Monday, April 14, 2014

Current Makeup Brush Rotation

Despite the number of brush posts I've put out over the years, I'm only just starting to get over the obsession.  I remember the days when I used to fantasize about owning every single MAC brush in existence, plotting ways to hunt down discontinued versions on eBay, endlessly imagining the varied ways I could store them and the exact purpose of each.  Come on, beauty geeks, we've all been there. Haven't we?

In 2013, I broke out of the MAC cocoon and started exploring some new brushes -- here are my favourites; some old, some new, all beautiful.

I finally got around to using the Beauty Blender on myself. I'm in love.  It's perfect for those no-makeup makeup days.  For days that I need more help, I switch between Sephora #45 Mineral Powder Brush and the Real Techniques Buffing Brush.  They're pretty similar, but the Buffing Brush has a slightly flatter top.  I use all three tools to blend in foundation and concealer -- the lazy side of me doesn't feel its necessary to dirty twice as many tools.

At IMATS 2013, I scooped up the vermillion-handled Hakuhodo S103 -- is there anything this brush can't do?  It's the softest goat hair brush I've ever felt, and I've started using powder just so I have an excuse to use it.  My other Hakuhodo purchase was the teeniest, tiniest push liner brush, the J521.  According to the site, the bristles measure 2.3 mm. Instant lashes.

For eyes I've been favouring full, fluffy brushes -- as always, a MAC 217 will find its way into my weekly brush washing, but a few friends have regularly joined the mix.  Paula Dorf Sheer Crease brush is fantastically tapered and pushes colour ever-so-gently into your eye sockets.  To finish a look (or on particularly lazy days when you want that really soft, hazy wash of colour around your eyes), Edward Bess Luxury Eye Brush is my go-to.  The handle is so perfectly weighted, something I never knew would be important to me. 

Most prized possession?  A Suqqu cheek brush.  Read about that here.
My other most prized possession?  A Paula Dorf Smokie Lid brush.  Yes, it exists.  There's a story for another day.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Skincare: As natural as it gets

I'm not sure when the natural skincare bug bit me, but around this time last year, I was almost exclusively using skincare that was labelled paraben-free, organic, silicone-free, etc.  I've never been particularly committed to living or eating clean (even as I type that I'm unable to keep a straight face), but my skincare routine had unconsciously moved in that direction.

Caveat Emptor:  When a product labels or packages or brands itself to be natural, be aware that it may not be as clean as it looks.  Case in point?  The Body Shop.  I hear it's getting better now, but at the height of its eco-chic campaign, I have never been more attacked by synthetic fragrance than when walking by one of their stores.  It was the Bath and Body Works of the mid-90s.

Cut to today, where I obviously use several products that contain silicone, petrolatum, mineral oil, squalene, everything that just makes your skin feel oooh good, but I've arrived at a pretty happy balance of natural, DIY and market skincare.  

At the end of the day, I'm mainly writing this post for those who really want to strip down their routines to the most natural of my knowledge, so please, please feel free to sound off in the comments!

Cleanser: I adore Pai Camellia and Rose cleanser, but that isht gets pricey.  Of course, worth every penny I've ever spent on it, but I can completely understand that it's a commitment to cleansing.  A great substitute for the morning is just to take a cotton round and use regular milk to go over your face in the morning.  Let the lactic acid do its thing for a few minutes and rinse off.  For a super-duper clean finish, check out my experience with a yogurt mask here.

Toner/Treatment: Lemons! I sang the praises of lemon juice in my 2013 Skincare Favourites, but I had to mention it again.  It is the single best treatment I've ever found to prevent acne, to heal current acne and to fade scars.  If it's too strong, use less and/or mix with water!  Be warned, if you use lemon juice, your skin will become more sensitive to light, so don't be lazy with the SPF.

Moisturizer: For moisturizer, I love anything and everything Caudalie.  I wouldn't say it's the most natural brand available, but it is one of those lines where nothing really lasts for more than six months before it starts to smell weird.  I'm also a big fan of Dr. Hauschka and Weleda moisturizers -- for a really emollient, heavy duty moisturizer, try Weleda's Skin Food.  The Rose day Creams from both lines are also fantastic; light but hydrating.

Oils:  Likely the most natural part of my routine, and consistently one of my favourites, I could go on about face oils all day.  My current rotation is Josie Maran Argan Oil (the texture really is the best of any I've tried), but I've also previously tried jojoba and coconut oils on my face; it's not something I can do every day, but at least 3 -4 times a week.  Coconut oil has also been great for my body the past couple of years, and every now and again I'll throw it in my hair for extra hydration.

Masks:  Just do this.  It will solve all of your problems.

Favourite Reailers:, Whole Foods, Jacob + Sebastian for the ultra-fancy.  Bulk Barn has also been subjected to my hours of beauty wanderings.

Monday, February 17, 2014

up the eyeliner | Five Product Face

Because it's a banking holiday and I can't get over this eyeliner look.

Lancome Artliner
Prestige My Blackest Lashes
Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Moonstone
Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage SC-3
Illamasqua Eye Brow Cake Motto

Monday, February 10, 2014

Review: Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder in Medium

Just look at that colour.  Do you know what colour that is?  Find any random object that casts a shadow and tell me that Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder in Medium is not the exact faded combination of gray, brown, purple, and black that makes up a shadow.

Don't bother.  This is that colour.

One of my favourite finds I think ever in the history of my makeup collection.  I honestly don't recall ever having used anything so consistently since the day I purchased it.  It was love at first review search, and I haven't looked back since.

I've never been particularly obsessed with contouring on myself -- my face just didn't seem like the right candidate for contouring.  I love contouring other people, don't get me wrong, but when it came to my own face, I had a hard time placing the exact location of where I wanted my cheekbones to be, and how far I wanted them to extend.  Let me tell you, getting both the colour and the placement wrong?  Lindsay can tell you about that..

I briefly dabbled in a world of MAC Emote, Benefit Hoola and Chanel Bronze Universel, but none of them were ever quite right.  I've come a long way since the days of hopelessly trying to carve out a cheekbone with the considerably shimmery NARS Casino, or trying to keep NYX Taupe from turning pink on my extremely olive skin.  I can't even photograph it correctly because it just looks like a shadow on my arm.  This is it.  I've found it.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Review: Suqqu Cheek Brush

It's one of those things you can't quite explain.

How do you communicate a sensation?  I can tell you something's pebbly, smooth, sharp or rough but I can't really explain the degree to which they are those things.  Normally at this point, I'd compare it to something similar, but in this case...there really isn't anything similar.

Except mink.  Go feel a mink.

That's the closest thing to which I can compare the Suqqu Cheek Brush. This wonderfully soft (what an inadequate word) marvel is the most beautiful, sleek concoction of grey squirrel and ebony.  It's smaller than anyone would expect, but the perfectly weighted handle offers a balance that comes only with several years of manufacturing expertise.

Getting back to how soft and plushy this brush is, I think it's most evident when you press it into your cheek.  The moment you sweep the bristles on your face, they bend and give in a way that no other brush ever has.  Where occasionally I find that even my higher end brushes feel as though they're pushing my skin a little, there is not a doubt in my mind that the Suqqu Cheek Brush uses only the most accommodating of bristles.

Because the bristles are so soft, they deliver the sheerest wash of colour.  Even the most pigmented of blushes (I'm looking at you, Tarte Tipsy and NYX Red) become a light flush of colour, so light and feathery that barely any of the pigment rests on your skin.  And once again, because the bristles are so silky, you won't see any irritation from building up softer colours.  In fact, the more you buff, the more natural the colours become.

I can't quite put into words how much I love this brush, you'll just have to take my word for it.

Availability: Mine was purchased off eBay for $132 + shipping.  These are available for online ordering at, but are rarely in stock.  Suqqu also has counters available in Japan and Thailand.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Hair Chat | Hair Donation

I have always put an incredible premium on my hair -- it's probably far too much of a part of my identity, but what can I say?  It has the capacity to instantly change the way I feel about myself, to pull me out of a funk, to practice and improve at something.  I love my hair, and I can't imagine going a day without it.  I detailed my hair journey once, from Grade 1 bowl cut to a horrifying senior year perm.  Check it out here.

That said, there are women every day who have lost their hair due to various forms of cancer treatment.  My decision to donate my hair came when I began working with Pantene Beautiful Lengths* and National Donate Your Hair Day -- so many people came out to support and contribute, it was hard not to start thinking about it.  There were so many stories of women who had received wigs; having hair helped them regain their confidence and sense of self.

Check out the video below -- I'll explain more about the donation process and the requirements; you can see exactly how long my hair is and how much I cut off, and the length it's at after I'm done.


*I work with Pantene to execute the Pantene Beautiful Lengths campaign; all opinions and experiences are my own!

Monday, January 20, 2014

2013 Skincare Favourites

So YouTube tells me I haven't uploaded a video in nine months.  Yikes.  Hopefully the next one won't take me another school year to figure out!  In this video, I'm sharing some skin discoveries from the past year -- if I'm not mistaken, almost every single item has changed!

Except for Avene Eau Thermale.  Nothing's even come close to replacing that.

Apologies for the rapidfire speech, I had a LOT of product to get through.  If you have any questions, just ask!