28 February 2008

a few of my favourite things

As promised, here are some of my absolute favourite, must-have beauty items. Apologies to my male readers. The next post will be about Rambo 3 or something like that. I'm not trying to pull an Oprah, just to pass on my (ahem) well researched findings.

I have had a lifelong love affair with makeup. From the day I first busted into my mom's lavender vinyl makeup bag in the 80s to my present-day habit of roaming makeup stores to relax, my obsession is a strong one. So, after trying lots of products on myself, my friends, and my photography subjects, I have come across some real goodies. These are a just a few of my highly recommended products.

1. L'Oreal HIP (high intensity pigment) eye shadow

When it comes to vibrant, easily blendable eyeshadow, MAC and Makeup Forever generally reign supreme over the wimpy pigments of drugstore brands. Recognizing that a demand for bright and bold colours has returned, L'Oreal introduced its HIP line. The eyeshadows are comparable to those of MAC for a fraction of the price. The colour selection isn't huge, but L'Oreal plans to release new colours seasonally. I like this product because I can get a crazy coloured shadow I will only wear occasionally for a lot cheaper than I could at MAC.

2. Nars blush in Orgasm

I had heard about this blush for years, but I only bought it this past weekend. Every writeup I came across called it "the most universally flattering shade of blush," and beauty editors and bloggers seem to agree. I like this product because it gives the look of a natural flush and it has a great gold shimmer mixed in with the neutral pink.

3. Smashbox Photo Finish primer

By no means do I use this product every day. I use it when I want my skin to look flawless (porcelain doll-esque, I swear) for a special event or photo. The cosmetologist I first bought this from told me that Smashbox photo studios designed all of their makeup products to mimic the effect of airbrushing, to minimize the amount of post-editing/photoshopping that needs to be done on their portraits. This primer fills in large pores, fine lines, dimples, scars, and generally smooths out the face. It also provides a silky base for foundation and blush. Again, this is a special occasion only product for me (I'm slightly afraid of becoming dependent on it otherwise) but it yields pretty magical results. I like this product because it makes skin look absolutely, almost eerily flawless.

4. Benefit Hollywood Glo

Made by one of my favourite cosmetics companies, Benefit, Hollywood Glo purports to give an old Hollywood sheen to the complexion. You can either put it on under foundation to give a subtle glow, or over top on cheekbones and temples for a pink-gold shimmer. I like this product because it makes people look so pretty.

5. MAC fluidline in Uppity

All of the MAC fluidlines are gel eyeliners to be applied with a small brush. They go on smoothly, set really well, and stay on for a long time. The gold is just so cool and looks amazing on dark skin. If you are pale like me, I suggest applying it over a medium to dark, matte shadow. I like this product because it is easier to use than liquid liner, and it looks amazing for a night out.

6. Cover fx foundation

This stuff is intense. It will cover anything, and stay put. It's much too thick for everyday wear, or for applying all over the face (unless you feel you need heavy coverage, have intense rosacea or uneven pigmentation that you want to cover up) but it is great for covering splotchy redness (my worst enemy), zits, or anything you want to hide. I would suggest dusting a light layer of transluscent powder over top to set it, as it tends to maintain its creamy consistency on your face. I use my (clean) fingers to apply it, as the sponge it comes with doesn't seem to blend it very well and the heat from fingers helps it blend smoothly. I like this product because I can count on its endurance to cover up zits or redness for a long time.

7. Benefit Benetint lip and cheek stain

This is my favourite product of all time. I love the look of lipstick, but hate the gross feeling and the constant need to reapply. I have tried long lasting lipstick in the past, and liked them, but a lot of them contain phthalates, which are harmful chemicals. Random fact: a UK based study that was released last year reported that women who wear makeup every day absorb up to 2 pounds of makeup into their bodies every year. Makes you kind of want to go organic, eh? Benetint is a rosy stain that colours your lips and cheeks lovely dark pink. It stays on all day and if you layer it you can get a nice berry shade going. I like (love) this product because it looks great on everyone and stays on a long time.

8. Bare Escentuals Bare Minerals i.d. foundation
After reading about the entire Bare Escentuals line, I was intrigued by the company's promises for the foundation: it goes on extremely lightly giving the feeling of wearing nothing at all, and that it is "so pure you can sleep in it." A sassy salesperson at Sephora showed me how to apply it (tip a tiny amount of the powder into the lid, swirl the brush in the product, tap off excess, and "buff" onto skin in light, circular motions .

When I first tried it on myself, it seemed as if nothing was happening. How could such a small amount of product do anything? After a little more "buffing," all of a sudden my skin looked even and clear. The blotchiness was gone! I used a small eyeshadow brush for additional coverage under the eyes and on any blemishes. I had Brian look at my face in the unforgiving daylight to see what he thought. He said it looked like I wasn't wearing makeup, and was less "cakey" than my usual liquid foundation. I like this product because it is light and very natural looking.

9. MAC eyeshadow palette
I've already talked about MAC eyeshadows. I love them. The thing I wanted to point out about the palette is that you end up saving money by buying shadows this way rather than individually. Whereas a single eyeshadow is $14.50 CAD, the palettes of 4 cost $45. I like this product because it saves me money and keeps my makeup bag more organized.

10. MAC brushes
I faithfully wait until the holiday season to buy my MAC brushes in the gift sets, because of the amazing savings. For example, this year I got a set of 5 brushes and a pretty gold case for $58. If I had bought the brushes individually, it would have cost me close to $150. I know $58 still might seem like a lot of money, but if treated with care these brushes will last a lifetime. They also ensure better distribution of the makeup, which will make your products last longer and save you money in the long run. A lower budget option would be the Quo brushes from Shoppers Drug Mart. I like this product because it makes makeup go on smoothly and precisely.

11. Rimmel kohl eyeliner
This is, in my opinion, one of the best drugstore products. I am also a huge fan of liquid liner, which never creases or smears and looks so retro, but does require a steady hand and some practice to apply correctly. For basic, every day wear or for a smoky eye, I love Rimmel liner. I like this product because it is cheap, creamy and blends well.

12. Quo brow powder and wax
Brows are often the most overlooked feature of the face. Nothing ruins a great face like bad eyebrows. To get a great brow, it's best to to fight your natural shape but to work with it. I have naturally thin brows with little to no arch. I envy people with dramatic arches, but I have learned through experience that I cannot pluck an arch into my measly brows. So, I define my natural shape instead. Powder works better than pencil because it stays put longer and tends to blend in with the brows more naturally. It also looks less drawn-on. Remember to use one shade lighter than your brow colour. I'm not advocating for the Quo version specifically, just for brow powder in general. I chose the quo one because it was affordable and had a good taupe colour for me. I like this product because it grooms the brows, which frame the face.

13. MAC blush in Peaches
As I've mentioned, MAC is known for its vibrant colours. This sunny, peach-toned blush is just so pretty, though it's best for lighter complexions. A cheaper choice would be one of L'Oreal's Colour Match blushes. I like this product because it is great for creating a clean, fresh, natural look.


Erin said...

That's a fairly perfect list. I am a closet make-up junkie myself, though nowhere on par with this - my kit contains more Maybelline than MAC. I am loving mineral powders though - so nice on the skin!

Nars Orgasm is definitely every beauty editor's crack, as is the oh-so-hard-to-find Chanel nail polish in 'Vamp'. I would love to find a bottle of THAT someday.

I'm thinking about biting a perfume version of this post, haha.

Dallas said...

Yeah it took me a while to venture into the mineral realm, mostly out of laziness and loyalty to my liquid foundation...but it's pretty neat stuff. I would love a perfume pics post. I need to learn to finish one bottle before scouting a new scent.

sarah nicole said...

oooh this makes me want to go to sephora! and i don't even like sephora all that much. seriously, is there nowhere to buy fancy makeup without fluorescent lighting and hot pink everything?

Jess said...

Best. Post. Ever. Haha - this is great, Dallas! I'm definitely going makeup shopping today now!

Jenn said...

Dal, I've been waiting for this post, so great!

It's comforting to see that we're still on the same page with a lot of stuff. You've given me some great ones to check out too.

Mac's "mythology" would be another great brow filler for you. I took me a while to learn to love my shape too (for once I'm not talking about weight), but so worth it...I shudder when I see pics of the browless teenage version of myself.

I was surprised you didn't mention the ever-so-faithful shark's skin after introducing me to those instructional videos on you tube.

Also, have you checked out OPI (as in the nail polish we love)'s lipstick? I think you'll like it.

I can't wait for our next much new stuff to play with!!!

Dallas said...

Sarah: I enjoy Sephora for what it is, and what it offers, but I have BAD luck with sassy employees. Buying/browsing makeup should be a pleasurable experience, not one in which the customer is sassed by the staff. Hrmph.

Jenn: I actually have yet to try Sharkskin, though I have been looking at it longingly for a while now. I am googling OPI lipsticks right now. Thanks for the tip.

Anonymous said...


You may want to reconsider, for example, Mars.