HIGHLIGHTS #5 2017

It’s me, the queen of mysterious disappearances. I’m back! I’m medicated! I’m full of enthusiasm! Here are the latest highlights!

As someone who gets very frustrated about the spread of straight up mythology as fact in the beauty world, this piece on the false history of beauty trickery was a boon.

Arabelle Sicardi questions the idea that K-Beauty is nothing but a passing fad.

How much are you really saving in the Sephora VIB sale?

The Handbag’s Tale explores the world of a much-coveted accessory charged with symbolism.

I’m becoming more and more interested in lingerie, and designer Marie Yat is one of my absolute favourites. I just love the understated elegance of her designs.

Scent is eternally fascinating, and these researchers are developing a new method to define and describe smells.

Glossier will launch UK shipping this year! Sweden next, please…

A brief history of Chanel’s iconic no.5 fragrance

MAC’s upcoming collab with designer duo Steve J. and Yoni P. looks fun! I love the bold packaging designs.

Cocoa Brown had a real foot-in-mouth moment claiming that bloggers were no longer trustworthy, but the responses weren’t exactly graceful either. Middle ground, anyone?

Now that the sun is out, be extra diligent about SPF! Stephen of kindofstephen shares 11 tips to get the most out of your sun protection.

Inspo: Serge Lutens

5 days ago

Retrospective – March 2017 Skincare

[DISCLAIMER: This post contains products received as press samples]

Here’s what I’ve been using & testing in March. For skin it’s been a bit of a challenging month for me. I have recurring closed comedones and crop up every now and then and if you’ve had them, you know how difficult it can be to get rid of them. I’ve been trying to exfoliate less because I’m afraid of stressing my skin out and the product I’ve decided to try when my skin starts acting wild is the aptly named By Palina Calm Down Mask. It feels and smells kind of like a pharmacy product, which is strangely reassuring. It’s a moisturizing mask with allantoin, clay and zinc that’s just right for my oily skin – not too rich.

On the other end of the agitating spectrum, Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 is a more or less legendary acid toner with a puzzling ingredient list. It smells like salad dressing, and contains things like vinegar and onion, which makes it come off like something a witch has cooked up in her cauldron. I’ve only tried this a few times (trying not to burn my face off…unfortunately) so I can’t make any big claims, other than the fact that I didn’t feel any tingling at all when I applied, despite its potency.

Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel has been my first cleanse of choice – it’s actually a balm-to-oil-to-milk formula in a blessed pump container. It’s pink, it murders any makeup or sunscreen, and I like her a lot.

For extra hydration, the Eucerin Hyaluron-Filler Concentrate is a hyaluronic acid booster that I’ve been mixing with my moisturizer. Does it work? Yes. Does it need to be stored in individual plastic ampoules in an hard plastic case? Not in the least. I guess it looks high tech but the wasteful & finicky packaging is so unnecessary. It’s a decent HA booster, but the one from Hylamide remains my favourite.

Finally, a more or less glorious Vitamin C serum – Akademikliniken Pure Glow Oil. It brightens and smooths your little face like there’s no tomorrow. Also, this oil is…heinously expensive, and smells like what I expect the robot uprising to smell like (incidentally this smell fills my heart with joy and I’d wear it as perfume any day of the week). I think there are three or so drops left in there and I will cherish them.

3 weeks ago

Brand Overview: M Picaut Body Care

[DISCLAIMER: All products in this review were received as press samples]

I had the opportunity to try out some products from Swedish eco label M Picaut – and you probably know by now that this “green beauty” stuff isn’t my cup of tea, but at the same time I’m always willing to give something new a try. And I’m glad I did! These body care products were a pleasant surprise.

The products I tried were the “Happy Sparkling Body Wash”, “Créme de la Créme Body Lotion” and “Goodness Glow Dry Body Oil”. These names are quite a mouthful… A central ingredient to the line is sea buckthorn oil, which is a personal favourite – a non-comedogenic, light oil that should be good for any skin type.

They all have the same scent, lemon myrtle, which I think smells like lemongrass. It’s really delicious and refreshing, especially when you’re in the shower trying not to fall asleep. Low blood pressure, you know. The shower gel is kind of runny which is my only complaint – it’s easy to over-dispense. I think if you swapped the packaging between the shower gel and the lotion it’d be easier. It’s only mildly lathering, and doesn’t feel very drying on the skin which is nice.

Of the moisturizing products, my favourite is the body oil. It smells amazing, absorbs well into the skin and doesn’t feel too slippery. The pump bottle is lockable, very handy for clumsy people like myself. I did’t think I’d ever like a body oil but I guess I do! It makes your skin feel really soft and fragrant. By the way, I’ve more than once had the impulse to pour this oil on my salad and eat it…

The lotion is nice too, and feels a little richer. I don’t use it as much as the oil since it’s a little richer than my skin really needs (I get a dry spot like once a year…) though if I’m feeling extra fancy I might use the lotion over the oil as an extra softening layer.

I’m usually a cheapskate when it comes to body care (right now I’m using H&M products, in a sickly sweet scent… I bought them in a fit of madness, apparently.) but trying something a little more luxurious once in a while is really nice! I’ve already started rationing the body oil because I’m halfway through the bottle.

THE RUNDOWN
Price range: High. Body care ranges from 22.9-49EUR/25-55USD
Pros: Smells amazing, performs well, eco-friendly.
Cons: Expensive, packaging on the shower gel over-dispenses.
Referral program? No.
Reorder? The oil, if I can afford it!

4 weeks ago

Review: Chanel Stylo Yeux Waterproof

My little stumble at the Chanel counter that led me to be seduced into shopping by Kristen Stewart also yielded some of these ridiculously expensive eye pencils. I originally only wanted Noir Pétrole, but when I saw they still had the much-coveted Eros shade I had to get that too. Red eyeliners always get me, I literally cannot stop buying them. I’d never tried these pencils but they swatched beautifully and I remember seeing them score high on Temptalia’s reviews. I would trust Temptalia with anything, so there I went.

I gotta get better at this photography thing.

The colours I got were both limited edition, sadly. Neither are available anymore unless you happen to find a counter that hasn’t sold out of them yet. Eros is a metallic cool-toned red. Noir Pétrole is a black with an olive shift – it definitely has a reflective sheen as well. It’s subtle enough to be sophisticated without being boring.

Noir Pétrole and Eros swatched next to the Rouge Allure Ink I reviewed previously.

Both have the exact same texture and performance – really smooth application that dries down to be truly budge-proof. I tried rubbing, rinsing, and then rubbing again and they only looked slightly worn after that ordeal. Uh, obviously I did the rub test on my hand and not my actual eyeball.

Here’s the tip of Eros when it was brand new and untainted.

If I had to find anything to complain about with these (other than the fact that the price is ridiculous), it’s that I personally prefer a traditional pencil over a twist-up, just because you usually get more product and can get a sharper point. These do come with a sharpener built in, which is such a good feature, but I personally don’t use it. If I want a sharper edge i just use a q-tip on the eye. Oh, and these also smoke out really beautifully – they don’t set super quickly so you have plenty of time to blend. By the way, I had a big cry while wearing one of these and it totally stayed put. My mascara went everywhere it wasn’t supposed to, though.

THE RUNDOWN
Price: $33/26EUR
Size: 0.3g/0,01oz
Pros: Long-wearing, waterproof, easy to use, beautiful colours, smooth & intensely pigmented
Cons: The price is the only downside.
Repurchase? Yes! I especially like their LE shades.

4 weeks ago

More Youtube Gems

Since my last post about youtube channels, I’ve realized I didn’t really cover all my favourites. There are so many other channels I love! And they deserve attention as well. So here are some more!

TophCam
This channel is run by a skincare aficionado named Chris, and he does very thorough and frequent reviews of the things he’s using and trying. His approach is spiritual and serene without being fluffy.

MissEffortlesslyChic
This is a little different for me – a channel dedicated to natural and organic beauty. I’m not interested in these kinds of product in general, in fact I’m a huge skeptic – but I really like these reviews. Plus, her dry sense of humour is really funny.

Stephanie Nicole
I suspect most people follow her already, but I absolutely adora Stephanie Nicole’s channel. She’s the most thorough reviewer I’ve seen – her videos are long and info-dense, with spreadsheets and everything. Her takedown of J*ffree St*r is legendary.

VintageOrTacky
I think this is the channel I’ve been following for th e longest time out of the ones I’ve featured. It’s run by a girl called Cora who does primarily beauty-related videos with both skincare and makeup, with reviews, tutorials and swatches. Once in a while there’s a plus-size fashion video as well!

Rian Phin
Not stritcly a beauty channel, Rian does a lot of personal,cute & casual videos featuring everything from thrifting guides to beauty reviews and funny anecdotes from their life. I really love their personality too, and they have many interesting critical perspectives on things like consumer ethics and feminism.

Ok, so now I think I’ve listed all my favourites. If you have a channel you like – maybe one that isn’t super well known already – please let me know!

1 month ago

Review: Smashbox Cover Shot Bold Eyeshadow Palette

When I first saw these palettes on social media, I knew I was going to buy this one. I’m extremely tired of nudes, and was on the hunt for bold, bright colours. This is part of the ‘Cover Shot’ collection which features 7 different eyeshadow palettes, most of which are pretty neutral.

 

The actual packaging is very simple, bare-bones. It doesn’t feel super sturdy but it makes up for it by being really small. It’s basically the size of an iPhone 5, a godsend for people like me who don’t like unnecessary bulk. Isn’t the point of a palette to have several colours in a portable format? I also like that the back has the names clearly labelled with a pan layout.

Inside are these bright matte rainbow shades – red, orange, yellow, blue and violet. The larger pans at the top are so-called “transformer” shades, sheer shadows with one being a pearlescent light pink and the other a blue-brown with teal shimmer.

From left is ‘Fling’,’Wait,What?’,’Bolt’,’Sellout’,’Poolside’ and ‘No shame’ with ‘Techno’ and ‘Stormy’ on top. I’d argue these are not only organized by shade, but by quality as the red is amazing and the purple is garbage.

Here’s a hand swatch (without primer) – as you can see the purple is really patchy while the warmer shades are smooth and evenly pigmented. Across the board, these are very powdery so they kick up a lot when you put a brush to them, and there’s a lot of fallout as well. They’re definitely workable, but take a little more time to get to cooperate. The shimmer shades are significantly smoother, as is the norm.

 

Here’s a look I did using all the matte shades to do a kind of rainbow look. I found the warm shades much easier to work with than the cool shades, and I think that comes across in how each eye looks as well. The green was all right, but the blue and purple really frustrated me. I found the cool shades also had much more fallout. I think this palette would be good for people looking to experiment with bold shadows without having to hunt down individual pans or shell out absurd amounts, but if you’re looking for something user-friendly I wouldn’t recommend it. For this look I used Urban Decay’s Primer Potion, and found the shadows wore without creasing for 8 hours.

I’m happy I bought it because I really like having these strong colours on hand (and I like that the pans are small!), but in the future I’ll probably put my trust in Sugarpill for bright mattes.

THE RUNDOWN
Price: $29/29.5EUR
Size: 6.2g/.21oz
Pros: Unique colours, very compact. Warm shades perform really well.
Cons: Inconsistent quality, price by weight isn’t that competitive.
Repurchase? Overall, I like this palette for its format and colour range more than its quality. If a comparable product with higher quality was accessible to me, I’d get that instead. So no, I wouldn’t repurchase.

1 month ago

HIGHLIGHTS #4 2017

It was hard to put this post off, because I feel like a lot of exciting things happened right after posting the last one. But I was patient.

MAC is now launching at US beauty midmarket store chain ULTA. It feels a little shocking? I wasn’t expecting that at all. Perhaps this is a wakeup call.

Teen Vogue is often a voice of reason, I like this article about being critical and responsible about your beauty purchases. Do you really “need it in your life”?

One of the strongest trends right now is “unicorn” everythingfood, accessories and beauty, which has been picked up on by brands like Tarte, Farsali and Too Faced. With rumours of a Lisa Frank makeup collection in the works, it looks like nostalgic girlhood is entering the mainstream.

This article on the misogyny of Vice media is from 2014, but I find it still resonates.

Drunk Elephant’s new investors include Leandra Medine of Man Repeller fame – but not Lauder. I really hope DE reaches european retailers soon, I’m dying to try it out.

Into The Gloss teaches us about at-home microneedling. Yay.

 

Clutch purse of my dreams from Olympia Le-Tan.

Lancôme is collaborating with Olympia Le-Tan! (again, last time was in 2013) Here’s my only chance of affording something with her design on it. I think the caviar design would be cute on a cushion compact…

I remember the smell of play-doh very clearly (and hate it) so the fact that there’s an application to trademark the scent is hilarious.

Stunning Senegalese model Khoudia Diop discusses racism, colourism and her modeling career with Glamour

Speaking of racism – the Urban Decay Basquiat collection doesn’t sit right with me at all. The fact that a white model is representing the collection is plain foolish, and the way Urban Decay uses drug references in their marketing and products is especially heinous considering Basquiat died of a heroin overdose. Tacky and bad, Urban Decay.

I enjoyed this piece on homophobia and male grooming from Teen Vogue. I’ve had enough of straight men and their homophobic nonsense – the other day there was an article in a major Swedish paper where a straight man complained that other men wearing perfume was “assaulting” his senses. Women wearing perfume was fine by him though – even titillating. I once had a relative go on a rant about a male celebrity wearing “too much eye makeup”. Straight men are demons. Just say you hate gay people and be done with it.

Inspo: Architectural

 

1 month ago

Guest Post: Balms, Rumours and Blunders by Teresa Navarro

For the past three years, I’ve been wondering if I have a lip balm addiction. I always keep one on me and usually keep a backup in all of my bags, and even keep count of how many tubes I have used up during the year. Though we’re only two thirds through February, I’m about to finish my sixth balm. In 2016, I managed to finish approximately 36 tubes (I say approximately because I don’t count lost and unfinished tubes and if I use the bigger metal pots, I count them as two or three tubes.) As for what I’m using right now, I’m using Dr. Lip Bang’s Lip Freak Buzzing Lip Balm in Atomic Cherry (what a mouthful!). It’s not my favorite brand since it creates a buzzing sensation on my lips, but I’m too dedicated to the cause of finishing each tube to stop.

When Saffron asked me to write for her blog, I was interested in finding out whether addiction to lip balm and other salves for your lip was a real issue or just a bunch of rumors. I was also wondering if it was true that companies put ingredients into their balms that make your lips dry so customers will buy more. Apparently, the answers are yes and no. According to a few articles from Refinery 29 and New York Magazine, the action of putting something on is often more of a psychological need than a physical need. As of right now, both dermatologists and psychologists are up in the air about whether to label over-use of lip balm as an addiction or not.

A lot of people who frequent Lip Balm Anonymous, an online forum for people who struggle with lip balm addiction, describe their use as a euphoric sensation, a crutch, or a necessity. These people will panic if they do not have something to cover their lips, which does sound like an addiction, but in reality, the body doesn’t physically demand it. I know in my situation, I immediately want to put on a new layer of balm as soon as I can tell my lips do not have any residue on them. Because of this, people constantly ask me if I eat the tube or pot that I am currently using. Of course, I laugh over it and say no and roll my eyesI guess frequent users of lip balm always get this question.

Getting back to urban legends revolving around chapstick: point blank, companies do not use addictive additives or ingredients that make your lips dry. If you do find a product drying, chances are you are having an allergic reaction and that’s why your lips feel dry instead of more hydrated. Of course, when you first put on the balm, your lips feel better because there’s some moisture on it, but if you wake up in the morning and your lips are feeling crusty or chapped, it’s most likely because you’re having a small allergic reaction.

A lot of people are allergic to castor oil, vitamin E, lanolin, fragrances or flavor, and even beeswax Just because one product makes your lips feel weird, doesn’t mean that all brands will. Compare ingredients until you pinpoint what it is that makes you react. For instance, I’m a huge Burts Bees fan, but I know their hydrating (coconut and pear flavor) balm actually dries out my lips more than any other Burts Bees product, doing the opposite of what it’s intended to do. I didn’t stop using all of their products, just the one that causes irritation.

In general, when I buy balm, I try to buy from local sellers. I’ve noticed homemade balms work the best since most of their ingredients are natural and are usually less irritating. Also, they’re cheaper and have fewer ingredients to track down. If I’m talking corporate, I will buy Burts Bees (of course avoiding the aforementioned hydrating pear and coconut flavor).

I also adore the small Baltimore, Maryland company, Buttered Buns Studio. Some of their products are inspired by pop culture which can be a little cheesy; usually, I just stick to their lip balm. Their balms are incredibly soft and they smell great too. Their mix of a breathable feeling on my lips yet with a fun and not overpowering flavor and scent is something I really appreciate. Whenever I see them at events, I always stock up. I’m not picky though, I’ll use children’s cartoon merchandise balm if that’s what’s given to me, as long as it isn’t a flavor like chocolate or bubblegum. Even as a kid, I avoided Lipsmacker-type flavors like that.

No matter what, people are going to argue that some companies put ground up glass in their product, or that an brand will make their lips drier. As we’ve all just read, it’s about allergic reactions more than anything else. Trial and error is your friend in this situation and find what works best for you. Ignore these people, and remind yourself that you probably have the better lips than them because you know the facts. That’s what I do, and look where that brought me: writing an article on my overuse of lip balm.

Teresa Navarro is a writer, friend, and neopets historian. You can reach her at @teresannavarro on twitter, and read her previous work on medium.com.

1 month ago

Review: Chanel Rouge Allure Ink

Having a bad day while in walking distance of a Chanel counter has proven to be risky to say the least. I was only supposed to buy one thing, but I bought three (Two eye stylos, which I will review in a separate post). Oops.

I can’t believe I used to make fun of her. Now she owns my soul.

My main object of desire was the Rouge Allure Ink liquid lipstick. Now, I’m not a fan of liquid lipsticks, I think they’re both unglamorous and uncomfortable (unusually it’s one or the other, not both!). But I am a fan of Kristen Stewart. She looks really hot in the ad! And the formula sounded promising. So there.

I picked ‘Experimenté’ which is the darkest shade, a deep blue-based red. Can I just say that the packaging is awesome? It’s a frosted glass bottle with a black plastic cap that has a metal bezel at the top, engraved with the Chanel logo. Super fancy and luxurious to say the least. The applicator is a slim doefoot, pretty standard for liquid lip products.

You can see both the texture and colour in this swatch. The other swatches are eye pencils in ‘noir petrole’ and ‘eros’

The actual product is a fairly thin liquid, I wouldn’t say it’s as watery as ink but it’s on the thinner side as far as liquid lipstick goes. Not mousse-like at all. In many ways it’s completely different from your run-of-the-mill matte liquid lip. I appreciate that, Chanel. The application is pretty foolproof – lip lines can be a little tricky with a doefoot, but this actually works really well with a lip liner. (I use a cheap nyx one with this. scandalous.) The colour is even and dense, I have basically no complaints about the formula. Best of all? No scent. No taste. Just colour. Halleluja, Amen.

In terms of wear time, Rouge Allure Ink is pretty standard and compares to a regular matte lipstick. It wears off in a flattering way, not crusty or dry-looking, it fades more like a stain. This won’t survive a sand-blasting like a normal matte liquid lipstick, so you will need to reapply after eating. I think reapplying lipstick is chic so I don’t mind that at all.

By the way, you can use a lip liner as a base for this to alter the shade – I darken mine slightly with a burgundy lip pencil, but you could just as well warm it up by using a more yellow-red base or lighten it with pink.

I’m just noticing my camera lens was dirty when I took these. Ugh.

This is one of the better liquid lipstick formulas I’ve tried – comparable to the Armani Lip Magnet (which I’m actually going to marry once the law allows) but with cuter packaging and a less practical applicator. I’m curious to see how the Sephora lip “stain” compares to my two luxury favourites (would there be interest in a comparison or dupe post? I have several product dupes in different categories and thought I might do a series. Let me know.)

THE RUNDOWN
Price: $37/35.5EUR
Size: 6ml/0,20oz
Pros: Intensely and evenly pigmented, pretty packaging, comfortable, wears nicely
Cons: Expensive, conventional shade range
Repurchase? I would! Armani’s version is a tiny bit better in my opinion, but the Chanel packaging is cuter. That’s how shallow I am.

 

1 month ago

Look: Red & Lilac

When you get too anxious to function, the best way to calm down is to distract yourself with a simple task that takes concentration, but not too much, and puts you in contact with your physical self. For me, that’s a beauty routine, like skincare or makeup. I’ve talked about it before and I’ll be talking about it again probably.

One particularly bad evening led me to try a colour combo that I love – red and lilac. Red and pink is the colour scheme of the hour, but I think red looks good with lilac as well (and turquoise! and chartreuse!) so here’s what I came up with.

I wanted to try an eyeliner from colourpop that I’ve had for ages but never had occasion to use, and it turned out to have dried out a lot. It just crumbled and fell off even after using a face mist to soften it with. Boo. I managed to get down a base layer at least.

I tried scraping off a layer of liner to see if the bottom of the product was still useable. Barely. Maybe it’s the formula, or the fact that this is over a year old. The colour is “Cry Baby”. Either way, I put a soft wash of Sugarpill Love+ eyeshadow and then put the Colourpop liner over it.

I used some MAC Blush in Full Of Joy on my cheeks and topped it with Hippo highlighter, also from Colourpop. Since the liner was impossible to work with I ended up using a L’Oreal colour correcting palette and it worked just fine, but probably won’t be longwearing. I haven’t tried using the concealers as actual concealers, but I’ll probably try them as creme shadows or even blushes. I like the texture but the colour range is silly.

Then I used a NYX Colour Mascara in Forget Me Not on both lashes and brows – this doesn’t really show in the photo but was VERY purple in real life. The foundation I’m wearing is Apoliva Foundation (reviewed here) and the lipstick is Chanel Rouge Allure Ink in Experimente (which I’ll be reviewing shortly.) I think it turned out pretty nice despite product mishaps and it definitely made me feel better!

2 months ago