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Beauty

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Clearly I have a love affair with nail polish. I am all about sporting a natural visage, but on my hands I love bright hues on a daily basis. In the summer I indulge in bolder nail colours because, if you live here in Montréal, weather that permits your hands to go mitts-free obligates celebration. For the past few months I have been loving coral, pink and rose shades that had me venturing into some unexplored hues on the colour wheel (though my hands remain too shy to go too far into the glitter and textured territories). This summer I have been wearing and test driving nail polishes from five different brands: Estée Lauder, L’Oreal, Joe Fresh, Revlon, and Essie. Here is my round up of my favourite shades and formulas.

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Estée Lauder’s 06 Berry Hot

There is nary an Estée Lauder product in the makeup stash, except for this one nail polish from a department store gift with purchase that was passed down to me as a gift. Free nail polish? OKAY. I was intrigued by the bright and pigmented shade, one unlike any other nail polish that I currently own, which is best described as a vibrant, cool-based metallic fuschia. The formula coats evenly and is almost opaque with a single swipe so that you can get away with two coats sandwiched between a base coat and a top coat (I use Revlon base coat and top coats for all my manicures). The wear is pretty good, but slightly below average because I found the metallic formula was prone to minor flaking at the edges. However, the colour remained vibrant and true for a week’s worth of wear.

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Target has not arrived in Montréal — or Québec — just yet but during a quick trip to Toronto last month, I dropped by the Target location at Cloverdale Mall in west Toronto (Etobicoke).

My reasons for dropping in? Curiosity, to grab a stick of deodorant left at home, and to check out their makeup aisle. Target in the U.S. carries makeup lines like E.L.F. Cosmetics (eyes lips face), Sonia Kashuk, and Pixi, brands that you cannot get at any Canadian retailer as far as I know, though E.L.F. was carried by Zellers before all but three stores were purchased by Target to convert into Target Canada. I also wanted to see how the retailer was doing during its first few months operating in Canada as I had heard of inventory issues where aisles were already out of stock, as well as complaints that the pricing was not as cheap as usual U.S. Target retail prices.

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On nails: Essie, Geranium

I love nail polish. Many girls and women these days do. In fact, during the recession starting in 2008, many economists expected that lipstick sales would surge as per the Lipstick Effect which posits that the sales of inexpensive indulgences, such as lipstick, increase during lean economic times. Instead, a 2010 study found that the sales of nail polish, not lipstick, actually increased by 0.8% in 2009.

This I do not find surprising. I would say that, as someone who likes to follow fashion and beauty trends, many women including my peers are not as enamoured with lipstick which is not a staple for many grooming routines. We women continue to wear foundation/concealer as base, love to pile on tons of mascara, groom the brows, and maybe some blush and eyeshadow. For the lips? Not lipstick for every day wear, but instead something sheer and more natural like gloss or balm. Lipstick, when used, is reserved for special occasions (or daring fashionistas featured on a street style blog). Amongst all the women I know, I would say I am the only one that still sports lipstick though only for a night out or for events. And when I wear lipstick, it is bright and meant to be seen, never soft and demure.

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On nails: Butter London, Yummy Mummy

But nail polish is a different story. Just about every female friend I have has a nail polish or two to paint at home on a week day night, or bring to their neighbourhood nail salon. When I was working full time, I sported nails in unassertive colours for the sole purpose of looking neat and professional. Nowadays, as a student, I wear nail polish in both brights and neutrals, and more as an accessory. I do not usually pile on the earrings, necklaces, or other accessories on a daily basis. But my nails? They are a relatively cheap and fast way to complete my outfit. And they bring a flash of colour to the sometimes grey transitory season that is the end of winter, or beginning of spring.

My all time favourite is Essie’s Geranium, which can only be found at specialty beauty shops or salons though Essie now carries select colours in drugstores here in Canada. It is a bright, warm coral that I sport all year round (top photo). The orange makes it a non-basic red, and it is flattering on my yellow-based skin tone. I apply three to four coats for maximum coverage and opacity.

A new discovery is Butter London’s Yummy Mummy (second photo from top). Horrible name and quite a high price point, by the way ($17 CDN!). But it is a beautiful, cool beige-grey tinged with purple and fine shimmer. It is quite sheer and applied in two coats, it retains some translucency and looks like your nails, but better. For a completely opaque look and to emphasize its cool undertones, use at least four coats. I surprisingly purchased this product at Indigo bookstore amongst their array of lifestyle products (with a gift certificate, natch).

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Montréal had yet another snow fall in the last couple of days, meaning winter is still making itself comfortably languid in this part of the world. All these months of winter weather has changed my skin into a dysfunctional and irritable mess. I usually have the oily, shiny type and moisturizing lotion was something I used strictly below the chin. But come December, I was digging through my medicine cabinet for something to control my flaky, peeling visage. This winter I even started to experience frequent rashes and other forms of skin irritation from exposing myself to -40°C temperature. My skin demanded attention; it became red, taut, and even sported a matte texture for once. My usual grooming regimen needed an overhaul.

I admit that I already am a skincare junkie. I read news and articles concerning skincare like the way you hope your broker keeps tabs on your mutual funds. My Internet bookmark is set to various beauty sites and I peruse Sephora almost like the way Terry Richardson picks his young models — ravenous and wide-eyed though perhaps I am more restrained. I regularly scan the flyers for my local drugstores so that I know when there are sales and deals for my usual lotions and serums, leaving me no excuse for ever running low on eye cream.

This may seem odd to some people since I keep my makeup to a minimum and seem accepting of many so-called imperfections on my skin: freckles, acne, and pores so huge I could probably stock an emergency supply of water jugs for the apocalypse. I accept that I do not have “perfect” skin and even dismiss such an objective though yes, I do drink the Kool Aid of the beauty myth. That said, I do enjoy many grooming rituals, even the artistic nature of makeup, and I want to feel confident and look presentable. However, that is hard to do when my face has been invaded by an army of red bumps and blisters that the wonders of makeup can only partially address.

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Hence, this winter, I stored away my soaps and scrubs, and looked for something mild and soothing. I had a couple of thoughts on how to go about restoring my skin to a less angry state, which included some measures by two of my friends involving products meant for nursing mothers and their babies (i.e. slathering on nipple cream and lotion for eczema on baby skin — they swear by it!). Well, those options were at the back of my mind, but I decided to try some alternative options first while being as economical as possible.

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[Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons]

Movember has now officially ended, but some men want to wear their ‘staches year round.

According to CNN, many men seek moustache implants from plastic surgeons paying approximately USD$7,000 for the procedure. Doctors identify middle eastern men as the dominant demographic seeking this procedure, and according to Andrew Hammond, a journalist based in Saudi Arabia, “culturally [the moustache] suggests masculinity, wisdom and experience.”

My question is: Which style is preferred? The Handlebar? The Dali? The Walrus? Click here for a definitive on moustache styles according to the American Mustache Institute (yes, there is such a thing).

This past spring, Hilary did a quick visit to Montréal and, amongst other things, we caught up on our favourite nail polish colours of the moment. I was back to applying Essie’s Eternal Optimist, an extroverted pinkish nude, for the transitional season and Hilary was enamoured with the shade as much as I. So before her trip back across the ocean, she went out to buy a bottle to wear on European soil. Then in the summer, our mutual friend Anita trekked over to meet up with Hilary but not before Hilary asked for her to bring another bottle of Eternal Optimist from Canada. So by the fall when Anita dropped by my place for Thanksgiving, I complimented her nail colour which was the same Essie shade, introduced to her by Hilary introduced by me.

This hue is like the pair of jeans in The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants that fit all friends perfectly, despite the girls’ varying body types. I am almost sure this colour was concocted with the reference to a United Nations meeting as it looks great on all three of us, one whom is fair and Caucasian, another who is South East Asian, and another whom is East Asian. It is like a great foundation but for your nails, making them look like you were born with their neat and lively state. I make my manicure last longer by sandwiching two to three thin coats of colour with a base coat and top coat. This particular shade can be purchased at both beauty outlets and drugstores here in Canada for approximately $9.99 CDN.

[Photo: rue McGill College, Montréal]

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month here in North America, and this year the pink ribbon is a little tattered.

First, the Susan G. Komen Foundation controversy in the United States brought the issues of breast cancer and charity operations to the forefront. Soon after other contentious charitable breast cancer initiatives came to light, including the recent revelations that the NFL’s pink ribbon efforts only net 5% of proceeds to charity. I have closely followed these particular news items with interest, partially in terms of the debate on the politics of these embroilments, but also in terms of the topics as women’s health issues. I know the public debates on the controversies have been quite lively in the Internet sphere, and many young women joined in the discussion on women’s sites like Jezebel. However, I wondered how these efforts of breast cancer education affect these young women’s knowledge of the disease despite their Internet outrage and opining in the pink ribbon controversies.

Breast cancer affects 1 in 9 Canadian women in their lifetime, meaning that many of us have known someone with breast cancer or have otherwise been personally affected by the disease. Since my family member’s first diagnosis when I was a child, I became interested in learning more about breast cancer and decreasing my risks in developing the disease. However, it seems that many young women are not aware about the risks and symptoms of breast cancer despite the massive efforts at education and involvement. I feel that this is akin to the behaviours of many young people regarding their risks of sexually transmitted infections (STI) — despite massive efforts at public education, many are kind of aware, many are kind of taking steps to prevents transmission, and many are kind of getting tested. STI’s are a much more of an immediate threat for most young people than breast cancer, but breast cancer is a specific risk to women with a very high risk of occurrence during their lifetime. Therefore, I wanted to write this post as, from talking to my friends, it is clear that many young women are not well informed about breast cancer and how certain lifestyle factors can impact the risks in developing the disease.

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