Thursday, March 31, 2016

Ipsy and Petit Vour March reviews

Here is what arrived in my March Ipsy GlamBag, and as in previous months, I'm very pleased with all the products I was sent.
Starting with makeup, I'm so keen on this IT Cosmetics Bye Bye UnderEye Concealer which I received in the shade Tan, a perfect match for my skintone. This is one of the fullest-coverage concealers I've ever tried, just a tiny dot is enough to cover the entire area under each eye, which is also a testament to how far this creamy product spreads out, a little goes a long, long way.
Next to it is an Ofra Eyeliner Pencil in Green Go, an olive/khaki eye pencil that looks fresh yet subtle, a perfect change-up for a smoky eye that isn't dark and harsh but brightening with a golden sheen. It draws a well-pigmented line on the skin with minimal effort, the colour stays in place without fading or disappearing and it didn't irritate my eyes even when drawn into my waterline. Ofra is known for superior cosmetic formulations and this eyeliner pencil is the same high quality I expect from this line. Since it's hard to get my hands on Ofra up here, I was so happy to receive it from Ipsy so I can develop my own ideas about more elusive makeup brands.
Another line that I've wanted to explore is ModelCo Cosmetics, a brand from Australia and this month's GlamBag included a deluxe LipLacquer sample in Socialite, a juicy bright lipgloss in a vibrant coral shade that's perfect for this time of year. The luxe formula is light and comfortable, great alone or on top of any lipcolour for a pop of shine and hydration. This little tube is perfect for my purse or travel kit, something I've come to love about so many of Ipsy products.
My March haul included a skin-quenching tube of First Aid Beauty's Ultra Repair Hydrating Serum, and it was right on time, since my face has been having 'issues'. I'm dealing with a few irritated dry patches (around my chin and on my cheeks) with texture that are itchy and flaky, which looks awful with the addition of a layer of makeup overtop. Along comes this calming serum to plump and nourish my skin, I love the way my face drinks it in either before makeup or after cleansing. It's a rather generous tube as well, so I get to really have an honest go at this product before I need to repurchase.
Last from this month's Ipsy set is from one of my favourite haircare brands Marc Anthony, a tube of Nourishing Argan Oil of Morocco 3-Day Smooth Perfect Blow Dry Cream which as the name implies, is a heat protecting, hydrating styling/setting product that is great for me now that I'm enjoying styling my hair more often, be it with rollers, blow drying or heat tools. I focus the product away from my scalp so it won't weigh my hair down at the roots, and smooth downwards to protect the ends of my hairs and create a lustrous sheen. I'm glad I have the opportunity to try a product I've always overlooked, from a brand I already love, one more reason to love Ipsy.

After lengthy deliberation, I signed up for another monthly subscription, this time with Petit Vour, an organic, vegan and cruelty-free beauty box and here is my first delivery. I received four products that are quite diverse: one haircare, one lip exfoliant, one face serum and an eyeshadow, so I feel like all the beauty food groups are well-represented in this package.

The bottle of Graydon Hair Smoothie on the left of the box is a conditioner/detangler that is more volumizing than most of my current conditioners, so I may dilute some with a bit of floral water in a spray bottle for a perfect DIY leave-in conditioner spray that isn't oily or heavy.

Also included is a deluxe sample of Juice Beauty's Stem Cellular Booster Serum, a real treat since the original is so expensive, in a tube that's large enough to get to know the product well before I buy. This serum addresses skin texture, tone and hydration, and while I'm not entirely sure what fruit stem cells are for, I think my skin likes them.
From French Girl Organics, I received a jar of Rose Lip Polish. Yes, another sugar lip scrub, but a really good one. This one contains no petroleum jelly, it smells beautifully of pure roses, and the sugar texture is just right, not too rough but with adequate granules to effectively buff lips and surrounding area. I'd have to say that this is one of the nicest lip scrubs I've tested in the last year or so, definitely worth the beauty investment.

This silky-smooth eyeshadow by Han Skin Care Cosmetics is full-sized and Petit Vour chose a perfect colour for me, Taupey Plum. It is so finely milled and delightful that I have been wearing it almost daily, sometimes just swiped on with a clean finger for a perfect daytime sheen, yet it's so versatile that it blends beautifully with anything I combine it with. Just when I think the world and I certainly don't need another taupe eyeshadow, Petit Vour proves me wrong and I love it.

Monday, March 28, 2016

new from Colourpop

I waited as long as I could but the urge to get more goodies from ColourPop was too great and I placed the delightful order pictured below:

I chose this Crème Gel Liner in the shade BrewHaHa, a super-dark brown eyeliner with a tiny precise tip in a twist-up pencil. It is so creamy that almost no pressure is needed to lay down a deeply pigmented line minus any skips or clumps. It really does apply like a gel liner and it stays in place nicely, more so on my upper lashline than the lower. The unique inky brown colour and convenient packaging make this a great everyday liner to reach for when stark black eyeliner is a bit much, and it's only $5 USD, a bargain despite our pitiful current exchange rate.

TooLips Ultra Satin Lip & BrewHaHa Crème Gel Liner

I've struggled with parched lips all winter, so I took a pass on the majority of the matte liquid lipsticks that have been all the rage for last year or more. Since they are almost universally drying on lips, I shied away from products that were guaranteed to highlight and worsen my flaky-lipped troubles. Thankfully, ColourPop released a new liquid lipcolour that's less drying than their famous Ultra Matte Lip but just as stunning, the new Ultra Satin Lip which I got in the shade TooLips. I am smitten with the colour and formula of this lipstick, and for only $6 USD. It's absolutely my favourite lippie worn alone, mixed with a lighter shade or topped with different glosses for endless effects. What you should know is that it does look matte once applied (you can see the finish in the swatch here), and although this lipstick is not transfer-proof, it will stay on your lips with a vengeance for hours, through food and drink. It also wears off more naturally (without flaking) than traditional matte liquid lipsticks, and is correspondingly much more comfortable on the lips as well.

But the real reason I was drawn to the ColourPop website was the recent celebrity collaboration with Karrueche Tran, a dark-skinned beauty whose colour choices for this line work particularly well for persons of colour. I opted for the KaePop Super Shock Shadow Collection which includes these four beautiful shades in their trademark cool bouncy formula that is delightful to apply, layer and blend, with or without primer. I'm impressed by the colours chosen for this set, they're all I need for anything from a quick and demure daytime look to sparkling nighttime drama. Best applied with firmer synthetic brushes, silicone applicators or fingers, these are habit-forming; after my first one, it was only a matter of time before I had to buy more.

This Super Shock Shadow in shade Sunset Blvd is the only pearlized finish of the foursome, in a beautiful coppery-gold that catches the light and makes eyes sparkle. It's sublimely dazzling, and the ColourPop formula is miraculous for how tidily it places glittery shadow with precision since there is zero fallout. This looks beautiful on deeper skintones, alone as a shiny wash of shimmer all over the lid or layered to spot intensify areas like the centre of the eyelid, tear ducts and lower lashline.

Wilshire is the next shade (going from lightest to darkest), a flesh-toned shadow so versatile that it's an instant beauty staple. Completely matte, it evens out the coloration of my lid area and creates a smooth base for more impactful shades, and is a dream to blend with any look. For fairer complexions, this hue would work as a subtle contour shade, a winner no matter your skintone. 

Crenshaw is this matte medium brown shade, perfect to contour, intensify and blend out almost any makeup look, day or night. It adds depth in the outer corner of the lid and is just dark enough to smoke out eyeliner on the lower lashline. For those of us with darker skin, this warm neutral is the most perfect transition shade, and something in the creamy texture heightens the smooth, diffused effect. I'm absolutely obsessed with this particular shadow.

Last in the collection is Beverly, a dark burgundy matte shadow that's deep and richly pigmented so it never shows as pink on my darker skin. It's lovely to layer and smoke out eyeliner and to add dramatic intensity on the lid for nighttime looks. I'm so pleased with the four colour choices in this collection, each one is so versatile alone, and they are a dream to use together. Super Shock Shadows sell for $5 USD each, and this set was $20 USD. Both times I've ordered, my package arrived about a week later, in perfect condition, with a sweet personalized note and some helpful product info. If you haven't used ColourPop before, I strongly suggest you give them a try, I've loved everything I've ever used from this brand.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Sephora and Harvey Prince deliver

It's always a thrill when the Sephora package I've been tracking for days finally gets to my door, even though I've painstakingly ordered it and know exactly what's in it. I often cruise the site to see what's new, what's on sale and what I have to buy because my favourite beauty vlogger said so. Sometimes I maintain my wishlist and read reviews on products I'm considering, it's a beauty lover's paradise.

And so I ended up with my first ZPalette, and it is my Baby. Light and sleek with a strong magnet base and closure, it's a delight to handle and use every day. Included were a package of adhesive round magnets for pots that aren't magnetic and a small metal 'key' to assist in depotting. For $12 CAD, these are a great investment.

Next is this Sephora Collection Black Magic Set of 2 Makeup Remover Cloths. I use mine slightly damp and they miraculously whisk away all the products on your face, lips and eyes, with a furry-soft texture and no cleanser needed. The small facecloth size is perfect to wipe off every trace of makeup and having two in a set means you can always have a clean one ready. I was most impressed by how this wonder rag seemed to erase even my waterproof eye makeup and I felt no irritation or tugging in that delicate area. These are also nice for travelling with zero waste. When washed clean, they air dry in no time and come in a handy travel case. For only $15 CAD for two, this became an instant staple in my makeup removal routine.

One of the perks of buying products through Sephora is their bonus points system that allows customers to accrue points based on purchase value that can subsequently be redeemed for deluxe samples and sets. Sometimes these offers are too good to resist, but letting your points build up can result in some amazing hauls. I redeemed 100 points on this Fresh Seaberry Moisturizing Face Oil and then 500 points on the Murad Perfectly Ageless Skin Renewing Set. This Fresh Face Oil is incredibly rich but light and although it absorbs into my face rapidly, it hydrates my skin all day while leaving my makeup intact. I'm already a huge fan of both this line and face oils, so choosing this bonus was a no-brainer. On the other hand, I took my time deliberating over this four piece Murad skincare set, since I wasn't sure if my sensitive dry skin would react badly. I'm pleased to report that so far I'm loving this four-step routine which starts with the AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser, a gentle physical exfoliant with mild chemical exfoliation included, so your skin can glow now and later. This is followed by the Advanced Active Radiance Serum, a bit of the Renewing Eye Cream around my peepers, and a good layer of Hydro-Dynamic Ultimate Moisture to seal the deal. I like this routine best in the evening so these products can really sink in and go to work on my skin, and I wake up looking brand new. Even though Murad skincare is a top choice to combat oily and acne-prone skin, us dry skin folk have plenty to love here too, and this deluxe bonus set let me get my hands on some pretty spendy products!

I placed another order with Harvey Prince Organics, inspired by the name and description of their latest perfumes that seem heavily influenced by India. I opted for a small rollerball of Kashmiri Saffron but unfortunately, this scent did not do it for me. I found it veered from strong floral to heavy oriental and it was too cloying to even try. I'm surprised as this is the first perfume from this brand that wasn't an instant hit with me. They kindly included a sample of Petaly Noir which I like, I guess it just works with my body chemistry better than other scents. I added a travel-sized Sincerely Body Cream and a Fango Mud Therapy to my order, and both exceed expectations. I've gone on about this brand previously at length, I'm a fan of their mission and methods, notably how they source and formulate their products. They routinely have online sales and discounts on their already reasonably priced perfumes and beauty products. 'Hello' and 'Sincerely' are two of my favourite scents from this line, but most of the others that I've sampled are just as unique and beautifully wearable.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Asian beauty mall haul


Not long ago, I stopped into Richmond, BC's Aberdeen Mall to check out what's new in Asian beauty, and to stock up on some more essentials from the Daiso. I came away with a great little haul (and a trip to the excellent food fair in that mall). My stop at the Daiso netted my main goal, several bottles of their legendary Puff & Sponge Cleaner, a must-have to cleanse makeup sponges and it works wonders on brushes too. I grabbed a random pair of lashes since they were only a couple bucks, plus another Hanataka White Pearl Powder highlighter to share with a friend, and a flat makeup brush holder for my collection, all for under $20 CAD combined.

Then I visited the TonyMoly store where I was confronted with so many skincare and makeup options that I had to calm myself down so I could focus on the task at hand. I came away with this richly pigmented, long-lasting Kiss Lover Lip Click Styling Color matte lipstick in the shade M06 Posh Burgundy, which shows up as a deep red that leans towards berry on my lips. Although a matte lipstick, it feels quite hydrating and really does stay put for hours without getting flaky or patchy. I'm always glad to find Asian beauty products that compliment my darker skintone, since I usually have to put in extra work to get the desired effect when the shades and formulas are originally created for Korean women many shades lighter than I am.

On the skincare side, I can't get enough of sheet masks, so I thought this hydrating  I'm Real Avocado Mask Sheet Nutrition sounded just right and I added it to my purchase. I hope this one isn't overly perfumey which is a huge turn-off, but still provides all the moisturizing benefits of a good sheet mask. For $1.99 CAD, it was hard to choose only one, but since I already have a few I'm waiting to try, I contented myself with just one (for now).
I ended my mall day at the glorious Aritaum store. This is where favourite beauty products from Laneige, Iope, Mamonde and Sulwhasoo (to name a few) can be found. Along with a staggering array of skincare, there was row upon row of innovative makeup to test. I wasn't sure what I was going for, but am very pleased with what I ended up buying.

Always in the market for another lipbalm, I chose this Lavender Flower Moisture Lip Balm by Mamonde, and find it to be a great addition to my lip routine. This balm is thick and glossy with a floral scent that is quite lovely. It's clear so it can be worn alone as a clear gloss or on top of dry lipsticks to make them more comfortable. This balm has no flavour (other than what is carried by the scent) and the squeeze tube applicator dispenses the balm without mess.

Next I chose a stunning shimmery true white shadow from Mamonde, the Vivid Touch Eyes Shimmer in 01 Acacia. As you can see from these photos, it's a highly pigmented metallic shadow that is perfection to emphasize the tear duct area, and doubles as a brilliant highlighter for face as well. The almost creamy formula doesn't scatter when I'm loading it onto my brush, applies neatly and stays in place faithfully all day. This lovely eyeshadow single is much less sheer than many Korean shadows, so I am very satisfied with this purchase.

Last from Aritaum, I went for this Mamonde Stamping Edge + Lip Tint in the darkest shade 10 True Burgundy, a vivid cherry red dispensed from the cap, applied with a built-in sponge tip for a matte rosy tint. On the other end is a sheer red glossy stick balm-type product that can be worn alone or on top of the tint to intensify and add shine. I'm also glad to report that it is unflavoured and has no scent. This clever little product is perfect for travel since you have three products in one efficient package.

Friday, March 11, 2016

My first Etude House order arrives!

Of course receiving a pink-decorated package from Etude House in the mail like this will make any beauty lover's day. The shipping time shocked me when my products arrived from Korea a scant week after I placed my order online. Everything arrived well-packed and undamaged in the adorable box pictured above.

I was interested in this My Beauty Tool Secret Brush 121 Skin set, an impeccable dupe for costlier toothbrush-styled brushes from lines like Artis and MAC. As a bonus, this one has an interchangeable sponge head attachment to blot excess product and perfect the complexion for a flawless finish. At a fraction of the cost of those others, the densely-packed bristles of this brilliant makeup tool absorb minimal product and disperse it more efficiently than any other brush I've used. The unusual shape of the brush doesn't take much getting used to, it actually feels very natural once you get started, and the results are amazing. For $16.80 USD, I am definitely keen to buy at least one more set to add to my frequent rotation.

I also ordered this Drawing Eye Brow in Shade #2, a triangle-shaped brow pencil with a nice spoolie on the opposite end, that seems to be a perfect dupe for the new Anastasia Brow pencil that's about ten times the cost. I can't imagine how a brow pencil this good only cost me $3.60 USD, but the colour and consistency are among the best in my collection, so this brow pencil has become an everyday essential in my beauty routine.

Here you see the Soft Touch Auto Lip Liner in the shade #04, where I finally found the deep raspberry lipliner I've been craving of late. It is softer than I expected and smoothly draws a deeply-pigmented line in just the shade I was looking for. I love it paired with a matching dark berry lipstick, or as a blending colour so lighter nude tones look better against my dark tan skin. To my delight, these auto pencils do not budge once applied, even the hand swatches you see below took more than a few swipes with cleanser to remove, so I'm very satisfied with both.
Etude House Drawing Eye Brow #2 and Soft Touch Auto Lip Liner #04
Just before checking out, I popped a few more goodies into my online cart, including a pack of Every Month Cleansing Tissues, Oh Happy Day Hand Bouquet Rich Butter Hand Cream, I Need You Face Masks in Mugwort and Korean Ginseng and a couple of Collagen Eye Patch masks to round out my order with an interesting selection of Etude House's offerings.

Aside from the ultra-fast delivery to Canada, I am truly impressed with the quality and price of everything I've tried by Etude House. When you sign up as a new member, you'll receive discounts on your first two orders, 10% and 15% respectively, plus they usually have bonuses and discounts on their already very affordable products. Even though I can access certain items from this line through local vendors in my area, none of them have the selection found online. I now have dozens of products in my Etude House wishlist, and I'm struggling to decide which to choose for my next order. With so many great options, it's a delightful embarrassment of choice.