SNEAK PEEK | Charlotte Tilbury releases for fall 2018, including Pillow Talk Luxury Palette, swatches and MOREEEE

Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk collection, including Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Luxury Eye Palette and Pillow Talk Cheek to Chic Blush

I saw these photos on Instagram of the new Charlotte Tilbury collection that is coming out later this fall and I am OBSESSED. I LOVE my Charlotte Tilbury and every time she releases something, my heart just skips a beat. They were on Instagram stories so I wanted to make sure that I saved all of the photos (and SWATCHES) so that all Charlotte-obsessed fans out there, like me, can have something to look forward to!

The main thing that I am super excited about is the Pillow Talk collection, which includes Pillow Talk Cheek to Chic blusher and a Pillow Talk Luxury Palette!!! Charlotte’s Luxury Eye Palette’s are my absolute go-to eye palette whenever I want to create a fool-proof look, and even though most of them are “neutrals,” they all very different and create very different neutral, but still amazing eye looks.

Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Luxury Eye Palette swatches

Next we have some new concealer! The Magic Away Concealer comes in 16 different shades and this looks to be Charlotte’s first full coverage concealer. The shade range is pretty impressive, going from very very fair and even white, to very dark.

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Away Concealer

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Away Concealer swatches of all shades

Next, we have some Star Lips. These appear to be sheer lip balms with a glossy finish.

Charlotte Tilbury Star Lips

Lastly, we have another long multi-look palette – the Stars-in-your-Eyes Palette. Similar to the Instant Eye palette, this one comes with four different eye looks in one long palette. Different from the Instant Eye Palette is that this one is more pink-toned, whereas the original is very neutral.

 

Charlotte Tilbury Stars-in-your-Eyes Palette

Charlotte Tilbury Stars-in-your-Eyes Palette swatches

Hopefully this gives all Charlotte fans something to look forward to in the coming months. I already have a few items on my to-buy list. I love both of the original Pillow Talk products. The lip liner is my go-to, and I also picked up the lipstick TWICE because I misplaced my first one (it was still brand new too!).

Photos are courtesy of Glamalyst on Instagram, who reposted it from someone else (may have been reposted a few times actually).

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SHOPPING | My top favourite brands and products, available at Holt Renfrew

Holt Renfrew Vancouver beauty floor

So by now you’ll already know that I am a major luxury shopper and I buy a lot of my stuff from Holt Renfrew, a luxury department store in Vancouver that also has locations across Canada. Some of the brands I talk about extensively on my blog are also available at Holts, so I wanted to give you a mini shopping guide, of sorts, of the products and brands I love that are also available under one roof.

The full disclosure is that yes I do work with Holts sometimes and I get invited to their events. BUT if you know me in real life, you’ll know that I actually work two blocks away from the Vancouver store and it also happens to be on my way home (on the way to the skytrain…) so I actually shop quite extensively here. During their May/June designer sale, I’d actually come here every day after work to check out shoes and other sale items. This post is absolutely not sponsored, I really just go there a lot.

1. Charlotte Tilbury

It’s no secret that Charlotte Tilbury makes some of my favourite makeup products. My top picks include Filmstar Bronze & Glow, the Luxury Eye Palettes in the Dolce Vita* and the Vintage Vamp*, KISSING Lipstick in Bitch Perfect, Lip Liner in Pillow Talk*, as well as the combination of Magic Cream + Wonder Glow* + Light Wonder Foundation*. I recently broke the highlighter pan in my Filmstar Bronze & Glow. It still works but I just can’t take it around with me anymore since the powder spills out. Well I love that so much that I ended up picking up a replacement to take around with me because I need my glow on the go!

2. Christian Louboutin Beaute

I love Christian Louboutin lip products. They are such a luxurious splurge but oh so worth it. Since it’s summer, I’ve been wearing the Sheer Voile Lip Colour in Mexicatchy* all the time. Not only does the formula and colour look beautiful, the packaging is also such a statement piece.

3. La Prairie

Okay do I need to say more about my love for La Prairie? The products are insanely luxurious but it’s such a wonderful experience whenever you use them. My top picks are the Skin Caviar Concealer + Foundation* and the Cellular Swiss Ice Crystal Dry Oil*. Both of these are on the lower end of the price spectrum for La Prairie, and both of these also last you FOREVER in terms of usage, so you actually get pretty good value for your money (despite it being luxury products).

4. AmorePacific

The first brand that introduced me to the world of ultra luxury skincare, AmorePacific is a Korean brand that specializes in using green tea extracts to achieve skin goals. I love their Time Response products, which are an ultimate splurge, but the texture and skin benefits really outweigh the price. I have travel sizes that I take around with me whenever I travel, and I simply love how amazing they make my skin feel and look. For a slightly less pricey (but still very pricey) alternative, the Future Response line is also great. Their skin basics, such as cleansers and toners have been long-standing favourites in my skincare routine. While I test out many products, every few years I will return to AmorePacific and the results are always just as I expected.

5. Sulwhasoo

Korean luxury beauty brand Sulwhasoo is owned by AmorePacific and specializes in ginseng-based skincare. I’ve only tried a few products from the brand but so far I’ve been very impressed! The First Care Activating Serum* is a greater starter serum for anyone looking to venture into this brand. I’ve also had very good luck with the Snowise Brightening Mask* to give me luminous skin before an event or when my skin is looking particularly sallow.

6. Givenchy Beauty

OH MY GOD. I was so happy when I found out Givenchy Beauty was launching at Holt Renfrew. You can now pick up the entire line of makeup products here, as well as their line of Atelier Haute Parfumerie collection. I’ve been buying Givenchy Beauty from Sephora for years but the line wasn’t that widely available, and it was always hard to find stock / good testers, as well as people who knew the line. I was invited to the media launch of this when it opened early June, but of course I went back a few days later to pick up one of their new Le Rouge Liquide lipsticks. SO MUCH LOVE!

You can purchase all of these products at Holt Renfrew (duh). Next time you’re in Vancouver, make time to browse their beauty floor, which is amazing and YUUUGE. I love spending time browsing the different counters and playing with all the new products.

Let me know if you’ve tried any of these and what your thoughts are!

Certain products were gifted or provided by PR for review consideration; these are marked with a *. Most products I’ve tried from these brands were purchased by me. All opinions are my own.

FOUNDATION REVIEW | La Prairie Skin Caviar Essence-in-Foundation

Review of La Prairie Skin Caviar Essence-in-Foundation in N-20 Pure Ivory

I am back with another foundation review! I love testing foundations. I used to be one of those people who would only have 2-3 bottles of open foundation but now I have something like 10+ open at all times. I am constantly testing new ones and if some don’t work for me, then I don’t hesitate to give them away. I previously did a post on my top favourite foundations of all time, and one of them was the La Prairie Skin Caviar Concealer + Foundation. I was super excited to find out that they were releasing a new cushion foundation and I was very lucky to receive one to try out.  I’ve been wearing this for the last month so I’m finally ready to write the review.

The La Prairie Skin Caviar Essence-in-Foundation (C$255) is an ultra-hydrating fluid foundation in a convenient cushion compact. It features La Prairie’s signature Skin Caviar essence so that you can beautify your skin will wearing this foundation. The shade I wear is N20 Pure Ivory, which is a great match to my skin tone (I wear Warm Linen in the Skin Caviar Concealer + Foundation). The cushion itself is 15mL, and you also get another 15mL refill (and a replacement sponge), so the size is the typical size of foundation you would get on the market. The packaging is hefty but not heavy, so while it takes up quite of bit of space in your makeup bag, it won’t weigh it down. The mirror inside is phenomenal. I love the mirror inside the Concealer + Foundation lid because it is such a high quality mirror, but the lid on that one is tiny so the itty bitty mirror isn’t super useful. The mirror on the Essence-in-Foundation is a good size that you can use to apply your makeup with when you are out – very high quality, zero blurriness or distortion, and just super clear.

Review of La Prairie Skin Caviar Essence-in-Foundation in N-20 Pure Ivory

I want to say upfront that I don’t generally like cushion foundations. I find it a little bit unsanitary, especially because you are applying the foundation with the sponge and then you put the sponge back right on top of the cushion. It just seems like a breeding ground for bacteria. That being said though, I’ve been using my sponge for the last few weeks and the idea is to transition to eventually throwing the sponge out and applying this with my fingers (which is my usual preferred method anyways).

Now back to the La Prairie foundation… the texture of this is much lighter than the Concealer + Foundation, similar to a fluid milk where as the Concealer + Foundation is creamier. Most cushion foundations have a light coverage, so that is what I was expecting of this one as well, but I was very pleasantly surprised when I tried this on for the first time and actually got medium to full coverage. I try not to wear a heavy layer of foundation so I only wore very little, and it still gave me medium coverage! It layers beautifully as well, so you can layer it to get fuller coverage. Not only does it cover my redness, it also smooths out my skin texture so that it looks almost airbrushed. I absolutely love the finish of it.

It is very hydrating on my skin, I can feel my skin soaking up the hydrating goodness and it also makes my skin looks very supple and plump throughout the day. Application is an absolute breeze as well – I literally just swipe it on my face, very little blending required, and my skin looks flawless. This makes me look like I have amazing skin to begin with, not like I’m wearing any foundation.

I love bringing this with me when I go away – you get amazing skin in such a small, convenient package. It’s much easier than bringing an actual bottle of liquid foundation, and you don’t have to worry about it leaking everywhere.

In terms of downsides, I feel like this foundation doesn’t sit very well on my nose. I have no idea what it is about it but it sinks into the pores on my nose such that it looks like there are little dots of foundation. In addition, it doesn’t have very good oil control or staying power. I get surface oil on my skin throughout the day, and whenever I blot, a bit of foundation comes off with it. I absolutely have to powder this, otherwise it will just slide right off my face. By contrast, the staying power of the Concealer + Foundation is amazing. I don’t need to powder and it never fades or gets overly greasy.

Last thing to mention is that it has a very strong La Prairie smell. I really love La Prairie’s signature scent and this one has it as well, but if you don’t love fragranced makeup then you might want to check this out first in store before you buy. It does dissipate after a few minutes, but it will be pretty obviously scented while you are applying this. The scent is stronger than the Concealer + Foundation.

Do I recommend this? I’m not sure. While I’m really impressed with how airbrushed my skin texture looks, I don’t like that it doesn’t sit well on my nose and that it doesn’t have any oil control properties. I much prefer the Concealer + Foundation. Even though it is $40 more expensive, you do get an extra mini pot of concealer and a mini concealer brush, which is actually a steal for La Prairie. Both of these foundations do make my skin look incredible, with very good coverage and skin blurring properties.

You can purchase La Prairie at Holt Renfrew in Vancouver, or online.

Review of La Prairie Skin Caviar Essence-in-Foundation in N-20 Pure Ivory
Product received from PR for review consideration; all opinions are my own.

LIPSTICK REVIEW | Create juicy summer lips with Christian Louboutin Sheer Voile Lip Colour in Mexicatchy

Review and swatches of Christian Louboutin Sheer Voile Lip Colour in Mexicatchy

I’ve really been enjoying my small collection of Christian Louboutin lip products, and the most recent addition to my collection is the Sheer Voile Lip Colour in the shade Mexicatchy. This product was actually the first Louboutin lipstick I’ve ever tried on my own lips, which prompted my immediate love of the Louboutin lip collection.

Review and swatches of Christian Louboutin Sheer Voile Lip Colour in Mexicatchy

Of the three formulas of Louboutin lipstick, the Sheer Voile Lip Colour is the one that offers sheer to medium coverage with a glossy finish. I’m not a huge fan of glossy lips, preferring satin or closer to matte, but I’ve honestly been using this more than any other lipsticks in my collection now that summer is approaching. Despite it being called a sheer lipstick, it’s actually quite pigmented, delivering medium coverage in just two swipes. Mexicatchy is a gorgeous summer shade – a stunning bright coral red that brighten your complexion.

Review

My favourite thing about this colour in this formula is that it does not settle into lip lines at all. I have very dry lips, and most lipsticks, especially the ones with more slip, tend to settle and gather in my lip lines, creating a not-so-flattering look. However Mexicatchy applies and wears smoothly for a few hours before disappearing due to me eating / drinking.

With a Louboutin lip liner, this product lasted over 8 hours on my lips. Yes you read that right – a glossy, sheer-ish lipstick can last a really long time on your lips. I don’t always wear this with a lip liner, preferring to pop this on when I want to go for a glamour red without the heaviness, but it’s nice to know that when I want the option, it’s there.

Review and swatches of Christian Louboutin Sheer Voile Lip Colour in Mexicatchy

Review and swatches of Christian Louboutin Sheer Voile Lip Colour in Mexicatchy

The downside of course, is the price is pretty out there. At C$120 a pop, not everyone can afford it, but it’s definitely a nice treat for yourself. You can purchase the Louboutin Sheer Voile Lip Colour at Holt Renfrew.

The swatches

Review and swatches of Christian Louboutin Sheer Voile Lip Colour in Mexicatchy

Product provided by PR for review consideration; all opinions are my own.

NEW IN BEAUTY | Charlotte Tilbury Exagger-Eyes, L’Occitane en Provence Almond Delightful Body Balm, and Givenchy Le Rouge Liquid

Review of Charlotte Tilbury Exagger-Eyes, L'Occitane en Provence Almond Delightful Body Balm, and Givenchy Le Rouge Liquid

A few beauty products launched earlier this spring that I wanted to share with you guys! First up is the Charlotte Tilbury Luxury Eye Palette in Exagger-Eyes (C$66). When I heard that Charlotte Tilbury was bringing out additional Luxury Eye Palettes, I was absolutely elated. Charlotte Tilbury eye palettes are one of my absolute favourites; I take them with me everywhere I travel because I know I can rely on them for a beautiful, long lasting eye look. She released two new variations – Transform-Eyes and Exagger-Eyes – both aimed at creating bigger, brighter eyes. I received Exagger-Eyes from PR and I can’t be more happy about it.

Of the two new palettes, Exagger-Eyes is the more neutral one (Transform-Eyes is very warm-toned). It is a fantastic palette to create a subtle, natural eye look that still has a bit of pop. If you love neutral palettes, you gotta pick this one up. Charlotte’s palettes are also completely foolproof and can be used by anyone with any makeup skill, so even if you are a complete makeup newbie, you can create a beautiful look from this one. Including this one, I own five of Charlotte’s eyeshadows so you know that they are definitely good enough to collect.

Next is a luxurious body care product from L’Occitane’s almond range, one of my favourite body care collections. I LOVE the Almond Shower Oil and it is a constant staple in my shower, both at home and on travels. The new Almond Delightful Body Balm (C$44) is such a luxurious treat. It is incredibly moisturizing and great for those with dry, scaly skin. I use this all over my legs before bed and I wake up with super soft, silky skin. It is a bit heavy for the summer, so I only use a little bit, and it can also be used to boost the moisture properties of your other Almond body products. I can see myself really indulging in this during the colder months. For now though, I’m using it sparingly both because it is so effective and because it is such a treat for the skin.

Lastly, we have something that I’ve been anticipating for a while – the Givenchy Le Rouge Liquide (C$44)! I LOVE LOVE LOVE Givenchy lipsticks. I own several of the Le Rouge lipsticks as they are one of my absolute favourites. They released a liquid version of this amazing formula that is housed in the same gorgeous leather case. At the media launch in Vancouver, received a PR sample of this lipstick in #412 Grenat Alpaga, which is a deep garnet red. I later went back a few days later and purchased the shade #101 Nude Cachemire, which is a gorgeous my-lips-but-better nude pink.

The formula of this is great – good coverage but still lightweight, and dries down to a powdery matte. It’s not drying at all, compared to other liquid lipsticks, and feels very comfortable on the lips. For a liquid lipstick, the applicator is great because the product twists up, but you can actually wipe clean the applicator so that it doesn’t get gunky. Overall recommend!

You can purchase Charlotte Tilbury and Givenchy at Holt Renfrew. L’Occitane products are available at their retail stores or online.

Product received as PR samples for review consideration; all opinions are my own.

FOUNDATION REVIEWS | Shu Uemura The Lightbulb Essence, Diorskin Forever Undercover and Guerlain Lingerie de Peau Aqua Nude

Review of Shu Uemura Lightbulb Essence Foundation, Diorskin Forever Undercover Foundation and Guerlain Lingerie de Peau Aqua Nude Foundation

Sorry for being missing for the last month! I misplaced my SD card and then I had to order another one, so I wasn’t able to take photos or blog, not to mention I lost all the photos that I had taken before… Anyways, I wanted to share some new foundation reviews with you today! Foundations are a staple to my daily face routine. I don’t always wear a full face of makeup, but I will usually wear a full face of foundation + powder to work to help even out my skintone. That also means they are one of my favourite things to test out. When I try a new foundation, I usually look for three main things:

  • Longevity of wear – I hate touching up during the day (and pretty much never do unless I’m going somewhere nice at night), so I need something that will wear all day without disappearing
  • Ease of application – I am almost always late in the morning, so I need something that blends easily with fingers
  • Good on dry skin – I have dry skin, so I look for foundations that don’t sink into my lines or pores

I’m not too picky on coverage, since I have various foundations that I use that vary in coverage, but the three things above are the most important to me. Today I’m reviewing three relatively new foundations that came out in the last 6 months or so.

Shu Uemura The Lightbulb Essence Foundation is a serum foundation, kind of like Diorskin Air Nude or Armano Maestro. This is my favourite type of foundation to use when I am having a lazy good skin day and just need a tiny bit of coverage to even out my skin. You can apply this with a sponge, brush, or fingers, and it is said to provide “deep hydration and 24-hour rich moisture with natural coverage that cocoons the skin with softness.”

I wear the shade 564 which is the perfect match for my NC25 light neutral skintone.

The biggest downside to this product is that I absolutely hate the packaging. It comes in a dropper bottle, which is great, but the dropper isn’t like the rubber squeeze type that has a bit more “suction strength.” Shu basically designed a sleek dropper that comes out of the top of the bottle when you twist the bottle a little bit, and then you press it down to get the foundation in the dropper, then you can drop it on your hand / brush / sponge / face. In theory, that should work, expect the dropper has zero suction strength so I pretty much end up dripping foundation all over the bottle itself and then on my bathroom counter. I am super OCD about foundation on the outside of the bottle so that bothers me to no end, and I have to clean it up right away. I would honestly recommend this foundation if not for the terrible bottle design. Shu, please don’t try to be innovative in the packaging and just use the traditional dropper like everyone else!

You can purchase Shu Uemura at The Bay or on the Shu website.

Diorskin Forever Undercover is a new-ish product in the Diorskin Forever range, which promises ultra long wear and full coverage. There are 24 shades in total, and the shades pretty much match the normal Dior shade in other foundation ranges (I wear 020 in all Dior foundations).

This foundation is one of the most long-wearing foundations in my collection. It blends super easily just with fingers, and wears well over most skincare products, preferring those that don’t dry down completely. I use only a little bit on a day-to-day basis, and it gives me medium coverage, blending over my redness and pores to leave a relatively flawless finish. It does dry down almost completely matte, so no powdering is required. I see this as being a better foundation for normal, combination, or oily skin types. If I’m having a particularly dry skin day, this tends to not wear as well because it will cling to some dry spots on my face. Otherwise if I’m looking for a long-wearing, medium to full coverage foundation, this will pretty much always deliver.

You can purchase Dior at The Bay and Holt Renfrew.

Guerlain Lingerie de Peau Aqua Nude (C$61) is an extension of the Guerlain Lingerie de Peau foundation. The original Lingerie de Peau is a light-to-medium coverage foundation that gives a dewy, radiant finish. The Aqua Nude version is even lighter, claiming to hydrate and plump the skin. I would describe this almost like a milky-gel foundation. It is super lightweight, and provides barely-there coverage.

The original Lingerie de Peau clinged to my dry spots, but the Aqua Nude definitely is much better for those with dry skin. It blends into the skin very well, and doesn’t settle into lines. I wear the shade 02N Natural, which is my usual Guerlain foundation shade – a light neutral beige. I love this for perfect skin days, as it doesn’t mask my natural skin. It just barely covers the redness in my cheeks, and it lightly smooths out skin texture. Finish is a dewy-satin, and because it is a hydrating foundation, there is very poor oil control so powdering is a must.

There are a few things I love about this foundation – how easy it is to blend into the skin, and the bottle. Most Guerlain foundations come in a glass bottle which is tedious to bring around with you. This foundation, despite it being 30mL like most foundations, is in a plastic bottle that’s just very easy to transport. This is great for travelling when you want a little bit of coverage but not so much, or to bring with you to touch up after the gym.

That being said, it’s just an okay foundation. I would wear it, but it doesn’t wow me. For $61, I’d say skip.

You can purchase Guerlain at Beauty Court, Holt Renfrew, and the Bay.

Products featured in this post were provided by PR; all opinions are my own.

Top 4 tips for buying Chanel

I’ve purchased a few Chanel pieces in the last years. I am in no way a Chanel expert, but I have picked up a few tips and tricks along the way which can help you find the style that you are looking for. I found that buying Chanel isn’t anything like buying other luxury brands. It can be like buying Hermes, where the styles are extremely hard to find, especially in Canada. Whereas I find buying Louis Vuitton or other brands much less stressful because they don’t tend to limit the number of styles that come out each season. Chanel comes out with a very high number of bag styles each season, but each style only comes in a limited number of pieces, which can be annoying when you have your eye on a certain style. Hopefully these tips can be helpful if you are looking to buy your next Chanel piece!

1. Work with a salesperson

As a luxury brand, Chanel primarily works on relationship sales. I.e., if you have a good relationship with one or many salespeople, they will try harder to get you the styles you want. This is especially true if you are looking for a highly sought after style, for example a Classic Mini. Salespeople will always, always save the best stock for the people they already have an existing relationship with.

Now in order to build a relationship, you can either buy lots from a single salesperson, or if you are just looking for a specific bag, go visit the store often and chat with a particular salesperson. You want them to get to know you as a person and not just as a customer, and once you’ve built up that relationship, you can see if they are willing to find things for you. Keep in mind that each salesperson works with many clients, so they’re not going to remember which styles you are looking for – you really have to proactively ask them, and ask often, in order to get them to remember you and the style you’re looking for.

2. Check Purseforum

I am obsessed with Purseforum’s Chanel subforum, which may or may not be a good thing. Chanel releases a plethora of bags and accessories each season, but not every store will order the same things. Purseforum has an abundance of users who post what they see at boutiques, as well as what styles are available based on what their salespeople share with them.

Vancouver, and Canada in general, is like a Chanel deadzone because the stores here don’t order much of each season’s stock, so if you want to plan ahead to what is going to be available, check out the Purseforum. Not only does the U.S. get way more stock that us, they also get it a few weeks earlier so you can see what’s available and then call up your salesperson to ask for stock availability.

3. Call Chanel to check stock

Each Chanel product has a dedicated product code that comprises of three parts – the style code, leather code, and leather code. The code is something like 15 or 18 characters long, and is unique to a particular style, in a specific leather and colour. If you are having issues finding the stock you want, you just need to do a bit of internet research to figure out what the code is for that style, and then you can actually call Chanel’s phone number listed on their website to find out which store has what stock. I am 99% sure this is how personal shoppers help their customers find products. Save yourself that personal shopper mark-up, and find it yourself!

4. Buy pre-loved versus new

There comes a time when you need to decide to pick up a product new or pre-loved. You’d be surprised that buying pre-loved doesn’t always mean you can save money – a lot of times very popular pre-loved styles can come with a steep mark-up. Leather type can also affect the pre-loved price, for example pre-loved lambskin will usually not sell as well as caviar, so if you are looking for a lambskin style, you can likely find one in good condition for a good price.

Some styles you have no choice but to buy pre-loved, for example if you want one with hardware that is real gold plated versus just gold coloured. Also some styles are so popular that you’ll end up waiting more than a year for it, so you might have to buy pre-loved if you are wanting to get your hands on it sooner rather than later.

Depending on the style you want, it’d be a good idea to stalk consignment sites such as Fashionphile or Ann’s Fabulous Finds to see the trend of prices for the style you are looking for.

Just based on what I’ve seen, some styles that have pretty good pre-loved prices include any lambskin styles, and the classic Medium/Large flap in beige clair caviar leather in either gold or silver hardware. Styles that are very marked-up on the pre-loved market include the rectangular and square minis in caviar, as well as any coveted seasonal colours, such as the oil slick rainbow hardware Boy bag from a few seasons ago, and any styles in the light gold / rose gold chevron caviar from last year.

Hope these tips were useful for you!

Essence lotions, what are they, how to fit them in your routine, and some recent discoveries from Tatcha, La Prairie, Sekkisei and Omorovicza

Essence lotions have been in Asian skincare for as long as I can remember. Back when Western skincare brands were heavy on the alcohol-rich astringent-type toners, Asian skincare was all about that enriched essence water. Long story short, an essence lotion (or essence water) is basically a supercharged, nutrient-dense watery serum. There are a ton of them on the market, but the most famous one is the SK-II Facial Treatment Essence. In recent years, a lot of Western brands have also started to release more of these essence lotions, or global brands have started to bring their previously Asia-exclusive essence lotion products to Western countries. What makes these different from an acidic toner (such as Pixi Glow Tonic), is that in general essence lotions tend to be more on the hydrating side, and you also are encouraged to apply this by patting it into your skin with your palms rather than using a cotton pad.

In terms of how to fit this into your usual skincare routine, generally you want to use the lightest/most watery products first in your routine. I use my essence lotion after cleansing and after my exfoliating toner (such as the Pixi Glow Tonic), or to replace my exfoliating toner. Then I apply my serums and moisturizers, and sunscreen during the day. You can use essence lotions during the day and at night, and I love it for both.

Tatcha The Essence (C$114 for 150mL) was probably one of the launches by the brand that I was the most excited about. It contains 98.7% of Tatcha’s proprietary blend of Japanese superfluid made with green tea, rice, and algae. It is marketed as a skin plumping skin softener, which is a very Japanese skincare concept. I’m not sure if it was the hype or how much I was looking forward to this, I was actually just okay about it. It is completely scent-free, which I appreciate in the morning when my senses are just waking up, and it does do a pretty decent job at hydrating and softening my skin, in preparation of the next steps. That being said, for something to be called an essence, I expected a bit more than just basic hydration. I didn’t notice that it did anything to help smooth fine lines or firm my skin over time. It’s decent, but didn’t blow my socks off.

The La Prairie Skin Caviar Essence-in-Lotion ($330 for 150mL) contains primarily Caviar Water, which is active water infused with Caviar extracts. This is the thickest of all the essences here,it felt more like a light serum than a water essence. It used this on a trip to Toronto on a cold spell and I was very happy to say that it kept my skin feeling very hydrated, plump, and smooth. My skin was also smoother and more radiant after a few weeks of using this. That being said, it has a super strong scent that is very fragrant. I generally love La Prairie’s scents but this one seemed too potent and was a bit bothersome after a while. It does work, so if you are able to stomach the strong scent (and the price), then I would recommend this.

Newly released last year from Omorovicza is the Omoressence (C$150 for 100mL), a product developed in collaboration with a Hungarian Nobel-prize winning lab. This product contains primarily Hungarian Thermal Water, which will help to balance, hydrate, and prepare the skin for other products. It also helps to guard against environmental stress throughout the day. I love the way it smells, very fresh and energizing. I also love that it’s very nicely hydrating and helps to smooth my lines. It leaves my skin feeling moist, which is what I want after using an essence, and then other products cling onto it for better absorption. I’m a little bit disappointed that the bottle is a bit smaller than I was hoping – it comes in only a 100mL size, compared to other essence lotions which tend to come in bigger sizes.

An oldie but serious goodie is the Kose Sekkisei Lotion (C$57 for 200mL) and the Sekkisei Enriched Lotion (C$77 for 200mL). These were one of the first essence lotions that I was ever exposed to, so I’m very happy that they are now available in Canada through Shoppers Drug Mart. These lotions were designed by the Japanese to create luminous, smooth skin. I use this as a toner at night because its not the most hydrating of essences. It contains quite a bit of alcohol, which may not be great for sensitive skin folks. It does a fantastic job at keeping my skin clear, even-toned, and also improving brightness.

I’ve also previously reviewed the Tata Harper Concentrated Brightening Essence, Pixi Glow Tonic, as well as some essences in spray form.

Do you use essence lotions in your routine? Which ones are your favourites?

Product received as PR samples for review consideration; all opinions are my own.

Treat yourself with a Garnier SkinActive Sheet Mask… without breaking the bank!

Sheet masks are the fastest and easiest way to treat yourself to a salon-quality facial without leaving the comforts of your own home… and without breaking the bank! Today I want to share with you three sheet masks from Garnier SkinActive that I’ve recently been introduced to. At $3.99 a piece, these sheet masks are incredibly affordable, and still deliver fantastic results.

The first one is the Moisture Bomb Glow-Boosting Super Hydrating Mask with Sakura Flower Extract and Hyaluronic Acid. This incredibly juicy sheet mask is chock full of serum, so much so that after 15 minutes, the mask is still dripping wet. It smells very fresh, with a light floral scent that isn’t overpowering. The mask textile itself is nothing special, like a cotton-fibre weave, but the fit is perfect for my face. It sticks to the contours of my face very well, and I didn’t once have to adjust it. I can do stuff around the house without worrying about it falling off. The serum is very lightweight and super skin-plumping. After one 15 minute session, I felt like my skin indeed felt a bit brighter, and significantly more hydrated.

Next we have the Moisture Bomb Anti-Fatigue Super Hydrating Mask with Lavender Essential Oils and Hyaluronic Acid. This is such a wonderful face mask to relax in after a long day at work. Similar to the Glow-Boosting Mask, the mask fits very well to the contour of my face, and is also drenched in hydrating serum. Again, this is a great face mask to use if your skin is feeling dry or dull. The amount of serum in the pack also makes it a great mask to use on airplanes because it won’t dry up as fast.

Lastly, for those who are looking for some skin purification, the Super Purifying Charcoal Sheet Mask with Black Algae, LHA and Hyaluronic Acid is amazing for those living in the big city and are in need of deep detox. It contains charcoal powder, pineapple fruit extract, and papaya fruit extract to exfoliate and purify the skin. For regular use, I found this to be a bit too drying for my dehydrated / dry skin type. That being said, I can see this mask being amazing for those who live in Toronto / Montreal during the summer where it is very hot and humid and there is significant pollution. I would probably also take this on vacation with me if I were to visit China or somewhere else that has a hotter climate with elevated levels of pollution.

For just $3.99 per mask, you really can’t go wrong with any of these. My top pick out of these three is the Moisture Bomb Glow-Boosting Super Hydrating Mask – it really helped to brighten and plump my skin.  You can pick these up now at drugstores and mass market retailers across Canada, including London Drugs, Shoppers Drug Mart, and more.

Product received for review consideration; all opinions are my own.

Review + swatches – Dior Summer 2018 Cool Wave collection

Dior Summer 2018 makeup collection review and swatches

I was super lucky to receive a few products from the Dior Summer 2018 Cool Wave collection to share with you. Dior’s summer collections usually tend to be similar to fashion’s resort collections, featuring bright colours and beautifully tanned skin.

The first two products I want to share are the Dior 5-Couleur Eye Shadows (C$73) in shades 367 Cool Down and 597 Heat Up. Cool Down is, of course, the blue-toned palette, featuring all shimmery shades of blue. Heat Up is a beautifully warm-toned palette featuring shimmery corals, gold, and warm browns.

For a blue-based eyeshadow palette, Cool Down is actually surprisingly beautiful. I used to be drawn to blue shadoww palettes way more when I was younger, but I’ve fallen out of love in the last few years. I’ve also owned a number of Dior blue shadow palettes and this one is probably the best quality I’ve seen in a few years. Normally Dior blues tend to be chalky, sheer, and not very blendable, whereas Cool Down applied and blended beautifully.

Heat Up is my absolute favourite though out of the entire collection. I was gawking at how beautiful the shades were, and how smooth and buttery it all applied. The burnt red-orange in the middle of the palette had a bit of gold flash as well, which worked very well to tie all the colours together. The one shade that was a low-performer was the highlight shade on the top right – Cool Down also had a similar highlight shade and it was also not the greatest.

Next, we have two new products, the Diorshow Cooling Sticks (C$41). These are creamy eyeshadow sticks that feel cooling upon application. The two shades I have are 001 Bronze Wave and 003 Fresh Pink. Bronze Wave is a pretty neutral-toned bronze, and Fresh Pink is a metallic cool-toned light pink. I love Bronze Wave as I can wear this on its own as a quick eye look – it blended so seamlessly to create an easy neutral eye. Fresh Pink is a bit too cool-toned and a bit too light for me so I don’t really use this as much on its own, but it does look nice as an inner corner highlight.

There are a few lip products to pick from to complement the eye look. The three formulas available this season are the Dior Lip Maximizer in a limited edition 011 Pool Blue shade, as well as the Dior Addict Lip Tattoo in four different shades, and the Dior Addict Lipstick in two shades. The Lip Maximizer (C$42) in the limited edition Blue Pool is really cool. Its a super sheer baby blue gloss with subtle shimmers, and it also has lip plumper properties. A few years ago, blue gloss was super popular and several brands released blue glosses, and I remember really wanting one to try. The blue tint helps your teeth look brighter, which is pretty cool. This gloss isn’t too sticky either, which is good for someone like me who isn’t too into gloss.

The Dior Addict Lip Tattoo (C$37) shade I have is 571 Cranberry, which is a really nice mauve-y dark pink. The other shades are 341 Litchi, 551 Watermelon, and 641 Orange. I love the Lip Tattoo formula – it is an incredible lip stain that feels cooling on the lips and leaves a stain that lasts all day, through meals. The Dior Addict Lipstick (C$44) comes in two shades – 040 White Splash and 411 Nude Chill. White Splash is the one I have and it’s a clear lipstick with mint extract and subtle blue shimmers, which again helps to plump the lips and brighten teeth.

For the nails, there are also three Dior Vernis (C$34) shades available 404 Splash, 541 Wizz and 894 Blop, in blue, orange-coral, and pink tones, respectively. Lastly, for your face, you can also upgrade your bronzer to the Diorskin Mineral Nude Bronze (C$58), available in four shades to suit most skin tones.

My top picks are the 5-Couleur Eye Shadow in 597 Heat Up, Diorshow Cooling Stick in Bronze Wave, and Dior Addict Lip Tattoo in 571 Cranberry. I would skip the Dior Addict Lipstick in White Splash since it’s basically just clear.

The Dior 2018 summer Cool Wave collection is available after April 13 in Canada, at Holt Renfrew, The Bay, Nordstrom, Shopper’s Drug Mart, and other places where Dior Beauty is sold.

P.S. My apologies for the quality of today’s photos. I could not find my SD card so I had to use my phone to take photos instead…

The swatches

5-Couleur Eye Shadow in 597 Heat Up

Dior Summer 2018 makeup collection review and swatches

5-Couleur Eye Shadow in 367 Cool Down

Dior Summer 2018 makeup collection review and swatches

Diorshow Cooling Stick in Bronze Wave and Fresh Pink, Lip Maximizer in Blue Pool, Dior Addict Lipstick in White Splash , and Dior Addict Lip Tattoo in 571 Cranberry

Dior Summer 2018 makeup collection review and swatches

Product provided for review consideration; opinions are my own.