The Restrained Sephora Order

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On Monday morning, I woke up and upon lazily picking up my laptop from the floor and into bed with me, I figured that I would check up on the state of my Sephora order and when I found out that it was actually here in my mailbox, I was more than a little bit excited; this excitement has not faded since opening and trying these products, either. I’m not one to make online orders really at all, but when I didn’t manage to make it into the store for the 2x/3x/4x the points event, I bit the bullet and went for the promotion online. I’m pleased to report that while I was charged duty, it was a miniscule amount and that it arrived within a week of being shipped – that’s good for us Canadians. Plus, they actually managed to give me the samples and the perk that I requested as well. Let’s get on into my small assortment of goodies but be forewarned that they aren’t the most interesting of products…

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First up is the NARS Contour Blush in Paloma that I had sights set on as soon as its release into the blogosphere but had initially held off because of its price and apparent similarity to the MAC Harmony Powder Blush that I adore for contouring. There’s no way around it, the 0.28 oz duo is pricy, coming in at $42 US/ $46 CDN but I fell in love with the darker shade upon first use (and I have worn it twice), as it might not swatch amazing but as soon as its swept onto the face, there’s some magical contouring action that happens with little effort and you still look completely natural. It swatches nicely, more similar to MAC Harmony than it actually appears on the face, but applies in a much more pigmented and smooth fashion than one would expect — I think it might beat out my old favourite. While it swatches quite rosy, on my neutral-to-yellow undertones, it applies more of a muted rosy tan hue, with much more brown in it. It doesn’t appear pink on my skin at all, which I had previously thought it might do. Plus, it hadn’t faded on my face within 10 hours — brownie points, anyone? As you can likely imagine, I purchased the duo mainly for the contouring shade but the soft-matte “highlighting shade” is nice, too. It doesn’t really seem to show up on my wrist as it’s always slightly paler than the rest of my body but because of this, I feel that it can be used to set the undereyes and other areas of the face without difficulty while still brightening things up.

Below: NARS Contour Blush in Paloma (both shades), with MAC Harmony on the right for comparison. And after that, my face today featuring both this product and the next one

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The next product was nothing glamorous but as I’ve heard fabulous things for ages about the NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base ($25 US/$29 CDN) and have had it on every single wishlist I’ve made myself for more the year, I finally went for the eyeshadow primer. I have difficulty with eyeshadows creasing despite not having oily eye lids and it’s been getting worse as of late so the purchase only seemed to be rational. I do have deep set eyes so I have eyes that are more creased at the socket generally, though. While I’m not sure if this is life-changing yet, it’s definitely a primer that works thus far and one  that dries down quickly.

If you’ve been a reader for a while – thank you! – then I’m sure you’ve heard me ramble on about my love for the Caudalie Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet (until it ran out at least) and now that I noticed how close I was to the end of my current moisturizer, I decided to bite the bullet and go for the slightly more intense but-not-heavy formulation from the same line. I’ve used the Caudalie Vinosource Intense Moisture Rescue Cream ($39 US/$40 CDN) three times since it’s arrival so I can’t say anything definite but it seems to me that this has impressed me even with my prior high expectations. Like promised, the antioxidant-rich cream seems to soothe the skin while being extremely hydrating. I’ll definitely keep you posted.

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I’m not normally one to spend time discussing samples but as the 100 point perk that I included with my order has astounded me, I figured I would give them some attention in photographic form. I haven’t tried any of the three yet but I have tried the sample size of the Marc Jacobs Beauty High(Liner) in Brown(Out) and was amazed with the rich deep bronze liner that applied as if it were liquid and stayed put like a champ. I’m not wearing this today but I wore it yesterday and it seems to be blowing most liners out of the water with its intense colour and actual authentic creamy texture that doesn’t go waxy or break of instantly. Let’s hope it stays this way.

Have you picked up anything lately? Either way, Happy Wednesday!
Maggie, x.

Skincare Thoughts & Tidbits

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At a certain point I’ve had to accept that I am becoming yet another beauty blogging cliche rather than struggling to write the most unique post ever, taking ages and ages to do so but somehow ending up with the most incomprehensible post that you have possibly ever viewed yourself, you realize that taking your individualism to that extreme while blogging is ever-so-slightly insane. I would compare this to essay writing – I’m an arts student so nothing practical here – when you begin university where you’re so convinced of your underlying deep understanding that you have not been taught that you’re missing the entire point of the task at hand. Abstract: it’s important to keep your writing unique and tailored to you but write what you want to write not based on what novel blogging ideas you can chalk up that have never been done before with possible good reason. ‘Where is this going?’, you might be thinking — I often find myself asking the same question… — but I assure you that my tangent had some sort of underlying purpose; I have to do that horribly cliched beauty blogger thing where I complain about my skin being extremely problematic when it does not necessarily look all that bad. In my defense, the skin I have now is easily the best skin I’ve had since I turned thirteen and developed visible pimple-producing oil glands but this is a result of learning how to look after my skin with its unique preferences and dislikes and more currently, my high-fat and low sugar/carb/wheat diet that I’ve switched onto to deal with my troublesome fructose sensitivity.

With skincare it is definitely true that everyone’s skin reacts differently to ingredients and that even those suffering from similar skincare concerns may have completely different reactions to the same products, there are general rules to stick by in terms of ingredients and the like so I figured I would show mine. I have extremely sensitive and fragile skin — not sensitive in the way that it breaks out from everything, as the only thing I’ve had a serious reaction breakout to is the Cetaphil eczema-care line strangely enough – that is easily irritated and can tolerate very few ingredients but still has concerns that need to be addressed. I’ve always had a mild case of acne (on my face) that conveniently (joking…) is of hormonal origin and cannot be shaken with antibiotics and that gets red and irritated easily with most products on the market that can aim to help my skincare concerns. My body skin is more of my concern as I’ve suffered from severe acne on my back that is completely resistant to any medication whilst erupting in those itchy eczema patches that plague my skin all over. My skin is dull, dehydrated and constantly dehydrated with a few pimples on my face constantly and tiny bumps underneath my skin that will eventually turned to clogged pores, on the drier side of things, is prone to redness and reacts horrifically to most chemical sunscreens, any sort of sulfate in a cleanser and any sort of drying alcohols. Oh, and any sort of abrasion is a no-no even though the uneven texture of my skin is problematic so if I can use a scrub it has to be as gentle as nappy cream for a baby’s bottom — don’t know where that came from. I figured I would show this snapshot of my bare-face on the less-pleasing of average days (due to hormonal issues) about five or six hours after washing and the like without makeup. Yes, the only place my face seems to produce shine is on my forehead which I would classify as normal… just in case you were skeptical about the shine situation.

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I promise this lengthy rant/description of my skin is worthwhile to get through to hear about my staples. As a recap — or rather, a thesis or overarching narrative of sorts — I have skin that is in need of treatment but has very low tolerance for any sort of harsh or irritating ingredients. And because I feel the need to rant about this yet again, natural ingredients are not any less harsh on the skin than artificial ones so the solution is not to go for more ‘natural brands’ such as Lush etc. that feel the need to boast about how great their natural ingredients are when in fact they are filled with natural occurring alcohol and natural occurring but still irritating fragrance. I may have strong feelings on the whole natural products debate but there are great natural products in my opinion but it is not necessarily the best product ever simply because its ‘natural’. So the introduction for this post is probably lengthier than this post needs to be but I felt that it was a necessary precursor to articulating the supremacy of these elements. And in the future I’ll probably refer to this post or link to this one when describing my skin so you won’t all be subjected to this long rant again. Here goes…

1. Go for gentle yet effective cleansing: Whenever I have makeup on I do a double cleanse with a washcloth but more than this, I make sure to use the gentlest cleansers that I can find, avoiding any sort of foaming action, drying alcohols obviously or any sort of harsh detergents such as sulfates. While I’m intolerant to these sulfates, they are problematic for everyone I assume as they further irritate the skin and leave it in a fragile state that makes it particularly prone for the barrier to be compensated and privy to blemishes of a variety of kinds. And more than that, this can do wonders to reduce redness. Lately I’ve heard a variety claim that after not washing their face in the morning, the quality of their skin has vastly improved and I used to agree with this but since finding the gentlest of cleansers to use in the morning, my skin is clearer than ever with any redness.

2. Avoid additional irritants: While I definitely can agree with the statement that everyone’s skin can react differently to ingredients and frequently do so some commonly-known irritants may or may not have a negative impact on your skin but there are some that are universally good to avoid or at the very least limit- drying alcohols as I’ve said before, fragrance regardless of its origin, etc. Although I’m not 100% in agreement with her verdict on the ingredients and efficacy of all products, Paula Begon of Paula’s Choice provides an especially helpful analysis of ingredients and efficacy of a variety of skincare products, serving as particularly helpful to indicate irritants as well as beneficial ingredients (i.e. antioxidants)

3. Look f0r soothing nourishment: Regardless of your skin type/condition or what kind of product you’re getting the nourishment from, – whether it be an oil, serum, mask, moisturizer etc. – universally we all benefit from this kind of nourishment. This is crucial for easily irritated and blemish-susceptible skin like mine but is an important concern all around. It improves the general quality of the skin and compensates from makeup removal, the use of treatments on the skin and the impact of weather on the skin. This leads very easily onto the next point…

4. Make use of gentle but effective treatments: Now what treatments you might search after should be guided by your specific skincare concerns, the use of products to aid in these concerns effectively without aggravating the skin is essential. Some of these treatments might include retinol for anti-aging purposes and the like, salicylic acid/benzyl peroxide, sulfur etc. for treating blemish concerns, skin lighteners or chemical exfoliants for brightness concerns, etc.

5. Adequate exfoliation: While this step does tend to overlap quite a bit with treatments in my book as I have the kind of skin that is quite intolerant to physical exfoliants (i.e. scrubs) but requires frequent gentle chemical exfoliation to help with brightness, texture and clarity, regardless of your concerns exfoliating your skin frequently enough but not too frequently is crucial. For some a physical exfoliator is fine but others like myself prefer chemical ones, so it does depend on preference but I gather that for many a combination of the two is most successful. Chemical exfoliants are generally classified into Alpha-Hydroxy-Acids and Beta-Hydroxy-Acids – the former exfoliates the surface of the skin and the latter can exfoliate beneath the surface and into the pore – and work to eliminate excess skin cells and unblock the pores, triggering cell renewal in a way, rather than just smoothing out the surface of the skin through abrasion.

I have to say that diet does play a degree but is not the sole factor in the quality of the skin, in my view, as nutrients inside the body impact the skin additionally but other than eating a balanced diet, food concerns and intolerances can be different for everyone – however, I hear milk, sugar and gluten are common ones. For instance, after drastically lowering the fructose (sugar) and carbohydrates (particularly wheat) in my diet which are both known to be inflammatory, I have noted a reduction in the inflammation of my skin, but skincare has made more of a difference in my humble opinion. I’m not an expert on skincare by any means but I do read up on it frequently due to my interest in it so I hope these tidbits of mine are helpful. I’d love to know if these basic steps work for others like they do for me or if there are other crucial considerations that I seem to be missing! Oh, and just as a heads up this is merely the first post in a series of posts on skincare that I’m planning to produce at the moment?

Maggie, x.