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Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Makeup of the Month | September: IMATS 2015 Haul!

Hi, everyone! If you saw my previous post, you'll know that the International Makeup Artist Trade Show (IMATS) rolled into Toronto this past weekend and I could not have been more excited. The show brought with it some amazing makeup demos, impressive special effects displays, and- of course- some fantastic shopping deals. Armed with a colour-coded vendor map and the knowledge I gained from last year's show, I tried to visit the booths as strategically as possible to avoid crazy crowds and to get first crack at items that tend to sell out quickly. This is what I came home with! 

Here's a peek at everything I bought all boxed up...

... and then everything open for business!

To delve in further, here are the specifics of everything I chose, including the vendors that sold them and the special show prices that enticed me!

Nigel Beauty Emporium
Nigel is a Hollywood-based retailer that boasts over 60 years of experience and an amazing mix of popular, cult, and makeup artist-driven brands. During last year's IMATS, I learned that Nigel was selling a limited amount of items from Too Faced, Anastasia, and Kevyn Aucoin that sold out super quickly. I was not going to miss the opportunity this time around, so Nigel was among my very first stops! Lo and behold, I quickly discovered a stack of Too Faced palettes that had been on my wishlist for ages. I ended up buying: 

Too Faced Semi-Sweet Chocolate Bar Palette (Show Price: $40 CAD, no tax; Retail: $59 CAD + tax)
I am a huge fan of the original Chocolate Bar Palette and had been eyeing up the sequel since its release. It offers a beautiful mix of shimmer and matte neutrals with a couple brights thrown in. Plus, it smells like chocolate!

Too Faced Sugar Pop Eye Shadow Collection (Show Price: $29 CAD, no tax; Retail: $45 CAD + tax)
This was a limited edition palette that left Sephora before I could make it mine. I was super smitten with the unique, vivid colours it included, just didn't snatch it up on time. When I spotted it at Nigel for this discounted price, it was a no-brainer! 

Makeup Mansion
Last year at IMATSMakeup Mansion's booth was totally swamped. I could see that they sold some of my favourite budget brands like Sleek and bh Cosmetics, but could not elbow my way through the crowds to make a purchase. This year, the Makeup Mansion display was not as centrally located and, as a result, had a much more manageable crowd. I took  my opportunity and picked up:

Sleek Makeup i-Divine Storm Palette ($16CAD- priced near retail, but tax-free and hard to find in Toronto)
I've yet to try Sleek's eye shadow palettes, but I've heard nothing but good things, especially given the affordable price point of the brand! I opted for the Storm Palette, which has a beautiful mix of shimmery, pigmented neutral and jewel tones. I'll be able to do so much with this one!

Sleek Makeup Powder Blush in Flushed ($8CAD)
I am a huge fan of Sleek blushes, so I couldn't resist picking up another. I hadn't tried any of their deeper-hued offerings, and given Fall is upon us, I thought it was about time! I selected Flushed, a warm, matte, tawny berry shade. 

Blur Makeup Room
I discovered Blur at last year's IMATS and have since visited their physical store here in Toronto. I stopped by their booth this year so hoping that they would be carrying O.C.C.'s new Ready To Wear Lip Tars (much easier to apply versions of their cult long-wear lip product) and I actually squealed when I spotted them! It was so, so difficult to narrow down my choices, but I ended up selecting two utterly unique shades that I knew I couldn't dupe with any other brand:

Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Ready-to-Wear Lip Tars in Technopagan and Sebastian (Show price: $15CAD + tax; Retail: $22CAD + tax)
I am a huge fan of O.C.C. Lip Tars for their extreme pigmentation and long-wear. The original packaging, with its squeeze tube and mini lip brush format, was a bit high maintenance though. The new RTW version offers a more traditional lip gloss-style tube with doe foot applicator that makes them so much more convenient! Technopagan is a killer metallic deep dark purple with blue pearl that has gotten rave reviews at every turn. Sebastian is a mid-tone plummy taupe that falls under the "slightly unflattering but oh-so-cool" category. 

I first succumbed to the Hakuhodo hype at last year's IMATS and was not disappointed- these brushes are top-notch! I am pretty full-up on face brushes at the moment and didn't have a big budget for brushes, but think I picked up the neatest-looking eye shadow brush I've seen!

Hakuhodo BJ125 Eye Shadow Brush Round and Angled (Show Price: $28CAD, no tax: Retail $27 USD + tax)
This natural fibre brush is medium-to-densely packed and has a unique angled head with a flat top. I chose it because I think it will work perfectly to apply and blend shadow to the crease and outer corners of the eye. My eyes are larger and this fits perfectly! 

After seeing a talk from Gregory Arlt, MAC's Director of Makeup Artistry, I immediately headed over the the MAC Pro booth, which was luckily much less chaotic than it had been earlier in the day. They did not have all of the products I was hoping for, but I still took advantage of the 20% off show discount and picked up: 

MAC Powder Blush Pro Palette Refill in Cantaloupe (Show price: $16.80CAD + tax; Retail: $21 CAD + tax)
I had asked about Margin blush, as this had been featured in the demo, the the sales associate said that they only had their Pro Blush offerings on hand. She listed the shades and when she got to Cantaloupe, my interest was piqued. After she swatched it, I was sold! Cantaloupe is a gorgeous warm, muted tawny peach with a slightly frosty finish. So up my alley!

MAC Eye Shadow Pro Palette Refill in Wedge (Show Price: $9.60CAD + tax; Retail: $12CAD + tax)
Wedge was featured prominently in Gregory Arlt's talk, as he used it to shade the model's eyes as well as to subtly sculpt and contour the nose. It's a versatile matte neutral mid-toned taupey beige that I know will get a ton of use! 

So there you have it! The beauty booty that I scored at this year's IMATS. I am thrilled with all of my picks and cannot wait to delve in. IMATS has been such an adventure the past two years and these goodies, along with the countless photos, tips, and memories, will be wonderful keepsakes. 

Do you have any of the makeup items I featured here? Have I tempted you? Have you ever attended an IMATS?

Thanks, as always, for stopping by! xo

Sunday, 27 September 2015

My Makeup Mothership: IMATS Toronto 2015!

Hi, everyone! If there's one annual tradition that fuels my inner makeup geek the most, it's the International Makeup Artist Trade Show, or IMATS. It's an epic makeup conference that offers amazing shopping deals, hard-to-find niche makeup brands, talks and demonstrations, and a huge punch of creativity. As someone who is incredibly interested in the artistry side of makeup (I'm not just a professional shopper!), IMATS fascinates me on many levels. Last year was my first trip to IMATS and I was beyond eager to attend this year. As is seemingly tradition, I had a terrible cold when I was there (still hacking up a lung, ugh), but I pushed through and made the very best of it! 

IMATS Toronto took place this past weekend, September 26-27 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. It filled up a spacious hall consisting of vendors, stages, and makeup chairs (plus a highly overpriced cafe, but I'll refrain from complaining about my $8 muffin too much). 

As my blogger status granted me a press pass this year (I'll never get over how exciting that is), I arrived at the centre early hoping for advanced admission. Unfortunately, they were being sticklers this year and held firm at their 9am doors open time. Luckily, a large group of fellow beauty bloggers had the same idea as me, so we hung out in anticipation together!

IMATS Hall before opening
Waiting (im)pateiently with Julie, Chelle, Zoe, and Nicole!
Proudly touting my press pass :)

When 9am struck, the media group (us bloggers included!) were the very first they sent to the doors. It was quite thrilling to get first crack at the makeup booths! I had a highlighted and labelled floor map of the vendors (did I mention I was a beauty nerd?) and my first stops were Frends Beauty and Nigel Beauty Emporium, as they feature harder-to-find brands at good prices and tend to run out of product early. While I was tempted by the Viseart palettes at Frends, it was the amazing Too Faced offers at Nigel that won me over. More on that in my next post where I review my haul!

After those first two stops, I gradually made it through the other vendors on my list. I am usually most excited to peek at the hard-core professional makeup artist brands like Kryolan:

... affordable, impossible to find in Toronto brands like Sleek:  

... and professional makeup brush brands like the uber luxurious Hakuhodo:

I was also eager to check out a few favourite brands that were new to the show this year, specifically BeneFit (who was offering an impressive 35% off, I just didn't need anything from them at the moment), Inglot (whose 10% discount didn't really entice me), and NYX (whose small, overly-crowded booth ended up being a turn-off). Still love these brands, just wasn't motivated to pounce this time around. I also stopped by Blur Makeup Room, a Toronto-based makeup artist supply store that I discovered at IMATS last year, whose selection of O.C.C. Lip Tars did indeed draw me in!

In addition to the shopping, IMATS features an incredible range of special effects makeup demonstrations, from ghoulish busts to ultra colourful body paint.  Here are some of my favourites from the day: 

Colourful shading at Mehron Cosmetics
Some incredibly life-like (death-like?) makeup busts

A glamorous, avante-garde makeup in progress at the MUFE Academy 
Colourful and smiling at Jordane Cosmetics
Rosy and pink at MAC Pro (lots of ladies- and gents- were fixated on this one ;)
Creating an Egyptian princess at Kryolan

After a few frenetic hours in the morning, all of us Canadian Beauty Blogger gals met up at the IMATS backdrop for some photo ops. Here I am with my IMATS power pose, followed by a shot of the 13 of us (a beauty baker's dozen!) who attended Saturday morning.  

After the photos, we snuck out into downtown Toronto for a lunch break. We walked up to the Elephant and Castle at King and Simcoe for some refueling food and drink. I opted for my favourite comfort food of mac and cheese, which was made extra zesty with the addition of jalapenos!  We were joined there by even more local beauty bloggers, which was an extra treat!

I was going to head back home after lunch, as my cough was really flaring up (apologies to all my beauty buddies who endured my hacking all day), but when Julie and Kaitlyn told me they were returning to see a talk from Gwen Stefani's makeup artist, I knew I could spare a couple more hours :)

The demonstration was actually the keynote talk of the day and was conducted by MAC Cosmetics' Director of Makeup Artistry Gregory Arlt. Arlt works with such high profile celebrities as Cher, Dita von Teese, and Katy Perry and is currently Gwen Stefani's makeup artist for The Voice. The talk was entitled "Unfiltered Beauty" and focused on how to create a fresh, undetectable makeup that looks just as flawless and natural in public as it does on the red carpet or on one's Instagram feed. He spoke about his goal of making clients look like "an A+ version of themselves" (rather than the overdone makeup looks that seem to be invading social media of late) and insisted that "perfect" makeup doesn't have to look artificial. 

Not only was Gregory funny, positive, and engaging, he provided some incredible, totally achievable, pro tips (that I have etched into my brain forever) and reminded me of some classic MAC products that have been lurking on my wishlist for over a decade. 

Of the tricks he shared, my favorites were to 1) mix foundation with a bit of facial oil for an ultra natural glow without sacrificing coverage, 2) always match foundation to the colour of one's neck and body (especially on the red carpet, weddings, and any day when skin will be showing) to avoid the nasty "floating head" look, 3) always apply eye shadow with eyes open, as this is how others will be viewing your makeup 90% of the time, and 4) apply bottom mascara first, as to avoid your top lash mascara smudging when looking up to coat your bottom lashes. All so handy! 

For the majority of the presentation, Gregory demonstrated a makeup look from scratch on the lovely model above and below. He created luminous skin with the help of MAC's Prep + Prime Essential Oils, Pro Longwear Nourishing Waterproof Foundation, Mineralize Skinfinish Natural powder mixed with Mineralize Skinfinish in Lightscapade, and a combination of Dame and Well Dressed blushes. He also added a touch of Motif eye shadow on the inner edges of the apples of the cheeks for some extra glow. On the eyes, he used Omega eye shadow for the brows, a mix of Shroom and Naked Lunch on the lids, Wedge eye shadow to shade the eyes and nose, Extended Play mascara, and Fluidline to create a subtle cat eye. For a modern, feminine lip, he used Lip Pencil in Rosy Rim layered with Dazzleglass in Baby Sparks mixed with Lustreglass in Love Nectar

Near the end of the talk, he brought out a second model and demonstrated how the "unfiltered" natural beauty look might translate to someone with a deeper skin tone. He added Margin blush to the apples of her cheeks with was a beautiful finishing touch. Also reminded me of how long I've wanted that shade- it's gorgeous! 

After the talk, I immediately shimmied over to the MAC Pro booth, who was offering a 20% discount and was noticeably less crowded than it had been late morning. They didn't have all of the items I was hoping for, but I walked away with a couple lovely products.

By this point, it was after 3pm and I decided it was finally time to give my cold-ridden body a rest. When I left the event mid-afternoon, the hall was still hustling and bustling. No rest for the beauty obsessed! 

Phewf! Just writing this post has tired me out again (cheers to you if you'd made it through!), but in the best kind of way. I'm so happy that I mustered my energy and made a pretty full day of IMATS on Saturday. It is such a fun, engaging, unique experience and I learned so much! 

I was also happy to bring home some amazing goodies that I scored for some impressive prices. I'll have a full haul post up in a couple days, but here's a sneak peek:

... and, as always, the icing on the cake was getting to spend time with my beauty blogger buddies. You gals make events like these extra special!

Have you ever attended IMATS? Does a conference like this pique your interest?

Have a fantastic week!

Friday, 25 September 2015

Battle of the High-End Eye Shadow Crayons

Hi, everyone! Eye shadow crayons have been increasingly prevalent in the beauty world for a lot of reasons: they're portable, versatile, and easy to use! They can be worn precisely as a liner, or smudged all over for a more sultry look. Many such handy eye crayons are also touted as bullet-proof long-wear wonders. Given these claims and the popularity of these products, I thought I'd put three higher-end eye shadow crayons to the test! 

Since I have a research background (I didn't get a PhD for nothing, haha!), I tried to make this as valid of an experiment as possible. Here's a breakdown of the controls put in place, as well as limitations: 

Factors that make this a solid experiment

  • I used the same eye shadow primer (Urban Decay Primer Potion) under each of the eye shadow crayons
  • I didn't layer any other eye colour products (eyeliners, eye shadows) with the eye shadow crayons
  • I took all of the "Before and After" photos as close to 10 hours apart as possible. 
  • I applied all of the crayons in the same manner- more densely closer to the lash line/on the lid, blending up towards the crease
  • I didn't use any eye cream on the days I was experimenting
  • I took the "Before and After" closeups on the same eye each time, in case one eyelid is more/less prone to creasing than the other

Limitations to this experiment

  • Clearly, I only tested one shade per formula and there may be variation in quality/longevity across shades
  • I didn't control for my daily activities and/or the weather on the days of testing; thus, some of the days might have been hotter/sweatier than the others

Now onto the products I tested! They are: 

Charlotte Tilbury Colour Chameleon Colour Morphing Eyeshadow Pencil in Bronzed Garnet ($27 USD)

Trish McEvoy 24-Hour Eye Shadow and Liner in Glamorous ($32 USD)

By Terry Ombre Blackstar "Colour Fix" Cream Eyeshadow in Misty Rock ($44 USD)

As for the long-wear claims of each product:

Charlotte Tilbury Colour Chameleons
"A long-lasting, easy-glide formula that smooths on and stays in place for up to 10 hours, or until it's time to take it off" (from

Trish McEvoy 24-Hour Eye Shadow and Liner
"This creamy, pigment-rich, shimmering eye shadow pen glides smoothly onto the lid or lash line for endless shading and eye defining options with maximum staying power. Crease-proof. Long-wear. Colour true" (from

By Terry Ombre Blackstars
"Its "tattoo-hold" stretch texture evens out eyelids with a waterproof radiance-lift reshaping film. Smudge-free formula." (from

Regarding the packaging, the Charlotte Tilbury Colour Chameleons come in a chubby pencil with a rounded tip that has to be sharpened when worn down. On the other hand, both the Trish McEvoy 24-Hours and By Terry Ombre Blackstars come in nearly identical packaging: metal tubes with a twist- up mechanism. The tips of the products are thinner and more precise than the Colour Chameleons

Now for some swatches! Here is each of the eye shadow crayons swatched on my inner arm (MAC NC15 skin tone), first with one swipe, then layered more heavily:

Now let's let the experiments begin! Here are the same swatches above, subjected to the experiments labelled in the photos: 

As you can see, the Charlotte Tilbury Colour Chameleon holds up much better to the dry finger smudge and water swipe tests, but breaks down much more quickly than the others when subjected to an micellar cleanser.

And now onto the most important tests- how the products held up on the eyes after a 10-hour day! For each, I've included 2 "Before" pictures (a full-face shot and an eye close-up) and 1 "After" shot (a close-up of the same eye). The "Before" and "Afters" are designed to show how the products wore over the  hours in terms of fading, smudging, or creasing. 

1) Charlotte Tilbury Colour Chameleon in Bronzed Garnet

Before- Charlotte Tilbury Colour Chameleon
After- Charlotte Tilbury Colour Chameleon

2)Trish McEvoy 24-Hour Eye Shadow and Liner in Glamorous

Before- Trish McEvoy 24-Hour Eye Shadow and Liner
After- Trish McEvoy 24-Hour Eye Shadow and Liner

3)By Terry Ombre Blackstar in Misty Rock

Before: By Terry Ombre Blackstar
After: By Terry Ombre Blackstar

So what were the findings of this epic eye shadow experiment? Here's a summery of the main results:

All three of these eye shadow crayons performed wonderfully, with very minimal creasing and fading after 10 long hours.

The Charlotte Tilbury Colour Chameleon was not too creamy nor too dry. It was the most resistant to smudging and sweat, but broke down the quickest when exposed to oil. It faded only slightly during the day.

The Trish McEvoy 24-Hour Eye Shadow and Liner was the most pigmented and least creamy of the bunch. Bold colour, but was most susceptible to getting a bit patchy by the end of the day. It did hold up quite well to oil, though!

The By Terry Ombre Blackstar was the most sheer and creamy of the bunch. It was prone to fading when directly smudged with fingers or water, but evidenced the least amount of creasing and patchiness during the day. 

So while this post might have been more exciting if there had been a real stinker of a product, this was not the case! All three of these shadow pencils pack a high-end price, but also high-end performance to boot! None was perfect, with minimal fading throughout the day, but each still looked perfectly presentable at the end of 10 long hours. 

Overall, I think the Charlotte Tilbury Colour Chameleon looked the best at the end of the day. The Trish McEvoy 24-Hour Eye Shadow and Liners have the most vivid, bold colour and the By Terry Ombre Blackstars are the lowest maintenance and easiest to apply and blend. 

If you've made it to the end, thanks for sticking it out! Hope you found this experiment to be helpful!

What is your favourite eye shadow crayon formula? Which of the ones I featured tempts you most?

Have a wonderful weekend! xo