NYX Cosmetics

As a Winnipegger I’ve only ever been able to buy NYX (pronounced ‘nicks’) stuff in Rexall/Pharma Plus which is a bit of a pain in the arse.

Arse pain be gone! Shoppers Drug Mart is now stocking the popular brand.

Late last year the Canadian drugstore chain dropped Almay and has filled the gap with NYX.

For those of you unfamiliar with NYX, it’s a cheap cosmetics brand well worth your money. Apparently the company started small in 1999 and was initially only available to professionals through trade shows. Now it’s become a cult favourite and is hugely popular among beauty bloggers – especially on Instagram.

MY NYX PICKS

Blush

I use their Rouge Cream blush every day (I have the colours Glow and Rose Petal). I used to use their powder blushers but my dry, ageing skin put a stop to that.

If cream blush isn’t your thing, I 100% recommend the powder blushers.

Matte lipstick

Absolutely love their matte lipstick. Super cheap and (I think) way better than MAC lipsticks. My favourite colour is Pure Red. I did buy Indie Flick but found it a bit too orange for my liking.

Powder

NYX Studio Finishing Powder is another product I use every day.

I like a very dewy look to my foundation but I brush a little bit of this white, finely milled powder around my eyes and on the sides of my nose. Yes it’s white but it’s invisible once you put it on your face.

If you have oily skin, this stuff is brilliant for keeping your face shine-free.

I was using Clinique’s loose powder (which is talc based) but it constantly creased and kind of bunched up. The NYX powder (which is mica based) doesn’t do that. It’s very smooth.

Other stuff I’ve tried

I have a NYX retractable waterproof eyeliner in Silky Cashmere but I can’t find it on their website so perhaps they discontinued it. I’d buy it again.

I own one of the Soft Matte Lip Creams. I don’t love it but everyone else seems to so I’d recommend checking them out.

I tried one of their mascaras but don’t remember which one. It was rubbish. I threw it out.

Everyone raves about NYX Butter Gloss but I think they’re a waste of money. Terrible colour payoff and no lasting power whatsoever.

Same goes for the HD Concealer. I find it very drying.

• • •

So I guess my experience is a bit hit and miss. I recommend reading the NYX reviews on Beautypedia if you’re thinking of buying something. And while I didn’t like some of the things I tried, don’t let that put you off. NYX is definitely a brand you shouldn’t be ignoring at Shoppers.

While I was working out the other day my trainer, Lindsay, asked me this question: what’s the secret to hydrating your skin?

My initial response was to tell her about things to avoid such as always checking the list of ingredients on her skincare products to look for alcohol (SD alcohol, ethanol, denatured, isopropyl, methanol or ethyl alcohol) as a main ingredient.

I recently threw out some otherwise top quality products because I hadn’t noticed alcohol came THIRD in the list of ingredients (and I would lump fragrance in here too. If it has fragrance, I won’t buy it. It has no place in skincare.)

According to Paula’s Choice (my favourite place for skincare advice):

There is so much incomplete or misleading information online, it’s easy to believe that alcohol-based moisturizers or treatments aren’t really all that bad for your skin. Formulas loaded with alcohol … often have a pleasing, quick-drying finish that feels weightless on skin, so it’s easy to see their appeal. Despite the conflicting information you’ll come across, the research is clear: No matter your skin-care concerns, alcohol as a main ingredient in any skin-care product is a problem.

Take a look at the ingredients on some of your favourite products (skincare AND makeup) and I bet you find alcohol. Read more about alcohol in skincare.

As I continued to run on the treadmill and she went for a pee, I had a chance to think about Lindsay’s question for a bit longer.

I decided that my number one skincare tip would be to ALWAYS WEAR SPF on your face.

It’s not something I learned to do until about a year ago. Even if I’m just popping out to walk my dog, I always wear sunscreen (for the record my favourite product is Clinique’s Sun Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen Face Cream. It’s basically a great moisturizer with antioxidants.)

Lindsay told me she loves using natural products to keep her face hydrated. Which is where my third piece of advice comes in.

We’re often led to believe that ‘natural’ ingredients are good ingredients but that’s not always the case.

Lots of ‘natural’ products contain fragrant essential oils.

Ooh! That lavender smells so lovely and natural. It must be good for my skin, right?

Wrong <—- click this link and you’ll see why. In short, lavender can be toxic to skin cells. But, more importantly, “… research has demonstrated that you don’t always need to see it or feel it happening for your skin to suffer damage.”

What IS good for your skin are non-fragrant plant oils such as grapeseed, coconut, jojoba, apricot, avocado, sweet almond and argan.

To find out more about the good and bad of essential oils, check out the video above.

Now, I’m no expert by any means but as I age, I’m becoming more alert to stuff that might be drying out my skin. And as far as I’m concerned, the only place alcohol should be going is in a glass and down my throat!

For a thorough list of cosmetic ingredients, check out Paula’s Choice online Ingredient Dictionary.

Kat Von D Featherweight Primer

I’ve never liked the idea of primers.

I always thought they were just a way to make more money out of us.

We’d all been applying our foundation contentedly for years without them and suddenly they’re a thing.

I’ve bought approximately two primers to date (I don’t even remember which ones) and I’d long ago decided I didn’t need one.

But I watch a lot of YouTube videos (about beauty products) and pretty much every YouTuber I watch uses a primer.

I wondered if my whole foundation debacle wasn’t just a result of me not using a primer.

Armed with a bit of Christmas money, I concluded that it was worth a shot and a primer should be on my shopping list.

Bearing in mind I have very dry skin, my research narrowed it down to two candidates:

  1. Marc Jacobs Beauty Under(cover) Perfecting Coconut Face Primer ($55 CA for 1 oz)
  2. Kat Von D Lock-It Featherweight Primer ($38 CA for 1 oz)

After returning numerous tinted moisturizers to Sephora over the past week, I decided to exchange the last one for a damn good primer.

Honestly, the Marc Jacobs primer felt the best. Gorgeous. But so expensive. There wasn’t a massive difference so I bought the Kat Von D primer.

I can tell you now that the application of my foundation has improved 100% since using this stuff. My foundation glides on so smoothly. The primer doesn’t disguise pores or wrinkles but it absolutely helps my makeup look better.

Do you have to spend $38 to achieve the same results? I dunno. There are cheaper primers on my hit list including L’Oréal’s Revitalift Miracle Blur, The Body Shop’s Moisturize It and Maybelline’s Baby Skin. Once I get round to checking them out, I’ll know more.

But for now, I’m really impressed with this Kat Von D stuff.

MAC Face and Body Foundation

After all the hullabaloo about finding a foundation which works on my dry skin in winter, I had an idea: maybe I’m going about it all wrong and should be looking for a good tinted moisturizer (or BB/CC cream).

Despite having weird, ageing skin, it’s still pretty good skin. I don’t need a lot of coverage from a foundation. I have no scarring or hyper-pigmentation to conceal.

The idea of finding a moisturizing foundation seemed like an impossibility. And, according to something I read on Beautypedia, there actually aren’t a lot of them because once you add a lot of moisture to a foundation it starts creasing and accentuating lines and pores, hence the most you’ll get from the majority of foundations is a satin finish.

And so began my research into tinted moisturizer.

(Stupid alert: I bought MAC’s Face and Body Foundation about a year ago. It’s more like a tinted moisturizer and looks very ‘skin-like.’ I’ve only worn it in the summer. I hadn’t considered wearing it this winter. It’s my summer foundation innit?)

BareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Gel Cream

After loads of online research I decided to buy BareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream which was described by a lot of people as being closer to a tinted moisturizer than a foundation but with light to medium coverage.

I had some Christmas money so went on a bit of a splurge and also picked up – on a bit of a whim – CoverGirl Advanced Radiance foundation (note: this one has light fragrance which I don’t care for. I usually buy fragrance free products).

Using sponges, I applied BareMinerals to one side of my face and the CoverGirl stuff to the other (after cleansing, moisturizing and sunscreen, as is the case with all the products below). The CoverGirl side was easily the smoother, better looking of the two.

BareMinerals bunched up and looked really obvious. It didn’t sit well on my face fuzz either. So I returned it to Sephora in exchange for Laura Mercier’s tinted moisturizer – a cult favourite.

Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer

Laura Mercier offers three versions of this stuff: one for normal skin, an oil-free formula and an illuminating formula for dry skin.

Sephora was out of the illuminating version so I opted for the normal one in the shade Cameo which, it turned out, was too light for me. And they were out of stock of the better colour match – Blush.

Aside from the colour, I really didn’t like this stuff. It felt drying on my face and clung to flaky patches. The marketing claims for this product are full of bullshit. This stuff is supposed to “… hydrate skin and soften fine, dry lines.” Nope. Not even a bit.

During another Sephora visit I compared it to the illumination version which is supposedly designed for dry skin. If anything, the one I bought was more moisturizing which isn’t really saying much!

Again, I returned it. This time I exchanged it for NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer.

NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer

NARS tinted moisturizer is another cult favourite apparently. It was definitely the best of the three I tried.

But it’s bloody expensive. I felt like a $54 tinted moisturizer should be pretty spectacular, right?

It was okay. Like the others, it still felt a bit drying and not at all moisturizing. But it didn’t stick to my dry bits and looked fairly smooth.

In a last ditch attempt to make this stuff work, I went over it with my MAC Face and Body. To give my face a bit of moisture.

It was in that moment that I felt like a complete idiot.

I had my winter skin solution sitting in front of me the whole time.

I bloody love MAC Face and Body. It definitely isn’t for everyone. It makes me look shiny and glowy <— is that even a word? It offers very sheer coverage. It won’t conceal spots, acne, scars or significant discoloration. It’s very watery and doesn’t come in fancy packaging (a plastic bottle which you need to shake vigorously each time you use it.)

But it’s my absolute #1 foundation for any season. It stops my face feeling tight and wrinkly but it still lets my real skin show through.

It’s also really affordable for a high-end product.

Of course, the NARS stuff got returned and I treated myself to some other Sephora goodies instead.

Note: regular readers will know I do extensive research before I buy something. I watch a ton of YouTube video reviews, read blog reviews, Beautypedia reviews and opinions on MakeupAlley. Interestingly, Beautypedia doesn’t rate MAC Face and Body very highly which just goes to show, you can’t always rely on the opinions of others. Where Beautypedia always excels is in their disclosure of scientific information like revealing a moisturizer contains more alcohol and fragrance than beneficial ingredients.

I’ve got some big love for handful of things right now …

NeoStrata

I’ve been using Paula’s Choice AHA and BHA products this year but they’re both coming to the end of their bottle. I came across reviews for NeoStrata’s Glycolic Renewal Smoothing Cream 5% and got a sample of it from Shoppers Drug Mart.

I love it. It’s super creamy and it exfoliates. It feels great under my foundation. The full size is on my shopping list next pay day. It usually sells for about $39 but it’s on sale at Shoppers for around $26 until December 18.

UPDATE & STUPID ALERT: After buying the full-sized version of this and using it for about a week I decided to look at the ingredients – something I had failed to do up to this point. Alcohol is literally the third or so item listed. Not one of the acceptable types used in skincare but straight alcohol. I stopped using this immediately and tried to find the receipt. No luck. It’s a lovely ‘feeling’ product but I’m simply not going to use something that contains such a high concentration of alcohol on my already very dry skin. Thanks but no thanks.

Bobbi Brown

Regular readers know how obsessed I am lately with foundation. My current favourite is Maybelline’s Fit Me Hydrate and Smooth.

I wanted to treat myself this Christmas to a high-end foundation and was planning to buy Chanel’s Vitalumiere Satin Smoothing Fluid Makeup (supposedly very good for dry, mature skin) but after getting a sample of it, I was so disappointed.

I have a feeling the SA didn’t shake the bottle before pouring the sample and it was like applying plaster to my face.

That led me to Bobbi Brown’s Skin Foundation. I read a bunch of reviews online and lots of folks with dry, older skin seemed to really like it. So I got a sample yesterday (in Porcelain which I think is a tad too pale for me) and it’s glorious.

This is totally going on my Christmas list.

Lise Watier

Eyebrows have been the bane of my life lately. Overplucked as a teenager and never recovered, they have a life of their own.

For a while I’d been using MAC’s Pro Longwear Paint Pot in Tailor Grey to fill in my brows. But I needed something darker.

I bought and returned two MAC brow pencils. Why does every cosmetics company think people with brown hair want auburn eyebrows? Every pencil I tried was far too warm. Ugh.

I finally stumbled upon Lise Watier’s Eyebrow Pencil in the shade Châtain – it’s the perfect mud colour. Kind of grey, kind of black, kind of brown. And it’s brilliant.

Impruv

Terrible name, great product. In the never-ending search for a good winter moisturizer for my dehydrated, ageing skin I found Stiefel Impruv Derma Membrane Structure Cream for dry, sensitive skin. Horrah! That’s me.

I read somewhere on another blog that you’ll find it on some dusty bottom shelf at Shoppers Drug Mart. And that’s exactly right. It’s inexpensive ($18) and contains some fabulous ingredients.

I read a lot of reviews from Canadians who say this saved their skin during winter. So I’m giving it a go and so far, so good.

Canadian Beauty Bloggers Network on Facebook

I’m a member of this (closed) group on Facebook and turned to the other members for dry skin advice.

I asked:

What are your dry/dehydrated skincare recommendations? I live in Winnipeg and no matter what I put on my face it still feels tight. The best luck I’ve had so far is with Eucerin’s Aquaphor ointment but it’s not very practical for daytime use. I’ve tried lots of stuff so I’m hoping one of you has a miracle moisturizer recommendation to kick Canada’s winter butt! 

One cream recommended to me several times was Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré. The folks at Beautypedia don’t think much of it but – apparently – it’s a bit of a cult beauty product.

I rubbed a bunch of stuff on my hands yesterday at Sephora (namely Josie Maran’s Pure Argan Milk Intensive Hydrating Treatment and a couple of First Aid Beauty creams) and fell in love. Stupidly I didn’t look for the Embryolisse stuff.

Clearly I have a lot of moisturizing to do over the next little while.

[Along with the winter skin advice it was recommended that I exfoliate, use a cream or oil cleanser and a good serum. I’m already doing that. My skin must be doomed.]

Bobbi-Brown-Long-Wear-Gel-Eyeliner

Recently I wrote about Maybelline Eyestudio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner.

You can get it at the drugstore and it’s super cheap, looks good and applies easily.

But, like any beauty blogger worth his/her winged liner, I couldn’t stop there.

It’s supposed to be smudge-proof and waterproof for 24 hours and, after wearing it on a bike ride with watery eyes, it stood up to its claim.

Then I wore it during my weekly workouts and, while it pretty much stayed put (through my sweat), the little wings at the end of my liner smudged a bit and it transferred under my eyes.

I had a total urge to try Bobbi Brown Long Wear Gel Eyeliner which is basically the high-end version of the same thing. So I did – fortuitously I had to return something to The Bay and bought the Bobbi Brown liner instead.

The comparison

Bobbi Brown’s liner is more tenacious than Maybelline.

The colour I got (Graphite Shimmer) is virtually identical to Maybelline’s Charcoal.

In fact, both liners are identical in every way EXCEPT their durability – same pot, same size, same creamy consistency, same ease of application.

But Bobbi Brown comes out on top because it really is long wearing. After running both under water and smudging on the back of my hand, Maybelline disappears. Bobbi Brown stays put.

The kicker

Maybelline Eyestudio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner costs around $10 CA. Bobbi Brown Long Wear Gel Eyeliner costs around $30 CA. So this is one expensive eyeliner!

Wanna know what it looks like? EXACTLY the same as the Maybelline eyeliner I’m wearing in this post.

MAC Mineralize Moisture SPF 15 Foundation

One thing I’ve noticed is that as the weather gets colder my skin begins to shrivel up.

No amount of moisturizer, serum or oil seems to stop it. And it’s mostly on my cheeks.

I’m planning to buy a humidifier this winter but, like any obsessed beauty blogger, I’m also looking at ways my everyday makeup can help ease the problem.

I do all I can to prep my skin with moisture before applying makeup but I figured maybe I could do more with the foundation I use AND perhaps finish my makeup by spritzing with a moisturizing toner.

I stumbled across this video review of MAC’s Mineralize Moisture Foundation from the Beautypedia folks and, after checking out lots of other reviews, decided to buy it.

Winter is so harsh in my part of Canada and this foundation is raved about by folks with dry skin.

Putting aside how yellow Mercedes’ face looks in this video, I agree with everything she says.

My verdict: it’s a great foundation.

I never use a lot of foundation: one small pump, and I still have some left over. First I dot it sparingly on my face then I go over it with a damp Beauty Blender. I actually bought the same shade as Mercedes uses in the video above (NC 15).

I put a tiny bit of loose powder on my forehead and under my eyes, on my chin and on my cupid’s bow with a small brush.

It has a satin finish (meaning your face will look a bit shiny after you apply it). It doesn’t sink into my fine lines or pores. It provides light coverage although it’s marketed as a medium coverage foundation. My guess is you could easily layer it to build up the coverage.

It’s easy to apply BUT it’s pretty expensive: $43 CA (around £22). But it comes in loads of shades.

I’ve come to realise I’m not much of a budget foundation gal. Unless I can test a foundation on my face in the store, I’m not going to buy it. I’ve gone drugstore for foundation a couple of times and ended up returning it to exchange it for another colour. And that’s just a hassle. Plus, I’m lazy.

• • •

MAC Prep and Prime Fix Plus

I also got my hands on MAC’s Prep + Prime Fix + which I’m spraying on my face in the hope I’ll look less like a shriveled prune. I’m told you can use this toner before or after applying foundation. I’m planning to keep it in my makeup bag and use it throughout the day during the winter months. I’ll give you an update soon to let you know whether it’s worth the investment.

Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel EyelinerI used to wear liquid eyeliner ALL THE TIME. I don’t remember when I stopped but I did.

If you’ve read my about page you’ll know I stopped wearing a lot of makeup but have gradually been coming back to it.

One of the things I never thought would make a comeback on my face was liquid eyeliner. I was pretty sure my ageing eyelids wouldn’t stand for it.

Twice a week I don’t wear mascara because I workout and workouts equal sweat and sweat equals ruined mascara. Waterproof or not. On those days I still wear eye makeup but use a clear mascara instead.

I’ve invested in long-wearing eye products which stay in place through my exercising. And I’ve gradually been wearing more and more makeup on my workout days.

I’ve been using two waterproof pencil eyeliners (in black and taupe) but suddenly had an urge to ditch those and use liquid eyeliner.

After reading up on the best rated eyeliners on Beautypedia I narrowed it down to Bobbi Brown’s Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner ($33 CA) and Maybelline’s Eyestudio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner ($10 CA).

When I was a kid, I used liquid liner that went on very wet and dried to a matte, black finish. If you were unlucky, it flaked off. Today – in 2015 – formulas have changed dramatically. Gel liner is THE thing. It’s neither wet nor dry. And not a flake in sight.

The Bobbi Brown eyeliner gets rave reviews EVERYWHERE. But $33? That’s a bit much dontcha think?

So you’ll understand how happy I was to find this YouTube smackdown from the fabulous Makeup Geek.

I also read this great post from Rock Paper Beauty.

Decision made! Maybelline it is. In the colour charcoal. Not black.

I do love jet black but for everyday wear I want to soften things a bit (being over 40 and everything). Maybelline’s charcoal is very close to black but that bit softer.

The finish is really nice. It’s not a flat, matte colour. It has a tiny bit of sparkle in it but it’s not that noticeable. It’s more of a glossy finish.

And it’s SO EASY to apply. I don’t think I’ve ever used a liner that’s this easy to put on. No dragging AT ALL. It’s buttery soft. Good news for my sometimes-crepey lids.

I actually use MAC’s 208 angled brow brush. And I apply it as close to my lashes as possible. When I’m done, I sort of stick the brush up gently into the roots of my lashes too – not quite tightlining but making sure I cover up the skin.

I’ve yet to wear the eyeliner during a workout but, so far, I’m super impressed with it.

I went out on my bike today and the wind and cold made my eyes water A LOT. But that Maybelline stuff stayed in place.

If you’re looking for a gel liner, I honestly don’t think you need to spend big bucks. This Maybelline liner is a keeper. The irony is, Beautypedia gave it a crappy review. And you know how I am about my Beautypedia reviews. I think this is one case where they got it wrong.

Maybelline EYE STUDIO LASTING DRAMA GEL EYELINER Charcoal 2

PS: if you’re interested, I’m wearing a brand-new lip gloss from Elizabeth Arden and I love it! This is Luminous Lip Gloss in Rosegold. It’s sort of rosey and sort of gold. It’s also sort of expensive ($25 CA). I’ve been loving my cheap Rimmel lip glosses but I had an urge. Shhh. Don’t tell.

MAC Pro Longwear Paint Pot Tailor Grey 2

I’ve just discovered the best eyebrow fix.

Most recently I’ve been using a variety of shades from my Paula’s Choice Matte eyeshadow palette to fill in my brows. But none of the colours is quite right. Too dark, too warm, too light.

I ended up blending together a couple of the colours, mixing with water and applying with an angled brush but I wasn’t quite satisfied.

Before that I was using MAC’s Brow Set in Bold Brunette but I’d started to find it too dark.

After spending all evening looking at eyebrow products on Beautypedia and watching a bunch of YouTube videos (my favourite is Lisa Eldridge below), I was all set to buy MAC’s brow pencil in Lingering.

Then I watched this video from Mary Greenwell and something she said really stayed with me: you’re filling in the shadow behind your brow hair. Stay away from red or blue based colours and look for something earthy.

I recently bought MAC’s Pro Longwear Paint Pot in Tailor Grey and had a sudden brainwave to try it as an eyebrow product. It’s a great earthy colour.

IT IS PERFECT!

And I don’t have grey eyebrows.

I use a small eyeliner brush to lightly apply it and then quickly comb through some clear mascara.

Taking pictures of eyebrows is difficult. While you may not be particularly impressed with how things look in the photo below, what I can tell you is I haven’t been this happy with my eyebrows in years.

MAC Pro Longwear Paint Pot Tailor Grey eye brow filler

L'Oréal Paris Voluminous Butterfly mascara 1

DECEMBER 2015 UPDATE

I recently bought the waterproof version of this mascara and LOVE it. The brush really does take some getting used to but the results are worth it for those of us with sparse or thin eyelashes. I was in the market for a waterproof mascara and originally bought Clinique’s High Impact Waterproof mascara but ended up returning it because it made me look as though I only had about five eyelashes.


I’ve lost count of the amount of mascaras I’ve loved.

It’s one of those products that (like foundation) I’m always searching for.

I’ll find one that looks good but is hard to take off, hard to apply, flakes, smudges under my eyes or is too expensive.

In a fit of mascara indulgence a few months ago, I bought a handful of drugstore brands including L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Butterfly. On a bit of a whim really. Beautypedia said fairly decent things about it so I figured I’d try it.

It sat in my little mascara pot for ages. I’d use it occasionally but it wasn’t my ‘go to’ mascara.

I found it hard to apply because of its weird brush – which is a bit like a rubbery 3D comb. I even poked myself in the eyeball a couple of times.

L'Oréal Paris Voluminous Butterfly mascara 3

Not wishing to blind myself in the name of beauty, I didn’t use it much.

Then I went to a wedding in September and had to do my makeup in a hurry and ended up using this Butterfly stuff. During the handful of times I’d used it before, I noticed it stays fairly clean looking after I’d applied it. It doesn’t smudge under my eyes and I can create quite dramatic lashes with it.

I also wanted to wash it off easily at the end of the night (and this one ticks all those boxes).

I haven’t used another mascara since then.

L'Oréal Paris Voluminous Butterfly mascara 2

The brush definitely takes some getting used to. It has a side with short bristles and a side with longer bristles. I start by getting the short side right up against my lashes and eyelid and I keep combing and wiggling a bit from side to side. I finish by combing with the longer bristles.

This mascara is easy to fuck up but once I got the hang of it, I have to say it’s one of the best drugstore mascaras I’ve used.

The Beautypedia review nails it really:

What this mascara does do well is distribute itself evenly on hard-to-reach lashes. It also provides noticeable length as well as some curl, and the extra bristles easily sweep through any clumps that might develop from layering.