You guys know the drill by now - every so often I'll do a round up of products that I've picked up recently and give you my thoughts on what I've tried so far. I've got a few makeup bits in here, as well as some skincare and a few body and hair products too. I've even included a section at the end going through a couple of products that didn't work out for me and that I ended up returning.
Boring backstory: Shoppers Drug Mart have recently changed their rewards program, so I wanted to redeem all my points just in case the new system wasn’t as good. I’d always planned to use my points to pick up some Pixi skincare, but when the time came I didn’t really need any more skincare, and I had enough points to treat myself to something a bit more frivolous. Because I’m more focused on Sephora, I’d forgotten that Shoppers even stocks high end brands until I was looking at what to redeem my points for and realised I had far more options than I thought.
In the end, I chose the Dior Diorskin Nude Air Luminiser (AU) and Stila’s Kitten Eyeshadow (AU). I’d been looking at the Dior and Burberry highlighters for ages and always half-wanted one, but knew that I was probably not going to spend that kind of money on a highlighter since I’m not super into them. But when I realised I’d be able to redeem my points and get my hands on one for free, I was over the moon! The Dior highlighters are one of the most beautiful makeup items I’ve ever seen, both in terms of the product itself and the solid silver packaging. I picked up the shade Nude Glow and it leaves the softest, loveliest creamy glow on the skin that, in my opinion, looks really natural and skin-like. While I definitely wouldn’t call it dramatic or intense, I do still think it gives a noticeable glow which is the perfect sweet spot for me in the world of highlighters.
As for Kitten, I feel like this shade has been hyped up since basically the beginning of beauty blogging, and as far as I’m aware Stila discontinued their entire single shadow line except for this shade because of how popular it is. When I do my eye makeup I’ll typically use a range of matte shades in the crease, and more often than not I’ll use a light, shimmery champagne shade just like this on the lid. I don’t really buy single shadows at all these days (that aren’t going to end up in a palette like those from MAC), but if I’m going to invest in a single shadow it’s going to be a shade like this because I know I’ll actually reach for it. Although it’s more powdery than I was expecting, it really is a perfect champagne shade, and one that I can pair with any of my matte palettes for an everyday look, so I’m really glad to finally own this since it’s such a cult classic.
Speaking of MAC eyeshadows, during the boxing day sales (I know that was so long ago now) MAC had 25% off everything, so I picked up a few shades to add to my palette since I had been meaning to do that for ages. I bought Brulee (which is hidden up in the top corner of the palette - see below) because I always like to set down my eyeshadow primer with a shade that’s similar to my skin tone so it made sense to have one in this palette, as well as Saddle, Texture, Brown Script and Swiss Chocolate, all of which are varying shades of warm brown (in the bottom row along with Soft Brown which I already owned). All I can say is these shades are absolutely beautiful, I love wearing them and they’ve reignited my love for my MAC palette all over again. There really is something to be said for choosing your own eyeshadows and being able to arrange them in a palette in any way you like, and even though MAC single shadows don’t get talked about anywhere near as much as they used to, this palette still 100% has a place in my collection, and especially with these new additions it’s one of my all-time favourites.
Sephora recently started stocking a few products from The Ordinary, so after seeing Tasha (who also has oily skin) talk about how much she loves their High Adherence Silicone Primer (AU) I figured I didn’t have anything to lose, especially since it’s only around the $5 mark. I mentioned recently that I got the Hylamide HA Blur Primer (AU) as part of Black Friday set and I actually really like it, so I wanted to see if there was much difference between the two of these.
They feel quite similar to the touch, but one look at the ingredients will tell you that they’re definitely formulated differently (as opposed to being the same product in different packaging). Although still largely based on silicones, the Hylamide product also contains hyaluronic acid and water, making this, in theory, a hydrating, blurring, pore-filling primer. My typical experience with siliconey, pore-filling primers hasn’t been great - either they don’t do anything to help control oil, or if they do, typically they’re so drying they suck the life out of my foundation and make it look super cakey, so I’ve never found one with this kind of texture that I actually like until now.
I enjoy both of these products, and although I haven’t done rigorous testing to really figure out the differences in how they perform, my initial thoughts are that if you have normal to dry skin and want something that smooths over the skin and fills in pores without making you look cakey, then you might really like the Hylamide HA Blur. I really like it mixed in with the Mecca Lit From Within Primer and although it doesn’t make my makeup mind-blowingly long-lasting, it’s been a great everyday combo for me. If you have oily skin, however, I don’t think it’s necessarily worth spending the extra cash as I don’t think the Hylamide one helps with oil control any better than the one from the Ordinary. But so far both of these perform well for me, don’t make my makeup look horrible and cakey, and for $5 I’m happy to have the Ordinary one in my stash for everyday use.
I also got two adorable mini lip balms as freebies from Sephora – the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask (AU) which I’d heard really good things about, and the Aerin Rose Lip Conditioner (AU), which sounded delightful. The Laneige one has a slightly fruity scent and a fairly standard, slightly thick balm texture. There’s nothing about this that really makes it seem mask-like as opposed to just being a lip balm, but it’s a really cute colour, applies clear and glossy on the lips and I find it to be nicely hydrating. I haven’t heard anyone talk about the Aerin one, and their (beautifully packaged) line is mostly made up of fragrance and bodycare, but lip balm isn’t a hard product to get right and I love things that are rose scented so I wanted to give it a try. It really reminds me of By Terry’s (terribly expensive) Baum de Rose, which I have never been able to justify buying. The smell is very similar, but it has a texture that’s a lot like the Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask. My sample tube is absolutely tiny, but I’ve used it quite a few times already and it’s still going strong, and it’s a lovely little product. The last makeup item is a mini of the Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara (AU). I’ve had a mini of this in the past a few years ago, and although it tended to flake a little on my face by the end of the day, I still think it did great things for my lashes so I was happy to pick this up again since it was a 100 point perk.
The only skincare product I wanted to restock is my retinoind - I’m coming to the end of my bottle of Sunday Riley’s Luna (AU), and after spotting it on Sephora I thought I’d pick up The Ordinary’s Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion (AU) since I’ve heard so much about it. I’ve generally had fairly good experiences with products from The Ordinary, and I’ve heard some people say they love this product while others have had a reaction to it, so I wanted to try it out for myself. I haven’t actually opened it just yet but it won’t be too long before I give it a shot and I’m very interested to see what kind of results I get from it.
The Hylamide High-Efficiency Face Cleaner (AU) came in that Black Friday set I mentioned earlier, and based on the name and appearance of the product, I wrongly assumed this was a micellar water! I was chatting with a friend at work about skincare and when she told me she was using Dr. Bronner’s on her face I strongly urged her to go to a Deciem store, and someone who worked there recommended this to her. So a few days later she told me she’d bought a blue cleanser and, knowing I had this in my backups stash, when I got home I pulled it out to take a second look. Turns out it’s basically an oil cleanser! In the evenings I can put it on my dry face, massage it around to break down my makeup and then remove it with warm water and a cloth, and all my makeup is gone! I second cleanse anyway because that’s just what I do, but this totally took me by surprise because it wasn’t what I thought it was at all. So if you’re looking for an oil cleanser for your makeup removing step, this one will definitely do the job and I’m a fan!
The rest of the skincare products I’ve acquired recently have all been freebies from Sephora – have I ever mentioned how much I fkn love that Sephora does this? I swear North America has it so much better than the rest of the world when it comes to beauty samples, and you’d better believe I’m taking FULL advantage of it now that I live here. I haven’t tried everything just yet as I typically like to finish up products before opening new ones so I don’t end up with everything I own on rotation all at once, so if anything blows me away I’ll be sure to report back.
One product I tried out on a recent weekend away is the REN Ready Steady Glow AHA Tonic (not available AU yet). As soon as I saw it launch it caught my eye because I love a good acid toner, but this one is different because it’s focused on lactic acid rather than glycolic which tends to be more commonly used in the skincare world. At this stage I can’t say I’ve used it enough to notice any difference between this and several other toners I’ve tried, but if your skin doesn’t play nicely with glycolic acid then this could be the toner for you. However, it does contain a bunch of citrus fruit essential oils so if your skin is sensitive to those then I'd avoid it. Typically lactic acid is less likely to cause irritation because the molecules are larger, so they penetrate the skin more slowly than glycolic, and it also tends to be more hydrating/plumping on the skin. At $42 I initially thought it was priced a bit steeply, but considering you get 250ml it’s in the same range as a full-size bottle of Pixi’s Glow Tonic ($38 in Canada, also 250ml) and it’s a lot cheaper ml for ml than the Glossier Solution ($29 for 130ml).
The other new product I’ve used is the Fresh Rose Face Mask (AU) which has been super hyped up over the years, so I was pretty excited to finally try it out. For me this mask definitely falls under the category of “princess products” i.e. overpriced but it’s super pretty and/or luxurious so you want it anyway, aka it makes you feel like a bougie ass bitch. Texturally, this is a gel mask with rose petals suspended in it, and they claim it hydrates and tones the skin using rosewater, cucumber extract, aloe vera and some mystery algae that I don’t particularly have much faith in. It’s hydrating enough for me, but if you have dry skin I think there would be better options out there for you. I’ve also mentioned before that I prefer hydrating masks that I can just apply and leave on like a super-charged moisturiser, but this is one you have to wash off. It actually dries down on your face and forms a bit of a film which is slightly annoying to wash off, but it’s super pretty and smells like roses, so ya know. I probably wouldn’t spend the money on a full size jar (I prefer the Glossier Moisturising Moon Mask) but I am enjoying my sample and will use it up.
The last two products are ones I haven’t tried yet – the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask (AU) and the Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream (not available AU yet). Along with the lip mask, I feel like I’ve been hearing about the Laneige face mask for years, and it’s not something you have to wash off so it ticks that box for me already. As for the Drunk Elephant moisturiser, I consider peptides to be a “nice to have” group of skincare ingredients, so it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have them in your moisturiser, provided it comes in light and air-tight packaging, which this thankfully does. I’m currently using a mini of the Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream and I really enjoy it, so if that’s anything to go by hopefully I’ll like Protini just as much!
Hair & Body
I was just excited as every other blogger when I saw that L’Occitane had teamed up with Rifle Paper Co. to release a limited edition collection! After thoroughly inspecting every item on Sephora's website I decided on a set with the makeup bag, as well as a handful of mini products (mostly for the body) that I know I’ll actually use. I think different countries have different sets available, as I know some UK-based people have been able to get their hands on things that aren’t available in Canada, but I love my little makeup bag and it now lives in my handbag and carries all my essential bits & pieces.
In that set was a very, very small mini of their Shea Butter Foot Cream (AU), and if you’ve ever heard my complaints about foot creams before, I generally find the texture of them gross and I want something that doesn’t feel super heavy when I apply it. I tested the L’Occitane one on the back of my hand and decided to order the full size as I’m coming to the end of the one I’m using now. It has 4.7 stars with over 300 reviews on Sephora, so once I crack it open I’ll let you know if I’ve found the one!
The last couple of products were more minis from Sephora, but this time they’re hair products. I haven’t used them just yet, but I got adorable little bottles of the Verb Hydrating Shampoo (AU) and Conditioner (AU) as well as a mini of the Ouai Hair Oil (AU) which I’ll try out once I finish up what I’m using now.
As well as new products I’ve been enjoying recently, I wanted to talk about two products that I bought and actually ended up returning because I think “negative” reviews can be just as helpful, if not even more helpful than positive ones. The first product I bought and returned was the Drunk Elephant Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser (AU) – they claim it’s good for makeup removal, and since I was coming to the end of my much loved Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm I thought I’d try something new. Based on the “jelly” description I was hoping for something along the lines of the Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel, or the Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser, both of which are favourites of mine. They have a really modern “jelly” texture that’s more balmy than anything else, and it melts rather than foams. However what I got was a traditional liquidy-gel texture that slightly foams up on the skin, and it stung my eyes and left my face feeling a little tight afterwards. Frankly, I used it one and that was enough, I put it back in the box. It’s not that it’s absolutely awful, it’s just not what I like to use so I knew I would rather repurchase the Clinique or try something else than stick with this. So for now I'm using the Hylamide one I mentioned earlier and am keeping my eye out for something else to try next.
The second thing I’ve returned is the Fenty Beauty Invisimatte Blotting Powder, and actually, there’s nothing wrong with this powder. It works just as well as my favourite oil-controlling powders and it’s really lightweight and doesn’t look at all obvious on the skin, all of which are important factors for me. However, at about $45 all up it wasn’t actively better than my drugstore favourites that are all more affordable, so I didn’t really feel the need to pay this much for a powder when I wasn’t really in need of another one in the first place. I wanted to try it because I’d heard it was amazing for oil control, and while it’s as good as anything else I’ve tried and loved, it doesn’t outperform them, so for me it wasn’t worth the extra money. In saying that, if you’re oily and have a deeper skin tone and have had trouble finding a translucent powder that doesn’t leave any colour behind then I’d definitely suggest taking a look at this one because that would probably make it worth paying more for.