Thursday, 7 November 2013
Friday, 11 October 2013
I have had frizzy, wavy/curly hair that drove me insane as a teenager and remains a frequent pain well into my 20s. It's been long, it's been short. It's been red and black and blonde and brown. But it's never been particularly shiny.
A few years ago, I tried co-washing to bring out my curls, and was left with sort of a greasy mop. Clearly double-conditioning wasn't for me.
But I'd never been brave enough to try a full-on purge of beauty products for my hair. So this week, I decided to give the infamous baking soda shampoo, apple cider vinegar conditioner a try.
And here, so far, are my results.
This is how my hair looks most of the time. A little flat, a little frizzy, and lacking in real curl or wave. Unfortunately I didn't think to take an official "Before" photo, but this gives you a good idea:
And this is how my hair looked on Day 2 after I'd washed with the BC/ACV mix:
So it does look a lot shinier and glossier for sure. I can't say that the curl definition is really there, although my boyfriend told me that it looks "bouncier."
The one major downside, though, are my roots:
That's where you can really see the grease starting to build up. It's not "gross," per se, however the next day I did rush out and buy a dry shampoo so that I wouldn't have to give in and wash my hair just yet. The shampoo, which is from Klorane, works wonders, however I have been warned about a bit of nasty build-up with any dry shampoo, no matter how good.
I am currently on Day 4 and I'll probably give in and wash my hair tonight or tomorrow morning with the mixture again. Ultimately I'd like to reach a point where I'm only having to wash it once a week, but the oil buildup, combined with the dry shampoo, is making my head itch a little bit, which makes me uncomfortable and, frankly, makes me feel a little bit like a Dickensian orphan.
Again, however, looks-wise it's great. Thick, healthy, shiny and bouncy. It just feels a little heavy/itchy.
More pictures and progress soon!
The mix I've decided to use is one that's very low on both of the "essential" products, as they are, respectively, quite basic and acidic and too much of either could throw your PH balance out of whack.
So currently I'm using about 1 tbsp of baking powder to a cup of water for shampoo and about a quarter-cup of apple cider vinegar to a cup of water.
I've put them in old small-sized Philosophy body wash bottles for easy distribution in the shower. Do make sure to create a brand-new batch of baking soda each time, though, as baking soda "activates" in water, and then effectively goes dead if you leave that mixture for too long.
Friday, 4 October 2013
Monday, 23 September 2013
I had a $75 gift card to LUSH, so I went on a major spree on Saturday and bought up an armful of bath bombs and bubble bars. I tried to make it a solid balance of old favorites and new(er) releases that I'd yet to try as it's been a while since I've visited the store's bath section.
In my rush to relax, I completely forgot to take any photos of the first bomb I used, Twilight, or its really amazing two-color fizz combo. So instead, I'll have to ask you to join me on a trip through the realm of imagination:
Tuesday, 16 July 2013
I've been scouring the shelves for this product for weeks since my return from the UK and I've finally spotted them at Shoppers. The Canadian branding retains the UK name of "Apocalips," rather than the confusing American re-titling of Show-Offs -- which made no sense given that they kept the space-themed color names like Big Bang and Celestial.
From what I could tell, Shoppers has the full, watermelon candy-scented range in stock at the Commercial Drive location in Vancouver, British Columbia. They even appear to have a few colors I didn't see in Boots.
I already had Big Bang, Celestial and Galaxy, so I picked up Apocaliptic and Aurora this time around.
Happy hunting, Canadians.
Thursday, 27 June 2013
I wouldn't say that I have the palest skin. It's light for sure, and lighter than nearly any company's lightest foundation color, but I'm not the pure pure Irish white I've seen on other people. Regardless, buying foundation for my skin tone is a pain and even the brands mentioned by gurus like Lisa Eldridge as being particularly inclusive of the "trickier" skin tones (including Bourjois's otherwise amazing Healthy Mix foundation) aren't quite pale enough for me.
Recently I spent a frustrating two hours scouring the shelves of Sephora for any foundation I could wear without looking visibly orange. Surely I just hadn't looked hard enough in the past and now, under the warming glow of Sephora's lights, I would find my HG foundation at last.
I tried Armani, Nars, YSL, Clinique, Tarte, Benefit, Stila, Kat Von D, Bare Minerals, Make Up For Ever, Urban Decay, Laura Mercier, Guerlain, Dior, Givenchy, Smashbox and Lancome. And after all of that swatching, only one actually worked.
Bobbi Brown's 00 (yes, double zero) shade Alabaster is the first foundation I have ever found that is my actual, honest-to-God, creamy-white color. And -- even more fun -- it comes in a stick form which means that it doubles as a perfectly-matching concealer.
I LOVE this foundation. The formula is nice and thick, so I usually dot it over my skin and then buff it in with a beauty blender. Then I go back over the spots that need a little more coverage (under my eyes, around my nose and on top of any small spots I might have). And that's it. No need for an extra concealer and it leaves my skin natural enough that it needs neither patting down nor further illuminating.
It's not cheap, but given the tiny amount that you need for each application, I imagine I'll be using this for a year at least. Compared with the three-to-four months that the average liquid foundation lasts a regular user, that's not bad value.
Wednesday, 26 June 2013
I said nothing about it on this blog, sadly, but I was in London for two weeks last month and, needless to say, I may have raided an entire Boots.
Reviews to follow.
Monday, 24 June 2013
No more will you have to grudgingly use something that smells like Old Spice wrapped in seaweed or a hunk of painful salt rock that promises to let your "natural smell" come through. Nay -- this is all of the artificial flowery smell you want with (nearly) the lasting wear of an antiperspirant.
Please do mark that "nearly." I have two -- I keep one at home for the initial application and another in my desk for a mid-day check-up. If you can't afford two (but probably you can -- they're reasonably-priced), then just keep it in your bag.
But you also won't have to deal with painful, chapped under-arms (thanks, Jason in "Apricot") or sweaters that need to be burned after one wear because your beautiful natural woman stink managed to permeate them in some unholy way.
Anyway. Nivea Sheer Comfort: a lifesaver for delicate ladypits.
Thursday, 20 June 2013
The video is hilarious and, jokes aside, the tutorial itself is actually very good.
Tuesday, 11 June 2013
I started my TopBox subscription a few months ago, but truth be told I wasn't impressed enough by its offerings to post a review until this month. This month was a huge and very pleasant surprise -- not only did I like every single thing I received, but three of the four items were full-sized.
For those who can't read the ingredients list above, this month's regular, non-Prive box included the following:
Belvada Cosmetics Mini Eyelash Curler
Benefit Cosmetics' Sugarbomb Ultra Plus Gloss
As the name would suggest, it's a sweet-smelling, non-sticky, rose-colored gloss. Can't wait to properly try it out. Full size (15mL) is $19.00, so this 6.5mL sample is valued at $8.23.
Jelly Pong Pont Cosmetics Fairy Lashes Mascara
A cute, basic mascara with a normal wand. Apparently this full-sized sample is valued at £15 on the company's website and $24.00 in Canada. Another one I can't wait to test out.
Lise Watier Solo Eyeshadow in Blue Cuaraco
So this month's TopBox not only looks impressive, but comes to a whopping $56.22. Not bad for $12 a month.
Monday, 10 June 2013
I bought this during a long-standing obsession with the cosmetics section of T&T last fall. The obvious problem with this obsession is that I don't speak Cantonese, Mandarin or Japanese, and had to rely on the always suspect English descriptions to figure out what I was buying.
Though labelled in English as a "lotion," this was more of a cloudy-looking toner. The full description goes: "SKENKA White Milky Lotion - Fresh/Lotion. Facial moisturizing lotion, prevents blots and freckles, and brightens skin tone. Apply to cleansed face. Gently pat to absorb." So no further clues there.
It wasn't until after I bought it that I noticed the "brightening" part, which did concern me a bit as I'm wary of the chemicals in some "skin lighteners" (bleaches). I will say that after using up the whole bottle, I felt like my skin did look noticeably whiter/brighter, but then I was also going from fall into winter.
In any event, I'm sorry that I stopped using asian products and went back to drug store, because I felt like -- bleach or no bleach -- my skin did genuinely look better and feel fresher using $10.00 T&T toners/moisturziers than their more expensive western counterparts.
I'm still confused as to whether this is a toner or a moisturizer. I tended to use it as both or either. But if that question doesn't concern you too much, I would recommend it.
Monday, 6 May 2013
As any Big Lebowski fan will tell you, there are a lot of things you aren't allowed to do on Shabbat -- cook, roll, drive -- and, apparently, touch up your makeup. So when Rorie Weisberg wanted to look flawless for her son's bar mitzvah this summer, she splurged (God I hate that word) on Lancome's Teint Idole Ultra 24 Hour Foundation, which purports to last all day with no need for re-application.
What she got instead was a shonda.
All yiddish jokes aside (and I've yet to see an article that managed to resist that temptation), Weisberg's lawsuit does bring up a fair and interesting point -- should companies be allowed to make claims that are flat-out untrue? On the one hand, I could've told Weisberg that even the highest-end, longest-lasting foundation was probably not going to make it through 3 or 4 hours of dancing in a rented hall in June without some of it sliding around and making her face look like a gently-melted candle. On the other, maybe it should be illegal for a cosmetics company to pretend otherwise.
The United Kingdom has made great strides lately with their photoshop bans, so could outlandish claims be the next victim in the war on misleading advertisements?
And let's be clear here -- the woman in question didn't just blindly trust the company and wear this foundation to an event only to find out later that she looked like a mess. She actually tested the foundation out months ahead of time in preparation for the summer party.
Shaindy Kelman of ShainDee Cosmetics (whose "Shabbos Queen" line is specifically aimed at observant Jewish women who need long-lasting makeup) has called the lawsuit ridiculous, advising people in Weisberg's situation to choose powder foundation with better staying power and arguing that a company can't and shouldn't need to guarantee their foundations for all skin types. But again, if this is such an obvious fact, should Lancome be allowed to effectively label and market a product with the claim that it will last for a full 24 hours without any further caveats?
My personal opinion is that the lawsuit isn't quite as silly as it seems, and it would be nice to have a bit more truth in advertising, but I have no expectation of that any time in the near future.
And Rorie, girl, if you're reading this -- go get MAC Face and Body with your out-of-court settlement and thank me later.
Friday, 19 April 2013
Definitely pricier than my usual fare, I picked up Chanel's Illusion d'Ombre from their recent Spring collection (mostly on a whim) the last time I was at The Bay. I have a real weakness for gold lustre eye shadows and this one looked particularly beautiful.
Convoiste, which translates to "lust" in French, is a very pretty true-gold color. I find a lot of gold eyeshadows/dusts have a tendency to either be too brown or yellow, but there is something pure, radiant and luminous about this shade.
A little less luminous and radiant is the price. You get 4g of product in this beautiful glass jar for $36.00 Canadian. Compare that to the $8-10 you spend on the same 4g of Maybelline's Color Tattoos or the $9-12 for L'Oreal's 3.5g LaColeur Infallible eye shadows, and it's a bit of a hard pill to swallow.
Well... as much as I loved the color (and it is gorgeous), the texture and wear of this are a little disappointing.
Now, what I was more hoping for was, if not a more opaque color, then at least a really pretty highlighting shade for a brow bone or just a simpler lid. But the glitter is a bit too obvious for that, and while my eyelid looks pretty with this swept across it, there's no real "wow" factor here. The product does appear to be long-lasting, but it's hard to tell, given its sheerness.
Rating this is tough, because overall I did like it, but I feel as though the drug store has caught up enormously in the past few years, and there's no reason to spend $36.00 on this product when L'Oreal and Maybelline offer dupes for less than a third of the cost.
Overall, I give Chanel's Illusion d'Ombre in Convoitise a B-, with no plans to repurchase.
Have you tried any of the other Illusion d'Ombre shades? Tell me what you think below.
Tuesday, 19 February 2013
Recently my boyfriend got into straight razor shaving, which means that he’s been hurtled head-first into the world of men’s skin care, me along with him.
At one time, he was content to carve his face with a plastic 5-blade that, with all its claims of precision, refused to give him a close shave no matter how furiously he hacked at his face. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of buying him a “Shavette,” or a beginner straight razor, for Christmas and now he is a man possessed. There are shaving creams, cakes, soaps, oils, aftershaves, soothing balms, straight razors, safety razors and moisturizers. The men's skin care market has exploded in the last few years, and the ads are pretty much all like this:
Hey dudes, your skin is like a high-octane car made of science and shit. It’s not weird or gay or anything to treat it real special just like your woman does – only this skin care is awesome and filled with stuff that will make your heavy machinery of a blade operate better with your kick-ass man face. Which is also a machine of some kind.
It. Is. Wonderful.
Sure, women’s advertising is insane as well, but what makes men’s care marketing so much fun is that it’s still in its infancy. Watching the ads struggle on their spindly baby horse legs is admittedly entertaining. Because women’s health and beauty marketing has perfected a system wherein companies tear apart your ego so they can promise to build it back up again if you buy their products. It’s a system that works so well that we’ve stopped questioning it for the most part. Of course a zit is a barrier for your love life. Of course wrinkles ought to be eliminated.
But these brave copywriters working on their men’s skin care accounts are still fiddling with the formula. For now, the one that they’ve settled on is a careful balance between explaining how a product works while making sure to constantly stroke the ego of prospective customers to reassure them that there’s nothing unmanly about beauty products and, if anything, it’s unmanly not to take care of your face-truck.
Every Man Jack
If you’re like most guys, you care about keeping your skin healthy and looking good. (If you’re not, well, now’s a pretty good time to start.)
That’s because your skin is a critical organ that covers and protects your entire body. But as sophisticated as it might be, taking care of your skin doesn’t have to take a half dozen steps and expensive, complicated products. All it takes is Every Man Jack.
Whether it’s cleansing, clearing, hydrating or protecting, EMJ has simple, affordable solutions that get the job done. It’s stuff that fits into your daily regimen. Not the other way around.
This pretty much encapsulates everything I’ve said above.
First, important man science: your skin is an organ. Take care of your body organs, dude.
Second, there’s nothing weird about caring for your skin. In fact, you should have started doing this way before now.
There’s also the not-so-subtle hint that unlike your lady’s skin care, which is filled with promises it can’t possibly keep, men’s skin care is going to level with you, bro.
They're all about being real.
Here’s what EMJ says about its anti-aging regime:
Will I look and feel 18 again?If you’re 18 right now, absolutely. While it’s no miracle, this light, non-greasy face lotion and hydrating eye cream will help you fight the signs of aging.
No bullshit, bro. Just the straight facts. Even though “fighting the signs of aging” is a nebulous and meaningless phrase. But would these dudes lie to you, man? Nah.
L'Oreal Men Expert skin care, meanwhile, seeks to lure you in with celebrities who represent the three pillars of masculinity with the spokestrio of Patrick Dempsy (soulful), Gerard Butler (rugged) and Hugh Laurie (classic). They want to make sure you know that using these products won't change the inner you. You're not going to start covering everything in doilies if you use their stuff. Just look at Hugh Laurie -- he's still so classic and British (in the Michael Caine way, though, not in the Hugh Grant way).
And Gerard Butler! Remember 300? That was great.
Another tactic, employed by The Art of Shaving, is basically to say: fuck the naysayers -- pamper yourself, asshole. You're a man. Why wouldn't you take care of your awesome skin?
The Art of Shaving doesn't bother with pandering to your need to think of your face as anything other than a face. It actively encourages its customers to enjoy the luxury of a good shave, not to worry about how it'll make them look to their non-luxurious friends.
You like good scotch and stuff? Then why are you using some POS shave cream?
Let's be clear: all skin care marketing is silly, and it all panders to stereotypes.
But that doesn't mean that we can't have a bit of a laugh at the expense of companies trying so hard to essentially say, "No homo." Upper-class men used to wear makeup and powder and wigs and would spend a fortune on fashion. Smearing a little bit of cream on your face after a shave is hardly going to destroy masculinity.
Monday, 18 February 2013
My birthday is a week before Valentine’s Day, and then my boyfriend’s birthday is a week after that. So February is a bit of an insane time, hence the lack of new posts. I didn’t photograph my birthday weekend in Seattle because I’ve found over time that when I’m glued to my camera I get a lot of great photographs of a place I didn’t really experience myself, goofy and sentimental as that might sound.
In any event, it’s been three weeks of cheaper US alcohol, sub-par Seattle coffee (seriously, Seattle, Vancouver is kicking your ass) and makeup. Sorry, no-buy promise.
My boyfriend (possibly at my behest) bought me the Urban Decay Glinda pallet, I bought myself a L'Occitane hand cream (I did use up my Soap and Glory), and finally (here's the big one) I bought an eyeshadow quad and a cream eyeshadow from Chanel.
But finally owning some great high-end makeup again reminded me of something, something that this no-buy (or low-buy) promise has reinforced: Department store makeup isn’t universally better than drug store makeup. There are still plenty of products that you can buy at the drug store that rival anything you can find in a department store -- particularly when it comes to mascaras or glosses. But the placebo effect that high-end cosmetics create can't be ignored. I find that I treat my more expensive products better, which in turn means that I get more out of a Chanel compact than a L’Oreal one.
If you spend $60 on an eye shadow quad, you are going to use that thing to the bone – because otherwise, it’s an enormous waste of money. And you’re going to be incredibly careful in picking it out. On top of that, the lighting is better when you're testing it (so you get a better idea of how it actually looks) and everything in a department store has a tester.
But if you spent $7 on an eyeshadow quad, you might pick it up a little less carefully, and ultimately who cares if the colors don’t quite go? Then you buy another, because you really meant to get the brown one, as the purple one wasn’t really that practical. Oh, well, the highlight shade doesn’t go, but that’s okay. On and on. So before you know it, you’ve spent $70 on a pile of drug store eyeshadows, none of which are quite right, and none of which you ever end up using all that often.
This, as I’ve hinted before, is the genius of drug store makeup. You spend more money on more products that you like less. And then you treat those products more harshly, causing them to break or get dirty faster, meaning you throw them out more frequently.
I would say 75-90% of the time, I wind up not liking the color/texture of a drug store product as much as I thought I would. Compared to 5% of the time with high-end. So I wind up buying an armload of eyeshadows because I'm still looking for *the* taupe or *the* green. Whereas my one Chanel eyeshadow quad is perfect. Everything about the way it looks is perfect. And maybe that's psychosomatic, but ultimately aren't cosmetics supposed to make me feel better?
Thursday, 7 February 2013
To be honest, I've never been a huge fan of body butters. Firstly because you have to grab a small fistful of it right out of the container, and while I'm not a big germaphobe, I do hate how hard it is to control a glob of product. They do seem to melt on my skin faster, which is nice, but the initial application is always a bit of a pain. Too much goes on one area, not enough on another...
As a result, this lay forgotten for months, but I started using it when I came out of the shower on my legs particularly as they get really dry during the winter. It went pretty quickly once I did start using it and I can't say that I noticed an enormous difference in my skin. I have it on right now and my legs and arms feel really soft, but after weeks of using it, I still have a bit of a nagging dry area around my ankles.
It does sink into the skin quickly and the smell -- which is strong in the container -- fades fast once it's on your skin. Depending on how you like your scented body butters to work, this could be a negative or a positive, but since my job requires that we maintain a "scent-free" environment, it's nice to get a shot of that really pleasant blackberry/lilac smell in the morning without disturbing the nostrils of my co-workers.
Speaking of the smell -- though it says blackberry and lilac, and I believe them, to me this always smelled like a really fruity soda. There was just something fizzy in the smell itself, and that's the best way I can think of to describe it. Definitely pleasant and not overly bubble-gum sweet.
All in all, I liked this body butter fine. I think it worked just as well as pretty much every other body butter on the market (I've tried Clinique's and the Body Shop ones in the past) and it's definitely cheaper than the more famous ones out there.
If you are looking for a body butter that doesn't have a really cloying scent, and you don't have any areas that you need to be seriously softened, then I'd give it a try.
For me, I think I'll give this an A-, only knocking it down a peg for the slight lack of efficacy.
Wednesday, 6 February 2013
Normally I prefer a powder highlighter, but I got a little carried away at my excitement at the prospect of Lush makeup (I'm still mourning the short-lived B Never spin-off) and picked it up to try.
The Lush website reports:
Tuesday, 5 February 2013
This is literally the first and only disappointing product that I've ever bought from Physician's Formula, which is in part why I disliked it so much.
This is meant to be a liquid mineral foundation from their Mineral Wear line. I'd loved the powder foundation and the blush and the mineral veil, so I figured that this would be another great addition to the collection.
It was not.
Monday, 4 February 2013
If you look anywhere for advice on when to toss your makeup products, the only consistent piece of information is this: throw out mascara after three months. This makes sense – anything that’s going to specifically touch your eyeball should probably be as bacteria-free as possible and mascaras tend to dry out pretty quickly.
But what about everything else?
I’ve seen guidelines that range anywhere from 2-5 years for powders, 6 months to 2 years for cream shadows, lipsticks and blushes, 1-5 years for eyeliners and 2 to 10 for nail polishes. Typically there is always at least one comment from someone who is still using an eyeshadow pallet from 15 years ago and swears the shadows are still clean and work well. So what is the truth?
Well, my Mother is friends with a woman who manages a high-end department store in the city. She worked her way up from a makeup counter, so she knows cosmetics. And her opinion is that, apart from mascara, it’s all BS.
If your product actively smells, or if your powders aren’t giving any payoff, then toss them. Otherwise, “expiration dates” are merely a way to keep you rotating your collection faster than you could actually get through it.
This is one area where you do see the quality in higher-end products paying off. My Dior 5-eyeshadow pallet from five years ago still blends beautifully, while a drug store pallet I bought a couple of years ago has already gotten a little hard and chalky.
So it depends. But in the end, when it comes to expiration dates (apart from mascara – seriously, toss it after three months), let your eyes and nose be your guides.
What's your take? Are makeup expiry dates factor or fiction? Do you still have some lipstick rattling around from 1998?
What's your take? Are makeup expiry dates factor or fiction? Do you still have some lipstick rattling around from 1998?