Tuesday, June 30, 2015

KnockOut Cosmetics Hedwig and the Angry Inch Nailpolish in Midnight Review, Photos and Swatches



"I rose from off of the doctor's slab
Like Lazarus from the pit
Now everyone wants to take a stab
And decorate me with blood, graffiti and spit"
- Tear Me Down - Hedwig and the Angry Inch

In February I got to see a performance of Hedwig and the Angry Inch in New York City, with the one and only John Cameron Mitchell, Hedwig's creator. 

What's Hedwig and the Angry Inch you say, apart from a Broadway production? Well, it was first staged Off-Broadway in 1998, created by John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask. It became a cult hit, winning awards and travelling to other US cities before hitting London's West End in 2000. In 2001 the film version of Hedwig and the Angry Inch came out, and that's when I was introduced to it. 

Here's the film trailer and I HIGHLY recommend tracking down the movie. I've seen it more times than I can remember and will watch it many many many many more times in the future. 



Seeing the man himself as Hedwig was a dream come true. Despite having an injured knee and unable to dance and perform as he normally would have, JCM's Hedwig was as sassy, energetic and wonderful as can be. I expected nothing less.

Oh, and if you're wondering about the lead photo for this post and the Hurt Locker: The Musical playbill - don't worry that's not a real production. It's part of the new reincarnation of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. She and her Angry Inch were using the set and stage of a recently closed (because it's terrible) Hurt Locker: The Musical. The audience got up and left midway through the opening night, leaving playbills on the floor. I was lucky enough to grab one as a souvenir. It's a real playbill, apart from being for an entirely fictional production. 

Among all of the great stuff you could buy as souvenirs at the show (the Shroud of Hedwig, t-shirts, etc) were three nailpolishes. I saw two Broadway shows when I was in New York this trip and both had nailpolish as souvenirs - how perfect! (You can see my post on the Cabaret nailpolish here).

The nailpolishes are by KnockOut Cosmetics which is the line founded by Mike Potter who is the genius behind the iconic hair and makeup of Hedwig. They were created specifically for Hedwig's Broadway run and were available in four shades, one matte and three glittery - a pastel yellow matte called Bombshell, a bright glittery red called Hedwig, a clear base with iridescent glitter called Sugar and a deep blue with teal glitter called Midnight. They were $20 each.

I picked up only one, the Midnight shade. 





I've never seen or tried KnockOut Cosmetics nail polish before, and the packaging is very notable, with it's extra long cap, and art deco inspired frosted bottle. I like it a lot!


The KO on the bottle isn't frosted and you can see the glittery polish peeking through.


Midnight is a deep royal blue with large teal glitter. You can see the first Broadway Hedwig, Neil Patrick Harris, wearing it here.


I don't wear glitter nailpolish a whole lot for a few reasons - it can look messy and can be a real pain to remove. And unfortunately that was the case with Midnight for me. The brush is longer than I'm used to and that made it tougher to control the product. The glitter can get onto your cuticles, looking raggedy and when you try to clean it up, it can pull some of the product on your nail off with it. 

Other than that, the polish applied fairly well apart from the challenges due to the glitter and the length of the brush. The photos below show two coats and a top coat. 


The glitter is quite chunky so the texture of your nails after applying is not smooth but this may not bother you. I think that with the dark colour of this polish, it's further emphasized. It was distracting for me. 

I do like the effect of the dark blue with the shimmery teal glitter though. I just wish the texture wasn't so emphasized. 


I found too that the texture of my nails got scratchier and scratchier as the days went on and they'd drag on fabric which is a pet peeve of mine. 

Perhaps there are tricks to applying glitter nail polish that I'm not aware of to make it more wearable? Please share if you know of any!

I am sad that I don't love this polish as much as I want to. Of course, Hedwig wouldn't give a shit that her nails were scratchy and raggedy looking so I'll try it again and channel her. Maybe that'll help. 

I'll give this a fair grade with the assumption that it's more my inexperience with glitter polishes than the quality of this polish.

Grade B



Monday, June 29, 2015

Laura Mercier High Coverage Concealer for Under Eye Review, Photos and Swatches



My undereye circles are the bane of my existence. OK, that's an exaggeration, but really, I feel like nothing I do or try conceals my undereye circles well enough. My favourite undereye concealer is MAC's Pro Longwear but I don't love the fussiness of the container (not being able to control well the amount you get out and that it's challenging to open), so I've been trying some different ones. Make Up For Ever's Full Coverage Concealer doesn't do it for me in terms of texture and brightening, and now we come to Laura Mercier's High Coverage Concealer for Under Eye.

Laura Mercier's High Coverage Concealer for Under Eye is a unique 3-in-1 concealer that covers, de-puffs and brightens dark under eye circles. The highly pigmented formula builds and blends flawlessly for professional makeup artist results. Formulated with honey, vitamin E and fruit acid to nourish and smooth skin. A little goes a long way and lasts all day. 

0.27 oz $35 CDN

Some packaging photos.




Ingredients.

The High Coverage Concealer for Under Eye comes in 12 shades and they're numbered, from 0.5 to 7, and the shades are described with undertones (light skin with pink undertones, dark skin with almond undertones, medium to tan skin with beige to yellow undertones, etc)

My shade is 0.5 - fair skin with beige to yellow undertones. 


It comes in a small squeeze tube, and I have to say that I love this packaging. I'm fond of the lid especially, for purely aesthetic reasons. It's a good size and shiny, and makes the packaging look expensive.



The tube has a very small opening for the product to come out. This is because the concealer is thick and because you need very, very little. It's the complete opposite of the MAC Pro Longwear packaging as it's nearly impossible to get too much product out. This is very smart packaging since there's so little possibility of wasting product.


They say that you need a pin head's worth of product only. Here is about that amount on the back of my hand (NW15 skintone).


Blended out a little so you can see the texture. It's thick and creamy and very pigmented.


And here it is blended out even more. The warmth of your skin helps to soften and blend out the concealer so it's spreadable and blendable.


As for the claims that it depuffs the eyes, I can't really speak to it's success or failure. I don't experience puffy eyes very often and the eye cream I use in the morning tends to get rid of any puffiness effectively, so I don't need an undereye concealer for it. I have read that other people find the High Coverage Concealer for Under Eye effective on their puffiness though, so hopefully that helps.

It does brighten effectively though. I think undereye concealers should always be brightening. Dark circles are almost impossible to successfully cover since the skin under your eyes is so thin and the darkness beneath it is so deep. Brightening elements to a concealer or using a subtle highlighter under the eyes draws light to the area, giving it a lighter quality. It really does make a big difference.

In the photo below, I'm wearing the concealer under my eyes. You can see that it doesn't fully cover my dark circles, but it minimizes them significantly. I'm happy with this undereye concealer, I think that it does what it says it does, what it needs to do, and it's good quality. 

It's buildable, though starting with a tiny amount is best. I do find that it likes to crease up on me, so setting it well with powder is a must, and wearing an undereye primer helps as well to keep it lasting longer. 


The Laura Mercier High Coverage Concealer for Under Eye is $35 CDN per 0.27 tube and available wherever Laura Mercier products are for sale (IE. Sephora).

Grade: B

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Beauty Squared Round-Up for June 28, 2015

Hello lovelies!

Hope you're having a lovely Sunday. It's Beauty Squared Round-Up time and there's loads to tell you about.


  • Charlotte Tilbury was in Toronto this week for the Canadian launch of her beauty brand. I (Catherine) was in attendance and you can see a few photos I snapped here
    • Here's the official #TilburyTakesCanada photo album.
    • And the official #TilburyTakesCanada video
  • How's your skin this morning? If it's looking a little puffy maybe due to lack of sleep, dehydration, too much salt or too much alcohol (no judgment!), here's a 3-minute massage you can give yourself to reduce that puffiness.
  • Speaking of alcohol, here's a DIY whiskey body scrub recipe (and bonus cocktail recipe).
  • And how about a skin-softening DIY honey cream recipe?
  • Is your hair needing some TLC? Here are some of the best hair masks specifically for colour-treated hair, but if your hair is dry and damaged even though you don't colour it, they'll work for you too.
  • The Body Shop is doing a revamp of their image. The British Beauty Blogger has some packaging photos and info.
  • A beautiful shimmery, youthful makeup look using Maybelline products and demonstrated on model Gigi Hadad. Don't worry, this makeup look would work on anyone. You don't need to be a model, or have perfect skin or be 20 years old!
  • Summery makeup inspiration.
  • More VERY summery (simple bronzy skin and a sexy, smudgey eye) makeup inspiration courtesy of Lisa Eldridge.
  • Another great look from Lisa Eldridge - a no-fuss, modern take on the 60s makeup look.
  • A gorgeous smokey eye with a pop of unexpected colour - perfect for summer, or anytime.
  • Another smokey eye idea - this one focuses the impact on smoking up the lower lid NOT the upper lid. Very coooooool.
  • Cushion make-up - you may have come across this term recently. It's a new trend in western makeup taken from (where else?) Korean beauty brands. Basically, cushioning is in the packaging where pillowy sponges are soaked in product (blush, foundation, etc) allowing for light and smooth application. Kind of how you use a sponge to apply a product but the sponge is built into the makeup in the case of cushion make-up. Read more and see some of the products now available in North America here.
  • Another Korean beauty trend is waterless skincare.
  • The best toners for sensitive skin.
  • Some ideas for taking care of your skin naturally. As in, more about what you put into your body, rather than what you apply on the surface (though that's important too).
  •  This is verging on a "how to attract a man" article, but not quite (we wouldn't share it if that's all it was, promise). Does wearing a strong lip colour actually turn men off as some men claim? An experiment.
  • Speaking of makeup shaming, women have been posting selfies of themselves with faces of half-bare/half-makeup to show they're comfortable both in and out of makeup. (So stop with the hating on women who wear makeup!)
  • To celebrate Pride here's an interview with transgender model (and the face of Make Up For Ever) Andreja Pejic where she talks about beauty.
  • An interview with two of the makeup artists behind the makeup on the TV series Transparent which features Jeffrey Tambor as the transgender patriarch of a dysfunctional family. 



Sunday, June 14, 2015

Beauty Squared Round-Up for June 14

Hello and happy Sunday! It's been awhile, and for that, our apologies. We've got a lot of beauty links to share with you as a result.

Let's do this.


  • Fashion Magazine's Beauty Panel shares their tips for achieving the dewy skin look.
  • Temptalia has a review of Charlotte Tilbury's new Eyes to Mesmerise cream eyeshadows. See her thoughts on them here.
  • Charlotte does one of her signature smokey eye looks on her mum, Patsy. See it here.
  • Pixiwoo has a review of Benefit's new primer, License to Blot, on their blog. See what they think of it here.
  • A great no-makeup makeup trick.
  • Matte highlighter. Yes, it's real. Read about it here.
  • A preview of OCC's summer collection, featuring Willem Bell from RuPaul's Drag Race fame.
  • How to fix broken lipsticks.
  • Did you know that you can refill your EOS lip balm containers? Here's how, or if you don't want to refill an EOS container, here how you can make your own lip balm in a regular container.
  • Pimples. How to pop them properly and safely, if you must.
  • A DIY rose water facial mist recipe.
  • Can drinking tea improve your appearance?
  • Hair plopping, for incredible curl definition. Here's how to do it.
     
  • Tis the season for hair removal. Here are some shaving hacks.
  • Here is what to do when razor burn happens.
  • When artist Frida Kahlo died, her husband Diego Rivera had her things locked up in a room where they remained for over 15 years. Among Kahlo's possessions were two half-used bottles of Revlon nail polish. What about some other artists and their links to makeup?
  • Bloglovin' has ten up-and-coming beauty bloggers you should know about. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Clé de Peau Beauté Perfect Lash Mascara Review, Swatches and Photos

Out of all the high, high end luxury brands out there I don't hear a lot about Clé de Peau in the beauty blog world. The pinnacle of the Shiseido brand empire, Clé de Peau has a highly edited line without a lot of the usual frills and thrills associated with most makeup brands (multiple reiterations of products, ongoing limited edition releases, designer/celebrity collaborations, etc.) Instead Clé de Peau focuses on a singular, efficient vision of beauty and aims to do this vision very, very well. According to Clé de Peau their brand "uniquely harmonizes Japan's exquisite aesthetic sense, cutting-edge science and a modern French elegance." I believe that statement translates into an effortless, elegant beauty with an emphasis on radiant skin. 

Today I have for review a sample of their Perfect Lash Mascara, which I have tested now for a whole month. To show that they mean business, they only have the one mascara, though it does come in black and brown. This mascara is meant to do and be everything for everyone in just one coat - separating, voluminizing, lengthening and curling lashes to "emphatically frame the eyes."



Clé de Peau Perfect Lash Mascara

This is a waterproof mascara with a uniquely designed brush, which seen in cross section is square. I found this mascara delivered on all it's claim very well, although for my tastes I used several coats to achieve greater drama.

It holds a curl extremely well in part to it's being a waterproof formula. I also found that it did fan my lashes out pleasantly, and with several coats made my lashes look longer, blacker and fuller. I also surprisingly found the slightly curved brush easy to use on my shortish lashes. The wear time of this mascara is also excellent, with no smudging, flaking and drooping of the curl. After 12 hours of wear my lashes looked as good as they did right after I did my makeup!

Photos in natural light, please forgive the differing white balance!

Lashes without mascara, uncurled.

Clé de Peau Perfect Lash Mascara, curled lashes.

In terms of performance this is a A+ product...but there is a downside (of course) and the downside is the price. This mascara retails for $55.00 CA, which for most of us too expensive to justify particularly because mascara has such a short shelf life (typically 3 months.) 

So is it worth the cost? I will let you decide. If money was no object, I could see myself making this my regular due to it's superior ability to hold a curl and it's longevity.

If you are interested in this product, or any of the other excellent Clé de Peau products, treat yourself to a delightful and fantastic shopping experience with Donna, the Clé de Peau specialist at Holt Renfrew in Calgary (403 269 7341). Donna and I go way back to the 90's when I used to frequent the now defunct Prescriptives counter at Holt's. Donna is not only helpful, but lovely, gracious and super cute! I cannot recommend her assistance enough.

Grade: A+



Monday, May 4, 2015

Rusk Thermal Str8 Protective Flat Iron Spray Review

Don't buy this product. 

This one.




Don't buy it. 

I've been trying heat protectant sprays for the last few months. They can be great for protecting your hair from heat damage from hair dryers, flat irons and curling wands, and some can also protect your hair from damaging UV rays, which is particularly good if you colour your hair. In addition, they can add shine, fight frizz and help your hair hold its style.

According to the Rusk website the Thermal Str8 Protective Flat Iron Spray is a humidity-resistant styling spray that penetrates hair, infusing conditioning and controlling agents like argan oil and Thermplex to seal the cuticle, eliminate frizz, precent curl reversion, and protect styles from environmental elements. Conditions and protects the hair internally and externally while smoothing and enhancing shine. 



This product is designed just to protect your hair from using a flat iron, not from using a hair dryer, and that seems a bit odd, since usually you need to use a hair dryer before using a flat iron, unless you have time to let your hair air dry after washing it. But the Str8 Protective Flat Iron Spray needs to be used on dry hair because it's incredibly sticky. Holding the can 6-8 inches from your hair is the recommended application technique and in doing so, presumably the amount you end up with on your hair is the correct amount. 

I tried a few times and each time, the spray went on heavily, coating my hair with stickiness. I used a brush to comb it through, both to make sure it was on evenly and to try to minimize the stickiness. I thought perhaps the texture of my hair would improve after I used my flat iron, but that was not the case. Running the flat iron over one section of hair after applying the spray created a shiny, smooth, but stiff and crispy piece of hair. I ran my brush through it and this softened the stiffness considerably, making my hair look like actual hair again, but the brush dragged through my hair. The stickiness did not go away, even with repeated brushing. 

On the plus side, it did make my hair shiny and added to the straightening effect. I assume that it protected my hair as well, since it seemed to form a seal around my hair with the application of the heat from the flat iron. But the incredible stickiness is horrible and does not go away. Running my fingers through my hair throughout the day resulted in snags and tangles. I guess if no one, including you, touches your hair after you've used this, it's all good, but who wants hair like that? There's a stiffness and a frizz at the ends of my hair as well after using this spray. 

I was shocked how terrible this product performs. Especially since there are multiple heat protectant products that perform beautifully. 

This one, TRESemme Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Spray is a favourite and it can often be found for sale. I picked up a bottle for $4 recently.




There's no added weight, but it leaves my hair silky, glossy and soft. The lock button on the pump is a nice feature too.

This one too - L'Oreal's Color Radiance Dual Protect Spray - is often on sale. Drugstore brands FTW! It protects your hair from styling tool heat as well as from UV rays, which is great if you colour your hair. 



For me, it's a runner-up to the TRESemme Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Spray, but it's a solid project and I don't hesitate to recommend this one as well to you.

Just trust me on the Rusk stuff. Don't be tempted. It's appallingly bad stuff.

Grade: F

C.


EyEnvy Eyelash & Eyebrow Conditioner Review Part Two



Back in December, I posted about EyEnvy, an eyelash and eyebrow conditioner that I had started using. I promised to do a follow-up post about the results when I had finished the tube. And here it is! Here's part one of my review of EyEnvy so be sure to take a look if you haven't already. 



I'm almost, but not quite, finished the tube of EyEnvy but I did start to see a difference in my lashes and brows after using it for two months. The difference was subtle at first. With my eyelashes it was noticeable particularly when I was applying mascara. My eyebrows seemed denser too.

Here are some photos showing my lashes and brows before I started using EyEnvy, and photos from today, about five months later.

December 2014

May 2015
My brows are more groomed in the second photo, but I don't have anything on my face apart from moisturizer in either, so my lashes and brows haven't been embellished apart from being curled. 

You can see there's a difference in the length of my eyelashes. I notice that sometimes my lashes graze my glasses when I'm wearing mascara. That didn't really happen before and it happens all the time now. I didn't notice much difference in the fullness of my lashes, and the colour didn't change either. 

While I can't claim that my lashes certainly don't look appearance-transformatively different, there is a noticeable difference. My lashes were pretty long before, but I can imagine on someone without a lot of length, EyEnvy could make a dramatic difference. 

With my eyebrows, there was less of a dramatic difference. I did notice that the sparse areas were less sparse, and overall, better fullness. Again, not appearance-transformative, but noticeable and very welcome.

The application process was quick and easy - every morning before noon, a swipe along my lashline and painted on the areas of my brows that needed help. I experienced no side effects. There was no pain, no discomfort. There's no odour to EyEnvy either.

EyEnvy is $90 a tube, though I paid $60 at IMATS. I'm impressed that it works, but I won't be buying another tube. I don't need to use it that badly and it's pricey. 

But it works, and if you want longer lashes, or fuller brows and $90 is worth it for you, I can definitely vouch for EyEnvy. It works!

Grade: A

C.