Sunday, December 11, 2011

5 Must-Haves for Holiday Makeup!

Around this time of year, there are all sorts of opportunities to go big with your makeup looks - and it's a lot of fun to play with more dramatic eyes and lips for those holiday parties! If you're going to stand out under the mistletoe this year, here are some products you'll need!

1. A smoldering black eyeliner

Elizabeth Arden Smoky Black, Lorac, Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil Zero, 
Smashbox Dream, Lancome Le Crayon Kohl Black Ebony, Nars Black Moon, 
Makeup Forever Waterproof Eyeliner Pencil 0L, MAC Eye Kohl Smolder

This is a no-brainer - any time of year - but if you really want to set off a glittery or intense holiday eye look, you'll need a really good black liner. A lot of my favourite holiday looks are smoky, and the key to any good night-time smokey eye is a great and easy to work with black liner pencil.

Waterproof liners like Makeup Forever or Urban Decay 24/7 are long-lasting, and great to line the upper lashline. You'll also need a kohl pencil to line your waterline (I recently discovered Lorac's black liner, but MAC's Smolder is a must-have for a reason). The classic cat-eye is another great option, for which you will need an intense, opaque gel liner (like MAC's Blactrack or Bobbi Brown's Indigo Black) or liquid liner like MAC Rapidblack to create a cat or winged liner. Really, having a good selection of your favourite black liners is one of the cornerstones of any good makeup collection!

2. A classic red (or other eye-catching colour) lipstick

 For a classic red lip: MAC Diva, Pure 64, M.A.C Red, , Bobbi Brown Old Hollywood

When you're picking a lipstick that will last through dinner, drinks, and beyond, there are a couple of factors to consider. The first is the lipstick finish. Matte lipsticks will stay put and are less likely to move around, so consider going shine-free if you want a truly long-lasting lipstick. MAC's Ruby Woo and Diva are two options - but be warned, Ruby Woo is arguably the most drying lipstick of all time (most mattes are at least a bit drying, but this one is particularly so!), so make sure to condition your lips before and after using!

The second factor to consider is application. You want to make sure that the lipstick is worked well into the lips using a layering technique and a good, stiff brush. You can also use a translucent powder to set the first layer before re-applying for extra wear. And don't forget to blot - though if you've done it right, there shouldn't be much to blot!

You might have noticed a lot of bright fuchsia lips on celebrities lately. This is a great way to modernize a more classic look, and can add the same attention-grabbing element with a bit of a twist and personal touch! I think you can make it work with any bright colour that strikes your fancy, but here are some of my favourites:

 For a modern pop of colour: Sleek Candy Cane, MAC Blood Red (from the DSquared Collection), 
MAC Show Orchid (Pro) and Makeup Forever 36 (mini)

And of course, if you don't want to go classic red, vamping up your colour can be as much fun as going bright! You can do a deep burgundy, a purple-tinted shade or something more exciting - like my all time favourite berry/pink deep shade - MAC's Rebel!

 Want to vamp it up a bit? Try: MAC Hang Up (even has a hint of seasonal shimmer!) and MAC Rebel

Depending on the shape of your lips and the finish of the lipstick, a lipliner to match your lipstick is optional - however, if you don't have matte finish lipstick, you can use liner instead of lipstick if you want long-wearing colour. It also means there's absolutely no chance of that unfortunate situation where your lipstick wears off faster than your liner and you end up with the dreaded line around the outside of your mouth.... not pretty.

MAC Beet, Nars Funny Face, Bare Escentuals Buxom Lip Tarnish Caught on Tape, 
Smashbox Smashing Editor, MAC Redd, Lancome Le Lipstique Mauvelle

3. Metallic eyeshadow (or even better - something that sparkles!)

 MAC Heritage Rouge pigment, MAC Morning Frost paint pot and MAC Mega Metal Shadow Dalliance 

Holiday looks are all about the drama - and what's more dramatic than gold- or silver-plated eyes? Of course, it doesn't have to be so traditional. You can go with any intense, shimmery shade that strikes your fancy, and this is one time of year when even I like sparkles!

MAC pigment samples in Copper, Gold, Platinum, Reflects Blackened Red and Reflects Antique Gold

4. Head-turning nail polish

Essie Steel-ing the Scene, Essie Wrapped in Rubies, OPI Already Famous, 
Nars Desperado, OPI Le Beau

Though nails are one place you can wear pretty much anything that strikes your fancy anytime you like (in my opinion), there are certain colours and finishes that seem to fit with particular times of year. You've got pale and neutral shades in the spring; neon pink, turquoise and orange in the summer; and muted urban neutrals (like cement grey and beige-mauve) and dark shades in fall. But in the holidays, you've got bright reds, metallic shades and anything with shimmer or sparkles! It's a great time to break out bright, orange-toned reds, true slivers and plaster your nails with glitter that can be seen for miles. The trick is to pick any colour you'd imagine working in holiday decorations, and it's sure to be a hit!

5. A good, long-lasting eye primer and some deep-conditioning lip balm

Nars Pro-Prime, Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow, MAC Paint Pot, 
Too Faced Shadow Insurance, Urban Decay Primer Potion and Smash Box Photo Finish Lid Primer

 Compared to some of the other items in this list, eye primer and lip balm may seem a bit boring. And, truth be told, they are. But so are ingredients before they become a cake. These are two of the products that will make your holiday makeup glamorous rather than gaudy.

You may have read my blog post about eye primer already, so I won't go over the basics again. I do want to point out, however, that aside from making your shadow last to the end of even the most scandalous of holiday parties, it's also even more important when you're working with anything sparkly. Glitter and sparkly shadows tend not to be finely milled like regular shadows - sometimes they can even be chunky. Because of this you may encounter two problems: 1) more fallout; and 2) trouble getting them to stick where you want them. Primer is how you deal with this. It will give glitter a sticky surface to cling to, and it will keep it there.

MAC Lip Conditioner, Smith's Minted Rose Lip Balm, and Kiehl's Lip Balm #1

Particularly at this time of year, dry skin becomes a huge problem for many of us. Your lips are no exception to this. Which can be a problem for any lipstick, but if you want to go with a long-lasting matte lipstick or liner, the extra-drying texture can make it a major disaster. Chapped lips make for an uneven surface to apply lipstick, and when it starts to fade, it won't fade evenly, leading to a patchy appearance. Not pretty. Make sure that you apply the lip conditioning product of your choice before bed every night, and that you exfoliate your lips with some of your lip conditioner on the end of a Q-Tip regularly. Also, apply a layer and let it sit while applying the rest of your makeup, then blot to remove it before you add lipstick. Trust me, you'll thank me later.

That's it for our top 5, but here are a few bonus things you'll probably need: A photo-friendly foundation, some great false lashes (it's your time to get dramatic!), and a light-catching highlighter to help you stand out in those holiday snaps!

Now go forth and party!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Oops! Just Couldn't Resist - Lorac Bejewelled Night & Day Jewelry Box

I didn't intend to buy any holiday palettes this year. But then Sephora's $20 VIB gift card landed in my inbox, and the next thing you know, I'm at the store falling in love with this beauty. The box itself... meh. Not my style. When I opened the box I was treated to a shower of sparkles, which I hate. Awesome. But once I got the two shadow/blush palettes, two eyeliners, two lipglosses and HUGE bronzer out of it, I quickly forgot the shower of glitter! Here's a picture of what the entire box looks like opened up. As you can see, the bronzer and lip glosses are nestled in the top with a lifting lid, and there are two drawers which each have a shadow/blush palette and eyeliner.

Everything comes out, including the molded insets for the products, 
so you can actually use it as a jewelry box if you want!

I'm not even sure where to start. Almost everything from this palette is absolutely gorgeous. The liners are creamy and easy to work with. The bronzer blends like a dream. The blush gives a gorgeous glow, and the shadows.... oh, the shadows. The selection is beautiful, and full of colours I can get a lot of use out of - even in the night palette! The shimmer gives a lovely wet effect and they last all. day. long. The only thing I'm not too excited about is the lip glosses - but that's because I don't like any shimmer in my glosses. I like berry stain shades. So the pearl finish in these just doesn't appeal to me - but that's not to say you won't love them!

Here are the two palettes:

Day palette - 16 shadows + peach blush

 Night palette - 16 shadows + pinky coral blush

All in all though, this kit is worth over $500 - and I got it for less than $60 (after my $20 off). Talk about a deal. I highly recommend that you pick one up - for yourself or the makeup lover in your life! I promise, either way, you won't regret it!

Packaging: 4/5 (I find the jewelry box a bit kitschy, but the individual products and palettes are removable, so it's just fine!)
Product quality: 5/5 for the ones I've tried so far!
Worth the price? DEFINITELY. GET IT NOW!
Would I purchase again? Probably if I needed to - and if it weren't a seasonal release!
Cruelty-Free? Not sure.
Where to find it: Sephora in store and online. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Nars - Lip Lacquer in Hot Wired

One of those products where the name says it all! This is a gorgeous, bright pink colour with a hint of iridescent shimmer.  If you're looking for a way to stand out at holiday parties, other than your classic red lip, here you go. 

I think it's great over a bright pink lip liner if you want it to last all night, or on its own. Even alone, it wears well - partly because of the texture. It's got a stickier consistency, which is great for making it last, but if you're like me, the feel of it might not work for you.

I've tried a couple of Nars lip lacquers, and one of their glosses, and I'm not a huge fan. While the consistency bugs me, it's actually the smell that really gets me. I don't know how to describe it except to say that it smells a little like those intense hand creams that don't have perfume, but do have lanolin. I have no idea why Nars lip glosses and lacquers smell this way, and it could be my over-sensitivity to smells, but I find it off-putting enough that I rarely reach for them. Sorry, Nars!

Shame, cos this colour is to die for!

Packaging: 5/5
Product quality: 3/5 (-1 each for consistency and scent)
Worth the price? Not for me.
Would I purchase again? No.

Cruelty-Free? Not sure.
Where to find it: Nars online, Sephora in store and online.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sephora's $12 Black Friday Sale!

Click on image for more info

Just a quick FYI to all you makeup addicts out there - Sephora is having a Black Friday sale tomorrow, for one day only! Lots of gorgeous looking items on sale for just $12 each! Apparently it's two per customer, and supplies are limited, so make sure to drop by as early in the day as possible.

Not sure which locations this applies to, so if you might want to call and double check if it's out of your way.

See you there! ;)

xo M.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Top Ten of the Week


 The other day when I was getting ready for work, I found myself reaching for the same thing as I had the day before, and I got to thinking about how I choose what to use each morning from the ridiculous amount of products that are currently cluttering up my bathroom. There are some things that I use every day for months, like my Smashbox Tinted Moisturizer in Luminous and my Makeup Forever Brown Gel. But then there are things that I will use for a week or even two, but then set aside and all but forget about. I realized that I tend to wear a few looks during the week, then experiment a little on weekends. I'll often stumble across a daytime look that I try out on Saturday or Sunday and it will become my favourite for the next week. But it's always changing. So I thought I'd share the things I found myself reaching for the most this week. Possibly I'll do this every week or few weeks - whenever I notice that I'm using different stuff than last time!

1. MAC Seasonally Spicy Technakohl Liner

I got this recently and am absolutely loving it. It's greats smudged along the upper and lower lashlines with Remotely Grey shadow on top for a super easy daytime look. Another bonus? You don't need to sharpen it!

2. MAC Remotely Grey Eyeshadow

As mentioned above, this shadow is great to smoke out a dark brown liner along the lashlines. I also love it as a lid colour for a daytime neutral look. Despite the name, it's more of a taupey-brown than grey, though I suppose it has the tiniest hint of a silvery/grey sheen to it. I really wish this wasn't LE, because in my opinion this is a must-have shade!

3. MAC Amplified Lipstick in Impassioned

I can't believe I never noticed this shade before! I went into MAC last week to exchange some of my Back 2 MAC empties, and they didn't have the lipstick I was looking for in stock. I was just about to give up and leave, when I glanced over and this shade caught my eye. It's the most gorgeous coral/pink shade that is both bold and tasteful simultaneously. Though it's not for every day, this is a super fun lipstick to wear for a night out!

4. MAC False Lashes Mascara (Black)

I used to use MAC Plush Lash every day. I decided to give this one a try, and I haven't even opened my brand new replacement Plush Lash that I bought a few months ago. This adds length and volume and can be worn in the day time, or built up for a night out. New fave.

5. Lancome Luring Eyeshadow (Sheen)

Okay, so I don't like Lancome because of the whole testing on animals thing, so I went back and forth about whether to include this shadow on the list. In the end I decided to because in all honesty, though I won't be purchasing from them again in the future, this shadow is one that I find to be unique. It is an iridescent shimmery shadow that has hints of blue, green and purple in it. I like to layer it over another shadow (or paint pot) that will accentuate one of these colours.

6. Bare Escentuals Buxom Lip Tarnish in "Caught on Tape"

You might not have heard of these pencils - I hadn't. They're basically lip stain/glaze in a pencil format that has BE's Buxom line plumping properties. I love the colour of this - it's between a rich burgundy red and a fuchsia pink - and you can build the colour up or wear it as a subtle hint of colour during the day. Great.

7. Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion

I'm sure you have all heard of this cream - it's something of a cult favourite. It's bright yellow and comes in a clear plastic cubic pump container. It also comes in handy travel-size squeeze tubes for $15 each. I have trouble with dry skin in the winter, so this is a very important part of my winter skin care. It's thick enough to provide lots of moisture, but it absorbs more quickly than other creams so it doesn't leave my skin feeling oily. Also it doesn't have much of a scent - if anything it smells a little like oatmeal - which is another plus in my book. Because I hate using hand cream and then forgetting and touching my face, I have actually been known to use this as a hand cream in the winter time as well, and it works wonders for my hands and if I do touch my face, it doesn't leave it feeling gross. Bonus.

8. Kiehl's Lip Balm or MAC Lip Conditioner

I don't shop at Kiehl's anymore, because of the whole animal testing fiasco (they are a subsidiary of L'Oreal), but I have a tub and a tube of their lip balm that I'm still working on using up. It really isn't anything special, in all honesty, so you can substitute Rosebud Salve or MAC Lip Conditioner or even a drug store brand of lip conditioner. But whatever you use, it's important to moisturized those lips in the winter time, just like you do with the rest of your skin. I use this before bed at night and in the morning when I'm doing the rest of my makeup. If I'm not wearing a coloured lip product I'll also use it throughout the day.

9. Bobbi Brown Longwear Cream Shadow in Sand Dollar

This is a great base colour or for a daytime neutral eye. It is a muted taupe colour with a hint of shimmer that makes it gorgeous worn alone or with a thin wash of similar eyeshadow over top. I like it with MAC's Wedge shadow in the crease and Seasonally Spicy smudged into the lashline with Remotely Grey (you can also use any mid-tone brown shadow). So easy!

10. Nars Blush Brush

I love that this is super soft, it picks up just enough product when tapped off lightly and is the perfect size to apply to the cheekbone - I hate brushes that are too large so that blush ends up everywhere, or too small so that it ends up in a thin line. Pricey, but I'm getting daily use out of it!

So there you go, that's what I'm loving this week! Until next time....

xo M.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Modern Pin-Up - Lisa Eldridge Tutorial


I originally clicked on this video because of the lipstick colour. I mean, just look at it. Goregous. As you know, I love deep pink lips - and Rebel by MAC is my all-time favourite. I wrote about it here, but all you need to know is that the shade is a plummy purpley fuchsia - and I have never seen a colour that looks more beautiful. If you're faimiliar with Rebel, you'll see the similarity when you watch this video (she actually suggests it as a MAC dupe for the colour she uses). Also, I absolutely love pin-up makeup - the dark liner, the long lashes, the clean lines, the bold lip - does it get any more glamorous?

After I started to watch, however, I was blown away by how wonderfully this look captures the pin-up look - yet isn't the same one you've seen over and over. Of course the trick with any classic makeup look (and by "classic" I mean a look that you can see repeatedly when you look back through the history of makeup artistry) is to find a way to update it; to bring it into today. Eldridge does an absolutely amazing job of taking this classic, iconic look and by tweaking it subtly (changing brow shape, updating lipstick colour) making it edgy and new. If you're a Bettie Page or Marilyn Monroe or Dita Von Teese fanatic, you will want to try this right away, but if you're looking for an unerringly classy, modern look, this will work perfectly for you, too.

xo M.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

MAC - Glitter & Ice Holiday 2011 Collection

 via Temptalia's review

I have to be honest: I haven't bought much of MAC's holiday collection, and I don't plan to. Don't get me wrong, there are some beautiful products to choose from, but they're either too pale, too sparkly, or they're really similar to products I already have. 

That said, I did treat myself - just a little bit ;). As you know, I love MAC's paint pots. So I gave in and bought the one in the middle... and the one at the top:

 For Effect, Morning Frost and Let's Skate! Via Temptalia.

The one at the top is called For Effect, and it's a dark, gunmetal grey with shimmer. Smooth, creamy... gorgeous. I do find it to be more sparkly than metallic. The middle one is Morning Frost and is a taupey shimmer colour that I absolutely love. It's a pale enough colour to wear as a neutral shade, but if you layer it to build up the shimmer, add a dramatic liner, and pair it with a hollywood glam lip (if you want to stick with this collection, try Such Flare for a traditional red or What a Joy! if you want to vamp it up a bit), it will definitely live up to holiday parties! It's creamy and easy to work with, which is a good sign that it won't dry out too quickly in the pot (though, of course, make sure to close your lid tight after you use it!).This one doesn't have chunky sparkles like For Effect does, it ends up with more of a wet metallic finish.

For those of you who like sparkles, check out Let's Skate!, which is nearly transparent in terms of background colour, but is a mess of gold and pink duochrome sparkles. If you love frosted glitter looks, this would be a great paint pot for sparkly eye looks, but I could even imagine it working as a light dusting on cheeks - or even your collar bone - for holiday parties! (Just don't put it EVERYWHERE at once, or you will blind anyone who looks at you!)

The other thing I got was an eyeliner called Seasonally Spicy, which is a Technakohl liner. It's a warm, rich brown colour that I love. Originally I intended to just get the paint pots, but I was convinced to give it a try after watching Moodeve's YouTube video:

I absolutely love the simplicity of this look, and I wanted to give it a try. Works like a charm, and looks particularly beautiful if you blend it out with a cool brown shadow.

 via Temptalia

If you're more into the pale and sparkly than I am and want to check out the rest of the collection, I'd recommend heading over to Temptalia's review - she runs through all the products for you. Even better, check out her YouTube video full of helpful observations and swatches!

Packaging: Varies.
Product quality: For the products I tried, 5/5
Worth the price? Yep.
Would I purchase again? Limited Edition! :(

Cruelty-Free? Yes - appears on PETA's Cruelty-Free list.
Where to find it: MAC in store and online.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Smith's Lip Balm - Minted Rose

This is probably the most famous of basic lip balms, perhaps except for Kiehl's. The original is just Rose Lip Balm, and has a very subtle, pleasant rose scent. This one has just a hint of mint mixed in, but is just as subtle. 

In texture and effect it is very similar to vaseline - slick, spreads easily and works wonders. I have a lot of trouble with dry skin - including lips - particularly in the winter. This makes it very difficult to wear bright and dark lipsticks as they tend to dry out and go patchy. Matte lipsticks are simply out of the question. I find that a little bit of this at night helps keep my lips from becoming too chapped, peely and flaky, and means I can wear some colour, even in the winter.

The absolute best use of this is as a lip exfoliant. Bear with me, I haven't gone nuts. This product alone clearly isn't an exfoliant. However, if you take a Q-Tip or cotton bud and roll it in this balm so that you have just a thin layer, then rub the lips gently but firmly, it does an excellent job of taking off any dry or flaking skin and leaving the lips smooth and ready for lipstick application. It's also great to condition the lips while you put on the rest of your makeup, and can then be removed with a tissue just before applying colour. The final use of this (aside from alone as a lip balm, of course) is to add a hint of gloss over top of a coloured lip product if you want to add another dimension.

Verdict? Must-have.

Packaging: 4/5 (Be careful not to store this upside down or on its side - particularly in warm climates - as it will melt and move around!)
Product quality: 5/5
Worth the price? Definitely.
Would I purchase again? Have done and will do again.

Cruelty-Free? Not sure - looking into it!
Where to find it: Sephora in store and online.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

MAC - Eyeshadow in Bitter

Every makeup enthusiast needs a bright lime green shadow. Right? That's what I thought. I decided to try this one out, because I like that it is a little more yellow toned than a lot of greens out there. It's a velvet finish, too, so it's not quite as flat of a colour as a lot of the matte bright shades. 

I have to admit, however, that it was much cooler as an idea than an actual purchase - I've played with it, but haven't yet found a look I'd want to wear out of the house! It can work well as a liner - I like it as a second line above an intense black liner. It looks particularly stunning on ladies (and fellas ;) with darker skin tones, because the contrast will really make it pop!

The final verdict? Easier to work with than a matte bright, gorgeous if used sparingly, but definitely not for everyone!

Packaging: 4/5 
Product quality: 4/5
Worth the price? If you are a fan of bright colours or a pro, this will be totally worth it.
Would I purchase again? I honestly don't see myself getting a lot of use out of this one, so probably not.

Cruelty-Free? Yes - appears on PETA's Cruelty-Free list.
Where to find it: MAC in store and online.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

An Awesome Present - Neal's Yard

Last week two of my aunts came to visit us from England. They stayed for a week, though I only got to spend an evening with them at my dad's place. Though this isn't my personal blog, let me digress for a moment.

If you don't read my other blog, you may not know this about me, but my parents are both from England. I'm first generation Canadian, and I feel a strong connection to my British roots. I guess you could call me an Anglophile - I love everything British, from the BBC to Polo mints to Marks & Sparks to calling potato chips "crisps." So it follows that I'd have a proclivity towards British cosmetics. Which I do - in fact, I worked at LUSH for a couple of years, which was originally a British company, and which I first encountered in Covent Garden. 

So when my aunts gave me this beautiful gift box from Neal's Yard,  you can imagine how pleased I was! Neal's Yard is a British company that uses natural, organic ingredients and doesn't test on animals. What I like most about their products, so far, is that they don't have overwhelming scents. Even naturally-derived essential oils can be overpowering (if you've been in a LUSH store, you'll know what I'm talking about). I don't know if it's from working at LUSH for so long, or  because I stopped working there, but I've developed a sensitivity to really strong perfumes. So I love cosmetics that smell good, but don't beat you over the head with it. 

I have to admit that I haven't started using this yet - I'm saving it for sometime when I need a pick-me-up, but I'm looking forward to giving it a try. I think my favourite scent is the Citrus Hand Wash. It's a subtle, refreshing scent that I could just sit and sniff all day long. I'm also looking forward to trying the shower gel and body polish, followed by body lotion, which are all rose and geranium scented. For some reason, this smells particularly British to me.

So if you're in England, going to England or just looking for something fantastic to buy online, check out Neal's Yard. Definitely a great present!

xo M.

Eye Primer - What Is It, Why Wear It, and Which Is Best?

When you first start becoming interested in makeup, it starts with the obvious things. Bright lipsticks. Dark eyeliners. Then, if you're like me, you started to explore all the other products - the ones that were harder to figure out. You may have wondered what on earth primer was, or what all the different brushes did, or when and how to use lip exfoliators or gel eyeliners.

One of the most puzzling items I encountered was eye primer. Now, of course, I couldn't live without it. So, what is eye primer, and what does it do? Well, there are three main purposes of eye primer:
  1. To provide an even base colour that will either act as a blank canvas for the true colour of a shadow to show on or as a colour that will augment a particular tint within a shadow;
  2. To give eyeshadow something to cling to so that you can get maximum pigmentation and build colour; and
  3. To set shadow in place and act as a barrier between pigment and skin's natural oils, thus preventing creasing and holding colour in place all day.
A good primer will do all of these things. Of course, a good primer isn't easy to find - and what works for one person may not work as well for another. There are several (including some cult favourites), so I'll list some and outline my own personal experiences with them, and what I consider to be their pros and cons.

Before I launch into my opinion of the products, let me tell you a bit about my eyes that will help you to determine whether you are likely to find the same issues and benefits I did with these products.First of all, I have quite small eyelids, so I don't have a large area to work with. I have what you might call "hooded" eyes - meaning that the lid folds nearly entirely over itself when I open my eyes. This leads to a terrible problem with creasing. There are almost no cream shadows out there that I can wear for more than an hour or two without shadow collecting in my crease line and looking completely ridiculous. I have dry skin (I can only imagine how much worse it would be if it were oily), but my eyes are sensitive and easily irritated, so I have to be careful about what I use on them. All of these factors affect the performance of my eye makeup and which primers work best for me.

Now, on to the products!

Urban Decay Primer Potion
The first, and probably most well-known, is the Urban Decay Primer Potion. The main problem with this primer, which is a great product, was the container. It came in a dip-stick twist-top container that made it nearly impossible to get the last of the product out. It also meant using a doe-foot applicator on the eye area and then dipping it right back into the product - thus increasing the chances of transferring harmful bacteria. I never applied it directly to the eyes - just dabbed it on a clean ring finger. Now they've come out with a squeeze tube, which is a huge improvement - both from the point of view of hygiene and product use.

As for the product itself, I'd give it an 80. For two reasons. First, it's quite translucent. While this is fine most of the time, it does mean that you don't get that opaque, even base to work with, and it doesn't help colour to pop the same way. The second is that it didn't do the best job for me in preventing creasing. It lasted a work day, so pretty respectable, but there are others that I have found to last most of the evening as well. However, many people swear by it, so it's worth a try if you're looking for the right one for you!

Smashbox Photo Finish Lid Primer
The next is Smashbox Photo Finish Lid Primer. This one I'd probably give about a 75. It's more opaque than the UDPP, so it's a better base for colour. However I found that it was a bit of an oilier feeling formulation, so creasing tended to happen by the end of a work day, if not a bit before (depending also on the shadow used). It also has the doe-foot applicator and the issues that accompany it. I got it free in a Smashbox palette, and I'm glad I got to give it a try, but it's not going to be my go-to primer.

Too Faced Shadow Insurance
Next is Too Faced Shadow Insurance. I have to admit that this is pretty much my holy grail - so far! I like the squeeze tube for ease and hygiene, and the product itself is great. It isn't as opaque as the Smashbox or MAC Paint Pots (hold on  - we're getting there!), so it doesn't provide the best colour base - but that's fine by me. I'm pale skinned to begin with, so really, how much lighter does it need to get? What I love about this stuff is that you need the tiniest possible amount and the effect will last all day long flawlessly. I've had a tube of this for over a year, using it nearly daily, and it's still got some left. Though it might seem pricey at first - bear this in mind. Ends up being incredible value for money.

Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow
Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadows aren't technically eye primers - but then again, neither are MAC Paint Pots (still getting there!). And they're very similar. Remember how I said that I can't wear cream shadows? These and paint pots are the exception to that rule. Why? Because they set rock solid. Okay, not literally, but you get my meaning. Once they're on there, they're not going anywhere. Bobbi Brown has some great neutral shades that are gorgeous, and I'd recommend trying them out if you get a chance. The down side is that they really are quite pricey - the pots are much smaller than the MAC ones, and if memory serves they cost 1.5 times as much. If you've got the money, though, by all means have at 'er.

MAC Paint Pots
Okay, it's finally time to talk about MAC Paint Pots. I know a lot of you will swear by them, and others think they're disappointing - for one reason or another. So here are my pros and cons. First of all, these provide a flawless base in terms of colour. Pick one that's close to your skin tone (Painterly for me, perhaps Groundwork or Quite Natural for darker skintones, and Soft Ochre for really pale skin or skin with yellow undertones) if you want a natural base that will give you even pigment. If you want a primer that will show the truest colour of your shadow, go with a light one like Soft Ochre - remember, even if it doesn't match your skin, the shadow will completely cover it by the time you're done. It's just a matter of how that shadow looks.

Another big plus for the Paint Pots is that they go on as cream and set. Though it can be frustrating to work with them because you have to move fast, this means that they have a tacky (slightly sticky) texture when they go on, so shadows and pigments - even glitter - will cling to the surface. When they dry, everything is locked in place.

Also they come in a range of shades, and limited edition shades often turn up in collections. It's actually pretty amazing how dramatically you can change the accent colour in a shadow by using  different base colour under it, and having such a wide range of shades that I've collected (everything from neutral to blue to coral to black) means that I can create endless variety with my shadows.

There are a couple of things to bear in mind with these, however. They don't necessarily prevent creasing, so if this is a big issue for you, proceed with caution! I've found that sometimes they're fine, other times they're a disaster. Not sure if it's the weather, how much I apply (word to the wise - you want to apply enough to create an even base, but if you pile too much on it won't dry properly and will slide around) or the combination of shadow and Paint Pot, but sometimes they keep going and going, other times I'm a hot mess by the end of the day.

Nars Pro-Prime
Finally, a primer I only recently discovered. I've written a whole review of it here, so I'll keep it brief. The Nars Pro-Prime has the same unfortunate doe-foot applicator fiasco as the old UDPP and the Smashbox primer. It is quite translucent, so doesn't provide a colour base. However - it is great for preventing creasing! Which, given my issues, is top priority for me.  I'll sacrifice everything else for crease-free lids any day of the week. So this has my vote. It might even be better than the Too Faced - but I've only used it a couple of times so far, so I'm still deciding. At any rate, definitely worth trying if you have the same problems as me - and if you can afford it - this shit ain't cheap!

I hope this was helpful to those of you who wondered what on earth eye primer was and thought it was a gimmicky non-product. If my own opinions of individual products was also useful - even better! I'd love to hear what you think and which primers you swear by, so feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments!

Until next time...

xo M.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bobbi Brown - Rich Lip Color SPF12

L-R: Old Hollywood, Rose Blossom, Crimson, Mod Pink, Cosmic Raspberry 

If you're an avid YouTuber and makeup fanatic (and let's face it, if you're reading this, you probably are), you may have come across Bobbi Brown's video introducing her Rich Lip Color SPF 12 lipsticks:

They look beautiful, don't they? I discovered them when I read Temptalia's review and saw this picture:

 Cosmic Raspberry (photo by Temptalia)
You all know how obsessed I am with pink lipstick, so of course I NEEDED this IMMEDIATELY if not sooner. The real drag? They don't sell them in Canada. You heard me, as beautiful as they are, you can't get them here. So if you want to try these out, you're going to have to get creative. Find a friend who is going to the States or an online site that will ship to Canada (which I still haven't managed to do).

But however you manage it, get your eager little hands on a couple of these. As you can see, I snagged a few, and while not all of them have become favourites, I do find myself reaching for Cosmic Raspberry frequently when I'm looking for a bright pop of colour. Mod pink is a little too peachy for me, but rose blossom is great if you want a neutral pink look. Old Hollywood is exactly the (quint)essential, glamorous red that you'd want it to be. It looks beautiful with a dramatic, dark eyeliner.

And finally, we have Crimson. This is a very dark burgundy shade - that quite frankly scared me a bit when I first opened it. However, Bobbi's right - you can build it to make it more subtle or super dramatic. Here's a cool video I found yesterday that might help you figure out how if you're having trouble:

The final word? I really like these. They're nearly-matte, but they're not drying. I find them easy to apply and work with, and they don't need constant upkeep (though bear in mind that the more intense or dark a colour, the more often you'll need to touch up!). If you get a chance to pick some up, I'd definitely recommend it. I'll update this pots if I hear anything about them becoming available in Canada - which I very much hope they will!

Packaging: 5/5 
Product quality: 5/5
Worth the price? Perhaps. These are a bit pricey. If you have the cash, they're worth it. If you're on a drugstore budget, these might not be worth the scrimping and saving!
Would I purchase again? Yes. In fact, I must admit to having a backup of Cosmic Raspberry!

Cruelty-Free? Still looking into it.
Where to find it: Bobbi Brown stores and online. Nordstrom's in store and online.(Note: Canadian Bobbi Brown retailers do not carry this product at this time, and neither online site will ship to Canada.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Nars - Pro Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base

This came in a package of Nars eye products, along with mascara, eye makeup remover and a liquid eyeliner pen. At first, I didn't really get excited about it. I tried the other products, threw this in a drawer, and pretty much forgot about it. Then one day I was rooting around in my drawer looking for an eyeshadow, and my hand closed around this. I thought, "hey, why not?" So I tried it out.

Now, eyeshadows are a challenge for me. I have a lot of problems with creasing, and even some of the best shadow primers don't work for me all day long (don't hate me, but UDPP is one of them).

So you can imagine my surprise when this worked like a dream. It went on smoothly, it did a great job of holding my shadow in place - and, best of all, it lasted all day. I don't think it will replace my Too Faced Shadow Insurance (mainly because it's quite expensive and I'm not a fan of applicators that go back into the product - easier to contaminate with bacteria that way) but I'm definitely glad I gave it a try!

Packaging: 3/5 
Product quality: 5/5
Worth the price? It's good, but not better than cheaper alternatives. If you really like Nars, or if you find it as part of a package, give it a try. If you're on a budget, stick to one of the cheaper alternatives.
Would I purchase again? Possibly.

Cruelty-Free? Still looking into it.
Where to find it: Nars online.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Nars - Eyeshadows (Duos and Singles)

Nars Shadow Duos

It's taken me awhile to warm up to Nars. The first shadows I bought were hard to work with and had crappy colour payoff. I persevered, however, and discovered that over time, they seemed to loosen up and I could collect more powder per brush stroke, and the payoff improved. I've been experimenting with different Nars shadows - both singles and duos since. Here are the results.

 L-R: Elsa, Brumes, Underworld
  • Elsa: I just got this one, and honestly I haven't used it much yet. The shades are light blue and lilac, with a frosty finish. I think they'd be great over other colours to add a subtle shimmer, or as a subtle wash. 
  • Brumes: This is one of my favourites. Both colours are matte, one is a greyed mid-tone brown, and the other is a bluish-grey slate colour. I like using them instead of pencil or cream liner along the lash line for a softer daytime look. 
  • Underworld: I love the name of this duo - and it's perfect for the shades. One is an ethereal pale silver, the other is a rich, deep blue shimmer. They're great together, but can also be worn alone or with other shadows. I love the sheen the silver carries, and it wears into the lid well.
Clockwise from top: Cheyenne, Kalahari, Bohemian Gold
  • Cheyenne: The burgundy in this duo is beautiful and it works well with purples or mauves. I find shades like this look stunning on hazel and green eyes, since the red undertones will draw out the green in the eyes. The orange tone doesn't appeal to me all that much - I don't tent to use oranges - but if you're into them, this is a nice one.
  • Kalahari: This is the first Nars duo I ever purchased. I didn't like this all that much at first as I found that it was hard to get good payoff. But over time using it seemed to loosen up the powder a bit and it's easier to work with now (this has been the case for a few Nars shadows). These really need a base to make the most of their colour, though. The shade on the left is a neutral bronze brown that I love alone or paired with slightly darker shades. The other shade is a lovely bruised plum that has a hint of purple and looks amazing on hazel eyes. Again, great as a neutral daytime shade!
  • Bohemian Gold: This is an interesting duo. The darker orange (though, as I said, I'm not big on oranges) has a slight pink duochrome and is quite a unique shade. The lighter peach shade, however, I absolutely love on the lid with a black line for a simple, elegant look. It's deceptive in the pan, though. It seems quite neutral, but when applied the orange pops out and it looks more peach than expected.
Clockwise from top: Wicked, Star Sailor, Caravaggio
  • Wicked: I'm assuming this is based on the book/musical, since it has a light green and shimmery white. Honestly it's more of a gimmick duo than anything else, and it doesn't really stand out from the collection.
  • Star Sailor: This duo reminds me of olive and moss. The lighter shade is a gold mustard, while the other is a deep green/brown shimmer. Wearable, and would complement hazel and brown eyes beautifully.
  • Caravaggio: Super bright! If you want dramatic shades and are someone who likes to make a bold statement with your shadow, this is for you. The purple can be toned down if layered or paired with mauve shades. Be careful with the pink if you have pale skin, because anything that's deep pink or red-based can make eyes look tired and irritated.

 Clockwise from top: Ondine, Night Fever, Night Porter, New York, Nepal

I only have a few Nars single shadows because I tend to think they're quite pricey, despite being a good amount of product. There are a few nice shades, however:
  • Ondine: Light lilac/mauve with gold shimmer. This one reminds me of MAC's Trax, only much cooler and without the slight berry tinge.
  • Night Fever: Black with red shimmer. This is nearly an exact dupe for MAC's Beauty Marked. Similarly, this must be pressed onto a tacky base (like a paint pot) to show up the red in it, and does better on a black base. 
  • Night Porter: Like Night Fever, only with green shimmer instead of red and more green tone to the base colour. Dark forest green that can be used for a green smoky eye - quite a unique shade.
  • New York: I absolutely love this shade. It's one of the only matte Nars shadows I have, and it's a truly gorgeous muted plum red earthtone. 
  • Nepal: This was the first Nars shadow I ever purchased. It's a pretty neutral colour - pink/beige shimmer. I like this all over the lid with a dark, strong line for a classic look. 
I'd recommend proceeding with caution when purchasing Nars shadows. They don't always give the best payoff, and some are strictly for the adventurous type! They're quite pricey - though you get a fair amount of product for your dollar - so they're not for those who prefer to keep their makeups to the basics and the best value for money. Given their price, I wouldn't recommend stretching your beauty dollars for these over other high-end brands. At the very least, I recommend playing with them a bit in the store and viewing swatches in daylight before committing.

Packaging: 5/5
Product quality: 4/5 (quality of shadows varies - some are great, some are hard to work with)
Worth the price? Some I'd say definitely, but not all of them, since they're very pricey. Purchase with caution if you're on a budget!
Would I purchase again? It's hard to say. They do come with a lot of product, so they'll last a long time. Which is good, considering the cost.

Cruelty-Free? Still looking into it.
Where to find it: Sephora in store and online. Nars online. The Bay department store (Nars Counter).

Thursday, September 15, 2011

MAC Posh Paradise

MAC's second new collection of awesomeness has hit the stores! Of course, I couldn't resist. Here's what I bought:

  • Nubile Paint Pot - Neutral peach shade. Reminds me of Painterly, but Painterly is a bit more pink than peach. I absolutely love this under a neutral shimmer with a heavy black line - and, like any paint pot, it lasts all day long.
  • Hyperviolet Paint Pot - This is quite a unique paint pot shade. It's matte purple, and very, very dark. If you pick this one up (and I highly recommend that you do), spend some time playing with it. Here's what I got when I did:
 L-R: Sketch, Star Violet, Twinks, 100 Strokes 
You can see how the colours really pop (particularly the purple tones in Star Violet). Very fun to play with!
  • Idyllic Paint Pot - This reminds me a little of Artifact Paint Pot, but with more of a rusty red tone than purpled burgundy.
  • Rare Exotic Mattene - True fuschia - this is not for the faint at heart! I love this colour, but you really get noticed in it!
  • Deliciously Forbidden Mattene - This is a muted dusty dark pink that can work for daytime or can be applied with a heavier hand in the evening. Note: Though Mattenes are supposed to be less drying than regular matte lipsticks, they are still quite drying. I found that my lips got pretty flaky and application became uneven after a few re-applications. If you have trouble with dry lips, you might want to stick with more of a creme finish.
There were so many beautiful things, and I had trouble keeping to just these things. Here's what the whole collection looks like:

Packaging: 5/5 
Product quality: 5/5
Worth the price? Yep.
Would I purchase again? I bought a backup of Nubile and I'm certain I'd eventually collect all of the Paint Pots were they permanent!

Cruelty-Free? Yes - appears on PETA's Cruelty-Free list.
Where to find it: MAC in store and online.

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