Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What to put on your E.L.F. shopping list

Despite my desire to keep my make-up collection small and high-end, I have a hard time resisting E.L.F. coupon codes. E.L.F. make-up is ridiculously cheap (mostly between $1 and $3, plus 50% off with coupon codes), yet there are a few stand-out items that even outperform department store make-up.

You have to be selective about what you buy - as there are a lot of duds too. I've put together a list of my favourite E.L.F. products, as well as few to avoid - hope this is helpful the next time they have a great coupon code. (Use cybermonday coupon 50WIDE for 50% off purchases over $25 - valid for another 16 hours)

My favourites:
-Gel eyeliner in Coffee ($3) + Studio angled eyeliner brush ($3)
After purchasing MAC's Dipdown fluidline, I can now compare the two products and say that ELF's Coffee gel eyeliner is as good, if not MORE pigmented than MAC's gel eyeliner - but MAC's cost at least 5 times more. The Studio angled brush makes it easy to appy gel liner, and is especially good for creating winged eyeliner looks.

-Studio flat-top powder brush ($3)
This brush is one of ELF's star products - it is used to stipple on liquid foundation for an airbrushed finish. It is very dense and applies foundation beautifully - however, some people (including myself) have had to super-glue the brush head back onto the handle as it is very wobbly and can fall off! Hopefully ELF have fixed the problem since there were many complaints about this.

-Studio Eyeshadow "c" brush ($3)
A super high-quality brush found in many beauty bloggers' make-up bags. The soft flat brush head makes it easy to apply a wash of color on the lid - I prefer this to my MAC 239.

-Essential Custom compact ($1)
This can be used to store depotted MAC eyeshadows: MAC's refillable palette costs $7 and doesn't even come with a mirror - I much prefer this. If you're feeling creative, you can customize the palette to hold a whole face-worth of product (here's my tutorial).

-Hollywood Eyelashes Kit ($3)
I purchased this for the eyelash applicator (looks like a large curved tweezer) - I may try the included eyelashes at some point, but so far I've been sticking to the dramatic lashes ($1) as they look more natural. If you're nervous about using false eyelashes and hate putting tweezers near your eyes - the eyelash applicator can help make the process easier. Don't use the enclosed eyelash glue (it's not strong enough) - purchase DUO glue instead.

-Mineral Eyeshadow Primer ($3)
A lot of people claim that this is a dupe for Urban Decay's Primer Potion. I've never tried the UD version, so I can't compare the two. This primer works really well for me - it increases the staying power and vibrancy of my eyeshadow and keeps it crease-free.

-Shine Eraser/ Blotting Sheets ($1)
I'm a huge fan of blotting my face - I usually don't need to reapply my mineral foundation as long as I blot my t-zone once or twice a day. These papers are better than the plasticky Clean & Clear ones, their quality reminds me of my Boscia Green Tea Blotting Linens. I keep the Boscia ones in my make-up bag, but stock up on these and stash them everywhere else (car dashboard, handbag etc.)

Avoid:

A lot of people purchase ELF cheek products because their packaging and shades are reminiscent of NARS. From my own purchases (warm bronzer, all over color stick) and reviews I've read online, their cheek products can be powdery and lacking in pigmentation - so I would stay away from them.

Currently Trying - Here are some products that I will be trying out for the first time - will update here if they're worth it or not.


- Mineral 4 piece Bamboo Travel Brush Set ($10)
Some days I have to apply my make-up on the go, so I'm putting together a mini full-face make-up kit to grab whenever I need it. These brushes are the perfect size and combination for my needs.

-Studio Stipple brush ($3)
 Have read really good reviews about this brush and am going to try it with my cream blushes.

-Make-up Mist and Set ($3)
 This spray is meant to blend and set your make-up, much like MAC's Studio Fix or Urban Decay's All-Nighter spray. It's meant to be more suitable for acne-prone skin than Studio Fix, so I thought I'd give it a try - especially since these sprays are meant to help mineral foundations look glowy rather than powdery.

-Daily Brush Cleaner ($3)
 Thought I'd keep this in my bathroom for those times when I have to clean a brush in a hurry but can't wait for them to dry.

-Nourishing Cuticle Pen and Cuticle Pusher ($1)

As I've mentioned before, I'm obsessed with keeping cuticles well-groomed. The cuticle oil pen seems promising - it contains avocado oil and almond oil, as well as a lot of vitamins. Am going to keep this in my handbag along with the cuticle pusher to try keep my nails in the best possible condition (especially in this dehydrating cold weather!).

My only other advice for shopping on ELF is to look up reviews on Makeup Alley - they can really help you decide which products are worth it. Also - wait for coupon codes so you only end up paying $.50 to $1.50 per item! (I used their cybermonday coupon 50WIDE, which is still valid for another 16 hours. For Canadian readers - only pay US shipping by using this tip.)


Have you purchased ELF make-up - please tell me your favorites in the comments below.


DISCLAIMER: I purchased all these products by myself and am not affiliated in any way with ELF.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I went to a Beauty Premiere!

Last night I attended the Marcelle/Annabelle Beauty Premiere held at the Thompson Rooftop Lounge in downtown Toronto. It was so exciting to be invited to such a glamorous event - friendly people, innovative make-up and a gorgeous location - everything was amazing!
The make-your-own-lipgloss counter was VERY popular. Everyone lined up to choose their favourite pigments and get a custom-made gloss. I had been craving a coral color with gold shimmer - it was so exciting to formulate EXACTLY what I wanted!
Along with cocktails and hors d'oeurves, we were served with trays of make-up - and could pick up whatever appealed to us. Here's what I brought home:
The "pick-it-yourself" concept was brilliant - people are more likely to try out new products if they come in shades that they already use. As you can tell, I stick to browns and neutrals - and didn't end up with anything brightly colored that I'd have to give away.
 
One of the products that I'm excited to try is their Smudge Paint gel eyeliner with a built-in brush! I ONLY use gel eyeliner (can't beat the lasting power) but it's not very portable, and it's a pain to have to wash the brush EVERY time I use it. With this product you don't have to wash the brush as often since it is stored in an air-tight container (similar to the ones for liquid eyeliners) so it won't dry out.
Many of the product developers and managers were on hand to discuss their new products. Here's Janine, the super-sweet product manager from Annabelle modelling the soon-to-be launched range of lipglosses (which contain Omega-6). Janine was also wearing purple glitter eyeliner - but made it look elegant rather than "teenage-clubber" - I didn't know it was possible! Now I wish I had picked up a brightly colored metallic liner to try.
As if the tray of beauty products wasn't enough - we also received goody bags as we left the event. At first glance - the bronze shimmer brick and lipgloss are completely up my alley. Am also excited to try the mascara (which claims to lengthen AND curl!) and am hopeful about the Vitamin C radiance gel (it's oil-free so fingers crossed it won't aggravate my skin). If any of these items pass my "received-for-free products test" (i.e. it's so good that I would repurchase it myself) I'll be sure to review them here.


Have you ever heard of or tried Annabelle/Marcelle products?

Monday, November 14, 2011

New Dresses and Flats (Old Navy and H&M)

I'm trying to get outfits ready for upcoming events (holiday parties, birthdays and blogger meet-ups). I'm still playing around with different combinations - it's tricky figuring out the right shoes and jewelry to wear! Here are some of my recent dress purchases:
H&M Lace Dress CAD$29.95
I have the same dress as Pippa Middleton! I didn't know that when I purchased it - but I think it's cool. In this picture I've paired it with black leggings and boots and my Balenciaga First bag (hello pretty bag!!!). I think my boots may be too chunky for this dress - I may wear it with black tights and my aldo ballet flats instead.
H&M Horse tunic $49.95
I'm still debating whether I should keep this dress/tunic or not. The print looks busy in pictures, but in person the combination of blush pink and rich navy is so pretty. If I were to keep it, I'd unbutton the top more, lower the belt and wear it with dark skinny jeans. I first saw this dress on Louise from Cosmetic Bee - check out how lovely it looks on her here.
Old Navy Tie-front Kimono Sleeve dress $39.94 (I got mine 25% off)
I like how conservative this dress is - it falls below the knee and has long sleeves - perfect for family get-togethers. I cut off the fabric belt (I hate tops and dresses that tie in the back!) and used a studded j.crew belt instead. I plan on wearing this with sheer hose and nude pumps (used to be a fashion no-no, but Kate Middleton's brought it back!)
Old Navy Nude Pointy Flats and Leopard Print Ballet Flats
If you haven't tried Old Navy shoes yet - I seriously recommend that you do - their flats are so unbelievably comfy - they feel like the softest bedroom slippers but look very chic. I've been wearing my metallic ballet flats non-stop - and I was eager to purchase more - I bought these 2 pairs for around $12 each with promos and discounts (they might be even cheaper now, although limited sizes are available). 

Have you been planning Holiday outfits? Do you have any styling suggestions for my 3 dresses - please comment below :-)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Lena is Awesomesauce

Last Friday I was invited to a beauty raffle held by the lovely Lena at Listen to Lena. As an in-demand blogger, she has accumulated far more make-up than she can ever review or use – so rather than letting all the amazing *new* products go to waste – she held a raffle and donated the funds to Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto.

It was a small event so it had a casual and friendly atmosphere. I finally got to meet Shauna from Kindergarten Confidential (her blog is a MUST read if you need healthy school lunch ideas) as well as her lovely sisters (and sisters-in-law). I also met some of Lena’s high school friends and THEIR sisters too – they were all SO sweet! After the raffle, there was lots of swapping and donating between us…so we all ended up VERY happy with what we won (and the Sick Kids Hospital is a cause that is close to my heart, so even if I hadn’t won anything, I would have still been happy!)
Here’s what I came home with:
Vasanti Gloss in Caribbean/ FACE atelier lipstick in Revenge/  Dalton lipstick in Shy/ Lancome L'Absolu Nu lipstick in Rose Subtil
Bodyshop Bronzer shade 03/ Marcelle blush in Timeless Charm/ Laura Mercier Perfecting Water/ L'Oreal Infallible eyeshadow in Eternal Black/ Skinn Fiber-Optic Mascara
Sephora by OPI in Only Gold for Me/ Mini-Seche Vite/ Magique Ongles Nail-drying drops
Sephora foldable hair brush/ Body Shop White Musk Libertine Spray/ Jennifer Aniston perfume/ Weleda Buckthorn Body oil/ Pink Sugar soap

THOUGHTS SO FAR:
-I'm really loving the Vasanti lipgloss. I had heard about Vasanti make-up before but I just thought that it was blogger hype (I'm a little cynical!). This lipgloss has changed my mind - it feels more luxurious and hydrating than any other lipgloss I've used. It's pigmented and glossy (like a Juicy tube) but without the stickiness. It adds a subtle yet noticeable flush of colour that lasts a long time.
-The Face Atelier lipstick provides the perfect ruby lipstain for fall.
-The Sephora glittery topcoat will be perfect for the holiday season.
-I was super-excited about the Jennifer Aniston perfume because I was actually planning on buying it from Sephora - the smell is so fresh and sweet!

So that's my mini-beauty haul - I feel very lucky :-) Thanks so much to Lena for holding this event (and feeding us such yummy food! I can't wait to serve the PC brownies at home!) And if any of the other attendees are reading this - I loved meeting you guys!

p.s. I'm trying to improve my blog photography and I found the MOST helpful and easy to understand post by Makeup Savvy. Click here to read it if you want to improve your blog photos.

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