Filed In: Illamasqua

Illamasqua – Facet Nail Varnish (Sacred Hour Collection)

Illamasqua Facet opener


Some things are just meant to be; when I happened to step into the Illamasqua boutique at the downtown Montréal Hudson’s Bay store a few weeks ago, I was checking out the brand’s latest collection – Sacred Hour – and I naturally gravitated towards this one particular shade: Facet. Gorgeous, unique, like nothing I own in my vast collection of lacquers, limited edition … and so totally sold out. Insert major sad face here. But happily, I was able to order it online through The Bay’s website – free shipping too!

Illamasqua Facet

Illamasqua – Facet Nail Varnish

Illamasqua Facet 2

Facet (CAD $17.00/15 ml) – a muted grey base with mauve undertones in a mid-sheer formula, filled with irregularly shaped bronze shards as well as sparser pink & green flecks. As with every other Illamasqua lacquer I own, the flow and density was spot-on perfect, applying in a self-levelling way and becoming fully opaque by the second coat. This odd combination of colours (grey with antiqued gold) in theory shouldn’t work at all — but for some reason here, it just DOES. Depending on the light and your angle, this shade might pull deeper grey then morph into a bronzite hue, but no matter which colour it appears, there’s this eerie murky effect that’s prevalent – almost as though it’s being viewed through a veil. With a gorgeously glossy shine at the finish and bearing an easy removal, this shade is pure LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. Coats applied: 2, plus top coat

Illamasqua Facet 3

Illamasqua – Facet Nail Varnish

Illamasqua Facet swatch

Illamasqua – Facet Nail Varnish

Illamasqua Facet swatch 2

Illamasqua – Facet Nail Varnish

Illamasqua Facet swatch 3

Illamasqua – Facet Nail Varnish (detail)

Illamasqua Facet swatch 4

Illamasqua – Facet Nail Varnish

Illamasqua Facet swatch 5

Illamasqua – Facet Nail Varnish


I couldn’t be happier that I was able to add ‘Facet’ to my collection – not because this shade is a limited edition item, but because of how incredibly unique it is in terms of colour — something that’s becoming harder and harder to accomplish in the already overcrowded world of nail polish. That the formula is perfection, is just the icing on this cake. Oh yeah … us Canadians don’t have to be gouged by Sephora’s inflated prices on this brand anymore, since one can now purchase Illamasqua products through The Bay (in-store Illamasqua boutiques at select stores, or online). Sweet, very sweet.

I ordered Facet through The Bay online.

Illamasqua Facet closer


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Illamasqua – Limited Edition Nail Varnish in Gothiqua, 3rd Blog-Aversary special



Three years ago today, I began this blog – little realizing at the time what that undertaking really meant, or what direction this adventure would take me. You might think that the best part of being a beauty blogger, would be the perks (product samples) and invites (press/media launches), and while those are definitely totally amazing, I feel that the best part is actually the connections I’ve made with like-minded souls from all over the world, and the opportunity to have a constant & ongoing discussion about this passion we all share: beauty products.

So, here’s to going where no other beauty blogger has gone before! (*shameless & cheesy Star Trek rip-off)

I raise a glass makeup brush to you all & send giant panda hugs your way – thanks for sticking it out with me! 


Illamasqua Gothiqua opener


Everything happens for a reason – or at least, that’s a theory I’ve always subscribed to. Take for example, the polish featured in today’s post; I had sort of forgotten that Illamasqua products had finally become available at The Bay here in Canada, and last Saturday when I was at the Montréal downtown store for an exclusive interview with Rebecca Restrepo, Global Makeup Artist for Elizabeth Arden (full post coming soon!), I passed the newly opened Illamasqua boutique there, and stopped to take a quick look.

The varnish that I initially wanted from the new collection (Facet from Sacred Hour) was sold out, and as I turned to leave the store, the SA pointed out something even better: a limited edition colour – a shade made specifically for and exclusive to the brand’s launch at The Bay – AND part of the new Sacred Hour Collection, no less. I didn’t even blink — just forked over the cash and raced out of the store like a mad woman.

Moral of the story: never look a gift opportunity in the mouth (seriously weird expression) – had I not been invited to THAT particular store for THAT particular interview, I probably wouldn’t have even known this shade existed, let alone how unique it was — and absolutely perfect to celebrate my blog’s 3rd birthday with!

See? Everything happens for a reason …


Illamasqua Gothiqua

Gothiqua (CAD $17.00  15 ml/0.5 gl. oz) – a deep eggplant shade with a grape/purple base and blueish undertones in a medium opaque formula and filled with fairy dust. No, not really … but it might as well be; the inner shimmer flashes a luminous green, blue, silver, pink and some random red specks, but it is so finely ground that it only makes a sly appearance in direct sunlight or under bright light. Otherwise, it stays pretty much in the background, although it does lend this colour a beautiful depth of tone just the same.

True to Illamasqua form, the flow is ultra-creamy and self-levelling, making application ridiculously easy, while the finish at the end is nothing short of glass-like. As this beauty quite pigmented, I wouldn’t skip base coat – but I didn’t find it to be staining. Coats applied: 2, plus top coat


Illamasqua Gothiqua 2

Illamasqua – Gothiqua

Illamasqua Gothiqua 3

Illamasqua – Gothiqua

Illamasqua Gothiqua macro

Illamasqua – Gothiqua

Illamasqua Gothiqua swatch

Illamasqua – Gothiqua

Illamasqua Gothiqua swatch 2

Illamasqua – Gothiqua

Illmasqua Gothiqua swatch macro

Illamasqua – Gothiqua

Illamasqua Gothiqua swatch 3

Illamasqua – Gothiqua


That this shade is drop-dead gorgeous, is undisputed, but the sad part is that it’s not only limited edition (boo) but available ONLY in Canada and ONLY at The Bay stores with an Illamasqua boutique (double boo). On the plus side AND for Canadians, this shade is available online through The Bay’s website – useful if you don’t have a flagship store nearby. Truthfully, as far as uniqueness factor goes, I’m fairly certain that I have a few bottles in my stash that could probably come close, but as I’m in the middle of re-organizing my personal collection, a comparison will have to wait. Still, it’s good to know that while those of you outside of Canada may not be able to get your hands on this baby, you just might already own something similar. That’s something positive, right?


Illamasqua Gothiqua closer

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Illamasqua – Speckled Nail Varnish in Mottle

Illamasqua Mottle opener


Brand new for Spring 2013, Illamasqua introduces a unique new finish in their lacquer lineup released in conjunction with their latest “I’m Perfection” Collection – 5 new shades of Speckled Varnish, meant to mimic the speckled look of bird eggs and all of their imperfect beauty, as found in nature. Of the 5, I was most drawn to ‘Mottle’ –  I love the way the glitter pieces seem to paradoxically stand out and also stay just out of reach, from their seafoam green background, although I confess to having my eye on a few more of these shades – time for another shopping trip, I think.


Illamasqua Mottle newer

Illamasqua – Mottle

Illamasqua Mottle macro newer

Illamasqua Speckled Nail Varnish in Mottle – (CAD $18.00 15 ml/0.5 fl.oz) a milky mint green base filled with ultra fine black glitter as well as black hexagonal glitter pieces in small & medium sizes. With a superb flow and a perfect viscosity to the formula, application was effortless, completely self-levelling, and glossy enough at the finish to make top coat basically redundant – but don’t skip that step nonetheless. Each brush stroke yields a healthy and fairly equal amount of glitter & colour, so no extra “fishing” or placement is needed, although keep in mind that this look is all about “nature” and meant to be slightly imbalanced. I was surprised to find the end result smooth to the touch, as I was expecting a lacquer with this much going on to be rather bumpy – so not the case here. Absolutely loving its diffused/filtered look, as though the glitter has risen from the bottom to come just shy of the surface – totally fascinating. Bonus: fairly easy removal. Coats applied: 3 (thin – mainly for pictures, as 2 coats provides more than adequate coverage), plus top coat.


Illamasqua Mottle swatch

Illamasqua – Mottle


Illamasqua Mottle swatch 2

Illamasqua – Mottle


Illamasqua Mottle swatch macro

Illamasqua – Mottle


Illamasqua Mottle swatch 3

Illamasqua – Mottle


Final thoughts: With all the different types of polishes and finishes that I’ve worn, ‘Mottle’ is the one that made me stare the longest at my nails. There’s a uniqueness to this finish, that I feel elevates it beyond the usual standard glitter polish; understated and almost organic in feel, all the components are in place for something truly special – from the formula, the colour, to the final finish. Then there’s that whole mint-chocolate ice cream vibe it’s got … the final & irresistible push.

Illamasqua varnishes are available through Sephora – I purchased mine in store.


Illamasqua Mottle closer newer

The ommorphia Beauty Vault: Highlighters – creams, powders & hybrids

Highlighters - opener


When I began the process of inventorying & sorting my cosmetics collection, I assumed the highlighter category would be a relatively short write-up, but a quick scroll through the photos in this post, clearly shows how wrong that thinking was. Indulging and using highlighters is a rather new fascination for me, and I’ve come to rely on a well-placed dab of this product to add that little extra something to my finished look. Like emphasizing the killer cheekbones I wish I was born with. If only.

While many of the products shown in this post are no longer available, you can use the information provided as a general guide for your future highlighter purchases.

Highlighters - creams

The Creams (and one liquid) – all by MAC, only Shell (far right) is part of the permanent range, as well as the most neutral of this group. The 3 shown here impart the most colour, as far as highlighters go, as well as the highest level of shimmer/sparkle. Easiest format for blending, the warmth of your fingers helps these creams glide seamlessly along the skin – with the liquid applying in an even more effortless manner.

Highlighters - Creams 2

Bearing less pigmentation than the above cream highlighters, the 2 shown here share a similar nude base, although their application and final look is completely unique.

Highlighters - creams swatches

The breakdown:

  • NARS Copacabana Multiple – the only one in stick format, coolest leaning and more silvery with apparent ultra-fine shimmer
  • Illamasqua Gleam in Aurora (reviewed here) – the creamiest & sheerest of them all, champagne toned, most subtle gleam
  • MAC Shell Cream Colour Base – drier texture, pale silvery-pink iridescence
  • MAC Playmate Pink Glitter Cream (2003 MAC for Playboy Collection) – driest texture, deeper pink hue with visible large golden sparkle
  • MAC Sun Rush Lustre Drops (2010 To the Beach Collection) – highest gleam but easiest to blend, a deep golden/copper tone

Highlighters - pink powders

The Powders (pink hued) – what binds the three of this group together, is that they all share varying levels of pink in their base, which serves to bring a fresh & youthful flush to the skin.

Highlighters - pink powders swatch

The breakdown:

  • Laura Mercier Rose Rendezvous (reviewed here) – the deepest pigmentation and shine factor, ultra-finely milled powder, most coppery
  • Guerlain Cruel Gardenia (reviewed here) – the softest powder with more of a rose-gold tone, sophisticated gleam
  • Guerlain Perles du Paradis (full review forthcoming) – palest, sheerest and slightly pink-tinged, superior blending capacity

Highlighters - neutral powders

The Powders (neutral/gold hued) – with some light tan hints in this grouping, along with a few gilded touches, these all share a more easily wearable gleam.

Highlighters - neutral powders swatch

The breakdown:

  • CHANEL Poudre Lumière Sculptée (2011 Holiday Collection, reviewed here) – the palest toned, most subtle glow, slightly powdery
  • CHANEL Lumière d’Artifices Beiges (2012 Fall Collection, reviewed here) – most flesh toned, finely milled, subtle shimmery glow
  • MAC By Candelight Mineralize Skinfinish (2009 Warm & Cozy Collection) – most visible shimmer, drier texture, hints of rose
  • Giorgio Armani Madreperla Face Palette (2011 Holiday Collection, reviewed here) – most golden, dry but ultra-fine texture

Chanel Illuminating Powder

Poudre Signée de Chanel Illuminating Powder (Spring 2013 Collection) has just recently joined my collection, so it hasn’t been fully reviewed yet, but from initial wearing, it imparts an absolutely amazing glow to the skin, exceptionally fine-milled and with subtle golden hints – no visible sparkle. Full review to follow.

Highlighter-Blush hybrids

The Highlighter/Blush Hybrids – some products seem to straddle the line between purposes; looking like blush but with definitive highlighter overtones, these impart both colour and a gleam – you just need to use a lighter hand in application.

Note that the two decorative MAC products shown were not swatched; I still haven’t been able to bring myself to use them (apart from a tiny touch on one of the palettes) – sounds crazy, but there you have it.

Highlighter-Blush hybrids swatch

The breakdown:

  • NARS Orgasm Multiple – creamy finish, most easily blended, peach toned
  • MAC Stereo Rose Mineralize Skinfinish – subtle shimmer, fine-milled, rose-gold overall tone
  • MAC Marine Life High-Light Powder (2010 To The Beach Collection) – most intense pigmentation, gold only an overspray
  • MAC My Paradise Cheek Powder (2011 Surf, Baby! Collection) – most coral hued with a light golden layer (mainly overspray)

Highlighters - face powders

The Face Powders – I’ve included these 4 powders in this category, primarily because they each bear too much colour to be used as true face powders of the type meant to invisibly set your look – but rather impart a lightly diffused tone to the skin when applied, more sheen than shimmer.

Highlighters - face powders swatch

The breakdown:

  • CHANEL Rose Merveille Poudre Universelle (2011 Spring Collection) – most visible shimmer of the group, but still quite subdued
  • Shu Uemura Luring Powder in Rose (2008 Fall Collection) – deepest tone, some powdery kickback, softest texture of all reviewed
  • MAC Tahitian Sand Beauty Powder (2009 Hello Kitty Collection) – most neutral toned, drier texture
  • MAC Alpha Girl Beauty Powder (2008 Heatherette Collection) – pink tinged and cool leaning, drier texture


Final thoughts: When I purchased MAC’s Playmate Pink Glitter Cream (from the Playboy Collection) back in 2003, I had absolutely no idea how to use it properly, and so it’s lain languishing in an obscure corner, almost forgotten until I began preparing for this post. My next “real” highlighter was the Copacabana Multiple from NARS, mainly because I had heard/read so many makeup artists raving about it and therefore I added that to my makeup collection as well.

Fast forward a few years later, and while I’m amazed at how many highlighters I presently own, I’ve also realized how much I have come to rely on them, from layering under foundation to provide a luminous “lit-from-within” kind of glow – a great way to wear this product during the day, to adding drama to my upper cheekbones for deeper impact on an evening look, or an overall lightly diffused sheen to provide radiance. And thus, the addiction to highlighters is born …

Highlighters - closer




*Disclosure: Some products provided by the company/PR for my unbiased consideration

Urban Outfitters Nail Lacquer ‘Voodoo’ & ‘Spicy’

UO Spicy & Voodoo (opener)


Even when I’m not actively shopping for cosmetics and/or nail varnish, I seem to be tuned in to that particular beauty frequency just the same. This past weekend while hunting down some Christmas presents at Urban Outfitters, I came upon one of 2 large colourful displays of the store’s in-house range of nail polish. First, I was amazed to see so many stunning shades (several of which look suspiciously like Deborah Lippmann knock-offs) then I glanced at the prices listed and could not believe my eyes: 2 polishes for CAD $8.00. What? Naturally, I scooped up a couple!

All swatches are with base and top coats.

UO Nail polish display & table

Urban Outfitters nail polish display with table

OU Spicy & Voodoo


While there were several lacquers that caught my eye, I wound up with ‘Voodoo’ – primarily for its sexy gunmetal hue, as well as its name, along with ‘Spicy’ – primarily for its insanely sculptural glitter.

If you follow me on twitter and/or Instagram (and you better have a good reason if you’re not!), then you know I listed ‘Spicy’ as a “bugle bead” type of glitter. I was asked by several readers if this wasn’t a curved/warped glitter, but as I had no idea what that was, I said no. Based on what my eyes see when looking at the bottle, the particles look exactly like tiny glass bugle beads, but upon swatching and then enlarging the photos to edit, I realized that my observant readers were not only right, but so much more up on the latest glitter trends than I am: the pieces in ‘Spicy’ are definitely a curved type of glitter. And then some.

OU Voodoo


Voodoo (CAD $6.00 15 ml/0.5 fl.oz) – semi sheer with a medium thick viscosity, this complex colour mix of taupe, gunmetal and pewter with its underlying mauve tones, is filled with pulverized blue, pink, green, and silver ultra-fine pearly shimmer. The formula is a bit tricky to work with; while it applies in a self-levelling way and finishes with a brilliant gleam, you need a steady hand in application and not break the flow of the polish, or you could end up with bald patches. Coats applied: 3 (thin)

UO Voodoo swatch

Urban Outfitters ‘Voodoo’

UO Voodoo swatch 2

Urban Outfitters ‘Voodoo’

UO Spicy


Spicy (CAD $6.00 15 ml/0.5 fl.oz) – a clear base filled with ultra-vivid purple large hexagonal glitter pieces, some that lie flat while others curve for a more sculptural appearance – which made me initially believe that they were bugle beads. Stunning glossy shine, the finish is obviously rather gritty to the touch and benefits from a thicker type of top coat (or minimum 2 layers of your usual top coat). Removal was surprisingly easy, which I totally did not expect. The following is one coat of ‘Spicy’ over ‘Voodoo’.


I found it easiest to add a “blob” of polish onto the nail, then I swooshed it around with the brush for best glitter dispersal & placement. Applying it this way proved quite effortless and you’re guaranteed a healthy amount of glitter with each application.

UO Spicy over Voodoo swatch

Urban Outfitters ‘Spicy’ over ‘Voodoo’

UO Spicy over Voodoo swatch 2

Urban Outfitters ‘Spicy’ over ‘Voodoo’

UO Spicy & Illamasqua Prosperity


I was curious to see if ‘Spicy’s’ glitter would be as glamorous when it was tone on tone – as opposed to applying it over a contrasting hue such as ‘Voodoo’, so I opted to apply one coat over Illamasqua’s ‘Prosperity’ from the Rubber Brights collection (previously reviewed here). The following swatches are with one layer of top coat added.

UO Spicy over Illamasqua Prosperity swatch

Urban Outfitters ‘Spicy’ over Illamasqua ‘Prosperity’

UO Spicy over Illamasqua Prosperity swatch 2

Urban Outfitters ‘Spicy’ over Illamasqua ‘Prosperity’


Final thoughts:  While I tend to stick to brands I’m more familiar with, I’m glad I took a chance on these two; the square glass bottle shape is of a good heft & feel, with a nicely tapered long and flexible brush. There’s a small label on the underside of the bottle that you can peel back for all ingredients, but that’s as much information as you’ll get on this brand – no fancy label. Application was different than what I’m used to as well, but ended up being rather easy after all. At CAD $6.00 per bottle or 2 for $8.00, I find that these polishes are definitely worth the time to give them a shot. It doesn’t hurt that they’re both guaranteed to get your nails stared at!

Available through Urban Outfitters.

OU Spicy & Voodoo (closer)




*Disclaimer: Some products provided by the company/PR for my unbiased consideration