Saturday, December 29, 2012


You might have noticed that I've been missing from this blog for... well, a long time now. It's not because I've lost interest in the topic - quite the opposite, I feel like I have lots to share! The main problem? I moved in the summer, and while my new house is amazing in many respects, lighting for taking pictures is not one of them.

The old apartment got full sun through most of the windows for part of the day - and even when there wasn't sun, it still got decent light. I'm an amateur, so I have no studio lights (nor do I have the money go purchase any), so the lack of light has really caused problems for me. I love swatching products because I know I find them hugely helpful, so without the ability to swatch products, I'm at a bit of a loss.

I have a ton of products I'm simply dying to review, and a lot of ideas I'd like to explore. I'm just not sure how to resolve this problem. I've played around with different lights in different rooms at different times of day, and nothing seems to work. So please excuse my absence and, going forward, what I expect to be a pretty dismal photo quality for my products. I'm going to do my best, but they will be in artificial and not nearly bright enough light. Hopefully you'll get some use out of them all the same, and the second I win the lottery, I'll buy proper lights!

If anyone has any feedback as to whether you'd like product reviews without original pictures or any creative (and cheap) lighting suggestions, please let me know! I miss sharing with you guys!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Product Review: Lorac Eye Candy Full Face Collection

I didn't go crazy with holiday palettes this year - in fact I didn't plan on getting any of them.  But I've fallen in love with Lorac since trying out their Unzipped palette, and this box was so cute I just couldn't resist! It's packaged to look like a box of chocolates, only even more delicious! Inside are 5 mini palettes, each with four colours and a handy mirror - pefect for popping in your purse for touch ups. I particularly like this considering that one of the palettes is a lip and cheek palette. While I rarely touch up my face or eyes during the day, lips do take a bit more work. I never use lip products that come as part of palettes because I have no way of carrying it with me to add more colour!

 Mesmerizing Dark Chocolate Cream Eye Liner Pal

The first palette is four beautiful cream eyeliners (and as you can see, I couldn't resist diving straight in and giving it a go!). There's a navy blue, plum purple, dark brown and black. They apply smoothly, are easy to blend in and last pretty well - though not as well as gel liners. They're a bit more like a kohl than a liquid liner.

Clockwise from top left: Ooh La La Vanilla Nude Eye Shadow Palette, 
Tantalizing Cocoa Bronze Eye Shadow Palette, Caramel Love Affair Golden Eye Shadow Palette, 
and Blackberry Truffle Seduction Smokey Eye Shadow Palette

The four shadow palettes are the main reason I caved and got this little beauty in the first place. So many beautiful - and wearable - colours! Because of my horrible lighting situation, it's hard to tell the subtle differences, and at first glance I'm sure you're thinking, "Silly girl. Probably doesn't even realize she put in two pictures of the same palette." Well, as a matter of fact, I didn't. Ooh La La Vanilla and Tantalizing Cocoa do look quite similar, but there are subtle differences. The palest shade is a bit more frosty in Vanilla, while the Cocoa shade is a bit more warm and peachy. The neutral shade second from left is more pink in the Vanilla and more orangey in Cocoa. Second from left is actually matte in Vanilla, in addition to being less purple, and the darkest shade is very dark brown in Cocoa while the Vanilla version is more of a plummy brown. I love all of them, but I have to admit, I'm not sure why they decided to go with such similar shades! If I can ever figure out lighting in my new place, I'll try some swatches, but the photos I took were abysmal.

And finally, the Cheek & Lip palette:

Indulge in Berry Kisses Cheek & Lip Tint Palette

This palette is a surprising success in my book. The colours are a great range (there's only one I'll never be able to get away with - the coral on the left) and though they're in pans, they're not glossy or stickly. They are a beautiful creamy texture that blends in evenly leaving a wonderful blush of colour. I haven't used them on the cheeks yet, but on the lips they're gorgeous. Predictably, my favourite is the bright pink on the far right!

Overall this palette is a wonderful one, and I have absolutely no regrets in getting it! The shadows have Lorac's usual amazing pigmentation and payoff, not to mention the smooth, blendable texture one hopes for in a shadow. The liners are wearable and last well, and the lip/cheek colours are a beautiful range. If you only get yourself one palette this season, this should be it!

Packaging: 5/5
Product quality: 5/5 for the shadows, 4/5 for the liners (do move around a little bit) and 5/5 for the lip colours
Worth the price? Yes!
Would I purchase again? Probably would, but it's limited edition!

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

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Top of the MAC

At some point, pretty much every beauty blogger has to write a post about their MAC starter kit. They're all slightly different, but they all have a few items you'd expect. Realistically, you could throw a dart at these posts and it wouldn't really matter which one it hit. Well, I'm about to change all that. Because my list is the RIGHT one. Really.

I myself didn't start using MAC products until a few years ago. Of course, now I can't really imagine living without them! Like anyone, I have my all-time faves. Please bear in mind that these are based on my skintone, colour preferences and preferred tools. I'll try to mention things that will be useful for most people, but if you have darker skin, chances are my colour picks won't all work for you.

(Note: I don't have a good place to take photos at the moment - on top of which, since these are my faves, my own products listed here are well-loved! I took all these images directly from the MAC website, and each image is linked to the page for that product - just click to start shopping!)

1. 217 Brush

Of all the brushes in my collection, this one gets the most use. Why, you ask? Good question. Not only is it wonderfully soft, but it is the perfect size and shape to blend out shadows in the crease. If used in small circular motions - or even swept back and forth in a windshield-wiper motion - it will blend out the edges of your lid shade perfectly.

2. Wedge and Brule eyeshadows

These are two that work for my skin tone specifically. As much as I love makeup, I prefer a more neutral look during the day when I'm at work. I'll often use a neutral shade on the lid, such as Sable or Satin Taupe, and blend it out with Wedge in the crease. Brule is a near-perfect match for my skintone, so I use it on the brow bone blended into the Wedge. If your skintone is different to mine, you'll need to find the shadows that suit you best.

3. Mineralize Skinfinish Natural

It's hard to find a powder that doesn't just sit on the skin leaving a powdery residue, particularly since I've got dry skin. It took me years to find one that I liked - and this is it! Not only does it match my skintone perfectly, but because it's a mineral powder, it gives skin a healthy, natural glow instead of being a flat, matte powder. Great for setting foundation for the evening or wearing during the day for minimal coverage!

4. Satin Taupe Eyeshadow

I truly believe that this shadow looks great on EVERYONE. It was the very first thing I bought from MAC for a reason!

5. Rebel Lipstick

You might not think so to look at it, but this lipstick is versatile and universally flattering. It can be applied as a stain using fingers or a brush, layered with gloss for a nice berry pout or applied liberally for an intense pop of colour. It's such a gorgeous shade that has berry tones and pink in it, and is the perfect accent to a dramatic yet simple kitten flick liner.

6. 239 Brush

This one is flat but with a bit of fluff to it (unlike the stiff concealer brushes), and is small enough to control where shadow is placed. It is perfect for applying colour to the lid - picks up just enough product if you tap excess off gently, has a bit of an edge to work shadow into the lash line, and allows for a lot of control. Must-have!

7. Blue Brown Pigment

You may be surprised to see this one on the list - and I debated leaving it off - but I just love it. It's a beautiful reddy-brown with metallic green duochrome. But it's a shade of green that just gives a lovely shimmer for a night out and isn't at all garish. I also think it looks lovely (though slightly different) on pretty much every skintone! 

8. Smolder Eye Kohl

Who can live without a black, smudgeable kohl? This one is the ultimate - it's soft enough to work into the lashline and smudge without pulling uncomfortably at the skin, but not so soft that it goes everywhere! Wonderful for that sexy smokey eye! (I also like Coffee eye pencil instead of black for more neutral daytime looks. It's not as soft as Smolder, so it can be used for both the lashline and the waterline. Love!)

9. Blacktrack Fluidline

Sometimes liquid liner is a bit too tricky to work with - whether you're a beginner with the cat eye, have trouble with the applicator or just don't feel steady enough to use it on a given day. Gel liner (and cream liners, but that's a whole other post) is a wonderful alternative! MAC's Fluidline is one of the best - if not THE best - gel liner you can get. It doesn't dry out in the jar quickly as long as you put the lid on tightly, it glides on without a hint of tugging, it doesn't set quite as fast as liquid liner, so if you're quick with the Q-Tip you can correct it, and you can pick whichever brush shape is easiest for you. And once on, it will stay put without any transfer, and stay there all day long! You have to try it, if you haven't already!

10. False Lashes Mascara - Extreme Black

This mascara is perfect for my lashes. They're about medium length, so I can even wear this in the daytime, but if I build it up it's dramatic enough to wear in the evening, too. I like that the brush is narrower than PlushLash, so it applies a bit less product with each brush stroke, so I can control how much goes on more easily. It's also easier to work into the roots of the lashes without blobbing it! The formula itself is wonderful - doesn't irritate my eyes or dry out in the tube.

BONUS - Brush Cleanser

So this isn't technically a makeup item, but it's SO IMPORTANT! There are many reasons to take good care of your brushes (for a full post on this, click here), not least of which are hygiene and longevity. MAC's brush cleaner does a great job of getting every last bit of makeup residue out of your brushes, and leaves them feeling soft and supple.

Hopefully some of these will be helpful recommendations for you! What are your faves?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Lorac - Unzipped Palette

 I was watching some YouTube makeup videos the other day and in one of them I saw a beautiful palette that included both shimmer and matte shades - all of them gorgeous! So I forayed to my local Sephora and came home with the gorgeous Lorac Unzipped palette.

Top L-R: Undercover, Unbelievable, Unattainable, Unconditional, Unbridled
Bottom L-R: Undiscovered, Unreal, Uncensored, Unspoken, Untamed

I first tried Lorac when I caved and bought their Bejewelled Night & Day Jewelry Box. The main selling point for me (not the box itself, which I found a bit kitschy and that showered me with annoying glitter) was the eyeshadow. There were two palettes with absolutely gorgeous shades, and they turned out to be even better on than they looked in the pan. The Unzipped palette lives up to this initial Lorac shadow experience, with equally gorgeous shades that go together wonderfully and look beautiful:

L-R: Undercover, Undiscovered, Unbelievable, Unreal, 
Unattainable, Uncensored, Unconditional, Unspoken, Unbridled, Untamed

The pan size in the palette is pretty decent - a bit larger than in the Urban Decay Book of Shadows collections. It's small enough to pack if you're going away somewhere, and has enough variation that you can create many different looks. I think the shades included would work on most skintones, with some experimentation.

I haven't yet tried the primer that came with the kit (it's a mini), but I'll update this post once I've given it a go! All in all, even without the primer, this palette is definitely worth picking up!

Packaging: 5/5
Product quality: 5/5 for the shadows - will let you know about the primer!
Worth the price? Yes!
Would I purchase again? Yes.

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

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Shop MAC

I have to admit that when the flyer for this collection arrived in the mail, I didn't really get the concept. And in all honesty, I still don't. That said, however, I did manage to pick up a few items that I absolutely love. It started with Added Goodness, one of the new fluidlines. It's a wonderful shade of muddy grey-taupe that looks excellent as a thick, flicked line with a neutral lid for a daytime look. After seeing some swatches online, I absolutely had to have it. (Confession? I bought a backup, too ;)

Top left - Wholesome Fluidline, bottom right - Added Goodness Fluidline 

Because by the time I got my act together to decide what I wanted my local MAC stores were sold out, I ordered online. So I figured might as well check out what else they've got.... and that's how Wholesome came about. I have Dipdown, which is a deep brown and goes on pretty dark, but definitely still brown. Wholesome is much darker - sort of like the difference between milk and dark chocolate. It looks nearly black, but goes on just a little bit warmer. So if you love winged liner but feel like you can't quite pull of opaque black - give this one a go!

L-R: Added Goodness and Wholesome Fluidlines

Then (because you know how much I looooove a pink lipstick) I stumbled on Dish It Up. It really reminds me of Total Wow, which was a dark berry glaze that was sadly discontinued, but it's lustre so it has more of a sheen to it. It's also a bit more on the pink side than the berry. I really like it for a daytime lip - it's got a pop of colour, but not too intense.

 Lipstick in Dish It Up and Tendertone in Hot 'n' Saucy

The final product I picked up was one of the Tendertone lip glosses - Hot 'n' Saucy. It's a maraschino cherry red sheer lip gloss that goes on with just a hint of colour and isn't at all sticky. Rather than the trademark MAC vanilla scent, this has a fruity scent, which is nice to start with, but it has an after-scent similar to MAC's potted lip conditioners, which is a bit ... something. Chemically? Medicated? I don't know how to describe it, but I find it a little offputting. So if you're sensitive to the lip conditioner scent, you may want to give this one a miss. Because it's sheer and thin, it feels great on the lips, but wears off relatively quickly. So bear that in mind - you'll need to bring it with you to re-apply. The other down side for me is that it's in the same containers as the paint pots - glass. So it's a little heavier and, if you're clumsy like I am, might make you a little nervous if you're touching up on the go.

L-R: Tendertone in Hot 'n' Saucy and lipstick in Dish It Up

So far my favourites, in case you can't tell, are the Added Goodness Fluidline - it's just so different from any other cream liner I have - and Dish It Up lipstick. Tendertone I'm glad I tried, but am still unsure about, and Wholesome I think is a great alternative to black, but definitely not a must-have if you're weighing up which items you'd like to get. This collection is selling out fast - so check out your local MAC (and online) before you miss your chance!

Packaging: 4/5 (I'd prefer that the Tendertone was in a plastic tub - I'm always dropping things!)
Product quality: 5/5
Worth the price? Yes - particularly for the Fluidlines which last forever.
Would I purchase again? Yes for Dish It Up and Added Goodness, maybe for the other two.

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

Monday, February 27, 2012

Makeup Hits of the 2012 Oscars

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a huge fan of the Oscars. Particularly in the last couple of years. Sometimes I enjoy laughing at particularly ridiculous dresses or the odd embarassing or touching moment, but for the most part I pretend they're not happening. With one exception. The day after the event, I love scrolling through website after website featuring the makeup of the stars - the glamourous, the flashy and the just plain tragic! Because I'm not (totally) mean-spirited, this year I've just picked the top 10 looks - from the natural beauty to the red-hot smokin' diva!

10.  Jennifer Lopez
My enjoyment of J-Lo comes and goes, depending on if I'm in a bronzer phase or not, but I liked her look for the Oscars this year - understated, but with a cut crease eye look that added a little twist to an otherwise unremarkable (though beautiful) red carpet look.

9. Emma Stone

Overall I wasn't super crazy about Emma's look - disappointing because I am in serious like with this girl. Her sense of humour, her voice, her sexpot yet still girl next door look... but this just didn't work for me. I still think she's gorgeous, however, and I do love a good kitten flick liner!

8. Michelle Williams

Gotta love that the girl stuck with the pixie cut and added a playful, girlish pink lip rather than playing up her Marilyn! That just would have been a bit too on the nose - though stunning, of course.

 7. Mila Jovovich

Ah, Mila. She won my heart in Fifth Element (so did that magic makeup machine) and I think she is just stunning. This makeup look helped.

6. Viola Davis

I love this woman. There is just something eminently likeable about her. She's someone who seems capable and reliable - yet still a whole bushel of fun. Take her understated, all natural hair offset with emerald green liner for the Oscars this year. Somehow this totally worked!

5. Penelope Cruz

I have never been a fan of her acting, but damn does the girl clean up good! I love Penelope's subtle face that draws full attention to her smoldering eyes - which are, in my opinion, one of her best features.

4. Jessica Chastain

I'm not a huge celeb follower, so I honestly have no idea who this lady is. But when looking through Oscar photos this year, hers always made me pause for a moment and just take it in. Her hair and dress offset each other perfectly, and I love how her pale brows and skin really make that flick of black liner pop! Just gorgeous.

 3. Rooney Mara

Love. Love the bangs, love the marble skin, love the intense brows and LOVE the bright lip! The full effect is so clean and polished. Not a thing I'd change!

2. Kristen Wiig

Kristen Wiig creeps up on you. She doesn't necessarily make a huge impression the first time you see her, but every time she pops up, you fall in love with her just a little bit more. I love her understated beauty, and her ability to go all chameleon and pull off everything from girl next door to roller-derby hot mama! I really enjoyed her au naturel look for the Oscars this year - here's a lady who doesn't need full on glam to look her best!

1. Angelina Jolie

I have to say, as predictable as it might be, my absolute favourite was Angelina Jolie. I loved her sultry smokey eye with just a hint of warm bronze, offset by a classic red lip - too bad about the whole leg fiasco or she would have been pure perfection!

Overall I thought there were some wonderful looks gracing the red carpet this year - though I was sorry not to see Mila Kunis, whose look topped my list last year! Who did you miss? What looks were most memorable for you? Whose look would you die for?

xo M.

Monday, February 20, 2012

MAC Pro Longwear Eyeshadows

Clockwise from Bottom Left: Keep Your Cool, Sweet Satisfaction, 
Lie Low, Make Your Mark, Legendary Black

 Anyone who knows anything about me will know that I LOVE eyeshadow. I mean, I love makeup in general, but eyeshadow is my particular weakness. I'm always looking for unique shades, textures and finishes. I like blending, pairing and experimenting with it as eyeliner.

So I've been eyeing (excuse the pun) these shadows for quite some time, and have finally collected a few to share with you guys!

I got these five:

L-R: Sweet Satisfaction, Lie Low, Make Your Mark, 
Keep Your Cool, Legendary Black

  • Sweet Satisfaction: This is a great neutral daytime shade, one that can be used to blend out a darker shade, on the lid with a darker crease colour, or as an all-over base. 
  • Lie Low: Lie Low is a fabulous warm-toned neutral brown that I think particularly suits us pale ladies. I like it over the entire lid - either blended out with Wedge in the crease for a daytime look or paired with a darker shade like Make Your Mark in the crease for more drama.
  • Make Your Mark: It's a darker shade, which reminds me a little of Carbonized from the MAC Me Over collection. Aside from being a great crease shade, it can be used to line the upper and lower lashline with a lighter lid colour for daytime, and can even be smoked out around the lashes for an evening look. Beautiful!
  • Keep Your Cool: Keep Your Cool reminds me of Smut - it has a similar blending of various shades, making it a complex, warm-toned, mauved grey/brown. Like Make Your Mark, this can either be used to play up the eyes or for understated lining during the daytime. 
  • Legendary Black: This isn't really black at all. At least, not in my opinion. It's almost more of a blackened bronze colour. This one is very difficult to describe - but I think it's worth getting simply because I haven't seen another shadow like it before. I like this one over a dark liquid liner or to smoke out at night.
As the name implies, these shadows were created for the Pro line and are intended to last alllll damn day (and night). As someone who struggles with creasing, I will try anything that might save me from becoming a hot mess by the end of the day! So far these have been great. 

Though these shadows are a bit pricey, at $24.00 CAD per shadow, they're also HUGE. If you remember the Mega Metal shadow collection MAC came out with, you can use that as a comparison point - these are exactly the same size.

For those of you who prefer numbers, these contain 3.4 g or 0.11 US oz. Compare this to their regular shadow that cost $18.00 CAD (or $14.00 CAD for a refill pan) and contain 1.5 g or 0.05 US oz. This means they have more than double the product for an extra $6-10. A deal by anyone's reckoning!

These are Pro shadows, but they're available at some MAC regular storefronts as well as their online site. I highly recommend checking them out!

Packaging: 4/5
Product quality: 5/5
Worth the price? Definitely!
Would I purchase again? Yes.

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

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The When, How & Why of Brush Cleaning

Few things are as important as cleaning your brushes regularly. For one thing, it stops them from getting germy - particularly the brushes you use for the eye area or for liquid products. For another, it keeps the bristles in good condition. Not to mention the fact that if you don't clean your brushes, they just won't work properly!

But how often is the right amount of washing? It varies. Many articles I've read seem to recommend a thorough washing once a month. I don't think that's enough. I find that even after a week, my brushes start to become saturated - particularly the ones used for foundation and concealer. I don't have a set washing schedule, but I try to wash my brushes every week or week and a half - two weeks at the absolute outside.Not only does this help me avoid eye irritation, but it makes sure my brushes are working as they're supposed to!

Now that I've told you the when and why of brush cleaning, it's time to get onto the really important stuff - how. Washing your brushes isn't like washing the dishes (and you DEFINITELY don't want to throw them in the dishwasher!). If you want your brushes to last you for years to come, you need to make sure that you're doing it right.

The first step is to pick a cleaning product. Many makeup lines have brush cleaner (I use MAC's) that is specially formulated to sterilize the brushes - which is even more important if you ever do someone else's makeup with them - and to maintain the condition of the bristles. If you don't want to splurge on a fancy brush cleaner, pick up a gentle baby shampoo - this will still clean as needed, but will also make sure that you're not using a harsh product that will make the bristles dry out and crack.

If you're using a liquid brush cleaner you can apply a few drops to a damp brush (use warm water, not piping hot) and swirl them gently in the palm of your hand - taking care not to mash or bend the bristles by pressing directly down. Then rinse and gently squeeze excess water from the bristles without pulling on them.

When drying your brushes, generally it is best to lay them flat on a clean facecloth - ideally with the bristles poking out over the edge of a counter so that air can circulate properly and dry the brushes faster. What you don't want is to dry them by placing them up-ended in a cup or container. This will make water drain down into the brush handles and can damage the glue that holds the bristles in place and, if the handle is wood, even cause it to swell and crack. So make sure to wait until your brushes are thoroughly dried before putting them back into a brush holder!

Follow these rules and you'll be able to make your brushes last for ages - and get the best application out of them!

xo M.
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