Monday, December 30, 2013

MAC Magnetic Nude Sensual Sparks Lipstick: Photos, Swatches and Review

MAC's Magnetic Nudes collection was made available in stores on December 26 in Canada and after seeing all the online buzz about this collection, I did what I don't normally do on Boxing Day. I went shopping. I bought a lipstick, two eyeshadows and a blush from the Magnetic Nudes collection. This post will look at the Extra Dimension Blush in Autoerotique. 

But first, MAC didn't send us the preview photos and info about this collection (or Huggable Lipcolours or Punk Couture, etc) so here is some info about this gorgeous, shimmery collection.

Glimmering metallics and natural nudes redefine winter opulence. Skin is radiant with Extra Dimension Skinfinish. Smoky eyes get a metal effect, shaded with vibrant Extra Dimension Eye Shadow. Fluidline shines with a steely touch, while Opulash provides a powerful finish. Flushed nudes in Extra Dimension Blush, Lipstick and Lipglass are subtle yet sexy, for a look that’s naturally magnetic. Apply with the 128 Split Fibre Cheek and 235 Split Fibre All Over Eye Brushes.

This collection will sell out. So if you like the sound of metallic nude shades, including peachy tones and rose-gold, get thee to a MAC counter immediately! There are tonnes of swatches online as well - check out Temptalia's reviews and photos here, and Makeup and Beauty Blog's overview here. Trust me, it's gorgeous and there's something here for 

This post will look at the Magnetic Nude Amplified Creme Lipstick in Sensual Sparks.

Sensual Sparks is described as a dirty cool caramel. It's an orangey-brown and very creamy in consistency. 

Sensual Sparks Lipstick swatched on NW15 skintone.

I definitely don't have any colour like this in my collection. I rarely wear a "brown" shade on my lips, stick with mostly peach and pink tones when I do a nude lip. It's funny, I got this home and wondered if I mistakenly asked for this one instead of Close Contact since that one (creamy peach) is definitely more up my alley. But once on, I like Sensual Sparks (I think). There's enough peachiness to it that it doesn't fall too neutral. It's not one I will wear regularly, I don't think and I think I'll have to do makeup looks that will call on Sensual Sparks specifically since it's so different from anything I usually wear.

But less about me and more about the lipstick! It's one of MAC's Amplified Creme lipsticks which means it's very creamy in consistency, has good pigmentation and is long-wearing. It glides on beautifully and feels really good once on - creamy. There's no trace of my natural lip colour showing through. And it wears very nicely as well - I would say it lasts about 3-4 hours on.

Sensual Sparks is limited edition.

Grade: A

Friday, December 27, 2013

MAC Magnetic Nude Extra Dimension Blush in Autoerotique: Photos, Swatches and Review

MAC's Magnetic Nudes collection was made available in stores on December 26 in Canada and after seeing all the online buzz about this collection, I did what I don't normally do on Boxing Day. I went shopping. I bought a lipstick, two eyeshadows and a blush from the Magnetic Nudes collection. This post will look at the Extra Dimension Blush in Autoerotique. 

But first, MAC didn't send us the preview photos and info about this collection (or Huggable Lipcolours or Punk Couture, etc) so here is some info about this gorgeous, shimmery collection.

Glimmering metallics and natural nudes redefine winter opulence. Skin is radiant with Extra Dimension Skinfinish. Smoky eyes get a metal effect, shaded with vibrant Extra Dimension Eye Shadow. Fluidline shines with a steely touch, while Opulash provides a powerful finish. Flushed nudes in Extra Dimension Blush, Lipstick and Lipglass are subtle yet sexy, for a look that’s naturally magnetic. Apply with the 128 Split Fibre Cheek and 235 Split Fibre All Over Eye Brushes.

This collection will sell out. So if you like the sound of metallic nude shades, including peachy tones and rose-gold, get thee to a MAC counter immediately! There are tonnes of swatches online as well - check out Temptalia's reviews and photos here, and Makeup and Beauty Blog's overview here. Trust me, it's gorgeous and there's something here for everyone.

With that being said, let's look at Autoerotique (of course I choose the product with the kinky name). Autoerotique is an Extra Dimension Blush which MAC describes as a liquid-powder blush with prismatic reflections and the impact ranges from sheer crystallized light to a highly polished metallic effect.

Autoerotique is one of three Extra Dimension Blushes in the Magnetic Nudes collection and is described as a dirty coral rose. It has a satin finish.

Swatched on NW15 skintone.

Autoerotique is a gorgeous shade of warm red-orange-pink. It's got just enough pigmentation and sparkle and is very wearable on most skintones. My skin is on the lighter side so it doesn't take much for well-pigmented makeup to show up. Autoerotique is slightly more pigmented than what I'd consider ideal. But only slightly. You just need a light hand to apply it, partly because of the shade, mainly because of the pigmentation. Start soft and build is a good method for applying all blushes, but especially for those, like Autoerotique that is heavily pigmented. 

Blushes should have enough pigmentation that one application is enough but that it can be built up if you like. Blushes should also not have too much pigmentation so that they can be buffed and blended out. Autoerotique fits into this description. 

The texture is very soft and it's easy to work with. The shimmer effect is very, very pretty. It applies slightly more red on my skin than it appears in the pan. 

Because of the shimmer, it'd be pretty layered on top of another blush or left on its own. It'll work for both cool-toned and warm-toned skin. It is Limited Edition so if you like it, grab it! 

Grade: A

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Cult Blackbox December 2013

After reading numerous positive reviews and receiving several emails inviting me to join Cult's Blackbox program, I finally caved and signed up for December's Blackbox. Cult is an independent cosmetics brand based out California, and is only available online. For those unfamiliar with the Blackbox program, Cult Cosmetics will ship you a curated kit which includes: 3 full sized polishes + a professional nail tool for $24.99 US per month ($19.99 for the kit + $5.00 for shipping.)

As Cult's polishes are $12.00 US a 15 ml bottle, you are essentially saving 45% off the regular price for the polishes, not including the cost of the included tools (in this case $4.99 US). As an extra incentive to sign up, Cult will give you your first Blackbox at 50% off (for a total of $15.00 US)!

Cult Stay Gold, Boneyards and El Matador polishes.

December's Blackbox includes: Stay Gold, Boneyards and El Matador polishes, and a set of 5 dual ended nail polish designing tools. Cult also throws in an extra bottle of polish if you forward their offer to friends on Facebook. They sent me Essie's First Timer, a pastel mint green creme. I have to admit I was a little surprised to see a brand other than Cult included!

Cult Stay Gold, Boneyards and El Matador, and Essie First Timer

Cult polishes are formulated to be "One & Done" - which means they are designed to be opaque and thick in one coat.  As well, Cult polishes are "5 Free" - which means they are free of carcinogens, Toluene, Formaldehyde/resin, DBP, Camphor, and are not tested on animals.

Thumb: Stay Gold over Boneyards, Pointer: Stay Gold over El Matador,
Middle to pinky: all three shades. All shades applied in one coat only.

Stay Gold - a super fine gold glitter in a clear base. Surprisingly dense for a glitter, about 50% opacity in one coat.

Boneyards - a neutral dark grey creme, about 95% opaque in one coat.

El Matador - a classic neutral bright red creme, about 95% opaque in one coat.

Generally I think the formula of these polishes is excellent, they flow smoothly on the nail and dry fast in about 5 minutes. I also found the shades pigmentation very good to excellent - though on my very uneven, ridge filled nail beds they were a tiny bit sheer in some spots, though I could still get away with one coat. My feeling is that on smooth even nail beds they would be 100% opaque in one coat.

I did swatches with all three shades in various combinations and designs using the nail tools included in the kit. Though I am a nail polish aficionado, I am not really a "nail art" practitioner, so you will have to forgive me if the designs I did are not particularly original or well executed. In fact, upon opening the Blackbox I didn't even know what the tools were for! Cult sent a little DYI design card along with the Blackbox suggesting a leopard print inspired nail which I recreated on my pinky.

I found the design tools they included with the kit easy and fun to use. I will definitely try out more designs in the future using them! 

Overall I think this is a great monthly program for any polish lover out there. Not only does Blackbox offer great value and great product for the price, I also appreciate the low cost of shipping ($5.00 US for both US and Canadian addresses). As well Cult has a well edited range of stylish shades from which they compose their Blackboxes, so although you don't get to pick your colours, you can be assured they are current.

Grade: A

Happy Holidays!

Catherine and I would like to extend our sincerest holiday wishes to all our readers! We hope you have a beautiful holiday with your family and friends.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Ice Storm FOTD

Toronto is cleaning up from an ice storm and it's still a bit dangerous to be outside due to slippery roads and sidewalks and ice-encrusted branches falling, so despite it being December 22 and having things to do to prepare for Christmas, I'm staying in. I was out earlier this morning to take photos - you can see them here - and while a bit scary and dangerous, ice storms are incredibly pretty. Everything is encased in ice. 

Because I'm stuck inside, I decided to do a beauty look I've been thinking about, using purple and silver. I'm calling this the Ice Storm FOTD. It's a pretty basic smoky eye, using purples and I paired it with a bright but subdued lip and neutral, sculpted cheeks. 

Here are some close-ups of my eyes. 

Here's what I did:

On the outer corner of my eyelid I pressed MAC Altered State (deep purple with soft brown-burgundy undertones) in a V shape, and smudging it across the outer half of my lid. I layered it until I got the pigmentation I wanted, buffing as I went to keep it soft. On the inner corner of my eye, I softly brushed Dior Argentic (dark grey/silver), buffing and buffing for softness. On top of the Altered State, I applied L'Oreal Colour Infalliable in Purple Obsession (deep purple with pink and royal purple microshimmer), pressing it on to get the pigmentation I wanted. With a fluffy crease brush, I blended it through my crease to soften some more. The Altered State provides the darkness and depth, while the Purple Obsession gives it lots of shimmer and colour. On top of the Argentic on my inner lid, I applied MAC Silverwear (metallic lilac) to lighten it up. 

Along the outer corner of my lower lashline, I swept a combination of Argentic and Purple Obsession and along the inner corner I applied Silverwear.

To clean up the edges further, I used a clean brush and two of the matte fleshtone shades (Nougat and Honeycomb) from the Sleek Au Naturel palette to buff all along the eyeshadow

To define my upper lashline, I used MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack to do a cat-eye flick and once dry, I topped it with some Altered State, using an angle brush. I lined my waterline using Urban Decay eyeliner in Ransom (pinkish-blue-purple) and applied black mascara after curling my lashes.

My brows I filled in slightly with MAC Wedge eyeshadow to keep them neutral and subdued. 

I used MAC The Perfect Cheek blush (neutral rosy pink) to contour below my cheekbones, and I applied MAC Mineralize Skin Finish in Soft and Gentle (warm, shimmery champagne-peach-beige) to the tops of my cheekbones as a highlight. 

On my lips I used OCC Lip Tar in Grandma (I think, the name has rubbed off) which is a coral shade that leans quite pink on me (see photo above). I applied a little bit and blotted it down, smudging it with my pinky finger to soften the colour and work it into my lips. I didn't want too strong a colour since I had purple on my eyes. But I think it works well. A little bit of warmth to an icy look. 

My skin is Sleek BB cream, OCC concealer, and Pari Mineral Glow powder mixed with Ben Nye powder to set. 

So there you have it - a sexy, colourful smoky eye look - perfect for a night out in winter! Anyone could wear this look, but it'd be especially smashing with brown eyes. 

Here's me doing my best haughty Ice Queen look. 

Stay warm, safe and dry lovelies!


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Beauty Squared Round-Up - December 22, 2013

Hello lovelies! We hope you're staying warm and full of holiday cheer. There are only three days until Christmas!

If you need a break from baking or family or wrapping gifts, here are some beauty links for you....

  • Fashion Magazine's Beauty Panel share their best beauty tricks and tips.
  • Nylon has a sneak peek of Cara Delevingne's new Yves St. Laurent campaign and tells you how to get her beauty look. 
  • Steal actor Elizabeth Olin's secretly sparkly eye look. 
  • Nylon claims that actor Margot Robbie's got her eye makeup matching her earrings. I don't see it myself, though both her earrings and her makeup are fantastic. Nylon does tell you how to achieve the look though, so that's worth it!
  • It's so easy to make your own body scrubs and body scrubs are skin savers at this time of year, aren't they? Here's one that uses coconut oil and granulated sugar - yes, you can eat it too.
  • Waterproof nail polish? I didn't know nail polish wasn't waterproof. But then I read this
  • Love how false eyelashes can look but hate that they can look so fake? New Beauty has some tips on how to make false lashes look real. 
  • MUA Andi Yancey shares her tips on creating a cat eye on different eye shapes - almond eyes, hooded eyes, monolid eyes and round eyes. 
  • Sam of Pixiwoo has done a video tutorial on Alexa Chung's edgy, polished and sexy eye makeup - one of my all-time favourite looks.
  • Artist Anna Hill has created a series of fake ads by using commonly used image editing tools to alter photos of herself in order to critique the overuse of Photoshop in today's mainstream advertising. 
  • Jenna Talackova is best known as the Miss Universe contestant who was disqualified when it came to light that she had been born a male even though she's had gender reassignment surgery and has identified as a female since she was 19. Elle Canada has a feature on the actor and model. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

CND Vinylux Nail Polish in Dark Dahlia Review and Photos

CND is the company that introduced Shellac to the world and they've come out with a new formula of nail polish that gives the high shine and some of the longevity of a Shellac manicure, without needing a special dryer or a base coat. VINYLUX manicures last a week, don't require a base coat, (but need a special top coat), have high shine, and become stronger when exposed to natural light. 

Here's what the CND website has to say about VINYLUX:

VINYLUX™ is a breakthrough polish system that endures a week of fashion perfectionwithout a base coat! Exposure to natural light secures the patent-pending technology, creating an enduring, long-lasting polish. While ordinary polishes become brittle and deteriorate over time, VINYLUX dries naturally to a flawless finish and strengthens its resistance to chips over time.

VINYLUX polishes come in 62 shades and retail for about $12 CDN as does the top coat. The bottles are 15 mL/.5 fl. oz.

I picked up a bottle of VINYLUX polish and the special VINYLUX top coat recently. The shade I chose is Dark Dahlia, a blackened cool purple. I'm a sucker for vampy nail colours and this one is great. Think the colour of blackberries - so dark it's almost black but not quite. 

CND VINYLUX Weekly Top Coat and CND VINYLUX Weekly Polish in Dark Dahlia

CND VINYLUX in Dark Dahlia

CND VINYLUX in Dark Dahlia
CND VINYLUX Weekly Top Coat

CND VINYLUX Weekly Top Coat instructions
Uh, the "Avoid skin contact"? OK, that scares me a bit as I am no professional at applying nail polish. Whenever I do my nails, the polish tends to get on my cuticles and onto the skin around my nails. I just use exfoliating gloves in the shower to scrub it off in the shower the next morning. 

But I was extra careful when applying the top coat in this case, and I don't think I got any on my skin. Polish on me tends to chip at the tips, not at the base, so that's the area where top coat is most needed. 

Here's my manicure on the first day. Don't ask me why I opted to hold an orange in this photo but not in any of the others. It's certainly better than the manicure "claw" hand pose. And I like the contrast of the inky purple nail polish and the bright orange.

Anyway, I applied two coats of Dark Dahlia with no base coat, even though I was certain I'd have discoloured nails when I took the polish off, and a coat of the scary top coat. VINYLUX is very shiny, particularly with this dark shade. It went on well, and wasn't noticeably different in consistency or odour than other polishes. It dried fairly quickly and the coverage is impressive. The top coat goes on the same as any other top coat I've used and also dried fairly quickly. 

Day One
I took photos of my manicure over the week to document how well VINYLUX did or didn't work. I took photos on day one, day three, day five and day seven (when I removed it) as well as my nails after removing the polish. 

Here's the manicure on day one, again, but without the orange. High shine and full coverage with only two coats. 

Day One
Typically, polish will begin to chip on me by the third day, or if not chipping, there'll be visible wear at the tips. There was a little bit of tip wear by day three, but much less than with other polishes. And the shine was still there, very glossy though slightly scuffed looking. 

This polish made my nails feel stronger. I should note that my nails at the length they are in these photos are beginning to feel more fragile and they begin to break and peel (bare or under polish). I would typically be cutting them at the length they were at the end of this week of wearing VINYLUX.

Day Three
On Day Five, I noticed that my index fingernail was looking pretty scratched and dull. I'm not sure how that happened but it could be from coming in contact with rubbing alcohol. The shine is noticeably diminished from Day One, but it's still impressive considering other polishes would be quite dull. Another noticeable difference is that there's no chipping! There's visible tip wear on all nails, but no chipping. Very impressive!

Day Five
I took a second shot of my hand to show the wear from a side angle. My middle finger is showing the most - but that's not a chip per se, that's just wear. I must have been picking at a sticker or trying to open some package. 

Day Five
And here is Day Seven. I took the polish off the following day, as it was looking scruffy and bugging me. To be honest, I would have removed it probably by Day Five but I stuck out the week to test it. My nails were looking scratched, the shine had been dulled and the tip wear (second photo below) is quite visible. Still, the VINYLUX wore really, really well and better than any other nail polish I've tried. 

Day Seven
Day Seven
I was curious to see what my nails would look and feel like after removing the VINYLUX manicure. I photographed my bare hand to show you that there's no discolouration at all, despite not using a base coat, and my nails are not broken or peeling as they'd normally be. The VINYLUX made them grow longer and feel stronger. Of course, a day after removing the VINYLUX, one of them broke on me so I had to trim. If I had redone them with VINYLUX, maybe they'd have kept growing longer and longer.

Overall, VINYLUX impressed me. I've only had one Shellac manicure in my life because I prefer to do my own nails for convenience and financial reasons, and also because I like to switch up my manicure weekly or so. Shellac lasts way too long for my liking. VINYLUX may be the alternative! I think I'll pick up some other shades and see how they work shine and endurance-wise. 

While the manicure didn't last as promised (perfectly for a full-week), it performed much better than any other nail polish I've tried, so it gets top marks for that. 

I'm still terrified about getting the top coat on my skin though. 

Grade: B+


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

MAC Makes Their Heroine Lipstick Permanent!

As you may have heard, Pantone has announced their colour of 2014 - Radiant Orchid, which replaces 2013's Emerald. Anticipate lots of soft purple-pinks in clothing, home accessories and makeup for 2014! And MAC is bringing back their cult favourite and limited edition lipstick Heroine (previously available with MAC's Fashion Sets release in 2013) and making it permanent! 

The powerful purple of Heroine Lipstick is back – so you can get the breakout fan favourite from M·A·C Fashion Sets anytime you like. The vibrant matte is now available permanently.

Available North America online starting January 2, 2014 at and at all North American M·A·C locations on January 16, 2014.

International online starting March 6, 2014 at and at all International M·A·C locations on March 20, 2014.

Heroine Lipstick
Bright purple (matte)
$18 CDN/$15 US

You can see swatches of Heroine done by Christine of Temptalia here. SUCH a great colour!

Are you looking forward to 2014?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Dior Golden Snow EOTD

Here is breakdown of the eye look I created with Dior's holiday palette Golden Snow 5 Couleurs holiday palette.

Products used:

MAC Studio Finish Concealer in NC35
Urban Decay Primer Potion
Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder

Dior 5 Couleurs Golden Snow eye shadow palette
MAC Graphblack Technakhol eye liner
Fairydrops Waterproof Mascara
Kevyn Aucoin eye lash curler
Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Powder Duo in Brunette

I first concealed with MAC Studio Finish Concealer in NC35 and set it with Laura Mercier Transparent Setting Powder. I then patted on Urban Decay Primer Potion to my eyelid using my finger tip. Using a flat brush I applied shade 4 all over my lid, fading and blending it out slightly above my crease. Then using a MAC 226 I applied shade 3 to my crease blending well. Using the edge of MAC 219 I mixed shades 3 and 4 together and ran that along my lower lash line. Then using a clean MAC 217 I buffed and blended all the shadows together, paying particular attention to the crease. I then lined my top lash line with MAC Graphblack and smudged the line with shade 3 and an angled brush. Lastly I loaded a MAC 242 with shade 2 and spritzed it with MAC Fix + before I packed the gold glitter onto the center of my lid. I repeated this step 2 times to get a strong glitter effect. I then finished by curling my lashes with the Kevyn Aucoin curler and gave my top lashes two coats of Fairy Drops Waterproof mascara.

What I like about this palette is that it combines both warm and cool tones which when layered together create some interesting depth of colour. The shadows blend beautifully together giving you a soft, smokey eye that's not too dark or dramatic.  It's a pretty, soft eye look that would be great for an evening party or romantic dinner...something a little different for the holidays!


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Beauty Squared Round-Up - December 15, 2013

Happy Sunday! We hope you're staying warm and sane during the always-crazy holiday season. If you're stressed out or snowed in, or having a lie-in, here are some beauty-related links for you click on and enjoy.

  • Counterfeit cosmetics: why you should be wary of what and where you buy online. 
  • Karen from the Makeup and Beauty Blog shows us how to use eyeshadow to fill in our eyebrows
  • OPI and Gwen Stefani are teaming up with a nail collection!
  • Here's a 5-minute, no-makeup, makeup look.
  • If your eyes aren't always watering like mine, you can do this very cool inner and outer eyeliner look.
  • Are you an Instagram fan? Here is a list of some of the coolest makeup Instagrammers you should be following! (No, Beauty Squared isn't on Instagram, yet)
  • MAC MUA Caitlin Callahan talks to Beauty Editor about her favourite products, her work and what she feels is the true meaning of makeup.
  • Buzzfeed has a list of 14 things you're doing wrong to your skin
  • Have you seen Beyonce's new video for the song "Pretty Hurts"? In it she appears as a beauty pageant contestant and criticizes beauty myths and the idea of perfection. Great idea, but is it really effective considering how flawlessly gorgeous Beyonce looks throughout the video and always?
  • Finally, check out some photos from this nude photo series by artist Gracie Hagen. In it she has men and women pose nude, first in a conventionally sexy manner and then in "unflattering" poses that we don't typically see in magazines. The link here is NSFW.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Dior Golden Snow 5 Couleurs Eye Shadow Palette

Dior released two LE eye shadow palettes for the holidays, the warm, brown based Golden Flower, and the cooler toned Golden Snow. I recently picked up Golden Snow from the lovely Camille at the Dior counter at the Bay City Centre. All photos taken with flash on NC 35/40 skin ($61.00 CA).

 Dior Golden Snow 1-5: clockwise from upper left (1), ending with center shade (5)

Golden Snow 1 (upper left) - a satiny white frost with a pink undertone. Excellent pigmentation and texture. Cool in tone but not too stark.

Golden Snow 2 (upper right) - a warm, yellow toned medium gold glitter which is similar in texture and finish to Bobbi Brown's Sparkle Eye Shadows. It feels creamy and powdery simultaneously. I did have a little fall out with this shadow, but it wasn't a major problem. You will want to use this over an eye shadow primer or base and pack it on with a stiff flat damp brush or your fingers.

Golden Snow 3 (bottom right) - a semi sheer charcoal satin which leans slightly blue. This shadow was semi sheer, which means you would have to pack on 2-3 layers to get it to be really dark and opaque. If you are looking for a soft charcoal/graphite type shade to wear in your creases this would be a good one as it goes on very soft.

Golden Snow 4 (bottom left) - a beautiful creamy and opaque taupey mauve shimmer. On my skin it pulled more mauve, but it does have a hint of grey in it that keeps it from looking overtly purple. Such a pretty and soft colour! Definitely my favorite in the palette.

Golden Snow 5 (center) - a white semi sheer glitter which is powdery texture wise. The glitter is finer than in shade 2, but the texture is quite a bit more powdery. Again, a sticky eye shadow or primer and a stiff and damp brush or fingertip will work best for this shadow.

Initially when I swatched this palette I was a bit disappointed because the colours didn't seem that unique and the textures were a bit too powdery for my liking. After I created this quick look my opinion of this palette improved quite a bit. The mix of warm and cool tones works quite well and the taupey mauve shade (#4) is so pretty and versatile - I can see it working with greys and browns.

Grade: B+

Overall I think this is a good palette - it doesn't blow me out of the water, but I think that the quality and shade range is good enough that you can get numerous pretty evening looks out of it. Here is an EOTD I did with the palette - full tutorial to follow!