Saturday, June 1, 2013

Mountain Ocean - Coconut Skin Trip

I randomly stumbled across this during one of my Whole Foods skincare forays. I was picking up, sniffing and putting down one product after another (as you do) when I got to this one. And I just couldn't put it down.

I usually find coconut- and pineapple-scented products to be overly sweet and fake smelling, so I usually avoid them. But this... it's like bottled coconuts with just a hint of sweetness over top, and it's intoxicating.

Of course, a delicious scent isn't all you want in a body cream. You also want it to, you know, moisturize. The good news is that this does that as well. I don't like really heavy, greasy or sticky creams - this is none of those things. It absorbs quickly, leaves skin feeling soft, and the scent lingers but isn't too overpowering. According to the website:

"This extremely fast absorbing, non-greasy formula soothes, protects and quickly replenishes needed moisture to dry skin. Blended with Coconut Oil, Aloe Vera, and Lanolin, Skin Trip gives your skin the nutrients it needs and effectively reduces the natural evaporation of moisture from your skin. pH Balanced. Perfect After Sun, After Shower, After Shave, Anytime."

It's not heavy enough for really dry skin like hands, feet and elbows, but for general all-over moisture, it's great. I also find that I love this in summer. Perhaps it's because I first bought it in summer so it has warm and balmy associations for me, but whatever the reason it is great for the sunny months.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Origins - Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask

 After receiving a bunch of Origins deluxe samples as a 500-point perk from Sephora, I fell in love with the brand. (You  may remember my rave review of Checks and Balances Foaming Cleanser.) It helped that I kept hearing about various Origins products from YouTube beauty bloggers. Tanya Burr mentions Ginzing Eye Cream in one of her faves videos, Lily Pebbles is a huge fan of Drink Up (see one of her many reviews of it here), and someone (I can't remember who, but possibly Kate from Gh0stparties) mentioned this mask.

First impression? The dark grey colour is quite alarming. But being ever the intrepid beauty blogger, I decided to give it a go.

In practice, the colour isn't any better when applied to the face. It makes me look like I've fallen head first into a volcanic mud puddle. I'm pretty sure that if an intruder broke in and stumbled across me with this mask on, they'd me more scared than I would.But despite the less-than-appealing look of the mask itself, you can't argue with the results. Here's what the Origins website has to say about it:

"When environmental toxins, dirt and debris get under your skin, its waste-filtering system gets jammed, pores get clogged, skin looks cloudy. Nature's complexion clean-up crew gets to the bottom of skins overcast condition and clears the way for it to act its best. Activated Charcoal acts like a magnet to draw out deep-dwelling pore-cloggers, White China Clay absorbs environmental toxins, Lecithin dissolves impurities."

Sounds about right. It leaves skin feeling refreshed, deeply cleaned-out and brightened, but without making it dry or irritated. I find that it helps my skin re-balance whenever it's having a rough week. I use it every week or so - whenever my skin needs a bit of deeper cleaning. 

Pro tip: The instructions say "open pores with warm, moist towel" before applying. Though it's tempting to skip this step, don't. It actually does make a difference - the first time I used it I didn't bother. The mask was still awesome and left my skin feeling great, but the second time I followed the instructions exactly and it was even better!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Bliss - Super Minty Body Butter

I think I'm in love. I actually found this in Winners, of all random places, and when I smelled it I just couldn't put it down. It's minty, no doubt about that, but not that intense, bitter mint. More of a subtle, sweet mint.I'm guessing there's a bit of vanilla in there too.

The consistency is thick, since it's a butter. It's a little hard to get out of the tube, but once it's out it melts beautifully into the skin and, surprisingly, doesn't leave as much of a greasy residue as I expected. I love the scent and it lingers on the skin -but it isn't overwhelming, nor does it seem to come off on anything I touch like some scented products.

This is great to use straight out of the bath when you're having one of those days and just need something a bit extra special. I also love using it as an intense foot lotion and find it does a great job of really moisturizing feet that need a bit of TLC.

It's limited edition, so you need to get it while you can! The only place I've found it other than Winners (I haven't seen it there again since purchasing it) is Feel Unique - it's part of a set on there. I'll be reviewing the accompanying Soapy Suds Body Wash + Bubbling Bath shortly!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Sleek - Oh So Special Palette (658)

L-R Top Row: Bow, Organza, Ribbon, Gift Basket, Glitz, Celebrate
L-R Bottom Row: Pamper, Gateau, The Mail, Boxed, Wrapped Up, Noir

If you're a neutral shadow girl, like me, this is the palette you need to get right now. Every single colour is gorgeous, but none of them are over-the-top. This is a great daytime look palette - one of my faves is to use Gateau on the lid, Wrapped Up in the crease and Bow to highlight the inner corner. I'll usually add some of Celebrate or Noir on top of a kohl liner to thicken up the lashline or create a bit of a smoky finish. Super easy, and beautiful every time.

I swatched without base so you can see how the shadows hold up on their own - with base the colours pop even more. I love that this palette has a mix of matte and shimmer - similar to the Naked Palettes from Urban Decay. There's enough variation in colour and finish to create endless looks and really have some fun playing around.

If you're in Canada (or the US, probably) you can pick this palette up on the Sleek website, or, of course, on eBay. It's dirt cheap and the quality is fantastic. Two thumbs up!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Fushi - Argan Oil

Argan Oil is pretty big these days - in everything from hair treatments to skin serums to lip balms. So I decided to find out what all the fuss was about. Rather than buying one of the uber-expensive, trendy, brand-name Argan treatments, I went on Feel Unique and picked up some pure, organic, cold-pressed oil - at a fraction of the cost.

It comes in a large glass bottle (ambered to protect the oil from spoiling quickly) that you can either pour from directly, or transfer into a smaller bottle. You know it's good quality because the bottle includes instructions for how much to take internally, not just how to use it on your skin (for all the details on its medicinal uses, visit the Fushi website). But, of course, it's the external benefits I'm interested in.

Part of what makes Argan Oil such a power player in the beauty market is that it contains high levels of vitamins A and E, both of which help fight the free radicals that contribute to signs of aging. Not only that, but it actually stimulates the skin cells and helps to regenerate them at a faster rate. Sold on it yet? No? Well it also feels fantastic as an overall moisturizer for any trouble spots on the skin and provides deep nourishment to help them become soft, supple skin again.

But one of the things I like about it is that it can be used for a bunch of different purposes. Much like dry oils, you can use Argan Oil as a moisturizer for dry skin or skin irritations, on your cuticles, as a facial treatment for dry or dehydrated skin - you can even use it in the ends of dry hair to help condition and smooth it. And while it is an oil, it isn't as heavy as some of the oils I've encountered and it absorbs relatively quickly. One word of caution, however - a little goes a very long way, and it can leave hair looking a bit stringy, even if used only in the ends, so it's better used as a hair treatment before washing rather than a leave-in.

If the Moroccan and Argan Oil trend has you curious, I'd recommend giving this a try. Not only is it much, much cheaper, but it's completely pure and of excellent quality. Great deal.

Friday, April 12, 2013

La Roche-Posay - Effaclar Duo

La Roche-Posay's Effaclar line is intended for those who are prone to breakouts and/or have oily or combination skin. The line has everything from cleansers to spot treatments to moisturizers, but this product is more of a treatment serum.

The product website lists the benefits: 

Effaclar Duo has been rigorously formulated to act on the 2 major clinical signs of acne prone-skin:
  • Acne pimples: its formula dries and helps clear up acne pimples and allows skin to heal.
  • Clogged pores: its formula penetrates pores to prevent acne pimples.

I just use it under my regular moisturizer (at night, in the morning or both) whenever my skin is having a teenage flashback. Though it is a blemish treatment, and though it does contain salicylic acid, I find that it's much more gentle than most others I've tried. It doesn't cause any dry patches or skin irritation and doesn't burn, sting or cause my skin to feel tight when applied.

This is an important point because I've found most blemish treatment products focus only on drying up the blemishes and removing excess (or all) oil from the skin, entirely overlooking the fact that blemished skin is usually irritated and sensitive. So you have to choose between either dealing with the blemishes and making the overall condition of the skin more angry and aggravated, or soothing sensitivity and ending up with more blemishes. I didn't believe a product existed that addressed both issues simultaneously, but here it is!

It's quite a thin, serum-like consistency that spreads easily and absorbs into the skin instantly. Which is great, because you can put it on under other products. The scent is lovely and subtle as well - another thing I usually can't say about blemish treatment products.

 I've been using this for hormonal breakouts, and the first morning I woke up after using it, I could see visible improvement, and it seemed to help reduce the number of new breakouts with continued use. Obviously I'm not the usual target audience for blemish products, being in my early 30s, but hey, we get breakouts too and it's great to find a product that doesn't cause other skin problems. Two thumbs up!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

From the French Pharmacie: Physiogel - A.I. Crème

This cream is intended for sufferers of eczema, psoriasis or any other skin condition that leaves skin itchy, delicate and very, very sensitive. It's hypoallergenic, scent-free and incredibly hydrating and soothing. This appeals to me because even though the sun is making an appearance, it's still chilly out there and my sensitive, overly dry skin needs some TLC.

I originally heard of this in one of Bubzbeauty's videos - and on her blog - where she claimed it works wonders on her irritated skin. She won't use anything else. 

According to the product website, A.I. Crème is for:
  •     itchy, irritated and dry skin, such as in atopic dermatitis
  •     sensitive baby and children's skin
It's also:
  •     hypoallergenic: no fragrance, preservatives, dyes
  •     contains skin-related lipids, rejuvenate the skin barrier
  •     provides the skin with long-lasting moisture
  •     no emulsifiers, no further drying of the skin
  •     itchy, irritated, inflamed skin is soothed

I don't have any specific skin complaints at the moment, so I can't speak to its efficacy in treating severe skin irritations, but I always have sensitive skin and love anything that will soothe and moisturize effectively without being too heavy or perfumed.

I've only used this a couple of times so far, but I really like it. It's quite different in texture to any of the other moisturizers I regularly use. When I apply it to the skin, it glides on effortlessly and almost seems to multiply as I massage it in. I was surprised at how little I needed to cover my entire face in a generous layer, and I love that there's no tugging or pulling during application which is great considering it's a cream for such sensitive skin!

You can definitely tell that it's there, and skin remains tacky for a little while after application, but it's not overly heavy or uncomfortable. It feels a bit like Embryolisse Baume Riche though perhaps a tad more sticky - and, like the Baume, it absorbs fully by morning if used as a night cream. I wouldn't recommend using it in the daytime if you plan to use foundation, because it does take awhile to absorb and I feel like it would make skin look a bit too oily and cause foundation to move around. But if your skin is very irritated and you can't wear makeup anyway, there wouldn't be any harm in putting a light layer on during the day as well.

I'm pretty impressed with it so far, and if you're someone who suffers from any type of skin irritation or discomfort - or even if your skin is just a bit on the sensitive side - I'd definitely recommend trying it out.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

February 2013 Empties

I love watching empties videos on YouTube. Partly it's because I'm nosy, but also because I love hearing what the reviewer thought of each of the products after using it for that long and whether they will buy it again.

I'm very fickle and have no self-control, so I'm constantly flipping back and forth between different products and almost never actually finish anything. You might notice that some of these "empties" aren't entirely empty - that's because I started using them, moved on, and forgot to go back and finish them before they expired. So I guess that's kind of cheating, but they're getting tossed along with the empties and I figure there's a reason I didn't go back to them, so you might still find the feedback useful.

Here goes!

1. Vichy Essentielles Facial Emulsion

This was a nice, light moisturizer that I used a lot last summer. I don't think it's entirely empty, but it has expired and I don't like using expired product on my face!

2. Marcelle Essentials Clay Mask

Marcelle is an unsung gem of a drugstore brand available in Canada. It's one of the two major ones (the other is a brand called Quo, available at Shopper's Drug Mart) that no one has heard of outside of the country, but that are pretty darn awesome for the price! I love that the majority of their products are unscented, hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic. Their makeup is hit or miss, but the skincare is great for sensitive skin and works really well. This mask is pretty much just your basic mask - toss it on, leave it for a little while, remove with a face cloth. I honestly couldn't really tell if it did anything or not, but the texture was lovely and it was gentle enough for my sensitive skin.

3. Marcelle Oil-Free Multi-Defense Moisturizer

Before Embryolisse, this was my daily face cream. I may switch back in the summer. It's a very liquidy lotion that doesn't have a scent and is incredibly light on the skin. I like it in the summer because it has SPF 15, is soothing if I have gotten more sun than I should and is great if my skin is feeling a bit more on the oily side. It absorbs very quickly, so it's great to use under makeup.

4. Alba Pineapple Enzyme Facial Cleanser

Just alright. Smells great, perhaps a little drying on the skin. Confession time: I got so sick of having this bottle hanging around that I used up the last third of it as hand soap. Yeah, I have that many face washes hanging about in the bathroom. Feel free to start judging now.

5. Juice Beauty Green Apple Mineral Antioxidant Moisturizer

This one expired too, sadly. I loved it, but it's the curse of the natural beauty product - it expires too quickly. And this was a HUGE bottle. This one hurt to throw out, though, I'm not gonna lie! The smell was gorgeous - light and citrusy. It did a great job of moisturizing - not too heavy, not too light - and was great for sensitive skin. If it weren't so darn expensive, I'd definitely repurchase.

6. Juice Beauty Green Apple SPF 15 Moisturizer

This I actually used up and it was delicious. I love this stuff - smells good, feels lovely on the skin. And of course, the SPF is excellent to have in a face cream! A bit pricey, though, and it expires quickly. I'd consider re-purchasing if it was ever on special.

7. Vichy Essentielles Facial Cleanser

This goes with #1, obvs. This was pretty "meh." Not excellent, but okay. Did the job. Got me clean. Not worth the money, though.

8. Body Shop Tea Tree Skin Clearing Facial Wash

I've been using this line since I was a teenager with oily skin. I like that even though my skin has matured (even if my personality hasn't) it's still gentle enough to use when my skin's having a good 'ole teenaged tantrum. The smell is intense, so you have to be okay with tea tree - but once you get used to it it's actually quite nice. Love it.

9. Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion

I've gone through a bunch of these, because until I discovered the wonder that is First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream, I used it as hand cream. I also used it as night-time face cream in colder months until switching to my French pharmacie products. It's still great, and I still have a bottle of it in my bathroom. I'm sure I'll always have some of this kicking around.

10. Bioré Purify Daily Scrub

I have used up a few tubes of this - the smell is lovely, I like the round beads because they're not too abrasive on my skin and the formula of the cleanser itself left my skin nicely refreshed. I'd recommend this if you're looking for a budget physical exfoliator.

11. Bioré SkinPreservation Even Smoother Microderm Exfoliator

This is another great one. I don't like the smell as much, but the texture is amazing. It has very fine, very dense exfoliators so you feel like it really gets into your skin and takes off all the dead skin cells. I would only use it a couple of times a week because it is quite an intense exfoliation, but I think it does a great job - particularly considering that it's a drugstore brand. I've gone through a few tubes of this as well.

12. Makeup Forever Waterproof Eyebrow Corrector

I love this stuff. I have light patches in my brows where I've lost pigment, so I use a tiny bit of this on a spoolie and work it through my brows and it colours the individual hairs rather than the skin so it looks totally natural. This is in shade #3, which matches my natural brow colour perfectly. It lasts all day long and I love that it's waterproof so I don't have to worry about it smudging. I've had this one tube for over a year now - maybe even a year and a half - and I could probably get even more out of it. Great stuff. 

Phew! That's it for empties this time around. I'll do another post whenever I feel like I've amassed enough empties to warrant it, but since it takes me forever to finish things it probably won't be monthly - maybe every couple of months.

Hope you guys found that helpful! Have you used any of these products? What were your impressions? What products have you used up lately, and what did you think of them? Share in the comments!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Compacts and Cosmetics: Beauty from Victorian Times to the Present Day - Madeleine Marsh

I wrote this review over on my book blog, Backlist Books, ages ago and it just occurred to me that y'all might be interested in it. So here ya go.

Back in the day (i.e. about 5 years ago) I took some Women's Studies courses in college. One of the main things I learned that stuck with me was that the worse things are for society in general, the better they are for the relative status of women in that society. For example, during WWII men were overseas fighting and out of necessity, women took over many jobs that had previously been unavailable to them. This was a huge step in the history of women. Though after the war many women returned to the home and set about being wives and mothers, that experience wedged open a door that has since been flung open.

Madeleine Marsh is a historian, who specializes in antiques. She has an entire room that houses her vintage makeup collection - and she can tell you not only when each item was made and what it was used for, but how the cosmetics (or lack thereof) associated with each era reflected what society expected women to be during that time.

For me, it's a fascinating read. I have been intrigued by cosmetics since I was quite young - not as a vain thing, more because of the artistic expression it allows, and the way it can transform someone's appearance, and with it, who they are perceived to be.

The book itself is beautifully presented - it's printed on glossy paper, and there are old advertisements and pictures of vintage cosmetics every page or two throughout the whole book so that readers can see what is being described.

It's definitely a niche book that sits right on the intersection of history, Gender/Women's Studies and an interest in cosmetics, so I certainly don't think it's for everyone. But if at least one of those topics is of interest to you (or all of them!) you won't find a better read!

Bonus - here's a video by Lisa Eldridge, makeup artist to the stars, in which she discusses the book - and has a tour of Madeleine Marsh's collection! (It's part one of two, so if you like it, click over to YouTube or her blog and watch the rest!)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Makeup Academy (MUA) - Undressed Palette

Makeup Academy is a great brand.You might not have heard of them over here in North America, because they're a UK drugstore brand, but trust me, you want to try them out. Because it's a little tougher to get my hands on them over here in Canada, I have only tried certain products in the range - but so far everything I have tried has been much better than I expected from a drugstore product.

That said, their eyeshadows really are the stand-out product for me. In fact, my all-time favourite eyeshadow is the MUA #11 Pearl (review to come). So believe me when I say that their eyeshadow palettes need to go on your wishlist - right at the top.

This particular palette may look a bit familiar to you if you have checked out the first Urban Decay Naked palette, because it's quite similar. It's not an exact dupe, but it's so close that if you have one, you really don't need the other. And this one is so much cheaper! 

I swatched these without a base, so the matte shades didn't show up well on my pale skin - but they do work much better with a primer under them. The shimmery shades have amazing colour payoff and it's an amazing mix of neutral shades that can create pretty much any look you want - day, night, natural, smoky - on nearly any skintone.

If you're in the UK or are into eBay shopping, I'd definitely check this one out - and they recently released a second palette that's similar called "Undress Me Too" - stay tuned for a full review of that one shortly!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Are You a Goo Hoarder?

No, Jenna, you're NOT alone. In fact, I'm pretty sure I have even more lip products in my bag than you. And I'd also like to know: what's up with that? I have absolutely no logical explanation for the volume of products I have in my bag - let alone my bathroom.

I'm not only incapable of walking out of a store that sells lip gloss without buying one - I'm also incapable of walking out of a store that sells any kind of cosmetics without buying something. I've been trying to either use up or throw out old, half-empty products that I thought were going to be magical but turned out to be - as Jenna said - just like the 20 other variations I'd already tried. This isn't easy for me. I hate throwing things out if they're still good, even if I know I'm never going to use them.

But things are getting pretty out of hand, yo. I'm running out of space in the bathroom and it's spilling over into the office, the dresser, my bedside table... even the living room has some hand lotion and lip balm kicking around. I think I need an intervention.

'Fess up - are you a goo hoarder?

Friday, April 5, 2013

First Aid Beauty - Ultra Repair Cream

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream is that miracle cream I didn't even dare dream about. In the words of FAB:

"FAB Ultra Repair Cream is a thick, rich, emollient product that hydrates deep down with exceptional penetration. With the help of colloidal oatmeal, shea butter, soothing eucalyptus oil and ceramides, FAB Ultra Repair Cream provides immediate relief and visible improvement for distressed skin. FAB Antioxidant Booster is there to defend skin from free radical damage. Ultra Repair Cream can be used all over the body and on the face."

That's right, it's a cream for the face AND body. Impossible, right? Wrong. This stuff is hydrating enough to moisturize my extremely chapped hands and make them soft, but light and non-greasy enough for me to use on my face without causing it to feel like an oil slick or break out. Which is pretty amazing if you think about it.

This one product has solved my biggest problem with hand creams. I need to put them on multiple times a day because I've got very dry skin (add to that that I'm a germaphobe and I wash my hands constantly) and they have to be pretty darn intense to make any difference at all. But I HATE when I put on hand cream, forget, and touch my face. Next thing you know, my face is covered in hand cream. Which ain't good. Unless, of course, the cream on your hands is FAB Ultra Repair Cream.

On top of that, it has this amazing cooling effect - which I'm putting down to the oatmeal and eucalyptus. It's like putting whipped, refrigerated air on your face (and hands and feet and body) that magically makes skin feel better, no matter what's wrong with it - or even if there's nothing wrong with it at all.

The smell isn't overpowering - in fact, at first I thought it was unscented. It smells a bit like Noxzema (remember that stuff from high school?), but not as strong.

It comes in a big 6 oz tub, as you can see above, but it also comes in a convenient squeeze tube so you can throw it in your purse to use as a hand cream on the go. If you're as big of a fan of it as I am, you can even grab it in the 12 oz tub - but this is a bit harder to find as most retailers (Feel Unique, ebeauty and Sephora included) don't carry it for some strange reason!

I'm starting to become a bit obsessed with this brand. Between this and their amazing Ultra Repair Lip Therapy, I'm hooked. Stay tuned for a couple more FAB product reviews in the near future!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

From the French Pharmacie: Nuxe - Huile Prodigieuse

I've always hated the feel of oil on my skin. Seriously, can't stand it. Every time I try to even use an overly rich moisturizer that leaves oily residue I end up washing it off within half an hour. So to say I was skeptical about the whole 'dry oil' concept is an undersatement.

For those of you who haven't heard of this fascinating product, it's an oil that contains all the nourishment and benefits of regular oil, but that is formulated to absorb quickly into the skin rather than sitting on top of it.

According to the product website:

"With its unique concentration of 6 Precious Oils (Borage, St. John's Wort, Sweet Almond, Camellia, Hazelnet Hazelnut and Macadamia) and Vitamin E, this easily-absorbed, multi-usage Dry Oil will leave your skin soft and silky in a single step, while your hair will be left with amazing softness and shine.No preservatives."

This oil seriously does it all. You can add a drop or two to foundation for an easier application and more radiant finish, or to your moisturizer to make it a bit richer. You can run it through damp hair to leave it shiny and soft and apply to trouble spots for some extra moisture. You can use it instead of a serum under moisturizer if your skin needs a little something extra or dab it on for some subtle fragrance. You can even throw a few drops in your bath for an extra-luxuriant soak.

The fragrance is a bit floral, but with a deeper note that carries it and stops it smelling old-ladyish. It's definitely noticeable, but not overwhelming, so even people like myself who aren't big on fragrance will find it pleasant, while any perfume lover will want to just stand there breathing it in.

As you can see, there are three different sizes of the oil available - and all three have a different lid. The best option is the lid that comes on the 100 mL bottle - but of course, that's the most expensive! The 50 mL is good if you're using it on your face - it has a tiny hole and you have to turn the product upside down to get any to come out. I usually turn it upside down on my finger or tap it on my hand to get the oil out, but it can splatter a bit if shaken and not much comes out at a time. Not fantastic. With the tiniest 10 mL travel size, you can pour some into your hand which is okay for body application, but it's easy to get too much. You can also turn it upside down onto a finger if you want just a bit, but like with the 50 mL bottle only a tiny bit comes out and it takes forever to cover your entire face, let alone body.

You can get a tiny 10 mL trial size in the Nuxe Travel Kit (available for USD 20.64 on Feel Unique), which gives you an opportunity to try it without investing in a big bottle, and a very little goes a long way, so it'll still last you awhile. But trust me, after you try it, you'll want to make that investment. This stuff is like liquid gold!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Beauty Blogger Crush: Vivianna Does Makeup

I only just discovered this girl and I honestly do not know how I didn't find her earlier! She's so cute, so pretty, so natural - both in appearance and on camera - and she just seems like someone you'd want to grab a cup of coffee (or tea) and girl talk with. Plus you know I love my Brits.

The video I posted above might seem like an odd place to start you on her channel, but there's a reason I picked it. Though Vivianna knows what she's talking about in any area of beauty, girl really knows her skincare and haircare. And, as you might have noticed, I've been on a real skincare kick of late.

She's not just a YouTube guru, she also has a blog of the same name - Vivianna Does Makeup, which you can check out here

Of course, you can't watch half her 2012 faves, so if you want to see part one, here it is. And, of course, go check out her channel, subscribe and check out all the great videos she's already uploaded!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Sleek Eyeshadow Palette - 594 Original

Some of my most popular posts of all times were the ones I did about Sleek's Pout Paints and Glossed lip glosses. This might just be because you guys love lip colours - but in case it's Sleek you love, I'm going to be posting up reviews of some of their other products. Starting with their uber-popular eyeshadow palettes.

Let's start, predictably enough, with the Original palette (number 594). Coincidentally, I think this was the first Sleek eyeshadow palette I ever bought.

It has a good range of shades for those of you who are looking for a palette that has a few neutrals for every day, but also a few more fun options to play around with.

They're all shimmer finish except for the black one, which I don't think is matte, but definitely not as shimmery as the others. I'm a neutral shadow girl, for the most part, so my favourites are mostly on the bottom row, though that navy is amazing as a liner for a smokey eye!

I swatched these without a primer, since I know a lot of you who are just getting into makeup might not yet have the hang of (or budget for) eye primers. As you can see, the colour payoff is still pretty darn good and the finish is beautiful. These blend very easily and last nearly as well as high-end shadows.

What I like about this particular palette is that it's great value and gives a good range of options for all eye and skin colours without getting too wild and crazy, and you get a decent amount of each shadow. I think it's a great one to give as a present, particularly to a younger makeup fan who's just starting out with their makeup collection.

For drugstore eyeshadow palettes, you can't beat it. Unfortunately you can't find these in drugstores in North America, but you can get them online direct from Sleek for $9.99 - and shipping is only $2.77! Not too shabby for 12 shadows, I tell ya.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Monthly Faves: March 2013

I'll admit it. I'm nosy. I love watching bathroom and makeup organization tours on YouTube, I'm obsessed with watching faves, empties and product review videos and I love hearing about other people's skincare regimes. I like seeing what people have been using on a daily basis and what they have been reaching for again and again. Nearly every product I buy is based on reviews I've watched or read, and I look forward to the turn of the month to see everyone's product roundups.

So I figure it's time for me to jump in on the action and share some of my monthly faves!

  1. MAC Fix+ - I hadn't been using this much lately, but I decided I needed to use it up, so I added it back into the routine, partly because it works well with #6.
  2. Urban Decay Naked 2 Palette - I have two of the Nakeds - this one and the original. I don't know why, but they rarely get used. I decided to make some use out of it. I've been using Tease (5th from left) as a blending crease colour and Busted (2nd from right) over my Elizabeth Arden pencil to add depth and a hint of plum.
  3. MAC Select MoistureCover Concealer in NC15 - I was using a Stila concealer, but it just doesn't give enough coverage, so I've gone back to this one - it covers well but is moisturizing and blends well.
  4. MAC Lustre Lipstick in Plumful - I saw this featured in a couple of YouTube videos and decided to bust it out - it's great for daytime to add a bit of colour without going overboard.
  5. Elizabeth Arden Smoky Eyes Powder Pencil in Espresso 03 - One of my all-time faves and holy grail products. Intensely pigmented, easy to blend and wears well. 'Nuff said.
  6. MAC Studio Moisture Tint SPF 15 in Light - I started using this again because it's been sitting around and I don't want it to go to waste. I like that it's easy to apply with just my fingers, gives decent coverage and isn't too heavy on my skin. The only thing is that I find it a bit dull, and since discovering Laura Mercier's Bare Radiance it just isn't quite as good. I've been spraying Fix+ over it to give a bit of dewiness, and I like it but probably won't stick with it once it's gone.
  7. Dior Diorshow Mascara - I've had this for longer than you're supposed to use mascaras (but that's a rule I habitually break anyway) because I've been saving it, but I've been using it more lately. It's not my all-time fave, but I like the brush, which is large and has long, bushy bristles. The formula isn't bad but even when I bought it it was a bit on the dry side. It smells lovely, though and works well for daytime.
  8. Nars SPF 30 Pro Prime Multi-Protect Primer - The warmer weather has led me to worrying about SPF in my products. I love this stuff. It isn't too heavy, creates a good base for makeup application, has a lovely citrusy scent and the SPF is an added bonus.

  1. Bioderma Sensibio (or Créaline) H2O Micelle Solution - I'm a little late to this particular bandwagon. I actually bought this over a year ago and it had been sitting sadly forgotten in one of my boxes. But during my French skincare kick I decided to dig it out and give it a go. So far, so good! Full review to follow.
  2. Nuxe Gentle Toning Lotion - I haven't used toner in years, but I started again this month. I really like this one - it's cooling and gentle and does a great job of removing any last little bit of makeup, dirt or cleanser. Not astringent and doesn't dry out skin.
  3. Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré - You've all heard plenty about this one already, so I won't bore you. Go here if you missed it.
  4. Nuxe Rêve de Miel Lip Balm - Likewise with this one - I use it every night before bed. Here's more.
  5. Origins Checks and Balances Frothy Face Wash - Still loving this stuff. Seriously awesome. Again, I've already gone on about it at length here.
  6. Clinique All About Eyes - This is a little sample size that I got and figured why not give it a go? I love it as a nighttime cream - it's gentle, rich, easy to blend and absorbs quickly.

  1. Caudalie Hand and Nail Cream - I'm in love with this stuff. I keep it on my bedside table and in my purse. I put it on throughout the day and when I'm going to bed. It has a very subtle scent that's hard to describe - but it's similar to other Caudalie products. It's like grape, but not synthetic grape scent, more like when you pick a sour green grape straight from the vine. It has a lovely consistency, isn't overly greasy and helps my dry skin survive my frequent hand-washing!
  2. Neal's Yard Citrus Hand Wash - I got this as part of a gift set that I've been saving and saving... but it expires soon and I didn't want to waste it, so I busted it out. This has the most refreshing, delicious and light lemony scent. It's not at all synthetic or sweet, just a lovely clean scent. Best. Ever.
  3. Mountain Ocean Coconut Skin Trip - I've had this sitting on my shelf since last summer, and as you can probably tell, I'm on a mission to use up products I've had for awhile. I know it's more suited to the warm summer months, but it's actually nice to wear a summery scent in early spring because it makes me feel like summer really is right around the corner and picks me up on days that are grey and mopey. Love the natural coconut scent that isn't overly sweet or synthetic. Consistency is nourishing but not heavy. Love this stuff.
  4. Lavanila the Healthy Deodorant in Grapefruit Vanilla - I've been looking for an effective natural deodorant. This stuff smells amazing - like baby powder mixed with light vanilla and a hint of grapefruit. The only down side is that it doesn't last as long and I find that if I use this exclusively it actually works less effectively as time goes on, so I need to switch off with a traditional deodorant and can't use it if I'm going to be particularly active.

Nails L-R:
  1. OPI Lincoln Park - This is nearly black, but with a hint of burgundy red in it that takes the harsh edge off a bit. Love this for a dark polish look.
  2. Sephora by OPI Ocean Love Potion - One of my fave turquoise polishes, I've been wearing this for a couple of years now. I find myself reaching for it as soon as the sunny weather hits.
  3. Nails Inc. Baker Street - I saw Lily Pebbles from What I Heart Today wearing this in her videos a couple of times - and every time I saw it I was like wait, stop everything, what is that polish?? And each time, this was the one. It's an amazing electric blue that stands out and catches the eye. Loving it!
That's it for another month! What have you been loving?

Saturday, March 30, 2013

From the French Pharmacie: Bioderma's Atoderm Line

Most of you probably know Bioderma for its Sensibio solution - the gentle make-up remover popular with make-up artists, models and skincare aficionados the world over. But that's not all the brand does - they also have a bunch of other products that are gentle and effective.

Their Atoderm line is one I've tried a few products from. First is the Adoterm Ultra-Rich Foaming Gel. This comes in a huge tube and is suitable for use on those with sensitive skin - including children.

It's a blue gel that doesn't have much of a scent and doesn't really foam up much. It is very gentle - I have delicate and dry skin in the winter and this didn't cause it to feel tight or over-washed. And because it comes in such a huge tube, it will last for a very long time.

I decided to try the Atoderm Repair Hand Cream because of my positive experiences with the face cleanser. I have to say, though, this didn't live up to the cleanser.

Sure, it's gentle and doesn't have any strong perfumes to irritate the skin or nose, but it also doesn't feel great on the skin. I found that most of it absorbs almost instantly, but it leaves a sort of sticky residue. Not oily, just sticky and unpleasant. I won't be finishing the tube, because I just can't stand the texture.

The Atoderm Lip Balm is the final product from this particular line that I tried, and I'm pleased to say that this went down a lot better than the hand cream! No scent or taste, soft enough to apply without tugging, but non-greasy and absorbs immediately.

I like that it comes in a tube with an angled applicator which makes application easy, and I found that it left my lips soft and moisturized. It doesn't last as long as Nuxe Rêve de Miel Lip Balm, but not many do. This would be a great one for kids who don't like smelly or greasy products on chapped lips, or for men who don't want something shiny or sweet-flavoured. Two thumbs up.

*Update: After writing this post I ended up buying the Atoderm Lip Balm that comes in a stick rather than a tube. Here it is:

I fully expected it to be like the tube - scent-free, softening but perhaps a little bit slicker. I was way wrong. It's actually closer to Amilab. It's quite a bit softer than you generally expect of a stick lip balm, and it definitely has a scent. I quite like it, though I would like it better if it weren't quite so strong. I tried for the last two days to figure out what exactly the smell reminded me of, and it finally hit me: gummy bears. Yeah, weird, right? Anyway, I don't mind the scent, and I find it softening and hydrating. It's not my favourite, but it's definitely better than most!

Friday, March 29, 2013

First Aid Beauty - Ultra Repair Lip Therapy

I was browsing in the Sephora skincare department (you know, as you do) and I saw this brand. I'd never heard of them before, but I liked the smell of their products and some of the package descriptions appealed to me. I was later browsing on Feel Unique, and once again I came across the brand in their bestsellers. Interesting, I thought. Let's find out what the deal is.

Turns out their Ultra Repair Cream is something of a legend in the skincare industry for its ability to moisturize even the driest and most sensitive of skins (full review on that coming soon). The Ultra Repair Lip Therapy, like the cream, has Colloidal Oatmeal to protect the skin, shea butter as a barrier and moisturizer and an "antioxidant booster" to help fight free radicals.

It's also petroleum-free, which is not only good for those who are sensitive to it, but for people who don't like overly slick, shiny or goopy lip products. And the hint of mint (sorry, had to) is delicious when mixed with the oatmeal. It applies matte, doesn't feel thick or heavy on the lips and absorbs very quickly (much like the cream, once again) to leave lips soft, smooth and hydrated, and the effects last past when you can no longer feel it on the lips.

Similar to the Nuxe Lip Balm in the pot, I feel like this lip balm actually nourishes the lips rather than just acting as a barrier to prevent further moisture loss. Because the formula is based on their cream, it has a more creamy consistency than most lip balms I've tried, and actually feels quite soothing and even a bit cooling.

It has a convenient applicator tip, which makes it really easy to apply on the go - and not only is it non-shiny and nearly flavour-free, but the packaging is simple and gender-neutral, so if there are any lads out there suffering from dry lips, suffer no more!

I've heard a lot of people complaining about getting the product out of the tube because it's so thick. I had trouble too - the first time I used it. After that, once I got it going - no problems at all. I'd recommend just popping it in your pocket when you buy it before the first time you use it and there should be no problem.

I love this stuff. Not quite as much as I love the Nuxe Lip Balm, which I use as a night treatment every night before bed, but it'd definitely second in line. While Nuxe has a lovely orange-citrus scent, while this one's a combo of sweet oatmeal and a bit of fresh mint - so between the two I've got both my favourite lip flavours covered. This one's great to throw in my purse, whereas the Nuxe is in a heavy glass jar that I adore, but isn't the best for lugging about. I don't think I'll ever be without both of these, since I love them both! If you have allergies, are sensitive to petroleum, or are looking for something for kids or  a guy with dry lips, this is my top recommendation.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Weleda - Wild Rose Pampering Body Lotion

I picked this up (along with another Skin Food, which I love to use when my hands and feet need an intense moisture treatment) during the deal I discovered on Weleda at Whole Foods last week. I have to admit that at least 70% of the reason why I got this was because of the pump. I don't know if you can really see in the photo, but it's a really cool shape and because the opening where the product is discharged has a rubber seal on it, the air can't get in so the product left near the dispenser doesn't oxidize and get goopy and gross.

Though the applicator is cool... that's about all I can say for it. The cap is really hard to remove (the testers in the store didn't have a cap, so this was an unpleasant surprise). The product itself is just okay - it's moisturizing, but nothing special. Decent consistency, though not as creamy as I'd hoped. The rose doesn't seem to do anything to soothe my skin more than a regular moisturizer would, and though it absorbs quickly so it's not oily on the skin, it also doesn't seem to make my skin much softer.

But I think probably the biggest reason why I'm not a fan of it is the scent. I'm the first to admit that I'm picky when it comes to fragrance. I don't know if it's because of working at LUSH for years and feeling like I've had scent overload or what, but I either love or hate a fragrance. And if I hate it, it just ain't gonna get used. This, unfortunately, I hate. In the store it seemed to be a subtle rose scent without much else. I don't know if maybe the tester had just been sitting out for awhile and some of the fragrance had worn off or it was a different batch or what, but mine has an unpleasant bitter herbal after-smell that I just can't abide. It's similar to (although not the same as) patchouli. It has that musky lingering thing that I can't stand.

So, as much as I'd like to become a fan of Weleda body products, between the scent and less-than-impressive performance, I think that's it for me. Oh well, at least I didn't pay full price, right?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

From the French Pharmacie: Boiron Homéoplasmine

This is a French miracle. It's intended for skin irritations, but can be used for pretty much anything on any body part. Dry skin around the nose and mouth, chapped lips, rashes, eczema - you name it, and this little tube will come to the rescue.

The closest comparison I can come up with for this would be Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream or the Australian PawPaw ointment. But this is a bit thicker, and unlike 8 Hour Cream has a very subtle scent.

I heard abut this in Make-Up Artist Magazine - it was listed as a fave in the kit of one of their featured make-up artists. Upon further research, it turns out to be a lot of artists' and models' fave. Mainly used for severely chapped lips - not only does it help to heal them, but it seals down any flakiness and applies matte so it won't interfere with lipstick application.

Here's what it looks like:

I recently discovered that they also make a lip balm stick, so I'm going to give that a try and see how it stacks up and whether it's a bit easier to use.

The only down side that I can see is that it's really hard to get out of the tube because it's so thick. But once you get some out, a little goes a really long way and the tube is huge - and super cheap. So it's worth the work!

Monday, March 25, 2013


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From the French Pharmacie: Embryolisse - Baume Riche

I originally got this because I'm in the middle of an intense love affair with Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré (read my full review of it here) and I thought hey, maybe this is good too. The original is fantastic as a day cream that also acts as a primer and can be worn under foundation. It's non-oily, gentle for sensitive skin and absorbs quickly.

I have used Lait-Crème Concentré at night, and while it did a fine job, it wasn't enough for winter or for dehydrated skin. So I thought maybe this one would fit the bill. I was totally right. It's very similar to Lait-Crème Concentré, but has a thicker, richer consistency and slightly stronger scent (though still pleasant).

From the Embryolisse website:

"When dry skin sends out an SOS, this cold cream is the answer. Ultra-concentrated in essential, moisturising, lipid-replenishing natural nutrients (olive extract, shea butter, white beeswax), it acts as a balm to nourish and repair, protect and soothe the most irritated and driest skins. Restored and reinforced, skin is supple, soft and radiant with a new feeling of well-being and comfort. The very rich and nourishing texture is like a cocoon that protects sensitive skin from external aggressions."

It can be used on the face (just avoid eye area) and body, wherever you need a bit of relief from dryness. 

I wouldn't use it as a day cream, but as a night cream it's fantastic. You can see a sheen on the skin after applying and feel that it's there, but it's not greasy or overly oily and it absorbs well by morning. I think it's great for those who suffer from seasonal dryness or minor skin irritations, and it will also help with skin that feels "tight" after washing.

It's not cheap - but it's not the most expensive product in its class out there either. A little goes a long way, and because it's ultra-rich, you probably won't need to use it every day so it should last for awhile. In my opinion it's worth the price tag as a balm to use occasionally when problems arise, or a few times a week during colder months. If you're a fan of Lait-Crème Concentré as a day cream, give this one a whirl at night!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

From the French Pharmacie: Nuxe - Lotion Tonique Douce

I have a confession to make. It's been years since I used a toner. At least two. Probably three. I did in high school when I needed something more astringent to help manage adolescent skin issues, and I did a few years back when I got a free bottle with a couple of Marcelle products. But since then... I just haven't bothered. I think mainly it's because I started using the MAC makeup removing wipes that do an amazing job of taking off all traces of makeup - and I always wash my face as well. So I feel like between the two, everything that needs to be done is done.

I've been feeling quite a bit of dryness this winter - I think partly because it's been colder, and partly because let's face it, I'm not a spring chicken anymore. That in combination with my recent skincare obsession led me to decide to try this one. 

I like that it has a pop-top applicator lid rather than just a screw-top or snap-top like most of  the other toners I've used. This makes it easier to place the cotton pad and up-end for product, and to control how much comes out.

The product itself is lovely. It pretty much just smells like roses, which I like when not too strong. I also feel like rose is quite a soothing ingredient - particularly to pale skin like mine. On Feel Unique (which is where I bought mine) it says of the "star ingredients":

"NUXE Lotion Tonique Douce Gentle Toning Lotion completes make-up removal (Ultra Soft Surfactants from Coconut derivative) without drying out the skin (Hyaluronic acid of natural origin). Skin is smooth (Witch Hazel Water), soothed and softened (Floral Water from Damascena Rose Petals, Allantoin)."

I find that it is soothing, cools the skin instantly, has no residue or stickiness and leaves my skin feeling extra-refreshed. I also feel like it helps add a bit more moisture to be sealed in when I apply my night moisturizer. Definitely what you want. It's alcohol-free, so great for dry and/or sensitive skin.

I definitely recommend adding this to your daily skincare routine!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Elizabeth Arden - Eight Hour Cream

For years I've heard beauty bloggers and YouTube makeup gurus raving on and on about the amazing cream that is Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream. As you can tell, mine's a bit old now (the packaging has been updated), but it's still the same formula.

I have had this for months and never really used it. Partly because I wasn't sure what to do with it at first (while I'm all for them in theory, multi-purpose products always take me a little while to figure out). But mainly? The smell. MY GOD the smell. It has lanolin in it - which, for those of you who don't know, is an oil that is naturally-occurring on sheep's wool and is an excellent moisturizer and barrier to lock in moisture - which has quite a gamey scent. On top of that it has a 'herbal' smell, and the combination is killer.

According to the package instructions (above), you can use this anywhere you have dry or chapped skin, including the lips. Seriously? No WAY would I put this anywhere near my nose. I'm guessing that with a smell like that, it wouldn't taste too delicious either! I've heard beauty bloggers on YouTube say that it works wonders on dry lips. In fact, Tanya Burr, whose videos I love, carries it in her purse:

And I'm sure it works well. But I don't think I'd be able to handle it that close to my nose, no matter how well it worked!

So what's the verdict, you ask? Well, while I'm not about to be slathering this on my kisser anytime soon, I can say that the shit works. I suffer from diabetic dry skin, which means that (particularly in winter) the skin on my hands and feet dries until it cracks - painfully. I have found that applying this to my cracked heels, letting it sit for awhile, soaking up the excess with a tissue and then applying a regular foot cream does do an amazing job on softening my heels. So for that it's great - but not really worth the price. There are plenty of intensive and lanolin-based products on the market that will do the same thing for half the price - and that smell better!

I believe there is a scent-free version of this, which I haven't yet tried. If you have, share your thoughts! Is it really scent-free? Does it work as well as the original? 

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