U&A’s Holiday Beauty Gift Guide 2016

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🎄🎁Hey everyone!

Christmas is just around the corner and I’ve been busy shopping, trying to get it all done early. This time of the year always reminds me of gingerbread cookies, warm knit sweaters and holiday gift sets 😂. In all seriousness, most of your favourite brands come out with sets that bundle their best sellers together or they release limited edition items like eyeshadow palettes. This gives you an opportunity to try new things, or get the makeup you wanted in a kit with extra stuff. It's all enticing and a great way to stretch your dollar a little more, or a way to spend even more money during the holidays. But you know, there is no such thing as too much makeup!

I’ve picked up some great beauty gift sets that I wanted to share with you guys. To those that I will be seeing this holiday, and are reading this, unfortunately some of my gifts will be spoiled for you. But it’s all for the blog! For the rest of you, I hope this list will help you buy for that makeup hoarder in your life. Without further ado, lets show you my Christmas Beauty Gift Guide 2016.

1. Revive Beauty Blender or W.O.W. Mini Beauty Blenders, $6.99ea at Marshalls.
Compared to the $28CAD you'll fork out for the original Beautyblender, this is a steal. I found these dups at Marshalls for only $7. I will most likely do a full review on the two blenders but for a dup, Revive holds up pretty well. It absorbs water similarly to the BeautyBlender, and applies makeup easily and smoothly. The mini sponges will be great for contouring or applying cream shadows.  If you've never used a beautyblender-like sponge before, this is a cheap and cost-effective way to try it! 

2. Smashbox LIGHT IT UP Primer Set, $44CAD at Murale by Shoppers Drug Mart.
Ask anybody and they’ll tell you smashbox makes one the best primers out there. This set is a full sized Photo Finish Foundation Primer with a bonus travel sized Photo Finish Primer Water. It comes in a fun fluorescent box ready for gifting and great to reuse for storing all your other makeup! I love this primer and I know whoever you buy this for will too!

3. Smashbox LIGHT IT UP 3 Palette Set, $55CAD at Murale by Shoppers Drug Mart.
Okay, this is really cool. This set comes with three mini palettes, an eyeshadow palette, contour palette, and a lip palette, all perfect for travelling. The Eyeshadow palette comes with six colours: (L to R) Vanilla, Flamingo, Russet, Totally Nude, Amethyst and Dark Cocoa. The Contour palette has three colours: Contour, Bronze and Highlight, and the lip palette comes with three glossy and three matte lip shades: (L to R) Cognac, Pretty Social, Inspiration, First Time Matte, Jam On It Matte, Bing Matte. This is such a fun set, it comes in the same fluorescent box as the primer set and the palettes matches the box. It has a little bit of everything, perfect for the person you don't quite know what to get.

4. Tarte Colour Wheel Blush and Highlight Palette, $55CAD at Sephora.
I admittedly bought this one for myself a couple months back, but it would be a wonderful gift to receive. This is a beautiful blush/highlight set, it comes with 8 blushes and two highlighters. The top colours are very bright and summery: Mod, Deco, Surreal, Culture, and Idol and the bottom ones are more warm for the winter: Concept, Icon, Montage, Ironic, Crafty and Concept. With a range from dusty rose to bright pinks and corals, this palette will fit with many skin tones. You can even multipurpose this palette and use it as eyeshadow. I like using the highlight colours to brighten the inner corners of my eyes.

5. Lancome Juicy Shaker, $28CAD at Sephora or Murale by Shoppers Drug Mart.
Remember juicy tubes? I must’ve had 20 of them, no word of a lie. This is the new Lancome Juicy shakers that replaced the Juicy tube. They have a nurturing oil layer and a pigment layer, you shake it up to emulsify the layers together and use a spongey applicator to apply it. These are such a fun twist to lip gloss. They’re not overly pigmented, they give that little pop of colour and shine to the lips with out being too sticky or high maintenance. And they're a great stocking stuffer! It comes in 11 shades, I have it in Mangoes Wild. (I'm sorry I did not take an up close picture!)

6. Stila Eyes Are The Window Shadow Palette in Mind, $60CAD at Sephora or Shoppers Drug Mart.
Stila makes wonderful eyeshadows, that are always so pigmented and apply effortlessly. This one isn’t a holiday set and is available regularly throughout the year. This palette is a neutral all matte palette, with some bold pops of colour like the purple shade or the burnt orange. The only thing is, when I first purchased the palette, the shadows were cracked. I went to several Shoppers Drug Marts after to find a replacement and many of them were cracked. I think it has to do with the old packaging. The new packaging is the one I repurchased, which is the same eyeshadow palette but a different exterior, and I feel like this case is a lot sturdier than the old packaging.. here’s to hoping.

7. Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner in Intense Black, $29 at Sephora or Shoppers Drug Mart.
This is also not a holiday item, but it does come in a gift set consisting of three eyeliners. I just wanted the single black waterproof eyeliner. This is by-far my favourite liquid waterproof eyeliner. It’s absolutely the best in my opinion. Just like the colour says, it is such an intense black, and it dries relatively quickly, so there won’t be any chance for transfer on the folds of your eyelids. And when they say this is waterproof, they mean it. Go ahead and bring on the water works, this guy won’t budge. 

8. Quo Roll and Go Brush Set $55CAD at Shoppers Drug Mart.
Beautiful black handles with rose gold ferrules, this set comes with 10 brushes and travel case that will upgrade anybody’s vanity. If you've bought makeup brushes before, you know how expensive they can be, especially buying a whole set like this. Quo makes beautiful synthetic brushes, and this set is no different. The brushes are soft to the touch and have a good weight to them. The handles aren't overly large, or long, making them easy to hold. The bristles are dense which I like so that you can easily pack on eyeshadow or powder. Playing around with them, it doesn't look like they shed the bristles easily. Having said that, I haven't had a chance to use these brushes fully yet, but I use Quo brand brushes everyday for my makeup and I have no complaints. This is a steal for this many brushes, especially if you compare it with a powder brush from their professional line which is already $45.


Thank you for taking the time to read. I hope you found a little inspiration in this blog post for your holiday shopping. I want to say that a gift isn't about its monetary value at the end of the day. I love makeup and I wanted to share all the things I love with the people I love and that's what inspired this beauty gift guide.

Happy Holidays! I'll see you in my next post!

xo, Karen

Katy Perry x Covergirl Part 2

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Last time I told you guys all about Katy Perry's Demi Matte lipsticks, which I absolutely love. Walmart has the whole collection currently, so I finally found "Perry Panther", her black lipstick and I also picked up her Kate Kat Eye waterproof mascara. So I thought I'd give you a little update on those!

The black lipstick, adorably named Perry Panther, is definitely a different look for me but I've received a lot of compliments. The first coat I put on is sheer, but the colour is buildable to give you that solid black lip. You will need a lipliner for this colour because it is so dark, it easily bleeds and will smear. I don't suggest grabbing your pencil black eyeliners. They may be safe for your skin, but not on your lips, because it can be potentially toxic if ingested. If you can't find a black lipliner, a nude colour close to you lip colour should do or a concealer pencil that you can line just outside the lips to create a lipstick barrier.

Katy Perry has branched out to mascaras and recently released the Katy Kat Eye mascaras to give you the perfect cat eye look. I picked up the very black waterproof one but there is a blue mascara if you're adventurous! So I don't know if it's a mistake on the packaging but the brush on it looks like a full bristled brush that tapers to a point, but actually the brush looks like a spiral (see above). I tried to capture the brush as accurately as possible. Either way it doesn't bother me, the brush works fine. Other than that the product is true to the packaging. It is very black and very waterproof. The mascara definitely lengthens my shorter asian lashes and really adds volume to them (see below for before and after). It looks especially good with eyeliner. And it holds my lash curl all day!

I put on only a few coats of the mascara. You can definitely keep layering to get that desired length and build.

Some things to note, the product goes on heavy on the brush when you use it for the first time and clumps up. I suspect because it is a new mascara and the product is very 'wet'. I remove some of the excess product using the mouth of the mascara tube to scrap it off. This helps reveal more of the actual bristles and prevents clumping when applying the mascara on.

Overall, I like the product. I wore it all day yesterday in that Toronto humidity and rain and I didn't have "raccoon" eyes at the end of it. I hope she releases a line of eye shadows next =].

So I hope this was helpful. If you want to read more about the Kate Kat Matte lipsticks, please read my previous post which you can find here.

Let me know if you've tried any of these products and leave me a comment below!

Until next time,
xo, Karen

Trial and Error II

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Revlon – Ultra HD Matte Lipcolor

Revlon just released their Ultra HD Matte Lipcolor, a lightweight, 100% wax free, velvety liquid to matte lipstick. Revlon released 8 bold shades and I picked myself up the colour 'HD Addiction'.

This isn't your typical liquid to matte lipstick. The Ultra HD lipsticks go on light and feel very soft on the lips. It has a creamy semi-matte finish - so it doesn't dry completely matte, and even after a couple of hours it maintains its creamy texture. This means it isn't drying on your lips like matte lipsticks normally are. I find these lipsticks aren't super long-lasting, the colour will transfer easily while eating drinking etc, but less so than your standard lipstick.

The lipstick is very easy to apply with its flat doe foot applicator. These are my favourite kind because you can use the flat side to spread the product over your lips evenly, and the tip of the brush to line and create a precise edge around the lip. I find this style of applicator very easy to get a defined lip without having to use a lip liner.


The colour I picked up, HD addiction, is gorgeous. It's a bold - I'm going to say - 'hot magenta'. The colour has blue undertones, which I find more flattering against my yellow skin tone. This lipstick is highly pigmented and has amazing colour payoff. And I have to mention, these lipsticks smell delicious! They smell like watermelon bubblegum - yep, that's how I'm going to describe it. I'm not normally one for scented things - they give me a headache easily, but this scent is pretty pleasant (I mean, come on, watermelon bubblegum!) and you can't smell it after you apply it.

Revlon's Ultra HD Matte Lipcolor is reminiscent of the higher end Anastasia Beverley Hills liquid lipsticks. I think they have the same colour pay off and the texture is pretty much identical, only down side is the smaller range of colours. I think it's a great dup for them, without the hefty price.

Some final thoughts, when I purchased this product, I was expecting a long-wearing matte lipstick, but I'm disappointed that the lipstick isn't completely matte. When a product says matte, I expect it to be matte, this was definitely more of a semi-matte finish, unless you were to blot it with a tissue to mattify the colour. I do love the bold colour, I wanted a colour that is very unlike me, and this hot magenta is very pretty. If you want a semi-matte lipstick that isn't heavy or drying with bold colours, this is still a great lipstick.

You can find these at your local drug store, Shoppers Drug Mart or Rexall, and Walmart. I actually forget how much these were, but I don't think they were more than $12.

I hope you found this helpful, until next time,
xo Karen

NYX Face Awards 2016

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Hey Guys!

A couple of weeks ago I decided to enter the NYX Face Awards contest, where you enter a video of yourself doing a makeup tutorial - spoiler alert: I did not make the Top 30. I didn't expect to make it to the next round. I wanted to, don't get me wrong but I knew with thousands of applicants, and such amazing talent out there, I wasn't going to cut it. I want to think I did it anyway to break out of my comfort zone and really test the waters of my capabilities. I'm actually very proud of the way my video turned out. This was the first time I had ever filmed myself, and edited a video. I had taught myself the whole process in less than a week. I'm surprised I even managed it. There were some obstacles, of course. For example, having to borrow a camera - twice, and then downloading a video editing program - which also meant I had to update my OS in order to run the program, and as well things like whether or not I'd have the time to finish filming/editing. There are many things I need to work on, but all those things will come with time and more experience with making videos. Regardless of the flaws you might find, I learnt a lot during this process and I'm happy I did it.

Now a part of the contest rules was to not show other products besides NYX/the sponsor products. But I did want to share with you guys the products I used, so I'm listing them here. Many of these things I use daily and absolutely love!

Primer - NYX Pore Filler
Foundation - CoverFX Cream Foundation in G50
Translucent Powder - Make Up Forever Super Matte Loose Powder
Bronzer - Bobbi Brown Bronzing Powder in Natural
Blush - Milani Baked Blush in Berry Amore

Brow Pomade - Tarte Brow Mousse in Rich Brown (Great colour for those with black hair but shines brown in the sun, asian/oriental hair I guess?)

Eyeshadow Primer: Smashbox 24 Hour Photo Finish Shadow Primer
Eyeshadows: Limecrime Venus the Grunge Palette: Creation (dark orange)/Muse(brick red) and Tarte's Holiday Collection 2015 (not shown): Peach On Earth
Liquid Black Liner - Covergirl Full Lash Bloom Mascara (I actually like the Lash Blast Volume better - the orange tube)

Lipstick - NYX Lingerie Liquid Lipstick in Exotic (not shown)

(FYI - All the links will lead you to their respective brand websites. You can find all these products at your drugstore, Shoppers Drug Mart actually carries many of these brands, or Sephora. Lime crime products are only available online)

As daunting as it is to be completely makeup-less on camera for all the internet to see, here is my first ever makeup tutorial, I hope you enjoy it! Let me know in the comments what you think.

xo, Karen


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NYX, the Los Angelos make up brand, has finally opened its own brick-and-mortar store in downtown Toronto. Replacing the MAC store at 363 Queen St. West, I finally got a chance to see the store in person. The brand, now owned by L'Oreal, can be found in Rexall Drugstores, but with the new flagship store, it offers the whole range of NYX goodies.

Walking inside for the first time, it was packed. As with most new and trendy things to happen in Toronto, the market gets saturated very quickly. That being said, it did not deter me from shouldering and elbowing my way through! The store is laid out similarly to MAC, sleek black counters and shelving for the products, and vanities in the centre, with giant mirrors. As well, the typical hot white lights beaming down on you. You really can't hide any flaws with those lights, or sweat. I have to say, they were smart about how they laid out their products. I could find most things in more than one area, which is nice when you're trying to navigate a sea of teens. The personnel, from cashiers to makeup artists were very helpful. For the most part they were ready to help, but did not approach me. Which is fine, considering there were so many people, to me it made more sense to stand by and let the shoppers shop. The cashier who checked me out was really friendly and helpful, even helped me spend more money, ha!

The things I bought and the price break down:

Lip Lingerie (Liquid Lipstick), Exotic - $9 CDN
Full Throttle Lipstick, Con Artist - $10 CDN
Pore Filler - $16 CDN
NYX Pro Fan Brush 06 - $17 CDN
NYX Pro Dual Brow Brush 18 - $10 CDN

The Lingerie Liquid Lipstick that dries matte came highly recommended, my friends have told me that they were even better than NYX's soft matte lip cream, which I already love, so I'm excited to try it. I tried the Full Throttle lipstick in store. It is a lovely brick red colour, it's very matte and apparently waterproof! (You can tell that I love my mattes.) I haven't used the brushes too much to make a full review yet, so I won't say much more. I purchased the pore filler by the recommendation of the cashier, and I already love it. It refines your pores and creates a smoother surface for your makeup, something I will talk about further in a later post.

Overall, I think the prices are quite reasonable for a higher end drugstore brand. I have always loved using NYX products, particularly the lipsticks, so I'm excited to continue to explore the brand.

Go check out the store and brave the crowd. Or shop online, at NYXcosmetics.ca

Let me know what you think! Until next time, 

xo, Karen

Be Flawless With Cover FX

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Contouring Made Easy With Cover FX’s Contour Kit

My favourite foundation and honestly the only thing I use on my face is Cover FX's cream foundation. Cover FX makes finding your shade easy and comes in a wide range of skin tones. They have three different undertones, P = Pink, N = Neutral and G = Golden, and the number represents the depth of shade; the higher the number the darker the shade. I'm G50 - the golden undertone is great for the yellow undertone in asian skin.

Cover FX's cream foundation has amazing coverage. It blends completely with my skin and hides all my skin imperfections, flawlessly.I use their cream foundation as a concealer to spot treat the areas I want to hide. For example, the dark circles underneath my eyes, my chin, and some acne scars on my nose and cheeks. I only use it all over for special occasions.

I have been using Cover FX for years now. I started using it because the foundation I was using before discovering Cover FX was causing me to break out where I didn't normally break out. A girl from university told me about Cover FX, I tried it and never looked back. Cover FX is dermatologically tested to not clog pores and is free of parabens, fragrances, talc, and a bunch of other stuff. It's ideal for those who have acne prone or sensitive skin. Not to mention it's cruelty free!

Cover FX released a contour kit which is only currently available online for Canada. Bryan went to New York recently and I got him to grab one for me while he was down there (I had to have it, of course!). You can find your contour kit by matching your shade with the range each kit comes in. There are 6 different kits that is based on undertone and depth of skin. For example, I'm G50, so my shade falls in the G medium Deep kit. In each kit you get 4 different shades you can use to highlight and define your facial features. It even comes with an instructional card - ensuring you get it right every time. Some of you may think contouring is time consuming and just added work to your makeup routine. However, often when you put foundation all over, it flattens your face, and washes you out. Contouring reintroduces shades and highlights back to your face, and enhances your features. The kit makes it easy to achieve this.

Above I'm wearing the cream foundation in G50 and have used the contour kit in G Medium Deep - I prefer a more subtle look, but you can chisel out those cheek bones more if need be!)

First impressions, I really like this kit. The consistency is the same as the cream foundation and blends super easily. The colour range I matched my skin tone to was bang on. The darker shades defines the cheek bones without looking muddy. Now, because you're working with a cream foundation, it does take a little longer to blend into the skin than using a press powdered bronzer. Having said that, if done properly, the application is much more even - less likely to be patchy, which bronzers can do. I will probably use this kit when I'm going out or for a special occasion. For me, it's too heavy to wear daily.

How to use: I suggest applying the cream foundation with a damp beauty blender sponge. The sponge helps blend the foundation with your skin effortlessly. You want to use the darker shades just underneath your cheek bones, your temples, underneath your jaw line and blend down the neck. With the lighter shade, you'll want to put it in the centre of your forehead, down the nose bridge, the chin, underneath your brow bone and the area under your eyes. The highlight shade can go on the high points on your cheeks, down your nose, and the brow bone. Set your makeup and mattify your look with a loose translucent powder all over.

Let me know if you've tried Cover FX's Contour Kit and what you think! Show me your looks on Instagram. I'm @kernh. Follow me!

Where you can buy these products I mentioned:

Cover FX Cream Foundation - Sephora or Shoppers Drug Mart ($42 CDN)
Cover FX Contour Kit - Sephora ($48 CDN)
Beauty Blender - Sephora ($28 CDN)

The year is slowly drawing to a close! The next post I'll be recapping my favourite beauty products of 2015. So, look forward to that.

Until then,
xoxo, Kern.

Stila – In the Light

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Hi Internet,

Today I'll be reviewing Stila eye shadows, in particular shadows from their 'In the Light' palette. And I'll be showing a quick make up look.

Stila came out with three versions of these palettes, 'In the Know', 'In the Garden' and 'In the Light'. I have the 'In the Light' palette (but I wouldn't mind getting my hands on the other two..). The palette comes with ten different eye shadows, with a combination of matte and shimmery shadows: Bare, Kitten, Bliss, Sunset, Sandstone, Bubbly, Gilded Gold, Luster, Night Sky and Ebony. It also includes their Smudge Stick Waterproof eye liner in Damsel (the one in the box shown below). My palette comes with a large mirror on the inside of the lid - I noticed that some pictures online show only a cardboard lid.

The colours are beautiful and it makes the perfect nude palette. I often use this palette over any other palette I own, even Urban Decay's Naked palette. Stila makes high quality eyeshadows that are very pigmented and go on very smoothly. They blend very easily on the skin, with very little fall out. Nothing bothers me more than putting eye shadow on and the shadow gets all over your face. Defeats the purpose of it being an eye shadow. Because this palette features neutral colours, it would look good on any skin type.

I have swatched the colours for you, I apologize for my poor camera angle. I'm a medium skin tone, and you can see how vibrant each colour stands out on my skin. From left to right you have Bare, Kitten, Bliss, Sunset, Sandstone, Bubbly, Gilded Gold, Luster, Night Sky and Ebony. At the very end I have also swatched Stila's Stay All Day Waterproof liquid eyeliner that I use in the makeup look - one of the best liquid liners by far. I forgot to swatch the liner that comes with the palette, but it's a very nice medium-dark brown, that glides on smoothly, and dries to a matte finish, and stays put once it's dry. Great formula that doesn't 'run' and cause raccoon eyes at the end of the day - at least from my experience.

Now onto the makeup look! I have personally designed my own character model to use for my makeup looks and for the blog - something I will do next time is to print on cardstock.

Step one: Apply 'Bare' in the inner third of your eye lid. You can sweep this colour into the inner corner of your eye and on the lower lash line as well.
Step two: With a fluffy brush, sweep 'Gilded gold' on the outer two thirds of your upper eye lid. Blend up and outwards. Check in your mirror to see if it shows when your eyes are open. With an angle brush, smudge this colour into your lower lash line, concentrating the colour in the outer two thirds.

Step three: With your favourite eye liner - I'm using Stila's Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid eye liner - line your eyes as close to the upper lash line as possible and wing it out! This may take practice, just do small strokes and steady your hand by holding onto your arm with the other.
Don't forget to curl your lashes and apply mascara - here I'm showing Covergirl's Waterproof Lash Blast mascara.
Step four: Highlight the inner corner of your eyes with 'Kitten' or 'Bubbly'.

Some tips: To make your eyeshadow lasts all day and prevent creasing, I suggest wearing a primer before applying your eye makeup. I show above Urban Decay's Primer Potion. To mattify liquid eye liner (because they always dry shiny), take an angel brush and dab on black eye shadow over the liquid liner. This not only mattifies the liner, but also gets rid of any wibbly wobblies from a shaky hand.

And that's it!

I hope this was useful to anyone out there looking for the perfect nude palette.

You can find this palette on Stila's Website, and as well, select drugstores that sell the brand, including Shoppers Drug Mart. I bought mine at Murale by Shoppers Drug Mart for $50.00 CAD (and yes you can use your Shopper points at this store! so go crazy).

If you enjoyed reading this post or have any questions, please leave me a comment! And let me know if you want to see more makeup looks in the future.

Until next time,
xo Kern

Waterproof Mascara Got Nothin’ On Me!

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Vichy's Waterproof Eye Make-up Remover - You can tell I've already worked my way through it.

So, I wear waterproof mascara everyday because I can't stand getting "racoon eyes" from regular mascara after a long sweaty day, and what happens if I cry spontaneously? (Happens more than you think). I mainly wear it because I have asian eyelashes that point downwards and the only way to keep a curl is with a waterproof mascara - it's a waxier/dryer formula - so when you apply mascara after you've curled it, it won't make your lashes "soggy" and flop back down.

To most people that would be a pain in the bum to take off every night. It really isn't! Especially if you're using the right products. Vichy's Waterproof Eye Makeup remover is my favourite. I have tried a few other drugstore brands and even higher end brands including Maybelline, Almay, Nars and Elizabeth Arden. They remove the mascara (mostly), but takes much longer to do so and with more effort.

The Vichy Eye Make-up Remover is dual layer, the top is an oil layer, and the bottom is aqueous. You shake the product until it emulsifies together. Apply the product onto a cotton pad. Press the cotton pad on your eye for ten seconds - wiggle the product in to your lashes. The oil layer helps breakdown the waxy mascara, the aqueous layer makes it easy to remove the mascara from the lashes. Afterwards, wipe off the mascara. If you missed a spot, go ahead and use the same pad and wipe/rub the edges of mascara you misses. It takes no time at all the remove all the eye makeup. What's great about this product is that Vichy's formula also helps protect and nourish your lashes to keep them longer and stronger. It's also a drugstore brand so it's easy to find at your local Shoppers Drug Mart or Rexall.

I'm wearing waterproof mascara and waterproof eyeliner in the photo - it took about 15 seconds to remove it all, plus there is no residual eye make-up left over.

So go ahead and wear your favourite waterproof mascara! It'll be no match for this eye-makeup remover. (and yes, I wrote this post with one eye with make-up and the other without)

xo, Kern.