July 30, 2012

Skincare Week: Kiehl's Açaí Damage-Repairing Sérum & Damage-Correcting Moisturizer

A few months ago, I decided that I wanted to add a serum to my skincare regime. I did some research, as I am wont to do; but then I stepped into Kiehl's and upon hearing my skincare concerns, the SA recommended the Açaí Serum. Of course, she used many other products on my skin, and I also walked away with the Açaí Damage-Correcting Moisturizer.

The main ingredient in Kiehl's Açaí line is, obviously, the Açaí berry, which is "known to be one of nature's most powerful antioxidants." And we all know what a bid deal antioxidants are in skincare, don't we? I can't tell you why (free radicals and some such), I just know it's a big deal. :p

So what do I think about these two products?

Firstly, let's talk about the Damage-Repairing Serum... Or "Sérum" (potato, potahto).

From Kiehl's: Our ultra concentrated, readily-absorbent formula quickly penetrates skin's surface to repair the effects of visible damage to skin's tone, texture, and elasticity due to environmental oxidation, sun exposure, and other external skin stressors. Ecocert Organic Certified. 100% Natural Origin Ingredients. Paraben and Silocone Free.

Now, maybe it's because my skin wasn't really damaged to begin with, but I didn't really see much of a difference in my skin. It has a liquidy texture, which most serums have, and it sinks into the skin fairly quickly; nothing new in the serum world, I think. I guess I expected this serum to be a bit of a miracle worker, like I heard the Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair is. Perhaps it was that unfair comparison that made this serum a slight disappointment to me.

As for the Damage-Correcting Moisturizer...

From Kiehl's: This antioxidant-enriched, non-greasy moisturizer helps skin repair the visible effects of oxidative environmental stress while minimizing the appearance of fine lines and loss of elasticity. Skin is visibly renewed, smoother, and more even-toned. Ecocert Organic Certified. 100% Natural Original Ingredients. Paraben and Silicone Free.

Now this one, I really like. My concern has always been getting enough hydration but not too much that my skin becomes oily. This moisturizer is absolutely perfect for that! It feels like I actually have moisturizer on and it sinks into my skin enough that there's not much of a residue left behind. My skin feels moisturized and not just on top of the skin, but beneath the skin as well. Love this stuff!

As I mentioned above, the Serum was a bit of a disappointment to me, but I have to give it some credit. When used with the moisturizer, I did notice a more even skintone after a week or two of use. I guess because my skin hasn't suffered a lot of damage, it really isn't going to do that much. But I still like the fact that I'm doing something preventative with my skin so that when anti-aging actually becomes a concern, I won't be too badly off.

Still, I'm not entirely sure I would repurchase the serum, though I know that I'll definitely be repurchasing the moisturizer. It's exactly what I'm looking for in a moisturizer and it's been working wonderfully for me these past months.

Are you a fan of Kiehl's skincare products?

July 27, 2012

Bright Mattes With Joe Fresh!

I'm not sure I can think of anything sexier than a bright, matte lip...

Um, wellll... *pitiful sigh*

But I digress!

Bright, matte lips are über sexy and what better time to rock them than in the Summer? I mean, don't get me wrong, I would rock bright matte's any time I feel like it. But I just have this image of a white sundress, sexy shades, tousled hair, minimal makeup, and bright matte lips; it's très summer-y, no?

These two lipsticks from Joe Fresh have actually been in my possession for a while now, but I've only just gotten round to writing about them. Slacker beauty blogger likes to to slack off,  yo. But it's still Summer, so I'm counting this as a victory. *proceeds to lunge*

Joe Fresh makes excellent lipsticks, I think, and their mattes are no exception. I purchased Fuchsia and Melon (no colour descriptions needed here, me thinks), which are two shades that I'm quite fond of at the moment.

As all other matte formulas I've tried (which isn't that many, admittedly), the texture feels quite lightweight and it smoothes onto the lips easily. It does accentuate dry flakes, though; which, again, is something I find all my matte lipsticks do... Well, all matte lipsticks in general. I also find that I have to use a lip liner, otherwise it'll feather around the edge of my lips.

I purchased Fuchsia specifically for a performance I had back in June. It's been on my radar since I saw it on The Glitter Geek (there it is again... I told you, Arianne is a fountain of makeup knowledge!) and I have to say, I prefer how it looks on Arianne. It looks very blue-pink on me, which is not the look I was going for. It's also not quite as matte as Melon; as you can see in the lip swatch above, there is still a bit of sheen on my lips... It's still a very pretty shade, though!

Now, when I think of the word "melon," I think of something more pastel. As you can see, this shade is a bit more tangerine-y than melon, but I'm not really bothered; I just like to nitpick! :p

As with other Joe Fresh lipsticks, Fuchsia and Melon are quite pigmented and opacity can be attained with just a swipe or two. That said, like other lightweight lipsticks, it's really best to keep the layering to a minimum as it tends to not apply evenly the more you put on.

Unfortunately, because my lips are so insanely dry at the moment (I'm sure you can tell from all the lip swatch photos. And check out those crazy-dry corners, yo!), I can't wear lipsticks. But once in a while, I'll put it on when I'm at home and don't have to impress anyone because it makes me feel like a true Lipstick Bandit again. =/

And now for some fun!

Well, bright lips are supposed to be fun, aren't they? So I thought I would experiment a bit with Fuchsia and Melon. Here's what I came up with...

Colour-blocked lips, which I first saw in an editorial photo and was also done by The Notice and Getting Cheeky for the Summer Brights Lipstick Bandit post. 

Ombré lips, which has been all over the blogosphere at this point, I think. This is just my humble take on it. I actually really like this one -- it's subtle enough that I would actually wear it out.

What's your favourite matte lipstick?

July 24, 2012

The Damage! (Or Dani's IMATS 2012 Haul) + Tips For The IMATS Newbie

And here we have the somewhat anticipated haul post!

I... Spent a lot of money this year... Though in my defense, I needed to get a lot of brushes for the two weddings I'm doing this weekend (eek!). I have 5 bridesmaids to make up in one of the weddings, so I'm sure you can all understand the necessity for buying as much as I did. At first, I briefly considered buying some online (Bdellium was my number one choice); but in the end, I decided against it and here's why: 1) I want to be able to feel the brush prior to purchasing. I'm particular with certain brushes: i.e. blending brushes have to be tapered and not be too stiff, while blush brushes have to be flatter and more tapered. Only I can be the judge of that, since what's tapered to me may not be tapered enough for someone else and vice versa. 2) I had put off purchasing brushes for so long that by the time I was seriously considering purchasing online, they wouldn't have arrived to me on time. And let's not even talk about what would've happened if the brush was not to my liking... I had some serious anxiety over this, you guys! :p

Long (and unnecessary) story short, I decided to purchase brushes at IMATS and I'm so glad I did. They make me happy and so have my other purchases... Speaking of which, here they are:

From Royal & Langnickel: 20-pc Brush Roll ($20 CAD), 4 MASTER Pro Blush brushes, 2 Brush Essentials Crease brushes, 5 Pointed Lip brushes, 3 SILK Pro Crease brushes, 3 SILK Pro Taklon Brow brushes, and 1 SILK Pro Concealer brush.

From Crown Brush: 4 Studio Line Angle Liner brushes, 3 Syntho Series Deluxe Medium Foundation brushes, 4 Italian Badge Series Angle Blush brushes, 3 Luna Series BK02 Unique Pointed Dome brushes, 3 Luna Series BK15 Large Chisel Fluff brushes.

I told you guys, I needed a lot of brushes!

I wasn't expecting to get that many blending brushes, but when I saw the ones from Royal & Langnickel's Brush Essentials line, I knew I had to have it. I've worked on some women who have such small lid spaces that my regular blending brushes would literally be too big on them. So having these small ones will be perfect for those clients.

Also, the Badger Line from Crown Brush came recommended by Arianne (a.k.a. The Glitter Geek).  I really can't wait to try these brushes out at the weddings I'm doing this weekend!

The prices were amazing, as well. The cheapest brushes I got were around $2.50, which were the eye brushes. Meanwhile, the face brushes ranged anywhere from $7-$14 each. I'm so glad I waited to get my brushes at IMATS.

From Ben Nye: 1 Fashion Rouge Palette ($32 CAD), 1 Ben Nye MediaPRO Sheer Foundation Palette ($49 CAD), and 2 Contour Powder Rouge powders (which were given to us free from the Ben Nye booth).

I was really excited to purchase these products from Ben Nye. I've wanted a foundation palette for some time now and I'm so excited for this new addition to my kit. As for the Fashion Rouge Palette -- I wasn't originally going to purchase it, but I just fell in love with all the shades. I'll be reviewing both these products in the blog soon... Well, at least I hope it'll be soon. :p

From Cover FX: Clear Prep FX ($23.50 CAD).

This face primer for oily and acne-prone skin was also recommended by Arianne (she's a fountain of makeup knowledge, that one). I only have one skin primer at this point, which is Make Up For Ever's HD primer, but it's caused breakouts for some people and I wanted something specifically for oily skin. 

From Naimie's Beauty Centre: 1 hot pink large Z Palette ($15 CAD) and 1 small mixing palette ($5.50 CAD).

From Nigel's Beauty Supply: A large, clear plastic bag for my kit ($8 CAD) and 1 larger mixing palette ($5.50 CAD).

I knew I wanted another Z palette and I like hot pink, so I obviously had to pick this one up. As for the mixing palettes -- I bought the Naimie's palette before I decided to brave the line at Nigel's. At first I considered returning the smaller palette at Naimie's, but then I thought it would be perfect for mixing lip products (the larger palette will be used for mixing foundation or concealer).

The large bag was a disappointment, though. I wanted a medium sized bag with a strap so that I could bring a few products with me for touchups when I do on location photoshoots (like the engagement shoot I did last week). However, I foolishly just grabbed this one instead of checking to see if it had a strap. I can still use it, obviously, but it wasn't the bag that I wanted. =/

From Nigel's Beauty Supply: Lashes galore! (7 for $15 CAD or 15 for $20 CAD)

Nigel's had an awesome deal for lashes, so this is a no-brainer, right? I kinda wish I got another 15 pairs, though. Makeup artists can go through lashes so quickly, so stocking up is always a good idea.

From Nigel's Beauty Supply: OCC Lip Tars in Queen, NSFW, and Demure ($9 CAD).

I was so excited to see that Nigel's was selling OCC Lip Tars! I've wanted to get some for so long, but I've always been hesitant because I wanted to swatch them myself and feel the consistency and texture firsthand. I'm really happy with my shade choices, too; I can't wait to take these babies out for a test drive!

From Make Up For Ever: 5 HD Foundations (5 for $130 CAD), 2 Aqua Brows ($6 CAD), 2 Mat Bronze Bronzing Powders ($22 CAD), and 2 eyeshadows (I believe they were $12 CAD each).

(L-R: 115, 127, 128, 140, & 153)

I wasn't completely convinced that I should get 5 of the foundations, but I decided that it was such a good deal and I needed to avail of it. I decided to stick to the light-medium spectrum of the range, as I foresee myself working on those skin tones quite a lot. I figured I'll purchase these shades now and then purchase other shades as needed (this is also where the foundation palette comes in). 

Now, I know the 3 shades in the middle look pretty similar, but if you look at these two photos of MUFE HD Foundation swatches from Karla Sugar, you will see that they look very different. In fact, I was so surprised at how vastly different 127 and 128 are from each other and they're right beside each other on the colour spectrum. 

These 5 foundations join the veterans of my kit: 120, 155, and 177. I think with 8 MUFE foundations, plus my Ben Nye foundation palette, my kit's pretty much stacked in terms of base products. 

(L-R: Metallic Taupe 127 & Iridescent Brown Black 139)

I wasn't originally intending on getting any eyeshadows, but I was just drawn to these two shades and I kind of fell in love with them. I've become a bit of a neutral lover in the past few months; plus, these will fit in nicely with my bridal palette.

(L-R: 30 & 40)

Another craymazing (crazy + amazing. It's a thing... Not a new thing, but it's a thing) deal from Make Up For Ever -- these new Aqua Brows were on sale for 50% off at IMATS and sold for $6 each. The Aqua Brows are pretty much the rebranded version of the Waterproof Eyebrow Correctors; they have the same formula, but there are more colours available (I believe there are 2-3 more colours available). I decided to stick to the 2 darkest shades as I feel like the bulk of my clients will be Asian women, at least at first (hence, sticking to the darker shades), but I'm kicking myself in the butt for not getting all the other shades now. >_<

(L-R: 20 Honey & 30 Cinnamon)

As I was making my list for IMATS, I realized that I didn't have a bronzer in my kit (shock horror!), so I decided to pick up 2 of the MUFE Mat Bronze Bronzing powders. I chose the two medium shades and they're both lovely.

And now, a few tips for the IMATS newb...

1) Get to know the vendors - Some booths will be beauty supply stores, therefore you wouldn't know right away what they will be selling. Each IMATS vendor that has a website will be linked to on the exhibitor list page on the IMATS website. Click on each link to see what products they offer, this will help you with the next point.

2) Make a shopping list - Some booths will be crazy busy, so sometimes it's better to get in and then get out right away. The combination of me coming early and me having made a list prior to going to IMATS meant that I was at the MUFE booth for less than 10 minutes (MUFE has a system in place where they give you a piece of paper for you to write your "order" on and they simply grab it all for you while you wait by the cash register to give your payment). It may not sound like a big deal, but you will appreciate it when you walk by the MUFE booth later on and you see the long ass line up.

3) Make a game plan - Make sure to get the busiest booths out of the way first, that way you can spend the rest of your time browsing the other booths at a more leisurely pace. I made the mistake of not going to Nigel's Beauty Emporium after MUFE and I ended up waiting in line for more than 30 minutes. But this will only really work if you come early, so...

4) Come early - Seriously, showing up half an hour before the doors opened made a world of difference! Did I mention that it only took me 10 minutes to go to the MUFE booth, pay for my purchases, and move on? Coming early is a good thing, yo!

And that concludes my IMATS posts... Can you believe I considered condensing it all into ONE? It would've been the post that never ends (yes it goes on and on, my friend)!

Anything catch your eye, lovelies?

July 23, 2012

IMATS Vancouver 2012! (Or Dani's Second IMATS Experience)

Ahhh, it seems like only yesterday that I went to IMATS for the very first time... A year later and my life has gone in a new direction -- that of makeup artistry. I was definitely much more prepared this time around. My decision to go to last year's IMATS was a bit of a whim, so I didn't do any research; I kind of just... went

Anyway... This year, I decided to show up 30 minutes before the doors opened, which was at 8:30am. I was probably one of the first 20 people there and I only had to wait about 20 minutes before going in.

I may be mistaken, but I think there were less exhibitors this year than there was last year. Vancouver gets less exhibitors than all the other cities, in general, so to have even less this year than last is really disappointing. There were a total of 28 exhibitors present this year and only 22 of them were selling merchandise. Some booths also didn't have a lot of products available for purchase, which was such a let down. Naimie's Beauty Centre and CoverFX were the biggest disappointments; I think they must've had maybe 15 products at their table and that was it. I was really looking forward to purchasing the Matte FX powders from Cover FX, but they were only available in a kit and it only came in one shade. From a logistical standpoint, is it really feasible for them to come to Vancouver if they're not selling much of their products?

I'm sure there are many reasons why a lot of the brands that are available in Toronto, New York, and LA aren't made available in Vancouver -- perhaps there's not enough people attending IMATS in Vancouver and brands can't justify coming all the way here. But as a beauty blogger and a (baby) makeup artist, I still can't help being disappointed. Hopefully, as the years go by, IMATS Vancouver will grow to be as amazing as the shows in other cities.

Still, I had a great time and it was most definitely worth it for me to come again. I was able to get nearly all of the products I wanted to get to stock my kit, namely -- BRUSHES (and a lot of them!). My biggest concern was getting to the Make Up For Ever booth, as it is always so busy (unless you're one of the first, which I was!); I wasn't even able to get anything from MUFE last year because I was too impatient to wait in line for ages. But I made sure to rectify that this time around!

It's always lovely seeing other artists work, so I make sure to stop and stare appreciate the workmanship that goes into each look that's being created. That last photo was definitely my favourite... That gentleman from Blanche Macdonald actually had a little audience gathered around him, watching him work. It's just so editorial and high fashion -- I can easily see this model walking down the runway at a Dior show. I wish I could've watched him work for longer, but the line to Nigel's Beauty Emporium took me around a corner and I couldn't see him.

This year, I decided to take advantage of some of the talks that were going on. I chose to go to the Once Upon A Time Discussion Panel because I wanted to hear more about what it's like to work as a makeup artist in the film & tv industry, and the Camera-Ready Beauty Make-up session with Courtney Frey because I wanted to see the Ben Nye MediaPRO HD Sheer Foundation Palette at work. Unfortunately, because the two sessions overlapped, I missed the part that I  was looking forward to the most :p.

The Once Upon A Time Discussion was... interesting. I'm toying with the idea of getting into film & tv eventually, so I was really looking forward to hearing about the makeup artist's experiences with working on that show. There were 3 makeup artists and 2 actors in the panel, so we got to hear about makeup artistry from two different perspectives. That said, one of the actors kind of hijacked the panel... Don't get me wrong; as a performer, it was definitely valuable for me to hear what it's like for him to be in the makeup chair for hours at a time. BUT, I was really there to hear what the makeup artists had to say, and I think that because makeup artists are not usually in front of an audience (and speaking into a mic, at that), they were probably unaccustomed to the experience and didn't feel comfortable taking control of the situation.

I also wished that there was a question and answer section at the panel. There were things that I wanted the makeup artists to touch on... What is the collaborative relationship between makeup artists, actors, and production staff like? How far ahead do you get scripts in order to conceptualize makeup designs? How do you experiment with new technologies, textures, and formulas before using it on set? How do you build rapport with the talent on your chair? These were all things that I wanted to know, and it would've been amazing if I had the chance to ask that.

As for the Camera-Ready Beauty Make-up session, it was kind of difficult to see what Courtney was doing on the model at times because of the set up. But that can't really be helped as she was onstage. There were monitors on stage right and stage left, but the clarity of the image onscreen was not that great. What I really liked though, was that Dana Nye (son of Ben Nye) was on hand to speak more in depth about the various products Courtney was using. Since Courtney was doing makeup on her model, she understandably could not put too much of her focus on talking about the products; so it was really awesome to have Dana there as well. Plus, they gave a little package of 2 contour powders to the people who went to the session. Huzza (and all that jazz)!

*Fun Fact: Ben Nye was a makeup artist on The Sound of Music. <fangirling> How flippin' cool is that?!? </fangirling>

And there you have my second IMATS experience in a... What's the opposite of nutshell? :p

If you made it through this unnecessarily long and ramble-y post, then I commend you!

Stay tuned for my haul post!

Have you ever been to IMATS?

July 18, 2012

My New Favourite Eyeliner...

Here's the thing... Yes, the products that are in my makeup kit are also used for personal use (after proper sanitizing, of course!), but it kind of becomes a hassle when it's a product that you would use every day -- or nearly every day, at least. Unpack, repack, unpack, repack, and all that jazz... So, I figured now is the time to get another gel eyeliner, since my Clinique Brush-On Cream Liner is officially in the kit.

BUT, since I am on a low-buy (gotta save up for the dslr, baby!), I decided to turn to Drugstore fare. To be completely honest, I didn't really expect much from the Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner, which I purchased at London Drugs for $9.99 CAD each; but boy, was I surprised...

Blackest Black


I purchased 2 of the shades - Blackest Black (black eyeliner is, and should be, a staple in everyone's stash) and Eggplant (softer and a bit more fun than traditional black, and it compliments brown eyes well). Both shades are well pigmented, though Eggplant does take a few more swipes before getting the opacity I desire. Also, while Blackest Black is a straight up black, Eggplant has small, silver particles running through it; I can't describe it as "glittery," but there's definitely some shimmer action going on.

Each pot also comes packaged with a small eyeliner brush, which I actually really like! I've always been partial to angled brushes (my favourite is one of MAC's angled brushes -- can't remember if it was the 263 or the 266), so I really wasn't sure about these ones. But again, I was pleasantly surprised. The bristles are short and firm, just how I like my eyeliner brushes, and the handle is as short as a travel-sized brush; which, when you consider how bad my eyesight is, it's pretty awesome that I can get close enough to the mirror on my vanity to see my eye clearly without knocking the end of my brush on the mirror. It's the small things, guys...

It's also rather easy to create the flick that I am quite fond of with these brushes, which would've been the dealbreaker for me. So BIG THUMBS UP to Maybelline for these awesome brushes!

Blackest Black


*Please excuse the difference in skintone. I used a foundation with a more yellow undertone for the Eggplant swatch. Also, I took the photo of Blackest Black on a cloudier day. Apologies!

The texture of these gel liners are also quite nice -- they don't have as much slip as Clinique's and they've also got a thicker consistency, but it still glides on very smoothly. But the best part is, I don't need to wear primer underneath in order to have it last all day. I did see some very slight migration to the bottom lash line at 12 hours, but 9 of those hours were spent in a hot, crowded room doing makeup or outside in the hot sun for a photoshoot. I was definitely impressed by how well it stood up to all of those conditions... Lasting Drama, indeed!

That said, because it's long lasting, I have to wash my brushes way more frequently than I would like. I'm talking about every 1-2 uses, yo! On the second use, I found the brush to be very stiff and I wasn't able to make my flick as precise as I normally would be able to. Still, it's a pretty small price to pay to have a gel liner that works this well and at such an inexpensive price point. Kudos to you, Maybelline! Well done! :)

What's your favourite gel liner?

July 16, 2012

NEW From MAC's Heavenly Creature's Collection

I haven't really been paying attention to MAC collections this season, to be honest. But when I stopped by my local MAC store last week, I figured it wouldn't hurt to swatch a few products from the Heavenly Creature's collection. Lo and behold, there were two products that caught my eye: a Cremesheen Glass in the shade Galaxy Rose and a lipstick in the shade Cut a Caper.

Galaxy Rose is described as a "mid-tone violet pink," a shade that's not really present in my stash (at least in the form of a gloss). I really fell in love with the colour; the depth of the shade gives it a more sophisticated, but still feminine look - as opposed to the girlier look that lighter, softer pinks tend to have (which I still love!).

As a gloss, it doesn't last very long on my lips; not that I expected it to. But it does fade in a very natural and subtle way. There's also some tackiness, though it's definitely not the stickiest lipgloss I've ever tried. All in all, a typical MAC formula...

MAC Cremesheen Glasses are $22.50 CAD.

Cut a Caper, which is a repromote from MAC's A Tartan Tale Collection, is also a product that I chose to purchase because I didn't have anything quite like it. Described as a "mid-tone peach pink," it's a shade that I would call a softer, more pastel version of coral. All of my peach/coral/orange shades are fairly vibrant, so I really like that Cut a Caper is more understated. Perfect for when I want to wear something on the bright side but don't want to make that bold a statement.

It's your standard lustre lipstick from MAC -- same formula, same texture, same scent. Though I did find that this lipstick didn't last quite as long as other MAC lipsticks I own. 

MAC Lipsticks are $17.50 CAD.

Galaxy Rose

Cut a Caper

Both shades are just utterly gorgeous! 

I'm particularly enjoying Cut a Caper at the moment, as I've now got a shade that I can wear with some of my less used blushes (Immortal Flower, namely) that is still quite appropriate for daytime or more conservative functions. 

Galaxy Rose, what can I say? It's just so beautiful -- feminine and chic, without looking too precious. I need more shades like this in my life!

Have a fantastic week, lovelies!


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