Makeup Learning Curve

I wasn’t interested in make-up for a long time.

My small group of friends in high school didn’t used makeup; it was never on our radar and we were completely oblivious that it was something that others teenagers took interest in. When I went to university, I began to dabble in drugstore foundation and mascara. I’d use it to hide the fact that I’d turn bright red from having a single shot of vodka (this actually worked terribly as I did not apply foundation to my neck). The year I lived in South Korea, I played around with eyeshadow – egads, I was mostly attached to a stick of shimmery orange shadow – when I found a cheap and affordable brand called Face Shop, when it was completely unheard of in North America. Otherwise, I rarely did any makeup, save for Christmas parties or weddings.

About two years ago, I was determined to learn how to do a basic face. The story I told was that I needed to look professional as a substitute teacher as I prepared to move back into the teaching industry in Ontario. The bigger motivation, which I did not reveal, was that I was sick of people thinking I was 24 years old and treating me differently. I constantly had to mention that I’ve been teaching for 8 years and have leadership experience. What subsequently follows are looks of confusion and furrowed brows as they do the mental math and realize that I’m much older than they perceive me to be.

When I made the decision to learn how to apply makeup, I decided that I was going to do it properly. I did a lot of research into finding out which products were vegan and which were not.  I also read reviews on Sephora and tried to find high quality products. I would spend a couple of months focusing on one area at a time – how to contour or how to apply eyeliner – and practice consistently, watching YouTube tutorials and trying different techniques. By studying one area at a time, it didn’t feel quite so overwhelming and doing the application became more efficient and natural.

I’ve come a long way. I can do a basic face with a “I barely have makeup on” look in approximately 5 minutes. Given 10 minutes, I can glam it up just slightly. I’m comfortable enough now that photos I’ve posted on Instagram actually have gotten compliments from people who know me in real life and see me regularly. The last new thing I tried out was wearing lip colours for the first time in my life; I played around with Tarte lip stains in January, when I started online dating. I took a break from doing anything new, but last week, I finally brought a fluffy crease brush from Quo to work on the eye crease before applying eye shadow. It’s helped a bit but eyeshadow is pretty much something that everyone struggles with. I’ll keep working on eyeshadow but eventually I’d like to learn how to apply falsies.

If you want a simple tutorial on eyeshadow, check out this video. Enjoy!

Main tips from this video:

  • Use concealer to clean up the underside of your brow
  • Use a skintone powder to set your primer with it
  • Hold the brush away from the farrow so that you have less control of the brush; holding closer to the bristles will give you more control
  • Transition shades will help make it look more natural
  • Keep in the inner lid bright
  • Add eyeliner and/or false eyelashes to finish off the look

December Goals

Really didn’t focus too much on goals in December, and only really worked on a few. I ended up migrating some of the others to January instead:

Health and Fitness

  • Go rockclimbing 3 times (5/5): Twice in Kitchener and once with friends in Toronto. On all occasions, I just bouldered.
Finance and Auto
  • Use the parking brake (2/5): I tried as much as I could to always have the parking brake on but I didn’t always remember …
  • Find a good lipstick colour (5/5): Over the past two years, I’d been working on building a basic make-up set. Originally thinking of buying a Pacifica brand, but my wonderful sister actually ended up gifting me a large box set from Tarte* for Christmas/Winter Solstice. There are 8 sticks in total, but I threw one out as it had mould on it. I didn’t want to return it, get a new box and make unnecessary waste. I’m okay with having 7; it’s probably more than I can use anyway!

*Has beeswax, not vegan but I was okay with this. I buy a lot of Tarte products

Life Update

I haven’t been blogging as regularly as I used to. It’s likely because Cody and Instagram have become other platforms for microblogging. I’ve decided to take a break from those two platforms for a bit and refocus on writing here, where I can write longer passages with more thought and clarity.

Having said that, here are some life updates:

  • Professional Development: Right after returning from Goose Break in a snowstorm, I drove straight back down to Kingston, Ontario for the annual math conference run by OAME. I did my first presentation at an Ontario conference, which was attended by my mentor, T., and also a friend; it went well and I made a few new connections too. This conference is particularly important to me as I am often feeling demotivated at this time of year; the energy and excitement I get helps to reinvigorate my passion for teaching. Not only that, but I got to meet Gail Vaz-Oxlade, as she was one of our keynote speakers!IMG_20170512_222256882
  • Netflix: I’ve been obsessed with Call the Midwife lately.  I’m late in the game – the show is currently at season 9 – but I finally finished season 5 last week and am now scouring for torrents of season 6. There are very few shows that show such a wide range of amazing women and be able to present a variety of important and sensitive topics. No need to worry about the Bechdel test here.
  • School: Had another visit from Science Travels, which is the third or fourth year in a row. They are always graduate students from the University of Ottawa. I’m always happy to welcome a group of nerds and just have some fresh conversation. This keeps me busy for 4 days straight, as I end up picking them up at the airport, going out for dinner with them and showing them around the school. It was fun, as always, though I didn’t spend as much time with this group as I did in previous year. Also busy with Elephant Thoughts as a new crew of 3 is in and helping my Grade 10 and 11s with studying and examination prep.
  • Bullet journal: Still using my first #bujo since September. The black hardcover grid Peter Pauper Press journal has worked well. I use it regularly for my weekly tasks, although I’ve officially started working on my new Leuchtturm 1917 (~$20) and setting up the new layout. It might take a while, but I hope to transfer to using it daily by July.
  • Sharing financial advice: A couple of female friends have been inquiring about financial advice lately and I’ve been really happy to share. I’ve mainly been explaining the differences behind using your RRSPs and TFSAs for investing and teaching friends about roboadvisors and why they’re a great place to start.
  • Make-Up: I dropped a couple of hundred of dollars on make-up in the past year, with the goal of learning how to do the basics. I invested in good vegan products, such as Tarte. YouTube tutorials (free!) have helped me learn the process and I can do a winged liner decently with some basic contouring (although I often forget the nose). I decide I wouldn’t be spending anymore on make-up as I have what I need and don’t need to go down a slippery spending slope. During the break, I did indulge in just one more item, a blending brush for my liquid foundation (~$10) from eyes. lips. face at Shopper’s Drug Mart. It was starting to feel ghetto using my fingers to apply … I had been looking for a foundation brush and nearly put in an order with Sigma, but remembered that, as of last year, e.l.f. finally switched over from horse hair to synthetic fibres on their brushes.


Not So Vegan Make-up

While I was researching vegan make-up products on the internet, I found lots of blogs promoting the brand Physician`s Formula. This is an affordable drugstore brand of make-up that is available at Shopper`s Drug Mart, Rexall or Walmart. The vegan blogs I`ve read warned that some of their products have beeswax and carmine.

However, a lot of the information seems rather unclear. I inquired about my blush, which, when I purchased it, I had checked the ingredient list and didn`t remember seeing anything unusual. I`ve been using it for nearly two years now.

Last week, I decided to do a quick check. I sent an email and got this response:

Thank you for taking the time to contact Physicians Formula.  We appreciate you taking the time to contact us with your question.  Although we do not claim “vegan” we do not use animal bi-products in any  of our cosmetics. You will be happy to know that Physicians Formula does not conduct any tests, or commissions any outside facility to conduct tests that involve the use of animals

The safety of our products is established using such alternate methods as “in-vitro” testing, human clinical evaluations and human use-trials under the supervision of a Board Certified Dermatologist.

We hope this information was helpful.  We appreciate your interest in our products and hope to have the opportunity to be of service to you in the future.  For any  further inquiries please contact us at 1-800-227-0333 and one of our Consumer Relations associates will be happy to assist you.

I was pretty miffed that they would waste my time by copying and pasting a passage I had already read on the website! I wrote a complaint about the first email and got a second response.

The product is not consider vegan due to containing carmine.

Ok, great. So my blush is not even close to vegan. It’s made with carmine, which is basically squished bugs. I can’t say I’m a finicky person and having ingested gelatin accidentally, I wouldn’t pretend that I want to throw up just from finding that out. However, I just have no interest in using this anymore. I am annoyed with Physician’s Formula and the fact that they mark their products on their website as cruelty-free when they actually aren’t.


I also found another make-up blog that complained Physician’s Formula simply stopped responding to the blogger’s email. So I appreciate companies like Tarte and Urban Decay that are transparent and clearly mark their items as vegan. But this just reaffirms the headache of having to do all the research and figuring out what products are cruelty-free and which are not. Sighhhhh.

Maybe I should just buy from vegan companies, like 100% Pure**. It would make life soooo much easier.

Testing Out Vegan Make-up Products

Update: Found out that the blush is not vegan and is made with carmine. ARGH.

Since I dropped some big money on Sephora recently and am home alone for another weekend, I played around with my make-up this morning. I’ve got a good record at being TERRIBLE at make-up, so I need lots of practice. Here’s what I used this morning:

For application:

All the products I used today were completely vegan except my mascara from Lancome, whose parent company L’Oréal still tests on animals. I don’t know if the product is vegan itself, but I’ve never given a cent to Lancôme. This was my friend’s unused free samples which I nabbed a while ago. Eventually, I’ll buy a vegan mascara but I try hard not to create waste and just use up old products first, even if they weren’t cruelty-free.

As a vegetarian trying to be vegan, this is a reminder that many of us are trying to move in the right direction, so don’t be judgmental and rude if not everything we use isn’t vegan! This is progress for me in a lot of ways, so support others who are doing the same.

It’s gonna take a few years, but eventually I’d like to phase out the products from non-vegan companies (except Urban Decay, because they’re really moving in the right direction!). Like I said, it’d be wasteful to throw out products that I have. It’s too bad it’s such a headache to do all this research!!


Monthly Goals – August

  • Gold Medal Bodies (0/5): Was intending on starting the “shoulder opening sequence”, but I’ve not been working out or going to the gym. Mostly I’ve been focused on getting back into work. Will push this to September.
  • Go kayaking (0/5):  The weather has been terrible. Super cold for this time of year … I managed to get on the water only because my sister was out and I popped in for 10 minutes. Hopefully it’ll warm up in September.
  • Walk instead of driving everywhere (5/5):  Since reading Katy Bowman’s book, I’ve decided I really need to be a more mindful mover. It doesn’t makes sense that I do glute workouts without walking to work. I mean, your butt is what allows you to walk! Been doing pretty well with this goal since it’s been warm. We drove about twice a week in August. This might change as the weather gets colder.
  • Pillowless sleeping (5/5): I’m pretty comfortable sleeping without a pillow now. The only issue was that I was squirreling towards my boyfriend’s pillow in the middle of the night, but once I put a thin fleece blanket under my head, I stopped doing it. Ha!
Teaching / Job-Hunting
  • Get equipment for a teen yoga club (5/5): I’ve been wanting to do this for a couple of years now, but I finally did it! Purchased some reasonably priced yoga mats from Treadmill Factory in at the flagship store in Markham, Ontario. So far, I’ve only run one session, but hopefully, I can get the club going once a week. There’s definitely some interest in the younger high school students. I also did some meditation with my students earlier this week!
  • Purchase new vegan make-up products (5/5): It took me 3.5 hours of research one day to figure out what was vegan and what was not. But now that I have a general sense of what’s out there, it’ll be much easier to buy products in the future. I gotta step up my make-up game if I’m going to be leaving the north, networking and going job-hunting. Applying make-up is generally slow and stressful for me, so the only way to overcome that will be practice, practice, practice. Been watching a lot of YouTube videos lately and trying to learn. It’s definitely intimidating in the beginning when you don’t know too much yet. Here’s a picture of my haul.


Media / Books
  • Podcasting (4/5): Yup, I’m back on podcasting. I’ve binged through about 8 or 9 episodes of Katy Bowman’s Katy Says  series. Really glad I got the app PocketCasts. It’s much better than the default podcasting app on iOS.
  • Learn a new stitch (5/5): I learned how to double crochet! But I stayed up for 5 hours straight and got knots in my shoulders from doing so …
  • Read regularly (/5): Finish Katy Bowman’s Move Your DNA* and also Sarah Silverman’s book. Been reading a few kids’ books too, as well as some graphic novels.



  • Cancel YogaGlo (5/5): Really enjoyed a bit of change doing so many Kathryn Budig classes, but ahhhh it’s back to using the classes I’ve purchased off of Cody.
  • Stop buying Cody plans (0/5): Yeah, I suck at this. I caved and bought two nutrition plans because there was a 30% coupon code. Hey, at least I use my plans!
  • Balance out expenses (3/5): The Honda CRV is my vehicle. It’s the biggest purchase I’ve ever made. I’ve not asked the boyfriend to put much money in, but since he’s off on vacation with the car, I’ve asked him this time to swap the winters on, get a tune-up and pay for a full detailing.

*I really fell in love with this book. Natural movement and biomechanics is so interesting! Might have to buy a few copies as Christmas presents.