Posts Tagged review

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

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

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

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

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

Skindinavia The Makeup Primer Spray

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bold, matte lips on the cheap with Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balms

Continuing with my drugstore makeup affair, a couple weeks ago, Revlon’s ColorBurst Matte Balms were on sale for I think about $6 at Shoppers Drug Mart. I had glanced at them before but ultimately decided against them, mostly because I’m a snob like that and not for any good reason. The packaging is fine (plain, but non-offensive to my frivolous heart), and the colour selection is good – and, from reviews it sounds like they’re a pretty decent product. But I have a hard time resisting a good sale when it comes to beauty products, and I’ve been spending considerably less on cosmetics than usual, so I figured what the heck.

I went big and came home with THREE SHADES!

Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm

I’m not usually one to buy in ‘bulk’ – I like to have a variety of brands and product types, and rarely buy more than one of anything (MAC products being probably one of the very few exceptions). But after swatching these, I decided to aim for a rounded view of them buy going with three varied shades – a nude (Complex), a bold coral orange (Audacious), and a bright fuchsia (Showy)!

Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm swatchesIn sunlight, from left to right: Complex, Audacious, and Showy

Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm swatchesIn shade, from left to right: Complex, Audacious, and Showy

The Matte Balms are a matte (duh) lip colour that has the slip of a balm, but the look of a semi-opaque lipstick. The brighter colours are more pigmented, while Complex (the nude) is a bit more transparent – which I think is a good thing, as an opaque nude can get just plain awful, FAST. While these feel very comfortable on the lips for a matte finish, they do tend to emphasize flakes and dryness if you don’t prep the lips carefully first. I apply a thick balm to the lips for at least 15 minutes before using these, as I almost always have some flakiness to deal with. Having said that, I quite like these (especially the two brighter shades) and I don’t mind the extra steps required in order to wear these well.

Here’s how they look worn:

Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm in Complex Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm in ComplexComplex

Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm in Audacious Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm in AudaciousAudacious

Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm in Showy Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm in ShowyShowy

Out of the three, Showy is the most unique to my lip ‘wardrobe,’ as I usually opt for deeper fuchsia shades. However, I am sort of in love with how this looks, as its slightly white base makes it really pop against my dark skin tone. These cool pinks just plain WORK (on me)!  Audacious is somewhat similar to Tom Ford’s True Coral lipstick that I have, but it’s sheerer nature makes it a bit more wearable, and I’m digging how it looks kind of tropical! Finally, Complex is a nice enough nude – an OK tone for my skin, but a bit flat and dry-looking if I don’t blend it out a fair bit. I think it’ll look a bit better once I’m not quite as tanned – or perhaps with a touch of lipgloss on top (thus defeating the ‘matte’ idea, but that’s OK – whatever works!).

Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm in AudaciousAudacious matches the colour of my hanging flower basket! Yay for colours found in nature! :D

I was going to save this post and schedule it to come out later in the week, but I’m sort of excited to show you these swatches – 2 outta 3 ain’t bad, and they’re really perfect for summer! They’ve certainly helped me get my beauty ‘fix’ without breaking the bank (or even totalling altogether how much a department store lipstick would cost!), so I’m pleased about that. Liz @BeautyReductionista sounds like she’s also converted (she also has Audacious) so if that doesn’t compel you to at least check these out, well then…STOP RESISTING.

Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm

Have you tried any of the Revlon Matte Balms? Do you buy drugstore products, or stick to department store finds?

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Maybelline Summer 2014: Color Tattoo 24hr Eyeshadow in #115 Shimmering Sea

Lately I’ve been finding myself buying more drugstore makeup than usual – partly due to the fact that we’re saving like mad for our downpayment toward a new home (thus, pricey makeup is kind of a no-no), and partly due to the fact that there have been some good sales lately, and that’s the ONLY time I buy drugstore makeup (ironically, I can’t justify paying full price for a drugstore product, but don’t bat an eye at spending $40 on a department-store blush. Go figure).

Maybelline 24hr Color Tattoo Eyeshadow in #115 Shimmering Sea

On Saturday, while working at the Clinique counter in one of my local Shoppers Drug Marts, I spotted the Limited Edition summer 2014 collection from Maybelline. The last time I worked at the store, a few weeks earlier, I gave the serious eye to one of the Color Tattoos, #115 Shimmering Sea, as it has some major iridescent, duo chrome goodness that few of the makeup obsessed can ignore. This time, it was on sale for $5.99CAD and there was only one left – obviously, it was a no-brainer ;)

Maybelline 24hr Color Tattoo Eyeshadow in #115 Shimmering Sea Maybelline 24hr Color Tattoo Eyeshadow in #115 Shimmering Sea

Though I’d seen beautiful swatches and read the glowing review of this shade on Maggie’s blog, I was unsure if this pale blue shade was going work on my darker skin tone – pale blue isn’t exactly a colour I wear well, but I was hoping the inclusion of beautiful golden shimmer would help make it work. When I applied it to my arm for a swatch, in dull light it looked like a plain light blue frost shadow – ick. But in sunlight – OH YEA, BABY. That’s when the magic happens!

Maybelline 24hr Color Tattoo Eyeshadow in #115 Shimmering Sea swatchIn indirect light/shade.

Maybelline 24hr Color Tattoo Eyeshadow in #115 Shimmering Sea swatch Maybelline 24hr Color Tattoo Eyeshadow in #115 Shimmering Sea swatch Maybelline 24hr Color Tattoo Eyeshadow in #115 Shimmering Sea swatch Maybelline 24hr Color Tattoo Eyeshadow in #115 Shimmering Sea swatchIn sunlight (I could literally take photos of it like this ALL day!)

I am truly enamoured by how this looks, both in the pot and in swatches – it’s so freakin’ gorgeous! I want a car this colour LOL!

Still, even though it was beautiful in swatches, how would it look once worn? I put it to the test this AM – and by test I REALLY mean test, as I put it on first thing in the AM because I could.not.wait., then took a shower with it on – while it faded, it was definitely still noticeable when I got out of the shower! (*Note that I didn’t wash my face so, obviously it would come off with soap lol). So we know the wear time is pretty decent. The second test was the shade…let’s see how it fared!

Maybelline 24hr Color Tattoo Eyeshadow in #115 Shimmering SeaIn indirect light/shade.

Maybelline 24hr Color Tattoo Eyeshadow in #115 Shimmering SeaIn sunlight.

Though the iridescence isn’t as strong on the lid, it’s still present, and in person it’s more apparent than in these photos. Thankfully, the pale blue tones aren’t opaque and strong enough to clash with my darker skin tone, and it wears as an easy shimmery, summery shadow that just adds a bit of interest to the eye but isn’t garish. I’ve been favouring subtly shimmering shades lately, so this is another one to add to the roster!

Here’s a full-face shot that shows the effect better:

Maybelline 24hr Color Tattoo Eyeshadow in #115 Shimmering Sea

My hair looks really lopsided here – sorry guys! It’s so hot here today that my hair shrunk right up after the shower – it doesn’t get frizzy too much unless I play with it, but it sure does get even curlier! :S

Maybelline 24hr Color Tattoo Eyeshadow in #115 Shimmering Sea

Overall, I’m really pleased I picked this up (even though I’m pretty sure I just said less than a month ago that I need to stop buying eyeshadow). Though I do favour bold lips, sometimes a pretty eye look is just what I’m seeking, and I think this will work well throughout the year as a pretty one-and-done shade, or as a beautiful base. For $5.99, even if it sat in my drawer and never saw the light of day again, I wouldn’t feel too terribly!

Did you pick up anything from the Maybelline Limited Edition summer collection? What products have been catching your eye at the drugstore lately?

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New favourite eyeshadow: Make Up For Ever Aqua Matic in ME-50

This probably sounds silly, but sometimes I don’t like getting press samples. I adhere a lot to the ‘if you can’t say something nice, don’t say it at all‘ philosophy, and when I receive an opportunity to review something I’m unsure I’ll like, I almost want to decline the offer altogether (and sometimes I do!). I feel especially conflicted when a brand I like comes out with a product that receives mixed-reviews, as my loyalty runs deep. I was recently in just that situation when I had a chance to try out the new Make Up For Ever Aqua Matic eye shadow sticks ($25CAD) – Christine at Temptalia was the first blog through which I read reviews about the product, and on the whole they were not great. Make Up For Ever is one of my favourite brands (and it doesn’t hurt that their PR people are lovely!) and I wasn’t keen on writing a subpar review against them – I know not all products will be winners, but my softy heart just feels bad in instances like that, and I am far too honest and up-front to lie or mar the truth.

MUFE Aqua Matic ME-50

Thankfully (and long-winded intro aside!), once I received the press sample of one of the Aqua Matic shadows, in ME-50, not only did I not have to write a crappy review, but turns out this shadow is genuinely one of my absolute favourites of all time!!!!! <— 4 exclamation points are needed to express just how much I love this shadow!

MUFE Aqua Matic ME-50Pretty multi-faceted shimmer :)

First of all, there is the colour – on me, this ‘metallic golden taupe’ is the perfect bronze-y neutral tone on my skin, which sometimes is hard to achieve, as shades like this tend to be too ashy, too light, or too brown to be considered neutral. It has the most amazing sparkling quality to it that gives it a little bit something more, yet it’s not over the top or unwearable for day in the least. For those of you who regularly love wearing bold lips like I do, a shade like this is invaluable – sometimes I don’t want to leave my eyes bare, but I don’t want my shadow to compete in any way with my lip colour. This fits the bill perfectly.

MUFE Aqua Matic ME-50 swatchIn some lights it looks more taupe…

MUFE Aqua Matic ME-50 swatch…in others, more golden (photo above blurred to show shimmers and sparkle!)

Secondly, the wear time on this bad boy is excellent – we’ve been having a heat wave the past week or so here (not complaining! About damn time!) and this resists fading and creasing like nobody’s business. This could be in part to the fact that the colour melds with my skin tone so well, I don’t notice any fading – but upon close inspection after a full day’s wear, it still seems pretty intact to me and that gorgeous sparkle is still in effect.

MUFE Aqua Matic ME-50 MUFE Aqua Matic ME-50In direct sunlight

MUFE Aqua Matic ME-50Indirect lighting/shade

Lastly, though I know for some the application of these is a bit tricky – they do set rather quickly – I actually don’t mind it, again due to the subtle shade on my skin tone, but also because it’s such a one-and-done shade that not a lot of blending is required. I just ensure that I apply it first to the lid and blend a bit, then add a bit more in my crease separately so I have enough time to buff it out with my finger. I really didn’t even notice it was a bit more difficult to blend until I really started paying attention – with a shade this wonderful, I really don’t care if it’s a bit more work – it’s just so damn FABULOUS!

MUFE Aqua Matic ME-50 & Marc Jacobs Dizzy Spell

In the photo above, I’m wearing it paired with Marc Jacobs Lovemarc Lip Gel in Dizzy Spell, a soft peachy nude that I quite like with my skin tone (though it does pick up on any flakes on the lips if you aren’t careful). It’s the only bit of makeup I’ve bought from his line so far.

MUFE Aqua Matic ME-50 & Marc Jacobs Dizzy Spell

As you can see, the effect of the shadow is subtle, but IRL trust me when I say that its nowhere near boring. For me, the shade and longevity combined with the ease of use (note it’s a twist-up pencil, that has a sharpener on the other end for precision) make this a win-win-WIN product! If this were a limited edition product I would buy backups upon backups – which is UNHEARD of in my world! All this to say: don’t let a review necessarily sway you from trying a product that you’re curious about – sometimes you’ll have an entirely different experience! And in this case, Christine didn’t actually review this particular shade, either ;)

Have you tried the new Aqua Matic pencils? How do you feel about giving poor reviews on a product?

*Product was provided by the PR company/brand for my unbiased consideration.

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Refresh Botanicals: Your One-Stop Shop for ‘Green’ Skincare!

As many of you are aware, I overhauled my skincare routine about a year ago to focus on more organic, or ‘green’ products. I’ve had a good deal of success making the switch, which probably has more to do with using products that do not use synthetic fragrance, and seeking out items with fewer ingredients overall (less chance for irritation of my eczema-prone skin), than them necessarily being ‘clean,’ as I’ve seen non-organic etc. products work wonders for others as well. However, I do feel good about what I put on my skin now, regardless of their efficacy, and that ease of mind goes a long way for someone who constantly worries when she tries a new product. That tendency to err on the side of caution hasn’t left me yet, but as I try more and more ‘green’ products without experiencing any reactions, I become more and more confident that this was the right path for me.

Recently I was given the opportunity to try out Refresh Botanicals skincare, a natural and organic line from Canadian company Taiga BioActives Inc., which I was immensely excited about. However, as usual I still added the products to my routine slowly to ensure the least chance of irritation. Almost from the start, I could tell that this step wouldn’t likely be necessary – I can say with full confidence that every single item I’ve used has been exceedingly gentle yet effective, and quite simply has been a dream to use!

Refresh Botanicals

The line centres their products around a proprietary blend of cucumber extract (high in antioxidants and vitamin C) and cornflower water, both highly soothing and calming to the skin. The products do not contain Parabens, Gluten, Petroleum By-Products, Animal By-Products, Artificial Oils, Artificial Oils or Artificial Fragrances. Essentially, sensitive skin types like mine are pretty much set!

I was sent 5 of the 7 products from the line: a Foaming Facial Cleanser, a Facial Toner, a Daily Facial Moisturizer, a Night Restore Complex, and a BB Cream. These products couldn’t have been more perfect for me, as they fit themselves into my current regime perfectly.

Refresh Botanicals

In the morning, I cleanse with the Foaming Facial Cleanser ($18.99CAD), which has a texture very similar to Cetaphil or CeraVe if you’ve tried it – sort of a thin jelly. One pump massaged on slightly damp skin gently foams and thoroughly cleanses though I never feel stripped of oils or tight afterward. I wondered if this would be enough once the weather got warmer, but due to the inclusion of coconut oil it sufficiently cleanses to remove any extra oiliness and prepare my skin for the day. I haven’t tried to use to this remove makeup, but they have a separate Eye + Face Makeup Remover in the line, which I expect is to be used first before using this – I don’t think its sufficient enough to remove makeup on it’s own.

Refresh BotanicalsFoaming Facial Cleanser

After washing, I apply a few pumps of the soothing Facial Toner ($18.99CADon a cotton pad (it’s got one of those great systems where you just place the cotton pad on top of the pump and push down to get product), and swipe it all over. It’s a bit of a strange formula in that it foams slightly, but it doesn’t leave my skin irritated and it’s exceptionally gentle – I think it’s more of a pH balancing and hydrating step, with light exfoliation, rather than an astringent to rid your skin of oils. It takes a bit of getting used to if you usually use toners with alcohol, which make the skin feel squeaky clean, but I find that my skin gets less oily when I use more gentle products, this being no exception.  Like the other products in the line, it smells like cucumbers, though this one has a slightly earthy yet flowery scent which I don’t love but am not offended by, either.

Refresh Botanicals Refresh Botanicals

Depending on the day and what my skin needs, I alternate between a facial oil and the Daily Facial Moisturizer ($18.99CAD) after toning. The antioxidant-rich moisturizer is the perfect consistency for all skin types – it’s not too thin, so drier skin types won’t feel parched, but it’s not too thick and absorbs quickly, so oilier types like mine are pleased as well. It’s a basic, soothing moisturizer with not a lot of bells and whistles, but I prefer to get my ‘treatment’ in the form of a serum or oil, anyway. The only caveat I have with this product is that it feels a touch sticky once applied – this goes away after about a minute or two, but it does feel a bit strange. Another point of interest that may or may not be of concern is that one pump is far more than you need for your whole face – a half a pump is plenty, but if you tend to put moisturizer on your face, neck, and décolletage, then you’re good to go for the full pump.

Refresh BotanicalsRefresh BotanicalsDaily Facial Moisturizer

Refresh BotanicalsDaily Facial Moisturizer  rubbed in (no greasy residue)

Unfortunately, the BB Cream ($23.99CADhas not made it into my daily rotation as the shade is quite light on me. From the feel of it, I think it has a texture similar to a physical sunscreen – so it’s a bit thicker, but not too difficult to spread, and would probably offer some light coverage. It’s designed like your typical BB cream to even skin tone and blur imperfections, as well as hydrate the skin. This formula also helps combat excessive sebum production and improve skin texture, and like the other products in the line is soothing to skin and offers antioxidant protection.

Refresh Botanicals Refresh Botanicals

In the evenings, after I’ve oil-cleansed I might use the Foaming Facial Cleanser as a second cleanse if I need it, then apply a treatment toner and oil. Once the oil has absorbed, I apply the Night Restore Complex ($23.99CADon top to add a little extra hydration and boost my treatments – in contains antioxidants and natural exfoliants which help lighten the appearance of dark spots and help brighten the skin, which is what my treatment facial oil does as well, so I’m getting a double-whammy of goodness :)  I find this extra layer does not clog my pores but in fact makes my skin feel that much more soft and supple by morning. I do avoid applying much of the Complex to my forehead, as I end up being a little greasy in that area in the morning otherwise.

Refresh Botanicals Refresh Botanicals

I am really and truly beyond pleased with my experience with Refresh Botanicals – every single product is easy to use, non-irritating, and gently effective. For someone with sensitive but generally easy skin to deal with, it’s the perfect choice, whether or not you like ‘green’ skincare or not. It even passes the packaging test for me (I am SUPER snobby when it comes to packaging, I’ll readily admit it), as it’s clean-looking, functional and hygienic (everything is in a pump).  On top of all that, it’s AFFORDABLE – something I do struggle with in the organic world, as everything is quite pricey. You can actually buy the whole shot for $147.93CAD (which includes the Eye + Face Makeup Remover, as well as an Intensive Serum)!  Even more exciting for me, is that the line is actually available in Nova Scotia – unheard of! They’ve recently introduced it in the Pharmasave/Pharmachoice stores across the province (which is where you’ll find them in the other provinces except Quebec and New Brunswick as well), and I’m pretty stoked.  You can also buy them online, though I’m unsure whether they ship outside of Canada (I suspect they do).

Refresh Botanicals

Affordable, available, effective ‘green’ skincare? I am SO totally getting my friends on board :D

Would you try a ‘green’ skincare brand if it were affordable and effective, or do you prefer traditional skincare products? Have you seen Refresh Botanicals in pharmacies yet?

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

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Make Up For Ever HD Microperfecting Primer in 6 Yellow

For a beauty fiend, I’m actually relatively low maintenance. I shave when I think of it, I don’t always do my hair, and I can’t be bothered to do the little extra things that make you look that much more polished – like contouring or wearing primer. I reserve most of these activities (except the hair bit – I DO style it most days!) for special occasions so I look that much nicer when the time comes, which means that though I don’t use these items daily, I do still need to have them in my arsenal. One such item that’s been recently added to the mix is Make Up For Ever’s HD Microperfecting Primer in 6 Yellow ($39CAD for 1oz).

MUFE HD Primer 6

I’ve previously reviewed the original HD primer by MUFE in the neutral, universal shade – but it also comes in 6 other tones, each designed to correct a particular issue, such as redness, sallow-looking skin and dullness. I had a hard time choosing one from the options available, as I don’t feel that I have any of these concerns personally. In the end however, I chose 6 Yellow, which is designed to “lighten dark complexions“. I think I went with this one because I had just come back from Florida, and was super-dark. Let’s chat about it, shall we?

MUFE HD Primer 6

First of all, I really like the texture of this primer compared to other primers, and even compared to the original – it’s more like a smooth, medium-density lotion that spreads easily over the whole face (you only need a dime-size amount). It doesn’t feel silicone-heavy nor is it as runny as the original. It feels very lightweight and non-greasy. It claims to deeply nourish, moisturize, and soften the skin, enhancing the skin texture and preparing it for makeup application. Having skin the leans on the oilier side, especially as the months get warmer, I can’t really speak to how moisturizing this is – but it certainly isn’t drying; I found it didn’t keep the oilies at bay quite as well as I would have liked. For a drier skin however, I think the formulation of this would be quite nice and keep the skin plump and comfortable.

MUFE HD Primer 6

Another aspect of the primer that I didn’t really pick up on was the ‘lightening’ effect on my darker skin tone. I think that likely has a lot to do with the fact that I’m just not dark enough (lol) – I think this is really designed for a deep cocoa complexion to give some light to the face, which clearly isn’t me. However, I do think this would be effective on a darker skin tone, as you can see from the photo below that it does show up on my skin – it’s jut that once I blend it in, it’s unnoticeable (sort of like sunscreen). A darker skin tone would likely show the benefits much more.

MUFE HD Primer 6

Despite some of the qualities mentioned above, I will say that this primer does a nice job of enhancing the skin’s texture and giving it a soft finish. My skin looks smooth and airbrushed after application, and my pores are less noticeable, as you can see in the photos below:

Skin before MUFE primerBefore priming

Skin after MUFE primerAfter priming

While this primer doesn’t tick all the boxes for me, I actually enjoy wearing it when it’s a bit cooler outside, or for evening – the texture is really lovely, and it feels like nothing on. I think in the winter I’ll get a good deal of use out of it, as it does prolong the wear of my makeup, and it may help to hydrate my skin and protect it from the blustery, cold weather. I kind of wish it has a sunscreen in it, so I could kill two birds with one stone (I really hate having to wear layers of product)!

Ingredients for reference:

Aqua (Water), Dimethicone, Trisiloxane, PEG-12 Dimethicone, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Methylpropanediol, Butylene Glycol, Pentylene Glycol, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Squalane, Glyceryl Caprylate, Lauryl PEG/PPG-18/18 Methicone, Phenoxyethanol, Ceteth-10, Laureth-4, Ethylglycerin, Panthenol, Potassium Sorbate, Polysorbate 60, Parfum (Fragrance), Argania Spinosa Extract (Argania Spinosa Kernel Extract), C12-14 Pareth-12, Hydrolyzed Algin, Dodecene, Sorbitan Isostearate, Isostearyl Alcohol, Laminaria Digitata Extract, Polyaminopropyl Biguanide, Tromethamine, Biosaccharide Gum-1, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Carbomer, Hexyl Cinnamal, Benzyl Salicylate, Limonene, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Linalool. [CI 19140 (Yellow 5 Lake), CI 75470 (Carmine), CI 77007 (Ultramarines), CI 77288 (Chromium Oxide Greens), CI 77289 (Chromium Hydroxide Green), CI 77491 (Iron Oxides), CI 77492 (Iron Oxides), CI 77499 (Iron Oxides), CI 77742 (Manganese Violet), CI 77891 (Titanium Dioxide)].

 Do you wear primers? Which one is your favourite?

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

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Duke-ing it out for Chanel’s Le Vernis in Sweet Lilac

On Friday I swung by our local Chanel counter to see if they’d gotten the summer collection yet. For once, my timing was perfect, as they had *just* gotten the line in the day previous. Despite the beautiful-looking collection, the only thing I was really interested in was the nail polish Sweet Lilac – I’ve vowed never to buy another Illusion d’Ombre (I find they get compressed after using them a few times and then it’s a pain to get any shadow out) and the other polishes were really pretty but also pretty dupable, IMO. And all those juicy sweet but ultimately clear glosses! Bah. No thanks!

Chanel Sweet Lilac

Though items sell quickly at our little Chanel counter, they had a bottle of Sweet Lilac left in stock, though it was a narrow window of chance – while trying it out in store, another woman exclaimed how great it looked on me, and proceed to buy a bottle of her own before I had purchased mine. When the SA said ‘that’s the last bottle’ I thought she meant MINE (yes, even though I hadn’t shelled out the cash for it yet, it was MINE) and I literally said ‘Uh, NO.’ LOL Then she clarified to say that the other client was getting the last bottle, AFTER mine had already been pulled. YA DAMN SKIPPY. There would have been a throw-down folks. It woulda been EPIC.

While I kind of would have loved to start a huge cat fight over a bottle of polish (don’t you just wonder if you’d be able to kick ass or not?), either way I’m happy there was enough to go around, because this is a pretty polish. While it’s not outrageously unique, the soft pink shade with a hint of purple is not replicated in my stash, and it’s got that ‘radiant orchid’ tone to it that works really well on my skin. The formula is pretty stellar – two coats to easy perfection, no hard work required. I added a top coat to maximize shine and amp up the almost jelly-like quality, though like many Chanel polishes it is fairly reflective on it’s own.

Chanel Sweet Lilac swatchIn direct sunlight

Chanel Sweet Lilac swatchIn the shade

I did some comparison swatches because that’s the first thing I do before and after I make a purchase these days. Before I had seen Sweet Lilac in person, I wondered if it was close to Zoya’s Marley – the only other lavender-type shade I own. It was a needless concern, as it’s the least like that polish out of the 3 other shades I compared it to.

Chanel Sweet Lilac comparison

You can see that it’s in the same vein as my beloved Essie Splash of Grenadine, but lighter; it’s also along the lines of RBL’s Poco a Poco, though you’d never guess from the bottle. Once I swatched them on the nail however, the similarities were much more apparent, and in some lights they look incredibly close. But the golden shimmer of Poco a Poco gives it a much warmer tone overall.

Chanel Sweet Lilac comparison swatchThumb to pinky: Chanel Sweet Lilac, RBL Poco a Poco, Essie Splash of Grenadine, Chanel Sweet Lilac, Zoya Marley

Chanel Sweet Lilac comparison swatchMy mother really wanted me to take a photo with a contrasting background, hence this second photo!

 My collection of Chanel polishes has now reached 7 bottles, mostly permanent items with a couple of LE ones thrown in there for good measure.  Sweet Lilac is a great addition to my little stash :0) I refuse to buy shades unless I love them, so it’s been a slow-growing process, which I’m entirely OK with. Many of the LE shades don’t wow me, and I have a few of the permanent ones on my radar for pick-up when I’m feeling ‘spendy.’ I think I need to throw a red in there soon, I don’t have a Chanel red and that seems sort of wrong somehow, no?

Did you pick up Sweet Lilac? How many Chanel polishes do you have? Do you have a recommendation for a good Chanel red?

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Organic Clay Masks FTW!

When entering the ‘green’ beauty world, there is one unavoidable truth: powder clay masks are part of the deal. Though at first I wasn’t a huge fan of having to mix my own masks, I began to kind of like being a chemist, mixing different ingredients with the masks to produce different results – honey and yogurt being my top picks.  Once I embraced the powder formulation, I somehow amassed a handful of options that I use on a rotation basis quite successfully.

Organic clay masques

My most recent acquisition is a mud mask by Villainess, Embargo, which the magnificent Maggie of Maggie’s Makeup sent to me from her online shop Pretty Indulgent.

Villainess Embargo Mud mask

Embargo ($12CAD for 2oz) is designed to aid in balancing oil secretion, purging pores, and cleansing lifeless complexions through a mix of clays, root powders and essential oils. The powder is of a fine grit, and has a soft spicy-floral scent. I’ve used it mix just with water, as well as with honey (the latter concoction shown below) and both ways it refines my skin texture gently and leaves my skin feeling smooth afterward. I was nervous for the fragrant and possibly irritating essential oils (patchouli and clove bud, particularly), but thankfully I’ve experienced zero issues on my sensitive skin.

Villainess Embargo Mud mask

I quite like this mask, and I think it really does boost lifeless complexions – after the winter we’ve had, I could certainly use it! Below is the ingredient list:

Villainess Embargo Mud mask ingredients

The next mask in my arsenal is one I picked up when I was in Ottawa in March, by an indie brand called Purple Urchin, which has a small store located on Sommerset. Among their wares are lip balms, handmade soaps in all varieties, cleaners, scrubs – you name it! I picked up their Chocolate Facial Mask ($9.99CAD for 2oz) to try as it just SMELLED SO GOOOOOOD.

Purple Urchin Chocolate Facial Mask

The antioxidant-rich mask is formulated to detoxify and soften skin, and fight free radicals. I liked that it included oatmeal powder, which is great for soothing skin. It produces a dark, rich chocolatey mask which smells awesome and feels wonderful on. When I choose to mix it with honey, I have to stop myself from eating it! U

Purple Urchin Chocolate Facial Mask

After leaving the mask on for 15-20 minutes, my skin feels exceptionally soothed and soft. When my skin was going through it’s hormonal acne issues, this was the only mask I would use as it gently revitalized my skin without exacerbating any problems. The grit is not as refined as the other masks, but it works well nonetheless. I’d suggest this for drier or more sensitive skins, as it doesn’t cleanse and detoxify as thoroughly but it is beautifully gentle and effective.

Ingredients below (notice there are only three, and no essential oils!):

Purple Urchin Chocolate Facial Mask ingredients

The final powder mask in my rotation is one that many of you are probably familiar with: Osmia’s Exfoliating Detox Mask ($50 for 1.4oz). I ordered this last fall during a promotion from the brand, and use it any time my skin feel congested and needs a thorough cleansing.

Osmia Detox Exfoliating Mask

Of the three masks, this one has the finest, most refined texture. Created to thoroughly purify skin and remove toxins through clays, bamboo charcoal, raw cacao and manuka honey, it is also multipurpose in that it also exfoliating as you rinse clean via walnut shells and olive leaf powders. With this product, I also received a small dish and spatula to mix it in, and this is what I use to mix all my facial masks (so handy!).

Osmia Detox Exfoliating Mask

This mask does the most serious oil-absorbing and detoxifying work, and it gets quite tight on the skin once it dries. They suggest rinsing it off in the shower and I would encourage this, as it can get a little messy (though it’s not a disaster if you do it in the sink, just requires a little bit more cleanup). They do caution sensitive skin types may notice some mild redness after use; I find it only happens occasionally, and it dissipates quickly. Though the mask doesn’t irritate my skin generally, I do not use it if my skin is being more reactive than normal as it’s fairly potent.

Ingredients below!

Osmia Detox Exfoliating Mask ingredients

Though all of these masks are similar in that they’re clay-based (and all contain rhassoul clay), I use each in a different way, for different reasons. From mildest to strongest is the Purple Urchin mask, then Villainess, then Osmia. Each are effective as rejuvenating the skin and leaving it feeling soft and smooth. Sometimes I start to feel like clay masks are clay masks, and they don’t have a huge variation among them, but then I read about a new one (I’m currently lemming Yüli’s Pure Mask!) and I think ‘What’s one more?’

Do you use clay masks? What is your favourite facial mask lately?

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Nearing the finish line: Makeup empties (the ultimate beauty achievement)

It’s been a dedicated effort, but I finally have some makeup items nearing empty – a whole handful of them! You other beauty fiends know just what I’m talking about, and how hard this is to do when you have SO MANY PRETTIES to use! I’m feeling pretty good about my progress, so I thought I’d share with you some gratuitous near-‘pan’ p0rn in case you need inspiration of your own :)

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I’ve been using the Hourglass Immaculate Liquid Powder Foundation together with the Burberry Fresh Glow Luminizer to freshen up the matte look the Hourglass imparts – the two pair together quite well. I get a LOT of views on the Hourglass foundation post, so I just want to reiterate how great it is! I can skip powder entirely when I use this, and the coverage is medium without looking or feeling too heavy. I do prefer a dewier finish which is the only drawback for me (though I’d still probably still repurchase this, because all other facets are so good), which is where the Fresh Glow comes in. If you’re looking for a foundation for oilier skin with a satin-matte finish, this is 100% for you!  I’ve had the foundation for a long time now (2 years) and it’s near it’s end ~tear~

The MAC blush here (Mineralize in Early Morning) is a bit of a cheat, because I dropped it a couple years ago and most of it was wasted. Nevertheless, it’s a beautiful shade so I kept it and used the dregs anyway. I’ll probably let it go soon but I’m just not ready to yet.

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I’m STILL working on MAC’s Arena eyeshadow, which I showed you had hit pan last year. I’ve been using it almost every day but it just won’t die! LOL I do still love it, but it’s best for the summer months when my skin is more tanned – I love it as a subtle brow highlight then. Other times of the year it doesn’t get worn as much, but I’m making progress now because I’m SO CLOSE.

The Laura Mercier Lip Glace in Discrete is also a couple years old, and while I liked the neutral shade as it was quite wearable, I’m over it now! Its got maybe 3-4 uses left so I’m gonna make it happen TOOT SWEET. The Buxom lipgloss (here in April), is also on it’s last legs, and I’m not a fan of the frosty sparkly thing at all now, so it’ll be kicked to the curb regardless in the next couple weeks.

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This two deluxe samples have had highs and lows in my beauty life. I love the nude tone of the Buxom Lip Stick (this is Sydney) but it’s very matte and looks terrible if  you’re lips aren’t in perfect shape (which mine weren’t for most of the winter).  My lips are doing much better now so I’m chugging through it – I really don’t like ‘mini’s’! The Burberry lippie is in Cameo Pink, and it’s a pretty soft coral shade that’s just a touch too light for my skin tone. If I apply it with a light hand, or pair it with another lip product, it fares pretty well. Got it down to the nub finally!

If you’ve been counting guys, that’s 8 makeup products that’ll be good to go very soon!!  SO EXCITED. I’m really trying to whittle down my stash and make way for new stuff, without feeling overwhelmed by the selection I already have. Which has been a goal of mine for forever, I know. But I keep trying! I’ve gotten major spring fever this year and gave a ton of stuff away to family and friends, mostly PR samples or gift items, as I’m getting a lot better at buying shades and products that I really want and that work. I usually have a huge bag full of items up for swap, but there’s nothing left now :)

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Do you have any beauty goals right now? On average how often do you finish makeup items?

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Arbonne Mascara? It’s a Long Story

…Well, not really. But that’s the name of the Vanity Fair-approved mascara from the brand: It’s a Long Story! Kinda cute, eh? Last month I was sent a sample to try out, and I was eager to see how it would perform. Like many people, I’m fussy with my mascaras, and am always on the look-out for the best of the best.

Arbonne It's a Long Story mascara

Arbonne’s It’s a Long Story mascara ($40CAD) boasts a flexible, uniform bristle brush, designed to create perfect lash definition with a high-gloss look. The vegan formula contains polypeptides to promote the appearance of longer lashes, bamboo and pea (?) extracts,  and pro-vitamins B5, C and E to nurture the lashes.

Arbonne It's a Long Story mascara

Initially I was a bit let-down by the mascara, as I was expecting super-long lashes for some reason – but after using it a few times, my opinion changed. For starters, it really does separate and define the lashes beautifully. Though I tend to prefer full, voluminous lashes, I find that defined lashes during the day is appropriate and quite pretty. Additionally, the formula is exceptionally buildable – I can apply several coats without it becoming clumpy, crunchy or flaky. Combing through each coat is a breeze. In my experience, there are few mascaras that will allow this, so I was quite impressed.

Arbonne It's a Long Story mascara (one coat)One coat

Arbonne It's a Long Story mascara (two coats)Two coats

Ingredients: Aqua, Iron Oxides, Glyceryl Stearate, Glycerin, C18-36 Acid Triglyceride, Synthetic Beeswax, Cera Carnauba, Stearic Acid, Silica, VP/VA Copolymer, Acacia Senegal Gum, Butylene Glycol, Polyglyceryl-10 Diisostearate, PEG-40 Hydrogentated Castor Oil, Pisum Sativum (Pea) Extract, Bambusa Vulgaris (Bamboo) Leaf/Stem Extract, Xanthan Gum, Caprylyl Glycol, Glyceryl Caprylate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Ethylhexylglycerin, PPG-26-Buteth-26, Myristoyl Pentapeptide-17 (Polypeptide), Biotinoyl Tripeptide-1 (Polypeptide), Oleanolic Acid, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Apigenin, Aminomethyl Propanol, Phenethyl Alcohol, Glucosamine HCI.

I’m glad I gave this mascara another shot, because it really is quite good for daytime looks. I find myself reaching for it most days because it just seems to do the job well. I will say I find the $40 price tag quite high, but as Arbonne is a more ‘natural’ brand, I’m not entirely surprised. But otherwise, this is a lovely mascara that is well worth a look!

Do you prefer length, volume, or definition when it comes to mascara? What is your mascara price cap?

*Product was provided by the PR company/brand for my unbiased consideration.

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