My love affair with lipstick

Lipstick

If you follow me on Instagram, you will have noticed a few pictures of me wearing vibrant lipstick, and today was no exception. My love of lipstick and its part in my makeup routine is one that has been that been tried and tested over 20 years of experimentation. My mom gave me my first tube of lipstick, and it was a soft neutral with brown undertones that didn’t suit her but that she had received for free from The Soapberry Shop (at least, I think that’s what it was called – does anyone else from Sudbury/Espanola remember that bath-goods store that was in the Southridge Mall but WASN’T The Body Shop?), so pretty much by default it was good enough for me.

That complimentary lipstick was passed along with the caveats that I apply it lightly and only wear it occasionally. To my 12-year-old self, it was daring to press the pigment a little harder against my lips and perhaps give them more definition and attention than my mom would have approved of at the time. Luckily, however, she turned out to be pretty open to my eventual shift into wearing a full-blown “face” and I was never told to “take that stuff off.” Granted, I normally favoured neutrals that were complements to my pale skin and red hair, but no matter the period (tween with glasses and braces, teen with insecurities about what looked right, adult – kind of – and 30-something with a makeup routine down pat), I can always remember the lipsticks I had (have) going as my favourites.

For at least a couple years between the approximate ages of 13 and 15, I was faithful to a shade called Cinnamon Stick, and it was made by Bonne Bell, which was the first brand of makeup I ever bought with my own money. Mainly, this was for two reasons: Espanola didn’t have a lot of choice and Bonne Bell fell into exactly the right price point for a Sudbury Star after-school newspaper carrier. Cinnamon Stick was the colour I wore to my Grade 8 graduation, and because of that it will always be special to me.

By the end of my years-long Bonne Bell phase, I had a lot of those black containers of makeup on my vanity before I started to branch out into more expensive brands like L’Oreal and, eventually, Clinique (the reason for expansion was because trips to Sudbury – and therefore variety – became more frequent in direct proportion to how often someone in my circle of friends got their driver’s licence). What this meant for me was more access to Walmart’s pharmacy and beauty section and the Sears makeup counter.

From these many trips of giddy, laughing teenage girls came the L’Oreal lipstick I ended up loving for years. It came in a muted gold tube and had a very distinct smell that I would know in an instant if I ever came across it again. During this time that carried me into my early 20s, I also became equally enamoured with a Clinique colour – a perfect berry-pink called Surprise that Susie and I kept in our makeup bags until it literally ran out; the shade was (sadly!) discontinued. Ah, that tell-tale mint-green tube!

Somewhere along the line, as I expanded my (literal) horizons, I delved into the wonderful world that is MAC makeup, and I still wear a red lipstick from their line that is called Amplified and that most definitely lives up to its name. I have a couple other MAC lipstick tubes in my rotation, but my absolute favourite brand of the past two years is – hands-down – L’Oreal’s Infallible lipstick, which is what I have on in the picture above (Forever Fuschia). The staying power of this stuff is amazing (the colour fades slightly but the pigment lasts ALL DAY), and because I use Blistex Lip Conditioner underneath all of my lipstick applications, I also keep a hint of shine that isn’t sticky-looking. Back when Clinique’s Surprise was the lipstick of choice, Susie and I also used to obsessively buy and apply a clear lipstick sealer (Wet ‘N’ Wild, I think…?) to help make the colour last as long as our nights did (and sometimes that was very, very late), but Infallible lipsticks don’t need anything but the magical formulation that lives inside those silver casings. Me likey.

To be honest, I RARELY leave the house without at least a little (or a lot) of lipstick on, and because of this I have come to realize the old adage is true – women do turn into their mothers; I can’t count the amount of times I have heard my mom say, “Wait now, let me get my lipstick on!” before being ushered out of the house, getting out of the car, leaving a restaurant, etc…and now that’s me!

You have to give it to me, though – I have at least improved my technique as the years have gone by…

lipstick2

Surprise!!

Oops, my braid fell off…and along with it came all the heavy weight that has been growing over my shoulders and down my back for three years. THREE YEARS. Ahhhhh, so free! I admit it was strange getting my braid chopped off, and even my hair stylist was hesitant – “Are you sure you really want to do this?” – but I was definitely ready for this to happen.

Props to me: I didn’t sit in the chair and demand for Jay Manuel to come over and console me while I cried into my new extensions; instead, I squealed with delight once my hair was officially cut. And now, of course, I can send it off to my charity of choice, which is A Child’s Voice Foundation’s Angel Hair for Kids program.

Final proof that my haircut was a good decision: Darcy greeted me at home with a compliment and a hug!

Before…

…and after!

Lagging behind

I have been struggling to keep up with my Photo a Day tweets (@defactoredhead), and this week I posted four in one day. I just kind of…forget. Today there will be three tweets going up, and two of them I am going to blog about here just because this girl be crazy like that. Day 23′s theme was “your shoes,” and I thought I would give you another peek inside my closet. Again, it’s nothing glamorous: I keep my shoes in an IKEA DILLING underbed storage box on the floor of my closet and the space looks like a nightmare. This picture sums up everything I hate about shoe storage but can’t seem to fix. (Obvious solution: buy less. Obvious reply: No.)

Scary!

Completely unrelated is Day 24′s “inside your bathroom cabinet.” My side of the medicine cabinet looks like a sketchy mess of half-used items, samples, and testers, but I can honestly say I put everything in there to good use. Anyway, doesn’t everyone know that it’s only nerds and squares who keep their bathroom cabinets neat?

Items I use every day: Nivea eye-makeup remover (I’ve had this in my “kit” for about 10 years, and – bonus – it goes on sale a lot at Shoppers Drug Mart); GUM Eez-Thru dental floss (it’s the best floss!); toothbrush (always soft-bristled); Eucerin Replenishing Face Creme (I flip-flop between this and Olay’s Total Effects Fragrance-Free Daily Moisturizer); Clean & Clear Persa Gel 5 (another relationship that’s been going on 10 years); Blistex Lip Conditioner Medicated Sunscreen Lip Protectant (this pulls double-duty as a great gloss and also lasts for the duration of a run); deodorant (I’m not loyal to any particular brand); and perfume (I have a lot and wear a different scent every day). Do you also use some of these same products?

Lipstick jungle

Shoes, Aldo; tights, gift; dress, KensieGirl; blazer, Urban Outfitters; necklace, Stella & Dot, gift from Candice, earrings, Le Chateau; brooch, gift.

The past few days I have been wearing the same lipstick and I think it’s quite obvious that it’s becoming my new favourite shade! It’s L’Oreal Infallible Bold  Bordeaux (#741), and while it’s not a super-long-lasting shade in terms of ultra all-day wear, the residual stain of the berry colour stays on my lips for hours of talking, laughing, and drinking tea and water at work. I am constantly looking for a shade that rivals a universally outfit-flattering Clinique colour that Susie and I coveted during our early 20s (I think it was called Surprise; it was discontinued). For me, Bold Bordeaux comes close. It’s not nude, but it’s not a striking red, either, which makes it the perfect everyday shade for a pale girl like me!

What are your favourite lipsticks and shades?

Prize-winning contest-entering ability

Behold, my latest prize!  (Before I go any further, you should know that I enter contests – a lot.) On that note, getting a notification that I have won something – anything – is truly one of my life’s little thrills. I saw the e-mail from Fashion magazine in my inbox and my heart leapt – I won, I really, really won! This Olay Regenerist prize pack is not the first thing I have ever won – if memory serves me correctly, I think that honour goes to one of those “fashionable” mini backpacks that were all the rage circa 1994. I entered the contest for it at my local IDA drugstore, and, believe you me, I was the height of urbanity with it on. Um, no, probably not. A few years later, at about the same age I was when I won the backpack, my brother won a $500 stereo from Radio Shack. Mini backpack, stereo. You say potato, I say pototoe. Yeah.

All right, moving on, I do admit that I have won some great things throughout the years: Anna Sui sunglasses, a Rimmel makeup prize pack, movie passes, a Roots prize pack…but none of that compares to the big win my mom had a few years ago: a full appliance set of a stove, dishwasher, refrigerator, and microwave! My family likes contests.

And so, it is with a flourish that I present to you, sweet ladies and fine gentlemen, innocent children and beasts of burden under the Big Top, my $110 Olay Regenerist prize pack. The products featured above, from left to right, are:

Olay Regenerist Daily Regenerating Cleanser

Olay Regenerist  Micro-Sculpting Cream

Olay Regenerist Eye Lifting Serum (they gave me two of these!)

Olay Regenerist Eye Anti-Aging Roller

Has anyone else out there tried these products? I used the “Micro-Sculpting Cream” this morning and while it’s much too early to tell if it makes me look like a young girl of five years old, I have to say I like the smell of it. Now, what does an actual pro have to say about these products? As taken directly from Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me, 7th Edition, by Paula Begoun (this link brings you to the 8th Edition):

Olay Regenerist Daily Regenerating Cleanser is a cleanser/scrub hybrid, and the lotion base allows the polethylene beads to exfoliate without being too abrasive. It’s an OK cleansing scrub for normal to dry skin, but no product can detoxify skin (exactly what toxins are we talking about anyway? and how is this measured?), especially one that is rinsed off shortly after application.

Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream purports to be the result of 50 years of Olay research, so you’d expect this to be a breathtakingly unique formula. It’s not, and in fact it’s very similar to all of the other Regenerist moisturizers and serums (I can’t imagine what Olay was doing for 50 years, because if this is all they came up with, that would not be something to brag about). Increasing hydration can make skin cells plump, but that doesn’t restore volume to a face that is sagging due to the complex process of aging. In other words, despite the name, this is not a face-lift in a jar. Actually, the jar packaging does a disservice to the range of antioxidants in this product (it does contain more antioxidants than many Olay products). That leaves you with a decent lightweight moisturizer for normal to slightly dry skin.

Olay Regenerist Eye Lifting Serum is every bit as state-of-the-art as Olay’s other Regenerist products. In fact, Eye Lifting Serum differs little from Olay’s Regenerist Daily Regenerating Serum, Fragrance Free, which provides three times as much product for the same price. Both of these products contain silicones, glycerin, niacinamide (which can increase skin’s ceramide and free fatty acid content, among other benefits), several water-binding agents, antioxidants, and anti-irritants. You really can’t go wrong with most of the Regenerist serums or moisturizers as long as you keep your expectations realistic. In other words, Olay’s claim that these products are able to provide “dramatically younger-looking skin without surgery” is stretching the truth – plastic surgeons have not seen a decrease in new patients since the Regenerist line came on the beauty scene. But the fact remains that this fragrance-free moisturizer is an excellent option for use around the eyes or anywhere on the face. In contrast to the Daily Regenerating Serum mentioned above, this product contains mineral pigments (including mica) that impart a soft, reflective shimmer to skin. To a slight degree, this can help make dark circles under the eye look less obvious, but the effect is strictly cosmetic.

Olay Regenerist Eye Anti-Aging Roller: *no review on this product in the 7th Edition. Does anyone out there have the 8th Edition yet, who can weigh in on this? I really need to get that 8th Edition!!*

And there we have it. Based on those reviews, is there any doubt left as to why you need to buy Paula’s book? Fair, honest, informative. Even if you have the most basic skincare/makeup routine, there is going to be something in her book that will prove helpful to you. I trust her advice so much that if she would have given a completely negative review to one of the Olay products I won, I wouldn’t have used it, even though it was free. And, as you know by now, for me that’s saying a lot.

Showing some skin

Because I have been working so much and so late for the past week, and the boyfriend (my photographer!) has been in the middle of mid-terms, not much outfit picture-taking has gone on. I have a pile of clothes and jewelry on my desk chair that stares at me with forlorn eyes, waiting for me to recreate for the camera some of my looks from the past few days. Hark! Thursday marks the end of my insane work schedule, so soon, my little friends, soon!

In the meantime, though, I am going to let everyone in on my latest skincare routine/product selection because in the last two months I have started using some new products and am impressed with their ability to keep my skin under control. Which, for me, is saying a lot because this has been an ongoing quest since I was about 16 years old. First of all, my skin is, at age 27, in my 28th year of life, dry. Dry, dry. dry. It used to be oily in the T-zone and normal but prone to breakouts on my cheeks, and blotting papers were a must-have in my purse, but those days are no more. I used my last blotting paper about two weeks ago from a package I bought I-can’t-even-remember-when, and the only reason I used it was just to freshen up my face because I hadn’t touched up my makeup all day and my face looked wilted and gross. Anyway, I’m not buying any more papers, and that’s final!

Dryness isn’t my only current skin problem. Each month I usually break out with about three or four pimples that all seem to appear at once. And, for as long as I can remember, I have had tiny whiteheads around my chin that never seem to go away no matter how much I squeeze them. That might seem like too much information to some of you, but if I’m giving you a review of my skincare routine, I should be honest about what type of skin I have and what the products are doing to help it, right?

Back to the squeezing. I have a horrible, dirty habit of picking, squeezing and touching my face when it is NOT NECESSARY. I’m sure this contributes to most of the ugly, angry pimples I do get. Why I can’t I just leave well enough alone? It is really more attractive to have a scabbed-up remnant of a pimple that no foundation or concealer can possibly cover adequately? And then deal with the red mark that sticks around forever on my pale-face skin? Apparently it is, because these scabbed-up remnants make semi-regular appearances on my face. Lovely, isn’t it? In more appealing information, I also love to attack the blackheads that like to live on my nose. They’re not that dark and noticeable, but I still feel the need to kill them by the most aggressive means possible. The result of all this is too much time spent in the bathroom before bed, and then feeling embarrassed coming to bed and letting the boyfriend see my red, splotchy, and picked-at face because I’m pretty sure he’s thinking, “Man alive! I know Carla went into the bathroom, so who is THIS?!” Ew.

Now, that being said, I have been trying to pick and squeeze less lately because: 1) there is not a lot to pick or squeeze right now; and 2) this is because my new skincare routine/products seem to be working wonders and even keeping the pimples/whiteheads/blackheads away. Believe me, I know this to be true after searching my face for 20 minutes about an inch from the mirror each night, looking for something, anything!!!

I should also mention that about eight years ago I was introduced to the book Don’t Go To The Cosmetics Counter Without Me by Paula Begoun. A fellow summer camp counsellor who was pale and red-headed like me swore by Paula’s recommendations for skincare, so first I borrowed her copy and then ran to the store to buy my own. I was hooked! Paula is now in her eighth edition of this book, and in it she reviews almost every skincare and makeup product on the market today. Every brand from Wet ‘N Wild and Cover Girl to Chanel and La Mer are reviewed, and through three editions of this book, I have never seen a bias toward any particular price point or brand. Paula is completely honest about her findings (at least. I think so) and rates each product as horrible, so-so, great, or fantastic (Paula’s Picks). She also has lists that run down her top products in everything from face cleansers to skin-lightening creams. AND, she splits each of these groups according to price range (under $15, over $15, etc.). The one and only pitfall of Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me is the fact that it’s American and sometimes lists certain products that Canadians can’t get (easily, anyway). All prices are also in US dollars.

Since moving to Edmonton I became loyal to Paula’s brand, Paula’s Choice, but before Christmas, I decided it was too expensive to have shipped from the U.S., what with the exchange and brokerage fee, so I scaled back on the products I was using, as well as what I bought from Paula’s Choice, in an attempt to streamline my spending and curb the abuse on my face.

For a long time, every morning, I would use a toner, pimple cream, a BHA exfoliant cream, moisturizer, sunscreen, and then all my makeup, an eye cream at night, plus an exfoliant and mask used intermittently during the week. Product overload! After all my complaining about my skin problems, the boyfriend pointed out to me that men don’t use much at all (to quote: “sometimes I use a bar of soap”), and lo and behold, the boyfriend has great skin. So, the new pared-down and cheaper line-up is:

  • Dove Cool Moisture Foaming Facial Cleanser for Normal to Combination Skin
  • Neutrogena Pore Refining Cleanser
  • Nivea Visage Eye Make-up Remover
  • Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Toner for Normal to Very Dry Skin
  • Oxy Acne Vanishing Treatment Benzoyl Peroxide Lotion
  • Olay Total Effects 7-in-1 Anti-Aging Daily Moisturizer
  • Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Hydrating Treatment Mask for Normal to Very Dry Skin

I worry that getting into the details of how often I use each product might be a tad tedious at this point in the post, but I suppose if you have read this far, you must be interested. So, here it goes:

Morning: Toner (because washing my face now as well as at night dries it out); Oxy on forehead and cheeks (I avoid the nose and chin because this particular cream is drying and those are my ultimate dry areas); Olay all over face (only problem with Olay is that the container is rather small and needs to be replaced about every month).

Night: Dove face wash (great because it’s cheap, you don’t need a lot to create a lather and get your makeup off, and it’s in a big tube); eye makeup remover if needed (don’t want to pull too much on that delicate skin around the eyes!); Oxy and Olay on same areas as morning.

Twice weekly: Neutrogena cleanser for exfoliating purposes (there are tiny microbeads in this cleanser. I always used to buy exfoliants with rough pieces in them because I felt like they got the job done better, but perhaps I should have been using a gentler formula like this all along! Note: this product stings the eyes, so avoid that area.).

Once a week: Paula’s Choice mask (goes on clear and I can walk around without looking like, well, like I have a mask on my face. Don’t leave it on overnight, though, as a friend of mine and I both did that, thinking it would help with the dryness, but it only ended up causing a breakout for each of us.).

For sun protection I rely on the SPF 15 in my foundation.

All the products above are Paula Begoun-approved, and as of the last two months, De Facto Redhead-approved. If you want to know more about anything to do with these products, like their prices, where I buy them, or what Paula has to say about them, please leave me a comment - I would love to hear from you!

Chopped it off!

Showing off the hair

I whited-out these pictures so my hair was the focal point, but if you’re curious, my jeans are from Forever 21 and my top is from Smart Set.

Ta-da! I got a haircut and I love it. I haven’t had my hair cut since last December 23, so it was really long, heavy, and an annoyance every day. Will I wait another year before my next cut? I just might because my hair stylist made a good point yesterday when she said I should grow it out a few more months than I did this time and then donate it. She figures she cut off about five inches or so, and even though the minimum for hair donations is supposed to be eight inches, whoever takes the hair isn’t likely to quibble over seven inches, give or take.

I know I don’t have a “before” picture here, and to be honest, it’s not here because, to be blunt, I was hung over yesterday and I forgot to take one. But, for an idea as to how long my hair was, you can look at my “Moving ahead a decade” post. Now, why was I hung over? DN and I went upstairs in our apartment building on Friday night to visit with friends before they went on Christmas vacation, and, well, “visit” is just really an ill-disguised euphemism for drinking. What I haven’t mentioned yet is that Saturday morning was my rescheduled Santa Shuffle run. “It’s just a 5K, I can do it with a little leftover wine in me …” Or can I? That wine also told me I was rich, beautiful, and could rule the world. Let’s consider the following events of Friday night: I ate almost an entire full-size bag of Doritos all by myself; I consumed an unknown amount of Smartfood popcorn; I drank a bottle (maybe a bit more) of red wine; DN and I came home at 2 a.m.; I gorged on bake-sale goods from Friday afternoon’s event at work; and I went to bed anywhere between 3 and 3:30 a.m (that part is a bit fuzzy). Whoops! Time for my alarm to go off at 8:30 a.m. for my run at 10. I did wake up sometime between 3ish and 8:30 with a mouth that felt like it was stuffed with cotton balls and I then proceeded to down an entire glass of water, but how could it possibly be 8:30 already? Ughhhhhhhhh.

Even though I was getting the shakes craving something junky for breakfast, I forced myself to eat a kiwi and a bowl of oatmeal that felt like glue being poured down my throat, but what the hey! Let’s run! DN and I arrived at the Santa Shuffle and I felt pretty chipper. Off I went to the pounding beats of my MP3 player. The race was two laps around a 2.5-km trail, and it had snowed heavily the night before so the course was “delightfully” snowy. This was the least of my concerns. I was finished about a quarter of the course when I started to feel not as chipper as before. I was displaying the classic post-alcohol-binge rise-and-fall symptoms that fool you into thinking you feel pretty good, but then fairly soon afterward you realize your body was playing cruel, cruel tricks on you.

Nothing I could do about it now – was I really going to quit  a 5K? Let out a piercing whistle so DN knew from afar to hightail it to the car, rev it up, and meet me by the park gate when I staggered by so I could jump in and get the hell out of there? As much I wanted this to happen, it didn’t, and I finished the race. I honestly thought I was going to get sick with about 200 metres left to go. I was breathing oddly, so with a little less self-control, or maybe another glass of wine the night before, the scene at the finish line suddenly would have held a lot of potential for public embarrassment.

When I crossed the finish line and found DN, he told me I was “slow, eh?”, I gave him the death stare, and then we left without so much as even grabbing a free hot chocolate. I felt perkier after having a shower, and even better as the day went on and my hair appointment drew closer. And, we’re back to ta-da!, where this whole post started. If there are any readers out there in Edmonton and you like my haircut, my appointment was at Eveline Charles in the West Edmonton Mall and my hair stylist is Shirin. She’s amazing  and really listens to what you want, working through the entire cut with you. Thanks, Shirin!