Reviews

Keep On Spinning: the Edit Review

As an early Millennial, I’ve watched a lot of technology rise and fall. My first computer was a simple DOS system, I can recite every Windows update in chronological order from 1990, and the sound of dial-up still haunts my dreams. As a life-long audiophile, I remember the thrill of finally owning my own portable CD player, realizing I was no longer limited to the narrow selection of bulky cassettes my parents kept in the car, even if the disc did skip every time we hit a bump. Stalking out the new CD singles was a weekend ritual, and finding a Sam Goody gift card tucked into a birthday card was like winning the lottery. Mp3s offered relief from the clutter of all those jewel cases, but I’ve always liked to keep physical copies of my favorite albums: like precious art objects, there’s something sacred to the physical record of a song. The grooves and pits of the recording are like a fingerprint of the artist.
That said, while I’d always been intrigued by the stack of Stones’ and Beatles’ albums my parents left to collect dust and the massive stack of 7” disco singles my grandmother had acquired through the years, I’d never really experienced vinyl. I collected a couple of my favorite albums as I found them in thrift stores or garage sales—ChangesOneBowie, Rebel Yell, Bloodflowers—but as my technologically gung-ho family tossed whatever they deemed dated, I had no way to really listen to them. And in a gesture that seems all too popular in my generation, I eschewed modern convenience for nostalgia by purchasing only a portable turntable to set the musical mood of my apartment. Little did I realize when I bought myself a used copy of First and Last and Always for just pennies more than my morning latte that I was about to have something like a Religious Experience of the Ears. It was an album I’d heard literally hundreds of times in various formats—CD, mp3, even recorded off someone else’s stereo on a cassette—but I’d never heard the depth of tone or richness that I was getting from this piece of carved-up plastic that was older than me. I was moved by nuances I’d never even noticed before, all channeled out of barely-there speakers in a device that looked like a briefcase. Clearly, this piece of plastic was something magical, and I fully intended to root out more.
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Luckily, vinyl is coming back. Like film photography and Super-8 video, there’s been a such a surge in interest that companies are starting to press records again. Hell, even Barnes and Noble has a section devoted to vinyl LPs. But what if you’re not looking for the new Adele album or an overpriced Elvis reissue? Where do you get your fix?
Enter the Edit. One part subscription service, one part personal shopper, the Edit is a daily text service that brings you a new, handpicked album or set with every message. How do they know what to suggest? Well, when you sign up, you’re asked to rate popular albums after providing your mobile number–the more albums you rate, the better the suggestions. Don’t worry, the rating process is more like Tinder than Consumer Report, and a simple swipe left or right tells the Edit all it needs to know. But don’t be discouraged if you still get some unpalatable choices–you can respond back to any text with a simple “LIKE” or “DISLIKE,” and the Edit logs that info. And if you don’t like something, you’re given the opportunity to request something else. I’ve snagged releases from Depeche Mode, remastered double LPs from the Cure, and a boxed collection of Floodland-era releases from the Sisters of Mercy.
Collection, Part I
Recently, the Edit offered up a double LP recording from Peter Murphy’s Wild Birds tour—needless to say, I jumped on it. I texted “yes” and got my confirmation, but hours later received another text saying my order was cancelled due to inventory issues. Disappointing, but I figured it just wasn’t meant to be. The next day, I woke up to a text saying they had gotten in a new shipment if I was still interested in ordering. This time, I my order was cancelled less than an hour after it was placed. Honestly, I was a little put off—why offer me something twice only to tell me I couldn’t have it? When my phone chimed the next day, I was surprised to see an apology and a credit for my troubles with the service. They explained that there had been an issue with their shipment and they didn’t want to sell defective product. Returns are free, but who wants the heartbreak of a broken record? Within the week, however, I received another offer for the elusive Wild Birds Live album, and my order was processed and shipped without cancellation. The marble-white double LP set was well worth the wait, and the Edit more than made up for the frustration of their back-end issues.
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Whether you’re a newly-initiated vinyl enthusiast looking to expand your library or a seasoned collector seeking out the newest releases, the Edit is a fun, easy service with plenty to offer. There’s no obligation to purchase, though I can’t promise you won’t be incredibly tempted at least twice a week. The Edit’s texts have become a highlight of my day—with seemingly endless resources for inventory and intelligence, there’s always something interesting to offer. Go ahead–ask the Edit to track down that album you’ve been stalking out, or let them help you find your new favourite record. It’s quickly become my favourite subscription service, and with no membership fees or recurring charges, it’s one of my wallet’s favourites too!
Full disclosure: I have not been compensated to promote the Edit in any way, but if you like what you hear and sign up using one of the links above, I receive referral credit which helps me bring you more music- and vinyl-related content on the regular!
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Vapours

The Art of Memory-Making with the Darling Clandestine Halloween Suite

Oversized sweaters, drapey scarves, leather jackets, pumpkin-spiced everything–these are just a few of my favourite things about Fall. When October hits, I can count on cheesy horror movies every night, spicy lattes, and going flat broke on spooky clothing, dark makeup, and limited seasonal perfumes. When I look back on Autumns past, I remember flashes of orange and red beneath my Docs, the scent of pumpkins and pie spice wafting through the sleeves of my faux jacket as I lug my portfolio out of my car. I remember thick, ambered chocolate and sticky-sweet Halloween candies drifting up as I fill pages in my sketchbook at the cafe.

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But this Autumn has been different. It’s been mossy forest trails and dusky rose gardens, cold darkroom chemistry and silver emulsions. This autumn needed a new olfactory soundtrack. Enter the Darling Clandestine Halloween Four-Scent Suite. There’s a reason DarlingClandestine is one of my favourite perfumeries: nothing can be expected, except quality and creativity. Presented in dropper-topped glass bottles, they appear every bit the mad alchemical product that perfume really is. The sleek, clean lines add an elegance to them, and they have an air of quack medical serums and elixirs when displayed together with my other DarlingClandestine bottles. But rather than claiming to soothe a colicky child or cure a woman’s ills, the labels are a series of breathtaking, beautifully-composed photographs by Leif Johnson. Each image depicts an almost eerily-calm landscape inhabited by a lone figure, like a snapshot from a long-ago memory, or a glimpse into a dream where the beach is our rational mind and the water is our emotional state. From the outside, it seems these were made for a season of darkroom sorcery and adventures behind the lens.

Like any scent, though, the real magic comes out on the skin. I was immediately drawn to Squander, with its crisp apple and creamy sandalwood, the ghost of cloves and spices like trails of exotic cigarillo smoke in brisk evening air. It’s everything I ever really look for in a Fall scent, replete with memories but hungry for more. Wither, too, pulled me in at first sniff: immediately leather boots and cool mists, it springs to life as a juicy berry and foliage scent when it hits my skin. It’s blue and green, purple and black, algid and zoetic. Spurn, by contrast, is a warm, tart red, like pomegranate wine aged in sweet oak barrels. It has a distinctly dry, leafy quality underneath the initial spike of fruit that makes it a distinctly cold-weather scent, to be paired with fire-lit gatherings and brisk evening excursions. It was Falter that shocked me, totally unlike anything I would have expected from a Fall seasonal perfume. All sweet grasses and green herbs, it’s a swirling, misty haze of a scent. It’s the foggy Reservation trails I’ve followed, the small, tender greens that spring up between layers of leaves fallen years before. There’s something rich and buttery like squash or smashed white pumpkin beneath it all, giving it a hint of not-unpleasant decay–life returning to its base elements in order to feed the new generation.

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When I wear a Darling Clandestine perfume, I’m not just wearing a series of notes, I’m wearing a mood. It sets the pace for the moments I will live and the memories I will create that day, it helps to set my frame of mind. Safe to say, these are not saccharine moods set by sweet, hard candies or pumpkin pie–there’s a time and a place for those things, but this Fall hasn’t seen many of them. My Fall has been rich with adventure, the intoxicating burn of creativity, and I need moods that will turn my days into works of art. There is no doubt in my mind that these perfumes will be a unique part of the memories I create this season, tinging them with a sweetness all their own.

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Reviews, Vapours

Vapours: Darling Clandestine Limerence Perfume Oil, a Review

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Limerence: that obsessive, all-consuming infatuation that drives us towards another human being. Some call it love, come call it a crush, but chances are good that you know the exact feeling. At this time of year especially, limerence pervades. Whether you have your Valentine’s Dream Date with your new Mr. Wonderful or will find yourself pining for a person who seems not to know you exist, you’ll probably find yourself in its throws.

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…but if you feel like your romance has gone stale or you’ve simply fallen out of love with love, you’re in luck! Indie perfumer Darling Clandestine has bottled this beautiful affliction. Part of the brand’s signature Calliope Crash line, it’s everything you would expect from one of their scents: complex, rich, and layered. You simply can’t sniff this straight from the bottle–it needs time to develop on your skin, blossoming with your own heat and chemistry into its true beauty. I think it’s particularly appropriate considering its namesake. That pressing, obsessive love conjures up images of exotic bouquets in oriental vases, displayed on crisp, almost snowy lace doilies. The wanting, needing pervades your every thought like the delicate fragrance wafting off those white petals.

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It makes perfect sense that at the forefront of this compulsive love story is the Casablanca lily. One of my favourite notes, this lily is an unblemished white both in the colour of its ruffled petals and its distinctive scent. It’s warm and wet, cooled by a bundle of green herbs. Sea salt and earth-derived mitti attar ground the blend, giving the whole thing an incredibly organic feeling, as if it could have grown from the earth in this exact way. This is not a delicate, airy floral but not an oppressive, heavy one either. Limerence reminds me of the scent of a greenhouse, herbaceous and slightly steamy, beginning as a strong new presence in your consciousness and fading slowly to a whisper in the back of your mind. Much like the beautiful obsession that is falling in love.

If this is the sort of love story that speaks to your soul (or if you simply love a lily perfume), Limerence might be the perfect olfactory backdrop for your infatuation. It’s available as a skin-loving oil and a long-lasting solid, as is most of Darling Clandestine‘s olfactive poetry.

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Reviews, Vapours

Vapours: Lollia In Love Shea Butter Handcreme, a Review

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For years, I thought the sexiest fragrances were dark, smoldering concoctions of oriental woods and resins, the kind I imagined wafting off the collar of a 1940’s Femme Fatale. While I love the idea of smelling like incense and lust, I’ve come to find that wearing such heavy, deep fragrances leave me feeling less dangerous and desirable and more nauseated and dizzy. Now, I’ve traded spices and smoke for petals and buds. These days, I’m perpetually on the hunt for the ultimate ethereal, feminine floral.

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It was pure serendipity when I first discovered Lollia‘s whimsical fragrances. Their delicate packaging caught my eye instantly, but I fell head-over-heels for their names: each Lollia fragrance is named not after a person, or a dominating note, or a kitschy “hook,” but a mood. It’s not necessarily aromatherapy, but Lollia links each of their scent blends to a particular human condition, like an olfactory soundtrack to life, which I absolutely adore. No one can guarantee, of course, that spritzing on some Wish will have stars shooting across the sky and deepest desires coming true, but it certainly can’t hurt.

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Lollia’s “In Love” is a little different from the rest of the line: while it is, at its heart, a lush floral, there’s a distinctly fruity quality that rises above the other notes. According to Lollia, In Love consists of “Classic petals…delicate infusions of Apple Blossom kissed sweetly by Jasmine, floating upon the breath of truest Living Rose.” The tartness of apples is the first thing that hits me upon applying. Not juicy, ripe apples, nothing to suggest the wetness of fresh fruit, but a clean tartness like green apple skin. Beneath that is the bright rose, every bit as lively and vivacious as the description suggests. It’s not the deep, musky rose used in a lot of perfumes–this rose is fresh, light, crisp. In fact, if not for the mellow sweetness of the jasmine at the base of this blend, the whole blend might be too crisp. I love jasmine and like for it to be the star of any particular fragrance, but in this scent it rightfully takes Best Supporting Role.

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Whenever possible, I buy fragrances in lotion form–it’s usually more affordable and the scent lasts much longer for me when it’s absorbed by my skin. Each Lollia fragrance is available in their Shea Butter Handcreme, a formula that boasts macadamia and avocado oils as well as aloe and shea. It’s rich enough to moisturize my notoriously dry skin but absorbs quickly without leaving any greasy residue. However, it packs a fragrant punch–the scent lingers for a very long time, which I’m not particularly fond of in a hand cream. I tend to use this on my arms and décolletage, where I’d traditionally wear a perfume.

If you’re looking for a delicate floral with slightly fruity leanings, I would suggest looking into In Love. It’s every bit as classically romantic as the name would suggest–maybe a dab this Valentine’s Day is just what it takes to send you into the sweet, swirling mists of falling In Love.

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Reviews

Bobbi Brown’s Pretty Powerful, a book review

Sometimes when you’ve made up your mind to do something, the universe will find ways of providing you with the tools you need. In this case, my resolution to develop signatures received some help in the form of a gift: Bobbi Brown’s latest book, Pretty Powerful.

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While I do love Bobbi Brown’s foundations and concealers, her makeup line is only a fraction of what she has to offer. She’s an industry veteran, still applying makeup at runway shows each year at New York Fashion Week, working magazine cover shoots and charity events while managing a company and a household. To young beauty professionals, she’s a shining example of what we can accomplish when we’re driven and passionate. Along the way, she’s compiled much of her experience and wisdom in books for everyone from teenagers beginning to experiment in beauty to professionals who have all ready begun to work in the industry.

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When I said that I want to work on developing signatures this year, I never thought that I would come home the next day to find a valuable tool on my dining room table. Pretty Powerful is not your typical makeup book: there are plenty of how-to volumes filled with color-by-number face formulas, but Bobbi approaches it from her own place, stressing individual beauty over total perfection. Each time I read one of Bobbi’s books, I’m truly taken by her philosophy that beauty is not a standard, it’s an individualized trait that each and every woman in the world possesses. Makeup exists merely to enhance it. Pretty Powerful is organized by profiles–not beauty profiles, per se, but personality profiles. The task presented to you as the reader is not to decide which of your physical features to emphasize or what colours you look nice in, it’s simply to decide how you feel most comfortable. 

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Each chapter–Pretty Natural, Radiant, Strong, Classic, Authentic, and Bold–begins with a note from Bobbi about how the chapter applies to to her, therefore reminding you that there is plenty of cross-over between profiles. You might identify as Pretty Natural, but adopting traits from the Pretty Radiant or Pretty Authentic chapters could benefit not only your makeup routine but also your lifestyle. Each one contains face charts for day and night with suggestions for colours, finishes, and textures to experiment with as well as numerous before-and-after pictures of women who underwent Bobbi’s Pretty Powerful transformations. The captions beneath each photo offer some info on how the look was created–sometimes the complete opposite the face charts, since even within general types Bobbi respects each model’s individual preferences–as well as notes about what the ladies themselves think make them beautiful. It’s inspiring and wonderful to see so many women embracing traits that might have been rejected under traditional beauty ideals.

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Additionally, each chapter features a celebrity or woman of note who is not only transformed by Bobbi’s makeup team but also contributes a short essay about what they find beautiful, and what led them to their place in life. Some write about childhood notions of what was or was not beautiful–their freckles, their dark eyes, their uncontrollably curly hair–some talk about the people in their lives that encouraged them to be who they are and helped them see what beauty really was. It forces you to examine your own ideals and experiences in order to transform your routine. Whether you’re stuck in a “beauty rut,” as Bobbi discusses at several points during the book, or just looking to experiment with your look, this book includes plenty of points to ponder.

Going through the articles and face charts, it’s impossible not to envision yourself in each category. Some simply don’t fit (I could never call myself “Natural”) and others might seem to apply in bits and pieces (I’ve definitely gone through both “Radiant” and “Classic” periods), but invariably one category will seem most you. Perhaps predictably, most of my cosmetic habits fell under Pretty Bold–my penchant for colour and experimentation, my confident approach to self-expression through cosmetics. While labeling often causes constriction, Bobbi uses each category to encourage readers to explore what makes them feel most beautiful, whether its looking fresh-faced and dewy or wearing bold, neon lipsticks.

Pretty Powerful can be purchased on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, or at independent booksellers. All images above from Barnes & Noble.

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Fashion, Reviews

An Eye for Style: Accessorizing with Firmoo

As an eight-year-old with rapidly-developing near-sightedness, my glasses were part of my identity. I remember the day I picked them out–a pair of giant oblong frames in a purple tortoise-shell finish–considering how they could change people’s perception of me, what they would say about who I was. I wore them day in and day out, content with them and their effect on my image. As a teenager, however, it occurred to me that I changed my clothes every day. I wore different makeup, different shoes, even carried different purses if it suited me. Why should I have to wear the same glasses all the time? Of course, I was oblivious to the exorbitant cost of a pair of glasses. It was expensive enough to change the lenses in one pair each year.

When I was contacted by Firmoo about reviewing a pair of glasses, I had flashbacks to that first time I ever picked out a pair of glasses. My most recent pair was selected more for comfort than style: I experience chronic photophobia and selected the largest, blackest frames I could to reduce the amount of light that came through. However, I find my large frames and tinted lenses to be an obstacle while working. They interfere with my sense of colour and space, which is not acceptable while working with hair and makeup. Firmoo offered me my choice of frames as well as lenses in my prescription in exchange for my honest review.

The task was honestly a little daunting–Firmoo has thousands of frames to choose from. Luckily, you can break down your search easily by materials, colours, shapes, sizes, and any combination thereof. When selecting frames in a doctor’s office, I usually end up trying on a dozen or more pairs before settling on one over another, so I was uncertain how shopping online might turn out. However, if you create an account on Firmoo’s website, you can use their handy “virtual try-on” tool by uploading a photo of yourself, selecting your pupils for accuracy, and allowing the tool to superimpose an image of your frames over your face.

After agonizing over five or six different pairs for what seemed like days, I settled on the frames above: a dainty pair of black-and-lavender plastic, much lighter than what I was used to but still bearing enough black for me to feel like myself. Inputting my prescription information was simple enough, but my doctor did not give me my Pupilary Distance, or PD. This is a measurement taken before fitting a pair of frames and is not usually written on a prescription. Luckily, I did some quick google-fu and found this handy online tool that measures your PD using your webcam a basic credit card for measurement. I did this a few times to get a solid number and came up with a number of 62, a fairly average PD for a normal human being.

My glasses shipped within a week and arrived quickly, along with a sturdy leather case, a cleaning cloth, and a tool to loosen and tighten the screws as necessary. The frames fit perfectly without any adjustments–my last pair needed to be re-molded several times before they sat evenly on the bridge of my nose. My prescription was correct and the lenses were clear. However, like many glasses I’ve had in the past, I did notice a bit of distortion around the periphery. It could be my prescription, it could be the shape of the frames, I’m not sure, but I have had many pairs of glasses in the past that had this same sort of warping around the outermost portion of the lenses. It usually takes me about a week to adjust to it and then it becomes less noticeable. I found the same was true of these glasses. I don’t feel it has anything to do with the quality of the lenses as much as it has to do with the sensitivity of my eyes.

All in all, I am very satisfied with my experience with Firmoo. Even if these glasses had not been free, they would have been well worth the money: the frames with basic lenses would have cost about $8.00 plus shipping–my last pair of glasses cost me over $150 for the frames alone, and lenses were an additional $200. The most expensive pair of frames Firmoo offers is $55.95, which is still far less expensive than what most places ask. If you require more than just basic lenses, that’s fine: for less than $30, your glasses can be made into bifocal or progressive lenses. Prescription sunglasses can be polarized for an additional $20, and for no extra cost you can select your own level of tint.

If you’ve never purchased from Firmoo before, make sure you check out their Free Glasses offer. As a new customer, you can receive a voucher for new glasses when you share your favourite eligible pair through Facebook, Twitter, or email. Even if you have a pair of glasses, this offer allows you to snag a spare pair for backup, or even just a departure from your norm!

Thanks to Firmoo, I have a great, functional addition to my fashion arsenal. Now that I have the option to choose which eyewear I’ll be sporting each day, I wonder how I got by for so many years with just one pair.

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(cross-posted from Bella Cantarella)

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Reviews

Mind Your Mane: Bumble & Bumble’s Color Minded

As a beauty professional, I’m always amazed by the number of people who don’t know what they need. Hair and skin can change over our lifetimes, but for the most part the hair you have now is the hair you’ve worked with for years. I’ve met countless people with fine, straight hair who are heartbroken because they think they have thin hair, or women with gorgeous, thick curls who label themselves with coarse, unmanageable locks. Simply put, most people don’t know what they’re dealing with and therefore don’t know what kind of products they need to be using.

I thought I knew my own hair: it’s on the finer side, but its significant wave pattern can make it look puffy and fizzy at times. But rather than buy products for fine or wavy hair, I often find myself trying to combat the damage I’ve done through years and years of bleaching. Trying to take my naturally near-black hair to a state as close to white as possible has wreaked absolute havoc on its integrity, so I moisturize and reinforce as much as possible. Now that I’ve stopped bleaching, my hair has bounced back almost completely, but I still use my products for fragile, damaged hair daily.

When Klout offered to send me Bumble & Bumble‘s new colour care line, I considered my hair carefully: would stepping away from my protein-infused, deep-moisturizing products spell disaster? I had been curious about Bumble & Bumble for a while–as a prestigious professional brand not sold in my salon supplier, I always wondered about the quality of the line. When the KloutPerks box showed up on my doorstep, I was incredibly glad I took the chance.

I was expecting little foil packets with maybe two good applications of product, but Klout and Bumble & Bumble sent full sizes of not only the new Color Minded shampoo, but also the UV Protective Styling Balm and Polish. The line also has a corresponding conditioner, which was not part of the Klout Perk, but can be purchased at Sephora, Bloomingdale’s, or Bumble & Bumble salons.

The Color Minded Shampoo boasts a sulfate-free formula and gentle-cleansing action, both buzzwords in the current haircare market. According to the bottle itself, it promises clean hair without colour washout or fading while preserving shine. If I had a dime for every shampoo I’ve used that made the same claims, well, I’d probably have enough dimes to buy this product at retail value (that’s 290 dimes, by the way). The ingredients all checked out: aside from the sulfate-free cleansers, it has components to adjust hair’s pH and seal in colour during the washing process. The texture is pleasant and lathers nicely, both chief complaints I hear from people switching to sulfate-free formulas, and the scent is light and clean. When used in my hair, it did not tangle, pull, or leave my hair feeling “squeaky”–all things I’m particularly conscious of before conditioning. I began testing this product after coloring my hair with a demipermanent formula to start with a fresh slate: I noticed that the lather initially took on the orange-pink cast of my colour, but after that first wash the lather remained clear.

I followed the shampoo with conditioners I had on hand since I did not have the corresponding conditioner to test, but used the Color Minded UV Protective Styling Balm as a leave-in conditioner in my clean, damp hair. Formulated with proteins, humectants, and even a few hair-stimulating ingredients, this is a very thick preparation with a texture like sour cream or greek yogurt. A dollop about the side of a nickel is enough to work into my not-quite-bob-length hair.

After blow-drying, I used a pump of the Color Minded UV Protective Polish to seal out environmental damage to my colour and keep my hair shiny. I was taken off-guard by how light this polish was compared to most other silicone-based shine serums: rather than the super-viscous goop that many brands produce, this polish is almost runny by comparison and applied correctly (rubbed between the palms and dispersed into the hair beginning at the ends), it will not weigh down fine strands or look greasy.

The following shows my freshly-coloured hair alongside my hair after about five shampoos (four weeks) using the Color Minded system, first in direct natural light, then indirect.

As you can see, the fading is minimal. Previously, my colour would fade to a shade more pink than red just days after coloring between washing, styling, and simple environmental factors. Even friends and colleagues have noted the difference (and trust me, hairstylists notice every little change in a person’s hair). Honestly, I really wanted to hate these products–since Bumble and Bumble appears to be privately distributed, my only hope of getting them wholesale would be working a Bumble salon–but I can’t. They’re wonderful, well-formulated, and do exactly what they say. I might be able to get professional grade shampoo for less than $7, but I would definitely consider spending the $29 retail for more Color Minded shampoo when I run out. The Styling Balm and Polish each retail at $28, and great for summer styling when the sun noticeably leaches colour.

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Cosmetics, Reviews

Metamorphosis 142.0 – You’re My Obsession, Sephora + Pantone Universe Pt. 1

If you had asked me as a child what colour I liked most, I would have responded, “odden my wooaaaaah dodden.” For those of you that don’t speak nonsense, that would translate roughly to “orange is my faaaaaaavourite colour.” It might have even meant, “I’m obsessed with the colour orange.” I was. As a kid, I wanted everything orange: orange clothes, orange backpack, orange highlighters, orange notebooks, orange ribbons for my hair, heck I wanted orange hair. As I got older, the obsession waned. It was still my favourite colour, along with it’s more grown-up, peachy cousins, but it didn’t factor so heavily into my life. Aside from a brief flirtation with orange streaks in my hair as a teenager, orange sort of fell completely out of my rotation. These days, it’s rare I wear colour at all and when I do it’s some shade of blue or green…

But back in November, I laid eyes upon Pantone’s official 2012 Colour of the Year: Tangerine Tango. Suddenly, my love for bright, vivid, retina-searing orange came rushing back. I wanted an orange purse, orange shoes, orange gloves, orange scarves… but above all, I wanted an orange lipstick.

via Pantone

Unfortunately, it was harder to find these things than Pantone would have you believe: designers might have been all over this shade for 2012, but in late 2011, it was still an elusive beast. That is, until Sephora announced it was teaming up with the iconic colour company to bring us a line inspired by this year’s hottest swatch.

Naturally, I rushed out to purchase the set. I thought long and hard about what to buy, but the Collector’s Edition included a little of everything. And everything is what I wanted.

Under a shiny shield of protective plastic, the set includes the Color of the Year eyeliner in Tangerine Tango Twist, eyeshadow quad, Prisma Chrome blush, blush duo, creme lipstick, and lipgloss.

The Color of the Year eyeliner pencil is packaged in a self-sharpening plastic tube, though the base does come off to reveal a small plastic sharpener to reshape the tip of the liner.

The tip is smooth and the formula is creamy, so it does not pull or snag on the delicate skin of the eyes. I was actually quite impressed with the formula: I expected this to be a bit messy and smear easily, as most of the Sephora-made pencils I’ve tried have, but once set it stays in place amazingly well and lasts a good 12+ hours until I choose to remove it.

You can see that there’s a bit of silver sparkle to this liner, but it does not come off as gritty or flakey in the least. Swatched here over bare skin, I applied the top line thicker and heavier and the bottom line with less pressure.

The Color of the Year Eyeshadow Quad was the one product in this set I would not have purchased on its own. I haven’t been terribly impressed with Sephora’s pressed shadows in the past and I have tons of both orange and neutral shades. However, Sephora’s partner collections are always significantly better quality than their standalone shadows, so I thought I’d take the chance anyway. This is packaged in a sleek, magnetic palette much like the Inglot packaging I love.

Each of the shades in this quad correspond to Pantone colours, which I do find interesting. Clockwise from top left, Sparrow (Pantone #18-1404), Pavement (Pantone #19-3900), Carnelian (Pantone #16-1435), and Scallop Shell (Pantone #12-1010).

Used over a primer, these shadows are actually quite well-pigmented. They’re soft and easy to blend, and with the design of the palette extremely portable. I wouldn’t say these shades are particularly unique, but they are true to the theme of the collection.

The Prisma Chrome formula is fairly new to Sephora, though I admittedly have not tried their Prisma Chrome eyeshadows. It promises a soft, pigmented formula with eye-catching, light-reflecting shades. The Color of the Year collection came with this Prisma Chrome blush in Apricot Brandy (Pantone #17-1540).

For some reason, I expected this to be more of a creme-to-powder consistency, but it reminds me more of a baked powder in texture. I tried first to apply it with my fingers as I would a cream blush, but found that the super-fine powder stuck to my finger tip  and did not transfer well onto my face. That said, when applied with a brush, I get a shimmering wash of colour that lasts all day without transferring or fading in the slightest.

Of the blushes, this is the most orange. It’s a warm coral-orange with a strong gold shimmer. Swatched here heavier towards the top, blended out towards the bottom.

In case that wasn’t enough blush for one set, the Collector’s Edition also contains the Color of the Year Blush Duo. Packaged in the same sleek, magnetic palette as the eyeshadow quad, it consists of two large pans of blush in different finishes.

Desert Flower (Pantone #15-1435), shown here on the left, is a matte finish and appears significantly pinker than Coral (Pantone #16-1539) on the right, which has a gold shimmer.

Desert Rose, applied heavily at the top and blended out towards the bottom, is the lightest, pinkest shade in the set. It definitely leans peachy, but if I saw this shade on its own I wouldn’t consider it “orange.”

Coral is a bright peachy shade with a heavy golden shimmer. I have a few blushes in my collection that are quite similar to this one, but it does have a strong colour payoff that sets it apart.

However, my favourite products in this set by far are the lipstick and lipgloss. In fact, I feel like they deserve their own post. Stay tuned later this week for a full report!

Love you to the Moon and Back,

Luna Valentine

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Cosmetics, Reviews

Metamorphosis 135.0 – Subtle Darkness, Detrivore Cosmetics’ December Collection

Some days, I want to wear something “dark” without actually wearing something dark. Luckily for me (and all those who have ever shared my sentiment), one of my favourite companies recently released an entire collection that fits the bill: Detrivore Cosmetics’ December Collection.

Consisting of three cool and three warm neutrals, these six shadows have become staples in my day-to-day looks. And in the vein of Detrivore’s previous releases, each shade is almost unsettlingly beautiful.

Predatory is described as a “frost pink satin eye shadow filled with white shimmer.” It’s a cool-toned pink with a strong blue-white shimmer, an absolutely perfect base for many eye looks. I’ve found countless uses for this shade, being neither a pink, nor a neutral person. I will admit, this shadow wins extra points for the name.

Topiary is a ” light brown taupe with white shimmer.” The white shimmer gives it almost a blue cast, causing it to lean very cool. To be perfectly honest, I don’t really grasp the taupe-fever that consumes so many makeup addicts, but this is a beautiful colour that lends itself well to many looks.

Mimicry is also described as a “taupe satin eye shadow filled with white shimmer,” though it’s definitely darker and a bit less shimmery than Topiary. It’s also cool-toned, and makes a perfect crease shade when paired with the previous two colours.

Aurum is an appropriately named “light gold satin eye shadow.” It’s a lovely pale yellow-gold, though not metallic. This makes a gorgeous highlight for warmer looks.

Decline is described as a “light orangish yellow satin eyeshadow with gold and orange shimmer,” and reads as a pale orange-brown shade with a satiny finish. This would be beautiful on warmer complexions and stunning during the summer.

Nocturnal is a “brown satin eye shadow filled with white shimmer.” Like Topiary and Mimicry, the white shimmer can appear a bit blue, but Nocturnal is still a very warm brown shade. It reminds me of the shield beetles we have here, which–while not detrivores–I think is oddly appropriate.

These six shades are entirely different from anything else in my collection, and definitely completely different from anything Detrivore has previously released. At this point Detrivore jars fill a large part of my storage drawers, and with Distorria constantly formulating breathtaking new shades, their numbers will only continue to grow. I’ve all ready been eyeing up the newly-relased Graveyard Collection, an array of loose mattes.

Love you to the Moon and Back,

Luna Valentine

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Metamorphosis 131.0 – A Breath of Fresh Air, January Julep

For me, January begins to cold, bleak stretch of late winter that never seems to end. In my Northern East Coast area, it’s bitterly chilly, intensely windy, colourless, barren, and honestly more than a little depressing. I need to find joy in little things–blades of grass that still seem green, little birds nesting in my trees, a shiny new pair of boots… One of the fastest ways to lighten the mood is a pretty new nail polish, and January’s Julep Maven box brought me three of those.

Leah is described as a “vivid and refreshing grass green with a hint of shimmer.” I would describe this as more of a lime-jellybean green, or a granny smith apple-green, though it’s still quite refreshing. In the bottle, there is a sort of silvery blue-green shimmer, but on my nails it looked like more of a creme.

This was swatched two coats over Julep’s Nail Therapy and sealed with Fast Dry Top-Coat. It went on evenly, completely opaque in two coats.

Megan, a “playful and sultry Mediterranean aquamarine shimmer,” was the one I was most excited about. In the bottle, it’s an almost iridescent silvery green-blue. On my nails, the silvery shimmer makes it a steely ocean blue, even a tad frosty.

Swatched here is three coats over Julep Nail Therapy and sealed with Fast Dry Top-Coat. This shade applied a bit more sheer, but was completely opaque on the third coat. Above is indirect sunlight, below is direct sunlight. It can appear bluer or greener depending on the lighting.

I do apologize for the shadows in these pictures: they look like irregularities in the polish itself but really, it’s just shadows.

Julep sent one more polish that I just have not had the opportunity to swatch yet but will be sharing with you soon!

Love you to the Moon and Back,

Luna Valentine

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