For as long as I've loved using beauty products, I've also loved hoarding them. In high school, I would spend my part-time job earnings almost solely on products, and I would fill various bags and cupboards with my goodies. Then, when I headed off to college, those products came with me, and my various young-adult apartments slowly filled with shelves and filing cabinets full of more, more, more.
I grew to find comfort in my massive collection, organized by product type but nevertheless overflowing and, quite frankly, unnecessarily large. Beauty writers and editors get sent a lot of product on a regular basis, and I wasn't testing or purging my product samples as often as I should have been. See: my old lipstick collection below.
But late last year, I decided it was time for a change. I knew the direction my life was heading in was causing me to feel totally plateaued, and so I set a mental deadline for myself: in the summer of 2016, I would move to England and finish the second half of my 20s with a clean slate.
Well, that mental deadline is now a very real deadline. I'm moving to London in July, and I moved out of my Toronto apartment at the end of May. So far I've sent nearly 10 garbage bags of clothing to thrift stores, I've sold off my furniture, and three large boxes of books and magazines have been taken from my front curb by very literate strangers.
But what about the beauty products? Ah, this has been the most surprisingly fun part of getting rid of things! While I'm sure the thought of saying goodbye to thousands of dollars worth of product is enough to send a chill down the spine of any xoVain reader, I can assure you it's been a very peaceful cleansing process.
First, I've been able to make a lot of my friends very, very happy. The looks of joy on their faces when they get a surprise bag chock full of Urban Decay and Shu Uemura helps me to feel a little less sad about saying goodbye to the safety blanket that was an IKEA drawer of 300 unused lipsticks. I also donated a box of around 100 near-new nail polishes to a makeup artist who had had her kit stolen last year, and her gratitude at being able to help rebuild her career was priceless.
Secondly, it feels really good to be left now with only products I really, truly love. Yes, there are the everyday staples, but there are still the fun, now-and-then smile-bringers too. Marie Kondo is definitely on to something when she preaches her minimalist manifesto. Being left with only the things that bring us joy feels so much better than being weighed down by countless items we only feel so-so about.
So what survived, you might ask? Well, here are all the makeup goodies coming across the Atlantic with me, and my reasons for keeping them.
I'll be honest here, this is probably the hardest category for me to pare down — I'm a concealer addict (as you'll see)! But I did manage to narrow it down to what I consider absolutely HG skin perfecters, all of which deserve their coveted spots in my collection.
- Sunday Riley Effortless Breathable Tinted Primer in Light: The base for my everyday look, this dewy formula evens out my skin tone with the smallest bit of product and helps my other makeup, like my arsenal of concealers, blushes and highlighters go on (and stay on) flawlessly.
- MAC Strobe Cream: This should probably go in the next category, but I use this as an allover illuminating base as opposed to a spot highlighter. Blended with tinted moisturizer or a foundation, it gives me the skin of a luminous android.
- RMS Un Cover-Up in 11: My go-to concealer, its creamy formula ensures my skin never looks dry or flaky, and the buildable coverage works perfectly to hide the redness around my nose and darkness under the eyes, or it can be sheered out for a full-on foundation look.
- Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer in SX02: For when I need to bring out the big guns, this little pot does not mess around. A pinprick-sized amount can cover the angriest of zits with a formula that sinks into and mimics skin, or you can mix it with moisturizer to create a custom foundation. As far as value goes, you really get the most bang for your buck here — a pot will last you AGES.
- NYX HD Photogenic Concealer Wand in Green: Sometimes my redness gets to be too much and I need to break out the correcting shades; this green formula is pigmented enough to block out any harsh red tones while still being silky and blendable, and I love its tiny price tag.
- Sephora Smoothing & Brightening Concealer in Radiant Rose: This is my knock-off version of Touche Eclat. I love it for brightening around the mouth and eyes or for dabbing on the dark spots that healed blemishes tend to leave behind.
Blush & Highligher
I look like a sad, sickly boy without blush, and I've been all about a perfect highlight since my junior-high days. Here are the products I rely on for a li'l boost-and-glow.
- MAC Powder Blush in Melba: Described as a "soft coral-peach" this matte blush is the perfect amount of "just-pinched" for my skin tone. It's my everyday, go-to shade.
- NARS Blush in Orgasm and Exhibit A: My going-out blushes, Orgasm is the peach-gold shimmer you either love or hate (I love it, obviously), and Exhibit A is a passionate, matte flame-red that gives me the '70s disco flush of my dreams.
- MAC Mineralize Skinfinish in Soft & Gentle: My face feels naked without a dusting of this "gilded peach bronze" on the tops of my cheekbones, down the bridge of my nose and along the edge of my upper lip. I love the warmth and light it brings to any look.
- RMS Living Luminizer: I've raved about this guy before and I'll love it forever for the dewy freshness it adds to my skin. Dabbed on to the high points of my face as a last step before going out, it guarantees my skin always looks like I've been downing green juice, even when the reality is more tequila-based.
- Kevyn Aucoin The Sculpting Powder in Medium: If there's anyone to trust when it comes to contouring, it's Kevyn's brand. This light-as-air matte sculpting powder has the right mix of brown and grey tones that truly mimic shadows as opposed to looking muddy or too fake tan-esque.
My eyes are always what I choose to focus on, and I feel like I can never have enough shadow shades, but I did my best to be tough on my collection and only keep my favourites. Along with the mood-boosting shades mentioned in this previous article, these are the products I'll definitely be packing for London.
- MAC Eye Shadow x15 Warm Neutral: As someone with green eyes, this palette is the perfect go-to for everyday shades that will make my eyes look their brightest. Ranging from soft champagnes and baby pinks to deep coppers and warm, rusty browns, I can define my eyes easily with this mix of matte, satin and metallic hues. Gingersnap (deep rosy-pink frost) and Amber Lights (peachy-brown with shimmer) get the most play as my favourite all-over lid picks.
- Tarte Tartelette Amazonian Clay Matte Eyeshadow Palette: I love this palette for its sheer versatility. The various matte shades can be used to sculpt and line eyes, but I also use the powders daily for filling in my brows and contouring my face. For anyone looking for a matte palette, this one is my top pick.
- Maybelline Master Precise Skinny Gel Pencil in Defining Black: With its 1.8mm micro tip, this inky black gel pencil gives perfectly precise application along the waterline and in-between lashes to create the perfect base for any cat-eye look.
- Charlotte Tilbury Luxury Eye Shadow Palette in The Dolce Vita: If I need to pack eyeshadow into a smaller makeup bag for a weekend trip, I always reach for this palette of four warm-leaning neutral shades. The champagne and warm brown hues are the perfect base for daytime, and the burgundy and glittery copper make for a dreamy smoky look that brings out the olive and golden tones in my eyes. The formula itself is silky and easy to blend, and the glitter adheres where you place it instead of falling all over the place.
- Eyeko Me & My Shadow Waterproof Shadow Liner in Quartz and Bronze: If I'm in a hurry and can't be effed, I'll grab these two sticks, layer and smudge them all over my lid and along the outer two-thirds of my lower lash line, and then do a bit of blending with the brush on the other end for a rosy-hued daytime smoky eye. In a pinch, I've even used Bronze to add a bit of contour to my cheekbones and the sides of my nose.
- Elizabeth Arden Grand Entrance Mascara: While I'm not picky about eyeliners, I am picky as hell about mascara. I hate most formulas and most brushes, but this one shimmied its way into my heart with its carbon-black formula that lengthens without being clumpy or drying, and a brush with a precision tip that can wiggle its way into even my short, stubby corner lashes. If you're looking for a new mascara to try, I can't recommend this one enough.
- Maybelline Eyestudio Brow Drama Eyebrow Mascara in Blonde: I fill in my brows with a mixture of matte shades from the Tartelette palette, and then to set them I love this soft brow gel. The pale grey-brown shade works nicely with my lightened brows without making them look pale, and the formula offers just the right amount of hold without ever making my brows look stiff or scary. If you're looking for fluffy, Olsen-twin brows, this is your product.
I'll admit, I'm not a huge lipstick wearer, but I still like to have options. I went from probably 300 tubes of lipstick and gloss to a small variety of favourites. Here are the standouts.
- Glossier Balm Dotcom in Original and Coconut: Most days, I just want balm, and this formula is my favourite. I get panicky when it's not in my bag. The original is what I usually tote around, and the vacation-y Coconut scent is great for cranky mornings.
- NARS Audacious Lipstick in Anita: I've written about this before, my ultimate "my lips, but better" shade. It's the perfect mix of rose and brown (a mildly "nipple"-y hue), offering the right amount of hydrating coverage on lips but also working beautifully as a cream blush in a pinch.
- Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Pillowtalk: Speaking of MLBB, this long-wearing lip liner matches Anita quite perfectly and gives my lips a more defined shape. Sometimes I'll just wear it on its own for a soft, plumped-up look.
- Ellis Faas Glazed Lips in L301 Ellis Red: Again, I'm not a huge lipstick wearer, so this balm-like blood-red glaze is perfect for days I want a shot of colour. It literally looks like blood when it oozes out of the bullet-styled applicator (and that was Faas' intention — everyone's blood is the same hue and her theory is it looks good on everyone), deep red with subtle rusty tones, but applied with a light hand it goes on sheer with a buildable pigment and a red-orange hue that brings out the green in my eyes and works nicely with the auburn tones in my hair. I'm hooked on this weirdo product.
- Besame Lipstick in 1931 - Carmine: If I'm going to wear lipstick, I want it to really steal the show, so I rely on super-pigmented poppy red-orange shades in creamy formulas. This one has become an ultimate favourite that looks fantastic with creamy skin and strong eyebrows. I wore it to a party at a castle a few months ago — fancy!
Phew. Now to figure out which perfumes will be coming with me. But that's another story.
- If you were to pack up and move to another country, which makeup must-haves would be stowed away in your checked luggage?
- Also, who wants to have an xoLondon meet-up late summer?!