Sunday, August 9, 2015

Coastal Scents, more local Korean beauty finds and micellar water


After seeing so many reviews about the quality of Coastal Scents' eyeshadow palettes, I decided to go ahead and see for myself what all the hype is about. I also wanted to bolster my eyeshadow collection with a more complete array of colours available to me when needed. To my delight, my order arrived a week earlier than expected, securely and neatly packaged. Behold Coastal Scents' eyeshadow 120 Palette Two:

I get an adrenaline rush each time I open up this palette, and every colour I try is a delight. The quality of these shadows rivals or bests any of my high-end eye versions. The mattes are heavily pigmented but so finely-milled that they slide on smoothly and are a delight to apply. The satin and metallic shades are gorgeous, with minimal fallout and vivid colour that wears beautifully. Since I received this lil' beauty with endless options all in one slim package, I have been ignoring all my other shadows. 

A quick online search yields scads of beauty bloggers/vloggers reviewing, applying and showing swatches of Coastal Scents' eyeshadows, demonstrating their opacity, texture and colour payoff. Let me tell you that it's true, they are finely milled to the point of feeling creamy and really are a joy to apply and blend. Since I am someone who rarely hits pan on a powder shadow, I don't mind the diminutive size of these shadows (just slightly smaller than the classic MAC shadow pan size). This palette is currently available on their site for $19.95 USD but I lucked out and got mine for 50% off, so it cost me only $9.90 USD! As I'm learning more about their products, I'm shocked at how almost everything they sell is so low-priced! I suggest you keep an eye on their page and try them out when a sale is on.

Say 'hello' to my favourite thing in the world, meet my new Bionic Flat Top Buffer from Coastal Scents, which I ordered for the incomprehensibly low price of $6.95 USD. It's better than any other stipple/foundation/complexion brush that I've used to date. It's super-cushy but dense enough to apply and distribute just the right amount of product for flawlessly application! It's gentle but works great, and doesn't shed. I'm so obsessed with this brush!!

Last, I ordered one pound of Fair Trade Cocoa Butter from Coastal Scents. Crushed and pressed by hand in Ghana, this solid block of pure, faintly chocolate-scented goodness will be the star of my lip balms and other homemade beauty products that I'm going to make in the next few days. At $14.95 for 16 ounces, this is a stunning deal that they are able to offer thanks to their participation in social justice ventures.
From their site: "Coastal Scents, through Project Ghana, is very proud to produce these natural products and share in a special partnership to better the lives of the women and families of Ghana. When you shop our Project Ghana products, you can feel confident that you are contributing to the livelihood and betterment of the Ghanaian village women and their families." So, there's a chance that buying these products can positively impact women in a distant corner of the world, AND they're at the best prices I've ever seen? Did I mention that they included a free samples of two perfect-for-fall blush shades with my package? Yes Coastal Scents, please!

Next up are these three darling 'The Complexion Collection' vegan face brushes from EcoTools that I picked up at London Drugs. The largest one is the Skin Perfecting Brush ($7.99 CAD), the mid-sized one is the Eye Perfecting Brush ($6.99 CAD), and the small one is the Correcting Concealer Brush ($4.99 CAD).
The large one is perfect to apply any face product where you want a little more control and precision in placement, as with blushers and highlighters. It's also ideal to blend out contouring or any lines of demarcation between products on your face. The eye brush is intended to mimic the size and shape of your finger, while being gentler on the skin of your delicate eye area and wasting/smudging less product. The tiny brush is now my favourite tool to tidy up highlighting in my tear duct area. In short, I love all three and recommend any of the brushes from this line.

Since I'm playing with vivid colours, different textures and a myriad of products these days, it is more important to me than ever to always hit the hay with a clean, moisturized face. The thought of a pile of makeupey grime sinking into my face overnight and/or wiping off on my pillowcases is unbearable to me. However, Little Miss Overly-Sensitive-Skin here finds most facial cleansers to be either ineffective or irritating. I mostly wear waterproof mascara (tubing formulas are my absolute favourite) and waterproof eyeliner, so a makeup remover should do its job without making me pull and scrub at my eyes and lashes to remove all traces of dirt and makeup. I want it off fast, with no mess if possible.
Conceived in Paris where women are loath to use the hard
municipal tap water to rinse their face and hair, the idea was to throroughly cleanse the face with no final water rinse needed. Just wipe your skin clean and carry on with your life. 
After trying a few other versions that were somewhat effective, I finally sprang for the famed Bioderma Sensibio Micelle Solution, and it is now abundantly clear to me why this is the hands-down winner. It dissolves makeup and dirt instantly, and with zero skin reaction or dry feeling (most cleansers and toners make my face feel stripped of moisture). I still normally rinse my face before applying moisturizer when I use this, but I think that is force of habit over actual need. Used with Shiseido's Facial Cotton (a truly superior cotton pad) it's the effective but gentle cleanser I've been looking for. I purchased my 250ml bottle when I spotted it at Shoppers Drug Mart for $15.95 CAD, $4 off the regular price of $19.99. The cotton pads are $11.00 CAD and are a cult favourite for a reason; they are so soft they never scratch your skin and are utterly effective.

In regards the cost of Bioderma and Shiseido products being on the higher-end of the spectrum, as much as I like to save money, find a great bargain or dupe, and strive to shop smart, there are times and places where I want to get the best product available, even if it is more expensive. A product I intend to rub all over my face and pretty much into my eyeballs frequently fits the description of a time and place where I am happy to pay for quality. Since I use both of these on an almost daily basis, I'm glad I chose these two items and am rewarded daily when I enjoy using them.

After decades of buying and learning about beauty and skincare, I have certain guidelines that now I use to help me make better decisions. Briefly, they go something like this: if it's wet or creamy, I try to buy drugstore dupes, get it on sale or craft my own, and I tend to save my high-end indulgences for dry products that are less time-sensitive. I don't want to drop big money on items
with limited shelf-life like liquids, creams, gels, oils and formulas that will spoil, separate, or dry up, only to be thrown out, sometimes largely unused, (which crushes my soul). I am only too happy to research and test some of the numerous drugstore dupes that are out there to find my ideal set of products. At least it's less of a drag to give away or throw out something that cost $5 instead of $50.

In my experience, there really isn't one single cosmetics company whose entire product line is perfect for me. Instead, I find that for any makeup item you want, one or another of the drugstore lines carries an indistinguishable affordable version that is likely even manufactured and packaged in exactly the same plant as the high-end original, thanks to the international consolidation of cosmetics empires in recent years. Domination by brands like L'Oréal and Estée Lauder has meant that high-end product innovations become available almost immediately to consumers at all price points, since it's now the same parent company taking your money either way.

Periodically, I get so carried away with my yearning for something specific in a product that I just set my mind to make my own, from my bespoke makeup packaging/depotting palettes to formulating my own skincare and cosmetics. In the process, I've absorbed an abundance of information and experience on ingredients, interactions, preservation/spoilage and usage that I love to share with everyone.

Please don't get me wrong, I absolutely know how delightful it is to take your beauty budget and splurge every now and again, on a luxury item you've been pining over for a while, and many high-end products perform brilliantly. I try to go for items like eyeshadow, blush, bronzer, highlighter or complexion products sold in powder format when I buy high-end cosmetics. Not only are they often housed in exquisite packaging, they also won't oxidize or go rancid the way anything with oil or water content will. Moving forward, I want to spend less on items that don't get frequent use. Beauty blogs and vlogs are a useful resource to find out what others have experienced with any product you are considering, which can save you money, avoid hassle and the ensure the health of your skin for the advice they impart. After my last makeup decluttter/purge, I decided this was a less wasteful, more realistic route to maintain and safely enjoy a makeup collection that brings me great pleasure.

Finally, more delightful asian beauty products can be found at T & T Supermarkets in Canada. Pictured here is the charming little Fresh Cherry Lip and Cheek Tint by the massively popular Korean cosmetics line Etude House. The creamy texture leaves a mild 'red-lollipop' stain on lips, perfect to get that gradient-to-pale lip that giggly Asian girls are loving, but looks good on everyone. It dries down to a transparent satiny-matte finish, great with or without some clear gloss over-top. This is a product I am definitely enjoying, especially in summer when I find fresh, light lip looks are best for everyday.
The shipping costs for these products from online merchants can be exorbitant for international delivery so it's great to have access to these brands since I prefer to see the product before I buy them for the first time. For the sake of beauty product aficionados and  those wanting to try out some hard-to-get Asian cosmetics, I hope T&T expand their Asian beauty offerings soon.

T&T also carries the sought-after My Beauty Diary skincare line, DHC cleansing oil and a wall of Asian face masks (but selection varies among locations). I was briefly struck by option paralysis as I took in the dizzying number of choices before me. I have very dry skin, so I'm a total fan of this Korean skin care craze. Basically, it's a pre-moistened, face-shaped mask with holes for eyes, nose and mouth, that you remove from the package, apply carefully to your face, wait about 20 minutes (I like to throw one on before a long relaxing bath) and remove. I don't rinse my skin at this point, as I want my skin to soak up as much of the hydrating ingredients as possible. I just gently rub in any excess product as if it were serum or moisturizer, and allow my skin to drink it all in. I randomly grabbed a couple to try out by the Korean beauty company The Saem, in the Aloe Vera and Green Tea versions.

I used the Aloe mask on Saturday night after several weeks of hot, sunny weather and it felt incredible. It soothed my sun-exposed face and allowed the moisture and ingredients to deeply penetrate my skin in a way that topical moisturizing does not.

I love that Korea now produces so many desirable products that are sought by makeup mavens around the world. Their almost cloyingly kawaii packaging sometimes belie the great quality of the product therein. Now that you can check these products out closer to home instead of a shot in the dark online for an arm and a leg in shipping, head over to your local T&T for your stash of Asian beauty!

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