The Beauty Bargain | The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10%+ HA

After experiencing that beginning of winter skin freakout, I’ve been on a real skincare kick. After getting the dryness and irritation under control, I’ve really enjoyed layering different products that I have and the whole ritual of morning and evening skincare application – it’s been more than simply going through the motions for me. Recently, I’ve discovered a few products in my arsenal that I haven’t reviewed as of yet but want to share my thoughts on. The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% ($6.70 CDN/ 30 mLs) is one of these products.


For the sake of this post not being a few thousand words, i won’t get into the controversy over Deciem’s ownership and their ex-CEO – The Ordinary is one of the many brands under the Deciem umbrella. This product is a simple chemical exfoliant formula with some hydrating and soothing properties. It contains 10% of the alpha hydroxy acid, lactic acid to gently exfoliate the surface of the skin, help to unclog pores, smooth and hydrate the skin’s surface and decrease the look of imperfections and discolourations over time. I will emphasize that this won’t exfoliate the pore to the same degree as salicylic acid does so if clogged pores are your primary concern, I’d be more tempted to try salicylic as your chemical exfoliant of choice. It did do all of these things mentioned above in a gentle fashion because it’s formulated at the correct pH and does not contain irritants such as drying alcohols, or irritating plant extracts and essential oils. It performed well as a gentle alpha hydroxy acid exfoliant for me but I will note that I didn’t notice a real wow impact of using it compared to other products in the category upon first use. However, I may be biased because I continuously use acids in my regimen. It definitely helped to even out the texture of my skin and to keep my skin clear but I found this lactic-acid based exfoliant shined at drawing moisture back into my dehydrated skin. The formula does include 2% hyaluronic acid which is incredibly helpful as a humectant, especially in combination with lactic acid and glycerin. Another novel ingredient of note in the formula is the Tasmanian pepper berry that has research indicating that it has excellent anti-inflammatory activity and can function as an antioxidant. I believe that the addition of these soothing and hydrating ingredients play a part in how gentle the formula is whilst being effective.

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Lactic Acid, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Propanediol, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Tasmannia Lanceolata Fruit/Leaf Extract, Acacia Senegal Gum, Xanthan Gum, Isoceteth-20, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Ethylhexylglycerin, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol.

The acid is housed in a frosted glass bottle container with a dropper, which works well to dispense the gel-serum texture of the exfoliant. I suppose it’s slightly sticky in texture but most skin types will need to apply something over the top in order to seal the moisture into the skin (as it contains humectants) and consequently, the tackiness should not be an issue. The dropper works well for the fluid texture of the product and I don’t believe that this product contains anything that could be compromised by this packaging style. It feels lightweight and hydrating on the skin, quickly sinking in. If you’re interested in trying a water-binding acid exfoliant, I’d highly recommend trying this one. It’s not complicated and is effective and gentle at a very affordable price tag. I do find that I go through the bottle a little more quickly than some other acid exfoliants but it’s so affordable that I don’t care. It’s free of animal testing, I believe. I will note, however, that the formula isn’t as robust as some of the much more expensive exfoliants I also enjoy from Paula’s Choice.

Any thoughts?
Maggie, x

 

The Review | Paula’s Choice RESIST Advanced Smoothing Treatment

I didn’t realize that I enjoyed the Paula’s Choice RESIST Advanced Smoothing Treatment 10% AHA ($36 US/ 30 mLs) quite so much until I found myself repurchasing it at the Black Friday Sale. Unlike the discontinued Paula’s Choice RESIST Weekly Resurfacing Treatment 10% AHA, I don’t use it one night and instantly notice that my skin is so much smoother and brighter, and that my textural irregularities have been toned down notably. However, I do notice that this formula likely gets me to the same place whilst being even more gentle and having even a soothing action on my easily-angered skin with continued use. What I enjoy the most about the newer addition to Paula’s line is that it combines a gentle alpha hydroxy acid with enough salicylic acid (0.5%) to combat the clogged pores that I’m prone to around my chin and lower cheeks, whilst also being a skin-restoring serum. The most impressive part is that it does this without irritating my sensitive skin that I keep in check with prescription Differin and azelaic acid.

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This formula is different than most exfoliants on the market for two main reasons reasons: (1) It’s formulated without drying alcohol and irritants and is at the correct concentration and pH to be effective (2) It’s an effective mixture of the bog-standard glycolic acid and the larger molecule alpha hydroxy acids lactic acid, magic acid and tartaric acid. In more recent years, I’m happy to report that other effective gentle acids have come onto the market but few contain the restoring soothing ingredients that Paula’s do at her more reasonable price tag. I believe that this acid product’s brilliance is that it provides the potent 10% AHA concentration (that I can tell you is effective firsthand) but is gentler because it combines the slightly more gentler AHA’s along with the glycolic acid that features in most AHA exfoliants, along with skin repairing ingredients, antioxidants and anti-irritants. Now let’s segway into the ingredients in more depth:

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Butylene Glycol (hydration), Glycolic Acid (alpha hydroxy acid/exfoliant), Glycerin (hydration/skin replenishing), Lactic Acid (alpha hydroxy acid/exfoliant), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (texture enhancer), Malic Acid (alpha hydroxy acid/exfoliant), Tartaric Acid (alpha hydroxy acid/exfoliant), Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1 (skin-restoring), Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7 (skin-restoring), Ceramide NG (skin-replenishing), Salicylic Acid (beta hydroxy acid/exfoliant), Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract (skin-soothing), Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract (antioxidant), Avena Sativa (Oat) Bran Extract (skin-soothing), Punica Granatum Fruit Extract (antioxidant), Lycium Barbarum Fruit Extract (antioxidant), Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract (antioxidant), Sambucus Nigra Fruit Extract (antioxidant), Camellia Oleifera (Green Tea) Leaf Extract (antioxidant), Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract (antioxidant/skin-soothing), Peucedanum Graveolens (Dill) Extract (antioxidant), Allantoin (skin-soothing), Adenosine (skin-restoring), Hydrogenated Lecithin (skin-restoring), Bisabolol (skin-soothing), Polyquaternium-10 (texture enhancer), Xanthan Gum (thickener/emulsifier), Carbomer (texture enhancer), Polysorbate 20 (cleansing agent), Sodium Bicarbonate (pH adjuster), Sodium Hydroxide (pH adjuster), Aminomethyl Propanol (pH adjuster), Phenoxyethanol (preservative), Benzyl Alcohol (preservative).

As previously mentioned, the formula’s basis is the 10% concentration of water binding alpha-hydroxy acids along with 0.5% salicylic acid to help penetrate the pores and aid with treating congestion. As with all Paula’s Choice products, it does this without fragrance, drying alcohols and plant extracts that are known to cause irritant reactions. The alpha hydroxy acids work to bind water to the skin and smooth its texture and diminish the look of imperfections and any sort of discolouration. Glycerin helps to bind water to the skin and the peptides theoretically help to normalize skin cell activity and reinforce the skin’s barrier. The ceramides that the formula contains play a significant role in repairing the skin’s barrier, which is important for everyone’s skin health but is especially important when you have a tendency towards eczema and naturally have an impaired barrier. The formula also contains a bunch of antioxidants and anti-irritants but I’ll talk most about the ones that appear in higher concentrations and are the most notable. Licorice root extract is anti-inflammatory ingredient that also plays a role in treating hyperpigmentation. Sidenote: this extract also appears to act against acne causing bacteria. Chamomile is antioxidant that also has evidence of extra anti-inflammatory ability.

The texture of the product is a lightweight but not watery gel thats effectively dispensed in a dropper. The product is fluid enough that I believe that the packaging is probably the most effective style that it could be and is definitely practical and a bit more sophisticated than Paula’s Choice packaging of the past. The packaging improvement and inclusion of so many beneficial ingredients makes the middle of the road price tag worthwhile for me. I do note that Paula’s Choice products have increased in price in the last several years but I do believe that their formulas have become more sophisticated, as has their packaging as a result. Even though you get very little product, I don’t find you need much and I appreciate that it functions as a nice serum as well as an exfoliant. For those wondering, this product is not clearly stated as vegan – see the Paula’s Choice animal testing page for the full details – but it’s certainly cruelty free.

Any thoughts?
Maggie, x.

 

 

More Products I’ve Used Up

It’s been a minute since I’ve done one of these empties product review posts and let me tell you, I’ve accumulated quite the stash of products to talk about. Lucky (or possibly unluckily) for you, today, I was struck with the desire to ramble on about them.

 

Paula’s Choice RESIST Skin Restoring Moisturizer SPF 50 ($10 US/ 15 mLs)

Before trying this product, I would have told you that I was someone who’s skin quite simply could not tolerate non-mineral sunscreen on the face. Let me tell you, I was shocked to learn that unless I’ve majorly pissed my skin off, I can actually tolerate this one. I love the creamy moisturizing texture and I suspect that I love the plentiful antioxidants and anti-irritants in the formula that allow me to use it without any stinging or irritation. I was not expecting to love this SPF moisturizer so I went with the trial size but I plan on purchasing the full-sized version after I use up a SPF in my rotation currently.

Paula’s Choice RESIST Advanced Replenishing Toner ($24 US/ 118 mLs)

I had been kind of gung ho about toners, calling them needlessly irritating and kind of pointless. That was until I tried one of Paula’s Choice milky toners. This one is lovely and I’ve gone through multiple bottles of it. It’s essentially a soothing barrier-restoring serum in milky liquid form, loaded with fatty acids to help rebuild the acid mantle. It soothes the skin with the antioxidants and anti-irritants it contains. It’s amazing for calming and soothing dehydrated pissed off skin. I’ll be buying another.

Olay Miracle Boost Concentrate ($35 CDN/ 30 mLs)

Even though the marketing on this product was more than a little gimmicky, I did enjoy using this silicone-based brightening serum and found that it worked without irritating the skin. It left a subtle pearl on the skin, which was cosmetically brightening but it also contained a hefty dose of niacinamide and a vitamin c derivative (ascorbyl glucoside) which are proven brightening ingredients. It has enough niacinamide to provide barrier repair and to brighten discolouration and a cosmetically elegant milky texture. However, I think I will try out other serums of this type before I repurchased or whatnot.

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser ($15-18 CDN/ 355 mLs)

This is an amazing gentle and fragrance-free cleanser for drier and sensitive skin types. I always repurchase because it’s soothing on my skin, even in the mists of an eczema flare-up and provides enough cleansing (for me) and has ceramides and hyaluronic acid to offset the barrier disruption of putting water on the skin.

Indie Lee Rosehip Cleanser ($36-40 CDN/ 125 mLs)

Despite not being very much into that whole green beauty movement, I was tempted enough to try this vegan and natural cleanser. I had heard that it was calming and soothing with one of these new generation gelly textures and I did actually enjoy using it because it was refreshing on the skin, without being drying or irritating. It contains a potassium and coconut based cleaning agent that is slightly sudsy but remains quite gentle and the oils in the formula offset any kind of stripping activity. My gripe about this is that it contains quite a bit of fragrance and that it’s kind of spendy. Somehow I found myself buying their other offering though… Make of that what you will.

Dr Jart Water Replenishment Sheet Mask ($9 CDN/ 25g)

There’s no way around it; sheet masks such as this one are very expensive for what they are. However, this one might be the best I’ve tried for parched sensitized skin. It’s like a drink that my skin sucks up that remedies sick skin or a post-alcohol complexion. It contains soothing chamomile, along with water-binding glycerin, sodium hyaluronate and collagen. I’d repurchase again for a special occasion. I wish they’d leave out the witchhazel, however.

MAC Prep + Prime Fix + ($30 CDN / 100 mL)

I love using this cult-favourite (for good reason) refreshing glycerin based mist either as a hydrating mist to add a little something extra or sprayed generously over makeup to get rid of the heavy look that face products take over my skin, especially over the dry patches. It doesn’t have any alcohol in it and has soothing chamomile and a few other plant extracts that are soothing and hydrating. I have already repurchased and would tell anyone looking for a multipurpose mist product.

Physician’s Formula Eye Booster Eyeliner and Serum ($15 CDN/ 0.02 ounces)

This is probably my favourite liquid eyeliner that I’ve ever tried and I’ve purchased it several times. I love the easy to use brush tip that creates thin precise lines with ease and it does not smudge or anything unless I heavily nap on one side of the face, whilst still removing with ease at the end of the night. I can use it to quickly create a little flick in seconds. I think the whole serum marketing is a gimmick, however.

Have you used up anything lately?
Maggie, x.

 

Four Disappointing Purchases

This post was originally going to be something far more exciting and labour intensive, but somehow I have this crazy feeling that I can’t complete it without having a certain eyeshadow palette I ordered online from the Sephora VIB Sale in my paws beforehand. Instead, I’m going do one of those old school blog posts where I write a little bit about four products that have disappointed me.

Rimmel Lasting Finish 25 Hour Breathable Foundation ($11.99 CDN)

It’s true that my dry and sensitive skin doesn’t get along with lots of different foundations but I haven’t been as utterly disappointed in a foundation in years as I was with this one. It does not have great longevity but the worst part is that for a foundation that’s marketed as being skin like and natural-looking, it looks completely unnatural on my skin – even when I don’t have much in terms of dry patches. It also provides only light coverage that might build ever-so-slightly. There are lots of foundations that I find look terrible and mask-like on the skin but it’s been a long time since I’ve found a sheerer more natural and glowy foundation that I couldn’t make work. I’m the ideal candidate for a foundation like this one and if it looked unnatural and covered little on me, I don’t think it’d do much for anyone else. I’m usually quite the fan of Rimmel foundations and this one was so bad I couldn’t even stand to look at my face in this foundation long enough to write a review post of it. There is one positive about this foundation: the shade range features several pale shades. That’s as far as I can go.

NARS Audacious Lipstick in Bette ($41 CDN)

For the most part, I adore the formula of the NARS Audacious Lipsticks. However, I find that this deep vampy red-leaning berry shade applies in a patchy manner and tends to wear in a patchy manner as well. The formula is creamy, comfortable and relatively smooth but I find that I don’t reach for this lipstick because its not the easiest to apply neatly and it’s a higher maintenance option with its creamier texture. I do understand that the formula inconsistancies are likely due to the difficulty in formulating these uber-deep shades. The lipstick looks great if I apply lipliner and blot it but there are other formulas that require less work and maintenance that I would reach for over this one.

Hourglass Ambient Strobe Lighting Powder in Incandescent Strobe Light ($48 CDN)

It’s no secret that I adore the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blushes and quite like the original Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders but I can’t say I feel the same way about their strictly-highlighter formula. The powder is incredibly finely milled and isn’t the most unflattering on texture but I’m completely confused by the very subtle sheen it gives off along with the visible micro glitter particles. It’s a pale pink champagne-ivory kind of shade with silver micro glitters that produces the slightest sheen and visible glitter particles. I’m confused by how subtle this highlighter is in terms of effect along with the visible micro glitters. I don’t have anything against a subtle highlighter but the visible particles in a sheerer formula rain on my parade.

Paula’s Choice Perfect Cleansing Oil ($25 US)

It’s rare that I try a Paula’s Choice product that I don’t enjoy. I always appreciate the effective formulas that they produce that don’t break the bank and are the most gentle on the skin. I was so excited to try their cleansing oil because I adore using these products to gently dissolve makeup from my skin without any sort of abrasion. However, I have issues with it stinging my eyes (despite being fragrance-free and not having anything questionable on the ingredient list) and I don’t find it as nourishing or as effective at removing makeup as other ones I’ve tried.

Any thoughts?
Maggie, x.

 

 

 

Urban Decay Naked 3 Palette | Three Ways

In attempt to prevent myself from salivating over every new and shiny fall or holiday themed eyeshadow palette I see, I’ve been making an effort to rediscover forgotten eyeshadow palettes and experiment with them. One such palette that I’ve really enjoyed digging back into is the Urban Decay Naked 3 Palette ($66). I’ve forgotten how much I enjoy using the warm rose-gold hued neutrals, even if there is minimal variation in tone throughout the palette. Years ago, I reviewed the palette here. Now I’ll get to the lowdown on the three different looks I created only using eyeshadows from the palette.

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Everyday Rosy Eye

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This look is very much in my comfort zone, consisting of a peachy champagne shadow on the lid and a little bit of darkness in the crease and along the outer corners of my eyelids, but it’s what I feel the best wearing on a daily basis. I started off with the paler mauve-y Limit as a transition or blending colour, before moving on to the rosy brown Nooner in the proper crease and along the lower lash line. I used the sheeny  peachy champagne Burnout on the lids and blended the taupe-y Factory in the outer corners. I finished by blending a tiny bit of the purple-tinged black Blackheart into the outer v, applying the pale pinky Dust in the inner corner and on the centre of the lid and with a thin line of liquid liner. I do apologize for the poor lighting in the picture; it’s definitely washing out my eyeshadow.

The Autumnal Copper Eye

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This was actually the makeup I wore on Thanksgiving Day, along with jeans, a scarf and a cozy sweater and it was just my cup of tea, with some extra smokiness and a more coppery glittery lid. Again, I started with the same matte colours – Limit as a blending or transition colour and Nooner blended messily in the crease. I packed the glittery copper Trick on the lid and once again, used  Factory and blended it into the crease. This time, I went for a more concentrated application of Blackheart in the outer corner and to smoke out the lash line. Because there was so much shine happening on the lid, I went for Strange, a matte highlight. And I went for some winged liner. 

Taupe Smoky Eye
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I don’t typically adore a true smoky eye on myself regularly, with a darker lid and all but I quite enjoyed this one that I created with the taupier shades in the palette. As with the previous two looks, I began by using Limit as a transition colour and applied Nooner into the crease. I used the medium mushroomy shimmery taupe, Mugshot on the outer 2/3 of the eyelid and brightened things up with Dust in the inner 1/3 of the lid. The outer corner was smoked out with Darkside and all of the shadow underneath the eye was honestly the result of fallout that I didn’t wipe away.  I used the matte highlight Strange again to clean up underneath the brow bone. I completed the smoky look with smudgy black liner.

Have you made any makeup rediscoveries?
Maggie, x

Early Fall Favourites

It looks like I’m someone who struggles to commit to writing favourites posts on the regular. I feel like I could go on and on about favourites and never talk about anything else. However, I have some recent favourites that I’d like to share.


Viseart 10 Warm Mattes Eyeshadow Palette ($100 CDN): I never thought that I would be one to gush over an all-matte eyeshadow palette because quite honestly, they bore me to death but here I am. In terms of everyday use, I find myself always reaching for this mainly warm-toned eyeshadow palette and just reaching for a shimmery shade for the lid. It never has any fallout, has all the shades I’d need and blends and applies effortlessly. I really like all of the shades in the palette but I find myself reaching for the red shade particularly often. I’m surprisingly fond of the mustard-y shade as well. The shades do everything neutral from the most basic eye to a blown-out rusty smoky eyes.

Fenty Beauty Killawatt Foil Freestyle Highlighter Duo in Sand Castle/Mint’d Mojito ($44 CDN): This cream-powder-duo highlighter was a surprise love of mine, having that kind of intense blinding quality to them and being weird highlighter shades for my moderately fair skin. The shades, however, are not chunky and apply like a metallic and iridescent glint. With a fluffier highlight brush, the pale blue applies like a slightly silvery ethereal glow (that I can even make work with my warm-undertones) and the the bronze looks more like a golden glow. They don’t highlight texture as much as I would expect – note her that I don’t pack them on excessively – and they have good longevity. I also like them as eyeshadows, paired with matte shades as they provide that gorgeous sheen to the lids without obvious shimmer chunks.

REN Evercalm Ultra Comforting Rescue Mask ($47 CDN): I don’t typically get on with these green beauty brands as my skin tends to get irritated from essential oils and other ‘natural’ ingredients but I was curious enough to give this one a go and I’m glad I did. It’s actually soothing enough that I used it on a horrific eczema breakout on my face without it burning and I find that it’s hydrating and soothing. I quite enjoy the ferment extract it contains, as along with the plant oils, it seems to really reduce inflammation in the skin. I do not rinse this off, contrary to the instructions…

Fenty Beauty Match Stix Matte Skinstick in Amber ($31 CDN): Have I ever mentioned that I actually love the contour stick from Rihanna’s line before? Regardless, I’ve loved it for awhile and its the perfect thing to grab for when I want some shape to my face but don’t want a bronzed look or to have to put much effort in. It’s a great cool greyish tone that isn’t too dark on my fairer skin and it sheers out nicely but can also be built up. They feel dry but I don’t have a problem blending the stick in a few seconds with a synthetic brush, even on my quite dry skin.

MAC Cosmetics Mineralize Skinfinish in Stereo Rose ($39 CDN): I really struggled with the decision whether or not to feature this product in the post because Stereo Rose is a limited edition colour that they tend to only release every year or two and it’s not available at the moment. However, I adore the glowy warm pinky copper leaning coral powder as a glowy blush when I’m feeling a bit dull and need a dose of radiance and brightness. It can pull kind of orange but its flattering on my fair skin. I love the formula, as its a shimmery and sheeny one – that can be used on the cheeks as a highlighter or as a blush – without visible shimmer particles or chunkiness. I think it would even work on deeper skin tones as a true highlighter but I’ll stop now because it’s not even available!

Physician’s Formula Eye Booster 2 in 1 Lash Boosting Eyeliner and Serum ($15 CDN): I hadn’t remembered how much I adored this easy-to-use brush tip liquid liner until I purchased a fresh liner. It’s my favourite for everyday use as it’s easy to create a little wing (which is my go-to everyday thing) and doesn’t require the steadiest hand in order to do so. Also, I love that it doesn’t budge or smudge but removes easily with a micellar water or cleansing balm. The thin tip is really useful for creating a wing and creating thin smooth lines.

What are your current favourites?
Maggie, x.

 

 

 

 

The Review | Viseart Matte Eyeshadow Palette in Warm Mattes 10

I thought I didn’t need a Viseart Matte Eyeshadow Palette. Boy was I wrong. I should probably clarify that nobody truly needs a $100 eyeshadow palette but I was definitely wrong in my thinking that I wouldn’t enjoy one of their matte palette offerings that many rave about. I’ll try to skip over some of the basic logistics of this palette as I went over them in the review hereI happily use the Viseart Matte Eyeshadow Palette in Warm Mattes 10 on an everyday basis without much thought. Matte eyeshadows may not excite me but they make up the foundation of my everyday look, as I find it has every eyeshadow I’d need on a regular basis (of the matte variety). I do note that I’m on the fairer end of the spectrum and look better in shades with a warm undertone. [Sidenote: to get full enjoyment out of all of the shades in this palette, I think you need to be fair to medium in skin tone and enjoy warm undertones].

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Upon first glance, you’d think that these Viseart Palettes are not economical. $100 CDN seems awfully steep for twelve eyeshadows but when you put the amount of product contained in the palette into perspective, the true cost is only $4.17 per gram, which is even more affordable than MAC Eyeshadow singles. What I love the most about these eyeshadows is that they apply easily, blend even easier (without ever blending out into each other), last on my eyelids – that seem to make any eyeshadow crease – and that they do not seem to cause fallout under the eye. These shadows don’t swatch nearly as well as they apply and this is likely because of the easy-to-use buildable pigment they have and that they don’t have those filler ingredients that lead to that silky smooth feel and glide. Note: I’m not always a fan of those newer generation silky, smooth eyeshadows even if they do swatch wonderfully. These shadows do feel a bit dry to the touch but they have the best longevity in my experience and apply with little effort. Every single shade seems to have the same great consistent formula which is kind of a miracle and the way that they build and layer makes them incredibly user friendly. The red shade on the bottom right of the palette may be slightly sheerer than the others but It’s hardly noticeable on the eye and I find that these reddish shades are all kind of like that in eyeshadow formulas.

I will spare you the shade descriptions because I will not do them justice but I will show you my unimpressive swatches. This palette keeps me from wanting to buy every single new release I see because they do everything I need on a regular basis, with the addition of a shimmery highlighter shade on the  lid – only because I can’t do without some sheen. It allows me to do the most basic eye to a blown out warm smoky one. I will note that there’s no black shade, however.   And now I’ll stop raving about these eyeshadows. 

Any thoughts?
Maggie, x.IMG_9847