Wednesday, May 31, 2006

And now, back to your regularly scheduled frivolity

Hey, you know how I don't watch reality TV? Another show that I "don't" watch is American Idol. Really, I could care less about it (especially after they booted the very hot, very talented Chris off the show!), but it's on after ANTM, and, well... you know all about that already.

So anyway, I caught this season's finale, and I've gotta say that it was pretty darn entertaining. Burt Bacharach! Prince!!! Di-onne frickin' Warwick!!!! They must have blown their budget for that one. I especially liked Taylor Hick's awkward-adolescent dancing with Toni Braxton. Po' Southern boy didn't know where to put his hands... Good TV fun!

The highlight of the evening though, was watching Michael Sandeki, the now-infamous Clay Aiken wannabe receive his "Best Impersonation" award. I mean, his whole-body reaction to Clay appearing on stage was pretty hilarious, but the funniest part was... Clay's hair. Windswept bangs! How en vogue of you, Clay! I remembered that when Season 2 of Idol was on (and, um, when I didn't watch that either), I could never look at Clay sing. I could either look at him with the TV on mute, or close my eyes and listen to him. But the full multi-modal experience gave me some major heebie jeebies. I was never sure why...

... Until that fateful moment when Clay stepped out on stage. It was then that I realized:

Clay Aiken and Lindsay Lohan are yet another pair of unholy cross-gendered clones*! My heebie jeebies were caused by the fact that a big male voice was coming from a little girl's face. *shudder*

Either Clay's stylist is doing a great job, or LaLohan's is doing a very poor one. Or maybe "The Parent Trap" was REAL, and there really WERE 2 little twin girls! Except one was a boy! Kind of!

Well, I'm off to proctor an exam! Why does that always sound so dirty???

* Ok, the pics don't do their freakish resemblance justice. But if you saw the show, you know exactly what I'm getting at.


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Rant or Rave? -- "Le bare face"*

So, there's been some buzz in the blog world about this article that the NY Times put out, illustrating the differences between how French women and American women wear makeup. The French seem to favour a barely-there, au naturale look... "le no makeup"** look. They arch their perfectly shaped brows and turn their smooth poreless noses up at us poor (North) Americans and our gaudily made up visages. Eyeshadow, blush, AND lipcolour? Oh the horrors!

Actually, despite my tone, I quite agree with some of what the article says. A lot of women and girls out there today do spackle on the maquillage, and there are few things more awkward to look at than an overly done face. But I can't help but question how relevant the French's opinion of our North American make up practices are? I mean, I LOVE the French... love the language, love the gorgeous cities, and LOVE the food. Lipstick-free kisses to you, France! But just pause for a moment and reflect:

Beauty trends are heavily influenced by what our celebrities du jour are doing, right? Brook Shields' brows, Gwen Stefani's bindis, Jessica Simpson's lips... we all play close, scrutinizing attention to these things. Even when we don't WANT to, we can't help but notice them -- their faces are plastered across billboards and magazines covers and even the nightly news. These celebrites in turn must appeal to their public, or risk going out of favour. In a society obsessed with Lists (Best-dressed, Worst-dressed, Most Beautiful, Most Slutty... etc. ad nauseum), a starlet must do whatever she can to get to the top of the right lists and stay off of the wrong ones.

Take this picture of Juliette Binoche, from the same Times article:

She is one beautiful lady. Those cheekbones! Trés elegant. But, not a stitch of make-up on! Sure this may fly in France, but over here across the pond? I mean, *I* think she looks quite lovely, but if the magnificent Catherine Zeta Jones ever made an appearance looking like that, all the tabloids would explode with rumours:

"Catherine on verge of exhaustion!"
"Is Catherine a junkie???"
"Catherine has joined the Church of Scientology and now eschews shampoo!!"

And then where would we be? One of the celebrities that we hold in the highest regard... the most perfect specimen Hollywood has to offer... has crumpled. She is now devastatingly human, like the rest of us. Our perfect image of her has been shattered like so much coloured glass. Children cry. Puppies whimper. Billions of dollars in advertising and promotion are lost. Catherine Zeta Jones falls into a deep depression. See, it's no good!

Don't get me wrong... that April cover of Allure with Audrey Tautou on the cover? Despite (or maybe even because of) the very restrained use of makeup, it is glowing and perfect. And the women that make me stop in the street and gape with awe and admiration and envy are always natural beauties that probably don't even use concealer. Bitches.

But my point is that it's a bit ridiculous to have French comseticians commenting on North American preferences, just like how it's ridiculous for Atkins freaks to belittle the French for their carb-loaded diets***. It's an entirely different environment and an entirely different market over here. It would be wonderful if the French influence leaks over and a more toned-down look in beauty begins to emerge. But then again, this whole thing seems kind of faddish -- wasn't it just yesterday that we heard French makeup artists extolling the virtues of red red lips and a sooty black fringe?

In the end, it's still just makeup! It washes off! Experiment! Play! Layer on that lime green eyeshadow! Paint your pout a fiery fuschia! What's so wrong with having a little fun and sense of adventure anyway? Make up is like your wardrobe... we all look good in a white shirt and a pair of great jeans, but it's the gutsier items that give us our signature styles. If you feel it, rock it. The most important thing is that YOU feel good in your makeup. It's about choice, people! Vive la choix!

* One point on which I'm certain: "Le bare face" is a stupid stupid phrase. French Elle, please spend more than 3 miliseconds coming up with your headlines, mmmmkay?
** Almost as stupid as "Le bare face".
*** Of course, I happen to think that Atkins freaks are generally ridiculous anyway, but that's just me.


Monday, May 29, 2006

Maybe this means I should do a sunscreen review

Holy Heatwave, Batman! We hit a high of 34 degrees Celcius today (that's like, a bajillion Fahrenheit)(Or 93), beating the previous record high of 32.5C! Take THAT, 1987!!!

3 cheers and a bottle of iced-tea for air-conditioning!


Product Review: Neolia Olive Oil Lotion

Can I share an odd fact? I have some kind of bizarre fondness for green body products. I am very much NOT one of those 'embrace nature' girls*, and I have no problem with using beauty products will all sorts of 'artificial' and non-vegan ingredients. But I luuuurve me some green lotion. Cucumber, avocado, lime... whatever, I'll take it. There's just something about the colour green that inherently suggests a certain ... lushness. Vibrancy. Invigoration. All sorts of other catchy advertising words.

One of my absolute favourite green products is the Olive Body Butter from The [sort of evil] Body Shop. You've probably all seen it and/or tried it. Of all the Butters, Olive is probably my favourite. Unless it's the Nut Butter. Or Strawberry. Or... Ok, fine, I have a problem. Whatever, you already knew that. Anyway, the Olive Butter's got this wonderful fresh olive scent, and the texture is light and whipped. Of course, it's also got this earthy green and "organic" look to it. It moisturizes well without feeling heavy, and is just great for summer time.

However, possibly because it feels so whipped, I find that I go through this stuff like crazy. If I use it daily, it probably lasts me about 3 weeks. At $18 CAD a pop, I can't afford to use it up so fast! Reason #31 why The [sort of evil] Body Shop is sort of evil!!!

I've tried a few other "olive" moisturizers on the market... I think Fruits & Passions has one, and a few of our favourite discount retail chains have now lemmed** on with their own (rather substandard) versions. While some of these products are ok at what they do, none have captured that oh-so-important-and-delicious smell of Olive Butter.

Enter.... Costco?!?! That's right folks, Costco! No longer just for 2-gallon tubs of mayonnaise and free food samples! I found this Neolia Olive Oil Moisturizing Lotion there, and exclaimed with surprise and delight*** upon trying it: it smells almost exactly like the Olive Body Butter! And a giant pump bottle (700mL!) cost me just $10 CAD. Oh joys!

Neolia's entire product line (there's also a bar soap and body wash) features "100% Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil" and aloe vera as its star ingredients. I must admit that it doesn't rub in as well or absorb as quickly as the Olive Body Butter, but it feels very moisturizing once you have it rubbed in. It's a medium-thick lotion that I don't find too sticky or anything. And the scent is heavenly of course. It doesn't stay obtrusively on you throughout the day, and it doesn't interfere with perfume, but I can smell it lingering pleasantly on my pajamas sometimes. It's certainly a great way to satiate my Olive Body Butter cravings without breaking the bank.

Sadly, the Neolia lotion is sort of an off-white, not a yummy green. Oh well. They told me that I'd have to make some sacrifices in terms of finances and lifestyle when I became a grad student, and I'm pretty sure this is exactly what they meant. I might buy the Olive Butter again as a treat for myself on occasion, but for every-day use, the Neolia lotion is a worthy substitute.

And now I've got a strange craving for guacamole. Which doesn't even have olive in it. How does that even happen???

As requested, here is the ingredients list for the Neolia Olive Oil Body Lotion:

Aqua, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Cetearyl Acohol, Ceteareth-20, Cetyl Alcohol, Ethylhexyl Isononanoate, Polyacrylamide, Isoparafin C13-C14, Laureth-7, Glycerin, Tocopheryl Acetate, Aloe Barbadensis Gel, Fragrance, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Propylparaen, Butylparaben, Ethylparaben.

[EDIT 09/25/06: I spotted the 236mL tube of the Neolia lotion at Shopper's Drug Mart recently, going for about $8 CAD. So that's good news for us Canadians. I'm afraid this isn't much help for those abroad, although if you do happen to visit our lovely country, SDMs are all over the place, and it should be fairly easy to grab a tube. Or 12.]

* I have nothing against nature, she's a cool mamma. I just don't roll with that crowd, you know?
** Possible new word??? [lemmed -- past tense of 'lemm': To create a faux version of a much hyped item, in accordance with popular opinion. der. 'lemming', ex. "She saw the buzz that the new retro-madras jumper created, and so lemmed up her own from last season's plaid. How very Molly Ringwald of her!"] Yes? No?
*** It probably sounded a bit like "wwhrreeeee!"

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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Foundation Week Wrap-Up

Man, daily reviews are kind of exhausting! My hat goes off to all you bloggers who diligently post on your blogs every day. Anyway, I thought I'd do a quick recap post summarizing my experiences with all those foundations. Because recaps are handy and whatnot. So here they are, from best to worst:

Almay Smart Shade Makeup:
Pro's: Great shade match, light-feeling, extremely natural coverage.
Con's: Coverage may be too light for some, only one shade of tester available.
Overall Grade: A

Revlon ColorStay Active Light Makeup:
Pro's: Lasting power, fantastic at shine-stopping, feels light, natural coverage.
Con's: Shade is slightly off, thick & somewhat difficult to blend.
Overall Grade: A-

Sally Hansen Airbrush Makeup:
Pro's: Thin, easy to blend, good coverage & lasting power, natural-looking, gimmicky aerosol can.
Con's: Weird smell, can look masky if over-applied, lack of shade choices.
Overall Grade: B+/A- (Depending on how well you can find a shade match)

Paul & Joe Liquid Foundation:
Pro's: Feels very nice to apply, easy to blend, great colour match.
Con's: Emphasized dryness, not great at stopping shine, price.
Overall Grade: B+

Maybelline Wonder Finish:
Pro's: Very blendable, nice feel & finish, good shade match.
Con's: Sucks at stopping oil, not long lasting, coverage a little masky.
Overall Grade: B+

Maybelline Pure.Makeup:
Pro's: Feels light and breathable, cool texture.
Con's: Inconsistent coverage, grabbed on to dry spots, slight powdery look.
Overall Grade: B- (I know I'm in the minority; lots of people seem to like it. Oh well.)

L'Oreal Infallible Foundation:
Pro's: Packaging is nifty, nice initial texture.
Con's: Colour oxidizes, bad at stopping oil, migrates to emphasize dry spots, felt thick and cakey.
Overall Grade: F

Whew! And that's that. Needless to say, I'm pretty happy about Almay's new Smart Shade, and will be reaching for that a lot this summer. If you've tried any of these foundations, or have another wicked foundation that you love, please do share your thoughts! Thanks for reading along!

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Product Review: Revlon ColorStay Active Light Makeup

Oh what a glorious weekend it's been! I spent a large part of yesterday afternoon laying about on a beach. A beach! In the sun! In May! (You have to understand that coming from a land-locked province, seeing natural bodies of water is very very exciting for me)

Considering I was going to be out in the sun all day, I thought it'd be a good day to test-run Revlon's ColorStay Active foundation (with SoftFlex! And SPF 25!). When I first saw this foundation back in December last year, I really wanted to try it. Blame Kate Bosworth's fresh freckled mug on the ads. Or was it James King? Whatever. At the startling price tag of $18 CAD for a small tube though, I was hesitant to buy it.

Well, trusty Wal*Mart recently had a sale on, and I finally caved and bought it. ColorStay Active seems like the perfect beach makeup: it promises to give light sweatproof coverage and feel natural, but not rub off. The SPF 25 was also a selling point, although I doubt it really ends up as SPF 25 on your face, considering you don't usually spackle foundation on like you do sunscreen. Still, it's got the highest SPF of any foundation that I've tried.

The first thing I noticed about this foundation was that it was THICK. Surprisingly thick, especially for a product advertised as "light makeup". Despite its viscousness, it was more gel-like in texture (as opposed to creamy), and it seemed quite smooth. Spreading it on did take some effort, since you had to blend the product out quite well. The shade Sand Beige was an alright match -- it seemed a tiny bit greyish at first, but after application, it didn't seem unnatural or ghostly. I would have preferred a touch more warmth in the colour though. On the plus side, Wal*Mart had testers of all the shades hidden behind a sliding display, so that makes it much easier to find your shade.

From the product description, I was expecting the coverage to be on the light side. While certainly not a heavy foundation, the coverage is more like a light-to-medium. Girls with fantastic skin or foundation phobia might find that this is more coverage than they need in a summer foundation. However, the look of the coverage is very natural... not quite as good as the sheerer Almay Smart Shade, but close. And this stuff kicks ass at stopping oil. It gives a matte-ish finish after application, and stays that way throughout the day -- I didn't even use powder and I still looked shine-free after a day of beach-bumming. In fact, if one were to, say, get really tired and fall asleep at night without remembering to take her make up off, one would find that even after 8 hours' sleep, the foundation still wouldn't have melted off. Not that *I* would ever do such a lazy, bad thing, of course.

All in all, ColorStay Active provided good coverage, natural-looking finish, high SPF, and lightweight feel. Best of all, it's long-lasting and it kicks shine to the curb. I give this foundation an A-, and especially recommend it if you're going to be running around being all healthy and sporty, or if you anticipate having your face sprayed with some kind of liquid (amusement parks, wet t-shirt contests, and college keggers all qualify).

This review was part of Foundation Week!

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Friday, May 26, 2006

Product Review: Almay Smart Shade Makeup

Hi y'all! I just drove for an hour and a half in rush hour traffic to come to Mississauga to do some testing, only to realize that duh, my participant is coming in on Tuesday, NOT today. So I feel real smart.

Oh well, on with the review! The Almay Smart Shade foundation caught my eye because it promised to "magically transform into [my] ideal shade"! Magic makeup! It's full of magical gobbledy-gook technology and will magically make you look better! It's magic, folks!!

This stuff looks hella odd coming out of the tube... like a white cream with tiny black dots in it. Its appearance reminds me a bit of a facial scrub, but it doesn't feel at all grainy going on. There are 3 shades to choose from: Light, Light/Medium, and Medium, but the display only provides a tester for the Light/Medium shade. This product is supposed to "take the guesswork out of finding the right shade", so I suppose they figure one tester is enough.

Needless to say, I was very skeptical of this product -- any cosmetic that claims to "magically" do anything raises my suspicions immediately. I figured that the little black dots probably reacted with friction or sebum or whatever to create colour, and that it would match one's skin tone because it was sheer enough to blend out, NOT because it could somehow detect your skintone. Sort of like those magic-paintings from my youth, where you brush a picture with plain ol' water, and pretty colours appear out of no where. Except my face won't turn into a picture of Hoppy the Easter Bunny or whatever.

Anyway, I finally caved and hesitantly picked up the Light/Medium shade. And I'm.... impressed. Really impressed. The shade match really was dead on, and most importantly, the finish was extremely natural looking. This is the most skin-like foundation I've tried to date! I was also impressed by the coverage -- this is definitely a light coverage foundation, but it was a notch more than the super sheer tinted-moisturizer-esque coverage I was expecting. A touch of concealer on top of the foundation, and I was very happy with the results.

In terms of oil control, it seems to be holding up pretty well. I haven't put it through a whole day's wear yet, but it looks good at least up to the 3 or 4 hour mark, sans blotting. I'm going out for my friend's birthday tonight, so I'll be able to report back on how well it stood the ultimate test of drinking & dancing**!

I still have no idea how this shade-matching voodoo action works though. I put some of the Light/Med shade on Roommate (who is very pale) and it looked really orangey on her. So it appears that you DO have to use the shade that best approximates your skin colour. I just put some on my knee (darker than my face due to self-tanner), and it blended right in there as well! Weird! Wonderful, but weird!

One tip: be sure to blend the product well. Since it sort of looks and feels like face cream, it's tempting to just smear it on. But don't! I did, and ended up with dark smudges on my jaw line, where I'd failed to blend properly. This foundation is VERY easy to apply, so long as you work with small amounts and blend as you go.

So far, I think this has been the best summer foundation I've tried. An uber-natural coverage plus SPF 15 make Smart Shade a great option for outdoors-y activities*. The squeeze tube and screw-on cap means it's safe and easy to toss it in your bag. The cost (~$18 CAD for 30mL/1 Fl Oz) is somewhat prohibitive, especially for a "drug store" foundation -- albeit one that performs as good as some higher end ones I've tried. I think that if Almay dropped the price point by $3 or $4, a lot more people would buy this. I happened upon mine for about 15 bucks on sale, so keep an eye out for any coupons or discounts! Definitely a rave in my books!

* Need I remind you to use a proper sunscreen underneath if you're going to be outside for any length of time?
** We're going to the very crowded, very fun, and very gay Village too, which means it's going to be a crazy, sweaty, drag-queen/Shania Twain-impersonator filled time! Yee haw!

This review was part of Foundation Week!

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Product Review: Paul & Joe Liquid Foundation

Ahhh! I'm late with this review, as I spent the day shopping for crazy things like plantain chips. And I bought yet another coat, and I know I don't need another black trench, but it was super on sale and totally awesome, I promise! And THEN I went to see this jazz contest/show thing (hurray for sax player Mike Ruby, winner extraordinaire!), and goddamn it why do musicians have to be so ridiculously outrageously good looking?!?! It's not fair.

In totally unrelated news, I think I want to take up the upright bass. Can't be all that different from French Horn, right?

But anyway. Review. Yeah, so a while ago, I went on my Great Foundation And Concealer Hunt, and put myself in the hands of the good people at Sephora. 3 sales associates and a jaw-line full of foundation smudges later, we finally settled on Paul & Joe's Liquid Foundation in Shade #3. It was the only base that was a good colour match, incredibly. To be fair, I said I only wanted to spend around $30, which severely limited the available choices. Sadly (or perhaps not, from my wallet's POV -- this stuff is like $45!), they were out of stock, so Manager Lady sent me home with a nifty little sample.

This foundation feels extremely nice going on -- it is smooth, light, and easy to apply. There's no tugging or grabbing at all during application. The finish is sort of glowy (I think "luminous" would be the appropriate marketing word) and soft, and looks very natural. Coverage is light-to-medium, and the base feels quite comfortable on the skin.

I'm pretty sure this foundation is not oil free, and it's not perfect at stopping oil throughout the day. A bit does come through, but it doesn't get progressively worse... it just looks a tad shiny and stays that way. This would probably be a benefit for drier winter months, or for those who want a dewy look. I'm sure a blotting paper would take care of any unwanted shine. I did notice that it grabbed on to some dry spots, and made my one cheek look kind of flakey. If you have dry skin or are using anti-acne creams/gels, be sure to moisturize well before putting this stuff on.

All in all, this is a pretty good foundation. But I'd only spend $45 on something that was absolutely incredible, and this does not qualify. I'd rather keep using the drug store stuff and blot more often or whatever. Because, you see, I have to save my pennies for the new coats and shoes that I somehow keep buying, regardless of whether I actually NEED them or not.

Oh, one more thing: if you're of Asian persuasion and you're having trouble finding a good shade match, I do suggest at least trying the Paul & Joe. They're apparently based in Japan or something, and thus have enough yellow tones in their makeup to suit Asian skin.

Tomorrow: (or, later today!) Trippy new "colourless" foundation from Almay! Just call me Gimmick Girl!

This review was part of Foundation Week!

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Product Review: Sally Hansen Airbrush Makeup

aka: In which I learn how to use a calendar.

So I was all up and debating whether I should review this Sally Hansen foundation for Foundation Week, or if I should talk about a Paul & Joe base that I had the chance to try. And then I realized that hello, I promised a calendar week's worth of reviews, and a calendar week has -- check it out -- SEVEN days, and not five. I can review both! So that's good, even if I feel really dumb now.

The lovely ladies at Delush recently hosted an interview with What Not To Wear's Carmindy, in which she lists Classified Cosmetic's ERA Spray Foundation as a favourite. I love Carmindy, she makes everyone on the show look so naturally cute. So let me take this opportunity to use her interview as an awkward segway into talking about Sally Hansen Fast & Flawless Airbrush Makeup, aka: The Poor (Wo)Man's ERA.

After the disaster that was L'Oreal's Infallible Makeup yesterday, it was a comparative joy to put on the Sally Hansen. This stuff was purchased on sale as part of my ginormous haul from New York, but it's available everywhere in Canada as well. This ultra thin liquid sprays out of a slim aerosol can, and it kind of smells like the Sally Hansen spray on panty hose stuff, which is kind of offputting. The smell goes away after application though, so no worries.

I've heard about people who spray the foundation directly on to their faces, but I've also heard about people who eat things with exoskeletons, and I'm not about to do that either. I usually spray this stuff into my hand, and then blend it on with my fingers. I'm sure it would work well with a sponge or foundation brush too, since it's so thin. For a "long-lasting" foundation, this feels pretty light on the face, and blending is a snap. Take care around the hair line and jaw line though... despite how sheer it looks, this does provide some coverage, so foundation lines will be visible if you don't blend it in properly.

Airbrush Makeup gives a light to medium coverage that is very buildable. If you don't set it with powder, you get a slightly dewy look, but a touch of powder makes it matte. While it doesn't look quite as skin-like as a tinted moisturizer, it does a pretty good job of giving a natural look, IF you get the right shade. Lasting power is pretty impressive as well... I might have to blot once at midday, but that's usually it.

So why don't I use this foundation more? It only comes in like 5 shades, and that's supposed to cover the whole gamut of skintones out there. Creamy Natural is the closest shade for me, but it is still a shade and a half too dark. By far, the worst thing about SH's Airbrush Makeup is the lack of shade choice. The coverage is not sheer enough so that you could get by with a "so-so" shade. From others' reviews though, it sounds like a lot of the shades are kind of orangey or otherwise weird. Since I'm not a fan of the floating-face look, it's back to the drawing board for me.

So, if you're one of those lucky individuals that manages to find a good shade match, I'd definitely recommend giving this foundation a try. This would also be a good "practice" foundation if you're considering buying the ERA stuff, but aren't sure about the technique.

Tomorrow's review will be all about Paul & Joe's Liquid Foundation! That's right, I'm gettin' all fancy on your collective asses! Stay tuned!

Have you tried any of these "spray on" or "airbrush" foundations? What did you think?

This review was part of Foundation Week!

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It's like if Blogging was Biblical...

... then Eyeshadow Government would be the prodigal blog, all returning to its loving home after a few months' hiatus, during which its hilarious writings were sorely missed. Or something. We don't have to slaughter a lamb or have a feast or anything though, unless you really want to. It's just an analogy... geeze.

Point is, hurray, Violet & Charlotte are back! Go read them; any person who thinks up of things like "...then I punched him, then I puked, then my puke punched him..." MUST be read and adored! Go forth and read and adore! Especially if you are a 16-32 yr old!


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Product Review: L'Oreal Infallible Foundation

This is probably one of the prettiest foundations I've ever bought. The contoured glass bottle, red pump, and clear cap make it look sleek... almost futuristic. What's scripted on the bottle though made me roll my eyes: L'Oreal Infallible Never Fail Makeup. Thank you, L'Oreal, for helpfully defining what "infallible" means. Those 4 syl-la-ble words sure can be tricky! Give your demographic a little credit, huh?

At any rate, on to the review. According to the L'Oreal website, Infallible promises to fight the "5 signs of make-up meltdown" for 16 hours by: combatting signs of fatigue, hiding blemishes, ending rub-off, stopping shine, and fighting the elements. So, I guess that makes the 5 signs of make-up meltdown: Sleepy, Pimply, Smudgy, Shiny, and ... er... Captain Planet???

I bought this foundation back in December, used it for about 3 days, and hadn't touched it again until I put it on for the purposes of this review. I remember really disliking this one. It's a medium-thick liquid, and feels a bit whipped coming out of the pump dispenser. (The pump dispenser, by the way, is genius -- easy to control, hygenic, and doesn't spew product everywhere.) Blending took more effort than the Wonder Finish, but I've come to realize that this is true of almost every other liquid foundation I've tried. It's not too difficult to blend this stuff onto your face. Nude Beige was the closest shade for me, but it seemed just a bit gray-ish. Not enough warm tones, I guess. Worse, it morphed into a shade that was teeny bit too dark as the day wore on. So minus one for unstable colour!

Infallible gives a smooth velvety medium coverage... for the first hour or two. After that, it all just fell to pieces. Shine starts coming through and the makeup seems to migrate to flaky or drier areas of your face, emphasising them. Coverage became spotty and cakey. Worse, it felt kind of... itchy. It totally felt like I had foundation on my face. Infallible hasn't broken me out incredibly or anything (possibly because I've never used it for very long), but it FELT like it was breaking me out. Yuck!

This is way too thick-looking and -feeling for summertime. Maybe I'd use this again if it was the dead of winter and I needed something with a lot of coverage, but this is certainly NOT a summer foundation.

So, considering that Infallible is marketed as something that stops makeup meltdown, it should get, like, NEGATIVE points for being so bad at preventing shine and migration. I can't imagine how horrible this might be for women with oilier skin than mine. As for longevity, I guess it's better than Wonder Finish, but not by much. As with any other foundation that lets a lot of shine through, the foundation comes off on the tissue when I blot. So watch dem white collars ladies (and the gents with whom you canoodle!). "Freshly made up for 16 hours"? You'd be lucky to make it past 6 hours!

The only good things about this foundation are the packaging and the medium (if temporary and somewhat masky) coverage, if you're into that kind of thing. Which I am currently not. Eeeuck. I really wanna go wash my face now. Tune in again tomorrow to see if Sally Hansen's Airbrush Makeup fares any better than the totally fallible Infallible!

Have you tried Infallible? What did you think of it? Is it possible for a full-coverage foundation to feel nice? What is your favourite medium-or-higher coverage foundation?

This review was part of Foundation Week!

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Monday, May 22, 2006

Product Review: Foundation Week!

Hey, you know what might be kind of fun? A theme week! Yeah? Does that sound fun? Good! How about we dedicate this entire calendar week to foundations? Let's start with my current standby foundations, Wonder Finish and Pure.Makeup, both by Maybelline, so that we have a basis for comparison, ok? Ok!

Um, I'm kind of obsessed with foundations. I mean, above and beyond the general product obession... foundations are sort of the cream of my product-obsession crop, if you will. I went through a cream-to-powder phase back in high school (why??? WHY did I think CG's Ultimate Finish was actually a good product???), then it was on to the liquids briefly. After that, it was all about powder foundations for a while, but lately the pendulum's been swinging back to the liquids. I'm going to focus on liquid bases then, simply because I've tried more of them than powders. Also, there's something almost magical about blending the soft fluid on to you skin and see it diffusing all those imperfections, leaving you with the skin you wish you were born with.

At least that's what the ideal foundation should be like. But to find one that does all that, AND lasts through the day is not easy! Oh, and for reference's sake, I have combination skin that is somewhat prone to break-outs, with some flakiness around the cheek area. It rarely reacts to cosmetics, and it's not really problematic skin, but it's certainly not perfect.

The first liquid foundation that I was actually loyal to (instead of, you know, just using it because I'd bought it and it was sitting there, taunting me) was Maybelline's Wonder Finish. Popular opinion of this is not that hot, but it's been my default "not perfect, but reliably above-average" foundation. Wonder Finish is a super thin liquid that looks almost watery when it comes out of the squeeze bottle. In fact, you'll have to be careful not to over-dispense, as it gets excited and squirts out sometimes. It's billed as a "Generalist" foundation meant for Normal to Oily skin types. Isn't "Generalist" just another way of saying "We either don't know why this product is particularly good, or are too busy trying to get Zang Ziyi to hawk our products to come up with a proper description"? Anyway, the main selling point seems to be that it goes on as a liquid, but transforms into a sheer powder finish.

First, I have to say that this powder finish business is crap. I have to dust powder on top of this if I want it to have any staying power at all. I mean, it's a nice finish, but if you want to keep shine at bay, then powder is definitely NOT optional. However, this stuff truly does blend like a dream. For such a light-feeling liquid, it provides an impressive light-to-medium coverage when applied with your fingers or foundation brush. (Cosmetic sponges and I had a disagreement in early 2001, and we haven't talked since) Plus, Nude is a great colour for me -- it's got a lot of yellow tones in it (almost too much!), which is not very common in drug store makeup. It's a tad too fair though, so I usually mix in a bit of Sandy Beige to make it work. Since the fluid is so light, it's really easy to mix the shades, and it doesn't take long to blend into your skin.

So what's wrong with Wonder Finish? Well, the finish is almost a little too perfect. Which is weird, because it's a relatively light coverage. But whenever I wear this, I feel like it's kind of obvious that I have foundation on, despite the good colour match. Also, it doesn't stay matte or last very long... I usually have to blot by lunch time, and you'd best be re-applying if you plan on going out after work. So that's kind of sucky.

Still, I kept re-purchasing Wonder Finish -- the Nude shade had sold me on Maybelline, and it was the best that Maybelline had to offer (I HATED Dream Mousse). Recently though, Maybelline launched their new Pure.Makeup line. 50% water? Lightweight gel formula? Cute pale turquoise tube? Introductory $3 off? Done!

The initial texture of this oil-free base is a bit wacky... kind of like a really light, whipped moisturizer. It feels cool going on (in the temperature sense), but blending is a bit odd. Maybe it's just me, but despite its sheerness, the foundation seemed to sink in to the skin a bit more quickly than I was used to (again, more like a tinted moisturizer). Coverage was ok, but it was a little light and uneven in spots. This stuff grabbed on to dry flakes more than the Wonder Finish, which is not cool. As well, "Nude" in this seemed to be darker than the same shade in Wonder Finish. (This might be a thing with Maybelline in general -- I've noticed that their shades don't translate exactly between product lines) However, it's sheer enough that the slight discrepancies don't leave garish foundation lines on your face.

The finish on this is surprisingly matte, given all its parallels with tinted moisturizer. At first, it looked too powdery for me, but it settles a bit after 5 or 10 minutes. While Pure.Makeup felt very comfortable on, I didn't really like how it looked. The coverage was too inconsistent! Maybe if I had perfect skin texture, it would've sat better. (Um, duh!)

So, Wonder Finish was too smooth, and Pure.Makeup wasn't smooth enough. The obvious thing to do was mix the 2 right? And so I did! Actually, I had to mix 3 things: the 2 shades of Wonder Finish, and then a blob of Pure.Makeup. Since all of these are lightweight formulas, it wasn't thick or chalky even when the products were combined. The Pure.Makeup added mattifying & lasting power while the Wonder Finish contributed its nicer finish. Smush it all together with a foundation brush, and I felt like a proper make-up artist in the morning!

Both foundations are about $9-$10 CAD and can be easily found. They are consistently "alright", and for that price, they're a good default. As you can imagine though, it's a bit tiresome to have to grab for 3 bottles of foundation EVERY day. And what if I was travelling? I don't enjoy being that high maintenance! For all that effort, the 2 bases combined still couldn't keep shine from coming through past the 5-hour mark. Besides, summer was quickly approaching, and I wanted to try out some "slap and dash" products that were: a) quicker to apply, and b) sheerer in finish.

With this quest in mind, I set out to my trusty neighbourhood drug store, and even ventured into a Sephora. Stay tuned for more foundation reviews this week: Tomorrow's will be dedicated to L'Oreal's Infallible Never Fail Makeup. Is this redundancy in nomenclature really warranted? Find out tomorrow!

Do you have a foundation gripe? What's the Big Thing that your perfect foundation must do? Flawless coverage? Lightweight feel? Mattifying? Line-diffusing? Do share!

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Saturday, May 20, 2006


Please go see this video at

No, really, you NEED to watch this (unless I am the only chump on the internet who hasn't already seen it). Careful of the volume though. This man is beyond words. I literally laughed out loud.

WHY am I still awake?!!?!


Friday, May 19, 2006

Product Review: The Yves Rocher Haul

Hello hello! How are you, internets? You know how sometimes, when you get very little sleep the night before, and you have to be awake and running around all day exhausted, and then you finally come home and can go to sleep? But you can't, even though you're really really tired and really WANT to go to sleep, but you're just too damn wired?

Well that's me! Right now! Thank you Starbucks! Thank you weird-but-nice coffee man at my subway station! Thank you MSG-laden instant cup noodle I had for dinner because I was too tired and spazzy to cook!

Anyway, not much left to do but blog I guess. This post will be all about the haul I got from Yves Rocher a while back. I've already talked about how I liked their Deligloss -- in fact, I went back and got the peach shade too, after my success with the Estee Ginger Fizz. Now that I've been using their other products for a while, I can give you the full report on the Arnica Hand Cream, Phytum Oxygenation Shampoo, and Green Tea Deodorant. (Spoiler: All signs point to Yes! Go Yves Rocher!)

Arnica Daily Moisturizing Hand Cream:

This is my new favourite hand cream, beating out the previous favourite... um... okay, I'm bad, I don't use hand cream regularly. But I will now! This stuff rocks: it's medium-thick and creamy, but sinks in super fast, leaving your skin feeling hydrated and smooth, not slick. The low grease factor makes this a great moisturizer to have at your desk, since you don't have to wait 10 minutes after applying before you can type without leaving smeary fingerprints on your keyboard. The mild soapy scent is pleasant and clean, and does not stick around obtrusively. The lemon-yellow tube contains 75mL (2.5 fl oz.) of product, and usually goes for about $7 CAD, but you can often find it on sale for $3. Oh look, it's on sale right now! Go get some! I just bought an extra tube myself to keep in the car. Good stuff! (Note: the pic is of the Hand & Nail Cream, I can't find one of the regular Hand Cream.)

Phytum Hair Care Oxygenation Pure Air Shampoo:

Gee, for such a long name, this bottle of shampoo is pretty small. Measuring in at a whopping 200 mL (6.7 fl oz.), at least you know this baby won't take up much room in your shower or gym bag. I guess this falls under the category of clarifying shampoos... according to the website, this "purifying shampoo gently eliminates dulling impurities and increases cellular oxygenation to leave hair clean, light and fluffy". I'm not sure about all that cellular oxygenation business, but this IS a great clarifying product. You don't have to use a lot (which is a good thing, considering the tiny bottle!), and the clear light blue gel works up into a nice minty lather. The smell is very unisex and very clean... quite refreshing!

Pure Air Shampoo really did leave my hair feeling clean, light, and fluffy -- a bonus since I am basically on silicone-overload with all the deep conditioners and shine products I use. Also impressive was that it didn't feel too dry or stripping. I DO always pair it with a heavy conditioner though, so keep that in mind. The snap top on the bottle is kind of a bother when your hands are slippery and wet, but the bottle itself is quite cute (which is clearly very important when picking a good shampoo). Normally, this is $7 for the 200 mL, which seems a bit much, but oh g'damn, it's on sale too! I'm going to have to go buy some now. I thought the point of this blog was to inadvertently cause OTHERS to spend money, not cause ME to spend more. Yeesh.

Fraîcheur Végétale Thé Vert Antiperspirant Deodorant:

Okay, this was sort of a random purchase. I wasn't looking for a new deodorant, but I've a soft spot for anything with Green Tea in the name. This stuff sure lived up to its name... it smells wonderfully fresh, like ice-cold sweet green tea with lots of lemon and just the tiniest hint of spice. It's what I wish The Body Shop's Lemon Tea scent smelled like. Instead, TBS' Lemon Tea dries down to Lemon Pledge on me. But I digress. The invigorating scent of this deodorant would work for both guys and gals.

Right, but does it work? Um... sure! I've only used it for normal days (i.e., not crazy active days), and it seems to do a fine job. This deodorant is housed in a stout green bottle with a screw-off top. The clear gel is dispensed via a roll-on ball. The mechanism is kind of pissy... I usually have to shake or otherwise jiggle the roller a bit to get the stuff to come out properly. Not sure if I just have a dud or if they're all like that. But when it smells so divine, I'm willing to forgive. Seriously, I could drink this stuff. Not that I'm saying you should... I actually have it on good authority that licking antiperspirant is a Very Bad Idea. A Very Very Bad Idea. Trust me.

A 60 mL (2.0 fl oz.) bottle normally costs $6.50, but what the hell why is everything I like on sale right now?!?! Seriously people, I just paid tuition, I can't take this kind of pressure!!!

Alright, that's it. I'm ending the post now, I've got some on-line shopping to do. The Visa people are going to love me. And then maybe I can finally get some sleep! Happy long weekend!!

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Product Review: Estee Lauder Pure Color Crystal Gloss

Or: How NOT to buy a lipgloss from eBay

Okay, so my beauty budget doesn't exactly allow for me to be purchasing things from Estee Lauder (except for perfumes, of course. Perfumes are the exception to every well-intentioned rule I have about product purchasing). And I would have never given this gloss a second glance in a department store, but eBay does funny things to a girl. It was cheap! And sort-of-local, which means shipping was also cheap. Plus the shade is called "Ginger Fizz"! How can I say no to that?

So yeah, I ended up buying this for about $7 CAD. When it arrived in the mail, my first thought was "Aw HELL, this is tiny". I had inadvertently bought the mini GWP size! Ah well... it was my own fault. Lesson 1: Reading the damn product description! Although the item pictured in the auction was that of a full sized gloss, so I felt a bit jipped.

Upon looking more closely at the gloss, I realized that I was expecting more of a pinky shade. I'm not sure why, since I am fully aware what colour ginger is. Instead, the gloss was a light peachy goldy colour, kinda like this:

Lovely shade and all, but I've never found warm lip colours to work on me. Plus, it looked really light, which I feared would give me corpse-lip syndrome. Lesson 2: Research the product online before purchasing. Estee's site (from where I got the pics above) clearly shows what the shade looks like... it would have been very easy to look up.

So here I am, feeling that I paid a little too much for a gloss that might look like ass on me. Not much left to do but actually try it on, I guess.

To my surprise, it looked ok. Actually, it looked great! I've never understood that whole nude-lip obsession, but now I can see why people dig it. Ginger Fizz imparted a sheer, shiny bit of gold that was classy, not tacky. The shade was close to that of my own lips, but kickier and more vibrant. I'd be most inclined to pair it with minimal eye makeup and bright healthy cheeks for a cute everyday look, but I could also see it done with heavier eyes for an evening out.

Seeing the gloss on, I was briefly overcome with the desire to go frolick on a sandy beach somewhere. This is definitely a summer shade for me. I find that it looks best when my hair is pulled back. Somehow, when my hair is down, the gloss looks a tiny bit faded out, probably because my hair is so dark.

In terms of texture, the gloss is smooth and not sticky. It's really similar to the Revlon Superlustrous Lipglosses that I love, but the Pure Color is somewhat smoother and a touch more moisturizing. And it has that fancy Estee Lipstuff Smell (TM), whereas Revlon's glosses tend to smell strange and plasticky.

Really though, it's the colour that's the most impressive. I've been half-heartedly looking for a similar drugstore shade, to no avail. They're all either too yellow or too pink or too sheer or too pigmented. Had Goldilocks been searching for a peach lipgloss, this would've been the one she wanted. Lesson 3: Impulse purchases on eBay can be deceptively awesome!

So readers, you've just taken part in a monumental moment in history: The Day I Realized Peach Gloss Can Look Good On Me. But now the dilema: the mini version I've got is good enough for toting around, but it's only going to last so long. At $20 US a pop, I'm not in a hurry to go out and buy the full size. Maybe I'll find a cheaper shade that looks just as good? Or maybe I'll finally cave when they do another Gift Time giveaway -- that should make it easier to shell out the cash. Of course, there's always eBay! Lesson 4: "Admitting you have a problem is the first step".

As an aside, I find this ad incredibly creepy. The model's eyes look smooth and wrinkle-free, no doubt, but did they have to make her look like an android?


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Rant: I hate Jade

Anyone watch America's Next Top Model? I do. I swear I'm not a reality TV junkie... ANTM's the only one I watch. Well, and Myth Busters, because they are awesome. Oh, and Iron Chef sometimes, because that little dude with the microphone who zips around asking the chefs questions at inopportune times? And the random Japanese pop-starlet judge, who says things like "Oh! The flavours! They are like tears of a river, melting on my tongue..."? They are also awesome.

But back to ANTM. A bunch of friends from school and I get together to watch it every week, as much for the show as for us to catch up and hang out a bit. Lord knows we need a girls' night as a respite from dealing with those 6 guys in our MA class of 35! As you may or may not know, the Final Three are down to Joanie ("rockin' it for God!"), Danielle ("sucka!") and Jade (...). I love Danielle because she's ridiculously cute and I love her accent and mannerism. I love Joanie because she's wacky and fun and drop dead gorgeous and she hates Jade too and ohmigod let's be Best Friends 4Ever, ok Joans?

But Jade? "Bi-racial Butterfly?" More like Bi-racial* Bitch.** I find her repulsive, both as a person and as a model. I mean, there's a fair bit (apx. 18 metric shitloads) of editing that goes on for ANTM, and lots of people get made out to be worse than they are. But I'm pretty sure it would've been well-nigh impossible for the editors to spin Jade in a way that portrayed her as anything less than vile.

She has been turning out really nice pictures recently though, which, if I could refrain from convulsing in disgust every time I saw her long enough to realize it, would strike me as disconcerting. But rest assured good people of the internet! Jade cannot win, because Jade is a man. Witness:

That would be Jarvis Church (aka: Gerald Eaton, aka: lead singer of the Philosopher Kings) up there. Jade is like his unholy psycho female clone. This hurts me, because I used to LOVE Gerald Eaton. Very atypical of me, but it was something about that voice... I'm a sucker (sucka!) for musicians. Plus, that one New Year's Eve, when he serenaded his wife on-stage somewhere in Manisnowbar? Hot.

So while it hurts me to realize that Gerald and Jade may wade waaay too closely together in the gene pool for my liking, I take comfort in the fact*** that Jade will "never win this com-pe-tition" (I just used my Tyra Voice there).

* Lest this be taken as a racial comment, let me put forth that I think bi-racial people are amongst the most beautiful in the world. In fact, judging from my track record, my own kids will most likely be bi-racial, if and whenever that whole thing happens.

** Still, that was harsh. Not very nice of me at all. But I DO feel better now.

*** Ok, that should read "hope". But seriously, if Jade wins, I may never ever ever watch this stupid show ever again, and I don't care how many ads that Jay Manuel and his ridiculous orange skin shove in my face.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Gettin' Schooled, part 1: Hair

Being such a fan of school and academia and learning and whatnot, it's hardly surprising that I'm also a fan of beauty schools. Not in the sense that I want to attend one, but rather in the sense that I love submitting myself as a guinea pig for their students.

I know, I know... you've probably heard horror stories of friends-of-friends who have had their lives ruined by rogue beauty students. But for every bad experience you hear about, there are probably 10 good experiences that fly under the radar. Quite often, you'll walk away with near-professional results at stoopid-low prices.

Since I've only moved here recently, I really had no idea where to even get my hair cut in the city. Turning to the (sometimes) trusty internet, I found a great article on various hair & esthetics schools in Toronto. With the aplomb that only a beauty-obsessed bargain hunter with too many split ends can possess, I plunged right in. So far, I've been to 3 different schools, all for different things, all with very satisfactory results. And so, because Hot Docs was just in town and everything, I'm going to do a 3-part mini-series documenting my beauty school experiences. I'm pretty sure Cannes is going to be calling any minute now.

First up: Haircut

I have the simplest haircut in the world. Basically all one length, with a bit of angling around the face. Easy peasy! Or it would be, if my hair wasn't so darn thick. It's also really hard -- I have baby pictures of myself where I have crazy crazy hair... like a human scrub-brush. It's pretty rad -- I was, like, a Rock Star Baby! However, I like to stay away from Kramer-esque hair nowadays, which makes having a skilled stylist crucial. Those not in the know just do a blunt cut across the back, which leads to something I like to call "Triangular Hair Hell".

Anyway, I had high hopes for the Marca Collge of Hair and Esthetics. I'm not sure why I had such high hopes; it's probably because I liked their website colours. (Yes, I am democracy's worst nightmare) Also, the site looked professionally done, which is usually a good thing. Besides, it was 7 bucks a chop. Even if they screwed up big time, I could just call it a learning experience and go get it fixed by a 'real' salon.

The great thing about student salons (other than the price) is that you usually don't have to book in advance. In fact, some schools don't even take appointments, which I guess could be upsetting to you if you're one of those Highly Effective People who live their lives according to some semblance of a schedule (I envy you). Anyway, upon walking in to Marca, you'll find rows of hair-dressing hopefuls wielding hot irons and hairspray, or carefully snipping away, sometimes under the watchful eye of an instructor. There are no fancy cappuccinos or cushy waiting areas here: while clean and orderly, the settings are strictly functional and the seating is tight. Gotta make that space fit all the bodies in the room!

I got called in by my stylist within 10 minutes of arrival. After introducing herself, she settled me in and asked me what kind of cut I wanted. I mentioned wistfully that I'd like long layers, but wasn't sure if they'd work for me. After examining my hair briefly, the stylist (correctly) pronounced that with my hair type, any layers at the back would just flip up and out in a most unbecomming manner. We settled on my usual cut (conventional, but works!) after I made certain to stress that I'd like some tapering at the back. I even pulled out a pen and drew pictures to make sure we were on the same page.

My stylist was really friendly and chatty throughout, but not obnoxiously so. I asked her to straighten my hair after the cut (at an extra cost) because I had to go out afterwards. Hoo boy, I sure got my money's worth -- she spent like 40 mins running that iron through my locks (it usually takes me about 10 minutes to do it at home)! In fact, the whole process took much longer than I'm used to. I was in that salon for the better part of 2.5 hours. After my stylist was done with the cut, she had her supervisor come over and examine her work. He made some comments and suggestions, pointed out a misstep, and left her to correct it. This happened once more, after which the supervisor was satisfied with his student's work. Time consuming? Yes. Re-assuring? Definitely.

The end result was quite good. I mean, it wasn't as nice as the cut Sam -- a senior stylist at Angles who was just a little bit creepy, but then was forgiven for the stellar cut he produced -- ... um, produced. But it was a solid cut, and it was hugely better than suffering through Triangular Hair Hell. The cut, plus a shampoo, conditioning, style, and a bottle of Biosilk cost under $40 including taxes. Both my wallet and I were sittin' pretty!

[EDIT 10/30/06: I went back to Marca College for another haircut, and this time it was HORRIBLE. She (a different student than the first time; I think this was a first year) took too much off, and accidentally cut a chunk out of the front. And then, she had to even that out on the other side, but didn't take enough. So now I have lopsided half-bangs, and I can't get it fixed because it's already shorter than I want. BOOO!!!!]

Stay tuned for parts 2 & 3 of the great Beauty School Adventure!


Saturday, May 13, 2006


Welcome to my new layout!! Oh yipiee I am so so so happy with this. It's leaps and bounds better than the boring old black one. It's the hawtness! Goodbye sickly avocado green! Welcome lush pinks and peaches!

How did I manage to pull off this awesomeness, you ask? It's because I have a super duper friend who know things about the internet, and who is willing to refrain from making fun of me for having a make-up blog long enough to whip up a spiffy new design for me. Much thanks!

To honour him, I have put up a picture of models in school-girl outfits having a pillow fight, next to his mention over there on the sidebar. Apparently, the best way to placate and/or show gratitude to boys is to give them pictures of models in school-girl outfits to look at.

Anyway, hope you all love the new design as much as I do!


Not make-up: Konnyaku Noodles

It's curious, but the moments during which I experience some of my fiercest homesickness usually have something to do with food. You see, I have this amazing group of friends back home -- friends who are almost as culinarily adventurous as myself. Midnight sushi, Vietnamese Subs, cheap pasta nights, seafood, Monglian, Korean, Thai... you name it, and I could probably find someone to go eat it with me. Or at least I could when I was in Calgary. How depressingly ironic: now that I'm in a city where it's unbelievably easy to sample new cuisines, my dining-posse is back out West!

Of course, my family liked to chow down too. In fact, one of my family's favourite winter meals was Hot Pot. Hot Pot is an Asian-style fondue... you'll find that pretty much every Asian (or at least Oriental) culture will have some variant of this. The Chinese version involves a pot of simmering broth, and various foodstuffs that you boil in the broth. These foodstuffs include things like thin slices of fatty beef (you need the fat to keep it tender during boiling), Asian meatballs, shrimp, tofu, and leafy greens. The possibilies are endless. After you fish your food out of the water, you dip it in any variety of sauces and eat it up. I know boiling meat in water sounds basically like the opposite of a good meal, but it's actually really tasty.

We all loved Hot Pot nights -- Mom liked it because she didn't have to cook anything, and us kids liked it because we got to be interactive and cook our own food. Dad liked it because it was some good eatin'. (Dads tend to like eating!) The steamy pot warmed the room, and the broth, fragrant with all the juices and flavours of the things we'd cooked in it, was hearty and savory by the end of the meal. We'd usually finish up by boiling greens and little bundles of Konnyaku noodles in the broth, and then lean back and feebly wimper, trying to digest all the lovely things we'd just eaten.

Well, I happened to go to a very Asian part of the GTA this week, and visited the very Asian supermarket there. Oh joy of joys! "Real" vegetables! All the right sauces! Proper soy milk! Chrysanthemum tea!!! (No offense to my neighbourhood Loblaws... you are quite satisfactory. But sometimes a girl just needs a wee taste of home, you know? It's akin to being separated from Kraft Singles for 8 months. Not a big deal, but a grilled cheese sandwich just ain't the same without it!)

So yeah, I'm pretty sure I scared the beejebus out of my roommate with the sheer amount of things I bought there. Amongst these things were the cute little bundles of Konnyaku noodles of the famed Hot Pot nights. Konnyaku is a root vegetable in the same family as taro root, and the Japanese use it in many different forms. I've only ever tried the noodles, which were sort of like a very firm gelatin (the noodles are also called shirataki). Milky-translucent in colour, they were thin, slippery, chewy, and kind of crunchy without being hard. The texture is somewhat similar to that enoki mushrooms.

These noodles don't have much flavour on their own, but they soak up surrounding flavours very well. They're quick to cook (just boil them for 5-10 minutes), and the bite-sized bundles are fun to eat. This is perfect college food -- sort of like ramen, but much healthier, especially if you add your own fixin's. I like using chicken broth, and adding pieces of chicken or beef and bok choy. I imagine that a Thai Noodle Salad or some other cold or spicy dish would be an excellent setting for these noodles.

Even better? Apparently, Konnyaku noodles are, like, Zero Food: Zero fat, Zero carb, Zero calorie. (Well, there are carbs and calories, but only like 20 calories per serving. I'm pretty sure there are more calories in toilet paper, and this stuff tastes a heck of a lot better.)(I'd assume, I mean. I've never eaten toilet paper.) Dieters have discovered and loved this; check out an article about it here. Plus, it's basically all fiber, so it'll do you all sorts of digestive-tract goodness.

It's pretty easy to get your hands on this stuff. Any major Asian supermarket should have this, and I'm fairly certain I've seen it at the Real Canadian Superstore. In the States, I've heard that Whole Foods carries the noodles. The only bad thing is that eating them sort of made me even more homesick than just looking at them. Oh well, at least I'm nostalgic on a full stomach!

[EDIT: I've had a few people land here from "shirataki + Calgary" searches. I remember buying them from T&T Supermarket in the NE, in Pacific Mall. However, these are the skinny-bundled kind. I haven't seen the broad fettucini-looking kind in Calgary, but I haven't looked either. If you're desperate, you could always untie the bundles, I suppose. In Toronto, I get them from T&T (bundles) or PAT Central, a big Korean grocery store on Bloor, just East of Christie (various styles, including the fettucini type). Yum.]


Friday, May 12, 2006

Product Review: Biosilk

I just saw Bring It On for the first time ever this week. I'm not really sure how I've existed for 23 years without experiencing its genius. I mean, I even actually seriously had to DO spirit fingers on a real-live stage. I'm sure now that my performance was woefully lacking, as I had no proper appreciation of what exactly spirit fingers were, and why exactly they were GOLD.

Anyway, that's neither here nor there. While we were at the video store though, I saw a copy of Undercover Brother, with Denise I-Stole-Mr.Locklear Richards on the cover. Which reminded me of that day I had Denise Richards Hair. Which reminded me that I had wanted to trot out my little diatribe on Biosilk. Which is what I'm doing now.

I'm guessing most of you have heard about this product -- it's a hair conditioning treatment with silk extracts that's supposed to protect hair, and add shine and manageability.

So what's little miss "drugstore-beauty-or-bust" doing talking about this salon product? It's $13 for a 50mL bottle! While this is cheaper than Frédéric Fekkai, it's not exactly frugal. But I was coerced! My student-stylist raved and raved about clients who somehow managed to keep their hair healthy and soft despite frequent heat styling and colouring: the common denominator was Biosilk. She also said that these well-coiffed ladies claimed to rub Biosilk on their elbows to smooth out rough skin. I was skeptical of these claims (hair serum on elbows? Come on now!), but with promises that I could return the product if I hated it, I bought the 50mL (2 oz.) bottle. Besides, the haircut itself was only $7, so I felt somewhat justified.

But, because I am a Google-whore, I had to look up what other people thought of Biosilk once I got home. (Yes, I realize this would have been a lot more useful before buying the product, but a wildly disproportionate sense of practicality is a classic symptom of internet addiction, dig?) Anyway, here's a sample of what folks are saying about Biosilk:

- "Makes my hair incredibly silky & smooth!"
- "Biosilk saved my fried hair!"
- "I put Biosilk on my legs after shaving... it makes them feel so soft!"
- "I put Biosilk on my wrinkles, now all my friends think I'm rich enough to afford Botox!"
- "I add a few drops of Biosilk to my morning cereal to give me an all over glow from within!"
- "I can see!!! It's a miracle!!! THANK YOU BIOSILK!!!!"

Well... maybe the reviews were not exactly like that. But you get the drift. There were a lot people who claimed Biosilk did good things for their skin though, which I found puzzling. So, taking a page from the Beauty Brains' ever-informative book, I decided to track down the ingredients in Biosilk and see what they actually do.* I posted a version of this on because I was feeling particularly rant-y that day. So if you run into a similar review out there, rest assured that no one's jacking my posts (or vice versa). This review is pretty darn long, so if you don't have the attention span, or if you only care about my subjective experience with Biosilk, just skip all the chem talk and go to the part about what I actually thought of the stuff.

Breakdown of the ingredients:

Cyclomethicone & Dimethicone: these are silicone-like substances that coat the hair follicle, making the cuticles lie flat and the hair look shiny. They give a "dry" silky feel, so that it doesn't feel like you have sticky oil on your hair. Prevents moisture loss by forming a barrier on the follicle.

SD Alcohol 40B: A quick drying alcohol solvent. Often used in hairsprays and perfumes. These alcohols are basically straight ethanol (aka: booze), but denatured, which makes it too bitter for desperate alcoholics or testosterone-fueled frat boys to drink.

Panthenol: aka vitamin B5. Attracts moisture from the air and binds it to follicle. Doesn't *nourish* the hair, simply coats it. Used in many shampoos. Interesting to note that panthenol only becomes a vitamin (pantothenic acid) IF it contacts a live cell. Since hair is dead, panthenol in the hair never actually converts to its vitamin form. But, "Now With Almost-Vitamin B5!" doesn't look quite as appealing on your shampoo bottle, does it?

Ethyl Ester of Hydrolyzed Silk: This is a form of silk protein; the "silk" in Biosilk. I can't find out much about this ingredient, but it appears to form a film on the hair, which fills in cracks, binds in moisture, and makes the shaft feel smooth.

Octyl Methoxycinnamate: a form of sunscreen.

C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate: From what I can gather, this serves a similar purpose as the -cones do. Also supposed to condition hair & skin. Whatever that means.

Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben: These are all preservatives which maintain the integrity of the product (keeps it free from mold, for example). Parabens may or may not cause cancer. The Beauty Brains posted a great discussion of the subject here. I'm currently of the mind that the parabens you find in your products are going to be in such small amounts that it shouldn't be a problem. But who knows? If you're really concerned about this, go get Chi Silk Infusion instead. It's made by the same company as the Biosilk people, and sounds like it's basically the same product minus the parabens. I haven't seen Silk Infusion in Canada yet, but I haven't been looking all that hard either.

Overall: Since hair is essentially dead, you can't "feed" it. You can only prevent further damage and moisture loss, which is what the -cones and alkyl benzoate do. Some of the ingredients in Biosilk are often found in lotions and creams for the skin because they give a silky smooth feel and help lock moisture in. However, I'm not so sure how putting SD Alcohol on your skin could actually add moisture, so I'd take the claims about Biosilk being good for your skin with a grain of salt. Sure, it migh feel smooth on your elbow, but I reckon you'd be much better off with a proper moisturizing cream or lotion. ("Reckon" y'all! I'm chanelling Dr. Phil again!)

What I actually thought of the stuff:

Despite my skepticism about what Biosilk will do for your skin, I can't deny that I LOVE what it does for my hair. In addition to my internet-habit, I am also addicted to my Conair straigtening iron. I have straight-ish hair to begin with, and I know the flat iron is not doing my hair any favours, but it just looks so much better when I use it! Needless to say, my hair is pretty dry, but Biosilk really does make it feel silky. I use it on wet hair, let it air dry, and then apply more before running the iron through my strands. The result is a deep satiny shine... not exactly glassy, but it looks and feels really healthy. Think the patina on a buttery leather jacket, rather than the shine on patent leather pumps.

For sure this is the best shine product I've ever used. It might not do as much for fly-aways as a heavier cream might, but I fortunately don't have mega-flyaways to contend with. Biosilk feels pretty thin in the palm, which is great because it translates to feeling light in the hair. I've heard that it's possible to over-load on this product, so I purposefully put too much product in to see what would happen. It took me like 5x what a sane person would think of using to hit the over-load point. Then again, I do have ridiculous, product-eating hair. I can see how fine-haired chicas would have to use this stuff sparingly.

Biosilk kicks the other shine sprays/serums I've tried to the curb because it actually makes my hair feel soft, unlike other products that just add shine (and usually gunkiness). Plus, 2nd-day (and even 3rd-day) hair is unbelievable when I use this. Still so shiny and soft!

One thing: some people might take issue with the scent. It's really strong and perfumey... I saw it described as an "Old French Whore Scent", which is actually kind of (inappropriately) appropriate. I don't especially like it, but I don't hate it either. Scent is obviously a personal thing. At any rate, the smell doesn't stick around that long. But while it's there, it's definitely THERE. Oh well, at least it doesn't smell like coconut.

So yeah, in my books? Biosilk is totally worth paying a bit extra for. You really don't need to use much... I've been using it for about 3 weeks now, and there's still like 80% of the bottle left. Biosilk's the poo, people!!

* I'm totally not a hair stylist or a chemist or anything... all this info is just based on random internet research. I DID get a B+ in my first year chem course. Which isn't that spectacular, really, but there it is anyway. So if you know better than me and you see mistakes in what I've said, please do post corrections in the comments!

Info in this post shamelessly pilfered from sites like:; The Chemistry; Best Knows; Snowdrift Farm; Lotus Blossom Bath & Body Products; and


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Review Update: Smashbox Blend Primer

Okay, a few days ago, I talked about Smashbox's Blend Foundation Primer, and promised to conduct all sorts of unbiased and empirical experiments to see what (if anything) the primer actually did. True to my word, I spent Saturday evening and all day Sunday using my face as a petri dish for this endeavour. (Ew. I really feel the need for a deep cleansing now after having typed that.)

On the first day, after I cleansed and moisturized, I applied the primer to one half of my face, and left the other side as is. I then put on foundation and concealer as usual, and then all the rest. After a few hours of hanging out and some beer and nachos (quick! vote: "Beerchos" or "Nacheer"???), I went back home and examined my face. Honestly? I could not tell the difference. In the 6 or so hours that elapsed between my putting on makeup and coming home, some shine had come through. But, it looked like both sides were pretty much even in that department.

But, since I did have all of 2 beers that night, my judgment was maybe a bit skewed. (I am not a light-weight, despite what my body seems to think.) So I repeated my little experiment on Sunday, a day filled with strenuous.... shopping (groceries and clothes! It was practically a marathon, people). After we got home, I did the blot test: I cut a blotting paper (Clean & Clear, natch) in half and used one half on each side of my face. Verdict? No difference! Maybe (maybe!) the 'primed' side showed slightly less oil. But you could never tell just by looking at my visage.

"Alas!" you say. "Are you spending far too much for a product that does nothing??" Well, not exactly. I did notice that the under-eye concealer and cream eye shadow on the primed side creased less than on the non-primed side. (Creasing was minimal anyway, but the slight difference was there.) The primer also made spots and dark circles a bit less noticeable. Plus, you know how when your skin is a bit dry, it starts to look slightly rough and the tiny hairs on your skin are more visible? The primer seemed to smooth that out. Finally, the primed side just felt smoother to the touch.

So generally, the primer did some good things, but it mostly just made my skin feel nice. Which is, I'd argue, worth $20 every 2 or 3 months. It should also be noted that my skin is largely problem free. So, for those who have problems with their eye-makeup creasing, or would like to fill in fine lines/pores, Blend will probably make more of a difference for you.

Oh, and I'd like to make a retraction: I said that the trial sizes of the Smashbox samplers cost as much per ounce as the full size. I was wrong: they actually cost less. WHY anyone still buys the full size, I do not know. Foolish full-size buyers! Foolish, I say!!


Monday, May 08, 2006

Product Review: Body Shop Cassis Rose EDT

I was at the mall yesterday, and saw all these lovely shiny posters at the Body Shop advertising a new fragrance, so of COURSE I had to stop in. For those of you who don't know (um, so almost all of you... unless you've been secretly stalking me for 4 years and now I've just made your job that much easier by having a blog), I used to work at the Body Shop. Though I have my issues with the store, I don't want to get all rant-y about it. It was all political anyway -- it had nothing to do with the products. Besides, it was a particular franchisee that was the problem, and I'm in Toronto now, and besides besides, The Body Shop got bought by L'Oreal anyway, so it REALLY doesn't matter anymore.

Whew! Where was I? Oh yeah, Body Shop perfumes. I've had a kind of love/hate relationship with them. There are certain ones I cannot stand (like Tobacco Flower or Indian Gardenia), and some that I like quite a bit (like Spirit of Moonflower or Of A Man). I bought and became briefly enamoured with their Invent A Scent kit, where you get 9 cute, chemistry-kit looking vials of perfume, and the idea is to mix and match the different scents to create your own fragrance. Some of the scents were likeable enough, but overall, they were fairly simplistic and kind of boring. I still have that kit, but I think I like the idea of it more than the actual fragrances.

But ladies and gents, I have a new favourite! Cassis Rose (billed as "The Flirtatous Fragrance" -- how long did it take those ad exec geniuses to come up with that gem, I wonder?) was launched just in time for Mother's Day, and I KNEW I was going to buy it the instant I sniffed it.

Their website describes the notes as follows:
Top: Raspberry and Blackcurrent
Heart: Rose, Freesia, and Violet
Base: Musk, Sandalwood, and Cedarwood
That sounds about right. The first whiff is of fruity sweetness, and I get a prominent tinge of something green and acidic, like tart fruit (not citrusy though), or perhaps cut-flower-stem. That goes away in a flash, and then you're just left with berries and flowers. On me, this is a warm-ish scent, but I certainly wouldn't describe it as sultry or sexy. The rose, while not ground-breaking, is fresh rather than musty or powdery. It's just a nice sweet floral that would be safe for the office or an afternoon out.

Yeah, I know... I bought yet another fruity floral. The bottle is even predictably pink. At least it's not a watery ozonic fruity floral this time, right? Plus, it's not even from the house of Parlux! Come on people, I'm trying to improve! Honest!

Anyway, I really really really like this. It's not going to be my all-time-favourite perfume or anything, but I can see myself reaching for this all summer. Lasting power is poor, as is typical of all TBS scents that I like. I'd say about 2 hours, and that's probably being generous. But at $17 CAD for 30mL of the EDT, it's not really a huge deal to re-apply. They launched an entire line of this, including lotion, shower gel, perfume oil, body mist, and solid soap, so layering is definitely an option. The lotion and shower gel bottles are actually quite pretty, so I think these would make a lovely Mum's Day gift, assuming your mom is into sweet, pretty smells.

Mmmm... this stuff makes me want to, like, eat my wrists. For real. Very happy with the purchase!


Saturday, May 06, 2006

Product Review: Smashbox Blend Foundation Primer

Why on earth would someone use a $40 primer under an $8 drugstore foundation?

That's a good question. It's the same question I asked myself when I walked into Sephora the other day to re-purchase this primer.*

A lot of people might think that a primer is a useless product that just tacks extra minutes on your make-up routine and extra debt on your credit cards. These people, from my point of view, are mostly right. Sure, I don't need a primer. But I don't need nice-smelling conditioners, or perfumes, or a quadrillion different lip glosses either. And yet here I am!

Smashbox's clear Photo Finish Foundation Primer has been around forever, and people generally love it. It fills in fine lines, makes pores look smaller, and makes skin smooth, prepping it for foundation. The "Blend" version is part of their Color Correcting line, which promises to do everything the original does, and then some. This line comes in "Adjust", a green primer that supposedly counteracts redness; "Balance", a purple primer that claims to brighten sallow or yellow skintones; and "Blend", the apricot coloured one that I use.

Blend is for those of us who want to even out skin tone and minimize the appearance of veins, spots, or dark circles. The orangey gook looks kind of oompa-loompa scary in the bottle, but it goes on clear. It feels satiny smooth, but it's less slick than the original clear primer, and a bit less thick as well. It is mildly scented (vaguely citrusy?) and I find the smell quite pleasant. As for the minimizing spots and dark circles... it does seem to sort of "diffuse" the imperfections a bit, but you still need concealer. (Well, I still need concealer.)

But the best thing about the primer has got to be the way it makes my foundation look. I've taken to using a foundation brush, which, combined with the primer, makes the foundation go on soooo smoothly! Makeup just kind of glides on when I use the primer, and I find that I need less product to cover my face. My pores also look diminished, although I wasn't really too worried about that to begin with. If you have very dry or flakey skin though, you'll still need to use a good moisturizer underneath. The primer makes skin smooth, but won't add extra moisture or oil.

Make up seems to stay in place better & longer as well, and under-eye concealer goes on much much nicer. But, while Blend is a great primer and I like using it for special occasions, or for those days when I want to look really really great (um... so, everyday?), it's not like it'll make or break my look. So if the budgetary situation becomes such that I can no longer afford to buy my monthly stash of beef jerky and Red Rain (my appalling dietary habits are fodder for an entirely different post), I will absolutely stop buying and using Blend. It's a super product, but I don't need it.

Come to think of it, I'm not sure if Blend really does everything I just said it does, or if know if this is just some kinda psycho-placebo-effect . I might just really want it to work to justify my spending for it. Oh! I know! I'll go put the primer on half my face, put foundation on, and then see which side looks better at the end of the day! I'm going out drinking tonight, so the alcohol will help me be all unbiased and impartial about it. People generally have excellent judgment and are unbiased and impartial when they're in a drunken haze.


[EDIT: For my review update and the results of the Great Half-Faced-Primer Test, go here!]

* To be fair, I bought the trial size bottle**, which is only about $20. It's lasted a couple months so far.

** Actually, you should REALLY get the trial size instead of the full size. The full size one comes in those glass pump bottles as depicted above. They're awful... you can't reach the bottom third of the stuff, and the pump spout gets all gunky. Plus the bottle is heavy and awkward for travel. Ounce per ounce, the trial and full sizes cost exactly the same. Trial size for the win!!


Friday, May 05, 2006


I am always, always, always late for stuff. Deadlines, busses, lunch dates ... you name it, I've probably been late for it. I'm so used to being late that apparently, my spring cleaning urge didn't kick in until today. But oh it kicked in with a vengence, and it was my bathroom drawers and cabinets that took the hit.

Being a product junkie and all, you tend to accumulate stuff. Sometimes, the stuff is so awful that you have to forcefully chuck it in the trash to properly communicate your displeasure with it. Most times though, it just kind of sits there. You might use it every now and again when the fancy strikes. But generally, its main job is to clutter your bathroom and gather dust.

It's not the product's fault... it didn't do anything bad. There was maybe just one thing it did that you didn't like, or maybe the smell turned you off. Maybe you used to love it, but got bored of it. Or maybe it's just a good product that you know you'll never get around to using, simply because you're always buying newer and more exciting stuff. So you end up with dozens of barely-used products and increasingly crowded cabinet and counter-space.

Hey, I hear ya. So much so that I went on my own little "purge" mission. Why hang on to all this stuff when there's someone out there who might need it or want it? And so I wandered on over to my local craigslist site. Craigslist is like a big on-line classifieds section. People can put up ads for pretty much anything they like. Almost every major North American city will have its own craigslist site.

Anyway, I wrote up a little ad offering all my left over beauty junk for free, for whoever wanted them.* (Go ahead and click on that if you want a peek at what used to be in my bathroom) Because who knows, there might be some poor college kid out there who is too broke to buy shampoo. Or maybe some other kindred make-up junkie whose heart skips a beat when she sees "free" and "products" in the same sentence. If you're not using your crappe, why deprive them of it?

And folks, this is a brutal process. I'm sure my list should have been twice as long. Because it's tough to part with your stuff! Small squeaky persuasive voices in your brain will insist:
"Sure you haven't used this perfume since the week you bought it, 2 years ago. But you still like it! You might use it again!"

"Oh come on, this is a good lotion! Yeah you don't use it much now, but what if you ran out of the 4 other bottles you've currently got going?"

"Shucks, you TOTALLY need 3 tubs of styling putty! Nooo don't get rid of that one, it's got a pink label!!!"

But in the end? You totally feel better for it. For one thing, your bathroom will be much neater. Plus, this clears the way for whatever new products you're buying this season. Oh don't lie, you KNOW you're going to buy more. It's what the ad execs of the world have programmed us to do, and do happily.

On top of all that, some person or people out there will be giddy with joy because they just got a bagful of free cosmetics. And hey, maybe they'll Pay It Forward, and be nicer to their mailman, who will then smile extra hard at the coffe dude, who will in turn help the little old lady cross the street, inspiring her to give the homeless guy $10 with which he buys a warm meal, the sight of which somehow makes the brilliant scientist realize the missing key to her experiment and go on to develop the cure for Alzheimer's!

There! Make-up does make the world a better place. I've just proved it.

And if you don't live in a big enough city where an online ad would generate responses? Arrange a swap-night with your friends! Make a poster and put it on the community bulletin board! Visit some churches or shelters and see if they need anything. Because my GOD, how lucky are we that we can afford to buy -- and not use -- 3 bottles of shampoo?

It's soooo easy to do a little bit of good sometimes. In 2 months, you probably won't remember that almost-full bottle of perfume you gave away. But the man who took it from you? The one who is struggling to make ends meet and wouldn't have been able to give his poor overworked wife a Mother's Day present if it wasn't for this? You're not likely to forget the look of excitement and gratitude in his eyes any time soon.

* All that crap was spoken for in under an hour! People LOVE free stuff!