Posts Tagged cosmetics

30 Days of Decluttering

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I’ve been talking for ages about trying to pare down my makeup collection, by both using things up as well as slowing down my purchasing of new products (and may I just say – I have only bought ONE color makeup item over the past three months [the YSL Golden Gloss] – that deserves an award!), but now it’s time to get serious. I’ve decided to embark on a 30 day decluttering project, in which I have to get rid of a beauty item a day for 30 days. This could mean using up an item; giving away a shade I never wear but keep hanging on to for no good reason; tossing old, expired products; etc. It includes both makeup, skin/hair care, and nail polish – basically any beauty cosmetics I own.


To start off with a bang, these are a handful of products that I’m going to dedicate time to finishing – they’re nearly done already, and were the inspiration to start this challenge. Beginning something like this with a few products already ‘ready’ to go is a bit of a cheat, but eh – the results are still the same really, and it gives me an extra incentive to really use these up!




I’m beginning the challenge tomorrow – Friday, January 30th – and ending it on February 28th. I plan to track my progress on Instagram daily, so you can keep up with me there – or better yet, join me! #30daydeclutter

I’m excited to get cracking on this! Skincare is easy, as I usually only have just my current rotation of products with not much duplication (eg. only a couple cleansers, moisturizers, oils, treatments etc. at a time). Makeup, on the other hand, is much harder to part with – even if it’s a shade or formulation that doesn’t really work for me. I have been slowly pulling items from my collection and really scrutinizing whether they should be there or not – no point keeping stuff that I don’t love/wear – but it’s still hard to part with products that were purchased with my hard-earned cash. I just keep telling myself that the more I let go that just doesn’t DO it for me, the more new products I can buy that do!


Time to get ruthless….wish me luck!!

Anyone else in the process of decluttering / reducing their beauty stash?

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Switching It Up: Clean Beauty and a New Laptop!

So last night I got a little crazy and bought myself a new MacBook Air.  Yep, sure did!  Impulse purchase, ho! 😛  To be fair, I’d been saving for it for a while, and was planning to buy it in the next month or so anyway – but perhaps with a bit more planning in mind.  Needless to say, ITS FRICKIN’ AWESOME.  Light as a feather, and super-fast.  If you recall, my old laptop crashed last year shortly after I came back from NZ.  Even though I had the hard drive replaced, it was still sluggish due to it’s 5+ year lifespan.  Time for an upgrade, yea???


There are also other things I’m switching up lately, namely my skincare routine.  Slowly but surely, I’ve been finding myself more and more drawn  to organic cosmetics – and over the past month, I’ve decided to fully make the switch. I’ve been using up my current arsenal of products and bit by bit have been purchasing new items to replace the old.  The reason for the switch was – literally – pretty simple.  With my eczema and skin care sensitivities, I started researching products that had fewer ingredients and were free of artificial fragrances – essentially, items that were as pared down and basic as you could get.  The less going on, the less chance for irritation, right?  So, as I’m nit-picking my way through ingredients lists on just about anything and everything, naturally organic products kept coming up in my search due to their beautifully simple nature.  On top of that, I happened to stumble upon two blogs that essentially made me start lemming every organic and green beauty product on the market: No More Dirty Looks, which is a chic and fun blog that showcases readers skincare routines, and reviews some of the more well-known organic brands such as Kahina Giving Beauty, RMS, and One Love Organics; and Seed to Serum, which I found through another blog (can’t remember which one!) but which has a TON of information about a variety of green brands, popular to lesser-known (Aster & Bay products sound amazing – and you can order samples first!), as well as posts highlighting different organic ingredients and their benefits.  She’s pretty much tried all it all it seems, and my list of ‘to buy’ items has expanded exponentially since coming across her blog a mere month ago.

Atlanta Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | Aster & BayAster & Bay…how can you not love that visual!?

Revamping your whole skincare routine can be a big task, and while the research that goes into choosing products is exhaustive, I’m fortunate that I don’t have a whole lot of ‘excess’ product to get through first, so that I’m able to replace as I go without having a stockpile of soon-to-be-unloved items cluttering up my bathroom.  However, I will say that because there are just SO MANY lovely sounding products to try, my streamlined routine could get backlogged real quick.  However, as it stands now, I’m not doing too bad.  I started with Stark Skincare’s Grapefruit Cleanse + Hydrate Balm (which is fab and an amazing multitasker – review forthcoming), and last week I added a trio of Pai products: the Geranium & Thistle Combination Skin Cream, Rosehip BioRegenerate Fruit & Seed Oil Blend + Vitamin E, and Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser (the latter which was a freebie thrown in when you buy a Pai skincare cream from Fresh Faced).  So far so good on all three, but it’s too early to tell just yet.  I have high hopes!  Oh yea, and I also picked up a Konjac sponge to try out – I can’t tell if it’s doing much of anything really, but its a cute little thing and it works well to massage my cleanser into my skin every morning so hey – rituals like that are kinda nice! 🙂

The massive wish list I’ve been compiling while I’ve been doing a ton of research probably needs to be shared.  That’ll be in my next post though, as it’s gonna be a doozy!  Prepare thyself.

Have you dabbled in green beauty products yet?  Are you jumping right in like I am, or more of a slow starter?  Or do you think organic beauty is a bunch of hooey?

Oh yea, and you only have two more days to enter our Beauty Envy Bag giveaway!!

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A Stupidly Large Empties Post (Prepare Thyself)

I’m just going to start by letting out a huge ~GROAN~ before beginning this post.  OMG dudes.  I’ve been putting this off for AGES and it’s going to get crazy.  I suggest getting comfortable with multiple snacks and a beverage of your choice.  Let’s get ‘er done.

Empties #1 2013 (2)Bustin’ out my empties bag!

Part of the reason I’ve taken so long to post this is because I have had so many products thisclose to being finished, and just when its used up, another takes it’s place.  I’ve got a handful sitting on my counter that are probably going to be done in a week or so, but I can’t wait any longer – and honestly, I’m in the business of entertaining you, not wasting all of your time and punishing your eyes and scrolling fingers.  So here we are!

Empties #1 2013

I’ve said this far too many times and not held my word, but seriously – I’m going to keep the wordiness to a minimum.  Let’s start with makeup this time, since that’s always what I find most difficult to finish:

Empties #1 2013 - Makeup

OK.  The good: I finished 4 eyeliners!  UD’s 24/7 in Crash (shimmering eggplant), Lise Watier’s Gold Eyeshine (which is so old that it kept smushing down into the pencil so I’m turfing it), and two black shades (Tarte Starry Night and MUFE 0L, both which were fine, but smudged more than I’d like).  I’ve since bought Chanel’s Noir Intense waterproof liner to replace the two blacks, and so far so good.  Also good is Clinique’s Bottom Lash mascara, which seems SO gimmicky but which is actually awesome.  The Chanel bi-phase remover is a sample and was good but nothing crazy.

The bad (or just OK): MUFE’s Star Collection gloss in S4 – smooth and not too sticky, but it has this weird cast to it that could make me look dead if worn to heavily.  The Revlon lip butter in Peach Parfait still has enough that I could eke out a few more uses, but I won’t.  HATED the gritty shimmer in this!  The white tube is a primer by Jay Manuel’s line (which I have no idea if it exists anymore or not), that I never used at all.  Toss!  Lastly, the MAC Haute & Naughty mascara I bought while en route to NZ.  For the first month, this was great, albeit a little clumpy due to so much product on the brush.  I found as time passed, it got worse, and ended up that the brush looked like this:

MAC Haute & Naughty (2)

ICK.  Pass!

Anyway, not bad as far as things go, eh?  Next, let’s look at facial skincare:

Empties #1 2013 - Facial Skincare

I’ve reviewed the 100% Pure eye cream, Pangea Organics masque, and Shiseido toner previously and my thoughts still stand on those (which is to say, overall good impressions), but I won’t repurchase.  The Clarins Sun SPF30 eye cream is my 2nd or 3rd tube, and as always I think it’s great.  I don’t know if I’ll repurchase, just because I might just start using sunscreen around my eye area (I use only physical sunscreens, like the ones in the Clarins, which cause less irritation I find), but you never know!  Speaking of physical sunscreens, this is also my 2nd or 3rd tube of the Clinique City Block Sheer SPF25, and I’ll continue to use it unless I can find something similar that doesn’t make oily in summer – I find this still *slightly* heavy.  The Clinique Super Rescue cream for combo-to-dry skin is a nice moisturizer, but I find it only gives hydration (and antioxidants – can’t beat that!), and I like something that will aid in smoothing my skin as well, as I tend to have slight roughness from my eczema. I have another tube but probably won’t open that till next winter.  The Boscia Make Up Break Up remover is nice enough and effective, but I probably wouldn’t get a full size, as I still use a cleanser afterward because I find it can irritate my skin a little otherwise.  The Clinique Even Better Lotion SPF20 is actually a lot nicer than I gave it credit for before I tried it.  It’s hydrating but not oily and it made my skin look really good while I was using it.  My skin is still doing well but I don’t think it’s AS nice as it was since using this up.  I might order this on my next gratis.

Some samples:

Empties #1 2013 - Samples

I bought a handful of these MaskerAide masques before Christmas and used one per week.  I really liked them – they were easy to use and gave great hydration without breaking me out or being too heavy.  I’d definitely buy them again.  The Elizabeth Grant Eye Power Pads were one of those random beauty items I get from my aunt, and I’ve had them for ages.  One day I decided to use them, and it was nice!  I didn’t notice a big difference in anything, as I don’t have much in the way of wrinkles yet, but it was a treat and they were hydrating.  The Kniepp muscle gel was great for tired legs after working a shift at Clinique or a hard run, and if I was feeling spendy one day I’d probably buy it to have on hand.

Almost done, are you still with me!?  Let’s move on to body products:

Empties #1 2013 - Body Cream

This is my most triumphant success in terms of empties.  The Hawaiian Tropic Aftersun and the B&BW Vanilla Bean Noel lotions I’ve had for SO EFFING LONG – the B&BW lotion was my very first swap EVER (back in 2008).  Because they’re so scented, I didn’t wear them often, or in very specific, less sensitive areas like my feet and chest (which isn’t sensitive somehow!).  I finally finished them both last month and I’m so stoked – I now have NO scented lotions kicking around, and I don’t plan to ever again!  I’ll just go the much safer route and just wear perfume.  Sweet 🙂

The iconic Kiehl’s Creme de Corps lotion is always a nice luxury to have, and it was effective as ever, though FAR too pricey for my needy body.  I would repurchase is my budget allowed it though!  Although in saying that, I’ve found my holy grail body moisturizer in Haus of Gloi’s pumpkin butter in Aether – honestly, I can’t see myself buying anything else.  It smells good for being non-scented, and it works like a dream on my finicky skin.  I love it with all my heart.  Aveeno’s Moisturizing Lotion used to be my go-to, but I’m SO over it now.  It just doesn’t work as well!  The Clinique Deep Comfort hand cream is quite nice and if you’re looking for a great moisturizer to tote around, this is a great option – hydrating, absorbs well after a few minutes, and lasts.   And it’s unscented 🙂

Empties #1 2013 - Shower

The last time I ordered a few Aether pumpkin butters, I also picked up a couple 2oz jars of Haus of Gloi’s Bubbling Scrubs.  This one in Satyr was lovely!  Its a sweet, warm, edible scent which some may not like but is right up my alley.  And it gives a nice light exfoliation on my sensitive skin, which I usually avoid, but which I can indulge in with these scrubs.  Yay!  The Hugo Naturals body wash smelled lovely (natural scents) but something about it I didn’t like, so I wouldn’t repurchase.  The star here is the Organix Macadamia Oil conditioner, which is absolutely PERFECT for my crazy-curly, mega-dry hair.  I hate that it comes in a smaller container, as I went through it pretty quickly, but I would repurchase even though it’s $8 and lasts only a month or so for me.  I usually buy jumbo sizes of conditioner because I need so much, but this is worth the cost, as it really hydrates, and is a bit heavy (so, those with fine hair steer clear) which is just what my hair needs.  LOVE.

Ok.  Wrapping things up, I have a couple fragrance samples!

Empties #1 2013 - perfume samples

I got Angel as a sample when I got my mom’s bottle refilled for her birthday last year.  I know it’s a hate it or love it scent for most, but for me I actually am in the middle.  I don’t think it’s ‘my’ scent, but I do like it – I think because of the associations with my mother.  It really works on her and when I smell it I feel cozy 🙂  The Lancome fragrance however, La Vie Est Belle, IS ‘my’ fragrance – it’s got the same tones with vanilla being predominant (I’m definitely a Gourmand fragrance wearer), and smells FANTASTIC on me.  Initially I wasn’t sure if I liked it enough to buy a bottle, but over the past couple weeks I had three men tell me I smelled good (in an almost surprized way, like “You smell really good” and looking sort of shocked like, ‘oh wow, yum’) so I’m taking that as a sign.  Its the first fragrance I’ve found in a while that really does it for me.  FYI the notes are: black currant & pear (top); iris, jasmine, & orange blossom (middle); tonka bean, vanilla, praline, and patchouli (base).  I think the reason I was initially unsure is that I’m not a huge fan of orange blossom in fragrance, but the inclusion of vanilla and iris (iris being in 3 of my favorite scents, interestingly) end up making it a winner.  I’m just finishing up my second sample of this and will buy a bottle as soon as I’m able.

So there you have it!  In the past three months, those are the products I managed to finish.  Not too shabby, huh?  My skincare for face and body particularly has been seriously streamlined, and I don’t have anything ‘extra’ in either.  Makeup of course is an ongoing battle to use up products I’m not madly in love with, but I’m getting there!  It’s an ongoing process, and you are all probably familiar with.  Moving forward I hope to post these monthly to keep on top of things!

Empties #1 2013 (3)

Have you tried any of these products?  What are your thoughts?  Any skincare products you’ve found to be absolute winners?

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My First Foray Into Japanese Cosmetics – KATE Real Create Eyes Palette

While I was in NZ (how many times have I said that on the blog now?  A billion?), I was for the first time in as long as I can remember, totally unfocused on makeup and skincare and generally all the pretty things I consume myself with in a normal day here at home.  However, while killing time in Auckland one day, I was browsing a Japanese cosmetics store in a mall there and happened to see these cute little shadow palettes for sale.  The line was KATE, a drugstore-level sub-brand by Kanebo (the same company that produces the lines LUNASOL and SENSAI).  Not having tried any Japanese brands before (and hearing so many great things about them), I figured I’d pick one up to try.

Kate Real Create Eyes BR-2 (4)

Debuting in 1997, KATE’s brand motto is ‘No More Rules,’ forgoing conventional makeup trends to adopt a more contemporary and urban take on beauty products.  It turns out that eye makeup is a hallmark of the brand, so I’m pleased that I seemed to make a good choice.  The product I purchased is one of the Real Create Eyes eyeshadow palettes, which are designed to create ‘naturally contoured large eyes‘ and do so with ‘clear, soft-transmitting colors and a deep monotone colors.’  I purchased mine for $35NZ (about $29CAD), and it contains 5 eyeshadow shades in similar tones and varying finishes.

Kate Real Create Eyes BR-2Sunlight

Kate Real Create Eyes BR-2 (3)With flash

The palette I chose was in ‘shade’ BR-2, which I guess stands for Brown and the 2nd of three different brown-toned palettes (out of five – there is also a green-toned and blue-toned one too).  As you can see, there is a pearly shade on the top left (which has a cream formula – all the rest are powder); a dark, cool brown in the top right; a creamy white-gold in the bottom right; a warm champagne shade bottom left; and a beige-taupe shade in the middle.

Kate Eyeshadow Palette BR-2 SunlightSunlight (See how gorgeous the white-gold shade is? [last swatch on right])

Kate Eyeshadow Palette BR-2 FlashWith flash

Kate Eyeshadow Palette BR-2 Arificial LightArtificial light

I’ve had this palette now for two months, and have just started to use it now.  And boy, what I was missing!!  I am generally not a fan of palettes because usually one or two (or more, depending on the size) shades don’t get used, and I feel like it’s just taking up space.  But this one is small and compact, the shades aren’t terribly large (which might be a drawback for some, but not for me!), and I find each shade extremely wearable.  The formula of the powders are soft but not powdery, terribly smooth, and apply easily with medium pigmentation.  They are ‘sheer’ colors: as in, they look very natural when worn, and though they all contain shimmer it is not glaringly obvious or metallic in any way, so quite office-appropriate if that is a concern.  The most densely pigmented shade is the white-gold, which happens to be my favorite and I’ve been wearing it as my inner eye highlight almost every day now.  It’s got a slight duochrome-y-ness to it that I LOVE, and it’s just so smooth and shimmery without being too sparkly.

Kate Eyeshadow Palette BR-2 (2) Kate Eyeshadow Palette BR-2

It gives the most wonderful glow to the eye and is just the right balance of cool and warm, so that I can wear it with pretty much any eye makeup.  Above, aside from the white-gold, I’m wearing the champagne from lash line to crease, the deep brown in the crease and on the bottom lash line, and the taupe to blend.  You can see how naturally it all wears and blends together.  I’ve worn these shadows twice now without primer and experienced excellent staying power with only slight fading over the course of the day.

I have yet to use the cream formula, though I’m intrigued to see how it will work.  Here is a closer swatch:

Kate BR-2 Eyeshadow Glow Color

I don’t know if it’ll apply so ‘sheen-y’ to the eye and with such a whitish-pink hue.  I did swatch it heavily to show the tone so I suspect it will be subtle.  I plan on trying it tonight so we’ll see how it goes!  It feels smooth, not gritty at all, and is slightly tacky but not gummy in the least.

Kate Real Create EyesIndications on the back of the plastic packaging box on where each shade should be placed on the eye. ‘A’ which is the cream ‘glow’ color, doesn’t have a specific area noted but I’m sure it explains it in the text…which of course I cannot read 😦

I’m super-enamoured with this palette overall, I love how the tones and finishes provide an eye-opening effect so easily.  For the white-gold alone I would buy this palette; it’s like nothing I own and I often find frustration with pale colors that others can use in the inner corners because they often run too cool or frosty on me.  I can see myself already gravitating toward these shadows on a daily basis, which is highly unusual for this fickle gal.  The only issue I have is the packaging, which I actually like the look of, but which feels quite flimsy.  However, I did drop this the other day (argh!  I hate when I do that!), and the top of the case came off, but was able to just snap back in place without incident, and none of the shades were broken.  So maybe it’s not such a bad setup after all…?

Kate Real Create Eyes BR-2 (2)

Unfortunately, when I looked up online where to buy KATE aside from Asia (where it’s sold in most countries), there did not seem to be any other locations available and no online option.  However, I suspect that if you are in a store like the one I was in, that specializes in Asian cosmetics,  you might get lucky.  I would highly recommend taking a look if you have that option, as these shadows/palettes are absolutely lovely and at an entirely reasonable price given the quality.

Update: Lovely reader Mimi let me know that you can purchase KATE online at adambeauty, among other Japanese cosmetics brands!  I just did a ‘trial run’ to see how it would all work, and it looks like you could buy this palette for $15US plus $2US shipping (international).  CRAZY!!!  I’m  half-tempted to pick up a few other palettes myself!  She notes that sometimes products are out of stock, but for the prices I don’t know that I’d be all that bothered to just keep checking back.  Another site she’s checked out (but not shopped from yet) is gooddealer, which appears to have brands like Shiseido and Kose, as well as KATE – though it doesn’t seem exceptionally user-friendly.  Anyway, so not all is lost if you’d like to get your hands on this or other Japanese brands!

Have you tried KATE before?  What has been your experience with Japanese brands?  Do you have any to recommend?

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Boxing Day Sale at!

Hi everyone!  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and are still enjoying time with loved ones, and maybe playing a little bit with any fun stuff you received 🙂  I myself woke up today to remember that I could brew a nice cuppa with my new Keurig coffee brewer – woooooo!!!  I never get gadgets for Christmas but this is one that I totally can get down with!

I just wanted to let you know quickly that is having a Boxing Day sale today – 20% off almost every single brand (with just a couple exceptions)!  I have been culling WAY back on makeup and cosmetics shopping but I might give in just for this deal – I do have a few items I need to get.  Here are my suggestions for some products to try:

1. Consonant’s Organic Foaming Face Wash, reg. $18CAD, today $14.40CAD I’ve been using this for the past couple months and LOVE the way it cleanses my skin while leaving it actually feeling hydrated, and not stripped, but still clean.  Usually foams get used up fast but I still have about half of the bottle left! consonant-facewash

2. Clarisonic Mia 2 Next Generation Sonic Cleansing System, reg. $175CAD, today $140CAD I don’t own this system but I keep thinking I should; seems I’m behind the times as everyone else I know (um…in the blogging world anyway, in my day-to-day life, not so much :P) has one and swears by it!  If you missed grabbing this during the Sephora VIB sale like I did, this could be your chance!Clarisonic Mia 2

3. butter London 3 Free Lacquers in Snog, Royal Navy, Henley Regatta, Come to Bed Red, and Bossy Boots; reg. $17CAD, today $13.60CADIf you recall, I absolutely ADORE Snog (top 5 fave nail colors!), and Come to Bed Red is a staple red in my collection.  I just bought Royal Navy a couple weeks ago and LOVE it, and was sorely tempted to also buy Henley Regatta – now might be my chance!  Last spring I kept passing up Bossy Boots but I kept wishing I hadn’t – with Spring collections coming out right about now, I might go for it this time around!butter-london-3-free-lacquer-bossy-boots-spring-summer-2012

4. Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Treatment Mask, reg. $34.50CAD, today $27.60CADThis is a New Zealand skincare line that I just found on eBeauty, and I so want to try it!  Manuka Honey has some majorly intense healing and antibacterial qualities, more so than regular honey, and is a big deal in NZ.  Since its wintertime, hydration is key and I’m in the market for a new mask – score!antipodes-aura-manuka-honey-mask

5. Philip B. White Truffle Nourishing and Conditioning Creme, reg. $82.50CAD, today $66CADThis has been on my wishlist forEVER, but I can never justify spending so much money on a conditioner.  I still don’t know if I can give in to this insanely high price even with the discount, but if you’re looking to spoil yourself, this is supposed to be the creme de la creme of leave-in treatments!Philip B

6. theBalm FratBoy Shadow Blush, reg. $22CAD, today $17.60CADI really like the two shades of theBalm blush I already have, and am a sucker for corals (who isn’t), so I’m tempted to pick this up.  They also have the Meet Matt(e) ($29.20CAD from $36.50CAD) and the Nude ‘Tude ($30.40CAD from $38CAD) palettes available, both of which have gotten excellent reviews across the blogosphere!theBalm Frat Boy Blush

7. John Masters Organics Lavender Avocado Intensive Conditioner, reg. $31CAD, today $24.80CADHere is one item I actually need – a deep conditioner.  My favorite yet, Earth Science’s Olive & Avocado Deep Conditioning Masque, is not sold at my local green grocers anymore, so I had to find a new one.  John Masters is an eco-conscious hair line and this conditioner sounds amazing.  I was going to pick it up in January, but with about $6 off, I’m not going to wait until then!John Masters Lavender & Avocado

8. Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM, reg. $71.50CAD, today $57.20CADAnother enduring wishlist purchase, you’ve heard me say before how much I want to incorporate retinol into my skincare routine.  This product seems to fit the bill perfectly!  Interestingly, it costs $75CAD at Sephora so you’re already getting a slight bargain buying it from eBeauty in the first place!ptr-retinol-fusion19. Senna Cosmetics Sheer Face Color Pressed Powder Blush, reg. $20.50CAD, today $16.40CADI first heard about Senna Cosmetics via Makeup Morsels, then went gaga over a couple of their blush featured on theNotice, Rae’s “OMG-SO-AMAZING” claims which were backed up by Eye Heart It.  I didn’t even realize the brand was sold on eBeauty, so when I did I snapped up ‘Clarity’ (the blush that won Rae’s heart) in a flash.  Senna Clarity blush10. Japonesque Makeup BrushesI’m trying hard to focus less on purchasing makeup and more on application tools, and have a list of a few brushes I lack.  The Japonesque line seems to be of good quality and reasonably priced, so with a 20% discount,  you can’t go wrong!


There are also a few other key brands to check out!  I’ve heard nothing but good things about Kevyn Aucoin’s makeup from Becca at The Beauty Sample; all styles are available of the Katy Perry Lashes, which continues to be one of my most viewed posts; and Vasanti, a Canadian line, is also carried by the e-tailer, and is also supposed to be quite lovely.  They also have the RMS Beauty line, so if  you’ve been wanting to try the popular ‘Un Cover-Up,‘ here’s your chance!


So, off you go!  The offer is only on until 11:59pm EST, and shipping is free within Canada on all orders of $50 or more!  Enjoy, my lovelies!! 😀

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I’m Ba-ack!!! So….Whatcha Been Up to Lately???

Well, hello there!  It’s been uh, a long, LONG time since I’ve been around, no?  And I left without barely saying goodbye, please forgive me!  The days leading up to my trip to New Zealand were absolutely insane – all the plans I had for pre-trip posts and a handful of scheduled posts pretty much went right out the window, unfortunately.  It was a truly stressful week – thankfully at the end of it I was on vacation for 5 weeks 😀  How’s everyone been doing since I left!?

A rainbow just outside of Queenstown, NZ

I won’t go into major detail about the trip, because this IS a beauty blog after all – and it’s hard to sum up 5 weeks of some of the best times of my life!  It was an absolutely amazing, wonderful, fantastic time, and I can’t wait till my next adventure (no, I don’t have anything planned yet but I hope to soon!).  I made some truly solid, lasting friendships with people from all over (most notably: Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, and even some fellow Canadians!); saw some of the most beautiful landscapes; did some daredevil stunts (SO unlike me!); and even had a wee bit of a romance 😉  I even got a tattoo (I will post pics!)!  I guess I could summarize the trip by saying, I got majorly out of my comfort zone and did things I never thought I’d do, and I came back a better person for it all.  It was the trip of a lifetime, and in all honesty, I struggled to come home.  But alas, here I am! 😀

90 Mile Beach in the Bay of Islands, NZ

One thing I did NOT do, was think much about beauty (for shame!).  I wore minimal makeup on the best of days (most days I skipped it altogether) – opting for concealer, mascara, and a dab of cream blush when I did wear any.  If we went to a bar, I put on a bit of black eyeliner to really go crazy (lol).  I wore my hair au natural without any product most days, and actually loved how it looked – kind of beachy-kinky.  Unfortunately, I’m trying to recreate the look now that I’m home and it is NOT working for me – it’s too humid here, and it just does NOT look the same.  Boo 😦  Anyway, makeup etc. was the furthest thing from my mind on this trip (though I confess when I was in the LAX airport en route to NZ with 7 hours to spare, I DID buy a MAC mascara – Haute ‘n’ Naughty – because I was planning to buy it when I returned, and with duty free and the price difference ($23.50CAD vs $20US), I ended up saving $7-8 bucks – sweet!  Will review soon!).  Oh, I’m lying, I did buy one other thing, but I think I might use it for a giveaway soon, so I’m gonna keep that to myself for now!

Pauanui, in the Coromandel Penninsula of NZ.  Check out that hair!  No product whatsoever 🙂

Anyway, enough rambling – time for pictures!  Since this could easily get lengthy, in this post I’m just going to summarize the ‘beauty’ portion of the trip – tomorrow I will post actual photos of New Zealand itself 😀  (I know, waiting sucks, but it’s tough to find time when you’re majorly jetlagged – I keep sleeping in till the afternoon :S – and trying to fit in seeing everyone again…it’s crazy-busy!).

What I packed for cosmetics:

I put Bumble & Bumble deep conditioner in the Ojon jar, TIGI styling lotion in the Aveda container, and TRESemme conditioner in the Bioderma container lol (reuse and recycle!).  Everything in this picture was entirely used except for all of the styling lotion – still some left!

The Curel lotion was used up in about two weeks, max – I had to give in a purchase a small Aveeno lotion to get me through the rest of the trip.  I’m just finishing the Glysomed hand cream, the Dove soap is still kickin’, and I barely used the Vichy sunscreen – I know, I know, and they have a big ol’ hole in the ozone layer over NZ which on bad days can burn you in 2.5 minutes (no, I’m not exaggerating, this is fact!), but dudes – it was pretty damn chilly there!  I wore sleeves and pants almost every single day… 😦  The Burt’s Bees cuticle cream took a beating, and the deodorant was entirely used up, it lasted *just* until I made it home!

I bought the travel size of the Purity cleanser before I left – even though I’m leery of the ingredients, I still really like this cleanser and don’t have any issues with it.  The Simple cleansing cloths I had bought a while ago but had only used a handful – these were awesome when you were out in the wilderness or if you were sharing a bathroom/shower and wanted to get it done quickfast.  They also served as my exfoliant on the trip, and worked quite well! 

My trusty facial SPF standby, Clinique’s City Block Sheer, is still going despite using it every day; the Clarins Sun eye cream is on it’s last legs and expired at the end of Oct so it’s going in the trash now.  The little pot beneath it is my 100% Pure Coffee Bean Caffeine eye cream, which I squirted into this container – I used almost the entire pot to try and combat those late, excessively boozy nights of which I had FAR too many.  Vaseline – the cureall, and of course not even near finished.  Next to it is Weleda’s Almond Facial Lotion, which was very nice and which I used up completely.  The Clinique Dramatically Different Lotion and the Moisture Surge samples I’ve finished only since I got home, though note I did have TWO of the Moisture Surge packed.  I used the Clinique Even Better SPF20 sample up the first week I got to NZ as the weather was still cold enough to justify a heavier moisturizer.  I carried the La Roche Posay moisturizer sample around with me everywhere and dabbed it on when needed – that tiny thing lasted about two weeks!  Lastly, the sample of Clinique’s All About Eyes serum I used in the AM and it’s still probably half full, it lasts ages!

In an effort to get rid of the millions of perfume samples I have, I brought a handful with me – but forgot to apply it most of the time!  As such, I only used up the Escada sample (last one on the right), which was a sweet scent and perfect for summer (not that it was quite summer in NZ…brrr!).  The rest (3 Jo Malone and 1 Bond No.9) were worn sporadically, and still are quite full :S

Lastly, we have the makeup.  I also threw in a green Urban Decay 24/7 liner in the mix just before I left for a little color, which I did wear sometimes on the lower lash line when we went out.  For the most part though, I just wore one of the two Bobbi Brown Pot Rouges (or sometimes both at once), a touch of mascara, and concealer (which I forgot to feature here).  When we went to a bar, I’d add one of the two black liners, a bit of foundation (in the contact lense case – learned that trick online somewhere!), and some lip gloss.  Out of all this makeup, which was mainly the dregs of my collection – items that were near done or which I wanted to use up – NOTHING was finished, because of the infrequency of wear.  DAMN.  The samples of primers, the loose shadow in the jar, and the sample Burberry lippies weren’t even touched.  BOO 😦

I stored all my makeup in this little case:

Cute, eh?  Don’t know where I got it, but it was the perfect size, and I liked being able to see what was where. 

I think my cosmetics stash was pretty reasonable for five weeks, for a beauty junkie – don’t you?  Actually, one day I was unpacking my whole backpack (which I had to do EVERY day because it only opened from the top – super annoying!), and the girls in my room were shocked at how little stuff I had overall.  It sounds great, but honestly I was NOT prepared – for all the partying!  I had brought one black tank top, one dressy sleeveless shirt, one pair of jeans, and two dresses (each of which I wore only once because it was NOT a dress kind of trip) for ‘going out’ clothes.  I had NO idea that I would be out dancing my ass off at bars and clubs for half of the trip…FAIL.  I thought I’d be off hiking every damn day, not getting wasted in Queenstown at World Bar where drinks are served in teapots, or singing kareoke at the Establishment bar in Wellington!  Not one other person packed as ‘practically’ as I did, either.  Dammit all to hell.  Ah well, I still had the BEST time a gal could have! (but I did buy a whole new outfit once I returned to Auckland near the end of my trip – at least ONE night I was well dressed lol).

My totally awesome new pants, as part of my brand new outfit – that got only one use while away lol

Alright, that’s it for this installment – I go back to work tomorrow, and actually have to get up at a respectable time!  I will post photos of the actual trip tomorrow!  In all fairness, this IS a beauty blog, so I had to get the business side out of the way first 🙂

I’m really glad to be back, I missed you all!  I can’t wait to catch up on the goings-on in the beauty/blogging world, I hope I didn’t miss anything too crazy!  Let me know all the gossip – and what I NEED to know regarding makeup collections, etc.  I am so MAJORLY out of the loop!!!!

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Brain (& Beauty) Overload

I’m writing this on my Blackberry as I’m walking home (I’m so gonna get run over)…..I’m feeling stressed – something I don’t experience too often. I’m high-energy, and I may seemed wound-up more often than not, but its just my excitable nature. Real stress – the kind that makes your stomach feel tight and makes you short of breath – that’s just not my bag. But, nonetheless, I’m feeling its effects now. I’m also feeling ridiculous, because what I’m about to confess sounds ridiculous, but honestly – this knot in my stomach is due to cosmetics.Now wait, and hear me out. Some of you won’t be able to relate to this at all – and that’s ok. Because some of you will hear me loud and clear, and once again I find myself so thankful that I’ve found this community of amazing people who share my enduring obsession for all things beauty. I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat myself regardless – its so comforting to find people like me who have a passion for cosmetics but who are not at all vapid, superficial, vain (well…), or otherwise one-note personalities who think that ‘looking good’ is the ultimate goal. Its not about that. I’m not going to get into detail about what ‘IT’ ‘is because those of you who get it know what I mean. Anyway, steering back towards the point…There is such a saturation of product in the market today. New technology, in-depth knowledge and trends are constantly updated and are divulged in a constant stream to anyone with even a mild interest. I try to take in this information with a discerning eye and filter out what doesn’t apply to my skin tone, type, and personal preference.  However, sometimes it gets so overwhelming!  There are so many amazing brands and products I want to try, but there is only so much I can hoard and only so much money in the bank.  Not to mention that on a fairly regular basis, I look at what I DO have and become anxious as to how I’m ever going to use it all.  Despite the stressful feelings, these are the moments when I have the most clarity at how absurd this can all get, if I let it. The real problem here is the dichotomy of emotions I have – one moment wanting, the other shunning the whole deal.  I go on a spending spree, then feeling guilt over the unnecessary expense and horror of my ever-expanding stash.  Just this morning, I decided that I didn’t need anything else for a while, that I was at max capacity; only a few short hours later, I was compiling a list of blushes I’d like to buy in the next couple months.  This is the epitome of my dualistic nature, in which I can change my mind about three times in a matter of minutes.  I don’t know how to rectify this, if it’s even possible – my love for cosmetics is eternal, without a doubt, my so too will be my dislike for excess (and likely my pitiful bank account).  The only way I’ve found that helps is through disclosure, and the empathy of others (hint hint) – this has always been the way I deal with things: write it down, relate, and move on.  Hopefully at some point I can come to a place where I find balance between these two, and have fun trying new things without feeling overwhelmed at what I already own.

Does anyone else experience this, or am I on my own? (help me out here, guys :P)

FYI: The pics shown are of my actual stash of cosmetics (for the most part), aside from my nail polish collection. 



Will Wonders Never Cease – I’m Downsizing!!

Oh yeah baby.  My very own empties post.  *insert wild applause here*

My friend Liz at Beauty Reductionista has been rocking these out on a regular basis lately and really giving her readers something to aspire to and admire.  It’s not easy to reduce the load of products we often accumulate over time – typically, the load increases more and more, and if you’re like me, it only serves to weigh us down with guilt and anxiety; how are we ever going to use it all up?!  So, when we do begin to pare down our stash and begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel – or, more realistically, see an opportunity for us to buy more stuff without feeling so guilty 😛 – we gotta celebrate that, right??

Not only have I been trying to lessen the load to make way for new product, but I’ve also been trying to streamline my regime to some degree.  This month, my kickoff month, I decided that I was only allow to purchase a new product after getting rid of 10 others.  The official term for this is called ‘Project Ten Pan,’ an idea originated by lollipop26, a makeup guru on Youtube.  I first heard about this through Liz as well, and instantly had to read up on it.  The gist is that you have to use up 10 beauty products before you buy anything else.  While it’s not reasonable for me to try to do this every time for the rest of my life – c’mon, be serious here! – I figured I could do it for a month at least, and so far have been exceptionally successful.  I’ve only purchased one, yes ONE!, beauty product this month (NARS Grand Palais duo – to be reviewed soon!), and below is the reason for this celebration – 10 products finished!  Hoorah, hooray!

Without further ado, let’s get to it:First up, Aveeno’s Active Naturals Eczema Care Cream.  This is actually my second tube and I’m just about to buy a third.  It doesn’t last long – maybe a month, unfortunately – but it kicks some MAJOR butt on my eczema and makes my skin super-ridiculously soft.  It’s totally worth the $8.49 every month for that alone!  No scent, absorbs quickly, too easy!Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief.  I received this in a gratis from Clinique a while back.  I generally always have some of this on hand, it’s great for my sensitive skin as it’s oil-free and aloe based.  Doesn’t do much but make the skin feel hydrated and soothed.  It doesn’t repair the moisture barrier so it’s really more of a treat than a treatment.  Nonetheless, if my skin is feeling parched, its one of the first things I reach for.  This size jar (75mL) is $57CDN.  No scent.TRESemme Naturals Nourishing Moisture Conditioner.  I’ve reviewed this before here.  Still my fave conditioner, but it lasted forever because it’s a monster tube and I just got bored.  I think I’ll go back to it though, the new stuff I’m using by Dove is flaring my eczema up I think.  I never had an issue with this.  Around $6CDN for this HUGE container of it, and it just plain works awesome.  And no ‘cones!First, Clinique Turnaround Concentrate ($47CDN).  I reviewed the Turnaround Body Smoothing Cream here.  Same premise, it exfoliates to uncover newer, brighter, smoother skin.  Really terrific.  Its very gentle (easy on my sensitive skin) but works wonders.  It keeps breakouts at bay, my skin soft and smooth, and my skintone even.  Perfect!

Second, Clinique Super Rescue Antioxidant Night Moisturizer in Combination Oily ($46CDN).  Oil-free, no-fuss hydrating moisturizer that repairs skin cell damage through the antioxidants (which are time-released) to prevent and slow aging.  It also repairs the moisture barrier of skin so it’s stays hydrated and is better protected against external aggressors on the skin (pollution, sunlight, extreme weather).  Of course, I can’t say if it’s preventing aging really – I don’t have a whole lot of signs of aging yet – but it’s good to my skin and keeps it hydrated and supple.  I’m on the hunt for a new moisturizer though, I get bored!  And, excuse the cut packaging, I forgot to take a photo before I used the tube entirely – gotta get out every last drop! 😛Urban Decay Primer Potion, on the left ($23CDN).  This was THE eyelid primer to get back a few years ago, until every other line started making them too and there was much more competition.  I still think this is one of the front runners – it is extremely effective at keeping your makeup in place – but I find it intensifies my shadows so much, and not necessarily in a good way (shimmer becomes SUPER gaudy shimmer).  And it has a slight color, which isn’t a huge deal, but my current primer – NARS Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Base – has no color and keeps my shadows true to pan.  There’s a place for both primers I suppose, but for now I’ll stick with the NARS version which is equally effective.

Next, the ubiquitous Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer ($44CDN).  Another HG for many in the past, but again has been somewhat unsurped by newer formulations recently.  I never loved this primer, and perhaps you can see I didn’t entirely finish the bottle – I didn’t like the way it sometimes would pill and ball up on the skin, and it is soo silicone-y!!  I feel like used on a regular basis, this would majorly break people out.  It’s effective but not my cup of tea. One of my fave products ever, Jack Black’s Intense Therapy Lip Balm SPF 25 in Lemon Chamomile.  Also reviewed here.  Smells SOO good and feels great on the lips.  Has quite a bit of slip, and you only need a dab, but it keeps my lips hydrated and smooth without fail.  For around $10CDN its a tad steep but it lasts ages to I’ll continue to buy these regularly.

Hiding underneath is an old MAC liquid liner in Black.  A friend gave this to me because she just couldn’t master the liquid liner technique, so I’m not sure how much is cost – and in any case, it’s been long discontinued.  This lasted forEVER and was really easy to use.  It didn’t have the best staying power, so if I did a ‘flick’ at the end of my lash line, it often ran or smudged throughout the day, but it still was a standby for a quick eye look.  If you’re looking for something similar, I’d recommend Make Up For Ever’s liquid liners which are about $26CDN and AMAZING with superlong wear.Last but not least, my beloved container of Jojoba Oil.  I’ve been using this for everything, it’s such an amazing multi-tasker!  On body & face, as a hair treatment, cuticle treatment….love.  It’s pretty pricey, for this small one it was about $20CDN – the large size is like $45??  But sort of worth it.  I really like that it’s JUST jojoba oil, no additives or other ingredients, so you know what you’re getting.  You just feel good using it!

So, there you have it.  I managed to lighten my load and it feels great!!  It’s really spurred me on to keep up the good work, I already have several other products used up and ready for another showing 🙂  I’d love it if my shopping addiction turned to a reduction addiction……uhhh, yeah, right.

Is anyone else having a challenge with product overload?  What are you doing to improve the situation?  Or are you rolling in abundance with relish?  Have you ever tried Project 10 Pan?

Thanks for stopping by, I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend!

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The Popularity Vote

Question: When your Sales Associate tells you that the item you are considering to buy is popular, does that make you more apt to purchase, or more likely to put it back?  Personally, I find that if I’m looking at something, whether it be clothes, shoes, nail polish, whatever…if the SA says “Oh, that item has been really popular, we can’t keep it on the shelves,” I instantly reconsider my opinion on the product.  I don’t want to have something that everyone else has!  I have no desire to wear an item that I’ll see on the next girl, or the next.  I purchased a Coach bag at an outlet in Vegas back in 2009…only to find when I came home that it seemed everyone else had done the same.  To top it off, a Coach store recently opened here in Halifax, and ever since I’ve been turned off the brand.  It’s everywhere!  I remember when American Eagle first came here back in 2000, it was the same thing.  Clones, everywhere.

Now, because I live in a smaller city, there are some exclusions to this mentality.  As we don’t have access to everything we read about in magazines and online, and see on TV, I make a point to buy items from these hard-to-find brands because, let’s face it, I’m a jerk.  Well, OK, maybe not truly, but I do enjoy having things that others don’t (must come from a driving need to be special or something?).  Whatever my issue, I regularly seek out things that are *unique* to Halifax.  Which means that while that new Chanel nail polish has been in demand all over the world, here in Halifax its hardly a blip on the radar – so I want it.  BAD.

…Huh.  I just had a brainwave. I think this practice also comes from 1) my incessant need for new stimuli, and 2) my love of the ‘hard to get.’  Those who know me know that to be true, in many areas of my life 😉  As a whole, we always appreciate more what we had to work hard to get, and I am a prime example of that!

Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with buying all your workout gear from, say, Lululemon, and being part of a greater movement.  We gain strength as a community in both our shared interests and our differences.  There has to be both people like me and people who bond through similarities.  I tend to be a lone wolf to some degree and that does create a sense of distance which I don’t always enjoy.  But, I’ve come to accept myself and others as they are and appreciate them both!

How do you approach shopping and the popular vote?  Do I sound like a complete ass?  Or can you relate to my take on things?

Yay for the weekend!! I hope everyone is enjoying their’s as much as I am – sooo nice to relax!

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Day Six and Counting

…It’s not necessarily that I can’t LIVE without my blogs, and new cosmetics…but it’s just such a part of my life that I feel a bit at odds not being able to plunk down to read a post or two (or…20) about what’s going on in the beauty world and capturing the interest of my fellow addicts.  It’s just weird, you know??

Do you think it’s cheating if I go on MakeupAlley to reply to swap requests?  I guess technically it is because then I’m getting new items – sure, I’m not buying them but I’m still getting them somehow.  I haven’t been doing any searching on there but I just had to give a heads up to a MUA’er to let her know I received her package (a deal we set up WELL before Lent began), and I saw I had an message from someone regarding an item on my swap list.  I replied without thinking, but now I feel guilty and like I can’t go through with it.  Thoughts?? Anyone want to offer absolution for my transgression??

I just realized that I didn’t explain to you what the “punishment” (as decided by my bf) will be if I slip up during this [very difficult] time.  Well, let me tell you so you may revel in my possible (likely) demise.  The terms are:  he is to apply my makeup, without my aid or instruction, and then we are to go out for one drink at a bar of my choosing.  I cannot choose the makeup for him, nor am I allowed to explain to him what goes where.  Keep in mind he knows absolutely NOTHING about cosmetics whatsoever, owning only shampoo, antiperspirant, and body wash in his own ‘cosmetic arsenal.’  So in essence, I could have black eyeliner on my lips, hot pink blush on my eyelids, and bronze eyeshadow on my cheeks.  Or some other horrific variation.  Holy hell.

Good grief…what did I get myself into?

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