Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Spring Cleaning Your Makeup Collection


As you all know, I have a makeup problem. So while it's not quite Spring yet, my collection is in need of a serious airing-out. And this guest blog series is going to function as the cosmetic equivalent of a carpet beater, shaking out the rather shocking amount of makeup I don't need -- or want. Above is a collection of 5 of the items I've been using regularly for the last two weeks. Every fortnight (I'm fancy like that), I'm going to review 5 items of makeup that I've used every day for those two weeks. Whatever I just can't make work will either get gifted or -- if it's totally unusable -- tossed. Let's get started:

 The first thing you should know about me is that my skin color is somewhere between that of a ghost and a freshly-bleached sheet. I once spent two hours sampling every single foundation in Sephora only to discover that the only foundation that came close to matching my paleness was the delightful Bobbi Brown Foundation Stick in the shade "Alabaster" or "Double Zero." And it's still slightly too dark. So when Bobbi comes out with a shade in Negative One, please let me know. In any event, it's lucky that I actually like the formula of this foundation given that I quite literally didn't have much of a choice. As you can see, it's a solid stick rather than a powder, cream or liquid. So this will definitely give you a full-on pancake look if you apply it directly onto your face, but it's very easy to make it look sheer and natural as well. And since I've never been a huge fan of full-coverage foundation, I apply mine as follows: I swirl the foundation stick three times into the center of my palm and then add one to two pumps of a facial serum (right now I'm using Live Clean's Glowing Daily Serum, but any will do). I blend the two together with my hands and then massage the combination directly onto my face and then I go over that with the Real Techniques Stippling Brush. This creates a really nice finish that takes much of the natural redness out of my skin but doesn't obliterate my freckles. Then I swirl my ring finger over the top of the foundation stick and pat it under my under-eyes and any other spots where I want a little more coverage. That's the big bonus with this foundation: it functions as a great, natural-looking concealer, and you never have to worry about the annoying task of finding a foundation/concealer match. In short, I love this product. It comes in a really extensive shade range and lasts forever. I highly recommend it if you have a hard time finding a good color match and if you like being able to have a little more control over your coverage level. This one is a 10/10 for me.


 I have such a love/hate relationship with the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders. I understand that they're basically just fancy finishing powders and not highlighters, but there's so much Emperor's New Clothes hype surrounding these that I still wind up expecting more from them. In short, will you feel like your skin has been transformed? Maybe. Will anyone else think so? No. You will probably look in the mirror and feel like it's a new, luminous, glowing, skin-perfect you, and yet no one in your life will be able to tell you have them on. So if you're willing to spend around $60 for a great placebo effect, be my guest. I have two shades - Luminous (Candlelight) and Ethereal (Moonlight). This is Moonlight. Normally I take a blush brush and dust it around my t-zone. It does keep the area nice and matte, and Moonlight in particular gives me a little bit of a soft white glow, but again -- nobody can ever tell that I have it on. So I guess maybe 7/10?

 For any American readers, Superstore is a Canadian retail chain similar to Target or Wal-Mart in its massive all-inclusiveness. It has a "house brand" known as Joe Fresh that offers a surprisingly cute range of clothes, accessories and cosmetics. This is their Cream Blush in "Bloom," a super pigmented hot pink that blends down into a natural flush for pale skin. Admittedly, the color looks intimidating in the pan, and I wouldn't recommend trying to apply this just with fingers or directly with a brush because the risk of over-application is high. What I do is dot my ring finger into the center, then put two to three light dots along my cheekbone and work it into the skin with a Real Techniques Expert Face Brush. Provided I didn't dot too much, I'm left with a very natural, pretty Springtime pink that doesn't overwhelm the face. If you do want a super-flushed look, add an extra dot. The wear on this is okay -- like all blushes it won't last forever, but I've found that if I put this on before work I can usually make it to the end of my 8-hour shift without needing to re-apply. Overall, I'd give this blush an 8/10, only docking a couple of points because the color intensity can be hard to control.

Urban Decay's Naked Palettes are famous for a reason. They offer an amazing range of colors and finishes with gorgeous pigmentation and buttery textures. Unfortunately, the first two palettes just weren't quite up my alley shade-wise. That's where the Naked 3 comes in, a beautiful collection of rosy neutrals, perfect for pale pink faces like mine.
At the moment, I'm going for a bare-bones nearly-no-makeup look, so I take a Real Techniques Deluxe Crease Blush and load it up with the first shade, "Strange," a bone-white matte color. I apply this all over my lid and brow bone just to provide a base. Then I go into the crease with the Real Techniques Base Shadow Brush and add Limit, the soft matte brown/pink color to create subtle definition. Sometimes I'll go over it again with the Base Shadow Brush and Liar or Trick to add a little more shimmer/definition. Otherwise, I just add a bit of mascara and call it a day. That said, I've done much more dramatic smoky eyes with this palette as well so it by no means needs to be limited to "natural" looks.
Since I got this palette for Christmas, I haven't touched my other shadows, so I'd be remiss to give this anything other than a 10/10.

Finally, a big cult beauty favorite: The Balm's Mary Lou-Manizer. In some ways, I feel like The Balm just doesn't have quite the same oomph as other brands because while the imaging on their packaging is a cute vintage pin-up theme, I absolutely hate the cardboard. Luckily they switched the Mary Lou over from cardboard to plastic, so I picked this up the last time I was in London Drugs.
Mary Lou is an un-subtle highlighter that adds a luminous golden shimmer without big chunks of glitter. I use a Real Techniques Contour Brush, tap it very lightly over the surface of the powder and then dust it in a 90-degree angle from my temple to my upper cheekbone, below my under eye, to about halfway across my cheek. Any further than that and it runs the risk of looking greasy.
I've struggled with highlighters for a long time because I like shimmer but hate glitter, and this is probably the first one that I've absolutely loved. So this is another 10/10.
Admittedly, this week's batch contains my most-loved products, so there's nothing to toss or give away here, but hopefully you found this somewhat useful -- both as a review and as a beauty-hoarding exercise.
Tune in again in two weeks for 5 new products and let me know if you've started a similar project yourself, or if you've tried any of these. Did you like them? Hate them? Have any application suggestions?

*This post is not sponsored, nor were any of these products given to me for free by the companies mentioned.

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