Monday, April 21, 2014

Fave: Fusion Illumicover Concealer

I've been dying to do an empties post for a while -- I really wanted it to be a video so my YouTube channel wouldn't be completely dead but...such is life. The other requirement that's been holding me back is that I wanted to include a makeup product.  We know how I am about makeup -- I just don't finish things.  Skincare I'll run through rather regularly, but colour products are just...we'll see.

My first makeup product I've finished in legitimate ages: Fusion Illumicover Concealer -- I can't even count the number of times I've mentioned this in passing on the blog, on YouTube, on every other form of social media, but I bloody adore this stuff.  I've tried YSL Touche Eclat, Clinique Airbrush (although in the wrong colour, so that may be worth revisiting), a couple of drugstore imitations, but nothing comes close.  This is where it's at.

I have to mentally repress the urge to use this all over my face as a foundation -- it is skin-matching, glowy perfection.  I use the colour Medium all over my face and it removes just enough blemish/dark circle/scar to be fake even skin tone, but leaves enough skin showing through so you don't look like you're wearing a mask.

Repurchase?  Absolutely.  Backed up twice already, because I'm a little afraid they're going to discontinue it.

Note: In the image above, the Lower Left colour from the Sonia Kashuk Hidden Agenda palette is the absolute closest to my skin colour -- it looks super green compared to the rest of the swatches and my arm, but I really am that olive-toned. All other concealer tones work on my skin because they kind of neutralize any scarring and match very well to my most-used foundations.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Paula Dorf Smokie Lid Brush

I've got quite a list of makeup graveyard stories. everything from weeping over a discontinued shade to the more recent fiendish eBay hunts.

The worst of them has to be discovering a product that you absolutely know in your gut that would be perfect for you, only to find out that you heard about it a few months too late.  

Enter: Paula Dorf Smokie Lid brush -- I mentioned I'd be telling this story earlier this week.

I'm a typically Asian person with very little eye definition -- the flesh of my eye is quite flat from my brownbone to my lash line, so I need a little colour to help define my eye area and help me look more awake and less puffy.  The way most people need to put on their brows or apply mascara -- I need eye contour.

Til now I haven't been that picky with my eye brushes.  If you've been with me long enough, you'll recall very old videos where I could do everything I needed with an old Aveda flat shader brush.  It was a simpler time.  Now it's almost embarrassing to admit exactly how many brushes I have that are almost-not-quite the same as each other -- every size of crease/lash/liner/shader/blending brush that I've never imagined anyone needing.  Spoiler alert: you don't need all the brushes.  Save yourselves and your wallets.

After a Lisa Eldridge Marathon one day where she highly recommended the Paula Dorf Smokie Lid brush, I knew I had to have it.  Never mind the extensive Google Image search that came after, even just seeing it in the video made me absolutely certain beyond all else that I needed it in my life.  It was like no other eye brush I'd seen before -- short, stubby bristles that didn't look like they could cover much ground.

I found a tester in a random beauty store in Toronto. After two sessions of negotiating and pleading, they wouldn't sell it to me.  Maybe I tried too hard?  And having used it for a few months now, how could I not -- it is exactly dense enough to pick up an intense, but workable amount of colour, yet just tapered enough to really focus the pigment in the lashline and diffuse it.  I've used it to thicken up eyeliner, contour underneath the eye, for my inner-corner highlight, contour my outer V, everything I've ever needed to alter my eye shape.

Anyway, Tod gave it to me for Christmas.  I don't ask questions, but mine actually has the word Tester engraved into it.

Image: Paula Dorf Smokie Lid brush pictured with the eye products I've been using lately.  Ain't no texture this baby can't handle.

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.