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July Favourites: Grass Is Greener Edition

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I can’t remember the last time I was in the US for long enough to visit Target and Ulta, so you can imagine my glee when my family decided to take a road trip to Chicago to visit my cousins whom we hadn’t seen since my wedding almost three years ago. In the intervening years, Target has come and gone in Canada; Shoppers Drug Mart has begun stocking NYX, and the brand has opened a number of standalone stores. H&M Beauty has massive displays in flagship locations, Toronto has its own MUJI, which carries lovely skincare staples and beauty accessories. Yet it’s still near impossible to get certain coveted brands and items in Canada.

I, uh, went a lil ham, but… when in Rome. Before my trip, I researched the most recommended items from brands I knew to be difficult to get in Canada, like Sonia Kashuk, Pixi, and Laura Geller. Despite having a specific list of things to look for, I couldn’t resist a few impulse buys, and good thing — they ended up being my favourite items from my US haul. Here they are!

Pixi Natural Contour Powder – Shape and Shadow ($20 USD)

This compact came in a tightly sealed box with no testers in sight, so it was a risky buy. When I first opened it, it looked way too dark for my light/medium skintone, but it’s such a creamy, blendable powder that I easily customized the intensity by switching up the tools I use. For a natural contour, I use a dual fibre blending brush; if I’m looking for a deeper shadow I’ll use a dense round brush (I love the NYX Pro Contour Brush). The colour is perfection, and the cool mint packaging includes a mirror.

Unfortunately, just days after returning home to Toronto, the compact fell off my window sill where I do my makeup and smashed into a million pieces. I am currently trying my hand at repairing it, but the results while potentially successful are hella ugly.

In the meantime I’ve found it available for purchase on Amazon.ca from Beauty Bridge Canada. With shipping it’s about $31 CAD, which is a few more dollars than I spent in the US. Since you’re not subject to exchange rates or foreign transaction fees on your credit card, it’s a decent buy. If my experiment doesn’t work, I’ll definitely be repurchasing this new staple. [Update! Re-pressing this powder was a disaster; I repurchased from Amazon.]

As a sidenote: I love the Pixi brand, but have always found their placement within Target to be so unusual. The price point is high in comparison to other drug store brands; they’re more comparable to MAC and Benefit rather than Revlon and Wet n Wild, IMO. Of course they seem grossly overpriced in Target. If you’re interested in checking them out, keep in mind that Pixi products, in many cases, are a cut above.

Laura Geller Balance-n-Brighten Baked Color Correcting Foundation, Fair ($33 USD)

I don’t even know what compelled me to pick this up, since powder is just about always a miss for me. I’m ok with setting certain areas of my face lightly with a fine, loose powder, but I have yet to meet a pressed or baked powder that actually looked good on my skin. They always appear cakey and make my skin look parched. I’m not a fan of a matte look on myself.

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The first couple of times I used this powder, I used it to set under my eyes, on my forehead, and around my nose. I was surprised at how undetectable it was. It totally removed the shine but didn’t look ultra matte, and it wasn’t gathering in odd places. The next time I used it, I decided to set my whole face (I don’t normally do this, but I had been trying out the L’Oréal Infallible Pro-Glow foundation, and that shit does not mess around. It is glowy AF). Again, I couldn’t believe how invisible this powder was. And to my surprise, over the course of the day my skin still looked fairly dewy. I loved that it was adding staying power to my makeup without drying out my skin.

I decided to try the ultimate and use this product as it was intended — as a powder foundation. I was absolutely blown away. It delivered a more matte look than I like, so I likely won’t be using this method again, but it looked so smooth and airbrushed on my skin, and offered about medium coverage. It looked so natural; aside from the more-matte-than-usual finish, I could not tell that I was wearing makeup at all. It didn’t look powdery, didn’t settle into lines, and the colour was perfect for my NC25 skin tone. I can only imagine how great this would be with a spritz of MAC Fix+ or Pixi Glow Mist (which I also happened to nab from Target).

Matrix So Silver Shampoo ($22 USD)
and Matrix Moisture Me Rich Conditioner ($22 USD)

My final impulse buy was these 1L bottles of shampoo and conditioner by Matrix. I’ve never tried this brand, but I was happy to see the sale at Ulta — each of these massive bottles was on sale for $12.99 USD. I have been looking to replace my purple shampoo since I’m nearing the end of the bottle and am not that wowed by it. I thought this would be a great opportunity to try a salon brand at a great price.

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Since lightening my hair pretty significantly about 6 weeks ago, I have struggled with a bit of crispy texture and frizz despite using an Olaplex treatment at the salon. I’ve been applying coconut oil masks regularly and it does add a lot of softness, but I find it to be a pretty massive drag if I’m being honest. I don’t like spending too much time dealing with my hair.

The first time I used this shampoo and conditioner combo, my hair was softer than it had been before I lightened it. Some of the reviews for the purple shampoo claim that it’s drying; since I used it with the moisturizing conditioner, I can only assume the latter has done its job and then some. My hair felt silky and flexible, and had a ton of movement. The purple shampoo worked great at removing the brassiness in the lighter parts of my hair (and I didn’t feel it necessary to wear gloves as the instructions… instructed).

So there you have it! I really lucked out with these four impulse purchases.

For good measure, I’ll throw in my favourite highlighter from the month of July:

Marc Jacobs Beauty Glow Stick Glistening Illuminator, Spotlight ($53 CAD)

I must have been really sad on the day I bought this, because on a good day there’s no way I’d have spent $53 on a single highlighter. It’s appropriate that the word “glisten” is right in the product name, because it’s the perfect word to describe the finish of this highlighter. It glistens, it’s glossy, it glows.

marc-jacobs-illuminator

I tend to avoid cream highlighters, because in my experience even the most hyped products either separate on my skin, sit on top of my skin, or don’t layer well with powder products, which makes them impossible to set.

This illuminator, however, is very friendly with my other base products — and I don’t have to set it. It just stays put, and leaves a lovely, natural glow. I’ve also tried it on bare skin with just a bit of concealer around my problem areas. It was totally lovely.

I could have taken it back, but I didn’t. And I won’t.

That’s all for July! Welcome, August. More from my US haul to come.

August 1, 2016
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