The Manly Palette

The Manly 120 Palette. I finally broke down and bought one.

Anyone who frequents YouTube make up tutorials or reviews knows exactly what I’m talking about. For those who don’t, basically, it is a make up palette consisting of 120 dime sized pots of eye shadow. I’ve had mine for about a month, and haven’t really used it much yet (minimal make up in this heat is my philosophy), but I have experimented enough to know that I like it. A lot.

I purchased my palette from Ebay (where else?!) and for about $25, I had a pristine product in my hands quickly. The prices vary on Ebay, as is usually the case, but I went with a top seller who offered free shipping and had great reviews.

The palette features just about every colour you can think of. I get the same excited feeling looking at it, as I used to get when I’d open a giant box of new Crayolas. The possibilities are endless. There are shimmer and matte varieties and although the quality of the shadow isn’t as good as MAC, it isn’t bad either. To me, it’s a no-brainer because even if I were to buy a drug store brand of eyeshadow, it’s going to cost about $9 for something like a pot of L’oreal HIP.
I really don’t mind mixing some of the expensive stuff (ie. a couple of MAC of eye shadows and brushes) with some of the inexpensive (ie. this palette and some E.L.F brushes that run $1-$3 and work as good as the $20-$30 MAC ones). As long as a product performs well, I’m happy.


This Little Piggy…

I am blessed with two very ‘girly’ little girls.  The love to play dolls, dress up, and both share a preoccupation with all things beauty.  During the last year, they have requested lip gloss over their lip balm, added a spritz of perfume to their morning routine, and  begged to wear nail polish.  My mom didn’t allow me to wear polish until I was thirteen, and even then it was the ‘clear with glitter’ kind.  History does repeat itself, and although I answered ‘no’ every time my girls asked, my mind flashed back to wanting some colour on my nails and using marker in a desperate attempt to get my way.  Recently, I was reading a blog (I can’t remember the name of it, sorry) and discovered something called “Piggy Paint”   What is Piggy Paint?  It is the invention of a mother who realized that nail polish is not a child friendly product.  She  made her own kid-friendly version and now markets it under the catchy moniker.  I visited the website, liked what I read, and ended up purchasing the Cotton Candy gift pack.  This evening I painted my little one’s nail in Clouds of Candy, a pastel blue polish, while my eldest chose Angel Kisses, a fun pink.  The polish went on easily, dried fast and looks great so far.  Every one seems to be a happy camper: the girls have pretty, polished nails and I don’t have to worry and wonder if the product is going to harm them.

I smell an imposter!!!

Something very terrible has happened.

Let me start at the beginning.

What seems like many years ago, Dolce & Gabbana released their first fragrance for women.  It was simple known as Dolce & Gabbana with the red top (aka pour femme).  The perfume was a love it or loathe it creation.  With its citrus and herbal top notes, heady floral heart and vanilla-musk base, there was nothing shy about it.  The jus had tons of sillage and could easily wear the wearer instead of the other way around.

I was just out of high school when I discovered this heavenly creation.  It was love at first sniff, and it was the first fragrance that was powerful enough to affect my mood.  All I had to do was wear it and I felt like a confident, sexy, bombshell instantly. It was brash and brazen, yet somehow still sophisticated.  It was my mother who treated me to my 3.4 oz bottle, and whenever I wore it, the compliments came all day long.  I was careful with my bottle of treasured perfume, so I only wore it on special occasions.  Recently, I took a good, long look at what was left of it and decided to retire it.  Here’s why: My bottle of D&G was purchased in 1998 and I was pretty certain that the jus had been altered since then.  I resolved that I would buy myself a new bottle and keep what was left of the vintage elixir for any super special moments.

When Your Nose Knows:

I received my new bottle of D&G pour femme and tested it on my arm.  Instantly, I knew that something was wrong. Very wrong.  The top notes seemed thin and not rich as they should.  As they developed into the heart of the fragrance my nose couldn’t get past a particular synthetic note that overwhelmed and altered the entire composition of the jus.  The dry down was the ‘politically correct’ version of what it used to be.  The fragrance itself had changed drastically.  It was an imposter!

To further convince myself of what I knew to be true, I asked my hubby to smell the new version of the perfume.  He has always loved the ’98 version on me.  He smelled the new stuff (not knowing what perfume it was) and declared that he didn’t care for it.

So am I crazy? No, not at all.  There is a great explanation as to why a perfume that is the same brand can (and often does) smell different that a previously purchased bottle.  Companies and Perfume Houses (especially the big ones, ie. brands found in a dept. store) often substitute or swap ingredients or change the composition of a fragrance for several reasons.  The raw ingredients needed may become scarce, the powers that be may issue the order to make the jus more cost efficient, etc.  The most troubling reason of late has come from the IFRA who are set to ban a host of natural ingredients that have been at the heart of great perfume making for the last hundred or so years. Classics will soon become ghosts of themselves without ingredients such as oak moss and jasmine.  Instead, fragrances will become synthetic in nature (which they already are, sorry to say).  Out with real ingredients, in with man-made formulas made to smell like the genuine article.  Needless to say, there are many people (myself included) that see this as the death of the art of perfumery. Good-bye Chanel No. 5, Farewell Joy.  I can’t help but wonder why the perfume houses are essentially agreeing to these restrictions and thereby, actively contributing to their own downfall.  As I type this post, I am sitting here, wearing the imposter fragrance sold to me as D&G.  I will have no choice but to stockpile certain favorites of mine before they are altered.  I wish I could say that this has been my first encounter with a fragrance that has been drastically reformulated; unfortunately, it has not.  Lucky for me, I have my original, beloved D&G tucked away for safe keeping (what is left of it, anyway), and the perfume I wore when I married.

One final note.  It truly does peeve me that these perfume houses are substituting real, quality ingredients for poor substitutes without admitting it or lowering the price to reflect their now inferior product.  Perfumistas, we must find a way to make our voice heard.

Mascara Woes: Diorshow NO NO

I’ve been using Fiberwig Mascara very happily for several months now.  Unfortunately, I started getting really curious about the Diorshow Mascara and had to try it.  I blame all the great reviews on Sephora’s website.

I’m so glad I didn’t buy it at the full price.  I should have known that Diorshow wouldn’t work for me.  Why? Well, simply put, the brush.  The mascara brush, wand, whatever term you would like to use, is very big, very thick.  My lashes are very puny, very thin.  I have to say, I was sorely disappointed in the performance of this product.  I’m sure it works wonders on other lashes, but it doesn’t work for me.  It was somewhat clumpy, goopy (is that a word) and dry, all at the same time.

My lashes would've looked like this if I didn't know any better!

My lashes would've looked like this if I didn't know any better!

I can’t go into detail because it really didn’t do anything but clump and flake for me.

Fiberwig, I’m so sorry I betrayed you, and vow not to stray so easily again…

Scentimental thoughts

I love perfume.

I suppose, my love affair with perfume falls in line with my preoccupation with all things hair and beauty.  Honestly, I don’t think I had a choice when it came to falling hard for perfume.  It is said that a powerful link between scent and memory exists.  I believe this to be true.  It is because of (and through) my mother that I am a lover of perfume.  When I was a little girl, one of my favorite things to do was look at the beautiful perfume bottles that graced my mother’s dressing table.  I can still remember many of the names on those bottles: Guerlain, Givenchy, Rochas.  The scented elixirs were gorgeous, and, to me, my mom was the loveliest smelling person I knew.  In the center of all these perfumes on her dresser was a tiny cream box, outlined in black.  In this box held the treasure of my mother’s collection: 1 ounce of  Chanel No. 5 Parfum.  The bottle was tiny, delicate, and yet, with no more than a dab, the perfume lasted all day.  A quarter of an ounce of the same Parfum today would cost more than a hundred dollars, so I look back in wonder that she allowed me to hold, examine, and dab on, a perfume that many women can only enjoy in Eau de toilette strength.  As I became older, perfume became a necessary finishing touch for me when it came to getting ready.  In middle school, I would creep in my parents’ room in the morning and steal a spritz of Amarige de Givenchy or whatever else appealed to me.  Never was I told to stop, so it became a habit.  On the weekend,  I would go to The Bay in Yorkdale Mall with my mom and head straight to the perfume counter.  All the ladies in that department knew my mom pretty much by name.  It seemed that she could get what no one else could, whether it be a great deal on perfume, extras thrown in or generous samples that were supposed to be finished.  By no means is my mother a wealthy woman; however, she was savvy enough to save and put her extra pocket change away so that when she saw something she really wanted, buying it wouldn’t be an issue.  In high school, I went from visiting my mom’s room for perfume, to having my own impressive collection.  While most of my friends were putting their money into the latest sneakers and buying clothes full price retail, I was fully obsessed with perfume.  My mother encouraged this obsession/addiction and by graduation, the tables had some how turned and mom was visiting my room to spritz just as often as I visited hers.  On my wedding day, she presented me with a bottle of Vera Wang, knowing I had been coveting it.  It was my ‘something new’ and fitting, somehow, since I couldn’t very well afford a Vera Wang wedding gown.  After I started having babies, loving perfume went on hold.  It just didn’t seem kosher to have my baby’s face against my skin while doused in a potential irritant.  I felt naked without wearing it, but stopped wearing  for a few years.  As of present, I’m trying to slowly rebuild my collection.  At 30, I honestly wish I had the collection I had at 17.  I have revisited some old favorites, which still smell fab on me, but I’ve also discovered that as one’s body chemistry changes (having kids, menopause, you name it) so does what works with one’s chemistry. A perfume that may have smelled lovely on you at 20, may not smell the same on you at 40.  Strange but true.  So, with sharing this little history of mine with perfume, look forward to seeing some posts featuring fragrances in all their glory.

An Epiphany

It’s been a busy summer for me.  I helped plan a much needed, long awaited family reunion that was very much a success.  I spent two wonderful weeks in Jamaica and during that time, I had a major epiphany:  my home environment is no good for my skin.  I’ve come to accept that I will not ever be one of those women with a flawless complexion.  The fact is, most of my skin woes are tied to my hormones, and no cream can solve that.  However, during my vacation, I was having so much fun that I pretty much ditched my regular skin care routine.  I did everything that is a no-no for achieving good skin: drank too much alcohol, indulged in a couple of Cuban cigars, stayed up late, woke up early (not enough rest), didn’t drink enough water, and ate whatever looked delicious and most of the time I fell into bed (forget about washing my face).  The biggest surprise is that at this very moment, I have the skin I’ve always wanted.  It doesn’t have a mark or pimple.  It’s even (thanks to the island sun) and smooth.  I didn’t expect this at all.  Interestingly enough, there were a few others in my family that experienced the same phenomenon.  Now that I’m back home, I am awaiting the dreaded blemishes that are bound to appear on my face.  The only conclusion I can come up with, as to why my skin cleared up so beautifully, is that island life must agree with me.  I need to start playing the lottery and move some where tropical.

My Make Up Must Haves…

Confession: I’ve had a love affair with make up since I was a little girl.  Make up and nail polish, to be exact.  My mother refused to let me wear nail polish until I was in my early teens, but I had free rein to play with her make up.  It seems that history is repeating itself.  I am now a mother to two girls (ages 6 & 4) and am doing to them what my oh-so-wise mother did to me. (No nail polish yet. Besides, all those chemicals sit in our bodies and have been linked to fertility problems later on.)  Anyway, one of my favorite stores is Sephora.  I love the fact that you can get a sample made for you from just about any cream type product or fragrance.  A couple of days ago I was spraying  perfume on a test strip and the customer associate offered to make a tester of the scent for me.  I watched as she took out a plastic vial, sprayed the perfume in it, and put a pump top on.  I was able to test out the perfume for a few days to decide if I really liked it enough to buy it.  Anyway, with all that said, here are a few of my favorite new products.  They’ve been out for a little while, but are worth checking.

Too Faced Shadow Insurance: I like this primer. A lot.  I’ve been sleeping on the benefits of using an eye primer for a while now. Mainly because I used one years ago that really did not work.  Eyelids do not have oil glands and yet my eyelids are always a little greasy.  Probably because when I moisturize my face, I do all of it.  This stuff blends easily and creates the perfect canvas for your eyeshadow to pop (colour wise) and stay put.  I mainly use this primer sans eye shadow just to give my lid a matte look that lasts all day. This way, I look natural, but not greasy.  I recommend this over the Urban Decay’s eyeshadow Primer Potion any day.

Imju Fiberwig Mascara: Leave it to the Japanese to engineer something as ingenious as this!  Day after day I would stare at the ad on the train for this mascara.  Many a time I heard some man ask his girlfriend, “What are Panda eyes?” because of it.  Until something better comes out, I will gladly put my money down for this mascara.  I have the shortest, sparsest eyelashes of anyone I personally know.  I’ve tried every type of mascara to build on the little that I have.  The first time I used Fiberwig, I could literally see the product building on my lash to extend it.  I did one eye and then let my husband (who could care less) check out how amazing it is.  There is definitely a trick to using this product because it is like a paint on extension.  You can’t slap Fiberwig on like regular mascara because it will cause your eyelashes to touch your brow bone, causing you to look ridiculous.  I was told to hold the wand pointing almost vertical, but with a slight slant (think acute angle), and only do the tips of the lashes.  This advice worked. Oh yeah, and as promised, you can rub your eyes and no smudging. No panda eyes. AND,  it comes off very easily.  I use this product by itself on regular days, and I use it after using a mascara when I want to really play up my eyes. Love, love, love this.

Smashbox O-Glow Intuitive Cheek Color: I can’t remember how I discovered this nifty little gel.  I like a little colour on the cheeks.  Nothing too strong or garish.  Usually when I hear that something is “intuitive” (especially with a beauty product), I tend to disregard it.  This is mainly because darker skin tones tend to be left out when it comes to the formulation of products that are supposed to ‘know’ what to do.  I was pleasantly surprised with this blush (that’s really what it is).  It is a light, clear gel that amazingly becomes the perfect shade of rose (based on your skin tone) once you apply it.  If you like the idea of blush, but hate having to pick one out, this is the product for you.  It’s hard to goof O-Glow up since the only way you could really do that is by using too much of the gel.  There is also an O-Gloss that Smashbox sells.  It’s not as remarkable as the O-Glow, truth be told.  I like it well enough, mainly because it feels very good (and non-sticky) on the lip, but it doesn’t impress me the way that the O-Glow does.

Well, there you have it.  A review on a few of the products I’m using and loving.  If you know of a great make up or beauty product, please share!

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