Friday, December 31, 2010

A New Year...

Whoa, so 2010 has come to an end...
It was a year filled with ups and downs for me, a year of meeting amazing new people and keeping close with the people that matter most.

I love being a part of the beauty community, and I am so very grateful for all my amazing blog readers and subscribers.
It's been an amazing year in that aspect and I've enjoyed starting my YouTube Channel and getting more involved with my blog... I'm feeling more inspired than ever and will definitely keep it up.

I hope you all have a safe and fun New Year's Eve and an even better 2011!

You're all fabulous and you have no idea how happy I am to share this hobby with you :)

xoxoxoxo and see you in 2011 (apologies for the cheesy joke, but I just had to!)

- Sandra

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Getting back into bronze and gold... (FOTD)

After a long love affair with cool-toned browns, greys and taupes for most of fall and winter this year, I decided to slightly change things up last night before heading out with some friends.

I've been in a bit of a makeup rut lately. My hair is in dire need of a change, my face is paler than its ever been, and I just needed a bit of a kick... so out with the pinky nude lips and dark smokey taupes, in with some bronze and a slight hint of cherry on the lips!

Here's what I had on:

- Estee Lauder Silver Leaf DoubleWear cream eyeshadow all over the lid. This was limited edition but you can get the same result by priming your lid with MAC's new Dangerous Cuvee paint pot from their Champ Pale collection.
- Bare Minerals Nude Beach eyeshadow in the inner corner
- NARS Fez eyeshadow everywhere else (all over the lid and on the lower lashline). A perfect dupe for this would be Mulch by MAC.
- MAC Blacktrack Fluidline
- Makeup Forever Smoky Lash Mascara

- Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation (Shade #5)
- Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage Concealer
- Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Powder
- NARS Laguna Bronzer
- NARS Mounia Blush

- Dior Addict Ultra Gloss in Linen Beige (#317)
- mixed in a TINY drop of Chanel Dragon Rouge Allure Laque for a bit of a cherry red kick

Sadly the Dior gloss is discontinued but it looks like this:

Dior tend to "recycle" lipgloss colours and always have similar shades coming out.
If you're in need of a nice opaque non-sticky pigmented shimmery dark golden beige gloss... look closer at Dior's Addict gloss range.
They're great, you get a ton of product and shades like this are perfect for wearing alone when you have a nice tan or for taming wilder lip colours (or adding an extra shimmery punch if needed!)

That's my story for now! Have you been trying to change things up lately?

Hope you're all starting the week of right :)


- Sandra

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Review: Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation

Happy wednesday!

I just finished recording a video with a quick review of the foundation that I have been using lately - Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk - and I wanted to do a blog post to go along with it since I wanted to post some more pictures to show how this foundation looks on the skin.

Without flash:

With flash:

(I am also wearing MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural in Medium Dark, Benefit Hoola Bronzer and L'Oreal blush in W5-6 "Subtle Sable")

Click here to see the video!

Overall, I am liking this foundation very much.
Here's a quick screenshot of what the Armani website has to say about their lovely product:

They've pretty much described it spot-on.

I am quite pale now and am using shade #5 for the winter. It's not a perfect match (it's slightly more pink than my skintone) but it's easy to make it work.

In the video I blab on and on about how easy it is to blend - and it's true. Probably one of the easiest to blend foundations I've used to date. Also has the most natural look as well.
I apply it with my fingers since with a traditional foundation brush (I have the MAC 190) it looks a bit streaky. The fingers are often the best tools when it comes to blending in more emolient/watery foundations such as this one.

-Feels completely weightless on the skin.
-Photographs well (contains no SPF)
-Easy to blend (takes less time to get ready!)
-Natural skin-line finish (not too matte, not too dewy)

-$59 in US, $65 in Canada (and probably even more in other parts of the world!)
-If you have oily/combination skin, it does need setting powder
-poor lasting power on oilier skins
-Wouldn't be a suitable summer foundation (lacks SPF and doesn't combat major oiliness)

For me, the pros definitely outweighed the cons for winter. When my skin needs a bit more moisture, this foundation is quite perfect.

For the summer, I am not so sure... my skin does get quite oily and this foundation is not very resistant on that skin type. They do make a UV version of this foundation that's catered to oilier skins that I would be interested in trying.

At the Armani counter when the make-up artist applied it on me, she used an Armani pressed powder foundation to set it and I was amazed at how flawless it looked and how long it lasted without touch-ups.
The powder contained an SPF of 35 which would make it ideal for summer time... so watch this space, I may get that in a few months and keep you updated.

Have you tried this foundation before?
Do you have any other recommendations by Armani or do you find the brand over priced and over rated?
I'm always keen to read your opinions!

Have a great holiday season and keep an eye out for some much overdue Outfit Of The Day posts! It's the holiday party season after all :)


- Sandra

Monday, December 20, 2010

Pretty shiny things...

I've always been quite minimalistic when it comes to jewelry.

I'm quite picky and over time I've come to prefer having a collection of a few nice things rather than boxes upon boxes of crap that gives me green stains or bends and breaks after one use.

I just did a major jewelry clean-up last month and am now looking for some new additions.

As of late, I've really been admiring gold and white enamel combinations... here's what I've been eyeing lately:

1. 24k Gold Plated Earrings - Oscar De La Renta
2. White Arty Ring - Yves Saint Laurent

I don't usually like big earrings on myself, but these Oscar De La Renta statement earrings are just so beautiful! They really caught my eye. I'd love to check them out in person and see how heavy they are... the reason I steer away from dangly earrings is that they weigh my ears down and make me uncomfortable... but hey, sometimes you find a pair that's just so pretty - it's worth a bit of suffering :)

As for the ring, it's a pretty famous one. YSL does them in plenty of colours and I have mentioned it before. This white one has to be my favourite so far though. Again, I hate not being able to see these in person and try them out before I buy, but if I were to take the plunge on any piece this holiday season, it would probably be the YSL Arty ring!

Do any of you own one? Is it nice and solid? I hate flimsy rings!

PS: no jewelry post would be complete without a cute jewelry box!
I found this at Anthropologie the other day and I've been thinking of going back for it.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cold Friday Afternoon Droolworthiness...

It's absolutely freezing outside. Snow, ice, and all that good stuff.
I am completely unprepared for the holidays and my last exam for the semester is tomorrow (woohoo!)...
So what's better than to take a little study break and think about some beautiful things that would keep me warm and cozy during this frigid season.

Here is my ever so cozy wintery wishlist:

1. Shearling lined robe - Anthropologie
2. Studded cashmere scarf - Burberry
3. Beige cardigan - 3.1 Phillip Lim

Simple and to the point. That robe looks SO soft and comfortable, I may just have to try hunting it down at an Anthropologie store nearby. The other two are out of my price range at the moment, but are extremely beautiful nonetheless.
I prefer the black-gray-white large check pattern to the traditional camel or beige ones that Burberry has to offer. This scarf is nice and long, with gunmetal studs at the bottom.
As for the cardigan, you can really never have too many cardigans. I really want a light-coloured one like the Phillip Lim offering above (maybe at student budget-friendly pricing, though) to add to my group of black/gray/navy.

That's what has caught my eye so far today...

Are you lusting for any winter items in particular?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Used up so far... Part V

Last one of these for the time being - I promise!

I've been working through more stuff this week and have significantly freed up my little skincare shelf (my lipstick/lipgloss count is still ridiculous but hey, one step at a time!)

I am not going to go in too much detail about these like I have in previous posts since I've talked about most of the items either in a video or a previous blurb on a blog post. But here's what I finished this week and a quick little recap:

1. Valentino "V" Eau de Parfum

This was one of those "on a whim" purchases one day because I remembered one of my friends using it and it smelling amazing on her so I had to try it out for myself.
Well, it did not smell nearly as lovely on me and while I did enjoy it and use it, it did make it into the "Perfumes to wear to work" category on my little perfume shelf. That section on my shelf is sadly for the rejects of my perfume collection. It's a bit too sweet for me, I'd say. It's sweet and mature. Since I'm useless at describing notes, here's a little quote from an online retailer:

"This phenomenal scent includes the mixture of mandarin grapefruit, freesia, fig, bulgarian rose, lei, ambergris, and woods."

You can definitely smell those Bulgarian roses... it has quite a distinct rose undertone.

2. L'Oreal Voluminous Million Lashes Mascara

I really hated this mascara at first, was extremely watery and flaky, but after about a month it became more bearable after it dried a bit (don't you hate when that happens? I don't like to wait a month for my mascaras to work nicely!). For me it worked more as a lengthening mascara than a volume-boosting mascara, to be honest. It has a plastic brush, which I am not a fan of. I prefer the classic softer brushes with bristles on my mascara wands.
Ultimately, this worked nicely for adding length but since I have other mascaras that I favour, I will not repurchase this one.
L'Oreal Voluminous Carbon Black is still better, and Makeup Forever Smoky Lash is still my all-time favourite. I'd rather repurchase either of those instead :)

3. MAC "She Loves Candy" Lipglass

Won't say too much about this since it's limited edition. It was part of the Hello Kitty collection that MAC came up with in 2008. Nothing really special... just a pretty shimmery light link lipgloss. Quite sheer, but gave a nice frosty effect on the lips! I'm just happy I used up a lipgloss, to be honest.

4. Chanel Pro Lumiere Foundation (Shade 40, Intensity 2.0)

This lasted me quite a long time, just over a year... mind you it only matched my skin with a tan. The coverage was amazing, the finish was nice. The only problem is that with skin as mine (mostly oily), it gets greasy-looking quite quickly and starts feeling very heavy. Also I would not recommend this if you have any deep acne scarring since it settles into the grooves of the skin and accentuates uneven skin texture.
This definitely worked better for me when I mixed it with lighter, more matte foundations (like YSL Teint Resist or Dior Nude).
On the rare occasions when my skin felt rather "normal" and didn't have any oily or dry spells, Pro Lumiere delivered by itself. When sheered out with a flat foundation brush it looked really good all day long.

If you have normal skin and need a good medium coverage foundation, definitely give Pro Lumiere a try! It just didn't always work for me... we had a love/hate relationship.

5. MAC Cleanse-Off Makeup Oil

This is one of my favourite makeup removers! Been using it for almost a year now. If you wear a lot of mascara, waterproof eyeliner and very long-lasting foundation, this is sure to melt it all off and get your face nice and clean for your night-time cleansing.
A pump of this massaged on the skin dissolves all the make-up, then as you rinse with water it turns into a white milky liquid and everything washes off. Doesn't strip the skin of any moisture and has a nice faint citrus smell. It didn't break me out but all our skins are different, so you'd have to experience it for yourself :)

That's it for me this week!
Since I've ran out of so many essentials, I did purchase a few new things this week... a video wil be coming up soon!

Have a wonderful weekend and keep me posted on what you've been loving and using lately.


- Sandra

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Used up so far... Part IV

Hello there! It's that time again... time to show you a few more items I've used up and my views on them:

1. Cellnique Advanced Bio Renewal Serum

This creamy white serum is lactic and glycolic-acid based and is supposed to gently exfoliate your face and promote skin cell reproduction. I received this from Cellnique several months ago amongst a couple other products, and this was by bar my favourite out of the bunch.
It is very gentle and great to use if you are new to acid-based products and tend to have very sensitive skin. A lot of chemical exfoliants out there are quite harsh and can spark quite the reaction if you just shock your skin and slap them on out of nowhere. I used to have severe itching and burning when trying to do other at-home glycolic acid peels, but since I used this, I have gradually built more of a tolerance and am now able to move on to higher concentrations.
It does tingle a bit for the first half an hour or so after putting it on. I used this every other day this fall (at night, without any moisturizer).

I didn't use this in the summer since any type of chemical exfoliation isn't exactly recommended when you're being exposed to sunshine. It has definitely helped with the fading of those persistent after-blemish marks (you know those suckers that usually take WEEKS to go away) and has made my skin smoother. Strangely enough I've also been using it on my neck and chest for the past month too and that's where it's made the most visible difference. My skin is literally glowing and I used to get small blemishes on my chest that have completely stopped.

Anyways, enough blabber! I liked this product a lot, however, it does cost $51 and is only available online (at They have free worldwide shipping offers which is nice, but sometimes I just prefer brands that are more accessible and I can physically buy in-store. Other brands like Dermalogica and Kate Somerville have similar offerings in the same price range that I'd like to try out first before deciding on whether to repurchase the Cellnique serum or not. Will definitely report back on my acid exfoliation journey... perhaps a comparison post later on!

2. Shiseido The Skincare Extra Gentle Cleansing Foam

I purchased this on a whim in the summer with my precious Shoppers Drug Mart Optimum Points because Cetaphil Oily Skin Cleanser wasn't cutting it and I needed a deeper clean.
I don't usually like foaming cleansers because I find them quite drying and they tend to be full of nasty chemicals (parabens and SLS, yuck!) but after careful observation of the ingredients list, this had none of them so it was the winner! Extremely gentle yet effective cleansing, I must say. Non-offensive scent and a little goes a long way. You literally need about a dime-sized amount for your whole face to be covered by thick, luxurious foam.

However, it does have a couple of downsides:
First off, it didn't work with my Clarisonic. I tried it and it was just odd. Secondly, it's not that cheap. At $30 for a mere 4 ounces of product, you do tend to go through this quite quickly if you use it as your primary cleanser. I only used it on occasion when I felt like I was a big greaseball, but you would easily need to repurchase every month or so.
The upside - it can be COMPLETELY duped. I've tried Clinique's "Rinse-Off Foaming Cleanser"and can safely say it is pretty much the exact same thing. It smells a bit "soapier", if that makes any sense, but it's only $18.50 and you get 5 ounces of product. Score!

So, no, unfortunately I wouldn't repurchase the Shiseido cleanser and I'm quite happy I used my rewards points on it rather than dishing out the cash. Some items are worth spending extra on, and this sadly just isn't one of them.

3. MAC Pro Eye Makeup Remover

I won't blab about this one too much, I promise. I've talked about this before. It's been my favourite eye-makeup remover for the past 4 years now (I have tried those oily ones like Lancome Bifacil and all that jazz and I wasn't a fan, they made my eyes misty and itchy).
Now, I don't use any waterproof eye makeup so maybe that's why it works so well for me. It's just perfect at correcting any mistakes during eyeliner application, doesn't leave an oily residue - you can literally remove all eyeshadow and start all over fresh without a rinse or waiting too long. It's really gentle and just an overall great product.

Would I repurchase this? Yes! I've been using this for years. However I did buy the Bioderma Sensibio Micelle solution last week and it works pretty much the exact same way, so I may switch on over to that one instead just because it's $22 for 250 mL versus the MAC which is $18 for 100 mL. I'm all about savvy skincare shopping these days haha

Anyways, that's all for me this week! Look out for a new video tomorrow, I've got a couple of things to show you and some of my favourite lipglosses to rave about :)

Hope you all have a great weekend... I'm SO excited for the X-Factor finals... I'll be glued to my computer and tweeting frantically (I watch an online stream of it on

Until next time!

- Sandra

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Winter nailpolish goodness...

I love digging into the depths of my nailpolish bin and re-discovering an old love.

This post's subject is a very cool dark nailpolish shade, perfect for winter!
I've been wearing it for the past week and have really been enjoying it. It's "Suzi Skiis In The Pyrenees" by OPI. It was part of their Spain collection last year.

Initially you'd think "oh it's just black" but no, my friends, it is not quite black! The best way for me to describe this quite unusual shade is... a murky charcoal.

It offers the drama of a black nail but with a slight softness to it. You can really see the "murky" qualities of the colour once I photographed the bottle with flash:

The consistency is quite runny yet in two thin layers, if applied carefully, you can get opaque coverage. Since it's not thick and goopy, it is less likely to chip and on me it has definitely lasted longer than other OPI shades.

All in all, this is a pretty neat colour to have in your collection if you are a dark nail freak in the colder months, like I am. It's not quite as stark as a true black nailpolish but satisfies the craving for a dark nail. I think I'll forgo purchasing a true black polish this year as well since I've rediscovered this :)

What have you been wearing on your nails?


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