Friday, September 27, 2013

The Key to a Good YouTube Channel

It's no secret that I'm a YouTube junkie (see my "Favorite YouTube Channels" page). I'm subscribed to tons of different channels pertaining to a wide variety of topics: most are beauty-related, of course, but I'm also keen on good vlog channels, cooking channels and even gaming channels! I do spend a lot of free time browsing my sub box, so I feel like I know what a "good" channel consists of, and I believe the main ingredient is authenticity.

The best YouTubers are the ones that stay true to themselves and have distinct personalities. They have creative ideas and are unique in their tutorials, rants, how-tos etc. If I feel like I've seen the same content once before, there's no way I'm subscribing. I was talking to my friend Tania the other day, and she was like, "How many NuMe and Million Dollar Tan reviews have you seen?!" And I died of laughter because it's SO TRUE. I think a YouTuber that is aware of their place on the website should know their peers enough to realize what has/has not been done before. 

That said, a good YouTuber is aware of what works and what does not. Relatability is a huge factor! You can very clearly tell when a YouTuber hired extra personnel to help them create their content. Sometimes it pays off, but many times it doesn't. See Michelle Phan, for example. My opinion is that her over-produced videos work. She established herself as a talented YouTube lady very early on and she has a huge following, which gives her the right to hire sfx specialists and professional camera-people. Yet, she knows when to tone it down and make a simple but polished video. 

On the other hand, take a look at Strawburry17. Less than 500k subs and she has interns and hired editors. Problem is, her audience is not growing. The rigid structure she created for her channel is too strict; she uploads daily and has a different theme for each day of the week. Her channel lacks fluidity because she sometimes misses upload days (duh - she's only human), but it becomes really noticeable since her videos are all overproduced. But then, take a look at JoeyGraceffa... He's had the same amount of exposure, I'd argue, and recently hit 2 million subs. All he does is vlog! With a vlogging camera! His personality is what carries his channel. I wish Meghan (S17) would take note because she has a lot of potential.

The reason I'm writing this post is because I recently came across a channel called "I Love Makeup." and it kills me how unaware of the audience they are. This is a typical example of external companies realizing the power of YouTube, and it's also a great example of what not to do on YouTube. The channel advertises Bobbi Brown makeup products and is basically an attempt to make the brand more relatable, but ultimately fails. It just comes off as one big, ongoing TV commercial. Their series are so contrived that I actually cringe when I watch. 

They have a show called "Grace's Faces" where DailyGrace ambushes her friends' houses with a makeup artist and shows them how to put on makeup. They know they'll get the views, since Grace's 2 million+ subscribers will flock to new content she's part of, but to me it comes off as forced. Hannah Hart does not wear makeup, nor does she have an interest in it. Grace Helbig actively makes fun of beauty gurus on her channel. It doesn't mesh well for me. 

Perhaps the cringiest series on this channel is "Haute Wheels"... I had to refrain from gagging when I watched this one. First of all, "HAUTE" is pronounced "OAT" not "HOT", so the pun is lacking. Second of all, this series is like a MTV reality stint that is badly scripted, and just an overall joke. The concept is this: everyday girls get the chance to have their makeup done in the backseat of a car. Literally. That's it. They tried to give it a James Bond feel. They tried to make it badass. Seatbelts? Nope. Applying mascara in a moving vehicle? Great thing to teach the kids! What's the point? Proving that the makeup artist is sooo talented that she can apply it in a moving car? Sure - that's what I look for when I come to YouTube to find a makeup tutorial. (Can you detect my seething sarcasm?)

The point I'm trying to make is that a grade-A, made-for-television YouTube channel cannot appear out of thin air. It must be earned. YouTube thrives when the content is DIY in nature. High quality equipment and awesome editing skills are embraced, but only when executed creatively. Trying to mimic television won't work, and that's what makes YouTube special.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

NOTD: L'Oreal "Now You See Me"

Hey everyone! Thought I would post this NOTD today to get myself psyched for the imminent L'Oreal sale that goes on in Montreal (which I'm crossing my fingers I get tickets to!). The reason I say this is because I picked this up at the last L'Oreal sale but never actually used it until recently. I guess I was waiting for the fall weather to kick in a little ;)

"Now You See Me" is this really beautiful wine red color that I think is great for fall. For reference, it's not quite as plum-brown as Essie's "Bahama Mama" (which I can't wait to put on, by the way). I used three coats in the above picture just to get it all smoothed out, but the consistency is good to work with, as are most L'Oreal nail polishes. Overall I'm really pleased I picked this up when I did because I foresee myself wearing it a couple more times throughout the season!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

That's a Wrap on Big Brother Season 15!

Hey everyone! So last night was the finale of Big Brother season 15, and I've got lots to say so I thought I'd write up a post :) If you haven't watched this season and plan to, or just haven't watched the finale, brace yourselves for spoilers.

I've been watching the entire season episode by episode, and keeping up with the live feeds on occasion. If you follow me on my personal Twitter account you'll know that I livetweeted the life out of this show - sorry if that annoyed you! - so I think it's safe to say I was pretty invested.

I guess the first thing we should talk about is the final three: Andy, Spencer and GinaMarie. Suffice it to say this trio made for a really lacklustre finale episode. Andy, the described "rat-floater" of the season, weasled his way into being the final HoH of the season, allowing him to have full control over the final 2. He chose to bring along GinaMarie, which was, at first, a surprising move. We all thought Spencer was his bud & the easiest to beat, but choosing GinaMarie proved to be a smart choice overall. Her speaking skills are subpar, to say the least, and in a test of eloquent question-answering skills, she basically bumbled and fumbled into oblivion. (Ragan Fox, former Big Brother contestant put it best in his tweet: "I'm just Ginuh Muh-ree. That's me. It's who I yam. Ginuh Muh-ree. Me. I yam Ginuh Muh-ree.")

But back to Andy - I have mixed feelings about the kid. On one hand, he played a tactical social game, making sure his every move was calculated, and he won competitions when he needed to (despite the fact that he found himself competing against two competition weaklings towards the end). On the other hand, he made tons of distasteful comments during his stay in the Big Brother house, many about gamemate Elissa and her family. Totally uncalled for and disrespectful. So, on a game level, he was a forerunner in comparison to his competition, but on a personal level, I have nothing but extreme dislike for the guy.

Spencer runs along the same lines as Andy. He was the floater of the season and never really made his mark, but he played a decent social game given his initial weakness as a social player. His original alliance, The Moving Company, tanked big time, and all its players were being picked off one by one, but somehow Spencer managed to gain the good graces of the houseguests and was able to save himself every week. He acquired the title of #1 houseguest in the history of Big Brother to escape the block so many times. While I do think there's some merit in that, it's mostly because he was viewed as extremely disposable, which is kind of sad. Similar to Andy, he made a lot of hurtful comments in the house - mostly sarcastic jabs at other players, referring to their race, sexuality, etc. And he threw around the word "cunt" like it ain't no thang. Although CBS did not portray him this way, there is no doubt that Spencer was highly misogynist and bigoted.

And finally, GinaMarie. The only credit I can give her is for when she split up McCranda during her HoH. She made the move that no one else was willing to make. If she had played this up in her final speech she might have won 500K. She proved to be strong during endurance competitions but was one of the weakest during puzzles/quizzes, and her only redeeming asset was her assertiveness and composure during her HoHs. Aside from these secluded moments, GinaMarie's outspoken nature is what sank her. Very clearly lacking education, GinaMarie was, in my opinion, second-worst in terms of spewing racial slurs and hateful comments. Most of these comments can be attributed to her ignorance, but it made her absolutely unbearable. Even her creepy obsession with Nick was eclipsed by her incessant diatribes against Candice (although, again, none were aired on TV).

To recap: Andy won the final HoH and took GinaMarie to the final 2, evicting Spencer. During crunch time, Andy (a public speaking professor) slayed GinaMarie in the question/answer period, and went on to win $500,000 on a 7-2 jury vote. GinaMarie came in second place, meaning she won $50,000 - a little saddening given she won't truly experience the blow of losing her job due to her racial bs. Additionally, Elissa won $25,000 and the title of America's Favorite Houseguest. I think her win was totally merited despite her relation to Rachel Reilly. Her composure and strong sense of self was a breath of fresh air.

One last point I'd like to discuss is about the post-game comments made by the houseguests in regards to them being called out on the crappy comments they made during the game. A lot of them got really defensive about it - retorting with phrases such as "I'm sorry if anyone was offended", "The comments were taken out of context", and my personal favorite thanks to Spencer: "I'm sorry if we gave Big Brother bad publicity". Basically, I think all the houseguests need a lesson on how to apologize. Diverting the blame to the affected party "I'm sorry if YOU were upset" does not offer up any remorse/regret whatsoever. I would love for just ONE of these sad, pathetic houseguests to take the onus for their behavior. In case anyone would like a more in-depth explanation of what I'm trying to say, check out this great and highly relevant video by YouTuber ChescaLeigh:

All in all, this season was bittersweet. I love watching Big Brother and will continue to do so, but many of the contestants were horrible people. That said, I'm sure CBS will assume the responsibility of engaging in a more rigorous casting period for future seasons. But for now, I'm glad this season is over. I found myself wishing we were back in season 11 watching Jessie Godderz. That's when you know it's bad.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Thoughts on TARGET Opening in Montreal

Hey everyone! On Monday night I was fortunate enough to be invited to the friends & family opening of Target in St. Dorothee (which is a suburb of Montreal). Personally, I don't think Montrealers know about the awesomeness that is Target since this is the first one to open in the Montreal area. As an avid haul-watcher and reader, I know Target is the place to be for inexpensive but awesome clothing, shoes, and beauty stuff!

I only had one hour to shop around but I figure I'd let you know what the highlights were. The one thing I really wanted to buy when I walked in was a pair of tall fall boots. Unfortunately their shoe section was not yet fully stocked, but they did have some really cute combat boots that I was considering.

Across from the shoe section was the clothing section. I was really happy to see they were carrying the Phillip Lim for Target collection - a good sign since I wasn't sure they would bring in the American lines. Although I didn't pick up anything from that collection (and since I didn't have much time to try stuff on), I found this thin black blazer I thought might be a good staple to own. It was $25.

Then, I stopped off in the incredible snack section. Tons of selection, including stuff you could never find anywhere else in Montreal. Lots of health-food, like chip alternatives, nuts, oats, etc. I picked up a packet of oat clusters for $3.99.

And now for the good stuff: the beauty section. I was crossing my fingers for some brands that aren't available in Quebec, and low-and-behold, they carry NYX, Pixi, and Sonia Kashuk (amongst others, I'm sure)! Not only was I happy to see the brands, but the price-points were comparable to the American ones. Nothing ridiculously more expensive than in the States! In fact, some of the brands also available at Pharmaprix/Walmart/etc were even cheaper I believe.

I picked up the Tigi S-Factor Smoothing Lusterizer Defrizzer & Detamer for $19. If I'm not mistaken I don't think I've seen it this cheap anywhere else. It's $35 on the Canadian Amazon (...LOL). I also bought a NYX lip gloss in "Beige" which is one I've heard lots of good things about. It was $4.99 and it smelled really good so I'm excited to try it! The only disappointing thing is that I didn't see any NYX blushes, oddly enough.

Overall I can't wait to start shopping at Target. I was a little rushed this time around but I'll go again sometime soon so I can do some better shopping & price comparisons. Do you guys love Target as much as I do!?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Happy Birthday Einstein!

Happy birthday to my littlest love, Einstein! I can't believe he's already seven years old, which is 49 in dog years - he's an old man :( He's the most annoying dog in the world: he barks at every leaf that rolls down the street and sniffs every blade of grass before doing his business, but I love him so much! Even though I'm his least favorite family member, he keeps me company on days off and watches Netflix with me and stares at me blankly when I complain about how much homework I have. It's wonderful. My little companion.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sephora "Give Me Some Lip" Review/Swatches

Hey everyone! I got some requests to review and post swatches of the Sephora "Give Me Some Lip" set that I featured in a recent haul. I've had the opportunity to wear just about every product in the set so I thought I'd finally share my opinions.

In general, I think this is a really great set. The value-for-money ratio is awesome, since you basically get 6 products for the price of one (albeit sample sizes). I do think the set is better suited for lighter-skinned ladies, because most of these products are quite light themselves (some too light for me even).

I'll start off with the only full-sized product in the set, the Tarte LipSurgence Lip Luster in "Glitzy". I would characterize this as a pale berry color with a slight shimmer. You can only really detect the shimmer up close, but I'm assuming that's what makes this a "lip luster". This is one of the best products in the set, hands down. I think the shade looks great with my skintone, the "crayon" applicator is super easy to use, and it makes my lips look really full and healthy.

Next, the Buxom Full-On Lip Polish in "Dolly". Let me start off by saying this is my favorite lip gloss of the entire set. The color is a smidge less "berry" than the Tarte one, but it has the same golden shimmer. This is the one product in the set that I truly feel gives me the whole "my lips but better" look. The Buxom lip glosses have a plumping effect, so if that bothers you then you won't like this. You can even see in the picture that my lips look a little more lumpy than the first one (that sounds so unflattering haha but it's not as noticeable in person). Also, the scent of this is really yummy - it smells like vanilla cake! I totally foresee buying the full-size version.

The Laura Mercier Lip Glace in "Bare Pink" is one of the lighter shades of the bunch. It's got more a peachy-pink tint than the previous two. I don't foresee myself using this one as much as the Tarte or Buxom, but it's still totally wearable. As you can see it blanks out my cupid's bow a little because it's a lot more similar to my skintone.

The infamous NARS "Turkish Delight"... I had high hopes for this. I really did, but unfortunately I won't be wearing this one at all. It's entirely too light and milky for my complexion. If you're a fan of the blanked out lip look, you might like this, but I hate the say it sits in the folds of my lips. I don't find it flattering at all. (I have to say it doesn't look entirely terrible in the photo but had I posted a full-face shot, you would have been disgusted LOL)

The only opaque lip color of the set is the Bite Beauty High Pigment Pencil in "Rhubarb". Although the shade is a little more on the brown side than I'd like, it's still a pretty lip color. It goes on smooth and is opaque with one swipe ("high pigment" is definitely an adequate description). The pencil itself is a bit fragile so be careful when applying it. I think it could work under lipstick or on its own.

From left-to-right: Bite lip pencil in "Rhubarb", Buxom lip gloss in "Dolly", Tarte LipSurgence in "Glitzy", NARS "Turkish Delight", Fresh Sugar Rose lip treatment, Laura Mercier lip gloss in "Bare Pink"
That concludes the review! Overall very pleased with this purchase (despite the mixup at checkout). Let me know in the comments which one is your favorite. :)

PS. how hard is it to take pictures of your lips?! Ugh haha

Saturday, September 7, 2013

NOTD: OPI "Haven't The Foggiest"

When the OPI San Francisco collection came out, I allowed myself to grab one of their new nail polishes. There were a few that I was eyeing but "Haven't The Foggiest" is the one I gravitated towards. Do I regret that choice? Somewhat. Let me explain.

I was looking for a silver foil, but instead I got a dark gray foil. Still lovely, just not what I was looking for. The color, to be exact, is described as "pewter" which reminds me of the pewter cauldron Harry had to buy for Hogwarts. Overall the application is really nice - these "foil" sorts of nail polishes tend to go on quite smoothly. I can see myself wearing this a lot during the winter time, but for now I'll stick to my plums and navy blues.

What do you think? Have you picked anything up from the OPI San Francisco collection?