the taupe pencils

I love cream shadows in stick pencil form – quick and easy to use, usually good longevity, and they provide a great base for eyeshadow to boot. I also love taupey, bronzy colours – super-flattering, neutral shades that can be worn for both daytime and night. I recently examined my collection of cream pencils and realized with a shock that I have five very similar shades of taupe-bronzy goodness. How many is too many? As any makeup addict will tell you, you can never have too many. I love them all!

Taupe Shadow Pencils

Now these aren’t exactly identical in shades, and you can especially tell the difference when swatching them. Regardless, I think they’re similar and I use these all in the same way. I draw them roughly all over my lid and blend them out with my finger or a small synthetic brush to give a nice even wash of colour all over my lids. I also sometimes add a darker shades onto the outer corner of my eyes for some additional definition to do a super quick smoky eye. These are all also great bases for eyeshadow and give them some added dimension.

From top to bottom we have:

  • Cover Girl Flamed Out Shadow Pencil in 350 Melted Caramel Flame – nice creamy cool-toned taupe shade
  • NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil in 617 Iced Mocha – this runs much darker than the Cover Girl version and looks great worn on its own. It creases very slightly, but with such a great price ($5.99) you can’t go wrong
  • Make Up For Ever Aqua Shadow in 20E – absolutely incredible staying power, once this is on, it’s on till you want it off. This is a warmer-toned option that looks almost like a deep rose gold in some light
  • Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-on Shadow Pencil in Rehab – definitely the darkest of the bunch and looks great as a liner or on the outer corner of the lids. I’d describe this as a cool-toned bronze
  • Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-on Shadow Pencil in Juju – Rehab’s lighter counterpart.  Really, really good staying power and it blends beautifully.

On days when you can’t be bothered to fuss with brushes and eyeshadows, or if you’re not fully comfortable with them, shadow pencils are such a great option.  Draw on, smudge out, done!

What’s your favourite shadow pencil?



wash your face and enjoy it

As I detailed in my current skincare routine, I go through a whole lot of steps every morning and evening. In order for this marathon session to not feel like a chore, I like to tell myself that this is a little daily pamper session and I try to enjoy it.  If you’re in the right headspace, washing your makeup off with a nice hot facecloth can feel soothing and enjoyable!

Something I recently acquired that definitely helps to elevate the whole face-washing experience is Ole Henriksen Pure Truth Melting Cleanser – 3 in 1 cleansing gelee. First of all, this name – a gelee! A melt! How fancy does that sound?! I am such a sucker for branding, anything with an interesting product description just gets me.

Pure Truth Cleansing Melt

This starts as a thick, balm with a jelly-like consistency (a gelee, some might call it). It smells amazing – it’s part of Ole Henriksen’s Pure Truth range, and everything in this range smells like oranges and creamsicles. As you massage it over your face, the jelly thins out into a nice luxurious-feeling oil.  It’s still a fairly thick oil, not as thin as actual cleansing oils. I massage it all over my face and really work it over my eyes and eyelashes to dissolve all my makeup, and wash it off with a hot face cloth. It works very well at removing every trace of makeup and grime from my face.

While I still love my Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm, this is way more fancy and makes me feel like my cleansing process is more of a treat than a tiresome bore. Love this!


defining your eyes part 1: shadow

If you’re a makeup aficionado, something like eyeliner techniques will seem very basic and obvious to you, but sometimes I’m surprised when I realize that all the women in my life aren’t as obsessed with makeup as I am, and don’t feel confident with many techniques aside from mascara and lip gloss. No need to be afraid! I agree that sometimes makeup techniques can seem intimidating, but what I love about makeup is that it’s a blank canvas to try anything.  I can’t say “you can’t make any mistakes!” because some things like too-dark foundation and stripes of orange bronzer, for example, really should be avoided, but the beauty of makeup is that if you don’t like what you’ve done, wash it off and start again!  No harm done, and at least you tried!

With this in mind, I’m going to start a series about some simple makeup techniques. Up first: using eyeshadow as an eyeliner.

What you’ll need: an angled brush and a dark eyeshadow – matte or shimmer are both fine.  I used the shade “Galaxy” from the Real Techniques Night Owl makeup kit.

Simple shadow eyeliner

This is the most simple and foolproof way to start to get into eyeliner and defining your eyes.  I’m sure you already have some sort of dark eyeshadow laying around, whether black, brown, navy… So just go get yourself an angled brush if you don’t already have one, and let’s get started!  This technique results in a fairly soft eyeliner look, so it’s great if you’re not used to wearing a lot of eye makeup and want to give your eyes some oomph!

The goal here is to draw a fairly thin line of dark shadow very close to your top lash line. Darkening the top lash line will define your eyes and will also make your lashes look fuller and thicker.  This step is usually done before mascara, but if having mascara on already helps you to really view your lash line, then put your mascara on first – whatever works for you. You can also do this once, apply your mascara, and then do it again to get it darker. You can see from the photo below that the line I drew is quite subtle and thin.

Simple black liner

Dip your angled brush in your eyeshadow of choice, position the brush as close as possible to your eyelashes, and push the eyeshadow along your lash line. The pushing action is important because it helps to build intensity and avoids eyeshadow fall-down onto your cheeks.  It’s usually easiest if you start from the inner corner and work your way outwards.  As always with makeup, it’s best to start light and built up, because it’s easier to add more than it is to take away. After pushing the product along your lash line once, inspect your work.  Did you do a straight line? Is the product even across the lash line?  Is it dark enough? Load up your brush again and repeat as many times as necessary, evening out where necessary, and going darker or getting a thicker line if that’s what your prefer. Once you’re comfortable with this process, you can even start playing around with it and trying out a more winged-effect, which means having a thinner line at the inner corner and building up to a thicker, winged-out line at the outer corner, kind of like a really soft, subtle cat-eye.


Eyeshadow as eyeliner

And there you have it – fairly simple, beautifully defined eyes! See how my lash line looks a lot fuller, with just a simple swipe of eyeshadow?

What do you think of this series – is it helpful?  How do you like to define your eyes?


mascara mondays: Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes

Another mascara Monday, featuring what just may be the best mascara I’ve tried in a long time – and that’s saying something!


I haven’t tried much from Tarte but so far everything is a winner. I recently purchased Lights, Camera, Lashes 4-in-1 mascara  from a recommendation and I was immediately impressed. This is rare for me because it usually takes me multiple uses to really “get to know” a mascara, figure out the best application techniques, how many coats I need, etc.  This is marketed as a full-on impact mascara; Tarte claims that this will “increase the appearance of lash volume by 424 percent”. Now I have no technical way of verifying the 424% claim (how could you?), but suffice it to say that this stuff is amazing.

The brush is your standard-shaped, natural-bristled brush – no gimmicks which I like. A few coats and you’ll get full on thick, full, voluminous, very black lashes and it also holds a curl quite well. Look at the picture below – no mascara gives me this kind of life and curl!  The formula builds really well on itself so you can keep applying coat after coat and get an effect pretty close to false lashes.  Now the “spiky factor” isn’t amazing but since the results are so damn good I am willing to forgive them.

Lights Camera Lashes mascara


The packaging is kind of odd – instead of the standard cylindrical tube this is encased in some type of squared-off purple leather. However, this unique packaging in no way impacts the performance of the product so I can deal.

Lights, Cameras, Lashes


Final verdict: this is hall of fame mascara. Seriously impressed!

  • formula: 9/10
  • brush: 8/10
  • overall look: 9/10

Have you ever tried this mascara? Which one should I try next?

september favourites

Time for a round-up of all the beauty bits and bobs I’ve been loving during the month of September!


September favourites


Sally Hansen Nail Rehab:  For those rare occasions when I haven’t had a chance to do my nails but can’t fathom the idea of going naked-nailed, this is a pink-toned translucent nail fortifier and strengthener. Two coats give a really pretty,very pale pink wash of colour. Makes me feel like I’m being nice to my nails and giving them some TLC.

Clinique Superbalance Makeup: This is an old favourite, and this month I purchased my second bottle. I use the shade 04 Cream Chamois. I consider this foundation a trusty reliable performer – decent coverage, great shades, well-priced, natural finish (not too matte, not too glowy). I tend to switch up my foundations every few days, but whenever this enters rotation it sticks around for a while.  I wore this for a really good chunk of September!

Ole Henriksen Pure Truth Melting Cleanser – really great, luxe cleanser. Review coming soon!

Anastasia Dipbrow Pomade in Blonde:  As I’ve previously raved, this stuff fakes amazing eyebrows for those of us who weren’t blessed with them. Love!

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner – I wear black liquid liner almost every day, and I’ve tried many. This one is hands-down my fave. My last tube was empty and I tested a few replacements, but so far nothing compares.  Amazing liquidy black formula, really pointy felt nib applicator, and insanely long-lasting. Since repurchasing this about a month ago I haven’t even bothered to try any of my others. They just can’t measure up. 

Nars And God Created the Woman Eye Kit – You can never have enough neutral eyeshadows and palettes. This comes with 6 neutral shades, two matte and four sparkly. While it could never measure up to my Naked palettes (can anything?), I’ve been using this tons this month and the shades are really pretty and quite long-wearing. With a good mix of light, medium and dark shades there are lots of different looks you can achieve. The eye kit also comes with a eyeshadow brush and the pro-prime smudge proof eyeshadow base.

What were you loving this past month?  Any recommendations for my beauty shopping list?