Monday, January 18, 2016

January Ipsy GlamBag + recent affordable beauty hits

I'm happier than ever with my latest Ipsy GlamBag, this month's a perfect sampler of products I want (or need) right now. I'll start with the Beau Gâchis Paris Smudge Brush, a small, tapered precision defining brush, ideal to intensify and buff out the eye crease. It's stiff enough to smudge out the lower lash line but beautifully soft and smooth so it can be used for detailed contouring anywhere on the face without streaking. I love this brush.
From The Balm Cosmetics is the newly-released Mr. Write Now in Jac B. Bronze, a deep, antique bronze colour that to my delight showed up much darker than expected. It's shiny and metallic without being glittery, and the formula glides smoothly on my eyelids without tugging the skin. This pencil didn't crease or smudge at all, nor did it irritate my eyes, so here's another hit product from The Balm.
I wanted a pop of bright, unusual colour for my lids, and I got it, in J.Cat's Blinkle Shimmer Eyeshadow in Tangering Light. Ultra-shimmery but smooth without chunky glitter particles, this shadow deposits a surprisingly saturated payoff, this is no sheer wash of colour. What a beautiful and unique addition to my eyeshadows, from a brand I don't normally access.
Might as well finish with eye products, and I was elated to find a deluxe sample from skincare phenom Pur~Lisse, the Blue Lotus 4-in-1 Eye Adore Serum. Everything about it sounds good, so I'm hoping to have positive results after consistent use. This brand is a current darling of the beauty world, now my very dry skin will put it to the test.
Last in my January GlamBag was a sample size of Hanalei's Sugar Lip Scrub, a lip exfoliating scrub that's rich and hydrating, with a texture that I prefer to more crumbly types that fall all over the place. The difference is that cheaper lip scrubs are mainly sugar and oil, so they don't stick to lips as like this does. With a quick scrub and a wipe, your lips are ready to take on the mattest lipcolour without flaky patches or feeling dried out. I highly recommend seeking out a good lip scrub this winter, you'll see an immediate difference.

I am so excited to tell you about this Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum Gel Foundation, in the shade 56 Hâlé Clair which I am thrilled to say is an ideal match for my current skintone (not something I get to say very often!). I struggle to find makeup suited to my Asian dark tan/olive skintone, plus my colouring varies widely from summer to winter. I researched online for what I thought would be my perfect shade, but only by going into the store and swatching did I realize I was wrong. Many reviews also state that this is only a medium-coverage foundation but I find it is quite opaque with only a single layer applied, and a single pump's worth is usually all I need for my whole face. This product has a thicker consistency than liquid foundations but is so light that I forget I'm wearing anything on my face. It blends quickly with minimal effort and has a delicious but light fruity scent that does not linger. It's neither matte nor glowy, but what impressed me the most is how it smoothed over my dry areas without making them more prominent, a frequent issue with complexion products and dry skin. I'm uncertain about the claims that this product also treats and heals skin, but I am happy to say that this makeup did not transfer to my clothing while I wore it, so it really is long-wearing as advertised. I picked it up at Shoppers Drug Mart for $28CAD and it rivals similar high-end products at twice the price.

One of the things I love about winter makeup is for a short time I'm able to use products that are easy-to-get instead of searching out specialty shades for persons of colour as I do in the summertime. No longer on the makeup short bus, I ferreted out Maybelline's touted Fit Me Concealer in the shade 25 Medium, what many consider a dupe for Nars' Creamy Radiant Concealer which is thrice the price. This concealer is amazing. It seems to melt into my skin but doesn't disappear, and most importantly, it doesn't emphasize dryness or wrinkles around my eyes. Once dusted with a setting powder, this product resists smearing and didn't cake up after several hours of wear. I'm also a fan of the doe-foot applicator, it's so much easier to deal with than tubes or pots that require a bit more effort.

This is turning out to be a post full of all-star bargain beauty gems, for here we have Milani's Eyeshadow Primer in 01 Nude. This little tube of goodness is one of the best eyeshadow primers you can get. I did a double-take when I spotted a lone package on my last trip to a Real Canadian Superstore for only $8.99CAD. This is really the only shadow primer you need, again at half the cost of luxury versions which don't always work nearly as well as this one by Milani. Don't pass on this solid performer the next time you see it.

Also from Milani, I grabbed a Color Statement Lipliner in the shade 09 Spice, a subtle and warm terracotta brown liner that emphasizes my natural lip colour and makes my lipstick application last longer and stay in place. This creamy pencil lipliner is so versatile that I use it with almost every lip product I've been enjoying for day to day wear.
Makeup fiends in my area must know how good these lip pencils are since they're usually sold out but for a few shades I don't want. For $5.99CAD each, who could resist stocking up on this beauty essential?

Finally, I bought two Joe Fresh lipliners, intrigued since I heard they're quite good. I picked two nudes, one cool, one warm, and gave away the cool one since it was much too light for me. The darker shade however, is a faint and subtle version of my own liptone, so it's a perfect nude lipliner for the lightest lipcolours that I wear, defining the boundaries of my lips without making me look weird. As I get older, I want to make sure that my lipcolours don't bleed or look messy. Amazingly, they're nearly indelible and last through eating and sipping hot tea, unbelievable for the $4.99CAD I paid for them. These Joe Fresh LipLiners feature a convenient lip brush on the opposite end to neatly apply potted lipgloss or to perfect your lipstick application. I noticed that Shoppers Drug Mart began to carry the Joe Fresh beauty line in the new year, so they will be more accessible than ever.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

My first Morphe order: brushes, LA Girl Concealers & a Color Switch

My parcel from Morphe just arrived and I'm so thrilled with everything I received! Behold this splendid Morphe 690 6-Piece Contour Brush Set, which I recently ordered from their website. With three large and three small synthetic duofibre brushes, I now have everything I need to contour my face and eyes to perfection. Morphe brushes have gained a well-earned reputation for durability and delivering exceptional results. Their heft and girth make them a joy to work with; they feel solid in my hand and luxuriously soft on my face. The shaped brush heads deposit and blend products like a dream, blurring out any streaks and harsh lines that crappier brushes normally leave in their wake. Of course the small brushes are wonderful for applying and blending out eye makeup too, c'est l'embarras du choix when it comes to these sensational brushes. I can't believe this set was only $22.99USD and arrive a mere week after I ordered.

I've wanted to try L.A. Girl's famous concealer for a while, so at only $2.99USD each, I bought three shades that I hoped might work for me. Here you see the ProConceal HD high-definition Concealer in shades GC982 Warm Honey, GC983 Fawn and GC984 Toffee. The first two seem like they will work with my colouring and if the Toffee is too dark to use as concealer, I'll try it out as a subtle contour shade. This concealer is known for how well it blends out, long wear and certainly for unbeatable value.

My last pick from Morphe's plethora of items was this Solo refill version of Vera Mona's amazing Color Switch for $7.99USD. This is a coarse disk of sturdy openly porous sponge-textured material that rids makeup brushes of dry products with a few swirls against its surface. Not for use with wet or creamy formulas, this handy tool saves time from constantly washing makeup brushes with wet solutions that then have to dry before reuse. Of course, this tool does not replace a proper brush-washing regimen, but it will keep them softer and more pliable between washes (and prolongs brush longevity by limiting exposure to moisture) since it doesn't strip brush hairs of the trace amounts of conditioner that remain like alcohol-based brush cleaners. I have a perfectly-sized tin to house mine that gets a good cleaning whenever I wash the sponge which keeps everything neat and hygienic.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Best beauty hacks and hidden bargains

Look at them. Don't they make you cringe? At a glance, you can just tell they snag and pull, those 'no-slip' ones rip bunches of hairs out every time I use them, my eyes are watering just thinking about it. There's a silicone one under there that also takes a handful with it whenever it's near my scalp and we're not even going to start in on those flat ones with the flowers... And how about these colours - what am I, a preschooler? But before you throw out all of your crappy hair ties and tear-jerking elastics, let me share with you a beauty hack that will have you scrounging in your drawer of hair accessories in search of your spurned scrunchies.

In addition to a pile of ugly painful hair ties, there is the ongoing issue of where to dry freshly cleaned makeup brushes. I don't know how it is where you live, but for me, laying all my brushes out to dry on a bathroom counter takes up valuable real estate that I don't have. I don't want my brushes to sit damp on their sides on a towel, etc. I also can't stand the idea of my clean brushes being within splashing distance in a shared space. Ideally, brushes should be lightly towel-dried, hand-shaped and hung to dry for optimal longevity. Don't be rough with a wet brush since bristles are more fragile when damp and the adhesive that secures the ferrule to the handle can be compromised when moist. This is why I never soak my brushes in water when cleaning either. I try to treat my brushes the same way I would treat my own hair, and I think of brush cleaning as giving each one a shower, never a bath. This ensures that makeup tools work to their potential and that brush heads stay well-glued to their handles over time.

So... how can you hang your brushes to dry and finally put those hair elastics to good use?

Secure hair ties around your upside-down brushes, double-looping them onto a bar or towel rack for cleaner, faster brush-drying and now your counter or tabletops are clear as well. I have been using this method for more than a year now and my brushes have never been better. Makeup brushes are often some of the biggest beauty investments we make and I believe there is truth in the notion that good quality brushes can make even mediocre makeup look great. Take care of your brushes with some of the same attention that you pay to your own hair (cleansing, conditioning, etc) and your tools will perform optimally, be hygienic and last much longer.

A photo posted by Monica Ghosh (@point_1) on

Whenever I'm at Asian dollar stores and drugstores, I seek out empty dispensing bottles of every kind, perfect for creams, liquids, and soaps, etc. They are hygienic, thrifty, and extend the shelf life of products since they limit exposure to air and moisture. I use mine for face primers, tinted moisturizers/foundations and cleansers that I love but for the packaging. This also means that I can now clearly see how much product I have left, and if there is any deterioration as the product ages, added bonuses for these types of products.

I fervently enjoy slathering high-quality skincare oils on my face, body, hair and nails. While shopping, I look for small spray, roller and dropper-topped bottles that I fill with some of my best-loved oil blends which are then a joy to apply. My list of favourite oils includes: camellia, seabuckthorn seed and fruit, rosehip, evening primrose, calendula, castor, hempseed, apricot kernel, almond and coconut oils, listed vaguely in order of ardour (with unfortunately corresponding prices).
Natural groceries, health food stores and soap-making vendors sometimes sell lovely glass apothecary jars and bottles, best-suited for oils and gels since they do not readily react with ingredients. My favourite vendor for natural beauty ingredients is Cranberry Lane, where staff are usually able to answer my questions about packaging and preservation.

I fill small fine mist spray bottles with my favourite hydrosols - rose and lavender, which I place strategically (at my workstation, in my purse, at my vanity, etc) so I can mist my face and hair anytime for a quick pick-me-up. These multipurpose sprays prep my skin for moisturizer, set makeup once it's applied, refresh skin and hair, and I love to use my rose or lavender waters to dampen makeup sponges and brushes for use.
I don't blend my floral waters since I like each for a different reason, at different times of the day. Aside from smelling great, these liquids are sterile, shelf-stable, alcohol/glycerine/additive-free and deliver added benefits from their floral ingredients. I buy mine from Cranberry Lane or from reputable candle/soap-making vendors. Decent health food stores often sell high-quality rosewater and other floral essence waters for you to try.

My local Asian dollar store is where I picked up this adorable "Pack tool set" for just a few bucks. It contains a trio of measuring spoons to dole out your ingredients, a sturdy bowl to mix up your mask paste with a matching spatula, plus a flat-tipped brush to apply it to your face. Combined with one of the face mask paper sheets which are moistened and placed on top your concoction so it all sinks well into your skin (which you can buy here in multipacks for just a few dollars more), you can make yourself a fresh custom face mask that rivals anything you can buy.

Do you struggle to find foundations that match your skintone? Here's a great site that helps you select your perfect foundation shades:

A large clean soft powder brush (instead of your fingertips) is best to gently pull the lower lashline down when applying eyeliner or messy glittery eye products. It won't disturb the makeup you've just applied, and catches any falling shadow so the sparkle stays only where you want it. A big fluffy brush is much better at keeping everything tidy during those final steps when you don't want any smears or fallout wrecking your handiwork, while being cleaner and kinder to your face.

Microfiber towels with gentle textures are a potent and practical way to wipe away makeup with no scrubbing or damage. They help remove every little bit of glitter from face and hands, and are great to fix mistakes during application, you don't even need makeup remover, just lightly dampen a corner with warm water and gently touch-up your boo-boo. At a fraction of the price of fancy makeup remover cloths, they are a true beauty bargain. You can also cut your own facecloth-sized squares from a hair or bath-sized microfiber towel, which can be found routinely on sale in many places, often in the fitness and bathroom accessories aisle. They also remove makeup and any lingering oils very effectively from your equipment and workstation. My local Asian dollar store has a good selection of microfiber rags (sometimes found in the household cleaning section), in several different textures and sizes but I go for the fluffiest, softest-looking ones in bright colours for makeup use. Although generally gentler to skin than traditional cotton facecloths, microfiber fabrics are so efficient that they absorb most of the surface oils and humectants that keep skin moist; please remember to moisturize after use.

Sleep on a soft silk pillowcase to keep your skin and hair in top condition. At very least, try natural bamboo cases which are less absorbent and abrasive than cotton or microfiber (both dry skin out by absorbing moisture and products), and stay away from of scratchy poly-blends. It's counter-intuitive to spend your waking time, money and effort maintaining your skin only to mash your face and neck against fabrics that are coarse or rob your skin of moisture during its nightly renewal process.

Don't toss clear nail polishes that are a bit too thick and gloopy to serve their original purpose. It's a fine time to try mixing it with old shadows or glitters that you don't use; add a drop or two of non-acetone polish remover to thin out your polish enough to give it a second life.
From Strong Mind Brave Heart
Clear nail polish is so handy around the house and garden too! It can stop a run in your hosiery or keep a loose button in place until you can repair it, with endless clever uses, just keep it away from your face and don't eat it! Seriously, I've read 'hacks' that suggest using clear nail polish to block off some of the exit holes in your salt shaker to throttle how much pours out, but I think it's a bad idea to risk ingesting nail polish, since I don't trust it to be dishwasher-safe over time. Use your imagination and good judgement, as ever. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

All-time top dry skin fix, happy 90th to Weleda's Skin Food!

Well what do you know, Weleda's Skin Food, my top repurchased moisturizer of all-time is 90 and they're having a giveaway! Just upload a personal photo of your tube like I did here for a chance to win.
A photo posted by Monica Ghosh (@point_1) on

Imagine a skin cream so effective and beloved that it continues to be made for 90 years. That's the story of Weleda's Skin Food. This is the heavy-duty cream I always return to when all else fails and my skin is desperately dry. It's so thick and rich that weathered and chapped skin drinks it up and starts to heal right away. It's natural and non-toxic so it doesn't aggravate even my sensitive facial skin, with a charming light citrus scent that fades quickly. This is the kind of cream for people who need to seriously lock in moisture the way petroleum jelly might but instead want something natural and nourishing that you feel good about your skin absorbing. The travel-sized tube is a staple in my purse, I'm almost never without one, and most quality health food stores carry the Weleda line. I sometimes use this to spot-hydrate my roughest dry areas on top of my regular moisturizers as it seems to 'seal in' and prolong the hydrating effects of other products as well. Aside from this Skin Food and the Everon Lip Balm that I think is amazing and recently recommended, I've also used many of Weleda's baby products which are made with safe, quality ingredients like calendula and I think they are wonderful. I feel like this company understands my concept of making products so pure that I don't worry about them absorbing into my body. I also like that they don't keep radically changing their products and packaging, an anomaly in a natural beauty market that seems to be in constant flux. I've been a loyal fan for almost two decades and I've loved every product I've used from this brand.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Winter skincare hit list

I have been trying out so many products this winter to combat very dry skin and to help heal a scar. Many of these products are not new but all have earned a place in this posting for efficacy and value.
On the left is the one and only Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micelle Solution, simply the best cleansing water you can buy. I've tried several others and none are as efficient at swiping away all traces of makeup and dirt as this one. Unscented and non-irritating since it's designed for sensitive skin, go get one at your nearby Shoppers and see why it's one of the world's most popular cleansers.
Next to it is a bottle of Bio-Oil, a skin oil that can be used topically anywhere, notably to help with scarring, stretch marks, discolouration and general hydration and healing. The apricot-hued oil is very light and can be used as a face serum for those with extra-dry skin. It is highly scented, but makes my skin and scar area feel so comfortable that I don't mind, the scent isn't overly artificial, in fact I quite it.

Right next to the original was this Shoppers' in-house Life Brand Vitaderm skin oil, an obvious dupe for the product above. While priced a dollar less than the original, it is also a nice light hydrating oil, also scented, but a bit more perfumey than the original Bio-Oil. I can't tell much of a difference performance-wise, so your preference of scent may decide for you.

One thing I can say for certain is that I find both brands' packaging of these oils to be vexing. My solution is to carefully decant the product into clean mini spray bottles for body and rollerball dispensers for face, nails, etc. Even small clean bottles with a dropper lid would be preferable to either one of the packages these products are sold in. 

Continuing on my scar-treating journey, I bought Bioderma's Cicabio Soothing Repairing Cream, and it feels incredibly light and almost disappears into skin without being oily or tacky. It has no scent and has a fine-tip applicator that makes it easy to precisely place the cream where needed. After a bit of research I found out that many people use this product on their face with great results, for irritation, eczema and to hydrate skin overnight. I'll give this cream a few months before I decide if it's a skincare essential or not. For $15.99 at Shoppers, it wasn't a huge risk to take from a brand that I already love.

Now to address the scourge of winter, the dreaded dry elbows. If you have dark skin, the problem is often compounded by ashiness and discolouration. My elbows sometimes get so dry that if I don't tend to them they can get hard and flaky and eventually the skin cracks and breaks, like really sorry-ass heels do if severely neglected. What I'm saying is that I needed something industrial-strength to provide long-lasting hydration to my rough, scaly elbows, knees and ankles, that wasn't so greasy that fabrics cling uncomfortably. Well this Cerave Moisturizing Cream may seem basic, but when all others failed, this one really made my skin start to heal. This thick, unscented formula is so rich that it continues to hydrate even after a hand wash, a sure sign that your cream is an effective emollient. For less than $10 at Shoppers especially if you catch it on sale, this cream is a boon to dry skin at a drugstore price.

How absolutely brilliant, I love the story of one of the best beauty vloggers (NikkiTutorials ) discovering that this Nivea Men's After Shave Balm for Sensitive Skin works stupendously as a face primer under or mixed with other products when she forgot to pack moisturizer when travelling with her guy. The mild scent fades quickly and the light, silky texture is a revelation. Put away your expensive primers and thick goopy chafing creams, THIS is the product you want as your next primer. For about $11CAD or less when on sale and readily available at stores everywhere, you should give it a try. I could insert a rant here about how much more women are willing to pay for the same things that are sold to men, how we pay a premium for packaging and marketing when something like this works even better than so many luxury brands' offerings, but I'll let it rest for a minute while I admire the impeccable complexion I got from this after shave balm...

It may not be a surprise to learn that I cannot bring myself to splurge hundreds of dollars on one of the numerous 'facial cleansing systems' that have been flooding the market for the last few years. My reasons are many, first among them is the fact that I already have a 'facial cleaning system' that is sublime and works perfectly: MY HANDS. Never mind about sonic pulses and micro-vibrations and forget about spinning brushes that accumulate germs and bacteria, for $5.99 at Shoppers Drug Mart, this handy facial cleansing brush by in-house beauty brand Quo is as gentle and effective as I need it to be, without power cords or charging time, no on/off switch required. I think it causes the user to be more mindful about how much pressure is exerted on the face's delicate skin while cleansing than the spendy electric versions. This sweet little Quo Silicone Pore Refiner is a quick and easy way to clean your face, is gentle enough to use daily and allows fair-to-mediocre cleansers to work just fine, thanks to the effectiveness of the silicone bristles on the cleaning pad.
They cleverly made the other side a handle to help keep your grip on it when your fingers are slippery with products. I suspect this may also be a miracle to use as a makeup brush cleaning tool, as it mimics the scrub pad that comes in my favourite Sephora solid brush cleanser, but the bristles on this one may well scrub and cleanse soapy brush heads with maximum efficiency. I'll test it out and let you know if it works in an upcoming post.

Talk about relief! This fantastic duo is the perfect remedy for my flaky dry face. I've never needed to exfoliate so desperately as I do this winter, and some of my usual standards just weren't working for me. This Hydrating Day Crème with hyaluronic acid contained a sizeable bonus container of the very Microdermabrasion Scrub I wanted to try, and I just ran out of daytime facial moisturizer, so finding this at my local natural grocery store was awesome. This face scrub is not kidding around, with a very fine pumice-like texture that doesn't dissolve when wet, so you can really get a good scrub on with moistened fingertips. When rinsed away, skin feels sloughed, bright and supple without tightness or irritation.
The Day Crème is light enough to wear under makeup but rich enough to hydrate my skin for hours. I slather it onto problem areas and leave a thick layer to sink in while I rub it in everywhere else, like a mini instant moisture mask; I'm amazed how readily my face drinks it in by the time I smooth my whole face over, and the natural scent is light and pleasant. I love that I found two excellent products from a brand that is green and ethical.

Repairing chapped winter lips requires something more than a buttery or glossy slick of oily balm; this is when I want lipbalm to be more waxy and thick enough to stay on for a while. When I want to protect my lips as well as heal them, I seek out this Weleda Everon Lip Balm. It's unflavoured and matte with a faint rose scent that I love, which comes from the precious rose petal wax it contains, among other impeccable ingredients. No wonder it's Brad Pitt's favourite lip balm. I usually find these at higher-end organic grocery stores in the toiletries aisle or by the checkouts.
While on the subject of natural skincare, here is my current favourite sunscreen for body, by Alba Botanica. This Sunscreen Spray Lotion for Kids has a mineral SPF 40, is non-toxic and doesn't make my dark skin ghostly-grey or greasy. It also doesn't reek, a problem I have with many other sunscreens. The spray bottle is my top choice for convenience to apply it to self or others, it gets the job done quickly and you're able to spray yourself solo in hard-to-reach places. It's long-lasting and water-resistant, an all around great sunscreen for the whole family. Alba Botanica is available all over the place but I picked mine up at my local organic grocery.

Hall of fame cleansers for makeup brushes (and people!):
Back row, L to R: Dr. Woods Shea Vision Pure Black Soap with Organic Shea Butter; Dr. Bronners Lavender Pure-Castile Liquid Soap; Life Brand Isopropyl Alcohol 99%USP (which I use to spot-clean smaller brushes between washings)
Front row, L to R: Dr. Bronners Almond Pure-Castile Liquid Soap; Dr. Bronners Rose Pure-Castile Liquid Soap

I try to treat my makeup brushes as well as I'd treat my hair, so I lightly condition brushes once in a while to prevent bristles from becoming brittle over time. Be sure to rinse all residue out of your beauty tools no matter what you're doing, or you'll be smearing whatever is left in them all over your face, eyes and mouth.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Drugstore beauty reviews: PÜR, Essence, Prestige etc.

Here it is, my current top palette of all time, by PÜR Cosmetics, the Soul Mattes Shadow Palette that they had at my favourite Shoppers Drug Mart. This line has been quietly gaining popularity based on the consistently high quality of their mineral-based products. Many beauty reviewers report that this palette quickly becomes an everyday essential once discovered. The outstanding formula of these shadows is frankly peerless. For my darker skin, finding light matte shadows that aren't chalky and powdery is an eternal quest. Usually, they're too sheer and I have to build layers of powder as I try to get the desired colour intensity, which can get messy and even highlight fine lines around the eyes. Well that is not the case with these ultra-finely-milled shadows. They are all matte, and each applies true to colour on the first swipe. They blend smoothly onto the lid and with each other, and I cannot get over how much I appreciate this colour selection. I could go on and on singing the praises of PÜR's products, but you should do what I did and just go swatch some of their offerings yourself so you'll see what the fuss is about. It wasn't cheap ($39.99CAD) but is good value considering the amount of product and the ingredients used. There are numerous other items from this brand that I'm now eager to try, I'll keep you all posted.

Now back to my ongoing love story with Essence Cosmetics. I got my hands on their Make Me Brow Eyebrow Gel Mascara in 02 brown , the deeper of two shades. This is possibly the best eyebrow mascara I've tried, especially since it is a perfect dupe for Benefit's Gimme Brow that retails for $30, but this one only costs $2.99CAD (yes, you read that right). The extra-small spoolie applicator makes filling in and taming wayward eyebrow hairs idiot-proof, and it's great combined with other products when you're stepping up your brow game but still want things to look realistic instead of drawn-on Sharpie brows. Then in the clearance area, I stumbled onto this sweet Good Girl Bad Girl Quattro eyeshadow quad on sale for only $2CAD. While I shy away from liquid and cream products in the discount sale area, these shadows are a lovely find, especially in such a great colour combination. The inclusion of a well-pigmented matte black makes this perfect for my travel kit.

While at Shoppers Drug Mart, I couldn't resist picking up L'Oréal's Infallible Pro Matte Gloss in 318 Bare Attraction, hoping for a nice nude lip, but as you can see from the swatch on my arm, this shows up as a light dusky orange on my arm and looked even lighter on my lips, absolutely not what I was looking for. While the formula is light and comfortable on lips with great colour payoff, I couldn't get past the scent of this product and eventually felt like I was ingesting weird chemicals so I won't be trying any more of these. I think my recent focus on more organic, cruelty-free and vegan makeup has made me even more sensitive to noxious ingredients than ever. For $12.99CAD, I am not a fan.

Over at London Drugs, I stopped at the Prestige Cosmetics display when the little 'on sale' tags winked at me, so I got this stunning duochrome Total Intensity Fierce Color Eyeshadow in the shade TIS-04 Hocus Pocus.  As you can see, it is a gorgeous shade of shiny teal with a coppery-brown undertone that looks different depending on how it's applied, the lighting and your skintone. While it appears as a vivid blue-green on my skin, it looked more mellow light brown on a very fair friend of mine. With no primer or prep, she wore it for almost 8 hours as lid colour and liner in a natural demure eye look. She later told me that it did not budge, fade or irritate through a long day of wear. Definitely a steal on sale at 30% off for $9.79 each, I'm encouraged to see what other colours jump out at me the next time I'm there.

Continuing with Prestige Cosmetics, I bought another of their Waterproof Lipliners, this time in Mocha, and let me tell you, I am wearing this pencil OUT. For my darker lip tone, this shade is a barely visible barrier that prevents lip products from straying, and it works nicely as an all-over lipcolour that looks completely natural but lasts for ages. It is a bit plummier than the browner shade Cocoa that first turned me on to these lipliners. They glide easily on lips, set tenaciously under or over other products, and are my favourite liners to use daily, especially when I need to define and darken lips for light nude shades that I want to rock. For only $4.79 on sale instead of the already affordable regular price of $6.99, I'm going to have to rush back for more.

After watching scads of reviews and demos of waterproof drugstore mascaras, I decided to give this version a try by Rimmel for $7.99CAD. The ScandalEyes Retro Glam Waterproof Mascara in Black has a nicely-shaped brush applicator and is highly-recommended by Asian and other beauty reviewers who struggle with small straight lashes. Waterproof formulas often help to maintain the shape of the lashes after curling and can prevent dark panda eye circles from forming over the day. While I'm a dedicated true believer in the power of tubing my lashes, I'm always open to trying a great new product. The other test this mascara will have to pass is that it will have to GTFO when it's time to get clean, I'll let you know how we make out.
Finally from London Drugs' expansive nail polish and accessories section, I repurchased the only top coat I ever use, the Dry Fast Top Coat by Seche Vite for which I paid $11.99.  If you paint your nails and you don't have this top coat, you're doing it wrong. Nothing makes even three thick layers of polish plus base coat dry to a perfectly glossy hard finish like this topper right here. It can also make your cheaper nail polishes look and act higher-end, and it's ideal to set nail art or jewels in place since it dries so fast.