Tuesday, December 1, 2015

November ipsy Glam Bag reviewed

November's ipsy Glam Bag contained the five deluxe sample sized products you see above. I finally got my hands on this trèStiQue Lip Crayon in Chile Red, a vibrant red lipstick that's easy to apply and ultra-portable. This light and creamy formula glides onto lips and feels weightless but delivers vibrant, opaque colour with one swipe. I'm now extra curious about the rest of this line and may give one of the sets a try. They look so convenient and foolproof, my curiosity is piqued.
Behind it is Smashbox's Full Exposure Mascara in Black, a popular product from this professional quality line that has always specialized in makeup that photographs particularly well. This mascara formulation is appreciated by many for being a solid all-around performer in both lengthening and thickening categories, with minimal flaking or smudging. The large size of the brush applicator means it takes only few quick flicks to achieve long-wearing, dramatic lashes.
The shimmery taupe single eyeshadow you see is by INSPR Beauty, a newer line out of L.A. with a luxurious feel and gorgeous colour payoff. Darker women often struggle with shimmer eyeshadows showing up a different shade than expected, sometimes with messy fallout on areas of the face that can highlight all the wrong things, or can just look childishly glittery and cheap. I've found that the key is how finely milled your glitter particles are, and this goes for shimmer lip and face products as well. I'm happy to report that this velvety eyeshadow in this cool neutral shade named Carnival smooths a metallic sheen onto the lid with the first sweep, no primer needed. The shadow stayed in place all day, and brings an eye-brightening but still subtle bit of sheen to any makeup look, especially as a final overlay in the very centre of the lower lid, just before liner and mascara are applied.
Back to the world's ongoing love affair with Korean beauty, my Glam Bag included a sweet little tester of Jelly Pong Pong's Liquid Gossamer luminizing lotion. I've had mixed success with liquid highlighters, but this watery, ultra-fine, almost pearl-like sheen is easy to apply without disturbing makeup underneath and gives the subtle, non-sparkly highlight glow that I was hoping for when I tried the Hourglass powder on my face. As with other ipsy samples, I'm thrilled to have a diminutive liquid highlighter for my travel makeup kit, something I was at a loss to find anywhere else.
Last of the November set is this terrific deep moisturizing conditioner by top Brazilian hair line Novex, the Brazilian Keratin Deep Conditioning Treatment. Used after shampooing, it is applied to damp hair and can be left in for a few minutes for daily conditioning or for up to 15 or more for seriously deep rehydration. This thick cream conditioner is full of vitamin E, keratin and natural oils, and although I wasn't sure about using conditioner from a jar instead of a bottle, it's really not an issue - in fact, I felt like I even had more control than usual over how much product I was applying. The smell is not my favourite thing in the world, but it thankfully doesn't linger, leaving hair super-shiny and soft.  Products like this are why I love ipsy, since I doubt I would ever have heard of or tried it if it hadn't arrived on my doorstep. Thanks again ipsy!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

M.A.C. Macnificent Me! favs & reviews

And just like that, after many years away trying any and every other brand of cosmetics, now that I am excited by and wearing makeup again, I've come back to M.A.C. Cosmetics like a prodigal child. M.A.C. was the first brand of makeup that I can remember being really fanatical about, in the early years of the company when the difficulty in acquiring it added to the cachet of owning it. Favourite shades and product information was traded in hushed tones by those with beauty knowledge and a generous spirit. In the intervening years, M.A.C. has taught new makeup artists and beauty lovers what to expect from professional-quality cosmetics and has never stopped being at the forefront of fashion and new formulations.

The decadent haul you see above is a present from my darling friend Nics, who knows how much I love to give and receive beauty products in the mail, and this time she really blew my mind! The package included flawless products like the inky-matte Fluidline Eye-Liner Gel in Blacktrack, which is deep, darkest black; once applied, it sets for the day without flaking or smudging. It is a yardstick by which other liners are compared in the beauty industry since it is a staple product across the globe, thanks to their dynamic colour selection and the great performance of this liner, which for as long as I can remember, has been one of the best available.

The Haute & Naughty Lash Mascara in Black is a clever bit of packaging that allows you to use either the pink or the glittery purple wand option, for subtle daytime definition or an all-out full-glam application that is thick and dramatic, your choice depending on which colour cap you unscrew. The different apertures allow more or less product to remain on the generously-sized brush bristles, but I will be using mostly the pink option since I prefer more subtle and precise application. I've been annoyed by many mascara formulas that I've tested but find this version to be long-wearing and non-irritating to my eyes.

Next up, a few lines to rave about this Macnificent Me! Eyeshadow X9 palette which contains every desirable, wearable eyeshadow colour I want in one small but efficient palette. Shades include: Macnificent Me!, Quiet Type, Dance in the Dark, Fabulous DNA, Pleasing to the Eye, Sable, Frankly Frosty, In My Element and Cool Complement. When I first glanced at the colours chosen, I thought they were nice and fine and maybe a little boring, but once I started using them I realized they have created a standout winner in my opinion. This is because the transitional eyeshadows in this palette are the best I've ever used, with 3 of the matte shades now acting as my everyday shadow base, blending and transitioning shadows and I'm not sure how I ever got along without them, they are that good. The other shades are perfect to define, highlight and line my eyes, so basically M.A.C. has created my ideal eyeshadow palette but I didn't even know it when I first looked at it! The soft, almost creamy texture of these shadows make them a joy to apply and blend, plus the incredible performance of these shadows have kept M.A.C. at the top of the beauty world for years.

I saved the best for last with this cohort of gorgeous lip products that are my favourite cosmetics of all right now. I'll admit to a heartfelt nostalgia for the original M.A.C. lipstick bullet with the mild vanilla scent that I associate with the brand. Some of you may know that I am currently obsessed with the almost-concealer-nude lips that are popular again, which match perfectly with dramatic eye looks for evening or just on their own with a bit of mascara and blush for a super-fast everyday no-makeup look, since they won't bleed or wear off as noticeably as darker shades which require mindful maintenance.

I was almost delirious with happiness as I opened the lipstick package to reveal the most perfect shade, M.A.C. Satin Lipstick in Fleshpot. Oh-em-gee, I've been carrying on about light nude lips for weeks if not months now, so leave it to MAC Cosmetics to remind errybody why they run this game. The light, flesh tone and creamy, no-sparkle, highly-pigmented formula will win you over in a single swipe. Using a liberal amount of dark brown/burgundy lipliner in successive layers, darker women will rock this lipcolour, which on fairer skin is perfect on its own. M.A.C. lipsticks are also a reminder of when I first fell in love with makeup artistry, when M.A.C. cosmetics were new and rare in the beauty world. I'm back in love with M.A.C. lippies and it feels like coming home.

Always on the cutting edge of new products and formulas, M.A.C. often seems to produce the best iteration of whatever is hot right now on the beauty scene. Case in point are these creamy, fool-proof PatentPolish Lip Pencils, which I received in shades Make Me Proud (a neutral rose nude, the darker of the two pictured above) and It's Really Me (a perfect greigey-nude that I wear daily). I wasn't sure about these chunky lip crayons at first glance, but again, one swipe and I was in love. The texture is like the best lip balm ever, with enough opaque colour to not require anything but a light hand with a darker liner, it has a hint of shine without any glitter. This lip product glides on and feels so hydrating and creamy that I reapply it several times per day just to comfort my lips. Absolutely this is my favourite cosmetic product in my entire collection at the moment, who would have guessed?

Lastly is this M.A.C. Vamplify Lipgloss in shade Anything But Demure, and I am serious when I say that this lipgloss is among the best you can buy. From texture to wear, this is the perfect gloss for all my favourite nude lip looks. Not overly sticky and longer-wearing than I expected, it's a far cry from the original Lipglass that I used to own years ago. The luxurious feel of this product extends from the newfangled applicator tip to the well-pigmented formula that seems to last much longer than other glosses, available in a decent range of fashion-forward, universally flattering shades.

M.A.C.'s beauty game is clearly stronger than ever, well-deserving of their loyal customer base, trusted by MUAs since forever with good reason. Go get you some!

Harvey Prince Organics - smells good, feels good, ethically sound

After a few weeks of indecision, I went ahead and placed my first order with Harvey Prince Organics. I received a full-sized pump-dispenser bottle of their Ageless Body Cream and am now hooked on this line. The Ageless scent has quickly grown on me, and I wear this body cream every day; I've become obsessed with the clean, fruity, faintly floral-but-not-overpowering scent. But what really sold me on this cream is how incredibly soft it makes my skin (which I can still feel hydrating my skin almost a day later!), and I completely love it. I have no time for lotions that sink in and leave problem bits like elbows, hands, knees and feet dry and flaky shortly after application. Not so for this thick, rich body cream, which is keeping my skin soft and comfortable this winter, hydrating and protecting from the drying effects of the cold outside and overheated interiors, while somehow not being overly greasy or sticky. This is a very satisfying body care product that I am going to repurchase.

I'm always glad when my favourite brands offer travel and sample sizes of their products, so I can try items before buying a full-sized container. When I really like a product, I quickly stash the small version in my travel toiletries bag, and seek out the full-sized product right away. That's why I am delighted that Harvey Prince has several of their fragrance, bath and body care samples in deluxe-sized sets that allows me to try out a wide variety of products. The hair and body products I ordered are in the scent Hello. It smells crisp and bright at first and later on settles down nicely to slightly musky notes that linger sweetly. It's a very pleasantly wearable scent that is subtle enough for daytime and work settings without being cloying.

The Sea Salt Texturizing Mist is fantastic! I've found several beachy hair sprays to be overly drying on my long hair, or just ineffective. This spray added just enough texture control without the stiffness of hairspray or mousse, and allows hair at the roots to hold a bit of teasing for subtle volume and a bit of messiness that looks fresh and effortless. I am almost certain to order a large bottle of this product very shortly.

Finally, I received an array of scent vials that are barely visible in the photo above, in behind the larger products. I received samples of Ageless (clean, fruity, subtly floral), Eau So Divine (clean, bright and fresh), Cherie Blossom (a sweeter floral blend), Sincerely (slightly woodsy, mildly spicy), Hello (crisp, bright and faintly musky) and Petaly Noir (musky, floral and sweet). Each scent changes with the wearer's personal body chemistry, transforming into a personal scent experience that silently communicates with those around you. Since I am generally sensitive (or averse) to many perfumed products, naturally-sourced, carefully blended scents are all I now wear and having an entire line to discover that is vegan and cruelty-free is delightful.

The brand's story is endearing and knowing that all the products are made without toxic chemicals is wonderful - they are even mindful of pregnant mothers when devising their formulas. The line was in the media when I first heard of them, with the coverage focused on claims that the scents can make wearers appear thinner, younger, friendlier or even make you lose weight! But all of that hype cannot detract from a well-balanced perfume that doesn't give me a headache and isn't offensively strong.

Once I finally decided on what products I wanted to order, they arrived in a few short days, surprisingly rapid delivery time to Canada, all undamaged in the packaging. My first experience with Harvey Prince Organics has been very positive and after several weeks of using the products, I am pleasantly satisfied with everything I've ordered from them. With the gift-giving season upon us, this is a more thoughtful, original option for the beauty and scent lover on your list for holiday presents this year.

Monday, November 16, 2015

a trio of beauty bargains I love right now

Here we are mid-November and I am still not over my nude to putty-grey lip mania. After mucking about and being generally dissatisfied with my lipcolour options, I decided to get my sh!t together and set out to pick up a true chocolate brown lipliner, one that does not lean towards red or pinkness, and although I expected to buy the classic M.A.C. Cosmetics Lip Pencil in Chestnut, I detoured to this Prestige Waterproof Lipliner in shade LW-26 Cocoa and am so glad I did! The waterproof formula of this creamy pencil does not prevent it from blending effortlessly on top or below my lipstick, and the deep chocolate shade did not make my lipstick pink at all. My aim in buying a quality brown lipliner is to use it as my blending workhorse for light lip colours that I desperately love and want to wear but will show up as weird and chalky on my lips without 2-3 layers of dark, well-blended liner for definition. But I generally do both - over and under - after moisturizing my lips lightly while applying the rest of my regimen (lips are always last of course), I lightly line my lips using careful feather-strokes with this pencil and quickly smear on my first layer of lipstick before the liner has a chance to set. I am careful not to overline my lips with this first layer since I am not going for an East L.A. in the early-90s 'Mi Vida Loca' look. I rub my lips together blending the first layers of lipliner and lipstick until the liner is a barely noticeable ombre effect. Then I draw a stronger line with the pencil and apply a second layer of lipstick which is now more opaque but has a faint border that prevents me from being mistaken for Tyrone Biggums.
This is how I am able to wear and enjoy the pale and nude lipsticks that are perfect to pair with dramatic eye looks or on natural and no-makeup days when I only want a bit of moisturizing and to even out my lips, most especially in this transitional season of autumn to winter when chapping and redness are the norm.

Back to this liner: now that I like this formula so much, I'm asking myself why on earth was I using non-waterproof liner on my lips? As with eyeliner, it's the only other place where precision application and staying power of well-defined colour application are the difference between looking put-together or being a pasty white-lipped mess. So what I'm really trying to say is: this Prestige Waterproof Lipliner right here is a game-changer for me. I use it pretty much every day with all my favourite nude lipsticks and I love it since it allows me to wear shades that are otherwise too light for my skintone. I believe that Prestige Cosmetics in an unsung hero(ine?) of beauty bargains, with some of the lowest prices at the drugstore, plus the brand regularly goes on sale which brings the cost down even more. At $5.99 each currently on sale at London Drugs, I'm eager to go pick up another, this time in the shade Mocha.

Next up is one of my all-around favourite makeup lines, NYX Cosmetics, who have now fully expanded into Canada with the opening of their first stand-alone store in Toronto and the long-awaited launch of a dedicated 'dot.ca' vendor site for Canadian beauty lovers (a nuance that is overlooked by online saleswonks at their peril). However, since I live several time zones away from Tee-Oh and value my time and effort, I am happy that NYX is available at several locations that are in my usual trajectory so I can see and test some of the products before I purchase. London Drugs in particular really came through for me recently when the Beauty Consultant at the location near me, phoned me to say that a product that is sold out absolutely everywhere in BC's Lower Mainland had come into the store in limited supply and one of the few that arrived were put aside for me at the cosmetics counter. I had given them my contact info to be notified when they became available a couple of months ago and promptly forgot about it. This value-added service impressed me and added to the cachet to my new acquisition for its rarity.

But I'll get to that right after a few words about this caramel nude NYX High Voltage Lipstick in the shade HVLS 13 - STONE, which leans towards beige or even 'greige' and I am obsessed with pairing it with the lipliner detailed above. After falling in love with this product in a vivid violet hue, already I knew that I love the wear and feel of this lipstick. Since it's in a natural light shade and is a creamy stick instead of a liquid lipstick tube, it doesn't wear off leaving a patchy inner lip line, but it needs to be reapplied after eating and drinking. It's not that this product is transfer-proof, it isn't. What it does do is impart lovely, moisturizing colour that lasts much longer than conventional creamy tube lipsticks. At only $8.99, it's a true beauty bargain.

I would like you to join me in welcoming this elusive NYX Wonder Stick that I finally got my hands on in the shade Deep to my collection. It is a double-ended cream contouring product that is easy to apply, tidy and ideal for travel. The smartly rounded darker end smooths on depth and shadow while the pointed highlight end helps to place the product precisely and brings light to those areas. I really appreciate how well-thought-out I find this contour stick, and I definitely prefer this format to any flat palette into which a brush, sponge or finger will be smushed prior to application. This format is easier to keep hygienic as well; a good wipe, a spray of isopropyl alcohol, another wipe and voilà, germophobes rejoice! I'm happy to report that both the contour and highlight shades look very natural with my skintone and blend beautifully with zero shimmer. They are effective on their own or as a base for powder contouring if you want a more dramatic, very durable makeup look. This Wonder Stick is unscented and non-irritating, even after several hours on my sensitive skin. Now that winter is truly upon us, I prefer creams to powders on my extra-dry skin and have been enjoying using this with just a final light dusting of translucent powder to set. At only $13.99, this is another instant favourite from NYX Cosmetics.

October ipsy glam bag & more Shu

My ipsy October GlamBag arrived a bit later than usual but I didn't mind at all since it was a crazy-hectic month in my world, and I was once again the delighted recipient of five bonus-sized beauty samples.

Let's start with the brow pencil, Korean beauty brand Touch in Sol's Mini Browza Super Proof Gel Brow Pencil in the shade Mink Wink. It is everything I want in a brow pencil, with a built-in spoolie on the opposite end for ultimate convenience. This product gives my dark brows a shaded effect, perfect whenever I want nearly imperceptible brow definition that is subtle enough for daytime or any natural look. Unbelievable bonus: this brow pencil is indelible, full stop. I am, admittedly, new to the brow game, and I've struggled to remember not to wipe my brow colour all over my face, especially if the product dries and makes me think I have itchy eyebrows. It's why I've never enjoyed most products like brow gels or pomades. Well this little gel pencil is a clever blend of the two formats; it draws colour on exactly where you want it with no mess or fallout, and provides just enough control of the brow hairs without ever becoming flaky and uncomfortable. I had my eye on a couple of other brow pencils but this one by Touch in Sol has won me over.

Next up is my favourite of the lot, Meet Matt(e) Hughes Long Lasting Lipstick in the shade Committed, by one of my long-favourite lines, The Balm. I was absolutely not prepared to fall in love with this lipstick the minute I applied it, but that's exactly what happened. The shade seemed uninspiring in the tube, but once applied, I was in perfect-nude-lip heaven. I almost never like the scent of lip products, but somehow this one is beyond enjoyable, its downright addictive - described as vanilla-mint, it reminds me of mint chocolate chip ice cream and I am so surprised at how much I love it. This is the only long-lasting liquid lipstick I've tried that is truly moisturizing and still comfortable after hours on my lips. Applying a second layer gave the lipcolour more impact and added to the staying power. It also did not wear off in that chunky, obvious way that plagues these liquid lipsticks, but that may also be due to how closely this shade matches my natural lip colour. While this product does not last as long as other brands' versions that I've tried, I prefer the feel and formula of this one better than any of the others so thank you to The Balm for creating another beauty must-have.

Another cosmetics line I've been jonesing to try is IT Cosmetics after seeing so many positive products reviews online, so I was thrilled to find a sample of their Hello Lashes Mascara in my GlamBag this month. It is described as a 5-in-1 product meant to work as mascara, primer, growth serum, tint and lash curler with the coolest brush that end in a tiny bristle ball for extra precision. Since it's a small-sized mascara, I'll be saving it for my travel makeup bag which saves space and is hygienic.

My GlamBag included a lovely cleanser, Hey Honey's Come Clean Propolis & Minerals Facial Scrub. It's terrifically important to draw any makeup residue that can build up on the delicate skin of the face, but with extra-sensitive skin, I struggle to find the right balance between exfolation and irritation. This scrub had me won over before I even opened the package, since I am beyond obsessed with honey, it is my sweetener of choice and I use it in my tea and cooking daily. Next, was learning that the exfoliating particles in the scrub are not noxious to living creatures but dissolve as they do their job on your face. Also thankfully absent are parabens and SLS, both completely unnecessary in a facial scrub in my opinion. The result is beautifully soft, clean but hydrated skin with zero irritation, another great find from ipsy.

Finally, a perfume by a stellar Canadian brand named Aromachology, their Exotic & Spicy Eau de Parfum. This line has earned a well-deserved fan following for their customizable blends that allow you to choose your favourite scent notes to create your ideal perfume. My first whiff of the generous sample vial was downright off-putting, and I put it away for several days. However, after the recent transition here on the Wet Coast to decidedly winter temperatures, something urged me to give this strange perfume a try. As hoped, the notes changed when they came into contact with my skin and what once seemed like dissonant notes that confused my nose in the bottle, now were harmonious and pleasant in reaction to my body's chemistry. It was a vivid reminder of how critical it is to try a scent on the skin and over several hours to assess if it is right for you, and that sniffing a scent in the bottle (or sprayed onto a test strip) is a completely ineffective way to choose a scented product.

One dynamic that I had not considered when I signed up with ipsy is that this service provides me with a steady but manageable stream of beauty products that actually do save me time and money. When the brow pencil I had on my shopping list ended up in my GlamBag, I crossed it off my list; I now have a fantastic new makeup item to use and I didn't have to lift a finger. The same thing happened the month before when I received the most perfect nail polish in a dark burgundy shade that is just what I wanted this autumn.
Perhaps it's the luck of the newly-subscribed, but I have thoroughly enjoyed every product I've been sent so far. I appreciate getting both skincare and makeup products in the GlamBags, and although some subscribers have not been as pleased as me with their monthly products, I took my time when filling out the first questionnaire that customizes my GlamBags, as well as completing the monthly feedback questions about products I've received which all help to ensure more GlamBag satisfaction.

Finally, I placed a diminutive order at Shu Uemura and was delighted to receive my Haute Street Drawing Pencil in the shade M violet. The stunning dark purple liner glides on with ease and once set, creates a truly waterproof line that doesn't smudge at all. I would be more surprised but this is the consistent level of quality I have come to expect from this venerated Japanese beauty and skincare line. A bit of searching online led me to a promo code that resulted in three bonus gifts that made me deliriously happy: a sample size of POREfinist Anti-shine Fresh Cleansing Oil (I adore these as they are ideal for travel), a gorgeous travel lip brush, and finally, a sample of the Laque Supreme Lip and Cheek Color in the shade RD01 (pictured below), a beautiful bright coral-pink/red hue that's totally flattering on both lips and cheeks. I was trepid when I first opened the package and saw it was in a colour I would never have chosen for myself. I applied some anyways, curious about the feel and formula and a minute later answered a videochat from my BFF, whose very first comment was about my gorgeous lip colour. Once again, all of the products from this line have been completely impressive and in my opinion are worth the cost if judiciously chosen and bonuses are included.
A photo posted by Monica Ghosh (@point_1) on

Sunday, October 11, 2015

e.l.f., Sept ipsy, Sacha Cosmetics & the BEST yellow setting powder

My most recent e.l.f. order just arrived and I am thrilled with the products I received! First up is this all-in-one Beauty Book in Natural Look. With 6 neutral eye shadows, a nude eye primer and a black eyeliner pencil, this kit is a rarity: it's a set you can use to create a complete eye makeup look that includes matte and shimmer, dark shade tones and bright highlights all in perfectly flattering combination.

The shadows are so velvety and blendable, definitely less powdery-sheer than I expected from such an affordable cosmetics line. Another pleasant surprise was the eye primer included in the kit - it is excellent! Already a fan of e.l.f.'s twist-up stick version of eyelid primer, I was happy they included it in this set. The light flesh tone helps even out skin tone on the lids and ensures long-wearing, budgeproof makeup application. Both lighter and creamier, I think this eye primer lasts longer than the other one without creasing. I also like the doe-foot applicator for ease-of-use.

Next in my order was this Shimmer Palette which houses 4 creamy highlighters for use anywhere. I can't believe it but I'm more impressed by this product than by Becca's Shimmering Skin Perfector (which made me break out). I find the creamy consistency better suited to the purpose in my opinion and it can be layered on for more glow and combined with powder highlighter for an intense almost wet-looking shine that would lasts through a hurricane.

I was so happy when my order arrived because of these three brushes. The shortest on the left is the Beautifully Bare Blending Brush, an exact dupe for a brush that sells for about $40 CAD at Sephora, and I am thrilled it only cost me $6 USD. Same price for the Studio Ultimate Blending Brush pictured here in the middle, a wonderful dupe of some of the best high-end foundation blending brushes out there, with its soft-focus effect from the rounded bristles. On the right is the Studio Contouring Brush, which also rang in at $6 USD, instead of many times that as I've seen from other vendors. The short dense bristles are designed to make sculpting out your cheekbones and facial structure almost foolproof, with synthetic bristles that are ideally-suited for precise, smooth application of both powders and creams. For the price, all three of these brushes are exceptional bargains, and I recommend everyone to give them a try.
In addition to the lowest-priced makeup around, e.l.f. routinely offers great seasonal promos, like the fall kit pictured above that was only $6 more when added to my shopping cart before purchase. It provided me with a nice sampling of this line's colour cosmetics in seasonally appropriate shades. I'm really impressed with both the Mineral Eyeliner in Coffee, a self-sharpening automatic eyeliner pen that glides on and has great staying power with minimal smearing and no irritation in the eye area. The automatic lip pencil is now my current favourite lipliner for fall, I just love how easy it is to apply and the lipbrush included on the opposite end make lipstick and gloss application perfect every time. I passed on the Mineral Lipstick to my mum since the shade looked much lighter on me than I expected, and showed up as brick red on me instead of the deep cranberry tone I was going for. It looks as intended on my much fairer-skinned mother, to whom I gifted this lippie and she says she likes it since it lasts longer than some of the products I've given her recently. I liked that it was unflavoured and unscented and is moisturizing and comfortable to wear. With the fall weather wreaking havok on parched lips, it's a welcome change.

Mid-September I received my next ipsy bag, full of autumnal beauty treats picked just for me! I have to admit that I've been feeling some schadenfreude when I read some people's negative ipsy reviews. I have loved every product I've received from ipsy, and I've found them to be of better quality than anticipated. The NYX eyeshadow trio will definitely be regifted since they lacked a bit in the intense colour payoff department, and they're all shades I have several times over. The Formula X Nail Color in Ignite is absolutely gorgeous, such a deep, dark burgundy red that in some lights seem shaded more by black and in other lights looks like a much brighter red, in a formula that didn't chip at all for more than 4 days, by which time I removed it. There was also a Revitalizing Hand/Body Lotion by skincare brand Not Soap, Radio.
The Korean brand Laneige is represented by their Water Sleeping Mask, which I'm saving for the colder weather when my skin can become so dry that it sometimes hurts.

But the most outstanding product in the September Glam Bag is this sensational City Color City Chic lipstick in the shade Je T'aime, that feels like as smooth and meltingly creamy as butter when you apply it to the lips. I don't know that I've ever tried a richer, more emollient lipstick. After hearing about this line for ages, it was my delight to have the chance to try it at last. Unfortunately the colour looked too coral on my darker-toned lips, so I passed it on to my dear mum who is now enjoying it very much as her perfect everyday red lippie. I bet this will be the one she finishes first based on how often I see it on her, which makes me deliriously happy!
At long last, I will share the brown girls' beauty secret to bright, perfect eye makeup application: yellow setting powder. Almost everyone by now has picked up some Ben Nye Banana powder, and it's lovely and effective, but a bit powdery and messy for my liking. It's good to use loose yellow powder if you're 'baking' your face makeup, but I've found the results to be a bit thick (albeit flawless) for my liking when I'm going for a natural or no-makeup look. That's why these pressed yellow setting powders are the best option in my opinion. They're also infinitely better to travel with and even easier to store at home.
Sephora's Bright Set Pressed Finishing Powder is a vivid, lemony-yellow pressed setting powder, very effective for fair-medium upto dark olive skin to tone down purple/blue under-eye circles and hyperpigmentation, and a great addition to your contour routine. Darker skin, keep reading.

If that Sephora yellow powder can be described as good, then Sacha's Buttercup Compact Powder is stellar, and absolutely deserves the growing cult following it has. I opted for convenience of portability when choosing the pressed powder format, and many of the reviews I read when researching my order stated that the compact formula was every bit as good as the loose.
Well here it is my friends, the last and only setting powder I may ever need. You can see it is slightly warmer than the Sephora version, which meant less chalkiness on my olive skin. I've seen numerous beauty tutorials where very dark-skinned women use Sacha's Buttercup powder to create their own absolutely flawless makeup looks. The line was created specifically to look good on a wide spectrum of skin tones, especially women of colour. It is almost shocking to find an entire line where all the shades will to show true against my complexion (a rarity to be sure).
Sacha Cosmetics are priced higher than drugstore brands, but it is reflected in the quality of the packaging and quantity of products they deliver. Once again, I decided to order after I found a coupon code over at brilliant Jackie Aina's beauty vlog for a discount, plus the site featured a free long-lasting lipstick with any purchase of Buttercup Powder, so I went ahead. I received the Intense Matte Lipstick in the shade Leading Lady, and although the long-lasting formula takes a bit of getting used to, I've really grown to love it in the last few weeks. This one is a beautiful peachy-pink-nude on me, and I even like the faintly fruity scent it has. One of the tricks for perfect long-lasting lipstick application is that you have to apply it and then sit there with your smiling mouth wide open until the formula sets on your lips, looking like a complete goofball. If you skip this step, the formulas tend to cake and pile up on the inner lipline and look gross. Of course, exfoliating and moisturizing your lips before applying long-wearing lip products is critical, for these formulas can emphasize dry, flaky patches. (Any lip exfoliator will do to address this, and if you don't have one, make your own for next-to-nothing by mixing a teaspoon of sugar with just enough olive oil to turn it into a paste and voilà!)
Careful lip lining is another important step to perfecting your wear of long-lasting lipsticks. Since these formulas can be unforgiving, laying down a solid border of your favourite long-wearing lipliner before applying the lipstick will make a huge difference in how flawless your final result will be.
I was also impressed by their customer service, for I when I phoned the company regarding my order and with a couple of questions, I was treated courteously and with respect, even though the person on the phone had no idea I'm a beauty blogger. I'm really looking forward to exploring what else this brand has to offer, and will most certainly be putting in another order with Sacha Cosmetics in the near future.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Gifts with Purchase + Sample Kits = maximum bang for your beauty buck

When I read online that Shoppers Drug Mart was offering a deluxe 5-piece bonus with purchase, I was so glad when the cost of the product I wanted to buy would qualify for the bonus all on its own. Thus I am now the happy owner of a full-sized jar of this delicious-smelling Biotherm Biosource Balm-to-Oil Cleanser. What's even better is that it came along with 5 little friends and a lovely, large travel makeup bag. But first, a few words on this balm, which I am loving. It goes on thick like cold butter but instantly melts into an oil on the skin, and then rinses away with water, leaving skin fresh and hydrated.

This shape-shifting balm smells so good that I hardly need an excuse to smear it all over my face. I'm usually hypersensitive to scented products, even all-natural ones, but this one has not made me react badly in the least. None of the Biotherm products I've tested in the last few weeks have resulted in any irritation, so far so good.

This is likely one of the best gifts with purchase I've seen in years, and not only is the value of the bonus far greater than what it cost, but all five (!) products are absolute winners, there's not a weak link among them.
These two deluxe samples are from the Blue Therapy line. I'm enjoying both the day and night moisturizing creams, which again are lightly scented (albeit naturally, which is likely why I haven't reacted to them). The night cream in particular is so thick and rich, I feel like it makes my skin feel like moisturize is locked-in for more than a day, it's so intense and long-lasting.

Next is a small bottle of Life Plankton Essence, one of Biotherm's newer toners. It's less drying than many toners which makes this a nice product to use to hydrate before moisturizing. Finally, the bonus contained a tube of Biosource's Daily Exfoliating Cleansing Melting Gel, along with my favourite, Biocils eye makeup remover, which is handily one of the best at removing stubborn eye makeup without causing irritation. I'm also very happy with the bright, large perforated faux-leather travel toiletries bag that the products were in. Shoppers Drug Mart offer has this on offer over the Labour Day weekend, and will certainly have many more gifts with purchase in the lead-up to the winter holidays.

Shop around online for coupon and promo codes before you purchase and you're likely to get much more than you paid for. Such is the case at Shu Uemura, which has been one of my favourite beauty splurge brands for decades. It makes me feel extra-posh to use one of his exquisite products, and my pick for this order did not disappoint. The Creamy Eye Shadow Definer in Medium Brown 871 is a sultry, sparkly cream eye base, exactly the thing to keep dark, dramatic eye shadow in place while adding depth, or worn alone as a universally flattering shade that won't crease or budge for hours.
I made the decision to buy this product in refill format, so I could add it to my favourite DIY palette with a little square of magnet stuck to the back, which is working like a charm. But of course, the best part of this order was the gift with purchase, which included 4 mini-samples of this line's most-beloved product, their facial cleansing oil - another one of my beauty staples for more than twenty years now (!) together with a really cute little leather-look clutch. This suits me in every way since I get to try many more products than I would ever buy at full size, and when I do find one I like, I'll often immediately put the deluxe sample aside and buy the full-sized package, so that the mini version can go into my travel toiletries bag. I find if I pre-load certain really effective/holy grail items into my travel bag ahead of time, I'm less likely to forget those products when embroiled in the throes of packing.

Now who on Earth thought I would be able to resist this "Most Loved" sample kit by Too Faced? Whenever I see deluxe kits with a nice, wide sampling from a line's product range, I look forward to giving them a try to help make up my mind about that brand. I've loved Too Faced ever since they were an obscure indie brand with cute eye graphics on their black packaging decades ago. Even then, their shadows were unique and so richly pigmented they blew my mind. Company founders Jerrod Blandino and Jeremy Johnson have remained faithful to their original vision to provide beautiful, unique yet playful cosmetics that have only gotten better over the years. Too Faced has become one of the best-loved lines for fashion-forward women and girls who love to collect makeup thanks to their continual focus on novelty packaging and new formulations. Every product in this kit is an instant favourite, especially the Melted Liquified Long Wearing Lipstick in Melted Fig, and the Deluxe Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer in Medium/Deep (which I de-packaged and added to my favourite DIY palette for regular use).  The two primers are massive fan favourites, including Shadow Insurance Anti-Crease Eye Shadow Primer and Hangover Replenishing Face Primer, which are quickly pulling into the lead as my favourite primers in each category - no wonder so many beauty gurus rave about them both. Finally, this Better Than Sex mascara; it is stunning. If I didn't have such a fetish for tube lashes, this mascara would easily be in my top 3, since it provides tons of volume plus dramatic lengthening, in a thick consistency with a nice big wand. But the real mascara tests for me includes how badly it smudges under my eyes in the heat/moisture and how easily it fully removes without residue. I'll need a few more weeks to decide if I'll buy the mascara based on those criteria, but even if I don't, I absolutely love having it to both try and travel with.  I am very pleased with this purchase and am looking forward to the upcoming holiday season when many brands will offer similar samples, gifts and value sets to compete for our seasonal beauty spending.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Sally Beauty, Forever Puffs and more

After many moons, I visited a Sally Beauty Supply location and to my delight, there were so many things I was interested in that I felt like a kid in a candy store. Aside from the items I knew I wanted from the get-go, the expanded selection of products since my last visit made it a delight to peruse the store on a free evening. I purchased the Face Secrets Deluxe Powder Synthetic Brush pictured here; after feeling the tester I couldn't pass on this astonishingly luxurious face brush that has become my everyday setting powder brush, it's so large and poofy, I just adore it.

TA-DAAA!!! Here is THE ANSWER for applying glitters, shimmers and sparkle effectively.
It's a Face Secrets Silicone Eye Shadow applicator, that combines precision with comfort, so it feels similar to using your fingertips, minus all the mess and fallout. As soon as I tried it I realized I had THE perfect makeup tool in my hands, for this is also ideal to apply cream eyecolours since they're soft but still firm enough for detailed accuracy, plus they're hygienic and inexpensive! (I'm so won over by these that I've taken one apart and am looking for an empty small-opening ferrule to install one of the silicone ends into.) If you struggle with glitter mess and precise colour placement, you need to give these little magical wands a try.

I mean, just LOOK at them, look at these colours.
Real Colors had an alluring display with a wide range of shades to tempt shoppers, and I picked up this shimmery, acid-bright Aventure palette in Bal Harbour, partly because I do not own these particular shades and am excited about all but the little emerald square (which may end up being a fav, who knows?!), and so I could give this affordable brand a decent assessment. These shadows are indeed intense and brightly saturated with colour but they're also silky and blendable. The metallic sheen matches the circus colours and makes them easier to apply and wear. The compact is clunky and awkward, but at such a great price, I'll enjoy using these even if I can't figure out how to de-pan them from the packaging.

Finally from Sally, the makeup artists' trick to flawless makeup application: hook one of these Face Secrets Face Powder Touch-Up Puffs around your baby finger of the hand you use to apply eyeliner, so that you simulaneously help blend out your face contouring/foundation while avoiding smearing eye makeup around on messy fingers. This is especially effective when applying makeup to achieve HD-closeup perfection quality. Of course, these can be used as labelled, to apply loose powders to the face, most commonly setting powders, be they yellow, flesh-toned or translucent, these puffs will lay it on thick, which is exactly what you want for techniques like 'baking' where large face powder brushes don't work as well. I definitely feel this does a better job at applying 'baking' setting powder than a BeautyBlender either dry or damp, because.... just, euw. These little puffs go right in the washer/dryer to keep them fresh and clean so for a few bucks, I like to keep a couple of these handy whenever I'm applying makeup.

Way back a zillion years ago, my darling friend Nics gifted me a set of these gorgeous Forever Puffs. I was enjoying spending some of my time working as a freelance makeup artist, repeatedly called on for wedding and public event makeup application in addition to dabbling in makeup for photo stills and consulting on beauty product development. I was clearly overwhelmed with products and busyness at the time, for I didn 't realize what a brilliantly simple and perfect beauty tool I had on my hands. Remember, this was more than a decade before anyone had ever heard of a BeautyBlender. Made in Canada, it's a machine-washable, soft, durable applicator best used for powders or creams, to achieve an evenly perfected complexion. The texture of the fleece is ideal to lay down and smooth out product while simultaneously redistributing and absorbing any excess so you waste less while achieving a natural flawless face. Available here.

My current favourite blush is not just a blush, it's a lifestyle. If you could see how this silky, shimmery smooth product just glides onto the skin, you would understand. Milani's Baked Blush in 03 Berry Amore is all things to every cheek. For an olive-brown girl like me, this shade of plum blush is absolutely essential for everyday wear as it brings the most realistic healthy flush to the skin, which it needs more and more now as dark days loom. It is also ideal to balance out deep, vampy looks. Next, this beauty is shot through with warm gold highlights, absolutely gorgeous when they catch a bit of light, and finely milled so it gives skin a glow instead of looking glittery. And finally, the deep bronze shade baked into it makes this a subtle contour as well. There are many days when I have neither the time, nor the inclination, to don a full face of contouring before leaving the house. It's just too many steps and I like to sleep very, very much. I was not expecting this to be my can't-live-without face product, that with just a few swirls with my softest fluffy brush, I've got my perfect blush, bronzer and highlighting done without even thinking. Milani is available in Western Canada at the Real Canadian Superstore.

And lastly, let's just take a minute to appreciate what a coup the GlamGlow franchise orchestrated to dominate their skincare niche of cleansers and masques. While I find most of their non-hydrating products to be a bit too drying or rough on my skin, this ThirstyCleanse is likely my favourite of the bunch. Used with my gently effective konjac face cleansing sponge, every trace of makeup, dirt and impurities gets wiped away and then... my face is not left feeling tight and parched! This is such a novel concept for me that I'm thrilled each time I use this product. Ok yes fine, you're paying a pretty penny for snazzy containers of mud, but each of the products I've tried from this line left my skin feeling incredibly smooth and clean, so I do not discount the effectiveness of the ingredients they've chosen in their formulas. GlamGlow has an obsessive following for good reason, and these travel-sized versions allow you to test-run a few different types before committing to the expensive full-sized products. You'll find it in the dangerous checkout lineup area at Sephora where all the irresistible little add-ons lie in waiting to nudge you closer to VIB Rouge status...

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Reviews galore! N.Y.C., E.L.F., WnW, Quo, Bioderma & BH Cosmetics

Recently at my local Real Canadian Superstore, I stopped for a moment to linger at the NYC Cosmetics display. Sure enough, a few items jumped out and I decided to give this line another try.
I picked up this beautiful palette that has everything I wanted for fall, the IndividualEyes eyeshadow compact in Union Square.
A common complaint about eyeshadow palettes no matter the price point, is that too often, they lack the matte transitional shades (slightly darker than your natural skintone) that one needs to achieve a complete look. Well this affordable little palette contains four shadows, a nude primer plus a white cream highlighter; there isn't a single element that I would switch. See that third shade, the matte brown latte shade? It is my ideal crease colour, and now gets used often, no matter what else I'm applying. The light vanilla shade below it is a natural and effective highlight shade for browbones, in the center of the lid to brighten the eyes and add dimension, and in the inner eye's tear duct area to make everything pop. The shimmery copper just above it is a must-have fall staple and looks stunning on fair-skinned beauties who want to rock a smoky eye that isn't scary-dark. The burgundy shade at the top was what I was after when I was dreaming of lush autumnal colours. It is well-pigmented and vivid, properties I specifically look for in dark-toned eyeshadows, in deep burgundy satin. I've experienced minimal creasing with these shadows but I haven't yet tried it without my favourite lid primer (not the one in the palette, but the I <3 Stage Eyeshadow Base by Essence).

The problem with being darker-skinned in a beauty marketplace that caters mostly to those much lighter is that many (most) nudes are not so for us. The lighter nudes tend to look very chalky and darker ones usually look pink or coral-orange against my skin. I spotted this NYC In a Minute Nail Polish in Brown Stone and picked it up along with the Matte Me Crazy Mattifying Top Coat, which looked white and pasty around my cuticles when worn over the whole nail, so I guess I'll have to practice a bit more with this one. However, at $1.99 each, I'll find another way to use it for nail art or something, so I'm not upset I got it.
Brown Stone however? Look for yourself. It shows up as a true neutral/cool grey-brown, a shade I was craving this fall for my nails (and lips). When you have olive skin, many neutrals are too light as mentioned above, but they often show up with an orange or pink hue that isn't what I was going for. The colour selection was enormous, but the thing about this polish is that it lasts and lasts! For the price, I did not expect to go five days (as pictured here) before it started to look a bit less immaculate, but still had no major chipping! I will definitely look to NYC's nail polishes, which I like almost as much as Essence Cosmetics' nail polishes that is currently my favourite affordable brand,

Finally from this brand, I picked up NYC's Show Time Volumizing Waterproof Mascara in Black. I prefer tubing mascaras to any other, as I find they are the only kind that do not smudge, flake or smear, especially under my eyes. I have not yet found a drugstore mascara can replace my Blinc, Geisha or Fairy Drops mascaras. This version had a small-medium brush, applied without clumps, maintained lash separation, and I noted that it preserved the curl of my lashes very well, even after three coats. It has decent staying power and wasn't a pain to remove, but for my tiny Asian lashes, I want something that's more 'industrial-strength' volumizing and lengthening. If you already have long lashes and want an affordable waterproof mascara to darken and set your lashes, this may be a good affordable option for you.

Now to a pricier brand that made its name with the world's favourite micellar cleansing water, Bioderma. It seems that for my whole adult life, I've been looking for a face sunscreen that I love. I have SO MANY criteria that matter to me it's almost impossible that anything will ever fully satisfy everything I want. My sunscreen demands include: non-chemical/natural mineral protectants, paraben/sulfate/fragrance/irritant-free, moisturizing but non-greasy, SPF 50 or higher, non-chalky, lightweight enough to be worn under makeup comfortably, and I could go on nitpicking from there. Bioderma's Photoderm Cream SPF60 sunscreen is working nicely so far. My biggest problem in fitting this step into my routines, be they quick or more painstaking, is that I struggle to consistently remember to use it. I know that face products with SPF built-in do not provide adequate protection, so I will keep trying to change my habits for the better. Designed for sensitive skin, it is much less irritating than so many sunscreens I've put on my face, and after about 20 minutes, I felt like it had dried down and absorbed enough so that wearing makeup was not only viable but it acted like a primer - most high-protection sunscreens I've used cause makeup to slide around resulting in a patchy mess. Rated SPF 60/UVA 42, it is scentless, paraben-free, waterproof, photostable and won't clog pores and so far, hasn't burned my eyes, which is my #1 problem with face sunscreens. Fingers crossed it keeps performing, and we may just have a winner!
The Refreshing after-sun milk for body is a gentle moisturizer intended to soothe and cool hot, dry skin while adding back hydration. I didn't mind the light, fresh scent, and although my always-dry skin generally favours the thickest, richest emmolients it can get, I like how this milky lotion glides onto the skin. It makes sense as a summer moisture layering base, but once again, it's hard to fit a new product into my routines so I struggle to remember to apply this after I bathe or shower. It's in a generous 200mL tube and is available at Shoppers Drug Mart and Rexall's in Canada.

Next we have three items from e.l.f. Cosmetics, starting with this High Definition Undereye Setting Powder. Although the lipbalm pot-sized jar is smaller than I expected, there is still plenty of product for the price. It is definitely an impressive setting powder; ultra-finely milled, it is brightening and crease-resistant. Even though it looks quite light in the container, it disappears on my skin when applied. The diminutive packaging would be improved by some kind of sifter or stopper top to prevent messy poofs of powder when I open the jar (and one clumsy drop will result in a 100% loss of product contents) and would make it a perfect item to take when traveling. At $4.99 CAD, it is well worth the price.
While I wait and wait to hopefully one day get my hands on e.l.f.'s Small Tapered Studio Brush, I decided to give this simple Studio Blush Brush a try to placate me in the meantime. I am delighted to say that I ended up with a dream of a beauty tool! I wanted that other brush specifically to apply setting powder (usually yellow) under my eyes. As it turns out, THIS is the brush I should have been shopping for all along. It is perfectly ideal with luxuriously soft bristles that don't shed, with a rounded head which is perfect for picking up and buffing in face powder, in a size that is better suited for the task than the original brush I sought.
Although originally labelled a blush brush, this one is just too perfect for setting your face powder, especially in targeting spots as when contouring.
The third item I bought is the Studio Powder Brush, a flat-topped synthetic face brush. This brush is really well-suited for a final overall layer of translucent setting powder all over the skin, as the bristles and shape make buffing and blending effortless. With a sturdy handle and well-constructed ferrule, it is hard to believe that this brush too will only set you back about $4.99 CAD.
The e.l.f. line is available in-store in Western Canada at London Drugs, Real Canadian Superstore and Walmart and online.
I could hardly do a faves post without including my current favourite brush from Quo, Shoppers Drug Mart's consistently excellent in-house brand. I've been a fan of their makeup brushes for many years, and I recently found this Quo Multipurpose Brush, an dense, angled synthetic kabuki-style brush with a comfortable, sturdy feel. I've been alternating between using it to apply (Quo's amaaazing!) CC cream and LeiLani's tinted moisturizer, and it results in an impeccable application of colour. The packed-in bristles do not absorb product unnecessarily but leave it on your skin instead. Although it cost a bit more than some drugstore brushes at around $22.00 CAD, the consistent high-quality of Quo's products as well as the variety of specialized brushes they offer make it totally worth the money.

I put in another order with BH Cosmetics - I was so happy with my first order that I decided to do it again! This time I wanted to try some of their brushes so I picked up their Brush 8 - Round Stippling Brush for face, pictured here. The bristles are stiffer than any of my other stippling brushes, and denser too. Neither of these are drawbacks however, since this brush is ideal to apply any face products that are thicker and require good blending, like cream foundations, concealers, blushes and contour/highlighters. At $4.50 USD, this brush is real a steal.

I added Brush 22 - All Over Brush and Brush 11 - Highlighter Brush to my order, with mixed results. I like the 22 brush much to set and blend my under-eye powder since it is just the right size to do so with just a couple quick swipes. The 11 brush however, is not my favourite. It left me wanting by not being as soft as I imagined, nor as tapered, so instead of being a brush that I reach for to highlight, it just seems like a big ol' crease blending brush on steroids. Both of these natural bristle brushes were only $3.50 USD each, and neither has shed any hairs, so I'll find a way to love them both.

The final brush I got was their Brush 16 - Deluxe Fan Brush. Sometimes, when something is really so difficult, I have to stop and ask myself if the struggle is really worth it. That is how it is for fan brushes and me. This one is too small, and that one is too large; one is too stiff, the other too flimsy; too sparse, too dense... arrrgh! Well, add another to the collection of "Fan Brushes that Got No Love". This one is massive and floofy and too hairy and it sheds. It would be effective to bronze/highlight all over the face or body, but since I wanted something that would pinpoint and target areas of dazzling fleekishness, my search will continue.

Speaking of the f-word, also from BH is this perfect little 3-in-1 eyebrow kit appropriately named the Flawless Brow Trio in Dark. For me it is the quickest, most fail-proof option for any complete brow look. The consistency of the tinted wax on the left is ideal to colour in sparse brows and then set them in place for the day, and I seem to favour it to pencils. I think pencils deposit too much product on the brow hairs whereas this wax, applied with a stiff angled brush allow you to wiggle the wax into the base of the hairs instead, which is neater and feels less heavy. The complementary brow powders can be used alone, which I've been doing almost every day since I received it, or with the wax, for dramatic, long-wearing eyebrow fleekness. Changing the combination and placement of these three products results in many different brow looks. Wax over powder makes the darkest, boldest brow, best suited to pair with evening or glam looks where that intensity won't look overdone. Powder over wax can be used for a more natural effect, especially if you place the lighter shade in the center and inner edge of the brows with the darker powder filling out the rest, adding depth and realism. I can't believe this palette was only $4.00 USD and it is now a staple product in my beauty routine.

I spotted the Wet n Wild Color Icon Eyeshadow Palette in Comfort Zone when I was grocery shopping at my neighbourhood Real Canadian Superstore and I had to grab it. It has been about a decade since I last ventured into WnW eye makeup, but tales of the legendary dupe in the bottom right corner and the ridiculously low price made this a no-brainer. Named "Definer" in the pan, it's a true duochrome shadow, with a chocolatey-taupe base and a metallic teal-reflecting overlay and it is gorgeous. It's a great substitute for pricier versions from MAC or ColourPop, but what makes this even better is that there are seven other shadow shades along with it, all surprisingly well-pigmented and totally wearable. If only there was a matte transition shade and a matte black shadow to use as eyeliner, you would have all you need to achieve endless eye looks for just a few bucks.