Saturday, 9 December 2017

Seventeen for '17: My Favourite Beauty Products This Year

December has come, the (work) tree is trimmed (I don't put up my own tree in my house and I only believe in real trees so no earlier than December 17th in the home), lights are up, a new Star Wars movie is on its way, and the year is winding down. And so it is time for my first annual favourites post. This is a list of the hits that I purchased in 2017. Not necessarily released in 2017, but they came into my possession this year. Where I've already reviewed them, I've linked to the original post. I've also linked to Instagram pictures if there are any to help showcase the product. Sadly the light when I was taking these is terrible, but I've used nice festive backdrops.

1. Glossier Boy Brow in Clear

Fucking Glossier. They're like the mid-range version of Colourpop for me: I want to dislike them. I really, really do. But they did manage to hook me with a genuinely great product. I've been a devotee of cheap clear mascara as brow gel. I also have tried the pricier versions, like ABH Brow Gel. But gel, no matter the price bracket, has a habit of making my brows a little clumpy and weird. The answer, it seems, is a clear pomade. My brows look more natural and are still held in place. Boy Brow is exactly what I want from a brow product. So fine, Glossier. You win this one. That's twice now I've praised this here. Don't get used to it.

2. Besame Lipstick in Dusty Rose

The Besame lipstick formula is one of my favourite, but until I picked up the mini lipstick set they have out right now, I only had Tango Red. Tango Red is beautiful but not exactly a colour that suits many occasions. It's also very summery to me, which means I don't really wear it year round. Enter the lipstick set and the standout for me, Dusty Rose. Dusty Rose reads more like a mauve berry on me, and I love how it looks: suitable for work, but bold enough to be interesting. Plus that perfect long-lasting Besame formula.

3. The Ordinary Foundations: Serum and Coverage

I decided I wanted to try both of The Ordinary foundations this summer: I've been using Makeup Forever Water Blend, which I do really like, but it's $54 for a 50ml bottle and that's a lot. The Ordinary foundations are $6.70 for a 30ml bottle, and even though I tried two formulas and three different shades, I'm still way ahead. And I've switched to the Serum foundation for my everyday base, since it has many of the same qualities I like about Water Blend: lightweight, light coverage, and easy to blend with fingers. I'm almost done my bottle of 1.0NS (neutral with silver highlight) in the Serum, which doesn't quite match, but is close enough. 1.0P (pink undertones), the bottle of the Serum I have in reserve, is a much better match. The Serum foundation does tend to break down by the end of my workday, but so far has not broken down in a weird patchy way, so I'm okay with the tradeoff for the coverage I desire.

I also have 1.0N in the Coverage foundation. This is another great foundation, and perfect for when I want a longer wearing, higher coverage foundation. This stays put on me (note: I usually wear it over sunscreen and a mattifying moisturizer) all day, and when set with powder, oil doesn't even break through on my nose, a typical trouble spot for me. 1.0N (neutral undertones) is also a touch too warm for me, but it's close enough. Once I work through this bottle, I will switch to 1.0P in this too. And enjoy my new life where I have two foundations for different needs.

4. Maybelline Inti-Matte Lipstick in Naked Coral

Hands down, the best lipstick purchase I made this year. Naked Coral is a comfortable demi-matte lipstick that's a beautiful, natural-looking dirty peach. It's neutral but not boring, the formula is comfortable and stays put, with even fading, and it's overall a really great lipstick. It took me until this year to take a fresh look at Maybelline's offerings, and this has exceeded expectations.

5. NARS Audacious Lipstick in Apoline

LOOK AT THE USE ON THIS THING. I've had it since January. I wear it pretty regularly and always praise it to high heavens when I do. Man, this is a great lipstick. It's easily one of my favourites. It's a muted pink, very flattering on me, and it's in the very comfortable Audacious formula. Plus that magnetic lipstick case. It's sleek and pretty and a lipstick that I can always count on to look good and not be fussy to apply. 

6. Solstice Scents Cliffside Bonfire

This has been the perfume standout for me this year. While I've dialled my perfume shopping way way way back, I still think this would be on top of the heap if I'd acquired a ton of scents. I've been raving about this here on the blog and every time I wear it and post about it on Instagram, but I really can't say it enough: I adore this perfume. If there's any scent in the world that is more me in this world, I challenge someone to find it. Cliffside Bonfire is two of my very favourite things: the ocean and woodsmoke, and I feel most like myself when I wear it. I have a 5ml rollerball right now, but I plan to get the 60ml eau de parfum at some point because I want to bathe in this stuff. 

7. Formula 10.0.6 Seriously Shine Free Mattifying Oil-Free Moisturizer

My very favourite skincare find this year! I'm much less oily than I used to be, but I still have breakthrough shine midway through the work day, and I like to reduce any primping time I have to do over lunch. I was wandering Walmart on my first journey there in my very own car (which I still hate owning, thanks for asking) and had heard some great things about Formula 10.0.6 from my friends. I was floored to see it in rural NB, and after some careful studying of the row of products, I decided on this mattifying moisturizer and the Pores Be Pure Skin-Clarifying Mud Mask, which also made this list. This moisturizer both hydrates my skin and keeps oil at bay. It doesn't fully combat shine by the end of the day, but there is a significant difference when I don't wear it. It's $10 here and a tube is 75ml, which lasts me 3-4 months, which is all good and budget-friendly. 

8. Colourpop Blotted Lips in Drip

Everyone knows I have a fistful of the Blotted Lips, but after careful consideration, I've decided that drip is my favourite one. I like the formula and the price and the packaging, though I could do without the bullets snapping off. But Drip is the best. It's a rosy brown, can be made opaque easily, isn't drying, fades evenly and is generally really flattering. It's really flattering and easy to wear. Colourpop does tend to release too many things and see what sticks, but the Blotted Lips were one of their hits this year, and I'm glad I bought in, at least this time.

9. Biore Bright Milk

I've been pretty terrible about wearing daily sunscreen for most of my life. I do it in the summer, but I don't tend to see daylight for a good chunk of the year (I arrive at work before the sun's up and leave after it goes down; I don't have windows in my library) and it's easy to drop the habit and not pick it back up. This spring, I decided I was going to find a sunscreen that I like, treat it as part of my makeup routine (like a good mattifying primer), and hopefully it would stick. After trying a few of the Biore milk sunscreens, I've settled on Bright Milk as my sunscreen and will be buying a few backup bottles in the new year, since it's officially part of my routine now. Bright Milk is probably best suited for lighter skin tones, much like most sunscreens (grrr), since it leaves a slight cast. It's got a very subtle pink tint, evens out my skin, and provides a thin, demi-matte layer for my other products to go over. The best sunscreen is the sunscreen you use, and I've finally found mine.

10. Arcana This Is Not the Carnival

While I have barely purchased perfume this year, what little I have picked up, I've generally really enjoyed (is that the secret? Be more choosy? Probably). This Is Not the Carnival was a gift with purchase scent, and when I hopped on a friend's order, we decided to split this scent since we were both interested. This is bright and bubbly and candy-ish and it makes me happy. Mini review here. If you can track down some of this, I recommend it. 

11. Glossier Mega Greens Galaxy Pack

I can't believe that I have two Glossier products on this list. Who am I. Apparently a person that is okay with paying $27 for a tub of a clay mask. I think the weird orange peel bits are pointless, but my skin adores this mask. It's the least drying clay mask I've tried. My skin feels and looks smooth, and feels supple and refreshed after using it. I'm pretty liberal in my application of this mask, have been doing it 2-3 times a week lately, and have yet to make a significant dent in it, so I don't feel like my money went to nothing. "Juice cleanse for your skin" nonsense aside, this is a good mask.

12. Marcelle Comforting Cleansing Milk

I used this as my morning cleanser for the majority of this year, and while I'm taking a break from it right now because I have a need for variety, I will be repurchasing in the future. It's a very gentle milk cleanser that I use to remove any residue from my routine the night before and prep my skin for the day. It's my understanding that Marcelle isn't widely sold in the US, which explains why I never hear about any of their products. Such a shame! 

13. Formula 10.0.6 Pores Be Pure Skin-Clarifying Mud Mask

This is made with strawberry and yarrow, so right off the bat, it smells really good and has a slight pink tint. Plus it's less than $10. This is more of a traditional clay mask than the Mega Greens Galaxy Pack - my skin definitely gets that tightish feeling that it normally does after using clay masks, but it's really soothing and helps calm down my skin if it's aggravated and needs a little pushing back in line. Also it smells really good and to be honest, if it didn't, I wouldn't use it. Half of the fun of beauty is the little things like that.

14. Hello Waffle/Shiro liquid highlighter in Sparklecat

Ever since Hello Waffle released their liquid highlighters, I have loved them. They're a light moussey texture, blendable and buildable. The highlighters I like best from Hello Waffle's line are more on the shimmer side than the glitter, but I do like more intensity form my highlighters now and again. Sparklecat was the Colour of the Month at Shiro in September, to celebrate their acquisition and reopening of Hello Waffle. Sparklecat is a champagne shimmer with silver sparks and I like how it can be worn subtly or built up. Plus the liquid highlighter formula is incredibly easy to use. I've used this almost every day since I got it. A+.

15. Essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara

The internet beautysphere was going nuts over this mascara this fall. It's $4.99! It gives you ridiculously long lashes and volume! The before and after pictures with accompanying raves were everywhere. While I try to avoid hype, I feel like mascara hype is no big deal, especially for drugstore. It's cheap and I'm going to toss it in three months anyway, you know? While I don't get the crazy drama some people do, since I already have long lashes, it does make it easier to highlight that feature. Plus it's cheaper than most drugstore mascaras. I'm in. 

16. Wet 'n' Wild Liquid Catsuit Liquid Lipstick in all the colours

Now that I have admitted that I am willing to wear liquid lipsticks, I can squarely point the blame at this newfound entrance into liquid lipsticks at the gateway drug, Wet 'n' Wild Liquid Catsuits. They hit the point of good quality and low price that I think is really important for liquid lipsticks, since they have a shorter shelf life. I wrote about them very recently, so I won't rehash it here, but suffice it to say that I'm a fan, and that their long-wearing ways have a place in my life after all.

17. NARS Liquid Blush in Dolce Vita

But the top is made of that impossible to clean NARS plastic.

If I hadn't tried this blush, Glossier Cloud Paint in Beam would be on here instead. I really like my Cloud Paint, but this liquid blush takes that texture, puts it in a more convenient packaging, gives it some extra pigment so that it's suitable for a wider range of skin tones, and made this gorgeous plummy rose. I love it. I also don't need to use much at all - a quarter pump is good enough for me, so I'll have it forever, but it's beautiful and neutral enough to go with lots of things. Plus liquid blush blends more naturally and sinks into my skin to meld really well, and I much prefer the finish to powder blushes, it turns out. (Jump back up to the picture of me wearing Besame Dusty Rose, because I'm also wearing Dolce Vita there too.)

This was the year of finding a skincare routine that actually works for me. And is happily cheaper than what I was using previously. This was also the year that I backed off of perfume, and fell in love with liquid and cream products. I've been really refining what I want from my beauty collection this year, as I continue to step out of being a student and into being a professional, as well as defining my style. 2018, however, is going to be less exploration and more maintenance: being choosier and hopefully panning a few things!

Saturday, 2 December 2017

"I don't like liquid lipstick!" and how I ended up with even more Wet 'n' Wild Liquid Catsuits

I have sworn up and down that I don't like matte liquid lipstick, I've posted it here multiple times, I've posted it on Instagram. I have written at least three semi-ranty comments on Reddit bashing the matte liquid lipstick trend. So as it slowly moves aside for some other lip products, it's fitting with my life and how I am as a person that I broke down and tried one of the Wet 'n' Wild Liquid Catsuits earlier this year and have collected a whole bunch more since then. I've even expanded to other kinds of liquid mattes! So let this be my official statement that I no longer dislike liquid mattes. I prefer traditional bullet lipsticks, but I will concede that there are times when it's better to have a long-lasting product like a liquid matte lipstick, like on the days that I spend all day teaching and can't touch up because I'm on my feet in front of a classroom. But even so, liquid lipsticks still aren't my absolute favourite and I'm picky. 

The good thing about being late to this trend is that the formulas have come a long way. They're still drying - but what longwear lip product isn't, really - but they're now lightweight, easy to apply evenly, and are more comfortable for a longer period than may have been anticipated. And good liquid lipsticks are now trickling down to the drugstore, which means that they're finally at a price that I'm willing to pay. Liquid products don't tend to have the greatest of shelf lives (but clearly that has not stopped me from collecting these things like Pokemon cards), but I feel much better about having a product I may not finish before it goes off if it costs me less than $10. And Wet 'n' Wild Liquid Catsuits have all these attributes, and come in at just under $7 at Walmart. The Halloween limited edition ones, which were inexplicably sold only at Shoppers Drug Mart, come in at $8. So it wasn't surprising that once I tried and liked Nudist Peach in the Catsuit formula that I would look for more. Plus you know, they're awesome for getting me through my teaching days and I wanted some different colours. Not really a great excuse, but one nonetheless. 

There are some small variations in the formula from colour to colour. Some are more comfortable than others, some are more opaque than others, some are thicker than others. Overall, this is a really excellent formula and the internet hype around them is completely deserved. In addition to the ones I have from the permanent line, I've gotten some of the limited editions that they've had out (metallic, Halloween) and can confirm that those are just as good, in less traditional colours. I waffled on including them in this post, but since they aren't available anymore, decided to leave them out for now. But you can see them + mini reviews on my Instagram, if you're so inclined.

Overall, I like the packaging. It's simple and functional, and also feels heftier than the usual cheap-o Wet 'n' Wild fare. Now that I've used them more regularly and with different colours since I got Nudist Peach, I really like the ballet slipper shape of the applicator. It works well for the darker colours and getting a crisp line. The neck of the tube can get a bit messy, since the stopper is kind of meh at best, however.

Swatches were taken under my ring light - daylight has left me till spring. Alas.

L-R: Rebel Rose, Give Me Mocha, Nice to Fuchsia, Missy and Fierce

Rebel Rose

Rebel Rose was the second Liquid Catsuit that I picked up. I like Nudist Peach, but wanted something a little more boring and professional. I thought it would be good for a series of day long meetings I had last spring, plus I was looking at an increase in teaching duties then (which has since become part of my month). Rebel Rose is a mauve that would be flattering on a variety of skin tones. It's very similar to Sephora Cream Lip Stain in Marvellous Mauve, so if you have one, you don't need the other. 

Rebel Rose is opaque and easy to apply. I find it slightly more drying than the others I have.

L-R: Rebel Rose, Sephora Cream Lip Stain in Marvelous Mauve, NARS Audacious lipstick in Anna, Besame Cosmetics Classic Color Lipstick in 1969 Dusty Rose

Rebel Rose is really, really similar to Marvelous Mauve. The difference in tone is pretty subtle, and you probably wouldn't need both. I got Marvelous Mauve as a Sephora point perk, so I'm not especially worried, but I will be trying to finish off one of these pretty quickly.

Give Me Mocha

Give Me Mocha is my newest Liquid Catsuit and probably my favourite for every day wear right now. It's neutral enough to squeak by in most settings, but interesting enough to stand out a bit. It's been a great fall colour.

The major downside of Give Me Mocha is that it's not opaque. It doesn't suffer from the patchiness that Nudist Peach can have, probably because it meshes better with my natural lip colour than Nudist Peach, but it does need some finesse to get fully opaque. I do a thin layer and then immediately go over it with another thin layer to achieve opacity. The Liquid Catsuits get goopy and crumbly if you try to layer them too thickly, but this avoids that. This is one of the most comfortable Liquid Catsuits on me - it doesn't feel dry or tight at at all as the others do after a long day.

L-R: Give Me Mocha, Tarte Tarteist Lip Paint in Birthday Suit, Besame Cosmetics Classic Color Lipstick in 1970 Chocolate Kiss, Howl Lipstick in Gingerbread, Colourpop Blotted Lip in Drip

Give Me Mocha is closest to Chocolate Kiss, but since Give Me Mocha isn't opaque and Chocolate Kiss is, they look very different on my face. I tend to think of Birthday Suit as similar, but they really aren't.

Missy and Fierce

Missy and Fierce is the best Liquid Catsuit, bar none (okay, very closely followed by Nice to Fuchsia). It's a bright blue-based red and it is perfect. It's opaque in one layer, it's not drying at all (very close to Give Me Mocha in terms of comfort), it doesn't cling to dry patches or highlight flakes that appear throughout the day, and it lasted the ultimate test: a party I went to with my MIL, where we drank, ate endless amounts of candy, and enjoyed greasy midnight pizza. 

L-R: Missy and Fierce, Besame Cosmetics Classic Color Lipstick in 1935 Cherry Red and 1946 Red Velvet, Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Wine With Everything, Glossier Generation G lipstick in Zip, Colourpop Blotted Lip in Lexi, Bite Amuse Bouche lipstick in Flag Red, Ere Perez Beautiful Beetroot Cheek & Lip Tint in Joy

I was kind of surprised to see that my red lipstick collection tends to fall on the side of warmer reds. I think that blue-based reds are more flattering on me, but my collection says the opposite. Missy and Fierce is fairly unique in my collection, which is really nice.

Nice to Fuchsia

Nice to Fuchsia is the second-best Liquid Catsuit in terms of formula, but probably my favourite colour-wise. It's a bright pink leaning fuchsia, opaque in one layer, and only the littlest bit drying by the end of the day. It's one of my most flattering colours, I think. I also don't have much like it, which is doubly pleasing.

L-R: Nice to Fuchsia, Colourpop Ultra Blotted Lip in Split, Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in Sheer Shame, Colourpop Blotted Lip in Ice Cube, Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in Rock Steady, NARS Audacious lipstick in Audrey

Split is almost identical to Nice to Fuchsia, albeit a more stained look than opaque matte. Shame is along the same lines too, but again a different enough look that I'm fine with having all three variations.

There aren't any colours left in the Liquid Catsuit line that interest me, though I'd be game if they made more of the LE colours permanent, because there are some truly interesting colours there. And also some more wearable ones that don't overlap with the main line. While liquid lipsticks do go off before solid ones, Wet 'n' Wild has hit upon the perfect spot: low cost, high quality. 

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Collection Inventory, 2017: Contour Products

Hi, blogosphere. The last month has been kicking my ass, to be quite frank. But there have been a number of good things that have happened in that time: I turned 26, I had five work-sanctioned cakes in the last five weeks and two of them were for me because I am spoiled as hell, it was library month!, a new Mediterranean restaurant opened near my house, I successfully made Montreal-style bagels for the first time, and the Sephora sale happened. And now I'm tucking in to write some blog posts.

The Kevyn Aucoin gathers fingerprints like crazy.

It's been a minute since I wrote a post on my collection inventory, mostly because I ran out of the ones I wanted to talk about (minus the highlighters, which I wanted to inventory after I caught up on reviews for them, which I haven't done at all either, because of aforementioned asskicking). I've saved the categories that are small or less-used or even vaguely boring. Today I will talk about a small category: contour products. I've actually doubled my contour products in the last year: I went from having one to having two. Whoa, go wild, Alison. But since I will never, ever, ever finish a contour product, two is probably excessive. And yet. 

L-R: Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder in Light, Pumpkin & Poppy Contouring Powder in Oak Bark (note: this comes with a sifter, but I pried mine out)

I've had Pumpkin & Poppy Oak Bark Contouring Powder in my collection for years at this point - I think I bought my first one in late 2014-early 2015. I then did the brilliant thing and left my pot on the windowsill of a hotel room. So I ordered a new pot. When I first bought Oak Bark, it was the only contour powder offered by Pumpkin & Poppy, meant for fair, cool-toned people. Since then, a darker version called Midnight Oak has been created. 

Oak Bark is a semi sheer taupe. It's easy to blend and very beginner-friendly. The powder is fairly finely milled, and you don't require that much when using it. One pot should last the target audience of a cool-toned fair person approximately the rest of her life, since it comes in a 20g jar. I think there used to be a cream version (or pressed), but it doesn't seem to be in the Etsy shop right now. Anyway, this is a decent budget version of this product. 

Under the ring light, L-R: Oak Bark, Light

However, because I am fickle and have been moving away from loose powders, I started casting an eye about for a potential substitute that would at least be a little more friendly. I decided against the oft-recommended NYX Taupe, since there are very few NYX products that I have actually liked and bothered to keep (the internet beautysphere obsession with NYX is frankly beyond me). Last January, Clementine had posted about the new Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder in Light, and after doing some casual searching for appropriately light contour powders, I came back to this review...and decided that this was the one to get. $53 for this little pan, and damn if I don't love it. It's a dream to use. You barely need any product, but it blends so beautifully and it's more of a pink taupe, which reads more natural to me. It looks much warmer than Oak Bark, but I haven't found it to look that much warmer on my face.

Under indoor LED lights at night, L-R: Oak Bark, Light

(There would have been face swatches of these if it would ever be daylight out again. I'll try to add some at a later date.) 

While Oak Bark is perfectly nice, Light is luxurious. It actually feels like the high-end product it is. I love it and will definitely get my money's worth out of it. I've used it regularly for some months now and am still enamoured.

I'd commit to trying to pan one of these but I sincerely doubt that will ever happen. I do use both regularly, so I'll continue to do that, I guess? If there ever is pan, you'll definitely hear about it.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

NARS Dolce Vita

I was looking at my list of blog posts to write, the ones I had planned for the next few weeks, and decided to bypass all of that and write about a relatively recent lipstick acquisition, NARS lipstick in Dolce Vita. I've praised the Audacious line of lipsticks, but hadn't tried the original lipstick line. I've swatched Dolce Vita in the bullet lipstick form multiple times - at least every time I've passed through a Sephora for the last year - and had finally added it to my list for the upcoming sale at Sephora. I didn't really have a good, easy, my lips but better lipstick. I have Revlon Super Lustrous Sheer Lipstick in Pink Truffle, but I find it to be a touch too brown and warm for what I want. Enter Dolce Vita.

I ended up getting it earlier than the sale, obviously. I was in Halifax for some continuing education and the fall meeting of a professional association that I sit on the executive for, and made it a weekend in the city with my partner and family. My SIL and my partner's cousin wanted to go to Sephora, so we went...and bought a few pre-sale things. I grabbed Dolce Vita finally, after swatching it again. There is never a time when you don't need a good MLBB, and while I've definitely been embracing bright, eye-catching colours, I still occasionally need a more subtle lip colour for the more serious moments in my life. Sometimes glittery lips are best wiped off and replaced with something else.

Dolce Vita is described as a "sheer dusty rose." I have several lipsticks that are described as dusty rose or smoky rose or terracotta rose, and to be perfectly honest, none of them have similar tones. Dusty rose could mean anything. This is a sheer, neutral pink. It's probably one of the most famous colour lines in the NARS world, though each iteration of Dolce Vita is slightly different. Orgasm seems more consistent across formats than Dolce Vita does, but oh well.

One, two and three swipes of Dolce Vita.

The formula of Dolce Vita is light and balm-like in texture. It's got a good amount of slip, and is fairly moisturizing. It really resembles a very high-quality tinted balm instead of a lipstick. As it wears, the shine and slip leave long before the colour. Because it's so sheer, it doesn't look patchy as it fades, it doesn't cling to the flakes that my lips love to produce over the day, and it's just pretty. It goes with everything, as the nature of MLBBs. It look professional, but it also goes with my current weekend uniform of an oversized sweater dress and leggings (my '90s child is peeking out in interesting ways). It's buildable and doesn't suffer from becoming too thick or feathery when built up. 


A swipe of Dolce Vita.

I swatched it next to a bunch of lipsticks I use for a similar purpose: they're close-ish to my lip colour, look relatively natural, and are pretty low-fuss. 

L-R: Bite Verbena, NARS Apoline, Maybelline Naked Coral, Revlon Pink Truffle, NARS Dolce Vita, Colourpop Drip

Dolce Vita doesn't match any of them, so I'm satisfied that it fills a hole in my collection that I was looking to stop up.

I've got a lot of meetings in the next few weeks, and have already worn Dolce Vita multiple times in the last two weeks, and have already used it to save my sometimes-inappropriately bright-lipped self at least twice, so this is working out even better than anticipated. I love when that happens.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Perfume Roundup: What I've Gotten Since My Collection Weed

In July and August, I did a series on Instagram where I did mini, daily reviews of all the perfumes I had left after a huge weed of my perfume collection. (And a couple of scents that I got during that time as well.) And then, because while I have dialled my perfume purchasing way way wayyyyy back, there were some excellent late summer/early fall collections from Solstice Scents and Arcana, and I grabbed them: Cliffside Bonfire (which I tried in an eau de parfum sample and then got a rollerball of) and a sample of Sea of Gray from Solstice Scents; an eau de parfum sample of Solstice Scents Sacred Vow with an order from Pretty Indulgent; a bottle of Sea Witch from Arcana, and I nabbed a split of Arcana Advice from a Caterpillar from a friend.

I didn't need to get any of these, especially since I still had enough perfume to wear a different one every day for a month (and did). I've been doing a fairly decent job of avoiding perfume release news, and honestly? I've tried hundreds of perfumes at this point. Something needs to be pretty damn unique or well-crafted for me to care, especially when I have limited time to wear perfume - weekends and evenings, due to a scent-free workplace. I am happy to say that all of these are unique to my collection as it stands and they were carefully chosen, with the exception of Sacred Vow, because you know, free sample.

Solstice Scents Cliffside Bonfire is the perfume I was most excited about this summer. Mostly because it's pure summer in a bottle to me: described as "Conifers, dry woods, rain, saltwater, seaweed, ambergris (vegan), charred wood, smoke." This is...well, a cliffside bonfire. Solstice Scents has been killing it with the atmospheric blends for years now, but they just keep getting better. 

I've talked a decent bit here on the blog about my childhood summers spent in Cape Breton and how those memories are deeply cherished. And Clifside Bonfire is essentially those evenings in a bottle: wind in the woods, woodsmoke, and the scent of the ocean. It's like I'm sitting around the fire with my (incredibly large) extended family. This scent makes me so happy from just a whiff that it's possible that I wouldn't care if the sillage and the lasting power sucked, but it doesn't. It's got moderate sillage (my partner asked me why I smelled like Cape Breton when it had been weeks since I'd been) and the lasting power is decent, getting to eight hours on my skin. All of the components blend well together and fade evenly. It's a beautiful scent, but this is probably a big YMMV kind of scent. It's a true atmospheric, so if you don't want to literally smell like a bonfire next to the ocean, you should pass.

Sea of Grey was from the same late summer release as Cliffside Bonfire. I was much less sure about this one, so I picked it as my free sample with my order. This is described as "Vanilla rain, saltwater, seaweed, ambergris (vegan), white amber, roasted seashells, white sandalwood, frangipani."

Sea of Grey reminds me a lot of Arcana The Kraken. They're not the same scent, but in the same wheelhouse: both a vanilla aquatics. But while The Kraken is a smoked vanilla aquatic, Sea of Grey is more like vanilla ice cream and the ocean. The vanilla is delicate and sweet, while the ocean notes are smoothed out by white florals. Sea of Grey hugs much closer to the skin than Cliffside Bonfire, but has the same lasting power as Cliffside Bonfire. The sweet vanilla disspates more quickly than I expected, and it becomes more about smooth cool ocean and a whisp of vanilla. I like Sea of Grey, and it probably has broader appeal than Cliffside Bonfire, but I'm satisfied with just a sample. It's lovely, but not me.

The third Solstice Scents pick is the free one I got with my order from Pretty Indulgent to get Arcana Sea Witch and the rollerball of Cliffside Bonfire, Sacred Vow. Sacred Vow was created, along with White Feather, a scent I have yet to try, by the owners of Solstice Scents for their wedding, which I think is really lovely. It's described as "Vanilla, amber, bay rum, sandalwood, oak, patchouli, vetiver, saffron, lime and more." 

(I don't know what "more" means. That doesn't seem much like a note. I digress.)

Sacred Vow is more unisex than I go for - it's either straight-up fruity candy scents or strict atmospheric scents over here, and the spicy, resinous tone of Sacred Vow isn't much like me. I'll probably pass this onto my partner in a valiant attempt to get him into indie scents. It's a very warm, cozy, spicy scent. I get a lot of bay rum and sandalwood on me, which is not surprising. Both notes amp a ton on me. The sillage is relatively low, hugging very intimately, but the staying power is crazy. All of the times I've tried it have left it lasting at least 12 hours, sometimes longer. I've gone to sleep with it on and had to scrub it off to go to work in the morning. 

My two Arcanas are also a little outside what I might normally get. I was sold on Advice from a Caterpillar when my friend described it as lime Pepsi, which is one the best pops that of which I still mourn the loss. It doesn't totally smell like lime Pepsi, maybe a spicier, more sophisticated version, but I do get a bit of lime Pepsi when I first put it on. It's described as "Disappear into Wonderland with this mind-altering blend of tart lime peel, sugared coconut, ripe berries, clove bud, allspice, yellow peach, and a faint wisp of Indonesian patchouli."

It's such an interesting blend. It starts off with lots of lime, coconut and allspice, but mellows as it sinks into my skin, becoming spicier and richer as the lime dissipates. The coconut helps smooth the spice, and general fruitiness really rounds it out. It gets peachier as it wears as well, but the allspice remains the centre of the show during the duration of wear. It's delicious. It's got low moderate sillage, and lasts about six hours on my skin.

Finally, I got Sea Witch from the recent Witches release. Sea Witch is a fruity aquatic, and it's...interesting. I've been testing it pretty extensively and I'm still not sure if I like it. It starts off really shampoo-like on me. It smooths out some, but I don't know. It's described as "Delicate aquamarine scales and fins mingle with ribbons of seaweed, blueberries, brine, fresh rain, and gently sweet amber resin."

I think the problem is the blueberries, which is a great note in theory, but one that often reads like soap to my nose. After a few minutes of letting it sink into my skin, it's less soap and more like blueberries, amber, and slightly salty water, with a quickly disappearing fishy note. Probably the seaweed note, since that has gone fishy on me before. It's a very fresh water scent, much less salty than the other aquatics than I've reviewed in this post. The sillage on this one is lower than the others, requiring me to be fairly close to smell it (frankly the best way to wear perfume, in my humble opinion), and it lasts about five hours on my skin.

I've yet to see any fall releases jump out at me, but I think I'll continue this sort of perfume reviewing: rounding up my purchases for a season, since there won't be that many, and then I can compare them (especially if I'm buying on a theme, like this time around). What do you think?

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Hype Machine: Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer

Unless you've been living under a rock (or don't care about beauty, in which case...why are you here? Stay if you want, but this is a beauty blog), you're probably aware that Rihanna launched a makeup line called Fenty Beauty and the internet beautysphere has gone nuts over it because a) Rihanna and b) 40 shades of foundation with a wide range, which is excellent. I'm not in the market for a new foundation since I adopted The Ordinary Serum Foundation, which is $6.80! Canadian! I love it! but I did take a look at the offerings from Fenty Beauty at launch. I like the branding and the focus on bases in the line at launch. 40 foundation shades, one lip product. It's an interesting choice. And as a lip product devotee, I went straight for the lip gloss. 

The Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer in Fenty Glow (do you get more points if you have extra long product names?) is described as a "shimmering rose nude." I assume that Fenty Beauty plans to come out with more shades of these at some point, since they bothered to name the only shade that came out at launch. But since there's only one, most people I've seen talking about it have been calling it the Fenty gloss. I'm guilty of that too, since that name is so effing long, but the librarian in me knows this will be a problem when people try to find reviews later and the shade range has expanded. 

The applicator is enormous.

(It's also why I have such a problem with Instagram tags. There are SO MANY ways people could search for something! So stressful sometimes. It's possible I spend too much time thinking about this. Controlled vocabularies are so needed.)

The Fenty gloss reminds me a bit of the Shiro Snow Bunny lip gloss I had from the Indie Memory Box, though sheerer. It's comfortable and lightly moisturizing. Because it's so sheer, it doesn't wear away unevenly. I got about three hours before I had to reapply it, while doing regular snacking/drinking/talking incessantly.

Swatched heavily, sheered out.

It's probably universal because it's so sheer. Not because there's an actual universal colour. 

It smells like peaches and vanilla, very similar to Arcana Peaches Crave Vanilla - it reminds me a lot of that perfume, and seems to have a tiny bit of sweetener in it so that you get a bit of the taste. It's like a throwback to Lip Smackers gloss, but a more adult version, for those who still want to wear gloss but also need to be a professional.

Indirect natural lighting.

Fluorescent lighting.

My one huge gripe with this product is how bulky the tube is. Here it is pictured with a bunch of other lip products.

L-R: Colourpop lip gloss (2.4g), Wet n Wild Liquid Catsuit liquid lipstick (6g), Fenty Gloss Bomb (9ml), DreamWorld Cosmetics Ectoplasmic Lips (11g), Fyrinnae Magic Whipped Metallic (3ml), Sephora Cream Lip Stain (5ml), Bite Prismatic Pearl Creme Lip Gloss (4.14ml)

The Fenty gloss is 9ml, which is a lot of gloss. Most liquid lip products, as you see above, have much less (but also have bulky packaging too). But the tube is especially short and wide, and I'd honestly rather have less gloss and a thinner tube. Gloss isn't a product that keeps forever, you know? If this was the only thing I wore everyday, I could see using it all up in a reasonable amount of time. And maybe that's the goal of it, to be an everyday, multi-occasion kind of product. Who knows.

The Fenty gloss is nice. It's a really solid gloss. Does it deserve the hype it's been getting? Probably not. If you have a gloss formula you like already, you can probably pass on this. I like it, I'm glad I bought it, but it would have been fine to skip it.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

2017 Reads: July to September

This quarter, I borrowed a bunch of library books in order to put some pressure on myself to continue to get back into reading, so I have a slightly more interesting picture of some of these titles. This was moderately successful, though I maxed out my renewals on some titles that I didn't get around to reading this quarter and had to return them yesterday before reading them. Having overdue fines is a shame I can't bear.

Some of the books I read. Apparently I forgot to take photos of the others.

Commonwealth - Ann Patchett

This was really good, if somewhat strangely paced. It starts with the christening party of Franny, the youngest child of Fix and Beverly Keating, where Bert Cousins arrives with gin and kisses Beverly. They start an affair that breaks up their families and brings their six kids together every summer in Virginia. The story is told mainly through Franny's eyes, and it's a strange, funny, sad story about actions, unintended consequences, and the bonds of family. Truly one of the best books I've read this year.

Do Not Say We Have Nothing - Madeleine Thien

This book is not critically acclaimed for nothing. It starts in 1991, with Marie and her mother taking in a refugee, Ai-ming, who has connections to Marie's father and brings with her the stories that make up the rest of the plotline: connections between different generations and families, starting withe the Cultural Revolution in China and ending with Tienanmen Square. It can be somewhat hard to follow and keep track of, with the jumping from era to era, but it's beautifully woven overall. 

Saints of Big Harbour - Lynn Coady

This was a familiar story to me, in that I recognized the characters like they could be people from my own life. It's set in the fictional Cape Breton town of Big Harbour, focusing on the life of Guy Boucher and a cast of characters that he is related to or meets: his mother and sister, his alcoholic uncle, his alcoholic English teacher, the girl he has a crush on from Big Harbour, and her best friend. Guy is the main narrator, but there are a bunch of other chapters from the other characters. Some of it falls a little flat, since the fractured viewpoints don't always work that well, but I liked it for staying true to the Maritime spirit.

Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat - Philip Lymbery

I've been carefully inching toward vegetarianism for years (and will probably make it over to veganism at some point) and I decided to read Farmaggedon for a good overview of the environmental cost of factory farming. I've been reducing my animal consumption for a while, but needed a kick and decided to grab this to help along with it. It's an interesting and sobering look at the cost of our food, plus has loads of great sources to follow up on.

The Lonely Hearts Hotel - Heather O'Neill

I like Heather O'Neill's writing but sometimes I feel like if you've read one of her books, you can pretty much fill in the rest of them. Some tragic children, with sad backgrounds, grow up on the streets in Montreal and attempt to overcome adversity but can't truly rebuff their pasts. Usually gritty. They're always good and entertaining, but I have yet to finish one and think "Hey, this wasn't like the rest of them!" Rose and Pierrot are children born out of wedlock and left at one of the many institutions run by nuns in Montreal in 1914. Both are brilliant performers and soon are sent out by the Mother Superior to entertain potential donors. And they fall in love. And here begins their really tragic story: Pierrot and Rose are separated by the nun who has sexually abused Pierrot for years, and once both are out of the orphanage, they drift in and out of bad situations, till they find one another. It is really good, I swear. But familiar.

The Light Between Oceans - M.L. Stedman

I have the DVD of this on hold at the library and will be watching it soon, now that I've finished the book. This broke my heart, to be perfectly honest. You have a lighthouse keeper with PTSD, his wife who miscarries multiple times, and a baby who washes up on the rock where they live with the light in a boat with a dead man. They take the little girl and raise her as their own - and that's fine, till they leave the lighthouse and move back to the mainland. It was beautifully told, but it was unbearably sad. 

The Two-Family House - Lynda Cohen Longman

This was a random library selection when picking up my holds. It's about two brothers who own a company together and share a house, one brother living upstairs with his family, and the other downstairs. Their wives are close friends and raise their children together, but after both are pregnant with their youngest children at the same time, a rift forms, and they eventually become deeply estranged. It was surprisingly one of my favourite books that I read this quarter, though I saw the twist coming from a mile away.

Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague- Geraldine Brooks

This is a book that a friend's mother gave me when we stayed with them in Ottawa, telling me it was one of her favourites and since I'm a librarian, she wanted to hear my thoughts...which I still haven't messaged to my friend. So after I post this, I'll message him. But anyway. This was really interesting. It's set in Eyam, a village in Derbyshire that quarantined itself in 1666, when the plague arrives, which actually happened. It's narrated by the fictional Anna Frith, a widow and housemaid, who tells the story of the desperation and fear that grips the village, as well as her own tragic losses. The last bit of the novel gets a little over the top, but most of the story during the quarantine is really good. 

In a Daze Work - Siobhan Gallagher

This is a really fun concept: it's a choose-your-own-adventure journey through the daily grind - work, buying coffee, shunning social contact, bingeing on Netflix, etc. I enjoy picking it up and leafing through. It's funny as hell and sometimes a little too relatable. Also I went to the same high school as the author and she's incredibly talented.

Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies - Michael Ausiello

I only Michael Ausiello because I am a rabid Gilmore Girls fan and was when it was airing. So was he. This is the memoir about Ausiello's last year with his husband, Kit, and what it was like to live with a spouse dying of cancer. It's tragic and funny, and Ausiello doesn't shy form sharing the ups and downs of their relationship. The emotion was definitely raw in this one, and it makes up for any shortcomings in narration.

Looking for Bootstraps: Economic Development in the Maritimes - Donald J. Savoie

Returning to my first academic love: the Maritimes and what the hell we're going to do. This was an interesting overview of the economic history of the Maritimes, and exploring how we ended up as a struggling region, small and unheard in Confederation. Savoie explores the relationship between the federal government, the provincial governments, and the competition in a region that doesn't (and shouldn't) be sabotaging one another. It was fascinating, and laid out the evidence for my own mixed thoughts on why we are where we are, the frustrations of being a young person in a chronically depressed region, and where we may end up if we don't get our collective acts together, along with the recognition that we can't bear all of the blame. It was very thorough, and I highly recommend it. 

Total read this quarter: 11
Total read previous quarter: 11
Total read in 2017 to date: 32