Product Prep: NARS Velvet Matte Lip Glide – Stripped

As one of the most unique formulas of lip products on the market, after several times of sampling it, I finally bit the bullet and bought it. Since then, it has been one of my staple muted nude shades to wear for occasions I want as little colour on my lips without washing out the rest of the life out of my face.

The Mark

Usability – 5(5):

  • The formula is lightweight and non-sticky, which is a huge bonus.
  • Buildable pigment without being watery.
  • Works well on top of other products such as liners and matte lipsticks.

Durability – 4(5):

  • Although, definitely not long-wearing, wears nicely without patches.
  • Does not dry out the lips after hours of wear.
  • Reapplying does result in excess product build-up.

Availability – 5(5): It’s hard living in Canada sometimes

  • The colour range is well-rounded with room to expand.
  • Sold at NARS retailers.

Pricing – 4(5): Completely worth the bit

  • A bit pricey, but little product is needed.
  • Compared to other liquid lipsticks, the amount is above average, so the price is more justifiable.
  • Would purchase again, but it is a little bit of an investment.

Final mark: 18(20) = 90% A-

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Product Prep: NARS Soft Matte Complete Concealer

This purchase was a long time coming for me. I almost avoided the product altogether because I just had a feeling I was going to love it, and I would be forever committed to a rather expensive concealer. Well, I do love it and I am forever committed to this concealer.

The Mark


Usability
– 5(5): Dry-skin friendly

  • Surprisingly super creamy, with a matte finish
  • Does not emphasize dry patches, pores, or fine lines
  • A little really does go a long way for covering spots, under-eyes, even larger sections
  • Is full-coverage from the first application, but so natural looking, it acts like second skin
  • Works with different foundations

Durability – 5(5): Whether set or not, it stays put

  • Does not require setting with powder, but does not look caked on under powder
  • Lasts all day without any oxidation or change in finish

Availability – 5(5): Easily available at Sephora and/any NARS retailers

  • NARS launched multiple shades in various tones, so the selection was easy

Pricing – 5(5): Investment, but worth it

  • Packaging is normal NARS, high quality
  • Such little product is needed to do the job that it is worth every penny

Final mark: 20(20) = 100% A 


Make-Up and its Wearers: The ugly truth about unsolicited commentary regarding women who wear noticeable make-up

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make·up

ˈmākˌəp/
noun
  1. Sticky gunk, desperate girls pile on their faces to alter their outward appearance in order to compensate for their lack of self-worth.
  2. The devil of all things natural, wholesome, and God-made; it is an intentional deception.
  3. A ploy to sexualise women to being the objects of chauvinistic male desires.

Growing up, I was surrounded by two opposing views on wearing make-up. On one hand, I watched some of the women around me use make-up as a daily routine. It was not acceptable to walk out of the house without having your face on, your hair set, and your clothes ironed. The other side was of the strong opinion that “natural” is better; make-up is a form of deception and it undermines the concept of “God-given beauty.”As a lover of aesthetic and beauty, I dove into cosmetics as soon as I could possibly get my hands on a product, whether allowed or denied. It was a topic of many arguments and a source of tension during my adolescence. As with so many issues, if pushed onto people, the more heels are dug in and the less effective communication actually takes place.

Opening this post, I have contrived a few underlying, social definitions of make-up, which I have faced throughout the years. I want to discuss each of these mentalities a bit further to discover what it is that people are opposing or promoting. I want to start this off with a little disclaimer. Firstly, this is not a discussion as to whether or not someone should wear make-up, nor is it how much make-up they should wear. It is merely to discuss the root of these definitions. Secondly, I am not an expert on the topic of psychology, nor do I want to infringe on parental judgement; meaning, if you are a parent and you have your rules about make-up for your children, that is your prerogative and not what this post is about. Thirdly, this post is about women and the sexism/objectification they face. If you are a man who wears make-up, I applaud you, but I want to keep this about women, since I am a woman who has experienced the following mentalities and cannot speak for men.

Expanding on the first given definition that a woman who wears a noticeable amount of make-up is simply seeking attention and affirmation to compensate for her own low self-worth is deeply concerning. This is not to say there are not women who do this. Same is true for anyone; we all have areas we lack for which we compensate. However, to evaluate a woman solely based on the amount of product on her face in this light, is extremely presumptuous, not to mention a grossly inaccurate measurement style. My question to people who think in this manner is, “what is the ratio of make-up amount to self-esteem?” The answer is, there is none.

The second given definition of make-up is that it is “unnatural” and thereby, it discourages a woman to embrace herself without it. An interesting discussion point, brought up by a friend of mine and co-author of this blog, is the idea that women should love themselves without make-up. However, even that statement by itself still emphasises the outward beauty notion, which nullifies the point that is merely frivolous and insignificant. Although, I agree that women should love themselves beyond their appearance, not putting effort into how one looks can be just as shallow as applying make-up. On the contrary, the time and energy spent on looking a certain way can also be a testimony to our deeper identities. Loving oneself is a mentality which only that person can define for oneself. If taking a relaxing bath is enjoyable to a person and gives them a sense of inner peace, it is not up to their neighbour to say it is not fulfilling to said person.

A common subcategory of this definition is that make-up is “deceptive”. What about purple eyeshadow is deceiving? I find this mentality not only insulting to the intelligence of people in general, since no one truly believes women are born with full winged eyeliner and purple eyeshadow, but it also plays into this idea that a woman is defined by her looks, and can perpetuate this poor evaluation style labelling her as “promiscuous” or “pure” in proportion to what she puts on her face. Is it deception when a woman who wears make-up is not overtly promiscuous? What about the ones who wear little to none; are they presenting an inaccurate portrait of virtue if they’re not actually virgins? This notion dangerously comes close to the same root as the one which blames women for being raped due to their clothing choices.

Thirdly is the view that make-up somehow affects men. It is interesting to look at this via commentary from heterosexual men who find it necessary to label a girl wearing make-up as one who is seeking their attention/approval. The idea that women are automatically more worldly, sexual, and/or insecure because of the amount of product on her face is ridiculous. I find this a common occurrence in my own experience, and I have received remarks concerning this. It usually takes the form of a backhanded compliment to say I am prettier without the make-up, or it comes from a sexual view as if I was aiming to please. Quite frankly, both mentalities are sexist and objectifying. It is sexist because these men would not tell another man, “dude, the beard makes you look desperate.” It comes from a place where a woman is there to look the look and walk the walk for a man’s advantages, and he has the obligation to define and address this.

Newsflash, the world does not always revolve around men, least of all does my lip colour.

So what is it about women wearing make-up that incites unsolicited judgement on her character? In my humble opinion, people are constantly striving to understand the world around us, to decipher one another as a means to understand ourselves. When we see someone who exerts a certain style and/or attitude, we immediately make evaluations about them. This is both natural and neutral. However, when it crosses the boundaries of our own personal thoughts into words to try to change someone else’s choices, that can be a problem, especially when it is unsolicited. There is a fine line between giving someone constructive criticism to help them on their journey to becoming happier and healthier people, and merely manipulating them to fit into our ideals.

Whether a woman wears make-up or not, in whatever capacity, it is a choice of her own discretion. She has the right and the privilege to do so without scrutiny. If it seems she is “trying too hard to impress,” that still is her prerogative. As a lover of make-up, it is my suit I wear every day for the the business to which I attend, much like a uniform worn for a job. It is the face I choose to show the world. It is the same idea that we put our best foot forward, and everyone is more than their looks. The same is true for those who do not wear make-up; their identity is far deeper than the clothes they wear, the hair they sport, or the make-up they choose not to wear.

In conclusion, to wear or not to wear make-up is up to the individual, and it comes down to personal reason and method. I want to encourage this notion I have said before, dig deeper; try not to look at what someone is, but actually see them for who they are beyond the box of ideals into which you want them to fit. It is another way to break the mentality of objectifying people.  By humanising them, you too, will be more human.

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Dialogue: Both Literal & Hypothetical

“Wow, your eyeliner is so thick, you can barely see your beautiful eyes.”

  • Thank you for your opinion. I’ll file it in the section of passive-aggressive judgements on my life decisions.

“Why do you wear so much make-up? You’re so pretty without. You don’t need to feel insecure.”

  • No comment because I’m too insecure to waste my breath.

“You don’t need to try so hard. If a guy likes you for you, the make-up doesn’t matter.”

  • If it doesn’t matter, then why is this even a conversation?

“Just because everyone else is…”

  • Stop. Just stop.

“I prefer natural girls, like next-door neighbour girls.”

  • That’s wonderful, I’m sure there is a girl next-door to whom you can give your unsolicited preferences.

“Make-up is so expensive and bad for your skin anyway.”

  • Let’s not point fingers at one another for how we spend our money. I am sure all of us have “unhealthy” guilty pleasures that drain our banks from time to time.

“You take way too long in the mirror; you could be doing so many better things.”

  • I also could be doing worse things like drinking late last night because I thought I’d only need 15 minutes to get ready… oh wait, people actually do this.

“Careful, you don’t want to give men the wrong impression.”

  • Are we going to come back to the notion that men rape women because of what they wear or put on their face?

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Beauty Sponge Breakdown: Choosing the best sponge and maintaining, sanitising, and prolonging it from A-Z

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We all know them, those various squishy tools in various shapes, sizes, and colours used with a variety of different products to achieve that flawless face. While they are extremely diverse and useful, due to their porous nature, sponges are highly susceptible to hosting bacteria, not friendly to our faces. With use, these sponges can become oddly deformed and product can build up product within their cores which prevent proper inflation when fully dampened. I have had numerous occasions where my perfectly good sponge no longer puffs up to its maximum size, but rather resembles dough. It seems to stick together from the centre, preventing the sponge shape to bounce back after squeezing. So here are my tips to caring for these beauty staples, save some money, and prolong the life of your sponge. In addition, these tips will also sanitise your sponges.

Sponge Specifics

  • Measure the size of the sponge while it’s completely dry to the size it becomes after being soaked rung; I generally find if it increases approximately twice the size (give or take a bit), it is a good indicator as to how bouncy it will be on the skin.
  • Examine the texture of its surface; the more porous it is, the more product it will absorb, resulting in potentially more product buildup.
  • Evaluate its shape for the areas on the face where the sponge will need to apply product. If the under-eye area is difficult to reach, consider a sponge with a flat side or a slimmer edge. Another option is to cut your favourite sponge to fit your needs. Make sure your scissors are sharp, and your grip is firm.
  • Experiment your sponge with different products and different methods. Sometimes products apply more smoothly by spreading onto the face before using the sponge while others work well applied using the sponge itself. Cream, liquid, and even powder react differently in various situations.
  • Wash your sponge after every use. It is a hassle, but it is worth it because the havoc wreaked on your skin is so much more work to maintain than to prevent.
  • Multiply your supply. After this post, you will know how to maintain and prolong the life of your sponge, so do not be afraid to purchase multiple sponges. This makes using a clean sponge every time much easier and does not add to the cleaning process that much more.

Now that we have covered the details of the tool itself, let’s get into the care. Since I have 10 sponges in my arsenal at the moment, I wash them all once a week. I prefer certain sponges more than others, so I keep a rotation of 5-7 sponges in my daily use. This proves to be so much more of an ease, and I am not spending so much time cleaning one every time I want to use it.

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Sanitising & Reviving

Soap: It is necessary to use a strong enough soap to cut through the tough ingredients found in cosmetics.

  • Liquid dish soap is a great option for this job. Since it is specifically designed to cut through grease and oil, it is tough enough to sanitise the sponge.
  • Solid laundry soap works well because it is super convenient to use. It also helps to eviscerate those tough stain spots; rub the offending portion of the sponge directly into the soap. Massage the suds into the spot thoroughly with your fingers. As with a half-empty tube of toothpaste, squeeze the sponge from the bottom up, forcing the soap with the unwanted product out.
  • Facial cleanser, specifically designed for make-up removal, can work well. This is a bit more experimental because facial cleansers come in varying formulas suited for different results.
  • Vinegar, although it stinks, is one of the best methods to completely eradicate all residual product. Best used as a soak and/or rinse.

Heat: It may go without saying, but using hot water is a must for breaking down residual product for the soap to address, and kill off the bacteria.

  • If the water is too hot to handle on your bare hands, using cleaning gloves can protect your skin during this task.
  • Vigorous massaging also helps conduct heat and work the soap and product through the sponge. Avoid using your nails and squeezing too much; it is important to really allow the soap to buildup inside the core.
  • Allowing the sponge to sit in boiling water really kills those germs and will help the sponge to expand properly. This is not needed for every sponge wash, but rather occasionally.

Sunshine: An age-old trick to use on any sponge, household and beauty.

  • Once completely cleansed, rinsed, and wrung, air dry the sponge in a sunny window. This will dry the sponge more quickly and kill the bacteria.
  • An extra bonus is that this helps reduce any leftover odours from vinegar or soap.

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Product Prep: MAC Mineralized Skinfinish – Lightscapade

 

I bought this product in hopes of finding a white gold highlighter that could be sheered out for subtlety or built up for intensity. After some trial and error, I finally mastered the method which works best for me. I prefer using this powder as a luminous setting product for my under-eye region.  It brightens and illuminates the area sufficiently.

The Mark

Usability – 4(5): Less is more

  • Great colour with a nice luminous finish.
  • Does not build well to a highlighter and is a bit powdery.
  • Blends well but is a dry formula so it does need a very well-moisturized base; if used well, does perform beautifully.

Durability – 3.5(5): Cracks and creases on dry skin

  • On super dry days, I skip this product because it does crease if too much is applied.
  • For normal to hot days, it sets my under-eye concealer well and stays put all day.

Availability – 5(5): The Skinfinish line comes in multiple shades and is easily found at MAC retailers

  • The shade and tone is really nice for light to fair skin colours; has a really nice blend of tones give a very bright effect.
  • This is a permanent product in MAC.

Pricing – 5(5): Justifiable price

  • The packaging is better than the average MAC product; its sturdy, and well-made.
  • The formula is not my ideal,  but there is ample amount of product to justify the price.
  • I probably would buy this product again due to the results gained after figuring out what works best.

Final mark: 17.5(20) = 87.5% B+ 


The Line Up: The best of St. Ives

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Founded in 1955, St. Ives has been providing skincare products for the public at great price points. So here are my favourites from the line which I have consistently repurchased for my skincare and body care routine.

Smooth & Nourished – Oatmeal Scrub + Mask

  • This is the best product from the line in my opinion.
  • As a scrub, the beads are too large and coarse for great results, but as a mask, it is very soothing. It acts as a great moisture treatment a couple of times a week.
  • The oatmeal calms the skin and leaves it feeling soft and replenished.

Even & Bright – Pink Lemon & Mandarin Orange Scrub

  • This is much more effective than their Apricot scrub.
  • The beads are small and the amount of them allows for a good exfoliant.
  • If you have sensitive skin, I recommend using this on just the body.
  • Works great for removing self-tanner.

Refresh & Revive Body Lotion – Pear Nectar & Soy

  • As a lightweight body lotion, this leaves the skin feeling smooth and fresh.
  • Is definitely not enough for super dry skin, but as a supplement for days shaving and/or exfoliating is not needed, it is a nice moisturizer.
  • I prefer to use this as a daily lotion on my arms and legs to keep them smooth.
  • This particular scent is super wonderful without being overpowering.

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Make-Up Mixologist: DIY Skin Care Recipes

In continuation with my Make-Up Mixologist series, I wanted to discuss the art of DIY skin care. Not only is this concept deeply satisfying on a creative level, it is extremely useful for targeting specific results. For those who have sensitive or problematic skin, it helps to know the ingredients within the products used. Not only is it beneficial to customize some of those products to act as double-duty items, it is also extremely cost efficient. So here are a few of my favourite recipes used on a daily basis and how I prefer to use them.

General Tips

Base

  • Using distilled water will allow the ingredients to last longer, preventing bacteria buildup.
  • It is important to use non-astringent products such as rosewater and/or cucumber water will dilute more powerful ingredients and avoid creating a mixture too overwhelming/powerful for the skin.
  • Diluted apple cider vinegar works wonderfully for a toner base for those with oily skin or areas which tend to break out.

Anti-Bacterial

  • Tea tree oil is my favourite ingredient to mix into skin care to help keep my hormonal acne under control. Although it is included in my routine quite frequently, the level of dilution is just enough to make it effective while keeping it safe to use.
  • Eucalyptus oil is another great natural ingredient that can help prevent and treat breakouts.
  • Less is more for these ingredients, so start small and add more later.

Close & Shake it Up

  • Due to the different chemical weights of the different ingredients, it is important to shake your products before use.
  • Close your eyes and keep away from the eye area when applying.

The Recipes

Facial Oil: I love using this particular mixture for nourishing the skin and moisturising it. It keeps my skin supple and makes a wonderful massage product. The tea tree oil acts as a natural disinfectant which helps clean, heal, and unclog pores of bacteria.

  • 3 tbsp. Almond Oil/Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp. Argan Oil
  • 1 tsp. Vitamin E Oil
  • 1 tsp. Black Castor Oil
  • 3 gtt. Tea Tree Oil
  • 2 gtt. Peppermint Essential Oil

Toner: Although I really have never been one for using toner, I enjoy the refreshing sensation of rosewater. It helps soothe irritated skin whilst cleansing bacteria. My preferred method of use is to spray all over the face and wipe the excess off with a cotton round.

  • 6 tbsp. Concentrated Rosewater
  • 2 gtt. Tea Tree Oil

Setting Spray: This is one of my favourite steps in my routine to melt the powder products into the skin. The MAC Prep + Prime + Fix + travel bottle makes a wonderful spritzer. The tea tree oil keeps the dirt at bay for areas sensitive to breakouts, while the peppermint essential oil gives such a wonderful cooling sensation.

  • 1 tbsp. Glycerin
  • 1 tbsp. Distilled Water/Concentrated Rosewater
  • 2 gtt. Tea Tree Oil
  • 4 gtt. Peppermint Essential Oil

*gtt. is the abbreviation for drops

May your mixing be fruitful and your skin be wonderful! For more on my mixologist series, check out Make-Up Mixologist: Mashing Foundations and Make-Up Mixologist: The Magic of Glycerin.