Thursday, 8 October 2015

Look of the Day: A Perfect Storm

Hi, everyone! Now that IMATS has come and gone, it's high time I start to play with the new goodies I purchased at the show. Over the past weekend, I decided to push through my cold (which is now finally getting better!) and experiment with the stunning metallic neutrals and jewel tones in the Sleek i-Divine Eye Shadow Palette in Storm. In the process, I was able to create a look that is both colourful as well as totally wearable. Three cheers for budget shadow palettes that pack a punch! 

Using the Storm Palette, I first applied a metallic mid-tone gold shade on the inner half of my lid, as well as on the inner corners and the inner portion of my lower lash line. I created some dimension in the crease with the matte taupe shade and shaded the outer corners of my eyes with the rich blue and purple shades. For a contrasting colour, I lined the outer half of my lower lash line with the emerald-toned green from the Storm Palette. To define the upper lash line, I reached for a cheery jewel-toned purple in Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Liner in Ransom

For the complexion, I wanted to keep things natural and luminous. I used Make Up For Ever's new Ultra HD Fluid Foundation and highlighted the high points of my face with MAC Mineralize Skinfinish in Lightscapade. I have been lusting after this highlighter for almost 10 years (it was initially a limited edition release in 2006) and I'm so happy it's finally mine! On the cheeks, I reached for Sleek's Powder Blush in Flush. It's an intimidating russet red in the pan, but on the cheeks it mimics its namesake- a truly natural flush! 

I decided to contrast the colourful eyes with a natural, neutral lip. I first lined the lips with MAC Subculture (my first-ever lip liner years ago, and perhaps still my fave) and then topped it with one of my favourite unique, flattering nude lipsticks, Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Boy. And voila! 

The Breakdown:

Foundation: Make Up For Ever HD Ultra Fluid Foundation in Y225 Marble
Concealer: Cle de Peau Concealer in Ivory

Powder: Rimmel Stay Matte Long-Wearing Pressed Powder in 011 Creamy Natural (on t-zone) and Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Dim Light (lightly all over)

Blush: Sleek Powder Blush in Flushed
Highlighter: MAC Mineralize Skinfinish in Lightscapade

Brows: Anastasia Brow Powder Duo in Taupe and Tinted Brow Gel in Caramel

Primer: Urban Decay Primer Potion Original formula
Eye Shadow: Sleek i-Divine Eyeshadow Palette in Storm (gold shade on inner corners of the lid and lower lash line, green shade on outer half of lower lash line, purple shades on outer corners of the lid, matte brown shade in the crease)

Eyeliner: Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Ransom  
Mascara: The HotShop Long Lash Mascara (from the Born Pretty Store)

Lip Liner: MAC Lip Liner in Subculture

Lipstick: Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Boy


And a few more shots of the look:

I'd been eyeing the Sleek Storm Palette for ages and I'm so glad I finally snagged it! Its mix of neutrals, roses, blues, and greens make it ultra unique and versatile- I'm sure this isn't the last time you'll be spotting it in a Look of the Day! 

If you're reading this Friday morning, I'll likely be snoozing on a terribly early train heading to my hometown for the Thanksgiving weekend (yup, it's Thanksgiving in Canada, folks!). I'll be getting to spend some time with my niece (and the rest of my family, of course!), which is always the ultimate treat for me.

Hope you're all getting to relax this weekend as well! Happy Thanksgiving! xo

Monday, 5 October 2015

Look of the Day: Succulent Fruit Stand

Hi, everyone! When life throws you lemons, make lemonade. When life throws you a 2-week long cold that is slowly stealing your soul, put on makeup that makes you look healthy and fresh! Needless to day, I'm slightly bitter about being under the weather for this long, but it certainly does help when I can look in the mirror and see a reflection that looks miles better than I feel. I find that when I'm not feeling my best, it's the simplest makeup  that brings life back into my face and today's look aims to do just that. It's all about fairy tale lips, natural, luminous skin, rosy cheeks, and lots of lashes! 

For the complexion, I chose the new Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Fluid Foundation**, which does an amazing job at evening out the complexion without looking too flat, heavy, or artificial. I highlighted the high points of the face with ColourPop's Super Shock Highlighter in Highly Waisted for a golden pink glow and brushed the apples of my cheeks with ColourPop Super Shock Blush in Fruit Stand. It's such a gorgeous rosy coral!

On the eyes, I kept things super simple. I used Highly Waisted as an eye shadow, highlighting my lids, brow bones, and the inner corners of the eye, then opted for super lush lashes, courtesy of my HotShop Long Lash Mascara. As for the lips, I reached for what has become my favourite of the ColourPop Ultra Mattes, Succulent. Succulent is such a perfect warm, rosy red. I find it incredibly flattering- hard to find such a bright red that is also so easy to wear!

The Breakdown:

Foundation: Make Up For Ever HD Ultra Fluid Foundation in Y225 Marble
Concealer: Cle de Peau Concealer in Ivory

Powder: Rimmel Stay Matte Long-Wearing Pressed Powder in 011 Creamy Natural (on t-zone) and Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Dim Light (lightly all over)

Blush: ColourPop Super Shock Cheek in Fruit Stand
Highlighter: ColourPop Super Shock Highlighter in Highly Waisted

Brows: Anastasia Brow Powder Duo in Taupe and Tinted Brow Gel in Caramel

Primer: Urban Decay Primer Potion Original formula
Eye Shadow: ColourPop Super Shock Highlighter in Highly Waisted (on lids, up to brow bone and on the inner corners of the eye)

Mascara: The HotShop Long Lash Mascara (from the Born Pretty Store)

Lipstick: ColourPop Ultra Matte Lip Colour in Succulent


And a few more shots of the look:

When it comes to getting over this cold, I'm definitely going to have to take a "fake it till you make it" approach. If I keep opting for makeup looks that make me look alive and healthy, perhaps my immune system will follow suit ;)

And while I have no doubt that ColourPop will continue to make the rounds in several more Looks of the Day to follow, this marks the final official ColourPop look spurning from the epic haul I made a couple months ago. I'll say it again- I've been totally pleased with all of the products from the brand I've tried so far- for the price, these quirky, colourful makeup goodies can't be beat!

What are your favourite shades from ColourPop? What makeup (if any) do you reach for when you're feeling under the weather?

Thanks for stopping by! xo

** This product was sent to me as a PR sample for consideration and review. All opinions expressed are 100% authentic and my own.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

(Epic) Summer Empties!

Hi, everyone! So, I haven't written an Empties post in ages- I would miss the end-of-month deadline and think "I'll do one next month". This went on for a while until my empties bag was completely bursting! Before things got out of hand further, I knew I finally had to bite the bullet. So here they are- my Summer Empties from July, August, and September!

I have a ton of products to go through, so I'll try to keep things as brief and to the point as possible! 


Revlon ColourStay Whipped Creme Makeup in Buff
My all-time favourite foundation! Amazing coverage, but doesn't look flat or dry. Truly lasts all day!
Repurchase? Of course!

Soap & Glory One Heck of a Blot Super Translucent Mattifying Powder
Did a great job at keeping oil at bay without feeling heavy or chalky. It's good stuff!
Repurchase? It it were available in Canada, yes!

Clinique Perfectly Real Makeup in #1 Ivory
Medium coverage with a natural finish. Lasted pretty well on my oily skin!
Repurchase? Maybe.

Tart emphasEYES Clay Liner in Brown
For months, this was my favourite brown liner. So creamy and pigmented, easy to smudge, yet wears true all day. Just dried out a bit before I could finish it.
Repurchase? Yes!

Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Aventure
I actually finished a lipstick! Whoop whoop! I was able to do it because it was a go-to in my office desk during internship last year. A perfect professional, but perky shade!
Repurchase? Yes!

Annabelle Stay Sharp Self Sharpening Waterproof Kohl Liner in Go Black
Super pigmented, very long-wearing, with minimal smudging. Plus the self-sharpening mechanism is so handy!
Repurchase? Likely!

Skin Care

Nuxe Reve de Miel Lip Moisturizing Stick
Unlike its famed version in the pot, this tube version was underwhelming. Felt quite waxy.
Repurchase? No.

Odacite Gentle Rejuvenating Cleanser
Milky and super gentle, yet not at all heavy. Leaves my skin feeling super clean without any stripping or irritation. Love this stuff! 
Repurchase? Already have!

Ren ClearCalm3 Clarifying Clay Cleanser
I've used and liked this stuff before- creamy, gentle, yet quite effective. But I find that my skin tends to like it less as the bottle progresses. Good for sensitive acne-prone skin, but not the best I've tried.
Repurchase? Probably not.

The Body Shop Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter x2
My new all-time favourite makeup remover. Feels rich and luxurious on the skin, yet emulsifies fully and rinses totally clean. Has never broken me out or irritated me. It's awesome!
Repurchase? Of course! 

Spectro Fragrance-Free Blemish Prone Skin Cleanser
This stuff totally saved my skin when it had an allergic reaction. It's so, so gentle, yet kept my skin clear and clean. The natural smell of the product is not so pleasant, but I can look past it cus it's so effective!
Repurchase? Next time my skin has a freak-out, yes!

Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micelle Solution
Unfortunately, I just did not like this cult product. I feel my skin always broke out after using it, even though it's designed to be ultra gentle. I finished it off by cleaning multiple lipstick swatches off my arms :)
Repurchase? No.

Spectro Acne Care Wash
This benzoyl peroxide cleanser helped to clear my skin earlier in the summer without too much stripping or irritation, but still harsher than I'd like from a cleanser.
Repurchase? No.

Odacite Baobab Sarsaparilla Serum Concentrate
Who knew sarsaparilla smelled so good?! One drop was more than enough to use for both eyes, so started using it as a neck moisturizer as well. Pleasant to use, but no visible effects.
Repurchase? No.

Odacite Jojoba Lavender Serum Concentrate
This has become one of my standout products of the year. Helps to keep my skin clear, calm, and even. Sometimes products with the simplest ingredients are the best!
Repurchase? Already have!

Odacite Wild Carrot Serum Concentrate
Totally beautiful, luxurious serum. Gave my skin a beautiful glow and left it wonderfully hydrated, while still being light enough to wear under makeup. Plus, it did not break me out one bit!
Repurchase? It's pricey, so not right away- but in the future, definitely! 

Bath and Hair

Dove Refresh+Care Invigorating Dry Shampoo
This did a decent job at refreshing my roots with minimal powdery residue and a pleasant, clean scent. Problem was, the effect didn't last the entire day, so by mid-afternoon my locks would be looking pretty limp.
Repurchase? No.

Ogx Nourishing Coconut Milk Shampoo
I love the conditioner counterpart, but I found the shampoo a bit underwhelming. Smelled great, but the texture was just not appealing.
Repurchase? No.

Ogx Hydrate+Defrizz Kukui Oil Conditioner
Nothing wrong with this conditioner, but nothing outstanding either. A decent budget option.
Repurchase? No.

Live Clean Exotic Nectar Argan Oil Restorative Conditioner
Again, not terrible, but nothing about it that makes me want to come back for more.
Repurchase? No.

Anotomicals Cocoa Body Cleanser
I enjoyed the cheeky packaging and although the scent was quite artificial, it was still sweet and pleasant to use.
Repurchase? Probably not, but I did enjoy it! 

Samples and Minis

Muji Cut Cotton Large
Not a sample or a mini, but made a nice backdrop for them. I absolutely LOVED these. They were super sturdy and ultra soft. Like little luxurious face towels, but ultra affordable.
Repurchase? Yes!

Tata Harper Hydrating Floral Essence
This is a lovely facial mist with a soothing floral scent and luxurious feel. Didn't irritate my skin, but didn't do anything spectacular either. If I'm going to splurge on a toner, I much prefer the May Lindstrom Jasmine Garden.
Purchase? No.

Pai Geranium and Thistle Balancing Day Cream
This little tube reminded me that this is my all-time favourite day cream (I finished a full size earlier this year). It is nourishing, but has never broken me out or left me oily. And it's so gentle!
Repurchase? Yes!

Kiehl's Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Masque
A very nice deep-cleansing mask that left my skin clean with minimal irritation. Really liked it, but I think more affordable options could do the same job.
Purchase? No.

Verso Day Cream
Was super curious about this brand, but was underwhelmed by this sample. Was heavier than face creams I normally use and it irritated my skin slightly.
Purchase? No.

Sunday Riley Bionic Anti-Aging Cream
Smelled like Fruit Loops, which I actually liked. The texture was lovely also, but after a few nights' use, I did not notice any visible results by morning time. For a pricey cream, I'd expect more!
Purchase? No.

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream
Left skin feeling wonderfully plumped and dewy, but is just not suitable for my oily skin type. Clogged my pores for sure.
Purchase? No.

Kiehl's Clearly Corrective White Deep Moisture Clarifying Cream
Some ingredients in this did not agree with my sensitive skin. Only used once and gave up on it.
Purchase? No.

Odacite Blueberry Jasmine Serum Concentrate
Beautiful scent and luxurious texture, but was too rich and heavy for my oily skin type.
Purchase? No.

Graydon Face Food Mist
A wonderful natural mist that really seemed to calm and lightly hydrate my skin. Nothing sexy about it, but it was effective!
Purchase? It's on my radar!

Montagne Jeunesse Chocolate Mask
It's always fun to smother a sweet, chocolate-like concoction on your face, but this really did nothing special for my skin.
Repurchase? No.

Charlotte Tilbury Goddess Mask
Quite a nice mask- leaves skin feeling deeply cleaned while still fresh and hydrated. A pleasure to use, but I don't think I could ever justify the $80 price tag.
Purchase? No.

The Body Shop Virgin Mojito Shower Gel
A perfect summery scent- very green, fresh, and uplifting. I enjoyed using it, but not the type of scent I'd usually reach for.
Purchase? No.

Phewf! That was ultra long, so I'll conclude by simply saying that I'm happy with everything I was able to finish this summer and I hope I tempted you with some of the standouts I found in the process!

Have a wonderful weekend! :)

Friday, 2 October 2015

The Natural Indie Vitamin C Serum That Has Me Obsessed

Hi, everyone! As a beauty blogger, I'm lucky enough to have companies reach out to me to test their products. That will never stop being cool! While part of me would like to accept each of these generous offers, it's also important that the brands and products I feature on this site are truly in line with my interests, passions, and preferences. When I was first contacted by Maple Holistics , I was somewhat skeptical as I had never heard of the line. But upon some investigation, I I pretty quickly decided that the brand's mission and ethics were a perfect fit for the blog. 

Maple Holistics offers a small, curated selection of skin and hair care products. The packaging is quite basic and may not tempt those who swoon over a luxe container, but the brand touts that what's inside the bottles is top-notch. They promise that all of their products are natural, pure, and of the highest quality. They claim that each ingredient is tested for potency and therapeutic effect and is subsequently stored to maintain this integrity. Maple Holistics is also a cruelty-free brand that solely uses vegan ingredients. Quite impressive!

After perusing the skin care options, the product I selected was the Vitamin C Anti-Aging Serum** (which you can find here). The serum promises collagen stimulation, the reversal of sun damage, reduced pigmentation, and diminished wrinkles. Sounds like a bold bunch of claims that are pervasive across the beauty industry, but this little serum has the ingredients to match!

It is a water-based serum that features anti-aging powerhouses like Vitamin C (of course), Ferulic Acid, and Retinyl Palmitate (a form of retinol). It also includes some lovely hydrating ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, algae extract, and aloe. 

The serum comes housed in a darkened glass bottle designed to protect the stability of the ingredients inside. The bottle dispenses the product with the help of a glass dropper- a packaging detail I always enjoy using! 

The serum itself is a lightweight, watery gel with a pale orange colour and no prominent fragrance. 

Given the title of this post, it's fair to say that I'm totally smitten with this serum! But why do I love it? Let me count the ways!

  • It feels wonderfully hydrating, yet absorbs nearly instantly without any hint of greasiness
  • Unlike many other vitamin C serums, this contains no irritating citrus ingredients; it has never left my sensitive skin feeling red or tingly
  • It mixes wonderfully with my facial oils (like my Antipodes Divine Oil) when I'm in a hurry and want to apply them together
  • It has never broken me out
  • When worn in the morning, my makeup applies easily over top; when applied at night, I always wake to calm, even skin
  • After three weeks of use, my skin is looking noticeably more even-toned and balanced
  • It is insanely affordable! Only $11.77 USD

Because of the super low price point and the fact that this has caused no redness or tingling in my skin whatsoever, I can only assume that the concentrations of active ingredients in the serum are not as high as other Vitamin C products on the market. But given that my skin is quite sensitive and is not dealing with advanced signs of aging, that is absolutely ok with me! 

Overall, everything about this serum has totally impressed me. It is absolutely perfect for my combination/oily, sensitive, prone to pigmentation skin type. The ingredients are impressive, I respect the ethics of the brand, and the price is right! I am so happy that I decided to give Maple Holistics a try.  You totally should too! :)

** This product was sent to me for consideration and review. All opinions expressed in this post are 100% authentic and my own! 

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Makeup of the Month | September: IMATS 2015 Haul!

Hi, everyone! If you saw my previous post, you'll know that the International Makeup Artist Trade Show (IMATS) rolled into Toronto this past weekend and I could not have been more excited. The show brought with it some amazing makeup demos, impressive special effects displays, and- of course- some fantastic shopping deals. Armed with a colour-coded vendor map and the knowledge I gained from last year's show, I tried to visit the booths as strategically as possible to avoid crazy crowds and to get first crack at items that tend to sell out quickly. This is what I came home with! 

Here's a peek at everything I bought all boxed up...

... and then everything open for business!

To delve in further, here are the specifics of everything I chose, including the vendors that sold them and the special show prices that enticed me!

Nigel Beauty Emporium
Nigel is a Hollywood-based retailer that boasts over 60 years of experience and an amazing mix of popular, cult, and makeup artist-driven brands. During last year's IMATS, I learned that Nigel was selling a limited amount of items from Too Faced, Anastasia, and Kevyn Aucoin that sold out super quickly. I was not going to miss the opportunity this time around, so Nigel was among my very first stops! Lo and behold, I quickly discovered a stack of Too Faced palettes that had been on my wishlist for ages. I ended up buying: 

Too Faced Semi-Sweet Chocolate Bar Palette (Show Price: $40 CAD, no tax; Retail: $59 CAD + tax)
I am a huge fan of the original Chocolate Bar Palette and had been eyeing up the sequel since its release. It offers a beautiful mix of shimmer and matte neutrals with a couple brights thrown in. Plus, it smells like chocolate!

Too Faced Sugar Pop Eye Shadow Collection (Show Price: $29 CAD, no tax; Retail: $45 CAD + tax)
This was a limited edition palette that left Sephora before I could make it mine. I was super smitten with the unique, vivid colours it included, just didn't snatch it up on time. When I spotted it at Nigel for this discounted price, it was a no-brainer! 

Makeup Mansion
Last year at IMATSMakeup Mansion's booth was totally swamped. I could see that they sold some of my favourite budget brands like Sleek and bh Cosmetics, but could not elbow my way through the crowds to make a purchase. This year, the Makeup Mansion display was not as centrally located and, as a result, had a much more manageable crowd. I took  my opportunity and picked up:

Sleek Makeup i-Divine Storm Palette ($16CAD- priced near retail, but tax-free and hard to find in Toronto)
I've yet to try Sleek's eye shadow palettes, but I've heard nothing but good things, especially given the affordable price point of the brand! I opted for the Storm Palette, which has a beautiful mix of shimmery, pigmented neutral and jewel tones. I'll be able to do so much with this one!

Sleek Makeup Powder Blush in Flushed ($8CAD)
I am a huge fan of Sleek blushes, so I couldn't resist picking up another. I hadn't tried any of their deeper-hued offerings, and given Fall is upon us, I thought it was about time! I selected Flushed, a warm, matte, tawny berry shade. 

Blur Makeup Room
I discovered Blur at last year's IMATS and have since visited their physical store here in Toronto. I stopped by their booth this year so hoping that they would be carrying O.C.C.'s new Ready To Wear Lip Tars (much easier to apply versions of their cult long-wear lip product) and I actually squealed when I spotted them! It was so, so difficult to narrow down my choices, but I ended up selecting two utterly unique shades that I knew I couldn't dupe with any other brand:

Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Ready-to-Wear Lip Tars in Technopagan and Sebastian (Show price: $15CAD + tax; Retail: $22CAD + tax)
I am a huge fan of O.C.C. Lip Tars for their extreme pigmentation and long-wear. The original packaging, with its squeeze tube and mini lip brush format, was a bit high maintenance though. The new RTW version offers a more traditional lip gloss-style tube with doe foot applicator that makes them so much more convenient! Technopagan is a killer metallic deep dark purple with blue pearl that has gotten rave reviews at every turn. Sebastian is a mid-tone plummy taupe that falls under the "slightly unflattering but oh-so-cool" category. 

I first succumbed to the Hakuhodo hype at last year's IMATS and was not disappointed- these brushes are top-notch! I am pretty full-up on face brushes at the moment and didn't have a big budget for brushes, but think I picked up the neatest-looking eye shadow brush I've seen!

Hakuhodo BJ125 Eye Shadow Brush Round and Angled (Show Price: $28CAD, no tax: Retail $27 USD + tax)
This natural fibre brush is medium-to-densely packed and has a unique angled head with a flat top. I chose it because I think it will work perfectly to apply and blend shadow to the crease and outer corners of the eye. My eyes are larger and this fits perfectly! 

After seeing a talk from Gregory Arlt, MAC's Director of Makeup Artistry, I immediately headed over the the MAC Pro booth, which was luckily much less chaotic than it had been earlier in the day. They did not have all of the products I was hoping for, but I still took advantage of the 20% off show discount and picked up: 

MAC Powder Blush Pro Palette Refill in Cantaloupe (Show price: $16.80CAD + tax; Retail: $21 CAD + tax)
I had asked about Margin blush, as this had been featured in the demo, the the sales associate said that they only had their Pro Blush offerings on hand. She listed the shades and when she got to Cantaloupe, my interest was piqued. After she swatched it, I was sold! Cantaloupe is a gorgeous warm, muted tawny peach with a slightly frosty finish. So up my alley!

MAC Eye Shadow Pro Palette Refill in Wedge (Show Price: $9.60CAD + tax; Retail: $12CAD + tax)
Wedge was featured prominently in Gregory Arlt's talk, as he used it to shade the model's eyes as well as to subtly sculpt and contour the nose. It's a versatile matte neutral mid-toned taupey beige that I know will get a ton of use! 

So there you have it! The beauty booty that I scored at this year's IMATS. I am thrilled with all of my picks and cannot wait to delve in. IMATS has been such an adventure the past two years and these goodies, along with the countless photos, tips, and memories, will be wonderful keepsakes. 

Do you have any of the makeup items I featured here? Have I tempted you? Have you ever attended an IMATS?

Thanks, as always, for stopping by! xo

Sunday, 27 September 2015

My Makeup Mothership: IMATS Toronto 2015!

Hi, everyone! If there's one annual tradition that fuels my inner makeup geek the most, it's the International Makeup Artist Trade Show, or IMATS. It's an epic makeup conference that offers amazing shopping deals, hard-to-find niche makeup brands, talks and demonstrations, and a huge punch of creativity. As someone who is incredibly interested in the artistry side of makeup (I'm not just a professional shopper!), IMATS fascinates me on many levels. Last year was my first trip to IMATS and I was beyond eager to attend this year. As is seemingly tradition, I had a terrible cold when I was there (still hacking up a lung, ugh), but I pushed through and made the very best of it! 

IMATS Toronto took place this past weekend, September 26-27 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. It filled up a spacious hall consisting of vendors, stages, and makeup chairs (plus a highly overpriced cafe, but I'll refrain from complaining about my $8 muffin too much). 

As my blogger status granted me a press pass this year (I'll never get over how exciting that is), I arrived at the centre early hoping for advanced admission. Unfortunately, they were being sticklers this year and held firm at their 9am doors open time. Luckily, a large group of fellow beauty bloggers had the same idea as me, so we hung out in anticipation together!

IMATS Hall before opening
Waiting (im)pateiently with Julie, Chelle, Zoe, and Nicole!
Proudly touting my press pass :)

When 9am struck, the media group (us bloggers included!) were the very first they sent to the doors. It was quite thrilling to get first crack at the makeup booths! I had a highlighted and labelled floor map of the vendors (did I mention I was a beauty nerd?) and my first stops were Frends Beauty and Nigel Beauty Emporium, as they feature harder-to-find brands at good prices and tend to run out of product early. While I was tempted by the Viseart palettes at Frends, it was the amazing Too Faced offers at Nigel that won me over. More on that in my next post where I review my haul!

After those first two stops, I gradually made it through the other vendors on my list. I am usually most excited to peek at the hard-core professional makeup artist brands like Kryolan:

... affordable, impossible to find in Toronto brands like Sleek:  

... and professional makeup brush brands like the uber luxurious Hakuhodo:

I was also eager to check out a few favourite brands that were new to the show this year, specifically BeneFit (who was offering an impressive 35% off, I just didn't need anything from them at the moment), Inglot (whose 10% discount didn't really entice me), and NYX (whose small, overly-crowded booth ended up being a turn-off). Still love these brands, just wasn't motivated to pounce this time around. I also stopped by Blur Makeup Room, a Toronto-based makeup artist supply store that I discovered at IMATS last year, whose selection of O.C.C. Lip Tars did indeed draw me in!

In addition to the shopping, IMATS features an incredible range of special effects makeup demonstrations, from ghoulish busts to ultra colourful body paint.  Here are some of my favourites from the day: 

Colourful shading at Mehron Cosmetics
Some incredibly life-like (death-like?) makeup busts

A glamorous, avante-garde makeup in progress at the MUFE Academy 
Colourful and smiling at Jordane Cosmetics
Rosy and pink at MAC Pro (lots of ladies- and gents- were fixated on this one ;)
Creating an Egyptian princess at Kryolan

After a few frenetic hours in the morning, all of us Canadian Beauty Blogger gals met up at the IMATS backdrop for some photo ops. Here I am with my IMATS power pose, followed by a shot of the 13 of us (a beauty baker's dozen!) who attended Saturday morning.  

After the photos, we snuck out into downtown Toronto for a lunch break. We walked up to the Elephant and Castle at King and Simcoe for some refueling food and drink. I opted for my favourite comfort food of mac and cheese, which was made extra zesty with the addition of jalapenos!  We were joined there by even more local beauty bloggers, which was an extra treat!

I was going to head back home after lunch, as my cough was really flaring up (apologies to all my beauty buddies who endured my hacking all day), but when Julie and Kaitlyn told me they were returning to see a talk from Gwen Stefani's makeup artist, I knew I could spare a couple more hours :)

The demonstration was actually the keynote talk of the day and was conducted by MAC Cosmetics' Director of Makeup Artistry Gregory Arlt. Arlt works with such high profile celebrities as Cher, Dita von Teese, and Katy Perry and is currently Gwen Stefani's makeup artist for The Voice. The talk was entitled "Unfiltered Beauty" and focused on how to create a fresh, undetectable makeup that looks just as flawless and natural in public as it does on the red carpet or on one's Instagram feed. He spoke about his goal of making clients look like "an A+ version of themselves" (rather than the overdone makeup looks that seem to be invading social media of late) and insisted that "perfect" makeup doesn't have to look artificial. 

Not only was Gregory funny, positive, and engaging, he provided some incredible, totally achievable, pro tips (that I have etched into my brain forever) and reminded me of some classic MAC products that have been lurking on my wishlist for over a decade. 

Of the tricks he shared, my favorites were to 1) mix foundation with a bit of facial oil for an ultra natural glow without sacrificing coverage, 2) always match foundation to the colour of one's neck and body (especially on the red carpet, weddings, and any day when skin will be showing) to avoid the nasty "floating head" look, 3) always apply eye shadow with eyes open, as this is how others will be viewing your makeup 90% of the time, and 4) apply bottom mascara first, as to avoid your top lash mascara smudging when looking up to coat your bottom lashes. All so handy! 

For the majority of the presentation, Gregory demonstrated a makeup look from scratch on the lovely model above and below. He created luminous skin with the help of MAC's Prep + Prime Essential Oils, Pro Longwear Nourishing Waterproof Foundation, Mineralize Skinfinish Natural powder mixed with Mineralize Skinfinish in Lightscapade, and a combination of Dame and Well Dressed blushes. He also added a touch of Motif eye shadow on the inner edges of the apples of the cheeks for some extra glow. On the eyes, he used Omega eye shadow for the brows, a mix of Shroom and Naked Lunch on the lids, Wedge eye shadow to shade the eyes and nose, Extended Play mascara, and Fluidline to create a subtle cat eye. For a modern, feminine lip, he used Lip Pencil in Rosy Rim layered with Dazzleglass in Baby Sparks mixed with Lustreglass in Love Nectar

Near the end of the talk, he brought out a second model and demonstrated how the "unfiltered" natural beauty look might translate to someone with a deeper skin tone. He added Margin blush to the apples of her cheeks with was a beautiful finishing touch. Also reminded me of how long I've wanted that shade- it's gorgeous! 

After the talk, I immediately shimmied over to the MAC Pro booth, who was offering a 20% discount and was noticeably less crowded than it had been late morning. They didn't have all of the items I was hoping for, but I walked away with a couple lovely products.

By this point, it was after 3pm and I decided it was finally time to give my cold-ridden body a rest. When I left the event mid-afternoon, the hall was still hustling and bustling. No rest for the beauty obsessed! 

Phewf! Just writing this post has tired me out again (cheers to you if you'd made it through!), but in the best kind of way. I'm so happy that I mustered my energy and made a pretty full day of IMATS on Saturday. It is such a fun, engaging, unique experience and I learned so much! 

I was also happy to bring home some amazing goodies that I scored for some impressive prices. I'll have a full haul post up in a couple days, but here's a sneak peek:

... and, as always, the icing on the cake was getting to spend time with my beauty blogger buddies. You gals make events like these extra special!

Have you ever attended IMATS? Does a conference like this pique your interest?

Have a fantastic week!