Monday, March 30, 2009

Favorite Drugstore & High end Makeup Finds

I think the deciding factor between drugstore and department store makeup is figuring out what the most important function of your make up is for you, and going from there.

If you are looking for perfect coverage and buildability in your foundation - high end is the way to go because the lasting ability tends to be better than drugstore foundation. Although, find the right drugstore product for your skin and it'll work just as well. Foundation ultimately comes down to similar ingredients - just in varying amounts and potencies.

If you like to follow makeup trends, or if you like experimenting with your look every day - drugstore is the way to go because you can really build a wide array of colours on the cheap.

If you tend not to stray from 2 to 3 colours in your daily makeup (ie. grey eyeshadow, slate eyeliner and pink blush), consider looking at high end makeup because the quality tends to be more refined. This is important if you wear the same stuff every day.

Here's my general rule that I apply when I'm in the market for new makeup, and some brands I love:

Every-day mascara - drugstore (Rimmel Sexy Curves & L'Oreal Voluminous)
Evening/Special event mascara - Sephora (Fresh Supernova)
Mineral foundation - drugstore (Physicians Formula)
Liquid foundation for every day - drugstore (Revlon Colorstay)
Tinted moisterizer for summer - Sephora (Laura Mercier Tinted Moisterizer with SPF)
Concealer - MAC (Skinfinish concealer)
Eye pencil - drugstore (honestly, any of them do the trick especially in waterproof. Buy higher end if you're lining your waterline..for better staying power)
Blush - both! Just depends on my mood, Maybelline Mineral Blush & NARS
Eyeshadow - both! I use certain eyeshadow brands depending on the look I'm going for, Revlon, L'Oreal, NARS, MAC & Urban Decay
Skincare - both! The simpler the ingredients list, the better. ProActiv, Aveeno, Neutrogena, & MAC

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Spring Cleaning

I am writing this during the first spring rain of the year! It's a celebration, mostly because there's no chance it'll turn into snow.

That was a jinx if I've ever heard one.

I have the week off from work and decided to be a bit proactive today; I sorted through my closet, pulled out the heavy winter stuff, packed it away in vacuum bags and yanked out the spring. Fingers crossed this isn't premature.

I'd like to share the brilliant IKEA product that has saved me a lot of frustration - this is genius in it's plastic form:

2 Huge Vacuum sealable bags for around $8(CDN) that will fit 3 winter coats, or pillows, duvets, sweaters, hats, etc. Just genuis. All that is required is that your vaccuum have the suction tube function. I got SEVERAL packages, and they vary in size. Great value.

So after pulling stuff like this out of less-practical leaf bags from last spring/summer...

...I decided to look through my shoes and clothes and see what I needed for the upcoming pleasant weather: in short, I NEED A LOT! as per usual

A selection of shoes I have that have been hidden away...
Nude, 60's style heels
White canvas converse sneakers

Biker inspired lace-up boots..I wore these earlier this winter and want to get more wear out of them before it's double digit weather.
My Spring wish list...
And here's a youtube I did yesterday..a spring look. How many times can I say "spring"?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

All about Acne

Before you read ahead, I'd just like to emphasize that I'm not a trained professional cosmetologist or dermatologist - this information is based on first-hand experience and basic research. If you have concerns about your skin see a dermatologist or speak to a pharmacist - they can tailor treatment to suit your skin.

My experience with acne has been on-going since about the age of 15 or 16 (or earlier? I forget). I'd say I have average skin with occasional breakouts - probably about the same as most women my age. I can go for 2 months without seeing a spot, and then suddenly 2 or 3 (or more) pop up out of nowhere. I attribute this pattern to stress, diet and environment. Can you relate?

I wanted to make a post about this because I am currently in the "2 or 3 or more" phase. Fabulous! And I thought if I got everything down on paper..or you know, blog...then maybe I could get my skin back on track.

Firstly, acne and pimples are not a result of shady cleansing practices. The most festidious people can suffer from bouts of acne too. Acne is caused by many factors - many of which are not a direct result of cleansing practices. The best way to fight acne is prevention.

Here are the most common reasons for acne flare ups and random pimples:
  • genetic predisposition (ie. If your parents have/had acne, chances are, you will)

  • hormones

  • clogged pores (excess sebum and/or skin follicles blocking the pore)

  • bacteria
A pimple is an inflamed sebaceous gland (pore). There are different types of acne, but mainly they all consist of a clogged pore with too much sebum, resulting in bacteria. Bacteria infects the surrounding gland and is eventually worked out of the pore either by mother nature or you! This is why there appears to be a "life span" for pimples. We've all had that experience where we can "feel one coming", just like a headache.

Here's a diagram showing a healthy beginning and painful ending:

Types of Acne:

Open Comedone (blackhead)
Inflamed Papule
Pustule (whitehead)
Painful Nodular Cysts

There are 2 major routes you can go when trying to eliminate acne:
Topical Treatments (face cleansers, lotions, astringents, etc) and/or Systemic Treatments (hormonal pills, acne pills, etc)

When deciding what treatments to use make sure it will accomplish the following:

- Kill the bacteria
- Reduce unnecessary oils
- Unplug the pores
- Reduce inflammation

It's difficult to find a product that will do all 4, this is why it's important to use a couple of treatments at once, and to know when to use them - this is why a system like ProActiv is popular because it provides a solution to all 4 issues. However, your local drugstore has products that can accomplish this too.

How to heal and prevent acne:

  • Any product you put on your face must be "non-comedogenic" (does not aggrevate comedones, or black/white heads & is oil-free). New products will explicitly say "non-comedogenic" or "oil-free". This includes makeup and sunscreen.

  • Determine if you can treat your acne topically, or if you should consider a systemic treatment prescribed by a dermatologist. (People who suffer from cystic acne are most helped by acne pills/hormonal pills. Because the cyst is deeply embedded in the skin it's difficult to treat and prevent topically)

  • Be consistent! Don't stop treatment just because a) it's not working after 2 tries or b) it has worked and your skin is glowing. Acne is not curable - it can flare up again - but it is controllable.

  • Allow for 6-8 weeks before results can be expected. After this, consider different treatment.

  • Apply enough product, but not too much that it can't absorb.

  • Keep your hands away from your face. This is the fastest way to get Bacteria on your face and into your pores. If you insist on resting your chin/head on your hands (in class/at work) then use hand sanitizer like a fiend.

What ingredients to look for:

  • Benzoyl Peroxide: it has bleaching properties and therefore clears bacteria and acts as an anti-inflammatory. Not recommended for people with sensitive skin. When used in high doses it can irritate the skin causing redness and itching - it also might mean you're using too much.

  • Salycylic Acid: acts as a chemical exfoliant. It encourages dead skin cells to slough off, thereby curbing clogged pores.

  • Sulfer: absorbs excess oil and prevents blockage in pores.

  • AHA's (Alpha Hydroxy Acids): such as Salycylic Acid - chemical exfoliants that slough off dead skin cells and help fade scars.

  • Calming ingredients such as Green Tea, Witch Hazel, Chamomile, etc: These natural ingredients help reduce inflammation and redness.

Specific Products I like for Acne Treatment:

  • Neutrogena Acne Stress Foam Wash - contains salycylic acid and green tea. Great for oily skin and removing makeup
  • Neutrogena Acne Stress Cream Wash - contains salycylic acid and green tea. Great for combination to normal skin.
  • Clearisil Ultra Vanishing Cream - contains Benzoyl Peroxide and Glycolic Acid. Aleviates pain associated with pimples, will reduce size overnight.
  • Cetaphil - the entire line is perfect for a skincare regimen that uses strong topical or systemic treatments because it won't irritate sensitive skin.
  • ProActiv - contains Benzoyl peroxide, sulfer and skin calming ingredients - The renewing cleanser and the refining mask are my favorite from the system (the system works best with all 4 products). The cleanser has exfoliators in it that are fine enough to really slough off dead skin and makeup. The refining mask is an 8 hour wonder, it will visibly reduce size and redness in pimples overnight.

Aspirin Mask - A homemade skin treatment that works:

4-6 original uncoatedAspirin (Aspirin containts salycylic acid)

A teaspoon of water (enough to dissolve Aspirin but not liquify - you want a paste texture)

Honey (whicks away dirt and oil, acts as an anti-inflammatory and soothes skin)

Neosporin ointment (prevents infection and speeds healing)

Cortisone cream (decreases inflammation)

  1. Dissolve Aspirin tablets in enough water to create a mask-like texture
  2. Add a pea size of Neosporin and a pea size of Cortisone cream (skip both if you don't have it)
  3. Add enough honey to bind everything together
  4. Spread over entire face, making sure to work into acne affected areas. The aspirin grains should act as an exfoliant
  5. Let sit for 10 minutes or until dry
  6. Rinse off with tepid water

Final Notes on Acne:

- Cleanse skin twice a day - morning and night - to remove excess oils, dirt and makeup. If you do wear makeup, make sure you're taking the necessary steps to remove it. Cleansing with face wash is not enough - use a cotton ball soaked with makeup removing cream/lotion to remove foundation.

- Make exfoliating a ritual. Using a product like M.A.C's Microfine Refinisher (a very fine exfoliater) will leave your skin so soft. Over prolonged use it will dull wrinkles and acne scars. Doing this once or twice a week is enough.

- I personally do not think Astringents or Toners are necessary. I think they strip the skin too much and leave it tight. However, they are helpful to those with overactive sebum production and if you don't want to use a makeup remover, toners/astringent can do the trick.

- Change your pillowcase regularly. This is a breeding ground for bacteria and oil.

- Remember to use an SPF EVERY DAY, especially when using acne products. AHA's make the skin hyper-sensitive to the sun and its harmful rays!

Goodluck in your search for the best acne treatments for your skin. Remember that it's YOUR skin and you know your skin best. Test out different products but remember to read instructions and ingredients for best results.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Drugstore find & a Rant

In keeping with my recent post about tips to save money in the face of the crap economy, I'd like to share a little gem I stumbled upon recently. Also a brief rant about cosmetic prices to follow.

There seems to be two schools of thought when it comes to CoverGirl's Lash Blast; either you love it or you hate it. Have you tried it?

I hate it.
I found it lengthened, but didn't add any volume as it promised. It left my lashes stiff and I found the application process cumbersome. I hate that tube design.

Here is their marketing pitch:

Get a blast of lush, volumized lashes! LashBlast's patented volume-boosting formula and patent-pending brush are designed to max-out each and every lash, leaving you with the ultimate big lash look. Now in waterproof, too!
Now compare to:
CoverGirl's Lash Blast Luxe mascara - a recent launch:

The blackest-black LashBlast formula, now tinted with luxe shimmers. The giant Luxe brush helps blast lashes to their biggest, boldest, and most beautifully shimmering. In 4 shades that are ready to match your every mood.

I picked up this mascara on a whim because I was bored of DiorShow. I paid around $9 at Shoppers DrugMart for a tube of Black Emerald or something... the black/green shade, and I have been very impressed with the results. I think many adults will be turned off by the promise of "luxe shimmers" in the formulation, ie. glitter: However, I've found that the sparkle factor is minimal and most importantly it doesn't fall or flake after a few hours of wear (however, I have read online reviews that suggest this may not be the best mascara for contact wearers). Ultimately the "shimmer" is a marketing tactic, most likely to cover-up for the altered formulation.

It is clear that CoverGirl has improved the Lash Blast formulation and made it the voluminizing, dramatic mascara it was supposed to be all along. At least, this is my conspiracy theory. CoverGirl knows that people are less likely to buy something marketed as, "Try our NEW mascara, it's what the other one should have been!". Instead it's this, "The bottle is a different colour and there's sparkles in here! You'll love it!"

Sometimes it's more fun to embrace the tackiness of it all and try out a new product, even when you see through their million dollar marketing scheme: ultimately, glitter sells.

So, if you were intrigued by the original CoverGirl Lash Blast but thought the results fell flat, like I did. Then try Lash Blast Luxe. It's still in the most heinous mascara tube imaginable, but the bright pink colour of the tube, voluminizing formulation and unique brush override the transparent marketing tactics.

Check out my youtube channel for a brief review on CoverGirl Lash Blast Luxe, along with some other popular mascaras.

Alright, my RANT:

Firstly, I'm sick of walking into various Shoppers DrugMarts throughout Toronto and seeing $1-$5 price differences on the same products. I don't think it's fair for one Shoppers to sell their products for more based on some warped socio-economic survey they've conducted that justifies them selling a bottle of shampoo for $2 more because the surrounding neighborhood is in a higher tax-bracket or something. I rent, and do not appreciate this assumption that I can afford to spend $2 more.

This is the kind of thing that either forces me to go to WalMart and buy toiletries and makeup there, or on the flip-side, it justifies going to Sephora and M.A.C. more often because honestly for $2 more I can get a better product.

For instance, Shoppers Drug Mart is currently selling Maybelline Mineral Power Blush at several locations for $14.99

How does that make sense. $14.99???? For Maybelline???

Ok, Ok. So the "Loonie" sucks. I get it, we ship this stuff in from the States and then with the conversion rate it's practically double or triple the price that they pay for it at Target. So it's no wonder we're in a recession, because few people would shell out $15.74 (w/tax) for this stuff.

In no way am I suggesting that the slumping economy is because of Maybelline Mineral Power Blush being over-priced; but I am suggesting that it's this kind of insane, inconsistent pricing that makes consumers put their paycheques into their savings accounts and not into retail spending.

Which leads me to my final thought: WHEN BY ZEUS'S BEARD IS CANADA GETTING TARGET?!?!

For the sake of my spending habits, I hope soon.