Thursday, January 26, 2012

Urban Decay Naked 2 Palette

I'm sorry for not posting the past few days, my lovelies! I've been preoccupied with school and my weight loss journey, and I'd been holding out on posting because... The Naked 2 palette was released in my Sephora today!!

I've always wanted the Naked palette, and I waited for someone to buy it for me for my birthday, Christmas, SOMETHING! But no one did. So finally, I resolved that I would buy it for myself after Christmas, should no one have bought it for me. However, I found out that Urban Decay was releasing a new palette, and I was intrigued - which one to get now!?

I did a lot of research and after a lot of deliberation and pondering, I decided that the best option, for me, would be the Naked 2 palette. It seemed (overally) in more sturdy packaging than the original, came with a double sided brush (He-llo!!! Who doesn't love a new brush!?), and a mini lipgloss. Plus, the colors seemed to intrigue me a little more than the original... so I decided to buy it. I found out a few weeks ago that it was going to be in around the 26th of January, but no promises were made. My husband and I stopped in at a Sephora after our supper date (romantic, I know... haha), and I was told that the 26th was definitely their release date.

So this morning I got up early, got to the mall at 9:15 and waited until it opened at 10. About seven other ladies showed up and waited with me, which got me very nervous. I knew the stock was limited - from what I saw, there were only about 10 palettes for sale, but I was the second one to actually buy one of these puppies.

So here is my overview/review of the Naked 2 palette. Enjoy!

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This palette retails for $60 CDN (ouch, I know...), while the original Naked palette retails for $58 CDN. It can be purchased from (though Urban Decay does not ship to Canada. You've been warned!),, and Sephora stores. It contains 12 Urban Decay eyeshadows, 5 of which are brand spankin' new. Urban Decay refers to them  as "taupe and greige (gray-beige)" neutrals in a variety of finishes: matte, shimmery and glittery. It also comes with a dual-ended brush (one side with a crease brush, the other with a flat shader brush) and a mini Lip Junkie lipgloss in Naked.

The palette is packaged differently than the original Naked palette. The case is made of a heavy metal that snaps open and shut. The lid is hinged There is a long slot in the palette for the brush to go. It has a large mirror that takes up the width and height of the inner lid of the case. This makes it funtabulous for makeup application on the go. The palette itself is heavy-er but not cumbersome or awkward. It feels very sturdy and safe - and I feel less anxious about my shadows breaking or getting chipped/punctured, etc. with this case encapsulating them.

The plastic protective sheet is still on my mirror.
The lipgloss tube holds 3.23 ml (0.11 US fl oz) of product. The lid twists off to reveal a slanted plastic squeeze-up applicator, which is also fantastic for on the go. The lipgloss itself is in the shade Naked, which is a beautiful rose pink color. It has fine pink shimmer throughout, but it's definitely not noticeable in the least on the lips. It is fairly sheer, but the color is buildable - to about a medium coverage/pigmentation. It's supposed to cool and plump lips too. Which I totally feel - it's not uncomfortable though. It has a minty scent - VERY comparable to the smell of the candy, 'Misty Mints.' If you've had them, you know what I'm talking about... There is no taste to the gloss, and while the scent is pretty strong, it does die down as it sits on your lips. The gloss itself is a little sticky, but not too much so for my liking. It feels comfortable on my lips - almost like there isn't anything there. It does wear for a significant amount of time before I feel I need to reapply it, which is probably a function of the stickiness of the gloss, in general. Overall, this is great everyday color. It's incredibly wearable and very comfortable on the lips. It might be worth looking into getting a full-sized tube of this gloss if you like it after trying it. I would certainly consider getting a full-sized tube after it runs out.

No flash.
The palette also features the cruelty-free Good Karma Shadow/Crease brush. The brush is a dual-ended synthetic brush with a flat shader brush on one end and a crease brush on the other. This brush is exclusive to the Naked 2 palette, so it's not available for purchase outside of this set. The bristles are incredibly soft on this brush. The handle is of a good weight and feels very comfortable in my hand. The crease brush is very dense and fairly stiff, so it works perfectly for blending out colors and creating an even gradient of color. It's domed, so it gets right into the socket of the eye, or applies a wash of color effortlessly. My only complaint is that the bristles are very long - I feel that I would've had more precision and control with a shorter bristled brush, but even so - this brush is fantastic. The flat shader brush is fantastic too. It's very dense and stiff, but very thin. It picks up color easily, and deposits it precisely where you want it on the eyelid. You have a great deal of control with this brush. The synthetic bristles of both are AMAZING - the brushes hold the product well when you first apply it to the brush, but don't absorb excess product - everything you pick up on the brush will transfer to your eye where and when you want it to. They're incredibly easy to clean and don't shed. A perfect complement to the palette.

Good Karma dual-ended brush
Still in the plastic wrapper.
Crease brush
Flat shader brush
Each eyeshadow is 1.3 g (0.05 US oz). There are 12 shades: (left-to-right) Foxy, Half Baked, Bootycall, Chopper, Tease, Snakebite, Suspect, Pistol, Verve, YDK, Busted and Blackout.

In natural sunlight.
*swatches of the palette to come*

No flash.
In natural sunlight.

Foxy is a matte cream white. Ideal for a brow highlight.
Half Baked is an intensely shimmery bronze gold shade. This is a great for summer bronze-y looks. I have nothing like this color in my eyeshadow collection. This is the only shade that crosses over for both the original Naked and Naked 2 palettes.
Bootycall is a shimmery white pink. Great as an all-over lid color, or as a shimmering brow highlight.
Chopper is an intensely shimmery (bordering on glittery) peachy copper color with silver microglitter.

No flash.
In natural sunlight.

Tease is a matte purple taupe shade. Perfect for a crease color or a transition shade. Probably my favorite of the whole palette.
Snakebite is a shimmery dark bronze. This would look GREAT in the crease with Half Baked on the lid.
Suspect is a shimmery beige color.
Pistol is a shimmery light gunmetal brown.
No flash.

In natural sunlight.
Verve is a shimmery 'oyster' color (according to
YDK is a glittery bronze-y metallic color.
Busted is a shimmery dark purple-brown.
Blackout is a matte black. It's intensely pigmented, great for darkening the crease/outer corner, using as liner, etc.

My favorite shades from the palette are: Foxy, Half Baked, ChopperTease, and Busted. I love them all, but these have to be my ABSOLUTE, must-have favorites.

The shadows are incredibly pigmented. There are no sheer shades - there are light colors, but you can still get heavy handed with these shadows because of the crazy pigmentation. Very little product goes a long way. There is a great selection of neutral colors - great for every day, practical and/or office looks as well as more dramatic evening looks. The shadows are SO soft, they feel almost creamy. These are my first Urban Decay shadows, and I have to say - they've lived up to all the hype. They blend effortlessly across the skin. The only problem I have is with fall out - some of the shadows are so shimmery/glittery, you can get a lot of fall out on your face - for this reason, I would recommend you do your eye makeup first (when using shadows like Chopper or YDK), and your foundation last.

The portability and practicality of this palette is absolutely fantastic. Not only is it travel friendly, but there are twelve amazing shades to accompany you on your travels or just be your one-stop-shop at home for beautiful eye looks. The dual-ended brush is incredibly perfect by incorporating both a shader end and a crease blender end - you have the most practical and versatile brushes with you wherever you go.The lipgloss amps up or tones down any eye makeup look, and is incredibly travel friendly (the only downside is how small it is.. it can easily get lost or forgotten haha!)

For the price, this is palette has incredible value. It will definitely be one of my most used palettes of 2012 - and it's an incredible investment. It will take me forever to hit pan on any one of the eyeshadows, let alone the whole thing. I will definitely get my money's worth on this one.

My only *big* complaint is the price tag. Ouch. It really leaves a dent in your wallet. HOWEVER, if you're looking for a palette of immense quality and great value - this is it. You can't go wrong with a neutral palette - you will find use for it every single day. And at $2 over the original, I'd say it's worth the extra. I've swatched the Original palette in Sephora, and found that I didn't love the colors as much as I do with the 2nd edition.

I think that if you've got the money to spend, this is a really worthwhile expenditure. If you haven't experienced Urban Decay shadows before, this is a great way to try them out and get a large variety of staple every day (and then some) colors. I love the dual-ended brush, and it was reason enough to buy this palette over the original. I don't know that you necessarily need both palettes, unless you're a collector of sorts - the colors are fairly similar (in texture and color) and you can get away with getting one over the other. The immense (practical) value of the brush in this kit, however, sold me on the 2nd edition over the original.

I would DEFINITELY recommend this palette to anyone who was considering it.

5 out of 5 stars.
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Have you tried the original Naked palette? Which rendition do you enjoy more? Why?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bekk's Best Of: 2011

I decided to start a new series, in lieu of the passing year. It will be called "Bekk's Best Of..." and can cover any particular beauty category in general. If you have any suggestions or recommendations, I'd love to hear them!

So, to start off this series, I'll be sharing with you my top products from 2011. I've decided that I'm not going to limit it to the best products released in 2011, but rather, the best products of my collection or the most used products of my collection in 2011. Let's get started!!

Maybelline Volum'Express One by One Mascara
This is a great mascara all around - in both the regular and waterproof versions. The silicone brush volumizes, lengthens and defines lashes for a fantastic fanned-out and finished look. The packaging is eye-catching and isn't an eye sore, should you chose to leave it sitting out when you have company. I absolutely adore this mascara - it's a wonderful product for the drugstore price tag.
My blog post on this:

Prestige Brow Perfection Shaping Studio in BBK-03 Light to Medium
I originally bought this product to fill in my one eyebrow that I accidentally shaved half-off when I was grooming them early in 2011. When my eyebrow grew back in, I didn't have a need to fill in my eyebrows, as they're very thick and I don't tend to over-manicure them. The powders, however, turned out to be my most favorite and most used shadows of 2011, and I still haven't managed to put a significant dent in them - and that's using them every single day. I use the darker matte red-brown shade most frequently as my crease color, as it's just the right amount of darkness, and it's easy to make it darker or lighter. The lighter matte tan color I use as a 'background' or transition color, which I place above my crease, to help blend out any other shadows I apply afterwards. They are very pigmented matte shades that are stupid easy to blend. , plus they came with a pair of mini tweezers, a small angled brush and a plastic guide for shaping your eyebrows. Excellent shadows!!!

Annabelle Smoothliner in Urban Jungle
I picked this up this summer after seeing it in one of the displays in Shopper's Drug Mart. These liners are absolutely amazing - incredibly pigmented, smooth and long-wearing. I love wearing this one as my upper lash liner with a bronze smokey eye - so summer chic and it really makes my eyes pop! I'm pretty sure it was limited edition, but if so, Annabelle has a ton of other colors in the Smoothliner collection for you to try.

MAC Bronzing Powder in Matte Bronze
I picked this up in anticipation for my summer wedding, knowing that I needed something to warm up my cheeks and contour with - I'd been looking for the best matte bronzer for so long, and I finally found it. I've had this since January 2011, and I've already hit pan. I use this practically every time I put on makeup - regardless of whether or not I decide to use foundation. I am so in love with this stuff. I will definitely be repurchasing it in the coming year!
My blog post on this:

Clinique Color Surge Eyeshadow Duo in Beach Plum
I got this second hand from one of my aunts, and she'd already used up the entire plum color which was a total bummer. From the swatches I've seen online, this would've been a killer eyeshadow duo to have in my possession. However, the white gold color was completely intact, and I have fallen head over heels for it. It is a perfect under the brow highlight shade and inner corner highlighter, as well as THE perfect lid color. The white gold color brightens the eye and makes my green eyes pop. I wear this almost every day now.

I've had several nail polish favorites this year, but my most favorite or most worn were:
Sally Hansen Hard As Nails Xtreme Wear in The Real Teal and Pacific Blue
Essie in Aruba Blue
My blog post on this:
Orly in Sweet Peacock
My blog post on this:
Quo by Orly in First Class
My blog post on this:

Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat
This is, by far, the best nail top coat I've ever tried. I love it. It works so well. High gloss shine, rapid dry time, and it really prevents chipping and peeling of your nail polish designs and colors. A great investment for me. I cannot be without this.
My blog post on this:

Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Serum
This has been an absolute LIFE SAVER with my hair. My drying time is cut substantially with this product, as well as the fact that it makes my hair super soft and beautifully shiny. I absolutely adore this product and I highly recommend it to everyone, despite the high price tag, one bottle will last you forever.
My blog post on this:

Live Clean Exotic Nectar Argan Oil Restorative Conditioner
I've gone through so many bottles of this since the beginning of 2011, it's not even funny. I wish they sold this in a bulk bottle because I love it so freaking much. It is a little pricey for the amount of product you're getting, but I seriously don't know if there's any conditioner I've ever liked better. While the argan oil in this product may be minimal, it hydrates and conditions my hair, leaving it smooth, healthy and shiny. I can rub this conditioner right into my roots without it making my hair greasy or oily. It smells DIVINE - I would eat it if I could. Definitely something you guys should try out this year if you have a chance. LOVE it.

Make Up For Ever HD Microfinishing Powder
This was an absolute God-send for me this year. It made my foundation look so flawless, and it really prolonged the wear time of my face makeup. LOVE this, and definitely want to purchase the full size container at some point this year!
My blog post on this:

Wet N' Wild Mega Last Lip Color in 909D - Coral-ine
This was the first red lipstick I ever purchased, and I LOVE it. It's a beautiful orange-red matte lip stick. The wear on these is amazing and they're affordable. Incredible pigmentation too. You should definitely try out this shade!

Annabelle Playa Bronzer in Copacabana Glow
I love this blush/bronzer, mostly for the bottom two colors: a matte coral color and a shimmery orange color. I love blending them together to get a really gorgeous coral glow on my cheeks, or using them separately for super pigmented and long-lasting blush. SO beautiful all year round.

Quo Crease Shadow Brush
This was, by far, my most used brush of the year. I use this brush every day to do my eye makeup looks - even if I'm going for the 'no-makeup' makeup look, I use this brush to put subtle contour through my crease for definition. LOVE it. Have yet to find a more affordable alternative that works better.
My blog post on this:

Alba Botanica Hawaiian Hibiscus Facial Toner
This stuff has honestly changed my life. My skin is so smooth, refined and toned. I love the way this makes my skin feel hydrated and squeaky clean. It really improves the texture of my skin, as well as reducing the frequency and severity of my breakouts. I really recommend you try this out if you have a chance! One of my holy grail items - I am not found without it. Love!
My blog post on this:

These have been my most used and most loved products of 2011. There are so many products that I enjoyed, bought, or used frequently throughout the year, but these are my 'BEST OF.' My most treasured and valued items from the year all rolled into one blog post.

Tell me, what were your favorites of 2011!?!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Hoof Hands: Nail Strengthening Cream Hard as Hoof

I purchased a 1 oz (28.35 g) tub from WalMart for $7.48 CDN.

This is a white cream with a dense butter-like consistency. It is labelled as having a "cherry almond" scent. The scent is absolutely delicious - my husband always says he wants to eat it, that's how good it smells. It's not too overpowering, however, because after you rub it into the skin - the scent fades into the background and it's hardly noticeable anymore.

It comes in a white plastic pot with a screw on lid. It's definitely small enough to throw in your purse and go, or to keep on your nightstand next to your bed. It's incredibly portable and discrete - not too big or clunky. It can go with you wherever you want it to go.

It doesn't require a lot of product to rub into all ten of your finger nails and cuticles. It's not oily or greasy, but absorbs quickly into the skin. It's recommended that you massage this into your nail beds, cuticles and undersides of your nails 3 times a day.

This cream gives rapid relief to my dry, uncomfortable skin. I often use it as an all over hand cream when my hands are dry and irritated, though the butter consistency often warms to a very thin cream, so it's not very thick on the skin. It's very easy to spread and absorbs incredibly quickly.

It's marketed as a nail strengthening cream, and I would have to say 100% that this stuff does the job. My nails stop breaking, chipping, peeling, bending - you name it. After just a couple of uses (mind you, using it everyday...), you can start to see an improvement in the resilience, condition and strength of your nails. It's quite miraculous.

I love this cream - all year round. It really keeps my nails strong and healthy, and prevents my cuticles and hands from getting too dry.

While it isn't exactly 'cheap' to buy a 1 oz tub for about $8, it is an incredible investment, and one jar of this goes a really long way, even with regular use every day.

I thoroughly enjoy this cream and highly recommend it to everyone. Especially if you're suffering from dry hands, cuticles or brittle nails. This cream can do it all, and you'll see improvement in a matter of uses.

Definitely 5 out of 5 stars.
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Have you tried this cream? What do you think about it??

Friday, January 13, 2012

My new jewellery find!

Today I needed to stop at Zellers to pick up a box of envelopes. As I walked through the store to get to the elevator, I came across a table with boxes of necklaces all over them. I don't know why I walked over to the table, to be quite honest. I usually dash for the makeup aisles, never to the jewellery, unless I'm bored or I'm shopping for something specific. Nonetheless, I browsed.

The first box I saw caught my attention immediately. It was a monogram necklace with a large silver letter pendant. The font of the monogrammed pendant is very much similar to the "Old English Text MT" in Microsoft Word. So I sifted though all the boxes and found - much to my delight, a "R"!

The pendant is made of a heavy metal. It's not the best quality, but I really love it all the same. The chain isn't that great either, but it suits its purpose. I don't know what brand this necklace is, as there wasn't any company name on the box or on the tags. The chain can be adjusted to various lengths, which is a really convenient feature.

I love that the pendant is heavy enough to stay flat. It doesn't twist around or flip itself backwards, but stays right-side-up all day long. It's also heavy enough that it keeps the chain relatively still - you don't have the clasp twisting around to the front of your neck nearly as quickly as with other necklaces. Don't misunderstand however, this necklace is by no means 'heavy.' It doesn't weigh down on your neck or feel uncomfortable, it's just more weight-y than other necklaces of the like.

This necklace retailed for $5.97 before GST, which is quite a bargain if you ask me. I really enjoy this find, as I'm addicted to monogrammed necklaces of all sorts. It's so beautiful and elegant. Big enough to be a statement piece, but not too big as to overwhelm the simplest of outfits.

My face was having some issues with blemishes today...
but at least the necklace looks great!

A close up of the pendant.
Where do you get your favorite jewellery from? Are you more of necklace, bracelet, ring or earring person?


Urban Decay Primer Potion in Original

I have been buying Urban Decay's primer potion for about 4 years now. Back in the day, it cost $18 CDN for a 10 mL bottle - today it costs $22 CDN. I purchase this product from Canadian Sephora stores, but it's also available from as well as

The product USED to come packaged in a purple 'genie' bottle, with a doe-foot applicator. In 2011, however, Urban Decay repackaged their beloved primer into a more functional and practical squeeze tube. The product is a thin cream-like consistency, it is 'flesh-colored,' but dries invisible on the eyelids - so it is perfect for anyone of any skin color. The primer is available in colored formats too (Sin and Eden), but I prefer the original.

Using the primer once a day, every day, it lasts me approximately 4 months, before I need to purchase a new bottle.

This is an absolute miracle for eyeshadow wearers. Using this product underneath your eyeshadows not only makes your eyeshadows appear brighter on the eye, but it prevents creasing on the eyelid and fading of eyeshadow colors. It also helps with the blending process, making it easier to create flawless makeup looks. If applied close to the lash lines, it prolongs the wear of your eyeliner, whether liquid, gel, or pencil. It also provides a base for eyeshadows (loose or pressed) to stick to, and prevents excessive fallout.

In my opinion, the only downside to this product WAS its packaging. While the genie bottle was absolutely adorable, it was a pain in the butt. When you start pulling out the wand, and you aren't getting any more product, you would assume that means it's time to throw it out and buy a new bottle. Not so. Because of the shape of the bottle, LOTS of product gets trapped around the bulges, where the wand cannot reach, and so you must 'depot' your primer potion. There are many videos on YouTube for how to do this. Simply put, you cut open your bottle in two places, and scoop out the leftover product and place it in a small container for your use. Over time, the potion dries out and becomes more of a paste-like consistency, and when it becomes too dry and thick to use anymore, I go out and buy myself a new bottle.

However, this is no longer a problem - so it is definitely worth the $22.

By splurging on this product, I would argue that you can purchase cheap, drugstore makeup and use it as opposed to buying more high-quality, expensive makeup, such as MAC, Stila, Urban Decay, etc. This primer potion makes the most of even the cheapest eyeshadow (NYC, Maybelline, CoverGirl, NYX, Annabelle, etc.) and really takes a low-end eyeshadow above and beyond expectations.

I would highly recommend this to anyone who is interested in starting to explore and experiment with makeup. You don't need to purchase expensive makeup to get high-quality results. I would argue that you only need UDPP (Urban Decay Primer Potion) and you can use anything and make it look like a million bucks.

Definitely a must-have in everyone's makeup kit.

I can now proudly award it 5 out of 5 sparkling stars.
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Have you found a cheaper alternative to the infamous Urban Decay Primer Potion?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

China Glaze Nail Polish in Aqua Baby

I received this nail polish as a gift from my in-laws for Christmas, so I don't know how much exactly it was or from where it was purchased. China Glaze polishes come in a 14 mL (0.5 fl oz) bottle, which contain slightly less than a bottle of Orly nail polish.

This polish is a medium blue, just in between teal and cerulean. There is a hint of green in it, but [to me, at least] it's definitely more blue than green in nature. It is a creme finish and has no shimmer or glitter in it. My husband told me last night that this was an "Easter" color, not a winter color, which made me giggle. This should give you an idea of the vibrancy and pigmentation of this color. It's definitely one geared towards spring and summer.

Aqua Baby has a most interesting consistency. The first coat is half opaque and half sheer - it's very difficult to get an even color consistency across the entire nail, even if you're applying a heavy handed first coat. This polish definitely takes a good two or three coats to reach full opacity and to fill in all of the unevenness that the first few coats can leave.

I do not have problems with streaking, although I do need to be exceptionally careful during application to make sure I don't leave any parts of the nail more sheer than any others. This tends to be most problematic near the edges and tips of the nail.

My biggest quip with this polish is the wear time. I applied three coats Tuesday night and topped it with a generous layer of Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat. By yesterday morning, I was already starting to see wear on my index fingers and by mid-day there was chipping on the very tips of several of my other nails. Today, large chunks are missing off the tips of my nails - definitely not attractive.

Without flash.
With flash.
I allowed for significant amounts of drying time, just because I'm so OCD about smudging and chipping with my nails, but this polish just didn't seem to want to last.

Not a very attractive manicure, if you ask me.
Ugh. So much chipping...
After removal, my nails do show a little bit of staining (even with a base coat preceding the color) - a very mild blue tinge which easily comes off after several washes. It is certainly not the worst staining a polish of mine has done to my nails, but by no means is it non-existent either.

I've read that several people had issues with the drying time on this polish, but I did not. It dried just and quickly and easily as any other China Glaze polish I own, if not faster than the average polish I own.

I do enjoy the color of this polish - it's like nothing else I own. Perhaps I will keep this as a toenail polish, however, just because my toes seem to show less wear and tear than do my fingernails. I can't stand my polish chipping or smudging, and when I see signs of wear - I am compelled to take it off, so I don't know if this one will make a reappearance on my fingernails again any time soon. We'll have to see.

By no means is this one of China Glaze's 'better' polishes. I have several others that I'd reach for long before I'd make a grab for this one, just because of the issues with the wear time and application, however, you might find that you really love the consistency and that it doesn't show significant wear for you. I just think you could find something better before purchasing this one :)

Overall, 2 out of 5 stars.
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What's your favorite China Glaze polish??

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

ELF Studio Powder Brush

I purchased this brush at Winners for $7.99 CDN, discounted or marked down from $15.99 originally. They're also available on, for $3.00.

According to, this  "anti-bacterial, synthetic haired Taklon brush is softer and more absorbent and can be used with wet or dry products." It's also supposed to be "vegan friendly."

The brush is completely black, from the bristles to the handle. Even the ferrule is black. There is simple white font on the handle of the brush listing the company name and the type of brush it is. It does not mention that it's from the "Studio" collection, however. The brush is a little bulky, but by the weight of it, it feels of decent-to-good quality. It sits comfortably in my hand and is easy to manoeuvre and use without feeling too heavy or awkward.

The bristles are densely compacted, tapered near the ferrule but flaring out towards the top of the brush. The brush top is flat and dense, but incredibly soft. As far as brushes of any brand go, this one is the softest I own.

I've had no issues with shedding, AT ALL - which is saying something, especially for previous blush/powder brushes I've tried.

This is the first ELF brush I've owned, and I've heard mixed reviews about them in the past. Some say "you get what you pay for" while others rave about how amazing these inexpensive brushes are. I've never had reason to purchase them until I stumbled across this one absent-mindedly one day while returning some nail polish.

This brush is by far my current favorite for applying my foundation. Regardless of type (powder, liquid), I absolutely adore the finish this brush gives to my foundation. I am a huge fan of the 'Beauty Blender'esque sponge, and to date, it was my favorite medium for applying my foundation. It has been completely ousted by the ELF Studio Powder brush now.

This brush does not excessively absorb product - so it doesn't waste your precious products. The first time I tried it, I sort of freaked out, because as I dotted it into a blob of my NARS Sheer Glow foundation on the back of my hand, it seemed to just suck up into the brush and disappear. However, as I dabbed the foundation around my face, it was apparent that the foundation just looked like it disappeared into the brush, but it hadn't really.

It buffed my foundation BEAUTIFULLY into my skin. I've never had such an even and flawless application of my makeup. I'm able to stipple and buff liquid products and powder products into my skin effortlessly. I find that this brush applies my makeup so well that it minimizes the appearance of my pores, especially around my nose area where they are very pronounced. There are no streak lines or cakiness from this brush.  My foundation looks so amazing - like it's 'my skin but better.' It gives my skin a perfect base to apply bronzer and blush to - I've never had such a flawless canvas to apply my makeup to. It's so wonderful.

The brush gives pretty decent coverage with regards to foundation. I'd say it's about a light-medium to medium coverage, but it's definitely buildable in any case. It makes my foundation go pretty far, in terms of how much I use. I use more foundation than with a damp Beauty Blender, but less than with a traditional foundation brush. Same goes for bronzer and blush. A little bit goes a long way with this brush, but it's so easy to blend it out if you've applied too much.

Because of the chiselled edge of the brush, it's easy to apply bronzer to the hollows of the cheekbones. It's a little more difficult to manoeuvre to apply blush, just because of the sheer surface area of the top of the brush, but it's still functional in a pinch.

One minor hang up I have with this brush is the size. Because it's so big, it's a little difficult to reach areas like the undereyes and around the nose. It is possible to use the edges of the brush for this area, but it is more difficult than using a slimmer, more compact brush like the Quo Precision Foundation brush. All the same, it's also the size of this brush that makes it quick and easy to apply foundation or powder all over the face in a speedy, efficient amount of time. It covers so much area in so little time, applying foundation is going to be your shortest expenditure of time now.

This brush is great for everyday - totally versatile. On the average day, I use this brush to first apply and blend my liquid foundation and concealer, then to set it with a powder. Occasionally, I also use this brush for bronzer. It would be great to use this on those days when you're not wanting to do a lot for your makeup - a few quick swipes of this through your favorite powder foundation, buffed all over your face, will give you a quick and polished look before you head out the door. It's sort of that "one brush" that does it all, and that's why I love it.

I cannot sing the praises of this brush enough. My one quip is the price inconsistency between buying this in my local Winners for $8, and seeing that it's $3 on the ELF website. Definitely not digging that, however, barring that - this brush is a must have for everyone in my opinion. It's so versatile - it makes blending liquids and powders a dream, and you'll never regret it once you see the flawless application it gives you.

A huge 5 out of 5 stars for this one.
* * * * *

Have you tried any other ELF brushes? Do you love or hate them?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Live Clean Exotic Nectar Argan Oil Restorative Conditioning Mask

This retails for approximately $5-$8 CDN anywhere Live Clean products are sold. I pick mine up from London Drugs or WalMart. The bottle holds 200 mL (or 6.7 US fl oz) of product.

I bought this after falling head over heels in love with the Live Clean Exotic Nectar Argan Oil Restorative Conditioner, and wanted to see if the rest of the products in the line were as good as the conditioner was.

This conditioning mask is supposed to revitalize hair and restore shine, softness and manageability. According to Live Clean, regular use can help restore elasticity to hair and re-build strength. The argan oil enhances the product for long-term conditioning, shine and UV protection. The mask contains certified organic grape seed and olive oils, as well as 100% pure argan oil. It is 97% plant derived, phthalate and paraben free.

The product is a thick white cream - not so much as paste, like other hair masks are. It has the consistency of a thick (regular) conditioner. If you've tried the Live Clean Exotice Nectar Argan Oil Restorative Conditioner, this is significantly more thick than that.  This product has a similar scent to that of the other Argan Oil products from Live Clean - a nutty, vanilla scent that I cannot get enough of.

It comes in a squeeze tube, with a cap that snaps open and shut. This makes it incredibly easy to dispense the amount of product you want. It's also extremely convenient to use in the shower.

One bottle of this lasted me about 10-15 uses, I'd say, depending on how much you use. You're not supposed to use it every day, but rather one to three times a week (though it doesn't explicitly say on the bottle what the most effective timeline for use would be). I'd use it off and on when I felt like treating my hair to something extra special.

The directions on the bottle explain that the conditioning mask should be liberally applied to damp/wet hair and left to sit for 15 minutes, to allow the product to absorb and condition the hair. I applied this mask from roots to ends, making sure my hair was covered in a very thick coat of the product.

Most frequently, I'd use this while I was taking a bath and shaving my legs - I'd shampoo my hair first and rinse it out, and then apply the mask to my hair and let it sit for 15-30ish minutes while I shaved my legs and soaked in the tub. Sometimes I'd just do it as a special hair treatment, and would wash my hair in the bathroom sink, then apply the conditioning mask to my hair and put a plastic shopping bag over top to seal in the heat and humidity. After 15 minutes (or so) you're supposed to rinse out the product, and style your hair as usual.

Like I said earlier, I'd usually leave this in longer than 15 minutes, because I felt that my hair was better conditioned the longer I left it on for. I'd let my hair air dry after rinsing the mask out and towel drying my hair. I'd usually use this mask on days when I wasn't going out or needing to style my hair, because I wanted the benefits of the mask to better penetrate my hair and last longer, than by immediately applying heat and styling products to it.

After my hair was dry, you could immediately sense the enormous benefits of this mask. The results included touchably smooth hair, less frizz, beautiful shine (not to be confused with greasy or oily shine), and a feeling of weightlessness. My hair wasn't necessarily weighed down or plastered to my head by the conditioning nature of the mask, but my roots did lack considerable volume from the hydration, and the lack of heat to dry my hair. Usually, I didn't care about this, since I wasn't going to style my hair anyways.

I don't know if this is necessarily the 'best' mask you can get from the drugstore, but it's certainly one of my favorite hair products. I used my entire first bottle, and am waiting for a sale to pick up a new tube. I feel like this product significantly improves the condition of my hair, and I love the way my hair is so smooth and soft afterwards.

I would highly recommend this to anyone noticing that their hair needs an extra boost of conditioning. It's a great, affordable product that I think everyone should try!

Definitely 5 out of 5 stars.
* * * * *

Have you tried any of the Live Clean products? What do you think of this "Exotic Nectar Argan Oil" collection??

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ardell Brow Sculpting Gel

I purchased this product at London Drugs, however I think it can be purchased most anywhere Ardell products are sold. I don't remember how much it cost me at the time, but I know it was somewhere between $4 and $6 CDN. The tube contains 7 mL or 2.5 fl oz of product.

According to, this gel is "a lightweight gel formula that keeps unruly brows in place. Contours and defines brows while providing all-day hold and conditioning. The precision mascara wand applicator shapes brows beautifully for a full and natural-looking brow."

I am reviewing the clear brow gel. It comes in a transparent tube, with a silver wand and large mascara spoolie for application. However, Ardell also markets an Almost Black and Light Brown formula of this brow gel as well. I can't speak as to the pigmentation or application of the colored gels, but I assume that they would follow (somewhat) along the same lines, performance-wise, as the clear gel.

I bought this product after I shaved off part of my one eyebrow early in 2011, and wanted something to help set the brow powder that I was using so it would last all day. I had never used a brow gel before, and had no idea of what to expect.

My brows are pretty thick, and for the most part stay in place pretty well. So my only real need for the gel was to keep the powder I applied in place. As far as that went, this product performed pretty well. I didn't notice my brow powder moving at all or fading significantly during the day. This gel, on me, didn't dry my brows crusty, but it really clumped them together and made them more dense and crunchy feeling than normal - personally, I wasn't really digging that look.

Not wanting to throw out the product I'd paid good money for, I tried it on my sister, because she has unruly brows that don't stay in place. For her, this seemed to work fantastically. On my sister's brows, Ardell's Brow Sculpting Gel held them in place for most, if not all, of the day. This gel does not leave your brows crunchy or stiff, but allows for a flexible, natural-looking hold. It does not flake off or leave visible residue on your skin or brow hairs.

The large mascara spoolie is helpful for coating one's entire brow in one sweep, and the tapered tip makes precision work a lot easier. The spoolie bristles are not too rough or abrasive, but are very soft and flexible - this is very nice when you're combing the wand through your brows - it doesn't scratch or irritate the skin surrounding it.

It dries transparent and does not add any color to one's brows. The gel is very thin and light in consistency, not necessarily watery, but it is incredibly lightweight. It does not dry rapidly, but doesn't take an eternity either.

For me, personally, this product was a waste of money. Because of the stiff, stay-in-place nature of my brows, this did nothing but help prolong the wear of a brow powder that I no longer use. It was pointless to add product to hold my brows in place, especially when they didn't need holding anyways. For my sister, however, this was a very helpful, practical product for her to have and use. It kept her unruly, untamed eyebrows in check in a natural, comfortable way.

I can't really speak to the 'conditioning' claim that Ardell makes about this gel. I suppose if you had very dry, brittle eyebrows, with time you might see an improvement in the condition and/or longevity of your brows - however, I never noticed a difference. As well, while some other brow gels might be somewhat drying or taxing to the health of your brow hairs, this product may not - hence the claim that it 'conditions.'

As for the price, it's incredibly affordable and it's conveniently accessible for most anyone in range of a drugstore or WalMart.

Overall, I'd rate this product more highly, just because of what I know about it and how it performs. Just because brow gel isn't something I need or would use, doesn't deter from the fact that this is actually a decent brow gel as a whole. If you were looking for a brow gel to try out, I would definitely recommend this one :)

4 out of 5 stars.
* * * *

Do you need to use brow gel as part of your every day routine? What gel do you prefer to use??

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Overview: Quo brushes

Quo is the Shoppers Drug Mart 'house' brand, and to my knowledge, this brand is only available at Shoppers Drug Mart stores in Canada.

There are about 25+ brushes available, varying in style and cost. The collection of assorted brushes is made from synthetic or natural fibers. All of my Quo brushes have the traditional silver handle, silver ferrule and white lettering, not to be confused with the newer Quo Professional collection of makeup brushes with the black handles.

My collection of 12 brushes.
Not pictured here: Bronzing Powder Brush.

1. Crease Shadow Brush. 4 stars (* * * *)
The crease shadow brush retails for $13 CDN.
This is one of my most favorite brushes from Quo, hence the reason I own two of them. It's an incredibly soft tapered blending brush made from natural fibers, which is excellent for work in the crease or just blending out any powder product in general. It is my most reached for brush, because it applies and blends my crease shadow colors effortlessly.
I have used this brush for use with cream and liquid products, specifically concealer for undereyes and blemishes; however, I find that since it is made of natural fibers, the longevity and quality of the brush deteriorates with continual use. I found that the one brush I used with cream or liquid products now sheds substantially in comparison to it's sister brush that I use only for powder products, which does not shed at all. I would recommend sticking with powder products, or having two of these brushes on hand - one for use with powders and one for use with creams/liquids, and be prepared for the latter to wear out a lot faster than the former.
Overall, an excellent brush - definitely a must-have!

The top brush (with the pink on the handle) is my 'powder-only' brush,
and the bottom brush is my 'cream-and-liquid-only' brush.
You can see the difference between  them - the top brush is a lot more sculpted and dense,
whereas the bottom brush is more worn, thinner, and less sculpted in shape.

2. Ultra Fine Eye Liner Brush. 4 stars (* * * *)
The ultra fine eye liner brush retails for $13 CDN.
This brush looks a lot like the Quo concealer brush. It is very dense and very stiff. The bristles are made of natural fibers and are densely clustered into a stiff, thin and flat precision brush. The hairs are rounded near the top, coming to (almost) a point.
The brush is great for applying powder and gel/cream liner, and does a very respectable job of making thin or thick lines, depending on the amount of pressure one applies and the way one holds the brush. I would say that this is not THE best liner brush of it's category, as I'm sure there are variations by other brands that produce even smaller and finer brushes, but this brush is great for the price and definitely beneficial to own.
Occasionally, I use this brush as a shader brush - because it works great for applying concentrated shadow under the brow or in the inner corner/tear duct.
Note: this brush is made of natural hairs, so while it works decently with cream and/or gel products, it does not work as effectively as a synthetic brush would, nor does it clean as easily as a synthetic brush would.
Again, not a must-have, but definitely a great bargain for what you're getting and it's very useful to have on hand.

3. Angled Eye Liner Brush. 2 stars (* *)
The angled eye liner brush retails for $13 CDN.
I bought this brush after desiring a new utensil with which to apply my gel eyeliner. It was during this time that angled liner brushes were becoming all the rage, and I thought I'd try my hand at them.
Overall, I don't like this brush at all. The brush is bent at the end, and has a thin cylindrical cluster of bristles at the end - it's this bend in the brush that makes it ideal for applying liner in the inner and outer corners of the eye, with less awkward hand movements. It's made of synthetic fibers which make it excellent for use with cream and liquid products, but instead of being very fine and stiff, this brush is much thicker and fluffier than it should be. Because it is not small or fine enough, it does not create thin precise lines. I find it difficult to control and manoeuvre this brush because of it's size.
I think that if this brush were smaller and more compact, this would be a great brush - especially for the price. The angled shape of the brush allows for easy access to both sides of the eye, as well as making it easy to handle for precision work. However, this brush falls short because of it's design - it's too fluffy, and not small enough for the job. On the upside, this brush has never lost any fibers or bled any dye on me.
I would pass this brush by and find a better alternative elsewhere.

4. Liner/Brow Brush. 3 stars (* * *)
The liner/brow brush retails for $13 CDN.
This brush is your typical angled brush, most commonly used for filling in eyebrows and/or applying eyeliner to the top lashline. As far as angled brushes go, it's pretty standard - not exceptionally special, but not unforgettable either.
The brush, once again, is made of natural fibers, so it works best with powder products. I have used it with cream and gel products, and it held up pretty well, considering. I have had absolutely no trouble with this brush shedding or bleeding dye.
This brush is a little thicker and bigger than the typical angled brush. Depending on what your preference is, this can be a good or bad thing. If you have larger brows that require less precision when filling in, or if you want thicker lines when lining your eyes right off the bat instead of building them up, then this is the brush for you - otherwise, I'd say it's a brush you could get completely out of convenience, over quality or practicality. I feel that, personally, I would prefer a thinner, more streamlined, brush.
Overall, I would say that it's a decent brush, and that if it's the most accessible brush to you, pick it up. Otherwise, I'd find a smaller, thinner brush to do the job.

5. Eye Smudger Brush. 3 stars (* * *)
The eye smudger brush retails for $13 CDN.
I personally never found a use for this brush, and never picked it up until recently, when there was a 20% off sale on Quo brushes at Shopper's Drug Mart. I rarely smudge shadow on my lower lashline, so I didn't really see the purpose in picking up this brush until after I bought it.
This brush is made of natural fibers - the fibers are short and stubby and densely packed for easy blending and smudging. As far as smudger brushes go, this one has slightly longer bristles than others I've come across. In this way, I wouldn't necessarily say that it's 'the best' for smudging product, though it does the job nicely anyways. I have not had problems with shedding or bleeding dye either which is a bonus.
I use this brush to pack shadow on top of eyeliner to set it, and occasionally use the brush to smudge out the liner on my top lash line. And, on those occasions when I don't have a clean brush handy, I even use it as a shader brush for packing color on my lid.
Overall, this brush doesn't get a whole lot of use for me. I find myself grabbing for it a handful of times a month at best. If you're one who likes to smudge out their lash line shadow/pencil, or if you need a very tiny shader brush, this might be worth investing in. Either way, you could probably get away with overlooking it entirely.

6. All Over Shadow Brush. 5 stars (* * * * *)
The all over shadow brush retails for $13 CDN.
This is my other most favorite and most used brush from Quo. It, also, is made of natural fibers. It is a wide-shaped brush with short, condensed, and graduated bristles. This works effortlessly to apply shadow all over - from the lash line to the brow bone, but also works perfectly to blend crease shadows, as well as for apply brow highlighter.
Most commonly, I use this brush for brow highlight/above-the-crease blending. It is especially useful for those very stubborn crease colors which refuse to blend evenly. Because of its condensed and shortened hairs, it picks up enough product for one application, and it's uniform shape allows for precision with applying highlight just beneath the browbone.
I would highly recommend this brush to everyone. It's one of the most inexpensive brushes you can buy from Quo, and its usage can never be exhausted. It does not shed or bleed dye, and dries quickly. An absolute must-have!

7. Crease Blender Brush. 3 stars (* * *)
The crease blender brush retails for $13 CDN.
This brush is made of natural fibers, and mimicks the shape and style of the MAC 219 Pencil brush. Unfortunately, this brush is far from being a true pencil brush. It is very short and somewhat tapers into a point, but it is not small enough in diameter or compact enough for precision blending. I find this brush most useful for applying color to the outer-v and for smudging out liner on the upper lash line. Because of it's sheer size, it's rather abrasive and difficult to manoeuvre around the lower lash line.
I have had no problems with shedding or bleeding of dye with this brush whatsoever.
I wouldn't say that this brush is a must-have, but it's definitely useful for more dramatic and smokey looks. It's more of a personal preference, whether or not you have it.

8. Concealer Brush. 2 stars (* *)
The concealer brush retails for $13 CDN.
This brush is made of natural fibers, but is very tiny. It looks almost identical to the Ultra Fine Eye Liner brush, except that it is more flexible, and has more bristles that are not quite as densely compacted.
As far as concealer brushes go, this one is incredibly strange. It is VERY small. This brush is mostly good at applying concealer to small areas, such as blemishes or around the nose. It is not a very flexible brush, so it is not at all good for blending concealer - this brush is only really good at applying the concealer to a spot, which then needs to be blended out with a brush or one's fingers.
Because it is made of natural fibers, the brush retains a lot of cream or liquid product. It needs to be washed very frequently to cleanse the bristles, especially if you're switching between concealers.
I find this brush almost pointless, because it's so small. You can't blend with it, so you're having to use a second brush or your fingers to smooth the product out. At that rate, I'd rather just use a different brush all together, or just resort to using my fingers. I have found use for it, however, as a small eyeshadow brush. It works great for inner corner work, or applying highlight just underneath the eyebrow.
Also, this brush has shed on me - not crazy amounts or anything, but I have had fibers come loose from the ferrule and deposit themselves on my face after applying my concealer. It hasn't bled when I've washed it.
All in all, if you're looking to use this brush for concealer, I'd stay away. It's definitely not worth the money - you can find better elsewhere.

9. Bronzing Powder Brush. 3 stars (* * *)
The bronzing powder brush retails for $22 CDN.
This brush is a large duo-fiber brush, with black bristles that graduate into white bristles at the top of the brush. It is a tapered brush that flares out to have a flat top. This brush can be used for a variety of things. Primarily, I used it for applying bronzer, blush, or foundation.
As a bronzer/blush brush, this particular version was particularly difficult to work with. Because of it's sheer size, it did not fit into the contours of my face and more than covered my cheek area in product. Quite often when I wanted to use it for bronzer, I had to pinch the bristles together to create a more streamlined brush that deposited the color precisely where I wanted it, and then used the brush as normal to blend the product out. In a pinch, it worked for applying blush too, but it definitely was not my first choice.
As far as this kind of duo-fiber brush goes, it was not very dense either. This made it less ideal for blending powder products because it was so light, it barely pushed the product around in an efficient manner. One would spend twice the time blending that a smaller, more compact brush would have allowed for.
My favorite use for this brush was with foundation. I would apply a blob of liquid foundation to the back of my hand, and then dot my brush in the foundation and place a few blobs of foundation around my face with the brush. I would then use my brush to stipple the foundation around my face and blend it in with circular motions. This gave a very airbrushed appearance to my foundation. Once again, it was great because it was not very dense to get a light application of product, but it wasn't very good for blending in the foundation after stippling it on.
If you're looking for a cost-effective duo-fiber brush like this one, I'd say get it. It's affordable and does the job; however, if you're looking for something a bit smaller and more dense, I'd stay away from this one. It's not very good for precision or blending, but it will work if you're looking for something affordable in a pinch.

No picture available. Sorry :(

10. Face Contour Brush. 4 stars (* * * *)
The face contour brush retails for $15 CDN.
This is another one of my most used brushes. It's a white angled brush made of natural fibers. It is excellent for applying contour powder, bronzer and blush. It's soft and of a decent density, so application of product and blending is done quickly, precisely and efficiently. It's small enough to apply product precisely to the hollows of your cheeks for conoutring, and yet fluffy enough to apply blush to the cheekbones and blending it out.
The only have two complaints with this brush: one is how it tends to splay out if you use it before it's completely finished drying after washing, and two is how after having this brush for two years, it's starting to shed on me. Definitely not a fan of that. However, the brush does clean very nicely and doesn't tend to shed too miserably during cleansing.
Overall, this is a cost-effective version of your standard angled contour brush. There certainly might be better versions of this brush available from other companies, but if you're looking for one that's easy on your wallet, this one does the trick.

My brush is a little dirty from being used earlier in the day,
but it always washes entirely clean.

11. Blush Brush. 1 star (*)
The blush brush retails for $17 CDN.
This is definitely my least favorite brush of the bunch. I bought it this past year, in hopes that I would find my perfect blush brush after having a less than stellar experience with a cheap WalMart blush brush.
At first it appeared to be everything I wanted and more - soft bristles to distribute product evenly, but gathered densely enough to blend powders thoroughly and flawlessly. It has dark natural fibers that are somewhat paddle shaped, with the bristles rounding out at the top. But here comes the horror - it sheds like nobody's biz-nass. No matter how many times I wash it, it leaves TONS of little black hairs all over my face every single time I use it. My husband's constantly picking the fibers off of me after I finish my makeup, despite the fact that I think I got them all of by doing a final sweep over my face with a large fluffy brush that does not shed.
In addition, the first ten times I washed it, it bled dye. The water was constantly a greeny brown color. Not overly desirable when you're putting that thing up against your face every day.
I would not recommend this brush to anyone. I don't know if it was just mine that has the crazy shedding problem, but I wouldn't want anyone to waste their money on this brush only to find out that it did.

12. Precision Foundation Brush. 4 stars (* * * *)
The precision foundation brush retails for $22 CDN.
It is my most recent purchase, and while I don't know that it was necessarily a 'need,' it has quickly found a place in my top 5 Quo brushes.
This brush is made of synthetic fibers, which are densely packed into a graduated point for precision application. Because the brush is synthetic, it works best with cream and/or liquid products, especially foundation and concealer. This brush does not shed or bleed dye, it rinses clean easily but is one of the more slowly drying brushes in my collection because of the densely packed bristles. This brush almost has a 'duo-fiber' look to it, with creamy tan bristles at the bottom fading into a softer gray bristle near the top, or point, of the brush.
I use this brush primarily for concealer and foundation, at the moment. For use with concealer, I apply the product directly to my skin, and then use the tip of the brush to pat and/or blend the concealer into the skin. The synthetic fibers do not absorb a lot of the product, but rather blend it easily into the skin. When using with foundation, I also apply the product directly to the skin, and then use the brush in circular motions to buff the product into my skin. The pointed tip makes it especially easy to reach areas around the nose, eyes, etc. This brush creates a heavier application of foundation, but does not leave streaks, lines or cakiness.
I have used this brush with powder also - mostly to buff powder foundation into the skin, or to set my undereye concealer. It also works well in this method, though I prefer other brushes for these methods.
Overall, if you're looking for a new foundation brush - I would highly recommend you give this a try. It's definitely not for everyone, and it is not a must-have. It's nice to have on hand, but I wouldn't encourage you to jump out your door and pick it up right now.

My Top 5 Must-Haves (in no specific order)
#1. <u>Crease Shadow Brush</u>
#2. <u>All Over Shadow Brush</u>
#3. <u>Ultra Fine Eyeliner Brush</u>
#4. <u>Face Contour Brush</u>
#5. <u>Precision Foundation Brush</u>

Overall, I'd say this is a very respectable line of brushes. Are they the best? No. Are they good quality? Reasonably so. Are they affordable? Yes.

I'd say if you're just starting out in makeup, or if you're looking for some affordable alternatives to expensive MAC or Sephora brushes, there are some really great options available to you from Quo. This is not to say, however, that you can't find cheaper, better quality brushes elsewhere (in fact, some of my most used brushes came from WalMart and were half the price of the Quo brushes).

I really enjoy my Quo brushes, save for the Blush brush and the Angled Eye Liner brush. For me, they were a huge waste of time and money. My expectations were too high, and I'm still on the hunt for better alternatives in that area.

I'd wait to pick up Quo brushes until Shoppers is having a sale. Usually you can find them anywhere between 20% and 40% off, and that's a really great time to buy them.

I hope you found this review/overview helpful and insightful. I sure wish that when I bought my Quo brushes, I had somewhere to look for thoughts on whether or not these brushes were worth purchasing or not - I might have saved myself some money on the few brushes that I hate or never use.

Let me know: have you tried any Quo brushes? Have you found better alternatives? Which one is your favorite??

Thursday, January 5, 2012

LOTD: Airport Aura

My best friend is coming to stay with my husband and I for a few days before returning back to University. So yesterday we picked her up from the airport. And by "we" I mean, my parents and I. The hubby was working late, so I needed to catch a ride with my Dad from work. Luckily, he works only a 15 minute bus ride away from my house. Wahoo!

Here's what I rocked yesterday:

I applied Urban Decay Primer Potion in Original from my lashline to my brow. Then, I applied Annabelle Smoothliner in Bronze to the outer half of each of my eyes and blended it out with my fingers. I topped the liner with the darker shade of the Prestige Brow Perfection Shaping Studio, and blended it out with the lighter shade and my Quo Crease Shadow brush. I applied the gold shade of the Clinique Color Surge Eyeshadow Duo in Beach Plum, on the inner third to half of the eye with a stiff shader brush. Under the brow, I used Annabelle Single Eyeshadow in 225 Ivory, with my Quo All Over Shadow brush.

For liner, I used Annabelle Smoothliner in Urban Jungle on the upper lash line to make a thick winged line, and used L'Oreal Carbon Black Lineur Intense (the brush tip) to make a thin line at the lash line.

I applied two coats of Maybelline Volum'Express One by One in Very Black to my lashes.

I applied Hourglass Mineral Veil Primer all over my face, and then applied NARS Sheer Glow Foundation in Siberia with the ELF Studio Powder Brush. To set the oily parts of my face, I used Maybelline Dream Matte Powder in Sand. I also used Garnier Nutritioniste Anti-Dark Circle Roller in Light under my eyes.

I applied MAC Bronzing Powder in Matte Bronze with my Quo Angled Contour brush to the contours of my face, and the matte coral pink shade from the Annabelle Playa Bronzer in Copacabana Glow on the tops of my cheekbones for blush, with my Quo Blush brush. With my fingers, I applied NARS Illuminator in Copacabana to the tops of my cheekbones as a highlight.

On my lips, I applied a light coat of some Blistex chapstick in Mint, and then applied NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Istanbul.


Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat

A 14 mL/0.5 fl oz bottle of the Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat costs me $11.99 CDN at my local London Drugs store. So far, that's the only place I have found in my area that sells it; however, I'm sure it's also available online. Mini 3.5 mL/0.125 fl oz bottles are also available, which are excellent for travel, to throw in your purse, or if you're looking for a cheaper way to try it out.

This product is a must have, in my opinion, for those nail polish junkies who are after long-wearing colors and designs, lightning fast dry time, and a glassy finish to their nails.

According to Seche's website, the top coat was formulated to "penetrate through nail lacquer to the base coat forming a single solid coating over the nail plate for a much more durable finish. Guaranteed not to yellow while leaving nails silky, stronger and resistant to chipping and peeling."

The product is fairly thick, not nearly as thin in consistency as many nail polishes are. When it's brand new, it's at it's thinnest, and as it ages and is exposed to air, it begins to thicken. By the time one reaches the end of their bottle, it becomes too thick to work with and one must throw it out before they've "hit bottom."

The top coat applies clear or transparent to any color or design. It dries almost completely within 60 seconds of applying, leaving your nails with a hard glassy finish.

I would recommend that you do not apply this top coat to wet/damp/drying nail polish, as it will smear and prolong the drying time. It's best to apply this top coat when the bottom layers are as dry as they can be, and this will ensure a longer lasting, chip-free wear. This is especially imperative with regards to nail designs that are very intricate and consist of multiple layers of nail polish. In order for these layers not to bleed or smear together, you must allow them to completely dry before applying your top coat to ensure the best possible finish.

The best way to apply this product is by getting some of the top coat on the brush, and starting in the bottom center of your nail, in one continuous stroke, brushing the polish from the bottom to the top of the nail. Then moving the brush to the bottom right or left of the nail and doing a continuous stroke upwards on each side. If you need to smooth out any rough patches, do so quickly before the top coat has a chance to dry completely.

Depending on the length of my nails (this works most effectively on longer nails), I will apply a very thin strip of top coat to the very tip/end of my nails to prevent against the daily wear and tear. I find that this significantly enhances the longevity of my nail art design.

With some finishes of polishes, mostly glitters, this top coat will mute the effect of the glitter. It will become less shiny and reflective, more dull in appearance. This does not occur with all polishes, but I have had this happen to me a few times.

A bottle will typically last me a few months, depending on how frequently I paint my nails. Some months, this is more frequent than others. Presently, this is THE BEST top coat I have come across. While it is more pricey, it is worth every last penny. My nail colors and designs last significantly longer with a coat of this protecting them than without. The shine is absolutely to die for, and after trying this, nothing will measure up.

My only complaints are as follows:
- How you never reach the end of the bottle before it starts getting thick, gloopy and hard to work with. I always throw out my bottle before I reach the very end of it, because it ruins more manicures this way.
- How expensive it is.
- How, occasionally, it can cause or exacerbate the peeling of nail polish from the edges of your nails and/or nail beds. In my experience, this is very rare and only occurs with certain polishes, but I have heard several complaints about this from other beauty gurus, YouTubers, etc.

However, these problems for me are so minute in comparison to the finished product that I will continue repurchasing until I find something better. If you haven't already, I highly suggest going out and trying out the Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat for yourself. I think you'll be glad you did :)

4 out of 5 stars.
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Have you found a 'dupe' to the Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat? Do you use a top coat on your nail designs??

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

L'Oreal True Match Super Blendable Foundation

This retails from anywhere between $9 and $16 CDN - depending on where you buy it and whether or not it was on sale that day. This is sold wherever you can purchase L'Oreal Paris cosmetics from. It comes in a 1 fl oz/33 mL bottle.

It is available in 18 different colors, ranging in cool (C), neutral (N) and warm (W) shades. It contains an SPF of 17 and claims to give a 'natural' finish via the micro-fine optical pearls which diffuse imperfections. It is marketed to all skin types, and has sheer to medium coverage. According to L'Oreal's website, it is "formulated with Precise Match Technology so you can control coverage and fine-tune it. Ultra-pure formula contains no oils, fragrances, or pore-clogging fillers, so all you see is beautiful, radiant, flawless skin." It also claims to be non-comedogenic, non-acnegenic, dermatologist tested and oil free.

The product comes in a round glass bottle with a silver twist-off cap. There is no pump, just the opening of the bottle to pour out the desired amount of product for your application.

The foundation is very runny, which makes it easy to apply a little (for sheer coverage) and build it up.

I bought this product on a whim last summer after hearing Kandee Johnson rave about how much she loved this foundation. I was looking for a dupe to my expensive NARS Sheer Glow Foundation, and thought that this would be a great place to start since it's supposed to give a natural, true matching finish to one's makeup that is buildable. Plus the SPF in it was appealing, especially for an 'everyday' foundation.

I originally purchased N1 - Soft Ivory, but quickly exchanged it for W1 - PorcelainN1 was too dark for me when I got it home, but W1 was pretty close to my skin tone - still a little yellow for me, but doable; especially if I didn't overapply or underblend. But still - it claims to be a 'true match'... and it fell short, especially on my pale skin.

Upon application, however, I noticed that the foundation had almost a shimmer to it. After blending, it looked like my face had been hit with a glitter bomb. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit, but my pores looked very exaggerated and large. My face appeared constantly shiny - and not just the 'oily' shiny, but the "I-have-sparkles-all-over-my-face" kind of shiny too. BLECH. It was probably all of those doggone "micro-fine" optical pearls - I wonder what L'Oreal's idea of "micro-fine" is...??

It was very blendable, like the name boasts though, so that wasn't a let down.

The foundation was extremely thick feeling on me - it did not sit lightly on top of my skin. I could feel it weighing down on me the entire time. It felt thick, tacky and waxy - like it was clogging off my pores with every minute I left it on. I can only assume this was a function of the SPF in it.

It didn't last at all on me. Within two hours (tops) the foundation had melted off my skin, transferring with every stroke of my hand or touch of my clothes. It was horrible. This was even after I had prepped my skin with a foundation primer and finished by setting it with a translucent loose powder.

The coverage was buildable, but because of it's crappy longevity, it didn't last long enough for me to really notice the effects of the coverage. It barely lasted long enough for me to get out the door...

For me personally, this was a bust. I didn't like the packaging, the formula, the finish, the price tag... I don't doubt that this works ingeniously for others out there, don't get me wrong. I just think it was a total waste of money and time for me. This ended up biting the garbage can after a few uses. It definitely wasn't worth keeping, since I knew that it was too uncomfortable and couldn't last long enough to even expend the effort.

Also, it's hard to find your 'true match' when you can't test the foundation in your drug store. At my store, only a few of the shades had testers available, and none of them were in my general shade range - so it was total guestimation for me (hence the reason I had to return my first bottle).

I wouldn't necessarily recommend this product to anyone. I didn't have a funtabulous experience with it, and so I wouldn't go running out and tell all of my friends to buy it. However, Kandee Johnson, as well as several other makeup artists and gurus, have sung the praises of it - so if it works for them, why wouldn't it work for you? If you end up hating it, you're not out that much money... but it's still a waste of time, effort and money. Personally, I just don't see the point, and wouldn't want anyone else out there to experience the disappointment that I did...

2 out of 5 stars.
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Have you tried L'Oreal's True Match foundation? How about any of their other "True Match" products?? What did you think of them??