Annabelle insomnia: EOTDs by request

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

To complete our insomnia coverage, I wanted to bring you ladies two more EOTDs. A few of our you asked for wearable looks using the Disturbia and Insomnia quads, and I felt obliged to comply!

I promise; this is the last insomnia post… I feel like we’ve been posting about it forever; the collection itself felt so large! Not, like, MAC VV large, but still: large for the drugstore. And I guess it was; Annabelle collections usually feature just four Mono eyeshadows, rather than three quads for a total of twelve domed shadows, two liners, a lipstick, and a new cheek product. But hey, I’m not complaining!

More photos, brief how-to paragraphs, and swatches >> (more…)

The Low-Buy

Friday, July 23, 2010

I’d just like to start off by saying that I’m by no means trying to insult those who aren’t on low-buys! Heck, if you can afford it, go for it. I know tons of wonderful women who consider themselves makeup “collectors,” and I  haven’t the slightest problem with it… but we’re not all that lucky ;)

Oh, also –– none of these stash photos are mine, and are watermarked with the screen names of the lovely ladies who they do belong to! Thanks so much for lending us your photos, girls :)

There comes a point in our lives when some of us realize that we have… way too much makeup. Or haircare. Or fragrance.

Like, way too freakin’ much. And it’s hurting our wallets!

So we start thinking about low-buys, or even no-buys. Read on for more details about them, and some tips! They can definitely be hard to get into, but you have to remember: they’re like diets. You have to ease yourself into them, and try not to set your goals too high!

Why you might start one
For a lot of us, it’s a money thing. Makeup is not a cheap hobby! (Well, I mean, I guess it could be… if you were only into Wet ‘n Wild?) But sometimes, it also has to do with quantity — I know that, personally, I’m on a low-buy for both reasons. I have way too much makeup, and it doesn’t fiscally make sense for me to buy even more!

I chose to go on a low-buy because I know a no-buy isn’t an option for me. No-buys are like quitting smoking cold turkey… sometimes effective, but more often than not, they don’t take. It’s not uncommon for ladies to break their no-buy after just a few weeks and go on a buying “binge” totaling hundreds of dollars! For a lot of us, that sounds ridiculous, but if that’s your lifestyle to begin with, it’s a hard habit to break. I mean, think of how hard it would be to suddenly stop eating your favourite food group. You’d go nuts!

What you might choose to do

Start a “beauty bank”
If you’re going on a low-buy because you’re short on funds, a lot of ladies will choose to start with this! Basically, you’re ONLY allowed to buy products with cold, hard cash, and it has to come from your “beauty bank” (be it a cute little piggie or a plain ‘ol envelope.)

As I’m sure you all know by now, we tend to spend more when it feels less “real” — when you’re using plastic, when you’re able to spend more than you really have, or even when you’re making purchases online. So, the first thing you can do is to only let yourself buy makeup/fragrance/whatever with cash!

(I think I’m just going to say “makeup” for the rest of this post. But it applies to anything!)

Here’s where the “bank” part comes into play. Choose a schedule to “deposit” money, and a deposit limit. A combination I hear pretty often is $5 every Friday, but of course you can adapt this to fit your lifestyle and budget! Then, just start saving. Want to pick up a $10 eyeliner at the drugstore? That’s totally fine, but you’ll have to wait two weeks to do it! Want to splurge on a new palette? Go for it — but it means you can’t buy anything for the next few months.

It’s hard to get used to it, but it’s damn effective! Being able to see and hold your “bank” should help a ton.

Make a list and plan your purchases
Come on — I know I can’t be the only one around here who’s a little OCD! I love making lists, and they work incredibly well when you’re trying to cut back. Personally, I find this to be more helpful if it’s the size of your collection (and not the rate at which your wallet’s bleeding money) that’s out of control, but it does help with both.

This one is really, really flexible, but here’s what I’d do:

  1. Sort through your whole stash. Tally up how many you have of each item, and note down what you’re still “missing.”
  2. Look at the totals for what you already have. If you have more than ten of any one product (ie eyeliners,) it’s time to examine what you own! Sort them into groups and swatch them all, then put any of the items which you could live without (ie you’ve never used them or you have another item that’s a pretty good dupe for the product) into a separate box. What you do with that box is your decision, but I’d recommend swapping the items, giving them away to friends, or donating them to a local women’s shelter!
  3. Now, look at the list of what you’re “missing.” (My example? Violet eyeliner. I still don’t have a good one!) Put them in order of what you want or need the most to what you want or need the least.
  4. Here’s the hard part: you can ONLY buy items on your “missing” list! I like to figure out what I want the most, then pick out exactly what I want, test it or try it on if possible, then pick out exactly when you’re going to buy it (I find the end of the month or a significant date, like a birthday or graduation, is a good bet.) When you go to pick it up, bring just enough cash and leave your plastic at home!

Shop your stash
This one’s pretty much quitting cold-turkey. And by “pretty much,” I mean “is.” It’s hard to force yourself to use what you already have, but there are a few tricks to it!

For starters, find a small shoebox and put all of your go-to items in the box. (Exceptions: if you haven’t another comparable item! If your go-to primer is your only primer, putting it in the box would just be nonsensical.) Then simply prohibit yourself from using them. If you can’t help yourself, give it to a straight male family member or friend for safekeeping.

(Why a straight male? Think about it: those are your favourites. You don’t want anyone using them!)

Setting away all of your go-to items forces you to expand your horizons… into the rest of your stash. I don’t know a single person who’s tried shopping their stash and didn’t come out with at least one new favourite they didn’t even realize they had!

For those of you who plan on shopping your stash, it’s always a good idea to figure out when you’ll re-introduce those favourites. Whether it’s after three months or after you’ve hit pan three times is up to you!

Project x-pan
This one’s the most basic, and is practically the reverse of shopping your stash. Pick a number of items (usually 5 or 10,) then prohibit the buying of everything other than the essentials until you’ve completely finished them!

Personally, I’d never be able to do this. To be honest… I’ve never hit pan on anything!

What you can do to make it easier
Combine ideas — you’re likely to have less makeup lemmings (things that you really really want) if you’re shopping your stash while you’re on a makeup budget!

Sample, sample, sample — I’m quite non-committal when it comes to products, so I’m a huge fan of sampling items whenever possible. Not only can sampling help you figure out what works for you, a bit of a sample fix can take the edge off your lemmings ;) Usually (especially with fragrances,) if I finish up an entire sample, I’ll buy the full-sized product once it’s done.

(This does not happen often, because I’m easily distracted by other things that I already have, or that I’m about to sample. Attention spans are overrated!)

(Seriously, though: for me, at least, this works really well. It means that when I do buy the full-sized items, the search is over for the “perfect” product.)

Do it with a friend — just like exercising, diets, and studying, it’s easier when you have some moral support. Enlist someone to keep you in check!

Think of a reward — this isn’t always applicable, and works best for no-buys or for people who are going on a low-buy because they have too much already. But it’s nice to have an end point in mind, and it’s easier to stop yourself from buying something small if you know you’re working towards something big!

Some of the ladies I know who are on no-buys will go three months without buying makeup, then allow themselves to pick up one item they’re lusting over, be it a Dior quint or an Urban Decay palette… or a bottle of vintage Mitsouko…

 not only does gobraves47 have an awesome stash… she has the cutest pets ever!!

Treat your no-buy like a diet! It’ll take a ton of self-discipline, but you can’t be too hard on yourself. So you slip up now and again — no biggie. Just figure out why it happened and how you could prevent it in the future, instead of beating yourself up over it!

Are you on a “buy budget,” or do you want to be? Share your stories, opinions, or tips in the comments! 

How-to: curling with a flatiron

Monday, May 31, 2010

I’ve been promising some hair tutorials for ages, and… guess what? I finally got around to it! Here’s just-over-five-minutes of insanity — hopefully you’ll learn something, even if that something is nothing more than “take your meds on a regular basis.”

I do intend to do more videos in the future, so feel free to make requests for videos! We haven’t really done much since the contouring tutorials, and it feels like that was ages ago. Chances are, if you’ve made requests in the past, I’ve already long forgotten about them. (Memory of a five year old with ADD? Check!) Just to let you ladies know, the adorable pink iron in the vid is the Hana Professional, courtesy Misikko.

Can’t see the video? Don’t worry — just check it out here instead!

Hope your Mondays are going well :)

What to pair with raw, red silk

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A friend of mine is having a dress made (by her loving mother, not by a tiny sweatshop worker) out of this gorgeous burgundy-red raw silk, and she wanted some tips on what to do in terms of makeup.

Here’s a quick “hit list” for the fabric, taking into consideration (a) the fact that she’s not seeing a makeup artist to have her face done, nor is she one, and (b) the fact that we don’t want to spend her out of house and home for products she would never wear again.

Perhaps I should reword that, then — here is a “hit list” for the fabric… with her in mind!

  • Red lips are out of the question. Could this dress look amazing with red lips? Absolutely — but they would have to be perfect, and finding just the right shade would be a major PITA. I’d try a “my lips but better” mauve, with a bit of a gloss but no glitter.
  • Try a subtle smokey eye — I’d use chocolate browns and rich, satiny creams. (Nothing too shimmery or textured: you want the dress to have all the texture to itself!) Take a wash of the cream shadow over the whole lid, then deepen the crease with a fluffy brush and the dark shadow. Finally, take a smaller brush and smudge the darker shadow along the upper lashline.
  • Black mascara. None of this “brown mascara” nonsense!
  • Pink or plum blush, matte or semi-matte.
What I’d use on her, or on myself if I was wearing her dress.
(Yes, I’ll be reviewing + swatching that palette. It just got here today! Sorry for the flash; the sun set before I remembered I needed to do this.) 

Some products I’d check out, taking into consideration budget and availability in our city:

  • One shadow duo with a satiny cream and chocolate shade. Perhaps Lancome Ivory Opulence, Too Faced Sexpresso & Peach Fuzz, or even just two lovely shadows!
  • A Le Gloss Stick. Maybe Pink Tease or Nude Mood?
  • A MAC 217 for that crease, plus a 219 for the liner. (Budget option: Annabelle, Quo, or Ecotools brushes are your best under-$20 bets!)

And a couple tips I always give when I know there’ll be a ton of photos:

  • Blotting tissue!
  • Ample setting powder, preferably pure silica spheres.
  • WEAR PRIMER. At least two kinds! (One face primer and one eye primer, plus the optional lip primer… no, I don’t mean two kinds of the same type.)
  • Make a pact with a friend: I’ll tell you if your makeup’s off if you tell me when mine is!
  • Low-shimmer cheeks. A sheen is as shimmery as is allowed!
  • No SPF or talc in the foundation or cheek products.
  • Always flash-test first!

What would you ladies wear on your faces for this fabric?

A face to last the whole night long

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Prom’s coming up for my good friend Tess, so she had a makeup-related question for me. I’m just going to cut and paste the wall post below!

Hello my dear! I have a make up question for you. Prom is coming and I want a type of foundation, mascara, eyeshadow, liner that will last the night… do you have any brand suggestions?

Damn straight I have suggestions! I’m going to pretend I didn’t read the word “brand,” though, and I’ll grace over cheek products as well ;)


As you all know from yesterday’s review, I’m completely in love with Make Up For Ever Face and Body. However, I know she wouldn’t splurge on something like that — for starters, there’s no Sephora in her city, and her skin’s gorgeous enough that she doesn’t usually need wear-like-metal foundation! So, I’d go with something light- to medium-coverage.

Recommendations: I’d look for the best shade match for your skin, and give it at least two days’ trial run before an event. Some drugstore foundations to check out would be Maybelline SuperStay, perhaps, or Revlon Photo Ready (a MUFE HD “drugstore dupe.”) Optimally, though, I’d have Tess pick up samples of the correct shades in MUFE Face and Body and HD! They’d look lovely for the night, but not empty out her wallet or leave her with excess product.

Tips: Make sure to bring blotting tissue, and to powder! If I need something to wear for an insanely long time, I’ll actually powder twice — after my foundation has set, I’ll powder very lightly, spritz with a facial spray (or just water+glycerine in a 10:1 ratio in a spray bottle, which can be picked up at almost any dollar store,) then re-powder and re-spritz once that’s dried. Additionally, avoid foundations with SPF, and do a flash test of your foundation match as well as looking at it in different lighting!

Lashes and lines

I love, love, love tubing mascaras. They won’t smudge, flake, or run on you, even if you get a little teary-eyed! We tried Fiberwig on Tess last summer, and it held up through hours of crying. (Though her liner did end up running anyways. There goes a bright white napkin!)

Recommendations: I’d look at Imju Fiberwig and L’Oreal Beauty Tubes for mascara, and GOSH Extreme Art Liners are the only option for your liner! (Seriously, that stuff is crazy.) Another option is something like Benefit’s She-Laq, which “seals in” liner and mascara in case of tears! (I haven’t tried this specific product, but a friend of mine uses it while [synchronized] swimming and says it’s wonderful.)

Tips: for an in-your-face fringe, layer your tubing mascara over something volumizing! Make sure to keep a lash comb at hand while applying, and try out the combination beforehand to see how it works. Also, keep q-tips in your clutch in case your liner does run, so you can clean it up without having to take everything off.


One word: primer. I’d definitely go with something like Urban Decay Primer Potion or Too Faced Shadow Insurance, but if neither are accesable, a cream concealer or a layer of foundation plus a sweep of powder with do an okay job, too. (Just make sure they don’t leave a “slippery” finish, like some silicone-based liquids can!) As for shadow, stay away from creams if you’re not sure if they crease on you or not, and use what you already have.

Recommendations: I know Tess is set for shadows, but if all you have are powdery pans of chalkiness, you’ll want to pick up some new shadows! It’s hard to go wrong with a MAC quad or Dior quint, but I’d also recommend Annabelle trios for an awesome drugstore choice. If you don’t want to really invest in some good neutrals, trios, quads, and quints are a great way to get a little more bang for your buck!

Tips: stick with neutrals or subtle colours — this is not the time to go crazy with trend makeup! While it’s good to have fun with your shadows, remember that you’ll probably still have these photos fifty years down the road when all the styles have changed… and you have grandkids.


I’d stick with matte or semimatte blush and contour, layer a powder over a cream (or use powder alone,) and be sure to flash-test your cheeks before leaving! Tess will probably be taking a lot of photos, so it would also be a great time for her to contour her cheeks… but if you do this, make sure it’s flawlessly blended and you’re comfortable with it.

Recommendations: none here; there are too many great cheek products out there! I do love MAC Harmony to contour, though, and I know that I’d for sure wear Rose Fresque.

Tips: while a subtle luminizer on the tops of your cheekbones will be gorgeous, a superfrosty cheek will look dated and unnatural in 95% of your photographs. Avoid, avoid, avoid!

That’s all for today — have fun at prom, love! Do you have any tips to share? Hit us up in the comments! Here’s a photo of the lovely Tess so you ladies can have an idea of what skintype, face shape, etc you’re recommending things for!

Fragrance: the quick ‘n dirty beginners’ guide, part three

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Congratulations, burgeoning fragrance junkies! We’ve made it to the third day. As promised, I have just a bit more information for you…

Fragrance finders

Once you know the names of a couple fragrances you’re into, the internet becomes your best friend! Both Sephora and Nordstrom have handy frag finders that sort out scents by their families and subfamilies, leading you towards other things you might like. (Sephora also has an in-store version of a fragrance finder on cool, touch-screen monitors.)

Formulations, and concentrations
Fragrances can be found in a ton of forms, from the traditional sprays, to solids, to silicone-y gels, to candles, to lotions, to body washes and bars of luxurious soap… at the end of the day, though, the one thing you need to remember is to smell the form you’ll be buying! Most fragrances will smell quite similar in spray form vs. lotion (for instance,) but some fragrances are less precise.

When it comes to traditional perfume, though, you still have to keep an eye out for EdT, EdP, and parfum concentrations! Not only do they include different percentages of pure parfum, they can sometimes vary in the absolute used, as well! Two of the best examples that come to mind for this are Chanel’s Coco and Dior’s Miss Dior Cherie. Coco is spicier in its EdT formulation, and a sharper floral in its EdP formulation; Miss Dior Cherie is gorgeous in its EdP formulation but watered down and more synthetic in its EdT formulation. (I thorougly dislike its EdT — but that’s a story for another day.)

Perfume extract/Extrait/Parfum: 15-40%
Eau de Parfum/Parfum de Toilette/ Eau de Perfume: 10-20%
Eau de Toilette: 5-15%
Eau de Cologne/Cologne: Chypre citrus type perfumes with 3-8%
Splash and After shave: 1-3% aromatic compoundsvia Wikipedia and previous knowledge… how unglamorous!

Helpful reads
Now Smell This is definitely my favourite ‘fume blog, and there’s a handy perfume-for-beginners article here! This is a stellar example of a blogger who does her “job” much better than I. Even just googling for reviews can be handy too, though — the only place I’d avoid would be something like (Have you noticed how 99% of the fragrance reviews are “I love this! It’s perfect! So sexy!” for every bloody fragrance?! It annoys the crap out of me.)

I’d also recommend reading Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez’ Perfumes: the A – Z Guide. While I don’t treat their word as the bible by any means, their reviews are often insightful (and hilarious!), and the book’s (albeit much too short!) introduction provides a brilliant background on the world that is the perfume industry. Here is an excerpt from my favourite chapter! There are a number of fragrance books in existance, but this was an easy read, and it was easy to find — the public library isn’t too focused on perfume, apparently!

That’s the end of our fragrance beginner’s guide, ladies! Thanks for sticking around, and remember: my door (or, rather, my comments thread) is always open for questions or comments :)
Missed an installment? Check out the first two parts of this guide here and here!
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