Friday, August 1, 2014

Travel Makeup Bag Lovin'

I got this awesome new makeup bag from Hold Me and got to put it to the test a couple of weekends ago. It was love at first pack.

I love that it's easy to clean, it has a brush compartment that's neatly separated, a pocket on the sleeve and a divider. It comes in three different sizes and I chose the largest one because I'm a makeup hoarder even when I travel.

The material feels super soft and it's vegan suede. The quality is top notch and I love that it ties together which allows you to really stuff it with items orrrrr be a regular reasonable adult and not bring 10 lipsticks on vacation but I won't judge :P

Here's what I packed for a weekend trip:

I highly recommend these bags. You can get them on Amazon or directly on their website here. They come in different colours/patterns and they are handmade in the USA.

Now let's see how much I can stuff in it when I go to Spain later this month :)



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hair Holy Grails: The Sequel

A couple of weeks ago I shared some of my absolute must-haves when it comes to hair products. Click here to re-visit the post. I have long, fine hair (not a lot of it) that is colour processed. I love messy slightly wavy hair so I absolutely love using volumizing products.

However, since my hair is so fine, I have to be careful when choosing products aimed at adding volume and texture because too much product or the wrong product can weigh the hair down and make it look like a mess (the struggle is real, people).

Here is the second instalment of Hair Holy Grails. The three products I am sharing with you today have been recent loves that I have discovered over the last year and boy oh boy do I love them!

Two of them are by Oribe, which is in my mind the Rolls Royce of hair product lines. I'm a tough critic so not every product I have tried from the brand has been a winner, but these two are absolutely amazing and I will repurchase in a heartbeat - the cult favourite Dry Texturizing Spray (shown here in the travel size version) gives your hair that matte piece-y texture without weighing it down. It's also awesome for adding volume at the crown of your hair if you do any teasing. I personally don't like teasing my hair so I opt for the more airy Thick Dry Finishing Spray for a boost of volume at the roots as the very last step after styling. It's like walking through an organized wind tunnel - adds the perfect amount of airy volume without weighing my hair down.

Oh, and did I mention that both of these smell amazing? You can find Oribe at some high end hair salons, Jacob & Sebastian boutiques in Toronto, Space NK, Net-A-Porter and Neiman Marcus

Last on the dock (and in dire need of a repurchase) is my favourite clarifying shampoo in the universe, Bumble and Bumble Sunday. It gets rid of product build-up and gets my hair as clean as can be. I use it about every other week and it's like a reboot to my hair routine.

I can't recommend these enough and I would love to hear about some of your holy grail hair products in the comment section :)

Shop this post:

Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Vibes...

After a mostly relaxing weekend (read: if there was such thing as a napping championship, I would have won the trophy) I am starting off the week totally recharged and re-inspired.

I even dusted off my Pinterest account and updated some of my boards with inspiring images, namely from the fashion and home decor categories (sprinkle in some recipes here and there). Pinterest is like entering a time-sucking black hole filled with all sorts of awesome things, and sometimes those things involve cheese, bacon and carbs ^_^

Yummy recipes aside, here is my fashion inspiration for the week... my closet "cheese bacon and carbs", if you will:

I like it when the Olsen twins don't look like they're homeless. 

I hope your week is off to a great start! I will be filming my updated skincare routine video, July 2014 beauty favourites and another tutorial this week (time permitting) so catch me on YouTube for more beauty banter later on in the week.



Saturday, July 26, 2014

Benefit "They're Real!" Push-up Liner Review

I gotta hand it to Benefit's marketing team - they did an amazing job at creating buzz, hype and excitement over their new eye liner. I can't even remember the last time the beauty world got so excited about eyeliner! Sadly like with all things that get super hyped up, people have higher expectations and when those expectations are not met, they tend to be more vocal about it. This is what happened with this liner, I think, because the ladies on the Sephora website have not been very kind with their reviews.

I really like this liner. In the spectrum of non-pencil liners I prefer this over gel/cream formulas that come in the pot and that you have to use a separate brush to apply. Call me the Negative Nancy of gel eyeliners, but I just think that they're a pain in the ass and I'd choose a felt tip/brush tip liquid liner any day.

Now back to Benefit Push-up Liner - this isn't a liquid in a felt tip nor a gel with a brush. This has a gel formula in a unique angled rubberized applicator tip. The gel formula isn't as smooth and gliding like MAC Fluidline gel liner, it's more akin to a cream liner formula (like my Shu Uemura painting liner or the Smashbox cream liner). This is why I think many reviewers complain about it - the liner can skip a bit due to not gliding well against the rubber applicator. I think this is awesome for creating a graphic winged liner, so I don't mind going over a couple of times since it's what I have to do to get the line thicker anyway.

This is the easiest liner I've used when it comes to creating even graphic wings on both sides and it's due to the applicator... the angle of the applicator makes it effortless!

As for the formula - I got a solid 8 hours of wear with this without smudging or flaking. It faded a tiny bit at the end of the day but nothing super noticeable. It has a matte black finish, which I appreciate, and it was easy to remove at night with either Bioderma or an oil cleanser. 

If you're a fan of a thicker, more graphic winged line, and you suck at achieving that look using gel liner and a brush, I think that this liner is definitely worth a shot. I like different liners for different looks (a liquid can't be beat for that sophisticated super sharp cat eye, a kohl is best for smudging, etc.) and I definitely have enough room in my heart and my makeup drawer for Benefit's Push-up Liner.

You can find Benefit "They're Real" Push-up Liner at Sephora, Benefit counters worldwide and Shoppers Drug Mart (my Shoppers Beauty Boutique had a big display of them by the checkout!)

Have you tried this liner? What do you think?



Thursday, July 24, 2014

Coolness Alert!!! The Warby Parker Beacon Collection

Are you in the market for a new pair of sunglasses? I feel like I always am and aside from a pair of H&M aviators that I bought last year for beach purposes, nothing has really caught my eye. 
I almost bought those blue flash Ray Bans but managed to talk myself out of it because too many people have them (I'm such a sunglass hipster. Womp.)

Enter my stalker-ish love affair with Warby Parker. Not only do they make gorgeous glasses and sunglasses but with each pair sold, they donate a pair of glasses to someone in need. You can read more about their awesome story here, but think of the as the Toms of glasses! 

They have free shipping to the US and Canada and an effortlessly cool selection of frames - both for prescription glasses/sunglasses or no prescription. Today their new limited edition Beacon collection launches and I thought I'd share my favourites before I go HAM and click the buy button. I don't wear glasses so my first choice would be the Ingram sunglasses. Which colour, you ask? Erm... how 'bout both?

The Ingram model in Tiger Tortoise is an awesome way to spruce up a neutral monochromatic outfit because of the blue lenses, or you can go full out black on black on black (my favourite!) with the Revolver Black option. Want more options? Check out the rest of their sunglasses here. All their lenses are polarized and the prices start at $95. 

I almost want to buy a pair of the regular glasses frames even though I don't have vision problems and tout them around (they'll make me look smarter, right? Right? ... *cricket noise*). My favourites from this limited edition batch are the McKee:

Explore the rest of the Warby Parker Beacon collection and bookmark their site for your next glasses/sunglasses search :)

What are your favourite sunglasses designers?


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Velvet Finish Foundation Round-up

Rummaging through my foundations, I decided to round up the ones that I own that provide the most velvet/matte finish since that is a finish that a lot of us gravitate to during this time of year (especially if your skin is on the oily side). On the dock we have:

Chanel Perfection Lumiere Velvet, Giorgio Armani Maestro and Hourglass Immaculate Liquid Powder foundations. I have more comprehensive reviews of the Chanel here and Hourglass here, but I find that reviews by comparison are even more helpful. I am going to provide you with a nerdy list of my likes and dislikes for each of these. Alas, let's begin.


- this is the best if you have any texture issues/concerns. I have some deeper acne scarring on my cheeks and this smooths out the skin surface perfectly. 
- feels incredibly lightweight and is easy to blend with fingers or a brush (not the beauty blender)
- doesn't oxidize pink on me and it's a decent colour match
- looks incredible when you first apply it on the skin, it's a true velvet finish, with a slight glow from within


- lasting power. It starts looking weird after about 3-4 hours. The coverage gets patchy, the oils break through... not impressed. I actually get longer lasting power from Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua.
- it transfers way too easily. This is the only foundation I've owned in my life where it actually transferred on a boyfriend's face after kissing him. OH HELLZ NO. Unacceptable. 

Verdict: if your skin is normal and you don't get oily patches, I think this is more suitable for you. This has a medium coverage yet feels very light on the skin and gives a nice smooth look to the skin even if you have acne scarring/texture issues. Sadly it just didn't last on my oily skin so I won't be repurchasing.


- the most lightweight and easy to blend foundation I own (best used with fingers)
- the colour doesn't oxidize at all (!!!)
- evens out the skin tone extremely well, has a soft skin-like finish
- really pleasant soft soapy scent
- good lasting power


- the application is a hot mess. It has a dropper... and any accidental drops on clothes do not wash out easily since the pigment of this foundation is suspended in oil
- a nightmare on dry patches. If you have even a hint of dry flaky skin (which can sometimes happen even if you're oily and battling acne) this foundation will cling to it and it will look terrible.

Giorgio Armani Maestro #4
Verdict: if you have normal/slightly oily skin and don't have any texture concerns or dry patches this foundation is perfect for you. It's easy to apply with your fingers and gives a light/medium buildable coverage. Just don't drop any of your clothes unless you want to rack up your dry cleaning bill.


- lasting power. This stuff is water resistant, you can take a swim and this shiz will still be on your face.
- you don't need to set this foundation with powder since it dries exactly to a powder finish
- this is truly the most long-lasting foundation of the bunch


- be careful when selecting a colour since it dries up to a full shade darker.
- hard to apply since it sets to a powder finish quite quickly... you don't have much time to blend it into the skin or to customize the coverage (which is medium coverage, I'd say)
- the pump gets clogged every time because the formulation dries down to a solid powder

Verdict: Maybe I just sucked at applying it.... but I think that this feels slightly heavy on the skin and it's hard to work with. The result is nice and long-lasting, however, so it's a good one to keep on hand for long-haul summer days where water may be involved but you still want your face to look done up.

Have you tried any of these? Do you have any other matte/velvet finish foundation recommendations for me?



Saturday, July 19, 2014

Weekend Wishlist: Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Picks

Such sale. Very Nordstrom. Wow.

The Nordstrom Anniversary sale is upon us now until August 3rd and there are a ton of awesome beauty exclusives to take advantage of. Here are my picks:

1. NARS Cheek Palette ($49)
Perfect for travel. Cult favourite bronzer and blush shades in Laguna and Orgasm as well as two pink shades.

2. Ciate Sundae Best Nailpolish Trio ($25)
I love Ciate nail polishes. They are creamy and apply well - most of them give opaque coverage in one coat. This is a great trio consisting of a sophisticated latte brown shade, a creamy teal and a hot pink.

3. Kiehl's Creme de Corps Lavender Whipped Body Butter ($38)
This is one of my favourite body moisturizes. It's incredibly hydrating without feeling greasy and the scent of the original formula is heavenly. The limited edition Lavender version would be fun to try and the perfect moisturizer to apply before bedtime.

4. Voluspa 3-wick Candle Set ($35.90)
Voluspa candles are awesome. They burn for ages, they are coconut wax based and they have very interesting and luxurious scent combinations. One candle generally retails for about $20-$30 so this is a great value!

5. Laura Mercier Travel Brush Set ($75)
Laura Mercier brushes are so underrated. They are among the best I have tried and the travel versions of her brushes are the exact same quality as the full sizes. This is an awesome set that is both a great deal and perfect for travel.

6. Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Killer Cheekbones Set ($110)
This has me buzzing with excitement - could it be that Charlotte Tilbury will soon be carried at Nordstrom???? AHSUAHAJKSAHSLAJASHAJKSA
You get her famous sculpting brush as well as the Filmstar Bronze & Glow (a beautiful universally flattering bronzer/highlighter duo) in this particular set.

7. NARS Dolce Vita Lip & Nail Set ($52)
NARS Dolce Vita is one of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley's favourite lip colours and it's been on my wishlist ever since I read that fact from one of her makeup artists. This set includes the lipstick, a matching lip gloss and a limited edition matching nail polish. This is the perfect blushing rose shade that enhances your lips while still looking natural.

What do you have your eyes on this sale season?


Friday, July 18, 2014

Hair Holy Grails

I'll be honest, I don't like spending a lot of time on my hair. I am an avid supporter of the "messy hair, don't care" philosophy. My hair is long, fine, color processed and I don't have a lot of it. Thus I don't wash it often (about 3 times a week) and I look for volumizing product ranges.

The three products I am sharing with you today have truly stood the test of time. I've been using/repurchasing them for over 3 years now, and they deliver every time.

First on the dock we have Batiste Dry Shampoo. This was the first dry shampoo brand I ever heard of and the one I always go back to. Like an old friend, Batiste is always there for me. It's affordable, easily available (online or at drugstores) and comes in a variety of scents - "Original" (a clean powdery scent, "Tropical" (coconut) and "Blush" (a powdery floral). There are also "Cool & Crisp", "Cherry" and "Wild" scent options but I haven't gotten the chance to personally smell those yet.
After my last two unscented powder dry shampoos suffered the kiss of discontinued death (RIP Ojon and Fekkai hair powders) I am back to Batiste and I am a happy camper. The Blush scent is my personal favourite. It does leave a slight white cast when you first spray it on but with a bit of tousling it blends in effortlessly with my dark roots, soaks up the oils and adds a bit of volume. Every girl needs a bottle of this on their bathroom shelf!

Kevin Murphy Anti Gravity Spray – This. Stuff. Is. Awesome. Best volumizing mist for fine hair, it comes in a lotion formula as well but I prefer the spray. When you have fine hair, the last thing you want is to weigh it down with extra product. I use this on damp hair at the roots before I blow dry (or air dry) and I always notice the difference this makes. It adds weightless volume, doesn't look greasy and actually extends the style of my hair. I use the term “style” loosely. #messyhairdontcare
I get Kevin Murphy products at my local hair salon, you can use the salon locator on  their website for more info, or order from Amazon!

Shu Uemura Essence Absolue. *bows and prays* this is the best hair oil I have ever used. It smells divine and at over $70 it's expensive but 1-2 pumps are enough to go through the lengths of my hair and this bottle has lasted almost two years. You can get it online at FeelUnique with free shipping worldwide, or at salons that carry the brand. If you're in Toronto - the Bloor location of Holt Renfrew has a lovely corner dedicated to all things Shu Uemura.

What are the hair products you come back to time and time again?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Cleansin' Wednesday: L'Oreal Sublime Fresh Purifying Gel Wash

Hey oily skin girls! It's absolutely gross outside and you feel like your skin could run its own oil refinery. You wake up in the morning greasy, you go to bed greasy... you're on a budget... WHAT DO WE CLEANSE WITH?

I have your answer - you cleanse with this: L'Oréal Sublime Fresh Purifying Gel Wash

I reviewed the foaming cleanser from this range a few weeks back and while I did enjoy that one, I used it up way too quickly... the downside of those handy foaming pumps.
The Purifying Gel Wash, however, is even better.

It's gentle, it has a pleasant scent (lighter and better than that of the foam) and is soap free. It doesn't leave my skin feeling dry, just comfortably cleansed.  Excellent with the Clarisonic or a regular washcloth. I tend to prefer using warm water and a washcloth when I have dry patches on my skin because it tends to slough off dead skin and leaves the surface smooth and primed for makeup.

This is my summer morning cleanser of choice right now! What's yours? Are you a cleanser freak like I am? :)



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What I Wore - Silk & Leather

Now I know why most fashion bloggers look down in their photos - it's infinitely awkward getting outfit photos taken. Or maybe just I am infinitely awkward... 

Anyway, outfit was worn and photos were taken!! 
Let's start off with me trying to answer an imaginary telephone, shall we?

Hello? It's me, Sandra, I don't know what I'm doing. I should probably look down.

Both these pieces were sale finds from this last week. Faux leather shorts from H&M - super comfortable, black AND they have pockets (my favourite!). Found very similar ones online click here.

I like the juxtaposition of leather-like textures with more feminine silk/chiffon blouses. The blouse in question is by ASTR, which is exclusive to Nordstrom from what I understand. They have a collection of cool, well-made blouses that don't break the bank.

Rose gold sandals by B Brian Atwood (similar ones here) to finish off the look.

I'm still obsessed with rose gold and I don't care who knows it.

Hope your week is a great one!

15 steps, then a beauty blog. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.