Sunday, March 29, 2015

Beauty Squared Round-Up for March 29, 2015

Hello lovelies!

It's Beauty Squared Round-Up time. Happy Sunday!


La Roche-Posay Effaclar BB Blur Review, Swatches and Photos

La Roche-Posay (LRP) recently launched a new foundation to their Effaclar line which is designed for oily/combination/acne prone skin types. Effaclar BB Blur is a hybrid product that is a cross between a BB cream, foundation and a blurring/mattifying primer.



According to LRP Effaclar BB Blur contains cutting edge technology including:

1. Perlite - a natural substance primarily composed of silica has clinical absorbent powder, allowing it to "soak up" sweat and oil.

2. Airlicium - a new molecule able to absorb 100x its weight in sebum and triggers sweat evaporation.

3. Elastogels - gel polymers that form a supple and breathable film over the skin while blurring imperfections.

4. Mineral SPF of 24.

BB Blur is a moderate coverage BB/foundation which is intended to cover and conceal blemishes, marks, redness and pores while also blurring fine lines, softening/unifying skin tone and mattifying skin all day long.

BB Blur comes in two "universal" shades of Light and Medium. I found both shades to be yellow toned beiges. Photos and swatches in natural light on NC 35 skin.


La Roche-Posay Effaclar BB Blur in Light (heavy/blended) and Medium (heavy/blended)

I tested the BB Blur in Medium for a week on bare skin without any setting powder to test the mattifying properties. I found this product had medium coverage which could be sheered out if needed. Since I don't typically wear foundation and do not feel comfortable with more coverage, I chose to sheer out the BB Blur with a Real Techniques buffing brush after applying with my fingers.

I found the BB Blur wore well throughout the day on my combination skin. It does have a matte finish, but not as matte as a powder finish (ie: MAC Blot Powder.) It feels fairly weightless on the skin, although as a non-regular foundation wearer, I could still detect it slightly on my skin, but it was not an unpleasant feeling. I did find that it kept my oily t-zone at bay for most of the day but I still felt the need to blot - perhaps more out of habit than necessity.

It looked natural on my skin buffed out, though I don't think the finish would be as natural if I had built up the coverage, mainly because I found the Medium shade was not an exact match for my NC 30-35/C3 skin. This product suffers from the same problem most BB creams do which is the idea of "universal" shades. I think any product offering coverage beyond the "sheer" end of the spectrum will be destined to fail on the majority skin tones. As it is the end of the winter season, my skin is as pale as it's going to get, and I found the Medium shade to be just deep enough for my medium, yellow based skin tone. When I eventually get a little sun this spring/summer I suspect I won't be able to wear BB Blur anymore due to the slight white undertone which could be caused by the high SPF factor.

On the positive side, this product does deliver on it's claims of mattifying, blurring and unifying the skin. Like other silicone based BB creams/primers, this product leaves you with a very smooth "airbrushed" type canvas. I think that this product could function both as a BB and as a primer. Another big plus is that BB Blur has a healthy SPF of 24 and a very little amount of this product goes a long way! My one suggestion to improve this product would be that LRP expands the shade range as I suspect anyone with a skin tone deeper than mine, or someone with a very cool (pink) toned skin would be unable to wear this product as a standalone BB or foundation.

La Roche-Posay Effaclar BB Blur* is available at retailers such as Shoppers Drug Mart and London Drugs and retails for approximately $30.00 CA. 

Grade: B/B+

J

*This product was sent to Beauty Squared for consideration.



Friday, March 27, 2015

Benefit Cosmetics The Big Easy Swatches


Benefit Cosmetics' The Big Easy is a liquid to powder foundation that works like a BB cream. This isn't a review, as I haven't actually tried the product but I wanted to share some swatches of the shades in case you wanted to pick some up yourself. 


Bigger than BB! Why? Two reasons. First, Big Easy balances moisture and controls oil. Second, the cushiony liquid-to-powder formula melts in like a cream, yet finishes lightweight and velvety like a powder. 

This multi-balancing complexion perfector gives light-to-medium natural coverage to even out skintone and conceal imperfections. Even better, it contains ingredients known to sooth and comfort the skin and help fight free radicals. One and done...Big Easy saves the day! Non-comedogenic. Oil-free.

The Big Easy comes in a 35 mL tube and costs $38 US. There are six shades - Fair, Light, Light/Medium, Medium, Beige and Deep Beige. 

I received a sample that included a small amount of each shade which is meant more to allow you to find your shade but not quite enough of it to cover more than a small section of your face.

Because it's Benefit and they do packaging in a big way, the samples came in this sizeable brochure-type packaging.



Here are the samples, with photos of models who match each shade. It is of course, necessary to note that there aren't any shades suitable for dark skin tones. Nor very, very fair shades. 

Benefit says that The Big Easy adapts to match your skintone, so presumably it's not full coverage. I cannot vouch for this as the sample that best matches my skintone (Fair) wasn't enough to do more than swatch it on my arm. 



Here are the swatches of the shades. From left to right: Fair, Light, Light/Medium, Medium, Beige and Dark Beige. 

L-R: Fair, Light, Light/Medium, Medium, Beige and Dark Beige
You can already see the swatches starting to dry to powder form in the photo above. It happened fairly quickly, but I figure that you'd have plenty of time to blend it into your skin first. 

It looks like The Big Easy comes in a fairly good mid-range of shades, but it's disappointing that yet again, darker skintones and very, very fair skintones are ignored. 

But if you fall within this skintone spectrum and are curious about trying out The Big Easy, I hope this has been helpful!

In Canada, Benefit Cosmetics are available in select Shoppers Drug Mart, in Sephora stores and online. 

C.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Anastasia Dipbrow Pomade in Auburn Review, Photos and Swatches


This is a product I didn't intend to blog about, since it's one of those basic products, and therefore, not terrible exciting and I was also distracted at the time I bought it and it honestly didn't cross my mind to. And then I used it for awhile and now I realize it's something you should know about, so here's my review of Anastasia Beverly Hill's Dipbrow Pomade (in Auburn). 

Anastasia Beverly Hills is a beauty company that focuses on eyebrows, and bless them for that! They've got pretty much everything you could possibly need for beautiful brows and they're available at Sephora in Canada (and online).



Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomades are a newish product and they've gained near-cult status among beauty bloggers. The Dipbrow Pomades are described as "Creamy, waterproof brow colour ideal for defining and sculpting precise, smudge-free brows." They come in nine shades - Ash Brown, Auburn, Blonde, Caramel, Dark Blonde, Ebony, Granite, Soft Brown and Taupe. The Dipbrows come in 0.14 oz glass pots and cost about $23 CDN. 


The Dipbrow Pomade shades are all matte and ashy, which is exactly what you want in a brow colour. Of course, if you want a statement brow, go for shimmer and sheen and vibrant shades, but for natural brows, stick with matte and ashy shades. By ashy, I mean colours that have grey to them, muting the intensity of the colour. Brow shades should be ashy in order to look natural. That's (probably) the only makeup product you want to look ashy. 

If you've struggled with finding a product to fill in and define your brows that doesn't fade or smudge, this if worth checking out. A little goes a very long way and it requires careful application, but this little pot will last you a long, long time. 

The photographs of my Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade in Auburn were taken about four months after I bought it, and I've used it almost every day since then, yet I've used not even a 1/8 of it. 

See:

I'll share with you how I use my Dipbrow Pomade, but here are some other people use it.

Eyebrows with Anastasia Dipbrow Pomade (you'll want to turn the subtitles on for this one): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=olGW92DiJ0s

All About Brow http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYUgnkI7_Vk

How to Fill in Brows http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G18vN1jjS54

The Dipbrow Pomade is a gel/cream hybrid and they are very, very pigmented. You can absolutely make this work for you if you're wanting a softer, more subtle look as well as if you want a dramatic statement brow. 

Here's how I do it.

I dip a small angle brush into the product, at a very shallow angle. One scoop usually does it. 


Here's the product on my brush. The other end of the brush has a spoolie that I use to brush my brows into place before applying the Dipbrow Pomade and also after to work the product through the hairs and to reshape my brows. 


I spread the Dipbrow Pomade on the back of my hand, and work it into the brush, focusing on the sides of the brush, not the tip and alternating from one side to the other. I do need it on the tip of the brush, but this way allows for just a little product at the tip of the brush. 


Using the sides of the brush, I apply the Dipbrow Pomade gently, starting at the bottom of the hairs and sweeping up. My main goal for using brow products is to change the colour so that my brows match my hair colour better and this allows me to paint my brow hairs with the Dipbrow Pomade. Coating the hairs with Dipbrow also gives them a richer and thicker appearance, making my brows look fuller. Even if I was using a Dipbrow Pomade in a shade that matches my natural brow hairs exactly, I'd use this application technique. 

Dipbrow Pomade dries quite quickly so you should work quickly applying it, and start with a little, adding as you go, because it's challenging to remove once it dries. I find that the Dipbrow Pomade acts a bit like a brow gel too since it dries and ends up holding my brow hairs in place. 

In the photo below, my brows have a natural, unruly appearance. I've been embracing a natural look for awhile now. I should note, too, that my camera seems to make brow products I've used look much more orange than they do in real life as well. If you compare the swatch in the photo above with the orangey parts of my brow below, they don't look like the same product. 

Trust me, my brows don't look orange in real life. Silly camera.


Here's another photo of me with the Dipbrow on. Still slightly orangey, but less so than above. You can see how it helps to tie my brows in with my hair colour. 


And another, in natural light. 


On me, the Dipbrow Pomade lasts until I take it off. I've noticed no fading or smudging, which is pretty exceptional as my skin is quite oily and most makeup fades on me after wearing for some time. 

Since I use my hand as a palette when applying it, there's always a stain after I've finished applying my makeup. Even with soap and water, it lingers, and I actually have to use my fingernail to scratch at it in order to remove it if I'm in a hurry. 

I use an oil cleanser to remove my eye makeup at night and that does the trick as well. 

I've been thinking that I might get a Dipbrow Pomade that matches my natural brow colour so I can draw in tiny brow hairs for a more natural, full brow appearance. Then use the Auburn on top to alter the colour.

I highly, highly recommend checking out the Anastasia Dipbrow Pomades if you're looking for a new brow product. 

You can find them online at Sephora.com or in Sephora stores. The Anastasia Beverly Hills website is here if you'd like to learn more about the brand and their products. 

Grade: A

Monday, March 23, 2015

Cabaret Nail Polish Review, Photos and Swatches


I don't think people should have to explain anything.
For example, if I should paint my fingernails green, 
And it just so happens I do paint them green, Well, if anyone should ask me why,
I say: I think it's pretty! "I think it's pretty, " I reply.
- Sally Bowles, 'Cabaret'

Cabaret is one of my favourite musicals and when the chance arose to see it while in New York recently, I jumped at the chance. It's currently starring the incredible Alan Cumming as the Emcee and Sienna Miller as Sally Bowles and being performed at the famed Studio 54. As excited as I was to see the production, I was delighted when I realized that I could get a bottle of Sally Bowles-green nail polish as a souvenir. 

I love green nail polish. I have eight bottles of green polish right now, and this makes nine. But it's the official Sally Bowles green nail polish, so that makes it extra special.


It's a tiny, tiny bottle. The Cabaret logo is on one side, and the Roundabout Theatre (the company putting on the production) logo is on the other side. 


This nailpolish has the tiniest brush which makes it a little tricky to apply, at least for me.



The formula of the polish is quite thin, so in combination with the thin brush, it was a bit tough to apply. The colour though, is stunning. It's a deep green with flecks of silver and gold and it's such a sophisticated colour.

Christopher Isherwood described Sally's nails as being painted emerald green: "I noticed that her finger-nails were painted emerald green, a colour unfortunately chosen, for it called attention to her hands, which were much stained by cigarette smoking and as dirty as a little girl's."

The onscreen and onstage Sallys haven't always worn an emerald green. I've seen photos of Liza Minnelli's Sally, Natasha Richardson's Sally, and Sienna Miller's Sally and their green nails varied in shade from more of a kelly green or apple green to a deep, dark green. 

This one is close to what Isherwood described. I'd call this an emerald green, and it's laced through with shimmery metallic.

Here it is on my nails. And here you can also see how tiny the bottle is. 





I did three coats of polish since the formula is very thin and the thin brush made it challenging to apply. Since the formula is so thin, I had to work quickly and the thin brush made it challenging. However, the final effect is very glossy, and it wore well. It's a sophisticated green, so even though it's green, it works for daytime and the office (depending on office dress code). 

While the bottle is tiny, I bet I'll finish the bottle before it dries out, unlike all of my other nail polishes. Maybe all nail polish should come in this size of bottle?

It strikes me that this shade may have been considered edgy back in the 1930s when Sally Bowles was created, but today, it's pretty tame by comparison. When I first saw it I thought "This isn't a Sally Bowles green." Then I saw Isherwood's description and it is indeed a Sally Bowles green. If Sally existed or was created today, I imagine she'd wear an acid green on her nails. 

Still, this green is a wonderful addition to my green nail polish collection and a perfect memento of a great stage production. 

Grade: B

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Beauty Squared Round-Up for March 22, 2015

Helllllooooooo! Haaaaaappy Sunday to yoooooou!

It's rrrrrrrrrrround up time! (Do I sound like I'm trying to sell you something? Or like I'm announcing a truck rally?)

Here are your links this week.


  • Urban Outfitters has been increasing its beauty selection. Here are some of the best picks from what they offer. It is important to note though, that the President and CEO of Urban Outfitters, which is also the parent company of Anthropologie and Free People brands, among others, may not be the type of person you want to support the businesses of.
  • Korean beauty. You've heard of it. We've talked about it here. Into the Gloss features a visit to Gangnam's beauty district (think of it like Fifth Avenue in Manhattan or Yorkville in Toronto). (Oh, and I'm sorry I just probably gave you a Gangnam Style earworm).
  • Eva Mendes has a new makeup line out called Circa and it's not expensive!
  • Speaking of inexpensive, here's a "no makeup" makeup look put together using just (American) drugstore products.
  • Did you know that there are skincare ingredients you shouldn't mix? And that there are some that work really well together? Here are some Dos and Don'ts of mixing and matching your skincare products.
  • There's been a lot of talk in the beauty world about properly cleaning your skin - washing your face twice with two different products, and using cleansing brushes. Here's one woman's routine that gets her a truly clean face every day.
  • Napoleon Perdis shows how to conceal dark undereye circles - using multiple products.
  • If you're not a makeup artist or beauty junkie/blogger, makeup brushes might be a bit intimidating - what do they do?, why do I need this one?, how do I use it? This Refinery 29 post might help you.
  • How frequently do you clean your hair brushes? It's probably not enough. Here's how to.
  • Looking for an on-trend (ie. 90s-esque) makeup look? This one is easy, can be dramatic or subtle, and uses only one product.
  • Eyeliner looks for your eye shape (hooded, mono, downturned, round). Fun, and dramatic. Love this!
  • Speaking of eyeliner for hooded lids, Sam of Pixiwoo did this fantastic tutorial with helpful tips on how to do dramatic liner when your lids don't allow you to draw a straight line. This is a great look for those who have hooded lids, and for those who don't. I highly recommend taking a look. 


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Renee and Uma, Makeup and Plastic Surgery

On February 10th, chatter began amongst the celebrity and fashion mags that actress Uma Thurman had pulled a "Renee Zellweger," and appeared on the red carpet with a different face. Jill and I had talked about Renee Zellweger back in October, and now here we were again, talking about plastic surgery, makeup, and what female celebrities face when it comes to their physical appearance. We thought we'd turn our discussion into a blog post, particularly now that it seems that Uma Thurman's "new face" was due to makeup, not a facelift.

What was your reaction when you first saw the photos of Renee Zellweger and then the photos of Uma Thurman, seemingly looking different than what they used to?
Jill: I honestly didn't recognize Renee Zellweger - I thought she looked more like Daryl Hannah or Robin Wright than herself. I was very surprised her facial structure had changed that much, particularly around her eyes which I think are/were the most unique and characteristic feature of her face. I felt a bit sad that she had traded her unique looks for a more Hollywood, generically attractive face.

My reaction to Uma Thurman's "new face" was similar though much less strong. Uma looked like she had some work done, like maybe a face lift, but much less resculpting than Renee. I too felt a little disappointed that she might have had plastic surgery because I've always thought she was so incredibly beautiful. Her eyes looked tighter, more pulled up and smaller to me, as well her cheekbones looked really emphasized although I could tell she had fairly dramatic contouring.

Cath: When I first saw the photos of Renee Zellweger not looking like herself, I reacted with surprise and confusion. I searched the photos for what I could recognize in her face, her body, the way she carried and held herself, the way she tilted her head or smiled. I wasn't sure if I was able to recognize her when she didn't have Renee Zellweger's face.

With Uma, the headlines screamed "Another Renee?" and again, in these photos, I didn't see the woman I would recognize as Uma Thurman. I reacted not so much surprise and confusion as with Renee, but sadness and frustration.

For both women, I looked at old photos, not sure if I believed their faces had been changed with makeup, with plastic surgery or with age. I had to remind myself of how old they were and compare that with how I would expect a woman of their ages to look. Were eyes looking larger? Smoother? Fuller lips?

After the reaction to Renee, I was very hesitant to assume Uma had a new face, but could it really be just her makeup as some of the speculation was? And can we really tell just from looking at photos? Some of the photos of Renee did look like Renee, others didn't at all.

Renee says that the change in her appearance (while not acknowledging that there has been one) is due to a happy life: "I'm living a different, happy, more fulfilling life, and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows." Thoughts?
Jill: I think it's very understandable that Renee doesn't want to discuss how or what she might have done to change her face. And I do believe she changed her face through medical procedures. There is still a double standard in our society where we demand women to look beautiful and young, but are simultaneously judgmental if women pursue "unnatural" or "artificial" means to achieve that standard. We have unrealistic ideals that can only be achieved through artificial means and we ironically value "natural" beauty.

I completely agree that any person should have the right to alter their appearance and that people also have the right to be judged on their character and not on superficial details. However, I also think it's understandable that many people were taken aback by the change in her appearance, which could be described as significant or drastic. We come to identify people we know by their faces and when that changes significantly it confuses our concept of identity. I think this effect is magnified with celebrities because we don't actually know who they are as people, and their "brand" is so dependent on how they look.

Cath: I definitely think that the changes to Renee's face aren't just due to age, health, happiness or love. And I don't judge her for having plastic surgery or Botox or whatever she has had done. She doesn't need to share it with anyone if she doesn't want to. But whatever has been done to her face has changed her appearance completely. She doesn't look like Renee Zellweger anymore. That is also her choice. I don't question my reaction to it though. If I walked into work and one of my coworkers had a new face, I'd react with surprise and confusion too.

Both Renee and Uma were beautiful women, and they both still are. It does makes me sad that Renee has lost what made her distinctively beautiful.

We don't scrutinize appearances of male celebrities like we do female celebrities nor do we hear male celebrities have to defend themselves about changes in their appearance as much as female celebrities. Men aren't asked to discuss their support garments or "walk" their hands down a runway for the mani-cam on the red carpet. After an event, lists are compiled of the best dresses, the best hair and the best makeup looks on the red carpet. Men get "Best Dressed Men" lists, or possibly on lists of "Best Dressed Couples". Women's appearances are itemized, broken down into parts and men are judged on their overall appearance.

It turns out that Uma's change in appearance was mainly due to makeup. She isn't, in fact, unrecognizable in this Today Show interview. How do you feel about your reaction to what seemed to be another actress changing her face completely?

Jill: I was relieved to find out it was just makeup. I could also tell that her contour was very heavy and that the MUA was definitely going for a more editorial look by eliminating things like mascara.

Cath: Even knowing how transformative makeup can be, I was surprised to learn that she hadn't indeed completely changed her appearance. That fascinates me. I know the transformative properties that makeup can have, but Uma wasn't wearing a lot of makeup and still people thought she'd completely changed her appearance. That's incredible and her MUA Tony Surrat gets a high-five from me. Surrat talks to People Magazine about the makeup he used here, if you're interested.