Abandoned Blogs = The Worst {and a Whirlwind 2018}

Yes, as the title says, this blog has been beyond abandoned.  I AM SO SORRY!  There is nothing I hate more than logging on to a website hoping to delve into a blog and boom, it’s not been updated in a year.  That’s kind of what this blog is now isn’t it?  Again, I’m so sorry, and I’ll be back more frequently.  I PROMISE.

At the very least, I have a good set of excuses for my absence: the past year has been a whirlwind and my life has changed completely.  For the best, don’t worry!

In June of last year, my bf moved in with me  and I took on a new, more senior and time intensive role at my day job – nothing bad, mind you, but space was limited and I had lots more to take care of on the home and work fronts – so, naturally, this side hustle kind of blog and freelance job had to take a back burner.  We got the most beautiful Frenchie in  the world shortly thereafter, and becoming a dog mom isn’t for the weak {real human moms, my hat’s off to you!}. She’s the light of our life and I wouldn’t change a thing!

EngagementSept2018-11{if you’re a dog nut like me, go follow her:  @marlowethefrenchie}.

Life was busy, to say the least, and got even busier following a surprise proposal from my bf in November of 2017.  We weren’t the only ones in our family with big changes in our lives, so nearly every weekend since then has been taken up with a family event of some sort….and when we weren’t attending family stuff or planning a wedding or working, we decided it would be best to buy into Toronto real estate and move to a much larger condo, albeit down the street from where we were currently living.  A few hiccups with the sale of my space later, we’re here in a huge space overlooking the lake and I wouldn’t change that either.

I’ve been crazy busy with weekend weddings, including a special one in wine country where I was able to test some new stuff and I’ll share my thoughts in forthcoming posts, I promise!

All of that said, and as even more happy and full my life is now, I’ve really missed my creative outlet via this website and my clients, so I’m happy to be back.  2019 will be better, and I’m really looking forward to what’s to come for this blog and LnL Toronto!

 

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I don’t know about you guys, but before I buy almost everything – beauty products are no exception – I read reviews.  I want to know if it’s all it’s hyped up to be, if it’s worth my hard earned cash, and if I’ll even enjoy the product I’m purchasing.  When reviews.com reached out to me, my interest was certainly piqued.   I like to make my life easier whenever possible, so I’m passing on this site link to you!

 

This site isn’t entirely new from what I understand, though I’ve only recently discovered it in 2017.  I was thoroughly impressed with the breadth of reviews, ranging from credit card reviews, to yoga mat reviews, to reviews of mortgage companies and natural deodorants.  There’s even reviews of MBA programs.  Talk about covering off subjects you can’t find anywhere else!

 

The thing I noticed most was the detail put into the reviews; a much appreciated feature.  The site purports to use real people to test selected products where possible, and in reading some of the reviews myself, I believe them.  I think each review is great – it succinctly summarizes the top products, why they’re the best of the best, and the rating criteria used for their conclusions.  The reviews are thorough and seem to cover a vast array of questions that a general consumer might have when shopping for something so seemingly innocuous as a new computer password manager, a refreshing change from some of the incoherent, ill-worded reviews below Amazon product listings!

 

All in all, I found this site to be really useful and I’ll continue to consult it whenever I’m thinking of making a change to a more holistic beauty approach or when I’m in the market for my next standing desk mat!

 

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Random Ramblings: Podcast Spotlight

This post is something a little different.  As you all know, I’m into getting to know you guys just as much as I want you to get to know me.  With that, by default I’d say, comes some lifestyle posts that might be about me, things I love, or things I’ve really been into.  I think I was fairly late to the game with Podcasts.  I’ve only really gotten into them in the last year or so out of necessity; my 9-5 job requires I sit at a desk and do a lot of analysis most of the time, so to keep myself from going completely nutty, I like to have something playing in the background {or headphones}.

 

I’m completely hooked – I could even see myself listening to a Podcast on a long ride, which says a lot when music often wins {country, if you’re curious} as a preference when I’m on the road – they’re, for now at least, an at-desk staple and a gym go-to when I’m tired of my same ol’ playlist.  There’s not one particular genre I’m drawn to, though I find there’s truly something for everyone, and I’m able to keep all nerdy facets of my personality satiated with various other nerds who’ve taken one for the nerd-team and created a syndicated Podcast for us to feast our nerd hearts on.  You’ll find out a little more about me and my psychological obsession with serial killers {don’t be afraid, it’s the psychology of it, not the actions I’m fascinated with} once you see the list!

 

Here’s a list of what I’m listening to lately – and a few notes about my absolute go to Podcasts you’ve got to try:

 

SWORD AND SCALE  {True Crime}

Mike Boudet {the host} doesn’t post nearly often enough – Mike, if you’re listening, hop to it!  But when he does, he perfectly narrates often obscure stories of true crime across the USA and sometimes the world.  I like his presentation of the story, and the occasional use of experts from the trial or those closesly affiliated with the case.  There’s little commentary abou thte case or speculation of sorts, just the straight story and I really appreciate that.

 

48 HOURS {True Crime}

Yep, this is just the tv show in a Podcast.  Brilliant!  I don’t know why more tv shows don’t do this.  I don’t feel like I’m missing anything when there’s what would be personal interviews with those closely affiliated with the case, and can easily connect the whole story in the often too short 45 minute Podcast.

 

THE GENERATION WHY PODCAST {True Crime}

Are you sensing a theme here?  Anyway, this Podcast takes the form of a commentary about cases and so it’s unique to hear varying perspectives regarding a set of circumstances or a particular case wherein the fate of the perpetrator is often long decided by jury trial.  If the case happens to be solved in some capacity and there may be reason to believe justice has not been served,  these guys present some serious food for thought and present a unique set of ideas around a case.  Their hypothesis are well researched, not just ‘out there’ ideas about what may or may not have transpired.

 

TRUE CRIME GARAGE {True Crime}

Here’s another pair I really like.  Their way of presenting is different from Gen Y, and I truly enjoy the way the Captain and Nick discuss cases.  Often, there’s a few parts to a series, so they certainly spare no expense here.  Cases are often focused within the US, so I’d like to see more Canadian cases {of course}, but it’s always an interesting listen and they, too, have well researched hypothesis when the situation presents itself.

 

MO’ MONEY PODCAST {Personal Finance}

Shoutout to my fellow Canadian {and Torontonian} Jessica Moorehouse.  This is a fairly new Podcast, started within the last year, but Ms. Moorehouse has accumulated quite a following of listeners, well-merited, of course.  She discusses everything from budgeting, to getting out of debt, to making a side hustle work for you.  I find her to be an engaging speaker, presenting topics that are varied and well suited to the millennial generation.

 

THE DAVE RAMSEY SHOW {Personal Finance}

Are we seeing a theme here?  Yep.  No shame in my nerd game.  I often appreciate all things personal finance, especially when they’re a no-nonsense, common sense based approach.  Dave Ramsey is all those things.  While religion tends to underpin a lot of what he ‘preaches’ {if that’s yo thing, that’s cool too}, the basics of what he teaches and the advice on his radio show can be applied to just about anything in your daily life, personal finance or otherwise.  His advice is very grass roots –don’t spend out of your means, save a little, don’t owe anyone money – and everyone really should take a little more heed to what he espouses.  I like hearing the debt free stories featured at the end of {most} of his Pods, I could do without the loud screams, but instead focus on the how and the why behind the stories.

 


 

These are just a few of my faves.  I’m always looking for new ones, so what have you been listening to lately?

 

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Sephora VIB Spring Sale Wishlist

Spring.  It brings so many happy things after a long Canadian winter: warmer weather, pedicures, green grass and bright sunshine to name a few, but most importantly, the Sephora VIB Spring Sale.  It’s been confirmed, April 18-24th brings about 15% off for all VIB members {Rouge gets a head start April 18th, at least I get something for my over-spending..}, via the code ROUGESPRING {VIBSPRING – for regular VIB members/borderline over spenders, BISPRING – for Beauty Insiders/reasonable spenders}.  The code can be used multiple times throughout the sale.

I’ve put together a wishlist of a few things I’ve been lusting after.  I’m trying to curb spending on makeup as much as possible, but like any good beauty junkie, I’m not doing very well.  I can’t guarantee I’ll buy all of this.  Granted, it’s not a hefty list and won’t break the bank, so I’m not really 100% decided {bonus points for any rationalization of beauty product purchases…comment below if y’all are in the club with me}.  I thought you’d all like a sneak peak at just what I’m thinking I’ll buy April 18th.

 

Benefit’s Goof Proof Pencil – I’ve seen a number of people rave about this product and I’m willing to be a convert from the Anastasia camp.  I can rationalize giving this a try with a little discount, no?  I think I’ll be in the shade Medium.

 

tarte Fake Awake eyeliner – Tiffany D from Makeup By Tiffany D raved about this product; I have been a loyal viewer for years, and trust her opinions.  I often line my waterline with a darker liner appreciating the look it gives of fuller bottom lashes and with the right tone can really make my greenish/brown eyes pop.  I’m interested to see if the opposite will open my eyes and give a different sort of a pop to my overall look.

 

NARS Madly blush – This looks like it might be a bit light for my skintone, but I’ll give it a try.  I’ve seen a few YouTubers give it a rave review, so I’m willing to order it knowing I can return to Sephora if it doesn’t work {I try not to do this, generally, since they can’t re-sell used product}. Have any of you used this on a more olive skintone?

 

Too Faced Love Light Prismatic Highlighter – This isn’t a product I’ve heard any particular buzz about, but rather, I’m on the hunt for a rose gold highlighter and this one just found it’s way into my cart like it was meant to be!  I did a quick web search and can’t really find any reviews.  I’ll give this a sort of a ‘blind’ shot, though, because Too Faced generally always hits

 

Anastasia Modern Renaissance palette – My current collection really lacks any Anastasia products beyond her collection-staple Brow Whiz and Dipbrow Pomade really.  I heard nothing but rave reviews about the Anastasia x Mario palette, but missed the boat on that one {still hitting myself for not purchasing} so this comes in a close second from what I’ve read.  It has some seriously beautiful shades that I’d use daily – namely the golds and browns – and I’ve been meaning to add a pop of pink for spring to my look so this palette fits that bill just right too.  I also like the mix of shimmer and matte.  I have a really good feeling about this one!

 

There you have it.  This makeup junkie is ready – well ahead of time – to pull the trigger on some much needed new beauty bits.

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shop this post

Benefit Goof Proof Brow Pencil | tarte Fake Awake Eyeliner | NARS Madly Blush | Too Faced Love Light Prismatic Highlighter in Ray of Light | Anastasia Modern Renaissance palette

 

 

The Real Worth of Beauty

To quote one of my favourite movies {don’t judge}, Confessions of a Shopaholic, “cost and worth are two very different things”.  I’ve most recently made the sort of resolution, if you will, to save a little more money.  Who doesn’t want to save a little more money?  I guess I’m not unique in my resolve, however for me it was going to take a few adjustments; I’m a pretty frugally minded person as it is, and tend to operate on a budget, set money aside for retirement, and closely monitor my discretionary spending.   In doing so, I was able to discover that there really are some things – beauty wise – that are worth their cost to me and I thought I’d share.

costworth1

When initially starting on this journey, I made the commitment to myself that I would reign in my spending on miscellaneous beauty products and do my best to “shop my stash” or use up what I have on hand before purchasing an alternative.  “But you’re a beauty blogger!” you say.  Yes, that I am.  I am starting well ahead of the curve, though, and have lots on hand to test and choose from.  Besides, that whole discretionary spending I noted above, that includes the occasional beauty product splurge.   What it didn’t include, though, were things like getting my nails done.

Call me superficial, call me what you want, but I’ve had my nails done in some capacity {mainly a gel French manicure – formerly white tips, but these have been replaced, thankfully} since I was 14.  If math isn’t your strong suit, I’ll save you the trouble: that’s a long time.  So, I decided that it was an expense I could do without, give myself a manicure, and look just as good as I did before.  Off I went for my regularly scheduled nail appointment and proudly announced to my beloved nail tech that I would like to take my nails off; I’m turning over a new leaf for 2017.  He made a face and simply said “are you sure?”  I proudly said that yes, I wasn’t wavering and I’m sure this is what I want to do.  Off they went.  I left that day feeling almost, well, naked, for lack of a better term, without my nails on.

Never one to turn down a challenge, I decided to do the best with what I had, painting my nails on my own with a light pink and a gel topcoat – practical, understated, and would keep me from biting my nails.  More than appropriate for my day to day corporate job, and the price was right. Well, that lasted a day.  Evidently, I’m far better at my day and night jobs, neither of which include manicures.  The nails chipped, I started picking off the polish, and within a few short days I was back to my 13 year old self, all nervous and weird, biting my nails down to the quick sometimes drawing blood.  Gross?  Yep.  Gross.  I was constantly hiding my hands from people, ashamed to show them the bloodied nails with cuticles.

 


 

It’s hard to explain.  Without my normal French manicure and gel overlay, I felt naked and vulnerable in some small capacity.  I don’t know what it means.  Does it mean I’m superficial?  Maybe.  Does it mean I tend to let my appearance greatly impact how I feel internally?  Yes, I’d say so.  The most important question and seemingly the easiest answer, though it took me a few months to realize, was this: is this a worthy expense to impact my overall spirits on a day to day basis?  Yes.  Absolutely.

It became clear to me that this was something I needed to make room for in my discretionary spending.  I needed to have my nails done and pretty hands.  It wasn’t just something that looked nice, but instead, I soon realized that it forced me to take some time for myself, a break I wouldn’t otherwise take.  You see, I not only run a freelance beauty operation, but often work 8 or 9 hour days in corporate Canada, at a job that demands a lot of me mentally, with little time for outside breaks.  I then go home, hit the gym or have a meeting for a volunteer position I hold, cook dinner, go to bed, and prepare to do it all over again in less than 24 hours.  Getting my nails done allows me to be pampered for a short hour, carve time out in my schedule for me and only me, and when I’m at work, I’m not hiding my hands; it’s almost like my nails became some weird extension of myself.  Strange, I know.

Am I entirely weird?  Is there something that’s worth just more than a face dollar value for you – beauty or otherwise?

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Vacation Makeup Bag: What I Brought and Used

A question for all of you: when you go on vacation, do you tend to overpack?  Overpack clothes? Overpack makeup?  I’m both.  There.  I said it.  I’m a chronic overpacker, if that’s even a thing.

I was lucky enough to go to Cabo the first week of December {we’ve decided to make this an annual thing.  YAAAAASSSSSSS!!!} and decided that I’d pair down what makeup I did bring, and see if I could make it with just what I packed.

Spoiler alert: mission was a  resounding success.  I was able to create a couple of different looks and wasn’t really missing makeup on the daily.  Perhaps it’s the tan, the hot weather, or the vacation mindset; or a sum of all all three maybe.  What I do know for sure is that I didn’t use everything I brought and I could’ve survived with just mascara and lipstick.

If you’re curious, though, I thought I’d do a little post here and commentary on just what i brought for a sunny beach vacation and what worked best for me.  If you’re interested, keep reading:

face-edited

I don’t wear primer and foundation often as it is, but I brought it along just incase i wanted to create a special look – the primer to make it last, and the foundation to give a flawlessfinish.  For that, Too Faced Primed and Poreless and Chanel’s Vitalumiere Aqua were just the ticket.  I didn’t use it, but I brought my Chanel concealer just in case I got a breakout.  The Mac Prep and Prime in Radiant Rose wasn’t needed either.  Why, you ask?  Because i was so well rested and didn’t have dark circles to cover.  If that’s not #vacationgoals, I don’t know what is!

 

I did use the setting spray, though, just to lock in my look at night {the only time I really wore makeup, if I’m honest}.  Hourglass Ambient Lighting powders in this palette form {no longer sold, sadly} are my go-to vacation setting and highlighting powder staple.  This vacation was no exception. Nars Laguna was the bronzer I used in place of blush most nights, and I did use a pop of the Prosecco Pop highlighter in the Becca x Jaclyn Hill duo.

blush-etc-edited

 

Knowing what I know from past vacays, I tried to limit my eye products as much as possible.  No need to bring tons of shadows, false lashes or even a crazy pop of colour.  So, I stuck to what I’d call some basics:  my beloved Maybelline Lash Sensational, and the L’Oreal Voluminous Base just in case I needed it {unsure why the Roller Lash is even in there…it waseyes-editedn’t used}.  For eye looks, I know neutral – for me at least – is the way to go with my olive skin that tans deeply {just say it now, I’m a bitch.  Yep.} with little to no effort.  So, the Tease palette from Tarte was perfection.  The colours are just neutral enough that they can go from day to night {didn’t wear it during the day, FYI}.  I threw in a Hard Candy single, just for good measure I guess.  I can’t be without brows, so my Anastasia Brow Wiz made it in, alongside Marc Jacobs and Tarte eyeliners.  Both are super long wearing and I knew they wouldn’t move in the Mexican heat!

 

I had a wonderful vacation {here’s a picture of our view…can I be there right now, pleaseandthanks} and packed a lean yet functional makeup arsenal to keep me fancified in Mexico.  I forgot to snap a pic of my brushes, but I just brought along a travel set from Sigma that I’ve had for years.  Shop a few of these faves, linked below!

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shop this post

Louis Vuitton Makeup Bag  |  Tartelette Tease palette  |  Chanel Concealer  |  Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua Foundation  | UD Setting Spray  |  Nars Laguna bronzer  |   Too Faced Primed and Poreless |  Becca x Jaclyn Hill Duo in Pamplemousse  |  Anastasia Brow Wiz  |  Marc Jacobs Highliner in Brown(out) |  Tarte Skinny SmolderEYES Liner

 

 

 

 

Too Faced, Too Fast?

I’ve put off writing this post for a few days, and no – it’s not the all too familiar push of procrastination – but rather a mere allowance of the time I required absorb and process the news.  I know what you’re thinking: “it’s not that big a deal, it’s a makeup brand purchase”.  Yes, it’s a makeup brand purchase, yet for me it’s more: it’s a marriage of the two things I love most – beauty and business. I felt that, with time, I’d be able to provide {what I hope to be} poignant thoughts from what is a venerable marriage of passions for me.

For those that aren’t as involved in both worlds as I, perhaps you’re unaware that Estee Lauder, in an attempt to expand its breadth of brands to reach an oft missed market segment for the Lauder brand {the Millenials}, has acquired Too Faced.  Millenials hold significant market share across our modern economy when we think of our hypothetical “market of any and all products and services” into a sort of pie chart divided into age groups.  Read between the lines: if Lauder didn’t hit this market in some capacity, their bottom lines would continue to shrink and stock prince inevitably lower {albeit slowly}, eroding the estimated $10.8B in annual revenue the company has posted in its most recent results.  For a cool $1.45B, our beloved brand, Too Faced, is now owned by Estee Lauder.

 

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - SEPTEMBER 20:  Items from Estee Lauder's "Pleaure by Gwyneth Paltrow" are seen at Saks Fifth Avenue & Estee Lauder's "Pleasures" by Gwyneth Paltrow at Saks Fifth Avenue on September 20, 2006 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images)

{via http://www.fortune.com: could there be a less sexy or funky counter? I don’t think so}

When I considered what I knew about each of the brands, it was hard to see a successful marriage.  Let me explain: how could this brand whose bottles of foundation I can remember seeing on my dear grandmother’s vanity as I played with her makeup 20 years ago {and who still hold that spot well into her 80s) somehow join forces with a mainstream, funky, uber-successful brand with packaging that would make any grandmother feel it was “too much”?  The key to any successful M&A is brand unity, not to mention alignment of work culture among many other things.  Could Too Faced possibly be a viable target acquisition?  What would this do for the brand?  I don’t have the answers; I don’t think anyone does, but it begs the question as to whether or not this was a strategic move for both parties, or whether Too Faced has sold just too soon {see what I did there?}.

 

Too Faced has grown 70% in the last year.  That’s nearly unheard of, irrespective of your market, let me tell you.  With the scrumptious chocolate bronzers and various similarly fragranced {and aptly named} palettes, in tandem with the most successful Better Than Sex mascara, Too Faced is expected to post $270M in net sales by the end of this year.   A $1.45B valuation, then, seems a little light.   This whole notion of brand conglomerates – especially in the beauty industry – isn’t foreign at all.  Think about it: ColourPop and Kylie’s brand, LVMH ultimately controlling brands like Dior and the Sephora stores we all love, not to mention the fact that Lauder already owns Tom Ford, MAC and Bumble and Bumble.  Yet, I see the alliance and brand unity under the Lauder umbrella with the aforementioned list.  Too Faced seems like it would be the black sheep with its funky packaging, approach to marketing, play on names and, largely, chocolate scented products  in the Lauder world of safe, not often sleek, packaging {ok Tom Ford is sleek – but you get what you pay for}.

 

Beyond the physical in any relationship – that goes for business too – comes the inherent coupling of cultures in what must {and I repeat: MUST} work symbiotically to yield a successful allegiance, measured by bottom and top line growth, as well as earnings per share.  Not knowing anything about the internal corporate culture of either organization, I’m going to shy away from making any comments about what may or may not result internally from this transaction, but rather I’ll stick to what I know well: in business, the sad truth remains that often economy trumps morality.   That’s the truth, plain and simple.

 

too-faced-fall-2014-packaging

{photo cred:makeupandbeautyblog.com}

With this acquisition, a company whose umbrella brands test on animals and support the Chinese market {where animal testing is, in fact, required by law – abhorrent, if you ask me}, joined forces with Too Faced, a brand so boldly against animal testing and Chinese sales.  It’s always sad to see a brand just eaten up in an acquisition, especially one so beloved {and clearly profitable} as Too Faced.  This just stunned me.  It was very hard to set aside the emotion this brought on and face the fundamentals of the transaction, which make good business sense, I’ll admit.  My initial thoughts pegged this as the end of Too Faced, with two creative, innovative founders skipping all the way to the bank.

 

I was wrong, and I’m thrilled to say it.  Too Faced has now publicly affirmed the brand’s commitment to not testing on animals and will not be going into the Chinese market.  The owner has gone so far as to say that they will not be “folded” in to the Lauder culture – I’m assuming it’s rather stuffy and largely dissimilar to that of Too Faced.

 

In this case, I say way to go to the founders of Too Faced who can {hopefully} leverage the marketing expertise, brand recognition, and access to broader sale bases beyond a website, Sephora, and Ulta stores only, further expanding the brand beyond any expectation.  Do I think it was too soon?  Perhaps.  But could the founders of Too Faced really take the brand where Lauder will?  I don’t think so.  Estee Lauder’s group of companies isn’t known to cannibalize its brands – think about those that have grown under the umbrella of the Lauder group – and so Too Faced may, instead, flourish following completion of the transaction.

 

Perhaps in this marriage, opposites really do attract, and Too Faced has done the best thing yet for the brand.

 

If you’re so inclined, here’s a few links to articles about the acquisition:

Forbes  | Allure.com  |  peta.org  |  The Wall Street Journal

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