My Darling Clementine | Canadian Beauty Blog.+Add.Feed Info1000FOLLOWERS
I'm a Canadian grad student in Scotland who previously worked in cosmetics for three years. I started this blog when I realized that instead of wishing for the makeup blog of my dreams, I could create it myself. My aim is to write thorough, well-researched posts and to never lose sight of my feminist perspective and my own (rambly) voice.
It’s been quite some time since I shared what skincare I’m using, so I thought I’d do a bit of a skincare update. I’m still working my way through the backlog of gratis from my days working in cosmetics; as a result, there are some items in this post that aren’t utter favourites. But I think lukewarm to negative reviews are very useful, so why not include them?
As always, my skin is normal to dry, leaning dryer at this time of year. (Actually, most of my face has settled down from the transition in seasons – it’s only my nose that is still parched.) I usually only break out hormonally, and I do have fairly persistent hyperpigmentation which follows blemishes long after they die. I focus on hydration and acid toning in my skincare. I probably do my full skincare routine about 95% of the time. I never go to bed without washing my face and slapping on some night cream or an oil, but I can’t think of the last time I skipped a step – maybe in somewhere in the Christmas madness.
Here’s what my skin looks like without makeup. These pictures were taken at the end of January, when I was recovering from a stress breakout. (80% healed now, I’d say.)
I sometimes have closed comedones on my forehead and I get the occasionally random zit there, but it’s usually clear. It’s hard to tell in this picture but at this time a rare blemish was in the final stages of healing.
It can be hard to tell the difference between freckles and hyperpigmentation, but there are a few healing blemishes around the centre of my face here, which is rare for me. The ones on the left side of my chin are more standard – I always have either an active breakout or hyperpigmentation there. Despite the fact that my most recent breakout was larger than normal, this is pretty much the best my skin will be: by the time the hyperpigmentation starts to fade, a new zit will find a home on my face. Skincare really helps mitigate the length and scope of my breakouts, but, like 99% of people on this planet, my skin will never be totally blemish-free.
By the way, usually my zits aren’t too bad, but I do have the really bad habit of picking them, and sometimes they’re monsters to begin with, and the combination sometimes results in disasters.
I also occasionally have a bit of blotchy redness at the bottom of my cheeks. This tends to be more pronounced in hotter weather, so it’s not very noticeable right now at all. I don’t generally have very sensitive skin, but some skincare also exacerbates this redness.
Finally, I think it’s essential to note that, while skincare is a really great tool to address various concerns, a lot of “good skin” is genetic. I’ve never had particularly problematic skin; even at the peak of my teenage breakouts (age 14-15) I was doing okay. I hope it’s obvious that I’m not saying this to brag, just to be realistic about the results my skincare routine can actually achieve.
Gratis received through work will be marked with an asterisk, as always.
In the morning, I like to keep things pretty simple – I prefer not to rush through my morning routine but also like to maximize on my sleep, so there’s a delicate balancing act! If my face feels quite dry I don’t bother washing it; if not, I use a light cream or gel cleanser. Currently I’m using the Avène 3-in-1 makeup remover*, which does an okay job at gentle cleansing but which I do find leaves a sticky residue if I don’t wash it off vigilantly. My favourite cleanser for this purpose is the Marcelle Ultra Gentle Cleansing Gel. It’s gentle but efficient and doesn’t strip the skin or leave a residue. And it’s only $12.95! I’ll go back to it when I finish the Avène.
Unlike every other surface of my body, my undereyes are not horribly dry, so in the morning I’ve been really enjoying the Biotherm Homme Aquapower Eye Depuffer*. It’s a light, cooling gel that is perfect first thing in the morning when I’m trying to do my makeup despite the fact that it’s pitch black.
Lately I’ve been starting my skincare with The Ordinary EUK 134 0.1%, which is an antioxidant with an oily texture. I love using antioxidants if I’m going outside – living in a city I’m exposed to lots of free radicals in the forms of pollution, car exhaust, etc. For this time of year the oily texture of the EUK has been working quite well for me, but I’m not sure if I’ll love it so much in the summer. I find it layers well under other products but I’ll have to see if it’s too heavy in the warmer months, when my skin is pretty much normal.
For moisturizer I’ve been using La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra*. I’m a longtime fan of LRP’s Toleriane Riche, which is a thicker cream great for dry, sensitive skin. However, Toleriane Ultra is thinner and layers better with other skincare and makeup. It isn’t as fluid as some moisturizers and does deliver enough hydration for my day-to-day needs – it helps that I pack on a lot of hydration in my nighttime routine so that I can use lighter products under my makeup.
Sunscreen is Vichy Ideal Soleil SPF50* – I find this one and the LRP Anthelios fluid basically interchangeable. Both are lightweight, non-greasy facial sunscreens that layer well. When I run out, I’m interested in trying some Japanese sunscreens since I hear great things about them and they seem to be a bit more cost-effective than Vichy or LRP.
And that’s it for my morning routine – I don’t use actives or do too much product layering.
My nighttime skincare routine is one of my favourite rituals, and washing my face is the best part. There’s something so satisfying about taking off broken down, hours-old makeup. I always really like the way my skin looks when I’m freshly-cleansed, too. My cleansing routine could be described as “extra”, but I like to be really thorough and make sure my face is spotless. I’ve been a devoted user of oil cleansers for about five years now; I find they’re great at breaking down makeup, and they do my dry skin a big favour. Currently I’m using the Biotherm Total Renew Oil Cleanser*. It has a very pleasant texture – not greasy, and without any residue. Though it’s effective and nice to use, I think it’s too expensive for what it is. The Body Shop Camomile Silky Cleansing Oil is half the price (and as we all know The Body Shop constantly has deals) and I like that it emulsifies more.
I find that no cleanser ever gets all my makeup off, even if my skin looks bare to the naked eye. I always do a second pass with a gentle gel cleanser, so the Avène cleanser comes into play here. On no-makeup days (which are pretty frequent, actually; I’m only on campus three days a week and don’t normally put on makeup to run errands) I just use the Avène cleanser.
I will always love the La Roche-Posay Respectissime Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover, which gets absolutely everything off without any tugging or rubbing. It’s as good as Lancôme Bi-Facil and half the price.
I follow all of that up with some micellar water; these days I’m using La Roche-Posay Ultra Micellar Water*. This one and Bioderma Sensibio are tied for my favourite. I know most people use micellar water as a first step to remove makeup, but I prefer to use it at the very end. When using an oil-based eye makeup remover it’s essential to remove the residue to avoid milia, and a micellar solution helps balance the pH of the skin prior to acid steps.
Which, of course, brings me to the second-best part of my skincare routine. I use a chemical exfoliant every day; I know that’s too much for a lot of people, but my skin tolerates it well. Generally, I get on best with AHAs. Right now I’m using the Vichy Idealia Peeling*, which is glycolic acid. It’s great, but now that we have The Ordinary there’s no reason to spend $40 on an AHA. I’ve gone through an entire bottle of The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2%, which my skin really liked. I’ve also tried The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution, which is cheap as chips and just as effective as the expensive stuff. Occasionally I use The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2% (now discontinued) instead of an acid. I always leave my acids on my face for 20-30 minutes before moving on to other steps, because acids require a specific pH to work properly and layering other products negates the effects.
For my eyes, I’ve been layering The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + ECGC and Bioderma Sensibio Eye*. As I’ve mentioned, I’m not convinced that the Caffeine Solution actually does anything for dark circles, but I’ll use it up since it’s not like it hurts. The Bioderma eye cream is a very thin gel-cream hybrid that adds a little moisture and not much else. It’s nothing special, really.
To give my skin the moisture it needs, I use The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 as a serum step. This is my fourth bottle; it’s so inexpensive and it really does make a huge difference in my skin. My night cream these days is Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask, which is an incredibly rich cream that I swear by in the winter. This is my second winter using it and I haven’t had any nose flakes since before I discovered it. About once a week, if my skin is especially dry, I use The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane. Of all the oils I’ve tried I like squalane the best – it delivers moisture but isn’t too greasy. It’s also nice on my arms and legs and on the fried, burnt ends of my hair. (Just kidding, I haven’t bleached my hair in 11 months and it’s so much healthier!)
My final step is always Nuxe Rêve de Miel Lip Balm, which truly is the most nourishing, effective lip treatment I’ve found. It does have a pretty thick, waxy texture, so it’s a nighttime-exclusive kind of product for me.
And… that is it! I would guess that this is a pretty extensive routine compared to the average, but it doesn’t take me all that long and it addresses all my skin concerns. I hate being away from all my skincare products – that’s the worst part about travelling for me. Anyway – there’s a (far too detailed) breakdown of what I’m currently using.
My last empties post was at the end of the summer, before I moved to Glasgow – it’s been awhile! But after months of diligently using stuff, I have finally collected enough garbage to share with you.
Anything marked with an asterisk was received as gratis through work. There are no press samples featured in this post.
Biotherm Blue Therapy Serum-In-Oil*: I’m very sad to see this go, because it was an absolutely lovely, nourishing serum step. However, at $78, I will not be replenishing my supply. I will say, though, this truly is a “serum-in-oil” – it feels oily and is incredibly rich and hydrating, but it sinks into the skin easily and doesn’t feel heavy like some oils tend to do even on my dry skin. I would buy this with Optimum points if I were in a particularly indulgent mood.
Biotherm Life Plankton Sensitive Emulsion*: This is an overpriced moisturizer. It was absolutely fine as a pre-makeup step, but for $55 I don’t want “absolutely fine”.
Jouviance Glyco Laser 5% Soft Peel Night Cream*: My skin loves glycolic acid, and a 5% concentration worked really well for nightly use. This cream was great over the spring and summer months – it wasn’t too heavy but gave me enough hydration. It was fortuitous that I ran out of it as the cooler weather started to settle in, because it wouldn’t have been enough for winter.
Caudalie Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet: This moisturizer layers nicely under makeup but isn’t as hydrating as I would have wanted. It also smelled really weird, and not in a good way. It was convenient to have on hand for travelling, but hahaha $48 for a 40mL tube of an okay moisturizer.
The Ordinary 100% Plant-Derived Squalane: I like having an oil on hand for my hair, body, and face, and this one didn’t disappoint. It worked well for all three purposes and I liked it a bit more than The Ordinary’s Argan Oil, which was a tiny bit heavy on my face. I have repurchased this and use it whenever my face needs some serious help in the hydration department!
Nuxe Rêve de Miel Lip Balm: I have sung this lip balm’s praises enough times, I think. This is the second pot I’ve finished; of course, I’m already enthusiastically working my way through a third. I got my mom hooked on this stuff, too. It’s on the pricier side ($17 CAD), but a pot lasts me upwards of a year and it’s legit the best thing for my dry lips.
Nivea Hydro Care Lip Balm: I’m pretty sure I got this in my stocking when I was, like, 15, and recently started using it on a regular basis. Anyway, this is actually a really nice stick lip balm. I switched to Vaseline in a stick after I used this one up, and this one gives longer-lasting and generally richer hydration. When I finish the disappointing Vaseline I’ll probably go back to good ol’ Nivea.
The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5: Photographed separately and on a different background because I finished it while in Toronto for Christmas and don’t understand the meaning of the word “consistency”. I use this as a hydrating serum step and I love it; this is the third bottle I’ve finished.
John Frieda Sheer Blonde Tone-Correcting Shampoo x3: I have been around the block when it comes to purple shampoos, and my favourite is Light Blue Shade. Since I can’t get that here in the UK, I have come back to a longtime favourite. The obvious downside is that I go through a 250mL tube quickly, as you may have surmised from the fact that there are three empty tubes featured in this post. But my hair has been suitably ashy, and the price is right. John Frieda is one of the rare brands that is much cheaper here in the UK; normal price is £6.95, but I always buy my shampoo when it’s on sale for £3.95. That’s about $6 CAD, down from the ~$14 it goes for in Canada. (By the way, the bottle in the second picture is the old packaging, because I still had a tube of it kicking around back in Toronto.)
Batiste Dry Shampoo – Blush: I don’t love this particular floral scent, but my friends and I have come to the conclusion that for some reason the Blush Batiste works better than the regular one. Batiste will always be a go-to dry shampoo staple for me because it works and you can find it nice and cheap at Winners. (I mean, not that the $10 price tag at the drugstore is terrible, either.)
Remind me not to photograph black tubes on a dark background again…
Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer in Fair: This is my second shot at this concealer. The first time I used the pink illuminating shade and found it made my undereyes look ashy. This time I went for Fair, which was a great shade for me. It’s a pretty good undereye concealer, but it doesn’t blow my mind.
Clarins Truly Waterproof Mascara: My favourite mascara – it makes my lashes look super long and defined without any clumps. I don’t mind that it’s waterproof; biphase remover takes it off easily. I despise spending money on mascara and bought this with Optimum points so I could wear it to my friends’ wedding. (Good thing; I cried!) I’ll need another good excuse to buy another tube, as much as I love it – $27 ain’t cheap.
L’Oreal Brow Artist Plumper in Transparent: This truly is my favourite brow gel. The hold is great, and it never looks wet or crispy on my brows. However, I think $14 for a drugstore brow gel is pushing it, so I only buy it when it’s on sale for $8.99. Right now I’m using Essence because I ran out of this stuff and it wasn’t on sale and I was feeling very cheap. I miss it, though. God, don’t you hate getting hooked on a product that’s unnecessarily expensive? I mean… it’s clear brow gel, the most boring product on Earth. I don’t want to spend more than $5 on it!
Witchcraft Be Strong Protein Hardener: I’ve had peely nails for about three years now, and this base coat really helps keep them in good shape. Since I used this up I discontinued use since I can’t find it in the UK, and I find my nails are actually in really good shape. I speculate that it’s because I’m no longer working with my hands so much, but it could be coincidental. Either way, I strongly recommend this if you struggle with peeling nails!
Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat: I fell in love with this top coat back in the summer of 2014, and after trying a few others I have ultimately come back to this one. I like it better than the ever-popular Seche Vite! Now that I’m not working retail my nail polish lasts a lot longer, and I can get through an entire week with no chips when I use this top coat.
Beauty UK Nail Polish in Black: I bought this nail polish when I studied abroad in Glasgow, and now that I am back in Glasgow it has become a gloopy mess. Full circle! There’s nothing special about this nail polish either way. Knowing myself I assume this was cheap and that’s why I bought it over all the other black nail polishes out there, and if that’s the case then I think it’s a good budget buy.
Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Barracuda: This baby blue is one of my favourite nail polish colours ever, but the last time I used it it was so gloopy that I had to remove it immediately. I’m not sure if I’ll replace it because Barry M Sugar Apple is so similar that it’s hard to justify.
Lancôme glitter polish: I stole this from my mom’s nail polish stash in high school. (I would apologize, but she hardly ever wears nail polish, let alone glitter, and she probably got it for free because I can’t see her spending $30 on nail glitter.) It’s a really pretty fine white gold glitter that applies evenly, and it has been a staple of my Christmas manicures for many years now. But it’s pretty much completely dry, and the bottle has been caught in the crossfires of a few mishaps, so it’s time to say goodbye.
I don’t normally have so many nail empties, but I’m happy to thin out the herd even more. I’ve been getting increasingly stressed with the concept of owning a lot of things, so the more I use up the better. I’m not sure when my next empties post will be or how many products it will contain, but stay tuned, I guess.
Some years, I know exactly what I’m getting for Christmas. There was even one year where, as the designated gift wrapper, I ended up wrapping the e-reader that I had picked out with my mom. But in recent years, my mom has done a great job of surprising me. This year’s surprise: two custom lipsticks at the Bite Lip Lab in Toronto.
Bite Lip Labs offer two services: Custom and Bespoke lipsticks. Custom lipsticks are selected from a library of over 200 pigments, mixed with the scent and finish of your choice. Bespoke lipsticks are made of a mixture of pigments and ensure that you can get exactly what you’re looking for – and that you will be the only person on Earth to have your particular lipstick. We went for the Custom option, which costs $80 for two lipsticks instead of $150 for two. (A single Custom lipstick goes for $55, and Bespoke lipsticks can only be purchased two at a time.)
When purchasing a “gift card” for the Custom or Bespoke services, you actually receive two empty lipstick tubes in a small cardboard box. You can imagine that I was a bit confused when I opened the gift on Christmas morning, but of course my mom promptly explained what I was actually getting. (And I was reeeeeally excited.) I appreciate that the Custom and Bespoke tubes are decorated with lips, making them different from the regular Bite lipstick tubes. It’s the little touches, people…
In the days leading up to my appointment, I thought long and hard about what colours I wanted. I wanted lipsticks that I would actually wear regularly, but I didn’t want to duplicate anything in my collection. With a collection of about ~50 lipsticks, you may imagine that this was a tall order! In the years I had dreamed of going to the Bite Lip Lab, I always thought I’d get my perfect coral… but I found that in August. Another one of my makeup white whales is the perfect lilac, so that was at the forefront of my mind. And then I also settled on a burnt orange, because it felt right in the moment. And I know you are probably thinking, “Clem, you already have a burnt orange lipstick!” But I think there is room for a variety of burnt oranges in the world, and anyway, it’s a category in my collection that is far less saturated than, um, pretty much anything else.
Now, I think the Bespoke experience would be incredibly fun. But if you’re not quite willing to splash out that much cash, I really think the Custom option is great. With over 200 pigments, there is a huge amount of selection. My lip artist, Erica, didn’t have any trouble picking out a variety of pigments to match my descriptions. We started off with some more mauve-y tones, some muted, some brighter. I really liked them all on myself, but I spotted a more vibrant colour that I loved in one of the pigment jars. When I tried it on, I knew it was the one! For my burnt orange, Erica recommended the pigment aptly named Burnt Orange – but on me, it was an unflattering brown. We then tried something with a bit more of a spicy orange tone, and when I tried it on it was instant love.
The process of getting a custom lipstick is pure fun. First, you scrub your lips with the Bite Beauty Agave Sugar Lip Scrub and then put on a healthy dose of the Agave Lip Mask. (It was my first time trying it, and I loved it!) Then you get to try on each suggested colour with a disposable lip brush and check yourself out in a hand mirror. Luckily, it didn’t take me too long to find either colour, but Erica was super patient and helpful and didn’t make me feel like I had to rush through the process. After I selected my colours, Erica melted the pigments and poured them into the lipstick bullet mould, then put it on a cold plate. While the bullets were solidifying, I smelled a variety of oil blends and dabbed different combinations onto a tissue. Perhaps it’s because I did this during one of the coldest weeks I’ve ever experienced, but I was really feeling the tropical vibes. I was drawn particularly to the coconut, lime, and mango scents. After experimenting quite a bit with different combinations, we went with coconut and lime for the burnt orange and wildberry and lime for the lilac. The lime comes through very strongly in both – I think you’d only be able to tell the difference between the two if you were looking for it. Luckily, lime is one of my favourite scents.
Here’s the acetate Erica used to mix all the options:
She also offered to write down the pigment numbers on a card that I could keep, but I thought it’d be easier just to take a picture of the acetate and favourite it in my phone in case I ever wanted to get an identical lipstick. (Doubtful… but it’s cool that that’s an option! I could see this being useful for someone who got a colour that they planned to wear daily, but I don’t see myself going through these two colours anytime soon.)
And here are the lipsticks chilling:
Out of curiosity, I asked Erica what the most common colour requests are. She confirmed my suspicions – people want nudes and reds, although she did allow that there are seasonal variations as well. She does a lot of berries at this time of year and a lot of bright pinks in the summer. The perfect nude is really hard to find, so I’m not surprised by that – the tiniest shift in undertone or depth of a nude can bring you from no makeup makeup to corpse-like. But there are so many different types of red that I’m surprised that people would pay so much for a custom one. From blue reds to orange reds to poppies to berry reds, reds are abundant. But red is such a classic colour that perhaps it makes sense as something that will be worn frequently.
Here are my fresh, unmarred lipsticks, because for the second time in the history of my blog I have managed to photograph them before smearing them on my face.
Under different lighting, my “lilac” turned out to be a very vibrant cool fuchsia with a hint of purple. I actually love this loud, unflinching colour, but it’s not exactly the lilac I had in mind. I’ve found it exceedingly difficult to find this colour, mostly because there is a fine line between a cool fuchsia and a lilac – which is exactly the issue here. I also neglected to view myself in natural lighting when I was trying this shade on, which I think would have made a difference. But this is the type of shade that I think would have benefited from the Bespoke experience, because it’s so finnicky and precise. That said, I’m still really happy with this lipstick. I absolutely love the colour, even if it wasn’t what I’d originally had in mind. It’s a colour that I feel comfortable wearing year-round, so I’ll get a lot of use out of it.
That said, I do want to emphasize that lighting is super important to this experience. I would not want an appointment in the evening – or, in the winter, any time past 4pm. You want full, uncompromised natural lighting! The Lip Lab in Toronto does have a large front window with good natural lighting, which I clearly didn’t fully take advantage of. If I do this again, I will walk to the window and check out the colour there. I was so excited about the whole experience that I didn’t think to do that this time. Like I said, though, no harm, no foul – I still love this colour.
L-R: Custom Bite Beauty lipstick, NARS Angela, ColourPop Lychee, Lise Watier Cake Pop
My custom colour is really similar to NARS Angela in swatches, but on my lips it’s a lot bolder (which is saying a lot considering how, well, audacious Angela is) and the purple undertones are much stronger. It’s pinker and brighter than ColourPop Lychee, but clearly more purple than something like Lise Watier Cake Pop.
My burnt orange is exactly what I wanted. I find it difficult to accurately photograph these tones – they seem to pull quite red on camera. The last picture was taken with my iPhone, and the truth of the colour lies somewhere in between these pictures. It appears more muted in my iPhone picture. Regardless, this is a bright burnt orange, which perhaps sounds like an oxymoron. Maybe a better descriptor is a bright earthy orange? I hate pure oranges on myself; I need a healthy dose of brown in any orange that is to touch my face. This one has that, but it also has a vibrancy that my beloved Buxom Covert Affair lacks. See, I told you there’s room for more than one burnt orange in my life. Though burnt orange is undoubtedly a fall/winter colour, I wore Covert Affair all through the summer, and because my custom shade is brighter I think I’ll get a lot of use out of it in the warmer months as well.
This swatch is probably the most colour-accurate photo of my custom lipstick colour. Here you can see that it is much brighter and less brown than both Covert Affair and Candyfloss, but compared to a bright poppy red like NARS Annabella it’s undoubtedly orange.
The Bite Matte formula is comfortable and hydrating but less slippery than their Amuse Bouche formula. I do enjoy the Amuse Bouche lipsticks, but I’m not as much of an enthusiast as many people – I find that the lasting power places them a bit outside of my ideal. In terms of feel, I’d put the Matte formula on the same level as NARS Audacious, Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution, and Maybelline Creamy Matte – very comfortable and plush with a smooth application. The wear time isn’t quite as impressive as those formulas, but it’s better than the Amuse Bouche formula and generally good for a bullet lipstick. If Bite offered off-the-rack lipsticks in this formula I think I’d be more inclined to buy from them. As it is, I use the Amuse Bouche minis I’ve received for free, but Bite has never actually parted money from my wallet.
In the end, I will use and cherish these lipsticks – but for me the gift was really all about the experience. It was so much fun to try different colours, mix my own scent, and watch as a lipstick was hand-crafted to my specifications. I think that having a good artist makes all the difference; Erica was friendly, patient, and helpful, and that made the experience top-notch. This is the best type of present, because I got to do something really cool and unusual, and I got something material out of it that I can use again and again. Thanks, Mom!
I didn’t read too many books in the last quarter of 2017, but luckily I had planned for that eventuality and still made my goal of 50 (with one to spare). Here’s what I read in the last few months of 2017.
RuPaul’s Drag Race and the Shifting Visibility of Drag Culture: The Boundaries of Reality TV, edited by Niall Brennan
My undergraduate degree was basically in pop culture, and now that I’m in film & TV I still find myself much more drawn to mass culture – I seem to always want to write essays about Jurassic Park and reality TV. I just find the exploration of these types of cultural texts so much more compelling than analyses of high culture. The first essay that made me fall in love with the field of Cultural Studies was Janice Radway’s study of female romance novel readers. Her attention to the importance of the transformative function of this supposedly meritless cultural form inspired me and fuelled my interest in the academic study of popular culture. So of course I will always jump at the chance to read a book about a mass cultural phenomenon! This book came out in 2017 and is about an admittedly niche topic, so I was very excited to find that my university’s library had the e-book. As with most anthologies, I found some of the essays more interesting than others, but overall I thought it was full of fascinating insights on the campy, complicated, and often contradictory nature of Drag Race.
First Among Sequels and One Of Our Thursdays Is Missing by Jasper Fforde
These are the first two books in Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next reboot, which takes place sixteen years after Something Rotten. While the books are undoubtedly still clever, I find that something of the magic of the original series is lost. These two seem a bit more formulaic and lack the same joy. I’ll keep reading them, but the first series was definitely better.
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
Generally I avoid historical fiction, but Margaret Atwood can make me read anything. Alias Grace is a fictionalized account of the real-life maid Grace Marks, an Irish immigrant to Toronto who was convicted of murdering her employer and his housekeeper in 1843. Atwood doesn’t change any of the known details about Grace, but she takes creative liberties in fleshing out her story. Whether or not Grace really did kill Nancy Mongtomery and Thomas Kinnear, I don’t know – but Atwood turns Grace into a compelling, sympathetic, and complex character regardless. I’m excited to get to the Netflix series now that I’ve read the novel!
Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape by Jenna Miscavige Hill
I have watched both the documentary Going Clear and Leah Remini’s television exposé on the abuses of Scientology, so when this book came up as a suggestion on my Kindle, I was happy to fork over $1.99. Jenna Miscavige Hill is the niece of David Miscavige, the current leader of Scientology, and was raised in the religion from the age of two. “Harrowing” is about right! As a toddler, Hill saw her parents – who were high-ranking members of the Sea Org – for only a few hours a week, and was raised at what is essentially a cross between boarding school and a work camp. She had to perform hard labour as a small child seven days a week, and was emotionally and psychologically manipulated and abused into adulthood. As someone who has avidly consumed media related to Scientology over the past few years, her story is not unfamiliar to me – but it still gives me goosebumps to think of what so many go through under David Miscavige’s leadership. It’s a comprehensive account of life under Scientology, doubly chilling because of the detailed, extended account of what can only be described as child abuse. Though this book is not very well-written, it’s extremely interesting and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone interested in this subject.
Final Girls by Mira Grant
Though I’m not a huge horror/sci fi fan, I still love Mira Grant’s work. She always approaches common tropes from a totally different angle, and this novella is no exception. Dr. Jennifer Webb has developed a virtual reality-based therapy which heals clients by putting them in horror movie simulations. Her star clients are a pair of estranged sisters who grew inseparable after undergoing this therapy and learning to work together as a team. Journalist Esther Hoffmann, whose father’s life was ruined by regression therapy, is invited to write a story on Dr. Webb’s technology, and sets out to thoroughly debunk it. Dr. Webb invites Esther to experience the VR technology herself, and Esther reluctantly agrees. Of course, things go terribly wrong. It’s a thrilling read, a take on zombies, VR, and government conspiracies that I haven’t seen before, and the perfect length. I don’t often read novellas and short stories, but this is a short, adrenaline-filled burst that perfectly complements the premise.
Total books: 51 Fiction: 43 Non-fiction: 8 Books written by women: 30 (and one anthology) Books written by people of colour: 5 Books written by LGBTQ people: 6 Canadian books: 10
Clearly I gravitate more towards books written by women, but I would like to read more diversely – those numbers aren’t great! I read a lot based on other people’s recommendations, so I’m going to seek out book blogs/YouTube channels run by people of colour and LGBTQ people this year.
As I mentioned earlier, my goal for 2018 is 30 books. This year I’ve already read four, but two were quite short and I know my pace will slow as the semester gets busier. But I think 30 should be doable – and with decent time management I might even manage to read a bit more than that.
I haven’t been totally happy with the way I’ve done my makeup inventories for the last few years. Comparing the total number of products with the total from a year ago only tells some of the story. This year I’ve made a chart that tracks these numbers as well as how many products I used up and destashed for a more holistic look at my consumption habits over the past year. I’ll have to evaluate how this is working for me later on, but there’s no harm in trying something new!
In my inventories I don’t count skincare or haircare products, only makeup and tools. I also haven’t counted backups in my total count. There’s no real reason for this, but I never have, so I don’t want to throw off the counts by starting now. I only have a few backups, anyway – for products I know I will go through.
Here’s my inventory for 2017:
I increased my stash of face products by 4 products, or 13.79%, this year. Honestly, I don’t think a 4-product increase is bad at all! Most of this expansion happened in the cream/liquid highlighter category. I also acquired 3 primers, whereas this time last year I had none. I’m still not sure I totally believe in the absolute necessity of primer, and I’m guessing that I will not have 3 in a year’s time. I got a lot of foundations in 2017 but decluttered quite a few too, so I ended up with 3, the same as last year’s total. Otherwise not all that much changed – I tend not to hoard things like concealer and powder, just swapping out old products when necessary, and I haven’t bought blush in over a year.
I have 3 fewer eye products now, which equals a 5.66% reduction. This category was a bit hard to judge accurately as I depotted a few Wet n Wild palettes into a MUFE magnetic palette – this means that my palette count went down but single eyeshadow count went up, though I didn’t actually keep the majority of the shadows in the depotted palettes. I got rid of a lot of my pencil liners this year because I rarely use them. I generally don’t see this category increasing or decreasing too much in this coming year – there’s not much fat to trim anymore, but I’m also not particularly interested in buying any new eye products (other than staple replacements).
Of course lips are my weak spot, and there was an overall increase of 9 lip products in 2017, which equals a 16.07% increase. I would have liked this to be lower since obviously lipstick is my biggest overall makeup category and I want to know I’m getting use out of everything. However, you will note that I gained 35 lip products in 2017 and only decluttered or used up 43, so I can’t be too hard on myself – more went out than came in. I still don’t really know how the hell I managed to acquire 35 products (more than 50% of my entire stash) in one year – that’s almost three products a month! (Although, actually, I have already added three lipsticks to my stash this month, so I guess I can see how that would be possible…) By the end of 2018 I would really like to see an overall reduction in this category.
This is a pretty vague category, which I increased by 25 products or 49.02%. Most of this increase came in the form of brushes. I bought duplicates of several of my favourite/most-used brushes, so I feel okay about the increase. I genuinely use almost all the brushes I bought daily. I’m feeling pretty good about the state of my brush collection at the moment, so I doubt I will add much to this in 2018.
Overall, I have a total of 224 products. I acquired 117 products in 2017 and decluttered or used up 125. My collection increased by 35 products, or 18.52%, which is down from last year’s increase of 24.4%. In last year’s inventory post I did say that I wanted to decrease my collection by the end of 2017, which clearly didn’t happen. I’m setting that goal again for myself this year, and I think this time I’ll probably actually follow through!
2017 was a very rough year from a big picture perspective, for reasons that require no explanation. On a personal level, though, it was a lot better for me than 2016. Nobody I know died this year, which is a lot better than 2016’s total of four deaths. Therefore, I have nothing to complain about. This year also marked some achievements for me: I got my driver’s license, I moved to another country, and I started grad school, which has been a goal since I was 19. I had a bit of performance anxiety since I had been out of school for a year and a half before starting my Master’s, but I’m happy to report that I killed my first semester.
So, let’s take a look at how I did with my 2017 goals.
Lemon cheesecake with raspberry topping (made by me!), posing in front of a bakery in Kentucky, fika at Karelia Kitchen in Toronto
Blog at least five times a month: I told myself that if I missed a single month I’d fail the goal, which means I definitely failed. However, I’m okay with this – I posted more than five times in June, July, and August, and overall I posted pretty consistently. I fell off the wagon a bit at the end of the year because I got busy with school. At the end of the day, blogging is a hobby, so I’m not going to stress too much about it. And hey, I have a semester of straight As to show for letting blogging fall by the wayside…
Read 50 books: This was a stretch goal and I totally made it, reading a total of 51 books in 2017. (I do wish I’d read one more for an average of one a week, but oh well.) I have very strong time management skills, so I managed to read 45 books before I started grad school, which made it much easier to finish this goal in the last bit of the year.
This was my most prolific year as a reader since 2012!
The Royal Cinema, a flower in my backyard, Cassius and Wally enjoying the sunshine
Be tidier: I’m still not a neat freak by any means, but I do think that I am slowly improving upon my natural messiness. I was worried that living by myself for the first time in my life would encourage me to be completely slobby since I didn’t have to think about anyone else, but I’ve been maintaining my flat quite well! I have actually become a person who can’t go to bed until everything is passably tidy, which will come as a shock to anybody who knows me in real life.
Declutter: This was kind of a freebie since I didn’t have much choice but to get rid of a lot of stuff before I moved. I did, however, manage to considerably declutter my clothes, makeup, books, and other possessions.
Mural on Queen St. West, walking Jet, officiating my friends’ wedding in July
Be mindful about new purchases: I made some impulse buys that didn’t entirely work out, but mindful consumption is a process, not an end goal. I think I’m moving in the right direction.
So… looks like I actually did a really good job with my goals this year, which is shocking. Either I set the bar low or I actually rose to the occasion. I’ll leave you to decide.
Me and my friend Katie, view from the Lachine Canal in Montreal, learning to drive
And my goals for 2018…
Finish my MA with an A average. I come from a university known for grade deflation, where a TA once said “Great job, Clementine!” as she handed me back an assignment I got 7/10 on, so I almost feel cocky setting this goal. However, I got all As this semester so I think this is doable. By the way – in the UK MA programmes are one year long, so I have one more semester of classes and then I’ll write my dissertation over the summer. I’ll have my degree by this time next year!
Complete all my readings and screenings before messing around on the internet. I always have a more productive day overall if I complete my routine schoolwork prior to checking social media. Last semester I did well keeping up with readings and screenings, but this semester I want to form a stronger habit that truly prioritizes school.
Neighbours’ plants, hanging out in the hammock with Jet, a building in Glasgow
Get fitter. Ugh, I know, I’m being that person this year. I always neatly avoid setting this goal for myself, but I think it’s finally time, guys. I’ve always been a walker (and currently walk about 5km round trip each day), but I think I should step up my game. I’m not out here to run a marathon or anything, but I’d like to raise my level of fitness just for my daily life.
Read 30 books. Adjusted the reading goal downwards again because grad school = very little desire to read for fun. 30 might actually be pushing it, but I might as well challenge myself a little. I just picked up four books today with a Chapters gift card,
so that will help me start the year right!
Trixie Mattel performing in October, being a tourist in Lewes, pretty steps in Glasgow
Keep to my beauty budget, consume mindfully, and enjoy using what I have. Self-explanatory! I’ve been doing pretty well with mindful consumption over the past few years since I really started to think about it, and I want to do even better this year!
Nothing special here, really, and no blogging goals. I’ll keep posting as regularly as my schedule and interest allows, but I don’t want to hold myself to a posting schedule and feel guilty when I inevitably fail to meet it.
Happy 2018, everyone! I hope this year is a little kinder to the world…
Here is my last checkin of 2017! This was year zero of tracking my spending, which meant that I didn’t know what to expect. I’ll crunch the final numbers and at the end of this post I’ll reflect a little on what I learned during this year of tracking.
And a few notes before we get started…
I’ve listed all prices in either CAD or the currency they were purchased in and a conversion into CAD that was accurate at the time of purchase.
I list products that were ordered online on the date that I received the package.
In order to consistently track my spending, I’m listing all totals in CAD. Since I have shopped in both Canada and the UK this year, conversion is necessary so that I can see how much I’ve spent in total. Prices in CAD make more intuitive sense to me than GBP (unsurprisingly), and I’ve purchased a lot more in Canada than in the UK this year anyway.
Not everything is pictured – I’m in Canada right now and some of this stuff is in the UK.
With those points out of the way, let’s get into it!
Products purchased between October 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017
10/13: Barry M Glitter Rush Body Glitter – Aquamarine – £4.49 ($7.47 CAD). I bought this because I was going to a drag show and I just felt like I needed blue glitter in my life. A total frivolity, of course, but not one that I regret.
10/13: Ardell Wispies Lashes – £5.49 ($9.13 CAD). I have never been a false lash enthusiast, but in undergrad my outrageous going out looks (think black lipstick, purple blush up to my temples) were never complete without a set of big falsies. Now that I’m a student again, clearly it is necessary to have a set of lashes on hand.
10/13: MUA Kohl Liner – Black – £1 ($1.66 CAD). To use with black lipstick.
10/20: Barry M Glitter Fixer Gel – £4.99 ($8.35 CAD). I realized that I couldn’t use my teal glitter without some sort of fixative. This is the only one I could find in-store, but I like it!
11/03: John Frieda Sheer Blonde Tone Correcting Shampoo – £3.95 ($6.61 CAD). A gal can’t live without her purple shampoo! It’s rare that cosmetics are less expensive in the UK than in Canada, but full price on this stuff in Canada is $13.99. Definitely a bargain!
11/20: Collection Lasting Gel Nail Colour in Blackjack 2 – £3.19 ($5.45 CAD). I needed new black nail polish so I went with the cheapest one I could find, of course.
11/20: Vaseline Lip Therapy in Aloe Vera and Original – £1 each – £2 total ($3.42 CAD). I ran out of lip balm. These are normally £2.09 each but Superdrug had a 2 for £2 offer which I thought I might as well take advantage of.
11/20: Supderdrug Cleansing Facial Wipes – £1.29 ($2.20 CAD). Bought for my trip to Prague, since I knew it would be easier than properly washing my face.
11/25: John Frieda Sheer Blonde Go Blonder Lightening Shampoo (mini) – £2 ($3.42 CAD). I was delighted to find a mini of my usual shampoo at the Edinburgh airport Superdrug, since I’ve never seen John Frieda minis in Canada. I’ll definitely use this up travelling.
12/05: PS… Pro Blending Brush – £2 ($3.42 CAD). PS… is Primark’s house makeup brand, and you will be seeing a review of some of these products in the future!
12/05: PS… CustomEyes Eyeshadow in Cranberry – £0.60 ($1.03 CAD).
12/05: PS… Lip Scrub – £3 ($5.14 CAD).
12/05: PS… My Perfect Colour Liquid Concealer in Nude Beige – £2 ($3.42 CAD). Replacement.
12/05: PS… Get Lippy Glitter Collection in Heaven Sent – £3 ($5.14 CAD).
12/05: Golden Rose Ice Chic Nail Colour in 44 – £2 ($3.42 CAD).
12/11: The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid x2 – $6.80 each – $13.60 total. Replacement.
12/13: The Body Shop Coconut Body Butter x2 – $20. The Body Shop was doing buy 3 get 3 so my mom and I pooled our products. The total was $62, split 2 ways, making each Body Butter $10 and the next product $11.
12/13: The Body Shop Pink Grapefruit Exfoliating Body Scrub – $11. See above for notes on price!
12/13: The Ordinary Squalane – $7.90. Replacement.
12/15: NYX White Liquid Liner – $9. Replacement for my Stila white eyeliner.
12/15: NYX Epic Ink Eyeliner Pen – $12. Backup – I want to see if this is good enough to replace my $29 Stila liner and bought it in Canada because I knew it would be cheaper and easier to access. I probably won’t be done with my current Stila liner for awhile, but once I go back to the UK I’ll be there until September so it makes sense to stock up now while I can.
12/28: ELF Crease Brush x3 – $3 USD/$3.77 CAD each – $9 USD/$11.32 CAD total. ELF was doing free shipping with no minimum, so I jumped on the chance to grab more of this amazing and inexpensive crease brush. It can be hard to hit ELF’s free shipping minimum without just buying a bunch of crap I don’t want, so I was really glad to flesh out my brush collection without having to pay for shipping.
Total value (CAD): $182.78 Total spent (CAD): $154.10
Year-to-date value (CAD): $1540.53 Year-to-date spent (CAD): $899.55
Products received at no cost between October 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017
As I mentioned previously, I recently took a lot of Aisling‘s makeup castoffs off her hands. I took some of these items knowing that a friend or my mom would enjoy them. I ended up passing a lot of stuff on, so this list only includes what ultimately made it into my collection on a full-time basis.
10/31: The Body Shop Sparkler All Over Shimmer – £14 ($23.42 CAD). Gift.
10/31: Maybelline Color Drama Lipstick – Keep It Classy – £4.99 ($8.35 CAD). Gift.
10/31: Kiko Face Brush – 104 – £1.70 ($2.84 CAD). Gift. I feel like this kabuki brush has to be worth more, but this is the price I found when I looked it up online.
12/08: Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder – Luminous Light – $55. My mom bought this for herself but found it a bit too shimmery for her liking and passed it on to me.
12/13: The Ordinary EUK 134 0.1% – $8.80. I was in the Deciem store with my mom and she kindly picked up the tab for this one.
12/21: Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Solution – $6.95. I needed a mini Bioderma to bring with me to Quebec for Christmas, and my former boss let me have one of the GWPs she had floating around. Apparently the perks of working in cosmetics don’t end when you stop working in cosmetics…
12/25: Urban Decay Naked 2 Basics – $36. Christmas gift from my mom!
Total value: $526.14 Year-to-date value: $2274.53
So, in order to visualize all this data I made some Excel graphs.
Money spent vs. total value:
This one shows how much of my own money I spent:
And this one shows the breakdown of all the products that made it into my collection:
(By the way, the “Etc” category is my MUFE magnetic palette that I bought back in the summer.)
I’ll have an inventory update post coming soon so I won’t go into that – I just want to talk about the actual spending. This was my first year tracking my spending, so it was a blank slate for me. I am happy that the total was under $1000, though I didn’t factor in taxes here so with taxes it’ll be just about $1000. Less than half of my total of $899.55 ($449.91) was spent on makeup, which surprises me – I thought my percentage of (relatively) frivolous purchases would be higher. As I suspected, I don’t overspend on haircare, skincare, or nails – I tend to buy the first two categories on a replacement-only, as-needed basis, and while I do occasionally impulse buy nail polish I have reduced that habit significantly.
What really surprises me is the total value of the products that came into my life in 2017. I spent only about $900 of my own money (“only” – that’s still too high, really), but the total value was $3815.06. Obviously, I saved a lot by using my employee discount and because I got a lot of gratis in the first 9 months of the year, when I was still working in cosmetics. And it’s safe to say that the only reason I acquired a lot of this stuff was because it was gratis. I will receive much less free stuff in 2018!
Now that I know how much I actually spend on beauty products, it’s easier for me to set a specific budget for myself. I’m not going to worry too much about most of the categories because, like I said, I don’t feel I’m overspending in most of them. However, I’d like to cut back on the makeup and brushes for sure. I would love to reduce my spending in those categories by 30%, which gives me a budget of $392.27 (combined), down from their combined total of $560.39. Let’s just call that $400…
In 2018 I don’t think I’ll do these posts anymore – it was nice to try them for a year, but ultimately I don’t think they’re that helpful. I will track my purchases throughout the year and post an update at the end of 2018, but I’m going to abandon the quarterly updates.
One day the year will probably become so advanced that I will no longer be able to do these gimmicky little roundups. If I still have a blog in 2032 I probably will not have 32 products to share with you. I figure I’ll just keep doing this until I no longer have enough products to flesh out the list, and then I will make something new up.
Anyway, here’s what I discovered and loved in 2017. This time I’m doing it in chronological order instead of by category, because I like to shake things up. As always, these are products that I personally discovered in 2017. Most of them were not released this year! I’ll link to full reviews where possible.
The hype is real: this is a soft, blendable, natural contour shade that is perfect for fair skintones. It’s not so cool as to look ashy but not so warm as to look muddy. This is an everyday product for me and absolutely a staple over the past year.
This has to be my favourite purchase of 2017. I lusted after it for half a year and it still managed to exceed my expectations. The shadows are wonderful quality, I genuinely use and love every shade, and I can get such a variety of beautiful looks out of it. This is my favourite palette, for sure.
(By the way, I took the pictures for this post quite a long time ago, but since then I’ve actually hit pan on Cyprus Umber.)
Though these come with a hefty price tag, the vibrancy of the colours and the long-wearing formula of the liner makes me love them. I don’t have anything like these colours in my collection and I think they’re so fun and unexpected.
Despite the strange marketing of these chubby, sharpenable pencils as lip liners, I think these are great matte lipsticks. They apply easily and smoothly, last well, and aren’t too drying. Somehow I can apply them over flaky lips and still like the result. Hush Hush is my go-to neutral and I can’t get enough of the burnt orange Covert Affair.
I have a hard time getting Covert Affair to photograph as orange as it is!
Hush Hush, from all the way back when I had red hair.
The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
I’ve now gone through three bottles of this and I plan to keep going forever! This product has replaced all my other hydrating serums for a fraction of the cost. It’s great stuff, and at $6.80 CAD you really can’t go wrong.
This $10 Artis knockoff has become my absolute favourite foundation brush. Its density is unparalleled by any other brush in my collection, and it buffs foundation seamlessly into the skin. Plus, its bristles are super soft, making foundation application as pleasant as possible.
I am staunchly pro-drugstore when it comes to hair products, but Olaplex was the only thing that worked on my supremely bleach-damaged hair when I went back to blonde in March. I’ve been using it weekly since then and it’s kept my hair in great condition. I mean, I did three years’ worth of bleach damage before I ever used Olaplex, but my hair is soft and smooth and actually looks and feels like hair instead of straw. Olaplex is the best thing I’ve ever done for my hair!
ELF Small Stipple Brush
This is such a great multi-purpose brush. It’s great for applying cream products to the cheeks, and it’s become my new go-to for contouring because it gives me more control and allows me to build the product up slowly for a more subtle effect. I have a lot of time for ELF brushes, and this is one of my favourites.
Milani Eyeshadow Primer
After years of loyalty, my NARS eyeshadow primer just stopped performing very well. Disheartened, I picked up a tube of the Milani Eyeshadow Primer on emilynoel83’s recommendation, thinking that if it didn’t work out it was only nine bucks down the drain. Well, colour me pleased: this primer holds onto eyeshadow amazingly well. I use it every single day and I know that nothing will come off my eyelids until I want it to.
Vichy Teint Idéal Pure Light Face Roll-On*
This is the most beautiful, impactful wet-look highlighter. Vichy’s makeup doesn’t get any buzz online, but if this absolutely stunning liquid highlighter is anything to go by, we should be paying attention to their releases. I neglected to take a picture of this on my face, but you can see it swatched on the right below:
Stila Magnificent Metals Liquid Eyeshadow in Rose Gold Retro
As usual, I jumped on the bandwagon late, but these liquid eyeshadows deserve every bit of the hype they’ve received. They are pure glitter in a user-friendly format, and the shade Rose Gold Retro is a beautiful dream.
Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Fire and Ice
This summer I decided to jump into the world of oranges and orangey-red lipsticks, starting with the long-time classic Fire and Ice. I’ve always been iffy about these types of tones on myself, but I surprised myself by immediately falling in love with Fire and Ice. The formula is comfortable and smooth without being slippery, and the colour is divine. I’ve seen appear on different people variously as an orange-red, a coral with a definitive hint of pink, and a straight-up orange. I don’t why I like this on myself so much, because it has a healthy dose of orange and neon, which should be a very unflattering combination on me. But I lived in this lipstick this summer!
God, I love this lipstick so goddamn much. I have been searching for this exact colour – a super vibrant coral that flatters my complexion – for eons, and So Sofia is it. Not only is the colour beautiful and harmonious on my face, the formula is excellent. I bought this lipstick in the second half of the year and it’s already one of my favourites ever.
When I ordered this brush out of curiosity back in the summer, I didn’t expect for it to become my favourite blush brush. I merely wanted another one so that I didn’t have to clean my brushes as often. (Uh, I already clean them shamefully infrequently, so…) But the soft synthetic bristles combined with the shape and size of this brush make it absolutely perfect for applying the exact right amount of blush every single time. I’ve used it almost every day since I bought it.
I’m very into ColourPop’s sheer matte Blotted Lips – they’re a comfortable, easy way to wear colour, and they’re a staple for casual makeup days. The terracotta Candyfloss is an unexpected favourite – as with most of the lip products I’ve featured in this roundup, Candyfloss has taught me to move outside of my comfort zone and embrace colours in the orange and brown families. Though it’s a bit of an unusual colour, the sheer matte finish means Candyfloss can look fairly understated and casual.
Urban Decay Liquid Moondust in Solstice
I don’t know if I’m just looking in the wrong places, but I haven’t seen anybody talking about Urban Decay’s liquid eyeshadows. Solstice is a stunning blue-red duochrome that I positively die for. It lasts forever on my eyes too – and when it comes to liquid and cream eyeshadows on my hooded lids, that’s a feat. I’ll have to check out some of the other shadows in this line, because it looks like there’s a whole range of absolutely stunning shades.
If you asked me to describe my ideal foundation, I’d probably say “Fair with neutral-to-yellow undertones, medium coverage, finish somewhere between satin and dewy, hydrating and able to glide easily over dry patches, can be applied with brushes, a sponge, or fingers”. And that is exactly what the It Cosmetics CC Cream is! I actually tried quite a few foundations this year which I liked – Maybelline Fit Me Matte and Poreless, The Ordinary Serum and Coverage – but this one takes the cake. It looks so beautiful on my skin and is always comfortable to wear, and I love the incredibly functional packaging.
You know, if you ask anybody who knows me they will no doubt tell you that one of my main hobbies is complaining bitterly. Yet I have never done a year-end roundup of products that disappointed me, which amazes me. So far I’ve done three yearly “best of” posts, but this is my first ever “worst of” post. (I decided to post this one before my Top 17 of 2017 because I thought it’d be better to end 2017 on a high note.)
Unlike my yearly “best of” recaps, I have not chosen a catchy number for this post. This is simply a list of everything that disappointed me in 2017, in chronological order.
Maybelline Lash Sensational Luscious Full Fan Effect Mascara
I don’t have my own picture of this product because I slammed it into the garbage and never looked back.
Look, it’s hard to truly impress me with a mascara, but I also rarely hate a mascara. Generally mascara generates in me emotion no stronger than “Meh.” The last mascara that inspired true, passionate hatred was Benefit’s They’re Real!, which is my gold standard for shitty mascara. That was about four years ago, so that tells you how rarely I encounter a mascara that really enrages me. However, this mascara is that. I am mad at it, okay? The first time I applied it my very standard set of eyelashes became three giant clumps and I was like, “Well, that sometimes happens with brand new mascara.” Then I tried to wash it off, and I had flashbacks to trying to wash off They’re Real!, which is a battle which usually ends up in you cradling your amputated eyelashes and crying in the corner of your bathroom. Lash Sensational Luscious is THE EXACT SAME. And this isn’t even the waterproof version! I tried it again the next day just to be fair, and my opinion did not change. Look, maybe it does get better with age, but I was not about to subject my lashes to warfare just to find out.
Marc Jacobs Style Eye Con Plush Eyeshadow Palette in The Lolita
My friend Kristin gave me this palette for Christmas because she wanted to buy me something that I would never buy myself. She’s right that I would never pay $71 for a palette of seven eyeshadows. And, you know, unlike the Lash Sensational Luscious mascara, I do not hate this palette. Actually, I think it’s very wearable, and most of the shadows are very pretty and blendable. This is sort of like a Naked Basics palette kicked up a notch; it has a few more interesting shimmery shades in addition to the staple mattes, and the packaging is a lot more beautiful than Naked Bascis’ rubbery, utilitarian feel. But – and if you’ve ever swatched this palette you’ll know exactly what is coming – that one shade, man. The middle one, I mean. It’s glittery and looks so pretty in the pan, but I have never experienced such fallout carnage in my life. Even packed on with my finger for maximum density, it delivers very little colour payoff. All the glitter seems to miss my eyelid and fall directly onto my cheeks, where it sticks unless I remove my makeup. It SUCKS, dude. And when 14% of your $71 palette is unuseable, you’ve got yourself a stinker. I see that MJ has discontinued this product, and the new palettes in this packaging seem to be getting good reviews – which is good, because they cost a pretty penny. Overall I do actually enjoy this palette and use it fairly frequently, but the one awful shade brings the entire thing down.
ELF Highlighting Palette
Pictured on the far left.
These highlighters do not show up on me at all. There’s a subtle highlighter and there’s a highlighter that does nothing. You can see swatches in my highlighter inventory post, but actually you won’t be able to see anything because they truly look like absolutely nothing on the skin. My mom, who is all about subtle highlighter, had the same experience with this palette.
On the opposite end of the spectrum from Lash Sensational, this mascara just did nothing for me. I mean, I can get behind a subtle mascara, but when a mascara is named Mega Multiplier I’m just going to assume that it sucks when it gives me this effect:
The Ordinary Caffeine Solution
Like several other bloggers who bought this product because it was cheap, I have concluded that this does absolutely nothing for my dark circles. I love so many products from The Ordinary, so it’s a bummer that this one didn’t work out for me. Luckily it was so cheap that I’m not exactly crying about it.
ColourPop Lippie Stix in Trixie
I ordered this thinking it would finally allow me to end my long-term quest for the perfect bright coral. I then promptly forgot about it and bought Marc Jacobs So Sofia. When my ColourPop package arrived, I kicked myself for buying So Sofia when I had Trixie on the way. When I actually got around to trying Trixie on, however, I felt vindicated – it’s a hair too neon to be totally flattering on me. Also, the formula is thin, tugs in application, and emphasizes dry patches. I really like the Matte X Lippie Stix I have, so this one was a huge letdown.
Here’s Trixie on me:
Definitely not the worst colour I’ve ever put on my lips, but when compared to So Sofia I don’t think there’s any contest:
ColourPop Ultra Blotted Lips in Split
The Ultra Blotted Lips are a cool idea, in theory – I can always get behind a good lip stain. Unfortunately, Split is a deep enough colour that it gets patchy in application very easily, and it doesn’t wear long enough to justify the discomfort of a liquid lipstick or the finnicky application.
This is a full-coverage foundation made for combination/oily skin and I knew I wouldn’t like it, so it’s not exactly a disappointment. But it is a product which I dislike very adamantly. It looks like a dry, heavy mask on my skin, and it only looks drier and heavier by the end of the day. But hey – if you’re oily you’d probably really enjoy this!
Revlon PhotoReady Eye Art
I’m going to do a proper review of these at some point, but suffice to say that these are just “meh” in the world of liquid glitter eyeshadow. They’re finnicky to apply, take too long to dry, and don’t wear particularly well. It’s a shame, because they’re beautiful!
So there we go: my most disappointing products of 2017. Nine doesn’t seem too bad, really – that’s less than one stinker per month. Have you tried any of these products? Do you think they suck, too, or have you had more luck than me?
My last few trips I did not bother to pack light makeup-wise, either because I didn’t have to or because I felt I needed options. This weekend, however, I’m going to Prague for purely touristy reasons, and I thought this would be the perfect time to exercise some restraint. As with all my European weekend trips, I pack entirely in one small school-sized backpack, so I really need to streamline my makeup to make room. I thought I would share my very minimal makeup bag today.
I can easily fill a liquids bag with skincare, but I know that when I’m walking around all day and sleeping in a hostel dorm room at night my desire to keep up with a complex skincare routine is zero. So my liquids bag – which is from Muji, by the way – reflects a back-to-basics approach.
The skincare steps I cannot do without are cleansing and moisturizing. The Caudalie Vino Perfect Serum from this year’s Sephora birthday gift will help boost the La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra moisturizer to keep my skin nice and hydrated. I’ve never had issues with dry undereyes until the past month or so, so I decided to bring the Biotherm Homme Eye Depuffer (which, by the way, is a nice gel eye cream even if you’re not a man). I got a sample of the Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Reconstructor which I’ve been saving for travel, since obviously my poor dead hair requires a lot of moisture. I don’t have any travel-sized shampoo right now, so I’ll have to pick one up at the airport.
The IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream is such an easy, fuss-free foundation that it was a no-brainer when it came to choosing which base product to pack. The packaging is also incredibly travel-friendly. For concealer, Maybelline Master Conceal works under the eyes and on blemishes.
I can’t be without Milani Eyeshadow Primer, and Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner is a staple for me as well. The Lancôme Hypnôse Drama mascara mini is convenient for travel, and I like the mascara as well. (Lancôme mascaras are so hit and miss to me, but this one is a hit.) Finally, a fresh tube of Essence Lash and Brow Mascara to keep my brow hairs in place.
And then the rest of my makeup easily fits in one small bag, which is a point of pride when I am prone to overpacking.
For the cheeks, Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Mood Exposure goes with everything and is a perennial travel staple for me. This is the most beautiful flattering blush colour in the world despite how “meh” it appears in the pan. I’m not sure if I’ll bother with highlighter, but I figured I’d give myself the option. Glossier Haloscope in Quartz is easy to apply without brushes and it gives a very natural effect, so I thought it would be perfect for travel.
Urban Decay Naked Basics is probably the most boring travel palette choice in the world, but it’s small, practically indestructible, and foolproof. I decided to add an eyebrow pencil into my repertoire mainly for travel purposes, so I don’t have to mess around with a brush and pomade when I’m on the go. The Annabelle Skinny Brow Liner in Universal Taupe is one of many ABH Brow Wiz dupes, and it works for me.
Forgive me for being extra and packing two lip balms. Overnight, my lips need the heavy-duty power of Nuxe Rêve de Miel, but during the day I prefer something a little lighter like Vaseline Lip Therapy. In an uncharacteristic move, I am committing to a single lip liner – Rimmel Exaggerate Lip Liner in Enchantment – and a single lipstick – YSL Rouge Volupté in #17. I love moisturizing lip products when I’m travelling, and the soft berry shade of #17 makes it a perfect candidate for this trip. I usually like to pair the Rouge Voluptés with a liner underneath to increase the staying power a bit, so I’ll likely just wear this combination together each day.
(By the way, I definitely washed that foundation brush after I took this picture!)
In case you were wondering about cleansing, I did buy a pack of makeup wipes from Superdrug. I hardly ever use wipes, but I just think washing my face with an actual cleanser while travelling is more hassle than it’s worth. My skin is pretty resilient, so I think it’ll survive. I love using actives on my skin, but I know that I can get away with just makeup wipes and moisturizer for three nights. It’ll make my life easier!
Anyway, I’m off this evening with my nice light makeup bag. I’ve wanted to go Prague for years, so I’m really excited that I could finally make it happen.