Beauty: Scents and Sensibility

When we talk about beauty, the conversation is so often dominated by visual aesthetics. We do, however, exist in a multi-sensory world, so we mustn’t neglect those other senses. Scent is the other obvious one to consider (I won’t event attempt to comment on beautifying what you sound or taste like, whatever that means). As an adult, I’d never really thought about perfume, and it wasn’t until David mentioned that he loved perfume that I looked into it. Approaching a perfume department can be a daunting task, as there are seemingly endless choices, a challenge compounded by the fact you can’t easily choose between them visually as one might a dress or a lipstick. In fact, the main perfumes I’ll talk about here are actually ones given as gifts to me by David but I’ve fallen in love with them.

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The first perfume I got from David was Chanel Chance. It is wonderfully sweet and fresh, evoking an almost nautical feel. A light spritz of this leaves you with a bright, refreshing scent.
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Chanel Coco Mademoiselle was my next scent, a surprisingly different turn from Chance. If a scent can be sexy, this definitely qualifies–it has a luscious, floral quality. Round, warm and inviting. It has become my favourite scent.
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Photos: Angela Potter

Once of the nice perks about buying perfume is all the samples you get. A couple of scents that I’ve been enjoying the samples of are Honey by Marc Jacobs and Valentina by Valentino. Honey actually came as part of a gift pack from Sephora, where I received a mini rollerball perfume and lotion.  I love the rollerball-style, which is a great travel option as it’s easy to pack and apply. It has a wonderful bright, citrus scent. Very refreshing.


The Valentina is a bit sweeter, with hints of jasmine and vanilla. Also a fun choice.



There are a few things to consider when applying perfume. You do want to try to avoid creating a cloying scent cloud that follows you around, but you do want enough scent that it doesn’t immediately dissipate. I prefer applying perfume onto the skin right after showering  (perfume can potentially be damaging to fabrics, so I try to avoid spraying my clothing). While the spritz and walk approach (fabulously immortalized by Phoebe on Friends) is always fun, it can potentially waste a fair bit of perfume. Best to stick with classic application points (e.g., wrist, neck), so used apparently because they emit a fair bit of heat as a result of the blood vessels being closer to the surface of the skin, which helps in the diffusion of scent. Be sure to keep the skin well-moisturized (generally a good thing for independent reasons), as scent adheres better to hydrated skin.

Beauty: On the Go

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With only a few days to go until our trip to Quebec, I’ve already started working on my packing list (full disclosure: it’s a multi-columned, multiple-sheet Excel file. I’m a grad student, what do you expect?). I’m going to make it clear right off the bat that I do not subscribe to the “packing light” philosophy. Unless I’m backpacking where I’ll really feel every extra pound of weight, which I haven’t done since before I met my husband, I pack to be comfortable. I don’t see any reason not to pack what I want to bring! There are of course reasonable limits on how much you can bring (I am not someone who brings 2 checked bags and a full-sized carry-on). But I like to give myself at least a couple of options, particularly if I’m traveling for more than a weekend trip. This applies not only to clothing but also to beauty products. Travel Beauty Supplies1

On this trip, I’m packing:

Along with tweezers, nail clippers, tooth paste and cotton pads (as well as various feminine items and sundries that are not pictured here). I also tend to throw a lipgloss or two in my carry-on. It is a lot of stuff, but it does all neatly fit into my travel case!

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I’m quite enamoured with my travel case by Kloset Etcetera, which I picked up on my most recent trip to Thailand. It’s cheerful and bright and happily holds all of what I need. Everyone is different in what they need to bring along with them when traveling. I’m at my most comfortable when I’ve got my favourite beauty products at hand, but you could certainly travel with a lot less. I’m of the philosophy to not pack just the bare minimum to get by but to pack enough to make you happy and comfortable.

Beauty: Shades of Nude

It’s been a rather neutral week, colourwise, so I thought I’d continue that theme with a face of fairly nude, matte shades, with several new products that I’ve recently added to my regimen.


After moisturizing and priming, I applied (1) Urban Decay’s Naked Skin foundation, which I’ve been trying out recently and think has a lovely luminous quality and fairly good coverage without being too heavy. I set the foundation with (2) Mineral Veil translucent powder and lightly brushed (3) Nars bronzer, just to warm up the skin slightly.


Another fun new product I’ve been trying is (6) Anastasia Beverly Hill’s Dipbrow Pomade, applied in short strokes with an angled brush to define the brows. I like it a bit better than straight eye shadow, not only because it’s water- and smudge-proof but also because you need to use so little product. I applied a bit of (4) Benefit bronzer just under the cheek bones for a bit of definition, with just a touch of (5) Benefit blush on the cheek bones for a bit of colour (using a brush to blend the two together afterwards).


For the eyes, I used Stila’s In the Light palette, first covering the entire lid with a matte ivory shade (Bare). On the center of the lid, I applied a matte beige pink (Bliss) and used a matte light brown to define the crease (Sandstone). Using an angled brush, I layered on the brown shadow (Sandstone) along the lash line. To brighten the eyes, I lined the waterline of the eyes with white liner pencil. Finished up the look with (8) Benefit mascara on both the top and bottom lashes and (9) Nars Satin Lip Pencil over the lips.

Photos: David Potter

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Products used:
Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Ultra Definition Liquid Makeup (color 1); 2 bareMinerals Mineral Veil; 3 Nars bronzer (Laguna); 4 Benefit bronzer (Hoola); 5 Benefit blush (Dandelion); 6 Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade (Ebony); 7 Stila In the Light eyeshadow palette (Bare, Bliss, Sandstone); 8 Benefit They’re Real! Mascara; 9 Nars Satin Lip Pencil (Rikugien); 10 Rimmel Soft Kohl Eyeliner (Pure White)

Beauty: Lip Service

My lips and I have always had a bit of a love-hate relationship. While having fuller lips is often considered a good thing, they can be a bit troublesome to maintain. I’ve always found it difficult to find a lip product that will stay in place and not end up in disintegrating into fabulously unattractive clumps. However, I’ve recently tried a lip regimen that seems to be holding up against this ridiculous winter weather.

1.  Smooth canvas
First things first, in order to avoid weird clumps from dry/dead skin on the lips, lightly exfoliating the lips is key. I’ve taken to using a homemade honey sugar scrub (1 tsp honey mixed with 1 tsp sugar, which you can save and lasts you a fair while). Rub it over the lips gently and rinse off. I’ll usually finish off with a damp washcloth to smooth things out and remove any remaining sugar.


2. Moisturize
Finding a lip balm that actually does its job of retaining moisture in my lips for longer than the time it takes me to put it on and leave the apartment has been a challenge. I’m currently loving Aquaphor, which is actually a healing skin ointment for dry or cracked skin and protecting burns and minor cuts. I apply a light layer, and my lips feel smooth and protected. I’ve definitely tried wearing just Aquaphor for the day, and it had good lasting power (survived my roundtrip to campus in -25 C windchill and a long meeting with my advisor) without disintegrating and clumping up on my lips.


3. Define your canvas
Once you’ve exfoliated and moisturized, you can apply your gloss or lipstick of choice. Today, I’ll be dealing with a bold red lip, as those are often the trickiest to deal with and the same principles apply to other types of lip colour. I will always line my lips when doing a red lip, so that a) the lipstick doesn’t feather, and b) it clearly defines the space you need to apply the lipstick. I often will dab a touch of foundation on the lips before lining to even out the canvas. Take a lip pencil that matches your lip colour (or one that matches your lipstick, if you happen to have it) and line the lips using small, short strokes. To give your lipstick a bit of extra staying power, you can lightly fill in your lips with the pencil.


4. Colour!
Fill in with lipstick (for real precision, use a lip brush), being sure to place colour right up to the liner you’ve drawn.


5. Final touch-ups
I will often go back over the lip line with liner to crisp up the edge or fix any issues. For real lasting power, place a tissue over your lips and take some translucent powder on a brush and brush over top of the tissue. Enough powder will filter through to set the lipstick without leaving it obviously powdered and dry.


6. Liquid lipstick
I’ve typically been partial to traditional tube lipstick, but I finally got around to trying Stila’s Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick. After lining the lips (as above), the applicator makes it quite simple to apply precisely all over the lip. I will say it does have excellent staying power, surviving the Chicago winter winds for at least 4 hours or so. It is perhaps a touch drying, but on a well-moisturized lip prior to application, it doesn’t feel overly dry.


Products used:
Aquaphor Healing Skin Ointment
MAC lip pencil (Ruby Woo)
Maybelline lipstick (Red Revival)
Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick (Beso)

Beauty: Liner Dancing

As you saw in last week’s beauty post, part of my everyday make-up routine involves lining the eyes. I always feel like my eyes look too small without it. There are, of course, a multitude of different ways you can line your eyes, and today I’m going to touch on 3 ways to line eyes using eye shadow.

Black wet shadow

1. Wet eye shadow liner: I’m not a huge fan of liquid liners–I tend to find them difficult to use, and they can often look quite severe. My go-to liner method is wetting an angled brush and dipping it in pressed eye shadow powder. With short strokes, I work the brush along the lash line, starting from the middle and working  to the outer corner and then going from the inner corner and connecting the two lines. I will often wing out the shadow from the outer corner for a very subtle cat eye effect. I will also often just lightly line the outer corner of the bottom lash line.

Black dry shadow

2. Dry eye shadow liner: The alternative to wetting the brush is, of course, leaving it dry. Here, I’ve gone for a slightly smokier look. I first start by layering on the eye shadow with an angled brush along the lash line so it’s suitably pigmented. I’ll then usually soften the edges by going along the edge with shadow using broader strokes. Here, I’ve also lined along the lower lash line with dry shadow to give it a  slightly bolder look.

Purple liner

3. Colour shadow liner: The fun thing about using eye shadow as a liner is that you then potentially have a multitude of fun colours to potentially play with (however many eye shadows you have in your kit)! Most days, I stick to plain ol’ black or brown, but using coloured shadow can be a fun pop, particularly against a more neutral palette of clothing. Here, I’ve used a combination of wet and dry shadow, first lining closely along the lash line with wet shadow and then softening the edge with dry shadow.


Products used: MAC small angled brush; Nars black single eye shadow (Night Breed); Nars purple single eye shadow (Santorini, no longer available. Similar)

Beauty: Everyday Sass

I’ve got to admit that I really do love putting on my face in the morning. I’m definitely not saying everyone needs to wear make-up to look great (I know many a beautiful woman who go completely makeup-less)–it’s all about what makes you feel comfortable and awesome. For me, a bit of make-up always  makes me feel brighter and refreshed! Today, I’m sharing with you my daily make-up routine. You can see, things are by no means flawless (freckles shining through, eyebrows not perfectly groomed, visible pores, etc.), but the fact of the matter is, when I want to get out the door in a timely manner, things aren’t going to be perfect. While the process may seem like it has a lot of component parts, it takes hardly any time at all–about 6.5 minutes (I timed it!).


1. On a clean, well-moisturized face, using a Nars firm bristled round brush, I apply mineral powder foundation evenly all over the face, with gentle circular motions.
2. With a smaller brush, I take additional powder and gently layer it onto problem areas, using a dabbing motion with the brush (rather than a swiping) to achieve better coverage.
3. I then take a bronzer brush and lightly apply bronzer all over the face with broad, circular strokes, being sure to bring it down onto the neck as well.
4. Smiling, I use a blush brush and apply blush to the apples of my cheeks and along my cheek bone, using circular strokes to avoid too streaky a look.
5. After giving my brows a good brush with a brow brush, I’ll take brown-black eye shadow powder on an angled brush and apply it to the brows, using short strokes. I’ll go over the brows again with the brow brush to even things out.
6. For the eyes, I’ll first apply a nude or light-colored shadow all over the lid.

7. I’ll then apply a medium colour (usually a light brown or sometimes a shimmery gold) over the center part of the lid.

8. Next, I’ll apply a darker colour along the crease and outer corner, being careful to blend (even with just my fingertip) so you don’t get any hard edges.
9. I’ll take a light, shimmery colour and just lightly apply it to the inner corner of the eyes to brighten things up a bit.
10. For liner, I actually take a small angled brush and black eye shadow. Using a multitude of short strokes (and dabbing the brush into the shadow frequently), I start from the inner corner and hug the lash line to the outer corner. Then, to get a slightly winged look, I will turn the angled brush and put one (short) fresh stroke from the outer corner in the general direction of the end of your eyebrow.
11. For lips, I will often just use a swipe of gloss. For a bit extra colour and lasting power, I’ve dabbed on lipstick (not swiped), just to get a litle lipstick product on the lips, and then smoothed it out with my finger.
12. To finish things off, I’ll apply a coat of gloss with my fingertip.
13. Swipe some mascara on the eyelashes, wiggling the wand at the base of lashes before swiping upwards.
All done!

Photos: David Potter. Should be noted that I did not re-touch these photos, aside from exposure adjustments, even though I may have wanted to in some cases. :)

Products used: Bare Minerals Original foundation (Fairly Light); Nars Bronzer (Laguna), Nars Blush (Outlaw), Stila shadow on lid and crease (old palette); Nars Eye Shadow (Night Breed); Stila In the Light eye shadow palette (Sandstone/Ebony for brows); Sephora Glossy gloss (Cocktail on the beach); Benefit They’re Real mascara
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