Thursday, 31 March 2011

Some pre-weekend Cuteness (+ Send me your suggestions!)

Hi everyone! I'm working on putting together some new articles for the blog, but in the meantime, here's a touch of cuteness to hold you over :)  When I went to do my makeup the other day, here is what I found in the bathroom sink:

For some strange reason, Sadie loves hanging out in the sink!

Even though I have a few topics in the works, I would love to hear your ideas about what you'd like to see on the blog. What types of product reviews are you interested in? Is there a tutorial you'd like me to put together? Makeup or skincare advice that you're looking for? Please send me any suggestions that you have and I'll do my best to address them here. I aim to please! :)

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

My Top Ten Beauty Looks of Rock n' Roll!

Everyone who knows me well knows that I'm a music fiend with a passion for rock n' roll old and new. While an artist's image is not inherently linked to the quality of their music, fashion, beauty, and performance have gone hand in hand for several decades. Some musicians have built a career around their image, but I've always had a penchant for those who can back up their unique look with veritable talent. In the spirit of honouring the fusion of music and style, here are 10 of my all-time favourite beauty icons of rock n' roll!

It was way too difficult to rank them, so here they are in random order:

1) Debbie Harry
Although it's no surprise that a former Playboy bunny would know a thing or two about glamming it up, Debbie Harry brought a creative, colourful, punk edge to her makeup while fronting Blondie in the '70s and '80s. Her look is still emulated today by those who want to capture her punk-pop-disco spirit.

2) Karen O
This Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman is never lacking in energy and is constantly sporting bold colours that mirror her spunk and intensity. With her signature bangs and vibrant red lips, she is instantly strinking and recognizable.

3) David Bowie
Despite David Bowie's immense musical talent, his daring, androgynous image is what made him a superstar. Whether it be his incarnations as Ziggy Stardust or Aladdin Sane, Bowie embodied the glam rock trend of the '70s and was never afraid to push the envelope. He's one of my all-time favourite artists and undoubtedly a beauty icon.

4) Diana Ross
Diana Ross, one of the most recognizable faces of Motown in the '60s, has always been known for her glamour, fashion, and- at times- her eccentricity. Call her a diva, but you can't deny her influence on the beauty trends of the 1960s (and beyond). Mod meets Rhythm and Blues.

5) Patti Smith
Althought it may seem strange that I've included a perpetually makeup-free artist on my list, Patti Smith is one of my beauty icons because her look was characterized by pure confidence and lack of concern for conventional, feminine beauty. This simplistic punk aesthetic ironically ended up creating her signature, and much emulated, androgynous image.

6) Gwen Stefani
Although my interest in Gwen's music quickly declined after the dissolution of No Doubt years ago, I cannot deny that her signature style has had a massive impact on the music world as well as on teenage girls everywhere. It's a look I've copied many times myself! Certainly inspired by the Hollywood starlets of the 1940s and '50s, Gwen introduced the red-lipped, bold lashed look to a new generation of women in the '90s.

7) Joan Jett
One of the original female pioneers of rock n' roll, Joan Jett was bold, brash, and definitely talented. A perfect combination of glamour and edge. And who else could make a mullet look so good? :)

8) Bjork
Although she's always been more well-known for her eccentric fashion choices, I've always been drawn to Bjork's playful, colourful approach to makeup. Her look, like her personality, is quirky, eclectic, and energetic.

9) Alison Mosshart
Though this may be somewhat of a self-indulgent choice (as most of you probably don't know who this is), I've added Alison Mosshart to the list not only because she is one of my all-time favourite female singers, but also because she has a unique style that is both classic and carefree. Fronting both the Dead Weather and the Kills, her ever-dishevelled hair and cat-eyed liner complement her powerful, sultry voice.

10) Boy George
... And one more male beauty icon to round off my list. Everyone who has known me for a while knows that I went through a bit of a Boy George phase in high school. Although the music he created with Culture Club in the '80s was undoubtedly infectious, it was his fearless, colourful image that fascinated me. His was another look that I emulated when I was younger- in a more toned-down, Catholic school-friendly sort of way :) Love or hate his look (or his often questionable antics), he has definitley earned his place as a beauty icon.

So there you have it! I hope you enjoyed this one as much as I did. Agree- or disagree- with any of my choices? Think I left anyone out? Let me know! I'd love to hear your comments about this...

Monday, 28 March 2011

Putting a Popular At-Home Facial Peel to the Test: Update!

If you’ve been reading, you’ll remember that I started using Dr. Dennis Gross’ Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel last Monday, to initial rave reviews. As a refresher, this product promises to clear imperfections, even skin tone, soothe redness, and smooth fine lines, all in a formula that’s gentle enough to use every day. I purchased the most affordable option in the line, the 10-pack of treatments, sold for $32 at Sephora.

Well, I’ve been using the peel for about a week now, so I thought it was time for an update! The salesperson at Sephora suggested that I use the peel for a few nights in a row, until my skin calmed down, and then gradually spread the treatments apart to about once per week. He said that even though the product claims to be suitable for daily use, once a week should be plenty in the long term, especially for sensitive skin like mine.

I used the peel four nights in a row (last Monday-Thursday nights) and this is what I noticed:

·         The flakiness and dryness in my skin had almost completely disappeared. My skin seemed to be absorbing moisturizer better as a result.
·         About 75% of the bumps on my face had significantly shrunk and flattened out, giving my skin a smoother appearance.
·         Because of the reduced dryness and bumps, my foundation applied a lot more evenly on my skin. With my foundation and concealer on, my skin looked nearly flawless!
·         Any irritation I experienced remained minimal, temporary, and tolerable.

·         I did not notice an evening of my skin tone. In fact, it looked a bit blotchier than it had before I started using the product.
·         There was still a lot of redness to my skin. Although many of my blemishes had reduced in size, they remained quite red and apparent against my fair skin.

Overall, with makeup on, my skin looked much improved. With no makeup on, however, my skin’s appearance was not any better and, if anything, a bit more uneven. Although I was extremely pleased that my makeup was wearing better and my dryness had reduced, ultimately my hopes with any skincare product is that it will make my bare skin look more clear, calm, and even- thus requiring less makeup to cover things up.

Then on Friday, I started to notice a few new blemishes popping up. And not just any zits- red, painful, and- dare I say- angry looking ones. This was upsetting! My best guess at what had happened was that by using the peel four nights in a row, I had actually over-exfoliated my skin, leaving it irritated and more prone to breakouts. So, rather than ditching the product altogether, my goal now is to start spreading out the treatments (to twice a week initially, then to once per week), to see if the irritation subsides. After taking two nights off, I used the peel again last night and no new skin disasters this morning! Hoping this trend continues J

While I suppose that this review would be a bit more compelling if the product was a complete success or an utter failure, my dedication is to providing you with realistic, veracious reviews that truly reflect the product and my experiences with it. And hey, with all those blindly glowing product reviews in magazines, maybe it’ll be a bit refreshing to read an unbiased account once in a while!

Regardless of my mixed opinions of the Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel so far, the plan is to continue using it (on a non-daily basis) and see how my skin looks and feels once I’ve used up all 10 treatments. When I’m finished, I promise to give you another update about the product, complete with my final verdict. Hope you’ll check it out!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Timeless Beauty: Sulty Starlet Makeup of the 1940s

Although I've sported many wild and crazy makeup looks in my day, the one look that has always been most appealing to me is one that is classic and iconic: that of the bold, sultry 1940s Hollywood starlet. We all recognize the striking, dramatic black and white glamour shots of actresses such as Veronica Lake, Rita Hayworth, and Lauren Bacall:

Veronica Lake

Rita Hayworth

Lauren Bacall

Such images popularized the look of wavy, pinned hair, deep side parts, bold lips, and smoldering eyes. Colour photos of these starlets not only solidify these beauty trends, but also reveal the colour palette behind this classic look: Rich, red-stained lips, nude cheeks, strong, defined brows, matte, flawless skin and lots of lashes. Polished, sophisticated, and definitely sexy. What girl wouldn't want to channel this look once in a while?

As the makeup  industry was booming in the 1940s, some Hollywood actresses even began acting as the face of major beauty brands (which was novel at the time, but seems so common place today). In these ads, they even further popularized the red-lipped, lush-lashed face that characterized the time. Here is Rita Hayworth advertising her "favourite shade" of Max Factor lipstick.

It is clear that the 1940s Hollywood starlet look has continued to influence makeup artists and celebrities decades after its inception. With all of the makeup trends that the '60s, '70s, and '80s had to offer (love them or hate them!), today's red carpets and fashion magazines remain crowded with stars and models doing their best Veronica Lake impression. Here are a few:

The ever crimson-lipped Gwen Stefani

January Jones

Veronica Lake-inspired look from  Harper's Bazaar

Here are a couple of pictures of one of my previous attempts at a '40s starlet look. It was for a film noir-themed party a couple of years ago. Can't say I perfected the look, but it was not a bad try!

Because I did this look a while ago, I can't remember exactly which products I used, but I'm pretty sure I used MAC Ladybug lipstick ($17.50 CAD, at MAC stores and counters). It's my all-time favourite red lipstick! It's slightly sheer, but can be layered to make it more intense. For other classic Hollywood reds, I recommend Chanel Rouge Allure Lipstick in Lover ($37 CAD at Holt Renfrew and The Bay) and Clinique Long Last Soft Shine lipstick in Red Licorice ($18 CAD at Sephora, The Bay, and Sears).

I've been thinking of putting together a photo tutorial of how to create at 1940s starlet look. If that's something you'd be interested in, please let me know and I'll get working on it!

Thanks for reading :)

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Tribute to a Beauty Legend: Elizabeth Taylor

I was saddened this morning to hear about the death of Elizabeth Taylor. She was known for her violet eyes, her Oscar wins, and her many (many!) marriages. In addition, she was a true beauty icon and eventually a cosmetics mogul in her own right. She was also a strong proponent of AIDS research, which was a cause she supported into her later years. As a tribute to this film legend, here are a few of her most iconic beauty looks:

Fresh look from the 1950s

Epitome of Old Hollywood Glamour

From Cleopatra, 1963

Embracing the Mod look of the 1960s
Couldn't resist this cute kitty picture

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Veracious Skincare Review: Putting a Popular At-Home Facial Peel to the Test!

Hi, everyone! Here is my first-ever skincare review on this blog. While makeup is my main focus, I've always had a soft spot for skincare as well. And since my skin has always given me troubles, I've had a lot of motivation to try a variety of products! In particular, my skin is quite acne-prone (which becomes more and more irritating as I get farther and farther away from my teen years), but is also very sensitive. This makes finding suitable skincare tough, because most acne-products are very harsh, and most products for sensitive skin are very rich, which my oily skin does not like!

Recently, my skin has been acting out in the worst kind of way: I'm both breaking out and getting dry patches, which a) doesn't look pretty! and b) makes makeup application difficult. I decided that what I needed was a good exfoliant, something to remove the dead skin from the top layers of my face, which both works to reduce acne and eliminate flakiness. While manual exfoliants (those with scrubby particles) can be fun to use, they can also be quite irritating, damaging delicate skin and spreading bacteria. So I figured that some type of chemical peel would be a wise choice.

I went to Sephora with high hopes and an open mind. After speaking with an incredibly sweet and knowledgeable sales associate (wish I had gotten his name!), this is what I chose:

Dr. Dennis Gross's Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel is advertised as the "#1 Selling At-Home Peel" and boasts 40 Anti-Aging ingredients (!). This product promises a wide-range of benefits for the skin, specifically:

·         Skin-clearing- Controls oil, minimizes pores and acne scars
·         Anti-aging- Reduces fine lines and firms skin
·         Reducing Redness- Calms and soothes irritated skin
·         Brightening- Evens skin tone and minimizes dullness
Even though this is is advertised primarily as an anti-aging product, it was the three other benefits that really caught my eye. Something that clears my skin, calms irritation, and evens out my skin tone? Sign me up! In addition to the main promises above, this at-home peel advertises some other benefits:
·         Gentle enough to use on a daily basis - the sales person said that using the product on a daily basis consistently is a bit much, but the proposed gentleness of the product caught my interest.
·         For all skin types, which I find is a promise that is rarely true- but we'll see!
·         Minimal irritation, which, as someone with sensitive skin, is music to my ears, because so many exfoliants and acne products are extremely harsh.
·         Dermatologist Results at home, again, another exaggerated claim that many dermatologist-inspired lines promote. But again, only time will tell!
·         Easy application,  which is always a plus.
·         Vegan and Cruelty-Free. Something very important to me, especially when it comes to cruelty-free beauty products. And something that many dermatologist lines cannot claim, so this impressed me!
·         Paraben-free. Fewer preservatives is always a nice bonus.

This peel consists of two necessary steps: Step 1, which is the active exfoliating treatment, and Step 2, which is a calming and soothing post-treatment. In the packaging I bought (the most affordable choice, a 10-pack; $32 CAD, at Sephora), they come in individually packaged packets like this:

Step 1 contains powerful exfoliants such as Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid, and Salicylic Acid, as well as antioxidants and anti-irritants like Chamomile Extract and Green Tea Extract. Step 2 includes Retinol, which is also an exfoliating anti-aging ingredient, as well as a variety of antioxidants (such as Vitamins A, C, & E) and calming agents, and is supposed to help skin "recover" from any irritation during Step 1.

I used the peel last night for the first time, and here are my intital reactions:

  • The product, which comes on moistened towelettes, is very easy to use. Just rub gently on your face until the towelette feels dry. That's it! No rinsing required.
  • Any irritation I experienced was very brief
  • I woke this morning to find many of the blemishes on my forehead had significantly reduced in size. What a nice thing to wake up to!
  • My face was less dull and flaky this morning, and my makeup applied much more smoothly over it.
  • I did experience a stinging sensation on my face, that lasted for a few minutes.
  • My skin became somewhat red following the treatment, and was still a bit blotchy in the morning.
  • This product is extremely pricey, and will be an expensive habit if it continues to help!

Overall, I'm giving this product rave-reviews so far because it passed my important "morning after" test. That is, while many facial masks and treatments make skin look better instantly, usually by the next morning my skin has returned to its usual frazzled state. With the Alpha Beta Peel, my skin looked even better upon wakening. Although my skin was slightly irritated afterwards, the stinging and redness were very mild and definitely tolerable.

So, I'm going to keep using the Alpha Beta Peel for the next month or so, and I'll continue to update you on the results. Actually, I'm off to use it again right now! Hopefully this ongoing review will be honest and informative, and will inspire you to seek out solutions for your own skincare issues. Let me know if you have any questions!

Monday, 21 March 2011

Vibrant Spring Lips, Part 2: All About Gloss!

Thanks to everyone who has been reading my blog so far! I really appreciate all your feedback and support :)

As promised, here is an entry that continues the trend of bold, vibrant lips for spring, but features some options for all those lip gloss junkies out there!. Lip gloss offers the advantage of a lighter-weight feel on the lips and can also make the lips look fuller. Even more, gloss typically has a more sheer finish than most lipsticks. That way (for those of you who are a bit colour-shy), gloss lets you indulge in the vibrant colours of spring in a more subtle and wearable way. There are tons of pictures, so let's get to it! Below are a few of my favourite vibrant glosses for spring. And as you can see, my cat Sadie is not camera-shy!

(L-R): Guerlain Kiss Kiss Gloss #480 Apricot Gourmand, Korres Cherry Lip Gloss #54 Fuchsia, Korres Lip Butter in Pomegranate, and Becca Glossy Lip Tint in Fuchsia Crush

I've chosen to feature these glosses because they all offer beautiful, shining colour with a smooth, non-sticky finish. Glosses with a stickier feel may offer longer-lasting colour, but I find that tacky feeling very uncomfortable- and who wants their hair to be sticking to their lips all day? Not me! The first gloss is Guerlain's Kiss Kiss Gloss in Apricot Gourmand ($34 CAD, at Sephora, The Bay). It's definitely on the pricey side, but it offers a sheer, shimmery finish that it totally smooth and comfortable to wear. Because it has an golden-orange colour base, it's great for those with warmer complexions. Here's a pic of it in the tube, then on my lips:

Next up is Korres' Cherry Lip Gloss in Fuchsia ($22.50, CAD at Sephora). Korres is a Greek brand that doesn't get a lot of press, but makes some wonderful products for lips that are very moisturizing. And this one smells like cherries! As you can see, I've worn this one quite a bit. It definitely packs a colour punch, but is sheer enough to wear on a daily basis:

Korres also has a line of fantastic Lip Butters ($14 CAD at Sephora) that come in a pot and offer sheer colour and a ton of moisture. I'm loving their Pomegranate flavour for its yummy smell and apricot pink tint. Here's what it looks like:

Finally, Becca's Glossy Lip Tint in Fuchsia Crush is probably my favourite of the bunch. It offers vibrant colour, feels smooth and  moisturizing on the lips, and smells like strawberries! The shade is not for the meek, but it can be worn sheerly enough to brighten up any face. Becca is a bit harder brand to find, but can be found at Here are some pics of it:

Becca Glossy Lip Tint in Fuchsia Crush, against my NC20 skintone.

For some more affordable, and easily accessible options, also check out MAC Lipglass ($17.50 CAD, at MAC stores and counters) in Pink Poodle or Lychee Luxe, or Revlon Colour Burst Gloss in Strawberry ($12.99 CAD, at Shoppers Drug Mart).

Overall, lip gloss is a great way to play with the trend of vibrant lips without committing to the full colour and often matte finishes of a lipstick. There are tons out there to try, so have fun experimenting! :)