Hauliday Fun: MAC Cosmetics Marge’s Extra Ingredients Quad

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I have a confession to make. This might seem odd for someone that obsesses about makeup as much as I do, but I have never owned a single item from any of the limited edition collections from MAC. I have many things from the permansimpsons referencesent line, but the limited edition collections have never captured my attention strongly enough to make me pull out my Visa card….that is, until The Simpsons collection came out this past fall. I am a certifiable Simpsons fanatic. I started watching it when I was a kid and never stopped. I reference the show on a near daily basis. I even wrote my Master’s thesis on The Simpsons.

Want to hear another bizarre confession? I didn’t buy anything from the collection when it came out!!! What is wrong with me?! My two great loves, makeup and The Simpsons, united in a once-in-a-lifetime, never-to-be-seen-again collection, and I passed it up. Why? The timing of this collection really wasn’t great for me. It launched late-August/early-September, and I had just been on a major shopping bender in Vancouver and needed to start saving for Christmas. So, I let the collection pass me by and deeply regretted it.

Luckily for me the universe has a way of sorting these situations out. My Dad, who does most of his Christmas shopping on eBay, surprised me with this:

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A brand new, still-in-the-box eyeshadow quad from The Simpsons collection! I don’t have any swatch photos to post, because I’ve decided to keep this one pristine and add it to my Simpsons collection rather than my makeup collection. Even though the dark shade on the right (Vivacious Vacuum Cleaner Bag) looks divine, I can’t bear to mess up the surface and ruin the imprinted design. I love that they made Marge the focus of the collection since she’s usually overshadowed by the other characters.

Thanks Mom and Dad!

Hauliday Fun: Ciate Haute House Collection

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Another Christmas present from my sister: The Ciate London Haute House Collection. Ciate always does the cutest gift sets featuring their Mini Paint Pots. This set boasts a “wet-look high-shine gloss colour in a newly formulated Patent Leather finish.” You get four shades plus a silicone top coat that really boosts the glossy shine.

ciatehautehouseIt was the shade offering that really drew me to this set; I think the colours are effortless and classically chic. The shades from left to right are: Dare to Bare (Nude), Good to Be A Goddess (Navy), Silicone Top Coat, Can’t It Be Kinky (Black), and Mostly a Minx (Deep Red). I’m wearing Mostly a Minx in the pic below.

311214 005These polishes make good on their claims. They really do shine like patent leather. They’re also very fast-drying. I applied two coats of polish plus the silicone top coat, and my nails went from wet to un-dentable in less than an hour. Ciate claims that these polishes are perfect for a date-night mani, and I would agree!

Hauliday Fun: Laura Mercier Mini Caviar Stick Eye Colour Quartet

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Christmas came and went in a blink this year, so I’m trying to extend the fun as long as I can by blogging about the beauty goodies I received this year. I was royally spoiled with some really lovely and luxurious stuff.

First up is the Mini Caviar Stick Eye Colour Quartet from Laura Mercier. I had never tried the Caviar Sticks before but have always been curious about them, and I find gift sets that contain a sampling of minis are a great way to try out a new product.

LM Caviar QuartetThis set contains four gorgeous and very wearable shades. The swatches from left to right are: Rosegold, Amethyst, Moonlight and Cocoa.

I am in love! These have a creamy texture and a smooth finish that is rare among eyeshadow sticks. I’ve tried all four shades and found that they glide on and blend out without looking the least bit grainy or patchy. I was also pleased to discover that you have ample time to blend before they set, which is also a rare quality for stick shadows. Once they do set, though, they aren’t going anywhere. They’re budge-proof. I had to bust out the eye makeup remover just to get the swatches off.

Any of these shades can be worn alone or as a base for powder shadows, but I think they’re too pretty to cover up. My preference is to use them on their own for an easy one-and-done look. (Cocoa = the easiest brown smokey eye ever.)

Now, the bad news is this set was limited edition for the holidays and is no longer available, but the good news is that the shades in the set are not limited edition. They’re all part of the permanent line and are available at sephora.com or lauramercier.com

I have glimpsed the future and have seen myself purchasing Moonlight and Cocoa in full size…maybe Rosegold too.

Many thanks to my sister Nicole for this lovely gift!

Oily Skin 101: Cleansing (Part 2 of 4)

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This is the second installment in my series on caring for oily skin. If you haven’t already, you can read the first installment here.

The first major change in my skin care routine that led to significant improvement was changing my cleanser.

I will confess, I never used to be very fussy about cleansers. I also never imagined that cleanser could make such a huge difference to the health and condition of my skin. I’ve tried countless different cleansers over the years; most were some form of water soluble foaming facial wash. It wasn’t until about two years ago that I put two and two together and realized that cleanser was at least partly to blame for my clogged pores and breakouts. How can that be? It’s only on your skin for a brief moment. It’s meant to clean and purify. Breakouts are caused by things like makeup and heavy creams that stay on your skin for long periods of time….or so I thought.

How did I come to the realization that cleanser was causing problems? About two years ago, I stopped using it altogether. For about a year, I washed my face with nothing but warm tap water and a washcloth. I still used eye makeup remover, but only warm water on the rest of my face. As time went on, I started to notice fewer blocked pores and blemishes. It wasn’t a miracle cure, but there was definite improvement.

About six months ago, I started to worry that using only water might not be good enough. I just had a feeling that I was probably going to bed with traces of makeup left on my skin, and it ended up being a nagging feeling that I couldn’t shake. So I decided to buy a new cleanser. I went for a different type of cleanser though, one aimed at sensitive skin:

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On a whim, I picked up Marcelle‘s “Ultra Gentle Cleansing Gel” and gave it a try. I’ve been using this cleanser morning and night for about six months, and I love it! Although it’s called a gel, I’d describe it as a gel/cream hybrid. It’s light and glides over the skin like a gel, but it has a creaminess to it as well, and I find it very hydrating. I love how my skin feels after I use this. It feels clean and refreshed, but not dry and tight. Seriously, this is the only cleanser I have ever used that doesn’t leave me with that uncomfortable tightness. It removes excess oil and makeup, but it doesn’t strip your skin of all its natural moisture.

I think the key to this cleanser’s seemingly magical powers is that it does not foam. I’m now beginning to suspect that foaming cleansers are just too harsh. They strip the skin to the point that it freaks out and produces even more oil to compensate for the sudden drought. I am now a firm believer that cleanser should not make your skin feel tight. Tightness is a sign that your cleanser is too harsh and is probably exacerbating any skin issues you may have. In my case, the extra oil my skin was producing to protect itself lead to more blocked pores and breakouts.

And here’s the kicker. Nearly all of the cleansers that are marketed for oily skin, are the foaming variety that strip the skin and lead to a vicious cycle that ultimately makes oily skin even worse. If you have oily skin, ignore cleansers that say they’re for oily or acne-prone skin. Instead, look for ones that are meant for sensitive skin. Also, keep an eye out for sulfates. Sulfates are ingredients that are used to make cleansers foam. (Sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate are really common ones to watch out for.) Sulfates are bad news for oily skin. They’re just too harsh. I’ve also switched to a sulfate-free shampoo and have noticed improvement in the condition of my hair as well.

Since I switched my cleanser, I’ve seen a dramatic reduction in bumps and blemishes.  It’s still oily, of course, but at least now I can rest assured my cleanser isn’t making things worse.

 

Oily Skin 101: Introduction (Part 1 of 4)

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got-oily-skinThis post is an introduction to a series of skin care posts that focus on caring for oily skin. I’ve spent much of my adult life coping with an oily complexion and the frustrating problems that go along with it: excess shine, makeup that slides off, large pores prone to clogging, and breakouts. It’s only been within the last year that I feel like I’ve learned to effectively manage my oily skin, and there are three fundamental changes I’ve made to my skin care routine this year that have made a huge difference. I’ll be dedicating one post to each change in order to give each one the explanation and description that it deserves. My hope is that these posts will be useful to anyone else out there like me that is feeling frustrated by all the misleading information out there.

Before I talk about the specific techniques and products that have helped me, I want to point out a few things:

1) I am not skin care professional of any description. I’m just a beauty enthusiast, and everything I’ll be discussing in these posts is my own opinion based on my own experience and observations about my own skin.

2) Oily skin is not something that can be treated and controlled with topical products. Oily skin is caused by excessive secretions from the sebaceous glands, which are deep in the skin and are regulated by internal processes like hormonal fluctuations. Internal medications, like Accutane or contraceptive pills, can help control oil, but cosmetics that are applied topically cannot. All the primers, moisturizers, cleansers, foundations and powders that claim to control oil may be able to temporarily absorb or remove excess oil and diminish excess shine, but they cannot actually stop your skin from producing too much oil. Period. Don’t believe the lies.

3) Stop making perfection your goal. My skin is not perfect, and will probably never be perfect. There’s always going to be the odd bump and blemish. Such is life with oily skin. So back away from the magnifying mirror, stop picking at things that no one but you will ever notice, and focus instead on making your skin look its best. There are things you can do to greatly improve the overall appearance and condition of your skin, but aiming for perfection will set you up for a world of frustration.

4) The posts in this series are not geared towards anyone suffering with inflammatory acne. The biggest problem I have with my skin is that my pores get clogged by excess oil and dead skin cells, leaving my skin with a very bumpy, uneven texture (blackheads and whiteheads). I do get mild breakouts here and there, but it’s not a full blown case of acne. In other words, I don’t get a lot of inflamed pimples, cysts or nodules. If you suffer from a more severe form of inflammatory acne, check out the information here.

Bear these things in mind as you read through the rest of the posts in this series and hopefully, if your skin is similar to mine, you will find some relief and see some improvement.

Best of luck!