Thursday, August 13, 2015

some of my favourite products - Sept 2015

Today's post is full of beauty products, skincare and tools that I've been enjoying enough to share with you, dear reader. I attempted to arrange them in order of usage in one's daily regimen, as well as by brand.

Let's start with this La Vigne Lip Therapy. I have never used anything better as a lip primer in my life. I wouldn't call it a balm since it is creamy-white like a face cream, and soaks into lips almost instantly, but leaves them feeling silky and smooth. Whatever the hell this tepezcohuite is that they claim is their 'ancient ingredient', it's AMAZING. This unscented, thick nourishing lip therapy cream puts all my other lip treatments to shame.
I picked this up at a local organic store that has a decent natural beauty section (Pomme, if you're in the Tri-Cities) for less than $10 CAD, and will certainly repurchase. I'm so impressed with this product that I'm now curious about La Vigne's other products.

  Two more sweet brushes from vegan beauty implement specialists EcoTools. On the left, their Stippling Brush, and on the right, the Sheer Finish Kabuki Brush, both available pretty widely here in BC at places like Save-On Foods/Price Smart Foods, London Drugs and more for real cheap! I prefer synthetic fiber brushes if I intend to use them with creams and liquids, as I feel in the long run they are more sanitary and can handle frequent cleansing with less bristle deterioration.

The Stippling brush is my go-to contouring/bronzing brush. It is quite a dense brush, mid-sized with a rounded head. It evenly deposits product while buffing it in simultaneously, and it is one of my new favourite everyday tools. This brush took no getting used to and delivers perfect results without fail.
The Kabuki brush surprised me, since it looks like something my dad used in the 70s to make foam to shave his face, but is in fact a large synthetic stippling brush on a comfy, short handle that stands on its own! While not as dense as my favourite foundation brushes, this brush is great for blending and buffing the entire face with translucent or complexion-toned powders or liquids when you want a light, even application. The bristles are flexible and kind to skin, while the man-made fibers are good as new with a care & cleaning.

Last in brushes is my highlighting taskmistress, e.l.f.'s Small Stipple Brush, that I picked up for just a few dollars at the (ironically named) Real Canadian Superstore. This brush is a bit firmer than most of my complexion brushes, making it the perfect tool to apply highlighters, in powder, liquid or cream form. The dual-layer bristles are synthetic and I've seen no shedding despite numerous washings, which is amazing for a three-dollar makeup brush!

So what exactly am I using these fine brushes to apply you ask? Here are some of the face products and cosmetics I'm very much into right now:

So. Quo. This is line is exclusive to Canadian pharmacy chain Shoppers Drug Mart, where they have been quietly developing an in-house brand of cosmetics and skincare that I have been loving for more than a decade. Since I accidentally purchased my first eyeshadow brush by this line and was blown away by the quality (this at a time when I was being a real high-end makeup snob), I've been impressed more often than not, by the products they propose. Case in point, this QUO CC Cream SPF 20. I must have swatched and tested more than a dozen other CC creams in the lead-up to buying this one, and every one of them either looked chalky, made me break out, or smelled so strong I couldn't handle it. My summer-dark skin tone is hard to match, plus I have dark discolourations under my eyes and around my mouth. I'm also rarely been willing to add the extra steps of colour correcting into my daily beauty regimen.

Well this magical cream starts out pale lavender with micro-shimmer, and as I work it into my skin it transforms, disappearing into an even, glowingly warm skintone on my face. I was stunned the first time I saw the results, and even better than how it looks is how it feels. As someone with perpetually dry skin, I completely love how this hydrates like a rich face balm, includes SPF20 and doesn't irritate my skin at all. The lavender tone has a subtle brightening effect, and my skin does indeed get that poreless, airbrushed look. This CC cream gives me a dewy finish but isn't glittery, and lasted well on my skin during the busiest hot summer days. I now like this product better than my previous favourite, Stila's Stay All Day 10-in-1 HD Beauty Balm, which started to look a bit chalky and too light on my face thanks to the many extra sunny days we've enjoyed so far this year (thanks global warming!).

This summer has been all about a dewy face for me even before I heard about strobing. My favourite liquid foundation so far this year is L'Oréal's True Match Lumi, in shade W6. This is definitely not a matte finish. Instead, it gives skin a sheer, non-sparkly glow that is fresh and easy to wear and provides medium coverage. The best thing about this foundation is how weightless on the skin and non-transferring it is. It's virtually intact at the end of a busy 10-hour midsummer working day, and hasn't made me break out or react at all in several weeks' testing.
I don't know that this formula would suit oily complexions as well as it suits my very dry skin. With or without primer, this foundation stays intact until I take it off with a cleanser. I'm not surprised that this drugstore product rivals high-end foundations since it's produced by the same parent company that owns Lancôme, YSL, Giorgio Armani, Shu Uemura, Urban Decay, etc. all known for their innovative, industry-leading (and high-priced) face products.

I've also been thinking about how long SPF lasts until one needs to reapply to achieve an accurate SPF20. I read an article recently that warned of infrequent reapplication leading to inadvertent sunburns, and would like to avoid sun damage to my skin as much as possible, so I mostly try to avoid midday sun in the first place, and wear sunscreen daily like my life depends on it. 

Above are two more drugstore complexion products I've been trying out this summer. On the left is everyone's 'Holy Grail' under-eye product, Maybelline's Instant Age Rewind Concealer in Medium, a silky-smooth light and blendable, brightening creamy concealer product, that dispenses by twist-clicking to dispense through a spongy round applicator. I can definitely see why women are enamored of this thing, it's easy to apply (although personally I don't care for the applicator), is delightful to blend and doesn't crease right away. Despite liking the texture, the darkest shade of Medium is still to light for me and made my under-eye circles look ashy and obvious, and accumulated in area of dry skin around my eyes and made them stand out from across the room. Lessons learned: moisturize before use, & stop thinking I can wear anything that's called 'Medium'. I was able to make it work with lots of other supporting products and careful blending, so I think until my face gets lighter with the onset of winter's dark days, this concealer will have to wait.
I'm faring better with Revlon's PhotoReady Concealer in Medium Deep, the lipstick-shaped concealer in the black tube pictured above-right which I picked up at the drugstore for around $8.99 CAD. The colour is a decent match for me at the moment and does a satisfactory job of concealing and brightening discoloured areas, with mid to high coverage and decent blendability before it sets. However, it can look a bit thick when I set it with any kind of powder which emphasizes fine lines around the eyes, and it creased in my lower lashline area. Lessons learned: I still need dark peach/light orange to correct under my face products or things get ashy, & the best way to keep my eye makeup neat is to apply eyeshadow base on my lids including the inner and lower lashlines, prior to applying concealer. That way, eye makeup will stay in place and face products can do what they're supposed to.

One of the eye primers I like right now is half of this fantastic two-in-one from e.l.f., the Eye Primer and Liner Sealer, which has a twist-up lipstick-style nude eyelid primer on one end with a clear sealant to make any eyeliner waterproof on the other. If you are still wearing eyeshadow without primer underneath... just stop for a minute, and go get any eye primer at all. Foundation and concealer cause eye makeup to crease and smear even more. This nude primer works well when and is a perfect addition to any purse or travel makeup kit as a tidy little multitasker. For about five Canadian dollars, grab one of these gems if you can find one (many of the e.l.f. displays I've seen are quite picked over...)! 

When I want to make sure my eye makeup will stay put and I want the colours to pop, I use this creamy matte NYX Eyes Shadow Base in White. This product makes eyeshadow colours look as intended on my lids despite my skin's undertones. Eye primers prevent shadow fallout, stop makeup from creasing, smudging or fading, prevent raccoon eyes and allow very precise makeup applications to last for hours. For $9.99 CAD at London Drugs, Save-On and PriceSmart Foods, this pot of primer is a deal and a half.

Do you know about Essence Cosmetics? Because if you haven't tried this German line yet, you should run, not walk, to Shoppers Drug Mart and hope there's something left for you. Sorry to be so vehement, but once you give this line a try, you will be hooked like me. Above is a sampling of the best of their products that I've worn this summer, including a very nice eyelid makeup primer, gel eyeliner pencils, a bevy of metallic shadows, lipliners, and lipsticks. Their lipsticks are so good that I bought my mum two and she loves them both and wears them daily, favouring their comfortable, hydrating formula to her higher-end lipsticks; Essence Long Lasting Lipsticks are buttery, incredibly flattering and last for hours. I've also become a huge fan of their nail polishes; the Gel Nail Polish is my favourite formula and comes with a flat, rounded applicator brush that makes impeccable nails even easier to achieve. They come in ever-changing colours and finishes, and at $1.99 CAD, they are the best nail polish deal to be had as far as I'm concerned. I'm sooo jellie of the girls overseas who have access to the Essence pop-up stores and ubiquitous jam-packed product displays that carry rare items full of awesomeness that we do not see here in Canada, notably the limited edition and seasonal items, which only makes me crave them more...

Now I know why everyone's been going on about Milani Cosmetics for some time; I admit I'm late getting to the party. Here you see their Baked Powder Blush in Bella Rosa next to Bella Eyes Gel Powder Shadow/Highlighter in Bella Chiffon. Everything that beauty buffs say about these products is true: they are so highly pigmented and easy to blend that I now actually like this blush better than my Cargo, Shu Uemura or Kevyn Aucoin blushes, all of which cost many times the Milani, (around $10 CAD at Real Canadian Superstore). It is stays vibrant all day but is not shimmery so it just gives me that bright rosy cheek tone I like when my skin is dark in the summer.

The pot of gold you see here is Bella Eyes Gel Powder Shadow/Highlighter in Bella Chiffon, a sparkly golden eyeshadow that's been my favourite highlighting product for weeks now. I use it liberally on the tops of my cheeks, eye highlight areas (tearduct, mid-lid, under brow mid-arch), forehead, down the centreline of my nose, cupid's bow and chin. For about five bucks, this versatile powder is one of the best makeup finds I've stumbled onto this year and I wanted to share it with you!

I guess I went on a bit of a blush binge, and picked up these two by NYX, one powder, one cream. On the left is the Mosaic Powder Blush in Paradise and the Cream Blush in the shade Glow.I wanted to find an everyday cream blush and a powder blush that's glowy without glitter. I find myself reaching for the mosaic powder, in such pretty pink-mauve tones with a subtle highlighter built-in, almost daily. The colour it imparts is sheer enough to blend but doesn't appear chalky or powdery. I need to play with the cream blush a bit more before deciding what I think of it.

For about $20, I basically sorted out my entire fall lip wardrobe with the three products you see here. From left to right, the NXY Chunky Dunk Hydrating Lippie in Pomegranate Margarita that started my appreciation of NYX's lip products; the company's runaway hit product, their Butter Gloss in Praline; and one of the beauty blogosphere's current favourite products, the Soft Matte Lip Cream in Copenhagen. I don't know where this tinted lip balm crayon has been my whole life but I love it and now want them in every colour.
There's nothing I can say about the butter gloss that hasn't already been said before on YouTube about ten thousand times. For $7.99 CAD, just pick any colour, you won't regret it. The light texture and colour payoff is now a yardstick by which other glosses are measured.
The matte lip cream I bought is deeply pigmented and demands a serious commitment to careful application to succeed. At least this long-wearing 'permanent' lip colour stays right where you put it all day or night. The dryer formula takes a bit of getting used to, and lips need to be well-exfoliated and moisturized before you wear it, or you may end up with flaking. Be judicious with balm or gloss, over or under, as they will affect the colour's staying power.

A real hit product for NYX is this Dewy Finish setting spray. It sets your makeup for the day and prevents you from looking pasty or powdery. At $9.99 CAD, this is a steal!

When it's time to take all this stuff off, I've gone back to an old favourite, because it is so non-irritating to my eyes, but mostly because it works perfectly. Marcelle's pre-moistened Eye Makeup Remover Pads were $9.99 and non-ittitating, while easily wiping away any traces of makeup. I love how convenient and effective these are for daily use.
Marcelle's Micellar Solution was my first foray into the the world of micelle water cleansers. I really like the dispensing pump top and the cleanser itself is effective and non-irritating to my sensitive skin. However, I find it did not do a stellar job at removing permanent eyeliner and mascara from my eyes on its own. However, in tandem, these two products work very well together, and Marcelle's version of micellar cleanser is a nice way to 'test the waters'. ;)

An interesting facial cleanser I picked up at T&T Supermarket is Dr. Morita's Hyaluronic Acid Facial Scrub. It took me a couple tries to get used to this scented cleanser, but now I love it. This is made to work like the classic French facial 'gommage' exfoliators, that gently pick up dead skin cells by balling them up and they are washed away, leaving glowing clean skin without scratching, pulling or scarring skin the way textured exfoliants do. I've been very hesitant to try hyaluronic anything until now, but this face scrub gently leaves my skin looking renewed and feeling moisturized for hours. I'm surprised since most cleansers strip my skin and require immediate doses of remedial moisturizer. Not so for this one.

My final favourite product to recommend in this post is the Solid Brush Cleanser from Sephora. A round, high-quality cake of argan-enriched conditioning brush cleanser, along with a silicone scouring surface has made the ritual of cleaning my brushes almost as enjoyable as messing them up! Even though hacks and DIY brush cleanser recipes abound, I love the quality of this cleverly presented product so this is now on my 'must-haves' list.

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