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.
My empties posts are always at irregular intervals because that’s how using products up actually works in reality. Sometimes I’ll use up eight thousand products in the span of a month and sometimes three months will pass with my only empties being, like, a lip balm and brow gel. This post features a four-month accumulation because things were slow on the empties front around here; after my last empties post, I was left with a bunch of close-to-full products.
But I had a very convenient alibi for an empties post when it came to leaving the UK – although I’m getting this up nearly a month after returning home.
No press samples in this batch. Things I received for free through work are marked with an asterisk.
A-Derma Soothing Foaming Gel*: This is a decent cleansing gel, though it’s nothing special. I prefer more hydrating cleansers, anyway.
Vichy Idélia Peeling*: I liked this! My skin responds well to glycolic acid and this was no exception. However, if Deciem can survive their CEO’s long-term public meltdown, the glycolic from The Ordinary is like $7 and just as good.
The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5: Speaking of The Ordinary! I’ve honestly lost count of how many bottles of this I’ve gone through. It’s just such an effective, low-cost serum. Will keep using.
Origins Drink Up! Overnight Intensive Mask: You can see that I’ve done a number on this tube in an attempt to get out every last drop. This is my favourite night cream for winter time, and I can say that for the second year in a row the dreaded nose flakies have failed to make an appearance thanks to this rich moisturizer. A tube conveniently lasts me November through March, which is the perfect amount of time.
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Intense Soothing Care*: This is a really great daytime moisturizer. It’s rich enough to really hydrate dry skin, but thin enough to sit well under makeup. I’m working through some other things right now, but I’d happily go back to this. I went through a few tubes of the thicker, richer Toleriane Ultra, but I think this one is better-suited to daytime use.
Vaseline Lip Therapy + SPF 15: This was a decent lip balm that certainly got me through a dry winter. Nivea works better for me, though.
A forgotten empty, photographed later:
Bioderma Sensibio Eye Contour Gel*: A nice thin eye cream that delivers a medium amount of moisture. My undereyes have become quite dry lately, which I’m chalking up to age, so maybe I will buy another tube.
And while on vacation I used up a mini 100mL bottle of Bioderma Sensibio H2O which I forgot to photograph. The original Bioderma remains one of my favourite micellar solutions, alongside La Roche-Posay.
John Frieda Sheer Blonde Tone Correcting Shampoo: Oh wow, more of these? I can’t help it – it’s a good blonde shampoo and I would always buy it when Superdrug had it for £3.95. That’s a bargain!
John Frieda Sheer Blonde Go Blonder Lightening Conditioner (mini): A solid conditioner, another tried and true product that rotates in and out of my haircare routine with regularity.
Toni and Guy Damage Repair Mask: I’ve used up a lot of deep conditioner in four years as a blonde, so I feel confident in saying that this one was average. I want to say it weighed my hair down a bit, but now that my hair is actually reasonably healthy it gets greasier a lot faster, so it’s hard to say accurately.
A straggler, photographed later:
Toni and Guy Instant Refresh Dry Shampoo: This dry shampoo worked well, but not as well as Batiste. It also had a very strong smell which I did not enjoy. The only reason I bought it was because I was one second away from fully succumbing to jetlag and could not for the life of me find the Batiste in the Superdrug I was in. You know that when I step off a plane my first priority is Batiste.
The Body Shop Coconut Body Butter x2: This is the only Body Butter I like, and I exclusively buy it in bulk during 3 for $30 sales. Because of the coconut oil, it has a thicker, semi-solid texture and it does absolute wonders on my perpetually-scaly, KP-ravaged limbs. Weirdly, the first of these tubs that I went through had the same texture as a regular Body Butter, which was a devastating blow. The second one had the texture I like, which was a lot better – but I’m still thinking they’ve reformulated to make the textures consistent across all scents, and I just ended up with an older tub. If this is the case I won’t keep buying it, since the texture was what I liked so much about it. (Okay, and it makes me smell like I live in a hut with a palm frond roof, which I love.)
L’Occitane Almond Shower Oil: You know I love this stuff. Is it absurdly expensive for something that is on my skin for like twenty seconds total? Yes! But it’s so luxurious, and I really cannot underestimate how dry my arms and legs are. They need every bit of moisture they can get.
The Body Shop Shea Butter Exfoliating Sugar Body Scrub: I am firmly a drugstore gal when it comes to body scrubs, but I picked this up during a 3 for $30 sale so I can’t be mad. It had a very interesting soufflé-like texture. Otherwise, it was a sugar scrub. It was fine, but if you pay full price for it you’re a fool. (Well, that goes for all products from The Body Shop, but especially sugar scrubs. Come on.)
Benefit “That Gal” Primer (mini): Can we talk about the value of this mini? It contains 7.5mL of product, and the full size is a whopping 11mL. I mean. What. Strangely generous size aside, this is a pretty classic illuminating primer, though it has a thicker texture than others I’ve used and a very noticeable pink tinge. I enjoyed using it during the transition from winter to spring, when my skin decided to protest the change in seasons by being dry as a bone. Would not pay for the full size, but would probably spend Sephora points on another mini.
Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Crème in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (mini): I don’t know if it’s fair to feel this accomplished about using up a mini, but I do. I mean, this is only the third lipstick I’ve used up in my life, so it has to count for something! I really like the Le Marc Lip Crème formula and this was a very flattering neutral which I enjoyed wearing immensely.
Lancôme Hypnôse Mascara (mini): This used to be a favourite because it delivered volume and length without any clumps. Like, I dare you to try to make this mascara clumpy. It just doesn’t happen. Unfortunately, I have now discovered that it does not hold a curl at all, which is a dealbreaker for me. I don’t know if the mini just performs differently than the full size I had, but something is up here.
Lancôme Hypnôse Drama Mascara (mini): I don’t remember anything about this. The end.
Only one item in this category today, and a boring one at that. Tesco Beauty Nail Polish Remover was a nail polish remover. I got carded when I was buying it in September because I was also buying a knife and you’re not allowed to do that if you’re under eighteen. When the self checkout machine flagged me I totally thought it was because of the nail polish remover because I guess you can huff it or maybe make something explosive out of it. That story is not very interesting, but neither is nail polish remover.
The end! Now I’m back in Canada accumulating more empty things to show off at some random point down the line.
I don’t really remember how this trip was shaped into its final form. Initially, the whole point was for my parents to visit me and show me the Scottish Highlands, since it seemed ridiculous for me to get my Master’s in Scotland and miss out on that breathtaking beauty. Then Ireland seemed like a good idea because of its proximity to the UK and the fact that me and my mom had been wanting my dad to see it for years. Denmark was just a bit of indulgence, really. I’d been to Copenhagen back in April 2015 and knew instantly that my Nordic-loving mom would love it, so it’s natural that we wanted to go. How exactly we decided to tack it onto the itinerary I’m not entirely sure. As for the Faroes, my mom has wanted to visit for most of her life, and it seemed criminal not to go if we were already going to be in Denmark.
My dad was not interested in this leg of our journey (or from being away from home for so long), so when we finished up in Ireland he flew back to Toronto and my mom and I were on to Denmark. We flew into Aalborg, a charming city in the north of the country. My impression of Aalborg is based on a very short time there during which all we really did was go out for dinner to Dalle Valle, an incredible buffet-style restaurant that I heartily recommend. That’s because we were in Aalborg overnight simply so we could get up to Skagen, which is a two hour train ride away.
Skagen is incredibly quaint. The town is lovely, filled with cute yellow buildings. However, we were not visiting for the town. No, we wanted to go to Grenen, the northernmost point in Denmark, where the Baltic Sea and North Sea meet. The quality of light at Grenen is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, the colours of the beach almost otherworldly. Pictures really don’t capture its incredible, bizarre beauty, nor what it looks like when the two seas meet. I realized at many moments throughout this trip that there are some places which are so special that they can only truly be appreciated in person, in the moment. You have your time in these incredible places, and you leave, and that’s all you get. Grenen is perhaps the most extreme example of this phenomenon that I personally have experienced. In photographs, it looks like a nice beach. In person, you can see the waves coming in from different angles, perpendicular, and you feel that this place has a quality that is entirely its own. There are some places in the world where you feel very small, and Grenen is one of them.
I first found out about Skagen and Grenen back in 2014, so this trip was four years in the making. It was an incredibly blustery day and a lovely ten degrees Celsius – but after years of wanting to be here, I had to take my hiking boots off and stand with my feet in both seas at once. The water was painfully cold, but I don’t regret it for a moment.
I think this photo best captures what I mean about Grenen being almost otherworldly, its colour palette just extraordinary.
After walking about 8km out to Grenen and back to our hotel, we had a lovely sushi dinner at Genki. The next morning, we were up early to catch a train to Copenhagen. We only had one full day there, which we spent wandering around city center. We did pop into the National Museum of Denmark to see some more bog bodies as well as some wonderful archaeological artifacts. We also had the most amazing Danish brunch at Café Europa. If you’re ever in Copenhagen I highly recommend trying this out. It’s entirely different from North American brunch and incredibly delicious.
Me and my mom were just talking about this meal the other day, and we both agreed that it was the culinary highlight of our trip. Be warned, though – it’s not cheap, coming out to about $60 CAD per person.
I was not moved to cart my DSLR around with me in Copenhagen, but here are a few shots I took with my phone:
Taken at King’s Garden, which houses Rosenborg Palace. The expression on the lion’s face cracks me up.
On Sunday morning we were off to the airport to fly the Faroe Islands! The airport in Vágar is the smallest one I’ve ever seen, with only two gates. (There are only two airlines that fly in and out of the Faroes.) It also has the most beautifully-situated parking lot in the world:
For those who don’t know, the Faroe Islands are an autonomous country owned by the Kingdom of Denmark. They have their own language, Faroese, which to a North American outsider resembles Icelandic, though Faroese people all seem to speak Danish and English as well. The entire country has a population of just 50,000. The climate hovers between about 6 and 15 Celsius year-round. The highest temperature ever measured there was 26.3 degrees Celsius, which is just 79 degrees Fahrenheit. I mean, 26 Celsius would be quite a mild day during the peak of summer here in Toronto, so for that to be the basically unheard of extreme in the Faroes is shocking to me!
Our cab ride to our Airbnb in Tórshavn was absolutely incredible. The Faroese landscape is like nothing I’ve ever seen. It’s endlessly mountainous but without trees, and everything is a strange yellowy green. Tórshavn, one of the smallest capital cities in the world, is filled with the cutest houses on planet Earth. We spent our first day there wandering around the historical district of Tinganes, and I was captivated by the architecture. There were daffodils everywhere, and I noticed a lot of windowsills were crammed with plants and trinkets. And I absolutely loved the use of colour, especially against the dark grey and black that many houses are painted.
We also stumbled upon the lovely Tórshavn Cathedral as we wandered:
Tórshavn is such a wonderfully picturesque place – we wandered all around the town and it was never anything less than adorable. I mean, really:
The next day we took a boat ride from the town of Vestmanna, dipping into little enclaves surrounded by incredibly high cliffs. The scenery was stunning beyond belief, and in the shallower parts the water was a vibrant turquoise unlike anything I’ve seen before.
I mean, really, this water was insane.
On Wednesday we took a bus to Klaksvík, second only to Tórshavn in population. It was a horrible rainy, grey day, and we walked along the water with the wind whipping at us. The fog made for some nice pictures, though.
In the end, the inhospitable weather was totally worth it, because after our walk we got on a 12-minute helicopter ride back to Tóshavn. I’ve never been in a helicopter before, and it was one of the coolest experiences of my life. Flying above the stunning, unique Faroese landscape is something I’ll never forget. When we landed, new passengers boarded the helicopter and we watched it take off. The force of the propellors was way stronger than I’d imagined – it almost whipped my mom’s phone out of her hand!
On Thursday we were meant to take another day trip, but unfortunately it was cancelled at the last minute. It also happened to be a holiday in the Faroe Islands, so everything was closed. We walked around a little bit and took pictures of the unique Vesturkirkjan (which you may have noticed in some of the pictures above). Ultimately we took it easy since we’d already seen most of the small town and there was nothing else to do.
Bet you’ve never seen a church quite like this…
It wasn’t a complete wash – we took the money from the trip refund and had delicious sushi at Etika. We actually had Japanese food three times in Denmark and the Faroes – it might seem like a strange area to eat this particular cuisine, but they are huge fishing cultures and the food is always wonderful and fresh. I’ve had sushi several times in the UK and it’s always pretty underwhelming, whereas it’s been consistently fantastic in Nordic countries.
Yay, getting rid of things! I did a pretty thorough destash before I moved in September, but decluttering is a constant process and I have found even more that needs to leave my collection. I’m going to go ahead and say that in nine months I downsized my lipstick collection by almost 50%, and I am very proud of that. More on that in a bit…
First, a few things that I left behind in Toronto when I was there over Christmas – a relatively small purge which inspired a larger round.
First, the hideously bad Urban Decay All Nighter Foundation. I mean, hideously bad if you’re me and have dry skin and don’t like full coverage. If you like full coverage and have combo or oily skin, you might like this! It really did look like shit on me, though.
I absolutely fell in love with NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation back when I first bought it in November 2016 despite its trickiness. Over time, my skin started rejecting it, and I just found that it never looked flattering. I don’t think my skin got any dryer, but something definitely changed. It’s a shame, because it really was lovely, and I only used about 1/3 of the bottle. At least I bought it with Optimum points – I’d really hate to get rid of a $60 foundation that I spent real money on. My mom has informed me that she has taken the liberty of adopting this foundation and actually enjoys it, so I feel quite happy knowing that someone is getting my Optimum points’ worth.
The Seventeen Instant Glow Shimmer Brick is a really pretty rosy highlighter, but I’m trying to cull my highlighter collection. Ultimately it has to go because I rarely use powder highlighter and it’s just a bit more dramatic than I usually go for. It’s still a nice product, though – the Boots house brands do a great job.
ColourPop Ultra Blotted Lips in Split is just not my thing, as it turns out. The lack of staying power, finnicky application, and dryness on the lips are – shockingly – not a winning combination.
ColourPop Lippie Stix in Trixiewas just never the colour I wanted it to be, and I found the formula too slippy for my tastes. ColourPop is just so frustrating – I’ve found a handful of really great, cost-effective products from them, but there are also a lot of duds amongst the impulse purchases I threw into my cart to meet the $50 free shipping minimum. It’s probably not worth all the wasted money and product for the few good things. Ultimately, I think I have to break up with ColourPop.
Buxom Plumpline Lip Liner in Mystery* is a really pretty plum that’s just a bit too patchy to be workable. Let’s be real – I have plenty of lipstick, there’s no use holding onto stuff that’s not quite right when I could be wearing formulas and colours I absolutely love. Out of the six of these lip pencils that Buxom sent me back in 2016, I now only have two – but I wear them constantly. That’s a lot better than having four that I neglect and two that I wear.
Lastly, the Revlon PhotoReady Eye Art 2-in-1 Cream Eyeshadow and Sparkle just never worked for me. I love my Stila and Urban Decay liquid eyeshadows, so those are the ones I’ll continue to use. I meant to do a full review of the Revlon ones, but suffice to say they’re thick and sticky to the point of being downright uncomfortable.
When I got back to Glasgow, I was in a decluttering mood, and over the past few months I’ve been combing through my collection, trying out things that had been gathering dust, and tossing more items into my declutter pile.
Some highlighters had to go! Kiko Radiant Touch Creamy Stick Highlighter is pretty, but I’ll always prefer the Glossier Haloscope in Quartz. While I do very much enjoy the formula and wow factor of the Makeup Revolution Liquid Highlighter in Starlight, realistically I’ll get far more wear out of my subtler highlighters. I was enchanted with the Hourglass Ambient Strobe Lighting Powder in Iridescent when I first got it, but I really do prefer cream and liquid highlights these days. This is a very pretty product and it looks practically untouched, so it’ll be nice to pass it on to a friend who will enjoy it more than I do!
I have finally accepted that I don’t wear bronzer, so it’s bye-bye to the Physician’s Formula Butter Bronzer in Light Bronzer. I got this last winter and wore it, like, two times in the summer, and now that we’ve made it through yet another winter and it remains pretty much untouched… it’s time to admit defeat. I find the tone of this a bit too orange for my liking. The Body Shop Honey Bronzer is actually a great tone for me, and if I ever want to dip my toes back into the bronzer world again I’ll repurchase that. But I think for now I will live a bronzer-free life.
The Body Shop Shade Adjusting Drops were passed on from Aisling, but none of the foundations currently in my stash require adjusting and I don’t tend to purchase foundations that I won’t be able to use straight out of the bottle. Speaking of mismatched shades, I really liked the formula of the PS… My Perfect Colour Concealer in Nude Beige, but it was not, in fact, my perfect colour.
I have declared this many many times, but I am finally ready to officially and truthfully state that I am over liquid lipsticks. I’m not even going to say “burn my house to the ground if you see me buying another liquid lipstick,” because I don’t need any incentive other than the thought of my lips shrivelling up and dying. Also because arson is illegal so I will not encourage that behaviour. The only liquid lipsticks I have left are ColourPop Dr. M (because it is a very special colour), Stila Chianti (because I haven’t found a bullet lipstick alternative to it yet), and my two Lancôme Matte Shakers* (because they don’t look, feel, or wear like liquid lipsticks).
Other lip products that had to go: Rimmel Lasting Finish by Kate Moss in 017 (featured here – old; not my most flattering colour); Lise Watier Rouge Gourmand Velours in Cake Pop (featured here – four years old and not something I wear very often); Bite Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Beetroot (mini – I’m not a huge wearer of deep reds and I prefer something a bit longer-wearing for such a dramatic colour); Maybelline Color Drama Lip Pencil in Keep It Classy (too similar to other neutrals I own, though the formula is lovely).
That’s thirteen lipsticks gone in this post in addition to the twenty-four I decluttered this past summer. When I did my lipstick inventory in August, I had an overwhelming seventy lipsticks. So I have managed to reduce it by just about bang-on fifty percent, with a total of thirty-seven lipsticks in my collection. It hasn’t been this small in years! I honestly wasn’t even aiming for this; I was just throwing things I didn’t like into a declutter box for months until I suddenly realized I’d halved my collection. I didn’t wear a lot of makeup this past school year because I was only on campus three days a week and I didn’t feel like doing fancy/exciting makeup most of the time anyway. I think that made it a lot easier to get rid of things, because when I was wearing makeup at least 40% less frequently than I had been, I wanted to use things I really, truly loved on the days that I did. That meant chucking a lot of things that I only wore when I remembered about them and keeping the things that I really love. Thirty-seven lipsticks is still more than a human actually needs, but my collection has been hovering at fifty (or more…) since at least 2015. I’m not going to use this declutter as an excuse to buy 15 more lipsticks, but ridding my collection of the dead weight does give me a bit of breathing room to carefully select a new product here and there, as I did when I got a new Marc Jacobs lipstick in Copenhagen this month.
Eye things: Bella Pierre Shimmer Powder in Snowflake is a very pretty sheer white shadow, but do you think I have the patience to mess around with a loose eyeshadow? No. Of course I don’t. Urban Decay Troublemaker Mascarafrustrated me with its underwhelmingness.
A few truly random things: The Body Shop Sparkler All Over Shimmer, because I have no opportunity in my life to wear body glitter. Superdrug Naturally Radiant 5% Glycolic Acid, because I bought it out of desperation and I prefer an 8% glycolic that doesn’t smell weird. The Real Techniques Essential Foundation Brush is certainly not essential to me. I have highlighter brushes that I prefer to bdellium tools 944.
Recently I’ve been reflecting on minimalism and decluttering. I’ve reduced my makeup purchasing significantly in 2018 (like, the only makeup products I’ve purchased – as opposed to received as a gift – are a £4 concealer in March and an £8.99 tube of mascara in April). That said, I don’t think this extremely low level of buying is going to continue on forever. I’ve come a long way in reducing my consumerist tendencies and impulse purchases, but I’m not naïve enough to think that I’m done buying makeup forever. Inevitably, I get rid of a lot of things. And I think that’s okay! A lot of these products are things that I’ve had and used for years, that I’ve managed to get a lot of mileage out of but that aren’t right for me anymore. I don’t think it’s horrific that I didn’t actually finish up my tube of Rimmel lipstick, because I used it frequently for at least four years and I got my $6.99’s worth out of it for sure. And products that I didn’t get a lot of use out of – like ColourPop Tuesday – we can chalk up to learning experiences.
I like to have a diverse makeup collection because it’s fun to try new things and to have options. But I also like to feel like everything I have is being used. So if I’m going to keep buying new makeup, I will also continue to declutter, so that my collection remains within that sweet spot. When my makeup collection first swelled to a size that I found unmanageable, I thought I could perform one big cull and be done with it. But that’s definitely not the case – as long as I’m buying new things, old things will have to leave my collection. I don’t tend to sit down and pick through my collection all at once, either. Instead, I use something, realize I don’t like it much, and throw it into a box. When the box gets full, I do a blog post and let my friends go through everything. This might be the last declutter post on here for some time since I’ve definitely trimmed the fat, but you can bank on seeing another one at some point. That’s just the nature of the beast.
By the way, I’m moving back to Toronto tomorrow, so wish me luck hauling 3 suitcases and a backpack across the world!
Prior to this trip, I’d been to Ireland twice, once in late 2014 and once in early 2015, and my mom had visited as a teenager in the 70s. But my dad had never been, and we both knew he would absolutely love it, so we pressured him until he relented. My dad is often a reluctant traveller, but always enthusiastic once we arrive. (See also our family trip to Italy in 2012.) We planned our Irish trip loosely, knowing where we would end up in the evening for the first eight days and then flying by the seat of our pants for the last two. All three of us had things we wanted to do, as well, but for the most part we went where our whims took us. Personally the thing I wanted to do the most was hop on over to Dingle Town to see Fungie the dolphin, and you will see how that turned out!
We started with a hilariously short flight from Glasgow to Dublin, a city I first visited in December of 2014. We repeated a bit of what I’d already done, including the National Museum of Archaeology (to visit my favourite bog body, Old Croghan Man, who made me have an existential crisis in 2014), Kilmainham Gaol (which neither of my parents had done but which I insisted they experience), and Trinity College Library. We found it slightly annoying that you have to pay €14 to see the Book of Kells just to enter the old library – you can basically see the Book for a nanosecond if you’re lucky since there’s such a crowd. Me and my mom had already “seen” it before and my dad didn’t really care about it, but we attempted to get a glance since we’d paid for it. In the end it was worth the ticket price because my dad adored the library, which was basically the only thing he actually wanted to do in Ireland prior to the trip.
We saw two other libraries while in Dublin, too. At the suggestion of a characteristically chatty taxi driver, we headed to Marsh’s Library next to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It’s a small library dating back to 1707, and they had on an exhibition of books that had been stolen from the library and either replaced or returned. Some of them had crazy stories attached – booksellers who would find 200-year-old books and return them to their rightful home, things like that. Plus, who can say no to perusing beautiful old books?
Kilmainham Gaol and Marsh’s Library
We also went to Chester Beatty Library and checked out their exhibition on the Coëtivy Hours, which consisted of a lot of tiny, intricate illuminated pages. Though the whole library seems wonderful, we were getting pretty tired so we ended up ducking out after we’d seen the book of hours. However, the library is completely free, so it’s worth putting on your list if you’re in Dublin!
Finally, we stumbled upon the Douglas Hyde Gallery on the Trinity College campus, which was having a free exhibition of artist Tamara Henderson’s textile work. Her creations are so special and interesting – some are purely beautiful, some are bewilderingly lovely. She’s also Canadian, and from the abundance of Maritime paraphernalia tucked into her work I would assume an East Coaster.
At this point I don’t feel the need to return to Dublin. There are a lot of really amazing things there, but it’s also very touristy and I think Ireland has a lot more to offer. However, if you are in Dublin, it’s a great city with beautiful architecture and a fascinating history. Everything I mentioned in this post is worth doing, but if I could recommend one thing it would be Kilmainham Gaol. I’ve done it twice and it was incredible both times! It illuminates so much about Irish history, from the famine to the cruelty the Irish people have experienced at the hands of the English to the Easter Uprising of 1916 which eventually led to Irish independence. It’s a bit out of the way from other tourist destinations, but it’s totally worth it.
After our day in Dublin we headed up to Northern Ireland to see the Giant’s Causeway, which was on my mom’s bucket list. Obviously, words really don’t do it justice, so here are some pictures:
We also stopped at the Dark Hedges on our way back into the Republic. I haven’t watched Game of Thrones in years so I 100% did not care about them for that reason – they’re just a really cool thing to see!
We moved on to the northwest of the Republic, ending up on the Inishowen peninsula in County Donegal. This is where my mom’s ancestors are originally from, although we don’t know exactly where they lived. This is probably the corniest North American Irish person thing to say, but being there was really nice because it made me think of my extremely well-travelled grandpa, who loved Ireland and who was the one who discovered where our ancestors came from. The last time I travelled a lot I kept a dedicated travel blog and he always commented on my posts to share his experiences in the places he’d been to or funny quips about the places he hadn’t. I thought of him a lot while in Ireland, and though it’s been over a year and a half since he died I truly feel his presence when I’m travelling. He’d love to know that we were up in the OG homeland.
County Donegal was beautiful and rugged and full of sheep (and lambs). I probably saw at least a thousand lambs over the course of the trip and every single time we drove past one I’d yell as if it was my first time ever encountering one. We drove past many on our drive up to Malin Head, the northernmost point in Ireland. At Malin Head, me and my mom hiked out to Hell’s Hole, a chasm in the cliffs. What a beautiful place! Again, pictures are better than words here:
From Malin Head we headed to Doagh Famine Village, a remarkable place. Ireland has quite a few famine villages that you can experience, but I’m willing to bet that none are as incredible as this place. It’s a true labour of love, run and guided by a man who lived in one of the small houses there until the mid-80s. He’s dedicated his life to teaching people about poverty around the world, and he is so passionate and well-read. I got to drink a shot of Irish moonshine (called poteen, or poitín in Irish), which was not necessarily enjoyable but which was cool nonetheless. (Unsurprisingly, it’s made of potatoes, so it’s quite similar to vodka.) It’s really hard to describe what the famine village is like – it’s not polished, it’s a large-scale DIY project, and it’s so compassionate. Another thing I’d highly recommend that’s off the beaten track!
Here’s a window from one of the houses in the village. Each house was white with a different bright colour used to brighten up the trim.
And a beautiful vista from the adjacent café:
In Sligo we saw a double rainbow, and then I went to bed early because I had to be up at 6 the next morning to go back to Glasgow for under 24 hours to do a three-minute dissertation proposal presentation. (Crushed it, by the way!) When I got back to Ireland, I met my parents in Galway. Hilariously, I have now stayed in Galway twice without ever actually exploring the city at all – it’s just such a great place to stay for access to day trips in the stunning County Clare. I would also like to point out that our hotel had a cat named Wayne, who I bonded with very quickly. One morning I opened the door to find him lying on his back waiting for someone to rub his belly. Obviously, I was more than happy to oblige.
From Galway we went over to Inisheer, the smallest of the Aran Islands. Back in February of 2015, I went to Inishmore, the largest, and loved it. However, everyone who says Inisheer is more beautiful is correct. It’s a lot more wild and less touristy, though I imagine it’s pretty busy in high season. On Inisheer I bought a lovely hand-knit Aran sweater for €90. Having knit my own sweater I can confidently say that’s a steal!
Here are some pictures I took on Inisheer – I didn’t get too many because the sun made for less than ideal photography conditions. (I know, bummer – it was sunny literally the entire time we were in Ireland!)
A pair of calves who followed us but became immediately shy when we acknowledged their presence.
As we were waiting for our ferry back to the mainland, Inisheer’s own dolphin started swimming around in the harbour with a guy in a wetsuit. (She’s a wild dolphin – he wasn’t her handler or any type of professional dolphin wrangler, just a dude.) I have never seen a dolphin in the wild before, much less in Ireland, much less so close, so it was a very cool experience and definitely rendered my years-long desire to see Fungie moot. (No offense to Fungie. I just probably would not have seen him so close, and the unplanned serendipity of this encounter was much nicer than chasing after Fungie in a boat.)
We did, however, head to the Dingle Peninsula the next day, stopping at the Grange Stone Circle on the way. We found a stone with some offerings to the fairies, and a local woman told us that it was actually one of the biggest days of the year for fairies. My mom and I left a 50 cent piece I found on the beach on Inisheer as well as a loonie in honour of my brother’s friend, who died two years ago.
On Dingle, our first stop was the Gallarus Oratory, which is over a thousand years old and still fully intact.
Then we went to our Airbnb, where our host informed us that there was a place in a nearby town where you could HOLD LAMBS!!!! Of course I told my parents that we would definitely be doing this the next day.
You guys. Oh my god. This is the best thing I have ever done in my life. No joke, every single day since then I have thought “I wish I were holding a lamb.” They were so cute, and so chill. They have been held a million times and they truly do not care. Well, except for this one tiny boy, who I fell in love with but who would not let me pick him up. He kept running away and yelling at me in his tiny, high-pitched voice. I still think of him as the one who got away…
Though I have a lot of lipsticks in this grouping of categories, I find peaches, oranges, and corals really tricky. The tones have to be just right. For a long time, I ignored these categories in favour of those that I could more easily wear – namely, fuchsias, reds, and berries. But once the floodgates were opened, I realized that colours in these categories are actually some of my all-time favourites – I just have to really pay attention to undertone and depth of shade.
This is a bright borderline neon peach, which sounds like my worst nightmare. Because it’s sheer, I actually think it’s a really pretty colour, but I find it looks best when I go a little heavier on the blush and eye makeup. I really like the Blotted Lips formula – though I don’t generally go for sheerer lip colours, the sheer matte finish appeals to me. This is a comfortable formula which fades evenly, which I think is all you can ask of anything sheer. I will note that this can photograph a bit strangely, especially from afar – I have a few tourist pictures in Northern Ireland where I look very washed out because this colour is weird on camera. These pictures do accurately portray how it looks on me, though.
Ahh, my perfect peach! This colour has the tiniest hint of brown that makes it very wearable for me. (Although that brown mostly comes across in swatches and not so much on my lips!) This lipstick goes with so much and it’s one of my go-to respectable lady colours. And, of course, the Audacious formula is pretty much unparalleled. I lost my original tube of Brigitte to the depths of a rental car in late 2016, and I misplaced my current tube for a few months, so that’s why this picture was taken on a different day – I had just unearthed it from a backpack I never use. If it had eluded me forever, I probably would have spent Optimum points on it a third time. That’s how much I love this colour.
Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Crème in Strawberry Girl
This lipstick is the newest to my collection. On the last day of our trip, in Copenhagen, my mom offered to treat me to something from the Sephora that was half a block away from our Airbnb. I ended up selecting the recently-launched Strawberry Girl, which I see as Brigitte’s old sister. It’s not the easiest colour to describe, but I think “muted coral” probably comes the closest to getting at its red, orange, and brown tones. I love this formula: it’s creamy and rich but not heavy, and it lasts pretty well, although the wear time on this particular shade is not as great as So Sofia (which I’ll get to in a moment!) or even to the Kiss Kiss Bang Bang mini that will be featuring in an upcoming empties post. I’m not sure that this is my best shade, either, but I still like it on myself. Its muted dustiness reminds me of the pinky-browny shades I buy in bulk, but the warmth takes it in a different direction.
After hating and avoiding orange lipstick forever, 2017 was the year that I embraced a good earthy orange. Candyfloss is a gorgeous terracotta. Though it’s an unusual shade, I find that it’s pretty good for casual situations; I don’t feel like I’m making a huge statement when I wear it, because it’s muted. It wears down to appear a bit more peach, too, so it’s quite versatile. It’s my favourite of all the Blotted Lips I have – the colour is glorious and it applies and wears the most evenly.
I’m pretty confident in saying that this was my most-worn non-neutral lip colour of 2017. This burnt orange is just so damn flattering. I’m really glad Buxom sent this along because I never would have fallen in love with this type of earthy orange otherwise. I actually think burnt orange is one of the ugliest colours on the planet in general, but I love it on my face. Go figure! Anyway, these lip pencils have a really comfortable formula that wears well. This is probably the most colour-accurate photo I’ve managed to get of this shade – usually it shows up very red, but I think the red in my top helps bring out the orange and brown tones more clearly here.
This is a very bright reddy-orange. I don’t know that it’s quite a burnt orange since it’s so vibrant, but it’s definitely some sort of orange rather than red. (This is another one that’s tricky to photograph, but these pictures are pretty accurate, though they might read a bit more red on your screen.) Once again I’m shocked that I not only willingly put anything orange on my face but that I actually chose to have this colour custom-made. Again, I really enjoy the Bite matte formula – it’s nowhere close to a true matte, as you can clearly see, but it’s comfortable without being slippery (an issue I have with the Amuse Bouche formula). If they put out off-the-rack lipsticks in this formula I’d definitely hand over my money.
A more recent lipstick colour fixation has been a good old reddy coral. On A Stick is the casual option, though it can be built up to near-opacity if you’re really looking for a punch of colour. For whatever reason I do find this makes my lips drier than the other Blotted Lips colours I have, but it’s nothing egregious.
Old pictures ’cause they’re the most colour accurate.
I probably sang this lipstick’s praises enough in the nearly-1500 word blog post I wrote about it. The formula is incredible and the colour is the best thing ever. Like, there are plenty of lipsticks that look good on me, or that I can’t really object to one way or another. But this lipstick actively looks good on me. I spent literal years searching for this exact shade of no-bullshit, in-your-face, so-damn-loud coral, and finally I have it. I treasure this lipstick.
Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Fire and Ice
This was an impulse purchase added to a basket when I was spending Optimum points and was a few dollars short of my threshold. And goddammit, I don’t think I’ve ever made a better impulse purchase. I mean, it’s not that this formula is so incredible, because it’s not. It’s a decent cream lipstick formula – nothing to complain about, nothing to rave about. But this bright reddish coral is everything. It’s a bit of a chameleon; here it looks more pink, but sometimes it appears a lot more orangey on me. I haven’t worn in it some time since the gloomy winter weather has had me leaning towards more muted colours, but now that it’s finally warm out it will be back in my rotation.
This vibrant red-coral is no doubt a beautiful colour. It’s a slightly more serious coral than something like So Sofia, but it’s still fun. Unfortunately, I am not only over liquid lipsticks as a whole, I am especially over this particular formula. I would describe how it feels on my lips, but I think the photo above does a pretty good job of that. I mean… no.
As I was taking these photos, I was struck by how much I genuinely love all of these colours. It’s been quite a sudden transformation from someone who hated anything that remotely hinted at orange to a devotee of a good coral or earthy orange. I guess opening your mind can be a good thing. Who knew?!
Well, I’m finally back from five weeks on the road! I must admit I’m happy to be back to my relatively chill existence – though travel is obviously incredibly rewarding, rarely staying in the same place for more than one night is exhausting.
Starting in mid-April, I was in London and Brighton for a few days, then my parents flew in (delayed 25 hours thanks to an unseasonal ice storm in Toronto) and we hit up the Scottish highlands, Ireland, Northern Ireland. Then me and my mom went on to Denmark and the Faroe Islands. If you are quite generous with your definition of “country”, that’s six in a month. It was a lot!
I thought I’d share a bit of my travels here since I had such an amazing time. A picture is worth a thousand words, so this will be pretty image-heavy. Today I’ll cover England and Scotland, a section of the trip that feels like a lifetime ago. We were in Ireland for eleven days, so that’ll be its own post, and then Denmark and the Faroes will be the final post in this series.
My trip to England was casual and not particularly touristy. I went down to see Arcade Fire and Harry Styles and to go to Aisling‘s thirtieth birthday party. (And to watch TV with her and her girlfriend Katy, and to sleep on their sofa for several days because they are angelic and generous beings.) I’ve been to London a few times now, and while there’s always more to do this was not that trip. As for Brighton, I’ve definitely seen all the main touristy stuff there, so I mostly just hung out with Aisling and Katy.
I woke up before 4am on April 11 to catch my early-morning flight, which was fun! I managed to survive Arcade Fire that night (and we got really close to the barrier), but we missed our last train to Brighton and didn’t get in until 3am, so it was a VERY tiring day. However, it was entirely worth it because Arcade Fire is truly the best live band in the world. I saw their hometown, tour-closing show in Montreal in 2014 and was blown away, and I have to say this was even better. It’s not just that the music is amazing and the onstage energy is strong – it’s that they think through every aspect of their performances, from accompanying visuals to lighting design. And the decision to play in a boxing ring, so that the GA audience could be on all four sides, was genius. The crowd was pretty loosely-packed and not at all overwhelming, and even though we arrived literally five minutes before show time by the end of the night we were only a few rows back from the barrier. My eight-year love for my favourite band is holding strong!
Here are a few pictures taken by Aisling, ft. me being EXTREMELY excited when they started playing Rebellion (Lies) even though obviously they were going to, it has never not been on their setlist.
My ONLY complaint is that they didn’t play Crown of Love, which is sometimes on their setlist but has eluded me twice.
The next day, we went back into London to see Harry Styles. I saw him play a small show in October (which was honestly not a great experience because the audience was garbage), and I’ve also seen One Direction six times (I know), so this was not my first time at the rodeo. It was Aisling’s first time being in his presence, and I’m pretty sure she had a great time judging from how often she said she loved him. Though our seats were very far away, he put on a great show and remains one of the most charming people in the world. I kept joking to Aisling that if he wore a boring suit I would demand a refund, but he wore leopard print McQueen so my £100 is still in his pocket.
Before we saw Harry we had a very early dinner at La Choza, which is definitely the best Mexican food I’ve had in the UK. Not that that’s saying much, but it was good and very cost-effective – I had a burrito and a generous serving of nachos for a tenner.
Then on the Saturday we were in London once again to celebrate Aisling’s thirtieth birthday at Leggero, a gluten-free Italian restaurant in Soho. The food was delicious and the company was great! I would recommend Leggero to the gluten-intolerant and -tolerant alike – the food is fantastic and doesn’t suffer at all from the lack of gluten. Here is an action shot of me photographing my food, taken by Katy, who is not the Katy I already mentioned or the other Katy who attended the lunch. (All three are lovely!)
It was the most beautiful day in London, which put me in a great mood – I got to shed my jean jacket and walk around bare-armed for the first time this year! I capitalized on the good weather by ordering a pitcher of sangria at a random bar we wandered into, which was yummy if… possibly containing approximately 1-3 drops of wine?
Here is a picture of me posing next to a mop we found in the bar. (It was not a very good bar.) As a rush of barely-legal girls piled in for happy hour, I discovered that the new thing is apparently wearing clubwear with athletic shoes, which I think is a very practical and healthy compromise for the sake of feet around the world.
We topped off the day with with ice cream at Chin Chin (I had burnt caramel with hazelnut sand). All in all it was a very successful celebration indeed. (At least, I think so, but it wasn’t my birthday.)
A few pictures taken at Liberty, where I fell in love with a gorgeous floral patch but didn’t buy it because it was £25. For an iron-on patch. I mean, I know it’s Liberty, but still…
Wow you guys have probably never seen this exact picture of Brighton before. I am the first one to ever capture this startlingly unique image.
Oh my last day in Brighton we had a Sunday roast at The Farm Tavern, which was so good. Then we took a walk along the water, which coincided with the Brighton Marathon, and went and exchanged all my 2p coins for a single piece of candy in one of the arcade games on the pier. A very Brighton experience, I’d say!
I got back to Glasgow the evening of April 15, with my parents due to arrive the morning of the 16th. Originally we had planned to spend the 16th and 17th in Glasgow, but since they were delayed a full day we ended up setting off for the highlands the day after they touched down. The 17th was a very chill day in the city – we went out for lunch at my perennial staple Hillhead Bookclub and I took my mom to the Tim Horton’s on Argyle Street (because we are Canadian), but otherwise we hung out at their Airbnb so they could try to get over their jetlag. (They both actually stayed up until their normal bedtimes, which totally puts me to shame since in September I spent nineteen hours sleeping off jetlag and then in January I went to bed at 11am the morning I arrived in Glasgow.)
Our first day of driving, the 18th, was a big one, and we ended up in Clachtoll, on a croft with a gorgeous beach and the cutest animals.
I also found a pig and her four babies in some ruins:
(By the way, I have wanted a potbelly pig since I can remember, and I watched this Buzzfeed video yesterday and truly could not handle it.)
Most of our time in Scotland was spent driving and stopping frequently to marvel at the amazing scenery.
My parents have both done quite a bit of travel through the UK, including the Scottish highlands. I was insistent that we go to the Isle of Skye, which I have been dreaming of for years now, and they were not too cranky about going back…
I mean, who would be? Especially when you get a picture of a sheep looking particularly beautiful at golden hour.
We really didn’t do all that much in the Highlands, because, well… all you need to do is look at them. So I will spare you my usual wordiness (she says, of a post that is already 1300 words long) and leave you with these pictures. Oh, and a recommendation for The Old School if you are ever on the Isle of Skye and fancy some seafood. Because, you know, I am all about sharing restaurant recommendations because food is the best.
On the 21st, we ended up back in Glasgow, where we checked out the Charles Rennie Mackintosh exhibition at the wonderful and underrated Kelvingrove Museum. We were pretty tired so we didn’t bother to wander around the museum, but I can say from prior experience that it’s an eclectic and fascinating place. If you happen to be in Glasgow between now and August 14, I highly recommend the Mackintosh exhibition, which is £7 for adults. The rest of the museum is free and you should totally do it even if you miss the exhibition!
Next time I will have many pictures of Ireland, and also lambs.
Hi, have you been on the internet ever? If so, you’ve probably heard of the Makeup Revolution Conceal and Define Concealer, because it’s been getting a lot of hype as a dupe for perennial YouTuber favourite Tarte Shape Tape. (Notably, MUR is an extremely low-cost drugstore brand and they managed to launch with eighteen shades, whereas Shape Tape has fourteen after a shade range expansion.)
Concealer is the type of product that I find horribly boring. It’s solely utilitarian, really – I just need it to cover up my dark circles and the occasional zit. That’s just not very exciting, you know?
However, sometimes products get so much hype that you just feel the need to throw your hat in the ring. Though I’ve been getting away with my Primark concealer over the past few months the slight shade mismatch was starting to bother me, so I thought I’d take advantage of that and pick up the Makeup Revolution Conceal and Define Concealer. Except you know that it’s not possible to just casually stroll into Superdrug to “pick up” a concealer that has blown up on the internet, as I found in mid-March when I went to three different stores in Glasgow City Centre to find them completely picked over. It was even sold out online, so I set up a restock alert and jumped on it the moment I got the email. I can definitely say I have never done that for a concealer before, so the hype has surely penetrated my consciousness.
Personally I can’t help but feel that the Shape Tape comparisons are partially just due to the similarities in packaging. (I mean, people still say that Maybelline Fit Me is a dupe for NARS Radiant Creamy even though they’re nothing alike. The sway of packaging is strong!) I will tell you right now that I have never tried Shape Tape, so I will not be able to bust this myth nor to verify it. I’m just going to tell you if I think this concealer is good.
As I noted, this concealer launched with a lot more shades than your average drugstore concealer, which is great and commendable and definitely a trend that I hope all brands will continue to adopt. It has some shades that are legitimately dark, but of course lighter shades are represented more. However, this shade range is a lot better than basically any drugstore brands and a lot of mid-range and high end brands. The shades are labelled with C and then a number, but I don’t believe this C refers to undertone as I don’t find that all of the shades are cool. The foundations are similarly labelled with an F, so I think the C just stands for “Concealer,” which is admittedly confusing when it’s fairly engrained that C = Cool. Don’t let that throw you off! The lightest shade in this range, C1, is legitimately very pale, along the same lines as NARS Chantilly.
Unfortunately I don’t still own Chantilly to swatch for you, but here it is with some other base products:
L-R: Makeup Revolution Conceal and Define Concealer in C1, Maybelline Master Conceal in Fair, The Ordinary Serum Foundation in N1.1, IT Cosmetics CC Cream in Fair
I think this a pretty neutral concealer – pink base products look all kinds of wrong on me and this doesn’t jump out as remotely pink. If anything, it has a hint of yellow.
This is a tad light for me, but C2 would have definitely been too dark, so I deal with this burden I am forced to bear. If you’re a YouTuber you probably think this is my perfect colour since you’re supposed to go lighter under your eyes. That has never looked extremely flattering on me, but it’s fine. I’ll live.
I also think it’s worth noting that you are probably not going to find the full shade range instore. Maybe if you live in a racially diverse part of the UK? But I live in Glasgow, which, as Scotland’s most racially diverse city, is 88% white, so they’re not putting that shit out on shelves. You have to order it online, and if you have a Health and Beauty Card Superdrug’s free shipping threshold is only £10, so it’s not the end of the world, but it’s also not the greatest thing to happen to makeup shelf space.
(Note: After I wrote the bulk of this post I was in a Superdrug in Brighton and they only stocked a few shades as well. Didn’t think to check while in London, though!)
This is attractive packaging for the drugstore. The tube is short and thick, and the rose gold cap and label add a nice touch. It’s sturdy and the cap has a satisfying springy closure. Now I will state the obvious: this doefoot is huge, everyone. I mean, come on, this is the foot of a moose. (A female moose is called a cow, incidentally, and that is not a fact that Canadians come equipped with, it is something that I just Googled because I was hoping there would be a pleasing symmetry in deer and moose nomenclature, which there is not.)
Here is this giant moose woman foot compared to a normal-sized doefoot. YES. It is large. I don’t find it unwieldy by any means; it still fits underneath my eye just fine. I enjoy the way the doefoot is actually constructed, because it has a little well that the product sits in, ready to be brushed on your face:
Application and Finish
In terms of actually applying this product, I find that the aforementioned well holds quite a bit of product and that a little goes a long way. I know we say that about a lot of products, but it’s actually the case in this instance. It’s not that it’s so pigmented and high coverage; it’s just that it’s very spreadable. A quick dab under each eye and I’m good to go! This would probably be way too much product to apply directly to a blemish, but I don’t do that anyway. You may know that I am in principle very against doefoot applicators because I don’t like the concept of putting something on a bacteria-laden zit, sticking it into a dark, moist tube, and then applying that zit-contaminated concealer onto my face at a later date. So I never, ever, ever apply directly from the doefoot to blemishes, and instead just tap a little onto my finger and apply it to my face like that. (Fingers are underrated makeup application tools!)
Speaking of fingers, usually I end up blending out my undereye concealer with my fingers because I don’t find brushes blend efficiently and even the pointy end of a sponge is too big to really get into the inner corner of my eye. However, I have tested it with a small brush and a sponge and those methods are perfectly fine. I’d go for a sponge over a brush, however.
Here’s how much product I apply to one eye:
That’s really just a small tap of the wand underneath my eye, and even that is a pretty generous amount. “A little goes a long way” is cliché, but this really is a spreadable formula that makes a relatively large impact with a small amount of product.
A fact I have picked up about Tarte Shape Tape over the eighteen months of nonstop attention it has received is that it is extremely thick and full coverage. I don’t think MUR Conceal and Define is an extremely thick or full coverage concealer. It is of a normal viscosity, in my opinion. If you’ve tried NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, that is what I’d consider thick. This one is nowhere near that level. It’s probably close to full-coverage, but it’s not, like, an industrial-strength concealer. Here, see for yourself:
On the left, my undereye without concealer; on the right, I’ve applied one layer of Makeup Revolution Conceal and Define Concealer. You can see that it’s obviously covered a lot of the darkness, but some is still peeking through. Personally I think using a lighter undereye concealer can unflatteringly emphasize dark circles more than using one that matches perfectly, which I do think comes into play here a bit. The starkness of the light colour mixed with the purple of my undereye creates an almost grey tinge in some lights, which is why I generally prefer something with a bit more of a salmony undertone or that’s at least closer to my actual skin colour. This look is certainly preferable to going without concealer, but it’s not the perfect colour.
Here’s a close-up of how it looks:
I think you can see that around the outer corner of my eye it appears a little bit dry. All but the most emollient of concealers look like that under my eye, so that’s not unique to this product. I don’t think this is the most flattering concealer on planet Earth for the undereyes, but I think it’s fine. If your undereye area is quite dry, it may not be so fine, since it does have a pretty matte finish.
More before and after pictures:
Note the blemishes! The one that’s higher up is a semi-healed cystic zit that is in the exact spot that I always get cystic zits. I don’t know why the divine powers insist on punishing me like this, because that shit is actually really painful. The one lower down is a normal zit, and newer, and in a spot that is typical of stress breakouts for me. (By the time you’re reading this I will have no reason to be stressed, but at the time of photographing and writing I have two weeks to write 13,000 words worth of assignments, read hundreds of pages of film theory, and also write all the blog posts you are reading while I’m on vacation.)
And after concealer:
I am very impressed with the number this concealer did on that cystic zit, actually, because normally my zits repel concealer, to the point where I pretty much only bother with putting it under my eyes. The cheek zit did not fare as well, but it was also fresher, and I find that the newer the zit the less likely concealer is to do anything at all. Now you know a lot about my zits.
This concealer has a pretty matte finish, which is not super ideal for under my eyes but which isn’t patently terrible either. If you have very dry undereyes, you might avoid this one. My undereyes are pretty normal, usually.
This concealer does get visibly dryer throughout the day and it creases a tiny bit. This may not happen if I powdered it, but then it would look dryer, wouldn’t it? Tradeoffs! Here’s how it looked at the beginning of the day:
And here is how it fared after eight hours of wear:
You can see that my undereyes appear a bit dryer at this point, but that’s also an extreme closeup. I mean, my actual eye is not as big as it’s appearing on your screen. When I look at myself in the mirror I don’t think “Oh my god it’s old Crusty Eyes!” I just think it looks like my concealer is not the most fresh it ever has been. On the plus side, there is a surprising lack of creasing.
I wish this concealer had a slightly more natural finish and also that it came in a shade that was a little bit better-suited to my needs and desires, but that’s okay. I’m not going to repurchase this because I think I need to put more emollient products under my eyes from now on, but as a semi-matte concealer with solid coverage I think this delivers. It looks nice, it covers what I want it to cover, and it wears perfectly adequately. Oh, and it’s £4. Is it so earth-shatteringly good that it’s worth all the YouTube hype and the countless hours (okay, uh, maybe one hour?) I spent hunting it down? No. But it’s good. And it’s £4.
The Makeup Revolution Conceal and Define Concealer goes for £4 ($7.18 CAD) for 0.11 fl oz/3.4 mL of product. That’s £36.36/$65.27 per fl oz or £1.18/$2.11 per mL. By comparison, Tarte Shape Tape is £22 for 0.33 fl oz, which is £66.67 per fl oz.
Well, I’m pleased to announce that in the first third of the year I’ve shot past the halfway point. In March and April I read 8 books, for a total of 19. I’m well on my way to my goal of 30 in 2018 – it appears that I may have underestimated myself.
The Problem That Has No Name by Betty Friedan
Another £1 Penguin Modern volume! This one contains two chapters from Friedan’s seminal sociological study The Feminine Mystique. The first is the most interesting to me – it’s about how housewives, promised fulfilment through marriage and childrearing, are actually bored, exhausted, and dissatisfied. As you may know from reading some of my older book posts, I have a (very niche) interest in narratives about women developing inexplicable psychosomatic disorders as a result of the drudgery of housewifery, so you can see why this section was of particular interest to me. In fact, many of the housewives Friedan studied did develop symptoms such as hives and exhaustion. The second essay in the book traces the history of American first-wave feminism, as Friedan ultimately argues that in the 1960s there was a regression after women won the right to pursue education and work. Friedan’s writing is urgent and compelling, making it quick to devour these two essays.
Of course, women now commonly go to university and develop successful careers, so we have to reframe Friedan’s work. Studies have shown that women are no more happy than we were in an era of fewer freedoms – so now we’re left to wonder if we’re better off “having it all”. Womanhood still seems tinged with ennui. It’s interesting to meditate on this even though the context has changed so much since the publication of The Feminine Mystique!
The Red Tenda of Bologna by John Berger
I will read anything by John Berger. His writing has a lush, dreamlike quality; I really felt like I was walking through Bologna as I read this essay about memory, family connections, and art. It’s not often I come across non-fiction writing that is so evocative and sensual. Berger is best-known for the second essay in the volume Ways of Seeing (which featured in an earlier post), but I’d highly recommend his other writing as well. I’m not a massive reader of non-fiction (and read pretty exclusively in the genres of feminist/pop cultural analysis), but Berger’s writing is far from dry and straightforward.
Fame by Andy Warhol
Warhol’s writing has such a levity – he doesn’t take anything too seriously, and he injects a lot of dry humour into his essays. I don’t always agree with the conclusions he reaches, but he has such an interesting way of framing things that I found myself nodding along anyway. I took an anthropology class in my undergrad where basically every assignment was about making visible social norms and values that are so engrained that we don’t question them. I feel like Warhol’s essays do this a lot, casting things that we take for granted as absurdities in a quest to make new meaning. Though I’m quite familiar with a lot of Warhol’s work (as a sentient adult human and as someone who did a degree in pop culture), I’d never read any of his essays before. I think I understand his artistic point of view better now. And now I really want to go watch Lou Reed’s screen test on a loop because it’s so good and also I love Lou Reed and wish he were still on this plane of existence.
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
I was really excited to read this book, because Seanan McGuire is the real name of one of my favourite contemporary writers, Mira Grant. Grant is the pseudonym McGuire adopts when writing the most badass, exciting, twist-y, fun sci fi. (Seriously, the Newsflesh series is so good, and I’m not a sci-fi or zombie novel person.) Unfortunately, I may not get on with her urban fantasy persona quite so well. Now, I will disclose upfront that I don’t read much fantasy in general and particularly little urban fantasy. But I am willing to give anything a chance, really; I’m not a genre snob. And the premise of this series is wonderful: it’s about children (predominantly girls) who find doors to other worlds. Each kid seems to find a different world, ranging from the underworld to fairy nations to lands filled with candy. Each world is exactly what they need: an escape, tailor-made to their needs. Many of the kids who return to the “real” world are despondent and wish they could go back, so the elderly Eleanor West (who spent many years in her own world) creates a boarding school to help rehabilitate them. There’s something about finding a secret doorway to another world that just appeals to my inner child. But the payoff in this novel is just nonexistent: the dialogue sucks, the characters aren’t well-developed, and the pacing is off. I figured out the identity of the serial killer at the heart of the plot way before it was revealed, which was disappointing because Mira Grant’s novels have the best twists. I won’t be continuing on with this series, but as long as Grant continues pumping out Newsflesh novellas I will eat them up.
Feedback by Mira Grant
Speaking of which…! I’m a huge fan of the Newsflesh series – it’s about political bloggers who find themselves wrapped up in a sinister government conspiracy in the zombie-infested America of 2040. Feedback, the fourth novel in the series, follows a different group of political bloggers. It retains a lot of Mira Grant’s signatures: a badass female heroine; an incredibly thorough consideration of the ways society has changed in response to the zombie outbreak of 2014; a lot of fun action (and less fun death). But Grant had a lot to live up to because the original trilogy boasts some of the most enjoyable action characters of all time as well as truly mindblowing twists. I don’t think Feedback quite hits the mark: only the narrator, Aislinn, is fully-developed, and even then she’s basically just an Irish version of Georgia Mason from the original series. The action wasn’t as twisty and fun, either. Some of the impact of the major character deaths was mitigated somewhat by the fact that, well, I was expecting a lot of destruction since I’ve read the original trilogy and am very aware that Grant will kill basically anyone. It’s still a really fun novel, but at 500+ pages I was expecting a little more oomph.
Coming To You Live: A Newsflesh Novella by Mira Grant
… and then this is exactly what I want out of the Newsflesh world. Shaun and Georgia Mason remain the most enjoyable action protagonists ever and this novella gives us a new high-stakes situation instead of rehashing more of the same. This will have little appeal to those who haven’t read the original series, but for longtime fans it’s a nice way to spend a little more time with these awesome characters.
The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins
I wasn’t expecting anything incredible out of this novel, but I managed to go in totally unspoiled, which helped a lot. It’s a solid, enjoyable thriller if you don’t use too much brainpower on it. The writing isn’t great, the identity of the killer was pretty obvious (at least to me, and I rarely figure these things out), and without the train voyeurism angle it’s a pretty standard plot. But I thought the character of Rachel was pretty interesting, and the book takes a kind of feminist-adjacent angle that was mildly compelling if not in any way politically radical. In terms of female-fronted thrillers I think Gillian Flynn will always take the cake, but I read this novel while on vacation and I think that’s a pretty good time for it. It’s a quick, easy, and fun read, in any event.
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
Finally, after years of trying to find a copy of this book to no avail, Aisling hooked me up! A few people told me they enjoyed Burton’s second novel, The Muse, quite a bit more, but I have to say I love both. I understand the criticisms of The Miniaturist, but at the end of the day I was totally sucked in. I can’t remember the last time I devoured a 400-page book so quickly and eagerly; it didn’t lag at all. I loved the story and the characters, and the world felt so rich and complete. I saw certain things coming, but other major plot points came totally out of the blue even though in retrospect there were plenty of hints dropped. Altogether, I think it was a cleverly-plotted and incredibly compelling novel. I’ll eagerly read whatever Jessie Burton puts out next – her novels are the perfect blend of clever and readable.
I have about nine days left in my European travels (in Copenhagen right now, leaving for the Faroe Islands tomorrow), and the days have been so packed that I haven’t had too much opportunity to read. But I’m hoping the second half of May and all of June will be fairly fruitful, although I do have a dissertation to write between now and September. I’m definitely on pace for 30 books in 2018, though secretly I’d like to do 50 again. We’ll see!
I only have powder blushes in my collection; after dabbling in various cream and liquid formulas, I have finally come to the conclusion that they just aren’t for me. But I’m the complete opposite when it comes to highlighter – I vastly prefer cream and liquid formulas, as a general rule. I tend to enjoy a more subtle highlight, and creams reign supreme at creating a natural effect on the skin. But even when I’m looking for something a little more out-of-this-world, I find creams and liquids just sit on my skin more seamlessly. Today I’m going to share with you a variety of cream and liquid highlighters that cover the spectrum from “barely-there” to “very blingy”.
For once the dreary Scottish weather (and endless winter!) came in handy as I find underexposed pictures better show off how highlighter looks on the skin. That said, it’s true that when blended out the similarities between highlighters tend to flatten, even moreso when photographed (at least by the amateur known as Clementine). The comparison swatches at the end of the post will hopefully elucidate the differences between these products, but at the end of the day they are all shiny things you rub on your face. You really only need so many.
Glossier Haloscope in Quartz
$22 USD/$27 CAD for 0.19oz ($115.79 USD/$142.11 CAD per oz)
This is the highlighter for the person who wants a little glow without looking like they’re wearing anything. It gives the most beautiful radiance without appearing to actually be there at all. It has a very emollient, slightly sticky texture which never totally goes away, so if you have combination to oily skin this may not be the product for you. However, on my dry skin it blends in beautifully with my fingers and looks so fresh. It gives an almost glazed appearance to the skin, which sounds weird but is really excellent. I pretty much always roll my eyes at Glossier products – their marketing doesn’t resonate with me at all and most of what they do can be easily duped – but I can’t deny that this is my most-used highlighter. You win this round, Glossier.
Revlon PhotoReady InstaFix Highlighter Stick in Pink Light
$13.99 USD/$21.99 CAD for 0.31oz ($45.13 USD/$70.94 CAD per oz)
First I would like to point out that if you stroll into a Canadian drugstore, this Revlon highlighter will cost a mere $5 less than a similar product from Glossier. I mean… drugstore prices are absurd. $22 for a highlighter from Revlon? Seriously? Begrudgingly I must admit that this is a very beautiful highlighter. If you want, you can get this product in a standard champagne-y highlighter tone and I’m sure it would be lovely. Personally, I live for Pink Light – I find this tone of highlighter really flattering on me! This is one that you definitely want to apply with your fingers rather than swiping it directly onto your face, since the texture is a bit dry. However, that means it’ll last a lot longer than something as dewy as the Haloscope, and won’t leave you with that lingering stickiness on your cheekbones. You can blend out a thin layer of this product for a more subtle look or build it up if you want an intense highlight – just keep in mind that it is unmistakably on the metallic side.
Vichy Teint Idéal Highlighter
$27 CAD for 0.24 fl oz ($112.50 per fl oz)
This is the most glorious wet look highlighter that has ever existed. It has a very thin and sheer formula, though it can be built up. It has a distinctly white base, so it’s probably not suitable for all skintones – though it’s sheer enough that I think it’d be decently forgiving on light to medium skin. What do I know, though, I’m very white. Anyway, one layer of this highlighter is pretty subtle, but two layers gives you that super intense pearly wet look. This is a very reflective highlighter, so it’s not like it’s exactly a natural look, but it’s not blingy, either. There’s no visible glitter chunks and it melts into the skin really nicely. Basically, it’s beautiful, and I love it.
£10/$17.91 CAD for 0.14oz (£71.43/$127.93 CAD per oz)
Have you ever wanted to look like you rubbed the visual essence of opals all over your cheekbones? Well, Topshop can hook you up with this insane highlighter that shifts between white and pearlescent pink. It is so beautiful. It’s also pretty intense, but I don’t find it emphasizes texture. It just blends into my skin and makes me look like I’m from another world. I cannot say enough good things about this highlighter, because it is so special and impactful and brilliant. I fell in love with it when I bought it over three years ago and that love remains at a fever pitch to this day.
Makeup Revolution Liquid Highlighter in Starlight
£6/$10.75CAD for .4 fl oz (£15/$26.88 CAD per fl oz)
This is not a highlighter for the faint of heart. No, this is a super metallic highlighter that you could probably see from outer space. So if you don’t want aliens to see you then you should definitely not buy this. But if you do want to make friendly contact with them, well, I’m not saying that highlighter is a substitute for, like, NASA, I’m just saying that this highlighter is visible from anywhere in the universe. It’s not often a look that I go for, but sometimes you go out with friends or just really feel like a pick-me-up in the form of really intense highlighter. This one probably wouldn’t be the best if you have a lot of texture on your cheekbones, though. I also find that it by far blends best with the fingertips; you’d think a liquid highlighter would do well with a damp sponge, but no, that is not the case here. If you want to blend out the harsh edges, you are going to need to use your fingers. That’s not a problem for me because I am a huge advocate of using my fingers for as many makeup application steps as possible. Maybe you’re different. I’m just letting you know.
Here are some comparison swatches:
L-R: Glossier Haloscope in Quartz, Revlon PhotoReady InstaFix Highlighter Stick in Pink Light, Vichy Teint Idéal Highlighter, Topshop Glow Highlighter in Polished, Makeup Revolution Liquid Highlighter in Starlight
And an underexposed shot so you can really see how these babies shine:
I’m telling you Polished and Starlight are high-impact.
And a gif, because movement really helps show a highlighter’s potential:
And I think three swatch photos probably suffice…
I’m still not the biggest highlighter person; it’s a step that I can easily sacrifice if I’m in a rush. But this cream and liquid highlighter wardrobe gives me every option I need, from “I don’t want you to know I’m actually wearing highlighter” to “I’m going to be in the presence of drag queens and my cheekbones need to catch their attention”.
Here, have three reviews of things that are not exciting enough to warrant their own posts. We have two mascaras and a brow pencil, and those things are kind of related, right? I mean, they both pertain to hair on your face. That’s a good enough parallel for me to justify shoving them into the same post.
Annabelle Skinny Brow Liner in Universal Taupe
I’ve been doing my brows the same exact way for four years. I use Maybelline Colour Tattoo in Tough As Taupe on an angled brush, and it works marvellously. The colour match is perfect and I get the exact angles I want. However, some time ago I decided that I wanted a brow pencil for travelling, since the heavy pot of cream eyeshadow plus an angled brush can get a bit unwieldy. I’ve read really good reviews of this Annabelle pencil, and it’s always been a high seller in my experience working cosmetics retail, so I picked one up back in the summer.
This is a very fine twist-up brow pencil à la the almighty Anastasia Brow Wiz and its army of dupes. It comes in five colours – Universal Light, Universal Medium, Universal Dark, Universal Ebony, Universal Taupe, and Universal Auburn. I’m not really sure what the hell Annabelle thinks “universal” means, but whatever. I selected Universal Taupe because it seemed to be the closest to the colour of my brow hairs. Unfortunately this colour is a hair warm for my brows. I find that brow pencils are either too dark or too warm. Where is the nice light, ashy taupe I need?! See, this is why I can’t stray from cream eyeshadow.
Here’s how my bare brows look:
Clearly, I already have pretty full, well-shaped brows. I mostly like to fill in the tail and add a tiny bit of structure.
Here’s the same brow filled in using the Annabelle Skinny Brow Liner:
I’m not crazy in thinking that colour just isn’t right, am I? This is how I usually do them:
I just think that tone is a lot better for me!
Colour aside, this pencil has a pretty dry formula, which I definitely prefer for a brow pencil – I don’t want to accidentally overdo it with an emollient pencil. It’s also not super pigmented, which is a plus for the same reason. The teeny-tiny tip is absolutely great for making small, precise strokes.
Unfortunately, as it turns out I’m just not a huge fan of brow pencils. I seem to prefer the application and final look of pomade. Maybe this is just bias because the last time I regularly used a brow pencil my eyebrows look like this:
(However, I also had healthy hair, so that’s a tradeoff, I guess. Although as you may have noticed in recent pictures I’m making good progress growing out my blonde hair!)
I don’t know. There’s no particular fault in this product I can point towards. It’s actually really good for what it is. I just don’t like using an eyebrow pencil, apparently. And I want my brow products to be ashier than Pompeii, which this pencil just isn’t. I’d recommend it to those who enjoy pencils and can find a good colour match!
L’Oréal Paradise Extatic Mascara
I am 99% sure that this bizarrely-named mascara is the exact same thing as the Lash Paradise mascara that the entire world went crazy for over the summer. (Seriously, we could not keep it on the shelves at work. We’d get a shipment of like thirty tubes twice a week and within a day THEY WOULD ALL BE GONE. Except for the brown. Those usually stayed put.) I don’t know why the UK had to give it this name, but whatever. It’s the same thing.
As usual, I am unfashionably late to this bandwagon, probably because this is the first time I have spent real currency on mascara in five years. (I always got it free from work, but now I no longer work in cosmetics, and I ran out.) Really I was looking for something that would hold a curl because I’ve noticed that some of my old mascara faves have failed to do that lately. (Lancôme Hypnôse, I’m looking at you.) This formula is more volumizing than lengthening, which is fine. My preference is for extreme length and solid definition, but I’ll take volume as long as it doesn’t clump. This definitely is not a super-clumpy formula, but it takes about a week to get to the sweet spot, I think, whereas something like Lancôme Hypnôse (for all its curl-killing faults) is impossible to make clumpy. That’s okay, though; my favourite mascara of all time, Clarins Truly Waterproof, also need a few weeks to bloom into its full potential, and I can be patient. (You can see how that mascara looks on me in this post, because it is truly everything I need.)
I like this brush. I prefer natural to plastic bristles so this delivers on that front. I don’t really care about the hourglass shape; it works just fine, but I wouldn’t say it’s especially noteworthy. The brush doesn’t hold onto too much product, so that’s fine by me.
I have pretty thick and long lashes that are tragically straight. Like, if a mascara isn’t going to hold a curl then I might as well not have eyelashes, let alone good eyelashes. I would say this mascara is medium at holding a curl. I’ve certainly experienced the letdown of a mascara that immediately kills a curl and makes applying mascara pointless, but I’ve also seen the magic of Clarins Truly Waterproof and this ain’t that. It’s serviceable in the curl department, though. I also don’t notice flaking or extreme amounts of smudging if I use it on my bottom lashes. It’s not waterproof, but it’s slightly harder to remove than your average washable mascara. I personally don’t mind that; like I said, my favourite mascara is waterproof, and I use a biphase eye makeup remover anyway. It takes a bit more work to remove this with a simple micellar solution.
Here’s how the Paradise Extatic mascara looks on my top and bottom lashes:
And a comparison of my lashes with and without the mascara:
All in all, I think this is a nice mascara. It does everything I want it to do even if it takes some time to truly hit its stride. That said, it costs $15.99 in Canadian drugstores and that is just absurd. I can spend $11 more and get a tube of my beloved Clarins. Next time I’m looking to the drugstore, I’ll probably grab a tube of CoverGirl, which is $6.99 on sale. (Seriously, I know Maybelline and L’Oréal are the darlings of the drugstore mascara world, but in my experience CoverGirl knocks it out of the park every time at a cheaper price.)
Urban Decay Troublemaker Mascara
Ugh, this mascara is bullshit. First of all, the marketing sucks and is stupid. Second of all, the mascara sucks and is stupid. It basically did nothing for my eyelashes and rubbed off underneath my eyes within eleven seconds. I used it all of three times before I threw it violently into my declutter box.
As I’ve said a million times, it doesn’t take a miraculous mascara to content me, because my baseline is already pretty good. So when I actively dislike a mascara, you know it’s bad news.
Here’s what UD Troublemaker looks like after being built up pretty much to the greatest extent possible:
If you want something subtle, this may be the mascara for you! But when UD boasts that they “loaded up this mascara with insane benefits—for thicker, longer and fanned-out looking lashes”… well, no. That is a lie. Also, if you DO like subtle eyelashes, you can go to Walmart and get Wet N Wild for three bucks.
Here, let’s compare L’Oréal and UD:
The Paradise Extatic on the left gives noticeably more volume and length and holds a curl a lot better. I know which one I’m choosing!
And in case you were wondering, here’s the brush on the UD:
I tend not to get along with rubber bristles too well, so maybe this was doomed from the start.
And there are some reviews of some things. In conclusion, do not waste your coin on UD Troublemaker. Buy L’Oréal Lash Paradise maybe if you don’t mind that it’s very expensive for the drugstore. Buy the Annabelle brow pencil if they have a colour that works for you and you like micro brow pencils. The end.