make-up & pretty things review #1

As previously mentioned, this post is dedicated to reviewing beauty products (sorry dudes if this bores you). When I started compiling my stash of products to review, I realized there were a lot more items that I wanted to talk about than I initially thought. So to prevent from boring you all with lots and lots of text, I figured it would be better to concentrate on no more than 10 items per review, and aim for 1 review every week or two. I’ll also make a note now that I’m no make-up guru, and everything I review are based on my personal experiences and my personal opinions.

Let me start off with a bit of background info. I only really developed an interest in make-up back in September, when I turned 26 realizing I was getting older (not old haha) and should probably brush up on my make-up skills in case I ever wanted the option to create a different look for a night out or a special event. Since my everyday look is pretty basic (eye liner, concealer, blush and occasionally lip gloss), I wanted to figure out what other looks work on me and, perhaps more importantly, what looks don’t work on me.

With that said though, I was never a stranger to make-up. In fact, I was exposed to make-up very early in life because of my dancing background. I started wearing make-up when I began performing at the age of 3, and was putting on my own make-up by the time I was 9. Even though I only wore it for performances, I knew then that I was never going to enjoy the feeling of having make-up plastered all over my face. That is why to this day, I very rarely wear foundation on my face.

One of my biggest problems is I can’t wear a lot of eye makeup. I’ve played with different coloured eyeshadows in the past, but colour just never seemed to work on me. I eventually learned that having big eyes was my problem. Unlike most people who wear eye make-up to draw attention to their eyes, I can’t wear a lot of eye make-up because anything in excess would accentuate my eyes too much. Through trial and error, I’ve discovered that a bit of eye liner, concealer, natural colour eye shadows and some blush is good enough. With some mascara and lipstick to finish the job, that’s it for my makeup routine.

This is so you understand why my makeup reviews are on simple products and natural colours. Not everything works on everyone, and just because certain colours worked on one person it doesn’t necessarily mean it will work on another. With that said, the products that I review here are based on what works for me and should only serve as your reference. Go out there and try things out. See what works for you and remember…sometimes, less is more.

My first “investment” was in these Sigma Makeup Brushes. I had seen a lot of good reviews for these brushes so I ordered the Naughty in Black Travel Kit to try them out. I picked this set because it had the most eye brushes that I wanted. It came with 7 brushes + a bonus F50 brush (not shown in above picture).

Sigma brushes are known to be most comparable to the quality of MAC brushes, except they are a fraction of the price. About 7-8 years ago, I bought the MAC 150 Large Powder Brush for $40 (or was it $50, I don’t remember). Here we have the most expensive Sigma brush for $19. Quite a difference eh?

Quality wise, they are really good for what you’re paying for. They are really soft and feel very nice on the face. Depending on the type of brush, they do come in natural and synthetic bristles. I actually prefer the Sigma brushes because I think they are slightly smaller than MAC brushes, which is great considering I have a small face. For anyone who wants a more in-depth review of the Sigma brushes, I am going to do another review on them later on. So stay tuned…

When you have good brushes, you need to take good care of them by cleaning them regularly. One of the important steps in brush cleaning is actually drying them properly. For this purpose, I found this nifty little gadget online called The Brush Guard. It is a flexible tube that is used to hold the bristles of the brush together when it dries. You insert the handle of the brush through one end of the tube and then pull it through to cover the hairs of the brush. In doing so, it keeps the hairs together so the brush retains its proper shape. Thus, it prolongs the life of the brush.

Before I physically saw the brush guards, I thought they were going to be of light foamy texture (like the protector thingys you sometimes see on pears at the supermarket). When I received my actual brush guards in the mail though, I was pleasantly surprised by how durable they were. They almost looked like they were made with fishing wire. That makes stretching them out to fit around the handle a little bit more difficult, but it definitely holds better. I really like the fact that the ends are glued or burned together so the “wires” don’t come apart easily.

The brush guards come in 4 different sizes. Shown above are the brush guards from the variety pack. From left to right, you have a large one (for powder/kabuki brushes), 2 medium ones (for foundation brushes), 2 small ones (for blush brushes), and 1 extra small one (for eye liner/shadow brushes). Besides the variety pack, you can also get packages with specific size brush guards. I picked up a package of each except for the large ones since I don’t own very many big brushes.

Price: Each package is US $5.50 + $2 shipping per order (to Canada).
Where to Buy: Online @ thebrushguard.com

One of my favourites from this batch of products is the Travalo, a mess-free and travel friendly atomizer. Instead of carrying a whole bottle of perfume/cologne with you everywhere you go, atomizers let you take out small amounts of perfumed liquid. Back in the day, I used to use the Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Refillable Travel Spray, or “the bullet” as I used to call it. Buying the refills got really expensive, which is why I’ve stopped using L’Eau d’Issey.

I’ve also tried the atomizers from Sephora, but they leaked and were difficult to fill without a mess. This is exactly why I love the Travalo. At the bottom of the pocket-sized spray bottle is a pumping gadget. All you need to do to fill the Travalo is take your fragrance bottle, remove the nozzle, insert the little tube into the bottom of the Travalo and start pumping.

On the side of the bottle is a contents window that lets you see how much fragrance you have left inside it. This is also useful for when you are filling it so you know how far along you are. The little container holds about 50 sprays which, for someone like me who uses it only on occasion, can last a few months. When you’re done you can easily refill it again.

Price: Mine were $12.99 each.
Where to Buy: I got mine at Shoppers Drug Mart. The ones with the beauty boutiques should have them on circular displays where impulse items are featured.

When it comes to coverage for under the eyes, Yves Saint Laurent’s Touche Éclat is by far one of the best, most popular and highly reviewed products. But at close to $50 a pop, concealing those under-eye dark circles can get very expensive so I tend to reserve mine for special occasions. For regular daily use, the Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Double Face Perfector is a very good alternative. It’s the cheapest concealer I’ve used, but it’s also one of the best. Its fluid-like texture makes it easy to blend into the skin without making it look cakey, while providing good coverage at the same time.

Price: Anywhere from $9.99 to $14.99, depending on where you buy it from.
Where to Buy: Shoppers Drug Mart, Rex-all, Wal-mart or any supermarket that sells make-up.

In the last 8 months or so, I’ve developed quite the obsession for lipsticks and have tried a plethora of them. I have found that certain brands and colours work better for me. Tried and tested, here are my top 3 favourite drugstore lipsticks:

Rimmel Lasting Finish Intense Wear Lipstick in Airy Fairy ($4 – $7)
A lovely pinky mauve that compliments my skintone. It glides on very smoothly and doesn’t dry out my lips. I like that I can wear this with or without lipgloss on top. The packaging is simple but nice in its dark purple tube. My only problem is the cap falls off easily, but it might just be the one I happen to have. I bought 3 backups of this one so we’ll see what happens when I get to them.

Maybelline Moisture Extreme Lipstick in Sugar Plum Ice ($4 – $7)
This is by far my most used lipstick. As the name suggests, it is extremely moisturizing. Although it is fairly close to my natural lip colour, it provides a very nice glossy finish which is great because I don’t have to bother with a lipgloss on top of it. It goes with almost anything and I pretty much wear it everywhere.

Revlon ColorBurst™ Lipstick in Soft Nude ($7.99 – $11.99)
This is one of the best nude lipsticks I’ve found for my skin tone. I love it for its creamy formula because it doesn’t dry out my lips. I like to wear one layer of it with a peachy pink lip gloss on top. Since it is quite pigmented, one layer is enough for me. Overdoing it with a nude lipstick like this one will make you look ill. I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE the matte black packaging with the quilted detailing on every other side of the lipstick. It’s so chic! I wish every lipstick came like this.

Where to Buy: All 3 of these brands can be purchased at Shoppers Drug Mart, Rex-all, Wal-mart or any supermarket that sells make-up.

First of all, I’m not a fan of the packaging of this lipstick. Don’t like the wild animal print and I’m not crazy about the gold casing with the florescent pink. It’s also light in weight compared to all my other lipsticks so it takes a bit of getting used to. Now besides all that, the Victoria’s Secret Love Me Wild Limited Edition Lipstick in Instinct is a great lipstick.

It is possibly the creamiest lipstick I’ve ever used, which means it feels really nice on the lips. The colour works for me too. I think of it as a combination of Airy Fairy and Sugar Plum Ice. It’s not super pigmented, but it does give a bit of a frosty finish.

The only real downside to this lipstick is the price. At $18, it is 50 cents more expensive than a MAC lipstick. For me, it’s easier to justify paying for a MAC lipstick than one from VS at that price. However, I did use my $10 gift card for mine so I only paid $8 instead. (I did go back later with a 2nd $10 gift card to buy a backup of this lipstick.)

Where to Buy: Victoria’s Secret