any increase in lines around the eye – but it’s a bit of a premature purchase considering who it’s actually designed for.  Great price though, at $24CAD (15mL).

ExtrasComplex 15 Daily Face Cream, Josie Maran Organic Argan Oil Moisturizer, Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque

These are products that I use semi-regularly, but not every day.  The Complex 15 moisturizer is a great drugstore basic that I use if my skin is being reactive, or if I’ve done a treatment and need something no-frills to avoid creating a reaction.  It doesn’t contain lanolin, which I’ve recently discovered can cause allergic reactions to those who are also allergic to wool such as myself (as it is a wool-derivative).  You learn something new every day.

The Josie Maran Argan Oil was going to be my antioxidant ‘serum’ (as it’s rich in Vitamin E) but then two things happened: 1) I received the Ole Henriksen Truth Serum and fell in love, and 2) I realized that this Argan Oil is a bit to rich for my skin to use on a regular basis.  So, how I use it now is on the weekends, usually Sunday, I thoroughly cleanse my skin and then apply this all over my face and neck as sort of a treatment, to really hydrate and nourish my skin.  I try to avoid wearing any makeup on top as well – which works as this oil kind of gives you a great, healthy glow so that no makeup is really needed.  This is a travel-size bottle and it cost $18CAD for 0.5oz, which is a bit pricey for the size, but you don’t need to use a whole lot, and for my purposes it should last a while.  Jury’s out on if I’ll repurchase, however.

I picked up the Queen Helene mask well over two years ago, when I was in Vegas.  I had read great things about it on MUA, and I was experiencing a lot of oiliness and a few breakouts, so I thought I’d pick it up.  It was super cheap, like $4.99US, but I’ve never seen it anywhere here in Canada.  In any case, it’s just your standard clay mask I think, nothing terribly special, although it’s fairly gentle so I don’t feel sensitivity after using it and it doesn’t make me feel as dry as the Sahara, so that’s a plus.  For the price I don’t mind either way, though it’s lasted me SOOO long (I use it about once a week just on areas of oiliness/breakout) – I’m just sort of done with it now.  But I don’t want to toss it just yet.  If it’s not finished by next Summer, out it goes.  I’ll be time for a new oil-absorbing mask by that time!

So there you have it, the full low-down on my skincare regime!  There are just two products I’d like to add eventually (aside from a morning cleanser) – one, REN’s Glycolactic Renewal Mask, which I’ve had a few samples of and is absolutely AMAZING – results in baby soft skin, with absolutely no irritation whatsoever; and two, a retinol product to use at night (which will likely replace the Clinique moisturizer as I don’t think the two would get along well).  Retinol is one of those ingredients that seems to have stood the test of time in the skincare world – years later we’re still hearing that it is the be-all end-all in terms of fighting off aging and repairing existing damage.  Sign me up, please!  I just want to find an affordable option that is also effective…so far I’m coming up empty-handed.  I won’t give up the search though!

I’d like to note that what you see in this post is almost my entire skincare ‘wardrobe’ (so to speak) that I have!  I’ve really pared down.  Aside from a small handful of samples which are nearing completion (YES!), I only have a few other unmentioned products, which were excluded as I do not currently use them for various reasons.  I have another serum (Clinique’s Turnaround Concentrate, which I got free and am saving for warmer months), two other masks (Pangea’s Japanese Matcha Tea Facial Mask, and Korres Yoghurt Face Mask, both of which I like in theory but which may or may not irritate my skin – the Korres is up for swap), the Philosophy Microdelivery Wash (which is up for swap), and Kiehl’s Micro Dermabrasion Scrub (which I received in a swap, have used only a handful of times, and may put back up for swap – scrubs are too irritating for me!).

Ok, end ramble…now!  What do you think of my regime?  Any products you’ve tried and loved/hated?  Any suggestions on products to incorporate/check out??

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(Because Apparently I’m Living In the Past) Another Throwback from Seasons Past: OPI Holiday Glow

By all accounts, this polish should be a stunner.  Deep burgundy-brown base, with gold microglitter and a hint of red shimmer.  Even when it’s first painted on the nail, the flashes of red sparkle give it depth and intrigue.  However…OPI’s Holiday Glow, from the 2009 Holiday Wishes collection (the same one which produced the gorgeous deep purple flakie-packed Merry Midnight), it’s a little boring for me.  Just because a polish has unexpected shimmer doesn’t automatically mean it’s going to be awesome (case in point: Zoya’s Neeka and Yara).  Though, to be fair, I have been awfully hard on most shades coming across my fingertips lately.  So I’ll let you decide for yourself:
I think part of the reason I’m not loving Holiday Glow is because it’s sorta brown, I’m sorta brown…there isn’t enough contrast to make it stand out as much as it should.  Certainly if you’re a vampy polish lover, if you can find a bottle of this anywhere (I got mine through a swap last year), give it a look at least.  It’s not a total fail, just not really a win – for me anyway, and I’ve got enough nail polish now that I feel justified in being hard on those shades that aren’t blowing my socks off.  It just means that I can wear those awesome shades more often without reservation, so I’m cool with that :)

On a semi-related note, I’m thinking about trying to keep my polish stash under 100.  I’m nearing the mark now, and I’ve been consistently putting up for swap shades that aren’t living up to other, more amazing polishes in my stash.  I’m not sure how long I can do this for before all the shades I own are kickass, and I surpass the 100 mark, but I’m going to put in a valiant effort in any case.  I like change and that often means I get bored of what I already own, so a polish that I loved in one season, I might be so over by the next.  We’ll see how it goes, anyway!

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